Drumbeat: August 11, 2009

Mexico Oil Production to Fall 4.9%, Drop Through 2012

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s oil production may fall 4.9 percent next year as the nation faces the greatest “fiscal shock” in 30 years, said Finance Minister Agustin Carstens today before a Senate committee.

Lower output is costing the nation as much as 300 billion pesos ($23.05 billion) in lost sales annually and may contribute to a financing gap in the federal government’s budget next year, Carstens said. Oil revenue funded about 38 percent of the government’s budget last year.

Ugandan oil contracts to remain secret

Uganda will not reveal details of its oil exploration and production sharing agreements with foreign companies because its bound by confidentiality clauses, the minister of energy and minerals development Hilary Onek said today.

Onek told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview that revealing details of the oil deals would not be in the best interests of the government or oil companies

"Production sharing agreements are confidential, and we shall not reveal them to protect our interests as well as those of the private players in the sector," he said.

NRDC: Ga. vulnerable to oil price jumps

Georgians spent 6.71 percent of their income on gasoline in 2008, making it one of the ninth-most vulnerable to oil price increases in the United States, according to analysis by the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report, “Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States’ Oil Vulnerability and Solutions for Change,” also shows Georgians on average spend $2,278.90 annually on gasoline.

Georgia ranked third on the list in 2007 and 2006.

The top 10 states most vulnerable to oil price increases are, in order: Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Georgia, and Arkansas.

A Record for Wind in Ireland

Wind industry proponents have been celebrating a record set in Ireland on Friday, July 31, when output from the country’s turbines peaked at 999 megawatts, which is enough to supply over 650,000 homes.

“Much attention has focused on high wind penetrations in Denmark and Spain, but Ireland is emerging as another real world example showing that very high wind penetrations are achievable,” wrote Christine Real de Azua, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association, in an e-mail message to Green Inc.

Alaska Lawmakers Override Palin Veto of Energy Funds

The Alaska legislature has overridden former Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of stimulus money for energy efficiency.

Ms. Palin had turned down the $28 million in financing this spring; it was the only portion of Alaska’s stimulus package allotment that she rejected. At the time, she cited concern that stipulations attached to the funds would obligate Alaska to enact more stringent building codes.

Raising Wind Turbine Output With Longer Blades

A basic problem for wind turbines is that the wind often dies down. As a result, they produce far less electricity than if the wind blew constantly, at full speed.

A good wind machine, therefore, may harvest just 30 percent of its maximum potential energy. By contrast, a nuclear reactor with a similar energy rating might reach 90 percent of its maximum potential, because it is running virtually nonstop.

One major turbine manufacturer, Siemens Energy, is trying to increase the proportion of potential energy that the wind harvests — by making the blades longer. The new machines, by Siemens, all use the common three-blade design. But a new Siemens turbine has a rotor diameter of about 330 feet, rather than one with a 305-foot diameter.

TVA plans dry coal ash storage for all sites

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to convert all of its coal waste and gypsum operations to dry storage in the wake of a massive ash spill from a retention pond last year in Tennessee, a TVA official said Monday.

The English Encourage Urban Beekeeping

A new and improved design of beehive could be used by city dwellers to harvest up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of their own honey each year, according to Natural England, a British government conservation agency. The hives could also help stem the decline of bee populations.

Natural England will erect the so-called Beehaus on its roof in Victoria, central London, on Friday. The agency said the device should make it easy for anyone — from amateurs to seasoned apiarists — to help bees find a home in urban gardens.

ANALYSIS - Iraq on oil export high, needs overhaul for more

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq's oil exports have hit a post-war high, but its failure to attract the huge investment it needs to overhaul crumbling infrastructure will prevent it from becoming one of the world's top oil powers for some time.

The oil sector is dilapidated after years of sanctions and war, and output is unlikely to rise much further in the next three years despite long-term plans to more than double output.

"In the near term, Iraq is constrained in the volume it can export and consume," said Alex Munton, analyst at consultancy Wood Mackenzie. "They maybe could pump another few hundred thousand barrels per day through the northern pipeline. They're not going to get a lot more than that in the next 2-3 years."

Mexico sees its crude at $53 per barrel in 2010

MEXICO CITY, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Mexico expects its basket of crude oil exports to fetch around $53 per barrel in 2010, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said on Tuesday.

"We are going to use around $53 per barrel in our budget ... which is substantially lower than the $70 a barrel budgeted this year," Carstens said at a Congressional hearing.

Mexico relies on oil export revenues to fund more than a third of the federal budget. Oil production has fallen by more than a quarter since peaking in 2004, but the country remains one of the top suppliers to the United States.

Turkey Plays Both Sides on Gas Pipelines

Turkey has agreed to grant access to Russia's South Stream gas pipeline through its part of the Black Sea, in a move which could hurt the prospects of an EU-backed project to reduce Russian energy dependency.

The Turkish deal is a major breakthrough for the Russian pipeline, which has to cross the maritime economic areas of either Turkey or Ukraine, but with Ukraine very unlikely to give consent.

Putin and Ramirez talk shop

Russia will use the most modern oil extraction and processing technology if it wins access to Venezuela's oil deposits, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a Venezuelan official delegation today.

Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA and a consortium of Russian companies expect next month to present a joint venture that aims to develop the Junin 6 Block in the Orinoco oil belt.

Venezuela pushes on with Carabobo

Venezuela aims to finish the delayed bidding round for the Carabobo oil blocks in the Orinoco heavy crude region by the end of the year, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said in a newspaper interview printed today.

Venezuela last month delayed the auction indefinitely as lower oil prices made companies balk at some of the costs associated with developing the blocks.

The incredible shrinking home

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For the first time in almost 15 years, the size of new homes built in the United States is shrinking.

New homes are now 7% smaller -- or the size of one average-sized room. To be precise, the median square footage of newly built homes fell by to 2,065 square feet in the first three months of this year compared with the period of last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Argentina's cattle crisis

Besides wounded national pride, the bigger-picture problem is that the lack of export income from beef, along with the drop in grain prices and an existing budget crisis, could force Argentina to default, says Morgan Stanley economist Daniel Volberg. "It's bad enough you have started to a see a shift in people's tastes," he says.

In fact, some Argentine farmers have finally started to switch to the beef equivalent of a hybrid-car: mechanized grain feedlots and antibiotics for their cattle. It's antithetical to the grass-fed, chemical-free ideal that made their meat so special, sure. But it might be better than a growing dependence on foreign beef -- and another financial crisis.

Oil at $70 or above would hurt recovery: IEA

ISTANBUL - A fragile global economic recovery will be hurt if oil prices stay at $70 per barrel or rise higher, International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Economist Fatih Birol said.

He also said Europe was likely to face a glut of gas by 2015 and it may be hard to garner support for both the rival schemes for gas pipelines across Turkish territory, one of which is backed by the European Union, the other by Russia.

Kuwait says foils Qaeda plan to bomb U.S. Army camp

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait said on Tuesday it had foiled an al Qaeda-linked plan to bomb a U.S. Army camp and other "important facilities" in the OPEC oil exporting state.

An Interior Ministry statement said all six members of the al Qaeda-linked cell had confessed after being arrested. It did not say if the targeted facilities included oil industry plants in Kuwait, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.

MMS OKs Shell's Exploration Plan in Beaufort Sea

The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) has received Shell Offshore, Inc. Exploration Plan to explore two leases in the Beaufort Sea and has deemed it "complete."

The MMS has a 30-day time frame to analyze and evaluate Shell's plan. Included in its review, the agency will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) specific to Shell's exploration. Upon completion of the technical and environmental review, MMS must decide if the plan is approved, requires modifications, or is disapproved.

"The responsible development of offshore resources is part of our nation's comprehensive energy plan, which includes a renewed emphasis on conservation and an aggressive effort to develop renewable resources so we can move the nation towards energy independence," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Now that Shell's plan has reached this important milestone, we will review it carefully to ensure that it is technically sound and will protect the Beaufort Sea and Alaska’s environment."

B.C. emerges as natural gas player

The change from an import to an export facility is emblematic of the changing B.C. economy and the province's emerging role as a significant gas producer on a global scale.

Russia May Increase Crude Export Duty 8% on Sept. 1

(Bloomberg) -- Russia may increase the export duty on crude oil by about 8 percent after the price of its main export blend gained, according to the Finance Ministry.

The levy will probably rise to about $240 a metric ton ($32.74 a barrel) from $222 a ton on Sept. 1, Alexander Sakovich, deputy head of the ministry’s customs payments department, said by telephone from Moscow today.

End to retendering and renegotiations in sight: Analysts

UAE's construction sector will witness an end to retendering and renegotiation of contracts as prices of building materials have bottomed out, said senior industry executives. They also anticipate an upward movement of construction cost by the end of 2009.

Colombia claims that fuel smuggling will increase after Chávez's move

Chávez instructed Venezuelan officials on Sunday to end the sale of subsidized fuel to Colombian border departments, which currently pay USD 1.5 per gallon of Venezuelan gas versus USD 3.5 it costs in the rest of Colombia.

Natural gas, not so sustainable

What happens when the domestic natural gas wells run dry, though? Won't we simply be in the same position we find ourselves currently today? At least both Podesta and Chu refer to natural gas as a transition fuel (Pickens for that matter too), but our money, time, and effort could be better spent expanding clean energy in the form of wind, solar, biofuels, and geothermal as well as energy efficiency measures.

Malaysia: Avoid Major Energy Crisis For Our Grandchildren, Says Rosmah

BANGI (Bernama) -- The prime minister wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, on Tuesday stressed the importance of developing renewable energy to sensure the security of future generations.

"It is my sincere hope that we would able to develop green technologies and ensure energy sustainability," she said when officially opening the Institute of Energy Policy and Research (IEPRe) here.

Rosmah said that to achieve this, theer was a need to invest in renewable energy, solar, wind, wave and biomass.

"Lost" Solar House Reborn as 3 Megawatt Air Force Solar Installation

In the 1970's, the U.S Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs hosted a comprehensive research project on home solar retrofits. The idea was to improve energy efficiency in Air Force housing, which at the time numbered over 150,000 units. The lessons learned from the model solar home were soon buried when popular tastes turned to energy-hogging McMansions. But now, 30 years later, solar power has come full circle. The Academy is set to build a 3MW solar installation that will dwarf the earlier pilot project, providing solar energy not just for one home but for up to 7% of the entire educational complex.

Peak Oil Warning (audio)

Bruce Robinson from the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas spoke with 2SER’s Alex Angel.

Creating a Resilient, Natural 'World of Ends' Economy

However, I'm also a fan of the idea of a World of Ends as the future of business -- the idea that, thanks to Open Source and the Internet, one day every new venture might be created spontaneously as an online collaboration between potential producers and consumers identifying and then filling unmet needs. Is it possible, I wondered, for cooperative enterprises to self-organize around unmet community needs in such a way that no one needs to commit or accept responsibility for anything beyond completion of the next project? Could a whole economy operate without major institutions, without funding for capital projects and infrastructure and ongoing working capital, without commitments for continuity of supply? Is it possible to create a society so resilient that it has no commitments, so that it can therefore "turn on a dime"?

John-Paul Flintoff: 10 reasons not to buy my new book

You're already aware that the arguments applied to (or against) consuming local, seasonal and organic food apply equally well to clothing. You don't need me to tell you that flying cotton round the world is as bonkers as flying apples.

Heinberg interviewed on Santa Fe Public Radio

"What we really want to know about coal is not when is it going to run out, which is all that the US Department of Energy will tell us, but when is production going to peak? And its just within the last few years that studies have been done, not by US government, but by independent agencies including the Energy Watch Group in Germany, that suggest that global coal and US coal production will peak startingly soon. For the world as a whole something like 2025."

Salazar to highlight water challenges in West

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday that the West's limited water supplies face growing pressure from agricultural uses, changing demographics and climate change -- underscoring the need for more federal money for water projects.

Brazilians Take Global Warming Seriously. Much More than US or European Citizens

In Brazil only 20% of people were concerned about the environment before president Lula Da Silva's election (2002), and now up to 90% agree in calling Global Warming a problem. On the opposite side, while from 2002 to 2007 environmental concern rose from 23 to 37% in the US, it went from 47 to 44% in the period 2007-2009 as the economy crumbled.

Apart from that, Brazilians are more willing to make sacrifices for the environment: while 48% say they will pay more for energy, food, etc. to fight global warming, only 41% of Americans agree to that. And while 79% Brazilians are also willing to cope with slower growth and job creation to protect the environment, only 64% of Americans say they would do it.

'Storm and tempest rages' over carbon plan

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has blasted the Opposition for having no firm position on the Government's emissions trading scheme, which is set for defeat in the Senate this week.

Debate on emissions trading dominated today's Question Time, which was momentarily disrupted when the chamber was plunged into darkness because of a power blackout.

Oil seen above $100 by 2011 on shortages: Bernstein

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices may rise above $100 a barrel by early 2011, as global demand rises and producers fail to boost supply, Bernstein Research forecast on Monday.

Oil prices in the near-term should remain at or below $75 a barrel, moving higher in 2010 as global demand grows, and into triple-digits by late 2010 or early 2011, as demand outpaces supply, Bernstein analysts said.

"We believe that the stage is set for a sustained commodities bull run," Bernstein said in a note to clients.

"Demand will likely be better in late 2009/early 2010 than consensus estimates assume, and this combined with non-OPEC supply reductions should cause spare capacity to decline in 2010."

Coal's Future Wagered on Carbon Capture

Coal companies and environmentalists alike are counting on a breakthrough in carbon capture and storage technology to siphon off harmful emissions from the world's coal plants. Coal plants in the United States account for a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions. In the past five years China has brought online coal-fired electricity equal in size to total U.S. installed capacity, and new plants are coming online in the developing world all the time. Without a breakthrough on coal plants, it may be impossible to meet emission limits climatologists say are needed.

Yet carbon capture and storage remains the elusive holy grail of the coal industry, an idea that could contain the damage inflicted by coal-burning power plants but a technology that remains expensive, energy intensive and largely untested. Even optimists say it will not be commercially available for another six to 10 years. Pessimists say it might take much longer, and may never be ready for widespread use without attaching a punishingly high price to carbon.

OPEC to Keep Output Unchanged, Merrill’s Blanch Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably keep output levels unchanged when it meets next month, according to Francisco Blanch, head of global commodity research at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

“OPEC probably stays put and that continues to keep upward pressure on prices,” Blanch said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “Certainly no more production cuts at this stage, no more are necessary.”

OPEC sees demand for its oil falling further

LONDON (Reuters) - Rival oil supplies and the sluggish pace of recovery in world consumption will shrink demand for OPEC's crude oil next year, the producer group said on Tuesday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also left its forecast for total world oil consumption this year and next unchanged, suggesting the outlook has reached a turning point after months of lowering forecasts.

Pickens: I'm long oil

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Oil man turned wind power fan T. Boone Pickens sees the price of a barrel of oil rising slightly to $75 by the end of this year and $85 next year.

"I'm long oil," said Pickens in an interview on the sidelines of U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid's National Clean Energy Summit, a meeting of industry leaders and policy makers.

Kuwait Cuts September Crude Oil Price to Lowest in Seven Months

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait Petroleum Corp. cut its crude oil official selling price to the lowest in seven months because of reduced demand from refineries in Asia.

The state-owned company lowered the price to a discount of $1.50 a barrel to the average of Persian Gulf benchmarks Oman and Dubai grades, from parity in August, according to an official who asked not to be identified because of company policy.

Kuwait eyes oil price of $70 to $90

An oil price of $70 to $90 a barrel in 2010 would be acceptable to Opec-member Kuwait given the state of global finance.

U.S. Crude-Oil Supplies Rose Last Week, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. oil inventories probably rose last week as traders took advantage of a price structure that provides an incentive to store crude, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Inventories increased by 1 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 7, according to the median of nine estimates by analysts before the Energy Department’s report this week. It would be the third consecutive gain. Seven of those surveyed said supplies climbed, and two forecast a drop.

“People are more willing to store their oil now, and, consequently, I’m expecting that inventories are going to rise,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

For Africa's poor, oil is no gift

LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria and Angola are Africa's top two oil producers, yet most of their people live in wretched poverty, often in shanties dwarfed by fire-belching derricks.

Corruption has long kept oil revenues from making life better for ordinary people in the two countries, and the growing anger, which swells the ranks of militant groups, creates instability that threatens the world's fuel supply. This week it is drawing the attention of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she travels across the continent.

Russia says Ukraine putting gas to Europe at risk

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Ukraine on Tuesday of seeking to disrupt economic ties with Russia and putting at risk the safety of gas supplies to Europe.

In an open letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Medvedev said he would postpone sending a new ambassador to Kiev and that Moscow hoped a new Ukrainian leader -- due to be elected in January -- could improve bilateral ties.

Shell Pipeline Attacked in Nigeria

LONDON -- A natural gas pipeline serving a plant operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC has been attacked by locals in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian army said Tuesday, underscoring the ongoing risk of violence despite a cease-fire.

Joint Task Force spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar said "there was an attack by the locals" over the weekend on a pipeline serving the Utorogu gas plant in Delta State, in the western part of the region.

China Imports Record Oil, Iron Ore as Economy Expands

(Bloomberg) -- China bought record volumes of oil and iron ore in July as automakers, steel producers and builders expanded output to meet rising demand driven by the nation’s $586 billion stimulus spending.

Oil imports jumped 18 percent to 19.6 million metric tons, and iron ore purchases rose 5 percent to 58.1 million tons from a month ago, the Beijing-based customs said today on its Web site. The second-largest energy user and biggest iron ore buyer spent a combined $13.8 billion on the commodities.

The mystery of China’s disappearing mega oil-bid

There’s obviously a lot of damage-control going on in China, and possibly in Argentina and Spain, following a report on Tuesday - and a denial - of talks over what could rank as the energy deal of the year, and one of China’s biggest overseas investments.

The mystery - apart from whether the talks are on or off - is why Chinese companies would want to pay $17bn for less than premium upstream and downstream oil resources?

China quietly reshapes Asia

China on April 21, 2009, formally concluded an agreement to lend US$25 billion to Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and pipeline monopoly Transneft in exchange for the completion of an oil pipeline from Skovorodino in Russia to Daqing in China. Russian commentators claim that the deal was not commercially favorable to China. That contention, however, is arguably misplaced.

Admittedly, the price of the oil was set at the floating price of Brent crude oil when it arrives at the projected Kozmino Bay terminal and Russia has finally gained an Asian entree for its energy exports. Yet, while Chinese leaders may cringe at the deal's price tag, Beijing has gained serious geopolitical advantages over Moscow in the Russian Far East (RFE) because of the effect that the global economic crisis is having on the latter's economy and on Moscow's ability to control the RFE.

Why Have Crude and Gasoline Prices Doubled This Year?

Gas prices are up 14 cents per gallon in the last 10 days across the country but crude oil has remained steady around $70 a barrel since the beginning of July. The American Petroleum Institute’s spokesman John Felmy would like you to reason that when the price of crude oil fluctuates up or down, it will have the same effect on the pump price for gasoline. However, that has not been the case so far in 2009.

Sinopec's refinery no longer slated for frail delta

BEIJING -- China's second-largest oil company, Sinopec Group, Monday said it had amended plans for a $9 billion refinery in Guangdong province - stepping back from the idea of building on an environmentally-sensitive site.

The refinery, a joint venture with Kuwait, will now be built in Zhanjiang instead of in Guangdong, said a company statement.

Strong quake rattles Tokyo, disrupts transport

SHIZUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – A strong earthquake jolted Tokyo and surrounding areas early Tuesday morning, throwing food and bottles from store shelves, disrupting transport and closing a nuclear power plant for safety checks.

The magnitude 6.5 quake centered around 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Tokyo damaged the main motorway south from the capital and prompted a brief suspension of high-speed train services, but there were no reports of major casualties.

Atlantic Depression Forms, May Become First Tropical Storm

(Bloomberg) -- A tropical depression formed off West Africa and may become the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The depression, the second of the June 1-Nov. 30 season, developed today and was about 280 miles (455 kilometers) west of the southernmost Cape Verde islands at 6 a.m. Miami time, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on its Web site.

US and Mexico probe Pemex oil thefts

At least one US energy industry executive has pleaded guilty in a scheme to steal about $2 million worth of petroleum products from Pemex and sell it to US refiners.

Donald Schroeder, president of Houston-based Trammo Petroleum, pleaded guilty in May to smuggling stolen petroleum products, including condensate, from Pemex, according to court documents. Schroeder is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

GM says Volt to get 230 miles per gallon in city

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. said Tuesday its Chevrolet Volt rechargeable electric car should get 230 miles per gallon of gasoline in city driving, more than four times the mileage of the current champion, the Toyota Prius.

Family that's making the Transition to a better life for the world

"We are facing the growing challenges of climate change and need to start looking at ways of combating it.

"The issue of Peak Oil is also a factor in us wanting to create a more sustainable future. Experts predict that between 2012 and 2025, the demand for oil will continue to rise while the supply will dwindle, sending prices rocketing, which will affect the price of food.

"That is something we have to be prepared for."

Low pricing key in solar sector crisis: UBS

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Investors should look for solar companies offering their products at lower prices compared with their peers, as they are likely to emerge as winners from the current industry crisis, a UBS fund manager told Reuters.

"Companies with either a unique offering, strong (balance sheet), healthy order book, access to end customers and low pricing will most likely be the winners," Jan Peterhans, manager of UBS' Global Innovators Fund, said in an interview.

Atlantic Salmon returns to Seine

PARIS (AFP) – After an absence of nearly a century, Atlantic salmon have returned to France's Seine River, with hundreds swimming past the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral this year alone, researchers told AFP.

The reappearance of salmon and other species chased from these waters by dams and pollution is all the more remarkable because no efforts have been made to reintroduce them.

They came back on their own.

Humans 'Damaging The Oceans' In Profound Ways

A new review, published in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology, says that rates of physical change in the oceans are unprecedented in some cases, and change in ocean life is likely to be equally quick.

These include changes in the areas fish and other sea species can inhabit, invasions, extinctions and major shifts in marine ecosystems.

“In the past, the boundaries between geological ages are marked by sudden losses of species. We may now be entering a new age in which climate change and other human-caused factors such as fishing are the major threats for the oceans and their life,” Andrew and Mike say.

The Case for a Carbon Tax to Control Climate Change (Part I)

Cap-and-trade is very complicated and little understood by the public, creating an ideal environment for horse-trading by special interests.

The Case for a Carbon Tax to Control Climate Change (Part II)

In contrast to cap-and-trade, carbon usage fees are relatively transparent, making it harder for greenhouse gas-producing interests to finagle sweetheart deals at the climate’s expense.

Equally important: A carbon-based tax addresses people’s resistance to bearing additional costs directly.

House's global warming bill: $8B

It will cost nearly $8 billion over the next decade to pay for the expanded federal bureaucracy needed to combat global warming under a bill passed by the House of Representatives, a report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says.

The budget office also found that the House bill would shrink the federal deficit in that 10-year period because it requires businesses to buy permits to emit global-warming pollution. That would add hundreds of billions of dollars to federal coffers.

Climate Change as Security Threat Is Nothing New

Why the seemingly "new" interest by the Pentagon on climate? Perhaps because the price of inaction may be seen as hitting closer to home. It's not just the vulnerable regions on other continents -- sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, among others -- that will suffer the consequences of climate change. It's here on domestic soil. "A growing number of policy makers say that the world’s rising temperatures, surging seas, and melting glaciers are a direct threat to the national interest," reports the Times, adding: "If the United States does not lead the world in reducing fossil-fuel consumption and thus emissions of global warming gases, proponents of this view say, a series of global environmental, social, political and possibly military crises loom that the nation will urgently have to address."

Climate, Security and Politics

Even if the legislation took effect and emissions were curtailed, the world would still see disruptive pressures building in places already facing severe drought and flood risks with or without the added kick from greenhouse warming. Africa’s population could easily double by midcentury, and recent research has shown that its most volatile region, along the south flank of the Sahara, faces the inevitability of epic droughts.

Another reality is that while worries about climate-related instability are rising, near-term concerns about energy insecurity are already a top-tier issue both here and in China, the two dominant contributors to the planet’s greenhouse-gas blanket. China has made it clear lately that energy security there trumps climate concerns.

Climate change an Australian 'security threat'

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia faces more intense and frequent heatwaves, wildfires, cyclones and floods, with climate change becoming a threat to national security, a think-tank warned Tuesday.

The impacts of global warming were already making themselves felt, much faster and with greater ferocity than anticipated, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) said.

Abiotic Oil rears it's ugly head again.


When you read the comments I guess educating about PO is difficult to say the least, though a few do get it

The thing that has been eye opening for me with the discussion about health care is how incredibly stupid some people are. And they cling to stupid ideas with a death grip - I guess the thinking is that if they shout down everyone else that they have somehow won the debate. They seem to be impervious to logic of any kind - they just shout their nonsense even louder, but in this case there are people in the media who are really more responsible for inciting these riots. Sort of like a hybrid between high-school debate and the WWF.

We have the same problem here. There are lots of people who don't want peak oil to be true (given a choice, who would really want it, really). But to the idiots in the world, any higher prices or scarcity of oil is either price gouging or the fault of environmentalists.

Sorry - I am just in a crappy mood today...

Sorry - I am just in a crappy mood today...

That makes at least two of us :-(

People in the comments shouting that "peak oil is a scam" appearantly forget that US oil peaked in 1970, not being replinished from the oily soft nougat centre of the earth. But that's just minor details of course. Idiots.

And people who claim that peak oil will keep going away into the future as our technology improves and as we find new oil fields and as the oil price climbs forget that at the peak of the lower 48 production in 1970 (exactly as predicted by Hubbert) you had the following situation. The U.S. peak oil was threatening (if you were familiar with Hubbert) but we were at the dawn of the greatest technology revolution in history. The massive Alaskan oil was found and piped right down to the lower 48. Hubbert did not know about Alaska and our nearly 40 years of a tech boom since our peak. Also relevant, in 1970, oil was selling for about $3 a barrel and the next 40 years saw a 2400% price increase. So was there a flood of oil coaxed from our ground totally messing up Hubbert's curve and peak? No, some 40 years later, the production profile, except for an Alaskan bump on the decline side, looks nearly identical to the one Hubbert drew in 1956.

Hubbert was correct about the peaking phenomenon, but he got lucky with the timing - accurately predicting the timing and flow rate of a country or world peak based on real world historical data is not possible since peak flow rate is caused by human investment decisions about how fast to exploit the ever more expensive resource and still make the essential profit.

'Peak oil' is about flow rates of crude oil and condensate (C+C), not 'all liquids'.

So, what C+C flow rate did Hubbert predict for the USA peak and what was the actual?

Also, Hubbert expected world peak to be about at about 50% URR, I suspect modern technology, hoarding and EROEI changes the economics such that world peak C+C will be closer to 70% URR with a steep decline rate. Add in ELM post world peak for nations requiring to import a large % of their oil for a difficult scenario!

So, what C+C flow rate did Hubbert predict for the USA peak and what was the actual?

Xeroid, Hubbert predicted the peak in flow rate not the amount! That is what all peak oilers mean when they talk about peak oil, the peak in flow rates. The amount is another matter altogether. However common sense will tell you that when flow rates peak they will be less every year after that.

Ron P.

Did you read his paper? I guess not!

He predicted ~3 billion barrels/yr at peak, the actual was ~4.1. The reason he was so far in error? His reserves data, knowlege of technology and the amount of investment to be used was faulty! Hence my reason for saying he got lucky.

He also predicted a world peak flow rate in 2000 which was wrong - production is now ~140% of his prediction for the same reasons!

Constantly quoting Hubbert, when simple analysis shows him to be in substantial error, does not help the peak oil cause IMO.

All you need to know for peak oil is that the easy oil is produced first and gets gradually less and less affordable - eventually the consumer can afford less than last year, consumption peaks, as we have seen in the real world from the end of 2004.

So, because Hubbert did not have perfect knowledge of what would happen 50 years after he published his paper is bunk?

I personally think that hitting within 30% flow and +/-10 years based on the information available to him at the time was pure genius and validates his paper more than it invalidates it.

He could not know what technologies would come after he published. He could not know what reserve management plans would be pursued by various countries and companies at least partially in response to his publishing.

And he still hit the target nearly dead on for the US and well within an order of magnitude for the world.

I should wish that any of my work will ever turn out so well, and I doubt that you could do any better.

The problem is not getting me to believe in peak oil, I do. But you are correct I don't know what the future will bring any more than Hubbert did, any predictions I make will mostly be in error just like Hubbert's and easy to dismiss, any correct guesses will be put down to luck.

The problem is getting people who can't live their current lifestyles without adequate oil to understand - if 'peak oilers' give data from 50 years ago that is out by huge margins from what actually happened because of guessing, convincing people who don't want to understand will be impossible - trust me, I have seen policy makers use Hubbert's paper to show we don't have a problem with imminent world peaking.

IMO we need a plan 'B' to cope with peak oil and we don't have one other than going to war to take what we need!

The problem isn't with Hubbert's paper. It is what it is, and that is a genius bit of analysis and estimation.

The problem is communicating information about inevitable and irresistible trends to people who cannot believe in them because it would break too many other things they know.

People who cannot believe in something will hang their doubt on the smallest error, a misplaced comma, a bit of mispelling or grammar. There is no standard of evidence that is sufficient to convince them, and they will use any bit of evidence that could be possibly supportive of their position and refuse to look even one step past that.

To make matters worse, these people get air time and the confidence of most people because they speak in absolutes. They are supremely confident in their worldview because it is unassailable. They simply will not see or hear any evidence that contradicts them.

There are lots of people who don't want peak oil to be true (given a choice, who would really want it, really).

The only way that a rational, good willed person would not "want" PO to be "true" would be if there were no deleterious environmental consequences of releasing oxidized carbon into the atmosphere. As it is, the atmosphere & surface ocean are being poisoned with this pollution. Rapid climatic warming & the acidification of the oceans are very serious problems that trump human energy concerns. What need for fuel will there be if ecosystems collapse out from under us? The sooner the world runs out of the stuff the better off the biosphere will be.

a rational, good willed person

I almost snorted coffee when I finally parsed this.

Most people cannot be rational in the fully objective, well educated sense. I'd like it to be true, but I have too many relatives to remind me otherwise.

Even the best of us tend to walk around with blind spots you could drive a train load of high sulfur coal through without us noticing.

Fortunately, most people are good willed, or at least not so selfish that they willfully ignore the well being of others.

What this means is that it isn't "the people" that need to be educated and persuaded, but the leaders, or new leaders that are already persuaded need to come forward. Most of the people whose posts I read here are leader-types, whether they have felt the calling to do so or not. This means that the "education" process involves a bit more responsibility, as you are essentially asking most people to leave their current leader and follow you.

I know, it seems cynical of me to be saying these things, but if you meditate on your own thoughts and motivations honestly then look around you at how others behave and express themselves I think you will see the same thing I do.

This is, by the way, one of the reasons I feel no shame about suggesting that fellow posters run for public office if they are dissatisfied with the current leadership.

If you don't show up for the battle, you are guaranteed to lose.

Rapid warming or rapid cooling?


It must be all that extra CO2 that's making things cooler. Yeah, that's it!

Need I say more?

That was almost too perfect. :-)

Deny all you want,
... but you should visit our skeptic expert tank site that shows how glacier ice pack thickness keeps growing and growing on Mars ;-)

It's not called "global" warming for nothing...

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise really - nearly everything in this country has been reduced to nothing more than a sporting event where you're either a winner or loser. As others have pointed out on here at various times the USA is just jam packed full of adult-aged children with no ability to look at very complex issues with any kind of objectivity (no offense meant to some of the obviously intelligent and thoughtful children out there...)

As for important issues everything gets hopelessly muddled because equal weight is given to well researched scientific data, kooky ideas some drunk guy dreamed up five minutes ago, or even the "I can't decide" option given as choice # 3 in most "polls". So yes most of these debates degrade into finding out who can shout down others the longest and loudest... not that they ever win... they just exhaust everyone and endlessly delay anything getting done. This is the number 1 reason I think we will never do anything meaningful re: the various issues we discuss on TOD - every cause imaginable has a special interest group that sends their minions out to attack anything that ever gets proposed - there is no mechanism to act fast on these issues (unless it's something for the military or Wall Street, of course...)

Edit: I originally said that everything is now seen as a sporting event "where you're either a winner or loser" - I should have said that there's this perception that you're on the winning side or the losing side. But the "winners" very often have such short attention spans and such narrow focus that they can't understand that their pet causes often lead to big problems, maybe even for them, down the road...

ericy, "They seem to be impervious to logic of any kind", is correct. These are the same people that claim global warming is a hoax and think Obama will set up death panels to decide whether patients live or die based on their potential productivity. They believe the Earth and Universe are 4k years old and in abiotic oil.

In 1977 Carter gave his famous energy resource speech, but once the 'other' side of the equation got in, the solar panels came down from the White House and the renewable tax credits were eliminated. That ended the first green revolution, but fortunately a new one is under way. To what degree it can help now against the pressures of post peak oil and global warming is something we will find out if we don't allow the 'other' illogic masses to dismantle what's been started.


PaulusP -

Hey, don't feel bad. I just got done emailing the author of an article appearing on the Lew Rockwell website, a strongly libertarian website that has some very good political and economic commentary but tends to have a near total blind spot when it comes to energy and environmental issues.

Well, the author of this article claimed that wind turbines might be actually causing the earth to heat up because the added friction between the wind and the turbine slows the earth down, thereby allowing the sun to shine on a particular spot for a slightly longer period of time. ??????

Oh, where does one even begin? Anyway, I attempted to in my email, but I doubt it will change the author's mind. People like this can do so much unintentional damage as the result of reinforcing the beliefs of people who only believe what makes them feel comfortable. Countering this sort of stuff is an uphill losing battle, but one which nevertheless must be fought.

"Oh, where does one even begin? "

I find myself asking this more and more.

Global warming is caused by...air friction? Wow.

I saw a paper recently that claimed global warming is caused by waste heat from civilization. At least that idea has a superficial plausibility...

We need to leave our freezer doors open and A/C on then to remedy this.

Love Tom Toles!

Wonderful cartoon. Thanks for sharing it.

Oh wait, you mean the full oportunity cost analysis of mitigation vs adaption has allready been answered?

Mr. Toles is absolutely brilliant. Here's another personal favourite although, like potato chips, it's impossible to have just one.


Reading TOD is not addictive.

... OK it is. But now I'm hooked.

You have got to be kidding??!!
If there are enough fools out there that believe that absolute nonsense then we are doomed anyway.
That should be picked up by everyones first stage Bullshit filter.

porge -

I wish I WAS kidding. Check out the article yourself.


What I find a little scary about it is that the article is actually fairly well written, which I find more disturbing than if it were the illiterate rantings of some moron.

Off topic, but tangentially related to the subject of beliefs:

My take on these increasingly angry and almost violent health care 'town meetings' run by members of Congress is that they only superficially have much to actually do with health care. Rather, I think there is a barely suppressed seething anger amongst the US working class because it is become more and more obvious they are being screwed by the government in cahoots with the financial power structure. The right wing in the US has so far been fairly successful in channeling this anger toward Obama's proposed health care plan to undermine his administration for purely partisan political reasons. It will only get worse.

I fear the US is becoming like a crowded lifeboat filled with a dozen people who hate each others' guts. Rather than working together toward their common survival, the individual people in the lifeboat are fighting and trying to hog as much water and food for themselves as they can, and in the process wind up sinking their own lifeboat. It doesn't look good.

IMHO it doesn't matter who is up, Republicans or Democrats, I am angry about all the congress critters and I think a lot of others are too. I'm an old guy and I sure knew of better times for young and old alike. I attribute a lot of the problems we are having directly to both parties of congress, lawyers in general and bankers in particular. And no, I didn’t marry my cousin. :-) This anger is toward city council members who approve developments when most of the people don’t want them. Anger to state reps for not representing the majority. Anger toward the feds. I am very angry at 'the system' and I know lots of others too. If you know how to work 'the system', you can make out. Who invented the system? Who does not police the system? Certainly not me.

Example: Two legal Mexican/Americans here in Reno (the husband worked in the same place as my wife) have been living together for over 20 years and have four children and a very nice house. They will not get married because that will end the welfare checks (about $3K/mo), food stamps, free meals for the kids at school, free books, free tuition to college (2 in college), etc. He will retire next year and they are going back to Mexico and have the social security money sent there. The kids will be old enough to stay here and plenty smart enough to work 'the system' like their parents have.

Democrats would like to portray the anger as Republican instigated (yes, some of it is) but I believe most of the anger would be there anyway.

A few years ago the Mustang Ranch was taken over by the feds and the owner skipped to South America with the loot. A couple months later they shut the place down because they couldn't make money and/or sell it. If you can't make money with the most famous whorehouse in the world and selling whiskey, I'm supposed to think the fed can handle anything at all.

I don't trust the feds with healthcare because I believe they will give more and more tax money to the pharmaceutical companies who pay the congress criters. They have a record of screwing up that is unparalled. I am on government health care and it is not as good as the healthcare I had when I was working. Even my doctor is angry with 'the system', not because of the money but because of the hoops he has to jump through.

On and on …

Rant off/

Poor ole Obama, he's not getting any support for his health care reform from either the left or the right. I won't support anything less than a single payer government run program and you don't trust the government to do anything right. So neither of us are behind our president. That's what he gets for being such a sell-out.

People sometimes get the government they deserve.

That's what he gets for being such a sell-out.
No that's what you get for not compromising for a better outcome( not a perfect outcome).
You may end up with continuing the present system.

Lynford - A sound argument is a valid argument with true premises. There isn't a single point that is provable in your argument.

Maybe you're just angry...that's OK BTW.

Woody Allen had a great joke:

I used to go to a Freudian therapist that charged me $100 an hour until times got bad and I had to give it up. What I did was I got a tape recorder that I would talk to for an hour and the tape recorder would repeat over and over: "I know...I know...I know..."

;-) Joe

Hi Joe:

Didn't you know I am a famous economist and I don't need facts to make an argument? Since I always knock and never ring, I am in the running for the no-bell prize. I guess I will be some sort of laureate.

I notice that Denninger and Mish pretty much agree with me or vise versa. I'll leave it at that.

My rant is off now so "Cheers"


I too personally know of MORE THAN TWO FAMILIES- all of them nominally wasp-that are gameing the system for all it's worth.Thier take probably adds up to more than thier actually earned incomes. They live better than a lot of my relatives.Every body who is a poor but hardworking conservative who proudly pays his own way knows such people.

That has a hell of a lot to do with why they vote republican.

They know the rich have never paid diddly in taxes and see the dems as the enablers of the parasites
supported at thier expense.

Thier pov is that at least the pubs may leave them alone to eat or starve on thier own.And perhaps allow them to own a gun,which they do actually use occasionally to defend themselves while the cops are busy making sure no bums take short cuts thru the well to do nieghborhoods where the well to do live.

The Republicans have you had but good.

Not that the Democrats are any better, but the current mess is the finest example of truly bi-partisanship governing I've seen in my lifetime. Republicans and Democrats keep picking the same crop of Kleptocrats to guard our money.

Don't just be pissed at the Dems, or have you forgotten that "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke was a Bush appointee so quickly?

Quoth the 'pedia:
"Bernanke succeeded Alan Greenspan on February 1, 2006."


Not sure if your comment is meant for me but I personally have not been had.At election time I hold my nose and vote for whichever party seems to be the lesser of two evils at the moment.

Recently that's been the dems.

The poor people I refer to vote dem if on the take and pub if not -mostly-if they bother to vote at all.

Incidentally my knowledge of how the system is gamed is perfectly sound.One of the families I refer to is related and they are as they see it playing exactly the same game as every body else fattening up at the govt trough,especially the bueracrats who earn more than they possibly ever could while shuffling thier applications.THOSE 'crats are at he bottom of the crat heap but they enjoy basically free health care,regular hours,air conditioned offices,lots of paid holidays,and state pension benefits.Plus damn few of them have EVER been laid off.

And while they are not well educated,they are not stupid either,they know very well how the system has screwed them over from living and watching tv news,reading he occasional paper,listening to talk radio,etc.

Somebody with money for tickets and an appreciation of music or sports might think it's reasonable to spend tax money on an orchestra or a stadium but the average hillbilly sees both expenditures as corporate or personal welfare.

Personally I believe they have a good point.I enjoy music myself but I see no valid reaso why I should support musicans.Afaiac,they can get a real job,like me,doing something somebody else is willing to pay for.All the musicians I know work all day and play on Friday abd Saturday nights.

They are as cynical as you can get in this respect and not at all ashamed.They are PROUD that they are "getting laid"(enjoying sex with the system) in the fun sense from thier pov.Of course they are not prone to publicize thier game plan in public.

THAT might result in a loss of some benefits-concievably lots of benefits.

Reading comprehension fail, sorry about that.

Sounds like you know a few people that would fit right in with the current leadership.

That does, however, explain a lot that had been puzzling me. I don't run into a lot of people like that up here, even the folks in the trailer parks and the dives seem to be either working or not proud of the fact that they aren't.

Perhaps it's the hard winters. I've heard people say they keep the riff-raff out, maybe this is what they mean.

Heck, we even have a public option for health care and heating assistance for the truly poor, though those are always in danger of being cut.

When facing some medical situations for a child, we had multiple (like 10) doctors, social workers, and insurance people tell us we should get divorced. It's not like the "game" isn't well understood.


Most of the folks around here ARE working and proud of it and they do look down on he ones that don't work.

The ones that don't work are in some cases ashamed,in the same sense that some drunks or shoplifters are ashamed,but the ones who are privately(NEVER publicly)proud just look down on the rest CONDESCENDINGLY in the same way that lots of posters here look down on those who know less about climate change,or evolution,or peak oil.

They are quite sure that they are SMARTER than the rest of us.That's what they are proud of,not getting the money.I should have made that clear the first time.

Perhaps they are smarter.

I have never personally known one to go to jail for gameing the system,and I certainly don't think they are going to burn in hell either.

I'm reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It's a timely read.

Her take is that the productive members of society are dupes who feed the leaches. If producers all quit, then the leaches starve. Producers feel a moral sense to be productive, which isn't shared by the leaches.

I read the book in college and apparently the logic stuck. I don't feel remorse watching the system depolymerize. The leaches in the book are constantly calling for action to solve the problems of the day. The heros in the book ignore them. When heros quit, they definitely do not become leaches. Rather, they refuse promotions, quit and take up gardening, or disappear.

Her essay on oil decline is facinating. The primary producer boosted production from an old field with EOR. When he was forced out of business and his oil disappeared from the market, all the secondary producers saw their income jump. Then customers went bankrupt and costs ran out of hand, so income evaporated.

You can do anything with time, imagination and energy, or at least two out of the three. Replace the imagination shortage with an energy shortage and Atlas Shrugged becomes a Peak Oil primer.

Cold Camel


When you are finished with Atlas Shrugged,I suggest you read Anthem and We if I remember the titles correctly.It's been a while.

I personally gaurantee you will be glad you read them,but you may lose a little sleep as a result.

I'm reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It's a timely read.

Her take is that the productive members of society are dupes who feed the leaches.

Except she gets is exactly backwards. The 'captains of industry' she lauds are actually the crooks and Joe Schmoe wage earner is the dupe who needs to shrug off the system but is brainwashed into thinking the system works for him.


That wasn't a shrug.
It was a giant methane fart.

Think of all the "Titans" of industry.
How many of them turned out to be crooks and fakes?

Never mind the Objectivism. Try to remember the following instead:
Global Crossing
World Com
Madoff Investments
General Motors
Countrywide Bank

Need we keep going?
How many of these buttocks flexing "Atlases" can the planet sustain?

Oh, she definitely had some good perceptions.

She was just horrible at casting.

Of those companies, only one actually built products (GM), and they aren't so much crooks or fakes as incompetent, leveraging an anachronistic business model impeded by an antiquated union structure. WCOM and Enron were actually viable businesses that were destroyed by greed and corruption -- they would likely have existed as smaller healthy companies in other hands. I don't know much about GC.

To me, better "titans" would be struggling manufacturers -- Caterpillar, Nucor, Hubbell -- not sexy but important. I'd put GE at the top of the list of valuable companies except I think they've caught the finance-company-shell disease, which is a blight that will likely destroy a majestic company just when when we need it.

Here's a thought question I wrestle with: How many US companies are there that could undertake the design and construction of a new nuclear plant, wind or solar farm, or a Hoover dam, including transmission lines, as a crash-project? I bet there aren't many. I don't think Atlas Shrugged....instead, I think he lay down to bleed out from a thousand paper cuts inflicted by regulators, taxes, lawsuits, resource cost surges, mismanagement, poorly prepared workers, and finally, accountants and bankers.


Today I agree with you.

Just because Atlas's triumphs have been hijacked by bean counters and parasites is no reason to derogate the real accomplishments of industrialization.

Probably ninety nine percent of us here on he Oil Drum would either never have been born ,or else DEAD,DEAD,DEAD, already except for Watts and his steam engine.Personally
i would like to live a little longer yet!

And somehow I have a feeling that about 95 plus percent of the people who go around condemning Rand have never read her work .

I have,and she is the best I have ever read in drawing a picture of what can happen when the bueracrats and the twenty somethings waving thier MBA'S gain control.

PARDON ME,TECHNOCRATS,DOOMSTERS,ETAL,BUT ATLAS SHRUGGED IS A FUCKING NOVEL.It's not a research paper.It's not a history book.It's just a vision of what might be,as seen by the incredibly talented woman who wrote it.It's highly relevant to the state of affairs of the world today-but only if you READ IT.

Sorry I have never used that word here before and I promise to never use it again.

I'll confess. I haven't read the whole thing (Atlas has a Tick).
As I recall, John Gault is this super-human who invents perpetual motion motors. He is indispensible to the world. When he runs off to his "Gultch", the rest of the world comes to a screeching halt because this most special and unique person has said, "No I won't. I won't do it all anymore for all you totally incapable leeches."

Well guess what? That's not the way the real world works. Gault doesn't flip the hamburgers at McD. And without the lowly flippers, the burgers don't get made. Gault doesn't fix the pot holes in the road. And without the lowly road crews, traffic doesn't keep flowing.

Nobody is indispensible (except all those underground people at the cemetery). Nobody is a I-did-it-all-myself super human. Ayn Rand has spun a fictitious super-hereo in a fictitious world that defies basic laws of physics and thermodynamics.

And we are supposed to worship this fictional spin structure as being prophetic and realisitc depiction of our world?

Atlas Shrugged isn’t class warfare, it’s producers vs. leaches, which exist in every class. Her heroes struggle because they can’t find competent workers at any level, they’ve all quit. Most of the industrial titans in the book are absolutely despicable. She chose ‘captains of industry’ as her protagonists because that’s what she felt would express her sentiments best. Don’t get hung up on just that.

And none of you praised her description of the governing class as looters and leaches. I stand with Ayn Rand that career politicians of both parties are a significant part of the problem. Today people are getting college degrees in politics. If this isn’t a ruling class, I don’t know what is. Only productive people ought to be able to run for office. They should have to own land, and should receive absolutely no benefits whatsoever. A plumber who saved his coin and built his house would and should qualify, but no, he can’t get elected because he’s not part of either machine. Someone who never earned enough to retire ought not to be deciding how to spend everyone else’s money.

A couple of years ago, United Way was forced to admit that many of their “charities” spent well over 90% of their funds on administration. The leaders of those funds are leaches. How do you identify the good charities when the system protects the leaches?

Of course Rand had a warped understanding of energy. Don’t get distracted by her John Galt super motor. She paints this optimistic future that has no basis on reality. But cold fusion could work just as well and prove her right. On the other hand, she paints decline vividly, and rips to shreds most who argue that decline can be a wonderful thing. The leaches don't want to destroy the producers, but they can't help themselves. It's happening today with bank bailouts, cash for clunkers, health care reform, you name it.

Cold Camel

I'll take a short snip from this online excerpt of Atlas:

Francisco turn[ed] to them with a gravely courteous smile [and replied}.

"So you think that money is the root of all evil? ... Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

So there is Ayn Rand's misapprehension of what money is.
It would be nice if what she said about money were true. But it's not. Money can be created (and often is) in our society, purely out of thin air with no assurance that the people who create it can make good on their promises.

Yes, she did clearly state there that money == value, which is clearly not true.

The inequality between money and value would be the basest root of our current financial crisis.

I went around and around with this topic with..........It think poster wrs about 2 months ago.
I tried to make the distinction between money and value and that money should not exists before value.
Money is suppose to represent PREVIOUS production and that is what gives it the value.

Money is suppose to represent PREVIOUS production and that is what gives it the value.

Exactly, and it is the fact that there is no hard relationship (and probably can't be) between money and value that complicates economic theory and so many other things.

There is an old post by Herman Daily on this site that details resource based economics.......at least in one form.
That in my opinion is the direction that we must head.
Capitalism has had it's day in the sun.

Except she gets is exactly backwards. The 'captains of industry' she lauds are actually the crooks and Joe Schmoe wage earner is the dupe who needs to shrug off the system but is brainwashed into thinking the system works for him.

This isn't the case. (lots of spoilers)

The heroine (producer) is certainly a "captain of industry", but her brother (leach) is her boss. Hank Rearden (producer) is a CEO, but his company is destroyed by his competitor Orren Boyle (leach) because he was able to successfully lobby for regulations which made Rearden's business unprofitable. John Galt, the novel's archproducer, has never held a position higher than engineer. The life changes which see the heroine go from COO of a large railroad to John Galt's maid are portrayed as positive. A number of other characters change from upper class to lower class occupations as well. It's not just that they're stopping the motor of the world; doing this is also what makes them happy. So economic status doesn't really have much to do with it.

Well, then get private health care.

Gotta love it. He sounds like Denninger on steroids.


I am disappointed with you today.Generally you are a very sharp guy,and I often learn something from your posts.

But you (and every body else apparently ) have failed to recognize that, although this guy is obviously convinced(or possibly not,he could be a paid pr type or possibly just a writer practicing his art ) that global warming is a joke,he is a capable writer and no nincompoop.He left a hole in his argument you can drive a battlship thru-the sun might shine on one side of the earth a fraction of a second longer if it slows but it will also be shaded on that side by precisely the same extra time interval.

The thing that has me laughing my butt off is that the know nothings as well as the well educated have taken this man seriously and he is somewhere whooping it up over a few beers with his buddies.
He will collect free drinks from now until eternity by telling this story.

Sometimes it helps to have a literary reading habit as well as a technical .

Every body needs to type s-a-r-c-a-s-m into his search engine.
Then go read Twain's little essay ,which I have mentioned here before,describing the petrified man.

Don't feel to bad,when I first read the Twain piece,I missed the point myself.The petrified man is thumbing his nose and waggling his fingers but I caught on the second time thru,wondering what was so good that I missed the first time.

Forewarned is forearmed.

And of course the folks who know nothing at all will see this story as quite a reasonable proposition,and swallow it just like that ole whale swallowed Jonah.

The ones who know no science but are both intelligent and suspicious of uppity environmentalists will look at it sarcasm,first class.

It's rich!

Seriously-we need to recognize that to an intelligent man with no education we are just another bunch of priests or hucksters or paid flacks out to put something over on him.

He feels the same way about lawyers,politicians,automechanics,and preachers-so long as the preachers belong to another denomination.His reasoning is internally consistent with his experience,and he cannot be faulted simply because he grew up in ignorance.

Don't ever underestimate the stupidity of the average American.
That is actually one of my investing maxims but it applies generally.

I fear the US is becoming like a crowded lifeboat filled with a dozen people who hate each others' guts. Rather than working together toward their common survival, the individual people in the lifeboat are fighting and trying to hog as much water and food for themselves as they can, and in the process wind up sinking their own lifeboat.

The Spirit in the Gene
has a good [scary] section about how species under population or social stress go into a self destruction mode of doing all the wrong things.

General Adaptive Syndrome (GAS! :)

   ...best documented in laboratory rats. In well-fed but extremely dense populations, social stress appears to trigger a broad spectrum of abnormal physiological responses such as glandular malfunction, inhibited sexual maturation,...       Social responses include increased aggression, infanticide and cannibalism, curtailed reproduction, [etc.]...

   We will see a gradual increase in the incidence of biological and social disfunction...

   He goes on to theorize that mysticism is one of those adaptive syndromes. So as things get worse we may see people starting to build, say, large stone idols to appease the gods.

   I suspect we will see more and more extremism, partisanship, and irrational "blind faith" in simple, biased answers to complex issues.

- Ron L
I just had my first
one hundred foot salad bowl.
Damn that was fresh stuff!

What the hell, why not throw the cornucopians a bone: there is CH4 production on Mars that looks a lot like leakage from underground reservoirs. There is no understood production mechanism for Martian CH4 (you could claim it is life but that still does not explain the odd source distribution since near surface production would not be distributed this way). We can see the structure of the CH4 sources thanks to another mystery, the extremely rapid destruction which cannot be explained by photolysis or oxidation (there is a very firm grip on this chemistry). Likely it is due to heterogeneous chemistry on dust aerosols but nobody has simulated this yet.

Anyway, it looks like CH4 may be produced in the Earth's interior through some abiotic process just like it was on Mars (the Martian CH4 is probably old since volcanism is dead or nearly dead on Mars).

What the hell, why not throw the cornucopians a bone: there is CH4 production on Mars that looks a lot like leakage from underground reservoirs. There is no understood production mechanism for Martian CH4 (you could claim it is life but that still does not explain the odd source distribution since near surface production would not be distributed this way). We can see the structure of the CH4 sources thanks to another mystery, the extremely rapid destruction which cannot be explained by photolysis or oxidation (there is a very firm grip on this chemistry). Likely it is due to heterogeneous chemistry on dust aerosols but nobody has simulated this yet.

While I'm personally hoping it's biogenic, an equally likely explanation you are overlooking is that it is due to the serpentinization of olivine. Water reacts with ultramafic rock, even at modest temperatures, and you get rxns such as 18Mg2SiO4 + 6Fe2SiO4 + 26H2O + CO2 → 12Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + 4Fe3O4 + CH4

Would there be any estimates of the amount of CH4 produced by this process on Earth? What fraction of natural gas is abiogenic?

Chevy Volt to get 230 mpg rating

The Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric car that's expected to go on sale in late 2010, is projected to get an estimated 230 miles per gallon, the automaker announced Tuesday.

That exceptionally high government mileage rating could give the Volt a major boost. For the first time, car buyers will easily be able to compare electric cars with ordinary gas-powered cars.

"Having a car that gets triple-digit fuel economy can and will be a game changer for us," said GM CEO Fritz Henderson.

Determining fuel economy for an electric car is a tricky matter, and General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency for years on the issue.

And does that take into account the coal plants needed to recharge these suckers? How about the $40,000 sticker price...? And, will GM even be a viable company in 2011 and beyond...?

And, will GM even be a viable company in 2011 and beyond...?

I sincerely hope not, because if it is, by Jevons' paradox we are sooooo fu....screwed...
"Lookie, lookie, I have 10-times more MPG! Now I can ride 20-times more! Hooray!"

No matter how it is looked at it is the spread out geography that is the achilles heel.
Having to drive long distances to do anything is the true problem.

No matter how it is looked at it is the spread out geography that is the achilles heel.
Having to drive long distances to do anything is the true problem.

By this do you mean the curse of suburbia, as J.H.Kunstler used to call it "as the greatest miss-allocation of wealth in history of the world"? If yes, then I totally agree. ;) It IS the true problem. Or at least one of them... And why? Because no matter how high MPG we get, we still need the same time to get from our suburban house to a mall and back, and we experience the same congestion (or even higher due to encouraged drivers by high MPG) on the way. :/

For many years I lived on the Navajo Reservation - about as far from suburbia as you can get - where it was 60 miles, one way, just to get a six pack of beer. That wasn't to town, mind you, just to the nearest liquor store. This was by no means the most remote part of the Rez, either. If I still lived there what would I have to do, drive to the beer store in my new Volt then sit there for a few hours while my battery recharged? Many Navajo people are stockmen & women who have livestock & hay to haul. What are they supposed to do, buy an electric truck? There are enormous coal fired powerplants around here the air pollution from which is horrible. There will need to be more of these filthy monstrosities when people all have electric vehicles to charge. Maybe if one lived in town & never went on road trips an EV would be practical (except for the price). For the Navajo and those who live among them, going back to horses makes more sense than an EV.

Pretty much by definition a vast minority of people live so remotely. If more people lived there they wouldn't be so remote.

Horses do make more sense for them (people living remotely in general, not the Navajo in particular), in more ways than the purely practical.

Maybe if one lived in town & never went on road trips an EV would be practical (except for the price). For the Navajo and those who live among them, going back to horses makes more sense than an EV.

For one the Volt is a plug in hybrid, i.e. once the charge is used up it reverts to ICE mode. Of course it is really pricey, I wouldn't expect to see any on the res. And remember the total energy consumption in electric mode is several times smaller than an ICE car (or pickup, which I think is the norm on the res), so the additional pressure on the electric supply is minimal. It is a step towards a lower environmental footprint, although not a huge one. If those who live in remote areas need to continue to use more traditional fossil fueled solutions, that shouldn't be a big issue as the numbers are small, as long as those that can transition to post FF transport do so, there should be plenty of oil left.

And remember the total energy consumption in electric mode is several times smaller than an ICE car (or pickup, which I think is the norm on the res), so the additional pressure on the electric supply is minimal.

Uh ... energy consumption is energy consumption ... gasoline, electricity, gerbils on a treadmill. It's all the same when measured in watts, or rather, watts per kilometer ... the result of the amount of force required to overcome the wind resistance, tire and drive train friction of a heavy vehicle + passenger.

Like a Volt.

It's all the same when measured in watts, or rather, watts per kilometer ... the result of the amount of force required to overcome the wind resistance, tire and drive train friction of a heavy vehicle + passenger.

Except that the efficiencies are dramatically different. Drive train resistance (including the motor) is very low for electric only, but very very substantial in an ICE powered vehicle. Thats how a hybrid vehicle -despite the fact that the round trip efficiency of charging the battery and then pushing the electric motor can substantially beat an ICE only vehicle. Plus the fuel=>electricty=>battery=>torque at the wheel efficiency is much greater than the
oil well=>refinery=>fuel=>engine torque=>wheel torque.

Note if you are using your vehicle for space heating,as in keeping the passengers warm on a subzero day, the ICE will then be more efficient, as what would normally be waste heat is utilized for space heating.

You're right about the efficiencies but, I don't agree that "drive train resistance" has much to do with it. True, an ICE has a few hundred more moving parts than an electric motor but, all the moving parts are well lubricated. If it's lubrication system (oil pump) fails the ICE will overheat and probably seize up within minutes.

The efficiency issue was beaten to death in the comments section on my guest post on Electric Commercial Vehicles, in particular the section starting with this comment by Engineer-Poet.

In summary, a typical ICE has a maximum thermodynamic efficiency of about 30% and in the case of an automobile, a minimum of 0% when the vehicle is not moving but the engine is running. On the other hand, it is possible to achieve average efficiencies of more than 70% with electric drive systems. It is by avoiding the use of the ICE in conditions where the efficiency is zero that, allows hybrid vehicles to "substantially beat an ICE only vehicle". In fact, the spectacular mileage figure of the Volt is due to the fact for a large part of the test cycle it will be operating in electric mode rather than "charge sustaining" mode, that is, it's ICE will not be running. The highway mileage is going to be far more normal, think 230/25 city/highway.

Alan from the islands

I don't see anything sustainable until the spacial order of man re-localizes and forms many smaller more self-sufficient nuclear (not physics, don't want to open that NIMBY worm can!) towns that can offer a reasonable lifestyle to the inhabitants without having to drive everywhere.

Jevon's Paradox is countered by time at that extreme. I put on about half the US average miles/year or less, and I couldn't drive 20 times more and still have time to do much of anything else.

and I couldn't drive 20 times more and still have time to do much of anything else.

Glad to hear that! ;) There -should- be some limit, of course, but I fear that people would continue the BAU because they are able to and hurt their environment in the process some more. Maybe in slightly reduced pace, but they still would. Oil saved in transportation will find its way into other businesses and will be burned/used. Or not..?

Someone will use it-- probably China or India.

That's why the goal has to be a world-wide phase out of extracting the stuff, along with coal, and eventually natural gas.

The fact that this simple and necessary move is not even brought up in almost any discussion is further evidence to me of how very doomed we are.

Yep, the ASPO Oil Depletion Protocol was the first postPeak infanticide; a murder victim strangled at birth by the cold-blooded PTB:


Years ago, when gasoline was (relatively) cheap, the greatest cost per mile for a new vehicle was depreciation. If the new Chevy Volt is priced at $40,000, I expect that the cost per mile will again be dominated by the depreciation, as these cars are just as likely to rust out as earlier ones. That is, unless GM actually decides to attempt to rust proof their cars, as Porsche did (does?). The batteries may outlive the body, which could provide an entire new source of income for the junk car world...

E. Swanson


I'm not even an engineer but in a few hours I can write a BUILDING CODE for automobiles that would make them infinitely easier to maintain,several times more reliable,good for an expected life of fifty years,updateable,etc.

And this code would require essentially zero new technology,excepting any that is included in a periodic update.

But no one will ever build it and only a small number of people would buy it because it would result in a generic car.No more work for the guys on Madison Avenue writing copy,one salesman for every six we have now,etc.Garages would be empty as Palin's head.

Fuel economy?State of the art.Pollution levels likewise.

If any one is interested I will post an outline.

Such an auto will not solve the climate change problem ,but it would help,and it would not solve the oil depletion problem ,but it would probably help in that respect too.

And we might as well face the truth;we are going to continue to build cars unless the economic engine throws a connecting rod.(For non gearheads this is about the worst possible mechanical failure of an ice and it usually happens abruptly with little or no warning.)

Yes, we certainly could do better at making fuel efficient cars that last a long time and are easy to maintain. As one gearhead to another, you might be interested in the high MPG motorcycle project I put together back in the 1980's. It achieved 235 MPG at a steady 55 mph. I started with a 100cc Honda dirt bike and de-rated the motor by changing the chain sprockets. I also built a complete aerodynamic shell around it. The point is that I'm sure that I could build a car that was much more fuel efficient than what's out there now. The result would be a lot like a GEO Metro or the original Honda Civic or maybe the new FIAT 600, but with much better aerodynamics. Sort of like the VW 1 Liter fore-and-aft seating vehicle which may go into production for 2010(?). Here are some photos.

E. Swanson

Yes, I have seen the VW and actually e-mailed the link to Kunstler. His response was that he was surprised that there weren't more efforts like this.
He didn't try to knock it down as some BS to keep BAU going.
This could actually be a huge part to a solution. Use these as primary commuter type transport and have real haulers in the garage for the occasional need.

Bd,Thanks for the links!

Now if this car were to be built with affordable alumnium and high strengh low alloy steel it would probably still get nearly the same fuel economy on the road and still get well over 100 mpg in urban driving.

And cost half as much to build probably.

Back when I lived in the city I had a Honda CB125 that would run seemingly FOREVER on a gallon of gas if you stayed below thirty five mph.I rode it mostly because I could ALWAYS find a parking spot.

We can't have it both ways. Complain when GM kills the electric car and then complain when they make the Volt. Let's give GM credit for what may be a great vehicle that will reduce foreign oil dependence, and is certainly more energy efficient than the usual Detroit gluttonous SUV.

I agree, but isn't this just another case of watching dinosaurs mating?
Maybe we should just skip this last delusion of saving a BAU outlook, and just abandon the idea.

Electric cars should be useful as a bridge technology during the transition to whatever the next metastable state turns out to be.

It isn't a matter of "everything stays the same" or "everybody dies".

Change is inevitable. Improvement isn't, and there are different definitions of what improvement is to make matters worse.

I see your point, it's just a mater do we have the resources and financial organization to keep this boat floating that long?
I don't know, and I think we need to take everything out of the box to examine.

Probably not.

I personally consider EV's to be a more robust transportation solution than IC vehicles. There are a lot more ways for a knowledgeable person to get 48VDC at a reasonable current than there are to obtain gasoline or diesel fuel.

That is why I personally am happy to see more EV production, regardless of the source.

That is beautiful.

Natural gas has to be the main bridge to whatever gets developed with adequate EROEI and scale 30 years from now for oil replacement. It is the only thing clean enough, massive enough in the here and now, and net energy positive enough to deal with the oil production collapse just ahead. It did my heart good to see Cramer and his quests put forth the Pickens view on Mad Money in some of his recent shows, including today's show. The CEO of Clean Energy Fuels seems to think that this nat gas bridge situation is dawning on Washington finally. There's a good article here called "The Bridge Is Out" showing how critical natural gas is. It links to an article "The Alternative Energy No One Is Thinking About" showing the dangerous EROEI cliff we face as crude production goes into a steep decline. We don't have the luxury of taking 20 years to figure out suitable nonfossil EROEI and scaling some things up.

""Let's give GM credit for what may be a great vehicle""


Maybe you have been living in a Cave for the last few years? Only reason I know of, for someone to think GM deserves credit for anything.
Do you realize, just how much taxpayer money has been given to these idiots?

Think it will reduce oil dependency? hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

My side hurts.....stop it,,,,

Still just a fraction of what went to the Wall Street criminals so they can buy an island and retire.
All the BS surrounding the auto bail outs was just a smoke screen to divert the stupid public away from the real crime of bailing out Lloyd Blankfein and his organized crime ring.

Yes-the list of smokescreens is very long and surprisingly effective-birth certificates, Muslims, gays, abortion, etc. etc. Anything trivial that diverts public attention from what is actually occurring.

I feel a little better knowing that at least I am not the only one with a clue.
It is maddening being aware though isn't it?


Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Greek, I think,but I can't remember which one.

Now settle down TECHNO-ZOMBIE, go watch some of those Dino Porn movies that hightrekker was talking about...

I agree, the Volt is a better thing.

We should also keep in mind the climate in which it is built. It does no good to make a 1000mpg scooter car that no one buys because low aceleration/speed/getting clobbered by an SUV. In the future, these things may not hold, and we will be able to sell EVs that are smaller and thus need smaller packs... but it would be nice to get started now. These are the kinds of electric cars that consumers are more likely to want right now.

I've seen 25 kW*hr/100 miles quoted elsewhere. Using the average gas prices and residential electricity rates locally (Iowa)that is the cost equivalent to 108 mpg, nowhere close to 230 mpg.

The GM spokesman quoted in this AP article on the same topic


cites a power cost of $0.05 per kW-hr, which is a bit less than half of what I'm currently paying for my residential service. I suspect that varying assumptions regarding power costs are responsible for the disconnect between their numbers and yours.

Gasoline contains somewhere near 32,000 Watt-hours of energy per gallon.

and uses between 4 and 18 x less water than electric based cars... (M.Webber, U Texas-Austin)

Hello Nate,

As a long time scorched desert dweller in a huge Asphaltistan: that is very scary, IMO. It is bad enough that people may starve, and habitats collapse, so that others can run their vehicles on biofuels, but if people and other species start dehydrating to death-->so that a few others can joyride around in their electric vehicles to watch humans and animals die of heatstroke or bad-water diarrhea, then we are truly evolved to act stupid and have a very fast & hard Overshoot crash plus a long & terrible Undershoot phase. IMO, this is just the opposite of Asimovian Foundations and Optimal Overshoot Decline through the Dieoff Bottleneck.

I have no idea if the above paragraph is excessive fear-mongering or not, but IMO, we had better make damn sure that we put water for ecology ahead of water-wasting and/or heat-evaporating water from making electricity.

"Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting."
"Water flows uphill to money."

EDIT: Hard for me to think of any other two related quotations that are more frightening than these two listed above. Full disclosure: I have had a trip to the ER for emergency rehydration in the past.

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

Missing from any of these Detroit turn-around announcements is a pledge to give up the policy of planned obsolescence. Most likely, the 2011 Volt will be replaced by the 2012 Volt etc.. and anyone trying to maintain a 15 year old Volt will find they are stuck with a useless, unsupported piece of 'abandonware'.

Unnecessary cosmetic change is so ingrained in the auto industry that it would take a multi-year ad campaign of promises to support what they sell to convince me to ever buy a new one.

Good point. Let's start with Unibody construction. Where the spot welds join the side panels to the floor is where the rust begins. Anyone who has seen a farm tractor should know we can build a vehicle that will last 50 years ;-)

The goal of a tractor is to be heavy. Tractor is short for traction which requires weight. Should we build cars that way too?

Unibody construction provides far more strength at much lower weight, which is why Lancia developed it (modeling it after boat construction ideas). Full frame vehicles have plenty of spot welds too.

Oh, and the Kubotas you see all the (soon to be bankrupt) landscapers hauling around are mostly built on stamped steel, welded up chassis because they're lighter than traditional tractor construction - better for transporting.

I'm not talking about Kubota but the Farmall, still a great product after about 60 years. Sure, weight is a good thing. But why are these still in use? Because they can be torn down to bare parts and rebuilt over and over again. Try that with a rusting hulk of any car built after about 1970.

I guess my real peeve is consumer "quality". In the hierarchy of goals, maximizing investor return and planned obsolescence are too high on the list, out of balance. I'm sorry to be trite, but if it's unmaintainable, it's unsustainable. I'm so sick of being a consumer.

I remember those old tractors - we had a couple when I was a kid. But the engines were small, and the size of the implements they could pull were modestly sized. I remember a cousin who still had a two-cylinder John Deere tractor that had the external clutch drum. But even back then, the new tractors had air-conditioned cabs and sound systems.

Things won't change until people stop buying the shoddy stuff. To be honest, most people get all excited about stupid stuff like sound systems, cup holders, DVD players, navi systems, power windows and the like. Complicated, in other words, and excess complexity leads to fragility.

Most of the two cylinder John Deere's didn't even have a water pump.

There are plenty of examples of lightweight unibody structures that last. The DeHavilland 'Beaver' and 'Otter' floatplanes flying around the B.C. and Alaska coast were mostly built in the 1950's. I heard a story of one with a row of little square patches across the wing. The passenger asked what they were and the pilot responded that the plane had been a 'General's Jeep' in Vietnam; the patches were covering the bullet holes!

The irony is, $40,000 would not be too much to pay for a car someone really expected to keep for the rest of his life.

ericy pobox half full,

I have spent my life around these old machines and we ownwned a Farmall Cub for many years.

They don't rust out true.But the reason they are still running is that they were STANDARDIZED and planned obsolescence was not part of the game plan back then.

Cars could easily be built the same way today,but unitized.Rust proofing ain't rocket science.

Standardization of parts ain't rocket science.

Biulding a highly streamlined unibody and gradually refining it,while maintaining parts interchangeability aint rocket science.

Standardizing a wiring code aint rocket science.

We need to design and build with a 100 year mindset not a 10 year mindset.

Bingo! You've got it.

And I'll add one: purposeful obfuscation - the "complexification" of a machine (mostly using microcomputers and the like) just to have something to patent - is killing us. I'm in the business (embedded software, machine controls, etc) and can't afford to compete with those who keep their lawyers busy patenting and trademarking every aspect of physics or electronics not yet touched. It's a win for the elite, and a loss for humanity.

You're right, it shouldn't be rocket science...

The article says that the Volt gets 50mpg of gasoline. The other figures are some sort of equivalent rating for EVs, calculated for various purposes (mosty political no doubt). There is no news here, just hype.

It still remains to be seen if they can produce it and sell it in quantities that are of any significance to the size of the problem. And what negative impacts (pollution for battery manufacturing, etc). I know I cannot afford one.

And, will GM even be a viable company in 2011 and beyond...?

Not according to MY math...

Government bailout + $40K, 230 mpg car + Cash For Clunkers = $1.07...

That's the current price for GM stock, with all this government intervention: $1.07.

Doesn't even get half a gallon of gas.

Typical US style propoganda.
Almost all mainstream news agencies around the world were announcing this "big event".

What is the purpose of this propoganda? Clearly, GM, which is state owned, is seeking more cash from the government. That's all. That's the story. Period. They just want to show to the entire world, what a great company it is... after they went bust.

This car will be a nonstarter. It will not run. It will be "kaputt" every 1000 miles. Typical for US quality.

GM is not even able to offer 6 speed automatic transmissions. They stick with the old good 4 speed.
Diesel engines? Never heard of! Too expensive to develop.
Direct injected gasoline engines? What's that?

GM is the textbook case for the way the US is deindustrializing itself. Research and developpment is to expensive. It's indeed bad for the stock value.

The car will likely fail because it is too expensive and the technical challenges of EVs have not been solved - at least not such that we can do a 1:1 replacement of the automobile as we have used them. And they never will be.

But cut the crap about reliability of US cars - it's no worse than that of the overpriced crap from Europe. Ever buy a VW part? They cost a fortune and you need lots of them to keep one running. As far as diesel - modern common rail diesels are wonderful (at least once their terrible emissions have been dealt with), but I'll keep buying your excess gasoline at a discount, thanks.

Ever notice that all the foreign car companies in the US sell the sale bloated, oversize gas guzzlers as the domestic manufacturers? Ever see the full sized Toyota and Nissan SUVs and trucks? Do you know what the big VW SUVs weigh?

The problem with the US automakers is that the size of the automobile market was artificially increased due to cheap fuel and easy credit. Now the market is permanently smaller and they cannot compete due higher fixed costs (health care, etc.), and of course bad management. But all large companies have incompetent management. Every one. Look at what that dinosaur Daimler did to Chrysler - they had the best design group around until the Europeans showed them how it's done. Now I notice that the European car companies are in deep shit too.

""Look at what that dinosaur Daimler did to Chrysler - they had the best design group around""


Come on now. Chrysler's a bigger joke than GM.

I gotta stop reading these funny pages...

Exactly - Chrysler is now a huge joke. And dead. But at one time they had the best product development group, turning out innovative products on a shorter development cycle than anyone. Then upper management sold them out to Daimler.

Collectively, my partner and I have owned dozens of Chryslers, Plymouths, Dodges and Jeeps over the years. I don't have any first-hand experience with the other two domestic brands so I can't offer a fair comparison; all I can tell you is that my own experience to date has been quite positive overall.

Harking back some thirty years, I recall my '77 Royal Monaco waggon was prone to stalling in damp weather unless I let it fully warm up and it would burn through a ballast resistor every now and then -- you soon learned to keep a few of those little babies in the glove box. Ed's '91 Jeep Grand Waggoner was another carbureted 360 that frustrated me to no end and yet it started perfectly for him every time (if I failed to mention this before, he really is a hateful prick). More recently, the only real issues have been related to the brakes (disc and rotor life is much shorter than I would expect) and the a/c system (evaporators/dryer units are living on borrowed time after the fourth year of ownership).

Chrysler will never match Lexus in build quality and refinement, but neither will you be saddled with a car loan twice that of Canada's national debt.


Your impression of North American vehicle quality is very different from my own. My SAABs, which had been rigorously serviced by my dealer and pampered like spoiled brats have been far more trouble prone and vastly more expensive to repair than any of my Chryslers, supposedly the weakest of the NA brands in this regard. That said, my dad drove Austins, Rovers and Jags spanning some fifty years, so I guess I have no right to complain.


The only way that GM make anything above 200MpG is for you to drive a GM car 1 mile and then walk 19 miles. Of course, you will have to call AAA to tow that car but who really count that.

"And does that take into account the coal plants needed to recharge these suckers? "

The US doesn't import much coal from politically unstable countries, nor manufacture any oil from the 33% nuclear and renewables used to generate electricity.

If we were all driving Volts today we would be talking about peak oil now, more likely peak oil in 20-30 years.

If we were all driving Volts today we would be talking about peak oil now, more likely peak oil in 20-30 years.

Assuming the "we" refers to the US (a reasonable assumption from what you wrote):

You obviously haven't done any actual calculations.

I don't feel like doing the leg-work right now, but consider this: 3/4 of the world's oil is NOT consumed in the United States. 71% of oil use in the U.S. is for transportation, but transportation ≠ cars. Most cars use gasoline, so you can shortcut some of the calculations by just using the figure for U.S. motor gasoline consumption: 9 million barrels/day. Assuming the fleet was instantaneously 3 times as efficient, consumption would be 1/3 as much, namely 3 million barrels/day. Thus saving the world 6 million barrels/day.

That's a lot, to be sure, but do you really think that's enough to postpone peak oil for 20-30 years? For starters, China consumes more than that already, and it doubled its consumption over, roughly, the last decade.

Using your 9 million barrels/day figure. According to GM, 76% of trips in the US are less than 40 miles, so you wouldn't use any oil for those trips. That reduces the 9 million to 2,160,000. Plus the Volt gets 2.22 x the current Cafe standard MPG reducing the number to 972,972 barrels or 40,864,824 gallons/day. The RFS mandates 15 billion gallons (currently 12 billion gallons including idled capacity) of ethanol by 2015. Or 41,095,890 gallons/day. So by 2015 if we all drove Volts and filled up with ethanol, we wouldn't need any oil for auto transport fuel.

"76% of trips in the US are less than 40 miles, so you wouldn't use any oil for those trips. That reduces the 9 million to 2,160,000."

I think you need a stats primer. Those 76% of short journeys use a lot less than 76% of the 9 million barrels. To decide how much oil you would save you would need to integrate over the distribution of all journeys by distance, then subtract all consumption below 40 miles range.

Of course it is complicated by the fact that short journeys tend to urban, and with the engine cold. Both of these factors reduce the fuel efficiency of a car. It is also possible that more or less fuel efficient cars than average are used on longer journeys.

I won't begin to discuss the introduction of 100% ethanol fuel.

You are contradicting yourself. If as you say the short urban journeys reduce fuel efficiency, then more than 76% of the 9 million would be saved. Also, I used the cafe standard from 2008. The actual mileage of the fleet is likely to be substantially less than that. So the Volts would save even more fuel.

Brazil has been using 100% ethanol for many years successfully. In this country, many racing series mandate 100% alcohol which has been working well for many years. In fact, the original Model "T" ran on 100% ethanol.

I can't believe that no one has pointed out what should be blatantly obvious: the quoted "miles per gallon" rating is completely bogus. It is a measure of the gasoline consumed, ignoring the energy provided by recharging the battery by "plugging it in". This is an arbitrary figure, because if the car is used in EV mode only, the result is "infinite mpg". If the car is used to drive 50 miles on gasoline and 9,950 miles on electric, then it gets 10,000 mpg! Pick any number you like. It's meaningless!

The real efficiency is basically the same as the Prius when running on gasoline (50 mpg US), and roughly twice that in gasoline equivalent when running on electricity. (Very roughly: GM's claim is that the Volt consumes "as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving". 1 kWh = 3.6 MJ, so 25 kWh = 90 MJ. The energy density of gasoline is on the order of 32 MJ/L, so 25 kWh is the energy equivalent of roughly 2.8 L, or 3/4 of a U.S. gallon. Thus, according to GM, the Volt, in EV mode, gets mileage as good as (i.e., the upper limit is) 133 MPG.)

So, I ask all the gullible people out there: how is it that a car running in gasoline mode at 50 mpg and full electric mode at the rough equivalent of 133 MPG can be rated for 230 MPG?

Don't get me wrong, I am happy they are making an efficient car, but why do they have to lie? Why? Why lie?

Is it perhaps to paper over the other part of the announcement, which is that the estimated price just jumped from $30K to $40K? Hmmm, what do you think?

The Bottom Billion - Africa's Poor

With regard to the item For Africa's poor, oil is no gift, a good book addressing this issue is economist Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, wiki summary here, and the book's associated blog The Bottom Billion.

Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It,

And indeed what can be done about it? When we are discussing the future of the world's population and what choices we may have, it is never a question of good and evil, it is always a choice between evil and an even greater evil.

If we were able to feed the bottom billion and dramatically raise their standard of living, we would be doing several things. We would enable them to expand their population much faster therefore insuring that the hunger and misery would be much worse later on. We would be speeding up the destruction of Africa's environmental detonation. We would be increasing the extinction rate of Africa's wild fauna. And I could go on and on.

So what does Mr. Paul Collier say we can do about it?

Ron Patterson

The only theoretical solution would be to pay women to be sterilized. As long as parents are responsible for children, the more money/resources one has, the more children they should be having. No one is going to even propose this, so it doesn't matter, but the start point is stopping starving women from reproducing.

If you only chance of not starving in old age is having your children support you, and you live in an environment of high infant mortality, then having a large number of children is a wise survival strategy (as long as your neighbors don't catch on).

Yeah, they have to change, not us...

Twenty million westerners giving up eating meat, and volunteering to go to Africa and central and south Asia to open and run schools for girls, supported by eighty million who stay home, earn, and donate to support them, would do the trick.

Ain't gonna happen either.

It starts with a Village

Katine, The Guardian Project

Having loaned my copy, I can't check Collier's answer so this is mine.

The development goal is to get a country across the demographic transition as quickly as possible because that drops birth rates and stabilizes populations. As long as a country remains pre-transition, the birth rate stays high and the population continues expanding at horrific human and environmental costs. The more children a women has, the more likely she will be cared for in old age, Tragedy of the commons fully manifested. In the era of cheap energy, industrialization with urbanization accomplished the transition.

In the era of scarce energy, IMO the transition requires empowering LDC women through education and economic opportunities at the village level. This requires locally sustainable programs such as microfinance, the solar power initiative of the Barefoot College and other village women entrepreneurship programs. A bunch of locally sustainable technologies are being applied to solve problems of efficient cooking and air quality, water purification, food preservation and so on.

Greg Jeffers:

ELE for Private Colleges

. . . the "College Bubble" was funded by loans that will NEVER be repaid and furnished by Sallie Mae, and in much the same way that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY were the largest contributor to the HOUSING BUBBLE. Just as when the financing dried up for housing, the housing bubble popped... so, too will be the fate of the "College Bubble".

Not to worry, though. These people will work extra hard to B*ll Sh*t you, manipulate you, and out right lie to you in order to keep those latte's and co-ed's coming. But the wheels are coming off this system, and there ain't much to be done about it.

Denninger argues that it's not over:

We're screwed and a repeat of 2008, writ even larger, is now visible. Be long guns, ammo, and food and short banks.

What does Denninger want us to do about it? Demand transparent accounting? He has no positive suggestions.

We are going to get to tha abyss soon enough, why rush?


He says get your money out of everything except local credit unions.

And spread your money among multiple institutions, even if you're well under the FDIC limit. Just in case.

Your link don't work. Try:

How Midwesterners See the U.S.

That's the right one. I wonder how the HREF got lost on my original?

It didn't get lost. You forgot the closing quotation mark; that's what screwed up the link.

You can use the preview button to check your link before posting, or you can edit your comment and fix mistakes, as long as no one has replied yet.

I plead caffeine underflow. I usually don't miss those.

Your link didn't work... but maybe that is how midwesterners see the rest of the US. ^_^;

Sinopec discovered a one billion barrel oilfield in Mongolia:


Some analysts viewed the U.S. stock markets as high priced due to numerous companies reporting reduced or negative earnings for the second quarter 2009.

Italy received its first cargo of LNG at its new Adriatic LNG port:


Sinopec discovered a one billion barrel oilfield in Mongolia

Well, China consumes ~7 million barrels of oil a day, so the billion barrel field find gives China less than 145 days of supply. Good job!

(BTW, world consumption is 80 Million barrels daily- 1 Billion gives a world supply of 12.5 days.)

Well, China consumes ~7 million barrels of oil a day...

China's oil imports rose by 42% in July to 4.62 million barrels per day.Oil prices fall after Opec report I think that's a year over year increase. So that puts Chinese crude oil consumption at about 8.2 mb/d. Their C+C production is about 3.8 mb/d.

Ron P.

IMO China is the mirror image of the United States. We borrow and spend, they earn and save. We increase environmental regulations, China not so much. We are a saturated market for most things, China is not. We hold commodities in contempt, China thinks they are useful and valuable. We are fat, not many Chinese are. China can have trouble feeding itself at times of crop failure. We are looking at no growth and even decline, they are in a booming economy.

Now that China has over taken the U.S. in auto production, it seems to me that it is only a matter to time until it overtakes the U.S. in oil consumption/imports. The implications are profound for the U.S. in a Post Peak Oil world.

It means we will be bidding for oil against a fast growing economy with cash on hand. We will be borrowing from them to finance our oil imports. Treasury Sec. Geithner's late trip to China was nothing more than the borrower being subservient to the lender. With each injection of Chinese capital, China earns more interest and we have to pay it to them. So in effect we are partially fueling China's growth with our interest payments. The consumption we are foregoing is still taking place, but it is in China and partially due to the huge interest payments they earn from us.

Our cutting back on oil consumption does not mean less oil is consumed world wide. In fact due to the massive interest payments we make to China, they are able to buy more oil and have more effective stimulus programs that have resulted in very large increases in auto sales recently. Being savers they do not have to worry much about paying down debt. China loves to convert funny money dollars into oil.

This is in addition to all the money we send their way for the Made in China stuff most of us buy. I do not see this ending well for us.


There do seem to be some working neurons inside your containment dome.

How is that Japan is a small string of islands with very little oil, coal, or natural gas and is the world's second largest economy? They have one of the highest savings rates in the world. Their children did consistently better in math scores than United States math students. They spent much less on national defense than the United States.

China's oil reserves are not diminished by finds in their western regions and in Bohai Bay. The Chinese save more of their income, yet they consume much less per capita than consumption driven Americans.

You want the short answer?


They are homogenous and have a long cultural history.
Contrary to the political saw from the last 2 decades here. "Our diversity is our WEAKNESS."

Now I can expect to get huge blowback for being politically incorrect.

They spent much less on national defense than the United States.

I think that's a big part of it. The US is providing their defense.

True, but it doesn't explain why they benefit from the US hegemony and other nations don't.
The PAX Americana is bad for anyone that has resources the US needs and good for those that don't if they can get what they need.

Japan is in a very unique situation. The US forced them to demilitarize. That was part of the deal for ending the war. We agreed to provide protection in return.

Now we are tired of the expense, and no longer fear Japan as a military power. So we want them to provide for their own defense. They are reluctant, but I think they see the handwriting on the wall.

“NY Times Reporter: I Was Fired For Criticizing Obama, Goldman Sachs”


Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. I'd have sacked Mr. Stein for being an annoying whiny git, but perhaps it is fortunate that I don't run a media outlet.

Come on, he was a great actor... And game show host. It's in his DNA to be whiney...

Bueller? Bueller?

They should have fired him for his anti-evolutionary biology movie. I mean, really: a straight line from Darwin to Stalin, without mentioning Lysenko? Wow.

Yes, Ben Stein is a nutter. If they didn't sack him for that idiotic movie, I doubt they'd sack him for criticizing Obama or Goldman Sachs.

I suppose doing ads for a credit score company might be seen as a conflict of interest for a supposed financial writer, but I suspect the real reason is budgetary issues. The NY Times, like most newspapers, is really hurting. They took out a new mortgage on their building. They forced the staff of the Boston Globe to accept pay cuts and furloughs. If money's tight...nutburgers like Stein are the first ones I'd throw overboard.

Hopefully, he can scrape by on his ads with Shaq.

Stein isn't just a nutter, he was useless as an economic analyst, only Dennis Kneale comes close.

I suppose Stein could get a job @ CNBC ...


Good riddance, if the Times could next get rid of Krugman and the car spam. These guys do massive amounts of damage by telling people it's okay to jump into the stock and other markets when even a fool would fear to tread.

Yes, that Stein article about Goldman is now hilarious. "No way can anything bad happen unless home prices go down 15%, and that's never happened since the Great Depression!"

Then there's his take on peak oil. Drill, baby, drill. Even if rich Hollywood celebs like himself don't like it. Yeah, that'll fix the problem.

Yes, Ben Stein is a nutter. If they didn't sack him for that idiotic movie, I doubt they'd sack him for criticizing Obama or Goldman Sachs.

You didn't like Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Sheesh, that explains a lot about a lot of peakniks.

Stein was a entertainer, just like Pill Boy (sorry, Rush).
They sell diapers and beer for the elite, plus give the sheeple a story that explains their miserable lives, and helps stop any questioning of the current economic system.
A win for all-- the elite can continue to rape and scrape the planet, and the sheeple have story and myth to opiate their sorry lives.

The problem is that Darwinism was boiled down to the nonsense phrase "survival of the fittest" by those that found a new excuse to prop up their ideology. Stein probably has a point that Darwinism influenced both the fascist and communist movements (e.g. scientific socialism). But then so did a lot of the scientific and industrial revolution during the 1800s.

The order of magnitude pencils out along these lines: a target of 20 gigawatt hours of storage in 20 kilowatt-hour battery increments equals 1 million batteries. Or using a different metric, 1 million square meters of thin ceramic electrolyte would yield 20 gigawatt hours of batteries, equal to California's entire spinning reserve.

Nobody at CoorsTek even blinks at such figures. The company already produces 3 million pounds of ceramic material per month. "Once we have a working prototype battery with all the standards and cost requirements met, it will come up quickly," said Grover Coors. "It would scare people to know how quickly we can bring this up."


Any comments? I'd love to have one of these.

I live in the UK where primary energy use is ~112KWh per person per day - about half of that is personal consumption, the rest is consumed by the Government on our behalf.

But beware averages, the UK has very short, cold, overcast days in the winter - waaaay below average incoming solar and waaay above average high demand for power. Solar electric isn't affordable here!

Eventually nearly all primary energy use will be non-fossil fuel electrical, for BAU any power storage system will have to cope with intermittent supply and massive above average demand, sometimes nothing from the supply for several days - in cold mid-winter and hot mid-summer we get so called 'blocking high' pressure weather systems sitting over us, often resulting in little or no wind for days on end - windmills are not reliable and produce little or no power in these circumstances. Again beware windmill statistics - on average they produce say 30% of rated power, but they are rarely at average power output it is unpredictably either higher or lower!

Because of these factors (and many more like the failure mode of proposed energy dense storage devices containing metallic sodium in a household environment) I don't expect BAU powered by hi-tech exotic batteries, I expect intermittent power and an intermittent economy - insulate, everything, so you don't need the power and get a bike!

What happens if the basement floods & that hunk of metallic sodium gets wet?

I believe you are referring to:

Inside Ceramatec's wonder battery is a chunk of solid sodium metal mated to a sulphur compound by an extraordinary, paper-thin ceramic membrane.

Since it is a sealed battery unit it would take a bit more than a bit of basement flooding to get the sodium wet.

Maybe total immersion and some knocking about that would make me want to be somewhere else all by itself.

Looks interesting.

Yeah, but in my experience a lot of things that have been supposed to be sealed, weren't. A flood causes a short that causes a fire that melts the plastic... and there goes the house and possibly the entire neighborhood.

I think you just don't like it because it is a neat bit of tech that could be used to pretend that BAU is continuing.

It's a high output battery. If you want to worry about a water-mediated failure mode consider what would happen in the case of a short between the positive and negative terminals due to a waterbed leak or some similar incident that could drop water on it from above.

A short circuit that bypassed any fuses would be both more likely and more dangerous than exposure of the sodium that would be sandwiched in thin layers between the ceramic electrolyte layers.

less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery's life.
Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour.

They confuse the cost of energy storage with the cost of electrical generation and delivery.

But my main gripe is why not use the grid for storage?
Why have a battery at all?
It is not like they are discussing the grid powering down.

Overall, not super convincing.

Why not use the grid for storage? Because I am two thousand feet and over $26,000 away from the grid.

The ability to store 20-40 kwh would be a godsend in so many situations no matter how much power you use.

I have seen so much projected energy gadgetry, though, that I'm really only interested in things I can run down to the hardware store and buy. These guys do seem serious and well equipped not only to do the research but to put a gadget into production. But what do I know?

I wonder about power density for the ceramics as well. If they really have a "better battery" for bulk storage, that improves capacity at lower cost while maintaining parity or better for cycle life, discharge rate, cycle efficiency, and operating hardiness, they don't need to wait for renewable storage demand to make their sale -- they can start off with existing UPS and bulk-storage applications.

Telecom, datacom, emergency-backup, and numerous other applications already use massive installations of batteries, and if costs were a bit lower they could eat into some backup-generator and fuel-cell apps as well.

I put this on the same plane as EEstore, but maybe a bit more believable -- all they have to do now is prove it works.

Note that for many applications a day's storage is not necessary, as peak-shaving or fractional load-shifting can save a lot of money for certain tariffs.

A fixed lead acid storage battery 4V @ 1350amps (Surrette 4KS-25P) weighs 315 pounds (wet) and costs $1345 + shipping and handling. 10 year warranty and 20 year expected life. Six of these is a very good battery system for solar and/or windmill at a personal one-house level. The ~$9000 for the battery system is the holdup for many.

If they can get to this capability for less weight and less cost and proven longevity for a household system, I'll buy one.

BTW: That Surrette system will crash if covered with water for any length of time.


A good quality deep cycle marine lead acid battery of the type used on small fishing boats retails for well under two dollars per pound.

Apparently there is not much competition yet in this market.

"Once we have a working prototype battery ..." said Grover Coors.

Enough said.

Russia's gas exports down 45% to 48.8 bln cu m in 1H09

Overall, Russia exported 55 bcm of gas worth $15.97 billion in the first six months of the year, the Federal Customs Service said.

The national statistics service Rosstat earlier reported that Russia's gas output declined 20.8%, year-on-year, in the first six months of 2009 to 274 bcm.

Gas production had been expected to reach 620-644 bcm in 2009, with exports estimated at 190-196 bcm. In 2008, output grew 1.6%, year-on-year, to 663 bcm, with exports of 174.3 bcm bringing in $66.4 billion.

I don't know if this was posted earlier, but note that a 20.8% decline in NG production (six months of 2009 versus six months of 2008) resulted in a 45% decline in NG exports. Based on the first six months, 2009 production would be about 548 BCM, versus an expected production rate of 620-644 BCM.

"Why" is a good question, but note that the export decline was far in excess of the production decline, which is what we have repeatedly seen in net oil exporting countries that showed production declines, e.g., Russian oil production in 2008 versus 2007.

This has nothing to do with the ELM. There has been no big increase in gas consumption in Russia over the last year, there has actually been a decrease. The production and export drop are both related to the economic crisis (and politics) in the EU. Russia can't maintain production without export demand since it does not have vast storage facilities (Ukraine got a big chunk of the storage infrastructure after the collapse of the USSR).

Obviously, lower demand is a factor, but does that account for all of the decline in production? How does the decline in Russian NG production compare to other NG producers serving the European market?

Also, rising consumption is not a requirement for falling exports. The UK, which appears to have the record for highest post-peak net export decline rate (for oil), had almost no increase in consumption in the decline phase.

Hello Dissident,

Interesting point. It would seem that it would be strategically advantageous for Russia to drive the Ukraine into bankruptcy, then buy their pipelines and storage infrastructure for very little rubles. Wouldn't this plan be much cheaper and quicker than Russia building their own new, massive storage & new distribution connections?

It might, in the long run, be even cheaper to just re-annex the Ukraine back into Mother Russia as this would finally put an end to the Ukraine acting as the troublesome middleman between Russia and the downstream EuroGas market. Gaining back all that rich, Ukrainian farmland to help further consolidate Russian grain-pricing power would be an additional bonus,IMO.

I wonder if Putin & the Kremlin ever think of meddling in the Ukraine's political and social change programs? Probably the same degree of involvement as NATO and other EuroOrgs put into meddling in the Ukraine, too. As the saying goes: "the rope hurts much worse than the opposing parties in a game of tug o'war."

Putin, Erdogan seal 'grand bargain' Aug.13th

[from the last paragraph]..Russia has effectively used the practice of co-opting the gas infrastructure of transport and consumer countries as part of its efforts to monopolize downstream markets...
I am certainly no expert on the Russian->Europe crude & natgas markets, but it would currently seem that the Russians are playing superior tug o'war. I worry that the Ukraine could become the rope that 'snaps', then who knows what the opposing parties will do next?

Do you feel like offering any scenarios of what might happen? I think the prior skirmish in Georgia would be nothing compared to the Ukraine in turmoil. Thxs for any reply.

Carbon tax versus cap-and-trade.

As the articles point out c&t can be deeply flawed due to practices like free permits for some industries and allowing offsets that seem questionable at best. However the same lobbying effort that went into those loopholes will re-emerge with carbon tax. Offsets will turn into deductions and free permits will become tax credits or exemptions.

Moreover carbon tax fails to meet the standout features of c&t which are always hitting the CO2 target and lower spot prices in economic hard times. It just needs the political will to administer it in a tough way.

Mexican cartels smuggle oil to US

Supposedly the cartel has built their own pipelines to siphon some of the oil. I am not an oil man and do not know how an oil producing nation determines its production numbers. For a brief moment, I wondered if there was a chance that the siphoning of the oil could explain the production numbers out of Mexico. Silly me.

Interesting speculation that pandemic flu viruses do not have to come in waves. Basically, the commentary being published in JAMA says they don't have any idea. It's nice when "experts" admit that.

Misunderstanding of 1918 may lead to faulty assumptions for swine flu: experts

Regarding the Mexican 'cisis' -it would appear that exporting countries face as much -if not more- pain than importers. Importer can have, potentially, multiple input sources however and exported has only one export.