Drumbeat: August 26, 2009

The Future of Transportation by Shai Agassi

Projecting the future of energy, transportation, and environment. The time is now, and the change is already in motion. In the words of Lee Iacoca “It’s time to lead, follow or get out of the way.”

In 2005 the world entered the “post peak-oil” era, as predicted by many oil experts years before reaching this situation. The price of oil is dominated by two factors, new discoveries of oil fields and global demand for oil, falsely called production. As the R/P ratio (Reserves to Production) slides we begin to witness sharp price hikes in the futures market for oil immediately affecting the price of fuel at the pump. During the last 10 years, the price of oil shot up from $10 a barrel to well above $80 a barrel, with current predictions more certain of the price crossing $100 a barrel than ever coming back to $50.

The oil market is tightly intertwined with the car market, as both products complement one another to produce the “complete product” consumers desire - the freedom of personal commute. With this document we try to project the most probable set of changes in the energy markets and the transformational technologies that exist today and how they will come together to address this emerging oil shortage.

Is there a peak oil problem?

I SUGGESTED yesterday that recent changes in oil prices may indicate that supply is increasingly tight, and that oil prices will therefore act as a check on economic growth for the near future. This isn't exactly an embrace of the "peak oil" world view, but it's similar in nature; I believe limits on supply growth will lead to rationing by price.

Labor Day weekend could signal travel recovery

(CNN) -- The struggling travel industry may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

More than 39 million Americans will be traveling on vacation -- at least 50 miles from home -- this Labor Day weekend, slightly more than the 37.1 million who traveled on the Fourth of July weekend, according to AAA. July Fourth is typically the busiest automobile travel holiday of the year.

"That is good news for the travel industry," said AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstrom. "It means that the number of people traveling is gaining momentum as we close out the summer driving season."

Exxon Loses Second Phase of New York Water-Well Trial

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. lost the second phase of a trial in which New York accused the company of poisoning the city’s groundwater, with a jury ruling that a gas additive will be in water wells in 2033.

Argentine Farmers to Halt Grain Sales After Tax Veto

(Bloomberg) -- Argentine farmers will halt some grain and beef sales starting this week after the government vetoed a law that would have provided tax breaks to Buenos Aires growers suffering through the worst drought in a century.

The New Threat to Oil Supplies: Hackers

Earlier this year, a sullen, 28-year-old contractor in California was charged in federal court with sabotaging the computerized controls on oil-rig sitting off the coast, allegedly out of spite for not being hired full time. Prosecutors say the contractor hacked into a shore-to-rig communications network that, among other functions, detected oil leaks. He caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, they charge, though, fortunately, no leaks.

...The usual threat of a takeover of the massive oil platforms is in the form of seaborne raiders; Britain's Royal Marines commandos still regularly train for hostage rescue on rigs that dot the North Sea. But now, according to SINTEF scientist Martin Gilje Jaatun, with the advent of robot-controlled platforms, a cyberattacker with a PC anywhere in the world can attempt to seize control of a rig, or a cluster of rigs, by hacking into the "integrated operations" that link onshore computer networks to offshore ones. "The worst-case scenario, of course, is that a hacker will break in and take over control of the whole platform," Jaatun said. That hasn't happened yet, but computer viruses have caused personnel injuries and production losses on North Sea platforms, he noted.

After 150 Years, Whither Oil?

Governments are concerned about the need for energy security and reliable supplies. The threat of climate change requires shifting away from fossil fuels that currently dominate the world’s energy mix. And fears of “peak oil” — the notion that half the world’s reserves have been pumped and that global production is now on a slow path of decline — have gained followers as prices have soared.

How much longer will the “Oil Age” last?

Valero Sees Aruba Refinery Staying Shut as Fuel Demand Slumps

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refiner, said its Aruba plant will probably remain idled as fuel demand slumps.

As the San Antonio-based company approaches the end of a three-month waiting period it planned to allow before deciding what to do next with the refinery, there’s little incentive to reopen the plant, Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse said yesterday in an interview.

The plant was shut down July 16 after operating at a loss during the second quarter. Valero put it in a so-called hot mothball state, meaning power was kept on so it could be restarted as soon as economic conditions allowed. Klesse said fuel markets have changed little since then.

N.American natgas drill costs to rise-Schlumberger

HOUSTON (Reuters) - North American natural gas prices will remain low due to oversupply, but extraction costs will start to rise soon, Schlumberger Ltd's (SLB.N) president of oil field services for the region said on Wednesday.

"Gas prices are going to remain low," Bill Coates told the summer NAPE exploration and production forum in Houston. "The bad news is that costs are not going to remain low."

As Farmland Grows, the Trees Fight Back

Farms vs. forests — that's the usual dynamic in tropical countries, where the growth of agriculture often comes at the expense of trees. In nations like Brazil and Indonesia — where deforestation is behind the vast majority of carbon emissions — rain forests are not just cut down for logging but also burned to make room for new farms and pastureland. As more people need more food — and biofuels as well — there's a risk that we could see many of our remaining virgin rain forests wiped out completely.

But a major new study indicates that farms and forests may not be as incompatible as we often assume. Using detailed satellite imagery, scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre (WAC) found that on almost half of all farmed landscapes around the world, landowners are either sparing some existing trees or planting new ones, leading to what the study calls "significant" tree cover. In fact, on more than 1 billion hectares (2.5 billion acres) of farmland, which is twice the size of the Amazon, tree cover exceeds 10%. That's a huge increase from previous estimates, which were as low as 50,000 hectares.

Is Yemen Chewing Itself to Death?

But the worst thing about khat may be that it is sucking Yemen dry.

The plant thrives in the high hill country outside Sana'a, where nearly every patch of irrigated land is covered in khat. Unlike coffee, which Yemenis claim was first cultivated here, khat is easy to grow and harvest. And though cultivating and dealing the leaf doesn't generate the kind of instant wealth associated with growing poppies in Afghanistan or coca in Colombia, it certainly provides a steadier income than growing vegetables does — that's why nearly all of the country's arable land is devoted to khat. And khat needs a lot of water, which is scarce in Yemen.

Averting a perfect storm of shortages

As the world's population grows, competition for food, water and energy will increase. Food prices will rise, more people will go hungry, and migrants will flee the worst-affected regions.

That's the simple idea at the heart of the warning from John Beddington, the UK government's chief scientific adviser, of a possible crisis in 2030.

Specifically, he points to research indicating that by 2030 "a whole series of events come together":

       • The world's population will rise from 6bn to 8bn (33%)

       • Demand for food will increase by 50%

       • Demand for water will increase by 30%

       • Demand for energy will increase by 50%

He foresees each problem combining to create a "perfect storm" in which the whole is bigger, and more serious, than the sum of its parts.

Distress cattle sale rampant in Jhabua

Extensive use of herbicides in this region has resulted in a steep decline in fodder cultivation alongside the main crop. This, coupled with a shift to non-fodder cash crops such as tomato and chilli, means there is nothing to feed the cattle with.

The only option is to sell them. And since most of them are largely malnourished, they fetch less than encouraging prices in the market.

Also, the current crop trends in the region require the farmers to hire tractors and threshers, often forcing them to sell off their bulls and other cattle. This means they lose out on a crucial livestock product — cow dung — which is used both as cooking fuel and organic manure.

As a result, farmers have to grow cotton (especially MCH-1) in the lean January-February season as cotton stems serve as cooking fuel to make up for the shortage of cow dung. This has further resulted in an increased BT cotton cultivation in the area.

Also, a shift to chemical fertilizers becomes inevitable since there is no organic manure.

Our Unfolding Destiny: Possibilities and Probabilities

In our last column (June 1-30, 2009) we stated that what is required for the achievement of a sustainable society is the replacement of the present exponential growth system with an economic and political order based upon both ecological imperatives and the requirements for intergenerational well being. In short, and as stated by Aurelio Peccei and the Executive of the Club of Rome in 1972 (1), we are compelled to seek a “state of equilibrium” with Nature on our planet. This goal will require nothing less than the construction of an entirely new paradigm, effectively a steady state economic and political system, for the continuance of the human enterprise.

Erratic power supply hits petrol production

Kenya faces a looming shortage of petrol after severe power supply interruption hit production by the Mombasa-based refinery.

Oil firms on Tuesday said consumers will from Wednesday start feeling the impact of reduced output when many dispensing sites begin running out of petrol due to demand exceeding quantities marketers receive.

Japan Close To Second Iraqi Oil Contract

HONG KONG -- A consortium led by Nippon Oil is very close to signing a deal with Iraqi authorities in what could be Japan's biggest oil project, providing about 10% of Japan's daily oil demand.

The Better Bet in the Oil Patch

Two state-controlled petroleum giants confront very different challenges. One faces political pressure that could kill its cash flow; the other grapples with aging oil fields.

So which would you rather own, Petrobras or StatoilHydro?

CNOOC First-Half Profit Down 55% on Lower Prices

SHANGHAI (AP) -- CNOOC Ltd., China's third-largest oil and gas producer, said Wednesday its first-half profit sank 55 percent on sharply lower oil prices but it forecast better results as the economy recovers.

Profit fell to 12.4 billion yuan ($1.8 billion), or 0.28 yuan per share, compared with 27.5 billion yuan in the first half of 2008, the Beijing-based company said. Revenue fell 42 percent from a year earlier to 40.65 billion yuan ($6.95 billion).

CNOOC, the country's main offshore oil and gas producer, lacks major refining operations and so was directly hurt by the sharp drop in oil prices from a year earlier.

Enbridge faces U.S. challenge to pipeline permit

Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. faces new legal hurdles for its $3.3-billion Alberta Clipper oil sands pipeline as U.S. environmental groups prepare to launch a legal challenge to the State Department's permit to proceed.

The groups, led by Oakland, Calif.-based Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, plan to launch a suit next week in federal court in California that will argue that the State Department failed to conduct a proper environmental review before issuing the permit last week.

Valero Shelves Acquisition Search After Losing Netherlands Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refiner, said it’s shelving a search for overseas plant acquisitions after its deal for a stake in a Netherlands refinery fell through.

NHC says tropical storm may form later Wednesday

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center said an area of disturbed weather centered about 470 miles east of Nassau in the Bahamas could become the season's latest tropical depression, or more likely, tropical storm, later Wednesday.

But forecast tracks so far show the system remaining to the east of the United States and away from Gulf Coast oil and gas production.

U.S. gives $300 mln for alternative fuel vehicles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department will award $300 million to a clean cities program to allow communities to buy alternative fuel vehicles, Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday.

Ten clunkers in the making

Though clunker sales are done — and there's no word yet on how many of those $3,500 and $4,500 rebates have been processed — the program has given an undeniable boost to some automakers. Toyota, General Motors and Ford Motor have benefited the most, receiving 18.9 percent, 17.6 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively, of total sales made under the program.

But owners of new, foreign cars might want to take a closer look; many of these cars carry the highest out-of-pocket costs of any models this year.

Crazy green-energy ideas that just might work

Fields of windmills spinning in the breeze and deserts covered with solar panels are familiar options for renewable energy. But they are far from the only technologies under consideration.

Taking a Dim View of Solar Energy

Not long ago, most homeowners saw their roofs as simply something to keep the rain out. Now they see them as a source of electricity. Despite the bad economy, or maybe because of it, the rooftop-solar industry is booming, as Americans become increasingly intrigued by the idea of turning their roofs into mini power plants and cutting their electric bills. In 2008, 33,500 rooftop solar systems were installed in the United States, a 63 percent increase over the amount of capacity installed in 2007. In California, the solar capital of country, the increase was 95 percent.

Meanwhile, the outlook for the other side of the solar industry—the large, centralized power plants—isn't so sunny. These megaprojects—think acres of desert landscape covered in thousands of solar panels sending electricity through transmission lines—controlled mostly by utility companies that have had a monopoly over the country’s electricity grid since the turn of the last century, were supposed to be the key to the future of the solar industry. So far, they're getting vastly outpaced by the decentralized rooftop approach. According to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's 2006-08 count, consumers added 522 megawatts to the grid; whereas utility generated sites added just 96 megawatts.

German wind power moves further out to sea

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A pioneering German wind power plant's new high-tech equipment, to capture higher winds further offshore and for longer periods, is exciting the industry.

The Alpha Ventus wind park started this month and operates 45 km off the German-Dutch coast. Existing European wind parks operate only 20 km offshore at the most.

Interview with Tom Whipple

I think I noted early on in The Oil Drum or another site when someone posed the question “what can we do about peak oil?” And someone wrote back, “tell people about it.” Then I thought, “oh I know how to do that,” so I immediately designed my own little peak oil newsletter. Soon afterwards I checked with 50 or 60 leading newspaper reporters and editors who were reading my Virginia News. I wrote that I was starting a new newsletter about peak oil and asked if any of them would be interested in reading this new publication that was free, just like the Virginia News. The response to that query was exactly zero. Not a single reporter or editor seemed to care about peak oil. Yet when I missed my first mail-out of the Virginia News a couple of weeks ago-for technical reasons-the reporters went absolutely berserk.

Russia eyes $2 trillion for energy sector by 2030

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia plans to invest up to 60 trillion roubles ($1.9 trillion) in its energy sector by 2030 in a drive to boost stagnanting oil and gas output, two sources in the government said on Wednesday.

They said Asian markets would increase their share of Russia's energy export volumes to 25 percent by 2030 from only 6 percent today.

"Europe's share is set to decrease, although volumes will be rising," one of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Gasoline Demand Dips for First Time in 4 Weeks, MasterCard Says

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline use slipped last week for the first time in four weeks as an unemployment rate above 9 percent and a hurricane that closed East Coast beaches reduced demand before the Sept. 7 Labor Day holiday, according to a MasterCard Inc. report.

Motorists bought an average 9.373 million barrels of gasoline a day in the week ended Aug. 21, MasterCard, the second-biggest credit-card company, said in its SpendingPulse report today. That’s 2.2 percent less than a year earlier and 1 percent less than the week before.

Read This If You Believe in Peak Oil …

… and there’s a chance you no longer will. In a trenchant Times Op-Ed, Michael Lynch explains, point-by-point, why the “peak oil” concept is so wrong.

Raymond J. Learsy - Peak Oil Agonistes: The New York Times Finally Comes Around to Where HuffPost Never Feared to Tread

This is a day of deep gloom for the McPeaksters, those preaching the gospel of "Peak Oil". The New York Times, otherwise deeply empathetic to oil patch pseudo science, this day burst one of the most entrenched of the oil patches' nuggets of disinformation, the theory of "Peak Oil".

Natural Gas Investment Outlook: Better than Oil

There is, however, one energy sector which is looking much better than oil at the moment. A sector growing much faster than wind and solar power. A sector which doesn’t require any government legislation (ref: Cap-and-Trade) to make it economically viable. And one that has China, ExxonMobil, and other deep-pocketed energy heavyweights cutting multi-billion dollar checks every few months.

Natural gas may hit $1 in Canada: report

Natural gas in Canada, already scraping along at prices below $2, a low not seen since 2002, may fall below $1 in the coming weeks, according to a report from FirstEnergy Capital. "The market is trying to rationalize all of the gas that is piling up and there are fewer and fewer places to put it. We expect that a $1 handle on prices will start becoming more common in the next few weeks," said analyst Martin King.

Chevron A$50 Billion Project Wins Australia Approval

(Bloomberg) -- Australia approved Chevron Corp.’s A$50 billion ($42 billion) liquefied natural gas venture on a remote island, adding stricter conditions to quell environmental concerns about the nation’s biggest resources project.

The additional terms for the Gorgon project will enable it to proceed within a nature reserve “without unacceptable impacts,” Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in Canberra today. Chevron has said the venture off the northwest shelf may produce its first LNG in 2014.

China secures gas from Burmese waters in $5.6bn deal

China is to boost its economic ties to the Burmese military Government with a $5.6 billion (£3.4 billion) gas project in the Bay of Bengal, to be built by a South Korean and Indian consortium.

Arrow Energy to Spend A$300 Million Seeking Gas for LNG Plants

(Bloomberg) -- Arrow Energy Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Australian partner in coal-seam gas production, will spend A$300 million ($251 million) drilling wells to supply gas to two planned liquefied natural gas plants in Queensland.

The work is scheduled for the next 18 months, Chief Executive Nick Davies said. “With multiple LNG trains planned, reserve certification is key to success for us,” he said on an earnings conference call today. Full-year net income jumped more almost 10-fold to A$366.9 million after the sale of stakes in fields to Shell, Arrow said.

Govt not looking at hiking fuel prices - oil secy

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The government is not considering raising retail fuel prices despite an uptrend in global crude oil prices , the oil secretary said on Wednesday.

"Global prices are not comfortable. But there is no proposal to revise the price," R.S. Pandey told reporters.

N.B. plan for self-sufficient energy hits snag

Cracks are starting to appear in New Brunswick's ambitious plan to escape Canada's have-not club as the province grapples with setbacks to a number of key energy projects - the most devastating blow coming with Irving Oil's recent decision to cancel a major refinery slated for Saint John.

The $8-billion facility, an expansion on Irving's existing refinery in the region, would have formed the heart of an energy hub serving Canada and the northeastern United States. While some of the projects associated with that hub have come to fruition, others, such as the refinery itself, have languished.

The $1.4-billion refurbishment of New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, home to the first Candu 6 reactor in the world, was undertaken with the mantra "on time and on budget" as its driving force. But unforeseen delays and cost overruns have since plagued to the project - already half a year behind schedule - with ratepayers on the hook for replacement power costs.

Meeting regulations costly for gas stations

Charlie Thomas is worried that he may be forced to shut down his Satellite Beach, Fla., gas station in part because a state law requires all stations to install tanks to pump gas with at least 10% ethanol by year's end.

A combination of environmental rules, mandatory equipment replacement, the down economy, increased competition from big-box stores and rising credit-card fees is putting the squeeze on independent gas station owners such as Thomas. "I don't know what the future is going to bring me," says Thomas, who has owned and operated his gas station and repair shop for 20 years.

For about a month, Thomas had no gas to sell. His pumps sat idle, draped in yellow "crime scene" tape to keep customers away as he searched for a supplier who could sell him the non-ethanol gas his current tanks hold.

Highway stimulus: Just a 'down payment'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The government promised $27.5 billion in stimulus funds to help fix the nation's crumbling roads and bridges as part of a broader effort to save jobs. The effort is working...sort of.

Nearly three-quarters of the funding has gone to short-term, road paving projects rather than longer-term work like repairing bridges and building new highways. Furthermore, jobs that paving projects create or save last for a shorter duration than other types of road construction.

Power is shut off as bills pile up

More Americans are having their power shut off as the weak economy makes it harder to pay bills.

"We see record numbers of households becoming disconnected or in danger of disconnection," says Mark Bixby, energy director of Rockford, Ill. Five years ago, his office distributed federal funds annually to about 300 households that had their power cut off. Last year, it was 1,834 households, and the number is likely to go up this year, he says: "It's families that can't find work."

Appliances get their own recycled clunkers programs

Cash for clunkers ended this week — for cars.

But old energy-hogging refrigerators and freezers qualify for recycling and cash from more than 60 utilities across the nation. And the federal government is making money available to states so consumers could get rebates of $50 to $200 for new, more energy-efficient appliances later this year in a so-called "cash for appliances" program.

Combined, the appliance initiatives have a goal similar to the cash-for-clunker program for autos: They get less-efficient appliances off the nation's energy grid in favor of newer efficient ones.

Officials: Energy companies want closed Ford plant

LANSING, Mich. – Two alternative energy companies want to buy a shuttered Ford Motor Co. factory in southeast Michigan and convert it into a renewable energy park that could employ at least 2,800 workers within five years, officials told The Associated Press.

Islay to be entirely powered by tides

ScottishPower is planning a tidal energy project that will supply all the electricity for one of Scotland's most famous islands, the Guardian can reveal.

The company is close to signing a supply contract with Diageo, the drinks group, to provide electricity from the project to eight distilleries and maltings on Islay – including the makers of the renowned Laphroaig and Lagavulin whiskies.

The 10MW tidal project, one of the world's largest, will provide enough electricity for Islay's 3,500 inhabitants for 23 hours a day.

China moves to address overcapacity in emerging sectors like wind power

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's State Council, or the Cabinet, warned Wednesday of overcapacity in emerging sectors such as wind power, and said the country would move to "guide" the development of sectors troubled by overcapacity and redundant projects.

Overcapacity has persisted in sectors of steel and cement, while redundant projects have also surfaced in emerging sectors of wind power and poly silicon, according to a statement issued afteran executive meeting of the State Council, which is presided by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Prairie Chicken Mating Dance Threatens Texas Projects

(Bloomberg) -- Iberdrola SA and E.ON AG’s turbine dreams for the windswept Texas Panhandle may be stymied by the mating rituals of the lesser prairie chicken.

Wind-power developers such as E.ON are scouring sagebrush and grasslands for the presence of ground-dwelling chickens that could impede turbine construction plans. Once plentiful in the southern high plains, the bird has a high priority for listing under the Endangered Species Act, which would put at risk where as much as $11 billion in turbines that are part of the U.S.’s renewable-energy push can be built.

China Plastic Bag Ban Cuts 3 Million Tons of Oil Consumption

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, may save as much as 3 million metric tons of oil a year by banning retailers from providing free plastic bags to shoppers, said the nation’s top economic planning agency.

The ban, which was instituted in June last year, has reduced plastic bag consumption at supermarkets by two-thirds, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its Web site today. China’s annual carbon emissions may be cut by as much as 9.6 million tons as a result, the agency said.

Lead scares highlight China's environmental dilemma

BEIJING (AFP) – A pair of lead poisoning scandals affecting at least 2,000 children in China are just the latest in a seemingly endless string of pollution scares exposing the dark side of the nation's economic boom.

China's growth rates have long been envied around the globe, but its three-decade industrial expansion also has turned it into one of the world's most toxic countries.

Kenya's rural drought hurts city dwellers

NAIROBI, Kenya – Crops have shriveled, hundreds of cattle are dead and the World Food Program said Tuesday that 3.8 million Kenyans need emergency food aid because of a prolonged drought, which is even causing electrical blackouts in the capital because there's not enough water for hydroelectric plants.

With rivers thinning to a trickle and mountaintop glaciers shrinking, authorities this month began rationing power in the capital, darkening homes and businesses at least three days a week. In Nairobi's posh, leafy neighborhoods, light bulbs flicker as generators rumble to life. Gym treadmills in luxury hotels jolt to a halt.

The slums, where roughly half the capital's 4 million residents live, are being hit the worst. Taps have run dry and residents often wait for days for trucks to deliver expensive potable water.

An Energy Plan We Can Start Now

A progressive, pragmatic energy plan would focus on taking the first steps toward national energy sustainability. It would start with technologies that are ready for large-scale deployment but are concentrated on regions where they can be demonstrated and deployed at scale to their best advantage. Consider what could happen if we focused on these five goals:

Udall, McCain: Nuclear power must be part of solution to global warming

ESTES PARK — Bipartisan political leaders strolled through Rocky Mountain National Park this morning studying beetle-kill trees and changing vegetation patterns — and agreed that nuclear power must be part of any comprehensive climate-change legislation.

Yulong Snow Mountain's glaciers melting at unprecedented rate

The Yulong Snow Mountain is a famous scenic spot in China. The snow-capped mountain had 13 peaks along the range, 35 kilometres in width, including 19 glaciers. The looming crisis has been highlighted by the dramatic shrinkage of the Yulong Snow Mountain glacier. Over the past two decades, its main component, the Baishui No. 1 Glacier, has receded 250 meters.

Computing climate change: How much carbon dioxide do computers emit?

AVIATION has long been blamed for its share of anthropogenic global warming. Indeed, some travellers now ask themselves whether their flight is strictly necessary and, if they decide it is, salve their consciences by paying for the planting of trees. These, so they hope, will absorb the equivalent of their sinful emissions. But you, dear reader, are indulging right now in activity that is equally as polluting as air travel: using a computer.

According to a report published by the Climate Group, a think-tank based in London, computers, printers, mobile phones and the widgets that accompany them account for the emission of 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide around the world in 2007. That is about 2% of the estimated total of emissions from human activity. And that is the same as the aviation industry’s contribution. According to the report, about a quarter of the emissions in question are generated by the manufacture of computers and so forth. The rest come from their use.

India Urges Rich Countries to Call Its Climate Change ‘Bluff’

(Bloomberg) -- India’s environment minister urged the world’s developed countries to call his nation’s ‘bluff’ and sign on to steeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

India and China would have to “respond very positively” if rich nations such as the U.S. agreed to a goal of cutting emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, Jairam Ramesh said in an interview yesterday in Beijing, where he met with Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate-change negotiator.

India crusader plans Green party

One of India's leading environmental crusaders is planning to launch the country's first Green party.

After his success in forcing old and polluting vehicles off the streets of the eastern city of Calcutta, Subhas Dutta says the time has come to set up a political party to protect the country's environment.

Chamber Threatens Lawsuit if EPA Rejects Climate Science 'Trial'

The nation's largest business group is asking U.S. EPA to hold a public debate on climate change science -- or face litigation -- as the agency prepares to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Steamy heat more common in California: study

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Bouts of extreme muggy heat lasting for days, once rare in California, are becoming more frequent and intense due to ocean patterns altered by climate change, scientists said in a study released on Tuesday.

Research meteorologists at the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography reached the conclusion after examining a severe 2006 summer heat wave that was blamed for the deaths of 600 people and 25,000 cattle in California.

That heat wave, like others before it, combined high humidity and heat, keeping temperatures elevated at night, rather than allowing for nighttime cooling that normally occurs in the dry conditions more typical for California.

World nears 'tipping point' on climate change, minister warns

Forest fires, flooding and the mountain pine beetle epidemic are clear examples in B.C. that climate change is real and needs to be addressed by governments around the world, B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell told an International Energy Agency conference on bioenergy on Monday.

"I am not a doomsayer, I am not one who wants to say we are beyond the tipping point. But I am afraid that we are getting close to that," Bell told 200 of the world's leading experts on bioenergy attending the conference at the University of B.C. Delegates are addressing the latest advances in biofuels.

History can no longer guide farmers, investors: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) - Climate change has made history an inaccurate guide for farmers as well as energy investors who must rely on probabilities and scenarios to make decisions, the head of a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.

Michel Jarraud, director-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that water and temperature projections have become more valuable than the historical weather data that long governed strategy in agriculture, hydro-electric power, solar technology and other fields.

"The past is no longer a good indicator of the future," the WMO chief told a press briefing, describing climate modeling and prediction as key to fisheries, forestry, transport and tourism, as well as efforts to fight diseases such as malaria.

For any amateur climatologists:
(Updated periodically)

This and other neat links can be found at:

Hey, Ignorant, that lovely graphic is a snapshot picture of weather. When are you (and the rest of the loud mouthed denialist) going to learn the difference between weather and climate??

E. Swanson

I put it up there for the curious... I shared an interesting link...

Climatologists get their data by studying weather patterns over time. Yes?.. No?

This link is periodically updated... Yes?.. No?

I rest my rebuttal.

Climate may be thought of as the statistics of weather. The "patterns" you mention are what the statistics reveal, such as seasonal precipitation or temperatures over a region. Your claim that your graphic represents climate is bogus as is your claim to have rebutted my objection.

Heck, we KNOW that you are Ignorant! [Couldn't resist...:-)]

In the unlikely event you want to fight back against (your) ignorance, here's a link...

E. Swanson

"Your claim that your graphic represents climate..."

I made no such claim.

Go bother Mr. Lynch.

it seems to me that the chart is just a snapshot of the current temperatures. how it supports or undermines any particular theory is a mystery. I see the ugly grey clouds over us. At least the Indian monsoon seems to be well under way now.

Congratulations to whoever came up with the Michael Lynch plan. I can only assume it originated from The Oil Drum?

Writing such a fantastic straw-man argument and then getting the New York Times to op-ed it was a masterstroke. Putting such weak arguments in the main piece so that all of the 100+ comments that accompanied the story became lessons in the key points of peak oil was a work of genius.

I think, however, you overdid it a bit with the photo of the alleged author though - he looks a little bit too much like an actual buffoon.

Keep up the good subversive work.

I was wondering... without secondary, tertiary, etc. recover techniques I guess we would probably be past peak oil now (yes?).

The reason I wonder is, because if true, it means our decline won't be as gradual as our ascent. Things will begin to unravel/deplete far faster than we've grown accustomed to based on historical averages.

Any thoughts?

Depending on your inputs, yes.

I suspect in the short term things become quite chaotic - oil price is quite sensitive, so will rocket up on supply shortages and then drop back as the marginal consumer chooses not to consume at those elevated prices. Eventually though, the drop off (particularly in exported oil from Saudi, Russia etc) will almost certainly be steeper than the build up.

You're correct. "Hubbert's curve" will be strongly left skewed.

Have a search on "memmel", he got that thing really well cornered...


Haven't posted much still busy moving. I now hate and loath cardboard boxes.

When I was in collage I packed my air mattress and clothes in a garbage bag and was done.

I do want to say one thing. What we probably have done is highly fractionated the remaining oil supply but this I mean it really consists of two types of remaining reserves.

What I call conventional reserves which are reasonably new oil fields extracted with primary and secondary extraction at high flow rates these are on land and shallow offshore regions.

And easy way to make a distinction between these two is to note that the best oil reserves where found on land and in shallow waters. Most of the shallow offshore production is a continuation of onshore geological regions. The North Sea was a bit unique in having almost no onshore production. In any case the shallow offshore regions where developed late but they represent only 6% of the world surface.

My point and I posted on this before is we probably discovered and produced all the good stuff by the early 1990's. In fact we where pretty much done by the late 80's.

Now this production represents as far as I can tell about 50% of the worlds production and my bust guess is its 70% or so depleted. As far as I can tell it was about 1.200-1.5 trillion barrels.

Our current production levels are highly dependent on these conventional reserves. Certainly we have plently of other basically junk reserves to develop but the hallmark of these is they are in general expensive have low EROEI and generally low production rates vs reserve levels. Even deep offshore which is produced fast once its developed actually has a low production rate vs reserves once you include the time to develop. Assuming that demand for oil remains high and the infrastructure etc remains these could potentially supply us with oil at a production rate about half of todays for a long time.

WHT's models correctly reproduce this long tail. However between the long tail of production and our current levels is a sort of gray area where its hard to determine how the production levels will change.

My best guess is that we will see accelerated decline rates in production in fact so far in general it looks like this is what is happening. Also you might as well include export land since this is also important.

Lets assume that we are now losing 6mbd of production to depletion and 2mbd to export land on and annual basis for a total of 8mbd. Thats about 700kbd per month.

So assume right now its at 70mbd thus next year same time we would be at 62mbd including the effects of export land as lost production.

To offset this sort of decline you would need about 3000 million barrels of excess oil stored for the entire year.

EDIT and CORRECTION: Opps Was 300 million barrels I'm guessing on declining demand here estimates are demand has declined itself by 6-8 mbd or about the same as the second half of the decline rate. Obviously demand contracted significantly in late 2008-2009 while real pumped oil storage only rose by 300 million barrels or less. The difference is demand drop off. Thus even assuming
a similar demand drop you still need a significant amount of storage to offset
declines. So I'm guessing 300 million barrels will work to offset the difference between demand decline and production decline for a time at the expense of keeping demand high from storage requirements early on. Its just a guess but it fits the past.

During the economic crisis it looks like we managed to store at least 100-150 million barrels. Not enough to offset this sort of decline rate but probably enough to keep prices in check for 6 to at most 12 months. Changes on the demand side obviously will play a big role the first year you head over a cliff in production if thats whats happening.

How do you manage to store this much oil given the production situation. Its a bit of a trick but bringing the worlds banking system to the edge of collapse tends to throw a monkey wrench in the worlds economy. Its a bit fascinating that the one thing that could cover this sort of decline actually happened.

However if this scenario is real then you have a problem in that it becomes increasingly difficult to push demand down and keep oil prices low. Financial tinkering and large storage can only last so long its a very short term play.

Lets break it down by year for whatever reason things seem to have fallen across years so lets start mid 2007-mid 2008

2007->mid 2008 is peak BAU oil demand is still driven by growing debt etc.

Mid 2008-2009 rapid credit collapse effectively shuts down the world economy.
For all intents and purposed the entire world took almost a week off from using oil.

At 70mbd * 7 = This gives and excess of about 500 million barrels of oil over about a six month period as the world economy screeched to a halt.

Some of this was put into storage some simply was not produced etc.

Second half 2009---> ?

The rapid collapse slows and this wall of oil is slowly drained down.

Now things seem to be moving such that events no more or less match up with the new years.

2010 The economy is no longer being particularly goosed to grow most of the money being pumped in instead is simply preventing further collapse. Now if we assume that we have continued and probably accelerating declines in production/export land we being to finally hit our sort of long term post peak scenario.

Growth becomes impossible and its and its ever more problematic to keep the BAU situation going.

In my opinion we are at the start of a very very different situation from what we have seen even up to about 3 months ago. Over the last few months I believe the world has undergone a basic shift.

Now intrinsically the decision for many is between paying for daily expenses vs servicing debt from the individual up to the largest corporation. Whats important is that banks are forced to tighten lending standards. As access to future credit wanes the desire to service current debt wanes right along with it.
Why pay the mortgage or credit cards if your credit rating is shot ?

Assuming the price of oil continues to rise the economy will increasingly choose to default on current debt regardless of its effect on future credit availability in order function over the short term.

Whats important is that this sort of scenario can't easily be corrected by playing banking games. Flooding the world with credit simply does not do any good. Its a cash flow game. Fractional reserve lending playing banking games etc can't change anything.

Any real money that makes it into the economy is quickly used for purchases of oil or goods and services created from oil its not used to create and service new or existing debt.

I'm not going to incite a war by discussing price because thats not the key factor the critical factor is that central banks which operate by creating new debt for debt junkies become increasingly powerless as the use of debt instruments is rejected in favor of survival.

Thats not to say that where debt is made available it won't be taken on just that it will fairly quickly be defaulted on.

Finally this is important because playing banking games to try and slow the economy become ineffective because they are based on adding and removing debt thats serviced. Economic changes become coupled to critical commodities not the debt supply.

This is why I think from now on out what we will see is ever increasing rates of defaults on debt esp if oil prices continue to increase. The economy will increasingly move towards cash flow and short term business survival. We have a huge amount of debt that can be defaulted on to free up cash for day to day needs. In my opinion we have barely seen the tip of the iceberg of whats coming.

Only after a substantial amount of the worlds debt has been defaulted on and rejection of debt can no longer free up cash flow do we move to the next phase where BAU is simply no longer possible.

If I'm right and production rates are falling rapidly all of this should happen fairly quickly. We should transition to a world of scarce oil and massive debt default this year and it should become very obvious starting next year as the worlds oil storage is drained.

Price of course will be determined by the supply demand balance but the underlying situation of defaulting on debt to buy oil is true regardless of the price. Relatively low prices would result only when defaulting on debt actually lowered oil consumption. I'd argue that this time this scenario is not the driving force instead we are defaulting on debt to buy oil. I.e debt defaults are occurring to maintain current consumption levels.

Thus is fundamentally different from 2007 early 2009 where debt was used to purchase oil in a over heated economy. In peak BAU debt was taken on to buy expensive oil in post BAU debt is rejected to free cash flow to buy oil.

Its simply a different world from the past.

This coupling of course hinges on the rate of change in oil supply. If its very slow i.e less than 4% per year then we probably won't see this stark of a change.
Debt defaults will start to fall off and oil prices will probably not rise all that much as simple conservation efforts can mute the decline rate. Whats important is in a slow decline scenario keeping your credit rating remains important while in a fast crash its the first thing that gets tossed.

And of course people in default on debt don't pay taxes so ....

I have noticed what you`re talking about.
A chain of electric appliance shops here called Yamada Denki is going through this debt-cashflow mill.
Four years ago--big remodeling of their store near my home, lots of new debt, added a restaurant.
Two years ago--started adding lots of shampoos and handbags and brand name watches and also magazines and toys to counter the slowdown in appliances.

Now they are selling socks, snackfoods, hamster food, dishwashing liquid, cheap towels, etc etc. ANYTHING to GENERATE CASH. The electric appliance section is shrinking every month (now less than half the store (a huge store) and it used to be all appliances).
Lately they have huge cardboard boxes in the aisles with tons of remainder items, odds and ends, so called "half price"....cheap or not?
It`s hard to know. But the store looks worse and worse, more desperate every month. The most interesting thing is the shrinkage in the cell phone section recently. The staff is clearly being reduced, it is often empty in the appliance section, but customers are buying hamster food and bags of snack peanuts in the "cheap" half of the shop.

It is obvious that they can`t hold out much longer. However, if they can (due to govt support) they will have to start selling less processed foods because those are cheaper. There will just be bags of dried beans someday....

It is quite interesting to watch this process take hold, the shopkeepers looking at their accounts and virtually capitulating: "give us any money you have on you, no matter how little, do you need a towel? Don`t you need some soap? C`mon, everyone needs soap, man!"

The customers meanwhile wish they could be big spenders again, but they are sorry, they can`t afford to eat and help out the suffering merchants too. "Sorry! I gotta eat or I starve....I need this money to eat so you can`t have it!"

It is quite sad. But in a way it`s a return to normal. In a cosmic sense, we`re children of scarcity, not abundance, as are all creatures. We understand scarcity in everyway, deeply; it means we have to conserve everything; water, soil, everything. Abudance had us confused and bewildered, "we`ll ruin the land and poison the water to live...ummm... better.....uh, yeah, that`s right, I guess..."

Abundance brought us obesity, white sugar, mountains of plastic trash, anti-depressants, traffic jams. Scarcity may do better for us in the long run....perhaps?

Tainter does also point out how a society experiencing reduced energy flows starts to focus on food, as more and more of income is needed to purchase food.

There is no way descent will mirror ascent -- it will be far steeper. One reason is that net energy, the amount of energy left after the amount needed to extract and produce is deducted, will decline quicker than gross, even if the curve for gross is symmetrical. Another is that the ever larger investments needed in new fields mean they will be drained ever more rapidly to get an adequate IRR on these huge investments. This delays peak, but steepens the inevitable decline.

In general, one looks at the population curve from 1850 to 2010 -- it goes up exponentially from 1 to 7 billion. But the resource consumption curve is many times steeper than that. It's not something that can be followed by a gentle and pleasant decline.

EDIT: The reason is that in the next decade or two on a continuation of that upward curve, we would use up more resources than were used up to now, and nature is in rebellion already.

If you where allowed to see a graph of world population 1900-2100 on the sole condition that you could not tell anyone would you? I think it likely that graph would be an exponential on the left smoothing to a curved peak followed by a series of precipitous steps down as entire regions get 'taken out'...


Undoubtedly yes. If it's a big tailoff, I start preparing for the worst now which gives me the best chance of survival. If it's BAU or a slow tailoff, then I amend my actions accordingly.

Why wouldn't you want to know? Surely if the answer is as bad, or worse, than you fear it is still better knowing...

If you where allowed to see a graph of world population 1900-2100 on the sole condition that you could not tell anyone would you?

No, not even without the condition. For more or less the same reason I would not want a genie to tell my due date. We are all afflicted with the Cleopatra Syndrome in one way or another (queen of denial).

Last nite we met some friends we haven't seen in a while. They are small landlords. A tenant they had become close friends with committed suicide. The lady friend, upon being told by the cops, lost her memory for 9 hours or so. She was surprised (and happy) to hear from her husband that Obama had won the election, but a few seconds later, gone again. Fine after nine. Point is, the mind can close down for a while to protect itself sometimes it would seem. I think this mechanism is in operation with all of us in many different forms, and on a societal scale too. I see it in others, harder to see in one's self.

This condition has already been documented in the psychosomatic blindness in survivors of the Pol Pot regime. The eyes are perfectly fine, but the mind doesn't want to see any more.


I was wondering... without secondary, tertiary, etc. recover techniques I guess we would probably be past peak oil now (yes?)

The data says we are already past world peak flows and ten years past lowest cost oil. But IMO peak oil is about the 'size of the tap' not 'the size of the barrel'.

The amount of investment made in 'the size of the tap' is decided entirely above ground and is about making a profit for producers from a product that eventiually becomes less affordable to consumers as it rises in price faster than their income. For producers the limit on their production is customers willing to pay the price required.

Prior to 'world' peak an individual country peaking has little effect on affordability because oil is fungible and can be sourced elsewhere for the same price. 'World' peaking is altogether different, there is no 'more-affordable' excess anywhere and the price rises massively to balance supply with demand as we have seen for ten years now.

The costs of production rise due to a complex mixture of geology, time lag to produce new sources, politics, availability of credit, technology limits etc. Without the technology improvements the oil would be more costly to produce (hence less affordable), but how big would the 'tap' have been ... much smaller than now? ... but we would have been far less depleted than now and maybe the oil would have stayed affordable because wages rose faster than the price of oil?

IMO, looking at the data, due to technology we are likely well over 50% of world URR and I expect a steep downslope, especially for me as I don't think my country will have the funds to import all the oil we need for anything like BAU oil use.

IMO, looking at the data, due to technology we are likely well over 50% of world URR and I expect a steep downslope, especially for me as I don't think my country will have the funds to import all the oil we need for anything like BAU oil use.

You're in the UK are you not? Do you know what we are importing each day against our useage. I can't find any numbers anywhere. I agree with you that whether or not we can get our hands on the stuff it is going to be prohibitvely expensive if the pound continues to slide. This is the catch-22. We need to import more and more oil each year just to maintain a constant consumption (due to NS decline) in order to keep BAU and grow GDP. Without growing GDP we can not finance the deficit and debt. Once the markets get wind of the fact that we aren't able to grow (and QE ceases) then the pound slides. Once the pound slides it is even more expensive to buy in the oil to spur on the GDP growth. A vicious cycle. Not looking good, but if you do have any numbers I would be grateful.

PS: on September 1st a litre of petrol/diesel will increase over night by 2.3p thanks to the increase in excise delayed from last year. Just in time to help the 'recovery'.

if you do have any numbers I would be grateful.

Jonathon's Energy Export Data Browser is good for sensing how the real world works, and not only for oil - the real world is not quite what PO theory leads a novice to expect:


(For peaking at 50% URR the area under the curve pre and post peak should be the same. If you invert the UK oil supply curve around a vertical axis through the 1999 peak you can see graphically we peaked waaay after 50% URR, in the region of 70% if you use UK official figures for reserves!)

The UK government has lots of statistics:


The EIA has lots of data:


It's lack of money to pay for any imports and the serious effects of the Export Land Model that will get us!
If these aren't enough let me know by my e-mail address.

thanks xeroid, much appreciated. I'll digest these links first but may have questions, cheers, Hugh

I agree with the reasons suggested above that the decline will be steeper than the ascent, and think that the recent data on Cantarell is particularly telling.

Also want to add one more reason this will be so: geopolitics. I've written about the effect of geopolitical feedback-loops here and gave a briefing on the topic at last year's ASPO conference that explain in detail. Here's the pretty picture:

I believe Robert Rapier lumped that particular phenomena into "Peak Lite" - at least for the aggregate, as without being near the true peak, the geopolitical aspect wouldn't have much effect and another region could just take up the slack.

I agree that, before a global peak is neared, geopolitical issues tend to have minimal and short-lived impacts on production because the lost production due to geopolitical issues in A can just be made up from increasing or beginning production from country B, C, D, etc. Once we near peak, and accellarating as we pass peak, this dynamic reverses: not only can geopolitical disruptions in A not be made up for by increasing production from B, C, or D, but the disruption in A exacerbates existing geopolitical situations not only in A, but ALSO in B, C, and D forming multiple positive feedback loops.

What no one seems to address is the fact that the fossil fuel recover system is dependant on energy input. How will this reduction of energy affect the entire recovery operation?

For instance: almost all the vehicles involved in strip-mining & mountaintop removal are powered by diesel. When diesel prices get too high - or diesel availabilty gets too low - will anyone build electric transmission lines to those coal deposits?

Probably not.

This net-energy argument is key, and one reason why there won't necessarily be a long tail of fossil fuel production. As you imply, at some point production from specific locations/sources simply stops because it becomes an energy sink. Sometimes an energy sink may make sense, on a limited scale, to tranform one type of energy (say, coal) into another (esp. liquid fuels), but this can't be true on a global level...

Far more likely that some other form of energy will be converted to gas or diesel -- e.g. coal to-diesel. But of course you are right -- this will mean a big escalation in the costs of mining, which in turn means a big increase in the cost of energy, since metals are used in all phases of hydrocarbon production and distribution.

The use of abundant below ground resources formed many a virtuous cycle during the ascendancy of industrialism -- the unwinding of these cycles will be more than equally vicious in the descent.

I also agree with that the curve will be steeper than the ascent. One reason that doesn't get mentioned very much is the infrasturture to support declining producing basins. In the U.S. we have over 500,000 producing wells(if I remember correctly). The U.S. gets over 20% of its oil from wells producing under 10 barrels a day. If we look at the production curve of the U.S., it has been quite liner. Peaking in 1970 and slowly declining. Most maturing basins will not have the money to support thousands of small fields and low producing wells which would lead to more of a gradual decline curve(especially if more production comes from offshore).

Also worth restating that current infrastructure was built on high(er)-EROEI energy. It's replacement will be build on low(er)-EROEI energy. The result is a lag time in EROEI declines, as current energy production is leveraging this previous infrastructure, and may be much less viable if that infrastructure has to be rebuilt on present EROEI energy. Quantifying how big an effect this is, however, gets very tricky...

I can't address the impact of global secondary recover methods too specifically. In the US such efforts have been going on for over 60 years on a general basis. Some folks think we can produce a lot more oil domestically from such efforts but I doubt it. The techniques are constantly being improved but there little potential for big stepwise changes in recovery. Overseas such efforts haven't been applied as rigorously as in the US but they are not unknown. Mexico's Cantrell Filed is a good example. Had not PEMEX installed the world's biggest nitrogen injection system on the field it would have peaked long ago instead of just recently. The Saudis have had major water injection programs in all their fields for decades.

How fast production will "unravel" is difficult to quantify. In water floods as seen in the big Saudi fields the decline rate is fairly constant and relatively low. This is true in most major fields. Old fields late in life have pretty low but consistent decline rates. Cantrell is an exception. As the nitrogen gas cap expands down dip it eventually reaches the producing wells. If it hits many of these wells in a short time period you will see a very sudden and rapid decline in production rates. I suspect this is what has happened there in the last few years.

The biggest decline rates in large fields will be seen in the new Deep Water fields. They may come on at several hundred thousands of barrels per day but few will be producing significant volume beyond 5 to 8 years. Bottom line, IMO, is that we'll continue to see a constant and relatively slow decline rate globally. But it may be difficult to see this decline given all the above ground factors which will control daily production volumes. This is why you can't just look at production rates over the last 30 years and project. Too many non-geologic factors influencing those rates.

This is a day of deep gloom for the McPeaksters, those preaching the gospel of "Peak Oil". The New York Times, otherwise deeply empathetic to oil patch pseudo science, this day burst one of the most entrenched of the oil patches' nuggets of disinformation, the theory of "Peak Oil".

Yep, I'm in deep mourning for the demise of the Theory of Peak Oil, How could I possibly have been so blind for so long. I can quit reading The Oil Drum and stop taking my anti depressants. Thank god there's really nothing to worry about. Wait a minute, today isn't April first is it?

If you think people like Lynch and Learsy are a pain for the peak oil aware, try dealing with the squadrons of flying monkey climate change deniers who flock from one web site to another spewing the same, many-times-debunked nonsense. It's like playing whack-a-mole, but with one mallet and about 200 whack-immune moles popping up all over.

Climate change...or *Anthropogenic induced* climate change? The first is pretty much impossible to deny, the second still needs some more evidence to roll in as to the *magnitude* of the contribution. At the moment it's almost a useless thing to consider due to the very direct destruction of habitat being a larger issue. Who cares about the effect of climate change on the rain forest or plains or arboreal forests if you're just going to slash and burn it, pave it over, or clear cut it.

Edit: P.S. Do not take that to mean that we shouldn't be doing anything about it "just in case" - 'cause the implications are too large.

*Anthropogenic induced* climate change... still needs some more evidence to roll in as to the *magnitude* of the contribution.

How many times does it need to be explained that it isn't about the *magnitude* of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), it's about the *rate.* The magnitude of anthropogenic climate change is unremarkable. The rate is several orders of magnitude more rapid than anything ever seen in the past. Natural selection and range shifts could well keep pace with the magnitude of ACC were it not for the inordinate & unprecedented rate at which it's occurring. The habitat destruction and fragmentation you allude to only worsens the picture. Anthropogenic mass extinction (AME) is the outcome.

How fast is climate changing?

Graph of the Day: Annual Inflow to Perth Dams, 1911-2009

Dammed fast!

If, the rainfall is less and less over more and more of the globe, and, sea levels rise on a continous basis, is this the real world outcome of the movie...WATERWORLD..?


Could it really come to that?

Well, no. If the entire cryosphere were to melt, sea level would rise about 200 meters. Which is huge, but we'd still have continents.

In fact, a warmer world is also a wetter world, so we expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of flooding events. Unfortunately, seasonal events like the monsoon are likely to change in unhappy ways.

Boo-hoo-hoo-haa-ha-ha, AAWW-Ha-HA-Ha-ha-hA. A-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!

It IS sad that a lying consultant is given credits and authority publicing utter bullsh*t. It's close to criminal IMO to push forward such disinformation and present these as facts.

Sounds like Lynch took his cue from Bernie Madoff--Party on until the fools catch on.

I heard it through the grape-vine: there is a lot of money to be made to be in the denier camps. The usual suspect: follow the money !!

Not close to criminal, it is criminal.

And he KNOWS that this as facts stated nonsence are lies:

Oil remains abundant, and the price will likely come down closer to the historical level of $30 a barrel as new supplies come forward in the deep waters off West Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and perhaps in the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota.

Unless he doesn't understand the basic facts.

What peak oil really means...when world economies push demand back up to levels of 2005-08, we will have to replace 1.5 million barrels a day loss just from Cantarell. I reckon they must have a source we don't know about.

2.03 million barrels a day in 2005, average

"Now let’s look at Cantarell’s production numbers for the most recent month of 2009, in July: 588,000"

when world economies push demand back up to levels of 2005-08, we will have to replace 1.5 million barrels a day loss just from Cantarell. I reckon they must have a source we don't know about.

That 1.5 mbd could come almost from just one field: Khurais in KSA. It should produce 1.2 mbd.

Nathan A. Martin's finance blog has some amazing charts...

Buckle the Heck Up

To prove my point, I’m going to show you the week in charts courtesy of the St. Louis Fed. This week, however, I’m issuing a WARNING. The evidence in these charts points to the beginning of a DEFLATIONARY SPIRAL. The PPI data comes out next week and will be a key piece of evidence in this regard. The results of a deflationary spiral will be UGLY if entered. You will see another round of deleveraging to go with locked credit markets. Equities will get hammered and the real cleansing of the economy will accelerate. This process will be PAINFUL but necessary to end the malinvestment. It will be the phase where more businesses who were hanging on HOPING for recovery will simply run out of cashflow to maintain operations. The same thing is necessary to cleanse a way over-bloated government and military.

The fallout will affect everyone. These charts are HISTORIC, they are NOT indicative of a short recession. As you view these charts, pay attention to the negative trends and look at them from a historic perspective. Many market callers are looking for immediate inflation due to the money pumping. I challenge them to point out inflation anywhere in these charts besides the money aggregates, which, by the way, are not growing at the rate they were. Those who look solely at the money aggregates are not seeing the destruction of credit which is very real and has hobbled the consumer. Never ending growth was a fantasy and is over for the time being, there is simply too much debt/credit in the system.

Debt, Interest Rates, and Monetary Trends - Click...

We are at the end of an era, the era of leverage. We are now staring down the end of a loaded gun with our own finger on the trigger. We can choose to normalize interest rates and suck up the fact that debts don’t grow forever, OR we can pull the trigger and continue to print and to run up debts that we cannot service. The latter is fiscal and governmental suicide. The latter will lead to a loss of confidence in government and the demise of the dollar. That is NOT INFLATION!! That is a LOSS OF CONFIDENCE in a fiat money system, two different things – they are not just a matter of degree.

We are living in the biggest financial bubble in history.

You might be interested in watching Paul Grignon's "Money as Debt II Promises Unleashed" This is available in eight parts on youtube (or to buy on DVD) and is a sequel to his animation exposing the fundamental truth and fraud about money and debt.

Australian economist Steve Keen is one of the very few who have called this economic crisis correctly. Keen is distinguished by his economic forecasts are based on levels of debt and changes in levels of debt as opposed to money supply, output capacity and other things that led most economists astray.
You can hear what he had to say at

IMHO both are very well worth watching.

Nathan seems to understand that things changed in the 70s when the gold standard was completely abandoned so that governments could spend more than they taxed, relations with China were eased that ultimately led to offshoring.

Interesting to see the prairie chickens in the energy news. Here in central Wisconsin there is a small remnant greater prairie chicken population which has been studied for over 50 years. The prairie chickens have evolved to avoid tall structures (trees) near their mating grounds as these landscape features often harbor unfriendly birds of prey that take advantage of their short attention span during the lek. It is not accurate to portray the turbines as "bird blenders" as they do a decent job avoiding running into such obvious objects; the problem is that the bird will not mate at a site where turbines or trees are prominently visible on the horizon (hence the 5 mile zone). Since one male dominates each lek, the effective population size is roughly two times to the number of mating sites. Roughly 250 different leks need to be maintained in order to conserve genetic diversity.

Prairie chickens are closely related to the heath hen, a once common east coast bird that eventually saw its habitat shrink to a tiny area on Martha's Vineyard. It was one of the first species that North Americans really tried to save from extinction and a failure at that (though there are still portions of the island protected from development due to that early 20th Century effort). Among the lessons learned (that still apply to lesser prairie chicken in TX and elsewhere): The effective population size (the # engaged in mating) is more important than the census population, and there are some species that depend upon landscape disturbances to thrive (so "preserving the status quo" is not always helpful).

Clifford Claven

Wind turbines may not be "bird blenders" for prairie chickens, who stay largely on the ground, but they are for raptors & many neotropical migratory songbirds whose populations are already in decline from habitat loss and other factors. The meager amount of electricity provided by wind turbines, when the wind happens to be blowing, is not worth the mortality to birds & bats who eat insects detrimental to agriculture.

I heard something on the radio a few days ago that a few biologist worry that the Brown Bat may be on a path to extinction from the White Nose fungus.

I hope not.

So I am, it would be horrible...


We can tell our grandkids about the bats and the bees.

Without bees it will be very difficult to feed the world. No bees, no grandkids.

While the loss of honey bees will be tragic, I believe you are overestimating their importance to pollination of the food supply. In areas dramatically impacted by colony collapse, substitute pollinators quickly replace them. And remember, the honey bee is not even native to North America, it's an import brought purposefully by Europeans.

I'm depending on them to hand pollinate.
I also have bumble bees and a wide variety of wasps which will help some.

Hi Mike,

I don't think our area (coastal northern CA for those who don't "know" us) has to worry about bees since there is essentially no use of commercial hives within a hundred miles of us.

We have a honey bee tree just outside the garden - although it's been there for several years and they'll probably swarm in the next few years. But, based on honey bees gathering water from our fish pond, there are at least three other colonies in the area. I'm overrun by honey bees. And, now that there are fewer flowers, they are starting to eat my berry crops. I can't bring myself to kill them like I'd do with yellow jackets.

Like you, we also have a ton of various bumble bees plus some wood bees.


Hey, Todd

I still lots of honey bees around. The beekeepers I know haven't had problems with CCD yet. The mite problem seems to have stabilized. I don't keep bees anymore, but I'd say our biggest problem was bears. Yellow jacket tip...if you can find the entrance to their hive, put a glass bowl over it. They see the sun, so they don't try and dig another opening. They'll starve to death.

Back at ya - I gave up on hives 25 years ago because of the number of bears we have although last year wasn't too bad. As far as yellow jackets go, I'm meaner than you. I go out after dark (so they're all back in the nest) and pour gas into the nest and put a brick on top. Just did it the night before last. I still have to find another one in the garden because some are still around.


You're one of the lucky ones. Most areas are reporting fewer or no wild honeybees. It's true they are imported and the Americas grew lots of food without them. But...I'm on several garden sites and many gardeners are telling of shortages of all pollinators and that would include my woodland garden. Many comments on hand pollination of melons, squash, and such.

Interestingly, I read a comment that said the Colorado Potato bug was a no show this year and that was also true in my garden. I've also noted a drop off in the number and variety of butterflies this year.

Not sure if it would grow in most of the country but where I live the fernbush (Chamaebatiera) is an amazing attractor of lepidopterans & pollinating hymenopterans. If you have several of these growing around your garden you will have plenty of wasps & bees of every sort all over it so long as it's in bloom, which is pretty much all summer long. I live just to the east of its endemic range but it does well here. It is common around the Grand Canyon and in southern Utah. It's very xeric adapted too; in fact, it does best when it receives no supplemental irrigation. The bees and wasps seem so intoxicated by its nectar that you can brush up against them and they won't even sting. They go right back to the small white blossoms.

darwinsdog -

I find it really difficult to see how wind turbines can cause very much widespread damage to birds and bats. Even in areas with a high concentration of wind turbines, the circular swept area of the blades is but a very small fraction of the total vertical area of low-level air (say below 500 ft) through which these creatures would normally fly.

If I understand correctly, the bats get killed by encountering a sudden low-pressure region as it passes through the turbine's swept area, and that the low pressure damages the bat's lungs. However, the mechanism for birds getting killed is direct collision with the blades. As the blades constitute but a relatively small fraction of the turbine's swept area, the 'danger area' for birds would appear to be far less than the actual swept area of the turbine. In other words, if the area of the blades is say 15% of the swept area, then a bird has roughly an 85% chance of flying through the swept area without getting splattered.

I would also think that the strong low-frequency noise of a wind turbine would tend to drive birds and bats away from the area of the turbine. And if worse comes to worst, I suppose one could always put blinking lights on the blade tips. (Might make for a cool light show at night or an even greater nuisance, depending on one's point of view.)

I readily concede and have said as much before, that wind turbines constitute a relatively insignificant source of avian & chiropteran mortality. But when populations are already stressed from a plethora of other more significant factors, they don't need another source of mortality however slight. And the number of wind turbines is increasing. There are turbine designs that preclude impact with flying vertebrates; unfortunately, these are "less efficient" than standard designs. If wind energy is going to be resorted to, I would certainly recommend that this loss of efficiency be tolerated, for the sake of protecting birds & bats. As for putting blinking lights on blade tips, this would probably be as ineffective as "belling the cat." Birds hear the bell but haven't been equipped by natural selection to associate the sound of the bell with danger. The same would probably be true of lights on blade tips.

Relative risk comparison of death of birds from windmills vs domestic house cats.
The windmills are insignificant.

Tim McVeigh killed fewer people than did Hitler. Therefore, it was okay for Tim McVeigh to kill. Same logic. Same stupid knee jerk reply.

I did not intend to imply that I thought it was ok to kill birds. I really hate to see birds killed or any wild animal for that matter. I do feel that the number of birds killed by domestic cats is horrendous and this really bothers me.

Yes we should be careful where and how we install windmills to minimize bird kills and
habitat disruption. We also need to realize relative risk. Driving cars kills birds so does driving a car put us at the same level as McVeigh? Sorry I do not agree with this basic line of thought.

Every energy supply option has environmental cost and I feel that windmills are better than most. I think it is shortsighted to trash windmills over the bird issue.

I did not intend to imply that I thought it was ok to kill birds. I really hate to see birds killed or any wild animal for that matter. I do feel that the number of birds killed by domestic cats is horrendous and this really bothers me.

Fair enough. I'm sorry if my reply was brusque. It's just that every time the subject of birds being killed by windmills is mentioned, someone seems to have to mention the fact that cats kill more birds than windmills do. As if something worse justifies something bad. I too regret that so many birds are killed by cats. The little feral kitten we adopted is never allowed outside.

Bad analogy. Doubly bad since you don't make any comparison to the bird kill rate of the technologies that wind power is supplanting. Coal power probably kills more birds per kWh than wind, but nobody wanders around coal plants and their exhaust plumes looking for dead birds.

Nothing we do on any big scale is going to be without impact to the environment. The best we can hope for is to minimize that impact.

Wind power generation has a lower overall impact than just about any other electricity generating technology out there.

On the other hand, the risk of Tripods is one that would concern me.

From the NY Times Freakonomics piece linked above:

After his takedown of the peak oil argument, Lynch makes perhaps the most important point: that just because oil isn’t running out any time soon is no reason not to develop alternatives.

Lynch made no such point. Whatever concession Lynch made to pursuing alternatives was completely undermined by his closing paragraph in which he identifies alternative energy as the enemy, and vows to take no prisoners.

This 'even handed' treatment of Lynch is journalistic cowardice, pure and simple.

KSA is plainly orchestrating a PR campaign to undermine energy competitors to oil. In the days leading up to the NYT editorial, Drumbeat linked to increasingly strident Middle East editorials rebutting concerns about oil supply.

Well and good. They have made some noise. Now all they have to do is make some oil...

What's interesting about the energy side (some major oil companies, some major oil exporters and some energy analysts) of the "Iron Triangle" is that they apparently believe in Technological Fairy Dust (TFD), i.e., if we sprinkle enough TFD on old oil fields and on oil producing regions, they will virtually never decline. They make this assertion despite the examples like Texas & the North Sea--developed by private companies, using the best available technology, with virtually no restrictions on drilling. BTW, note that the MSM side of the Iron Triangle is breathlessly reporting that TFD will save us, and of course the MSM are supported by advertisers, especially in the auto/housing/finance sectors, which is the third side of the Iron Triangle.

In any case, people like Kenneth Deffeyes made a specific prediction about a world peak in the 2004-2008 time frame, most likely in 2005, and he showed his work, basing his prediction on the logistic (HL) method. As we all know, world crude oil production stopped growing in 2005, despite much higher oil prices, at about the same stage of depletion (based on HL) that the US Lower 48 and the North Sea peaked, also in response to higher oil prices. Deffeyes did erroneously observe that the world probably peaked in 2000, but he never backed away from what his model showed. But in contrast to the vague hand waving assertions that TFD will save us, Deffeyes explained specifically what his prediction was based on, and so far it appears that he was correct. To some extent we may be seeing a CPSR--Cornucopian Primal Scream Response.

However, relatively speaking, Peak Oil is the "Good News." The bad new is Peak Exports. Based on 2006-2008 data and based on Sam's modeling, it appears likely that the top five net oil exporters probably shipped about one-fifth of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports in just the past three years. The energy side of the Iron Triangle continues to (at least implicitly) offer consumers the worst possible advice at the worst possible time, to-wit, Party On Dude.

Can someone please tell me what this 'MSM' is?

Mainstream media.

You can Google acronyms, and usually figure out what they mean.

First 10 results gives 2:

MSM = methylsulfonylmethane (solvent; dietary supplement for joints (not necessary, stick to sulfonyl-group containing foods)

MSM = Morehouse School of Medicine

And the third one is The term "MSM" or "mainstream media" has been widely used in the blogosphere in discussion of the mass media and media bias. ...

My Google gives it only in result nr. 29:

nblicsro.msm.edu · Cached pageMSM - What does MSM stand for? Acronyms and abbreviations by the Free ...
Acronym Definition; MSM: Mainstream Media: MSM: Men who have Sex with Men (health/medical) MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane: MSM: Morehouse School of Medicine: MSM: Muscat Securities Market

Try searching for: abbreviation MSM

Here's the first link that appears:

It's the third result I get. You are probably getting different results because you're overseas.

Wikipedia is a good alternative to Google. If there's a lot of Wikipedia entries, Google usually works better, because the most-used pop to the top.

Google is also useful for decoding "emoticons."

Yes, looking for 'abbreviation MSM' is better. Then it's the third result here (Curaçao) also.
Anyhow, my post above was a mixture of humor and irony. I don't know why it is shortened.

I edited it because it was too long and off-topic.

'Message stream modification' as alternative for Mainstream media you could have saved though. So many things in MSM are modified for whatever reason.

Mainstream Media

MSM Mainstream Media

To me the logical follow up question is who is considered the MSM? A few weeks ago I got gently boxed around the ears here ;-) for suggesting Jon Stewart is not part of the MSM.

I think it might have been determined that he is on the fringe of the MSM.

So, I guess there are degrees...Is FOX MSM? If the Daily Show is (and the fringe) and say CNN, CBS, NBC, and ABC are for sure then you have a pretty broad spectrum.

And there are some that will not go near the MSM, but I figure it's good to know what the masses are being fed.


Stewart's in the SUP..

'Stand-up Philosophers'

(Nod to Mel Brooks!)

KSA is definitely in on it, but I don't think this is all about them. My theory:

1. The Obama administration has been backed into a corner over the health care plan. They have to pull out a win on this one, but can't, unless. . .

2. They gain the support of some critical oil-state and deficit-hawk Blue Dogs. Their price. . .

3. The Obama administration must back peddle on "green energy", and announce that they are postponing their initiatives on renewables and energy efficiency (including passenger rail) as being "too expensive" to do right now, given the budget deficit. In order to pre-condition the public to accept this. . .

4. Efforts are now under way to place various statements from non-administration and non-oilco personages in the media discrediting renewables and energy efficiency initiatives. In this effort. . .

5. The KSA is a convenient and enthusiastic collaborator, their interests in this case coinciding perfectly with what the Obama administration has secretly committed to doing.

As I said in another post, this is a testable hypothesis. If we see an increase in these types of attacks on renewables and energy efficiency in the media in the weeks ahead, followed by a postponement announcement from the White House, followed by passage of the health plan with substantial Blue Dog support, then this will be strong confirmation that such a back room deal has in fact been struck.

The trouble with this line of thought is that the price of PV is dropping like a stone. One can buy PV panels today for less than $2.50 a peak watt in a 200 watt panel on eBay. Shipping is extra. If this continues, we may very well see PV become less expensive than electricity delivered to the customer by the local utility. One can purchase 10 panels producing 2 kw peak for around $5,000 plus shipping. Assuming about 5 hours of sun, that's 10 kWh. At that rate, one might simply wire those panels into one's hot water heater, thus no inverter or batteries would be needed. The result would be less expensive than present flat plate solar thermal systems.

No wonder KSA is worried. It's looking like the Chinese are going to flood the market with cheap PV and that is likely to upset the apple cart, so to speak.

E. Swanson

Black Dog you are obviously a lot more sophisticated in the panel talk application than I. How do you wire a DC output from the panels into an AC base product? I can run my hot water heater for the rest of my life for $5K. Can you provide better detail as I am very interested in adding solar capablilty especially if its close to parity cost wise.

scroll down abit. you'd still need to control the amps

The devices at that site are about what I had in mind. Remember, though, these are to be used for wind generators with the reasoning being to protect against over voltages when the wind generator output is not charging batteries. My thinking is to use the bottom heating element in a typical hot water heater by hooking it directly to the PV panels. PV panels do not normally experience higher output voltage, instead they often produce less voltage than that required to charge a bank of batteries. When wired directly to a resistance load in the tank, that low voltage energy from the PV would still available.

One would need to be careful to match the heating element to the maximum output of the panels, to prevent a burnout. Several different elements are listed at the linked site. The fast recovery elements in my hot water tank are rated for 5500 watts at 240 volts. I think that they would easily work with 24 volts DC, which I believe would result in a 1000 watt input to the tank. Wired with 48 volts, the input would jump to 2000 watts.

Add a tempering valve to the output of the tank set at your desired maximum temperature and allow the tank temperature to rise to some desired level below the boiling point, say 195F. The tempering valve would "stretch" the amount of heated water produced at a desired temperature (120F or so), the result being a much larger volume than that which would be within the tank. The typical solar thermal system uses a large, expensive tank and heat exchanger, perhaps 80 gallons, since the panels become less efficient at higher temperatures. Using PV panels, the output increases at low temperature, while solar thermal panel output declines as the temperature drops in Winter. Be aware that the PV panels do not function when shadowed, so they must be placed where there are no trees, etc, which would cause shading during the peak hours of sunlight.

I would leave the upper element attached to the grid supply. If the draw on the tank reduces the temperature below the thermostat setting for that element, it would switch on, heating the upper layer of water while leaving the bottom layers cold. You would always have hot water with this setup. There would be no direct connection between the PV power and the utility supply.

WARNING: An overheat cutoff device wired into the PV circuit would be mandatory, in addition to the usual temperature/pressure relief valve required for all hot waters.

E. Swanson

Assuming about 5 hours of sun, that's 10 kWh

In my experience of solar power don't assume anything - rated PV peak power for 5 hours a day for passive solar shouldn't be assumed.

Don't plan for averages, plan for extremes - your situation will almost never be average, especially at high lattitude.

Also, check what your actual need for electricity is at all times of the year - in the UK we use ~112 kWh per person per day of primary energy, of which about half is by the government on our behalf.

In the UK electricity usage is ~3,500 kWh for an average family of 4 in a house heated by gas - but a very large proportion is used in the winter when we have short overcast days, any system generating electricity reliably has to be sized to cope with extremes.

Soon, nearly all our primary energy will need to be electrical, that includes transport, heating your house etc - I suspect houses will need to be much smaller per person than now - if you are anything like an average user, to produce even a massively inadequate 2kWp you will need somewhere around 125 sqare feet of PV facing south at the optimum angle (which varies throughout the year) and most importantly the sun needs to be shining, a lot of domestic electricty is used when it is dark - you need to plan for when the sun doesn't shine. IMO don't plan on biofuels taking up post peak liquid fuel slack, food will take priority over all other uses.

Your $5000 might be better spent insulating your house so you don't need the power.

What I suggested was a system for producing hot water (see previous details above). In my case, I already have some 540 ft2 of south wall solar collector dedicated to winter heating. And, I also have built my house with super insulation so that I don't require as much thermal input in winter as that for a typical U.S. house. I also know that it's possible to do better than what I've achieved, since it's been more than 10 years since I designed my house.

With propane for the stove and backup space heating, CFL's or florescents for most lights, I typically use only 10 kWh of electricity per day. Most of that is for heating water, which would be cut considerably when I get around to installing my 25 year old 1x2 meter solar thermal panels, which were imported from Japan. Admittedly, I'm living alone, but the space heating would be about the same for a family, since my house when completed might be finished with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.

E. Swanson

Like me you are an early adopter, but IMO most people use much more energy than you, for them PV isn't the first priority and actually may be of no use at all as it could be far more expensive than other viable alternatives.

I would advise people with little knowledge of PV to take care, there are lots of dubious sales people in the world looking to make a living anyway they can.

IMO if you want solar hot water use evacuated tubes - very simple, low tech, efficient and effective.

... just because oil isn’t running out any time soon is no reason not to develop alternatives.

Maybe I'm just thick-headed, but in parsing the triple-negative there I read the opposite to Lynch's conclusion.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 21, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.5 million barrels per day during the week ending August 21, 21 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 84.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.0 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.2 million barrels per day last week, up 1.1 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.0 million barrels per day, 1.2 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 132 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 0.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 343.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.7 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while gasoline blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 3.1 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Regarding the Plastic Bag ban in China saving all that oil:
So now, instead of the carbon being trapped in the plastic bags, it will be burned in cars and factories worsening global warming.

Me thinks the Chinese are being economical and not environmental.


that'll be Jevons Global Warming Plastic Bag Paradox...


I think it may become clear that there is not enough canvas/jute bags manufactured to replace plastic. I don't know if we can grow enough cotton to replace plastic. Funny world that we developed.

I think it may become clear that there is not enough canvas/jute bags manufactured to replace plastic. I don't know if we can grow enough cotton to replace plastic. Funny world that we developed.

Methinks you are assuming the canvas/jute bags will be used once and thrown away. If they are reused, (I almost alway remember to carry a few bags when I go to the grocery store -they give a credit of $.06 to %.10 per bag), then you only need a few per capita.

Sure canvas bags are much better than the alternatives and I use them exclusively; however, that has nothing to do with my thoughts on the limitations of canvas production.

Sure canvas bags are much better than the alternatives and I use them exclusively; however, that has nothing to do with my thoughts on the limitations of canvas production.

But, if they are used say a hunderd times before being discarded, then one bag has displaced 100 disposables. So you need orders of magnitude fewer resources. Of course my favorite reusable shopping bag happens to be made of plastic (it was a promotional giveaway).

My disposable bags have been (mostly) replaced by 5 canvas bags and 3 plastic reusables (the ones that feel fabricky but can't be, and are sort of semi-reusable), which rotate in and out of the car and the house, loaded with everything I buy. I imagine keeping them a long time, but I use them a lot, and given that I shop for 5, I need at least 3 or 4, whether I go to the market, the grocery store, or even pick up the CSA vegies.

It may well be that hundreds of millions of canvas bags are not so great for the environment, though they are biodegradable.

Australia signs deal to build natural gas pipeline to China

I heard on Radio Australia shortwave this morning that a deal has been struck to build a pipeline to China. The deal was signed by the usual companies - Exxon/Mobil, etc..

Has anyone seen this in the news? I have not yet seen anything in print.

Diego -- Sorry...don't have links handy but should Google easily. Not a pipeline. It will be exported as LNG. Huge deal though: last I saw it was worth about $75 billion in total sales. In think the folks in southern Ast. were a bit peeved. They wanted to keep the NG for themselves but didn't want to spend the billions to build the pipeline. The LNG plants will cost billions also but essentially the Chinese are guarenteeing Exxon(and the Ast. gov't) a profit on that investment.

Thanks Rockman,

I had to explain to my wife that selling out your own gas to China is a bad move because you can't put money into a gas tank. They will need to ensure that they make so much money that they can use said money to develop their own gas supplies when they need it. I would think that is now but I guess the government down there does not see it that way.

I will Google it. Perhaps they are building a pipeline to the coast so they can load the LNG ships? I wonder if they will go through the Malacca straits? There was a tanker collision there about a week or two ago.

I'm also going to Email a friend in Sydney to see what she knows.

I thought Australia might have looked into CNG (compressed natural gas) cars and filling stations like they have in Brazil and Argentina. It costs less per mile to use CNG. CNG requires an infrastructure of natural gas pipelines.

China has been using natural gas for buses, taxis, etc.

In the United States UPS runs its delivery trucks on natural gas.


Just found this. Yeah, population growth is no problem! Loads of resources to go around.

EPA: Chemicals found in Wyo. drinking water might be from natural gas drilling

Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March.

World’s largest producing oil fields.

Field                 Country              Production in barrels per day
Ghawar                Saudi Arabia         5,000,000
Burgan                Kuwait               1,200,000
Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli Azerbaijan             850,000
Ku-Maloob-Zaap        Mexico                 787,000
Samotlor              Russia                 750,000
Zakum                 UAE                    750,000
Cantarell             Mexico                 588,210

Samotlor oil field brings Russia to top

This article says Samotlor is tied for number five but they forgot about Mexico’s Ku-Maloob-Zap. Of course you might say that is three fields, not one. But they do included Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli which is also three fields. And they don't include Saudi's Khurais. But there has been no announcement as to what Khurais is producing. We can only guess. Anyway….

Samotlor, which began production in 1969, is operated by the Anglo-Russian venture TNK-BP. Russian-language business daily Vedomosti reports the field is 80 percent depleted, though analysts expect production to continue for at least another decade.

I suspect that most of the fields listed are all past peak with two 80 percent depleted and the rest somewhere between 50 and 80 percent depleted, with the exception of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli which is a new field.

Ron P.

We all know Cantarell is crashing (has been for a while now), but I was under the impression Daqing was still producing about, or at least close to, 1,000,000 bpd.

Of course it's good to remember that Daqing is VERY mature as well, although I haven't seen any figures about the depletion level. Any info on the state of Daqing, anyone?

Yes it looks like they forgot Daqing also. I can't find anything current on Daquig but it looks like it is producing about 700,000 barrels per day and falling fast.

China's Daqing Oil Field Passes Peak

Annual crude oil output at Daqing Oil Field, China's largest oil field, will fall to 30 million tons by 2010, a steep drop of 18.4 million tons from last year's level, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

The problem is this column is not dated. But a guess would be 2004. But I don't know exactly when they were prodcing 48.4 million tons per year. Anyway that converts to about 950,000 barrels per day and expected to fall to 600,000 bp/d by next year.

And I have a correction to my above post. The figures for Ku-Maloob-Zaap listed above is boe, not crude. Most of that production is natural gas, only 130,000 barrels per day is oil. So scratch that field from the list.

Edit: Wikipedia says Daqing is producing one million barrels per day so there is a disconnect with the article I posted. Perhaps Wiki is quoting boe, which is what confused me with the Mexican field.

Ron P.


This January, 2008 article puts estimated 2009 Daqing production at about 780,000 bpd (using a 7.3 tons to barrels conversion).

The 2007 decline rate was -4.2%/year.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Burgan was showing serious signs of declining rates. If memory serves the report stated that the Kuwaities were throwing every last well open to keep the output up. Is this correct?

It's simply too hard for me to understand (believe) that the worlds 5th largest field Samotlor (750 000 b/d) will be "depleted" in only 10 years, as the quote hints.We shall see.

Interesting Wikipedia on Burgan
("Current production" as of November 2005) .... Farouk Al Zanki, Chairman of state-owned Kuwait Oil, reported that the Burgan oil field production levels are running down.[1] Burgan will now produce 1.7 mbpd rather than 2 mbpd for the rest of its 30 to 40 years. He said that engineers had tried to maintain 1.9 million barrels per day (300,000 m³/d) but that 1.7 million is the optimum rate

Rapid movements I'd say. Burgan as of today, 2009, rated at 1,2 mb/d

Burgan will now produce 1.7 mbpd rather than 2 mbpd for the rest of its 30 to 40 years.

Right, Burgen will produce 1.7 mb/d right up until the day it produces its last barrel. Do you think the Chairman of state-owned Kuwait Oil really believes that? If he made that statement in 2005 then by now he is well aware of the fact that is just now how it works.

The source of the data for the first article posted was none other than CERA. That is Dan Yergin and Co. I found another article that quotes the same data.

ACG oil field world's third largest

IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an adviser to international energy companies, governments and financial institutions, released its 2009 list of the world's largest oil fields and top oil producing nations.

The Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia topped the list with a production level of 5 million barrels per day. The Burgan field in Kuwait placed second with a production rate of 1.2 million bpd, while ACG came in third with 850,000 bpd.

I think we can now safely state that Bergin is declining pretty fast. If it once produced 2 mb/d and produced 1.7 mb/d as recently as 2005 and is now down to 1.2 mb/d, that is pretty swift decline.

Ron P.

"Farouk Al Zanki, Chairman of state-owned Kuwait Oil, reported that the Burgan oil field production levels are running down.[1] Burgan will now produce 1.7 mbpd rather than 2 mbpd for the rest of its 30 to 40 years." Posted by Paal Myrtvedt

Surely he isn't saying that Burgan will produce 1.7 MBD consistantly for 30-40 years? No declines or depletion, no going down the backside of the field's own Hubbert's Curve? Am I to conclude that their reserves will be the same in 30-40 years also?

Antoinetta III

well, here is an original source Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Kuwait Oil Field, World's 2nd Largest, Is `Exhausted' (Update2) propagated via Wikipedia . ( Constant 1,7 mb/d .... for 30 to 40 years ! Just like that).
And with that Heading containing "Is `Exhausted" in it .. can an oil play delivering 1,7 mb/d flat for at least 30 more years already be considered exhausted ? Which other English words has the Cartoon character Farouk Al Zanki problems with ? Maybe he is number challenged as well ?

Answers-dot-com ; Exhausted , Meaning #2: completely emptied of resources or properties. (Put oil in for resources ....)

from Bloomberg

The plateau in output from the Burgan field will be about 1.7 million barrels a day, rather than as much as the 2 million a day that engineers had forecast could be maintained for the rest of the field's 30 to 40 years of life, said Farouk al-Zanki

Obviously engineers had forecasted 2 mb/d a day for the rest of the field's 30 to 40 years of life - just PRIOR to the 2005 requantification at 1,7. Yes Ron - Burgan must be falling off a cliff .... of some sort.

He he , also take a look at IEA's utter bullcrap within the article - "detailed and exact" hogwash numbers 25 years into the future.

To be sure, the plateau in supply if achieved would be higher than a projection from the IEA. This week the Paris-based group said output from the Greater Burgan area will increase from 1.35 million barrels a day in 2004 to 1.64 million a day in 2020, before falling to 1.53 million a day in 2030. The field now pumps between 1.3 million and 1.7 million barrels a day, al-Zanki said.

For those seeking a greater understanding [with much graphic detail] of Kuwaiti reservoir development and stratigraphic history, plus an examination of existing tarmat migration impeding EOR & EXOR development of discrete prior-swept areas:

• A significant hiatus or disconformity is present across the Aptian-Albian boundary, but it is thought to lie, not at the Shu’aiba-Burgan contact, but within the Burgan at the contact of the basal shales (now thought to be of Late Aptian age) with the base of the Burgan Main or Fourth sand (of ?Mid-Albian age).
• A second major hiatus or disconformity is thought to lie at the contact of the Ratawi Shale (now thought to be no younger than Early Valanginian) with the base of the Zubair Formation (of Late Hauterivian age).

Identification, Origin and Distribution of Tarmats in Upper Zubair Sand Reservoir, Raudhatain Field, North Kuwait

The Upper Zubair Formation is a giant reservoir consisting of 350 ft of excellent quality sandstone. This main producing reservoir has a 100 thick tar mat historically encountered near oil water contact. Recently, a well completed in the crestal part of structure above tar mat zone and in good quality sand did not contribute to oil production and presence of tar was suspected.

..Current study helps in identifying and mapping the tar and heavy oil zones in the reservoir. Distribution of tar mat of diverse origin needs to be understood well in advance to have realistic estimation of movable hydrocarbon.

..Zubair reservoir is one of the prolific producing horizons in North Kuwait. It is overlain by three other producing reservoirs: Lower Burgan, Upper Burgan and Mauddud. The Upper Zubair sand horizon holds most of the inplace oil of the Zubair reservoir in estuarine channels. It is on continuous production since 1960.

..Later, presence of a thick zone of tar above the mapped window was detected from a crestal well completed in thick estuarine channels.

One of the disastrous consequences of the 1991 Arabian Gulf War was the burning of oil wells and the subsequent creation of oil lakes. During the War, Iraqi forces set ablaze 656 active oil producing wells and damaged 74 other for the crude oil to gush freely...
My guess is since Kuwaiti fields generally have a strong natural aquifer water drive, when Saddam's men blew these wells so that they flowed free-- the resulting non-optimal water sweep has caused all sorts of problems that are showing up now in reduced production as they move to hi-tech methods. Tarmat migration is just one indicator.

From the "Computer Hackers Threat" up top:

computer viruses have caused personnel injuries and production losses on North Sea platforms

WTF?! Does this mean what it seems to, that offshore oil platforms have critical infrastructure being controlled by computers running MSWindows?!

It's a miracle nobody has died, haven't they read the EULA?

If they are really concerned about hackers, I'd recommend they have IBM or Sun port their control software to a secure OS. To do otherwise would be the epitome of "penny wise, pound foolish".

What about that penguin chap... Linux?

I'd go with whatever secure OS the chosen development team was most comfortable with.

Interestingly enough, there are configurations of MSWindows that have achieved an EAL-4 level certification despite the reputation of the whole OS line for having the security characteristics of gasoline-soaked swiss cheese.

Trusted Solaris would be a good starting point, IMHO. There are other choices that are as good, or possibly even better, but it pays to be as paranoid as possible on the base when lives and livelihoods are on the line on the scale of offshore rigs.

I mean, you wouldn't buy drill pipe from a company that specialized in recycling Yugos, would you?

It is not just platforms that we should worry about - what about Windows for Warships (from 2007)?


Nonetheless, BAE Systems subsidiary Insyte, the UK's sole provider of warship command systems, has decided to standardise on Win2k (this was during the company's former incarnation as AMS).

The Type 45 destroyers now being launched will run Windows for Warships: and that's not all. The attack submarine Torbay has been retrofitted with Microsoft-based command systems, and as time goes by the rest of the British submarine fleet will get the same treatment, including the Vanguard class (V class). The V boats carry the UK's nuclear weapons and are armed with Trident ICBMs, tipped with multiple H-bomb warheads.

Followed in 2009 by (surprise!)


Computer systems were disabled on warships and armed forces bases by the Ministry of Defence after a virus spread through a Ministry of Defence network.

Neo-colonialism hard at work again:

A storm brews over food, water & power

But it is not Ukrainian money and know-how which is driving this agricultural revolution. It is foreign governments and companies.

The Libyans are negotiating for land here, as are the Russians and others.

Many governments are looking to secure land overseas as a way to ensure the food supply to their country does not fail.

In this part of Ukraine it is the British, in the form of the company Landkom, who are making moves which are transforming the landscape, investing millions in machinery and infrastructure.


Seemingly Landkom is farming 100 sq miles of Ukraine. IIRC trading companies formed the bridgehead for the expansion of the British Empire, the military followed. Its not infeasible to expect something similar as corporations scour the Earth for resources, become so important to the parent nation (too important to fail) that the nation has to employ the military to provide security for them. Mission creep then ends with entire countries coming under direct control as de facto colonies. Possibly NATO may become the colonising agent.

About that Florida gas station that can't afford to upgrade their tanks for ethanol: Matt Simmons did say the oil and gas industry would need to spend $50-100 trillion to replace aging infrastructure. Sounds ridiculously high to me, but all this nickel and dime stuff like filling stations adds up.

In line with the Cash for Clunkers article noted above:

Cash for Clunkers generates 700,000 new car sales

Japanese auto makers Toyota, Honda and Nissan account for 41 per cent of new vehicle sales, government results show

The government said 84 per cent of the trade-ins were trucks and 59 per cent of the new vehicles were passenger cars. New vehicles bought through Cash for Clunkers had an average fuel-efficiency of 24.9 miles per gallon, compared with an average of 15.8 mpg for trade-ins, a 58 per cent improvement.

American companies accounted for all the top-10 traded-in vehicles. The Ford Explorer four-wheel-drive was the most popular, followed by the Ford F-150 Pickup two-wheel-drive, the Jeep Grand Cherokee four-wheel-drive and Ford Explorer two-wheel-drive.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cash-for-clunkers-gene...

Cash for Clunkers results

1. Toyota Corolla
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Camry
4. Ford Focus
5. Hyundai Elantra
6. Nissan Versa
7. Toyota Prius
8. Honda Accord
9. Honda Fit
10. Ford Escape

1. Ford Explorer four-wheel drive
2. Ford F-150 Pickup two-wheel drive
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee four-wheel drive
4. Ford Explorer two-wheel drive
5. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan two-wheel drive
6. Jeep Cherokee four-wheel drive
7. Chevrolet Blazer four-wheel drive
8. Chevrolet C1500 pickup two-wheel drive
9. Ford F-150 pickup four-wheel drive
10. Ford Windstar front-wheel drive van

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cash-for-clunkers-resu...

Not too difficult to determine the winners and losers in this match up. I also wonder how many sales were simply brought forward from the months ahead -- short term gain for long-term pain.


..and never mind that all the Cash for Clunkers programs in different countries around the world have only brought forward future consumption. Net-net there has been no extra genuine demand.

edit: sorry, you did mention this already...!

Doesn't look like there are many Japanese/European-built clunkers being traded in. Are American-built vehicles really more likely to be considered clunkers, or am I missing something?

Hi Frugal,

To qualify, the vehicle must be rated at 18 MPG or less, and there are not that many Japanese or European vehicles that perform that poorly; the Ford Explorer and F150, on the other hand, pass with flying colours.


I'd go as far as to say it would be extremely difficult to find any mass market Japanese or European car or SUV that gets less than about 20mpg. In Europe and Japan 18 mpg or less is reserved for low volume, extremely expensive, exotics who's owners tend not to care what the price of gas is.

Case in point, a two seater sports car with a 5.2L V10 motor that, can accelerate to 60mph in 3.9 seconds, won won several car of the year awards in 2007-2008, costs just a shade under £100,000(US$162,000) and gets 10.4mpg(US) on the urban cycle. Combine this with the 23.1mpg on the extra urban cycle and you get a combined figure of 16mpg! For other cars in this fuel consumption bracket think Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti etc., hardly cash for clunkers material.

Alan from the islands

Hi Alan,

For the most part, that's true. However, a 4WD Toyota Sequoia equipped with a 5.7L V8 has a combined rating of 15 MPG (see: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/noframes/26215.shtml) and a Nissan Pathfinder 4WD is rated at just 14 MPG (see: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/noframes/26201.shtml), so there are exceptions.


Some advice for realtors on The Housing Bubble Blog:


This morning I turned on my computer, cranked up the Google, and prepared myself to download a shmear of articles and frustrated comments from Realtors gone bust, decrying their new-found poverty, looking for new careers, and encouraging the rest to take similar flight. Alas, I was once again hit upon the noggin by one of the heaviest isotopes of human foolery: misplaced Realtor optimism. . .

The Realtors who will survive this market will be those who get another job. Perhaps the day will come when these prudent other-job-getters may re-enter the real-estate career scene, but that day is a long way off. Those who can’t get with the program and find something productive to do will probably starve to death, or else be kidnapped by other Realtors who will keep them in meat lockers and eat them little by little, keeping them alive until the limbs are finally gone and the vital organs must be made into soup. I kid you not.

There were way too many Realtors even before the housing bust. The field is ridiculously easy to get into, the licensing requirements are minimal and woefully inadequate; no wonder real estate has been a magnet for every slime ball and rip off artist there is. As far as my local market is concerned, I estimated that there must have been at least 3 - 4 times more Realtors than the market could really support, and that was back during the boom times of 2004-2005. Today, even allowing for those that have already left the business, it must be far worse than that. We could place a moratorium on licensing new real estate agents for the next decade, and there would still be too many of them. This is not even to mention the impact that the internet has had on the business. It is not making the real estate agent obsolete, but it certainly is making them a lot less essential, and in general is narrowing the scope of the value that they can add to the transaction. That in turn should be (and is) reducing the level of commission that they can charge, and that in turn is one more reason why more people should be leaving the business.

Re: N.B. plan for self-sufficient energy hits snag

So the Point Lepreau refurbishment that was originally estimated to be completed within 18 months is now projected to take 24 months, with each additional day of delay costing the province another million dollars in replacement power (and will 24 months ultimately stretch to be 30 or 36?). Ninety per cent of the work has been contracted by AECL at a fixed price, so federal tax payers will be on the hook for presumably much more.

I'm shocked! Positively shocked!, I say.


Hey Paul: Two hurricanes in a week has got to be a record for Halifax.

Hi Brian,

Two hurricanes?!? Did I sleep through the second one?


Two hurricanes?!? Did I sleep through the second one?

My condolences, for your second weekend in a row lost to canes. Billies, little brother Danny has you in its sights. Fortunately it is not expected to be as strong as Bill the current predicition has it just making hurricane status. But if it follows the centerline of the forcast track, it will be on the west coast of Nova Scotia. If that comes to pass (track uncertainty is large), you'l get the forward motion adding rather than subtracting from rotational wind velocities.

Coincidentally, here we are expecting some moisture from TS Ignatio. In our case, that just means a chance of some high altitude clouds, maybe we will get a few hours relief from the sun.

Sorry, folks, for being so damn dense. I haven't been paying attention to the news (last week, our programme target increased by another GWh, so between now the end of the year we'll need to retrofit another 50 to 100 businesses and we're scrambling to keep up with things as it is). In any event, Danny's projected track can be viewed at: http://www.stormpulse.com/


RE: is there a peak oil problem

Reading the comments I was surprised how many folks were informed on peak oil but did not believe in it. As peak oil goes more and more mainstream, it will receive the same treatment as evolution and climate change.

People can believe whatever they want about evolution, and unless they are up for their oral comprehensives for a PhD in biology, it makes no real difference in their lives. Climate change might make a practical difference in their own lifetimes, but only if they live in low-lying coastal areas or in the arid southwest.

They are very likely to find, however, that the peak oil they don't believe in is real and will in fact be making a big difference in their lives, and soon.

I dunno. I think evolution and climate change actally do make a big difference in people's lives...they just don't know it. It may be the same with peak oil. It may be the cause of a lot of the events of the next few decades, but no one will recognize it as the cause.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the DB toplink: "The Future of Transportation by Shai Agassi". After his talk on TED, I was wondering when he would get around to writing something we could examine more closely.

Since I believe the [Hanson,Duncan,Memmel, et al] fast-crash shark-fin scenario will predominate soon [or is it already here?]: IMO, Shai needs to move his impressive speculation downstream to the real-world realm of strategic reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows, batt-bikes, batt-trucks for local movement of goods from Alan's ideas, and hoped for exponential growth of networks of SpiderWebRiding.

Thus, I think his ideas can be leveraged much faster from a bottom-up approach vs his proposed, top-down approach of big-batt personal cars for everyone. Furthermore, since debt is becoming Unobtainium: lowest cost transport, above the Tlameme backpacking scheme, offers the best migration path for transformation, plus enables a Foundation dynamic nexus of predictive collapse and directed decline to build and sustain viable, mildly exo-somatic postPeak systems for all to rally around and participate in using.

I believe that JHKunstler would agree with me that if the shark-fin is now roaming the crowded off-beach seawaters: a more somatic-based panicked escape back to the sand is faster & better than treading the waters as bait/chum endlessly anticipating for lots of personal boats or personal watercraft to magically arrive for one's comfortable rescue.

Some examples of this follows: IMO, the evidence is clear for bicycles and batt-bikes in this following EB multi-articles link:


IMO, his Overall Goal should be to provide quick-swappable batteries for bicycles for even a homeless family living underneath Las Vegas in a storm drain [Recall recent NYT article]. This minimally enhanced transport option is where the market is going as First World Re-equalizing and Shark-fin collapse gathers apace, IMO. YMMV.

Looming Liebig Minima for personal car-tires seems obvious when one considers that growing multi-millions [billions?] needing new & replacement bike-tires can easily outbid at crunch time those much fewer numbers seeking new & replacement tires for their ICE-vehicle, hybrid vehicle, or PHEV.

The buildout leveraging of standard gauge 'spine & limbs' [Alan's RR & TOD], will obviously have to start with an initial 'fetal growth' of narrow-gauge 'ribcages', plus the even earlier, gigantically huge 'cellular growth' in bicycles [both pedal & batt] for bi-directional movement from rural to urban, Kunstlerization, and Permaculture Shift. This can do much to minimize the numbers, scale, and duration of the coming machete' moshpits.

If everyone has plenty of bicycles [plus a reserve of parts], the electro-conversion cost/bike, as discussed by other TODers, can be remarkably small. Of course, former billionaires will be able to afford the fewer custom, factory-built bike & railbike models, but they should be equally happy to join in the quick-swap batt-ideas and other financing methods envisioned by Mr Agassi.

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

The article above stating that residential PV is far outstripping commercial PV farms in installed capacity makes perfect sense to me. Save for possible zoning variances, maybe, there is no site permitting, buying land specially to use for PV, no environmental impact statements,etc. involved for residential PV. All those people in all those houses already own the land and own their roofs (OK, a lot of them are renting from their mortgage holder)...cover a large fraction of the roof in PV and let the good times roll. Also, decentralized, extremely local (like, on your own roof) electricity generation cuts out the long distance line resistance losses (although the inverter losses may wash that out), and eliminates the vulnerability of centralized power stations to natural or man-made catastrophe. Go rooftop PV! Let's go for a buck a peak watt, panel only...

The article above stating that residential PV is far outstripping commercial PV farms in installed capacity makes perfect sense to me.

Makes sense to me too. Solar electric farms make some sense for exotic thin film, and concentrating PV systems, but the size advantage for bulk silicon PV is just not great enough to overcome the landuse issues, versus using roofs. The biggies on the planning docs are really the solar thermal plants (a few GW are supposedly on order).

And not just using our rooftops, but moving towards a style of architecture where the top floor of a building is simply expected to serve as the 'Energy Floor', collecting Solar for Heat, Electricity and Lighting.

I think the idea of building a roof out of materials that can merely shunt off all this power and endure as long as possible will show itself as a hilarious waste of resources..

Build that peaked roof into a greenhouse with a couple solar ovens and water heaters embedded right into it!


I think the main reason is that residential is often not subjected to rigorous ROI and payback analyses; some people put in PVs because they want to, it feels good, and it makes a statement. The commercial installations are not going up because the numbers just don't work for them yet.

A lot of individual installations are going in based on energy cost estimates over timescales that are outside the business planning cycle.

Also, as you point out, there are non-cost considerations as well.