Drumbeat: August 28, 2009

Recession Speeds Coal's Long-Term Decline

HOUSTON - Declining industrial electricity demand and an abundance of cheap natural gas will threaten coal's status as the dominant U.S. fuel to generate electric power, even after the economic recession ends.

Power companies are reducing use of coal plants because of declining demand from heavy industry, the economic sector hardest hit by the recession. The loss of industrial "baseload" looks long term, analysts and executives say.

Natural gas-fired plants, easier to stop and start, have remained busy serving commercial and household power demand, which varies hour by hour and has been less affected by the recession.

U.S. natgas rig count climbs for a sixth week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United Stases rose four this week to 699, the sixth straight weekly gain after sinking in mid-July to the lowest level in more than seven years, according to a report on Friday by Baker Hughes in Houston.

U.S. natural gas drilling rigs are still down sharply since peaking above 1,600 in September, and now stand at 907 rigs, or 56 percent, below the same week last year.

Food, Water, Energy Shortages Threaten India Security

(Bloomberg) -- India’s future is threatened by shortages of food, water and energy and these should be addressed on a priority basis, the Prime Minister’s security adviser said.

“These are part of a broad national security plan, and defense is only one aspect of it,” Shekhar Dutt, India’s deputy national security adviser, said in an interview in New Delhi yesterday. “We think water is going to be a very severe determinant of prosperity and well-being.”

Inadequate rainfall has led to a drought in as many as 278 of India’s 626 districts, according to the farm ministry. This has sparked concern over food shortages and rising prices, prompting authorities to raid wholesalers hoarding commodities. Raw sugar futures have soared 90 percent this year.

“Unless we drive in the fear of god among hoarders, the man on the street will suffer from rising prices,” Ashok Das, principal secretary of food, civil supplies and consumer protection in the central Madhya Pradesh state, said in a phone interview from Bhopal today. Authorities seized 480 metric tons of sugar in the past week, he said.

Myanmar Takes Rebel-Held Town Near China Oil Projects

Bloomberg) -- Myanmar’s army seized control of a rebel-held town on its border with China, raising concern a 20- year cease-fire could collapse, threatening planned oil and gas projects in the region.

Ethnic Kokang rebels attacked Myanmar police patrolling a border gate in northeastern Shan state, killing at least one, the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma said in a statement late yesterday. The United Nations Refugee Agency said today that as many as 30,000 people may have fled to neighboring Yunnan Province in China since Aug. 8 to escape the fighting. The provincial government has described the situation as a domestic war, state-controlled Xinhua News Agency, said.

Oil, Ecuador and its people

In a small, spare courtroom in the Amazon region of Ecuador, Chevron Corp., California's largest company and one of the world's largest oil producers, will soon face a day of reckoning. After 16 years of litigation, a case the company inherited in a merger, Aguinda vs. Texaco Inc., is nearing an end. The legal battle that began in the United States in 1993 and resumed in Ecuador in 2003 has pitted the multinational against an unlikely adversary, a coalition of indigenous tribes and communities. A verdict is expected early next year. The plaintiffs are poised to prevail, and Chevron acknowledges that it is likely to lose.

The case is historic by several measures. Never before have indigenous peoples brought a multinational oil corporation to trial in their own country. Moreover, a victory would mark a turning point in the relations between native populations around the world and the foreign corporations that do business in their homelands. And the potential damages are staggering: A court-appointed expert has determined that they could run to $27 billion, almost 10 times that initially awarded to plaintiffs after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Confusion Reigns Over China's Polysilicon Import Policy

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The solar industry has been left in confusion over whether China has started restricting imports of the solar-module material polysilicon, with some manufacturers reporting that shipments have been held up by customs officials and that buyers are delaying orders.

Those companies say that China has added waste silicon to a list of restricted imports, either as part of a deliberate move to protect its domestic polysilicon industry or for environmental reasons. However, other sources, including one major polysilicon distributor, said they weren't aware of any change in Chinese policy.

US seeks independence with natural gas

Natural gas may be cleaner than oil - it produces around half the greenhouse gasses for the same amount of energy - but Ms Schaefer does not believe it is the answer the US needs.

"We have to stop looking at the short term. Sure we can find enough fuel for the next two years, five years, 10 years, but what happens at that point when we haven't built up our renewable or alternative energy technologies?" she asks.

And Ms Schaefer fears the focus on new natural gas discoveries could diminish funding for those seeking new alternative energy sources.

Brazil to unveil overhaul of oil laws

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's government will propose on Monday a new law that will determine how it taps and manages huge crude reserves miles below the ocean's surface that it sees driving the nation's rise to developed status.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to present Congress with legislation that will increase the role of the government and state-run Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N) in the oil fields that could turn Brazil into a major energy exporter.

Escalating tensions over hunt for oil and gas in the Arctic

The Arctic has captured the attention of all the major world powers, and Russia is no exception. Growing interest in the Arctic has been driven by the recent spike in energy prices, which makes developing energy resources in hard-to-reach areas increasingly lucrative. Onshore mineral resources are being depleted, and the Arctic will soon become the world’s only untapped reserve. Consequently, no contender for the North Pole’s resources is likely to give up without a struggle.

The potential is enormous: the Arctic is said to contain up to 500bn barrels of oil, huge gas reserves and significant deposits of diamonds, nickel, tin and gold. Researchers are hurrying to update estimates of the Arctic’s ice-locked riches. Science magazine recently published a detailed map of the region’s oil and gas deposits, which is the result of a comprehensive five-year study conducted by Donald Gautier of the US Geological Survey. According to the study, the Arctic holds 30pc of the world’s undiscovered gas and about 13pc of oil. Most of the oil reserves lie within the state of Alaska, in the United States, while the gas is concentrated in Russian territory.

Exxon calls for level playing field: renewable energy

NEWLY installed ExxonMobil Australia chairman John Dashwood says he is sceptical about the nation's ability to meet the Rudd government's renewable energy target.

Speaking at a lunch in Melbourne yesterday, Mr Dashwood also called for a federal tax system that favoured gas over coal.

Success in switching from coal-fired to gas-powered power plants was probably the biggest factor in Australia succeeding in cutting greenhouse gasses, he said.

Economic Hit Men and the Next Drowning of New Orleans

Dr. van Heerden has lots of friends, mostly the people of New Orleans, those who survived and cheered his fight to save their city. But he also has enemies, many of them, and they are powerful.

First, there is Big Oil. More than a decade ago, van Heerden pointed the finger at oil drilling as a culprit in threatening New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with flooding.

Makin' Bacon: Foodies Are Going Hog Wild Over Pig

Maybe it's a recession-driven money saver, or maybe we just feel the need to get back in touch with what we eat, but Americans everywhere are discovering the pleasures of home-cured bacon. Culinary blogs are replete with homemade-bacon recipes, including how to make pancetta. Mario Batali's recipe for guanciale, cured pig cheek, has gone viral. Leading the piggy parade is food writer Michael Ruhlman, who has challenged his blog readers to make a BLT from scratch — including homegrown lettuce and tomatoes and homemade bread — shoot a picture, submit it and win a prize: his latest book Ratio.

More Sun for Less: Solar Panels Drop in Price

For solar shoppers these days, the price is right. Panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray.

The price drops — coupled with recently expanded federal incentives — could shrink the time it takes solar panels to pay for themselves to 16 years, from 22 years, in places with high electricity costs, according to Glenn Harris, chief executive of SunCentric, a solar consulting group. That calculation does not include state rebates, which can sometimes improve the economics considerably.

Suburbanization: The impact on energy use, CO2 emissions

A new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council, DRIVING AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: THE EFFECTS OF COMPACT DEVELOPMENT ON MOTORIZED TRAVEL, ENERGY USE, AND CO2 EMISSIONS, examines how suburbanization -- made possible largely due to the prevalence of automobiles and the extensive U.S. highway system -- impacts the number of miles we drive, our reliance on petroleum fuel, and the percent of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The report looks at studies on compact, mixed-use development where people live in denser environments with jobs and shopping close by, to determine whether a shift to this type of land use could lessen vehicle use, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions.

Copenhagen's 'best city for cyclists' goal

Rush hour in Denmark's capital seems anything but rushed.

City workers glide through the streets - trousers tucked into their socks and briefcases slung on to the side of their bicycles.

Some even have children following on behind, wrapped in waterproofs and perching on special trailers known as cargo bikes.

The air feels fresh and there is not a traffic jam in sight.

With less than four months to go until Copenhagen hosts the United Nations climate change summit, the city has announced its vision to become the world's best city for cyclists.

In Copenhagen, a third of people already cycle to work, school or university.

Australia sweats through long, hot winter

SYDNEY (AFP) – Drought-hit Australia has endured an exceptionally hot winter, with abnormal temperatures shattering records that had in some places stood since World War II, official figures show.

In a special climate statement released late Wednesday, the weather bureau said maximum temperatures in August were broadly three degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the long-term average.

Climate change poses threat of war, USF forum will hear

TAMPA - Military analysts say climate change threatens a cascade of natural disasters – crop failures, famine and disease – that will strengthen terrorists by sparking conflict in unstable countries.

Weak dollar is pushing energy prices higher

The effect of the weak dollar is again pushing oil prices higher in the face of little demand for energy and huge surpluses of crude.

On Friday, the dollar again fell against major currencies.

Since March, the dollar index, which weighs the U.S. currency against a basket of foreign currencies like the euro, the Japanese yen, the pound and the Swiss franc, has fallen nearly 12 percent. In that same period, crude has jumped 81 percent.

The widening gap between the value of a dollar and that of a barrel of oil shows just how much oil-based index funds have come to affect the prices that consumers pay for energy.

Are Peak Oil Fears Really Bogus?

In other words, even Lynch himself admits "that geological scarcity will at some point make it impossible for global petroleum production to avoid falling"—he just thinks that point is further away than peak-oil theorists claim. If you believe that technology gains will allow us to one day discover and tap a total of 3.5 trillion barrels of oil instead of two trillion, then we haven't passed the halfway point yet (to date, humanity has only produced about 1.1 trillion barrels of oil).

OPEC suggests meeting with Russian oil companies

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) - OPEC has proposed a meeting in Moscow with the Russian Energy Ministry and Russian oil companies, LUKOIL vice-president Leonid Fedun stated.

Study: Role for Strategic Reserves To Limit Speculators

Governments should consider their strategic petroleum reserves a part of their arsenal to limit speculation in the oil market, according to a report issued Thursday by Rice University's James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates the oil market, is expected to issue a draft rule this fall limiting the size of positions held by those making speculative bets in energy, and is already gathering more information about the activities of large traders. U.S. regulators are also working to convince their foreign counterparts to adopt stricter limits.

Detroit: The Next Agrarian Paradise?

Many people have all but written off the once booming “Motor City”. With a poverty rate of 32 percent and a population that has shrunk from 2 million to under 900,000, the auto capital of the world has become our nation’s most depressed metropolis. Today, as more and more people flee the city, it becomes harder to imagine what the future holds. Now having reached a bottom, Detroit has the opportunity to experience the same kind of revitalization that is slowly taking hold in New Orleans, which aims to be a clean, green model for the nation. Both cities experienced life-altering disasters. Hurricane Katrina, which killed thousands, decimated New Orleans in 2005 and the death of the auto industry, ruined the lives of many and left Detroit unrecognizable. The unlikely sister cities became ghost towns as long time residents fled homes and businesses in search of higher ground and greener pastures.

But before we entirely write off Detroit as an environmental wasteland, let’s look again, and try to imagine the possibilities.

The Ethics of Sustainable Healthcare Reform

Simply stated, the present healthcare system is unsustainable for two sets of (interconnected) reasons, fiscal and ecological. The fiscal side receives attention in the current debate, but most discussion underestimates the problems and proposes solutions that provide little more than temporary band-aids. It is in the main unappreciated that the nation is in socioeconomic decline—primarily in the form of massive debt and defaults on that debt, deflation of asset values, and unemployment—which threatens the present healthcare system. Our collective understanding of the ecological dimension is abysmal, especially its connection to the economy, and if grasped would lead to the abandonment of politics and business as usual in medicine and throughout society.

Toyota to pull out of California plant

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has decided to end production at a California plant it has shared with General Motors for 25 years, labor officials and legislators said Thursday.

The move to close the plant by March 31 puts at risk 4,200 jobs at the facility in Fremont and highlights significant overcapacity global carmakers are facing as they try to shake a recession-fueled sales downturn.

Dealers Reportedly "Price Gouging" on 2010 Toyota Prius

The month-long car buying binge triggered by the federal Cash for Clunkers trade-in program has led to a shortage of some fuel-efficient cars. Now, the shortage is having an ugly consequence.

Daily Tech reports, "Rogue Toyota dealers" have begun "price gouging on [the] scarce 2010 Toyota Prius." Daily Tech reports, "With the typical sticker price of the Prius coming it at around $26,000, many dealers across the country have been charging $3,000 to $10,000 markups, more than offsetting the "Cash for Clunkers" rebate of $3,000 to $4,500 in some cases."

'Green Pipeline' Puts La. On Leading Edge of Advanced Recovery

When completed, a "green pipeline" that will carry carbon dioxide more than 300 miles from Donaldsonville to southeast Texas will have employed nearly 800 construction workers and cost about $750 million.

A ‘Dow Jones’ For Climate: The Case for a Warming Index

If a cap-and-trade bill passes Congress this year, it may include weak emissions targets and will likely need to be strengthened in the years to come. One way to guide future policy: create a Global Climate Change Index that could be used to track global warming’s impacts. by daniel r. abbasi

Drawing a line in the sand

A County Press reader sent this photograph of what looks like a graph with a set of dates on it, plus a 'you are here’ message. The graph attracted lots of attention from early-morning joggers and dog walkers, before it was obliterated by the tide.

OPEC Raised Crude-Oil Supplies in July, PetroLogistics Says

(Bloomberg) -- The 11 OPEC nations bound by quotas increased crude-oil supplies last month, straying further from their official limits, according to estimates from tanker- tracker PetroLogistics Ltd.

Those 11 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries provided consumers with an average of 26 million barrels a day in July, up from 25.96 million a day in June, the Geneva-based consultant said. Supplies from all 12 members, including Iraq, rose to 28.6 million barrels a day from 28.3 million a day.

Pakistan State Oil Raises Funds to Help Avoid Default

(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan State Oil Ltd., the nation’s biggest fuel retailer, raised 15 billion rupees ($180 million) to help avert defaulting on payment for importing fuels.

The company got 10 billion rupees in loans from banks and 5 billion rupees in cash from the government, giving it funds to buy fuels for a week more, Managing Director Irfan K. Qureshi said in an interview today in the capital, Islamabad.

Peak oiler responds to Lynch op-ed in NYT

Actually, I didn’t start this post intending to critique Hagens’s arguments, but I hope as The Oil Drum’s staff works over a response to Lynch that they can do much better than this beginning. Interest in peak oil seems to be growing even within the oil industry – not all proponents are as ignorant “of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum” as Lynch suggests – so it is worthwhile to examine the best arguments for and against peak oil and the best arguments against those arguments.

Why putting climate change on trial is a terrible idea

The US Chamber of Commerce is upset that the EPA has chosen to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant, and are calling for a public trial on both the policy decision and the science behind it. It's hard to imagine a worse way to help clarify the status of climate science.

Solar Panels Built Into Roads Could Be the Future of Energy

The Department of Energy just gave $100,000 to upstart company Solar Roadways, to develop 12-by-12-foot solar panels, dubbed "Solar Roads," that can be embedded into roads, pumping power into the grid. The panels may also feature LED road warnings and built-in heating elements that could prevent roads from freezing.

Each Solar Road panel can develop around 7.6 kwh of power each day, and each costs around $7,000. If widely adopted, they could realistically wean the US off fossil fuels: a mile-long stretch of four-lane highway could take 500 homes off the grid. If the entire US Interstate system made use of the panels, energy would no longer be a concern for the country.

POLL: Energy Policy has Support But Jobs and Cost are Crucial

Support for fossil fuel plants is down, support for nuclear power is up (though with a strong not-in-my-back-yard component) and hopes are reasonably high that a new U.S. energy policy will create jobs and help address global warming – albeit at some cost.

A substantial 41 percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think proposed changes being developed by Congress and the Obama administration will raise their energy costs. Yet enough of them back those changes nonetheless to give the effort 57 percent support among all Americans – well higher than support for health care reform, 45 percent.

Washington Capitulates: Peak Oil Is Real

Projected production, as you can see, is suddenly shriveling up. From 107.5 million b/d of oil projected for 2030 in 2007, to 102.9 million b/d in 2008, to this year’s meager expectation for 93.1 million. That’s a drop of 13.4% in only two years, and posits production growth of only 11.6 million b/d (14.2%) from 2006 levels.

If that isn’t an admission that the era of Peak Oil is upon us, what is?

Speaking at Jackson Hole

What Jim Rogers calls the Commodity Super Cycle, now with an Asian resource demand turbo effect, in fact stretches back to well before Keynes invented his theories, including his debt based remedies for fighting recession. Long-term read outs from high and low commodity price surges and crashes, and global growth, is that higher prices for energy and resources have certainly levered up the economy, in some periods, and not in others. Bernanke may be right to fear higher oil prices, but he can only claim to be right about 33 percent of the time. With present stakes so high, is that enough?

The simple answer to the question is that higher oil prices can and very likely will boost and bolster growth, but not for long, if we look at 2004-2007 performance. The Petro Keynesian growth driving paradigm and process is easy to set out. Wealth is transferred from global consumers to energy and resource producers, most of them lower income, who then spend more. Classic debt based Keynesian programs in high income economies tend only to shift more spending power to the already rich, who spend a lower percent of their revenue gains, received through government tax cutting largesse and printing press activity. OPEC’s ability to spend more when revenues rise is easy to forecast: not too many OPEC states are in the Qatar or Saudi camp, where more personal consumption, at least for national citizens and not economic migrants, presents challenges for the imagination. A lot of more are in the Nigeria, Algeria, Iran or Venezuela camp.

A perfect economic storm

This perfect economic storm already has a number of winds gathering speed. Firstly of course is the heavy government action to protect and boost the global auto industry with tax breaks, direct investment and loans. Secondly, electric cars, long sidelined as a marginal technology strategy are emerging as a serious global contender, driven by the success of petrol electric hybrids and responses like GM’s Volt. Thirdly is the acceptance of high oil prices being the norm, with peak oil a matter of when not whether. Fourthly and most significantly is the reluctant acceptance by the global auto industry of climate change as a game changer. The new assumption is that zero CO2 personal transport is inevitable, just a matter of when and with what technology.

Energy in Russia: No consensus on oil production shortages

The world will face a “catastrophic energy crunch” within five years, warns Dr Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Russian analysts are less certain, but say that, in the future, Russia will launch 60pc of the new oil fields.

The IEA report is based on the assessment of more than 800 oil fields, accounting for 75pc of global reserves. Forecasters reason that the largest fields are running short of oil, and independent oil producers have already peaked. The IEA experts say that oil production declined at the rate of 6.7pc in 2008 compared to 3.7pc in 2007.

Deficits, Dollars, and the Price of Energy

The latest revision to the forecasted federal deficit has implications beyond the sustainability of current government spending. Reading a pair of high-profile, skeptical assessments of Peak Oil in the context of a $9 trillion deficit projection for the next decade, it occurred to me that the most serious risk of higher oil prices in the near future might not be flagging production or surging demand but the further depreciation of the US dollar. The quickest route back to $4 gasoline could run through Washington, DC, rather than Riyadh or Beijing, and that might not be as helpful for renewable energy as its advocates might guess.

Peak Oil: A Reality or a Lie?

After the epic crash last year, the price of oil is stabilizing and it could rise exponentially over the following years. Over the past year, global consumption has stayed weak and may stay that way for awhile.

However once the economy recovers, crude oil should resume its secular bull-market trend and many pundits think it might shock some folks as to how high prices may go.

Head in the Tar Sands? The New York Times Runs Anti-Peak Oil Op-Ed

Pinpointing the exact moment that world oil production begins to decline is really just a parlor game. No one disputes that oil supplies are finite, which is reason enough to diversify our energy sources. And even if supplies were unlimited, few experts dispute that oil dependence threatens humans and the environment because of its role in climate change. Why is the United States paper of record running a column from someone with a vested interest in saying there's nothing to worry about?

PetroChina Second-Quarter Profit Beats Estimates on Refining

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co., the world’s most valuable company, posted profit that beat analysts’ estimates on record earnings from oil refining after the government raised fuel prices and China’s economic recovery spurred demand.

Net income rose 26 percent to 31.5 billion yuan ($4.6 billion), according to Bloomberg calculations based on first- half figures announced today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts was for a 30.9 billion-yuan profit.

Norway’s Oil Fund Names New Executive Management Team

(Bloomberg) -- Norges Bank Investment Management, which oversees Europe’s largest sovereign wealth fund, named a new team of executives after record losses last year wiped out gains from 12 years of investing Norway’s oil and gas revenue.

Saudi prince vows to fight terrorism after attack

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Hours after being lightly wounded by a suicide bomber, a senior Saudi prince largely credited with the kingdom's aggressive anti-terrorism efforts said Friday he was more determined than ever to fight militants in the country.

The bombing was the first assassination attempt against a member of the royal family in decades and was also the first significant attack by militants in the kingdom since 2006. Saudi Arabia has waged a fierce crackdown on al-Qaida militants in the country that succeeded in killing or capturing most of its leaders after a string of attacks that started in 2003.

The Next Dark Age?

In the post Peak Oil and a Brick Wall I discussed briefly how peak oil is upon us. So what does this mean. Peak oil itself is not important, we will feel it when demand exceeds supply. That won't happen gradually – it will be like running full speed into a brick wall. That may, and some say likely, will result in a breakdown of society – a new Dark Ages. Before we continue lets take a look at the original Dark Ages for a little background.

Salazar: Let's take renewable energy lead

The United States can fall behind the rest of the world in addressing renewable energy and climate change, or it can take the lead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a large group of students and area residents at Fossil Ridge High School on Thursday.

At the two-hour regional forum on President Barack Obama's "Clean Energy Economy" agenda, Salazar, Gov. Bill Ritter, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey and representatives of the White House and the states of Washington and California stumped for future congressional climate legislation focusing on renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Leaking pipe removed at oldest US nuclear plant

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Workers have safely removed a leaking pipe at the nation's oldest nuclear power plant, the Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey.

Oyster Creek reduced its power capacity by about 50 percent while repairs were being done and continued to operate at that level Thursday.

Energy Secretary Chu Wimps Out Again

Most of my followers are very familiar with my opinion of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu: he should resign his office. Why? Because Chu doesn’t understand that America’s biggest energy and economic problem is our addiction to foreign oil imports and the resulting daily drain of U.S. wealth away from our shores. Any U.S. Energy Secretary who is “agnostic” about the only domestic fuel (natural gas) that can be scaled up to solve these problems should be fired. Top that off with Chu’s agreement that “clean coal” is actually possible and, you have an Energy Secretary who has certainly risen to the level of incompetence.

Obama Faces Uphill Climate-Change Battle

Senate passage of a cap-and-trade emissions reduction regime this autumn is less than a 50-50 proposition; it is much more likely that Congress will approve an energy bill that promotes a renewable energy standard for electricity production. If cap-and-trade fails this year, Obama may attempt to revisit a simpler carbon tax scheme in 2010 as economic recovery gathers pace.

Indonesia eyes 40% cut in emissions

Indonesia has held out the promise of a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions if it receives international support.

South-east Asia’s largest economy is one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters after the US and China, and four-fifths of its emissions come from the degradation of peatland and the logging of its forest cover in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua.

A cut of 40 per cent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, would be a far more ambitious target than other developing countries have considered and corresponds with some of the most stringent targets rich nations are considering for themselves.

Laughing Gas: The Latest Threat to the Ozone Layer

"Pretty soon human-caused N2O emissions will be greater than all other ozone-depleting substances combined," says John Daniel, an atmospheric scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a co-author of the Science study. "It will be the dominant gas in the future."

Millions in Nepal facing hunger as climate changes

KATMANDU, Nepal – Millions of people in Nepal face severe food shortages because global climate change has disrupted weather patterns and slashed crop yields in the Himalayan nation, an international aid agency warned Friday.

Changing weather patterns have dramatically affected crop production in Nepal, leaving farmers unable to properly feed themselves and pushing them into debt, Oxfam International said in a report released in Katmandu.

The British aid agency described the situation as "deeply worrying."

Hijacked by climate change?

As the UN climate summit in Copenhagen approaches, exhortations that "we must get a deal" and warnings that climate change is "the greatest challenge we face as a species" are to be heard in virtually every political forum.

But if you look back to the latest definitive check on the planet's environmental health - the Global Environment Outlook (Geo-4), published by the UN two years ago - what emerges is a picture of decline that goes way, way beyond climate change.

Species are going extinct at perhaps 1,000 times the normal rate, as key habitats such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs are plundered for human infrastructure.

Aquifers are being drained and fisheries exploited at unsustainable speed. Soils are becoming saline, air quality is a huge cause of illness and premature death; the human population is bigger than our one Earth can currently sustain.

From that article: "Farmers are shocked that regulators would want to penalize ethanol or advanced biofuels based on the idea that an American bushel of corn that goes to an ethanol plant might provoke a farmer halfway around the world to chop down a tree in the rainforest in order to grow another bushel of corn for food."

One indirect land use change that might result from biofuels (and as an old farm boy I hope it does) is the destruction of the feedlot system of beef production. Feedlots depend on cheap subsidized grain and corn, so cheap that they actually have displaced rangeland cattle since the 1960s despite traditionally lower input costs for the latter. I grew up on a ranch where the cattle grazed pasture year round with supplemental hay in winter, but grass-fed beef couldn't compete against subsidized feedlot grain-fed beef. I consider ethanol a boondoggle but still support it in the hopes that it will cripple the feedlot industry. Rising oil prices will also help because feedlots are far more energy intensive than ranches.

Exactly the right sentiment.

People that live in the Midwest know that ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybean oil was a way to use excess EXISTING production to keep prices from dropping below production input costs. The low commodity prices have launched feedlots, hog lots, and poultry houses (both meat and eggs) at the expense of traditional animal agriculture.

Every few years those consumers of grain go through price swings, mergers and the like and the bottom falls out of the grain prices pushing row crop farmers out of business. Those same farmers can not raise beef, pork or poultry in their fields because they are at a cost disadvantage to the huge feed lots. The concept of grains to liquid fuels is as alternative to grains to livestock. I also think there should be a larger industry of grains to polymers (as opposed to crude to polymer) since the feedstock carbon is renewable even if low volume compared to oil.

For some reason people that don't live between the mountains assume that all this grain production just became established in the last decade to service ethanol and biodiesel. The reverse is true. The grain to fuels is an attempt to keep farmland economically viable. Most of the grain production in the U.S. has been the same for 80 years and is in fact shrinking all the time as highly productive land near cities is turned into houses. The fact that more bushels per acre is generated now does not mean more acres are under cultivation. This goes for all food in the U.S. not just grains.

Giving farmers a reason to keep land in agriculture is the main reason for biofuels - not to expand the land base dedicated to growing those inputs.

"Giving farmers a reason to keep land in agriculture is the main reason for biofuels"

But _should_ land be kept in agriculture? Turning to biofuels to solve this problem in commoditized grain prices strikes me as the wrong solution--in fact it has turned out to be a deal with the devil.

Agriculture as currently practiced by most large-scale farmers is terribly damaging to ecosystems, from the fields and surrounding areas, to streams and rivers, to the widening dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

We need to turn more of these areas back to the native prairie plants. These will:

Stop the destruction of aforementioned ecosystems
Help restore the topsoil that has been depleted by damaging agricultural pracitices
Provide habitat for many endangered and threatened species
Provide grazing land for buffalo
Possibly provide feedstock for cellulosic ethanol (though I have deep doubts here)
Sequester carbon in their extensive root systems

Feedlot meat needs to be highly taxed to reflect the multiple types of damage they wreak on the local and global environment. Meat eaters need to be educated--through education and through pricing that is connected to these damages--that sustainable grass fed meat is the only remotely ethical (and ideally economical) choice.

The deep problems with distorted grain pricing needs to be addressed head on. Trying to deal with it through grain-to-ethanol schemes just gets us further into problems, anticipated and un-.

This is not even to mention the huge problems with water depletion that ethanol plants are inflicting on rural areas.

I agree, but you'll never get a plains-dweller to agree.

You forgot an advantage - possibly the biggest one - of cutting grain production in the USA, namely allowing poor third-world farmers to be able to make a living from growing and selling crops.

Farmers in the US have a choice of other occupations, those in the third world have a choice of other ways of starving.

"You forgot an advantage - possibly the biggest one - of cutting grain production in the USA, namely allowing poor third-world farmers to be able to make a living from growing and selling crops."


This is in fact the main line. Our policies have wreaked havoc on the economies of third world farmers, and the same conservatives that promoted these policies, now turn around and bemoan the masses of third world farmers, dispossessed by said policies, that turn to migrant labor in the U.S.

"Farmers in the US have a choice of other occupations, those in the third world have a choice of other ways of starving."

Very aptly put.

the boone pickens "plan" is in some ways similar. given the ng inputs to food production, the "plan" amounts to trading food for the fuel needed to continue the merry rat race up and down the highway to nowhere.

That highway has a number, and I can race on it all the way to the border.

Merry Rat

Here's one way to force people to spend instead of save: negative interest rates.

Bankers watch as Sweden goes negative

For a world first, the announcement came with remarkably little fanfare.

But last month, the Swedish Riksbank entered uncharted territory when it became the world’s first central bank to introduce negative interest rates on bank deposits.

...Mervyn King, the Bank of England governor, has hinted he may follow the Swedish example as the danger of a so-called liquidity trap, where cash remains stuck in the banking system and does not filter out to the wider economy, is an increasing concern for the UK.

The best solution for individuals in this situation is to buy physical gold or silver (a good blog on this is www.goldseek.com). I also buy into partnerships in conventional oil wells and mineral rights but recognize this isn't as easy for the average person. 1-ounce gold coins are easier for most people to buy and hold.

Negative interest rates may force money into circulation, but this will trigger inflation as all that stimulus money starts sloshing around.


-400grams and counting. I used to have a Kilo but cashed it in to go into RareEarths as risk appetite began to return -yippee!

It's really not that hard to make money if you join the dots, do your research and play their game...


Negative interest rates may force money into circulation, but this will trigger inflation as all that stimulus money starts sloshing around.

Thirty years ago, too much cheap money implied a flow like this: banks' lending standards pretty much dictated that most of the new money flowed into business loans, expanding business capacity resulted in increased hiring, increased hiring shifted wages upward, and higher wages led to increased demand for goods in general. Classic wage/price inflation ensued. Central bankers knew where cheap money would go, and could use general inflation as an indicator for policy.

The situation that produced that flow have gone away. Free-flow of capital across international borders, the entry of Asian and Eastern Europe labor into the world market, and incredibly cheap transportation act to restrain wages. Unregulated lenders (the "shadow banking" system) can ignore the old rules about lending standards and direct money in ways that later seem insane. Cheap money from one country can be used to make speculative investments in other countries. Central bankers have no idea where their cheap money will end up this time.

Arguably, cheap Japanese money fueled the truly insane phase of the tech stock bubble in the late 1990s. Cheap US money fueled the housing bubble in the mid 2000s. Cheap money now seems more likely to fuel another bubble than to push wages up. That is, hyperinflation in a narrow sector of the economy, in the form of financial speculation, is more likely than a broad wage-driven inflation.

More likely negative interest rates would cause a run on the banking system as people attempt to go to cash - in the UK, I know from my own experience, it is very difficult to go to cash as there are daily limits and the banks are not helpful (to say the least.)

Removing cash from banks doesn't mean you have to spend it - and if you don't spend it there is a big problem for the banks since credit has to be reduced by about ten times the amount of cash removed. Negative interest rates are very dangerous for banks since they are all insolvent at the best of times, they are only kept liquid by the trust of the depositors.

Buying gold or silver (or anything requiring a market to get your wealth back in a readliy exchangable form such as cash) is much more risky than bank accounts as any review of the their historical prices will show. Gold and silver are no longer currencies they are commodities, the recent run-up in gold prices to all time highs looks very much like a classic commodity 'bubble', these always burst without warning as gold did in the 1980s. If you had bought gold in 1980 it would have taken until ~2007 to get your money back let alone a return or allow for inflation.

There are other much safer things than almost useless precious metals to store wealth, especially if you want your wealth back reliably in an exchangeable form in the medium to long term, because of demographics.

My understanding is that this is the official "central bank rate". It doesn't necessarily mean that bank's used directly by the public will have negative interest rates; indeed they need sufficient savings to support (with due acount for fractional reserve lending leverage) their existing loan portfolio. I'd imagine that if there's any pressure from this rate on individuals, it will just be that banks are forced to limit the amount holdable in accounts, but keep account interest rates at a reasonable level.

The intent seems to be to force banks not to save with central banks, but to lend the QE money out. Since entities only apply for loans in order to spend the money, I'd imagine that this will increase the amount of money in circulation.

I don't know about whether there are gold bubbles, but I know that I have no intrinsic interest in gold (it makes good electronic connectors, beyond that I have no intrinsic desire for it) and I make it a rule to very rarely be monetarily involved in things I don't myself want because it means I don't understand the psychology of those people who do, so I'm likely to misappraise things.

I suspect that most small business's would max out any credit lines and pre-pay accounts payables. The company that received the cash early, would do the same. This would seem to create a cycle where business would move to paying cash on delivery.

Yep - that's why I've been stocking up on bike parts...

mountain bike tires
brake / shifter cables
rear cassettes
even a couple frames

My three kids demolished so many bicycles over the course of their childhoods that we once had a veritable bicycle junkyard on the premises. A few years ago I hauled it all off to the landfill. Guess I should've kept it.

You might consider adding a lifetime supply of shoes as well...

E. Swanson

You guys are thinking along the right lines. :-)

Bear in mind if you do need to exchange something for cash in the future so you can buy perishables you will probably be dealing with older people since they tend to be wealthier than young people and require somewhere safe for their own retirement funds - what will those people require, taking account of unsustainable things like peak oil, climate change, population growth and all the rest?

What old people are going to require is a well insulated (low cost to heat/cool) dwelling with a heating/cooling system that operates at very low cost and requires little or no heavy physical labor to operate/fuel.
Cutting wood when you are 40-50 is great, but not so great when you get to 65-80. Dito hauling and stacking thousands of pounds of 40 pound bags of wood pellets/corn.
With today's risky stock market and the low rate of return (less than 1 percent) on CD's (certificates of Deposit), a far better place for some of the retired persons retirement savings are in retrofitting high levels of insulation to their dwelling and installing an air source or geothermal heat pump system. Far better/safer returns than any other.

It just seems to me that the American way of one or two old farts banging around in the last big house they bought before the kids left and retirement simply does not make sense.

The right answer is probably the same simple one that works in the third world and indeed many parts of the world live with one of your children when your old.

Whats interesting is my experience with Chinese culture indicates that the common practice of parents effectively disowning grown children is a lot rarer.

Parents who know that they will eventually have to live with their children are a lot less willing to kick the punk out.

Once you assume that instead of older people being able to live off their accumulated wealth but instead depend on the younger generations all kinds of things change dramatically. In my opinion for the better.

The flip side of course is for the kids any chance of buying a home is dependent on the parents for support so it goes both ways.

Once this mutual dependency is re-established probably by brute force I think many families will adopt the real right answer which is to depend on a more extended family circle throughout your life.

As and aside you also tend to see most people that don't choose to have children eventually join some sort of group say become monks and this group takes care of them when they are old. The family was not the only way.

I think the celibcy thing that seems to be common with non family groups has a lot to do with the pragmatic need to have the members that the group has invested in stay on to support the older members. If the use the resources of the group then have kids and leave it strains the entire group.

Assuming modern birth control methods remain possible we have a new possibility of a group of people that choose not to have children yet don't need strict celibacy rules. And of course you have clans and tribes etc that also work to collectively tend for their elderly but as far as I know generally this dependency of the elderly on the tribe is not strong i.e the tribe does not assure them that they will be taken care of.

All of this is well documented.


However you have the obvious problem of how to control population whilst still developing a similar strong network such that the elderly can be assured of care.

To my knowledge at least in the past this has not been done but also in general you did not have decent medical care.

And last but not least this is just one thing that seems to point to people being forced to form very closely knit clans in the future. Once you consider the desire to maintain a more modern level of living then you effectively require a village that operates in a communistic fashion.
Something along the lines of the Israeli Kibbutz seem to be the smaller "modern" grouping possible given the need for specialization.

Kibbutz's Monasteries etc all seem to have the common theme of a strong religious connection that keeps the group together. Thus it seems if you try to create a modern clan concept that limits population your forced to also embrace religious like concepts for the group. The lack of this is probably why many of the coop's and communes started in the 1960's failed. Organic/Flower Child concepts simply are not strong enough or "religious" enough to create successful extended communities.

And even more interesting most of the alternatives proposed on this board seem to limit themselves to these weak back to nature type religious bindings while history suggests much a much strong dogma is required. Eating organic food and loving your neighbor simply is not enough a much stronger religious like group contract seems to be absolutely required.

Regardless it seems fairly obvious that social groupings esp the tribe/clan/religious group which have been widely abandoned will come back with a vengence thus the social order should change rapidly as we advance into peak oil.
In fact it seems that it must. Also it seems obvious that as these groups form we have room for a lot of social friction as they include and most importantly exclude members.

I am wondering about ways to think outside the box. The best use for my money (that I am saving, say, for retirement) would be to be active in my community in ways that benefit me (and others, incidentally), and then to be recoverable as needed.

On example that comes to mind is my "cow share". For the purposes of getting grass-fed milk, I own a share of a cow. Some of my money is parked in that cow, as it were, and does not accrue interest, but I can get it back at any time by saying I no longer want that milk. It also, incidentally, participates in making that dairy operation possible.

Other examples I can think of, would be to "lend" my money to starting local produce farms, orchards, literacy programs, retraining programs for unemployed workers, child abuse prevention/parenting, education of any kind, sports perhaps, music, arts, you get the picture. The kicker in all these thoughts is the relentless inflation rate, which makes us all feel that our money better be earning interest while it sits, and also the question of whether I might need the money sooner than my project can give it back - disability, unemployment, whatever.

The other thought I have had, is that if all our wealth was measured in perishable food, we just would not conceive of hoarding it. Maybe we would have no civilization, but it just seems that over time, our sort of civilization is increasingly good for a few, and increasingly bad for many. Would we ever have "chosen" to embark on such a path?

A negative interest rate, in the setting of secure social institutions (health care, unemployment insurance, pensions) and a anti-conspicuous consumption attitude, might just result in "wealth-sharing" through "parking" money in ways that benefit the "community".

Many nice points, here.

They bring to mind some of the points made in "The New Dark Age" article:

The end of the Roman Empire actually brought about increased power for many at the lowest end of society. The same could be true for the coming dark age, though not in any reliable, systematic way.

As people withdraw their money and trust from the existing cleptocracy, new forms of polity will evolve. Some will doubtless be more repressive, but others may be more democratic and representative.

Has anyone in the PO community explored these possibilities in more detail?

Actually I was just reading about Woody Tasch and Slow Money. He says: "What if we invested 50% of our money within 50 miles of where we live?". He is starting a Slow Money group in Boulder, so I can check it out. He is also having a first slow money meeting in Santa Fe Sept 9-10. He focuses quite a bit on investing in local food production.

"Gold and silver are no longer currencies they are commodities"

I think that the world's central banks may differ with your opinion. Gold's main use is as money.

"Gold and silver are no longer currencies they are commodities"

This is totally untrue. Central banks still hold large amounts of gold, the BRIC countries are building their reserves. Gold is money and has been for thousands of years.

"the recent run-up in gold prices to all time highs looks very much like a classic commodity 'bubble'"

Hardly. Gold has been keeping its price level of $900 to $1000 for more than a year now. If it were a bubble it would not hold for such a long period.

"There are other much safer things than almost useless precious metals to store wealth, especially if you want your wealth back reliably in an exchangeable form in the medium to long term, because of demographics."

And what would that be? Gold is liquid and transportable. It allows flexibility. Read about the Argentina crisis, gold is very much sought after, you can sell it in many places. Real estate or land can be hard to sell or defend. Stockpiling useful stuff is fine up to a point, but if you have to move / flee it could be a huge problem.

You should have at least some of your money in gold as insurance, it is unique in its transportability, can be easily hidden and its very liquid. Especially in crisis.

I can't use gold to buy anything I require on a daily basis, therefore to me it isn't money and that's all that matters to me. There isn't enough gold in the world outside of central bank vaults to be used as money, hence fiat - I can only exchange it for cash at an unknown, unpredictable but massively variable exchange rate.

Gold typically during my lifetime has been a very poor store of wealth, is inherently extremely risky and totally useless on a daily basis - life is too short to waste wealth in the way that gold can do on occasions, stocks and shares can do the same.

The fact that it's value has fluctuated so much in the last year or so indicates to me that gold is a commodity that can be exchanged for money just like oil, iron ore or wheat - gold does not create wealth humans do, and history shows that 'bubbles' do form and burst! The price of gold is set on irrational markets subject to manipulation by insiders, just like oil or stocks. Actually gold isn't very much sought after, most people in the world have no use for it, they have better things to do with their hard earned money.

I know that places like Las Vegas or Wall St. wouldn't exist without people like you who think they can reliably gamble their way to riches, good luck with gold and trying to run away in a crisis. In my experience this is an especially American attitude to life brought about by the way you save for retirement, pay for health care etc, good luck with that as well.

In other words, "don't deposit your money with us, leave it in your matress!" It will cost you less money.

Yet, it does act as an insurance policy. You are asking the bank to protect your money and you will pay them a nominal fee. You do not have the same security with money under your mattress. Perhaps this is the way we should have approached banking all along; apparently the first banks operated under this business plan.

Probably the best plan in such circumstances would be to just keep cash in a bank safety deposit box. Every bit as safe as a deposit, and you are only paying a nominal flat annual fee instead of a monthly percentage. Yes, I suppose that it is possible that the authorities might break into all the safety deposit boxes and confiscate anything that they find in there. They can do that at your house, too, if they get desperate enough.

I would then expect the banks' safety deposit box charge rate to be based on the value of the contents stored within the box.

They start doing that and they are likely to start encountering some boxes with some rather unpleasant surprises stashed within.

A bank deposit box is a sensible anti-deflation strategy for part of your money IMO. At the moment the 'real world' is in deflation for the things which constitue wealth for most people - things like houses. Once the deflation is over I will need to purchase something that has deflated in price with the money in my box to lock in the gains.

In the UK the contents of the box have to be insured as well as being in the bank's safe, but the difference between interest on a savings account and overall cost of the box is currently just 2% or so. So far if the money is used to buy property the money will buy about 20% more than it would have 18 months or so ago. I expect the price of houses to fall until a person on average wages can afford to rent or buy an average house, we are nowhere near that yet.

When I filled my box with cash I created my own 'run' on the bank branch, it was a very instructive exercise, it seems I understand how banks work more than most of the people working in them (let alone those saving in them) - only the senior management understood the implications so they didn't make it particularly easy for me.

And banks are not doing to hot, either... Bank failures higher than anticipated and 'non-performing assets' are up...

Bank profit squeeze (Video Warning)

Banking analyst Dick Bove says higher FDIC fees will weigh on bank earning power.

Banks ‘too big to fail’ have grown even bigger

WASHINGTON - When the credit crisis struck last year, federal regulators pumped tens of billions of dollars into the nation's leading financial institutions because the banks were so big that officials feared their failure would ruin the entire financial system.

Today, the biggest of those banks are even bigger.

That is exactly the wrong outcome, which was the inevitable result of our government doing almost exactly the wrong things. Yep, they really "fixed" things, all right!

And now we want to entrust our health care to this lot? I know something needs to be done, but these people don't inspire much confidence.

This is kind of non-news. It was clear at the time of the first bailouts and merger deals that this was going to be hugely profitable to the winners, especially GPMorgan and GS. They and their former employees are basically in charge of the country's purse strings at this point.

How this relates to health care is unclear. The VA seems to be run much better than the Fed. That we can't guarantee basic health care to all our citizens in the US is of course a great national disgrace, as most even quite conservative citizens of other countries will concede.

Most countries have squat for health care, what you gave was a talking point and a not very good one. I know rationing is coming down the pike, I would rather not have the Chicago mob doing the rationing (resident of Chicago's suburbs speaking)

Nor would I want to have Goldman Sachs doing the rationing either, for that matter.

I agree. I tend to be conservative, but do not presume I side with the vampire capitalists or the reactionairies who blindly support them. When all is said and done with health care all I want is a measure of freedom to choose my own and not be beholden to the state apparatus.

The VA seems to be run much better than the Fed.

Short memory?

Set the bar low enough and I guess just about anyone can look good.

Yah, the commercial health system doesn't even give them a bed to be neglected in.

"Short memory?"

Well, this is the usual thing. The bushies come in and totally f*ck up reasonably well functioning parts of the gov like VA and FEMA, then their ultra-conservative buddies point at those trashed departments and holler: "See, gov can't do anything worth squat."

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Our for profit health care system is a racket. Cost for care is what rations care now. Even with health insurance that cost a small fortune my co-pays and deductibles are so much that I avoid getting needed health care because it is so unreal expensive. I agree that a government run socialized medical system is a scary option but our present system is so bad that I believe this would be an improvement. At least we need to somehow strip out the for profit aspect.

Yes, but quality medical care for every American under the age of e.g 30 years old would not be overly expensive. Logic would dictate that the older you are the less money the taxpayer would spend to maintain your health, as your life expectancy is diminished. The thing is, this whole scam is political and profitable-even from a macro level the top guys like Obama cannot even articulate what the quantifiable goal is-is it an increased life expectancy for the average American? (which would seem like a logical starting point). If that is the goal then you start taxing and restricting junk food, cigarettes and booze immediately. However, you cannot do anything because of politics and profits so they just make speeches and run scams.

Our for profit health care system is a racket. Cost for care is what rations care now. Even with health insurance that cost a small fortune my co-pays and deductibles are so much

I opened up a letter from by benefits department this morning, as of Sept 1 co-pays will double (ouch).

Does this mean that banks are going to pay people to borrow money?

Seems strange for a fractional reserve system to disavow deposits, but then again the banksters are always a step ahead of me, and unfortunately the law as well.

re: Land use
Sure ethanol is a boondoggle but I might consider it an option in the hopes that it will cripple all beef production, it's proven energy intensive, feedlot or open grazing's inherent degradation of topsoil, manure runoff notwithstanding.

Since March, the dollar index, which weighs the U.S. currency against a basket of foreign currencies like the euro, the Japanese yen, the pound and the Swiss franc, has fallen nearly 12 percent. In that same period, crude has jumped 81 percent.

Over past 10 years, the daily change in the dollar was -.14 R^2 correlation with daily change in oil. In 2009 it is .49 R^2. The weekly correlation is even higher. Interestingly this correlation holds, or is stronger with SP500, and most other commodities. Systemic risk anyone?

In that respect, I like to keep an eye on this graph :

Compares oil price to Euro/$US, also French and US stock indexes.

When stocks are up, oil goes up, and the dollar goes down. Hmmm. Makes sense to me : a real US recovery will go hand in hand with a steep decline in the dollar...

I'm not convinced this is a real problem. The dollar is the unit in which the price of oil is measured. When that unit shrinks, it only makes sense that more of them are required to purchase the same amount of oil. Since the a large portion of oil consumers effectively use dollars to purchase oil, one would expect a high correlation. I expect that the -.49 R^2 is about right and the earlier -.14 R^2 just meant that there was an inefficiency between the two markets. I bet this discrepancy would tighten somewhat if a period longer than one day was considered.

I suppose to you it's predictable systemic risk but to the finance industry it will be a Black Swan if it results in another crisis.

Nitrous oxide is formed by nitrogen cycle bacteria in the soil & sediments as they process and ultimately denitrify nitrogenous fertilizers. Humans artificially fix & apply as much nitrogen as is fixed by all natural sources combined, effectively doubling the amount of nitrogen usable by plants over pre-industrial revolution inputs. Besides the readily apparent problem of eutrophication, this doubled nitrogen input results in increased amounts of ozone depleting N2O being released into the atmosphere. N2O is also a potent greenhouse gas. One of the positive climatic feedbacks that has been unleashed by human activity is globally diminished primary productivity due to depleted stratospheric ozone allowing increased UV irradiation of green plants. This diminished productivity reduces the amount of carbon taken up by plants and sequestered as biomass, slowing the rate at which oxidized carbon is removed from the atmosphere & oceans. This is only one of many positive feedbacks resulting in runaway climatic warming that have been triggered anthropogenically. It may be possible - however unlikely - to reduce direct emissions of oxidized carbon but it is not possible to feed 7 billion people without artificial nitrogenous fertilizers. We will continue to fix nitrogen artificially for the sake of agricultural production, as the ozone shield continues to deteriorate and anthropogenic climatic warming intensifies, until positive feedbacks acting synergistically overwhelm human ability to practice industrial scale agriculture. At this point, human population will collapse to well below pre-industrial revolution levels, since native carrying capacity has been so severely degraded in the past couple centuries. This small fragmented relict population will be hard pressed to maintain itself in a world suffering multiple interacting insults and sans fossil fuels. Technocopian idealists who scoff at the idea of imminent human extinction need to open their eyes to the reality of the situation we, as a species, and the biosphere as a whole, face. The level of denial exhibited by even the nominally PO aware crowd, borders on mental illness.

So what? Tell us something we don't know.

The public are bored senseless already and the warming may just be getting started (or not).So what is going to happen about it? Virtually nothing I reckon. However let us humour you for a while: now that the issue is 100% decided we don't need to pay climate scientists anymore. Use the money instaed to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel; MAYBE help us through some of the strife we are about to witness becasue of energy depletion - also known as Peak oil. "PO" as you put it.


Agreed. Talk and numbers are not action. Time for some protests, time for a wrench in the works.

Time for the wooden shoe...yes yes?

Sabotage...from wiki...
That it derives from the French sabot (a wooden shoe or clog) via its derivative saboter (to knock with the foot, or work carelessly).
That it derives from the late 19th-century French slang use of the word sabot to describe an unskilled worker, so called due to their wooden clogs or sabots; sabotage was used to describe the poor quality work which such workers turned out.
That it was coined during a French railway strike of 1910, when workers destroyed the wooden shoes, or sabots, that held rails in place, thus impeding the morning commute.
That it dates from the Industrial Revolution: it is said that powered looms could be damaged by angry or disgruntled workers' throwing their wooden shoes or clogs (known in French as sabots, hence the term Sabotage) into the machinery, effectively clogging the machinery.

Plop, another one dropped in the punch bowl of kool aid.

DD, you seem to have become aware of the strange phenomenon that advanced knowledge of future catastrophes, even when they will affect themselves directly, does not elicit any avoidance response. I've seen it so many times now that I've come to assume it is normal human behaviour, people only respond to imminent physical harm, not to cerebrally derived knowledge of pending harm.

It is one of the reasons I suggest people make their own preparations, because society as a whole will not and collapse will not be avoided or even mitigated. Civilisation is going to be crushed by the merging of several different crises into one big mother of a catastrophe. As we get squeezed through the bottleneck, having prepared in advance may just allow enough edge to get through to the other side.

As individuals we shouldn't give up, even if civilisation and society has, we must go down fighting for our own survival. As individuals it is the only choice we're going to be able to make, attempt to survive or do nothing and face the inevitable.

It's not a solution, but I have a coping mechanism/strategy that came to me last night:


Revel in the knowledge that we are at the top of the food chain! We are the dominant animal, we are the plague. Any other position in the web would leave us steamrolled at the hands of some other rapacious life form.

I thought of Darwin's Dog and Darwinian after this thought came to me. We are expressing our innate nature, and we are so lucky to be the top dog.

Sit back and enjoy it.

...we are so lucky to be the top dog.

Luck had nothing to do with it. Is the elephant lucky to have a trunk or the giraffe lucky to have such a long neck? Once intelligence evolved as a survival mechanism for a certain great ape, the final outcome was inevitable.

Ron P.

It will be increasingly harder to be topdog as Nature bats last. Nature going first for the young & healthy will just totally demoralize the remainder:

WHO Warns Of Severe Form Of Swine Flu

Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic.
IMO, we might as well start making sure the 'Death Panels' are as fair as possible. I expect the global health care system to go belly up as lots of pathogens start whittling us down.

The mothers cry as their babies die...

Imagine the Duggar family [18 or 19 offspring--I lost count] being told by their insurance company and local hospitals to make a 'Sophie's Choice'.

"Sorry, but due to ongoing financial collapse, we will only jam one tube into the collapsed lungs to ventilate just one child per family. Please fill out the following form with the name of your most favored child."

The luck I referred to...

was the luck that you had to be born human. And especially at this time and in this place.

And one of six odd billion people too many.
We are arrogant SOB's, each one of us thinks we have more right than the next person to live. We think we should be "of the few" to live on find our hideaway and continue to pillage the planet. That is our human nature, the all powereing urge of self preservation.

Once intelligence evolved as a survival mechanism for a certain great ape, the final outcome was inevitable.

That is easy to say after all. What if maximum IQ wouldn't have come above 130 ?

Some of us are old enough to remember when the Devonian was referred to as the "age of fishes," the Carboniferous/Permian as the "age of amphibians," the Mesozoic as the "age of 'reptiles'," and the Cenozoic as the "age of mammals." Steve Gould got it right when he said, "It is, and always has been, the age of bacteria." The saprophytes are the apex of the food chain, not the top predators.

I knew you'd say that!!

I started to comment to that effect initially but thought we'd all just take it as a given, but that someone would point it out nonetheless.

My brother talks about things coming from the "Dildoic era".

"My brother talks about things coming from the "Dildoic era"."

That was the apex of population in the Newfoundland town of Dildo (yes, it really exists; how'd you like to have that listed on your passport as your birthplace?). There is also a South Dildo, which strikes me as even funnier.

"It is, and always has been, the age of bacteria."

Gould got a lot of things right but he also got a lot of things wrong. He championed the idea that differences in human intelligence were entirely due to environmental differences. His political correctness blinded him. He wrote the introduction to this book and praised it to the high heavens in several later essays. Not in Our Genes If intelligence is not largely inherited then we may as well go back to Genesis for the story of how we got here. Gould was the last great Blank Slater. No one dares championing that idea again. "The Mismeasure of Man" was the last great rant against the heritability of intelligence.

Why the age of bacteria? Simply because there are more of them? That makes no sense whatsoever. Bacteria are not animals. How about "The Age of Cockroaches." At least they are animals. I think your memory of what past ages were called was accurate DD, and it is still accurate today.

As you might have guessed I am not a great Gould fan. I have read most of Gould's essays, originally published in "Natural History" and later published in books of essays. Some of them are really great and some of them, especially where he rants against the heritability of intelligence, really stink. Richard Dawkins, Robert Wright, Dan Dennett, E.O. Wilson, Mark Ridley, John Maynard Smith, Steven Pinker and George Williams are my heros. They all have the same opinion of Gould. They loved him but loathed some of his very stupid ideas.

Steven Pinker on Gould The Blank Slate...Gould

Ron P.

Why the age of bacteria? Simply because there are more of them? That makes no sense whatsoever. Bacteria are not animals. How about "The Age of Cockroaches." At least they are animals. ...

You've heard of the "Planet Of The Apes"? Well, we live on the Planet Of The Bacteria (or, more accurately, the Prokaryotes). They had total run of the place for nearly 3 billion years; every other form of life (eukaryotic) is here strictly as guests and by the tolerance of the prokaryotes. And they'll be here long after everything else is not even a memory any more.

I understand that KyHardHead, bacteria are neither plants nor animals, they have their very own kingdom, the kingdom of Monera. They were the first to arrive and they will be the last to leave. They are everywhere, even deep in the earth. They are on everything you touch, breathe, eat or crap. Hell, one third the weight of your stool is bacteria. They are the most primitive form of life. (That will give DD fits!)

From such data some people draw the most absurd of conclusions. There can be no age other than the age of bacteria because there is just so damn many of them and they are just frigging everywhere.

Yeah Right!

Ron P.

Complex cells are evolved colonies of specialized bacteria.

I would say that the prokaryotes are less complex than the eukaryotes, rather than the distinctly anthropomorphic "most primitive."

From such data some people draw the most absurd of conclusions. There can be no age other than the age of bacteria because there is just so damn many of them and they are just frigging everywhere.

If it were simply a matter of numbers, you might have a case. But you know (don't you?) that it's much more than just numbers. Actually, it doesn't make any sense to say "age of bacteria" to begin with - as if to imply there was an earlier age or will be a later age of something else. Unless, of course, you believe that there's something special, other than complexity, about one or another eukaryote ...

...bacteria are neither plants nor animals, they have their very own kingdom, the kingdom of Monera.

Your phylogenetics is badly out of date Ron. The Domain Bacteria is comprised of a score or more kingdoms. The first node in the "Tree of Life" is the split between the Domains Bacteria and Archaea. The second node is between the Domains Archea and Eukarya. Each doman is comprised of dozens or scores of kingdoms. Domain Eukarya is actually a reticulate taxon, in that it arose when a large archean cell became colonized by several smaller bacterial endosymbionts: a purple bacterium that became the eukaryotic mitochondrion, a cyanobacterium that became the chloroplast, a spirochaete that bacame cilia or flagella. Calling the Domain Bacteria the "Kingdom Monera" is sadly out of date. You need to review the contemporary molecular phylogenetic literature.


Well said,old buddy,well said!!

PC marches on but eventually the truth will out.

I myself read Gould's essays for years.Damned fine writer!! BUT

He on his best days was not half the scientist of any you mention.

Any difference in average intelligence,if there actually is any,would probably be indistinguishable from testing noise anyway.

But the evidence that we are differently evolved in our abilities to resist certain diseases,
or to function better in an extremely hot or cold climate,etc,is real,and can no more be denied than evolution itself.

The only way we will get rid of the last of the blank slaters is to wait for them and all thier students to die.

Continuing the conversation on desperate state governments, apparently Schwarzenegger has hatched a plan for the state of California to sell off surplus office furniture and the like in a gigantic garage sale. Seems like appropriate fare for "The Onion".


"(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that the "Great California Garage Sale" will turn government clutter like surplus prison uniforms and office furniture into cash to bulk up the state's depleted finances. On offer as the state clears out clutter are nearly 600 state-owned vehicles and thousands of pieces of office furniture, computers, electronics, jewelry, pianos, even a surf board, a food saver and an Xbox 360 gaming system. "

Why not just a simple solution to what is really a simple problem.

Every government employee who makes up to 50K a year, takes a 10% pay cut. Those that make over 50K, get a 20% cut. No exceptions.

But, they will ride the political merrygoround forever, and continue their downward spiral. Northern CA needs to split off asap.

California state employees have already taken a 15% paycut. 20% was looming, but the Governator appears to have given up on that. Probably because the cuts are starting to impact things like tax collection.

Yes, three unpaid furlough days per month works out to a 15% paycut. It was implemented crudely to say the least. State employees whose jobs were funded by the federal government also had their hours cut, thus saving the state no money at all. Maybe they were hoping the Feds wouldn't notice, and they'd pocket the difference.

Before this last round of budget negotiations. Arnold tried to cut all state employee pay to minimum wage until the budget was passed. Predictably, that didn't fly either.

Is the problem confined to SOCAL? If so, splitting would mean total economic collapse for us in the south. YAY! More land to plant my crops on! Everybody leaves, but the (small scale) farmers!! SECESSION!!!

I request that those leaving Cali do Not relocate to my Asphaltistan in AZ, nor Nevada, or any other Southwest US area. Please head North, or in the general direction of Detroit & Flint, Michigan. I read that they will soon have lots of urban permaculture plots opening up, and plenty of decrepit housing that can be burned for cooking and heating fuels.

I will very reluctantly and very, very carefully harvest, then burn jumping cholla myself:


I have scars on my right forearm when little chunks of skin meat was removed as I yanked out the deeply impaled cholla. Yep, you scream and cuss like a true maniac during this process. :(

The guy in this following photo is lucky--just one cholla-barb--IMO, that is not much worse than an embedded fishing hook [unlucky fishermen know what I am talking about].

bleeding like a stuck pig
Try to imagine lots and lots of more barbs as is typical to most poor bastards that get accidentally whacked by this cacti.

In other words: make the state workers take a pay cut rather than have everyone take a pay cut (ie raise taxes). California is in the bind they are in because of the Grover Norquist crowd and the redistribution of money out of the state.

I notice another couple of articles on Lynch and the peak oil response, especially from Nate. My challenge to Lynch would be simple. Never mind all the intangibles about how large reserves are, what technology may or may not be able to deliver, or how much oil there is still to find. I would focus on what we do know and ask Mr Lynch to explain why production has been flat for the last 5 years and why, in the middle of the worst truly global recession in living memory, oil is still 7X its level 10 years ago and 3X its average level in the 80's/90's.

Let's get down to the actual data becuase it's screaming peak oil in my opinion. And the onus is now on Lynch or anyone who wishes to argue the point to come up with some pretty substantive data that suggests otherwise. Data not hand waving and speculation.


Arguing about the last 5 years production with Lynch won't work as he will call it "anecdotal" information. In my opinion, data alone won't convince him (actually nothing will) but convincing others with a non-anecdotal study will help to diminish Lynch's standing. That's because Lynch feeds on weaknesses in our arguments as it produces FUD in his readers' minds. Same thing is happening with the AGW discussion, see the usual sites such as climateaudit, etc.

LOL, after studying 3 years of advanced calculus (as part of an Aero-Eng degree) I still find climate audit heavy reading. I'm glad i'm not the only one who finds CA is filling their heads up with "FUD". However, they might take offence at this desciption from the point of view that they are only generally correcting human post processing mistakes.


For people with a background in calculus, I always recommend Ray Pierrehumbert's excellent book, Principles of Planetary Climate. Free pre-print online, and much more worthwhile than CA or WUWT!

This guys put all 517 pages on the public domain! Also just noticed it's actually a self-study course.

Yes, it's very, very cool -- enjoy!

Aargh! I knew I shouldn't have read Drumbeat today! How will I find the time to do anything else?!?

D**n you, Barrett! ;-)

But seriously, thanks for the link. It does look very cool.

Arguing about the last 5 years production with Lynch won't work as he will call it "anecdotal" information

Well, yes, I suspect you are right, if someone is that stubborn then they can be impossible to convince. But actual production data is surely the one piece of evidence that is NOT anecdotal, i.e. the veracity is not really in question (give or take a million barrels here or there). Unlike the reserve estimates or guesses at what technology might bring to the party.

I still maintain that the way to handle Lynch is to get him to put forward a positive argument for his case rather than allowing him to pick apart our view. Easier said than done of course!


Why the concern about "convincing" Lynch? That isn't going to happen no matter what anyone does, so why bother? The important people to convince are "the influentials" amongst the general population, and the power elite.

Using current production data won't work. OPEC is now controlling the price because it controls marginal production.

Peak oil is simple, just look at the oil production curve for the US.....
Up to the peak in 1970 and then down ever since.
The rest of the world will follow just like Norway, Mexico, etc...
If Lynch does not understand a bell curve, then he will never understand peak oil.
Even if we are not half way thru the world supply, just the flow rate and cost will prohibit production from going any higher. I guess in 20 years Lynch will still say no peak oil even though production will be 50% less than today.

The major part of grief is DENIAL! Then follows Anger. Then Depression, then Acceptance.

I plotted the following graph in order to gauge 'Peak Cheapness' for Oil:

["Peak Cheapness" is defined as that point in time (only knowable in the rear view mirror ;o) when oil is at its most cheap. This corresponds to happier times when nobody really gave a damn about driving a 10mpg Hummer or really thought the stuff or any of the things derived from it like metals, etc. would ever get more expensive. The subsequant downslope from 'Peak Cheapness' (circa ~1999) has basically been tough on everyone and as of 2009 most people -and their Governments- have had to go waaaay into debt to simply keep their former lifestyle 'on the road' so to speak.]

Oh well, it was good while it lasted...


(Goto www.stockcharts.com and enter $USD:$WTIC -set timescale for 20 years, weekly, line)

Re: weak dollar pushing energy prices higher

along with

a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/28/us-farmers-see-their-inco_n_271019.html">U.S. Farmers See Their Income Plunge 38% As Recession Grips Agriculture

After some of the most profitable years in a generation, American farmers have seen their incomes dwindle as the recession begins to weigh on food prices. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning on the sad state of the heartland, which had been largely insulated from the downturn in 2007 and 2008.

How bad is the drop in farmer's incomes? The Agriculture Department reports that U.S. farm profits will dip 38 percent this year alone. (For some context, the S&P 500 index is up just over 10 percent this year.) Here's the WSJ:

Doesn't seem to be about Big Ag.

As suspect as farm subsidies and (financial) bailouts are, I still gotta think that making sure food can be produced might be a tad more important than keeping no-loan zombie banks standing up.


I think what the recession has done so far is to make the wholesalers even more cut-throat to drive end prices into the ground, margins must be wafer thin at the mo. even lossy.

IMO everyone is going to be really surprised how fast food price Inflation comes back -possibly even by the end of the year people are going to start noticing it, certainly in 2010. This is a non-discretional item that everyone needs, more Dollars in the system chasing fewer goods (due to reduced POTash application, bad harvests, 70 million more mouths, etc.) = Price rises.

"Have you seen the price of [insert name of common food item]"


Hello Noutram,

Good points on food shortages. Recall my earlier postings on I-NPKS & O-NPK-->we will do anything to get these fertilzers because there are No Substitutes for these Elements to leverage photosynthesis above a Liebig Minimum, thus my earlier speculation that I-NPKS may be the 'Last Bubble'.

Have you hugged your bag of Elements today?

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

HEad in the tar sands?! ROFLMAO!!!

Re: Makin' Bacon: Foodies Are Going Hog Wild Over Pig

I have come really close to truley making my own BLT. I have my own garden, with the lettuce and the tomato. My brother raised the pig, my father-in-law butchered it for me, I made the cure and smoked the bacon myself. My brother also grows wheat, which I have ground into flour and made bread.

I just haven't put all of these together at the same time for the BLT.

The article "The next Dark Age" makes me think again about something I've been wondering about for a while - what eroi could you get from charcoal? Especially from woody annuals and fast growing perennials, such as hemp, bamboo, etc. In the wikipedia article on charcoal, it claims it was used for fuel (in two forms) in internal combustion engines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charcoal#Automotive_fuel However, I have been unable to find anything more, other than names of countries where such fuel was popular during WWII.
EDIT: a comparison between the btu's of coal and charcoal would be helpful in this.


You might want to do a search of TOD archives for "wood gas/woodgas." We had some very long discussions about this several years ago. I know there were also a lot of links in the posts.

If not Google the same thing for tons of stuff.


Re Charcoal as a fuel google Imbert.
or for a modern system look at All Power Labs GEK

Also a lot of useful data can be got at http://gasifiers.bioenergylists.org/node?page=5
Fluidyne NZ also has a lot of usefull info

From up top:

...maximum temperatures in August were broadly three degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the long-term average.

37F above normal, now that's hot. I had no idea those newfangled Celsius degrees were so big! :-O

37F above normal, now that's hot. I had no idea those newfangled Celsius degrees were so big!

I got a chuckle reading that one. Proof of my assertion that those who can't do math, become journalists. Obviously plugged into some C to F calculator without a clue as to what the results meant. [ Of course there is the chance the author wasn't the screwup and some editor tried to add in conversion to F after the fact, proof that editors are not smarter than yeast ].

3.7 instead of 37

3.7 instead of 37

No. 5.4. but 3C= 32+5.4F, which rounds to 37. So the author (editor?) didn't know the difference between a temperature, and a difference of temperature.

"Oil became a safe haven as traders (who) lost confidence in the U.S. banking system ran to oil to protect themselves from the deteriorating economic world around us," said PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn. "Some critics now call that excessive speculation, but what I call it is reflection of the reality. You have to remember the value of any commodity when expressed in a currency will ultimately be determined by the confidence and faith in that underlying instrument."

So we can run from the gold then the silver standard, and print money like mad, but reality has a way of biting us in the arss, by invetors making the price of oil the standard value against the dollar. Looks like we are on the oil standard now. Think about that for a moment. We are on a standard for a commodity that we need to import huge amounts of, and is in post peak depletion.

As they said in the Seinfeld episode when Jerry broke the rat hat up in the Kenny Rogers chicken outlet, "That's not going to be good for business. That's not going to be good for anybody."

Mexico is the third largest oil supplier to the US and its exports have declined by almost 15% for the first half of this year as compared to the same period last year. Production levels are expected to drop by an additional 4% in 2010. This is the continuation of a several year trend. More confirmation that Mexico is on the back side of its oil depletion curve.


I have followed Cantarell and Pemex for four years. Projections from Pemex for future crude production are notoriously off, by my estimation, a factor of two. A case in point, nowhere in Pemex's recent statements do you find that Cantarell crude production in July 09 fell 41% from July 08. At no time in the last four years has Pemex forecast the decline of Cantarell from 2.1 m/b/d in 2004 to 588,210 b/d in July 09. At all times Pemex published projections that grossly IMO understated the actual decline.
Based on the observed data compared against forecasts over four years, I would double the decline rate for planning purposes. Of course Pemex could improve as they have information direct from the field that nobody else could possibly have. But to date, it hasn't helped make their published forecasts very accurate IMO.

newman -- too much detail to go into but PEMEX has always had a good estimate of the future production rates from Cantarell. The expansion of the nitrogen gas cap is easily measured by their monitor wells. Such rapid declines as seen are the rule and not the exception in this type of pressure maintenance. And we can't lay the missed projections off on incompetance. The nitrogen injection is managed by foreign expats for the most part. In general all the operators (like the Saudis) of the big fields have a fairly accurate projection of depletion. They just don't care to share for a variety of reasons.

Copenhagen's 'best city for cyclists' goal

In Copenhagen, a third of people already cycle to work, school or university. There are about 350km (217 miles) of cycle routes around the city. Cyclists have priority over cars and pedestrians at many major junctions and traffic lights.

City officials have just announced their plans to get half of commuters using bikes by 2015. "The city has worked consistently to improve things for cyclists," said Andreas Rohl, who is in charge of the city's cycling programme.

Now this is a refreshing article. We can only dream of stats like that in North America. Here in Vancouver we've taken one lane away from cars on the 6-lane Burrard Bridge and turned it into a bicycle lane. As you can imagine, this was hugely controversial with all kinds of predictions of traffic chaos etc. So far the experiment has been a success with none of the dire predictions coming true. It took a lot of guts for city hall to push this one through.

On another note, the new subway from downtown to the airport/Richmond opened a couple of weeks ago, 3 month ahead of schedule. Initial ridership has been much better than expected, although it seems a lot of people are just joy-riding at the moment. Also, Taxi companies are losing business as you can get downtown quicker on the train than by car.

Love your city and what it has done for efficient transport. During our visit there last year we biked from Coal Harbor around Stanly park and the harbors almost all the way to UBC. Also, like riding the 100 km Galloping Goose bike trail on Vancouver Island where the cars also have to stop at the bike trail crossings.

Yes, Vancouver has done more than other North American cities to encourage cycling and public transport, and it has certainly yielded some results. This of course pales in comparison to what Copenhagen, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and other European cities have done

There is a dramatic difference between the city of Vancouver (and inner suburbs) and its sprawling outer suburbs, which look very much like any other North American suburbs. There is a huge city/suburb cultural divide that has lead to some interesting politics. I guess the same forces are at work in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

Vancouver is the ONLY major North American city without a freeway.

Best Hopes for More,


In the 1960s the local polititians decided that they didn't want Vancouver to look like Los Angeles and took a last stand against freeways. At that time, an elevated freeway to downtown was in the process of being build. The only portion that was completed was a short section just east of downtown, the Dunsmuir and Georgia viaducts which today end in a residential neighborhood. Also, a short section of Highway 1 cuts across the northeast corner of Vancouver.

The lack of freeways together with some enlightened urban planning has led to a very attractive city. The use of seawalls along most of the coast line (instead of private property right up to the waterline), has morphed into extensive foot/bike paths that are heavily used and have undoubtably lead to higher than average fitness levels among the locals.

It's amazing how decisions made decades ago affect the way a city looks and feels like today.

It may also help that Vancouver is on a peninsula and at the very edge of nowhere, so there's little need to handle through traffic. In many cities, the freeways push through traffic to almost the center of downtown, then out again, rather than carrying it past the city. If you need to get anywhere on the US Interstates, this is quite annoying and wasteful, really, because usually the only routes are through the clogged downtowns or else the very long way around on the peripheral beltways (where those exist.)

Same thing happened in Toronto although it was led by citizens and neighbourhood groups. I once looked at the official plam (1946?) for Toronto and the experts were planning to destroy the city-Bloor, one of the most important urban streets, was to be a superhighway and Spadina also. There would have been no city left at all if the bureaucrats had not been opposed.

solar panel prices drop 40%. well! maybe if we wait another 18 months they drop again and again....&c. i wish i had waited. but if i did i would be unemployed and would have canceled my order. so i had $25 grand plunked on a 3KW system 2 years ago. my advice, even at 40% price
reduction dont do it. solar power wont be worth while until a 9KW system can be had installed for $25 grand with no rebates and tax incentives. currently at $77 grand up front money? no way, show off green shoots for the uber wealthy. not practical at all. but... the current paradigm is to spend trillions of dollars on war. the usa could have already been a solar powered nation some times over. that curmudgeon of armageddon, JHK, sez suburbia is the largest mis allocation of resources. i submit to you that WAR is the biggest mis allocation of resources. maybe he can write a CFN article about it one monday. what have we here? why it's the oil conundrum.

I'll sell you an 8.4kwp for $44K. $31K net after the tax credit...

nope, 9kwh, $25k. pal, i am unemployed. it's all up front costs anyway.
and who knows how low the price will be in 18 months. get back to me then.in new jersey only 350 folks per year got the rebate. and the fed
tax credit doesnt get back to you until after you do your taxes. up front costs, baby, up front costs. uber wealthy green shoots.

It's too bad that even-poorer renters [paying utilities] have no way to convince the landlord to even mildly insulate, weatherstrip, and upgrade windows, doors, and appliances, much less persuading the landlord to add solar hotwater and/or PVs.

Here is a simple idea for the idiot government officials that might be reading this site.

FEMA, of which, I am very familiar with, can issue checks pretty much on the spot for Disaster relief. So, why not have them issue checks for free Owens-Corning Pink Fiberglass Insulation, to anyone in the U.S. that has it installed by a legitimate contractor or DIY homeowner? Pink Fiberglass insulation can pretty much only be used for one thing...get it...INSULATION. Can't eat it or burn it in a crack pipe. Kinda hard to sell it on the black market if it's free? The regional directors are already in place, tied in with the local Emergency Preparedness organizations like CERT. Bring your invoice from Home Depot, and pick up payment. Real stimulation for the economy. Not the fake crappola the criminals in Congress throw our way. Cash for clunkers? Yep that worked, ,,for a day.

It is, a F**king Disaster, after all, the way this government is being run.

Do something that makes sense...

"...Do something that makes sense..."

Yup, good thinking. I dead-reckon that our inept govt, at all levels, is stupidly and unknowingly dead-heading us into the fast-crash scenario.

You can buy panels for $2.49 on eBay today. Buying 9 kWp of those would cost you $22,410 without shipping, mounting hardware, installation, inverter and/or batteries. But, why do you want a 9 kWp array? Are you going to run a heat pump with it? And, if you are already unemployed, I suggest that you might think again about spending anything on solar PV until after you've put in a solar hot water heating system.

BTU's baby, BTU's...

E. Swanson

Declining solar prices hurt panel manufacturers


Solar panel prices to slide into next year


Money spent on conservation is still the best bang.

Reduce your consumption ...

1.5 Kw on a tracker is what I am shooting for.

I just signed up for a smallish 2.45KW system yesterday. With PG&E's tiered charging system (and our very sunny climate), I figure I'll be saving roughly $.15 per Kw-hr, which works out to a bit better than 6% ROI. As municipal bonds (tax free compares to cost savings as after tax income) currently pay something like 4%, I can justify it on investment grounds alone. And I recon it will effectively shade about 20% of my roof, which should mean a pretty big saving on AC, in addition to the power generated.

Congratulations, EoS. It would be difficult to predict the cost of utility power displaced over the life of the investment, but your new system should provide a measure of protection should rates rapidly exceed inflation and/or these higher tier blocks become even more punitive. And watching your meter run backwards will no doubt provide endless hours of entertainment (I wish I were so lucky!).


I am sorry that someone ripped you off, when you purchased your system. I have a 5kwh system that cost 13,000 after the states buy down a couple of years ago. To be fair the system would have cost 40,000 without the buydown. To be really fair the installer charge a 25 percent premium (on everything) ...electricians, labor, parts etc.. I knew they were ripping me off, but my eyes were wide open. Part of the reason the "professional" installers overcharge is because they front the money before the buy down and do a lot of paperwork associated with the buydown. In 2004 I had 2.5 kwh system put in in CA for 5000 (7000 before rebate), because I bought the system from a online dealer and convinced a non specialized electrician to put it in. Currently you can buy a 3kwh kit for 10k here and a 10 kwh for 45k at sunelec.com. You can do even better if you use thin film panels. Installers charge what the market will bear, but there are alternatives. Clearly solar electric is the last thing you should do.

Here is the order I suggest that people use reduce dependency on oil (not including ditching your car).
1. Reduce energy usage (most people can cut usage in half without much pain)
2. Insulation (as much as you can)
3. Solar hot water (about 3 year pay back)
4. Photovoltaic or Wind electricity generation

I realize that if have no money, you have probably already done number one and can't do the rest. Due diligence is required for the rest. As for the government, the uber rich, war, and mis-allocation of resources...Life's a bitch, then you die.

From 'Recession Speeds Coal's Long-Term Decline' linked above.

Coal is caught in a bit of a squeeze right now because it's costs are more sensitive to oil than natural gas is. Higher cost eastern bituminous producers are especially affected, as older Midwest coal plants face competition from gas combined-cycle. Western coal is relatively abundant and in the low-cost portion of its production cycle.

There are some misperceptions in the article, regarding coal plant operation.

Combined-cycle plants do not actually 'cycle' better than coal plants. Gas combustion turbines for peaking cycle better, but these are not the plants that displace coal. The perception that baseload gas plants (combined cycle) have more operational flexibility is a bit off the mark.

The article notes June 09 is down 12% compared to June 08. This is not really a surprise, since the weather this year was quite a bit cooler. Overall, coal consumption is down about 5% compared to last year.

I think generation from existing coal plants is just as likely to rally and it will be harder to 'get rid of coal' than people think. Future prospects for coal in steam generation are poor, however, because the industry anticipates climate legislation that will make new coal plants uneconomic.

On that Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

The scientists hope their data gives clues as to the density and extent of marine debris, especially since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may have company in the Southern Hemisphere, where scientists say the gyre is four times bigger.

"We're afraid at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there," said Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution.

Maybe we should start sending our waste plastic to the south, since the gyre there has more room.

Only humans are to blame for ocean debris, Goldstein said. In a blog entry posted a day before the science ship arrived in Newport, Ore., she wrote the research showed her the consequences of humanity's footprint on nature.

What about "abiotic plastic"?

The term "abiotic plastic" is sometimes used in medical research to distinguish synthetic polymers from polypeptide or mucopolysaccharide macromolecules of biological origin (biopolymers).

I hereby volunteer to journey to the South Pacific and investigate the plastic gyre, I've "got to go" too. I'll especially check the South facing near shore sides of various islands and atolls. I would like to go down there during our N hemisphere Summer, please. I think some surf gear would come in handy in case I have to jump in and sample some debris.

Our friend "WaveRider" has headed that way, probably somewhere due South of Hawaii a few 1000 K's by now...

Not oil related, but internet related-this bill would give the White House the authority to disconnect private sector computer networks-not being a computer expert in any way, I don't understand exactly what they intend to do with this new power-maybe someone here knows http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10320096-38.html

The large font giveth, and the small font taketh away.

I expect this to occur just shortly after they order all banks to DELETE ALL FILES *.*

rm -r *.*



A few comments on the Australian "hot" winter.
Where I live,about 100 km inland from the East coast(South Queensland),we had good flood rain in May.This is not usual but certainly not unknown.June had lighter rain distributed throughout the month so the country was looking good and a lot of fuel for fires was generated.

There has been zero rainfall since late June culminating in a heat wave of several days with hot North West winds.The thermometer registered a maximum of near 38 degrees celcius here.It is still 'officially' winter.As I am in an area where there is high bushfire danger I had my preparations in place to try and fight it if it came to that.Rather puny preparations when one considers what the Red Steer can do but one has to try.Fortunately it has now cooled down a lot and there is rain predicted.

However,with the two most dry months being September and October in this part of Australia things are not looking too good.Also,this is the first winter here that there have been mosquitos present throughout and there was no frost.

I am not confusing weather with climate and Australia has wildly variable climate but it is possible we are getting a foretaste of what is to come.

I had to take a 30km unsealed road detour yesterday when the Derwent River flooded here in SW Tasmania. That's after about 100 straight rainy days. I wonder how an EV would cope with an unplanned detour. It seems certain to get worse.

Regulators shut Bradford Bank in Maryland; 82nd US bank failure this year


Putting together several Drumbeat items it would seem natural gas for everything is the new 'solution'. I agree with the ExxonMobil CEO in Australia that 20% renewables by 2020 is near impossible. Even if wind and solar are subsidised to the hilt a lot of gas combined cycle plant will be needed to smooth out lulls in output. I also predict that CNG will soon become popular for vehicles that need range. However Australia has now flagged that it wants to export as much LNG as possible. That means Australia will pay world parity prices for domestic gas.

I think a policy needs to be formulated whereby domestic gas gets priority; for ammonia production, CNG and balancing of intermittent sources like wind and solar. As a conservation measure the ratio of gas backup to wind and solar should be set by regulation, no more than say one-to-one. Baseload generation should be done by nukes. Last of all is LNG export.

In other words those countries that have natural gas should be saving it for later, not squandering it.

Hello TODers,

My Asphaltistan is dissed by the Travel Guru. My guess is he doesn't know much about our Wild,Wild West history and the OK corral:

Frommer compares Phoenix to Mogadishu, threatens Arizona boycott over gun rights

Arthur Frommer has written numerous travel books, including complete guides to Ho Chi Minh City and Beijing, but he's drawing the line at traveling to Arizona because Americans practice open carry in Phoenix even during political demonstrations...
Let's hope it keeps even more people from visiting/relocating to the Southwest as we are in drastic Overshoot already, IMO.

We are also home to the world's largest public-funded shooting range, and yes, it does get crowded [see my prior postings].

A long time ago, when I worked at a grocery store as a teen: it was not unusual to see an occasional customer check-in their weapon with the store manager before they went shopping. Before that, when I lived in the Nevada boonies, most people had a weapon in their pickup's rifle rack--it was considered no big deal, and people were honest.

Unfortunately nowadays: any weapon left in plain site would be gone in less than 30 seconds from some drug-addict needing some quick money to buy his/her next dose.

320 to go home - Iberostar's Rose Hall Beach Hotel to close its doors

Yesterday evening, however, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said stakeholders must at all times be careful about the demands they place on the tourism sector, especially at a time of global economic fragility.

Bartlett said in a release that while the temporary closure was unfortunate, it was understandable given the impact of the global economic crisis on tourist travel.

"While tourism arrivals are increasing, we need more than the 3.3 per cent growth which we are now experiencing to fill our hotel rooms at this time," Bartlett said in a release. "The fact is that our room numbers have been growing, at a time when the world economy is in a downturn and most other tourism destinations have been hurting from serious declines in visitor arrivals."

Is this what Peak Oil/Recession means for small tourism dependent economies? Unless you are dependent on the income of one of the 320 people who will be going on an indefinite furlough, closure of one property is not particularly earth shattering except for the fact that this is not an isolated situation, as pointed out towards the end of the article.

The 1,000-room Grand Palladium Hotel is running an occupancy level of 15 per cent; Sandals Montego Bay is at 32 per cent; Grand Lido Negril - 19 per cent; Bahia Principe - 35 per cent; The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall - 17 per cent; and Riu Palace - 38 per cent.

The only hotels that seem to be doing a little bit above par are Riu Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Also interesting is the following:

"We are currently running at 16 per cent occupancy level, and we see no improvements in forward bookings to minimise the losses," Hofer said, adding that operational cost at the 366-room property was 40 per cent of the amount to run the two adjoining resorts.

"Electricity at Hotel One consumes 40 per cent of the electricity that the entire company uses," he explained.

Maybe these Spanish hotel investors should have brought some of their CSP experimenting nationals along with them to try and provide some renewable energy for their hotel investments. Taking into consideration the fact that 90% of the electricity generated in this island is produced using oil or natural gas fired plants, the risk of even more unmanageable electricity costs in the future is very real.

Here is an is another example where private investors have made investments, on the basis of rosy forecasts from "energy experts" that, may go very sour the higher oil(energy) prices go.

Alan from the islands

Hello TODers,

Some excerpts on the Saudi Royal Family birthrate:

[From a 2004 article]:
..After all, there are an estimated 5,000-plus Saudi princes, each one of whom is given $500,000 at birth as a sort of start-up fee. The family propagates at the extraordinary rate of 35 to 40 princes a month. The founding King Ibn Saud kept four wives, four concubines, and four slaves, whose numbers he replenished frequently. He married into 30 tribes, deftly building the country by tying it together into a network of mothers and children...
[From another 2004 article]:
..In an article for Atlantic Monthly magazine, Robert Baer, a 21-year CIA veteran in the Middle East, estimated the Saud family consists of some 30,000 members - a number he says will double within the next generation.

And privilege comes with membership: no need to work (there's a monthly stipend for the 3,000 to 4,000 princes, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars each); unlimited flights aboard Saudi Arabian Airlines; and first dibs (not to mention low prices) on land expropriated by the kingdom...
Saudi Arabia Enters the Twenty-First Century, Volume 1
By Anthony H. Cordesman [2003]

[Page 143]: It is becoming all too clear that demographics are a major problem within the royal family as well as within the Saudi population as a whole. The high birthrate within the royal family means the number of "princes" doubles every 22 to 26 years and that there are 70% more "royal" males under eighteen than those above it.
When I google "Saudi Royal Vasectomy": I get no useful info.

Even googling the more general term "Saudi vasectomy" only brings up this link:

Sorry! There is not Saudi Arabia Vasectomy products result.

Sorry! There is not Saudi Arabia Vasectomy company result.
It appears that KSA may be headed the opposite direction from this 2009 link:

Saudi mufti okays marriage for 10 year old girls

"Our mothers and grandmothers got married when they were barely 12. Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age."
You would think KSA's Royalty would be doing all they could to keep the Royal Family from getting too big. Perhaps, they will really whittle themselves down fast internally with lots of assassinations when they go postPeak. Seems to me it would have been a lot easier to just get vasectomys.

According to Wikipedia, 45 countries have a higher population than Saudi Arabia, and 204 countries have a higher population density.

...so while this talk about princes and child marriages is entertaining, we should remember that Saudi Arabian overpopulation is insignificant compared to America, Japan, China, etc.

If you think princes are funny, consider the American "Life Alert" TV commercial where the elderly lady has fallen and can't get up. Presumably she'd die without her Life Alert bracelet. Former Surgeon General Koop appears and says everyone should have Life Alert!

Some Asian friends think this is pretty funny.

Are those 45 and 204 countries deserts?

When people say that KSA has us by the short-and-curlies because they have all the oil, I always ask them what 22 million people will find to eat in the desert.

Are those 45 and 204 countries deserts?

Some are, and some are not. Do you have something to say?

Only what I said. Read it and weep.

Food, Water, Energy Shortages Threaten India Security

India was supposed to release sugar and wheat from its reserves to ease the shortages, but keeps delaying the release (not sure whether they've now released it or not). So its funny that the State is cracking down on hoarders, when it is itself doing the very same thing. Seemingly India's summer rice acreage is down 20% which can't help matters going forward.

China bought a whopping amount of soya beans this week. Something about China's wheat harvest this year seems to be a little too good to be true also:

China is the other interesting area for discussion here. I find it all very strange that a country in the grip of a terrible drought in the middle of the growing season should ultimately bring in a record crop. A quick search on the blog throws up that on Feb 7, Henan province had its first rainfall for 110 days - and that was just 6 mm. So newly planted wheat in Henan had no rain at all for the first three months of it's life, yet China brings in a record crop. Maintaining this nice steady upwards growth, no matter what, for the seventh year in succession. Now I ask you, how likely was that?

I didn't go to China to see how bad, or otherwise, things were at harvest time, and I don't suppose you did either? But come on. Planted area for the 2009 wheat crop incidentally was just 1.25% higher than in 2008, just in case you were wondering.

They aren't auctioning off any of their record wheat crop, and supposedly huge reserves, in their regular weekly sales are they?