Drumbeat: August 31, 2009

A little shale gas skepticism from Matt Simmons

Matt Simmons, (he of Twilight in the Desert) believes the excitement of huge domestic reserves of natural gas in shale is overblown and outright incorrect.

"In the 40 years I've followed the industry I've been continuously amazed at the tangent people are willing to go off on without any data, or by getting the data wrong," Simmons said.

When producers tap natural gas in shale formations the output is very high at first, with as much as 70 percent of the reserves tapped in the first year, Simmons said. Another 20 percent of the total is tapped in the second year while the remaining 10 percent, in theory, plays out over the next decade or more.

Chávez ratifies oil sales to the US

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said that his country would keep on exporting oil to the United States; otherwise, Venezuelan interests would be endangered.

Chávez told daily newspaper El Comercio that "many people do not know" that Venezuela has seven large refineries and over 10,000 gas stations in the United States.

"Venezuela cannot make a decision against us. We send this oil to our refineries in the United States."

The Arab maverick

Colonel Gaddafi has long lost interest in the Arab world, has insulted many of its leaders and is now looking to the West for some protection against Islamist extremists. He complains that the West has not rewarded him for his recent co-operation. What he fails to understand is that, as long as he refuses all reform, democracy or basic political rights to his long-suffering people, Libya will never emerge as a regional power.

Brazilian president aims to eradicate poverty with oil billions

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva today vowed to pump billions of petrodollars into the war on poverty in the wake of one of the world's biggest oil discoveries this decade.

Speaking on his weekly radio show, president Lula said: "Monday, 31 August, represents a new independence day for Brazil.

"We are talking about a discovery of oil that is almost 6,000m [under the sea], huge reserves that place Brazil among the biggest oil producers in the world."

Cairn abuzz at prospect of Greenland oil

Speaking just days ahead of yesterday's ceremony, which officially began production from Cairn's giant Rajasthan fields, Watts wasn't even talking about India. Instead, his thoughts were thousands of miles away, in the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Based on another hunch, Watts now believes it might be on the verge of an even bigger mine of black gold, this time in a country where no one has found a single barrel of oil – Greenland. Despite having no domestic oil industry, Greenland is believed to have massive undiscovered reserves. The US Geological Survey puts it on its list of top 10 countries in the world for undiscovered oil.

Germans hoard energy-guzzling bulbs ahead of EU ban

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans, who sometimes see themselves as guardians of the environment, are hoarding energy-guzzling incandescent light bulbs ahead of a looming European Union-wide ban, the GfK market research agency said.

The Nuremberg-based GfK reported sales of incandescent bulbs had soared about 35 percent in the first half of the year ahead of a ban that starts on Tuesday -- even though it was proposed by German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel in 2007.

Some German retailers said they have seen sales of 100-watt incandescent bulbs soar 600 percent since the end of July.

Australia Alert to Mega - Fires as Summer Nears

CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian state introduced on Monday a "mega-fire" alert level that will warn people to flee approaching wildfires and leave homes undefended as unseasonal winter bushfires point to a searing summer ahead.

China May Boost Solar-Power Output Capacity 13-Fold by 2011

(Bloomberg) -- China may boost its solar-power output capacity by more than 13-fold by 2011 as the world’s second-largest energy consumer increases the use of renewable energy, an industry official said.

The country may raise its solar-power capacity to 2,000 megawatts by 2011 and 20,000 megawatts by 2020, from 150 megawatts at the end of last year, Cui Rongqiang, head of the Shanghai Solar Energy Society, said by telephone today.

Kurt Cobb: Burning Picassos for Heat

Burning natural gas to extract and process oil from the Canadian tar sands has been likened by one industry insider to burning Picassos for heat. But the bidding at the "Picassos for heat" auction may go even higher as those involved in tar sands and oil shale development push for nuclear power to fuel their projects.

Chevron Restarts 8 Inlet Platforms, Has New Plan for Oil Transport

Chevron Corp. has restarted oil production on eight Cook Inlet platforms the company operates.

Chevron-operated platforms Anna, Bruce and Granite Point were restarted Aug. 9, the King Salmon and Dolly Varden platforms Aug. 11, the Monopod platform on Aug. 15 and Grayling platform on Aug. 17, Chevron spokeswoman Stephanie Price said.

Kenya: Fuel dries out as firms feud

A blame game has ensued between the national electricity distributor and Mombasa-based oil refinery, Kenya Petroleum Refineries Ltd (KPRL), over the shortage of petrol that has gripped the country.

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) said KPRL ought to publicly state the real cause of the shortage of petrol, instead of citing electricity interruptions.

PEMEX Petroquimica to shutter 3 petrochemical plants

Deteriorating demand triggered by the ongoing economic downturn has pressured petrochemical subsidiary of PEMEX Petroquimica (PPQ) to reconsider plant options at multiple sites.

Iran to Put 14 New Oil, Gas Fields for Tender

Iran is to put 14 new oil or gas fields for tender in the near future, an Iranian news agency said Saturday, amidst increased uncertainty for the country's oil industry.

Assassin Hid Explosives in Body

The man who tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s anti-terror chief last Thursday managed to get past security in a Jeddah palace by hiding explosives in his rectum.

Details of the assassination attempt, the first against a member of the Saudi royal family in decades, were revealed to the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyya.

The method of hiding explosives inside the body is unprecedented among Al-Qa’ida terrorists, and may draw a re-examination and alteration of security arrangements around sensitive facilities and individuals in the Saudi kingdom.


Whack! The soil, such as it is, gives way to my mattock.

What if I’m right? What if the industrial age comes to its overdue close, taking the love of my life with it? What if she’s stuck in Tucson, unwilling or unable to escape when the taps run dry at the gas stations and, more importantly, in her rental house?

There's still work to do

Yes, the recession is ending, but there is much work to be done in finance, alternative energy and transportation to ensure the recovery is long-lasting.

Credit-wary investors put green projects in red

Green projects, which have become the buzzword in the past few years, are not only currently struggling for financing, the sense of urgency in pursuing them has also been affected considerably.

Due to the distressed financial market conditions, the flow of equity and debt investment into renewable energy projects has been disrupted since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Enabling Wind, Sun To Be Our Main Power Supplies: Quest for Storage -- "Holy Grail" of New Energy Economy -- Nears Goal

The flaw in the nuclear path, beyond its tremendous cost, long lead times, and imported fuel, is that nuclear is not actually "dispatchable" power. Nuclear plants are designed to run all the time at fairly steady output -- meaning nuclear power cannot provide the "peaking power" now provided by gas turbines. Thus, a nuclear path would still rely heavily on fossil fuel power plants to "ramp up" on a daily basis to provide the power needed during these daily swings.

A truly dispatchable system providing over 80% reductions in carbon emissions, therefore, must rely on some form of energy storage. The energy storage can allow us to fully utilize wind and sunlight as our main power sources -- supplying both "base load" power and dispatchable daily peaking power with energy from these inexhaustible supplies.

As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods.

That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells.

US Miner Digging for ‘Rare Earth’ Metals To Fuel the Boom in Green Technologies

The future of wind farms and hybrid cars may well hinge on what happens to a 22.3-hectare hole in the ground at the edge of California’s high desert.

The open-pit mine at Mountain Pass, California, holds the world’s richest proven reserve of “rare earth” metals, a family of minerals vital to producing the powerful, lightweight magnets used in the engines of Toyota’s Prius and other hybrid vehicles, as well as generators in wind turbines.

Powerful Ideas: Bacteria Clean Sewage and Create Electricity

Batteries made with microbes could help generate power by cleaning up organic waste at the same time.

Sewage is loaded with energy-rich sugars that researchers have struggled for years to convert into useful power. To do so, investigators have experimented with nature's experts on breaking down waste — bacteria.

Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label

Builders covet LEED certification — it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — as a way to gain tax credits, attract tenants, charge premium rents and project an image of environmental responsibility. But the gap between design and construction, which LEED certifies, and how some buildings actually perform led the program last week to announce that it would begin collecting information about energy use from all the buildings it certifies.

Going, going Do I hear 450? 350?

When the Industrial Revolution started, the atmosphere of our home planet had a carbon dioxide concentration of roughly 280 parts per million. That has, of course, increased. We're now at about 385 parts per million.

The big question is: How high can we go before things get really, really bad? Before things are irreversible?

There won't be any separate peace

Last week the Oil Drum featured an article about the very wealthy making preparations for whatever catastrophe the post-peak future has in stock. Many commentators have pointed out that mercenaries understand very quickly there is more money to be had by cutting their rich but helpless employers' throat than by defending them. The very fact than some people – including a few billionaires, apparently – believe a doomsday gated community is a viable response to peak energy speaks volumes about the preconceptions and fantasies which stand in the way of a successful adaptation to the changes peak oil heralds.

Daniel Yergin: Why Oil Still Has a Future

Why this debate about the single most important source of energy—and a very convenient one—that provides 40% of the world's total energy? There are the traditional concerns—energy security, diversification, political risk, and the potential for conflict among nations over resources. The huge shifts in global income flows raise anxieties about the possible impact on the global balance of power. Some worry that physical supply will run out, although examination of the world's resource base—including a new analysis of over 800 oil fields—shows ample physical resources below ground. The politics above ground is a separate question.

The Four-Day Workweek Is Winning Fans

After 12 months, Utah's experiment has been deemed so successful that a new acronym could catch on: TGIT (thank God it's Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in gasoline costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state's greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. And perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of state workers say they want to keep the new schedule.

Kuwaiti official: OPEC output cuts are unlikely

KUWAIT CITY - OPEC is unlikely to announce a new production cut during its meeting next week, a senior Kuwaiti oil official said in remarks published Sunday.

Imad al-Atiqi, a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council, told the Al-Seyassah daily newspaper that oil prices were stable. Oil ministers from the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will instead focus on compliance with current output quotas, he said.

Adnoc Reduces October Term Crude Oil Supply by 15% on OPEC Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will cut crude oil supply under term contracts by 15 percent in October, after reductions of 19 percent in September and August, the United Arab Emirates state-owned company said.

The cuts will apply to Murban, Lower Zakum, Umm Shaif and Upper Zakum, the four export grades supplied by Adnoc, as the company is known. July shipments were lowered by 18 percent.

Revealed: how Shell won the fight for Libyan gas and oil

At least a dozen meetings - and possible more than double this number - were held in Tripoli and London between major Foreign Office officials and Shell top brass with Libya's energy on the agenda. David Miliband and even Lord Kinnock discussed Shell's business in the region and helped promote the UK's wider energy agenda.

The Shell deal did not go down well with US rivals who felt barred from contact with Libya. ExxonMobil had particular reason to be miffed because the Texan giant used to run the Marsa el-Brega LNG facility in the 1960s and 1970s.

Bulgaria to Dissolve Energy Group, List Companies, Djankov Says

(Bloomberg) -- Bulgaria will disband Bulgarian Energy Holding, which groups the main state-run energy utilities, and sell shares in National Electricity Co. EAD and Bulgargaz as part of a plan to cut budget deficits.

US dollars and the tyranny of oil

Recessions can be a good thing — they wring the excesses out of the economy and focus people's attention on public policy mistakes that often are the root causes of investment bubbles. Many people thought that this particular recession would offer another kind of benefit. By bringing oil prices back to earth, it was supposed to debilitate the autocracies, from Russia to Iran to Venezuela, that depend on them. This has not happened. Oil prices dropped 80 percent in the early stages of the recession, but had climbed back to $70 a barrel by June. Their sails have since lost a bit of wind, but the prospects, even if the recession lasts long, point to sustained high prices.

Nippon Oil, Idemitsu, Cosmo Halt Waterborne Shipments on Storm

(Bloomberg) -- Nippon Oil Corp., the nation’s largest oil refiner, Idemitsu Kosan Co. and Cosmo Oil Co. halted shipments by sea from refineries near Tokyo as Tropical Storm Krovanh increased its strength.

Pressuring Iran on Nukes: Would a Gas Embargo Help?

While the Obama Administration may think that a gasoline embargo, even a partial one, would pressure the Iranian regime to suspend its nuclear activities, Tehran may be hoping for just that sanction to help it with one of its longtime goals: reducing gasoline consumption. Indeed, the Iranian government, which has been subsidizing pump prices for years and keeping them well below the international market price (at a huge burden to the national budget), would love the U.S. to take the political hit for helping to end the subsidies.

Shipping Rates Seen Falling 50% on China, Fleet Size

(Bloomberg) -- Just as global trade starts to recover, the shipping market is crashing for the second time in a year as China reduces raw-material imports and record numbers of new vessels set sail.

The rate for leasing capesize ships, boats three times the size of the Statue of Liberty, will drop about 50 percent from the current price of $37,865 a day to as low as $18,000 before the end of the year, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts and fund managers. Forward freight agreements traded by brokers show the fourth-quarter average price will be 7 percent lower.

Nigerian Second-Quarter Oil Output Drops to 1.7 Million Barrels

(Bloomberg) -- Oil production in Nigeria, which vies with Angola as Africa’s biggest producer, fell to 1.7 million barrels per day in the second quarter from 1.78 million barrels in the first quarter.

Lula Presents Pre-Salt Plan; to Create Company Called Petrosal

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva today presents new oil exploration rules to officials as his government seeks to increase control over pre- salt fields that may more than double the country’s reserves.

The proposal, scheduled to be shown to state governors, mayors, artists and athletes in Brasilia today and sent to congress, will include the creation of a new state company called Petrosal, Energy Minister Edison Lobao said today.

Oilfield Services Company Buys Rival for $5.5 Billion

HOUSTON (AP) — The oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Monday that it would buy a rival, BJ Services Company, in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $5.5 billion that the company said would allow it to expand internationally and compete for projects with companies engaged in all phases of the oil business.

Shell Starts Building First Russian Lubricants Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc started construction of its first lubricants plant in Russia as Europe’s largest oil company seeks to build on an increase in country sales last year.

Lotos, Orlen Say Profit Fell on Refining Margins

(Bloomberg) -- PKN Orlen SA, Poland’s biggest oil refiner, said second-quarter net income declined 33 percent as an economic slowdown hurt refinery output and margins.

Orlen and No. 2 refiner Grupa Lotos SA beat analyst estimates, helped by gains on foreign currency as the zloty strengthened in the quarter and gains on the value of oil in their tanks.

Battle lines on energy emerge

Groups on both sides of the energy and climate legislation "are not just watching health care closely, but calibrating how we go about doing this based on what we see happening out there," said Matt Bennett, vice president for public affairs at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank engaged in both the health care and climate fights.

Supporters of the climate bill are particularly intent on avoiding what some see as the Obama administration's biggest stumble in the health care debate: its failure to convince voters, particularly middle-class workers, that the legislation would tangibly improve their lives.

Societe Generale Expects to Double Commodity Financing Business

(Bloomberg) -- Societe Generale SA, France’s second largest bank by market value, expects to double the size of its commodity trade financing business in Asia next year on the region’s appetite for oil and metals, company officials said.

A good chance to sidetrack high-speed rail boondoggle

OFTEN THERE IS a wide gap separating a concept from reality. Such is the case with California's high-speed rail project. Conceptually, fast, comfortable, fuel-efficient, intercity, passenger rail transportation makes a lot of sense as fuel prices rise and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are mandated.

However, there are a number of inconvenient realities that come between California's dream of high-speed rail service and actually constructing it.

$1 million prize will fuel cleaner stoves for poor

A Colorado group concerned that wasteful wood burning by the world's poor could doom efforts to slow global warming has won a $1 million prize for its work distributing tens of thousands of high-efficiency cook stoves.

UN seeks better data on hurricanes, droughts

GENEVA – The United Nations opened talks Monday on setting up a better weather surveillance system worldwide so all nations can get earlier, more accurate warnings about hurricanes, droughts and floods.

Delta levee projects must now prepare for rising sea level

Levee projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will have to account for rising sea levels under a new federal policy aimed at shoring up the region's main line of defense against climate change.

It's the first comprehensive policy by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require that projects under its jurisdiction be designed with higher sea levels in mind.

Japan Carmakers, Utilities Say DPJ Carbon Plan May Not Work

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s carmakers led by Toyota Motor Corp., refiners and utilities said carbon-emission targets set by the Democratic Party of Japan may hurt their industries.

The DPJ, which swept to power yesterday, promised during the election that it would cut the country’s carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared with the level of 1990. Japan is the world’s fourth-largest energy user.

Are climate change deniers like creationists?

If the Chamber is indeed taking a shot at creationism, they’re probably alienating many core supporters.

UGANDA: Carbon Trading Scheme Pushing People off Their Land

MOUNT ELGON, Uganda (IPS) - With the world’s attention focused on climate change, one of the methods suggested to reduce global carbon emissions is causing the displacement of indigenous persons as western companies rush to invest in tree-planting projects in developing countries.

Australia: Companies 'may have lied' over emissions trading

The Greens say they want the Senate Privileges Committee to investigate whether a number of companies gave misleading evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the Government's emissions-trading scheme.

New Zealand: Transport Minister shuts door on reducing carbon

The Government has rejected one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing New Zealand's carbon emissions, the Green Party said today.

“Stephen Joyce's announcement that work will stop on fuel economy standards for vehicles coming into New Zealand condemns motorists to high fuel costs and rising emissions," Jeanette Fitzsimons, Spokesperson on climate change and transport, said.

Acclimatise report finds few energy companies prepared for global warming

Energy firms worldwide over are increasingly aware of the threat posed to their business by global warming, but few are actively preparing for the likely impact of rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather.

Why emission trading schemes are not the answer - a left critique

Direct regulation is the only answer. Imagine if we had introduced a CFC emission trading scheme when faced with the threat to the ozone layer. Does anyone seriously think that we would have seen worldwide cessation of the use of chlorofluorocarbons?

What about when we wanted to remove lead from petrol, would a lead trading system have reduced lead in petrol?

Shanghai Leads Market Sell-Off

The Shanghai composite index plunged 6.75 percent to close out August with a drop of 21.8 percent, the worst performance for the month among the world’s major exchanges.
Monday’s fall, coupled with a drop of nearly 3 percent on Friday, has made for “a huge, huge decline,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist at SJS Markets in Hong Kong.

6.75 percent in one day and 21.8 percent for the month of August. This is big, the Chinese market is starting to collapse. I suppose a lot of people have finally figured out that the Chinese recovery was phony, supported by government stimulus as well as fudging the numbers about Chinese consumption.

This could signal a total Chinese market meltdown, and if that is the case, a US market meltdown would likely be soon to follow.

Ron P.

Is that what's up (or down) with the price of oil?

I'm looking at our Yahoo sidebar and it's showing a bit of a plunge...

Meanwhile, CNBC is positively giddy. They're celebrating the end of the recession with a series of specials all this month, looking back on the crisis. They're even claiming that it will be a good Christmas this year. Or at least better than last year.

And the NY Times says the taxpayers are making money on the bailout.

And the NY Times says the taxpayers are making money on the bailout.

Denninger says they are intentionally misleading us. The (Intentionally) Misleading Mainstream Media

The profits, collected from eight of the biggest banks that have fully repaid their obligations to the government, come to about $4 billion, or the equivalent of about 15 percent annually, according to calculations compiled for The New York Times.

The problem is that this "accounting" is terribly misleading. It ignores the more than $100 billion passed through AIG to Goldman Sachs and others, for example - money that is almost certain to never be recovered.

Ron P.

Too quick to judge. Check out paragraphs 3-4 from the NYT article:

These early returns are by no means a full accounting of the huge financial rescue undertaken by the federal government last year to stabilize teetering banks and other companies.

The government still faces potentially huge long-term losses from its bailouts of the insurance giant American International Group, the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the automakers General Motors and Chrysler. The Treasury Department could also take a hit from its guarantees on billions of dollars of toxic mortgages.

NYT provides the caveats early in the story, and expands on them later on. I don't think this article is misleading. More like it is Denninger who has to hit his notes again and again to keep his readership amped.

The gov't should not claim a profit on any TARP money loaned to banks.
Check back in 3 years from now to see if there was really any profit.
You cannot claim a profit on one sale, and then the rest of the year is lousy.

Again, I don't think the story is misleading. It makes very clear that the banks paying off early are likely to be the banks in the best shape. Losses are very likely in store.

Nothing really wrong with evaluating the performance of each loan, good or bad. Isn't that what lenders are supposed to do?

$4 billion is not making money on $7 trillion spent. And, that $4 billion came from Wall Street brokerages, not "banks". They just siphoned off the rest of the sucker's money to pay back the gov't.

Its like saying that we removed one small cancerous tumor from your body, but you still have a thousand more huge tumors to go.

After the Treasury gets the $7 Trillion back from the banks, then we can start to count a profit.

This looks "interesting."

Beijing's derivative default stance rattles marke

BEIJING, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A weekend report that Chinese state-owned companies will be allowed to default on commodity derivative contracts provoked anger and dismay among investment banks on Monday as they feared a damaging precedent.

China's SOE regulator, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), has told six foreign banks that SOEs reserved the right to default on contracts, Caijing magazine quoted an unnamed industry source as saying in an article published on Saturday.

Yes, very interesting.

it is exactly this sort of thing which should make us all sit up and take notice. The interconnected global market system is one big Systemic Risk. Far from difusing risk it has been shown that over-leveraged derivatives markets are actually ticking time bombs. Who's to say that this event might not trigger another explosion. No one knows.

China is obviously in trouble....

Looks like reuters has taken up the issue now as well


Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012.

Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines.

There was a report last week that China, the largest world source of rare-earth minerals, has decided to stop exporting them to world markets. They want to keep them for themselves.

Humans just keep doing what that do until war becomes the only option available.

B-b-b-b-b-b-b-but how can this be true?

I was told that Prius batteries were grown on zero-impact, organically-certified farms!

/sarcanol off

I was told that Prius batteries were grown on zero-impact, organically-certified farms!

Yes, but the fleet of spaceships that were bringing the special zero impact fertilizers from the Andromeda galaxy have been intercepted by an evil race of mutant invisible pink unicorns and it appears that the unicorns are asking for a couple of king's ransoms for it. Without this special battery growing fertilizer the entire crop of Prius batteries might be lost. Oh, woe, is the fate of the cornucopians.

Stop talking Scientology, people!

Not the batteries, rare earth magnets for electric motors. Unfortunately, motors and generators are used in a lot more equipment than just hybrid cars.

dwcal, LOL!!
Dude, were discussing fleets of spaceships and evil mutant invisible pink unicorns...
and you want to intrude with reality and remind us that we should be talking about rare earth magnets for electric motors and *NOT* batteries?! OOOKAY!

Speaking of intruding with reality, where-oh-where does demand outstrip supply on Planet Capitalism? By definition, the quantity demanded equals the quantity supplied where the two schedules cross.

Not to say that we'll be happy with what we'll be paying for neodymium, but there will nonetheless be some quantity demanded at any price, no matter how exorbitant.

Maybe "demand outstrips supply" is code for "military intervention will be cost-competitive with purchasing it."

Ummm... not the batteries?

The electric motor in Toyota's market-leading hybrid car, the Prius, requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, the key component in the alloy for permanent magnets. And each Prius battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of another rare earth, lanthanum, according to Lifton.

"The Prius automobile is the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world," he said.

NiMH batteries with long cycle life use rare earths, as do the motors.

Note that most large motors other than in hybrids run on AC. They don't need magnets, nor do they need neodymium to optimize the magnets they don't have. And the rare earths in one Prius would be enough for a zillion cell phones or the like, so I wouldn't lose too much sleep over things like that. China is not the only source, just the cheapest as with so many other things. As they say in chemistry class, rare earths are not terribly rare. It's just that they're chemically so alike that they tend to come mixed together and it's tough to refine them.

Edit: also see the article Rethin linked up above, which also says (emphasis added):

The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods.

Thanks, I missed the part about lanthanum in the NiMH batteries. If the 1.5 kWh battery in the Prius is a problem, forget about the RAV4-EV that had a NiMH battery pack almost 20 times larger. Of course, the RAV4-EV wasn't mass produced. Even the Vectrix scooter has a 3.7 kWh NiMH battery.

At least we still have AC motors without neodymium magnets.

At least REE aren't an absolute requirement for electric motors. It is just that they enable a physically small motor to have high capability. We ought to be able to design hybrid and electric vehicles w/o REE, but to the extent that the vehicle is designed around the motor, a redesign is not likely to be a simple retrofit, but a major redesign.

The 'performance' EV designs seem to use AC motors, not the heavily battery-laden DC ones.
(I believe the AC's mainly use Electromagnets, not permanent.. tell me if I'm wrong)

Check out this guy's conversion notes..


('battery laden'.. it was late.. I meant MAGNET laden, of course. Power Storage is a separate beast)

Thanks for the link. That's a beautiful job, I hope he gets the inverter problems resolved.

In a new season episode of "Yes, Prime Minister" Bernard is shocked when he finds out the PM has decided to release a convicted terrorist in exchange for oil concessions in Libya for British Petroleum.

Sir Humphrey explains to Bernard the logic of the release. The prisoner has long been know to MI5 and the National Health Service to have been suffering from terminal prostate cancer. In agreeing to the release Britain is able to deal with the looming Peak Oil situation and the rapid decline of North Sea oil production. Humphrey tells Bernard that a dead prisoner is worthless and the PM rightly got something in return for the release.

Besides keeping a high value prisoner is expensive and further National Health Service expense will avoided by the prisoner's release. Not only that the release will be popular in Libya and may lead to further drilling concessions for BP and or sales of British military hardware.

And besides if BP didn't get the rights to drill in the area, they would likely go to the Chinese and Britain would get nothing out of the deal but having to pay maintenance and health care for a terrorist. Sir Humphrey advises the PM to spin the release as an act of mercy. Bernard is appalled.


But if the PM didn't release the prisoner, there is a chance he might live long enough to hear his appeal against conviction, which has been allowed to advance on six separate grounds, any one of which migh prove that he was an innocent man framed for a crime he didn'tr commit, ironically in exchange for dropping sanctions against Libya, which prevented UK companies from bidding for a previous round of oil rights.

Re: Are climate change deniers like creationists?

This article in the Christian Science Monitor lays out some of the connections between the prominent members of the denialist camp and the so-called "creation science" efforts. A good article for whose who are not aware of that connection.

The article didn't mention that Roy Spencer's protégé, John Christy, began his professional life as a Baptist preacher and missionary to Kenya before returning to college to gain degrees in Atmospheric Science. Christy then move on to UAH, where he worked with Spencer at NASA Huntsville. Christy and Spencer produced the MSU/AMSU analysis which they call "temperature" of the Earth and which has appeared repeatedly in denialist claims. Christy still teaches Sunday school at his Baptist church.


E. Swanson

Christy could do more good if he went back to Kenya; things are going downhill very fast there.

Chevron now has a video, implicating that judge in a bribery scheme in the Ecuador trial I talked about here.

Videos Reveal Serious Judicial Misconduct and Political Influence in Ecuador Lawsuit

In the videos, the judge confirms that he will rule against Chevron and that appeals by the energy company will be denied — even though the trial is ongoing and evidence is still being received. A purported party official also states that lawyers from the executive branch have been sent to assist the judge in writing the decision.

The recorded meetings also show an individual who claims to be a representative of Ecuador's ruling political party, Alianza PAIS, seeking $3 million in bribes in return for handing out environmental remediation contracts to two businessmen after the verdict is handed down. Of that sum, he said $1 million would go to Judge Juan Núñez, $1 million would go to "the presidency" and $1 million to the plaintiffs.

The related video can be found here. Transcripts can be found here.

How do you know that this video wasn't produced by the veterans of the swift-boating of John Kerry campaign,or some of their ilk?

Your willingness to post this kind of material makes me rather dubious about your independence as an 'editor', I'm sorry to say.

Toil, you are way off base here. This story is not remotley related to the swift boating incident. The video shows the judge discussing a bribe and saying how he would handle appeals. And you dare compare this with the swift boat incident?

Just where the hell do you get off?

Ron P., a card carrying liberal an strong Kerry supporter during his presidential campaign.

Ron, the point is about the constitution of accurate and valid information. We live in the era of easily manufactured electronic evidence. Manipulation and distortion are some people's bread and butter. And others are only to ready to pay the bill.

I get off on integrity, if you really want to know. It is an unhappy situation for me when someone's actions make it impossible for me to reconcile their intelligence with their integrity.

I agree. You're way off base impugning Gail no matter what your commitment is.

Ron, the point is about the constitution of accurate and valid information

Great! Lets find some.

We live in the era of easily manufactured electronic evidence.

If its 'manufactured' then how can it be 'evidence of truth'?

Manipulation and distortion are some people's bread and butter

And how do "we" know that you aren't being paid to do that?

If "we" don't see something with our own eyes, hear it with our own ears - how do "we" know that is what happened? And even then, do "we" "know" that what we "observered" is the truth?

I get off on integrity, if you really want to know


Looking at both sides of the issue. Video

Chevron Texaco Ecuador Lawsuit - Behind the Scenes

Now attack me for posting both sides of the issue, I don't really care.

Ron P.

Ron, do you really know if that is truthful?

In that video it states that Chevron is being prosecuted under the 1999 environmental law while from this website it states:

Chevron is being sued under a new law enacted in 1999 with the assistance of U.S. trial lawyers. This is false. The substantive claims against Chevron have nothing to do with the 1999 environmental law, which was passed after a multi-year debate in Ecuadorian society in which dozens of organizations and interest groups participated. The claims in the lawsuit are based on Ecuadorian civil code articles 1453 and 2214, which date to 1861 and provide any individual with the right to seek compensation for illegal or tortious acts.

It doesn't really matter to me but the Chevron propaganda stuff seems like your typical campaign of misinformation.

I am not sympathetic to the oil cos nor the US govt activities and role in Latin America. Nor do I know why Gail is caught up in this issue. But I do not agree with questioning her integrity. She laid out her cards when the issue first came up. She has played and continues to play an invaluable role here at TOD. Nobody (excepting moi of course) is perfect.

We're all over the map in our sympathies here. We need to keep it civil.

EDIT: I have nothing to say on the issue itself except to say that the US and its corporations have an extremely long history of exploiting LA, of overthrowing gov'ts, assassinations, destabilizations, and so on, breaking every law in the book. But it's not the mission of this site to delve very far into all that. But a short googling excursion can quickly verify what I've just said.

It's hard to feel too sorry for Chevron, since they're the ones who insisted the trial be moved to Ecuador, even submitting affidavits attesting to the transparency and fairness of the Ecuadorean court system. I can't help wondering if they saw bribeable judges as a feature, not a bug.

The most interesting thing about this case, IMO, is that it's making corporations think twice about their knee-jerk attempts to move court cases overseas.

Chevron transferred the case overseas when the government was less corrupt than now. Situations change. It is hard to see that anyone looking at the facts of the case would characterize the current situation as a fair trial.

They should have known. Of course situations change. (I was five, the first time I was kicked out of a South American country when the situation changed.) It's part of the risk you take.

I don't have much sympathy for the oil companies who get nationalized, either. You know that's a risk going in.

Well, let me suggest another reason for moving the trial to Ecuador. Chevron may have known that the courts in Ecuador were corrupt, and that they would lose. They probably gambled that they could get proof of that corruption, and of course they did. Now jump ahead to the point where they lose the case in Ecuador. They say: The judge was crooked and bribed. We have it on video so we are not going to pay.

And since Chevron no longer has any assets in Ecuador, there is nothing the plaintiffs can do but sue in US courts for non payment of a verdict in Ecuador. With the video of the judge accepting bribes and the plaintiffs discussing this bribe, Chevron wins hands down.

Ron P.

It's still sweet irony to hear a US oil major whining about corruption in a Latin American government. Sort of like Gold-in-Sacks complaining about market manipulation in the VW/Porsche short squeeze.

Not so much fun being on the sharp end this time, eh boys?

Gee, and the Heartland Institute has scientists that have proven that humans are not altering the climate.
After the fluff over your last bit of Chevron propaganda I thought you would lay off this stuff.

I examine both sides of stories, and write what I believe to be true, regardless of what is popular with readers. The current video is further confirmation that the whole case is rigged.

I think my approach shows a whole lot more integrity than picking the--green / liberal / popular with Oil Drum readers--side of every story, and going with it.

Who paid for your trip to Ecuador? Who showed you around? Who provided you with information?

Look, enough of this crap! There is no need to attack Gail for simply reporting both sides of the story. We all know that the folks at Chevron put profits way ahead of the environment but a person would have to be down in the dirt dumb to not know that the officials in Ecuador are not all crooked as snakes. Why are you, and others, attacking her for simply reporting the facts?

Ron P.


Enough!! I would have heard only one side of this story if Gail had not reported the other side,and her work over the long haul speaks for itself.

I have lived in close contact with scumbags and sleazeballs and can say with some certainty that they do on many occasions tell the truth.

Insisting that chevron is in the wrong and refuseing to admit the possibility that the company is the victim rather than the perp reveals one either a bone head anti business bias or two a very limited knowledge of the state of politics south of the border.

..refuseing to admit the possibility that the company is the victim rather than the perp..

Chevron had no business being down in Ecuador destroying the rainforest and trampling the rights of aboriginal peoples for the sake of corporate profit. They may very well be having this case tried by a corrupt judge but if so it only serves them right. The corporate leadership of these multinational energy companies should be on trial in the Hague for human & environmental rights violations and upon conviction, they should be hung by their necks until dead. They are no better than the Nazi war criminals who were tired, convicted and hung. Worse, rather, for it is everyone and everything they harm, not just certain ethnic or religious minorities.

It may be poetic justice, but that doesn't necessarily make it right.


Actually when this whole subject first came up here,I remarked iirc that I would bet that the company is guilty.

I will remind you that unless you wish to live in a world run by nazis or worse every body is entitled to thier day in court and to have thier side of the story told.
The world is a darwinian place and I have no sympathy for busted investors in corporations,or oil companies that are nationalized,all that is part of the way mother nature plays the game.

I am sympathetic to the plight of the locals and agree with you in most respects,but you can't just go around chopping heads off indiscriminately,at least not if you wish to gain the attention and respect of the general public.

You apparently know a lot of biology,probably more than I do.

You should know that deception for gain is a time honored strategy employed by our species from well before the beginning of the corporate age.

Every cop knows that there are three sides to every story,his side ,her side, and maybe a third side referred to as the truth.

If the Oil Drum does not deal with issues such as this one fairly and impartially,the site will lack credibility in the eyes of many people who may not have yet made thier mind up about the larger issues such as depletion,etc.

f the Oil Drum does not deal with issues such as this one fairly and impartially,the site will lack credibility in the eyes of many people who may not have yet made thier mind up about the larger issues such as depletion,etc.

There are two problems here. The first problem is that there are two Gails -- one is a TOD editor, the other is a TOD commenter. Now there is no wall between these two roles. But I think that we have to regard Gail's posting(s) on Chevron as more on the comment side. There wouldn't be such a tizzy if she weren't an editor. But the editors here have never disavowed their right to dive right in, and why should they.

The second problem is that this issue is off to one side of the central focus of this site. And there's nothing wrong with that either -- many a side trip has been taken, by many a commenter and by all the editors at one point or another.

So none of this a threat to TOD's crediblity so long as everyone is open about where they are coming from -- and they are so far as I can see. And I say all this despite disagreeing with Gail on the issue itself. Temptest in teapot.

Wow. I've never seen so many people on TOD be off base all-at-once. Just one more point in Chevron's favor: They didn't do anything in Ecuador except buy Texaco, the company that made the mess in cooperation with the Ecuadorean national oil company.

I guess that makes me an evil cornucopian.

So Chevron resumes all assets in the purchase of Texaco but none of the liabilities. That viewpoint is not cornucopian (fyi, defined as an inexhaustable store) but I can think of some other words to aptly describe it.

I think the point, Gail, is that the video is a video. It is not confirmation of anything. It may be introduced at some in a legal proceeding and it will then be up to a court to judge its accuracy and so on.

Your credibility is further eroded by your unsubstantiated claim that the current government is more corrupt than the previous. What is the basis of this assertion? Some data from a reputable source?

I am saddened that you appear unable to see the mistake you are making here and the harm it does to the credibility of The Oil Drum, given your position as an editor.

Toil, you are blowing smoke. Gail's credability is enhanced, not damaged, by giving both sides of the story. Video's are introduced every day in every court in the land. They are the strongest evidence possible because they have the guilty party's face and voice concocting his evil deeds. And videos used in trials very often come out before the trial. We had a double murder here in Pensacola a month or so back. The home attacked had survalience cameras everywhere. They have played dozens of times on TV since then.

The credability of TOD is higher than ever but it is damaged somewhat by posters who use dubious arguments to attack another's credability rather than his/her argument. And when you attack the person rather than the argument you know very well what you are doing. It is called an ad hominem attack.

Ron P.

Ron, videos are also thrown out of court. Send me an electronic image of yourself and I could publish an utterly convincing video of you engaged in unholy acts with the animal of your choice.

But this is only partially the point. What is an editor of The Oil Drum doing posting press releases from Chevron, press releases which are clearly meant to manipulate opinion? Why is she making claims about the relative degree of corruption in that country today vs the past?

This discussion did not begin with an impartial presentation of both sides of 'the story'. It began with a message that Chevron wants people to take home.

If Gail were not an editor of The Oil Drum, then I would have looked at the post, muttered something about corporate propaganda, maybe true maybe not, and moved on. But she is an editor and unless I see some sign that she is aware of the mistake she has made, then I will consider her discredited.

I will of course continue to read The Oil Drum as long as Leanan and Nate in particular, and many others no doubt, maintain its overall quality.

The Oil Drum doing posting press releases from Chevron, press releases which are clearly meant to manipulate opinion?

Toil, press releaces are posted every day, here and on most every other blog on the net. And all press releases are meant to manipulate opinion, that's why they issue them. But don't you think she would have posted a press release from Equador if she had one to post? Of course she would have. Getting your panties in a wad because someone posts a press release is just silly.

The editors of TOD often post personal opinions and there is nothing wrong with that. Read the newspaper, the editors post their opinion there every day. They are called Editorials! That means in the opinion of the editor. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with an editor expressing an opinion. Every editor does it here at TOD and the list would be poorer if they did not. Both Leanan and Nate do it on a regurlar basis. You are just pissed because one editor's opinion disagrees with your own.

I will of course continue to read The Oil Drum as long as Leanan and Nate in particular, and many others no doubt, maintain its overall quality.

The quality of the list is damaged most by people hurling silly insults at editors with whom they disagree. It says something about you Toil, that you choose to insult a person rather than debate the merits of their argument. And what it says is not very nice.

Ron P.

Darwinian -

No, I am NOT sure that Gail would have posted a press release from the government of Ecuador if she had one to post. The reason I say that is that everything Gail has posted here regarding the Chevron-Ecuador struggle has clearly been in the Chevron camp. It is almost as though Chevron now has a conduit for getting its 'message' presented on The Oil Drum.

While of course everyone is entitle to his/her opinion, I think you fail to make a distinction between reporting and editorializing. It is perfectly permissible for an editor to hold the most partisan and slanted viewpoints as long as they are confined to an editorial .... after all, that's what an editorial is for. However, when those same partisan and slanted viewpoints determine what is and is not reported and the manner in which that material is reported, then I think the editor can find him/herself on shaky ground.

Having said that, as far as this whole dreary Chevron-Ecuador thing is concerned, I don't care much one way or the other which of the combatants eventually prevails. As they say in other parts of the country: I don't have a dog in that fight. However, it appears that some people around here do.

It is perfectly permissible for an editor to hold the most partisan and slanted viewpoints as long as they are confined to an editorial ....

Are you serious? Almost every post posted on TOD is an opinion, whether it is posted by one of the editors or anyone else. And they never say; "This is an editorial". Why should they because we know it is an opinion.

I think it is absolutely silly to get upset because Gail may have an opinion and post that opinion. Leanan does the same, Nate does the same, and Professor Goose does the same and all the TOD Europe, Australia, Campfire editors do the same.

What is upsetting you is that Gail's opinion may differ from yours. So you cry "foul" to the top of the lungs. People are going to disagree with you Joule, and Toil, so get used to it. People disagree with me all the time. And I try to give them one hell of an argument in return. But I never cry "foul, you are an editor and are not suppose to express an opinion.

Several months back Leanan and I had a couple of knock down drag out arguments. But it would have been petty of me if I had cried foul and stated she had no right to express an opinion that disagreed with mine because she was an editor. It just never occurred to me to do such a silly thing.

Ron P.

Darwinian -

As I said, I don't really care who comes out on top regarding this Chevron-Ecuador struggle. Whatever the outcome is, it will just mean that money will either flow from A to B or from B to A. Makes no difference to me.

However, what I DO find more than a bit disturbing is the prospect of a huge corporation such as Chevron feeling that they can get their message published on a supposedly independent website such as The Oil Drum by inviting teams of journalists on an all-expense paid PR junket. Personally, if I were an editor of the Oil Drum, I would be very hesitant to accept such an invitation. And if I did, I would insist on paying my own way. And if I couldn't afford to do so, I would decline.

I have spent many years in the environmental field and have evaluated many commercial hazardous waste disposal facilities. I can tell you straight away that if you just depend on the tour guide taking you on the pre-packaged facility tour, you will be shown everything good and nothing bad and you will learn next to nothing. If you want to find out what's really going on, you have to spend several days doing a detailed investigation. That's the difference between an evaluation and a tour.

I have absolutely no objection as to whether or not Gail has a pro- energy company bias. That is her opinion and none of my business. But I have a good deal of antipathy about what are essentially corporate PR releases being disguised as independent reporting. And that is the danger with this sort of thing.

I'm totally with Toilforoil on this one.

It has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing. It has nothing to do with the content of the information. It's where it came from, how it's presented, who had access (and who didn't).

Editors REALLY REALLY shouldn't go there.

You are dead wrong on this one surfer. Every post on this lise is an opinion unless it is just a link and a blockquote. This list would be a lot poorer if the editors stopped posting.

It is utterly silly to try to stop editors from posting opinions just because they are editors.

Ron P.

The Swiftboaters For Truth (back at the beginning of this little discussion) expressed their opinion that John Kerry wasn't fit to be president. Fine. Free speech and all.

However: Their opinion was amplified by the media, and differing points of view (or counterpoints to their, quite possibly, inaccurate information) were not equally/fairly similarly amplified and disseminated, and we ended up with a chimp being reelected as president.

That's the point. Opinions are fine.

It's all about how those opinions are, or aren't, fairly disseminated. And whose information is available in the forming of opinions. Chevron's megaphone is a bit outsized. As an Editor at the TOD, Gail (and I really didn't want to make this personal) ought not further aid Chevron in making their case, to the detriment of other involved parties.

I really like this, opinions are fine as long as they agree with your own. Right Surf and Toil. You both forget that promotion of a certain view point is not just one way. Both sides do it and it appears that in your minds, your side is not represented.
As to Gail not saying anything so as to present some kind of bias. So what, according to you any person in government that sponsors a bill or law should not say a word about it. Otherwise it might anger some people due to that person being biased towards that bill or law. DUH
So instead of attacking Gail, come up with some info on your own. A discussion and a debate is exactly what it implies. Discuss view points and debate with FACTS from both sides.

Thank you Ron. I read TOD every day and I greatly respect Gail and your posts.

I trust Gail far more than some of the other posters.

So many people so far out of line. Most of the negative comments here are every bit as pre-programmed as the judge, yet you must wonder to who they've sold out their objectivity? Do you ever stop and think why you're hot-buttons are programmed like they are, to be hyper-critical, hateful, and partisan to boot?

As time goes on, more information will come out. Posting the story is absolutely the right action, as daylight scares cockroaches and every opportunity should be taken to "out" such crooks. If nothing else, the judge has a commitment to the society he serves, whereas Chevron is a souless machine designed to make money, so the judge has fallen further.

As for Gail, I appreciate every bit of her research and insight, and welcome her contributions. I hope the rest of you do even 1% as much as she does with your time....and denigrating good-faith efforts for the public good starts you off way below zero with me.


There is of course no evidence, as pointed out in the New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/world/americas/01ecuador.html?_r=1&hpw of any corruption on the judge's part.

But don't let facts get in your way, Paleocon. They haven't yet.

Even if you have a useful point to make about who posts what, EG, how site-editors set their boundaries etc.. You have been expressing your views with a flamethrower. Snippy Insinuations, Putdowns and Namecalling.

That is probably the key reason there has been so much vitriol pushing back at your post.

Naturally, it does more to make your own cred doubtful than Gail's or anyone else's. But moreover, it helps make this into 'YET ANOTHER JUVENILE INTERNET RANT SITE'

Please raise the bar..

Companies 'may have lied' over emissions tradingGet outta here! :o

The Four-Day Workweek Is Winning FansI love my four-day workweek. I still do the same number of hours each week, but I have an extra day to myself (I typically sleep most of the first day off, to recover). It also reduces my transportation costs (not such a big deal for me, since I live close to work, but for those who live further out, it could be a big deal). Now, if only I got paid the extra hours I do during those four days...

Re: Save the Light Bulb!
Compact fluorescents don't produce good quality light.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Other countries around the world have passed similar legislation to ban most incandescents.

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good.

See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020370660457437717105064733...

Mr. Brandston knows, or should know, that high efficiency incandescent and halogen lamps that are currently sold at big box retailers (and soon to be sold everywhere else) meet or exceed the new minimum standards set forth in this Act. Lamp manufacturers are busy retooling their products; for example, a grossly inefficient lamp such as 65-watt BR will be fitted with an inner halogen capsule as opposed to a standard incandescent filament -- the same physical outer package, the same (or better) light quality and light output, but one-third fewer watts and a longer service life.

To call Mr. Brandston an idiot would be impolite, but it's fair to say he's ill-informed.

N.B.: Home Depot sells the Philips Halogena ES line of high efficiency incandescents (I've used them on various commercial jobs where dimming is required and they're excellent performers). Next month, Osram Sylvania will be launching a comparable incandescent product that will be carried by Lowes. Expect GE and the others to follow shortly.

Edit: Unlike Mr. Brandston, KJ Collins knows of what she speaks.

See: http://www.examiner.com/x-17018-Environmental-Headlines-Examiner~y2009m8...


Rising efficiencies is the anti-doomer story of the next two decades.

I appreciate your posts here, HinH, as well as your real-life work in the field.

A Fan.

Thanks, Ron. I was rather annoyed with the falsehoods espoused by Mr. Brandston, as well as the comments that were posted in return. I'll have to thumb through my back issues of Lighting Design + Application to be sure, but I seem to recall Mr. Brandston penned a similar letter to the editor of this publication and the response from his fellow IES members was not very sympathetic to say the least. Perhaps he believes the readers of the Wall Street Journal would be more receptive.

And you're right: we should never underestimate our ability to problem solve and to adapt to changing circumstances; the world is not static, but neither are we.


I think a key issue with alternative lighting technologies is they attempt to mash square pegs into round, E37 holes.

CFLs are superb for many uses, and the high-eff bulbs at my work place, along with some low-E glazing on the windows, provide plenty of light and a long, useful life.

But some of the others I've tried at home, where they flicked on and off moments at a time in the laundry room or bathroom, have been dismal failures. Some come on dim, and you're done with your task before the light is good enough to do it. Others have a delay that is noticeable and irritating. Almost all fail rapidly in this fast-cycle use. Most don't work with current dimmers and some occupancy detectors. Admittedly I have yet to evaluate every bulb offering, but it is clear that "go to the store and grab any 4-pack of bulbs" is no longer a worthwhile paradigm.

I find LEDs to be a far better basic technology, but they're expensive, and only the best of the best are "adequate". Even for those, the existing fixtures are far from optimal. Most concentrate heat, reducing LED lives (ICs don't care -- don't know about CFLs but the integrated ballasts seem to cook in some too). Many also waste most of the light, and use low-eff reflectors to save a bit of light, but they skewer the effectiveness of directed beams of LED lamps.

I think it's time for a fixture paradigm change. It would not be hard at all to engineer new fixtures that offered a clear heat-chimney to cool LEDs, that oriented the emitters in useful directions, and that coupled the LEDs firmly to heat sinks (metal, glass, or both), and which included not only robust control electronics but auto-dimmers (to harvest ambient light) and integrated light-level options (modest for everyday use, high light for cleaning or when looking for dropped items). Integrated occupancy sensors would make sense too -- when you're paying $40 for the lighting element (rather than $1 for IC bulbs) it makes sense to spend another $2 or $3 to use it optimally. Of course such "smarts" would save you even more with IC, but until interest rates jump up along with electricity costs the ROI won't be so in-your-face obvious.

The difference is that such a novel fixture would have no standard base, and likely would have no replaceable parts at all -- you'd use it until is died, and then any repair would be more depot-level than user. Since it would last 50,000 hours of use, such failures would be rare, and you'd consider fixture replacement at the same time as a re-model.

Shameless pitch -- I'm still 100% happy with my CREE LR-6 floodlights, and almost happy with Zetalux and Evolux bulbs for a limited range of E37 standard bulb replacements.

I'll let you know how my experiments on customizing some fixtures go.

I agree with you on CFLs. Been using them for a long time, and still don't like them. Don't think they're worth the money. I still use them because they're supposed to be better for the environment, but I hate them.

I signed up early for CFLs and signed off early. The first batch I bought were expensive and not a single one of them lasted a full year.

Then I realized that they are ALL made in China, while the incadescents are all made in the USA. So buy a CFL move a job to China.

Then there's the mercury issue. Every failed bulb puts a little more mercury in the environment. (Yeah, yeah, I know, chase down a recycler somewhere and try to talk him into taking the damn thing.)

Yeah, I started using CFL's many years ago when they were $12 to $13 each for a 100 Watt equivalent. Some seemed to last forever, while some only lasted a year or so. Now my entire house is completely CFL. I truly believe it is one thing that keeps the electric bill way down including turning them off when leaving the room. Mercury aside, I believe they are a wise investment $$$$ wise and energy wise. The first CFL's I purchased were not due some grandiose vision to save the world, but save alot of money over the long term and save the world a teenie weenie bit.

I started using CFLs when only pot growers and specialty fishtank keepers used them. (I was the latter.)

The color isn't the major problem for me. I don't like it, but I can live with it. Ditto the fact that they start out so dim (after being blindingly bright the first week or so). What bugs me is that they don't seem to last very long. I find myself changing bulbs as often as with incandescents, and given the price difference, it kinda sucks.

I think many fish-tank owners are transitioning to LEDs. At least, I know engineers who are doing so with their tanks.

If I could do it over, I would probably use regular fluorescent bulbs, problematic as they are.

Still using CFLs, though, because the fixtures are a "sunk cost." And I'm kind of thinking this is a rather decadent hobby in the face of peak oil and climate change, and I should probably stop.

Another thing I hate about CFLs: they are more fragile. Perhaps because of the high heat they generate. If you're not very careful with them, they shatter. Not just break like incandescents. They shatter into tiny pieces, including a lot of dust. Kind of unnerving, given the mercury and all. I know it's not much, but still.

And for some of us they aren't an option at all because they hurt our eyes to use them. Literally. There's got to be something wrong with them that they literally cause physical discomfort. I assume it has something to do with the frequencies.


What bugs me is that they don't seem to last very long.

I bought several CFLs in the mid-'80s out of the "Seventh Generation" catalog and am still using them. None have burnt out yet.

..specialty fishtank keepers used them. (I was the latter.)

What kind of fish do or did you keep? If you don't mind my asking. I'm an aquarist & am interested in fish.

I think the problem may be related to my old wiring. I get voltage surges, and I think bulbs don't like it. I have UPS's on my computer and some other electronics, but that's not really an option for light fixtures.

For me, it wasn't about the fish (though I have those). The lights were for freshwater planted tanks. A la Takashi Amano. (Not that mine were ever that good.)

What beautiful tanks! Unfortunately, the catfish I keep would wreck them in no time. :)

Yes, catfish and plants can be a problem. Depending on what kind of catfish. Any fish that gets really big is not a good choice for a planted tank.

I do have a lot of loaches, including some fairly large clown loaches. They were quite destructive when I kept them in a medium light setup. They dug up and ate plants (even though they're not supposed to). In a high-light tank, it's worked well. The plants grow so fast that the loaches can't keep up with them. Plus the tank is larger (75 gallons vs. 29) , so perhaps they're less bored in there.

Try the GE 20-25 watt bulbs, you can find them at any Walmart (not sure other places they supply them, tho). They come on bright and have as good reading quality as an incandescent IMO. I have Sylvania 23 watt bulbs in most of my house for space lighting, but for reading my mom said they were "Chernobylesque". Haven't had one complaint about the GEs.

I re-lamped ~90% of my home fixtures with CFLs. Some of the bulbs take ~ 2 minutes to reach full brightness, others come on full bright within seconds.

I appreciate using only ~ 25% of the watts as incandescent lamps, and I appreciate not shedding a bunch of heat watts into my desert home.

Hopefully the current crop of CFLs will last somewhere close to their rated lives.

I find the color spectrum to be acceptable and have adapted to the warm-up time, as has my family. Anyone complains and I tell them to get a job and pay the electric bill.

I had the bucks to pay the premium, and am willing to adapt. I also can buy stock 60W-IC-equivalent CFLs for 92 cents thanks to a Public Utilities of New Mexico point-of-sale subsidy. The interior and exterior flood and spotlights, and the ceiling fan bulbs, and the skinny specialty fixture bulbs I paid full freight for, though. I am fortunate enough to, right now anyway, put my money where my mouth is.

More CFLs=less coal-fired power.

We switched to cfl early and never looked back.The ones we have now are much more pleasant and never ficker or buzz and they last so long that I generally can't say just how long, but easily well into the thousands of hours.I have one that has lasted as a porch light for over four years which is verifiable because I wrote the date of installation on the fixture.It may have over ten thousand hours on it,given the fact that it is not always turned off.

If you buy a well known brand name they are a definite bargain in terms of life cycle costs.They are lasting well over a year even in a bathroom where they are turned on and off very frequently.

As far as the very small amount of mercury is concerned it does not appear to be a significant health risk if you are willing to open a window and use towels and gloves to clean up a broken bulb.

The use of these bulbs as I understand it actually lowers the amount of mercury pollution overall by reducing coal use and it would appear that they are a big net winner,environmentally speaking.
Nearly 100 percent of the mercury in cfls will be interred in landfills whereas the mercury released from coal combustion is in every fish in every stream nowadays.

We have developed a culture of fear to such an extent that people are afraid of things that are perfectly safe,statistically speaking,while they run around either unaware of or ignoring real risks that kill thousands of people every day.

Any body who is willing to get into an automobile,drink a Pepsi,or eat a Big Mac and is worried about mercury in a cfl is in need of instruction in risk management

You can avoid accidents by staying in bed but you will die sooner from a lack of exercise.

What if OPEC were to turn round one day and say:

"We, each of our members are going to help reuce the world's CO2: we are going to cut our production by 50%"

I can't see how they can lose:

1) They extend their revenue by years.
2) They get many more $per barrel.
3) They gain international praise for their environmental concerns.
4) They extend the life of their wells at reduced flowrates.
5) They buy time to exploit newer drilling tech.

probably lots more.Surely all the world leaders would be the first to shake their hands and thank them??!!!


..and they trigger WW3

...thereby reducing human population to a more sustainable number.

LOL. So we are all agreed then that CO2 reduction isn't going to happen and we can give all of those who want to bleat on about CO2 a separate thread on AGW for them to moan.

Unless of course Shell/BP/Russia/Petrobas/pemex suddenly catch an acute sense of morality. Not.

I'm serious. I think we need another drumbeat for AGW, say "climatebeat".


And another one for biodiversity loss. The Jungle Drum?

The problem is OPEC isn't an 'it', it's a 'they'.

If OPEC really could act as a single entity it could restrict supply and accrue some of the benefits you list over the medium or long term. But in the short run, the benefits of overproducing and reaping the higher price per barrel and more barrels has been difficult to resist. Hugo Chavez still has to stand for election, after all, and Iran is always keen to check Saudi influence when it can. So the simple reason OPEC doesn't do it is because, as a practical matter, OPEC can't.

Very good point. It does make you think, maybe we all really are at the mercy of market forces and all good intention be damned.

I'll add one more Marco: 6) the US military occupies the Persian Gulf in an effort to extend democracy to the region. Increased oil production would just be a side effect, of course.

Did a thread just disappear on TOD? I have been reading and commenting all morning on a guest thread, I cannot remember the title, but it suddenly disappeared. When I tried to "back arrow" to it, I get "Premission denied". What's going on?

Ron P.

Yep, I saw that article go poof as well.

We did decide to take it down. While I put it up as sort of a discussion piece, it wasn't in some sense a "real Oil Drum post". So we decided to take it down.

A suggestion I made to the EB folks at one time: Do a Friday Favorites post. Every Friday, post a favorite story from the past, and not just TOD articles. There is a lot of good stuff out there that many recent readers have probably never seen.

Here's one for all you heretic evil deniers:


The project, known as the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, or NEEM, is being undertaken by 14 nations and is led by the University of Copenhagen. The goal is to retrieve ice from the last interglacial episode known as the Eemian Period that ended about 120,000 years ago. The period was warmer than today, with less ice in Greenland and 15-foot higher sea levels than present........................Radar measurements taken through the ice sheet from above the NEEM site indicate the Eemian ice layers below are thicker, more intact and likely contain more accurate, specific information, he said.

(Small voice in background says...but why didn't all that methane bubbling up when it was warmer than now not cause runaway GW?)

but but but "oh it's happening faster now than ever in recorded history." According to these climatoligists it's not:

Ice cores exhumed during previous drilling efforts revealed abrupt temperature spikes of more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 50 years in the Northern Hemisphere.

of course to balance it all out the southern hemisphere cooled by 20deg F also.
And just to make you deniers REALLY mad they stick in the usual unqualified caveat:

"What makes this warming trend fundamentally different from past warming events is that this one is driven by human activity and involves human responsibility, morals and ethics."

Anway as the science behind AGW and climate is settled their statement:

"Every time we drill a new ice core, we learn a lot more about how Earth's climate functions,"

is obviously nonsense becasue we already know everything and the science is all settled.



I'd like to know how they are able to drill into ice which is "120,000 years old" when the Earth was created only 4,500 years ago.

This is absurd. Anyone who believes in 'global warming', or 'climate change' or that the Earth is millions of years old needs a lobotomy.


Frontal or temporal? Hell, let's just go straight for the corpus callosum.

or the medula oblangota (probably spelled way wrong). dont forget since the climate was so warm, there probably was a huge population of Alligators. My point is resource depletion(the Alligators actually died off due to dental infections because of not enough tooth brushes).

Speaking of climate change, I just finished reading a little book called "A Geoscience Guide to the Burgess Shale".

The Burgess Shale contains the world's best known collection of fossils from the Cambrian Era, including such gems as "Hallucogenia", a fossil so weird it caused the discoverers to exclaim, "Wow, I gotta stop smokin' them funny cigarettes!", or words to that effect. But I digress.

At the back of the book it has a section on "Climate Change" which has a graph of the temperature changes over the eons. Global warming is nothing new, for instance, "The Younger Dryas cold spell of the current interglacial period brought tundra conditions back to northern Europe about 13,000 to 11,600 years ago"... "Termination of the Younger Dryas was abrupt, with temperatures rising 10°C in a decade."

Can you imagine it - you're a caveman standing around in your mammoth fur long johns, and in ten years the temperature jumps 10°C (16°F)? What can you do except strip down to a loincloth and keep on spearing mammoths? It's tough if you're a mammoth but okay if you're a caveman.

The current global warming predictions are for maybe 2°C in 100 years. Heck, that's nothing.

When the dinosaurs were running around, the temperatures were 25°C warmer than today, and the Arctic Ocean was as warm as the water off California are today. It didn't seem to bother the dinosaurs much. Particularly not the ones living in Alaska and Antarctica.

"Hallucogenia" (sic, Hallucinogenia) seemed so strange to Simon Conway Morris, who originally described it, only because he was interpreting it upside down. Properly interpreted, Hallucinogenia is seen to be an extinct genus of the extant Phylum Onychophora. Get your facts straight.

"Hallucogenia" (sic, Hallucinogenia) seemed so strange to Simon Conway Morris, who originally described it, only because he was interpreting it upside down. Properly interpreted, Hallucinogenia is seen to be an extinct genus of the extant Phylum Onychophora. Get your facts straight.

That's Hallucigenia, actually. And the affinities of the lobopods are not at all clear (especially that one) -- the only Cambrian genus that is almost certainly an onychophoran is Aysheaia. Even properly reconstructed, Hallucigenia is still pretty bizarre.

Modern onychophorans are merely a clade of so-called "lobopods" (an invalid polyphyletic taxon) that have lost the dorsal sclerita possessed by their Paleozoic precursors. The spines of Hallucigenia were modified defensive sclerita. How else do you propose it be interpreted?

I think it far more likely that modern onychophorans evolved from an Aysheaia-like precursor that already resembled the modern form--no need to presume the loss of sclerites from Hallucigenia. (Although even this scenario involves a curious twist, as the Cambrian forms are all marine and modern velvet worms are terrestrial.) Hallucigenia's legs don't particularly resemble those of onychophorans, either. It seems to me it's more likely a stem group arthropod.

Interesting perspective. The legs of whales don't particularly resemble those of other artiodactyls, either. Or those of legless skinks the appendages of their quadrupedal & pentadactyl confamilials, for that matter. But I'll concede that it's entirely possible that Hallucigenia evolved from some ecdysozoan common ancestor of onychophorans & arthropods, et al.

Ease up, man, I only got one letter wrong in "Hallucigenia" (and my spell checker is not up to handling it).

I would tend to echo the Geological Survey of Canada, "...this fossil cautions against overweening confidence of paleontologists who think they know how ancient animals lived."

No matter which way you look at it, the thing still doesn't make a great deal of sense.

It is a constant wonder to me how people that can write a grammatically correct sentence are at the same time unable to include logic with their grammar.

1. Are you a dinosaur? To extend, were you evolved to live in 120 C temps? (Hint: No.)

2. The claim that the Eemian was warmer is not supported.

3. Temperatures rose quickly. The key question is from what to what, and what were the effects? To wit: more food, less freezing. The changes coming are to temps that give us hotter summers and less food. Or are you not aware that deserts are spreading and extreme weather events increasing? Also, which do you expect to be more deeply affected by such changes, mobile hunter gatherers or stuck farmers?

4. The current predictions are A.) from hotter than at any time in human history to even hotter and B. for MORE than 2C (you are either confusing or conflating 2C as a limit rather than a prediction.)

5. A global average means much higher changes in specific locations. There aren't many of us, for example, living on the surface of the ocean. E.g., increases in Arctic temps are far higher than 2C already.

Please don't propagandize.

I wonder. It seemed to work pretty well for wealthy Romans. They set up their own little feudal kingdoms on their country estates.

No, the "barbarians" did that. For, example, in what is now called the Lombardi region of Italy the locals invited about 5,000 Lombard warriors to come and become their official royalty and military. The reason is that the locals needed somebody to defend them against what was left of the Roman military, who had become tax-collector/enforcers at that point.

But really, are there billionaires out there now who are hiring mecenaries? How so Ernst-Blofeld-like.

Sorry Leanan, I did not realize when I posted that you already had the thread up top.

I think it could work or it could backfire. We actually have no way of knowing what kind of society will exist after the meltdown. However the really bad part will be on the way down, during the meltdown. After society, and the population decline, hits rock bottom, those left should be relatively safe.

So I would have to disagree with the author of the piece. Having your own private little army and fortress will be no guarantee of survival but I believe it sure as hell would improve your chances.

Ron P.

Yes, that's pretty much how I see it. When Rome collapsed, the poor suffered first, then the middle class, and lastly the wealthy. With the Maya, it was the opposite. The elite died first. Perhaps as a result of some kind of rebellion by the lower classes.

But all in all, I would guess that it's better to be rich than poor. No guarantee, but it usually is better to be rich than poor.

But all in all, I would guess that it's better to be rich than poor. No guarantee, but it usually is better to be rich than poor.

It depends. If hell breaks lose it can be an advantage not to draw attention. In Indonesia occasionally the poor set big houses of Chinese people on fire.
Also the poor have more surviving skills and are used to do with almost nothing.

In the French/Russian/Chinese Revolutions, the Cambodian Killing Fields, and many other social convulsions being rich meant a death sentence. Hiding in your walled estate would seem to be an invitation to the hungry peasants to storm the gates when times get hard, while those under the radar can go on with their lives, such as they are.

After society, and the population decline, hits rock bottom, those left should be relatively safe.

This isn't the pattern seen when populations overshoot carrying capacity (K) and collapse. Often they collapse all the way to extinction. More often they collapse to close to extinction after which they oscillate around at a greatly reduced level until Allee effects drag them down to extinction after several generations. When populations overshoot K and collapse, K is so severely degraded that it isn't accurate to say that "those left should be relatively safe." Rather, the multitude of environmental impacts from K overshoot place any survivors in grave danger. Homo has overshot K to such an unprecedented extent for a large vertebrate, and degraded K so severely, that the only rational conclusion for anyone cognizant of population biology is that in all probability, when human population collapses extinction will ensue rather rapidly, if not immediately, following collapse.

I was speaking of safe from fellow humans who would attack a person for whatever survival food or tools they had. You are speaking of carrying capacity.

I must empathetically disagree with you on the probable extinction of Homo spines. You are comparing them with other species that went extinct. These other species, far more often than not, were limited to a particular area and climate. Homo sapiens occupy every niche in the world. Should they go extinct in Australia or Taiwan they still might survive in Japan or on some remote island of the world. We are so widespread that it is extremely unlikely that we will go extinct everywhere. There will be thousands of places that humans will be relatively isolated from other populations. To think that they will be unable to survive in any of those places is just..... I had better quit here.

Ron P.

The very fact that we have so severely degraded K on a global as opposed to a local or regional scale lends credence to the human extinction scenario, rather than make it more unlikely as you suggest. During previous mass extinction episodes clades of foraminiferans with global marine distributions were wiped out. Forams are small; the factor most strongly positively correlated with likelihood of extinction during a mass extinction pulse is large body size. Humans are large mammals. But the main factor is just the sheer magnitude of overshoot and degree and rapidity of onslaught of environmental degradation. A census number of seven billion for a large animal is unprecedented, as is the degree to which human technological civilization has impacted ecosystems worldwide. Just as many are in denial about resource depletion issues I would contend that many more are in denial about the collapse of biodiversity including the probability of human extinction on a time scale of decades to a few centuries from now.

You're not addressing Darwinian's specific points tho... :)

A web definition of carrying capcity.

"The size at which a theoretical population would stabilize [...] is referred to as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the theoretical equilibrium population size at which a particular population in a particular environment will stabilize WHEN ITS SUPPLY OF RESOURCES REMAINS CONSTANT [sic]. It can also be thought of as the maximum sustainable population size; the maximum size that can be supported indefinitely into the future without degrading the environment for future generations."

Note the part I capped. To do any real measure of carrying capacity, you must know at what level we can mantain a sustainable resource base. I am guessing you are imagining pre-industrial carrying capacity, but since I don't think windmills are going out of fashion anytime soon, and since we very likely have the potential to make fissionable resources last a very long time, and since there is no reason to think that the human race won't use these resources in the future, I then think that your carrying capacity calculations (if you had made any specific ones) would be based on faulty logic and wrong before you moved your first decimal.


You appear to be so determined that we are doomed thast you overlook a lot of troublesome facts that don't fit your scanario.

We don't all live in one place.

There are substantial natural barriers that will regain thier former effectiveness in regards to the spread of disease,etc, once modern day transportation is effectively finished.

The same over developed neocortex and opposable thumb that got us in to this mess will go a lon g way toward getting us out of it,once our numbers are substantially reduced.

I have asked you before,and I ask again.

Just which biologists who have a proven track record of research and/or prediction say we are doomed to extinction?Excluding ww3 scenarios ,etc,of course.

Oh look, it only took CNN over a decade to catch up with westexas:

Cut my pay ... please!

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Finding work in this recession takes determination, perseverance and, most of all, sacrifice.

With unemployment as high as 9.4% and job prospects scarce, job seekers are willing to accept as little as half of what they were making before, if it means finding a job.

In a recent survey, 65% of out-of-work respondents reported willingness to accept wages up to 30% lower than their previous compensation. And, 3% and 4%, respectively, said they would accept up to 40% and 50% of prior wages, according to the 2009 Annual Career Fair Survey released by Next Steps Career Solutions.

It's been about 20 years since I went to my boss at the time and demanded a 50% pay cut. From my ELP Plan essay:

http://graphoilogy.blogspot.com/2007/04/elp-plan-economize-localize-prod... (April, 2007)

For some time, I have suggested a thought experiment. Assume that your income dropped by 50%. How would you change your lifestyle?

. . . In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus--against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

Possible Israeli Involvement in the Russian Ship Hijacking?


Hello TODers,

First, my thxs to all avid readers & commenters on my extensive SpiderWebRiding posting series.

The Chinese hoarding of rare earth minerals will probably severely constrain a rapid First World build-out of hybrid and all-electric personal vehicles. The rising value of depleting FFs will probably also create a Liebig Minimum of rubber tires for these vehicles,too. IMO, we should consider these as good trends to help accelerate Kunstlerization.

For example: consider the frictional surface area of a car tire contact-patch, then multiply by four for a personal vehicle. The miniscule contact-patch of two tires on a bicycle is much, much less than even one car tire. A single teenage car-driver, power-skidding around a single corner for fun, can easily scrub off enough rubber from his four car tires to equal a dozen or more of wasted bicycles tires, which might be equal to 12,000 pedal miles [Hopefully, TOD tire-experts will offer better data than my feeble WAG].

So, mentally imagine all the personal car tires converted to bike-tire equivalents: we are wasting untold billions of potential bicycle miles every day. We will regret this loss as we go postPeak, thus, steel wheels on steel rails will be the next logical alternative to stave off, as long as possible, the Tlameme backpacking scheme.

Even if rare earths become Unobtainium: the additional size and weight of 'non-rare earth' electric motors is a modest plus for minitrains & battery railbikes because the extra weight helps increase the tractive force; the ability of the wheel to move on the rail without slipping from loss of frictional grip.

[From the spec page]: "The Super Mack is a low cost, easy to build, battery powered 1 1/2" scale locomotive. Based on a prototype built in 1921 by the Mack Truck company. The Super Mack can pull 2 cars up to 3 adults up a 3% + grade. The short wheel base permits operation on sharp radius curves. It is ideal for the layout in a small backyard.
Powered by two 12 volt DC permanent magnet 3000 RPM 1/3 hp motors. It uses gears to drive the wheels.
Please contrast a total of [0.66 HP + 3 people] to your typical [single-occupant SUV with 200-350 HP].

A more advanced example: this minitrain can have batteries or a 21-hp V-twin engine/hydrostatic drive to move up to 20 or more people:


These next photos are for a similar setup, but obviously a larger scale [15-18 inch track gauge?]:


My guess is this train probably has a 50-75 HP engine, and if you count the seats the ability to move 36 adults, at far higher speeds if desired, compared to the 7.5 inch track width of the earlier examples.

Again compare to your typical SUV as we go postPeak. 36 adults on bicycles means 72 tires total--that might equal the 4-tire contact patch of just one SUV, but you can't get 36 people inside. But if they move to rails: the road rubber required drops to zero, and steel wheels might lifetime last the equivalent mileage of 150 or more bicycle tiresets/adult.

Thus, one might say that one minitrain [or 36 railbikes] can save the rubber tire equivalent of 36 adults, each in a SUV, with each SUV using the equivalent of 72 bicycles tires each year, times 300 bicycle tires saved per 50 year? minitrain lifetime:

36 X 72 X 300 X 50 = 38,880,000 bicycle tires potentially saved for future generations by convincing just 36 SUV owners to abandon their personal vehicles quickly, then adopting SpiderWebRiding, at least for the next fifty years.

Cadillac Hybrid Escalade $73,135 to $87,510 @ 332HP
36 X $80,322 avg price = $2,891,610.00==>That $3 million 'jumpstart' would build one hell of a BIG SpiderWebRiding network, and I haven't even factored in the energy savings.

40 million bicycle tires is probably equal to 10 million wheelbarrow tires. IMO, those will be even more postPeak essential than bicycle tires, but YMMV.

Chance of a 2009 Hybrid Cadillac Escalade owner giving up his shiny ride? Probably ZERO, nada, no-way Jose', ZIP. I am sure that the new owner will tell anyone that he has now has a 'green lifestyle'.

EDIT: 2 minor changes for clarification.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Thanks, Bob:
but maybe we should not take our bikes and wheelbarrows as an either/or proposition:

Every time I'm in China I see vast numbers of these trike-trucks, amounting to maybe >10% of the total bikes, especially in rural areas. Actual wheelbarrows are IME rare, usually seen around big-contractor projects.

Just wondering - what are those two impaling-rods attached at the hub?

They look like the remnants of antique springer forks, the original front suspension on bicycles.

What is anything on that thing? Notice there's some sort of shift lever...is that the brake? No pedals. The seat's in surprisingly good shape. The Impaling Rods of Doom were probably to hold a basket on. The headset is even falling apart. It's a rolling miracle.

The systemic problem I am grappling with is: How do we get local SpiderWebRiding networks jumpstarted?

For example, take my Asphaltistan: Central Avenue is the main arterial road that connects downtown offices with the nearby [5-8 miles?] exclusive neighborhoods uptown. The grade or slope is very mild; no problem for a mini-locomotive and passenger cars like in the Storyland photolinks above.

If the Phx Mayor went to 300 wealthy car-owners in this uptown area, then convinced them to sell their SUVs to donate the funds for the first track--IMO, it would be no problem getting the narrow gauge materials quickly installed and working. In a prior posting: just a few Boy Scouts were easily building and laying track, for cryin' out loud. Imagine every Boy Scout in my Valley of the Sun pitching in to get this task done [with expert adult supervision]. It would be built in record time.

If I was Mayor: I would wildly incentivize these wealthy people to ante up even more cash by guaranteeing them a seat on a train for their entire lifetime. Thus, if the train is full: a cop, if required, makes someone get off, or someone gives the ejected rider money to wait for a later minitrain, or some other perk.

Also, the first minitrains would be treated to service like a Presidential visit: a train would never have to worry about vehicular traffic holdups; I don't care if the entire megalopolis gets logjammed--these trains get first traffic routing priority up and down Central Avenue--even if it takes 100 cops directing traffic, and 100 towtrucks removing vehicles until car-drivers learn that the minitrains will run ON-TIME!

I would also let these first-mover investors have lots of other perks as their reward for getting this Web jumpstarted. I could care less if they get totally drunk, snort mountains of cocaine, and have naked, public sex with high-dollar call-girls; just whooping-it-up on the train-ride home everyday! IMO, it will make other wealthy people [and lots of average 'Murkans!] rabidly want to expand the Web so they can get in on the fun, too.

Whatever it takes to get this SpiderWeb going so it can then be expanded fast to save huge amounts of resources and energy to help ease us into Optimal Overshoot Decline.

1) I think the first step is to look for a region and a city that has already got something of a culture that could even hear the idea.

You've gotta scoot from Phx anyway, don't you? Or am I off with this and it is truly where you are at home? Location, location, location.. your approach won't work everywhere.. and it seems to me that Phx itself might not work at all for a couple other reasons.

2) Next angle.. turn your words into Pictures. Find a sympathetic artist, and create some visualizations, even animations if possible. I think the idea has its best chance of capturing imaginations if you start with more imagery to prime the pump.

3) Make some prototypes. Play with the parts.. that will draw attention, and it should be a lot of fun besides! There must be some space to play out there somewhere.. and I'm sure there are supplies of scrapped pipe if you scoured for them. Here, we have a number of disused RR track, and I keep squinting at them and plotting to build a track-rig for my bike. It's not way up on the projects list, but all that lonely track going up the old Mountain Division line to Fryburg.. man! How bad would a little trespassing be, really?

Vaya con Velos, my friend!

Bob Fiske

The basic idea is to make the first minitrains have a "long & large, chrome penis appeal" much higher than a Bugatti Veyron.

Imagine if you are stuck in rush-hour traffic [going nowhere fast] in your Cadillac Escalade, or other high dollar ICE-vehicle. While sitting there: Imagine a Priority #1 minitrain passing in front of you that is styled like a bunch of OSCAR MAYER wienermobiles with the riders swilling brewskis and the HOOTER's Girls pole-dancing away as the throbbing music faded away with the train passing.

I think every hi-dollar ICE-vehicle in my Asphaltistan would plummet 50% inside of a week.

"Got rail? No DUI jail!"

Other marketing thoughts for these first minitrains, if I was Mayor:

Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, and Trojan sponsored minitrains. Use your imagination on what the locomotive & passenger railcars might look like to 'bling out' these rail vehicles to the max. Pay to have parties so the crowds go crazy in celebration as the minitrains enter tunnels specially constructed for extra effect.

Get the local pro-sport teams to throw wild team parties on these first trains to further help elevate their appeal to Joe Sixpack [J6P]. I would make sure the local MSM videotaped lots of footage while also talking up the energy & resource benefits that accrue to all citizens.

Since I am not female, I have no marketing ideas that would make minitrains wildly appeal to this gender. Female TODers please chime in. Maybe that SUV Soccer Moms could be free from driving the kids everywhere if the SpiderWeb gets locally huge?

According to my wife, an image of a man washing dishes or vacuuming can be just wildly attractive to many married women.

One thing I find to be ironic is China's increasingly restrictive dumping policy. Many of these gadgets that we use in the "developed" nations wind their way back to China and other "3rd World" countries where they extract the metals from them again. So if we are so worried about China "hoarding" their mineral deposits, why dont we keep what part of those deposits they send our way. Sure the most common metals they are going after are the precious metals, but the point is still valid if those phones, computers, IPods, and others stay in the US. There is a nice National Geographic article about this kind of thing where our old junk gadgets are shipped overseas.