Drumbeat: September 8, 2009

China to Boost Oil Stockpiles, Expand Overseas Output

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, approved a second-phase plan to increase oil stockpiles and will step up acquisitions to expand output from overseas fields, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. said.

The plan to build 26.8 million cubic meters, or 169 million barrels, of oil stocks for emergency use was approved on June 1, the nation’s biggest oil producer said in a report published in its newsletter today. China will boost output from fields abroad to more than 100 million metric tons by 2010, accounting for more than a quarter of the nation’s total.

Chinese oil companies have acquired assets in countries including Kazakhstan, Syria and Singapore since December as the world’s third-biggest economy seeks to build reserves and guarantee future supplies. China’s oil demand doubled in the last decade to 8 million barrels a day in 2008, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review. It imported about 3.6 million barrels of oil a day last year, meeting about 45 percent of its needs.

IHS CERA: World Oil Demand Set to Resume Growth; Return to Pre-recession Levels by 2012

World oil demand is set to grow next year for the first time since 2007 and return to pre-recession levels by 2012, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA) in its quarterly World Oil Watch report. The rebound would mark a turnaround from the largest drop in global oil demand since the oil crisis of the early 1980s.

IHS CERA expects oil demand growth to resume by 900,000 barrels per day (bd) in 2010 and return to its 2007 high of 86.5 million barrels per day (mbd) by 2012-a five year turnaround.

"There are a lot of questions as to whether things will be 'different this time' in terms of the recovery of oil demand," said IHS CERA chairman and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize, Daniel Yergin. "While the answer is that it will be shorter, it is still going to take a substantial amount of time."

OPEC's Waning Influence

LONDON -- When oil prices were soaring in early 2008, the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries was under intense pressure to raise its supply quotas. When they plummeted at the end of last year, OPEC had to scramble to cut them. Now? Supply and demand simply don't mean much anymore, after six months of rallying stock markets and a ramp-up in investor optimism, and Wednesday's OPEC meeting is unlikely to change things.

Norwegian oil spending faces reshaping

Norway's largest opposition party aims to slash state stakes in leading companies and change rules limiting the amount of oil money that can be tapped to fund a vast public works programme, its leader said today.

'Iraq pay could take years'

Western oil companies operating in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region may have to wait for years for the government to pay them for the oil they pump, Talisman Energy’s chief executive John Manzoni said today.

Schlumberger sees no big mergers in oil services

ABERDEEN (Reuters) - Larger U.S. oil services companies are unlikely to buy each other, the Chief Executive of industry leader Schlumberger said, despite speculation that a new round of industry consolidation was coming.

Andrew Gould said anti-trust issues would preclude companies such as Schlumberger, the world's largest provider of services to oil companies by market value, from buying rivals.

Petrobras restarts Tupi oil field test production

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras said on Tuesday it has restarted test production at the Tupi oil field after an equipment problem forced it to halt operations in early July.

The massive Tupi field holds 5 billion to 8 billion barrels of oil and is one of the most promising in Brazil's offshore subsalt province, an area the South American nation hopes will turn it into a major energy exporter.

Tropical Storm Fred gains strength in Atlantic

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Fred, which formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean late on Monday, was strengthening early on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, but did not immediately threaten any land.

Forecasters with the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fred was gradually becoming more organized and had the potential to become a hurricane within the next 36 hours.

Chill settles on once-hot solar panel companies

Summer may be winding down, but investors holding solar energy stocks are getting one nasty burn. Shares of companies that make solar panels have flamed out this year, missing out on what's been a significant recovery in the stock market.

MNN vs. Slate, round three: The big battery debate

Carmakers say they're ready to roll out EVs, but we're going to need plug-ready charging stations, too. Some say Chevy Volt-type "range extenders" will work better than big battery packs. Are electric cars coming soon, or will they short circuit? An MNN/Slate debate.

Clotheslines a hang-up for some communities

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Devin Ceartas would no sooner give up drying his laundry on a clothesline than he would dig up his spice garden, overturn his rain barrel or get rid of his compost heap.

Air drying is one of the simple, old-fashioned ways the 42-year-old computer programmer and his wife try to make their life in a Chapel Hill subdivision kinder to the environment.

So when their homeowners' association told them two years ago to take down the clothesline, they organized their neighbors. Today, laundry hangs freely from the backyard balconies of Village West townhouses, and aesthetic complaints can be taken up with Ceartas, who last fall became association president.

Feeding the future: Saving agricultural biodiversity

(CNN) -- When the chips are down, the world may one day owe a debt of gratitude to a group of potato farmers high up in the mountains of Peru.

Thanks to a new $116 million global fund established this summer, the Quechua Indians are being paid to maintain their diverse collection of rare potatoes and ensure that they will be available to help the world adapt to future climate change.

Miliband says poorer nations must act for climate deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Developing countries like China and India must accept curbs on their greenhouse gas emissions if the world is to agree a new climate change treaty this year, British government ministers said on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there was a real risk that talks in Denmark in December to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol will fail as politicians focus on the economic downturn rather than the longer-term threat of climate change.

Interview with Bob Hirsch - The Stonewalling of Peak Oil

There is, I think, ample evidence, and some people in DOE have gone so far as to say it specifically, that people in the hierarchy of DOE, under both administrations, understood that there was a problem and suppressed work in the area. Under President Bush, we were not only able to do the first study but also a follow-on study that looked at mitigation economics. After that, visibility apparently got so high that NETL was told to stop any further work on peak oil.

Yes, that was terrible. And it was strictly politics and political appointees—I have no idea how far up in either administration (the current one and previous one) these issues went or now go. People in the Clinton administration had talked about peak oil, including President Clinton and Vice President Gore, and the same thing is true in the Bush administration, and the same is true, to the best of my knowledge, in the Obama administration.

The peak oil story is definitely a bad news story. There’s just no way to sugar-coat it, other than maybe to do what I’ve done on occasion and that is to say that by 2050 we’ll have it right and we will have come through the peak oil recession—quite probably a very deep recession. At some point we’ll come out of this because we’re human beings, and we just don’t give up. And I have faith in people ultimately. But it’s a bad news story and anybody’s who’s going to stand up and talk about the bad news story and is in a position of responsibility in the government needs to then follow immediately and say “here’s what we’re going to do about it,” and no one seems prepared to do that.

Starving in silence: With no machines and all the livestock eaten, quiet lingers in rural areas of nation where 8.7 million face hunger

In a country where citizens are subjected to ceaseless propaganda telling them that they live in a socialist paradise, it's the silence that tells the other side of the story.

You can stand in the middle of some Pyongyang streets, even at rush hour, and hear only the occasional sound of an automobile engine because private cars are so rare. The quiet lingers, too, in the so-called industrial towns, their skylines dominated by smokestacks that never seem to be in use.

The silence is the sound of an economy in collapse, and nowhere is it more noticeable than in the countryside beyond the showcase capital city. Here, farmers tend their crops with hoes, shovels and their bare hands while the occasional piece of rusting farm equipment - rendered useless by a fuel shortage - sits idle amid the vast fields of rice and corn.

The Price Is Right

Uncertainty about future oil prices has put a freeze on many new energy-related construction projects. But deals that have managed to go forward are incurring dramatically lower costs, thanks to decreased demand for construction and engineering contractors, as well as such materials as cement bags and gas-carrying pipes. This is likely to boost profits when oil prices and demand make a strong comeback—as many experts expect—around 2012.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to which Algeria belongs, says member countries have put 35 exploration and production projects on the back burner and cut investment plans by $50 billion over the next five years.

Still, some companies are swimming against the current to take advantage of the subsequent downturn in the market for construction and engineering contractors.

China top refiners to run at record in Sept

BEIJING (Reuters) - Top Chinese refineries will modestly raise their crude oil processing in September to their record levels in July, as a big increase in throughput in a new plant more than offset moderate cuts in some others.

Twelve major plants accounting for more than a third of China's capacity, most of them on the eastern and southern seaboards, will process 2.65 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in September, up slightly from the actual 2.63 million bpd in August, a Reuters poll showed.

A Review of the Saudi Economy: On the Brink of Recovery

Government spending is the key source of dynamism within the economy. Expenditure seems to be above budget and is likely to pick up further as implementation of those projects recently signed or retendered begins. In contrast, many private sector businesses face problems accessing finance. Given the caution within commercial banks only modest growth in lending is expected over the near-term. SAMA has made the environment conducive to lending once banks become less risk averse and interest rates are expected to stay very low. With oil prices likely to be in excess of the budgeted level, we expect only a very small budget deficit despite the anticipated overspending. The deficit on the current account will be larger, but is not a concern.

Russia blasts Ukraine over European gas transit

President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday accused Ukraine of seeking to change an agreement on fees for the transit of Russian gas across its territory, raising the spectre of a new energy crisis between the two states.

The chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, told Medvedev in a meeting that Ukraine was seeking change the terms of payment for gas transit fees, a change that is not stipulated in the current contract.

The New Nukes

The next generation of nuclear reactors is on its way, and supporters say they will be safer, cheaper and more efficient than current plants. Here's a look at what's coming -- and when.

Let the Sun Shine

The solar industry has been struggling this year against weak demand, ample supply and sliding prices. Which means that for anyone thinking about putting solar panels on their roof, there probably hasn't been a better time.

All along the supply chain, prices have been falling, and could fall further still. Silicon, a main ingredient in most panels, has been selling for as little as half what it went for a year ago, while some panels and installed systems can be had for 25% less, retailers and installers say. Throw in a 30% rebate offered by the U.S. government, plus rebates in California, New Jersey, New York and other states, and, depending on where you live, you could be looking at $15,750 for a system that would have cost nearly twice as much a year ago when the federal rebate was much smaller.

Arguing From the Inside

Here's a thing you don't see very often: the head of one of the world's dirtiest industries making common cause with climate-change campaigners.

Seeds for Change

Rural electric co-ops have lagged behind other utilities in shifting to alternative energy. That's starting to change.

Frost & Sullivan: Biofuels An Important Step In Achieving A Greener Aviation Industry

Singapore, /PRNewswire/ - Aircraft emissions, ground transportation and related travel in the airline and airports business contribute to air pollution and global warming, and carbon reduction in this area has long been an area of research. In 2008 alone, U.S. passenger and cargo airline operations required 16.1 billion gallons or approximately 382.4 million barrels of jet fuel.

Power Plays

There has been a resurgence of investment interest in the U.S. biofuel industry focused on technologies that use algae to make fuel.

The appeal of algae is that it can potentially produce fuel without diverting food crops or large swathes of land. Ethanol derived from corn has been blamed by some for driving up food prices, while large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol would require cultivation of plants such as switchgrass that are grown only in small amounts now.

The PC Goes on an Energy Diet

Personal computers suck up enormous amounts of electricity—often when they aren't even being used. Manufacturers are tackling the problem.

Mideast climate change and its strategic implications

The strategic implications of climate change in the Middle East focus on a few key issues – fresh water resources, increasing desertification and shifting weather patterns. In the past, these issues were divisive on the regional level. With climate change, their strategic implications become more prominent.

One of the most divisive issues contributing to conflict in the Middle East is water scarcity. Thomas Homer-Dixon, a leading scholar in the field of environmental scarcity, has written that violent conflicts in the developing world will be induced or aggravated by scarcity. Fresh water has become an increasingly scarce resource that may not directly cause intra- and inter-state conflict but can encourage it – particularly in areas where it is a declining resource such as the parched Middle East.

Winterless Korea

Koreans have long compared their country to a ``brocade embroidered with beautiful rivers and mountains through four distinct seasons.'' Toward the end of this century, however, they may have to change it to a ``subtropical paradise of everlasting summer'' if a recent government report on climate change proves correct.

Lovers of warm weather, tropical fish and fruit may find little wrong with ``winterless Korea,'' but what this climatic upheaval means on a global scale ― drought, famine and rising seas ― will not be that simple.

Engineers planning dam to protect the capital from catastrophic floods

ENGINEERS are considering an elaborate dam system (pictured left) in the centre of Dublin Port to fend off the worst effects of global warming.

Under the proposals, a series of tidal gates would be erected between the end of two piers stretching into Dublin bay, in an attempt to stop the flooding of the quays in Dublin city centre as part of a "worst case scenario" study.

Greening the church: a reluctant sacrifice or a new lease of life?

Taking responsibility for our actions, fighting for justice and living in harmony with the rest of creation are among the founding principles of every religion. So why is there is no interfaith, or even inter-Christian statement on climate change?

Electricity demand sputters; bills may fall

For decades as Americans bought more electronics, more appliances, air conditioners and other gizmos, energy demand has only moved in one direction and prices have followed suit.

The decline in power usage over the past year is a rarity and also an indication of how badly the recession has jolted the economy and changed the way Americans spend.

The shift began last year, when power consumption fell 1.6 percent. Government forecasters see consumption falling another 2.7 percent this year. That would mark the first time since 1949 that the nation has seen energy demand fall in consecutive years.

Pemex head replaced amid production slump

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has replaced Jesus Reyes Heroles as boss of state-owned oil monopoly Pemex as the country battles to boost output and its reserves cache.

Calderon replaced Reyes Heroles with Juan Jose Suarez, a former banker and beer executive, according to a Reuters report.

Calderon urged Suarez to “accelerate the exploration and exploitation of new gas and crude reserves”.

Putin Blinking on Exports Signals Lower Oil for OPEC

(Bloomberg) -- Russia is surpassing Saudi Arabia in oil exports for the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin exploits OPEC production cuts to gain market share.

OPEC set to hold supply steady, likes oil price

VIENNA (Reuters) – Oil at close to $70 means OPEC will almost certainly keep existing output cuts in place when it meets in Vienna on Wednesday, although it could seek to tighten compliance with existing targets, ministers and delegates said.

"The market is in very good shape, very well supplied, the price is good for everybody, consumers and producers," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi said on arrival in Vienna in the early hours of Tuesday.

Australia: Caltex in $300m remote fuel deal

POWER and Water has awarded a contract worth $300 million to Caltex for diesel and kerosene fuels to power remote communities for the next five years.

Oil giant Shell prepares to cut jobs

Royal Dutch Shell managers are beginning the grim task of telling staff where job cuts will fall as new chief executive Peter Voser wields the axe

Oil Ties Draw Flak in Lockerbie Case

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who recently released the Lockerbie bomber, has a brother who is an energy-industry executive and who has worked at firms that have pitched for oil business in Libya.

The Scottish government, which has said that it made full disclosure of facts relevant to the decision, didn't disclose this relationship, and opposition politicians on Monday criticized this.

Venezuela to move legally over Conoco refinery bid

CARACAS (Reuters) - PDVSA will take legal action over the ConocoPhillips bid to buy out the Venezuelan state company's share in the Merey Sweeney refinery in the United States, a senior PDVSA official said.

Divided Venezuelans march for, against Chavez

CARACAS (Reuters) – Thousands of Venezuelans marched on Saturday in protests against President Hugo Chavez while thousands of his supporters held their own rallies, a sign of the sharp split in the OPEC nation over the socialist leader's policies.

Chavez remains popular with the poor and workers after living standards rose during an oil boom. But other Venezuelans are fiercely opposed to the leftist leader who has nationalized much of the economy and this year clamped down on opposition politicians and the media.

Renewable energy plan creates rift

AMBOY, Calif. — The morning heat hits triple digits as a whiptail lizard darts below a creosote bush near Route 66. Gazing across the desert valley, power company executives, environmentalists and federal land managers stand beneath a cloudless sky and argue over the landscape.

PG&E project manager Alice Harron says she is "comfortable" with the solar power plant her utility wants to build on government land here along 4 miles of the Mother Road that connected Chicago and Los Angeles long before the interstate system.

David Myers of the Wildlands Conservancy is not. Renewable energy projects such as this one — which could power 224,000 homes — sound good in theory, he says, but if they tear up pristine vistas, they're not "green."

'Green the Capitol' initiatives save energy, set a good example

The House of Representatives alone used to dispose of 240,000 meal remains each month, all served on plastic plates or in Styrofoam containers. It was all thrown in the trash and taken to landfills, says Karissa Marcum, deputy press secretary for the chief administrative officer for the House of Representatives.

But in January 2007, the House committed to becoming a greener, more energy-efficient institution. It started with simple changes, such as switching to more eco-friendly products and finding better ways to dispose of waste products, says Marcum.

India to set industry efficiency targets by Dec 2010

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India hopes to set up by December next year energy efficiency targets for more than 700 industrial units, which account for 40 percent of India's fossil fuel use, the country's head of energy efficiency said on Monday.

Energy efficiency is a focus in India's climate change policy and setting targets for energy-intensive industries marks a step towards initiating a national trading scheme centred on energy efficiency certificates.

Japan’s Next Premier Vows to Cut Emissions Sharply

TOKYO — Japan’s presumptive prime minister breathed new life on Monday into efforts to curb global warming, standing by a campaign pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in the next 10 years from 1990 levels — a target that environmentalists said puts Japan at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

Nonetheless, the incoming prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, whose center-left Democrats swept to a landmark electoral victory last month, attached what appeared to be a new caveat to his pledge, saying it was contingent on similarly ambitious goals by other major polluters.

EU welcomes Japan climate plan

BRUSSELS – The European Union is welcoming plans by Japan's incoming prime minister to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said Tuesday the proposal is "really very encouraging" for those trying to negotiate a new global climate change pact.

China reiterates developed countries should massively cut greenhouse gas emissions

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China reiterated here Tuesday that developed countries should take more responsibility in massively cutting greenhouse gas emissions in a new global pact on climate change.

Massey Energy CEO blasts climate bill at WVa rally

HOLDEN, W.Va. – The chief executive of coal mining giant Massey Energy blasted supporters of climate-change legislation and other environmental issues affecting the coal industry at a free Labor Day concert and rally in southern West Virginia.

CEO Don Blankenship said he wanted to show people at the event how government regulation is hurting the coal industry, driving up energy prices and making the country less competitive.

19% fall in greenhouse gas emissions

Scotland`s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 19% since 1990, annual figures have revealed.

Tiny arctic town mans climate's front line

TUKTOYAKTUK, Northwest Territories -- Caught between rising seas and land melting beneath their mukluk-shod feet, the villagers of Tuktoyaktuk are doing what anyone would do on this windy Arctic coastline. They’re building windmills.

That’s wind-power turbines, to be exact — a token first try at "getting rid of this fossil fuel we’re using," said Mayor Merven Gruben.

Maldives too broke to attend climate summit: president

MALE (AFP) – The Maldives, whose fight against rising sea levels has become a cause celebre for environmentalists, said Monday it would have to skip UN climate change talks in Copenhagen this year to save money.

"We can't go to Copenhagen because we don't have the money," President Mohamed Nasheed told reporters, adding that he was staying away to set an example of cost-saving to the rest of the government.

Seas 'threaten 20m in Bangladesh'

Up to 20 million people in low-lying Bangladesh are at risk from rising sea levels in the coming decades, according to new research.

Scientists predict that salty water could reach far inland, making it hard to cultivate staple foods like rice.

Climate change: no Eden, no apocalypse

I am primarily a climate scientist who has worked with climate data, models and scenarios. But I am now more interested in how we think and talk about climate change, how we use the idea to support various projects, and how - paradoxically - we could use it to make the world a better place. I argue that just as we need to understand the physical changes that are sweeping the planet, we also need to understand climate change as a cultural and psychological phenomenon.

Canada's Kyoto failure a warning to summit: study

PARIS - Canada's failure to meet its Kyoto commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions is being used as ammunition by a U.S. think-tank to argue in favour of reducing expectations at the Copenhagen climate-change summit this December.

The Council on Foreign Relations paper asserts the United States and other western countries should seek incremental progress from emerging major carbon emitters such as China and India rather than push these countries to accept the kind of specific emission caps set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The author, Michael Levi, argues hard caps would be impossible to sell to the most powerful countries in the developing world unless the objectives were so weak that they would be useless, potentially counterproductive, and almost impossible to enforce.

The link up top Pemex head replaced amid production slump tells us that Mexican President Felipe Calderon has replaced the head of Pemex with a former banker and beer executive. Wow! If that doesn't stop the slide in Mexican oil production nothing will.

Isn't it comforting to know that Mexico has a president that knows exactly what to do in a crisis?

Ron P.

"The firings will continue till morale improves"

A banker and beer exec - hmm, ideal capabilities for dealing with crashing oil production. By the end of 2010 for Mexico falling apart looks more and more realistic.

Why do we generally have such low quality politicians when we need the very best and most strategic?

I have the feeling that of all modern US politicians Carter was probably the best yet he was replaced by a cowboy actor...

Sorry, what was the question again?


I liked that old peanut farmer. An engineer after all. But there's the rub. Take a good technical guy who doesn't know how to work the system and no progress is made. Take a savvy poliician who knows/cares little about technology and he'll get stuff through the system that offers little relief. Add that the political infighting between the two parties and it's difficult for me to be very optimistic.

"I liked that old peanut farmer" likewise, from my perception he tried to do too many things at once (like the new guy??).
Political infighting - like running down Obama's speech that basically says work hard at school & stay the course!!!

Sorry, what was the question again?

Do ya want another beer or not?!!

More like:

Do you want to finance another beer or not?

cowboy actor ? i thought he was bonzo's sitter.

Let's be honest- B actors make good politicians (and horrific policy makers)--
Just look at California.
Reagan perfected the Electronic Nuremberg Rally, a feat that would of put a smile on any member of the Third Reich.
It gave angry and ignorant people the right to think and act the way they did. Unfortunately, most are still living by the story and myth of these simple tales.

I'd post this if it weren't so big... Sad but true.


A democracy only works if you have a well informed and politically active populous. In the USA we have neither.

I'm always amused by these types: Union head and then two-time governor of California? No - "cowboy actor."

The "cowboy" trounced Carter and changed our destiny and that of the world for the better but not to this Carter fan. Unreal.


The "cowboy" trounced Carter and changed our destiny and that of the world for the better but not to this Carter fan.

Well. I will give you the first part. He changed our destiny and that of the world.
But I don't think the final card has been played in the game of "Reagan's legacy" aka "America's addiction to debt."

"Energy Independence" card is still in the deck, too.
Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House roof, and offered tax credits to anyone who purchased solar energy systems. Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House and terminated the tax credits. Many people in the solar industry went out of business. The country was convinced that solar doesn't work.


Because nobody worth a sh#t wants the job.

Why do we generally have such low quality politicians when we need the very best and most strategic?

Because nobody worth a sh#t wants the job.

1. In order to win you have to raise serious money
2. In order to raise money you have to tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. The money wants to see that the candidate will protect their status quo.
3. Voters look for an R or a D rather than the qualities/characteristics of the person running
4. Voters are not well informed and don't take the time to become so.
5. The media and political parties ignore races in "safe" districts.
6. Voters more often choose candidates that appeal to a single issue (abortion/immigration/war), rather than the totality of their character/positions/abilities. Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they aren't "worthy." (Afterall, think about how often your partner disagrees with you).

These are just a few of the realities in elections.
Plenty of good/honest people run for public office. Politicians make an easy target but voters should spend more time looking in the mirror. When the mirror cracks, maybe then we'll see some reforms.

Umm, close. In order to win you have to tell the people what those who have the money want them to hear. Tell me, is Obama more beholden to the many who sent him $50 or the few who wrote the big checks and control far more - including media?

In order to win you have to tell the people what those who have the money want them to hear. Tell me, is Obama more beholden to the many who sent him $50 or the few who wrote the big checks and control far more - including media?

Exactly. BTW, the second largest contributor to his presidential campaign was Goldman Sachs. Sixth was Citigroup, followed by JP Morgan. No surprise why the bailout favored the financial industry. And now, to quote Joe Bageant, he's "taken a dive" for big PHarma. No hope for real health care reform, either.

To be fair to Obama, no politician can buck the system as it is now and survive, politically, and sometimes physically.


Why do we generally have such low quality politicians when we need the very best and most strategic?

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens.

This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out.

If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans.

So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks.

There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody:

'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'"
-- George Carlin

We miss your wisdom, George.

I'll second that!

My ophthalmologist is a Louisiana State Senator. Head of a successful group practice. He figures he is taking a 1/3rd pay cut to serve.



A post-Katrina decision because he saw people dying for lack of healthcare and no one was doing, or even saying, anything.

Also, Arnie Fielkow, former Executive VP for NFL Saints. He could be making $1+ million/year in Seattle, Miami, etc. but chose to stay in New Orleans on $40 K/year as City Councilperson (and hopefully, next Mayor).


Best Hopes for Concerned Citizens Stepping Up,


So the short form is..........The people get the government they deserve.

Good points! So why? One possibility - Brainwashed into have not a clue, and I win you lose personality traits by being addicted to commercial TV.

Our own President Obama has decided to pick a former investment banker to save manufacturing:


Investment banking has a recent history of success that manufacturing should follow. Bloom led automakers though bankruptcy quickly and that success qualified him for this new responsibility. Now if he can only do the same thing for manufacturing in general we are saved. (sarcasm)

Why not? Most realize that when his political career ends his investment banking career starts-all the important moves are being made in preparation. He is looking like a poor man's Tony Blair.

"Pemex is widely seen as a bloated bureaucracy and experts say it lacks funding and expertise needed to tap new reserves and turn around its falling production, Reuters reported."

What peak?


Since the man is smart enough and lucky enough to have made it to the top,he is also probably smart enouigh to know that the oil situation is not going to change for the better(-concieveably it might get worse at a slower rate) so who is likely to be better ,from El Presidente's pov ,at spinning and obfuscating the situation to best effect( from the political pov) than a banker/brewer?

Pathetic crisis management,yes, but solid journeyman politics !;-)

A former banker and beer executive vs. Mexican peak oil.

I think peak oil will win.

Most Energy Efficient and only "Made in USA" washing machine

With the "Cash for Clunkers - Appliances" version coming soon (each state announces their program Sept. 15, about $1/capita to each state) I have been researching washing machines.

I think that earlier Bosch washing machines were made in North Carolina (unsure), but starting August 4, 2009, the new "Vision" line went into production. 13 gallons/load and 130 kWh/year (using standardized tests). As of last Friday, not yet in stores.


In the current recession, and looking forward, I try to buy goods, especially essential goods (i.e. washing machines) "Made in the USA". Especially when using government incentives.

Best Hopes,


Hi Alan,

I've owned a number of front loaders over the years, including the one that's hard at work as I type.

My parents had a Westinghouse model years ago and the thing was built like a tank (and weighed nearly as much). Excellent wash performance, economical operation and surprisingly quiet.

We should have paid more attention to Betty.



If you scroll down to the bottom of this page you will see the kind of washing machine I endorse ;-)


Pretty darn clever, but I bet you have to pedal your butt off once you hit the final high speed rinse.


I have had a Bosch front load washer and a dryer for 10 years with no problems. I couldn't be happier with them. I don't use to dryer so much because I rack dry most of my clothes. But the washer uses comparatively little water; just enough for the amount of clothes being washed. You have a lot of choice (5) on the level of the heat of the water so you can dial in on how much you absolutely need. I.E., cold for most things, super hot when needed for disinfecting.

I've heard from a lot of people trying to reduce their laundry energy usage since I started a business manufacturing the clothes drying rack I designed. It's Made In The USA too!

Big energy savings can be had with the right combination on laundry equipment. The new front-load washers not only use less water, but they do not need hot water AND they spin the clothes out so fast that they come out almost dry.

Then just take those 'almost dry' clothes and hang them up on a drying rack indoor or out (depending on the season). Clean dry laundry with very little water usage and great energy savings!

Based on the numbers on this website, it looks like about a seven month payout for your clothes drying rack:


Thanks Westexas! I'm a little embarrassed that I hadn't figured out the payback period myself.

I'm guessing you used this data:

Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,530 to operate.

to get $85/yr then $7.08/month as the cost of drying laundry in a clothes dryer. So a $49 drying rack has a 7 month payback if it keeps you from needing a power clothes dryer.

I tried hard to design my drying rack to last for a generation or two, just like the antique drying racks from the 1940's that I based the design on. It all started when a friend showed me a round wooden drying rack that had been used daily by her family and passed down to her from her Grandma...

I had never used one until we stayed in an apartment in Venice a couple of years ago. In Rome, we hung our clothes on a clothes line, in a central courtyard. None of the apartments that we stayed in had dryers. The only cars we were in were taxis on a couple of occasions. Otherwise it was trains, buses and walking--and water taxis in Venice. As JHK said, it is a little odd that Americans often vacation to get away from their auto-centric way of life.

Your drying rack would make a great Christmas gift. I'm probably going to buy some for us and for family members. I could tell them that the gift is worth more than a thousand dollars! You ought to try to get it listed on the Signals catalog. Another sales pitch would be to figure the tons of coal not burned to dry your clothes.

Can anyone please explain how and why it ever became "illegal" in so many parts of USA for people to hang washing on an outdoor line??

I can understand how rich, lazy people with access to cheap energy might choose to use a drier, but I cannot comprehend how any rational group of people could implement laws against clotheslines.

Hanging laundry was associated with poverty - people who could not afford a dryer. So people in "good" neighborhoods felt it would lower their property values if people hung out their laundry. (It is usually upscale towns/subdivisions where this is a problem. Low-income neighborhoods and rural areas rarely pass such laws.)

My parents live in a newish subdivision where you are only allowed to hang clothes if 1) the clothesline isn't permanent and 2) it's not visible from the street. So my mom has a retractable clothesline in the backyard.

Other rules in their subdivision: no sheds or other outbuildings without a permit; no leaving the garage door open if it faces the street; no non-working vehicles parked in front of the house.

So far as I know, there are no rules where I live about hanging laundry. People just don't do it. An Indian family moved in across the way, and they would hang their laundry out to dry on their deck railings. The neighbors were aghast. It was so tacky! I don't know if someone spoke to them about it, but they stopped doing it, and eventually moved out.

You can see clotheslines, and if your neighbor uses a clothesline perhaps your neighborhood isn't as posh and upscale as you'd like to sell it as.

It's all about the property values, don'chaknow.

I have one and it works (well, when the sun is shining).

Some care is needed when placing clothes on to keep them balanced.


It has been hard in my family to get more than occassional use for old fashioned drying. I have two lines strung between the house and the fence -total cost maybe $10 for fasteners, and clothes line. I use it daily for bicycling clothes, and somewhat for bath towels. But rarely do any other family members bother. In my opinion, racks or lines are useful for the big slow to dry stuff, like towels, sheets etc.. But for most people the payback from line drying for small -or personal items like socks and undergarments just isn't big enough. In our climate we have 7-8 months of almost perfect outdoor drying conditions. During the rest of the time it is cold, humid, and/or raining, and even an indoor rack is nearly useless. So I think you still need to have an oldfashioned dryer, just use the old-fashioned way for the larger items, when the conditions are favorable. That should still save about half your dryer energy bills.

That is a great drying rack. Where I live there is another similar circular design that is made to hang from a hook (or whatnot) on a ceiling. These are naturally too small for 'heavy' drying, they are made for indoor use. I've seen those all over Europe.

(Scandalous that so many simple objects are so poorly designed.)

I've got one of those, that my mom gave me. I don't care for the circular designs myself. I prefer accordian-style rectangular racks. They just seem to hold more. Plus, you don't have to worry about balancing the load as much.

Or you COULD get the benefits of a front loader without the gasket hassles by getting a staber (you liked their clothes drier back when I linked to 'em years ago)


12 gal as the low water use (thus beating the 13 gal)

The design is one very large pully attached to the stainless steel wash basket to the motor. People have converted the units to bicycle pedal power because of the simplicity of the unit. Electrically, its not (or at least as of 2000) much more complicated than timers on switches.

Very popular with the 'I run on solar energy' crowd because of "the operating on only 110–150 watt-hours of electricity per wash load."

Oh, and most of the Staber line is coin op laundry eq.

I've had a Staber machine for a few years ... a solid piece of equipment, American made and with an American support number.


I overlooked Stabler (direct sales by them may have been a factor).

An extra $800 or so, about twice the price.

More durable than Bosch, likely (very good vs. excellent).

More energy efficient than Bosch ? H'mmm. I think unlikely but I would like #s.

Energy is used in several ways by washing clothes. Motors, hot water, drying (Bosch gets extra points for very dry after spin cycle).

Best Hopes,


I overlooked Stabler

I have had them added to my profile for years after you decided they were 'cool' for their dryer.

drying (Bosch gets extra points for very dry after spin cycle).

Consdiering the Bosch hasn't been sold yet - I have no idea how you've come to a comparison.

about twice the price.

Its only "Money" (aka FRNs). The article you posted claimed a $1300 price tag for the Bosch solution.

My brother's Staber pinched the dickens out of my fingers as I was turning the drum to unload it. Not the best industrial design. O'course you don't have to bend all the way over at the waist like you do for a front-loader, but between the price and the gawky ergonomics, I say fuggedaboutit.

Bosch gets extra points for very dry after spin cycle)

Bosch Vision 300 spins at 1100 rpm. 500 & 800 at 1,200 rpm, Staber at 750 rpm. Bosch has larger capacity, which implies larger radius. I deduce that Bosch comes out drier.


Bosch has larger capacity, which implies larger radius.

I have no idea about the Bosch's radius, but I do know that the Staber SS hexagon is 'narrow'. Or at least more narrow then I would have thought it should be.

Odds are the firm has customers in your area - all you'd have to do is convince 'em to allow you to get their contact info then go see the machines.

I use a Miele toploading horizontal axis washer. It is very energy and water efficient and very quiet. I don't know if they are available in the US, but in a humid climate like yours you could probably use a fast spin model. The Mieles go up to 1400 rpms, but I think even faster spins are available.

Around 7 years ago I bought a standard Maytag washer for my off-grid homestead. I installed a start capacitor in it to reduce the starting surge from 3,000+ watts down to around 900 watts. It uses around 350-400 watt-hours per load with double rinse cycles, but costs about 1/2 as much as a Staber ($500 vs $1100?). I dry the clothes on an indoor rack and use only cold water to wash. The difference in power consumption versus a Staber is inconsequential, even with limited off-grid power availability. Allowing 4 loads per week, the difference in kilowatt hours of consumption (.3 x 16) would be less than 5 kilowatt hours per month, or about 50 cents a month on-grid.

Smart grid, smart future

For consumers, the most visible part of the smart grid will be smart meters that track not only how much electricity you use but when. That will permit higher rates for power used at peak periods and rewarding customers for switching usage to off-peak hours. Taking advantage of this could save consumers as 20 per cent on their power bills, predicts Duncan Stewart, director of research at consulting firm Deloitte Canada in Toronto.

The impact on reliability is harder to forecast, Mr. Stewart says. While the grid is widely expected to become less reliable with age and increasing demands, the deterioration would be gradual. Smart-grid implementation – also gradual – will probably mean things won't get worse and might get a little better in coming years.

Increased efficiency and possibly the ability to exploit power from rooftop solar panels and windmills will help avoid capacity shortfalls, Mr. Stewart adds. “It's not like we'll probably be able to shut down every coal-fired plant in North America,” he says, but at least there might be no need to build new ones.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/smart-grid-smart-future/a...

No more coal-fired power plants !


Actually, I support new coal powered generation.

If a new, more efficient (less coal/MWh) plant is matched with the demolition of an old coal fired plant.

1/3rd to 1/4th less coal burned/MWh is economically feasible.


Hi Alan,

Not unreasonable, but it commits us to burning coal for another 50 to 75 years, albeit in reduced quantities if this MW for MW rule were to hold true. It also reduces the amount of working capital available to finance more environmentally sound alternatives.

There's no one-size-fits-all strategy to transition away from coal as the current generating mix and range of potential alternatives will vary considerably from one utility to the next, but I believe it's the general direction we should be taking.


I do as well. However, I also recognize that we will be burning some coal for an absolute minimum of 30 years. Almost certainly longer. Better to burn it efficiently.

How to structure a program that both encourages a rapid (30+ years to zero) move away from coal and efficient coal burning till then ?

Carbon taxes are part of the solution, but only part.

Best Hopes to minimize coal use,


Home generation has got to be an answer.

I can't help to think about the line losses, transformer losses, and efficiency losses due to generating power far from its point of use. It would probably be more efficient to have small natural gas fired home generators, especially in northern climates where you could capture the waste heat and heat your home with it.


Unless there is a use for all of the waste heat, not so.

Use GE 60% efficient combined cycle units in CHP first, then standalone not too far from load.

Figure up to 1% loss for every transforming. Not that much.

Home CHP capital plus operating costs are another big negative for micro-CHP. District CHP works better IMO.


Much of the "heat" used for homes is low grade thermal energy, such as hot water or space heating. Low temperature solar collectors cam provide most of this energy at a cost lower than that of electricity.

So, why go for home CHP, which likely produces much more electricity than needed and probably less thermal energy? As you note, the maintenance thing is the big problem, since running a rotating machine 24/7/52 works out to 8,760 hours a year. How long do you think those small CHP systems would last? For comparison, consider that a car engine running at 60 mph for 150,000 miles is only 2,500 hours of operation. Light aircraft engines are re-built at around 1,000 hours, because they are operated at higher fractions of their rated output and there are serious consequences if there is an engine failure...

E. Swanson

Coal comes out of the ground not off of a truck or barge and to get the coal out of the ground in central Appalachia we are blowing off the tops of mountains and scouring the hills and dumping the overburden, coal ash and slurry into the headwaters of our streams. Jobs are lost, roads and homes destroyed, habitat is lost, water is polluted and more efficient use of coal only means that we'll continue to use more aggressive methods to remove coal from the ground longer.

There is great human and environmental cost to using coal before it even get's loaded on the tipple/train/truck/barge and no efficiency at the downstream end of the process will change that. The only solution is to dramatically reduce demand for electricity produced by burning coal. Tax, outlaw valley fills, require the return of the land to original contour, nuclear energy, whatever it takes. Certainly not more efficient coal plants.

Best hopes for truly clean energy because "Clean Coal" isn't.

To the extent that we must continue to use coal at all, I very much would prefer that we move to in-situ CTG as soon as it is technologically and economically feasible, thus enabling us to convert all non-nuclear power plants to gas-fired. If there is going to be any cleaning or CCS to be done wrt the coal, there are probably better economies of scale to be achieved by doing at the mine site than at the power plant.

Alan -- that's a good point I hadn't seen offered yet. Given my absolute confidence of the American people to choose the every expanding use of coal over helping the environment out, such aa mandatory trade-off might be the best we could hope far.

No that is not a good point! You are not giving credit where credit is due. It is the voice of big coal, just like big oil, that's winning the propaganda fight. See the Massey link above. They spend millions of dollars to buy people and government. They marginalize the opposition. They intimidate, too.

There are lots of American people fighting on the front lines that are not going to choose expanded use of coal. Do not resign to the power of commerce without morality.

Send some money to .orgs KY, WV, TN, VA. Or ask me for names...

It is the voice of big coal..

Well, well, someone on this forum recognizes the voice of corporate advocacy when they hear it. Good job, Sterling925. ;)

Only the 4 Horsemen can stop the burning of all the accessible coal on the globe, and sadly WAR, as in violent sabotage, will be the main brake on the stupid burning of coal. The incredible stupidity of the Capitalist Banksters/industrialists will ensure that the ecosystem is destroyed to maintain the insane greed of these parasites.

Sorry guys but you seem to mistake common sense for corporate advocacy. If you read my post again you'll see that I don't support expandied coal usage but just acknowledged that it will happen. If you can offer any credible plan to change the nature of US society I all ears. In the meantime feel free to carry on your delusion of a righteoues and moral American people who will sacrafice their lifestyle for the sake of the rest of the world.

Alan's point is very good. The coal is going to be burned despite all the robust speaches from the "revolutionaries" out there. If it's going to happen anyway we should be considering such ideas as Alan offers to reduce the inevitable damage as much as possible.

And again, as for as my alledged "advocacy" for corporate coal, you should be ashamed of yourself dog. You know what I do for a living and it would be greatly to my advantage if every coal mining operation were shut down tomorrow. Just teaing you a little dog... luv ya man!

If you can offer any credible plan to change the nature of US society

Working with the Millennium Institute, we have the beginnings of a plan. Key motivators are

1) BAU results in the USA becoming a 3rd World nation in a few decades. High unemployment, shrinking GDP, etc.

2) National Security requires certain changes.

A comprehensive plan results in 1) higher GDP (+13% in 20 years vs. BAU) 2) +4% higher employment 3) -38% CO2 4) -22% less oil used. Said plan can be improved upon.

Current strategy is to have two Fortune 500 CEOs lobby Secty. Chu for a "Green Hirsch Report" with econometric modeling, have corporate plus Sierra Club, etc. expertise donated for different chapters. Sponsored by DoE.

A "swing for the fences" strategy, odds of success ? Maybe 5%.

Best Hopes,


PS: As regular readers of TOD know, I have strong opinions on a variety of subjects. The "Green Hirsch Report", if written, will likely reflect those opinions.

I am well aware that "I could be wrong". What mechanism might we use to reduce and check that possibility ?

As you note, I could be wrong is always a problem. So is preaching to the choir. Since there are serious differences in the definition of which path is the "right" one to take, the tendency is to just muddle thru each crisis.

There have been numerous such ideas over the years. Remember the Carter inspired Global 2000 Report? Where did that one take us? Right into the arms of Ronnie RayGun and Bush the First. Writing another such report won't make the politicians and the corporations force thru the basic structural changes which would be required to shift the direction in which we are all headed. Most of are passengers on this train and have no way to influence the process. There's no "emergency brake" cord in the passenger cars and the guys out in the wilderness who are building the tracks toward the cliff don't give a damn anyway as long as they are getting paid. It would appear that there's not even the concern to deal with the basic problems in the financial world, let alone the larger philosophical problem of environmental protection and AGW.

The only possible way I can see to change things is for the present system to become so unworkable that Joe Sixpack and his kids Billy and Babbett Fourwheeler start screaming in the streets. They would do that only if they were in such dire straits that they were willing to go out and die for some cause. The trouble with that scenario is the usual process leads to some sort of dictatorial government in response and lots of pain. I fear that there's going to be no easy way forward.

I notice that the Millennium Institute has already published a report called: Global 2000 Report Revisited. How did that work out??

E. Swanson

Alan -- I appreciate your efforts especially with the odds against as you see it. My question was not on how to fix the system but how can the attitudes of the public be changed. This is where my pessimism rests. There are many folks out there crafting potential solutions but only a huge change in public attitude and morality will allow any to be applied. Having watched as an insider how the public deals with our FF comsumption I'm left with little expectation that they will alter. If they refused to modify behavor when FF were more abundant and the economy strong how can one expect them to do it now when it will require such huge sacrifices (huge in their minds, of course).

Struggle on soldier.

My question was not on how to fix the system but how can the attitudes of the public be changed.

And rather than move to export what he considered to be worth saving in New York/New Orleans/San Fransisco he stated that these cities should be saved no matter what the cost to the nation.

Why invest in the costal city infrastructure if its all going underwater?

A comprehensive plan results in 1) higher GDP (+13% in 20 years vs. BAU) 2) +4% higher employment 3) -38% CO2 4) -22% less oil used. Said plan can be improved upon.

Those results indicate a continued addiction to growth. Is that your stance, or is it an attempt to accept "good enough" in order to get something passed?

A "swing for the fences" strategy, odds of success ? Maybe 5%.

I don't see this as "swing for the fences." Since it appears to be Green BAU (green-washed growth) with cuts in oil consumption that are too small, thus resulting in even greater environmental damage long-term than is probably viable (unless it includes a phasing out of coal) and, again, dedicated to growth (or is that also just a nod to reality?), then we are looking at perhaps a single or a double, max.

I have a very hard time seeing CO2 getting down to 350 with a growing GDP without very big gains in tech and/or a massive reduction in economic activity.

I, too, appreciate the efforts, but find them misguided (GBAU) and unrealistic (350 is quite certainly where we must head.) In this time and place "good enough" simply isn't. That said, the plan might slow things down a bit and buy time to wake people up to the full reality of what we face.


It is moving towards a severe phase down of coal (last 10% of North American generation is intractable looking at it from today, look at the issue again once we are at 75% non-carbon generation and headed towards 90%).

The GDP components will shift significantly. Less consumption, more investment in conservation, renewable generation, non-oil transportation. Insulation, a new rail tunnel under Baltimore (to supplement one from 1880s), new wind turbines, new subways, new solar PV are all parts of the GDP in the year built.

The numbers quoted are after 20 years. 30 to 50 year numbers are better, but less reliable. If one looks at the details, this is pushing about as hard in the green direction as tar sands were being pushed till the middle of last year.

-38% CO2 in twenty years (possibly more with additional unmodeled policies) and high 40% (-47% ?? memory) in 30 years are close to Hansen's call.

Remember we also have to deal with growing population and increased bicycling & walking will make them/us live longer > higher population.

Best Hopes,


1/3rd to 1/4th less coal burned/MWh is economically feasible.

Not good enough. The plant lifetime is on the order of fifty years. Replacing an old plant that isn't too far from the end of its lifecycle, with a newer albet somewhat more efficient one, saddles us with decades more emissions. At a minimum we need to require any new plants to be CCS retrofit compatable. Of course few of us hold out much hope for CCS, but we should avoid any extra obstacles to it's use.

Hopefully, any new coal plants will be put to occasional seasonal use within 2 to 3 decades. Massive heatwave (courtesy of GW may be more common, but not every summer) mainly.

It is a judgment call.

But to the extent coal is burned, it should be burned efficiently. And we are going to burn some coal for quite a while :-(


Hi Alan,

The time to draw that line in the sand is now. What will a new coal-fired power plant cost? I'm guessing it's something in the order of $4,000.00 per kW or more. We should be thus asking ourselves what else could we do with that money. Well, perhaps offer a $1,000.00 rebate on a high efficiency central air system, a $200.00 rebate on an Energy Star refrigerator or a $100.00 rebate on a front load washer. Or we could help an industrial facility replace their motors with more efficient units, install a heat recovery ventilation system at a hospital, or upgrade the lighting at a local college. Surely we can find any number of ways to replace coal power at a much lower cost and put a stop to the environmental harm caused by this fuel.


Surely we can find any number of ways to replace coal power

Kentucky is almost exclusively coal fired (some NG for peaking), Alabama is coal plus nuke and a decent % of hydro, Ohio, etc.

Coal is about half of US generation (from memory) but far more than half in many areas.

When will, under the BEST circumstances, Kentucky burn it's last ton of coal ? 30+ years from now.


BTW, I can see how the USA + Canada can move to a 90% non-FF grid in 30 years (I assume 30% reduction in total demand via conservation/efficiency. Given population growth that is about as much as is realistic). That last 10% is intractable.

IMO, it is best if Kentucky burns that coal as efficiently as possible, and uses electricity, and all energy, as efficiently as possible.

The US is still rich enough to invest in both efficiency in generation and consumption (some consumption will suffer). I do not see an "either/or" choice.


The US is still rich enough to invest in both efficiency in generation and consumption (some consumption will suffer). I do not see an "either/or" choice.

Hi Alan,

No question, the areas you've identified will have a difficult time breaking away from coal. Nonetheless, as I stated before, replacing old coal-fired generation with new, more efficient coal plants only perpetuates our dependency on this fuel well into the future.

Given the enormous pressure to keep electricity rates low (the battle cry of coal lobbyists everywhere), I do see this as an either-or situation. I would propose to you that it would be better to invest whatever funds are available in energy efficiency, alternative energy, industrial co-generation and the like; dollar for dollar, I'm convinced this will eliminate more coal and we can achieve this goal in far less time.


Alan it doesn't matter.
Efficiency only pays off if we sequester an amount of CO2 equal to or greater than what we WOULD have used if we had carried on as normal.

Like the oil, it is all going to get sent into the biosphere.
If you use an efficient car or walk or cycle it just leaves more there for Joe to put in the SUV.
If we turn to electricity because oil is running low or less available the same principal applies.......if you use less it just enables Joe to carry on as usual until he can't.

All the windmills, nuclear, hydro, solar, battery cars are not helping the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in the slightest. It's just enabling us to continue full bore burning FF's for longer.

So we need to be honest with ourselves. Until we pump less oil AND at the same time use less oil, the same for coal and gas, no matter how efficient we are, it is meaningless. While we produce at peak and use at peak, what is the use of being efficient (with concern to the environment).

In a myopic BAU fixated world, sequestration is the only workable solution I can think of.

The only effective sequestration is that which nature has already used. We have to learn to leave all fossil "fuels" in the ground.

Maybe I should have said, "if sequestration can be made viable then it is the only solution I can think of". I don't believe in engineering solutions. Like you I also believe leaving the stuff in the ground is best.

That is most certainly not going to happen though, we'll try anything and everything before considering abstinence.

Re: Interview with Bob Hirsch - The Stonewalling of Peak Oil

I read the original Hirsch report and thought that the document was a good summary of the upcoming oil supply problem.

The U.S. DOE seems to be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. After years of running computer simulations of future oil production for oil companies, I thought they must have been getting their information from Mars or someplace, because it bore no relationship to the data I was working with here on Earth.

people in the hierarchy of DOE, under both administrations, understood that there was a problem and suppressed work in the area.

I suppose that was how the bureaucrats arrived at their inflated projections of future oil production - the ostrich approach. They stuck their head in the sand and hoped that the problem would go away somehow, because otherwise the consequences were too horrible to think about.

For instance, they regularly project that the ongoing 35-year decline in U.S. oil production will miraculously stop next year, and production will start to go back up. And when that doesn't happen, they project the same thing again for the year after. Or they claim that there are huge amounts of oil to be found in the Arctic (I worked for a company that ran a drilling fleet of 26 ships up there, and all we found was a lot of lucrative tax write-offs.)

But for ordinary people, who may not have a secure job and a cozy retirement plan to look after them, maybe more realistic projections would be worthwhile. Then they could, for instance, plan to not buy a car with more than four cylinders, or trade down to a smaller house with wood heating. However, that would not go over well in corporate America because American companies don't make any profits on small cars or small houses.

This article is shocking! I knew that the DOE did not want to rock the boat but I had no idea they would be so direct about it:

The problem for people at NETL—and these are really good people—was that they were under a good deal of pressure to not be the bearers of bad news.....
Short Snip
After that, visibility apparently got so high that NETL was told to stop any further work on peak oil.

I think that about covers it. The same policy pervades throughout the government, under both republicans and democrats. Paint a pretty picture of everything therefore the optimism of the people will create the push that eventually makes everything okay. Peak oil and the huge mounting personal and government debt means nothing, optimism will push us over the top anyway.

Except....it really doesn't work that way.

Ron P.

I second this - quite interesting to get some background info on his thinking on and about his (Hirsch-)report. I've always been under the impression that report was ordered by GWB ... but not so.( Why that impression - I don't know)
I find this snippet revealing :

... This is nothing negative about people [at NETL], but when you’re thinking about other things most of the time, bad news creeping up on you doesn’t necessarily capture your attention immediately.

We really do have problems with walking the stairs and at the same time chew our gum.

Ron -- the following point is a little dated (early 90's) but I'm pretty sure it's still valid. From former classmates working with the USGS the workflow was quit simple: here's the answer "we" want...now adjust your models accordingly. I doubt this comes as a surprise to most here.

Thanks Rockman, I guess that explains why the predictions for new oil discoveries coming from the USGS over the last fifteen years or so has been so overly optimistic. They saw waht was needed to be found so that what they predicted would be found.

That reminds me of a cartoon I once saw. The boss was handing an underling a sheet of paqer and the caption read: Here is the gist of what I want to say, now get me the data that proves it.

Ron P.

here's the answer "we" want...now adjust your models accordingly

Thanks. I was wondering how the USGS arrived at their oil reserves estimates. It didn't seem to involve any credible geological concepts that I was aware of.

After all, I was involved in a multibillion dollar, multiyear drilling program in the Canadian Arctic. We didn't find anything worthwhile. When the USGS came up with their Arctic reserves estimate, they seemed to remove everything we drilled from the model, and then assumed that everything we hadn't drilled was more like the Alaska North Slope.

Well, no, we weren't drilling for our own amusement. We evaluated all the prospects and drilled everything that seemed likely. We were wrong, and when we ran out of prospects, we quit. People (particularly governments) were still willing to give us money, but we had nowhere left we could sink a drill bit with some credible chance of getting a good find.

I've always wondered why the models for oil depletion that I have come up with, for example, the oil shock model and dispersive discovery, weren't derived earlier. The fact that the DOE, USGS, NETL and other agencies would actively suppress their scientists findings would mean that probably all sorts of useful models would not see the light of day. The models are quite simple and I am not necessarily that smart, just persistent, so this all kind of makes sense. The only thing is, I would have bet money it was the big players in the oil industry that would be more active in suppressing this information, not the government. I guess they were all equal partners in the masquerade.

How's that for a conspiracy theory?

I don't think that the oil industry would have much interest in suppressing the message that oil is going to be in short supply. It doesn't do them any good to suppress that information.

More likely culprits are the automobile industry, because if people thought that gasoline and diesel were going to be in short supply, they might stop buying SUVs. Of course, they have done so now, but that's after the price shot up and people were stuck with big gas guzzlers they can't sell.

Other culprits are the politicians from energy-producing states, because facing the facts would divert a lot of money effort away from drilling dry holes in their jurisdictions and into alternatives.

I went to the EIA Conference last year and this year and my impression is that at some level (I'm not sure where that is), the "bad news aversion switch" gets thrown.

The example I love to use (and it's not the only one) is to go look at the International Energy Outlook for years prior to 1996 and look at some of the predictions for the North Sea as an example. You find that the EIA called the peaks for the UK and Norway pretty much correctly. Then suddenly they changed and kept talking about the UK peak occurring in the 2007-2010 time frame when it was already clear that 1999 (their original prediction) was correct. It was only last year that they quit cutting and pasting the same wrong statements from the previous IEO's and just kinda ignored the issue altogether.

Somebody, somewhere, made that decision some time ago and no one changed it until recently.

Then they could, for instance, plan to not buy a car with more than four cylinders, or trade down to a smaller house with wood heating.

The size of the house is irreverent! It is only the energy that it takes to live in it that matters. I would rather have people live in 4000 sq ft super-insulated houses than 1000 sq ft poorly insulated crackerboxes.
Also, heating with wood is really not a very good choice. Cut split wood is the most expensive form of energy if you have to buy it and as you get older you find you can no longer handle the rigors of chainsawing, hauling, splitting, stacking, etc....
Much better to put in a geothermal heating system.

The size of the house is irreverent!

Wrong. The size and geometry of the house do matter.

McMansions also tend to have complex shapes that maximize surface area (and window area).

An uninsulated 1,000 ft2 apartment with one exposed wall will likely use less energy than your super-insulated, complex shape, picture window McMansion.

An apartment, or even a simple rectangular duplex, with minimum recommended insulation and 8% window area will certainly beat your McMansion.

4,000 ft2 McMansions also take up more land area and make EVERYTHING further away, increasing VMT and indirect energy use.

Best Hopes for Small homes with common walls in walkable neighborhoods,


First, I gotta say I hate apartments and hotels with upstairs neighbors....

but, I agree with most of your observations. My house has beautiful windows that are difficult to put decent blinds on, let along storm windows, as they have arched tops. I have way too many peaks on the roof (which are leak-prone as well as expensive and inefficient), too much perimeter versus area, and have brick exposure on the hot SW corner (nice in the winter days, but no easy way to shade it during the summer, nor insulate it during cold nights).

I have two doors opening onto the back porch -- one would do nicely -- for yet another hard-to-insulate point. Some attic areas are inaccessible without surgery, so even adding more insulation is hard.

And mind is fairly modest, size-wise, and fairly decent layout-wise -- I skipped over many which were much worse before picking this "adequate" example.

Still, I'm making headway on efficiency improvements, and my daughter and a friend have discovered the wonders of biking to all the city amenities less than mile away.

"Cut split wood is the most expensive form of energy if you have to buy it..."

That is false, at least where I live. Here, even if you have to buy it, wood is half the cost of fossil fuels.

I agree that handling cord wood may not be that easy, but it does at least put you in touch with where your heat comes from. (when was the last time anyone personally handled fuel oil, propane, etc.?)

"Much better to put in a geothermal heating system."

Geothermal systems are not a cure-all. There are situations where a geothermal system would not be a good choice. And they still use a lot of electricity, which tends to be expensive in many places...
I do like them in many situations, but not in all.


And, small geothermal.

But, it requires building a new house...


just wondering if you really meant to say "irreverent"? That's a head scratcher.

Several McMansions were built near us in the last 3-4 years. I agree they are better insulated, with at least R30 or R49 in the ceilings and R19 or better in the walls, 2x6 construction, triple pane low-E windows, etc. But their internal volume (plus vaulted ceilings) and window area would make them quite expensive to heat. During last winter's ice storm, one such household near us decided to weather the outage at home. Even with the fireplace going full tilt they couldn't keep a single room above 40F, while our smaller house with an old woodstove stayed over 60F on the main floor. It might meet code, but just because a home is recently constructed doesn't mean it is energy efficient.

Last I checked, cut, split wood is about half the cost of oil up here (near Boston) and 1/4 of the cost of electric resistance heat. Not sure about natural gas, as that is probably the most economical FF available to us here.

But I completely agree with geothermal if you can afford it. A good friend of mine has one with a new energy efficient house and manages to heat and cool it for about half of what I spend on heat alone. Air-sourced heat pumps should also be on the list.


I don't know much about heat pumps but I am under the impression that an air source heat pump is just about worthless in really cold weather but fairly efficient at about forty farenheit and up.

Somebody set me straight if I am wrong.


OK, Alan won't be the only one bursting into flames ! High efficiency inverter systems work down to at least -15C and in most cases -20C (-4F). However, at least one I know continues to provide a good amount of heat, economically, at -30C/-22F (see: http://www.mitsubishielectric.ca/en/hvac/zuba-central/index.html). Even in our cold northern climate, a high efficiency air source heat pump will supply two and a half to three kWhs of heat for every one kWh consumed (and more south of the border).


Hi Paul,

It was you I was thinking about when mentioning the air sourced units. They are still on my short list, but behind another round of air sealing and insulation. I guess the trick is the multi-stage compressors, something the earlier heat pumps didn't have. You've had a full season or two now; do they continue to be as efficient for you?


Hi Chris,

Insulation and proper air sealing are critically important, so I'm pleased to hear you've made this your first order of business. We've had our Friedrich unit for four years now and the Sanyo for a little less than one, and I couldn't be more pleased with their performance. The Sanyo is a high efficiency inverter model, which means the compressor increases and decreases its speed in relation to its load, thereby minimizing standby losses and ensuring peak efficiency over a wide range of operating conditions. If you decide to purchase a ductless heat pump, make sure it's an inverter model with a HSPF rating of 9.5 or better.

With the addition of this second unit and the installation of our electric water heater, our fuel oil consumption is virtually nil. During extremely cold weather, I'll fire-up the boiler and circulate hot water through the pipes for five or ten minutes before heading off to bed, but that's simply to prevent the pipes from freezing where they run through exterior walls; if I were to add anti-freeze to the lines, this requirement would be eliminated as well.

Now that our home is basically all-electric, our most recent twelve month rolling average stands at 13,257 kWh, an average of just over 1,100 kWh per month -- this covers our space heating and cooling, DHW and various plug loads including my home office. Our [Energy Star] dehumidifier has been in more or less continuous operation all summer and that, in itself, draws about 400 kWh per month (its reign of terror spans from April through October). The previous owners used 5,700 litres of heating oil a year and some 14,000 kWh of electricity, so we've effectively eliminated all of the former and we're still keeping under the latter. In light of the size and age of our home, as well as the realities of our cold Canadian climate, we're doing not too badly.


Thanks, Paul. It sounds like you've made some solid improvements. My friend's ground-sourced unit here is averaging about 10,000 kWh/year by itself, so if you've hit 13,000 or so for overall electric usage you're doing very well, without having to invest in the loop installation.

I haven't seen the term 'inverter' used in this context before. I guess this means a variable frequency drive run by inverter circuitry. But I'm surprised that a single stage compressor can create the temperature differential needed to generate warm air in winter. I know scroll compressors are a lot more efficient; maybe that's what it uses...


Are there any smallish, single room window mounted units? I am thinking about climates like I am in now, where temps below +5C are rare, and the total heating demand just wouldn't justify on a cost basis the larger units. If one of these could displace some fraction of the need (in addition to some passive solar), it could make a substantial diference. I am amazed that California is one of the larger states for natural gas space heating, and perhaps significant amounts of NG could be freed up.

Hi EoS,

There are window and through-the-wall units such as this Friedrich: http://www.friedrich.com/products/ModelOverview.php?model=YS09L10

The operating range of window units is more limited (e.g., below +3C/37F, this one switches on its backup electric strips) and its efficiency won't be quite as good, but in a milder climate such as your own, its performance could very well be perfectly acceptable. Of course, as with any window air conditioner, there are a few drawbacks -- e.g., they won't be as quiet as a ductless unit; they block the operation of your window; visually, they're a bit in your face; there can be air infiltration issues; you may not have a dedicated circuit, in which case you have to balance its demands with those of the other appliances that share this same circuit; and it may make your home more vulnerable to break-ins.

I'm believe Alan from the Big Easy has a Friedrich window unit and he could provide you with a real-world assessment of its capabilities. On balance, it may not be a bad way to go, particularly for those who rent.


I used an earlier version for years when I rented.

First and foremost, they were the most efficient window air conditioner available (mine was EER (not SEER) 12, latest are slightly lower). When renting, I put it on a back window in bedroom, sealed it properly and used it in late afternoon on the coldest nights (say 29 F, typical coldest of year) and switched to gas space heat as temperatures fell. It got morning sun (no PM sun) so I would use it to warm things up if I was home after 7:30 AM on coldest mornings.

I used an outdoor thermometer to gauge when to run.

On cool evenings (forecast >38 F), I used it as primary heat. Left bathroom uncomfortably cool, but hot water from bath would heat it right up (indirect NG heat). Kitchen and living room also cool, but cooking would heat one up a bit (learned to set crock pot going with tomorrow's meal when forecast was for a cold night) and I just avoided the living room when cold.

In summer, it worked out well. Bedroom coolest, acceptable elsewhere. On hottest days (98+ F) I would let it run all day if away to keep other rooms cool. It used a bit over 600 watts, so circuit was not overloaded if shared (mine was dedicated 220 V that I converted to 120 V).

I plan to mount it in my new house this fall.

Best Hopes,

Winter after Katrina, I still has no NG, so I used electric space heater blowing on my face on low. Bitch to get up on cold morning, taking a shower or bath in cold water was ...

In Maine at least cut split wood is cheaper than heating oil. Wood even if you buy cut split is a lot of work and creates substantial air pollution. We have 60 acres with all the wood I could ever burn. I enjoy splitting wood, cutting less so, so wood work for me. I do want to increase our passive solar etc to use less.

The size of the house is irreverent! It is only the energy that it takes to live in it that matters. I would rather have people live in 4000 sq ft super-insulated houses than 1000 sq ft poorly insulated crackerboxes.

No, that's not actually true. You must have been talking to a real estate agent or something.

The physics of heat transfer depend on surface area, and all things being equal, the surface area of a 4000 sq ft house will be roughly 3 times the surface area of a 1000 sq ft house. If you assume equal values of insulation (e.g. R20 walls and basement, R40 ceilings), the bigger house will take 3 times as much fuel to heat/cool.

In reality, it would probably be worse than that because the typical 4000 sq ft McMansion deviates further from the ideal square shape and has all kinds of funky architectural features that increase the surface area and therefore the heating/cooling requirements.

Note that I'm not talking about a "poorly insulated crackerbox" here, I'm talking about a small, tight, square, two-story house with maximum insulation and triple-glazed glass. If you buy a smaller house with the same income, you have more money available to budget for insulation and other energy-saving details - and to replace the SUV with an ultra-fuel efficient car.

The real estate agents don't normally bring these kinds of issues up in their sales talks.

heating with wood is really not a very good choice. Cut split wood is the most expensive form of energy

Well, maybe where you are, but I have a chainsaw and a forest out back of the house.

In fact, around here people will pay YOU $200 for cutting down their dead pine tree for them and burning it in your fireplace to dispose of it. It's hard to beat for cost-effectiveness.

However, I normally use natural gas because it's more convenient. It's also cheap because I have an ultra-high efficiency gas furnace and ultra-thick insulation in my cozy little cottage.

"The size of the house is irreverent!"

Only in a super-religious nation like USA could this apply. I've never come across any "Irreverent" house, except the occasional brothel or tavern. Maybe pornshops also qualify.

Would "Irrelevant" perchance be the word you were seeking??

My house is very irreverent. It's full of atheists. ;-)

This would be somewhat off topic, except that we do discuss economics and its intersection with energy quite frequently here on the DB. Furthermore, in the field of economics we see exactly the same phenomenon as this thread identifies in the field of energy: policy being made on the basis of flawed models that are based upon incomplete information and that ignore critical factors, all tended by a revolving-door bureaucracy that maintains and guards the received orthodoxy (which happens to dovetail nicely with the poltical interests of powerful corporate factions).

Thus, I direct your attention to this hugely important paper by Dirk J Bezemer: "No One Saw This Coming": Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models

Finally, someone in the economics profession is noting what I have been saying for years: the absolute insanity of trying to run national economic policies with reference only to national income accounts, and with no reference whatsoever to a balance sheet or flow of funds. Running a business that way is almost guaranteed to result in hugely bad decisions and ultimate bankruptcy. It should be little surprise that we are on the same pathway at a macro economic level.

We have had a lot of discussion here about the transition to a steady-state, zero growth economy, and indeed about the inevitability of a sustained period of economic decline until we can level off at a sustainable level in the post-peak-energy world. I would like to add to the author's observations my own: In declining and zero-growth economies, attention to the national balance sheet becomes a matter of far more importance than it does with growing economies. When economies are growing, there is room for a lot of mistakes in national balance sheet management to simply be covered over and ignored. That is not the case with declining or zero growth economies. In those cases, asset values must be preserved and not wasted, while debt must be liquidated and not allowed to expand. Nations that do not keep a sharp eye focused on their national balance sheet and manage it rigorously in accord with these fundamental principles will quickly find themselves in huge trouble, and probably permanently much poorer than they need otherwise be. This obviously has an energy angle as well, for energy is an important asset on the left side of the balance sheet. Squander it rather than conserve it - and especially squander non-renewable energy resources without investing in renewable substitutes - and the nation is inevitably headed toward a steep energy and economic descent.

There is a good summary of the article in the Financial Times today. A couple of quotes:

Official models missed the crisis not because the conditions were so unusual, as we are often told. They missed it by design. It is impossible to warn against a debt deflation recession in a model world where debt does not exist. This is the world our policymakers have been living in. They urgently need to change habitat.

Central to the contrarians’ thinking is an accounting of financial flows (of credit, interest, profit and wages) and stocks (debt and wealth) in the economy, as well as a sharp distinction between the real economy and the financial sector (including property). In these “flow-of-funds” models, liquidity generated in the financial sector flows to companies, households and the government as they borrow. This may facilitate fixed-capital investment, production and consumption, but also asset-price inflation and debt growth. Liquidity returns to the financial sector as investment or in debt service and fees.
It follows that there is a trade-off in the use of credit, so that financial investment may crowd out the financing of production. A second key insight is that, since the economy’s assets and liabilities must balance, growing financial asset markets find their counterpart in a growing debt burden. They also swell payment flows of debt service and financial fees. Flow-of-funds models quantify the sustainability of the debt burden and the financial sector’s drain on the real economy. This allows their users to foresee when finance’s relation to the real economy turns from supportive to extractive, and when a breaking point will be reached.

Such calculations are conspicuous by their absence in official forecasters’ models in the US, the UK and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In line with mainstream economic theory, balance sheet variables are assumed to adapt automatically to changes in the real economy, and can thus be safely omitted. This practice ignores the fact that in most advanced economies, financial sector turnover is many times larger than total gross domestic product; or that growth in the US and UK has been finance-driven since the turn of the millennium.

A final comment: It was those outside of the official establishment, those not committed to the received wisdom of orthodox models and methodology, who correctly predicted the present economic crisis - the one that "no one saw coming". Anybody see something similar with regard to energy?

In terms of USA economic policy, the financial industry has the upper hand-the defence industry and big pharma are also players. IMO there isn't anyone even attempting to look out for the overall health of the USA economy, which is why it is on track for implosion eventually. All groups are attempting to feather their own nests-economists by and large are owned by the financial industry.

Which leads to the conclusion that just as we would be wise to discount and disregard the official orthodoxy with regard to energy, so would we also be wise to discount and disregard the official orthodoxy with regard to the economy. Truth is to be found not in government and corporate propaganda, but amongst dissident voices on the periphery and margins.

"Truth is to be found not in government and corporate propaganda, but amongst dissident voices on the periphery and margins."

The trouble is, the signal-to-noise ratio is low on the periphery.

That's why The Oil Drum is so valuable - here, every proposal and assertion is subject to robust (but civilized!), reasoned analysis from many angles.

(Off topic, I encourage all readers to donate to keep TOD running, if you haven't done so this year. Value given for value received.)

Good paper. It also indirectly explains why many people (non economists like myself, many “bloggers and pundits” - given a snooty sniff in the paper - commentators on TOD, my dentist, etc.) did see it coming - an accounting and flow perspective even if somewhat intuitively implemented is all that is (was) needed.

As for the fact that the mainstream did not see it coming - Certainly, BAU was the consensus that was adhered to and people toed the line. But predicting the future with some accuracy confers tremendous advantage to those (individuals or smaller groups, collections of ppl who are in contact or cahoots across boundaries) who make them, and not sharing them is the no. 1 condition for garnering advantage. One might then ask, post hoc, who were the winners? One possible, vague, answer is “the banks and wall street”, (not all banks) exactly what Joe and Jane 6 think; at the same time, the precise group best placed to accurately perceive the situation. I wouldn’t care too much for elaborating or shoring up this thought, just throwing it out there.

Even among those who did see it coming, none mentions the "energy bubble". You'd have thought that a 20% per year increase in oil prices would attract the attention of some of them! There are a number of quotes (from those who didn't see it coming) in Bezemer such as this from a 2006 IMF report: “little evidence (..) to suggest that the expected or likely market corrections in the period ahead would lead to crises of systemic proportions”, which suggests that many economists didn't see that a highly complex society might be more vulnerable to economic shocks. In fact, in a quote from Alan Greenspan he talks about how "increasingly complex financial instruments have contributed to the development of a far more flexible, efficient, and hence resilient financial system". So, not only do we have a complex, but fragile system, but we have one that depends heavily on future growth to pay back current debts.

Thanks for finding this article.

I sense that the finance models failed big-time in two separate domains. For one, whoever did the accounting model for the federal government did a poor job of projecting the direction of the economy. Put blame on Greenspan who admitted (in so many words) that his models were missing some fundamental logic.

The other group of models were the ones put forward by the Wall Street quants who ignored the possibility of fat-tail risk and black swan statistics, ala Taleb and Mandelbrot. There was just an article in the WSJ today (sorry no online availability unless you have a subscription) on this subject, and how many of the funds are transitioning from normal statistics to fat-tail statistics.

Interesting that fat-tail statistics is bad for making sound investments but that they it can work to advantage for the possibility of finding new oil discoveries or large reservoirs. Indeed, these are all unorthodox models. The models for oil resources such as dispersive discovery and dispersive aggregation certainly inhabit the bounds of fat-tail statistics. It is turning out that the idea of normal statistics doesn't work well for a huge span of problems.

As the WSJ article says, the fat-tail math isn't necessarily that easy and straightforward and that is apparently why no one has really used it that much in the past (I would disagree a bit with that sentiment).

Japan’s Next Premier Vows to Cut Emissions Sharply

...saying it was contingent on similarly ambitious goals by other major polluters.

"After you. Nonono, I insist."

Japanese saying: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. So he's happy to be in the group but not a real leader, just like most politicians.

oil 5% up today. its a volatile old world!

yup - oil is up !
Just a general hint to TODers - If you like to follow the oil-prices Real-Time dukascopy is a brilliant place to get impressive charts.

To zoom and scale this chart - Click OPTIONS (upper right corner), and a popup-box appears, now ..
1- Set UNITS to 500
2- Play around with the Time-interval as you like.

Re: The Shale Gas Debate

Lessons from the Barnett Shale suggest caution in other shale plays
By Arthur Berman

The following Drilling Info rebuttal is actually somewhat nuanced, and they do have some areas of agreement with Berman.


I was thinking about overshoot.

Current estimates for the sustainable human population are about one-tenth our current population. This has to do with what the ecology can support based on what humans need. We have overshot the ecological carrying capacity by an order of magnitude.

But what about our social carrying capacity? Our ability to work with our fellow humans for mutual benefit? Such as being able to provide each other shelter, food, clothing, water, and things to do that humans can tolerate while breathing and sleeping and living our lives.

Estimates of how much individual effort we needed to support a tribe are about three to five hours of work per person per day.

We currently sustain a human society which to most people is at least tolerable, tolerable if you have your drugs and iPod, and cheap transportation to the people you like as opposed to the people you live around. But to sustain this society using cheap energy, we expend between three and five hundred hours of human equivalent work per person to sustain each indiviudal, through fossil fuels.

Have we overshot the environmental carrying capacity by a factor of 10 and overshot our social carrying capacity by a factor of 100?

I recommend a careful reading of this book to understand overshoot and its likely consequences:

William R. Catton, Jr.
Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse
Xlibris Corporation, 2009

Thanks for the tip SolarDude. I read "Overshoot" several years ago, and then read it again. I have ordered and given away a couple of copies of it. I just ordered this new book by Catton. I did not even know he had one out.

Overshoot was written in 1980 and is just as current today as it was then. Catton coined the term "die-off", or at least made it popular. Jay Hanson dropped the hyphen and used the term for his web site, dieoff.org. "Superstraws" was another term coined by Catton in Overshoot. He likened them to a person becoming more efficient in filling out bank withdrawal slips and believing this increased the amount of your wealth.

Ron P.

Catton also used the terms detritivors and homo collosus to describe our species. I think you'll find from reading Bottleneck that he is clearly in the Jay Hanson camp as regards our future prospects.

I really enjoyed this Catton "Bottleneck" video interview:


He's definitely in the Hanson camp, but he states so soothingly/ anesthetically.

It never ceases to amaze me how these discussions of population, overshoot, depletion trumping technology, superstraws, Jevons, limits to growth have been completely analyzed a full generation+ before today and here we are living it, probably rehashing 90%+ of what has been said before, still crippled by the same handful of human delusions. (*neuroscience/ethology are only really new ground)

Current estimates for the sustainable human population are about one-tenth our current population.

Well, some people throw out figures like that, but I haven't seen any rigorous research to support or refute that. It is pretty clear that we are or soon will be in overshoot territory, but the jury is still very much out on what the earth's carrying capacity actually is - or what it will be after we finish messing it up.

Part of it depends upon time frame, too. We know that human populations on earth can't be sustained for more than a few billion years at most, because the sun will eventually go red giant on us. We might hit a critical shortage of P long before that. Except for possibly a few extremophiles and cyanobacteria, we really don't have any precedent for any species surviving for more than a billion years or so, and for multi-celluar organisms, quite a bit shorter than that. Our species has only been around for a few hundred thousand years at most, and many species never manage much more than that. Thus, I am more inclined to worry about the next few thousand years, rather than hundreds of thousands or millions or billions of years into the future. If you frame the question in terms of thousands of years, what might be a sustainable carrying capacity may in fact look quite a bit better than what we would be facing on a much longer-term basis.

King's "Farmers of Forty Centuries" documents how a fairly high density population of people lived more or less sustainably for over 4000 years. I don't know if they could have kept it up forever (presuming that the populations of East Asia continued to be kept in check by the usual dismal means), but nothing is forever. They probably could have kept it up for quite a good while longer. I don't know if we can or should try to replicate that across the world today, or to what extent it is feasible. I do wonder, though, if the carrying capacity even of a degraded earth might not be quite a bit higher than what some commentators are assuming.

WNC Observer,I suggest you pay attention to the next 10 or 20 years,not the next 1 or 2 thousand, because this is when the chickens are going to come home to roost as a result of all the excessive breeding that has been going on.

There is no doubt that the present global population is unsustainable.Arguing about the sustainable level is a waste of time as Gaia is going to decide that in the absence of a sufficient level of sapience in the naked ape.

..Gaia is going to decide..

I thot She had already decided that she was cold and missed the balmy days of ice free poles of the mid-Cretaceous and didn't want to wait on volcanic outgassing to liberate the carbon and so had evolved a clever ape to oxidize the carbon in short order and thus take the chill off. That's what I'd heard, anyway.

Seems to be working ;-)

Yup. Her's is a canny old planetary consciousness, to be sure.

Lovelock must be laughing his ass off over the anthropomorphization of his concept, which as he presented it was nothing more than a poetic rendition of accepted biogeochemical cycling theory. It's hilarious how newager types have mysticized his presentation.

I remember first hearing of the "Gaia Hypothesis" back in the 70's in the old CoEvolution Quarterly. As an ecologist (especially an ecologist in the 70's), I knew right then and there it would be New-Age-ified.

Lovelock knew that was a possibility, but went ahead with the "Gaia" label anyway. And here we are.

The "Daisy World" article. I remember that. CoEvolution Quarterly used to be a pretty good read back in the early '80s.

Daisy world got quite a bit of coverage in some of the alternative press which is where I first saw it.

CQ was a great read, and opened my mind to a lot of useful new ideas. But at the end of the day, Stewart Brand was (IS) a raging technocornucopian, and that sentiment took over as they went into "Whole Earth Review" mode (not sure what year that was).

I remember in the mid-70's CQ gave Gerard K. O'Neil most of an issue extolling the imminent and easy building of "Space Colonies", and the huge benefits to humanity therefrom. There followed an icredible series of open letters between Wendell Berry and SB about the desirability and possibility of such lunacy.

The burden of WB's position was "Stewart, you f***ing idiot, please don't tell me you've fallen for this insanity!" And SB was all "but we need to get off the planet." If you didn't catch that exchange, it's worth chasing down - a classic.

That was over 30 years ago, but the argument goes on. And I feel older.

We've learned quite a bit since the Last Whole Earth Catalog. Back then, there were lots of folks around Menlo Park that were associated with NASA and that was the time the Space Shuttle was being designed. Remember when the Shuttle was supposed to provide rapid turnaround and many launches each year? Well, the "technocornucopians" sure were wrong with that one. I think the latest dream of cheap access to space, the "Space Elevator", is similarly destined for failure...

E. Swanson

Oh yes, I remember it well... NASA was promoting "getaway specials", where you could put so many pounds into orbit for some ridiculously low price that was never to be. Of course, there were going to be a hundred shuttle launches a year. Oh my.

The "space elevator" is the same lunacy, only cubed. Why can't these people discern the difference between "theoretically possible" and "actually possible"? I thought engineers were supposed to provide that service.

It's all technohubris.

The Engineers don't produce the press releases. This task is left to the Spin-Doctors who are charged with ensuring the funding for the following year.

People are not adapted in space and don't belong there. We are adapted to live on earth. Robots are perfect for space. Those - and only those - are what we should be sending up.

Forget about "humanity leaving the planet to colonize space". Planets that are even potentially habitable via terraforming must be very few and far between, and may take more time for colonists to reach than the entirety of recorded human history to date. Why would the colonist population, assuming that against all odds they even ever manage to get "there" without fatal mishap, even want to get off the ship(s) and begin colonization, given that living on board has been all they have known for hundreds of generations? For them, by the time they get to the new planet, living on a planet (Earth) will be nothing more than an ancient myth. They might no longer even believe that their ancestors actually came from another planet or ever lived on one. And who would even volunteer to leave Earth, never to set foot on it again, and condemning countless generations of their descendants to not only never see Earth, but not to see the new planet either - to know nothing but life on board a space ship? And finally, how and why could the money ever be raised and expended on such a one-way adventure?

If we were truly "intelligent creatures" instead of the half-wits we really are, then we would be learning to be content with life on our home planet, and to appreciate and preserve it while we've got it. Maybe that is why "they aren't here yet", why we are not being visited by other intelligent life forms. Being more intelligent than us, they have better things to do.

It is nothing more than a Trekkie fantasy. They will terraform other planets and they don't even know how to terraform Vegas.

Vegas is already terraformed.

Besides, adaptation is our niche. It's what makes us so dangerous to every ecosystem on the planet.

Your list of reasons is why, if human genes will leave earth by known, demonstrated energy generation, man will do it by shipping out just the genetic material and 'grow' people on the next place.

To do that man will have to learn about what happens from the 1st cell division to the 9 month stage and how to actually educate fellow man to a 'produce productive members of society' state as examples of hurdles to overcome that in the process should be a net positive to all of Earthbound mankind.


Yes, we are going to see the beginnings of rough times over the next decade or two, and continuing for many decades - and maybe even centuries, thereafter. I have no idea exactly how this will all play out, but play out it will.

WNC - One of the primary factors in degrading the earth is the conversion of natural ecosystems to farmland, cities and the more recent innovation of monoculture farming. In the past those natural systems worked to keep the carbon cycle in the "optimal range" of 280 PPM. We have now passed 390 PPM and this rate is increasing exponentially. A decade after Kyoto we're burning more fossil fuels than before and as a result we have already passed several tipping points and there is little hope of getting ourselves back to where we came from.

It's estimated that the burning of fossil fuels is adding an additional 27,000 million tons of CO2 annually. If this much were frozen into solid CO2 @ -80 degrees C it would make a mountain one mile high and twelve miles in circumference. With massive deforestation, the warming of the oceans, and collapsing ecosystems there is nowehere to sequester it.

All of this worry about Peak Oil and sustainable development is a parlor game. Climate Change however is remorseless and most of the world doesn't yet have a clue.



Iexpect that climate change is going to be a very big deal indeed a few more decades down the road and I recognize that time is of the essence if we are going to do anything truly meaningful about it-which I doubt,sadly.

But WWIII ain't gonna be no PARLOR GAME,and peak oil may very well lead straight there.Even if we get by w/o a hot widespread war,the consequences may be bad enough to take even your mind off of cc.

I can't see any reason why those consequences might not include a die off of such a magnitude that industrial civilization is wiped out.That oughta take care of the RISING part of the co2 problem at least.

As I said, we're not done messing it up yet, and that will certainly take its toll on carrying capacity. I just don't think we really have a good, research-based handle on what that ultimate carrying capacity actually is or could be yet.

[code]Our ability to work with our fellow humans for mutual benefit?[/code]

To do this we must stop playing win/lose games. Look at how most people spend their money, how we are trained to spend money, lowest price which usually means win/lose. Buyer wins and vulnerable parts of the supply chain lose.

As part of our update to the top five paper, I'm working on production & consumption and net oil exports charts for three former net oil exporters--Indonesia, UK and Egypt (IUKE)--and for the 17 net oil exporters (17 NOE) showing a 2008 production decline relative to a recent peak. Some observations:


IUKE went from a combined production peak in 1996 to zero net oil exports in 2005. What is interesting is that the initial three year production decline rate and net export decline rate were low, -0.2%/year for production and -2.5%/year for net oil exports. The net export decline rate really steepened after that, with net oil exports hitting zero six years later.

And looking at just post-1980 data, the Cumulative Net Oil Exports (CNOE) show that as of their combined peak production year of 1996, they had shipped 82% of post-1980 CNOE, which means that if we consider the pre-1981 data, as of the 1996 combined production peak, IUKE's total CNOE were almost certainly 90% depleted.

Again, when Indonesia, the UK and Egypt collectively hit a production peak of 5.5 mbpd in 1996, it's a near certainty that they had already shipped more than 9 out of the 10 barrels of oil that they would ever (net) export.

This, more than anything else, illustrates the difference between Peak Oil and Peak Exports.

17 NOE

The 2005 to 2008 17 NOE production decline rate and net export decline rate were -1.9%/year and -3.9%/year respectively. Production went from 42.0 mbpd to 39.7 mbpd and net exports fell from 30.7 mbpd to 27.3 mbpd.

17 Net Oil Exporters Showing Production Declines
Production & Net Export Declines Per Year, Over the Referenced Time Frame, Are Respectively Shown (EIA, Total Liquids)

Larger NOE:

Saudi Arabia (2005-2008)
-1.0%/year (Prod.) & -2.7%/year (Net Oil Exports)
Russia (2007-2008)
-0.9%year & -2.4%/year
Norway (2001-2008)
-4.7%/year & -5.1%/year
Iran (2005-2008)
-0.5%/year & -3.4%/year
Nigeria (2005-2008)
-6.4%/year & -6.9%/year
Venezuela (1997-2008)
-2.6%/year & -4.5%/year
Mexico (2004-2008)
-4.7%/year & -13.5%/year

Smaller NOE:

Colombia (1999-2008)
-3.6%/year & -8.3%/year
Oman (2000-2008)
-3.1%/year & -4.4%/year
Malaysia (2004-2008)
-4.2%/year & -16.8%/year
Syria (1996-2008)
-2.4%/year & -5.5%/year
Vietnam (2004-2008)
-3.5%/year & -46.0%/year
Denmark (2004-2008)
-7.6%/year & -16.4%/year
Yemen (2001-2008)
-5.4%/year & -11.5%/year
Ecuador (2005-2008)
-1.7%/year & -4.4%/year
Gabon (1997-2008)
-3.7%/year & -3.8%/year
Equatorial Guinea (2005-2008)
-1.45%/year & -1.46%/year

Again, when Indonesia, the UK and Egypt collectively hit a production peak of 5.5 mbpd in 1996, it's a near certainty that they had already shipped more than 9 out of the 10 barrels of oil that they would ever (net) export.

Truly sobering.

Thanks for this update, WT.


Really some pretty amazing numbers for IUKE.

At the end of 1999, three years into the decline, production was down by less than 2%, from 5.5 mbpd to 5.4 mbpd. Net Oil Exports were down by 4%, from 2.3 mbpd to 2.2 mbpd. But at the end of 1999, they had shipped 53% of post-1996 CNOE--shipping one percent of post-1996 CNOE every 21 days.

At the end of six years (2002), they had shipped 89% of post-1996 CNOE.

At the end of nine years (2005), they had shipped 100% of post-1996 CNOE, as oil production fell by one-third relative to the 1996 peak.

The net export decline rate from 1999 to 2004 increased to -33.0%/year, from -2.5%/year in the 1996 to 1999 time frame.

The three case histories show that: (1) Net Export decline rates tend to exceed production decline rates; (2) Net Export decline rates tend to accelerate with time and (3) The bulk of post-peak Cumulative Net Oil Exports (CNOE) are shipped early in the decline phase, even as initial net export decline rates are low.

Sam's best case that nine years after the apparent 2005 peak, the top five net oil exporters will have shipped 50% of their post-2005 CNOE.

IHS CERA expects oil demand growth to resume by 900,000 barrels per day (bd) in 2010 and return to its 2007 high of 86.5 million barrels per day (mbd) by 2012-a five year turnaround

Good luck!

This is an article from 2007 about Commercial Building Energy Use of Leeds Certified buildings, that I ran across. I found it rather disturbing. It sounds as though Leeds Certified commercial buildings don't really save energy. In fact, there is some evidence they use more energy than other comparable buildings. I found this being discussed on the RESNET-BPI Energy Audit and Home Performance discussion site, so I think it is viewed as being an article based on facts.

A Better Way to Rate Green Buildings by Henry Gifford.

Therefore, what the data actually indicate is that the 22% of LEED buildings whose owners participated in the study and reported their energy data used an average of 29% more energy than the most similar buildings in the dataset that the study authors chose to use as a comparison! Going to so much trouble and expense to end up with buildings that use more energy than comparable buildings is not only a tragedy, it is also a fraud perpetuated on US consumers trying their best to achieve true environmental friendliness. Worse, by spending so many years without measuring anything, and then obscuring the truth when data is finally available, the USGBC has squandered the tremendous public good will that has accumulated behind the cause of environmentally friendly buildings. This shocking failure raises the question of what could go so wrong in buildings to produce results opposite to what so many people are trying to achieve.

The answer is that attention is focused on the appearance of energy efficiency, not its accomplishment. The LEED system does this by rewarding designers for predicting that a building will save energy, not for proving that a building actually saves energy.

The article talks about doing things like mounting solar panels where they are clearly visible from the street, instead of where they are best located to collect sun light.


You might find the paper at the link interesting. It was written by Randy Udall, one of the co-founders of ASPO-USA. He has been a critic of LEED for some time now:


"it is also a fraud perpetuated on US consumers" well it won't be the first or last one will it??

I wonder if this is a case of diet housing, that is, the same effect where knowing what you are using saves energy makes you lazy about using it. Or did the study norm for behaviors?


The EIA's new International Petroleum Monthly is just out. This has the June production numbers. I have not had time to digest them yet, or copy any of the data into my spreadsheets but just glancing at the data I noticed there have been some dramatic modifications. May production of C+C was listed at 71,802 kb/d last month. The new report has May production at 71,332 kb/d, a downward revision of 470 kb/d. June production is listed at 71,776 kb/d. That is down from last months unrevised data but up from last months revised data.

Yearly data for 2008 has been revised down another tad, from 73,709 kb/d to 73,706 kb/d so 2005 is still the peak year.

I will have a bit more to say about this month's report after I have had time to digest the data, probably tomorrow morning.

Ron P

The IPM data finds 2009 world crude production for the first half year down almost 2/m/b/d from 2008. June 2009 was down 2.2 m/b/d from June 2008. At present, world crude production is running behind 2004 production which is lower than any year since 2004 according to the EIA data.

I noticed that there is some slow creep to the numbers (not unusual).

Worth noting, particularly in the context of CERA's most recent prediction, is that C+C for calendar year 2008 is just lower than 2005 AND how much more of the total liquids peak of calendar year 2008 is something other than crude plus condensates.

As I pointed out on another site last month, the combination of NGL's and other liquids like ethanol probably "saved" (concealed) the real mismatch between production and demand.

I'm curious just where this other liquid growth that CERA (and others) see is supposed to come from given the current economic environment. We may not know that "the wall" has moved until all of a sudden that demand can't be met by supply and we can't/won't return to the levels previously produced, hoped for, predicted.

Chinese August vehicle sales surpass predictions:


Here is a post for Alan (from the Dallas Morning News Transportation blog):

Posted by saxman @ 1:42 PM Tue, Sep 08, 2009

I once talked to a girl that lives in Arlington. I told her how I rode the TRE to Dallas sometimes, and even use Amtrak quite often. Her response, "I didn't know trains could carry people?"

New Orleans News Story:

(AP) In a bizarre episode at New Orleans cafe, a New Orleans resident, identified as Alan Drake by eyewitnesses, spontaneously burst into flames, instantaneously decomposing into a pile of ashes, as he was reviewing a blog posting on the Internet, again according to eyewitnesses. Some witnesses claimed to hear him screaming "I can't take this any more," before spontaneously combusting.


I once talked to a girl that lives in Arlington

Arlington, Texas subsidized GWB's baseball team (those poor millionaires need a helping hand), AND it is the largest city in the USA without public transit (but not ANYONE without a car).

Arlington, Texas has a special place in my heart, now reinforced.

My TOD article; USA 2034


Arlington Texas is now the last American town over 100,000 without electrified public transportation (just as it was the only town without public buses 25 years ago). Needless to say Arlington is a dangerous, bankrupt slum and will soon slip below 100,000 population (at least those willing to be counted). The Texas Rangers moved from their Arlington stadium to a light rail hub over a decade ago so that fans could get to games.

Not Much Hope for Arlington,


PS: We have enough drunk Texas tourists here (42% of the automobiles that run into our streetcars have Texas plates#) that we are not as shocked as you may imagine by them.

# Real Statistic (from a decade ago)

Then of course you have towns like mine which once had a street car and local light freight lines. The last of the street car rails was just pulled up a few years back, after sitting idle for at least 60 years. I've ridden the bike trails that now replace the light freight line. Much of the street car line is now under an interstate, and much of the rest is under a municipal blacktop.

EDIT - here is why: "Providing fast, emissions-free, and convenient public transport, these electric railway lines permeated the area until their demise in the Transit Devastation era – when public policy, and a concerted campaign by the Highways, Inc. consortium of roadbuilders, petroleum marketers, motor vehicle vendors, and like-minded politicians engineered the dismantling of most of America's electric railway systems in favor of "motorizing" the population and enforcing a de facto dependency on private cars." Note that even in the 'good old days' these people played for keeps -- not only did they run trains out of business, but they made sure that it would never make sense to bring them back!

There is of course a feel-good map with a street-car plan, but that's not much for a city of almost 500,000. There is also a single-track rail that largely parallels one of the busiest highways in town - you'd think for the price of a parking lot and a station you could give light-rail a try.

We also have a 2-mile stretch of shopping that is very high-density store space....except for even higher-density parking and roads, which are always at a crawl. If ever there were a place to banish cars and have a walkable, bike-able, streetcar-able area this would be it....but you'd need a 10 story parking garage at each end!

Still, I'd go for it in a heartbeat. Subsidize home delivery from the big-box stores and you'd have it all.


"..World oil demand is set to grow next year for the first time since 2007 and return to pre-recession levels by 2012, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA) in its quarterly World Oil Watch report..."

-so riddle me this -how given the lack of investment caused by the credit crunch and general decline in supply is this NOT going to cause 'tight supply' leading to much higher prices, demand destruction and Recession 2.0?

$200+ oil here we come.


.... demand destruction and Recession 2.0?

$200+ oil here we come.

Make up your mind, you cannot have both at the same time.

Ron P.

We had both in 2008 because the recession began in December 2007, the price spike to $147 occurred in July 2008 and demand destruction built for the first half of the year and then kicked in hard in August 2008.

As long as people sacrifice discretionary spending in favor of energy consumption until economic carnage (job loss) forces enough of them to cut back, oil price shocks will repeat with the overshoot growing larger followed by the price collapsing and the economy adjusting to a new lower level. For each cycle the overshoot in price should rise higher because the surviving fossil energy consumers can tolerate a higher price. Each time the world demand for exported crude oil bumps up against the limit of world crude oil production, the cycle will repeat until demand is eliminated by doing without or switching to alternatives. Initially the OECD oil importing countries will receive the brunt of the economic carnage (transfer of wealth to the other countries as they buy the expensive oil), but eventually the economic carnage will spread to the developing countries (China & India) followed by the oil exporting countries. The economy is not too weak to withstand more oil price shocks because those price shocks are what would force it to new lower levels. Even the average price of crude oil will likely rise which will be apparent when the volitility is smoothed out of the data. Unless humans suddenly wise up to peak oil and convert, the world economy must be driven to use less crude oil somehow. High price and shortages are the only methods provided by a market system.

Not at the same time but sequentially:

a) $200+ oil
b) Recesion 2.0
c) $25 oil?


So, we have observed that a spread between 83.9 mbpd (today's levels) and 86.5 mbpd, a mere 2.6 mbpd, can create a spread in prices of something like $35/bbl (i.e. today's annual average WTI of around $55/bbl versus 2008 annual average of $90/bbl).

That's a pretty tight market. I don't see what is going to come along to loosen it up between now and 2012.

Of some interest - this peak oil statement from today's The Economist blog.

It seems our lad Robert is getting some press over at metafilter

In case any of you care.

In an article that's Off-Topic for TOD, there's a fascinating aside relating to belief systems and the brain - a topic Nate Hagens has discussed in some depth on this forum. People familiar with his ideas and links to the science behind them will recognize many of the elements here. Its relationship to Peak Oil, and why some people won't be swayed by the facts, are obvious.

Dick Lawrence

A Clash of Polar Frauds and Those Who Believe(and its relationship to Peak Oil)

A century later, the “discovery” of the North Pole may qualify as the most successful fraud in modern science, as well as the longest-running case study of a psychological phenomenon called “motivated reasoning.”

The believers who have kept writing books and mounting expeditions to vindicate Cook or Peary resemble the political partisans recently studied by psychologists and sociologists. When the facts get in the way of our beliefs, our brains are marvelously adept at dispensing with the facts.

(snip here)

...researchers who have studied both Democrat and Republican partisans using brain scans and other techniques.

When we contemplate contradictions in the rhetoric of the opposition party’s candidate, the rational centers of our brains are active, but contradictions from our own party’s candidate set off a different reaction: the emotional centers light up and levels of feel-good dopamine surge.

With our rational faculties muted, sometimes the unwelcome evidence doesn’t even register, and sometimes we use marvelous logic to get around the facts.

In one study, Republicans who blamed Saddam Hussein for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were presented with strong counterevidence, including a statement from President George W. Bush absolving Hussein. But most of the people in the study went on blaming Hussein anyway, as the researchers report in the current issue of Sociological Inquiry.

Some of the people ignored or rejected the counterevidence; some “counterargued” that Hussein was evil enough to do it; some flatly said they were entitled to counterfactual opinions. And some came up with an especially creative form of motivated reasoning that the psychologists labeled “inferred justification”: because the United States went to war against Hussein, the reasoning went, it must therefore have been provoked by his attack on Sept. 11.

The October Discover has an interesting article about bees. It argues that part of the problem with CCD, mites, etc., is that bees are so inbred. The genetic diversity of commercial hives is very low compared to feral colonies, and studies have shown that this leads to weak and unhealthy hives. Also, the life of a bee in a commercial hive is very unnatural. Rather than getting nourishment from a variety of sources, as they evolved to do, they spend their lives in one monoculture after another. Then live off corn syrup in winter. This leaves them short of the nutrients they would ordinarily get from a more varied wild diet.

One man, who worked for a large commercial apiary in Montana, got fed up, and drove home to rural Dutchess County, NY. He's collecting wild bees there, and trying to breed healthier colonies with more genetic diversity. And he's not doing it for the big commercial pollinators. He's doing it on his own, selling queens to local hobbyists, who will let the bees do what comes naturally. He wants to create an infrastructure of small-scale beekeepers.

Holy cow. I think I found the guy's Web site. Sounds like he might be a peak oiler...

Naw, he's just looking at the research on why the cell sizes were chosen (bigger bees mean more honey) VS the natural cell sizes.

To get natural cell sizes, he's chosen top bar hives. One can make top bar Langstrom hives if one wants.

I have been wondering if breeding livestock the way we do is such a good idea. They use one bull to impregnate many, many cows over the entire country (they mail order the semen). This would seem to cut down on genetic diversity quite a bit.

I could never figure out why on Dirty Jobs they always did everything artificially, even when they had the male and female animals on premisis. I'm pretty sure that a bull and a cow can figure out how to make a calf all on their own. Maybe this would allow a little more natural selection back into the system and make the population hardier. Of course, it must be less efficient in the short term, or they would just do it that way.

Because the bull could harm the cow.

Not all operations keep a bull about - extra mouth to feed and anger to manage.

That and the rate of conception is lower. An idle cow is money it seems.

A bit late in the Drumbeat day, but wondering what people know about peak oil awareness and/or coverage by Jeff Ball, environmental editor of The Wall Street Journal?

It strikes me as odd that the interview with Robert L Hirsh does not get any moe attention here. Excerpt:

The peak oil story is definitely a bad news story. There’s just no way to sugar-coat it, other than maybe to do what I’ve done on occasion and that is to say that by 2050 we’ll have it right and we will have come through the peak oil recession—quite probably a very deep recession.

All of it: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/50055

The stonewalling of all information about the Peak Oil Issue must have a cause other than just being hard to sell for a politician. The media clearly seems to be on contract here (not to blow the issue up to its proper proportion). It makes it impossible to sell to the public, and anyone who gets some attention for yelling "wolf", is being shot down immediately as a "conspirator".