Drumbeat: September 12, 2009

Oil Supply: As Russian Production Tops Out, World Supply Will Continue to Slip

Where would the world be without the extraordinary growth in Russian oil supply, this decade? Not in a good place, actually. Russia’s near 50% oil production increase since the year 2000 did a lot of heavy lifting. And it’s concerning that this very fast growth rate has now topped out.

North American crude oil production (Canada + US + Mexico) saw, during the current decade, its highest levels in 2003 at an annual average of 11.358 Mb/day. The high month of production that year was in September, at 11.450 Mb/day. In that year, 2003, the average price of oil was 31.08. But by 2008, North American crude oil production had fallen to 10.338 Mb/day. Thus, as the price of oil went from 31.08 in 2003 to the 2008 average of 99.67, North American crude oil production lost over a million bbls a day.

India: Dying of thirst

"As a country, we are going in the wrong direction with water," says Singh, whose state produces about 22 per cent of India's wheat (and, along with Haryana state, supplies more than 88 per cent of the country's emergency grain stocks). He toes a clump of dry, crumbly dirt. "We are running out of it, and crops are going to slow. We will see more hunger, more disputes and clashes. More theft."

Already, farmers are desperate.

And from desperation, it's a small step to violence.

New York City Braces for Risk of Higher Seas

NEW YORK -- When major ice sheets thaw, they release enough fresh water to disrupt ocean currents world-wide and make the planet wobble with the uneven weight of so much meltwater on the move. Studying these effects more closely, scientists are discovering local variations in rising sea levels -- and some signs pointing to higher seas around metropolitan New York.

Sea level may rise faster near New York than at most other densely populated ports due to local effects of gravity, water density and ocean currents, according to four new forecasts of melting ice sheets. The forecasts are the work of international research teams that included the University of Toronto, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., Florida State University and the University of Bristol in the U.K., among others.

China threatens to default on oil derivatives trades

About one year after the Lehman bankruptcy, we are getting rumors of more impending bankruptcies, this time from China.

The problem started last year when the price of oil dropped from $147 to $32 per barrel. Many companies use the futures markets to hedge their buying of oil. When prices skyrocket, they get scared and buy futures contracts for future delivery to lock in a price and to be assured of getting the product. So, some companies were buying oil at the height of the market last year. Companies that place hedges usually leave them on until delivery. What happened was that when the price of oil collapsed, these companies were still holding high-priced contracts. They saw the price plummet and took horrendous losses.

Ecuador says had no role in alleged bribery case

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Saturday his government had no involvement in an alleged bribery scheme linked to a $27 billion environmental damages lawsuit against U.S. oil company Chevron Corp.

The judge hearing the case, Juan Nunez, recused himself days after Chevron handed Ecuadorean and U.S. authorities a secretly recorded video of the magistrate talking of ruling against Chevron later this year.

"They've come up with some videos, but we are not going to fall into the trap," Correa said in a public address.

Iraq moves ahead on foreign oil tax

Iraq's parliament held an initial discussion yesterday of a bill that would impose a 35 per cent income tax on foreign oil and gas firms working in Iraq, lawmakers said.

Reliance’s $5.7 Billion Debt Cost Rising on Gas Delay

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. said its cost of paying about 280 billion rupees ($5.7 billion) of debt raised to develop India’s biggest gas field is increasing after it capped output waiting for the government to find new buyers.

Champagne and slums: In West Africa's oil giant, the rich-poor gap is a chasm

At the Megaplaza mall, a flat-screen TV taller than a man sells for $53,000, a crystal chandelier for $10,000. A 2009 survey by U.S. consulting firm Mercer finds Lagos pricier for expatriates than Berlin or Madrid.

Meanwhile, four-fifths of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day.

In this city of over 17 million, power shortages caused by neglect and mismanagement mean even rich areas only get a couple of hours of electricity a day. A fleet of diesel generators keeps the Megaplaza lights burning.

The wealthy import everything from refined gasoline for their Mercedes-Benzes to their children's favorite foods.

Algeria is developing oil sector to maintain level of output

Algerian authorities have begun a wide-scale operation for oil exploration and drilling in several regions in northern Algeria, Oil Minister Chekib Khalil said on Saturday.

China's August crude oil imports up 18 pct

TOKYO (KUNA) -- China's crude oil imports rose 18.0 percent in August from a year earlier to 18.47 million tons, or 4.37 million barrels a day (bpd), the Chinese government said Friday.

Imports fell 5.9 percent from July's 19.63 million tons (4.64 million bpd), according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on its Website.

Robert Bryce: Bird Kills? What Bird Kills?

But the ExxonMobil and PacifiCorp prosecutions bring up an obvious question: why aren’t wind power companies being prosecuted for their bird kills? A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, California, estimated the farm’s turbines were killing 80 golden eagles per year. Those birds are protected by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which was enacted in 1940. In addition to the eagles, the study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, estimated that about 10,000 other birds -- nearly all of which are protected under the MBTA – are being whacked every year at Altamont.

To recap: ExxonMobil was prosecuted for killing 85 birds over a five-year period. The wind turbines at Altamont, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, are killing more than 100 times as many birds as were Exxon’s tanks, and they are doing it every year. Furthermore, the bird kill problems at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since at least 1994.

Study Finds Risk to Some Birds Nesting Near Oil Fields in Alaska

As oil and gas companies press to tap new deposits in remote places, scientists are trying to gauge and limit the ecological impact of pipes and other structures in otherwise wild lands.

British environmentalists link with natives to fight oil sands

An anti-oil-sands partnership between a bank in Manchester, England, and a small Alberta First Nation may seem unlikely, but it's part of an increasing alliance between international environmental crusaders and Canadian aboriginals.

Environmental Ideas Put in Print With Select Audiences in Mind

Some might argue that Mr. Savitt’s original aim — “capturing knowledge” that would otherwise languish unshared — is obsolete in the Internet age, in which a vast quantity of information is available online.

But others say the proliferation of material online has made credible sources of environmental guidance all the more important.

Efforts to turn empty lots to a glass half full

Even as San Francisco's development scene continues to languish, city officials and at least one private landowner are exploring how to fill empty sites in creative ways - including art installations and a working farm.

"If you leave a blank landscape, that's an invitation to blight," said Matt Jacobs of Turnberry Lansing, the owner of 45 Lansing St., a Rincon Hill lot that also fronts Harrison Street. "It's better to do something that's interesting and that the neighbors like."

A Wooded Prairie Springs From a Site Once Piled High With Garbage

The site is not yet open to the public. Indeed, it is still listed by the state as a toxic waste site. But the air is clear and fresh.

“You can probably compare it with a day in the Alps,” Mr. Shelley said during a tour given to local residents by the city this summer. “We had hoped we would have a park. It’s turned out to be better than a park.”

Find Local Rideshares Quickly Via Mobile Phone

ScienceDaily — In spite of rising energy prices, many car drivers in large cities still ride alone. The OpenRide mobile ridesharing service aims to save them money while reducing the amount of traffic and thus the burden on the environment. At the IFA international consumer electronics exhibition in Berlin (September 4 to 9), Fraunhofer researchers presented a prototype of their open infrastructure for organizing spontaneous ridesharing opportunities.

German Geothermal Project Leads to Second Thoughts After the Earth Rumbles

LANDAU IN DER PFALZ, Germany — Government officials here are reviewing the safety of a geothermal energy project that scientists say set off an earthquake in mid-August, shaking buildings and frightening many residents of this small city.

The geothermal plant, built by Geox, a German energy company, extracts heat by drilling deep into the earth. Advocates of the method say that it could greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels by providing a vast supply of renewable energy.

But in recent months, two similar projects have stirred concerns about their safety and their propensity to cause earthquakes. In the United States, the Energy Department is scrutinizing a project in Northern California run by AltaRock Energy to determine if it is safe. (The project was shut down by the company last month because of crippling technical problems.) Another project, in Basel, Switzerland, was shut down after it generated earthquakes in 2006 and 2007 and is awaiting the decision of a panel of experts about whether it can resume.

Foreign ships in North underline sovereignty issues for Canada

A historic voyage this week by two German cargo ships across the Northern Sea Route above Russia highlights the challenges — and potential missed opportunities — confronting Canada in the Arctic, says a leading expert on polar issues.

UBC professor Michael Byers, whose book Who Owns the Arctic? is being launched this month, says the transit of the German vessels in the company of Russian icebreakers — widely reported Friday as a landmark commercial passage from East Asia to Western Europe via Arctic waters — underscores Canada's current inability in the Northwest Passage to match Russia's readiness to exploit economic opportunities and assert sovereignty in the melting polar realm.

CEO: Eskom aware of coal weakness

Johannesburg - Eskom was aware of weaknesses in its coal contracts before it received a report warning about its stockpiles, the parastatal's CEO said in Johannesburg on Friday evening.

Thailand: Power producers call for deeper cut in reliance on natural gas

Energy business operators say the use of natural gas for electricity generation should be cut even lower than the 60% planned under the revised power development plan (PDP), saying the risk of dependence on gas is still too high.

Documentary on electricity and coal-fired power plants will be shown Sept. 16

“The Electricity Fairy” examines America’s national addiction to fossil fuels through the lens of electricity. Hansell follows the story of a proposed coal-fired power plant in the mountains of southwest Virginia, connecting the local controversy to the national debate over energy policy.

Present-day documentary footage is remixed with old educational films, connecting past policy to America’s current energy crisis.

Behemoths to the fore in Frankfurt as sales window threatens to shut

Children and grandchildren will one day hear barely believable tales of long extinct, gas guzzling 150 mph beasts like Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Porsches which were on show at the 2009 Frankfurt Car Show. Anybody could buy them, as long as they had the money.

The global car industry is on the verge of revolutionary change. New laws are about to kick in forcing manufacturers to produce more fuel-efficient cars, from governments convinced that global warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. This urge to fight climate change, which a vociferous and growing minority of scientists say has no basis in science and is therefore impossible, will lead to more laws forcing cars to become slower, smaller, and restrict driving in city centers.

The Food Wars

Neither the recent global food shortages nor the impending world energy crisis will be unfamiliar to readers, yet the link between the two has only recently been discussed.

Walden Bello, renowned activist, academic and voice of the global South, situates the origins of the current food crisis within the neo-liberal reforms occurring on a global scale, describing the marginalization of the peasantry by global systems of production and distribution that service mainly the world’s middle class and elite.

From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch

“Most Americans have no clue that hoki is often what they’re eating in fried-fish sandwiches,” SeaFood Business, an industry magazine, reported in April 2001. It said chain restaurants using hoki included McDonald’s, Denny’s and Long John Silver’s.

Ominous signs of overfishing — mainly drops in hoki spawns — came soon thereafter. Criticism from ecological groups soared. The stewardship council promotes hoki as sustainable “in spite of falling fish stocks and the annual killing of hundreds of protected seals, albatross and petrels,” the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand said in May 2004.

Environmental Groups Spar Over Certifications of Wood and Paper Products

For more than a decade, the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council generally has been viewed as the premier judge of whether a wood or paper product should be labeled as environmentally friendly.

But to the dismay of major environmental groups, that label, known as F.S.C., is facing a stiff challenge from a rival certification system supported by the paper and timber industry. At stake is the trust of consumers in the ever-expanding market for “green” products.

Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya’s Hopes

A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, killing livestock, crops and children. It is stirring up tensions in the ramshackle slums where the water taps have run dry, and spawning ethnic conflict in the hinterland as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land.

The twin hearts of Kenya’s economy, agriculture and tourism, are especially imperiled. The fabled game animals that safari-goers fly thousands of miles to see are keeling over from hunger and the picturesque savanna is now littered with an unusually large number of sun-bleached bones.

Slideshow here.

Activist and author campaigns around the globe for climate action

The problem is, our political and economic system would like slow, cheap solutions that cause as little disruption as possible. Physics and chemistry, on the other hand, have already laid out their bottom line--above 350 ppm CO2, the world won't work right. That's why, at 390 ppm, the Arctic is melting. And since physics and chemistry are unlikely to negotiate, we have to meet their demands, hard as it may be. I'm not at all certain the U.S. will act decisively. Obama is clearly doing far more than President Bush; unfortunately, that's not the bar he has to clear. China and India profess themselves willing to take action if we do, and it's clearly up to us to lead. But it's going to be difficult for everyone, especially the poor countries--burning their coal is the easiest way forward, and giving up that option will mean we need to transfer serious resources north to south to compensate them.

Human-made Crises 'Outrunning Our Ability To Deal With Them,' Scientists Warn

ScienceDaily — The world faces a compounding series of crises driven by human activity, which existing governments and institutions are increasingly powerless to cope with, a group of eminent environmental scientists and economists has warned.

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers say that nations alone are unable to resolve the sorts of planet-wide challenges now arising.

Endless oil

Today, Russians laugh at our peak oil theories as they explore, and find, the bounty in the bowels of the Earth. Russia’s reserves have been climbing steadily — according to BP’s annual survey, they stood at 45 billion barrels in 2001, 69 billion barrels in 2004, and 80 billion barrels of late, making Russia an oil superpower that this year produced more oil than Saudi Arabia. Some oil auditing firms estimate Russia’s reserves at up to 200 billion barrels. Despite Russia’s success in exploration, most of those in the west who have known about the Russian-Ukrainian theories have dismissed them as beyond the Pale. This week, the Russian Pale can be found awfully close to home.

Oil Pushes Up Manufacturers' Costs

LONDON (Reuters) - Manufacturers' raw material costs rose at their fastest monthly rate in more than a year in August, driven up by oil costs and resulting in the smallest year-on-year rate of decline since April.

But faced with ongoing recession, manufacturers were slower to pass on August's 2.2 percent monthly rise in input costs and only raised factory gate prices by 0.2 percent in the month, the same as July's pace of increase.

Drilling for Oil & Gas in the Arctic

For years it remained economically unviable to extract oil and natural gas in the Arctic, but the situation is now changing: Interim price drops notwithstanding, prices on commodity exchanges will rise again in the near future.

"We must not let us ourselves be swayed by low oil prices," says Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris. "Raw materials extraction problems are not out of this world -- to the contrary. Our figures leaves no doubt about that."

Summit may reshape Caspian bloc

A summit of Caspian states this weekend could foreshadow the emergence of a new regional economic grouping, according to Central Asia commentators.

Venezuela bought Russian arms, Chavez says as trip concludes

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home Friday after a sometimes controversial nine-country tour and said he had purchased weapons from Russia.

Shell CEO says reorganization to mean job cuts

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A planned reorganization of Royal Dutch Shell Plc's worldwide exploration and production operations will mean job cuts, its chief executive said Friday, but he declined to say how many.

Shell, Europe's largest oil company by market value, aims to boost the efficiency of its oil and gas production business as it tries to meet energy needs for the next decade or more, CEO Peter Voser said.

Gazprom sees Ukraine gas 'risk' next year: Miller

Ukraine is ensuring smooth transit of Russian gas supplies to Europe but there is a risk of disruption next year due to uncertainty on payments, the head of Russian gas giant Gazprom said Saturday.

Number of active rigs drops by 10

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. fell by 10 this week to 999.

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday that 699 of the rigs were exploring for natural gas and 288 for oil. Twelve were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 2,031.

Saudi offers more fuel oil on refinery glitch

SINGAPORE: Saudi Aramco’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit in its Rabigh refinery experienced an outage last week, and was re-started this week, but was still not running at full capacity, industry sources said yesterday.

This has led to Aramco offering unusually high volumes of A962 cracked fuel oil in the last two weeks. Three cargoes scheduled to load on Sept. 14-15, 17-19, and 24-25 have already been sold, traders said.

Chris Jylkka: Rough Times Ahead For Natural Gas

We've asked it before and we'll ask it again: What is up with natural gas these days? Stockpiles are at all-time highs and prices near their lowest point in years, and yet natural gas ETFs like the U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSE Arca: UNG)—which has traded with as much as a 20% premium—just keep climbing. What gives?

It comes back to demand—or the lack thereof, says Christopher Jylkka, principal and manager of Boston Energy Trading, LLC and regional director of energy market intelligence firm Enva. With over 12 years' experience in the energy industry, Jylkka is an expert in the trends and fundamentals currently shaping the natural gas markets.

Top US hedge fund eyes big business in Gulf

With some of world's biggest financial institutions caught in the global financial crisis, forcing them to deleverage and reduce international operations, a raft of international funds, private equity firms and investment banks are positioning themselves to access liquidity in the region.

Slicing & Dicing Sectors Into Themes

Specialty-sector ETFs—also called “thematic” ETFs—have emerged as a major force in the ETF industry.

These ETFs run the gamut of investment possibilities, but have one thing in common: They look past traditional size and sector designations to carve out new investment areas, often driven by a single investment thesis.

Clean energy, infrastructure, nuclear power—by our count, there are now more than 40 of these unique ETFs on the market, with more than $10 billion in assets under management.

China, U.S. to dominate solar market

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The United States and China are in a head-to-head race to become the world's top market for solar power, and panel makers are wasting no time making plans to cash in on the growth promise of both markets despite the global recession.

Low Crop Costs To Boost Ethanol Producers

With huge harvests expected, meat and ethanol producers should get a break on input costs.

Navy to fly jets fueled by algae, oilseed crop

The U.S. Navy plans to fly fighter jets and run ship engines powered by "biofuels" made from algae and oilseeds—part of a fledgling effort to reduce the military's dependence on imported fossil fuels.

2 German cargo ships pass through 'Arctic Passage'

FRANKFURT — Two German merchant ships have traversed the fabled Northeast Passage after global warming and melting ice opened a route from South Korea along Russia's Arctic coast to Siberia.

Now the German-owned ships are poised to complete their journey through the cold waters where icebergs abound, heading for Rotterdam in the Netherlands with 3,500 tons of construction parts.

What will it take to produce 'A Sea Change' in public opinion on ocean acidification?

Sven Huseby and wife Barbara Ettinger have made a new documentary about ocean acidification, the other offspring (along with global warming) of the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (and the one that can't be covered up with a good batch of geo-engineering.) As a staffer at the marine environmental group Oceana once told me: "If the ocean goes, we're all toast."

UN climate chief sees 'significant' Copenhagen deal

DALIAN, China (AFP) – UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said on Friday he believed nations would sign a "significant" deal on how to reduce the effects of global warming at a conference in Copenhagen in December.

"I am confident we can reach a significant agreement," De Boer told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions, known as the "Summer Davos in Asia", in the Chinese port city of Dalian.

Friday Night Failures:

3 more down: Bank failure tally hits 92

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Regulators closed one large bank in Illinois on Friday in one of the biggest collapses of the year, while two other smaller failures pushed the 2009 total to 92.

Leanan - Are the failure of the smaller regional banks just a symptom of BAU? A year after the "crisis" Goldman Sach's and other banks too big to fail are back to the "Heads I win, tails you bail me out" MO.

A year after cataclysm, little change on Wall St.
Some experts say bigger crisis looms unless systemic risks are addressed

IMO the next time they warn us that the sky is falling there will be no bailout for the simple reason that the credit of the U.S. will be at risk. Like a swimmer trying to save a drowning man, if that man will take you down you have to let him go to save yourself.


Joe: Your analogy isn't accurate at all. A better analogy would be taking out a larger mortgage on your house to pay a ransom to kidnappers of your children-the kidnappers aren't drowning at all-they have never been more successful. Eventually you won't be able to pay the ransom because you will be broke and then your kids are finished. The successful kidnappers might decide to buy your house in foreclosure for pennies (they have useful connections).

Really interesting interview detailing Warren's questioning of Treasury Secretary Geitner :

Prof. Elizabeth Warren, chair of bailout Oversight Panel, talks to msnbc’s Dylan Ratigan about “deeply distressing behavior” regarding the government’s bailout of the Wall St. compared to the treatment of automakers.


U.S. banks have not been treated gently. Big U.S. banks have been treated gently.

Are the failure of the smaller regional banks just a symptom of BAU?

Depends on how you define BAU. Corus, this week's big failure, specialized in loans to large condo developers. The Calculated Risk blog has been providing evidence for over a year that the regional banks' problems are, and will continue to be, due to bad loans for commercial development of various sorts. That is, the problems stem from simple bad banking practice, as opposed to the exotic financial engineering that blew up on the big national banks and the international "shadow banking" and insurance firms.

IIRC, there was a quote a few weeks ago from a spokesman for a still-sound bank that had declined to bid on one of the failed banks taken over by the FDIC: "We looked at their books, and an awful lot of their loans were to people we had turned down."

I had been using the "Texas Ratio" to figure out where to deposit a bank CD. According to that measure any bank with a ratio less than 50% is in pretty solid shape. Well, that didn't work for a regional bank that I had deposited in earlier this year. Even though it had a ratio of around 40%, it went belly up.

All the dependable measures are failing. So you have to find a bank with a ratio of less that 10 for the privilege of getting a 1 to 2% return. This is really getting embarrassing.

I'm glad you asked the question so that I could pitch a great "This American Life" podcast explaining Bad Banks for those of us not fluent in the lingo: http://baselinescenario.com/2009/02/28/this-american-life-bad-bank/

Some months ago I recall a quote from an organization professionally involved in rating bank health - some 15% of the 8,500 FDIC insured banks were certainly doomed, and the number might go twice that high. Something gruesome is going to play out in the overbuilt U.S. commercial real estate market over the next four years and that hits the small to medium sized banks hard. They'd flip what residential mortgages they got as they're relatively simple to manage, but the commercial ventures require additional attention and local knowledge so they're held.

The FDIC's war chest does not even begin to cover the exposure. I see speculation that we have a lot of zombie banks and they're giving them unearned benefit of the doubt because they have a limited ability to swallow any more failures.

Re: Low Crop Prices To Boost Ethanol Producers, up top:

"Iowa is expected to produce a record 2.5 billion bushels on a whopping average yield of 187 bushels an acre, up 16 bushels from last year's average." From:


This is a big increase if it comes true. 187 bu./acre time 2.7 gallons of ethanol/bu. equals about 505 gallons per acre. Those who claim more energy goes into ethanol production than what is produced are wrong. That is enough to power a car getting 20 miles per gallon of ethanol for 10,000 miles. All from 1 acre of corn production if my figures are correct.

Those who claim more energy goes into ethanol production than what is produced are wrong.

Yippee, we can have another long thread of arguing over EROEI. Can we just move on...

Roger that- also I'm pleased to see that this Kdolliso has disappeared.

Kdolliso posts multiple times a day on my blog as "Rufus." He is one of my most consistent posters, proselytizing daily on the wonders of ethanol. So if you ever feel like you need your Kdolliso fix, you know where to find him. :-)

Today's theme seems to be: Ethanol good, methanol bad.

Meanwhile the deadzone in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow, nurtured by Iowa corn growers. Just another negative impact of mandated ethanol production.

solomon makes it so easy, just stop looking for dead dinosaurs(which he mentions 3 times in the opening paragraphs) and drill 40 to 95 miles deep.

He's right in one respect, "dinosaurs don't fuel our cars." But ancient algae does. No petroleum geologist would ever suggest dinosaurs.

I blame "Rusty Cage" by Johnny Cash for the misinformation on the bone fuel. It's still a fun song.

There was that and back in the 80s there was a cartoon of a dinosaur caught in a tar pit. The caption was "Goodbye cruel world … hello Exxon”. :-)

And don't forget the Sinclair gas stations and their signs with a silhouette of a dinosaur.

Debbie Cook -

While petroleum geologists wouldn't suggest dinosaurs as the source of oil, evidently some oil company marketing people did.

If I recall correctly, during the 1950s the logo for the old Sinclair Oil Co. was a smiling green brontosaurus against a white background. And I think you could even buy plastic and/or inflatable models of the same dinosaur at Sinclair stations.

Not that the American public at the time really cared where oil came from, it was just presumed to be THERE for the taking.

Whaddya mean 'in the 1950s'?

The Green Dinosaur Gas stations are alive and well in North Dakota.

MoonWatcher -


I don't recall seeing one in the Northeast in many a moon. I wasn't even aware there still was a Sinclair Oil Co. and assumed they had gotten bought up by someone else.

When I was a kid, we used to joke that oil was dinosaur juice and that you made it by squishing dinosaurs in a big squeezer.

North Dakota...........The Land that Time Forgot..........in more ways than one.
No offense just kidding!

Porge...Ha!, I almost added something like that to my OP, but thought I would cut the NoDaks a break. I lived there for almost 10 years...nice folks by and large, but I like to have some mountains nearby and it is just too darn cold in the winter!

Also amusing that one type of algae is called a dinoflagellate.


When my crew flew unnecessarily long, wasteful (added time just to 'burn' flying hours) training missions back in the day we said we were 'out burin dinosaurs'.

"Turning dinosaurs into smoke" was another popular saying.

We knew the fuel wasn't from the 'saurs, but the Sinclair signage and all made it a nice turn of phrase.

Too bad there really are people who don't read science books who think oil actually is pressure and heat-reduced 'saurs. Of course some folks don't 'believe' in 'saurs or 'believe' that they lived contemporaneously with humans. Some of these folks operate hundred-million dollar weapons systems with incredible destructive power, and some of those become Generals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_G._Boykin) and Presidents (GWB).

I once calculated that I could drive my little Mazda 323 for about 30 years (figuring ~ 10K per year) on one load of gas for one sortie.

Fun with other peoples' moolah.

I regret burning all that gas...I drunk the Ronnie Raygun Koolaid about needing to be the World's policeman for a very few years, then I grew up.

I was a Naval Aviator from 1984-1992..........It seems we are fellow cold warriors...........I also came to my senses with age.
I bet you were Air Farce.err. I mean Force. And i bet you flew B-52s out of Minot.
Am I right?


Are you sure you didn't have a dual military specialty code as an Intel Officer?

Intel & combat aviation go hand-in glove.

Why not ____? Freez'ns the reason. Not many planes that could power a 323 for ~30 years on one tank-load.

My Worldview (Reality) is not popular in certain circles.

No I just pay attention to things............that's all.

MoonWatcher -

Man, this whole Sinclair dinosaur thing seems to have stirred up all sort of memories in all sorts of people! I don't think I have given the Sinclair dinosaur a conscious though in at least four decades. I would venture that in northern New Jersey, where I lived a the time, my recollection is that Sinclair stations all but vanished by the start of the 1970s, but I could be wrong.

What you said about some people with rather narrow and naive belief systems handling hundred million-dollar weapon systems struck a chord with me. Not that I was in the military, but that I am an engineer. And over the years I have noticed that many very highly intelligent and capable engineers that I've known have tended to be of a fundamentalist Christian/ultra-conservative bent and have no internal conflict in being highly rational and methodical on the one hand and totally believing and uncritical in all sorts of stuff on the other hand.

Perhaps this is a left-brain/right-brain sort of thing. I really don't know. The upshot for me was that while I could get into a highly involved technical discussion with these people, once the subject got into politics or religion, it was like a switch was tripped and their minds shifted to another software program. It was hard to discuss anything of a sensitive political or societal nature with these people.

The other thing that really bugged me about my fellow engineers was their total respect for and allegiance to authority, whether it be corporate, governmental, or academic. I swear, I've known some engineers whom I am one-hundred percent certain wouldn't have any more qualms in designing a gas chamber/crematorium as they would a handball court. Same thing. Just doing their job.

So, I guess where I'm going with this is the point that intelligent people can still be ignorant and highly delusional. The corollary is that uneducated people can be highly intelligent and quite savvy. In fact, I think that of the people I have known, the one with the most natural native raw intelligence was a high school drop-out.

And as you may have gathered, I was never too crazy about being in close association with the engineering community. I sense that you may have the same sort of feelings about the military.


You make good points and interesting observations.

I knew a guy who commanded aircrew and worked in some of the most sensitive planning areas who told me point blank that my concern for scarce oil resources was nonsense, because oil is produced deep in the bowels of the Earth per God's plan and that we literally would have enough to last for millions of years, but we wouldn't have to worry about all that because the end times would come much sooner than that and the wicked would be cast down and the faithful would live forever in paradise, etc and so forth. Granted, this fellow of the spectrum, but he had company.

The big fat middle of the spectrum is the folks who listen to Rush et al and think that any talk about environmental damage, resource scarcity, etc. emanated from conspiracy of evil left-wingers who hated America.

When I joined things were different; Ronnie Raygun was in power but the wing-nuts did not appear until later. Soon enough Dr. James Dobson had started indoctrinating cadets at USAFA and the military became overwhelmingly tilted towards the right wing, to the point where officers would openly refer to people who voted Democrat as 'Demoncrats', and that was years ago.

The first half of my career was fun, and the second half less so. I did not agree with the military being used as GWB's pawn to settle a score for his Daddy and to simultaneously implement the Project For a New American Century's plan to grab ME oil. I disliked the implicit 'loyalty test' of fealty to Republican dogma, to include demonizing anyone who had the temerity to think differently. I disliked the sense of entitlement to squandering resources that existed within the military. Very little consideration was ever given to conserving anything; sorties were launched on days when we knew there were thunderstorms everywhere, including back at the landing base at return time, and we went anyway, got no training, but sure did flame off tons of gas. Entire office spaces existed where there wasn't an off switch to the overhead fluorescent lights...they burned for years, I kid you not...doors to the building where I worked stood open in the dead of winter (over multiple years)due to out new HVAC system's overpressure, letting our 80-degree heat out into the -20F outside. When I brought these issues up, I was told that nothing could be done and that there were more pressing things to do, such as honcho the annual Christmas Party or golf tourney. These were the same people who cried rivers about spending money on 'welfare queens' and school lunches.

One of the low points was after Katrina, I was in the Officer's club, and there was a huge table (~30 guys) boozing it up and loud-mouthing about how they didn't want any of their tax money spent on the victims. They said it was the victims' fault that they were poor and uneducated and that it was understandable how few communities wanted them, since they were mostly drug dealers, users, criminals, and welfare cheats anyway. These merry-makers than agreed that these people could have afforded flood insurance and cars to leave town if only they had the work ethic to go to college and get good-paying jobs and invest their excess money in the stock market like 'we' did...they all ycked it up over that one.

All these idiots were white, rude, and living off the government teet themselves. I got up and left lest I throw up.

These are the same folks who are now railing against universal health care...which make me ill since these folks (and their civil secants cohorts) all are on the government health care teet. But they deserve it because they went to college and made something of themselves (everything they make is tax-payer and public-debt-funded, but never mind that, they are special!)

Some of them use the excuse that they sent some money to aid organizations for Katrina and they donate some money to charity otherwise so they've done their part. But if any of them get shorted one dollar on medical or travel re-reimbursements they pitch a hissy fit. If a person working as a waitress gets screwed by medical insurance companies it is her fault for not studying harder and getting a better job.

What disturbs me about roughly 60-70% of the military population is the complete lack of empathy for anyone but their immediate family and friends, maybe.

About the allegiance to authority thing: You do not want to be the one in the military to tell the emperor that he has no clothes...Yes-Men and sycophants rule the day.

I had some good times, did my jobs well, saw some of the world, worked and played with some great people (certainly not everyone was as stated above), and got paid well, including a retirement and medical. I do believe a military is necessary, just as a police force is necessary; However, the amount of resources we unquestioningly throw into our military-industrial-political complex and our 'rule-the-world' attitude is wrong.

We are the modern-day Roman Empire.

MoonWatcher -

Your account of what the people were like in the Air Force is truly scary, though my ex college roommate was part of B-52 crew during the Vietnam era, and he related a milder version the same thing about a lot of the people in the US military. I guess you'll get that sort of thing whenever you have a highly inbred intellectual environment.

What I find particularly worrisome is the increasing prevalence of fundamentalist Christian proselytizing in the US military, especially amongst the officer corps. In my opinion this is a most noxious and dangerous mixture of ideologies. It can't lead to anywhere good. I don't feel very comfortable having someone who believes in the End Times being involved with nuclear weapons.

Then of course, we have the increasingly significant role of mercenaries in US military operations. Another extremely dangerous precedent. These people have the making of a modern SS, accountable only to our Maximum Leader. How long before these cretins get deployed domestically?

To me, your comment about military energy wastefulness was quite apropos. I happen to live in a suburb of Wilmington, Delaware. About 50 miles to the south is the giant Dover AFB, which I think has the largest logistical airlift capability on the East Coast. Well, it turns out that Dover AFB managed to wangle some $25 million of Obama's stimulus money to upgrade the base heating system. The idea is to do away with the existing large central steam heating plant and to install separate gas heaters in individual buildings. This will result in increased energy efficiency. (Of course, their own budget could never have paid for this sort of thing, particularly after the oil shocks of the 1970s.)

To my mind, military energy efficiency is almost an oxymoron. I mean, one of these giant C-5 transports making a fully loaded round trip to Afghanistan and back will probably consume an amount of fuel roughly equal or greater than to the amount of annual savings resulting from this Dover AFB energy upgrade. With top brass using Air Force transports as their personal limos, I find it hard to take this sort of thing seriously.

The grotesquely bloated US military budget is going to eventually contribute to the irreversible decline of the US.

The C-5 is unofficially known as the FRED (Freaking Ridiculous Economic Disaster)...the spell-out is sanitized for any TOD members' sensitive ears.

It was spec'd to land on unimproved (grass or dirt) 'airstrips', which it did, to my knowledge, once, during acceptance testing.

Due to its military landing field specs and other specs such as the tail ramp, and its 'frozen-in-time' engines, it is not nearly as fuel-efficient as a 747. There was an effort years ago to procure either a 'stock' or a somewhat militarized 747 to augment the maintenance-intensive, snake-bit FRED, but it didn't go anywhere. Industrial Policy (which the U.S. supposedly shuns, except for defense items) was a big reason...support Lockheed.

The first time I flew on a civil 747 across the pond, I almost fainted when I saw the thrifty fuel-burn figures (they were written on a white board on the galley or lav wall along with other fun facts for the passengers such as weight, speed, etc.)

Many analysts concluded that the military could have made very good use of those notional 60-some military 747 freighters, since the FRED always lands at a big long runway anyway. The 747Fs have a swing-away nose which allows loading/unloading...but they need payload/scissor-lift ground vehicles, whereas the FRED has front and back drive-on/off ramps. The 747F-military version would have been less convenient to load and unload, but sure would have saved a lot of 'dinosaurs'.

As to your first point, I would not be surprised if the presence of fundamentalists in our huge troop presence in KSA before and after the first Gulf War was not one of the major irritants to OBL which helped him justify his nefarious 911 attacks against us. He is on record railing against our presence defiling the sacred land of Mecca and Medina. Even given the order to our troops to not proselytize to Saudis, I imagine that some level of that activity went on anyway.


I do know that after 911 (2003) the U.S. troop presence beat feet out of KSA in short order, allegedly at the behest of the Saudi government.


I found this hugely significant at the time, and now, that the cowboy 'bring 'em on' GW Cheney/Bush administration took this action...undoubtedly because they were scared to death that if they didn't, KSA would turn into another 1979 Iran situation, turning most of the Islamic peoples vehemently against us.

"How long before these cretins get deployed domestically?"

Gee, maybe if you didn't call smart, resourceful, highly trained soldiers "cretins" maybe they wouldn't feed compelled to jack-boot you as they deploy to your neighborhood? :)

Why wouldn't a Special Forces guy making $35K or $50K trade out for a Blackwater gig at $120K tax-free? Even a cretin would see that was a good deal. Once you've done it for 5 years, you have a nice house paid for, a network of buddies across the US, and a nice pile of toys. What's not to love?

Hi Moonwatcher,

It occurs to me as I read about your experience, that some of this may be a way to divert people from thinking about the fact that they have agreed their lives are to be sacrificed - under the "right" conditions.

Fostering entitlement, along with scapegoating, can be an enormous distraction.

I wonder how conscious the effort is, and on whose part.

In any case, just to share an example of someone in the other category, I once met Antonio Taguba, and was impressed with his integrity and presence. He also has gone to great lengths to avoid publicity of any kind. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Taguba).

The Green Dinosaur Gas stations are alive and well in North Dakota.

I also saw one a couple of years ago in either Wyoming or Western Nebraska. I remember pointing it out to my kids.

There are still a handful in Wisconsin. The one in Lake Delton is called "Dynostop"; perhaps that's meant to dispel any doubts. And that green dinosaur is still with us.

There is one left on U.S. 71 near Storm Lake, Iowa. I think highway 3 ... or maybe 10 is the crossroad. I've been digging, know I took a picture of it, but I canna find it :-(

There are Sinclair stations in Boulder, CO. There is also Sinclair, WY, the site of a refinery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair,_Wyoming) quite obvious if you drive from Denver to Yellowstone.

We still have a big Sinclair presence here in Northeast OK. Also, a refinery in Tulsa.

Sinclair was bought by Arco many years ago, but Sinclair was still a valuable brand. I can't recall which of the majors merged with ARCO, but I would assume it was BP. Arco was a big player in the North Slope original development - I think they led the way on the early development, and BP is credited / blamed for that now.

If there´s really an abiotic source of hydrocarbons in the deep earth, then that doesn´t rule out the biotic origin of oil. That at least some oil is derived from organic matters, is proven by the presence of degradation products of chlorophyll and aminoacids. And because of the abundance of oxygen in all minerals they would anyway degradate the greatest part of hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water. The oxygen of the earth crust is mainly bonded to silicon and thus it hasn´t the oxidizing power of the pure element. But, as anyone accustomed to chemistry knows, entropy favours the degradation to simple compounds, even more at high temperatures deep down in the earth and in spite of the endothermal nature of the degradation reactions. That is the reason that there is so much more coal than any other fossil fuel and that gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, sulfur hydrogen, water vapour, nitrogen, ammonia and many others are released by volcanoes and fumaroles. Volcanic gases only contain small traces of methane and hydrogen. Thus, where are the claimed amounts of hydrocarbons?

Lawrence Solomon: Endless oil

I find this abiotic oil article tough to digest.

This theory — first espoused in 1877 by Dmitri Mendeleev, who also developed the periodic table — was rejected by geologists of the day because he postulated that the Earth’s crust had deep faults, an idea then considered absurd. Mendeleev wouldn’t be vindicated by his countrymen until after the Second World War when the then-Soviet Union, shut out of the Middle East and with scant petroleum reserves of its own,.....

Scant petroleum reserves in the Soviet Union during World War II? I thought Hitler's troops attacked Stalingrad to reach Soviet oil fields.

In a study published in Nature Geoscience, researchers from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden and the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington joined colleagues at the Lomonosov Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology in publishing evidence that hydrocarbons can be produced 40 to 95 miles beneath the surface of the Earth. At these depths — in what’s known as Earth’s Upper Mantle — high temperatures and intense pressures combine to generate hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons then migrate toward the surface of the Earth through fissures in the Earth’s crust, sometimes feeding existing pools of oil, sometimes creating entirely new ones.

Wouldn't the high temperatures in the mantle crack any long hydrocarbon chains into smaller molecules? I thought this was why oil isn't formed in the crust below deep oceans -- the crust is too thin and thus the temperature gradient too steep.

I believe that the article on abiotic hydrocarbons referred to in todays drumbeat to a large degree distorts the result of the scientific work that it is allegedly based on.

The abstract of the article referred to is free of charge (however not the full text)


It begins with the following statment:

"There is widespread evidence that petroleum originates from biological processes1, 2, 3. Whether hydrocarbons can also be produced from abiogenic precursor molecules under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions characteristic of the upper mantle remains an open question."

It would appear that the reported results suggest that there might be other sources of hydrocarbons than fossile.

OK, so I will go with the assumption that abiotic hydrocarbons can be produced. This leaves the small question of drilling to that depth.

This is one article I found here but maybe this is as much BS as the original article. It would appear drilling to the depth mentioned would be interesting problem ;-)

You have to love "The Electricity Fairy" as a title. An accurate description of too many Americans' knowledge of where the magic stuff in the wall outlet comes from.

Sort of like Leanan's lovely Oil Fairy...

I have two questions about the geothermal seismic risk story. There's a quote saying:

“My concern is that the project leaders for different geothermal projects are about to waste public confidence as long as they don’t talk openly about the seismic risks involved in their projects,” said Rudolf Braun, who is the leader of the Basel study and is following events in Landau.

(1) From a scientific standpoint, do seismic issues with geothermal drilling provide any new information about potential seismic risks for carbon storage (CCS) projects?

(2) From a public perception standpoint, do you think there is a spill over effect (e.g., does bad news with one increase liability concerns for the other)?

Blue --- Not exactly my area of geologic experience but I can offer some sense of scale. Drilling a geothermal well or extracting heat cannot produce an earthquake OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE. You can jump off of a chair and cause a measurable tremor. But no damage. Earthquakes which cause damage are due to the release of tremendous amounts of energy...on the scale of so many nuclear bombs. Geothermal operations don't manifest anything close to that level. But that isn't to say such operations can't induce tremors that can be measured and related back to those activities. Many decades ago (probably the origin of many man-induced earthquake urban rumors) there were a series of injection wells in Colorado which were disposing of waste water (I think). This pumping process didn't directly causes tremors but the injected water lubricated some existing faults in the area. When these faults slipped the generated measureable but non-damaging tremors. But the seismologists could project the epicenters to the interval where the water was being injected. Very good proof of cause/effect.

There are other manmade events which produce seismic shock waves that can register on the opposite side of the globe. In the western US they set off huge explosions to loosen overburden above coal seams. They had to model the character of these explosions to avoid confusing them with underground nuclear tests. I wouldn't be surprised if a movie of the week was spawned by urban legends predicting the end of mankind as a result of such activities. As to whether the German operations produced tremors or not, I have no idea. But there are literally many thousands of tremors recorded around the globe every day. For every small tremor that can be felt in CA there are a thousand that can be measured but not felt. Thus from time to time any manmade process might be related to such a tremor. Doesn't mean it caused it. Maybe that's what happened in Germany...a coincidence. Or maybe they are related. In either case it wouldn't amount to anything meaningful.

Now, with respect to CO2 seq. There are a number of much more likely events that could lead to leakage. By far the most likely problem would be the failure of the casing in the injection well. It's not at all uncommon for casing to crack/corrode in an interval shallower then the target reservoir. The injected material can then enter the fresh water column or even make it to the surface. The good news about the potential leakage of CO2 is that it just gets back into the atmosphere where it would have gone anyway. Not a good thing of course but then it won't hurt or kill anyone. There's obvious some risk in every enterprise. But I'll bet you lunch there are more injuries/deaths from bathtub accidents in one week then there could every be from failed geothermal or CO2 seq efforts for the next 100+ years IMO.

There's one big difference between drilling for geothermal heat mining and drilling for CO2 sequestration: frac'ing. Geothermal heat mining involves frac'ing operations to create a network of linked cracks between one or more injection and extraction wells. (Injected water will circulate through the cracks, becoming heated.) At the depth where "hot dry rocks" are tapped for geothermal energy, the rocks are generally non-porous, so frac'ing and propping are essential. The earthquake problem arises when the network of cracks intersects a buried fault line with accumulated strain. The pressure from the frac'ing opens and lubricates the fault, allowing sudden release of the accumulated strain.

CO2 sequestration does not involve frac'ing. The wells used would go into porous rock, normally at a much shallower depth than required for geothermal heat mining. The injected CO2 displaces water in the rock pores at its normal hydrostatic pressure, and has essentially zero potential for triggering earthquakes.

Thanks, that's helpful information.



Hopefully the death rate won't be anything like that level but the curves are interesting...

The current "Wave" is expected to peak in mid to late October. The vaccine is too late to mitigate this peak.


The current pattern of pandemic spread is most likely to be similar to the Asian influenza A (H2N2) pandemic of 1957-58. Substantial spread was expected to begin in early September with the epidemic peaking in mid to late October.

Most over 65 are immune because this virus is similar enough to the 1918-56 strain to be recognised. Almost everyone under 55 is not.

So even Flus give the Baby Boomers a break!!

I can't catch a break around here.

A lot of boomers are under age 55.

Ironically, the seniors who least need the vaccine are the most eager to get it. They're on the bottom of the priority list.

I'm not sure if I'd get it myself. I'm not anti-vaccine or anything; I think they're generally money well spent, especially if we're heading to a future where public health might not be what it is now. But swine flu is mild in most people, and after the problems they had with the swine flu vaccine in the '70s...I'm not sure I want to be a guinea pig.

I know. The Boomers are 1960 and earlier from what I know. I am just bored on a rainy day here in central texas.
I am not going to get the vaccine either.

The vaccine will not be in time. That's certain. Well other than for a very few key people may be. The virus is now in the final stage of its exponential rise (globally) which will terminate then start to decline in October when it runs out of people to infect. That's what the "Fall Wave" is.

after the problems they had with the swine flu vaccine in the '70s...I'm not sure I want to be a guinea pig.

Here's the little end story to this. If you got the 1976 vaccine you are partially protected from the current outbreak even today!


In 1976, approximately 20% of the U.S. population was immunized with the A/NJ/76 (H1N1) vaccine.15 We tested archived serum samples from 83 adults who were at least 25 years of age at the time that the sample was obtained and who had received one dose (400 chicken-cell agglutinating units) of a monovalent, split A/NJ/76 vaccine.16 Vaccination with the A/NJ/76 vaccine resulted in seroconversion to antibodies against A/NJ/76 virus in 67 subjects (81%) and a corresponding seroconversion to antibodies against 2009 H1N1 in 45 subjects (54%) (Table 5 in the Supplementary Appendix). Whereas 59 subjects (71%) achieved a postvaccination microneutralization antibody titer of 160 or more against the vaccine strain, 52 subjects (63%) achieved a postvaccination antibody titer of 160 or more against 2009 H1N1. These results showed that vaccination with the A/NJ/76 vaccine of persons who were primed by previous natural infection with influenza H1N1 virus led to the generation of serum antibodies that were broadly cross-reactive against 2009 H1N1.

CNN is reporting that a college student at Cornell University has died. 520 students are sick there, and they are advising students to stay in their rooms if they feel sick, and to say at least 6' away from other people.

Not all flus porge. There are some strains that hit the elderly and babies harder. I continue to amazed at the media attention the H1N1 gets. It's a potential problem of course. But we've had how many deaths from it in the last 6 months? Less then 100 I think. Maybe a good bit less...feel free to correct me. But according to the CDC around 18,000 US citizens died (on average) from all other strains of flu during the same period. I recall just one story about a strain of flu on the west coast last year that was especially lethal to young children. Yet virtually no metion of it by the MSM.

But we've had how many deaths from it in the last 6 months? Less then 100 I think

196 were recorded in the USA last week alone (1,380 admitted to hospital last week). US death count is closing in on 1000 now even on official numbers. This has just got started for real. Peak deaths will be in mid to late October.

The virus has spent the last 6 months or so seeding itself all over the world while growing at its own pace. It doesn't care about towns and countries.

The unusual thing about the H1N1 is that it's going around now, and it's not flu season. Some of my kids got, and some of their friends. So far it's pretty mild, I'd say. If it goes lethal like the 1918, I'll be glad we got the mild version early.

One kid we know who had asthma got hit pretty hard. She's over the worst of it, but still has worse breathing/asthma issues from it weeks later.

I wish there were an easy test to know if you're immune. For me and my kids who didn't really get sick, it would be nice to know if we got it enough to develop immunity.

The biggest danger of swine flu is if it mutates into something much more dangerous,such as a crossover with a bird flu strain.We are nowhere near out of the woods on this one.

That doesn't seem to be an issue right now. H1N1 is so dominant that it doesn't get much chance to exchange genetic material with other strains.

Unfortunately that may not be true in some parts of the world with a lot of bird flu.

H1N1 seems pretty mild so far in NM. Know some folks who allegedly had it and so far it doesn't seem more remarkable than the 'standard' yearly flu. It could get worse, or not. Time will tell. At least the World authorities seem to have fairly robust alerting and tracking procedures and public education processes...sure, they could always be better, but even now we have folks complaining that governments and media are making too big of a deal about H1N1. I'm tired of hearing about the 'cry wolf' desensitization issue: People need to grow up and pay attention to each real news story that could potentially affect their lives, which doesn't include anything pertaining to pro or college athletics, rock stars, or TV/movie celebrities, or phony controversies about birth certificates or death panels.

One worry that some virologists have expressed is that as the community viral load increases then so does the initial load the body is subjected to in a new infection (because the virus is coming at you from all directions). Very high initial infection rates panic the immune system into a do or die response as the virus is well established by the time the body notices. In most cases the immune system still wins but in a proportion the resulting cytokine storm will finish you off. For this reason it may be vitally important to minimise contact around mid-October if you haven't already caught it by then as this theory will be tested out at that time.

In other words most people will catch it and there's nothing you can do about that but you can try not to get overloaded in the exposure. If the theory is wrong then no harm done. If it is right then you may save your life.

If you assume a mortality rate of one in a thousand, and factor in the estimate that perhaps half the population will catch it, that means 150e6*.001 = > 150,000 in the US alone. On the scale of 9-11, that is about 50 times as bad! Or roughly three years of auto-fatalities.


The Transmissibility and Control of Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus
Yang Yang, Jonathan D. Sugimoto, M. Elizabeth Halloran, Nicole E. Basta, Dennis L. Chao, Laura Matrajt, Gail Potter, Eben Kenah, Ira M. Longini Jr.

TOD members and staff,

Here is a link to a potentially interesting series of articles about oil in the on-line version of Foreign Policy:


I have not read any of this yet...enjoy!

Edit: I took a peak, and inside of 60 seconds found this gem:

Here is a short excerpt from one of the many articles, this one authored by Fatih Birol"

[Even if global oil demand remained flat until 2030, our analysis suggests that some 45 million barrels per day of additional gross capacity -- the equivalent of four times the current capacity of Saudi Arabia -- would need to be brought online simply to offset declining production at existing fields.

Thankfully, the world has enough oil to support this growth in output. But here's where the financial crisis matters: A lack of investment where it is needed, particularly in the short to medium term, has become a key risk to supply.]

Be thankful, we have at least enough oil to last through 2030, we just need to get our credit and investment markets back on track! Maybe we should offer to subsidize the oil companies?

Here is another link to another stand-alone article from 4 September authored by Matthew Simmons:


I posted those links in the August 24 DrumBeat (I think - might have been the 25). There was some discussion then.

Matt Simmons posted a rebuttal a few days later in Foreign Policy as well. There was some discussion in the Sept. 5 DrumBeat.


My apologies, I missed those.

I skimmed some of these articles and personally found them to fairly 'light-weight' top-level opining, without much supporting data. Too bad TOD was not listed in the 'Must-Read' resources link.

Methinks TOD might be regarded by the august FP crowd as 'too extreme'.

The article by Turki al-Faisal caused a bit of a splash. It was picked up by a lot of big-name publications, and also generated some responses. Yergin's and Birol's also got some ink.

I think this information has been posted at TOD recently, but in case it has not...


Science Daily seems to find this research credible, I guess?

There are some amazing statements in this article, including:

“There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil,”


"The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe."

Another supposed technocopian breakthrough that will keep us awash in oil for hundreds, nay, thousands of years!


First Solar is going to build a 2GW PV plant in China.


Billions of watts...but the article mentions that the cells are fabricated, in part, using Tellurium, which isn't very abundant...

In the interview linked above he (Kutcherov) also states that:

Using our research we can even say where oil could be found in Sweden

Well, us Swedes have heard this before. A lot of people were fooled to invest in finding abiotic oil some years/decades ago. The perfect place was stated to be somewhare within Siljansringen where a meteorit hit som 360 million years ago. The prophet at that time was Thomas Gold. Needless to say the drillings showed no hydrocarbons. Luckily I was not among those who invested.

I feel inclined to question the seriousness of this guy. Obviously a researcher might feel free to be a bit more speculative in an interview than in a researchpaper that is published in a peer-reviewed journal. However, there has to be a limit to the magnitude of difference in the opions given. Compare the interview with the statements of the abstract of their paper published in Nature Geoscience.


I made a quick search on Kutcherov both at the website of KTH and that of Vetenskapsrådet and did not find any reference to him at either site. However in the article published in Nature Geoscience he is stated as affiliated to KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) together with an affiliation in Moscow so it ought to be bona fide.

i know it's a bit "late" for new links, but here goes

Extravagant Dubai island project sinks under weight of the credit crunch

They were designed to make Dubai the envy of the world: a series of paradise islands inhabited by celebrities and the super-rich reclaimed from the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf and shaped like a map of the Earth. It was called The World.
Instead it has become the world's most expensive shipping hazard, guarded by private security in fast boats and ringed by warning buoys to keep the curious away.

What has happened to the megaprojects list on wikipedia? My browser shows it has not been updated since last year? Thanks in advance

I would like to see an update too. Volunteers are probably wanted.

Regarding the top item:

Where would the world be without the extraordinary growth in Russian oil supply, this decade? Not in a good place, actually. Russia’s near 50% oil production increase since the year 2000 did a lot of heavy lifting. And it’s concerning that this very fast growth rate has now topped out.

The pattern suggested is that new large finds get used up ever faster as resource demand is served by exploration always growing exponentially. That has a certain similarity to how other great advances in technology, like CD's and PC's and things, are lasting ever shorter periods of time too.

As the search strategies for innovation and resources are increased exponentially the niche opportunities may be just as "big" but then last shorter and shorter periods of time. It does "seem" to keep growth going, yes, but at the cost of closing the door to discovering how to make technology sustainable, leading toward an impasse. That's the intuitive piece of the "substitution problem" of using exploration as a resource for growth, that I first noticed and wrote about in a piece I called "The Infinite Society". 30 years later it probably seems dated in various ways, but I think the concept is still valid and still generally unrecognized.