Drumbeat: September 13, 2009

Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Human Suffering

Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

Europe fears winter energy crisis as Russia tightens grip on oil supplies

Russia's stranglehold over dwindling global energy resources was dramatically confirmed yesterday when new figures showed that the country has become the world's biggest exporter of oil.

With production in August hitting record levels, Russia toppled Saudi Arabia from the number one spot. It is already the world's largest exporter of gas, and supplies around a third of the European Union's consumption.

The news is likely to heighten unease in EU capitals over the Kremlin's tightening grip on energy reserves. There are fears of a repeat of January's debilitating gas war between Russia and Ukraine – which saw winter supplies to EU consumers cut off for weeks. Members of Opec agreed to cut oil production last year in response to the economic crisis. Moscow indicated last December that it would follow suit but instead ramped up production in the second quarter of 2009, as new fields in Siberia came on stream.

Oil giants zero in on untapped Greenland: The high price of crude and rising demand make exploration of the coastline viable

The Nordic Explorer set off last week for the seas off Cape Farewell on the southern tip of Greenland. For the next few weeks the 269ft research ship will zigzag across the water to collect data on the rock formations thousands of feet below the seabed. It is not alone. Up and down the coasts of this desolate, ice-covered country, seven other ships are carrying out similar work.

The ships are funded by oil companies hoping to determine whether the country, long dismissed as too icy and remote to be worthwhile exploring, is one of the world’s last virgin oil provinces.

The ambiguous blessing of new oil

The good news is that British Petroleum just found a massive new oil field in the Gulf of Mexico.

That's also the bad news.

Libya Approves $9.86 Billion Plan to Boost Oil Output

(Bloomberg) -- Libya approved a 12.1 billion-dinar ($9.86 billion) plan to develop and upgrade 24 oilfields as the holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves seeks to boost output.

China's leading oil producer to triple natural gas production

HARBIN (Xinhua) -- Daqing Oilfield, China's No.1 terrestrial oil producer, is expected to triple its natural gas production while stabilizing crude output in the years to come.

Wang Yongchun, general manager of Daqing Oilfield Co. Ltd., confirmed Sunday his company would be producing 8 to 10 billion cum of natural gas annually by 2020, accounting for 20 to 25 percent of the company's oil and gas production total.

Venezuela, Russia Sign Joint Venture to Develop Junin 6 Block

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA and the Consorcio Nacional Petrolero SRL, a joint venture of five Russian oil companies, signed an agreement to develop the Junin 6 heavy crude block, the state oil company said in a statement on its Web site.

PDVSA, as Venezuela’s state company is known, will have a 60 percent stake and Consorcio Nacional, conformed of Rosneft Oil Co.,Lukoil OAO, Gazprom OAO, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz, will have the remaining 40 percent. The companies expect to produce 400,000 to 450,000 barrels per day, the statement said.

Strong 6.2-degree quake shakes central Venezuela

One of Venezuela's main oil refineries, El Palito, and a petrochemicals complex are located in the region where the tremor was felt most strongly.

The earthquake was also felt in oil-rich Zulia state, northwestern Venezuela.

Sources at the state-run oil firm Pdvsa reported no damages that may hit the production of crude oil or byproducts.

PTT’s Timor Oil Leak Fix May Take More Than 4 Weeks

(Bloomberg) -- PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, Thailand’s only publicly traded oil exploration company, said it may need longer than four more weeks to plug a leaking well in the Timor Sea.

No power cuts danger - Miliband

There is "no danger" of mass power cuts in the UK during the next decade, Energy Secretary Ed Miliband has said.

He told the BBC it was possible to meet the country's energy needs while using more "sustainable" sources such as wind farms and nuclear stations.

Jordan Signs Accord With Tractebel as Part of Nuclear Ambitions

(Bloomberg) -- Jordan signed a $12 million agreement today with Belgium’s Tractebel Engineering as part of the kingdom’s plan to build its first nuclear plant and reduce reliance on oil imports.

Nuke power emerging as attractive option for emissions goal, but concerns persist

With incoming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama having set a more ambitious emissions reduction target for the government to be led by the Democratic Party of Japan than that pledged by outgoing rival Taro Aso, nuclear power is emerging as one of the most effective possible solutions.

In the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, however, the hurdles remain high for those pushing for greater use of nuclear energy, which is ''cleaner'' in terms of carbon emissions than fossil fuels. The DPJ's alliance with a smaller party that calls for a withdrawal from nuclear technologies could also pose a hindrance.

Turning to Windmills, but Resistance Lingers

BOURNE, Mass. — Wendie Howland grows her own food and heats her water with rooftop solar panels. She drives a Prius with a bumper sticker that boasts “One Less S.U.V.”

But when Mrs. Howland tried to take the next step in green living — installing a 132-foot windmill in her backyard that would generate enough electricity to power her home — she hit a wall. The planning board in this pastoral Cape Cod town twice rejected the project citing safety concerns and predicting “an adverse effect on the character of the neighborhood.”

Mrs. Howland’s defeat was sealed by a Superior Court ruling in July that backed the planning board’s decision, underscoring the steep odds that residential windmill plans face nationwide. After investing some $40,000 in a 10-kilowatt turbine and legal fees, Mrs. Howland and her husband, Francis, are giving up their two-year fight.

Euro wind producers want billions for sea turbines

BRUSSELS (AP) — European wind power producers are calling for billions of euros (dollars) in investments to generate energy from wind turbines planted in the sea.

The European Union is aiming to generate a fifth of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020 to lessen reliance on imported oil and gas and meet climate change goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Shell and Chinese coal giant to develop clean coal technology

Royal Dutch Shell has partnered with a unit of China’s largest coal producer to jointly develop clean coal technology.

The Netherlands-based oil group this week signed a deal with Shenhua Coal to Liquid and Chemical to work on advanced techniques to covert coal into gas, then to liquid – also known as coal liquefaction. The process results in a synthetic oil.

IEC / Bussard Fusion has gotten $8 million in Funding

The project that we hope to have out within the next six years will probably be a demo, which won't have the attendant secondary equipment necessary for electricity generation. Hopefully the demo will demonstrate everything that is needed to put a full-scale working plant into commercial production. So if the concept works we could have a commercial plant operating as early as 2020.

National study touts benefits of compact development

Mere days before the Metro Council is scheduled to receive a milestone report on transportation and land-use planning, a national research panel has concluded that building dense mixed-use neighborhoods could reduce driving and greenhouse gas emissions.

At last, an LED bulb worth talking about

Other LEDs disappoint, but the new bulb from Philips has the power to drag low-carbon spotlights out of the shadows.

Striving for sustainability (review of Permaculture Diary 2010)

The permaculture movement is not new now, having begun in the 1970s.

However, the insights of this ecologically-sustainable food movement are now more vital than ever as the world confronts the imminent threats of peak oil and climate change.

Margolis has compiled a beautiful and inspiring diary, complete with growing calendar and lots of room for notes for each day of the year. It’s peppered with stories of survival and transition, from across Australia and around the world.

A triumph for man, a disaster for mankind

Two ships are finishing the first commercial navigation of the fabled North-east Passage. It is an epic moment – but also a vivid sign of climate change in the Arctic.

Study: Iowa farms to benefit from climate bill, others won't

A new study making the rounds of Capitol Hill shows Iowa farms could potentially benefit from a cap-and-trade bill passed by the House to reduce carbon emissions.

However, the study shows many types of farms in other areas of the country are likely to lose money under the legislation.

EPA finds means to its end

No, the monster that scares them is under Bed No. 2.

That's where you'll find the Environmental Protection Agency, a once safe haven under the Bush administration that is anything but that under the Obama administration.

The EPA is planning an end run around Congress if it balks at passing cap-and-trade legislation.

It is drawing up rules to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Oil and gas industry’s carbon SOS

Oil and gas industry bosses are pressing the UK government to protect the North Sea’s electricity use from the next phase of the carbon trading scheme before the Copenhagen climate change conference in December.

The industry is concerned that plans to make oil and gas platforms and other offshore infrastructure part of the third phase of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which begins in 2013, would effectively impose an unfair tax on the industry as it is not possible to power platforms and equipment using anything other than fossil fuels. Oil and gas producers would be forced to buy extra carbon permits to make up for their pollution under the scheme, and will also suffer steadily rising costs as newer offshore equipment uses more power than older equipment.

Climate change depresses beer drinkers

IF THE sinking Maldives aren't enough to galvanise action on climate change, could losing a classic beer do it? Climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and colleagues say that the quality of Saaz hops - the delicate variety used to make pilsner lager - has been decreasing in recent years. They say the culprit is climate change in the form of increased air temperature.

On Climate, Partners on Hill Drift Apart

As climate change reemerges as an issue in the national policy debate, it may help define the legislative legacies of two men who once vied for the White House: Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Both men have championed the issue of global warming for years, including when they served as their party's presidential nominees in 2004 and 2008, respectively. But, for the moment, McCain is barely engaged in the issue beyond criticizing the climate bill passed by the House, while Kerry has emerged as one of the chamber's leading dealmakers. The fact that the two no longer appear to be on the same side underscores the challenge Democrats face in enacting the first national cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Why France Wants to Introduce A New Tax on Carbon Emissions

It's hard to imagine a new tax getting a bigger cheer from a political leader than the one unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy Sept. 10. The French President's radical plan to impose a carbon tax on homes and businesses, he said on a factory visit in eastern France, addresses the "question of survival of the human race." Slated for introduction next year, the levy marked the "first step," Sarkozy said, in "a fiscal revolution."

As Europe wrestles with the challenges posed by climate change, France's new tax is unlikely to be the last.

Turning green into gold: The path to riches — and happiness — is a bustling new eco-economy

We will emerge from the current recession, and, when we do, we can choose something different. Instead of re-creating conditions that delivered the economic crisis and systematically trashed our environment, we can build an economy that’s cleaner, greener and much less wasteful, where valuable things are valued, pollution has a cost and green choices — currently available only to the committed or wealthy — become mainstream.

Stern: Rich nations will have to forget about growth to stop climate change

Economic expansion cannot be achieved forever if greenhouse gases are to be curbed, warns the leading economist and author of the UK's government's report on climate change.

"Economic expansion cannot be achieved forever if greenhouse gases are to be curbed, ... "

This would imply that if greenhouse gases weren't curbed, we could expand forever. Nonsense of course.

Are we on an economic plateau? It depends what is meant by the economy. As we learned the hard way after the Panic of 2008, much of the economy is just electrons on a computer screen, not real products or useful services. If we count as part of the economy all the derivatives churned out by Wall Street, and disregard inflation, then the economy could theoretically grow forever, since it doesn't take any noticeable energy to type $10,000,000,000 on a screen instead of $1,000,000. A trillion of fiat currency here, a trillion there, pretty soon it adds up to nothing.

Peak Oil seems to have put us on a plateau already, although I think it will be a few years yet before we finally begin ratcheting downwards back to how our grandparents lived before WW2.

What always amazes me with these sort of statements is the time horizon. It is always 'ok' to continue growing for another 20 years or so. Only then do the problems set in. The peak in global oil production will happen, but 'only by 2030'. Climate change will be a problem but 'only in another 30 years' etc.etc.

It is as if all these influential people and institutions are scared of causing a panic. Or more likely they are being leaned on by the politicians. 'Yes there is a problem but we don't think we can be bothered to do anything about it now as we will scare the people and we don't really have a solution anyway which will make us look weak. So just push it out another 20 odd years. At least then we can say we are aware of the situation but that we have plenty of time and then get back to BAU and get re-elected.'

Well what if they are wrong? What a shock awaits...

Didn't you hear about the IBG Principal? I'll be gone...

"Economic expansion cannot be achieved forever if greenhouse gases are to be curbed, ... "

This would imply that if greenhouse gases weren't curbed, we could expand forever.

Actually the quoted statement does not formally imply the reverse (that expansion could expand forever without curbs). Although many people will take it to mean that.

But, your second point is an important one. We could redefine the economic metrics to allow the appearance of growth to continue. Given that our institutions seem to be designed around an assumption that a return on capital of a few percent per year is required, this is probably the best way to transition to something that resembles a steady-state economy.

Peak Oil seems to have put us on a plateau already, although I think it will be a few years yet before we finally begin ratcheting downwards back to how our grandparents lived before WW2.

Did our grandparents live in solar powered bamboo geodesics with LED lighting practicing hydroponics, aquaponics, permaculture? Did they get around on ultra efficient electric trains and utilize high tech sailboats for international trade etc...

Ok that may sound utopian, but my point is I simply can not buy the notion that we will discard all of our acquired knowledge and not at least attempt to move into a new paradigm of sustainability with what we have. Driving Hummers to Walmart to buy loads of crap from China on maxed out credit cards is not something our society as a whole will miss for long and I won't miss the folks who do...

Yeah if everything collapses we might indeed go back straight to the stone age but I don't see living like my grand parents as being in the cards at all!

Let us not exaggerate!

The link up top: The ambiguous blessing of new oil contains a gross error.

At present, nothing comes close to replacing oil – and the International Energy Agency reported last year that the world will have to discover fields as big as six Saudi Arabias every year by 2030 to meet demand. Besides, burning all that crude exacerbates the climate-change problem.

Italics theirs! No, it is not six Saudi Arabias every year but six Saudi Arabias total between now and 2030.

Ron P.

Perhaps not exaggeration so much as pretentious delusion:

Climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and colleagues say that the quality of Saaz hops - the delicate variety used to make pilsner lager - has been decreasing in recent years.

Does this mean that the flavor of the hops will turn bitter? :)

For some reason as I read that my brain keeps trying to turn it onto a Monty Python skit :-)

The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day, and demand increases each year about 5 percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every 9 months, or a new Saudi Arabia every 3 years. Obviously, this cannot continue.

Jimmy Carter: The Energy Problem: Address to the Nation. April 18th, 1977 - the "MEOW" speech.

So how'd we fix this last time around?

Preceding paragraph to the one quoted above:

The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about 6 percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last 5 years. Our Nation's economic and political independence is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980's the world will be demanding more oil than it can produce.

Hadn't anybody briefed Jimmy about Prudhoe Bay? This was right when production went on its decade long uptick. Imports were skyrocketing too, only to be cut back post-recession.

I don't think we have the same tricks in the bag as last time, though - refineries are about as complex as possible, CAFE is slow to make a dent, we already don't burn much oil for electricity. So it's recessions and price spikes, until conservation becomes hip, or we see lots full of HEVs.

six Saudi Arabias every year ...

I think we have a generic weakening of the logic in lanquage, by the growing use of "every X" where X can be (second, minute, hour,day year,...) as an emphatic adjective. You see this all the time in energy journalism, a power plant say can't be described as producing 100 megawatts, but has to have the every year appended for emphasis. Of course once that is done it no longer makes logical sense.

Of course once that is done it no longer makes logical sense.

Maybe it's just me? If it's not logical it can't make sense and if it doesn't make sense it can't be logical.

I think we have a generic weakening of the logic in lanquage

Case in point...;-)

Would someone here be willing to calculate the amount that is needed per year and then name an oil field that is approximate in size. I don't trust my math. I'm not even sure of the assumptions they are using when they say "six Saudi Arabias." Thanks.

To replace what we pump out, or about 26.3 million barrels per year, we would need a field smaller than Ghawar but larger than any other field ever found.

In barrels per day of crude oil, existing fields are declining by about 4 million barrels per day, per year. That is about what Ghawar is producing today. So looking at barrels per day we would need one Ghawar per year. The total of all new production put on each year does equal about 4 million barrels per day each year so far, for the last few years. So we have barely been staying even, treading water so to speak. But that is likely to change beginning next year as less and less new production comes on line each year.

Note: The figures here are crude only. The Wikipedia Megaprojects data includes crude plus natural gas liquids. So the figures there are about 10 to 15 percent higher than crude only megaprojects coming on line.

Ron P.

26.3 million barrels should be 26.3 billion barrels

I think everyone here recognizes the "26.3 million barrels a year" to actually be billions of barrels a year. Just adding comment since I used to be a proof readre. :)

I think everyone here recognizes...

TOD gets new readers every day.

Just adding comment since I used to be a proof readre. :)

oh, the irony ^_^

Intentional as well.

Thank you. That is helpful and a better visual for me.

Actually, what we need is a flow rate of 4 million barrels per day, per year of new affordabe oil.

Just because we discover new reserves capable of being extracted at current prices, whatever their size, it doesn't mean that the flow rate from them will be adequate for our needs, adequate flow rates depend on adequate investment. If the marginal cost of a barrel of oil is more than we can afford it won't be produced until later - new oil fields get steadily ever more expensive to produce, affordability is the essence of peak oil.

Since we don't know for sure oil companies costs to produce an adequate profitable flow rate or what people can afford we can't predict for sure the precise timimg of peak - nobody can predict whether final peak is 3 weeks away or 30 years away - only real world historical data will do, and if you trust it, that says the world peak for crude oil is already ~5 years in the past.

Actually, what we need is a flow rate of 4 million barrels per day, per year of new affordabe oil

Not only that - the 'new' oil should show up at a gas-station near you (Merika)- Not in China nor India ..... //Snarkarin ® larger than Hocky Pucks//

Just to jump in on "How many Saudi Arabias" :-)
Assuming in 2005, world production was 80 mb/d and production from current fields is decreasing at 5%/year (didn't I see 9% someplace?), that means in 2030 production will be 22mb/day from current fields. (A spreadsheet is an easy way to do this.) Assuming steady demand, this is a shortfall of (900mb/day/25 years) = 36mb/day in an average year. This is 18 Alaska pipelines per day, or 18 VLCC supertankers per day from new sources. (VLCC supertankers also have a capacity of 2mb).
The Alaska pipeline currently runs at half capacity, so this is 36 2008-Alaskas.
Caution - this seems about right to me, but ....

Since the shortfall in 2030 calculated this way is 58 mb/day, and since Saudi Arabia's production is 10 mb/day, it is a short fall of 5+ Saudi Arabia's in 2030, with the above assumptions.

If you add an assumption of increasing demand, things get ugly.

Hi Ron,

Thanks. It's so nice to read TOD after an absence and see good questions answered.

re: Debbie asks: "then name an oil field that is approximate in size"

Since you said: "To replace what we pump out, or about 26.3 -million- barrels per year, we would need a field smaller than Ghawar but larger than any other field ever found."

1) Could you possibly still do the "translation" to existing oil fields? Perhaps name two, instead of one, that would be the equivalent to what you're talking about.

Or, is this implied in talking about the "one Ghawar per year," which would yield the production rate of today's Ghawar? (Or what?)

2) And, I assume this means we need this *just to stay even*? i.e., no growth? True Plateau?

re: "But that is likely to change beginning next year as less and less new production comes on line each year"

So, it's really *more* than 6 Ghawars total?

It's Ghawar's flow rate, not reserves, that is required to stay even - so it could be a number of new smaller fields with good flow rates (or reworking of existing fields and increasing the flows and accelerating the depletion rate) that in total equal 6 x Ghawar.

BAU economic growth, should it ever return, requires Ghawar +~1.6% per year.

Aniya, xeroid is correct, it is flow rates we are concerned with. We say peak oil was the month, or year, that the maximum flow rate occurred. To prevent oil from peaking the world would have to discover enough fields to equal the current flow rate of Ghawar every year. In the last few years we have not done that. And, looking at the Wikipedia megaprojects, new fields coming on line in the next few years, we will have enough new fields coming on line to replace only about half the current decline.

And no, you cannot say it would be six Ghawars total, it would have to be one Ghawar every year between now and 2030. Count them up.

Sorry I did not see your post until Monday morning and am therefore late in replying.

Ron P.

It took me a while to realize that you didn't need the 26.3 (annual world production) number for your calculations. Also, Debbie's question was framed in a way that made it a little clumsy to answer - the issue, as I am sure she knows, is not how big the field is, but how much you can get out of it per year. Ghawar is nice because it has a flow rate about the right size, and it is big, so it will stick around for a while. If it only lasted one year, in the second year you would have to find two more, not one more, of them.

Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the father of the "green revolution" who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in Texas, a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95.

Borlaug died just before 11 p.m. Saturday at his home in Dallas from complications of cancer, said school spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips. Phillips said Borlaug's granddaughter told her about his death. Borlaug was a distinguished professor at the university in College Station.

The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.

Between Borlaug and Haber, they probably added 2 billion lives to this sorry planet.

Between Borlaug and Haber, they probably added 2 billion lives to this sorry planet.

well, albert bartlett told in his course that things are not what they look to to be. what makes the population go higher (medicine, clean water, etc) are bad in the end, while those that keep the population in check (wars, disease, famine) are good

between that and jevon's paradox, makes me wonder why nobody here embraces gas guzzlers, so that only the very rich few could afford cars. wtshtf, not many people will be affected, right? guess it has something to do with some non-negotiable standard of living :P. save the planet, but keep our freedom of movement.

edit: george carlin quote: the planet's fine, it we who are f..ed up :P

I am inclined to say that there is a temptation to over-apply Jevon's paradox - it really only applies in the absence of resource scarcity and other limiting factors.

If you have ever-increasing efficiency coupled with ever-increasing oil prices, I doubt you would ever see an increase in consumption. This would be especially true if it was the increase in oil prices that was driving the increase in efficiency.

A second factor comes into play when you are talking about vehicle miles traveled in a car. Ultimately each vehicle mile traveled represents time spent sitting in the car seat, and there are limits as to how much time people are willing to sit in the car when that time comes at the expense of doing other things. Let's say that there was some breakthrough, and average people could get 220mpg in a car - while there would probably be some increase in VMT, I doubt that it would increase by 10x (consider that driving 180K miles/year implies at least 8 hours a day sitting behind the wheel).

...there are limits as to how much time people are willing to sit in the car when that time comes at the expense of doing other things.

In Los Angeles there was an equation for how far you commute: Drive until you find a home that you're willing to live in with a mortgage you can afford. No doubt the rest of the country has different rationales for how far to drive to a job but the rise in miles driven per vehicle per year with the increase in overall vehicles driving the roads has a direct correlation.


well, you're not seeing all those people who don't have a car right now, and would gladly sit a couple of hours in a car every once in a while

i'm just pointing out that i'd rather have tens of thousands of people driving suv's, rather than a few millions driving priuses.

~600 million cars in the world ~6,000,000,000 people don't have cars at present but would maybe like one if they could afford it - Jevon's paradox isn't just about Americans living beyond their means, it's about everybody.

Let's say that there was some breakthrough, and average people could get 220mpg in a car

We have some proposed vehicles with that sort of milage. The Aptera comes to mind. The only thing holding these guys back are the fact that ultra-small cars are not very safe sharing the roads with SUVs.

True, if the Government would drastically cut the speed limits to a level that was safe for alternate forms of transport, then they would revolutionise the way we live. SUVs wouldn't be a problem if they were travelling slow enough, the same for trucks, etc.

It would also induce localisation, conservation, probably increase employment and force more heavy goods and passengers onto rail.

It's pretty simple, just imagine the changes that would have to happen if the maximum speed limit was set at say 30mph or 20mph. I love the psychology of it too, as a test of resolve. Simply ask someone who agrees that we need to change how we live, to save the planet, if they agree with a mandated national speed reduction to 20mph. It will be immediately obvious whether the person is for real or just a closet BAUist. :)

20 mph speed limit could be amusing to try - although I think it's called rush hour. hahahahaha

The only thing holding these guys back are the fact that ultra-small cars are not very safe sharing the roads with SUVs

You should try commuting by bicycle where I live.

BTW I could think of quite a few more things that are holding back the mass production of Apteras...

Mr. Borlaug, meet Mr. Malthus.

On a finite planet, creating population overshoot is not "saving" anything. He meant well, but should have known better.

I suggest a new unit. One billion human deaths = 1 borlaug. Thus, for instance, it might be said the earth is currently 3-5 borlaugs short of carrying capacity.

As Mr. Borlaug argues Mr. Malthus their differences – Mr. Liebig is slamming the door shaking his head in disbelief. Mr. Maslow down the aisle claims his pyramid can’t take it anymore; there are some foundation issues he yells… Who cares ?
Meanwhile Mr. Barlett has had enough – and as he points towards his graph his face ‘goes red’, but sadly at this point he is not able to utter his message … just having bitten off his tongue. Ouch ... Next door, Mr. Eroei is running his numbers one final time … and Hey (!) B-i-n-g-o… ‘Time is now’..

Just outside Mr. Murphy is kicking pebbles as usual, grunting ‘I’m bored…’


‘Time is now’..

Just outside Mr. Murphy is kicking pebbles as usual, grunting ‘I’m bored…’

Not to worry, have no fear, the Four Horsemen are near!


"Between Borlaug and Haber, they probably added 2 billion lives to this sorry planet."

But on the other side don't forget his work with Bosch on fixing nitrogen from the air thus allowing fertiliser and explosives prolonged WW1. From memory he also worked on poison gas.

Climate change is on a steady march with CO2 levels rising exponentially and the world is pushing for massive caps on emissions which will change all of our lives in fundamental ways. Yet according to polls less than 50% of Americans believe in it. (Is it a religion?) Is it just too damn complicated? Well it's about to get even more so.

The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive? by Peter Ward

The Medea Hypothesis is a term coined by Ward for the anti-Gaian hypothesis that multi-cellular life is suicidal. Ward’s premise is that Eukaryotes (multi-cellular life) succeeding at suicide will return Earth to the Prokaryotes (microbial) dominated state that has been the norm for most of its history.

Ward takes issue with the assertion of some of the new-age Gaia adherents that the Gaia Hypothesis deserves the scientifically exalted title of Theory. He believes that the Gaia Hypothesis is fundamentally flawed because of the unforgiving competition of natural selection that has given rise to every species. Animals don’t make life better for each other. If you think otherwise “consider how you feel about Gaia when you’re trapped on the Santa Monica Fwy during rush-hour.”

Ward’s archetype Medea is the wife of the legendary Jason who in a fit of rage against her husband, kills all of her children. The Medea Hypothesis claims that instead of enhancing or evolving in concert with Earth for mutual benefit, life is predatory and ultimately self-destructive.

By referring to the geologic record Ward argues that there have been at least 5 hydrogen sulfide-induced mass extinctions, such as the Great Dying, 251.4 million years ago. When the CO2 in the atmosphere rises to a point that the ice caps melt, the oceans become stagnant and oxygenated at the surface, Microbial bacteria then secrete Hydrogen Sulfide at the surface killing all life in the oceans and that H2S comes out of solution into the atmosphere and poisons terrestrial life as well.

Paleontologists and Climatologists are uncertain of the exact number that jump starts this time bomb but they do know that when CO2 reaches 1,000 PPM there is no ice left on the planet. Therefore that number is somewhere between our present 390 PPM and 1,000.

The K-T extinction event, which occurred 65.5 million years ago was due to a 10 K asteroid striking the earth. What was the source of that rapid rise in CO2 in the other 4 extinction events? The culprit was most likely volcanism which released massive amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Many scientists and climatologists now project that due to the exponential rise in CO2, and shrinking opportunities to sequester that CO2 in the biosphere we’ll be at 1000 PPM by the end of this century. That means a sea level rise of 240 feet with stagnant hydrogen sulfide oceans and toxic levels in the atmosphere eliminating complex life forms.

The sad part for humanity is we are the first organism that recognizes its own effect on climate that is leading to another mass extinction but helpless to stop that trajectory. What good is all this intelligence?


The K-T extinction event, which occurred 65.5 million years ago was due to a 10 K asteroid striking the earth. What was the source of that rapid rise in CO2 in the other 4 extinction events? The culprit was most likely volcanism which released massive amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Joe, the K-T extinction, the second greatest extinction of all time, happened at the exact same time as the Deccan Traps, the second greatest volcanism of all time. The greatest extinction of all time happened simultaneous with the greatest volcanism of all time, the Siberian Traps.

The debate rages as to whether a meteorite caused the K-T extinction. Some say that the meteor strike caused the volcanism but I think that is unlikely since there is evidence that the volcanism began several hundred thousand years prior to the meteor strike. The Deccan Traps volcanism lasted, by some estimates about 800,000 years. Of course this was not continuous eruptions. There would be times of violent eruptions followed by periods of thousands of years of only mild volcanism. The extinction rate reflects this same jumpy pattern.

All three of the other great extinctions can be timed at the same time, or approximately at the same time, as other periods of great volcanism.

Ron P.

The debate rages as to whether a meteorite caused the K-T extinction.

Ron you're right. There is still debate, but you have to give Luis and Walter Alvarez their due. Prior to their publishing their findings in 1980 there was little thought about how a massive bolide event might effect a dynamic system such as earth. After Hollywood produced a couple of films Deep Impact and Armageddon, suddenly there is this manic search for other catastrophic bolide events. (everybody wants to be in the movies)

But you have to ask: Could a meteor the size of Manhattan striking the earth touch off global volcanism?


Joe, of course such a strike could touch volcanism but there is evidence that the Deccan Traps had already started at the time of the impact. Go here:
Princeton University Archived Lectures The lectures are listed in order of the date delivered. Go almost to the bottom of the page to December 4, 2002 and, if you are truly interested, listen to this lecture:

December 4, 2002 - Public Lecture Series (a Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture)
Vincent Courtillot , Universite Paris 7: "Mass extinctions in the Phanerozoic: a single cause and if yes which?"

I was interested and have listened to this lecture several times. I also have the book but I can't seem to locate it at this minute or I would quote from it.

Courtillot shows that the extinction of species was not all at once but in steps, steps that likely corresponded with periods of extreme volcanism. He also shows the connection between periods of great volcanism and other extinctions.

Ron P.

the dinosaurs became extinct because......... they were "dinosaurs".
"something that is unwieldy in size, anachronistically outmoded, or unable to adapt to change."


Come on Elwoode, you can do better than that. There were far more species of medium size, small size and even tiny dinosaurs than there were very large dinosaurs. They went extinct right along with the very large dinosaurs. And they all went extinct at the same time. Well that is all within one million years of each other.

And they were adapt to change. They changed dramatically over the approximately 180 million years of their existance. Most paleontologists instist that they still exist. They are called birds. Now that is one hell of a change.

Something killed the dinosaurs, something drove all of them into extinction. It was either volcanism or a meteor strike and I believe it was the former.

Ron P.

volcanism and bolide collision acompanied by climate change and loss of habitat. migratory dinosaurs (birds) survived. maybe the dinosaurs did adapt, just not quickly enough. and i believe the extinction of dinosaurs occured over a period on the order of 40,000 yrs, perhaps the k-t mass extinction covered a million yrs.
being cold blooded, if indeed they were, probably had something to do with the dino's extinction.

About 65 percent of all species went extinct. The vast majority of them were not dinosaurs.

There is a debate as to whether dinosaurs were cold blooded or warm blooded. Birds, you know, are warm blooded. But many cold blooded specis did survive the K-T extinction so I doubt that was a factor.

i believe the extinction of dinosaurs occured over a period on the order of 40,000 yrs, perhaps the k-t mass extinction covered a million yrs.

I would dearly love to know where you got that information. I have never heard it before and I do a lot of reading on the subject. The extinctions did cover several hundred thousand years but where did you get that 40,000 year figure. I don't think there is any possible way thay could narrow it down to that short a time span. And remember the bolide group thinks it all took only a year or two.

Ron P.

K/T is the oddball of the major extinction episodes, though, even if the proximal cause was the Deccan Traps and not Chicxulub. Not my area of expertise, but I take an interest. One curious effect oft-debated in our cephalopod-loving lab (FWIW, I am one of Peter Ward's grad students) is how deep sea life was far less affected than surface dwellers (often, we are discussing why Nautilus managed to survive K/T while their ammonoid and belemnoid counterparts failed). This was not the case in the "greenhouse extinctions", where there is no such disparity in survival between shallow and deep; rather, oceanic anoxia and euxinia probably removed benthic life first.

I am one of Peter Ward's grad students

Hey Ashen, a couple of months ago I saw him give a presentation on his Medea theory. During the question/answer period, I asked him what he thought of Jeremy Jackson's "Brave New Oceans" presentation, and he said, "I know Jeremy well, and I think it's very irresponsible for him to deliver this message of hopelessness." Prof. Ward didn't say he was wrong, though.

So I've given that a lot of thought. As you may or may not know, I'm a bit of a doomer myself, and adopting the proper public stance is kind of important -- I'd like to retain at least a few friends. Jackson basically runs with Ward's green-skies/Medea theories and concludes: the oceans will be dead within 30 years. It hard not to go there, so why not talk about it frankly? I know Zeus put Delusional Hope last into Pandora's Box, but should we play along? Since you study The Doom professionally, I'd really like to hear your thoughts!

I'm not explicitly familiar with Jackson's lecture, but I'll watch it online here when I have a chance. It's not a topic I am optimistic about either.

Knowing Peter, his comment seems kinda tongue-in-cheek to me. After all, he can frequently be found preaching doom himself :) He talks about the ongoing anthropocene extinction event in The End of Evolution and Under a Green Sky, and the next book he has in the pipeline is about the coming sea level rise, with a working title of something like Our Flooded Earth. He also does more public outreach in general than anyone else in our department. So, I don't want to speak for him and this is just my take, but I would presume that he said that because doesn't want the public to get the message that things are "hopeless" and thereby become completely apathetic and not even attempt to avert the coming catastrophe. Especially while it seems a lot of his outreach is designed to galvanize the public to wake up and [at least try to] save the world. In my mind, this is noble but futile.

Personally, I am not a fan of delusional hope. I favor disseminating the straight dope instead, the real data and its real implications, and the more public discourse about it, the better. I just don't think it will ultimately make any difference. Status quo has too much inertia.

Thank you for your thoughts, sounds like we're on the same page. Prof. Ward said we need to make a game on climate change and get the kids to play it. He said his son plays Spore all the time, so coincidentally, I created a Spore Galactic Adventure called Global Warming Fix. I should probably email him about that...

And remember the bolide group thinks it all took only a year or two.

Some think hours.

Here's something to ponder (pdf warning), Survival in the first hours of the Cenozoic. That some datapoints suggest the extinctions took hundreds of thousands of years may be due to the Signor-Lipps Effect. A couple of odd datapoints like the survival of burrowing and partially aquatic animals lend some credence to the thermal pulse theory as does the global extent and volume of shocked quartz spherules and soot in the Iridium layer.

"I would dearly love to know where you got that information. I have never heard it before and I do a lot of reading on the subject."

you will have to do some more reading.


My personal viewpoint is that the Chicxulub bolide impact was the coup de grace, the final blow that finished off what orbital forcing and volcanism started.

Bolidemania was alive and well among researchers in the 80s, before Hollywood seized on it as a killer plot device.

joule and all,

I read Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's books 'The Life and Death of Planet Earth' and 'Rare Earth'.


I thought they were both a good read, and recommend them to you.

Please note that my recommendation does not constitute my carte blanche endorsement of their theories and ideas...I simply find them tjhought-provoking.

The Rare Earth hypothesis I find really compelling; it seems like it could be useful as a tool to encourage better stewardship of the planet too, since, if the REH is correct, it may well be the only one with complex life in, say, the local group of galaxies.

Many scientists and climatologists now project that due to the exponential rise in CO2, and shrinking opportunities to sequester that CO2 in the biosphere we’ll be at 1000 PPM by the end of this century. That means a sea level rise of 240 feet with stagnant hydrogen sulfide oceans and toxic levels in the atmosphere eliminating complex life forms.

Who are these 'many scientists' who project that we will be at 1000 ppm CO2 in 2100?

Ron - How ya' doin?

How about Dr. Vicky Pope, head of climate change predictions at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, writes in the UK Times that:

In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5°C by the end of the century.

M.I.T doubles it's 2095 warming projection to 10 degrees Fahrenheit with 886 ppm in a worst case scenario.

Let's not forget the IPCC in their "worst case scenario" as well.

In the last ten years most climate modelers have thrown out their previous predictions because they have been too conservative.

It may be “a worst-case scenario” for a lot of modelers, but I would call a "worst case scenario": BAU.


MIT is firmly in the technocornucopianfreemarketsolvesall school.

Mistakes in definitions (maybe not yours):
Eukaryotes are cells with a nucleus, not multi-cellular life
Prokaryotes are cells without a nucleus, sometimes thought to have transitioned to be the nucleus in eukaryotes.
Microbes are just small things. Microbes can be multi-cellular.
From Wikipedia Microorganism: Microorganisms are very diverse; they include bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists; microscopic plants (called green algae); and animals such as plankton and the planarian. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as non-living.

Great post. H2S is more dangerous than the average individual understands. But as we recognize our own fault for driving this problem, please take a look at what some are doing. We have verified in the laboratory to reduce H2S to below detectable levels (below 4ppb) through a catalytic reaction that converts proportionate levels of CO2 into carbon, water and sulfur. And we are hosting a seminar you may be interested in: http://www.swapsol.com/events.php
Evan Howell

The NYTIMES article on water misses the most important point, that regulatory agencies are functioning properly. As agencies of the state their principle purpose is to enable and continue the ongoing exploitation of resources for the benefit of the corporations (eg private profit). The function of the state is to protect those resources and that profit from any mistake that might be caused by outbreak of democracy. It's not that these agencies lack money - they have all the money they need to function as rubber stamps for business. More money, more staff, real enforcement power - all that would get in the way.

Another data point the NYTIMES omitted - who owns the water company featured in the story. Is it Nestle's or Suez or who? The water company was fully aware of what its water was doing. Maybe it's a muni and the town is a fully-owned subsidiary of one of the coal companies? Personally, I have a hard time seeing how any response might make a difference - short of a citizen militia taking over the water facility.

The government and business classes are nothing more than fraudsters and organized criminals. An honest businessperson can't survive long; he is at too much of a disadvantage. And all of that is very much a function of limits. The only "profits" to be had now come from cannibalization.

cfm at the Growlery in Gray, ME

Father of Green Revolution dies

the Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.

Wish I'd have known this yesterday am - would have made a good Campfire topic.....

As I noted with my previous post, between Borlaug and Haber, we have probably 2 billion extra humans on the planet.
The rapid rise in population, especially in India and Pakistan, would not of been possible.
All humans now have 1/2 of the nitrogen in their bodies from the Haber Process.

Ahh - sorry -didnt see you had posted it earlier.

All humans now have 1/2 of the nitrogen in their bodies from the Haber Process.

So...not to be crass, but is that provable, or just inferable?

"The Haber-Bosch Process today consumes more than one percent of the energy on Earth and is responsible for feeding roughly one-third of its population.[3] On average, one-half of the nitrogen in a human body is synthetic, the product of one of a Haber-Bosch plant. Bosch was an ardent collector of insects, minerals, and gems. His collected meteorites and other mineral samples were loaned to Yale University, and eventually purchased by the Smithsonian.[4][5] He was an amateur astronomer with a well-equipped private observatory."


For more detail see:
^ Smil, Vaclav. Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press (2001)

Big Spenders? They Wish

Across the United States a sense has taken hold that the Great Recession and the financial crisis are predominantly a result of national profligacy, as if the economy had been undone by insatiable shoppers, foolhardy home buyers and greedy investment bankers. Extravagance and recklessness certainly played crucial roles, and yet they are only part of the explanation.

Many have lived beyond their incomes simply because incomes have been outstripped by the costs of middle-class life.

The article includes the story of a woman who lived beyond her means - renting homes in better neighborhoods than she could afford, sending her kids to educational camps, etc. - to make sure her children had good educations and wouldn't be poor like she was.

According to Elizabeth Warren, there are a lot of Americans like her. People who would not go into debt just to buy a big screen TV or a fancy car will do just about anything to get their kids into good schools. They may find out the sacrifice wasn't worth it, if a good education no longer automatically leads to a good job and the good life.

The thing I don't get is that either they won't let their children help them or there children won't help them and they are too embarressed to say. Is it an American thing? It would be usually (not impossible!) to not give your parents some help. In the end it started when she could not pay a fine. With 2 daughters she should have been able to find the money!

I found that surprising, too. But one of her daughters was still a dependent (not yet in college), while the other was struggling to pay her own bills.

Still, I think many cultures would find it odd that they did not live together to save money. Remember that "Oil Shock" movie, where the woman's mother freezes to death because she can't afford heat? Apparently, the idea of having her mother move in with her just never occurred to her.

In the article, it was a $10 registration that caused that woman to spiral into homelessness. I guess the moral is that you need a car. Eat at a soup kitchen if you must. Don't pay the rent or the utilities. But pay your car bills, because otherwise, you can't get to work. Push comes to shove, you can live in your car.

Hi Leanan,

Was this scene from the BBC production "If the Oil Runs Out"? (I ask, because I haven't had time to watch it as yet).

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSQ0KtnaMVc


Not sure. "Oil Shock" was fictional, and the problem wasn't peak oil, it was terrorists and a storm that disrupted supplies. It was a Fox movie.

I haven't seen "Oil Shock" but, I have seen "If the Oil Runs Out" and don't recall anybody dying from the cold in that movie.

Alan from the islands

I found a new tool - a whole-house energy monitor.

I just installed the thing, and have it mostly configured. There are some phantom loads in the house somewhere that I need to find. The sensors are attached inside of the breaker box where the mains come into the house from the meter. The display unit has rechargeable batteries and communicates wirelessly, so I can carry it downstairs and start flipping breakers to get a rough idea where the various loads are.

You can also view data from a web browser - there is a live-demo you can view on the web here:


They've had them over here for a while now.

They can help in finding those parasitic loads (walk around with it turning things off to find out who the culprit is). However in day to day use there's not much they can do. Maybe your usage is tottering along on 548W and then suddenly leaps to 3104W. What do you do? Well nothing since its usually something to do with heat turning itself on. You don't know if its too much, what you might do about it, if its acceptable, etc.

It pretty much fails in giving you actionable situation awareness, doing your own home energy audit tends to be more use.

My experience is people in the family do turn unneccesary stuff off when they realise how much is being consumed - put the receiver in a prominent place where they can see the cost - and it's a talking point for visitors who rarely know how much they use let alone waste. No need to preach, just let them use their own eyes. We need a similar tool for gas meters.

Such a device might be a really good investment if one wishes to reduce ones energy consumption.

Information flows.

There was this subdivision of identical houses, the story goes, except that the electric meter in some of the houses was installed in the basement and in others it was installed in the front hall, where the residents could see it constantly, going round faster or slower as they used more or less electricity. Electricity consumption was 30 percent lower in the houses where the meter was in the front hall.

Systems-heads love that story because it's an example of a high leverage point in the information structure of the system. It's not a parameter adjustment, not a strengthening or weakening of an existing loop. It's a NEW LOOP, delivering feedback to a place where it wasn't going before.

Donella Meadows: Leverage Points - Places To Intervene In A System

Re: At last, an LED bulb worth talking about

OK, here we go again.... according to Philip's spec sheets, the £25 ($50.00) 4-watt GU10 lamp featured in this article produces 85 lumens, and has a rated life of 16,000 hours and a CRI of 80. By comparsion, my £2.50/$5.00 Philip 20-watt MR16 IRC lamps provide 400 lumens or nearly FIVE times more light and the CRI is 100 (higher numbers are better); rated life in this case is 5,000 hours.

The estimated 16,000 hour life of this LED lamp, as determined by "probability analysis", is the point at which 50 per cent of the lamps in a test group have theoretically failed and 50 per cent continue to operate (just hope you're on the lucky side of that divide). Unfortunately, what Philips doesn't tell us is the lamp's lumen depreciation curve -- after all, a lamp that produces half of its original light output after five or six thousand hours is not going to be of much value to us regardless of its reduced wattage.

Furthermore, this lamp CANNOT be dimmed, it CANNOT be used in outdoor fixtures, and it CANNOT be used within enclosed fixtures, e.g., recessed pots or covered track heads. These same restrictions apply to the 12-volt MR16 version which, by the way, CANNOT be used with electronic transformers.

So, I could spend TEN times more for a lamp that 1) *might* last three times longer than the lamp I use now; 2) that only produces one-fifth as much light initially and perhaps as little as one-tenth by the end of its nominal life; 3) that produces light of a lesser quality; 4) that is incompatible with the majority of my fixtures and, in addition, which cannot be dimmed; and 5) that on a lumen per watt basis is no more efficient than the halogen lamps I use now. Thanks, but I'll take a pass.


Before we get too hung up on cost, exactly WHY are these lamps so much more expensive?


Hi Nick,

I don't honestly know, but I suspect R&D costs are quite high, the fabrication equipment is pricey and production volumes will remain low for some time to come. There's also a risk that LEDs could turn out to be a technical and/or marketing flop(*) or that some other lighting technology might surpass it (e.g., See: http://www.sandia.gov/media/NewsRel/NR2002/tungsten.htm). In any event, don't fall victim to the hype.


* See: http://groups.google.ca/group/sci.engr.lighting/browse_thread/thread/eb9...

Because silicon and germanium are not direct-bandgap semiconductors?

The lamp in the article was 3W, not 4W. You are looking at the wrong bulb. In the original artical there is a link to a Philips document. The GU10 LED Econic bulb is speced at 3W, 490Lumin, 3000K. No other information on the GU10 is available in the document. Other Econic bulbs however we listed. I searched the Philips web site with the internal search function, using google, and did a global search using google. I found no other information on this lamp.

Hi Steven,

Just to clarify, I was looking at the 120-volt version of this same lamp, which is rated at 4-watts (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/browseliterature/download/p-5992.pdf). Unless I'm mistaken, the Econic line of LEDs is sold under the EnduraLED banner here [née MasterLED]; if that's the case, the difference is wattage is due to our lower line voltage (it's not uncommon for published wattage to vary slightly at various voltages).

The spec sheet for the European version doesn't show this lamp's lumen rating and, oddly, lists its rated life at 15,000 hours, one thousand fewer hours than the North American version (see: http://www.p4c.philips.com/files/g/g08727900844924/g08727900844924_pss_e...).

Although the Philips brochure linked to this article indicates 490 lumens, I know of no production LED that operates at 163 lumens per watt. The "490" is likely the lamp's MCBP rating (maximum beam candlepower) which is close to the 480 MBCP shown in the North American spec sheet. I suspect someone simply transposed these numbers in error.


The picture for the EnduraLED is different than the Econic LED bulb. I think they are two different products. Until I can find Econic in the Philips web site I have to conclude they are different products. In my opinion the differences we are seeing are because they are two different products.

There is a lot of research into improving LED technologies and there some very good LEDs in labs right now. Philips is doing a lot of work in this area. Additionally an efficient AC to DC converter will consume 3W at US or European voltages.

Hi Steven,

Which two pictures are you comparing? The two lamps shown in the North American spec sheet I referenced above are not GU10; they're 12-volt MR16s with a GU5.3 pin base. I was referring to Part No. 40673-6 which is the last entry in the first table located at the top of page 2.

And, contrary to what you claim, wattage ratings do vary by voltage. For example, my Osram Sylvania catalogue shows me that a QTP1x40TT5 PSN-F ballast consumes 38-watts when operated at 120-volts, whereas this same ballast is rated at 37-watts at 277-volts.


There is "no danger" of mass power cuts in the UK during the next decade, Energy Secretary Ed Miliband has said.

-This guy is young enough and currently in charge enough to be crucified by this remark come the day: make it so...


The "Assume the Opposite" Rule: Generally, when a public official makes a statement about energy, assume that the opposite of what they are saying is the truth.

To be followed by - if they are later called on it - with the 'who could have known ' defense.

In Heilbroner's The Wordly Philosophers, there's an amusing quote (Schumpeter, or maybe Keynes?) about how these sorts of pronouncements are essentially incantations - magic spells recited to try to avert the disaster of which they speak.

As such they aren't really true-or-false assertions, but they're useful "words to the wise".

"This guy is young enough and currently in charge enough " he'll be out of power soon enough. I'm away so can't look up the data but ther have been many,many Energy Secretaries over the life of this government.

So he will say, "of course if we had stayed in power it would have been Ok...." the speech doesn't even need writing it's a standard issue.

Concerning the article, Turning to Windmills, but Resistance Lingers:

The total cost for the Howlands’ turbine, including installation, would be $72,000, they said.

After investing some $40,000 in a 10-kilowatt turbine and legal fees....

... installing a 132-foot windmill in her backyard...

They wanted to install a 132 foot tall wind turbine within 105 feet of their neighbor's house. They could have installed a photovoltaic system cheaper avoiding the dangers of a shattered turbine, flying ice, noise and flicker.

They wanted to install a 132 foot tall wind turbine within 105 feet of their neighbor's house. They could have installed a photovoltaic system cheaper avoiding the dangers of a shattered turbine, flying ice, noise and flicker.

This is a rare instance where I am am perfect agreement with the denial of permit. I am already on recors as saying that urban/suburban wind is pretty much fraudulent. Unless you live on top of a high ridge, let the big boys do the wind thing. PV, OTOH, only has a smallish penalty for scaling to smallish unit size.

This may be a small glimmer of hope that mountaintop removal coal extraction may be slowed down....


Don't hold your breath on that. With gas prices on the rise (again) and nuclear power still too-unpopular for any politician to tread there, what other domestic power source is there that can scale up in the timeframe required but coal? When petrol gets expensive enough, the science-illiterate Nascar n' Jesus crowd will be screaming for a "solution", and not care whether it's "dirty" or "clean". Just as long as it keeps the H3 rolling to Walmart and keeps Cleetus and the boys entertained with 10 channels of ESPN and Fox.

Mountaintop removal is here to stay. West Virginians had best reconcile themselves to this political fact --the sooner the better-- and take appropriate measures to safeguard their families' safety, such as moving to another state.

HARM...SO, President Palin's rally chant will be: "Dig, Baby, Dig! Blast it here, Burn it Now!"?

Lovely...buy stock in coal mining companies I guess? It's all about the almighty dollar, I guess...

I agree with your sentiment but I don't bother pointing fingers at any politician. They are just the lackeys of the American people. Yep...the almight dollar. And it's the dollar of the American people that will fund the mining. We'll collectively do any damage to the planet if it allows us any chance to keep matters as close to BAU IMO.

"mountaintop removal coal extraction may be slowed down...." how many mountaintops left?

Peak mountaintops.

Kind of a slow day so I'll throw in a sort of WOT.

I just bought a third, "little" generator. The big guy is a 23kW diesel that I never use (but I got it free). Our regular back-up generator is one with a 10kW surge and 8kW continuous rating. It's needed to run the well pump (mostly), HWH and electric stove if we don't have the wood cook stove going. It's powered by a 16hp gas engine and burns about 1.5gph.

The new guy has a 2.4kW surge and 2kW continuous rating. It's 5.5hp and burns about 0.5gph. It'll be more than adequate for evening usage and for the fridge and freezers when the power is out. It'll also run the little 1/3hp pump from our water storage tanks for household water.

Plus, it was on sale for a hundred bucks off.



Folks going off grid might want to consider some of the commercail model welder generators for thier midrange backup or intermittent power needs.

I have a Miller that is continiusly rated at about the same specs as your 16 hp unit and has both 120 vac and 240 vac.And she welds like a dream-both ac and dc .Most pro welders,especially the self employed ones,are big Miller fans-personally I wouldn't buy another make unless a bargain find.Properly maintained and stored in a good dry environment one of these machines will last almost forever and there are dealer service facilities and qualified mechanics in every large city and many small towns.

As a self powered welder rents for seventy five bucks and up per day and as there are many times such a welder is either very useful or simply essential on a farm or homestead it's easy to see that such a machine can be a very good investment.

Every once in a while I can be persauded to haul mine off to a local job for a few hours.The going rate around here is fifty to sixtyfive bucks and the out of pocket is five to tem max.Folks with reasonably good eyesight and good hand eye coordination can learn to weld well enough to handle most simple jobs in one evening course at a community college.

another nice thing about owning a welder generator is that out in the boonies once you know your nieghbors you can loan it out occasionally knowing that you can borrow something back of equal use to you.Such informal sharing of expensive equipment is a major step in the building of long term friendships and a sound sustainable local community.

"Folks with reasonably good eyesight and good hand eye coordination can learn to weld well enough to handle most simple jobs in one evening course"

Thanks OFM, welding is one thing i never got round to so it's good to know that one evening should sort it, being cocky i guessed it wasn't rocket science. My practical skills are somewhat out of practice but I guess i will be brushing them all up within a few years or less if i can teach my kids. Probably better if i can find someone else to teach them as they're more inclined to listen:-)

Bad news for media: More believe they're biased September 13, 2009 11:00 PM ET


There's the cover story for next months Duh Magazine.

Hello TODers,

I hope all will take the time to read this EB link from the Pres. of ASPO-International:

Peak Oil - Economy and Climate on the path down from the peak
by Kjell Aleklett

I think it dovetails nicely to support both Jay's Thermo/Gene Collision and Duncan's Olduvai Re-Equalizing. Consider some of Kjell's comments highlighted below:
..The primary requirement for all of us is that we feed our bodies 2,500 kilocalories per day. This means that the world’s 6.7 billion inhabitants need to eat a large amount of food. In units of watt‐hours it is approximately 7000 terawatt‐hours per year. For historical reasons, when we discuss volumes of oil we describe this in ”barrels” (1 barrel is 159 liters), and the unit million barrels per day is used (Mb/d). If we compare humanity’s food energy requirement with the energy in oil then we need 12 Mb/d...

..At the start of this essay I mentioned that we eat oil. Today, the food that we consume would never arrive on our table without oil. A study from the USA shows that every 1000 kilocalories on our table require more than 5000 kilocalories of oil and natural gas to get there. The rest of the world is not so far behind that, so let’s assume a factor of five. It means that 60 Mb/d of oil and natural gas is needed just to put food on all our tables, and that is more than 40% of the total production of oil and gas. That requirement will grow with the increase in the world’s population.

..Another significant factor on petroleum demand has been human population growth. Oil production per capita peaked in the 1970s.[24] The United States Census Bureau predicts that the world’s population in 2030 will be almost double that of 1980.[25] Author Matt Savinar predicts that oil production in 2030 will have declined back to 1980 levels as worldwide demand for oil significantly out-paces production.[26][27]
Roughly 4 billion people back in 1980, approx. 8 billion by 2030. If Savinar's prediction is TRUE, then long before 2030 arrives--we will have Major Problems feeding people unless we have drastically reformed our food supply chains.

We already see major evidence of this breakdown occurring today. From the UN FAO:

With nearly one billion people suffering from hunger and food prices still high in many countries, increased investments in agriculture and greater attention to food and agriculture in domestic and international policies are crucial in the fight against poverty, according to FAO in a new publication, "Responding to the food crisis: synthesis of medium-term measures proposed in inter-agency assessments".

Also, from a prior weblink, 1-in-9 Americans are now depending upon food stamps. Some states are even worse:

Put down that doughnut and think about this: Statistics show that about 30 percent of adults in the Volunteer state are obese, and the number for children is equally shocking. Those numbers rank Tennessee as the nation's fourth-fattest state...

A recent study at Ohio State University found that people who used food stamps were more likely to be obese. More Tennesseans are receiving food stamps than ever — almost one in six — and the numbers are only expected to increase...
IMO, obese people on food stamps are: the Least Likely Group to take up the exertions of swinging pickaxes and sledgehammers to remove lawns and concrete for relocalized permaculture & Kunstlerization. The young and the physically fit in Tennessee will have to Volunteer to do the majority of this transformation as the obese gradually and slowly become more fit, thus capable of shouldering their fair share.

The Big question as food shortages & Peak Outreach spreads: Will the young and fit live up to their Volunteer status? Or will the economic depression make even greater numbers of 'Murkans increase their girth, thus making it that much harder to shift their massive weight in large numbers towards manual labor?

I think you have cause and effect reversed. People on food stamps are more prone to obesity because healthy food is harder to get if you're poor. As the woman in the NY Times article discussed upthread put it...if you go to a food bank, they give you cakes and cookies, not fruits and vegetables.

Above Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Human Suffering

In India people bathe in the Ganges and i have seen people drinking from it even though it is heavily polluted, cholera, unburnt body parts, sewage...

Maybe I am becoming cynical but it does not hugely surprise me that tap water in the US is polluted. What was that Jukia Roberts film called?

In some parts of the world is it known that it is cheaper to pay the fine or bribe than clean up:-(

In some parts of the world is it known that it is cheaper to pay the fine or bribe than clean up:-(

reminds me of the ford pinto? story.
cheaper to pay damages to families than recall all the cars.

anyway, abotu that: out of sight, out of mind.
1) you can't really see the pollutants in the water, so unless your hair falls off, you bathe.
2) we know, but let's not assume they know. i don't think people bathing in the gange read the internet or find out about poluting accidents upstream from newspapers.
3)it's a religious thing.

Will the home of Big Oil and anti-ethanol rhetoric become an ethanol powerhouse?

Could happen:


I was intrigued by the article up top about "starting" to explore offshore Greenland, now that it is warming up. I spent the summer of 1975 working with a seismic survey off the west coast. Saw a few icebergs drifting down the coast, but they were never a problem for the ship.

Were any other members involved during that era?

Not I merv. But I do recall stories regarding efforts to "berg-proof" the big Hibernia platform off of Newfoundland. Greenland "thawing" might very well make offshore operations all the more difficult instead of easier.

RE: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Human Suffering

Obviously the mainstream media doesn't cover this much but they have been dumping silicofluorides into our drinking water for years now. The main source of these SiF's are WASTE from phosphate fertilizer plants that is captured in their 'scrubbers".

Dartmouth researcher warns of chemicals added to drinking water

In a recent article in the journal NeuroToxicology, a research team led by Roger D. Masters, Dartmouth College Research Professor and Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government Emeritus, reports evidence that public drinking water treated with sodium silicofluoride or fluosilicic acid, known as silicofluorides (SiFs), is linked to higher uptake of lead in children.

Sodium fluoride, first added to public drinking water in 1945, is now used in less than 10% of fluoridation systems nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) 1992 Fluoridation Census. Instead, SiF's are now used to treat drinking water delivered to 140 million people. While sodium fluoride was tested on animals and approved for human consumption, the same cannot be said for SiFs.

"If SiFs are cholinesterase inhibitors, this means that SiFs have effects like the chemical agents linked to Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and other puzzling conditions that plague millions of Americans," said Masters. "We need a better understanding of how SiFs behave chemically and physiologically."


Some news coverage:

Fluoride & Bone Cancer: Is Harvard Professor Hiding a Link?


If you wish to delve further I recommend this interview and article:


Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb


Seriously folks should we expect any less when the most important issues about human livelihood are decided solely on the basis of profit for transnational corporations?

Wake up!!

LOL!! Who am I kidding, it's too late...