Drumbeat: October 11, 2009

"Peak oil" theorists: World running out: The group, meeting in Denver this week, wants immediate steps to avert economic ruin.

The world is running out of oil faster than society suspects, and last year's $4.11 gasoline spike was just a bitter hint of the future, according to a "peak oil" theory whose key proponents will gather in Denver this week.

Though peak-oil theorists prompt scorn from many in the petroleum industry, they've attracted an audience in some political and financial circles with their warnings to avert disaster by conserving, diversifying and exploring at an urgent pace.

"Up until now, technology has delivered dazzling results to America and the world economy, in delivering oil from all around the world despite increasingly challenging environments," said Dave Bowden, executive director of the Denver-based Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas-USA, or ASPO. "The harsh reality is, despite the best efforts of amazing technology, they're not finding as many of these big fields anymore."

Economic Democracy Demands One World Balance

The principle resource for our progressive, democratic civilization is oil, the abundant black goo that powers it all. Like the oceans, it seems to us to be endless, while at the same time we all admit it isn't. Some of that oil powers our cars and heats our homes, but the vast majority of it is pumped directly into the endless little things that comprise our wonderful, western lives. Industrial consumption of oil is the real devil, turning oil from a sticky gunk below the ground into toaster handles, medical equipment, soccer balls, and an avalanche of useless crap from China. We have clearly reached an era of peak oil, and are ploughing through the back half of the graph at exponential speed.

Petrobras: More Transparency Would Be Nice

Petrobras (PBR) has announced that the first oil produced from pre-salt Tupi extended well test was ferried ashore.

...Certainly that sounds like good news, until you consider it apparently took 160 days to produce at an average of 2000 bopd -- far less than the 14,000 bopd that Petrobras announced in May.

Mexico govt shuts inefficient power company

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government said on Sunday it was closing down the power company that supplies electricity to the capital and surrounding area because of inefficiency.

Federal police stood guard at installations of Luz y Fuerza del Centro, which supplies electricity to Mexico City and the surrounding area.

Jobless, oil dependency challenge Russia: Medvedev

MOSCOW: Unemployment and dependency on energy revenues remain big obstacles for Russia as it struggles to emerge from its first recession in a decade, President Dmitry Medvedev said in a television interview aired on Sunday.

Rainy-day oil funds see Mideast through downturn

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The Middle East has weathered the global economic downturn better than other parts of the world because its energy exporters were able to tap billions of dollars in oil profits collected when prices were booming, the International Monetary Fund said Sunday.

By reaching into those reserves, major oil producers like Saudi Arabia shielded their economies from the worst of the slump by maintaining government spending and injecting liquidity into domestic banking systems rattled by the credit crisis.

Bush-Cheney insider surfaces in Pemex scandal

A man who was a press liaison for former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney is at the center of a case involving $2 million of fuel stolen from Mexican oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos that was resold in the United States.

Russian Arctic tribe at risk from Yamal gas projects

67 N LATITUDE, 71 E LONGITUDE, Russia (Reuters) - The Nenets tribespeople of Russia's frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge -- under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years.

"For them it is fortune, for us terror," said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas giant Gazprom to drill the region Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described as "the world's storehouse" of gas and oil.

Some drilling on disputed federal lands allowed

WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday that oil and gas drilling will be permitted on some of the Utah land parcels near national parks that were hurriedly readied for leasing in the waning days of the Bush administration.

Polar bears, oil workers in closer contact

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Oil companies scouring the coastline of Alaska's North Slope for new production sites are converging on the same territory as hungry polar bears trying to escape shrinking and thinning sea ice.

Polar bears have not attacked any workers recently, but oil companies are reporting four times as many sightings as they did last decade.

Nissan rushes to put electric car charging stations across Tennessee

With the rollout of Nissan's first electric vehicles just over a year away in Tennessee, the race is on to figure out how to set up a network of charging stations swiftly enough to get ready.

It won't be easy.

Thousands of chargers will be needed to satisfy Nissan's ambitious plans to sell thousands of the clean-running cars in the first year as it strives to be the first automaker in the world to successfully mass market an all-electric vehicle.

Solar power outshining Colorado's gas industry

As La Plata County in southwestern Colorado looks to shift to cleaner sources of energy, solar is becoming the power source of choice even though it still produces only a small fraction of the region's electricity. It's being nudged along by tax credits and rebates, a growing concern about the gases heating up the planet, and the region's plentiful sunshine.

The natural gas industry, which produces more gas here than nearly every other county in Colorado, has been relegated to the shadows.

Tougher state environmental regulations and lower natural gas prices have slowed many new drilling permits. As a result, production – and the jobs that come with it – have leveled off.

Green and Greener in Suburban Towns

FOR two years, Valerie Williams had been considering making the five-bedroom home she grew up in more energy efficient — hoping to shrink her $350 monthly utility bill — but more pressing expenses always came first.

Then the town of Babylon came up with an offer she couldn’t refuse: if she and her husband, Carlos, paid $250 for an energy audit, the town would finance the recommended upgrades. The couple would repay the town at a monthly rate below the savings on their utility bill. The audit, done this month, found that by insulating walls, basement and attic, at a cost of $6,879, the Williamses could save about $1,300 a year.

JOHN KERRY and LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)

ONVENTIONAL wisdom suggests that the prospect of Congress passing a comprehensive climate change bill soon is rapidly approaching zero. The divisions in our country on how to deal with climate change are deep. Many Democrats insist on tough new standards for curtailing the carbon emissions that cause global warming. Many Republicans remain concerned about the cost to Americans relative to the environmental benefit and are adamant about breaking our addiction to foreign sources of oil.

However, we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.

Energy Secretary Chu speaks on global warming at the University of Rochester

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was at the University of Rochester on Saturday, where he talked about the "catastrophic" consequences that will be in store if Americans don't address energy issues soon.

What happened to global warming?

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

So what on Earth is going on?

Global warming, Joe Romm and famous wagers

Yesterday I did my part in continuing a grand tradition by wagering $1,000 with Joe Romm, principal contributor to ClimateProgress. The wager concerns temperatures in 2019--if they are .15 degrees Celsius warmer than 2009, he wins. If they are lower, I win. If I win, I will donate the proceeds to a charity to be named by my readers.

Nitrogen Cycle: Key Ingredient In Climate Model Refines Global Predictions

"We've shown that if all of the global modeling groups were to include some kind of nutrient dynamics, the range of model predictions would shrink because of the constraining effects of the carbon nutrient limitations, even though it's a more complex model."

To date, climate models ignored the nutrient requirements for new vegetation growth, assuming that all plants on earth had access to as much "plant food" as they needed. But by taking the natural demand for nutrients into account, the authors have shown that the stimulation of plant growth over the coming century may be two to three times smaller than previously predicted. Since less growth implies less CO2 absorbed by vegetation, the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are expected to increase.

"Denver and Houston will do very well"

The writeup in the Sunday Denver post was in the business section (page one) and calls you people "theorists" HAHAHAHAhaha!

Dontcha all think it may be time to hold some toes to the fire? Where are the resource "specialists" from the USGS or the Colorado School of mines?

From the School of Mines:

"Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources. For more information about Colorado School of Mines"


"Peak oil" theorists: World running out -- http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_13531290 --

A bit apropos. You know I came to the conclusion that part of what I am trying to do is to introduce a bit of new practical mathematical theory to the discussion. As it turns out, much of the mathematics I use has a lot of other practical applications. The basics of it, which involves the use of dispersion, also can be used for failure and reliability analysis. It essentially derives the infamous bathtub curve of component failures, http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2009/10/failure-is-complement-of-succes...

I get the feeling that no one has figured out the mathematics behind oil depletion, such as why the logistic curve works, simply because the fundamental math itself isn't too widely known. The fact that I can use it to understand popcorn popping times ... and understand anomalous transport ... and to understand network TCP latencies ... and to understand reserve growth ... and to understand fractals and the Pareto law ... and to understand oil discovery indicates to me one thing -- that no one has yet happened across this relatively simple stochastic formulation (ever?). You would think someone would have discovered all the basic mathematical principles over the course of the years, but apparently this one has slipped through the cracks.

If the Denver Post want to call a Peak Oil a "theory", and give Michael Lynch equal time, I am OK. We have plenty of ammunition if they want a serious discussion, and Lynch will end up shooting blanks, as he's got nothing.

"We have plenty of ammunition"

Yabut they are not giving you a chance.

Whatever happened to the LF "Buzz" Ivanhoe center for petroleum studies?

Ivanhoe started the Hubbert Center for Petroleum Studies and then when he died a few years ago, somebody must have taken that over and renamed it to honor Ivanhoe?
Let's check.
No, still there with the original name. It hasn't been updated with anything since Ivanhoe left. I see your point.

I don't really know the details but the Hubbert Center newsletter was not the most rigorous publication. A lot of the material was sketchy and hand-drawn and it featured occasional comics ... hmm, it looked like a precursor to a blog.

It probably could have continued but I sense that Ivanhoe had his own way of doing things. Somebody else can fill in the rest.

The late oilman L. F. Ivanhoe and I lived in the same county. I had seen some of his letters and articles in newspapers and in our library subscription to the Oil and Gas Journal. I made it a point to meet him during the 90's. He did not own a computer or use the internet. Though I did give him some computer lessons ultimately I became by default his volunteer internet liaison. He devoted several years of his life and a significant sum of money to the Hubbert Center Newsletter. His original plan was to send it by snail mail to selected friends and political leaders. One of his concerns was that the newsletter would be too much Ivanhoe, He wrote much of the newsletter himself with great care but solicited contributions from petroleum experts that he knew. I was told that he had some editorial assistance from Walter Youngquist. The contributions were limited to the brief format which caused difficulties in some cases. The first publication of the newsletter on the internet was by Jay Hanson. Initially there was no indexing but following feedback from readers the internet site was gradually improved by the computer staff at the Colorado School of Mines. I once asked Ivanhoe if I should refer to him as Buz or Buzz. He replied that he didn't care, as a youth it was actually Bus. He stopped publication due to ill health. He died shortly after Garrett Hardin (and Garrett's wife) in a similar fashion.

See photo at bottom:

http://hubbert.mines.edu This web site was temporarily unavailable but is again functioning.

Thanks for the history.

One thing for certain is that what Ivanhoe and you and your cohorts did will live on as an internet archive. The point that Ivanhoe seemed to emphasize quite a bit is that cumulative discoveries has to match fairly closely to eventual cumulative production. This is one of the first-order rules that I use for modeling.

Thanks Robert --- I hope you are also keeping a hardcopy record of this fascinating biographical data for the science historians of the future, after the death of the Internet.

It was Garrett Hardin who opened my eyes to the upcoming storm in his classic 'Living Within Limits'.

Only two degrees of online separation ...

A note sent to yahoo energyresources by Steve Andrews in 2003, shortly after Ivanhoe died. It includes excerpts from a letter Buz mailed prior to his death to friends all over the world. He included a $10 bill for a toast. To some extent Buz had set a pattern for organizations such as ASPO and TOD.


I had to comment, Moore comes across as someone with an axe to grind. Poor fellow - and there are many more like him in prominent positions - confuses physical reality with partisanship.

Good job WHT! Math v. Public Relations: since humans are quivering blobs of errors, it's not hard to see how this contest will turn out. We believe what we want to believe; what is two plus two, again?

Twenty- two, give that child a Nobel Peace Prize!

Back in the world of reality, there are bound to be interesting correlations; oil prices to unemployment; oil prices to business bankruptcies, oil prices to real estate prices (an inverse correlation there), etc.

Off the top of the head it would be interesting to figure out when the various peak oils took place.

Measured against dollars and the S&P 500; 1998.

Measured by conventional liquid production; 2005.

Measured by totaling all unconventional, reservoir and biofuel producion; 2008. These three are pretty clear (to me, anyway.) Even if the economy magically turned around tomorrow, the depletion of the crisis period cannot be met by the reserves that can be produced with the funds available

Measured by oil- energy productivity: maybe 1963.

Measured against gold; maybe late 1970's.

Measured absolutely against total reserves; 1855. It's been downhill ever since.

Since GDP has been inflated since the early 1980's by finance- generated debt/liquidity, stripping that inflation out just might put peak oil measured against GDP around 1985. Certainly no later than that as US living standards were starting to decline with per- person adjusted wages and debt- impaired personal balance sheets.

It's all in the rear view mirror; add the onrush of net export constraints and it really is a bit late do to much but wring hands.

Excuse me while I go outside and wring my hands.


I think you meant Lynch not Moore. (Michael Moore vs Michael Lynch, both partisans, understandable)

In some sense I am writing for Lynch as an audience. Whatever his shortcomings he does tend to attack some of the rather weak oil depletion arguments put forward. That is a classic rhetorical technique of a skilled framer.

As in this example:

"Declines get reversed quite a bit," Lynch said. "Not overnight, but quite a bit."

Lynch has previously published articles that have shown how declining reserve growth trends had reversed, and he based his criticisms on creaming curves which were pure extrapolations and not based on any real understanding. I believe that if we had more formal models, he could not credibly attack the heuristics any longer. We need to somehow discredit him as a pundit.

We need to somehow discredit him as a pundit.

Well, good luck with that. I missed his response to critics of his NYT op-ed, from early last month: Response to ‘Peak Oil’ Critics (the hydrocarbon age is still young: plan accordingly) (Master Resource). He linked to the piece I submitted for TOD, so I would've expected him to respond to my critique of his forecasting abilities - forecasts of supply, that is; price didn't enter into it. Not only did he deign to respond to any of my specifics, but even threw this in:

The peak oil community tends to focus on price forecasting not supply forecasting, because prices are much more unpredictable, subject to both political and psychological factors (including ‘momentum trading’ the bubbles’ favorite).

I've set up RSS feed for the Master Resource blog, which incidentally is a great fund of Julian Simon hagiography, if you're up for some belly laughs or eye goggling hubris. When Lynch posts once more I'll grill him on this. Also puzzling: both Nate and Engineer-Poet chimed in, but didn't call him on his supply forecast track record; nor did any of the comments on Drumbeat address this. Seems like a very weak link in his armor, if you ask me, rather than firing away with the demand-is-running-ahead-of-supply arguments once more, which he has a whole quiver of stock answers ready for.

I didn't know about the Master Resources blog. Talking about an oxymoron, it looks more like an anti-resource blog.

The fact that Lynch references Michael Shermer of The Skeptical Inquirer is pretty rich, since Shermer and company have never attacked Peak Oil as a fraud. The minute Shermer does, I will bow out as a pessimist.

Actually, I was aiming at Michael Booth ... who buoy! Type 'booth' and Moore came out. Too many Michaels, no?

I have no respect for Michael Lynch, a pitchman for nothing in particular. It's impossible to engage in a semantic argument with someone who hedges his terms; better models never apply, all is slippery slopes and evasions.

Lynch has previously published articles that have shown how declining reserve growth trends had reversed, and he based his criticisms on creaming curves which were pure extrapolations and not based on any real understanding.

Lynch simply found a publisher audience, one that was looking for him or someone just like him. Depressing thing is there are many little Lynches floating around out there, Lynch himeself is the one we know about.

Truth is both deprecated and depreciated. Good short term predictions in financial markets make reputations, however. The current 'nonsense regime' is forging from its excreta a cadre of the aware who make good models and are able to forecast with them as well.

Nouriel Roubini, Nassim Taleb, Meredith Whitney, Janet Tavakoli and Peter Schiff earned their current prominence from forecasting the ongoing decline. The economy defies examination; those who specialize cannot comprehend the whole. A new cadre includes generalists; Steve Keen, Andy Xie, Barry Ritholtz, Michael Panzner; in the blogs: Ilargi and Stoneleigh, James Hamilton and a few others.

The modeling approach is very important for a lot of reasons besides a predictive tool. I know Keen is working on modeling instability in the manner of Minsky. Krugman talks about this a lot but I don't know how much time he dedicates to it, he's a rock- star now. I get the idea the neo- classical economists feel marooned by their models, right now. These illuminate an economy that has not existed for awhile and will likely never return, at least in their lifetimes.

Keen's working paper is here.

Here's another lecture document by Brad DeLong that models money flows & equilibrium; I will see if there are energy flow correlations here. This is the paper, here.

"Measured absolutely against total reserves; 1855. It's been downhill ever since."

you will have to explain that one. i think you misunderstand the term "reserves".

I thought it was quite clear. Total reserves are what's left in the ground and that started dropping when the first barrel was withdrawn. Perhaps you were thinking about proven reserves?

Ron P.

known reserves = (unknown) resources - (undiscovered) resources.

(Ivanhoe's definition, BTW)

So at first this is actual close to zero. All the oil wasn't discovered on that first day in the 1850's. Instead, it is the URR or ultimately recoverable resources that is highest from day 1 and then the usable resources subsequently declines from then.

If we want to be formal about this, we have to get the terminology straight.

Elwood was just talking about this misinterpretation the other day; that's probably why he brought it up again.

huh ? i can agree that total deposits started dropping on day one,i.e. i don't subscribe to abiotic and i doubt oil is being generated at a high enough rate to replace that which took maybe half a billion yrs to accumulate.

All the reserves were still in the ground back in 1855 or so. I couldn't find online evidence of drilling prior to 1858 (amd Edwin Drake) but claims on the drilling process were made for 'previous' examples.

Excuse me while I go outside and wring my hands.

My fav spike milligan quote: "I rubbed my hands with glee.. I always keep a tin of glee handy." ;)

Steve of Virginia blathered:

oil prices to real estate prices (an inverse correlation there)

Rubbish. When oil went from $147 to $30, RE prices did not leap. I wish there was a way to block your inane posts from displaying. This is an appeal to the owners of this site to use a better software — one that allows filtering.

There is a way. Someone wrote a Firefox extension that does what you want.

Thanks. Here it is:

Keywords: filter ban banning block blocking postings messages troll trolling killfile ignore plonk


Steve is at the top of my list for gaining insight. He is also a great writer and not afraid to creatively connect the dots. The reason I am here is because I want to figure this all out, but auto-filtering essentially blocks that avenue.

Well, that's kind of the point of extensions like TODBAN. It lets people decide for themselves whether they want to see certain user's posts. Presumably, everyone's list is different.

Even mentioning something of this nature is making a mountian out of a molehill-it takes s close to zero effort to scroll past a certain persons posts-but then when you do so the next three or four replies may make little or no sense, due to lack of the proper context.

There are some posts I routinely pass by-but if they draw responses from certain others whom I respect I go back and read them.

One thing I would like to see is a little window up top that contains the handle and time of the previous post-as in "Leanan 10/12/6:15am."

Sometimes when there are a lot of responses and people are dropping in and out it is difficult to follow the discussion.

I put up a short comment a few days ago that was so far from the comment I responded to after a couple of hours that it couldn't possibly have made any sense at all to someone just checking in to the discussion.

Disagree. I can't use TODBAN, of course, but I make use of filtering on all boards in which I am not a moderator. I find it adds greatly to the usability of a site. I'm not saying Steve falls into this category, but usually the people who are annoying enough to be blocked are the ones who post a lot, or who generate a lot of heated replies. Just removing their comments from the thread is a big help. Especially if it also removes all the replies.

What's wrong with calling it a Theory?

A theory, in the scientific sense of the word, is an analytic structure designed to explain a set of empirical observations. A scientific theory does two things:

1. it identifies this set of distinct observations as a class of phenomena, and
2. makes assertions about the underlying reality that brings about or affects this class.

In the scientific or empirical tradition, the term "theory" is reserved for ideas which meet baseline requirements about the kinds of empirical observations made, the methods of classification used, and the consistency of the theory in its application among members of the class to which it pertains. These requirements vary across different scientific fields of knowledge, but in general theories are expected to be functional and parsimonious: i.e. a theory should be the simplest possible tool that can be used to effectively address the given class of phenomena.
Source Wikipedia

I see your definition and raise you one:

an unproved assumption

That is the layman's definition. We're talking science.

You're talking science.
"They" are manipulating the minds of the lay people.

And succeeding at it.

I believe you are correct. Ivory towers are all well and good, but when the view from the tower is only other towers, that's when disconnects from reality set in.

Laypeople do hear "theory" and think "uncertain/undecided/open for debate." You see it constantly in comments from deniers, that it's "just" a theory.

And you are correct. It is well established as fact that the think tanks and organizations set up to stonewall action on climate had one goal: confusion. They never intended to prove their case - with good reason - but only sowed doubt and confusion.

I've pointed out before that the American mind is conditioned to accept "reasonable doubt" as enough cause to **not** believe something because of our legal system. That is, Americans are conditioned to be able to reject the proof of a thing even if the evidence is stacked 90 - 10 for. Or even more.

They are absolutely taking advantage of these facts to lie their arses off. We all know the proof of their lying goes back to at least that memo in the 90's.

Yet, denialists carry on.


Nothing wrong with it, but it has attained a certain set of connotations having to do with FUD, particularly amongst the conservative base. Calling something a theory is essentially code for saying something hasn't been decided yet.

Strange, but that is the way it is. See evolution "theory" for a good example of this.

I just happen to have finished reading Richard Dawkins' latest Book, "The Greatest Show on Earth" and he devotes the entire first chapter of the book to this issue. If that weren't enough I also have a copy of Stephen J. Gould's "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory", not counting the bibliography it is 1343 pages discussing what the "THEORY" of evolution is actually about.

So to put it mildly I don't gladly suffer those who confuse the layman's definition of "Theory", with the scientific definition of the same.

Stephen J. Gould's "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory"---
I have checked it out at the library, but it is a big chunk to chew in 2 weeks, so I have put it off.

So to put it mildly I don't gladly suffer those who confuse the layman's definition of "Theory", with the scientific definition of the same.

Well I don't either. But, unfortunately I don't live on a planet whereby the ability to affect important societal decisions is reserved for those with sound basic understanding, and who practice sound thinking methodology. If we aren't to be overwhelmed by batpoop crazy ideas, we have to learn to operate sucessfully in this environment.

And, yes, it sure is horrible that the word theory, which in science and math implies an extremely high degree of confidence in its integrity is confounded with a popular connotation that translates into something closer to "hunch" than theory. I think of this as arising from detective novels, where the inspector follows a "theory" of who dunit. But, remember that many of these people see the fundamental struggle as being between godless science, and religion. Theories are "evil" things used by science to pervert people away from god's path.

Yep. It doesn't matter what it means, it matters what your target audience thinks it means.

Peak oil is a theory the way gravity is a theory, except peak oil is better understood.

So true. I have heard that no one really understands gravity and that the search for the graviton is a hopeless endeavor.

Yet, peak oil doesn't truly have a formal theory either, just a set of heuristics. I have a candidate theory called dispersive discovery which can generate a logistic curve and then the oil shock model which can generate a production curve.

So we have a strange situation of an obvious outcome without an accepted formal theory.

So we have a strange situation of an obvious outcome without an accepted formal theory.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. It's a duck!

That the public at large doesn't understand what the word "Theory" means in a scientific sense is a sad commentary on said public's general innumeracy, ignorance and scientific illiteracy.

When I posted my question above as to what was wrong with using the word "Theory" to describe the Peak Oil phenomena it was because I felt that it already fulfills the basic criteria.

Using your reference to the Theory of Gravity as an example, whether or not someone actually understands that particular theory or not, is a different question from understanding what the general concept of "Theory" means.

In any case I was directing my question to the readers of TOD, whom I hold to a higher standard than the non technical members of society.

Denial of how the public thinks is not much different than denial about the inevitability of Peak Oil.

The phrase, "Peak Oil Theorists" is used in a pejorative way.
If you don't see that, you're not seeing a lot of things.
Perception trumps reality (well, at least for the short term).


Peak oil is a fact, just like gravity is a fact.

All the theorizing and hypotheses and discussion is about trying to find details that might be useful.


Using your reference to the Theory of Gravity as an example, whether or not someone actually understands that particular theory or not, is a different question from understanding what the general concept of "Theory" means.

I'm a great fan of your posts and the way you think, but why should we care whether people understand what "theory" means in scientific terminology vs popular usage?

If a term is hopelessly ambiguous in the popular culture, avoid it when speaking to the public. (I'm lookin' at you, EROI).

I recently explained it to a friend's wife this way.
You give me a barrel of oil and I give you 100 back deal or no deal?

You give me 1 I give you 50 deal?
You give me 1 I give you 20 deal?

You give me 1 I give you back 1 deal?

Response: Why bother.

I resorted to speaking Howie Mandel.

The conclusion of the report was, "Denver and Houston will do well".

Some thoughts from another mailing list:


Re: The Age of Stupid...

"Water depletion in the American deserts is the next issue I want to focus on and
analyze. When the fossil fuel is gone, and the water tables are dry, which
large American cities will have to be abandoned?

Did Pearce get into that topic?

You also recommend Montgomery's book about soil. Did the author talk about
American farmland?"


When the Rivers Run Dry: Water - The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century, Fred Pearce, Beacon Press, 2007

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, David R. Montgomery, University of California Press, 2007

Regarding the Colorado School of Mines see this Sept 23, 2009 comment excerpt from TOD. :

From ASPO 2009 Content Team:

"We have to keep some of our ammo dry!!! We always face the problem of too many experts that we want to feature, and this year since the conference doubles as an ASPO-International once, we had to reserve many slots of for international speakers as well. As we have decided that all future ASPO-USA annual conferences will be held in Denver, you can rest assured we will be tapping into the outstanding resource expertise at CSM and the USGS."

Re: What happened to global warming?

OK, so where's the warming?

Look at the Sea Surface Temps (SST's) for the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Funny thing, they look somewhat similar, with a band of cooler temps at a latitude of about 50N. Where's the famous warm water from the Gulf Stream, which is supposed to keep Northern Europe (the region around the North Atlantic), warmer than the land along the East Coast of Canada?

Might that indicate that the Thermohaline Circulation has weakened? Accuweather claims that Central Europe is in for an early snow storm this week. Oh, the Northern Plains of the U.S. are awaiting their SECOND SNOW STORM this week.

Does this prove there isn't any Global Warming? Far from it, these observations tend to support the notion that Climate might change due to a reduction in the THC due to Global Warming. Just my opinion, of course. Those of us with scientific training wouldn't want to make people nervous, now would we?

E. Swanson

"...Climate might change due to a reduction in the THC due to Global Warming."

Good Lord! Get the Earth some marijuana, quickly!

There was an article a few months back that stated the winds blew against the gulf stream this year, weakining the flow. Don't have link.

As to the temperature, i think sources like the UAH temperature graph are more likely source for this article.

We really can't play it both ways. The deniers say the current regional cold spell signals the end of GW. We counter that this is nonsense, as we know that random temperature fluctuations happen as that is a characteristic of a globally dispersed climate system.

Yet, when we try to justify this same cold snap by saying it may be caused by the climate change models we may fall in to the same trap. You can't really prove it one way or another as this is simply statistics playing out. Only the long range trends and the underlying model will tell us anything, not short-term changes. That is not to say the weakening circulation theory is not valid, just that you can't prove it one way or another; it's just circumstantial evidence in a cloud of noise.

To place it in the context of oil depletion, a similar pattern emerges. We will certain find the occasional large reservoir, and the cornucopians rejoice, yet that does not prove depletion or a coming plethora of oil either way. You have to look at the historical trends and apply a model to the trend data.

In other words, anyone that can explain a single spike in the middle of a dense set of expected fluctuations needs to go back and study probability and statistics.

The concept of statistical noise is difficult to explain to the average person. It is the long-term trend that matters, and recent ups or downs are not significant. Oil went down to $40 last year at this time, but what of it? The long-term price trend for oil is up.

Same for climate data. Calgary had record-breaking heat in September, up to 30C, but that wasn't global warming. We then had an early winter that arrived last Thursday, so Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow will be celebrated with snow on the sidewalks, but that doesn't prove global warming is wrong either.

Calgary celebrated Canadian thanksgiving with a record low temperature: -16.1C. Several other Canadian cities also set record lows.

Why is it when people are talking about the coming Armageddon due to global warming that Canadians are always experiencing some kind of record low? It's not very convincing from the standpoint of getting people to worry about excessive heat.

BTW, Canadian thanksgiving occurs over a month earlier than American thanksgiving. By the time American thanksgiving comes around it's just too freakin' cold to give thanks for anything.

Why do people not learn a little science, do a little research? If you think a few low temps here and there give you any reason to comment on climate science, why should anyone not laugh?


Hey, I'm in the upper midwest. AGW is an easy sell here, people want more of it!

At least until the thought of all those crazy refugees from the coasts sinks in...

As has been stated elsewhere, some northern parts of inland North America and some parts of central Asia are about the only large regions in the world experiencing colder than average temperatures this over the last few months. Almost everywhere else temperatures have been above long-term averages, some place far above.

Don't mistake your own neck of the woods for the globe or this year (or decade...) for a long term trend.

You have to look at the historical trends and apply a model to the trend data.

In other words, anyone that can explain a single spike in the middle of a dense set of expected fluctuations needs to go back and study probability and statistics.

Thats where the PR problems come in. The vast hordes are innumerate, and denigrating models (and by impliction the few mathematically literate people) is popular with many members of the masses. And since the models are incomprehensible gobbletygook to the average Joe, he instead evaluates based upon personality and gut instinct. It is very easy to win on the merits of the argument, but lose the PR battle because the auduence doesn't like your style (or your conclusion).

1. The cool summer was almost exclusively a NA event. The rest of the world was full of red dots during the same time period.

2. The cool summer was created by a series of cut off lows through the summer.

What caused those I'm not clear on.

Sometimes weather is just weather.



I understand the concept of noise and random fluctuations and so forth and expect the overall trend of rising temperatures to persist.

But I'm not even a statistician , let alone a mathematician.

How long would it take for flat or falling average temps to constitute credible evidence that gw theory is incorrect?

The only way I can even attempt to make sense of the trend is if I was able to crawl inside the AGW model (so to speak) and inhabit it over a period of time. You really need to experience that to get any insight and be able to tell which are the critical parameters for determining the trend and which create the noise.

For oil discovery, it is pretty clear. Noise is caused by the size of the discoveries in combination with the limited number discovered. OTOH, the trends in discoveries are determined by the spatial density and the search acceleration. That insight took me a few years to gain via constructing the model and doing all kinds of analysis.

The problem wrt to AGW for me is that I just haven't done any climate modeling, and so haven't gained the intuition necessary to make educated guesses. Just being honest about the situation.

A minimum of 30 years. That's what is supposed to be standard in climate circles. And that's just to entertain the thought.

Of course, just looking at temps is a fool's errand. You have to look at everything because different measures fluctuate in different ways and at different times, so you need to look at everything from sea surface temps to land temps to animal behaviors to plant life changes to seasonal changes to rainfall patterns to GHG emissions to...

Just looking at temps is what denialists do. Often with malice aforethought, I might add.


oldfarmermac wrote:

How long would it take for flat or falling average temps to constitute credible evidence that gw theory is incorrect?

Your question assumes that AGW is the only source of variation in climate. That's not correct. There are other possible sources of climate change (which is why the term is used) besides added greenhouse gases. Increases in aerosols impact climate and the rapid increase in energy consumption by China and India as they shoot for First World levels of development has resulted in large increases in particulate emissions. Do a Google search on the phrase "Asian Brown Cloud" or "Black Carbon" for two examples. Then too, there is the well known changes seen in the mis-named "solar constant", changes which may have been associated with the peak of the cool period known as the Little Ice Age.

The answer to your question isn't quite as clear as you would probably like. If you haven't already done so, you might want to read the latest article in RealClimate on the subject.

E. Swanson

How long would it take for flat or falling average temps to constitute credible evidence that gw theory is incorrect?

An interesting question.

Short form: I should be happy to live long enough.

Long form: If you look at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif you can see places where looking at the data from even a 10 year moving average would show cooling for an extended period, yet looking at the graph as a whole shows a clear warming trend. If we were to mirror the 1945-1980 portion of the graph starting today it would still show a clear warming trend on the long term and would not be sufficient to disprove Human-pumped GW as a theory, though it would put several theoretical models out to pasture. That puts an inside limit of 35 years on it, and the clock starts at 2007.

Having lived mostly in the upper midwest since 1977 myself, I experienced weather close to the end of the cool plateau. I remember vividly going outside at 6 in the morning to preheat the car, checking the outside thermometer and seeing -50F. Thermometer temperature, no windchill index or any tomfoolery like that, just bitter cold the likes of which is inconceivable to those who have not experienced it. I could feel my eyeballs trying to freeze. This was valley bottom temps well out of town, and I doubt the thermometer was accurate to +/-5F at that temperature, but you get the idea.

The coldest I've seen since moving back in 1991 was -32F in '94, as an official temp it probably meant close to -40F in that valley bottom. "Exceptionally cool" 2008 had a couple days in the -20F to -25F range.

The 19th century was as much colder on average than 1977 as we are warmer, so a typical winter then probably included several eyeball-freezing days (as related in stories from the time).

You get the general idea.

A big thanks to everybody who responded on this question!

My original thought was that if such a cooling trend as the most recent one were to become a little longer then some legitimate mathematician would at some point say "hey guys wait aminute!the odds of this trend being just noise are really slim.If it continues for x more years the odds of it being noise are miniscule".

I have no doubt myself that averages taken alone are a poor way to try to see the big picture.

Oral history of our local climate leads me to believe that our dozen or so lowest annual temps for the last decade or two are probably at least ten degrees higher than seventy or eighty years ago-as roughly measured by the number of days you can cross a frozen stream walking on the ice for instance, or by the prevalance of plants such as rhododendron which seem to be losing ground on the lower slopes of the local mountians.

The stream nearest my family home was large enough to maintain a healthy population of native trout in the thirties and crossing it on foot meant getting your legs wet halfway to your knees at the footpath between us and a nearby nieghbor - if you had a steady stride you could step on a stone in the middle and cross in it in two paces unless you slipped.This is direct from my grandfather, who has been dead now for quite a while.

I can step across this stream now and there is not nearly enough flow to support fish.The watershed is still in timber now , as it was then.

Climatologists are not doing a very good job at explaining "Global Warming". Because you will not be able to measure "global warming" with a thermometer, it might be better to use "Climate Change" instead. People are, in general, not able to understand phase transitions and that is another problem.

AGW models have a much harder time quantifying the effects of noise than the oil depletion models do. For example, fluctuations in oil discovery have more to do with the statistics of discrete numbers. Depending on how many discoveries are found per year and knowing the size distribution, one can potentially get an estimate of the magnitude of the excursions in the noise.

I have no idea how the AGW so the statistical fluctuation estimates.

Basically what we have here is a failure to communicate between geophysical researchers and the press - ditto for the BBC article linked above. The fundamental flaw is looking at temperature changes as "monotonic" that is, inexorably heading upward. Temperatures in any given year reflect overlapping natural cycles and anthropogenic forcing. The best discussions I found discussing this claim of global cooling since 1998 were at Climate Progress:


.....And a new site Romm linked to - The Way Things Break

a while back aubrey mcclendon, chesapeake energy, made a statement that implied that a cooler summer meant a colder winter to follow(in the us). i took a look at 28 yrs of heating and cooling degree days and came up with the following:

during this period, there were 14 cooler than normal summers and 14 warmer than normal summers. of the 14 cooler than normal summers:

5 times a cooler summer was followed by a colder winter,
9 times a cooler summer was followed by a warmer winter.

so there doesnt appear to be anything to mcclendon's delusion.

and of the 14 warmer than normal summers, 7 were followed by warmer winters and 7 by colder winters.

i doesnt appear that summer temps have much to do with the following winter's temps.

Impressive. That is how I waste a lot of time as well. Some fool makes a statement and then I spend some time digging up the data and plotting it out, only to realize that their interpretation made no sense at all. They must think that no one actually cross-checks their assertions?

I suppose the Old Farmer's Almanac is loaded with these kinds of statements as well.

It is the rare journalist that will actually do this kind of digging.

yeah, .....playing solitare 'till dawn with a deck of fifty-one........smoking cigarettes and watching captin kangaroo.......now don't you tell me i've nothing to do.

Elwood E:

LOL! I'll see your Harold, Lou, Don, and Phil, and raise you one more:

Everybody's tryin' to make a comment
About our doubts and fears.
[Crude Awakening's] the only movie I've really
Understood in years
You gotta take your [seismic] analyst along
To see if it's fit to see.
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Has happened to the [oil and gas] industry.

;) "just checked in, to see what condition my condition is in .."

Wasn't that song in some Jeff Bridges movie?

Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?
The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

i think that dialog is from caddyshack.

Eh? Just Dropped In ( To See What Condition My Condition Was In ..., featured in the Big Lebowski. Don't think they used any pop songs in Caddyshack.

Check out Frank Caliendo's impersonation of Ted Knight from that. "Oh Billy, oh Billy, please answer your phone! (sobs)" FrankCaliendo.com - Download your free Frank Caliendo cell phone ringers and ringtones

the dialog, not the song, is also used in caddyshack.

See this article at RealClimate:


A lot of wind has been made of the individual data points of 1998 and 2008, (an improper way to examine the data, BTW) I wonder if George Will will take it all back when the 1999 - 2009 decade is back on trend.

Thanks, I saw that one. However, I didn't read deeply into the comments. I totally agree that picking an 11 year period just to include the warm year in 1998 skews the data. It's one of the denialist talking points these days and is rather poor statistics. As pointed out on Real Climate, excluding 1998 results in a continuation of the warming trend line.

But, that wasn't my point. I am more interested in what might be happening with the THC in the western Greenland Sea. I think it's slowed and thus there is less warm water migrating northwards from the Gulf Stream into the Nordic Seas. The temperature anomaly data would shed some light on this hypothesis, but the NOAA data is not presented north of about 45 N latitude. I suppose the data is available somewhere, however there's a problem with sea-ice in that the reference period may include areas of sea-ice that are open water today, thus giving a false impression of warming. I once suggested that the areas with sea-ice in both the reference data and the current year be masked out to present a proper view. Lately the latitude range has simply been cut off. Here's an example from back in 2000. Could this be another example of attempts by Bush 43 to ignore the problem of AGW???

E. Swanson

I think this is the data you may be wondering about -> GHRSST Data. This site graphs it for the last 30 days or so --> DMI/COI SST.

Thanks for the link. Looks like much more than I need.

As you were posting, I was just about to edit my comment to note that NOAA changed their offering in October 2007, adding more detailed local views to the single "Full Global" view previously offered. Looking back, here's the data for 2007, 2008, and 2009 (again).

When one looks at the 2007 data, it's clear that the warmth in the Western Arctic Ocean is the result of the reduced sea-ice area. The later years show less warmth there because there is more ice cover. In all three years, the loss of sea-ice results in a band of red in the northern Greenland Sea, another area of declining sea-ice extent. However, just south of that band is an area showing deep blue, which represents actual lower water temperatures, not loss of sea-ice. The warmer water from the northern branch of the Gulf Stream called the North Atlantic Drift) looks weaker, IMHO.

One might also find it interesting to compare the Equatorial Pacific in 2007 with 2009, which gives a clear picture of the El Nino/La Nina shift in temperatures.

E. Swanson

Seems like liberal conspiracy to keep us 'merkins from our divine right to prosperity:

As summer dry seasons in the West have become more intense over the last half-century, mortality rates of the West’s conifer species have increased by an average of 87 percent. The rate of tree replacement has risen by only 52 percent, leading to fewer trees overall.

Funny thing, they look somewhat similar, with a band of cooler temps at a latitude of about 50N. Where's the famous warm water from the Gulf Stream, which is supposed to keep Northern Europe (the region around the North Atlantic), warmer than the land along the East Coast of Canada?

Might that indicate that the Thermohaline Circulation has weakened? Accuweather claims that Central Europe is in for an early snow storm this week. Oh, the Northern Plains of the U.S. are awaiting their SECOND SNOW STORM this week.

IMHO concerns over the potential shutdown of the THC are overblown. The ocean-atmospheric models only have it slowing down somewhat over about a century. Enough to give northern Europe less than the global average increase in temps from global warming, but not expected to be strong enough to reduce them. I would think the THC prety stable for the following reason. The main thing slowing it down is freshing of the water due to glacial meltwater from Greenland. But if the THC does slow down, that cools Greenland, which should slow the meltwater.

In any case, this years weather does seem to be unusually energetic. The Sacramento weather services forcast comments keep having remarks about the forcast that such and such an event forcast a few days out would be a 4 or 5 sigma event. For us these events have been both unusual heat, and unusual cold. Now we are a little over 24hours away from seeing what the remants of supertyphoon Melor will do to Califonia. Here's to hoping this will be a near drought-buster, the state is curently in a substantial drought, and we will need a far above average wet season to get back to normal. But I think the AGW people have been saying for years that climate change would make the weather more variable than before, and that would also include unusual cold as well as heat.

IMHO concerns over the potential shutdown of the THC are overblown.


I get tired of hearing this. Every time someone says this, we find a few weeks, months or years later that the issue at hand is actually underblown. I don't think there's a single worsening climate issue this isn't true of. Everything is getting worse, nothing better.

Arctic ice? Check.

Glaciers? Check.

Floods and storms? Check.

Desertification? Check.

Acidification? Check.

Antarctic ice? Check.

Methane? Check.

How long does this need to go on before even AGW activists quit dreaming that things aren't as bad as they seem? How do people not recognize the signature of chaotic systems all over this stuff? When all evidence says be alarmed but one keeps repeating everything is OK, isn't that what we call delusional?

FYI: Last I heard, the THC had already slowed 30%, right?


Thanks for reminding us how totally farked we are ;-)

Don't forget deforestation and the problems with the nitrogen cycle cited in the last article above.

"Last I heard, the THC had already slowed 30%, right?'

I hadn't seen this. Do you have a linky?

I too had heard that any probable decrease in temperature from slowing of the THC would be matched by considerable overall temperature increases from GW--I'm not sure this qualifies as polyanna downplaying of bad news.

In fact a quick and hard freeze of the far north, as bad as it could be for populations, might be the only chance for halting (at least temporarily) what is looking more and more like a runaway feedback loop of methane release from tundra and now from ocean beds.

How long does this need to go on before even AGW activists quit dreaming that things aren't as bad as they seem? How do people not recognize the signature of chaotic systems all over this stuff? When all evidence says be alarmed but one keeps repeating everything is OK, isn't that what we call delusional?

FYI: Last I heard, the THC had already slowed 30%, right?

I think all these things that are worse than expected have a common theme. They are not strongly linked in a causal sense. hence, we have no rational reason (though plenty of psychological ones) to think that all the other issues will resolve themselves in the same manner. Besides, I would regard a slowing of the THC as a good thing. Good, in the sense that reducing poleward heat transport, allows the arctic to cool. Because of the snow-ice feedback mechanism, reducing polar temps causes global cooling. This is what we see with the Milankovich cycles, when norther hemisphere summers are cool (due to orbital effects on the distribtion of solar energy by lattitude), high lattitude albedo increases lead to global, as well as regional cooling. So if the THC weakens, global warming is reduced.

What I've read about trying to measure deep ocean currents, is that it is very hard to instrument a sufficient volumd of ocean to get goos data. And that there may be enough natural variation on up to multidecadal timescales to be able to determine if it is in fact weakening.

I wasn't commenting on the effects one way or the other, but the idea that we can all relax because, gosh, I'm sure it isn't that serious. It is ALL interconnected, so a major shift here equals something we might not want to see over there.

"It's not THAT bad" is just a form of wishful thinking. And it's dangerous.

As for the THC, it is thus far believed to be (relatively) regional. It would not mean an end to warming, just warming in the North Atlantic. As long as there is more energy being trapped than escaping, the planet is warming. Just because we don't know how to measure it correctly don't mean it ain't happening. So, yes, most likely a slowing THC means nothing more than the excess energy being stored in the mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic rather than the north. And, really, all THAT means is Europe being as cold as it should be as compared to the rest of the planet at similar latitudes.

Worse still, the planetary system will attempt to balance, and to re-balance that imbalance will almost certainly mean huge swings in... something. Chaos is not pretty on these scales.

Oh, and did I mention new research indicates it's been tens of millions of years since CO2 has been this high? And that long time periods (or short, in my opinion) at these levels = A LOT of sea level rise and several degrees C higher average temps?

"The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland," said the paper's lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.


Smile! You're on Candid End Times!

Is this also a long enough time period that the sun is measurably hotter? Wouldn't this mean that the same quantity of CO2 (other things being equal) would mean even hotter temps than millions of years ago?

the nile is not just a river...

each and every one of us has done things like this on a different scale. be it choosing not to learn for an exam until the night before, or postponing doing the dishes until they start wandering around on their own mutant legs ^_^

until some really bad events bump them up into people's ladder of importance, they'll be ignored. logic is a really poor motivator. *edit*: fear of consequences is a great motivator

for all i care, 30% is just a number. could be 50%, what's the difference? untill my south eastern european ass is gonna start freezing, that's just something faaar away.

Many of the AOCGCMs show that the THC could weaken or stop due to AGW, but that, after a period of time, the THC re-starts. Those same models have not done a good job of projecting the rapid melting of the Arctic sea-ice and sea-ice has been implicated in the THC process. The modeling of the growth and decay of sea-ice in the yearly cycle is one area of weakness in the AOCGCMs, IMHO.

The flow of fresh water into the Nordic Seas includes surface water from the Arctic as well as sea-ice, which becomes more mobile as it thins. Each year, as the sea-ice melts, a layer of relatively fresh water forms on the surface of the Arctic and some of this salt depleted water moves thru the Fram Strait into the Nordic Seas. The freshening of the Nordic Seas has been detected by salinity measurements and was reported a few years ago. I haven't seen recent measurements, but I would not be surprised to learn that this process is continuing, with the result being a continued reduction in surface salinity.

You later suggest that a loss of the THC would be a good thing, possibly countering AGW. The problem I see with that is the fact that the result could well be increased flows of heat and moisture between the mid latitudes and the polar regions to compensate for the loss in heat transfer via the THC loop. That would imply greater variability, i.e., more examples of extremes in high and low temperatures as the overall mass flow increases. Last night, DRUDGE focused on the outbreak of record cold over the Northern Great Plains. They forgot to mention the record high temperatures over the Southern U.S., especially over Florida.

Best of luck with the impending storm...

E. Swanson

During the past century, as temperatures have risen by one degree Fahrenheit, the areal extent of glaciers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains has fallen by 55 percent. These glaciers feed the rivers that support California's agriculture, which produces more than half of America's domestically consumed produce.

Climate sensitivity of 3C my fat butt. It's looking like 6C is an underestimate...


Actually, this keeps going around and around. The ENSO (also known as El-Nino) in 1998 was one of the largest if not the largest in the last centrury and certainly in the last half of the 20th century.

All one really has to do is look at the time-series analysis that includes something more than 10 years. As someone pointed out, 30-years is the length of the baseline period for the anomaly computation. In the GISS data it's 1951-1980, in the Hadley CRUTEMP it's 1961-1990, and in the NCDC, they tend to report it as the variance from the 20th century value (also 1901-2000, though some of their data is reported from the 30-year baseline 1951-1990).

If we look at 2009 data, we are right on track if we look at the longer-term trend.

Besides there is a phsyical phenomena that would/could explain part of any perceived deceleration of warming...phase change. It takes 1 calorie/gm to raise pure water 1 °C between the temperature of 0 °C and 100 °C. It takes 80 calories for 1 gm to transition from H2O (solid) at 0°C to H2O (liquid) at 0 °C and we've got some rapidly changing albedo values, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.

Black Swan Alert: *PEAK ENERGY*

Can we solve this puzzle by examining every little piece and making it fit in the picture we wanna see?

Peak energy is now, our high speed delivery system is slowing down. Running faster just makes things worse.

This has nothing to do with our monetary system and nobody is to blame!

Every civilisation eventually gets to this point and if we can't look outside our little boxes....

Peak coal brought us 2 worldwars/depressions. The only reason we could recover was because of oil and natural gas.

Now we have peak oil, natural gas in a few years time. World War 3 seems unavoidable. How could we recover from that, when our infrastructure is destroyed!

High tech couldn't solve our problem in time, it only enabled us to run faster. But it has given us a global communication system. Everybody can partisepate in the difficult time ahead. It won't be easy, harsh decisions must be made.

Our political leaders aren't fully aware of this .They are doing their best to keep things from falling apart. But desparation is starting....

We have the internet to make the necessary changes. Everything we ever invented must be studied again and discussed.
A lower tech human leveraged world aided by the remaining fossil solar energy resources, kept on track by a multi billion human thinktank just can't be worse than what we have now.

First thing to do:

How can we explain energy to all the financial guru's and blogs?

How can we explain energy to all the financial guru's and blogs?

Good question. The last session of the upcoming Biophysical Economics meeting in Syracuse (Oct 16/17) at SUNY-ESF will be devoted to exactly this kind of question. We're more interested in communications with MSM and policy makers than gurus and blogs. But we'll take them too!

If anyone out there has some constructive thoughts about things like: what is blocking people from hearing the messages of energy decline (due to peak oil and declining EROI)?; how do you frame a message that essentially says 'this is the end game', how shall we play it?

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share e-mail me at: gmobus AT u DOT washington DOT edu.

Meanwhile don't forget to question everything.


Thanks for pointing out that things are being discussed.
Questioning everything is my primaire goal.

What came first money or energy?

Can you make money without the energie upfront?

Can credit exist without more energy down the road?

If anyone out there has some constructive thoughts about things like: what is blocking people from hearing the messages of energy decline (due to peak oil and declining EROI)?;

how do you frame a message that essentially says 'this is the end game', how shall we play it?

What's blocking people is the way they think, which is generally illogical and unstructured, non-grounded in the scientific method, extrapolated from their own limited experience or accepted uncritically from those they listen to, and further rejects unpleasant ideas or conclusions as a matter of course. Then overlay on this that a large majority believe "whatever happens" has been pre-scripted by invisible gods and demons.

Appealing directly to logic and rigorous analysis in a population manifestly unsuited to receive it, is unfortunately one more case of rejecting unpleasant realities.

What works is pretty well established. Appeals to greed, fear, ego, etc. Religion. Ideas that "feel right". Ideas which seem to fill an existing mental need. That play to existing prejudices and biases. That make "others" seem inferior or culpable. That offer something for nothing. That create dissonance and then solve it within the same meme complex. That appeal to our evolved mental skews.

It's a shame that this is how humans are moved in aggregate, but it's reality and we're stuck with it.

Feel free to email me if you'd like my input on how to go about it.

Appealing directly to logic and rigorous analysis in a population manifestly unsuited to receive it, is unfortunately one more case of rejecting unpleasant realities.

What works is pretty well established. Appeals to greed, fear, ego, etc. Religion. Ideas that "feel right". Ideas which seem to fill an existing mental need. That play to existing prejudices and biases. That make "others" seem inferior or culpable. That offer something for nothing. That create dissonance and then solve it within the same meme complex. That appeal to our evolved mental skews.

It's a shame that this is how humans are moved in aggregate, but it's reality and we're stuck with it.

Those are some very important points. The percentage of the population that is comfortable with logical argumentation is pretty small. But, nearly everyone is happy with their emotional gut feeling way of reasoning, and the spinmeisters are expert at exploiting the weaknesses in this manner of thinking. Trying to counter with logic and data, just doesn't convince outside of a narrow academically minded sector.

Now, I don't think this has to always remain the case. I don't think we've ever tried to make epistemology for the masses into an important part of everyones education. We've foolishly acted as if good cognitive methods come naturally, and don't need to be developed. But, they are not natural to our species, they require effort to cultivate. So ultimately, maybe we will wisen up, but even if we do, it will be a long time before the pool of cognitively impaired people are gone.

Good comment; I think "Epistemology for the Masses" would look good on a T-shirt.

But, they are not natural to our species, they require effort to cultivate. So ultimately, maybe we will wisen up, but even if we do, it will be a long time before the pool of cognitively impaired people are gone.

I'm not sure they're technically cognitively impaired - they're human-normal. Humans who attempt to analyze the world logically and try to work around their own delusions are in the minority. And it isn't a foregone conclusion that there will be more of them in the future.

But, nearly everyone is happy with their emotional gut feeling way of reasoning, and the spinmeisters are expert at exploiting the weaknesses in this manner of thinking.

On this site before I have said we should bit the bullet and become spinmeisters. Which is to say, do what works as opposed to what we wish worked. Many in the peanut gallery took umbrage, and presumably any capuchin monkeys lurking on the site did too.

But my respect goes to those who roll up their sleeves and engage the real world.

Maybe expanding the meaning of spinmeister to be a more neutral term, a teaching technique that can be used for either "good" or "evil" would help.

"Epistemology for the Masses" would also be a good name for a rock band.

But if you want more than that, you'll be hard pressed to do better than Greg Craven's book on how to think about climate change, "What's The Worst That Could Happen"


based on the awesome video "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See."


It's really quite good -- the book takes pains to stay away from trying to persuade someone about climate change, instead trying to give the reader tools for approaching the question in a reasonably rigorous way that still respects that the layperson can't really make an informed judgment on the merits directly.

"extrapolated from thier own limited experience or accepted uncritically from those they listen to"

Well expressed.

Although I'm undoubtedly "smarter than the average bear" I find that I must listen to my lawyer, doctor, dentist,and other pros as the need arises.

I occasionally express a strong opinion here in regard to something I know little about just to see what the responses will be-but in the end I have accepted the judgement of the regulars here as the energy gospel.

You guys have the expertise-you've spent the time on acquiring it.

I find it rather amusing that so many regulars here drip scorn and venom on the average man or woman on the street simply because he (or she) is not well informed in respect ot matters that have never caused them any problems.

Stop for a minute and think about how many people you count on-people who literally hold your life in thier hands- because you know little or nothing about thier profession.

If you are born into a culture and grow up in it and earn your living in it you have EVERY REASON to accept the values and judgements of that culture.We would be more successful in communicating the energy and environmental message if we made a greater effort to remember this simple fact.

A couple of days ago I was roasted for suggesting that Newt Gingrich understands peak oil because he is a pretty sharp guy but of course a lying politician-folks went out of thier way to point out that there is not necessarily any correlation between brains and knowledge-I agree.

But as a historian Gingrich could lecture us all day concerning the things we know (or used to know) that just ain't so.As a professional historian, he is not "out of bounds" in not believing in peak oil-if indeed he does not.The economists and the cornucopians of various stripes have been fairly consistent winners for quite some time, like it or not, in terms of long term predictions.

Somehow I have a sneaky feeling that most of the folks who think Gingrich doesn't get it would not feel so strongly about whether Bill or Hillary or Pelosi get it.

Think about it guys-do you really believe the congress of the US, as a voting whole, supplied the money and backing for our last twenty years or so worth of middle easern adventures as an ego trip?

Do you think somebody who held one of the most powerful positions in the country did not read classified intelligence briefings daily and have a wide range of experts of every sort at his beck and call?

When the low profile meetings were held between the leading members of congress(both parties together)just before coming out in favor of war, just what do you think motivated the two sides to get together and decide to go to war?(Hint-it's slimy and black and flammable and in short supply except in the middle east.)

If they just wanted a fight they could have picked one with the people in some part of the world actually worth having( some place where it is possible to actually enjoy a junket!0-The middle east is of considerable interest to archealogists,historians, and oil men- nobody else-only a native could love the place well enough to want to live there, excepting perhaps a few of the cooler and better watered spots.

Now go ahead and tell me again how Gingrich doesn't get peak oil.Occam's razor tells ME that in general terms Gingrich gets it and acted on getting it as one of the primary architects of our national policies-policies that have not and almost certainly will not change in any radical fashion no matter who is in office .As far as telling the truth is concerned, actions speak many times louder than words.

I guess my point is that we really are just a bunch of monkeys that have evolved way the hell to fast for our own good-our collective capabilities appear to exceed our collective judgement
by a couple of orders of magnitude at least.

If we happen to be on different sides of the us /them divide we assume "them " are idiots.

If this post makes no sense it may be the result of drinking a couple of quarts of very good hard cider of my own make.

I find it rather amusing that so many regulars here drip scorn and venom on the average man or woman on the street simply because he (or she) is not well informed in respect ot matters that have never caused them any problems.

I hope my comments didn't come off as "scorn and venom". I would no more "judge" standard-issue humans for not thinking enough than I'd judge dolphins for not growing thumbs.

My comments have to do with the practicality of making useful changes to the way things turn out. In that regard, the reality of how most humans think is part of the landscape we have to negotiate.

Hi ,Greenish

That snide remark was most assuredly not aimed at you-you mix a good healthy dose of day to day realism in your comments.

But some posters seem to think that Joe six pack is at fault for doing what comes as naturally to him as eating flying insects comes to a bat.

Joe is not responsible for his ignorance-any more than I am responsible for the fact that my parents are fundamentalists.

It's mostly just the result of a series of lucky(? for me) accidents that I myself am not as ill informed as the average citizen of the backwoods where I make my home.

Damn few of the people on his site who are engineers, biologists, geologists, activists, and so forth would be anythiing other than bartenders , truck drivers ,or plumbers except for the fact that in the lottery of life they came up winners and were born to capable and educated parents.

"If anyone out there has some constructive thoughts about things like: what is blocking people from hearing the messages of energy decline (due to peak oil and declining EROI)?"

As a non-scientist, it is my opinion that most people have been conditioned to use financial cost felt in their wallet as the most important metric.

When fuel prices in the US went to US$4/gallon, then people reacted, and a trend began to accommodate the 'pain' with less driving, small car purchases, and such.

Now that the price of fuel in US$ is back down to under US$3/gallon, the trend mostly reverted back to BAU.

So, I am not sure the issue is that people do not hear the messages. I think the issue is that if they are not directly affected, or do not realize they are directly affected, it becomes "oh yeah, I heard about that. (but it doesn't affect me)"

My only hope for all of us is that there actually will be pain, in terms of our wallet-feel and personal experiences, but that it will happen such that there is opportunity for humanity to take actions to continue to thrive.

(Quick second comment before I head back to the conference after a quick email check.)

As a non-scientist, it is my opinion that most people have been conditioned to use financial cost felt in their wallet as the most important metric.

It's not conditioning, it's completely hard-wired.

Humans, like all species, are economic creatures.

Money ('the financial cost felt in their wallet') is a proxy for energy required to obtain food.

Yes. If one is directly affected in the short run, one is more likely to take action. That just seems like a normal behavioral impulse. On the other hand, there are those, including many people here, who have taken action even though they don't have to take action, at least in the short run. This also applies to global warming. There are others who are fully aware of the problem, are concerned about the problem, and even encourage others to do something, and yet do very little on a personal level to change their lifestyle, -- such as not driving large SUVs. I know very intelligent people like that and am a little mystified that they seem to not be able to connect their personal behavior with the global problem. Those are the people who confuse me.

Now if one has decided to not take personal action because of a feeling of hopelessness, that is another matter. I am talking about the people who have not yet reached a stage of despair or hopelessness. It is these people who make me feel things are hopeless because they have the information, seem to be basically good people, and yet change almost nothing. If I could figure out how to motivate these people, that would be an important piece of the puzzle.

Now I could just publicly call them out. But would that be productive or would it just cause pushback?

They are hypocrites.
I know a bunch and the reason is that they want to look cool to others way more than they want to do what is right.
That is the prototypical American.

Thanks to all who put in a comment relating to my question. I've pasted them, along with e-mails, in a document that I will use in preparing for the conference.


This has nothing to do with our monetary system and nobody is to blame!

Every civilisation eventually gets to this point and if we can't look outside our little boxes....

I guess it depends on which box you are in. "Running faster" is what our economic system needs. Partly as a function of our monetary mechanisms. So I'd suggest energy and our monetary system are intimately tied together. All of our technology and culture - including law [a form of technology] - is of a piece that works for a certain energy regime. Doesn't mean different parts cause each other, only that they fit together - just like a jigsaw puzzle.

Something came up at the meeting of the Second Maine Militia yesterday: a discussion on how Europe has a history of feudalism, where the lords understood they needed to take care of the peasants, where in US, we started with liberal enlightenment values - every crook for himself. Feudalism is a different energy regime for which the US has no history. We're likely to be worse off because we don't have that social history. All we have is slavery. plonk

cfm, the growlery, gray, me

Dryki -

By the way, I've just finished reading Maine author Carolyn Chute's latest two novels (Snowman and The School on Heart's Content Road) and was wondering if she is still involved in any of the Maine militia activities. She was making quite a bit of noise for a while, but that was pre-9/11, and I suspect that militias haven't been doing too well ever since.

Anyway, I really love her writing but think she tends to get a little strident and overworked when she veers into the political realm (though these days there's no shortage of things to get strident and overworked about).

You make a good point regarding the social understanding between lords and peasants during the feudal era. Even though the peasants were exploited and treated like crap, there was still a certain sense of noblesse obligé on the part of the aristocracy, however meager it might have been. In the US today we have absolutely none of that; and if you're a member of the underclass, you are totally invisible to the people who run the show. That is, until the lower orders start becoming an embarrassment large enough and unpleasant enough that they become impossible to ignore. It doesn't take a Nostradamus to predict some dicey times ahead for the US on the domestic scene.

Thank a deity we never had feudalism in Sweden.

A recent discovery at Tiber in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was in over 4,000 foot water in a well drilled to over 35,000 feet below surface. If chances for large finds in shallow U.S. coastal waters existed, the companies would have been concentrating efforts there as they were doing decades ago.

These new GOM large oilfields are off the continental shelf and onto the continental slope that extends to over 10,000 feet in depth. Because of isostasy parts of this slope were once closer to the surface, thus the potential for petroleum production occurred there. The deep ocean is far below sunlight and of basaltic igneous composition; fewer sediments were deposited there. The deep ocean floor is not a sedimentary basin conducive to petroleum production.

Let us hope for 'Peak American World-Police-ism'

If President Obama takes General McCrystal's bait and send more troops to the 'stan, then we are as stupid as we were in 1965.

I was watching CNN at the gym yesterday when the talking head wondered out-loud if President Obama would "Send the additional troops that General McCrystal said was necessary to win, 40,000, at a minimum". The guy then correctly said that the extra troops would need to be matched with a like number of contractors.

I almost fell off my stair-stepper...General McCrystal recommended a suite of options, ranging from a low of 10,000 to a high of 40,000 additional troops....but the complicit media translates that to a minimum of 40 thousand more troops. Nice trick.

The sheeple in this country are now used to the idea of permanent war (most of them don't think about it much at all)...before we know it we will have troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran...then will come Yemen, then Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan...

If we took half the resources from the occupations and devoted them to inspecting every container on every ship and establishing a robust Coast Guard and Border Patrol, we could prevent the next attack on our soil...but some folks don't really want that...I think some folks want another Pearl-Harbor/9-11 type event to justify the U.S. dropping the hammer on a much wider imperial over-reach. If there is another draft, say goodbye to your offspring.

My 96-year-old grandfather has always been correct...even 30 years ago he said that the United States was the new Roman Empire, and will suffer the same fate.

Re: The sheeple in this country are now used to the idea of permanent war...

Supposedly, resistance is growing to continuing in Afganistan, at least among liberals who are disappointed with Obama's continuation of Bush's war. After eight years in Afganistan, a different approach is clearly required. Messing around in Muslim countries is counter productive since it is what produced/produces the terrorists in the first place.

Bush's strategy was the classic American one used in WWII. When attacked, take the battle to enemy soil. The problem is that there is no enemy soil for today's terrorists. They are a mobile, free lance bunch. Attacking enclaves and such in Afganistan just stirs up more hatred due to the killing of innocents.

What to do? First this fixation on the Muslim world while associated with the Israel lobby is mostly about oil. So the oil import issue has to be addressed. That means either an oil substitute or a big reduction in oil usage is needed. The only way to accomplish both is to have a dramatic increase in the consumer cost of oil which is likely to bring on economic recession if not compensated in some way. It appears Obama is going to take the back door entrance to raising oil prices by attacking oil subsidies. This will be slow.

We need a quicker solution to deal with terrorism. What did people do in history when faced with terrorist attacks? What did Rome do since we are the new Rome? They withdrew from the hinterlands and tried to defend Rome itself from the attacks of the barbarians. This strategy was followed later throughout Europe with the building of fortifications and castles as protection from the "terrorists" of their day.

We should do the same. The 911 terrorists were successful because there were no locks on cockpit doors for one thing. There were many other failures, but they all fall into lack of defensive fortifications of one kind or another. We must increase and maintain defensive fortification close to home.

My solution is to abandon Afganistan to the terrorists and let it be a rogue state. The people there will likely not suffer anymore than they are suffering from our "help". The government is corrupt and the people's main concern is survival not democracy. That is their choice.

We know how to deal with rogue states and have done so in the past many times. Cuba, N. Korea, China under Mao and the former Soviet Union come to mind. We put in a perimeter of containment at defensible points such as the coast of Florida, the border with South Korea, Taiwan and West Germany for example.

So where are the defensible borders for Afganistan? Most of them are not our concern luckily. Iran needs something to do with their nuclear weapons. Let them point them at Afganistan. Likewise for the Russians. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is under attack from the Taliban. Let these Muslim countries fight it out. I doubt that the Taliban can take over Pakistan with their limited resources. So the rogue state of Afganistan is now contained.
India will make sure Pakistan is contained, so we are out of it.

See how easy it is when one minds his own business.


I agree with your words.

Ending our use of imported oil (through lifestyle changes, efficiency, conservation, mass transit, biking, walking, telecommuting, PEVs and EVs) would be a great achievement.

Stop being the global enabler.

Stop sending them our money for their oil.

Let them play with themselves and the rest of the World.

Great ideas...don't know how to overcome the entrenched interests.

Not like these are new ideas...circa 1973

The best defense has always been a good offense!

Moonwatcher -

It's interesting that you mention the year 1965.

When I was a young man still in college I lived through that period of LBJ's fateful escalation of the Vietnam situation. I can tell you that there was a prevailing attitude in the US at the time that if we just supplied enough manpower and technology, our victory would 100% certain. There was no debate about this, as it was considered a preordained fact. Hubris in action.

As has recently come to light, in 1964 even LBJ didn't think that Vietnam was worth the effort, but he was facing a tough election against a hawkish, ultra-conservative Republican, Barry Goldwater. Being the consummate politician, LBJ felt he had to demonstrate that he was just as 'tough on communism' as the Republicans, and felt that an escalation in Vietnam would be to his political advantage. Hence the bogus Tonkin Gulf incident, leading to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in August or September or 1964, just in time for the Presidential election season. He probably felt he could always back off on Vietnam after the election, but sadly and tragically, events took a far more ominous turn.

Fast forward to October 2009, it appears that with regard to escalating Afghanistan Obama might be LBJ reincarnated. Time of course will tell.


I am terribly afraid that you will be proved correct.

It would take a very big man to fold this hand at the domestic and global poker table and walk away.

I am afraid that President Obama will do the politically expedient thing and go with McCrystal's flow.

Things won't get better, and in 2012 Obama will get lambasted anyway and the next guy or gal elected President will really double down on the imperial over-reach game, and then our children and their children are doomed.

Another re-play from Vietnam:


Of course the DoD and their shills will clamor for an M-15/M-4 replacement:


What they lust for is the Objective Infantry Combat Weapon (OICW):


And soon enough after we pay our tax dollars to get millions of these made for our military, our allies militaries, and even for those whose militaries will turn on us, these will end up on our streets for the drug gangs to shoot us up at home. Or for our soldiers to control our own domestic chaos...

It won't end until we are throwing rocks at each other in the rubble...

This is a very interesting article, especially all the citations to 'on the record' quotes...

Some people have wired their brains to believe that all the World's problems are nails, and we just need more and bigger hammers..


Seems like to me that increased peace came to Iraq due to increased troop levels.

Seems like to me that increased peace came to Iraq due to increased troop levels.

Actually much more due to the change in strategy. Rather than fighting against many of the groups of "badguys", we learned we could co-opt many of them (with money and/or political support). By getting enough insurgents fighting with us rather tha against us, things began to wind down. Then the locals were simply getting fed up with the violence, and with the worst elements of the insurgency. So while more troops, did help in implementing better security, it was not likely to have been the most decisive factor.

Hello TODers,

From the DB toplink, DenverPost about the ASPO Conference: "Peak oil" theorists: World running out"
...But high prices tend to push politicians to supply more oil, eventually, Lynch said.
Gee, I never knew it was that simple, all we have to do is stop the politicians from spouting endless crap from their mouths to orally spouting vast quantities of gasoline and diesel. Thus, I can happily look forward to the easy refilling of my gastank by having an elected representative regurgitate until my vehicle is full.

Sorry Mr. Lynch, but high prices don't increase the free supplies of bird & bat guano, number of whales to be slaughtered, dodo-birds for eating, rainclouds over drought-stricken areas, nor the reproductive rates of oilfields. You can jack the price of gasoline to $100,000/gallon--it still won't transform Col. Drake's first Pennsylvania well into a high flowrate gusher. All wells become End wells. This is the opposite of the popular, but crappy phrase you like to spout of "All wells that ends well".

EDIT: for additional emphasis

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

"All wells become End wells"

Absolutely wonderful


Thxs, but the best creative quote I have ever seen was the TODer*** who said, in regards to our need for postPeak O-NPK recycling & Humanure:

"Have you hugged your Butt today?"

I just thought that was Absolutely Brilliant & Priceless!

***As I have forgotten who first typed these words: full credit & huge kudos to him/her.

Since the amount of oil in infinite, it is infinite for half the earth. Leave the other half alone. Technology will save us, but only if we drill everywhere, only if we destroy what little is left.

As a sidebar to Gail's recent posts on the Athabasca oil sands, we can look forward to an expert assessment. The Royal Society of Canada has appointed an expert panel to report on the industry's effects on the environment and human health in the Athabasca region. The panel is made up of academics who are charged with producing an independent, unbiased report, due in the spring of 2011.

RSC panels typically hold hearings to gather expert testimony, so we may hear more of the debate next year.

Concerning the link up top: Petrobras: More Transparency Would Be Nice

Perhaps Tupi will not turn out to be such a great discovery after all. Flow rates from the initial test well was only one seventh what they promised in May. Will that cause second thoughts about investing the billions required to develop the field?

Ron P.

Hello Darwinian,

What will be interesting about all deepsea, saltdome projects will be the ability of the operators to early identify, then avoid any and all Super-K Discrete Fracture Networks [DFNs] that lead back into the salt domes, as this could cause massive production problems and/or danger.

As discussed in the Voelker Motherlode, DFNs leading to peripheral injection waterfront override was a leading problem that forced KSA into radical measures to reduce their rising watercut percentages by moving to MRC horizontals, ESPs, and other targeted, bypassed crude-pocket mitigative measures. If memory feebly serves: one DFN in the middle of Uthmaniyah was over 9,000 feet long leading to some vert-wells watering out very quickly.

My feeling is that future subsidence, arising from saltdome extraction, could be very high if injection water finds DFNs, then starts dissolving very porous stratigraphic structures, but I am not an expert. Recall the subsidence footage that has already occurred in the North Sea requiring the platforms to be reworked.

A few additional thoughts:

Recall the Shedgum leak area in Ghawar, whereby vertical DFNs reaching down deep into the primary and natural aquifer has caused [still causes?] production problems. Also, as we have seen in weblinks here on TOD, there have been geothermal projects drilled into primarily more solid [less tectonically fractured] basaltic rock that have been halted from a sudden rise in earthquake activity due to subsidence effects.

Imagine a frac-project going badly wrong in a saltdome crude reservoir, with the hot water & crude suddenly finding a new vertical DFN into the salt structure above, then continually widening it. I would hate to see a large part of an oilfield suddenly disappear, but maybe TODers Rockman or Euan Mearns could provide more expert discussion on the potential of this occurring, as I have no oil-patch experience.

Edit: to correct Euan for misspelling. He should have an easy name like Bob. :)

toto -- always a possiblity of leakage up natural/manmade fractures. But inevitably the problems usually arise from leaking wellbores: bad cement jobs, rusting casing, leaking packers, etc. A small hamlet just east of Houston was abandoned long ago from such a calamity. There NG leaked into homes and businesses. When there are leaks from fractures they often led to flows into other rocks layers instead. Many years ago a "storage capsule" in a salt dome leaked 7 million gallons of propane. They never did figure out where it went but certainly not to the surface. That would have been difficult to not notice.

As far as well documented man-induced earthquake (really more seismic tremors then a quake as most envision) the only one I've read about happened in Colorado. And that was the result of water being injected (by our gov't no less) into disposal wells. The water lubricated some faults under tension and caused them to slip resulting in measureable seismic events. Also, perhaps you misread, but geothermal recovery doesn't generate subsidence that I've ever heard of. But I wouldn't be surprised if that much energy transfer didn't result in some measureable effect.

This is pretty funny: The Roo Pod... http://roopod.com/

I have a suspicion that we'll be seeing more attempts at Kabinscooters in the future.


The microcarmuseum has a wonderful collection of Spanish Biscuters
One drawback of the Biscuter, it was so lightweight that we schoolkids used to pick them up and carry them away and laugh at the owner when he came back and couldn't find his car !
No need for a reverse gear, you just picked it up and pointed it the way it should go.

Hello Santaluciae,

Thxs for the link. Just goes to show how overpowered the typical car is nowadays. Your car = 9HP, 200cc, one cylinder. Cadillac Escalade Hybrid = approx 350HP, 5,800cc, V8. The postPeak progression in personal transportation hopefully follows to SpiderwebRiding = My WAG is 0.6-1.5 HP from a batt-to-electric motor:



which is far better by a long shot than non-assisted 0.0HP:


Dave Bowden just told us that he went out of his way to tell the reporter of the Denver Post story that ASPO is not saying the world is running out of oil.


According to the U.S. DOE, lighting consumes 22 per cent of all electricity generated in the United States -- some 8.2 quads in all. More than half of this energy is consumed within the commercial sector, where nearly two out of every five kWh is spent on this task. The DOE estimates that over 80 per cent of all commercial building built prior to 1980 still utilize older, inefficient T12 technology and for those buildings built prior to 1990, an estimated three-quarters are likewise T12 (the numbers for industrial buildings are likely to be very similar).

That's about to change in a BIG way. On July 1, 2010, the magnetic ballasts that drive these systems will no longer be manufactured (since July 1, 2005 they have been sold for replacement use only). Following on this, as of July 14, 2012, virtually all T12 lamps and less efficient "700 series" T8s will no longer be made. By July 2013, most incandescent, halogen and even some halogen-IR reflector lamps will be phased out as well; these will be replaced by the latest generation of halogen-IR "plus" lamps.

There are literally hundreds of millions of magnetically operated T12 fixtures still in operation, and retrofitting these with high performance T8 lamps and electronic ballasts will cut their power consumption by almost half. Replacing incandescent BR and halogen PAR lamps with halogen-IR plus lamps will cut this energy demand by half too.

There are a tremendous number of metal halide and HPS fixtures that really should be replaced as well. The building shown below is just two years old. We will be pulling out the thirty 455-watt HIDs on this cross deck and installing 222-watt 6-lamp T8 high bay fluorescents in their place; light levels will remain about the same or come in slightly higher whilst electrical demand will fall by more than half.

Converting just the HIDs you see in this picture will save enough electricity to power all of the new LED street lights in the Town of Annapolis Royal.


Hi Paul,

Any thought to costing adding skylights to that rather dark building with a large roof? Possibly with light level monitoring more energy could be saved in the daytime.


Paul in Ontar-ari-ari-o

Hi Paul,

Skylights and light monitoring/dimming controls are a nice way to go. Here, however, security is a key concern and given that they could serve as a possible point of entry, this pretty much rules them out. Also, anytime you cut through a roof membrane, you run the risk of water leaks. I had two homes in Toronto equipped with skylights and in both cases there was evidence of leakage.


Whenever you find yourself justifying the dumb (like using expensive electrons to duplicate free solar lighting because you put an opaque roof in the way) by reference to some problem or other, it always pays to consider -- "Am I missing an opportunity by thinking about this all wrong?"

To wit, I bet the building consumes large amounts of water as well, and ventilation . . .

Mayhaps a clever designer or two could come up with a "skylight" that harvests rainwater and provides for fresh air intakes distributed around the building . . .

Hi LS,

I'm sure there's much more that could be done to make this or any other building more energy and resource efficient, but we've been hired to do a specific job with a tightly defined set of parameters; we can offer other recommendations that we feel might be appropriate, but we're lighting consultants, not architects or structural engineers.


we can offer other recommendations that we feel might be appropriate, but we're lighting consultants, not architects or structural engineers.

A very good answer. And it should be easy to make the case, that picking a lot of low hanging fruit from mnay trees does more good (given limited resources), than picking all the fruit from just two or three trees.

Hi EoS,

The work we do on behalf of Nova Scotia Power must meet certain financial criteria -- our responsibility to the utility, its shareholders and to our clients, not surprisingly, is to save the greatest number of kWh at the lowest possible cost. I take this responsibility very seriously, so a lot of my time is spent identifying the optimal solution that best meets the needs and expectations of all parties concerned; its not as easy as one might think, especially when the current lighting hardware is in poor repair or ill-suited for the intended task, or the wiring is not to code. And although it doesn't happen often, thankfully, you sometimes run into clients who intentionally abuse the system (or you and your staff) simply because they know they can get away with it; that makes life interesting to say the least.


Old industrial buildings often had clerestorys along the ridgeline of the roof. That way they did not leak like a skylight. This can cause a lot of solar heat gain, which is a problem in warmer climates, but it did not matter much when the buildings were not air conditioned and had roof exhaust fans.

I designed my home to have enough daylight to read anywhere inside, without solar heat gain, and with 15% window to floor area. For this to work best a house should preferably face north, sceond best, south, with sufficient overhang on sunny side and windows high enough from floor to be in shade.

A bump-up box welded into the hole would serve the same function and keep the glass interface above the waterline.

Hi Paul,

The Bank of Nova Scotia's main data processing centre in Scarborough, ON is an old converted ball bearing plant that utilizes a large number of these windows. It works well, because it brings natural daylight into the building's core and provides an open airiness to the place with a minimum amount of glare.

As an aside, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Scotiabank and its employees. I developed much of the forms processing and document management software that's used by their personal and commercial banking units, risk management, loan underwriting, dealer financing and leasing operations. I cannot say enough good things about this organization -- they are, in my mind, the best.


These facts truly are good news.

Cutting lighting demand by half is huge.

An 11% reduction in U.S. lighting electricity demand if all older fixtures were replaced by modern fixtures?


And this retrofitting will provide manufacturing and installation jobs.

The big trick is to market the wisdom to expedite this change to the building owners and utilities and governments.

Please continue to keep us informed about lighting technology.

Keep up the great service!

Does your company market your lighting efficiency services in China, Europe, etc?

Thanks for your kind words, MW. I wouldn't anticipate an eleven per cent reduction in total electricity demand as there is a mix of lighting technologies beyond T12 fluorescent; perhaps three to five per cent, but that's simply a guess and nothing more. With that, there would be a drop in air conditioning demand due to the corresponding reduction in heat load, i.e., for every one watt reduction in lighting load there's typically a 0.3 watt savings in cooling requirements.

Daylight harvesting and occupancy sensors are another area where we can reap huge rewards. We just finished a retrofit of a local courier company where the lights in the sorting and loading areas were left on 24-hours a day even though these areas are unoccupied for much of the time (see below).

In this case, we replaced high output 8 ft. T12 fixtures with F32T8s tandem industrials and cut the load by slightly more than half. We then cut this by half again by installing occupancy sensors that shut off the lights after 5 minutes of inactivity (each 24 x 40 ft. zone is independently controlled). Very simple, reliable and cost effective technology that should be used more widely.

With respect to our services, we're a fairly small firm -- it consists of myself and two business partners, a couple employees and a larger number of sub-contractors who perform the physical work in the field. I'm not sure how much larger we want to grow -- we certainly have a lot on our hands just in terms of Nova Scotia Power's Small Business Lighting Solutions and their larger Commercial+Industrial programmes. NSP will be cranking up their efforts in this area over the next few months and we hope to expand our involvement with them.


There should be another organization about fossil fuel…

World Running Out Of Fossil Fuel (WROOFF.org)

We have about 150 years of oil left since about half is already gone and whoever gets the last quart wins the WROOFF prize. The prize is in fiat money at the rate of one penny per barrel of oil raised from a well. This is something over one trillion pennies and that’s a lot of money. It may not be a bargain because that last quart may cost a trillion pennies. Anyway ... This is obviously not a theory because everyone knows (except abiotic oil people) someday we will run out of oil.

I know it is nonsense but at least it will get the MSM off the “Peak Oil Theory” kick and move their attention to WROOFF.org… (Sorry Fido).

Not to worry Drummers. When they go to the pump and the price is US$5.00 and rising, we won't have to convince anyone about anything. The argument will end.

As someone who thinks patriotism is a positive, I think you will appreciate this quote:

In a letter written in 1822, five years after leaving office, the fourth President of the United States cautioned that “A popular Government, without popular information … is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.” A strong democracy, Madison argued, requires both knowledge and public opinion.

Not to worry Drummers. When they go to the pump and the price is US$5.00 and rising, we won't have to convince anyone about anything. The argument will end.

No, it will be a witch hunt for the alleged conspirators who are profitting by the misery of the masses. Geologic limitaions will not be invoked. And of course all those commie enviros who blocked drilling, will also be hunted down.....

You may very well be right.

Anyone have current information on mexico's depletion and how long till they can no longer export? last time i checked up on it here it was about 2014 or so.

I was looking for comments here on the new shale techniques story that does the rounds, but couldn't find any. It may have been dealt with days ago? I read this stuff before, yesterday, NYT(?!), and now the Telegraph does it too. It’s just that nobody explains what these new techniques are, which is not a credibility booster for me.

Energy crisis is postponed as new gas rescues the world

America is not going to bleed its wealth importing fuel. Russia's grip on Europe's gas will weaken. Improvident Britain may avoid paralysing blackouts by mid-decade after all.

The World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires last week was one of those events that shatter assumptions. Advances in technology for extracting gas from shale and methane beds have quickened dramatically, altering the global balance of energy faster than almost anybody expected.

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply – and rising fast. "There has been a revolution in the gas fields of North America. Reserve estimates are rising sharply as technology unlocks unconventional resources," he said.

Yes, this could be BAU saver giving a number of years for handling the overall situation. It is well worth further analysis. Is it a proven geological and technological fact? Or is it so-so and positive PR built on the lower US demand during the financial crisis? I dont know, yet.

Or is it so-so and positive PR built on the lower US demand during the financial crisis? I dont know, yet.

It is a little bit of that. But, it is also that the unconventional natural gas plays have developed better than had been expected a few years ago. Of course how sustainable the increased rate of flow will be given the very high depletion rates of such wells, is an important question. But we do have reasons to think that north American natural gas supplies are in much better shape than was thought likely just a half decade back. Hopefully we can utilize this unexpected break to begin the task of reducing our carbon footprint (electricty from natural gas is more than twive as carbon efficient as from coal).

I posed the same question some time back-is the gas really there?

Either Rockman or Westexas answered and said that the evidence is solid, that the gas is there, if the price is high enough -which it is not , apparently , right at this minute.But it looks as if it will be high enough before too much longer.

ilargi -- To make a long story short, they are talking about horizontal wells bores and massive multiple frac'ing jobs. Over the last several years the technology has improved considerably. But, unfortunately, at a very high price. That little detail ofetn seems to be missing in the hyped up reports. Add that to the rapid depletion of such wells and it tough to be too much of a cornucopian. Yes...many trillions of cubic feet of NG can now be recovered from such reservoirs. But it will be the most expensive NG to be had. When NG prises rise high enough the shale gas drilling will resume. And when prices drop drilling will stop. The amount of recoverable shale gas reserves is strictly a function of your price assumptions: very high NG prices = many decades of NG supplies. Low Ng prices = little of this resource will be recovered.