Drumbeat: October 23, 2009

Obama says U.S. must win clean-energy race

Reporting from Washington - President Obama, citing a global competition for development of clean-energy alternatives to oil, insisted today that the United States must win that race and called on Congress to enact legislation also intended to curb climate change.

"The nation that wins this competition is going to be the nation that leads the world," Obama told an audience at one of the nation's premier research universities in Massachusetts. "And I want America to be that nation -- it's that simple."

Obama praised "a legacy of innovation" that "taps into something that is essential about America."

"Even in the darkest of times that this nation has seen, it has always sought a brighter horizon," the president said at the MIT in Cambridge, Mass. "We have always been about innovation. We have always been about discovery. That is part of our DNA."

Exxon Executive Stomped in Dispute Over $15 Billion Gas Project

(Bloomberg) -- An Exxon Mobil Corp. executive overseeing the company’s $15 billion liquefied-natural-gas project in Papua New Guinea was beaten and stomped by a mob of 50 people in a dispute over landowner contracts.

Noel Wright, Exxon Mobil’s development officer overseeing plans to build a gas-export complex in the South Pacific nation, has returned to “normal duties” after the Oct. 20 attack outside his hotel in the capital, Port Moresby, said Margaret Ross, a spokeswoman for the Irving, Texas-based company.

Ross declined to provide details on Wright’s injuries, which the Post-Courier newspaper in Port Moresby said were severe enough to require hospitalization. Wright was “severely punched” in the face, knocked to the pavement, kicked and stepped on during the incident, the newspaper reported on Oct. 21. The attackers’ attempt to haul Wright away in a waiting vehicle failed when police intervened, the Post-Courier said.

Mexico Sept oil data point to stabilizing output

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican oil production fell 4.5 percent in September from a year ago but was higher than August, lending further support to the government's claim that oil production levels are stabilizing after years of decline.

Mexico produced 2.599 million barrels per day of crude in September, 4.5 percent less than a year ago but up from 2.542 million bpd in August, state oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL] said on Friday.

Snubbed at top table, China chases oil M&A crumbs

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's state-owned oil giants are likely to lose out to global rivals in a race for top energy assets, as they lack experience and hit a protectionist wall, forcing them to settle for smaller, but riskier buys.

Chesapeake hits shale output records

US gas giant Chesapeake Energy said production in its so-called "big 4" shale gas fields reached record highs during the third quarter.

Chesapeake's gross daily natural gas output from the Barnett Shale in Texas reached more than a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

US natural gas rig count climbs 4 to 725 for week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed by four this week to 725, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

The U.S. natural gas drilling rig count has gained in 12 of the last 14 weeks after bottoming at 665 on July 17, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 gas rigs operating.

But the rig count is still down sharply since peaking above 1,600 in September of last year, standing at 804 rigs, or 53 percent, below the same week in 2008.

Suncor seeks to speed clean up of oil sands

Suncor Energy Inc. SU-T says it has a promising new technology that will turn tailing ponds near its oil sands operations in Northern Alberta into a solid landscape in a matter of weeks, thereby speeding the reclamation process significantly.

Tailings ponds pollution has been a hot issue for years because of the impact on the environment, but it became more prominent in the public mind in 2008, when 500 ducks died in a toxic oil sands sludge at the Syncrude Canada oil sands tailings pond in northern Alberta.

Two-wheel troublemaking: Have motorists let bicyclists' 'rights' go too far?

Have bicyclists "rights? gone too far?

For a decade, urban bicyclists have become more brash. In some cities, groups like Critical Mass organized mass rush-hour bike rides that tied traffic in knots, delaying commuters rides' home by minutes or hours. They are hardly tactics that will win sympathy from drivers.

In the aftermath and as their numbers have increased, bikers' have become enboldened to take over the road. That is, instead of riding to the right or on the shoulder, some are now riding in the center of the lane. Two incidents underscore how the they are putting themselves in danger, both from from who hit them by accident and in a case in Los Angeles, by a motorist who is alleged to have tried to make them crash on purpose:

Eyes on oil output as majors battle refining slump

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - This quarter's earnings from oil majors like Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc will put the focus on their integrated structure as they bank on rebounding oil prices to offset dismal refining results.

Refineries are struggling as demand remains limp and the cost of their input - oil - keeps rising. That places the onus on the majors' exploration and production arms, leading to more scrutiny of new wells due to come on line in the months ahead.

Few anticipate a dramatic recovery in global demand for oil products next year, so oil majors also face tough decisions on what to do about surplus refining capacity, as do the dedicated refiners such as Valero Energy Corp

EPA cracks the whip on coal-fired power plants

In a move praised by activists as a way to save lives but criticized by industry as potentially driving up electricity costs, the Obama administration has agreed to adopt rules reducing toxic emissions of mercury, soot and other chemicals from all coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

EnCana Gas Business May Sell $1 Billion in Assets Per Year

(Bloomberg) -- EnCana Corp., which is splitting into a natural-gas producer and a separate oil company, may sell $500 million to $1 billion in gas assets per year that aren’t profitable enough.

Fire rages at Puerto Rico fuel depot

FBI Agent Shawn Deturn confirmed that authorities were looking into graffiti found on at least one San Juan tunnel that mentioned the fire. The spray-painted message at the Minillas Tunnel in San Juan said: "Boom, fire, RIP, Gulf, Soul, ACNF." A second tunnel was reported to have the same message. Officials do not know who or what ACNF is, Deturn said.

Caribbean Petroleum owns the Gulf Oil brand in Puerto Rico.

San Juan police said they activated all units: explosives, transit, tactical operations and SWAT.

'Perspectives on Energy Policy' report now available

LIVERMORE, Calif. — The United States should create a high-level independent council to analyze and communicate critical issues to energy policymakers and the public, a group of 27 leaders in academia, government, and the private sector recommends in a new report.

The report, "Perspectives on Energy Policy: Security, Economics, and the Environment," is the result of a workshop convened by Sandia National Laboratories and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Sustainability Solutions Institute (SSI) in March.

The report also recommends that policymakers focus their attention on outcomes and values rather than on mandating specific technical solutions.

"At no time in our nation's history have the challenges associated with securing America's energy future been so paramount and the need to develop systems solutions so critical if we are to find effective solutions to address the energy–climate nexus," said Les Shephard, Sandia's vice president for energy, security and defense technologies. "To assure this future we must find more effective approaches to fully couple the energy policy community with the science and technology community to provide informed policy decisions that will benefit the global community. This report is one small but important step in moving in this direction."

Iran rejects UN-brokered nuclear deal

Iran has failed to accept a UN-drafted plan for it to cut a stockpile of nuclear fuel that the West fears could be used for weapons, instead calling for responses to its own proposal.

The deal, proposed by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), has already been approved by the other parties: the United States, Russia and France.

Mexico: An oil nation in crisis

Oil is at the heart of the Mexican economy. Profits on its extraction are the country’s number one revenue, accounting for approximately 40 percent of Mexico’s total revenues. Due to the decline in the price of oil that began last year with the escalation of the global recession, Mexico’s oil-dependent economy has suffered grievously. Prior to the sag in oil prices, when other oil producing countries were taking advantage of the tremendous peak in prices, Mexico was hit particularly hard; government officials reported that last year’s drop in oil production cost the Mexican government an estimated US$20 billion in lost revenues. This year’s plunge in oil prices has resulted in oil export revenues being recorded at only $1.25 billion per month for the first seven months of 2009, a fall from an average of $1.44 billion per month in 2008. The falling prices and production rate continue to damage the economy, and many blame the Mexican government for its failure to channel new investments in to various oil-producing fields, along with its mismanagement of revenues. Mexico feels the pressure to convert its oil profits into public spending in order to generate immediate results and to keep a lid on the country’s mounting social tensions; instead it sometimes foolishly refuses to put aside some of the profits to ensure financial stability.

Exelon third quarter profit falls 10 percent on weak demand, cool summer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Power generator Exelon said Friday that the weak economy and the cool summer dragged down its third-quarter profit.

Chicago-based Exelon, one of the nation's largest power companies with 5.4 million customers, said that its earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 10 percent from a year ago.

Toronto Hydro approved to test wind turbine prospects at Bluffs

Toronto Hydro Corp. has been given the green light to build an offshore wind research platform about 1.2 kilometres off the Scarborough Bluffs, part of a controversial plan to erect dozens of wind turbines in Lake Ontario.

Blast, fire rip through Puerto Rico oil facility

Residents jammed island gas stations over fears that a gasoline shortage might result, but Fortuno said the island had a week's supply.

After the explosion, the fire and smoke could be seen for miles around and smoke at one point partially blocked a major expressway leading into San Juan, as well as affecting other roads.

Local FBI agents said they would be assisting authorities in investigating the cause of the explosion.

A Harvest of Golf Courses From Vietnam’s Farmland

PHAN THIET, Vietnam — It may be the most capitalist enterprise in Communist Vietnam — by the rich and for the rich: a proliferation of golf courses that is displacing thousands of farmers and devouring the rice fields the country depends on.

French farmers protest over price fall

Thousands of farmers staged protests across France and blocked traffic for about two hours on a section of the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris to demand the government help them combat a plunge in food prices.

France's main farmers' union, FNSEA, estimated about 50,000 farmers with 7,000 tractors turned out around the country.

Depressed prices in the dairy sector have sparked protests across Europe this year, including a delivery boycott last month.

Roofers, landscapers in a turf war over Chicago's rooftop gardens

Rooftop gardens, like the one atop Chicago's City Hall, have roofers green with envy.

They want more of the work that is being done by commercial landscapers in the booming market to install green roofs on public and commercial buildings in the Chicago area. But the landscapers are standing their ground.

Rubin: $100/barrel oil will return by Memorial Day

Oil prices will reach $100/barrel by the end of this winter, and we'll see a return to $1.40/litre ($4/gallon in the US) gasoline prices by Memorial Day, says Jeff Rubin, formerly chief economist with CIBC World Markets and author of Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller.

Rubin, who will be speaking to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce November 4, also casts doubt on the logic behind the Atlantic Gateway concept.

In his book, Rubin argues that the defining feature of the world economy is the price of oil. High oil prices caused the American financial meltdown, not the other way around, says Rubin, and high oil prices are sure to return once the recession is over.

As he explains it, the underlying issue is that we have either just reached, or are just about to reach, "peak oil"---the point where total oil production declines, no matter the price for oil. As a result, global trade will necessarily have to diminish, and we'll return to the local economies of the past.

Why $80 a Barrel is Now the Support Level for Oil

The bottom line is this: Oil is going higher. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next week, but its upward trend is unmistakable.

One of my favorite authors on the economics of limited resources is Herman Daly.

Herman E. Daly was a Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank before he became a professor at the Maryland School of Public Affairs. You may be familiar with him from the journal, Ecological Economics. He is co-founder and associate editor.

Daly eloquently lays out a bullish case for scarce resources, such as oil, that is difficult to deny. He points out that there’s absolutely no way we can generate more fossil fuels. We’d have to be immortal and extremely patient, because it takes several million years for geological forces to “make” new oil supplies.

Total warns of energy insecurity

Total, the French oil group, has warned politicians that they risk accelerating an oil supply crunch if they enact environmental policies that deter investment in oil and gas before enough viable alternatives are available.

“Governments need to assess the needs of this planet in terms of energy and stop saying we will develop solar and then not have enough,” Christophe de Margerie, Total’s chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times. “Carbon is not the enemy; carbon is life.”

Crude Oil Falls From One-Year High as OPEC May Increase Output

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell from a one-year high on speculation that OPEC members will agree to increase production at a December meeting.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may raise output to keep oil in a range of $75 to $80 a barrel, Secretary- General, Abdalla El-Badri said in London today. The 12-member group last agreed to increase targets in September 2007.

“OPEC will want to prevent prices from rising too high,” said Lawrence Eagles, global head of commodities research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, on a conference call. “OPEC has a great incentive not to see the transport sector become less dependent on oil.”

Cold snap helps drive price of heating fuels up

NEW YORK - Sparked by a cold snap in the northeast, home heating fuels are getting more expensive even though supplies are well above normal for this time of year.

Heating oil futures spiked with crude oil contracts last week. Retail prices followed, surging an average of 10.2 cents per gallon for residential customers on Monday, according to an Energy Information Administration report released Thursday.

Canada's oil patch, mines tempt Asian giants

CALGARY/TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's energy and mining sectors are riding a wave of acquisitions by Asian companies that are flush with cash and hungry for resources to fuel rapidly expanding economies, a trend not expected to let up soon.

Can anyone really afford NOT to be invested in at least some oil stocks?

Oil provides over 97% of the fuel required for the world's transportation needs including planes, trains, automobiles and shipping. This figure has changed very little in recent decades, despite the plethora of alternative energy sources that generate increased interest from producers and investors whenever there's an oil price spike.

And despite the worldwide recession and record high fuel prices -- both Chinese and Indian oil consumption still grew last year. The US Energy Information Administration predicts global demand for oil to increase from its current level of 84.5 million barrels per day to 99.5 million by 2015.

Schlumberger Net Income Falls After Oil Prices Tumble

(Bloomberg) -- Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oilfield-services provider, said third-quarter profit fell 48 percent as a drop in energy prices forced producers to slash spending.

Net income fell to $787 million, or 65 cents a share, from $1.53 billion, or $1.25, a year earlier, Schlumberger said today in a statement. The company, based in Houston and Paris, was expected to earn 61 cents a share, the average of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales dropped 25 percent to $5.43 billion.

Using CO2 to Expand Low-Carbon Oil Production…and Other Developments

S&A Resource Report editor Matt Badiali covers a broad expanse of ideas as well as geography in this exclusive interview with The Energy Report. He discusses the immense potential of Iraqi oil, and the smaller but surer resurrection of old oil fields in Illinois. In addition to sharing views about areas within the oil industry worthy of investors' attention, he talks about the promise—and problems—associated with major oil finds that have been making the news. These discoveries may postpone peak oil by a decade or two, but they will take a long time to bring to production, too. Matt also points out how data reporting metrics (BOE) manage to hide the extent of dwindling oil production.

Indonesia Allows Foreign Oil Firms to Sell Subsidized Fuel

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia has for the first time appointed foreign and local private oil companies to distribute diesel and petrol in the domestic market from next year.

Puerto Rico Refinery Ablaze Following Two Explosions

(Bloomberg) -- Caribbean Petroleum Corp.’s refinery and tank farm at Bayamon, Puerto Rico is on fire after two explosions at the site today.

Firefighters are still fighting the blaze, the cause of which is still unknown, according to a spokeswoman for the local Guaynabo police force, who was speaking by telephone and asked to not be identified by name. She said the explosions happened at about 12:30 a.m. local time.

Woodside Sticks With LNG Plans as Chevron Snares Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, said it is sticking with plans to expand its Pluto project after two potential suppliers opted to feed gas to Chevron Corp.’s rival venture instead.

Reliance Ind buying costly gas for refinery - lawyer

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Energy major Reliance Industries is paying more to import liquefied natural gas to power its refinery in western India than if it were allowed to receive gas from its own field, a lawyer for the firm said on Thursday.

Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries, India's top conglomerate, and Reliance Natural Resources, led by younger brother Anil Ambani, are fighting a legal battle over terms of a deal to sell natural gas to Reliance Natural at below the price set by the government.

U.K., Belgium LNG Imports Soar to Record, PanEurasian Says

Bloomberg) -- Liquefied natural gas imports into the Western European market by the U.K. and Belgium probably reached a record this year as new plants in Qatar boosted supplies, a consultant said.

The U.K.’s purchases in October probably reached an all- time high of about 870,000 metric tons, or equivalent to about 40 billion cubic feet of gas sent into the grid, PanEurasian Enterprises said in an e-mail yesterday. Belgium’s terminal at Zeebrugge may send out as much gas in October as a record set earlier this year, according to the report.

A Swamp Full of Dollars, By Michael Peel; Crude World, By Peter Maass; The Squeeze, By Tom Bower

At the beginning of his book about "pipelines and paramilitaries at Nigeria's oil frontier", Michael Peel travels to a place believed to be the source of oil in the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, off the coast. He manages to get to the spot where some day an oil company will begin drilling. Once that happens, Sao Tome's bucolic charms will vanish – but the people there don't seem to mind. They can't wait for oil. They want to become like Nigeria.

Yes, Nigeria. The reserves of sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producer were deemed sufficiently important for the Pentagon to create a special African command. With the Middle East unstable – particularly after the war in Iraq – it became important for the US to secure supplies from Nigeria. But as Karl Maier, former correspondent of The Independent, accurately showed in his 2002 book This House Has Fallen, Nigeria was anything but stable.

The United States: Land of the Setting Sun

There are more than the two extreme possibilities of oil production that are mentioned — one being that oil is produced by decayed plants and animals (when it’s gone it’s gone) and the other being oil is produced by the earth constantly (it’s gushing out from the center of the earth and we’ll never run out). I think that oil is being produced constantly by natural processes in the earth, but not at a rate necessary to sustain present oil consumption. So peak oil does exist because consumption is at a much higher rate than creation. However, in thousands of years — after man is either no longer here or has no use for energy generation via oil — oil will be plentiful again. Thus as a practical matter, we will run out of “producible” oil, but as a scientific fact we will find that oil is being produced by the earth.

Nick Griffin top 10: Get the lowdown on the BNP leader

He claimed in 2009 that "global warming is essentially a hoax". Speaking to the BBC he said that global warming “is being exploited by the liberal elite as a means of taxing and controlling us and the real crisis is peak oil"

Prison time sought for Alaska corruption figure

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Federal prosecutors say the former chief executive of a company that did construction work for oil companies should be sentenced to nearly four years in prison for offering bribes in exchange for legislation favorable to the petroleum industry.

Feds designate polar bear habitat in Alaska

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it is designating more than 200,000 square miles in Alaska and off its coast as "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.

Oil spill 'massive' risk to Australian animals

SYDNEY (AFP) – A massive oil and gas leak off Australia's northwest coast was killing seabirds and threatening thousands of marine animals, conservationists warned Friday.

Oil company PTTEP Australasia is preparing to make a fourth attempt at plugging the leaking Montara wellhead, which has been spewing oil, gas and condensate into the Timor Sea since August 21.

Pennsylvania fines Cabot over drilling spills

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Pennsylvania has fined Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) for three spills of a fluid used in natural gas drilling, amid concern about groundwater contamination, state regulators said on Thursday.

Cabot spilled about 8,000 gallons of LGC-35, a lubricant, in the rural community of Dimock, Susquehanna County, on Sept. 16 and 22. Natural gas drillers use the chemical in a technique called hydraulic fracturing to obtain gas trapped in rock formations.

TVA to buy 450 megawatts from Dakota wind turbines

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority, looking outside the region to boost its renewable energy portfolio, said Thursday it will buy 450 megawatts of wind power capacity from the Great Plains.

Vt. board to hold lottery for energy developers

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont utility regulators are doing something unusual. The Public Service Board is holding a lottery to see which solar and biomass power developers get to sell their power at above-market prices.

California’s Push for Electric Cars May Raise Costs for Power

(Bloomberg) -- California’s push to lead U.S. sales of electric cars may result in higher power rates for consumers in the state, as a growing number of rechargeable vehicles forces utilities to pay for grid upgrades.

Space-based solar power can help on energy needs

While it doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate solar power as an environmentally friendly source of energy, it will take that level of expertise to develop a practical, economic concept to collect the sun's radiance and relay this resource to Earth.

Outlook from solar companies disappoints investors

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. solar companies SunPower Corp and Akeena Solar Inc on Thursday posted results that topped Wall Street estimates, but offered little hope the market for the renewable energy source would rebound this year.

The two companies said the solar sector was seeing a slow improvement, but also admitted the industry has yet to overcome the oversupply problems that have driven prices for panels down by about 50 percent in the past 12 months.

None Like It Hot

Asher Miller, executive director of the Post-Carbon Institute, a global think tank that counts McKibben and peak oil theorist Richard Heinberg among its fellows, looks at fossil fuels almost fondly, as in thoughtful reminiscence. "The big human story is that we won the lottery," Miller says. "We found this amazing energy source that fueled our society and changed it completely, giving us luxuries and altering the course of human history entirely. Can you blame us for going nuts over it?

"But it's now a moot point. We're living in a difficult time. We're changing, and it's being dictated by climate. We have to be realistic, and we can't live the way we've been living."

Asking the Right Questions: Why Invest in Clean Energy?

I believe that the inconvenience and cost of dealing with the looming crises of climate change and peak oil are the main reasons that there continues to be a broad segment of the population intent on denying that they exist, despite the evidence to the contrary. As a human being, I find this endlessly frustrating. We're likely to continue burning coal and driving Hummers until some disaster forces us to reconsider the implications of our actions, even though the costs of dealing with the problems we are creating continue to escalate in the meantime.

36 football fields deforested each minute: WWF

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – The equivalent of 36 football fields are being stripped from the world's forests each minute, the environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a statement released here on Thursday.

The group, presenting its figures during a UN-organized World Forestry Congress held in the Argentine capital, called for "net deforestation of zero" by 2020.

TelecoWork's 'Celebrate Green I.T.' at Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia -- A Green Success

The program included a Celebrate Green I.T. success story, presented by Joe Tait, CIO of NMS Labs in Willow Grove. Guests listened to Joe's story of how he "greened" his company and saw more success because of it! Following Joe Tait, attendees thrilled over the performance troupe Quiet Riot.

They took the audience on a 4 billion year joyride through the History of Oil, bringing us to our present twin challenges: Peak Oil & Climate Change. Quiet Riot uses comedy, storytelling, music, and sound effects to create expressive and meaningful events.

Looking Up

Renewable energy is taking off. The Global Renewable Energy Forum that took place recently in Leon, Mexico, only two months before the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, is recent evidence of its escalating momentum.

The event’s organizer, the Industrial Development Organization of the United Nations (UNIDO), “aspires to a world of opportunity where progress is equitable, accessible, and sustainable and where the alleviation of poverty is considered a common aim and global responsibility.” A large and perhaps impossible task, what with so many black swans on the horizon. (Climate change, peak oil, and world debt come to mind.)

Adopt green tech by 2014 to avert climate calamity

GREEN technologies can prevent catastrophic climate change, but only if we commit to them by 2014. Miss the deadline and we risk runaway global warming and economic meltdown.

That's the conclusion of a report published this week by the environment group WWF, which says green technologies will have to grow by 22 per cent each year for the next four decades. Such growth would be the "fastest industrial revolution witnessed in our history," says Kim Carstensen of WWF. The result would be a 63 per cent drop in emissions of key greenhouse gases between 1990 and 2050 - enough to prevent global warming exceeding the 2 °C limit agreed by the G8 industrial nations.

Biofuels could increase greenhouse gases: US studies

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US experts warn that rules governing biofuel production encourage deforestation and mean the technology is therefore a "false" method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In a study to be published Friday in the US journal Science, a group of 13 scientists called for the rules, which contain a loophole exempting carbon dioxide emitted by bioenergy regardless of its source, to be overturned.

"The error is serious, but readily fixable," said lead researcher Timothy Searchinger of Princeton University.

Satellites to help Kenyans insure against drought

OSLO (Reuters) - Satellites measuring the greenness of Kenya from space are set to help insure livestock herders against droughts and mitigate the effects of climate change, experts said on Friday.

Why the World Disagrees on Climate Change

Mike Hulme, a professor at the University of East Anglia School of Environmental Sciences in Britain and a veteran climate adviser, has climbed way above the global warming debate to decode the nature of discord over climate change in a new book: “Why We Disagree About Climate Change.”

Dogs 'as bad for global warming as an SUV'

According to Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living keeping a medium-sized dog has the same impact in the environment as driving a 4.6l Land Cruiser.

Betting the Farm

The ag lobby's response was simple and direct: They insisted that Waxman-Markey be changed to forbid federal agencies from considering indirect land-use changes when assessing the greenhouse gas footprint of ethanol. End of discussion.

The experts were agog. "This is not a close scientific call," wrote Michael O'Hare, a public policy professor at UC-Berkeley who's studied land-use issues extensively for the California Air Resources Board. "If we are willing to make stuff up and stifle the science with legislation like this, countries like India and China and the Europeans have no reason to get on board...It will be a catastrophe."

Japan may weaken CO2 target if no global pact

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan could weaken its target for a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 if all major emitters do not reach agreement on an ambitious global climate pact, the environment minister said on Friday.

Obama 'ought to do a lot more' on climate: Pachauri

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – US President Barack Obama should do more to push for a US climate deal, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Thursday.

"I personally feel he ought to be doing a lot more," Pachauri told reporters after a debate on climate change in Stockholm, adding the president "really has to assert himself to see that the US passes legislation" prior to the Copenhagen summit.

Poll: US belief in global warming is cooling

WASHINGTON – Americans seem to be cooling toward global warming.

Just 57 percent think there is solid evidence the world is getting warmer, down 20 points in just three years, a new poll says. And the share of people who believe pollution caused by humans is causing temperatures to rise has also taken a dip, even as the U.S. and world forums gear up for possible action against climate change.


STOCKHOLM — Shopping for oatmeal, Helena Bergstrom, 37, admitted that she was flummoxed by the label on the blue box reading, “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product.”

“Right now, I don’t know what this means,” said Ms. Bergstrom, a pharmaceutical company employee.

But if a new experiment here succeeds, she and millions of other Swedes will soon find out. New labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country.

Freakonomics without the facts

I thought I had read enough about Superfreakonomics and its horrifyingly ignorant chapter on climate change to prepare myself for the actual text. But nothing could prepare me for the assault on science, logic and the English language that is this excerpt.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner managed to pull together just over 43 pages on science they clearly don't understand, with contradictory assumptions, clichés and gimmicky analogies. The chapter reads like a student term paper, a compilation of various factoids accumulated over the semester but displaying no real grasp of the subject matter. The logical leaps between sentences and at times bizarre sentence structure make me wonder if they actually farmed this chapter out to an undergraduate.

Update: Warming continues to affect far north

WASHINGTON – Global warming is messing with the planet's thermostat.

That warning came Thursday from Richard Spinrad, head of research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in releasing the annual update of science's Arctic report card.

Warming temperatures continue in the polar north, changing wind patterns, melting sea ice and glaciers and affecting ocean and land life, the report said.

This is good. All aboard for doomsday!

There is a train moving across the countryside and we are all on board. Somewhere, ahead on the tracks is a bridge that ends in space where the tracks have been blown up long ago. If the train carries on moving, it will eventually plummet over the edge of the bridge and into space, condemning the occupants to death.
In the train analogy, peak oil is a hill in the countryside. After that hill has been passed, it is downhill all the way to the blown-out bridge.

Ron P.

Really good Ron. "Many of the occupants are unaware of this sure disaster coming up, but the influential passengers and the people in command of the train are fully aware of it. Yet no one is doing anything, except perhaps talk anxiously about it in hushed tones "

and further on:"How does one get this message out in time to save the train or the passengers? I certainly am no advocate of violence, but if history can be our lesson, sometimes the only way to change is to remove the drivers"

In the runup to becoming President, the Late Tim Russert of Meet the Press, asked Barak Obama whether US crude oil strategic reserves should be used to help bring down the high oil prices in 2008. Obama replied "no, because what do we do when crude oil prices increase to the point that gasoline is $8 per gallon."

I believe that President Obama is quite aware of the peaking oil situation, but contrary to your claim, he is also doing something about it. This year, the EPA along with NHTSA have proposed regulations that will realize most significant increase in CAFE standards, and the rate of increase is unprededented. He also stipulated that energy savings through better building insulation be an important part of the stimulus package that was passed earlier this year. He and Secretary Chu of DOE are working on ways to implement a Smart Grid. Finally, he has proposed that the Congress pass climate change legislation, which will create an incentive towards renewable technologies instead of fossil fuels.

Are these actions too late to ward off peak oil? Probably. But if we are moving faster towards ways to power our economy using renewable fuels and becoming less relient on petroleum, then the less hard the impact of Peak Oil will be.


Anything short of fundamental reform like imposing steep energy consumption taxes--bringing gasoline prices up to the same level as, or higher than, in Europe--combined with abolishing the Social Security + Medicare tax (with the energy consumption tax used to fund Social Security + Mediare + Electrified Rail) is basically nothing more than arguing about where the deck chairs look best on the Titanic.

We probably need to come up with some political equivalent to Malthus: Crises expand geometrically, while political responses to those crises only expand arithmetically.

Usa has to make itself more efficient before putting heavy taxes on energy usage. Its because in current situation usa needs three times energy than europe to get the same unit of gdp. Now subtract the gdp units that come due to fresh loan taking from abroad and that ratio rise further. The infrastructure of usa including placement of houses, car culture, absence of dependable railway etc means usa is fundamentally weak and can't handle europe-level taxes on energy. It would crush its economy even further.

It not means there should no increase in energy taxes. There should be, it would make people learn (though the hard way) to cut wastes. TVs and computers need to be off before leaving the house, car engines need be shut down in long traffic jams and so on. Still a europe-level taxes would be unbearable to american economy.

I suspect that the US will become progressively free from foreign sources of oil--but perhaps not in the way that most people anticipated.

Of course. The free market will "solve" everything.

"The good news if the fire is out, the bad news is that it was put out by the flooding."

Well it certainly looks like George Bush was aware of Peak Oil during his term. Kjell Aleklett was advising the White House when he coined the term "Americans are addicted to oil" three month before George Bush uttered those memorable words. I would assume that Obama is also aware of Peak Oil and its implications.

Global Energy Resources: The Peak Oil View

Ofcourse bush was aware of peak oil. He was an oil man and brought up in texas. He can't prevent not knowing it even if he tried. He invaded Iraq for oil. It was not to kill a dictator. Saddam Hussain was not the only dictator at the time. If you keep emotions aside and look at data you have to salute Saddam Hussain for ruling Iraq that efficiently, with so little killings and so little taxes and to bring stability. Don't forget Iraq is a combination of three groups of people who are enemies of each other: arab sunnis, shias and kurd sunnis. Though both arabs and kurds are sunnis they hate each other. Kurds were almost independent even at time of Saddam Hussain, they had their own army, their own revenues and baghdad had little to no control in kurd area. If Saddam Hussain has killed 20,000 of his people in his 25 years reign (1978 - 2003) that is microscopic as compared to over 3 million iraqis that americans had killed and martyred in just 4 years (2007 when the report about 3 million came from a british source).

That leaves Afghanistan. People argue that if the war is about oil then why did bush invaded Afghanistan. Some people say that bush had to attack Afghanistan because Al Qaida had nothing to do with Iraq and did had base in Afghanistan. Afghanistan also has capacity to produce opium that can be converted by western scientists into much higher level substances like heroine. Don't forget that 95% of the world's opium production used to came from Afghanistan alone before 1996 when Afghanistan was near its full capacity of production of opium. Also not forget that heroine trade is the third largest industry in world, just after weapons and energy. Also not forget that taliban as soon as they captured 95% of Afghanistan banned all production and trade of opium.

Getting 95% source of opium would infact result in more money that all the oil of Iraq can bring. Look at the numbers. Ofcourse america got defeated in both countries and now is at retreat, its military is outsourcing the war (both logistics and actual fighting) to private contractors (for eg black water) and is taking over the usa.

Remember the good old days, pre-election? "Barack Obama’s top priority if elected president is to launch an Apollo-style national project to build a new, clean energy economy. That’s what he told Time magazine reporter Joe Klein last week."


Where is this "top priority" today? Is it in the top 10? Obama's problem isn't "knowing" or maybe even "trying", it's a failure to prioritize. Are we legislating new banking rules, or saving the environment, or raising fuel economy, or fighting a war or two, or fixing unemployment, or solving healthcare? He risks accomplishing nothing by attempting everything.

I find the mileage legislation a joke, though it's better than the last administration managed. There are multiple (many) models on the market TODAY that would meet the goal of 35mpg set for years in the future. Many are above-average quality and affordable, and some are even American made. If we were serious, it'd be 40mpg in 2012, with a gas tax to nudge people along. Add an increased personal tax exemption equal to about 10K miles @ 40mpg to keep it from being too regressive.

Where is this "top priority" today?

Got lost while he implemented his *other* top priorities, like "blank-check bailout for Wall Street", and "appoint as many Goldman Sachs executives to Treasury as possible".

It certainly is possible to set a more aggressive fuel economy standard than what was proposed, but to get to 40 mpg by 2012 is an impossible target to meet (the 2012 production year is only two years away, and production begins in 1 1/2 years!). The automobile factories need time retool their manufacturing facilities. Also, each company has only a few models that can achieve a high fuel economy, but to offer a full line of vehicles that meet a higher fuel economy will take time. Many vehicles for commercial use are larger vehicles and these need to be redesigned to achieve higher fuel economy.

Keep in mind that what you are expecting our elected officials to do is put in place policies that assume that peak oil has already occurred or will occur in a year or two and therefore they need to declare what would essentially be a "state of emergency." However, there are many high paid, well-educated individuals who are saying that there is sufficient amount of oil for many years to come. If the elected officials did this, they would be seen as reckless and, in the case of the US, the "other party" would regain power and these proactive policies and steps, as weak as they are, would simply go away. This is because the "other party" does not care about climate change and climate change is a well known problem that the public can support so that strategies that address climate change (which benefit the peak oil issue) can garner support.

Even many of us who visit this Webpage are not 100% sure that peak oil has occurred or will occur within a few years. That is why Matt Simmons keeps saying that we need a much more robust crude oil accounting strategy so that we can better estimate when peak oil will occur with a lot more accuracy. If we are on a peak oil plateau, it is possible that we will be on this plateau (probably an undulating plateau like what we experience over the last year) for 10 years before a decline would set in.


Very cute Ron. All I might add is that the train has already passed it's minimum braking distance. Maybe if we hit the brakes very fast and very hard right now maybe we can save the last few cars of the train from going over the edge. Then again, even if we did the unimaginable, those leading cars might just pull the rest of us over with them when they fall.


I think more likely, the wealthy and influential passengers know where the train is headed and have secretly congregated in the bar car at the end of the train and are about to decouple it from the rest of the train well before the whole thing goes over the edge.

However, the bar car will be left stranded on the tracks and subject to the predations of roving bands of cannibalistic marauders. So, these smarties didn't prevent, but merely delayed, their own demise.

(Hey, with a little polishing maybe I could work this into a B-movie script.)

I think more likely, the wealthy and influential passengers know where the train is headed and have secretly congregated in the bar car at the end of the train and are about to decouple it from the rest of the train well before the whole thing goes over the edge.

Joule, I assume you are joking. In my opinion it would be a serious mistake to assume that some people, just because of their wealth or position, are aware of the serious train wreck the world is headed for. There might be a few oil executives who are aware of peak oil but what they fear is that something else will replace oil before they can sell it all. Even they do not believe that dramatically declining oil resources will wreck the world economy.

But as far as the rest of the world's movers and shakers go, they haven't a clue. They believe Saudi Arabia when they tell the world that they have 264 billion barrels of proven reserves and probably another half a trillion barrels of undiscovered reserves. They believe that even if oil production does decline dramatically in the coming decade that this will not be a very serious problem. They believe that we will just switch over to "something else" and continue business as usual. They believe that the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones and therefore the oil age will not end because we will run out of oil.

To gain wealth and power one must have tunnel vision. That is, they must concentrate on their job and everyone and everything that affects their climb to wealth and power. That does not include geology, or depleting world resources.

We should not expect the world's movers and shakers to pay one bit of attention to us, the Chicken Littles of this world? We are on the fringe and will continue to be on the fringe until peak oil is so glaringly obvious that only the fringe of the cornucopians can ignore it. Then the movers and shakers will only see peak oil as an opportunity to make more money and gain more power. Well, that will be their position until reality bitch slaps them in the face.

Ron P.

In the current system, wealth and power are a reflection of being sociopathic, combined with luck, and social status.
Knowledge is a liability, as it gets in the way of action and accumulation.

We surely do not want to look in the mirror and see our own sociopathic tendencies. Even if we do we tend to do everything we can to hide them. Only within the position of absolute power can a person acknowledge and flout this.

Unless we learn to acknowledge and control our sociopathic tendencies we are all on the train ride over the cliff.

"The line separating good and evil passes
not through states, nor between political
parties either - but right
through every human heart."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I suspect you're both right, and that there are folks in the know who are congregating in the bar car, but it's up front by the engine and is supposed to deploy wings and micro-jets at the last minute, after the last of the profits have been scooped up...

Of course, any analogy can only be stretched just so far. I think there is a cliff, and maybe a downhill run leading up to it.. but also that there are numerous trains heading in that direction on many different tracks, some lashed across to other trains (economic, energy and technological dependencies), but from which some should be able to find ways to detach and find a different fate, if their regions, countries, customs or expectations leave them with enough wiggle-room to adapt and adjust. (Hit the Brakes, turn onto a side-route, or jump out windows...)

I don't have any confidence in 'All or Nothing' predictions. It's never black and white, and a great many international, economic and geopolitical bonds will snap before everyone is drawn over this cliff.

Some Rats do learn to swim.

To gain wealth and power one must have tunnel vision. That is, they must concentrate on their job and everyone and everything that affects their climb to wealth and power. That does not include geology, or depleting world resources.

We should not expect the world's movers and shakers to pay one bit of attention to us, the Chicken Littles of this world? We are on the fringe and will continue to be on the fringe until peak oil is so glaringly obvious that only the fringe of the cornucopians can ignore it.

that is an uncanny paraphrasing of Socrates parable about the 'true pilot'. good to see you've read your Plato.
I agree that history is linear and cumulative and there is no precedent for PO but often these dialogues about power are arguments that would have been familiar to citizens of 2500 years ago.

No need to stop hyperextending our analogies just yet -
The world in which I work is self-similar on all scales, and those at the top of the heap are the winners in earlier games that took many smaller trains off many other cliffs before.

These guys did indeed deploy their wings and microjets at the last moment, equipage that they bought by skimming the take off the working stiffs. Remember Lou Pai, the Enron guy who became the 2nd largest landowner in Colorado, married his stripper girlfriend, and never faced any charges? Talk about a miracle last-minute deployment of life-saving technology!

At my last regular job, a "seagull manager" wiped out a respected worldwide brand, cost his parent corporation hundreds of millions of USD over a five-year period, and disbanded an irreplaceable team of technical experts. He retired in full glory last year. Now my bride is witnessing the same passion play at her workplace: pure Type One management, where those asking questions are branded as disloyal, and therefore unworthy of being heard. There is zero chance that this public corporation for which she works will survive its costcutting-cum-seppuku and be viable in a few years. The leadership can't afford to take on those kinds of long-term worries, or they'll be gone in no time, victims of their own culture of insider politics and bottom-line window-dressing.

The smartest guys in the Enron room attracted too much negative attention and had to be replaced by a new crop, but it matters not. As Chomsky observes, by the time you make it into those inner circles of the upper echelons, you've become so inculcated with the global corporatist values that there is no other path, no Plan B, and no way to even pose the question without admitting treason.

So y'all can claim that "we" will somehow rescue enough of ourselves and our system to go on indefinitely, but when the time comes, you'll inevitably be shed too, as an ever-shrinking circle of winners scuffles with the crowd over the remaining seats on the last flight out of Saigon.

Darwinian -

Yes, I was joking and playing around a bit with the train headed over the edge metaphor. (Come on, do I need to insert a Sarcanol alert when I talk about roving bands of cannibalistic marauders?) However, I was only half joking.

The extremely wealthy and influential may not be fully aware of all the particulars re peak oil and other resource problems, but I think there is an underlying ill-defined sense that things aren't quite right and that it's time to look after one's own arse. Time to cash out. That's why they are strip-mining the economy for all it's worth, while there is still an economy left to strip mine.

I think it is also part of a trend over the three or four decades for the elite to increasingly disengage from any pretense of being concerned over the common good or of having any sense of social responsibility. Having an all-volunteer military and mercenary contractors do all the dirty work makes tough foreign policy choices no longer a matter of life and death for either them or their families.

So as long as they have a secure seat in this game of global musical chairs, they don't seem to care much about how bad things get for the masses, other than to ensure that they don't get too rowdy and unpleasant. (Hence some of these Club FEMA resorts springing up in places like Montana and Utah?)

Hey, with a little polishing maybe I could work this into a B-movie script.

It's already been done: The Mad Max series.


It may or may not be too late to prevent the crash, or the crash might be a less than absolute disater derailment before the traing plunges into the chasm-this last imo being more likely over the next few decades than a total wipeout.

The real problem is that there are many people who could halt the train-but all of them know that rather than being rewarded they will be fired and blackballed for showing up thier superiors,who in the short term can deny that the wreck would have happened.

Messengers tend to get shot careerwise in this society these days,except for the few who can earn a living doing something outside thier old profession.

Not many economists can pull a Jeff Rubin and make a living writing books and lecturing.

mac -- I would like to think there's time to prevent a serious crash. But my simplistic view of the world's ever increasing demand for energy and my very intimate knowledge of the oil industry's inability to supply that demand makes me very pessimistic.


I'm rather pesimistic myself but I am somewhat hopeful that things will fall apart gradually and that some serious mitigation measures will still be possible when it becomes obvious that tsis in tf.

We might just skinny by without having to many dead bodies and burned out ciities if things work out that way.

If the energy train goes into the chasm in such a way as it takes the rest of the economy with it I can't see any other result other than war and anarchy.

A slow crash has possibilities.

Sometimes I feel like we all spend too much time here and need a little break-maybe we are a little too pessimistic-maybe we are a little tougher and more resilient than we know.

Maybe between technical advances in renewables and a crippled economy there will be no killer energy crunch for ten more years and by then maybe we can hobble along building out better renewable infrastructure faster than seems possible today.

I could for instance see the average person giving up a car and spending the money on energy efficiency and conservation around his or her home five or ten years from now.

I could see good samaratin laws passed that relieve auto owners /drivers of liability in the event of having an accident while carpooling.

I can see laws passed that grant some sort of tax advantage or premium to landlords who lease to tenants who live have jobs close to the rental property.

Local boards organized somewhat along the lines the draft boards of days gone by that make sure local businesses adopt energy saving practices such as a four day week and organize the schools and other infrastructure to accomodate the four day week.

The legalization of individual single bus bus lines-there is no reason why a guy who lives in a small town and commutes to a nearby larger one shouldn't take along twenty or hirty riders rather than three or four.

Changes in zoning laws that enable some homes and vacant buildings to be converted into local walkable or bikeable businesses such as barbershops and service providers-there is no real reason a plumber should have to drive a car to his shop to get his plumbing truck when he could run his shop out of his two car garage.

McMansions can be remoeled into fairly energy efficient residences by installing some extra doors and ductwork and closing off the unused spaces.

Some renewable energy upgrades such as solar ot water are already cost effective if integrated into a new building as opposed to addding the system later, which is invariably much more expensive.

Building codes can require self extinguishing lights.

Computers can be mandated to turn themselves off if keys are not pressed before a given time passes.

There must be hundreds of other things that can easily be done that will take the edge off of depleting energy supply problems-things that can be done once the need is obvious to everybody that can't be done now due to lack of popular support.

I'm sure you people have read as many Stalag stories as I have, All of the theme that if you put a bunch of guys in a tough situation they come up with amazing things to make do out of whatever is at hand- as well as organizations that get things done.

I believe that is true of people in general, not just shot-down airmen. I know a lot of them.

Another thing- the amount of waste here (USA) is beyond belief. I for example could live my remaining hours quite well with not one other purchase of ANY kind of clothing, or for that matter, any kind of car. And I never need another banana, or orange, or any other food that isn't right here, as long as the people here don't panic- and if the people in the city don't get this far (very big if).

So, I am thinking the big crash is coming, and I am thinking lots of people will get thru it- and a huge number more will not. So- what's new?

I could for instance see the average person giving up a car and spending the money on energy efficiency and conservation around his or her home five or ten years from now.

Thats the veritable horseshoe on the kings horse. The problem is its the other way around even I would easily give up my house before my car.

Its pretty much a no brainer houses for simple shelter are trivial to obtain. Your mixing vanity housing with shelter.

Given its the other way around the outcome is obvious. Now if we had kept shelter affordable i.e 40% down and zero inflation then yes I'd agree I'd have to much invested but these days the people that actually work generally either rent or have zero or negative equity only the older generations actually own their shelter or close to it and they in general are nearing the end of their work life.

30% of homes are owned outright stat which is never published is the average age of this the owners of this 30%.

Well we can figure it out.


about 110 million homes so 30% of this is 330,000 homes.

Age distro in the US.


For the US 65+ is 14.4% the population is 300,000 so 42,000

Now on digging I found this tibit.


Maybe we're just pessimistic, but the number was higher than we expected. According to a 2001 study by the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), "nearly 40 percent of all residential properties in the United States, owner-occupied and rental units, are not mortgaged but are owned free and clear." For a country so often criticized for its debt, that's not a bad figure.

Wait no way is if this is true is 33% owner occupied. A bit of thought and its far more sensible to assume that the so call 30% owner occupied is really just a bad estimate on the total owned outright. Obviously rental tend to be owned outright but lets not go there just yet.

Now we are at a quandry.


This shows 320,000 homes for rent. Lets just assume ownership follows the trend thus thus of the fully paid off houses about 100k are for rent.

So of my 300,000 homes 100k are certainly paid off rentals leaving 200k of the 200k about 50k are primary dwelling of this 65+ leaving

In a population of 300,000 million 5% make over 200k so 150,000 make big bucks many of course have mortgages or or over 65 but lets not half off the 150,000k for the rich. leaving a wopping 75k homes owned by people that are not old and not rich.
Thats 6% of homes if we include gains via inheritance that wipes out most of this.

In short no one working has much invested in housing and when its a choice of transportation to work or the house the house loses.

Even if I made mistakes in my guesses no matter what when push comes to shove the car wins big over the house.

I intended to communicate the average person giving up one car out of the two or three commonly found in American driveways.

And so long as the folks in a house have enough money, the investments in home upgades make sense regardless of the mortgage situation if they plan on staying put.
If a house is sold for a song out of foreclosure the new owner more than likely can afford some gradual upgrades-maybe a lot of them.
My guess is that one hell of a lot of these upside down mortgages will get right side up again due to intentional inflation of the currency much faster than most people would guess.

Even the owner of a rental who is a good manager will make such energy investments as can be recovered by increasing his rents or securing better tenants.

You are off by several orders of magnitude.
You said: about 110 million homes so 30% of this is 330,000 homes. .
30% of 110 million homes is 33 million homes!

You said: In a population of 300,000 million 5% make over 200k so 150,000 make big bucks
5% of 300 million is 15 million !!

mac -- I think your point about times lines is the critical (and generally unpredictable IMO) factor that will determine how bad it gets. My continued pessimism is my lack of confidence we'll begin reacting positively in sufficient time. I have no confidence the American people can do this on their own. They require strong and decisive political leadeship to make those changes. And I've seen no indication of such leadership coming from out two-party system. In fact, IMO, I don't know that I've seen such low potential for such leadership in my life time.

So damn gloomy on a nice sunny Sunday morning in Texas. Sorry about that.

i agree ofm. there will be significant discomfort but there's a huge range of possibility. all this talk of trains running off cliffs suggests a failure of imagination in the guise of realism.

when confronted with discomfort (and the expectation of future discomfort) the People and the government will raise the urgency of change, energy conservation, etc. people will begin to move closer to work. biking will become more common. patterns will shift, but changes in behavior take time. government will have the opportunity to support those changes. all that's necessary is time, to allow the changes to happen in a peaceful way.

last weekend a speech was posted: the speech obama needs to give. but perhaps obama gave the speech he needed to give at mit last week. he talked past the notion that we can stay 'addicted to fossil fuels.' He said: "There may be plenty of room for debate as to how we transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels -- we all understand there's no silver bullet to do it. There's going to be a lot of debate about how we move from an economy that's importing oil to one that's exporting clean energy technology; how we harness the innovative potential on display here at MIT to create millions of new jobs; and how we will lead the world to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. There are going to be all sorts of debates, both in the laboratory and on Capitol Hill. But there's no question that we must do all these things. ... The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet."

a couple weeks ago, you argued that jobs were a major concern...

As I see it the biggest problem, really, is the employment problem. We can solve our transpoprt problems and our heating and lighting problems and keep the food coming too - by simply doing what's necessary. (from http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5853)

i've been thinking about that more. over the past 100 years, machine labor (due to cheap oil) has displaced human labor - on the farm and in the factory. so if machine labor gets more expensive (due to expensive oil), human labor will more attractive. this would suggest more workers will be necessary - a lot more - not less.

the only reason industrial farming as a business strategy works is cheap oil. ignoring fertilizers, pesticides, oil-powered farm equipment, and so on, cheap oil allows the farmer to transport all produce nationwide from one central production facility. if oil got more expensive, the biggest farm might be able to make a ton of food, but it wouldn't be able to ship it to market. regionalization and localization would make better sense, and that means more workers working at more farms. think past the farm example, and i think you'll see there will need to be more factories and more workers in an expensive-oil future.

i'm under no illusion that all the new jobs will be good jobs, and i'm under no illusion that they will support a way of life to which most americans have become accustomed, but i don't think employment will be a problem in the medium term - once businesses adapt to oil that stays at $147 per barrel. there will be *so* much more work to do... but again, it will take time to transition, and that transition is likely to be rather convulsive.

I don't know the timing of the story, but if it were in 1998, I would not be able to afford a ticket and would not be onboard. Likely an option at several points in the future as well.

Does this mean that, indeed, the meek will inherit the earth - even if it has been ruined and is worthless? I don't recall when that was supposed to happen.

Had a conversation the other day with someone who claimed that you had a bigger selection of locations to live if you had Canadian citizenship than if you had US citizenship.

He said that with Canadian citizenship one could live in anywhere in the British sphere (UK, Ireland, Bermuda, Canada, etc).

I doubted that, and noted that with US citizenship you could live in the US, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc.

Does anybody here know the facts? Where all is a Canadian citizen free to reside? Where all is a US citizen free to reside? (without emigrating, visas, or any of that other annoying paperwork)

Don't know about the rest but Porto Ricans are US citizens and as far as I know US citizens can live in Port Rico.

BTW OT but speaking of Porto Rico...

Puerto Rico explosion

An explosion at a gasoline facility rattled Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan this morning. No injuries or deaths were reported, but authorities fear more gasoline tanks could explode.

For a fun read on this sort of question, check out "Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life" by Neil Strauss. He suggests that dual citizenship in the Caribbean is the way to go (and follows through with the associated issues and tasks)

I assume when you say "live" you mean "live and earn a living locally"? I'm pretty sure, although can't find a definitive reference, that you any non-EU citizen needs a work visa to be (legally) employed in the UK.

Yep to both points.

It depends what you mean by "free to reside".. it's relatively easy for a Canadian to travel within the Commonwealth but Canadians don't automatically have right of abode in the UK unless you were born before 1983 and meet certain descent requirements. I'm reasonably certain that if you applied for Canadian citizenship now and then tried to move to the UK later you'd still have to go through the process of becoming a UK citizen in order to obtain unrestricted right of abode.

To expand a little on this, here are maps of visa-free entry for Canadian and US passport holders (they're essentially identical):

Also of note, a Canadian passport is no longer quite as useful or widely respected as it once was- in addition to being one of the world's most widely counterfeitted, the government has repeatedly shown that it is no longer willing to go to bat for (non-white or non-politically connected) individuals in trouble overseas over the last few years. I believe this is largely due to the merging of the departments of foreign affairs and international trade into DFAIT. Of course, the trade creeps took over (no one could have seen that coming..) and the primary consideration is always trade relationships rather than protecting citizens.

As far as coming and living in the UK, don't bother about getting a visa - no one else does. We have an absurdly lax attitude to immigration.

Having said that, anyone who wants to come and live in Britain needs their head examined. Most sane people in the UK can see that this country is fast becoming a laughing stock. If I had the money I would leave tomorrow. The UK is a rotten corpse. And the office of national statistics has just reported that our population is set to increase to 72 million by 2030. And how exactly are we going to house the extra 10 million people? How are we going to educate their children? How are we going to feed them and give them clean water? How are we going to treat their sewage? How are we going to provide enough roads and trains to move them about? Where are all the jobs going to come from - there is chronic unemployment at the moment?

The UK is clinically insane. We are net importers of 45% of our calories already. We are set to import 75% of our energy in under 10 years at current population levels. We will need to build millions more houses and roads decreasing the amount of farm land available at the same time as increasing the number of mouths to feed, so having to buy in even more food from overseas with an ever weakening pound and ever decreasing amounts of North Sea oil and gas. We have no uranium, less and less oil and gas, no iron ore, no bauxite, no natural resources at all and we are so idiotic to be so absurdly dumb as to think we can accommodate a further 10 million people!! Most of whom will settle in the south east and London.

And all the while the spineless, corrupt, expense-fiddling career politicians have only one goal - to return the country to 'growth' and consumption. AND NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT PEAK OIL!! THEY ARE MORONIC PLONKERS IF THEY THINK WE ARE IN GOOD SHAPE.

No, if you are a Canadian I would stay put. Don't bother coming here - this country is a joke.

Just as a purely factual point: there are a huge number of migrant workers who do not (and many could not) obtain work visas who work illegally in low paid occupations (cleaners, laborers, etc). (I'm not saying that we have a sustainable level of low-paid illegal migrants, just pointing out that extrapolating from that sector to all migrant workers is incorrect.) It is very rare for someone who will be working in almost any higher paid occupation employers need to file appropriate paperwork. I realise that this was an "emotional tone" post, but putting in correct facts occasionally helps understand things.

Just as a purely factual point: there are a huge number of migrant workers who do not (and many could not) obtain work visas who work illegally in low paid occupations (cleaners, laborers, etc). (I'm not saying that we have a sustainable level of low-paid illegal migrants, just pointing out that extrapolating from that sector to all migrant workers is incorrect.) It is very rare for someone who will be working in almost any higher paid occupation employers need to file appropriate paperwork. I realise that this was an "emotional tone" post, but putting in correct facts occasionally helps understand things.

Sorry, don't understand what you are trying to say. It is less the paper-work, it is the number of people. I am acutely aware that very many lowly jobs would not be done by 'us' and that we do rely to a certain extent on the immigrant workers. My beef isn't a 'them and us' attitude (as espoused by Mr Griffin) it is about the numbers. I just heard yet another dumb-a'sed politician say that we need constant immigration to help 'grow the economy' so that we can afford to pay pensions to the old folk. Does he expect that the immigrants will just disappear into thin air when they retire? Do these plonkers think we are all dumb? Arrogantly living the high life with their golden pensions and second homes unable to speak the truth and confront reality. That is why Mr Griffin's party had one million people vote for it. The main parties are only in it for the pay and perks. They haven't got the balls to actually confront the situation and deal with it.

The UK is a basket case.

A lot of the immigrants in recent years have been quite legal economic migrants from eastern Europe. If the UK is such an economic basket case they will simply vote with their feet and leave again. A lot of the recent illegal immigrants are from Iraq and Afghanistan who come expecting to receive political asylum, on the not unreasonable terms that they are very likely to be killed if they stay at home, and they have this strange idea that we might take pity on them because we started the wars that are killing them. We (try to) kick almost all of them out again.

I think we import 40% of our food by value. We over produce low value (per calorie) food like cereals and import lots of fruit, vegetables and 'exotics'. I think we could come close to food independance if we were given a few years warning. In my experience farmers are very much more aware than average about the energy implications of ffod production.

We are at a record UK population, but I don't see people starving in the streets any time soon.

Now that was an excellent rant. Bravo!

And all the while the spineless, corrupt, expense-fiddling career politicians have only one goal - to return the country to 'growth' and consumption. AND NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT PEAK OIL!! THEY ARE MORONIC PLONKERS IF THEY THINK WE ARE IN GOOD SHAPE.

It is quite applicable here in the US also so don't feel like the Lone Ranger.

We decided to kind of bow out of this mess, thank you. Jump the train so to speak. Read Sharon Astyk “A Nation of Farmers” and her new book “Independence Days”. I had never gardened before but last year I decided it was time to learn. Here in the high desert the soil is terrible but with enough sheep manure, humus and peat moss, the soil is looking pretty good now in the raised beds. Our crops turned out OK but with a lot of learning yet to go to optimize the soil, crop and amount of work. When computing the amount of food required just to exist without the JIT supplied supermarket, it is a sobering shock. So though we have started to bow out, it will be awhile before we are mostly food independent.

YakYak Yaking, on the internet about what the world should do doesn’t hack it if you are serious about your survival. You gotta get off your ars, get to thinking about what you will need and get busy making it happen. Even if you have the absolute best plan how to save the world, where to settle, etc. you will starve soon after TSHTF unless you do something about it. Check with Todd and a couple others that are further along than we are.

Do a reality check, apply what you know from TOD (& other sites) and see what comes to mind.

Canada is probably one of the the best places in the world to be, post peak. Excluding the small problem of our southern neighbor.

As soon as we can get back to cutting taxes again, we will be OK. You know, spend and don't tax?

I put together an interesting model of human mobility patterns here:

This seems to match the observed trends precisely. A couple of recent papers in the science journal Nature have seriously looked into the phenomena, aided primarily from new sources of public data.

1. "The scaling laws of human travel", D. Brockmann, L. Hufnagel & T. Geisel, Nature, Vol 439|26, 2006.
2. "Understanding individual human mobility patterns", Marta C. González, César A. Hidalgo & Albert-László Barabási, Nature 453, 779-782 (5 June 2008)

I am working on a verification from data in the second paper. The concept is really quite simple, aa I use the maximum entropy principle on human velocities on different scales:

Entropy always wins out on these phenomena and it really tells us how (in the sense of having no additional information, i.e. a Jaynesian model of entropy) people will statistically use different forms of transportation. It can also be used to potentially explain how epidemics can propagate.

What is interesting is how the researchers in the field seem to flail about trying to explain the data with non-intuitive heuristics and obscure random walk models. In the figure above, the researchers almost got the function right by doing a blind curve fit, but ultimately could not explain it.

I am sure empirical historical data would be hard to come by, but it would be very interesting to see how the relative "cost" or "availability" of energy might affect travel.

I wonder how well it project to even further extremes -- say to the space station or to the moon?

I would think that any narrowing of this pattern would imply constraints being applied to the system, such as people not being allowed to travel as freely or quickly or as far as they would before.

Moon? It would probably apply to the space station if they have email or cell phones up there. The probability would be at 10e-13 with very poor statistics.

thanks for the questions!

re : Freakonomics

I really do despise the Freakonomics duo. What they are doing is obviously just working a money-making scheme; they essentially milk their "science of statistics" shtick for all it is worth, but no longer do any kind of independent research. At one time, they may have come up with one or two nuggets but they obviously have come up completely dry on this latest book. They no longer care that what they do has any basis in science. Like Madonna, they just want to shock and provoke (and thereby sell copy).

Besides, Levitt and Dubner are economists.

Does that explain it?

BTW, Freakonomics also does not believe in Peak Oil. If anyone forgot, they compare the phenomena to shark attacks.

I have found Freakonomics an interesting read; it shows the way to some serious out-of-the-box thinking. I don't care if they "get" PO or CC, that's their problem, not mine. Just take note one is an economist (not a hard science), the other a journalist (no science). Suffice it to say I'm not going to waste money on their new book.

They were overly simplistic and simply got some things wrong in their first book, so it is little surprise that they have screwed up even more with the sequel.

For example, in their first book they came up with this breathless, shocking conclusion that real estate agents hold out for more money for their own houses than their selling clients end up doing. This is supposed to reveal what terrible people real estate agents are. Some (maybe even many) of them indeed are terrible people, but mostly for different reasons than that. Levitt and Dubner did not bother to research their subject sufficiently enough to reveal the little fact that real estate agents don't tend to relocate to other cities at anything like the same frequency that other people do. (How could they, that means starting over from scratch?) Thus, they are less likely to really have to sell and more likely that their moves are local and discretionary; they thus have the luxury of being more picky and of holding out for a better offer. That does make a huge, critical difference, but Levitt and Dubner missed it completely. Any competent researcher that actually took the time to do the work of interviewing a good representative cross-section of people in the real estate industry would have quickly discovered this relevant factor; they didn't do the work, so they were oblivious of it. They even refused to acknowledge their numerous errors afterwards when they were pointed out to them. Their minds were already made up, they couldn't be bothered with the facts.

I really don't have a very high opinion of those two.

What I usually do is look for problems that include words like "anomalous". "enigmatic", or "ambivalent". If you find these, then people in general don't understand the statistics and it is worth looking into as a research topic. Yet, instead Levitt and Dubner make the mistake of trying to explain basic behavior that people have a good handle on and then trying to finesse the interpretation. This is really asking for trouble as the cause and effects could be all over the map and it ultimately could end up being very subjective, as your real-estate example demonstrates.

So they are playing on subjectivity to argue things any way they want. I have said that the Freakonomics together together add up to a John Stoessel w/o a TV show, which is quite a dig at their talents.

Their chasing book sales is irresponsible in that they sow confusion, intentionally or not.

Today the Portland OR TV station KATU has an online poll: "Do you believe there is strong scientific evidence that the Earth has gotten warmer?"
Results: exactly 50-50 at the moment.

As if you can vote on science! Imagine the implications: "Should the mass of the hydrogen atom be set equal to 1 AMU? Y/N?"


Or as Krugman is fond of saying of our media headlines: "The Shape of the Earth: Views Differ."

Or see the bottom of this thread on knee-jerk scientific understanding

From "Betting the Farm", up top:

It turns out that this isn't true if you take into account the land-use changes that accompany ethanol production: The corn grown for ethanol displaces feed corn, which displaces soybean crops, which causes Brazilian farmers 6,000 miles away to make up the difference by growing more soybeans on their pastureland. This in turn displaces their cattle to new pastures created by clearcutting the rainforest, thus wiping out all of ethanol's carbon benefits. The net effect, the EPA's scientists have concluded, is that ethanol's real carbon footprint is about the same as gasoline's—or even worse.

This is pure conjecture. There have been no scientific peer reviewable studies that show this. And the EPA "scientists" have concluded no such thing. This hypothesis originated with the California Air Resources Board without any scientific back up that can show data and relationships to green house gases that demonstrate this conclusion. The EPA blundered in following the CARB into this tar pit. It is nothing but a thought experiment to justify anti ethanol bias of California.

If it were true, it follows that any land that is removed from corn production would increase green house gas emissions. For example, if corn land is put into to the conservation reserve, green house gases would increase as Brazilian farmers burn more forests. Or if roads are built through corn fields to put up wind turbines as is happening here in North Iowa, green house gases are being increased. Any land removed from corn for such things as new houses or other construction would increase green house gases accordingly.

The Indirect Land Use Change theory is preposterous on its face and has no scientific evidence to back it up.

You have been posting some interesting and informative comments recently but the corn farmer roots of your hair are starting to show gain-time for another tint job.

I must agree that quantifying the amount of land cleared in South America and correlating that with ethanol production here is a tricky and possibly as yet unproven hypothesis-but there is no doubt-can be no doubt-that as corn prices rise here and bean land is converted by the millions of acres to corn...the logic holds nicely.

Your argument will not hold water in a world where food is a commodity that is easily shipped anywhere.

If the price of soybeans shoots thru the roof for some reason you will become a bean farmer, yes?
My nieghbors are growing potatos for market again-something that has not been done here for many years.

If you were on the other side in this argument you would very quickly agree unless I am badly mistaken.

I've been wrong lots of times .;)

Your claim that there's no peer reviewed science to support the indirect land use is a bit out of date. Just today, SCIENCE mag offered a perspective with 13 authors which discussed the question regarding plans to limit CO2 emissions. There are several peer reviewed reports referenced for background. It's available online now for subscribers, but I suppose you will need to wait until the mails deliver today's issue to your local library.

Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error
Timothy D. Searchinger, Steven P. Hamburg, Jerry Melillo, William Chameides, Petr Havlik, Daniel M. Kammen, Gene E. Likens, Ruben N. Lubowski, Michael Obersteiner, Michael Oppenheimer, G. Philip Robertson, William H. Schlesinger, G. David Tilman

The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbon limits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals (1). It does not count CO2 emitted from tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used, but it also does not count changes in emissions from land use when biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accounting erroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardless of the source of the biomass, which may cause large differences in net emissions. For example, the clearing of long-established forests to burn wood or to grow energy crops is counted as a 100% reduction in energy emissions despite causing large releases of carbon.

Science 23 October 2009:
Vol. 326. no. 5952, pp. 527 - 528
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178797

E. Swanson

Obama's popularity is plummeting-the article trys to tie it into Dick Cheney but IMO his advisers are losing touch with the mood of the public-this isn't the time to be going campaigning for Goldman in NJ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/6...

A Canadian news program last night suggested a possible link between the decline in Obama's popularity, the rise in ratings at Fox, and the feud between Obama and Fox. The reporter quoted Mark Twain: "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel."

RE: US Land of the Setting Sun topside:

I think that oil is being produced constantly by natural processes in the earth, but not at a rate necessary to sustain present oil consumption. So peak oil does exist because consumption is at a much higher rate than creation.

I suppose that this is technically correct. There is nothing about the geological processes that previously created the large deposits we are presently exploiting that precludes the possibility of their still be active today. I would not be surprised if there are a few little places underground where buried organic remains are slowly cooking away and making a little more oil. And he is also right: we may be talking about one or two barrels of new oil per day at most, and quite possibly considerably less than that. Over tens of millions of years that may add up to quite a lot, but we don't have tens of millions of years to wait.

It is quite easy calculate a ballpark figure for the 'renewable' rate of oil consumption.

If we assume about 2 trillion barrels of oil were deposited over 100 million years, and these are divided between 6 billion inhabitants who live for an average of sixty years, the renewable rate of crude oil consumption is about one cup per person per lifetime.

It might be one gallon or one thimbleful, but you get the idea.

It is quite easy calculate a ballpark figure for the 'renewable' rate of oil consumption.

If we assume about 2 trillion barrels of oil were deposited over 100 million years, and these are divided between 6 billion inhabitants who live for an average of sixty years, the renewable rate of crude oil consumption is about one cup per person per lifetime.

I suspect it is lot higher than that. The reason for thinking that is that only the oil that has been trapped has stuck around. There must have been a lot more oil created and lost during your hypothetical 100MY time span, than had been trapped by special geological conditions. Of course the ability to tap the stuff that wouldn't otherwise be trapped may not exist. And I think there were some very special conditions during the Pennsyvanian (or whenever it was) that buried huge amounts of aquatic veggies that probably aren't happening anywhere of earth recently, so there is at least one factor that might make it even less.
Neverthless his quote about "waiting a few THOUSAND years and oil will be abundant again" is in crazyland.

Right on. Lots of non-intuitive concepts that the gullible might be lead to believe. For example, I suppose a cornucopian could say that gravity would keep the oil down, yet in reality, gravity counter-intuitively forces oil just as readily upwards, as other materials under the crushing force of gravity are forced downward thus displacing the oil. See Heading Out's recent series on this.

The point is that the crazies in crazy-land can make anything seem plausible.

I suppose that this is technically correct. There is nothing about the geological processes that previously created the large deposits we are presently exploiting that precludes the possibility of their still be active today.

WNC, this is simply incorrect. Oil formation begins with of huge algae blooms during periods of intense global warming. Also, in order for the dead algae to form the kerogen that eventually becomes oil, after buried deep for many years, requires the seas to be depleted of oxygen. In short it requires an Anoxic Event. Such an event may be upon us in the next few hundred years, or less, but not right now. Also these anoxic events are not worldwide but primarily in shallow seas in tropical areas.

It is now widely believed that most of today's fossil oil reserves formed in several distinct anoxic events in earth's geologic history.

Bottom line, oil formation is not a continuous thing, it comes in short spurts, or would spikes be a better word. Well, I mean the conditions that start the formation of oil is intermittent in time.

Ron P.

Certainly episodic and not continuous. "Active today" needs to be understood within the context of a geologic rather than human time frame. You are right, another episode might be coming soon, unfortunately. I don't know what is undersea, and at what stage. Undoubtedly, there may be various spots that were formed in the past but are not "ready" yet.

The other ingredient needed is a migration of oil into more concentrated regions. Unless this happens the matter is diffuse and spread out, which makes the energy density quite low. That migration itself occurred over millions of years, as it proceeds at a very slow rate.

So the ingredients are a Black Swan and Time.

There are some pretty large areas where bottom water is anoxic today: the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, coastal areas off major rivers (including the Columbia), many fjords. It's by no means a sure thing that the oil is not still being formed, somewhere, on a geological time scale.

Yes but there are no huge alga blooms in these areas therefore no dead alga falling into these areas. And it take thousands of years of alga blooming and dying to accumulat very much oil.

Nowhere on earth are conditins like they were 90 and 150 million years ago when most of alga was deposited that formd the oil we pump today.

Ron P.

Oil formation begins with of huge algae blooms during periods of intense global warming.

This probably accounts for the bulk of the buried kerogen. I have trouble believing that other less favorable circumstances don't also lead to burial of organic material. Probably not in the quantities needed to create giant oilfields, but certainly some low grade source rock must also be created by less favorable environments. Then we have the process of baking the kerogen into oil. We still have a lot of buried kerogen (such as the US "oil shale"), which if buried to the right depth will gradually transform into oil.

I suspect a decent estimate of a sustainable rate of oil production can be made by calculating how much oil comes out of natural seeps. Prior to drilling wells, this was the only source of (petroleum) oils our species could tap into. Eventually this source might again become the principal source. Of course if we have already drained the source regions of many of these seeps by drilling into them, there might not be so much left.

"I suspect a decent estimate of a sustainable rate of oil production can be made by calculating how much oil comes out of natural seeps. Prior to drilling wells, this was the only source of (petroleum) oils our species could tap into."

When Marco Polo went to China he passed through Baku. He noted how the villagers in one place would go to a cleft in the ground a distance away, and gather up a thick, tarry stuff, which they would apply to their firewood.

So oil has been extracted from Baku for 800+ years, no wonder they are depleting! :)

Antoinetta III

Converting plastic to oil (Video Warning)

Envion turns plastic products back into oil, which can be used in cars, trucks, and jets.

Great story about a company that takes plastic and turns it into oil. Mining our landfills for oil, anyone?

Greenpeace has their nose in this- calling this non-renewable. True, but irrelevant- garbage to energy will be a big hit once we are on Hubbert's downslope.

Sounds good on paper, but I believe I heard him say he could get 40 - 60 barrels of oil per day from the plant. Drop in the bucket, unless it is hugely scalable, or he's only going to drive to and from the landfill...
It's a great way to use up polluting trash, and could probably fuel a few local generators.

Climate Laws Encourage Deforestation, Scientists Say


In regards to the New Scientist article that reports on the WWF warning about 2014 being the date when action must be taken on climate change and only solar, wind and biofuels can be scaled.


Previously the World Wide Fund for Nature funded a climate scorecard with rigged numbers

WWF does not consider nuclear power to be a viable policy option. The indicators “emissions per capita”, “emissions per GDP” and “CO2 per kWh electricity” for all countries have therefore been adjusted as if the generation of electricity from nuclear power had produced 350 gCO2/kWh (emission factor for natural gas). Without the adjustment, the original indicators for France would have been much lower, e.g. 86 gCO2/kWh.

Now they have 159 pages of fluff and charts built around super-simple and wrong spreadsheets.

The capacity factors that they used for their assumptions are made up. The current best actual capacity factors are in the USA and South Korea and are 90-95%. They represent 33% of the total nuclear capacity and more of the nuclear generation. By using the wrong capacity factors, they calculated nuclear power generation to be 15% below actual values. They claim an average capacity factor of 50% for wind energy.

The basis for the 2014 date is that they did not want to justify more than a multiplier of 30% (1.3) for each of the cells in their spreadsheet for wind.

They do not look at grid upgrade issues and costs or backup power generation or power storage. They could not justify a continued growth rate beyond 30% per year for 30-40 years for wind energy so in order for wind and solar power to be scaled in their spreadsheet to achieve the replacement of energy, they need to start the multiplier in 2014.

They do not look at other energy options other than solar, wind or biofuel and they only look at solar and wind and biofuels for a high growth rate off of a small base.

They have a massively incorrect view of what has been built now and have no clue on what is being developed and they do not have awareness of other proposals. They take various climate views as fact and do not base what they are doing on any kind of climate model.

The current best actual capacity factors are in the USA and South Korea and are 90-95%.

I question that as a "fleet average". Especially when Brown's Ferry 1 is included. Mid to high 80% is closer to reality.

And ONLY for older reactors that have had years to get "broken in". The only new reactors I have noticed with higher capacity factors are CANDUs (and not all of them). But I may have missed some outside the USA.


I found the following story really telling and it shows how measured and calm the reactions of people on TOD to new information compared to other forums.

Someone named IndianaDemocrat posted an entry a few nights ago on DailyKos called "Climate Folks-Has The Northern Gulf Stream Shut Down?". This got promoted to front page visibility. The gist was that ths DKos individual had seen some NOAA 2D charts showing a conspicuous absence of Gulf Stream currents.

Eventually, after many comments, somebody then pointed out that the charts measured only surface current, while the Gulf-stream is largely a sub-surface circulation.

oops. never mind.

I had to be a smart-alec and commented:

I just noticed ...
it is dark outside. Did the Sun burn out or something?

Bottom-line, it is always fun to find something new but invariably (1) someone has seen it before or (2) you are horribly wrong.

No, sun's up here on the wetcoast of BC (behind eternal clouds, so I'm just going from the diffuse light that seems to be coming from the sky).

Oh damn, wait a minute - maybe it's burned out over where you are, and the darkness is spreading! What should I look out for??!

I doubt if the folks at RealClimate would have been too alarmed over that either. I have noticed much more panic on other sites than TOD. I think folks with an analytical bent tend to have a more measured response initially (maybe from a healthy dose skepticism).

Car dimples save energy; increase mileage by 3 mpg in test:


I have seen claims someplace that scaly finishes similar to the skin of sharks or fish make for more fuel efficient boat hulls.

I guess the dimples could work_personally I have my doubts until the experiment is run by someone who has (in my estimation) more credibility than a tv crew.

If it works it seems odd that nobody has applied the concept to commercial trucks or small aircraft-a ten percent plus improvement in fuel economy would extend the range of a small plane quite a bit.

And the engineering student crews who build conceopt cars to run in fuel economy competitions don't miss much-not only do they have faculty to help, they have access to just about every engineering specialty at he larger schools.

I look at the pictures of such cars in the various car mags occasionally and I haven't seen any dimpled cars.

The other issue is that the reduction of drag effect depends heavily on the amount of drag in the first place, which is why fish (water denser than air) and golf balls (high speed: drag increases nonlinearly with speed) benefit particularly from it. Scanning the attached video they do their tests in a car doing 65 mph on a test strip (no indication of the length of strip). I'm not completely convinced, but if more comprehensive, careful experiments were done confirming this I could believe it. (I also wonder that a dimpled pattern is in any way optimal for cars: the point of the regular dimpled pattern on a golf ball is so that they're effective no matter how the golfer strikes the ball, whereas we know exactly how the car will be travelling.)

The important question though is how significant is a the increase in fuel efficiency? I can't see x going around his fields in his various farm vehicles at 65 mph, and certainly in the UK the urban driving regime (general speed 30-40 mph, lots of stop-starts and traffic jams) predominates for most people so that drag is a much more minor issue, and consequently fuel savings are going to be much, much less.


You obviously know a few things-It's good to run into another gearhead(or maybe you are an engineer?) here-I'm not personally convinced that we have seen the end of the ice or ice personal auto.

Here in the states we have lots of open road that can be driven safely at high speeds-and drag at high speeds eats fuel exponentially-the idea might be useful here at least on large commercial vehicles.

I'm actually a mathematical physicist turned computer scientist/engineer and wouldn't have a clue how to acutally tinker with an engine.

I don't dispute that a 10 percent fuel efficiency would be significant for individuals doing high speed driving, just making the point that the fuel efficiency increase wouldn't be anywhere near as big in other driving regimes, so that figuring out macro effects on a nation's oil demand need to factor in what the mix of driving regimes is (and what it may become in the future).

There's a reasonable proportion of long distance motorways and other straight 60 or 70 mph roads in the UK (although nowhere near as much as the states) but the amount of driving a typical individual (as opposed to truckers, etc) does in those conditions tends to be relatively low.

There's still a fair bit of room for aerodynamic improvement on semis, and high speed trains would likely benefit even more.

I'm a mechanical engineering student, so I'm not really qualified to comment on this yet, but I think I have the answer. Dimpling may have been helpful on a car to create a larger boundary area to help air flow smoothly over all the cracks, bumps, mirrors, wipers, ect... and it is helpful on a golf ball because a sphere is not a good shape for aerodynamics and as such needs the extra-thick boundary region that dimpling gives it. However, something like a fuel-efficiency racer already has an optimal shape, so a thick boundary layer would make the object in effect bigger, so dimpling would be counter-productive.

The length of the strip was exactly one mile and they performed the test 5 times for each car type. The small scale fluid dynamics testing they performed at a NASA lab looked inconclusive to me but after watching the episode I'm definitely inclined to think the dimples helped.

The other issue is that the reduction of drag effect depends heavily on the amount of drag in the first place

Clearly there are things about aerodynaomics we are only beginning to learn about. Dimples would be a form of turbulence generators, generate small scale turbulence in the boundary layer in the hope of reducing the larger scales. There is also the long known fact that by actively sucking in the boundary layer (basically by uscking air through the skin of the vehicle with some sort of pump and small holes) that you can delay separation greatly reducing drag. Thirdly and really high tech, you could try active control using lots of intelligently controlled actuators to suppress eddy formation. I also saw a paper where adding hair like structures whereby turbulence could be suppressed, and counterintuitively drag could be reduced.

If somehow we could eliminate turbulence, so that flow was laminer, drag could be very low, but I doubt that is possible.

In any case I saw a figure where for 18wheelers at highway speed aerodrag was roughly 65% of energy consumption. And of course if you succeed in reducing this drag, you can then a smaller engine and drive train, saving some of the loses in those parts of the system that scale with power output as well.

The real issue is practicality/cost. Would dimples make painting/cleaning difficult? Would they promote rust? How expensive would they be to manufacture. Similar issues would arise with the other potential aerotricks.

same trip with golf balls


2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 41 ending October 17, 2009

All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.

During week 41 (October 11-17, 2009), influenza activity increased in the U.S.

ILI Week 41

Nationwide during week 41, 7.1% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) were due to influenza-like illness (ILI). This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.3%

P&I Deaths

Including week 41, P&I mortality has been above threshold for three consecutive weeks.

However it now appears that the virus is having difficulty maintaining sustained transmission in the adult population which looks like it will blunt the peak. That's if the following investigation of spread in Australia is a guide.


Eurosurveillance, Volume 14, Issue 42, 22 October 2009
Surveillance and outbreak reports
Early transmission characteristics of influenza A(H1N1)v in Australia: Victorian state, 16 May – 3 June 2009

UPDATE 2-U.S. bank failures pass 100 mark for 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. bank failures this year reached 106 on Friday, when regulators closed seven more small banks, marking the highest annual level of failed institutions since 1992 during the savings and loan crisis.

Sorry if this has been posted already. All is not well in the US banking industry.

Looks like affordable electric cars may soon be available.
to manufacture 20,000 electric vehicles per year in New York State

The vehicles are expected to have a couple different battery packages, one with lead acid that could reach top speeds of 50 to 60 mph. The car would cost about $17,000. The second lithium-ion package enables the vehicle to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge, with a vehicle cost of $24,000 to $25,000, Levy said.

Levy also said the vehicle has been designed to be battery agnostic, meaning that as battery technology evolves, customers could buy upgrades.

The Reva NXR, a four-seat, three-door hatchback family car, is scheduled to go into production in 2010, while the REVA NXG, a sporty two-seater designed by Dilip Chhabria of DC Design, is set for 2011 (see Two new electric cars for India this month?).

The vehicles would follow in the footsteps of Reva's original electric car, the REVA, with a cost of Rs 300,000 to Rs 389,000 ($6,100 to $8,000) in India after government subsidies, and an operational cost of Rs 40 ($0.82) for 100 kilometers (see Reva-ing it up in Delhi!)

I like the part where you can have an economy version using lead acid batteries, and a deluxe Lithium Ion version with longer range, and a higher price tag. I suspect that may be where we end up with with electric vehicles. Your budget determines whether you can afford to pay for long range.

"$6,100 to $8,000) in India after government subsidies"

and the final cost in america with air bag etc will be ???

and the article says ...."May" Produce in U.S.

Which is good. Although I don't believe that electric cars are the answer, I hate the FUD about how it would take 15 tons (or insert large number here) of lead-acid batteries to equal the energy content of a tank of gas because A) who needs an electric car that can go 600 km per charge and B) batteries give you electricity instead of heat, and electricity is much higher quality energy so you can't really compare them on a 1-1 basis unless you are using the electricity to make heat at or below the combustion temperature of the fuel.

Ethanol Groups Refute Science Article:


Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) notes that “Searchinger is not a scientist, economist, or agronomist who has taken the time necessary to study whether his theories about land use and biofuels are validated by on-the-ground measurements. He’s an attorney who appears to have a political ax to grind against biofuels. New technology makes corn ethanol more efficient and sustainable each and every day, while future sources of oil get less efficient and more harmful to the environment.”

the story behind the story. chesapeake reports production exceeds 1 bcfd from the barnett shale. the not told story is the number of wells producing this bcfd. chesapeake recently reported they had drilled 439 wells in barnett in the past 12 months.

i was unemployed this summer so i rode my trek 1000 bicycle around the local lake for exercise and to get out of the house. almost every day it didnt rain mind you. i never left the house during rush hour. people would run you over and say, "what was that?". it was after 9am and before 10 am. roads quite empty. now i commute to work in my car and i see crazy people bicycling on the road at 4pm. they think a $20 foam helmet made in china and speedos makes them invincible. sudden death impact. i dont even want to ride my car at that time but i gots to to get home. in northern new jersey the side walk is unheard of. business interests dont want the cost associated with installation, i.e. property taxes. so when is THSHTF? i see see no one in my state the least bit aware of "the problem". it's the oil conundrum. SNORX! qrrpdlx!