Drumbeat: October 31, 2009

The holdout: Alone in an abandoned car plant

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- Most people assume the Packard Plant in Detroit is vacant. It's an industrial ruin where the last car was manufactured 53 years ago.

Almost all the windows are blown out. Collapsed walls litter the overgrown sidewalks with broken bricks, mixed with charred metal and shattered glass.

But one tenant remains headquartered among the vines, rust and graffiti. Where 11,000 employees once clocked in, now just 10 workers for Chemical Processing Inc. show up each morning.

Running a business in a facility widely assumed to be deserted has its challenges. The address surprises customers. The landlord doesn't make repairs. And sometimes, scrappers steal your power lines.

Farmers may want to rethink selling corn residue

LINCOLN, Neb. — Farmers might be paying a price if they sell plant residue from harvested cornfields.

The leftover plant material — also called corn stover — is being bought by some energy companies. They turn it into pellets and sell it to coal-fired power plants.

Some companies will pay up to $20 a ton for long-term contracts. At an average of 3 tons per acre, a mere 100-acre field could yield a gross profit of $6,000.

But University of Nebraska-Lincoln farm experts say that residue is even more valuable to the farmer by adding nutrients and lending structure to the soil.

Can Biotech Food Cure World Hunger?

What will drive the next Green Revolution? Is genetically modified food an answer to world hunger? Are there other factors that will make a difference in food production?

Farmers’ markets for seed savers

The small-scale seed-sharers aren’t generally dealing in patented goods—a lot of that is genetically modified, which they tend to avoid—but these efforts, tied in with improved access for urban agriculture at schools and community gardens, are part of an increasingly vocal protest against the ownership of seeds. Ian Aley is with FoodShare, a non-profit focused on hunger and food issues in Toronto. “The reason we do seed saving and include it in our urban agriculture program,” he says, “is because of a broader issue: having autonomy and having control over our own food sources.” These urban farmers are also proving effective guardians of biodiversity, whether that means saving rare plums or out-of-style varieties like yellow corn.

French Ideal of Bicycle-Sharing Meets Reality

Residents here can rent a sturdy bicycle from hundreds of public stations and pedal to their destinations, an inexpensive, healthy and low-carbon alternative to hopping in a car or bus.

But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.

With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program’s organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them. And along with the dent in the city-subsidized budget has been a blow to the Parisian psyche.

Edward Burtynsky: Economies of Scale

A believer in the concept of “Peak Oil”—the point at which global oil production will hit its apex and supplies will rapidly dissapear to calamitous effect—Burtynsky chose to photograph the rapidly growing Las Vegas suburbs and recreational activities like NASCAR races and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to look at oil-fueled culture before they're obsolete. He explains, “My thought was, if we are at that crest [in the oil supply], and many believe we are cresting, what are the kinds of things that I can photograph today that may not be here in 50 years?”

Carolyn Baker: It's Too Late, Baby, Times Up!: A Book Review

I would say that the real crux of Time’s Up is the challenge of how to keep the human race from continuing to commit suicide. The first 82 pages of the book are devoted to a painstaking explanation of the inextricable connection between humans and all other life forms. The fundamental reality of the connection is that “nothing is so dependent upon other forms of life as humans, the ultimate consumers.” Likewise, “everything we do has the potential to disrupt something, knock if off balance as we negotiate the finest of lines; yet that line we are repeatedly stepping over.”

Rubin: Oil price to affect trade

Expect to see fewer ships coming into Halifax from across the Atlantic Ocean as the price of fuel skyrockets, says Jeff Rubin, a former chief economist at CIBC World Markets.

"Between the first and second OPEC oil shock, which was a period of great increase in oil prices, there was massive trade diversion away from transatlantic and transpacific trade and towards regional trade," said the author of the bestselling Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller.

Mexico's Pemex backs Chicontepec, sees net debt up

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The troubled Chicontepec oil project remains an important part of the portfolio of Mexico's state oil company Pemex and any talk of scrapping it is "speculative," Pemex executives said on Friday.

Pemex has come under heavy criticism from government officials due to the poor results at Chicontepec, where billions of dollars of investment have yielded little in terms of new production capacity.

Bahrain to host Middle East oil and gas summit

Dr. Mirza said that propelling the oil and gas sector towards more sustainability is among the top priorities of the leaderships in the region, where we have noted the success achieved by GCC countries in setting comprehensive strategies for developing and upgrading the oil and gas which supported these countries in facing the recent international financial crisis.

The minister said that the repercussion of the recent crisis has proved the winning bet on modern technology.

Kuwait, S. Arabia to start drilling in Arash field

As Iran seeks to jointly invest in the Arash gas field with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the two Arab states are expanding the scope of offshore exploration.

The massive Arash field is shared by Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where it is known as 'Dorra', and is a contested area between Tehran and Kuwait.

Chevron Confident About Exploiting US Shale Gas

Chevron Corp. is confident in its ability to exploit shale gas in the U.S. despite the challenges this type of resource poses for oil major companies, the head of the company said Friday.

"Our drilling organization and our company is quite capable of multiple-well programs," Chief Executive David O'Reilly said on an earnings conference call. "We have demonstrated that capability."

Nigeria: Group Challenges Oil Firms On Land Encroachment

Port Harcourt — Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have declared their opposition to land grabbing by multinational companies, Genetically Modified crops and AGRA.

This was part of a communiqué issued at the end of a conference on AGRA, Land Grabs and Non-Ecological Agriculture hosted by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) to discuss the challenge posed by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) - an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Nigeria: FG Considers 10 Percent Oil Equity Stake for Niger Delta

Sopuruchi Onwuka — Federal government may finally round off its peace moves in the Niger Delta by ceding 10 percent interest in joint venture firms which are to be incorporated to the Niger Delta communities.

The proposal which is currently in the National Assembly might also form part of the Petroleum Industry Bill that is being considered by the relevant committees in both houses of the bi-cameral legislature.

The Philippines: No need to fear oil shortage ‘horror tale'

The government and the public should not be alarmed by “horror tales” about a fuel shortage in the wake of the freeze of pump prices in Luzon, an industry insider said.

“Don’t be afraid of the ‘oil shortage.’ The major oil companies have yearly supply contract terms with producers. They cannot stop importing fuel,” said the industry insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Dar turns on generators

DAR, TANZANIA- Finally, the power rationing that had threatened to leave dozens of employees jobless due to low production in factories will end this week following governments order to have Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) switch on its generators.

Iran to import 33 million cubic meters of Turkmen gas by mid December

TEHRAN (ISNA)-Iran's Oil Minister Massoud Mir Kazemi said the country is to import 33 million cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan daily after the two sides ended construction of a new pipeline. He said the rise of gas import is planned to be concluded by mid December.

Bridging the Generation Gap on Climate

The rapid march of climate change up the global agenda has prompted a new, and often poignant, conversation between the generations and, in public, among a self-appointed elite.

At its core, that conversation is about whether some of the first beneficiaries of the wonders developed during the past century — like electricity at the flick of a switch — have the means, or the will, to help their descendants with the consequences of burning vast quantities of fossil fuels.

The Danger of Staring too Close at 350

I’m no marketing expert, but I posit that the genius behind most effective marketing campaigns lies in their direct simplicity.

350 means solving global warming. Simple and direct.

If only it were that simple. For starters, we shot past 350 ppm of atmospheric CO2 years ago, and our foot is still on the accelerator. Current measurements of CO2 are around 387 ppm and growing annually. Civilization emerged and, for all but barely the past couple hundred years, flourished with 280 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Australian renewable energy crisis as REC price dives

The Australian renewable energy industry faces a colossal threat of sudden extinction. Last week, the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) price dived to AU$23 after spending recent months hovering at AU$38. This is well below the AU$50/REC enjoyed only four months ago, and poses severe problems for the renewable energy industry.

Jeff Rubin: Get ready for triple-digit oil again soon

Nothing is shrinking faster these days than global trade. For the first time in decades, world trade volume, the lifeblood of the global economy, is actually falling. And chances are that downsizing is here to stay.

One reason global trade is shrinking is that most major economies have been contracting. Recession-scarred economies will of course recover. They always do. The Chinese economy is already on the mend and in time other economies will also get back on their feet. But unfortunately for an oil-hungry global economy, so too will crude prices — which is not only the real reason the economy tanked in the first place, but also the reason the economy coming out of this recession will be very different than the one that went into it.

Whether we move goods by air, ship, rail or truck, the global economy runs on oil.

And soon that oil is going to cost more than we can afford. Long distance transoceanic trade is about to go the way of the gas-guzzling SUV. Both are relics of an age of cheap oil that no longer exists.

Gas prices chugging higher as holidays near

Americans are paying more for gasoline than they did last year as the holidays approached — billions of dollars that could go to books, clothes and Barbie dolls instead being spent at the pump.

Gas averaged nearly $2.70 a gallon Friday, the highest of the year — adding bad news to an already fragile economy and making it even less likely that people will spend their way out of the recession.

Oil Set for Surge to $90, Commerzbank Says: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil is on track to reach $90 a barrel in New York providing that prices remain above $75, according to technical analysis by Commerzbank AG.

Oil for December delivery is trading around $79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange today, having climbed to a one- year high of $82 on Oct. 21. The advance may continue to $90, Commerzbank said in a report. The number is an important level using so-called Fibonacci analysis, as it was at the start of oil’s slump toward a four-year low at the end of last year, according to the bank.

Crude Oil May Fall on Stronger Dollar, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil may fall next week on speculation that the dollar will rebound against the euro and equities will decline.

Fifteen of 34 analysts, or 44 percent, said futures will drop through Nov. 6. Ten respondents, or 29 percent, predicted the market will rise and nine forecast that futures will be little changed. Last week, 50 percent of analysts said prices would fall.

U.S. Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture

While most mainstream economists such as Nouriel Roubini are warning of deflationary threats to the U.S. economy, it is our belief that massive price inflation has already begun. The Federal Reserve's policy of massive monetary inflation in 2009 has caused the Dow Jones to bounce over 50% from its low, oil to rise 100% from its low, and gold to surge to a new all time nominal high. One NIA co-founder just saw his health insurance premium rise 16% over a year ago; and the average tuition for a four-year public college increased this year by 6.5%.

Demand will support Mackenzie: Exxon

Natural gas demand will increase by 50 per cent in the next two decades, creating enough room to bring online the Mackenzie pipeline, a senior Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM-N official said Friday.

There is “room for a lot of gas in North America,” said Andrew Swiger, senior vice-president and member of the management committee of Exxon Mobil.

The great pipe dream

Exxon predicts the global population will consume 50% more natural gas by 2030 than guzzled now. The fossil fuel will overtake coal as the world's second-largest source of energy, Mr. Swiger said.

But Canada's potential contribution to the new swells of natural gas is a sensitive political topic. The proposed 1,220-kilometre Arctic natural gas pipeline, which could transfer 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day to Canada and the United States, has been on and off the table since Pierre Trudeau was prime minister in the 1970s.

A winding road ahead of Pdvsa

Pdvsa still owes USD 4.5 billion to service providers The goal of reducing to zero the debts of the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) still looks distant.

The Venezuelan oil industry has 4.5 billion debt obligations with suppliers. Although the state oil company has issued bonds to meet its commitments, funds are still insufficient.

Pdvsa's contribution closing the year down 47.7 percent

In the face of oil prices around USD 50, the Executive Office estimates that at the end of 2009, input of state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela to the Treasury will total USD 20 billion.

Such amount mirrors a 47.7 percent plunge compared with USD 38.3 billion in 2008. However, last year, oil prices averaged USD 86. In the 2010 Budget Bill, the government envisaged the revenues for 2009. Note in this context that Pdvsa's contribution has been hit by lower output and oil prices performance.

Kuwait oil production seen rising 30% by 2018

Oil production in Kuwait is predicted to grow by nearly 30 percent by 2018, with crude volumes reaching 3.6m barrels per day, according to a new report.

Between 2008 and 2018, global research firm Business Monitor International said it was forecasting an increase in production of 29.3 percent.

Pertamina to up oil output in 2010

Oil and gas producer PT Pertamina, the country's most profitable state company, is setting its sight on raising oil production by up to 8 percent next year to meet the ever-increasing demand.

Huge Oil, Gas Reserves Found In Western Iran

TEHRAN (Mehr News Agency) - Considerable oil and gas reserves have been found in Khorramabad block, western Iran, the data collected by the Norwegian energy group StatoilHydro shows. Seismic operations and geological surveys carried out by StatoilHydro there indicate it is more probable to hit huge natural gas deposits at the block, the Mehr News Agency reported.

Nigerian Workers Stage Protest Rally Against Oil Sector Deregulation

Thousands of protesters have marched through the streets of Abuja to protest against key policies, including privatization of refineries.

Nigerian unions have fiercely opposed the planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry. They argue that the planned withdrawal of subsidies on petroleum products would lead to higher prices and inflict more hardship on Nigerians, especially the poor.

Tap in to one of the world's biggest oil reserves

Despite what most people believe, investing in oil is actually simple, easy, and capable of building a lifetime of wealth.

Byron King: Rare Earths and Other Critical Metals

All the vital technologies in your life rely on an incredibly small number of specialty metals.

Electronics, aerospace, military defense, automotive, clean-tech, renewable energy: none of these would exist without these “technology metals”…and there’s shortage looming just down the road.

Is this the true face of rural Ireland?

The optimistic view is that rural Ireland will come full circle, simply because of national need. In the rush to specialise, farmers have lost the key skills of the kitchen garden, the means of producing food. “The old models have let us down. The institutions have let us down,” says Catherine Corcoran of the Tipperary Institute. “What happens in the future when oil runs out? Even David McWilliams and Eddie Hobbs have come round to the extreme gravity of climate change and peak oil. Who then is going to produce the food? Who is going to produce the energy?”

No easy answers when electricity is cut off

The electricity had been cut off and it was dark in the house, so her young daughter didn't realize that the lid was down on the toilet seat around 3 a.m. last Friday.

"She's in there cleaning up urine and she didn't even wake me up, because she knew I had to work," said the mother, holding back tears.

The day before, A&N Electric Cooperative cut off the mother's power -- as she tells the story, about 24 hours before the direct paycheck deposit would have enabled her to keep it on.

'Right to dry' could wean Americans off consumption

EARLIER this year, a company called National Clothespin of Montpelier, Vermont, mothballed its manufacturing equipment. As a result, there is no longer a single manufacturer of wooden clothes pegs in the US, even though that peculiarly American sect, the Shakers, invented them. National Clothespin now imports clothes pegs from China so it can inscribe cutesy phrases on them, attach magnets to the back, and sell them as novelty products.

Ricardo to Develop Fuel Efficient Vehicle for U.S. Army

VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., /PRNewswire/ -- Ricardo, Inc., the US subsidiary of Ricardo plc, the leading independent provider of technology, product innovation and engineering solutions to the world's automotive, defense, transport and new energy industries, has been awarded a contract for the development of a new vehicle under the Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) program launched by TARDEC, the U.S. Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Michigan.

The FED program, launched in late 2008, has the overarching goals of improving military vehicle technology, reducing fuel consumption on the battlefield, and reducing the nation's dependence on oil. Ricardo will apply its expertise in the development and manufacture of special vehicles and advanced automotive technology to create a demonstration vehicle that maximizes fuel economy while maintaining the capability and performance of light tactical wheeled vehicles.

Clever 'chopped' cars promise cheap electric commuting

IT COULD take a "perfect storm" to create electric cars that match gas-powered cars' range - a mix of motor-industry investment, infrastructure change and advances in battery technology. Instead of waiting, a new project aims to build cheap vehicles good enough for short commutes.

EIB to Help Finance U.K. Offshore Wind Connections to Grid

(Bloomberg) -- The European Investment Bank may lend as much as 300 million pounds ($496 million) to help link offshore wind parks to the U.K.’s power grid as Britain aims to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

The loans would be given to 13 bidders in tenders to own and operate power cables from six wind farms being built by companies including Scottish & Southern Energy Plc, the U.K. energy regulator said in an e-mailed statement today.

Activist's message at USF: End needless waste of food

Less than 50 percent of crops harvested around the world are for human consumption, Shiva said. Of that food, 50 percent is wasted, which results in just over 12 percent of all the food produced on the planet actually being consumed.

"Couldn't we make sure that no one was hungry if that food wasn't wasted?" she asked.

Pushing vegetarianism is not the answer to climate change

I was a vegetarian for 23 years, up until about three years ago. Nobody knows better than me how good and varied a diet a veggie can have. As a positive lifestyle choice - taken for whatever reasons - it has a lot to commend it.

But for most people, it's just another variation of the dreary old hairshirt environmentalist message that says that in order to care for the planet you've got to give up everything that's fun. There's no sex, drugs or rock n' roll in this new eco-topia - and now there's no meat either.

It's the wrong message. It is guaranteed to turn people off. It is guaranteed to lose support. Nobody votes for hairshirts, and nobody has yet proven that they are required.

Utilities Say Boxer’s Climate Bill Trims Free Pollution Permits

(Bloomberg) -- The chiefs of Exelon Corp. and American Electric Power Co. said climate-change legislation in the Senate would shortchange companies of free pollution permits they would get under a version passed in the House.

U.K. Faith Leaders Release Landmark Statement on Climate Change

U.K. faith leaders issued a first-of-its-kind statement on climate change Thursday in which the signatories recognized "unequivocally that there is a moral imperative to tackle the causes of global warming."

“This,” they stated, “is reinforced by the reality that it is the poor and vulnerable who are most profoundly affected by the environmental impact of climate change - especially drought, floods, water shortages and rise in sea levels.”

E.U. Reaches Funding Deal on Climate Change

European Union leaders on Friday offered to contribute money to a global fund to help developing countries tackle global warming hoping kick-start stalled talks on a new agreement on climate change.

But E.U. leaders disappointed climate campaigners by making the offer conditional on donations from other parts of the world and by failing to decide how much Europe would contribute to a global pot of up to 50 billion euros by 2020.

Copenhagen Expectations Too High, Former U.S. Negotiator Says

(Bloomberg) -- A treaty to curb global warming probably won’t be completed in Copenhagen in December, and countries should ratchet down hopes for such an accord, a former U.S. climate-change negotiator said.

“I do wish some government would actually start to lower expectations rather than keep raising them,” Eileen Claussen, a former State department official under President Bill Clinton, told reporters today in Washington.

AEP Tests Coal’s Future at Its West Virginia Plant

(Bloomberg) -- An American Electric Power Co. plant in New Haven, West Virginia, may help determine whether the nation’s 1,500 coal-burning power generators become relics of a dirtier age or can flourish in a low-carbon world.

Limiting Growth in 2 Provinces Is the Key to Canada’s Greenhouse Goals, Study Finds

A report by two environmental groups and financed by Toronto-Dominion Bank finds that Canada can meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets only by limiting economic growth in the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Friday night failures:

Nine U.S. banks seized in largest one-day haul

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. authorities seized nine failed banks on Friday, the most in a single day since the financial crisis began and the latest stark sign that substantial parts of the nation's banking industry are being crippled by bad loans.

The move brought the total number of failed banks in 2009 to 115 -- their highest annual level since 1992 -- with analysts expecting more to come. Among the lenders seized Friday was Los Angeles-based California National Bank, in what was the fourth-largest U.S. bank failure this year.

This is a link to the list of failed banks on the FDIC web site. New ones that failed yesterday include

North Houston Bank, Houston, TX
Madisonville State Bank, Madisonville, TX
Citizens National Bank, Teague, TX
Park National Bank, Chicago, IL
Pacific National Bank, San Francisco, CA
California National Bank, Los Angeles, CA
San Diego National Bank, San Diego, CA
Community Bank of Lemont, Lemont, IL
Bank USA, N.A., Phoenix, AZ

The list is getting so long that newspapers don't care to cover it any more.

According to CNN

This year's failures have already reduced the FDIC's insurance fund to below $10 billion from $45 billion a year ago. Friday's closure will cost the FDIC an estimated $2.5 billion.

After factoring in expected closures, the agency says its insurance fund is in the red and will remain there through 2012. Over the next four years, the agency expects bank closures will cost $100 billion.

The link to Jeff Rubin is wrong. Here is a good one:


An earlier link:

Headed for the exit lane

Fixed it. The link is to his new blog, Jeff Rubin's Smaller World.

Hmmm... from that mid-2008 blast-from-the-past pdf:

As gasoline prices climb inexorably, American driving habits are going to have to undergo a massive change... Average miles driven will likely fall by as much as 15%... By 2012, there should be some 10 million fewer vehicles on American roadways than there are today... Incredibly, over 10 million of... [low-income] American households own more than one car. Soon they won’t own any.

About the only thing missing is "woe and perdition shall be upon us!" But I dunno. Traffic flow doesn't seem to have improved noticeably; if anything some local trips have gotten a touch more difficult. Maybe people are on the way to having fewer cars, but driving them more. Maybe they're buying less stuff, but they must still be going out to window-shop. Or to travel round and round in circles. Or something.

Perhaps it remains unwise to 'misunderestimate' the persistence of the 'system'... and unwise as well to make predictions, especially when they happen to be about the future...

Well, hopefully, if we drive fewer miles, we can divert resources from building new roads to repairing old ones.

PaulS, Maybe you live in a more prosperous than average area.

I live in a depressed area and there has been a noticeable dropoff in traffic.

I was in the local DMV office for new car tags last week and the clerk who waited on me said there is a noticeable trend here from three cars to two and from two cars to one.

I was able to get a front end alignment and new tires at the best place in town last week without an appointment-that's the first time ever in over ten years of dealing with them.

But every body is hanging onto that last car-you can't live without it in this kind of place unless you have family to run all your errands for you and you are retired.

Or at least a more delusional area than some. The state university, for one, is still in the midst of an absolutely insane construction boom (enabled by one "...Alan (The Jackhammer) Fish, long-term vice chancellor for facilities planning, the man who never saw a building he didn't want to tear down"), with cranes and street blockages everywhere. The Regents are replacing lots of perfectly good buildings [along with, one may still hope, this (scroll down a little) ugly specimen of the worst sort of dysfunctional starchitect garbage from the 1960s where even the HVAC doesn't work, good riddance] with grandiose monuments to themselves. They must expect to be remembered forever in the spirit of "si monumentum requiris, circumspice" - while utterly failing to realize that Christopher Wren wasn't a clueless administrator who gave that honorific to himself, but an actual architect who was given it (though by an heir) as an epitaph.

Chris Martenson has come out with a shorter, 45 minute version, of his Crash Course.

The Crash Course in 45 Minutes (or less)

We hope that this condensed version of the Crash Course will be able to traverse the web, the airwaves, and the networks of your friends and families more speedily and effectively than the original version. In the time we spend engaged in our careers, family lives, and personal activities, it can be hard to set aside the three hours needed to take in the full version.

Ron P.

"A report by two environmental groups and financed by Toronto-Dominion Bank finds that Canada can meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets only by limiting economic growth in the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan."

Which will go over like a lead balloon out west and confirm once more that eastern Canada is out to steal our money. National Energy Policy redux.

How likely is the bank to recommend that Canada stop its oil imports (and burning its oil imports)? It seems like that might be an alternate solution, with more of an East coast impact.

The reaction in Alberta was decidedly negative - here's an article in the Calgary Herald:

The Federal Environment Minister called the study "irresponsible". The Premier of Alberta said, "There won't be another wealth transfer to Ottawa under my watch."

The Prime Minister of Canada comes from Alberta, so the chances of this happening range from slim to none, and Slim just left town.

The TD Bank was quick to note that it only funded but did not endorse the study. The authors are just flapping their lips to here the sound that comes out. Nobody in power, or anybody who wants to be in power will act in their report.

CNN is running a story this morning about a Gallup poll on which occupations produce the most happiness and well-being. Perhaps not surprisingly, the happiest people are those who work for themselves. What I found most interesting, though, was that way up on the list were farmers, fishermen, and foresters.

According to the first annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, those who work in farming/forestry industry report experiencing more job satisfaction than almost every other industry, even though their incomes rate near the bottom, proving that money can't buy happiness.

In fact, those working in the farming, forestry and fishing industries, which made up the fourth-place category, tied for the lowest average income among the top 11 ranking groups. The high placement, despite the low income, long hours and difficult, often dangerous working conditions, surprised the statisticians.

Hard to say exactly why this is. Could be the kind of person who is attracted to those fields.

But I wonder if part of it, at least, is simply working outdoors and being surrounded by nature, or at least a facsimile thereof. There are those studies that show seeing images of nature make people happier. That being outside can reduce depression. That the gift of a flower makes people happier than a gift of similar value such as a candle. Then there's those people in NYC who are so desperate for greenery that they rent parking spots and put down astroturf in them.

Yes, thank you for posting this, it inspires me to chase my dream -- being a full-time farmer and leaving the office behind.

One of the most interesting theories I have seen, was the study in Chicago that found planting trees reduced crime.

Old article

I was raised on a farm, worked in the city (Minneapolis) for many years and quit working in the city in 1991, so I think I know why farmers are happier.

Basically people are animals and they need an environment that supports them. Put any animal in a cage and they will be unhappy and try to get out. That is what cities do. They put people in cages physically, emotionally and intellectually. The animal spirit rebels and tries to escape.

That said, farming does have its stresses. Right now the weather has been a stress for me and farmers in general across a wide section of the country from Minnesota to Mississippi. This area of the country has been deluged with one rain storm after another for the whole month of October which is normally dry.

It all began at the end of very dry warm September. The rain has delayed harvest so much that I can not recall a similar year. And I have been farming since 1975 (even while I worked in the city). Some old farmers report they can not recall such a situation in the 62 years they have farmed.

We have received 9 inches of rain in North Iowa. Perhaps half of the soybeans are out, but the rest stand in soggy fields some even standing in water. The corn has barely been touched and like the soybeans does not dry down in the rain. Farmers including myself half to just watch and wait hoping the weather will change as it usually does. But the stress does mount up since if the crop does not get out a lot of it will fall to the ground, rot or be eaten by animals over the winter.

This weather pattern could be due to climate change since it is so rare. Or it could be warm water in the Pacific that brings a never ended stream of moisture north where is collides with cold air from the arctic.

Anyway hope springs eternal and the outlook for next week appears better. But it will take some time for the fields and the crops to dry down enough to harvest and the December cold and snow is fast approaching. Such is farming.

Will there be debt repayment problems for farmers, now with the wet weather problem? (Or a few months from now?)

With prices down from last year, I expect profit margins are already down. If some farmers lose part of their crop due to wet weather, it seems like that could make the situation worse, especially for the unfortunate ones.

I live in Arkansas, we just had the rainest October on record in several cities. There were news stories of farmers not being able to harvest almost all month, never had more than a few days without rain.

Since wednesday it rained over 6 inches in the area around my house, flooding in areas that don't normally flood because of the soaked ground.

We are over 20 inches above normal, it's going to be one of the top ten wettest years on record for us.

Higher than normal yields and then you can't get them harvested, kind of a sad picture.

...way up on the list were farmers...

Oh, ye great gods and goddesses...LOL! You'd never believe it in a bazillion years from hearing farmers moan and groan, starting with the weather but breezing on with gale force through every conceivable subject. My BS-o-meter is pegged, burned out, crisped to a cinder.

Once upon a time "happiness", as in "pursuit of", was possibly a meaningful concept. Then fairy-castle academics put in their oars, pollsters solicited vacuous self-reports, and it was utterly stripped of all meaning and joined inextricably to the noble-savage myth.

Sometimes people aren't happy unless they're miserable.. City mice and Country mice alike, and we've clearly had both types for a couple Millennia now.

"I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island too, it's lovely going through the zoo

It's very fancy on old Delaney Street, you know.

The subway charms us so, when balmy breezes blow to and fro.

And tell me what street compares with Mott street in July,

Sweet push carts gently gliding by

The great big city's a wondrous toy, just made for a girl and boy.

I'll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy." -Rodgers and Hart, From the Show: The Garrick Gaieties (1925)

"Sometimes people aren't happy unless they're miserable..."
Yes, and self-flagellation seems to be a quintessentially American hobby, but maybe a European reader or two can weigh in on whether that's a misperception...

Edit: then again maybe Asians go for self-flagellation too.

(and I'll take the Studies by our Artists to gauge the mixes of Joy and Pain, before I look to the universities. Art is a much richer form of Psychology than Sociology is.. )

If you take away the source of a persons unhappiness they can't be happy until they find another.

Not surprising to me...I've been a lot happier living in the center of LA since I started a substantial garden and spend lots of time with my plants...

Here's an article about soil organisms that work as natural antidepressant...I saw some more recent research on this a couple weeks ago but can't find the reference now:


Cycler, thanks for the link about Mycobacterium vaccae. Interesting.

From the link: "These studies ... also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt." Ouch. Now they tell us. After our angst-ridden society has already expended vast sums of money and great gouts of energy, under the conscientious and thoroughgoing supervision of supercilious Safety Nazis, to swab away even the most microscopic and insignificant speck of dirt...

But I wonder if part of it, at least, is simply working outdoors and being surrounded by nature

Absolutely agree. In my job I spend about half my time in the field and 10 hour day sails by compared to even a 6 hour day in the office. I think part of it may also be a greater variety of activities, or at least terrain.

Whatever it is, whether 110 degrees or pouring down rain, the worst day in the field is still better than the best day in the office. For me anyway...

This raises doubts about nearby CO2 storage in depleted gas reservoirs. NG from the larger Gorgon field will be stripped (not scrubbed like flue gas) using zeolite sieves and tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 will be pumped under Barrow Island. Will it stay there? The Australian Federal government has indemnified Chevron the operator in case of leakage. I seem to recall a similar indemnity was given in Texas. It means the nuclear industry is not alone in being absolved of responsibility.

The message seems to be if carbon is deep under the ground or deep under the sea just leave it there. Recycle the carbon that is already above ground.

Just got a robo call on my cell phone telling me my ATM/debit card was suspended and I had to reactivate. Here is a link to a news story regarding the scam:


"There is NO substitute for neodymium in windmills" Baloney! Windmills have been around for many hundreds of years, made by people who knew nothing at all about any rare earth. The mills drove a shaft directly, or thru gears, often wooden ones.

Sigh! I see this error so many times. Most recently in the Sci. Am. article about sustainable energy, in which some rewrite goofed and put the neodymium in the GEARS, not the magnets, and then suggested a work-around to ---! ---get rid of the gears and use BIGGER MAGNETS.

"But we need electricity, not simple mechanical power". Well, ok, get the electricity by pumping a fluid by the windmill, and running it over a fluid motor to a rotating alternator (wound field of course). Many windmills driving one big turbine.

This does BETTER than the standard design, esp. when the fluid is water and hydro storage+ water turbine is used- ancient tech, but very very good, proven, long lasting, cheap.

The author's original paper did not make this stupid error- they must be furious.

And on the same theme, guys who know tell me PV used to use hard-to-get elements, but does not need to any more. Silicon, of course, is sand with the oxygen taken out-- using of course, nice cheap electricity from windmills (heh, heh, heh).

Oh, yea, don't forget the kite windmills, best idea so far.

The Byron King article on the shortage of rare earth minerals, and the website which published it, are not worthy of inclusion in TOD. It contains no data to back up a general claim. It is obvious the website is designed to separate uniformed people and their money. I guess the article's only value is it made me curious and I might look for articles elsewhere that do a real analysis of this potential problem. So, I'll cut you some slack for including the article in today's drumbeat;)

wimbi -

The subject of neodymium and wind turbines had been discussed here at TOD a while ago, but I think it bears repeating, lest some of these misconceptions linger.

You are absolutely 100% correct that one doesn't need neodymium magnets for the generator of a wind turbine. Plain old iron or iron/cobalt magnets will do just fine. In fact, you don't even need permanent magnets at all for a generator, as many large generators use electromagnets to create the magnetic field. What makes neodymium desirable is that it provides a very powerful magnet for its weight and improves efficiency, a definite advantage in things like hybrid and electric vehicles, but of far less importance in stationary applications.

By the way, I have also thought about using a fluid drive as a means of eliminating the need for an electrical system altogether, such as in medium size wind turbines used for dedicated industrial applications, such as milling, sawing, or running manufacturing machinery.

A hydraulic pump could be driven direcly off the blades, perhaps via a simple gearbox to increase the rotational speed up into a more efficient range. The pressurized output from the hydraulic pump would then be transmitted via tubing down to a hydraulic motor on the ground, the discharge of which would go back to the hydraulic pump in a closed fluid circuit. Depending on the size of the system, there could be multiple power take-offs via belts and pulleys from the main output shaft, just like in a typical 19th-Century factory.

Efficient? Not terribly, but sometimes efficiency is not the primary consideration. Many engineers have a tendency to confuse efficiency with effectiveness. One can very efficiently do something that is counter-productive or not needed in the first place; and likewise, one can do something that is necessary and beneficial but in a way that is less than optimally efficient.

I was told by a Parker-Hannifin engineer that they tried a hydrostatic wind turbine right next to a standard gearbox-alternator design with the same mill on it, and the hydro got something like 20% MORE delivered power, mainly because of more flexible impedance match. I don't know any more detail.

Anyhow, my pitch is that windmills should be ganged together, pumping water over a single much bigger standard hydro power plant identical to those now in existence all over the world. I personally like piston pumps, with hydrostatic bearings to avoid wear, right on the rotating shaft of the mill; low speed no problem. High pressure water bearings take any load one would ever wish to have.

As for PV, my info comes from a person who makes his money making PV, and he tells me silicon is it; thin film won't keep up.

Bottom line- we are in the Cambrian explosion era of madly proliferating energy ideas, most of which will prove to be hopeless relative to those that win.

PS. I personally keep playing around with super cheap stirlings pumping water over the above mentioned big turbine. Encouraging, and keeps my spirits up in the face of overwhelming evidence that H. sap is doomed.

In a resource constrained world, a system where multiple windmills drive hydraulic pumps which work together to run a generator makes sense. I assume that a hydraulic system is mostly made out of steel, which is in much greater supply than copper. I recall someone here on TOD claiming that generators get more capacity vs. amount of copper used as they get larger, something about power going up as the 4th power of size with material use going up as the 3rd power of size. A hydraulic accumulator could also help keep things synchronous.

Sigh. It's worse than that. As they say in chemistry class, rare earths are not terribly rare - it's just that some of them are so chemically like each other that they're hard to refine.

And on the same theme, guys who know tell me PV used to use hard-to-get elements, but does not need to any more. Silicon, of course, is sand with the oxygen taken out

The concern with PV is that the thin film variety, which is by far the cheapest does use rare stuff like Gallium. So the currently hottest PV technologies won't scale, but the older silicon style does. The question is how well can silicon compete until the time when the thin film stuff runs into the resource limits. Wind mills -or hybrid/electric vehicles could have a similar issue, with early designs being dependent upon materials that won't scale up in size. Then these things got to be re-engineered to get around the resource limitations.

One example might be in PV, where the candidates for cheapness are concentrating PV, versus thin film. The former is scalable, the later isn't. But if the thing film is cheap enough the concentrating variety could be priced out of the market. Then when it comes time to start deploying 100GW of new production every year, and the thin film can't do it, the competing technology won't have been developed.

Kuwait oil production seen rising 30% by 2018

Oil production in Kuwait is predicted to grow by nearly 30 percent by 2018, with crude volumes reaching 3.6m barrels per day, according to a new report.

This begs the question where all this extra production is going to come from. Probably not from Greater Burgan, which according to Wikipedia peaked in 2005. In 2007 Kuwait was producing about 2.6 mmbd. The declining Burgan production would have to be compensated for as well as adding another 1 mmbd. This doesn't look reasonable to me.

And according to a 2001 report, Kuwait had only 24 billion barrels of proved reserves back then and has produced another 5-6 billion barrels since.

Oil Reserves Accounting: The Case Of Kuwait

One of the main questions arising from the startling discrepancy between Kuwait's official proved reserve figures and the numbers revealed in the report is the accuracy of the data routinely given by producing countries both in and outside of Opec. Since the system of country production quotas was introduced in the 1980s, partly based on reserves levels, there have been dramatic reserves upgrades among Opec producers. In 1983, for example, Kuwait increased its proven reserves from 67 billion bbl to 92 billion bbl.

More random notes from the field... yesterday, we added two new schools to our lighting retrofit portfolio. If approved, the demand reduction is 100.0 kW and the expected energy savings in excess of 200,000 kWh; based on NSP's current generation mix, it will eliminate 167 tonnes of CO2 emissions, 1,800 kg of S02, 430 kg of NOx and 2,600 mg of Hg.

In addition, this work will eliminate annoying lamp flicker and ballast hum and greatly improve overall light quality, which in turn makes for a more pleasant learning environment. We'll also properly recycle the old lamps and the ballasts that drive them, many of which contain PCBs. As an added bonus, the new high performance T8 lamps contain roughly one-third the Hg of the F34T12s they replace and have a much longer service life, so far less mercury will be released into the environment going forward.

No more coal-fired power plants !




My memory fails me, so I apologize if you have covered this in one of your previous posts:

Is the T8 bulb and attendant new (electronic?)ballast technology mandated to supersede the older fluorescent technology in the United States?

About how much more efficient is the T8 technology compared to the previous standard? Can you provide a rough rule-of-thumb on payback periods (variables: cost of retrofit, energy efficiency/use of new vs. old systems, the going electric rate [different in different places])

Your work is very encouraging...I hope that lighting consumes in the the U.S. progress along a similar path.

Thanks B808 and MW,

With few exceptions, T12 lamps will no longer be manufactured domestically or imported after July 14, 2012; this includes standard F34, F40 and U-bend T12 lamps; 60 and 75-watt F96T12 and 95 and 110-watt F96T12HO lamps; as well as all 700-series T8s and some T8 HO RDC-base lamps. The supply of these lamps is expected to decline fairly rapidly as I'm told the major distribution channels have already started to cut back on their inventory of these older products.

In most cases, moving from T12 to T8 technology will result in a 40 to 50 per cent reduction in energy demand. For example, a 2-lamp fixture fitted with F34CW/SS lamps and a standard magnetic ballast supplies approximately 4,000 mean lumens and draws something in the range of 80-watts; this same fixture fitted with an energy saving magnetic T12 ballast might draw 72-watt.

If we upgrade to a Osram Sylvania QHE electronic ballast with a 0.78 BF and two 28-watt T8 XP lamps, we can obtain the same amount of light or more, but demand in this case falls to just 42-watts.

Assuming a commercial business that operates 4,000 hours/year and a standard 4-lamp 2x4 troffer as typically found in most offices, converting from F34T12 lamps and energy saving magnetic ballasts to high performance T8 would net us a savings of 240 kWh a year. At $0.125 per kWh (demand and energy), we save about $30.00 a year, per fixture, with perhaps a further $5.00 to $10.00 reduction in cooling loads. With materials and labour, the simple payback is typically less than two years, and often much less after various utility and government incentives (e.g., under Nova Scotia Power's Small Business Lighting Solutions programme, NSP pays 80 per cent of the cost and the remaining 20 per cent co-pay can be repaid, interest-free, over 24 months on the customer's account).

The only downside is that I'm hearing from multiple sources that the supply of T8 ballasts will be very tight for the foreseeable future and that the situation is moving from bad to worse.


Are good shoes bad for your feet?

The Human Body Is Built for Distance

In “Born to Run” (Knopf), Christopher McDougall, an avid runner who had been vexed by injuries, explores the world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a tribe known for running extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals.

Mr. McDougall makes the case that running isn’t inherently risky. Instead, he argues that the commercialization of urban marathons encourages overzealous training, while the promotion of high-tech shoes has led to poor running form and a rash of injuries.

The author dumped his high-tech running shoes for simpler shoes with less cushioning, and has been running injury-free for three years now.

....McDougall, an avid runner who had been vexed by injuries, explores the world of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a tribe known for running extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals.

the tarahumara indians participated in the leadville 100 (100 miles at up to 10,000' elevation)a few years ago. the first year they ran, being unacustomed to 'merikun traditions, would not take any food or water offered during the race. they did not do very well that first year and the second year they won the race handily (taking food and water that was offered).

running can correct structural defects or lead to injuries, depending on the training program and physiology of the victim.

Considerable oil and gas reserves have been found in Khorramabad block, western Iran...

Can someone explain this story? 'Considerable oil and gas' is how it opens but then 'more probable .. gas'? What? Is there oil there or not? Is this new?

NSC -- Very easy to explain as far as what's presented in the story. With respect to how much oil/NG is in this new area the story says absolutely nothing. Terms such as "huge" are at best meaningles and, at worst, intentional propoganda. I don't know much about the Iranian reserve base but the story does offer an interesting kernal: there are 600 TCF of undeveloped NG gas fields in the country. This would tell me that, in general, there is no profit potential in exploring for NG in this new area. If there's no market for what NG is suppose to be proven then there's no need to explore for more. Reading between the lines (more like guessing) the higher probability of NG instead of oil indicates very little profit potential for the Norwegians. And $50 million for a drilling concession is relatively small chump change and indicates a low level of confidence by all parties IMHO.

The Onion strikes again:
Department Of Transportation To Add Earth-Friendly Walking Lanes To Highways (audio)
"...to accommodate millions of new pedestrians, the government will build 280,000 new rest areas..."

I've always found that clicking on the story links is more time consuming than it ought to be. Maybe that's just the slowness of high speed internet in Canada, but there is an appreciable wait time to click back to drumbeat when I'm finished with the story...or I find that the story is not what I want. Or what if I want multiple stories up at once?

If I'm not mistaken, there's a simple HTML fix that creates a new window each time a link is clicked. I think it's called "target = nw". It's inserted right after the "a href" designation. Could this not be applied to all of the links? I think this would help speed things up at the readers' end.

Otherwise, keep up the excellent work!

You brought up a valid point, however you can get around this by holding down the crtl button and click to open the link in a new window and/or tab. On a mac, hold down the Apple or command button and click.

In Firefox just right click on the link, then select "Open Link in new Tab"
Set your options NOT to immediately go to new tab."

Now can someone please tell me how to make it so that when I hit "Next"[ new] it puts it in the middle of the page instead of the bottom?

Personally, I consider that to be poor design, though it seems to be more widely used these days.

The way it is now, if people want to open a link in a new tab or window, they easily can. And if people don't want to spawn a new window, they can do that, too. The current setup leaves it in the hands of the user, as it should be.

Leaving it up to the user also lets them go down the line and open as many new windows as they want. I often browse that way; a habit formed in dialup days. I just right-click on and "open in new window" all the links I'm interested in; by the time I finish reading the first, the others are loaded. Using "target =" means if you click on a second link, it replaces the first. You can't open more than one link at a time.

And if you use Firefox, check out the TabMixPlus extension. It allows you force all links to open in new tabs, if you want.

Thanks for your help. I learn something new every day...especially on this site.

Sorry but I don't buy Jeff Rubin's thesis that more expensive oil is going to kill international commerce. Some time ago I saw an article on that evil site "Peak Oil Debunked" which compared the price of rice shipped with various prices of oil:


Here's the essence of his position:

MYTH: The rise in fuel prices occasioned by peak oil will make it too costly to transport food over long distances. Food production will have to be relocalized. As the peak oilers say: "The 3000-mile salad will be a thing of the past".

REALITY: A kilogram of rice (in Japan, where I live) costs about $3.64. The fuel cost of transporting this rice by container ship, at current fuel costs, over a distance of one-half the circumference of the earth, is about $0.015 (one and a half cents). Ship fuel accounts for 0.4% of the cost of the retail product.

So let's look at how fuel costs for long-distance shipping will affect the price of this bag of rice as oil prices skyrocket:

If crude=$65/barrel, rice=$3.64/kg
If crude=$130/barrel, rice=$3.655/kg
If crude=$260/barrel, rice=$3.685/kg
If crude=$2600/barrel, rice=$3.775/kg

When I first read the article I was dis-inclined to accept it because the site is generally not very good. But I correlated his numbers with shipping costs, shipboard fuel consumption numbers etc. available elsewhere and I think he's right. Anecdotally I recently saw a whole neighborhood full of iron manhole covers stamped "Made in India" You can be sure if they can afford to ship rice and manhole covers today oil will never be too expensive to ship electronics, automobiles, or even flowers.

That applies to ocean shipping. I suspect that ground transportation is where big changes are going to have to take place. But that is primarily because, especially in the U.S., there is such incredible waste in our domestic transportion methods (I almost said system, but there ain't one).

Yes-ocean shipping is so fuel efficient it is ridiculous-like you say, the interior might have issues long term, but the ports will still get the goods cheaply.

Yeah, that's why they built an Erie canal in 1817 instead of an Erie highway.

Adam Smith also does a nice comparison between land and water transport in "Wealth of Nations".

The more things change the more they stay the same.

The people at peakoildebunked might want to add a few greens to their rice salads. Improves the taste and the trace minerals enhance reasoning abilities.

If your cherished ideas can't deal with criticism, they have become theology.

Theology is not "cherished ideas that can't deal with criticism"; it is rather the study of the nature of god and religious truth, or more particularly for deists, agnostics and atheists a rational inquiry into religious questions. But why I bother to tell you this I don't know as it appears that reason and logic are not your strong suits. Doesn't it strike you as even slightly odd that your oracle describes as 'myth' the demise of the 3000 mile salad, and then poses the 'reality' in terms of rice?

For what it's worth, I expect that in the post petroleum era to come, the grains will be carried intercontinentally on the wind.

Last time I looked, most of the meat and veg in the supermarket arrived within 24 hours to a couple of days after harvesting. This did not arrive by ship (unless the world has shrunk whilst I wasn't looking or ships are suddenly much faster).

Some of these arguments are quite clever but a large number of them start by shifting the goal-posts on the sly.

Maybe that's true on your side of the pond. It's not true here in the US. Beef is aged about a week...and is usually frozen after that. Chicken and fish are frozen, too. (They thaw it out before they put in the case.) Eggs may be weeks old. Fruits are kept in controlled-atmosphere storage, and may be sold months after they are picked.

Actually my original post wasn't about food. Rice was used in the example because on a cost/pound basis it is one of the cheaper commodities that are shipped by boat. If you can afford to ship rice with oil at $500/bbl than televisions and computers and shoes will be affordable too.

I disagree, but not so much because of the cost of oil. Because if oil is $500, nobody will have money to spare for TVs and computers.

I do think food might be shipped longer than many people think. Kunstler's probably right about the 1,500 mile salad. Things like lettuce and flowers are shipped by plane, because they are very perishable and very light.

Most food is the US is probably shipped via truck, not water. And rail.

There was a diary discovered a few years ago, kept by a farmer in the 1800s. In Indiana, I think. He was very meticulous about documenting what he did. People were really surprised at how much time he spent each day just pumping water. The other surprising thing was how much imported food he ate. He wasn't wealthy, but he ate a lot of fruits, etc., shipped in by rail.

I think this is an excellent topic for some extended discussion/research? I'm new to the Peak Oil Paradigm but find this site both educational and, at times, entertaining. Over the last 2-3 years I've gone from PO skeptic to 95% or more convinced. I now find the various potential futures very thought provoking. This analysis of one future cost scenario is what I think needs to occur more frequently.

One change that may be one small fix to the problems to come that has recently occured my area, upstate NY, is the start up of a cross-country rail service for produce. Four or five years ago, a company (I believe the name is RAILEX) started a once a week unit train of 50-80 refrigerated rail cars from Washington State to upstate NY. The whole train is driven into a huge refrigerated warehouse and the the produce is distributed by truck regionally. A few years later a second weekly train was added. A year or two ago they added another weekly trip from California and this year added a second. There are now four weekly trains that each replace nearly 250 trucks (1,000 less trucks each week). This significantly reduces transportation costs and will, for at least a few more years allow us to comsume the 3,000 mile salad.

While this is just a drop in the bucket, it's a start and I think shows that there are some solutions out there. It all really comes down to the rate of change. Fast crash, big carnage. Slow crash small and, perhaps, acceptable carnage.

The American public is like a mule - you have to hit them upside the head to get their attention. I believe the public has had a moderate whack and is a bit dazed and slightly confused. It will take several more upside the head to fully get their attention. The final outcome IMHO will depend on wether it's one or two huge ones or a number of moderate ones.

I can't remember who is alleged to have made the quote but it can work for good or bad:

"You can get the American public to do anything if you scare them enough"

If Electric rail (IIRC) has an 18:1 advantage over Road-Trucked loads, I wonder how electric Reefer Train cars fare in a similar comparison to reefer trucks? I would think the advantages would be significant, since a Reefer Truck has to carry and use fuel to run the cooling system as well as to drive, which ought to be more efficient when coming in as off-board electric current to the train.

Reason? Logic? Oracle? Good heavens I didn't take what anyone said on faith. I checked the numbers as I indicated in my first post. His numbers, in that one case, made perfect sense. Usually I disagree with what I read on that site. My post was simply an assertion that, regarding ocean transport, significant increases in fuel costs were not going to be a factor in decreasing international trade. I'd like to see your data, or Rubin's, that refutes that premise.

Well to me theology is about explaining the world with unquestioned "truths" instead of reason and inquiry.

The cost of making the ship would increase. The cost (availability?) of the fertilizer would increase. The bags the rice is shipped in would increase. The cost of transporting the rice to and from the ship would increase. There must be a thousand other things that will increase the cost that I cannot even imagine.

IMO because of ongoing exponential population growth and a lack of adequate amounts of agricultural inputs food will become in short supply, with none available for international trade anywhere.

At some stage there will be world 'peak food' and as ELM applies to anything traded it applies to food just as much as oil - ELM would predict imports of food will rapidly go to zero post peak food. Do not rely on imports of essentials like food and water or energy for your long term survival.

The oil content of a bag of imported rice is much more than one and a half cents shipping cost so jjhman's calculations above are BS. General rule of thumb is 10 calories of FF in every calorie of food - and foods like some sea fish can be MUCH higher than this.

My post was simply an assertion that, regarding ocean transport, significant increases in fuel costs were not going to be a factor in decreasing international trade.

On the margins they might start having somewhat of an impact. We currently do some pretty astonishing things, like shipping recyclables across the pond so cheaper labour can sort them out. So maybe some trade that ships raw materials half way around the world for processing will be affected.

Even land transport can be made much more oil efficient. The most obvious means would be electric trains, but even trucks can move slower, and carry more trailers, and add aerodynamic skirts. I suspect at least 50% reduction in fuel usage per tonmile could be had this way. And thusly we should be able to absorb say $200 oil without humongous changes in our economy (if, of course we use our heads).

From an article posted above about 350 ppm co2:

350 means solving global warming. Simple and direct. If only it were that simple. For starters, we shot past 350 ppm of atmospheric CO2 years ago, and our foot is still on the accelerator. Current measurements of CO2 are around 387 ppm and growing annually. Civilization emerged and, for all but barely the past couple hundred years, flourished with 280 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Does anyone have any idea just how much CO2 composes 10 parts per million? In James Lovelock's book 'The Revenge of Gaia', he explains that the amount we spew each year, that the bioshphere cannot absorb or convert, is equivalent to a huge mountain. So if we make the claim that 350 ppm is the goal, then we would have to remove 37 ppm from the atmosphere, that is if we completely stopped spewing CO2 right now. How would we do that? Well, if we wait long enough the fauna on land and oceans will do that, but that is if we stopped. Right now the World consumes 200 million barrels of fossil fuels a day, comprised of oil, coal and NG. Even if we converted to renewables, that would take a minimum of 30 years. At 2 ppm increase per year that adds 60 ppm which added to the existing level of 387 makes it 447, call it 450.

Now we have to remove 100 parts per million, but also that 450 ppm will cause the arctic tundra from Alaska to Siberia to release its methane and CO2, and we will have 600-900 ppm CO2. At that point the CO2 causes the acidity of the oceans to kill off all the animal and plant life, turning it into a huge pool of algae. The algae builds up until it removes all the oxygen from the water and kills itself, then sinks to the bottom of a dead ocean. Then over a hundred million years techtonic plate movement will bury the algae, compress and heat it up to make oil, coal and NG.

Sound familiar? That's how it works, and by returning CO2 to the atmosphere we are putting in place the exact same circumstances that led to this fossil fuel age in the first place. But at least give us the credit of us 'knowing' (in hindsight) that we ran right past the 3rd base coach with his arms raised high, hands outstretched in a failed effort to stop us at 350 ppm. By golly we know that and that's gotta mean something, right?

This whole climate change topic is unique-almost everyone (from all sides of the debate) agrees that nothing will be done materially to affect the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, effectively everyone should pay a tax to Goldman and a few connected players. It is like the Chewbacca argument posted earlier.

The whole idea is that is not enough to stop at 450 ppm. CO2 concentration most go down after that. If not earth will continue to heat up due to thermal inertia. Also, there is some indication from paleoclimate that long term sensitivity of atmosphere is much higher than short term one.

Since last year, the point brought from half a dozen scientific teams goes at this:"We shall not emit more than trillion of ton of carbon. This means a reduction of 80% of the CO2 production between now and 2050. This is a very bold call, but still doable. But, any year we loose any delay make this objective harder to do, and may well become impossible.