Drumbeat: November 13, 2009

Richard Heinberg - Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society

Perhaps the most significant limit to future energy supplies is the “net energy” factor—the requirement that energy systems yield more energy than is invested in their construction and operation.

THIS REPORT IS INTENDED as a non-technical examination of a basic question: Can any combination of known energy sources successfully supply society’s energy needs at least up to the year 2100? In the end, we are left with the disturbing conclusion that all known energy sources are subject to strict limits of one kind or another. Conventional energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear are either at or nearing the limits of their ability to grow in annual supply, and will dwindle as the decades proceed—but in any case they are unacceptably hazardous to the environment. And contrary to the hopes of many, there is no clear practical scenario by which we can replace the energy from today’s conventional sources with sufficient energy from alternative sources to sustain industrial society at its present scale of operations. To achieve such a transition would require (1) a vast financial investment beyond society’s practical abilities, (2) a very long time—too long in practical terms—for build-out, and (3) significant sacrifices in terms of energy quality and reliability.

US natural gas rig count falls, first time in 4 wks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States fell by six this week to 728, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

It was only the third time in the last 17 weeks that the U.S. natural gas drilling rig count lost ground after bottoming at 665 on July 17, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 gas rigs operating.

MMS Issues Final Offshore Activity Update Following Gulf Storm

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) Continuity of Operations Plan team is concluding its activities related to Tropical Storm Ida. This is the final update of evacuation and shut-in production statistics for Tropical Storm Ida.

Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of 11:30 a.m. CST today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 1 production platforms, equivalent to 0.1% of the 694 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Production platforms are the structures located offshore from which oil and natural gas are produced. These structures remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration unlike drilling rigs which typically move from location to location.

Anadarko-Independence Hub natgas platform ramps up

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anadarko Petroleum Corp said Friday production at the huge Independence Hub natural gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico had ramped up to pre-shut in levels of about 700 million cubic feet per day following Tropical Storm Ida.

First Permits Sought to Drill in Marcellus Shale Deposits

An Oklahoma-based energy company has applied for the first permits to drill for natural gas in Marcellus shale deposits in Western Maryland, the state Department of the Environment said Thursday.

Governmental commission updates Shtokman field estimate

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- The Governmental Commission for Natural Resources has updated the Shtokman field estimate, Gazprom said on Friday.

The field’s C1 reserves amount to 3.8 trillion cubic meters of gas and 53.3 million tonnes of gas condensate or 71% more than the previous C1+C2 estimate.

Bulgaria to get gas from Azerbaijan

SOFIA, Bulgaria—Bulgaria and Azerbaijan signed a deal Friday for the delivery of Caspian gas, which will mark the first easing of Bulgaria's dependence on supplies from Russia.

Exxon, Chevron Likely to Lift 2010 Capital Spending

Oil giants ExxonMobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. are expected to inch up their capital spending in 2010 and continue their massive investments in major projects in an effort to lift production.

The increases, which would come amid an improved outlook of the global economy and hopes of sustained higher commodity prices, would sharply contrast with rival ConocoPhillips' decision to reduce 12% its next-year capital budget. Some analysts said this reduced level of spending will make it difficult for the Houston-based company to maintain production or continue with projects that require intense capital allocation.

Suncor to Spend C$5.5 Billion in 2010 to Boost Output

(Bloomberg) -- Suncor Energy Inc., which bought rival Petro-Canada in August, will spend C$5.5 billion ($5.2 billion) next year, partly to boost production from oil-sands projects such as Firebag.

Chinese Downstream Oil Sector Entering a New Stage of Multi Player Competition

The Chinese downstream oil sector began entering a new stage of development since early 2009, when CNOOC turned its first world-class refinery into operation in Guangdong Province. And Increasing market competition is also opening opportunities to active international oil companies. The new multi player competition scenario will no doubt produce significant influences on the Chinese downstream oil sector.

Petrobras Tupi Well Reinforces Oil-Reserve Estimates

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, said additional drilling reinforced estimates that its offshore Tupi field may hold 5 billion to 8 billion barrels of recoverable light oil and natural gas.

Petrobras, as the company is known, said in a regulatory filing today that it finished drilling its fourth well in the area. The well is in 2,115 meters (6,900 feet) of water and about 265 kilometers (164 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Is Solar Power Expensive or Competitive?

“Solar is cheaper than coal today,” asserts Jigar Shah, the founder of Sun Edison who now heads the Carbon War Room, a new nonprofit group.

This is a provocative statement, given that — as my colleague Matthew L. Wald reported this year — studies by the Electric Power Research Institute and elsewhere show that solar thermal technologies are far more expensive than coal, and photovoltaic rooftop solar panels, in turn, generally produce more expensive electricity than solar thermal.

Nigeria: The good, bad of charcoal

FOR the past two years, Mrs. Salmotu Adigun, who lives in Kurna Asabe, off the Kano metropolis had cooked for her family with charcoal.

Before then, she used kerosene as cooling fuel, but she told The Guardian she packed and put away the stove she was using when the price of kerosene rose beyond her reach.

"We had a stove I used when I could afford to buy kerosene. But about two years ago, the price rose to about N90.00 per litre and I did not have that kind of money. That was when I switched over to charcoal."

Canada wants U.S. on board on climate change

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice said on Friday that the United States and other big greenhouse gas emitters will need to agree on steps to cut emissions, and said Canada would harmonize its policies with its big southern neighbor.

Barter boom: Swapping sex toys for plumbing

BRISTOL, Conn. (CNNMoney.com) -- Short on cash? Join the new old economy and swap.

"There's no recession in barter," said Debbie Lombardi as she navigated the crowd at the Barter Business Unlimited's Annual Business & Holiday Barter Show, held Thursday in Bristol, Conn.

Oil dips to lowest level since October

NEW YORK – Oil slid Friday to its lowest price in a month as investors started to pay more attention to a yearlong slump in American energy demand.

For most of the year, oil prices surged as investors pumped money into crude contracts to protect themselves from a weakening dollar. Oil was thought of as a safe bet with demand expected to rise next year, and crude prices doubled from March to October.

But as the recession wore on, consumers and businesses continued to use less gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products than a year ago. Refiners struggled.

Energy Information Administration data showed this week that refiners are operating at the lowest levels ever — except for years when hurricanes disrupted operations in the Gulf of Mexico — according to analyst Stephen Schork.

"That was a wake-up call," said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest. "People are starting to realize that maybe oil isn't the best hedge against inflation."

Natural Gas Stocks Grow More Than Expected - Natural gas reserve rise to new record high, beating forecasts

Natural gas stockpile levels rose more than expected last week, the government said Thursday.

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas inventories held in underground storage in the lower 48 states grew by 25 billion cubic feet to a new record high of about 3.81 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Nov. 6.

Peak oil: what does the data say?

The controversy over the International Energy Agency (IEA) figures has hightlighted the peak oil debate. What do the numbers say?

Exxon's Tillerson: weak dollar adds $25 to oil

SINGAPORE (AP) - The top Exxon Mobil executive says a weakening U.S$. has added between $20 and $25 to the price of each barrel of crude oil.

OPEC May Keep Output Unchanged at December Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may keep oil production at current levels when it meets next month, the group’s President, Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, said.

The inclination is to leave output unchanged, although “there is a provision” for an increase, he told reporters today in the Angolan capital, Luanda. “This is a situation that, of course, will be discussed” when OPEC meets in December, said de Vasconcelos, who is also the Angolan oil minister.

Banker Seeks to Put a Price on Nature

According to Pavan Sukhdev, a banker working with the United Nations Environment Program, putting a price on the world’s trees, water stores and other natural resources will be the most cost-effective way of tackling the challenges posed by climate change — at least until cleaner energy technologies become available.

Balancing Energy Needs and Material Hazards

BRUSSELS — First Solar should have a bright future doing business in the European Union.

Based in Tempe, Arizona, the company is among the top solar manufacturers in the world. Most of the company’s annual sales of $1.2 billion already are in Europe, where nations have committed to generating a fifth of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

The rapid growth of First Solar is the result of its focus on ultrathin photovoltaic panels that are more versatile than conventional crystalline models. The technology has helped displace the view that solar power could never become an affordable or realistic way of lowering emissions on a large scale.

But these new panels contain a compound of cadmium, an extremely toxic metal already banned from most products in Europe. The compound is made with the element tellurium to create cadmium telluride, which enables the conversion of light to electricity.

Senators Seek CO2 Scrubbing Technology

Senators John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, and Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, have joined in introducing a bill that would establish awards for researchers who develop technologies that can economically extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stash it away.

In doing so, they are potentially upping the ante offered in 2007 by Richard Branson, the aviation and music magnate, for such an advance.

A Hunt for Seeds to Save Species, Perhaps by Helping Them Move

“In 50 to 100 years, because habitats or climates are so altered, we might end up trying to move species in a restoration context, in assemblages of species,” said Pati Vitt, a conservation scientist and curator of the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank at the botanic garden.

The garden is seeking permits to test the concept with the thistle, by pushing it into new, colder territory along the shores of Lake Ontario. “It may be the best test case for moving an individual species outside its range,” Dr. Vitt said.

Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash

ABOARD THE ALGUITA, 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii — In this remote patch of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any national boundary, the detritus of human life is collecting in a swirling current so large that it defies precise measurement.

Light bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice, inhabit the Pacific garbage patch, an area of widely dispersed trash that doubles in size every decade and is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas. But one research organization estimates that the garbage now actually pervades the Pacific, though most of it is caught in what oceanographers call a gyre like this one — an area of heavy currents and slack winds that keep the trash swirling in a giant whirlpool.

For U.S. Military, More Oil Means More Death - Want to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? Save fuel, says a new report.

HOUSTON -- If President Obama decides to send another 20,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, the Department of Defense will also have to figure out how to send along another half-million gallons of fuel a day to support them. Since the end of World War II, the use of petroleum-based fuels has risen 175% to 22 gallons per solider per day. In 2008 U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan burned through 25 million barrels of oil.

It's more than a conservation issue. More fuel consumption correlates directly to more deaths. So asserts a new report by Deloitte Consulting on the military's energy security. "The biggest game changer for reducing casualties is reduction in convoys," says retired Air Force General Charles Wald, the lead author of the report. Fuel convoys are easy targets for roadside bombs, which have accounted for nearly half of American deaths in Iraq and almost 40% of deaths in Afghanistan.

Crude Oil Rebounds From One-Month Low as U.S. Dollar Weakens

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil advanced as the dollar dropped, buoying demand for commodities as an alternative investment to the U.S. currency.

Oil recovered after falling to its lowest in almost a month yesterday as a U.S. government report showed rising stockpiles of crude and oil products. The dollar weakened today to $1.4902 against the euro from yesterday’s close of $1.4850.

Pumped-up prices: $4 per gallon gasoline may be coming in 2010

Gasoline demand down, but the price is up. What's going on here? Well, part of the reason is the price of oil, currently around $80 per barrel. Oil -- boosted by the weak dollar and by likely increasing global oil demand during the economic recovery -- has essentially doubled since hitting a post-leverage boom low of about $35 per barrel a year ago.

The other part concerns the business of refining and the nation's refinery system. With oil prices high and gasoline demand low, the "crack spread" -- basically the difference between what refiners pay for oil and the total revenue received for products created from a barrel of crude -- has been low. That's prompted many refineries to reduce capacity: if a refiner can't earn a decent profit refining crude into gasoline (and other products), the company stops refining it.

Double-barrelled trouble in a triple-digit world

Personally, I don’t see how the end of the 5,000-year Mayan calendar on the winter solstice spells the end of the world. It’s no more ominous than your vehicle’s odometer rolling over to a neat, round number.

I’m more intrigued by the bold prediction that by 2012, the cost of crude oil will hit $225 per barrel — almost triple today’s price of $80. Now that would spell the end of a world.

The coming economic collapse and oil at $200: Are the issues Stephen Leeb raised in his book still relevant?

When Stephen Leeb wrote The Coming Economic Collapse in 2006, few could even attempt to disprove his prophecy of the oil price escalating to $200. Oil escalated to the never-seen before price of $147 last year and Leeb looked more correct than ever.

Oil has now plunged to less than 1/3 of last year's peak and one wonders whether the prophecy of it hitting $200 will ever come true.

No responsible leader can afford to ignore the implosion of US democracy

Our country is utterly dependent upon unlimited supplies of relatively cheap gasoline. Our population is dispersed and the private automobile is essential to personal existence. We say the US worker works to buy gasoline, and buys gasoline in order to work. This syllogism is now fatally compromised.

Peak Oil: Caused by Geology, Politics or Infrastructure Issues?

I started to wonder... if we are indeed entering a period of Peak Oil, is it truly being caused by strictly Supply/Demand numbers, or is there more than meets the eye? There are a few reasons why we could be entering Peak Oil… Here is a closer look...

Dollar-Oil Link Soon to Be Broken? - Saudi Arabia is pursuing new oil trade opportunities at America’s expense

Some oil experts (like Matt Simmons) believe that Saudi Arabia is now beyond peak oil production, or very soon will be. The low-quality crude oil (sour and heavy) coming out of Saudi Arabia would also suggest that its oil fields are approaching exhaustion.

In this context, the Saudis are now attempting to break loose from the way their oil is priced, which is linked to Western institutions’ mechanisms (including West Texas Intermediate, and the New York Mercantile Exchange).

World's top oil producer sees potential in Chinese market

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's robust economic recovery has assured oil supplies and investment from Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil producer, chief executive officer Khalid Al-Falih said Friday.

"There are signs of recovery in oil demand in developing and emerging economies led by the Chinese economy," Al-Falih, also company president, told Xinhua in an interview in Beijing.

Crude Oil Prices at “Extremes” Are Detrimental, Al-Naimi Says

(Bloomberg) -- Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, comments on global oil price volatility. He spoke today at Beijing University, where he was conferred an honorary doctorate.

“While we have been concerned over oil-price volatility and the contribution of other non-fundamental factors to such volatility, we have maintained that price extremes in the low and high ends are not sustainable; they are detrimental to oil producers and consumers alike."

Shell sees rise in Nigeria oil theft

LAGOS (Reuters) - Suspected oil thieves in Nigeria have increased their attacks on Royal Dutch Shell-operated (RDSa.L) oil facilities, the company said on Friday, reporting five separate incidents already in the last three months.

Shell said suspected thieves sabotaged five oil wellheads in the oil-producing Niger Delta since Aug. 14, some resulting in fires. No production was affected since most of the oilfields were already shutdown because of insecurity in the region.

Saudi Arabia Expands Oil, Gas Plants for $100 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, has started to expand and upgrade its oil and gas production and refining business at a cost of $100 billion to tap rising demand in Asia, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said.

“China’s and Asia’s demand are projected to be met mainly from supplies from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states,” al- Naimi said in a speech at Beijing University today.

Saudi Arabia is doubling its domestic and international oil refining capacity by 2015, he said. The kingdom’s current share of refining capacity in China, Japan and South Korea totals 1.32 million barrels a day, Al-Naimi said.

Frontline Says Fujairah Ban to Spur Tanker Scrapping

(Bloomberg) -- Frontline Ltd., the world’s biggest supertanker company, said owners of single-hulled vessels are more likely to scrap their ships after the Port of Fujairah said it would ban them next year.

Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates, is the most common regional refueling point for ships carrying crude from the Persian Gulf. About 90 supertankers, or 17 percent of the global fleet, have single hulls, according to Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay data on Bloomberg.

Crude Oil Futures May Decline on Ample Stockpiles, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil may decline next week as U.S. fuel stockpiles increase and refineries reduce operating rates because of weak demand in the world’s biggest energy- consuming country.

Fourteen of 28 analysts, or 50 percent, said futures will drop through Nov. 20, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Six respondents, or 21 percent, predicted the market will rise and eight forecast little change. Last week, analysts were split over whether oil would rise or fall.

Winter demand won't dent stockpiles

ExxonMobil’s chief sees winter oil demand having a limited effect in reducing a global fuel inventory glut and there needs to be a pick-up in industrial and transport demand to bring stocks back to normal.

Cnooc Not Allowed by Ghana to Bid for Jubilee Stake, Fu Says

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s largest offshore oil producer, said the Ghanaian government hasn’t allowed it to bid for Kosmos Energy LLC’s assets in the African nation.

“We haven’t participated as the government doesn’t allow us to,” Fu Chengyu, chairman of the Chinese energy explorer, said in an interview in Beijing today. Asked if Cnooc has dropped plans to buy Kosmos’s stake in the offshore Jubilee oilfield, Fu said: “You can’t say it that way.”

Natural gas surge, Is it a pipe dream?

Climate change legislation in Congress appears to be based in part on the optimistic view that the United States has a plentiful supply of natural gas and would push businesses to switch to gas from coal, critics say, even before the supply has been secured.

The legislation takes a cue from industry proponents who proclaim the United States has a century's supply of natural gas -- a clean, efficient fuel that could help solve the nation's energy problems -- from climate change to dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

But some environmental groups, scientists and analysts say the industry is raising false hopes, as fracturing techniques for releasing the gas found in shale rock underlying much of the country are not yet proved to be economical or safe, and could contaminate groundwater.

U.S. natural gas supply may dry up within 30 years, T. Boone Pickens says

T. Boone Pickens, who has spent more than a year telling Americans the answer to their energy woes is natural gas, said Thursday the U.S. natural gas supply will probably dry up in about 30 years.

At that point, Americans will have to find some other technology to fuel vehicles, Pickens said during a speech Thursday at the University of Texas at Dallas.

"Natural gas is just a bridge," he said.

Is Peak Oil steeper than we thought?

If the allegations are true, the world's governments have been operating with bad data. Peak oil is a reality, the numbers seem to indicate that we're past the peak, and if we're looking at a steeper decine on the downside we could be in for a global world of hurt. Our lives are built with cheap oil, if prices rise faster than society and technology, particularly of the green variety, can absorb it, many, if not most, of the systems that support our lives could be severly disrupted.

Power Shift: Winners and Losers In the Energy Future, From the IEA

We mentioned yesterday the International Energy Agency’s outline of what the world’s energy future would look like over the next 20 years if it took serious steps to tackle climate change, rather than continuing on a business-as-usual course.

In a nutshell, the IEA’s vision of the next two decades would make T. Boone Pickens crow: Wind power and natural gas are the two big winners under the IEA’s climate-change scenario. In contrast, clean coal and nuclear power—battlehorses of the traditional energy business—might play only a relatively minor role over the next two decades, the IEA says.

Green Energy Investing for Beginners, Part II

The connection between fossil fuel prices and the performance of green energy stocks is tenuous at best. Investors should not expect their solar stocks to go up or down with the oil price. After all, we do not yet have a fleet of plug-in vehicles which might let us substitute electricity from solar for gasoline from oil. Hence, investors motivated by peak oil should stick to green energy sectors which reduce the need for liquid transportation fuels. These sectors include biofuels, hydrogen fuel cells, technologies which make transportation more efficient, and technologies such as batteries which enable the electrification of transport.

How Countries Can Integrate Wind Power Smoothly Into Power Systems

It is easier to balance load and wind production from larger areas. This is because both wind variability and uncertainty will be reduced when geographically diverse power plants are aggregated. Additionally, larger balancing areas also can pool balancing resources. Large open electricity markets combined with intra-day and real-time trading lead to lower electricity costs. This market design also facilitates wind integration, because forecast errors of wind power production are much lower some hours ahead than day-ahead, and forecast errors also decrease when combining distributed wind power plants.

A wide, strong transmission network is a prerequisite for large electricity markets and aggregation benefits to smooth out variability. Increase in interconnection capacity between certain countries is needed in addition to national efforts, allowing stronger trading of (also) wind generated energy. Building the transmission for final amount of wind power will be more cost effective than reinforcing the grid piece by piece. Ambitious wind power targets in Ireland, Denmark, Germany, UK and US already foresee major upgrades in the transmission network. This is challenging, as building permits for new lines are difficult to obtain.

Govt to unveil 20,000 MW solar power plan

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India will soon launch an ambitious plan to boost its solar power generation from 3 MW to 20,000 MW by 2022, the minister for new and renewable energy said on Friday.

"The amount which we are going to talk about is huge. I can only say that much," Farooq Abdullah, told reporters, adding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plans to announce its new policy next week.

Report: Toyota plans bigger Prius with new battery

TOKYO — Toyota is planning a larger version of its popular Prius hybrid, which will be powered by a new kind of battery, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday.

The new Prius, either a station wagon or SUV, is set to go on sale by the end of next year. It will be the first from Toyota Motor Corp. with a lithium-ion battery, which is more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride battery, now in its hybrids, according to the nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper.

Transition Town: It's time to make the change

Among the successful carbon reduction initiatives now in operation under the Transition Town banner are local food groups, garden share schemes, reskilling projects, clean energy collectives and local currency schemes including the Lewes pound and the Brixton pound both of which are accepted by an increasing range of retail chains as well as by independent businesses.

"The transition vision is really about acknowledging that the move towards relocalisation is an inevitability and is also an enormous opportunity.

Inherent within responding to peak oil and climate change is the potential for an economic, social and cultural renaissance the likes of which we have never seen before," Rob told the conference.

Mayfly May Thwart $3 Billion in Coal Mined in U.S. Mountaintops

(Bloomberg) -- Mayflies may seal the fate of mountaintop mining in the Appalachian hills of the eastern U.S.

Companies such as Massey Energy Co. that mine coal there by stripping mountain peaks and dumping debris in streams are being asked by the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time to safeguard the mayfly, one of the oldest winged insects and a bait favored by fly-fisherman.

Groups challenge TVA river discharge from plant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Environmental activists are trying to stop the Tennessee Valley Authority from starting a daily 1 million gallon discharge of water that contains mercury, selenium and other pollutants into the same river where coal ash was spilled at its Kingston Plant.

Brazil stems loss of Amazon rainforest

BRASILIA (AFP) – Brazil experienced the smallest loss of its sprawling Amazon rainforest over the past year in more than two decades, the government said, attributing the change to its tougher environmental policies.

The region, considered the world's "lungs" for its capacity to absorb carbon emissions, still lost 7,000 square kilometers (2,700 square miles) of rainforest between July 2008 and July 2009.

But that was 45 percent less than what was lost during the previous 12 month period to inroads by ranchers, loggers and other human development in the planet's largest expanse of tropical forest, officials said.

The World Energy Outlook report on energy supplies, peak oil and climate change

At 1000 ppm we are essentially guaranteed to experience catastrophic climate change.

The WEO-2009 report recommends massive investments, worldwide, in infrastructure changes and changes to energy usage. These investments are required to avoid not only climate change but also energy security. Transportation system change is perhaps the largest part of that investment, and they recommend a large-scale switch to less carbon intensive vehicles. They describe todays transportation system as 100% internal combustion fossil fuel burning vehicles with a carbon intensity of "205", and to meet the 450 ppm scenario requires a switch to 40% internal combustion fossil fuel vehicles with a carbon intensity of "90".

China’s Drive to Cut Greenhouse Gases Faces Critics

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, faces unlikely critics of its efforts to cut pollution: the U.S. and European Union.

At issue is China’s duty on exported metals aimed at curbing overproduction and emissions of carbon and sulfur gases from furnaces. China’s decision last year to introduce taxes of 40 percent on coke prompted the U.S. and the EU last week to file a complaint to the World Trade Organization, saying the tariffs unfairly inflate prices for overseas buyers.

Warming drives off Cape Cod's namesake

PORTLAND, Maine - Fishermen have known for years that they've had to steam farther and farther from shore to find the cod, haddock and winter flounder that typically fill dinner plates in New England.

A new federal study documenting the warming waters of the North Atlantic confirms that they're right — and that the typical meal could eventually change to the Atlantic croaker, red hake and summer flounder normally found to the south.

Bolivia: Lake Titicaca at dangerously low levels

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Evaporation blamed on global warming has reduced Lake Titicaca, one of the world's highest navigable lakes, to its lowest level since 1949, authorities said Thursday.

Diminished rainfall and a rise in solar radiation have in the past four years led to critically low water levels that now threaten fish spawning areas and plant life, the Lake Titicaca Authority said in a statement.

Warming brings early demise to Bolivian glacier

CHACALTAYA, Bolivia (AFP) – Once home to the highest ski resort in the world and now reduced to a rocky mountainside, Bolivia's Chacaltaya range bears powerful witness to the precipitous melting of glaciers.

The rusting remains of a ski lift now dominate what was once the highest ski-run in the world perched on the Chacaltaya glacier at some 5,300 meters (17,390 feet) high.

Only a snowy ice cap of some 50 square meters (538 square feet) remains of the magnificent Chacaltaya glacier which spread over 1,600 square meters in the 1950s.

U.S. weighs backing interim international climate agreement

Less than a month before negotiators will meet in Copenhagen with the lofty goal of crafting a deal to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration is considering endorsing a limited short-term climate pact and deferring more ambitious action until next year.

The scaled-back strategy is driven largely by the realities of domestic politics: The administration is hampered in making an international deal because Congress has not passed climate legislation. So any global pact would be postponed until next year when it would be constrained by whatever domestic climate legislation Congress enacts.

Haggling over global warming

A deal to trade more nuclear power and offshore oil drilling for a cap on greenhouse gases may go nowhere, but don't rule out even bigger schemes.

Kerry’s green side takes center stage

After a quarter century in Washington, Kerry is emerging as a critical environmental dealmaker. He is leading the US Senate delegation that will try to broker a worldwide climate change agreement and is chief sponsor of a massive global warming bill in the Senate, a measure that was all but buried until Kerry forged an unlikely partnership with Republican Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina last month.

Boreal forests store carbon, need help: Canada study

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The world needs to do more to protect boreal forests and peatlands, which store more carbon than any other ecosystem and help mitigate the effects of climate change, a Canadian report issued Thursday said.

Boreal forests, found in northern areas like Canada, Russia, Scandinavia and parts of the United States, cover 11 percent of the earth and store 22 percent of all carbon on the land surface in soil, permafrost, peatlands and wetlands.

Black Carbon: An Overlooked Factor in Warming

According to some estimates, black carbon may be responsible for as much as 18% of the planet's warming, making it the No. 2 contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, which accounts for 40%. "The world could think that we just cut CO2 and the problem is solved and we all go home, but it's not," says Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climatologist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an expert on black carbon. "That's my nightmare."

Record High Temperatures Far Outpace Record Lows Across U.S.

BOULDER—Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

"Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States," says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting."

Greenland ice cap melting faster than ever

Satellite observations and a state-of-the art regional atmospheric model have independently confirmed that the Greenland ice sheet is loosing mass at an accelerating rate, reports a new study in Science.

This mass loss is equally distributed between increased iceberg production, driven by acceleration of Greenland's fast-flowing outlet glaciers, and increased meltwater production at the ice sheet surface. Recent warm summers further accelerated the mass loss to 273 Gt per year (1 Gt is the mass of 1 cubic kilometre of water), in the period 2006-2008, which represents 0.75 mm of global sea level rise per year.

Invest in nature now, save trillions later: study

PARIS (AFP) – Investing billions today to protect threatened ecosystems and dwindling biodiversity would reap trillions in savings over the long haul, according to a UN-backed report issued Friday.

More than a billion of Earth's poorest denizens depend directly on coral reefs, forests, mangroves, aquifers and other forms of "natural capital" to eke out a living.

Unless world leaders take swift action to halt the accelerating depletion of these resources, the result could be hunger, conflict and environment refugees, the study warned.

Free Range Poultry in New Orleans

with musical accompaniment :-)


Best Hopes for a Smile this Morning, and Sunday Dinner,


We had a free range chicken for diner yesterday. The difference with factory raised chicks is striking: it was much larger (1.5 times), more texture, stronger bones, MUCH better taste. The wings had as much meat as the legs of a factory raised one.

3 times more expensive also.

stronger bones

How did you check that one ?

When preparing whole chicken we use one of these babies to cut it

That's when you find out it's much thougher to get through a free range chicken.

Paulus, that could seem so because of what you also write:

it was much larger (1.5 times)

ironically, the only way for individual consumers to help reduce the price of sustainably produced goods is to keep buying them at high prices.

Don't forget that you get what you pay for, anyways. In this case, more so than in many other cases.

From the moneyweb.co.za link above "Oil has now plunged to less than 1/3 of last year's peak and one wonders whether the prophecy of it hitting $200 will ever come true."

Huh? 1/3 of 147 is 80?

And another glitch in on the articles, that Brasil "stems" rainforest destruction. It's still being detroyed, not left alone, but less fast then before. I've heard (can't recall where) that part of the reason is decline in foodprices, taking away incentive to clear forest.

With math skills like that no wonder Cornucopians don't see future shortages.

More likely, the article was written earlier this year, when the price of oil was around $50.

Why wait until Nov. 13 to publish it?

Who knows. They probably have a stack of articles waiting for slow news days. And business sites often run book reviews at this time of year, on the idea that people might want to buy books as gifts.

Maybe someone figured book reviews were not time-sensitive.

As I recall, those $147 contracts actually settled for just over $120; I could be wrong but I thought there were large amounts of money lost on the $147 and no actual oil ever changed hands at that price.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, But we shouldn't be confusing a future speculation with a trading price even if the public memory is for $147. Anyone have the actual figures?

NYMEX Crude Oil Monthly Price Chart

The data that can be derived here by clicking on the bar for each month. It gives the open on the first day of the month, the high for that month, the low for that month and closing price for the last trading day of that month. It does not give the closing price of the contract. The closing price on June 30, 2008 was exactly $140. The closing price in July, the month of the high, was $124.08.

Ron P.

Here is the data I have for NYMEX Light Sweet Crude Daily Cash Settlement on those few days when it traded over $140. On July 3, 2008 and again on the 11'th and 14'th the spot price was indeed over $145 per bbl, darned close to $147.

Yes, the July contract settled for significantly less than the $147 it was bid up to but oil did trade above $145 in July. I don't have any problems with the $147 quote for futures contract prices as it is so close to the actual spot price on those days.

Date, Open, High, Low, Close, Futures Total Vol, Futures Total OI
20080625, 134.00, 134.00, 134.00, 134.00, 485237, 1287821
20080626, 139.64, 139.67, 139.62, 139.64, 475420, 1296974
20080627, 140.20, 140.23, 140.18, 140.20, 480955, 1301612
20080630, 140.00, 140.00, 140.00, 140.00, 415910, 1285567
20080701, 140.97, 140.97, 140.97, 140.97, 426408, 1294480
20080702, 143.57, 143.57, 143.57, 143.57, 435266, 1296288
20080703, 145.27, 145.30, 145.25, 145.27, 350632, 1296288
20080707, 141.37, 141.40, 141.35, 141.37, 533563, 1312930
20080708, 136.03, 136.06, 136.01, 136.03, 681525, 1316278
20080709, 136.05, 136.08, 136.03, 136.05, 531198, 1332380
20080710, 141.65, 141.68, 141.63, 141.65, 522912, 1333937
20080711, 145.65, 145.68, 145.63, 145.65, 622010, 1356029
20080714, 145.18, 145.18, 145.18, 145.18, 449608, 1320820
20080715, 138.74, 138.74, 138.74, 138.74, 712824, 1344411
20080716, 134.60, 134.60, 134.60, 134.60, 606330, 1309779
20080717, 129.29, 129.29, 129.29, 129.29, 755588, 1280655

"If President Obama decides to send another 20,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, the Department of Defense will also have to figure out how to send along another half-million gallons of fuel a day to support them."

What happened to all the talk about bringing the troops back home?
Before Obama was elected, Pelosi and all Democrats were saying - "Bring home the troops in 6 months". Now they want to send more troops? And waste more fuel? Why don't we just make peace, and park the military for a few years and save fuel?

Bringing troops home applies to Iraq. Or it's supposed to anyway. Not that I see it happening anytime soon..

Bringing them home was from Iraq.
Candidate Obama, 7/21`/08
"For at least a year now, I have called for two additional brigades, perhaps three," he told CBS. "I think it's very important that we unify command more effectively to coordinate our military activities. But military alone is not going to be enough."

Obama has not brought troops home from IRAQ either, and if they do come home, they will then be re-deployed to Afghanistan.
Then IRAN is next.......
What a waste of time, money, and energy.

What happened to all the talk about bringing the troops back home?

What happened was that it was just that - talk

There was an extended piece on our UK Channel 4 TV news last night about the power station gifted to the people of Kabul by the USA. Cost has gone from 129(?) million USD to 300 but the tricky bit is going to be the 25 fuel tanker trucks needed each day to bring in the diesel. Apparently fuel will cost Afghan government about 12% of its revenues, and I think I understood that to mean even when it is run at half power. Any guesses how a place like A'stan is going to pay for this in the short term let alone later on? How can that kind of development conceivably become self-financing?
O dear me - lots for your men in the WH and ours at No.10 to chew on.

India's rebuilding the Kajaki Hydroelectric Power Plant in Afghanistan and work on a new dam on the Kabul River will be more sustainable, affordable and environmentally clean.

Best Hopes for Afghan Hydropower,


What about the drying rivers somewhere in that region ?

Before praising the power from the Kajaki dam it might be useful to understand the political blunders its construction has contributed to the present day situation. Ecologically it is unmitigated folly.

Faced with this the engineers' doubts about the project were buried and forgotten. Massive loans poured in from America and two giant dams were built plus 300 miles of big canals.

But more problems emerged. Everything became waterlogged which led to weeds. Salt kept on suddenly appearing. And the reservoirs and the canals made the water cooler which meant that there couldn't be any vineyards and orchards any longer. In future they could only grow grain.

...more problems that then led to more problems

There was so much water in the ground in some areas that houses and mosques were crumbling into a growing bog. Even worse, underneath the new man-made oases, the engineers had discovered hard rock which made them even more waterlogged. So they had to dig deep bore drains - which removed 10% of the area from cultivation.

...so this then happened

And the new soil was very suitable for a new crop - the opium poppy. It grows well in dry climates and in alkaline and saline soils, and poppy-growing increased massively in Helmand in the 1980s. And with it the heroin trade.


Not to get on my hobby horse, but is the worst thing about that (as your ordering and tone implies) really that some people are getting high on one of the least toxic recreational drugs, second only to marijuana? We'd probably all do better to burn more opium and less oil.

Sorry to get off topic.

I've advocated the legalization of all drugs for over 40 years -- awful heroin wasn't my bias :-) Rather it was 'the little old lady that swallowed a fly' syndrome we seemingly always ignore to our detriment.

Getting high aside as a descendant of Hungarians I grew up eating these... Yummy!

Walnut and Poppy Seed Rolls From Hungary - Makos-dios beigli

I'm not sure where I read this but if true, it costs $400 a gallon for the US military to get fuel on the ground in Afghanistan. So half a million gallons of fuel is just a mere 200 million dollars a day in fuel cost? That's chump change for Ole Uncle Sam.

What happened to all the talk about bringing the troops back home?

Actually from what I've been seeing on the tubes, he isn't convinced about sending still more, and the generals are clearly irritated about that. How it will pan out, we will have to wait and see. But I think the fact that the current strategy is completely unrealistic, and totally unaffordable longterm is gradually sinking in.

Hey this is not related to any current drumbeat stuff, but I thought it would be the best place to ask and I think you guys don't mind.. What in your opinion is the best summary of peak oil/related issues in a one package (web page, PDF, etc.) with sources attached ? I'm trying to educate my local community on these issues and it would be good if I can start from some ready material..


Try this Campbell presentation from 1999, PDF.


“The poor countries of the world will bear most of the burden. But the United States will be in serious difficulties. There is, I think, a strong danger of some ill-considered military intervention to try to secure oil.” C.J.Campbell, December 2000

IMO, it's hard to beat End of Suburbia. A link to the trailer:


Since this was released five years ago, in 2004, it's interesting to note what has happened to world crude production, to the stock market values for the auto, housing and finance sectors, to housing prices and to food & oil prices.

Full Peak Oil movies available here - for a fast learning curve . (Hint : there are Full Screen buttons for all videos)

Crude Impact , this is link to 1 of 10 (2-10 playlist at the right)


Crude - the incredible journey of oil

Here is a general Peak Oil search on youtube - lot's of hits .....

also I see the movie ...

The Corporation is posted.

I have to say that the two books on Peak Oil by Professor Kenneth Deffeyes
are a good start. It explains how the theory of Peak Oil came about. Gives a good feel for the mechanics of oil production.

EB has a list:

Peak oil primers

I've gotten good responses for my video. Many transition groups and some university educators are using it as an introduction to the topic as it covers not just oil but also the responses available to us. Note: I pull no punches. I clearly state in Part 3 that it is unlikely our current economic system with the debt we have will survive declining oil production. If you don't want to show that part, you could always stop at Part 2 and deliver the rest of the content minus the Early Staircase model in person.

Preparing for a Post Peak Life

It has three parts:

  • Part 1 — The Story of Oil (20 min)
  • Part 2 — Rebuttals (10 min)
  • Part 3 — Impact and Response (20 min)

Each assertion I make is sourced below the video players.
I made the video exactly for the purpose you cite, so please let me know if it does not meet your needs.

Edit: BTW, thank you everyone for your comments on version 1.0 of the video. I cleaned up the script on Mexico's decline and with Jeffrey's help added a discussion on ELM. I still haven't included a discussion on declining EROEI, although I'm warming up to the idea for version 3.0, which I'll release sometime in 2010Q1.

Edit 2: The slides are freely available for your use. Just drop me an email. (They are in Keynote format, however, not PowerPoint. I can export them but they will require a bit of cleanup.)


No offense intended; but the opening frames of your video are boring beyond belief.
Nobody is going to sit by and watch.
What sells is an opening scene that captures attention.

Let's script one right here:

Camera is focused on closed doors of an elevator bank. We hear an elevator coming down and the elevator-is-here bell rings.

Doors open.

Inside the elevator is a lone young female, distractingly gabbing on her cell phone.
"I'll call you back in a minute Charlotte, my iPhone battery is on its last bar. I'm going to recharge it in my car."

She steps out of the elevator and looks around, suddenly realizing she is in a desolate underground parking structure with no one around. Background music quickens into a frightened heartbeat. She walks briskly towards her car, high heels of course echoing sharply on the garage concrete floor. She's desperately hitting the remote door-open button on her keychain many times to quickly unlock her car.

New camera angle. She's in her car, trying to catch her breath and turning the engine over.

Well you guessed it by now, the engine cranks but doesn't catch. She's out of gas. But wait, she fishes around for the iPhone recharge plug and realizes (via voice over) she left it in her other car. Now she hears footsteps coming. Lions, tigers and bears oh my! Are you prepared for life without oil?

A little more attention grabbing, aye?

Great ideas...I'll hire you as director for the next one! :-)


People respond to images implanted during time of stress.
It's how our brains work.

The elevator pitch is about more than just sex, fear and suspense.
It gives you a chance to implant a moving image about going down. About descent.

You keep replaying the elevator going down panel.
You replay the parking level reminder sign: You are here SubBasement 2
And then you flash a new picture into the viewers head:

It depends on who you are talking to.

I like the executive summary of the Hirsch report. Its concise, authoritative, and reasonable. It doesn't make any claims as to when oil will peak or any doomer predictions of unspeakable peril. IMO its a good 'icebreaker' to broach the subject with resistant folks. You can get the report here: Hirsch report.

You might also use the GAO report for more or less the same reasons.

Be gentle. Your are about to seriously damage some paradigms.

I'm still a big fan of ROBERT BÉRIAULT slide shows:

Left click on the image to link to his page

I get a sick feeling that Andrew Hilton is probably right:


It's probably usless to say that we need to admit that the economy is in bad shape before we can begin to fix it.

Does "fix it" mean putting it back to the way it was two years ago?

Or "Fix It", as in stop buying crap you don't need and only buying locally.

Unfortunately, neither option will fix what is currently referred to as The Economy as the former can't work for very long and the latter will take decades away from growth.

Is there another option?

Economy from the Greek word oikonomos, derived from oikos, "house," and nemein, "to manage."

To fix it requires getting rid of the current management(the sooner the better!) because it has become too far removed from the reality on the ground. They have no stake in, or accountability for the consequences of their actions.

They must be replaced with local smaller management teams who have a direct stake in the welfare of their communities and are directly accountable for their decisions. If the crops fail they don't eat and they are then chopped up to be used as bait ;-)

It is well past the time to start putting our "house" in order.

The FHA is propping up the housing market, but it's running out of money:

Cash cushion shrivels - U.S. housing agency

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The mortgage meltdown has ravaged the finances of a crucial government agency tasked with propping up the housing industry.

The Federal Housing Administration's reserve fund has dropped to .53% of its insurance guarantees, well below the 2% ratio mandated by Congress and the 3% ratio it had last fall, according to its annual independent audit, released Thursday. The fund covers losses on the mortgages the agency insures.

Wal-Mart Executives: There Are Families Not Eating at the End of the Month

This line by a Wal-Mart executive will take it's place as a candidate for quote of the year

There are families not eating at the end of the month,” said Stephen Quinn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Walmart Stores, and “literally lining up at midnight” at Wal-Mart stores waiting to buy food when paychecks or government checks land in their accounts.

And yet, CNBC keeps running stories about how the holiday season is going to be better than expected for retailers.

From your FHA link:

The agency, however, has also seen a spike in delinquencies amid the mortgage meltdown. Some 14.42% of FHA loans were past due in the second quarter, up .58 percentage points from the same period a year earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Just under 3% of FHA loans were in foreclosure, up .22 percentage points.

I just heard on CNBC that the level of delinquencies is now up to 17.9%.

Also at your link there is a great 5 minute video of an interview with Elizabeth Warren. Well worth watching. It is titled Foreclosure fix not working.

Your Wal-Mart link, very sad, makes me want to cry. It almost overwhelms one's psyche when you consider it will only get worse, a lot worse.

Ron P.

I've seen the end of the month lines at Costco too - I asked one of the checkout ladies about it one day - she said it's also the day coupons expire.

I've gone over to shopping for locally made products/grown foods whenever I can...
I try to reduce my electricity usage by operating in daylight hours whenever I can and sleeping when it's dark outside... (my TV is just a static piece of decorative furniture ever since the digital conversion).

Any suggestions on other lifestyle changes one can do...?

More bicycling and walking are always good :-)

Energy Star appliances (Clunkers for Cash, Appliance version coming in a couple of months). I use an Apple Mac Mini with LED monitor and corded mouse & keyboard (total ~90 watts).

Using the microwave more and stove less

More insulation and weatherstripping (don't forget gaskets behind switches and outlets)

Check ducts for leaks (a BIG one !)

Raise a garden and plant fruit and nut bearing trees, bushes and vines.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


I can get my Mini/monitor/USB peripherals to spike up to 90 watts, but it's hard to keep it there. Most of the time it hangs at about 65, and if I get up and walk away for a few minutes so that more parts get powered down it drops to about 25. 33 of the 65 is the monitor; my older smaller monitor only drew 17, but gosh, it's nice to put up the equivalent of two 8.5x11 pages on the screen at the same time and be able to read them. All power figures measured with a Kill-A-Watt.

I have to wonder sometimes if we'll slide back down the scale of computer "progress" as energy becomes more dear. I'm old enough to be comfortable with a computing environment that needs a lot less memory and CPU cycles; based on experience over the years, I can probably do all of the "important" things on a netbook with no rotating disks that draws 15 watts or less. Of course, even today I'm still more comfortable writing something big and technical with a text editor and a mark-up language than I am with a WYSIWYG product, so I'm almost certainly not typical.

Grow your own food (convert said TV to an aqaurium to raise fish, practice aquaponics), start harvesting rain water, dry clothes on lines, etc.

I have 2 beehives that not only provide me hours of entertainment, and a honey crop, but beeswax too. I can make my own candles, so I'm not limited by sunrise and sunset.

btw : you can also buy solar lanterns that you can charge by day, and turn on at night.

I do think it's great to shop for locally produced products, although, right now, I find that is generally limited to food. We have a couple of local artisans that make wood products, do metalwork, produce wool, even make shoes. I'm noticing that hand-made, local products like that are very expensive. Hopefully, though, they will last a long time.

"any other suggestions"??

I try to buy things in recycle shops or thrift shops. You can resew the items or change them or use them in a different way. I once bought a few glass ashtrays and now I use them as mini greenhouses by covering pots of seedlings with them in Feb. and March. You can buy old balls of yarn and use them to fix socks. Use old clothes to patch sheets, etc. Get some wire and some twigs in the woods and you can make a laundy hanger to dry wet clothes. I am having fun pretty much weaning myself off of buying anything new except for food. Everything can be fixed. Wire is very useful for fixing old rakes or a bike basket. I sewed a button on an umbrella to fix it, that was really fun and it looks a little different from everyone else`s umbrella now. I fixed rubber boots with a bike tire-repair kit....

If you have some animals that eat grass you can start now to pull grass from land that doesn`t belong to you, like along edges of roads, outside vacant houses, parking lots, etc. Give this grass to your bunnies or guinea pigs or goats and then collect their manure and enrich your own soil for free. Collect fallen leaves from the road and compost them in your garden.

Cut your own hair (it is really easy!). Don`t buy snack foods, buy things that aren`t processed (buy flour and make little pancakes or buy rice and make rice pudding.) A pressure cooker saves money by reducing cooking times a lot. And no more vacuuming...use a broom.

Of course if you can get rid of your car (if you have one) then that is numero uno as far as I`m concerned. But that is not possible everywhere I realize.

For fun, reread old classics (or any books) that you like. Then you don`t have to buy new books. Bring lunch to work, instead of buying it.

Economizing is such a fun challenge. I don`t miss the old days at all.

" you don`t have to buy new"

is the most important part , even if buying a car ! OK don't buy a car but most important bit - don't buy new.

It'll also drive the Gov. crazy because you can also avoid a lot of taxes that way as well...........

and it will skew the GDP figures as the economy goes underground, er, perhaps the Gov will ban second hand goods?


I suspect that money will be entirely replaced with digital money, and alternative currencies will be illegal. Barter will probably be illegal too, and this will be explained as a necessary measure to keep you safe in the war on drugs/terror. You will be able to buy something second hand using a smartphone, but only after paying tax.

I've noticed an increasing trend in news stories recently where the term "Peak X" is used much more frequently.

For a long time "Peak Oil" seemed to be the only version of this phrase. But recently the phrase seems to be popping up about other commodities. Yesterday there was an article about "Peak Gold" (from a link on TAE):

At RBC's annual gold conference in London, Regent noted that "There is a strong case to be made that we are already at 'peak gold.'" Regent believes that production peaked around 2000 and has dropped ever since, he adds that Barrick Gold believes the decline will continue because "It is increasingly difficult to find ore."

I'm not a gold bug, but I thought that the increasing frequency of the "Peak X" phrase shows that civilization is becoming aware that things can Peak.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Today from Heading Out: Looking back at Peak Global Production of Gold - yesterday

A vintage copy of Limits to Growth just arrived yesterday. Haven't read but a few pages but there's much familiar language, terms I've seen in posts here.

When will we hit "Peak Peak"? A doomer friend likes to sarcastically remark that it's "been canceled." Peak oil, recession, you name it. You might have fun with the Google News Archives, which display timelines for your entry - a representation of a meme's use on the macro scale, perhaps. Haven't seen anyone rigorously analyze this.

I think people understand that things will change (Peak Oil, Peak Soil, Peak Gold, Peak Horse and Buggy), but they also are convinced a better alternative for each of these things is around the corner.

The first point, they agree with ("we won't be using X forever..."), but even consider going on to the next ("and life will be very difficult, if even possible..."), and you've lost them.

Was playing around with BP data and came up with this chart:


% Change YOY of OPEC/Non-OPEC/World. What stands out first to me is that in the early 80s, with world production retracting and OPEC's fairly going through the floor, you still saw robust build in non-OPEC in a more regular pattern than OPEC are evincing now. Non-OPEC are quite obviously in decline.

Another striking aspect is that OPEC seems to have only taken the occasional 1 or 2 year holiday in the past, with contractions in production being anomalous and brief, yet the last decade looks much more spartan, with a great burst for '04/'05 but rather anemic contributions now. In fact I bet a running average drawn through the OPEC production curve over time would show a clear trend down - this does show up on world production, I will take a crack at this later. Also it would be interesting to plug in Wiki data on Megaprojects and see what Manifa etc do for their status.

It is easier to balance load and wind production from larger areas.

This is quoted all over the place but is it true? Anyone know of any credible sources for how to deal with huge slew rates with wind?

I was quite heartened to see the Spanish headline from The Times:

High winds across Spain on Sunday meant that for over five hours, over 53 per cent of the country’s power came from wind energy. The towering white wind turbines which loom over...

but that immediately made me think what the other extreme (0% ??) was like...

UK power is traded in half hours:

Participants notify the system operator (National Grid) of how much electricity they plan to generate and demand each half hour no later than one hour before the start of each half hour block of electricity is created or used. In the hour before the electricity is generated or demanded National Grid prepares to balance the predicted level of output and demand for the half hour block.

Do wind variations make it compatible with this or does this only work with large amounts of pumped-hydro to offset variations (aka D Mackay)?

A lot of work has been done on this. From an Oxford study on the UK

... the most likely change in power output from a diversified wind power system from one hour to the next is less than +/- 2.5% of the total installed wind power capacity (this takes into account the power characteristics of wind turbines with changing wind speeds). Over the longer term, around 99.98% of all hourly changes in wind power output from a diversified system will be less than +/- 20%.


In other words, most of the time less than + or - 2.5% change in output and never more than + or - 20%. Not stated here is these changes are largely predictable, and prediction is getting better.

A dissertation at the Univ. of Michigan makes the point that, at high wind penetration (% of the grid) diversity in generation patterns is more important than max. MWh generated by wind.


An issue soon in Texas. ERCOT would like more WTs in South Texas, where winds are "sea breezes", very predictable morning and afternoon breezes due to land heating & cooling faster than water vs. West Texas where the wind transfers heat between the Arctic Ocean & Gulf of Mexico. But West Texas WTs generate more power.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind,


Thanks for the references - I will take a look.

Err ... "Arctic" Ocean? I know very little about air pressure patterns and overall trends in the troposphere. I know there are some startling wind resources elsewhere, for example in N Africa and Red Sea and in NW China.
best hopes for more wind powered electric rail etc

Check out the Minnesota Wind Integration Study

They found that there was no significant change to the spinning reserves required for up to 20% wind generation. Also, as the windshed expanded, the reliability increased (even though it was only the region around Minnesota).

Also has estimates of costs for incorporating wind power.

Not directly energy related, but a good example of how those in power are playing the rest of us for fools - ever wondered why the UK gov was sucking up to Libya??


To those not into UK politics 'Labour' means the party in charge at the moment...

The Implications and Fallout of the IEA "Leaks"

  • Comments on Guardian article: “Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower”

    I am not surprised that some within the IEA have leaked this news. Rather, it is astonishing that this has not become known earlier. (See the article in the Guardian: Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower.)

    The article ”The Peak and Decline of World Oil and Gas Production” was published as long ago as 2003 in the scientific journal Minerals and Energy – Raw Materials Report by Kjell Aleklett and Colin C. Campbell (Volume 18, Number 1, 2003 , pp. 5-20[16].) It was the first “peer reviewed” article to discuss Peak Oil.


The Movie Chevron Doesn't Want You to See

The movie is Crude. The movie trailer can be viewed at this link.

I'd already read the infuriating story of Chevron-Texaco's contamination of millions of acres of Amazonian rainforest, and one man's battle to bring them to justice, in Vanity Fair's May 2007 Green Edition. But Berlinger's film brings this story to life in a way that written words cannot. CNN's Christiane Amanpour calls the movie "an extraordinary merging of journalism and art." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Ron P.

Not arguing that Texaco didn't spill a lot of oil on the ground all those years ago when they were operating down there. I've never seen an operator care about protecting the environment beyond what the regulators required. I don't know what the regs were down there when Texaco was producing but I'm pretty sure any thought to environmental protection was completely absent....by both Texaco and the gov't. No one spends a penny they don't have to. But a simple fact: oil does not last once it's dumped on the ground or in the water. It biodegrades. If Texaco had dumped 10 million bbls of oil into the Amazon Basin back then you couldn't film one drop of it today. There may be horrible oil pollution down there today. And it would all have been caused by the gov't oil company. No less a crime but a different criminal.

But a simple fact: oil does not last once it's dumped on the ground or in the water. It biodegrades.

Then why does the NOAA say that there are still 26,000 gallons of crude oil contaminating the shore near Valdez? It's been twenty years.

There's still tar on the Santa Barbara coastline too. Sure, the oil biodegraded - to tar.

Things keep better in cold places.And iirc you have to actually look for that oil by turning over rocks , etc.

26,000 gallons would be a miniscule portion of the original spill of course.It is likely you would have a hard time spotting oil still on the top of the ground many years after a spill in the tropics where it is hot and rainfall is plentiful.

Just a guess on my part but it could be oil that soaked into the soil (away from oxygen and bacteria the oil will last longer) and is perhaps periodically released. Also, as someone pointed out that volume is rather insignificant... probably just a small fraction of one percent of what was spilled. I would bet more oil then that is leaked from the local fishing fleet annually.

As I said, I have no doubt Texaco polluted the hell out of the region back in the day. It would have just been BAU for them. Unfortunately it was done with the approval of an equally uncaring local gov't. Texaco should have been severly punished back then. But now I see it as not much more then extortion. And, as some else also pointed out, the NOC has been recognized for many years by various environmental groups as one of the worst polluters in the western hemisphere. But not much money can be made suing yourself.

But a simple fact: oil does not last once it's dumped on the ground or in the water. It biodegrades.

I don't think it's that simple. See, here, for instance.

Peak oil,

The oil doesn't have to biodegrade (although a lot will especially over many years) to simply be dispersed by evaporation , running water, and soaking into the soil and being covered by organic detritus such as wind blown leaves.

Personally I always think the odds are high that any company is lying if questioned about a clean up mess-but having spent a lifetime outdoors and seen repeatedly what nature does in terms of simply hiding things from view-

I do not doubt that any pictures RECENTLY taken of oil on the ground surface that was supposedly spilled decades ago are faked.

I spend a lot of time reading history and there is very little doubt that govts are quite as capable of lying as oil companies and banks.

Corruption is a way of life in South and Central America.

Anybody who believes otherwise is seriously uninformed.

I believe we should all cut Gail a little slack here-she never hid the fact that her expenses were paid.

Why are we all so SURE of the truth?

Personally if God were to announce a press conference for tomorrow revealing the truth I would as soon bet on either side if somebody would give me odds.

Dilution is the solution to pollution?

In most cases - yes.

You have to remember that most of the things you are seeing in Ecuador a Petroecuador problems. They are huge polluters. If you are the government of Ecuador, and there is no way you can get money from Petroecuador, you look for someone else to blame.

Gail took a trip to Ecuador paid for by API, and got all the spin from the US oil industry.

Just the Facts,


That and the fact that these legacy problems came before Chevron owned/ran them They were assured that they weren't purchasing the environmental liabilities of the previous owners. Now maybe if they had done better due dilegence they would have seen that bargain wouldn't be upheld. But for all my dislike of Chevrom (mainly because they are corporate freeloadersin California), in this case they are hapless victims.

I believe the previous owner was Texaco, which Chevron bought lock, stock, oil wells and environmental liabilities.

The Chevron-Texaco deal was a merger of equals that about doubled the size of Chevron-Texaco (as they were known as for a while). (Not too different from the HP Compaq merger or America West & US Air merger).

IMO Chevron-Texaco bears *ALL* the liability of Texaco and Chevron_Texaco is the legitimate successor to both "old" Chevron & Texaco.

Chevron today is NOT the hapless victim, it is the merging of "old" Chevron and Texaco. The name today could have just as easily been Texaco (America West bought US Air and then took the US Air name for the merger airline).

Best Hopes for Corporate Responsibility & Liability,


Tomorrow, Nissan is starting its tour to show its new electric car, the Leaf that should come to the market next year in the USA.
I was considering to go to the one in San Diego on Nov 20-21 but probably won't bother since I do not intend to buy one in the forseable future. But at least things are slowly moving and its good that some large companies are getting serious about electric cars even if it won't be enough to maintain BAU at the end.

Desdemona Despair has this pithy summary today:

What have we learned in the last year? Here are some highlights:

Microbe-dominated dead zones and lifeless deserts are spreading rapidly throughout the oceans.
Desertification is converting most productive land to wasteland.
The transition from forest to desert happens rapidly, by mega-fires.
Most charismatic megafauna species will be extinct in the next decade or two.
The “methane bomb” has already detonated.
The Arctic permafrost is already melting.
Large areas of Earth are likely to become uninhabitable to animals and plants.
Sea level will continue to rise for centuries.
God will not intervene.

Because “God” will not spontaneously remove a trillion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and oceans, there are only three strategies that humanity can pursue: (1) gain control of the global carbon cycle; (2) learn how to colonize the much more desolate Earth, or (3) choose extinction.


Do you think it's hyperbole? A decade ago I would've agreed. Today this vision looks inescapable to me.

These are the really important issues - far more so than peak oil or economic or political crisis. Hyperbole? I dunno, but if I read those points I don't really find anything to argue with. When I read DD it makes my blood run cold, and it's why I say that no peak oil would be much worse than peak oil.

Wake up sleepy head
I think the suns a little brighter today
Smile and watch the icicles melt away and see the water rising...
Summers here to stay, and those sweet summer girls will dance forever
Go down to the shore, kick off your shoes, dive in the empty ocean.

Dave Matthews Band; Dive In

"Do you think it's hyperbole?"


That was painful! Melting icecaps and methane release breached my threshold for bad news after 15 minutes. Very sobering, must get beer to compensate.

Good grief, first New Brunswick and now PEI.... where will it end?

Hydro-Québec eyes PEI power deal
Quebec Premier Jean Charest confirms talks under way; comes weeks after swallowing N.B. utility

Quebec Premier Jean Charest confirmed that talks were under way toward a possible energy deal with Prince Edward Island and argued Friday that such an agreement would benefit the entire region.

The announcement in a speech to a U.S. audience came two weeks after Hydro-Québec swallowed up New Brunswick's power utility in a controversial, multibillion-dollar deal.

Speaking at an energy conference in Boston, Mr. Charest said a deal would create a stronger energy market in eastern Canada. He said Quebec, New Brunswick, and PEI were holding three-party discussions.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...


Hydro-Quebec has 25 GW of hydroelectric# it wants to develop. Captive customers (who might otherwise buy Newfoundland Hydro) are a good thing !

Best Hopes for more Hydro,


# Much of this is on the other bank of the Gulf of St. Lawrence from NB & PEI.

Hi Alan,

Electricity demand in the Province of PEI (population: 120,000) is quite modest at about 1.2 TWh a year, which is less than one per cent of Hydro-Québec's domestic sales. So, as you can appreciate, not a huge market opportunity here -- a flea on the back of an elephant. Besides, H-Q can sell this same power to U.S. utilities and earn double the return, so why bother? [Well, we both know why.]


Why We Shouldn't Give Christmas Gifts

What's your objection to Christmas and holiday spending?
My objection is that the holiday spending doesn't result in very much satisfaction. Normally if I spend $50 on myself, I'll only buy something if it's worth at least $50 to me. But if you buy something for me, and you spend $50, since you don't know what I like, and you don't know what I have, you may buy something I wouldn't pay anything for. And so you could turn the real resources required to make things into something of no value to me. And that would destroy value.

Perhaps most interesting was this bit:

In the U.S., about $65 billion a year is spent on holiday gifts. There's been this giant [holiday season] bump in retail sales in the U.S. going as far back as statistics are available, back to the 1920s and '30s. In fact, as a share of the size of the economy, the spending has gotten smaller over time. Our fathers' and grandfathers' Christmases were a bigger deal than ours.

Bah-Humbug! Gift giving is a nice way to be nice... it's also fun.

It's also traditional in many cultures (from Ancient Rome to the Pre-Columbian Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest).

It's a nice way to say that you're thinking of someone.

It's a socially acceptable way to be playful.

Perfect way to get rid of things that you are emotionally attached to.

Great way to recycle.

Wonderful way to show respect for craftsmen and artists.

Great way to keep people busy.

You might get a free dinner out of it.

Oh yeah, definitely. Being so playful and ruin the environment in the process is what our planet Earth desperately needs right now... :P
Good that I scrapped the whole Xmas thing long time ago... Being together with family is nice, of course and I like that part, but buying needless stuff is out of question. Retailers can go and cry in their pillows cuz their sales are so low *says in mocking voice*, but I won't be sorry for them that's for sure. They are contributing to all this mess and aren't willing to stop when asked politely, so now hopefully they'll be forced by people's inability to buy stoopid things no one really needs.
That them retailers will go bankrupt..? I say, good riddance! :D

I totally agree. I think the real issue is that we must NOT be content to buy and give out crap. Making things, being creative and thoughtful.. these are not the problem we have to get away from.

We have to get off of our addictions, away from our habits of overindulgence.. we have to figure out how to be CONSCIOUS consumers, not Habitual Horders..

Christmas is not about presents or keeping up with the Joneses.
I'm a curmudgeon. In fact, I am an irascible curmudgeon, which of course is the best kind. But I constantly fool around with twisted concepts and wordplay, and my stepsons quickly got used to me asking them questions about words, what they mean, where they came from, how to use them, changing the words of the songs on the radio, etc. The first Christmas after their mom and I got married, I gave the older boy a serious dictionary, and the younger one got some fluff present, I forget what. When younger son saw that his older brother was fascinated by his huge new dictionary and all the new words, he asked if he might have his own dictionary someday...my wife just about fainted.

But I constantly fool around with twisted concepts and wordplay, and my stepsons quickly got used to me asking them questions about words, what they mean, where they came from, how to use them, changing the words of the songs on the radio, etc.

I can relate to that as I come from a family of polyglot punsters. Though in the case of my own son he is much more interested in logic and math. Not that I'm complaining mind you ;-)

Let's not forget the mountains of gift wrap, that just end up in the trash.

"As much fun as wrapping paper can be, it is also a wasteful part of gift giving. As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods. Also, wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the U.S."


With regard to Richard Heinberg's article, the Pelamis wave power device is Scottish, not Portuguese. The company has its headquarters in Edinburgh.

A Pelamis device has been installed off the coast of Portugal.

Th University of Edinburgh has been conducting research into wave energy for over 30 years originally in response to the oil crisis of the 1970's and led by Stephen Salter perhaps most famous for Salter's Duck - a wave energy device.

The UK Wave Energy program was terminated in the 1980's in suspicious circumstances. The following quote is from this link.

According to sworn testimony before the House of Parliament, The UK Wave Energy program was shut down on March 19, 1982, in a closed meeting,[10] the details of which remain secret. The members of the meeting were recruited largely from the nuclear and fossil fuels industries, and the wave programme manager, Clive Grove-Palmer, was excluded.

An analysis of Salter's Duck resulted in a miscalculation of the estimated cost of energy production by a factor of 10,[11] an error which was only recently identified. Some wave power advocates believe that this error, combined with a general lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy in the 1980s (after oil prices fell), hindered the advancement of wave power technology.[12]

Re: ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society

The report explores some of the presently proposed energy transition scenarios, showing why, up to this time, most are overly optimistic, as they do not address all of the relevant limiting factors to the expansion of alternative energy sources. Finally, it shows why energy conservation (using less energy, and also less resource materials) combined with humane, gradual population decline must become primary strategies for achieving sustainability.

You have to admire Richard Heinberg for raising a topic that is taboo but I have to know: What is humane, gradual population decline?

I think there is a rising consensus among elites in the developed world to allow over-populated undeveloped countries to starve (e.g. Kenya)in order to bring their numbers down. What are they proposing to do with an over-populated, literate middle class that will soon demand equity? WTF! Are they going to let us have a say in this?


Unfortunately, asking for humane, gradual population decline is like asking financial institutions to self-regulate.

There are a few things I'd like to see :-

1. Stop use of fertility aids including shark fin, rhino horn, tiger testicles, the blue pills and artificial fertilization
2. Insist religious organizations change their stance about "being fruitful and multiplying" and start encouraging family planning
3. Stop paying child subsidies and tax credits for children
4. Stop allowing drugs of any kind to be advertised in mass media
5. Allow terminally ill people (and anyone else who wants to) to apply for voluntary euthanasia

Yeah, I know...this isn't humane or gradual, there are 100 counter-arguments, and the chances are slim to none...

Every "humane" technique to reduce human population eventually gets around to eugenics and some sort of Final Solution.

What are the inhumane techniques: Starvation, pandemics and war.

I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. Revelation 6:2


I disagree. Gradual population decline is already occurring in Japan and much of Europe.

Most societies had traditional ways of controlling population growth that did not involve extermination camps.

The problem is that currently, countries with shrinking populations see it as a problem that needs to be fixed, rather than a solution. I think that's what Heinberg is trying to address.

Here's a link (pdf file) to population data from 1999 to 2000 from the UN. Granted, it is out of date.


Broadly, it shows the following :-

Asia - increased overall, including Japan
Africa - increased overall
Europe - decreased overall, largely due to Eastern Europe, except Poland - South, West and North increased
Latin American & Caribbean - increased overall
Oceania - increased
North America - increased

Possibly some of the decrease in Eastern Europe is due to migration rather then lowered fertility. I do think Japan and Russia are cases where population is falling due to lowered birth rates. Together they only account for about 250 million people though - about 4%.

Yes, the world population is still increasing. No one is denying that.

But the rate of increase has leveled off, and population is actually shrinking in countries like Japan and Italy. Countries where lack of food and migration cannot be blamed.

If it's possible in those places, it's possible everywhere.

You're more optimistic than I am ;)
The question is, can we do it in time, by "natural" means? I think not, based on the trends...

That depends on how much time we have. I think it's looking more and more like it won't be a fast crash. We're getting the "Greater Depression" scenario - what Sharon Astyk called "the brother-in-law on the couch version of the apocalypse." Many people would undoubtedly prefer Mad Max. ;-)

In any case, governments tend to see shrinking population as a problem, and try to devote resources to fixing it. Everything from tax credits for large families to pushing for more immigration. One politician in Japan even proposed cutting off social security for women who have not had at least one child.

At the very least, we should stop trying to increase the population, just to keep the Ponzi scheme going.

We have a pretty good idea that oil from all sources will peak within the next 5 years, coal within the next 30 - 35 years, a long list of minerals within the next 50 years.

We are almost at 7 billion. Some writers have indicated that the carrying capacity of the earth is about 2 billion.

Using a reverse growth calculation, if population was falling at 1% per year, it would take about 70 years to halve the size of the population, 3.5 billion. It would take another 70 years, at that rate, to get below carrying capacity, 1.75 billion.

Ok, carrying capacity is debatable, but if we reduce population at *just* 1% per year globally, 70 million people, we are looking at 140 years to reach carrying capacity based on the resources we have *now*.

In 140 years, we'll have a whole lot less of everything than we have now.

To reduce the population from 7 billion to 2 billion in 35 years, we'd need a reduction of around 4% per year. 4% per year is equivalent to around 280 million people every year.

I don't see how we can do that without a pandemic or massive starvation.

I think we have longer than 35 years.

A lot of our resource use is not necessary. And I think when push comes to shove, governments will make sure what oil there is goes to guns or butter.

I have one son. Plan to keep it that way. Doesn't get any simpler than that. However, of the ten of us only six have reproduced, but there are seventeen grandchildren because the other five had 3, 4, 4, 2, and 3 each. To be fair, they were all before much of the general public was aware of any of this.

Given there are societies that do make choices to manage population, it obviously can be done. It's a simple matter of educating people as to reality. At some point, there need to be penalties for those that intentionally mislead the public and policy makers, after all, they are responsible for massive amounts of destruction. As long as they are allowed to spread misinformation for their own selfish ends, consensus based on fact won't be possible.


Religious organizations have very little effect on birth rates in prosperous countries-Ireland and Poland are Catholic as you can get and both have way below replacement birth rates in spite of the Pope.All the Protestant fundamentalists I know of in the states except a couple of extremely small splinter groups are having very few children-my born and bred and baptized and saved extended family is having children at way below replacement rates-I know this for sure after talking to the girls today who keep up with this sort of stuff better than the guys.

I can't see any way around the priests and preachers and mullahs in poor countries other than licking thier butts into the twenty first century-and we are sort of tied up at the moment doing that already in a couple of places.It doesn't seem likely we will finish up there anytime soon.

Maybe the best way to get women to have fewer children in the third world is to buy them all televisions and let them watch soap operas-the current evidence seems to be that they emulate thier soap opera role models and have fewer children.

My personal ideas include using some of our bombers to drop birth control pills by the plane load (lots of women would find them ,hide them and take them) and to develop a drug that induces temporary sterility -say for five years-that would be added to all food distributed under relief programs.

You eat it, you don't have a baby for quite a while.

I haven't seen any better ideas put forth.

It sounds pretty mean but otherwise a woman starving today will have another baby next year if the rains return.Malthus must be rolling in his grave laughing at the cornucopians.

The fact that we can transport food easily nowadays does not at all detract from his wisdom-it just postpones the day of reckoning.

I always thought contraceptives could go in the drinking water - like fluoride. We are already inadvertently ingesting a hormone soup in our drinking water, so we may as well put that to good use.

U.S. natural gas supply may dry up within 30 years, T. Boone Pickens says.

Clarification: T. Boone Pickens is quoted below as saying the U.S. has 20 to 30 years of natural gas until the country must shift to other transportation technologies. To clarify, Pickens meant other technology will be developed in 25 to 30 years, though the country has enough natural gas to last a century.

is pickens that far out of it ?

if we are to believe, other technology will be developed in 25 to 30 yrs, it makes a 65 yr life ung well irrelevant, doesn't it ?

I looked at the article Groups Challenge TVA Discharge Plan

What shocked me was this:

The discharges into the Clinch River stem from new smokestack scrubbers that reduce air emissions at the plant where TVA is still engaged in a $1 billion ash cleanup from a December spill.

So we have a coal fired power plant that has been collecting the pollutants that would originally go to the air. Some of these were stacked into a stack, which a few months ago accidentally discharged into the river.

Now the TVA is saying it is OK to take the new stuff they are collecting from the smokestack scrubbers and dump it in the river.

It doesn't seem like this all makes sense. I suppose the idea is the dilution level is low enough, but still, isn't there a better place for it?

The volume of nuclear wastes from our nuclear electric generation plants is much lower than the volume of wastes from coal-fired electric generation plants.

Furthermore, this nuclear waste, due to its radioactivity, is carefully managed/stored/transported.

Last time I checked, even though mining for Uranium certainly has its share of issues, we weren't in the processes of decapitating the Appalachians in order to mine Uranium.

But, many people are exremely fearful of things they can;t see or teste or sense...like radiation.

Funny how mercury in our fish doesn't merit the same fear.

For what it's worth, there is a lot of anti-coal activism, as you probably know.. and of course the Mercury in our fish is also invisible and unperceivable, or the lead dust in old paint or on new PVC-coated Christmas Light Strings.. but I am personally far more concerned about the cell damage done by radiation than these toxins, while I am certainly very active in protecting my family from these lesser poisins, since I know they're present nearby.

There was a story of irradiated scrap-metal from a reactor that somehow got sold into the scrap market. (Into Mexico, as I heard it) Ever look to see if your plated steel teaspoons or eyeglass frames were from Mexico or China? Just how carefully do you believe the radioactive waste materials (ALL OF THEM) are being tracked?

You seem to have proved MoonWatcher's point. There is no reason for you to be far more concerned about radiation because there is no current danger from it; while mercury and lead paint are serious ongoing problems. The only way you or I are going to get radiation exposure is to break into someplace we shouldn't.

See if you can find a link for the story about the scrap-metal and then evaluate what the actual risk was. Keep in mind how fast the radioactivity decays.

As for how carefully the radioactive waste is being tracked, you offer only conjecture. The laws in the U.S. are strict and explicit, but humans are both greedy and careless so even the best laws won't guarantee 100% success. Even so, we have done one hell of a good job with nuclear safety in the last 40 years when you compare it to the deaths and injuries from coal, natural gas, and propane. Deaths and injuries which are still ongoing every year like clockwork.

I think you may be referring to this:

Poverty and radiation exposure in Brazil
In September 1987, metal scavengers dismantled a canister from a radiotherapy machine in
an abandoned medical clinic in the city of Goiania, in the State of Goias, Brazil. The canister
contained almost 1400 curies of caesium-137. Over the following two weeks, children played
with the luminous blue caesium chloride and it was widely distributed throughout the community.
A number of the slum dwellers began to immediately exhibit signs of radiation sickness—
loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. By the time authorities were aware of the
situation more than 250 people had been exposed, 104 individuals showed evidence of internal
contamination and within 4 weeks four had died.
The cause of the accident was the lack of regulation by the responsible authorities and its
severity was exacerbated by the public’s lack of knowledge about radiation, the slow response
and the lack of resources available.

There is a far better place for the mercury, sulfur, thorium, etc., and it is easy to find. Leave the coal in the ground, buried under the mountaintops or deep within the earth. Don't burn the coal and you won't have the problem. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the power companies to quit burning coal or even from building new plants to burn coal.

The old adage, "everything goes somewhere" is as true on the by-products of coal combustion as for the proverbial trash can at almost everyone's curb, and people are just as oblivious to one as the other. Fly ash is, of course, the term for these waste products once the slurry has been dried, and is increasingly used in concrete, masonry, and other long-lived construction products. The best place to put the poisonous mixture is in cement to be used to plug abandoned oil and gas wells, or even for cementing casing, except maybe for surface pipe, where it would come in contact with USDW's (Usable Safe Drinking Water formations). Any other use runs the risk of repeat contamination once the road, building or other structure which contains fly ash is eventually destroyed.

Of course, the species which replaces the human race (and all other life on the planet) may be adaptive enough to deal with the high levels of stuff which kills us.

Another Peak Oil piece in The Guardian:


In this data set from the article they blithely say that other energy forms are stated in millions of tons of oil equivalent. Can't do that. Oil has unique characteristics that make other forms non comparable.


It tends to imply that Peak Oil can be mitigated with other energy forms when it can not. Just because the BTU's are there doesn't mean the energy is the same. For example natural gas which is often stated in barrels of oil equivalent is different because the infrastructure of cars and trucks are for the most part set up to consume oil. Switching them over to natural gas would be a major long term undertaking. Things that are different can not be compared, added, subtracted, etc..

The only reason for stating things in oil equivalents is to confuse and obfuscate IMO. It adds nothing to the analysis. It muddles the argument which I suspect is the intention. Clear thinking requires clear meanings for words and measuring other forms of energy in oil equivalents is not clear. It implies equal usefulness when it does not exist.

Just because the BTU's are there doesn't mean the energy is the same. For example natural gas which is often stated in barrels of oil equivalent is different because the infrastructure of cars and trucks are for the most part set up to consume oil.

Right. But the optimists say that, when crude oil is past peak, more NGL can be used as feedstock for petrochemicals, while the transportation sector is the 'lowhanging fruit' for oil, in the way that there is a lot of oil 'to win' with more economic cars/trucks, speed limitation, carpooling and (electric) bikes and scooters. To convert a fleet to one with a much better milage/gallon takes a lot of time, the others much less but each of them has its own practical problem.

Could someone with appropriate knowledge comment on the efficiency of natural gas conversion to a suitable liquid fuel? Methanol, butanol??


Natural gas can be converted to a petroleum distillate fuel (diesel, jet fuel,) in a GTL project. If memory serves, the energy loss is on the order of one-third.

WT, how much liquids from GTL are produced 'today' and how fast is it scalable ? I know that CTL doesn't help a lot, not now and not in 20 years.

Regarding the current volume, I don't know, but I don't think that it is very much, and the plants are quite expensive.


The other day I saw a news article pitching the merits of tar sands as Canada's salvation.

Something like this one: Canada's tar sands are the future of oil production

Any comment on the viability of these ideas?

A month ago I posted an article on Qatar's GTL efforts,


Exxon canceled a $15 billion project to produce 154,000 b/day with GTL in 2007 to give you an idea of costs.

Qatar once wanted 400,000 b/day of GTL. By 2012, Qatar is likely to have 177,000 bbl/d of GTL capacity

IMO, Qatar is better off building pipeline to Saudi Arabia and KSA should stop burning crude oil to make electricity.

A pdf I found via Google


Best Hopes for Less GTL,


Can't do that.

Oh yes one can ! I just did it mentally ! ... and if I was global president for a day, I would even be able put together some proper legislation to ensure ... blah blah ...