Drumbeat: November 23, 2009

In Germany, the high price of going green

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY -- In this nation that embraced one of the world's most aggressive campaigns against global warming, the Pokropp family can almost hear the cha-ching when switching off their lights.

A kilowatt of electricity costs three times as much here as it does in the United States, supercharged with high taxes to discourage use and to help fund renewable energy development. Meanwhile, a 50 percent "eco-tax" has sent the price of gasoline soaring to $8 a gallon. To manage costs, the family of three unplugs all their appliances but the refrigerator at night, avoids driving and limits steam baths -- a favorite German custom.

"We have no choice," said Andreas Pokropp, a former coal refinery worker. "We have to be green, even if we can't afford it."

Conservation pays, something Japan has learned

Dr. Tsutomu Toichi, chief executive researcher at the Institute of Energy Economics Japan, said the tighter regulations were absolutely necessary in addition to the new taxes on fuel that were imposed by the Japanese government. Even with the imposition of new taxes, fuel prices fluctuate, giving consumers conflicting signals, he said.

Tougher standards are a more effective way of ensuring that energy is conserved and of reaching Japan’s strategic goal of reducing its dependence on oil, Toichi said.

Iran gains $5 bn by shifting from US dollar

The head of Iran's Central Bank says the country has gained 5 billion dollars by excluding the US dollar from its currency basket and replacing it with the euro.

"Iran has considerably reduced the total of US dollars in its currency basket," said Mahmoud Bahmani in Tehran at the 3rd Seminar on Banking Services and Export on Monday.

Phil Flynn: Is Oil Becoming the Poor Man's Gold?

Is oil becoming the poor man's gold? Oil prices are being dragged higher once again as gold continues its assault on all time highs. Oil of course does not seem to move on its own accord but gets driven higher by traders who can't afford gold. I am only partly kidding. Gold is being driven higher for a lot of reasons. People are buying gold because they fear inflation. They are buying gold because they fear that mounting government debt will never be paid off. And gold, of course, is the currency of last resort if the whole economic system implodes on itself.

Norway aims to meet oil rule by 2013-Johnsen

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen said on Monday the government aimed at reducing fiscal stimulus and meeting the country's guidelines for spending oil cash by 2013, as suggested by the International Monetary Fund.

Randy Udall and Steve Andrews: Moving Beyond Denial…Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

In the last few months, the vigorous debate over the future of world oil supplies has hit the mainstream radar screen. The optimists closed ranks—they have to because their numbers are shrinking—and launched a barrage of misleading reports and opinion pieces, suggesting that supplies will grow from today’s 85 million barrels a day to as much as 115 mb/day by 2030.

Kurt Cobb: The trouble with apocalypse

The trouble with apocalypse is that most people have already seen it at the movie theater, watched it on television, read it in a book, or heard all about it from the pulpit. So inundated with the language of crisis are we that we have become immune to it. From the perspective of the historian our age has been chock full of "great transformations." And, it is, after all, the historian's business to write about great change even if he or she has to invent some.

The great energy crisis of the 1970s passes and is followed by an era of cheap energy lasting more than 20 years. The great run-up in energy prices in recent years is followed by a collapse in prices. The "worst economic downturn since the Great Depression" is now being followed by a ceaselessly heralded recovery. The much feared Y2K computer bug was either fixed or of little consequence on January 1, 2000. A modern plague has been in the wings for years, first as SARS and then as avian flu. Now that the H1N1 virus is here, it doesn't seem like the civilization-destroying event it was advertised to be. Even such events, despite the drama they propagate, create a certain cyclical continuity making them seem not all that remarkable. Once the worst is over or the predicted crisis fails to materialize, the fear that most people felt fades from memory.

Shell delays Qatargas4 project by a year

Royal Dutch Shell said it had delayed its $8bn Qatargas 4 liquefied natural gas project by around a year, with startup now planned for late 2010 and first cargo possibly pushed into 2011.

Venezuelan State Oil Company's Profits Down 67%

State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA said its net income in the first half of 2009 fell by 67 percent to $3.17 billion due to slightly lower output and a steep decline in oil prices.

"The total consolidated net profit for the period was $3.17 billion, down by $6.37 billion compared to the same period of 2008," PDVSA said in statement Thursday.

That drop in profits was due both to lower sales volumes and a 51 percent decline in the price of oil per barrel.

The Case for Big Oil Shares

Oil has not responded proportionately to euro and S&P 500 strength and shown relative weakness when the euro and S&P 500 sag, as they did last week. I would not be surprised if oil prices fall below $70 as the euro/dollar cross violates its uptrend line and falls below 1.46 as risk appetites mute and expectations of a tightening in Chinese monetary policy/shift in the Yuan FX regime continues to haunt the FX markets.

It's going to be an exciting decade

The crisis in the auto industry will create opportunities for some exciting innovations in the next 10 years or so.

For starters, there is the energy crisis. In truth, there has been an energy crisis since the early 1970s, only someone finally noticed. In the United States, those who could have helped end the crisis with an intelligent energy policy stuck their heads in the sand and hoped the thing would blow over. It didn't.

Kenya’s energy crisis worsens

NAIROBI, KENYA--Kenya's electricity crisis could worsen with the evident failure of El-Nino rains that were expected to shore up water levels at the main generating power plant, the Seven Folks Dam.

The country's Energy Ministry warned that consumers should expect a further increase in their already inflated power bills as generation continues to rely on oil intensive Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Chinese cities grappling with natural gas shortage

HANGZHOU (Xinhua) -- The municipal government of Hangzhou, in east China's Zhejiang Province, stopped all natural gas supplies to entertainment businesses at the weekend to guarantee supplies to the city's 410,000 households.

The city government also cut gas supplies to hotels, office buildings and shopping malls by 20 percent.

Bio-fuel growth raises concerns about forests

PARK FALLS, Wis. — Forests are a treasure trove of limbs and bark that can be made into alternative fuels and some worry the increasing trend of using that logging debris will make those materials too scarce, harming the woodlands.

For centuries, forests have provided lumber to build cities, pulp for paper mills and a refuge for hunters, fishers and hikers. A flurry of new, green ventures is fueling demand for trees and the debris leftover when they are harvested, which is called waste wood or woody biomass.

"There simply is nowhere near enough waste wood for all of these biomass projects that are popping up all over the place," said Marvin Roberson, a forest policy specialist with the Sierra Club in Michigan.

Hundreds in south China oppose waste incinerator

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hundreds in China's southern city of Guangzhou protested outside government offices on Monday, opposing plans for a large garbage incinerator in a sign of the region's rising public assertiveness over green issues.

Australia: Climate Civil Disobedience on the rise

Two hundred people blockaded the entrance to the Australian Parliament today calling on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to secure a strong, legally binding treaty at the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Police arrested 130 people, although it is believed none were charged.

James Hansen - Tipping Points: Melting Ice, Rising Oceans

Global warming IS a time bomb.

There may still be time to defuse it, but that requires policy-makers to take the actions that are needed, not the ineffectual actions they are discussing.

Food riots will mark the end of oil: The end of the oil age won't be a pretty thing, but a new report by Deutsche Bank suggests it could be even uglier than we feared...

There's been a lot of stale argument recently about oil – is it running out? Are we approaching/at/passed Peak Oil (the point when global oil production goes into irrevocable decline)? Business, unsurprisingly, isn't waiting for the answer; it's working out what will happen next.

Take the recent report from Deutsche Bank, entitled 'The Peak Oil Market: Price Dynamics at the End of the Oil Age'. This describes a world where the effect of failing global reserves is compounded by incoherent politics. If the US Government was honest about the cost of oil, for example, it would slap another 50c on a gallon of gasoline to pay the cost of the war in Iraq. Ludicrously, as global oil supplies dwindle, the increasingly precious part that remains is concentrated in the hands of those who give it away to their citizens for almost nothing – Saudi Arabia, Venezuala, Iran, Iraq.

The Oil Age: How Long Will It Last?

From time to time, pessimistic analyses are published which forecast that the world will reach “peak oil” levels, which means that the remaining oil reserves will not be able to meet future increases in the demand for energy. The proponents of this theory cite the following developments to support their argument:

The decline in the number of new giant fields in recent decades and the need to compensate the shortfall in the currently productive fields, which is estimated to be between 4 and 6.5 percent annually; in other words, it is necessary to find new oil fields each year which have a production capacity of approximately 3 million barrels per day, in order to compensate for the oil extracted. Also, most of the new oil is coming from submerged oil fields and from very deep geological layers, and therefore this oil is very costly to extract.

Oil scene: Uncertainty haunts the energy world

UNCERTAINTY has taken over the energy world. And it is detrimental to every one, be it consumer or producer. The consequences could be horrific. A number of factors are in play. The volatility of oil market pricing is a major issue. After all most producers have a single product economy. With extreme swings in play, they are almost in dark while projecting their long-term incomes and expenses. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil producers could lose $4 trillion in revenue between now and 2030, if a UN conference in Copenhagen next month strikes a deal on global warming curbs, the International Energy Agency projected earlier.

Making Racing Cars Relevant Again...

The process which formed the hydrocarbons took millions of years. In comparison, through burning we are releasing the bound carbon atoms in the blink of an eye. Estimates vary for the point at which we will run out, but in the case of oil (currently the chief source of transport energy), even if we double what we believe we currently have, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States estimates that ‘peak oil’ – the point at which demand starts to outstrip supply – will occur between 2016 and 2028. There will then be some tough times ahead for society on a political and economic level – and in all likelihood, very soon.

Reaching our best-before date

Oil has an expiration date. Long have scientists claimed that we will see the depletion of oil in our lifetimes, but in reality we have a more pressing problem than this. It’s called ‘Peak Oil’ and many scientists think we may have already reached it.

Put simply, peak oil is the point at which our oil reserves have reached their highest output and after this point begin to decrease. And to put our current situation into perspective, 33 of the largest 48 oil-producing nations have already hit peak oil and are decreasing in their production of oil.

Crude Oil Rises on Iranian Military Test, Weaker U.S. Dollar

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose from a one-week low after an Iranian military exercise renewed concerns over Middle Eastern supply, while the weaker dollar heightened oil’s appeal as an inflation hedge.

Iran is testing an air defense system this week, in the largest military exercises the country has conducted to assess the vulnerability of its nuclear plants. The most accurate dollar forecasters predict the world’s reserve currency will continue sliding even when the Federal Reserve begins to raise interest rates.

Resources front and centre for this index beater

Do you believe in the peak oil theory suggesting the world is running out of oil?

No, I don't buy that concept. I think the biggest impact [on a higher oil price] has come from geopolitical reasons. It's the result of guys like [President Hugo] Chávez in Venezuela, who has been nationalizing Western companies out of their assets, and guys like [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin in Russia who have been playing strong-arming companies out of their assets...And Alberta has effectively imposed draconian new fiscal terms, and pushed out new growth. That has had a greater impact on the supply side.

Global LNG Supply to Exceed Demand in 2010, Bernstein Says

(Bloomberg) -- Global Liquefied natural gas supplies will exceed demand for a second successive year in 2010 as new projects begin production to more than match the expected rise in fuel demand, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said.

Global demand for the cleaner-burning fuel will grow by 17 percent in 2010 compared with an estimated 7.5 percent increase in 2009 from 2008, Bernstein said in a report today. Projects from Qatar, Yemen and Peru may boost output also by 17 percent next year, from a larger base, it said.

Oil industry enters new era of volatility and opportunity

Since the middle of 2008, there has been a lot of intensity in our industry. That's been amplified in companies that have a lot of natural gas because gas is suffering far more than crude oil.

In fact, we've just gone though the first globally synchronous recession since probably the turn of the [20th] century, and the worst financial crisis in 100 years. And yet the most we can pound oil down is from $150 to $80 U.S. a barrel. That to me is a reasonably strong signal of how resilient the commodity is.

Colonial Pipeline Issues Allocation Notice on Gasoline Pipeline

(Bloomberg) -- Colonial Pipeline Co., which operates the largest pipeline linking U.S. Gulf Coast refiners and East Coast markets, will limit shipments of gasoline because orders exceed the company’s ability to deliver fuel on time.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company issued the requirement, known as an allocation, in a bulletin to shippers for Cycle 68. The restriction applies to shipments on the pipeline north of Collins, Mississippi.

At least 400 pipelines vandalized in Niger Delta: official

LAGOS (Xinhua) -- More than 400 pipelines have been destroyed in Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta region in the last two years, the Lagos-based Vanguard newspaper reported on Monday.

South Dakota a battleground in Canadian oil sands debate

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - An oil industry representative says he considers South Dakota a battleground in the fight over the extraction of oil from the Canadian oil sands.

Dan Gunderson, a communications specialist working for the American Petroleum Institute, says he's concentrating on the Midwest because states like South Dakota could end up with pipelines and a refinery as a means to handle the incoming crude oil from Canada.

Eskom May Secure a $3.75 Billion World Bank Loan by Early 2010

(Bloomberg) -- The World Bank may agree to lend Eskom Holdings Ltd. as much as $3.75 billion by early next year to help reduce an 80 billion rand ($11 billion) funding shortfall, South Africa’s National Treasury said.

Brazil to Invest $6 billion in Mozambique Biofuels, O Pais Says

(Bloomberg) -- Mozambique has signed two accords with Brazil for a $6 billion investment in biofuel exploration, the daily independent O Pais reported, citing António de Godoy, chairperson of the Brazilian confederation of biofuel companies Arranjo Produtivo Local do Alcool (APLA).

Some of the biofuels produced from sugar cane will be exported to Brazil to cut its dependence on petroleum based fuels, de Godoy told the Maputo-based newspaper.

8 weird ways to save the Earth

Geoengineering, or deliberately tinkering with the earth's climate, could help if global warming proves disastrous for mankind, but the ideas are untested and the risks unknown.

Held hostage by the oil sands

Dealing with climate change is extraordinarily difficult because it does entail serious costs and painful change. But the International Energy Agency, in its latest World Energy Outlook, puts the climate challenge front and centre because we don't really have a choice.

What's needed, it says, is nothing less than a low carbon energy revolution that would rival the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and the information technology revolution of the 20th century. "The scale and breadth of the energy challenge is enormous – far greater than many people realize," it warns. "But it can and must be met," it says, because the costs of not acting, and soon, are much greater.

Global body needed to direct green technology, G77 says

A green technology body with powers to direct a worldwide transition away from a high-carbon economy is needed to combat climate change, according to the world's developing nations. While most negotiations ahead of the UN's climate change summit in Copenhagen next month have been concerned with which nations should slash greenhouse gas emissions and by how much, the method in which these cuts will be achieved has received far less attention. Yet the importance of green technology – from wind turbines to electric cars to zero-carbon buildings – is enormous.

Climate Aid for Poor World Comes to Focus as EU Ministers Meet

(Bloomberg) -- European Union environment ministers may underline the need for climate aid for developing countries as they meet today for final preparations before the United Nations summit in Copenhagen.

IEA ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Copenhagen Summit

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency is “cautiously optimistic” about the climate-change summit next month in Copenhagen, where almost 200 nations are working to replace or extend the Kyoto Protocol to slow carbon emissions.

Political leaders may commit to a general climate-change framework and discuss the details next year, Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said in Beijing today. “Some kind of strong political commitment or decision” may emerge at the United Nations meeting in the Danish capital, Tanaka told reporters.

Climate scientist suspects hackers targeted Denmark summit

LONDON — A leading climate-change scientist whose private e-mails were included in thousands of documents stolen by hackers and posted online said Sunday that the leaks may have been aimed at undermining next month's global climate summit in Denmark.

Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder said he believes the hackers who stole a decade's worth of correspondence from a British university's computer server deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change.

Some businesses waste more than £1m a year on excess energy, carbon trading trial finds

A PIONEERING carbon trading programme in Yorkshire has revealed some businesses are wasting more than a £1m a year on excess energy and would face six figure fines under future legislation.

Firms fail to take climate risk seriously-study

LONDON (Reuters) – Companies are failing to take the strategic implications of climate change seriously and are missing out on investment opportunities, a study sponsored by three major UK investors said on Monday.

Firms are addressing the impact of major climate-linked events, but are neglecting to manage incremental changes or extend their focus into supply chains, raw materials or logistics, the study found.

Why infrastructure is the bedrock of society

But the risks of that infrastructure breaking down and the scale of the consequences are growing, due to random and non-random sources such as climate change, potential over-dependence on high-technology infrastructure, and increasing urbanisation - in both the developing and developed worlds. The demand for effective infrastructure services is immense. And we know that when infrastructure fails, things simply go wrong. We saw it when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. A few simple civil structures - flood levees - failed. Eight hours later, the social cohesion of a city in the world’s richest and most advanced country was reduced to chaos. No electricity, no ATMs, no cash and therefore an inability to buy food or water.

We saw it with 2004’s tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, and again just recently in Samoa. We saw it with earthquakes in China, Pakistan, Italy and Indonesia. We also saw it in the UK with floods in south-west England, Yorkshire and Scotland. Water and electricity supplies were lost, as were homes and personal property. People camped in their drives to protect their shattered properties and remaining possessions.

Bangkok: A Future Filled with Floods

BANGKOK (IPS) - Thailand’s capital, dubbed the ‘City of Angels’ and the ‘Venice of the East’, is threatened by long-term flood inundation as rising sea waters triggered by global weather change and monsoonal rains combine.

The 240-year-old Thai capital, located on the Chao Phraya River delta, is one of major cities on the globe seen as a potential victim of rising sea waters and whose landscape is sinking due to a history of water drawn from wells within city limits.

Scientist Explains Earth's Warming Plateau

Research shows that over the past several years, Earth's temperature has not been heating up. Climate change skeptics claim this as evidence that global warming is overexaggerated. But the man who did the research, climate and ocean scientist Mojib Latif, says "not so fast."

Why media tell climate story poorly

If it's true that Canadians and Americans have become less concerned about the potential impact of climate change, and that more consider global warming a hoax, some blame can certainly be directed at the news media.

"The media (are) giving an equal seat at the table to a lot of non-qualified scientists," Julio Betancourt, a senior scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told a group of environment and energy reporters during a week-long learning retreat in New Mexico.

New Voices on Climate Change

Among public figures, television weather presenters are relative latecomers to leading efforts to deepen knowledge about climate change.

Wary of offending viewers and the authorities, who might be skeptical about the effect of human beings on climate, and mindful of making references to hugely complex science during three-minute broadcasts, most presenters have studiously avoided using their prime-time slots to discuss global warming.

But that may be changing.

Climate change sceptics and lobbyists put world at risk, says top adviser

Climate change sceptics and fossil fuel companies that have lobbied against action on greenhouse gas emissions have squandered the world's chance to avoid dangerous global warming, a key adviser to the government has said.

Professor Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, said a decade of inaction on climate change meant it was now virtually impossible to limit global temperature rise to 2C. He said the delay meant the world would now do well to stabilise warming between 3C and 4C.

Is global warming unstoppable?

In a provocative new study, a University of Utah scientist argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions - the major cause of global warming - cannot be stabilized unless the world's economy collapses or society builds the equivalent of one new nuclear power plant each day.

Antarctica Loses Ice From East as Well as West, Scientists Say

(Bloomberg) -- Antarctica is losing ice from its larger eastern side as well as the western part, an indication the southernmost continent may add “significantly more” to rising seas, researchers in Texas said.

The eastern sheet lost ice at a rate of about 57 billion metric tons a year from 2002 to 2009, contributing to the continent’s total annual average loss of about 190 billion tons, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said in the journal Nature Geoscience.

RE: Colonial Pipeline Issues Allocation Notice on Gasoline Pipeline

I tried to search for previous allocation notices, however, besides hurricanes and fires I didn't find any others. Does the pipeline have some kind-of maintenance issue? Are refiners losing enough money to cause a shortage?

EDIT: Whoops, found some recent news on November the 2nd. Search harder!

Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. pipeline shipper of fuels, said Sunday it was allocating shipments for cycle 63 on Line 2, the main distillate line, north of Collins, Mississippi as demand exceeded pipeline capacity.

US Cash Products-USG gasoline up, ULSD off

EDIT2: It seems like this is cyclical, at least it happened last November.

November 05 , 2008

Colonial Pipeline May See More Gasoline Allocations Until Mid-November

The rush to fill up Colonial pipeline with gasoline and diesel for delivery to the Southeast and Northeast from the Gulf Coast is supported by slow imports from Europe, low Northeast inventories and a supply glut on the Gulf Coast, industry sources told OPIS on Wednesday.

Fuel Management University

I am wondering about this too, since I live in Atlanta, and shortages seem to show up here--or up in North Carolina, farther away from the source.

Back in February of this year, we read:

Colonial indefinitely delays $3 billion expansion as consumption falls

Colonial Pipeline on Feb. 23 said it has indefinitely postponed plans to expand its refined products system from Baton Rouge, La., to Atlanta.

Demand for gasoline and other petroleum products is down, making it difficult to project future market conditions, the company said in a news release.

Tim Felt, Colonial's new president and CEO, said the Alpharetta-based company was "eager to build this new pipeline, but we believe the prudent and conservative approach is best at this time."

Colonial had planned to start construction on the $3 billion pipeline in 2011.

Colonial is smart enough to know that with peak oil, there will be no way they can keep a new pipeline such as this filled sufficiently to justify its cost. So we need to get along with what we have, even if that sometimes is a little short of what is needed.

I write software as a consultant for a major southeastern fuel distributor (among other business operations). I asked someone familiar with the situation there and they started on about how the pipeline is actually pretty old (so lower volume than newer pipelines) and they've added some additional capacity and lubricants, but at the core it hasn't changed all that much since it was built. Basically it just takes a long time to get product from one end to the other and you can only ship one product at a time with no way to "undo" whats put in the pipe or send more quicker.

They didn't think there was much else to this (no surprise demand spike kinds of things), but it really affects short term pricing. Sometimes prices are set by Platts contracts, say from Chicago, but product comes from the Gulf - so margins can rise substantially. There only so much storage down there - so spot prices can drop.

I wasn't out much today, but the lowest gasoline price I saw seemed to be $2.59. A few days ago, I saw some gasoline at $2.39.

Where I live the lowest is already around $2.77 for regular.

That makes sense. A little backstory to explain:

Each supplier sets their own prices at each terminal up the coast (and there are many of those). They even change their prices in the middle of the day based on market dynamics (sending trucks scrambling to other terminals). The prices in the gulf are quit a bit different for someone buying allocation than what you can buy at the local terminal. Not many companies have the credit/cash to guy buy gas from the gulf and wait for some 20+ days for it to reach them (not to mention the risk prices drop and they take a hit for their hedging)...they buy it at local terminal prices.

Therefore, gas can sell cheap in the gulf due to built up supply, but still cost more up the coast because that supply cannot get to them. As I mentioned earlier, the pricing is sometimes set by Chicago or New York contracts, so the prices stays high and margins increase. Another reason prices can stay high is gas stations have limited credit and go from load to load, so their prices need to reflect the cost of their *next* load. The up or down trend in pricing is very important to the gas markets...and we've been on an uptrend as we all know.

As the effect known as Jevron's Paradox has caused an increase in effeciency in the use of fossil fuels... then... the decrease in fossils fuels will cause a disproportionate decrease in efficiency... or a disproportionate increase in inefficiency (whichever sounds more appropriate at the time).

Think about it....

(Can also be called a "rollercoaster curve" (the trip down will be a lot faster than going up)).

An attempt at levity in the face of (ugh).

I don't see why that is a reasonable postulation at all. Do you have any explanation of why that will happen? Or are you just making something up? Also, even if thermal efficiency goes down, real efficiency (IE is it used to produce food or to propel an SUV to the mall) will certainly increase.

I agree that the inverse of Jeavon's P. is not necessarily a corrolary to the rule (I'm quite particular about how the rule itself is applied anyway...)

.. but I do expect that in a string of energy emergencies, there will very likely be a lot of desperate and inefficient measures taken, perhaps a bit like the efforts made to save a life ramping up precipitously as the stakes get higher.

In other words, there will be a lot of 'eating the seed corn just to get by', as it were..


With modern technology - and cheap fuels - things have become centralized to large economies of scale. Often, it's currently more efficient to buy things produced/grown half a world away than it is to buy locally. As such, most locally produced items have disappearred as there is no longer a(n economical) need for then. (I still buy things locally for ethical reasons as well as a long-term investment in my own future.)

When cheap fuels no longer become available the "highly efficient facilities" and equally efficient "centralized distributions systems" will shut down. Any attempt to build the more localized - but less efficient - systems won't be able to replace them fast enough. FOR EXAMPLE, how much of an investment does it take to replace one hundred mom-and-pop (two cow) dairy farms with one huge industrial dairy lot?...(not much)... and how much investment does it take to replace one large dairy lot with one hundred (two cow) mom-and-pop farms?

And yes, I did just make this up... after running a few mathematical models to play with Jervon's Paradox this weekend... and seeing how things can (to my surprise) unexpectedly - and very rapidly - collapse.

Ignorant -- A good example IMHO. Another example: oil prices go up and there's a push for LNG vehicles. Might be a nice step towards great efficiency but a jump in oil prices will hurt the economy and, perhaps more importantly, cut credit availability. On paper there might appear to be great efficiency gains but if the capital isn't here to convert a large portion of our mobility to NG then those efficiency gains, however logical, won't be made. As far as decreasing efficiency it's a little more difficult to model significant impacts IMO. But one simple scenario: higher gasoline = poorer economy = less money to not only buy more fuel efficient vehicles but less auto maintenance leads to decreasing mpg. Probably not a big drain but perhaps many similar scenarios will add up.

Not just less money, but less energy to build the more efficient vehicles, less energy to refine the quantities of metals needed for parts, etc.. Less vehicles means less driving to stores, meaning less business, meaning less money to buy fuels, etc..

Hmmm.... Geography is a key item in your argument. I would assert that very cheap fossil fuels allowed for the "efficiency" of larger centralized facilities at the expense of regional facilities that will regain their import once the profit enabled by cheap fuels is no longer possible, and so on down the distribution chain. In other words, less energy "dense" facilities will regain their places due to the geographic reasons they arose where they did in the first place.

My apologies to William Stanley Jevons .... It's Jevon's Paradox. I misspelled it in original post.

No more critiques? I mean, this is a different mechanism of collapse than that which occurs in a population collapse.

I need some feedback....

(This idea is something new to me and fascinating. If nobody brings up a counter arguement I'm going to start believing it and then my ego is going to swell. I need a reality check here.)

What I am proposing is a step function increase in efficiency (for example 20 BTUs of diesel to 1 BTU of multi-source electricity to move freight, comparable but slower (perhaps slightly less even with TOD included) for Urban Rail plus bicycling and walking (extra food BTUs).

I know that this can be built with restrained resources because we built a massive infrastructure quickly before (1897-1916) with coal, sweat & mules.

So what I propose sidesteps those rules.

Now are gains in one sector (transportation) enough to offset loses in other sectors ? Are there other step function efficiency gains to be made ?

Best Hopes,


I suppose a heat pump could be described in this way -it effectively doubles or triples heating efficiencies.

I believe that some relatively simple regulatory changes can also go a long long way toward increasing energy efficiency.

A good samaratin carpooling law could go a long way towards encouraging carpooling.

There is no reason why we should not allow individuals to operate commuter buses for profit anywhere regularly scheduled buses or street cars don't run.

I know of a single factory where over a hundred people who live more than twenty miles away pass thru a little own on thier way to work about fifteen miles away.They all start and stop work together on an assembly line.One large bus running only one thirty mile round trip a day could save probably between fifteen hundred and two thousand automobile miles per day-I can't be more specific because some workers do carpool and some wouldn't ride the bus regardless.

There is no reason the auto insurance industry should'nt be tasked to partially supporting such a bus program thru a requirement that riders who have car policies be covered when on buses-thier claims payouts would be substantially reduced overall.

Operate a commuter bus for profit?? Only to places with very high parking costs or where fewer folks can afford their own car. That is the only situation where a commuter bus could make a profit. Since most commutes are between suburbs where both employees and customers have free parking. Insurance is a very minor cost compared to labor cost. The fares you would need to charge just to keep yourself out of poverty would price most riders out. For starters you need to carry 150 passengers on your one bus to meet your miles saved claim. That is three times the number of passengers a large bus can carry. These 50 people would not only pay for your livelihood but also cover the cost of a $300,000 to $600,000 vehicle which meets safety standards and is wheelchair accessible. If you have a fixed route that is on a fixed schedule you must comply with an array of government regulations. You would go through at least 10 gallons of diesel a day which works out to about 75 cents per passenger if you can fill the bus. Maintenance will be another $15-$20 dollars a day or another 40 cents. Forget about any fringe benefits like health insurance and since you couldn't afford the extra expense of a replacement driver you better not get sick or injured. And if you don't have a Commercial Driver's License you better pray nobody rear ends you. You could end up with some heavy duty legal fees.
As a transit driver I worked for many years with a man who tried what you proposed because his attempt at running his own bus put him in bankruptcy. There are many good reasons public transit is heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

Thirty miles times fifty cars is fifteen hundred car miles.The bus driver nedd not get benefits if he owns the bus-he will park it at the factory and go inside and work eight with everybody else.

A perfectly serviceable school bus with a handicap ramp can be had for twenty five thousand dollars.

Believe it or not most of the workers in this particular factory, being small farmers and country people could earn quite a satisfactory paycheck with thier bus if they got three dollars per round trip-which is less than gas and maintainence money for thirty miles more on the family car or truck.

OF COURSE a number of regulations would need to be changed-but I held a CDL myself for many years and also drove a school bus-out of fifty people having a couple of backup drivers lined up is not a problem.

Of course this is a special case example.It's a real case but most cities in this part of the world that have large factories have lots of people who commute from the deep country-certainly enough to fill up some buses.

The idea is to get AWAY FROM bau -not to perpetuate it.A good part of our problems today are the result of excessive regulation.

We are nowadays so scared of accidents and lawsuits that we suffer far more collective harm from lack of local initiative.Once my Old Pa died we lost our last local source of raw milk-even though we have nieghbors with dairy cows none of them are willing to sell us a little milk for fear of legal problems.-so our milk is hauled a total of about five hundred miles and is at least four days old when we get it.

Multiply this by a thousand and you have our current food distribution system.

It is probably well that folks think about how transportation can be multi-tasked ahead of time. The unthinkable can soon become the commonplace. Much of the world I dare say is living much more adaptive lifestyles in this vein (in spite of perhaps yearning for 'greater things') than we who are accustomed to ordering our BTU's individually supersized.

It will be very very interesting indeed to see how these kinds of adaptations take place as the pressure ratchets up. So much of the hamstringing may indeed look silly. There probably is still some good innovative spirit around. Drasticly reducing the energy and economic leverage we now enjoy will change many things.

Here's to peak hamstrings.

Much of the world I dare say is living much more adaptive lifestyles in this vein (in spite of perhaps yearning for 'greater things') than we who are accustomed to ordering our BTU's individually supersized.

Then perhaps it is time to start thinking of living sustainably within our resource means as being a 'greater thing' and equating the lifestyle that includes ordering individually supersized BTU's as something that is akin to driving drunk!

I`ve been wondering about this too.

I tried picturing the moment when people start running out of places to buy anything because all the large chain stores have shut down . (I live in large chain store heaven, BTW, just outside Tokyo, frightful depressing cement sprawl everywhere). Lots of small shops have shut down. Big shops are still operating, with amazing horrific deflation. When they shut down, and people want to start selling something they have (old clothes, pieces of old metal, eggs from a few chickens) there will be no place to acquire resources to sell. It very well could turn into a rapid collapse. For this reason I really want to leave this area and move to a less populated one but others in my family are opposed!

I don't get it, Iggy.

"Jevons's Paradox" was that a reduction in the amount of coal needed to produce a ton of steel caused a great increase in the amount of coal consumed.

At the time, steel was a new material and new uses were being found for it all the time. The demand for steel increased so fast that more coal was used to produce steel, even though less was needed per ton of steel. (There is legitimate doubt about the word "caused" - "was followed by", no problem.)

Are you saying that as fossil fuels get more expensive, we'll buy less stuff - not in proportion to the price of fossil fuels, but by a larger amount?

I'm happy to call that Iggy's Postulate :-)

"Are you saying that as fossil fuels get more expensive, we'll buy less stuff - not in proportion to the price of fossil fuels, but by a larger amount?"

Yes. Let me use the dairy farm analogy: One big agri-business dairy farm has all the feed shipped in (so the cows can be packed into one big lot that's close to the one high-capacity milking machine). As the price of shipping feed goes up, the profit margin drops until it becomes unprofitable to run. Cows get shipped to the packing house. Demand for milk is still there... who takes over? If demand is high enough the few mom-and-pop farms (not many of them left as is right now) decide to get some cows and grow their own feed (low transportation cost because of close distance from cornfield to barn) and milk by hand. Not much undelevoped land near existing towns, too few farms near towns. Currently there are many farms far from towns because current shipping costs make it cost effective today; in future dairy farms too far away can't ship milk economically (remember refrigeration required too). Who's going to pay for buying farmland close to population centers to make up for demand?

Collapse is a result when supply can't keep up with demand. It's like heart failure (NOT to be confused with cardiac arrest) when heart's pumping output can't supply the body with the required amount of blood.

In short, the effort we put into making processes too efficient is an effort which will contribute to choking those processes (which now depend on that efficiency).

Once there were milk trains.


And today, throughout Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, there are elektrichkas.


Quite a few problems were solved in the past.

Best Hopes,


You've got it backwards. Jevron's Paradox sez: an increase in efficiency in the use of a resource, for whatever reason, results in more consumption of that resource,

An observation like Jevons isn't an external universal truth, but rather an observation that is truth if certain conditions are met. IMHO for Jevons to be true the input whose efficiency of consumption we increase must be a major part of the end use cost fot it to have the perverse effect of increasing consumption. If the elasticity of consumption is low, as it is for most current households with domestic energy consumption the lowered overall cost will spur very little extra usage (thats what low elasticity means), so you can get net savings. If on the other hand the energy cost is the major cost of the ativity, then clearly there is scope for the overall activity to increase enough to overwhelm the efficiency improvement.

Rather than simply invoking strongform Jevons "increase in efficiency will increase demand", we should consider the more nuanced form: "an increase in efficiency will tend to increase the activity in question, negating part or perhaps overwhelming the savings due to efficiency gain". A mouthful to be sure, but it avoids the possibilty of getting trapped in overrigid thinking.

CNBC is in full party mode today. Between the good news on housing and the stock market, they think Christmas has come early.

At $1173, so do the gold bugs :)

It seems that a lot of people and institutions are trying to trade dollars for gold.

I've asked this before but I've never gotten a response, so here I go again:

Are any geothermal plants using coal/natural gas as a booster to achieve higher temperatures (and thus higher efficiencies)? Geothermal provides a lot of heat relatively cheaply, but the low temperatures make the turbine efficiencies very low (which also makes for high water consumption/KWH. I could see a hybrid CCGT/Geothermal plant being very competitive. In places with existing coal power plants near hot spots, can geothermal be used to reduce the amount of coal used?

AFAIK, no. Instead they use working fluids other than water to extract electricity from lower temperature geothermal sources.

Few geothermal sources are close to NG pipelines and oil is just too expensive.


Well a CCGT was the first thing that came to my mind, but there must be options. Seems like a huge waste getting only 10-23% efficiency (from wikipedia, but I've seen 10% quoted in a PopSci article). Especially in the west where the higher water consumption/KWH is a serious concern. It seems to me there must be a better way. Maybe power towers?

There are a lot of things that can be done. Boosting the efficiency of a FF fired power plant with geothermal is one thing. A link got posted on here once about a coal plant which is using heat from parabolic solar reflectors to pre-heat water to reduce coal consumption. Both ideas are just BAU extenders but if we don't want a fast crash (which might be better) we need BAU extenders to slow down the decline.

... solar reflectors to pre-heat water ? Hmf....?

In Heat Power plants the working fluid (water) is constantly kept at plus/minus evaporation temperatures within a closed system. The amount of coal needed 'per second' is set and decided at design startup (paper work), when selection of the MW-size of turbine/generator is done. After that, there is just one rule , keep them coal-trains coming .... and ensure there is enough cooling for the condensation to take place.

Here is a good intro flick : http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/10/01/how-is-coal-turned-into-electr...

Food for thought: How a Geothermal Plant Works ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjpp2MQffnw

Dax --Sorry I didn't naswer earlier. No...I don't. But it's an interesting thought though. The only geothermal site I've been to is the Geysers in N. CA. If I recall correctly it was a pretty hot source so probably not a candidate. They did try some thermal recoveries in S La. from deep (15,000'+) salt water wells 25 years ago or so. Not enough heat content as I recall. Given that S. La. is one of the biggest sources of NG you idea might have some merit over there. I think the gov't actually had some tax credit for operators that contributed deep dry holes to the program back then.

I've just read this:


How can anyone with half a brain cell not realise that the US is bankrupt. There is just no way out of this other than a complete and utter trashing of the dollar. Same with us Brits, but the figures in the US are just gobsmacking. PO aside, there is just no way on Earth that the US economy could grow quickly enough to produce the tax income for the Fed government to reverse the tide of debt. Let alone State taxes. Here in the UK the egiot which is our numpty of a prime minister has decided to enact a law to "halve the deficit by 2014". Job done! There is to be a new law so the deficit is to be halved! Except, nothing ever works like that in practice. Oh, and halving a deficit of £200 Billion still leaves a borrowing requirement of £100 Billion each and ever year - never mind paying the debt off! For that you need a SURPLUS, which in 'developed', 'rich' countries is rarer than hens' teeth.

Btw, is the NY Times a left or right leaning paper?

HAcland -

'Gobsmacking'. 'numpty' .... great Brit words!

The NY Times has generally been considered the flagship paper of the US liberal establishment, but in the US the terms, 'left' and 'right' don't quite mean the same thing as they probably do in the UK, and don't even mean quite the same thing that they used to in the US.

That being the case, the NY Times is clearly in the back pocket of the US power establishment, which these days generally coincides with the US financial establishment. So, I wouldn't expect anything too critical of that establishment appearing in the pages of the NY Times. Ditto the politically powerful pro-Israel establishment.

The New York Times is a right leaning newpaper, as is most corporate media in the USA.

There are several who've pointed out that once the FED starts to raise interest rates as it must, unless a major chunk of the federal budget is cut loose, the federal government must raise taxes or go bankrupt. This threat is more than enough reason to defeat the Democrat plan to giveaway hundres of billions to an absolutely undeserving (and not in any need of a "stimulus") health insurance industry and push for a single-payer system that will actually BENEFIT the overall economy. The obvious cash cow to kill is the War Department's annual Trillion. But given the current state of politics with its massive amounts of corruption, I think we'll see the federal government go bankrupt before we see any monies deleted from the War or Imperial budgets that directly feed the corporate elite.

So, it would appear the news item is meant to be a wake-up-call to those who haven't considered what will occur once interest rates start to rise again.

Japan ought to be the "canary in the coal mine" for this. Their deficit this year will be about 10% of GDP, comparable to that of the US. Their total national debt will be about 190% of GDP by the end of the calendar year, compared to about 65% for the US. Their population is older and aging faster. They are much more dependent on imported petroleum (and natural gas and coal). On the plus side, they're not busy occupying foreign countries and they are more energy efficient. Of course, any country that imports 84% of its energy resources has serious incentives to be fanatical about efficiency (the figure would be even higher if it didn't include their substantial plutonium stockpiles from reprocessed reactor fuel).

Mc, When Japan's problems started, its debts were much lower in 1989. This is the point of comparison. The US real estate valuation problem isn't as bad as Japan in 1989 IMO, but oil and debts are more severe here now than Japan in 1989. We are now aging as Japan was aging in 1989. If I thought that the US could control the deficit in the next 20 years, then we could have a better future. If we are honest, our Federal debt is now greater than 100% of our GDP. In 20 years, it will be greater than 200%. Our negative net worth is a staggering $63-$75 trillion according to John William's SGS site. Good luck in hoping Washington will do anything useful.

Japan has run current account surpluses for decades, which is usually overlooked. The USA is the opposite-the USA has been borrowing from the future for a very long time now not just through fiscal deficits but also through trade deficits.

Japan has run current account surpluses for decades, which is usually overlooked. The USA is the opposite-the USA has been borrowing from the future for a very long time now not just through fiscal deficits but also through trade deficits.

This is right for sure! The main problem with the US-dept is that - oppose to Japan and Germany - the public deficit was nerver offset by high saving-rates of the domestic people. Till 2008 US-saving rates where below 5% for years and sometimes even negative. Japans and Germanys saving-rates where allways higer than 10%, reaching 20% in Japan in the 90's for some years. So till this point it seems that the US is much worse - which is correct to some degree.

There comes the prob - or the elephant in the room - thats non-monetary saving-investments in children! Children mean Human capital. And economic-power is a function of the human capital, the non-human capital (e. g. roads and power-plants) and the technological-process. It's an easy math. If your population shrinks - let us suggest 50% over 100 years - and your government-dept stays equal, the per capitia dept doubles. Japan and Germany are starting now shrinking, and they both will shrink fast after 2020. If your population growth by 50% in 100 years and your government-dept rises by 50%, your per capitia dept will stay equal and be half the number of the shrinking countries. There is the problem.

I know there are troubles with population growth (but the population desnity in the US is only 1/11 of that in Japan and 1/7 of Germany), but these differenties are a big issue which is often ignored. There are other problems with the population-growth in the US, because human capital has also a qualitative component and not only a quantitative (education and much other factores) - but that's another discussion and and issue which affects Germany and Japan also.

To make a pun on your handle, I dare say those are some excellent points. I don't think the geography/climate is conducive to supporting the same sort of population density as Germany and Japan. The later are well watered, whereas roughly the western third of the US (ecluding the pacific northwest coastal regions), is water limited. Alaska, which is another huge hunk of territory will likely never have a high population either.

Your per-capita debt may increase, but keep in mind that the per-capita wealth will also change (note that I didn't say increase.) A declining population will transfer accumulated wealth to a smaller group of people. The question is, how much of that "wealth" will be stranded assets? How will it be taxed in light of what will be an impossible situation under BAU? Of course, population trends are set in stone- you can't go back in time and increase the size of a cohort. The populations of the western countries will continue to decrease (with the exception of the US, which hopefully will start to decrease), and the rate will accelerate. I think the deciding factor will be whether your geographic locale suffers disproportionately in the early stages of either climate crisis or peak oil. I think this will drive up "property values" and whatever passes for local currency in less affected areas. For everybody else, the point will be moot.


Most people on the right think the NYT is left-wing, most people on the left think the NYT is right-wing. It is more or less centrist, but more than anything else it is establishmentarian. The US doesn't tend to have a national press as you do in the UK, but the NYT probably is what we have that comes closest to your London Times.

The political scene is different in the US from the UK as well. What we consider our left wing would actually be quite centrist in the UK. Most of our Democrats would feel quite comfortable in the Lib Dem party, a few in the centrist wing of Labour, and quite a few that are considered "centrist" (or "blue dog") Democrats would probably even fit in best with the Tories. Only a very few of the most leftish of left wing Democrats would find common ground with the modern-day successors to Tony Benn. As for the Republicans, only those considered centrist (or "RINOs" - Republicans in Name Only) would be comfortable even with the Tories; quite a few would actually find a more congenial home in the BNP or UKIP.

Most Americans, and even quite a few people overseas, really don't realize what a very right-wing country the USA is.

Right Wing America.
A very sad concept.

But so true.

Leftish liberal on social values and govt programs of all sorts from medical to educational to environmental but comfortably in the back pocket of big biz and big finance in all other respects.

Lest he be too bashful to promote it himself, TOD emeritus Stuart Staniford has launched a new blog targeting mainstream economists/policymakers on the issues surrounding oil depletion:


Good luck Stuart. I'm sure I'll frequent your site, time permitting.

From TAE on Sat-staggering numbers and good thing the American public doesn't understand math or Barack would really be feeling the heat-without taxpayer support very little of this largesse is possible

"It's interesting to note that no matter how hard it is to gauge how much has been spent on the job stimulus, what seems very clear is that the total amount Obama has delivered towards employment creation will by year end in all likelihood be less than the total amount in bonuses projected to be paid by Wall Street's main financial institutions. The total amount in Wall Street bonuses is set to exceed $162 billion, according to MSNBC, and if you ask me, that fact alone should be enough to bring down the president's poll numbers below the freezing point. By the way, MSNBC also estimates bank profits through Q3 ‘09 at $22.5 billion. $139.5 more in bonuses than in profits. Yes. Call me for that too."


If these numbers are accurate and they ever become widely understood by the working class the torches and the pitchforks will be forthcoming.

If these numbers are accurate and they ever become widely understood by the working class the torches and the pitchforks will be forthcoming.

The working class turning on their Messiah. (What working class? All the prole jobs are in China).
A conservative wet-dream.

Conservative teabaggers would rather burn the country down than actually DO anything (socialism).

One way to create jobs is to collectivize all those giant corporate farms
and start the inevitable urban to rural mass migration.

ACORN's a'comin'.

If these numbers are accurate and they ever become widely understood by the working class the torches and the pitchforks will be forthcoming.

Does the average Joe care? When you look at the rape and pillage that these bankster criminals have carried out the more amazing fact is not the size of the bonuses but the fact that Joe and his six-pack mates haven't rioted already. Too lazy to care.

Hi Hacland, you may recall that sometime back I posted comments regarding a possible environmental backlash in your country if the lights and heat go off as the result of ill considered plans to go green too fast, thereby failing to ensure the availability of conventional energy such as coal , ng , and nuclear.

The people aren't imo too lazy to care -they are just to ill informed and in this country and in your country the real pain is so far not felt by the vast majority of the working class and lower middle class.

Even living in one of the poorer parts of the US I so far see extremely few truly destitute people and they are looked after in some fashion by local volunteer groups and by the social services agencies of our govt.

We have had riots here before , and we will have them again-on a far grander scale I am afraid.

If the economy continues to slide, as I expect it will, thre will be a large enough class of better educated and more politically active people in dire straights before too much longer to bring on a revolution of some sort.Of course the torches and pitchforks may be mostly metaphorical(some people are too intent on shooting off thier mouth to recognize a literary allusion or a metaphor ) but I personally saw heads busted and teargas used during the Vietnam era and some of us at least may remember the news footage of the DNC convention of 1968.

I wasn't there but a life long dyed in the wool liberal friend was.

It never ceases to amaze me how some folks can trot out history right and left to attack another position but never to take and defend a position.

Anybody who thinks the world has passed by the age of violent rebellion once things become intolerable is a damned fool.

Pitchforks are obsolete but torches aren't-and we nowadays have car bombs, ied's, and enough firearms in private hands to turn this country into a Somalia in short order.

Violent social upheavals have happened over and over throughout history.There is no reason to suppose that we are immune but plenty of reason to believe we are at risk.

Fools sometimes confuse night mares with wet dreams.

Mostly I remember to never argue with a fool in public but once in a long while I just can't resist.

Majorian you are an idiot and and oaf who apparently understands math but little if anything else except insults.

I have read your commentary for months without spotting a single positive remark of any sort except at long intervals.

Now I hereby renew my resolution to pretend you don't exist.Maybe you will get another rise out of me in few months down the road.

Even living in one of the poorer parts of the US I so far see extremely few truly destitute people...We have had riots here before , and we will have them again-on a far grander scale I am afraid....the economy continues to slide, as I expect it will, thre will be a large enough class of better educated and more politically active people in dire straights before too much longer to bring on a revolution of some sort.Of course the torches and pitchforks may be mostly metaphorical(some people are too intent on shooting off thier mouth to recognize a literary allusion or a metaphor ) but I personally saw heads busted and teargas used during the Vietnam era and some of us at least may remember the news footage of the DNC convention of 1968.....Anybody who thinks the world has passed by the age of violent rebellion once things become intolerable is a damned fool .... Pitchforks are obsolete but torches aren't-and we nowadays have car bombs , ieds , and enough firearms in private hands to turn this country into a Somalia in short order ..... Violent social upheavals have happened over and over throughout history.There is no reason to suppose that we are immune but plenty of reason to believe we are at risk.

Majorian ..I have read your commentary for months without spotting a single positive remark of any sort except at long intervals.

Positive as in extremely violent ?

I guess not.


The ad hom is way out of line.



I made a resolution a long time ago to ignore this poster but if you care to go thru his comments in relation to mine you will see that he has been asking for a fuss for a long time.When he stops referring to my comments as wet dreams and bullshit etc I gaurantee you I will never ever
mention his handle or refer to a comment made by the same.

I have posted several apologies here when I have INADVERTENTLY insulted other posters or misinterpreted thier comments.I am very SPARING of deliberate insults -I can't ever remember making one on this site except in relation to this character-who is a habitual offender.

Some days I'm a little stressed out and crabby and apt to fly off the handle.

I AM sorry that I have lowered the general high tone of the dialogue here and and hereby apologize for doing so.

It's fine to attack ideas. Attacking the people who hold them is something else.

And please watch your language.


I have simply REPEATED the language in question.

Someone on CNBC this morning called it a "Frito-Lay" policy. After the old Fritos ad that ended, "Eat all you want. We'll make more." In our case, it's "Spend all you want. We'll print more."

To be fair, the taxpayers, working class included, are as much at fault as anyone. We all want more services (or at least the services that we particularly use preserved), but we don't want to pay more taxes.

$162 billion a quarter or $648 billion a year in bonuses to people who create nothing of value would balance a lot of state budgets;)

And yet...most people ended up coming around on the bailout issue. Sure, if you ask them if fatcat bankers deserve bonuses, they'll say no. But ask them if it was worth it to avoid another Great Depression, most will say yes.

But ask them if it was worth it to avoid another Great Depression, most will say yes.

I'm definitely not one of the "most".

I look at the political/commercial/financial world in the U.S. the same way I look at wildfires. Every so often, it is vital for things to burn. If you stop the small burns for too long, you get a very large burn instead.

Same principle applies. We (the US) are setting up a much bigger wildfire, because we're not really changing anything in the political/commercial/financial world.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein

I look at the political/commercial/financial world in the U.S. the same way I look at wildfires. Every so often, it is vital for things to burn.

The risks from the fire are just too great. The original great depression brought us Hitler. Similar stress this time around could produce a comparably bad result, only with nuclear powers involved. So we gotta man the firebreaks and come up with the will to deal with the fuel buildup.

The risks are to BAU - or to some subset of BAU. That means we would be trying to save some good and some bad - or our personal vision of the status quo, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

The history of the Earth has shown pretty clearly that every so often things crash and then start over. Same thing with civilizations and empires. We may not like it, but there is nothing we can do to prevent it from happening. Ultimately, I don't think we are capable of putting our long-term interests ahead of our short-term interests - as a species.

Our biggest failing as a species is that we think we are in control.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein

Here of course Einstein was wrong by fare - Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg have shown that clearly! Everything is everytime a little different!

I'm definitely not one of the "most".

Me, neither. I voted for "none of the above" in the presidential election, because both major party candidates supported the bailout.

But face it, people who hang out here aren't normal Americans.

Some would say that the people who hang out here aren't normal Americans.

Most would say that the people who hang out here aren't REAL Americans.

And, therein lies the problem.

If it had actually avoided the depression, it probably would have been worth it. The problem is that it just pushed it off for a year or two.

Exactly. Nobody wants a Depression if it can be avoided. People who opposed the bailout, like Denninger, think we've only pushed it off...and probably made it worse when it does come.

Bonuses are given out annually, so the $162bn figure is already full year. I can't see where you got the assumption that this is a quarterly figure.

My goof. Thanks for catching it.

I was wondering if anyone here (or anywhere) has done any work or written any articles about waste-to-energy types of alternative energy systems. ie the process of heating municiple solid waste until it releases methane, and then burning the methane in a turbine to produce electricity. Are there any companies doing this profitably? what are the EROEI numbers?



You mean like this?

I assume this is going on all over, and at sewage treatment plants also.

Ashton - Here are a couple of local projects I know about;


and scroll down to where they begin methane extraction;


The City of Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada has been doing this for several years. About 20 years ago we had a very forward looking mayor who pushed several key environmental issues, including recycling and doing something with our garbage. Now we have a very healthy 'blue box' recycling program and a waste management system that generates methane and uses it for energy. Their website is Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence


I remember back in the 1930's there were many thermal power plants that burned combustible waste, like paper and cardboard. In upstate New York where I lived, we even had a plant that burned combustible waste and used the heat to dry and sterilize the sewage wastes, which were then sold as fertilizer. (And it sure stunk when it got rained on!). The thing that killed these projects was the widespread use of plastics after the war, which caused to much pollution when they got mixed in and burned with the other stuff.

That NPR interview with Latif is pretty sad. Part of the problem may be Latif's unsure command of the English language, which makes him unable to gauge the reaction by the general English speaking crowd to his use of words. Nevertheless, the NPR reporter should have done a much better job at clarifying the answers.

Re:Is Global Warming Unstoppable?

"Fundamentally, I believe the system is deterministic," says Garrett. "Changes in population and standard of living are only a function of the current energy efficiency. That leaves only switching to a non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power source as an available option."

"The problem is that, in order to stabilize emissions, not even reduce them, we have to switch to non-carbonized energy sources at a rate about 2.1 percent per year. That comes out to almost one new nuclear power plant per day."

"If society invests sufficient resources into alternative and new, non-carbon energy supplies, then perhaps it can continue growing without increasing global warming," Garrett says.

Does Garrett fear global warming deniers will use his work to justify inaction?

"No," he says. "Ultimately, it's not clear that policy decisions have the capacity to change the future course of civilization."

I cant' think of a thing that might refute Garrett's argument that the system is "deterministic". Perhaps the best we can hope for is a quick collapse. Interesting that he still rides a bike to work.


Joe, I normally never reply to global warming posts. Though I agree with almost everyone on this list that the current global warming trend is caused by human activity, I disagree with almost everyone because I believe there is not a damn thing we can do about it. The idea that we are going to stop burning coal and other fossil fuels in time to make a difference is ludicrous.

CO2 stays in the atmosphere on average of about 800 years before it is removed by natural processes. So it doesn’t matter how fast we burn the fossil fuel, it matters only how much of it we burn. And we will burn it all.

Of course we could just stop burning fossil fuel altogether and switch to nuclear.

"The problem is that, in order to stabilize emissions, not even reduce them, we have to switch to non-carbonized energy sources at a rate about 2.1 percent per year. That comes out to almost one new nuclear power plant per day."

One nuclear power plant per day! Yeah right, like that's going to happen.

The icecaps are going to melt. The glaciers will melt. The sea level will rise by several meters. Like our own impending death, we must learn to live with that fact.

Some say it could happen very quickly, and I agree that is a possibility. But in my opinion, a very remote possibility. Likely it will take about a century to play out. Perhaps a little less but almost certainly half a century.

Peak oil and total world economic collapse will happen in the next one or two decades, before the seas have risen even a foot. When the seas do finally begin to rise in earnest, the world will look entirely different, only a fraction of today’s human and wildlife population will be around to observe it.

Ron P.

Ron: When you're right you're right and this time you're right.

Thanks Brian. As they say even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in awhile. ;-)

Ron P.


Noboby could have said it better.

I expect your acorn stash is one of the biggest around and you don't find that many by accident.

Darwinian, while you may ultimately be proven correct, I think that you are missing an important point. The energy system we have includes both the supply system and the devices we have become accustomed to which use that energy. Both the supply system (such as coal or nuclear generators) and the devices (such as cars and houses) eventually wear out. Thus, there is always much underway to rebuild or replace both the supply and the demand.

What might happen, were we so motivated, would be a change in the replacement policy. Instead of building more fossil fuel based systems, such as the cars which run on oil, with more cars which run on oil, we could stop building oil powered cars and move to cars powered with renewable energy, such as electricity from wind or PV. A serious effort to accomplish this transition might work.

Or, perhaps, might have worked, had we begun the transition back in the 1970's when we had our first warning. Of course, the US didn't start the transition, continuing instead with BAU, especially in the 1980's after oil prices plummeted. Now, we appear to be at Peak Oil, after which the problem has become critical. After more than 35 years of thinking about such a transition, I'm afraid that you are correct and we won't find the motivation to change before there really isn't any possibility of getting it done in time to avert the worst outcome.

Here's hoping for another big oil shock real soon to get people off their respective behinds while there is some energy left for the transition...

E. Swanson

Also, don't forget that as long as we're operating in the growth paradigm, it doesn't matter whether we find an infinite, carbon-free energy source tomorrow: we'll just keep growing until we bump into the next limit, and the one after that, and the one after that....

I doubt we will ever hear any CEO of a Fortune 2000 company who will willingly renounce growth, nor a major politician. Thus, we will keep growing until the wheels fall off.

Unfortunately, many of my sustainability colleagues think that their work is actually making a difference in the grand scheme of things when they are really just making minor adjustments as the ship steams toward the iceberg (full disclosure: I once thought as they did, too).

This is the problem I have with my social justice work.
The intention is good, the action is less than skillful often times.
It is even worse with the sustainable people.

You have hit on why the article could be wrong. The writer, and I agree with his premise (In fact, I think we commented on this issue a few weeks ago here. At the time I posted a big Duh!, of COURSE energy = output!), treats the question as if what will be is what was. In such a case, he will most definitely be proven right. However, what he is not accounting for is a paradigm shift.

I don't know if he considered one and dismissed it or if he never considered one, but a paradigm shift to a steady-state economy would prove him, not wrong, just not as thorough as he might have been.

What is clear is we cannot just reduce energy use, we have to change how we live and how we use energy.


"We have to change how we live and how we use energy"

I think most folks here are planning on a future with less energy. Included in that, I think one has to accept that there will be a certain level of climate change, no matter what we do, and plan accordingly.

To be clear, I'm not advocating doing nothing about climate change - I think we still have the opportunity to prevent catastrophic changes by implementing good policy. Whether we will or not is debateable.

However, in the meanwhile, any thinking person would be eyeing the forecasts of potential changes to the area they live in, and planning accordingly.

examples :-
If your area is likely to become warmer and drier, have a better plan for storing drinking water, and look at drought-tolerant plant varieties, especially when planting trees

If your area is likely to experience more storms, look at varieties which do well in wetter, more humid conditions.

This link from the Arbor Day Foundation shows changes in plant hardiness zones from 1990 to 2006. My plant hardiness zone has gone from zone 5 to zone 6. That's whole different ballgame when selecting plant varieties, especially when considering ability to over-winter.


"We have no choice," said Andreas Pokropp, a former coal refinery worker. "We have to be green, even if we can't afford it."

Obviously, this coal worker, who has been benefitting from German coal subsidies for decades, is completley ignorant:

In fact, only 1.1 cents per kWh is being used to pay for feed-in tariffs for renewable energies such as wind, biomass and solar:

An average German household with 2 children thus pays only about 3 Euros per month for the feed-in tariffs. (Maybe this ignorant subsidized coal worker lives with his mother and has never had to pay for rent).

And this is besides the fact, that wind lowers the electricity prices more than what German electricity consumers pay for feed-in tariffs according to a study from EON.

And this is besides the fact, that the German wind industry generated over 90'000 jobs and exports 83% of its wind turbines with a profit as opposed to the tax-payer paid German coal worker who exports absolutely nothing.

Ummm, not exactly. It was Anthony Faiola from the Washington Post that claimed the electric rate was so high due to taxes. As far as being a "subsidized coal worker", his last job was as a technician with Nokia, not the coal industry. Nokia moved the plant to Romania for cheaper labor and tax incentives. Hardly his fault now, is it?

Funny, I never thought I'd hear a rant about coal workers, coal companies yes, workers no;-)

I have no idea to what political agenda Anthony Faiola is acting, but I read his story in disbelieve. I thought journalists had some sort of neutrality to cling to, this is nothing of the sort.

Germany's electricity prices are not the highest in Europe (look at [1], graph 3). Feed-in subsidies for this year are in the range of 1.5 to 2 ct/kWh on a total price of 1.19 Euro/kWh. Like user Anyone explained, an average German household pays about 40 Euro per year extra to pay for the renewable energy industry development.

Why comparing German prices to the USA when talking about renewables? This is quite another topic and has nothing to do with renewables.

Regarding the coalworker's attitude toward renewable energy; I guess he just worked long enough in that business where group processes ensure that any other form of electricity production is 'the enemy of coal' (which it is) and therefore of their income. Hence the finger pointing. I don't blame him for that, this is emotion. But the reporter should have filtered the bull from facts.

Job relocation to cheaper countries is happening in every developed country. In the USA also, despite the low energy price. It mostly has to do with cheaper labour, but mentioning it in conjunction with renewable energy makes the reader think it's the renewables fault.

That article is just plain propaganda against renewable energy. It would suit The Sun or the Daily Mail perfectly.

[1] European electricity prices:

I'd like to offer one more example of the potential energy savings with respect to commercial lighting. The other day I spoke of an office mall that we are currently auditing where the lighting load runs between 4.5 and 5.5-watts per sq. foot. This private office which is 11'6" x 15'8" is fairly representative. There are six 4-lamp fixtures, each drawing approximately 160-watts (the ballasts in the centre left fixture have failed).

We'll be replacing these fixtures one-for-one with 3-lamp troffers that draw 63-watts; with that, our lighting load falls from 5.3-watts to 2.1-watts per sq. foot. This particular complex -- one of several we'll be retrofitting on behalf of a property management firm -- is roughly 250,000 sq. ft. in size, so when you do the math the results are quite impressive. The utility's cost per kW of "new capacity" in this case is less than $700.00 CDN. Coal? Nuclear? Wind? Not even close.


My thoughts are a 1 lamp fixture, with reflector, over the door (no one works in a door way) and two lamp fixtures with reflectors for the rest. 95% reflective reflectors allow a further down rating.

My 2 cents (US or Can),


Hi Alan,

We're contractually obligated to ensure that light levels, post retrofit, are equal to or greater than what they were prior to the undertaking. On paper, a 3-lamp fixture with 28-watt lamps and a low-output ballast is going to drop light levels by about 20 per cent.

4-lamps x 2,650 mean lumens x 0.88 BF x 0.70 luminaire efficiency = 6,530 net lumens

3-lamps x 2,725 initial lumens x 0.77 BF x 0.85 luminaire efficiency = 5,350 net lumens

I'm counting on a combination of failed lamps and ballasts and dirt depreciation to make up the difference. We're also moving from 4,100K to 5,000K, so the space will appear brighter even if the light meter tells us otherwise.

Personally, I would be happy to go with 2-lamps across the board, but I don't want to risk having tenants complain to the landlord or NSP that light levels are less than what they had been previously (all it takes is one cranky pants to ruin my day). The solution is to have our guys put in two tubes and ask the occupant if they're satisfied with the results; if not, we pop in the centre lamp, close things up and move on. We can do this as a "courtesy" to the client with the hope that most folks will say yes, but if two lamps don't cut it and we end up adding a third, we've still delivered everything that was promised.


A decade ago I took a harder line when I redid an occupied office building. My "rule" was live with whatever I give you for one week. If, after 5 working days, it was not bright enough, we would come back and make adjustments. 5 floors, about 150 workers, and two requests :-)

If it meet IES standards, I was OK with it.

Reflectors do give more work surface illumination, but darker walls near the top & ceilings.

Hallways were one lamp, low BF (75% from memory) and a reflector. One 4' fixture every 8'. Not a good place to read a newspaper, but people could find their keys.

Fire escapes one 2', low BF fixture per landing.

I cut 22 tons from the air conditioning load. The savings in a/c equipment paid for about half the retrofit costs.

Best Hopes for more,


Hi Alan,

Not an unreasonable suggestion, but I have to abide by the requirement of the programme and I'm cutting it very thin as it is. With three lamps, I'm at 2.1-watts/ft2 and where we can get away with two (with the occupant's permission), we're down to 1.4-watts; assuming the mix is more or less 50-50, we will have cut the building's lighting load by roughly two-thirds, and that's about as far as I want to push my luck.

BTW, my fall back if we should come up short and there is a complaint is to swap out the lower wattage T8s for the 32-watt version -- this will boost light levels by about 10 per cent.


Paul, what do you know about such programs as yours here in the states ?

I expect we are as usual bringing up the rear but with electricity costs rising fast retrofitting older lighting systems should be a growth industry soon.


I understand a number of New England utilities offer a similar programme but I don't know if the incentives are quite as generous. You might find some information at http://www.neec.org/member_directory/members_search.asp?SearchFor=lighti...

I sometimes wish there were more hours in the day and more days in the month because I'm finding it hard to keep up with the workload. I just received an e-mail from my counterpart at NSP who is also working past midnight that there are eighteen new customers I need to contact later this morning to book audits.


Hey Mac,

I'm just beginning to explore this as a business opportunity myself in addition to selling PV.
Yesterday I visited a potential new client. I went to see them on a reference from a satisfied commercial PV customer of mine. They really thought PV would work for them as well. We are talking an upscale 30 story residential condo. Quite frankly I was flabbergasted at their electric bill, almost $26,000 a month. Unfortunately they only have enough usable roof space to put in maybe a 15KW system, not enough to make even a small dent in their bill. So the next obvious place to look for savings is to retrofit much of the building with LEDs. We are in the process of doing a cost benefit payback analysis for them but even a back of the envelope calculation has shown significant potential savings with a payback on the order of less than two years.

They are already in the process of replacing all their hot water heaters with more efficient ones.
I wish there were also a good solution for their AC needs.

However no matter how you slice or dice it their lighting needs are still the lowest hanging fruit on the savings tree.

$26K a month sounds huge, but 30 floors of condos probably houses a lot of people. I suspect the consumption per capita is a lot lower than suburbia already. Does LED lighting really constitute a good solution? Paul ( in Halfiax) makes a strong case that CFL's are both more efficient and much cheaper. I am agreed that LEDs are esthetically a lot better, but aren't they still a few improvements shy of being ready for the primetime?

Generally, negawatts ought to be considered before PV. But you can't push your prospective clients where they don't want to go. I suspect a lot of PV is installed, as an alternative to seriously considering conservation, rather than the final step of the program. Perhaps PV, plus a meter for each of the clients which shows how much of their usage is being supplied by the PV versus from the grid might incentivise indivdual savings. The smart meter folks claim easy usage info cuts demand substantially. As an energy geek that wouldn't apply tome, I've already done the homework, but I suspect this might apply to the other 99% of the population.

Generally, negawatts ought to be considered before PV. But you can't push your prospective clients where they don't want to go. I suspect a lot of PV is installed, as an alternative to seriously considering conservation, rather than the final step of the program. Perhaps PV, plus a meter for each of the clients which shows how much of their usage is being supplied by the PV versus from the grid might incentivise indivdual savings. The smart meter folks claim easy usage info cuts demand substantially.

You are probably right that there are a lot of people who think that installing PV as an alternative to conservation is the way to go. These people are highly unlikely to actually install it when they look at the numbers. I imagine that there are unscrupulous installers who will try to sell them something. I won't! The example I cited above would have been an easy sale for me since I was highly recommended to them by a previous happy client. They would not have been happy with the results. Instead I decided to educate them as to what they could expect.

Negawatts in this case is not an option but more efficient lights (LEDs have come a very long way recently) makes sense in their particular case.

As for providing an easily accessible meter where they can monitor their own usage, this is a proven way to reduce consumption.

5. Information flows.

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

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

Hi EoS,

I'm taking a conservative approach with LEDs, at least until there's more real-world feedback. Nothing I've seen so far has tipped the balance, although Cree's LR6 looks quite promising.

If this condo is on a demand meter, I'd take a long hard look at their load factor. Anything you can do to improve this (i.e., load shifting/load control) can make a world of difference.


If this condo is on a demand meter, I'd take a long hard look at their load factor. Anything you can do to improve this (i.e., load shifting/load control) can make a world of difference.

Tks Paul, since I myself am still a bit new at this I will be posing a lot of question to our electrical engineering department.

Since you are in South Florida, I would guess that much of the electric demand is for water heating. Have you considered energy recovery from the waste water yet? All that warm water going down the drain from washing cloths and bathing could be used to heat the supply water. With so many condos it's possible that all the waste water could be channeled into a large tank with the warm water from the top being pumped thru a heat exchanger to heat the supply water. The design to deal with the solids would be a mess, but solids in the sewage are often handled by pumping it out of a tank. To my mind, there's no special need for cold water, so why not deliver warm water to everyone? As it is, these days lots of folks drink bottled water...

E. Swanson

Interesting questions Black_Dog, there is an awful lot I don't know but most of what you suggest is simply outside our area of expertise. Our specialty is really commercial and residential PV systems.


To my mind, there's no special need for cold water, so why not deliver warm water to everyone? As it is, these days lots of folks drink bottled water...

I doubt too many people would agree with that...

FMagyar, could you clarify something for Me? Is that $26000 a month for just the common areas and each unit has it's own meter too?

Or is that the total for the entire building and each tenant essentially gets their electric for free? If so this would lead to a lot of waste by tenants.

As far as I understand it that just their common area. Granted even though this is only a 30 story building it is also quite spread out with multiple wings. BTW most of the common areas seem to require 24/7 lighting. To be honest this figure is from conversation with the building management. I have yet to see an actual electrical bill and the complete list of all their fixtures and other details and the electrical schematics.

Individual condo owners have their own meters.

Paul, I got a question for you. Presumably incandescent bulbs are slated to go away -or at least become nearly unobtainable. A college says his buddy in Wisconsin can't use them (for outdoor or unheated spaces) as they won't work in low temps. Now Wisconsin cold snaps are colder than Nova Scotia, as there is no moderation by water, but they are probably close enough for comparison. So what will be available for outdoor and unheated aplications?

Hi EoS,

"High efficiency" incandescents (HEI) which are actually halogen-IR lamps meet the new federal lighting standard. Philip's 70-watt HEI provides the same amount of light as a regular 100-watt incandescent and the 40-watt version replaces a 60-watt. Lamp life is 3,000 hours versus 750 or 1,000 hours for a typical household incandescent. Osram Sylvania's HEI which should hit store shelves later this month draws 72-watts; it too meets the new 2012 standard. You can purchase these Philips products at Home Depot and the Osram Sylvania offerings will be available at Lowe's (and eventually everywhere else).

See: http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/download/p-8609.pdf

The "next" next generation of halogen-IR lamps will likely have integrated 12-volt transformers in addition to IR capsule coatings. These lamps are roughly twice as efficient as the ones they replace.

See: http://www.lighting.philips.com/gl_en/news/press/innovations/2008/home_e...

The future is bright !


I have 2 of them in my living room where there replace 2 classic halogen of 20 W (12V) which naturally died after a few years of service...the new ones are great, the difference with their predecessor is huge!

Hi mehdirah,

The IR coatings on the inner halogen capsule boost light output 30 to 40 per cent. A 20-watt MR16 IR can comfortably replace a standard 35-watt MR16 and the 35 or 37-watt version can replace a conventional 50-watt MR16. I sometimes substitute 20-watt MR16 IRs for a standard 50-watt and still get acceptable performance, i.e., wherever there's an opportunity to dial things back a bit.


has anybody thought of selling 'compact electric heating units' which happen to have as an integral part of their design a rather bright 'indicator' light? one that might come in, say, a 100W rating and conveniently screw into
a lightbulb socket? certainly nobody would want to offend al gore by using those awful incandescent lights, but
you know, a lot of folks use electric heaters, and it _is_ quite handy to be able to see at a glance if the thing
is turned on or not.

Seriously, this constant talk (and very dangerous talk when it comes from politicians!) about efficiency is like
arguing how to improve the aerodynamics of the profile of your sneakers as you're hurtling to the ground having just fallen out of an airplane. There is no way this pig is ever going to fly, and is is both cruelly deceiving to give people the false hope of salvation by ordering them to buy fluorescent light bulbs (or whatever the gimmick might be), as well as genuinely harmful in that it only permits the whole mess to pick up a bit more speed in those last moments before it crashes into the ground.

Hi zurisee,

What are you proposing as a more suitable course of action, or do you have one?

My focus is no doubt narrower than your own. My mission, simply put, is to help promote the efficient use of energy and thereby lessen the environmental harm associated with its consumption. I'm not out to save the world nor mankind, although both are laudable goals.


"Sea level rise could cost port cities $28 trillion"

"London, England (CNN) -- A possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets in the world's largest coastal cities, according to a report compiled for the insurance industry.

The value of infrastructure exposed in so-called "port mega-cities," urban conurbations with more than 10 million people, is just $3 trillion at present."


I think it is fair to say that climate change will become official when the insurance companies start dropping coverage for damages caused by it;-)

I don't know if they do that, but the reinsurance companies (the insurers's insurers) have been publicly worried about global warming for many years.

I started thinking about this, and it covers a really broad scope - hurricanes, flooding, storm damage, crop failure, all kinds of outages.
I imagine we're going to see a huge jump in deductibles, and property insurance will become like health insurance - unaffordable. And everyone is already in.

Insurance companies are quite worried about this. There's an article from the Allianz web site in today's DrumBeat - and they aren't the only one worrying. It's frequently covered in insurance industry journals, etc.

Cool and scary at the same time...thanks.

Is global warming unstoppable??

I really want to bash out at this guy...

No crap! I cant believe this retarded article came out now. We've been talking about global warming for more than a decade and it just occurs to some guy in Utah now that we aren't going to do anything about it... we live in a weird world. What this person needs to understand is that its human nature to ravage and eat up resources for economic benefit no matter the consequences. At the end of the day, both our economic trains of thought, Keynesian and Classical, say we should do nothing about global warming. While Keynes tells you you aren't going to live for ever so use up all you can now and don't worry about 60 years from you, Classical tells you keep doing what you're doing and it'll get fixed by the market eventually...

Moreover why would an economic collapse stop global warming?

Global warming is and has always been unstoppable as the CO2 that is already warming the earth is already in the atmosphere and is hence blocking the sun's rays from escaping. NOT EMITTING MORE CO2 WILL NOT MAGICALLY MAKE ALL THE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE DISAPPEAR. Jesus Christ are these people really our scientists?

Without reading the article, I think there's likely to be much truth in the report. However, the suggestion that economic growth, i.e., productive output, increases in lock step with overall energy consumption has been around for decades. That's because or the historical link that was shown in the data before the Arab OPEC Oil Embargo in 1973 and the Iranian Crisis in 1979. After that time, the economy continued to grow, while the use of the now more expensive energy did not climb as fast. Also, in Europe and Japan, the GDP to energy use is about twice that of the U.S., which suggests that there is not a hard and fast relationship between the two. Geographic factors and lifestyle differences have led to higher energy use in the U.S., perhaps the result of the fact that the U.S. once had large oil and coal resources and exploited them rapidly.

The other possible issue is that the input of primary energy from the sun which passes thru the agricultural sector of the economy is usually taken as as a "free good". By not counting this solar energy input, the accounting can be skewed considerably. Agricultural production is the foundation upon which all civilization rests, indeed, all human activities (that is, people) are solar powered. The fact that the U.S. is able to produce more food than it's population can consume has allowed exports of the solar energy contained within the agricultural products. This has allowed the U.S. to pay for imports of oil with food, thus keeping BAU operating within the rest of the economy.

The report should be interesting. I hope to read it when it appears.

EDIT: An earlier version of Garrett's work appeared online in Nov 2008. A preprint of the latest version of the report is available HERE

E. Swanson

Раскройте пожалуйста тему пошире или объясните в чем суть