Drumbeat: December 16, 2009

Venezuela May Slow Refining as Drought Hits Dams, Curim Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela, site of the biggest refinery complex in the Americas, may process less oil as a drought reduces power generation, said the chief executive officer of Curim Capital Advisors LLC.

“We could lose about 200,000 barrels a day in the global market, which would most likely affect heating oil, and China in particular,” Curim CEO Colin Fenton said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It would affect products.”

Apollo 14 Astronaut Urges America to Rethink its Approach to Sustainability

When former astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell addressed a group of Rotarians at an international conference in the early 1970s, he warned that peak oil was on the horizon and that the American economy wouldn’t be sound forever. Thirty years later, his warnings have become today’s reality.

Mitchell, D.Sc., founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, discussed his latest focus—sustainability and the need to raise awareness about the issue—at a seminar on carbon neutrality on Dec. 15 at Fordham University.

"Now we’re talking population, water, deforestation and species extinction. I sound a lot like I did 40 years ago," Mitchell said. "We don’t have a lot of time. It will either get better if we do something about it, or it will get suddenly worse."

Peak Oil, Peak Food

The single greatest challenge facing our modern economic food chain is the insanely unnatural low cost of food to the consumer, making the simple and necessary act of eating dependent on food that is almost free. The global edifice of cheap food rests on the volatility of a single input; the exponentially depleting supply of easy, cheap oil. We are gorging ourselves at the $1.99 all-you-can-eat oil buffet. Food is too cheap, a "correction" is coming, and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

China unlikely to support anti-nuclear sanctions against oil ally Iran

China will seek to stave off new UN sanctions against Tehran even as Iran ups the ante, experts on the relationship between the two countries say.

China's backing for sanctions is essential because of its security council veto, and because its expanding economic ties with Iran would otherwise weaken their impact.

Official says Iran wasting gas

About ten million cubic metres of gas are being wasted per day in Iran's biggest natural gas field because it is not using the latest technology, according to local news reports.

Dimethyl ether: The unknown fuel that's gaining fame

A clean fuel that's already gaining traction in Asia could be getting a toehold in Canada, just in time to help northwest B.C.'s hard-hit forest industry.

Dimethyl ether, or DME, is almost unknown in North America but may soon get a big boost here from new tough emission standards coming to the U.S.

Wind turbine noise is not a health risk, says trade group report

The American Wind Energy Assn., the country’s main wind-power trade group, released a report today that said the sounds generated by wind turbines were not a health risk.

The report argues that the levels and frequencies of the noise are no more significant than those normally present in cities or other urban environments.

Expansion of wind credits too costly: minister

P.E.I. does not have the technology it needs to allow for an expansion of credits available to small-scale wind power producers, says Energy Minister Richard Brown.

With the world watching, Canada draws line in the oil sands

The Canadian government is leaving the door open to special tax breaks for the oil and gas industry to preserve its competitive position once proposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions kick in.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice said the proposed Waxman-Markey climate-change legislation in the United States might grant special breaks to “trade-exposed” industries – energy-intensive businesses that are vulnerable to international competition.

The Missing ‘P’ Word in Climate Talks

COPENHAGEN — If you scan the most recent drafts of the climate agreement that delegates here are trying to complete, you’ll have a hard time finding the word population. I’m quite sure it’s not there. (Please let me know if you find it.) This is politically unsurprising, given how discussions of population growth inflame those fearing control measures, those with religious concerns about contraception and sometimes those seeing underpopulation where others see a problem. (There are other interesting reactions when the intersection of climate and population is explored.)

U.S. to join 'research alliance' on farm emissions

The United States will join 20 other countries in a "research alliance" to better understand -- and prevent -- greenhouse gas emissions from farms, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday.

Nuclear Power Expansion in China Stirs Concerns

SHENZHEN, China — China is preparing to build three times as many nuclear power plants in the coming decade as the rest of the world combined, a breakneck pace with the potential to help slow global warming.

China’s civilian nuclear power industry — with 11 reactors operating and construction starting on as many as an additional 10 each year — is not known to have had a serious accident in 15 years of large-scale electricity production.

And with China already the largest emitter of gases blamed for global warming, the expansion of nuclear power would at least slow the increase in emissions.

Yet inside and outside the country, the speed of the construction program has raised safety concerns. China has asked for international help in training a force of nuclear inspectors.

'Who Turned Out the Lights?' Makes Understanding Energy Matters Simple, Delightful

Anyone who's plowed through the typical book about energy and energy related subjects such as climate change will tell you the Internal Revenue Code or the telephone book is fun reading compared with an energy tome.

This definitely isn't the case with "Who Turned Out the Lights?" (Harper Paperbacks, 368 pages, $16.99) by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson. Thanks to frequent references to movies and popular songs relevant to the energy topics under discussion "Who Turned Out the Lights?" is actually fun to read.

Shell shipping Houston jobs overseas

Royal Dutch Shell has publicly announced it will slash 5,000 jobs by year end—including “hundreds” in Houston—as part of a sweeping reorganization new CEO Peter Voser said is needed to make the company more competitive.

But under a separate program, the European oil giant has been quietly transferring additional office jobs from Houston and elsewhere to India and the Philippines to reduce costs, according to internal Shell documents obtained by the Chronicle and a person familiar with the plan.

Mexico Credit Rating May Be Cut Further, Ramirez Says

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s credit ratings may be cut further next year as the budget gap swells more than the government forecast, said Rogelio Ramirez de la O, the economist who predicted the 1994 peso devaluation.

The deficit will widen to at least 5 percent of gross domestic product next year, almost double the government’s forecast of 2.8 percent, as the economic slump erodes tax revenue, Ramirez said. Standard & Poor’s cut Mexico one level to BBB, the second-lowest investment-grade rating, on Dec. 14, three weeks after Fitch Ratings made the same move on concern falling oil output was driving up the deficit.

Mexico Wages May Decline for Fourth Year as Inflation Quickens

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican wages may decline for a fourth year in 2010 as the government seeks to quell inflation spurred by tax and energy increases and the economy recovers from its worst recession since the 1930s.

Inflation climbs to 1.9% on fuel rise

LONDON (Reuters) - British consumer price inflation rose last month at its fastest annual pace since May, though the monetary policy implications are limited as the rise is largely due to sharp falls in oil prices a year ago.

Holiday travelers: Expect crowded highways

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Expect crowded skies and highways if you're planning to travel this holiday season, as millions more take to the road, according to a forecast issued Wednesday by motorist group AAA.

Holiday travel is expected to jump 3.8% compared to last year, an increase of more than 3 million travelers compared to the 2008 season, AAA said.

U.S. Companies Price New Debt Cheaper Than Old: New Issue Alert

(Bloomberg) -- Geokinetics Inc., the provider of seismic-data services to oil and gas companies, plans to sell $275 million of notes as rising demand allows borrowers to issue debt at prices below existing securities.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said in a report that companies issued debt last week at yield premiums of about a quarter of a percentage point less than secondary-market trading levels, the first time by their estimate that average so-called concessions “turned decisively negative.” Typically, borrowers have to offer a premium to attract investors.

CNOOC pairs up in South China Sea

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) said today that it has signed a production sharing contract with UK player BG Group for Block 63/16 in the South China Sea.

China Beats EU to Turkmen Gas

In a setback for Europe's hopes to obtain more natural gas from Central Asia, Turkmenistan and China have opened a major new pipeline built at lightning speed.

Brazil Agrees to Pay More for Bolivian Natural Gas, Estado Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state oil company, agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion more for natural gas supplied by its Bolivian counterpart Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos until 2019, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, without saying where it got the information.

Iraq readies contract signing date

Iraq is preparing to host leading energy companies later this month to seal contracts on seven major oilfield deals, the Oil Ministry said today.

Iraq Oil Licensing Takes Off

Iraq held its second oil and gas licensing round Dec. 11-12 and succeeded in awarding seven of 10 tendered licenses. This compares very favorably with the award of just one of eight offered fields in the first licensing round in June. The partial failure of the first licensing round contributed to far better pre-bid communication between the Oil Ministry Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate and the international operating companies (IOCs) before this round.

Nigeria: No fuel till next year

THOSE hoping that the current fuel shortage in Lagos and other cities would soon ease off had better have a rethink.

Indications emerged yesterday that there is no immediate end to the crisis, which started three days ago and has grounded economic and social activities, as there is every likelihood that it may persist till the end of January 2010.

Gas firms 'have overcharged UK households by £454m'

More than 5m British households have been overcharged by gas suppliers such as E.ON and British Gas to the tune of £454m, according to a new survey.

They are owed an average of £89 because many companies have not reduced their direct debit charges after cutting tariffs this year, claims comparison site moneysupermarket.com. More than four million of the affected households have not asked for their cash back, resulting in £363m being unclaimed.

ANALYSIS - Any Chevron shale gas foray must "move the needle"

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chevron Corp, the second largest oil company in the U.S., would want to "move the needle" if it made a major push into U.S. shale gas, a sector that Exxon Mobil Corp put in the spotlight with its planned acquisition of XTO.

Natural gas shortages worsen in China's Wuhan - media

BEIJING (Reuters) - Natural gas shortages have worsened in Wuhan city, state media reported, only weeks after the capital of central China's Hubei province was hit by the worst supply crunch since the clean fuel was introduced.

Industrial and commercial natural gas users have been cut off from gas supplies since Monday as demand surged due to cold weather, the ChuTian Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday, citing an official with the city gas distributor.

Damning New Evidence Raises Concerns About Threats to New York's Water from Gas Drilling

The Lytles did eventually sign, on Feb. 7, 2007, with one contractual addendum: Were they to experience any problems with their drinking water, the responsibility would fall on Chesapeake to cover the damage. The company agreed, and for months no drilling took place. Then October came, cloudy and cold. Chesapeake finally began exploration, employing a technique called hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking for short), which involves shooting millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. Just one day after the drilling started, Lytle noticed that something had gone wrong with her water quality.

"I went to go to the bathroom and the toilet water was gray," she said. "There was sediment in it."

Natural Gas: New Environmental Rules Could Cloud Prospects

Concerns about the impact of methods used to extract gas from shale deposits could lead to tough restrictions—and crimp output for some producers

Oil sands emissions polluting waterways, study finds

Water pollution levels around the Athabasca River and its tributaries have risen because of emissions from the oil sands, a research paper released Monday says , contradicting a view in the energy industry and the Alberta government that the massive mining of bitumen hasn't contaminated waterways.

The finding, published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is likely to add to the environmental headaches of the oil sands industry, which has been in a negative spotlight for its large-scale emissions of greenhouse gases.

After bulb battle, utility offers voluntary plan

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Map, News) - An Ohio power company is making a new energy efficiency proposal that includes a smaller role for the energy-saving light bulbs that sparked a backlash.

In a revised plan that FirstEnergy Corp. filed with state regulators on Tuesday, consumers will get compact fluorescent bulbs from the company only if they request them.

Will ban on electronics in landfills be an environmental disaster?

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Tires, beer bottles, a gun safe: David Strahan has found just about everything in the Willamette River.

Strahan is boiling over his latest discovery. On Monday, he found a computer monitor and hard drive in a creek that feeds in the Mill Race, which flows into the river.

"If the monitor was broken, I couldn't see it because it was face down," said Strahan, a volunteer with Willamette River Keepers. "Powdered lead is immediately dispersed into the water and there's no getting it back."

Strahan fears illegal dumping will get far worse when a new law takes effect in January.

Delmarva's chicken production drops as recession closes in on farmers

Big poultry companies now are taking a cautious approach to any growth, after seeing profits battered by rising feed prices, reduced consumption and uncertainties in global export markets.

The shift is a sobering one for a business that has left an indelible mark on the state and region, creating an insatiable feed demand that helps to keep hundreds of thousands of acres in corn, soybeans and small grains.

Family traditions and community cultures built up in those fields have countered intense pressure to turn over land for development, protecting habitats, open space and even the character of Delaware. Taxpayers have backed up that reverence for the land with tens of millions in subsidies to help farmers resist commercial buyers.

‘We must mobilise as for war’

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that Jeremy Leggett could be that man. Not because he’s a former oil man turned Greenpeace campaigner, one of the world’s foremost experts on renewable power, energy policy and climate change and founder of the photovoltaic tile manufacturer SolarCentury, as well as a solar-for-development charity, SolarAid, and the world’s first private equity fund for renewable energy. But because he has been beating the peak oil drum for years – and in November came news that we might just be closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit.

Building New Neighborhoods in Syracuse, Using Some Pieces of the Old

By buying the flour left over from soy production and using perennial supplies of lightweight fibers rather than diminishing stocks of lumber, e2e can significantly lower the amount of dedicated energy it takes to construct a house, according to the company’s chief executive, Patrick Govang. This avoided fuel use, Mr. Govang added, means that, over time, e2e’s product will generate significantly fewer carbon emissions than wood. The company also recently started trying to grow flax within the state, he said.

Sunspots do not cause climate change, say scientists

Leading scientists, including a Nobel Prize-winner, have rounded on studies used by climate sceptics to show that global warming is a natural phenomenon connected with sunspots, rather than the result of the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide.

The researchers – all experts in climate or solar science – have told The Independent that the scientific evidence continually cited by sceptics to promote the idea of sunspots being the cause of global warming is deeply flawed.

Scientists Sound Biomass Alarm; Is Copenhagen Listening?

The notion in some pro-biomass circles is that biomass is a renewable resource. As plants grow, they absorb carbon and when it is burned it converts the plant's carbon back into atmospheric CO2. The result, as interpreted by the Kyoto Protocol, is that burning biomass must then be carbon neutral.

Not necessarily, argues Searchinger and his colleagues, which includes researchers from Duke University, Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, Michigan State University, among others. Their discontent relies heavily on the fact that our forests act as carbon sinks, or areas of land that store excessive CO2 and other sediments. Without carbon sinks, the effects of global warming could be exacerbated immensely.

UK must invest in green technologies or lose out to other countries, MPs warn

Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society will be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills unless the government significantly increases its investment in the sector, a group of MPs have warned. They said that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created if the government doubled its funding of green technologies, making the UK a world leader in a market worth £3tr worldwide.

Real Solutions to the Energy and Climate Crises

As my regular readers know, I've spent much of this year contemplating big themes, like the long-term picture for energy, energy and monetary policy, black swans and the human penchant for valuing the present more than the future, the problems of complex systems like the energy-food-water nexus, sustainability, and the relationship between climate change and peak oil. As this year draws to a close and I review my work, the biggest question that emerges is about why it is so incredibly difficult to reach people on these subjects.

It’s more than the usual culprits. Yes, the corporate media and the ad-supported business model are problems—like when I was called a “peak freak” on television and given no opportunity to respond to my opponent’s disinformation. Yes, the overweening influence of corporate lobbyists has effectively neutralized policy and confused the public debate on our most serious problems. Yes, the capitalistic system favors short-term concentrated profits over long-term public good. And yes, the simple human preference for happy talk over sad stories plays a role in our denial.

The real problem is much more pervasive. Those actors cannot explain more fundamental questions: Why has our economic theory failed us? Why is the reality of climate change so hard to accept? Why does climate change dominate public dialogue while the more proximate threat of peak oil remains far off the radar? Why do we have such resistance to change? Why would anyone ever think Dubai World was a good idea? Why is talking about population control—arguably the only real way out of our predicament—taboo?

Jeff Rubin: Why you won't want to rely on OPEC down the road

OPEC, together with two non-cartel oil producers, Russia and Mexico, consumes 14.5 million barrels of oil per day. That’s nearly twice as much as China, in case anybody is keeping track. Oil demand among OPEC members has been growing at well over double the world average. And the more these countries consume their own oil, the less they have to export to you.

So what makes oil-producing countries so thirsty for their own fuel?

Well, if you’ve ever been to a gas station in Caracas you’ll have some sense of it.

A taxi driver there is filling up for 25 cents a gallon with the same oil you thought Petróleos de Venezuela was going to be exporting to you for $70 per barrel.

Gulf 'not threatened' by Iraq's oil output plans

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Energy-rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council do not feel threatened by Iraq's plans to massively expand its oil production, Kuwait's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Iraq has awarded a number of contracts to international oil companies with the aim of boosting its crude production from the current 2.5 million barrels per day to above 10 million bpd during the next several years.

"We are not threatened by Iraq's plans to expand its oil production," Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah, whose country is the current president of the GCC, told a press conference.

Oil up above $71 as US crude supply seen higher

Oil prices edged above $71 a barrel Wednesday as the dollar weakened, but gains were tempered by a U.S. crude supply report showing an unexpected rise in inventories last week.

...U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly rose last week, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday. Crude stocks rose 920,000 barrels while analysts had expected a drop of 2.0 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Oil Rallying to $80 After Finding Support: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil is set to rally to $80 a barrel after finding support around $70, according to technical analysis by Auerbach Grayson, a brokerage in New York.

Prices will initially move up to challenge resistance at $75 a barrel, according to Richard Ross, an analyst at Auerbach Grayson. A close above $75 would set the market up to retest the $79-to-$80 area, Ross said.

Key Mackenzie pipeline report expected Dec. 31

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A long-delayed regulatory report on the C$16.2 billion ($15.3 billion) Mackenzie gas pipeline from Canada's Arctic is likely to be released on Dec. 31, the Northwest Territories' industry minister said on Tuesday.

The report, to be issued by the Joint Review Panel examining the environmental, socioeconomic and cultural impact of the project, is needed before the National Energy Board (NEB) can rule on whether the line can proceed.

Woodside’s Pluto Among Oil, Gas Projects Targeted by Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd.’s A$13 billion ($11.7 billion) Pluto project will be disrupted by a four-day strike by employees contracted to provide services to Australia’s offshore oil and gas rigs, a union official said.

Angola’s Daily Crude Exports Are Scheduled to Drop in February

(Bloomberg) -- Angola, which is vying with Nigeria to be Africa’s biggest oil producer, plans to ship about 2.2 percent less crude oil per day in February than in the previous month, according to preliminary loading schedules.

Exxon LNG Project Arranges $14 Billion in Financing

(Bloomberg) -- The Exxon Mobil Corp.-led liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea arranged as much as $14 billion in financing, clearing the way for construction to begin next year, said Oil Search Ltd., a partner in the venture.

The commitments from banks and export credit agencies will be more than enough to meet the anticipated $13 billion of debt required for the project, Port Moresby-based Oil Search said in a statement today. Oil Search has estimated the project will cost $15 billion. With financing costs, that would rise to about $18.3 billion, spokeswoman Ann Diamant said by telephone today.

Laurence tops cyclone scale

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has upgraded Cyclone Laurence to a category five storm - the highest possible grading - as its winds strengthened sharply, gusting up to 285 kilometres per hour.

Players operating in Laurence's path off Western Australia's Kimberley region have already evacuated installations and shut in output ahead of the cyclone's arrival.

“Laurence is a small but very intense tropical cyclone having very destructive winds,” the bureau said.

Kerala Plans 1st Islamic Bond as Dubai May Curb Funds

Islamic finance may help India raise the $500 billion it needs to spend on infrastructure by 2014 as it seeks to sustain the second-fastest pace of growth among major economies, according to national government estimates. Islamic bond sales almost doubled to a record $31 billion in 2007 on Arab oil earnings before plunging last year as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. shuttered credit markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Crude oil will climb to $82 a barrel in the first quarter of next year from about $71 now as demand from emerging markets increases, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. forecasts.

Iran Missile Test May Increase Sanctions, Brown Says

(Bloomberg) -- Iran may face harsher sanctions over its nuclear program as a result of the Persian Gulf country’s latest test of a medium-range missile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

“This is a matter of serious concern to the international community and it does make the case for us moving further on sanctions,” Brown told reporters after meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Copenhagen, where they are attending a summit on climate change.

The Tehran-Caracas Nuclear Axis

Iran would certainly require large and reliable supplies of uranium if it is going to enrich the nuclear fuel in 10 separate plants—an ambition Ahmadinejad spelled out last month. It would also require an extensive financial and logistical infrastructure network in Venezuela, not to mention unusually good political connections. All this it has in spades.

Exxon Mobil Makes $30 Billion Bet

It is our opinion that Peak Oil is a promotion of the powers-that-be, a positioning of energy resources so that the most power and wealth can be extracted from the least amount of product. Consider that in America especially - where we believe the promotion is most aggressive - much oil comes from overseas and a good deal of the rest comes from offshore. Meanwhile something like 60 percent of available land for prospecting is locked up by the federal government.

This is no coincidence in our humble opinion. If you want to take a resource and create demand for it as an expensive substance the first thing you need to do is make it scarce. And if you can't make it scarce, at least make it expensive to produce. This Big Oil has been able to do, it seems to us. It can't legislate scarcity but it can surely raise the barriers to entry. Want to drill for oil? Sure, but not in my backyard, or yours.

China Has No Plan to Change Fuel-Pricing Mechanism

(Bloomberg) -- China has no plan to change its fuel-pricing mechanism for now, a spokesman from the National Development and Reform Commission said by phone from Beijing.

Newspaper reports that the NDRC may shorten the calculation period for adjusting domestic gasoline and diesel prices to less than 22 days and that the government will ensure a 200 yuan ($29) a-metric-ton refining margin for refiners are “speculative”, the spokesman said today.

Russia labors as neighbors do deals

Russian officials insist that the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline project, which this week passed an important milestone in its development, is not a matter of Moscow's concern. Moscow, however, has been struggling to sustain its earlier gas agreements with Ashgabat.

Qatar considers extra LNG for India

Qatar has agreed to consider India's request to supply an additional 5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year on a long-term basis, India's Oil Ministry said today.

South Hook LNG U.K. Natural Gas Flows Reach Intraday Record

(Bloomberg) -- Natural-gas flows from the U.K.’s South Hook terminal into the network reached a record today as cold weather in Britain raised demand for the heating fuel.

EDF Connects Chinon-2 as French Power Demand Approaches Record

(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, started up the 900-megawatt Chinon-2 nuclear reactor as French power demand was forecast to reach near-record levels tomorrow amid a cold snap.

EDF now has three out of four reactors at the Chinon plant in operation with unit 3 halted for a once-a-decade inspection by safety authorities, according to a statement on the Paris- based utility’s Web site.

Nigeria destroys 600 illegal oil refineries

Nigeria's military has destroyed about 600 illegal oil refineries in the Niger Delta and arrested seven oil thieves, the military said on Tuesday.

Details of the refineries were not immediately available, but industry officials said they could be makeshift structures where oil thieves distil crude into fuel for sale in Nigeria, which experiences frequent disruptions in gasoline supplies.

Gold / Oil Price Ratio Favors Precious Metal Miners

Thus, while energy costs are a tremendously important factor in determining the profitability of any particular mine/miner, analyzing this dynamic is not as simple as we might believe at first glance. For those investors who do their homework, this should provide them with an advantage over many less-diligent buyers and sellers.

After classifying miners into those with open-pit operations and those with underground mines, investors must become familiar with how a miner's power needs are being met. Is it from the national energy-grid, or private generators? If from a national grid, is it hydro-power, oil-power, or perhaps even nuclear power (in more advanced jurisdictions)?

Congress should back energy incentives soon: Obama

ALEXANDRIA, Va (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to create incentives for American households to weatherize their homes and said the program would essentially pay for itself.

"I am calling on Congress to provide new temporary incentives for Americans to make energy efficiency retrofit investments in their homes and we want them to do it soon," he said. "Insulation is sexy stuff," he told workers and employers at a Home Depot home supplies store near Washington.

World's largest solar energy project planned for Africa desert

British homes could soon be powered by "desert electricity", according to backers of a large solar energy project in the Sahara that will overtake current sites in Spain.

Are Rare Earth Minerals Too Costly for Environment?

It doesn't look very green. Rare earth processing in China is a messy, dangerous, polluting business. It uses toxic chemicals, acids, sulfates, ammonia. The workers have little or no protection.

But, without rare earth, Copenhagen means nothing. You buy a Prius hybrid car and think you're saving the planet. But each motor contains a kilo of neodymium and each battery more than 10 kilos of lanthanum, rare earth elements from China.

Climate change is natural: 100 reasons why

HERE are the 100 reasons, released in a dossier issued by the European Foundation, why climate change is natural and not man-made.

50 reasons why global warming isn't natural

Here we take a quick look at the first 50 of their claims - and debunk each one.

Traders Want Kyoto Targets as Minimum to Keep CO2 Markets Alive

(Bloomberg) -- Carbon traders want an extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol as a minimum to keep carbon markets alive because United Nations negotiators may need months or years to seal a wider climate pact including China and the U.S.

UN and national negotiators are meeting in Copenhagen this week to find a successor to the Kyoto accord, whose rules last until the end of 2012.

Shipping could cut emissions by 30% at zero-cost by 2030

The shipping industry could establish a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030 at zero cost to the industry, according to a new study conducted by DNV in line with the discussions taking place at the COP15 climate change summit.

Covering ships from all market segments, both from the existing fleet and newbuildings projected to be built in the years to come, the results of the study reveal that shipping, compared to a projected baseline (where no measures are applied) of 1,530 million tons of CO2, could create a reduction in emissions equalling to 500 million tons of CO2.

Climate change summit leaves sceptical Russia cold

Climate change and the environment are not big issues for most Russians - and most of the time the government seems equally unconcerned.

"Global warming, the Kyoto Protocol, cutting emissions, nuclear waste, incinerators - it might be a topic of discussion among Moscow's business elite, but the masses are nowhere near these issues. No-one's talking about them," said former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of the current Russian government.

"There is one popular opinion, though - that Russia is a cold country and warming it up slightly wouldn't do any harm."

Obama Faces ‘Constipagen’ on Global Warming Pact

(Bloomberg) -- World leaders will arrive in the Danish capital of Copenhagen in the next three days to agree on an accord to fight global warming. There may be nothing to sign.

Envoys from China, the U.S., the European Union and India, the world’s top polluters, have bickered, quarreled and walked out during talks among 193 nations. They’ve left presidents and prime ministers a choice between a fudge or a flop for the accord that the United Nations framed as the most comprehensive deal to curb global warming.

Khelil slams carbon tax plans

Carbon taxes discriminate against energy producing countries, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said today, adding that Opec is united in opposing them.

Protests erupt at deadlocked climate conference

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Danish police fired pepper spray and beat protesters with batons outside the U.N. climate conference on Wednesday, as disputes inside left major issues unresolved just two days before world leaders hope to sign a historic agreement to fight global warming.

Canada climate stance pranksters revealed

COPENHAGEN –The infamous American pranksters known as The Yes Men launched an elaborate hoax Monday targeting Canada's stance in climate-change negotiations at Copenhagen.

The multi-pronged ruse tripped up a number of news organizations, including the Globe and Mail, the Huffington Post and Edmonton talk-radio host Dave Rutherford.

The global WWF Earth Hour Copenhagen event

Copenhagen will be the epicentre of the lights off campaign Earth Hour, as lights on City Hall Square are switched off for 60 minutes this evening, in a call to COP15 leaders to reach a pro-planet agreement. An inclusive, sensual form of protest, the darkness also highlights the potential effects of peak oil and the consequences for our energy driven lifestyle.

Sea levels set to rise more than expected due to 'deeply surprising' Greenland melt

A new study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program estimates that the sea will rise by 0.5 to 1.5 meters by 2100, threatening coastal cities and flooding island nations. This is double the predicted rise estimated by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, which did not incorporate sea level rise due to the melting of Greenland and Antarctica's ice sheets.

Most surprisingly, the study found that discharge from Greenland had increased by 30 percent over the last decade: jumping from 330 billion giga tons in 1995 to 430 billion giga tons in 2005.

Well, so much for my impression of the Danes.

Something rotten there?

"..this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy,

the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,

why it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.

What [a] piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals; " - Hamlet

why it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.

Shakespeare trumps Nostradamus...

This post
from yesterday had a delayed effect and gave me nightmares last night.

It reminded me of when I first took up aquariums as a hobby. When the chemistry goes bad they all die.

Is there anyplace where I can find more data of what is going on and where?

Iggy -- I'm with you. Not to argue against the article but what is the PH of ocean water today? Pretty cheap test. Should have a pretty clear record of the change over the years. Of course, disolving calcium carbonate would lower PH I assume. Offering unanalyzed anecdotes doesn't do much to further the discusion IMHO.

As a marine aquarist (and chemist by formation), I know a bit about sea water PH. As a reminder, PH is minus the logarithm in base 10 of the concentration of H+ ions. In water, a neutral PH is 7 (concentration is 10-7 moles/litre), a PH of 8 means a concentrations of 10-8 moles/litre and is basic (less than 7 is acidic).

So first easy conclusion: something 10 times more acidic has a PH variation of only 1.

Sea water is a natural buffer between carbonic acid (H2CO3, created when CO2 dissolves in water, which ionises in H+ and HCO3-) and bicarbonate ion (HCO3-). Add more H+ due to any acidification and some bicarbonate ion will fix a part H+ giving back carbonic acid. Remove H+ and some carbonic acid will decompose and create H+ (and bicarbonate ion).

The most important PH variation in sea water is due to photosynthesis: at day, CO2 is captured by plants. Phenomenon stopped at night. Which means the CO2 from respiration accumulates at night, giving carbonic acid, giving more H+, giving a lower PH. In practical, sea water at day has a PH of about 8.3 to 8.4. As night, 7.8 is usual. This perfectly natural variation means that the sea is 3 times more acid at night than during the day.

By the way, if you want to dissolve a carbonate (CO3--), transforming it in a bicarbonate (HCO3-), you need a PH which is far more acid that 8.3 or even 7.8. In hard fresh water (rich in calcium and magnesium), PH is about 7.3 (10 times more acid than seawater), and look at any heater to sees carbonate deposits.

So in clear: a means PH variation of sea water of even 0.1 (meaning a range of 7.7 to 8.2 for example) will definitely not dissolve animal shells or have any noxious effects on marine life.

What really lower PH will have as effect is perturb marine animal metabolism...but even with the CO2 from all fossil fuel we could burn, we won't arrive to danger zone. You only have to see the beautiful cliff (ie in Thailand or vietnam) created by fossil reefs in previous warm periods.

The problem is for us because we will loose our best agricultural areas.

Great detail m...thanks. Once again the deep pool of knowledge at TOD comes through

Hmmm. Daily temperature variation in most places is ten to twenty degrees F. Does that mean we shouldn't be concerned about global temperature increases of a few degrees? If not, why are you using the identical argument here for ocean acidification?

Are you dismissing the work of Caldeira, Wickett and others?


"Our GCM results indicate that continued fossil-fuel burning with atmospheric CO2 release could lead to pH decreases of ~0.7 units. Thus, we conclude that unabated CO2 emissions over the next several hundred years may produce changes in ocean pH greater in magnitude than any experienced in the past 300 myr, with the possible exception of rare catastrophic events in Earth history7,11"

And more recently (to choose one randomly from the large number of articles published recently on this subject, on google scholar):


"Anthropogenic CO2 changes the carbonate chemistry and the
pH of the surface ocean including decreasing the saturation
state of carbonate minerals in sea water1, thus making biological
precipitation of carbonate shells more difficult."


"It is now well established that shell or skeleton growth through calcium carbonate precipitation of most calcifiers will be greatly affected by changging ocean pH."

Basically, we are conducting a huge bio-chemistry experiment on the ocean and planet, an experiment for which none of us can know the out come for certain. This may not be the non-problem you present it as.

.but even with the CO2 from all fossil fuel we could burn, we won't arrive to danger zone. You only have to see the beautiful cliff (ie in Thailand or vietnam) created by fossil reefs in previous warm periods.

Your technical explanation of sea water chemistry is quite correct.

However, could you cite even a single reputable scientific study that backs up that assertion?

Where for example on this planet are coral reefs currently thriving? Certainly not in my back yard off the south Florida coast and the Caribbean. Perhaps they too will one day be beautiful fossil reefs though I'm not too sure there will be many people around to appreciate them.

In the meantime I'd like to see them survive a bit longer.

I've found that a good general source for sea water information is http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm -- It contains sections on
# Detailed composition: abundance of the elements in seawater
# Salinity: the main salt ions making the sea salty
# Density: the density of sea water depends on temperature and salinity
# Dissolved gases: the two important gases to life, oxygen and carbondioxide. Limiting hydrogen ions and ocean pH.
# Bicarbonate: the life of dissolved carbon dioxide in the sea.

Your conclusion is disconnected from your premise.
You talk about photosynthesis removing CO2 from the water, but miss the point that biological organisms like corals that are drivers of CO2 removal are dying from even mild ocean acidification(less basic).

You appear to be a climate change denier masquerading as a chemist/marine aquarist(a person who keeps an aquarium).

What motivates you to distort science without pay?

Also your numbers are wrong as ocean Ph is between 8.1 and 8.18.


Good points, maj. I think this is going to be another major positive feedback exacerbating atmospheric CO2 concentrations and CC.

If you go through his/her files, you will find that meh has claimed to be in IT in the past. People, of course, change fields; but it does make one wonder how honest meh is being about his/her background.

xx delete

Joanie Kleypas is a marine scientist studying ocean PH and other things. She and colleagues collected data for a paper and while in a conference room to gather their research, ....

"this group pooled their calculations and did some back of envelope calculations. That's when they realized how low the carbonate ion concentration would fall if carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere keep rising. ....they realized they were looking at marine armageddon.
Klepas ran into the bathroom outside the committee room and threw up."

Source - Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell

Well, at least he posted SOME link. We have gotten pretty far away from the earlier days of TOD when nearly every post had at least one link to support claims made, as I recall. I confess to being culpable in the trend away from this kind of linking.

So to make up for time wasted and links unposted.




From this last one: " It is now well established that upper ocean pH and CO2 levels could reach values not seen on Earth for perhaps 25 million years. And that this may have consequences for calcification in marine plants and animals, in reproduction and growth, and in combination with lowered O2 levels and oceanic warming cause profound and ill-understood changes in marine ecosystems."


"Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily from human fossil fuel combustion, reduces ocean pH and causes wholesale shifts in seawater carbonate chemistry. The process of ocean acidification is well documented in field data, and the rate will accelerate over this century unless future CO2 emissions are curbed dramatically. Acidification alters seawater chemical speciation and biogeochemical cycles of many elements and compounds. One well-known effect is the lowering of calcium carbonate saturation states, which impacts shell-forming marine organisms from plankton to benthic molluscs, echinoderms, and corals. Many calcifying species exhibit reduced calcification and growth rates in laboratory experiments under high-CO2 conditions."


This is a PDF file of the very readable article by E. Kolbert on this topic in the "New Yorker" magazine a couple years ago.

I worked for years at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and did data management and data visualization work for NOAA's top ocean CO2 folks. Here is their page describing ocean acidification:


The ocean has been a huge sink for atmostpheric CO2 over the last several decades. Current atmospheric concentrations would be even higher were it not for this. As CO2 is absorbed at the ocean surface different things happen to it. It can be mtabolized by plankton or trasnported to lower, abioitic zones. The main thing that happens, of course, is that it reacts with water to form carbonic acid: CO2 + H2O => H2CO3. The main concern is that by lowering the pH of seawater you impair the ability of marine creatures to form skeletons and shells. From the ocean acidification FAQ:

Specifically, we are interested in determining a few key parameters, like the saturation of aragonite and calcite in seawater, which are the mineral forms of carbonate that many marine (and freshwater) organisms make their shells or skeletons out of, or pH, which is a measure of the acidity of seawater. Seawater with high carbon dioxide (CO2) and low pH (= high acidity) can be corrosive to organisms with carbonate body parts and can also be physiologically challenging in other ways to organisms.

Our group collects several types of carbon measurements throughout the world’s oceans. For instance, we participate in and occasionally one of us leads large-scale research cruises across ocean basins or along coastlines at regular intervals (e.g. every few years to a decade or so) to study how ocean chemistry is changing through time, with particular interest in understanding how much of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activities is taken up by the ocean and what effects this may have on the marine ecosystem. Absorption of CO2 by the ocean slows down the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus has the effect of slowing down climate change related to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but it also lowers the pH of seawater, increasing the acidity and lowering the saturation state of the biominerals, aragonite and calcite.

The global oceans are both big and very dynamic. Measuring the pH or the concentration of different ions at depth is very time consuming and very difficult. And we haven't been doing it long enough to identify trends. So you won't find a lot of data to make pretty pictures. Still, the data are nevertheless compelling and basic physical chemsitry assures us that ocean acidification must be happening. That's why ocean acidification is one of my three indisuputable facts related to climate science.

Happy Exploring,

-- Jon

Measuring the pH or the concentration of different ions at depth is very time consuming and very difficult. And we haven't been doing it long enough to identify trends. So you won't find a lot of data to make pretty pictures.

Here are a few pretty pictures:

And some general doom:

Thanks for the extra links Barrett,

This is one of the untold stories that should get more attention. Altering the chemistry of the global ocean is not something that will heal itself very quickly.

-- Jon

I have been diving on coral reefs since the 70s, every reef that I know is suffering from environmental degradation. It's not just elevated PH and rising temperatures. It's over fishing, fertilizer run off, toxic pesticides and herbicides, sewage, garbage illegal anchoring, etc... etc...

Yet people have the gall to argue that recent climate change is not caused by humans. The fact of the matter is that even if climate change had no significant human component to its underlying cause it is still ludicrous to argue that human activity does not have a significant deleterious effect on the environment in general and coral reefs in particular.

I actually can see the damage with my own eyes and know researchers who are doing the science on my local reefs. But why would you want to take the word of someone who has a doctorate in marine biology and has spent their career studying what is going on, right? They are probably in cahoots with the climate scientists and part of the global conspiracy to end capitalism.

I support http://www.reef-rescue.org/

I did dive charters in Micronesia, and can verify your observations. The difference between the 70s and now is devastating, and theses are some of the reefs effected the least.

So sorry to hear that, not that I didn't already know it.

It's over fishing, fertilizer run off, toxic pesticides and herbicides, sewage, garbage illegal anchoring, etc... etc...

This bears repeating, and repeating, and repeating.

There seems to be a tendency these days to see climate change / CO2 emissions as THE problem. If we fix that, we can all relax, seems to be the idea. (In a few days we'll be able to watch politicians congratulate themselves on saving the world at Copenhagen.)


Even if we weren't poisoning the biosphere (or Creation, if you prefer) with CO2, we'd still be trashing coral reefs and shallow-ocean floor, fishing ocean species to extinction, draining and filling wetlands - so vital as nurseries for fish, and causing dead zones and "garbage patches" that kill birds, mammals, and fish.

It's nearly as bad on land. To pick a few things at random, we're depleting, salinizing, polluting, eroding and building over topsoil, cutting and burning tropical forest, killing species at the rate of one every 20 minutes, draining aquifers that recharge very slowly, damming and diverting rivers that have sustained regions for millenia, poisoning people and animals with persistent pesticides and with heavy metals in coal smoke... the list goes on and on. And on.

None of that will be affected by "solving" global warming. And we need to be fixing it, even more than we need to "solve" the global warming problem.

I have been following this closely and the latest developments in understanding the effects that are happening NOW are frightening. The rate of acidification is accelerating beyond all predictions particularly in the higher latitudes. Sound travels up to 70% farther in high acidity water making the oceans very noisy for cetaceans. Keeling himself studied and monitored ocean acidification.

and it is definitely a man made issue.

"Ocean acidification rates pose disaster for marine life, major study shows"


"Oceans face acid test"


"Pitch Of Blue Whale Songs Declining"


Sorry for no links when I talked about cliff and not explaining myself more...

So here are links for reefs growing during recent interglacial periods with sea level a few meters above current level:

About Thailand cliff, I did know they are old and definitely high...but didn't remember their age...here is it. And my fault, they are not coral reefs but limestone=microscopic calcareous organisms (which btw does not changes the point: smaller=should solubilize even easier).

I definitely do know that coral reefs are in a bad shape! I have been diving in Maldives in 1999 (remember El Nino was in 1998) and in Sri Lanka in 2001 (same one). But ocean acidification is definitely not the main driver...as you see from links above, reefs can still grow (even if slower due to CaCO3 fixation problems) when CO2 level increases.

The problems are pollution with toxic compounds (some coral are delicate organism...other are fairly robust) and eutrophisation (reefs need light as coral lives in symbiosis with an unicellular algae...and cannot compete with invasive algae), destruction for harbour construction or as a building material, cyanide/explosive fishing/anchors/hot water events such as El Nino/Acanthaster planci (due to over collecting its predators).

So my point was not that coral reefs are or not in a bad shape. They definitely are and points above are to be addressed for them to thrive again. Which they won't until population pressure around them decreases and better management techniques are adopted (no harbour construction/forbid fishing with explosives or toxic compounds and enforce it/always do sewage treatment/never ever put an anchor on a reef/don't even think to collect A. planci predators). OK, I stop dreaming.

My point was that a higher CO2 level and the resulting acidification has not prevented fossil reef to grow and thrive. With different geographic repartition. With different species repartition. That definitely, yes. But it is not their end at the planet level, that definitely not.

But CO2 increase and related see level increase is the end of the populations living near the sea level, fishing, doing agriculture there. The earth will recover, not us if we continue to behave like idiots.

With a reference too :-)

My point was that a higher CO2 level and the resulting acidification has not prevented fossil reef to grow and thrive. With different geographic repartition. With different species repartition. That definitely, yes. But it is not their end at the planet level, that definitely not.

Point taken:

Calcification rates are expected to decrease in response to decreasing pH for several major groups of calcifying marine organisms in coastal and open-ocean environments. Numerous predictions based on both in situ experiments and computer-model simulations indicate that large decreases (as much as 50 percent) in calcification and an associated loss of coral-reef ecosystems could occur within the next few decades to centuries. In contrast, some researchers have concluded that, despite a decrease in ocean pH and aragonite saturation, calcification in corals may increase, owing to an increased metabolic response driven by warming associated with increased anthropogenic CO2. Although such findings remain controversial, they emphasize the fact that critical gaps exist in our knowledge of how coastal tropical-marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, will respond to global changes brought about by increased atmospheric CO2.

OK, so while it may be true increased levels of CO2 and consequent reduction in sea water Ph will not cause all coral growth on the planet to cease, rapid climate change still does not bode well for the major coral reef ecosystems that exist now. That some coral forming organisms will survive, unfortunatetly gives me little comfort, since neither I nor my teenage son, will be around to enjoy the new reefs of the far distant future somewhere in what is now central Florida.

It is important to remember that ecosystems are under attack from a number of human activities, not just from anthropogenic CO2 increases.

It does seem that increased acidification poses a long term threat to algae and plankton at the surface of the ocean. These are both the base of the food chain and a primary source of oxygen.

See the above linked articles, and this recent article:


"[Falling ph in ocean waters is likely to affect the capacity of organisms including molluscs, coral and plankton to form "hard parts" of calcium carbonate."


It is important to remember that ecosystems are under attack from a number of human activities, not just from anthropogenic CO2 increases.

Indeed, and given the big stressors (acidification, warming water, pollution, overfishing) it seems unlikely that any coral reefs will survive to the end of this century.

It is important to remember that ecosystems are under attack from a number of human activities, not just from anthropogenic CO2 increases.

For sure, that is exactly what I said up top :-)

I have been diving on coral reefs since the 70s, every reef that I know is suffering from environmental degradation. It's not just elevated PH and rising temperatures. It's over fishing, fertilizer run off, toxic pesticides and herbicides, sewage, garbage illegal anchoring, etc... etc...

Which is why I also said, that focusing solely on whether or not humans are changing the climate, misses the greater point. Which is that we are changing the whole global ecosystem in ways we haven't even begun to understand yet. Even if you somehow manage to deny the implications of AGW how are you going to deny the other human impacts.

Unless of course you suffer from this kind of delusion...

What [a] piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals; " - Hamlet

Well at least he recognizes that we are still an animal so there may be some hope.

Link up top:Exxon Mobil Makes $30 Billion Bet

For those who believe in Peak Oil, of course, such a conclusion is almost pre-ordained. Peak Oilers ignore the inconvenient fact that the creator of the mythos of Peak Oil - or at least the individual who wrote the definitive initial book on the subject - was former president George Bush's BEST FRIEND. Yes, Matthew Simmons, oil entrepreneur and Texas investment banker, was said to have had an office a few doors down from the Oval Office, but he didn't use it much as he was too busy traveling around the world flogging the idea of Peak Oil.

Yes, Matt was Bush's best friend and had an office in the white house. It was a state secret that he was the only private investment banker and non-government employee to ever have an office in the white house. Also he was the creator of the Peak Oil mythos.

This is from "The Right Side News. The Right Wing keeps churning out this garbage.

And in the same article, the Swedes, not the Russians, have discovered that oil is abiotic.

Until now these believers in "abiotic oil" have been dismissed as professing "bad science" but -- alas -- a new study has proven them correct!...

The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy and, on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe.

Ron P.

1. Did Matthew Simmons actually have an office in the White House, and if not, why would they say it? I guess Pres. Bush is not the darling of the Right any more?

2. If oil is "abiotic", produced by unknown processes between the churning layers of the mantle, or whatever -- where does the carbon come from?

1. Did Matthew Simmons actually have an office in the White House, and if not, why would they say it?

Are you serious? Of course he never had an office in the White House. He was never a government employee. They said it because they are idiots.

2. If oil is "abiotic", produced by unknown processes between the churning layers of the mantle, or whatever -- where does the carbon come from?

You are asking the wrong question. Carbon is quite common in the earth's mantle. The heat, at that level breaks down large molecules into smaller ones, not vise versa. Long hydrocarbon strings would be broken down into smaller ones. More importantly, no quantities of oil have ever been found in the mantle or in crustal igneous rock such as granite or basalt.

Abiotic oil is something that only idiots believe in.

Ron P.

Regarding abiotic oil, let’s try a thought experiment. The supporters of abiotic oil who claim it will save us from peak oil are basically implying that the abiotic oil is produced fast enough to replenish our usage. That means, some 85 millions barrels of oil should be produced each day. Let’s look at the consequences then:

- 85 * 10^6 barrels = 0.159 * 85 * 10^6 m3 = 13.5 millions m3 of oil daily
- 4927.5 millions m3 of oil yearly – lets just round up and say it is 5 km3 of oil created yearly by the abiotic process

Since the geological processes are very stable over a long period of time, we can assume the same for the abiotic oil creation process. Obviously, it didn’t start creating that oil just on the first day we drilled the first oil well. We can safely assume it ran with the calculated average speed for at least the last 10 millions years. This means, over the last ten millions years there should be some 50 * 10^6 km3 of oil created.

Suppose now that the best possible reservoir with extremely good permeability can hold voluminously 10% of recoverable oil – that means 10 m3 or reservoir rock hold 1 m3 of recoverable oil. (Westexas and Rockman gave real numbers for that some time ago, but I can’t find them) This means that for our 50 * 10^6 km3 oil we need 500*10^6 km3 of extremely good reservoir rock to hold it.

The Earth happens to have surface area of 510 * 10^6 km2. We can divide the volume of reservoir obtained before through the Earth surface to obtain the average thickness of the reservoir. It is roughly 1 km!

To conclude: if the abiotic people were correct, we should have some 1 km thick super-permeable reservoir under every square feet of our planet, on every continent, in every ocean depth oceans and the Arctic and Antarctic. And this is IMHO the real absurdness of the abiotic oil argument.

Valid points Klack. But I can boil it down to one simple point. As of today, I, ROCKMAN, fully accepts the abiotic oil concept. All oil/NG has been generated by this process. And the process continues today.

There you go...done deal. OTHO it doesn't change one darn thing. OIL/NG is produced by drilling geologic features capable of trapping those hydrocarbons. How those hydrocarbons were generated doesn't mean anything in that regards. The environments in which oil/Ng can be trapped and preserved are well known. This is where we've been drilling all these decades and will continue to drill.

The abioitc oil folks never quit seem to finish their story: how does the concept lead us to finding and producing any more oil/NG then we will otherwise?

Hi Rockman,

I agree with you that the origin of the oil does not change nor disprove the core concept of peak oil. But I can say that while some oil is probably being created even now, the speed of this process is what really matters for us. And in my previous post I calculated that the speed cannot be high enough to meet our needs. So lets try to determine the speed of oil creation process, no mather its origin:
- assume 10.000 GB of oil existed before any extraction started (which is AFAIK above any existing estimate, lower oil amount estimates mean lower creation speed)
- assume it was created in the last 10 millions years (which was probably more; higher time estimations mean lower creation speed)

Then, the oil is created with an average speed of 1 million barrels per year - or less, since my estimates were overly optimistic. Which means there is less than 3000 barrels of new oil per day. Just enough for a small American town, but surely not enough to save the world.

There is no way abiotic oil can save us - which you also did say, but using geological instead of mathematical arguments :)

I appreciate the math effort Klack. But regardless of how fast abiotic oil might be generated no one in the entire history of oil/NG drilling has said they identified oil currently moving into a geologic trap. Even if abiotic processes were genrating a billion bbls of oil daily it's not going to help us if it's accumulating somewhere we can reach. So we esentially agree: abiotic oil isn't a factor in our future how ever you cut it.

While I believe abiotic oil is just a fools pipedream, if it did exist it is not
the rate of formation that matters, but how much of it has been trapped by the ages that would matter. If it was real, then we would want to explore any potential trap -not just those that overlie sedimentary source rocks. So it would open up new areas to explore that we would otherwise not take the expense to look.

Since the geological processes are very stable over a long period of time, we can assume the same for the abiotic oil creation process. Obviously, it didn’t start creating that oil just on the first day we drilled the first oil well

Good point but I think you're forgetting to take into consideration that the earth is only 6000 years old, is flat and abiotic oil production only started the day baby Jesus was born.

And Jesus doesn't want you to watch this!

Assuming that the (abiotic or other) oil production process started 2000 years ago and runs at a constant speed, we get:
- 10.000 GB oil created
- that makes 5 GB oil per year - but the humanity uses 30 GB yearly... doesn't really help

Calculating with a more realistic number of 2000 GB total oil, we get only 1 GB oil created per year - even less helpful.

To match our current consumption rate, the oil creation process would have to start not 2000 years ago, but 2000 GB/(30 GB/y) = 67 years ago, or maximally 10000 GB/(30 GB/y) = 333 years ago.

Point disproved :)

More importantly, no quantities of oil have ever been found in the mantle or in crustal igneous rock such as granite or basalt.

what exactly do you mean by "no quantities" ?

offshore vietnam has reservoirs producing from fractured basement rocks. it is highly doubtful that the source of this oil is abiotic.

By no quantities I meant no oil. The tiny quantities oil supposedly found in, I think it was Sweden, was from contanimated drilling mud.

offshore vietnam has reservoirs producing from fractured basement rocks.

Googled it and found this: Basement reservoirs in Asia

The basement rocks of the southern Vietnamese shelf contain very large oil accumulations.

There is something wrong with that statement. The word "shelf" implies that it is not basement rock. Perhaps it is volcanic basalt overlaying sedimentary rock of the shelf. Perhaps I spoke too soon as it would be possible for oil to be trapped by igneous rock overlaying sedimentary rock. But the oil would have to originate is sedimentary source rock.

Ron P.

Petroleum Geology of Cuu Long Basin - Offshore Vietnam


figure 4 gives a good explanation of the occurrence of oil in the basement.

I understand that it is virtually certain thre is no significant amount of abiotic oil but at the same time I don't see that is possible to say categorically that there is none whatsoever.Perhaps there are some very small quantities someplace that will be discovered someday.

And I understand that the tectonic plates don't move in such a way that oil can be expected to be found under the crust because sedimentary basins float on top of the plates instead of being subducted.

But maybe it is possible that between some plate tectonic movements and some large scale volcanic activity that some organic materials might have been buried deep enough on rare occasions that some gas could be formed that at first glance might appear to be abiotic.

This is of course only purely unsupported speculation but the remarks about basement reservres in Asia got me to wondering about this possibility.

Thanks, Darwinian. I just wanted a reality check, and to make sure I hadn't lost my marbles.

Yeah, I left a comment on their site suggesting that they were going to put the Onion out of business.

I'm not a scientist, but I could easily see the gaping holes in the arguments presented in the 100 reasons article above immediately. Reading the New Scientist response articles confirmed what I determined.

Really, these arguments are so bad, only someone who:

1) doesn't want to really know
2) doesn't want to really think
3) is completely ignorant of science and the topic

would be persuaded by any of them.

I hope it is also obvious that 100 bad arguments, lies and half-lies do not add up to one good argument.

This is presumably the best (and the most) that they've got, and it's pretty pathetic that they can't come up with anything better than this dreck.

I'm inclined to think that global climate is such a complex system that there probably are both natural and man-made factors at work forcing GCC. However, that is a far cry from saying that it is 100% natural, 0% man-made - or vice versa. There is clear scientific evidence that we certainly haven't been doing anything to HELP stabilize global climate; quite the opposite.

Good point. Even those who are not convinced by the mountains of evidence that humans are now the primary driver of increased global temperatures should be able to see that if other factors are already destabilizing global climate, then the last thing we need to do is to further destabilize the situation by adding tens of billions of tons of CO2 and other known GHG's into the mix every year.

Indeed, the climate system does have natural and anthropogenic forcings. However, the 20th-century warming trend is entirely anthropogenic. No natural variation accounts for the trend or contributes even slightly to it.

It is more than obvious that most of the world's citizens -- certainly those in the USA -- fit into all three of your categories.

100 reasons are good enough for them -- actually, three would do it, they can't be bothered with the rest.


Really, these arguments are so bad, only someone who:

1) doesn't want to really know
2) doesn't want to really think
3) is completely ignorant of science and the topic

would be persuaded by any of them.

That does not mean that these arguments are not pursuasive to those who want to believe them.

What we can be sure of is that the propaganda machine of the far right BAU groups is powerful, and publish these arguments as facts. People who are fearful of change believe them, and inertia takes over. Inertia is our enemy today, and IMO will hold us in this pattern until nature takes over, with disasterous results.

In short, most people do not want to really know. They are too afraid for that.
Most people do not want to really think. That would take too much effort.
Most people are ignorant of science, in the truest sense of the word. They ignore it. That way they do not have to know and do not have to think. Much easier to spend 28 hours a week sitting on their bums in front of the telly, don't ya think?

Duhboi, on the whole I agree with you. With one caveat, though -- see below a comment I have just posted on the '100 bad arguments' at RealClimate (awaiting moderation for over three hours, they seem to have gone to bed there):

I've had a brief look at the Daily Express's '100 reasons why' and, yes, most of it is the usual rubbish. But one shouldn't over-egg the pudding.

One example: Reason 46 runs "The IPCC alleges that “climate change currently contributes to the global burden of disease and premature deaths” but the evidence shows that higher temperatures and rising CO2 levels has helped global populations".

Michael Le Page's refutation in the New Scientist ("50 reasons why global warming isn't natural") states:

"Incorrect. Excessive heat during summers is already killing more people than are being saved by milder winters.", with a link to another New Scientist article entitled "Global warming will increase world death rate". This article in turn refers to a contribution to the journal "Occupational and Environmental Medicine" with the heading "Temperature, temperature extremes, and mortality: a study of acclimatisation and effect modification in 50 US cities".

There is no reference in the abstract of the peer-reviewed OEM article to the 'world death rate' and one can hardly extrapolate from 50 US cities to the 7 billion inhabitants of the entire planet. Frankly I have no idea as to whether the net death rate (lives saved due to milder winters minus lives lost due to hotter summers) is positive or negative but Page's counter-argument certainly doesn't convince, since it is based on a totally miscontrued interpretation of an original peer-reviewed article.

There are enough sound arguments to defend the facts of AGW. Why add spurious ones?

The estimates I've seen show that already 160,000 people a year die from the effects of GW and it's only just begun.


The onus is on those claiming that climate change is saving and even larger number of lives to provide the evidence. I live in a very cold climate, and very few people die from exposure here. Most living in these conditions are aware of the dangers and take the appropriate precautions to avoid freezing to death.

Note that theirs is NOT an argument here that gw isn't natural, just that it is not having as negative effects as predicted. It is in fact an admission that the globe IS warming.

(By the way, I am sometimes baffled by what gets screened out from the realclimate forum. Best luck on trying again.)

Quote of the day:

As a hedge fund manager and oil and gas producer friend of mine commented on the paper, “The oil and gas business is a bunch of holes in the ground with liars on top.”

From Real Solutions to the Energy and Climate Crises

I have tried unsucsessfully to search TOD for any previous discussion of the 21 Darts (pdf) article referenced somewhere in today's Drumbeat, though it doesn't seem to be new. Is the oil financing world really set to collapse like the banking system did? If so, who will bail them out?

LNG -- I don't know that we're anticipating anything like a collapse per se in "oil financing". The oil industry gets financing through the oil/NG divisions of major banks as well as specialty "banks" (sometimes called mezzanine finance). The changes in the SEC rules regarding a company's oil/NG reserve base might push numbers around some. But banks aren't going to accept any of the "new" reserves as fact just because the SEC rules now say they are there. The banks have their own professional evaluators of those reserve bases and they risk them as they see them. The new SEC rules might confuse some investors but will have zero impact on the bankers IMHO.
What affects a company's financing capabilities more than anything else is pricing: both current and future predicted prices. Any company with a reserve base and a debt load will be evaluated by the banks as to credit worthiness. I suspect a bigger problem with energy companies acquiring financing will be the general health of the banking system and not how the SEC has decided how to cook the books.

Yes, it does look like a very interesting document, based on my very quick skim. The document properties has a date of Nov 17, 2009, but I don't know if that is its date of origin.

This article would warrant an extensive analysis in a keypost by one of our technical experts, IMHO.

Commentary here, from Nov 27th.

Nigeria has found 600 illegal refineries. Mexico has billion dollar oil thieves. Pirates. Iraqi pipelines. Canadian pipelines. Etc...

1) The economic stimuli for stealing oil should increase -- see peak oil.

2) The environmental stimuli for destroying oil should increase -- 2010 will probably be the warmest year on record. Will the political stimuli increase?

3) As production is curtailed the economies of scale should decrease.

I am a pessimist by nature but it seems like at some point we will not be producing much oil at all even with significant reserves left in the ground. Is that point coming before the end of the decade? At the very best for oil production, the costs for security and transport should increase besides the more difficult geological extractions.

As the price goes up and CO2 controls go up, it should be expected that theft/corruption/graft will increase too.

Hmmm...note to self: time to make some black-market contacts.

Paleo -- A little humor to go along with the serious aspects: Around 1978 I drilled a shallow NG well. Rather low pressure and volume. My production super kept coming up with a discrepency between different meter readings. Kept hunting for a leak in our line and couldn't find it. So one day he hooked a pump up to the line and pressured it up in hopes of finding the leak. A few hours later a very mad rice farmer showed up. His rice dryer had just burned to the ground. The farmer had "hot tapped " our line. That means he made a connection with our line while NG was flowing through it. A rather dangerous technique even when done by skilled folks with the right equipment. When my hand pressured up the line it blew his burners apart and caught the dryer on fire. To make matters worse he had laid a second line to one of his neightbors and was selling him NG.

Just goes to show you: where there's a profit to be made there won't be a crook too far away.

He did all of this, and then had the nerve to come in and complain? What did he expect you were going to do for him anyways?

To make matters worse he had laid a second line to one of his neightbors and was selling him NG.

How prescient, the guy was already selling NG derivatives way back in 78? Crook? The guy was an entrepreneurial genius of the highest order. I'll bet he is working as a quant for some Wall Street firm today. /snicker

In response to Leanan; I wish I knew.

All I can offer is commiseration.
I work with very well educated and intelligent people. It astounds me, flabbergasts me, leaves me dumbfounded, that these folks are unreachable on the subject of Peak Oil. I fully appreciate my own low credibility. I'm not an "economist", nor an acknowledged expert on anything (except perhaps in one very tiny, esoteric field). But this simply cannot by itself explain the difficulty I have had in getting others to take resource depletion seriously. I can see denial at work. That one I can identify because of my own personal work in the matter of behavioral addiction recovery. I also appreciate that it actually takes quite a lot of work to get oneself "up on the learning curve" on the subjects in question. And most of my friends have too many competing distractions. But to be not willing at all to even take one good look at a subject which could very well leave one destitute at a near to come future date is just baffling to me. It's as if I was trying to warn someone about a car that was speeding towards them and they didn't care.

I attended a retirement planning meeting yesterday. It was like a trip with Alice into Wonderland. The outside expert councilor was explaining to people how their retirement savings would grow and grow after they invested in the various market funds his company offered. And our own, on staff, benefits manager was very happy with the presentation. No where was there any mention of the fact that the market has gone exactly NO WHERE for the LAST TEN YEARS! No mention was made of the fact that we are currently in a zero growth environment. No mention was made of the high likelihood that we are actually in a NEGATIVE growth environment. Everybody was simply suspending all knowledge of or belief in reality. Everyone except me. And THAT made ME the crazy one!

Just like Taleb's turkeys, projecting their growth trend lines forward past Thanksgiving. . .

Oh, I've been at that retirement planning meeting too, for several years going now! And I'll bet other TOD readers have been at it too. Yes, it's frustrating as hell - that whole living in two worlds thing is really hard to take. I know that the idea of trying to help others by warning them about what is coming has a strong pull, and it is part of the purpose of TOD (and I still do try sometimes), but I no longer see how that can work. The forces involved are too large, and in the end they lead back to there being too many of us using way too many resources (energy and otherwise).

If I could convince a few people then they might be able to use that knowledge to help improve their situation, but on the large scale I don't see what we do with that knowledge. Would it be theoretically possible for us to decide to reduce our population via attrition and to reduce our use of FF energy so that we would have a gradual transition, thus reducing our burden upon the planet until we can become sustainable? Maybe, but that is fantasy.

Our society will fail, and our population will reduce, it will be messy and hard and unpredictable in any detail, and many will suffer. In time we'll have to get to a much lower population using much less per capita energy. Focus on strategies that might be beneficial to future humans. Try to help those around you, but don't get upset if they ignore you - it's exactly what you would expect them to do. That is why I appreciate Greer, as I think he's got a good balance between having realistic expectations about attempts to "fix" things, but does not fall into the trap of giving up and doing nothing.

And every once in a while you may meet someone who gets it, or better yet help them to see it, and that is a thing to treasure.

"Would it be theoretically possible for us to decide to reduce our population via attrition and to reduce our use of FF energy so that we would have a gradual transition, thus reducing our burden upon the planet until we can become sustainable?"

The answer is NO. That's what war, pestilance, famine and death are about.

Prior to the discovery of oil there was quite a bit of environment damage ... burned forests -> deserts, etc. So the ~1 billion people alive then were way too many. Lets just say 100 million max total or about 2 percent of present population. The other 98% are denialists, rednecks, economists and too poor to make a difference but they will not go easy but Gaia could care less.

Have a nice day.

Uh, yeah, hence the statement "that is fantasy".

On an individual basis life is chance - I could get killed on the way home tonight. Individually, some morons will do quite well and some who have prepared well will fail at the first gate. But overall trying to understand and adapt will improve ones chances. Those who do not wish to see are essentially self-selecting themselves out of the picture. I dunno what the ultimate population will be, but it will be many times less than it is now. And in all likelihood that will happen far enough in the future that I would be dead anyway. Therefore don't plan to survive, rather plan to make an difference.

Right now there are about 6.5+ Billion humans living on this ball of dirt. The numbers I have read are always between 750 Million to 1,250 Million, as a sustainable population. Admittedly these figures are based on populations in place just prior to the industrial age, say 1700 or so. Even then they were using coal, though, so my thought is on the lower end. Once the die off begins, if we follow usual patterns, we will overshoot, and drop somewhat below the maximum. Say, to 450 Million or so. Just my guess, and like you said many years away.

Of course, I should add that I am concerned about these figures because my children may, and grandchildren almost certainly will, see these totals. The true effort has to be in holding down the loss of knowledge. While our technology has much fault in the coming debacle, scientific knowledge has much to offer the future as well, and should be preserved. Otherwise my grandkids arrive in a dismal future, devoid of hope and condemned to a life of ignorance and superstition.

My contribution to them will be in many books that I am collecting, and encouraging them to read even now. As time goes on, if things begin to deteriorate, perhaps I will endow a library, but a private collection may be the best I can do. That and notes I take on events as they transpire. History and philosophy... science and technology. Life may continue, and should be worthwhile.

Yesterday while driving on an Austin freeway I asked partner "would you be surprised in 10 years if this road was empty?" He said, after a brief pause, "No, it's never been that crowded."

Even though he knew exactly what I was talking about, he answered it as though he didn't believe traffic could drop that much.

Nowadays, I tend not to debate an issue; instead I throw out a comment or question and listen eagerly for what comes back. At dinner with friends I have to hold back... last night I purposefully said as little as possible. The conversation was total fluff. Mostly one or two entertaining the others.

I've been mulling over the idea that, really, nothing is to be done about resource depletion. It's happening now, it will continue and the consequences will be had. I know this has been kicked around here before, but lately I keep pondering this question:

What are the most-likely-to-occur events that will have a jolt-like effect regarding resource depletion?

Apparently the financial mess has only restrained our spending and done nothing for our thinking.

What are the most-likely-to-occur events that will have a jolt-like effect regarding resource depletion?

In headline format:

Saudis Say Oil In Ground More Valuable Than US Dollars, Announce Big Export Cuts

Once Again, Chinese Outmaneuver US, Lock Up Major Oil Exporter With Long-Term Contract; Dwindling Alternatives Remain Available

Several Tankers In Flames As Strait of Hormuz Shut Down

Mushroom Clouds Over Several MidEast Capitals As Israeli-Iran War Reaches Horrific Conclusion

Big "OOOPS": Energy Agencies and Experts Admit Calculations Way Off, Oil Now In Rapid Terminal Decline. Angry Congress Opens Hearings, Demands Answers.

Gas Wars: Lines of Angry Motorists At Empty Pumps Erupt Into Riots; Dozens Reported Dead, Hundreds Injured As Police Cars Idled.

Huge Disappointment: Ethanol, Shale Oil, Algae Diesel - Nothing Seems To Be The Answer For Oil Depletion

Hopes Dashed: Lack Of Investment Capital Forces Abandonment Of Big Energy Projects; Last Hope For Many - What Now?

Living With Less: Why The New Frugality Isn't Just The Latest Trend, But Is Increasingly Most People's Only Choice.

I hope that we don't see ALL of these headlines this next decade!

That was probably a good comment but I was to bored to read it all - I just scanned it for any news about Britney or Tiger.....

Tiger has just sailed his new yacht into the strait of Hormuz

Once Again, Chinese Outmaneuver US, Lock Up Major Oil Exporter With Long-Term Contract; Dwindling Alternatives Remain Available

That one you will likely never see. Almost all contracts have contingency clauses that void them under certain conditions. And if no such clause exists then they can just be ignored. For instance: Suppose China has a contract with Kuwait to buy all its oil at $75 a barrel. Then suppose that oil goes to $150 a barrel. What do you think would happen then? That's right, Kuwait would then sell its oil, to whomever, for $150 a barrel.

Ron P.

Streetcars Built in Local Shop, Unemployed tear up street with pick-axes and shovels, recycled plastic ties and abandoned rail used for new transportation artery


New Orleans built 30 new streetcars in our local shop.

Best Hopes,


Edited to replace the image with a link. That photo is too large to hot-link.

I attended a retirement planning meeting yesterday. It was like a trip with Alice into Wonderland. The outside expert councilor was explaining to people how their retirement savings would grow and grow after they invested in the various market funds his company offered.

I had a very similar feeling recently in a meeting with my son's high school counselors with regards planning for his college education.

I know they actually believed what they were saying but they were proposing courses and degree programs that depended on BAU continuing forever. It sounded like something out of the twilight zone. I just nodded, smiled pleasantly and screamed silently inside my head.

Fortunately my son is a realist who is good in science and math and I think we can get him into an engineering or science based program somewhere.

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland.

Good luck with that!

I attended a retirement planning meeting yesterday. ... Everybody was simply suspending all knowledge of or belief in reality. Everyone except me. And THAT made ME the crazy one!

In the land of the blind,

The one-eyed man is ...


Does anyone else find it funny that people can look at the same 'technical analysis' (I suppose there are different ways of interpreting it?) and come up with the exact opposite conclusion? See above 'Oil headed to $80' and yesterday 'Oil headed to $60'.

I'm tempted to assume the opposite, but I would have to pick who to listen to first...

No, actually it is quite common for so-called technicians to come up with opposite conclusions. Technical analysis is supposed to be a system to make your guesses more accurate. There is little evidence however that this is the case. There are no rich technicians. They average being right about 50 percent of the time. That means that over the long run they break even... minus commissions.

Those who make it big in the equities market and/or commodities market are fundamentalists. That is they look at the fundamentals of the stock or commodity to make their decisions. They totally ignore all technical data such as swings, double tops, head and shoulders and such technical patterns. There are a lot of rich fundamentalists. Warren Buffett and Jim Rogers come to mind.

Ron P.

A good debunking of Technical Analysis appears at The Skeptic's Dictionary.

Stoneleigh of Automatic Earth repeatedly recommends Bob Prechter, who as far as I can tell embraces Technical Analysis to the point of claiming that even music styles and skirt lengths follow the stock market!

I have yet to finish reading up on this, but it sounds like crap to me.

Prechter is saying the opposite. That the stock market follows skirt lengths and music styles because they are both a manifestation of public mood. At one time he was also claiming a correlation between sunspots and stock market; Michael Jordan's career and stock market; Donald Trump's book publishing and stock market (I am not making this up). I think he is quack. He has been wrong about just about everything since at least since 1995 (except real estate for the last couple of years).

"Prices will initially move up to challenge resistance at $75 a barrel, according to Richard Ross, an analyst at Auerbach Grayson. A close above $75 would set the market up to retest the $79-to-$80 area, Ross said."

I agree that TA is no better than random chance, which is why I only invest on long-term fundamentals in physical conventional oil and physical bullion.

Part of the problem is that TA assumes an honest market where the charts are based on honest data. As we all know, the Wall Street banksters are gaming the market by front-running the quotes and by selling options to customers and then immediately short-selling those options so they will expire worthless. TA charts also overlook the observer effect; if everyone, including the banksters, is watching the chart, then that will alter the natural behaviour of the market. This is why I do not own any publicly-traded stocks; all my paper investments are private equity.

Actually, you could use TA to show that the economy is experiencing price depression, and oil will follow that trend and drop. Of course, as we exhaust the easy oil, the value of oil should rise in proportion to the cost of extraction. I suppose that means, if the dollar drops in value, oil could drop less or remain the same, and it would be the same as rising?

All I know for sure is that the economy is fickle right now; no one seems to know what to expect. They (meaning economists and financiers) are ALL guessing, just like I am and you probably are. If you are particularly knowledgeable in a topic, you could invest there and maybe beat the odds. But so far as technical analysis, it is all a crap shoot.

Good luck, one and all.

Re: Jeff Rubin: Why you won't want to rely on OPEC down the road, up top.

Jeff Rubin gets it. It is not just China/India that are the reason oil is headed higher. The current oil price slump is nothing but seasonal IMO. It is a buying opportunity. The low should be in by the end of January.

Massively underpricing — hence massively overconsuming — your own resource isn’t unique to the oil industry or to OPEC. Just ask Hydro-Québec when they plan to stop subsidizing power rates in La Belle Province — probably around the same time Saudi Arabia and Venezuela start charging their citizens world oil prices for the gasoline and oil-fired power they consume.

And why shouldn't they? Suppose resource producers let prices at home be at the market level. What happens? The local consumers have to restrict consumption just like everyone else. The local oil producers reap a bonanza of profit on that consumption. And foreign consumers will have more because of adherence to free market principles. It is another case of failure of free market ideology.

I'm beginning to take the producer's view here in North Iowa too. The home place is surrounded by 224 wind turbines. And there are several other wind farms. I discovered 7 new turbines near the ethanol plant at Lakota, Iowa that I didn't know about during a Sunday drive. The electricity is exported to who knows where since most of it can not be consumed locally. Why should I conserve electricity or even worry about it?

And with all the ethanol plants, not to mention the biodiesel plants, going full blast and exporting that form of energy, it's a little silly for me to even think about Peak Oil. Most people around here don't. They buy huge hulking pickups, some able to burn E85 which is widely available. Many are diesel.

I heat my house by burning corn because it costs half the price of LP. And all the surplus corn not used in ethanol plants is fed to animals or exported to others who mostly feed it to animals. Why should I listen to those who want population control when they refuse to even mention controlling the animal population first?

The world of the energy producer is the opposite of the energy consumer. The more he does the politically correct thing, the worse off he is.

Nice going, X

Lately you are coming up with some interesting ways to describe certain aspects the elephant.None of us can see the entire elephant of course, but your comments are enlightening.I fear most of us tend to see things from a rather provincial and condescending cultural vantage point.

Obviously your corn growing friends have accepted the reality oil oil shortages if not actually peak oil to the extent that they are placing big bets on the continued prosperity of the corn ethanol industry.

And it says a lot about the productivity of industrial ag that you can burn corn cheaper than anything else.

But sooner or later ( and I am afraid sooner ) the game plan will have to be changed drastically as we run short of phusphorus and other non renewable inputs.There's no way we can run this country on ethanol produced on our farmland.

"And it says a lot about the productivity of industrial ag that you can burn corn cheaper than anything else."

It also speaks volumes about the government subsidy of corn, to the benefit of a few corporations and to the detriment of just about everything and everyone else.

Corn's an amazing plant though, the productivity is mind-boggling. Out of a small cornfield, a teeny fraction of an acre, we get chicken feed, pop and parching corn, green corn, and it actually stacks up, I was startled to see some buckets of corn molding, freaked me out - X. told me "chickens" which of course will eat it happily, and come to think of it, black mold on wheat is a problem, green mold well .... seems beneficial if anything.

A couple handfuls of kernels, popped or parched, is basically a meal. Allowed to ferment, it's an even more fun meal lol.

So, I don't find burning corn in a stove to be offensive. When it comes down to crunch time, the stove will be given the less palatable stuff to eat.

Come to think of it, since I'm the resident pyro experimenting with burning things.... I wonder if acorns may make a nice fuel? They're calorie-rich, and should feed well through a feed system. Due to their oils, they should have at least the caloric content of corn kernels, although the smoke will smell worse probably.

But don't you get serious nutritional deficits with a maize diet?

If just about all you get is maize, and you don't nixtmalize it, yeah.

Corn is indeed amazing. But most of it is going to cattle feed though cattle can't live well on a high grain diet--hence the high use of antibiotics (and the collapse of the usefulness of these miracle drugs). It makes a much fattier meat that is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes...

Another major use is for high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener invented about thirty years ago that is now in nearly everything (and note that sugar consumption did not go down). This one product has been implicated with much of the rise in obesity and diabetes.

Those around here who raise chickens know that they get too fat if you add much corn into the feed mix. The same thing is happening with humans.

Industrial corn requires the farmer to poison his land and the water that flows out of it. The GOM has a huge and growing dead zone mostly because of run off from industrial farms.

So yes, corn is amazing, and industrial corn is killing us and much of the planet in amazing ways.

By the way, I have less problem burning corn in a stove to stay warm (especially in a small, well insulated home) than burning it in the engine of an enormous SUV with one person on board.

Corn is indeed an amazing food. It's kind of the original genetically-modified organism. However, as grown in the US it is an extremely energy-intensive one. The yields American farmers get depend on inputs of huge amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, which is produced using natural gas, huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides, and large amounts of diesel fuel.

Corn is not a natural cattle food. Their digestive systems are not built to process it, they don't do well on it, and the beef doesn't taste very good. However, farmers feed corn to cattle because it is extremely cheap. If it wasn't, they would go back to grazing them on the open range, because that is the energy efficient way to raise cattle. They're quite efficient at eating grass and can be grazed on a lot of land that is useless for growing crops. If you ranch them the old-fashioned way using horses, there's not much fossil fuel involvement.

High fructose corn syrup is an extremely artificial product of the chemistry labs. Corn doesn't normally contain fructose. It is produced by running the corn through a process that is not a lot different from an oil refinery. However, it is so cheap a sweetener that food producers are putting it into everything.

Although they like the taste of sugar because under natural conditions they couldn't get too much, human beings are not built to digest large amounts of it. It overloads their pancreas, which fail and result in diabetes. High fructose corn syrup is leading to an epidemic of type 2 diabetes among Americans.

So, you have to realize that the US corn industry is a highly artificial one that survives mostly on government subsidies and consumer ignorance.

It's not that I dislike corn itself. Where I live we can grow only small amounts during a limited time frame, so when the sweet corn is ready I enjoy eating a few cobs. It's just that on an highly-subsidized industrial scale, it's a problem.

Jeff Rubin gets it.

Interesting that you would say that, given your rabid support of corn ethanol. Here is something else Rubin wrote earlier this year:

Corn-based ethanol makes no sense either in the short-run or the long-run. For reasons that I've explained in the book - ie, the Second Law of Thermodynamics. But even as ethanol production is ultimately abandoned, remember that modern agriculture is really about turning oil into food. If the price of oil goes up, guess what happens to food prices.


Jeff Rubin spews some nonsense. Gasoline prices in Russia are higher than they are in the US per liter. So we can deduct 3 million barrels per day from his greater-OPEC domestic consumption at non-market prices crock.

Cry me a river that Venezuela subsidizes domestic consumption. It is really obscene for rich fat cats, plump on loot ripped from the third world, to be b*tching that said third world is doing something for its own benefit. You need real metrics of fossil fuel abuse and Venezuela's gasoline prices ain't it. The US and Canada are number one in the world for fossil CO2 emissions per capita. They should be the ones cutting back on gratuitous gasoline use (e.g. leisure driving en masse during sunny weather and trips to the grocery store up the block).

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 11, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.8 million barrels per day during the week ending December 11, 117 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 80.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 3.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.8 million barrels per day last week, down 365 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.3 million barrels per day, 1.4 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 967 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 229 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 3.7 million barrels from the previous week. At 332.4 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 4.0 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 12.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Net Imports continue to fall:

11/20/09 11/27/09 12/04/09 12/11/09
Net Imports (Incl SPR) 9,768 9,604 8,695 8,460

That's definitely the bright side to the Great Recession. I guess Bush had a plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil after all!

As I noted over on the American Freedom thread, the post-2005 pattern, through 2008, has been that China bought every barrel of oil that we did not import--plus some.

Oil Extends Gains After Larger-Than-Forecast Supply Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil futures extended gains after a U.S. government report showed a larger-than-forecast decline in inventories.

Supplies dropped 3.69 million barrels to 332.4 million in the week ended Dec. 11, the Energy Department said today in a weekly report. Inventories were forecast to drop by 2 million barrels, according to the median of analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Usable US crude oil inventories--total commercial crude inventories (excluding SPR) less 270 mb--have dropped from (a very high) 105 mb in the first week of May, 2009 to 62 mb last week, a decline of 41%.

As I said before, in my opinion we are transitioning from voluntary + involuntary net export reductions this year to mostly involuntary reductions in net exports next year.

One of the impacts of stimulus spending may have been to keep US oil consumption propped enough to keep oil prices from falling in the short term. By the time that local and state governments are forced to face reality and severely cut payrolls and services, the impact on global supply/demand balance may be pretty minor.

I notice that gasoline and jet fuel consumption is trending up over last year's level.

4 week averages:
(Thousand Barrels per Day)    12/11/09  12/11/08    Change(%) 
Finished Motor Gasoline (4)      9,003     8,912       1.0
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel           1,490     1,424       4.6 
Product supplied:
Weekly Estimates              11/20/09 11/27/09 12/04/09 12/11/09
Finished Motor Gasoline          9,092    8,943    9,012    8,963
Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel           1,562    1,418    1,320    1,660

Is that increase the result of economic recovery? Or, are more people living in their cars or heating with kerosene?

E. Swanson

Apropos of the above comment on the acidification of the ocean and die off of smaller species.

Last week I took a 100 mile trip to the central areas of Ky.

I wanted to observe nature in other areas to see if I would observe the same lack of smaller species and to chat with a few farmers about what they were seeing.

I went thru Muhlenberg county. Where immense strip mining of coal laid waste to the land. I went thru enough counties that I went beyond the band of destroyed timberlands from last winters ice storm.

What I saw? In birds I saw three crows. No water fowl. Some flocks of starlings. A bad ugly invasive bird that tends to chase out others. I saw 4 or so buzzards. That was it for the birdlife.

I asked if they noticed they lack of honey bees,lightening bugs and in general other life forms. They said they were seeing the same thing I was seeing.

Abesence of much much wildlife.

Along the road shoulders , no birds. Usually a few cardinals, blue jays and chicadees. Saw none of those.

What I think is that a very major event is taking place yet no one is speaking about it. Something very bad is broken with nature.

This is what I saw and what I see. Maybe somedays others will see the same.

Kentucky was a very rich and varied land. The native Americans hunted here but did not posess the land for they spoke of 'ghosts' who lived here. But whites favored it for its huge vase timelands and extermely large numbers of wild game. The soil and water were very good.

This was once how my land was. Now this land is dead and dying. And no one seems to give a damn. No one.


On a up note--
I hiked into the Redwood Creek drainage in Muir Woods, and 5 adult coho salmon have arrived, the first in 3 years. If we didn't get them this year, it was looking dismal, as they are on 3 year cycles.
I also scored big time on mushrooms, mainly oysters. I did not see anyone for hours.

Airdale, I understand your lament.

But I do encourage you to be skeptical of one's "seemings" (it seems that _____). "Seemings" are by definition generalizations and thus aren't true.

There are lots of people who care, they just may not be in your immediate network.

See how many people care by watching this video:

"How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming"


The Audubon Society annual Christmas Bird Count is coming up soon, and that should provide some good solid evidence to either confirm or refute your anecdotal observations.

In the meantime, there is access to the database on the above site so that anyone can do their own research on the historical trends.

I did a quick search just for Eastern Bluebird counts for KY, TN, WV, VA, and NC since 1950, and this indicates that after crashing to a low of 0.1878 sightings per party hour in 1961, the species has recovered to 2.2806 last year. This seems to confirm my own experience - I rarely saw bluebirds in the early '60s, but I see them all the time now. Undoubtedly, the movement to put up lots of bluebird houses has paid off.

I also did a search on the same area and time range for Pileated Woodpecker - a large, hard-to-miss bird fairly high up on the food chain - and it indicates that the sightings per party hour have increased from 0.1025 in 1950 to 0.2659 last year - a definite increase. Again, I do see Pileateds more often than I used to, so this rings true.

I didn't have time to research other species or other areas, or to drill down to your specific area. If you have time, you might want to play around with this. It may be that there is something going on more specific to farm areas that didn't get picked up in the larger area I researched.

I suspect that is the case - areas with large scale industrial farming are likely being devastated. In my small corner of Pennsylvania we're on a rocky hill where it has not been economical to farm for a very long time (if it ever was), and we still have a fairly wide variety of wildlife. Nowhere near what it should be, or once was, but not as bad as Airdale is reporting. Down in the flat areas it might be harder hit. I regard trying to maintain what small sanctuary I can as one of the most important things I can do.

This has to be a localized phenomenom. I live in Southern Maryland and have noticed no substantial change in wildlife patterns in the past 5 years (as long as I've been living here). I see 50-100 vultures per day to and from work (no joke, a mix of Turkey and Black). I often see multiple Bald Eagles. Deer are everywhere, as are Opossum and Raccoons. Squirrels are as common as ever. For better or worse I find the same number of dead Box Turtles in the road about every year. This year I found three living on my 3 acre property alone.

I recently had a flock of at least 20 Bluebirds in my yard - Cardinals, Jays, Bluebirds, Finches, etc...they nest yearly. We had two successful broods of Bluebirds in our box this year, two last year, one the year before... We have a Barred Owl that lives on our property, I saw my first Screech owl just a month ago on our property as well.

This summer *was* slightly different. For the past 20 years I've been rearing Saturniidae, and I consider them an excellent barometer for the health of a local ecosystem. On a typical summer night in my yard, my MV light pulls in copious numbers of Luna, Imperialis, Regalis, IO, and Angulifera. This summer was miserable, especially for Angulifera, Regalis, and Imperialis. However Luna and Regalis require the same habitats, and Luna were absolutely everywhere. So I attribute the variation to natural cycles - AND WEATHER. This spring was absolutely miserable and wet, for days on end. I think it had a strong affect, a large number of my larvae succumbed to disease/mold compared to a typical year. I'm blaming the moth problem on El Nino/La Nina + natural cycles.

Another one that I think lost out to the weather - Hummingbirds. We usually have 12-15 hummingbirds at our feeders at any given time during the mid-late summer months. This year only a handful. They arrived on the exact same day in April as they have for the past four years (always the exact same day - 4/17) in normal numbers. But with the bad weather I assume that the first brood eggs never made it. I didn't see any young until later in the summer for the second brood.

Yes, I understand that habitat loss continues and it's no doubt bad, but thus far I'm just not seeing the gloom/doom that seems to dominate your land. Another wet spring could make next year bad as well, but just a year or two we were dealing with extensive drought and the moths were everywhere.

Airdale, I live in a small Florida town less than 2 miles from the beach.

I have a big mango tree behind my condo it is full of all kinds of birds lizards and tree frogs.
I just heard some night herons flying by. The coral reef off my beach still seems to be holding on for now, there are lots of fish and lobster though damage to the coral is evident and we are beginning to get reports of invasive Lion fish being spotted.

Not far away from me there are tomato farms and some cow and horse farms out west, going further west I hit the everglades and there is plenty of wildlife out there. All kinds of wading and water birds, fish, alligators frogs, snakes (yes we now also have invasive burmese pythons too). I have even seen deer and there are reports of bears and pumas. There are swarms of insects of all sorts including mosquitoes, fireflies, wild bees and giant sphinx moths.

Its true there are signs up that warn about pregnant women eating the fish because of mercury levels.

Overall even though things are not hunky dory by any measure it seems that my mostly urban environment is doing better than what you are reporting from the ground out in the farmlands.

When the city has more wildlife than what we used to call the country it seems a sad situation indeed! As you have suggested in some of your posts it probably has a lot to do with agricultural practices of using pesticides and herbicides on a massive scale. You can't use them in the city.

Looks may buy happiness, but only in the city

“City women who were the most attractive got a lot of bang for their appearance buck,” says the study’s lead author, Victoria Plaut, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and an assistant professor at the University of Georgia. “And if you were even slightly below average, you were very clearly worse off.”

When it came to women living in the country, there was no connection between physical appearance and happiness. Even more interesting — there was a slight trend in the data for women in the country to be happier if they were chubbier, Plaut says.

I am reminded of what Heinlein wrote about women on the lunar colony in "The moon is a harsh mistress," there were no ugly women on the moon, but some were better looking than others.

At Texas A&M in the mid-Seventies, which was shortly after women were allowed unrestricted enrollment, we noticed something similar, some women were better looking than others, but there were no ugly women.

Let me try to re-write these quotes based on what the study measured:

"City women who had the lowest waist to hip ratio thought they were the happiest," says the study's lead author. "And if your waist to hip ratio was even slightly above average, you very clearly considered yourself to be less happy."

When it came to women living in the country, there was no connection between waist to hip ratio and their self-ratings of happiness. Even more interesting — there was a slight trend in the data for women in the country to rate themselves as happier if their waist to hip ratio was slightly higher than average, Plaut says.

To me, they seem to be missing the obvious conclusion. In the city, everyone (but, especially women) is constantly bombarded with images of skinny celebrities and models and other, assorted "beautiful people". Those in the country are not constantly bombarded by this imagery.

The imagery (advertising, television, billboards, et al) is designed to tell you a story: this (skinny, beautiful) person is very happy, and you could be happy too.....if you buy this product.

Seems rather obvious to me. It's why I can't stand big cities any more. Popular culture has always made me retch.

[end of sermon]

It's a complex issue, as the article hints. I'm not sure that kind of advertising would serve to make pretty women happier. No mere mortal can compare with the airbrushed images of Madison Ave. I would think if advertising were the problem, everyone would be unhappy.

Being beautiful has its downsides, too; perhaps those are mitigated in the city. I think I'm pretty average as mainstream America judges such things. I don't stop traffic, nor do I stop clocks. But I've been drop-dead gorgeous...by living in places with different standards of beauty, and, as Westexas mentions, by going to a school were men were men, women were scarce, and sheep were very nervous. Frankly, I didn't like it. It was flattering for the first couple of weeks, then it was just exhausting. The constant attention was wearing, and the harassment could be downright scary.

I agree that it is certainly complicated. However, it isn't just advertising - it's much of popular culture: movies, television, magazines, advertising, music, etc. And, your point about beauty having its downsides is well taken.

My point was that the measurements used in the study to determine "attractiveness" were based on waist to hip ratio (lower=more attractive). This could be translated to "thinner = more attractive".

The standards in advertising (and tv, film, music) are to present images of the ideal woman. One aspect of this ideal, that is undeniably prevalent, is that they must be thin (much thinner than average). As such, it stands to reason that those women who consider themselves to be closer to this unrealistic standard of thinness would consider themselves to be "happier". And, the more you are inundated with these images, the more effect they will have on your body image, and your idea of how happy you are.

I saw much of this during my years working in the alternate reality that is Hollywood. So, perhaps extrapolating this to the larger public is skewed. But, it is undeniable (to me) that the culture of Hollywood (including everyone who lives around it, but doesn't necessarily work in the industry) is that thinner = more beautiful, and more beautiful = happier. The camera only adds 30 pounds because they are all underweight (from an average body) by 30-50 pounds.

Further, the study doesn't make a connection that several previous studies have made: the more "attractive" you are to your society, the more favorable your chances in life - whether it be better grades, jobs, raises, opportunities, potential mates, etc.

The only thing I think the study in the article measured is how closely the women felt they were to the unrealistic "ideal" woman of popular culture - and since they used thinness as the metric, the thinner women in the city felt closer to the "ideal". The women who were not bombarded by the images every day had a much more accurate view of their "attractiveness", which is why their waist to hip ratios were more in line with real body images.

I agree that being beautiful can open doors. And yet...it hasn't been my experience that being closer to the ideal makes you happier. Hollywood being a prime example. All those rich, beautiful people...who are so screwed up.

I suspect being "close" to the ideal can be more stressful than being very far away from it. If you look like, say, Madeleine Albright, you're not going to be spending much time trying to look like Paris Hilton. Indeed, that may be one reason why people experience an increase in happiness after age 45. You no longer worry so much about your looks.

Well, except in Holllywood...

You would be surprise though. I know a fellow who is in his late 50s - he went in for liposuction and some sort of a face lift. He didn't tell anyone - after the face lift he grew a mustache to hide some of the scars while they were healing. I told him it made him look French (the guy is a conservative, so I figured that was a funny way to tweak him).

It was only later when he and his girlfriend weren't doing well that she spilled the beans to us, and told us the *real* reason he grew the thing.

Your comment about Madeleine Albright reminds me of the Futurama episode where some kid was trying to download a copy of Lucy Liu and got Madeleine Albright instead..

It hasn't been my experience, either ("that being closer to the ideal makes you happier"). In fact, it's usually the opposite, in my experience. And, you're right about all those people being screwed up. The famous "beautiful people" in Hollywood only want one thing.....to be more famous and more beautiful (the Red Queen's race, as it were). Angelyne is a quintessential example of this - taken to its illogical conclusion.

However, with all this aside, my point about there being benefits to being viewed as "attractive" by your society is that those benefits probably lead to more of the self-ranking happiness in the study than does waist to hips ratio. Arguments could be made that there are many aspects of a person (not just thinness, but also, for example, being White in America) that offer these benefits and lead to greater "happiness".

'Plain women know the most about men' Katherine Hepburn (paraphrased..)

Arguments could be made that there are many aspects of a person (not just thinness, but also, for example, being White in America) that offer these benefits and lead to greater "happiness".

Generally symmetry of features is a big aspect of perceived attractiveness. At least at the sexual level, our genes are trying to help us find the most fit mate(s). So some of it is an unconscious attraction to proxies for health and vigour.

Scanning the paper I kept thinking that they should have looked at dating age singles, versus married people separately. Clearly in the dating scene being attractive greatly increases ones options, but in settled adult life, whe're are not supposed to be flirting so I'd think any benefits would be much smaller.

All those rich, beautiful people...who are so screwed up.

My daughter found a heck of a deal in Santa Fe, and our family is staying here for a week. I was reading a (2008) article about Ali MacGraw, who has lived here since 1994, and we have seen her around town a couple of times this week. Brace yourselves Baby Boomers, Ali MacGraw is 71, but she looks great. In any case, she had some interesting comments about our celebrity culture:

Ali MacGraw Talks from the Heart about Her Life in Santa Fe

SF: When you hit the big screen, was it anything like you expected?

A: Don’t forget. I didn’t fall into the film business until I was in my late twenties. I had been working at very real jobs since I was 14. I have been a waitress and a maid and blah blah blah, for which I am so grateful. It is such a freaky thing when you get to be a star, not when you get to be an accomplished great artist or actress or musician, but when there is that sort of tabloid sign over your name. It’s almost like a pop figure that has nothing to do with you or what you are capable of being. You are the crush of the moment—and I was. You had better have some grounding when that time comes along because it is so insane. People kiss your ass and it is just shocking. If you don’t have any clue how the world really is, it can wreck your life.

SF: Don’t we see that now in the lives of a lot of these young stars?

A: They’ll be lucky to live. It’s heartbreaking because in an era where celebrity is worshipped above everything, is the “the” drug of the twenty first century, way above the chemicals. Look at the mentality of a reality show where people tell shameful, dark, awful secrets just because they are on television. I learned from my parents that celebrity had no meaning unless it came in a package that included tremendous skill.

SF: That’s refreshingly honest. Now, this is not just blowing smoke at you, but after the often tumultuous track of your very public Hollywood life, you seem extremely composed and well grounded for someone who has been on the roller coaster ride your life has taken. What is it in your experience or background that gave you the life view you have now?

A: The older I get the more clearly I understand the value of the way my parents brought me up. They were artists, bohemians, hard hard hard working people who made very little money. Life was tough but they had great intellectual curiosity and integrity. Their whole beings were wrapped up in art whether it was weaving or painting or pasting leaves in a book so that we would not be bored. We never had a television. That’s not to say something bad about television, because I see extraordinary stuff on television, but there is a moment in your childhood when your imagination has to go crazy. If my brother or I ever said we were bored, our parents would tell us to go outside and draw a picture of the chickens or something. I had a very sound upbringing.

Being out of the industry for at least a certain amount of time can provide the needed perspective that is missing when you are "inside the casino" of Hollywood. But, Ali is the exception, not the rule, since very few really want to leave. Welcome to the Hotel California...

"Inside the casino" was always my way of explaining the strangeness of Hollywood to others, while I was working in the industry. When you are in a casino in Vegas, there are no clocks. Time doesn't seem to pass. You have no real way of knowing what's going on outside the casino. Hollywood is like that. Everyone even does their best to keep looking "young" - or, at least, the age they were when they got famous.

I have had a theoryfor some tkme, backed up by absolutely no empirical data, that the distribution of happiness at a given income level is independent of the income level (except at the real poverty level), eg, conservation of unhappiness. There may be as many happy/sad people in Hollywood as in the middle classes, it's just that the "talent" can monetarily afford and has "accepting employers" that enables them to express their unhappiness in extreme ways that aren't possible for middle class people.

Whether mid-level energy shortages or technological "saviours" occur in the future, I don't expect to be happier or sadder than now. It'll probably make a difference to my diet, temperature and travel but I suspect I'll find whatever my psyche needs to justify it's "natural happiness level".

According to some studies, rich people are actually less happy than people of more moderate means. Why? Because if you already have everything, there's a lot less that can make you happy. If you're poor, and someone gives you $100, you're ecstatic. If you're Bill Gates, an extra $100 means nothing.

Agree that people probably have a certain happiness "setpoint." I, too, do not expect peak oil to affect my personal happiness in the long run, though my circumstances may be very much affected.

Having had some extreme family challenges, I learned early on not to get caught up in thinking or saying "you think you have it bad, but listen to my story" or "boy, his life sucks worse than mine". Instead, everybody seems to normalize their circumstances to the extent that some days are good and some are bad, and it's a relative scale with a bias set by personal psyche. The old "walk a mile in his shoes" saying is a nugget of wisdom that supports this perspective.

What will truly suck is that besides decreasing lifestyles, which will weigh upon many with each ratchet down and the foreshadowing of the next, the incidence of pure misery will increase as well, as death and strife and loss take new tolls. So, even for those with a pretty high natural happiness quotient, it will be less pleasant.

I think when the Founding Fathers spoke of the "pursuit of happiness", they understood some of this, and having the opportunity to envision a life where things are better is an important part of happiness. Most people do what they have to do whether happy or sad, so happiness won't greatly affect the turnings of the world. Happiness will be what we can find in between the gray little chinks of our miserable little lives, fed by the hope of marginally less miserable tomorrow.

I agree. One of the things I say a lot to other people is:

Never criticize someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. Then, if they get mad because you're criticizing them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.


However, I think your points are good ones. I agree with your premise that "even for those with a pretty high natural happiness quotient, it will be less pleasant". But I also think that the steps downward will force people to interact more with each other, find simple pleasures, stop relying on something (or someone) to keep them entertained (and "happy") - which will lead to a different kind of "happiness".

I think when the Founding Fathers spoke of the "pursuit of happiness", they understood some of this, and having the opportunity to envision a life where things are better is an important part of happiness.

Yes, but I think people will do this regardless of evidence to the contrary. Heck, that's kind of the point of religion, isn't it?

I am reminded of the only person to escape from a North Korean prison camp (he was born there, so it was normal).

His happiest day was when he found some corn that had passed through a horse undigested. He dug it out of the manure and got more food that day.

Happiness is Relative,


New DC Streetcars arrive in Baltimore.

The streetcar lines aren't actually going to open for revenue service until 2012.

I know. I know the then chief engineer for DC DoT, John Dietrick, and tried to prevent some of the foul-ups there (and proposed some enhancements).

Not John's fault (he tried) but some screw-ups there. Guess it goes with the first try on a shoe string.

Best Hopes for Better,


Gulf petro-powers to launch currency in latest threat to dollar hegemony ... "The Gulf monetary union pact has come into effect,” said Kuwait’s finance minister, Mustafa al-Shamali, speaking at a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait.


I think this means the USA will have to borrow (and pay back) in the new currency if they want oil from the Middle East, no more just printing up $ IOUs?

Is Canada in a housing bubble? It sure looks that way.

Low rates a bubble, author Rubin warns homeowners

Carney: Be prepared for higher interest rates

Housing prices here in the metro Vancouver area are insanely high, especially in the city of Vancouver where 66% of pre-tax income goes to housing. It looks like buyers believe this number will hit 100%. Why else would they be buying?

The central bank said in its report that household debt will be “a key vulnerability over time,'' and in the stress test model assumed that the ratio of debt to income would rise from 1.42, or 142 per cent, in the second quarter of this year to 1.60, or 160 per cent, by mid-2012.

Yes we`re over our ears in debt in the Great White North. Yet almost no one that I talk to is worried about it.

"Is Canada in a housing bubble? It sure looks that way."

Absolutely. Interest rates are at an all-time low, and stupid young couples who only think of the current rates are rushing to buy houses with 5% down on 35-year terms. They don't or won't recognize that when their mortgage comes up for renewal five years from now, it will be at double the rate, and they won't be able to pay for it. Because the Tories have a minority government, they can't crack down as much as they would like to because the Liberals and NDP would jump all over them. The result is that we will be repeating the USA's mistake. Which is why I am investing in oil and precious metals.

An excellent view of this problem is at www.greaterfool.ca, run by Garth Turner, a former Tory M.P. who was expelled from the party a few years ago.

Why wouldn't a sharp couple invest in a 10-year loan, and have the low rate locked in for the duration?

A 5-year balloon is a nasty note. Why does anybody get those if they're not wealthy and living temporarily in an area?

"Why wouldn't a sharp couple invest in a 10-year loan, and have the low rate locked in for the duration?"

Maximum term for a mortgage in Canada is five years. Maximum length of a mortgage is 35 years. Also, the kind of people buying houses today are mostly the ones who barely qualify for a 35-year mortgage. These are in fact sub-prime loans, which is why we are repeating all the American mistakes.

Boy, I've learned something today. I suppose there would be a lot going for only buying with 5-year notes, and trading up. You'd actually end up way ahead in less than 15 years.

Why wouldn't a sharp couple invest in a 10-year loan, and have the low rate locked in for the duration?

Because a 5-year locked-in loan will have a higher interest rate than a short term variable rate. Plus the "sharp couple" aren’t really that smart. They believe the BS emanating from the mouths of the real estate brokers who tell them that it’s the monthly payments that matter, not the price of the house. What they don’t realize is that the house is expensive because interest rates are low, and that the house will become less expensive when interest rates go up.

A 5-year balloon is a nasty note. Why does anybody get those if they're not wealthy and living temporarily in an area?

I can think of a lot of seasons. One is our national obsession with positive thinking, " I know in five years I'll easily be able to afford it -so why not buy the biggest house they'll let me". Then you are surrounded by people whose remuneration depends on making the sale real-estate type, loan originators etc., so they will cheer you on. Add to that that perversion of the cult of positivity, the prosperity gospel "God wants you to be rich", so grab that loan dangled in front of you......

Back before the depression era, mortgages typically were non-amortizing with balloons due in 5 or 10 years. Thus the set-up for all the stock melodrama plots about the mortgage being due and the evil guy demanding payment - or the lender's daughter, etc., etc.

I have enjoyed reading his blog for a while now. When I first started, he spoke of being "bunned" by an audience. Initially I was confused - was this some weird Canadian expression of some sort that I haven't heard before??? No, he was speaking before a group of people that were eating at the time, and they were taking buns from the bread baskets at their tables, and throwing them at him. I guess they didn't like his message.

It baffles me that after what has gone on in the U.S., that people in Canada are so blissfully ignorant of the possibility that they too have a bubble. But I guess it just goes to show how hard it is to stop a stampede once it has started.

Our bubble's been building for over 10 years. More than long enough to forget the last pop.

OPPS, sorry! by the time xeroid posted ,well, anyway..
The sheiks are saber.. er, currency-rattling again:
Gulf petro-powers to launch currency in latest threat to dollar hegemony


As the comments following the story indicate, this move could go anywhere or nowhere at all.

I have a story just about ready to go on the Top 10 Energy Stories of 2009, but Platts is also asking for reader input in ranking the year's biggest stories:

Platts wants to know: the biggest oil stories of '09

I vote for oil refiner Valero becoming the 3rd largest ethanol producer behind Archer Daniels and Poet with the purchase of 3 more bankrupt plants:


That is in my Top 5. I ranked my Top 10 (of their stories) here:

My Top 10

Number 1 for me is the oil price recovery, because it has such a large impact on so many things. My version of the Top 10 will be a little different from Platts, because I treated some topics in common, and have a couple on there that they don't.

Dead brilliant:

Prescott Financial Sells Gold, Women & Sheep

John Slattery for Prescott Financial urges you to diversify your gold portfolio with women and sheep.

Chesapeake finally began exploration, employing a technique called hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking for short), which involves shooting millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. Just one day after the drilling started, Lytle noticed that something had gone wrong with her water quality.
"I went to go to the bathroom and the toilet water was gray," she said. "There was sediment in it."

Also this past week was the closure of the Alta Rock geothermal deep underground fracturing (just north of SF) due to the previous test in Switzerland causing 9 million in building damages from earthquakes, caused by the fracturing.

So maybe the panacea of natural gas from shale and the unlimited power of geothermal, both by way of fracturing the crust of the Earth, will not solve our net energy problems afterall.

Never count your chickens before their hatched. In this case, the hatching provided grey toilet water and costly earthquakes, but no panacea.

This replacement of cheap, plentiful oil is a hard nut to crack.

Yay, perpetual-motion machine demonstrated:


You gotta love that they preface the demo by showing all the comments calling it "Magic Fairy Powered","Fraud","Perpetual Nonsense" and powered by "Blarney". They even admit that it breaks the laws of thermodynamics. And the idjits are buying it! ROFLMAO!

Where's Dara O'Briain when ya need im? "Get in the Feckin Sack!"