Drumbeat: December 20, 2009

Aramco president: Oil demand will grow 40% by 2030

(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) - Saudi Aramco president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih said during a recent visit to company markets in Asia "The developing economics of the world are at the heart of the International Energy Agency's forecast that world primary-energy demand will increase" "The forecast estimates demand will grow by 40 percent by 2030 - roughly 1.5 percent per year. And (the IEA forecast estimates that) oil will remain the single largest fuel in the energy mix," Saudi news agency quoted him Sunday.

The company's maximum sustainable production capacity is now at 12 million barrels per day - a figure that will ensure reliability of supply to meet this forecast increase in demand, he added. Even though oil and gas will be around for some time, the energy environment has changed and companies need to be prepared, Al-Falih said. As the world's energy demands increase and suppliers work to meet them, unconventional sources of oil, such as natural gas liquids, heavy oils and oils located in difficult environments, will need to be tapped, he said. "There is no shortage of oil potential but the complexity of bringing oil online increases significantly as we tap into more difficult conventional and nonconventional oil resources," he said. This - along with the fluctuating oil price - means that developing energy projects will take more time and more money.

Moody's Warns of 'Social Unrest'

Again, the power elite of any society survives by clever manipulation of the law, it seems to us. So long as society at large believes in these laws, the power elite is safe to rule, and even to use force. But if people don't believe their underlying mythos anymore, if they don't believe what they are being told and what their educational and religious establishments are telling them, then the ruling class that has created and promoted these themes is in trouble.

This is what is going on now, we believe. That is in fact the purpose of the Bell, to document and report on the ebb and flow of these themes and their success or degeneration in a time of informational challenges. We believe thanks to the Internet, that this is a very special time. So many of the West's dominant social themes are under attack. Everything from central banking, to the war on terror, to peak oil and even the legitimacy of the democratic state as it is currently constituted is under some level of assault. There are many that might put this down to coincidence, bad economic times, etc.

Stimulus funds drill wells as Calif water vanishes

DOS PALOS, Calif. — The government is spending $40 million in federal stimulus funds to pull water from underground aquifers in drought-stricken California, even as evidence is growing that the well-drilling boom could degrade the quality of water delivered to millions of residents.

Farmers, conservationists and engineers are criticizing the Interior Department's plan to spend taxpayer money on digging more wells, saying the approach risks marring the environment. Canals buckle, aquifers collapse and drinking water turns saltier due to so much pumping, and studies show that the state's water supplies are dwindling.

"We don't need any more straws going down there 'cause we're already doing a pretty good job of sucking it dry," said farmer Dan Errotabere, who has dug three wells as deep as 1,200 feet to irrigate his tomatoes, almonds and garlic in recent years. "We're using this water as a last resort, but pretty soon we're going to need a policy to protect ourselves from ourselves."

Poor rains worsen east Africa famine

A lack of rainfall has contributed to the ongoing food crisis in East Africa, Oxfam said on Thursday.

It was hoped that rains expected in November would provide relief for those struck by famine in this region.

However, areas including Ogaden in Ethiopia and Turkana in Kenya received below five per cent of normal rainfall in November. Meanwhile, Somalia is experiencing its most severe drought of the last 20 years.

Kenya's food stocks to run out in April

Kenya’s food stocks will run out in April, resulting in more people going hungry, a new study warns.

The Kenya Food Security report blames the failed or poor rains, high food prices and environmental degradation for the crisis.

The report also warns of increased inter-ethnic conflict over land and water.

Bill McKibben: An unwelcome lesson in power politics

COPENHAGEN—Late last night, after the word had come down that the climate talks had ended in a four-way, non-binding, unfair, and breathtakingly unambitious agreement between the United States, China, India, and South Africa, a crowd of young demonstrators from around the world gathered at the Metro station outside the Bella Center. It was 1 a.m., and it was bitter cold, in several ways.

These were not angry anarchists. These were young people who had spent the last few years of their lives working hard to make this process work. They came from groups like Greenpeace and Avaaz and Energy Action and 350.org. They all had credentials to the conference, but almost none had been inside for days, ever since the U.N. decided to stop letting more than a token few NGOs into the hall. They had written position papers, advised small nations, organized email blasts, and now—at least for the moment—it had all come to an end, an end far worse than most had imagined.

Copenhagen: A lesson in geopolitics

After two weeks of international deadlock and an all-night marathon negotiating session that produced a thin and toothless accord, the biggest climate talks in history devolved from "Hopenhagen" to "Nopenhagen".

The Copenhagen Accord - brokered at the last minute by Barack Obama, the US president, with China, India, Brazil and South Africa - did not receive universal support from the 193 countries participating in the climate summit.

The accord, which gutted a comprehensive agreement to pay poor countries to protect their forests, since the mass cutting of trees accounts for 20 per cent of global emissions, is not binding and does not have a set date for capping carbon emissions.

It provoked reactions from fury to despair.

Suzlon head sees wind turbine shortfall under pact

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Demand for new wind power could far outstrip supply under a new global climate deal, the founder of Asia's largest wind turbine maker said this week, calling for new manufacturers to help industry to fill orders. Tulsi Tanti, also chairman of India's Suzlon Energy, said due to the size of the 36.5 billion euro ($53.5 billion) wind turbine market, he does not consider existing manufacturers as competition.

Energy scarcity and not peak oil needs global focus

As I write these lines on the train from Amersfoot to Frankfurt, with white, fluffy snow as far as the eye can see, the world seems engrossed with the deliberations in Copenhagen, with focus on global warming and carbon emission.

However, in the hullaballoo of this entire debate, the very issue of energy poverty appears to have been sidelined. After all it affects the daily lives of billions — and not millions — of people. By 2050 there may be 10 billion people demanding energy — a daunting prospect, considering that of today’s 6.2 billion people, nearly 2 billion “don’t even have electricity — never flipped a light switch, says Keith O. Rattie, the CEO of Questar Corporation. Rattie projects the global energy demand will in fact grow 30 to 50 percent over the next 20 years and there are no near-term alternatives to fossil fuels.

Iran troops 'leave oil well, still in Iraq'

Iranian troops who for three days controversially occupied a disputed border oil well left the facility during the night but remain on Iraqi soil, Iraq's government spokesman said Sunday.

"The Iranian forces have pulled back 50 metres from the well and have taken their flag but we now demand they return to where they have come from and that negotiations begin on the demarcation of the border," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

Iran, Iraq Discuss Oil Field ‘Misunderstanding,’ IRNA Says

(Bloomberg) -- Iranian and Iraqi foreign ministers discussed a “misunderstanding” that led to the two countries’ troops facing off over an oil well in East Maysan, Iran’s state- run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Manouchehr Mottaki agreed with Iraq’s Hoshyar Zebari to hold a technical committee meeting on border issues during a phone conversion yesterday, IRNA said, citing the foreign ministry.

Pipeline sabotage halts oil exports from northern Iraq

BAGHDAD - Oil exports from northern Iraq have been halted by a sabotage attack on the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Sunday.

“A 55 kilometre (34 mile) section of the pipeline was damaged in the attack, causing a large oil spillage. Exports have stopped and technicians from the northern oil company (NOC) have gone to the site to survey the damage,” Jihad told AFP.

Iraq, the Kurds and the Americans

Four months ago, with little fanfare, the State Department sent a full-time senior diplomat, Alan Misenheimer, to live in Iraq’s disputed oil-rich city Kirkuk. For the Obama administration, which had been hoping to back out of its day-to-day involvement in Iraq’s fractious politics, it was a smart, if belated, call.

It was a recognition that the bitter discord between Iraq’s Kurdish regional government and the Shiite-Arab- dominated central government — over land, oil and the power of the central government — is the most dangerous fault line in Iraq today. It was also an acknowledgment that if these conflicts are to be settled, or at least kept from igniting a new civil war, there must be deft and sustained American involvement.

OPEC to keep oil supply unchanged: Algeria

ALGIERS (Reuters) – OPEC will keep supply unchanged when it meets on Tuesday in Angola, Algeria's Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said on Sunday.

"There will be no change in OPEC supply of crude oil. OPEC will not reduce supply and it will not increase supply," Khelil told reporters.

Iraq, Shell ink deal on supergiant Majnoon field

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A group led by Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, signed a deal to develop Iraq's Majnoon supergiant oilfield, pledging to spend tens of billions of dollars on the project over the next two decades.

Shell, along with Malaysia's state-run Petronas, won the rights to Majnoon, a major prize near Iraq's southern oil hub of Basra, in an energy auction earlier this month.

Shell plans £3bn sale in Nigeria

Royal Dutch Shell, the oil giant, has launched a shake-up of its controversial operations in Nigeria by offering oilfields valued at up to $5 billion (£3.1 billion) for sale.

The auction comes as Nigeria prepares to impose harsher terms on foreign operators next month and hand greater control to domestic firms.

PetroChina’s Changqing to Boost 2009 Output 24%, Xinhua Says

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co.’s Changqing field will probably increase oil and gas output by 24 percent this year to become the nation’s second-biggest producer, the official Xinhua News Agency said yesterday.

CNOOC, Total, Repsol win Algeria permits

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria's Energy Ministry on Sunday awarded three exploration licenses out of 10 permits on offer, the head of its licensing committee Djilali Takherst said.

Mexico reopens oil exporting ports

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico reopened its Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas oil ports on Saturday following closures toward the end of the week due to bad weather, the government said.

Tax laws chasing companies away

It's easier than ever for corporations to move operations overseas. And if the federal government doesn't realize this soon, more and more companies may follow the example of Dallas-based Ensco International and reincorporate overseas. Ensco's decision, announced last month, subject to approval by the majority of its shareholders, is the latest in a series of moves by energy companies to leave the U.S. and relocate in Europe.

In the age of the Internet, with technology converging around the globe and engineering talent abundant in many nations, multinationals and even smaller companies can readily shift research and development, product-development, manufacturing and overall management out of the United States. Increasingly, executives are finding it tough to justify keeping major parts of their business here — and being incorporated in America is looking more and more like a bad bet.

A shocking thought for sure. A shrinking corporate tax base couldn't be happening at a worse time with the widening U.S. deficit and the difficulty of floating more debt. Recently, our largest creditors, notably China and the OPEC countries, signaled reluctance to add to their U.S. dollar holdings.

Betting Against Shale Natural Gas Plays Using Puts

Controversy continues to grow about the economic viability of shale gas. Investors who doubt the companies' claims should consider buying puts.

90,000 more rural people get access to electricity in Tibet

LHASA (Xinhua) -- Another 90,000 people have bidden farewell to a life without electricity in the rural areas of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region this year, local authorities said Sunday.

The regional government plans to invest 2.5 billion yuan (367.6million U.S. dollars) to help 510,000 rural people gain access to electricity during the 2008-2011 period, said Gao Yingyun, vice general manager of the Tibet Electric Power Co. Ltd..

City task force explores greener alternatives to oil

Oh, the life of a member of the city’s Peak Oil Task Force. There’s so much to think about — everything from hybrid cars to manure.

City commissioners late last year appointed a Lawrence Peak Oil Task Force that is supposed to come up with recommendations on how the community could protect itself against a significant supply disruption or major spike in the price of oil.

Ethanol blend increase delay questioned

A bipartisan coalition of members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, is questioning the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to delay increasing the ethanol blend wall in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

What Scientists Really Think About Global Warming: The answers won't entirely please either side

As with all polls, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask. We found that almost all climate scientists believe that the world has been warming: 97% agree that "global average temperatures have increased" during the past century. But not everyone attributes that rise to human activity. A slight majority (52%) believe this warming was human-induced, 30% see it as the result of natural temperature fluctuations and the rest are unsure.

When it comes to current conditions, however, the consensus in favor of human warming reemerges: 84% believe "human-induced greenhouse warming" is now occurring, compared with only 5% who reject this conclusion. And 74% say the "currently available scientific evidence substantiates" its occurrence, while only 9% disagree. So global warming doubter are a genuinely small minority among American climate scientists; it is difficult to believe that any transgressions against scientific procedures or the scientific ethos uncovered by Climategate are going to change that.

Fraud in Europe's Cap and Trade System a 'Red Flag,' Critics Say

The top cops in Europe say carbon-trading is an organized crime scheme that has robbed the continent of $7.4 billion -- a massive fraud that lawmakers and energy experts say should send a "red flag" to the U.S., which approved cap-and-trade legislation over the summer amid stiff opposition.

Jim Inhofe gets cool reception in Denmark

A reporter asked: “If there’s a hoax, then who’s putting on this hoax, and what’s the motive?”

“It started in the United Nations,” Inhofe said, “and the ones in the United States who really grab ahold of this is the Hollywood elite.”

One reporter asked Inhofe if he was referring to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another reporter — this one from Der Spiegel — told the senator: “You’re ridiculous.”

The day the Earth stood still

IN a faltering step that nearly all concede is too little to avert a climate crisis, the majority of world leaders will adopt the first international agreement that recognises global warming must stay below two degrees to avoid dangerous climate change.

Despite the deep disappointment of many who helped create it, the Copenhagen accord will stand as a first attempt to bring the biggest greenhouse gas polluting nations, the United States and China, into a political deal to curb soaring global emissions.

Copenhagen fails to encourage business

Business has given the thumbs-down to the outcome of the Copenhagen summit, saying political leaders fluffed a chance to get billions of pounds of investment flowing into green technology.

Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, said the climate-change meeting was a “missed opportunity, and a disappointing conclusion to two years of negotiations”.

China's climate stonewall

THERE were 45,000 people at the Copenhagen summit and more than 100 world leaders, but in the end it came down to an extraordinary personal showdown between the leaders of the world's two superpowers and biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries, China and the US.

The deal itself was anything but historic. But the implications of how the Chinese handled this negotiation well might be.

World leaders hammered over climate accord

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – World leaders on Sunday insisted that the climate deal clinched in desperation at the UN summit was the best that can be done as they returned home to a lashing from critics.

Newspapers widely called the summit accord a failure and experts such as the head of a Nobel Peace prize winning climate panel said "urgent" action was now needed.

Top UN scientist urges binding climate pact

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The head of the Nobel-winning UN panel of climate scientists has said the outcome of the Copenhagen summit was a start but urged countries to work quickly towards a legally binding pact.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), described the Copenhagen Accord, passed Saturday after two weeks of frantic talks as "an agreement that will really not be the final word.

Climate scientists underwhelmed by Copenhagen Accord

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Top climate scientists said Saturday that the eleventh-hour political deal hammered out at UN talks in Copenhagen falls perilously short of what is needed to stave off catastrophic global warming.

I hope with all of my heart I am just being incredibly paranoid, doomerish, whatever.
This whole thing about the Iranians taking over the Iraqi oil rig reminds me of the excuse the Nazis used to invade Poland. The Nazi propaganda machine said the Polish attacked a remote German border crossing. The Panzer divisions rolled east shortly after.

For several years now, the US (and the West)have been demonizing and bludgeoning Iran, just as they did Iraq. After all, it's one triad of the "axis of evil". I feared things would tip into war under Bush, but they never did. I believe that may yet happen, and things are getting more, not less dangerous. The only thing that seems to be holding things back is that some elements in the military and intelligence agencies see the possibility of very bad outcomes.

My great fear is that a dominant faction, aware of the rapidly weakening position of the US in the world may decide (or has already decided) that it's therefore better to bring things to a head sooner rather than later. The ONLY remaining advantage the US has is military strength. I am unable to see how an attack on Iran can end in other than disaster. I unable to envision what bringing things to a head even means. That's the ostrich in me.

I read about they're contemplating droning Quetta (850,000) - it's beyond my comprehension. They're building bases in Columbia on the Venezualan border. The US is deeply involved in Yemen. It goes on and on and on.

I like the way the Soviet empire collapsed, not with a bang, but a whimper. I don't like the way the Nazi empire collapsed, the Goetterdaemmerung stuff and all that. But at this point, if were forced to bet, I'd bet we end up listening to some Wagner.

EDIT: I'm sure everyone understands who the ultimate target is here -- not the Iranians (and not the Iraqis before them), but a big and growing rival oil and gas consumer to the east. This would not be a war involving just drones and IEDs.

could you imagine a war with China?
They've proved both there submarine power and ability to take out satellites. they kicked our ass in Korea and some argue Vietnam. I don't worry much though, I don't think the empire will make it out of the Poshtune (sp) region.
the Police had it figured back in the 80's

Vietnam kicked "our" ass in Vietnam. Soon after that, Vietnam kicked China's ass in Vietnam.


Ghung I think it was a staged/faked takeover of a radio station wasn't it? Similarly small no. of people, 10 or so and that kicked off a whole war.

Assuming you fear a major US invasion of Iran, I think you have little to worry about.

  • There is no way the US can occupy Iran. Double the population of Iraq, three times the area. And the logistics are a nightmare. Resupply would have to come through the Strait of Hormuz and the port at Kuwait, both within Iran's striking range.
  • Extremely unlikely that the UN Security Council will authorize air strikes. And at least IMO, unlikely that the US would make unilateral strikes. The Commander-in-Chief just accepted the Nobel Peace Prize; is he willing to overreact to that degree?
  • The obvious Iranian response is to declare the Strait of Hormuz closed to oil traffic, and begin sinking random tankers that attempt to run the blockade. Oil goes to $200/bbl immediately and gasoline to $8/gal in the US. Iran has spent 20 years digging in anti-ship missiles and stockpiling mines. Want to bet on how long it takes the US to dig them out? Want to bet on how quickly Congress can impeach Obama?

Want to bet on how quickly Congress can impeach Obama?

Errr, not likely Mcain. Hell, even Bush got the consent of Congress before he invaded Iraq. So it is highly unlikely that Congress would impeach Obama for doing something they gave him permission to do.

And of course you are assuming he, and they, would be that stupid. No, his name is Obama, not Bush.

Ron P.

Your 3 bullet points would be valid for any rational government. Sadly there is little to suggest that for the last several decades the USA has behaved rationally when it comes to deciding which nations to invade.

I believe that it is almost inevitable (>95%) that the USA (or its proxy, Israel) will launch a major attack on Iran within the next 10 years, and probably within 5 years.

The USA has a very simplistic form of foreign policy: (1) Buy compliance, (2) Invade and attempt to control.

The facts that you clearly highlight in your first bullet point;(that an occupation is impractical or impossible) is meaningless to the sort of minds that control USA policies.

The UN Security Council will be ignored by the USA (as usual), and Obama will do as he is told by his minders. (Bullet point 2)

Bullet 3. Closing the straits of Hormuz will not interfere with the ability of the multinational controllers' ability to make profits from the resultant situation, hence is a non-event.

The only possible case that would prevent the USA/Israel case of an attack on Iran, is if both China and Russia reach comprehensive accords with Iran and make it known that an attack on Iran is an attack on the No 2 and 3 Nuclear armed nations. That might just, perhaps, be enough of a deterrent for the USA to back off.

I, personally, will not be holding my breath.

Link up top Energy scarcity and not peak oil needs global focus contains this jewel:

At the end of the two-day (bidding) process, the Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Ali Shahristani boasted that the Iraqi crude production would reach 13 million barrels a day by 2013.

And another link up top Iraq, Shell ink deal on supergiant Majnoon field states:

A group led by Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, signed a deal to develop Iraq's Majnoon supergiant oilfield, pledging to spend tens of billions of dollars on the project over the next two decades.

The Oil Minister says they will be producing 13 million barrels per day in just four years, an increase of over 10.5 million barrels over what they are currently producing. But shell says that the process will stretch over twenty years.

What is the Oil Minister lying about, the 13.5 mb/d or the four years? Would you believe both? Of course he was just trying to pump up the bids, anyone could have guessed that, but the point is that they, the Arabs, have a predilection for exaggeration and overassertion. They do it all the time, they know they are grossly exaggerating everything and here is the kicker, they expect you to know they are grossly exaggerating everything. But most people don’t. They believe the hyperbole that constantly comes out of Middle Eastern OPEC nations, primarily the Arabic nations.

Much of this predilection for exaggeration and overemphasis is anchored in the Arabic language itself.
- Raphael Patai: The Arab Mind

This tendency for gross exaggeration, some may even call it lying, is normally harmless. But it can become extremely dangerous when the rest of the world really believes it. Another quote from the first, up top, link I listed:

And this could mean at least another 4 million bpd in total global output, which already has a surplus cushion of at least 5 million-6 million bpd.

So the world believes we are awash in oil. Is this a dangerous belief?

Ron P.

Of course he was just trying to pump up the bids, anyone could have guessed that, but the point is that they, the Arabs, have a predilection for exaggeration and overassertion. They do it all the time, they know they are grossly exaggerating everything and here is the kicker, they expect you to know they are grossly exaggerating everything. But most people don’t

Yergin makes exactly this point about Arabian exaggeration in 'The Prize'. Ironic or what?


The arabs grossly exaggerate and the asians always try to save face. I really get tired of these sterotypes. Humans exaggerate whenever they can get away with it and humans regularly try to save face. HOW they do this has cultural differences. So when we get "peace with honor" in the US at the end of Vietnam this is not saving face? When we say "mission accomplished" this is not exaggeration? When we say that economic recovery is starting (mind you a jobless recovery) this is not exaggeration?

Basically the formula is when we do it it it is not "saving face" or exaggeration. When THEY (pick your country,region or race)do it it is.

I really get tired of all you sanctimonious holier than thous who see racism in ever mention of cultural difference.

Ron Patterson

When we say Arabs exaggerate, we imply that we do not. THAT is sanctimonious.

You have it totally wrong Oxi. I said the Arabs have a predilection for exaggeration. And yes that implies that our culture does not have a predilection for exaggeration. And if you cannot understand that then you are beyond understanding anything. Either that or you do not understand what the word predilection means.

The Arabs know they have this tendency, it is cultural. They readily admit it. What baffles them is that we do not understand that they have this predilection and tend to take everything they say literally. They even have their own name for this predilection. It is called mubalagha in Arabic. Learning to think like an Arab Muslim: a Short Guide to Understanding the Arab Mentality

Not only are the listeners moved, but Arabic has an impact on speakers as well. Orators are prone to be carried away in verbal exaggeration when speaking before an audience. This exaggeration is called mubalagha in Arabic, but it is not considered to be a derogatory term by the Arabs.

And if you think that is raciest then you are hopelessly sanctimonious, totally beyond understanding any cultural difference.

Ron P.

Ron -- I can only add a second hand account to back up your point. Back in the realy 90's an expat drilling engineer told me about getting run off of a job in the KSA. They had some sort of a drilling problem and the SIC (Saudi-in-charge) told him the problem would easily be solved by doing X. So this engineer reported out that the problem would be fixed shortly. Turned out the was no solution to the problem and the hole was junked. Then the SIC wrote the engineer up and recommended he be replaced. According to the engineer the SIC actually rebuked him specifically in the report for believing what the SIC had said. In the report the SIC said that if the engineer wasn't capable of correctly interpreting what the SIC said then he had no business working in the KSA.

We had both been drinking for a bit when he told me this story. Maybe true...maybe not. But a good story regardless.

And yes...though somewhat racist the term "SIC bastard" was not uncommon amongst the expats. On a drill rig you find humor where ever you can.

Rockman, when I was in Saudi I heard a lot of such expressions but not all of them were racist, though most was quite humorous. For instance I heard the story over and over again about Saudi women returning from Houston, (Aramoc's usual place of departure from the states.) They would be wearing tight pants, cowboy shirts and boots. Then about half an hour out of Daharan they would go into the restroom and come out a "black lump"? (Their term not mine. I never told that story.) But you are correct; in Saudi you find humor where ever you can.

When I was going through orientation in Houston, for Aramco, one of the speakers was a young Saudi woman. She said; "If you saw me in Saudi Arabia, you would not see me, if you get my drift." We all got her drift.

Ron P.

Alls fair I suppose Ron. I'm sure the Saudi hands had their own unique expressions for some of our more rednecked cousins. And imagine what they might have said about those coonasses.

Ron, you quoted an author that said that Arabs have a predilection for exaggeration. You said

This tendency for gross exaggeration, some may even call it lying, is normally harmless.

I am sorry you missed my point, I apologize for the way I stated my original case and for throwing the sanctimonious label you put on me back at you.

I did not mean to imply you are racist. What I clumsily attempted to get at is that when we see traits in other people, especially of a different culture, we often forget to see if we do something similar. I reacted to this because frankly I find gross exaggeration all around me - from politicians, to advertisers, to the people I deal with daily. I exaggerate sometimes myself. I went to a funeral recently and had to listen to folks talking about how good the corpse looked. We don't call that exaggeration - it never gets named. Coke is the real thing. This car will get 40 MPG or whatever. It was only driven by a sweet old lady who did her grocery shopping and nothing more. I have exaggerated for my bosses by writing budgets for our board that none of us thought was feasible. The board knew it too. Just we don't have a word for it other than lying. I know if I go to a car dealer that I can't trust him to tell me the truth. When I buy a used car I get my mechanic to check it out first. Lots of people do.

I am sure that there are specific ways in which Arab exaggeration is different from American exaggeration and I should have just ignored your post and assumed that that was what you were talking about. But it just seemed so strange, living in a world where I am surrounded by exaggeration, personal, political and corporate, that anyone would think that exaggeration was specific to any group.

I know about culture differences, more from when I lived in the hills of TN as a transplanted Yankee than from my time in Haiti. After getting over the shock of finding a very different culture in my own country, I found that when I stopped thinking I was so different, I discovered I wasn't.

Since I have not lived in an Arab country I should have refrained from posting. But I also know from my own experience that some differences are much smaller than we first think.

Often when I find myself criticizing someone else I suddenly realize that in a different way I may do the same sort of thing - I just don't like to admit it.

I apologize for my sanctimonious post and hope this one expresses my feelings without sounding that way.

It's easy to spot people who never shopped in an Arab "suk" (market). If you don't understand their way of bargaining/ barter you'll pay way too much. They'll lie, cheat and inflate. Once you call them on it, then the real dealing can begin (don't accuse them of anything dishonest, big mistake. Just laugh and call them your friend and let them know you're not stupid). That's when the good stuff comes out and the prices come down. They seem duty-bound to rip you off. If you let them.....it's your bad. Yes, it's a purely cultural thing. Once you strike a good deal with a merchant, he'll remember. Get taken to the cleaners and every merchant on the street will know it.

That sounds just like trading in Haiti, which I have done, or trading at a US flea market. My problem with trading in such venues is not as a buyer but as a seller. I had to have a 12 year old boy tell me I was cutting my price too quickly at a flea market where I was selling chickens. He seemed to have the makings of a good horse trader (ah where did we get that term, could it be from our not so distant past - Noun 1.horse trader - a hard bargainer). When I was in Haiti I found it best to let a young man from Montreal trade for me as he was better than I at getting the prices down. Hmmm could that be because in Montreal in certain quarters they still trade that way. They did when I visited in the late 60's. What you have told me is different about an Arab market doesn't sound any different from these markets.

True most Americans don't trade that way at most stores. But they do in other venues such as flea markets, even though they may not be as good at it.

Of course there is one area of our country's functioning that still does horse-trading of a sort, the US Congress, as evidenced by the health bill just passed and what was given away to get it passed.

Car buying is much like that, though perhaps less-so than in the past for some new cars. For used cars, it's certainly the norm.

Different cultures are absolutely significantly different in how they handle situations and handle conflict. The common views may be stereotypical to a fault, but there is truth underlying based on my observations from working with engineering teams around the world.

The biggest mistake of all, IMHO, is assuming people think alike, or believe, act, negotiate, and argue alike.

I don't deny that their are culture difference, but IMO they apply mainly to how a certain human trait is expressed. When we see that different way of doing things we see it as different without probing deeper. I see humans in the US all the time totally dedicated to saving face. I am sure the Asians exhibit that in different ways. Look at Nixon leaving the White House in shame to avoid being impeached. He flashes a victory sign with his hand. Many times saving face in the US takes the form of lying or denial. We have a saying "don't hang out your dirty laundry in public". What is that about but saving face for your family. Some Americans commit suicide over losing face, even though they don't do it via hairi kari. Yes?

But exaggeration. Can anyone say with a straight face that Americans do not exaggerate???? How big was that fish you caught that got away?

I understand that the Arabs have exaggerated how much oil reserves they have. I also understand that they did that because production was going to be based on reserves once they formed OPEC. Wouldn't the US, Canada, etc do the same????

What I find abhorrent is that when one site traits for a given group other than their own they usually turn on the blinders as far as their own behavior or that of the group they belong to.

But to look at it the other way around, Americans are greedy and power hungry. So are all the rest of the groups of humans in the civilized world. I don't find us to be the worst or the best, just humans in a certain place and time and circumstances expressing usual human traits in the way usual to our culture.

How does knowing how Arabs do business have anything to do with me or how I do things? Reality has nothing to do with passing judgement. It's just the way things are. My neighbor calls anyone who has any criticism of "America" unpatriotic, whether it's true or not.

To Ron P.'s point, I made the case several years ago, and stick to it, that if oil producing nations will not allow outside audit of the type recommended by Matt Simmons for full transperancy, then they should be declared as "unreliable suppliers".

The exact results of the audits would need not be made public, but a star rating or a letter rating (something similiar to what Morningstar uses on mutual funds [stars} or what the ratings agencies such as Moody's and Standard and Poors use on bonds {letters, triple AAA through triple CCC}. This would be done by a trusted auditing firm, and would at least to some extent sheild the exact numbers so no nation could be left completely open to competitors but the purchasing nations would have at least some assurance of future supply if the producing nation was making the claim they could deliver, and by the way borrowing money on prospective future deliveries...

I don't think such a thing will happen in any near future, so I naturally discount claims made by the OPEC producers and instead go more by their actions...so far, they seem to be hysterically afraid of declining demand and dismiss concerns of declining supply out of hand...which tells me they think they have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to future production...but they could be wrong. We all could be.


I naturally discount claims made by the OPEC producers and instead go more by their actions...so far, they seem to be hysterically afraid of declining demand and dismiss concerns of declining supply out of hand...which tells me they think they have an ace up their sleeve when it comes to future production...

Well as far as Saudi Arabia goes, let's look at their actions.

Saudis eye CO2 injection at Ghawar

Saudi Arabia plans to test enhanced oil recovery with CO2 its Ghawar Field in the country’s east.
The project, planned for 2013, involves injecting about 40 million cubic feet of carbon dioxide daily into an area flooded by water in the Arab-D reservoir in the Ghawar field, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al-Saud, the country’s assistant minister for petroleum affairs, said today at a carbon capture and storage conference in London.

Aramco boosts drilling in seismically tough Red Sea

Aramco is seeking reserves in anticipation of global economic growth and increasing demand for oil. The Red Sea is two kilometers deep in places with a 7,000-foot thick salt sequence which can distort seismic images, according to the magazine.

It appears to me that Saudi Arabia is getting frantic. They will be injecting C02 in Ghawar probably because production is dropping like a rock. And if any oil is ever found in two kilometers of water and under 7,000 feet of salt, then that will be some very expensive oil. But if you are desperate...

Ron P.

And as I have pointed out several times, the Saudis--as promised in early 2004--did their best to support the OPEC $22-$28 oil price band, as they boosted their net oil exports in 2004 & 2005. But then they "had trouble finding buyers for all of their oil" in early 2006, even as oil prices continued to increase. It's kind of funny that, insofar as I know, no MSM types ever asked the Saudis why they didn't just offer to sell an extra one mbpd in early 2006 for $28 per barrel.

...This would be done by a trusted auditing firm,...

Man, this one really got my oxymoron detector buzzing.

Arthur Andersen?

Much of this predilection for exaggeration and overemphasis is anchored in the Arabic language itself.
- Raphael Patai: The Arab Mind

This tendency for gross exaggeration, some may even call it lying, is normally harmless. But it can become extremely dangerous when the rest of the world really believes it. ...

If one were to look at the pronouncments of our leaders, one might conclude that outright lying is the only possible result of speaking in English. But it is not normally harmless -- it is quite often disastrous. That undoubtedly is due to the expressiveness of the language.

You are just blowing smoke Dave. There is nothing in inherent in the English language that naturally leads to lying or gross exaggeration. Also, and this is the one very important point that you seem to overlook: You limit this lying predilection only to our leaders. If it is inherent in the language then it must apply to everyone who speaks the language including yourself.

Ron P.

The point got missed, didn't it? I don't think English compels one to lie anymore than Arabic compels one to exaggerate. And nowhere do I confine myself to our leaders.

Oh, now I understand. You think the words "tendency" or "predilection" have the same meaning as "compels". No, they do not. Look them up.

By the way there is a free dictionary on line. It is http://dictionary.reference.com/ It is a lot easier and quicker than the old fashioned kind. I find myself using it several times a day.

Ron P.

I agree, Darwinian. The Spanish, with our centuries long involvement with the Arabs even have a word for it: Fantasía moruna.

I assume your racism comes from speaking Spanish, which gives a predilection towards racism. I will leave it at that as I don't the discussion to deteriorate into a "merienda de negros".

Humans seem to be cognitively biased towards being racist, some of us understand this and try to learn to rise above it. It would probably raise the level of the conversation a bit if we applied a little science and rational thinking to the topic. I realize, that, in and of itself might be considered wishful thinking...

Lawrence A. Hirschfeld, U-M associate professor of anthropology and psychology, tackles all of these questions in a book published this spring by the MIT Press: Race in the Making: Cognition, Culture and the Child's Construction of Human Kinds.

... I've come to the conclusion that it is not merely a bad idea, but a deeply rooted bad idea. Our minds seem to be organized in a way that makes thinking racially---thinking that the human world can be segmented into discrete racial populations---an almost automatic part of our mental repertoire.

Indeed, I suggest that the idea of race emerges out of an evolved adaptation to understand humans as members of social groups. As such it may not be something that we can get rid of all that easily. This interpretation of racial thinking isn't all that far-fetched if you think about the sorts of problems our ancestral populations faced. Gaining accurate knowledge of who belonged to which group, and why, was clearly adaptive for members of a species whose existence is as social as ours. Those individuals equipped with this sort of knowledge were better able to assess accurately who was most likely to pose a threat and who probably did not. If racial thinking is derived in part from this sort of adaptation, it is very much a deep-rooted notion.

MT: Do you maintain, then, that racism is innate or inevitable?

LH: Definitely not. But structures that give humans the capacity to gather and organize certain kinds of knowledge are innate. These structures make it easy to conclude that people have essential, inheritable natures, and these are thought to give rise to other less obvious qualitative differences. Bear in mind that these structures make certain kinds of knowledge possible; they do not in themselves provide us with that knowledge. The cultural environment in which we live is equally important.

FMagyar, there is absolutely nothing racist about cultural differences. If all cultures were alike then there would be no such thing as culture, we could just remove the word from the dictionary.

Every time someone mentions cultural differences on this list, or any other list for that matter, some preachy, sanctimonious, do-gooder plays the race card.

So I see your long quote on racism totally out of place here. Interesting though it is, it has nothing to do with the Arabic cultural predilection to exaggeration. I lived in Saudi Arabia for five years. I, and everyone else who has spent an extendet period of time living among the Arabs, is well aware of this language tendency. There are many other cultural differences as well. However these have nothing to do with oil production or proven reserves so there is no need to mention them here.

Ron P.

So I see your long quote on racism totally out of place here.

I guess you either deliberately do not want to, or are not capable of getting my point.

Tough noogies!

This tendency for gross exaggeration, some may even call it lying, is normally harmless. But it can become extremely dangerous when the rest of the world really believes it.

Yes, indeed.

So the world believes we are awash in oil. Is this a dangerous belief?


Peak production from Burgan in Kuwait, the second largest oilfield in the world, peaked in 1972 at 2.41 MBD. More than thirty years later production was reported at 1.7 MBD in 2005 with a footnote that Burgan's resereves were being exhausted. Production from Burgan may be less than half its peak production of 37 years ago. Burgan produced 28 billion barrels of oil to date.

The largest oil discovery since 1968 may have been Kashagan in the Caspian Sea. The field is estimated to contain 8 billion barrels of recoverable sour crude. Almost a decade later an 8 billion barrel field named Tupi was found in a deepwater subsalt structure off the coast Brazil. Recovery rates for very deep offshore oil fields may be lower than recovery rates for shallow onshore fields.

New technology is facilitating oil production capacity as new oil trends remain underdeveloped.

Receding horizons
November 27, 2006 Kazakstan (not a member) says its Kashigan oil field to peak 25% higher than expected at 1.5 mmbopd by 2010, http://zmann.wordpress.com/2006/11/27/monday-morning-welcome-back-everyb....

Nov 9, 2009 First oil from Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field to be produced in 2012

Euclid Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

November 12, 2009

Kazakhstan: First oil from Kazakhstan s Kashagan oil field to be produced in 2012

First oil from Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field will be produced in 2012, said the Chairman of the Eni Company Paolo Scaroni, after a meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, official website of KazMunaiGaz reported. Scaroni said: "It was a very important meeting for us. The first thing we discussed was the work of the Eni Company on the Kashagan field. The first oil will be produced here in 2012." By the end of 2009, within in the first phase of construction of Kashagan project, over 70 percent of the work will be completed, the managing director of North Caspian Operating Company BV (NCOC) Pierre Offan declared in September. Since 2008, NCOC has been serving as the operator of the North-Caspian project. The participants of the international consortium developing Kashagan are KazMunayGaz, Eni, ExxonMobil, Shell, TOTAL, ConocoPhillips, INPEX. Kashagan field's reserves are estimated at 35 billion barrels (more than 4.5 billion tons). Part of oil to be produced on this field will be transported through the territory of Azerbaijan.

I've spoken of the GE heat pump water heater on a number of occasions and the good news is that you can now buy one...

See: http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater/

The bad news is that it retails for $1,700.00, so for the economics to work, you'll need to use a lot of DHW and/or live in an area where electricity costs are relatively high.

As a two person household, our DHW consumption is quite modest -- between 4.0 and 4.5 kWh/day -- which puts our potential savings at about $120.00 a year. However, a HPWH would allow us to ditch our dehumidifier since de-humidification is one of the side benefits and this would likely double our savings. We still couldn't justify something like this in simple economic terms, but it would allow us to continue to chip away at our overall consumption. I'll take a long hard look at this when it reaches the Canadian market but, for now, I'm keenly interested.


Paul, have your power outages ended? I was surprised that you had one yesterday, you seem to be in between storms.
I wondered if they made heat pump water heaters. Like you we don't use enough hot water to make it pay -likewise for space heating. Our big energy user is the electirc dryer. I ordered a spin dryer, but I've heard bad things about the distributor, so I'm not holding my breath waiting. I suspect clothes drying probably represents some of the largest domestic low hanging fruit -assuming a good energy saving solution (other than outdoor lines, which few will bother with) exists. Possibly spin drying might be one such solution. Another might be a heatpump based clothes dryer?

Hi EoS,

I was shocked as well, given that it was a perfectly calm sunny day (I should know more tomorrow morning after I chat with the boys at NSP). It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this: http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/warnings/report_e.html?ns1

We have a large capacity front loader and we generally do two loads a week, with an occasional third load throw in for good measure. Our tumble dryer is propane and the typical drying time is 45 to 60 minutes. If we knock off the last five or ten minutes for the cool-down cycle and assuming the burner cycles on and off roughly 50 per cent of the time (if you listen closely, you can hear it kick on and off), we use about 1/3rd of a litre of propane per load. I'm reasonably confident we use no more than a litre a week for laundry, given that our total consumption last year, including the outdoor BBQ and gas cook top was 75 litres.

Depending upon the age and model, an electric tumble dryer would use anywhere from 900 to 1,200 kWh/year, this according to NRCAN.

See: http://oee.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/publications/infosource/pub/appliances/2009...

Don't quote me, but I think that figure is based on an average of eight loads a week, and if that's the case, then an typical load would be in the range of 2.5 kWh.

Before I transfer the clothes to the dryer, I run them through a second final, high speed spin; our washer has manual controls, so when it comes to a full stop, I simply push in the dial, crank it around to the appropriate spot and pull it back out. You'd be surprised at how much additional water comes out of the hose.


So do you think the additional manual spin cycle helps? Ours ends in a spin cycle, but perhaps a secondary spin would save on drying time. I think we must have people throwing their clothes into the dirty pile too often, usually after a single use, and with the college kid home for Christmas break, that will increase the loads considerably.

Cycled around the neighborhood this morning on a PV survey ride. It was too cold & grey for serious cycling, anything over 10-12mph generates too much wind chill. Found four other houses with PV arrays. There might be a couple a missed, I woulda missed mine, as it is pretty stealth only visable from a few spots, so we have maybe 1% of homes with some sort of system. All the ones I saw have much larger systems than mine, so I would classify them as belonging to the guilt-free hot-tubbing crowd. But at least it seems to be a start.

Hi EoS,

I think so. If you're curious, you might try running your clothes through a second high speed extraction but placing the drain hose in a bucket so that you can measure the amount of water that comes out.

Cycling? PVs? Go ahead and make me cry... this is what I'm looking at through my den window as we speak (the winds are picking up and the snow is starting to fall):


As an old X-country skier, whose hanging on to those old planks hoping to some day move back to snow country, it looks lovely to me. Here I am dealing the the effects of an unusual cold snap on my decorative succulents and cactuses. We got two mornings at 30F. For cold air to get here it has to thread a pretty narrow path along the west coast -if if goes either a little two far east it will get moderated by going over the mountains, a
little too far west and the oceans will do the trick. This one managed to get it just right. I've been cutting off dead leaves and stems, I suspect I'll be seeing more effects of the damage as time goes by. Next time in addition to putting foil coverings over them I think I'll add a couple of 40watt bulbs. Hopefully thats only going to be needed about one night every five years or so.

Dear Paul

Get a laundry rack or two for indoors in winter. They're cheap and cost no electricity or propane to run. Canadian Tire sells various models of sturdiness. The cheapest last fine if treated well (no gonzo kittens using them as monkey bars). You have sedate Collies. Had to upgrade to the sturdiest ($50 make) due to kitten. Save the drier for emergencies. Clothes line when above zero. Put it high, stretching works wonders on computer back.

Hi PB,

Good advice. Our situation is a little unusual. As mentioned above, we used a total of 75 litres/20 gallons of propane last year to operate our dryer, BBQ and cook top. In a perverse twist, if our consumption falls below the minimum threshold, our tank rental fees double; I'm pretty sure we're below the mark so it will be interesting to see what happens when our tank renewal comes up in July.

This is not to justify our use of the dryer, but it does highlight one of the unintended consequences (our fuel oil provider has likewise threatened to close our account because we use so little oil).


Cycling? PVs? Go ahead and make me cry... this is what I'm looking at through my den window as we speak (the winds are picking up and the snow is starting to fall):

This is what I had to put up with on Thursday and Friday.


Note: I'm in the Sunshine State, this is the dry season and we are under water use restriction orders because of drought like conditions overall.

Ironically many of my neighbors are against using rain catchment barrels...

When the heating element in my dryer died I had to learn how to line dry my clothes. Shaking, sorting and hanging adds on about 15 minutes to the laundry process, but I let myself credit the work into the "gentle exercise" category. If I hang the clothes well there is no added ironing.

I believe my electricity bill went down by about 25%.

I'm glad I learned how to hang dry clothes, but it hurt my pride when my friend's husband told me...people say that gringos are stupid, but it's not true, you northamericanos just don't know how stuff here functions. Unfortunately it was true, I did experience a learning curve for something as simple as line drying clothes.

Next year I hope to spruce up the apartment with a classier clothes drying rack (anything is classier than a rope strung across the room and hooked into the hammock hooks) and a clean-but used clothes rack (looks like a coat tree or a luggage stand).

My mom hung the clothes most of the time I was growing up, when it was possible. (Sometimes we lived in apartments where you had to use an electric dryer.) She actually prefers clothes that have been dried on the line. I find my clothes last longer if I keep them out of the sun, but I do hang dry clothing inside sometimes. I like this style of rack. You don't need to balance the load like you do with the round kind. You can dry things flat on top (sweaters, etc.) And it fits inside the tub, in case you're drying something that drips. My mom's racks were usually wood, but they don't make them like they used to. I've found wooden racks these days tend to be flimsy, and splinters, etc., can catch on your clothes. Some metal racks are bad, too, leaving rust stains on the clothes, but good ones are very sturdy, gentle on the clothes, and last a long time.

We have a couple of wood racks in the bathroom, but during the winter season, we are only heating to about 62F, and typical dewpoint around here is near 50 summer or winter, so whatever is put on the rack takes a couple of days to dry. Outdoors during the winter here is pretty hopeless, fogy and dewy or rainy most of the time. So at least in our location we get maybe 7-8 months of super drying weather and 2-3 of impossible.

Things dry pretty fast in my bathroom, even in winter. Especially in winter. Summer can be very humid, but the central heating makes it really dry in winter, even with the thermostat set really low.

Every Korean household has clothes drying racks. Very few driers, though more than in the past. Butterflyish contraptions. Hold a lot of clothes, but can take up a lot of space, though highly adjustable.


The article on Chinese stonewalling in Copenhagen is frustrating. They are only in it for their own interests. Not for the other 3rd world countries or aynone else. They just want to string it along as long as possible so they don't have to do anything to slow down burning all the coal and whatever they can to max out growth. And their tactics are like Japanese non-tariff trade barriers in the 80s, arbitrary B.S. to avoid legal purpose for the whole process. Basically the whole attitude is that they are not engaging. I heard of the idea to put tariffs on goods according to how much CO2 to produce them. Give all goods from all countries a CO2 cerificate and then see how Chinese goods double or triple in price when they have to pay huge customs duties at borders. Walmart in US and big European store chains will look elsewhere for goods or produce at home. The Chinese are extremely energy inefficient in their factories. Hit the Chinese where it hurts. If they won't reduce energy use and sabotage the process then we have to go at it more directly.

Yes, if only they didn't have so much of our money.

BTW, China never really consider themselfs part of the 3rd world (which BTW, is an offensive word for developing countries). For eg. they were never part of the NAM and not a part of G77.

Does the US ever consider that it is part of the 2nd world. Used to be called the "New World" by the "discoverers" from the 1st world, ie European nations.

Funny how we now only have 1st world and 3rd world in the numerical terminology.

The "Second World" was the old USSR/East European bloc.

Antoinetta III

Funny how we now only have 1st world and 3rd world in the numerical terminology.

That's because the 2nd World fell in a screaming heap in 1991, when the lying thugs who ran the USSR decided that buccaneer capitalism suited them better than pretending to be communists did - and they calculated that they could get away with it.

The term "3rd World" was invented by people from that part of the globe to distinguish between poor underdeveloped countries, Stalinist States with command economies and aligned with Moscow, and advanced States with private capitalist economies and aligned with the United States. It was a political concept designed to position them to bargain with the 1st & 2nd Worlds and play them off against each other. The "2nd World" wasn't often mentioned as such, except in texts setting out the rationale for the strategy.

Utility Bill is One More Casualty of Recession
Hard economic times, unemployment are steadily pounding down the standard of living for the slipping middle class in the U.S. Programs to subsidize utility bills are going broke at both state and federal levels.

Why doesn't this article mention the necessity for deep energy retrofits? or even minor energy conservation measures? This could have been addressed decades ago. Maybe about the time Jimmy Carter donned the cardigan sweater and suggested we start using less energy.

For the Cardente family, the shutoff of their electricity and gas in September was a wrenching marker in a two-year downslide.
The Cardentes arranged to get on a payment plan for back utility bills, but they defaulted.

A run of mishaps, including illness and the husband’s workplace injury, extensive structural damage from a burst water bed and the mother’s layoff from a nursing job, had already upended their middle-class lives. Then the pile of utility bills emerged as a headache to rival the past-due mortgage.

“You always try to pay your mortgage or rent to keep a roof over your head,” said Debra Cardente, the mother. “Then you ask, do you pay your electric or gas bill, pay your telephone or put food on the table?”

The recession has accentuated what was already a growing home-energy challenge for low-income and many middle-class households across the nation. Rising numbers have had their utilities shut off, causing desperate scrambles to pay arrears and penalties to get them restored.

Dick Lawrence

We have neighbors who, without going into details, are looking at an imminent cascade failure that will put them into the 1830s instantly. And we've not been able to convince them to prepare! Get used to cooking and heating with wood, take the clothes to the Laundromat once a week, get used to pumping gravity-fed water up into a tank for solar-heated showers, etc.

The Electrical Age is passing ...

Eurostar train services canceled indefinitely

Eurostar commercial director Nick Mercer said three test trains sent through the Channel Tunnel on Sunday ran successfully, but that it became clear that the especially bad weather meant that snow was being sucked into the trains in a way "that has never happened before."

"The engineers on board have recommended strongly that, in light of further snowfalls that are happening tonight, we make some modifications to the trains on snow shields to stop snow being ingested into the power car," he told the BBC.

I would like to know more about these "technical problems".

So the power cars are loading up with snow, then in the warm tunnel, the snow begins melting and the trains are stuck in the tunnel for 15 hours.

How is this possible? Are large chunks falling off and doing damage?

What I find totally amazing is why this has never happened before, we have had snow and cold weather before - it's a bit cold in southern Germany though, -33C, (-27F).


From: Sarkozy demands Eurostar restart Tuesday

[Eurostar head of operations Nicolas]Petrovic gave a long, technical explanation of what went wrong on Friday, saying the very dry snow got past the train's snow-screens and into the locomotives, where it turned into condensation and caused the trains' electrical circuits to fail.

Seems it was literally "the wrong kind of snow..." ;)

"It's the first time we have these snow conditions in 15 years," he said, adding that normally snow on in the Calais region tends to be wet and heavy.

But hey, as long as the bar car is stocked, I would rather be stuck in a train than any other vehicle.

Jeffrey, Want to thank you for helping to get my wife and I on D supplements. The continuous outpouring of supportive studies is compelling. I live in Hawaii and we were both still deficient. Probably the age thing. Saw another recent study that showed that higher doses of niacin can reduce cholesterol more effectively than statin drugs. Fortunately not an issue for me but it is for a number of my friends.

You're welcome. As several people have noted, there is no organized drug industry/medical effort pushing Vitamin D (unlike the statin industry), because there is no money in Vitamin D. The linked editorial has some very interesting numbers.

Incidentally, normal cholesterol levels may be misleading. If memory serves, about half of the people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. One of the things that the statin industry doesn't discuss much is that there are two types of LDL particles, the small (bad) type and the large (good) type. The test to differentiate the two is quite expensive, although I think that a new, less expensive, test is being evaluated. In any case, an indirect indicator of LDL particle size is the Triglycerides to HDL ratio. One paper indicated that a ratio of 3.5 represented the dividing line between predominately "good" LDL particles and predominantly "bad" LDL particles (the higher the number, the more "bad" LDL particles you have). Ideally, you should be at 2.0 or less.

Of course, this also means that you can have a high total LDL number, which may consist predominantly of the "good" LDL particle size.

Better Know Your Triglyceride/HDL Ratio if You Want to Prevent a Heart Attack

A Harvard-lead study author reported:

"High triglycerides alone increased the risk of heart attack nearly three-fold.

And people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL -- the "good" cholesterol -- had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL in the study of 340 heart attack patients and 340 of their healthy, same age counterparts.

The ratio of triglycerides to HDL was the strongest predictor of a heart attack, even more accurate than the LDL/HDL ratio (Circulation 1997;96:2520-2525)."

Some very interesting essays:

Very Low LDL & Cancer

Statins & Alzheimer’s

WT you seem to recommend Stephanie's advice.

Also you appear to be recommending Vitamin D supplements.
Yet she is NOT doing so, as per this I found on her website:

"A series of thoughtful and provocative articles by Marshall et al. [2],[15],[20] have urgently argued that the current trend towards recommending vitamin D supplements to just about everybody is misguided and potentially very dangerous (Oral Vitamin D Dangerous) . Like much of what is wrong with modern medical practice, the arguments in favor of vitamin D supplements are deceptively simple and appealing. It is becoming increasingly evident that vitamin D plays a critical role in protecting from cancer and infection, in addition to its critical role in calcium metabolism and bone development. There has been a growing awareness that our nation faces a vitamin D deficiency epidemic. Instead of simply recommending that people spend more time out in the sun, the solution that is recommended is to give everybody a life-time "prescription" of oral vitamin D supplements."


So it seems to me she does not endorse D supplements, so why do YOU?

I am puzzled. Did I miss something? I would like to get the truth on this before I go tomorrow and purchase some Vitamin D supplements. Or is it a different type of D? Why does she not state that if so?


I think that Ms. Seneff, a medical researcher, has a very interesting point of view regarding diet, statins, etc.

However, regarding Vitamin D, I think that Dr. Cannell, who runs the Vitamin D Council website, has done the most comprehensive work (a couple of excerpts from Dr. Cannell's website are shown below).

In any case, note that Ms. Seneff, like Dr. Cannell, believes that Americans are massively deficient in Vitamin D levels. The critical question is what is the maximum safe Upper Limit (UL) for Vitamin D3 supplementation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) current UL is 2,000 IU per day, but this is under review.

One problem with relying on sunlight is that we lose the majority of our ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight over the age of 40. In my own case (wrong side of 40), my 25(OH)D level was 37 ng/mL (above minimum, but sub-optimum), this past summer, after taking 2,500 IU per day. I am now taking 5,000 IU per day, with another blood test scheduled early next year.

In regard to the exact D3 dosage that is appropriate for you, you will have to make your own decision. I would normally say in consultation with a doc, but that depends on the level of awareness of Vitamin D that your doc has. My doctor, the last time I talked to her, was taking 100,000 units of Vitamin D per week (prescription dosages) trying to get her 25(OH)D level above the minimum.

Dr. Cannell:


There are 3 ways for adults to insure adequate levels of vitamin D:

(1) regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible (being careful to never burn).

(2) regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.

(3) take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

Vitamin D Toxicity

In 1999, Vieth indirectly asked the medical community to produce any evidence 10,000 units of vitamin D a day was toxic, saying "Throughout my preparation of this review, I was amazed at the lack of evidence supporting statements about the toxicity of moderate doses of vitamin D." He added: "If there is published evidence of toxicity in adults from an intake of 250 ug (10,000 IU) per day, and that is verified by the 25(OH)D concentration, I have yet to find it."

Thanks WT,

You have helped me to better understand this issue. Today I am going to purchase some of the D3 type of this vitamin.

I have had many blood tests over the last 2 years but not a word about my D levels have I heard.
I did have a blood issue and they drained my blood for 7 weeks and threw it away. Said it had far far
too much iron. Polycythemia (sp?)they said, which later turned out to be something else.

I try to use natural herbal remedies but hard to find those in the winter. Goldenseal,ginseng,etc.


Mushrooms grown with sunlight exposure have a good bit of the D2 type. Dried morels or wild field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris) look to be good candidates for an herbal source of vitamin D.

The past recent time I see a lot of posts here on vitamin D. It could be that 25-OH vitamin D levels must be higher for optimal health than most consider, but IMO more important is the imbalance that exists nowadays in most 'diets' between the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.

Throughout human history mankind has ingested an approximate equal proportion (1/1 ratio) of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids. The Omega 6 and 3 are two of the forty-nine know essential nutrients. As essential nutrients they cannot be synthesized by the body, but must be ingested directly in foods or in the form of dietary supplements. The relationship of equivalence between the two Omegas is critical because they self – check each other in a delicate balance to regulate thousands of metabolic functions through prostaglandin pathways. Nearly every biologic function is somehow interconnected with the delicate balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3. Omega 3’s are intimately involved in the control of inflammation, cardiovascular health, myelin sheath development, allergic reactivity, immune response, hormone modulation, IQ, and behavior. A seemingly minor, yet major change in Omega balance dictated by dietary ingestion has absolute deleterious health effects. The rapid change in dietary fat ingestion within only the last 50 - 100 years has bewildered human biophysiology created to function optimally on equal proportions of dietary omegas.

Diets that provide Omega 6 oils at the expense of omega 3 stimulate pro-inflammatory pathways in the body. While Omega 3’s on the other hand stimulates anti-inflammatory pathways. As a result Omega 6 has been coined as “bad” and Omega 3’s as “good”. In fact both are essential for human health and its balance of the two in relation to each other that is important. Dominant Omega 6 in the body can create a situation that promotes chronic inflammation, propagation of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and auto immunity. The body’s inflammatory response is intimately regulated by Omega 3’s. The inflammatory response was created to respond to acute injury or microbial attack. However, if the inflammatory response is needlessly provoked, damage to tissue and organs of the body occurs. The reduction of Omega 3 in the diet of the industrialized nations has created a situation of chronic inflammation in these people. In this case, the symptom of inflammation precedes the disease. However, as inflammation leads to disease a vicious circle of inflammation of disease is formed.

The problem is that the synthesis of anti-inflammatory substances in the body from omega-3 uses the same enzyme that is used to convert omega-6 in other components. It is possible however to get these substances (ALA in particular) also directly from food, such as green vegetables, certain oils and walnuts.

A deficiency of Omega 3 is positively correlated with over 50 diseases and illnesses including the dreaded diseases of Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Stroke, and Arthritis. The so-called western degenerative diseases have risen in a near perfect linear fashion with the elimination of Omega 3, and the over-provision of Omega 6 in the food chain. In many regards saturated fats may have been ruled guilty by association as the genesis of cardiovascular disease appears to be more closely related to a rise in vegetable oil ingestation than it does to saturated fat. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that supplemental ingestion of Omega 3 greatly improves all of the 50 known Omega 3 deficiency conditions.

In a landmark study, Japanese researchers have discovered the leadings cause of westernized degenerative diseases in Japan, if not in the world. Their work has gone far to confirm the landslide of emerging scientific research which is beginning to reveal that the genesis of degenerative diseases is owed to a drastic reduction in the ingestion of Omega 3 in relation to increased ingestion of Omega 6. Their findings came after an exhaustive review of over 500 peer-reviewed studies and after accounting for all known and suspected causes for degenerative illnesses. Perhaps having the most impact are the words of the Japanese researchers themselves excreted from the study summary:

"We summarize the evidence that increased dietary linoleic acid (LA: Omega 6) and relative Omega 3 deficiencies are major risk factors for western type cancers cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and also for allergic hyper-reactivity. We also raise the possibility that a relative Omega 3 deficiency may be affecting the behavioral patterns of a proportion of the young generation in the industrialized countries." It is proposed that dietary intervention with Omega 3 supplementation and the reduction of Omega 6 in the diet could successfully reverse rising trend toward westernized degenerative diseases in Japan, and the world. The dietary transition to a westernized diet in Japan occurring in the last fifty years and the subsequent rise in degenerative disease is merely a microcosm of the transition, which occurred in the United States beginning with the Industrial Revolution.

No argument from me regarding Omega 3's. One of the benefits is that it drops the levels of triglycerides. Around 1999, prior to taking Omega 3's, my Triglycerides to HDL ratio was around 7.5. Most recent ratio is below 2.0. I am currently taking 2.4 net grams of EPA + DHA per day.

Well... okay. There still remains one fact: conventional medicine, including your evil "statin inducstry" managed to bring down the death rate of cardiovascular disease significantly in the last 30 years. Aspirin, statins, beta-blockers ... the stuff works in double-blind clinical trials and in the real world. In the 200 years before, alternative medicine, like homeopathy, herbal supplements and the like, were not able to do that.

No such luck with the cancer mortality, unfortunately. Cancer death rates have increased for all those years except the last one or two (everything adjusted for demographics such as increasing age of the population etc.). Apparently, cancer is to biology as fusion is to physics and batteries are to physical chemistry: problems that appeared to be solvable 50 years ago but never made a life-changing progress.

I'd like to see some data on the rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer 200 years ago (well, that's not really far enough in the past) - mainly because I believe they are mostly results of our modern chemical diets and exposure to the nasty substances in our modern industrial world.

I don't think so. Even the ancient Egyptians suffered from them.

There seems to be a big difference when the shift was made from roots, leaves, seasonal fruits and nuts, and small amounts of meat to a grain and larger amounts of meat diet. The former diet probably was a net alkaline renal load, the latter is definitely acid. The Yanomami may be a good example of consumers of a primitive diet in modern times. H erectus didn't seem to be bothered with arthritis like the nearly exclusively meat eating H neanderthalis was, of course neither probably had significant amount of grains in their diet.

I don't think it's meat. There are "primitive" societies that eat a lot of meat, and they were perfectly healthy on it. (The Inuit, the Masai.)

More and more, it's looking like the problem is carbs, especially refined carbs. The Egyptians ate a lot of sugar. They loved sweets, as evidence by their problems with tooth decay.

But they're not really all that healthy. Some of their health indicators are good, but they have short life spans and good bit of arthritis and atherosclerosis. They are active and die young enough that coronary disease is rarely a cause of death but they still have it. Compare and contrast to the long life spans of Okinawans that eat lots of veggies.

But they're not really all that healthy. Some of their health indicators are good, but they have short life spans and good bit of arthritis and atherosclerosis.

They do now, because their traditional diet has changed, and they're eating a lot more like farmers and a lot less like the foragers/pastoralists they used to be.

Modern foraging peoples eat mostly meat, and it's like it was the same for our paleolithic ancestors. It was agriculture - cultivating grains - that led to a drop in our meat consumption.

Now, if you want to argue that the problem is fatty meat, that might be possible. Wild animals have about 3% fat, while our farmed animals have more like 30%. But I think the evidence is pretty strong that we evolved to eat meat. Indeed, it made us what we are.

Haven't heart failure rates been going up? Since statins contribute to muscle weakness, and since the heart is a muscle. . . one wonders if statins are contributing to rising rates of heart failure. Also, there is some question as to whether the primary benefit of statins is as an anti-inflammatory.

And of course, as noted above, very low LDL levels, frequently brought about by the use of statins, are associated with higher rates of cancer.

Wonder Drugs That Can Kill

Excerpt from Page Four:

In Golomb’s opinion, the potential benefits of statins may not outweigh their risks except among middle-aged men who have heart disease—or who are at high risk for it. The only way to weigh risks against benefits, she says, is to evaluate all-cause morbidity (sickness) and all-cause mortality (death). . . Golomb says one reason many doctors overlook risks and believe statins to be safe is that most controlled studies of statins wind up excluding people who originally begin to participate in a study but stop taking the drug because they experience problems from it; these test participants are then dropped from the study as “noncompliant.” Confusion arises, Golomb says, “because the absence of evidence that statins cause harm—having excluded those who would have permitted detection of harm—is interpreted wrongly as evidence of absence of harm. And the treatment is generalized to a larger population with a very different risk-to-benefit profile.”

John Abramson, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of Overdo$ed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, says he grew concerned when he learned that the authors of professional guidelines recommending an expanded use of statins had ties to the drugs’ manufacturers. So, Abramson, a tall, dark-haired man with owlish glasses, decided to review the study data. What he found stunned him. . . Despite broad recommendations in the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, Abramson found that there were no studies that showed statins were beneficial for primary prevention for women of any age or men over 65. Yet more than three-quarters of people taking statins take them for primary prevention—meaning that many patients stand to gain no benefit at all. Abramson, who with a colleague published his findings in the British medical journal The Lancet, says that even when statins are used for men at the highest risk, “you have to treat about 238 men for one year to prevent one heart attack.”

Another problem with statin studies, according to Abramson, is that many do not measure clinically and critically important outcomes like heart attacks, serious adverse events, or all-cause mortality. Instead they measure surrogate markers—outcomes that are associated with a risk of disease—but not a bad outcome itself. In the case of statins, the surrogate marker most commonly used is cholesterol levels. If a drug reduces cholesterol, it is said to be “effective.” But lowering cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean a drug will reduce the bad outcomes people are worried about—such as death or heart attack. . . “You can lower cholesterol levels with a drug, yet provide no health benefits whatsoever,” Abramson says. “And dying with a corrected cholesterol level is not a successful outcome in my book.” Suddenly Abramson, who had taken many hits for his critiques of cholesterol-lowering drugs, was joined by physicians calling for more openness in research and more careful examination of the evidence before drugs are put on the market.

Aspirin, statins, beta-blockers ... the stuff works in double-blind clinical trials and in the real world.

what if you are unlucky enough to be the 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10000 who suffers serious medical consequences, possibly death, from taking the latest and greatest block buster pill ?

and another question about your warm and cozy inducing double blind test. how are long term effects measured ?

what if you are unlucky enough to be the 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10000 who suffers serious medical consequences, possibly death, from taking the latest and greatest block buster pill ?

elwoodelmore (and WT), then you are unlucky indeed. Every medicine has the possibility of serious side-effects. Normally 'only' 1 in 10.000 or less will get it. When after registration it turns out that it happens more often, the medicine will be drawn from the market (as happened with Vioxx in 2004). To avoid serious complications ever to show up (in normal use), no medicine could be registrated, or maybe only paracetamol (acetaminophen).

Regarding statines, it is known that they have myotoxicity for skeletal muscle, which is a different type of muscle than the involuntary heart muscle.

Long term effects are measured following groups of patiens 10 or more years. With this kind of studies it is f.i. found out that atenolol, however effectively lowering blood pressure in hypertensives, does not lower mortality. This with atenolol as a monotherapy; in combination with other antihypertensive medicines this disadvantage doesn't exist. If one is lowering bloodpressure with atenolol only, it is better to change it to f.i. metoprolol.

From the Discover article:

Confusion arises, Golomb says, “because the absence of evidence that statins cause harm—having excluded those who would have permitted detection of harm—is interpreted wrongly as evidence of absence of harm. And the treatment is generalized to a larger population with a very different risk-to-benefit profile.”

From the NYT:

Great drug, but does it prolong life?

Statins are among the most prescribed drugs in the world, and there is no doubt that they work as advertised — that they lower not only cholesterol but also the risk for heart attack. But in the fallout from the headline-making trial of Vytorin, a combination drug that was found to be no more effective than a simple statin in reducing arterial plaque, many people are asking a more fundamental question about statins in general: Do they prolong your life? And for many users, the surprising answer appears to be no.

Some patients do receive significant benefits from statins, like Lipitor (from Pfizer), Crestor (AstraZeneca) and Pravachol (Bristol-Myers Squibb). In studies of middle-aged men with cardiovascular disease, statin users were less likely to die than those who were given a placebo. But many statin users don't have established heart disease; they simply have high cholesterol. For healthy men, for women with or without heart disease and for people over 70, there is little evidence, if any, that taking a statin will make a meaningful difference in how long they live.

My last uncle died this year. He showed me his arm muscles a year before that. There were NO muscles. He had just flab and loose skin where muscles were supposed to be.

He had been on some kind of drug that apparently caused this,he thought. That and vegetating before a TV most of his latter years instead of trying to be active.

At the end he refused medical treatment and died at home on his farm down the road a piece from me. He couldn't walk, he would stumble around the place. He was not that old. Two days before he died he walked with me to his barn.

They told me that after I left he tried to close the barn door and fell and couldn't get up. A few days later he was dead. Something inside him broke and he just decided to 'take the ride'.


Rod Dreher (one of the very small number of Peak Oil aware journalists I know who is willing to write about Peak Oil) is leaving the Dallas Morning News, and taking a new job out of town. His last column for the Morning News, a homage to his small East Dallas cottage:

Rod Dreher: What these old walls have seen

Thank goodness we ignored common advice to "buy the most house you can get for your money." Everybody wants their house to be homey, but that's hard to get with a big house. What we gave up in size, we more than made up for in character. There's a reason why people with much larger and more modern houses than ours love gathering in our cottage. . .

Our little house also taught us through the experience of living within its intimate embrace that quality is not the same as quantity, and that a rich life can be cobbled together from pocket-sized moments of everyday grace. I might have missed that portrait of the good life had it not been framed by this funky bungalow in a forgotten corner of the city.

Paradise is a fireplace glowing cherry-red in winter and a rocking chair and a dog sleeping on your lap. Heaven is putting in a spring backyard garden and shooing the hens out of the greens patch. Small is beautiful, and beautiful is good. These lessons and memories we'll take with us as we search for our next home. Happily, they'll remain inside this hobbity Old East Dallas house, ready to be shared with the next wayfarers to take shelter in her arms.

Pipeline sabotage halts oil exports from northern Iraq

BAGHDAD - Oil exports from northern Iraq have been halted by a sabotage attack on the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said on Sunday.
“A 55 kilometre (34 mile) section of the pipeline was damaged in the attack, causing a large oil spillage. Exports have stopped and technicians from the northern oil company (NOC) have gone to the site to survey the damage,” Jihad told AFP.

Iraq keeps being exhaulted as the savior to peak oil. The not yet fully tapped major reserves with which we can now release a sigh of relief, for their impending extraction.

However, the above article signifies that Iraq is still a country with political problems. Disagreements between the Shiite's, Sunni's and Kurdish people will go on an infinitum into perpetuity, over which sect really owns the land and the oil. As long as disputes are in question, sabotage of oil pipelines will occur. If so, then is Iraq really going to turn out to be the savior of peak oil? Will the braggadosia of 10 mbd come to fruition, or whither in the reflection of the hot Iraqi Sun on pooling oil?

For those of you up late Sunday night that would like to take in some peak oil youtube videos, Chris Martenson put these together. These five videos (17a, 17b, 17c, 18 & 19) are particularly informative, doing a good job of tying together energy, the economy and the environment.






The second link does not work. Try this one instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeBtdwPpTQM&NR=1

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