Drumbeat: December 29, 2009

Aging suburbs lose appetite for driving

The generation that gave birth to suburbia and the two-car garage is reaching the age where for many driving no longer seems like such a swell option. As Americans grow older -- one in five will be over the age of 65 by 2030 -- many are finding that the world that lured them away from city life is losing some of its appeal.

"The concern is that when they no longer can drive they will find themselves trapped in their homes in suburban neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks or, if there are sidewalks, there's no place to walk to," said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Trapped, indeed, said Schaaf, who recalled the frustration of a 90-year-old friend when she was forced to give up driving.

"Most people go through a period of being unhappy about it," Schaaf said. "She didn't like having to do all that scheduling of the taxis and other pickup services."

New Zealand: Another threat to electricity network

Power companies' intentions to build new power stations have collapsed over the past year, with potential for electricity shortages re-emerging from 2013 onwards unless more new projects are committed in the next 12 months, says the Electricity Commission.

In the meantime, a variety of factors are significantly raising the risks to electricity system security for the winters of 2010, 2011 and 2012, although the commission does not believe the risk is enough to procure emergency reserve energy over the next three years.

Putin criticises Ukraine oil tariff demands

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, accused Ukraine of “abuse” even as Moscow and Kiev resolved an oil transit dispute on Tuesday, averting a potential disruption in supplies.

Michael J. Economides: The Botched Airline Bombing and Our National Nervous Breakdown

Other than the healthcare issue, in my area of interest, energy, there have been two very important events recently that both warrant major national attention, potentially worth trillions.

The first was the recent bid for Iraqi oil fields in which, the Iraqi government, showing a marked independence from the expectations of the conspiracy and the war-for-oil theorists, shut out American oil companies. The Iraqi oilfields, languishing for years, first because of the draconian sanctions during the Saddam Hussein years and the ravages of war since then, are perhaps the most potentially prolific in the world. Over the next decade, Iraqi oil production is expected to top 11 million barrels per day, quadrupling the current production of 2.5 million barrels per day and vying to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer. In the process it will make a mockery of the constantly re-surfacing Peak Oil talk.

The second was the meeting in Copenhagen, which although it fell far short of the promises made by its promoters, it has legitimized what many thought was very sketchy science, the man-made link to climate change. The toothpaste is out of the tube and future legislation, any legislation, on cap-and-trade will have huge and lasting negative economic impact both in size and on the lifestyle as we know it.

Can farming save Detroit?

Then one day about a year and a half ago, Hantz had a revelation. "We need scarcity," he thought to himself as he drove past block after unoccupied block. "We can't create opportunities, but we can create scarcity." And that, he says one afternoon in his living room between puffs on an expensive cigar, "is how I got onto this idea of the farm."

Yes, a farm. A large-scale, for-profit agricultural enterprise, wholly contained within the city limits of Detroit. Hantz thinks farming could do his city a lot of good: restore big chunks of tax-delinquent, resource-draining urban blight to pastoral productivity; provide decent jobs with benefits; supply local markets and restaurants with fresh produce; attract tourists from all over the world; and -- most important of all -- stimulate development around the edges as the local land market tilts from stultifying abundance to something more like scarcity and investors move in. Hantz is willing to commit $30 million to the project. He'll start with a pilot program this spring involving up to 50 acres on Detroit's east side. "Out of the gates," he says, "it'll be the largest urban farm in the world."

Reverse flow takes heat out of crisis for Slovakia

As a consequence of the latest Russia-Ukraine dispute, the Bratstvo, or Brotherhood, pipeline that carries natural gas from east to west through the central European country went dry.

“Suddenly we saw the big zero on the pressure gauges in eastern Slovakia,” recalls Maros Sefcovic, the country’s European commissioner. “It was a rather distressing experience.”

Soon the government was forced to decide between shutting down its schools and hospitals or industry. It chose the latter. So desperate was the situation that it announced plans to restart a mothballed reactor at the Bohunice nuclear plant, which Slovakia had closed as a condition of its prized accession to the European Union.

But then a young engineer had a disarmingly simple idea. Why not reverse the flow of the Bratstvo from west to east to carry gas supplies from the Czech Republic back to Slovakia?

Oman to announce largest budget in history for 2010

Oman will join Saudi Arabia in announcing the largest budget in its history for 2010 as it appears buoyed by higher oil prices and a sharp decline in its fiscal deficit through 2009, Oman's newspapers reported yesterday.

Russia looks to exempt more oil fields from fees

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - Russian oil firms are seeking to expand the list of oil fields eligible for zero export duty, Deputy Prime Igor Sechin said on Monday, but the government will put forward tough conditions, he added.

Russia exempted 13 East Siberian oilfields this year from paying export duties starting Dec. 1 to spur investments and revive stagnating output.

Survivalism Lite: They call themselves 'preppers.' They are regular people with homes and families. But like the survivalists that came before them, they're preparing for the worst.

In the past, survivalists and conspiracy theorists might go out into the woods, live out of a bunker, waiting (or sometimes hoping) for the apocalypse to hit. It was men, mostly; many of them antigovernment, often portrayed by the media as radicals of the likes of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. In the late 1990s, Y2K fears brought survivalism to the mainstream, only to usher it back out again when disaster didn't strike. (Suddenly, unused survival gear began showing up in classifieds and on eBay.) A decade later, "preppers" are what you might call survivalism's Third Wave: regular people with jobs and homes whose are increasingly fearful about the future—their paranoia compounded by 24-hour cable news. "Between the media and the Internet, many people have built up a sense that there's this calamity out there that needs to be avoided," says Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Texas who studies the way people think. And while they may not envision themselves as Kevin Costner in Waterworld — in fact, many preppers go out of their way to avoid the stereotypes that come along with the "survivalist" label—they've made a clear-eyed calculation about the risks at hand and aren't waiting around for anybody else to fix them. "I consider it more of a reaction than a movement," says Tom Martin, a 32-year-old Idaho truck driver who is the founder of the American Preppers Network, which receives some 5,000 visitors to its Web site each day. "There are so many variables and potential disasters out there, being a prepper is just a reaction to that potential."

Prepare for lower oil prices

The outlook for the oil price remains mired in much confusion. Peak oil theorists see production in terminal decline. Others, who expect the oil price to revisit its 2008 highs, argue that rapid demand growth from emerging markets, most notably China, will underpin a long and aggressive rally in the price.

Some even argue that as the world runs out of oil we shall slip back into pre-industrial ways as energy is rationed and human behaviour has to change as a result – an argument that has been regularly trotted out over the last five centuries. First, in Britain in the 16th century as the country was perceived to be running out of wood, its primary energy source at that time. Then 300 years later by economist William Jevons who believed that Britain’s coal supply, and therefore primary energy supply, was in terminal decline.

Chevron Threatens To Leave Longtime Home

The biggest producer of greenhouse gases in California is the Chevron Corp.'s oil refinery in the Bay Area town of Richmond, just east of San Francisco.

The refinery opened more than a century ago, and in spite of the bad air, Richmond has always been a loyal company town.

Until lately.

Potent fuel at MIT reactor makes for uneasy politics

WASHINGTON - MIT’s 50-year-old nuclear reactor, one of only three US research facilities not run by the Department of Energy that still use material that could also be used to make atomic bombs, will probably not be converted to use a safer fuel for at least another five years because of technical obstacles, according to a recent government report obtained by the Globe.

That means the reactor on the university’s Cambridge campus, originally slated for fuel conversion by 2014, will continue to present a political liability for US officials, who are strongly urging other countries around the world - most notably Iran - to forgo the civilian use of highly enriched uranium to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

UAE to sell nuclear power, free more oil to export

DUBAI (Reuters) - A $40 billion deal by the United Arab Emirates to acquire nuclear reactors puts it ahead in a drive to meet fast growing power needs among its Gulf neighbors, while also allowing it to export more of its oil.

The prospect of starting electricity exports within the next decade is a key element behind the UAE's award to a South Korean consortium on Sunday of the deal to build and operate four reactors in the third largest oil exporter.

...All six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, have shown interest in nuclear power to meet soaring domestic demand for electricity and free more oil and gas for export.

FACTBOX - Nuclear power plans in Africa, Middle East

(Reuters) - Many countries in Africa and the Middle East have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programmes to meet rising power demand.

Nuclear is seen by many as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector.

A fall in fossil fuel prices since summer 2008 has made nuclear power less attractive than it was when oil CLc1 was above $147 a barrel in July 2008. South Africa is the only country in the region with an operational nuclear power plant.

Below are the nuclear aspirations of countries across Africa and the Middle East.

China has most nuclear projects

China has the largest number of nuclear powered projects under construction in the world, officials from the National Energy Administration said.

Nigeria’s Daily Oil Exports Scheduled to Increase in February

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria, a favored supplier of oil to U.S. refiners, plans to export about 1.7 percent more of its 14 biggest crude types a day in February compared with the previous month, preliminary loading schedules show.

Shipments of Nigeria’s 14 biggest crude grades will average about 1.965 million barrels a day, or a total of 55 million barrels, according to the loading plans obtained by Bloomberg. That includes at least four cargoes of Forcados delayed from January, meaning 1.931 million barrels a day will load in that month.

Russia's Rosneft plans to up oil output 4 pct in '10

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosneft, Russia's No.1 crude producer, plans to increase oil and gas condensate output by around 4 percent to 117.6 million tonnes in 2010, the company said on Tuesday.

On International Oil Companies, China and Nigeria’s Crude Oil Licenses

Nigeria currently holds the world’s tenth largest reserves of crude oil and is the fifth highest supplier to the United States. She also boasts the world’s seventh largest natural gas deposits. The country is currently a battleground of sorts in a contest that has pitched International Oil Companies, IOCs, against a Chinese National Oil Company, NOC, for a significant proportion of Nigeria’s 36 billion-barrel crude oil reserves.

Kazakhstan in Talks Over Karachaganak Field Stake

The Kazakhstan government is in talks with a BG Group PLC-led consortium over obtaining a stake in the Karachaganak development, one of Kazakhstan's largest oil and gas condensate fields, Kazakh prime minister Karim Masimov said Tuesday.

Powerless Nepal loses lustre as New Year destination

Kathmandu (IANS) Slapped with a 51-hour weekly power outage from Wednesday and a warning that next month it could go up to 12 hours a day, Nepal has begun to lose its lustre as a holiday destination, especially for the budget tourist from India who crosses over the open border by bus.

The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Tuesday announced that due to the power-generating rivers drying up and the demand for energy increasing, it would enforce between seven to eight hours of blackout daily.

Long Beach's Black Gold: Oil Reserves Could Help Financial Woes

One of the solutions to Long Beach's ongoing budget problems may be buried deep underground.

Complex contract negotiations involving the Wilmington Oil Field in and around the Port of Long Beach could uncover a cash gusher for public and private interests.

Developing answers to the oil shortage

For the past month, this column has focused on the limited supplies of and unlimited demand for oil. The future looks bleak with an oil shortage that we as a nation seem ill prepared to handle. But, given that our public and private sectors can gain a sense of urgency and take a more dedicated approach than we have in the development of new technologies and new energy sources, we can overcome what could be a significant obstacle to the betterment of our standard of living for years to come.

To put this complex issue into simple terms, here are four ways in which we can guarantee a brighter future for America by limiting the impact that oil has on our personal, corporate and national finances while ensuring that we have access to transportation, something that is instrumental to the pursuits of a free people…

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Analysts say Yemen is of huge significance to al-Qaeda.

"Weapons, training, crossing points and the launch of operations have all come from Yemen," Abd Alelah-Haidar, a "terrorism" specialist who has met Wuhaishi, told Al Jazeera.

"This country is seen as having strategic significance, not only by al-Qaeda, but also by others.

Iran bars single women from gas field

IRAN has barred single women from working for a state firm that operates a huge gas field and petrochemical plants on the shores of the Gulf, the Fars news agency reported overnight.

...More than 18 months ago, Iranian newspapers carried an instruction by the company requiring that "single employees start creating a family".

"As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty," the instruction said.

Saudi Minister: Industrial future bright

The king had stated that developing the industrial sector is the Kingdom's strategic choice to diversify revenue sources.

"We developed the new strategy based on the king's vision," the minister said. He said King Abdullah wanted to know every detail of the strategy's mechanisms to ensure its success and effectiveness.

Alireza called upon the world-class industrial organizations in the Eastern Province, including Saudi Aramco and petrochemical industries, to support the strategy to make it a huge success.

Texas' now-strong banks hold lessons for rest of U.S.

Peaking last year at $147 a barrel, high oil prices threw Texas a lifeline when the rest of the country was sinking into recession. The Texas economy isn't as dependent as it used to be on energy. Oil and gas production now accounts for about 6% of Texas' economic output, vs. almost 20% in 1981, according to the Dallas Fed. But Texas-based drilling companies get work around the world when energy prices are high. So an uptick in oil and gas prices can still help the state, sometimes working to delay or fend off recessions that hit the rest of the country.

Texas, for instance, escaped the 1990-1991 recession, partly because Texans benefited from the high energy prices that hurt everyone else. Same thing happened this time. Dallas Fed economist Yucel believes high energy prices bought Texas about a half-year reprieve: The recession that began in late 2007 elsewhere didn't reach Texas until mid-2008.

North America Hydro Development

Government support, at levels unseen since the 1980s, is driving new U.S. hydroelectric development while Canada beckons "Come on in, the water's fine!"

China High Speed Rail Ups The Ante

In an effort to expand its high-speed rail network (eventually linking Guangzhou with Beijing), China has delivered what looks to be the fastest rail link in the world.

Traveling at an average speed of 217 miles an hour, the Chinese have once again upped the ante when it comes to cleaner and more efficient transportation alternatives. In fact, China now expects to build 42 high-speed rail lines by 2012. Will they pull off such a lofty goal in such a short amount of time? Hard to say. But I certainly wouldn't bet against them at this point.

Chinese firm says won't pay Goldman on options losses

BEIJING (Reuters) - A small Chinese power generator on Tuesday rejected demands from a Goldman Sachs unit to pay for nearly $80 million lost on two oil hedging contracts, part of a long-running dispute over how China deals with derivatives losses.

Goldman Sachs was one of the foreign banks, along with Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, blamed by the state assets watchdog for providing "extremely complicated" and difficult to understand derivatives products.

...The State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in September that it would back state-owned companies in any legal action against the foreign banks that sold them oil derivatives, which resulted in losses when oil prices dived late last year.

Oil down to near $78 a barrel after big surge

Oil prices fell to near $78 a barrel Tuesday as the dollar recovered against the British pound and the yen. Expectations of falling U.S. stockpiles and gains on stock markets helped contain the retreat.

Shell chief calls 2010 'challenging' for refining, costs

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, expects the pressure on refining margins and costs to persist next year amid a challenging economic situation.

“I expect that 2010 will be, from a macro environment point of view, still a challenging year,” Peter Voser, chief executive officer at the Hague-based Shell, said in a video to employees. “We'll see pressure on refining margins and some further pressure on competitive performance regarding costs.”

Russia Agrees to Pay 30% More to Send Oil to EU, Ukraine Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russia agreed to pay 30 percent more to transport oil to Europe via Ukraine next year, according to Ukrainian state energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Representatives of the two countries’ energy ministries signed an accord late yesterday, Valentyn Zemlyanskyi, Naftogaz’s spokesman, said today by telephone from Kiev. Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Russian oil shipper OAO Transneft, wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Natural gas pipeline proposed for NY, NJ

NEW YORK (AP) - Chesapeake Energy Corp. will provide the natural gas for a pipeline expansion in New York City that energy companies involved in the project say will boost the metropolitan area's use of the fuel and cut down on pollution from other heating sources.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake is active in drilling in the Marcellus shale, a vast formation of energy-rich rock that runs through several states, including New York. Gas from the shale will be used to supply the project.

Lukoil-led group signs deal for prized Iraqi oilfield

BAGHDAD/OSLO (Reuters) - A group led by Russian energy firm Lukoil signed an initial deal on Tuesday to develop Iraq's West Qurna Phase Two oilfield, as its partner in the venture Statoil said it had increased its stake.

Iraq awarded 10 oilfield development contracts to global oil firms in two energy auctions this year. If they come to fruition, the deals could more than quadruple Iraqi oil output capacity to about 12 million barrels per day.

ONGC to Lend $857 Million to Unit for Myanmar Project

(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp. will lend 40 billion rupees ($857 million) to its overseas unit investing in a gas project off Myanmar’s coast as India’s biggest explorer seeks to meet rising fuel demand at home.

“For us it makes more sense to invest in assets through ONGC Videsh Ltd. than put the money in banks,” ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R.S. Sharma said in a telephone interview today. The interest-free loan has no maturity date, Sharma said.

CNPC builds overseas capacity

China National Petroleum Corporation’s overseas operations have the capacity to produce 1.4 million barrels per day of crude oil and 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, according to the company's in-house newspaper.

Bashneft Oil Executive Shot Dead in Russia, Investigators Say

(Bloomberg) -- An executive at OAO Bashneft, the Russian oil producer controlled by billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov, was shot to death, investigators said.

Much-delayed Arctic pipeline environmental study expected this week, years late

Even at noon, Inuvik's weak December sun never seems to light the Arctic community brighter than twilight — no longer night, not quite day.

It's a little like how businessmen have been feeling about their own prospects in the Mackenzie Delta community after seemingly endless delays in a project they've pinned their hopes on - the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline.

Kazakhstan Plans to Boost Oil Output by 5.6 Percent Next Year

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan, central Asia’s biggest energy producer, plans to boost oil output by 5.6 percent next year from a year earlier.

Kazakhstan Plans to Boost Coal Production By 3.6% Next Year

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan, central Asia’s biggest energy producer, plans to boost coal output by as much as 3.6 percent next year from a year earlier.

Coal production is forecast to rise to between 96 million and 97 million metric tons in 2010, Economy Minister Bakhyt Sultanov said in telephone interview from the capital Astana today.

Iran arrests sister of Nobel laureate

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian security forces made a wave of new arrests Tuesday, including Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's sister and a relative of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, pressing forward with a broadening crackdown on the reformist movement in the wake of deadly protests this week.

The government accused Western countries of fomenting the violence, threatening to "slap" Britain in the face as it summoned London's ambassador to an urgent meeting.

U.K. mounts warfare exercise in Falklands

STANLEY, Falkland Islands, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- British forces mounted a warfare exercise involving navy and air force personnel in the Falkland Islands, scene of a 1982 conflict between Argentina and Britain and more recently of intense oil and gas exploration activities.

Asia's green-tech rivals: Clean-energy competition in the region will be intense

The battle lines are being drawn in Asia over green technologies, as governments adapt their tradition of state influence on industry for an era in which eco-friendly products may spell export success. In China, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere, a big portion of fiscal-stimulus measures is dedicated to green projects. It is seen as a way to create new jobs, cut carbon emissions at home—and sell products abroad.

Globally, governments have budgeted as much as $500 billion for “Green New Deal” projects, estimates HSBC, a bank. Asia accounts for more than three-fifths of the total. Around 20% of this will have been spent by the end of 2009, with most of the rest to be lavished in 2010. Private capital is also pouring in.

China's Energy Solution: Ignore the Cost

Perhaps you've heard the argument that the world needs to move from coal to renewables at any cost. China now appears to be applying this idea quite literally.

In an amendment to a 2006 renewable energy law, the Chinese government has mandated that state-owned electric grid companies buy all of the renewable energy produced by generators, regardless of the price.

China: Nuclear power project starts

The first phase of building two giant reactors for a new nuclear project that will cut carbon emissions and boost the local economy started December 28.

Two 1250 mW reactors will be built in the first phase, at the site in Haiyang, east China's Shandong province, and are scheduled to be put into use in May 2014 and March 2015 respectively.

2009 biggest year yet for Canadian wind power

Canada's wind industry had its biggest year ever in 2009, as 880 megawatts of new wind-generated power came on stream - the most ever added in one year.

With turbines across the country now capable of churning out about 3,250 megawatts of electricity in total - enough to power about one million homes - the sector has reached a new level of maturity.

The Lithium Rush

Nearly four kilometers above sea level in the Bolivian Andes lies the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat. But there is more to this ­surreal, moonlike landscape than meets the eye. Flowing in salt-water ­channels beneath the surface is the world's largest supply of lithium--and, possibly, the future of transportation. Lithium is the key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries that will power the electric vehicles that will soon be rolling off production lines worldwide. Demand for the metal is expected to double in the next 10 years, and Bolivia, with an untapped resource estimated at nine million tons by the U.S. Geological Survey, is being called a potential "Saudi Arabia of lithium."

Can a solar-powered airplane be the future of aviation?

While the world's attention was tuned to the recent global climate conference in Copenhagen, in an old airplane hangar on a small Swiss airfield, a group of visionaries, dreamers and engineers was busily assembling a vehicle that is their solution to global climate change and the future of commercial aviation. This airplane uses no fossil or bio-fuels. It is a solar-powered airplane, collecting the sun's rays on 12,000 solar cells spread across its wings to charge the special lithium-polymer batteries that will continue to power the airplane from sunset till the next sunrise.

A Race-Car Designer's Shift to Greener Rides

To aficionados of auto-racing and high-performance sports cars, Gordon Murray is a legend. He's designed championship-winning Formula One cars, as well as two iconic, drop-dead-beautiful sports cars: the McLaren F1, one of the fastest road cars ever made, and the Mercedes SLR McLaren. These cars were, of course, built for speed and power; fuel economy wasn't even an afterthought. So it's somewhat surprising that the 63-year-old South African engineer is now more interested in cleaning up the planet by reducing carbon emissions than cleaning up at a Grand Prix finish line.

Murray's latest project is an environmentally friendly, compact commuter car — a change of focus he insists isn't as dramatic as it sounds. "Philosophically, they're quite similar," he says. "It's all about designing cars that are lightweight," which makes them highly efficient as well. The major difference between the two types of cars, however, is cost. Creating a lightweight, highly efficient car that is also affordable — not to mention cool and fun — is "the most challenging thing I've ever done," Murray says.

Moore shop class works toward 90-mpg car

MOORE — Shop class isn't what it used to be, at least when Moore High School teacher Clint Jensen is leading it.

Instead of tinkering on beat-up Buicks, Moore students are building a car from the ground up — and not just any car, one they hope will drive 90 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Fidel Castro: Humanity's Right To Life

The United States, with less than 5% of the world population releases 25% of the carbon dioxide. The new US President had promised to cooperate with the international effort to tackle a new problem that afflicts that country as much as the rest of the world. In the meetings leading to the Summit, it became clear that the leaders of that nation and of the wealthiest countries were maneuvering to place the burden of sacrifices on the emergent and poor countries.

Scottish Renewables calls on government to release fossil levy money

Trade association Scottish Renewables is calling on the UK's chancellor Alistair Darling to release the £174 million currently sitting in the Scottish Fossil Fuel Levy fund so it can be ploughed back into the renewables sector and help tackle climate change.

Experts: Quick action needed to prevent Arab region water crisis

(MENAFN - Jordan Times) With people in over 17 Arab countries living well below the water poverty line of 500 cubic metres annually, Arab decision makers on Monday called for coordinated efforts to address the impact of climate change on the limited resource.

Experts said more than 75 per cent of the surface water in the Arab world, most of which is made up of semi-arid or arid land, originates from outside its borders, thus necessitating measures to protect water security and curb future political crises erupting from water shortages.

Macca’s meat-free message is a recipe for farming disaster in Wales

A WELSH farmers leader has hit back at the campaign by high- profile figures like Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard Branson to cut out meat consumption in the cause of cutting carbon emissions.

In his new year message, Gareth Vaughan, president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, said recently published reports in the medical journal The Lancet and by the UK Government’s independent watchdog the Sustainable Development Commission had also highlighted the dangers of failing to properly examine the whole picture.

Taiwan feels global warming, say report

The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) on Tuesday published a study on weather changes in Taiwan over the past century, which showed that local temperatures had risen by an average of 0.8 degrees Celsius. The average temperature rose by 1.2 degrees in plains areas and 1.4 degrees in metropolitan areas, according to the study, which compiled weather change statistics between 1897 and 2008.

One noteworthy finding was that the minimum temperature increased by 2.1 degrees while the maximum temperature rose by 0.7 degrees on average in metropolitan areas.

Fewer deaths in disasters in 2009: Munich Re

FRANKFURT (AFP) – We made it through the year with a minimum of natural disasters, German re-insurer Munich Re said on Tuesday, but climate change still threatens our planet and the failed Copenhagen summit ensures losses will rise in the future.

Munich Re said natural catastrophes took many fewer lives and caused much less damage on average in 2009 than in the previous decade.

But the group also pointed to a higher total number of destructive events, around 850, than the average of 770 per year since 2000.

Brazil sets ambitious emissions targets

Brazil will make its ambitious 2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets legally binding even though global climate talks failed this month, the country's environment minister said yesterday.

The Lawyers Win in Global Warming

Carbon dioxide air emissions is one of the big issues in global warming debate. However, before you start controlling by putting the carbon in the ground, you first have to put lawyers in a room to argue. After a year that saw billions of dollars spent around a variety of carbon capture and storage pilot projects, the focus in 2010 will shift from press conferences and engineering discussion to court cases and conference tables.

Emissions Disclosure as a Business Virtue

Cupping their hands near holes drilled for cable routing, workers at the Boeing Company’s four-acre data processing site near Seattle noticed this year that air used to keep the computers cool was seeping through floor openings.

Mindful of the company’s drive to slash electricity consumption by 25 percent, they tucked insulation into holes there and at five similar sites. The resulting savings are projected at $55,000, or some 685,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Yet Boeing’s goal is not just to save money. The hope is to keep pace with other companies that have joined in a vast global experiment in tracking the carbon dioxide emissions generated by industry.

National Intelligence Council Research Report - North Africa: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030 [PDF]

It is estimated that Morocco and Algeria’s water resources will be reduced by 10-15 percent by 2020, Tunisia’s water resources will decline by 28 percent by 2030, and 74.8 percent of Egyptians will have less than adequate fresh water by the same year.

Conflicts over water, as have been observed in the past, are likely to surface between African countries. In addition, low-efficiency surface irrigation practices may produce higher water losses, decreases in land productivity, and increased salination.

Egypt, where agriculture is impossible without irrigation, is at risk of being largely impacted. …as the price of water becomes apparent, North African countries will likely rely more on food imports.

Arctic Could Face Warmer and Ice-Free Conditions

There is increased evidence that the Arctic could face seasonally ice-free conditions and much warmer temperatures in the future.

Scientists documented evidence that the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas were too warm to support summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene warm period (3.3 to 3 million years ago). This period is characterized by warm temperatures similar to those projected for the end of this century, and is used as an analog to understand future conditions.

RE: China's forced payment for renewable energy. Another example of China's advantage of not being a representative form of gov't. Requiring electricity distributers to pay the cost (and perhaps a small return) for alt generated power solves one of the most difficult problems holding back alt development in the US: predicting future prices that would justify the capex. It sounds as though China is essentially putting the alts on the same side of the fence as a US utility company: the capex is recovered via base payment requirements by the customers. A seemingly simple fix: build an electricity generating alt system and you're guaranteed a profit even if we hit a recession and energy costs drop (just like we saw in the last year). Given the low interest guaranteed deposits receive today I would imagine a lot of cash would flow into a certain 5% or 7% return. But we do have a representative gov't and any politician that voles to increase utility costs to the public might not be representing the people too much longer.

But the China's move is much easier culturally: give up the profit margin. A fellow who once taught (or tried to) Chinese businessmen about the capitalistic system couldn't get his students to accept it was Ok for a company making a widget for $1 to sell it for more than $1.

"the capex is recovered via base payment requirements by the customer"
I did not see that in the article, I did however see the phrase state owned. It seems to me the Chinese state is dumping money directly into infrastructure. Not a bad idea IMO.

Oh... And what they're saying to goldman, another good idea

True e...just my supposition of how such a plan would work in the US. We've seen the communism model fail in "normal" times. But PO, just like war, is not a normal circumstance. The Chinese gov't, as it exists today, appears to be better prepared for a PO future then the free market economies of the world. During WWII the US took on some of the characteristics of a strong and absolutely controlling central gov't: rationing, conscription, price controls, etc. It did help the country focus on one issue: winning the war.

China appears to have such focus today. Difficult to figure out exactly how the Chinese mix of communism/capitalism will play out. It sounds as though the gov't is setting up circumstances to allow private finance of alts as opposed to gov't run alt programs. Sounds like it could be the best of both worlds especially if the structure motivates investors from outside of China to fund alt development.

To really understand China today, you must understand that it is not so much "communist" or "capitalist" as it is NATIONALIST. Doing what is perceived by the government elites to be in the long-term national interest of China is first and foremost. There certainly is plenty of crony capitalism there, but the cronys only get special deals to the extent that it is compatable with, and not opposed to, the long-term national interest.

In contrast, in the US, crony capitalism is first and foremost among our governing elites. Things might possibly be done that are actually in our long-term national interest, but only to the extent that they are compatable with, and not opposed to, the special interests of the crony du jour. That means that in practice, as opposed to in rhetoric, that very few things are actually getting done that are really in the US national interest. More commonly, the national interest is given lip service while the things that really need to get done are ignored, and the problems are placed back in the can and kicked down the road a little further. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful divert more and more funny money from the taxpayers into their own pockets.

Understand this clearly, and you'll understand why the US is declining and China is rising. You'll also understand why a little fiddling around the edges and empty rhetoric about "change" is not going to change anything. The US is in deep, deep trouble - far worse than the general population realizes or is told - and will only get worse and worse until something truly radical is done to transform things.

Best case, I suppose it is still just barely in the realm of possibility that 3rd party reform movement could arise, throw the bums out, and do a thorough housecleaning in Washington, all without major disturbance to our present constitutional structures. Just barely possible, but not very likely, unfortunately.

Much more likely, I fear, is a military coup d'etat to establish an authoritarian regime, jail (or shoot) both the politicians and the cronys, cut out all the crap and nonsense, and focus the nation on doing what really needs to be done to avoid absolute disaster. I don't see how this could happen any time real soon, but if/when things get bad enough I don't see the brass just sitting on their rears while the politicians and their cronys flush their country totally down the drain. I dread the thought of it, though.

Excellent observation WNC. Nationalism does sound much more apt as you describe it. As far as a military coup I wouldn't hold my breath. And that's a good thing I suppose. Most of the miltary I know (including the Army Pukes) see themselves as citizens as much as military. They wouldn't serve a dictator (uniformed or otherwise). And probably not a monolithic gov't either.

But it does give one pause to think about the worst possible reactions should TSHTF really, really bad. I have a suspiction that state's right might become a bigger issue but then again, I live in Texas. I suppose in a very ugly view of the future regionaliam might over take nationalism.

Pearl Harbor provided us with the shot of nationalism we needed to accept the centralized control of society necessary to fighting WWII.

We are rather not nearly so cohesive and tightly bonded a nation culturally today as we were then.

But I think it is still possible that if we were to be so fortunate as to experience a sufficiently traumatic Pearl Harbor environmental/economic event that we MIGHT find the national will to do something truly meaningful about the energy and clitame crisises.

Well, supposedly 9/11 was the "Pearl Harbor Moment". TPTB, rather than using it as an opening to encourage some sort of national stock-taking, self-reflection, and self-discipline, immediately exploited it to the service of gross fear-mongering, and parlayed it into ruinously expensive adventures into Afghanistan (arguably "necessary" on some level, at least temporarily) and Iraq (absolutely treasonous, in my opinion).

So, you need the "teachable moment", but you also need the teachers, the leadership. That's what we lack. The entire basis of modern American governance seems to be to promote fear and foster polarization of issues. Hardly a recipe for national cohesion or coordination on policy.

That's why I believe we are utterly and royally screwed. And if some sort of nationalistic focus does occur, it will be as virulent, ugly, jingoistic, and self-righteous a brand of nationalism as can be imagined. I.e., the usual.

Interesting thoughts, Sgage.

My take is that 9/11 was enough to arouse us ,to "pxxx us off" but not enough to truly alarm us and other than that I mostly agree with you.

IF the damages had been greater, something that would have really hurt, like requiring us to put a million people in a relief camp and three hundred thousand in a cemetery,AND IF we had had better leadership , even Carter or Gore(bith of whom are good guys but guys who do not inspire people)we might have changed our ways constructively rather than just running off to fight.In such a case we would have run off to fight AND done at least some of the things we need to to to start getting off the opil habit.

I don't want anyone to think I don't feel deeply the pain and loss felt by the victims of 9/11, but something on the order of four thousand lives out of three hundred million is an insult, rather than an injury, in terms of international relationships.

Five or ten thousand more volunteer troop deaths haven't and won't change the picture either-at least not in the short term.

And while we could have played the game differently twenty or thirty years ago, we are in the game now and the pot on the table is too big to fold now.

All my realist conservative buddies and most of the realist liberals I know all realized this before the last election -virtually nobody I talk politics with on a serious basis-thought that O Bama would bring the troops home rather than up the ante.

The game is too big to lose.

Some of the liberals think that he may be able to declare victory and bring some significant number home before elections but the conservatives and the rest of the liberals think only enough for window dressing.

My personal guess is that we will continue to occupy the Middle East in general until the oil is either mostly gone or until we are simply unable to keep the troops in the field.

Of course some incredibly good luck on the oil and natural gas front or unexxpected breakthroughs in the renewables industry could make this occupation unnecessary but I'm not holding my breath.

They've been trying their darndest to make an airplane go kaboom with all aboard, the result so far is air travel is going to become even more nightmarish (which is why I refuse to do it).

My personal guess is that we will continue to occupy the Middle East in general until the oil is either mostly gone or until we are simply unable to keep the troops in the field.

WADR, my brain is not coming up with any pictures for US "occupying" the Mid-East ..... rather "being obsessed by" or "mired in" or "psychotically fixated on" would seem more in alignment with the realities on that particular ground.


I do think that there are elements of obsession and psychosis involved and mired may also be a relevant description, although it is usually used in conjunction with mud rather than sand in terms of being "stuck" in a motor vehicle.

But if you step back and look at the problem with a sufficiently cynical eye from a suitable distance I believe you will come to see that our government IS capable of doing some long term thinking and taking some long term actions , even though the thinking is constrained by politics and the actions by both politics and the need to find a "possible " path acceptable to the people and one that will be tolerated by the many powerful interest groups that make up "America" collectively.

There is no way we would be "over there" unless the Democrats had gotten together with the Republican quietly and discussed the reality of NOT BEING over there.

I believe a very strong case can be made that unless we went with the first Bush, and back agian with the second Bush, that we might by now be more or less locked out of the area and that the Chinese or some local coalition would by now have taken the spot we now occupy.

Any realist with a few history books under his belt recognizes that we simply cannot continue to conduct bau without that oil-and Saudia Arabia and the other countries who are at least our business buddies if not real friends would have ceased to exist in any recognizable form except for the fact that our troops are either there or handy and ready.

We can't transition to renewables overnight or even in a decade or two, and we can't transition to a low oil more energy efficient economy very quicly either, as these options are technically very tough to achieve but more importantly politically not achievable , unless perhaps we get our wakeup call-what I refer to as a new Pearl Harbor.

The folks who want us out are fortunate that once the public announcements and news conferences are over, thier elected representatives-namely OBama and company -have pulled the usual political trick, saying one thing and doing another.

If you think we have troubles now, how would you like three hundred dollar oil and forty percent unemployment?

The troops will stay until we either simply can't manage the deployment or until the oil is gone.If we are lucky they will be able to pull back and avoid actual fighting a lot of the time, maybe even most of the time.We might even be able to bring most of them home from time to time.

This is reality.

In his West Point speech, Obama promised to withdraw from Iraq by 2011.

*IF* we are "buying time" to develop alternatives to oil, then GWB had us stuck in reverse. Almost every policy to delay alternatives was supported by the Rs and almost none to move forward was.


gage -- Maybe like mac says above we need a shock more basic to our lifestyles. Maybe the best scenario would be some military action that shut down Persian Gulf oil flow for some number of months. Just long enough to drive home how fragile BAU really is and to scare the hell out of folks. And then renewed imports allowing us, with a new attitude about the future, to start making meaningful changes.

Hey...it's almost the New Year...why not some very wishful thinking.

Well, supposedly 9/11 was the "Pearl Harbor Moment". TPTB, rather than using it as an opening ...

One ought read Colin Campbell's Oll Crisis -- smack dab in the middle is a chapter on 9-11, and it belongs there. Even more one ought read David Ray Griffin, almost any of his 6 or 7 books on 9-11. As for Pearl Harbor, read Robert Stinnett's Day of Deceit.

That's why I believe we are utterly and royally screwed.

True. My point is that it is somewhat more conscious and planned (in some respects) than you might imagine. We need a third party. Won't be easy.

The closest that we have seen to an authoritarian regime in a long time is George W. Bush's administration, and the authoritarians in this country are nearly all right-wingers. There is no guarantee that such a regime will make correct decisions - it may instead try and launch more wars to seize assets from other countries. It may launch "drill here, drill now" programs to try and halt the slide in oil production. It may throw out all environmental laws and perhaps even try and jail environmentalists as these are the common scapegoats that are used to explain why it is that we aren't drilling now.

It is true that what we have now is certainly at least somewhat dysfunctional, and I don't know how that can be fixed. There are certain times in a country's history where transformative change is really possible, but this is typically after something like a devastating war or a crippling depression. The old cronies are in a sufficiently weakened state that it is possible to accomplish many things, but you have a limited time window before they recover. Consider for example the current state of General Motors - they used to be a very powerful lobby, but in their current state they are just hanging on for dear life and have far less influence than they had several decades ago.

I think it will take little provocation to easily go further than simply jailing environmentalists - the government may not do the killing - but they certainly could turn a blind eye toward punishing those who resort to violence... Witness the ratcheting up to death threats by coal miners against the 'tree huggers'. It just so happens these 'radical' environmentalists aren't your garden variety east / west coast libs who are trashed by everbody in between as good sport. These are people who dwell in the hollers of the appalachian valley and ridge and think that maybe, just maybe, it's not a good idea to have the top of a mountain bulldozed into and over the birthplace of their ancestors. For that kind of 'radical' thinking they are receiving death threats...

The politicians of coal country will see to it that if some limp wristed commie tree hugger gets off'd by a hardworking 'murkin coal miner - well there won't be too much of a price to pay (in time or $$).

The wildcard in all this is just the fact that these enviros aren't necessarily from out of the area - chances are they are just as familiar with a gun as any of those coal miners - and just as willing to return fire...

It is a great failing of the environmental movement that it alienates a huge number of people who COULD otherwise be among it's most ardent supporters with it's oft times holier than thou and condescending attitudes.

Making fun of people , no matter how innocently,never makes friends of them.

And it is almost impossible to make a reliable ally or convert to a new cause without first gaining the friendship and respect of the potential ally and convert.

The redneck survivalist we love to hate is our potential friend-but only if we lead him to the fresh clean waters of environmentalism and allow him to drink rather than dunk him while calling him superstitious because he believes in a God and an animal or second class human because he hunts and fishes.

Bundleing the environmental message with vegetarianism, gun control, abortion, and socialism plays very well on campus and in college towns but this policy stinks as far as rural America and working class America is concerned.

"By thier works (and thier friends ) shall ye know them" is not just a quote to thinking people on the other side of the cultural divide.

I made a decision sometime back to go ahead and criticize religion PUBLICLY in this one forum as part of a personal campaign to get the audience here to see the reality of religion as I see it, warts and all.

It will be no easier to get rid of religion than it is to get rid of capitalism , dirty old men, crooked politicians,or king coal.

As a matter of fact getting rid of the other things might be easier, because a religion that seems to vanish merely goes underground or into hibernation and emerges morphed into some other form of group solidarity emotional hardware-nationalisn for example.

It will be no easier to get rid of religion than it is to get rid of capitalism , dirty old men, crooked politicians,or king coal.

I thought capitalism was the religion of the crooked politicians and the dirty old men and they all prayed at the altar of king coal ;-)


The first round is on me if we ever have the pleasure.

Ericy: What in your mind would make this administration less authoritarian than GWB?

Understand this clearly, and you'll understand why the US is declining and China is rising. You'll also understand why a little fiddling around the edges and empty rhetoric about "change" is not going to change anything. The US is in deep, deep trouble - far worse than the general population realizes or is told - and will only get worse and worse until something truly radical is done to transform things.

I think that is a very astute observation and an opinion I very much share.

Having grown up in three very distinct cultures simultaneously. Namely US, Brazilian and Hungarian I was always struck by the fact that both the Brazilian and Hungarian people and their governments tended to be much more nationalistic with the interest of the country and by default its citizens welfare as a high priority. Even under a repressive military dictatorship in Brazil it still seemed there was a national interest that everyone was a part of.

Yes it could be brutal and there wasn't much freedom but there were national goals that focused the entire nation.

For the record I'm not defending military dictatorships and I think Brazil has come a very long way since then and is now in my opinion more of a true democracy than the US. Despite all its problems widespread poverty and social inequality all the citizens are part of the Brazilian nation. They have universal health care for one.

For example It is impossible not to feel you are truly part of the Brazilian nation when the entire country shuts down to watch the national team play a world cup soccer match against an opposing country's team. I've never felt anything remotely like that in the US. Having a US athlete or team compete at the Olympics doesn't even come close. There is no "ONE" nation behind them.

Nationalism can be a double edged sword it can lead to evil deeds but it can also be a force for good.

I agree that the US seems to be more concerned with protecting its governing elites and corporate leaders often in clear opposition to what might seem to be in its national interests.

This is also one of the main reasons I have found American flag waving pseudo patriotism to be so offensive. It is truly the last refuge of the scoundrel who really cares nothing about the nation and its citizens but hides behind the flag and uses it to wield power and control for his handlers benefit.

I sincerely hope that the American people wake up before it is too late and we have no nation left.

I think we have to find an older face of our National pride that isn't so easy to confuse with this kind of 'Brand Loyalty' that seems to function just like the Coca-Cola Santas and the Norman Rockwell Platitudes that infect the kind of flag-waving that you describe.

Basically, I think it has been a form of addiction, the Saccharine Nostalgia of Fantasy Americana that we've painted for ourselves.

For me, for starters, I've taken Ben Franklin's old preference, and look to the Wild American Turkey (not the bottled kind) as the image of independence and character for my America. Sharing the Eagle with Hitler and Rome and other Warlords is hardly a useful image, in my mind.

The other addiction that keeps us from developing a sober pride in who we might become again, is of course that we are completely drunk with excess power and priviledge.

Well said, I agree.

The elephant in the room is capitalism. Stifling our every attempt to deal with global warming and alternative energy and conservation is those capitalists who will be hurt by such a move. For every move forward, including health care, the capitalists must be paid for. If there is a little bit left over for the public interest but as you say the cronies must get their pound of flesh.

But challenge in any way the current system and you will be brought down, pilloried, and branded an evil, godless socialist. I don't know if we have to replace capitalism with socialism but we must get rid of or seriously constrain the power of the capitalists before we get anywhere. And that does not mean we have to get rid of a market populated by competing small businesses where one business is not too dominant over another or dominant over our representatives.

Look what has happened with the change in power from the republicans to the democrats. Very little in the way of positive change. The best that we can hope for is that we not be governed by the truly insane.

China apparently has learned how to profit from the global market place but has the ability to move forward in the national interest.

There certainly is plenty of crony capitalism there, but the cronys only get special deals to the extent that it is compatable with, and not opposed to, the long-term national interest.

I don't not think China is acting in its own long term interest, perhaps somewhat longer than we are, but that means little. They are and have been going in an entirely unsustainable direction for decades now. Mao may have screwed things up in several areas, but he was not wrong about keeping people in the countryside and trying to make it a better place to live. Cars, superhighways, malls, cities, the whole shebang. Half the population off the land, a growing reliance on imported food -- it's madness.

Industrialism is going into decline, not just in the US, but everywhere -- necessarily with the peaking of hydrocarbons.

China legitimately wants to catch up with the US and the West. It may overtake us, but only because we are in decline, not just because imperial overreach, but also because of PO. So any overtaking will be meaningless. The Western way of life in not going to be possible for anyone.

Not to even talk about the narrow base of progress in China. Say 100 million people have reached a middle class existence. That's out of 1.3 billion, less than 10pct. But it may not be 100 million.

The US will collapse, but not be replaced IMO.

I don't think China is doing as well as some think. Their recent growth is fueled by debt-driven government stimulus (kind of like ours). Half of the toy factories in China shut last year, sending millions back to their family farms. They are not about to replace their export-driven economy with internal consumption.

If their economy was export driven as you claim then no amount of government stimulus would produce 8 percent GDP growth in 2008-2009. Those toy factory workers are clearly not contributing to the growth and this fact goes against your implicit claim that China's economy is driven by exports from toy factories and whatnot.

One of the primary reasons that the US recession has not become a world wide depression is that China and other economies are acting independently. The days of the US sneezing and the world getting a cold are over.

The Chinese economic numbers are notoriously suspect. Even more so than ours. I think that "growth" is going to turn out to be illusory.

Illusory or not -- it won't be sustainable. In that regard, I side with Leanan.

Yeah, you don't have to worry about the Sneezing any more.. now that we've got several forms of consumption and cancer that nations are freely sharing.

You are right, the present trends in China are unsustainable. However, it is undeniable that the country has done very well for itself in a number of ways over the past couple of decades (though at considerable environmental cost, unfortunately). I do suspect that when the time comes to shift gears and go in a different direction, the Chinese government might be a bit more capable of doing this than is the US government.

Don't bet against the staying power of a civilization that has ben round for thousands of years.

Don't bet against the staying power of a civilization that has ben round for thousands of years.

I am not. However, China's "success" was due to its isolation. For the most part, it chose not to engage with the rest of the world. So, while I think globalization will collapse, I don't think that means the end of China. Far from it.

China's "success" was due to its isolation. For the most part, it chose not to engage with the rest of the world.

That was back when China was "The Weak Man of Asia", and had a gross domestic product smaller than Canada's. In the post-Mao era, it has developed one of the most open economies (without trade restrictions) on the planet, much more open than the US or Europe.

Don't underestimate them - one of the advantages of a non-democratic system is that they can just take the latest economic theories and implement them without consulting the electorate.

And, guess what, the most advanced economic theories actually work (unlike some of the old theories that many people think are modern.) In recent decades, Economists have actually had an opportunity to test their theories out on various national economies and evaluate their performance in the real world.

That was back when China was "The Weak Man of Asia", and had a gross domestic product smaller than Canada's.

That is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about the entire history of China - perhaps the oldest existing civilization on earth, going back thousands of years.

One small market-based version of this in the US is Sun Edison. One of their projects is in Arvada, CO, where I live. They've signed a contract with the city. They will cover the empty field adjacent to the municipal water treatment plant with PV panels and maintain them. They sell all the electricity they generate to the treatment plant at a known rate for the next 20 years. The city gets a guaranteed price on a significant portion of its electricity purchases. Sun Edison can effectively guarantee that it will sell all the power it generates, so has less trouble raising capital.

OTOH, 85% of the cost of the installation is being picked up by the federal government (40%) and Xcel, the local utility (45%). Xcel is required to have a minimum percentage of the power it "sells" in Colorado generated by customer-located solar systems by 2020. By funding the necessary portion of this installation, Xcel gets to count all the PV electricity delivered to the treatment plant towards the requirement.

One of my problems (this week) and certainly not a rap on you rock, is the way words like communism, free market and central planning have been co-opted by a-holes. Definitely not a new or original gripe, but if things are as bad as they appear to be with our debt/growth based economy it's high time for change. Gov. funds dumped directly into our biggest problems, at no interest, seems like a start. Socialism sure, maybe we could just call it something else, say , pumpkin soup.

Bumper sticker on wish list

Rugged Communitarian

e -- I agree on several levels. The problem I see isn't so much what form a gov't might take but how it is managed by TPTB. Socialism has many advantages but not if it's not managed properly. We can make up any set of circumstance to show how a socialistic gov't might fail. Same with communism or capitalism. We just witnessed a good example (sub-prime loans) of mismanged capitalism IMHO. We can describe lots of different models of gov't that could aid us through PO but, as is often said, the devil is in the details. I've seen few models that didn't look reasonable on paper including the ones that failed terribly.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to say it but I'm not sure a republic will be the best way to deal with future problems. Trying to represent such potentially wide variations in the interest of our society may be beyond the skills of our national leadership. The most obvious potential conflict would be the energy rich vs. the energy poor states. Consider Texas. A significant amount of the oil/NG produced in the state is from state owned mineral leases (a major source of funding for state universities). The royalty production from these leases belong to the state and as such they are free to sell to whomever they want. The state can also contract a refiner to process the oil and sell the products to whomever it chooses. Like in-state distributers. Likewise, the federal gov't can do the same with OCS production. It has the right to take its royalty share in-kind. Thus the Feds can direct this oil/NG as it chooses. If we do face significant shortages how would the Feds split the benefit: per capita basis, by need, by electoral vote count, red vs. blue? I find such questions very unsettling.

unsettling indeed

It's not like this issue hasn't arisen before. My guess is that first priority will be "guns and butter." We put up with rationing of food and fuel before, and hard as it may be to fathom now, I think we will again.

And of course, the wealthy and well-connected always find a way.

And of course, the wealthy and well-connected always find a way.

I keep hearing this argument over and over again and I just can't buy it.

I offer up a bit of my own family history as an example, my great great grand parents were wealthy land owners, well connected, part of the nobility and also a part of the government of Hungary at one time. During WWII my grandfather still in charge of family estate at the time and a politically well connected doctor had to gather his entire family and they had to flee on foot through Germany because of political upheaval in Hungary at the time. They lost everything wealth,land, prestige, connections etc..they barely survived.

Being wealthy and well connected can change very fast to not being so and then you're lucky to stay alive. I don't think the wealthy and well connected in the US are immune to the vagaries of fate should there be major social upheaval in the works. Some will be lucky some will not. Just remember Taleb's turkey.

Keep the Republic. We need a new Constitutional Convention to refine the laws for today's world. It'll never happen of course, but the alternative will be to scrap the current system, and that's usually not pretty. The current system is FUBAR.

There is little that scares me more than "constitutional convention". We now have a national mythology wrapped around our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. People believe they are magical documents that guarantee all sorts of things, like, er, "rights".

Dumping the Constitution removes one of the cornerstone myths that gives this motly collection of self-centered, gun-totin' consumers any sense of community. It also opens the way for the powers that be to further consolidate their grip on power.

Scary stuff indeed.

Ghung & jjhman:

Something that is not very well known (and it is probably that way intentionally), yet is hiding out in plain sight:

It is quite possible for there to be another constitutional convention. It can all be done legally, without anything being done by either branch of Congress, or the White House, or the Supreme Court, to either make it happen; nor is there anything they can legally do to prevent it happening.

It is all right there in Article V:

or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;

A mere 2/3 of the state legislatures have it within their power to call a convention, and there is nothing that any of the three federal brances can do to stop it. Yes, this is only a convention for proposing "Amendments", but note that "amendments" is nowhere defined. There is no reason why the existing constitution cannot effectively be amended out of existance, and either replaced with something new altogether, or the Union dissolved allowing the 50 states to each go their own way. Note also that such "amendments" can be ratified either by 3/4 of the state legislatures or by constitutional conventions of 3/4 of the states (Congress gets to decide which way it will be, their ONLY say in the matter).

There is a reason why this language is in there, and it goes back to the original Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. It was a convention, called by the state legislatures, for the purpose of "amending" the original Articles of Confederation. Look what sort of "amendment" they came up with! They put this language in there because they wanted to make it possible for exactly the same sort of thing to be repeated in the future.

This is something I bet that none of you were EVER taught in school! Yet, there it is - hiding in plain sight.

Yes, in principle we could have a constitutional convention. But the odds are that if we did, some would try and sidetrack the whole thing by focusing on stuff like abortion, gays, guns. The whole thing would likely deadlock and never accomplish a thing.

The founding fathers had strong opinions of their own of course, and they had to make their own compromises (slavery is the most obvious example) in order to get something to pass.

Right now, yes, and I don't see anything like this being attempted any time soon. However, the day may come when the states start seeing a useless FedGov as costing more money to support than it is worth. When that tipping point is finally reached, you might be surprised how quickly everything happens, and how focused such a convention might actually be.

Sad story indeed about your family FM. But I think that was the point being made. Your family had wealth and was connected. But they weren't connected to the German political machine. It's not difficult to imagine some connected German family taking over your family's property. And after the war someone else connected to the then political machine took over. But your story does make one wonder who will displace who should we see such major shifts in "connections" in the US. Though small by comparison, consider the horse trading done of the health care bill. Some states appeared to be better "connected" than others. It's not difficult to imagine a future where those controlling energy and food in the US to be the next "connected" royalty.

my great great grand parents were wealthy land owners, well connected, part of the nobility

I'm amazing by the number of people I have talked to who have stories like this. Of course, North America is a place where most of the displaced nobility tended to flee after they were deposed by the unwashed rabble.

I used to own a house near a former Russian princess. She was a nice little old lady in a tiny house on a big lot. When she died, the city bought part of her property and turned it into a nice little park with a monument in her memory (the rest became the site of yet another yuppie mansion). This is probably as good as it gets for former Russian princesses.

My next-door neighbor where I am now was a child in an affluent family living east of Berlin when the Russian Army rolled over them at the end of WWII. He has some interesting stories, notably the fact that most of the invaders were Cossacks on horseback. Fortunately the Cossacks liked kids and gave them food to eat. Unfortunately, they raped all the women. The most interesting thing about his story is that they got their property back after West Germany took over East Germany, and the rent on it makes a nice pension.

In my own case, on my mother's side they were wealthy landowners in Europe. Their problem was that the mortgage on the estate was worth more than the estate. The eldest son went mad, and the four youngest sons emigrated to North American. The family mansion, which had 32 bedrooms, was torn down for lumber. The property, which extended over three mountain valleys, has since been broken up into 33 separate farms. And I think the most important point is that my grandfather walked away from it without the slightest regret. He could get far more farmland far cheaper in the new world, and he could live on it debt-free.


Trying to figure out what TPTB stands for.

TPTB = The Powers That Be.

I Google a lot of acronyms.

We've seen the communism model fail in "normal" times.

What 'communism model'? What 'failure'? The states that are 'failed communist states' - were they actual communist states or just had that label and were some other model?

And your "" about "normal" - what is normal?

Do the 10 planks of the communist manifesto make for a communist model? The 10 planks of the communist manifesto - how many of them are in force in the US of A? If a majority of the 10 planks are implemented, then is the US of A in a 'failure' mode?

Re: Chinese firm says won't pay Goldman on options losses

Goldman Sachs was one of the foreign banks, along with Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, blamed by the state assets watchdog for providing "extremely complicated" and difficult to understand derivatives products.

What Confucius Said: On Greed and the Public Good

When the great principle prevails the world is a Commonwealth in which rulers are selected according to their wisdom and ability. Mutual confidence is promoted and good neighborliness cultivated. Hence men do not regard as parents only their own parents nor do they treat as children only their own children. Provision is secured for the agéd till death, employment for the able bodied and the means of growing up for the young. Helpless widows and widowers, orphans and the lonely as well as the sick and disabled are well cared for. Men have their respective occupations and women their homes. They do not like to see wealth lying idle, yet they do not keep it for their own gratification. They despise indolence, yet they do not use their energies for their own benefit. In this way, selfish schemings are repressed, and robbers, thieves and other lawless men no longer exist, and there is no need for people to shut their outer doors. This is the great harmony.

Didn't Confucius also have something to say about not buying into something that's too complicated to figure out with an abacus?

When are we going to start locking up the Banksters?!

When are we going to start locking up the Banksters?!

I would still like to hear what happens to the owners of the failed banks that the FDIC shuts down. Do they make money on the closure or do they lose their shirt? Seems only fair that they lose their shirt (and then some)...

Heh they could have to stand in front of Home Depot and do day labor, except no one would hire the light-fingered so-and-so's.

The whole idea of limited companies is so that people like the banksters are not held liable ....

Re: Arctic Could Face Warmer and Ice-Free Conditions

This is an interesting finding. About 3 million years BP was the beginning of the present Ice Age cycles, with ice covering many parts of the Northern Hemisphere for thousands of years and occasional warm Interglacials such as we presently enjoy. There is a link at the bottom of the press release to a published report with more details.

Might it be that the warmth of the Arctic Ocean resulted in the transition to Ice Age conditions? And, does this portend a near term return to such Ice Age conditions as a result of AGW?

E. Swanson

The article linked makes sense to me, however, I am not an expert and cannot stamp okay on it since it is a random website.

Will global warming lead to an 'ice age'

Ice Ages follow a pattern which is established by variations in the patterns of the Earth's Orbit around the sun and variations in the earth's tilt and rotation. The Earth does not follow a perfectly circular orbit, but rather it follows an eccentric elliptical orbit, with a cycle of one hundred thousand years. The amount of sun light reaching the earth varies depending on how extreme the distance of the earth is at the maximum of the elliptic as well as the variation of distance during each season. The earth also wobbles as it spins, up to 23.5 degrees, a cycle which takes 41,000 years. This wobble also causes the position of the earth in its elliptical orbit to change, a phenemona known as the precession of equinoxes, which follows a cycle of 23,000 years.

Ice Ages occur when all three of these factors are in favorable alignment resulting in the least amount of summer warmth in the Northern hemisphere when summer occurs at the farthest point in the Earth's elliptical orbit. Summer temperatures therefore plunge to winter like conditions, and snow accumulates from year to year rather than melting. Similarly, the ice age ends when the process is the opposite, resulting in increased summer heat, and summers which take place at the closest point in the elliptical orbit.

The quoted text describes the basics of the Milankovitch orbital cycles. The Ice Age transition around 3.3 million years BP may have been the result of the closure of the Isthmus of Panama and the resulting changes in ocean circulation which can be seen in today's Gulf Stream. The rest of the page isn't what one would call scientific...

E. Swanson

Interesting, I didn't realize how much I didn't know -- isn't that always the problem?

As for the original question, my cursory reading of climate cycles, leads me to answer, "heck, I have no idea what happens next." Is it possible that GHG levels will not fall to a level to allow an ice age for tens of thousands of years, if not more?

Here is the primer I enjoyed reading regarding this question: Past Climate Cycles: Ice Age Speculations

Here's a little more primer-level detail: How the Isthmus of Panama Put Ice in the Arctic. It's more than GHG alone; if there's another major warm period in the future it will look different from the last one in the past because the oceans are configured differently.

The Isthmus of Panama is a perturbation on a 200-300 ppmv CO2 atmosphere. For 390 ppmv it is no longer an issue (actually the greenhouse gas load is over 430 ppmv). At the end of the day the energetics matter the most. No one can claim that the current sea ice in the Arctic is keeping us in an ice age.

The coupled models all suffer from poor ocean models. In particular the viscosity is typically too high. They all do a poor job with ENSO and you know that there is much room left for improvement when cranking down at least part of the eddy diffusion tensor produces noticeable improvements. This article touches on the issues with ocean models


So it is no big surprise they are not predicting the Arctic ice melt very well.

One fact that needs to be repeated and often is that we still have not seen the full extent of the warming from current greenhouse gas loading (390 ppmv CO2, 1.7 ppmv CH4, etc). The oceans still have not equilibrated with these levels and it will take many more decades. In the meantime we are going to crank up CO2 levels like there is no tomorrow and, given the reduced sink capacity of the oceans and land masses in the future, we will more than likely exceed 700 ppmv CO2 by 2100. The Earth has not seen current greenhouse levels for 15 million years and there is good reason to think that we will see massive release of permafrost sequestered CH4 before 2100. The Eocene thermal maximum had CO2 levels of 1100 ppmv and when we release enough CH4 we will ensure that this level is reached again.

Not only are we already in a climate regime that means that the Greenland ice sheet will disappear we are also going to reach a state by 2100 where the Antarctic ice sheet will no longer be sustainable either. That both may still be melting during 2500 does not spare us from the now inevitable 25 meter seal level rise. The original IPCC forecast of 50 cm sea level rise by 2100 based solely on thermal expansion was simply inane. The current forecast is still absurdly conservative and ignores the obvious underestimation of ice sheet instability. We will be very lucky to only see 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100.

Talk about setting off an ice age is not based on any science. The ice ages are linked to the greenhouse loading of the atmosphere (look it up). Events such as the Younger-Dryas are transient and irrelevant since we will not see the fresh water flux produced by ice dam failures 12000 years ago.

A lot of articles today on how advertising isn't enough to support the media any more...

Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites

Over more than a decade, consumers became accustomed to the sweet, steady flow of free news, pictures, videos and music on the Internet. Paying was for suckers and old fogeys. Content, like wild horses, wanted to be free.

Now, however, there are growing signs that this free ride is drawing to a close.

Broadcasters' woes could spell trouble for free TV

NEW YORK – For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer.

The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks' programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming.

Broadcasters Battling for Cable Fees

The News Corporation is threatening to remove its Fox stations from Time Warner Cable systems at the end of this week if the cable company does not agree to pay sizable subscriber fees, the same way it does for cable channels. In negotiations, the News Corporation is pushing for about $1 a month for each subscriber, potentially setting a precedent for broadcasters that are seeking a new revenue stream to offset advertising declines.

This doesn't surprise me, really. Traditional media is barely hanging on these days, and they are hoping that they can squeeze a few $$ out of the cable systems.

But frankly I would rather not pay the cable systems for the local channels, and just use an antenna. Not that I watch those stations very much anyways - in reality I would barely notice if they all went away..

Edit: One other thought - broadcasters are probably paying way too much to televise sports on TV. They need to cut those costs way back, and they would probably be profitable again.

It's occurred to me that sports fans are getting something of a free ride. Only 18% of American TV viewers watch ESPN, but all of them pay for it. And it's the most expensive item on the cable menu. It's kind of like splitting the tab when most people are eating hamburgers, while one of five is eating lobster.

The people demanding "a la carte" cable pricing are mostly politically motivated: conservatives don't want to pay for smut, liberals don't want to pay for Fox News. But if it comes to pass, it's sports fans who are going to lose big.

My favorite paragraph from Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites is the last one:

“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned them loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

The MSM have abondoned news in favor of infotainment. They are reaping what they have sown because of the internet. Murdock's Fox News is the prime example. And the rest seem to be falling into lock step. Murdock is upset because his multi billion media empire based on the old model is turning to shit and he stands to lose big time.

News aggregators such as TOD's Drumbeat will have no problem finding foreign sources for news without paying. And news can not be monopolized today as it was in the past. Much of the news is just putting a different spin on what is common knowledge or knowledge shared by a group of interested readers.

Even the WSJ (which is owned by Murdock) is doing it with this self serving article. Murdock is living in the past. Let him charge for access to his drivel.

I doubt many will pay. They will simply get there news from foreign sources like the BBC or Russia Today:


Click on almost any of the stories to the right and you will find better reporting than in American MSM.

If BAU continues, I agree. But I don't expect BAU to continue. If Americans start flocking to overseas sites, I could see them starting to charge, too - or blocking US visitors. Many sites already do this - control who can view their content by blocking certain geographical areas.

The greatest roadblock to individual programming is the purported cost increases to users cited by cable and satillite companies as their reason for not offering such service. IMO, if such programming were offered, many cable and satillite stations would go bankrupt. Thus, there's a form of triangulation in place that denies such a needed modification to the public.

I agree, many stations would go bankrupt.

I'm a sports fan, and I probably would pay five times as much to watch my favorite teams, if a la carte became the law of the land. But I would also not pay for a lot of channels I don't care for: movies, network programming, etc. I suspect a lot of people would do the same, which would mean less money going to content providers overall.

However, if the economy gets really bad, they may be forced to concede on this issue, as people faced with "all or nothing" increasingly choose nothing.

However, if the economy gets really bad, they may be forced to concede on this issue, as people faced with "all or nothing" increasingly choose nothing.

I think Steve Jobs saw this when he insisted with the record company labels that the iTunes store be able to sell songs individually.

Only 18% of American TV viewers watch ESPN, but all of them pay for it.

It's more complicated than that. Only about 85% of TV households have subscription TV (cable/satellite) at all. A very sizable fraction of subscribers have only "basic" cable/satellite, that doesn't include ESPN. Once you move up to "expanded basic" and higher tiers, everyone is paying for ESPN whether they watch it or not, but the fraction that does watch is much higher than 18%. One of the reasons that ESPN can get away with charging such a high fee is that it has historically been the largest single reason for people upgrading from basic to expanded basic.

In addition, the per-sub fee paid by the cable/satellite company is on a sliding scale: the more subs you have buying tiers that include ESPN, the lower the per-sub fee you are charged. And the cable networks do funky things with bundling multiple channels: at least at one point, the per-sub fee for ESPN+ESPN2 was lower than the per-sub fee for ESPN alone. While Wikipedia may show a single per-sub fee for ESPN, the actual price sheet is enormously more complicated than that. Bundling has been widely studied; in many cases, only a small minority of subscribers (with very narrow viewing tastes) are better off under a la carte pricing than with the bundled price.

The biggest political hurdle to a la carte pricing is that the FCC would have to reverse its long-standing policy that basic and enhanced basic cable service must be available without a set top box (satellite service has never been subject to this restriction). The biggest technical hurdle to a la carte pricing is the antiquated billing systems used by the cable industry. Only a handful of companies write/support that type of software, most of the cable companies have contracts with those companies that run for decades, and none of those companies have any particular interest in taking on the expensive job of adding a la carte capabilities.

Around here, the basic package includes ESPN.

I think they had to do that, because otherwise, the young males so coveted by advertisers would simply not watch TV at all.

Might I ask where "here" is, and who the local cable provider is? I'm just curious, since such an arrangement would be highly unusual.

Northeastern US, Time-Warner Cable.

Leanan, this is probably why a la carte won't pass anytime soon. The people - no strike that - the gov't needs their "bread and circuses" and ESPN is a major provider of the circus part.

I am a NFL fan, (less each year it seems) but I think if they powers that be decided to do this, more fans would migrate to watching on the internet.

The average fan is not going to watch on the Internet. The official offerings are subject to blackout rules. There are ways around that, but the average American is not able or willing to jump through those hoops.

The Internet allows far more control over the viewers than TV (at least where the average viewer is concerned).

So how soon before you all start charging us to read the content on The Oil Drum?
I mean all of us have noticed a significant drop in advertising on this site, it can only be a matter of time ;-)

Seriously though I have to wonder what the business plan is going to be when it becomes more obvious that consumers won't pay for all the crap that some of them might have been willing to watch for free in the past. Not to mention that advertisers aren't getting a return on their advertising dollars because the consumers can't afford to buy what they are selling anyway.

Does anyone else get the impression that there is going to be less and less superfluous consumption from here on out and the business model that relies on advertising is entering a permanent downward death spiral?

I know I'm an outlier but I quit watching TV and all MSM years ago I don't even watch it online. I don't listen to advertisers and buy most of what I need, used at flea markets and garage sales. I guess I'm just plain bad for the economy...Rupert Murdoch, I salute you with middle finger raised, you wrinkled old scrooge!

As I understand it...we had to drop the advertising when we became a non-profit organization. (The ads just covered the hosting fees anyway.)

We are now supported by donations.

I could foresee a future where donations and ad revenue would dry up to the point that many sites would have to shut down...including this one. Hosting fees for a high-traffic site are not cheap, and I doubt we would be able to pay for them out of pocket...especially since we'll probably have less discretionary income ourselves if the economy's that bad.

Sounds to me like it is almost time for all the readers (including me) to click the "Donate" button on the top left hand side of the screen?
Yes, that means ALL of us!

Support The Oil Drum
Click the button to learn about supporting The Oil Drum with a secure donation.

I wasn't begging for money. We're all right now. We've got a sugar daddy or three. ;-) The economy is not great, and this time of year money is often tight, and we totally understand that.

I was just pointing out that somehow, content must be paid for. Ads, subscriptions, donations...somehow, the bills must be paid. I know some people think I'm nuts because I think the 'net might go dark, but this is the reason: content. Someone is paying for every site on the net, whether a huge one like Wikipedia or all those tiny blogs that get only a few hits a week. If it becomes clear that money can't be made, or if the web site owner can no longer pay the bills, the plug will be pulled. I don't see electricity to run the net as the major threat; it's the lack of willingness to pay for Internet access, as the content becomes scarcer and staler.

However, that's something fairly far in the future (IMO). There is no urgent need for cash now (at least for this site).

But the net IS going dark, and no one seems to notice, although it's right in front of their eyes. Censorship, paywalls, emails that get through less reliably, the gradual loss of the ability to refer others to sites one finds interesting, etc.

Joe Public is losing his job, so no more net. Joe Sysadmin is losing revenue, so they gear back on features or I think more typically, they keep their site going until they wake up one morning under a bridge and the site dies because the host company didn't get paid. I've seen a lot of this personally.


That is a very interesting observation. My own internet use is narrowly directed at suppliers of parts, and so far they are happy to sell stuff to anybody from the websites.

However, I'm seeing some disturbing signs in the physical world. One is that the suppliers are now very thinly staffed, and good ruddy luck talking to a person, much less a person who knows about that particular widget. The remaining staff is deluged with phone calls.

The other thing I'm seeing is that winter and some bad storms have caused a lot of building service calls: roofs, leaks, etc. The interesting thing is the number of commercial and multifamily buildings which have, on close inspection, been failing for quite a while. It's as if multiple persons put a straw into the building stock and sucked out money for years, going back to what was considered boom time at the time.

If my small city north of nowhere is any representative sample, we may be surprised at how quickly we start to see catastrophic building envelope failures of big box stores, office buildings, etc.

This is an example of what I call bio-degradable Suburbia. Design life before major repairs was 30 years (perhaps 15+ years ago), now 20 years.

Look at most early 1900s and 1800s civic or commercial structures, built to last as long as possible.


My guess is that in the 22nd century, most of those early 1900s and 1800s civic & commercial structures will still be standing. It will be those built in the late 1900s and early 2000s that will be gone. I doubt that there will be a historic preservation movement to save them, either.

A lot of those CRE buildings were considered essentially disposable. I have seen more than one seemingly perfectly good retail building bulldozed to make way for something that is just about the same size, but merely looks different. Insane.

I have not been seeing this phenomenon lately, and hopefully I've seen the last of it - the demolishing to replace, that is. Because they were built to be disposable, they probably will fall apart and have to be condemned very quickly.

Bandwidth has been getting cheaper and cheaper, I can purchase bandwidth for as low as $1.50/mbit. I don't think the internet is going any where, that infrastructure isn't just going to shut down.

You didn't have to drop advertising. That's a common misconception but it hinges on whether the advertising income is construed as related income. If it is, then you don't have to pay tax on it. If it isn't, you have to pay tax on it. But you can still take in the money and even make a profit (despite their name "non-profits" are allowed to make a profit).

No big deal. Just talk to your accountant and if you have to, pay the tax. But if you make sure that the revenue doesn't represent too much of the total revenue then you probably won't have to pay the tax.


(I've got six organizations in my affiliate program and two of them are non-profits. All are hosting "advertising" for my courses.)

I understand the ratio of advertising income to contributions is limited, and contributions aren't all that high, which is why we are not doing much advertising (the exception being TOD: Europe). Also, because we were finishing up the process of getting approved, we were concerned about "dotting i's and crossing t's".

I am fairly certain we could use donations, so if people would like to contribute before year end (so as to get a US tax deduction for 2009), that would be a good idea. At one point I heard discussion about having some sort of special fund raising effort, but I haven't seen anything further on the subject. Like Leanan, I am not directly involved in this--the group that is involved with finances is Prof. Goose, SuperG, and Nate.

All of my friends in the pacific NW are tuning the MSM garbage out and saluting with the same fingers.

The News Corporation is threatening to remove its Fox stations from Time Warner Cable systems at the end of this week if the cable company does not agree to pay sizable subscriber fees, the same way it does for cable channels. In negotiations, the News Corporation is pushing for about $1 a month for each subscriber, potentially setting a precedent for broadcasters that are seeking a new revenue stream to offset advertising declines.

They tried that in the UK - BSkyB had a spat with Virgin Media (who became the only cable player, after they bought out ntl, and then merged with TeleWest), and, for nearly a year the "free" Sky channels (Sky one, two and three; Sky News) were unavailable on cable (but were still available on satellite), as Virgin refused to pay £1 per month per subscriber. Since they were also not available on Freeview, it turned out that BSkyB needed Virgin more than the other way round - IIRC, something over 50% of all Sky one viewers saw it via cable, rather than satellite (even though more people had satellite - probably to do with the number of channels diluting share).

Even now, the current viewer figures (http://www.barb.co.uk/report/weeklyViewingSummary?_s=4) show that Sky one has a 0.9% share.

In other words, all Murdoch's posturing doesn't hide the fact that no-one really watches his channels.


I don't think it would unfold the same way here. Fox is pretty popular. In particular, they carry a lot of sports, like football, baseball, etc.

It will be interesting to watch if they're serious about it. In most markets, about two-thirds of the viewers of "over the air" signals are actually watching via cable/satellite. Who blinks first if the local cable company just drops their signal? The cable company may lose some subs to satellite; the local Fox affiliate is almost guaranteed to lose a large amount of its advertising revenue.

We are already caught in the middle of a licensing fee spat between DirecTV and Comcast. We lost Versus back in Oct because they couldn't come to an agreement, and still no resolution. TSHTF in the spring when the NHL playoffs come on, and then again in July during the Tour de France.

Some might argue that Comcast is trying to stick it to DirecTV as it is a direct competitor to Comcast. If they can get DirecTV customers to bail and sign up with Comcast then they also win. In our area, Comcast isn't even the provider - the alternatives are Cox and Verizon.

The upcoming purchase of NBC by Comcast doesn't bode well for the future...

When Sky (Murdoch) pulled his channels from Virgin Cable he did not pull the Sky Sports or Movie Channels which were premium channels. Had the sports channels gone I think a lot more people would have switched from cable to satellite. If you phoned up to cancel after the "free" Sky channels disappeared, Virgin offered lots of stuff for free to replace it. I get £20 ($30) of upgraded services as a "loyalty bonus" every month for free even though all the Sky channels are now back.

Two 1250 mW reactors

Them Crafty Chinese and their 1.250 watt reactors!

Following up on my post of a few days ago charting the revised Oil Megaprojects Wiki data, this is the accumulated shortfall in supply, given a decline rate of 4.35% in 2009 that is growing 1%:

Date	Additions Decline Diff Accumulated
2009	4742	-3718	1024	
2010	3230	-3755	-525	498.83
2011	3114	-3793	-679	-1203.89
2012	2275	-3831	-1556	-2759.54
2013	2400	-3869	-1469	-4228.49
2014	2350	-3908	-1558	-5786.13
2015	2830	-3947	-1117	-6902.85
2016	1085	-3986	-2901	-9804.04
2017	162	-4026	-3864	-13668.09
2018	130	-4066	-3936	-17604.4
2019	0	-4107	-4107	-21711.37
2020	200	-4148	-3948	-25659.41

My previous post concerned the observed discrepancy between the figures given on the Wiki front page and what values were obtained by tallying the projects on the individual pages. The front page needs an update, apparently. Many projects have been delayed, some have been canceled.

For spare capacity the IEA and EIA give different figures of 5.35 and 3.97 mb/d respectively. So by 2013 demand will be inexorably ahead of supply, if the EIA figure is correct, barring a further drop in demand, or projects that either haven't been included in the wiki, or are vetted now and brought online by that date. Bit of a horse race the industry will be in, if that's the case. The average time for completion of a project is more on the order of 4-6 years; and a whole slew of rigs are headed for offshore Brazil, likely having an impact on drilling elsewhere.

Would like to hear from Sam or Ace or Euan or Rembrandt about this! I hope an article from one or all of them is in the works.

A project I did a bit of work on was compiling the featured fields in the AAPG's Explorer bulletin; every January they highlight the major finds of the year, according to IHS data. It would be interesting to see how many of them are showing up in the Wiki as actual production.

This is indeed alarming. However I note the Megaprojects database indicates Iraq will only produce an additional 760,000 barrels per day. Should this amount be increased to reflect the recent awarding of contracts and planned production targets? Also, is the Megaprojects database 100% comprehensive or is there additional production from fields not listed? Finally, is there empirical support for the 4.35% decline rate for total production? I'm researching timing and magnitude of oil shortfalls for an investment strategy. I downloaded the 2008 Joint Operating Environment (JOE) prepared by the US Joint Forces Command and they predicted a shortfall of as much as 10mb/d by as early 2015 so your cumulative estimate seems pretty close to the mark.

Very interesting. A question I have is: how likely is it that future additions will actually be close to what is predicted here? Obviously the numbers for the years farther out will be greater than what is currently anticipated (eg, at least some additional megaproject capacity will likely come online in 2019). So does anyone have a method for estimating the future change in these numbers - for instance, by looking at past projections of future additions and seeing how they actually played out?

JayZee - Iraq is such a wild card who knows how their production will evolve. You could perhaps throw out odds that their production will rise sharply based on the three historical rise-from-the-dead moves it's shown, but how rigorous is that? Much depends on the country stabilizing in some manner, of course; and the status of the infrastructure is very shaky over there. There's much of interest to read at this site: Iraq Oil Forum

Incandenza - That sounds like something that would take an excellent database and some heavy analysis to quantify. Perhaps Jean Laherrère has done work along those lines; or it may be included in studies of recovery factor or the like. Very likely there's something in an SPE paper somewhere.

The last update article on the wiki done here showed how the database had changed over time, in a very nice graph. But it hasn't been in existence long enough for us to really see trends evolve. Again, it's almost certain there's a paper somewhere examining project timelines in depth. Beats me where, though. As I indicate, even something as prosaic as determining how likely discoveries are to become real production is something I'm having to do informally; I've never seen the like offered from any of the energy agencies. Maybe if I keep whining about it someone will chime in! And half of my analysis would be courtesy of the work of others.

I will check with staff members about this. I think several are on vacation now. Sam Foucher is usually the one who runs the program that updates the totals, as I recall.

I am sure someone will want to look at the Iraq awards, and decide what to do with them.

I don't think the Iraq awards are planned projects yet. That is they just awarded the contracts to work the areas. I may be mistaken but I think even a lot of seismic work still need to be done. Then there still will have to be wildcat wells drilled. Despite the rosy predictions put out by the Iraqi Oil Ministry I think it may be two decades before most of this comes to fruition.

Ron P.

Problems with the chart:
1 First accumulated negative value in your chart is wrong (sign problem, 498+(-679) = -181) and therefore all following are wrong, too.
2 There is a 5 or six-year event horizon that hides future events. Companies and countries fund projects that mostly take 5-6 years to come fully on line, so most projects that will come on line after 2015 are not yet known. This is why there is a sudden decline in additions in 2016, a better point to stop the chart is 2015 beyond which it has no validity.

Spare capacity:
I think spare capacity is overstated.
IMO the world had no spare capacity in 2008 and was producing every barrel possible in response to high price.
Per EIA, in 2009 the world produced 1Mb/d less than 2008, IMO this was the world's spare capacity in early 2009.
In 2009 new production exceeded world decline by 1Mb/d (per your table).
Total spare capacity end 2009 is therefore 2Mb/d

So, according to your table, we will consume the 2Mb/d spare capacity by mid-2012 (-525 -679 - 1524/2 = -1966.

New Existing Accum
Project Field Spare
Date Additions Decline Differential Capacity
2009 1000 Early 2009
2009 4742 -3718 1024 2024
2010 3230 -3755 -525 1499
2011 3114 -3793 -679 820
2012 2275 -3831 -1556 -736 Problem here
2013 2400 -3869 -1469 -2205
2014 2350 -3908 -1558 -3763
2015 2830 -3947 -1117 -4880
2016 -3986 Additions unknown
2017 -4026
2018 -4066
2019 -4107
2020 -4148

Meanwhile, however, we are adding to storage every day. The situation is not stable, I expect lower prices in 2010 but a ramp back to high prices beginning early or mid-2011.

Question for the production watchers...where is the production information on individual fields on Pemex web site? They must release it, since the media reports it.

David Shields can probably help. I sent him an email and copied you.

Pemex SIE : :: Sistema de Información Energética You have to suss out some Spanish to get where you're going -"PRODUCTIONA HYRDOCARBONIS" or the like. Not too difficult. You can't feed the site through Google Translator, either.

Thanks. I thought the problem might be that you have to know some Spanish.

Pemex es jodido?

You can go to a Mexican government site:
El Sistema de Información Energética

(I don't know Spanish, but it was easy to interpret what to do)

Enter the site at the bottom: 'ENTRAR'.

Then go the sidebar and select the sequence:
Informacion Estadistica > HIDROCARBUROS > Petróleo crudo

There will be a whole list of information with the third item referencing the production history of individual fields--"campos". To change the beginning and ending date, select the "f(x)" button.

The information is an embedded spreadsheet in the webpage, so it will give you a server time-out at some point if you leave the page open. I usually go back to the main SIE page and start over.

I tried before to track Cantarell's decline by news reports, but the information was too scattered and inconsistent. PEMEX's site is fine for total output, but not individual fields. I think the SIE site is great for its transparency.

Hope this helps.

Sorry for the duplicate information. I was writing my post up, and now I see it was nalready answered.

No, your post was quite helpful. The step by step information is very useful.

Arthur Berman wanted to know. (He's recently joined our staff.) I forwarded the information to him.

Re: Economides, linked uptop

The hapless Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, the would-be airliner bomber, should be more the subject of bemused pity rather than a national mobilization. He literally and figuratively castrated himself and the movement he represents.

IMO, "bemused pity" is a tad premature. The first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center also failed. As I understand it, the primary reason that there was not a substantial explosion on this plane was because the detonator failed. ABC showed a video of 50 grams of PETN, within a plane, properly detonated, and it was quite an explosion. Reportedly, this guy had something like 80 grams.

ABC video: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=9437470

Also a tad premature: 11 million barrels per day from Iraq.

Oh wait, he covered himself with a beautifully executed double-dog qualifier: "perhaps the most potentially prolific"...

My bad ;)

Yep the Yemen connection includes ties to the Fort Hood killings. This foreshadowing in the video release, and the slick graphics with the young bomber featured soon after the attack show some level of organization. The unrest there with the proximity of Yemen to SA and supply routes makes it yet another ground zero. It apprears the US has been striking bases there recently.


Anwar Eshki, the head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies based in Jiddah, said al-Qaida in Yemen "is stronger than it was a year ago and is turning Yemen into its base for operations against the West." Eshki's centre closely follows al-Qaida in Yemen.

"Yemen is al-Qaida's last resort," Eshki said. "There's no doubt that al-Qaida's presence in Yemen is more dangerous than its presence in Afghanistan."

'Hooks in the jaws'. To me it is evident that one day the US will be forced to disengage from the ME, but at what point, and at what new level of sustainability?

edit; couple more recent PBS videos on situation in Yemen. One is from tonight's broadcast.


Over the next decade, Iraqi oil production is expected to top 11 million barrels per day, quadrupling the current production of 2.5 million barrels per day and vying to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer. In the process it will make a mockery of the constantly re-surfacing Peak Oil talk.

Michael Economides expects Iraq to do this? He must be about the only person with any knowledge of the oil industry who does so.

Let's just pull some figures out of the air. According to http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/185/40588.html Iraq had 250 wells producing an average of 13500 barrels per day per well in 1980. (Yes, that's the latest half-way reliable data I could find). Let's be optimistic, and assume new wells can produce as much, even though they don't anywhere else in the world.

To produce an additional 7.5 million barrels per day, we would need 555 new wells in the next ten years, or about one per week. For a well every two months (a pretty good pace) they would need about eight additional rigs (I know they probably have a few rigs working now, but the effort they are putting in seems to be barely sustaining the current production). Quite a plausible scenario.

But new Saudi wells are only averaging about 3000 barrels per day. Why would we expect Iraq to do better? With that kind of production per well, Iraq needs to be drilling 2500 new producing wells in the next decade, close to one well per day (especially if you allow for an optimistic 80% success ratio). That would mean putting over fifty new rigs to work. They don't have the rigs, they don't have the experienced workers, and I doubt they have the development geologists to determine where to drill, or even enough engineers to design the drilling and completion for each well.

And that's ignoring obvious problems like getting fuel for the rigs -- Iraq imports virtually all their refined products -- or people shooting at workers.

Also, much of Iraq's known and potential production is in areas disputed between the central government and the Kurds. Are they going to sit down and agree?

Expecting Iraq to quadruple oil production is about as optimistic as expecting the U.S. Congress to balance the budget.

And financing all of that at that pace ?

My only question is if Saddam was sitting on the next Saudi Arabia and was also a friend of the US for a long time given the war with Iran why on earth did he not just develop out his oil fields and then make his power grab ?

Why invade Kuwait because they where stealing his oil ?

The US is notorious for being very forgiving of dictators with lots of oil one would think we would have at least worked hard to become very good friends. All these decades nothing ?

We let the next Saudi Arabia just sit around for years and years ?

I don't think so.

Good point this.

My only question is if Saddam was sitting on the next Saudi Arabia and was also a friend of the US for a long time given the war with Iran why on earth did he not just develop out his oil fields and then make his power grab ?

Why invade Kuwait because they where stealing his oil ?

But what if the US put the restrictions on Iraqi oil exports to save the oil in the ground for now?

We let the next Saudi Arabia just sit around for years and years ?

Saddam was a Madman and perhaps he had delusions of controlling enough ME oil to make the US squirm.

Very good deductions Porge but none can relate.

Thats almost like saying that the US is involved in "Demand Destruction" (aka. destroying infrastructure and killing people) and we all know that that is not possible...right?


You finally got me back!
I thought it was elephants that didn't forget not depressive donkeys.

Regarding wells per day.
But if many different companies are developing simultaneously?

Has the entirety of Iraq even been surveyed yet?

In the New York Times article today on the West Qurna 2 oil field in Iraq (which describes essentially the same news that is described in the link above to the article "Lukoil-led group signs deal for prized Iraqi oilfield" in The Washington Post), has this statement that I didn't see in the Washington Post article, and which is also relevant to the prediction by Economides:

Iraq currently produces 2.5 million barrels a day, of which about 1.9 million are exported. But analysts said the country could more than triple that level of production over the coming decade.

So, 2.5 mb/d x 3 = 7.5 million barrels per day, not exactly 11 million barrels per day. Even if the amount eventually produced is "more than triple," it's still seems to be a longshot for Iraq to ramp up in the way that Economides says it will.

"Aging Suburbs Lose Appetite For Driving" lol

I know, I know, we passed Peak Literacy long ago, probably in the 1950s or 60s.

So if the author used the term "Suburbanites", common a few decades ago, it would sound odd. So now if you live in the suburbs, you're a "suburb". This is the same rule that makes a homeless person "a homeless" or poor, "a poor". It probably started with terms like "the rich" or "the poor" when it's probably more proper to speak of "poor people" etc.

Damn suburbs, my town's full of those clueless suburbs .... you should have seen this suburb driving, went right over the planter .... Yeah, Starbuck's coffee is good, if you're a suburb ...

I'm gonna spread this around, this is fun!

I like to hurl epithets, but I have run out of new ones. But this one I like, calling someone a "suburb". I plan to use it this week. Probably use it on my brother in-law.

Are these the guys driving around in Chevy Suburbans?

More like 'Denali Denial' - Chris Jordan

Denali Denial, 2006
Depicts 24,000 logos from the GMC Yukon Denali, equal to six weeks of sales of that model SUV in 2004.

If you want the full impact it is in the Running the Numbers An American Self-Portrait series at http://www.chrisjordan.com/

If ever a picture was worth a thousand words multiply that by 24,000!

From the article above;
Michael J. Economides: The Botched Airline Bombing and Our National Nervous Breakdown, is this,

Over the next decade, Iraqi oil production is expected to top 11 million barrels per day, quadrupling the current production of 2.5 million barrels per day and vying to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer. In the process it will make a mockery of the constantly re-surfacing Peak Oil talk.

Every time I see a new article on 'potential' extraction out of Iraq the total rises ever more. Now the ballpark estimate has reached a whopping 11+ mbd! Is it really possible that Saddam was that much of an idiot and just sat on all that oil?

The 2nd point is all that suggested potential oil out of Iraq will apparently make a mockery out of any further peak oil talk. Are we then to presume that without all this new Iraqi predicted oil production, peak oil would in fact warrant itself as a real concern? If so, then a whole hell of a lot sure is riding on Iraq becoming another Saudia Arabia. Wow, can't wait to see how this one turns out.

I suppose the next time an article comes out on Iraqi oil, it will project 12-14 mbd. At this rate, by next year articles on Iraqi oil will be expecting 27 mbd for a hundred years.

Well, we didn't have to wait long for an article claiming 12 mbd planned extraction out of Iraq. Here it is:

ukoil-led group signs deal for prized Iraqi oilfield

BAGHDAD/OSLO (Reuters) - A group led by Russian energy firm Lukoil signed an initial deal on Tuesday to develop Iraq's West Qurna Phase Two oilfield, as its partner in the venture Statoil said it had increased its stake.
Iraq awarded 10 oilfield development contracts to global oil firms in two energy auctions this year. If they come to fruition, the deals could more than quadruple Iraqi oil output capacity to about 12 million barrels per day.

So we've gone from articles claiming 6 mbd, then it went to 6-8, then 8-10, 11 and now 12 all in the span of a few weeks! Can they do the same for my bank account?

so i got this 3 KW PV solar system on my roof. trouble is i have an all electric house, except for my wood burning stove. the numbers i see bantered about on the oil conundrum, even those linked to some other site, all have to be taken on faith. yes, faith, just like faith needed for religion. all i know is that if i could get an additional 6 KW on my roof for $25,000 without a gubbermint subsidy i would do it. 9KW (3+6)would just about give me zero electric bills. and that is the problem. installation of solar PV is too expensive. prices have to drop 50%. that is the number i want to see as reality. and what are the factors preventing 6KW for $25,000? i dont know. another number i can witness myself is the price of auto fuel. i buy fuel at least once a week just to go to work. where it comes from and how much is left in the world are abstracts. even on the oil conundrum evidence is presented that conflicts with each other. fuel prices to go up, fuel prices to go down. shortages now, shortages later, no shortages. it just seems the truth wont be know by all and sundry until it happens.

now i figger a nation, an unnamed nation, that uses 20 million gallons or barrels or bushels of anything every day has it's future
numbered. the earth is a finite sphere. it is not made up of the something that will run a nation. it is made up of other stuff. that is to say everything has a limit of usability.

now, i made my decision to put 3KW of solar power on my roof. i only regret that it is just 3KW. 6KW would have been ideal but 3 years ago upfront costs were $50,000. i was in an unusual situation in as much i had $25,000 laying around waiting to be "wasted". i submit that most uhmerikans dont have $25,000 laying around to be wasted.
nope. so PV systems arent sprouting up like mushruins (sic).

the great state of NJ had rain on saturday. it washed my panels clean. they pumped out juice on sunday. today tuesday was bright sun so more juice. thursday, NYE, i fire up the stove and burn wood for
3 days.

i think i will buy a bottle of bubbly for the occasion and consume it.

gubbermint is run by crooks for crooks. SN@RX!

what are the factors preventing 6KW for $25,000?

I'd like to see that price range myself. Disclaimer I sell and install PV systems, if the price came down to that level without a subsidy I'd have way more business than I could possibly handle.

Question how comfortable would you be doing your own installation?

There's a fellow on eBay selling 200w panels for $400 plus shipping (maybe Evergreen blems). That's $2 a peak watt. Using those non-grid tie panels, a 6kw batch would cost $12,000 or about half the noted figure. Am I missing something here???

E. Swanson

There's an outfit in Miami that's selling limited quantities of panels for $1.74 a watt. They might be the same people your referring to since they do have a 200W panel (Evergreen blems) on ebay for $400 and they've even got some thin film panels going for 98c a watt which they claim they're going fast (no doubt). I've bought stuff from them but, I wonder since they're basically in Fred's back yard, if he has dealt with them. For the past couple of years their stuff has been consistently the lowest priced I could find on the web notwithstanding the fact that much of it is not UL listed so will not qualify for grid connected systems in the US. Using their $1.74 per watt 6kW would work out to just $10,500 plus shipping.

Alan from the islands

What have you seen as the typical range of watts on residential systems?

Doesn't 6 to 9kw seem kind of hefty? I have to think that Humbaba must have a lot of economizing he could be doing instead of just building up that much production.. if you're wanting some 30+ KWH a day, a lot of that must be going into heating, which would be just silly to do with PV and not Solar Heating..

I'm a little mystified by this string of posts by him (her?) anyway. We've heard a lot about this disappointing system, to what end..?


Question to PV seller. How come PV is rated by peak watt, when what the customer wants is kW-hrs?? Around here, you have to divide the peak watts by about 7-8 to get average watts, which then gives you kW-hrs/year, a meaningful number.

And when you do that, the cost/kW-hr is big.

So big it makes you want to buy that neat wood fired stirling I have been working on since the assassination of Garfield--but making progress, yeah.

PS- thanks for all your good comments here.

PPS. I would be quite happy with PV self-installation, since when it all goes up in a blue flash and a cloud of smoke, I can blame the whole mess on lack of government support of thermal machines.

You can probably get 6 KW of PV for $25K if you do it yourself.

Panels are a bit more than $2.50 / watt, $15,000 for 6 KW.

Xantrex XW 6048 for $3,400


Anybody in the market for a train station?


Now here is an article worthy of attention:

From Google news I found this weird science website article:


Jimmy Carter started an algal biofuel R&D program, but the funding for it dried up in later years and most of the algal strains died from lack of funding to maintain their live cultures. Most of the information from the research was also lost. Just as they were close to attempting a large scale experiment, the funding stopped. Oh boy, I tell you Carter was ahead of his time. It's so unfortunate and absurd that he's maligned by the right as one of the worst despots in human history.

"The real shame is that of those 3,000, there are maybe 100 to 150 strains that remain at the University of Hawaii,” said Al Darzins, who heads up the resurgent algal biofuels research program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

New funding in the recent stimulus package by Obama has reignited an effort to regain traction on this extremely important research. But one must realize that once Romney or some other right winged Republican gets into office, the program will be defunded and we'll be right back where we started, talking about peak oil consequences.

The old algae bio-fuel research program hit a serious snag. It wasn't that the algae weren't available to produce a desirable product, it was that the large scale of the operations dictated the use of open ponds. Because of this, there was a constant battle to maintain the desired species of algae in the ponds as wild algae would migrate into the open ponds and take over the space.

To isolate a particular algae species from such invasion requires a massive construction project, using clear materials such as plastics to create the containment vessels. The capital cost of these would be staggering if spread over an area large enough to produce a useful amount of bio-fuel. Maintenance, such as periodic cleaning the windows into the enclosed vessels, becomes an expensive headache. If some reasonable solution to the containment problem is found, perhaps algae based bio-fuels will be produced.

Here's a link to the final NREL report from 1998 (PDF warning).

I would not be holding my breath for the next breakthrough...

E. Swanson