Drumbeat: December 30, 2009

Fight global warming, get $1,100 a year

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A new proposal to curb global warming could jump start stalled Senate greenhouse gas discussions and put an average of $1,100 a year back into the pockets of American consumers.

Known as cap-and-dividend, the recently introduced bill would require oil, coal, and natural gas companies to buy permits each month to sell their fuel. Three quarters of the proceeds would be returned to the public each month in the form of a dividend check, with the remaining money going towards renewable energy, conservation or assistance programs.

By driving up the cost of fossil fuel and making renewables more competitive, supporters say the plan will result in the same emission reductions as the current cap-and-trade bills before Congress. But they say it will be much more simple to operate.

Iran police vow to crush protesters with no mercy

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's police chief threatened Wednesday to show "no mercy" in crushing any new opposition protests and said more than 500 demonstrators have been arrested in the wake of this week's deadly clashes.

Government supporters pack Iranian cities to condemn opposition, U.S.

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Thousands of Iranian political supporters jammed the streets of the capital and other cities Wednesday in response to anti-government rallies during Sunday's observances of the holy day of Ashura.

As crowds headed toward Revolution Square, they cried "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Moussavi." The latter refers to Mir Hossein Moussavi, the main opposition candidate in Iran's June 12 presidential election that swept incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into office for a second term.

Prudhoe Bay oil spill now as much as 100 gallons

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- BP now estimates as much as 100 gallons of crude oil may have spilled in an area around a well house where a pipe broke in the Prudhoe Bay oil field, Alaska officials said Tuesday. BP's initial estimate was 3 gallons of oil.

US Henry Hub average spot gas price sinks in 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. spot natural gas prices at Henry Hub, the benchmark delivery point in Louisiana, tumbled 55 percent in 2009 to average $3.99 per million British thermal units, according to Reuters data compiled on Wednesday.

A deep recession that sharply cut into demand, particularly from the industrial sector, and near-record high domestic natural gas production were the main factors driving prices lower this year.

U.S. Trade Panel Rules for Domestic Steelmakers Against Chinese Imports

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. International Trade Commission sided with U.S. steelmakers in a case over Chinese steel Wednesday, voting that U.S. industry has been damaged by a flood of imports of subsidized steel from China.

In the ITC's largest-ever steel case, all six commissioners said that imports of so-called oil country tubular goods from China have injured U.S. manufacturers. The commission is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans.

Energy Star Gets Tough on LG Electronics

The Department of Energy has announced that, as of Jan. 20, LG Electronics will be banned from using the Energy Star label on 20 of its refrigerator-freezer models.

The agency, which has received criticism for failing to ensure the integrity of products bearing the Energy Star label, said the refrigerators did not deliver required energy and cost savings, and that it was taking steps to protect the American public.

Kurt Cobb: Hope, hopelessness and faith

For those involved in issues of sustainability, peak oil, climate change, and relocalization it might be better to feel a certain hopelessness in our situation. For hope implies dependence on forces outside ourselves. Once we abandon that hope, we can get down to the tasks at hand, the tasks that need to be done--for which we need to ask no politician or government official permission--tasks that we can get started on today. In this way hopelessness concerning the current political and economic arrangements becomes an ally.

So, what we really need is not hope. Hope can be the enemy of action. Hope can be a drug that maroons us in cafes in long, satisfying conversations that never lead anywhere but back to the cafe the next night. In hope's place I nominate faith. Not religious faith, but what George Santayana calls "animal faith."

Exclusive: Saudis quit Caribbean oil storage; China steps in

NEW YORK/HOUSTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has quit a long-held lease for 5 million barrels of Caribbean oil storage near the key U.S. market and state giant PetroChina is poised to move in, industry sources say, a potentially major shift in global oil trade dynamics.

Coming just weeks after Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi revealed the world's top oil exporter accepted an offer for free storage in Japan, the news underscores the growing importance of China and Asia versus the United States, where the government says oil demand has already peaked and supply competition from nearby Brazil and Canada is expanding.

It also highlights the increasingly global reach of China's biggest state oil company, which could use the facilities as a staging point for a growing slate of South American oil deals or as trading leverage in the U.S. market, which still effectively sets the global price of oil.

Oil-thirsty China to raise Kuwaiti imports by 50 pct

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has agreed to raise 2010 crude imports from Kuwait by 50 percent to about 240,000 barrels per day, trade sources told Reuters, with Chinese refiners set to to process at record rates as demand rebounds strongly.

The jump, which follows a one-third increase this year, comes after Iraq said it would more than double exports to the world's second-largest oil consumer and Saudi Arabia agreed to a 12 percent increase for 2010.

"The deals have been finalised," said a trade source familiar with the term supply agreements. "It's a big increase."

Natural-Gas Producers Seek Long-Term Contracts

In a sign that low natural-gas prices are probably here to stay, big U.S. energy companies are pushing to sign long-term contracts with electric utilities and other customers.

Major producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp. are trying to reach multiyear deals -- likely five or 10 years long--that would guarantee them buyers for their gas but would deny them the benefits from any sudden price increases.

Oil, natural gas markets brace for surprises

TOKYO (MarketWatch) -- Energy traders certainly have their work cut out for them when it comes to guessing the next direction for oil and natural gas as the year comes to an end.

After all, oil's made an impressive run, poised to end the year with a gain of more than 75% after closing out last year down 54% -- its biggest yearly loss since oil futures started trading in New York.

And while natural-gas prices are about to end the year will little fanfare, around 4% higher for the year, that's still much better than the 25% loss they posted in 2008. Prices have more than doubled from their lows around $2.50 per million British thermal units in early September.

Looking ahead: Power supply not enough in 2010?

MANILA, Philippines - As the holiday season draws to a close, Filipinos now gear up for the upcoming national elections. But as government officials raised the possibility of a power shortage next year, will the 2010 polls be done in the dark?

The government earlier warned of an impending power shortage in the Philippines next year, specifically during the 2010 elections. Citing data, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes has projected that there would be a 4,100-megawatt shortfall all over the country.

South Africa: Switch on ocean current

A SOLUTION to the country’s energy crisis could be lying off our coast – generating electricity using the power of the Agulhas Current.

Eskom is to be asked to consider a proposal to enter into a collaborative partnership with researchers who have conducted a pilot project.

Pakistan: Discovered gas field awaits PM's nod

ISLAMABAD – At a time when country is facing severe energy crisis, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has unnecessarily delayed gas extraction from a discovered gas field Kunar Pesakhi, located some 25 kilometres east of Hyderabad.

India: Fuel shortage continues to haunt thermal power projects

Coal shortage continued to hit the power sector as 11 electricity generation projects received less dry fuel in November.

NTPC to set up power projects in Egypt

(MENAFN) The Egyptian government has invited India's NTPC Ltd to set up power projects in the African nation in an attempt to meet an expected surge in electricity demand, Reuters reported.

According to the proposal from the African country, the government will provide the land for the projects and pledge the long-term purchase of power with its central bank guaranteeing transactions.

Finally, a shift to natural gas

Indian industry’s energy consumption pattern finally started shifting toward natural gas in 2009. This has led to a drastic reduction in consumption of liquid fuels like naphtha by sectors like power and fertiliser. Natural gas is a clean source of energy and is environment friendly. But the government’s efforts in the past to direct a shift in India’s energy usage pattern towards natural gas had been hobbled by the wide gap in the domestic demand-supply of the natural gas. The fact that international prices of natural gas were prohibitively high also did not help.

Growing Power Demand Seen to Fuel Mideast Diesel Genset Market to $1.6b in Five Years

DUBAI — Driven by higher per capita power consumption and supply shortages, the diesel generator set market in the Middle East is poised to reach $1.6 billion in five years, a new study reveals.

Apart from growing per capita power consumption and supply constraints, rapid industrialisation is also key driver for the growth of the diesel genset market, said Research Analyst Hemanth Nayak of Frost & Sullivan, a leading business consultancy company. However, in the longer-term, alternate energy sources including nuclear power and more investments in additional power generation capacity by all the Middle East countries will have a negative impact on the diesel generator set. Nayak said a projected high growth in infrastructure, commercial and retail segments are expected to drive the demand for standby and prime power gensets.

Planning for long-term sustainability crucial

Climate change, natural disasters, plant epidemics and liberalisation under the Asean Free Trade Agreement could all affect Thailand's farm output and trading competency.

The Office of Agricultural Economics predicts prices of major crops will increase considerably next year, by 10-20 per cent.

The effects of climate change, not to mention possible natural disasters, could reduce production and increase demand, thus driving up crop prices. Rising concerns about food security and increased demand for fuel crops in world markets to compensate for oil-price hikes will also hike prices.

Used-car market taking big hit from Clunkers

Welcome to the world of used cars, post-Cash for Clunkers. Because 690,000 used cars were destroyed last summer under that government stimulus program, just when many drivers stung by the recession no longer can afford to buy a new car, there is a lingering shortage of good used cars. And good used cars that are available are likely to be more expensive than half a year ago.

Drug-resistant infections lurk in meat we eat

America's farmers give their pigs, cows and chickens about 8 percent more antibiotics each year, usually to heal lung, skin or blood infections. However, 13 percent of the antibiotics administered on farms last year were fed to healthy animals to make them grow faster. Antibiotics also save as much as 30 percent in feed costs among young swine, although the savings fade as pigs get older, according to a new USDA study.

However, these animals can develop germs that are immune to the antibiotics. The germs then rub into scratches on farmworkers' arms, causing oozing infections. They blow into neighboring communities in dust clouds, run off into lakes and rivers during heavy rains, and are sliced into roasts, chops and hocks and sent to our dinner tables.

Jeff Rubin: How much longer will our Chinese food be delivered?

If you think you’re eating local now, you haven’t tasted anything yet.

Food and energy are intertwined at many levels, not the least of which starts right at the production stage. Behind the green facade of the farm gate lies one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world. From fertilizer to farm machinery, most modern agriculture is really about making hydrocarbons edible.

No matter what the crop, the most important input is always energy — and it’s getting to be more so every day. Driven by ever greater fertilizer use and farm mechanization, energy represents half the cost of growing wheat (up from 30 per cent only a decade ago), and over 40 per cent of the cost of growing corn or sorghum.

That should tell you right away that a world of rising energy costs translates directly into a world of rising food costs.

Oil Heads for Biggest Annual Gain in a Decade Amid Iran Unrest

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil was little changed, heading for its biggest annual gain in a decade, on forecasts that U.S. stockpiles are narrowing while unrest in Iran sows concerns supply will be disrupted.

“Stocks are showing the market is getting towards a more balanced situation, though it will take time,” said Alexandra Kogelnig, a consultant with JBC Energy GmbH in Vienna. “Tensions in Iran are always a factor even if there is nothing immediately happening, as if something major happens it will affect exports.”

Crude oil for February delivery was at $78.70 a barrel, 14 cents lower in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as of 11:50 a.m. London time. It earlier rose as much as 32 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $79.19 a barrel. Futures are set for a 77 percent gain this year, the biggest since 1999. Prices have tripled in the past decade.

Is thin trading driving oil prices?

We continue to be of the opinion that the real driver of the oil market last week and this week is the lack of trading volume in the futures market and not really the lack of oil supplies."

These were the recent words of Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland, and are yet another example of the bearish sentiment toward oil prices that is rampant in the analyst community. Nobody wants to admit that the current supply and demand relationship is temporary. Nobody wants to acknowledge that the world faces some tough decisions in the months and years to come regarding energy supplies.

The era of cheap oil is over. Sure, we could maybe see oil in the $60's again. But it's pure folly to expect that oil prices might remain there for any length of time.

FACTBOX - China's strategic oil reserve plan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has started building a 3 million cubic metre (19 million barrel) strategic crude oil reserve facility in Lanzhou in Gansu province and plans to start operating it in 2011, state media reported.

Lanzhou is among the sites for the second of three phases of crude oil reserves. China hopes to complete the second phase, totalling 170 million barrels, in two years, Liu Qi, deputy head of China's National Energy Administration, said in September.

Russian Seaborne Crude Oil Exports Scheduled to Drop in January

(Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter, plans to reduce shipments of Urals and Siberian Light crude from four Baltic and Black Sea ports by 6.1 percent next month, according to the official loading schedule.

Indonesia sees 15% slash in E&P spend

Indonesia expects spending by contractors on oil exploration in the country to fall to $2.3 billion next year, down about 15% from an estimated $2.7 billion in 2009, the country's oil watchdog said today.

Angolan firm initials two deals for Iraq oil fields

BAGHDAD — Angolan energy firm Sonangol initialled two deals with Iraq on Wednesday to develop oil fields in the north of the country, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

The two agreements completed the initialling of seven deals reached between Baghdad and foreign energy firms earlier this month that aim to ramp up Iraq's oil output five-fold.

PetroChina Wins Approval for $1.8 Billion Acquisition

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co. won the approval of the Canadian government for its C$1.9 billion ($1.8 billion) bid to buy a stake in two Alberta oil-sands projects, its biggest North American acquisition.

The purchase by China’s largest oil company of a 60 percent share in Athabasca Oil Sands Corp.’s MacKay River and Dover oil- sands projects “is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” Industry Minister Tony Clement said in a statement yesterday.

Belarus to pay cheap for Russian gas in Q1

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The price for Russian gas for Belarus will increase by only 12 percent to $168 per 1,000 cubic metres in the first quarter 2010, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said on Wednesday.

Belarus enjoys the largest discount on Russian gas in the region, paying $150 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas in 2009 on average, compared with $208 charged to neighbouring Ukraine, whose ties with Moscow are far worse.

Russia plans gas price hike

Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz said today it could pay more for Russian gas in the first quarter of next year, raising prices to $305-306 per 1000 cubic metres from $208.12 in the current quarter.

Polish Ministry Opposes Gas Compromise With Gazprom, rp.pl Says

(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s Treasury Ministry opposes any compromise with OAO Gazprom on overdue payments to domestic gas company Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA that are preventing the signing of a gas-supply accord, rp.pl reported.

Deputy Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski told the Web site of the newspaper Rzeczpospolita that Polskie Gornictwo won’t be pushing for an agreement “at all costs.”

Dark days at the centre of Europe

The Baltic state of Lithuania -- sandwiched between Latvia and the Russian exclave Kalingrad -- faces an economic contraction of 18 percent for 2009.

To that the government has said it will add a 30 percent increase in household power prices in 2010, as it fulfils a condition of European Union membership and shuts Ignalina, the Chernobyl-style nuclear power plant that provides 70 percent of Lithuania's power.

Russian oil pact gives Iraqi economy a shot in the arm

Although it sits atop the world's third largest proven reserves of conventional crude oil, Iraq produces about 2.5 million barrels per day, of which about 1.9 million barrels a day are exported.

Decades of neglect of the fields have been compounded by the effects of the fighting and sabotage in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led war to oust Saddam. That violence has meant that Iraq has been unable to even reach its prewar output levels of oil. Crude oil sales account for roughly 90 percent of the government's budget.

Taiwan Energy Use Rises for Third Month on Industrial Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s energy use rose for a third straight month in November on increased demand from factories as overseas orders for the island’s semiconductors and mobile phones surged.

Consumption of coal, petroleum, gas, thermal energy and electricity advanced 11 percent from a year earlier to the equivalent of 9.56 million kiloliters of oil, or about 2 million barrels a day, the Bureau of Energy in Taipei said in an e- mailed report today.

Only four days' oil left after Iran upheaval and strike here

IRELAND was almost nearly out of oil amid political upheaval in Iran in 1979 and a strike at Dublin Port, newly released State papers reveal.

At one stage during July, the country had just four days' supply left as ministers and officials held crisis talks with oil company chiefs.

Energy Minister Des O'Malley warned of the "serious situation" not 70 miles from Dublin with creameries about to close and tourism seriously affected by dwindling supplies.

Dutch court to hear Shell case

A district court in The Hague has agreed to hear petitions filed by four Nigerian men who allege that Royal Dutch Shell was negligent in cleaning up a 2005 oil spill that damaged their farms and fisheries.

Wanted: green engineers

Regardless of the outcome of the Copenhagen conference in December 2009, one of the most pressing anti-climate-change needs will be the ability to get things done in 2010 and beyond. The commitments already made by some large economies require an extremely large capacity to get new energy systems in place quickly. That includes making sure that there are the people around to design and build them.

The infrastructure needed to make a large dent in the world’s emissions is daunting. What is unusual is not the scale of investment, but that much of it has to be spent on new capabilities. With the use of coal worldwide expected to double by 2030, for example, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies will be crucial. The amount of pipelining, geological surveying and chemical engineering needed for this is not unprecedented compared with what already exists in the oil, gas and mining industries. But it is vastly larger than today’s CCS capacity, and the people needed cannot just be borrowed from the current fossil-fuel industry.

PG&E Customer Revolt May Threaten Rollout of Obama’s Smart Grid

(Bloomberg) -- Consumer backlash and cost concerns may cause delays in the nationwide rollout of “smart” utility meters at the center of the Obama administration’s $8 billion push to update the U.S. electricity grid.

PG&E Corp., owner of California’s largest utility, halted meter installations in Bakersfield, north of Los Angeles, after hundreds of customers complained that readings weren’t accurate. The meters, part of a so-called smart-grid initiative billed as clearing the way for more renewable-energy use, are designed to help consumers conserve power during periods of peak demand.

Energy Star appliance rebates, announced in July, won't be available for months in many states

Rebates to buy energy-efficient appliances, announced by the U.S. government in July, are so far available only in Delaware and won't be offered in many states until spring.

The $300 million "cash for appliances" program, funded by the federal economic stimulus, is being rolled out gradually, state-by-state. In contrast, the popular "cash for clunkers" car trade-in program was national, so all buyers were eligible the same day.

Toyota Tsusho to Produce Jatropha as Alternative Fuel

(Bloomberg) -- Toyota Tsusho Corp., the trading affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp., plans to start growing jatropha next year as it bets that higher crop yields and oil prices will make the plant a profitable alternative fuel.

The Nagoya-based company is in negotiations with a Philippine banana plantation to produce the leafy green shrub, Makoto Hattori, a project development manager, said in an interview, without naming the company or disclosing the size of the investment.

Ethanol Industry: Protect Corn to Save Second-Gen Biofuels

The latest line from two ethanol industry groups suing California over its low-carbon fuel standard goes something like this: Second-generation biofuels will die unless corn-based ethanol is protected.

China to Be World’s Third-Largest Windpower Producer

(Bloomberg) -- China will become the world’s third- biggest producer of electricity from wind by the year-end as it taps more renewable sources of energy and reduces the use of polluting coal, a government official said.

The country’s windpower capacity will reach 20,000 megawatts this year, Shi Lishan, deputy director of new energy at the National Energy Administration, said during a Webcast today. In 2004, the capacity was 764 megawatts, Shi said.

Kazakhstan Says It Became the Biggest Uranium Producer in 2009

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan this year became the world’s biggest uranium producer, overtaking Canada, after it boosted output 63 percent, according to the Central Asian nation’s state-run mining company.

Kazakhstan mined 13,500 metric tons of uranium as of Dec. 21 and will mine at least another 400 tons before the end of the year, Almaty-based, Kazatomprom said in a statement e-mailed today.

Audio slideshow: Life on the water

If water levels rise in Vietnam's Mekong Delta as a result of climate change, more and more people may have to adapt to life on water. But some of them have been living that way for years. The Can Tho floating market is one example.

People buy from farmers and act as wholesalers to the small boats which sell the fresh produce to locals along the river. They are mostly rowed, with crossed oars, so the environmental cost of the journey from field to bowl is minimal.

Sarkozy scrambles to salvage carbon tax

PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy faced an embarrassing setback Wednesday after the high court struck down a planned carbon tax to fight global warming, just days before it was to kick in.

The constitutional court ruled that too many exemptions to the tax on carbon dioxide emissions created inequalities and unfairly placed the burden of cutting down wasteful energy use on a minority of consumers.

Oh, so now it's thin trading that's to blame for the price hike? So someone is actually claiming that its the absence of speculators that' causing it?

Who could possibly make such a claim? I mean, that's only what every single textbook on open outcry markets predicts. Clearly there was no way to know that scapegoating the speculators and chasing them out of the market would cause more oil price volatility....

Pardon my sarcasm, folks.

Speaking of speculating.... For whatever it's worth, I was chatting with some people who provide services to the terminally ill. Was told that people who lived their whole life for the persuit of money usually have the worst time facing death... one opinion was that at that point these people realize that they have/had nothing worth enjoying.

(I guess this is when the realization that "you can't take it with you" sinks in. Probably where Charles Dickens got his idea for the Scrooge character.)

Pardon me for this second-hand account, one had to hear it first-hand.

people who lived their whole life for the persuit of money usually have the worst time facing death...

Awww, I feel sooo sorry for them. Are we allowed just a little wee bit of schadenfreude upon hearing that. It's just too delicious to pass up.

Camel, eye of a needle, etc.

I suppose that such are also in the best position to spend absolutely insane amounts of money in an utterly hopeless and futile attempt to extend their life spans just a little bit further. I suspect that it is these who are skewing the figures for the amounts of money spentfor health care, especially in the last six months of life. Just as it is this lot that skews the figures for so many things.

I spent one holiday party discussing end of life care with a couple of nurses. They said that most of the people they treat, when faced with death, ask for "everything possible" to be done to save them.

We spent some time discussing whether the proliferation of TV shows where the doctor miraculously brings people back from the brink of death had anything to do with it....

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..." - Dylan Thomas

There is the old saying - nobody on their deathbed says that they wished that they had spent more time at the office.

During his interview with Barbara Walters, Isaac Isamov said, when asked what he would do if he knew he was dying, "type faster!" And, when asked about 'heaven,' said he did not believe in such things, but if there was a real heaven, to him it would include a room with a typewriter!

Neat guy. I met him once... he was fun!

Pardon me for this second-hand account, one had to hear it first-hand.

I read this a couple of times before it connected. My first thought was, of course it's second hand, he's still here if he's writing about it. Anyway, salud. :)

I spent 35 years running ventilators. Either almost everybody, including the homeless, is caught up in the pursuit of money, or that theory is wrong.

Interesting that the dollar and oil are both trending up today. They usually head in opposite directions don't they?

EDIT: Oops! never mind.

I know there's been some (mostly theoretical) writing on this, but are there any firm forecasts as to when extraction costs (for either coal, gas, and/or petroleum) will become uneconomical (EROI < 1 or (EROI - labor costs - admin costs) < 1)... for any specific location?

Is there any official term for:
"(EROI - costs) < 1"?

Most European coal mining is past that point. Zero coal mined in France, 5 subsidized mines in Germany, limited UK coal (Peak Coal in UK was 1913 !). Likewise Japan.


I'd like to flesh out Alan's comment a little.

I think the point is that a "firm forecast" is still just a guesstimate about what will happen in the future. Yes, we can try to model how prices and availability of fossil fuels will interact to produce some theoretical EROI. But we can also just look at actual data to see what is happening on the ground.

As Alan's comment suggests, we would expect mining activity to decline as we approach (EROI - labor costs - admin costs) < 1) in a specific location.

To interact with real data and answer questions for yourself just head over to the Energy Export Databrowser:

In western Europe coal has been in terminal decline. In France it has already died (EROI - labor costs - admin costs) < 1). In the UK, the 1983 miners' strike gave an early preview of the future of UK coal production.

In Asia the story is a little different. In Japan coal has never been very abundant or economical. Indonesia and China, however, are experiencing coal boom times. Obviously, (EROI - labor costs - admin costs) >> 1) in those still developing nations.

The Energy Export Databrowser creates charts for oil and gas as well as coal and you can learn a lot about EROI trends in each country simply by looking at the existing data -- no fancy modeling or other guesswork is needed.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

The EROI doesn't really have to go down to 1.0 to cause problem. It has to go down to a number below which society cannot continue in its current form. In a society that uses very little fossil fuels (walks and uses an occasional light bulb, grows food without fossil fuel inputs, no roads other than dirt roads, mostly animal transport), EROI might go down close to 1.0, but in industrial societies, the limit is quite a bit higher--and probably varies by society. China, which uses little oil, perhaps can live with a lower EROI than the US, for example.

I think that we may already be hitting the EROI limit in the US, when we use oil that costs over $80 barrel and sends the economy into recession. While extraction cost does not exactly correspond to EROI, I would expect there to be a fairly high correlation. I think the EROI issue is very closely related to the fact that our incomes are pretty much fixed (or variable on the down side, as we get laid off!). As a result, we really cannot afford higher price (=lower EROI ) fuels.

Debt payments aren't fixed. US private debt doubled from 26T to 52T between 2000 and 2008 but is now in decline as individuals and corporations walk away from debt, leaving assets and losses with lenders. As debtors walk away from an unbearable debt load those that managed to maintain income can afford more oil and other things. It is certainly true that job losses are affecting the pie, and this is also true for those that lose a high paying job, run through their savings, and then finally take a lower paying job.

The problem is that our financial system is based on the assumption that virtually all debtors will repay their debt with interest. The financial system starts running into problems when substantial numbers walk away from their debt.

The financial system starts running into problems when substantial numbers walk away from their debt.

That realization must have been at the root of Alan Greenspan's "Aha" moment when he finally realized that he had been wrong all along...

This is also why I can't understand the thinking behind all the banks jacking up interest rates on credit card holders balances up into the stratosphere. Yes, there is a short term gain but they are just going to put the final nail into the coffin of the goose that was still laying some golden eggs.

Then what? Do they have a plan Z?

Szia! Yes! Plan Z: purchase smallish island in temperate climes, elevation of at least 20 acres at least 50m above sea level.

This is also why I can't understand the thinking behind all the banks jacking up interest rates on credit card holders balances up into the stratosphere. Yes, there is a short term gain but they are just going to put the final nail into the coffin of the goose that was still laying some golden eggs.

Perhaps they see the writing on the wall and are trying to get out with as much as they can. Better to amass short term gain than be left holding the bag when that goose is cooked to use an awful mixed metaphor. Seems like this could be a Prisoners Dilemma -- try to avoid the worst of losses even if you thereby undermine your long term best option. Or maybe it's a Stag Hunt -- take the small prey because you can't trust your hunting partners to stick to their positions and not screw you as they pursue small prey.

China, which uses little oil, perhaps can live with a lower EROI than the US, for example.

Energy Statistics > Oil > Consumption (most recent) by country

China has the second largest oil consumption of nations, consuming in 2007, 7,578,000 bbl/day. I cannot find their data for 2008 or 2009 but several news reports have them growing at 10 percent. Their own oil production has stagnated and they produce less than half the oil they consume. Oil supplies 20 percent of their energy needs while coal supplies 70 percent.

Total Energy Consumption in China, by type (2006)

Ron P.

Good point Ron,

Maybe Gail can clarify but I'm guessing she meant consumption per capita which in China I believe is still about one fourth (or less) of what an average American uses, even after the recent years of double-digit growth. However, as you point out, multiply that by a billion or so people and..., well, there's the rub as they say.


Per capita, China's oil consumption is much lower than ours. Also, the mix is skewed heavily toward coal.

The EROI doesn't really have to go down to 1.0 to cause problem.

I think you're really talking about energy intensity
toe/$1M of GDP, not EROI.


The list is interesting as it shows that even energy producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia at 400-500 tons of oil equivalent per $1M GDP versus 150-250 tons per $1M GDP for OECD with 213 toe/$1M GDP for a world average.

If (Eo + Einv)/k1 =Energy input in toe,Eo/ Einv=EROI and $GDP
= k2 x Eo then Energy intensity/$ =Eo(1+1/EROI)/k1 divided by $/k2 or Energy intensity/$ varies as 1+1/EROI. So the difference in Energy intensity/$ at an EROI of infinity is only half that of an EROI of 1.

In other words, EROI is not as important as k1, the efficiency of producing energy or k2, the conversion rate of output energy Eo into dollars.

It's probably an irrelevant factoid, but the country with the lowest energy intensity is the Republic of the Congo at 30.5 toe/$1M, while the highest on the list is next door in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at 4746.3, two orders of magnitude larger. Both have seen years of war, but are now in a relatively stable period of government, and both depend on resource exports - oil in the Republic of the Congo, and minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From The Energy Export Databrowser Congo has had steady oil production for the past decade (but no exports?). The CIA World Factbook says: "Recovery of oil prices has boosted the economy's GDP and near-term prospects. In March 2006, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) treatment for Congo."

CIA World Factbook:

I am pretty sure this point must have come up elsewhere in discussions of EROI, but there is something I don't get about the concept. Couldn't it still be desirable to extract some particular energy source when it's EROI < 1 just because of its physical properties? I am thinking for example of a case like this: someone sets up a water wheel or windmill and uses the mechanical energy of these devices to force oil out of the ground because oil can be used as a liquid fuel and the mechanical energy of the river and/or wind cannot. Granted that in terms of energy this is a losing game, but it still might make economic sense if we take into account not just the energy content but also the other properties of our available energy sources. In a sense the extracted oil wouldn't be so much of an energy source as an energy carrier. And given this possibility wouldn't this complicate any simple correlation between EROI and cost?


It has come up a few times. Yes, one can invent scenarios where it makes sense to extract fuels with EROEI < 1. They would assume that battery technologies don't pan out, and Uranium and Thorium become Unobtanium (to borrow a word from Bob Shaw/totoneila - where are you, Bob? I hope it's a good place), and natural gas is pretty much used up. If any one of these options is around, it'd be a better solution than extracting oil for fuel at EROEI < 1.

But in these situations of extreme energy poverty, only very limited amounts of oil could be extracted for use as fuel, because only a small fraction of a small total energy supply could be used. And the "easy" oil, that can be got with limited expense of (physical) capital or energy, is pretty much gone.

I'd file the idea under "theoretically possible".

I don't know about correlations between EROEI and cost. (In fact, I don't understand what 'cost' is, any more. That's what happens when you start reading alternative and resource economics. ;-)

On the idea of 'simple', several people here have argued that EROEI is not comparable across fuels, or even across end uses of a single fuel. And some argue that the concept isn't useful at all, because of system boundary problems. What's the EROEI of a hydro dam? On the investment side, do you only count the embodied energy and lifetime maintenance energy in the structures and equipment? Do you include the roads built for the dam, and pro-rate the energy embodied in the factories used to make the cement, steel, and turbines? What about the energy in the houses and educations of the factory workers and turbine designers? Do you count the energy provided by the sun to lift the water up behind the dam? And what if the dam was mainly built to provide a water supply for a city, and only generates electricity as a side benefit - do you adjust the EROEI? These issues, and analogous ones for fossil fuels, solar, and wind, are all still open for debate.

I don't think EROEI can be simple.

Thanks for clarifying. Yes, the issues of system boundaries and comparability across different energy sources are what I was thinking about as well, though not as clearly as you express it. We could I suppose just arbitrarily define what counts as the boundary of the system and ignore qualitative differences between sources. But then we'd be acting like economists. The mother concept of ROI seems limited by those same problems -- what counts as a cost is whatever is reflected in the price, externalities, schmexternalities, and of course a play by Shakespeare and a vial of crack provide the same utility since they cost about the same.

But EROI seems to have value at least as a heuristic device, a reminder that not all barrels of oil are the same, at least until someone succeeds in standardizing it is a measure of something more definite.

Yes, I'd agree that EROEI is useful as a "point of view" when looking at a situation, if applied with care.

I think comparisons between "similar" energy technologies (between oil and gas, say) have some validity. And the same rule, compare only like with like, applies to (monetary) ROI also.

EROEI may also be useful for comparisons at the global level (across all sources of energy). Nate Hagens wrote a good piece about EROEI, a few years ago here on The Oil Drum, using a village of Sasquatches as an example: http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/2/114144/2387 The section headed "The Bottom Line" is worth reviewing.

Had to post this image (leanan, if you have the urge to edit it or would rather have me do it, that's understandable). This is a optimistic dream photo. Amazing, although vertical farming does appear to require much more water.

Can farming save Detroit?

Grin. That is a sailboat in that pond.

Looks beautiful on paper, but how do you space things so as to get full sunlight for the plants? vertical structures make for an awful lot of shade.

Although lettuce would do well.

Not to mention the heavy metal contamination normally found in abandoned city lots.


Not to mention the heavy metal contamination normally found in abandoned city lots

Thats probably where the vertical farming comes in, you gotta start out by trucking in fresh soil anyway.
But won't it be cheaper just to grow the food in the countryside, and truck in into the city. The energy -and captial required to build the vertical farms must be pretty darned high. Plus cities obtain their networking advantages by being compact and high populkation density -so doesn't the farmland surrounding cities model make more sense?
(Trucking doesn't have o mean 18wheelers, some sort of modified light rail could do the job). A key concept should be keeping th embodied energy of the infrastructure, as well as the operation energy requirements low.

Don't know about vertical farming, but the article from which the image came (which is about Detroit) talks about urban farming as a land-use reform and a jobs program - so they very intentionally want the farm in the city, proximate to the workers.

Great article in recent Economist about farming in Detroit. It seems the city would like to knock down about half of the houses. Farming seems to be the best option for that open land. The article didn't mention anything about contamination of the soil.

My wife, daughter and I just took the tour through Will Allen's 'Growing Power' in Milwaukee yesterday, which is a 17 year urban 'farm', with many novel combinations for producing water filtration with watercress and fish production, an intricate composting system that uses inputs from various sources throughout the city, etc.. They do a lot of workshops and education to promote agriculture and food/nutritional knowledge to city residents, school groups, etc, and they provide healthy fresh foods to 'food desert' communities, to school lunch programs and CSA setups.

Really fantastic organization.


.. and here is the article in YES! magazine that prompted my wife to get us over there from Madison to check it out.

Since 1993, Allen has focused on developing Growing Power’s urban agriculture project, which grows vegetables and fruit in its greenhouses, raises goats, ducks, bees, turkeys, and—in an aquaponics system designed by Allen—tilapia and Great Lakes Perch—altogether, 159 varieties of food.

Growing Power also has a 40-acre rural farm in Merton, 45 minutes outside Milwaukee, with five acres devoted to intensive vegetable growing and the balance used for sustainably grown hays, grasses, and legumes which provide food for the urban farm’s livestock.

I presume you keep having to fertilize the soil (and add organic matter) or it degrades badly over time.

The soil also needs worms, bacteria, and other things that normally reside in soil.

I have no knowledge on my question, but I wonder if there are affordable and widely available chelating (or binding) agents that would help bind to the contamination metals in soil, to render the soil safe for farming?

Might be an industry worth supporting.

RE: contaminated urban soils

Some farmer friends recently told me about a former basketball player who set up a year round organic farm in inner city Milwaukee in a bunch of greenhouses. He dealt with the contaminated soil issue by building new soil with vermiculture -- feeding vegetable scraps from local restaurants to worms and using the worm castings as soil, or at least as the nutrient rich organic component of soil. Not sure how well this would scale up though, since it still involves trucking in the original organic matter to the restaurants from elsewhere. But at least he didn't have to pay for that.

IIRC, sunflowers can be planted to reduce lead contamination. Of course, then you have to find a way to dispose of the contaminated sunflowers - can't be composted.

A bit of googling just turned up this: mustard greens may be hyperaccumulators of lead in soil.

Also found this old article. It is behind a paywall, but there is an extensive list of references to journal articles from before 1993 about the topic of phytoremediation.

And here is a more recent review of research on phytoremediation from the USDA's Agricultural Research Center.

Interesting articles - thanks for posting !

Broccoli is also used as a Lead-absorber in soils.. but using composts and creating new soils in isolated beds is probably an easier and more direct route.

Just mentioned this above. I went there yesterday with my family. Very cool! My wife wants to start one in Maine now!

"Growing Power" www.growingpower.org



Thanks for the links! That's the place I had in mind. A farmer friend from Pennsylvania (where I now live) did a workshop there last fall and wants to combine some of his ideas with her youth at risk program that she runs at her farm outside of Williamsport, PA. The food/education/social justice link is very cool in my view.


And to tie it into the top post in the thread, they have stacked layers in their greenhouses, to use some vertical space to get more growing going on.

The shading of lower levels is appropriate for certain ages of sprouts, (and for the big fishtanks and water cleansing processes.. look at the slideshow on the frontpage.. LAYERS, OGRES HAVE LAYERS!) and they move up into more light as their age requires it. I would think that a tall, sloped greenhouse, such as the ones pictured would be able to also use their shady side of the building for other purposes, storage, processing, residences, getting the most value from any given enclosure.

Although lettuce would do well.

Yup, that's where we end up ... this works for boutique foods, flavours, garnishes, but not for serious Calorie-providing foods.

A few numbers for anyone interested:

Plants that photosynthesise by the C3 pathway (wheat, rice, most crops) max out their rate of photosynthesis at 300 watts per square metre of sunlight.

C4-pathway plants (corn, sugar cane, a few others) don't seem to have a maximum (below 1200 W/sq.m), if you can provide them with enough water and nutrients.

Temperate-latitude peak summer insolation (direct sun, and scattered light) at sea level on a dry, clear day is about 1250 W/sq.m. The year-round average is about 270 to 320 (depending on cloudiness).

For those that want to get off ground level:

C3 plants work best at 12 to 17 Celsius, C4 plants at 17 to 25.

Temperature falls about 1 degree Celsius for every 100 metres vertical elevation.

Even without construction cost numbers, or Calorie yields per hectare of the possible crops, you can see this isn't going to provide significant amounts of food.

The Japanese have a form of humour called Chindōgu - inventions, gadgets, that are plausible, at first they seem workable, but in the end they are useless. Vertical farms remind me of chindōgu.

Temperature falls about 1 degree Celsius for every 100 metres vertical elevation.

That is if the air is dry. More usual is a fall of 2 degrees for every 300 m elevation.

Vertical farms remind me of chindōgu.

And the capital investment required for that would be?

It all comes down to money, or rather, the lack thereof. The future is going to have to be very cheap, because that is all that we are going to be able to afford.

The picture shows how easy it is for folks to be confused with technology. The picture is lovely, however, agriculture is a solar energy capture process. As Ignorant mentioned, how does the sun light reach inside the structures shown? Going vertical just results in shadows blocking the land areas to the north of the vertical structure. This visual model gives one the wrong sense of reality. A better rendering would include illumination and shadowing to demonstrate the lack of sunlight available on the shaded spaces.

Urban farms will likely just like rural farms, with horizontal spacing covering the land areas. Maybe lots of greenhouses for high latitude use, which would extend the growing season somewhat. But vertical structures? Not likely to be able to produce enough biomass to compete with regular farms.

E. Swanson

It seems to me that in Northern climes, the sun is at a greater angle, and perhaps verticle farming may enable greater use of greenhouse production in sites to the south of otherwise unfarmable terraine (rocks, at the edge of a cliff, etc.). And, in urban areas, the south side of tall buildings with good exposure would be fair game.

Just a thought.

But vertical structures? Not likely to be able to produce enough biomass to compete with regular farms.

People grow pot hydroponically in basements.

I think a combination of renewable energy, wind solar together with LED grow lighting in specially designed vertical structures may have a place in some urban settings.

There are also passive lighting solutions with light pipes and mirrors which also might be incorporated to bring light deep into an insufficiently lit portion of a vertical structure.

Since I already work in the PV industry I understand access to light and shading issues pretty well and they are mostly surmountable by proper design. BTW trees are highly efficient solar powered vertical producers of biomass. I could envision more things like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tomatotree.JPG

passive lighting solutions with light pipes and mirrors

that is great, except that sunlight only shines on one place at a time. If there are PV panels on the roof, you cannot extract sunlight into a lighting array without removing some solar panels?

Maybe if your goal is growing pot, or a few winter veggies, yes. But, not where the solar recieving surfaces are already in use.

that is great, except that sunlight only shines on one place at a time. If there are PV panels on the roof, you cannot extract sunlight into a lighting array without removing some solar panels?

Oh I agree, you would need to specifically design the structure in such a way as to minimize the issue.

This staircase design concept below gives some idea as to what I mean but I think it can be much better than this. Perhaps a properly spaced spiral with large platforms on the ends of its beams. It really is an architectural design issue which doesn't strike me as insurmountable in and of itself.

The solar arrays might be on an area that doesn't collect light for plant growth. Of course all of this is pure conjecture until someone actually builds a proof of concept farm and I don't know of anyone who has done so yet far as I know. There are a few groups that are in the planning stages. We'll have to see whether something like this eventually makes sense in terms of EROEI.

Image from http://www.greenmuze.com/

Think about the inefficiencies involved with using PV to generate electricity to generate light. Sunlight to electricity is maybe 15%, and electricity to light is also rather poor, say 15% again. Your total efficiency of sunlight into light then becomes something like 2.25%. So if you need daytime lighting, it pays to use some lightpipes.

People grow pot hydroponically in basements.

Yes, and they use massive amounts of electricity to do it. That is usually what gives them away. The narcs just access the utility billing records and look for the households with exceptionally high usage, then start poking around a little - then get a search warrant if the meter dial is spinning wildly with no other immediately obvious reason.

Yes, and they use massive amounts of electricity to do it.

I know. I'm not suggesting that PV or vertical farming solves our food production issues only that if someone wanted to do it might be achievable to do some limited extent with a combination of hydroponics, LED lighting, solar, wind and proper design of the vertical structures.

I have actually recently looked into spectral analysis of LED grow lights to be used for maintaining viability of symbiotic algae that are necessary to maintain healthy living coral in captivity.
The reason I was looking into this was because I had a potential customer who wanted an off grid system as an emergency backup for his rather extensive saltwater live reef collection.

Those LED lights consume a lot less energy than what you're basement pot growers are using at present and I'm sure you could grow just about any plants with them. Of course then it would be easy to spot the pot growers because of their large rooftop solar arrays ;)

Pot farming is the killer app for home PV arrays. No needle spinning to give you away.

Why do you think I got into solar, I know I'll be selling to customers who have money and don't need or even want the subsidies. It's a cash only sale... just kidding ;-)

Pot farming is the killer app for home PV arrays.

But a honkingly large array -easily visable on googleearth! And there still is the waste heat coming from the basement -and the strange covered over windows etc.

I few months back I was looking up Aluminzied Mylar, which is a highly reflective and relatively cheap material. It seems the biggest class of customers for this stuff are pot growers. Seems they want as much of their growlight photons as possible to get to the plants.

Vertical farming MIGHT eventually work in a few places if it is very highly subsidized , given the fact that there are some savings to be had in the areas of weather, pest , and transportation losses..

But it appears that the costs of building the farms will always exceed the cost of transporting the food from ordinary farms.

The light problem is intractable -a high rise building can capture no more sunlight than a single floor building occupying ther same plot of ground-unless it does so by shading the rest of the nieghborhood.Light tubes and mirrors would have to be deployed out and away from the building on the sunny side.

But the real super duper killer , other than the lack of light, is the cost of construction.It takes thousands of tons of concrete and steel , not to mention a large crew of skilled craftsmen and a year to build an ordinary office high rise.

One built to withstand the needs of greenhouse operations would certainly not be much cheaper and my guess is that it would cost more -there would certainly be a lot heavier floor loads,and lots of corrosion problems.

Green houses are generally built in areas where land costs are not too high and they require no heavy duty foundations ,no heavy structural steel,no multifloor plumbing,no elevators, and no additional lighting in most cases. Construction is fast and easy,and the square foot cost is lower by a large factor than the cost of high rise construction.

Back when I was an ag undergrad in the dark ages we used to bs that we would eventually move our own personal farms indoors -into greenhouses.We would sterilize and sanitize and be rid of the bugs forever, never worry about the rain again , never lose another crop to frost or high winds, and be respectable businessmen rather than mucking around outdoors getting our butts froze off and our shoes covered with mud and manure.

It ain't happened yet.

All that deep doo doo about food miles is mostly that, just doo doo, as far as the energy is concerned , excepting airfrieghted luxuries such as winter grapes.A choo choo can haul oranges from California or Florida so cheaply that the frieght costs are generally only a very small fraction of the retail cost.

(Most of the real energy transportation costs of food are generally incurred between the supermarket and the residence,or during the long detour between the farm and the consumer thru a processing plant ( for example) that turns perfectly healthy potatos into poisonous little greasy frozen things things called tater tots wrapped in energy intensive waxed paper or plastic.)

Any body who takes vertical farming seriously is simply uninformed as to the real costs involved.

You can file this one in the circular file for the forseeable future.

Veritcal farming shares the problem of plants, in general. They need sunlight to shine upon their leaves. Plants have a natural terracing to make that happen. Vertical farms would need to do the same thing. By computing the angle of the sun, the depth of the building, etc., one could calculate what would be needed.

In interesting article on crops and sunlight:


The light problem is intractable -a high rise building can capture no more sunlight than a single floor building occupying ther same plot of ground-unless it does so by shading the rest of the nieghborhood.Light tubes and mirrors would have to be deployed out and away from the building on the sunny side.

If the building is in a climate dominated by low level cloud and fog, it is possible that by being high enough up (i.e. above the clouds/fog) one could do better than at ground level. Also at ground level you are far more exposed to frosts. But, I still think the whole idea is completely bonkers impractical. Think of all the steel and concrete, just to "create" a few acres of psuedo farmland.

Just FYI

I finally talked with Toto's (Bob Shaw) former girl friend and he is doing well. She would give few details beyond that. He seems to have shifted the focus of his life.

Best Hopes for Bob,


Alan, thanks for the update. Good to know he is well. Toto, if you're out there, let us know what's happening!

Thank you, Alan, for letting us know about Bob.

I have and will continue to miss his posts - I wish him the best.


Great news! Do chime in after taking a breather, Bob. You are missed.

Are humans smarter than bags of NPK? Have you hugged your yeast today?

Alan, thanks for working on this

I'd assumed he had finally been hired by Tiger Woods, as he seemed to go off grid the same time he did.

Thanks Alan. Good to know he's doing well.

Shifted focus? Probably. I bet he's spending most of his time preparing his space to survive the oncoming collapse. The best preparatory site I know is The Automatic Earth. Preparing your head, not necessarily your larder. I'd bet he's posting there under another name.

Someone once commented that Totoneila was like one book-end of the drumbeat with leanan at the other end. If you're reading this Bob please drop back in if you can even if it's only to say you're ok.

Best Festive wishes to you and all the rest of the TOD crowd past and present.

Re: Ignalina nuclear power plant

That it is Chernobyl style is vacuous political tripe. As long as there is no de-facto sabotage such as at Chernobyl (i.e. the criminal experiments that drove the reactor out of control) it is not a threat. The EU hysteria about nuclear power is a threat to itself and to humanity via AGW. Like its big daddy USA the EU has tens of billions to spend on Middle East adventures. So it simply has no excuse not to build new nuclear power plants in Lithuania and elsewhere.

Ignalina is a graphite moderated reactor without a containment structure. A virtual twin of Chernobyl. An inherently unsafe Soviet design.

I do think the EU should heavily subsidize building two EPRs to replace Ignalina (perhaps a 3rd one to help power all three Baltic Republics).

Good news for Russia as they build two reactors in their half of formerly Ost Prussia (an isolated bit of land).


Building reactors at the cusp of energy descent may prove to be a bad move. Probably the safest thing to do at this point is replace most high-technology, high-maintenance systems with lower technology ones.

Complexity will come back to bite us, I think.

This will only work with a massive reduction in population.

India, for example, doesn't have a lot of choice. A large fraction of the population is already about as low-tech as you can get; suggestions to slow modernization are non-starters politically. They don't seem to be able to deliver increased amounts of coal to their coal-fired plants, and drought in the Himalayas is going to hurt their hydro production. They've signed contracts with almost everyone in sight for reactors; with Kazakhstan for uranium; and with Russia for fuel processing.

You have to believe that there's a lot of pressure being put on their domestic thorium-fueled development program, since they could produce the fuel from their own reserves.

It's only unsafe if criminal idiots run it out of operational norms. You can do exactly the same with other "safer" reactor designs. It should be shut down since it is old and replaced instead of simply closed for political posturing purposes.

Pretty interesting stuff:

Old Ideas Spur New Approaches in Cancer Fight

There's evidence that a supposed "old wives' tale" is true: injury can cause cancer. Or rather, it's normal for people to have small tumors and not be bothered by them. But if that area is injured, the tumors may grow and become a problem. In this view, cancer is not a disease of the cell, but of the way cells are organized.

injury can cause cancer.

An interesting article indeed, Leanan. It is about much more than injury.

So some researchers are taking a fresh look at ideas that were dismissed as folklore — a blow to the breast might spur cancer, an infection might fuel cancer cells, a weak immune system might let cancer spread.

Do boxers have a higher prevalence of cancer ?

The basic idea — still in the experimental stages — is that cancer cells cannot turn into a lethal tumor without the cooperation of other cells nearby. That may be why autopsies repeatedly find that most people who die of causes other than cancer have at least some tiny tumors in their bodies that had gone unnoticed. According to current thinking, the tumors were kept in check, causing no harm.

It also may mean that cancers grow in part because normal cells surrounding them allowed them to escape. It also means that there might be a new way to think about treatment: cancer might be kept under control by preventing healthy cells around it from crumbling.

“It’s exciting,” Dr. Love added. “What it means, if all this environmental stuff is right, is that we should be able to reverse cancer without having to kill cells. This could open up a whole new way of thinking about cancer that would be much less assaultive.”

The researchers are cautious. They, more than anyone else, know the blind alleys of cancer research over the past few decades. And no one is suggesting that controlling a tumor’s environment will, by itself, cure cancer.

Still the most important: prevention

Not sure about boxers. Most of them are men, and female boxers wear chest protection.

But I was thinking of all the (American) football players who die young. I read once that NFL players die at the average age of 53. I'm sure there are a lot of contributing causes, but I can't help wondering if getting total body bruises once a week is a factor.

NFL players do lots of things that are unhealthy. One of the local team's offensive linemen played at 305 pounds without looking particularly fat. He does television sports work now and looks normal -- the result of eighteen months with a doctor and a nutritionist bringing his weight down to the 225 pounds where he should be. Hate to think about how much damage was done to circulatory system and joints by acquiring and carrying that much extra muscle.

As you say there are a lot of contributory factors. For example, cancer cells are apparently much better at getting "energy" out of the sugars in the bloodstream than normal cells. So any lifestyle which has excesively large "energy intakes" will as a byproduct be feeding cancerous cells.

(I'm still trying to find the willpower to apply this factoid in my life.)

Not sure about boxers. Most of them are men, and female boxers wear chest protection.

Leanan, men also can get breast cancer. And if a blow to the breast can cause cancer, then why not blows to other parts of the body. Cancer is caused by chronic (many years existing) factors.
The connection between cancer and injuries from hazardous materials like asbestos and smoking exists. While physical injuries can cause scar (fibrous) tissue, this gives no higher risk to develop cancer than other tissues unless it is a scar on the skin or in the lung (scar carcinoma).

Leanan, men also can get breast cancer.

I know that, but they are much less prone to it. Given the small sample size, it might not show up. Ditto to blows to other parts of the body.

Given the small sample size, it might not show up. Ditto to blows to other parts of the body.

Well, what shows up more in football players is f.i. memory problems because of impacts to their head (headerball) but more brain tumors are not mentioned.

I don't think they've actually researched it, though. It would be difficult, because of complicating factors like steroid use. Lyle Alzado died of brain cancer, and he blamed his heavy steroid use. Was he right? Hard to say. It's not like we can give people steroids to test it.

True, but to start with they could look if brain tumors happen more often in f.i. boxers, football players and ice hockey players. If that is not the case then the steroid issue is not important.
In the European countries together there are thousands of professional football players and tens of millions of amateurs and a lot of them get many impacts on their head during a few decades. Probably brain tumors are anyhow so rare that a difference is still hard to suspect without research.

What's "f.i."? I thought it was a typo the first time. Now I'm thinking it's short for "for instance".

If this is the case, would you consider using "e.g." instead? I know it's Latin, but I think you would be more easily understood.


While a senior in high school biology, 1985, we went to a conference on cancer. They talked about how it is damage to a cell that can cause it to become neoplastic or malignant. How old is the old wives' tale? Some people knew over 20 years ago that of course injury can cause cancer. Another example maybe of old gatekeepers of science dying off, and new scientists taking their place.

That is not really what the argument is. The article is saying that the problem is not the cell.

There's evidence that a supposed "old wives' tale" is true: injury can cause cancer. Or rather, it's normal for people to have small tumors and not be bothered by them.

It goes way deeper than anything in that article. A Google search for "John Beard Trophoblast" results in over 49,000 results most of which refer to to the work of Scottish embryologist John Beard who died in 1924. His work predates that of the subject of the article by at least 75 years. I have read about it and as someone who's academic interest in biology stopped at grade 12 or GCE Advanced level(UK) exams, I have found the theory technically sound and elegant.

The basic premise is that cancer is a healing process gone awry and as such that we all have the precursor cells to tumors present in our bodies most of the time. The theory postulates that certain types of tumor like cells are produced during the healing process and are normally switched off at the end of the process but that if the right (wrong) conditions exist, the healing process does not switch off, resulting in a tumor. It in no way contradicts this "new research" and in many ways supports it. I find the widespread lack of interest in John Beards work very difficult to understand as I do the total lack of interest in many other "alternative" therapies for cancer at least some of which seem to have had more than limited success.

It may have something to do with the popular culture and belief that the gods of technology will save us so surely, nothing simple could ever produce results.

Alan from the islands

The theory postulates that certain types of tumor like cells are produced during the healing process and are normally switched off at the end of the process but that if the right (wrong) conditions exist, the healing process does not switch off, resulting in a tumor.

Alan, the body is in constant 'healing', even without blows and bruises. Often pre-cancerous cells are formed in this process and normally these cells are destroyed by killing them, called apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Sorry if I oversimplified the situation but, I was trying as best I could to present the idea in a couple of sentences, no more. I was hoping that anybody who was really interested would do the web search and read up more of the in depth stuff for them-self. One problem is that Beards work is most often cited by people way outside the medical mainstream. In some cases the web pages may go on to discuss controversial topics like treating cancer with unproven methods like megadoses of vitamin c administered intravenously and even more controversial treatments like Vitamin B17(Laetrile) and pancreatic enzymes. As a result Beards work may be seen in the same light as some of the more controversial alternative cancer treatments when it probably shouldn't.

Alan from the islands

From: Jeff Rubin: How much longer will our Chinese food be delivered?, up top.

No matter what the crop, the most important input is always energy — and it’s getting to be more so every day. Driven by ever greater fertilizer use and farm mechanization, energy represents half the cost of growing wheat (up from 30 per cent only a decade ago), and over 40 per cent of the cost of growing corn or sorghum.

I usually agree with Jeff Rubin, but today he clearly shows he doesn't know anything about raising corn. I'm doing farm income/expenses for 2009 and things that can be called inputs are not led by energy, if energy is defined as oil. If it is defined as free solar energy and falling rain he might be correct, but I don't think that is what he's talking about.

The most important and costly input to growing corn is land or land rent. Next comes fertilizer. Then comes seed. Then comes property taxes. Then fuel. And finally machinery. Some farmers may have machinery expense ahead of fuel because they buy the fancy new and expensive stuff. I don't.

His five and one half gallons of diesel fuel per acre is about right but that is only about $15.00. I used less or about $10.00/acre in 2009 partly because I bought diesel early in the year when prices were low. Thanks to the Oil Drum and Drumbeat.

That $15/acre of diesel has to be put in prospective for it to mean anything. Land rent around here is about $220/acre. Fertilizer can run around $100/acre or more depending on the amount applied. Fertilizer cost can only partly be attributed to oil.

Oil is used to transport it and mine it but the main input to nitrogen fertilizer is natural gas which is now cheap and abundant. Phosphorus and potassium come from mining and are not oil based although oil is used in the production process.

He is wrong about increasing fertilizer usage at least in Iowa. Since the big price increases of the last couple of years, farmers including myself have cut way back on fertilizer. Yields have suffered, but higher crop prices make up for it.

Corn seed is in the area of $50/acre. I spend less than that because I do not buy brand name seed like Pioneer or Dekalb.

Taxes run about $20 dollars per acre. So it is clear to me that oil inputs to corn growing are not the most important input as Rubin states.

All these expenses come to about $400/acre more or less. For that the farmer gets about 160 bushels of corn that at the moment sells for about $3.75/bushel locally for a total of about $600/acre.

Costs and profit vary greatly from farm to farm depending on management practices, whether the land is poor or good and the weather bad or not. If the land is owned by the farmer he collects the rent and it is part of the profit rather than an expense. Most farmers own a good portion of the land they farm.

Last fall's weather was very bad requiring large inputs of natural gas and LP to dry the crop for some farmers. So the indicated $200 per acre gain is only an approximation.

In any case oil is not the most important input in growing corn as Rubin states.

As for importing Chinese food, a lot of "Chinese food" around here is nothing more than Chinese recipes made with home grown American food.

Thanks for the break down. I hang my head in shame when I compare fuel use/acre. Altho my yields dwarf yours my fuel use is astronomic in comparison, don't even ask, I'll lie.
Two of my cash crops are garlic and spinach, direct competition with Chinese exports

In any case oil is not the most important input in growing corn as Rubin states.

Rubin says energy not oil. Reread the quote you selected yourself!

By your own numbers you show that your energy costs are above 25%. You also admit there is a lot of variability. So your one anecdotal example is actually more supportive of Rubin's claim than against it.

Don't forget that, as PO passes, use of NG will increase... if you can believe the pundits, it will be powering not only electricity generation but also automobiles, and so forth. As that happens, folks will find out about PG. Gas wells peak suddenly, and end abruptly! The downslope is frightening.

As for expense of gas, it is already coming apart as the environmental costs are beginning to be factored in. N.Y. State is in real trouble because of frac'ing chemicals.

I suppose we should begin to look for peak fertilizer? Other than politics, where it is renewable!

Fertilizer, machinery etc etc all have energy inputs. And ofcourse he would be basing these figures on some other original analysis rather than making up figures on his own ...

Inflation and scarcity will kill us sooner or later.

Your grandparents could have bought a farm for two hundred dollars per acre in thieer younger days .

Of the little TV I do watch I have recently caught several of the "How The Earth Was Made" episodes on The History Channel. Last night's segment on The Sahara was fascinating. No teaser video up yet as I think it was the first broadcast. http://www.history.com/shows.do?action=detail&episodeId=524070

According to the show, The Sahara region moves between dry-arid - well - desert - to very wet in 20,000 year cycles correlated with the wobble of the Earth's axis We seem to be about 7,000 years or so into a dry-arid period and the transition periods may be as short as two centuries once the transition commences. All this mostly teased out by deep sea coring of Sahara dust in the Atlantic ocean bed.

No one should get their hopes up but the segment also went on to say that in drilling for oil the Bas Saharan Basin aquifer was discovered and may contain as much "fossil" water as the Great Lakes and is recharged in the wet cycles. Imagine all that water hiding under all that sand. The segment did go on to hint that at some current-planned extraction rates that the aquifer could be drained in centuries...where have we heard that before...

Much more interesting stuff as well if you get the chance to see it.


That is an interesting show.

They also showed the "Life After People" episode last night, that details what would happen to oil refineries, roads, and cars if there were no people to tend to them.

Energy and Capital today had an extended item on the water crises in the world, and focused briefly on the U.S.

Yes, California is facing water shortages.

But so are 18 other states, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which border the Great Lakes...

...Reports have cited a $40 billion desalination market just in the Middle East by 2025.

One wonders how plausible desalinisation is in view of the energy cost associated with such, particularly in view of its impact on AGW, and the effect PO will have on those plants.

Re-use makes much more sense than ocean desalination. Half as much energy required.

The sahara has been green in the past due to seasonal monsoons. At the current time, the sahara is not warm enough to trigger the monsoon.

Using technology, such as asphalt, to make the sahara hot enough to trigger a monsoon is an interesting idea.

Using technology, such as asphalt, to make the sahara hot enough to trigger a monsoon is an interesting idea.

Supposedly we just have to wait for global warming to get a bit stronger.

Making deserts darker is a bad idea global warming wise. One of the geo-engineering ideas for fighting warming is to do the exact opposite.

Using technology, such as asphalt, to make the sahara hot enough to trigger a monsoon is an interesting idea.

blondieBC, Lemme guess you ain't really a true blonde eh? You're a brunette, right?
But your idea is interesting in a very black humor kinda way...

Not all of the Sahara is white sand. I was in Morocco a few years back and was a bit surprised to see landscapes like this. (not my picture)

As usual, the tech fix approach -- assuming you were serious, which you may not have been -- starts with false assumptions.

NYT: Denver's Ski Train Run Ended By Legal Dispute

Through 69 years of service, since the days of lace-up ski boots and leather straps, the ski train from Denver to the Winter Park ski area carved a deep tradition in the psyche of Colorado’s winter landscape. On weekends from the city’s Union Station, and through the sunburned après-ski parties on the way back down, the train evoked an alpine culture before the Interstate, and the mega-resort, and the high-season traffic jam.

But now the train may have chugged its last.

Its new operators, who took over this year after a previous operator had said the money-losing enterprise was unsustainable, abruptly canceled the season on Monday night and said that thousands of tickets bought in advance would be refunded.

The villain was not the recession, said Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific Holdings, a private company in Chicago that operates excursion and tourism trains in six states and in England, but insurance and legal uncertainty in a dispute with Amtrak, the publicly supported passenger rail provider.

I've been a TOaD for a few years now. Since I first read Twilight, I've learned enough to know that the flow rates are going to start going down and probably soon. Unfortunately, the Great Recession is blocking any ability to see if there is a real current decline or not, as least for now.

I've also watched the Climate debate since Kyoto and through Nopenhagen.

My current state of mind is everything this site talks about is or will happen, but there is really nothing one person can do in a 6.5 billion person planet. And as Nopenhagen and Christmas spending shows, no one else really gives a damn.

Yesterday I traded my Prius for another Mercedes convertible. It barely gets 20 MPG but it's really comfortable and fun. As my wife says, it's therapeutic. If the oil ever runs, the Prius will be just as dead as the MB anyway. And the emissions in a world where more coal plants are being built than Chevys will be nothing. My solar array is my only contribution at this point. I also figure that our fiat money will be worthless during the collapse, so I might as well spend it on something while I can.

I guess I'm back to being one raindrop who refuses to take responsibility for the flood. But the truth is, I've spent 10% of my life and 20% of my adult life waiting for the world to end, and frankly, it looks pretty much the same as ever. Which isn't saying much. I just don't want to spend any more of my life counting barrels and CO2 and listening to endless pronouncements of this or that. The energy/climate predicament is in motion at this point and will end badly either tomorrow or some other day, but whichever the case, I'll deal with it when the time comes.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I still think the work of TOD is important. At least I know what's coming and won't be surprised when it gets here.

I'm mostly sharing this to see if anyone is getting tired of waiting for the end.

Absolutely! Thanks for the post. I find TOD interesting, but I mainly read it for actual information and discussion on world production, Ghawar, etc. as I am a petroleum engineer and enjoy the technical discussion. All the doom and gloom about waiting for the world to end is quite depressing. I don’t necessarily disagree, but at some point you have to move on and find enjoyment in life.

The way I see it, personal lifestyle adjustments are not so much about saving the world (you are right, one person makes little real difference) as they are about getting ahead of the curve and adapting to the reality of what the world is becomming. Easier to make those lifestyle adjustments early, when one's back is not up against the wall. Also, giving up things early, before one really has to, is good psychological training, preparing oneself to give up more things latter.

You are right, the time may come when fuel is not available (at least at an affordable price) for either the Mercedes or the Prius. It is going to be a while before that time comes, though, so the question is: how best to use that time. You can glide downwards in a smooth descent to that inevitable lower future level, or you can try to maintain the higher level lifestyle all the way to the last minute, and then just assume that you can suddenly adjust. Let me warn you: the latter plan doesn't always work out as well as some might think it will. The former plan can run into snags, to; however it has the advantage of coming with a built-in margin of error.

I think you are more right than wrong. Learning is a process especially when it comes to growing food. However, being a fish that swims upstream has its disadvantages in some ways. For example, I already insulated my attic and replaced/removed energy efficient appliances WITHOUT help from Uncle Sam. If I would have waited for tax credits, it would have been much cheaper.

I think this sums it up. If your mentality is to sit in the bunker and wait for TSHTF, you will get eventually bored and do something like go out and buy a convertible :-).

Staying ahead of the curve on the other hand is quite a bit easier. For the most part, you just go about your daily life, but you change things here and there and gradually reduce your energy usage, and reduce your debt load when the opportunities arise.

The people who will have the hardest time are the ones who will cling to the old way of doing things for too long which could turn out to be financially ruinous.


I don't know if this applies to you, but a lot of folks looking to a post-petroleum future are also looking for "the moment." The moment when "it collapses," or "when we all get it" and that is not realistic, I think. JH Kunstler's latest blog post predicts every thing from the Long Emergency will happen in 2010. Even 9/11 can't be pointed to anymore as the moment when everything changed. Nine years on it is now a significant point in the overall trajectory, but not a watershed moment. My point is, I don't think there really are such moments (though it would be easier if there were to get change underway).

I find that Gail (the Actuary)'s posts veer away from that impulse and describe processes and trends of change (some welcome, some scary).

Greer talked about this - what he calls the tempo of change.

One of the lessons of history is that change, no matter how drastic it appears on the pages of history books, is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it. Read an account of the French Revolution, for example, and events seem to follow one another like bangs from a string of firecrackers from the final crisis of the Ancien Régime straight through to the fall of Napoleon. For the man or woman in the French street, though, these happenings were scattered threads in a fabric of months and years woven from the plainer cordage of ordinary life.

I suspect that in the future, looking back, it will seem we are living in very interesting times indeed. But for most of us right now, they are "scattered threads in a plainer fabric of ordinary life." We still have to go to work, get the kids to school, pay taxes, etc.

In "The Long Decline," he talks about the point of view of one person during a 300+ year decline, with a general comment that things don't look drastically different for any one person, but at the end of 10 generations, major change has happened.

Kuntsler, on the other hand, feels that the impact will be sudden and dramatic.

I hope Greer is right, but fear Kuntsler's view may have more valididty, given the drastic reduction in population needed in a short period of time. Again, since PO is a gradual, and not a sudden event, there is some reason to hope for Greer's vision.

I actually think Greer's vision is the most doomerish of them all. Maybe not for us individually, but for the world and the human race as a whole. Catabolic collapse means we convert all resources and capital to waste, leaving an environment so devastated it will be hard to maintain any kind of complexity.

Have you read his new one, the Ecotechnic Future? Only about 1/4 through, but the premise seems to be that, given our retention of knowledge, something along the lines of Veridian will arise after a protracted Salvage society phase. EB had a review, of course.

What is Veridian? I googled it and came up with a multitude of stuff.

Antoinetta III

Considering that complexity arises from application of energy to the waste, and that we have used up our treasure of stored energy, we have no one to blame but ourselves. And, it would seem that this 'doomerish' vision held by Greer is the most likely future for mankind.

I believe that we can retain much of our learning and knowledge, but that our technology will suffer. With sufficient limitation on population, something that nature will take care of in its messy, but certain manner, we will be able to sustain ourselves, provide wood for smelting steel, and with salvaged metals generate a bit of power for mass transit, lighting and the like. Oh, and for refrigeration.

On the other hand, I doubt we will have stadium seating, 20 theater cinimas, or airconditioning to 70 deg. F during the Summers. Maybe evaporation type a/c will cool the air. Due to limitation on speed of delivery, factory farming will be out, and local will become the norm.

I would expect that life expectancies will drop, but not really dramatically, at least after the initial die off. We will, again, retain knowledge about dealing with diseases, even though many of our 'cures' will prove self-limiting as vectors spread due to AGW and resistant strains spread.

Will life be wonderful? Probably not. Will it be enjoyable? Like today, that will depend on the individual. I have no illusion that the 'good old days' were anything to be revered. We may have to dig up some of the knowledge of those days, though, to help us as we come to grips with a new reality.

If I miss anything, it will be the adventurous space programs that have given us the wonderous photographs from Hubble and the like. It looks more and more as though, like probably every other 'advanced' species, we will use up our fuel before we get to another star system. Time will tell.

According to the terminology of TOD, I supppose I am in the doomer camp. My wife calls me an optimist, though, and I don't disagree. I think we can survive the change. I believe we will find a way, and if we do not have the creature comforts we enjoy today, we will probably become kinder, remain productive, and have at least as much chance for happiness as we have today.

I believe that we can retain much of our learning and knowledge, but that our technology will suffer.

I don't. Knowledge, even very useful knowledge, can be lost, and has been in the past. Learning and knowledge have an energy cost, and it's one we will no longer be able or willing to pay.

Obviously, this is not going to happen immediately, but I think it will happen.

With sufficient limitation on population, something that nature will take care of in its messy, but certain manner, we will be able to sustain ourselves, provide wood for smelting steel, and with salvaged metals generate a bit of power for mass transit, lighting and the like. Oh, and for refrigeration.

In ancient societies on a solar budget, things like steel and glass were for the elite only, because they took so much energy to create. While we'll have a lot of salvage available for awhile, I don't see mass transit being sustainable long term.

For societies on a solar budget, most people worked in agriculture, simply trying to feed themselves. There weren't many elites, and many of them worked a lot more than you would expect, because such a society can't afford to feed a lot of people who don't work.

This was true in the US only a few generations generations ago. People pulled their kids out of school in 4th or 8th grade because they were needed on the farm, or because they had to go to work to support the family.

This is why I think it will be difficult to maintain our knowledge. People who are struggling to get enough food don't have the leisure for education - especially education that may no longer be useful. You aren't going to be a subsistence farmer by day while moonlighting as a nuclear engineer.

Again, since PO is a gradual, and not a sudden event, there is some reason to hope for Greer's vision.

Zaphod42, it is not certain that the decline is gradual enough to be managable. If the shock model for oilproduction comes true, think of the consequences for oil-exports. Also 'above ground factors', f.i. a big depression, could give the same result.

It makes me smile when I read your post. I'm kinda in the same position. I have remodelled a farm house in the UK and in the process installed the latest ground source heat pump and insulation. My energy bills are, as a consequence, fairly small. My family is expanding however, and my wife wants a new car. What to do? Experience Ayatollah-like wrath of the woman I will spend the rest of my life with, or buy the SUV? She does maybe 10,000 miles per year max so fuel bills are low(ish) and while I am persuaded to a greater degree that P.O is likely I am not totally convinced by any measure.
As I see it, Matt Simmons is correct in his statement that we will only know once it has passed, or, in the rear view mirror. I have seen some posters zealously point to the FACT that we are there. Well, I have not seen any facts yet. I have seen figures which could lead one to say that it is more than likely we will soon peak, but in the next few years or later, either the Peak Oilists or the Optimists are going to look very stupid. My bet is it will be the Optimists looking stupid........... but I would not bet my wife on it.
In the meantime I am considering chickens, solar and have just managed to pay off the mortgage. If the S*** does hit the fan maybe I and my family will be better positioned than most. We will see.

What to do? Experience Ayatollah-like wrath of the woman I will spend the rest of my life with, or buy the SUV?

A man is not complete until he is married - then he is finished

Disclaimer: I'm divorced so I can say that there is life after marriage ;-)
BTW at my age neither I nor my girlfriend have any wrath left only a very wry sense of humor and mutual respect for each others idiosyncrasies and foibles. We'd much rather sit on the beach sipping a fine wine and watch the sunset dip down behind the palm trees.

I don't think waiting for the world to collapse is the end all focus for TOD. The first TOD goal for me is understanding how the energy supply is driving change in our complex world. The interaction of cheap energy with all things we desire is tantamount to driving a declining standard of living for the U.S. and other western economies. How we chose to design and execute our personal lives is still for the time being mainly our choice. If you are waiting for energy alone to signal the end of days I think you are limiting your scope. The financial world is leading the decline no doubt exacerbated by expensive energy. And as discussed ad infinitum on TOD it becomes the great enabler for increasing the decreasing of energy flows. The social and financial structure are currently crumbling (Automatic Earth does a great job here http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/) if you chose the path of eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will all be dead...so be it. I am able to find satisfaction in lowering my consumptive footprint and finding the small joys in doing so. Not throwing in the towel yet...
My wish for TOD in 2010 is to eliminate or drastically tone down the climate change focus. While I find some legitimate correlations with man's use of carbon based fuels and higher CO2 levels, I don't find the inclusion adds any value to the declining oil/energy supply implication discussion. Its a tanker anchor around our necks as we try to move these discussions forward. Its not quantitatively defined at the moment and brings in the nutjob factor from both sides of the debate then muddies the discussion of declining resource availability. There are plenty of Climate change forums that I hope would address this topic adequately.

I've been thinking the opposite...that we're going to have to increase the emphasis on climate change.

It's the elephant in the room. But we rarely mention it, outside of the DrumBeats.

That is great! I think peak oil analysts would have a unique and valid viewpoint on future emissions. (On the other hand, many peak oil analysts work in the oil industry and do not have an objective viewpoint on climate change, which obviously you know already).

gog -- I've been in the energy industry for 34 years and have a very biased viewpoint on climate change: the change has been going on for time thanks to man's activities, is still going on and will only get worse in the future as we switch to more coal burning as the other resources diminish. I believe absolutely that the industrialized nations will ignore AGW if that's what it takes to maintain BAU or anything close to it. We were discussing such aspects in my geology classes back in the early 70's. I can't think of one geologist or engineer I work with that doesn't believe in AGW. From my perspective PO and AGW are linked at the hip and always will be. But you have to make a point to distinguish what the industry PR folks (who generally don't know anything about day to day ops) say and what the rank and file think. Probably the same with most businesses.

No offense taken. I got over being mistaken for an Exxon cheerleader decades ago.

PO and AGW seem to be two sides of the same coin and I'm not sure how you can accept one without the other, and I welcome links to both here on the Drumbeat. We should also be aware of other big issues such as water and mineral resource depletion, and most especially the rapid extinction of species. While these topics aren't directly related to peak oil, it seems that conservation of all resources without simultaneous curbs on population will only worsen these problems. It's a sort of Jevons Paradox of people - if we make ourselves more efficient we're likely to make more of ourselves. It's what we like to do.

Anyway, I'm heartened to hear that the geologists and engineers are mostly on board. I've run into several meteorologists and physicists here at work who are convinced that AGW isn't happening or worse is a hoax. My sense is that the meteorologists are skeptical because they have a hard time predicting weather two weeks in advance, so how can anybody predict anything farther than that (plus they didn't get invited to the GW science party) and the physicists think they're smarter than the rest of us and can work everything out on the nearest white board, if not the back of an envelope, and their back-of-the-envelope calculations have convinced them that nothing's happening. Maybe it's just the ones here, but they're a tough crowd.

Don't take too much heart Artist. Most may be believers but you won't hear much preaching from our lot. Collectivley we've been discredited in the eyes of the public long ago. Just one more reason why you can count on one hand the number of publicly known industry experts who warn of PO. It's possible one of the worse things that could happen to the AGW movement would be to have a bunch of petroleum geologists/engineers start throwing out warnings. After all, we work for "Big Oil" and nothing we say can be trusted. LOL


You work for Little Oil :-)

Not even single digit billions to play with invest !

Best Hopes,


True Alan but I started out with Mobil Oil in the Plaza Towers across from the train station a life time ago. The stink hangs on for a while, ya know.

Happy New Year!!!

The main indictment against AGW researchers, is their research funds come from the government. To a large libertarian sector of the population anything that is touched by government is hopelessly sullied. Only money from private industry is "pure". Anything else and you are considered to be bought and paid for by the New World Order conspiracy.

But I can easily imagine believing one and not the other of AGW. Having unlimited abiotic oil available would be a disaster for the climate (and is absurd), but no persons world view can be completely consistient with reality. The only distinction is whether one uses all due diligence to constantly test one's worldview -or just let it drive the process of accepting/rejecting evidence. The later is by far more common. The former requires a great deal of effort and commitment.

PO and AGW seem to be two sides of the same coin and I'm not sure how you can accept one without the other,...

I have said it before, and will again. Global Warming is the surrogate for PO in the MSM and amongst politicians. PO is poison... they cannot speak it because it is too scary, and if you acknowledge it you will have to deal with it. So, AGW is used to urge the changes that are needed because of PO.

Of course, until PO hits us in the face, this will remain the case. And this means that little or nothing will be accomplished, and by the time MSM and Washington are able to speak the words, "Peak Oil," it will be (and actually already is) far too late to 'solve' the problem. Ala Greer, the best we can do is to deal with it.

So, why does my wife call me an optimist?

I've run into several meteorologists and physicists here at work who are convinced that AGW isn't happening or worse is a hoax. My sense is that the meteorologists are skeptical because they have a hard time predicting weather two weeks in advance

And don't forget to mention the discussion that is going on if the activity of the sun can or cannot make a significant difference.

The way I see it, we now have good solid scientific evidence that global climate has swung back and forth considerably between a surprisingly wide range of extremes over the course of natural history. Those who have any notions of the human species lasting it out here on earth until the sun starts to go red giant had better be facing up to realities and challenges involved in living on a planet with those types of climate changes. In other words, regardless of anything else, we need to be focused on adaptation in any case.

Any notion of trying to "manage" the planet and artificially maintain global climate within a narrow band centered on the average that we've enjoyed over the past few thousand years is the absolute height (or is it depth?) of hubris and folly. Geoengineering with sulfur droplets in the upper atmosphere, or orbiting sun shields? Smoke and mirrors, literally!

I don't think trying to manage the earth's climate will work.

But how about trying to adapt to the expected changes? If you have a choice of building a rail line or a power plant along the coast or inland, maybe inland would be better. If drought is expected in the future, maybe a water-guzzling biofuel plant isn't a great idea. Etc.

So true Leanan. Sorta like the bad idea of putting the majority of our refining capacity in the middle of historic hurricane tracks. Or building nuclear reactors over fault zones in CA, etc, etc. Maybe some of those lessons might sink in. Maybe.

I don't think trying to manage the earth's climate will work.

If it weren't for the hopeless stupidity of political man, it would be quite achievable. Imagine having say 20% of the land covered by square covers, one side is white, the other side black and a compter controlled actuator that can flip the covers over. A computer monitors the weather/climate and decides which squares should be which color when. Collectively the strength of this driver is manyfold stronger than the geological drivers of largescale climate change (or even human greenhouse gases from say all the minable coal on the planet). Of course really large external events, like an asteroid strike or supervolcanic eruption could overwhelm such a systems ability to cope. But baring these once in a few hundred thousand year catastrophies it certainly would be doable in the sci-fi sense.

Imagine having say 20% of the land covered by square covers

I don't want to be insulting, but you really don't have any feel for how big the earth is, do you?

Hey, it would be kind of like the fans in a football stadium holding up their squares to make a big sign. We could have the squares spell out something like, "We need help from friendly aliens to undo all the damage we stupid humans have done to the planet."

I don't think anybody is trying to manage climate change on the scale of thousands of years. Various cycles related to motion of the earth can't be controlled, afterall.

The question is can we stop mucking with natural climate and thereby preventing 5/6 of the population from vaning within this century.

Those who have any notions of the human species lasting it out here on earth until the sun starts to go red giant had better be facing up to realities and challenges involved in living on a planet with those types of climate changes.

Compare homo sapiens with early man, circa 1.2 mya, and then imagine the changes that will occur to the species in the next 1.2 million years. Even that 'short' a period will either eliminate us or alter us past all recognition. Also consider the following:

There are five periods of mass extinctions recognized by scientists. The most massive extinction occurred 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period when between 75% and 97% of Earth's species are estimated to have died out. Perhaps the most recognized mass extinction occurred 65 million years in the late Cretaceous Period when an asteroid slammed into Earth's surface, resulting in the ultimate loss of 70% of the world species, including the dinosaurs. The current period, called the Holocene, may see the greatest mass destruction of species ever due to anthropogenic or human causes.


Climate change is intentionally generally omitted outside of DrumBeat. Climate change views among staff members are very diverse, as are views among readers. Energy issues are fairly clear; climate change issues are murky at best. We don't have any special expertise on climate change. I don't see that changing.

For the most part, I have to agree with Kansas Crude on this. As there are connexions between Peak Oil and the economy, there are connexions between Peak Oil and climate change. But for all that, they are for the most part separate phenomena. Stoneleigh and Illargi set up Automatic Earth to focus on the economic/financial aspect of the situation. If, for some reason the extant climate change sites are inadequate, maybe someone here with a particular interest in this ought to do the same thing, and set up a blog focussing on climate change.

Part of my problem with discussing climate change is that it seems that whenever the subject comes up on Drumbeat, some denier posts some nonsense, this gets refuted and miles of bandwith are wasted on a discussion that convinces nobody of anything.

Another thing that separates Peal Oil/Energy from climate change is the matter of timing. I do not anticipate the oceans rising three or four feet in the next ten years, nor do I see any of the other major effects of climate change playing out in any scale in this timeframe. But in ten years, I see Peak Oil as having obliterated to-day's economy completely out of recognition, and it is to this contraction, near-term compared to climate change, that is going to force serious life-style changes/downsizements throughout the entire population.

Antoinetta III

I think it's rather obvious that Peak Oil and AGW are joined at the hip, so to speak. That's because the BAU solutions to Peak Oil would rely on other fossil carbon energy sources, especially coal, tar sands and (maybe) oil shale. Switching to those primary energy sources as the oil production declines would result in much larger emissions of CO2 per unit of energy delivered to the consumer, which would speed what ever impacts may result from AGW.

While Peak Oil might arrive within 10 years (or may already have passed), the threat of AGW presents an even greater set of problems for humans living in areas which are impacted in a negative way. That AGW may improve the living conditions in some areas makes the problem even more difficult, as cutting CO2 emissions can only work if all nations work toward that goal.

That there is a serious PR effort by some in the denialist camp to spread disinformation and outright lies makes all this much more difficult. I've watched this process transpire on other forums and I tend to be one of those who jump on a poster who denies the scientific findings. That may be because I, as an individual, have no other way to express my utter disgust with the organized efforts intended to subvert the pursuit of truth thru the scientific process. Can our enlightened Western cultures survive the unbridled efforts of those who subvert the foundations of civilized society, in particular, the open and truthful exchange and discussion of ideas and facts?

E. Swanson

I never said that peak Oil might happen in ten years, I said that the economic fallout from Peak Oil would be devastating within ten years. I suspect that such an economic plunge will crush demand by tens of millions of BPD, and there will be sufficient supply for some time for whatever demand remains, the price will also crash, and tar sands, etc will become uneconomic.

I agree that ultimately the effects of climate change will be more devastating, but people react to what confronts them first. And I would maintain that the energy shortage induced economic implosion will happen decades before the serious extremes of climate change make themselves felt.

I'm not a denier, and I don't dispute the evidence; I just think you are overlooking the difference in the timing of when these crises make themselves felt.

Antoinetta III

When I said "more emphasis on climate change," my thinking was that it's time to move beyond arguing about whether AGW is real. I am leaning toward telling people who want to argue about that to take it to RealClimate.

But I agree with Black_Dog that climate change and peak oil are joined at the hip. Especially in our current political system. If AGW is the way TPTB talk about peak oil, well, how can we stay out of that discussion?

Leanan, deleting denier posts and telling the posters to move along to Real Climate would be great, as its the posts of the denier-trolls and those feeding them, the whole lengthy back-and-forth that gets wearying.

Peak Oil is at the outset at least, primarily a liquid fuels problem. A couple of years after ELM seriously kicks in, there's no way that alternative liquid fuels could hope to fill the ever widening gap. The only such alternates are the tar sands and biofuels. Neither will ever scale to any sufficient level. Coal? All you can do with this for liquids is Fischer-Tropsch, and again, that will never scale. And when it becomes clear that these alternates cannot keep up with demand, I expect you will see the granddaddy of all economic implosions, and I could see demand sinking to who knows what? something like 20-40 MBPD. And in that scene, the really nasty stuff like the tar sands will be completely uneconomic, there will be sufficient crude for those relatively few who will still need it.

I don't like the "joined at the hip" description because it implies that one issue has an immediate effect upon the other. The issues are connected, but rather than "joined at the hip", I would say that there is a decades-long leash linking the two. I, and millions of others could go out next week and find our banks collapsed or our jobs gone. Real sudden, banks, jobs, just gone. But even if they doubled the amount of coal burned and went whole-hog on the tar sands, there would be no such immediate result. The oceans will not rise and flood downtown San Francisco or the Central Valley next month or year, though this might happen in a century.

It doesn't seem like this time/speed differential has been taken into consideration. Millions of people can become unemployed, depressions can be sudden, fast and entirely devastating within a matter of months, but even an inch-a-year sea level rise is slow by comparison; I'm not going to have to abandon this computer and run for the hills because the water is coming up my ankles. But a depression could cause me to lose my internet connexion (and the ability to engage in other energy-consuming activities) quite suddenly and quickly.

I suspect most of the climate change that will unfold is already "baked into the cake" as it were. The race to fill the increasing gap between demand and falling supply with coal, tar-sands and bio-fuels will be lost almost before it gets started, creating a mega-depression and a collapse in demand.

None of this means that I am opposed to any discussion of climate change. But please, please banish the out and out deniers, all their blather about sunspots or pointing to some localized cold-snap as evidence against global warming is indeed a waste of band-width.

I also see no evidence that indicates that AGW is a code-word for Peak Oil among the political class. Serious evidence has been presented as to the reality of human-induced climate change while most of the political class remains in denial or ignorance regarding Peak Oil.

Antoinetta III

I am not as convinced of the time scales as you are. I think it's quite possible that climate change will be a more serious problem than peak oil, sooner.

Agree that economics can happen very quickly, but it's not clear how related that is to peak oil. Even peak oilers disagree on this.

Only thinking about sea level rise is too simplistic.
Food and water shortages from weather problems could hit hard and very fast.

I think the 'code word' for peak oil these days is "energy independence".

PO & AGW are indeed joined at the hip. Most of the
measures for dealing with PO will help mitigate AGW.
AGW will increase energy intensity of agriculture which will exasperate the effect of PO.

Your assumption seems to be that the imminent economic disruption from PO will "solve" AGW.

Maybe you need to increase the emphasis on population overshoot as well.That is the mad bull elephant.


Demographic issues, starting with overshoot, moving through the shifting balance of population between 'rich' and 'poor' countries, and the shifting age structure within the 'rich' countries, through geopolitics, and finishing with geocultural changes ... these are, collectively, the elephant. Climate change and peak oil are goads.


IMO my great, great, great, great, grandparents put me on this fantastic unstoppable 'train' by moving away from firewood and using fossil fuels.

At my lattitude there is no going back to the way they powered their agrarian society since most of the trees are gone leaving fields producing only ~60% of our food, and not remotely enough affordable, viable, renewable energy alternates.

In the UK we use ~112 KWH/person/day of primary energy, from my own research and by reading TOD articles for some two and a half years or so I have come to realise that, with a very high probability, in as little as 10 years almost no primary energy will be sourced in the UK and ELM will ensure we can't afford to import it. Even if the world hasn't peaked for production of oil, gas, coal, fiewood, steel, seafish etc, the UK sure has - because of this I expect the UK to reach it's collective credit limit sooner rather than later.

Even if the rest of the '1st' world copes with peak energy, it looks increasing certain that the UK will be a very different place within my lifetime (which due to cancer may be quite short). IMO the economy and things like pensions wiil not work as I have been led to expect now the world is 11 years past peak affordability for oil - hence I made the decision four and a half years ago, in mid 2004, to retire at 55 to enjoy life while it lasts, it was the best decision I ever made - I predicted a serious recession caused by lack of affordable energy and it has happened.

Unlike my friends and aquaintances I have tried very hard to use only renewable energy, but I can't come anywhere close to living without fossil fuels. I am multi-skilled, and in normal times would expect to survive an economic collapse easily, but I'm not so stupid as to think survival of the fittest doesn't apply to me or my nation.

I don't see it as "it hasn't happened yet so maybe it won't for a while".

The collapse is happening but it is nothing like what anyone projected. Its primarily economic and it is having a devastating effect on just about every aspect of life. No "they" have not avoided anything. They have shifted the collapse a bit but this has and will make it all that much more devastating. If you dismiss what I am saying then you are simply in the denial phase. You might think that you have already gone through the denial phase and are beyond that but what you did is you just went through the PO denial phase not the economic one.

Money, or I should say credit and debt are everything. It has even elevated itself above and beyond energy. Obviously this can't go on but the overshoot is real and the correction will effect all.

You might be prepped for PO collapse but you now need to focus 100% on economic collapse.

I think many did project this. This is the scenario that peak oilers called "The Greater Depression" or "The Grand Depression."

It fell out of favor for a couple of years, because oil prices went up and the economy was seemingly immune. But as usual...the prediction was right. The timing was simply wrong.

I've always worked with a different mental model.

I begin with the recognition that PO is just part of a larger phenomenon - the depletion of ALL non-renewable resources. This is absolutely inevitable, it will happen, it is in the process of happening now, but it will take a while to totally play out - well beyond my own lifetime, I'm sure.

This in turn implies that the time is coming when all humankind will have to subsist entirely upon renewable resources (and I include recycling of the capital stock of processed metals, etc. in that). Human societies and economies will be foreced to be sustainable, because growth beyond the limits of what the throughput of available renewable resources will allow is impossible. It doesn't matter how much people might dislike this and deny it and fight against it; this will happen, because there are no alternatives. We might very well degrade the natural carrying capacity to the point where life is worse, and can support fewer people, than might otherwise be the case, but that is the only real variable that is still open and contingent upon actions taken between now and then.

This in turn suggests to me that the only possible direction that both the global and national economies (including the US) can go in the long run is down. Oil was the key commodity, and its peaking the key tipping point. What we have been experiencing over the past year or so is just the beginning.

What is uncertain is whether we will merely have a scary ride down, and then level off into sustainability, or whether the plunge will truly be a catastrophic crash, leaving very little at all amongst the debris.

I operate on the assumption that the second, "doomer" option is pretty much "Game Over" for me and for just about everyone else, so there is little point worrying about it. The first option is by no means assured, yet is clearly the more desirable alternative, and is worth attempting if we can.

It is very much worthwhile, though admittedly quite scary, for everyone to think long and hard about the possibility that the US (or substitute your own nation's) economy will neither "recover" nor "crash", but just keep getting worse and worse, year after year and decade after decade, for the rest of your life. It is going to be a very long, difficult slide down to sustainable level even under the best of circumstances. I have been saying that the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things, and this is what I mean. Year after year, you are likely going to have less money (or at least less real purchasing power), and thus you are going to have to continuously adjust your lifestyle toward getting by on less and less money. Cutting back on energy use will naturally follow, because that is one of the places where most people can cut.

This is your future. Welcome to it!

>>long exercise in giving up things

I was trying to think of this line of yours the other day and came up with

"A long lesson in learning to live with less."

I'm mostly sharing this to see if anyone is getting tired of waiting for the end.

Most people I talk with would probably classify me in the doomer camp. However I don't know anyone even the most doomerist of doomers who is sitting around waiting for the sky to fall. That is a not a sustainable outlook. Those that are doing that are probably going to commit suicide soon and are probably in dire need of anti depressant medication. Not my case, at least not yet ;-)

In my personal case I can't afford the Mercedes convertible, though I do have fond memories of my old Alfa spider convertible, I drive an old Escort 5 speed manual and quite frankly I don't find it uncomfortable, it gets me where I want to go and it doesn't impress anyone. That's not to say you shouldn't spend your money on nice therapeutic Mercedes, it might still be cheaper than a shrink.

Anyways it really is more about lifestyle choices based on what you know and who you are and how you leverage that to make yourself, your loved ones and your true friends as happy as you can be.

You are right if you don't think that you as an individual can make any difference then chances are you won't. Some of us who are still trying to push for change probably won't either.
There is however an infinitesimal chance that a few will succeed in making some ever so small incremental changes that will make some new paradigm just as desirable as the one that now comforts you. Perhaps it will even be sustainable.

When I get tired of waiting for the end I get on my kayak paddle it out to the reef and spend some time looking at the tropical fish sometimes I bring a lobster home for dinner. I makes me happy! Some people couldn't get the same lobster dinner without going out to some fancy restaurant where their car is parked by a valet...

I doubt this will make you feel as good as driving around in your new convertible but here's some food for thought.

This winter, a record 49 million Americans are going hungry because of the economy.
Perhaps you could afford to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year to:

Those 49 million Americans aren't sitting around waiting for the end they are already experiencing it first hand...

Cheers and have a Happy New Year!


I'm a doomer and have been for a long,long time. I guess one difference between us is that I like the way I live and don't feel deprived*. I agree that what I do won't amount to a hill of beans...but so what? I have reasonable security from what will eventually happen and peace of mind.


*Actually, if I had the money to buy a new car, I'd probably buy more gravel for the road instead.

Like the old joke:

"I wish I had enough money to buy an elephant".

"What would you do with an elephant?"

"I don't want an elephant, I just wish I had enough money to buy one!"

..or maybe this one..

"I don't want to buy happiness. Just a boat and some other stuff."

I went through that phase when I first found TOD a few years ago, being sure all hell was going to break loose any day as oil prices rose relentlessly. Nothing bad happened locally, hell I still wouldn't even know there was a recession if not for the news/internet. Maybe my proxy to DC has skewed my vision, but all this sky-is-falling stuff is nowhere to be seen near me.

Now I'm more or less at the "I don't give a sh*t" phase. Whatever's gonna happen is gonna happen. Me having a PV-fitted house isn't going to help at all if there's a rapid collapse so I figure why bother. Basically I'm down to being motivated by money at this point. My house is all electric and electricity prices actually went down 10% this year so there's no incentive for me to take any drastic measures. If they start going up again then maybe I'll consider the switch to a ground-source heat pump or PV's. But for now it's the same as it ever was. The longer I wait the better the tech gets and the cheaper it seems to become.

This is still my favorite website to visit and I do so daily. Right now I'm treating PO like a movie with a protagonist and antagonist. It's entertaining to read the shots back and forth like Iraq producing 145243 Mbpd in 37 days vs. Saudi Arabia on the verge of a net export disaster.

I think I can sum up my expectations and internal conflict by what decision I make for my next motorcycle purchase. I currently go back and forth between the utilitarian KLR 650 or something extravagent like a BMW R1200GSA or Ducati Hypermotard. I've got a year or two to decide, we'll see how I feel then but for now I'm leaning toward the BMW or Ducati.

Long term I'm a doomer - US standards of living will go down and we'll be less mobile, that I'm sure. I'm just no longer as certain it'll happen within my lifetime.

I'm mostly sharing this to see if anyone is getting tired of waiting for the end.

In the early 70's when I was a 'back to the land' hippie fresh out of college, my spouse and I bought a rural place in Western NC. We were concerned about TEOTWAWKI because of nuclear war, environmental collapse, population bomb, you name it . Among the first people we met were 'Jesus Freaks' who had their own place and were waiting for the final rapture.
Well, the years passed and we all (hippie survivalists and Jesus Freaks) had to go get jobs and figure out how to pay the bills.

Although I'm still pretty much a Malthusian, the slow moving of history ala JM Greer begins to make a lot more sense. We now own a fairly nice rural place, grow a big garden and try to map hopefully a wiser path into the future.

ET, If you're certain that depleting oil from a peak of production is of no concern, then why post on TOD?

Earl, I'm not sure how you get this from my post. PO is definitely a concern, as is AGW, ecological devastation, etc. I just am no longer chewing my nails on a day-to-day basis but expecting things to play out over several decades, probably longer than my natural life. This doesn't mean I am not preparing, just that this 'preparing' has become incorporated in to my normal lifestyle of reducing consumption and increasing personal productivity and, above all, having fun.

BAU has very high inertia...........................

I'm mostly sharing this to see if anyone is getting tired of waiting for the end.

For myself, and I do consider myself a doomer, the introduction to peak-oil completely changed my view of the world which, somewhat paradoxically, has turned out to be an extremely positive development.

Why? Because in voraciously reading everything I could find related to peak-oil I was introduced to the topic of ecological overshoot, and that in turn led me to the topic of systems dynamics, or more generally "systems thinking".

That experience has been the single most enlightening of my entire life. It has given me the ability to think in terms of whole systems. More specifically, I now have the ability to put everything I see and hear into the all-embracing context of the Earth's complex ecological systems, which in turn are self-organized around the fundamental thermodynamic realities shared by the entire universe.

My lifestyle has not changed significantly, I've always been one for so-called "voluntary simplicity" anyway (mostly for economic reasons). Furthermore, I certainly don't expect things to completely fall apart tomorrow. Current events in our complex interconnected systems of energy, economy and environment were decades in the making and will probably take decades more to play out. What has radically changed for me is the now greatly enlarged, much better informed, and ecologically literate view of the world that I carry around in my head, and for that I will always be grateful to the many sites like TOD.


EIA Weekly Report:

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 25, 2009

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.5 million barrels from the previous week. At
326.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of
the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories
decreased by 0.3 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of
the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components
inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.0
million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this
time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.5 million barrels
last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial
petroleum inventories decreased by 8.1 million barrels last week, but are above
the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

The Great Demand Meter Revolt is taking place in California.

I lived with demand metering in New York City, in an industrial building operating a nursery. I used 4.5kw of lighting daily plus 5kw of refrigeration. The meter measured demand loading (amperes) in 30 minute increments; the greatest incremental load in any billing cycle was billed. Simply running equipment guaranteed very high electric bills; to cope with the demand cycle I used timers to operate refrigeration and amp- hungry equipment for 25 minute on- five minutes off during the day when current load was metered.

Ordinary meters measure watts/hr without measuring current. Smart meters have remote features as well as the ability to measure 'reverse flows' but the problem is the demand metering.

Just adding these meters without the equipment to manage current flows is simply taking customers' money. The equipment necessary to manage current costs several thousand dollars as there is no 'one size fits all' approach. I used industrial current management equipment as I couldn't tolerate breakdowns and had a difficult operating environment.


This stuff isn't cheap and installing it is not a do it yourself project.

Also, noting above:

Oil Heads for Biggest Annual Gain in a Decade Amid Iran Unrest

Trade of the Day/ trade of the week/ trade of the decade is the Dollar/oil trade:

Forget dollar/euro, dollar/yen, dollar/gold, oil priced is dollars is where the action is. Even with tons of crude floating offshore, the oil powers can always gin up some political action to keep prices high ... but not too high. At the current $79 a barrel, the markets are looking for a place to lie down.

$79 is the new $147.

We're in Cal. and very concerned about those stupid 'smart' meters, which fortunately have not been installed at our home yet in northern California. It sounds like an attempt to dramatically increase rates. If rates need to be increased, then the utility company, (PG&E) needs to explain to us why they are being raised so much - not hide behind a meter named 'smart'.

If that program goes ahead in spite of evidence that rates are substantially rising because of them, then that will put a tremendous amount of added pressure on people already financially stressed during this long recession.

As it is, I'm already suspicious of their meters. We own a home and rent one down the street for my wife's business. Both houses are similar in size and run the same electrical equipment, yet one cost a minimum of a 100 a month and the other costs a min. of 200 a month. How is that possible?

What's also stupid is claiming people will be able to use less energy during times of heavy usage on the system. If it's 3-7 pm in the Summer and it's a 105 degrees outside we have the AC on and so does everyone else. Are we suppose to look at the meter and then decide it's an opportunity to save energy and turn off the AC?! Don't they realize times of heavy usage are for a reason?

If it's 3-7 pm in the Summer and it's a 105 degrees outside we have the AC on and so does everyone else. Are we suppose to look at the meter and then decide it's an opportunity to save energy and turn off the AC?! Don't they realize times of heavy usage are for a reason?

There is an intresting web site for seeing California's approximate electrical load, if it is an interest for these discussions:


Hi Earl,

Well, I'm in N.Ca too. We've had TOU metering for umpteen years. Currently the tariff for most people on TOU is set from 1PM-7PM. We were grandfathered in with our old time of Noon-6PM which fits our lifestyle...if it's sunny, we are on the PV system.

However, peak demand metering (if it is based on amps*is something else if it changes rates based on this. When I irrigate the orchard it isn't unusual for me to run the well pump for 6-10 hours straight on the grid on weekends when all time is off peak.

PG&E is going to come out of this smelling like manure if that's the case.


*There must be some PUC info on this.

Just adding these meters without the equipment to manage current flows is simply taking customers' money. The equipment necessary to manage current costs several thousand dollars as there is no 'one size fits all' approach.

Hi Steve,

I disagree. Businesses with poor load factors drive up the cost of service for all ratepayers; demand meters are a fair and equitable way to allocate cost on a per customer basis, and when combined with TOU, the results are even better.

Every business has its own load profile, but there are some simple and inexpensive options to reduce on-peak demand. For example, when we upgraded the lighting at a junior high school earlier this month I noticed two electric water heaters in the new wing -- a 270 litre tank rated at 4,500-watts and a 360 litre unit drawing 6,000-watts. We'll be placing these two tanks on timers so that they recharge overnight (there should be sufficient storage capacity to serve basic hand washing needs).

The customer is on a demand meter and energy is priced according to a two-tier declining block rate. The first two hundred kWh per kW of demand, per month, are charged at a higher rate, so an improved load factor means more of the energy consumed over the course of the month will shift to the lower cost second tier. The savings are as follows:

1) Demand: 10.5 kW x $9.034/mth x 12 mths/yr = $1,138.28
2) Energy: 10.5 kW x 200 kWh per kW x $0.02822/kWh x 12 mths/yr = $711.14
Total Savings: $1,849.42/year

The cost to install the two electronic timers is $250.00, which means the simple payback is less than two months.

In offices with supplemental electric baseboard strips that are basically used as "draft barriers" (i.e., they're there to minimize the chill of the glass), we'll often replace the heating elements with ones intended to operate at a high voltage. Thus, an eight ft. strip that would normally consume 2,000-watts at 208-volts would be replaced by a 347-volt strip driven at this lower voltage, which drops the load to 720-watts. Often this results in greater occupant comfort because the strips operate for longer periods whereas, previously, they would cycle on an off repeatedly.


Hey Paul,

I agree, in the longer term, allocating power must be with demand metering. I just don't gain the impression that California utilities are not treating their customers fairly.

When I contracted for power with Con Edison, I was assigned a service manager who came out to my shop and discussed the load factors, time elements and at what level the rate shifted to a discount. I was able to design a set up that avoided large daytime demand.

I doubt anyone is explaining the meters and the rationale behind them to customers. People run A/C during hot weather the same time their neighbors are doing the same. Domestic, residential service would be 2 pole 220v. Presuming that demand is billed according to highest time period KW use within any billing cycle some kind of interrupter is needed to keep demand periods short enough not to trigger demand pricing.

Water heaters and lighting can be dealt with by timer systems but newer A/C systems cannot be mains- disconnected without manually restarting the unit. Consequently, I've had to rewire equipment to bypass electronic controls. I've had the same issue with heaters.

The utility has to be more upfront with the effects of these meters, it doesn't seem that they are.

In Northern Virginia there is a service that allows for the utility to shut off water heaters, heat pumps and other gadgets during excessive load periods. Equipment belongs to the utility and is designed to operate from a phone line - it could also work from the meter and whatever control protocol designed for the particular meter. I was under the impression that this was to be the 'smart meter' approach.

Running room heaters with higher- voltage elements is a good idea, I've never thought of that. Have you tried other kinds of elements/heaters other than the baseboard types?

Hi Steve,

I don't know of any residential rate tariff that includes a demand component with the exception of one offered by Black Hills Power/Otter Tail and to be eligible to participate you must have an approved load controller.

The primary objective is to encourage consumers to shift a portion of their normal usage to off-peak hours, e.g., water heating, laundry, dish washer, pool pumps, etc.. There may be some opportunity to reduce space heating and cooling demand during peak times, especially during milder weather, by simply adjusting the thermostat up or down a couple degrees, e.g., lowering the thermostat an hour or so before the peak rate kicks in to pre-chill the home, then bumping it up a few degrees during this higher cost period (ideally, by way of a programmable thermostat).

Most consumers, if they're willing make a few modest adjustments in their usage patterns, will come out ahead and if you put a little extra effort into it, you should do quite well. A 5 to 15 per cent reduction in utility costs is fairly typical. But your point is well taken -- consumers need to know how this change will affect them and the steps they can take to avoid any nasty surprises.

We've only used the under-voltage trick with baseboard strips so far, but there's no reason why it couldn't be done with other resistance heating applications.


I suspect this is a big bruhaha(sp?) about nothing. Unless you switch to a different charging algorithm (I they are called tarrifs), the meters just measure power consumed. So really from the customer standpoint a meter is a meter is a meter. Of course there is the cost to the utility of the changeover (I think this is close to $200 per meter), but presumably this can be played off against the savings in the expense of reading them (i.e. replacing meter readers). But they are providing little expanation, one day the guys show up, and you have the new meter. For me it happened twice, first the smart meter, then after the PV system was installed they came around and replaced that with an (older?) net meter. I have been monitoring my consumption, reading and recording twice per day for several months, and the new meter hasn't changed my measured consumption materially. The only difference is some meters are easier to read than others.

But, with a lack of trust, and occasional errors (I think they overread my net meter by 50KwHr for the first reading -but presumably my next months bill will be lower bacause of this), people will make up all sorts of conspriracy stories. I'm glad I'm not the poor guy PG&E will send out to the town meetings!

I don't see the voltage thing for room heaters. Except for line loses, resitance heating is simply power consumed (converted to heat). Of course resistance heating is ridiculously wasteful, better use natural has heating, or an air source heat pump. Using a resistance heater to heat only one room is a mugs game, you lose a factor of about three by using electrical resistance versus using a natural gas furnace. I doubt you can gain overall by this strategy. Better to add some insulation, and get used to wearing a sweater of pullover indoors, so you can turn down the thermostat instead. We keep ours at 61-62, which for the mild California climate probably reduces you heating demand by at least a factor of two. If you are renting you probably don't want to invest in someone elses insulation, but weather stripping on doors costs maybe $10, and is well worth it even for the apartment dweller who may move next season.

Hi EoS,

My take on the fuss over smart meters mirrors your own.... in some ways it reminds me of the "adding fluoride to our municipal water supply is a communist plot to poison us" argument from the '50s and '60s.

The reason for switching out baseboard strips for ones designed to operate at a higher line voltage is not to save energy but rather to reduce peak demand -- running a 347-volt strip at 208-volts cuts demand by nearly two-thirds. It's not uncommon in these parts to have supplemental baseboard strips that supply additional warmth along exterior walls (working next to a wall of glass when it's -25C outside is otherwise unbearable), and for commercial account holders with demand meters, these strips can drive up utility costs considerably. This change means the heaters will produce less heat but run much longer, thereby flattening their load profile.

When a standard density strip is used for supplemental heat you often get this alternating hot/cold effect, i.e., the heater kicks on for five minutes, then shuts off for ten (there's insufficient thermal mass to even out the swings so when the elements turn off, the flow of heat quickly tapers off and you feel cold again). Reducing heat output by two-thirds allows the strips to run much longer without overheating the space, and the elimination of the short cycling has the added benefit of enhancing occupant comfort.


What about light filtering double honeycomb blinds on those windows ?

Nest Hopes for Insulation,


Hi Alan,

They would help considerable, no doubt, but other factors come into play. When I worked for the Ontario Ministry of Energy our offices were located at 56 Wellesley St. West (the Suncor Building) and anytime I adjusted the blinds on my window the maintenance staff would throw a fit because the building owners (O&Y) wanted to maintain a "uniform look" (apparently, what I was doing was strengstens verboten). Having the right answer doesn't always win the day.


In "Finally a switch to natural gas", a comment was made that, "Natural gas is a clean source of energy and is environment friendly."

Considering the following, how clean is NG, in reality? It is still a hydrocarbon, and still contributes to AGW, IMO.

The emissions from natural gas-fired boilers and furnaces include nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon
monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), volatile organic
compounds (VOCs), trace amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM).


Ignoring the CO2 for the moment, a small, modern, well-maintained natural gas burner -- for example, a 95% efficient residential furnace unit -- is about the cleanest way to combust fossil fuels we have. CO and CH4 are usually the result of incomplete combustion. VOCs are usually the result of incomplete combustion of longer-chain hydrocarbons in the mix. Almost any combustion process produces some NOx and N2O if straight air is used as the oxidizer; natural gas burners can be designed to significantly reduce production. Good natural gas burners have much lower emissions of all these pollutants except CO than oil or coal. As point of comparison, the best wood burning systems available will emit at least as much NOx, CO, VOCs and CH4 as the natural gas burner.

Things do get significantly worse when you burn NG in an ICE, a turbine, or large-scale burners such as industrial boilers simply because the combustion chamber is so much harder to control, but are still generally better than oil or coal.

Fuel cells that can use methane directly (eg, liquid tin anode cells, not yet commercialized) are probably cleaner than any form of combustion.

There's an article today in The Times ( London) which echos Jeff Rubins sentiments:


Laid-off executives struggle to find any kind of job

From a six-figure salary to $10/hour at See's Candies.

To me, the lifestyles described seem a bit extravagant for their incomes. $400,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn't, for the NYC area. Especially if you have four kids. Seven vacations a year? That's a vacation every seven weeks. And $25,000 in credit card debt, in the good times? That seems like a lot, for a guy making six figures.

But it sounds like it will be different in the future, even if the good times return:

Yet, even after Boose lands a position, he and his wife say they won't return to their old lifestyle.

"My Coach bag, my $150 woven baskets, my designer pocketbooks that sit in my closet," Karen says. "They just seem so silly now when they were so important before."

"Ford Offers 41,000 Employees Buyout"


Also the word from some friends high up at HP, a big employer here in town, is another big cull is set for early Jan.

While there are preliminary pieces of "news" claiming that consumer spending was up during the holiday season, preliminary sales tax reports are indicating that sales are down year-over-year from the 2008 holiday season. If this holds true, and because many retail outlets derive as much as 50% of annual revenues from the holiday season, it would seem likely that there will be a number of retail bankruptcies and commensurate layoffs in the first quarter of 2010. The fact that Ford and possibly HP both are seeking to downsize their workforces reinforces this fact, especially as Ford has been the most successful of the US auto companies in navigating the current recession.

There are also rumors that at least one large bank, Bank of America, will release a large number of foreclosed properties onto the US real estate market in the first quarter, as holding them in an effort to prop up existing real estate prices is costing more than the effort is worth. If one major bank does this, others will be forced to do so as well and we may have another 20%-50% leg down in real estate from where we currently are.

The above two points bode ill for the economy of 2010 if they should come to pass.

Where does one find sales tax reports? I suppose a big shift in buying to the Internet could affect these, at least a bit.

Low sales tax receipts means that states will have more difficulty with their budgets, as well as potential problems for the retailers.

David: That is pretty much what I have been predicting as well. I very much doubt that the holiday retail season was anywhere near as good as the initial propaganda suggested. Not good enoough to stave off a brutal round of store closings and a few big retail bankruptcies.

Another piece to this ugly picture is commercial real estate (CRE). The store closings this January are likely to be the tipping point for a lot of distressed properties.

I am no longer certain about any immediate impact from CRE. Given that the Treasury Department has basically given "extend and pretend" offers to any bank holding real estate that can show via a model (a spreadsheet) that the property even might recover its value in 3-5 years and thus does not have to declare the mortgage as a problem, the crisis in CRE could be delayed for quite some time. This is part of what has slowed down the real estate crisis, not any real new surge in buying, just the ability to pretend that the property will be worth something eventually.

Unfortunately, as Bank of America is rumored to be discovering, holding those properties has a price, especially if you plan to resell them later. And that price may be growing larger than the benefit of the game. However, since the CRE crisis is just getting underway, and because maintaining CRE values is simpler than maintaining individual home values, at least on paper, the banks holding large amounts of bad CRE loans may extend this process out for a few years as well. I would not make any bets on CRE because even though I know it's a ticking time bomb, I have no idea how long the fuse actually is.

As long as you still have tenants, "extend-and-pretend" could be a viable option. But with the businesses failing, and empty space in malls increasing, that strategy cannot work forever..

Well...here's the kicker. Even if retail was up this month from last year, that still is not saying much. Last year was horrible. Also, what matters are the full year comparisons. Many were running below last year going into Christmas and, even if Christmas was up a bit over last year, the entire year was down.

The preliminary news items on holiday retail sales reported they were up, compared to November, compared to last year. There was more spin in that story than in Rumplestiltskin!

November spin was that it was only down a bit y-o-y, neglecting that November 2008 was total disaster and never mentioning that 1.2% lower than a disaster was a worse case.

I am not surprised about BOA; they have more distressed loans than any other lender. If they do sell them in the Spring, that may be the legendary straw to break the economy's back. If, that is, the burgeoning commercial R/E crisis does not do so earlier. Just a few large bankruptcies would about do it, and many smaller ones seem likely. The samll ones involving ma & pa businesses could be all it takes, as their rentals removed, keeping up all that debt will no longer be feasible.

Some times doing everything with OPM is not such a good idea. Leverage is good when things are going up; it will rise up and bite you when they start to drop.

Good luck in 2010!

Taliban Bob isn't even governor yet, and he is already saying stupid things.

McDonnell asks U.S. for permission to drill off shore

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (R) recently sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to allow for the exploration of oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

In the letter dated Dec. 23, McDonnell urged him to avoid any further delay in the lease, now scheduled for 2011.

McDonnell's letter comes months after outgoing Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) sent his own letter to Salazar earlier this year asking for a delay in drilling off the Virginia coast.

Midnight in the food-stamp economy

SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At 11 p.m. on the last day of the month, shoppers flock to the nearest Walmart. They load their carts with food and household items and wait for the midnight hour. That's when food stamp credits are loaded on their electronic benefits transfer cards.

...As food stamps become an increasingly common currency in a struggling U.S. economy, they are dictating changes in how even the biggest retailers do business.

From Costco to Wal-Mart, store chains are rethinking years of strategy as they watch prized customers lose jobs and turn to this benefit, the stigma of which is disappearing not just in society, but in corporate America.

There was a fascinating article in today's NYT on China's investment in a large copper deposit in Afghanistan. Front page.

Maybe it's here and I missed it. If not, maybe a web jockey can find it and link it.

As US fights the Taliban, China gets down to business in Afghanistan

"Behind an electrified fence, blast-resistant sandbags and 53 National Police outposts, the Afghan surge is well under way.

But the foot soldiers in a bowl-shaped valley about 30 kilometers, or 20 miles, southeast of Kabul are not fighting the Taliban, or even carrying guns. They are preparing to extract copper from one of the richest untapped deposits on earth. And they are Chinese, undertaking by far the largest foreign investment project in war-torn Afghanistan.

Two years ago, China Metallurgical Group, a state-owned conglomerate, bid $3.4 billion—$1 billion more than any of its competitors from Canada, Europe, Russia, the United States and Kazakhstan — for the rights to mine deposits near the village of Aynak. Over the next 25 years, it plans to extract about 11 million tons of copper—an amount equal to one-third of all the known copper reserves in China.



Maybe it's time to bust a military move on Iran.

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Thousands of Iranian political supporters jammed the streets of the capital and other cities Wednesday in response to anti-government rallies during Sunday's observances of the holy day of Ashura. As crowds headed toward Revolution Square, they cried "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Moussavi."

Amenijad is a crazy nut that is trying to make a nuke to bomb Israel and falsified the vote in the latest election. With the country focused on its internal turmoil, now is a great time to attack.

Surely you are joking that we should attack them..

Peak Earl: Maybe it is past time for the U.S. to learn that this is none of their business and quit trying to run the entire world according to domestic hubris.

Maybe it's time to bust a military move on Iran...

Well if we're getting restless, I'd much rather start with Wall Street.

Anyone who thinks Ahmedinejad is any nuttier than Bush was or that he is a dictator is in sore need of some education. Also realizing he is asking that hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) be killed on a whim would be a good idea.

The Political Ecology of Collapse, Part Three: The Archdruid Report

"The most reasonable estimates suggest that, given a crash program and the best foreseeable technologies, renewable sources can probably provide the United States with around 15% of the energy it currently gets from fossil fuels.

Since every good and service in the economy is the product of energy, it’s a very rough but functional approximation to say that in a green economy, every American will have to get by on the equivalent of 15% of his or her current income. Take a moment to work through the consequences in your own life; if you made $50,000 in 2009, for example, imagine having to live on $7,500 in 2010. That’s quite a respectable income by Third World standards, but it won’t support the kind of lifestyle that the vast majority of Americans, across the political spectrum, believe is theirs by right."


Happy New Year

May be too simplistic. Does not account for the following.

Housing would be way cheaper.
Massive conservation and efficiency would require less energy
Living in much smaller spaces, down to 100 square feet/person
Localization of food and other sources
Redesign of cities to eliminate auto use
Lower input agriculture
Sharing to lower embodied energy use/person
Elimination of air travel
Less energy per each good and service

i could go on but I think that the true impact of reduced available energy requires a more detailed analysis. To assume a one to one ratio between energy use and income seems flawed.

How do we significantly reduce energy use without total impoverishmnet? This is not clear, but I think we can do way better than a linearnreduction in come as a function of energybuse

But on the other hand ... maybe not ?

15% of average US energy use is roughly my personal goal. And with a higher quality of life than the average American.

Just bought a new Mac Mini, refurbished, for $419 from Apple that operates on 14 watts (monitor not included). Perhaps 25% of what most desktops use (~60 watts ?). No loss of utility AFAIK.

Bought double honeycomb (R-4 or so) for most of my windows (good deals out there now). Energy loss through my windows is now 15% of what is was before, they also reduce noise and they look good !

My VMT traveled is <15% of the average American, and I get 28 to 30 mpg when I do drive.

Best Hopes for using 85% less energy !


Perhaps 25% of what most desktops use (~60 watts ?). No loss of utility AFAIK.

The current Mac Mini:

Maximum continuous power: 110W

For comparison the current iMac:

Maximum continuous power: 241W (21.5-inch model); 365W (27-inch models)

If I have to guess, most of the time these computers probably need about 60% of the total power requirement. Obviously your Mac Mini is not the same as the iMac, however, you do need a monitor to see what you are doing.

One real world measurement (my computer is on idle while my extremely low bandwidth eyeballs process information).


Plenty of others.


Hi Alan,

My DSL modem and T42 ThinkPad and docking station draw a combined total of 31-watts in light duty use (8 + 23-watts respectively). For standard web browsing and e-mail, I use the laptop's internal screen but if I'm working on large spreadsheets I redirect its output to my 24 inch LCD monitor, and that bumps total wattage to 46-watts.

The external monitor screen brightness is set to "0", so the screen is dim but still usable -- a brightness setting of "20" increases demand to 57-watts and a setting of "60", 78-watts. The moral of the story is to reduce monitor brightness to the lowest setting that is still comfortable for viewing.


I have a fit-pc1, 6 watts. What I like best is there's no noisy fan. Now if only my monitor will last till electronic paper displays become available.

I was surprised to read this too. Afterall Greer talks about slow decline rather than a sudden collapse (which is what 15% energy or 15% income could be).

I'm getting fairly positive that we have a lot of nukes in our future - may be Gen III + or after a few years may be even Gen IV. That would come in handy.

I suspect that GDP and wellbeing is not proportional to energy consumption, but can decline much slower than it. Today we waste huge amounts of energy because of a combination of convenience and ignorance.Any rational response to using less would eliminate this highcost low-value added first. Some examples, leaving lights on because in an hour you might want to re-enter a room. Using open freezers in grocery stores. Keeping the theromstate at 75F in winter, why not 64F plus a sweater? The list could go on and on. By picking the easiest negawatts first we could reduce consumption drastically, with only a minor hit to the economy and our lifestyle.

That, and the claim than renewables couldn't surpass 15% of current usage is pure baloney. Its mainly a matter of investing in the resorce -including dealing with intermittency. But perhaps with atention paid to negawatts (eliminating waste), we may only need 25% to maintain BAU-lite.

Reducing retail space by 2/3rds to 3/4ths would hardly impact anyone's quality of life.


I'm inclined to think that Greer's 15% is just a tad too pessimistic (although not out of the realm of possibility).

According to the latest 2008 US energy flow chart from Lawrence Livermore Labs, if you add up solar, hydro, wind, geothermal and biomass you get 7.28 quads, which is 7.3% of the total US energy supply of 99.2 quads. If you include the 0.11 of net electricity imports, which is pretty much all hydro from Canada, then that is 7.39 quads, or almost 7.5% of the total.

Greer is suggesting that the most we can ever increase all renewables to is twice that present total. That seems much too pessimistic to me. We certainly are not going to be able to ramp renewables up to almost 100 quads, or even 50 quads. However, 25 quads, over the next century? I'm not yet convinced that something like that is totally out of the realm of possibility.

Simply deploying solar thermal - water and space heating - on a widespread basis should be good for 3-5 quads, not even counting on any more PVs at all. Surely we can ramp wind up to at least something close to 10 quads or more at a minimum. If we eventually transition to district heating plants in urban areas, and make extensive use of geothermal heat pumps, then geothermal should go from half a quad up to at least 3-5 quads. I know some don't like hydro, but it is going to happen, and a lot of it is going to happen in Canada; we should be able to up those net electricity imports to at least a couple of quads. I'm not a fan of ethanol, and I think there are limits on how much we can divert acreage from food crops to biofuel feedstocks, but we could increase our production of biodiesel quite a bit, and will need to in order to keep essential equipment running as the oil exports vanish. Biomass should be able to increase to something in the range of 5-10 quads. Add those up, and it looks to me like the potential is definitely there to reach 25 quads. Usings Greers logic (with which I concur), that implies US per capita GDP leveling off in the range of 25% of present. This is the figure I have been using and quoting.


re: "simply deploying solar thermal..."

1) Do you think there will be the means to deploy and that the actual deployment will occur?

2) Something else I wonder about: This hypothetical total energy use number will have to include energy used for maintenance of those very systems.


There are very simple, low-tech designs for solar space and water heating that could be built with scrap glass, metal, wood and plastic. I am talking about stuff that is mostly 19th and early 20th century technology. We would have to collapse very, very far for these kind of things to be out of reach.

Even brand new, the cost is not that much. One can get a solar water heating system installed for somewhere in the range of $5K or so, which is within reach for quite a few people.

Ponzi collapses nearly quadrupled in '09

It was a rough year for Ponzi schemes. In 2009, the recession unraveled nearly four times as many of the investment scams as fell apart in 2008, with "Ponzi" becoming a buzzword again thanks to the collapse of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion plot.

We'll have to wait for a while to see if 2009 was the year of Peak Ponzi Schemes...

I don't fly much anymore (thankfully), but I got to thinking today - after the shoe bomber we had to take off our shoes in airport security, so what happens now after the underwear bomber? Just wondering.

Just show up at the airport with a towel. Seriously though, how are they going to guard against shoving explosives up your body cavity. Perhaps they will install cameras in the toilets.

OMG, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent will be in BIG trouble!

Seriously though, how are they going to guard against shoving explosives up your body cavity

Industrial strength laxatives?

I'll stick to sailing thanks...

I'll stick to sailing thanks...

You could become a pirate to combat global warming :-)

Ironically I posted that exact link in response to a troll's comment over at RealClimate just yesterday. Maybe I'll become a hacker instead, at the moment it seems more lucrative ;-)

Next time you need a prostate exam, just go on an airline trip and have the security check it while they are 'in there.'

I've claimed since the whole siucide bombing thing began, that the future public dress code is anything so long as you only wear your birthday suit! Of course the members of a certain religious group that currently provides suicide bombers would be horrified at what their fanaticism brought!

I can see a LOT of passengers being less than thrilled with this idea? I wonder how much of a bite this will take out of the airline industry.

Antoinetta III

Review panel backs Mackenzie Valley pipeline


It's a shame they won't be using the steel to improve infrastructure. What a black hole project.