Drumbeat: January 2, 2010

Report Cites Crippling Infighting at Nuclear Site

The infighting among the federal officials in charge of the Savannah River Site, a federally owned nuclear site in South Carolina that won one of the country’s biggest pots of stimulus money, is so severe that it threatens to undermine public confidence in their work, a federal watchdog warned Thursday.

The watchdog, the Department of Energy’s inspector general, conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into a host of accusations that have been swirling ever since relations between the department officials who work at the site and those who oversee them from Washington broke down last summer. The resulting report was inconclusive about many of the specific accusations that had been made, but highlighted what it called an “unusual level of distrust and acrimony” among officials in charge of the highly contaminated nuclear site.

Hands Off the Watershed

New York City has now officially registered its ringing opposition to a proposal by state regulators to allow natural gas drilling in the watershed that supplies drinking water to more than eight million city residents. Albany should amend its proposal and put the area permanently off limits to drilling.

For Chevron, It Could Be a Happy New Year

Perhaps the most promising major integrated oil company for 2010, Chevron is well-positioned to prosper as its customers' energy needs grow. Plus, the stock is cheap -- and has a fat dividend, to boot.

Saudi Revenues Fall in 2009 on Oil Price Correction, Output Cut

JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia's revenues have been brought down by more than half in 2009 by the sharp correction in oil prices and drastic crude oil production cuts, according to the National Commercial Bank, or NCB, report on Saudi Arabia's 2010 budget.

The report further said fall in revenues and higher than budgeted expenditures, turned the fiscal balance into a deficit of SR45 billion (or 3.3 per cent of GDP), compared to a peak of SR581 billion (or 33 per cent of GDP) in 2008. While this accounts as the first budget deficit since 2002, it remains small both in nominal terms and relative to GDP compared to the 1990s, when the government was plagued by persistent deficits in excess of 30 per cent of GDP and massive debt burdens. The report further said fiscal revenues came in higher than budgeted, owing to higher oil prices in the second half of 2009.

New Zealand: Oil reserves secured

The government has reached arrangements to ensure the country doesn't run out of oil.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee says adequate reserves have been secured through an international tender.

Under International Energy Agency rules, the country must hold the equivalent of 90 days worth of oil imports - approximately 100,000 tonnes of crude.

Rare Tortoises Could Stand in Way of California Solar-Energy Complex

Two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions between wilderness conservation and the nation's quest for cleaner power.

The wasteful avalanche of 12 million light bulbs

Twelve million low-energy light bulbs were posted to households over Christmas by an energy company as part of its legal obligation to cut carbon emissions, despite government advice that many would never be used.

Npower sent out the packages last month to escape a ban on issuing unsolicited bulbs, which came into force yesterday. The German-owned company saved millions of pounds by giving away the bulbs. Alternative ways of meeting its obligation, such as insulating homes, are much more effective but up to seven times more expensive.

‘Cash for caulkers’ - a boon for energy and the economy

TWO FACTS are driving the Obama administration’s “cash for caulkers’’ proposal to offer homeowners rebates for energy-saving projects. The first is that 17 percent of the nation’s construction workers are still unemployed and could use the work. The second is that homes are responsible for 21 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, twice as much as passenger cars. President Obama should send a bill to Congress as quickly as possible to get the program up and running.

Premier adamant on tying energy future to Quebec

HALIFAX–Competing visions of how to wean Atlantic Canada from fossil fuels and hook it into a greener hydroelectric grid have caused premiers to clash and old hopes of regional unity to falter.

Climate change is inspiring the ultimate scary movies

Disaster film-makers struggling to compete with the realities of the post-9/11 world have, in global warming, found the perfect plot device.

Sustainability Comes of Age

A growing number of graduate programs in sustainability address the issues affecting cities.

Will Higher Global Temperatures Make It Easier for Viruses to Jump Species?

ScienceDaily — An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Idaho soon will begin investigating whether viruses that have adapted to higher temperatures -- similar to increases due to global warming -- can jump species more easily.

Russia 2009 oil output hits new high after 2008 blip

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil output grew by around 1.5 percent in 2009 to a new post-Soviet high, putting the world's largest crude producer on an upward trend again after a 2008 blip, when production fell for the first time in a decade.

Energy ministry data showed on Saturday the country extracted 9.925 million barrels per day last year, a record since the collapse of the Soviet Union, up from 9.78 million bpd in 2008 and 9.87 million bpd in 2007.

The resumption in growth came as a surprise. At the end of 2008 analysts had largely expected the decline to continue due to a lack of new greenfield developments and a sharp drop in crude prices

But as crude prices recovered and oil majors such as Rosneft sped up the development of East Siberian fields to fill Russia's first pipeline to the Pacific, output outpaced expectations and growth is expected to continue.

Heating Oil Hits 13-Month High as Frigid Weather Cuts Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- Heating oil reached a 13-month high as the frigid weather that has drained distillate supplies was projected to extend into January, increasing demand for the motor fuel.

Studies Find Heavy Heating Oil Has Severe Effect on Air Quality

When it comes to finding a major culprit for the tainted air in a wintry New York, one often needs to look no farther than out the window to see a big building spewing black smoke.

The source is often No. 6 heating oil, the cheapest but most viscous type pumped into aging boilers, or its cousin No. 4 heavy oil, which is only slightly less noxious.

Australian Coal Producers Start New Export System at Newcastle

(Bloomberg) -- The first ship operating under a new agreement to expand coal exports at Australia’s Newcastle Port, the world’s largest harbor for supplying the fuel, is scheduled to leave the terminal tomorrow bound for South Korea.

Coal companies in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales have signed 10-year export contracts worth more than A$4 billion ($3.6 billion), underpinning production expansion, the state’s Ports Minister Paul McLeay said in a statement.

It was dead wood, now lumber is the ‘new oil’

Locked in a 16-year down-cycle and ending the decade as the most dismal commodity performer, lumber is poised to become the crude oil of the new decade.

It all depends, analysts say, on Chinese building codes and the financial mathematics of 150 million new kitchen tables.

In one projection, the mass urbanisation of China over the next ten years could see lumber prices soar by more than 300 per cent, driven by a combination of unprecedented demand and the same flood of speculative money that gave the world $150 per barrel oil in 2008.

A ray of light

The timing couldn't have been better. As Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh was reiterating India's commitment to a low-carbon economy at Copenhagen on December 7 last year, his colleague, new and renewable energy minister Farookh Abdullah, was inaugurating a 2 MW, zero-carbon footprint solar power plant in Jamuria, Asansol. Incidentally, it once used to be an abandoned thermal power plant with a high carbon foot print.

"It sent a strong message that India is empowered in green energy," says S P Gon Chaudhuri, an engineer and the man behind this green transformation. Chaudhuri has been tapping solar energy for lighting up villages across east India since the time when global warming looked like a distant threat and carbon footprints figured only in science journals.

An elemental challenge for China and the world

Though rare earth elements are not, geologically speaking, all that rare, they are still largely unknown to the general public. That, however, could be about to change. The likes of lanthanum and holmium could soon be names as familiar to us as gold and oil. The explanation is scarcity.

Global demand for these materials is booming, tripling over the past decade from 40,000 to 120,000 tonnes. Rare earth elements are used in a host of technologies from iPhones, to fibre-optic cables, to missile guidance systems. And they are also essential for a swath of low-carbon technologies from catalytic converters, to nuclear power rods; a market that is set to expand exponentially over the coming decades as nations seek to reduce their use of fossil fuels.

Yet one country has a virtual monopoly on the production of these materials. China provides 97 per cent of the global supplies of rare earth elements, most coming from a single mine in Inner Mongolia. By 2014 global demand for rare earth materials is forecast to hit 200,000 tonnes a year. But for several years China has been steadily reducing the amount of material it makes available for export. And as we report today, supplies of Chinese-produced terbium and dysprosium – irreplaceable elements of magnets used in the batteries of hybrid cars and wind turbines – are likely to be cut sharply in the coming months.

Precious metals that could save the planet

Baotou was of little interest to the outside world for millennia. When one of the first visitors reached its walls in 1925, it was described as "a little husk of a town in a great hollow shell of mud ramparts". Some 84 years later, this once barren outpost of Inner Mongolia has been transformed into the powerhouse of China's dominance of the market in some of the globe's most sought-after minerals.

The Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute is home to some 400 scientists whose work has put China at the pinnacle of research into a group of 17 metals which sound as if they were dreamt up as poisons for superheroes – yttrium, promethium, europium – but whose unique properties make them indispensable to technologies worth trillions of pounds.

China threatens to slam brakes on price of lead

After a surge of more than 125 per cent, the price of lead ends the year in limbo — its future at the mercy of Chinese bureaucracy, the stroke of a pen and the legal status of 100 million electric bicycles.

The cycles in question, known as “e-bikes”, are battery-enhanced machines that are the darlings of the modern, urban Chinese. More than 20 million were sold this year, putting a vast army of commuters, unable to afford cars or motorcycles — and without licences — on the roads at a sedate maximum speed of 12 km/h (7½ mph).

If the rules stay as they are, analysts say, e-bike sales may rise to 25 million next year. If they change, as seems possible, the ramifications will stretch far beyond the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan and Guangzhou.

Concern as China clamps down on rare earth exports

Britain and other Western countries risk running out of supplies of certain highly sought-after rare metals that are vital to a host of green technologies, amid growing evidence that China, which has a monopoly on global production, is set to choke off exports of valuable compounds.

Failure to secure alternative long-term sources of rare earth elements (REEs) would affect the manufacturing and development of low-carbon technology, which relies on the unique properties of the 17 metals to mass-produce eco-friendly innovations such as wind turbines and low-energy lightbulbs.

A year without getting into a car

Maybe it was the eve of a new year. Maybe it was the Champagne. Maybe it was simply the right time.

Whatever it was, Adam Greenfield of San Francisco made a resolution at a party on Dec. 31, 2008: He would not drive, or ride, in an automobile for all of 2009.

Eclectic bunch of donors -- near, far, left, even right -- gave to Clinton group

The foundation finances charitable programs in climate change, global health, poverty and education. It also hosts the annual Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together philanthropists, corporate chiefs, government officials and nonprofit leaders to find charitable solutions to worldwide problems.

The foundation said its activities have positively affected more than 220 million lives in 170 countries, including helping some 2 million people living with HIV/AIDS get access to medicines and helping 40 of the world's largest cities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the foundation helped implement waste management projects in Delhi, launch the first-ever Zagat Guide to Harlem and provide more than 1 million meals to schoolchildren across Latin America.

With help from Sweden, 4 Northern Virginia families are 'Climate Pilots'

If Americans really take the plunge and enter a carbon-constrained world, it might look a little like the Stokes family's home in Falls Church.

Nolan Stokes and Kathy Harman-Stokes -- a financial planner and a lawyer with two children in elementary school -- are installing a geothermal heat pump in their front yard that will tap the Earth's constant temperature to warm their home more efficiently. They know precisely how many kilowatts of energy their house is consuming when they wake up each morning. And they've cut back on their consumption of meat because they now know it generates significantly more greenhouse-gas emissions than vegetables.

"""""And they've cut back on their consumption of meat because they now know it generates significantly more greenhouse-gas emissions than vegetables."""""

Not my beef - they eat the grass on my property, and I butcher them myself.

Perhaps the issue isn't "meat," per say, but rather the manner in which industrial animal farms raise the animals.

This is one of the vegetarian myths.
Grass fed beef (which under some conditions can add topsoil and sequester carbon) is not nearly as destructive as grains, which are destroying topsoil, aquifers, and Haber Process dependent.

The key words are"cut back," as opposed to eliminate. Without feedlots, there would be less beef available. Source for this is lost somewhere in the back of my memory, but I think grass-only would produce about 1/3 the beef that we now have.

I'm sure I read somewhere that the entire US beef herd is about the same "population" as the the American bison before the slaughter, and bison are heavier than cattle. All grass fed, no FF inputs. Maybe a way forward?

Why not Yak about Yaks instead? Considered tame and as a bonus you can shave them.

(frankly I'm looking at members Artiodactyla family for being foraging critters on the family homestead. But Yaks are leading the pack on critters to consider implementating. Still have not tried yak butter...yet. )

Why Yaks? Aren't they poorly adapted to life outside of the Tibetan Plateau?

There are loads of 'em here in Outer Mongolia as well. My girlfriend's brother has twenty. Very tasty meat. But yeah, Mongolia is not very similar to the US.

... but Yak-cheese as a substitute for mozzarella on your favorite pizza is a 'no go'-solution. Believe you me.

I recall several mentions of wild onions by Heinrich Harrer in Seven Years in Tibet. Don't know much about that particular onion, but there is a naturalized wild onion often called Crow Garlic that is a noxious weed in much of the Southeastern US. If your milk cow gets into it and eats it the taste of the milk is ruined. Ragweed ruins it too.

That's why ya shave 'em :-)

Why I am interested is because of the poor quality of land (I have access to), the chance the planet is heading for a maruader minimum, and their ability to act as beasts of burden.

That makes 'em more interesting to me than other livestock choices. The tameness would make 'em a better choice than the not at all tame buffulo.

The Yaks main advantage is that they have extremely good altitude tolerance, but they don't have many advantages other than that.

In the Himalayas, Yaks don't do well below an altitude of about 3000 metres (10,000 feet). Above that altitude, they raise Yaks, below it they raise cattle, which do much better at low elevations. Around 10,000 feet, they tend to raise hybrids of Yaks and cattle, which have good altitude tolerance, but have more of the cow's ability to produce milk. Yaks are poor milk producers. (I got this information talking to nomads in the Himalayas).

There's not much grazing land about 10,000 feet in North America. You would be much better off raising Plains Bison (Buffalo), which are very well adapted to the Great Plains. They're just ornery and dangerous (a friend of mine used to raise them). Yaks are also ornery and dangerous, but not quite as dangerous. I have walked (cautiously) through herds of Yak, I would never walk through a herd of Bison.

the chance the planet is heading for a maruader minimum

?? what wall street and the bankers are about to diminish ?- )

otherwise I saw a faint trace of the Aurora last night, time to call off all Maunder minimum predictions ?- )

I am not a farmer but I lived in a farming community in the 1960's when I was growing up. Most farms around the town raised cattle and/or hogs that were partially fed by the grain (corn, oats, barley) that was grown and stored on the farm. Cattle would graze in the fields and in winter or before slaughter would have diet supplemented with grain. Never heard of a "feed lot" when I was a kid and I had many schoolmates that were farm kids. Only time the cattle were in large groups while penned was at stockyards where they were sold.
My experience with farms was in southern Minnesota, near where my grandfather's family once had a large farm.
IMO this method of raising animals for food was much less energy intensive than today's methods. The animals meat was more lean and had no antibiotics or growth hormones, thus making it more healthful to eat.

The object of "capitalism" is not really to feed people --though admittedly, that is one of the laudable byproducts of the system--it is to generate profit. Profits are increased by decreasing the inputs (takes a lot of land and labor to run cattle on the range) and externalizing as much cost as possible (let the public deal with the waste stream and let the medical system deal with the diseases caused by feedlots.)

Efficiency is carried to a new level by the extraction and ammonia treatment process that converts "trimmings" and very likely floor sweepings to a pink, ammoniacal goo that can be fed to prisoners and school children.

NeverLNG - Thanks for the link. I had hoped you were joking about a "...treatment process that converts "trimmings" and very likely floor sweepings to a pink, ammoniacal goo that can be fed to prisoners and school children." With all of the fast food franchises jumping on board in order to reduce the cost of a lb. of beef by "3 cents" it looks like prisoners and school children aren't the only customers for this "goo".

The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.

With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

What is the function of the USDA? Endorsing corporate studies... Upton Sinclair would have been shocked.


oogh...Beans are looking more and more tasty. You can grow them yourself and know what you're actually eating...

"Cut back" and "share"

That would go a long ways toward making the world a better place to live.

Seems like a no-brainer.

But I have no brains. Or is it balls?

I'd go so far as to say meat is a key part of a sustainable diet. Goat, sheep, cattle, etc. can eat things we can't, and turn it into food we can eat. Land can be rotated between human crops and animal feed/pasture. The animals also provide manure for fertilizer. (Manure is "waste" on factory farms. On organic farms, they not only don't think of it as waste, they are often reluctant to sell it to you, because they need it themselves.)

We will probably end up eating less meat. Traditionally, people lived off products like eggs, milk, and blood. The animals slaughtered for meat were too old to produce any more, or were surplus males. And there might be a lot of meat available in the fall, when animals were slaughtered so you didn't have to feed them through the winter. But slaughtering animals all year round is a relatively new phenomenon.

Oddly enough Leanan a critter once considered a pest along the TX coastal plain could be a big factor in that meat sustainability factor you mention. Deer hunting has always been a popular source of protein in these parts. But now many landowner lease the deer hunting rights to the city folks. The popular local meat source are the wild feral pigs now. In some S TX counties they became so over populated that professional hunters were hired to thin them out. A handful of big pigs can wipe out 20 acres of corn overnight. How many pigs are there: one 25,000 acre ranch had a professional hunting crew on the ranch taking out 200-300 pigs a day from choppers. Trucks on the ground gathered them up and field dressed. Think they were shipped off to dog food plants. They did this non-stop for 5 weeks. There was almost no hunting done on the ranch (didn't need the hunting lease money) and there are virtually no natural predators other than man. Much smarter then deer: in 30 years I've only seen two pigs hit on the road. The only potentially dangerous part is getting caught between a 500 lb sow and her babies...best to stay out of the high grass.

Local technique: catch them on the river bottoms in cages made from steel rebar. Feed them cheap corn and antibiotics for a few weeks and then slaughter. Usually hang on to the 150-200 pounders. Typically turned into sausage. If your not into sausage making there a couple of hundred shops that will make it up for around $.50+/lb. And you can hunt them anytime of the year except summer is more difficult from a parasite/spoilage point.

...once considered a pest along the TX coastal plain ...

In 1994 or '95, while driving from Harlingen to Corpus Christi just at dusk, I passed a 'herd' of deer along Hwy 77, about 300 meters deep into the shrub where I could not longer see them, for about 20 miles! There must have been 25 or 30 thousand of them.

Deer sausage, BTW, is delicious!

Farmers here call them rats with hooves

Traditionally, people lived off products like eggs, milk, and blood.

That really makes no sense - considering most of the adults in the world can't digest lactose. A specific mutation has enabled some people in Eurasia to digest lactose as adults.

I'd recommend "Cows, pigs, wars & witches; the riddles of culture" by Marvin Harris for anyone interested in reasons behind traditional diets.

But wouldn't the lactose intolerant populations just make various fermented products--cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.?

Not really. Infact traditionally east asians have had a cultural antipathy for milk (atleast thats what Mervin says).

That's true of the Chinese and Japanese. But Mongolians eat dairy products. So in northern China, there is a dairy tradition. In Japan, they really didn't eat red meat at all in the old days. They did eat a lot of seafood.

But in the Mediterranean region, eating dairy (in the form of cheese) is traditional, even though they have a high degree of lactose intolerance. A lot of people are lactose intolerant in India, too, but they get around it by eating dairy in the form of yogurt, butter, ghee, etc.

In India most of the north Indians ("Aryans") are lactose tolerant. Reports claim in the south people are not lactose tolerant - but when I lived there never met one who was not. There is a very strong tradition of coffee (with milk) drinking there.

You can't tell if people are lactose tolerant by their diet. Drinking small amounts of milk is possible even for the lactose-intolerant. Studies have shown that even among people with no dairying tradition and high levels of lactose intolerance, like the Japanese, people can drink 8 fl. oz. of milk without problems.

In cultures with a Spanish influence, "cafe con leche" is popular. It's a drink that's roughly half milk, half coffee. Even though a lot of people in Latin America are lactose-intolerant.

I've read that, and I don't think there's anything in it that contradicts what I said.

While most adults in the world are lactose-intolerant, people who have a tradition of pastoralism (such as northern Europeans and Masai) often maintain their ability to digest milk into adulthood. And as Jason points out, even lactose-intolerant people can digest milk products - butter, cheese, yogurt.

Could be. To me it sounded like "most" people of the world traditionally lived off egg, milk and blood. And that definitely is not the case. Infact I'd guess living off of blood is a very small minority - may even be an invention specific to the Masai.

ps : I've fond memories of the Masai Mara when I lived in Kenya.

Could be. To me it sounded like "most" people of the world traditionally lived off egg, milk and blood.

Obviously not. The average westerner is pretty grossed out at the idea of drinking cow's blood.

I meant people who raised animals usually lived off other products from the animals, rather than eating them as meat every day. People who don't practice animal husbandry are a different story.

In fact, Harris argued that that's why pigs were abominable. Nothing turns grain into meat faster than a pig, so it's very tempting to raise them. But they are not a sustainable choice. They eat food people can eat, and they don't produce milk, wool, or eggs. So declaring them "unclean" was a way to discourage a practice that was bad for society (though good for the individual doing it).

can't remember if it was west Asia but somewheres there about mare's milk and blood has been a major food source. Don't recall the Masai being much on horses. It would seem herders of all sorts would have figured out the milk and blood concoction independently multiple times throughout the ages.

That really makes no sense - considering most of the adults in the world can't digest lactose. A specific mutation has enabled some people in Eurasia to digest lactose as adults.

Funny you should mention that, it seems that evolution continues doing what it always has.


Tishkoff's study of DNA, described in next week's online issue of the journal Nature Genetics , found that the mutations evolved at the time in history when some Africans were beginning to raise cattle, and they evolved independently from the mutation that regulates milk digestion in Europeans.

The findings are not only evidence of how genes and culture co-evolve, says Tishkoff, associate professor of biology at Maryland, "they reveal one of the most striking genetic footprints of natural selection ever observed in humans."

Yes, in northern Europeans milk was very important because of Vitamin D (and calcium) that had to be made up because of lack of Sun.

ps : The above linked stufy is interesting because a 1979 study says majority of Masai children don't absorb lactose.


I don't think the vitamin D theory has held up.

My guess is lactose tolerance is random to a large degree. There are many cultures where the people are lactose intolerant, yet they still consume dairy. Eating dairy that's been fermented in the traditional manner (cheese, yogurt, sour cream) is usually possible for even the lactose-intolerant. (The modern methods don't necessarily work the same way, so people may still have trouble with the supermarket versions.) Lactose is also removed from butter and ghee due to the way it's made, so that's not a problem, either.

And even in Japan, which has no dairy tradition, people are becoming more tolerant of it, because they are eating more dairy. Not genetically, obviously. There hasn't been enough time, and obviously, no one is dying over there because they can't eat brie. But gourmet cheese has become very popular over there, along with other dairy products.

Many people of 100% Japanese or Chinese ancestry in Hawaii eat typical American diets heavy on dairy. Even little old ladies used to the traditional diet, who are grossed out by cheese, usually love ice cream.

I love Marvin Harris, and have often quoted him myself here. But Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches was written in 1975. That's 35 years ago. A lot of the information in that book is outdated.

Milk has Vitamin D?

Only because it's fortified.

However, the reference was to an old theory about lactose intolerance, calcium, and vitamin D. I believe it's been pretty much disproved since Harris wrote about it.

The article is correct. Most northern Europeans have a specific mutation in their DNA that allows them to digest milk as an adult. The prevalence is well over 90% of the people in the Scandinavian countries, and falls as you get further south. Southern Europeans may or may not have this mutation. Few people in the rest of the world have it.

The reason for the success of this mutation is that, in the middle of winter in Northern Europe, nothing grows and there's not much to eat. However, if you can drink milk and eat cheese, your cows can eat hay and produce enough milk to get you through. If not, you starve.

However, there is a completely separate mutation found in Africa that enables some tribes there to digest milk as adults. There may be other, similar but different mutations in the rest of the world.

This is like the mutation responsible for white skin in Europeans. It appeared about 9000 years ago, and spread like wildfire throughout Europe. Today 99% of Europeans have it. There are other white-skin mutations in other continents (and other white-skin mutations in Europe), but they are independent and different. The rational for the rapid spread of the European white-skin mutation is that rickets was a major killer of children in Northern Europe until they started fortifying milk about 100 years ago. The light-skinned children generated their own vitamin D, the dark-skinned ones died. The survivors produce the next generation, where the same thing happens.

Diamond discusses this in some of his writing. He points out that a lot of fairly dark-skinned people live as far north as northern Europeans without apparent difficulty.

Not to mention those who live as far from the equator on the southern half of the earth, who are very dark-skinned.

I would guess fair skin and blond hair are an example of sexual selection, rather than vitamin D related.

Diamond underestimated the importance of vitamin D deficiency. Until the 20th century, rickets was a major killer of children in Northern Europe. In the late 19th century, autopsy studies done in Netherlands showed that 80–90% of children had rickets. Of course, most children back then did not live to the age of five, so nobody was surprised when they died. There were a lot of things for them to die of.

More recent studies indicate that 100% of the non-white people in Canada are vitamin D deficient. Basically, unless they take Vitamin D supplements, most people in northern climates still don't get enough vitamin D.

South of the equator, Africans get lighter the further south you go, They have the lightest skin color at the Cape. This involves different genetic mutations than the ones in northern Europe, but the concept is the same. The further you go from the equator, whether north or south, the lighter skinned people become.

As for sexual selection, there is a theory that men prefer lighter-skinned women because they have a better chance of bearing children. This is because their pelvic bones are less likely to have been deformed by rickets caused by lack of vitamin D. This is also why they prefer women with long, straight legs. It means they haven't had rickets.

Actually, studies have shown that most of the things men prefer in women correlate strongly with reproductive success. They don't do this deliberately, but they also don't do it by accident - e.g. big breasts mean more milk for the babies.

I don't think you can look at modern populations' vitamin D levels and project that onto ancient populations. We live very different lives now, including a lot of time spent indoors (and more recently, the use of sunscreen).

In the northeastern US, vitamin D deficiency was historically a serious problem. But it was because of the way people lived. Many were factory workers who worked 12 hour days, and rarely saw the sunlight in summer or winter.

There has always been a problem with vitamin D deficiency in Northern Europe in wintertime, because people have to wear clothes. You simply can't run around naked in Northern Europe in the winter. Northern Europe is quite a bit further north than the northern US. In Scandinavia, where people have the lightest skins, they get almost no sunlight in mid-winter (none at all north of the Arctic circle).

Recently scientist have been theorizing that the real problem arose with the invention of agriculture. Paleolithic hunters could get vitamin D from their food, but when they switched to farming, their cereal grains didn't supply enough vitamin D.

About 87% of African-Americans are vitamin D deficient, but it's closer to 100% in African-Canadians. These people should be taking vitamin D supplements. They're not designed to live at high latitudes.

Here's an article on the subject: http://knol.google.com/k/why-are-europeans-white-e1#

Here's another one: http://anthro.palomar.edu/adapt/adapt_4.htm

Over the last year I have tried to make a switch. I now buy cage free eggs, organic meats and vegetables. Is it more expensive? You bet! A dozen cage free eggs are over $4.00 a dozen while regular eggs are in the $2 to $3 range. I recently watched Food Inc. The Movie and the film points out that the emphasis on industrial food processing is "faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper". Healthy food is hardly a consideration. As a consumer the only real power you have is to consciously change your buying habits. It ain't easy because it takes planning and determination.

"There is an illusion in our supermarket that there is this incredible diversity with over 46,000 food products. The reality is that so much of our industrial food turns out to be rearrangements of corn."
Food Inc. The Movie

Anyone who has been reading this site for any length of time should have a deep abiding suspicion of industrial food production. Monsanto and ADM is not your friend.


As a consumer the only real power you have is to consciously change your buying habits.

That just needs repeating.

(And I await the open source, distributed person2person database where one can track various firms/people and what they have done that is part of the public record so you can than make decisions to not interact with them. Shunning for the 21st century as it were.)

"There is an effort afoot to make it illegal to publish an article or a picture critical of industrial food production." Michael Pollan

When it is far cheaper to feed your family on a greasy bucket of KFC than a nutritious dinner of fresh vegetables you know who's running the show. It is frightening how powerful the agribusinesses have become.


It is frightening how powerful the agribusinesses have become.

Why not ANY large business group?

The Citizen Intelligence Agency is a good start.

Can you imagine the uproar from TPTB if someone forked the code to make a US-UK-AU version?

This, and the mention of the Marvin Harris, reminds me of a chapter in Harris' book, The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig. There's a chapter on why Americans eat so much beef. Partly, it's ecological. But he also links it to suburbia, and our industrial food system. In particular...hamburger. The flight to suburbia meant backyard grilling. And while steaks were great, hamburger was much more affordable.

According to him, hamburger is a way to eat meat that would not be very edible otherwise. In particular, lean, range-fed cows were combined with the paunches cut off overweight corn-fed cows and turned into hamburger. Lean meat can't be grilled; it falls apart. But USDA rules allowed up to 30% fat to be added to hamburger.

Hamburger is legally defined as 100% beef, which left pork producers out in the cold. Pork patties fall apart when grilled, and they weren't allowed by law to make hamburgers out of mixed beef and pork. Eventually, that backyard grilling tradition turned into fast food nation.

What they can turn into steaks, they do. What they can't, they grind up and turn into hamburger. Hamburger is the less chewable, lower quality meat. The grinder takes the place of your teeth.

Lean meat can't be grilled; it falls apart. But USDA rules allowed up to 30% fat to be added to hamburger.

Nonsense. We had bison burgers and elk burgers last night. They contain about half as much fat as beef, and they grilled up just fine. I think this is a myth perpetrated by the USDA because their rules produce "well marbled" beef that contains far too much fat to be healthy. Bison contains very little fat and is much healthier for you. Just ask the Indians.

Pork patties fall apart when grilled, and they weren't allowed by law to make hamburgers out of mixed beef and pork.

I think that probably pork has too much fat, rather than too little, to turn into burgers. I don't know what pork patties would be like, because they turn all the relevant meat into sausage. Sausages have way, way too much fat.

For sheer fat content, it's hard to beat bear sausage. Bear meat is like extremely fat pork. I can't recommend it as a regular diet, although it's an interesting change from the bison burgers.

Personally, I've found that lean beef falls apart when cooked. I buy the fattiest hamburger available to make hamburgers. Most of the fat drains out anyway. And I suspect Taubes is right: it's not fat that's bad for you, it's sugar.

Personally, I've never had any problem cooking lean beef (or bison, or elk, or whatever).

I go for the leanest cuts of meat, and I don't use much sugar or salt in my cooking. I'm beginning to develop a reputation for my barbecuing and salads - cooking healthy food while making it taste delicious. I'm trying to get back to the paleolithic diet which I think our digestive systems were designed for - which was not corn-fed beef.

We were not designed for the diet most people now have, and people are suffering for it. They're overweight and suffering from hypertension and diabetes. Those weren't a problem back when people had to stalk and kill their own game, and then pick their own salad to go with it.

Pollan suggests a diet where you can eat anything you want...as long as you cook it.

Agree that we are not eating the diet we evolved to eat. I don't think the problem is killing our own game, though. Hunter-gatherers spent three hours a day, maybe less, working. That includes everything needed to provide themselves with food, shelter, and clothing. Many modern people work longer hours at very physical jobs, and are still overweight.

Exercise is good for you, I've no doubt, but I don't think it really helps with weight control.

This is an example of unnecessary research.

Americans eat beef because it's delicious.

But before we were Americans, we ate mutton, pork, and even horsemeat, and found them delicious. Why are they no longer as delicious as beef?

Without feedlots, there would be less beef available. Source for this is lost somewhere in the back of my memory, but I think grass-only would produce about 1/3 the beef that we now have.

Hard to say. Much of the grain fed beef did most of its growth on pasture, then went to a finishing lot to be fed grain a month or so before being slaughtered.

Well 1st, I'm not buying the "less beef available." It certainly would be more expensive, but I see no reason why more land couldn't be used for pasture, if that's where the market pushed it.

2nd, the reason that "corn fed" beef is so popular is because corn is heavily subsidized by the U.S. taxpayers. Remove the subsidy and let's see what happens to feeding ruminants straight corn.

No, the reason that corn fed is popular is that entirely grass-fed beef has a gamey flavor that people don't like. This is how they got started "finishing" beef with corn - to get rid of the gamey flavor.

And to add lots of fat -- the "marbling" that makes prime graded beef taste better to our (evolutionarily) fat starved palates.

I think it's the opposite. We Americans have grown used to corn-fed, so we don't like the flavor of grass-fed. But the reason we feed cows so much corn is that there was a surplus we needed to get rid of, and it fattens the cows much faster.

We need the omega-3 fatty acids that we get from grass fed beef, not the high omega-6 fatty acids from corn-fed beef (and much higher total fat amount).

The switch to corn fed was not good for our health.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered his staff to revise a computerized forecasting model that showed that climate legislation supported by President Obama would make planting trees more lucrative than producing food.

Changing the output of a result so it matches policy? Now that's Change you can believe in!


Guess the gent who was advocating the 1880's vintage tech may be right.
(As I pack up some rusting steel to the scrap dealer that'll feed China.)

Treating beef with Ammonia to save 3 cents a pound. I didn't know about the $0.03 cents being saved at school lunch programs, so carry on keeping the taxpayers solvent.

And in memory of the now dead TODer who pointed out that fish prions are not transmissable to mammals I present:

Charles Weissmann, head of Scripps Florida's department of infectology who led the study, said: "On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses.

(Oh joy. So the idea that inserting insects or fish into the processing chain to break prion transmissability just may not be workable.)

It started snowing on New Year's day and hasn't stopped, except that it's now changing over to freezing rain.

The view from my kitchen window earlier this morning:

Environment Canada has issued a high wind warning, with winds gusting to 160 kph in some parts of the province and they're forecasting damaging storm surges along the coast.

I'm heading out to refuel the generator because I suspect it's going to be pressed into service again shortly.


Hang in there Paul. And thanks for the pic. Growing up in New Orleans snow is still so mystical to me. Usually try to make one "snow trip" up north every winter but too much work this year. Granted playing in snow for a week or two is very different the living (surviving) a whole season. Did almost loose a toe or two once because I was having so much fun I didn't notice lossing any feelings down there.

Stay dry and warm!!

Thanks, RM. I love this country, although some days are better than others (having shoveled the driveway a third time since the snow started I'm questioning why we build the garage 300 metres back from the roadway).

Fingers and toes are important, so warm and dry it is, although we Cannucks consider freezing rain t-shirt and shorts weather.


Damp there Paul? I worked one winter in Wyoming and found out what a difference "dry cold" made. Didn't even start thinking cold until it dropped below 20 F. But when it hit -34 F (WC -51 F)it was damn cold...dry or not. But in New Orleans it started hurting when it dropped beow 50 F. But also only had cotton cold weather clothing there.

BTW: the near toe loss was self-induced southern stupidity. Left my ski boots outside overnight. Put them on and hit the bunny slope. White out sent us back into the lodge immediately. Feet froze so fast I never felt it happening. Took the boots off and saw those white edges on my toes. Once they started thawing I saw there with tears running down it hurt so bad. Had it not been for the white out I'm sure I would have lost some toes...maybe even a foot or two.

It was that way here, too. The snow was never very heavy, but it's been snowing since the morning of New Year's Eve. Just a gentle, Christmas card sprinkling, but when it goes on for days, it starts to add up. I didn't get to see the "blue moon" - too snowy and overcast.

Temps are supposed to drop over the next few days. Which is good, because my apartment is so hot I have some windows cracked. I know, it's terrible. But I have the heat off, and it's still so hot from my downstairs neighbors that it's unbearable. I think they cranked up the heat when it was 11F here, then went on vacation and left it that way. When temps rose to 45F, it turned my unit into an oven.

Hi Leanan,

No fun trying to fall asleep when your bedroom feels like a Turkish steam bath. Hope you get some relief soon.


One of the few things I miss about living in a second floor apartment - downstairs neighbors pick up the tab for heating.

I used to do that in college. Never turned on the heat.

However, the problem with my current apartment complex is heat is included in the rent. That means people have no incentive to conserve. Many of my neighbors have their windows open. Some even had fans running in the windows, when the temps were in single digits.

Nice view. This global warming is giving the UK problems too:


Hi pondlife,

The joke around here is that Nova Scotians vacation in the UK for the good weather. My mum lives in northern Wales and it hasn't been very pleasant there to say the least.


Correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn't Wales about 800km north of Nova Scotia?

That was what tripped up the early British colonists. They expected North America to be similar in climate to Britain, or even warmer. Because they were basing their expectations on latitude. But it's a lot more complicated than that. Europe is warmed by the Atlantic. The US is not.

Hehe, I'm in Ulaanbaatar, which is actually south of Paris, and currently (sunny afternoon) it's -26 C. And most nights it goes down to -40 C. Amazingly most houses stay warm, I rarely wear more than a T-shirt and thin trousers inside.

Wales gets the full benefit of the Gulf Stream, heading north across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico. Nova Scotia gets the Labrador Current, coming south from Greenland and the Arctic Islands. There's a huge difference in the resultant climate.

Don't supposed I could convince you to feel sorry for me because we're having unseasonably cold weather here in South Florida and I think its too cold to go to the beach today ;-)

Weather forecast

Hi FM,

Lol! Every November through April my partner whines incessantly about how we wants to move to Florida. I swear to God we're polar opposites.


My thermometer said 22 degrees below zero F this morning. The forecast is for more cold weather:


It usually heads east from here meaning demand for heating oil and such should increase soon.

Heh. That's near where my GF is atm. Airboating was described as 'coooollld'. :D

I've been watching the weather maps. Seems that this winter deep low pressure likes to hang out around your parts. Is that pretty normal, -or is this a much wetter than normal year? How well are your trees holding up to the loads of wet snow and ice?

Hi EoS,

This doesn't seem abnormal... the winter of 2004 was far worse as I recall (that year we were shoveling almost every day and ran out of places to put it). The bows are heavy but everything seems to be holding up well so far.


Hey Paul,

Hope you and Ed had a great Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Voice from the past and another Bluenoser.

Being just a short distance north of you, heading towards the lovely Annapolis Valley, they're calling for this white stuff to turn to copious rain and then back to the white stuff again. For the next while, forecasters are calling for wet, wet, wet. We stocked up on food this morning, have our flash lights and candles ready, and plan to lay low.

Nova Scotia because of a geographic location that is influenced by both the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf Stream and Labrador Current sometimes gets stuck in weather patterns that seem endless. Snow can be quite cheery, rain can be less of a driving hazard, but it is when the fog rolls in for days on end that things get really dreary. So far this year, that hasn't happened.

True to feast or famine alternatives, our winters tend either to be very dry or very wet. The upside to living near dual ocean systems is that it rarely gets cold for very long.

Paul it's looking more and more like we're in for a wet winter. Keep warm and dry.



Good to hear from you again, Tom, and best wishes for 2010. I'm glad you're well prepared to ride out this storm; stay safe. The snow had turned to ice pellets and freezing rain an hour or so ago and now it's back to heavy snow. The winds are also starting to pick up, currently N/NE 35 kph gusting 52, although it's later this evening when they'll climb into the triple digits.

This appears to be the opening act:


That little red blob on the radar map looks a tad closer to you than me. Hope you have your snow shovel ready.

Right you are. The interesting part will be to see what the winds will do later. And this opening act is painting quite an idyllic picture so far.

One of my church services has been canceled already for tomorrow. In rural areas the big factor is plowing out the parking lots on a Sunday morning. My other service is at a church within walking distance of the house, but once again, it will depend on snow removal and electrical power. I may get a Christmas holiday after all.

Must say, snow and Christmas lights go very well together. And quite a few of the locals keep them lit until the 6th January. Takes the edge off the darkness. Very nice indeed.

We'll get together soon for a coffee and catch up on all the news. So please don't move to Florida just yet. LOL


Hi Tom,

Those Christmas lights are pretty and they do brighten the spirit this time of year. Keep those candles and matches close at hand. Our lights are blinking and I see 3,000 of our neighbours in metro HRM have lost service as at 17h00 AST.

See: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/residential/outageinformation/livepowerout...


The lights are blinking here, too. See you on the other side of the blizzard. It's shaping up to be one humdinger of a storm.

White Juan anyone?

Happy shoveling, Paul!

Link up top: Russia 2009 oil output hits new high after 2008 blip

Analysts now say Russia will produce 1.1 percent more oil in 2010 as fields in East Siberia pump enough crude to mask a decline in mature deposits further west...

JPMorgan analysts forecast East Siberia would account for 2.3 percent of Russia's crude output in 2010, up from about 1.1 percent in 2009.

Excuse me if I am a little skeptical but they are expecting East Siberian fields to add 1.2 percent to Russia's total output in 2010 and they expect Russia's total production to rise by 1.1 percent. This means that they are expecting Russia's old mature fields to decline by 0.1 percent. That is hardly any decline at all. However:

Alex Burgansky: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year...

Therefore, next year there will be a lot fewer fields coming on stream; in the absence of new incentives to put more money to work to grow Russian oil production, it will naturally start declining, with organic decline rates of around 19% and growing.

And there will be a lot fewer wells drilling superstraws in Russia's old giant fields. The rig count was down over 25 percent from its peak in October of 2008. But still they expect those tired old fields to hardly decline at all? What are they smoking?

Even if they keep drilling 5,000 or more wells in those old fields, eventually they must hit the wall. Sucking the oil out a lot faster, in order to slow production decline really increases depletion. That growing 19 percent will more than overcome any more oil sucked out faster from new wells.

I follow Russian oil production very closely. They did reach a new post Soviet high in the second half of 2009. Their high, I believe, will be in November of 2009. But December production will be a bit lower and I think that decline will accelerate slightly in 2010 and quite a bit faster in 2011.

Ron P.

I think that decline will accelerate slightly in 2010 and quite a bit faster in 2011.

Needless to say, I agree. It looks like 2007 was 9.9 mbpd, 2008 was 9.8 mbpd and 2009 was 9.9 mbpd. The world industrial economy is saved! Subject to what their consumption was in 2009, I suspect that annual net oil exports in 2008 & 2009 may have both been below the 2007 rate

Thanks for tracking those numbers Ron. The logic seems so obvious it makes me wonder why such projections are made. Too many uncoordinated fingers in the pot?

Rosneft as Russia´s leading oil producer discloses very frankly its production data on its website (http://www.rosneft.com/Upstream/ProductionAndDevelopment/) (a nice example for Saudi Aramco) The tables indicate rising expenses and more meters drilled, but an almost stagnant oil production. And the average production per day of new wells is clearly declining. (Note that the data are from 2008). Everyone can make his own conclusions from these data.

Thanks for the link Oilwatcher. I get my data from Current operating data of energy industry branches in Russia. This is a Russian site with English translation. Here they give daily production except they do not post it every day. It seems to be posted rather randomly about 15 times per month.

Anyway you can get a pretty good average by averaging all the data for one month. Also the data is total liquids and not crude so multiplying by 7.3 gives a number higher than the EIA reports. I find that multiplying by 7 gives a number very close to what the EIA reports.

Ron P.

You have concluded that east Siberian oil fields are small and irrelevant based on what?

Read my post again Dissident. If you pay close attention this time you will note that I did not conclude anything about the East Siberian oil fields I only quoted what the link stated. All my conclusions were about Russia's old fields which my link quoted at having a natural decline rate of 19 percent and growing.

Ron P.

The theme in your post is that Russia's oil production will collapse. This is based solely on the notion that it has basically no reserves other than the existing, rapidly declining ones. This in itself begs the question as to how these old collapsing fields can sustain such a larger production. None of the production curves shown on TOD for Russia look realistic and forecast a decline much more rapid than that for the USA. Clearly the forecasts are out of whack with reality and need some revision.

The theme in your post is that Russia's oil production will collapse.

No, the theme of my post was that Russian production will decline! I wrote: But December production will be a bit lower and I think that decline will accelerate slightly in 2010 and quite a bit faster in 2011.

This is based solely on the notion that it has basically no reserves other than the existing, rapidly declining ones.

Glad to know that you are a mind reader Dissident. But you are not very good at it so don't plan on opeaning your "mind reading tent" just yet. Of course Russia has existing reserves in Eastern Siberia. That is where the Vankor Field is with its 1.5 billion barrels of reserves. And incidently, that is the largest field found in Eastern Siberia. 1.5 billion barrels is significant, it would supply the whole world with oil for about 2.5 weeks. Of course they have other fields in Eastern Siberia but the closest thing to Vankor is the TALAKANSKOYE OILFIELD with reserves of one billion barrels.

If you have a bone to pick with me Dissident, then stop making up crap about what I am basing my data on. You should complain to JP Morgan analysts who forecast East Siberia will account for 2.3 percent of Russia's crude output in 2010. That is double what Eastern Siberia produced in 2009 and I am certainly not discounting that. But if you have a problem with that then take it up with them, I only posted what they wrote.

Don't read into my posts more than I write.

Edit: Actually the Talakanskoye Field might not be in Eastern Siberia at all. 2,500 miles East of Moscow might still be in Western Siberia, or at least Central Siberia.

Ron P.

I believe the issue is the funds available for development. I think as we go forward, I expect that will be more and more the issue.

A country can have all of the reserves in the world, but if it doesn't have funds available for development, it really doesn't matter.

See for location of world oil fields 'list of oil fields' on Wikipedia, then click on the picture: USGS map of countries where oil is located. My attempt to copy/paste the picture failed.

No citations given there for the size and potential productivity of those fields. No indication how complete this list is either. Wading through this pile it looks like it conforms the ludicrous claim that Russia has less than 70 billion barrels of reserves. It is physically impossible for Russia's reserves to be less than a collection of small middle eastern states that can't pump a combined 5 million barrels per day from the easiest oil fields on the planet.

dissident, the list Wikipedia gives is a selection of fields. That is also what they mention: more than 90% of world oil is in about 1400 fields, the list has only a few hundreds.

Bad year for biofuel ends on a dour note
Down year for biofuels ends badly; tax credit for biodiesel producers expires

A federal tax credit that provided makers of biodiesel $1 for every gallon expired Friday. As a result, some U.S. producers say they will shut down without the government subsidy.
Ethanol producers, for instance, were hit by a string of bankruptcies, next-generation biofuels were stung by scandal.

Few called market turn, fewer predict it will last

But sustaining that momentum in the new year likely would require a big drop in the unemployment rate and strong corporate profit gains, along with stable borrowing costs -- a combination few analysts are forecasting.

"The easy money has been made already," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. "You're not going to see another 65 percent move in the next nine months."

The EIA has fresh International data up, including annual numbers for 2009.

In the proved reserves category the big winner among macro regions would be Central+South America, with 12.83 bbo additional; indeed the world as a whole only gained 10.16 bbo, with North America and the ME revising downward 1.65 and 2.29 bbo respectively. So, Latin America, must be all those big finds in the Brazilian offshore pre-salt, right?

Wrong. 12.34 bbo of this came from Venezuela, i.e., Hugo chalking up another monstrous heap of his tarry goop and calling it crude oil. Brazil contributed most of the diff, "only" 440 mb. Pah! We can get that anywhere. Maybe next year.

Actually we should see P1 numbers fly positively off the chart next year owing to the revised SEC modus of allowing extra heavy oil/tar sands/3d seismic under the fold; or is this massive uptick from Venezuela the first shot in the proved reserves war? Yeah, I know, a war over reserves numbers. Utterly ridiculous notion.

Browsing throught the data here I noticed that the U.S. net oil imports peaked in October of 2005 at 13,354,000 barrels per day. The last month reported here is August of 2009 and that month the U.S. imported 9,124,000 barrels per day. That is a drop, from peak until August 09 of 4,230,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.


U.S. Net Imports of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products
(Sep = 9,616, Oct = 8,633)

4-Week Avg (Estimates)

4-Week Avg U.S. Total Crude Oil and Petroleum Products Net Imports (Thousand Barrels per Day)


U.S. net oil imports peaked in October of 2005 at 13,354,000 barrels per day

No, it was August of 2006 at 13,442,000. That is a drop, from peak until October 09 of 4,809,000 barrels per day.

We are exporting more, for one thing. Exports operated in a band ca. 900 kb/d for around two decades, until 2005, when they began a climb to where they stand now, ca. 2.2 mb/d.

Where the rest of the oil went is still a matter of debate. Robert Rapier did some investigation into whether gains in ethanol production were cutting back imports; unfortunately, just as they began to really take off demand destruction kicked in, obfuscating matters a great deal.

Here's a graph of the US macro picture, crude production+imports of both crude oil and products, plus exports of gasoline/distillates/resid aligned to the right axis:


Some of the exported oil goes to Mexico, in a back-and-forth move. There are no refineries in Mexico which produce low-sulfur diesel, so they use US refineries to make it, since vehicles that cross the border are required to have low sulfur diesel. I think what happens is Mexican oil is shipped to the US, refined, and a significant fraction shipped back to Mexico again.

... post-Soviet high, putting the world's largest crude producer on an upward ...

Is it really true that Russia is number one in crude production? Or is the statement by Reuters, out of Moscow just an attempt to suck up to the local establishment there? With this kind of truthiness in reporting, the report, itself, as a public falsehood, is more news worthy than the claimed prospect of increased production next year.

Or is there some "depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-is-is" sense in which Russia produces more crude than SA?

When everyone else starts inching backwards, it can look like you've stepped out ahead of the pack.

Least worst..

Geek7, Russia, as of 2007, is the world's number one oil producer. Below is the production of all major oil companies, average, in thousand barrels per day. All the smaller producers are combined as "Other". The data is Crude + Condensate and not All Liquids.

                1999	2004	2007	2008	2009 (First 9 mths avg.)
Russia	        6,079	8,805	9,437	9,357	9,449
Saudi	        7,833	9,101	8,722	9,261	8,261
USA	        5,881	5,419	5,064	4,950	5,263
Iran	        3,557	4,001	3,912	4,050	4,026
China	        3,195	3,485	3,729	3,790	3,787
Mexico	        2,906	3,383	3,082	2,792	2,608
Canada	        1,907	2,398	2,616	2,596	2,557
Other    	2,240	2,557	2,505	2,480	2,434
UAE	        2,169	2,478	2,603	2,681	2,412
Iraq	        2,508	2,011	2,086	2,375	2,390
Kuwait	        1,898	2,376	2,464	2,586	2,350
Venezula	2,826	2,557	2,433	2,394	2,277
Nigeria	        2,130	2,329	2,350	2,165	2,154
Norway	        3,109	2,954	2,270	2,182	2,060
Brazil	        1,132	1,477	1,748	1,812	1,931
Angola	        745	1,052	1,744	1,981	1,879
Algeria	        1,202	1,677	1,834	1,825	1,778
Libya	        1,319	1,515	1,702	1,736	1,650
Kazakhstan	604	1,203	1,360	1,345	1,429
UK	        2,684	1,845	1,498	1,391	1,324
Azerbaian	276	311	842	870	1,008
Indonesia	1,472	1,096	964	973	946
Qatar	        665	783	851	924	912
Oman	        910	751	710	757	806
India	        653	683	698	694	676
Colombia	816	529	531	588	653
Argentina	802	733	679	661	630
Malaysia	692	755	588	609	585
Egypt	        852	673	637	603	546
Ecuador	        373	528	511	505	490
Sudan	        69	343	464	478	479
Australia	539	436	465	477	476
Syria	        538	446	380	369	369
Eq Guinea	102	365	345	337	331
Vietnam	        290	403	315	276	291
Yemen	        409	404	319	298	286
Gabon	        311	239	244	248	267
Denmark	        300	389	312	287	266
Total World	65,993	72,490	73,014	73,703	72,036

Ron P.

Will you clarify what you mean when you say "C+C, not all liquids". Does Crude only equal all liquids? I hate assuming I know what someone is referring to.

and what is the source of the data table

C+C = Crude and Condensates, which is the stuff that you directly pump out of the ground.

All Liquids is the above C+C plus tar sands, shale oil, other kinds of "unconventional oil" that require more expensive and energy-consuming refining processes. You don't even drill and pump the tar sands, you mine this stuff, and that's only the beginning of the process.

All Liquids also includes the various bio-fuels, and this makes the All Liquids yardstick suspect as a good measurement. Bio-fuels require a considerable amount of regular crude oil to be used in their production, and this results in a double-count. The crude used has already been accounted for, and then the final bio-fuel product is counted on top of this. So if you consume 8 barrels of crude to produce 10 barrels of ethanol, the All Liquids would calculate out at 18 barrels.

Antoinetta III

Russia Topples Saudi Arabia as Biggest Oil-Producing Nation

The country is now the top crude oil producer in the world, pumping a record 10.01 million barrels of output in September.

These new figures from the Russian Energy Ministry put the country ahead of Saudi Arabia for the first time. As the Saudis and other OPEC members have cut production since September 2008, the Russians have run ahead of the pack.

But keep in mind...Saudi Arabia is OPEC's swing producer. The bulk of the OPEC production cuts came from the Saudis. Meanwhile, Russia is not a member of OPEC, and has basically thumbed their noses at them when asked to cut production in support of OPEC's goals. IOW...Russia may be #1 because Saudi Arabia is letting them be.

But keep in mind...Saudi Arabia is OPEC's swing producer. The bulk of the OPEC production cuts came from the Saudis.

This is true but I am of the opinion that Saudi Arabia was producing flat out in 2005 and 2008. Russia, even with Saudi producing every possible barrel, would still be #1.

Saudi and Russian C+C average daily production, 05 thru Sep of 09, accordint to the EIA.

                Saudi   Russia
2005 Average    9,550   9,043
2006 Average    9,152   9,247
2007 Average    8,772   9,437
2008 Average    9,261   9,357
2009 9-M Av.    8,261   9,449

Ron P.

Back then, it was a topic of much debate here. Was Saudi heading for "a nosedive into the desert"? Or would they "turn on the taps" later in the year, proving they were not yet at peak oil?

In reality...neither happened. Production did not crash, nor did it sharply increase.

My guess is that they can increase production, but it's not as simple as turning on the taps. It takes time, expense, and infrastructure. I don't think we know if they're at peak oil yet.

Obviously they can increase production. The question is can they produce more than they did in 2005? They only produced flat out for the first seven months in 2008 so their average for that whole year was below their production capacity.

However Saudi has brought on Khurais since then so their total production capacity may, just may, be a little higher than in 2005. However their older fields are decling rapidly and, it is my opinion, that they will not be able to produce at 2005 levels by mid 2011 or somewhere thereabouts.

Ron P.

I think that the key to the Saudi puzzle is their promise--in early 2004--which they made good on, to try to bring oil prices back to the OPEC price band of $22-$28. They significantly increased their net oil exports in 2004 and 2005, in an an attempt to reverse the increase in oil prices--but then we have the 2006-2008 data points. As we know, the Saudis in early 2006 complained about problems finding buyers for all of their oil, "Even their light, sweet oil."

I think that 2005 was probably the final annual Saudi crude oil production peak, but I think that it is extremely unlikely that they will ever again exceed their 2005 annual total liquids net export rate of 9.1 mbpd (EIA).

In reality...neither happened. Production did not crash, nor did it sharply increase.

Disagree. When Stuart wrote Nosedive in March 2007, production (C+C) in Saudi was 8.6 million bpd. I maintained at that time that they were producing below capacity and could raise production (and Stuart attempted to debunk me in his article). I also said that the declines would stop by summer, and little did we know that when Stuart wrote that, declines had just stopped and would be stable until late summer before beginning to rise. The fact that production flat-lined for 7 months with no new major projects coming on says they were sitting on spare production.

The Saudis had production back above 9 million bpd by December 2007, and by July 2008 they had production at 9.7 million bpd (without the aid of some of the major new projects that Stuart had factored in that could bump them a little). Their production then fell after prices collapsed.

Stuart and a number of others were predicting Saudi production to continue falling, with a number of predictions that they would be down below 8 million bpd by year end 2007. A quote from Stuart at that time on Saudi: "Declines are rather unlikely to be arrested, and may well accelerate."

I think we would agree that if Saudi production had fallen another 1.1 million bpd in the year following Stuart's article - to 7.5 million bpd, that would have indeed been a crash. The fact that it rose by 1.1 million bpd is a sharp increase any way you slice it.

Okay, folks. Educate me on this.

Peak oil, it seems to me, is a shifting term. Given production techniques, technology and equipment available today, peak oil will be in year 10. Improve techniques, technology and equipment - or perhaps just provide me with goo gobs of additional equipment of the same vintage and utility - and peak is postponed, say to year 15. This does not change the volume of oil available. It may make a small bit more of it economically viable, and it may improve production for a short time. But, for every increase in production of a given volume, the slope down increases, as the remaining oil becomes ever more difficult and expensive. Thus, if peak is at 10, there is oil left post peak until year 25; if the peak is postponed by pumping the same oil faster, peak is at 15 and there is oil left until year 20.

Doesn't this cover what we have seen?

Yes, the Saudis may be able to pump a bit faster - but not much. And, their remaining production must suffer from that. It would appear from production numbers that someone in Saudi Aramco understands this, and has decided to limit production a bit in order to sustain it for a longer period of time. Why would they spend extra now, with prices damped by the Recession, rather than wait out the bad times?

zaphod42, I am not sure what you are talking about. Year 10? Do you mean 2010? Not a chance. OPEC is still producing about 2 million barrels per day below 2008 and likely will do so for most of this year.

Peak oil is not a shifting term. It simply means the year of world peak oil production, nothing more.

OPEC cut production in order to create higher prices. It worked; oil prices are now extremely high considering we are deep into a recession. And to create higher prices was the sole reason Saudi, and the rest of OPEC, cut production.

Oil, Crude + Condensate, peaked in 2005 while All Liquids peaked in 2008. In my opinion that will be the final peak however I would not really be surprised if oil production crept above those points in a few years. However that simply makes little difference. We are on a peak plateau and have been for five years. Oil production will never be significantly higher than it is right now.

Ron P.

zaphod42, I am not sure what you are talking about. Year 10? Do you mean 2010?

Ron, if I am reading him right, "Year 10" was just an example. His point is just that with better extraction techniques, peak for Saudi could still be in front of them, but that would mean the decline will be that much steeper. For instance, if they pulled out all the stops they might push production up to 10 million bpd for some period of time, but it doesn't change the amount in the ground and so the decline will necessarily be steeper than if they produced at a lower rate than they could.

I think it comes peak oil is much more of a financial issue. We know there are huge amounts of reserves. It has more to do with what we can afford to extract. See my post There is plenty of oil but . . ..

I suspect that the Saudis COULD increase production a little more, but WON'T - because they see it as being more in their long-term interest to leave as much in the ground as they can for as long as they can, short of crashing all their customers short-term or driving them into crash renewable energy programs. In other words, they can and are gaming the system. Just because your typical OilCo drains a field as fast as they can doesn't mean that nationalized producers always operate the same way.

Russia is scheduled to bring online 1.65 mb/d of megaprojects 2009-2015. 315 kb/d of that is the Vankor Field, which came online last fall. POLL-E.Siberia to drive Russian oil output growth in 2010 - Forbes.com

Energy Security Analysis Inc (ESAI), a U.S.-based energy analyst and advisory group, forecasts an overall 1.2 percent increase in Russian oil output next year. Without Vankor, however, output would actually drop by 60,000 barrels per day.

"While year-on-year growth will be positive, production will actually trend downward in 2010 compared with November 2009 output by roughly 70,000 bpd," said Andrew Reed, head of ESAI's Russia & Caspian service.

"One of the biggest changes in 2010 is that production on Sakhalin will probably be negative after contributing 50,000 bpd of growth in 2009," Reed said.

Vankor was discovered in 1988. Peak production is projected for 2011.

Ron -- You have numbers for Russian/KSA net exports?

Thanks in advance.

This EIA website has country level data through 2008:


Actually, they have the preliminary 2009 data (which will be revised) up. Because of a decline in Russian consumption in 2009, they show the following for net oil exports from Russia:

2007: 7.0 mbpd
2008: 6.9
2009: 7.1

They show 2009 Saudi net oil exports of 7.4 mbpd, so Saudi Arabia would appear to still be the #1 net oil exporter.

The decline in Mexican net oil exports appears to have slowed, from a 25.2%/year decline rate in 2008 to a 14.4%/year decline rate in 2009, again partly because of a decline in consumption (the volumetric production decline also slowed somewhat).

Mexican net oil exports:

2007: 1.36 mbpd
2008: 1.06
2009: 0.92

Canada's total net oil exports, after falling in 2008, rebounded in 2009, but the combined CMV (Canada, Mexico, Venezuela) net oil exports fell from 4.04 mbpd in 2008 to 3.82 mbpd in 2009 (versus 5.0 mbpd in 2004).

Thanks WT. So Russian exports have essentially been flat for 3 years. Intersting given all that has happened since 07.

Based on the HL plot (using production data only through about 1984) to generate the plot, Russia "caught up" in 2006/2007 with what their post-1984 cumulative production should have been; however, the HL method can't "see" immature frontier basins, but IMO the frontier basins in Russia are to Russia as Alaska is to the US, i.e., helpful but no panacea (which is kind of self-evident since there is that pesky problem of trying to maintain an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite resource base).

Here is Sam's late 2006 projection for Russian production & consumption:

wt - any chance you can repost that graph so it can be enlarged? Thanks.

Thanks WT. I do not track export data.

Ron P.

Tangential to this topic, here's an interesting remark I just came across in the April 2004 edition of the AAPG's EXPLORER bulletin:

"When you look at global discoveries in five year increments, through 1980 every five-year period except one right after World War II added more resources than were brought on stream," he said. "That trend reversed during 1984. Since then, annual worldwide liquids consumption has exceeded new liquids discoveries. The petroleum industry, fortunately, has added sufficient new reserves by coaxing more oil from older fields or already discovered but undeveloped fields to offset consumption.

"As some point, exploration must once again contribute a larger share of new reserve additions," he said.

The global numbers from 2000 forward illustrates the seriousness of this situation, Stark said:

* In 2000 IHS recorded 40.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent from new discoveries.
* In 2001 the total was 18.9 billion.
* In 2002 the total was 13.4 billion.
* In 2003 the total was 11.4 billion, although at year-end there were still about 90 discoveries for which the firm did not yet have reserve figures.

"Current oil and natural gas liquids production is right at 27 billion barrels of oil a year, and the industry has not come close to replacing that production in years," Stark said. "Even in 2000 the liquids portion of the total 40.5 did not equal the 27 billion barrel production level, totaling only around 25 billion barrels of liquids."

In fact, Stark said 1991 was the only year since 1985 that new discoveries topped liquids production.

Applied to the Russian situation it suggests that they are fast becoming a mature region. I'm attempting to compile discovery data from the EXPLORER archives - they show off last year's discoveries every January, as sourced from IHS, published in a handy CSV format that you can easily plug into a spreadsheet. The data covers 1998-2009, although it looks like they failed to publish a detailed report for Jan 2004. Haven't seen much out of Russia up to '03.

Great post KLR. I think I understand the 1991 anomaly. The global recession/price drop ($10/bbl by 1986) of the early 80's greatly inhibited exloration. Price recovery in the late 80's coincided with big advances in seismic especially in the offshore. I'll dig thru MMS records and see if I can confirm that supposition

Well KLR...another brilliant theory shot down by those pesky facts. You can find OCS production history from 1970-2004 at http://www.oceaneconomics.org. Something of a surprise to me. During 2003 we produced more oil from the OCS then at any other time in history. A peak of 338 million bbl in 1972 followed by a peak of 318 million bbl in 1986 followed by a peak of 462 million bbl in 2003. But by 2009 we’re back down to 334 million bbl. In fact production from 2005-09 never exceeded 400 million bbl. Reductions from hurricanes no doubt but even the addition of Deep Water production hasn’t caused a ramp up yet. We may be seeing the Hubert Peak for Gulf of Mexico OCS in these numbers. Need to normalize production for hurricane down time to be sure.

The ’86 peak could probably be explained by the time lag from discovery to full production. The late 70’s price spike lead to an up tick in OCS exploration. The price collapse of ’86 began a 10 year lower stand for production. Even more striking was the increase in OCS condensate from a low in ’76 of 31 million bbl to a peak of 120 million bbl in 2002…a 400% increase. That’s easy to explain: better seismic and higher NG allowed for more deeper drilling where NG rich with condensate is more common then oil. But back down to 81 million bbl by ’07.

Here is the direct link to discoveries in 2009:

No reserve estimates, though.

KLR, where is that CSV link you mentioned?

ROCK - the article's about the globe, not OCS. You could chart Fed Offshore for the GOM easy enough.

Looks like money being thrown at a problem.

aangel - EXPLORER doesn't provide .csv files per se, but their Global Discoveries articles published every January have tables laid out in a handy uniform format, with the fields separated by commas, which you can paste into your spreadsheet program easy enough. Here's the link to their archives.

Even so, it's a bit of a chore to enter all this data, but the results should be interesting.

Thanks KLR...missed that subtle little fact. But the drop in OCS does say a lot about the potential over hype of the Deep Water. More of those fields scheduled for start up but, as we all know, decline never sleeps.

well, there you have it, the usa is currently using about 10 million barrels of oil per day.
in 100 days that would be 1 billion barrels. a year, 3.65 billion and in 10 years, 36.5 billion barrels! wow! so a large fraction turns into exhuast gasses and soot or plastic that ends up in the ocean. of course i cruised around for the holiday weekends. visited my GF, stopped in an asian diner for take out. today in the great state of NJ it is currently flurries, 3 rd day in a row with 2 inches each day. i got the wood stove cranking and spanking. but...if all those chinese need new kitchen tables, mebbe next year i wont be able to get wood. i'll have to burn my kitchen table to keep warm. if those trillions of dollars were real instead of digital bits and bytes i could be burning worthless uhmerikan currency. is anyone telling the chinese not to consume so much? well? is anyone? does the oil conundrum have a chinese or asian office?
and another article about the pollution of container ships.
i been seeing an internet meme about thorium reactors every where. anyone else notice it? PSYOPS?
all this snow...my PV panels are covered. not the only one, the house 4 miles away has the panels covered also, that with a roof with a much steeper pitch. i haint goan up on dee roof to clean dem off. wish i had a wind mill. any one remember the 3 storms of the century back in the closing years of the 1990's? even had state of emergencies for the metro ny area, 3 feet of snow. so i guess things aint that bad.
a gay and friv0lous new ear to all.

well, there you have it, the usa is currently using about 10 million barrels of oil per day.

Many years ago...and perhaps a few years in the future -- but we are presently using more than 20 million and importing more than half of that.

(hit recalculate)

Iran's second largest oil field on fire:


Not that exciting a news story as it turns out. What's on fire is a single 40 year old well that's been off production for a few years.

Hey, this is good folks, check it out.

Choice Quotes from the Peak Oil Decade

“The tar sands of Alberta alone contain enough hydrocarbon to fuel the entire planet for over 100 years,” according to Peter Huber, co-author of “The Bottomless Well.” –2006,

Ron P.

The complete title of their book: "The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy"

Huber's thesis is that the sum of the output of discrete depleting sources of energy will show an infinite rate of increase.

in charge of the highly contaminated nuclear site.

I keep hearing about how 'safe' and 'clean' fission power is. Yet, no one from the "its safe and good" camp had offered up a rebuttal to the above statement.

Is a "highly contaminated" site so "safe" and "clean" that the phrase needs no rebuttal?


From the 1940s through the 1960s, barrels of radioactive waste were frequently dumped in oceans. This ended in 1970 when the EPA (Energy Protection Agency) determined that at least one-fourth of these barrels were leaking.

The spent fuel rods from a nuclear reactor are the most radioactive of all nuclear wastes. When all the radiation given off by nuclear waste is tallied, the fuel rods give off 99% of it, in spite of having relatively small volume. There is, as of now, no permanent storage site of spent fuel rods. Temporary storage is being used while a permanent site is searched for and prepared.

Predumably Yucca Mountain, right?

There is a 13 million year-old volcanic ridge called Yucca Mountain. A 5.0 earthquake had rocked the area and did some damage to the media reception area, display center, cafeteria and office complex. Repairs and seismic improvements were estimated to cost approximately $2 million. There are 39 earthquake faults and 7 young volcanoes in the area around the mountain. DOE had originally said that the area might expect an earthquake about every 10,000 years. There's already been 2 earthquakes with a mag. of 4 or more since digging the tunnels.

Representatives of the project have been assuring the public that Yucca Mountain is stable and that burying 77,000 tons of spent radioactive fuel rods and high level waste would be safe 600 to 950 feet under the mountain.

As little as one millionth of a gram will cause cancer if breathed in or entering your body or blood stream by way of a cut or other openings in the skin.

I guess it gets down to a simple question. Do we trust there is a secure way of safeguarding nuclear waste?

I wouldn't trust YM. If we store 'waste', we need to find a geologically stable region, hence the proponents of using Western Australia as a safe 'geodump'. All the rocks out there are folded to the sh**house, but they're as old as you can get. very geologically stable.

Ideally, we wouldn't use a once-through fuel cycle, and so would actually have much less 'waste' to store, but that's a political/social issue, not a technical one.