Drumbeat: January 6, 2010

The Peak Oil Crisis: 2010 – An Annus Horribilis

While our leaders and the media continue to tell us that we have turned an economic corner and that all will be well soon, the underlying data, for those willing to look, tell a far different story.

Just as climate scientists debate the existence of a "tipping point", beyond which rising global temperatures are uncontrollable, there may exist an economic tipping point beyond which control of the US and global economies is beyond the powers of government.

Although another economy-crushing oil price spike in the next 12 months is a possibility, it is the sovereign debt crisis and all that it entails that seems to be a more imminent threat as we enter 2010. Oil prices, however, are back over $80 a barrel, and although few are predicting a price surge in the near future, China, India and several other Asian economies are growing rapidly. There is a good market for the oil that is being produced somewhere and OPEC production has been climbing of late, eating into the cartel's spare capacity to produce more oil.

U.S. Should Regulate Dealers, CFTC’s Gensler Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. should “explicitly” regulate derivatives dealers, said Gary Gensler, who has pushed Congress to impose new rules on the $300 trillion over-the- counter derivatives market.

Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has asked Congress to give the commission greater authority to regulate over-the-counter contracts, a move that may give it more control of commodity speculation that takes place outside of regulated exchanges.

The riskless investor

We are years – maybe decades – away from normal. In fact, I don’t think 2007 is ever coming back. Next year the Boomers start turning 65, and the ten years after will be dominated by their detritus. By then we should be nicely into the era of peak oil, which will fundamentally alter society. And if that doesn’t, climate change will. If you ever wanted to get ready for stuff, it’s now.

Russia, Belarus oil supply talks halted-agency

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Negotiations between Russia and Belarus over the supply of Russian oil for 2010 have broken down after talks in Moscow, Belarus state news agency BelTA reported, quoting an unnamed source in the Belarussian delegation on Wednesday.

Ukraine Pays for December Gas Supplies From Russia

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine paid for December natural-gas imports from Russia after winning approval last week from the International Monetary Fund to tap into currency reserves to cover fuel purchases.

The transfer of funds to Russia came in advance of a Jan. 11 payment deadline and was intended to confirm Ukraine’s reputation as a “reliable partner,” state energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy said today in an e-mailed statement. Russia had previously questioned Ukraine’s ability to pay for gas on time.

Peak Oil Enthusiast Admits Iraq's A Massive Game Changer That 'Could' Delay Peak Oil, Again

We actually enjoy The Oil Drum greatly, it's an excellent site.

We just don't always agree with some of the things they have to say.

Yet on this we agree -- Iraq could be a massive game changer for the oil industry.

BP Said to Have Dropped Planned Bid for Jubilee Field Stake

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-biggest oil company, scrapped plans to bid for Kosmos Energy LLC’s stake in Ghana’s Jubilee field, two people familiar with the matter said.

Talks between BP and Ghana National Petroleum Corp. over a joint offer for Kosmos’s Ghanaian assets broke down in recent weeks, according to the people who declined to be identified because the negotiations were confidential. BP wants to focus on other projects, such as the Gulf of Mexico, one said.

Michael Klare - The Blowback Effect, 2020

Momentous shifts in global power relations and a changing of the imperial guard, just now becoming apparent, will be far more pronounced by 2020 as new actors, new trends, new concerns, and new institutions dominate the global space. Nonetheless, all of this is the norm of history, no matter how dramatic it may seem to us.

Less normal -- and so the wild card of the second decade (and beyond) -- is intervention by the planet itself. Blowback, which we think of as a political phenomenon, will by 2020 have gained a natural component. Nature is poised to strike back in unpredictable ways whose effects could be unnerving and possibly devastating.

What, then, will be the dominant characteristics of the second decade of the twenty-first century? Prediction of this sort is, of course, inherently risky, but extrapolating from current trends, four key aspects of second-decade life can be discerned: the rise of China; the (relative) decline of the United States; the expanding role of the global South; and finally, possibly most dramatically, the increasing impact of a roiling environment and growing resource scarcity.

New Year, Same Deal: It Doesn't Take Nostradamus to Predict What Will (and Won't) Happen This Year

On three distinct and yet interconnected fronts -- environmentally, economically and culturally -- population growth will increase its impact and threaten our planet, overwhelm our country and dramatically change our way of life.

The Next Decade's Top Sustainability Trends

What trends are likely the next ten years? One thing for sure, 2010 through 2019 will be one day looked at as 1) the turning point for addressing climate change by using effective urban management strategies, or it will be remembered as 2) the time when we collectively fumbled the Big Blue Ball.

Salazar to Toughen US Drilling Rules

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce Wednesday that his agency will require oil and natural-gas companies to clear more regulatory hurdles before they are allowed to drill on federal lands.

Mr. Salazar's action is likely to make it more difficult for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to fast-track the permitting of oil and gas projects on federal land. BLM field staffers would be required to seek additional approvals from their supervisors and to undertake more visits to areas where energy companies are seeking access, according to people familiar with the matter.

Frontier cuts Cheyenne rates on poor economics

TORONTO (Reuters) - Frontier Oil expects to run its Cheyenne, Wyoming refinery at lower rates in January due to weak economic conditions and higher crude costs, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The decline in the November/December light/heavy crude differentials increased our incentive to run a light crude slate, which limits our total capacity in Cheyenne," said Kristine Boyd, a spokeswoman for the refinery.

Market Report: U.S. Gas Consumption in State of Hibernation

America hibernates as gas consumption hits a 13 month low. The drop in demand led to big surge in gasoline inventories according to two widely followed industry reports.

The first hint that America seemed to stay home for the holidays came from the MasterCard Spending pulse report that showed that gasoline purchases fell to 8.93 million barrels a day which was down 3.5% from the week before and the lowest level of gasoline demand since September 2009. That drop in demand probably explains why in another report by the American Petroleum Institute that showed gasoline inventories surged by 5.58 million barrels. These reports suggest the obvious, bad weather and the holidays had an adverse impact on gasoline demand. Yet it may also show that demand may still be a bit price sensitive. Retail gas prices also surged last week as the national average pump price rose 4 cents last week to $2.62 a gallon. That according to Bloomberg is 63% higher than it was a year ago at this time.

Plan B, if the Big Line fails

So what happens to North Slope gas -- which is almost as important going forward to the Alaska economy as incentivizing continued development of Alaska oil -- if the Big Line fails (or to use the EIA's gentler term in a November study, if it is "significantly deferred")? Because the groundwork is in the process of being laid now, Alaskans should focus on -- and ask those who propose to lead them -- what is "Plan B?"

China's deep freeze triggers power shortage

BEIJING — A frigid Siberian cold front gripping northern and central China has caused coal and power shortages as residents scrambled to keep warm, state press reported Wednesday.

Temperatures early Wednesday in Beijing fell to minus 16 degrees Celsius (three degrees Fahrenheit) -- the lowest in the capital since 1971 -- as rare snows fell in central and eastern China, the state weather bureau said.

The icy weather has strained the nation's power grid, with the eastern city of Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Shandong and Hubei cutting power to some areas as they rationed electricity, the China Business News reported.

UK: Heating fuel shortage closes schools

Hundreds of children had an extra day off yesterday as a clutch of Norfolk schools ran out of heating oil or gas.

One school was forced to close its doors to children because thieves siphoned off its heating oil, leaving staff waiting for an emergency delivery.

UK: Energy fears over gas and kerosene shortages

THE government was accused yesterday of failing to manage the country's energy policy after reports of gas shortages.

Critics pointed to a lack of gas storage capacity and an over-reliance on natural gas power stations, claiming that the government has not kept up with changing consumption patterns.

Bangladesh - Gas crisis in city : Petrobangla plans staggering gas supply to industries

Due to persistent gas crisis in the city and its adjoining areas, Petrobangla will introduce holiday staggering in gas supply to industries across the country within a few weeks to save the fossil fuel.

Belarus argues to keep Russian subsidy

Belarus today insisted that Russia should continue billions of dollars in oil subsidies, potentially complicating talks aimed at resolving a dispute that has raised the spectre of disruption to EU supplies.

Pakistan: Managing the power crisis

When the present government assumed office , the country was confronted with a grave power crisis due to a deficit of 3500 MW ; a legacy of the criminal neglect of the previous governments to show sensitivity to the growing need for power and the need to enhance power generating capacity in the country. There was a massive power load shedding across the country, factories and plants were closing down, manufacturing businesses and exports were in the nose-dive mode triggering wide spread unemployment. There were riots on the streets, trains and public property were being burnt by the agitated masses.

E&P Employment Levels to Remain Stable in 2010

According to a new study by BDO, one of the nation's leading accounting and consulting organizations, 65 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) at oil and gas exploration and production companies say employment levels will remain stable at their company in 2010. Another 27 percent said they plan to hire more people.

Heavy vehicles to remain on NSW roads

Switching dangerous loads from road to rail was not viable and would not reduce the escalating road toll, say police and truckies.

Three major crashes on NSW highways involving heavy vehicles in the past nine days have resulted in eight deaths and prompted calls for a reduction in the number of trucks on the state's roads.

Nuclear options: Nuclear power may be a ‘green’ solution worth using

NASA climatologist James Hansen's research into global warming has brought him fame — and put him in the big fat middle of controversy on more than one occasion.

The intellectual journey that first led Hansen to warn against the imminent perils to our planet of continuing to burn fossil fuels, particularly coal, began in the 1980s. Over the years it has also led him to another, somewhat surprising conclusion: Nuclear power could offer an environmentally acceptable way out of the problems caused by heavy reliance on coal.

Specifically, Hansen says, the Generation IV nuclear power plants now under development offer an alternative to burning coal that ought to be pursued, in this country and globally.

Bolivia on the global warming frontline

In 1998, scientists predicted that the Chacaltaya glacier above La Paz would have completely disappeared by 2015. Now experts say it will already be gone completely early this year.

Jeff Rubin: Why energy efficiency means higher consumption

Efficiency may be the holy grail of the economist, but it’s a total head fake for the conservationist. And while one is being used to promote the other, the two concepts are as different as day and night.

The fact that the high-efficiency furnace generates more heat for a given amount of fuel burnt doesn’t necessarily mean I will end up with any fuel savings. As the cost of my heating falls, might it just allow me to set my thermostat higher? If so, my energy savings go right up the chimney.

That’s just where all the energy savings in the auto industry have gone over the last four decades — up the tailpipe, actually. Despite all the efficiency gains mandated by rising CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards, your average North American car consumes just as much fuel today as it did back in the early 1970s. Sure, the engine is 30 per cent more efficient, but now it’s hauling around an SUV that’s driven about a third more per year than a vehicle was back then.

Amory Lovins: Freeing America from its addiction to oil

Snowmass, Colorado (CNN) -- Oil is on its way out. That journey will take several decades, but it's begun. Mindful markets and civil society will complete it as inexorably as innovators and capitalists got America off whale-oil lamps in the 1850s.

My 2005 TED talk explained how to get the United States completely off oil by the 2040s, led by business for profit. This would cost an average of about $15 per barrel in 2000 dollars, or about $18 per barrel in 2009 dollars -- less than a third of oil's current price, conservatively assuming that all its environmental, security and other "external" costs (paid in taxes, illness or insecurity rather than at the pump) are worth zero. The Pentagon-co-sponsored September 2004 study Winning the Oil Endgame by the Rocky Mountain Institute details how.

About 45mbpd extra oil capacity required in 20 years to meet rising global demand

Oil producers need to generate an extra crude output capacity of about 45 million barrels per day in the next 20 years to meet rising demand and offset a steady decline in major fields, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

The bulk of the increase is expected to come from Saudi Arabia and other members of the 12-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) as other supply sources have nearly reached their peak, Fatih Birol, IEA's Chief Economist, told the Paris-based Arab Oil and Gas magazine.

..."That study found there was an average rate of decline of 6.7 per cent a year at most mature fields. We then explained that, even if world oil demand remained flat between now and 2030, one would need to add 45 million bpd to existing production capacity to replace the decline at existing fields, which is equivalent to around four times the production capacity of Saudi Arabia. The outlook for world oil supply thus represents a major challenge at the geological, technological, economic and financial levels," he told the magazine.

He estimated that about half the 45 million bpd will have to come from oil fields that have not yet been developed and the other half from fields that have not yet been discovered. "On the basis of this analysis, we estimate that conventional oil supply could reach a peak around 2020 if we do not discover new oil basins between now and then. But when discussing the peak oil issue, it is not at all enough to study only the prospects for supply."

Peak Oil Believers Wonder Why Every Government Ignores Them, Conclude It's Due To A Giant Cover Up

Yet, interestingly, rather than confront their own assumption that peak oil is the global disaster they make it to be, this article at The Oil Drum ignores this and concludes that non-believers around the world are either A) suffering from psychological 'cognitive biases' or B) in it together in a giant global cover up (combining many enemy governments at odds with each other, plus competing corporations we might add).

It seems the peak oil disaster boat is sinking.

Mike Ruppert: The world is falling apart

As I write, the world is falling apart. Military forces from all major powers are flooding the Gulf of Aden, using piracy and terrorism as a pretext. This is all jockeying in anticipation of a major, and possibly total, war in and around the Persian Gulf -- where 60% of the planet's known oil is. Pakistan is imploding. Within days it will face a "worst possible" energy crisis and, according to Pakistani news sources, trigger massive civil unrest. Pakistan has failed. An Israeli and/or U.S. attack on Iran is now, no longer unthinkable. Just recently, Israel recalled all its ambassadors and charges d'affaires simultaneously for what (sure looked to me) was an emergency huddle. Major power shortages are crippling nations from the Phillipines, to Vietnam, to India, throughout the Caspian and especially Pakistan. Cities in many countries (including the USnd Britain) are selectively turning out streetlights that will never come back on because they can't afford the cost. The world is starting to shut down.

N.B. is missing Rubin's message

In my opinion, Monday's front page headline, "Power pact lauded," had little to do with the content of the article. The article revealed that notable economist Jeff Rubin has not, in fact, read the "fine print" of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which outlines the broad parameters of the deal.

Had he read the fine print he would have done more than simply applaud the replacement of oil-generated electricity with hydro. He would have realized that the deal is simply a way to subsidize industrial power rates in this province by cutting New Brunswick industries in on the cheap power deal enjoyed by Quebec industries.

Oil Trades Near 14-Month High; Freeze Forecast to Sap Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- Oil traded near a 14-month high in New York before a government report forecast to show U.S. fuel supplies fell as the country’s east faces its coldest winter in three decades.

The Energy Department is forecast to show distillate stockpiles, including heating oil, dropped 1.85 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg survey before today’s report. The eastern half of the U.S. is facing its coldest winter since 1982, AccuWeather.com said on its Web site, as Arctic air from Canada spreads south.

China faces new risk: attacks on pipelines

Rapid urbanization has resulted in the reckless construction of buildings and roads within the pipelines' buffer zones in recent years, said Cao Kangtai, director of Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

Rampant theft of oil and gas through illegal siphoning is also a major threat, he said.

Thieves illegally drilled into the CNPC's pipelines 18,382 times from 2002 to 2006, causing the company a loss of more than 500 million yuan (72 million U.S. dollars), according to CNPC.

Oil theft is now a major cause of oil spills, said Liu Zheng, a professor from Tsinghua University, to China Daily.

Iraq cabinet approves oil deals with foreign firms

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq has approved all pending deals with foreign energy firms over oil fields auctioned last year, paving the way for more than 100 billion dollars in investment, the oil ministry said Wednesday.

The nine contracts, which will be officially signed soon, will dramatically ramp up Iraq's oil output in the coming seven years and could make it one of the world's biggest crude producers, providing much-needed revenue for a country in dire need of rebuilding.

Asia May Have Become Top Buyer of South African Coal

(Bloomberg) -- Asia may have overtaken Europe for the first time as the biggest purchaser of South African coal in 2009, according to Raymond Chirwa, Richards Bay Coal Terminal’s chief executive officer.

Shipment levels to Asia and Europe in the year’s first 10 months were similar, while the final two months are being calculated, Chirwa said in a phone interview today. “It would be a big shift” if Asia were the largest buyer, he said.

Iran Set to Reduce February Oil Prices for Asia on Saudi Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- National Iranian Oil Co. is set to reduce its official selling prices of crude oil to be supplied next month to Asia after Saudi Arabia cut prices yesterday.

Iran’s state oil company will set Iranian Light for February shipments at 35 cents a barrel above the average of Persian Gulf benchmark Oman and Dubai grades, based on a quarterly formula tied to Saudi Arabian Oil Co. prices, which National Iranian has followed in the past. The premium will be the smallest in five months, down from January’s 70 cents.

Indian Oil to Boost Spending 7.4% to Raise Capacity

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s largest state-owned refiner, will increase spending 7.4 percent and borrow overseas to build capacity as demand for fuels rises in the world’s second-fastest growing major economy.

Indian Oil is raising $500 million in its first overseas bond sale to take advantage of lower interest rates, Serangulam V. Narasimhan, finance director, said in an interview in New Delhi today. The refiner plans to spend 145 billion rupees ($3.1 billion) in the financial year starting in April compared with 135 billion rupees in the current year, he said.

French Power Demand May Climb to Record Next Week; Prices Jump

(Bloomberg) -- French electricity demand may rise to a record next week as temperatures are forecast to drop as much as 7.7 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) below average in Europe’s second-biggest power market. Power prices in the region surged.

...“The high French demand is surprising, considering that temperatures are around 5 degrees warmer than when records were set last year,” Per Lekander, head of European utilities research at UBS AG in Paris, said today in a note. “Each degree corresponds to around 1,500 megawatts of additional demand so temperature-adjusted demand is significantly higher this year.”

China’s 2009 Power Use Rises 6%, Green Spending Jumps

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest electricity producer, raised power consumption by 6 percent in 2009 as the government’s stimulus package bolstered demand and fueled investments in renewable energy.

Power use in the world’s second-biggest energy user climbed to 3.6 billion megawatt-hours, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its Web site. The growth rate is 0.47 percentage point higher than 2008, the nation’s top economic planner said today.

China Shuts Less Than 1% of Power-Generating Capacity

(Bloomberg) -- China, facing icy temperatures and heavy snowfall, shut 0.5 percent of its electricity-generating capacity as bad weather hampered coal deliveries to power plants.

Chinese cities benefit from gas supply from Central Asia

URUMQI (Xinhua) -- A 1,833-km pipeline carrying natural gas from Central Asia to Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang, will take another 10 days to provide a stable supply, said a city official Wednesday.

"The pipeline's pressure is still low, and we are unable to increase the supply," said Wu Jianmin, of the municipal natural gas office.

China-Australia LNG agreement expires due to Australian non-performance

Reporters learned from China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) January 5 that the agreement on the Browse liquefied natural gas (LNG) project signed between CNPC and Australia-based Woodside Petroleum has expired, mainly because the Australian side failed to supply LNG to the Chinese side as scheduled.

China-Australia Economic Links Are ‘Maturing,’ Ferguson Says

(Bloomberg) -- The economic relationship between Australia and China is maturing as the countries “learn from the past” and improve communication on potential investments, Australia’s energy minister said.

Australia will remain open to foreign investment in its resources industry when they are in the nation’s interest, Martin Ferguson told reporters today after a ceremony to mark Yanzhou Coal Mining Co.’s A$3.5 billion ($3.2 billion) acquisition of Felix Resources Ltd. Yanzhou in October won Australian approval for the transaction, China’s largest acquisition in the country.

Russia beckons Belarus to heel in oil supply row

At stake is the political future of Belarus, which is wedged between Russia and the European Union, and key Belarussian refineries that the Kremlin would like to see in the hands of Russian companies.

Analysts said Russia is using its energy might to bring Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko to heel after attempts by the former Soviet farm director to leverage dependency on Moscow with overtures toward European powers.

Glencore May Expand to Rival BHP, Rio, Investor Rothschild Says

(Bloomberg) -- Glencore International AG, the commodity trader that’s considering an initial public offering, may grow to rival the world’s largest mining companies, according to investor Nathaniel Rothschild.

Few bright spots in oil

Despite significant oil price gains at the end of 2009, the job outlook for the energy sector in Alberta and across Canada remains fairly flat heading into 2010, with the only relative bright spot coming in the second half of the year in certain areas --if the economy picks up, according to industry forecasts.

Not surprisingly, the oilfield services segment of the industry continues to take the biggest hit to jobs as conventional oil and gas drilling forecasts predict a stagnant year ahead, similar to 2009.

EnBW Enters Exclusive Talks With Dresden on GESO Sale

(Bloomberg) -- EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG entered exclusive talks with the city of Dresden to sell stakes in local energy suppliers, bolstering efforts by German municipalities to expand in the power and natural gas industry.

Do You Have a Receding (H)airline?

Right now oil is in the sweet spot, about $40-80 where airlines can make money. If the economy improves any more it is very likely that, with the significant supply constraints under $100/barrel (even if you don’t agree with peak oil theory you should acknowledge this). So if the economy improves even a few GDP points oil will go up enough that airlines will be forced into one of two scenarios: 1) raise prices sharply to squeeze out some profit or 2) take a loss. As I will explain below they will almost certainly take #2.

Mexico vows to set new efficiency rules for autos

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will limit imports of inefficient used cars and encourage low-carbon technology to reduce its overall volume of tailpipe exhaust, the energy ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said it was also mulling regulations that would for the first time set a national standard for auto emissions. Such standards would be at the "vanguard" of international best standards, the agency said.

Think to manufacture electric cars in Indiana

Carmaker Think plans to manufacture its highway-capable electric car in Indiana and and make it available in the U.S. next year, the company said on Tuesday.

The Norway-based company is scheduled to hold a press conference in Elkhart, Indiana, where it intends to make the small car. CEO Richard Canny and Indiana governor Mitch Daniels will attend.

Demand for upgraded energy efficiency at home is weak

The recession-driven drop in new home construction is forcing more companies to seek work upgrading the energy efficiency of U.S. homes.

But consumer demand remains weak because of the cost and the dearth of strong financial incentives, which President Obama is now pushing Congress to provide.

Qatar studying $1 billion solar energy project

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar is in "serious" talks with investors to build a $1 billion solar power project, an Arabic-language daily said on Wednesday, citing an executive.

UK offshore wind costs can fall 40 pct - Carbon Trust

LONDON (Reuters) - New technology and careful choice of sites could slash projected costs for Britain's next round of offshore wind farm project by as much as 40 percent, the Carbon Trust, which advises the government, said on Tuesday.

Importing Solar Power with Biomass

Every six hours the sun bathes the lands of the earth in as much energy as the world consumes in a year. If we could just find a way to collect and distribute that energy our energy problems would be solved. Unfortunately, most of our energy consumption is in the places with the least sunshine (see insolation map, below.)

Biomass captures and stores the suns energy for later use. In tropical zones biomass grows year round and can be five times more productive than in the temperate zones. Biomass can be converted to denser forms and shipped to where it is needed surprisingly economically. For example, ocean shipping of coal priced at $73/ton from Australia to China only adds about $12/ton to the final cost. Wood chips are bulkier, but they can be made as dense as coal by heating and compressing them into torrefied pellets.

Japanese project aims to turn CO2 into natural gas

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese researchers said Wednesday they hoped to enlist bacteria in the fight against global warming to transform carbon dioxide buried under the seabed into natural gas.

The researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology aim to activate bacteria found naturally in earth to turn CO2 into methane, a major component of natural gas.

The Decade of Climate Change and Peak Oil

Despite my general optimism about the future, I still worry greatly about the threat of peak oil, over and above the threat of climate change (as I’ve written about in numerous columns). Peak oil and climate change are integrally related because both concern our unsustainable use of fossil fuels. Solving climate change will also solve peak oil, but solving peak oil will not necessarily solve climate change. This is the case because some remedies for peak oil, such as tar sands, oil shale, coal to liquids, etc., will make the climate change problem far worse because of even higher greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainable Wallingford in the New Year

When we hear the words climate change, peak oil, food security, downsizing, and local economy, we want to be part of a community that is not overwhelmed. Instead, we want to use these changes as opportunities to live more meaningful lives in our local neighborhood and develop aware, healthy lifestyles within our own community.

Waiting for a green light

SO KEEN were many energy and clean-technology executives to see a robust agreement to cut emissions of greenhouse gases emerge from December’s climate summit that thousands of them trekked to Copenhagen to cheer policymakers on. It was to no avail: the participants failed to agree on a global mechanism to put a price on emissions, making it harder for energy firms to justify big investments in unproven green technologies, such as advanced biofuels or carbon capture and storage. “Almost all areas of clean technology will get a little less investor interest because there is no mandate,” predicts Vinod Khosla, a prominent venture capitalist.

Don't blame China, US for Nopenhagen

HONG KONG - The Copenhagen climate change summit threatened to be the biggest dud in recorded history, Comet Kohoutek, Ishtar and the Y2K virus all wrapped up in one. The United Nations, its legion of freeloaders, and environment group jesters spent more than two years and millions of dollars to reach an impasse. At the final moment, China and the United States stepped up and forged a deal that gave the world a meaningful start toward reversing the growth in carbon emissions.

Instead of praise for their rescue effort, the world's two largest carbon emitters drew intense criticism for their deal from many different quarters. Not only was that criticism misdirected, but an issue that nearly derailed the Sino-US talks points directly where the real blame belongs.

Foreign Policy: Ripe And Green With Envy

In many ways, China did exactly what a properly governed developing country should do: lift its people out of poverty while trying to reduce the negative effects of industrialization. Thus far, it has performed this balancing act remarkably well. It has invested massively in improving the efficiency of its economy and has committed to reducing the energy intensity of its industrial production to a level that could herald a new stage of green growth.

Britain must launch GM food revolution, says chief scientist

Britain must embrace genetically modified crops and cutting-edge developments such as nanotechnology to avoid catastrophic food shortages and future climate change, the government's chief scientist will warn today.

In the clearest public signal yet that the government wants a hi-tech farming revolution, Professor John Beddington will say UK scientists need to urgently d evelop "a new and greener revolution" to increase food production in a world changed by global warming and expected to have an extra 3 billion people to feed by 2040.

Sinking village will not be moved

An end-of-the-world nausea sets in on the narrow road that rolls across open water toward Isle de Jean Charles. A crooked yellow sign warns: "Water On Road". When high tides and a stiff southern wind combine, the road is slick with water. Half the road caved in after last year's hurricane season.

Half the houses are empty shells, blown apart by hurricanes. Most of the others are raised high on pilings, not for the view, but to keep sofas, beds and Grandma's photos out of the Gulf's regular inundations. The church is gone, the store is gone, most of the children too.

The islanders are living the doomsday scenario that many researchers say awaits Miami, Houston, Savannah, New York, and other cities that have a rising sea at the doorstep.

US Sen. Bingaman of New Mexico says bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unlikely in 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said Tuesday that it's unclear whether Congress will be able to pass cap and trade legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions this year.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said there's no consensus on what form a cap-and-trade system would take, but strong desire exists in both the Senate and House to pass other energy-related bills that would curb pollution blamed for global warming.

Bingaman said the concern is that if Congress does not move forward on cap-and-trade legislation, emission reductions will be forced by federal regulators.

"That will also drive up utility rates," he said. "The question is what will drive up utility rates the least, so that's what we're still trying to determine."

Climate change scepticism will increase hardship for world's poor: IPCC chief

Climate change scepticism is likely to surge in 2010 and could exacerbate "hardship" for the planet's poorest people, one of the world's leading authorities on climate change has told the Guardian.

Climate change and South Carolina tourism

There's no question that beaches are already feeling the effects of climate change. Sea levels along much of the U.S. coastline have risen five to nine inches in the past 100 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are several causes for the rise, but one of them is the changing climate.

According to the EPA, "A significant amount of sea level rise has likely resulted from the observed warming of the atmosphere and the oceans."

Tipping Elements in the Earth System: How Stable Is the Contemporary Environment?

ScienceDaily — A Special Feature of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents the latest scientific insights on so-called tipping elements in the planetary environment. These elements have been identified as the most vulnerable large-scale components of the Earth System that may be profoundly altered by human interference. If one or more of those components is tipped -- especially in the course of global warming -- then the age of remarkably stable environmental conditions on Earth throughout the Holocene may end quickly and irreversibly.

Arctic Ocean awakening as ice melts

Earth's sleepiest ocean is waking, say researchers.

The Arctic Ocean's ice-capped depths have been quiet for millennia, thanks to winds being largely unable to ruffle the surface and stir things up.

The rapid loss of summer ice cover is changing all that, however, creating internal waves in the Arctic waters that could dramatically change life there — and perhaps even accelerate the sea ice loss.

WNC Observer’s 2010 Predictions

Energy: The big news is going to be the major projects that DON’T go forward. Across the board – oil, gas, coal, nuclear, renewables of all types – major projects that have been on the drawing board will not go forward, almost entirely due to lack of funding. By the end of the year, forward energy supply projections are going to be revised substantially downward to an unprecedented degree. Oil should mostly trade in a range of $65 - $95, with the possibility of a temporary spike to triple digit territory due to a geopolitical shock. Neither C+C nor All Liquids will post new peaks in 2010.

US Economy : The two quarters of anemic and questionable growth in the last half of 2009 will immediately be followed by a further severe downturn for most of 2010. Everyone will be calling this a “double dip” recession; what they don’t realize is that this is just the start of a long sawtooth series downhill.
The official U3 figure will continue to increase in fits in starts to at least 12% by the end of 2010; the official U6 figure will closing in on 20%. Increasing numbers of long-term unemployed and underemployed people will be moving into the “unofficial economy” in a big way this year.
Market interest rates (as opposed to those quoted by the Federal Reserve) for benchmark US Treasuries will increase to at least 5%, and possibly by much more.
The S&P 500 will end the year closer to its historic P/E range of 10-15 than to its present P/E of 20.
As for some specific sectors of the US economy:

Banks: Several regional banks will be shut down by the FDIC. It will become increasingly obvious that one of the main consequences of the FedGov propping up the biggest banks was to give them an unfair competitive advantage against the smaller regional banks. Expect some effort to re-instate Glass-Steagall, but this will be blocked and go nowhere. The grass-roots movement to disinvest in the big banks and to patronize small locally-owned banks and credit unions will gain some traction and momentum in 2010 as the mainstream media start to notice.

Housing: House prices will decline at least another 10%, maybe more, and the nation will be staggered by the increase in the number of homes in foreclosure. New housing construction will drop to nearly zero, and most home builders will be going out of business, if they haven’t already. There will be increasing numbers of stories in the media of astonishing numbers of related and unrelated people sharing living quarters – legally or illegally - to an unprecedented extent. The numbers of homeless will skyrocket, and just about every city of any size at all will have a tent city.

Retail and CRE: Several large retail chains will shut down in 2010. Online retailers will be the only ones doing very well at all. Many commercial properties will have large double-digit vacancy rates, and the number of CRE defaults and foreclosures will skyrocket. Commercial construction will crater as well.

Transport: People or things moving around is going to become increasingly difficult in 2010. Funding cuts, service reductions, maintenance deferrals, closures and shutdowns, delays and cancelations, overcrowding, snafus – expect all of that, and more, for any and all modes of transport.

Automotive Industy: GM and Chrysler will not do any better, in spite of their government aid, but Ford will do worse. There will be more closed dealerships, more unprofitable brands terminated, fewer new models brought to market, and more problems with product quality. GM will have to delay bringing the Volt into production for at least another year, maybe more.

Agriculture & Food: Farmers might actually have a better year than the past few. Nevertheless, lots of people are going to have to cut back substantially on their food expenditures, so it won’t be that good a year for producers of more expensive foodstuffs, like beef.

Healthcare: A healthcare bill will pass Congress and be signed – and almost immediately prove to be an absolute disaster. It will quickly become obvious to most Americans that their health care is going to be both more expensive and less good than what they had in the past.

Government & Public Affairs: After passing the health care, Congress will shut down in gridlock mode until the 2010 elections; there will be no significant budget cutting or tax reform for the remainder of this Congress – things will just drift.
Something close to an absolute majority of the population is going to conclude that they despise both parties, and will be looking for alternatives. There will likely be an unexpected surge in support for whatever independents or third parties make it on to the ballot; they will actually win only a few races, but their gains will be enough to lay the groundwork for the emergence of a serious mass movement for a populist/reformist 3rd party.
Things will go from bad to much worse for most state and local governments in 2010; most will be in crisis mode. 2010 will be the year when most state and local governments must start making the really hard choices of actually cutting out entire programs and functional areas.
It will become obvious to just about everyone that Afghanistan is a hopeless, lost cause. Cutting our losses will become the sole focus, but getting out won’t be easy, or painless, or costless. Attention is increasingly going to be focused on the Persian Gulf/Strait of Hormuz area and on the Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa area as the places where the US has real national interests that are under real and serious threats. There will be an effort to push for settlement of long-lasting disputes between the two Koreas, China & Taiwan, and Israel & Palestine.


Sheesh! It sounds like you just don't get it do you?

It seems the peak oil disaster boat is sinking.

Happy New Year, and get with the program already, Party on Dude!


I agree fully with all our your forecasts.

I have been around some of the shopping malls here in WKY. Its pathetic.
Stocks are running low due to lack of buyers. I had to go to 5 stores just to buy a foam topper.

Many more inside fronts are now shutted and closed. More clearance signs on such as Beds,Bath and Beyond, and Lines and Things.

I went into Lowes. Me and my friend were two of the 8 customers in the store. I didn't find what I was seeking in merchandise.

All around I see the falling apart of merchants and merchandise.

I took my Jeep to a certified dealer. He had three employees in the shop bay area. One was supposed to put new carrier and pinion bearings in my jeep. Price quoted was $350. When I paid the bill is was almost $800 and he did NOT replace the pinion bearings. I had already brought all parts and handed them to him.

Later I noticed he had mangled my left rear oil seal and all my fluid was draining out slowly when I drove. They refused to make good on it.

I hope they do go under. The sooner the better if this is what it is coming down to.

All the meat products I buy lately are almost inedible. I keep throwing the packages out. 2 chuck roasts. 10 lbs of ground chuck. 3 lbs of sausage. So on...



Airdale, I totally agree with you on the meat products. Over the past couple of years I have shifted all my meat purchases to local growers - I'm lucky to have a good variety of folks around here raising beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc. It costs a bit more, but I'd say it costs what it ought to.

At a New Year's Day party I was lucky enough to have some slow-smoked wild boar, and deep-fried wild turkey chunks - talk about the real thing!

Once in a while I have to cook up some industrial meat, and it's just incredibly bad.

Best hopes for local meat!

sgage -- So far we're lucky still getting good beef and chicken from the local Kogers but we have learned to cook/freeze it fast. Though I did loose the blood lust some time ago I'm ready to start taking game again. I'd be out there now going for pig,rabbit and turkey if I weren't recovering from double knee surgery. We're still over run with feral pigs along the Tx coast. But come fall I'll be ready. Be getting that new freezer in a month so stocking won't be a problem.

I have my own medical issues slowing me down so I know what you mean. But I am thinking about taking up the 30-30 next deer season. Every year I put a few rounds through the ol' Winchester, just to keep her sighted in, just in case.

BTW, the wild meat that I enjoyed recently was not bagged by me - I just have really good friends! We're working on that "community" thing...

sgage -- That's exactly what I plan: gonna put a dot sight on my 30-30 and shoot that light Remington load. Should be perfect for those pigs. And that community thing has been gone on for a while in S Tx: someone hunts...someone freezes...someone makes sausage...etc. Suspect that will become more widespread if times start getting truly bad.

I took my Jeep to a certified dealer. He had three employees in the shop bay area. One was supposed to put new carrier and pinion bearings in my jeep. Price quoted was $350. When I paid the bill is was almost $800 and he did NOT replace the pinion bearings. I had already brought all parts and handed them to him.

Later I noticed he had mangled my left rear oil seal and all my fluid was draining out slowly when I drove. They refused to make good on it.

Airdale - What ever happened to small claims court? Me...I would hand deliver the suit personally.


I really hate legal entanglements.

So when spring arrives I will do the work myself. My farmer friend has a complete repair shop. It was winter and I had no time to do aught else but take it to the dealer.

They IMO are now out for blood and he debbil take the hindmost.

I also have to pull the transaxle and repair it as well. For this I do have a spare transaxle for parts. All the shop manuals I got long ago.

Its just that I am aging a bit faster than I desired and it takes me longer to do the job. Replaced cam tensioners in my HD Lowrider and I took a full 3 months, mostly running parts, but I surely enjoyed the results and zero labor costs.


'small claims court'...?

If I were airdale I would just go and beat the crap out of him. I'm not normally a violent bloke, but when someone skins me I will have a pop. Call it rough justice.

HAcland - It's fortunate that you get to learn this on TOD:

This is no longer the wild, wild west. If you strike someone in America, for whatever provocation, you're going to jail...


Hi Airdale -

I wonder if, with your observations of the state of retail businesses near you, this is the start of what some on TOD were predicting - large scale closing of retailers after the New Year.

Have their been any definitive holiday season retail sales reports issued yet - probably not since they'll likely need a lot more time to massage the numbers...


GM will have to delay bringing the Volt into production for at least another year, maybe more.

That makes little sense. BTW, they are starting battery production this week.

Yes, I went way out on a limb on that one. Still, it IS GM we are talking about here. . .

Yes, but we are not talking about whether it will be successful or how many they will produce. If the CEO wants to keep his job ... it will be launched this year.

Yes, that certainly might happen. . . and it also might happen that they will greatly regret NOT delaying it for a year!

About 45mbpd extra oil capacity required in 20 years to meet rising global demand

Wow, this is major stuff coming from the IEA.

He estimated that about half the 45 million bpd will have to come from oil fields that have not yet been developed and the other half from fields that have not yet been discovered. "On the basis of this analysis, we estimate that conventional oil supply could reach a peak around 2020 if we do not discover new oil basins between now and then. But when discussing the peak oil issue, it is not at all enough to study only the prospects for supply."

They are finally admitting that peak oil by 2020 is a distinct possibility. They are of course expecting OPEC to come to the rescue with their huge paper reserves.

Citing forecasts by IEA, dubbed the 450 scenario, he projected world oil demand to increase from around 85 million bpd at present to 89 million bpd in 2030.

The last I heard from the IEA they were forecasting 105 Mb/day by 2030, now it's only 89 Mb/day -- a puny amount considering whats happening with China's comsumption. I wonder if this new estimate has anything to do with "information leak" late last year?

Or in other words:

He estimated that about half the 45 million bpd will have to come from oil fields that have not yet been developed we cannot afford to develop and the other half from fields that have not yet been discovered do not exist.

There, that's closer to reality.

There seems to be a growing disconnect between what the IEA puts in its report vs. what it says off-the-cuff. They really should be nailed to the wall for this double-speak.

What? All Ye of little faith who do not believe...

"That study found there was an average rate of decline of 6.7 per cent a year at most mature fields. We then explained that, even if world oil demand remained flat between now and 2030, one would need to add 45 million bpd to existing production capacity to replace the decline at existing fields, which is equivalent to around four times the production capacity of Saudi Arabia.

Not a problem at all! Why? Because... Drum Roll Please...

The bulk of the increase is expected to come from Saudi Arabia and other members of the 12-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) as other supply sources have nearly reached their peak, Fatih Birol, IEA's Chief Economist, told the Paris-based Arab Oil and Gas magazine.


or in other words,

Michael Jackson is gone, but the Moonwalk continues!

Marcel Marceau would be so proud.

In 2004 they projected 121 mb/d. In 2006 they reduced it to 116 mb/d. In 2008 it was 105 mb/d. I don't know where the 89 mb/d comes from. Either a misprint or acknowledgement that the party goers have gone home.

I think the "450 scenario" is a scenario in which the world joins hands together to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to cap carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million.

In other words ... it's a fantasy scenario in which we're not producing oil outright.

Heard something on the radio this morning that gas prices will most likely climb around 15% by this weekend.

Anyone else know anything about this?

Iggy - In Spokane, gas at my favorite discounter rose .14/gal within 24 hrs. Current is $2.54/gal. - expecting this to rise more over the next few days. Hang on for the ride.

$2.99/gal at Rotten Robbie in Sonoma County, CA. Up $.09 this week.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 1, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.8 million barrels per day during the week ending January 1, 87 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 79.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.4 million barrels per day last week, up 328 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.0 million barrels per day, 1.5 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 784 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 289 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 327.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels, but are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 3.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.3 million barrels last week, but are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Yet the price of crude breaks $83...where is the logic these days?

Normally, we would have expected the media to hype up the fact that oil supplies have hit record highs at the Cushing, OK futures delivery point. In fact they have hardly mentioned this at all, and focused on winter heating demand.

But perhaps the record high inventories are telling us something - but not that the market is oversupplied but there is a great expectation of rising prices in 2010. Due to recent changes in federal laws and Congressional threats, taking physical delivery may be becoming the preferred way to speculate on the price of oil. We discussed this at great length in regards to the tankers market and offshore VLCC storage demand.

Ironically by forcing speculators off the exchanges, the physical market has become more destabilized and subject to unexpected shortages - as oil held for speculation really isn't available to be refined.

Of course, the driving force behind speculation is the wildly expansionary Federal Reserve (as well as ECB, IMF, and China) monetary policy. Today we explicitly heard from the Fed that they are increasing the amount of expected monetization (that is mainly buying mortgage pools by issuing new money).

Price inflation is coming whether or not wages rise, whether or not the money supply rises, and whether or not we have more major bankruptcies in the US.

Link up top: Peak Oil Believers Wonder Why Every Government Ignores Them, Conclude It's Due To A Giant Cover Up

No they do not! Sure some do but the vast majority do not. There are literally thousands of peak oil believers, perhaps a couple of million. To ascribe a single belief, other than peak oil, to them is just stupid.

In replies to peak oil blogs, some quoting CERA or Michael C. Lynch's missed predictions, they point out how far this or that peak oiler missed their predictions as well. Well hell, with a couple of million peak oilers making predictions what does one expect?

Anyway I do not believe there is any kind of government cover up of peak oil. I believe the EIA really believes the crap they predict just as CERA and Lynch does. The government is nothing but a reflection of the voting public. To ascribe some super intelligence to them is just silly.

It may be true that some at the EIA do not want any panic over peak oil. But by and large that is because they do not believe there is any reason to panic.

Anyway that's my rant for today.

Ron P.

Heck, I'd go one step further and say that even those who "believe in peak oil" don't even agree on what "peak oil" means. Different categories of "oil", supply vs. demand-induced peak (we're talking production, not production capacity, after all), a production peak vs. the impacts of a supply-induced production peak, etc. One could come up with quite a matrix of opinions, if one had the time to burn. (And no, I don't have the time, but I've thought of doing a taxonomy of peakers for a while...)

... don't even agree on what "peak oil" means

Maybe we need the US Supreme Court to provide us with a definition?

For example:

Peak Oil, hard to define, but I know it when I see it, not (the oil that is).

Anyway I do not believe there is any kind of government cover up of peak oil. I believe the EIA really believes the crap they predict...


The powers-that-be accept OPEC reserve estimates and EIA forecasts.


We went into Iraq to promote democracy.

We developed tar sand deposits because... well... just because.

We're gonna drill 35,000 foot wells in the ocean floor to prove we don't care.

Seems to me that if the IEA was pressured by the US to underplay the decline of oil someone in the US knows. How could it be that the EIA believes the crap they site while the US is pressuring the IEA to deliberately underplay the looming shortage?

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.

Meet your new neighbors, the Squatters

St. Paul prides itself on having the area's best vacant-buildings management program. But it can't come close to tracking the actual inventory of empty dwellings, said Steve Magner, the city's vacant-building manager. "My perception from being out in the field is that there are at least half again as many properties unoccupied as we have on our list and maybe more," Magner said. "I can almost guarantee you that there are at least 1,000 homes available to squat in."

In one case, Singerhouse said, an entrepreneurial resident of a foreclosed six-unit building began to collect and pocket rent from other tenants after the landlord left.

Recession fuels shift from private to public schools

Most years, public schools rarely see more than a few new students as families come and go. Last fall at Thomas Johnson Elementary-Middle School in Baltimore, 60 new students showed up — about half of those from private schools, including a nearby Catholic school that closed in the spring because of dwindling enrollment.

an entrepreneurial resident of a foreclosed six-unit building began to collect and pocket rent from other tenants after the landlord left.

And if they are in turn keeping the place kept up and paying the water/trash/electric bills/taxes - I'd say good on 'em.

I'm looking into getting my state to allow towns to seize vacant houses by eminent domain and rent them out.

Another UK gas storage site drops below two days supply and is removed from available capacity. Compensating for this is increased supplies via other routes and the fact that the UK's coal-fired power stations are running flat out and are once again supplying more power to the grid than gas fired stations (43% coal, 39% gas last 24 hours).

However estimated UK Natural Gas Demand tomorrow 459.7 mcm. That's just 1.5 mcm below the Alert trigger. Fingers crossed again.

Review of GBA Trigger Level

05 January 2010

Following a review of Non Storage Supplies so far this winter, the assumptions in the GBA Trigger level calculation have been reviewed. This has resulted in an increase in the assumed level from non storage supplies of 20 mcm.

In addition, another storage site has reached a level where it has less than 2 days withdrawal remaining at max deliverability rates and has therefore been removed from the GBA Trigger calculation.

The GBA Trigger level now stands at 461mcm. All aspects of this remain under review.

Strangely SRS reported storage increased a bit over-night but I suspect a possible data correction rather than a physical increase unless there's been some new capability added since last year.

Hi Undertow, do you have a link to the site that says how much electricity is being produced by each energy source in real time, I've lost my link to it. Clearly yesterday LRS and SRS were full out (and then some) for the whole 24 hours, SRS is down 30% in just three days, they can't keep that up or we'll lose ~27% of flow rate from storage.

http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm has that (scroll down to "Generation by Fuel Type") and virtually every other stat you might want to know.

Yep, that's the one , thanks. Government policy is to have 7000 or so of the world's largest windmills out in the North Sea by 2020 or so - if we had them today I wonder how we would cope tomorrow, typical ... a very cold winter's day as winds go light!

And I see UK wind generation is estimated for tomorrow at 85MW peak out of 1588MW capacity. That's a whopping 5% of capacity maximum.

Yet if you'd had the wind available, say a week ago, you coulda burned less NG for pwoer then, and saved it. The combination of NG with storage, and wind can be made to work.

UK National Grid - Issued tonight 06 Jan 2009 18:45

18:45 :GENERAL NOTIFICATION OF National Grid INVOKED NTS INTERRUPTION. NTS sites affected: yes. Gasday: 06/01/2010. Start time: 00.00 hrs. Affected shippers will be advised of details shortly.

This sounds like the GBA without the fanfare. According to their notes:

Capacity Constraints

If National Grid expects that the gas demand in any part of the National Transmission System will exceed the available capacity, it will instruct shippers supplying gas to interrupt some, or all, of their interruptible NTS and LDZ customers to ensure there is sufficient capacity to deliver gas to firm consumers. National Transmission system interruption is generally invoked over a wide area.

This sounds like they are asking any interruptible-contract user to stop using gas. Is this a fair summary?

Had just spotted that myself. I don't think this is asking customers to use less gas - this is telling them they are not getting any. The risk was there as was shown on the "Likelihood to Interrrupt" display which currently says

 Likelihood to Interrupt   for 07/01/2010
LDZ 	        NSL 	Non NSL
Scotland 	High 	Low
Northern 	High 	Low
NorthWest 	High 	High
NorthEast 	High 	Low
EastMidlands 	High 	High
WestMidlands 	Low 	Low
WalesNorth 	Low 	Low
WalesSouth 	Low 	Low
Eastern 	High 	High
North Thames 	Low 	Low
SouthEast 	Low 	Low
Southern 	Low 	Low
SouthWest 	High 	Low

Wonder who's going to get cut off and if we'll lose any gas fired power stations? That would not be a good thing.

Wonder who's going to get cut off and if we'll lose any gas fired power stations? That would not be a good thing.

Hmmm ... not so sure. As I see it the easy way (for now) to cut demand is to limit the gas to just a few power stations and have rolling power cuts, it switches off domestic gas heating controls for the duration of the power cut in the areas of the gas grid at limit. That is what I have invested to counter, any way.

I certainly agree it's a good way to cut demand as you say but not good for those plunged into the dark and certainly not good for Gordon Brown. I wonder if the immediate dire UK energy situation is the reason why suddenly today some politicians in the Labour Party are trying to remove Gordon Brown as leader again?

Undertow - RE Gordon Brown, IMHO this is a stunt at the start of the campaign to clear the air and show the people that Gordon is well liked and respected within his own party. Hewitt is resigning and will undoubtly end up in the Lords and Hoon is just a plonker who has probably lined up a lucrative non-exec with an armaments company. What have they got to lose? This is just a cheap play to make us all believe that Brown is half-competent.

Haven't decided myself yet. Between Cameron and Ukip. Depends if Cameron does enough to win me back between now and polling day. He really pissed me off with his BS over Lisbon.

According to the Telegraph industrial consumers will be cut first.

We are exporting >2GW of electrical power to France and Ireland at present so I doubt that rolling blackouts are likely in the next day or two.

Yes, cutting off homes is a disaster as each home needs to be visited before gas supply is restored. Domestic gas supplies will be the last things to be cut. Notice though that we are not exporting any power to France during UK Peak Demand times and that's the most likely time rolling blackouts would be a worry if any capacity is lost.

I wonder what happens in France at the times of day when we have no spare capacity?


I wonder if they have Hydro Pumped Storage which they can drain when UK supply not available?

I did notice that France had some rolling blackouts in the south of the country before Christmas. Haven't seen any recent news.

Some items linked on Drudge:

Army rescues 1,000 drivers stranded in cars for 12 HOURS as UK is paralysed by heavy snow (with more on its way)

More photos here (including one showing bare shelves in a grocery store):


The truck on the left is spreading grit and salt. The next county to me, Suffolk, has started to run out of grit to spread on the roads this evening! Sure wish I was back in up-state New York, things just keep working there with this amount of snow.

Long, cold walk home:

Drudge is getting carried away. Links include:
"Winter Could Be Worst in 25 Years for USA...
Britain's big snow shuts cities...
Elderly burn books for warmth?
Army drafted to rescue 1,000 snow stranded motorists...
Vermont sets 'all-time record for one snowstorm'...
Iowa temps 'a solid 30 degrees below normal'...
Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years...
3 die in fire at Detroit home; power was cut...
Midwest Sees Near-Record Lows, Snow By The Foot...
Miami shivers from coldest weather in decade; Florida Gov Signs Emergency Order ...
Cold snap spurs power rationing in China..."

All these stories seem to emphasize the northern half of the planet. Someone should clue Matt in that there is, indeed, a southern hemisphere.

West Australia fires raze dozens of homes
Hundreds flee Australia flooding
S. African Dairy Area Threatened by Worst Drought in 130 Years
Namibia's landmark trees dying from climate change
Honduras declares state of emergency amid drought

Honduras is in the southern hemisphere? Did someone move the equator while I wasn't looking :-)?

I stop by drudge once a day just to check out the slop in the wacko's trough. a good bell wether (pun)

While all these things have been going on - in particular the cold in the continental US - Alaska and Northern Canada have been basking in relative warmth. Look here for the best illustration I can find. This is ten day forecast, and the warmth up there is waning, but I've been watching it for a month, and it's been astounding to see the entire northern swath of the continent, several hundred miles deep, consistently 10 or more degrees C above normal. (Scroll down to the 3rd image on the site for the anomaly) This NASA site shows anomalies over various recent periods, but is only up through Nov at the moment. The point is that one region or country is not the globe. When looking at the cold in the midwest and south over the past month, and the warmth in the far north, it cemented my preference for the terms climate change or climate chaos...

This is just BAU in a New Hampshire winter. Heck, I can see pavement in the lanes in that picture - what's the problem?! My band played a gig last Saturday night - I drove home in a blizzard. No problem - got 4-wheel drive on the ol' pickup, and (more importantly!) nobody on the road at 2 in the morning. Just go slow.

Us Midwesterners here in Kansas City are not quite used to "typical" northern winters. We are have another big snowstorm tonight and temps have not gone above 25 degress since Xmas Eve. I has been the toughest start to winter I can remember in 45 years.

From a climatological point of view, winter started on 1 December. Years ago, I looked at weather data for one location in Kansas. On average, the coldest time of the year was the middle of January. We are only a week away from the coldest! Chin up!

E. Swanson

I has been the toughest start to winter I can remember in 45 years.

Winters get tougher the more expensive the heating is. That and the older you are making the shoveling 'harder'.

It used to be the Great Lakes froze over along with rivers. I still don't hear of the local river being froze over, nor the ability to walk across the great lakes.

Could that be due to icebreakers?

The Hudson River used to freeze solid in winter. People who couldn't afford the bridge tolls would wait until winter and drive their cars across the ice. But that never happens now, because icebreakers keep the river clear.

On the Hudson, sure, but in the same neck of the woods, there are no icebreakers on Lake George. Records going back to 1908 (click on Weather History, then Gen'l Info for the full record PDF) show that the lake failed to freeze over in 1918-19, then not again until '90-'91. Since then, it's failed to freeze in '94-'95, '96-'97, '97-'98, '98-'99, '00-'01, and '01-'02, when the on-line record stops. Anyone see a trend? And, yes, there are individual dock aerators around the southern basin, but that's not keeping the whole lake from freezing. My brother used to race cars on the ice in the '60's-'70's. The big highway dept. trucks used to plow the tracks. They stopped doing that 25 years ago, because the ice was no longer thick enough.

I wondered if anyone had read this article: 2010 Food Crisis for Dummies (sorry if this was discussed and I missed it). He certainly takes the bit and runs with it, but what about the basic premise of a pending food shortage?

Note that I don't actually consider soy to be food, so since this is his main example I'm not sure what to make of it!

Someone posted it yesterday. I did not find the cash price above the future price. In fact there was the normal ~ +$1 per month storage and interest shown in the futures through June.

I see crude jumped to ~ $83 in an hour today. ??? I went to the 24 hour news and didn't hear any reason other than cold weather.

Soybeans are definitely food. In fact good high protein food. (per wiki "Soybeans are considered by many agencies to be a source of complete protein." and "The gold standard for measuring protein quality, since 1990, is the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and by this criterion soy protein is the nutritional equivalent of meat, eggs, and casein for human growth and health. Soybean protein isolate has a biological value of 74, whole soybeans 96, soybean milk 91, and eggs 97.") I have grown them at home, would still but the deer like them better than anything else I grow. However as far as commercial food their uses are many - but in this country they are probably most used for livestock food.

see link below for the many food uses of soybeans

Most of modern Soy bean production goes to feed livestock and the trade has enabled the rapid rise in global meat eating. 43% of US soybeans and soy product are exported, mostly for livestock. The EU imports a very large 80% of non-cereal primary protein required for animal feed, e.g. soybeans. Soy production for export from the tropics increased from 1979 because selections of nitrogen-fixing bacteria had been optimized for tropical growing. In the 1980s there were reputed more pigs than people in Holland; most of the protein input coming at that time from Thailand after the Thai had cut down enough trees. Brazil is now a leading exporter of Soy and has engaged in long term contracts with China. The majority primary protein (cereals + Soy) going into the feed is lost in the conversion to animal meat. When I was a child in WWII England we had a very restricted meat ration and pig and chicken production was reduced to a minimum and pigs were used to recycle waste human food.

You mean you have never eaten Tofu ?

Note that I don't actually consider soy to be food

I would say that eating tofu only reinforces his observation.

No, I have never eaten tofu, nor would I. Soy cannot be digested by humans without major chemical processing, which is why our grandparents never ate it.

I am presently trying very hard to eat only things that have been considered food for a long time, which is well nigh impossible but I do the best I can. I have a bad reaction to MSG, and due to various health issues among family members over the years I've had to learn quite a lot about what our modern diet consists of, how rapidly it is changing, and how terrible some of this stuff is for you.

We are in essence conducting a massive experiment by adding things to our diets that have never been there before, and I do not want to participate. In many cases we have no idea what that stuff will do, and in other cases we know damn well and are hiding it. This is all part of process whereby a very small percentage of the population grows the food for all the rest using industrial farming and long distance transportation, and any kind of oversight has long ago been corrupted.

Other than the fact that some are allergic to it, soy is probably not the worst of it, but then again I see no point in eating it either. Sorry for the soap box!

Anyway, is there anything to the idea that we may face massive food shortages next year due to the USDA cooking the production figures for 2009?

I have never eaten tofu, nor would I. Soy cannot be digested by humans without major chemical processing, which is why our grandparents never ate it.

from Wikipedia

tofu was invented in northern China around 164 BC by Lord Liu An, a Han Dynasty prince...

I'm not wild about tofu, but I love edamame.

Leanan - do you guys in America get Quorn? It is a sort of fungus / bacteria composite stodge which is processed into 'burgers' and 'nuggets' etc. Marketted to trendy middle-class hippy-wannabes who are going through a vegan phase. Typical marketting crud. Usually eaten by thin blonde wives of investment bankers or PR execs; the sort of vacous women who marry for their husbands credit card and then spend their lives in hypocratic bliss arranging 'fair trade' coffee mornings served by their imported Filipino maid who is paid less than minimum wage...

God, I'm on a roll tonight....

Marketted to trendy middle-class

Developed because the idea was there wasn't going to be a whole lotta protein per the club of rome simulation in the future.

God, I'm on a roll tonight....

Or you are drunk posting.

True story:

Graduate student, communal refrigerator in lounge. Puts ice cream in freezer, someone else helps themselves to it.

Graduate student places next carton of ice cream in brown bag, writes on it with magic marker, in big letters: "TOFU"

Enjoys ice cream.

Soy cannot be digested by humans without major chemical processing, which is why our grandparents never ate it.

And yet Soy is one of the ancient grains of China. Along with rice, millet, wheat and barley.

So someone's grandparents ate it. And enough to make it part of the 5 sacered grains.

As for 'major' processing - removing the outside skin is physical. Exposing to bacteria to make natto isn't major in my book. And, if you make it into natto - less people will want to eat it.

OK, I stand corrected on soy. You eat it. Though I think Henry Ford made better use of soy for plastic and fuel.

I'm still more interested in the veracity of the main point of the article regarding food shortages.

Though I think Henry Ford made better use of soy for plastic and fuel.

You should look at natto and its claimed benefits. In theory you could natto-ize other beans....

I'm still more interested in the veracity of the main point of the article regarding food shortages.

Plenty of data points that way. Said link has been on a couple of other sites. But look at their claims. Are the claims not true? If the claims are correct then its a matter of just deciding - is there slack in the system to cover the shortfalls. (Mental note to self: Plant more millet.)

The Bible had injuctions to keep a 7 year grain storage to get ya thru the lean times. And the US used to have a 7 year grain plan. That is not the case anymore. Worldwide grain on hand has dropped over the years and if one belives the Sun's energy output is dropping due to a lack of sunspots and the collapse of the solar wind bubble then there will be a production problem. If one thinks the world is gonna get warmer and the rainfall patterns will change then there will be less food overall. Add in the wheat rust that seems to be heading to China (thus taking out 2 or 3 of the classic grains) or a release of any of the claimed crop viruses/fungi the bioweapon labs are charged with having....there is plenty to worry about WRT a food shortage.

Thus if the only choices are Soybeans or starve - I'm betting you'll come to like soy. The classic poverty food is lentils - fast cooking (lower energy) and low cost protein. You might want to start working with them if you don't like soy.

The classic poverty food is lentils - fast cooking (lower energy) and low cost protein.

Yep lentils are great, quick cook which saves fuel and great taste. I let Lambquarters (nothing to do with lambs) grow in our garden as they are also a great veggie. They make a really good dish cooked with lentils http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/surprising-lambs-quarters/ similar to spinach when cooked but seemingly impervious to bugs, hardy and not in need of irrigation. You can eat the seed too - Napoleon's soldiers made bread from it when they had nothing else http://dragonflysmusings.blogspot.com/2009/05/wilderness-survival-and-co...

I also let chickweed grow in our garden which is a great winter green here in AL for our chickens and us. - Having a no till garden allows these "weeds" that I grow seed and come up when I move mulch to put in plants.

Most of the soy usage in China historically has involved fermentation. This breaks down the various hormone and protein mimics in the soy that are detrimental to human health. Funny how the discussion comes down to who ate it and when. Who gives a damn. The real issue is that humans are not adapted to process various grains including wheat. It may not kill you but that does not make it 100% OK. Arthritis started to become a major affliction only after humans settled down and started consuming grains from farming (wheat proteins induced pro-inflammatory prostoglandin formation). As a species we are adapted to the hunter-gatherer food profile. (And to preempt the silly claim that humans didn't live past their thirties before agriculture there is simply no evidence for this. Such a lifespan was more typical of "developing" Europe and when the European cess pool spread its diseases to the new world wiping out the indigenous population thus giving rise to the myth).

Your grandparents never ate it but lots of people's great great great grandparents did. BTW cow's milk is still not tolerated by people who don't have the genes for it - developing tolerance for it was part of our adaption to domestic animals. However early herders got around that by making yogurt, which is made more digestible by a chemical transformation using bacteria.

Soy milk is made by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water per wiki and tofu is made by coagulating soy milk - although this can be done with man made chemicals like milk cheese it can be done with natural chemicals.

Its all chemicals tho. You are in fact all chemicals.

MSG is not used in making tofu although it might be in some soy sauce used to flavor tofu. The soy sauce I buy doesn't have it in it. I think I am allergic to MSG but not sure. I have only had a reaction at Taco Bell and with Barbecue never at a Chinese restaurant (I think they got burned and stopped using it) but it could be some other flavoring.

Since tofu originated in Ancient China it is hardly something new we are experimenting with.

However tofu bought in the store may have all sorts of bad things starting with the GM soybeans. But so does pretty much everything else in the stores today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu

I think the story about massive shortages is worth looking at, and I have searched and found for and against stuff. The other poster who commented doesn't think so based on prices. If it is right we will know soon.

If you think you may be allergic to MSG, you should be aware that MSG is in the vast majority of our food, and ever more every year. The food industry is allowed to make up all manner of names for MSG to make it sound "natural". People don't want MSG, so they start with something natural, process it until it becomes MSG, and then name it after the thing they started with so it sounds innocuous. This is called a conspiracy - those involved in the the manufacture of food, and the food industry regulators, all understand what is being done. Essentially MSG stimulates (and overstimulates) neurons, which makes you think food tastes good. It also causes damage to the cells and the stimulation causes other problems. It's kind of like taking a drug when you eat so that you enjoy the experience more. But it makes bland food seem tasty and gets you to eat more, and that's good for profits, so it's all good.

There is a lot of info on MSG and other names for it on the web - here is one site with a listing: Hidden Names for MSG. Finding food without it is frustrating, especially snacking at work or going out, and often you must compromise and accept other things you don't want either - but in the end you generally eat much healthier.

Went through a bout of atrial fibrillation brought on by a natural chemical exposure 5 years ago. Made me extremely sensitive to MSG . Had an attack of fibrillation every time I accidently ate it. Unbelievable how many foods it is in. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, gelatin, yeast extract, artificial flavoring, the list goes on and on. I would react to the gelatin on a vitamin capsule. Finally determined the chemical causing the problem and was able to fix the sensitivity by avoiding it for a year. I still avoid MSG as much as I can. It is really difficult You would not believe the tonnage of this stuff consumed in the US each year.

Heck, I reacted to the gelatin caps used on Benedryl that I took to counter the reaction I was having to other MSG - talk about positive feedback! Took me a bit to figure that out. It really pisses me off because I would have no trouble eating the basic food, I just cannot tolerate the poison they put on it gratuitously.

Well I get full body hives with barbecue and got lip swelling a few times at Taco Bell but nothing else. May not be MSG or may be the quantity. As long as I avoid those foods I am fine. Anyone know of anything else that restaurants might put in BBQ that might be allergenic? Maybe it is the pork. I don't eat pork anymore because we don't buy meat in the store and don't raise pigs and I don't really want to buy some pork chops to see if that is the cause. Maybe some antibiotic or hormone used for pork raising. Who knows, I do know what to do to not get the hives, resist BBQ

Soy is one of the best vegetable protein sources. It has been cultivated in China for 5000 years. So, yes you can eat it.

Industrial processing of any food can cause problems - wheat, rice or soy. We have stopped eating soy for that reason (and avoid most industrially processed food) - but we do eat tofy in Thai and other restaurants.

BTW, soy oil is also used by a lot of people as a vegetable oil.

.....It seems the peak oil disaster boat is sinking.
It never ceases to amaze me...Infinite oil...maybe space oil on asteroids...where is Bruce Willis?

....and when it gets to the point that it takes 1 barrel of oil to run the machines used to get 1 barrel of oil back we can just sit around them and stay warm until they stop(?)or we could also starve to death. Maybe both - looks likely.

Is there a graph of eroei for the oil patch we can send this writer? I don't think it will help. We humans haven't mentally evolved since we used to burn witches and thought the earth was flat.

I only hope the writer is young enough and lives long enough to witness the future he/she so openly mocks and what should be so obvious.

WT - us finite earth types - UFET's

Witches - the next renewable resource.

How many BTUs per pound?

Lets start with Sarah Palin :)

How many BTUs per pound?



According to B&L President Steve Looker, who designed the Phoenix II, the average body gives off a modest 1,000 Btu per pound of meat (burning wood, by comparison, gives off 6,000 Btu).[4] But an extremely obese corpse - like the one Rapp recently had to burn in its casket because it was wedged in so tightly - can run to 17,000 Btu. "That's like burning kerosene," says Looker. The Phoenix II takes these differences into account and carefully regulates the amount of oxygen entering the retort to ensure a controlled, efficient burn.

Make sure your witches are nice and plump if you're planning to use them as a source of fuel.

Make sure your witches are nice and plump if you're planning to use them as a source of fuel.

That got me morbidly laughing out loud. With all the excess "plumpness" here in the USA, I guess the infamous cry of "Soylent Green is people!" could become a more suave Madison Avenue sales pitch of: "Soylent Green is America's green, renewable energy source!" ;-)

I guess that is one way of storing fossil fuels ...

Reminds me of the doctor in California who was caught, a year or two ago, selling the fat from liposuction operations for biodiesel.

It reminds me of one of the subplots of the movie "Fight Club" in which Tyler Durden makes and sells soap made out of fat from liposuction. He goes dumpster diving behind a hospital or clinic for the fat. That's just a subplot...not a spoiler. It's a weird but interesting little movie and two of the characters have provided the avatar names for two writers on the financial website ZeroHedge.

Soylent Green is America's green, renewable energy source!"

Perhaps not as far fetched as you may think :-)


Now, it seems, a Norwegian company is close to signing an agreement with Miami, Florida's Jackson Memorial Hospital to produce biodiesel from blubber extracted during the hospital's liposuction operations (see "Fortune in Fat").

The supply of liposuction-derived fat is rather limited, however, except in the neighborhood of major medical complexes. Pondering that weighty problem, my colleague Monika (who asked that I not reveal her family name; I can't imagine why) posed the obvious question: Why use only lard from the living? The potential supply of biodiesel feedstock would be so much greater if folks would be willing to donate their body fat after they pass away, just as many now donate their organs post mortem. She suggests printing up some "Triglyceride Donor" cards ("Fat Donor" might dissuade people from carrying such a card on their person) and distributing them to people as they enter shopping malls and fast-food restaurants.

Even Hollywood might be persuaded to get into the act, perhaps by re-issuing an updated version of the classic eco-flick Soylent Green. The character played by Charlton Heston in the original film could then shout in horror, "Biodiesel ... is ... people!", just before a squadron of angry venture capitalists descends upon him.


The continuing irony is that the finite earth types are generally considered to be the nutcases, not far removed from space alien cultists.

Another kind of GM

Britain must embrace genetically modified crops and cutting-edge developments such as nanotechnology to avoid catastrophic food shortages and future climate change, the government's chief scientist will warn today.

Before I left my earlier career in 1997 I had co-written a report on genetically modified crops for our Ministry of Agriculture (a Ministry now subsumed under other headings) . I then wrote a chapter for a book on biotechnology published in 1998. I was by this stage deeply skeptical of the claims being made for biotech in relation to global food production, while it was nevertheless obvious that money was going to be made in the USA in expansion of crops such as transgenic cotton etc. Extravagant previous claims for increases in crop yields in the 1980s were nowhere in sight by 1998. I am out of date with the field but see little to indicate these claims are any nearer now, another 12 years on.
The British Royal Society (Science) has a dominant lobby in favor of this crop biotechnology, and argues for the government funding needed to underwrite any commercial funding. A number of key areas (not just biotech) are in intense competition for government funding - lobbying is the name of the game. The scope for large strategic errors (betting on outsider horses in the hope they will come home big winners) grows ever bigger.
Molecular science will have a role to play in several key areas, possibly in some types of farming, but the relevance to global problems must remain small. The large expansion round the world of biofuels and meat production has taken most of the increase in fertilizer use globally during the last decade. These trends take key resources from the staple crops needed to feed billions. Crop yields are always subject to any one of a number of potentially limiting factors, e.g. weather, less than optimal water, shortage of any of the soil nutrients, etc. Average yields even in highly controlled industrial agriculture are usually about half the record yields (that is roughly half the genetic potential).
As a footnote for UK. We have about 6 million hectares of cultivable ground (plus some unplowable grass), that is about 10 persons per hectare or about 4 persons per acre.


Whew, that's tight. Could be done, Cuban style, leaving the cultivated acreage farmed by the professionals and converting available urban spaces to food production. The general experience is that cities can produce 40% of their fruits and vegetables and a non-trivial percentage of small meat animals. Squabs on the roof, chickens in the streets, ducks in the park. Suddenly British permaculture nutcases become local stalwarts.

I hear that it's underway in some spots.

I believe that Cuba gets more sun than the UK. Also I think that Cuba has more hours of sunlight coming down almost vertically, which should make quite a difference when you are trying to grow in narrow urban spaces.

The press and the TV in the UK keep a strange silence over the case of explosives smuggled or rather planted by the Slovakian authorities inside the suitcases of innocent passengers flying to Dublin.
Strangely this has been published in countries as far apart as Spain and Uruguay! The Spanish TV says that the Slovaks apologized but the Irish government didn't accept the excuses.
Spanish newspaper

In Uruguay

This coming on top of the try by Abdulmutallab el-subnormalí in that flight to Detroit is going to feed many conspiracy theories.
At least me, I'm not going to fly anymore, the bus it is even if it is two days riding the bus, even if I have to take a fat pencil with me and draw again the line down my lower back, where the back loses its honest name.

to take a fat pencil with me and draw again the line down my lower back, where the back loses its honest name.

I can't figure out the cultural reference being made here. Can the author or any other reader clarify?

Caramba !
I faithfully translated into English, "donde la espalda pierde su honesto nombre" -> where the back loses its honest name. It is called an euphemism, the real name being forbidden in polite society.
I mean, two days riding the bus from the Mediterranean to London, one is going to get very flat, so it is necessary to draw again... Oh, the more I try to explain the joke, the worse it gets.

I would guess the reference is to what happens to your butt if you sit on it too long.

Don't wath TV, but it was definitely a "minor story on front page" on the BBC website a couple of days ago.

I have a question for TOD readers. I don't want to sound too "Mike-Rupperty" and be taken for a full-on conspiracy theorist. I just want to see if any dots connect, if there is more to the information than what I've been able to gather. Here are my strangely connected (possibly not at all) news:

  1. A kid, quite amateurish, tries to set off a small bomb in a plane headed for the US.
  2. The kid's father (an important nigerian banker) had pretty much denounced his own son's intentions.
  3. Very quickly the CIA (incompetent to stop him) finds out that the explosives come from Yemen.
  4. The US has a strong response against Yemen.

And this reminded me that Saudi Arabia (which shares its southern border with Yemen) bombed Yemen about a month ago. Apparently they are worried that the Houthi rebels can enter SA through the southern border.

Now take google maps, satellite on the border ... hum .... there's nothing but sand dunes. If I'm not mistaking it's part of "The Empty Quarter"... and there are no major oil-fields. Why would SA care so much about a bunch of rebels in that inhospitable an empty territory to use its fighter jets?

The only news I remember was a discovery last year of gas fields in a joint venture with Shell, but I don't know if it was in a completely different region of the empty quarter.

Anyway: father warns, kid makes it through security. He is Nigerian, but Yemen gets blamed and bombed for the second time in two months. Why? Could the US just have used this semi-serious incident (probably happening spontaneously) to show it's support to SA? Anything interesting on the SA-Yemeni border?

Those are my questions (and any evidence disproving any link is of course also welcome)

The propaganda is insidious even when you are looking for it - we were already engaged before the Christmas aircraft theater. Chris Floyd was on to it as usual.

EDIT - I corrected the link

Yemen and the Red Sea

Is the door of the Red Sea. It leads on to the Suez Canal.
With Yemen on one side of the door and Somalia and the friendly pirates on the other the Bad Guys can close the artery that feeds Europe, or one of them.
So, as an European I say, Bomb the lot!

Even Zapatero, the President of Spain and a famously Good Man has sent the Spanish Navy and arms the Spanish fishing fleet that are stealing, sorry, I meant fishing in Somali waters. He's also increased the soldiers fighting alongside the US in Afghanistan and spends 1 million euros a day in the war.
By the way, another cultural reference: In Spanish 'Good man' "buen hombre" is an insult.

My understanding is that the father offered a general warning that his son had extremist sentiments but did not provide any specific information about a specific threatening activity; the intelligence agencies receive large numbers of such warnings and generally can't respond unless specific information is provided (or perhaps if they receive a number of general reports from multiple sources). This seems to me a more probable situation -- as a modestly informed, casual observer of course.

@Santaluciae, "buen hombre" is not an insult at all in modern Spanish (I'm Spanish, and I think that meaning was employed in the XVI or XVII century). However, the Red Sea proximity is an interesting point.

@Hamstack, I mostly agree. I find it hard to see a group orchestrating the operation. But the US sure was quick to turn the event to its advantage finding a "new" enemy in Yemen. No proof, no investigation, but bombs.

It seems to me this is a massive exploitation of the ???? paradox (I can't remember the name). But it the one where if you have a small fraction of false positives, and a large sample size, well peoples intuition leads them to hopelessly wrong conclusions. So if we were to lower the bar (for no-fly or intrusive interrogation) so we woulda stopped this guy, how many innocent people would have been fingured as terrorists? But I guess those sorts of statements just aren't desired on the evening news. Much better to make heads roll in the security agencies, that way you can attract a better class of employee to the work.(/sarconal)

Takes on the whole ker-fluffle. Takes that don't need any 'conspiracy theory' per-say.

In short, the entire US government became a hostage to the global information network twice in the same week.


When one of the pilots tried to use the bathroom before a bomb-sniffing dog had finished checking all the carry-on bags, an officer ordered him to sit down, according to passenger Alain Ghonda, who thought it odd. "He was the pilot. If he wanted to do anything, he could've crashed the plane."


In sum, the attack generated more expense (a nice return in red ink for a relatively small effort) even though it failed.

It could be that they want to neutralize Yemen before anything happens in Iran. Get the "terrorists" before they can cause problems with Saudi infrastructure. I understand the U.S. and Britain have introduced some sort of police force which I would think are special forces. Additionally the Chinese want to build a base in Somalia to fight pirates. Perhaps we will end-up with a big base in Yemen. That would be base #701, but who's counting.

Copenhagen--The Road Not Taken


The talks broke down, evidently over the unwillingness of the developed nations to subsidize forest preservation in underdeveloped tropical countries. The price tag seemed too big for any of the delegates to bring home to their legislative bodies.

Well, there is another way. The wealthy countries of the world could all agree to impose a 300% tariff on palm oil, tropical hardwoods and beef from the tropics. According to Al Gore's book, scientists estimate that more than 40% of the excess CO2 that has accumulated in our atmosphere has come from deforestation in past centuries. Only since 1970 has the consumption of fossil fuels replaced land use as the primary source of excess CO2 emissions. Right now, we are actually subsidizing palm oil as a biofuel, even though the impact of clearing tropical forests increase emissions more than the biofuel reduces them.

In the Amazon, 80% of the land that has been deforested is now used for cattle crops. If we put up barriers to beef importation, that would mean higher prices at McDonalds and other chains. For most of us, that isn't too much of a sacrifice. Ranching in the tropics would generally be limited to what is needed for domestic use, and the pressure to clear forests would be proportionately reduced. And tropical hardwoods are a niche product, quite valuable for some uses, but replaceable with temperate zone woods grown more sustainably.

Sorry but, no, the "talks" did not break down over the forests.

"The talks" broke down years ago when it became clear that the Kyoto Protocol was insufficient for the purpose of mitigating AGW, since developing countries and the US were not participants.

The agreement at Bali was just a way to paint lipstick on a pig, by creating a second track (non-Kyoto) for negotiations.

What happened at Copenhagen was the logical result of having two disparate tracks of negotiations, with the one track that included the big boys (China, US) being the only one that survived.

If you consider a mealy worded non-binding agreement as evidence of "survived."

all made from oil. nuff sed.

2.4 Million Pounds of Plastic Pollution Enter the World’s Oceans Every Hour
January 6th, 2010


Via: Chris Jordan:

This new series looks at mass phenomena that occur on a global scale. Similarly to the first Running the Numbers series, each image portrays a specific quantity of something: the number of tuna fished from the world’s oceans every fifteen minutes, for example. But this time the statistics are global in scale, rather than specifically American.
The first few pieces below depict statistics about threats to the world’s marine ecosystems…

where's my flying car?!?!?!?!? nuff sed.

DARPA kick-starts flying car program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will this month hold its first Proposers' Day Workshop in support of a flying car program it will begin this year known as the Transformer (TX). The goal of the TX will be to build a flying vehicle that will let military personnel avoid water, difficult terrain, and road obstructions as well as IED and ambush threats by driving and flying when necessary.

Here's a link to DARPA's announcement.

The meeting is to be held on 14 January, 2010. Here's what they are looking for:

Within the TX program, DARPA seeks to: 1) Develop a robust vehicle design that maximizes military utility at a reasonable cost, 2) Identify and mature the critical enabling technologies necessary to vehicle development, and 3) Build a single prototype vehicle that demonstrates the program goals through ground and flight tests. Technologies relevant to the objectives of the TX program can be found in numerous disciplines and areas of research including: adaptive wing structures, ducted fan propulsion, lightweight composite materials, advanced flight control technology for stable transition from vertical to horizontal flight, hybrid electric drive, advanced batteries, and others.

The vehicle will be capable of driving on prepared surface and light off-road conditions, while flight functionality will require Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL).

It's supposed to be sort of like a Hummer with fans/wings or jets or ? and do the mission on a single tank of fuel. And it is supposed to be delivered at a "reasonable" cost. Do they think the price of a helicopter is reasonable for one of these Super Hummers?? What I would like to know is where these knuckle dragers got their engineering degrees, assuming they actually made it past high school. Maybe they watched a pirated pre-release copy of Avatar smuggled in from China. Maybe they heard about this new toy or the Moller Skycar. I'd bet these aren't bullet proof...

E. Swanson

Darpa are the long shot people. They expect to lose most of thier bets.

They will be satified with a spin off of any sort.

And the militarey these days is trying very hard in my estimation to create a fightig capability that gets the jib done with very few men and very few losses.

A break through weapon or machine might be a bargain at any price.

They see the price as survival.

Thier case is as good as anybodys in terms of risk assessment.

If we lose amajor war , or control of the Middle East, we are not just toast, we are charcoal.


Panasonic is charging into the green space headlong — first with deals to supply batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles — and now announcing that it will launch a massive lithium-ion storage battery capable of powering an average home for up to a week, the company says.

greetings to all my TOD buddies. remember that bloomberg posting a few weeks ago about a gallon of
gaz-o-leen to be $1.60? BAWWHAWWBAWWHAWW!!!!!!!!! yet gaz-o-leen consumption is down 8 million gallons a day as mentioned today in an earlier post. can you say supply and demand? does the consumption figures include the military? or just civilian? if a nation wastes a certain amount on military to gain some future benefit, what is the savings if any? isnt war a great way to eliminate all the excess population? shouldnt we embrace it? even though a small, miniscule amount of the total military budget could populate all roofs with solar panels, erect wind farms in every town and give everyone a hybrid auto. not to mention lots of frozen pizzas and six packs. mmmmmmm, yummy. OH! TOD buddies, do a webtube search of "ammonia+beef". wanna laff and barf at the same time? go ahead, i dare yah.

For a bit of comic relief, here's a short article from the UB Post, an English-language newspaper in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia:

Mongolia is to join the list of world petroleum explorers, and Mongolia is going to make this declaration to the rest of the world in February, 2010.

This was announced by the Petroleum Authority at a press conference last week. Presently, petroleum is being explored in Zuunbayan, Dornogobi Province and in Tamsagbulag, Dornod Province, and between 600-1000 barrels of oil is explored per day.

The national petroleum reserve will also be announced when the country officially announces its status as a petroleum explorer.


I'm considering offering them my services as a proofreader. But then, I would need to know what it is exactly that they are trying to say...

If you thought that was amusing then this should really make you laugh out loud!

"Pants make oil...social development afterburner." Liar, liar pants on fire, comes to mind, LOL!



Mongolia has potential to become a significant oil exporter. There is currently one operating oil field in the Gobi region and initial results from oil exploration in eastern and western Mongolia are very promising. The country has recently been exporting limited amounts of crude oil to China


URUMQI, September 19 (Xinhua Zhan-jun) have long to stay in people's minds the Gobi desert in Xinjiang, "barren," the impression that with China's increasing oil and gas exploration and development technologies in recent decades has been "full of the Gobi desert treasure "concept replaced. Today, these pants make an inventory of oil and gas has been, is the benefit of the people in Xinjiang, stimulating economic development in Xinjiang, China's economic and social development afterburner.

In Xinjiang, the "three plus two basins Mountain" in topography, the "two basins" (Junggar Basin, Tarim Basin) is rich in oil and gas resources. The edge of the Junggar Basin in northern Xinjiang Karamay Oil Field is the new China's first big oil field. Since reform and opening, Karamay oil into the rapid development phase. In 1981, crude oil output reached 3.84 million tons in 2002 to reach 10.1 million tons, becoming the first in western China a million tons of large fields. In 2008, Karamay oil field produced a total of 12.21 million tons of crude oil to achieve 28 consecutive years of growth but also to refresh the Daqing Oilfield has maintained a 25-year record of continuous growth.

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