Drumbeat: January 20, 2010

Kurt Cobb - Biophysical Economics: Putting Energy at the Center

Neoclassical economists have long held that industrial societies will not run out of needed resources for two reasons: 1) Rising prices for scarce resources will lead to more efficient use of them, and 2) those same rising prices will spur innovation that will end the need for the scarce resource or find a more abundant substitute. Many of the same economists have also embraced the idea that exponential growth of the world economy can go on indefinitely, in part because of the effect of prices on efficient use of resources and substitution for them.

These claims are not easily dismissed for historical reasons. History has recorded case after case of more abundant resources being substituted for increasingly scarce ones. And, human civilization has experienced almost continuous economic growth since the dawn of the industrial age.

Still, some scientists and even a few economists are concerned enough to propose an entirely different basis for economics. First, they point to the impossibility of perpetual economic growth. Since the economy is a subset of the environment, it cannot grow larger than that environment. Yes, we may learn to do things more efficiently and more intelligently over time. But at some point the physical throughput of the economy will cease to grow. We simply cannot process more material than is contained in the entire biosphere. And, the limit of what we can process is undoubtedly only a fraction of the total biosphere since human life depends on the proper functioning of many other ecosystems which must have access to resources from the biosphere as well.

Crude Oil Falls as China May Curb Credit, U.S. Supplies to Rise

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell in New York on concern China may step up efforts to curb credit growth and on a forecast stockpiles in the U.S. will increase.

Oil also pared some of yesterday’s gains as the dollar strengthened against the euro, reducing the appeal of commodities as investments. Chinese regulators asked some of the nation’s banks to limit lending after banks lent a record 9.59 trillion yuan last year and stocks surged. U.S. crude inventories probably climbed for a third week through Jan. 15, according to a Bloomberg News survey before an Energy Department report tomorrow.

Chevron's Richmond refinery likely to close - paper

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chevron Corp is likely to close its oldest refinery, in Richmond, California, in a wider restructuring of downstream operations, the local newspaper's business editor wrote in a column on Wednesday.

The major U.S. oil company halted work on a $1 billion upgrade of Richmond last July after a state judge ordered it, agreeing with environmentalists who brought a lawsuit that the refinery's environmental impact report was incomplete. The company later filed an appeal.

ConocoPhillips reorganizing trading, supply arms

HOUSTON (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the third largest U.S. oil major, is restructuring trading and supply operations to form a global organization, the company said on Wednesday.

Peak Oil Exploration Stocks

Tullow's decision this week to exercise pre-emption rights over two Heritage-controlled blocks for up to $1.5 billion, subject to Ugandan government approval, will allow it to consolidate its hold over one of Africa's most exciting new oil provinces. Independents like Tullow have benefited from the majors' recent focus on developing existing fields, downstream projects and returning cash to shareholders.

That has enabled the juniors to fill the exploration gap, making big onshore and offshore discoveries from Brazil to India. In the case of the vast Jubilee oil field offshore Ghana thought to hold 1.8 billion barrels of crude, more recent exploration suggests similar fields may exist along a 1,100-kilometer stretch of the West African coast.

Court Sides With Energy Department in Efficiency Dispute With LG Electronics

A United States district court has sided with the Energy Department’s decision to strip the Energy Star label from about 40,000 refrigerator-freezers manufactured by LG Electronics.

D.O.E. announced in December that it was taking action against LG after determining 20 of the company’s French-door models use significantly more energy than is permissible under the Energy Star program.

Speed Bumps Ahead for Electric-Vehicle Charging

Plugging in cars, even overnight, will strainlocal grids and could boost pollution.

Clean, green electric bus to debut in Toyama

TOYAMA--Hokuriku Electric Power Co. says it will introduce an electric bus on a route in Toyama on an experimental basis in mid-February.

Total emissions created by running the electric bus, including the carbon emitted at power plants to produce the required electricity, will be only one-third of that emitted by diesel buses, officials from the Toyama-based firm said.

Loser: Why the Chevy Volt Will Fizzle

Sometimes a project fails even though the technology it pioneers is destined to conquer the world. Take Babbage’s steam-era computer, Pioneer Electronics’ LaserDisc home video system, or Apple’s Newton—technically brilliant, yet business failures all.

Better yet, take General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, a car known as a plug-in hybrid because it will get most of its power from the wall socket in a garage. The Volt is bold, cool, and technically feasible. It appeals to early adopters, and it’s catnip for the automotive fan mags. To cap it off, a little creative accounting gives it the sheen of sky-high mileage, the better to offset GM’s gas-guzzlers and thus meet future fuel efficiency targets.

Solar salvation for Haiti?

Sometimes the news is terrible. Paul Munsen, president of Sun Ovens International, is struggling to get hundreds of stand-alone solar-powered ovens from the company's factory in northern Haiti to Port-au-Prince.

"Unfortunately, the people we were working with [in Port-au-Prince] are trapped in the rubble and presumed dead," Munsen told me. "Some of the infrastructure we had in place that would have been ideal for us to get the ovens into people's hands is severely damaged."

Jeff Rubin: Why the U.S. needs all the tar sands oil it can get

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Midwestern colleagues had better think twice before banning carbon-dirty fuels such as the oil made from Canadian tar sands. If they don’t like the fuel Canada has to offer, their only other choice is to get off the road entirely.

Like it or not, synthetic oil from Alberta’s tar sands is going to figure ever larger at American fuel pumps in the future (provided that it isn’t siphoned off to China by a pipeline to the west coast first).

American oil demand may be diminishing as more and more drivers take the exit lane, but available supply is shrinking even faster. Domestic production, formerly 10 million barrels per day, is already down by half. The longer the U.S. economy has run on oil, the more dependent it has become on energy imports. Only finding those imports is becoming more challenging all the time.

Controlling the Pace of Alberta Oil Sands Development

It seems that the current lull may allow the pace of oil-sands development, from an economic perspective, to be balanced with environmental concerns.

You can be sure of shale

How often it seems that time and technology make a seemingly intractable problem irrelevant.

European capitals spent much of the noughties fretting about energy security and the continent's over-reliance on Russia, especially for its gas, which Moscow used to great effect as political leverage in its dealings with European governments. Like a chess grandmaster, the Kremlin plotted two, three moves ahead of the plodding Europeans, leading to worries that the EU could end up shivering in the dark if it didn't offer the necessary obeisance to Moscow.

But now the prospect of being able to develop huge unconventional sources of gas using new technology, at the same time as gas demand is falling and the use of renewables is rising, could well render the decade-long fight for control over the huge pipelines that bring the gas to Europe from Russia and beyond ultimately meaningless.

Pakistan: Aviation fuel consumption soars 38.5pc

KARACHI - The consumption of the aviation fuel has soared by 38.5 per cent to 0.67 million tons during the 1st Half of 2010 mainly due to the ongoing military operation along the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, experts said.

A dangerous connectivity

There are a series of events unfolding, seemingly delinked from each other, but in reality connecting to form a larger picture which bodes ill for Pakistan. First, there is the Pakistan-Iran relationship which is being undermined by US pressure. For instance, when Iran has already built the gas pipeline up to the border with Pakistan, why are the Pakistanis delaying the project - and, that too, at a time when this country is in the grip of a growing gas shortage? Some argue that the price has become too high but the pricing mechanism had been agreed to and incidentally Iran is already supplying gas to Europe including Turkey and a Gulf state as well. There seems to be no logic beyond US pressure which already worked on India and led her to back out of the Iran pipeline project. But for India the pressure was feasible because the US was providing nuclear fuel and plants to help India overcome its energy deficit. In the case of Pakistan, it is simply pressure with no alternate commitments in terms of a lucrative nuclear deal. Although given how the US has yet to pay up what it owes Pakistan in terms of the Coalition Support Fund, US commitments for Pakistan have a declining credibility. So why would our leaders give up a concrete gas project for vague US promises in the conventional energy sector?

Iran in billion-euro gas deal with Germany: company chief

(TEHRAN) - Iran has signed a one-billion-euro (1.44-billion-dollar) deal with a German firm to build 100 gas turbo-compressors, an industry official said in newspapers on Wednesday.

The contract provides for the unnamed German firm to transfer the know-how to build, install and run the equipment needed to exploit and transport gas, said Iran's Gas Engineering and Development Company head, Ali Reza Gharibi.

Venezuela oil exports fall in December-govt data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Venezuelan oil exports in December fell by 51,330 barrels per day, dropping for the fifth month in a row, according to data from the OPEC nation's oil ministry sent to Reuters.

Venezuela's Oil Auction on Track

Final registration has ended for Venezuela's Carabobo oil-drilling auction, bringing the long-delayed bidding that's set for next week a crucial step closer.

The Carabobo auction is for the most-touted oil drilling project in this petroleum-rich South American nation since the 1990s, when Venezuela invited global oil majors to take part in its hydrocarbon sector under the Apertura, or "Opening" program.

Neb. Corn Board speaks out against LCFS

California’s low carbon fuels standards were given final approval by the state’s Office of Administrative Law last week and are set to have a major negative impact on Nebraska corn ethanol should the rules be rolled out as planned, according to the Nebraska Corn Board.

The Nebraska Corn Board estimates that 27 percent of Nebraska’s ethanol with a value approaching $1 billion goes directly to California’s fuel market.

U.S. says wind could power 20 percent of eastern grid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wind energy could generate 20 percent of the electricity needed by households and businesses in the eastern half of the United States by 2024, but it would require up to $90 billion in investment, according to a government report released on Wednesday.

For the 20 percent wind scenario to work, billions must be spent on installing wind towers on land and sea and about 22,000 miles of new high-tech power lines to carry the electricity to cities, according to the study from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Return to slop bucket as homes face ban on sending food waste to landfill

Householders will soon have to keep food waste in the modern equivalent of a slop bucket, the Government said yesterday.

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said that instead of being thrown away on landfill sites, food waste would be used for composting or turned into energy.

Face up to natural limits, or face a 1970s-style energy crisis

None of the various technofixes on offer alter that fact that humanity has to learn to stop living on the last drops of cheap energy, and to start living within its means

Britain has a serious problem with its energy supply. After examining this issue for a few years now I perceive that the greatest difficulty we face is not that we lack energy resources (arguably we do), or that we are becoming precariously dependent upon imported energy (which we are), or that our large demand for energy makes reforming our economy extremely difficult (as evidently it does); the most significant problem is that the political and business community cannot accept that natural systems impose physical limits upon human society.

We may be told that our present problems can be solved through measures such as 'green growth', 'low carbon energy' or 'carbon markets', but such a view ignores the growing body of evidence concerning the relationship between the way the economic system operates and the physical nature of energy and material resources that the economy relies upon.

Oil Falls on Forecasts of U.S. Supply Increase, Dollar Strength

(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell in New York before a report forecast to show U.S. crude inventories climbed for a third week, and as a stronger dollar curbed oil’s appeal for hedging inflation.

Oil pared some of yesterday’s gains on speculation China, the second-biggest oil user, may step up efforts to curb credit growth, damping energy demand. The euro fell to the lowest level in five months against the U.S. currency, making dollar-priced assets like oil appear more expensive to foreign investors.

“U.S. inventories still need to come down,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst with VTB Capital in London. “The market doesn’t have much impetus as it awaits the data, with the dollar capping gains across commodities.”

U.S. gasoline price falls from 15-month high: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After soaring to the highest level in 15 months, U.S. gasoline prices fell over the past week on cheaper crude oil costs, the Energy Department said on Tuesday.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline declined 1.2 cents during the week to $2.74 a gallon, which was still up 89 cents from a year earlier, the department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly survey of service stations.

Crude Oil to Extend Gains, $80 ‘In the Bag’: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil, which snapped a five-day decline yesterday, is set to extend gains because technical support in the mid-$70 level has proven resilient, according to National Australia Bank Ltd.

Oil’s rebound from below $77 a barrel yesterday kept intact a “constructive-looking” uptrend that started in February 2009, when prices slipped below $34, said Gordon Manning, a Sydney- based technical analyst at Australia’s fourth-largest bank. With traders taking their cues from rising stock markets, a move past $80 this week may already be “in the bag,” he said.

China depending more on imported oil

China's oil imports will continue to see solid growth this year, with more than half of the country's total oil consumption coming from abroad, industry insiders said.

It is inevitable for the country - the world's second largest oil consumer - to see a robust increase of imports, as domestic production cannot keep up with rising demand, they said.

China's oil dependency reached alarming levels last year with imports accounting for 52 percent of total consumption, China Business News reported yesterday, citing Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Importing more than 50 percent is a globally recognized level for an energy security alert.

Exxon’s Tillerson Says XTO Gas Drilling Won’t Hurt Environment

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $30 billion bid for XTO Energy Inc. will expand natural gas production in shale formations, boosting the U.S. economy without harming the environment, Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s chief executive officer, plans to tell Congress today.

The Coming Oil Conflict In Iran

Newsmakers and even the oil markets have learned to get used to tensions between the West and Iran. Last week, an Iranian physics professor linked to the country’s nuclear program was assassinated. Iran blamed Israel and the United States for the remote control bombing of the man’s car. Iran, for once, was probably right.

Foreign spies in Iran are likely trying to help make it clear to the Iranian government that Israel and the United States will not tolerate Iran’s nuclear program. The bombing forces many scientists in Iran think twice about their profession.

Next door, in neighboring Iraq, the country is accepting 100 billion in foreign investment that will update Iraq’s aging oil production capabilities, possibly allowing them to produce much more oil and become a more important player for the oil market. Some peak oil analysts now even see a risk in the idea that oil production has hit its peak due to the new investments. Others contend that cheap oil production has still hit its peak but more expensive production will continue to help meet demand.

Japan warning to China 'has domestic cause'

Domestic political uncertainty in Japan caused the country's foreign minister to threaten on Sunday that "action" would be taken against China over Chinese exploration of the Chunxiao oil and gas fields in the East China Sea, Chinese experts said.

Q&A: ‘Crossing the Energy Divide’

According to Robert Ayres and Edward Ayres, brothers and co-authors of the recently published book, “Crossing the Energy Divide,” the American economy uses energy with only 13 percent efficiency.

This means for every unit of fuel burned, only 13 percent of the potential energy is actually converted as useable output to power machines, and illuminate and heat buildings.

Most of the remaining energy is discarded, typically in the form of waste heat that, with the right application of technology, could be used for electricity generation or space and water heating.

(As just one example of the potential, two large American steel companies together generated 190 megawatts of electricity from recycled waste heat in 2005. This was more than the entire United States production of solar-photovoltaic electricity that year.)

NTPC to Spend $5.5 Billion Next Year to Cut Blackouts

(Bloomberg) -- NTPC Ltd., India’s biggest power producer, plans to spend 250 billion rupees ($5.5 billion) building generation plants next fiscal year to reduce blackouts in the nation. The stock rose.

New Delhi-based NTPC will borrow about 70 percent of the planned expenditure, which is a 39 percent increase over the estimated spending of 180 billion rupees in the year ending March 31, Chairman R.S. Sharma said in an interview. “We will contribute the equity portion from our internal accruals and the debt has all been tied up, mostly from Indian banks,” he said.

Petronet May Resume Spot LNG Imports as Demand Rises

(Bloomberg) -- Petronet LNG Ltd., India’s biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas, may resume buying the fuel from the spot market to meet increased demand in Asia’s third-biggest energy consumer.

Solar Power Advocates Hopeful for 2010

Between 500 and 600 megawatts of solar power will be built this year across the United States — about double the figure of last year — according to Larry Sherwood, who compiles and studies such data as a consultant to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, a nonprofit industry group.

He said some analysts were projecting even higher figures.

Korea Electric in Nuclear-Plant Talks With 5 Nations

(Bloomberg) -- Korea Electric Power Corp. is in discussions with at least five countries to build nuclear-power plants after winning a $20 billion order from the United Arab Emirates last month, a company official said.

“We’re in serious talks with Turkey, Jordan and Malaysia and we’ve attracted China and India’s interest,” Chung Kun Mo, a nuclear adviser to the South Korean state-run utility, said in an interview at his office in Seoul yesterday. “There are many countries knocking on our door. Even Kenya is interested.”

GS Engineering to Construct World’s Largest Tidal Power Plant

(Bloomberg) -- GS Engineering & Construction Corp. will build the world’s largest tidal power plant in South Korea, as the country boosts investments in renewal energy on environmental concerns.

Merkel’s CDU May Press for Deeper Solar-Subsidy Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union may press for deeper cuts in solar-power subsidies than previously sought by the government, the party’s energy spokesman in parliament said.

Small wind turbines slammed

Small wind turbines, such as those attached to buildings, will not help the UK meet targets to cut home and office carbon emissions, engineers have warned.

A Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report, written by Professor Doug King, said far greater cuts could be achieved in new buildings and in “retrofitting” old buildings by focusing on bringing energy use down through efficiency measures.

Japan's 'cash for clunkers' to allow U.S. cars

DETROIT — The Japanese government on Tuesday agreed to let American-branded cars participate in the government's "cash for clunkers" plan, a move that could momentarily boost U.S. makers' tiny sales there.

Is a Run on the U.S. Dollar Starting Soon?

The possible scenarios are endless and much depends on the political will of Obama and Congress as to how much control they can exert over the financiers. I am hesitant to predict total gloom and doom, though it is certainly a possibility. One thing that could trigger it would be if the U.S. can no longer buy oil from abroad. That depends also on whether “Peak Oil” really exists or not. But clearly big changes are coming. Our country has become so fragile. Most of our population is a month away from starvation when you look at the food pipeline.

Jumpstarting Energy Independence

David Goodstein, professor of physics at Caltech, in his 2004 book, Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, looked at Hubbert's research and more recent data and concluded that global demand for black gold will shortly exceed the world's ability to produce it. Goodstein also predicts that alternative energy sources - of the type DOE is funding in this latest round of grants - may be too little and too late to stave off serious disruptions to our way of life.

"Civilization as we know it will come to an end sometime in this century unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels," Goodstein cautions.

In the face of such a calamitous possibility, DOE's decision to fund innovative, early career scientists - to the tune of $150,000 a year for five years in the case of university researchers, and $500,000 a year for the same period for DOE's up-and-coming, in-house talent - is an important step in the right direction. But we need to free up more bright young thinkers to tackle other looming crises - global shortages of clean water, potential pandemics, catastrophic climate change, and disruptions and shortages in food production.

Modern Homesteading Today for Living off the Land and Self-Sufficient Living

Why bother with Self-Sufficient Living? After all, everything you need is right down the road or across your street at your local supermarket. But where has your food come from? Can you trust the source? Does it come laced with insecticides and herbicides that have been banned in your own country, but not from where your food is coming from? Is the food you are eating making you sick? Worst of all, will you know how to grow your own food when the oil runs out and you are no longer able to get your food from the local supermarket?

Birth Of Production and The End of Life

The historical contradiction of agriculture has always been how its proliferation destroys the ecological conditions which made its existence possible. As civilization has expanded, it has converted wilderness into grazing and farm land, and ultimately, barren desert. The natural world takes the form of a cycle, but civilized man has turned this cyclic process into a resource to exploit. Instead of a cycle, the nature-human relationship becomes a linear transfer of life and energy one way, and pollution and destruction the other way. “Agriculture is the birth of production... The land itself becomes an instrument of production and the planet’s species its objects.”

Unsurprisingly, this one-way conversion of life into production cannot last forever. Agriculture depletes the soil quickly, sometimes even depleting millennia old topsoil within 2 generations of farming. The inevitable decline of soil productivity has led to the mass adoption of hydrocarbon-based (natural gas) fertilizers. American capitalism (personified by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, who hoped to squelch socialist upheavals) spread this practice to the “underdeveloped” world under the term Green Revolution, along with chemical pesticides, herbicides, hybrid seeds and more recently, biotechnology. Here capitalism averted agricultural and social disaster by piggy backing agriculture onto the ever more important energy resource, fossil fuels. As industrial-capitalism further developed, it became apparent that fossil fuels were just as finite as soil fertility, and the importance of peak oil (and natural gas) stems from our food system's dependence on fossil fuel.

Play Oiligarchy and drill, baby, drill!

Oiligarchy is a fantastic Flash game anyone can play online where you're asked to take the reins of an oil company and explore, drill and invade your way across the global markets. For such a simple game, it sure packs a lot of interesting game play.

We must make major changes to help save the Earth

After the failure of our leaders in Copenhagen to achieve a binding treaty to reduce emissions, many of us are feeling a more urgent need to act.

Pat Murphy, the author of Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change, wants to take those urges and point them in the right direction. When Murphy spoke in Guelph in November, I asked what he believed was the number one thing he felt needed to be conveyed to people. His response: numeracy.

New Rule Would Bar Illegal Fishing Vessels From Ports

The United States is looking to shore up its abilities to bar vessels involved in illegal fishing from entering its ports.

Under a rule proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, its assistant administrator for fisheries would be able to deny entry to a ship that had been listed for engaging in “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing by one of the world’s eight international fishery management organizations.

Carp DNA Is Found in Lake Michigan

CHICAGO — Genetic material from the Asian carp, a voracious invasive species long feared to be nearing the Great Lakes, has been identified for the first time at a harbor within Lake Michigan, near the Illinois-Indiana border, ecologists and federal officials said Tuesday.

Fox & Friends funnels Exxon-funded NCPPR press release claiming CIA is "spying on icebergs instead of terrorists"

Attacking a CIA program providing climate data to scientists, Fox & Friends accused the Obama administration of "[s]pying on icebergs instead of terrorists" and "[t]racking climate change instead of Al-Qaeda," which echoes a press release from the conservative and ExxonMobil-funded National Center for Public Policy Research that claimed the program "diverts intelligence assets to climate research." In fact, federal officials have reportedly said that the program, which allows the scientific community to gather data from CIA equipment, "has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering."

Senate not seen passing climate bill in 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate is unlikely to pass climate change legislation this year after going through the contentious health care debate, and will focus on a separate energy bill that has more bipartisan support, a key Democratic senator said on Tuesday.

Why Hasn't Earth Warmed as Much as Expected? New Report on Climate Change Explores the Reasons

ScienceDaily — Planet Earth has warmed much less than expected during the industrial era based on current best estimates of Earth's "climate sensitivity" -- the amount of global temperature increase expected in response to a given rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). In a study to be published in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society, Stephen Schwartz, of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and colleagues examine the reasons for this discrepancy.

Bee Decline Linked To Falling Biodiversity

The decline of honeybees seen in many countries may be caused by reduced plant diversity, research suggests.

Bees fed pollen from a range of plants showed signs of having a healthier immune system than those eating pollen from a single type, scientists found.

Writing in the journal Biology Letters, the French team says that bees need a fully functional immune system in order to sterilise food for the colony.

This is as I have suspected. WNC is arguably the area with highest biodiversity in all of North America, and everything I hear from my fellow beekeepers suggests that our bees are doing pretty well here. It is the big migratory operators trucking their bees from one monoculture to another that are experiencing the real problems.

I believe that the future of beekeeping is going to be with backyard beekeepers. A biodiverse landscape, dotted with beehives, is what is healthiest - both for the bees and for us.

I believe the bee problem is mostly with "domestic" European introduced bees. The wild populations (mason bees, meat bees, etc.), seem to be doing ok. At least on the Northwest Coast.

Where is WNC? Is that Western North Carolina?

Also in WNC (Western North Carolina), about 12 years ago a beekeeper from GA placed 40 hives on our property to capitalize on our large population of Sourwoods. He shared his crop with us in exchange. After about 8 years he gave up due to his annual hive failure rate of over 40%. As WNC stated, our land is very diverse and intact Southern Appalachian property, surrounded by National Forest. I'm not sure why his failure rate was so high, but it wasn't lack of bio-diversity. Mites or disease, perhaps. During the last few growing seasons I have noticed an almost complete lack of regular honey bees, but the native species have been filling the pollination gap pretty well. I have to wonder if the commercial honey industry isn't spreading pathogens and parasites over long distances that local populations don't have time to adapt to.

He probably gave up just when things were at their worst. Most beekeepers in this area seem to be doing better now. I think that what has happened has been "survival of the fittest" in action. Those strains with the least resistance to mites have died off, leaving behind the more resistant ones. We are gradually building up more and more resistant lines. It helps that here in WNC, we have such a large concentration of small and mid-sized beekeepers that we have a sufficient market to support our own breeders. Most of us are working with localized populations rather than bringing them in from farther away, and that is probably helping.

For a long time after the die off began I spoke to the local bee keepers and visited their hives(no veils).

They said we appeared to be immune and it was happening north of us. In Illinois but not here.

Today we have no bee hives and didn't last year either. A very very very few are barely making it.

This IMO is due to the intensive agriculture now practiced in my area of WKY. Trees are rapidly disappearing. Fence rows being burned down. Logging trucks never stop rolling.

Spraying of chemicals as a result of geneticially modified corn and soybeans IMO has destroyed a huge amount of insect life and with it out bees. Even the natural pollinators spoken of above are gone.

Last spring I had a huge blossom set. I observed ONE SINGLE bumble bee. Never saw another pollinator. I had ZERO fruit set in my apples,pears and peaches. ZERO.

Others here fared the same. No fruit, big blossom set, no pollinators.

I think we are at ground zero in this regard. What has happened here will happen whereever massive chemcial products are wantonly sprayed over the countryside.

Its simple. The farmers do it for MONEY. Profits. The devil take the hindmost.

Our next crisis will IMO be ag related.

We can no longer fish. We no longer have migrating wild fowl. No ducks. No geese and we are on the Mississippi Flyway. Wildlife I think is in trouble overall.

You simply cannot remove the timberlands without destroying that which must have it to survive.

What will stop this? Total shutdown of our economy. Total or nature will 'total out'.

Part of this was induced by extremem climate change events here. A massive ice storm last winter. 6 weeks without power.

Yet this was already happening before last winter.


The bees really do need a succession of blooms spring - fall, to really do well. A strong, established hive just might be able to make enough honey and gather enough pollen during a single concentrated bloom to make through an entire year, but that is risky, and the odds are really against them. A bio-diverse landscape really does work a lot better for them. That, unfortunately, is what they are not finding in farm country these days. It didn't used to be that way so much. Farms would raise multiple crops plus livestock, plus big gardens, plus some fruit trees and a few ornamentals around the farm house. There would be a variety of trees and shrubs along the property lines and roads, and each farm would have its wood lot. That type of landscape was great for the bees. That is the type of landscape that my grandfather had when he kept bees.

I just read yesterday in the French news that under presure of beekeeper associations, the French governement was going to test seeding "mixed wild-flowers" alongside 250 km of countryside roads. They are also changing the rule on roadside maintenance, cutting the hay only once in the year instead of three times to allow more diverse flowers to bloom. If the test works, the system will be extended to 12,500 km of roadside. Also beekeeper associations have seeded 3,000 acres of unused agricultural lands with mixed wild flowers. They hope to be allowed to do that on far more unused lands (about 10% of France agricultural lands are presently unused, sometime since the 80's).

A curious observation that was reported: Beehives in cities (like Paris) are actually doing better than the one in countryside, probably because there is less pesticides and more diverses flowers.

There are a lot of beekeepers in Chicago too. Bees are doing pretty well in the city - we have two hives on the top of City Hall. They sell bottle and the honey to visitors.

I agree diversity has a lot to do with it. There are a lot of native plants that people treat as weeds, which grow on empty lots, traffic medians, next to railroad lines, in parks, that support the bee population.

Unfortunately, there are not enough flower gardens - people do like their lawns and their little conifer evergreens, and their weed killer sprays.

Problem is that pollen, which is good for bees, is bad for people with allergies. But the city is pretty good at planting diverse street trees and encouraging indigenous plants.

Interesting. I found this article on Chicago's bees. Apparently, it's part of a larger green roof program, and other city buildings also have bee hives.

Do they actually pay someone to mind the hives, or is it a volunteer program?

The guy that manages the hives at City Hall is Michael Thompson. He also runs the Chicago Honey Coop :-


I don't know if it's a paid scenario.

This guy is trying to create an infrastructure of small-scale beekeepers.

The problem is not just the monoculture diet, but lack of genetic diversity. Commercial honeybees are too inbred.

A study published by Sheppard in July revealed that breeders use only 500 select mothers annually to produce almost a million queen bees, which then get shipped out to lead commercial hives. Making matters worse, the severe loss of wild honeybees due to mite infestation virtually eliminates any chance that feral drones will mate with commercial queens and liven up the gene pool.

Let's just import some queens from Africa or Brazil! (Funny how little we hear about Africanized bees these days.)

The africanized bees are slowly making their way northward. As they do, they progressively interbreed with the non-africanized populations, resulting in more and more of a mixed gene pool - and a dillution of african traits.

This is not a completely bad thing. The africanized bees are MUCH more naturally resistant to mites. It is thought that the eventual thorough intermixture of african genes into the US gene pool, combined with the die-out of the least resistant strains, will result in a pretty robust population.

I did a high school paper on Africa killer bees in the late 1970's. Thirty years later I never would have imagined it turning out good.

Another advantage of having a landscape dotted with backyard beehives is that you'll have drone congregation areas composed of drones from lots of different hives, which will help to mix the local gene pool.

Well the facts appear to be that the 'wild -feral' bees are also disappearing.

I never see swarms anymore. I never hear of bee keepers capturing wild swarms.

Perhaps if the bees went wild they would diversify and thereby surive?

I am not sure but I see no mason bees anymore. I see almost no bumblebees either.


We still have wild swarms in the northeast. As the article describes, hobbyists are often called to remove feral bees from people's homes.

Because of the mites, most unmanaged feral colonies do not survive more than a year or two. The woods are pretty empty of them these days.

Most swarms come from beekeeper's hives. It is natural for colonies to swarm, there is no absolutely sure fire way to prevent it, just to reduce its likelihood. Most swarms will travel a mile or more from their origins, it usually is pretty difficult to tell where they came from.

Swarms are not an altogether bad thing. While mine is not a mainstream opinion, I am thinking that maybe the bees know themselves when it is best to requeen, and maybe it is for the best to let them do it themselves. Swarming is a nice way for the colony to say good-bye to the old queen. I figure that when she sees all the supercedure cells popping up, she gets the message and gets away while the getting is good.

Hard to say, but my feeling is the worst is past. Hobbyists were freaking out a couple of years ago. Their hives weren't making it through the winter, the number of wild bees seemed to be way down. Things seem to be getting back to normal these days. I know I saw a ton of bees this summer, working the local flower plantings.

Part of the secret is that you really need to make sure your bees have plenty of food through the winter, and that includes supplementing their honey stores by feeding them syrup if necessary. Because of the mites, colonies are weaker than they used to be, and need a little more help to make it through the winter. I think it took beekeepers a few years to figure that out - some still haven't.

I think the feeding strategy depends on where in the country you are - warmer or cooler climate.

I'm in Chicago - my bees are really not very active during the winter, unless we happen to have a day where the temperature is above 40 degrees and sunny, when they will take cleansing flights.

I will supplement feed honey in November until they stop taking it, then will place granular sugar on top of the inner cover, around February or March, for them to collect, if they want it, and are active enough.

I watch for the temperature climbing too fast in the very early spring, as that signals the queen to start laying, and that's when they can suddenly run out of food.

Once the temperature is fairly stable above freezing, I will start to feed them honey until flowers appear - usually the red maples are first. I have an early apricot too.

I'm not a fan of feeding sugar syrup. I avoid treatments and follow organic methods. I believe, over time, that will allow the bees to gain strength on their own. I actually had a very good year, last year.

The year before that, I lost both my hives to mite infestation. Mite populations seems to really explode in the late summer. The mites came in with a new package I hived the previous spring, which arrived late in May - usually I like to hive packages as early in April as they are available.

I only get to find out how the hives survived the winter when I peek in, in February. One or two guards are active - I can always get activity when cleaning snow away from the hive entrance.

This is as I have suspected. WNC is arguably the area with highest biodiversity in all of North America, and everything I hear from my fellow beekeepers suggests that our bees are doing pretty well here.

We have a heather plant in our backyard here in San Gabriel, California. I am happy to report it receives many visits from the local bees. Cannot tell which type they are, as not much of an expert.

We live a few hundred meters from an undeveloped storm river 'wash' that has no developments bordering it. Hopefully such pockets allow some refurge in urban environments for such critters.

"Russia says population up for first year since 1995"


ELM in progress

"Jamie Oliver reduced to tears as America's fattest city resists his latest healthy eating crusade"


"Jamie was also left flabbergasted after he asks a group of school children to identify vegetables, mistaking tomatoes for potatoes"

Ahh! I wonder if a kid actually mistook the veggies, or just misspoke. I've slipped over those two words all my life.

Does my heart good to see such an expressive and emotive Englishman. There's hope!

"I say tomato and you say tomato,
I say potato and you say potato.
Tomato, tomato, potato, potato;
Let's call the whole thing off!" - G. Gershwin

(Legend has it that someone had to audition with this song cold once, and didn't know that he was supposed to pronounce the words in 'US and then British' fashion.)

Ketchup is a vegetable. Goes with French (Freedom) Fries, another venerable vegetable.

Eat your veggies, then you can have dessert.

Just wondering but if you eat a lot of it just why is not a veggie?Seems to me most people count tomatos as veggies and it's made from tomatos.

Of course I have heard that some republican politician (democrats are incapable o saying stupid things, every body knows that) once supposedly tried to get ketchup counted as a veggie when of course it is used in small quantities as a condiment.

Does anybody know the original story?


The ketchup as a vegetable controversy or ketchupgate refers to a proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Drug Administration directive, early in the administration of Ronald Reagan, that would have reclassified ketchup and pickle relish from condiments to a vegetable, allowing public schools to cut out a serving of cooked or fresh vegetable from hot lunch program child-nutrition requirements. The White House Office of Management and Budget estimated a potential US $1 billion annual savings in the cost of subsidized meals for low-income students.

Ketchup as a Vegetable was part of a plan attributed to the Reagan Administration. Reagan's Teflon coating took a hit with that one...

E. Swanson

So with the above in mind, I guess you could count it as a vegetable, as long as you drink at least a cup of it per meal.

(With all the sugar in it, I'm sure it's food value is pretty poor.)

Technically speaking, tomatoes are fruits.

And strawberries are vegetables.

BRENDA S. PIERCE, of the USGS, testimony before the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources, March 5, 2009


Undiscovered, technically recoverable mean oil resources total 48 billion barrels of oil onshore and in State waters and 86 billion barrels of oil for the OCS…

For example, according to the 2006 MMS national assessment of the 86 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil resources in the OCS, 54 billion barrels of that is estimated to be economically recoverable at $46/barrel…

estimate that the area north of the Arctic Circle has 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil,…

These numbers can be compared to proved reserves numbers (EIA): proved U.S. petroleum reserves (for 2007) are 22 billion barrels of oil and proved world petroleum reserves are 1,317 billion barrels;…

The 22 billion barrels are “proven reserves”. In addition to that we have 86 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the OCS, 48 billion barrels of undiscovered onshore oil and 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil north of the Arctic Circle. So we have 224 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves. That is almost as much as Saudi Arabia. That the oil is still undiscovered is only a minor detail.

Drill baby drill!

Ron P.

Ron, any idea where she gets the proved world reserves figure of 1.317 bb. from?

That is pretty close to what the Oil and Gas Journal puts world proven reserves. World Proved1 Reserves of Oil and Natural Gas, Most Recent Estimates

OPEC puts world proven reserves at 1,295,085 million barrels. Of that figure they say 1,027,383 million barrels belong to OPEC. That leaves 267,702 million barrels of reserves for the rest of the world. OPEC Proven Reserves

Ron P.

It simply does not matter because these numbers are mostly pure fiction. OPEC actually has about one third the reserves they claim. Also the EIA says Canada has 178 billion barrels of reserves. Well, there may actually be that many barrels locked up in the tar sands but most of that will still be there one hundred years from now. Currently the oil sands are producing about half a billion barrels per year.

Ron P.

Darwinian -

'Undiscovered oil' ..... always a fascinating concept! Am I correct in understanding that term to roughly mean, 'we have no evidence of the oil being there but we are hopeful that it might is there in the quantity we'd like'?

To me this doesn't seem much different than talking about invisible massless unicorns that no one has ever seen and are impossible to detect but surely must exist somewhere.

Are these people practicing geology or theology?

joule...joule...joule. It's a model, of course. And, as I've previously crudely described my attitude towards exploration models: models are a lot like masturbation...it's OK as long as you don't start thinking it's the real thing.

Th(g)eologist....like that. Gonna add it to my biz card.


models are a lot like masturbation...it's OK as long as you don't start thinking it's the real thing.

Good one! I'll have to remember to tell that to someone I know who is a real model junkie.

Au contraire. Every substantial digital chip design existed as a logic model before it got fabricated in silicon. Just about every significant machined part existed as a 3D model before it went to a CNC.

Sad that this anti-modeling attitude prevails in many of the backward sciences.

perfect examples that prove the statement:

The 'logic model' didn't account for any inductive, capacitive, or resistive issues on the silicon chip. Not to mention spurious transmission, breakdown voltages, etc. etc. etc. So it was 'not the real thing'

Every 3D model of a part made on the computer to the exact measurements and 'fitted' in place does not allow for variability in methods, tooling, care of tools, materials, tolerances, etc. etc. etc. Again 'not the real thing'.

Logic synthesis does use a logic model.

CNC 3D synthesis uses a 3D model.

Of course we don't "live" inside these models so it is not exactly the "real thing", but what engineering world do you live in?

Depletion analysis uses heuristics and guesswork. That ain't a model and what I am mainly complaining about. I am working to change that.

Web -- just ran your response through my model. It said you were wrong.

But I don't beleive it. Just teasing. Not anti-model. I'm anti-stupid. I'm antipeople who take simplistic models and believe them without applying a little logic. I'm sure you agree. I've got a great example of a rather smart fellow who was using a can eco model. He missed the subtle point that his model didn't take into account depletion/decline rates (he was new to the oil patch). Took me a while to figure out how is was so wrong because his error was so silly. When I finally figured what he was doing wrong and explained it to him his response was (and I swear it's true): "The model wasn't wrong. I was just using the wrong model". Well...da!

right on!

Lets go after the unknown unknowns. We already know about the known unknowns, and we have long since used up the known knowns. We need to seek the things we don't know we don't know.

Have faith in the future!

There is also undiscovered oil on Mars and that should also be taken into the equation.

Apart from undiscovered recoverable gas/oil, there is also discovered unrecoverable gas/oil - think of Titan, the moon of Saturn. There are some hundred thousands GBs of oil equivalent out there... so don't worry about PO, space technology will save us! :P

Hm, it's too oily to tell.

....undiscovered oil reserves.

A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined.

Perhaps a bit of a no brainer (and probably already explained many times), but is (un-) proven reserve the bit that you can get out of the ground? Or is it available in the ground? If the latter, what is the average economic depletion factor? Is about 50% right?

styno -- "Proven" means what you can map as existing in the reservoir. The next step is the recovery factor: how much you can produce to the surface. There is no such thing as an average recovery (you said "depletion"). I've seen ultimate oil recoveries as low as 8% and as high as 70% of the INPLACE oil. Depends upon the nature of the reservoir. But it gets a little more complicated: I have 10 million bbls of oil in the ground. I can recover 4 million bbls over time. But there's two more categories: proved undeveloped and proved producing. A very important distinction especially when talking about plays like the shale gas reservoirs. If the reserves are being produced by existing wells then it's obvious: PROVED PRODUCING. If the reserves have been discovered by not drilled yet then that's also obvious: PROVED UNDEVELOPED. What isn't obvious is that the proved undeveloped volume will vary with prices. I may have a field I can drill and produce 4 million bbls IF oil is selling for $70/bbl. But if oil drops to $30/bbl I can't because I lose money. In this case the field would have zero proved undeveloped bbls of oil at a particular price. These reserves would be classified as PROVED NONCOMMERCIAL.

Such a situation is all the more obvious in the shale plays. I may have 1000 acres of shale gas reservoir that is capable of producing 10 bcf. And if Ng is selling for $10/mcf and it will cost me only $5/mcf to drill and produce it then I have 10 bcf of PROVED UNDEVELOPED NG. But only if NG prices are high enough. If NG drops to $4/mcf then I would have zero bcf PROVED UNDEVELOPED reserves. Now let's say I drill the wells when NG is $10/mcf. But after I drill the wells NG drops to $4/mcf. I still have 10 bcf PROVED PRODUCING reserves because it only costs me $.50/mcf to produce the wells and thus it is profitable. But though profitable to produce I'll never recover my capex at that price and will lose money. And then I can go to the bank and borrow money against those PROVED PRODUCING which are quite profitable to produce even though I lost $x million drilling the wells.

We have a huge amount of PROVED UNDEVELOPED NG in the shale gas plays. How much will be produced will depend upon costs vs. the price of NG. Thus when someone says we have X trillion of cuft of NG we can produce from the SG plays that number is completely meaningless unless they attach a price of NG to it. However much NG we can produce from these plays at $10/mcf might well be less than 20% of that amount at $5/mcf.

proved U.S. petroleum reserves (for 2007) are 22 billion barrels of oil

According to the EIA, as of the end of 2008 US proven oil reserves had declined to 19 billion barrels. Some people are relentless optimists in the face of all evidence that things are going to hell in a handbasket.

RE: Crossing the energy divide

They claim that US energy efficiency is only 13%.

According to this flowchart from Lawrence Livermore labs, in 2008 "rejected energy" was 57.01 Quads out of a total US energy use of 99.2 Quads. That equals 42% energy efficiency by my calculations.

So which is the correct number?

Suspect the difference lies in the term useful . Lawrence seems to be measuring use but not usefulness. (end use residential and commercial 80% efficient ? how do you account for the energy needed to make the machines and appliances ?) From this Ayres paper. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6225

"Efficiency is a slippery concept. On the surface it is a simple ratio between an output and an input. That is perfectly satisfactory as long as the inputs and outputs are measuring the same thing in the same way."

"A barrel of oil-equivalent (the natural-gas or coal equivalent to a barrel of oil) going into the power plant becomes, on average, one-third of a barrel of oil-equivalent (as electrical energy) arriving at the electric meter box."

"But while fluorescent lighting gets about three times the efficiency of incandescent (about 15 percent vs. the incandescent bulb's 5 percent), when multiplied by the 33 percent of the power delivered to it (.33 x .15), the total efficiency of the compact fluorescent light is just 5 percent."

They go on to say that by this metric Japan is at 20% 'useful'. Thanks for making me look into it.

Curious if anyone can shed some light on this:

A friend of mine (out of curiosity) has been calling realtors about houses in his area and has been told that "it's under contract" or something else that would indicate that the property was unavailable. Months later, the properties are still unavailable; but signs are still up. Same for houses in surrounding areas.

A talk with a town tax clerk raised the possibility that many realtors bought houses in recent tax sales (with intent to flip when "things got better") and are preferentially directing interested buyers to their own properties.

Can anyone provide any other reason why so many properties (?)are(?) defacto unavailable?

Read some of these posts and come to your own conclusions.


Hmmm... explains a lot in terms of liens that I've heard about. After reading this I don't think the housing situation will ever improve. (It might have if other things were to stay the same, but with the energy situation I don't think it ever will.)

My guess is that most of the few buyers still out there are people who HAVE to buy, due to relocation. These people usually have a house to sell, and will usually only make an offer contingent upon the sale of their old house. In a market like this, it can take months and months and months for the old house to sell. Then, sometimes the buyer of the old house makes it contingent on the sale of THEIR house. . . which in turn gets sold contingent on the sale of yet another buyer's house, etc., etc. In this market, it can get to be quite a long chain. Obviously, if one deal goes bad anywhere along the chain, everything can go bad for everyone. Even if it all eventually works out and closes, though, it can take a long time.

Nevertheless, most sellers are probably better off taking their chances with this. If the house just sits on the market for months without an offer, people assume that there must be something wrong with it. If it goes back on the market because a deal fell through, that is more understandable and does not reflect badly on the house itself.

Also, I suspect that a lot of deals are falling through because of problems getting financing. I think that some sellers have started insisting a pre-approval letter from a lender before they will sign a contract.

And to build on your point, let's assume that the owner of House A wants to sell. The buyer of House A wants to buy it, but has to sell his house (B) first. And then the buyer of House B might have to sell his house (C), and so on. And then all non-cash buyers have to get financing, so if anyone along the whole chain can't get financing, several deals might fall apart.

Home owner financing used to be pretty common -- I bought a 55-acre run down chicken farm on contract 35 years ago. It didn't qualify for conventional financing, and neither did I, but the deal worked out well for both of us.

Why do we really need these "investment" banks? They are nothing but rip-off artists and scams.

In our area banks seem to be sitting on some foreclosures, perhaps to prevent a glut of cheap listings until things get better (sure!). They can't afford to take a loss, so they "put a contract" on their own properties, keeping the assets on the books (at inflated values). They have done this at the golf course near me. They're in so deep, they don't want to sell it at the going rate, so they are keeping it open with a skeleton crew. Prices have crashed around here. These guys blew the bubble up to the max. Mostly retirement and second homes, nothing is selling. I have raw land for sale (at a cheap price) but the speculators have flooded the market with their fire sales. Still not much selling. Oh well, I may need the timber soon, anyway. Can you say "firewood"?

...it's under contract

In todays real estate environment the majority of homes on the market are short sales or foreclosures. In the case of a short sale the owner is upside down on their home meaning that their mortgage (1st, and 2nd) exceeds the value of the home. The seller must petition the mortgage company to permit a short sale. If there is a 2nd the trust deed holder on the 2nd may receive zero compensation.

Needless to say this requires a lot of negotiation and even the Realtors in the end (if they even manage to close the deal) take a haircut (known in the industry as the commissionectomy).

Some of these deals take a year or two to close. Usually the buyer walks before close of escrow...


FIL sold his house in California 18 months ago for a high price. He put in an offer for a short sale last June that was accepted (by the banks). The deal has stalled. Present owner still lives in house, not paying mortgage or doing upkeep. House has two mortgages. Primary lender could foreclose, but chooses not to do so. Meanwhile FIL is renting a nicer house for less.

Que bono from the frozen deal? 1. Seller (rent free) 2. Servicing banks (paid per house, regardless of payments) 3. Mortgage banks (exchanged MBS for Treasuries with U.S. gov at par) 4. Buyer (rent < mortgage) 5. Realtor (FIL house sold for full commission) 6. Other homeowners 7. U.S. Treasury bondholders (Banks buy Treasuries with MBS money) 8. Taxpayers (Treasury sales finance gov) 9. Treasury holders (MBS money keeps Treasuries high)

Who is hurt? 1. Nobody in the short run.

Allowing the RE market to balance would cause extreme pain for an extended period for all market participants, even renters. Extreme pain is not politically expedient.

The percentage of subsidized voters keeps increasing (Food stamps, unemployment, welfare, social security, medicare, medicaid, school lunches, bankers, farmers, military, teachers, union members, bailed out firms, deadbeat homeowners, federal workers, etc) so the likelihood of a soft landing keeps going down.

Playing musical chairs, doors barred, no chairs, no music, chained from neck to neck.

Cold Camel

Can anyone provide any other reason why so many properties (?)are(?) defacto unavailable?

There's an immense glut of unoccupied housing. Were not most of it kept off the market, the housing market would utterly and completely crash, as would our financial system and the global market economy along with it.

The various ways in which it is being done I do not know, but it is a matter of simple logic that it is being done.

davebygolly gets it

What A Brown Win Would Mean For The Market

More important, though, I think investors who are nervous about the dictatorship of the Pelosi proletariat will feel at ease, and we could have a gigantic rally off a Coakley loss and a Brown win. It will be a signal that a more pro-business, less pro-labor government could be in front of us.

Market down sharply at open.

On a personal note, I received an email from my employer that my health care costs will increase by an estimated 18% over the next two years and they don't have the money so it will be up to the employees to cover the cost. I am sure this will be great for the economy.

States are replenishing their empty unemployment insurance funds by raises taxes on employers:

Payroll taxes increase for many employers across USA

Hawaii's employers face an average increase to $1,070 from $90 per worker. The state also proposes decreasing the maximum benefit by as much as a third — about $190 per week.

Health Care Reform is good as dead. All of the Fox tea partier's can take a victory lap.

Currently I'm pretty healthy and I have good insurance. My wife has a blood condition that has to be treated regularly or it will kill her. I also have two grown sons that have no health insurance. They both work full time and thankfully they're pretty healthy.

When I take my wife to the hospital for treatment I notice that the vast majority of people being treated are elderly. I realize that older people have more going wrong but I think there is something far more insidious at work. The majority of health services are being spent on the elderly because of Medicare. Young people, even if they have insurance, often have such large deductibles that they are reluctant to get treatment.

Three years ago my wife's son died because he changed jobs and went without health insurance for over a year and as a consequence stopped taking his high blood pressure medication (the silent killer).

If you watch commercial television the majority of commercials are now Pharmaceutical. The only growing job opportunities are in the health care field.

In 11 years I will be eligible for medicare as will millions of other baby boomers. Are the uninsured and under-insured going to stand for that?



I was working for my previous employer, and several others before that one, when there was no such animal as Medicare. I remember the day I first heard it was voted in. I was walking into the local Blue Cross account at that moment to fix a mainframe problem. 1965.

I didn't ask for Medicare nor do I remember voting on it. I really didn't care for Social Security either but again, no vote as I recall was taken. It was just there suddenly.

I did buy a Hospitalization policy at the time for my wife was pregant. It paid $100 for a birth to the hospital. I think a rooms charge was around $25/day at that time.

Seems American oldsters were taken care of by their families and it was no big deal.

Now last month I put my 91 yr old mother in a nursying home. Why? My wife could not take care of her nor my son and I live in a different state. She never should have made it to 91 except for the 'medical industry'. I think she would have been happy to go earlier.

Bottom line: One month at the nursing home costs $5,600 and after the first 10 days we got another addon bill for almost %2,000. The health care industry is a huge money making business.

To have a baby today I hear cost several thousand. Thats insane.

So why was Congress wanting a Health Care bill? For the simple reason it would have been a veritable 'feeding frenzy' for the medical industry and those who outliers.

'Elder' law today pretty much cover the whole ball game. One's hands are tied with legalities as regards older folk.

As for me I fully intend to die in place on my farm. I will take prescription drugs perhaps but for the present I do not. I did have a bout with cancer but no metastasis so far.

I will NEVER NEVER allow myself to be placed in a nursing home. I am ready to go at any time if that is the way it plays out.

Your right about something odd going on with older people. They refuse to go. They hang on for some reason beyond all normalcy. I think thats part and parcel of the Health Care Industry.

With the gubbermint fully incontrol I think it would have just become worse and more and more of a cash cow. I doubt the quality would improve much though.


Actually, I think it's the opposite. Most people do want health care. It's the medical industry that's opposing it. They see it as the government limiting their profits.

Ironically, Massachusetts has the kind of health care program Obama is trying to push through. And they like it.

Not really ironic, perhaps just selfish (human?). They got theirs. What should they care about the other 49 states?

That depends on who you talk to. Some MA residents will tell you that they don't like the government forcing them to buy health insurance. The one town in Western MA that went easily for Brown is one of the poorest (Orange, MA).

I don't think you'll find anything that gets 100% support anywhere, let alone New England.

But overall, they like it:

The Massachusetts program is popular. About 70 percent of doctors and 59 percent of residents support the initiative, according to a poll released Thursday by the Harvard School of Public Health. By even larger margins, physicians and patients said they want the law to remain.

"Massachusetts passed a prototype of the Obama plan in 2006, and residents have since watched as their insurance premiums have risen to the highest in the nation, budget costs have soared, and bureaucrats are planning far more draconian regulation of medical practice. Mr. Brown accurately said the national sequel would be too expensive and reduce the quality of care, and that it would be a "raw deal" forcing Massachusetts taxpayers to subsidize all other states."

From the WSJ Online.

I beg to differ on your view that they oppose it. I think they voted as they did for the reasons above and other reasons as well.


And am I recalling correctly: the MA system is heading towards bankruptcy because the outlays are much greater than anticipated. Old story I read about 6 months ago.

Uh, we didn't vote on it.

It was foisted on us by our previous governor, Mitt Romney.

It was really funny to watch Romney on stage last night giving an intro for Scott Brown, who plans to kill the current health care bill. Really funny.

One other tidbit. When my business tanked a couple years ago, I missed one payment on my "corporate" health care plan (I was self employed) and they of course cancelled it. I had a gap of four months before I managed to take out personal health insurance. I expected a big penalty from Mass for this gap in coverage, but found a surprise on my tax return: No penalty was due to those for whom health insurance would cause undue financial hardship! Who qualified? Anyone married, filing jointly under $130K.


Doubly ironically, this is a perfect example of why a national plan is unnecessary -- states could choose to do what they wanted, without an overarching and overly powerful gov't over-ruling them at every turn.

What say we try a federated nation of individual states, with all but a short list of federal gov't responsibilities perpetually relegated to the domains of the states, unless a majority votes to move responsibilities to the federal purview? That way each state can try something different, and change what doesn't work to a model proven by another state to work better, without some heavy-handed federal bureaucracy and pack of lobbyists intently enforcing a status quo?

I think some of the problems Massachusetts is having show the flaws in that plan. Businesses are moving to neighboring states, and sick people are moving in.

Basically, leaving it to the states is letting the market determine the outcome, and that usually doesn't work out well in the long run.

Exactly! How is that necessarily bad for the other states who choose not to socialize healthcare but have more jobs? But the same things happen at the national level. It's not just markets, but various political groups having their say, across states and across nations. If it's not working in Mass, it would seem to be time to go the other way, instead of nationalizing the same basic approach.

My folks used to say, "If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it." We can afford to drive out existing graft and grease the skids of efficiency for healthcare, but I don't see how we can afford to pay a bunch more for add'l coverage and care without cutting something else first. So let's see the legislature get busy cutting and reducing graft, and then we can talk new taxes, and then we can talk new services.

Yeah, and why have minimum wage and labor laws? If a state wants to undercut other states, they should be allowed to. If they can do it cheaper via sweatshops using child labor, why should the government interfere?

When the government interferes they simply outsource their labor to foreign countries. A good way for the government to help is to cancel free trade agreements and throw up protective tariffs.

Exactly. And if states were free to do the same, I would say, fine, let them make their own labor laws.

But we can't. As it is, the states are like fifty conjoined twins, that share the same circulatory system. If one wants to abuse drugs or gorge on donuts, they all pay the price.

Which comes back to my basic point: Why aren't we talking about scaling back gov't at every level, esp at the national level, and re-localizing. What we're basically saying is that conjoined twins would be better off with only one brain, yet there is no evidence that any such brain would be less prone to drug abuse and overeating, and quite a lot of evidence that it will suffer from megalomania and narcissism.

I believe it will scale back naturally, the federal government will become impotent as it drowns in debt. Local solutions are the natural answer due to convenience. Federal employees will not work for IOU's.

We have been talking about it. Re-localizing is a constant topic here.

In the end, I think it will happen. As Tainter points out, it takes a lot of energy to maintain societal complexity, and we appear to be running short.

However, as Diamond points out...a strong central government is the only way a large society can achieve sustainability. Multiple small or medium sized societies will collapse into internecine conflict, with an Easter Island-like result.

I know; I meant the "national" royal "we" rather than the "oil drum we".

What if Diamond is wrong? Maybe Easter Island is as good as it gets?

Diamond is not wrong. As his book points out, there are societies that have achieved sustainability and maintained it for thousands of years. It is possible.

I need to read his book. I cannot see it being possible without population control.

There is population control. Indeed, for many of these societies, population control is their guiding principle. It's as important to them as freedom, democracy, and the American Way is to us.

I tend to err by eliminating intentional, non-violent population control as a viable scenario condition, which sometimes leads me astray. I think there could be a difference between a "strong" central gov't and a "pervasive" one where we're headed, though the former would tend to jealously become the latter.

Today we don't want abortion, effective birth control, disincentives for children, assisted suicide, limited end-of-life care, or anything like population control in general. Funny how many of those topics come up in the national healthcare debate. Really the discussion is about resource limits, moral priorities, and over population, but we can't bring ourselves to talk about it that way.

Absolutely agree with that last sentence. In fact I would say this is the crux of the matter.

Multiple small or medium sized societies will collapse into internecine conflict, with an Easter Island-like result.

You are right it might look something like this...

If we scale back the Federal level, it will be a fast race to the bottom among the states to pander to the corporations for the holy grail of "jobs". Screw the environment, screw health care, screw workplace conditions, screw corporations paying their fair share of taxes, screw it all. You bet. If that's what you want, OK, but that's what would happen. The market is really good at what the market is good at, but pitting the 50 states against each other in a reality show in which the corporations are the judges would be a disaster, in my opinion.

We'll be there at the Fed level as well. All those things you mention will happen, IMHO. There is no "fair share" of taxes -- the consumer ends up paying them all -- there are only progress and regressive ways of going about it. Corporate regulation is a failure already at the national level, and without tariffs it is destined to become worse. Corporatism is not counter to nationalism -- it can live just fine with states or Feds at the helm -- it's a function of unfettered capitalism, IMHO. Note that the states (esp Attorneys General) are striving more effectively to limit corporations than Congress.

Labor laws are primarily a luxury as well, beyond having a level playing field. Looking around the world, there is little support for such a notion. Even here, where the laws become a hindrance between willing workers and willing employers they are evaded.

When do-gooders decry child labor and barefoot ship-breakers in Bangladesh, do they offer to employ those people at a "living wage", or do they determine what would happen if the workers could not work? Many would likely starve within days. Is it more noble for a 10 year old to starve to death or to work 10 hours a day? Not an easy question to answer.

States do undercut each other all the time. As a manufacturer, you're better off in AL than CA. If you're a SW design center with specific needs, you may need to pony up the cash for silicon valley. All the states lobby for big businesses with tax incentives, investments, and other supports, effectively reducing their wage burdens, potentially below minimum wage. When that doesn't work they can always choose to look the other way when illegals are hired.

Yes, I know states undercut each other all the time. But I think some limits are required, as long as we are one nation.

It would be different if we were actually 50 states. If Massachusetts could refuse to let New Yorkers move there, or if everyone's tax dollars didn't have to pay for the health care of people in AL.

Kinda like seat belt laws. At first blush, they seem to be an appalling encroachment on personal autonomy. But if you're killed or disabled in a crash, the taxpayers usually end up picking up the tab one way or another, so yes, it is the government's business.

Some limits probably are, but very basic at most. Legislatures and lawyers tend to make them complex and yet still unfair, so I'm not convinced that the solution is always better than the problem.

Why would everybody's tax dollars go to AL?

Seat belt laws are more necessary with socialized everything than without, but the fact remains that if you lose control of your car you can hurt others as well. Helmet laws could go away except for socialized medicine.

No system is perfect or perfectly fair. I'm willing to strive for that, but starting from a list of priorities one side and funds on the other. When we run out of money, we should stop. I don't think nationalized retirement at 60 or socialized medicine will make the cut over military, wars, education, roads, and probably a host of special interests with good lobbies....but I could be wrong.

The issue today is that the Fed gov't can pretend to fund it all through borrowing, while the individuals, municipalities, and states cannot. So the Fed gets all the uneconomic feel-good solutions.

I picked on Alabama because it's a red state that you mentioned.

It's often been noted that the anti-tax, anti-big government "red" states actually benefit most from taxation. Blue states get back less than they pay in, while red states get more. Alabama is just one example.

I realize we will be dropping a lot of "luxuries" in the future. Can't bring Grandma's piano when you're boarding a lifeboat on the Titanic.

But healthcare is something I would try to keep as long as possible. Because, as I said before, access to healthcare is key to restraining population growth.

This is a comment addressed to the whole debate, not just Leanan:

What does it mean to be a civilization? Many religious figures have claimed that looking after those least able to look after themselves is a good thing. Why? What is morality? What does it mean to be human?

There's one set of worthy questions. And it's hard to address health care affordability, basic housing, even the right to a job, food, clean water, freedom, any of these things, without looking at these questions.

Most countries have some form of free health care. Most countries have some form of exploitation of those who cannot stand up for themselves. Most countries are lining up to jump off the proverbial bridge. I don't see how any of that provides us with a guide to what is desirable. Of course, I know that we will not be discussing what is desirable as the time comes to shed our "luxuries". It will just happen randomly and hodge-podge. We will leave behind Grandma's piano and Grandma too.

There is no such thing as "free health care". By its nature, health care is a potentially bottomless pit of spending, especially in the last year or two of life.

A single-payer system is probably in the best interests of the majority of the members of society. Like sewer, roads, and water, it's probably best if it just gets paid for through taxation and is available to everyone who needs it. Rationing is inevitable in such a system, however, because potential unrationed expenditures will always exceed the ability of society to pay.

In the context of this site, you also have to take into account that such things can only be paid for now because of the surplus economic activity generated by cheap energy. Massive social programs didn't exist in the past, and they probably won't exist in the future.

Fully agree on yout latter points, but outside support from the Feds tends to come with strings attached that "inflates" the spending level and probably the complexity level of the subsidized state's gov't as well. It's hard to net-out the spending, given some is for military bases and gov't offices, while some is for welfare and social security. You could argue that heavy Fed support actually supports inter-generational dependency and reduces personal growth, much as is seen routinely in ghettos and projects. If poor states carry less debt, will they actually suffer less during a protracted deflation?

The jobs with healthcare are the better paying ones, and our current healthcare costs are starting to price these out (i.e. force firms to outsource because it is too expensive to have local employees). With socialized healthcare the decision to employ doesn't involve the need to take on an expensive healthcare issue. Currently plans are running about $13000 per family, and projected to be about $20,000 by decades end.

You have all sorts of adverse selection issues, if you do it in some jurisdictions and not in others (i.e. the problem of sick people moving in), so the only viable
transistion is to make all do it together.

The states that are doing quite well economically are the "socialist" Nordic ones. High income taxes support healthcare, childcare, and education, but business taxes are low.

Since the people in our country refuse to look at things from an overall systems perspective, but just look at "what is in it for me", it becomes every man for himself. It is becoming pretty clear this will end in tears.

If you take out energy sales and debt, how would the Nordic states fare? The past 30 years are not a viable success model for the next 30.

If you take out energy sales and debt, how would the Nordic states fare? The past 30 years are not a viable success model for the next 30.

True, but they seem to be doing the most about long term energy solutions, renewables, district heating, etc. Most other countries pay lip service, but aren't doing anything aggressive enought to make much of a difference. Of course low population density and good hydro potential make a big diference. But I think a level of trust in government is a big plus. Without that trust it is difficult to make the sorts of projects that need collective support to work. Obviously if a typical citizen asks, what can I do to help my country, rather than how can I get as much as possible for myself it will ease things greatly. IMHO, during the era of rapid innovation and exponential growth the US system (individualistic culture and minimal government interference) worked the best. But, in a resource constrained world, I think the social-cultural-government characteristic that work best will be quite different. I just don't see the US figuring that out until it is way too late. I suspect that level of trust in a quasi-government does exist in the USA, the Mormons, tithing is like taxes, and they get considerable services in return. You can get a great education at Brigham Young for very little cost. But that is because they have a fairly uniform group of people who trust that their quasi-government is run for their benefit.

IMHO, the last thing the US needs is another huge federal bureaucracy. Most of the ones we already have mostly make a mess of things, we need to be devolving those to the states rather than setting up more of them. Most governments can really only do a few things well. Ours was set up deliberately to be inefficient, so that means it can do even fewer things well than most. That's why it won't do to point at other countries and wish that we copied them; the US is not like them, and it would be too much trouble to try to force us into that mold.

That is not to say that the status quo in health care is acceptable, either. It has gotten way too expensive, and closing the door on people who are able and willing to pay a reasonable premium because of pre-existing conditions isn't right either.

There is a better way, though. I think we need to move toward local co-ops, owned by the people in each community, with everyone paying a flat per-person rate. These co-ops then need to negotiate with health care providers for a flat package deal - or just hire them and pay them a flat rate as employees. This is going to be the best bet for getting good value for a reasonable price for everyone. Naturally, this utterly sensible solution isn't even "on the table".

Until we solve some of our more fundamental problems: employment, energy, financial system, population, then healthcare is ultimatly a moot issue (from one who lost his health ins. last year). It's like we are house shopping with no job, no savings, failing credit, and the rent is due.

I don't agree with your analogy. I think this is going to be an increasingly important issue, between high (and maybe increasing) levels of unemployment, and the aging population.

I think this is more like figuring out how to pay the utility bill than shopping for a new house. Because we're paying for it anyway. Only people go to the emergency room rather than a doctor.

And if we're going to spend billions we don't have, I'd rather it be on healthcare than on bailouts for billionaires. Not least because access to healthcare is a major factor in limiting population growth.

Damned if we do...Damned if we don't. Again. If we could eliminate waste and greed, all of these things might work.

So true Ghung. I was about to respond to your previous comment about "solving" the problems you list. I'm coming to the realization that there are no solutions to these problems...just reactions. Some good and positive reactions and some equally bad and damaging. Fortunately I think I'll be able to take care of me and mine. But even so it may be a very painful view of much of the rest of the world.

By instituting one or another form of socialized health care, all industrialized countries except the United States have eliminated a lot of waste in the health care section of the national economy.

The US chooses to embrace inefficiency, waste, poor health care outcomes...and a national security state apparatus that in conjunction with a vast corporate propaganda machine has effectively redefined liberty as the opportunity to choose between one box store or another.

Poor Tom Paine, dead but spinning furiously in his grave.

Most countries (OECD countries, at least) have some form of socialized health care, but then again, most countries are unitary states, not federations like the US. Canada is one of the more relevant comparisons, because it is a confederation. Interestingly, and very much relevant, in Canada socialized health care is provincial rather than national.

I think we would be much better off here in the US if, instead of expanding the federal role in health care, we devolved it entirely to the 50 states. Let the FedGov limit itself to such issues as what happens to someone's health care when they are traveling outside their home state, or when they move from one state to another. That should be the extent of their involvement.

I have no doubt that some states would end up with lousy health care, others with great health care. People can always vote with their feet.

"Are the uninsured and under-insured going to stand for that?"

No, and they won't stand for all the public employee retirement plans either.

Our health ins. is prohibitively expensive. 10K for a family of three remaining qualifiers.

It is true, the majority of the health dollars are spent on the elderly. A quick trip to the hospital will show that. But I doubt that will be the case when I retire in a few short years. And there will be no job to pay for the ins.

One of my sons was between jobs, and paid thru the nose for flu/pneumonia treatment, because of the lapse between policies. His new policy, on the private market, charged an additional 300/month for his wife, because "she was of childbearing age". Ludicrous, childbearing potential a markup. And they have no children.

It doesn't have to be this way. Other countries spend less on health care than we do, and don't have this kind of silliness.

But as it is, there are haves and have-nots, and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are successfully exploiting that. People who have health insurance don't want to pay more so others can have it, too. Until they lose their insurance for some reason, then it's "Tax people with fancy health care plans."

I agree it doesn't have to be this way. We live too close to Canada not to see a system light years better. But we can't seem to change our ripoff.

Your comment on MA above is very good. They already have the program, so the spin on last night's election being a referendum on health car is fake. It's the economy stupid, the bailout for the banks. And the fact the Dems haven't done a thing they said they wee for.

I suppose the motivation could be, "We have health insurance, why should we pay more so others can have it? We paid for our own, they can pay for their own."

I was talking to a government employee the other day, and he was adamantly opposed to Obama's plan. He has pretty good health care...but the way he sees it, he pays for and makes sacrifices for it, and if everyone else gets it for free, it's the equivalent of a huge salary drop for him. He accepted a lower salary and lower ceiling for the good benefits, and Obama would be pulling the rug out from under him (as he sees it). Never mind the plan to tax health insurance.

However, I think attitudes could change if the "haves" see themselves as at least potentially being have-nots. If the economy keeps tanking, I think a lot of people who currently feel safe in their health insurance no longer will. Companies, even states, are cutting benefits. GM retirees lost their health insurance when the company got into financial trouble, and they aren't the only ones.

I suppose the motivation could be, "We have health insurance, why should we pay more so others can have it? We paid for our own, they can pay for their own."

I caught an NPR report this morning that suggested exactly that. They even had a couple of people saying that out loud: "we are already covering 98% of Massachusetts residents so why should we get taxed to help the rest of the US.". They probably don't hear enough reports saying that sick people are moving to Massachusetts (that might be hard to show), or that the system is on the verge of collapse (that might not be true).

They probably don't hear enough reports saying that sick people are moving to Massachusetts (that might be hard to show), or that the system is on the verge of collapse (that might not be true).

I think those sorts of problems are ones that operate with a lag. For example it takes a few years for the number of people who moved in because they have expensive chronic conditions to build up. The sort of analysis which could show those kinds of effects is beyond most people, and their eyes will glaze over if you try to explain it. I fear that for anything whose method of operation is not obvious to the bulk of the people is going to be seriously botched in a democracy -where an appeal to the lowest common intellectual denominator is a very effective way to win elections.

Maybe it is a bit of I've got mine, you get yours. One of the things that tick me off with that attitude is that amount we all pay for fed funding of hospitals, teaching programs, basic research, ad infinitum. Too many of us are getting shortchanged for our contributions here, while others make out like a bandit. The business of "I paid for it" is self deception. The vast majority couldn't afford it if they paid all the costs.

If you believe polls:

"A majority of Obama voters who switched to Brown said that "Democratic policies were doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street." A full 95 percent said the economy was important or very important when it came to deciding their vote."

"The poll also upends the conventional understanding of health care's role in the election. A plurality of people who switched -- 48 -- or didn't vote -- 43 -- said that they opposed the Senate health care bill. But the poll dug deeper and asked people why they opposed it. Among those Brown voters, 23 percent thought it went "too far" -- but 36 percent thought it didn't go far enough and 41 percent said they weren't sure why they opposed it."


36% thought it didn't go far enough. So if Obama sidelined Baucus and Bush's Joe, Brown would be out.

"41 percent said they weren't sure why they opposed it."

I think that says it all.

I agree it doesn't have to be this way. We live too close to Canada not to see a system light years better. But we can't seem to change our ripoff.

I live in Canada and I would argue that our system is definitely not better ... if you're healthy and/or able to afford decent insurance. I pay a lot of taxes for a system that very much rations a lot of treatments, and especially tests. I have friends that have been waiting for 6+ months for an MRI. If I needed one I'd drive to Seattle and pay to get it done. I know people that have traveled to the US and paid for surgery, just to get it done, rather than wait for a year (or more!). These are "non-urgent" procedures, not like heart surgery or something, but who wants to be 30 and laid up for a year waiting to get a damaged knee repaired? There are many tens or hundreds of thousands of people on these waiting lists, right now, in Canada.

On the other hand, the insurance tied to employment system, and that so many people don't have coverage, in the US, is totally appalling. It's so bad it makes our system look good. But it's not a really high bar.

To my American friends, the Canadian system by and large works fine. I've lived in both the USA and Canada and have been sick and hospitalized in both. The problems with health care in the US will keep me from ever moving back. Currently I am waiting for surgery in Saskatchewan to have a benign tumor removed. Yes, I'm on a waiting list for surgery and I might be for there for 6 months. If I take a turn for the worse due to excessive blood loss, I'll be moved up in the queue fast. I've been moved to the head of queue instantly in Canada twice, I'd rather not have that happen again, as that's what happens when you're in a very bad way.

In the States, I knew of numerous cases in which parents refused to pay for needed medical care for their children as the parents didn't want to spend the money. The cases involved head injuries, severe poisonings, a burn resulting in carbonization of flesh and some loss of use of a foot, foreign body thru limb and subsequent infection, etc., serious cases. In Canada, medical care is free for children. A six month wait for non-urgent surgery seems a minor price for me to pay for this and I am happy to do so. Civilization does have its price.

I have just moved back to Canada from southern Nevada where I lived for approx, 20 years. We, wife, went there to help her folks in their old age.
My wife is chronically ill and the first year we were there she had to get a operation. She had health insurance but the day she was to get the operation the insurance company walked away saying was a previous condition. A day later we were 160K in debt.
Being a dumb Canadian I did not declare bankruptcy and slowly paid it off.
The U.S. does not have health care, it's a ponsie scheme.

Here in Canada, the health system is public. Overall, healcare cost roughtly half of what it cost in USA and we are in better help. It may not be perfect but in quality of health it is much more effective. The "customer" approach in USA leads to a large amount of uneeded procedures done to satisfact the client.

"uneeded procedures done to satisfact the client"

I think you can blame the legal profession for most of this.
I live in a small town. We have one physician. He came here from Canada to practice. Both him and his physician wife.

The US INS or some entity tried to deport him but the local citizens fought it and won. He is an excellent Dr. and is treated very well here. I just visited him three days ago for a simple checkup.

He would prefer to NOT go back to Canada.


I'm sure he would not like to go back to Canada for no other reason than he can make much more money here. I know a Canadian doctor (GP) myself and he is envious of US doctor's incomes. Given that he still drives top of the line cars and takes several international vacations a year. I guess its the grass is always greener syndrome!


Your whole statement is a big set of assumptions and wrong on all counts.

His rates are very reasonable. His wife ,as a physician, died some years back from cancer.

He is a very good doctor and could make more by moving to a city. But my county supported him and he is friends here to everyone. He does not drive a large car. He only has ONE car. He takes very little vacation as I observed. He is well known and spends a lot of time with other pre-med students that come to watch him practice.

I spoke to him about Canada and he told me he was not intending to ever go back. Not even for vacation.


You are correct in that my first statement was an assumption on my part; I did not intend it as an insult. The other statements were first hand observations and experiences.

Plus, you Canadians live 2 years longer and have a lower infant mortality rate.
How do you dot it at half the cost?
(sacrono off)

Canada probably also hasn't spent almost a trillion $$ in the past nine years waging idiotic wars...

$900,000,000,000+ since 2001.

And we can't "afford" national health care.





We cannot afford the war, we cannot afford national health care, we cannot afford other entitlement programs. The American Century is over, the free ride is over. People must begin to take care of themselves.

As many, many others have in vain tried to point out, national health care costs less, a lot less, and delivers more. The reality is that the US cannot afford its present 'system'.

Watching the parade of ignornance regarding socialized medicine, makes me even more pessimistic that the fact of peak oil will ever be accepted by a population so easily misled.

It does not cost less, it costs money. There is nothing free, reform the current system to lower costs.

Reform the system to NOT FOR PROFIT. Our system of "everything private, everything profitable" is great except when lives are at stake. Profitting from other peoples illness has always struck me as sort of sick (NPI), especially the feeding frenzy of the last 20 years. You pay or you die.

You can have a not for profit system without state socialism: co-ops. I would argue that co-ops would actually end up being less expensive even than a government spcialist program. There may be some countries where governments can run programs very efficiently and inexpensively, but in no way whatsoever does that describe the US government. A socialized national system that might cost 5-10% of GDP in other countries will cost 15-20% or more here in the US.

That doesn't mean keep the status quo. We need to make big changes, and we do need to end up with something non-profit. However, that can be done by setting up a system of community co-ops, and we'll end up with something much better and much cheaper than either what we have now OR some huge federal bureaucracy.

I think it is simply because social medecine is better implemented here. But to do that you have to take care of the poorest.

People who think like Floridian and Airdale just are more likely to be irritated by some of the practices in the Canadian health system. Doctors with that mindset are more likely to want to move to the US to practice. It does not mean by any stretch that it is more desirable to practice medicine in the US. Just ask the majority of physicians whether they would recommend their career choice to their kids.

To support that assertion, a 2007 survey by Merritt, Hawkins indicated that 57% of 1,175 doctors questioned would not recommend the field to their children.

Perhaps Canada just has fewer "libertarian" types.

I believe the Canadian constitution guarantees "order and good government". That has always spoken to me of a different mindset. The sort of mindset that might be OK being forced to pay taxes to help with someone else's misfortune. Yeah, there's mismanagement, but in the larger scheme, it's Americans who have to pay through the nose for their own care, partly as a result of refusing to pay for others' care.

I was interested to find out that Medecins Sans Frontieres's mission includes delivering care to people "excluded from healthcare". I imagine they consider the American health care "system" a sort of disaster.

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

My pediatrician says the same, but his complaint is overarching control by the insurance companies and by Medicaid, plus legal insurance. His overall reason is it takes too many years of expensive schooling for the relatively low net income of late.

I know this sounds corny, and (aaaarghhhh) condescending too - but I'll say it anyways:

I believe that the sense of living your values is "compensation" in its own right. I always felt "rich" working in community health centers, because I got to meet brave people struggling against adversity, work with folks devoted to helping others, and remain aware of the issues affecting the poorest people in my town. I would be moved to tears if any of my kids wanted to be a doctor, and strongly support them in their efforts.

Of course, you can look at it another way. I was taking a cut in salary to frustrate myself trying to help dimwits, with inadequate ratio of poorly trained staff.

Some of it is in your perspective, but I think wiser folks than I already suggested that...

Too bad the daily cooing at cute babies isn't enough to sustain your pediatrician : )

Actually for him it is, but for his son (who is now in med school) he was hoping for better.

So how much did you make working in the community health center?

My second to last personal physician was a Canadian runaway-he came south to get better wages.The one previous to that was a Cuban refugee who died a good many years back-he got out early with his family because he saw the writing on the wall and by good luck settled in the nearest town.

We have been extraordinarily lucky recently as a fine doctor who used to practice in a large city not too far away decided to move here to escape the rat race.He practices out of his house, makes house calls and charges only thirty five bucks for an office visit.If you need a half hour or forty five minutes with him , you get it, you can ask as many questions as you like.

He does not accept any insurance plan, no matter how much it would pay.( He is of course legally obligated to accept medicare and so forth.)

He prescribes generic drugs almost exclusively except when a lab culture identifies a bug that needs something still under patent.

Every body who knows him would commit murder on his behalf at the drop of a hat.

In my last job here in Boulder, I was making $60/hr (that's sort of an approximation, because there was a requirement to be on call as much as necessary - when two doctors were out sick, we just doubled up). I have been told that I would have been making double that in private practice, as a family physician. My speech therapist makes more than $60/hr. Of course I had freedom from insurance and staffing and space headaches, as well as freedom from any sort of control over my own schedule. I did that sort of work for 20 years. Finally quit when my husband started working long hours and neither one of us could focus on the kids.

The doctor you describe does indeed sound ideal. I can only hope I came across anywhere near that well.

"People who have health insurance don't want to pay more so others can have it, too. Until they lose their insurance for some reason, then it's "Tax people with fancy health care plans."

It is always the way - words will answer as long as it is only a person's neighbor who is in trouble, but when that person gets into trouble himself, it is time that the King rise up and do something.

- Mark Twain, Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc

It doesn't have to be this way. Other countries spend less on health care than we do, and don't have this kind of silliness.

I had this movie recommended to me, perhaps thanks to things like movies-by-mail (netfliks and such) more people will become informed....


In 11 years I will be eligible for medicare as will millions of other baby boomers. Are the uninsured and under-insured going to stand for that?

Yes, they will stand for it-- they imagine that some day they too will get Medicare. Medicare is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- especially for hospitals, and the insurance companies demand their cut with bogus "Medicare supplements."

Twice in recent memory the insurance companies defeated health care reform -- and twice the electorate was bamboozled by insurance company propaganda.

I'm doubtful that the American electorate will ever wake up -- their torpor is induced by floods of cholecystokinin triggered by double cheeseburgers and fries. American as apple pie, and not negotiable, by the way.

[edit spelling]

I doubt that Medicare will suddenly just go away, but it is likely to become less generous. They'll tinker around with it in ways that amount to a cut in benefits, but this will be obfuscated as much as can be. A little later there will be another round of cuts, and then later yet another. It will gradually get cut back to the point where it is quite miserly indeed, but they'll never completely get rid of it, just so they can continue saying that they "saved" it.

The big question in my mind is: What will these cutbacks do to the Medigap plans? A person typically signs up for one of these at the same time that they go on Medicare, and then as long as they keep paying the premiums, they remain in force for life. However, they are set up to cover what Medicare doesn't now. If that changes, the insurance cos are not going to want to be on the hook to start picking up the stuff that has been cut. Are they just going to come up with supplemental "Medi-gap-gap" policies as the cuts open up new gaps? Or are they going to demand the right to put everything on the table and re-calibrate their rates upward to adjust for the additional coverage they are having to pick up? Or are policyholders just going to be left with an uninsured "donut hole" gap?

The uncertainty does complicate one's planning.

"The majority of health services are being spent on the elderly because of Medicare."

In Canada the elderly consume most health care services. Medicare is universal, cradle to grave. Old folks have more ailments, especially in the year or so before undergoing an energy/matter transformation.

As Leanan says most Americans want universal health care. I wonder when democracy will come to the USA.

Yes, the last 18 months of life tend to be very expensive (as well as the first few months for premature babies). The NY Times has been doing a series on end of life care, and most people want heroic measures until the end.

I don't think I'd want that. But then, I'm relatively young and healthy. I might feel different if I were actually in that situation.

I remember in College I wrote a paper on "Euthanasia" and I got a C. That idea has never been popular.

Euthanasia is a choice un-like suicide, which is a selfish act intended to cause others pain. Rather it is a medical need where sustaining life any longer would only result in further physical pain of patient and suffering in their family.

Remember Jack Kervorkian:

Jack Kevorkian is an American pathologist, right-to-die activist, painter, composer, and instrumentalist. He is most noted for publicly championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he claims to have assisted at least 130 patients to that end.

He famously said that "dying is not a crime."

Between 1999 and 2007, Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. He was released on parole on June 1, 2006, due to good behavior.

Personally I believe in National Health Care to a point. i.e. If we're going to have a viable national health-care plan there will need to be grown-ups talking about making rational choices when it comes to treatment.

This means:
1. rationing treatment
2. limiting tort rewards
3. allowing people to die with dignity

If wealthy people want to pay for additional care that should be acceptable.


"suicide, which is a selfish act intended to cause others pain."

Total, utter ********.

By Mayo Clinic staff

The death of a loved one is heart-wrenching and painful. But when the death is because of suicide, those left behind face even more difficult challenges in coping and healing.

Suicide can affect partners, children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and medical providers. As a survivor of suicide, overwhelming emotions can leave you reeling. It may seem like your support system has vanished. And you may be consumed by guilt, wondering if there's something you could have done to prevent your loved one's death.

Bereavement after a loved one has taken his or her own life is often more complicated, intense and prolonged than it is with a death from natural causes. Although as a survivor of suicide you may never fully recover and always feel a loss, you can learn how to cope better and eventually move forward in a way that's healthy


sgage - I apologize and withdraw the statement.


Thanks for that, Joe. That was big of you.

I've been present when somebody was euthanized and though it wasn't a pleasant experience (for me) the patient was nervous she could not wait to have it over with because her life was pure hell.
There is no doubt in my mind that, if managed properly, euthenasia is a humane alternative to letting nature take it's course.

As Leanan says most Americans want universal health care. I wonder when democracy will come to the USA.

We have a "democracy" of sorts. But when neither the people, nor the powers that be give a wit about the truth, the forces of disinformation are able to lead them around. A country that doesn't care about truth, but only what feels right for their ideology is truly lost.

Most Americans want a pool and a pony too, if they don't have to care for them. I'm sure they all want nicer cars, houses, better jobs, full retirement at 45 or sooner, and happy, well-adjusted kids.

The better question would be how much they'd be willing to pay for healthcare -- and everything else. A country that cannot prioritize and limit their spending to their income can't really discern between "rights, needs, and wants" IMHO.

What part of socialized medicine costs less, delivers more don't you get?

But keep it up. As long as your ignorance remains ascendant, the rest of the industrialized world will not have to worry about the US being an effective competitor.

Enjoy the faceless bureaucrats of PrivateHealthcare Inc.. They are enjoying you.

No name-calling, please.

The math part. The same level of care can at most vary linearly, given levels of graft, bureaucratic overhead, and profits. The only people making too much money are bureaucrats, lawyers, and insurance companies. The proposed models don't appear to fix much of that, and they don't much follow the systems that are more efficient, from what I can tell. It's a new, lobbyist-approved, DC-friendly approach, destined to be as good as other gov't programs. Look what Homeland Security has done for our homeland security, and see why I feel his way.

I'm all for improving efficiency and processes -- I do that professionally all the time. Rarely is a 100% new system the best approach -- simply fixing the parts that are obviously broken is usually the best, and least invasive, approach.

"To each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities" not only overlooks sloth and corruption (endemic in human nature) but presumes the sum of the abilities is adequate to address the needs (let alone wants).

i understand your apprehensiveness regarding creating a new entitlement program. I concur sloth and corruption are very real 'moral hazards' that we risk encouraging.
I also respect the fact that you seem to be making a principled argument with regard to the fact that such an expansion of subsidized health care is unaffordable. that is a powerful argument on its own.
however i would submit that the demographic element that is most in need of universal health care- young adults working at crap jobs- are the ones who can benefit in a disproportionately, almost synergistic way. If a young person could, say, take a crap job just to make some money, try it and find they hate it, quit and take another, you have done a few things on a societal level that i think can only have salutary results.
velocity in the labor market increases. people move more (you get economic benefits simply from a 'churning effect') young people have a greater sense of freedom and possibilities, this is abstract but i still think it is very important and shouldn't be underestimated.
young people in school could pursue their passion and would not feel compelled to tailor their interests to what they anticipate some future 'job market' will be.
people would feel less need to stay in abusive controlling relationships.
also we collectively help to establish a 'floor' of human dignity which i think could result in huge social dividends.
I am reminded of the movement of vast numbers of women into the work force in the second half of the twentieth century and how greatly we all have benefited by the increased 'empowerment' (if you will) of that segment of the population. Increasing human dignity can pay powerful dividends even if it does not initially seem to pencil out.

The proposed models don't appear to fix much of that, and they don't much follow the systems that are more efficient, from what I can tell. It's a new, lobbyist-approved, DC-friendly approach, destined to be as good as other gov't programs.

This was the real problem with the Healthcare bill. Ignore the inane caterwalling from the ultra-right about how "socialist" it was (it wasn't --not by a long shot). It was that the Insurance industry and Big Pharma wrote or re-wrote most of it and stripped out any real "reform". What was left was generous federal subsidies to private industry, no effective competition at a state level, no cost control mechanisms, and a very un-democratic compulsion for citizens to buy insurance they had no say in regardless of ability to pay. It deserved to die.

If the Republicans had resolved to be part of the solution, rather than to make failure of the current administration the sole strategy, it might have been possible to come up with something decent. But the democrats were left with needing every single vote, and that means any Senator who wavers can extra several pounds of flesh for his favorite lobbyist. This is how legislation gets mangled. If we had a parlimentary type system, there would be no doubt whether the ruling part could get its major programs through. So they can concentrate on good policy, rather than on buying off enough special interests to get enough votes. Our government was designed to be ineffective, but is that system going to be able to cope with the new postindustrial world?

You are exactly right, our government is dysfunctional, and largely by design. If you want to change that quickly, you are talking revolution. Good luck with that. Frankly, IMHO that isn't going to happen. Thus, we are stuck with what we've got, and we had better take frank and honest account of that fact. The reality is that a lot of solutions that work for other countries won't work for the US, because they have effective and efficient national governments and we don't. I think we are better off trying to find the best solution that does an end run around the FedGov and doesn't depend upon it. This is a big reason why I advocate setting up a network of community health care co-ops. There would probably need to be some FedGov involvement at the outset to get these set up and to facilitate the transition away from Medicare + employer group plans, but once that is done, the FedGov could back away from health care almost completely. As it should, its plate is already way too full.

Kids less happy as they're more plugged into TV, music, Web?

But the survey also reveals that the more media they use, the less happy young people tend to be.

Heavy media users, it finds, are more likely to have bad grades, more likely to be "often sad or unhappy," less likely to get along well with their parents and twice as likely to "get into trouble a lot."

They think it might be even worse for adults.

Meanwhile, in China...

What Internet? China region cut off 6 months

LIUYUAN, China - They arrive at this gritty desert crossroads weary from a 13-hour train ride but determined. The promised land lies just across the railway station plaza: a large, white sign that says "Easy Connection Internet Cafe."

The visitors are Internet refugees from China's western Xinjiang region, whose 20 million people been without links to the outside world since the government blocked virtually online access, text messages and international phone calls after ethnic riots in July. It's the largest and longest such blackout in the world, observers say.

People traveling as much as 750 miles just to get Internet access.

My kids (6 and 7) are spending a week without tv or computers/games after an incident.

They are more noisy, more work to manage, but they are interacting with each other much more and engaging their imaginations and creativity. Actual misbehaviour levels are down.

They are more noisy, more work to manage

If you can't give them screens, you can at least give them Zoloft and Paxil. Then they will become manageable again. Your attitude seems downright antediluvian.

Ralph's kids sound like my childhood. I am so thankful I grew up in an antediluvian, pre-pharmaceutical age!

I have never heard of Zoloft or Paxil in the UK. However google lumps them with Prozac so I get the message.

We are a little less beholden to the (legal) drug culture still.


I see Zoloft is used to 'treat' borderline personality disorder. Their birthmother is reported to suffer from it.
However, having read up on the condition, the best prevention is a stable and chemical free family upbringing.

I suspect my kids are also better behaved when they don't get a chance to play computer games (we don't have video games). The only movies they are really interested in involve shooting or fighting (we have no TV) so they tend to be really amped up after a movie.

What is happening at home is a product of my own laziness, and the fact that one of my kids is very active and needy (I know which one because the atmosphere changes when he is the one away on a playdate) and not on chemicals if I can ever help it.

RalphW: Zoloft is sertraline, and Paxil is paroxetine. They are antidepressants. This story (http://www.cyc-net.org/features/ft-treatingdepression.html) suggests they are known in Britain. They work also for anxiety. Most personality disorders aren't much improved by medications.

Link up top: China depending more on imported oil

"Domestic production is already at its peak," he said. "Although domestic companies have accelerated their overseas expansion, the resources they already gain are still limited."

The EIA, in its infinite wisdom does not think so. Non-OPEC Crude Oil and Liquid Fuels Supply (million barrels per day)


2009   2010   2011
3.99   4.06   4.14

And they are predicting Non-OPEC production to peak in 2010, but not China.

Ron P.

Lets all head down to the Yasina, dye ourselves blue, and kick some butt.

"Thirst for Oil Imperils South America's Most Biodiverse Wilderness"


"This quadruple richness center has only one viable strict protected area - Yasuní. The park covers just 14 percent of the quadruple richness center's area, whereas active or proposed oil concessions cover 79 percent," the authors write in the open-access scientific journal PLoS ONE, where the study appears today."

We need to tame some dragons first...

Lester Brown, "The Race Between Tipping Points: Can We Save Our Civilization?"

Lester Brown looks ahead and shares his assessment of the most significant trends that are affecting our world today.


Question of the hour: Is the Chinese bubble getting ready to pop? It will be felt around the world if it does.

I really thought the gold bubble would pop first, but the two could be linked...


Re the Asian carp story: seems that the long-predicted disaster has arrived. I wonder if they'll try mass poisoning again, but in the lake itself.

The story I've read has this turning into a battle between President Obama and those Great Lake states. Apparently it will be easy to prevent the carp from getting into the lakes: just don't open the locks for the barge traffic. But that means Chicago lossing around $40 million/yr. OTOH, the carp could wipe out a big chunk of the $7 billion/yr fishing industries in the lake. If you're in Chicago running barges it might be a good time to have a friend in the White House. Even the EPA and Corps of Engineers are siding with the lake states on this one. So far no comments from the White House.

It is already too late was the point of the story. The Asian carp has invaded Lake Michigan.

Not necessarily. They found DNA, but not actual fish. It's possible the DNA got into the water without the fish having done so.

But it's definitely not good news.

Still, Great Lakes advocates and the expert who conducted the tests seemed more convinced of the fish’s physical presence in or near Lake Michigan.

“I think there’s not another plausible explanation for the presence of DNA that we’ve found other than that there are live fish in the vicinity,” said David M. Lodge, a professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame, whose team tested the water samples.

On a different note, I put up a bat house over the weekend due to this invasive species -> Aedes albopictus. This mosquito was absolutely brutal in my potato patch last year.

I'm surprised that someone hasn't created a business harvesting these things for catfood or organic fertilizer. There must be a good use for all of these fish, CarpoSynth biofuel maybe :-> Hell, in the video I saw, they just jump in the boat. Kinda takes the fun out of fishing!


Hi Ghung,

On a tangent ere but I have seen a few hints recently that the algae for oil wanna be industry might just have found it's magic bullet in a fish of this sort-apparently the idea is to breed the fish especially for oil production and adaptability to living in an algae choked lake stoked with nutrients provided either from partially treated sewage effluent or food wastes or slaughterhouse offal or some combinaton thereof.Sun powered of course.

The fast growing fish will be harvested, the oil extracted, and the remains either plowed back into the feedstock (maybe) or sold for high protein livestock feed supplement -more likely.

Thus might just work out commercially-fish farming works and if the fish are not used for food all sorts of possibilities arise in terms of genetic engineering, sanitation requirements, processing costs, shipping, packaging,etc.

And of course there is the possibility the candle will burn at both ends-the fish oil farmer might get paid to clean up waste water by running it thru a lake that has not so many fish but enough algae to capture the npk left over from pretreated or partially treated sewage.

If we call these carp an "invasive specie" we'll never get rid of them. The surest way to eliminate something in this country is to label it a "natural resource". If we did that we'd be rid of 'em in a few years.

Yeah, Mac, we looked at aquaculture a few years back. A couple of trout farms were for sale due to losses from warming steams and the drought. These trout farms had been successful for decades, but in the last 10-15 years they've had a hard time keeping temps low enough to prevent die-off and the fish weren't thriving. One guy, a friend, invested all he had in a LOX tank and oxy-injection system to improve production (to no avail). Our thought was to convert the facilities over to tilapia. Turns out that the Chinese have cornered that market too. Maybe in time this will change, as we move to more local sources of food (and regulations become reduced out of necessity).

The surest way to eliminate something in this country is to label it a "natural resource". If we did that we'd be rid of 'em in a few years.

Peak Carp!

Ha! I hope we never have "Peak Sense of Humor". Did you ever get hurt so bad that all you could do is laugh?

We'll all just laugh our way to the bottom, here at the Drum!

If we call these carp an "invasive specie" we'll never get rid of them. The surest way to eliminate something in this country is to label it a "natural resource". If we did that we'd be rid of 'em in a few years.

If we have been able to almost drive tuna in the oceans to the brink of extinction then I'm quite sure we have the technology to do the same with Asian Carp in the Great Lakes. Yes, these carp are edible and can be used as fertilizer. Start thinking of recipes...

OFM, For those who live near or on large bodies of water, rivers, lakes ,etc.,,the loss of fishing has been disasterous.

There are still commercial fishermen about. I ate a fish dinner up near Ky. Lake last year and sitting a few tables away was a commercial fisherman sharping the cooks knives.

I went over and spoke to him to ask him if the Asian Carp had reached Barkley and Kentucky lake.
He was very upset when he told me that they were all over those lakes and had ruined fishing for most. He was out of business.

All along the Tennessee Valley where dams were placed by TVA the story is the same. Carp have taken over and the fishing is ruined. They eat so much of the food that other species cannot thrive.

Sure there are a few crappie to be had here and there but basically its ruined for good.

This is not something to be taken lightly , not here where we have fished the Mississippi and its myriad oxbox lakes since as long as folks have lived here. I have two fishing boats and neither has been in the water since all this shit started.

I place the blame squarely on the US Gubbermint for bringing them here along with others species. They were supposed to be only surgically neutered fish. Some one screwed up and you can bet that a government idiot will almost always screw something up.

Thanks to them we have Kudzu and Multiflora rose to name just a few. Kudzu can take who valleys of foliage and trees. Utterly destroy it. Multiflora is as bad once it gets started. Can grow to the height of a house top.


You can go back farther than that. The only reason that the forests that surround me right now are not mostly American Chestnut is because some idiot imported some blight-infested foreign species about a century ago. That might very well have been the biggest ecological disaster of all in these parts.

I'd be in favor of making the importation of any non-native species a capital offense. It is that bad.

I think it'll still be impossible to keep them out. Any farm pond is eventually fishable, as the eggs get transferred by fowl and such. In this case you'll probably have individuals who catch, transfer, and release just because they can. Life is pretty good and finding all the cracks in crevices of the world and reproducing whether we want it to or not.

Shuttting off the flow of other waters will not stop the Asian Carp.

Wading birds can carry eggs from one body of water to another. Other creatures such as beaver, muskrat, etc can do the same.

Dig a pond. It may take awhile but fish will appear. Usually sunfish and crappie but others could and likely have been stocked by nature in this manner. I have dug more than one pond and seen it happen. Old timers tell me the same.

Lots of people who grow tired of their backyard minature fish pond. Poi anyone? Will release them into running water or in my case I saw a Blue Heron in my son's house in raleigh sit and spear fish , large ones and then fly away with them. They can spread in several ways.

Years ago I walked back on my fathers farm to a smallish dammed up creek and it was full of huge goldfish!. Just as bad a Asian Carp to my mind.

Airdale-no one is going to be able to stop the Asian Carp. Not by normal methods at least,such as damning the flow. And then always some fool fisherman will let some loose and there you go.

And yet there are fishless lakes - that have been fishless since the last ice age.

I don't think transfer via birds is much of a risk. With some fish, yes, it is. Their eggs are sticky, and cling to things. Others have non-sticky eggs. I believe the Asian carp is in the latter category. Their eggs are designed to float freely downstream rather than cling.

Well perhaps you do not have our species of wading birds there.

I speak of Blue Herons, and what others call 'cranes'. Also egrets, white ones who wade out back waters and lakes and ponds and carry fish parts and eggs here and yon.

When the Mississippi and Ohio filled with Asian Carp then the message on the wall had been written ,large. They would go everywhere they possibly could and the damage would be massive and still be growing til all viable waters were infected with their filth and offspring.

For a sport fisherman or a commercial fisherman the results are disastrous. I say disastrous indeed.

It is part and parcel of the 'globalization' venue. Something I hate with a passion. We now see many of the results of this. From junk industrial,tainted 'food' to invasive species. What happened to the border guards then, one wonders?

All blame IMO falls on our ignorant and worthless folken in DC. Time to make a clean sweep of them and restart over.

Airdale-we consume garbage and put on that we have the best food in the world . I can't find pork or chicken that I can easily consume with out nausea overtaking me. Its just that bad. Beef a close second.

I'm afraid you are right about the spread of the carp , we have'nt been very successful in the long run at controlling other invasive species.

I feel your pain in regard to the loss of your local sports fishery.

My earlier remarks were in respect to farmed fish specially bred to live in lakes over run deliberately with algae and nutrients.

Of course such a fish might escape captivity too but more than likely it would be a species already loose in the local area as it would have been bred from them.

Euro Tumbles, Yields Jump as Pressure on Greece Grows

ATHENS—Greek debt markets reeled Wednesday and the euro tumbled amid increasing concern that Greece may have trouble meeting its financing needs. . .

The cost to investors of insuring Greek sovereign debt against default rose to a record. Late Wednesday in Athens, Greece's five-year sovereign credit-default-swap spreads were at 3.455 percentage point, compared with Tuesday's closing level of 3.17 percentage point. That rate means the annual cost of insuring €10 million of Greek government debt against default for five years had risen to €345,500 from €317,000 late on Tuesday. That is 10 times the rate paid on German government debt, the region's benchmark debt market. "That is the sort of level that Icelandic CDS was trading at shortly before Iceland collapsed," said Simon Derrick, a currencies analyst at Bank of New York Mellon in London. "I'm not saying they are the same, but it's clear that people's perception of risk is now the same as it was before the Icelandic collapse," he said.

Concern over a possible Greek default weighed on the euro, the currency which is shared by Greece and 15 other countries. The euro was under heavy selling pressure against the dollar in the European afternoon, trading at $1.4113, from $1.4302 late Tuesday in New York.

Greece Worries Might Be Spreading

Worries about Greece’s fiscal woes may be spreading outward to other highly-indebted nations on Europe’s periphery.

One sign of trouble: Investors are demanding higher yields to compensate for the increased risk of holding Portuguese, Spanish, Irish and Italian government bonds. On Wednesday, the “spread,” or difference, between yields on such bonds and safer German debt — a gauge of market fear — has jumped higher. The gap between 10-year Portuguese bonds and German debt has widened to 0.95 percentage point from 0.92 percentage point Tuesday evening, while that between Irish and German bonds stands at 1.57 percentage points from 1.48 percentage points.

Similar spreads for Spain and even Belgium have also increased in recent days. And don’t forget Greece: The gap between Greek and German bonds stands at 2.78 percentage points from 2.64 percentage points last night, after improving somewhat earlier this week.

Saw that WT. Interesting in that part of my owner's vision was a massive crash in the EU in the next 12-18 months. His trading company runs 22 hrs/day so he keeps his finger on the pulse of the entire globe. I'm sure he's not infalable. But I haven't seen him be wrong yet in such matters. And not just idle speculation: putting 100's of $millions behind his models.

I think that the following is one of Kurt Cobb's best articles. It shows how dependent the US economy (and other western countries) are on the food and energy producers, and by extension, as food and energy become more expensive and less available, doesn't the top heavy system become more unstable?

Upside down economics
By Kurt Cobb, July, 2007

Key Chart:


This method for depicting the economy was suggested to me by two things. First, Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that an organism's growth is limited by the amount of the least available essential nutrient. In the case of world society that nutrient would be food, though many would argue that fossil fuels are the essential nutrient since so much food production depends on the use of fossil fuels and their derivatives including fertilizers and pesticides. Second, a piece by Dmitry Podborits argues that it is nonsense to say that the U. S. economy is less vulnerable to oil supply disruptions today than in 1970s because it produces twice as much GDP per barrel of oil. Instead, Podborits suggests, we are more vulnerable to oil supply disruptions because we have so much more GDP balanced on each barrel of oil. The same argument might be made with respect to agriculture which in the United States in 1930 employed 21.5 percent of the workforce and made up 7.7 percent of GDP. In 2000 the numbers were 1.9 percent of the workforce and 0.7 percent of GDP. We are balancing an ever larger total economy on an agricultural economy that on a relative basis is shrinking. Certainly, we are getting more efficient, but are we becoming more vulnerable?

What is his view of gold, US $ and commodities (including energy & food) over the next 3 to 5 years?

suyog -- if you're asking me he's aniticipating high inflation and thus his push towards commodities such as oil/NG. My company is designed as a commodity acquisition effort: we'll spend around $300 million drilling oil/NG reserves over the next several years. When prices peak we'll sell the reserves and disappear into the sunset. He might not be right but he's betting the family's money that he sees the future correctly.

I obviously hope he's correct: at 58 yo this is my swan song.

and yet, the greek gov't sold a cool 5 billion euros and change in bonds just since the new year,
and we're not even three weeks in yet. They'll keep the fantasy money flowing for a while longer,
while interest rates both nominal and effective (i'd like to see what kind of discount those bonds are selling at right out the door) creep up to keep it coming. Maybe they will find no buyers
soon, but so far, that's not been the case. Is it a stealth bailout in action? perhaps. When this
particularly bad wrinkle in the economy's nervous system really cannot borrow more funny money,
brussels has the ugly choice between default, bailout, and effective receivership/takeover and stripmining of the country. Any choice, including doing nothing, breaks the euro and quite likely
the EU itself. The only thing the politicians can do at this point is to find some kind of stealth
bailout money to keep the wheels on as long as they can and postpone that day.

A year ago i heard a rumor that some pensions were going to be paid in bonds instead of
cash, but that hasn't happened yet. There's more room yet to push this big bunch of s**t further
down the food chain before there's nowhere else to push it. Spain, Italy, portugal, the story is
probably the same there.

Unlike a lot of other countries, though, the final option usually employed to cash in on bad debts
won't work in greece. This of course being takeover and selling everything off. It requires
the use of force to expropriate whatever wealth is left in the country, and in greece, both the
police and the army really will not function as part of that process. All up and down the hierarchy in both institutions, and the population at large (including most of the ruling class) really do consider such use of force to be totally unacceptable. The army is still a citizen army of universal mandatory service, by the way. The only way to get the requisite force would be
to bring it in from elsewhere. Hard to see brussels or the bankers managing that one while
enough of the rest of the system is in place that either of them mean anything, such a move
would put an end to the EU the very same day. So, unlike, say, italy where the government (in combination with the mafia) are powerful enough to mine the country's wealth, greek debt really is going to be a write off.

The politicans and big shots who filled their pockets with this money for decades threw enough
small change into the crowd to build up a dependent class of do-nothing public employees who
will probably be on strike or marching through the streets more and more as this year goes on.
What those people will do when there really is no way to keep the wheels from coming off, who
can say? they'll go totally nuts demanding whatever they think they can, theyll probably
sabotage their workplaces to the point where more or less anything regarding the bureacratized mass of red tape people have to deal with will be completely impossible, but they won't get paid anymore. They are a big slice of the population, but not big enough to actually form a new party
or government. The people working in the private sector paying taxes are also very tired of paying for this circus. Some politicians might try to ride into power promising everyone the world, but
again- the military and police are not going to be effective in squeezing whatever's left to
feed this bunch, and such a government would fall on its own as soon as they fail to make good
on such promises. Getting anything actually done will involve, even more than today, using
personal connections and parallel channels to anything official.

The only real destination for greece is total disintegration, with a couple years of absolute
clogging of the machinery of government in every direction and a return of visible poverty (they've really managed to make the cities look wealthy and you don't realize how little money working
people actually make there just walking around) and all that comes with it. Might be good for them
in the longer term, to get a year or two head start on the adjustment to collapse conditions.

Greece's population is 11 million, Germany's (the most populous European country) 82 million, The EU 500 million people.
Greece's GDP was $357 x 10^9( that's billions), Germany's 3.65 x 10^12 (trillions), the EU as a whole, 18,4 x 10^12(trillions).

More or less as if the USA would go bankrupt and dissappear because Florida is bankrupt. I'd say, impossible, totally.

As to the financial situation of Spain is better than that of almost any other European country, better than the UK, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Holland. Of course, finances are not the only thing, the unemployment situation in Spain is bad because of the property bubble.

Zapatero, rotating president of the EU during the next six months has said that no way Greece would be left alone to fight this problem.

The racism and envy of the Northern Europeans, whom we Spaniards jokingly call "the Barbarians of the North", continue to amuse us.
You will see Spain go down in a year of Sundays !
You better watch out after your own countries, especially some island I won't name but which is sinking into the sea like mythic Atlantis.

Consider why bailout or default will not happen for greece:
The day greece gets a bailout, the next day spain, portugal, italy, will be lined up demanding the same thing. It will
not be possible to say no if they just said yes- and brussels,
the ecb, the germans, they are not going to step into that trap.
next choice, greece unilaterally defaults. This terrifies a
lot of players. If greece defaults, first they won't suffer a
currency crisis punishment, because theyre on the euro. The
govt won't be able to borrow any more money for the forseeable future, but guess what, the service on debt is already eating a very big portion of the budget, and any government with the
resolve to default on the debt will also have the resolve to balance the budgets of what remains. and then the other PIGS
will see that the greeks got away with it and they might
do the same thing? no, that is also unacceptable to the
ruling classes. Think who owns most of these debts and wants
to get paid. So greece cannot default, and any politician who
gets too close to that will find some kind of scandal (greece
has a new one every month, it's almost the national sport) and he will be out.

The important thing is not the size of the greek economy
versus germany, or even the size of the government debt (which
is bigger than GDP). The important thing is that half of the rest of the euro zone is in the same condition and greece just
happens to be playing chicken at the head of the line.

So since there will be no bailout, and they will not default,
what happens?
the short answer is that somehow, folks in brussels & germany
will find a way for the money to keep flowing for the time
being to postpone doing anything or making any tough decisions.
What might possibly be done to square this debt in a way that
doesnt threaten to crash the whole house of cards?

In the streets, the mob makes an example every once in a
while out of someone who owed too much money, to make sure
everyone else pays. Does Brussels have the means, the nerve,
the legal authority, or the political guts to attack greece
to send a message to others? certainly not. The population
of european countries already thinks the EU is a despotic
imperial institution. There might be enough people, even politicians, with enough backbone left that if the EU were to use force on a member, the rest of the EU would come apart.

So, forget about direct intervention with force.

What about indirect manipulation? Perhaps a government could be installed to plunder what's left of the country to pay the debts? Alas, such a government in greece would lack the one ingredient needed to carry this out- the ability to use brutal force on the population at will. Greek forces cannot be relied on to attack their countrymen. (and this is a good thing!)
Such a 'caretaker' government, as it would be called, would
fall as soon as they either did order the army to enforce
some looting, or as soon as they hesitated to order the army
to. either way, it would end pretty badly for whatever
government tries to loot the country.

so, forget about that option.

What about heavily discounting debt and some programme of
selling greek assets (phone and power companies, highways, various concessions, etc) to international corporations?
All told, that will amount to a serious markdown. The international bankers and brussels might have to settle for
this, but this will also send a message to the other PIGS that
they can pay back pennies on the dollar and throw in some
ultimately unimportant provincial expressways and airports and maybe a power company. Anybody want the postal service?

The 'investors' dont want to see this happen but this is
about the only thing that can happen-
and regardless of whether or not this does, greece will not
be able to borrow enough money to keep the existing system functioning. It will disintegrate, and in a way that makes the
country, from a goevrmental, bureacratic, procedural, and legal point of view, completely nonfunctional.

Again, if greece was the only one with such issues and the rest of the EU was in good shape, then there would be no threat. But the rest of EU is in just as bad shape, and Greece is just the one at the front of the line right now.

Ultimately the idea of a renewed pan-european empire just makes no sense (except to the wild ambitions of politicians and the greed of big multinationals), and supporting this huge beast has to come from somewhere. The receding resources available throughout the economy manifests itself in many ways. Empires falling apart is one of them.

zuri -- Risky bonds certainly do draw lots of attention when they start upping the rate. I watched first hand as a group I dealt with bought a $100 million bond with an 11% rate. Hard to pass up on that. Had a number of folks mad because they got squeezed out of the deal. BTW the company flopped and those folks got $47 million back for their bond.

Every risky bond draws buyers when the rate gets high enough. Greed will over come risk aversion every day in my experience. BTW, while meeting on other matters the bond buyer ring leader jumped on me about the failure. I had been carrying a copy of my recommendation in my pocket for weeks waiting for this to happen. Slapped it on the table in front of him. After reading he said "Yeah....I know. But I thought you were just being negative". I still don't know how to interpret that statement. Oh...and I was a VP of the company selling that bond. But heck, what would I know. LOL. Greed really does make the world go around and around at times.

EOS -- You mean like the story I just read about V8 SUV sales are on a rebound now that our energy problems are behind us. LOL.

This guy is expecting another stock market crash and debt crisis.

The NY Times is going to start charging for their content.

Sounds like it's going to be like the Financial Times. You get to view a certain number of articles for free, then you have to pay or you're cut off.

It's easy to get around the FT.com limit; just delete the FT cookie. I wonder if the Times' system will be similar.

New Scientist went to a similar system (3 articles, then pay). I have stopped going to New Scientist. The BBC Science section has virtually the same articles at the same time.

Good luck NYT. We'll see how it shakes out...

sgage -- maybe the NYT is getting advice from the same folks who advised NBC to switch their late night format around.

Good one, RM!

I think we'll be using NBC as a convenient tool to lambast many future poor decisions. The scary thing is that I'm sure these aren't really stupid people. But they bought into someone's model/theory/forecast. And collectively thought it was a good idea. Makes one question some of the "good ideas" we carry with us daily.

Maybe there just aren't many good ideas left.

"Peak Good Ideas"

Well, RM, I don't think these or those people are particularly stupid. The problem is that people, even rather smart people, seem to feel that there is a "solution" to the "problem". I.e., getting back to BAU as quickly as possible, with no changes to the non-negotiable lifestyle. Uh-oh!

We're in a deep hole, clearly the solution is to dig harder!

We're in a deep hole, clearly the solution is to dig harder!

As it always has been. It seems to be almost impossible to get it through human's thick skulls, that "If youre in a hole STOP digging". I submit that our species should be renamed Homo-moronis. There is clearly no sapience for the vast majority.

Yes. I got hit with the New Scientist's new system, and have responded as you did. I have always been a bit suspicious of anything in NS that isn't corroborated by a more reputable source. They seem to like flashy startling headlines that you are attracted to, because if the statement were true it would be really amazing and revolutionary, but they rarely pan out. The current IPCC glacier flap got started with a NS article that made the unsubstantiated claim about ALL the glaciers vanishing in 35years. It got uncritcally copied into an obscure part of the IPCC report. It is said to be an unimportant part of the findings, and didn't contribute to the conclusions, but having to retract it -because it was never peer reviewed is embarrasing.

Re: Neb. Corn Board speaks out against LCFS, up top.

CARB strikes again:


today's comments have a good mix up. i like that.
and so the die off begins....
"The return of the snow comes as figures showed more than 11,000 pensioners died in just one week during the Big Chill earlier this month."
did i mention die off? yes, i did. die off.

and more to come....
"At least 70 percent of southwest Florida’s winter crop of vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, were destroyed by freezing weather, said Gene McAvoy, the director of the Hendry County extension office for the University of Florida."

and even more doom!!!!
"A deep freeze in the shallow waters of Florida Bay and Everglades took a heavy toll on snook and other native fish."

yes, there is oil on mars, either form life byproduct or abiotic.
let's build fleets of space ships and go get it!

titan, a moon of saturn, covered in hydrocarbons. IT HAS LAKES OF METHANE!!!!!!!!! what say you oil conundrummers?

"it's all good"

Humbaba, the weather in Florida has been ridiculous. I have never seen anything like this, the fish populations have absolutely been devastated. I was speaking to my neighbor who works for one of the largest tomato growers in the state. The temperature went down to 26 degrees for about 8 hours and wiped out the crops (this is in South Florida).

yes, there is oil on mars, either form life byproduct or abiotic.
let's build fleets of space ships and go get it!

Two thoughts on that.

Two, peak oxygen to combine with extraterrestrial fuel means even more CO2 in earth's atmosphere ...right?


RE "Kurt Cobb - Biophysical Economics: Putting Energy at the Center"

I'm really sick of articles like this. He argues growth cannot continue to be exponential forever, which is stating the obvious. Therefore we must "hit the wall" on fossil fuel. Now I look forward to peak oil and peak lots of other things, because frankly I'd like to live on a cleaner, less densely populated planet. But none of these writers ever consider the huge solar energy potential that mankind barely touches.

How about more scientific thinking, and less jumping to conclusions and hand waving? At least authors cited could be humble enough to admit they can't predict the future.

I agree with you about the generalities and hand-waving. Cobb has been writing the same thing for quite awhile. I would go loopy if I didn't try to stretch the boundaries of science and present some new ideas.

just a comment about the "dead" volt

people have been buying cars that cost them way more for the period of ownership than other cars *cough* Suv's *cough*. so irrational spendingis a very present and potent market force. don't discard it. also, you can't put a price on a "feel-good" sentiment.

After carefully reading that article on the Volt, had3z, I actually agree he may be on to something. In particular, because of this quote:

”Lithium-ion batteries degrade substantially in just a few years. Owners will face decreasing range and, ultimately, the need to replace and recycle the car’s giant, expensive battery.”—Nick Tredennick

Provided that statement is true, then it could fizzle. Just imagine you've paid a big wad of money for a Volt, then two years down the road the range and pick up of the vehicle is greatly reduced, and the alternative to get back that spunk is to shell out more big bucks for new batteries. It would be a deal killer for that make.

It's probably a smart tactic to watch and wait to see how the owners of Volts feel about them in 2-4 years. My Father who was a mechanical engineer says the first two years of any new model always have bugs to be worked out, but in this case it's a whole new make! So buyer beware.

Without the internal combustion engine, the car is dead. Alternate power strategies are doomed to failure. But that won't stop us from spending a lot of money to prove it.