Drumbeat: February 6, 2010

OIL FUTURES: Oil Drops Steeply, Breaking Key Support Level

Crude oil futures fell sharply for the second day in a row Friday after breaking through a key support level that traders had been watching for a sign of whether the energy markets would continue to trend lower. The drop in crude prices spurred losses for other commodities, which worsened as the U.S. dollar gained strength.

Crude futures, which had been little changed throughout the morning after the release of anxiously awaited U.S. jobs data, fell below their January low of $72.43, which triggered further selling that pushed the benchmark March contract below $70 for the first time since mid December. Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled down 2.7% at $71.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange closed down 3.8% at $69.36 a barrel.

"Instead of the news making the price, it's the price making the news," said Tim Evans, an analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York. Evans said it was clear that crude's drop to a session low of $69.50 was triggered by a glut of pre-programmed orders to sell oil if it broke significantly below the January low support level.

When oil or any other financial asset marks a particular low price repeatedly, traders refer to it as a "support level," because it indicates that there are lots of buyers willing to buy at that level, often using pre-programmed trading strategies. But when an asset falls through a key support level - as oil did Friday - it indicates many buyers are no longer interested in buying at that price, triggering a sharp drop to the next support level down. For oil, this is around $70 a barrel.

Gazprom to delay Shtokman gas project three years

State-run Russian energy giant Gazprom will delay development of the giant Shtokman gas field in northern Russia by three years because of "changes in the market situation," shareholders said Friday.

Pipeline gas production is expected to start in 2016 while liquified natural gas production should begin in 2017, after final investment decisions in 2011, a statement issued by shareholders said.

Gazprom's original plan called for production, estimated at 23.7 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year, to begin in 2013.

Cnooc To Sign $2.5 Bln Deal With Tullow - Sources

Cnooc Ltd. (CEO) has agreed to buy a stake in the Ugandan oil assets of Tullow Oil PLC (TLW.LN) for US$2.5 billion, people with direct knowledge of the deal told Dow Jones Newswires on Friday.

The deal--due to be signed later Friday in London--strengthens the foothold of Chinese companies in East Africa's energy sector. Cnooc is exploring for crude oil in neighboring Kenya, while China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp. have major producing oil assets in Sudan.

Endless Oil: Peak Production vs. Oil Price

"Endless Oil” is the title of a piece in BusinessWeek (Jan, 18, 2010) that was written by Stanley Reed. It was interesting for me because I remember a time when BusinessWeek would not have published a tissue of nonsense like that article. Perhaps even more important, I was surprised when I saw the names of some of the persons whose opinions were cited. All I can say is that my dream tonight might involve encountering them in a seminar room or conference; then they would find out the true state of the world oil economy.

Let me begin with the narrative that all of my energy economics students must know perfectly after my second lecture. The Russian oil output is probably close to peaking, and in any event the director of one of the largest Russian firms says that his country will never produce more than 10 million barrels per day (= 10mb/d). This number may be slightly wrong, but it happens to be one-tenth of the amount (= 100 mb/d) that the present CEO of Total (the French oil major) says is the absolute maximum for world production. (Another Total executive recently suggested 95 mb/d).

Iran May Be Near Uranium Deal

Iran might be close to a deal to have uranium enriched abroad, the country’s foreign minister said Friday. But he proposed a condition that might not be acceptable to the United States and other governments that have been trying to negotiate a compromise over Iran’s nuclear program.

Under such an agreement, Iran would send low-enriched uranium to the West and receive higher-grade uranium in return for use in a reactor that would produce isotopes for medical use.

Baker Hughes: US Oil, Gas Rig Count Up 18 To 1,335 This Week

The number of rigs drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. climbed this week as producers continued to ramp up output amid higher prices.

The number of oil and gas rigs rose to 1,335, up 18 rigs from the previous week, according to data from oil-field services company Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI). The number of gas rigs was 878, an increase of 17 rigs from last week, while the oil rig count was 445, an increase of one rig. The number of miscellaneous rigs was unchanged at 12 rigs.

FACTBOX-Nigerian crude oil production outages

Nigeria has at least 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil shut in, more than 25 percent of its capacity, mainly due to sabotage attacks on oil facilities, according to oil companies and industry sources.

Petrobras CEO: Peak Oil Production is Now

On Thursday, the energy blog TheOilDrum.com reported on a December 2009 presentation by Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli in which he estimated that world oil production would peak this year. Gabrielli, head of Brazil’s national oil company, joined the ranks of other international oil honchos, including former Aramco executive Sadad al-Husseini and Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie, in stating that the level of global oil production cannot keep pace with growing demand. The logical result of this trend is oil scarcity that will lead to quickly rising crude prices in the next few years.

An Interesting Presentation by Petrobras CEO

Sergio Gabrielli gave a presentation in December of last year on the topic of future oil production. His work showed a peak in 2010, the same year M. Hubert predicted it. Whether peak oil is real remains to be seen but this is the first big company I have seen predicting it before 2017 (BP's prediction), although Chevron has made noises about everything relating to peak oil, except the topic itself (to my knowledge their official prediction is 2020 or 2030).

In any case, I can't get a copy of the presentation in english and the best I can do is the writeup of what he said on the oil drum, so if you want to read the most dire predictions and implications of his talk, you can here. Personally, I am more interested in the charts, which are below (these are ones used in his presentation but translated to english):

The Quiet Energy Revolution

Two monumental shifts in the world of energy are underway right now: one technological, the other financial. They will change the way we power our lives (especially our cars), provide a real measure of energy security, and help curb greenhouse gas emissions. Neither shift has anything to do with the turn to a green renewable energy economy promised by President Obama. Physics ensures that will never happen, no matter how much wishful thinking (and government subsidy) is applied. Sorry, greens, carbon-based energy will continue to dominate our energy future, not windmills or solar panels.

The first profound shift was made possible by a little-noticed technological breakthrough in the last three years that has changed the way we extract natural gas. . .

The chief obstacle to developing a natural gas infrastructure capable of supplying service stations and highway rest stops is regulatory. If that is removed—and here we do need government action—we could expect to see trucks, buses, and cars running on natural gas in a relatively short period of time. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be considerable.

Banks Lured By ‘Sexy’ Solar, Wind Energy Projects

About 30 banks including BNP Paribas SA and Rabobank Nederland NV are being lured back into financing “sexy” U.S. renewable energy projects following an $80 billion government investment in the industry, a project manager said.

Debt financing may return to the 2008 level of about $6 billion in 2010, after falling to $3.2 billion last year, as banks lend more to wind and solar energy projects in the U.S., said Bruno Mejean, a managing director in New York at Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale AG, a state-owned German lender.

U.S. refiners brace for Mid-Atlantic blizzard

U.S. oil refiners were activating hazardous weather contingency plans at their East Coast refineries on Friday as a paralyzing major snowstorm took aim at the Mid-Atlantic region.

"Our Paulsboro refinery is making preparations, but has not reported any impacts to production," said Bill Day, a spokesman for leading refiner Valero Energy Corp. (VLO.N).

Valero's 195,000 barrel per day Paulsboro plant in New Jersey was among regional refineries potentially in the storm's cross hairs.

Tesoro CEO says expects more refinery closures

Tesoro Corp (TSO.N) Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce Smith said on Wednesday he expected that more U.S. refineries will close in 2010 and may include plants operated by major oil companies.

"I think you will see more closures," Smith said in a webcast of a presentation to the Credit Suisse Energy Conference in Vail, Colorado. "I think we'll even see some majors."

SEC Issues Guidance On Companies' Climate-Change Disclosures

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has provided public companies with interpretive guidance on existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to business or legal developments relating to the issue of climate change.

Specifically, the SEC's interpretative guidance highlights the following areas as examples of where climate change may trigger disclosure requirements:

- Impact of legislation and regulation. . .
- Impact of international accords. . .
- Indirect consequences of regulation or business trends. . .

Climate scepticism 'on the rise', BBC poll shows

The number of British people who are sceptical about climate change is rising, a poll for BBC News suggests.

Ballot measure targets Calif. climate-change law

Supporters of an effort to suspend California's landmark greenhouse gas law are now able to collect signatures to get a measure on the statewide ballot, officials said.

The measure championed by Republican state Assemblyman Dan Logue would suspend the state law that set increasingly stringent caps on greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a 25 percent reduction by 2020.

The proposed ballot measure would put the climate change law on hold until California's beleaguered economy improves.

Study: Stronger National Renewable Energy Standard Needed For Significant Clean Energy Job Growth

The Job Impacts of a National Renewable Electricity Standard study, conducted by independent firm Navigant Consulting Inc. and released by the RES Alliance for Jobs, found that a 25% by 2025 national RES would support an additional 274,000 renewable energy jobs over a no-national-policy option. This total is also significantly higher than the expected jobs supported in the current House and Senate provisions under consideration in Congress, according to the RES Alliance for Jobs.

In addition, the study found that without stronger near-term targets than currently envisioned, industries like wind will experience flat job growth and long-term stagnation, while the U.S. biomass industry could collapse altogether. The RES Alliance recommends raising near-term RES targets in federal legislation to 12% by 2014 and 20% by 2020.

The study emphasizes that while tax credits continue to play a critically important role in preserving the viability of existing facilities, an RES is needed in order to support both near- and long-term investments.

Proposal to tax wind power stirs debate

Under the proposal, which may be introduced during the legislative budget session that starts next week, wind energy producers would be taxed $3 per megawatt hour — a rate comparable to about a 5 percent severance tax on minerals. The revenue would be split 60-40 between the state and local governments respectively.

Freudenthal said the generation tax was a matter of fairness, because unlike the coal, oil and natural gas industries, the wind energy industry doesn’t have to pay severance taxes.

“It’s a business, and as such should be subject to the same expectations of every other business,” he said.

Heroux-Devtek sees promise of wind energy despite lower short-term sales

Wind energy projects, which are being built or planned across Canada and in other countries, remain constrained in the short-term by the lack of transmission infrastructure and tight credit markets.

"However, we remain very much committed to that sector given its huge potential as industrialized nations seek to increase their exposure to clean energy sources," Labbe told analysts.

25 Percent of U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Are Leaking Radioactive Chemicals

Would you like a little radioactive tritium with your water?

As far fetched as it sounds, the Associated Press recently reported that at least 27 of 104 nuclear reactors across the United States are leaking potentially dangerous levels of tritium into the groundwater around the plants.

The scope of the problem surfaced after the recent discovery of a leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. According to the AP, new tests have shown that the levels of tritium in the wells at the Vernon, Vermont site are more than three-and-a-half times the federal safety standard.

So is it as bad as it sounds? That's up for debate.

U.S. Energy Dept cancels surplus uranium transfers

The U.S. Energy Department has canceled plans to put into the market during 2011 extra government-owned surplus uranium supplies, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress on Thursday, but the uranium transfers will continue for this year.

The department had planned to transfer next year up to 1,125 tonnes, or about 2.48 million lbs, of its surplus uranium a year to raise money to pay for the cleanup of the Portsmouth uranium enrichment plant in Ohio. . .

Not only would business be taken away from domestic uranium producers, but the additional government supplies in the market could have depressed prices, making it difficult for producers to expand operations.

Mining Company Grupo Mexico Buys Oil Drilling Firm For $240 Million

Mexican copper mining and railroad company Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICO.MX) said Friday that it bought oil drilling services company Compañía Perforadora Mexico SA, or Pemsa, for $240 million.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report, Grupo Mexico said the acquisition "is aligned with our strategy to increase our participation in the infrastructure sector."

Mexico State Oil Monopoly Pemex Sells MXN15 Billion In Bonds

Mexico's state oil monopoly, Petroleos Mexicanos, said Thursday that it sold bonds for 15 billion pesos ($1.14 billion) in three tranches.

In a press release, Pemex, as the company is known, said it placed MXN8 billion in five-year bonds at a spread of 70 basis points over the benchmark 28-day TIIE interbank rate.

It also sold MXN5 billion in 10-year bonds at a fixed rate of 9.1% and about MXN2 billion in 10-year bonds denominated in inflation indexed UDIs that yield a fixed 4.2%.

Mexico shuts two oil ports due to weather

Two of Mexico's main oil ports in the Gulf of Mexico were closed on Sunday due to poor weather, the government said.

Mexico, a major oil supplier to the United States, shut the Coatzacoalcos and Dos Bocas oil export terminals, the communications and transport ministry said in a statement.

Russia resumes oil flows to Kazakh refineries

Russian oil firms have resumed oil shipments to Kazakhstan after the Federal Customs Service abolished an oil export duty levied on crude supplies to Kazakh refineries from Feb. 1, industry sources said on Friday.

Serbia, Gazprom sign deal for South Stream storage

Serbian gas monopoly Srbijagas and Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) signed a deal on Friday formally creating a joint venture to manage a major underground gas storage as part of the future South Stream pipeline. . . . .

The storage will be a part of a wider Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline project that has been designed to bypass Ukraine to transport Russian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and onwards to Serbia and Europe.

Oil Output Swells 2.8% As Rosneft Pumps More

Production grew to 10.04 million barrels a day, the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit said in an e-mailed statement. Oil output was down slightly from December, when the country produced 10.05 million barrels a day.

Producers exported 4.78 million barrels of oil a day to countries outside the former Soviet Union, a decline of 0.5 percent from a year earlier and 1.4 percent from December. Total exports were 5.22 million barrels a day, excluding supplies to Belarus, for which CDU-TEK said it didn’t have data.

Halliburton May Gain From Norway’s Oil Spending Push

The government is urging producers such as state-controlled Statoil ASA and ConocoPhillips to improve recovery rates from the country’s oil deposits. Output has almost halved in the past decade after 40 years of pumping oil and natural gas from fields such as Ekofisk, Oseberg and Troll.

Statoil aims to spend 8 billion kroner ($1.4 billion) on upgrading installations this year, while Conoco is planning more platforms at Ekofisk, Norway’s largest oilfield. The Petroleum Directorate estimates 54 percent of crude in existing fields may be left underground if companies fail to improve recovery by speeding up drilling for harder-to-reach deposits.

Energy regulatory body hikes wind power tariff

The Gujarat Energy Regulatory Commission (GERC) has hiked the tariff for procurement of power generated from wind energy sources to Rs 3.56 per unit from earlier 3.37 per unit. This is a second order in a row where the regulator has supported the non-conventional energy players.

Utilities seek long-term green deals

For the first time, the state’s major power companies will make long-term commitments to buy green energy like wind and solar power. The four investor-owned utilities in Massachusetts - National Grid, NStar, Western Massachusetts Electric Co., and Unitil Corp. - are soliciting bids from producers of energy from renewable resources. Bidders have until Feb. 19 to submit proposals for 10- to 15-year contracts to sell power to the utilities, which do not make their own power, but rather buy and distribute it.

Wind Power in Europe Grows, but Credit Remains Tight

For the second year in a row, more wind power capacity was installed in the European Union than any other power technology, according to data compiled by the European Wind Energy Association.

The association reported that 39 percent of all new capacity installed last year was wind power. Runners-up were natural gas, which accounted for 26 percent of new capacity, and solar photovoltaics, which accounted for 16 percent.

CEZ To Sell Its Chvaletice 800MW Coal-Fired Power Plant

Czech power company CEZ AS (BAACEZ.PR) Friday said it has transferred its Chvaletice power plant into a separate joint stock company for its likely sale.

The coal-fired, 800 megawatt plant faces rising costs for fuel supplies and carbon emissions and isn't near any coal mines. As such, it is one of the most expensive power plants CEZ operates

Pa. wants last Centralia holdouts gone as town's coal mine fire, ignited in 1962, smolders on

After years of delay, state officials are now trying to complete the demolition of Centralia, a borough in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania that all but ceased to exist in the 1980s after the mine fire spread beneath homes and businesses, threatening residents with poisonous gases and dangerous sinkholes.

More than 1,000 people moved out, and 500 structures were razed under a $42 million federal relocation program.

North Energy rings bell on debut

North Energy, which has its headquarters in Alta, is focusing on Norway's northern play and already boasts a small but high-profile portfolio.

Reserve Potential Remains Positive in Norwegian North Sea

Five countries bordering the North Sea produce oil in its waters. The British and Norwegian sections are believed to hold the largest North Sea oil reserves. Experts estimate that the Norwegian sector contains about 55% of the North Sea's oil reserves and 45% of its gas reserves.

AWEL Looking for Jackup to Drill Offshore Mumbai Block

Adani Welspun Exploration Limited (AWEL), the Indian based independent Oil and Gas E & P company with assets in India, Thailand and Egypt, is planning to drill in January, 2011 in its Mumbai offshore Block MB-OSN-2005/2, situated on the west coast of India

No proposal to takeover ONGC's Assam fields

State-owned Oil India today said it will look at taking over Oil and Natural Gas Corp's Assam oilfields when an offer is made and will decide on the acquisition after due diligence. In a statement, OIL said there was no directive from the government to it to take over ONGC's Assam oilfields.

Severe ice situation costs Finland dear

The current severe ice situation will cost Finland dearly, as large masses of ice have packed together in the Gulf of Finland. Many cargo vessels have been forced to wait for several hours for icebreakers to assist them, sometimes even for a whole day. Moreover, the Nordlandia, an Eckerö Line ferry carrying hundreds of passengers, also got stuck in the ice at the end of January, having to wait for help for several hours. . . . . . The daily rate for the use of one icebreaker including fuel will be EUR 10,000 to 20,000.

Bodies of miners killed at coalmine in Luhansk region recovered

The bodies of three miners who died at a former coalmine in Luhansk region have been brought to the surface, and another miner died en route to hospital, the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry's press service reported on Feb. 5. A gas explosion occurred at a disused coalmine, No. 153 in the town of Krasny Luch in Luhansk region, at a depth of 980 meters during unauthorized work to extract coal.

Ukraine poll may deliver oil to Europe

Ukraine's run-off election between Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and rival Viktor Yanukovich, to be held on Sunday, may decide the future of a pipeline that could be used to deliver Caspian Sea oil to Europe, bypassing both Russia and Turkey. The pipeline was originally intended to carry crude oil originating in Azerbaijan in an east-to-west direction from terminals at the Black Sea Ukrainian port of Odessa to Brody, near Ukraine's border with Poland. In 2004, after Ukraine built the pipeline, it was decided for reasons discussed below to instead send Russian oil in the reverse of the originally intended direction, that is, from the southern branch of Russia's Druzhba pipeline and then northwest-to-southeast domestically within Ukraine. The possibility of again reversing the direction of oil flow, so that the fuel it carried would supply Europe as originally intended, was discussed last month.

Turkey believes Azerbaijan would accept natural gas price proposal - energy minister

Turkey believes that Azerbaijan will agree to the proposed price for natural gas from Shah Deniz field, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reported."We have offered a reasonable price (for natural gas from Shah Deniz) to Azerbaijan and our offer has been accepted," said Yildiz.

Strong demand for LNG set to make Qatar a leading player

Global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to remain strong in the medium to long term, thus making Qatar a vital player in the global energy security, according to Shell. “In spite of a short-term dip in demand due to the global financial crisis, global demand for LNG is expected to remain strong in the medium to long term,” Qatar Shell vice president Wael Sawan (pictured) told the Chatham House in London.

Recurrent Energy, California utility in solar pact

Solar power company Recurrent Energy said on Tuesday it signed long-term power contracts with California utility Southern California Edison for electricity generated by 50 megawatts of small-scale solar power systems. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Maine Poised For Green Energy Future?

A top U.S. Department of Energy official says green jobs could help lead the country and Maine out of the recession. David Sandalow, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy met with business and enviromental leaders Thursday. He says Maine is poised to benefit from proposals supporting increased biofuel and ethanol production. Those programs could be a boost to the state's forestry and papermaking industries which are currently suffering.

Slipping energy sales lead developer to drop out of ISO New England queue

Citing a lack of demand for additional energy generating stations, Joe Fitzpatrick, CEO of DG Clean Power, has announced a plan to build a peaking power plant in Billerica has been removed from a list of proposals. Fitzpatrick said the proposal for the Billerica Energy Center, a 384-megawatt peaking plant slated to be built in North Billerica, has been taken off a queue of projects organized by ISO New England. Fitzpatrick said based on the current market, there is simply no demand for additional facilities.

Obama's New Nuke Plant Plans Stir Old Fears Over Waste Storage

President Obama is calling for $54 billion in loan guarantees for a "new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants." His administration also announced this week that it is dropping plans for underground storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The position is drawing mixed reactions from around the country, including Maine, where waste from the decommissioned Maine Yankee plant will have to stay for the indefinite future, and in the rest of New England where nuclear power already makes up about 30 percent of the region's energy supply.

Palmer annouces Australia's "biggest" export deal with China

MINING magnate Clive Palmer says his company has secured Australia's biggest export deal with a $A69.39 billion agreement to sell coal to China.The Resourcehouse chairman on Saturday said the company's proposed China First coal mine and infrastructure project in central Queensland had reached a 20-year agreement with one of China's largest power companies, China Power International Development, the flagship company of China Power Investment Corporation (CPI).


Big winds were blowing, fast wheels were spinning, and good grades were flowing for renewable energy this week. Early in the week it was announced that global wind power increased 31% in 2009. Although this growth was spurred by the European Union, United States and China, it was not limited to the industrial giants. Turkey, Chile, and Morocco each increased their capacity by at least 30%.

Gloom mining towns are boom towns thanks to housing frenzy

THE world's unquenchable thirst for energy has come to the rescue of the dying towns of southern Queensland. Chinchilla, Wandoan and Dalby are now in the middle of a housing boom that developers say is not just a once-in-a- lifetime but a once-ever opportunity that will see the population of the three towns double within the next five years. Wild estimates of investment topping $100 billion are thrown about by locals, and wages for the lucky ones will easily exceed $100,000 in towns where unemployment is already below 2 per cent.

Many thanks to Dave Summers (Heading Out) who has been providing many of these stories.

Ah ha! that explains the slight AGW denial in the mix.

True, but we must understand he is an engineer, and one solves problems as an engineer by moving dirt, and building machines.

An engineer provides solutions within defined parameters.

Actually I suppose I am an experimentalist research engineer/scientist. (Or at least I was). Basically what that has meant over the years is that I have had to accept what the data is telling me, despite the theories that I might have previously proposed to describe something. (And believe me my research group could embarrass me for hours with tales of some of those that I got wrong).

Had you read what I have written in the past you would know that I never said that the world was not getting warmer. Given that at the depth of the Little Ice Age (which is copiously validated around the world with peer-reviewed documentation) the globe was cooler than it has been in at least 5,000 and perhaps 10,000 years we can breath a sigh of relief that it has been warming for the last 150 years or more. It is just that, given the evidence (admitted by some of the "Hockey Team") that it was warmer in the Medieval Warming Period and that AGW is only supposed to have kicked in within the last thirty years or so, I need a whole lot more evidence than has been produced to date to change from being a skeptic.

If the considered judgment of some 98% of published climatologists is not sufficient for you, I'm not sure what is going to convince you.

If the considered judgment of some 98% of published climatologists is not sufficient for you, I'm not sure what is going to convince you.

Don't exaggerate. About 90% of them believe in global warming, and about 80% of them believe that global warming is caused by human beings. 98% is a ridiculous number. You will never get 98% of scientists to agree that the sun rises in the east or that up is higher than down. It's like herding cats.

The bigger problem is that only 47% of petroleum geologists believe in anthropomorphic global warming. You will probably find more of them who believe that global warming was caused by dinosaur flatulence.

The point about petroleum geologists is enormously un-surprising. When your paycheck depends on denial, your are likely to deny.

My deepest apologies about my other vast exaggeration. You are absolutely right. It was less than 98%. It was in fact 97%.


"97% of climatologists say global warming is occurring and caused by humans"

Please accept my most humble apologies for this wild over-statement.

You need to read beyond the headline. What that article says is,

A new poll among 3,146 earth scientists found that 90 percent believe global warming is real, while 82 percent agree that human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

which is similar to the numbers I read elsewhere.

Now, the thing about the climatologists is that they are getting paid to study climate change. If there was no climate change, there would be a lot fewer jobs for them, so naturally they believe in it.

Other interesting information in the article:

The biggest doubters were petroleum geologists (47 percent) and meteorologists (64 percent).

The meteorologists are the interesting group. However, I know where the geologists are coming from. They are studying oil from formations which were laid down when the Earth was a lot warmer than today (as much as 25 C). Sea levels also were a lot higher than today, and the interior of the continent was flooded all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. So they tend to look on current changes as being nothing by comparison with what mother nature will do on its own without any human input.

The dispute was whether it was 90% or 98% of climatologists, the article states 97% of climatologists and 90% of earth scientists. Climatologists may be a subset of earth scientists, but the two terms are not interchangeable.

Hey, give him a break. He lost, so of course he wants to change the subject--a very understandable strategy.

My favorite nonsense/non-sequitur was "climatologists is that they are getting paid to study climate change."

So apparently no one would be studying climate if it weren't for AGW!? What a jokester. Fun to laugh at; not worth exchanging words with any further.

Now, the thing about the climatologists is that they are getting paid to study climate change.

Strange that you assign the money motive only to climatologists (money).

The same money motive exists for petroleum geologists that exists for the climate scientists. Lets try to apply your statement to the petroleum geologists: "They get paid to study and extract fossil fuels. If the policy makers act on the knowledge of climate scientists, there would be a lot fewer jobs for petroleum geologists, so naturally they disbelieve in it."

Yup. Carries the same weight as your quoted statement about the money motives of climate scientists.

There's some deep pockets there too among the AGW skeptics. One would think some state of the art research could be funded, such as empirical support for the notion we are not warming as opposed to discrediting research in the eyes of the public that suggest we are. The focus instead seems to be on things like e-mail hacks.

Strange that you assign the money motive only to climatologists (money).

No, but everybody is motivated by money to some extent.

The media has discovered that The Energy Research Institute (TERI) which is headed by Rajendra Pachauri, who is also the head of the IPCC, has received millions of dollars to study the effects of glacial melting, i.e. the very thing the IPCC has been making bogus claims about.

Syed Hasnain, the scientist who first made the discredited claim that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035, now heads the glaciology unit at TERI.

These are definite conflicts of interest, and there are others like it being revealed. There have been other major bloopers in the IPCC report that have been identified in the last few days.

The media are all over it like a pack of jackals. Governments are investigating. It's turning into total global warming meltdown.

It is just that, given the evidence (admitted by some of the "Hockey Team") that it was warmer in the Medieval Warming Period and that AGW is only supposed to have kicked in within the last thirty years or so, I need a whole lot more evidence than has been produced to date to change from being a skeptic.

Ok, why don't you start here:


Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick"
Filed under:
* Paleoclimate
— mike @ 4 December 2004 - (Español)
Numerous myths regarding the so-called "hockey stick" reconstruction of past temperatures, can be found on various non-peer reviewed websites, internet newsgroups and other non-scientific venues. The most widespread of these myths are debunked below:

There is a difference between denialism and skepticism:


Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.

Actually I generally start by reading some of the papers, and then, where I can, looking at the data, so that I can make up my own mind. What I have found, along the way, is that those who push the AGW agenda seem more interested in running down the reputations of those who question their stance, rather than becoming involved in a public debate. It has been somewhat disappointing since I know no other discipline where this is the practice at this level of intensity.

Those of us who worked in the field I spent most of my life in were usually encouraged by opposing viewpoints, and one of the fun things was to sit down in the bar after hearing the paper and try and work out experiments that would show who was right.

Oh, and to give you an example, how do you know that you are maintaining cavitation downstream in a water jet flowing at 1,500 ft/sec that is 1 mm in diameter and flowing out of an orifice into free air? (We solved that one over 20 years ago but it was contentious for a while - the reason being that you can, to an extent, get the same sort of damage if the jet breaks up into droplets).

Actually I generally start by reading some of the papers,

If you go to realclimate link I gave above you will find the data and links to peer reviewed papers. Enjoy.

The results of your debate on cavitation will have, at most, a small economic effect. None the less, I would expect that an opinion expressed by an economist on this issue would be greeted by a request for credentials.

The results of your debate on Climate Change will slow, or even prevent, any actions to mitigate our increase in CO2 with results that are [understatement] likely to be catastrophic for humanity and our ecosystem.

The impact of skeptics in slowing and possibly preventing a response are more than adequate reasons to attack intensely.


Which illustrates my point. You would rely on an economist to tell you whether it had any effect. I look at the industry that grew out of those initial experiments and rely on that data instead. (Yes an economist can add up the numbers, but if I take my shoes off I can do arithmetic too). I don't need an economist to tell me, I could see it in growing numbers of companies in the exhibit halls of the conferences, and (to be very mundane) in the change from mechanical routers for cleaning sewers to the high-pressure waterjets that are commonly used today. (See I even supply you with ammo to throw back at me).

Oh, and, gentle cough, that reading includes Mia Tiljander's doctoral dissertation. I believe it is scientifically unacceptable to take information that, as she identifies, clearly shows the presence of a Medieval Warming Period, and invert the data so that it does not. It is further regrettable that those who have used that data erroneously have not all acknowledged that "error" which, as the Climategate e-mails show, they were all aware of.

I understand your need to hide the action, so let me just give a couple of quotes from the Climategate e-mails

The Korttajarvi record was oriented in the reconstruction in the way that McIntyre said. I took a look at the original reference - the temperature proxy we looked at is x-ray density, which the author interprets to be inversely related to temperature. We had higher values as warmer in the reconstruction, so it looks to me like we got it wrong, unless we decided to reinterpret the record which I don't remember. Darrell, does this sound right to you?


Nonetheless, it's unfortunate that I flipped the Korttajarvi data. We used the density data as the temperature proxy, as recommended to me by Antii Ojala (co-author of the original work). It's weakly inversely related to organic matter content. I should have used the inverse of density as the temperature proxy. I probably got confused by the fact that the 20th century shows very high density values and I inadvertently equated that directly with temperature.

As is noted in the dissertation you can't use the modern values because they were disturbed by construction. And, as the dissertation notes, the work that Mia Tildander did that shows the MWP, was corroborated by other Finnish studies. (But then that tells the wrong story does it not?)

What I have found, along the way, is that those who push the AGW agenda seem more interested in running down the reputations of those who question their stance, rather than becoming involved in a public debate.

I understand your need to hide the action, ...

(But then that tells the wrong story does it not?)

I'll let that speak for itself.

If you are implying that I am engaging in an ad hominem attack, I would remind you that there is now a whole file of e-mails that show that yes indeed the cabal that runs the climate debate does and has in the past acted to suppress information that is not aligned with their message. So it is not an ad hominem, but rather a comment on reality.

That is a mis-representation and mis-characterization of the stolen e-Mails. I would write more, but I want to catch the Krewe of Barkus (1,000+ dogs in costume).


Heading Out, there is no such thing! Its all cherry picking and data mining of illegally accessed information that is totally devoid of its original context.


The hacked climate science email scandal that wasn't

Category: climate
Posted on: November 20, 2009 2:51 PM, by James Hrynyshyn, (James Hrynyshyn is a freelance science journalist )

Much is being made by those who really, really believe that there's a global conspiracy among climatologists of the emails and other documents stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. According to such bloggers, thousands of "embarrassing" pieces of correspondence between some of the leading climate researchers in the world now lay bare the scheme to mislead humanity about the nature of climate change.

I downloaded the 62 MB file and took a quick look at a random selection of what are mostly dull little missives bereft of the context required to understand them in any meaningful way. Just as you'd expect from bits and piece of correspondence never intended for public consumption. Next.

What I have found, along the way, is that those who push the AGW agenda seem more interested in running down the reputations of those who question their stance, rather than becoming involved in a public debate.

... yes indeed the cabal that runs the climate debate ...

One of the strange things I have noticed in my years on the internet is the odd way it occasionally acts as a mirror.

Before you make that judgement I would suggest that you take the time to read the Wegman Report, which was the first I believe to draw attention to this. Facts are facts, and taking the time to check them out is generally instructive.

I suppose I should.

I spend more time working with modern surface and atmospheric records and have only recently reached a point where I feel I can add marginally to the discussion.

My understanding of the Wegman Report was that it was requested by Republican Senators after a similar review by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences exonerated Dr. Michael Mann of any scientific misdoings. (Note also the recent UofP review which once again exonerates). The Republican Senators selected Wegman to do a follow-up(?) or independent(?) review of McIntyre's criticisms of Mann,1998. The fact that it was only a Republican request and that it followed the National Academy of Sciences review suggests a partisan political context.

I spend a good deal of reading time on CA. I think that the criticisms of Yamal, for instance, have teeth. Eventually McIntyre is going to have to move beyond trying to destroy the reputations of those he disagrees with and move on to publishing his criticisms in scientific journals. Pot-shots from the blogosphere and Congressional hearings are no way to do science.

I appreciate McIntyre's push for 'open science' and freely available code and data. And I can understand his frustrations at being blocked from that access. But his polarized, aggressive antagonism which he sometimes curbs in his own posts but flourishes in the commentary at his blog does nothing to advance his cause. I've had to 'yank his chain' myself when I've noted him assuming misbehavior where no evidence for it existed.

Once in this nation, reasonable men could have an honest difference of opinion. Now it is all about 'fraud' and 'deceit.' The climate "debate" is polarized. I believe that polarization is deliberate. I notice a lot of 'criticism' of data and methods employed in the 'debate' which is rarely followed by analysis of the effect of that criticism. Did Mann 1998 misuse some statistical methods? Possibly. How did it affect the outcome? To see that you have to return to the NAS review. Similarly, Watts raises some concerns about instrument location but refuses to do an analysis of the effect of that location on the US record. See instead the NOAA analysis.

I recall the first reports of extra-solar planets in the late 1980s. The data resolution was poor. The computer methods skirting perilously close to precision errors in the CPUs. As I recall it, astronomers fell on both sides of the issue of whether these were valid discoveries. Time moved on. Computing got better. Instruments got better. Methods got better. Some extra-solar planets were "proved out." Others "withdrawn." No side accused the other of deliberate deception, of fraud. What is the primary difference between that 'controversy' and the 'climate controversy'? Money.

Dave, I notice that you did not reply to the main issues raised on WMC's blog. One big comment which I noticed was that removing Tildander's time series from the analysis did not change the results in a material way. The MWP may have been a strictly regional event, not a global one. What we appear to be doing now is warming the entire Earth's climate system, not just a single region. I also noticed that my earlier comment was removed. Typical denialist trick that, ignoring criticism in hopes it won't be noticed by the sheeple...

E. Swanson

Um! I don't know what happened to your last e-mail. I did not see it, and I do not make a practice of deleting comments I don't agree with. I have actually never deleted, as best as I can recall, any comment.

OK, this gets just a little complicated. There are two main proxies that were used to derive the temperatures for the MWP in "the hockey stick", one was from the Finnish varves (the Tiljander sediments) and the other was the bristle-cone pine data. Now we know from the e-mails that bristle cone pines don't behave "properly" when the temperature gets too high (potentially due to a sensitivity to ground moisture) . This was, after all, the decline that had to be hidden.

However, if you do the reconstruction and leave the bristle cone pine data in but take the inverted Tiljander data out, then it doesn't make any difference. Similarly if you take the bristle cone pine out and leave the inverted Tiljander data in, then it doesn't make any difference. It is only if you take both these incorrectly used sets of data out that the MWP is restored.

Now the first time one of my grad students got an analysis wrong, and then told me that changing the data didn't change the conclusions was the last time I was willing to even listen to that pathetic excuse for bad work. It is taking me too much time trying to find the exact e-mail where Briffa says that the MWP was warmer, but there is this one that is similar (e-mail 093801824) (my emphasis)

There is still a potential problem with non-linear responses in the very recent period of some biological proxies ( or perhaps a fertilisation through high CO2 or nitrate input) . I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. We don't have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) some unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter. For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago.

And the reason I didn't reply earlier was that a) I had a post to write b) I had to find some citations for today's Drumbeat c) I wanted to start a novel by Modesitt d) I needed a little sleep.

There is now significant literature that has been collated showing that the MWP was not regional but global in nature. And I should state that I believe that I first read the explanation for the Tiljander/pine cone situation on Climate Audit. And I also do visit RealClimate on occasion (they don't post there every day).

One note about bristlecone pines (the ONLY tree that will grow in the Icelandic Highlands).

They are fairly stupid trees (good for highly variable Icelandic weather). They wake up, grow for 6 weeks and then shut down for the winter. Not sensitive to climatic conditions (except during those 6 weeks).


PS: I am the only non-Icelandic member of the Icelandic tree growing club (devoted to bringing new species to trial in Iceland). ATM, I am looking for more seed from sugar pines above 10,000' in the San Bernadino Mts.

I am debating whether to bequest my estate to planting bristlecone pines in Iceland as a long term carbon sequestration. More likely is Hekla skogar.

Yes, there are some studies which point to a MWP. And, some of those studies, such as the Soon and Balinuas (2003) paper, have deep flaws.

There's a list of 500 scientific publications (and an earlier version with 450) going around the web which are claimed to be papers showing that AGW isn't a problem. I just ran across the list last night and noticed the link on Inhofe's Senate site. By the time the list had grown to 500, the headline claimed that the reports to be peer reviewed, whereas the earlier version did not make that absurd claim. Here are comments regarding the veracity of some of those papers and publications. Here's a comment suggesting that more than half the list comes from E&E...

The first paper on the list of 500 is Craig Loehle's 2007 debacle. The second on the list is his reply to the commentary which I wrote pointing out now bad his work was. They didn't mention my commentary, at least, not near the top of the pile. (I must admit that I haven't looked at Loehle's reply, since E&E wants an exorbitant amount for an electronic copy)...

Dave, I hope you haven't been blinded by the propaganda from the disinformation machine the Rethugs have setup...

E. Swanson

You might note that although I got the sense that there was something wrong from Climate Audit, I did go away and get Mia Tiljander's dissertation and read it so that I could understand what the debate was all about. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer to make up my own mind.

It is difficult not to get caught up in the climate controversies since the impact of some of the legislation is likely to impact energy supplies, perhaps sooner rather than later. It is the other side of the "precautionary Principle" that folk don't seem to recognize.

At the risk of getting attacked for an ad hom( oh why not), geology seems to have a lot more GW skeptics than other physical science disciplines.

Exaggerated skepticism is perhaps an occupational hazard--the result of exposure to snake oil and fool's gold? ;-)

And geologists are not particularly good at accepting 'new ideas'.

Agassiz versus Darwin

Continental Drift

(Peak Oil?)

Perhaps climatologists are the teenagers of academia and Geologists have seen a few things..


Yeah, some geologists can be really old school too. (My apologies to all the real scientists who happen to be Geologists) Science Rocks!

Unfortunately there are more than a few out there that are just plain batshit insane... e.g.

Mr. Nienhuis has a B.Sc. in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College (1976), and has written two books Old Earth? Why Not!, and Ice Age Civilizations, is currently writing Dancing from Genesis, and has been involved in the production of the documentary, Ice Age Civilizations, as well as, Atlantis: Secret Star Mappers of a Lost World, and Dark Secrets of the Black Sea.

Climate science is older than, e.g., quantum mechanics or information theory; Svante Arrhenius had published the first fully developed theory of anthropogenic global warming by 1901.

I originally wrote that a Political Scientist expressed a technical opinion about cavitation, but changed it to an economist. If a PhD in either field had expressed an opinion on arcane engineering issues, I strongly suspect that you and your fellow engineers would have looked askance and asked for credentials. A PhD in Physics who specialized in hydraulics not so much.

As a side note, I am quite skeptical that the so-called Medieval Warming Period ever existed, except as a localized effect in Western Europe. Variation in ocean currents (Gulf Stream/THC) could quite easily explain what was observed there.

I do know that the letter from the Greenland bishop was bogus propaganda. Greenland never grew apples or wheat.

On the larger issue,

This is my point. Unless we KNOW, to a high degree of certainty, that increasing CO2 will have no significant negative effects, we should take actions to reduce the increase in CO2.

It is simply irrelevant whether the models are any good or not, and whether (SHOCK & HORRORS) scientists play office politics. Since the skeptics and deniers cannot PROVE, to a high degree of certainty, that an uncontrolled and irreversible chemistry experiment will do no harm, opposition to efforts to reduce CO2 emission is both profoundly illogical and immoral.

If we had just the tools of science of 1930 (in use today) and all the data we had was 60+ years of CO2 observations from Mauna Loa showing a steady increase and the temperature data posted elsewhere on this thread, then public policy should start significantly reducing the carbon emitted.

The level of knowledge and proof logically required to take public policy action is remarkably low when the issue is as profound as Climate Change.

Please think about that,


Its not that climate scientists are uninterested in intelligent opposing viewpoints, its that they are constantly bombarded with the same old disproved allegations. Unfortunately that does set up the expectation that any particular skeptical questioner is just another of these uninformed (or arguing in bad faith) people. That is going to be true 99% of the time, so it may be tougher for the guy in the 1% to be taken seriously. What has happened is that politically motivated groups have made character assasination of the practitioners of the science a strategy. In terms of PR, and yes propaganda, it seems to be successful. But it doesn't mean anything is wrong with the science, or even with its practioners. I doubt any profession could withstand the sort of determined and well funded assault that climate science is currently enduring. And those of us in the peak oil, limits to growth camp better take notice, the same tactics will be used to discredit us. Those who stand to benefit from the promotion of BAU will see to it.

What I have found, along the way, is that those who push the AGW agenda seem more interested in running down the reputations of those who question their stance, rather than becoming involved in a public debate.

That is the fundamental problem with the debate. It's not really a debate. For one thing there are too many personal attacks.

The ad-hominem attacks on people who disagree with the theory are not convincing. People who have a solid scientific case don't have to indulge in ad-hominem attacks, they can rely on the evidence to support their theories. Ad hominem attacks are only used by people who don't have a strong case and who want to win the argument regardless of the lack of hard facts to support their theory.

This is supposed to be science, not politics. Calling a theory a fact doesn't make it a fact.

Fmagyar, I had this out with Gavin on more than one occasion on RC. There are in fact now 50+ proxies amongst a growing list that show the MWP as a global event as warm if not warmer than now. Older proxies were inconclusive or just showed NH bias. A great many new studies show a SH warming aswell.

Another anomoly. Although the proxies for the Roman Climate optimum show temp marginally lower than just now, there is eveidence that 1000-2000 years prior to that sea levels were up to 1-2m higher than present. Again I had this out with Gav at RC and he blanked issue citing geological uplift in areas that had no known record of uplift! Before all those e-mails came out I knew Gavin et al were being, to put it politily, selective.

RC blank this one frequently as it is now a thorn in the side for them.

Take away the models and things get rather shaky.

The coup de grace however is looking at what -ve feedbacks occured on the climatic optimums experienced in the last 3 interglacials where temp were higher than now - ie no runaway happened. Granted C02 is higher now which could pose a danger (BIG IF) the models are correct.

But always be careful about dismissing the paleoclimate. It was Way more violent in terms of swing than we are seeing now. +0.8deg is a walk in the park for Earth. (I admit however 3-5degC+ may not be!!!)
SO anyway I keep an open mind. Won't do society any harm to weak ourselves off FF anyway!


Won't do society any harm to weak ourselves off FF anyway!

This is my point. Unless we KNOW, to a high degree of certainty, that increasing CO2 will have no significant negative effects, we should take actions to reduce the increase in CO2.


The coup de grace however is looking at what -ve feedbacks occured on the climatic optimums experienced in the last 3 interglacials where temp were higher than now - ie no runaway happened.

True enough.
Run away temperatures did not happen.
But abrupt climate change to the 'ice cycle' did,
At just a little over 2C higher than current temps,
as measured in Vostok ice cores.

Very abrupt.

Indeed, a runaway greenhouse à la Venus won't happen any time in the next billion years or so. But it's quite possible for the climate system to be driven to new equilibria that are inimical to agriculture.

But always be careful about dismissing the paleoclimate. It was Way more violent in terms of swing than we are seeing now. +0.8deg is a walk in the park for Earth. (I admit however 3-5degC+ may not be!!!)

What I remember from the paleoclimate talks I attended as a geology grad student in the seventies, is that the recent past (few thousand years), has had a uniquely stable climate. The odds of that happy coincidence continuing go way down if we push some of the basic control knobs. I expect that when we start enjoying a rapidly flucuating climate that the additional stresses of human systems will be very unwelcome.


I find the argument that we have nothing to worry about because our level of modeling is too crude to be useful a strangely odd one.

We know that we have already pushed CO2 outside the norms of the last several million years. We know that the inter-ice-ages climates are subject to abrupt shifts to cold phases aka ice ages. Indeed, few inter-ice-ages have lasted this long.

So if the modeling is too crude to be useful,
and we know that the inter-ice-ages are unstable climates,
Why the heck are we mucking around with the basic chemistry of the atmosphere/ocean system without understanding the consequences?

The HUBRIS involved in believing we can double CO2 levels of the atmosphere
without worrying about the ultimate climatic effects is astounding.

And, from a biological perspective,
it isn't just the ultimate changes that drive ecological stress,
but the rate of that change.

Why the heck are we mucking around with the basic chemistry of the atmosphere/ocean system without understanding the consequences?

Becasue as stated many times here our crack oil addiction also sustains a 6.8+ billion population.

Because we have no current direct replacement that can be ramped up in time.

Becasue our societal ideals are null and void without it.

The list goes on and on.

AGW may or may not be a problem. Most meteorological and paleogeoligical people I have read, and reports in peer reviewed articles substantiate them, indicate that it is more likely than not that: 1) the global temperatures are rising; 2) it is more likiely than not caused by the rise in CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels; 3) Co2 levels are the highest they have been in several million years (though temsp are not, yet); 4) CO2 isd a greenhouse gas; 5) the indication is that in past warming events, CO2 was a 'following' factor that probably increased warming; 6) that past events were caused by normal swings in orbit, tilt of axis, and solar variations; 7) that the current phase of orbit, tilt of axis and solar variation all indicate that the temperatures should be dropping; 8) that all models are flawed to a certain degree, and that input data is erratic; 9) that most input data is skewed to low, rather than high (it shows less warming that may be happening); 10) that virtually every prediction in the IPCC's (several) reports were skewed to the low side due to political pressure; and, 11) that the predictions made by the IPCC understated the actual consequences observed since.

Of course, this is all phrased in obligatory scientific jargon... not certain, not definite. Rather, indications are, probabilites are, etc. Based on the scientific "hedging" we should go on with BAU. Because, after all, there is a 20% chance that it either won't be as bad as predicted, or that warming would be a good thing. We can take a chance. I mean, if we are wrong and warming is as bad or worse than predicted, all that would happen is a massive extinction event. No problem.

To me it is just a matter of being prudent. Even if there was only a 20% chance that it would be bad, ... no even if it was a 5% chance, who in their right mind would take it?

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


in past warming events, CO2 was a 'following' factor that probably increased warming

I would say CO2 increase is still a following factor, the only thing that has changed is the cause, and CO2, amongst many other things, definitely increases warming (but by how much is unsure.)

In the past, the changes in orbit etc that were the cause of the CO2 increases were very slow resulting in slow changes in CO2 and temperature over several hundred years.

Now, the cause of increasing CO2 is burning exponentially more and more FF by man and the rate of change is much faster (the production of the CO2 is immediate rather than a slow feedback), changing in decades what used to take centuries.

The climate is always changing, it is not a stable system, the problem with man made climate change is the unprecedented rate of change, from the CO2 point of view man is out-doing nature by an order of magnitude or so!

It is up to the skeptics to prove beyond reasonable doubt that CO2 isn't the major cause of overall warming and consequent climate change that it seems to be.

We are currently operating an uncontrolled, and basically irreversible, experiment on our only atmosphere and ecosystem. That statement is incontrovertible.

The burden of proof for refusing to take action is on the deniers, not the scientific community consensus.

PROVE to me, and the rest of the world, that there is a less than 0.5% chance that there will be no significant negative impacts# from significantly increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

# or with high confidence that positive impacts > negatives from any rational perspective

*IF* you cannot provide that level of proof, then game theory (or just old "cost benefit analysis") would indicate significant efforts need to be made to justify massive efforts to control and reduce CO2 emissions.

Otherwise your skepticism has no place in the public debate.

Best Hopes for Rational Analysis,


In addition, it is now proven that at least one of the "staff of life" food crops, cassava (half billion people eat it, >50% calories for 200 million) will be wiped out by elevated CO2 even without any Climate Change. The leaves become more poisonous (cyanide levels increase) and tuber mass shrinks dramatically.

Why does the idea of a "scientific concensus" really bother me. Part of the scientific method is for one to be skeptical, that's why we do peer review. Even today some scientists are wondering whether gravity is strictly an inverse square law.

"PROVE to me..."

Well, yeah, but what's that old saw about proving a negative? So PROVE to me that the invisible pink unicorn whispering into my ear isn't going to bite my head off in the next few minutes, leaving me with not a care in the world about AGW or East Anglia or oil or coal or anything else...

The trouble with the game-theory is that somebody, somewhere is always ego-tripping as the next world savior, inventing or vastly exaggerating some hazard and stampeding people into spending ridiculous amounts of time and money on it. I mean, like, you know, you gotta be careful, or even better, precautionary, or even better, downright paranoid, 'cos after all, it would be really really horrible if the pink unicorn really was after you, and really did bite off your head. Heck, maybe we should mandate pink-unicorn insurance!

After a while all the supercilious nagging just runs together into a meaningless blur, reminding a person of the absurd theater of underwear "security" at the airports. Or the absurd theater of the day-care witch trials of the 1990s. Or the absurd theater of elf'n'safety in the UK these days. Yawn.

Not that any of it it matters one whit. I probably should have stayed off this subject as I usually do, since most of the accessible fossil fuel will be burned off by someone, irrespective both of whatever reality may obtain, and of whatever ghosts, goblins, and pink unicorns might be troubling James Hansen or Al Gore. Especially after the Copenhagen fiasco, I find it really hard to envision unanimous restraint without being driven to fits of laughter, and if the restraint is less than unanimous, exponential growth will take care of the rest.

[Oh, and please, the notion that something has no place in public discussion if one disagrees with it, is not an argument, nor even advocacy.]

Oh, and please, the notion that something has no place in public discussion if one disagrees with it, is not an argument, nor even advocacy.]

Sure, its sort of like the toothyologist arguing with the professor of dentistry with 40 years of practice behind him. Get in the "Feckin Sack!"


I was making the logical counter-point to Heading Outs' claim that he is a skeptic that increasing CO2 by 50% will have any significant effect.

Unlike pink unicorns, there is NO DOUBT that humanity has dramatically increased the CO2 in the atmosphere and will continue to do so for some time (absent an immediate disappearance of industrial civilization).

This is where your analysis fails; I posit a reality that exists, you posit one that does not.

I also avoid the "prove a negative" fallacy by accepting only 99.5% certainty.

In the public discourse, skeptics have no place and no logical backing in voicing their doubts. The public discourse is the one that affects policy and public perceptions.

The reason is that their doubts are irrelevant and unimportant UNLESS they can prove that dramatic increases in CO2 have no effect.

An analogy is a woman finding a lump in her breast and she is skeptical that it is cancer despite additional warning signs (discharge from nipple, rapid growth, lumps in her lymph nodes, etc.)

A skeptic like Heading Out would counsel her to do nothing since it has not been conclusively proven that she has cancer. If she will just wait until she dies, we can do an autopsy and determine then if the lump was malignant. That is HO's counsel for our world.

I would argue that it is immoral for Heading Out to counsel the woman not to get a biopsy (some effort, cost, pain but minimal compared to cancer) UNLESS HE CAN PROVE THAT SHE ALMOST CERTAINLY DOES NOT HAVE CANCER.

If, say, a new sonogram can show that the odds of lump are malignant are <0.5%, OK cancel the more expensive and invasive biopsy (Personally I would like <0.03%).

Any rational person that thinks that there is a reasonable (say 1%, 3% or even 10%) that increasing CO2 will have significant negative effects should support significant efforts to slow the increase in CO2 and other GHG.

But rational behavior is not universal.

Best Hopes for Rational Analysis, and then acting on it,


Best Hopes for Rational Analysis, and then acting on it,

While I do try to maintain a positive outlook It is still frustrating to enter into a discussion with people who try to convince others that it's ok to fly on an aircraft that has a 90% chance of crashing despite what the pilot and the flight engineer are telling them.

Hi Allen,

I personally do not doubt that there is an overall long term, meaning on the multi decade or century scale,warming trend, and I don't doubt that co2 plays a significant role , perhaps THE role.

But after keeping my flapper shut(it hasn't been easy!) in respect to my remarks awhen climate gate hit the news:

I TRIED to tell EVERYBODY here that only those IDEALISTIC TO THE POINT OF bordering on the religious that thier boundless faith in research scientists being a new species of humans who would never lie, steal, molest little children, or cheat on thier taxes is a little niave;that there is no such thing as a large group of people immune to the goalong ta git along little doggy bug.

I believe my REALIST position has now been amply verified.

I also believe that the fundamentals ALWAYS APPLY.

I have little training in physics but the black box model is well within my grasp and it is obvious that while we may be misestimating the quantitative role of co2 in the short term , the implications for the long term are ominious indeed as levels continue to rise.

Then of course an old farmer will tend to remember the oral wisdom passed down thru the generations-my part of the world has warmed substantially in very serious ways over the last century and a half, although the average temps probably have hardly budged, maybe a degree or so.

Any technically literate farmer who bothers to look at the average days of growing season, over large areas, or the northern migration of hot weather pests, etc, or the failure of cold weather to control formerly insifnificant pests, etc, needs no convincing of long term warming trends.

But even when we as little boys when we were still convinced God really did run things right down to having instantaneous recall of the number or hairs on our very heads,we understood that some of our Sunday school teachers were bootleggers, that our preachers were not always faithful to thier wives, and that some of them were scumbags who would rather preach than get out in the fields and do an honest days work.

I TRIED to tell EVERYBODY here that only those IDEALISTIC TO THE POINT OF bordering on the religious that thier boundless faith in research scientists being a new species of humans who would never lie, steal, molest little children, or cheat on thier taxes is a little niave;that there is no such thing as a large group of people immune to the goalong ta git along little doggy bug.

True enough but that neither invalidates a specific scientific consensus or the scientific method itself.

Just because say politicians are corrupt doesn't invalidate the existence of Democratic States nor the democratic process itself.

Sausage making ain't always pretty but sausages end up tasting pretty good despite that fact.

Of course there may still be a few out there who deny the existence of sausages. They can chew on a raw cucumber.

Of course you are right Fmaygar.

My original emphasis was that since this thing was obviousl going to have long legs, the best policy would be to fess up .

Such a policy would have sawayed a few undecided people , maybe a lot of people, in favor of believing in change.

In a forum such as this one, nearly every body, excepting crusty obnoxious conservatives such as yours truly, tends to forget that the general public cannot understand , let alone evaluate, a technical argument.

The vast majority of the public is technically illiterate, and probably not more than twenty percent even knows what peer reviewed research IS.

But when they see the actual quotes, out of context or not, well........

Just stop and think for a minute how fast you would believe they were indicative of hanky panky if they were as suggestive and stolen from some business that you either detest or at best a business about which you know nothing.

The public -any person I have talked to who has read any of the admittedly cherry picked(so what?) quotes -believes the researchers were caught with thier hand in the cookie jar.

Anyone who denies that loses whatever credibility he has with that member of the public.

Just trying to get ya true believers to quit acting like a buncha suerstitious christians circling thier antievolution wagon train.

People like that are allowed to VOTE, you see.

The more you deny the obvious in respect to the emails, the fewer the voters with a favorable (accurate)impressiom of the evidence.This is now a political matter, not an issue of science.

ever hear that one out of drivers ed about the driver who insisted on his right of way?

He was right, the right of way was his, but after the accident-well he is now DEAD RIGHT.


I operate under the assumption that all models are wrong, in whatever area they are applied.

For example, the betting model (millions of people betting hard cash, surely a superb model) have the Colts winning the SuperBowl. I know that is wrong and the rest of the world will as well in a few hours.

Models can still provide guidance but are hardly conclusive "evidence". So I agree that the second digit of any estimates might as well be a random # and some serious flaws will develop.

We see the future "through a glass, darkly". Yet it is the best we have and the overall trends are clear.

Best Hopes,


Given that at the depth of the Little Ice Age (which is copiously validated around the world with peer-reviewed documentation) ...

And was potentially caused by a sudden drop in the number of humans a couple of centuries earlier (link).

The idea that a decrease in the number of humans caused the Little Ice Age is a pretty frivolous idea. More likely they're confusing cause and effect, and the Little Ice Age caused a sudden drop in the number of humans.

No. The plague caused the drop in the number of humans and began during the MWP. The Little Ice Age came later. A sudden dive in cereal pollens in 1347 followed by an increase in tree pollens. That a large area of agricultural land abruptly transitioned from a carbon source to a carbon sink there is no question. The idea that it's connected to the Little Ice Age may be wrong, but it certainly not frivolous. Was it you that once commented on TOD that global warming was not a problem because you could still ski in the Canadian Rockies?

From my limited reading of the literature, the notion that the MWP was warmer than the recent century on a global basis seems not supported. There are records which indicate episodes of regional warming, but the problem is the dates don't line up, thus the global excursion seems to be less impacted. There are some studies by people whom I would label as denialist who cherry pick data in ways which accentuate the warming, making the MWP appear warm. One such paper was written by Craig Loehle and published in E & E in 2007. I had lots of fun pointing out the errors in that paper and in his "corrected" paper which followed.

Out of curiosity, what are your sources of data to support your claim?

E. Swanson

How much data do we have regarding the MWP, etc. compared to the last 200 years?

That is certainly part of the problem, isn't it? The so called "Hockey Stick" curve by Mann, et al. was first published using data going back 600 years, that is, beginning with 1400CE. The later efforts extended the analysis back some 1000 years to 1000CE. The trouble with all this is, the farther back one looks, the fuzzier the data appears, due to errors in measurements of both the temperature proxy and the associated dates. This is a well known problem and any attempt to calculate a meaningful global average becomes rather difficult.

I don't claim to be an expert on the subject, but I did find some obvious errors with Loehle's 2007 paper in E & E, a paper which is still being hyped by the denialist, even though Loehle produced his correction paper later.

EDIT: HERE's a Reference for those interested. The article was written before all the HooHa over the "Hockey Stick" graph took off.

E. Swanson

I think actually most of the climate stories were mine.

I think climate change has been emphasized to such an extent that now, it has a high calling to live up to. Most of the general public feels that is the only reason for high cost solutions being presented is climate change. Also, the public was "sold" on the fact that cheap solutions were right around the corner--tweak a few things, and everything will be fixed.

Now things aren't turning out so rosy--people are increasingly out of jobs, so climate has moved down on the list of priorities. States and governments are out of money, so have less funds to put forward for expensive solutions.

People are looking for new solutions. It seems to me that as part of this, people (including reporters) are somewhat backing away from AGW as a high priority issue. It didn't help that the release of the hacked e-mails and the disclosure of errors in the IPCC report came at the same time people were frustrated. So I think climate change articles in the press are themselves becoming less pro AGW.

Much of what has to be done to address climate change also has to be done to make our system sustainable.If governments will wake up there are a lot of jobs in projects to repair environmental damage and other badly needed projects which will enhance sustainability.

The few mistakes which have been made by scientists in the climate change field have been immediately seized on by deniers and grossly exaggerated.Deniers are irrational but when seemingly rational people seize on this issue as an excuse to do nothing we have a much bigger problem.It seems that cognitive dissonance has some sway even in the ranks of TOD staff.

AGW is a high priority issue but so is population overshoot which is at the base of the disaster pyramid.You can add energy and resource shortages,ocean and soil degradation etc in whatever order you like to the pyramid.We are in for a collapse in one form or another.Turning a blind eye to selected problems won't help even if it might be fashionable.

MSM has convinced the public (atleast in the US) that sustainability is a far left wing "tree huggers" issue. Only high priority is BAU ...

Just to add fuel to your flame, check this from the fine folks running my state:

Rep. Mike Noel, the Legislature's chief climate-change skeptic, declared Thursday that global warming is a conspiracy to control world population.
The House Natural Resources Committee then approved a resolution that expresses the Utah Legislature's belief that "climate alarmists' carbon dioxide-related global warming hypothesis is unable to account for the current downturn in global temperatures."

Thirra et al:

I'm sorry but every time I see the term "Climate Change" I wonder; is that warming or cooling? Yesterday was sunny and today is raining which is a climate change for here. The north east is getting a climate change this week with a couple feet of snow thrown in.

We should realize the term "Climate Change" is a real cop out by the denialists or MSM so that either side can be argued without a problem as some believe "Not by FIRE but by ICE". That too is weird because ICE is abbr for 'Internal Combustion Engine'.

The term "anthropomorphic climate warming" (AGW) is what we are talking about. If you won't or can't step up to the plate and say what you mean, then you leave the argument up to sematics and not science. Everyone carries their own lexicon in their head and will interpret every word according to their predisposition.

30-40 years ago we knew all about this; "We have found the enemy and it is us", so it is nothing new, just a different topic.


every time I see the term "Climate Change" I wonder; is that warming or cooling?

Yes, you've got it. It's both. Also more rain and less rain (or snow), or even more regular or less regular rain. Any or all of these. It could be drier than before in one place and wetter than before in another, both in the same season. Or it could be drier than before in one season and wetter than before in another season, both in the same place. Change is change.

Yesterday was sunny and today is raining which is a climate change for here. The north east is getting a climate change this week with a couple feet of snow thrown in.

Now here you've gone astray. That's not climate, it's weather. Weather patterns get called climate when they keep on happening regularly for thirty years or more. The odds are that if weather is in the news, it's unusual, not the normal pattern.

Regarding the terms "climate change" and "global warming", I read a piece recently where James Hansen said he regretted changing from the traditional scientists' term "climate change" to "global warming" when he was speaking to reporters. (No link, sorry.) So it looks like the scientists invented the "climate change" monicker, not the denialists. Big mistake.

The trouble with "global warming" as a label is that it's too narrow. It doesn't really matter what the global average temperature is when the Asian Monsoon fails three years out of seven, but that's one possible effect of climate change.

About "AGW". You're right, everyone does carry their own set of meanings for that term. I can't see any way around this problem that involves having privately owned media. But the alternative is worse...

Only one bank closure last night

1st American State Bank of Minnesota – Hancock, MN

maybe the FDIC decided to take the weekend off for the big Washington DC snowstorm...

I just ran across this one as well:

Oil price stability heralds new "equilibrium"

Volatility in the NYMEX front month crude oil contract has dropped to the lowest for more than two years, and some of the lowest levels at any time since 1996. The market's remarkable stability appears to be the product of a number of factors.

Spot market trading has been confined in a relatively narrow $65-85 per barrel range since Aug 2009, with news flow causing only small day-to-day disturbances. The market seems comfortable trading around $75. It is an equilibrium that satisfies most producers and consumers -- high enough to incentivise new investment in fossil fuels and clean energy, without triggering too much demand destruction.

The last few days don't seem like it is all that tight a range, but maybe the way they look at it, it is. Of course, once someone makes a pronouncement like this, things may well change.

Another "Party On Dude" missive from the MSM. From the column (as best that I can tell, "he" in the second paragraph is never named):


The panic about "peak oil" seems to have receded. It has been evident for some time the total hydrocarbon reserve (including natural gas and coal, as well as shale oil, bitumen and conventional oil from unconventional fields or enhanced recovery methods) will provide plentiful energy into the distant future. The question is engineering and price not physical availability.

But there is now an increasing recognition that demand itself will peak. Crude consumption in the OECD economies has already peaked and is unlikely to exceed 2007 levels in future. But senior policymakers and executives are now starting to talk about a global demand peak sometime between 2020 and 2030 as emissions controls and energy efficiency programmes bite into demand in emerging markets as well as the advanced economies. 95 and 110 million barrels per day (compared with around 85 million currently). "World demand will peak before its supply because there is plenty of oil in the world, there really is," he said in an interview on BBC Radio 4.

As the peak oil panic gives way to a more nuanced view, it removes one of the factors underpinning the expectation of ever-rising real oil prices that drove the 2008 price spike and the more ambitious forecasts about price increases in the next 5-10 years.

Annual US spot crude oil prices:

As I have noted several times, world crude oil production and and net oil exports stopped increasing after 2005; I wonder what the price of oil will be in 2020?

Stoneleigh's last prediction that I saw was for $500 in 2015, after a short term drop.

I don't know about "party on", but I saw at least "the oil age won't end for lack of oil" - more from a Reuters report:

LONDON (Reuters) - World oil demand will peak sometime after 2020 at a maximum of around 110 million barrels per day (bpd), BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said on Thursday...

Of course, Hayward does have half of a point about legislation and controls, and conceivably if certain selected Western pundits had their way with the entire world, a sustained surplus would arise. However, from Heat

...I had given a talk about climate change, during which I had argued that there was little chance of preventing runaway warming unless greenhouse gases were cut by 80%. One of the questions stumped me.

“When you get your 80% cut, what will this country look like?”.

I hadn’t thought about it. Nor could I think of a good reason why I hadn’t thought about it. But a few rows from the front sat one of the environmentalists I admire and fear most, a man called Mayer Hillman. I admire him because he says what he believes to be true and doesn’t care about the consequences. I fear him because his life is a mirror in which the rest of us see our hypocrisy.

“That’s such an easy question I’ll ask Mayer to answer it.”

He stood up. He is 75, but looks about 50, perhaps because he goes everywhere by bicycle. He is small and thin and fit-looking, and he throws his chest out and holds his arms back when he speaks, as if standing to attention. He was smiling. I could see he was going to say something outrageous.

“A very poor third-world country.”

Now it might happen that the major consumers eventually become "poor third-world countries", as all, including the USA, once were. But does any sane person expect they will volunteer unanimously?

Has it gone unnoticed that those who have actually experienced poor third-world life, in India, China, and elsewhere (as opposed to well-to-do starry-eyed Western idealists with the means to fly here, fly there, and fly everywhere at tremendous expense in fuel in order to hector others) are very often grasping at any possible or impossible straw to escape it? Right: what did the parents and grandparents of the supercilious idealists do when it was their turn? Oh, yeah. Or have the open garbage fires of the New Jersey Meadowlands, the yellow skies of New York City, the brick-red skies of Gary (Indiana), and the schoolbook-cover images of smoke-belching prosperity been forgotten already?

The question is engineering and price not physical availability.


“A very poor third-world country.”

I think that was a poor answer. Convert all the coal plants to LFTR nukes, all cars to plug-ins - you would probably get 80% reduction. There is nothing inherently third world about the economy that would result. You could even pay for all that with the money now spend on "defence".

Has it gone unnoticed that those who have actually experienced poor third-world life, in India, China, and elsewhere (as opposed to well-to-do starry-eyed Western idealists with the means to fly here, fly there, and fly everywhere at tremendous expense in fuel in order to hector others) are very often grasping at any possible or impossible straw to escape it?

Well, as a non-starry-eyed Western dude with the means fly there and experience it before the locals destroy it in pursuit of the almighty dollar, I would say it varies.

China is not really a third-world country any more. One book I read, "The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order", by Parag Khanna categorizes it as a country which is not first-world yet, but getting close. Probably over half the population could now be considered middle class. India is not as advanced but is making progress, and I have met numerous Indian computer geeks travelling around the world who don't act much different than the Western computer geeks I have had to work with. The poorer people are really poor, but things are getting better for them.

The real problem for Americans is that many of them are back-sliding into the third world, which is a really bad experience for them.

On the other hand, I have been in Bhutan which is only theoretically a third-world country. It's true that they don't have much money, and it's true that they get foreign aid from India, but they espouse a doctrine of Gross National Happiness. Money doesn't matter if you are happy. And, actually, they really are happy people.

You too can experience this happiness for a minimum $200 per day per person, in advance, no exceptions. You may not like the way they do things, but Bhutanese don't care. It's their country and if you don't like it, you can stay away and not bother them. That's one of the reasons they're happy, and to experience their happiness is well worth the $200/day you pay (they get it for free).

Re: Ballot measure targets Calif. climate-change law, up top:

It's about time that thing be put to sleep. The CARB is a disaster.

More insanity from the Californication of ethanol:

Officials with the Southern California Association of Governments on Thursday declined a $10.9 million award from the federal stimulus program to put ethanol stations in Southern California, voicing skepticism that the corn-based fuel is beneficial.


In voting against the grant SCAG bought the CARB trumped up carbon emissions charges contained in the Indirect Land Use Change argument. It ignored the EPA’s finding that ethanol is conveniently 1% under the 20% cleaner requirement for renewable fuels. In that political decision EPA found that without IDLUC ethanol would be 60% cleaner.

Indirect Land Use Change emissions by definition occur in other countries, not in California. So even if these carbon emission were true, they would not occur in California. More likely they would occur in Brazil or some other South American country that competes with American grain. Yet the SCAG acts as if the ill effects of ethanol carbon emissions would hit California.

SCAG is rejecting $10.9 million in a labor market with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and in a state that can not balance its budget and is near bankruptcy to the point of begging aid from the Federal Government. Yet when aid is presented they reject it because they don’t like the strings attached.

Such is the hatred of ethanol in California. The SCAG acts as if there is no problem burning imported oil even though resources have to be exported to pay for it which holds down the California economy. And that there is no problem with supply. It evidently believes in that dream of Californication, the electric vehicle.

Electric vehicles are not yet ready for prime time. And even if they were, the grid in California is not up to powering them in a clean pathway. California has fallen behind Iowa in wind electricity. So where is the imported electric power to come from?

The SCAG worries about water use in growing corn for ethanol. Being constantly short of water they may be forgiven. But the corn will not likely be grown in California but more likely in the Midwest where floods are a bigger threat than drought.

There is a pattern in California government of ignoring reality and seeing the world as though it was all like California. This is called provincialism if the Midwest does it, but is hailed as insight when California does it.

I call the whole mess Californication.

If CA had accepted the grant,
would CA had to have matched it with their own money?

Would they have had to spend CA IOUs
to be eligible to receive the Fed US$?

Or was this decision based solely on
perceived merits/drawbacks of ethanol?

From what I have found to read about it--NO--California is not putting dollars into this project. Actually, California would benefit from the extra $ in the local economy and taxes generated from it.

Thanks for the clarification.

I could say more about what I think of that kind of "purity stance" ... but I won't.

One of the best things that can be said about ethanol is that it diversifies the fuel supply base, which should help to dampen price spikes. Unfortunately, it more directly couples the food production industry to the oil industry, and ensures that peak oil will mean peak food availability with multiple coupling factors.

Do the Fed dollars come with strings attached? I hear time and again how states and localities suffer when free money from the Feds this year costs them money later, often when they need it most. My town just laid off 100 police officers that were hired with the 100,000 cops money (or whatever that program was). The Feds provided the money to hire them, but didn't increase the tax base to support them long-term.

Investing in infrastructure is perhaps the best the gov't can do, but is Ethanol delivery as wise an investment as wind or solar generation, or electrical grid improvements?

"One of the best things that can be said about ethanol is that it diversifies the fuel supply base"

NO. Ethanol just converts fossil fuels to biofuel. It is stupid.

You're partly correct. The important aspect of corn ethanol is that only 1/6 gallon of petroleum is used to produce 1 gallon of ethanol. Most of the energy supplied is sunlight, captured by the plants. There is also natural gas and coal used for energy. The advantage of that is much of it is domestic energy, rather than imported from unfriendly nations.

Also, numerous ethanol refineries are sourcing their energy inputs from renewables such as sun, wind, and biomass. Recent university and government studies show that the energy inputs per gallon of ethanol are drastically being reduced over time. The energy ratio for corn ethanol is positive. It is near or above 1.5:1. But for cellulosic ethanol and beverage waste ethanol, such as what SCAG and Pearson Fuels would be supplying, is even higher than that. Oh and don't listen to the rants of that Big Oil shill, Dr. Pimentel or his pal Dr. Ptazek. They are 2 of the very few researchers that find negative energy information for ethanol--nearly every other non-oil-funded researcher quickly debunks their unfactual and downright fraudulent studies. For instance, they factor in very large equipment being used on a very small patch of ground. Their input factors are outrageously unlikely to occur in the real world.

The beauty of any form of ethanol is that we don't have to use any imported petroleum to make it. It's almost all domestic energy, providing domestic jobs and keeping US Dollars in the U.S. economy. We send $100's of Billions to countries that dislike us EVERY YEAR for their petroleum, which our soldiers die fighting for. The military states that fuel often costs them over $10 per gallon to keep their vehicles going.

The next time you're drinking alcohol (which is what ethanol is), don't worry about it being made from imported petroleum. Because it isn't. It's domestic energy (unless you're drinking an imported brew), much of it supplied by sunlight.

Where are we going to grow all the plants to make the ethanol?

The USA can get 23% of it's liquid fuels demand from corn ethanol and soy diesel if we stop exporting food.


Other than the fact that it is questionable that the energy ratio of ethanol is positive (various estimates put it on the high or low side of 1:1), the real problem is that you are converting food into automobile fuel.

High corn prices have caused riots in places like Mexico. Converting corn into ethanol means that it is unavailable to be eaten by people in poorer countries who have gotten used to living on cheap, subsidized American corn surpluses.

Instead, what you have is cheap, subsidized automobile fuel for your car. If all the corn produced in the US was converted to ethanol, it could supply as much as 12% of the total automobile fuel demand.

The amount of corn ethanol capacity now nearly meets the government requirements, and U.S. farmers keep growing more bushels of corn on the same or fewer acres. Record breaking year after record breaking year.

The concern over increased use of corn for ethanol is behind us. Now the growth will come from 2nd generation feedstocks, such as biomass, waste materials, cellulose, and other plants. Let's not forget that fossil fuels are mainly made out of plants from thousands of years ago.

The EROEI of corn ethanol is not questionable--it is 1.5 or above. Pimentel and Ptazek are not trusted researchers, and most other researchers who do not have connections to the oil companies and extreme environmental groups (some with petroleum dollar backing) vigorously dispute those 2. They use fraudulent input factors such as the largest piece of machinery on a small patch of ground.

Sweet corn and white corn (tortillas and chips) are not used in corn ethanol. High corn prices are caused by high petroleum prices (petroleum prices factor strongly into the price of many products in our economy). The best way to keep food prices low is to keep petroleum prices low. A Merrill Lynch analyst found that corn ethanol keeps gasoline prices 15% lower than what they would have been without corn ethanol in the fuel supply. 15% lower gasoline price has a huge positive effect on our economy, and makes food prices that much lower.

If ALL the corn in the U.S. became ethanol, it would still only be 1/3 of the corn kernels becoming ethanol (only the starch part becomes ethanol). High value livestock feed products like distillers grains and corn gluten, and bottled CO2, are valuable coproducts that become an important part of our food supply. Only 30% of the corn crop now becomes ethanol, and since only 1/3 of that becomes ethanol, only 10% of the U.S. corn supply becomes ethanol. Fact.

Now the growth will come from 2nd generation feedstocks, such as biomass, waste materials, cellulose, and other plants.

Isn't there a problem there, in that CO2 from biomass gets exhausted into the atmosphere at rapid rate, rather than recycled through our soils and into new plant growth, at nature's rate?

Isn't there a problem there, in that CO2 from biomass gets exhausted into the atmosphere at rapid rate, rather than recycled through our soils and into new plant growth, at nature's rate?

Thats the $62 billion question. I'm not too worried about the CO2 (the plants can regrow), but whether we may be using up trace soil nutients? I suspect that if biomass is used locally, and the ash is collected and returned to the soil, that the process can probably be made sustainable. But short term economic convenience probably means we won't start off that way. And if we wait until the market creates the appropriate price signals, it will probably be too late.


I share your concerns-the difference or distance between what is technically possible or feasible and what will actually happen in the political, cultural, and market arena is as far seperated as the east and the west,meaning.......

We already have a big ethanol monkey on our backs-and it is changing the scene on American farms, even little ones on hilly ground such as the ones in my part of the world.Corn is coming back around here.This is not good-our hillsides are better left in forests and grass-some of the land will hardly grow broomstraw even today because of the lingering effects of erosion and soil exhaustion from a century ago.

Ethanol is a honey lipped sloe eyed gold digger of a product-once we marry her-we are only shacked up long term as yet-then we will find out just what a high maintainence bitch she really is(sorry about the chauvinist rhetoric ladies, but the parallels are perfect.)

A spoilt public is not going to be satisfied with microcars, or fuel rationing , and the politicians left right and center of this country are already marrried to the bau life on wheels model.

As the ELM thingie does it's thing , as fuel becomes ever more expensive, the pressure and clamor for ever more ethanol will grow into a tornado and then into a hurricane that does not go away, and that penetrates to every corner of the country and the economy.ADM and the other giant ag conglomerates will morph from hyenas and leopards into full fledged saber toothed lions, and those daggers will be in every body's neck vertebrae.

Of course things will be all hunky dory out in corn country and down at the John Deere dealer.

Now I realize that it is probably too late , that the public and the policy makers are not going to give up this bitch up-she's too sexy and she is after all in tis still early stage of the game a good housekeeper that helps us manage our budget-for NOW.

lATER ON .....

We need to do everything we possibly can to get on with conservation and efficiency rather than falling all the way for this painted lady.

Now I do happen to be a techno optimist, and I expect that cellulosic alcohol will eventually work , but I wouldn't bet very much on it working in the very near future, say five or ten years.

Even then, if the public doesn't change it's ways, alcohol will destroy a vast portion of the land we depend on for our food.

The country club types, left or right , will not give a hoot about the fact that the working class has to spend an ever increasing portion of it's falling income on food, so long as they can continue to drive.Lawyers and bueracrats and Indian chiefs making good money won't grumble about ten dollar gasoline for long-they will just pay the price and forget it, the same way an eight dollar an hour mill hand pays three dollars now.

But the mill hand will pehaps one of these days find out how much fun a god soul satisfying riot can be.

The public is gullible.We don't need to encourage them in respect to alcohol.

If there is any one thing in truly ample supply out there in Joe Sixpack land, it is delusions.

Interesting concept about analysists. Is there a large enough creditable testing and analysis organization that does NOT have an adgenda to pursue about corn ethanol? I doubt it. Even the government must bias results to fit the politics of the day ... see BLS figures of what is and is not counted as unemployed.

High corn prices have caused riots in places like Mexico. Converting corn into ethanol means that it is unavailable to be eaten by people in poorer countries who have gotten used to living on cheap, subsidized American corn surpluses.

But, corn farmers don't care about that. What they are about is the price of corn the higher the better. Bumping up the price of corn by creating extra demand is just what the doctor ordered. And then you have BAU dependent industries, like automobiles, which want to promote the idea that there are no coming shortages.

What will our descendants seven generations from now think of this? Will they consider it to be wise first steps towards sustainability? Or will they blame their depleted soils, and the unavailablity of mineral fertilizers on our shortsightedness?

A local superintendent os schools is known to frequentlysay in private that a dollar in federal money is worth only fifty cenrs in local money.

He's dead serious but he doesn't say this publicly for fear of disturbing the subsidy money applecart.

But runnin g our tax dollars ythru Washington in order to get rid of half of them is not very efficient , is it?

We could accomplish this easily by just not collecting the half eaten by the extra rules and buercracy.

Corn destroys topsoil, drains aquifers, needs the Haber Process, and inorganic phosphorus mining, and has created a dead zone in the GOM.
It also has created a massive program of ethnic cleansing of the biosphere, and has reduced complexity, and become a mono crop.
It cannot survive without government subsidies.
I think we can do better.

Not quite. It's the SCALE of the corn operation that's the culprit, and that is directly related to population size.

"Inorganic phosphorus mining?" There's a such thing as "organic" phosphorus mining?

Yeah, I know: rock phosphate is considered "organic." Funny, that.

There's a such thing as "organic" phosphorus mining?



Phosphorous may be a bottleneck in the future, if some peoples analysis is right.
Some of us may find out.

Actually, being someone who practices dialectical materialism, corn is the problem. We are growing to much of it, destroying topsoil, creating mono cultures, and reducing aquifers, and polluting the ocean with its excessive use of nitrogen through the Haber Process. That is what is happening materially.
All the rest is just ideas, and they are not currently relevant.

Regardless of negative myths about corn ethanol and corn farming, this concern is negated because Pearson Fuels has made arrangements with AE Biofuels and Parallel Products to provide 1.5 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol and up to 1 million gallons of waste beverage ethanol in 2010. These are examples of the 2nd generation advanced ethanol that almost EVERYONE agrees we should work towards using more of.

That information was provided numerous times to SCAG, and instead they debated about corn ethanol. It is a development of the negative myths being spread by CA ARB, and political motivation being sparked.

Many people within SCAG, US DOE, CA CEC etc. want for this to occur. A few politically motivated people with false information from ARB are turning away $11 million, over 200 jobs, and clean air for Southern CA's polluted cities.

This is genuinely a disservice to the people of Southern CA.

I was born in So Cal and grew up there. The last thing it needs is more jobs and energy.
It needs a "Great Leap Backward".
Why add more agar to the petri dish?

IIRC the overall mandate is well above 10 billion gallons. Could they have decided that expending meeting time on a science project involving just 0.02% of it would simply not be an effective use of that time?

Oh, and, applying a reasonable discount for "up to", that's 200 jobs to produce, say, 2 million gallons, or a productivity of 10,000 gallons, or around $20,000 worth - gross - per job for the year. In view of the stratospheric cost of living in California, that's simply a sick joke. Looking at it another way, $11 million is about $5.50 per gallon, which for the time being is absurd, and which will remain absurd if it simply tracks the oil price (anybody remember Jimmy Carter's synfuels, which magically always cost a bit more than the oil they were to replace, irrespective of the oil price?)

For now it doesn't even look like a silver BB. Maybe just a silver atom?

Have to start somewhere--no one asked for one silver bullet. But inside a shotgun shell lies many BBs.

SCAG has to expend almost 0 time and $0 to do this; they just partner in order to meet the DOE grant guidelines and provide minimal support. The time involved will be mostly construction jobs and some paperwork.

Also, this is not a 1-year project. How many fuel pumps do you see installed one year, and ripped out the next...? Once the 55 stations are up and running, hopefully they will supply fuel for many, many years. This year is 2 million gallons if all stations keep on schedule. I believe the estimate for normal annual consumption will be 7 million gallons. Multiply 7 million by 20 years and you have 140 million gallons. Divide $11 million by 140 million and it's LESS THAN A PENNY PER GALLON.

We need to open our minds to the possibilities.

Ethanol mandate is the one of the most egrageous things US govt has done (that is saying something). Only the most corrupt and morally bankrupt would support it.

No, the back-room line-the-pockets-of-politicians tactics to keep importing more petroleum and go to war for it for decades is one of the most egrageous things the US govt has ever done. The meager ethanol mandate is a small turn in the right direction. Your personal attack against those who support decreasing imported petroleum is noted.

Importing lithium for electric vehicles will result in the same problems as that of imported petroleum.

Imported lithium can be recycled/reused. Imported oil can't. Lithium batteries have the potential to reduce carbon emissions. Oil?

Seems like a poor comparison.

Yep, if California wants to start a trade war (which is highly unConstitutional--Midwest groups are now suing ARB), then the Midwest could just stop drinking California wine, stop eating California cheese, stop buying California technologies, and stop coming to California for summer vacations. Not that I personally want that to occur, but California is the first offender in this trade war.

Re: Climate scepticism 'on the rise', BBC poll shows

These poll results mirror similar ones from the US. The denialist are winning the propaganda war, while losing the scientific contest (I hate to call it a debate). The criminal act of stealing the CRU e-mails and publishing them made the scientists' case seem hollow. What the heck, we are going to the stars, right? We can just jump to a new planet and leave our cares behind. Oh, I forgot, that was our last President's delusional dream. The idea is a bit like moving out of a crowded, crime ridden city into the bucolic country of suburbia land...

E. Swanson

The only way that human bacteria react is through direct exposure to pain. Intelligence is some sort of aberration in a few, for most the cranium is a ballast chamber.

It's snowing in DC so global warming must be a hoax. Like snow equals cold. Everyone is an expert and thinks they know all there is to know about atmospheric physics. The question they should be asking themselves is why is there so much moisture in the system moving into the north-east. That it will freeze in early February is, duh, trivially obvious.

Since anyone with a clue is called an AGWtard and politicians do not care about long term consequences nothing will be done. The climate will bring it on and put the sniveling riffraff in its place.

I know it's pointless, 'cause as you say, aberration and ballast and all, but I can't help but to suggest pointing such folks to data like this which shows that while the SE US is colder than normal by 5-10 even 15 degrees in some relatively small areas, the whole northern swath of the continent is 15-20 degrees above normal. This has been the pattern all winter. And I say this sitting under the bullseye of unusual cold and snow in west-central Virginia.

Explore around that site and this one for an illuminating look at what's really going on with global temp pattern shifts.

while the SE US is colder than normal by 5-10 even 15 degrees in some relatively small areas, the whole northern swath of the continent is 15-20 degrees above normal.

But it being warm during the winter in a typically cold place just isn't newsworthy. You'll see coverage of unusual cold or heavy snow in the winter and of heatwaves and drought during the summer. The rest just doesn't make compelling (dis)info-tainment. So you can sell John Q Sixpack on a cooling climate, even while in fact the globe is warming. And don't think that the disinformation industry isn't owned by, and competes for advertising from those elements of society that want to promote BAU. The people of this country have ceded sovereignity over information without even realizing it. By now I suspect the oligarchs have acheived full spectrum dominance of the info-sphere. [Note the definition of full spectrum dominance, is not that you have to shut up your opposition, but that you render their actions irrevevant.]

full spectrum dominance of the info-sphere.


full spectrum dominance of the info-sphere.


Exactly - and since it's not true unless it's on TV there will continue to be less and less acceptance of climate change as a problem - because there won't be any singular "newsworthy" items while in reality the pace of problems scattered throughout the globe will continue to ramp up...

glaciers will continue to melt in the Alps (etc.)
sea levels will inundate islands in the S. Pacific
more fires in the US and Australia
more and more powerful extratropical storms
droughts will intensify
desertification will spread
species will migrate to the extent possible then die off

But there will be no "proof" - it will just be a relentless march to the point where we can no longer 'engineer' our way out of the boiling pot of water...

Your list is just natural, it's what happens, man, but snow in the east before a Saturday soccer match is evidence. Global climate change is reported in # days of school closure.

"The only way that human bacteria react is through direct exposure to pain. Intelligence is some sort of aberration in a few, for most the cranium is a ballast chamber."

One of the better quips I've read.

The climate will bring it on and put the sniveling riffraff in its place.

I'm looking forward to the point where the riffraft can no longer be in denial. Of course they will blame someone other than themselves, but that's par for the course.

I'm looking forward to the point where the riffraft can no longer be in denial

This is becasue you value your pride in being correct over the long term survival of the human race. You would rather see the Earth tipped into crisis than be wrong.

Time reveals all things.

I suspect that the EROEI story dooms "low carbon energy policy."
So the climate-debate is of only passing interest, imo,
since it is unlikely to foster any meaningful reform.

People, culture, and economies have inertia.
They don't like change.
They don't want to change.

The techno-optimist in me is in decline.
I doubt that the solar & wind can support
7-9 billion at current GDP.

I have reached the point where I believe
that the fusion-guys and bioengineering-guys
are our "last, best hope."

But that is up to next generation
of young pups to figure out.

What do you mean people don't like change? The unemployed want change. People who can't pay their medical bills want change. The homeless want change. It is only the well off who fear change but change is inevitable. If things are going bad for you change could make things even worse if the change isn't properly managed. The law of entropy says it is easier to make a mess than to clean it up. The well off are a small minority of the world's population but they are the only ones who can afford to invest in better ways of life for everyone.

Fusion power has been a generation away for the last three generations. I've been waiting for 30 years for bioengineering to have any significant impact. It has been over 20 years since someone patented that bug which turns garbage into ethanol.

What do you mean people don't like change? The unemployed want change. People who can't pay their medical bills want change. The homeless want change. It is only the well off who fear change but change is inevitable.

But if those whose agenda is to stymie such change achieve full spectrum dominance, as I believe they have in the USA, they can baboozle enough of the people into supporting their agenda. Democracy is no guarantee that the people will get their way. Not if the disinformation fed to them is of high enough quality and quantity. Then they can simply be stampeded in whatever direction suits the powers that be.

There is no guarantee that change is for the better when it does, inevitably, occur. Most change is driven by one group asserting itself over another for short-term gain...and rarely for the far-forward public good.

Eric there are just too many bigger fish to fry. An even more fightening pole was the one that rated the top 25 or so 'issues'. AGW came something like 24th.

What we really need is a good old World War to really knock humanity on the head and get that global population down ergo less fossil fuel burned. A few billion dead with most major infrastructure destroyed should give us a 20-30year head start on preventing AGW.

Or we could have a global 1 child policy and a ban on central heating and aircon!!!

Arctic freeze and snow wreak havoc across the planet


Arctic air and record snow falls gripped the northern hemisphere yesterday, inflicting hardship and havoc from China, across Russia to Western Europe and over the US plains...................
Asia, which is suffering its worst winter weather for 60 years..................
Paris endured sunny Siberian cold, Italy dug itself out of snowdrifts and Poland counted at least 13 deaths in record low temperatures of about minus 25C (-13F)........................

"nothing too see here folks, move along, it's just weather not climate" - Pope Gavin Schmitt II

sarcanol off it's really not difficult to see why the sceptics are sceptic and the AGW crowd are apoplectic. The Emperor's clothes are off and everyones looking. But do you know the even more amusing bit? If this were turned round and the whole norhtern hemisphere was suffering a heat wave do you still think the scientists would be saying 'this heat wave is nothing to do with global warming...it's just weather'? I don't think so.


Yes, it's winter in the northern hemisphere.

But what matters is the temperature trend:

First decade of 21st century warmest on record

Yes but the sheeple arn't sticking their heads out of the door and seeing that graph floating in the air along with a bunch or sensors and satellites - they are seeing the 'cold weather'. That was the whole point about my emperor has no clothes comment. Thas is why these metrics simply don't cut the mustard.

Did you ever read the book "Taken By Storm" by McKittrick and Essex?

It was probably the most laughably ignorant book on a science subject I have ever read. I admit I have been tainted by reading that book, and it will take me a while to take climate change skeptics seriously.

It seems to me that ignorant people are swayed by coincidence.
And that educated people are wary of being swayed by that ignorance.

18,000 years ago the ice near the Vermont-Quebec border was a mile thick. Amateur climatologists have not found the smoking gun that caused the sea level to rise 120 meters since the continental glacial ice began to melt. There are two feet of snow in my region when only a few times in the past hundred years was snowfall over a foot from one storm. This is the second major snowfall of the winter and three other snow storms in addition. If it were warm, this would have been over two inches of rain. There is a chance of more snow next week. It is the fourth snowiest winter on record. The snow is still falling Records go back to 1870.

US per capita net worth (inflation adjusted) is in decline.

Your graph shows that it has averaged colder for the last 160 years

Colder than the average for the period from 1961 to 1990, which is what the flat line represents.

The trouble with graphs like this is that people will compare it to their own experience and say, "That's wrong". In fact the trend line has been smoothed and in reality most of the data points will lie outside of the confidence limits.

That's the trouble with smoothing data to emphasize trends. The real data is not that clear. People will notice the anomalies, their BS detectors will go off, and they will reject the entire graph on that basis.

Other problems include the starting point. 1850 was the end of the Little Ice Age, and of course temperatures have risen since then, which knowledgeable people know. Knowledgeable people will also ask, "Well, how does this warm period compare to the Medieval Warm Period?" Saying, "The Medieval Warm Period never occurred" is not going to impress them.

Unfortunately the IPCC rejected evidence of the Medieval Warm Period and minimized the importance of the Little Ice Age, which was denying the obvious. Denying the obvious causes people's BS detectors to go off. The absolute worst case of that was when the IPCC continued insisting that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 when the date was more like 2350 - a problem with transposing digits. Continuing to insist on the 2035 date when all the experts knew that wasn't possible made a lot of people think the IPCC was a bunch of complete idiots.

The bottom line is: Never deny the obvious. If the data is ambiguous, don't fudge the facts to emphasize your case, and don't try to insist you are right when you are obviously wrong, because you will get caught.

A child's garden of deglaciation news

Yeah, if you read all this stuff in one go, you might think the world was coming to an end. The problem I have with all this doom mongering is that I have been in many of those places and would have my own interpretation of what is wrong. In most cases, the real problems these countries have are overpopulation, corruption and government incompetence. (Bhutan excepted - their problem is too much vertical relief in their landscape.) Whether a region has glaciers or not doesn't doesn't change its overall hydrological balance.

The Himalayan glaciers themselves are massive and the Himalayas will have glaciers 200 years from now. Hopefully the governments will be less incompetent by that time and the people will have smartened up and done something about their population growth.

Yeah, if you read all this stuff in one go, you might think the world was coming to an end.

That's why it's called Desdemona Despair: Blogging the End of the World™.

The problem I have with all this doom mongering is that I have been in many of those places and would have my own interpretation of what is wrong.

Then its probably ok, personal interpretations are rarely in error.

If this were turned round and the whole norhtern hemisphere was suffering a heat wave do you still think the scientists would be saying 'this heat wave is nothing to do with global warming...it's just weather'

How about the globe as a whole?

Heavy snows tend to occur in warmish winter weather.
You need warm air to hold the water.
Really cold air is too dry to produce much snow.

Yes, and that is why this weather makes a complete mockery of our armarda of sensors and satellites and leads to a disbelieving public. So you go take that graph round peoples doors around the northern hemishphere and try and say 'look actually January was quite warm' and they laugh and slam the door in your face a bit like a Jehovas Witness.

Which is another reason not to interpret the accuracy of Climate Science by using Polls..

Aside from looking out the windows and seeing the 'weather', they are watching TV, and seeing what Ruppert Murdoch has to say about the weather.

The science itself had been an arcane subject of interest only to specialists. It would have gone on languishing quietly in its little corner except that now there are tremendously expensive (and often politically harebrained) proposals flying thick and fast for acting on it.

Like it or not, when it comes to acting on it - which is the only reason anyone but the specialists cares - climate science will indeed be "interpreted by using polls", oftentimes even in dictatorships. In my estimation, it's blindingly obvious that most of those who stridently advocate expensive actions have blithely ignored this inconvenient truth. And they'd better get it sorted out if they wish for their arcane results ever to be acted upon.

Yes, this always reminds me of the class of second graders that adopted a pet rabbit. They couldn't determine the sex, so they decided to determine whether it was male or female by taking a vote on it.

Even if nearly everyone on the planet 'votes' that the planet isn't doing anything unusual or that even if it is, it has nothing to do with us, that won't change the actual fact that thiry plus billion tons of excess carbon a year pumped into atmosphere is having a deep and planet altering effect on climate and oceans.

Would that we could wish, vote, or poll physical reality away when we found it to be inconvenient to us.

Yes, and that is why this weather makes a complete mockery of our armarda of sensors and satellites and leads to a disbelieving public.

I think that discussion for renewables should adjust to public opinion and sentiment, to some degree (pun intended).

If the masses no longer feel climate change is real, or a motivator for renewables, then find a lever that will.

Far as I know, prices, time left before oil and coal exporters reach a point where they no longer export enough to 'us' is what should be used as a lever.

I still remember how smoggy Los Angeles county was as a kid, before the catalytic converter were on enough cars to make a difference. Everyone fought against switching to unleaded back then, too.

Perhaps pushing 'clean' as a lever, too (though it doesn't seem very effective lately).

I wouldn't mind some 'spin' too. If Americans are the intended audience, push patriotism? :)

The best way to confront weather based deniers is with weather.


SEATTLE -- The National Weather Service says last month was the warmest January on record in Seattle, an average of 47 degrees.

That was about a half-degree warmer than the old record set in 2006. Seattle records go back to 1891.

February has been even balmier so far. We love us some El Nino winters :)

Today was gorgeous. Unfortunately, our N. Cascades snowpack will melt early.

The denialist are winning the propaganda war, while losing the scientific contest (I hate to call it a debate)...

I'm not quite so pessimistic. Global opinion still strongly agrees with the climate science. Even as recently as December, we have this poll from the World Bank: Poll shows unprecedented global concern about climate change

The decline is US numbers is largely attributable to the unprecedented PR and lobbying efforts of the fossil-fuel industries. The recent decline in UK opinion is largely attributable to the somewhat colder than usual winter; it will rise with the next heat wave.

Lest anybody have any doubts about how shallow the average person's thinking is: How Citizens Integrate Information without Ideological Cues: Local Weather and Americans’ Beliefs about Global Warming (pdf).


Much of the recent research on mass public opinion has focused on identifying how messages with ideological cues affect individuals’ attitudes regarding politics. But citizens also receive politically relevant information—including facts about the state of the world and their own personal experiences—that does not come with an ideological label attached. Who uses this information, and to what extent? It is difficult to explore these questions using observational data, because individuals may be exposed to such information in a selective fashion, and self-reports of exposure may not be reliable. In this study, we identify one piece of information that is devoid of ideological content and to which Americans are exposed at random—their local weather—and show that it leads a significant share of the public to reassess its beliefs about the evidence for global warming. This effect is much stronger for the less educated and those with weak partisan ties, and virtually non-existent for the most educated and most partisan citizens. Our results suggest that when politically relevant information is conveyed without ideological cues, political sophistication may prohibit the integration of this information into political beliefs regardless of the direction of one’s predispositions.

Even if everyone agreed with the global climate change paradigm, they would still burn oil and coal until they can't anymore.

That there's a rising derangement in the public mind about the global climate change "conspiracy" changes nothing.

Humans will burn oil and coal until they can't. They will exhaust the recoverable resource, change the climate, then die-back.

(For the record: I learned about global warming as an earth sciences student in high school in 1974. As a lay person, I really have no choice but to respect the scientific consensus.)

Climate Change as a business and religion does offer some hope of preparing for the energy downturn, while making a lot of money for banks and businesses involved on the front-end of climate change rather than the oil producers who will profit otherwise. I wonder if those who say "peak demand" are really just hoping they can provide the cost incentive to curb demand with personal profit rather than leaving it to producers?

To manage climate change would require a level of regulation and control that will be difficult if not impossible to implement, both politically and practically. Its a "complex society" manifestation that is likely to fail early-on during the descent. It's pretty easy to buy and sell oil. It's harder to manage energy credits while controlling the production and consumption of oil.

"Climate Change as a ... religion"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Sorry, but that is just too funny.

When the people that ignore mountains of data, the considered judgments of the top scientists in the field, and their own experience (if they spend any time outside) and cling to their wishfulfillment idea that there is nothing they have to worry about accuse those that accept said data, science and experience for what it is of clinging to a "religion" it is really just too rich.

I'm sorry to see yet another site turn to the dark side and accept uncritically wildly unscientific positions as acceptible bases for rational discussion. A very sad loss.

dohboi -- It is funny how some folks use the "religion" card to dismiss a differing opinion. My personal favorite is still the "Nazi" card. How could anyone believe anything a "Nazi" says? Debate over. But I'm also tempted to use the same weak analogy for folks who think that absolute proof of AGW will change any attempts to maintain BAU. It's easy for me to accept AGW without much study. IMHO it matters not. As oil/NG becomes less available we'll start burning more coal IMHO. We might throw some bucks at the affected folks (if we have any to spare) but that's all. That’s my religion: absolute faith that society will throw the rest of the world under the bus if it comes to burning more coal or economic contraction.

Amen brother, preach on. Good shot at close range ROCKMAN.


Can someone please point me to the climate scientist that has reduced their fossil fuel consumption by 80%? (Please, No carbon offsets accepted.)

How can they still be employed in climate science when they cannot travel to any meetings?

-- Jon

I'm sure they do exist. Certainly we have quite a few TOD commenters (not climate scientists) who have managed to do that. I'd bet that even with airtravel climate scientists probably have a lower on average carbon footprint that the USA/Canadian/Australian average. A couple of plane trips per year are just not that significant. And offsets, provided they are actually carried out, ought to count. It is the net effect on the atmosphere that matters, not a holier than thou demonstration of seriousness (although it would be worthwhile).

Besides the 80% reduction goal is supposed to gradually achieved in several deacdes. I figure my family has reduced our own footprint by about 25years of progress along that goal. Clearly (if we try), it will get easier (cheaper better solar, more efficient appliances etc.). The real key is to get the bulk of people to take the first few steps of that journey. Some of the obstacles will require years to figure out how to bypass. But not knowing all the details of the route ahead of time is no reason to not start.

I'm sure they do exist, too. After receiving my first piece of hate mail based on my comment above I realize that my snarky comment may not properly convey my concerns. Suffice it to say that I have interacted with numerous high level atmospheric and oceanographic scientists during my career and have been disappointed that there is not a more concerted effort to reduce the carbon footprint of their meetings. In this arena I would give the open-source software folks two thumbs up and the climate science community two thumbs down.

As I explained to my hate mail sender, our family is doing our best to 'be the change we want to see' and I would encourage everyone to take conservation of resources seriously and also demand that their conference organizers set a very high bar for reducing the carbon footprint of their conferences. It smacks too much of hypocrisy to see the same people who are insisting we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels at the same time flying around the world, staying in nice hotels and having meat based dinners on the public dime.

I'm not saying this is always the case but I know that it sometimes is. And members of the public looking for hypocrisy will find it here.

I also wouldn't dismiss air travel as not contributing that much to your carbon footprint. Try putting a few international trips into any carbon calculator and look at the results.

Best Hopes for responsible international meetings.

-- Jon

It is interesting that serious efforts at personal conservation don't line up much with political ideology. About the same number on the left and the right are reducing their impact, perhaps for different reasons.

No side has a corner on hypocrisy.

To answer rock up above, I am very far from optimistic that we will do anything other than fry the planet. I prefer to be honest about it rather than deluding ourselves all the way down that everything is just fine. But those that successfully delude themselves will doubtless have a happier time on the way out, ignorance and bliss being what they are.

Besides the huge, well funded and increasingly successful denialism machine, the fact that such obvious measures as intentionally reducing the amount of carbon we UN-sequester by extracting ffs are not even in the discussion leads me to much the same conclusion as rock--there will be much ineffectual handwaving, and even more screaming that there is nothing to even wave hands about, and we will continue to pull the trigger, sparking feedbacks that will propel the earth to a very different and more hostile environment. Events in the Arctic strongly suggest that many of the most powerful of those feedbacks are already well underway.

"employed in climate science". LOL.

Learn something about "soft money". Professors function like supervisors and have research associates, postdocs and graduate students do most of the work. There are 10 times more soft money positions than faculty positions. The only ones truly employed in this "debate" are the skeptic shills.

As for carbon emissions reduction on a personal basis, that is really rich. Just another variation on the ad hominem theme. If Al Gore uses airlines he must be a liar and hypocrite.

I want my plug in electric hybrid and the dozens of fast breeder nuclear reactor plants to make it possible. Most people have to commute to their work places and proletarian transit service is not so optimal.

Instead of denialist b*tching perhaps all you blowhards can work towards true energy independence and avoid the looming oil production decline shock on the economy.

The biggest ever coal export contract for Australia was signed a couple of days ago with China.

THE FACT is that we are not going to tackle AGW so the debate as to whether AGW is real or not is a waste of breath.

Blaming this entirely on PR funded by fossil-fuel industries is wrong.

The IPCC report had flaws.
These flaws have been blown out of proportion because

a) if it bleeds, it leads
And 'exaggerated claims made on poor evidence' is as close to bleeding as you get in science.
The only thing more egregious is 'made up data' - and of course many are claiming that the IPCC included that.

b) there is a political audience primed to reject anything related to govt control

That audience is not primarily funded by fossil fuel industries.
It's just part of the grist for the mill that is mainstream conservative media
which in turn provides the fuel for conspiracy theorists.

I've been wondering if conspiracy theories are on the rise.
It's also possible I'm just interacting with more of them.
1) 9-11 Truthers
2) Obama Birthers
3) 'AGW-is-a-global-fraud'-sters

Of course, a lot of people might consider my 'iraq-war-for-oil' theory as in that category as well ;-)

As a side note, Fox apparently claimed credit for increasing disbelief in the Apollo Moon Landing.

I've been wondering if conspiracy theories are on the rise.
It's also possible I'm just interacting with more of them.
1) 9-11 Truthers
2) Obama Birthers
3) 'AGW-is-a-global-fraud'-sters

I've been thinking a lot about this. It occurs to me that conspiracies arise because of false assumptions that are so basic people don't even think to question them.

Like: "the US is big, powerful, and in control." If you're "on the right" (for lack of a better term) this unquestioned assumption will manifest itself in the conspiracy that 9-11 could have only happened because of a vast Islamic movement that hates your freedom so much they would commit suicide over it. The idea that 9-11 was a manifestation of America's bumbling, inadequate defense system, and of its destructive, self-defeating foreign policy can't be part of it, because America is big, powerful, and in control.

In you're "on the left," the conspiracy is that 9-11 could have only happened because the American government caused it to happen to create a pretext for the Iraq war. That a coterie of religious kooks in the service of political predators could have pulled it off doesn't enter the picture. America is so big, powerful, and in control that they even control history.

Maybe the US isn't in control. Maybe they're incompetent and helpless to do anything about it.

It occurs to me that conspiracies arise because of false assumptions that are so basic people don't even think to question them.

Conspiracy and metaphysics and religion has a historical context also, as they tend to arise at the end of collapsing empires and civilizations (Rome and British for example). I think as things get more frightening and groundless, people gravitate to story and myth to make sense of a confusing and freighting situation.
Humans have developed evolutionary fitness through heuristic thinking, discounting the future, and basing reality on story and myth, and it has worked quite well. These survival strategies are now probably liabilities.

I think as things get more frightening and groundless, people gravitate to story and myth to make sense of a confusing and freighting situation.

We are story-telling animals.

In Sophocles' play, when Oedipus was confronted by the prophet Teiresias with the truth, "YOU are the land's pollution!" Oedipus refused to believe it.

Instead, he concocted a conspiracy theory (story) about the prophet's being in cahoots with Oedipus' brother-in-law to sabotage Oedipus' rule.

The Ancients knew us well.

Staring into the fire
Stirring the coals
Watching the sparks
Soar into the night sky

Telling each other
The tales of the day
The big buffalo hunt
The fish that got away

Then come the tossed bones
The scorched turtle shells
To hint at the story
That only tomorrow tells

"If it all blows up and goes to hell...we do it for the stories we can tell" J Bufffet

5th Century Athens may have been the high water mark, and aside from manipulation our physical world, and dealing with slavery and women's rights, we really haven't got much beyond that,
For a limited number of citizens supported by a slave class, it may have been as good as it got.

The 5th Century BCE was an extraordinary time: it was the age of Zoroaster, Buddha, Socrates, and Confucius, not to mention Xerxes, Pericles, and Herodotus. The last Isaiah was only shortly before. Gore Vidal's novel, Creation, recreates the period.

Not to mention the compilation of the Torah in the post-exilic period.

Not that I believe any of that stuff....

I'm not quite so pessimistic. Global opinion still strongly agrees with the climate science. Even as recently as December, we have this poll from the World Bank:

Yes, but if they can get a major emitter like the USA to take the greedy "no action" route, then most of the rest of the world will also refuse to take substantive actions. The poll that matters isn't a worldwide vote, but rather can they get a few strategically placed locales to become bottlenecks for the global effort. Basic military (and PR campaign) tactics actually.

Now, I can forsee a time when much of the rest of the world will start to boycott US products, much as South Africa was isolated during the long anti-apartied struggle. I don't think they will be pleasant times. I'm not sure if we will resort to military bluster to break/mitigate the boycott, but I don't think the results will be pretty.

Oil futures are a theme today so I'll remind readers that they can review historical NYMEX energy futures (back to June, 2009) at the Energy Futures Databrowser. Here is the chart with yesterday's closing values for NYMEX oil futures:

In this plot we can see the following:

  1. the futures chain for oil has been falling all month and is at the lowest prices this quarter
  2. settlement prices have plateaued after rising most of last year
  3. the steepness of the contango (positive slope of the futures chain) is the lowest it's been in a while

I believe that third item is key. If (when) the global economy further deteriorates this year, I expect us to enter backwardation (negative slope in the futures chain) at least for the front end futures. If this were to happen it could unleash a lot of short covering and temporarily flood the market with oil. Everyone who is holding physical or paper oil, betting on a short term rise in prices, would rapidly exit their trade lowering the price even further. This is the deflationary depression scenario.

Of course, this would also reduce capital available for exploration resulting in more severe shortages in the longer term. So my expectation is that the actual price of oil (as opposed to oil futures) will have a dip in the near term (2010-2011) followed by a steep rise in the longer term (2015-2020). Plotting my expectations as a futures chain would mean backwardation at the front end and contango at the back end.

By following the daily changes in the market futures chain and the near term and longer term slopes of the futures chain we can gain some insight into the outlook of energy traders. Currently, the near term slope is moderately positive implying a belief in a return of demand with a rebounding economy. The longer term slope is subdued positive implying adequate supply and subdued inflation. The recent drop in prices has apparently not affected the outlook of energy traders' models. The shape of the chain is largely the same even though the overall levels have changed. It will be very interesting to see when the shape of the chain changes as this will imply a change in energy traders' models.

What will the futures chain look like when most energy traders believe we are at Peak Oil?

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

If this were to happen it could unleash a lot of short covering and temporarily flood the market with oil.

First I think we are approaching the point that we are already effectively in backwardation the spread is now small enough that holding physical oil for profit has not made sense for a while. This is important because its not resulted in a flood of physical. Basically anyone holding physical through this ever tightening contango should have been reducing storage levels.

Thus its not unreasonable to wonder what would happen if the market goes into clear backwardation and now oil showed up ?

Right now given the way things have been going esp if the trend continues for another month that would be my best guess at what would happen primarily because I feel the market has already done enough to entice physical oil holders to start onloading significant amounts yet its not yet happened thus I think we have already passed the point that a physical flood would show if it existed. If we move into outright and rising backwardation and the oil continues to not show up then things will get very interesting fast.

Now on the financial side and short covering I'd argue that a lot of people are bailing right now. And it could go on for a bit longer. I think in general many people are simply dumping and exiting the market. Moves that eventually drove the price very low in 2008. This time around so far at least it looks to be a bit more controlled so I'd argue every decent rally will lead to extensive selling with a lot of people simply exiting the market. This eventually makes the market even more sensitive and if we go into backwardation and the oil does not show up it will be difficult to contain the volatility. In fact we have already seen some pretty impressive volatility. Now with that said I actually don't think that when we enter actual backwardation that a lots going to initially happen. This makes sense if we have already been in effective backwardation for some time thus by simply becoming real it does not change a lot. Things begin to change only have the backwardation has held for a while and the physical clearly is not coming in.

DEFCON 2, and on our way to DEFCON 1 ... 2010, and living most interesting times !

Link up rop: Endless Oil: Peak Production vs. Oil Price

In her opinion the “oil recovery rate” (from oil in place) would climb rapidly, and eventually could amount to more than 50%. In my oil book, written 30 years ago, the figure was 32%, and according to the article being discussed, it is still below 35%. I will admit however that at the time I wrote my book, I too believed that a large increase in the recovery rate would soon take place, however when an American businessman in Vienna called me a fool for entertaining that thought, I smartened up.

I am curious does anyone know what the average recovery rate for all the world's oil reservoirs are. According to the The U.S. Department of Energy it is about one third. That is just over 33 percent. However they say that C02 injection will be a game changer, that production will be increased from one third to over 60 percent. Is this kinda like nuclear fusion, just a few years down the road... and always will be. Does anyone know what the real story is here?

Enhanced Oil Recovery/CO2 Injection

This work evaluating the potential of "game changing" improvements in oil recovery efficiency for CO2-EOR illustrates that the wide-scale implementation of next generation CO2-EOR technology advances have the potential to increase domestic oil recovery efficiency from about one-third to over 60 percent.

Ron P.

Ron -- I know you're familiar with some of the basics of EOR. But for the benefit of others: most important there is no such thing as an average recover rate because there is no such thing as an average field. Primary production can recover 8% to 60%. The average is not (8+60)/2. There are fields which CO2 can increase recovery significantly. There are reservoirs which CO2 will not recover 1 extra babble of oil. The same can be said for all EOR methods. Thus if there were 30 billion bbls of oil still in place how much would be recovered by CO2 injection? Who knows? How much of that 30 billion bbl would benefit from CO2 injection and to what extent? How much of those 30 b bbls of oil would have zero benefit from CO2? From other EOR methods?

A more basic point: if a field (part of that X billion bbls of future potential EOR) would benefit from CO2 injection guess what? It’s probably already being done. In fact, CO2 EOR might have started 40 years ago. This one THE most annoying aspects of some cornucopian rants about the future oil potential of EOR: the present the technology as something new that hasn’t been tried before. Texas has been a huge source of historical oil production in the U.S. Guess how many oil fields in Texas in which some form of EOR would help and it's not being employed? As far as I know the answer is ZERO. Why? Because we know all about EOR and have for over 50 years. And the oil fields are privately owned and we are free to do what ever makes economic sense. There may be some foreign fields that could certainly benefit. Why haven’t EOR been applied? Who knows: political factors, lack of capital, lack of financial viability. But there are many major foreign fields that have been undergoing EOR for decades.

Back to the basic problem: if we had the details on the major foreign oil fields we could make a fair guess of EOR potential. But we don’t and thus can’t. But the approach of taken the X billion of bbls of past oil recovery and applying some assumption of EOR recovery potential is beyond naïve IMHO. It’s grossly dishonest.

Ron - Ace's article here on Saudi Arabia's Crude Oil Reserves Propaganda has a nice graph of RF banded by P1 reserves, also links to presentations and articles supporting the ca. 35% figure.

I looked up "recovery factor" at the EIA website and found this .pdf: International Petroleum Production Model. Get a load of the file name: modelingpeakoil.pdf. Thought they didn't believe in that stuff! This slide from a 2000 EIA paper denigrates Campbell and Laherrère: PPT Slide.

4. As a hypothetical illustration, assume that the original world oil-in-place is 6 trillion barrels, as shown in this graph. Campbell and Laherrere’s 1.8 trillion barrel recoverable resource estimate (right column) would imply a 30 percent recovery factor, mostly comprised of cumulative production and proved reserves.

Ace links to a 2004 ASPO presentation (.ppt) from BP's Francis Harper, in which he states:

The average global oil recovery factor is about 30-35%

That EIA presentation is very interesting reading.

1. This graph shows the 2 percent production growth rate with the 3 USGS resource levels.

2. Note that the timing of the estimated production peak is relatively insensitive to variations in the resource base estimate. For example, adding 900 billion barrels - more oil than the world has produced to date - to the mean resource estimate on the 2 percent growth path only delays the estimated production peak by 10 years.

Cornucopians take note.

To add some points at ROCKMAN's comment: CO2-EOR could only significantly increase world oilproduction many years past peak, because of the low flow rates. To extract the extra Gb from oilfields with CO2-EOR takes many decades. Correct me if I'm wrong when there are exceptions to this 'general rule'.
There are other problems. I read last year that in the U.S. at least 89 Gb of oil could be recovered with CO2-EOR, but that the biggest obstacle is the lack of availability of CO2. And what about the obstacle investments ? In England they are starting a CCS project near a big coal mine. Takes many years to construct and only the network of pipelines will cost a few billions. A spokesman from the coalmine said that even then electricity from coal will be less expensive than from windmills. It probably is, but what else he can say ? And what about peak coal ?

Re: CO2 EOR might have started 40 years ago. This one THE most annoying aspects of some cornucopian rants about the future oil potential of EOR: the present the technology as something new that hasn’t been tried before.

Yes, Rockman, the annoying thing is the that cornucopians assume the oil companies are complete idiots and have not already used EOR techniques when they made sense.

I started working in the Canadian oil industry back in the 1970s, and even then we were doing miscible flood projects to increase oil recovery. (We used NGLs instead of CO2 because we did not have big CO2 fields like Texas.) Sure, it worked, but we only used it where it made economic sense. In most fields, you lose more liquids by injecting solvents than you recover in addition oil, so there's no point in doing it. And in most places they don't have sources of CO2, so estimating additional recovery is an "If wishes were horses" exercise.

Re: if we had the details on the major foreign oil fields we could make a fair guess of EOR potential. But we don’t and thus can’t.

That's exactly right. We need to know the reservoir characteristics to know whether it is a winning or losing proposition. And it's a hypothetical exercise because the NOCs (National Oil Companies) are in charge in most places, and it's their call. Probably they won't do it because they don't care about our problems. They have enough problems of their own. Their national governments take all the revenues and don't leave them with enough money to do extensive EOR projects.

Various OECD governments are racing each other to the financial cliff edge, in the Grand Prix of Debt Race, and CR has a Eurozone update regarding the European competitors in the race:


Here is a projected image for the winner:

It looks like some US state governments, e.g., Illinois and California, may beat the European competitors to the edge.

If California and Illinois were countries they would be France and Mexico

And I believe California would be the sixth largest country in the world. Think what the EU zone discussion would be like if we were talking about France going under...oh wait..that's sorta what we're talking about.

Dude you never know Argentina is not going to take these games lying down. A lot of other South American countries also realize that if they don't get busy the could lose big time.

Sooner or later a country is going to realize that the first guy to default is the only one thats going to get significant aid as its a storm brewing and the losers will be left hanging. See picture :)

I've been thinking about the US dollar's improbable strength this week and how it may relate to the recent "peak demand" claim being made by the IEA, BP and ME oil experts. If you haven't heard, these oil experts are saying the US will never again use as much oil as it did in 2005 - 2007 ... that we've passed our peak of demand. Could "peak demand" be another way of saying we're now on an "import quota"? I've heard a number of explanations for why our demand has peaked (more efficient vehicle mix, etc.) but I just don't buy any of them. The only reason we're using less oil is the recession, but that won't last forever ... so what gives?

How can they all be so sure we won’t use more oil? Is it possible the US agreed to a self-imposed import quota in exchange for our creditor's continued support of our currency?

Here's where we are according to a 2007 GAO report: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/27919

Now check out their graph.

Notice that peak oil for the rest of the world (minus OPEC) just happened. We (peak oil junkies) have been focused on when the world's production would peak and may have missed the bigger picture. OPEC is now in control of the growth of the world's oil supply, and for now, world economic growth! Did we decide to limit imports or have we been put on a quota? Either way, I suspect we are now living under the shaded portion of the graph.

Or developing countries are, in effect, outbidding developed countries for a declining supply of global net oil exports. My outlook for the US, and for most oil importing OECD countries, is that we can look forward to being able to buy a falling share of a declining volume of global net oil exports.

Yes, but not long ago the dollar was facing a crisis of confidence. According to reports our creditors were demanding concessions. What caused the dollar's improbable turnaround? Sure wasn't our trade surplus or deficit controls.

Perception is everything in markets. For instance the "fix" in Greece is allegedly around a 25 billion euro loan. In the US, $34 billion is less than 9 days interest on the Federal debt. The "fix" here was more than $2 trillion, and we are still adding. The big elephant is the $12,450 trillion Federal debt, the $1.56 trillion deficit, and the continuing $400-800 billion annual current account deficit. With a structural unemployment rate in the "9-10%" range or losing 8.4 million jobs, aging workforce, SS and Medicare shortfalls, and endless wars, the forecasted $1 trillion deficits for 10 years seems low.
It will not be long before the US debt issue regains the top billing.

Perception is everything in markets. For instance the "fix" in Greece is allegedly around a 25 billion euro loan. In the US, $34 billion is less than 9 days interest on the Federal debt. The "fix" here was more than $2 trillion, and we are still adding. The big elephant is the $12,450 trillion Federal debt, the $1.56 trillion deficit, and the continuing $400-800 billion annual current account deficit. With a structural unemployment rate in the "9-10%" range or losing 8.4 million jobs, aging workforce, SS and Medicare shortfalls, and endless wars, the forecasted $1 trillion deficits for 10 years seems low.
It will not be long before the US debt issue regains the top billing.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens in this race to the bottom for currencies. The USD is a weakling. It just so happens that right now the Euro is getting weaker faster than the dollar. If the dollar index basket of currencies included China's remnimbi we would probably see a markedly different story.

In fact, all the currencies are getting weak.

What caused the dollar's improbable turnaround?

Try this on for size - the monetary havens are mainly Europe and the USA. They've been competing strenuously to see which can outdo the other in spending money they don't have (or, more precisely, that symbolizes assets and so on that do not exist.) So the prize sloshes back and forth randomly.

Go to The Automatic Earth and read their primers. They have long predicted a crash, a stimulus run-up, then a downturn coupled with a strengthening dollar as a flight to safety (a couple of years), and then a weakening dollar for a long time after that. The run-up (where we're at now) has been longer and stronger than many expected. Probably it's about over.

There are many players with vested interests. Contrary to some beliefs voiced here, I think the EU wants a weaker Euro to stimulate exports. China needs the same for their Yen and their exports. We want exports but also need a strong dollar for energy and product imports -- so we're conflicted. For the near term, the strong-dollar will win with monetary supply deflation of the dollar, driven by debt collapsing faster than quantitative easing can manage -- this lets the gov't keep borrowing for a while longer, and we can pretend to successfully maintain BAU on the front side while individuals and businesses crumble from the back. Then, we crash hard as debt service overwhelms the gov't, with little to export and little value to buy energy with, and we have to re-base our economy with less energy (locally produced) and a weak-dollar. This mean we end up with a production economy not a service economy, with massive unemployment for decades during the transition. Really, it'll be a lot like the Great Depression only without cheap energy and abundant resources and diversified subsistence agriculture.


Excellent summary which I happen to agree with.

-- Jon

Yes indeed, a nice, suscinct overview. Will we soon be going hat in hand to the Chinese and others to beg for debt forgiveness?

Oddly, that is the best solution for everybody to keep BAU. The real question is how long will China want to keep shipping us stuff for free, in order to keep their people working?

I think they will do the normal bankruptcy thing and want to trade debt for equity -- they'll forgive in return for cropland or other assets. And interestingly at the lowest point of deflation they could do that just by buying stuff with their foreign reserves.

I think to survive we'll end up reneging at least twice -- once on some key near-term debts, then via devaluation for long-term debts, then nationalization of foreign-owned assets.

Oddly, that is the best solution for everybody to keep BAU

Everybody alive today.
But what about tomorrow's children?

If we keep BAU rolling forward,
it increases the chance of technological solutions
which could keep the population, civilization, and knowledge expanding.

But if the technological solutions are not forthcoming,
it sets us up for a harder fall.

On the other hand, choosing to 'power down'
might decrease the chance of technological solutions,
increases the chance of collpase (fast or slow)
while softening the impact of the collapse.

BAU is in a very real sense a "double down" bet,
since it requires exponential growth,
and increases the loss if the bet fails.

But, then again, you can't win if you don't play the game.

A dilemma.

which could keep the population, civilization, and knowledge expanding.

While I agree that population and knowledge (as opposed to wisdom) are increasing, I think that civilization is currently shrinking.


Yep, the Barbarism Index is on the rise and being pushed to new heights by the fervered efforts of the United States.

Some (not all) of this is in the Millennium Institute model results under BAU. And there are workable solutions, but it is too late to start now without severe bumps along the way.

About 7 or 8 years of investment till things turn positive *IF* we make the investments.


The only reason we're using less oil is the recession, but that won't last forever

Who sez? Why?

Alan from the islands

". . . it's going to be cold, it's going to be gray, and it's going to last you for the rest of your life."


Obviously not you, Jeff!

Alan from the islands

Segueing to this peak demand bit for just a moment. 'Peak Demand'? I have the impression that the same people that have been in denial about 'Peak Oil' are the same ones touting peak demand. Do they think people of their own volition simply decided to use less of the stuff? They don't even get it that the use of less oil is a financial feedback from the recession, due to high prices from peak oil. Its like you could put blinders on these people and they would be just fine, because that's the way they are already. Blind to what is going on.

Oh they get it. They just can't accept it ... so they renamed it.

Palmer annouces Australia's "biggest" export deal with China

I think this shows a couple of things

1) Richard Heinberg and others may be right about China approaching an early coal peak

2) Australia's domestic cap-and-trade scheme is greenwashing, not about saving CO2

As China runs out of coal and increasingly turns to Australia the additional CO2 will swamp the tiny savings made with the internal emissions trading scheme. I suggest that coal exports should be slapped with $50 a tonne levy paid into a United Nations fund. The levy is a kind of carbon tax in lieu. The coal importing countries get the money back from the UN to spend hopefully on green programs but basically whatever they want. The UN won't have time to concern itself with offsets.

Sure a $50 levy on top of say $90 per tonne for thermal coal is going to be a demand killer. But didn't those coal importing countries just return from Copenhagen each promising to cut carbon? The coal export levy is just to help them along that path.

Good thinking,Boof except for involving the United Nations.

The UN is about the most corrupt and incompetent collection of parasites which could be found and that is saying something.

Let's keep your $50/tonne levy and spend it on getting coal out of electricity generation in Australia,just for a start.

I am not sure that I agree with you. As with many countries, China may just find that it is cheaper to import coal from Australia (which has some seams that are very close to the surface and thick, thus easy and cheap to mine) than it is, at this time, to go after some of their deeper, and thus more expensive coal. Or it could just be that they can't gear up fast enough to develop their own resources when there are available supplies on the world market at reasonable cost. And it may be a shipping problem. It may be easier to get coal from abroad to a port and nearby factories that it is to ship it by train across the country.

Boof -- Re: China appraching Peak Coal caught a headline this morning: China signed a $40 (?) billion coal import deal with the Aussies. They appear to understand their situation

The good/bad news is that if Chinese coal production does peak around 2015 then imported coal can't make up the shortfall. Australian coal exports to all countries are little more than 10% of what China burns annually.

I suggest the consequences are major. It could mean the China bubble bursts and that as the major coal user that global emissions could actually decline. What bugs me is that the Australian government 'big noted' itself at Copenhagen yet it does more to increase emissions than it does to cut them. Worse still they will probably approve half a million new immigrants on the basis of coal industry jobs. The government talks up the low carbon economy but does everything to prolong carbon dependence.

Initial year declines are likely to be modest in China. Meanwhile the Chinese:

Are building more efficient coal fired plants (more electricity per tonne of coal).

Building 16 or 17 new nukes.

Have 82 GW of new hydro scheduled and much of it under construction

13+ GW of new wind in 2009

Ordered 2 GW solar PV last year

Combined, such efforts may offset decline sin coal production from 2016-2020+


I agree with Alan. The Chinese are very agressively persuing the other forms of energy. The advantage of the autocratic system of government, is that thay can pursue a long term strategy, even if it is inconvenient for the people. They don't have to wait until the fuel/energy market sends an unmistakable price signal to react. They are planning to double wind capacity every year for at least the next decade. They understand that with longish lead times they can't just sit on their hands. IOW we were capable of something similar.

This is a seriously big deal for Australia. It works out to something like $3,000 for every person in Australia, or about $12,000 per family. I don't expect the Australian government to leap up and say, "No, we won't do it! Global warming is too big a problem". More likely they'll find a way to rationalize it.

From China's perspective, it works out to a little over $20 per person, or $60 per family (one child policy, you know). Yes, I think they can afford it.

Canadian coal is also for sale. For further information contact the Canadian government. The Minister of International Trade is standing by to accept your call.

For people in other countries, there may be numerous opportunities available to drive 400-ton trucks in the Australian coal fields.

One wonders how anyone who believes strongly in global peak production of oil could fall for the "it's cold here, so there is no AGW" line.

That's like saying one oil field in Brazil is increasing production, so there is no peak oil.

If you do not take into account the entire globe, then you miss the point.

As Washington DC gets buried in 2 feet of snow today, the Arctic struggles to replace ice thickness.

My neck of the woods in southern Australia recorded its highest temperature ever a month ago. That sort of thing tends to get overlooked. I wonder if the northern hemisphere summer will be hot, cool or average. If it's hot people that may persuade more people the climate is changing.

Most of the deniers on this site work for the energy industry. They probably believe that they will make a lot of money has energy becomes more scarce -- perhaps, they even have fantasies of becoming idolized. I doubt if they came to their conclusions about peak oil objectively.

WUWT - UAH global satellite data has record warmest day for January

The brightness global temperature near the surface was T = -16.36 °C which may not look excessively warm but it is actually 0.11 °C warmer than the warmest January temperature recorded by UAH so far – which was on January 5th, 2007 (-16.47 °C)

The globe is getting warmer but it doesn't mean global warming is happening :p

WUWT: playground of Dunning-Kruger and cognitive dissonance.

Back to gravel roads in some Ind. counties?

Steuben County highway engineer Keith Lytton said returning badly damaged chip-and-seal roads to gravel is a decision his county might have to make in the next five years if revenue doesn’t improve.

“It’s not going to be pretty to go back to gravel anymore. Our society is not ready for that. Your cars aren’t ready for that,” he said.

Will Leanan be back tomorrow? I see her name posting articles over at PO.com.

Don't let us rush you out the door, Gale.

I've got a couple of dumb questions. (But then again, as one of my school teachers once said, "The only dumb question is the one you don't ask.") Pardon the stupidity of these questions, but I'm not a geologist.

First: What mineral resources are located in or near Haiti?

Second: Is it possible for deep drilling activities to induce an earthquake?

While I appreciate whatever answers people give for these questions, I'm really interested in hearing from the oil industry experts we have here.


"First: What mineral resources are located in or near Haiti?"
there are a few spots in Haiti were the soil is high in nutrient, some locals harvest this, take it to the population centers were women turn it into "cakes", Not joking.

"Second: Is it possible for deep drilling activities to induce an earthquake?"
The only direction I can point to (not being an oil industry expert) is the data from the recently shut Cal. geothermal projects and the one(s) in Norway(?)
Also Bob Shaw used to post alot about a well that turned into a huge mud thingy. I haven't looked into that in a while, but if it's still keeping up at it's previous pace the earth will quake

Here's an article that should be added to the above TOD list.


'Arctic climate changing faster than expected'

The research project involved more than 370 scientists from 27 countries who collectively spent 15 months, starting in June 2007

AGW deniers should take note of those statistics above. They did not include landscapers, parking lot attendents, dishwashers, secretaries, plumbers or chefs espousing opinions. No, these are scientists collecting data in the field. Get it, actual information instead of random opinionated conjecture.

Not that there's anything wrong with those jobs, its just that climatologists should be the only ones given a platform when it comes to information on climate change. Armchair climatologists need not apply.

Models predicted only a few years ago that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by the year 2100, but the increasing pace of climate change now suggests it could happen between 2013 and 2030, Barber said.

The scientists have not yet produced conclusions, but they expect to publish dozens of academic papers.

Stoneleigh is planning to come to Austin, Texas, some time during the month of May for a couple of days. I am collecting names of people who are interested in meeting her and listening to her talk about the current economic situation. If you are interested in visiting with Stoneleigh and listening to a presentation, please email me at paulahatfield at yahoo, a commercial site.

We are trying to get a count of likely participants so we can look for an appropriate venue and make other plans.

As most of you know, Stoneleigh writes and comments at The Automatic Earth.

well! have you reduced your lifestyle today?
"Feb 5, 6:48 PM EST
Goldman CEO Blankfein gets $9M stock bonus for 09
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein is getting a $9 million stock bonus for 2009, a modest payday by Wall Street standards that appears aimed at quelling criticism of the bank's compensation practices."

why dont he take $14 an hour like pundits on the oil conundrum say autoworkers should only get? talk about reducing lifestyles.

and what of "secret" banksters' meetings?
" THE world's top central bankers began arriving in Australia yesterday as renewed fears about the strength of the global economic recovery gripped world share markets."

maybe they are going to fix the price of stone knives and bearskins. maybe they are planning the great die off, 99.999% of current human population gone! talk about reducing your lifestyle! and what is the carbon foot print of all those crooks getting together?

what of deep oil, abiotic or otherwise. isnt it true that the deeper you go the more radioactivity there is? i submit that there has to be some radioactive deep oil. would that oil be refined and distributed?

why not. we have atomic power plants releasing radioactive compounds into ground water and "it's all good".

of course fracking byproducts are "all good" also.

the big coal deal between australia and china. six hundred sixty million tons of coal. 660,000,000 tons. to be burned and release carbon monoxide and dioxide. hmmm....well, so much for AGW hey?

why arent "they" recovering methane gas from the underground coal mine in PA? there was a post recently here about just that process.

leave us not forget titan, a moon of saturn. it's covered in hydrocarbons. IT HAS LAKES OF METHANE!!!! and no blue people to worry about, ala avaTAR.

"people walking on the moon. smog will get you pretty soon"

check this out on english russia:
"Now it’s not clear who was that this genius who first came up with an idea of getting the oil right from the sea bottom where it was still plenty of it and for this purpose to build a real city 42 km (25 miles) off the coast right in the middle of the sea, but what we know is that this idea came into play and by some crazy chance it got support from that times Soviet leaders who leveraged it with the all support the biggest (by the territory) state could offer at that time. What this meant is that in a matter of just a few month a real town was built right in the middle of the nowhere on giant steel blocks coming from the sea bottom, from as deep as hundreds of feet down. And they called it “Oil Stones”."

We all know the story of Iran claiming they will ship their uranium outside their country for enrichment to 20%.

Well, they never intended to do any such thing. Read the article below:


They will now do it themselves. If I'm Israel, that's it, I've had enough.

Why would Isreal be worried about this? Do you honestly beieve that the world would just stand back and watch if Iran even breatheed at Isreal the worng way. Iran arn't going to harm any other country. They just want to assert a right to do what they want without the rest of the world interfering. There is so much anti-iran propaganda flying round right now that it's just ridiculous. I mean come on, look what happened to the last two village idoits that tried to invade or attack another country: in Kuwait and North Poinsettia (that funny poisonous plant country:-))

Why would Isreal be worried about this? Do you honestly beieve that the world would just stand back and watch if Iran even breatheed at Isreal the worng way. Iran arn't going to harm any other country.

Israel is believed to have 100+ nuclear weapons in its arsenal. The problem worrying the rest of the world is that Iranian extremists might use an atomic bomb on Israel, and that Israel would then wipe out most of Iran's large cities. An even bigger concern is that Iran might threaten Israel, and that Israel might then launch a preemptive strike on Iran. When everybody has nuclear weapons, bluffing is a bad idea.

In a rational world that would not happen, but this is not a completely rational world, particularly in the Middle East.