Drumbeat: February 9, 2010

UK gas rises as suspected field faults hit gas supply: sources

A gas shortage caused by several suspected faults affecting UK North Sea gas fields lifted prompt gas prices toward 40 pence/therm, traders said.

The Britannia gas field in the North Sea was said to have tripped after flows into Mobil's St Fergus terminal halved to 12 million cubic meters/day although that was not confirmed. The sharp decline started at around 09:00 GMT, with flows stabilizing at the new level thereafter.

Another unconfirmed fault was said to have cutback supplies into the Bacton Seal terminal, where flows have reduced to around 16 million cu m/d from 20 million cu m/d earlier in the day. Further aggravating several UK supply glitches, the Norwegian Langeled pipeline scaled back flows by 10 million cu m/d to 60 million cu m/d.

National Grid showed the system was 6 million cu m/d short, with demand estimated at 410 million cu m/d--still far outstripping seasonal norms.

Will Energy Plant Explosion Mean Higher Electric Rates?

In order to make the project come together, the state authorized Connecticut Light & Power to promise 15 years' worth of payments to Kleen Energy — in essence locking ratepayers into a long-term deal.

According to the plant owners' website, that contract would guarantee a 'strike price' of $13.40 per kilowatt/month. So if the wholesale market is paying $10 per kilowatt, the utility would have to pay $3.40 extra to Kleen Energy. But if the wholesale market is paying $15.40, Kleen would, in effect, have to pay CL&P $2.

These payments would account for 60 percent of the plant's revenues. With that contract, Kleen Energy was able to secure $1.3 billion in financing, including a debt issue by Goldman Sachs, trade journal ProjectFinance reported last year.

Austin Energy Revamps Solar Incentive Program

The municipal electric utility said the new approach saves $2.4 million over the life of the program compared to the old way of administering the program for those customers.

Rather than provide an upfront rebate on the installation of solar systems, Austin Energy will pay for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced over a 10-year period. This is known as a fixed performance-based incentive (PBI) and it achieves two goals. First, it provides a fixed payment flow to a system owner by which payback can be calculated and second, it encourages proper design and maintenance of systems to maximize their production.

Over the next five years, the PBI program is expected to pay, on average, 8 cents per kWh of solar energy produced with program funding sufficient for almost 260 solar systems, each up to 20 kW in size. Total PBI payments over the next 14 years under the plan are projected at $4.8 million.

Venezuela offers carrot or stick in energy crisis

Facing anger at a major shortfall in electricity supply, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez promised consumers and businesses big discounts for slashing energy consumption, but ordered fines if they do not comply.

Spain Power Grid Can Feed 10M Electric Cars-Iberdrola Chmn

pain's electricity system can supply power to some 10 million electric cars if charging were to be made at night when general demand is low, Ignacio Galan, chairman of electricity company Iberdrola SA (IBE.MC), said Tuesday.

A gradual buildup of an electric car fleet will help the European Union to reach its targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts and renewable power penetration, he added. Galan spoke during a meeting with European Union competition ministers in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian, Iberdrola said in a release.

Galan cautioned, however, that electric cars still need to overcome hurdles related to batteries, the buildup of a recharge system, and regulation.

Global oil prices to rise, weak refining to continue: Barclays

Global oil prices are set to strengthen while refining margins will remain weak over the next several years, Barclays Capital said in its Global Energy Outlook Monday.

The report cites Barclays' "preference for crude oil- and upstream-biased investments, relative to natural gas and downstream oil," adding there is "price support for crude in 2010 and even more so in 2011 as demand recovers, inventories return to balance and new supply slows."

In contrast, Barclays analysts said they "expect refining capacity additions to exceed demand growth at least until 2012."

Peak Oil Is a Crock

The good news about supply? Peak oil is a crock. There’s plenty of oil. It’s just harder to get to it now than it was 20 years ago. By the way, there’s also plenty of natural gas. Problem is, the natural gas is trapped in shale rock. And the oil is deep underground or below miles of sea or mixed with sand or in places where the underground pressure to bring it up has fizzled out.

The question isn’t whether the technology exists to get hundreds of billions of barrels out of the ground. The technology is there. But in many cases, deploying it is an expensive proposition.

How to light a fire under the oil companies? The answer doesn’t lie in government subsidies and grants. That’s the last thing the oil sector needs. Let the marketplace motivate them. Let supply run low and prices run high. With fat profit margins to fall back on, new technologies will be unleashed.

Ghana Blocks Exxon Oil-Field Deal

The government of Ghana blocked the estimated $4 billion sale of a stake in a huge oil field, foiling months of talks between potential buyer Exxon Mobil Corp. and the stake's owner, Kosmos Energy LLC.

The government accused Dallas-based Kosmos of cutting Ghana's state-run oil company out of discussions about the field's development and then sharing information about the field with potential buyers without government permission. The government in recent months itself has scouted for partners to work with Ghana's oil company, including state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp.

Ghanaian Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei said state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp. would be the only entity allowed to buy the Kosmos stake in the so-called Jubilee field.

Equipment for oil production in Jubilee Field arrive in Ghana

The sub sea equipment required for the production of oil from the Jubilee Field off the Coast of Ghana in the Western Region, have begun arriving in the country.

"This is a strong indication that the operator of Jubilee Field, Tullow Ghana Limited, is ready to produce first oil by the last quarter of this year," the company said in a statement issued in Accra on Monday.

Using Smokestack Gases to Pump Oil

Denbury Resources, Seeking Source of Carbon Dioxide for its Fields, to Scrub Emissions From Dow Chemical Plant

By mid-2011, Denbury plans to treat and ship its first batch of industrial emissions from a Dow Chemical Co. factory in Plaquemine, La., to its oil fields in Texas via a pipeline network it is building. Although the U.S. government recently announced funding for a host of other "industrial carbon capture" projects, the Dow project is unique because itappears to be economically viable without government aid.

Denbury wants to capture the entirety of the Dow plant's annual carbon-dioxide emissions, taking a liability off Dow's hands equivalent to the annual emissions of 27,000 cars. Denbury even would pay Dow as much as a few hundred thousand dollars a year pegged to rising or falling oil prices. Dow—the world's largest producer of ethylene oxide, a chemical building block used in products from beverage bottles to aircraft de-icers—says it "is open to similar [carbon dioxide] capture arrangements," spokesman David Winder said.

It's Official: The Oil Export Crisis Has Arrived (Chris Nelder)

Last March, my study of the effect of peak oil on U.S. imports had brought Mexico to the fore (“The Impending Oil Export Crisis”). As our #3 source of imports, the crashing of its supergiant Cantarell field had put the future of our oil supply into serious jeopardy.

The possibility that Mexico’s oil and gas exports to the U.S. could go to zero within seven years looked very real. . .

Now Venezuela has appeared on my radar for similar reasons…only this time we’re really going to feel it.

Welder's torch may have been cause of gas explosion at power plant

Investigators are focusing on a welder's torch as the possible cause of Sunday's deadly blast at the Kleen Energy Power Plant, sources said.

The explosion that killed five and injured more than a dozen occurred immediately after the purging, or cleaning, of the underground, natural-gas pipeline that runs about 800 to 1,000 feet through the Kleen Energy plant.

Sources familiar with the investigation and with the purging operation said that welding work wasn't entirely halted during or immediately after the purging Sunday morning. This operation can result in an accumulation of natural gas that must be vented from rooms and enclosures before other ignition sources, such as a welder's blow torch, can be safely introduced, experts said.

Gas-pipe purging linked to seven big explosions since 1997

The cause of the explosion at the Kleen Energy natural-gas plant has yet to be determined. But a federal safety board had recently urged stronger safety codes for the process of gas-pipe purging, which was under way at the plant in Middletown, Conn.

US urged new safety standards days before Middletown explosion

The US Chemical Safety Board, citing seven instances where workers died purging gas lines, released urgent new recommendations just three days before the Middletown explosion in Connecticut Sunday that killed at least five people.

Peak Oil in 5 Years:Virgin Boss Branson's Warnings

Of course it should be taken into account that Branson runs a major UK rail operator when he talks of the urgency of government action on peak oil. Similarly, Solarcentury founder Jeremy Leggett is hardly an impartial bystander. . .

Only a few short years ago, Peak Oil seemed to be the topic of choice for paranoid bloggers, the more radical environmentalists and fringe survivalist groups. Now the conversation is getting decidedly mainstream. Heck, even some folks at the IEA say peak oil could come sooner than we think. Given the context of our recent financial upheavals, Branson and Leggett's warnings to play it safe rather than sorry seem timely indeed. How else are we supposed to vacation in space when the oil runs out?

Despite millions in tax credits, wind-energy firms aren't hiring

Despite the Obama administration's efforts to create jobs making wind turbines in America, some companies say that sluggish demand for wind energy is holding them back.

The growth in wind-farm installations in the U.S. was a product of federal stimulus spending. Nonetheless, wind-equipment manufacturers cut as many as 2,000 jobs last year. According to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group, the drop in U.S. jobs is due, in part, to the lack of a long-term national policy that would require a certain percentage of American electricity to come from renewable sources.

About half the wind turbines installed in the U.S. were made overseas.

A check with some companies that want to get into the wind-manufacturing business found that even some qualifying for clean-energy-manufacturing tax credits aren't able to create jobs quickly because they don't see enough demand for wind energy.

China denies $US60bn coal deal with Clive Palmer's Resourcehouse

CHINA's largest power company has denied it has signed a $US60 billion ($69.4bn) deal with mining millionaire Clive Palmer.

Mr Palmer said on the weekend his company, Resourcehouse, had signed a $US60bn, 20-year coal export contract with China Power International Development.

Announcing the deal, Mr Palmer said it was Australia's biggest ever export contract and would bring Resourcehouse's giant China First thermal coalmine in Queensland a step closer to reality.

But China's state-controlled Xinhua news agency has reported that China Power International Development, a unit of major power producer China Power Investment Corp, has denied the reports that it had signed a $US60bn coal-supply deal with Resourcehouse.

Clive Palmer corrects 'error' as China denies price talks have begun

MINING millionaire Clive Palmer has corrected his announcement of a $US60 billion ($69.5bn) coal-supply deal with China, after a Chinese company official said price talks had not yet started. Mr Palmer had said on the weekend that his company, Resourcehouse, had signed a major, 20-year coal export contract with China Power International Development.

China Plans to Increase LNG Imports on Gas Shortage

China plans to increase its imports of liquefied natural gas to ease a domestic shortage of the fuel, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration.

China’s gas companies should sign more long-term LNG contracts in order to take advantage of a global surplus of the fuel, Zhang was quoted as saying in the Xinhua report.

More on Virginia's Quest to Explore for Oil and Gas

API is closed today due to the weather. The heavy snowfall has made travel - including commuting - to and from the nation's capital extremely difficult and even dangerous. Today, I'm working from a remote location where I have heat, electricity and connectivity, making me much more fortunate than many of my colleagues who live in areas with downed trees and power lines.

On the Internet today, I had the opportunity to read an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times, which describes some of the issues surrounding Virginia's desire to explore for oil and natural gas 50 miles off its coastline.

Energy realism: ExxonMobil and wind

In other words, wind power is already amongst the cheapest source of electricity, and if any minimal accounting for some externalities is put in place (such as a price for carbon emissions), it becomes the cheapest. Of course, as we know, "cheapest" does not necessarily translate into "most profitable."

Does peak demand = peak supply?

Last week’s post about Tony Hayward’s comments on ‘peak demand’ attracted some good comments. Here’s our response as a post - since it got rather long:

Firstly, audio of the Hayward interview is now online here. There are some other interesting comments that weren’t picked up in the print reports, including the world’s ability - and particularly China and India’s - to handle high oil prices.

The dirty fuel/developing countries conundrum

Despite the largely disappointing outcome of Copenhagen and the fact that worldwide emissions are growing apace, there are still optimists in the clean energy sector. These individuals would have us believe there is a kind of unassailable momentum made up of political sentiment, fear of regulation, and consumer and shareholder insistence.

There’s some evidence for this argument, though it’s mostly limited to developed countries, where demand for some types of energy are peaking anyway. For example: a couple of weeks ago we looked at a report about the death of US coal. The news flow since then on coal has yielded quite a few arguments in favour of the optimistic line. The chief executive of Alstom, which makes all kinds of power plant turbines, was reported as saying at Davos that renewables and nuclear growth will outpace coal.

Chavez declares "electricity emergency" in Venezuela

Despite its huge crude reserves, the South American OPEC member relies on hydro-electricity for 70 percent of its power needs, and a drought has hit supply since late 2009.

"We are ready to decree the electricity emergency, because it really is an emergency," Chavez said in the first edition of a show on state radio air waves called "Suddenly Chavez."

With electricity cuts weighing on Chavez's popularity ahead of important legislative elections in September, the government blames the shortages on the drought and soaring demand during five years of economic growth until 2008.

Amtrak cuts some Tuesday service

Amtrak has cut several routes for Tuesday in advance of the approaching snowstorm due to downed trees and power lines on railroad tracks along certain routes.

Iran says it will build 10 nuclear plants, beef up military

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, announced that Tehran had informed the United Nations' nuclear watchdog that it intended to launch construction of 10 new nuclear-fuel plants in the Persian calendar year starting March 2010 and begin producing 20%-enriched uranium to provide fuel for a Tehran medical reactor.

Iran Starts Higher Uranium Enrichment

Iran says it has begun enriching uranium to a higher level, defying international efforts to curb its nuclear activity.

Iranian state media reports the process started at Iran's Natanz facility Tuesday in the presence of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Iran told the IAEA Monday of its plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent in order to fuel a medical nuclear reactor.

Western powers are concerned that if Iran is able to enrich uranium to 20 percent, it could eventually produce weapons-grade uranium through the same process.

Biggest Boeing plane; successful first flight for 747-8 freighter

Boeing Co.'s giant 747-8 freighter — the biggest plane the company has ever built — successfully completed its first flight Monday, a year later than originally planned. The huge plane took off from Everett's Paine Field shortly after noon and returned to Paine at 4:18 p.m. PST after an approximately 3½-hour flight.

Lookout deck of world's tallest tower in Dubai unexpectedly shuts a month after opening

Electrical problems are at least partly to blame for the closure of the Burj Khalifa's viewing platform — the only part of the half-mile high tower open yet. But a lack of information from the spire's owner left it unclear whether the rest of the largely empty building — including dozens of elevators meant to whisk visitors to the tower's more than 160 floors — was affected by the shutdown.

The CTA's cold truth

Chicagoland commuters have grown accustomed to going to sleep with the threat of massive service cuts under their pillows, only to wake and find their problems magically gone. When Monday's rush hour dawned, though, the Chicago Transit Authority's $95.6 million deficit was still there. The bus wasn't. The CTA has been to the brink of disaster many times. It was often a bluff; there was always a bailout. It's no wonder unions and passengers seemed to expect this year's deficit to disappear. As the deadline loomed, the usual cries went up for the mayor, the governor, the General Assembly to "get involved." But the state's broke. The city's strapped. The fairy's dead.

Federal government closes: Why can't they all work from home?

closing down the federal government costs $100 million a day in lost productivity. Why can’t bureaucrats, you know, telecommute? Like everybody else does in this Era of the iPhone.

The answer to that is, they do. At least, some of them do. About 9 percent of eligible federal employees have approved telework agreements that allow them to work from home, according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report from August 2009.

Young joins Murkowski in seeking study of deep-water Arctic port

U.S. Rep. Don Young has introduced a bill aimed at studying the potential for an Arctic deep water port. The measure is a companion bill to one introduced in December by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Hawaii charges ahead with electric vehicles

Starting this month, state and county agencies buying new vehicles are required to give priority to electric vehicles, alternative-fuel vehicles and hybrids. And by the end of next year, government and private parking lots open to the public must have at least one space for electric vehicles and a vehicle charger for every 100 parking spaces.

Oil weighed down by demand jitters

Oil sank below $72 a barrel today, after rising nearly 1% the day before, weighed down by nagging worries over an uncertain demand outlook and the fiscal health of some euro zone countries.

Petrobras steps up drilling at Reconcavo

Brazil's National Petroleum Agency (ANP) authorised Petrobras to start exploratory drilling ahead of schedule at Block REC-T- 168 in northern Brazil during a 2 February board meeting, the ANP said in a document on its website. Petrobras has found oil or natural gas at 11 exploration wells it has drilled in the basin since 2001, according to ANP data, Bloomberg reported.

Praxair Awarded ExxonMobil Contract for Enhanced Oil Recovery Project

Under the new contract, Praxair will install a new production facility to meet ExxonMobil's requirements for nitrogen. Operations from the new supply network are scheduled for start-up in the second half of 2011. Praxair will produce 85 million cubic feet per day of high-pressure nitrogen and additional quantities of liquid argon.

"We are pleased to be working with ExxonMobil on this exciting EOR project" said John Panikar, vice president, South Region, North American Industrial Gases.

ExxonMobil currently uses Praxair's nitrogen gas to increase the amount of oil recovered from its Hawkins plant. ExxonMobil will utilize additional nitrogen to help them recover more oil and natural gas reserves.

Husky Energy announces third significant gas discovery in South China Sea

An exploration well in the waters south of Hong Kong tested natural gas at an equipment restricted rate of 57 million cubic feet per day, with indications the Liuhua 29-1 well could produce more than 90 million cubic feet of gas per day in the future.

Husky chief executive John Lau says the discovery, and two others in the same block, support earlier estimates of up to six trillion cubic feet of natural gas initially in place for the area.

ENI, PPL start offshore oil, gas exploration

Although Pakistan has never been successful in exploring oil and gas reserves in offshore areas in the country, it is once again making all efforts to achieve the goal in the Arabian Sea.

The ENI Pakistan and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) have joined hands and started drilling Shark-1 offshore well on January 17. Total cost of the project is estimated at $44 million. The Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Syed Naveed Qamar said this at a press conference on Monday after returning from the drilling site.

Shark-1 is located in Indus M Block in the Arabian Sea, which is 87 kilometres southwest of Karachi. The block is a joint venture between ENI of Italy having a 70 per cent working interest and PPL with 30 per cent share.

REpower signs turbine towers deal with Welsh firm

REPOWER UK, the British division of the German renewable energy giant, has signed an agreement to buy most of its wind turbine towers from a domestic manufacturer. Edinburgh-headquartered REpower previously sourced the towers from its German parent company but yesterday revealed a deal with Welsh manufacturer Mabey Bridge.

India likely to face coal shock

India could face a ‘coal shock’ sooner than later if the power utilities do not wake up to the fuel security risks from stagnating domestic production and start planning long-term coal imports to meet the fuel shortage. Although big power producers like NTPC are already meeting domestic coal shortages with imports, they have not shown any urgency to get into long-term import contracts.

New Ukraine leader may still drive hard bargain on gas

Ukraine's likely new president has a more pro-Russian tinge but Kyiv's desperate public finances may mean he drives just as hard a bargain on gas issues as his confrontational, Western-leaning predecessor.

Aramco's Laser Invention is Used to Fingerprint Oil

Occasionally scientists develop an invention that turns out to have far more applications than originally thought. The Research and Development Center (R&DC) has built a truly unique instrument designed to identify oil by using a laser. The laser is used to excite the fluorescence spectra of oil within extremely short time frames — two to five nanoseconds. All the fluorescence data is coalesced, and two dimensional diagrams are produced, which serve as oil spectral fingerprints.

Oil Climbs Above $71 on Weather, Geopolitical Tensions

Reversing a steep sell off after three consecutive sessions on the downside, crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange saw an uptick in trading Monday as concerned investors abandoned the dollar's safe havens to bet on riskier markets.

Peak oil in Davos: Oh yes it is, oh no it isn’t.

The title above was borrowed from the Financial Times. Last week the World Economic Forum in Davos celebrated its 40th anniversary and one of the sessions addressed the world’s energy security. The chairperson for the session was Daniel Yergin, the founder of CERA (Cambridge Energy Research Associates). Before his departure to Davos the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote: “All the world loves a bringer of good news, so energy guru Daniel Yergin should by all rights be guaranteed a warm welcome at Davos this week”. The news that he bore with him was that “the awful day of ‘peak oil’, when the world will have depleted its finite hydrocarbon resources to the point where it can never again increase production, is still a long way off”. If, in fact, it becomes apparent that oil production actually reaches a peak then Daniel Yergin has a cop-out, “The big determinants (to global energy supply) are the above-ground risks — politics, the quality of decision-making, and costs and so on”.

Given the stakes, this is one of the most important articles to be written recently:


Denialism is a well funded (or should I say "oiled") machine.


There exists a whole range of views on global warming -- from know-nothing Pollyannas at one extreme to doomsters who believe that the oceans are about to engulf us any day now at the other. Partisans on both sides tend to create caricatures of ALL their opposite numbers, including those anywhere in the middle.

From the peak oil perspective, the approach to climate change is a matter of proportion. Few of us deny that there is a scientific foundation to global warming theory. But the fact remains that the consequences of global warming even at its worst (say six degrees plus) are probably peanuts when compared with the impact of fossil fuel depletion. That's what climate scientists don't understand -- indeed many of them seem to believe that the problem is that there is too much fossil fuel available rather than too little. If the term 'denialist' includes anybody who denies that climate change is the greatest problem the world has to deal with, then I'm happy to be branded as one.

"But the fact remains that the consequences of global warming even at its worst (say six degrees plus) are probably peanuts when compared with the impact of fossil fuel depletion. That's what climate scientists don't understand -- indeed many of them seem to believe that the problem is that there is too much fossil fuel available rather than too little. If the term 'denialist' includes anybody who denies that climate change is the greatest problem the world has to deal with, then I'm happy to be branded as one."

This is a nonsens. Peak Oil is a problem for human civilisation. At most, it will create a civilisation collapse that might takes century to recover. Global warming is dangerous both to human and the ecosystem. This will takes millions years to recover. A great extinction event takes 100 millions years to recover and this what we are building very fast.

This is a nonsens. Peak Oil is a problem for human civilisation. At most, it will create a civilisation collapse that might takes century to recover. Global warming is dangerous both to human and the ecosystem. This will takes millions years to recover. A great extinction event takes 100 millions years to recover and this what we are building very fast.

This is nonsense.
The "ecosystem" is not a conscious entity. Neither it nor "the Earth" care what happens. There have been multiple mass extinctions and global catastrophes over millennia of geological time. Some of these events have been caused by climate, some by other factors. It's all part of the natural history of the planet. The fixation that some humans have regarding our ability to control these events is nothing more than pure hubris.

There is no question that Peak Oil is the primary problem facing human populations at this time.

"It's all part of the natural history of the planet."

So do you have some definition of natural that includes AGW?

May I suggest that it is hubris to minimize the moral consequences of being responsible for a great extinction event.

You are right that it is humans that decide morality. I find it interesting that you are so eager to minimize your own moral responsibility here. Do you do this in other areas of your life?

Yvan writes:

Peak Oil is a problem for human civilisation. At most, it will create a civilisation collapse that might takes century to recover.

Yvan, fossil fuel depletion will have irreversible effects. When ancient sunlight is gone, the very concept of 'recovery' becomes meaningless.

Read on:

The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge


"irreversible effects"

Yes, but only on industrial civilization, a very recent aberration on the world stage. GW will have/is having irreversible effects on the life and climate of the entire planet.

If peak oil results in the collapse of industrial agriculture causing population collapse, I suggest billions of starving humans would drive most edible species to extinction. AGW could do the same. If we reduce our population, global warming, peak oil and nearly all other problems in our civilization would be mitigated. Population continues to be the 6.7 billion ton elephant in the room ignored as it grows exponentially.

Population continues to be the 6.7 billion ton elephant in the room ignored as it grows exponentially.

I think we can switch to 6.8 now. (About +70mil a year)



Population continues to be the 6.7 billion ton elephant in the room ignored as it grows exponentially.


Population growth is a problem. But how many of the almost 7 billion have a visible carbon food-print ? This number rising however, last monday I heard that every day 1500 people come to Mumbai to find work and to increase their living standard.
By the way, growing exp. ? It seems population is growing about 70 million/year.
From Wikipedia:

The actual annual growth in the number of humans fell from its peak of 88.0 million in 1989, to a low of 73.9 million in 2003, after which it rose again to 75.2 million in 2006. Since then, annual growth has declined. In 2009 the human population increased by 74.6 million, and it is projected to decline steadily to about 41 million per annum in 2050, at which time the population will have increased to about 9.2 billion.

If it will reach 9,2 billion in 2050 has to be seen. It could be far less, IMO mostly because of PO (peak gas, peak coal).

GCC is real and it is a real problem. However, let's keep in perspective that the global climate has always been changing, constantly, and has swung between wide extremes. I am not sympathetic with the notion that we can and should now keep it locked down within a narrow band by whatever means - including massive geoengineering projects (smoke and mirrors, literally) - just because that happens to be favorable to us. That strikes me as the height of hubris, and is bound to come to a bad end.

I agree about the global engineering, but we have de facto been engaging in enormous geo-engineering by dumping hundreds of millions of tons of GHGs into the atmosphere in just a few decades.

"keep it locked down within a narrow band"

So this statement seems rather ridiculous. We are in fact violently knocking the world out of the band of climate that we and most other organisms on earth today have evolved to live within. It has been millions of years since atmospheric CO2 levels have been this level.

has swung between wide extremes

But not after the start of industrial civilization. This means people and animals are not free to move about to beat the cold/heat. So they will perish.

Also keep in mind the rate of change - if we get it up by 6 degrees in two centuries - we would be in paleo times in terms of temperature.

Population is the major issues. All the rest are just complicating factors.

I don't bother worrying about AGW. It's about 10th on my list of issues that might affect me and my grandchildren.

There's the chance that AGW may trigger another round of Ice Age conditions. If your grandchildren live in Europe or Canada or even the NE USA, they might find it impossible to live there and thus move. Where would they move? What lands are available for them to move which do not already suffer from over population? What if the entire population of Britain were to camp in their back yard?

There are technical solutions to Peak Oil. I see no solution to a future with piles of snow and ice so thick that no transport is possible in the area. If the solutions to the problem of Peak Oil make AGW worse, mankind has lost the battle.

E. Swanson

The earth is a dynamic system, constantly changing. H. Sap. has only been civilized for about 10,000 years or less - a blink of the eye in geological time scales. Even within those 10,000 years we've experienced a fair amount of dynamism, what with earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis and droughts and floods and little ice ages. Those are only a subset of the degree of natural variability that we can expect over longer time periods. It is a huge, huge mistake to think that the way things have been for us recently is the way things are going to be - or should be - in the future. If H. Sap. - and especially the civilization that H. Sap. has created - wants to survive long term, then we had better adjust ourselves very quickly to the reality that the world is much more dynamic and variable than we have thought it to be.

Perhaps, but adapting to what is shaping up to be the greatest and most rapid extinction event in the history of complex life on earth may prove...challenging even to the cleverest of apes.

It's strange that as I read this I'm watching a new History Channel show on the eruption of the Siberian Traps, 250 million years ago, wiping out 95% of species on earth in a very short time. Funny species, humans. We can contemplate our own participation in our own extinction, yet it means nothing from earth's geological perspective.

We won't be missed. "Missing" requires a human perspective.

And even if "missing" didn't require a human perspective, we wouldn't be missed; the other creatures would celebrate. At least those that had not gone extinct due to our actions.

Good riddance to h. sapiens.

And what were the chemical mechanisms of this "earth's greatest extinction event"? CO2 and methane! Sound familiar? This show postulates that this event was the source of methane hydrates that some want to liberate as our next great source of energy. It took natural forces millions of years to "repair the damage" to the biosphere caused by this event. Even coal didn't begin to form again for tens of millions of years, yet we just can't wait burn anything we can to support our growth meme.

The good news is that a few lifeforms survived to eventually give rise to humans. Ironic that we are using the same chemistry that cleared the way for our evolution to do ourselves in. Perhaps after we've done our damage, the next intelligent species to evolve will be programmed for humility.

Whether we live or die is a matter of abolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert. Let men in their madness blast every city on earth into black rubble and envelope the entire planet in a cloud of lethal gas -- the canyons and the hills, the springs and the rocks will still be here, the sunlight will filter through, water will form and warmth shall be upon the land after sufficient time, no matter how long, somewhere, living things will emerge and join and stand once again, this time perhaps to take a different and better course. I have seen the place called Trinity, in New Mexico, where our wise men exploded the first atomic bomb and the heat of the blast fused sand into a greenish glass -- already the grass has returned, and the cactus and the mesquite. On this bedrock of animal faith I take my stand...

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Edward Abbey should be required by law to be in every library. :)

We perhaps confuse the survival of the excess six billion of the cleverest of the apes with the survival of these clever apes as a species.

I have very few doubts about the continued survival of the species , nor about the eventual demise, possibly within the next few decades, of the excess billions.

It is ironic and amusing that many of us ( and a rather intelligent lot of apes we indeed are as our kind goes) fail to see the incongruity of our INTELLECTUAL positions.

We very reasonably adopt the scientifically correct position that we are just another species , not above the laws of nature,and subject to all the natural controls and vissitides nature places upon her cteatures, including climate change.

We deny religion-strenously-and if religions taken as a group have a central tenent, it is that we are something special with a special place set aside for us,usually by some higher power.

Then we start squawking as if we were a bunch of hens disturbed on our roost by a fox or raccoon, as if such a thing as climate change is something new.Our memories are short indeed-there is nobody left who can remember the chesnut trees as a living forest and my nieces and nephews know nothing of the chesnut and the part it played in the lives and world of thier great great grand parents only a century ago on this very ground.

Unless they develop a strong interest in nature "chesnut" will only be associated with the furniture make by Uncle Marvin which they will hopefully inherit some day.

It 's coming , whether we like it or not,and whether we reduce our carbon footprint or not.If we change our ways, maybe the coming will be delayed a thousand years, or five thousand.-in either case , only a drop in the bucket of time.

We have gotten a little too big for our cosmic and environmental pants.Our REAL Momma is named Mother Nature and she is a contrary and fiesty bitch;a SINGLE mother quite caplable of putting a switch to our collective backsides.

She is most definitely not married to Uncle Sam, and in the end will pay him about as much attention as the proverbial pay car passing a tramp.:(

Just daydreaming of course.I would like as much as anybody to see the little kids grow up happy with lots of modern conveniences such as warm beds, clean water and ample nutritious food. ;)

"Population is the major issues...that might affect me and my grandchildren."

Dare I ask how many grand kids have sprung from your loins there, Pal?

Zero, so far. Planning ahead -- hopefully there will be at least a couple. And I will absolutely consider the children of my adopted kids "my grandchildren" -- it's not just about Darwinian genetics, but about taking care of those I feel responsible for most.

I'm having a picture of us dandling young un's on our knees and regaling them with tales of hot rods and non-scorching summers as they listen in disbelief.

I don't bother worrying about AGW. It's about 10th on my list of issues that might affect me and my grandchildren.

Seconded by paleocon2.

I always find it interesting when those things we are least responsible for and have the least likelihood of affecting rise to the top of our list of concerns.

Meanwhile the problems we concretely contribute to every day, that would require of us major life-style changes if we took them seriously, fall to "10th..." in the list of concerns.

A very convenient and understandable way to prioritize issues.

I don't think my personal contribution will matter an iota -- I'll do my part to do at least a little better than my peers, and I'll go along with any reasonable changes that are supported -- I just don't think there will be any.

And I'll worry about housing, food, power, and water issues in general, and having a generally resilient life, before I'll worry about AGW clobbering my neck of the woods.

God grant me the determination to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I fully believe humanity will burn every ounce of usable coal and oil, regardless of what I do. I'll support nukes, solar, and wind because I think they are worthwhile and "better" at any stage along the way, but I see no point in foregoing fossil fuel usage personally if it offers a general advantage. Which of course it does.

Well put. For the record, I also doubt there will be any effective measures taken, and I think it is quite likely that every extractable bit of coal will be burnt. My prediction is that, even as it was one of its first uses, one of the last uses of oil will be to fuel extraction of coal.

I do, however, want to know the truth as far as it can be discerned, about what is happening on all these fronts, and I resent people who are knowingly or unknowingly spreading mis-/dis-information about either GW or PO.

Best wishes on the descent before us.

It gets a bit ridiculous when the snow is piled up over one's head; then someone from a southern region pipes up, "It is too hot." They imagine the polar regions completely ice free within five years. Virginia is in the south and it has not been ice free in some time. Ought to move north if you fear the heat. Gets so cold batteries freeze. Trees snap under the weight of snow. The state spends a hundred million on snow removal and 10-20 inches more is expected within 48 hours. Vanity thinks Washington can control the climate. If we could we would vote for less snow.

They imagine the polar regions completely ice free within five years.

For some part of the year in summer. I'm sure Virginia (atleast low lands) is all ice free in summer.

Sea level rise can be mitigated with walls, Peak Oil can be mitigated with what? PO mitigation does not appear to equal BAU, PO is a far greater problem than climate change.

Wow, you really don't have even a glimmering of an idea of what GW involves, do you. And good luck finding energy to build all those wonderful sea walls, walls that will have to be continually augmented, in a world with ever-shrinking energy availability.

I don't buy the doomsday sea level rise claims, I'll believe them when I see them. Meanwhile, try telling the Chinese and Indians not to burn coal, they'll tell you to mind your own business. You can not prevent AGW. Energy will be available, just not quite as much liquid fuel.

"I'll believe them when I see them"

I bet you won't, if fact. If all the masses of data presented so far and the considered opinion of those most deeply involved in researching the topic are enough, I truly doubt that any new data will shake your faith.

"You can not prevent AGW."

What a bizarre statement. You and I are CAUSING AGW. We can certainly reduce the amount that we are involved in the activities that exacerbate this world-altering catastrophe.

You and I are CAUSING AGW. We can certainly reduce the amount that we are involved in the activities that exacerbate this world-altering catastrophe.

Yes. And no. We certainly can effect the rate we affect it. My families footprint is probably a half to a quarter of the average American's. But with the current economic/political paradigm, someone else will use the FF I don't. If not today, then it will be burnt tommorrow or the day after. Unless we can either keep the FF in the ground longterm -or capture and sequester the CO2, slowing the rate we use it won't change the end result.

Hello TOD!
I'm a long time reader and this is my first comment! (so be nice)
I found this documentary on YouTube and it says that AGW is not man made!! I'm not qualified to debunk their science (or lack of it) so could somebody who is please tell me if this is true or just plain crap!



Thanks for the link. I haven't yet seen that TV program, which was originally broadcast in Britain. It has comments by many of the most vocal denialist from around the world. Like any good propaganda, it's based on a certain element of truth, but apparently twists the facts away from the conclusions drawn by many climate scientists who have studied the data over many years. Like describing the MWP as a "balmy warm period", etc.

Got to get back to watching the next installment...


That program was an entirely one sided presentation. Most of the people interviewed are the most vocal of the denialist. However, one (Carl Wunsch) later protested the way his comments were edited to distort what he tried to say.

E. Swanson

Thanks BD.
Barrett808 had a link to an excellent rebuttal as well.
Thats why I like TOD, it's a great place to get info!

Welcome to TOD, Fluffy! Here's the definitive rebuttal to the Swindle movie: Swindled!

Also, because you're a bunny, you might enjoy Eli's site, Rabett Run.

Many thanks!

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also has a rebuttal.

How about ocean acidification? I'm given to understand that this may lead to catastrophic die-off in the oceans of our world. Can walls mitigate that, too?

Thanks, Barrett. And I thought I was despondent before ;)

I don't think you really know what the effects of climate change are. I won't blame you - before starting to read dozens of books, thats all I thought about climate change. MSM is to blame for this.

The real problem is shifting cliamtes i.e. change in rain patterns, vegetation, increasing intensity of extreme weather etc etc.



It's not only temp patterns but even more so precipitation. That's the true crux.

It's about 10th on my list of issues that might affect me and my grandchildren.

Can we have your list please? I'd love to know what your 2-9 are.

See, so far I've only identified four threats to civilization. The first 3 are similar in probability, timing, and impact. Here's my placement for the trifecta. (Although it looks like a 3-way tie...)

1. AGW
2. Population Overshoot
3. Peak Oil
4. Political impotence / neglect / malice to addressing 1-3

I began developing my list after an email thread where a conservative friend called religious terrorism a threat to civilization. I figured that the melting of the Himalayan glaciers (Water supply to 1B people) was beyond than the grandest dreams in the caves of Al-Qaeda

I never actually jotted down the list, so I won't guarantee I haven't missed some.
1. Maintaining employment and marketable skills
2. Shelter, paid in full, with back up plans.
3. Educating and preparing my kids
4. Diversifying income streams
5. Acquiring arable land in a "good location" - will require revising (2)
6. Becoming energy self-sufficient - will require updating (2)
7. Arrange for robust water supplies - affects (5) and (2)
8. Save a bunch of cash and equities, especially tools for (4)
9. Learn more marketable skills for (4), and survival skills
10. Reduce transportation costs, again.
11. Get in shape and be health (really this should be about number 3 or above).
12. Worry about peak oil
13. Worry about peak water
14. Worry about civil unrest. Probably should go up higher.
15. Worry about gov't intruding and taking my stuff -- definitely should go above 8.
16. Worry about diseases and toxins
17. Worry about AGW.

OK, so it's not 10th on the list, though it may impact other items. But then, other items will help mitigate AGW too.

Energy costs us what, a billion dollars a day?, and has strategic risks, and tactical issues abound, yet we do nothing. When we get serious about debt, energy, and population, I'll revisit my thoughts about chances of mitigating AGW as a nation.

Nice list, but like you most people under value their everyday good health until they don't have it anymore

I asked the wrong question - My mind goes to my 'civilization list' while your list was more personal.
Good food for thought... I'm going to need to put a few cycles into my own personal list. Thanks.

CO, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

"consequences of global warming even at its worst (say six degrees plus) are probably peanuts when compared with the impact of fossil fuel depletion."

Your 'probably' implies that you are not absolutely sure of this, as you ought no be. As Yogi Bera said, predictions are difficult, especially when they are about the future.

May I recommend Mark Lynas's excellent book "Six Degrees" that lays out the possible consequences of each added degree of warming. Peter Ward's "Under a Green Sky" is also riveting in a grim sort of way.

I would concede that, if PO unfolds on the time line it seems to be heading into--that is if we are already starting down the slope on the far side of the peak--PO will have a more immediate (next ten to twenty years) and dramatic effect on modern capitalist industrial society.

But if GW proceeds as it seems to be going, with CO2 levels rising to well above 450ppm in the next few years, the longer term effects on the world's life systems and global climate will be much more profound than anything PO is likely to unleash on us.

On the other hand, as the masking effects of aerosols go away when China's economy goes south (this year?), we could see a sudden, short-term jump of up to two degrees in a very short time. Know one has any idea what such a sudden jolt would do to the climate and to the world's living systems, but it is unlikely to be pretty.

And the Arctic now seems on the fast track for total dissolution of all sea ice in the next few years, and we don't really know what this sudden shutting down of the "world's air-conditioner" will mean for atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Dohboi, referring to me, you write:

Your 'probably' implies that you are not absolutely sure of this..

Exactly -- I'm not absolutely sure. In fact I tend to shift my views with every conflicting opinion I read. Hence the proliferation of weasel-adverbs such as 'probably' and 'maybe' etc. Still, I'm pretty certain that the impact of climate change is not quite as important as the impact of fossil fuel depletion. I've read Lynas's book, hence my reference to six degrees.

We probably already have 400-450ppm baked in the cake. Sorry, but we are not going back to 350, at least not anytime soon.

The arctic methane hydrates worry me greatly, those are the real wild card. We might have already passed a tipping point with those, or will soon, and those might drive things up no matter what we do.

Peak oil and peak everything should go far toward preventing the worst case scenarios, it is far more likely that we'll stop burning carbon because we don't have any than it is that we'll stop for any other reason. Unfortunately, if we've passed the tipping point with those hydrates, then it just might not make much difference.

"The arctic methane hydrates worry me greatly"

Me, too. Best wishes on early peaks of everything (including general ignorance and head-in-the-sand-ism, though I am definitely not holding my breath on that one).

We probably already have 400-450ppm baked in the cake. Sorry, but we are not going back to 350, at least not anytime soon.

The arctic methane hydrates worry me greatly, those are the real wild card. We might have already passed a tipping point with those, or will soon, and those might drive things up no matter what we do.

The scientists are upset over a leak which suggests DOE is abandoning the official 450 goal for 550. Of course they know this is simply a reflection of reality, but it is upsetting anyway. So here we are circa 390, and we think we need to be at 350, but we know we are headed for 550!

On the other hand, as the masking effects of aerosols go away when China's economy goes south (this year?), we could see a sudden, short-term jump of up to two degrees in a very short time. Know one has any idea what such a sudden jolt would do to the climate and to the world's living systems, but it is unlikely to be pretty.

And the Arctic now seems on the fast track for total dissolution of all sea ice in the next few years, and we don't really know what this sudden shutting down of the "world's air-conditioner" will mean for atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

If your scenario plays out (I think it unlikely myself), then paradoxically the reduction in aerosols may hely the arctic ice last longer. Now why would removing something that cools the planet (best guess masking about half of the GHG warming) help the ice? Because part of the reason the ice is melting much faster than any of the climate models predict, is black carbon aerosol. Add a little bit of dark stuf to snow, and it will melt much faster. So eliminating that *might* help the ice more than the additional global warming hurts it. Of course the BC is really only a significant warming and melting influence over the polar regions, the rest of the globe will feel the spike in temperatures.

Most of the damage black carbon has to do to Arctic Sea Ice has already been done. The bit of ice left is thin and rotten. It is just a matter of a few more years and the wrong wind patterns and summer sea ice in the Arctic will be no more.

Greenlandic ice may be another situation.


I completely agree with you.

The arguement could easily be won if the "believers" could clearly show and explain the link between human activity and only human activey how it is causing climate change. They also need to show and explain that solar energy, tilting of the earth and just the normal climate changes that have occured since the earth was formed is not the cause. Like the cock crowing in the morning, he begins to believe that it is his crowing that causes the sun to rise. A resonable open-minder person would have to look at the people producing the science and question their closed mindedness which has been in the news so much lately.

"show and explain the link between human activity and only human activey how it is causing climate change"

Leaving aside that you used "belief" to characterize understanding based on over a century of science, let's lay it out for you:

Which of these completely uncontroversial data "dots" do you find it so difficult to connect:

1) Modern industrial society has dumped hundreds of billions of tons of excess CO2, CH4 and other GHGs, especially in the past forty years.

2) CO2, CH4 and others have been established as greenhouse gasses for over one hundred years.

3) Atmospheric evels of these gasses have been steadily rising since the beginning, especially in the last fourty years.

4) The trend in global temperatures since industrial society started spewing said GHG's into the atmosphere has been up, especially over the last forty years.

Deniers need to cherry pick very carefully to find any break in these over-all patterns. But feel free; cherry pick away.

I disagree. Climate change is much worse than peak oil but I agree we will feel the pain of peak oil first.

Peak oil will dramatically reduce the material wealth of everyone in the next few years but we may be able to survive if sufficient energy is allocated to agriculture.

Climate change will result in mass starvation due to lost productive land a few decades from now and no significant mitigation will be possible.

Climate change is only worse than peak oil if you don't think we are reaching limits to growth. If we are reaching limits to growth, everything goes down very quickly anyhow. The remaining population can move to where the climate is acceptable. With a much smaller population, CO2 pollution ceases to be an issue.

With a much smaller population, CO2 pollution ceases to be an issue.

This is true in the long run, but even if we stop emitting today, we still have something like 200 years of warming "in the pipeline" before Earth reaches thermal equilibrium with space. So a future, smaller human population will be dealing with the changing climate for several generations.

But the fact remains that the consequences of global warming even at its worst (say six degrees plus) are probably peanuts when compared with the impact of fossil fuel depletion

I am so, like convinced!

Typical high school braininess: "Since I can find every possible opinion, some of which are clearly wrong, I am granted smug privilege to validly believe anything in between that pleases me."

The average temperature of the earth is way more important than just you taking off your sweater. Six degrees floods the majority of coastal cities on earth and changes weather patterns to nothing ever seen in recorded history. The *extremes* would be unbearable heatwaves that would kill hundreds of thousands. Averages are not at all indicative of extremes. By the way, have you considered writing for the Onion?

I am measuring my global warming in inches. This week, I had to upgrade to a yardstick.

Are you sure you are not measuring El Nino?

I think that "denial" is not a case of individual choice. I believe that people only rationalize the collective belief of the class that they view themselves to be a part of and then they go and re-state that rationalization. If they say it enough times they then go on to believe it.

the fact that many people no longer view themselves to be a part of the formerly mainstream "middle class" may explain the seen political divergence.

The National Science Foundation has estimated that 87% of the US adult population is scientifically illiterate. I think they're being too kind. As I've stated previously, the problem is people are more convinced by what they "believe" than they are by evidence. They think they can, in effect, make up reality.
Reality is determined by an objective evaluation of evidence. It is perfectly clear that Global Warming is caused by the increasing of CO2 levels by burning fossil fuels. And the consequences are dire for the human race. Anyone who disagrees with these statements is simply wrong. (BTW - Ignorant, I have no idea what you're talking about...)

There are actually two questions that you fail to answer. The first relates to the global cooling that took place during the Little Ice Age, and in the period about 600 AD and the second is the warming that occurred in Medieval and Roman times. What caused that cooling and what caused the warming, not only then but also prior to about 1950, at which point the globe had been warming for over a hundred years?

There are a lot more unanswered questions, or information that is just coming out (such as the effects of water vapor in the upper levels of the atmosphere) that make it inaccurate to make blind blanket statements. There are a significant number of folk who actually read the scientific press and raise questions about the results that are reported. That is what scientific debate is supposed to be about, not some lordling of the scientific nobility making an announcement that is greeted with unquestioned acceptance, and where the data on which the pronouncement is based is kept hidden away so that the conclusions cannot be verified, but must be taken on trust. A trust, I would point out, that the recent revelations of the CRU e-mails have shown was abused.

"There are a significant number of folk who actually read the scientific press and raise questions about the results that are reported."

There is not, in fact, a 'significant number of folk' who actually KNOW the science, published climatologists, who have any serious questions about the results. 97% of them acknowledge this reality. How about you?

The only established scientific body in the world that has expressed any doubts about the basics of climate change science was made up of people most of whom make their money from ff extraction. Talk about the exception that proves the rule!

By the way, I actually think it is a deeper emotional issue for geologists than money--these people have heroically shown humanity the way to unimaginably enormous pools of easily accessible energy. Their amazing contribution to modern civilization has gone mostly un-noticed by the larger world, a lack of recognition that they can live with, but that secretly rankles a bit.

But now they see themselves as being framed not as the heroes that enabled modernity, but as the villains that are bringing complex life on earth to a crashing halt. This is just too much to accept.

(These guys, including many on this site, of course do not see any of their judgments to be at all influenced by emotion, but all humans are subject to these influences. If there is one thing I would say to these guys, it would be that they are neither heroes not villains. Industrial society, once established, required an ever larger quantity of this powerful stuff, and all of us involved in that society are equally blameworthy/blameless.)

That being said, the scientists and workforce engaged in ff extraction could do the living world a huge service by NOT continuing to do this work of UN-sequestering carbon that is best left safely underground (though doing so will of course make them villains in many/most people's minds).

We, the users, don't seem to be able to stop our addiction at any rate comparable to what the situation demands. Our "leaders" seem unwilling/unable to put an end to our profligacy.

So it is left up to class of engineer, scientists and workers who birthed and nourished the industrial world to now bring about its end.

This is one of the most perceptive comments, and wonderfully succinct, that I have read on this subject.

Sadly, I anticipate that it will go over HO's head.


Can you get this?

You deny the possibility of dissent by appeal to authority.You think your intellectual envelope is bigger than Heading Out's .

I disargree. His is the larger.

Mine is larger yet, in that I take in both yours and his, and include human crowd psychology in accounting for what is accepted as truth.

Heading out probably agrees with me in this respect, I but I can't speak for him of course.

I do incidentally happen to agree with the general but by no means unanimious consensus in a general way.

But I don't put much faith in the models being accurate insofar as the time scales are concerned, and feedback loops may develop which mitigate increased warming.

Having said this much, I will go on to say that I would not be especially suprised if change comes even faster-a lot faster- than the leading modelers predict-at least in public.

Dohboi writes:

The only established scientific body in the world that has expressed any doubts about the basics of climate change science was made up of people most of whom make their money from [fossil fuel] extraction...

First, the argumentum ad pecuniam cuts both ways -- one can equally well accuse the climate change community of being motivated mainly by greed for research funding or for landing cushy numbers in the global climate conference circus. At any rate after the CRU scandal, this argument loses most of its credibility.

Second, most climate skeptics don't challenge the reality of anthropogenic global warming as such. What concerns them are (a) scare-mongering tactics and (b) failure to acknowledge that control of greenhouse gas emissions is a political impossibility in a world with over 200 independent nation states, each with its own individual interests.

Here are two non-denialist but skeptical sites that might be of interest to you (presuming you have an open mind):



There are a lot of intelligent, well-informed people on both sides of the debate. Admit it, and let us stop demonising and dehumanising people who disagree with us.

You are spewing ignorant tripe. Show me the funding sources for climate change. In Canada, NSERC has its mandate changed to explicitly not fund climate science and the only other source of money CFCAS is currently without any money and about to close its doors. It is beyond obscene to compare the trillion dollar business as usual inertia with some tiny as in a few million dollars per year in North America science activity. There is simply no equality between Exxon funding shills and scientists doing research. You just don't like the results and want to shoot the messenger.

most climate skeptics don't challenge the reality of anthropogenic global warming as such.

Wow, then who are these people I've been debating for years? The ones who keep saying that the global average surface temperature has been cooling since 1998, and the Arctic isn't melting, and CO2 doesn't trap heat...these aren't the real climate skeptics?


dohboi -- You're wrong...we geologists are evil. Hold on a sec…had to beat that whining puppy again. Where was I? Oh yeah...evil geologists. After I started working in 1975 and saw the pain caused by the embargo related price spike in oil. I realized I was now a member of group fully capable of dominating mankind. And I liked that feeling. The sobbing of all those Yankees freezing in the dark gave me warm cozy feelings.

Actually I personally know of no petroleum geologist that denies the possibility of AGW. They just don’t care for the most part. Just like they all also understand PO and have for decades. But we understand the societal drive to maintain BAU first hand…it’s how we make a living. We understand that as oil/NG resources diminish society, not withstanding the cries of the minorities and powerless, will just burn more coal. Not giving society a pass on the subject but just recognizing the eventuality.

And geologists as a group may be a little jaded. We study catastrophic events over geologic history that make AGW effects look like a walk in the park. We see millions of species go extinct and entire continents flooded. No big deal…actually kinda kool. Man can no more destroy the earth then any other force. He can modify it and do so to a point where it inflicts great suffering on his fellow humans. But Mother Earth doesn’t care. She told me so. Mother doesn’t destroy…she just changes things around a bit. In time she may change the dominant species on this planet. She’s just doesn’t really care what we think or do. I sorta admire her for that.

Thanks for weighing in on this, oh evil one! (And thanks for the belly laughs--that had me in stitches.)

Ultimately it is all about consequences. It is looking as though our rapid dumping of massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere in a few decades--and, perhaps even more so, the feedback mechanisms that this increase seems to be triggering--will shift the composition of living things on the planet back down to mostly single-cell and very simple multi-cell creatures. We can't know whether complex life will recover before the sun gets so big and hot that recovery will become impossible.

"Earth," not being a meaning-making creature, places no moral judgment on this or any other phenomenon.

We, as meaning-making creatures, do tend to make moral judgments, one way or the other, for better or worse.

I for one would rather not see my culture as the one that ended complex life on earth, perhaps for ever.

But I guess that's just me.

dohboi -- I can sympatize with your desire to not be party to "the ending of complex life on earth". OTOH I sometimes think of the Chicxulub meteor that hit Yucatan and is credited with perhaps being THE catalyst of the great dino extinction of the late Cretaceous. Not that my pawltry efforts to push CO2 levels to such a catastrophic end could ever meet such notariety but still I can dream. Yes...I know some folks know about Chicxulub and I'm no Chicxulub. But still to be a part of Mother's plan to perhaps realign the planet's future does excite me. And at 58 yo that's not easily done.

I suppose I am a doomer in that sense. Not so much that I have fanatsies about a future Mad Max world (in Texas that just won't be allowed anyway). Just an absolute faith that TPTB will enthusiasticly follow the demands of society to maintain BAU regardless of who else might suffer.

I recall reading that the oil in Mexico's Cantarell field was the result of oil being trapped by the Chicxulub Crater.

I thought Texas WAS Mad Max world. West Texas, that is...

E. Swanson

Whoooo. Carol is right that exxagerated scare-mongering is counterproductive. There is no credible claim that we're gonna knock things back to single and simple multicell critters, (i.e. PreCambrian). Even a 95% (or 99%) extinction wouldn't do that. Six degrees or even 10C wouldn't do that. There would be plenty of time for complex life to recover. The only real fly in that ointment is that it is very likely that the species responsible for this sith extinction would survive -so the crisis wouldn't really be over.

See my comment above on the eruption of the Siberian Traps 260 million years ago. While 95% of species perished, complex life survived and eventually gave rise to humans, despite nearly a million years of co2 and methane being injected into the atmosphere and the oceans becoming septic. Life is patient and persistent. Humans are just a brief, destructive anomaly.

There is no credible claim that we're gonna knock things back to single and simple multicell critters, (i.e. PreCambrian).

Jeremy Jackson claims exactly that: "We are pushing marine life back to the Precambrian."

The oceans’ gloomy prophet

Watch the whole grim presentation:

Brave New Ocean

"The future is bright for dinoflagellates."

I for one would rather not see my culture as the one that ended complex life on earth, perhaps for ever.

I'm right there with you on that one Dohboi. Nice work on defending something so obviously important as AGW. Seems very strange to me that so many people make light of the subject, like its really not that important. Oh, just wait. I'm sure a whole lot of people will change their tune at some obvious and disasterous tipping point. But at that point it will be way past time for doing much about it.

There is very little, if any, question amongst real scientists that GCC exists, and few doubt that there is a causal link between the extraction and combustion of geologically sequestered carbon, the build-up of CO2 (and other GHGs) in the atmosphere, and GCC. There is also no question that global climate is a dynamic system in constant flux, and that the geological record is clear that global climate has swung between extremes many, many times.

What is somewhat in question is the degree to which the GCC which we are seeing now is anthropogenic vs. the degree to which it is due to natural causes. It is unlikely to be 100% one or the other, both have something to do with it, but the exact percentage of each, and how each might interact with the other, is something still being worked out. Thus, some scientists might indeed have very valid and legitimate disagreements with other scientists on this score.

How important is it to have "exact percentages"? And of course, it's science, so our understanding of the details is evolving and will continue to evolve.

But again, there is almost total agreement about the basics from the people most knowledgeable in this area.

As noted before, I am a skeptic that the so called "Medieval Warming Period" was anything more than a localized effect in Western Europe and not a concurrent global event. And some variation of the ocean currents (Gulf Stream/THC) could easily explain that localized effect.

The letter from the bishop in Greenland was just bogus propaganda (akin to the naming of the island as "Greenland"). Wheat and apples never grew there.

The pollen record in lake sediments in North America shows no warming spike that I am aware of. Likewise, nothing from Australia, Central Asia, Japan, etc.

So if the MWP never existed, then there is no need to explain it.


It was a localized event, with much of the Southern Hemisphere actually warmer.
A non issue, and propaganda for the illiterate wing pawns of the extraction elite.

Presuming that you are talking about the Little Ice Age, I would suggest that you read Jean Grove's Little Ice Age and the hundreds of fact-based peer-reviewed papers that it includes before you draw that conclusion, since she clearly shows that the event was global.

A careful reading of my post clearly states that I am a skeptic about the so-called Medieval Warming Period. If there was no MWP, then it does not need to be explained.

I question if Western Europe was an outlier (i.e. colder than most of the world) for the Little Ice Age, but I am less skeptical that there was a global cooling trend during that period.


Sorry, Alan, I was replying to hightrekker, and should have made that clear.

LIA was more than European. North American mountain glaciers left moraines to show it happened there also. Of course climate patterns changed worldwide, but that isn't the same thing as global cooling, it was more likely a redistribution of heat, with some areas warmer and some cooler. A similar thing probably explains the MWP. There are a lot of relatively weak irregular climate changes going on all the time. Its just that none of them have the sort of amplitude we are likely to see from global warming. And it will be a very long time before we understand them all. There are lots of different proxies left all over the earth that provide clues. No single proxie -such as tree rings, which seem to have stopped tracking temperature lately can be fully trusted. But the collection of lots of different types provides a reasonably consistient picture.

If there was no MWP, then it does not need to be explained.

The same MWP and Little Ice Age questions can be looked at in the context of the Vostok ice core record, where they are well within the range of normal background noise of weather fluctuations; basically, whether they were global or local phenomenon, they weren't especially significant.

On the other hand, that they made such an impression on human societies (in Europe at least), is significant, when we consider that the warming we are in the midst of now is probably heading well outside the range of normal fluctuation.

Grove's book is from the 1980s, where we had only minimal data.
Current ice core and other data gives us a more data rich and different view.
Thirty and Forty year old data from a limited world view is fine reading, but lets go with what we know now.
A good place to start would be "Medieval Warm Period", which examines the data of the Little Ice Age also.

HERE's a more recent discussion of the available data written by Michael Mann (2002). Here's an article by Wallace Broecker, "Was a change in thermohaline circulation responsible for the Little Ice Age?" (2000). Evidence of a recent weakening of the THC in the Greenland Sea suggests an influence on present weather, IMHO...

E. Swanson

I hear tell NO is having its own localized event today. Enjoy it. There is nothing in sports like the first Super Bowl win.

I am trying to right a short cultural piece on New Orleans culture & lifestyle, Katrina, and the Saints.

One excerpt from another local

There has been a change in our DNA. Our tremors, our tears, our fears have been replaced with steel. While the rest of the country runs from mudslides, urban flash fires and a world stopped by snow. While the world reels from sunamis, earthquakes and fear of war, we celebrate. We have little fear.

Why would we? What is mother nature going to do? Flood us? Destroy our homes? Kill large numbers of us? So what? We’ll just rebuild, cook better food, make our educational system the country’s best! We will always finish strong. We know, unlike the rest of the world, that we can replace horror with joy.

Not a bad attitude post-Peak Oil,


That's some inspired writing, Alan!

Local variations like that go on all the time. Over longer time frames, even larger variations happen. Our problem is that our lives are too short, and even our civilizations don't last all that long, so we have neither individual or collective memories of how different things can be. We are just now, through science, starting to acquire a truly long-range perspective on the variability that is possible on our dynamic planet.

No need to be a skeptic. West Siberian tree ring data rules out it being a global phenomenon. But this tree ring data does demonstrate that the last 150 years are complete outliers from four thousand year period sampled.

This is no big surprise since CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels have not been this high for over three million years. People are always presented the temperature record which is noisy. If there was a way to show the total energy record then it would reflect the greenhouse gas load and albedo without the interannual noise primarily associated with energy exchange between the oceans and the atmosphere. This process can produce decades long variations in temperature not just the sub-decadal such as ENSO.

This is no big surprise since CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels have not been this high for over three million years.

A new study estimates even longer: Last time carbon dioxide levels were this high: 15 million years ago

Heading Out - What is this crap?? "Lordling of the Scientific Nobility" my aching A-hole...
I've been reading this site since it started, and I really thought the people running this place were scientific. But this sort of thing is really turning me off. I won't be posting here anymore, I assure you. And probably won't be wasting my time reading either. Clearly both you and Gail are in the 87% catagory I referenced above.
Perhaps the poster the other day accusing this site of becoming shills for the oil industry was correct.

The best roundup of the true mainstream opinion in the scientific community on this issue would be at Logicalscience.com - The Consensus On Global Warming/Climate Change: From Science to Industry & Religion An appeal to authority, I know, how lame. What could the NSA possibly know about this? I ask you: do you take flying lessons before boarding a plane?

Outstanding Sunspot. The plot by me and my buddies at ExxonMobil is finaly kicking in. Soon, when we get rid of Observer, dohboi, et al we'll finally have complete control of TOD. Congrats comrade Gail. See you at the bonfire rally to night. Don't forget to wear your Valdez tee shirt.

I believe the staff here does a great job, and it is not an easy gig. However, some less that street smart adventures do happen, and "when your paycheck depends on you not understanding something" often gets in the way.
I don't think it is overt, or premeditated.
You should have been here for Gail's adventures in Ecuador!
(Gail, I do appreciate all your wisdom and knowledge on this site)

I would suggest that tose who think tptb are biased in favor of the status quo and the bau paradigm consider the fact that this forum is about as open to dissent as any I have knowledge of, and that without it , there would be a gaping hole in the peal oil landscape.

Any realist must face up to the fact that we are STUCK for now with bau, which is not ALL BAD.

IT CONTAINS THE SEEDS OF IT'S OWN DESTRUCTION , IT IS TRUE, BUT ALSO THE SEEDS OF A NEW PARADIGM, in the form of renewables, birth control,etc,and perhaps as yet unimagined new tech.

We gotta keep this bau jalopy running long enough to save up the down payment in the form of knowledge, renewable infrastructure, and social consciousness, to put our grubby greedy paws on a new vehicle, onw which is sustainable.

Having read this forum studiously almost daily with great interest and determination to get what I can from it for six months,I see no evidence that tptb here are in anybody's pocket in any significant way.

Concievably some gung ho types intent on fast social change may have a valid argument , but I am afraid it fails in the face of political reality- society is not going to ENDORSE a sudden wrenching change of course and the inconveniences associated, such as giving up our cars and airconditioning.Not that such change isn't coming !

TOD has contributed greatly to my evolving understanding of life, the universe , and everything, if I may borrow the words of the immortal Douglas Adams.

Last time I'm warning you mac: one more rant like that and we'll activate that little module we planted in your neck when you first came to TOD. You vil obey the rrrules or suffer the consequencies!

TOD has contributed greatly to my evolving understanding of life, the universe , and everything, if I may borrow the words of the immortal Douglas Adams.

42. That's the answer. Now, what was the question?

For more information on Life, the Universe, and Everything, see 42 .

You suggest that the question of causes for the Little Ice Age are unknown. From my reading over 30 years, I disagree.

To begin with, one must understand that there are different dates which have been assigned to the period identified as "The Little Ice Age". If one notes that the coldest period was coincident with the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity between 1645 and 1715 CE, I suggest it's reasonable to conclude that solar variability may have been the major cause of the cooling. If one adds in the effects of several very large volcanic eruptions, the dates might be extended, but the consequences of those those were rather short term. From my understanding of the data, there was not a continuous period of colder conditions over the extended period which the denialist claim.

Similarly, the data pointing to a MWP is also inconclusive. There is evidence of a period of regional warmth in Europe, but in North America, the evidence shows a smaller warming. For reference, read:

Viau, A.E., K. Gajewski, M.C. Sawada, and P. Fines, (2006), Millennial-scale temperature variations in North America during the Holocene. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111,
D09102, doi:1029/2005JD006031

Again, I must ask, what is your source for the idea that the MWP was an exceptionally warm period, as in warmer than the present? Or, have you simply bought into the strident cherry picked claims of the denialist camp, without looking at ALL the research?

E. Swanson

If I really wanted to be mischievous I would quote Keith Briffa's e-mails back at you, but since I made up my mind before I read those e-mails, I will suggest that you might want to watch (as just an example) the California Colloquium of Water paper by Scott Stine . Fascinating piece of work, and if that is what we are heading back into - Jeepers!

Thanks for the link to the 1 hr 23min video. Maybe I'll keep listening to it, since I'm snowed in with about 6 inches of snow/sleet and awaiting even more snow as another storm passes over me. Lots of water around here. One reason I live here is that I lived in California during the 1975 drought. We all know that LA is basically a desert and folks might also be interested in the fact that the Colorado River water was allocated based on a period of wet years...

But, while I'm listening, perhaps you would actually take the time to reply to my comments. You can read the paper I linked to much faster than I can watch the video...

E. Swanson

You gave a citation rather than a link, and it costs $9 so I'll probably go see if the library has it. And since I dug out my driveway and drove to work today I actually have had rather a lot to do - so sorry I couldn't get back to you earlier.

But I will catch up on it, right now I am more interested in the variations in temperature with community size, starting with Karl, Jones et al in 1990 and wandering through some of the papers on UHI.

Here's a link to Viau's paper. Here's a newer one page look at the data written in 2009 which doesn't get into the details.

E. Swanson

Reality is determined by an objective evaluation of evidence.

No, reality stands on its own regardless of any evaluation. Granted we are able to discern what reality is by objectively evaluating the evidence.

That may sound like a minor quibble but it goes to, what for me is, the heart of the matter.
Reality just is! It is unspinable.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
Richard Feynman

Jim Kunstler's latest piece is terribly acerbic. He links up the Tea Party movement with frustrated, downwardly mobile southerners, given that the recent convention was located in Nashville. The cultural stereotypes fly, and he draws a parallel between our current governmental dithering and the rise of a Nazi-like movement. I wonder, though, about his correlation of Tea Party with southern white conservatism. He may capture major outlines of the main demographic here, but the movement seems much broader, if still shallow, geographically and maybe even demographically.

I appreciate his highlighting the cultural issues and wonder what observations TOD'ers have about his essay.

Kunstler's peice is also about "Weimar" US, a concept I agree with.

While we can't predict the future with accuarcy, it's likely that the US dollar will be worth much less in the future. I don't think there is any 10 year period since the Fed was created where there was deflation.

Since the deflation/inflation debate keeps getting brought up here by so many posters, I'd like everyone to note that the European Central Bank withdraw about $400 billion (yes billion) worth of euros from circulation today. If this doesn't make the euro rise and the dollar fall, I am going to throw away any economics book I have, and sieze trying to advise people that toilet paper fiat dollar money is a worse investment than for example, oil.

When the Fed fails in its ability to inflate, then what?

It's not just about economic theory, but about how people behave. It would be easy for the dollar to drop today on economics and rise for the next week on behavior shifts, and the markets to go down in both places.

I don't see how the Fed can fail to create inflation when it wants to. As I have mentioned many times, the 1930s depression proved that inflation can be created out of the most dire economic situation [a 75% devlauation in the dollar lead to about a 75% rise in basic commodities like food and energy within a year].

No supercomputers are in use in Zimbabwe, and inflation is proceeding at incredible levels - whether or not wages and service income can keep up. Surely the Fed instantaneously adding a trillion here and there at the touch of a button could lead to the most rapid buildup in inflationary forces in history - if so desired.


If the Fed did nothing, then in a declining, deleveraging economy deflation is what we would get.

Unfortunately, I can confidently predict that doing nothing is the one thing that you can depend on the Fed to NOT do. They will do something, even the wrong thing, just to be seen to "do something". The odds are that the something they do will be inflationary, as the Fed knows how to do inflation much better than it knows how to do deflation.

Hmmm...the dollar is up and stocks are up? And gold is up?

Edit: Read it wrong -- up only versus the Yen. Down versus the EU. The universe makes sense.

I haven't read Kunstler recently, or very much.Too much of the same old same old for my taste.

But it seems to me that virtually everybody who goes around slinging the Nazi word is talking about something about which they know little or nothing and are more interested in scoring points by belittling those with whom they may disagree.

I have a dozen or well thumbed and fingerprinted books about the Nazi era,as I am somewhat of an arm chair amatuer historian , including military history.

There is as a rule simply no realistic connection to be made between Nazi history , fact , or philosophy and any of the targets is is used to besmirch-most of which, incidentally are right wing targets.

Apparently the average person who likes to draw right wingers as Nazis is totally unaware that the central tenet of Nazism actually is a form of socialism combined with a strong arm police state where the idea is for the govt to control virtually every aspect of everyones lives.This is about as far from American right wing politics as it is possible to get for the most part, although there are morons and idiots on the right as well as on the left and in the center.Certainly there are some illinformed nincompoops on the right who espouse idiotic positions-but no more than on the left so far aas I can see..Somehow however they seem to be capable of attracting more attention.

I strongly reccomend that those who have the time actually learn something about this subject.Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Riech is an excellent starting point.

The insights to be gained into the historical and political process are well worth the

Simple minded name slinging may make pundits fortunes, but it contributes nothing to understanding.

The Nazis were certainly not the only bad boys of history, and just because the US does not map well to Weimar Germany, that doesn't mean that we have nothing to worry about.

There have been hundreds of examples of regime change by coup d'etat. Of course, while coup d'etat is the most common way that an authoritarian regime comes into power, it is not the only way; remember that Hitler was actually elected, and that was not the only example of an authoritarian regime being voted into office.

I'm not sure which of the many, many coups d'etat that have happened around the world would be most like what might happen here. A very great many have been in Latin America, and to the extent that the US is becoming more and more like a 3rd world "Banana Republic", it is also becoming more and more like a Latin American country. Thus, I am inclined to think that a Latin American-style coup d'etat is the mode of sudden regime change of which we are most at risk. Not that this is anything to look forward to - I dread it.

I definitely agree that we have plenty to worry about.

But whatever it is when it arrives, I am reasonably sure it won't have much in common with National Socialiam except corruption and lust for power.

You can bet however , that whoever engineers a radical takerover of the US, is suchan event ever comes to pass, will have read and studied the rise to power of the various more successful empire builders and have gleaned as much in the way of technique as possible from each one.

Hitler was undoubtedly an extraordinarily twisted and depraved example of our species, but there can be no doubt that he was a political genious and knew to a nicety how to manipulate events, individuals, and organizations, in such a way as to furher his own ends.

But whatever it is when it arrives, I am reasonably sure it won't have much in common with National Socialiam except corruption and lust for power.

It will probably have more commonality in methods, then in philosophy. Naziism was partly a response to the frustrations about having lost a serious war, and the very tough consequences that followed. But some elements are seen here: Use of propaganda, blaming things on liberals. So far we only have rhetorical thuggery -not the actual physical kind from the Brownshirts. But the technique of creating and exploiting scapecoats both internal and external is very likely to be a major component.

I sort of doubt a military coup would be the means. These are usually the result of the government becoming pathologically dysfunctional, and usually the generals go in the the attitude that they can simplu set things straight, than engineer a return to civilian rule. Of course if they meet severe resistance, they may never get to that point.

Hiltler was elected, but I doubt he could have grabbed dictatorial powers were not people seriously intimitaded by his legions of brownshirt goons. Also he was able to exploit the military culture of loyalty, he forced the military to take a personal oath of loyalty to himself, and German military culture was such that that oath was binding -even if it had been extracted under duress.

Hi Enemy,

Thanks for pointing out my oversight in failing to include methodology-which as I see it is pretty much standardized amomg all forms of repressive govt, varying only in the details.

There seems to be some confusion afoot between Nazis and fascists. First, fascist movements emerge from a society under stress and as such carry with them much of that societies values and myths, even if they're highly distorted. Second, there will not be a Nazi take-over of the US. Fascism in the US will be a home grown affair. Third, fascism is as much an economic paradigm as it is a political or social paradigm. What we're currently missing in the US is the totalitarian component of fascism. The corporations pretty much rule the roost, which is the main economic part of the picture. Part of the totalitarian component is the contradictory advance backwards. Some of the creationist ilk would have us progress by abandoning science and embracing unquestioning belief in some hocus-pocus. Their dream is to return to an era that never existed. They're also scared spittless of confronting the reality before them. They'd rather crawl back into a womb of consumer goods and comforting propaganda. As the demand for labor continues to sputter and decline, we can expect greater numbers of malcontents to gather around Sarah Palin types who promise everything for free with no consequences. That is, if she can form a coherent sentence or two. When their programs run the country into the ground, they'll round up the usual suspects which may also include anyone who disagreed with them. We're not at the point of fascism yet, however many of the pieces are in place.

Very good comment Kid.
Many of the pieces are in place that might "favor the audacious". An opportunist like Palin can morph into just about anything if it fattens her wallet.
The loss of privacy and civil liberties is real, but we have been unaware as we are consumed with making ends meet, distracted by our entertainments, and gadgets.
So while it may be true that no one (yet) is banging on our front door, they are sneaking into our bank and medical accounts, credit reports, and facebook pages.

What DOES concern me and get my attention is christian dominionists and christian Reconstructionists like Wilson, Demar, Gary North, Rushdoony, Bahnsen etc. They believe society's laws should be based upon Biblical OT law and want to replace our form of government.
Take a Palin, a Rushdoony,a bunch of Teabaggers, a popular Airforce General, put in a blender, and what do you get?

Recall that the military has become very politicized (Republican) and has become very fundamentalist.

Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" is the best example of how it has gone down in many countries recently and will likely go here.

Recall that the military has become very politicized (Republican) and has become very fundamentalist.

We will see how it works out. The military doesn't like to be placed into dangerous situations, whereas the Republicans are warmongers. Then the Republicans are an alliance of convenience between Dominionists, and the very different free-market (no taxes for me, and no regulations either types). It is concievable this alliance might breakup. Its just too tough to predict the future. I'll agree that I find the R's very scary. But on the other hand, it seems the corporate takeover of our political/media system is nearly complete -so which party wins may no longer mean anything.

What DOES concern me and get my attention is christian dominionists and christian Reconstructionists like Wilson, Demar, Gary North, Rushdoony, Bahnsen etc. They believe society's laws should be based upon Biblical OT law and want to replace our form of government.

That is a tiny faction. They might have a bit more influence than their numbers warrant, but they are still tiny. I dare say that most people that call themselves Christian have never heard of them, and a very considerable percentage would not agree to a large extent with that faction, were they to ever actually hear what they are saying.

The US has a large independent political center that is unorganized and quiet. This gives noisy fringe groups an opportunity to move into the vacuum and get more attention than their numbers really warrant. In turn, seeing the attention that fringe groups get makes those who don't agree with them fear that the fringe groups are far more powerful and threatening than they really are.

Second, there will not be a Nazi take-over of the US. Fascism in the US will be a home grown affair.

I would agree it will not probably be a Nazi style fascism, However, the Bush Regime was getting uncomfortably close to an Italian style Fascism, with the "binding" (hence fascism) of the Corporation, the Church and the State.
Does this look familiar?

Exactly right. The one thing that people don't realize, though, is that Bush was not "Il Duce", but was only a puppet. They even flattered him into thinking he was "the decider", he was dense enough to actually believe it and to not realize that he was being manipulated and maneuvered into doing exactly what his puppeteers wanted. The point is: Bush may be out, but the puppeteers are still there. They are just waiting. GWB was just the trial run, next time will be for real.


You are right, fascism is authoritarian corporatism. In the US, we've got the corporatism, unfortunately. We only await the authoritarianism, which may be a while yet, or may come sooner than we realize.

The paranoia about Palin is vastly overblown. She strikes me as being far more of a Father Coughlin than a Huey Long. She loves being in a position of spouting off and people paying attention to her, but she is not even minimally competent to actually govern, and even the average American, for all his/her faults, will realize that.

I would be far more concerned about an atractive personality being groomed and maneuvered by the corporate oligarchs into getting elected into the White House by a manipulated public, then being their puppet. Keep the outward appearance and pretense of democracy, while the actual underlying reality is corporatist authoritarianism. We came very, very close to having exactly this scenario in GWB, and in fact I would go so far as to argue that GWB was a trial run for the real deal coming up a little later.

I enjoy reading Kunstler and listening to Obama speeches for the same reason - they both do what they do very well.

James' Lament (as I call it) is just that, a cry for what is, and what should have been, and a rant at the blissfull ignorance nature has chosen to comfort us with during our brief moment of sunlight (what, has it been 10,000 years already?)

Jim Kunstler's latest piece is terribly acerbic.

Eh? What else is new!

Still, he gives the low down on that American revanchist phenomenon known as the "Tea Party".

One issue I do have is with people who think history must, or might, repeat itself. We really are not the Germany of the early twentieth century. We are something else, something more diverse and somewhat less focused than the Germans of that time.

That makes us Yugoslavia, circa 1990.

How about 18th Century Poland?


Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.

It's the Californication of Congress.

You are right, history never repeats in that way. Nevertheless, if one studies history, certain patterns do seem to emerge, and there are certain lessons to be learned.

The lesson from Weimar Germany is that ineffectual governance is not sustainable; eventually, the problems will pile up, people will become frustrated, and someone will come along offering solutions and an effective government to implement them. Weimar was not the first time and place where this happened, nor the last, it is just the example carved in most vivid relief. The US today is not Weimar Germany. Nevertheless, we do have ineffectual governance, the problems are piling up, and people are becoming frustrated. That is what is making some of us very nervous.

I find Mr. Kunstler's writing puzzling, at best. What is he trying to do? If it is to compel people to his position, he is certainly not going to gain a single convert by being insulting and stereotypical. If it is to entertain people who already agree with him, well, that may make him the Garrison Keillor of derogatory discourse, but what kind of person delights in the character assassination of an entire culture? Hmm, maybe a {fill-in-your-favorite-stereotype} New Yorker?

As a Connecticut Yankee, bedroom town of New York dweller, Fairfield County Brie and Port wine swiller, Martha Stewart McMansion dweller, I am clearly qualified to denigrate every other human on the continent.


(PS. I live in the 'other' Connecticut. Also known as the Appalachia of the North, where shipyard workers guzzle quarts and pints at lunch while their welfare girlfriends get drunk waiting for their second shifter, shiftless yard rats to come home. We even have car races in Thompson. Stereotypes? Hey, turnabout is fair play.)

I prefer Hoda Kotb's comment (meant for local consumption only), about living in New York City.

It's not too bad. Some decent food and even culture if you look for it. But first there is New Orleans, then San Francisco, and then New York City but the rest of America is just McDonald's.

Best Hopes for a riposte to New Yorkers,


We here in (underpopulated) "flyover country" prefer that you east/west/south coast folks continue to think in this way.

Thank you.

There are some world class musuems in New York and undoubtedly some very nice restaurants but I was not able to indulge myself eating out there very often for lack of money at the time when I was there a lot.

Except for the museums and the shows, if you are into theater,I can see no reason at all why anyone would ever go there or especially STAY there, except for reasons of family or money.

Anything else found there can be found other places that are much more congenial.

While I largely agree with you, its clear that for certain types of careers, in subjects like theatre, publishing, or fashion photography, and finance, that Manhatten is the center of the world. So for some people, if they want to maximize their careers it is the best/only choice. Other than that though, I remember what my class valadictorian had to say (grew up in NJ 20 miles away)" beauty is equal to the square of the distance from New York city".

I'll take you up on that one Alan.

1) Best public transit in the US, and it's not even close. Largest (by total route miles) metropolitan public transit system in the world, not even close.

2) The most diverse city in the entire world.

3) Culture capital of the world.

I could go on and and on. Most of your favorite thinkers or writers at some point have probably lived in NYC. That Black Swan guy everyone likes to mention calls NYC home...

For you villian ,and EoS with a grin an a winky:

Finance is money and one of the very biggest single discreet part of all our current troubles.Fashion photraghy is a cosmic joke to every one except addle pated women and the men interested in looking exactly right in order to get into thier pants.But hey, the photographers and the models need to eat too , right?At least high fashion proves that it is possible to be trim and slim in the lando Big Macs.

But no doubt the place has a certain magic-for the people that can't find it elsewhere.

Truth to be told, if I were well to do , meaning able to blow a few thousand bucks for in a week or so without giving the checkbook a thought I would probably drop in once a year myself.

But also the number of people in publishing, photography, finance, etc, in a meaningful way, (not as a clerk or secretary or other intercangeable underling) is fairly small in relation to the size and population of the place.

After spending some time there my conclusion all in all was that nearly every body there could have enjoyed a better life somewhere else.

oldfarmer: We have no disagreement about the unimportance of those professions. Nevertheless they are the ones that get lots of media attention. So for all those seeking fame/fortune it will be a magnet. And even though only a few will make it in those professions, many who aspired to them (or once did) will end up there -because otherwise the chance of fulfilling their dream os zero (rather than simply very small).

There are some smaller places that are must be in places for certain types of aspirations:
LA for all those with movie industry ambitions (where all the stars that never were are parking cars and pumping gas). Memphis for the wannabe country stars. DC for the wanna be politicos.....

Why New York City is #3 and New Orleans #1 among US Cities

NYC has about 25x as many people as New Orleans. Despite this advantage in numbers, New Orleans has it's own unique music, cuisine, culture and architecture. NYC does not.

Prior to Katrina, NYC did manage to tie New Orleans for fewest miles driven by residents (I am about to walk a half mile and catch the Saints victory parade). Given our human scale development, we are the better model than NYC for the rest of the world for transit, bicycle and walking development.

Both cities can claim their own unique literature. Ours is just a bit better.

All music begins in New Orleans (quote from lead signer of ZZ Top, who recorded their first album hear) and we are more creative here.

The source of much of the above is something unique (IMHO). New Orleans is the only true city (as opposed to town or village) where there is no social pressure to conform. Be Who You want to be, Do what you want to do as the song says. This is my source of creativity here and drives creativity in every part of life here (ordinary people do extraordinary things here).

We are friendly. everyone talks to each other and New Yorkers are, well, New Yorkers.

We have the best food in the world (Paris #2).

Mardi Gras is the Greatest Free Show on Earth (Rio & Trinidad have our equals).

We can party like no other city (at least in the USA).

And we have, at last, won the SuperBowl :-)

I could go on but I need to start walking soon.

Best Hopes for the Saints,


Why was New Orleans called "chocolate town" by its mayor Ray Nagin? Was this a Black racist tactic to make White people feel unwelcomed?

Race relations in New Orleans are complex. For example the black community is split between the Creoles (descended from the educated Free People of Color with French culture) and those descended from plantation slaves.

Post-Katrina, when whites returned more quickly, the city had a white majority. Every white I talked to, save one, wanted a city that was at least half black (although many would have preferred less than 2/3rds). Else we would have lost far too much of our culture and spirit.

Our new mayor was elected with 66% of the vote and a majority from every group (except Republicans, who re-elected Nagin).

I think his "chocolate city" comment was badly phrased, but he was expressing the common wish that our black working class would return.


Anybody who lives in a city below sea level without a submarine is nuts in my opinion.

Chuck = Having grown up in N.O. I can attest to the fact that one doesn't not have to be nuts to live. But it certainly does help...especially during Mardi Gras.

Jim Kunstler's latest piece is terribly acerbic.

Kunstler is a journalist and writer. Like any writer he writes for an audience and his primary purpose is to amuse and then enlighten. I often disagree with his points but I'm a fan so I read his posts regardless.

One of the interesting features about his blog is he allows a wide latitude in the comments section. One commenter flagged an article that I found prophetic from the Wall Street Journal:

20 reasons Global Debt Time Bomb explodes soon

1. Federal Budget Deficit Bomb. The Bush/Cheney wars pushed America deep into a debt hole. Federal debt limit was just raised almost 100% with Obama's 2010 budget, to $14.3 trillion vs. $7.8 trillion in 2005. The Congressional Budget Office predicts future deficits around 4% through 2020. Get it? America's debt at 84% of GDP will soon pass that toxic 90% trigger point.

2. U.S. Foreign Trade Bomb. Monthly deficits actually dropped from $50 billion per month to roughly $35 billion. But the total continues climbing as $400 billion is added each year. Foreigners now own $2.5 trillion of America, with China holding over $1.3 trillion in Treasury debt.

3. Weakening U.S. Dollar as Foreign Reserve Currency Bomb. Fear China and other currencies will replace dollar as main foreign reserves. The dollar's fallen: The main index measuring dollar strength has gone from 120 at the Clinton-to-Bush handoff to below 80 today.

4. Cheap Money Bomb: Credit Ratings Down, Rates Up. Economists at S&P, Fitch and Moody's were totally co-conspirators of Fat Cat Bankers, misleading investors before meltdown: Soon, debt up, ratings down, interest rates soar.

5. Global Real Estate Bomb. Dubai Tower, new "world's tallest building" is empty. BusinessWeek warns that China's housing collapse could be worse than America's. Plus the U.S. commercial real estate bubble is now $1.7 trillion, a "ticking time bomb" bloating 25% of bank balance sheets.

6. Peak Oil and the Population Bomb. China and India each need 500 new cities. The United Nations estimates world population exploding 50% from 6 billion to 9 billion by 2050: Three billion more humans demanding more automobiles, exhausting more resources to feed their version of the gas-guzzling "America Dream."

7. Social Security Bomb. We have no choice; eventually we must either cut benefits or raise taxes. Politicians hate both, so they'll do nothing. Delays worsen solutions. Without action, by 2035 Social Security and Medicare benefits will eat up the entire federal budget other than defense.

8. Medicare: A Nuclear Bomb. Going broke faster than Social Security. Prescription drug benefit added an unfunded $8.1 trillion. In 5 years estimates rose from about $35 trillion to over $60 trillion now.

Look at number 6: Peak Oil and the Population Bomb. Can you hear that ominous tick...tick...tick?


7. Social Security Bomb. We have no choice; eventually we must either cut benefits or raise taxes. Politicians hate both, so they'll do nothing. Delays worsen solutions. Without action, by 2035 Social Security and Medicare benefits will eat up the entire federal budget other than defense.

I always seem to be the one who responds to this one (glutton for punishment). First, there's no such thing as "Social-Security-and-Medicare." Two different programs, two different revenue streams, two different cost projections. Consider Social Security first:

  • Everyone's forecasts for Social Security -- including organizations like the WSJ that are violently opposed to the program, and have been since its inception -- show SS costs stabilizing at about 6.2% of GDP. The Baby Boomers affect how quickly we get to that level, but that's the stable level that continues in the forecasts long after the last of the Boomers has died.
  • The SS tax is currently 12.4% on earned income under a cap. So long as wages and salaries below the cap constitute at least 50% of GDP, the system is solvent as long as the economy rolls along. However, the long-term forecasts say that wages and salaries below the cap will be a steadily shrinking portion of GDP, and will fall below 50%. Personally, I think the social ramifications of this are likely to cause large problems long before the SS trust fund runs out.
  • If nothing is done, sometime in the 2040s or 2050s (depending on whose forecast for the economy you use) SS benefits will have to be cut to 75% of what they would have otherwise been. People who say that they won't ever see a dime of their SS money are simply wrong -- worst case in any of the current forecasts is that they only get 7.5 cents instead of the whole dime.

Medicare is a completely different story. The forecasts all show exponential growth for as far as they are run. Note that most of this is not a function of demographics; it's the result of a forecast that says medical expenses for everyone will grow exponentially at a rate higher than inflation. The forecasts that Medicare will consume 16% of GDP at some point in the future are derived from forecasts that say that medical spending in total will consume over 50% of GDP. Not. Going. To. Happen. Fix health care spending overall, and Medicare will be taken care of as well.

What none of the forecasts take into consideration is things like long-term economic decline from factors such as failing energy supplies. Certainly SS and/or Medicare fail financially in such scenarios. But a whole lot of other things are likely to fail first, making the whole argument moot.

You are continuing the facade of these programs being separate in reality, and with assets in reality. All taxes are income for the gov't; all entitlements are expenses. The simple fact is that we're running a deficit, and it doesn't really matter where taxes are earmarked to go, if the entire system falls short.

Not to mention that all the money has been borrowed and spent, so there is no real balance of credits -- it's all a cash-flow issue going forward. Really, it can't be otherwise, because such massive stores and flows distort the financial landscape sufficiently to locally discount the values -- when you suck that much money out, or put that much in, the entire market shifts to match. Once we're in a draw-down mode, all the assets will shrink in value quickly, and make the reality worse.

The real question is, what fraction of GDP can be shifted to debt payback and entitlements before the economy itself slows in a descending spiral? As long as we have positive marginal returns after all is spent we're good -- but if we hit a tipping point of cash outflow all bets are off.

Me, I'm planning to work forever. If I get to retire or die someday, it'll be a nice blessing at that time.

The really big problem is that the FedGov is insolvent, even before the latest round of megadeficits are included. Were the FedGov a corporation, it would already be "in receivership" (to use a British term).

Of course, national governments cannot actually file for bankruptcy. They just default on their soveriegn debts. That is what inevitably happens, and has over and over again. There is no reason to think that the US is unique or will be exempt from this historic pattern.

SS and Medicare are two of the FedGov debts that will probably have to be defaulted upon, at least in part. I am guessing that for SS, when it does eventually happen the program will be restructured so that all retirees only get a minimum stipend at most (with a likely phase out for the non-poor), just barely enough to survive. I suspect that government dormitories and government cafeterias/soup kitchens will be set up for those who only have SS to live on; it will be easier and cheaper for the FedGov to deliver "in kind" benefits. As for Medicare, if you want coverage you will go to a government clinic, and you will get only what rationed care that your age and condition qualify you for.

All this won't happen tomorrow, but I can't see it being avoided forever.

SS trust fund

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the "SS trust fund" pretty much consist of just Treasury IOUs? And once it turns cash-flow negative, which it is doing right now, doesn't that mean that the government has to borrow more money from other people (on top of a multi-trillion dollar deficit) just to make current payments?

Correct. To fund the Social Security deficit this year, the federal government has to cut spending elsewhere or (more likely) borrow the money to fund the deficit.

It seems worth noting that the SS deficit this year is measured relative to the direct tax revenues. That deficit is less than the interest due on the Treasuries held by the trust fund; the trust fund balance will still grow over the course of the year. Historically, the Treasury has paid the interest it owed to the trust fund with additional bonds -- since that's all the fund is allowed to hold. This year it will have to pay a small portion of the interest in cash.

Whether the General Fund is "borrowing" to make those cash interest payments is more a matter of semantics than anything. It would be equally accurate to say that the (relatively) small cash payment to the SS trust fund is being made out of General Fund tax receipts, so they'll have to borrow a bit more to pay for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Or that they'll have to borrow a bit more in order to make interest payments to all the other holders of Treasuries who always receive their interest in cash.

I take the same position that lots of analysts do: the Social Security trust fund has a deficit problem in a few decades; the General Fund has an enormous deficit problem right now.

Yes, and with socialism being off the table, thus precluding the investment of funds in corporate securities, there really is no alternative to this arrangement. This is also why the thing has effectively been a Ponzi scheme from the very beginning.

The FedGov is insolvent and eventually will have to default on many, if not all, of its obligations, and this includes SS. There might continue to be some provision for the elderly after the default, but it will more likely be a flat, means-tested, and minimal old age pension, together with the offering of in-kind meals (mess hall) and housing (dormitories) assistance for those who need it.

Just like the old days... It will be interesting to see what happens to the fertility rate, when pensions, social security, and other entitlement programs fail it will be back to relying on yourself and family. Poor economic conditions tend to depress birth rates, but what does a serious collapse do?

rainsong, 1 of the 9 countries/regions pre peak. How many years (more) can they keep world oilproduction on plateau ?


From Matt Mushalik's Crude Oil Peak blog.

Kashagan in the Caspian Sea is due to come onstream soon. They are going to try to link up with the BTC pipeline system and pump oil by various routes perhaps eventually more than a million barrels a day. The field is supposed to be 13 billion barrels of sour crude. One might see over 30 years of production like at Prudhoe Bay.

Kazakhstan has the potential to double its exports. Their oil reserves are reported as 40 billion.

40 billion is 1 1/2 years of world oil consumption in BAU

Kashagan comes online in 4 years, making the Kazakh bar on that graph about as wide as Venezuela's is now; and how many nations will have declined in the interim? Or you could think of Kashagan replacing Cantarell, up to a point, anyway. It is all balances on a scale, increasing rates of depletion piling up on the negative side; we are currently dealing with more and more deepwater offshore sources dragging production down, and those decline very steeply.

I sort of wondered about that. Why were Columbia and Egypt increasing oil production after years of declines? Venezuelan declines are political. Once that area stabilizes things might change. Do not expect it to remain unstable forever. How much OPEC oil capacity is shut in? How many billions of barrels are in the presalt Brazilian or GOM fields? What is the Mexican deep potential? It is untapped while the US began to explore and develop deep projects long ago. Will more exploration off the northern coast of South America find anything more than large natural gas fields? The South China Sea is becoming a natural gas bonanza. What was it 25 years ago? How many holes have been sunk into the Indus River Delta? How long was the GOM prospected before they found the Lower Tertiary?

Latest postponement: Kashagan Start of production: est 2014, furthermore in year 2000 (time of discovery) they proclaimed 'first oil' in 2005 .... I wonder what they'll say in 2014, don't you Rainsong ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashagan_Field

Last year 'they' said Sthokman-natgas-field on stream in 2014, this year that field is completely in the fog.

I agree that when one focuses solely on countries and regions with rising production, one gets a different perspective. A fair analogy would be to calculate one's investment returns by looking at only winning investments.

While oil production stagnation is no lie. Consider coal. From 2003-2008 it was the fastest growing source of energy in the world, compared to oil, nat. gas, hydro, nculear, wind, biomass, solar pv, etc. I suppose someone liked the sermons about cheap electricity for their irrigation pumpls more than the sermons about the sins of using carbon.

1 of the 9 countries/regions are pre peak. How many years (more) can they keep world oilproduction on plateau?

Seems like the only reason a rocky peak plateau has been maintained since late 04 are the multitude of super straws added to old field elephants. But the tradeoff is an increased rate of depletion, which will take hold at some point with a much sharper decline. When? Who knows when. Maybe Ace, wt or Rockman have an idea.

Earl -- I don't care much for the numbers game...I'll leave that to the numerical pros here. I'll give you my 'Big Picture' view. Price improvements certainly had there place of course. And the price combined with expensive tech improvements allows exploration into new areas. Deep Water GOM Tertiary and Brazil are obvious examples. But I can look back at the big plays in Texas, La, N. Slope, Ca and elsewhere in our country (I'll leave the international picture to others). The new plays pale in comparison. It's taken over 80 years to exploit those old fields. If similar reserves where within our reach today we could be producing 200+ million bbl of oil/day. The new big plays are just that: new. But what we've found recently and what some project in the near future might sound like a lot but it's not compared to the volume of rocks we've produced since 1910 in the U.S. We are the third largest oil producer in the world and while the new fields have contributed to maintaing that status, it's the stripper wells in the old heritage fields that keep us there.

Seems like the only reason a rocky peak plateau has been maintained since late 04 are the multitude of super straws added to old field elephants.

Perk Earl, not the only reason. See Megaprojects on Wikipedia. But many are offshore and most of them start a steep decline after 10-15 years of production. That means that a lot of those projects started in the '90's are allready in decline or about to decline soon.

According to the Energy Export Databrowser for Kazakhstan, their crude oil production rose to 1.5 Mb/d by 2009, a bit less than the 1.7 Mb/d that the EIA forecast.

Some new old oil pictures in the Mary Evans picture library:

a small collection of lantern slides from contributor Grayham Chayney which focus on BP’s early association with the oil industry in the Middle East. BP began life as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which was founded in 1908 when millionaire William Knox D’Arcy’s geologist George Reynolds struck oil in the Persian desert after years of fruitless prospecting. The photographs, dated about 1925, include scenes in Iraq and Iran, and also feature the large BP oil refinery at Llandarcy near Swansea where crude oil from the east arrived

Also filling oil cans in Hackney Wick in North-east London.


I rather like number 20 'the primitive oil refinery' and number 24 'Mule transports kerosene in Iraq'

Those were the days....

"Primitive Oil Refinery in Iraq or Iran."

Which part's the hydrotreater?

Kunstler's essay was a scream, I thought. I forwarded it to a few friends who never read this stuff and they all said, 'right on". It was funny. It was well written. It was as it is, at its' best.

AGW is scary stuff, but I am more worried if rolling blackouts start to hit US cities in the next 10 or so years. Or, if people are forced to lose the happy motoring dream as JHK writes about. Then, it really gets political. Pray he is wrong and it is a slow transition.

Let's talk about something other than climate change. It looked to me like the whole thing was getting out of hand, so I hid the whole bunch. I was also getting e-mail complaints about the exchange.

Sorry I was busy doing something else this morning (research!) and wasn't following this discussion. Leanan is supposed to be back tomorrow.

I though that the whole thing was quite civil, and the lead article had "oil" in the title so was directly relevant to the title of this site.

I certainly think that we should talk about a range of topics, not just GW, but axing dozens of posts by some of the most thoughtful contributors on the site (on both/many sides of the issue) seems a bit...precipitous.

At least re-post Alan's last post about the mood of NO. It was pure genius (and not GW-related).

How about if I unhide the hidden comments tonight, so people who want to look at the references can look at them? I think there were probably some climate change good posts in all of this--it just gets kind of overwhelming for someone to scroll through and find another topic.

Sounds fair, Gail. Too bad the setup doesn't allow collapsible threads :)

Yes, that would be much appreciated. Rockman had a particularly hilarious and insightful post that I would have copied to my files for later contemplation and chuckles if I had known it was to be "hidden."

I was wondering if you had a function to move discussions deemed too extensive to the end of the thread, so that certain persons (who for some reason find it too difficult or onerous to scroll past discussions of topics they're not interested in) aren't un-necessarily ruffled by them.

It looks like you are single-handedly operating the whole site at this point, and I do appreciate the effort and the difficulty of catering to different tastes and perspectives.

Do you expect Leanan back soon to help you with the burden?

In the mean time, hang in there.

I am expecting Leanan will be back tomorrow.

Dave Summers (Heading Out) has been providing the majority of the Drumbeat items, but I have been adding some too, and putting the combined list up.

Oh, were a bunch of posts deleted? I wondered where mine went - thought I was starting to lose brain cells! ;-)

What complaints?

Thank you Gail.

here here...Thankyou much, I don't come here to read and chat about climate change...Its not called the mercury drum..

Its not called the mercury drum..

However, it does seem to many that peak oil and AGW are moving forward towards a bottle neck and which one gets there first is anyone's guess.

Also, burning fossil fuels including oil produces CO2 which is the main AGW greenhouse emission. So many times the two subjects dovetail.

I personally find both topics equally fascinating due to the complexity of their subject. Trying to be so pure as to edit the content of the threads seems extreme.

I'm sorry we are not welcome to discuss both, in spite of the lack of a name like MercuryDrum.com

The solution to both problems is the same: alternative energy. It is incredible how humans are prepared to endlessly b*tch and moan and shoot the messenger all to keep the delusion that business as usual will continue. Maybe the peak oil shock will wake industrial civilization up but maybe it will bury it. So doing something about it preemptively is the only right approach. In the process we get to save the planet.

Well heck, I'm sorry I missed out!

I have to admit that there was plenty of intelligent and insightful commentary on that thread. However, it had grown so quickly that it was one of those times I used the 'collapsible thread' feature. I can understand Gail's desire to keep the comments a little more on-topic.

there was plenty of intelligent and insightful commentary on that thread.

I'd expect nothing less from our TOD crew -- cheers!

Indeed. At its best this is one of the few places I've found on the thread that reasonably civil and intelligent discussions on this important but now divisive topic takes place with people from a variety of perspectives chiming in.

I would hate for that to be lost.

I guess we'll pick up the discussion later tonight.

I wonder if there is a technological solution that would satisfy both the contributors, who invest time and energy in discussion of an arguably important topic and editors, who worry that there is too much 'noise' for infrequent readers looking more specifically for 'discussions about energy'.

SuperG, Can an editor set a comment thread as default collapsed? That might be a kinder, gentler way for editors to exercise some authority over how the site appears to newbies while still allowing a wide ranging discussion.

Best hopes for a techo-social solution. I would certainly hate to lose some of my favorite contributors over this issue.

-- Jon

There are verboten topics and discouraged topics. AGW/CC is discouraged because there are numerous other sites to dig deeper and to argue -- obvious this is the site for oil first...and energy and minerals after that...then finance, population, disease, AGW, etc.

Maybe moving the inciting stories and the subthreads into a separate discussion would make sense. I for one like the info and enjoy the exchanges, though my opinions are not mainstream.

We can probably all be careful about sounding like religious zealots...I can see a newbie saying, "my, what a hostile cult I've found."

This is why I use "todban", which you can get from here:


I have it set to automatically collapse comments that are not "new". You can also configure a list of "banned users" - posts by those users are automatically collapsed as well (you can configure it to hide them instead).

In some ways I would like a site-wide option to collapse comments that are not "new" - this would make it a bit easier to find the new stuff, and easier to ignore things that you don't want to read..

Use your browser's search function to search for "[new]" (without the quotation marks) to locate the new posts.

Gail, it's one thing to delete offensive comments or spam, but using your editorial power to shutoff legitimate discussion would seem to go beyond reasonable bounds. In this political year, faced with a flood of politically motivated loud shouting about AGW from both sides, perhaps you would consider releasing those e-mails so that those of us who do not use this back channel for control of the forum might understand your reasons for such actions. For example, I just watched Stine's 1 hr 26 min presentation on YouTube, which I thought to be extremely interesting. One obvious conclusion from his work is that warming might make Southern California and Arizona essentially uninhabitable.

Is this projection something which you are choosing to hide? If your decision was so motivated, I think we should be aware of it...

E. Swanson

One obvious conclusion from his work is that warming might make Southern California and Arizona essentially uninhabitable.

More than just Southern California and Arizona:

Global warming will render half of world's inhabited areas unliveable

Severe global warming could make half the world's inhabited areas literally too hot to live in, a US scientist warned today.

Parts of China, India and the eastern US could all become too warm in summer for people to lose heat by sweating - rendering such areas effectively uninhabitable.

Gail is the Hilary Clinton of Web Forums - Free Speech only when it agrees with her point of view.

[Let's see how long it takes to delete this]

Oh geez, that swipe is unfair. Gail, you're doing a fine job!

johnjay -- For the love of God don't do that again. In my fantasy world I picture Gail as a smart Sarah Palin. Please don't take that away from me. Since the operation I need all the help I can get. Or at least that's what my wife keeps telling me. I'm at the point where I use Viagra just to keep from peeing on my feet.

Boooo, Hissss. Shame on you!

jihnjay, you should go off some place and play all alone.

Gail can't please everybody no matter what.There are literally dozens if comments everyday that disagree with her positons.

NO !!

Lets talk about Climate Change ! Coupled with PO, and more important that Peak Oil.
This is an abuse of editorial power !


Yea, that was (is?) my favorite thread I've seen on a while.

The fact that it was the first thread of they day made it over the top.

Is it possible to move the thread down to the bottom ?

I can't move threads. I'll put it back up in a little while.

There seems to have been a burst of climate-change denialism on the Drumbeat lately. It's discouraging and disconcerting, and tends to make the credibility of the site plummet in my eyes. All this jibber-jabber about things like "medieval warming period" and "effects of water vapor" are just classic denialist pseudo-science talking points that have been dealt with by real scientists over and over. It's the kind of unending "yeah, but what about x?" arguing that you get from the Birthers and the Truthers and their ilk. I might expect to find these "arguments" on Fox News or NewsMax -- not on a site with a reputation for credibility like The Oil Drum.
Like Sharon Astyk, I find it distressing that so many people concerned about peak oil think climate change is a hoax or a non-issue -- and the reverse is also true! It's just a weird pissing match, like "my favorite problem is bigger than your favorite problem, so there! Nyah nyah!" Immature and simpleminded. Can some people's brains only hold one "major problem" at a time?!
Each of these problems is real and makes the other (and other problems) harder to deal with -- though some things that help address one may help with the other also (like, reducing fossil fuel use!). In any case, we can't say "well, economic problems (credit, etc) are more important than environmental problems" -- economic collapse, while a pretty major disaster, is not quite as major as severe damage to the biosphere, endangering the actual survival of our species. Economy is embedded within environment, not vice-versa. We can't have any kind of economy at all (or any discussions of the arcanities of credit markets and the like) if we don't have a physical environment in which we can survive.
Also -- I doubt it's the case that peak oil will "solve" global warming -- "hey, emissions will stop pretty soon anyway!" -- since even if that were to happen, the climate effects of past emissions will continue to worsen for a long time.
In any case, if this persistent climate change denialism continues to be a major part of the Drumbeat content, I think it will hurt the credibility and reputation of the site, and it'll certainly cause me to say "bye." I mean, I expect a certain amount of silliness -- like x's constant pushing of ethanol -- but c'mon, people! This is actually not something that serious, informed people dispute any longer! Unless you want to fall into the category of the Birthers, Truthers, Flat-Earthers, and so on ... I guess there is an audience for that kind of stuff, but it doesn't include me.

In any case, if this persistent climate change denialism continues to be a major part of the Drumbeat content, I think it will hurt the credibility and reputation of the site...

I think there's a lot less denialism on TOD than the average board. Look at the comments on any major newspaper's site whenever a climate-change story is published -- TOD is like the Oxford Union Society by comparison!

I agree, it questions the credibility of the site. I t is quite startling!

Where has CCPO been all month?

Now that the discussion of Global Warming is hidden, I would like to call people's attention to the brewing competition for energy imports raised by the China and India stories:

Quoting more extensively from the India story:

India could face a ‘coal shock’ sooner than later if the power utilities do not wake up to the fuel security risks from stagnating domestic production and start planning long-term coal imports to meet the fuel shortage. Although big power producers like NTPC are already meeting domestic coal shortages with imports, they have not shown any urgency to get into long-term import contracts.

Meanwhile, China’s coal demand has overtaken its domestic production, forcing the world’s largest coal producer to import coal. Till 2006, China was a net exporter of coal.

The global coal production in 2008 was 6.8 billion tonne while consumption stood at 6.7 billion tonne. China produced 43% of the world’s coal. So there is a clear risk that if a big coal consumer like India suddenly enters the world market, it could send international coal prices soaring.

Let's have a look at the data in the historical record. From the Energy Export Databrowser, here's what we see for coal:

(Note: vertical scales differ.)

If I were in India, I would share their concern.

Now, how about natural gas?

(Note: vertical scales differ.)

Looks like we're in for some stiff competition in that arena as well.

If you review the data for the Middle East and Central Asia, current exporters of natural gas/LNG, you'll see similarly frightening consumption growth rates.

The fact that India and China, representing over 2 billion people, are racing to secure as much coal and natural gas as they can leaves me with the impression that looming resource constraints -- and the economic costs of securing scarce resources -- might provide a most compelling argument for reducing fossil fuel use in the West.

Even those who distrust politicians and scientific panels can be trusted to look after their pocketbook.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

My take on it is that unless the Chinese economy collapses, we're all screwed -- and also that IF the Chinese economy collapses, we're all screwed.

No argument really but perhaps if the constraints were actually perceived to be biting, then argument would simply be redundant? After all, actions that increase (not reduce) fossil fuel use - such as restoring a full-bore housing Ponzi-scheme - seem to top the societal to-do list. For the moment there's no obvious fuel-supply constraint - instead, even something as utterly profligate as jetting halfway round the world to hear an hour or two of highly amplified inaudibly mumbled "conference" speeches seems restrained solely (and only negligibly) by ... ordinary wintertime flight cancellations.

If you review the data for the Middle East and Central Asia, current exporters of natural gas/LNG, you'll see similarly frightening consumption growth rates.

I am a recent proponent of using graphs like these, to help educate people.

I think the concept of 'Peak Oil' is difficult for some to visualize, or think about in a personal way.

On the other hand, it is my hope that if we help show that many places in the world are reducing their oil (coal, ng, etc) exports out from their countries, it means there is less for 'us' to use.

Thank goodness oil is getting back up $75. I was afraid KSA would have to start asking for loans to keep production up.

I was looking at Will Energy Plant Explosion Mean Higher Electric Rates? that I listed second above.

Actually, thinking like an insurance person, my question was the reverse--Will the Energy Plant Explosion Mean Lower Electric Rates? Or, from an insurers point of view: Would anyone have had the motivation to blow up the plant, because it perhaps really wasn't needed, and the rate structure would lock the utility into buying high priced electricity that it really didn't need? (The chances are 99.9% that this was not an issue, but after one sees huge number of suspicious fires from restaurants that aren't "making it" financially, one always asks the question.)

What the article seems to say is that this is a 620 megawatt plant, that was nearly finished. It was presumably a peaking plant, that was paid both on a capacity basis, and on a kWh basis. We are told that for the first 15 years, the contact would guarantee a strike price of $13.40 per kilowatt per month so that the plant could get financing. I would presume this payment is providing the gas fired electricity generation capacity. $13.40 x 620,000 would seem to mean monthly payments of $8,308,000. We are also told that this was expected to amount to 60% of the plants revenues, which would seem to imply that the plant's gross revenues would be (8,308,000 / .60) = $13,836,667 per month.

The question is: How much would the new plant really have been used? We know that most places, electrical demand is down, so the need for new plants is less than when they were built. Presumably the total amount of revenue the plant would generate would vary somewhat with the amount of electricity sold, but let's look at it as if it didn't.

In a 30 day month, there are a possibility of (30 x 24 x 620,000) = 446,400,000 kWh per month. If the peaking plant is used only 20% of the time (quite common), the cost per kWh would amount to

$13,846,667 / (446,400,000 x 20%) = 15.5 cents per kWh, which is a high wholesale electricity rate.

At 40% usage, its cost per kWh would be

$13,846,667 / (446,400,000 x 40%) = 7.8 cents per kWh, which would be higher than the wholesale price of coal fired electricity, but not too unreasonable.

I don't know any of the particulars here, but if there is any chance that the plant would only be used only, say 10% to 20% of the time over the next several years, it seems like insurance companies would might start sniffing around to verify that no one was trying to collect on the insurance policies. Of course, with five people killed, that would seem to suggest this possibility would be extremely remote.

But if we start seeing more of these power plant explosions, especially without people killed, insurance companies are likely to be looking at this issue. Or if the country goes more into recession, and long term electricity needs start looking lower, the presence of an insurance policy can make the untimely demise of an unneeded facility look appealing.

Does someone closer to this issue have some comments? Are my calculations correct? What is the going "Strike price" now? How much would this plant likely have been operated, if it had been fully completed?

Gail -

Are you really sure that it is solely intended as a peaking plant?

I ask because a 620 MW plant is hardly small and is probably somewhere in the middle of the size range for US power plants.

My hunch is that it would be utilized a great deal more than 10 or 20%. Quite possibly the plant would be in operation most of the time, with its output going up and down to match load, thus allowing some of the other base-load plants to operate at a more or less constant output.

The few pictures I've seen are not all that clear, so I can't quite tell if it is a gas turbine plant or a steam plant. There are two stacks, so we have at least two units, probably 310 MW each. That seems rather large for a gas turbine (maybe they're building them bigger than they used to), although I suppose there could be multiple units served by each stack. There's also quite a large cooling tower, which tends to suggest that it might be a steam plant.

Anyway, to use auto insurance lingo, I don't think it's clear yet that the plant has been 'totalled.'

Your point about it not being clear whether it is a "total" is a good point. According to some reports, it is one of the largest in recent times, so one would think it was base-load (although with natural gas, one wonders). I have had the impression that some plants were built with the intention of much more use than they really got. With electrical usage down in 2009, I would guess that usage would be less than projections, but projections were likely make long enough ago that there would be a lot of error range in them.

Gail -

FYI: The plant in question is a combined-cycle gas turbine, in which the hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine is used to generate steam to run a low-pressure steam turbine. Its overall thermal efficiency is supposedly quite high. The presence of a steam turbine would explain the large cooling tower in the pictures. So evidently they are now making gas turbines in the 300 MW range and larger. Given its size, I'm inclined to believe that this is what is called a 'load-following' plant rather than strictly a peaking plant. As such, it would be run more or less constantly but with varying output.

By the way, the problem you mentioned regarding the difficulties in forecasting future electrical demand is quite similar to that encountered in designing municipal water treatment plants and sewage treatment plants. Many of these were overbuilt because everybody involved kept inserting their own safety factors that, when combined, made for a larger plant than what would be needed for a long time.


you might want to revisit you math;; At the beginning of the post you stated that it was a 620MW plant but when you did your math, you used the number 640,000KWH That extra 20 megawatts would make a difference in the KWH cost

I fixed what I said up above. The numbers I showed as the end points were correct. I did the calculation completely (on my calculator, copied to a piece of paper). I managed to make a mistake copying from my worksheet to the post. The calculations were actually done with 620 MW, not 640 MW, so what is shown now should be correct.

It's hard to make predictions about the future, or something to that effect, but are we really so sure that electricity demand will stay down for very long? It's not as though anybody's doing anything to stabilize population size, which is a major factor in aggregate demand. There's the potential (so to speak) for a fair number of plug-in cars; given the price difference between electricity and gasoline, some commuters will certainly find ways to charge them during the daytime air-conditioning peak to get the discount (which is huge at the margin, once the very expensive car has become a sunk cost) on the ride home as well as the ride out. And while the last few summers have been on the cool side in many places, there's no guarantee that will continue indefinitely.

what was the carbon footprint of the explosion in middletown conn.?
i wonder if the workers were making more than $14 per hour?
and the managers who told them to open doors and windows?
were they making more than $14 per hour?
now is a good time for all of us to reduce our lifestyle. then we will not need extra natural gas fired electric generating plants.
so, it appears the goobermint is run by crooks for crooks.
the state allowed the high strike price for kiliowatt hours.
based on what? that some consortium is guaranteed lots of public money far into the future?

JHK sure seems angry about things. maybe he should reduce his lifestyle. i recommend he set his salary at $14 per hour.

"N.J. says onus for rail funding rests on Pennsylvania
While work has gotten under way on an initial seven-mile stretch of route in New Jersey, much more money and political effort are needed to restore passenger rail service from Northeast Pennsylvania to New York City's doorstep - and the onus may fall largely on the Keystone State."

instead of hammering down southerners JHK should look around up here and write scathing commentary about above article. JHK is patently phony.

Teaching old brick new tricks....

Green guts for an old office block
Retrofits can restore competitive edge to energy-hogging 1960s, 70s and 80s office buildings, reducing costs and enabling higher rents

At 2 a.m. inside the offices at 1405 Douglas St. in downtown Victoria, B.C., the digital brain that controls the building's heating and cooling starts planning its day.

“It calculates if it will be warm by 9 o'clock when people are arriving at work,” says Karen Jawl of Jawl Properties Ltd. Unlike the old system, it doesn't start heating on a cool morning only to blast the air conditioning later as the weather warms. Since it was installed last year, the new “intelligent” system has saved the company $60,000 in annual energy costs.

Not bad for a six-storey office block that opened in 1969.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/green-guts-for-an-old-office-...