Drumbeat: February 11, 2010

Climate Change May Spur Unstable Oil Prices, Regions, U.S. Says

(Bloomberg) -- Climate change and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels could have “severe consequences,” including potential surges in oil prices and risks to national security, the White House Council of Economic Advisers said today.

“Continued reliance on fossil fuels is leading to the buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and is changing our climate,” the CEA said in its annual report to President Barack Obama. “Left unaddressed, these trends will have increasingly severe consequences over time.”

Dependence on petroleum-based fuels makes the economy vulnerable to costly swings in oil prices, and could carry “significant national security costs,” the advisers said. Climate change could act as a “threat multiplier” as some unstable regions in the world become more volatile, the report said, citing a study by CNA Corp., a nonprofit research group.

Iraq Will Use Argus Crude Price Formula From April

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq, holder of the world’s third- largest crude reserves, will begin pricing oil it sells to the U.S. off the Argus Sour Crude Index starting from April, an Oil Ministry official said today.

Nigeria's Acting Leader Woos Oil Companies

Nigeria's new acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, is attempting to breathe life into the nation's ailing energy sector just two days after assuming the duties of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who has been out of the country since November with health problems.

Mr. Jonathan summoned several executives from foreign oil companies on Thursday to meet with top Nigerian officials. A focal point of the talks: militants who have sabotaged pipelines, disrupting production and oil prices.

Petrobras Finds 25 Million Barrels of Oil in Brazil

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, said it found about 25 million barrels of recoverable oil in shallow waters of the nation’s Campos Basin.

Production at the 4-PM-53 oil well will start this year, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said today in a regulatory filing. Petrobras, as the company is known, plans to drill additional wells at the field this year and said each well will produce about 3,000 barrels a day.

FACTBOX - Venezuela development plan for Orinoco oil belt

(Reuters) - Venezuela has launched a massive plan to develop the nation's vast Orinoco heavy crude oil belt, considered one of the largest in the world, that is slated to add 2.1 million barrels per day of new production.

Sharon Astyk: Pick up your hat (response to John Michael Greer)

In Depletion and Abundance I write about the difficulty of committing to a lifestyle change in a world where you always seem to have more time, where defining events are always on the horizon but never present. I use the phrase "time to pick up your hat" which I take from a short story by Robert Heinlein, as a way of thinking both about how difficult it is to change and how necessary.

Light rail may make tracks

Two separate proposals for the future of public transport in Sydney have called for a light-rail network to service the Eastern Suburbs including stops at North Bondi and Darlinghurst.

Planning expert Gary Glazebrook, a senior lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, has released a report prescribing key upgrades to Sydney’s public transport system to meet concerns about “peak oil, climate change and links between obesity and health”.

Water-gulping cos' risk disclosures run dry -report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most publicly traded companies that depend on water do not adequately disclose their financial risks to droughts and future regulations, even as water scarcity problems mount, according to a report released on Thursday.

Kicking carbon: A thousand whacky ideas may bring a few answers

PLANTING nut trees and salvaging old frying fat to make biodiesel are among ideas devised by communities across Britain competing for government money to fight climate change. Twenty-two struck lucky. Over the past two months the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has given these winners of the Low Carbon Community Challenge (LCCC) grants of up to £500,000 ($780,000). Most of the projects involve small communities of 1,000 to 3,000 people planning a mix of measures such as new hydro-, wind, solar and biomass power; home insulation; electric transport and growing their own food.

Ahmadinejad: Iran is now a ‘nuclear state’

TEHRAN, Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions.

Ahmadinejad reiterated to hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians on the anniversary of the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic that the country was now a "nuclear state," an announcement he's made before. He insisted that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons.

Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance

After a U-turn in the politics of poverty, food stamps, a program once scorned as “welfare,” enjoys broad new support. Following deep cuts in the 1990s, Congress reversed course to expand eligibility, cut red tape and burnish the program’s image, with a special effort to enroll the working poor. These changes, combined with soaring unemployment, have pushed enrollment to record highs, with one in eight Americans now getting aid.

“I’ve seen a remarkable shift,” said Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican and prominent food stamp supporter. “People now see that it’s necessary to have a strong food stamp program.”

EnCana Profit Declines Less Than Analysts Estimated

(Bloomberg) -- EnCana Corp., Canada’s largest natural-gas producer, posted a smaller decline in fourth-quarter profit than analysts predicted and said it’s already pumping as much fuel as it forecast for 2010 without restarting all the wells the company idled because of low prices.

Statoil trims output growth goal due weak gas

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil posted a bigger than expected drop in fourth-quarter operating profit on Thursday and trimmed its oil and gas production growth target due to weakness in natural gas markets.

Hit by lower gas prices compared to a year ago, adjusted operating profit slumped to 34.4 billion Norwegian crowns ($5.84 billion) in October-December from 43.4 billion a year earlier.

Venezuela Seeks God's Help Amid Energy Crisis

A state-run power company is urging its employees to seek divine intervention to help Venezuela resolve severe electricity shortages that prompted President Hugo Chavez to declare an energy emergency.

Government re-launches measures to secure energy supply

Following a decree declaring electricity emergency in Venezuela and the implementation of corrective measures to ease energy crisis, the Venezuelan government now has announced for four months several measures to solve the power deficit, but it has not achieved the expected results.

Pemex May Produce 2.3 Million Barrels a Day, S&P Says

Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, may pump 2.3 million barrels of oil a day this year, Standard & Poor’s analyst Jose Coballasi said.

“This reflects a dose of reality that in general Pemex has had to lower its forecasts in previous years,” Coballasi said today at an event in Mexico City. S&P’s crude forecast would represent an 11.6 percent decline from 2009, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Nigeria: Fuel Scarcity - AP Orders 10 Cargoes of Petrol

Lagos — Indigenous petroleum products marketer, African Petroleum (AP), has become the firms major marketing firm in the country to announce huge import of petrol after government wiped off its debt to private importers under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF).

Petroleum products marketers in the country had blamed fuel import failures and internal supply crisis on protracted indebtedness of government to the marketers whose margins, they claimed, were trapped in Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) which administers the (PSF).

Govt expects Coal shortage to touch 15% by 2012

The coal shortage in India is likely to touch 15 per cent to 81 million tonnes (mt) by the end of the current Plan period ending March 2012, according to the government’s latest estimate.

Saudi Aramco: Energy Ties with Japan Grow Stronger

The FINANCIAL -- The relationship between Saudi Aramco and Japan benefits both and is growing more multifaceted, Mohammed A. Al-Omair, executive director of Refining and NGL Fractionation, said Jan. 27 at the 28th International Symposium of JCCP (Japan Cooperation Center Petroleum).

Diesel kept on tankers in Asia at unusually high vol

SINGAPORE/DUBAI (Reuters) - Gas oil stored on tankers in Asia has swelled to unprecedented volumes of at least 14 million barrels and could rise further as weak global demand persists, prompting traders to turn to this region for support.

The volumes, which are enough to meet 16 percent of global daily oil demand, come as the current East-West arbitrage economics was not viable, even as Western distillate supplies are gradually drawn down during the cold winter.

Iraq on road to stamping out oil graft

Iraq took a step towards leaving its reputation for corruption and the misuse of oil cash behind today, as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board accepted its bid to become a candidate member.

Warrant details stun bombing suspect

Wiebo Ludwig, the man arrested and released last month in connection with bombings against EnCana gas pipelines in B.C., says he can't believe how many offences were attributed to him in a warrant that allowed police to search his property.

"I felt like a pincushion," he told CBC News on Wednesday. "Everything was attached to me. I couldn't believe how much I was responsible for as far as they were concerned, even when it didn't relate to me in the wildest of ways."

The Next Crisis: Prepare for Peak Oil

Against the gloomy economic backdrop that Europe currently provides, siren voices shrieking that a potential energy crisis is imminent and could be worse than the credit crunch are liable to be dismissed as scaremongers. Since they are led by Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin group runs an energy-guzzling airline, and include Brian Souter, who runs Stagecoach, another energy-hungry transport business, they are also at risk of being seen as self-interested scaremongers.

But the work of the Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security shouldn't be disparagingly dismissed. Its arguments are well founded and lead it to the conclusion that, while the global downturn may have delayed it by a couple of years, peak oil—the point at which global production reaches its maximum—is no more than five years away. Governments and corporations need to use the intervening years to speed up the development of and move toward other energy sources and increased energy efficiency.

The Oil 'Crunch' Nears

Where their argument stands out is in the timeline for when the crunch will start to destabilize the economy, politics and society in general: as early as 2015. According to the research, carried out by consultaning firm Arup, oil production levels will grow from the current 85 million barrels per day to peak at 95 million in about five years. Production won't increase beyond that because of extraction difficulties and soaring demand from emerging markets.

'Britain should prepare itself for an imminent oil price shock'

Peak oil prices are an imminent risk to the stability of the British economy and the standard of living of its most vulnerable members, an industry taskforce warned yesterday.

Despite the extra two years' grace thanks to the recession, the rising cost of oil will affect every aspect of British lives within five years, warned the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security, which includes Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, the transport giant Stagecoach and the engineering consultancy Arup among its members. Travel, food, heating and retail costs are particularly exposed.

"Oil remains the building block of economic life and the UK is very vulnerable to big price rises in the future," Sir Richard said.

Oil crunch 'just five years away'

Business leaders, including Sir Richard Branson, have criticised ministers for not doing enough to avoid a potential oil crunch and are calling on the next government to take action.

"Governments need to urgently, urgently wake up," insists Sir Richard in an interview with the BBC News website.

Britain 'faces fuel shortages and dearer food by 2015'

THE UK will be hit by an "oil crunch" within five years that will push up food prices and threaten to bring transport grinding to a halt, business leaders have warned.

Oil shortages by 2020 due to Western 'profligacy', says energy boss

Ian Marchant, who heads the £10bn FTSE-100 company, is among a group of corporate leaders warning that the world's demand for oil is on the brink of outstripping industry's ability to produce.

"The West has been far too profligate in its use of oil and the price is going to say: stop it now and start using your oil as a scarce commodity," Mr Marchant said.

You don't need to be a Mad Max survivalist to take 'peak oil' seriously

If you believe in the concept of peak oil, it’s highly possible that you could be a Mad Max survivalist stockpiling tin cans and growing root vegetables – or these days, you might also be the highly respected chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.

The problem with this term is that it covers such a multitude of viewpoints, ranging from extreme, near-nutcase alarmism to those who want to warn that oil is finite and the world should be making plans to wean ourselves off the black stuff sooner rather than later.

Oil exploration costs rocket as risks rise

Despite escalating challenges, the annual rate of discovery of new fields has remained remarkably constant at 15-20 billion barrels, more than enough to compensate for the loss of existing reserves that are declining at between 5 and 15 percent a year.

But the cost of this success is staggering, and unless consumers pay more for oil in future, some analysts think we could face an energy supply crunch within a few years.

"The age of cheap oil has gone and it is not going to come back," said Paul Stevens, senior research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Government in Transition I

All it takes is a snowstorm or two to remind us how dependent we have become on government at all levels.

Sitting at home waiting for the plows should remind the more perceptive among us that we are no longer in the 18th century where nearly every family, equipped with an ax and a rifle, could provide for its own food, safety, shelter, and general well-being without the need for outside help. Today, when the lights go out, we rely on government to rush us to shelter where we are kept warm, fed, and even entertained until the lights come on again.

It is amazing how many among us still don't grasp that we are an interdependent whole, needing many specialized skills and institutions to sustain life. In today's America, only a miniscule percentage has the skills, knowledge, land, and lifestyle to survive without outside help. For most of us, it is the collective, in the form of government, that holds our civilization together - water, sewers, public health, roads, buses, and yes, even snow plows.

Peak Oil Solution: The Simmons Plan

You remember the Pickens Plan, right? T. Boone Pickens' ill-fated attempt to change the face of the U.S. energy industry by building wind turbines across the midwest and using compressed natural gas to power a new generation of cars.

Well get ready for the Simmons Plan. This iteration has been hatched by Houston investment banker and Peak Oil worrywort Matt Simmons. The gist: 1. build the world's biggest windfarm off the windy coast of Maine. 2. Use the electricity generated to desalinate and de-ionize sea water. 3. Use that water, plus electricity and air, to manufacture ammonia. 4. Pipe the ammonia to shore and use it to power a new generation of cars.

Global oil demand growth revised up for 2010 - IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - Global oil demand will grow by 120,000 barrels per day more than previously expected in 2010 to average 86.5 million barrels per day, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday, but all growth will come from emerging markets.

The Paris-based adviser to 28 industrialised economies added that demand would grow by 1.6 million bpd in 2010 after falling by 1.3 million bpd last year. It raised its forecast of the need for OPEC oil this year by 300,000 bpd.

The monthly report indicates demand from industrialised nations could have peaked.

Iraq Raises Oil Prices to U.S., Curbs Them for Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq raised the official selling prices for crude delivered to the U.S. and lowered them for Europe, the Oil Ministry’s marketing department said today.

The March price for Basrah Light oil for delivery to the U.S. rose by 80 cents to a discount of $4.35 below West Texas Intermediate crude, according to a statement from the ministry. The price for Europe declined by 20 cents to a $1.70 discount to Dated Brent, while the Asia price fell to a 45-cent discount to the average of Oman and Dubai oil prices.

China Economy Will Slow, Hurt Commodities, Faber Says

(Bloomberg) -- China’s economy will slow down “meaningfully” and may even be at risk of a “crash” because of the nation’s excess capacity and as loan growth slows, investor Marc Faber said.

ANALYSIS - China silence signals softening on Iran sanctions

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's silence sometimes speaks volumes, and with growing international momentum for new sanctions on Iran, Beijing's recent reticence suggests it may give ground if it can insulate its oil and business ties.

Iran Urges Russia to Keep ‘Strategic’ Link, Set Oil Price Floor

(Bloomberg) -- Iran, facing tougher sanctions over its nuclear program, urged Russia to remain its “strategic” partner and work together to boost oil prices.

“We see our relations as strategic and expect the same from Russia,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, according to a transcript of an interview he gave to Russian magazine VIP- Premier, which was confirmed by the Iranian Embassy in Moscow. “We don’t plan to relinquish our relations with Russia to benefit the West.”

Ahmadinejad warns Israel against any military move

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be resisted and finished off if it launched military action in the region, state broadcaster IRIB reported on Thursday.

Low oil prices: A tool to control Iran

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A desire to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear program could keep oil prices low worldwide for the next several months.

The country is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, getting most of its revenue from oil sales, and needs prices near $100 a barrel to adequately sustain its government spending.

With oil prices near $70 a barrel and with its political instability, it may be more willing to enter discussions about its nuclear program which many say is designed to get nuclear weapons.

Tullow to Complete Uganda Talks Soon; Total in Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Tullow Oil Plc expects negotiations to bring in partners to develop Ugandan projects to be completed “swiftly” as Total SA said it was in “advanced talks” with the U.K. explorer.

Tullow is seeking help to develop oil fields in Uganda’s Lake Albert, which require about $5 billion in investment as well as government approval. Uganda wants to avoid any one company dominating its oil industry after Tullow exercised first rights over fields being sold by Heritage Oil Plc, seeing off a challenge from Eni SpA.

Chevron, Repsol, ONGC to Develop Venezuela Fields

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. and Repsol YPF SA will lead development of two $15 billion projects to pump and refine Venezuelan crude after winning the country’s first oil auction since President Hugo Chavez took office 11 years ago.

Renewables Industry Promotes Its Potential

Funds from the $787 billion stimulus package and other federal assistance kept growth in the renewable energy sector strong in 2009, a trend that will probably persist as federal investment continues to pay off over the coming year, industry leaders said in a teleconference Tuesday.

The picture was especially good for the solar industry, which created almost 20,000 new jobs in 2009 while adding 470 megawatts in generating capacity, a record, according to Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. The solar industry could create as many as 45,000 new jobs in 2010 if Congress extends several tax incentives and grant programs set to expire at the end of the year, Mr. Resch said.

Electric bikes face long road in U.S.

Already, electric bikes have gained mass acceptance in China, where 22 million are expected to sell this year, and are taking off quickly in Europe. In the U.S., they are still struggling to gain ground. But a growing number of analysts say the next few years could determine whether these bikes become a part of the U.S. cycling landscape or remain a novelty.

Advocates Want Recycled Energy Listed as 'Renewable'

CHARLESTON -- Advocates of "recycled energy" want the energy source reclassified as renewable energy under state law, arguing that such a move would spur investment in the technology.

Recycled energy, or "gray energy," is the process in which waste heat generated during the manufacturing process is captured and used to generate energy that is then fed back into the system. Advocates say such systems substantially reduce a plant's power demands and cut electricity bills and the facility's environmental impact.

John Michael Greer: Becoming a Third World Nation

In the course of writing last week’s Archdruid Report post, I belatedly realized that there’s a very simple way to talk about the scope of the brutal economic contraction now sweeping through American society – a way, furthermore, that might just be able to sidestep both the obsessive belief in progress and the equally obsessive fascination with apocalyptic fantasy that, between them, make up much of what passes for thinking about the future these days. It’s to point out that, over the next decade or so, the United States is going to finish the process of becoming a Third World country.


It’s not our cities that are in big trouble: what will fill the empty homes and lots of suburban America?

Could chicken manure help curb climate change?

WARDENSVILLE, W.Va. — Here's a low-cost solution to global warming: chicken manure.

At Josh Frye's poultry farm in West Virginia, the chicken waste is fed into a large, experimental incinerating machine. Out comes a charcoal-like substance known as "biochar" — which is not only an excellent fertilizer, but also helps keep carbon in the soil instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas.

Animals Cope With Climate Change at the Dinner Table: Birds, Foxes and Small Mammals Adapt Their Diets to Global Warming

Changes are happening primarily in higher latitudes, where Prof. Yom-Tov has identified a pattern of birds getting smaller and mammals getting bigger, according to most of the species he's examined. The change, he hypothesizes, is likely a strategy for survival. Prof. Yom-Tov, who has spent decades measuring and monitoring the body sizes of mammals and small birds, says that these changes have been happening more rapidly.

'I’ve never said the quotation seized on by climate-change sceptics across the globe'

A QUOTE attributed to one of Wales’ leading scientists and used extensively by climate change sceptics was fabricated, it was claimed last night.

Sir John Houghton, who played a critical role in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), denies ever saying the words: “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”

Alternative futures of a warming world

An international team of climate scientists will take a new approach to modeling the Earth's climate future, according to a paper in 11 February Nature. The next set of models will include, for the first time, tightly linked analyses of greenhouse gas emissions, projections of the Earth's climate, impacts of climate change, and human decision-making.

Scientists seek better way to do climate report

In Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, four IPCC authors call for reform, including Christy, who suggests the outright dumping of the panel itself in favor of an effort modeled after Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. A fifth author, writing in Nature, argues the IPCC rules are fine but need to be better enforced.

I put a separate post up for comments on the first article, "The Next Crisis: Prepare for Peak Oil".

RE: "the annual rate of discovery of new fields has remained remarkably constant at 15-20 billion barrels, more than enough to compensate for the loss of existing reserves that are declining at between 5 and 15 percent a year."

Once again we have to deal with folks who confuse reserves in the ground (even if the estimate is correct) and potential production rates. As long as the MSM repeats (intentionally or otherwise) such disinformation it will remain difficult to get the public to accept PO.

Hey, at least it's better than the "49 billion barrels per year in 1970" that we saw yesterday. Calling yourself an expert than making a mistake like that. Laughable if our future wasn't in the balance.

Right Rockman, though I do not believe for one minute we are finding that much oil each year. That being said however most people simply don't realize that depletion and decline rate are two entirely different things. Existing fields may be declining at a rate of between 5 and 15 percent but the depletion rate is about 30 million barrels per year, or exactly equal to production. That is, every barrel produced means one less barrel that can be produced in the future.

If you pump a million barrels, or a billion barrels, from a given reservoir then that much less oil than before you started pumping. The reservoir has been depleted by the exact amount of oil you pumped from it. However if the rate of production from that field is dropping by 50 thousand barrels per year then they must produce 50 thousand barrels per year from some new field just to stay even. The size of the new reservoir discovered is an entirely different subject.

But this is not rocket science so why do so many people misunderstand something so obvious? Like the link "Running into oil" posted yesterday where the guy got "million barrels per day" and "billion barrels of reserves" confused. He divided barrels per day into the estimated reserves and concluded that if we believed those figures then we, at that time, had only 10 years of reserves left, implying that estimated reserves are totally useless.

My point is that if a person is going to deny peak oil and play the expert, then why do they make so many really, really stupid mistakes?

Ron P.

Edit: Sorry Daxtatter, I was typing my post while you were posting yours. Looks like we are on the same page however. If a guy claims to be an expert then why is he saying so many really stupid things?

It's a good thing you did a quick edit there Darwinian! It's very easy to mistake millions for billions! - as I just saw.

edit: actually your error is still there. :-)

Yea the world depletion rate is about 30 billion barrels per year. But it doesn't matter. I am sure there are areas that are being depleted by 30 million barrels per year. The same principle applies... a barrel pumped out means that the reservoir is depleted by one barrel.

Ron P.

To quote somebody else:

"My point is that if a person is going to ..... play the expert, then why do they make so many really, really stupid mistakes?"

My experience is that humans make mistakes, it's normal.
Also my experience is that people deliberately lie if they think they won't be found out.
But most important of all, my experience is that so called experts know almost everything about almost nothing.

This Reuters guy Christopher Johnson has been edited by a Sue Thomas, my guess is that as journalists they know almost nothing about almost everything, the blind leading the blind.

Most of today's so called "Journalists" aren't journalists in the true sense. Few have the motivation to do good research and fact checking, and there is rarely any qualified review of content done. An editor may check grammer and approve the message, but ultimatly these are just sales people.

Most of today's so called "Journalists" aren't journalists in the true sense.

'twernt much back in the day.

John Swinton in 1880, then the preeminent New York journalist, probably one night in during that same year.

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)

Same as it ever was....

I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

Eric, that is also what I read a few years ago. Most journalist are just send to a place to come back with a story that is asked for. Sounds familiar regarding PO news in the MSM, isn't it ?

It makes one wonder if the few honest articles written by some journalists are the ones that can be read on Matt Savinar's 'breaking news' site. If that is true, the economy is far worse than painted on t.v. and radio.

If that is true, the economy is far worse than painted on t.v. and radio.

There are people who think that the events of 9/11 were used as a distraction to the bad economic news of the early days of the Bush term. You might also remember members of the 'leadership class' telling everyone to go shopping.

If one thinks the Austrian school of economics is correct - "bad economic news" has been going on for nearly 100 years - inflation of the money supply being a silent thief et la.


the world depletion rate is about 30 billion barrels per year.

Actually, at 72 mpbd of crude, it is just over 26 Bbpy. Total liquids is about 30. And, the new fields are being discovered more in the 10 to 15 BBl range, so that we are using it up at least twice as fast as we are 'discovering' it. And, consider that the new rules for reporting reserves are not very 'tight.' So, we see very deep oil and oil sands being touted as the answer to our problem, where the volumes are suspect and recoverability is questionable. Oil sands, even if quite large, are slow to relinquish their oil. It takes much energy to extract the oil from the sand, and even more to mine the sand. As the top layers are excavated, the lower will be likely to contain less oil per volume of sand, and to be more expensive to mine.

And then there is the environmental damage being done. Have you ever seen the machines used in this process. Grotesqjue! They are strip mining huge areas!


Actually, at 72 mpbd of crude, it is just over 26 Bbpy. Total liquids is about 39.

Zap, your crude + condensate figures are pretty close. In 2008, according to the EIA, the world produced 26.98 billion barrels of C+C. Using data through October 2009 we are on track to produce 26.32 billion barrels of C+C in 2009.

However your figures for total liquids are way off. Again, according to the EIA, the world produced 31.25 billion barrels of total liquids in 2008. Using data through October 2009 we are on track to produce 30.65 billion barrels of total liquids in 2009.

That is why most people just round it off to 30 billion barrels per year. I hate using all liquids when I think C+C is a far better measure for actual oil used. However the entire world uses all liquids and I am forced by convention to use all liquids myself on a few occasions.

Ron P.

Oops... hit the "9" key by mistake! I corrected it! And, we are on the same page, esp about use of "all liquids." These include liquids added at the refineries! How stupid is that?


There is no oil in the "oil sands", only bitumen. That is why they were/are more accurately described as tar sands. But in the great game of disinforming the public they are labelled as oil sands.

Disinformation is the main tool of those who would halt democratization. I should say, who have halted democratization. Blessed by God, our socio-econo-politico leaders know that our best interests can only be served if we are ignorant and docile.

Repeat after me, the rich are rich because they are better than us.

Happily, in the hereafter the Kingdom of God is set up as a socialist paradise, wherein the poor have inherited the good stuff.

There is no oil in the "oil sands", only bitumen. That is why they were/are more accurately described as tar sands. But in the great game of disinforming the public they are labelled as oil sands.

Bitumen is merely "oil that will not flow toward a well under reservoir conditions". Change the reservoir conditions by injecting steam and/or solvents and it will flow toward a well. An oil refinery can be modified to process bitumen by adding hydrogen and/or removing carbon, but the end results are gasoline and diesel fuel. About 6% of the gasoline and diesel fuel in the US are now produced from bitumen, and the proportion is rising rapidly. Sources of conventional oil are falling just as fast.

Tar is chemically different and is the result of destructive distillation of organic material. It can't be refined to produce fuel. The "tar" sand do not contain tar, they contain extremely viscous oil.

The tar sands were not for many years known officially as 'tar sands' because they contained tar, but because the bitumen/clay/sand mix was 'tarlike'.

Renaming the tar sands was a manipulative exercise intended to change the public perception of the costs and benefits of extracting the bitumen before upgrading it into a commercially more valuable product.

The last thing that the beneficiaries of tar sands development want is for the public to understand that the process of extracting and processing bitument is so qualitatively different from exploiting Jed Clampetts bubbling crude that the opportunity costs associated with the investment in this process renders it, to put it kindly, a non-optimal use of capital.

The return on investment in efficient buildings and efficient transportation of people and goods would drown the so-called economic benefits of tar pit development, especially if it is accompanied by a shift to a post-industrial, non clock-determined way of life. But shhh. We don't want the public to begin to think in these terms and to subsequently demand different actions from the market designers in government, do we.

The Alberta government is now projecting its largest budget deficit ever. It sees a path out of deficit built upon a return to higher total rents for the exploitation of the provinces hydrocarbons. Dream on. Royalties and the other ways in which rent are collected are ultimately dependent on profit and in the hydrocarbon business, profit is obtained from net energy. That is why conventional gas was the mainstay of the so-called Alberta advantage in recent times, with conventional oil playing a strong supporting role. In the end, there is not enough net energy in the tar sands to allow Alberta its current lifestyle. Good-bye Alberta advantage. Hello provincial sales tax.

Tar sands development is economically and environmentally disastrous for all but a tiny, tiny group of selfish people.

They were originally known as "bituminous sands" because that's what they are. They were rebranded "oil sands" by the Alberta government for marketing reasons, but it never liked the term "tar sands".

The name "tar sands" came by analogy with the tar produced as a by-product of coal gas manufacturing in some major cities in the late 1800s - early 1900s. It produced large amounts of genuine tar which was dumped in pits and is still something of an environmental nightmare wherever it was done. That was never the case in Alberta, which always used natural gas instead of coal gas.

Despite what you say, processing bitumen is not qualitatively different than processing heavy oil. Separating the bitumen from the sand is something of a struggle, but once that is done, refining it just involves upgrading the front-end of a heavy oil refinery to handle a heavier grade of oil.

The Alberta government is now projecting its largest budget deficit ever. It sees a path out of deficit built upon a return to higher total rents for the exploitation of the provinces hydrocarbons.

Their revenues from oil sands is now the Alberta government's largest source of revenue. Oil sands are expected to put $1.8-billion into provincial coffers this fiscal year, and will grow to $5.1-billion by 2012-2013. This is because the royalties rates are only 1% until the production facilities pay out their construction costs, and then rise to 25% after payout. A lot of the production facilities are close to being paid for.

And why are all the stupid mistakes slanted toward doing nothing?

An equally terse observation is that 20Bbbl/year finds is significantly less than 30Bbbl/year consumed. Even the most simplistic data says we're going to be in trouble before long. At none of the above even considered the net energy of the hard-to-extract small, off-shore new oil versus the easy-to-pump super-giant on-shore fields.

Pal, it is just that nothing is so easy to do.

How can anyone say, "we are discovering 15-20" and using 30, and say that is the same? That is wierd!

Like I said yesterday, hope springs eternal. It is just that eternity is such a long time!


Yes indeed Ron. Every day I'm torn between deciding if the MSM is just too stupid to relay vital information to the public or willfully doing so. If it's intentional then perhaps one day the situation will allow them to start really educating folks. OTOH, if it just an indication of their real comprehension then we are screwed. As Ron White likes to say:"You just can't fix stupid".

If it's intentional then perhaps one day the situation will allow them to start really educating folks. OTOH, if it just an indication of their real comprehension then we are screwed. As Ron White likes to say:"You just can't fix stupid".

Actually I intrepret it the other way round. If it is just supid, it can be corrected by either education or replacement with competant people. But if it is intentional because the powers taht be that matter to the MSM (the owners, and controllers of the advertising revenues) want it that way, then we are screwed -at least until they are overthrown by the revolution.

Actually I intrepret it the other way round. If it is just supid, it can be corrected by either education or replacement with competant people.

Well, I hate to nitpick but you are confusing stupid with ignorance. Ignorance can be fixed, stupid cannot be fixed.

From Dictionary.com

stu⋅pid  /ˈstupɪd, –adjective
1. lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.
2. characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless: a stupid question.

Ron P.

But this is not rocket science so why do so many people misunderstand something so obvious?

This is the question. Some possibilities come to mind:

1. Willful ignorance. Why do so many people continue to believe that some monkey gave birth to some human being somewhere, thereby revealing their complete ignorance of Darwinian theory? No matter how carefully people like Dawkins explain it, they continually think humans come from monkeys. Why? Because they have to deny the truth, and one way of denying the truth is to misrepresent it.

2. Blind spot. Albert Bartlett showed us innumerate folks how easy--and appalling--the mathematics of doubling times is. Yet we continually create elaborate intellectual subterfuges around the basic principles that guide--and deride--us. It's "not rocket science," yet we default toward incorrect thinking. "Sure we can farm sustainably! Just grow the population ORGANICALLY!"

3. Propaganda. The least savory, as it snuggles too close to conspiracy theory, but corporate editors ARE in control of the information flow. They massage the message. I fail continually at mind-reading, so their reasons for stomping out the flames of truth elude me--because the truth always outs (too late).

4. Maybe people are just stupid. Or "retarded," as the current fad demands.

But this is not rocket science so why do so many people misunderstand something so obvious?

Because many 'experts' don't get it with the parameter velocity. Where speed is also an important factor: look at a football game and watch how many mistakes the linesmen make with the offside rule, even at the highest level.

Apart from the possibilities posted by mikeB

I've always thought the offside rule makes no sense: nobody can look at two different places at the same time.

Jussi, it makes sense if one team can use the challenge possibility like in tennis.
You cannot look at two different places, but an experienced eye can switch very fast. Many times however you will see the flag raising a few tenths of a second after the ball is kicked. That is way too late. Besides, there is the 'trick' to look at 'the front' of the play and to listen when the ball is kicked.

The linesman is supposed to be looking at the 2nd to last defender and listen for the sound of the soccer ball being stuck.

"If a guy claims to be an expert then why is he saying so many really stupid things?"

Influence. You're a victim of it, too, giving in to the authority behind statements claiming that he's an expert. The evidence is obviously that he's not an expert, yet we continue to harp on his stupidity.

No, we're the stupid ones for giving any further credence to his claim that he's an expert.

And why is he saying so many things that are contradicted by so much common experience, facts, evidence, and scientific exploration? He also was emotionally influenced.

We all like to think we're all rational and evolved, but mountains of evidence stand ignored to the contrary. We like to think we parse and analyze the world, but we don't, we parse and analyze what other people tell us about the world.

This is the basis behind the "no spoon" scene in The Matrix. "Do not try and bend the spoon, that's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you will see it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself." And all of this is almost literally true.

In a real sense, there is no "spoon" in front of you, only a thing which you have been told (influenced) is a spoon and which you have been shown (influenced) is only used for spoon-like things. But this thing is something which you can make do whatever you can make it do, once you bend your worldview of what that thing is.

Once that happens, this thing is no longer a "spoon" but a paperweight, weapon, doorstop, heroin cooker, musical instrument, or body art (hanging it off your nose).

And the spoon didn't bend, we did.

So, there is no expert. And don't try to bend him, that's impossible. Instead, recognize that there is no expert in front of you, and then bend yourself.

It's not just confusing reserves and flow rates. The assertion is completely wrong. We do not find 15-20 Gb oil of new oil each year, and we are using about 30 Gb, so 20 is not sufficient anyway.

I had an IHS pdf bookmarked regarding discoveries, but the link is kaput. They've published various interesting charts over the years, which curiously contradict the happy talk coming out of CERA. Here's another one from 2006:


Unlike other charts this one labels the monster fields which sent the discovery rate through the roof for a particular time period, a handy feature. From this NPC PDF.

PaulusP, he thinks: 5-15% decline from 30Gb is 1,5-4,5 Gb, so 15-20 Gb is more than enough. Not understanding or ignoring the difference between the two parameters reserves and flow rates.

A very good commentary by John Michael Greer today. Among other bits of nourishment for the noggin:

"The US has the world’s most expensive military because, just now, it has the world’s largest empire. Now of course it’s not polite to talk about that in precisely those terms, but let’s be frank – the US does not keep its troops garrisoned in more than a hundred countries around the world for the sake of their health, you know. That empire functions, as empires always do, as a way of tilting the economic relationships between nations in a way that pumps wealth out of the rest of the world and into the coffers of the imperial nation.


"As it is, it cannot have escaped the attention of any other nation on the planet that something like a quarter of the world’s dwindling resource production could be made available for other countries, if only the United States were to lose the ability to purchase energy and other resources from outside its own borders. It’s not hard to think of nations that would be in a position to profit mightily from such a readjustment, and nothing so unseemly as a global war would necessarily be required to make it happen; to name only one possibility, it’s by no means unthinkable that the United States, having manufactured “color revolutions” to order in countries around the world, might turn out to be vulnerable to the same sort of well-organized mob action here at home."

Toilforoil - I find it interesting that in the first paragraph you quote he speaks of total global dominance that is the PENTAGON, then in the second paragraph he implies that the Pentagon will roll over, step aside, and toss in the towel.

This is the same mistake that many future scenarios include, particularly the financial based predictions.

Yes. I think this is something many of the "Powerdown" contingent ignores or downplays.

I'm looking forward to next week's essay; E.F. Schumacher sounds pretty interesting.

But I think Tainter has it right. Even if everyone knows we'd be better off simplifying, it is simply not possible as long as we're in conflict with other complex societies.

Oh that E.F. Schumacher.

"Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered"

That does sound interesting.

Leanan, again, I'm not suggesting that the US will deliberately simplify. I'm suggesting that the process of economic disintegration will do it for us. Tainter suggests, as I recall, that one power in a multipolar system can't collapse totally, and of course he's right -- but there can certainly be drastic shifts in the relative power and wealth of the different members of a multipolar system, and that's what I'm suggesting here. The mutual collapse of the whole system is further down the road.

John, your definition of what made a country "Third World" really took me by surprise. My cliched perception of third world revolved around dirt roads, street beggars, hungry farmers, and oppressive heat.

Still trying to absorb this new perspective. Not very happy about what it may mean for the USA my kids and grandkids live in later, but thanks for sharing the insight.

Taking some consolation in the thought that many third world nations do manage to rank high on the Happiness Index /;-)

Coincidentally, just yesterday I told the rest of TOD staff, "I now think the most likely outcome is that the 'western' nations will slowly turn into third world countries. With no one making any connection to peak oil."

Leanan, that seems very plausible to me. I'm not at all sure how slow that transformation will be here in the US; elsewhere, the pace may be different, of course.

Greg, I think we'll see plenty of all the things you've named also. Though oppressive heat sounds pretty pleasant here in the Allegheny Mountains just now!

Yeah, I get that. I was referring more to your last paragraph. IMO, we won't have the energy or resources to devote to setting up new economic systems. As Tainter said..."scanning behavior" will disappear.

Leanan, by "setting up new economic systems" I certainly don't mean anything like the scale and complexity of what's in place today. What Schumacher offers, in our present situation, is a way of making the best of a very messy situation, and doing it on the cheap, locally, and with whatever haphazard set of resources we happen to have available. More on that in next week's post!

e.e - You do not seem to reading the same article as I. He does not speak of total global dominance, but of the largest empire. And, frankly, I doubt that Greer perceives the projection of American power as an exercise limited to the Pentagon, or even to the Pentagon in combination with other state agencies such as the State Department, the CIA, etc. Never underestimate the private sector.

With whom do you expect the Pentagon to make war? China? India? Both of the these are a long way from the most recent success of the Pentagon in Grenada. While I don't doubt that there are military bureaucrats who actually enjoy watching shock and awe shows from afar, my impression is that most military types are keen on avoiding conflict.

Greer is speculating on a 'color revolution' coming to the US, perhaps financed by somebody else's hidden ops budget.
We might wonder in a post- colour revolution period, with whom will the Pentagon be in conflict: an enemy abroad, or, for example, a triumphant Palinite/Limbaugh led domestic 'color revolution'.

In any case, my own view is that common folk everywhere have to be concerned with the collateral damage inflicted by the currently largest empire as it writhes in the throes of a painful death.

Perhaps I should have said the Military Industrial Complex but believe that the two are nearly interchangeable.

"...pumps wealth out of the rest of the world..." SOunds like world domination to me. and that doesn't even take into consideration our export of financial products.

I seriously doubt Americans can organize to same degree as a "color revolution" (without the help of the CIA that is). I rather expect a cyber terrorist attack pretty soon that will allow restrictions on the net be implemented to keep the possibility of such organization down to a minimum.

Not sure if the MIC would overtly attack the citizens of US though.

Enigma, you seem to have missed one of the central points of the essay, which is that empires fall because the cost of maintaining them outruns the benefits they produce. (Tainter's principle of diminishing returns is relevant here.) A hundred years ago, you might just as well have insisted that the British Empire's "total dominance" made it impossible for the sun to set on it -- and that would have seemed very plausible at the time.

The Pentagon, and the increasingly cumbersome and costly empire it supports, won't "throw in the towel" -- it will go broke. Along with the rest of the US. Whose debt, according to a recent Credit Suisse report, now ranks as less secure than that of Kazakhstan, by the way.


Good essay, as usual. You might have also mentioned here or elsewhere that while "empires" (what they actually are, regardless of whatever they do or don't call themselves to obfuscate that reality) seldom just collapse and disappear overnight (although a few have), they do tend to suffer a rather sudden setback, or maybe a succession of them. To return to the British example, first WWI and then WWII were the "black swans" that were unpredictable less than a decade earlier, but ended up being the "one-two punch" that actually brought their empire down, far sooner and far quicker than anyone would have anticipated. (Remember, Churchill was still talking about the empire possibly lasting as long as another 1000 years as late as 1940 in his "We shall fight them on the beaches, etc." speech.) Similarly, nobody in Spain even as late as 1800 would have thought that their empire in the Americas would be entirely gone (except for Cuba and Puerto Rico) in little more than a couple of decades. The Athenians thought that their empire would go on and on as well, right up until the sudden shock of that little misadventure in Sicily. Spain, of course, continued to exist, and continued to hold on to a few bits of empire for quite a while longer, as Britain still does today; Athens also continued to exist for centuries thereafter, though only as a shadow of its former self. The US will quite possibly continue on for quite a while after the big, unexpected setback results in our being shorn of much of our "empire" (which is much more Athenian-commercial/cultural than Roman/Spanish/British-territorial in actual style and substance).

Thus, the pattern we are likely to see in the future is neither steady smooth curve decline or sudden over the cliff crash, but rather episodes of decline punctuated by a series of sudden and unexpected shocks that knock us down quite a ways, very quickly.

But then the military budget, excluding costs in Iraq and Afghanistan (~$100 billion) comes out to about $700 billion, or about %5 of GDP. While healthcare is ~16% and growing of GDP. While 5% is higher than most western countries (which is likely because they know we will usually take care of their military problems) and significantly higher than the ~3-3.5% during the Clinton years, it is low by cold war standards. If we have a financial downfall it'll be because of healthcare costs, not military spending.

Observer, that's certainly possible. Another example might be Russia, which lost nearly all of its empire in a very short time, but has managed to claw its way back to stability and exercise a certain amount of influence on its "near abroad" when, not too many years ago, it looked likely to go under completely.

Still -- and especially if Tom Whipple's right and the US is paying its debts by borrowing money from itself -- it seems likely to me that we could be facing a very harrowing time here over the next decade or so.

It could very well be argued that the first "black swan" shock to hit the US was 9/11. There never has been a truly proper accounting done of the total cumulative hit that the US economy took from that. I felt at the time that when all the indirect consequences were considered it would total in the trillions, or effectively a permanent 1% or so reduction in GDP. When you figure in the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascos and all the homeland security and private sector security measures, etc., that has proven to be pretty much the case. Nobody has ever come out and said this, although Stiglitz, to his credit, did try to do so at least wrt Iraq.

The truth of the matter is that things were never again the same in the US after 9/11 (in spite of stupid George's attempts to make people pretend that they were), and I suspect that the roots of the present economic crisis can be traced at least in part to 9/11 and its aftermath. The stagnation of the middle class throughout the past decade, instead of experiencing a genuine recovery, can certainly be traced substantially to 9/11. Our adventures in the Middle East have not been a sign of an empire at the height of its power, acting with impunity, but rather of one on the ropes, forced to overstretch itself and involve itself in places where it would be more prudent to avoid.

So that was the first big shock, and this present downturn was the 2nd. More to come.

The effects of 9-11, have gone beyond the financial in ways that I feel do qualify it as a Black Swan event. Our nations response has changed the way we see ourselves in some very fundamental ways, as well as how we are viewed from abroad. I feel that this event has resulted in severe changes in whatever global perceptions were of our ideals and motivations. I have observed an increase in corporate control of media and the political process. And, as in the Patriot Act, this event was the catalyst for an assualt on our personal freedoms and the will/ability to hold our perpetrating leaders accountable. Case in point, an email I recieved this week:

The IndictBushNow movement has captured the imagination and support of hundreds of thousands of people.

This is a grassroots movement and it is a classic example of the people acting together to defend democracy and the Constitution from government law-breakers.

We are writing you today because the struggle for government accountability has entered a new phase. This movement needs your active participation.

Powerful corporate forces who have bowed in the past to pressure from the Bush-Cheney gang are now trying to block this movement from getting our message out.

IndictBushNow had spent weeks communicating with CBS representatives for the launch in Washington, D.C., for our wrap-around bus ads that read: "TORTURE is not just wrong ... it is ILLEGAL. Because NO ONE is above the law," followed by our organization's website address.

But now, CBS officials have suddenly changed their tune. In a communication we have just received from CBS Outdoor (which has the contract for the placement of bus ads in the nation's capital), the advertising media giant rejected our bus ad, suddenly claiming it constituted "attack advertisement."


Concept Photo

The consequences of our response to 9-11 run much deeper than the financial, as does how we are perceived in the world. How can we represent ourselves as "The Land of the Free" and an example of what other nations should aspire to when we so readily surrender our principles for the sake of "security"?

Black swan, indeed.

It could very well be argued that the first "black swan" shock to hit the US was 9/11. There never has been a truly proper accounting done of the total cumulative hit that the US economy took from that.

Proper accounting? If the Government had to follow the same accounting rules as private industry....Anyone remember Sept 10th 2001? When the pentagon announced they didn't know where 2 trillion+ was? Part of that was a lack of double entry accounting as I remember it having been reported.

Though the "empire" collapsed rapidly, things didn't change that fast for the people at home. That is, the UK didn't really become a third world country (despite American expatriates' jokes along those lines). Of course, it might not play out that way this time.

I've lived in so-called "developing nations," and to me, the defining element is massively skewed wealth distribution. There's plenty of wealth, but not much of a middle class. There's a lot of really rich people, and a whole heck of a lot of incredibly poor people.

I could foresee a future where the wealthy live in gated compounds with their wind turbines and solar panels...surrounded by slums where the rest of us live.

That, unfortunately, is very likely to be exactly the case.

From this column, complaining about Valentine's Day:

It's a day when your favorite restaurant, smelling blood in the water, replaces its regular menu with a four-course feast that would bankrupt less affluent nations like Sierra Leone, Eritrea and the United States.

"A hundred years ago, you might just as well have insisted that the British Empire's "total dominance" made it impossible for the sun to set on it -- and that would have seemed very plausible at the time."

I don't think that that is an accurate analogy.

The way in which I believe that "this time it's different" is that, in addition to imperial force, we are also the global peace keepers (police) and the rest of the world has to, and indeed IS paying for that service. This is above and beyond labor and resources extracted, I am talking about paying for or subsidizing military bases and what they consume.

I can see this increasing dramatically all the way to ....gasp!...extortion...can you imagine?

There is really no comparison of British empire to what the US is today other than very superficially.

Just my thoughts.

we are also the global peace keepers

Hmmmm ... where ? Most of UN peace keeping missions don't have much US personnel.

The way in which I believe that "this time it's different" is that, in addition to imperial force, we are also the global peace keepers (police) and the rest of the world has to, and indeed IS paying for that service.

The British were the world's policemen for several centuries. They smacked down any tyrant who was foolish enough to mess with them, and kept the seas free of pirates. They only gave it up because, as a result of two world wars, they couldn't afford it any more.

The Americans are doing the same now, except for the pirates. They're doing badly on pirate control, probably as a result of an unwillingness to run them down regardless of national boundaries, give them a quick trial at sea, and then hang them from the yard arms (the British solution.)

Nobody is paying the US to crush tyrants and maintain order, mainly because many countries disagree with the American definition of what a "tyrant" is and what "order" is. It's questionable how long the US can afford to maintain its current military force in the current economic conditions.

I'd be careful about that 'crush tyrants' role. The British imposed a Pax Britannia on the world which, on the one hand kept the peace for the locals while, on the other hand, insured that a generous tithe from those locals landed in London. After all, the nineteenth century brought us the Opium wars. You could say that all government is a cross between oppression and peacekeeping. If what the government gives is not worth more than what it takes, it collapses.

I view collapse as a more measured process. More and more people are unemployed. More and more homeless show up at soup kitchens. Roads get unpaved. Square feet of living space per person declines. Oh, sure. There are black swan events along the way and tipping points, but the bulk of the journey down is along wide, gentle slopes. I mark the beginning of the American empire with the sailing of TR’s great white fleet. That said ‘America is here’ to the world. I think we peaked in around the 1970’s. If that was a mid point, our return to pre world significance would be right about 2030. It’s as good a guess as any.


I mark the beginning of the American empire with the sailing of TR’s great white fleet. That said ‘America is here’ to the world. I think we peaked in around the 1970’s. If that was a mid point, our return to pre world significance would be right about 2030. It’s as good a guess as any.

Yeah, that's a pretty good guess. I am assuming that by 2030 or thereabouts, the US will be living just on its own domestic FFs, plus a trickle from Canada, minus some exports of coal. We will be very much of a bankrupt and declining nation. We will have pulled back to a maritime defense perimeter - mid-pacific, mid-atlantic, mid-arctic, and caribbean - which is pretty much where we were around TR's time.

Enigma, as Rocky Mountain Guy pointed out, every descriptor you've used for the American empire was just as true of the British Empire in its day, including the issue of extortion -- which was much discussed in the literature of the time, by the way. A few hours spent with a good history of the 19th century might be a useful investment!

It is tempting to compare the American "empire" to its immediate predecessor, the British. However, caution is advised. They really are very different things, and comparisons only go so far. Personally, I think that in some ways one can find a more relevant comparison to the US "empire" in the Athenian "empire": both were more into assembling a coalition of allies than in occupying a lot of territory, and in extending their power as much by commerce and culture (soft power) as by military and naval prowess.

Somewhat intertwined with all this was an admission by an economist (I think) this morning on CNBC whereby in a discussion of the economy and jobs he stated that they just couldn't identify any mechanism for job growth in the US.

I don't think he meant it this way but it would probably dawn on him if he really thought about it that this is, in effect, admitting that globalization has gotten us well and truly stuck (rock and hard place variety). No American jobs are created through globilization (at least non-finance shenanigan related jobs) and (shocking revelation alert !) without people actually having a source of income the whole thing is reduced to nothing but smoke and mirrors. These analysts try like hell but they just can't quite connect the dots (or are warned not to) but they are running out of ways to simply explain it away.

Our worship of globalization is accelerating our declining "ability to purchase energy and other resources..." and our trajectory toward 3rd world status for the majority of US citizens (consumers).

It was immediately obvious to me when the whole globalization thing got going that when you remove trade barriers that formerly existed between any two nations, the prevailing wage rates in those two nations would converge toward a common mean; do this for the entire world, and the wage rates for the entire world converge toward a global mean. Needless to say, this isn't really good news for most wage earners in high wage nations like the US.

It was also immediately obvious to me that any time you introduce that type of change into an economy, things are going to change, and that you are going to have both winners and losers. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that you would have more, or even the same number, of winners; indeed, it seems to be quite likely and predictable that you would end up with a fortunate well-placed few who would make out like bandits, and the vast majority would end up stagnating or declining. And that, indeed, is exactly what ended up happening.

Funny thing is, nobody mentioned anything about any of this. They still don't. I wonder why? :-(

My view of this phenomenon: "Not everybody can be rich, but everybody can be poor".

On average, we're there already, and each new person decreases the wealth of those here already. Think about it - 200 years ago a few million people "owned" a massive supply of resources -- a king's ransom of wealth -- but not much liquid wealth, or capital. Today, most of the orignal wealth has been converted to waste (sometimes noxious) and various forms of capital goods. And there are maybe 50 times as many people.

We're nowhere near as "well off" as we were before, we've just converted illiquid wealth to short-term cash-flow. We're all poor -- we just don't realize it yet.

Sorry if I'm going to post this on all your recent posts but.....

As a former geneseo alum you might be interested in checking out our environmental group's new blog. The web address is geogeneseo.wordpress.com (GEO as in Geneseo Environmental Organization). I'm trying to give it a little momentum so if you could leave a comment I'd appreciate it.

Daniel Achstatter

Please. Once is enough. Do not spam the thread with multiple copies of the same message.

Also, Catskill has an e-mail address listed. You can e-mail her with this message if it's so important.

Sorry about that. Didn't think about emailing (stupid me)

Dax -

I've been having trouble accessing my e-mail as listed on TOD

Try me here: kaaterskillfalls at yahoo dot com


Meanwhile, Iran let us know what our sanctions mean: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions."

How long do we keep playing these games? How long before our proxy in the Middle East 'decides' to strike against Iranian nuclear sites? And, more importantly, what consequences will flow from an obvious response by Iran?

Perhaps the BAS was a bit too quick in pushing the minute hand back one minute?


I suppose you are referring to the link up top that quotes the leader of Iran; an insane puppet.

I read the article,it's only scary if you step into it believing the official narrative, Iran has a nuke program and wants to kill the world.

Iran does have a nuke program, and it's focus is turning industrial grade u-235 into medical grade u. From memory, that's going from 4% to 20+%, not the 90+% needed to kill the world. I have to say, if I were a paid warmongering hack,I'd tell the US public that all Iran needs to do is combine 4.5 portions of 20% U and pow, it's over. Any bets on what % of the US populace would believe that? (macdonald etitn' bible thumpers) Oh, and let's not bring up a delivery system.

Iran is being told to prove a negative. Just like Iraq.

medical grade U is a real issue for a lot of the world

It is more politics than physics - as Obama says.

ps : Ahmedinejad says tough things to get domestic political mileage. He doesn't have much real power.

BAS can always move the hands forward.

Iran's reaction is less of a problem for the US of A if the world opts to respond by not accepting Fed. Reserve notes as trade - and I worry more about that then what Iran will/will not do.

In other news, call it weather, call it climate, call it whatever you want, the blizzard in the most populated part of the U.S. and the nice cold winters of childhood remembered has set the cause of "global warming" back about 10 years...it is the favored joke around water coolers in offices across the land...this is starting to look more and more like a return to 1977, dija vu all over again...:-)


Unless we have a hot summer. In which case no one will remember this warm but snowy winter any more.

because all climate is local...

(to borrow and modify a phrase)

I think there's a heat wave in South America now.

As Hansen said - the biggest mistake was ever refering to it as "global warming"

"has set the cause of "global warming" back about 10 years"

Actually, not. Climate change is still right on track, as the universe is largely blind and indifferent to our arguing about it.

Well, climate change is a world wide problem. That a small portion of the Earth is experiencing cooler than normal weather does not prove that there is no warming underway. For example, consider what's been happening in Washington State and in Brazil.

Sure, the denialist propaganda machine is churning out lots of crap for the sheeple that don't understand science. As a result, I'm sure that the folks who watch FAUX News think there's no problem. I think we are only beginning to see the real changes because there is a centuries long lag in the time it takes for the oceans to catch up with the atmosphere...

E. Swanson

And the record atmospheric temps higher than almost anything October to March occurring in January

BTW I have lived in E. Wa. for 45 years. The local 'weather' here this winter is off the charts warm. Last year we had a higher than average snowfall not terribly cold. This year almost none some rain. Since Christmas we have been able to safely run and ride our bikes every day. I know weather is not climate but the plots above are a good study and a great format.

Here are the things that happenned in Seattle in the last two years
- Biggest storm on record, no power for a week (2007 Dec)
- Biggest snow storm on record (2008 Dec)
- Hottest date on record (2009 Summer)
- Warmest January on record (2010 Jan)

So, as Climate Change simlulations predict, extreme weather events are increasingly more extreme.

If climate were not changing, it would remain the same.

In 2005 it was -116.5 F in East Antarctica. Not likely ice will disappear from the polar regions soon. It must have been hot somewhere else, like Mexicalli, Mexico and not from the hot peppers.

We are having a global cooling catastrophe this year. The snow is piled so high the garbage trucks cannot get to the dumpsters to remove trash due to huge piles of snow over one's head in places. The snow plow personnel have not seen as much snow since the auto was invented.

The only thing worse than having fossil fuels is having no fossil fuels. I had to fill the gas tank today.

Snow is not a global cooling catastrophe. In fact, heavy snow in the northeast is a predicted result of global warming.

A federal government report issued last year, intended to be the authoritative statement of known climate trends in the United States, pointed to the likelihood of more frequent snowstorms in the Northeast and less frequent snow in the South and Southeast as a result of long-term temperature and precipitation patterns.

Not that a couple of snowstorms means anything either way. Honestly, folks, if you can't tell the difference between weather and climate, refrain from commenting on the climate change issue. It's a waste of bandwidth. Katrina wasn't proof of global warming, and a snow storm isn't proof of global cooling.

Agree with most of the posts above, I am simply referring to a perception issue...which means everything these days. I think the post above alluding to the fact the climate is going to do what it is going to no matter what our perceptions are is spot on...


The NY Times' current "Room for Debate" is about how weather affects the public (mis)understanding of climate change.

In the long run, I don't think it matters that much. Yes, every time it snows somewhere, people there look out the window and proclaim global cooling. But it's offset by the next drought or heat wave or wildfire or hurricane, which promptly blamed on global warming.

Kind of like every time the price of oil goes down, we get, "Haha, there's no such thing as peak oil."

That is probably the most interesting element of the climate change debate to me - the ways in which it mirrors the peak oil debate.

Yes, but climate change is also expressed in more periods of extreme weather. More snow doesn't have to mean colder, because clouded skies temper the cold.

Not that a couple of snowstorms means anything either way.

True dat, however it's worth noting that two record-breaking snowstorms within a week may indicate a significant change. The trend in extreme weather events is heading that way, according to data from Munich Re:

The article about eBikes mentions the Electric Bikes Worldwide Report. Can't find a free copy of that, list price is $475, but here's a 94 page pdf: Electric Bikes in the People's Republic of China

Electric bikes (e-bikes) have developed faster than any other mode in the People’s Republic
of China (PRC). After a modest beginning in the mid-1990s, 16 million to 19 million were
produced in 2006 and over 21 million in 2007. E-bikes have been criticized on a number
of grounds, including environmental performance, contribution to congestion, and safety (Fairley
2005; Ribet 2005). This report focuses on environmental performance. The environmental impacts
of e-bikes are unclear. It is clear that they emit zero tailpipe emissions at their point of use and that
their overall energy efficiency is higher and emissions per kilometer are lower than that of gasoline
scooters and cars, but, at least in the PRC, most e-bike users might not otherwise use cars or gasoline
scooters. The environmental costs of this mode are largely related to the alternative mode, should
the e-bike be prohibited or restricted. Taipei,China promoted and subsidized e-bikes in the 1990s
(Chiu and Tzeng 1999) to induce a shift away from dirtier gasoline scooters. This report presents an
analysis of the environmental costs of e-bikes and alternative modes in the PRC and can help inform
policy that will affect millions of users. It investigates emissions during an e-bike’s life cycle. This
report also investigates e-bike market potential and potential technology improvements that could
mitigate pollution from batteries. This report does not investigate the influence of e-bikes on safety,
congestion, noise, or mobility and access. Interested readers can refer to dissertations written by the
authors (Cherry 2007; Weinert 2007).

A local HVAC contractor in the Dallas area is making a big push for geothermal systems:


Thanks for that link WT - that's timely for me because I've been discussing this with a friend who is trying to come up with a good way of heating an old (1700's old) farmhouse up here in the northeast.

He thinks it's mighty costly to install geothermal but will consider it - for now he wants to go the route of installing some good blown in insulation to shore up the drafty walls.

Does anybody have suggestions for combining geothermal with an insulation upgrade - wondering specifically about what kind of blown in insulation would work best for that kind of old structure (or would there be better, more efficient alternatives).


Geothermal is an excuse to waste money efficiently.
The answer is Passive House.


A lot of people would never consider a bulldozer as the first piece of equipment for their 'renovation' project. After working on a number of old houses, my first consideration is: renovate or rebuild? A lot of drafty old houses suffer from extensive dry rot, caused usually from the condensation of warm humid air as it passes from the interior to the exterior. The warm humid air comes from breathing, boiling and bathing. There may be other structural issues rendering investment in the building a waste.

Anyway, assuming a house worth further investment, your friend should determine all the moisture issues. How will the aforesaid internally generated moisture escape the house without doing damage?

Probably, with mechanical ventilation in place, spray foam insulation is the best bet. An air to air heat pump may be a worthwhile investment, depending on where your friend is in the northeast. For the price of a ground source installation, your friend would likely be able to install air to air, plus a high efficiency bio-burner (e.g. wood stove) and have enough cash left to pay for the insulation.

One rule of thumb on renovation says that it saves about 15% over new construction. I can believe that easily. I've been on service calls in numerous old houses. Many of these buildings are just plain worn out from age, neglect, abuse, improper construction, damage, etc. A lot of houses are in the wrong orientation relative to the path of the sun and therefore can't be passive solar houses without picking them up off the existing foundation, building a new foundation, rotating the house, and reattaching it. It's doubtful some of them would survive the process. Then there's the issue of setback from property lines, utility hook-ups, etc. Even some of the new construction is problematical. I can see them in the same shape in a couple of decades. There are a lot of cheap composite materials that don't age well or need a lot of maintenance. The money dumped into the suburbs has largely been wasted. How many $trillion might that be? And as oil becomes scarse, how will they be maintained?

First step is...tear down the 1700's house and go PASSIVHAUS....

Not willing to do that, then build sub walls on the inside and super insulate. Do not, try to insulate existing structure. Big waste of time. Bigger waste of money.

Basically build a superinsulated shell inside the existing structure. Loss of square feet will be very small and the rooms can then be zoned and not used when not needed.

Lots of simple ways to go....but I'm sure he will get sold the bill of goods by the local idiot contractors about insulation.....and the house is too big to begin with....

First step is...tear down the 1700's house and go PASSIVHAUS....

Are you referring to construction methods or actual age of buildings? Houses from the 18th century are likely all historic landmarks by now; I don't have detailed info on the age of housing but here's a graph and some links:

According to the 2007 American Housing Survey for the United States only 6.9% of occupied homes were built <1920. You might look into the typical ages for European houses, and whether they've been largely replaced in recent decades. My graph suggests that a greater margin have been refurbished, or continue on in their drafty badness.

I picked up a decent magazine covering retros to old houses. The options varied widely depending on the location, and what could or could not be changed. Windows are a big item, as is siding. After that comes style of flooring (how much room underneath the house, if any), and whether the attic was framed or "livable space".

In some cases you CAN do a new shell outside (spray-in foam plus 2" foam board, lots of caulk/sealant, and housewrap), but in others you can't (indoor insulation is your option). Note that many such houses cost $75-$100 per sq foot to insulate and update.

After that, getting rid of the old boiler is no-brainer. Anything you replace from 50 yrs ago or more will be much more efficient now, and if you've done the insulation job right you save even more. 75-80% fuel savings would not be unreasonable.

"Too big" is terribly subjective.

thanks for the reply Drifter - he probably isn't willing to tear it down... the house has definitely seen better days but is still very solid in many ways. His father recently passed away and gave the house to him - it has been in their family for a long time.

He is an engineer and does alot of his own renovation work etc. so I don't think any local contractors will be able to take him for much of a ride...

I think you're right about the "superinsulated shell" - that would seem to be the way to go...

Last fall I decided to take money from a certificate of deposit that was "under performing" and invest in insulation.
I have a 80+ year old farm house that has clay tile structural walls with brick facing outside and lathe/plaster on the inside. R rating of 3. I could write a small book on the engineering decisions that resulted in my having a 2x8 stud wall built around the outside of the house and then urethane spray foam (R7 per inch x 7.5 inches) sprayed into the resulting 2x8 cavities. 5/8 plywood applied to outside and then new steel siding. New R rating is now 50+ for the house exterior walls.
Installed a new geothermal heat pump. Results - Excellent. I am getting much better financial performance from the insulation than from the CD's. But, I did significantly degrade the resale value of the house due to the change in visual appeal of the outside, but as I expect to die of old age in this house I really didn't care about this.
Original construction would have taken 2700 gallons of propane per year and still not had a warm and comfortable house - esp the kitchen and upstairs bedrooms. 2700 gallons of propane at $2.32/gallon (2008 contract price) is $6264.00. On my social security income I could NOT afford that big a heat bill - And I believe propane is going to get more expensive over the next 10-20 years that I expect to be living in my house. Current year heat bill will be under $500.00.
So my cash income and liquidity are decreased permanently, but my expenses are down by more than my income losses so I consider this to be an excellent investment.

go for fiberglass, many contractors won't, don't or cant't do blown-in fiberglass. seemingly, any hack can blow in cellulose, the question is, why ? newspaper needs to be reclcled by burning or put in a landfill, where it belongs, to generate biogas.

just my opinion, but if you have ever had the experience of tearing out cellulose, you would understand why.

Removing blown fiberglass is worse, much worse than cellulose.

Fiberglass is a nightmare.

Yesterday on a Venezuelan t.v. channel:

A president conference with present representatives from companies from Japan (Mitsubishi), Malaysia, India, China, Spain, U.S.(Chevron) and Venezuela.
They are going to develop 7 blocks of the 27 blocks from the Orinoco belt. They will invest $800 billion until 2016.
Projected extraction in 2016: 2 mbd.
Now Venezuela produces 0.6 mbod from bitumen.
The hypocrisy from Chavez was striking: now all that countries suddenly are his friends, etc. bla bla. But also: Chavez seems to understand the situation. He said that Venezuela is, lamentably, one of the few countries that can (sustainably)increase their oil production.

$800 billion? I suppose nearly a trillion dollars isn't what it used to be, but if true this would be a total (presumably capital + operating) cost per bpd of about $400,000 (after royalty and production sharing, the cost per net bpd would probably be even higher).

Insofar as I know, the prior record was about $125,000 (capital cost) per bpd for a tar sands project in Canada.

In any case, the huge costs + low volumes + domestic consumption + conventional depletion is why I don't think that unconventional oil production will have a big impact on net oil exports, but time will tell I suppose.

Canadian liquids production 2000-2008 averaged 2.35% growth, so maybe >3 mb/d for Venezuela in 2015? Better quality material vs geopolitical woes.

Venezuela has large natural gas deposits offshore near Trinidad. After they seized numerous foreign companies' multi-billion dollar properties and stole drilling rigs being leased to ventures on their soil; they have to pray for electricity. They cannot find anyone to steal it from.

rainsong, Chavez said that the Orinoco belt contains also huge amounts of gas. I don't remember how much, as source he mentioned the USGS, like for the optimistic (?) reserves of bitumen. Seems they don't have to steal it anymore.

A couple of months ago Chavez started to nationalize banks:


This came after moves to nationalize companies assets in cement, oil and natural gas, petrochemicals, telecommunications, mining, and steel. Some of what was taken were foreign investments. Communistas do not call it stealing. The taking was a form of extreme taxation.

WT, in the $800 billion maybe is included the building of cities in that area for the workforce. Is that included in the $125.000/bpd for that tar sand project in Canada ?
Indeed, if they get 2 mbd in 2016 from bitumen then because of increased domestic consumption and conventional depletion their export will not increase much, but at least don't have to fall.

(h/t Denninger)

Lehman Justice Isn’t Blind, It’s Unconscious

Interesting comments on why Lehman collapsed, and how it was that all those documents - boxes of evidence - could be carried away on live TV.

Paulson said he felt terrible for Fuld and other Lehman executives: “It was impossible not to sympathize with him. After all, I had run a financial institution; he had been one of my peers.” Maybe a Treasury secretary who hadn’t been the CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. would have viewed their plight less charitably. Paulson declined to comment for this column.

Whole Foods Market, others, move to cut tar sands oil use

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods was able to track its supply chain for transportation fuels and found tar sands oil was being used in about 10% of its fuel supply. In one area it switched to an alternative supplier, though in the Rocky Mountains area a supplier is still using fuel originating from the oil sands.

Regarding Bed, Bath & Beyond

The company uses external transport companies and therefore said it will continue to push suppliers to move to cleaner fuels.

Both are still using fuel from oil sands, but I guess they want us to know they are not happy about it. :)

Alberta's economy doesn't fit Whole Foods 'values'

Relax, the industry will argue. Once the raw bitumen enters the refinery process, it’s mixed with conventional sources which render any attempt to segregate the fuel’s molecular origins impossible.

but from the first article:

“The government and industry said there was no way to track which fuel came from oil sands,” Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics said. “Whole Foods discovered that they could.”

Who's right?

"The company uses external transport companies and therefore said it will continue to push suppliers to move to cleaner fuels."

Great! lets just ramp up the biofuels production and call the program "Food 2 Fuel"

'Because no good deed should go unpunished!'

Obey your Fear.

Well realistically, they can't segregate fuel made from syncrude from fuel made from conventional crude. Chemically, there's no difference when it leaves the refinery. From a marketing perspective, oil companies trade crude back and forth, and trade refined products back and forth, and as long as it meets specs, nobody cares where it came from. They just mix it all together.

Let's quickly review the numbers: The US imports nearly 2/3 of its oil; Canada is the largest supplier of imports at about 20%, and nearly 50% of Canadian oil production is oil sands or heavy oil.

As Whole Foods found, in the Rocky Mountain States they can't find a supplier willing to supply fuel not made from syncrude, because all of them are processing syncrude.

Whole Foods also has stores in Canada. All Canadian refineries processing Canadian oil use feedstock from the oil sands, so it will have to get its Canadian fuel from the US.

It can encourage its external truckers to use non-oil sands fuel, but most likely as they drive down the highways they will continue buy wherever the prices are lowest.

The Alberta government and the oil companies, however, will probably take the hint and start building that export pipeline to the west coast to supply oil to China.

Thank you Rocky. So I guess one of two things will happen. Nothing in which case this was nice for publicity purposes. Or something in which case I can expect to pay more for my groceries in the future. :)

Well, one of the companies, Bed, Bath & Beyond, has already panicked and said, "We didn't really say that. We were misquoted. We didn't want to imply that the tar sands were wrong", etc. etc. No doubt they suddenly realized that some of their stores were in Alberta.

Whole Foods has no stores in Alberta, but they haven't realized yet that not running on oil sands is not an option in Canada. Their stores are in British Columbia and Ontario, both of which get their oil from Alberta, and most of Alberta's oil production is now from the oil sands. Frankly, there are no options because Alberta's conventional oil reserves are nearly exhausted (i.e. no better than American reserves.)

Moving all the goods by canoe worked for the Hudsons Bay Company traders a century or two ago, but I don't know if Whole Foods has considered that option.

Just as an historical note, it was the fur traders that found the oil sands. Well, actually the Indians told them where they were, but the fur traders were the first people to write about them.

Renewables Industry Promotes Its Potential

This seemed relevent and worth sharing, as it describes California renewables growth from its Public Utilities Commission point of view:


From the report to the legislature:
"In 2009, 357 MW of new renewable capacity reached commercial operation."

India is promoting hydroelectric power. The government has identified 93% of their hydroelectric potential remains untapped. The government stated it has potential to grow the hydroelectric sector to 58 GW. A 15%rate of return on investment was predicted for hydroelectric facilities.


During the Great Depression the US Federal government began building hydroelectric dams as they provided cheap affordable power for their constituents.

Just yesterday when checking my e.mail for the first time in a week, ( note to those that have mailed me, I am still behind) I got a letter asking me to help with 25,000 barrels a day in Iraq. Something about helping them fund getting it, or getting it out of the country, it was a short letter.

I guess the next one I get, I'll copy and let everyone see it, I sent this one off to the spam folder.

Nigerians aren't the only scammers out there.


Nigerians aren't the only scammers out there.

Maybe some of them moved to Iraq?

Until now, anyone who questioned the credibility of the IPCC was labelled as a climate skeptic, or worse. But many climate scientists now sense a sinking ship, and they're bailing out. Among them is Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria who acknowledges that the climate body has crossed the line into advocacy. Even Britain's Greenpeace has called for Mr. Pachauri's resignation. India says it will establish its own body to monitor the effects of global warming because it “cannot rely” on the IPCC.

None of this is to say that global warming isn't real, or that human activity doesn't play a role, or that the IPCC is entirely wrong, or that measures to curb greenhouse-gas emissions aren't valid. But the strategy pursued by activists (including scientists who have crossed the line into advocacy) has turned out to be fatally flawed.


Too bad.
So many of the folks involved in pushing global warming awareness have been hypocritical in their own energy overuse or engaged in "Act Up" tactics.
Seldom do such methods garner sweeping change.
I imagine the 40" of snow this past week in Washington DC hasn't aided their cause either.

Upside - some tech that can rip water into H2 and O2 with photons.
Downside - Errr, how ya gonna seperate that H2 and O2?

Separating the H2 and O2 isn't necessarily required. But there are at least two other major problems.

The first problem is illustrated here. This particular project looks like it fits into the "10 years" category.

The second problem assumes the first one is solved, so there is a commercially viable product.

The problem is that of scaling up a niche-market product to a technology that can make a difference. In energy technologies, it usually takes a few decades to grow a technology from commercial introduction to providing one percent of energy supply. If it happens at all.

Then there are the problems associated with hydrogen as a fuel...

But yes, 60% efficiency with sunlight does look good.

Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers
ExxonMobil cash supported concerted campaign to undermine case for man-made warming
An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night.

The attack against scientists supportive of the idea of man-made climate change has grown in ferocity since the leak of thousands of documents on the subject from the University of East Anglia (UEA) on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit last December.

Free-market, anti-climate change think-tanks such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the US and the International Policy Network in the UK have received grants totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds from the multinational energy company ExxonMobil. Both organisations have funded international seminars pulling together climate change deniers from across the globe.


Climategate revisited

The core of the campaign is a network of professional lobbyists, rightwing activists and politicians, tame journalists and a handful of scientists (including some at the University of East Anglia itself) who present themselves as independent seekers after truth, but are actually in regular contact to co-ordinate their actions and talking points. The main mechanism of harassment was the misuse of Freedom of Information requests in an effort to disrupt the work of scientists, trap them into failures of compliance, and extract information that could be misrepresented as evidence of scientific misconduct. This is a long-standing tactic in the rightwing War on Science, reflected in such Orwellian pieces of legislation as the US “Data Quality Act”.

The hacking was almost certainly done by someone within the campaign, but in a way that maintained (in Watergate terminology) “plausible deniability” for the principals. Regardless of what they knew (and when they knew it) about the actual theft, the leading figures in the campaign worked together to maximize the impact of the stolen emails, and to co-ordinate the bogus claims of scientific misconduct based on the sinister interpretations placed on such phrases as “trick” and “hide the decline”. ... much the same team had their first outing in the controversy over the Mann et al “hockey stick” graph. All the same elements were there – supposedly disinterested citizen researchers who were in fact paid rightwing operatives, misuse of accountability procedures, and exceptional gullibility on the part of the “sceptical” mass audience.

This is a long-standing tactic in the rightwing War on Science,

As opposed to:

Overhead and profit-taking in the carbon offsets system eats up about 70 percent of what is spent on carbon offsets, according to a report from UK-based Carbon Retirement report.

So long as Government wants the power to take to "save the planet" and 70% becomes "profit-taking" - I'm all for opposition in *ANY* form. Even if the opposition is wrong also.

In a sense, insiders say, Toyota has become a victim of its own dizzying success.

Consultants, suppliers, dealers and analysts say fast growth strained the company's resources to breaking point. The additional stress of achieving near constant cost reductions in parts added to the pressure.


Yep, that's how it starts.
It's downhill from there.

"The damage to the reputation has been done," said Jeff Hess, a professor of marketing at California Polytechnic State University and former auto industry analyst with J.D. Power. "It's not about the message now. It's about hundreds of dealers and millions of customers."

The CNN Fact Check Desk wondered: Are earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains unlikely, or was Tuesday's predawn quake in Illinois a wake-up call for Easterners?
• The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquakes pose "a significant risk to 75 million Americans in 39 states."

it's the photoblog of 100 year old photos. i have been surfing the entire archive for the past week or so. why? so i can study how we are all going to live very shortly. it's a back to the future peek for any doomer.

lots of doomer talk today. here's a tid bit. child labor. lots of photos at shorpy about child labor. peak oil means the end of childhood. it means the end of sanitary processing and delivery of food. have you reduced your lifestyle today?

when global marketing falters and we all go local, your children can work with you at the mill or mine. $14 per hour? how does a dollar a
day sound? isnt that what we are all predicting? the end of the easy life and the start of hard scrabble?

or are some of us exempt? which ones? who will step forward and proclaim that they are exempt from peak oil? does bernancke or geithner read the oil conundrum? only gold man sackers will be exempt from peak oil.

i noticed one thing while looking at child laborers at shorpy. no obese kids at the turn of the century.

my solar panels are under a foot of snow. will stay that way for a few weeks or until we get a few warm days. no power generation there. almost out of wood. good thing winter ends soon. i only burn on weekends so i got enough to get though the middle of march.

i have reduced my lifestyle. no hot water on demand. electric heater almost always off. cant afford electric bills even with solar power.

re: 'PV under a foot of snow.'

How is it you can't afford watts you already paid for? Money well spent. Here, buy one of these and hire a teenager to use it for you.. in case Spring gets cancelled this year.


Sun's a bit higher now, my hot air panel is hitting 110 degrees last couple days, just blowing nice hot air into the house all day.


A Menu for Feeding 9 Billion People
This just posted in the NY Times, from Science magazine's site:

Science Magazine has removed the pay wall from “Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People.” The paper concludes, as many have before, that keeping up with humanity’s needs as numbers and appetites crest toward mid-century poses big challenges. But it expresses optimism that a sustained focus on efficiency, technology and policy innovations can do the trick. (The images above, from the paper, show how investments in water storage and other measures helped restore vegetation in a dry region in Niger.) Here’s the summary:

Continuing population and consumption growth will mean that the global demand for food will increase for at least another 40 years. Growing competition for land, water, and energy, in addition to the overexploitation of fisheries, will affect our ability to produce food, as will the urgent requirement to reduce the impact of the food system on the environment. The effects of climate change are a further threat. But the world can produce more food and can ensure that it is used more efficiently and equitably. A multifaceted and linked global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security, different components of which are explored here.

The authors include a menu of possible uses for genetically modified crops, but stress that technology alone is far from sufficient if policies are not shifted to advance the appropriate use of the right agricultural strategy or tool in the right place. Over all, a focus on “sustainable intensification” of production of crops and livestock will be vital to limiting impacts on remaining undeveloped ecosystems.

Someone here might be willing to review the referenced document and report back on TOD. I posted a comment on the NYT site mentioning fossil fuel and mined-phosphate depletion.

Dick Lawrence

A "menu" consisting of GM crops is most likely game over for the planet.

The last thing we need to do is to invent some miraculous new way to feed 9 billion people - we had better GM a new third rock from the sun as plan B...