Drumbeat: March 1, 2010

Asia buys record volume of W. African oil in Q1

LONDON (Reuters) - Asian buyers are taking record volumes of West African crude oil this year as fuel consumption rises in India, China and other East Asian countries, a Reuters survey of trade sources showed on Monday.

Imports of cargoes of unrefined oil from Nigeria, Angola and other African producers via Atlantic ports averaged around 1.79 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter, up from about 1.53 million bpd in the fourth quarter and close to 1.1 million bpd a year ago.

In the first three months of this year, Asia consumed about 40 percent of all the West African crude produced, up from around 25 percent in Q1 2009, the Reuters survey shows.

Saudi Arabia May Nearly Double Oil Supply to India

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, agreed to almost double crude shipments to India and study “enhancement” of joint projects as Asia’s third-largest economy seeks to increase supply for planned refineries.

Ali al-Naimi, oil minister in the biggest Arab economy, agreed to raise crude supply to India to 40 million tons a year, or about 770,000 barrels a day, from 25.5 million tons a year, at a meeting today with counterpart Murli Deora, India’s Oil Ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

Bangalore: Power cuts short-circuit India's Silicon Valley

Frequent power blackouts are taking a toll on the confidence of India's Silicon Valley. Bangalore, which fetched Rs 68,500-crore foreign exchange for the country last year, is reeling under frequent unscheduled power cuts - sometimes lasting 3-4 hours. This has not only infuriated small-scale enterprises but also the 1,800-company strong IT/ITes sector in the IT city. According to estimates by the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), the power cuts are resulting the IT hub's industrial belt losing around Rs 400 crore a day.

Bangalore requires 33 million units (mu) per day but it is currently receiving only around 30 mu. The demand may increase by another 2 mu per day during the summer months. So the worst is probably yet to come.

Ukraine Cuts Electricity Exports to 3 EU Nations

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine says it has cut off electricity exports to EU nations Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, for at least a month due to a coal shortage.

Malta: Fenech insists growth, not protests, is solution for higher tariffs

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said today that oil prices were expected to continue to rise, and the government was helping the economy to deal with them.

Spring Is Coming

The experts say very little about coal and natural gas - because they are cheap. When or if coal and gas were priced at the same dollars-per-unit energy rate as oil costing $80 a barrel, their price would be about $14 per million BTU for gas, and $400 a ton for energy coal, which to be sure would revolutionize the outlook for green energy.

Simply because oil is already out of the price box, it has an almost mystical impact on political leaders of importer countries, and the battalions of hungry consumers they lead. Without oil and its intrigue, shadowy and mysterious wars in far-off lands, political coups and putsches to install better-performing 'democrats' in exporter countries, and the exciting Madoff-style merry-go-round of oil trading, life would be slower and dimmer.

When or if other fossil energy sources, which with oil supply 85% of world energy at this time, cost as much as oil we could fear that coal wars and gas wars would join today's oil wars.

The importance of envisioning “community”

Presently most of us are like deer in the headlights, watching with both excitement and horror the approaching social, economic, ecological “collapse”, with each of us envisioning both our worst fears and our best hopes (like many did with Obama). In lieu of direct action, or in addition to it, many of us spend a lot of our time “envisioning”. How will this collapse play out, and what is the timing? What are the possibilities of change? What exactly are the changes that need to happen? Like the deer, we know we should bolt (act), but which way, when? It is all so confusing.

No Third Runway campaigners defend community

COMMUNITY activists from the group Transition Heathrow moved into an abandoned market garden in Sipson today.

Around 20 people "swooped" on the land in Sipson around lunchtime today.

After securing the site, the group immediately informed their new neighbours and local residents of their intention to reopen the old market garden for the benefit of the local community.

The 'Grow Heathrow' project aims to encourage and support locally grown produce in an area that once had some of the most fertile soils in Britain. Transition Heathrow has launched the project to highlight the need for a community controlled food supply in order to remain resilient to the impacts of peak oil and climate change.

ExxonMobil's Spending Exceeds Cash Flow in 2009

Exxon Mobil Corp.'s spending exceeded its cash flow in 2009, drawing down one of the oil industry's largest treasure troves in a year of weak energy prices.

The Texas oil giant received $29.9 billion in cash from operations and asset sales last year while spending $53.12 billion in capital investments and money given to investors via dividends and share buybacks. Exxon's cash reserves -- padded by years of booming energy prices -- shrank to $10.7 billion at the end of 2009 from $31.4 billion at the close of 2008, according to an annual filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To Nuke or Not to Nuke

Minnesota and seven other states currently outlaw new nuclear energy production: Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Hawaii, and three coal states, West Virginia, Kentucky and Montana (which also lacks sufficient water for nuclear cooling).

The Minnesota legislature passed a moratorium on new nuclear power plants in 1994. A new nuclear power plant would take at least 10 years to bring online and cost $12-billion or more. Within 10 years the price for solar photovoltaics will come down while nuclear power costs will rise. Nuclear will be the most expensive form of electricity to generate, therefore the most profitable for utility investors. At this time nuclear energy is 17-cents per kilowatt hour while efficiency costs two-cents/kw according to Bill Grant from the Isaac Walton League's Midwest Chapter.

Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Foiling E.P.A.

Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

Niall Ferguson - Complexity and Collapse: Empires on the Edge of Chaos

What if history is not cyclical and slow moving but arrhythmic -- at times almost stationary, but also capable of accelerating suddenly, like a sports car? What if collapse does not arrive over a number of centuries but comes suddenly, like a thief in the night?

Great powers and empires are, I would suggest, complex systems, made up of a very large number of interacting components that are asymmetrically organized, which means their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid. They operate somewhere between order and disorder -- on "the edge of chaos," in the phrase of the computer scientist Christopher Langton. Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems "go critical." A very small trigger can set off a "phase transition" from a benign equilibrium to a crisis -- a single grain of sand causes a whole pile to collapse, or a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and brings about a hurricane in southeastern England.

Oil falls back below $80 as dollar strengthens

Oil prices lost early gains Monday to retreat below $80 a barrel, as the effects of a rising dollar offset the strength in other commodities markets, such as copper, and increases in equities.

Saudi Arabia Lowers March LPG Prices as Heating Demand Falls

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the largest supplier of liquefied petroleum gas to Asia, lowered prices for cargoes loading in March as the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter cuts demand for heating fuel.

Pakistan Lowers Domestic Oil Prices in Line With Global Costs

(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan lowered domestic fuel prices by as much as 4 percent in line with international crude rates, the Islamabad-based Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority said in a statement.

The government decreased the price of gasoline by 1 percent to 70.57 rupees (83 cents) a liter. Light diesel oil prices were lowered by 3 percent to 59.47 rupees, according to the regulator’s statement on its Web site.

Korea, Japan Yet to Get More Diesel Orders From Chile

(Bloomberg) -- Asian oil refiners that can make ultra-low sulfur diesel used in Chile have yet to receive any spot purchase orders even as the Latin American country sought to boost imports following an 8.8-magnitude earthquake.

Chile, the fourth-largest oil consumer in South and Central America, plans to buy diesel from overseas after closing the bigger two of its three refineries, according to state-owned Empresa Nacional del Petroleo. The country, which imports about 20 percent of its fuel needs, has enough diesel supply for 10 days’ consumption and gasoline for two weeks, the company known as ENAP said Feb. 27 in an e-mailed statement.

Kuwait sees $9 bln China refinery deal by year-end

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait expects to receive approval to develop a $9 billion refinery in China by the end of the year, a Kuwaiti oil executive said on Monday.

In remarks carried by state news agency KUNA, Kuwait Petroleum Corp's (KPC) chief executive Saad Al-Shuwaib said the project's investors were still hoping to commission the 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery by 2013.

Mol Says Earnings May More Than Double Through 2012

(Bloomberg) -- Mol Nyrt., Hungary’s largest oil company, is seeking to more than double profit in three years by raising crude output and making its refineries more efficient.

Aramco steps up gas chase

Drilling for oil in top oil exporter Saudi Arabia in 2010 is expected to remain the same as last year, industry sources said, but state oil giant Aramco would increase gas drilling activities.

Saudi Aramco seeks bids for Red Sea seismic survey

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - At least three companies are bidding for a seismic survey in the Red Sea for state oil giant Saudi Aramco, industry sources said on Monday.

...Aramco is planning to start drilling in deeper offshore frontiers in 2012, Aramco's chief executive Khalid al-Falih said in November.

Shell to Sell Assets to Fund $28 Billion Spending, FT Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc is selling assets including fields in the North Sea and its European liquefied petroleum gas business to help finance its $28 billion capital spending program this year, the Financial Times said, citing unidentified people involved in the proposed transactions.

TNK-BP 2009 reserves rise, income falls

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's third-biggest oil and gas producer TNK-BP said it replenished its hydrocarbon reserves in 2009 due to new discoveries and a rise in oil prices while its full-year net income fell 5.7 percent.

TNK-BP, half-owned by BP, said on Monday that under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's methodology, which uses the year-end spot price and applies to the economic life of a field, reserves rose in 2009 to 8.6 billion barrels from 8.1 billion in 2008.

More people apply for energy assistance to help with heating

A record number of U.S. households are applying for help to pay home heating bills with 17 states fielding application requests that are up more than 20% from last year, the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association says.

Almost 9 million U.S. households are expected to need help paying winter energy bills. That's up 15% from the record-setting 7.7 million last year, the association says.

Fla. deadliest state for walkers, cyclists

MIAMI, Florida — Florida is the deadliest state in the U.S. for pedestrians — and bicyclists don't fare any better.

In 2008, the most recent year for which federal statistics are available, 11.1% of pedestrians and 17.4% of bicyclists killed in the U.S. died in the Sunshine State, which has 6% of the nation's population.

Kunstler: Winter Mind Games

I am confident in the "emergent," self-organizing capablities of human societies. We are now faced with the task of emergently re-organizing medicine downward to the community clinic level -- and sooner or later probably toward a simple, straightforward pay-as-you-go in cash basis with doctors you know, with all the bureaucratic barnacles scraped away. Like a lot of other things in the years ahead -- education, retail trade, transport, even banking -- medicine is likely to be much less dazzling than the way it is practiced today. But when all is said and done we'll still possess the germ theory of illness and the recipe for lidocaine and a few other things that will make existence tolerable.

Sumitomo, IFC to Advise Indonesia on Energy Finance

(Bloomberg) -- Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. agreed with the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development to advise Indonesia on funding renewable energy projects as the country plans to boost power generation.

A stink in Central California over converting cow manure to electricity

Air-quality rules in the region leave dairy farmers facing costly changes to generators used to burn methane to produce power. Some have put their renewable-energy plans on hold.

AGL May Build Wind Farm on Revised Clean-Energy Plan

(Bloomberg) -- AGL Energy Ltd., Australia’s largest electricity retailer, said it expects to build the A$800 million ($719 million) Macarthur wind farm after the government revised a plan to spur renewable energy investment.

How do you convince people of global warming in a snowstorm?

“Gloomy unemployment numbers, public frustration with Washington, attacks on climate science, and mobilized opposition to national climate legislation represent a ‘perfect storm’ of events that have lowered public concerns about global warming even among the alarmed,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change.

China eyeing perks of ice-free Arctic: study

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – China has started exploring how to reap economic and strategic benefits from the ice melting at the Arctic with global warming, a Stockholm research institute said Monday.

Chinese officials have so far had been cautious in expressing interest in the region for fear of causing alarm among the five countries bordering the Arctic, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

"The prospect of the Arctic being navigable during summer months, leading to both shorter shipping routes and access to untapped energy resources, has impelled the Chinese government to allocate more resources to Arctic research," SIPRI researcher Linda Jakobson said.

Re: How do you convince people of global warming in a snowstorm?

Wait until Summer? Hope for a drought? Arrest all the denialist? Count sunspots?

E. Swanson

Tell them to have a look at TOD, if they have power. And, refer to it as climate change - see the book Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen.

The only book I've ever read, where as soon as I finished it, I started reading it again from the beginning. A lot of complex stuff to digest, but exceedingly important and scary.

i read trainspoting twice to try to understand what those scotsmen were talking about.

I saw the movie, then read the book to try and figure out what they were saying. Not much help.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

In other words, you would need to change the entire system of education so society has more people capable of critical thinking. They can digg into it and make up their own minds.

Maybe that takes to long and we'll just have to wait a decade?

This is why I always refer to it as "climate disruption" rather than "climate change" or "global warming," both of which sound relatively benign. I guess if we really wanted to get people's attention we should call it "Global EXXXtreme Climate Chaos Apocalypse," or some such. I think "Global Weirding" is also a good moniker.

The fact is folks always think the weather is weird or disrupted, so whenever it seems out of the ordinary, you can use it to convince other folks that "climate change" is for real.

Stephen Hren

Tell them how Vancouver & Seattle had the warmest January ever recorded - causing problems to Winter Olympics ?

Yeah and when we get a month of snow and cold, like we did, oh, say, last year, they'll turn around and say hey look it's not real. Local weather has nothing to do with climate even when it supports your view.

Arrest all the denialist?

A commission of denialists is now going to check the way the IPCC generated their data.

Count sunspots?

And its effect in combination with sun-cosmic rays.

I hope the denialist will also agree to similar tests of their data, which is rather limited, since most don't seem to do original work. The IPCC didn't "generate" any data. The scientific community has been involved in an on going effort, the IPCC just reports on the results. There were some computer model experiments run with the same input constraints, such as the IPCC emission scenarios. Those did appear in the IPCC WG 1 report. I'm not familiar with the other 2 working group reports, which are built on the scientific work reported in WG 1.

The hypothesis that solar variation impacts the Earth's climate by cloud formation due to cosmic rays is still not supported. Some studies have refuted the hypothesis using satellite data. There is a well documented variation in the "solar constant" at the top of the atmosphere which follows the sun spot cycle, but that is a small fraction of the total and most of it is in the short wave UV, which is absorbed in the stratosphere.

E. Swanson

The hypothesis that solar variation impacts the Earth's climate by cloud formation due to cosmic rays is still not supported.

There we are. Not supported. Of course the IPCC has to bring a message, that is what they are payed for, though not everything is clear. They cannot say: well, we are not sure that AGW has at least 90% chance of existing and we better write (A)GW. In the past temperature changes often played out in tens-hundreds thousands years.

We also know that in the past, enough methane was released at times to change sea levels by several metres in a century. And now we are poking the beast with sharp sticks.

IPCC has to bring a message, that is what they are payed for

About a dozen people, in Geneva, Switzerland, are paid for their work, while thousands of researchers worldwide are working for IPCC - unpaid.
IPCC reports consist of hundreds of pages packed with scientific details. Thus, an important part of IPCC work is producing the summary for policymakers.

How much are those in the camped out on the banks of denial paid? What is Exxon's budget for anti-AGW PR? Who receives it and how much? What about other energy companies? How much does the energy lobby spend just in the US, UK and Australia? Give me a break - this notion that climate science people do what they do because they are paid is as pathetic as it is ludicrous. Anyway it is irrelevant. What is relevant is the science. The anti-AGW brigade have no peer reviewed science to support their vociferous campaign.

Ironically it is the scientists that are the true conservatives in this story. They are the ones painstakingly putting together the case for leaving the climate as it is - in balance. It is the sceptics who are the revolutionaries. These are the true anarchists. It reminds me of a young bloke interviewed in the London riots in the early-mid 90's. He said he wanted to "exercise his right to anarchy" oblivious to the idiocy of his statement. By definition those who deny Peak oil and/or AGW are deluded, ignorant or stupid. Both symptoms (of human over-population) are based on observable phenomena and publicly available data. If you believe PO and/or climate science is made up you are deluded. If you don't know about it you are ignorant. And if you know about it, but do not understand it you are stupid. There can be no other explanation.

I am about 100% on Peak Oil (unless unlikely dramatic changes in technology are a game changer) and totaly undetermined on global warming. Search "scientific evidence against global warming"...the very first hit gave 8 reasons to doubt manmade global warming including a petition by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine that was signed by 17,000 (seventeen thousand) Scientists saying "there is no convincing scientific evidence" for manmade global warming.

My position is that this is a potentialy vital issue that needs to be further studied and funded by impartial, disinterested and domestic scientists with impartial domestic government oversite (not an easy thing to do but it could be done).

The OISM is a Creationist organization located in the back woods of Cave Springs, Oregon. They have a history of distorting the science and the petition has been shown to be rather meaningless, since many of the signers are bogus and few are real scientists from the atmospheric sciences. Would you want to have a dentist do heart surgery on your body? Well, why would you believe a non-scientist on the validity of AGW?

E. Swanson

And the rest?

2. Our most reliable sources of temperature data show no global warming trend. ...since readings began 23 years ago.

3. Global climate computer models are too crude to predict future climate changes.

4. The IPCC did not prove that human activities are causing global warming.

5. A modest amount of global warming, should it occur, would be beneficial to the natural world and to human civilization.

6. Efforts to quickly reduce human greenhouse gas emissions would be costly and would not stop Earth’s climate from changing.

7. Efforts by state governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are even more expensive and threaten to bust state budgets.

8. The best strategy to pursue is “no regrets.”

Total nonsense all.

If you are going to quote a source, don't ignore the rest of the comment:

2. Our most reliable sources of temperature data show no global warming trend.

Satellite readings of temperatures in the lower troposphere (an area scientists predict would immediately reflect any global warming) show no warming since readings began 23 years ago.

The Spencer and Christy MSU data began in 1979. There's now more than 30 years of data. There's been lots of changes in their work since 2002, as S & C had some serious errors. The latest results show warming as predicted. Typical display of second hand denialist ignorance.

3. Global climate computer models are too crude to predict future climate changes.

All predictions of global warming are based on computer models, not historical data. In order to get their models to produce predictions that are close to their designers’ expectations, modelers resort to “flux adjustments” that can be 25 times larger than the effect of doubling carbon dioxide concentrations, the supposed trigger for global warming

The models haven't used flux adjustments for many years, since they now include ocean circulation.

4. The IPCC did not prove that human activities are causing global warming.

Alarmists frequently quote the executive summaries of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations organization, to support their predictions. But here is what the IPCC’s latest report, Climate Change 2001...

That references 2001, it's now 2010.

5. A modest amount of global warming, should it occur, would be beneficial to the natural world and to human civilization.

This is one of the greatest arguments against global warming. Temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period (roughly 800 to 1200 AD), which allowed the Vikings to settle presently inhospitable Greenland, were higher than even the worst-case scenario reported by the IPCC.

The MWP has not been shown to be a GLOBAL WARMING, only a local event, mostly around the North Atlantic.

These are old denialist "talking points", apparently spread before the 2008 election cycle, which have been debunked dozens of times. You need to do a bit more research...

E. Swanson

I think you may have misread Turnbull.

Regardless.... nice debunk.

I should have made it a little clearer that I thought all 8 Items were typical denialist talking points that have been debunked.

What amazes me is how some people will do a quick google, find something like that, which came from the Heartland Institute by the way, and believe it immediately.

Then ignore all the other evidence of Mans trashing of the planet.

The Manufactured Doubt industry has it too easy.

[lobbying] if you add it all up, the fossil fuel industry outspent the environmental groups by $36.8 million to $2.6 million.

But not cheap.

Edit: Sorry Catskill I didn't look down far enough to see you beat me to Jeff Masters.

including a petition by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine that was signed by 17,000 (seventeen thousand) Scientists

Ah, the imfamous Oregon Petition. I wouldn't even use it to line my Budgie's cage, personally.

while thousands of researchers worldwide are working for IPCC - unpaid.

I didn't know. Scientists on pension ? Like the scientists from http://friendsofscience.org ?
What I know is that more than a few scientists from IPCC walked away because they didn't agree with their conclusion.

IPCC reports consist of hundreds of pages packed with scientific details.

There are also a few hundred peer-reviewed papers that are skeptical of AGW.

Let's see them.

Let's not.

This is not the place. Take it to RealClimate or something.

If you don't want people to discuss this Leanan, why do you post the article?

There are elements of climate change that should be discussed here. How the politics of climate change is similar to that of peak oil. How climate change will affect our transition to the post-carbon age. Whether talking about AGW is an oblique way of talking about peak oil.

But there's just no point in rehashing the same old tired arguments about climate science. No one's going to change their minds, and a lot of people find it really tedious and annoying. There are plenty of other places where that can be argued.

Well I guess if you want people to stick to these guidelines you're going to have to post them when and where you post the articles.

I think the real point is that it is highly unlikely that such papers even exist, so I don't see much danger in getting bogged down in discussions of various papers.

There is a list which has been circulated by Inhofe and others. Trouble is, many of the papers on the list don't dispute AGW, a point which has been discussed in detail on other blogs. That doesn't stop the denialist camp from spreading their claim amongst those who aren't likely to read or understand those papers...

E. Swanson

There is a list which has been circulated by Inhofe and others.

Look also at 'scientific references' in www.friendsofscience.org.

Yeah, that's the list. The first paper was so bad that a "correction" was immediately published. The second referenced paper is a reply to a comment I wrote about that "corrected" paper. If someone obtains a copy of the second paper, please send me a copy, as I refuse to pay E&E £18 for an PDF copy...

E. Swanson

Really, like which ones ? Can you list a dozen here with links etc ?

There are also a few hundred peer-reviewed papers that are skeptical of AGW.

That wins the Gold Medal for Howlers everyday for the 31 days of March. The oldtimer farmers and fisherfolk where I live all admit the climate is changing and don't need to read any scientific paper to know and understand what they see.

The oldtimer farmers and fisherfolk where I live all admit the climate is changing and don't need to read any scientific paper to know and understand what they see.

There is no doubt that the climate is changing, but the discussion is about if it should be written as AGW or (A)GW. By the way, the IPCC admitted recently that the past 15 years there was no significant increase of temperature. This possibly because of less water vapour.

By the way, the IPCC admitted recently that the past 15 years there was no significant increase of temperature.

Reference please?

Here's all you need to know about "bringing the message" - according to Dr. Jeff Masters over at WeatherUnderground:

"If you add it all up, the fossil fuel industry outspent the environmental groups by $36.8 million to $2.6 million in the second quarter, a factor of 14 to 1. To be fair, not all of that lobbying is climate change lobbying, but that affects both sets of numbers. The numbers don't even include lobbying money from other industries lobbying against climate change, such as the auto industry, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc."

Check out his excellent entry regarding, as he puts it, the Manufactured Doubt Industry


IIRC there were 4 working groups. The reports getting the most heat were composed of economists and social scientists, who included a couple of questionable non peer-reviwed sources. None of the "error" had any influence on the studies conclusions. The best analogy I've seen to whats happened is the OJ Simpson murder trial. The prosecution had mountains of evidence. More evidence is NOT better than less. Clever defense teams were able to comb out some bad evidence, and paint a picture of prosecution malfeasance, and convince the jury of doubt. The same thing has been happening with climate science -find a few questionable things and trumpet them the discredit the whole thing. Humans don't seem capable of dealing with stuff like small false positive rates in large data sets. We tend to think in terms of personal stories, and any large dataset will generate a few that seem counter to the overall trend of the data. There low occurrence rate doesn't register in our brains.

Try to convince them Global Warming means more extremes in weather..., not just more hot days.

I just taught an embedded systems class (subject: control theory) about non-homogeneous non-stationarity (non-trending stochastic process data) and non-stationarity in the first and second statistical moments of a process. I would guess that without that kind of deeper understanding they wouldn't have a chance of grasping what it means for the climate (and weather events). I suspect that the vast majority of people couldn't tell you what variation (or variance) meant let alone what it means when it changes over time.

Thanks education system.

As a "Gear" I get to put my faith and reputation into data and numbers all day long and this means jack-sh!7 to anyone outside my small circle of profession, even my parents. And, I find it somewhat pointless to enter into a debate on the validity of AGW. To me the observable fact is clear and is the large scale result that will impact most of the population regardless of their belief.

On this observable fact I don't get any push back or debate. "Watch the water..."

Not sea level rise. I think that is a false warning as if the seas will rise 1 metre over night. They will undoubtedly rise and will make adjustments season by season, year by year, and we will get by just fine if that were the only phenomena to be concerned about. It's the fresh water.

Like most of the AGW critics, if drinking water makes me an authoritative hydrologist, then I can state we are in a water crisis now. I'm not the first, nor the last to point out this little problem. Now you have some insight why I moved back to a region that has abundant fresh water and will continue to do so beyond other regions in N. America. (Hint, BC, Winter Olympics). And even then we are experiencing affects from low water in some regions. We could be in for another tough forest fire season. Those mountains around Vancouver should be snow capped until end of March at the earliest.

Re: How do you convince people of global warming in a snowstorm?

Well,you start when they are very young and nurture their innate curiosity, you teach them basic math and science. You allow them to develop critical thinking skills. You expose them to different points of view. As they grow older you teach them logical thinking and the scientific method then expose them to more advanced mathematics and other scientific concepts and theories.

Then and only then will they be able to understand that global warming can actually lead to abnormal snowfalls and that this is not necessarily inconsistent with what science now knows about climate change.

Yeah, good luck with that!

That's a great approach.

I'm also inclined to point out visceral truths in natural flows, for people who might be more visually oriented, and missed the lifelong buildup. As an animation student, we learned that you would never have a character throw a punch without giving them an anticipatory wind-up.. and this 'pre-coil' was noticable in all sorts of physical motion, once you started looking for it.

.. You ALWAYS have all the opposite forces involved in anything strong. That's how nature IS.

"Conflict is the Corned-Beef in the sandwich, NOT just the mustard!" Sam Dan, Screenwriting Teacher

JHK is in fine form this morning. As usual, not a single paragraph which is "TOD appropriate". Reading Kunstler does seem to help me control my rage somehow, though I'm not sure why.

The gridlock that grips the US of A is mind-boggling. In the absence of progress (and in the absence of even the prospect of progress), we retreat to watching teams of ladies scooting "tea kettles" across an ice-covered rink. I hear people say that they "still have faith" in the American people but I'm here to tell you that you won't get any thing out of them (us) until the roof caves in.

An item from Drudge follows about the continuing contraction in the MSM. It's no wonder that they don't like to talk about Peak Oil.

REPORT: ABCNEWS plans to close all of its physical bureaus except Washington; Halve the number of its correspondents... Developing...



Also, from Drudge, an update on the "Grand Prix of Debt Race."

Don't go wobbly on us now, Ben Bernanke

Barack Obama's home state of Illinois is near the point of fiscal disintegration. "The state is in utter crisis," said Representative Suzie Bassi. "We are next to bankruptcy. We have a $13bn hole in a $28bn budget." The state has been paying bills with unfunded vouchers since October. A fifth of buses have stopped. Libraries, owed $400m (£263m), are closing one day a week. Schools are owed $725m. Unable to pay teachers, they are preparing mass lay-offs. "It's a catastrophe", said the Schools Superintedent. In Alexander County, the sheriff's patrol cars have been repossessed; three-quarters of his officers are laid off; the local prison has refused to take county inmates until debts are paid.

Florida, Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York are all facing crises. California has cut teachers salaries by 5pc, and imposed a 5pc levy on pension fees. The Economic Policy Institute says states face a shortfall of $156bn in fiscal 2010. Most are banned by law from running deficits, so they must retrench. Washington has provided $68bn in federal aid, but that depletes the Obama stimulus package.

This is not to pick on America. Belt-tightening is the oppressive fact of 2010-2012 for half the world.

Oh, that report on ABC made my day! Thank you.

I know many of the older guard may disagree, but I find the mainstream media, which is all national tv stations, magazines, and newspapers, to be completely irrelevant. I'll keep repeating that as long as I'm here.

They failed to report on the stolen elections. They failed to report on the illegal Iraq war. They failed to report on the loss of our liberties. They are failing to report on peak oil and agw/cc. And don't get me started on their failure on all things financial.

What makes any of you think that they are going to turn around, or all of a sudden become responsible custodians of our American way of life, and defend us against those awful Teabaggers??

I say, bring on the radical right. The collapse is happening; let's not be afraid to accelerate it.

Both JHK and Ferguson are excellent reads, and both are essentially saying the same thing: the US is into overshoot hyper-complexity, it cannot be sustained, and we are likely going to see a decline and massive simplification toward a lower and more sustainable level of conplexity. This may very well happen sooner and more quickly than most people expect. Maybe not overnight, but maybe over not much more than a matter of a few years or a few decades at most.

A point that Ferguson didn't make but that should be derived from the examples he cited is that life does, in fact, go on after empires collapse. Life goes on, but probably not for those who have been at the top layer; for everyone else, life goes on, but differently, and usually not as well.

My takeaway is that the future path is not likely to be a smooth curve downward, nor a cliff that falls into oblivion, but a fairly steep, swift, bumpy and scary trip down to a permanently lower level - coming soon.

I don't dispute the probable course of collapse you foresee; however I think that to say we're heading for a permanently lower level bears a bit of consideration.

There have been lots of examples of societal collapse in the past. Let's just take two for now - Roman Empire and Easter Island.

Roman Empire collapse resulted in a dark age for centuries, and then society rose again to a new higher level.

Easter Island collapse was more of a permanent nature (although you could easily argue its collapse was so recent that that society didn't have time to rebuild on a "new model" and surpass its predecessor before Western colonists moved in).

So can we say that the collapse we're now facing is going to result in a permanently lower level (of population, living standards, technological or cultural achievements - or all of these)? That may be the case, or it may also be the case that we'll face collapse and die-off, and then in a thousand years time a new society will rise that will surpass what we currently have in all respects. We can't imagine what that might look like any more than the Romans could have imagined ipods and space travel, but the possibility is (I hope) out there.

Question is, are we facing a Roman Empire scenario or an Easter Island scenario?

This doesn't change our current predicament one jot of course; I'd just prefer not to use absolutes without reasoned argument to back it up first...

Question is, are we facing a Roman Empire scenario or an Easter Island scenario?

That would depend upon the extent of collapse, on the lessons carried away by the survivors and the ways in which they adapted to their post-collapse environment. Ecosystems can recover if keystone species are not extinguished. However, once key species are gone -- think "trees" on Easter -- then the co-evolved species do not return. Diamond notes in "Collapse" that when Dutch sailors first made contact with the Easter natives that they were stunted, in poor health, and timid. Being isolated as they were, without the means to build watercraft that could have taken them away, their vigor was limited by the poor quality of the resource base.

Rome's collapse didn't result in isolation of the empire's subjects, thus, collapse wasn't as complete.

FWIW, it is unlikely that Easter Island could ever support its former population. Once the resource is degraded, the remnant population continues to place demands on the system which prevent any sort of recovery (even if species can be "reseeded" in from another location).

The ultimate resource for pre-fossil fuel civilizations were trees. Trees provide both a building material and fuel for those long winter nights in the temperate regions. The Romans built with wood, witness the story of Nero and the burning of Rome. Once the trees were cut faster than they could grow back, the empire was doomed. I recall reading an archaeological study of an Eastern Mediterranean site thought to be the city of Ephesus (good photos), which was prominent in the New Testament of the Bible, where the harbor had silted in completely due to soil erosion after all the trees on the uphill slopes were cut. From the link, Ephesus which was once a seaport is now 6 miles away from the sea. Perhaps another example of an indirect mechanism of collapse...

E. Swanson

Ah, yes, Ephesus. Spent several days there 11 years ago. True about the harbour. The Library's remains were very impressive. The lack of trees very noticible, excepting olive trees.

Good point about trees. Given that it can take 40+ years for a conifer to grow to a really useful harvestable size, and hardwoods 50-75 years or more, then if any of us want to do something that might really be helpful to the hard-pressed generations that will be following us, planting trees would have to be near the top of the list.

We don't know anything for certain about Easter Island.
As far as the Roman Empire goes, things are complicated.
The 'Roman Empire' was split in 285 AD by Diocletian into
the Eastern(Byzantium) and Western(Milan)--it was deemed to vast to rule effectively. There were two Emperors, two courts and two armies. Naturally, there were wars and the Empire was reunited by Constantine and his family and then divided again in 364 by Valentinian and his brother Valens. It was rejoined in 392 AD by Theodosius and divided between his two sons.
Rome was sacked in 410AD but Byzantium/Constantinople remained the seat of the Eastern Empire until 1453.

The Western empire lasted until 476 AD when the crown and sceptre were returned to the Eastern Emperor Zeno by the military commander of Italy, Odoacer who asked to be made
'duke' of Italy, the political system of the West having evaporated--nobody wanted or could keep the job of Emperor.
The barbarians allies were exasperated and in 493 AD Theodoric the Goth proclaimed himself King of Italy.
It's interesting that Theodoric passed laws requiring the Italians to maintain their roads and buildings and he presided over the Roman Senate and other laws were passed
keeping Goths from mixing with Romans, but Romans were
second class citizens for the next 900 years. People weren't interested in politics and the prevailing religion predicted the end of the world.
St. Augustine wrote a book, 'The City of God' justifying the destruction of the Roman Empire.


While it is not impossible that a new civilization might arise one thousand years after a collapse of the current civilization, that civilization will face challenges that ours did not. As our civilization developed, we plucked the 'low-hanging fruit' of high-grade minerals and ores that were relatively readily available and made use of them. They are now gone for geological periods of time, until geological activity replenishes them. Granted, it will be possible to scavenge some materials from the remains of our towns and cities, but many resources such as iron will have rusted away and dissipated over a millennium. Other resources that would presumably be useful for a developing civilization, such as most of the fossil fuel resources, were burnt off and are entirely non-recoverable.

I won't attempt to guess how well local ecosystems such as forests or prairies will have recovered over such a period of time. Such a time frame may be adequate for many ecosystems to reach a new equilibrium after the extinctions, introduced species, and climate changes that humans are responsible for have sorted themselves out. Even if the ecosystems themselves are reasonably healthy, the abundant, rich soils that were available to us took, in many cases, multiple thousands of years, as well as glacial activity and volcanic deposition, to develop.

Another issue this hypothetical civilization will have to deal with are the various hazardous materials, including toxic wastes and radioactive materials, many of which will persist for millennia, that we have left strewn around the planet. While local knowledge of some contaminated sites may persist, others are likely to be entirely unknown to future generations of mankind until situations similar to Love Canal occur.

Again, I am not stating that a new civilization that surpasses ours is impossible. It just seems unlikely (at least for the time-frame that you suggested) that one could successfully develop, given the issues I have described. I am sure that there are other human-introduced problems that I haven't thought of that this hypothetical civilization would need to address as well.

You make good points, Nevermore. A good many highly-educated people will tell you that human ingenuity is the ultimate resource. Because many of us have lived well without ever getting dirt under our nails, we have a cultural tendency to discount the importance of trees, soil, water and air.

Yes. That is what Fred Hoyle (astronomer and science fiction writer) said.

We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

Hoyle is not entirely right here, because plate tectonics will continue to dig up high-grade ore deposits for hundreds of millions of years to come, at least. Coal may not come back, however, because it was formed in a specific phase of Earth's development that may not return. Oil-generating periods may continue, as well.

But isn't plate tectonics going to wind down in a billion years or so? If it does, that means an end to unsustainable mining operations...

But isn't plate tectonics going to wind down in a billion years or so? If it does, that means an end to unsustainable mining operations...

By then the increase in solar luminosity will be such that the earth will cross the tipping point into a runaway greenhouse (like the planet Venus did early on), and life on the planet will be over.

In any case, it's a long wait for tectonics to bring new ores within reach. Enough time if we are waiting for a whole new species to evolve -if humans get included in extinction event number six. But, otherwise on a timescale relevant to a single extant species, tectonics won't be fast enough. I'm not worried about the fossil fuels, I believe we would have been better off without them. We would have developed wind/ water, and solar -although industrialism would have taken a lot longer to come about. But good sources of metals, and other nifty elements, I think these are more crucial than fossil fuels. We jumped on then, because they were a lot cheaper than continuing with wind/water etc, but simply would have developed what we had, and a lower energy lifestyle to go along with it.

3 Million years ago, we were barely evolved from a common ancestor with the apes; 500,000 years ago we were beginning to 'get with it,' and 100,000 years ago homo sapiens was living side by side with their cousins, the neanderthals. How absolutely typical of our hubris to neglect the present to consider what we will do in millions of years. We don't know that we will survive, and if we do it will not be in our present form. What will be a successful adaptation? Smarter, or stronger? Faster? Taller? Some animals have adapted by going back to the seas. Will we do that?

We need to plan for the next generation... PO will alter how many of us can be supported. The changes we know will occur will be devastating, including those from AGW. And, it simply does not matter a whit whether or not we like it, or how popular it is. E-M, BP, Texaco, Shell... they can spend all they want, and it will not impact nature. Science may be a year or two, or ten, off on when TSHTF, but so long as that oscilating air mover continues its revolutions, and the fecal material makes contact, denying it simply cannot stop it.

Both iron and coal are biogenic ores, with iron essentially bacteria dung and coal the remains of carbon-dense plants. Tectonics will reform neither.

And Hoyle was a real smart guy. It seems that the first people to notice things tend to be right. The individual thinker can see the problem clearest without the influence of group consensus thinking. M. King Hubbert noticed something important and followed the conclusions to the bitter (and obvious) end. People didn't want to believe something so horrible, so Hubbert's ideas were marginalized.

I first learned about global warming in a college freshman biology 101 course in 1980. I raised my hand and asked "Well if these types of positive feedback loops were to get started, what would stop them from getting worse and triggering a repeat of the Permean Die Off?" The answer was "Maybe nothing". I stayed interested in the topic over the years and watched as the IPCC got their watered down forecasts wrong time after time. Group consensus.

I think Niall Ferguson presents the best framework for understanding the collapse of complex adaptive systems in general. This supports the arguement that this collapse will be rapid and severe. John Michael Greer is just WRONG. As Jay Hanson would say "How could it be otherwise?".

I don't think Greer is wrong. Indeed, he uses many of the same examples Ferguson does. I think they just have different ideas of "fast" vs. "slow." Fifty years, for most people, is a very long time. For many alive now, it's longer than they'll have to worry about. Ferguson considers that a fast collapse.

I also think Ferguson is wrong about the causes of collapse. He doesn't seem to have any evidence. Tainter, OTOH, is quite convincing and offers a lot of evidence.

Ferguson does Jared Diamond a disservice as well. I don't think Diamond's book amounts to support for cyclical history. Quite the opposite, actually. Diamond argues that some societies have achieved long-term sustainability. He doesn't think decline and fall is inevitable.

To a very profound extent, they all remind me of the old joke about a bunch of blind men encountering an elephant. The future is unknowable, but we do know enough about trend lines, physical realities, and observed human and societal behavioral traits to make some inferences about the possible direction of the future. Greer, Ferguson, Tainter, Diamond, and others whose writings we have been discussing here all seem to be pointing in the same general direction, and that direction is downward. The exact shape and time scale that the downward trajectory will take is more uncertain, as is the ultimate outcome - when and where we bottom out. All of us speculate, but none of us really know for certain.

My position:

-I tend to doubt the worst possible outcome - the Olduvai Gorge, catastrophic collapse, doomer die-off - but don't discount it entirely. It is possible, I just am not yet convinced it is certain.
-Similarly, while I don't totally discount the optimistic visions of technocopians, I must say that they are running out of time. For those who forsee a nuclear-powered future, for example, it must be asked: why aren't the nukes already being built? We've left it very late, probably too late, and there seems little sign of the type of massive ramp-up that would be needed.
-I do think it is possible to have a severe decline/catabolic collapse and for life to still go on at the end, albeit at a much lower level of "complexity", energy use, and economic wealth. I don't know if that WILL happen, I do think it COULD happen, and I am inclined to think it is about the best possible case that we can reasonably hope for.
-I am very much doubtful that we are going to follow a smooth trajectory downward; more likely, it is going to be something of a zig-zag or stairstep affair. One or more of those steps downward are likely to be a doozey, and perhaps that one is what maps best to the sudden, but only partial, collapse that Ferguson is sketching out.
-At least as far as the US is concerned, I don't see how a regime change from the present constitutional government can be avoided (for reasons I have explained elsewhere here), unless there is some sort of mass reform movement that transforms our political culture, and quickly.

I agree about the bad joke we all find ourselves in the middle of. I, however, tend to believe the Olduvai Gorge, catastrophic collapse, doomer die-off senario. I think your post actually makes my arguement for me. Firstly, a die-off is not a complete die-out. You point out that the technocopians are running out of time. I agree. I would add that they are also running up against the laws of physics. I would also factor in the lack of any consensus about the nature of the problem and the absense of the requisite political will to act effectively (if we could even figure out what to do). You say that you "think it is possible to have a severe decline/catabolic collapse and for life to go on at the end". You also say that you doubt "that we are going to follow a smooth trajectory downward" and that one or more of the downward steps "are likely to be a doozey". That is, in fact, a very good description of the progression of the catastrophic collapse and die-off that characterize the Olduvai Theory. Embrace your inner doomer.

Possible, for sure. I just see the future as falling within a range of possibilities, and I become very sceptical when someone claims certain knowledge of what is, in fact, unknowable.

The "doozey" of a downward step I am talking about is more descriptive of a partial economic collapse combined with a regime change (which is, by definition, a collapse of the old regime). I would say that Orlov's account of what happened in the Soviet Union/Russia, and some of Ferguson's examples, fall in that category. These seem to me to be quantitatively and qualitatively different than some of the near-total societal collapses that Diamond describes, and that is implied in the "Olduvai Gorge" scenario. Either may happen, I just doubt that anyone really knows with any certainty. My focus is on the less extreme scenarios, which is why I call myself a "declinist" rather than a "doomer". I'm focused on those for several reasons:

1) I just find them to be way more interesting intellectually.

2) There have been plenty of examples of both partial decline and total catastrophic collapse. The former make for a rather dull and dreary tale, while the latter make for sensational reading. It is little wonder that it is the latter that capture the imagination and all the attention. That, it seems to me, is a big reason for the red warning flags to go up. Since I am naturally something of a sceptic and contrarian, I am inclined to suspect that the former are being discounted too much, and the latter given too much credence.

3) There is another red warning flag I am seeing with the doomer scenarios. There is much to dislike about our present society and economy and culture. There is a temptation amongst a certain sort of mindset to wish it all wiped away, so we can start afresh. There is this faith amongst such people that if we only wipe the slate clean, the start-over will turn out much better, maybe even resulting in utopia. One of sound and clear mind should run, not walk, away from such people.

4) I see the declinist scenarios as being potentially survivable. Survival through and following catastrophic collapse seems to me to be more than anything just a matter of luck. And, of course, the question must be asked whether survival into the aftermath is really something all that desirable anyway?

5) Finally, there is a way in which the doomer scenario, if widely believed to be inevitable, would in fact become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I don't know what our chances actually are of getting through with just a declinist rather than a doomer scenario, but I do know that it is worth hoping for, and doing what we can to try to make it happen.

Thanks for the post.

It's good to compare views. Everyone's picture of what could happen is likely to be different. But then again everyone's picture of what just happened and what's happening now will also be different. We are trying to describe the same thing. Like the blind men and the elephant.

I tend to think that the most doomerly forecasts were the original ones. I really like the simplicity of Duncan's curves and Hubbert's pimple. The basic physics and biology convinced me early on that this was going to be a very big problem. Therefore, I am much more likely to be skeptical of the proposed solutions.

I think your "doozy" step (Orlov's Soviet style) will just be the first step. It will seem like a hell of a drop, but once things settle out at some new lower energy level, we will still be left banging against the top of our Malthusian ceiling. From there our resourse base can only decline further (and rapidly). If something close to our current food supply cannot be maintained, famine will eventually result. The only way to step down is within the physical constraints of the system. The population has to fall.

Just mentioning these views in certain (actually most) situations will make a person terribly unpopular. That should tell you something very important about human nature. Group oneness will always trump truth. My dad doesn't believe in God, but he'd rather call himself an agnostic because of the social stigma of atheism. Are you sure there's really a difference between doomer and declinist?

As far as number 3 goes be careful not to overgeneralize doomers. I'm not so crazy about our current culture, but a social collapse and die-off is definitely less appealing to me. I just can't see how it can logically be avoided.

I agree that survival will be a matter of luck in any version. I don't think we will see a better world anytime soon (actually ever).

Number 5 is interesting. They way things are going, I don't think we will ever have to worry about everybody suddenly catching on. People haven't really caught on to Evolutionary Theory after more than 150 years. Yep, I'd say the great awakening would have to be the least of our worries.

In some John Michael Greer articles one could get the impression that the collapse might be so slow and gradual as to not even be noticed by most people living through it. This argument appeals to people for whom the idea of rapid collapse is unthinkable. We're going to have a collapse, just not as bad as those scary doomers say. Picking a less doomery style of doom is just a way to appeal to a wider audience and avoid the doomer tag. It's just another popularity contest. Also, collapses tend to be front loaded. A fifty year collapse might not seem so bad except that the first ten years will be way harder than the last ten.

Ferguson IS right about Jared Diamond. Jared Diamond writes a book called "COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". I'll bet if Jared Diamond wanted to simply call the book "Collapse", the publisher would have insisted on adding the sub-title. Got to sell those books. Gosh, if we can just aquire enough holistic wisdom we can simply choose not to collapse. We can really feel superior to the Greenland Norse who, in their primitive arrogance, were not clever enough to simply change their diets. Also, long term sustainability is a mythological (quasi-religious) concept foriegn to nature. Decline and fall IS inevitable in the lifecycle of natural systems. But hope is more appealing than the truth.

I guess Hoyle and Bernard Cohen didn't see eye-to-eye then.
uranium from seawater for 5 billion years
If we have that much energy, can we really not extract, recycle or create the materials we need?

Ah yes, a link to John McCarthy's site. Notice that all that uranium in sea water is produced with dollars. There's no mention of the amount of energy required to separate the uranium from the water. The great sounding calculation depends on the use of breeders, a technology which has not worked very well so far. Then too, without an EROEI calculation, the claims of such a massive uranium supply ring hollow, IMHO...

E. Swanson

Well the wikipedia article
quotes the Red Book
^ "Uranium Resources 2003: Resources, Production and Demand" (PDF). OECD World Nuclear Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency. 2008-03. p. 22. http://www.neutron.kth.se/courses/reactor_physics/NEA-redbook2003.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-23.

"At present, only laboratory-scale quantities have been extracted and the cost of extraction is estimated to be very high, on the order of USD 300/kg."

The Russians are selling BN-800s - China just bought two. It is likely that Russia will build the first prototype of the IFR:

"Barry Brook also took part in the ZCN/ SPA/AuSES debate, where Tom Blees described how negotiations with high level participation by the Obama administration are in progress to enable use of US IFR technology by Russia, China, India, South Korea and Japan. The most likely scenario is the construction of an IFR reactor in Russia, on account of Russia’s long development of breeder technology, and the relative ease of avoiding political opposition. An agreement with General Electric has been established to build such a plant. Among other potential applications, the Russians are interested in using IFRs to power pumps on pipelines taking Russian natural gas to the West."

A breeder needs 1 ton of U per year - at a cost of USD300,000 pa the fuel bill is cheap.

Even a CANDU could be run on U from seawater.
A 1GW CANDU needs 1000/680*84= 125 tons fuel (natural U) pa = USD37M/pa at 300/kg.
"680 M We used herein in early 1984. of CANDU-PHWR type" + "The amount of fuel replacements required annually is 84 tons of uranium."
At a 90% capacity factor and a selling price of 5c/kwh a 1GW CANDU generates 8000GWh pa at 5c/kwh = 8000*1000000*.05= $400 million pa revenue. So raw fuel cost would be 10% of revenue.

I have absolutely no insight into what might happen or what the shape of things might be 200+ years from now. That is all purely academic speculation. I can really only think with even the slightest degree of confidence on things that might happen within the lifetimes of people who are at this moment alive.

The US and indeed the entire developed world are in a terrible situation with unemployment at miserable levels and a great deal of justified fear that a new wave of economic problems (from Greece, Spain, central Europe) will cascade on us. But the immediate cause of this situation is the near failure of our financial structure, not peak oil, peak iron ore, peak phosphate, or any other "real" problems. Those peaks are real and will bite us, but they are not the current problem. What is lacking is the political will to: (1) get central banks, especially the ECB, to maintain and increase liquidity, and (2) get national governments, especially the US and German, to undertake the necessary deficit financing of stimulus spending. That last sentence compresses lot of economics but it is in a nutshell what is lacking and needed. Treasuries and central banks are following the Japanese approach of too little too late and will condemn the developed world to a lot of unnecessary misery for a long time. Meanwhile, the "real" issues that The Oil Drum rightly emphasizes will creep up on a world terribly handicapped by crippled economies. I have no hope. The fear of inflation at a time that the private sector is busy destroying wealth will dominate the developed world's response to the problem they face now. Interestingly, China has shown no such fear and has spent freely as necessary (not necessarily wisely, but that is secondary).

fitz - looks like you have been reg here for only a couple weeks. Perhaps you have been reading for longer but you would do well to read a lot more.

"Peak" is not so much purely a reference to quantity. We have for the most part used up all the cheap, easy, and highest quality of all these resources. That brings huge pressure onto the economy and in fact IMO, it IS the cause of what we are seeing in the global economy.

The world has generated millions of "smartest men in the room" who believe that the world revolves around finance and finance only. This has been very lucrative for them for a very long time but has never been very accurate or reality based.

Adapt or be darwinized.

Depart from us, Keynesian. I've heard your siren song before and have no intentions of ever again listening to it.

Yes, finance/economics is the problem at the top of the "in basket" right now. However, you've left out the biggest part of it. This problem developed primarilly because of crony capitalism. Governments (primarily, but not exclusively, the US) were captured by financiers, they were allowed to run rampant, got themselves into inevitable trouble, and then instead of the discipline of the market being allowed to run its inevitable and self-correcting course, they pulled the strings again and took over national treasuries to bail themselves out.

In other words, NOTHING that has been done over the past year or two has made the slightest bit of difference when it comes to actually correcting the real underlying problem. Nothing is on the table to actually correct things, either. Volker made a few promising suggestions, and was promptly marginalized and ignored.

Nothing in your proposed solutions will do it, either. Actually, it may well come closer to spraying gasoline on a fire.

I have no issue with the concept of "peak" oil or any other non replaceable natural resources. I understand the concept that production rates and costs are the real problem, not ultimate depletion. I have read The Oil Drum faithfully for some time. There is no question in my mind that peak oil (and other peaks) are beginning to bite and will really chew our legs off in the near future. Nor is there any question that real supervision of the financial world is desperately needed, 30 to 1 leverage is a passport to disaster. In fact a few prison sentences would probably help Wallstreet see a little more clearly. Nevertheless for John and Jane Doe the issue is how to get a job. I don't know about Europe, but in the US the burden has fallen on those at the bottom of the heap. For those in the lowest quintile the unemployment plus under employment rate is getting up toward 40%. Inflation is somewhere between zero and 0.5% and the government can borrow for 30 years for less than 4.5%. The Federal Reserve Bank can deal with inflation when it happens. With productive capacity way under used there is no crowding out of private borrowing when the government borrows. Its sad that Mr. Bush left the budget in such sad shape for dealing with the current crisis, but we don't get to choose our fights. Still, as I said, I have no hope.

Its because he can articulate it so very well. Reading JHK is akin to listening the Led Zeppelin in the 1970's. You are exposed to a man who era is NOW. And in the best sense he give voice to the unreality of what happening now.

Fla. deadliest state for walkers, cyclists

One could say that Florida is the most climate/terrain friendly state for pedestrians and cyclists (warm and flat) and perhaps there are simply more folks walking and biking (per capita). I live in an area that doubles its population in warmer months due to (mostly) Fla folks coming to their summer homes. While this does a lot for our economy, there is a running joke among the year-round locals: Florida folks are "driving challenged". They seem distracted. My personal (and objective) observation is that they simply don't watch where they're going.

IIRC, Portland has the largest # of cyclists - and Florida the biggest auto insurance premiums.

As a cyclist and Florida refugee, I have personal experience. The drivers are just plain stupid. They feel entitled to the entire road, and absolutely believe that if they hit a cyclist, it *is* the cyclist's fault. Unfortunately, they have been backed time and time again by law enforcement and the judicial system. A guy I used to ride with down there was killed by a driver who pulled in front of him one morning. Her excuse? The sun was in her eyes. She was facing *North* at 7AM. No charges.

I left, and vowed never again to live anywhere that the average ambient temperature in Fahrenheit exceeds the average IQ. I could go on for hours about the stuff that I personally experienced down there, in all areas of life. The place is whacked.

Could this be because of the many retired drivers? I know they tend to be slower, and more cautious, but older drivers by far have the greatest accident rates. The other factors sited seem to be pretty common in most of the rest of the country.

Could this be because of the many retired drivers?

Speaking as a retired driver, that would be my first guess. As you get older your reflexes slow down and your eyesight deteriorates. After a certain point you should junk the car, give up your driver's license, and take the bus. It's a safety issue for yourself and everyone else on the road.

Unfortunately, in much of Florida, taking the bus is probably not an option.

This is going to become an increasingly serious problem as the baby boomers such as myself continue to age. It should be an argument retired people should advance in demanding more public transit. If you can't drive any more, how else are you going to get around?

I don't think a lot of them have thought of this. They think they'll always be young.

I suspect some of it may have to do with unacknowlegded blind spots. My dad drove his car into a curb, because he wouldn't admit he had a large visual blind spot. In most cases these sorts of things develop slowly, and the brain simply fills in the missing pixels. So the driver thinks he is still capable, but he really isn't. And no one wants to tell him to quit, because that means a huge loss of independence.

There's a common problem in older people called macular degeneration which causes loss of vision in the center of the visual field. A lot of older people suffer from it (including my father and my wife's father). It sneaks up on people as they age, and they don't realize that they can't see very well anymore, at least not well enough to drive.

My father gave up his drivers license at 90. He decided he was too old, he couldn't see well enough, and his reflexes were too slow. A lot of older people won't admit they aren't as good drivers as they were when they were younger - but mostly its a denial of reality. (My father is a realist).

And there will be a time when I have to give up driving. Maybe at 90, like my father. Even Trapper Jerry is probably going to have to stop skiing the double black diamond runs when he gets into his 90s.

In the evenings, join the fun at the Mad Trapper saloon, named after Trapper Jerry, a Sunshine legend, that is still skiing double black diamond runs at 87 years old.

The ski patrol takes Trapper Jerry down Delirium Dive every year on his birthday, except on years when they can't get the avalanche situation under control. It's a local tradition.

Caveat: They don't allow you to Do the Dive without an avalanche transceiver, shovel, probes and a buddy to dig you out after you get buried. A lot of people have been killed in these here mountains, and it's really annoying when their next-of-kin complain that they weren't warned. You have been warned.

They are retired workers, but should still be diligent, active drivers - or get off the road.

Mind you - my partner and I have four parents between us over 85, and three of them still drive ... something of a miracle I guess, but I make sure I always take the wheel whenever there's a trip on to somewhere and I'm there - even the local shops. But the point is a good one - without their cars, and with quite compromised mobility, they would be really stuck if they had to use public transport (even though it isn't bad here - but it is crowded and tough for people with walking difficulties - particularly steps).

And we Boomers are going to be a total menace on the roads in our dotage ... just you wait and see.

Florida folks are "driving challenged

I have had the unfortunate displeasure of needing to drive much more than usual over the past few weeks in the greater Miami area and can attest to the fact that Florida drivers are among the absolute worst in the world! Note: I have actually driven all over the world and hold a commercial driver's license.

It seems that traffic has also increased over the past few months after what seemed to be a significant decrease. Part of that could be due to our annual snow bird migration.
A number of shovel ready road building projects are now or will soon be underway to make matters worse, not better.

Here is one example of the extreme shortsightedness of our leaders


The $1.2 billion project to rebuild Interstate 595 will soon be under way.

Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday announced that the Florida Department of Transportation has signed an agreement with ACS Infrastructure Development Inc., a Spanish construction conglomerate.

The project, which could be complete by 2014, it will be Florida's first public-private road deal. It will provide South Florida with a significant economic boost, pumping up to $1 million a day into the economy.

The course of empire is very similar to the growth and decline of the human body. People may be obese, eat all the wrong foods, and rarely exercise, and yet they continue to live. There are little warning signs, like a bit of angina or early diabetes, but it is only when all the individual health problems add up that disaster finally strikes, like a massive heart attack, and the final abrupt decline to inevitable death begins. At that point they often begin to change their habits, but it is usually too late. Very few people are able to decide against unhealthy but pleasurable habits when young, and so most do not live as long as their genes would allow. Since an empire is the sum of the decisions of millions of people, it seems that a similar process will also occur in society, as Niall Ferguson documents. Fortunately, while all the cells in a body are destroyed when death occurs, individuals in a society can choose to break away and form new groups in order to survive the collapse of empire.

Nice analogy, V!

Indeed a nice analogy.

There are little warning signs, like a bit of angina or early diabetes,

Rising oilprices. Other warning signs like more countries losing their oilexport status remain unnoticed.

but it is only when all the individual health problems add up that disaster finally strikes, like a massive heart attack

With too many countries past peak oilproduction starting to go down.

On the other hand, if the death of individuals and of societies/empires (and the human species) is inevitable, then much as we might be tempted to search for a way to avoid it (the vain search for the fountain of eternal youth is perhaps the archetype for this), true wisdom and maturity consists of accepting this inevitability, and instead focusing oneself on making the best of our limited time on this planet. Living well, in other words, rather than a vain and futile attempt to live longer.

The US has had a good run, but it is not going to last forever in its current form. We are already one of the oldest continuous governments on Earth, and the handwriting is on the wall: government paralysis due to factional infighting, festering and building problems, debt that can only be serviced by rolling over and incurring even more debt, a military that is continually expanding and getting bogged down in more and more endless conflicts on the periphery, and a culture that has descended into increasing decadence. Even without peak oil, our days would surely be numbered. Regime change is coming, and I don't mean the usual change out of one set of demopublicans for another set of demopublicans; I mean a change from the present system of government under the present constitution. I don't know what form this regime change will take, or when it will occur, or if it will happen before, after, or concurrently with US imperial collapse (which may be "sudden" only in the sense of playing out over a decade or two instead of centuries).

Life will go on. North America will continue to exist, there will be people living here, they will be organized under some sort of governing regime, and some sort of economy will function at some level - almost certainly at a level of lower "complexity" (to use Tainter's terminology), and thus a level of lower per capita energy use and a lower level of per capita GDP.

Very few people are able to decide against unhealthy but pleasurable habits when young, and so most do not live as long as their genes would allow.

Yes ... but they usually live long enough to reproduce ... most of the lifestyle things that kill us do so after we have done pumping out kids.

One Small Step Department:

Breaking ground on an urban farm for the needy on Beacon Hill

Just to brighten things up around here I thought I'd post some news that reflects the positive changes occurring in people's desire to do something genuinely meaningful and connect with community.

Best hopes for community gardening!

-- Jon

None of the needy I ever see on Beacon Hill are going to be interested unless they're growing fortified wine. Or crack.

I have been "researching" (in a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey kind of way)the state of natural gas here in the good ole USA. I am even more confused than I was when I started.

I'm not asking for investments purposes, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my heating situation at home. Most homes in the area - lower great lakes region - use NG for heat. Is that sustainable for the short to mid range? I am just trying to stay on top of the ball as we roll who knows where.

I know this is more of an info blog not a question and answer site. But I figured some folks more in the know then me have a good opinion to share.

Thanks for your help.

I don't know what your time frame is, but NG will be a readily available energy supply for at least the next 50 years. Why, because the US has the resource, the know-how to produce it and the infrastructure to deliver it.

Just better hope that we don't decide to keep a couple hundred million cars worth of happy motoring going with the stuff.

I'm in Alberta, so I'm even more interested than you are.

We're going to try and diversify. Keep NG, but add in a small wood stove in the basement for emergencies (even a couple of small electric plug in heaters for more diversification). All the while improving the insulation, windows, and doors, etc.

Thanks to both you and steve for replying, I appreciate it.

You are right about the diversification; best we can do with the unknowable future. I have been researching wood burning stoves for the past few weeks.

All I can say is thank god for soalr panels. First on my list. Starting to think I should foret paying down debt and put those on the credit card. :)

Someone asked me to pass along this information about a job opening.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working to develop a new market mechanism to reduce oil imports and to enhance energy security within the Asian region, which is the most rapidly expanding market for oil in the world.

We are looking to bring on board a person with experience and interest in this topic. The details on the project and the new position can be found at this link.

I hope no one misses the phrase, "working to develop a new market mechanism".

Yes, that's right folks, like God, the market is a product of evolution, and a social product at that.

Here's the essence of the project from the Terms of Reference PDF:

The TA will explore an innovative idea – treating energy security as a public good that can be valued and translated into cash flow. More specifically, it will explore the feasibility of establishing a new commodity – Fuel Security Credits (FSCs) – that would monetize the contribution of oil consumption management measures to energy security. Through trading of this new commodity, DMCs can access additional funds to implement alternative policies, technologies, systems and fuels that would not otherwise make the most financial sense...

This sounds like an oil (or fuel) tax which will be used to pay for sufficient military power to provide energy "security". Quite like my idea of paying for that share of US military spending which supports our oil imports by imposing a large gas tax. Gotta love those economists, who apparently think everything can be solved by creating a market for the problem. Aren't our present problems with markets big enough to give one pause about this plan too?

E. Swanson

Great - and then let's see if the TA can figure out a way to derivativize our FSCs and make them more like CDSs or better yet MBSs...

Blah blah blah - haven't we had enough of these scams and financial "innovations" that go by these harmless sounding little acronyms or abbreviations but are the financial equivalent of a tsunami.

What could possibly go wrong...?

Through trading of this new commodity, DMCs can access additional funds to implement alternative policies, technologies, systems and fuels that would not otherwise make the most financial sense...

Would a DMC be a Dead Money Country? I did quite a lot of work for the Asian Development Bank in the late 1980s ... there is no bureaucracy like a Pacific Nation bureaucracy, I can tell you. We always seem to work on the principle of "... that would not otherwise make the most financial sense ..."


It seems that a highly unionized, highly taxed, welfare state is the best model for a successful industrial economy.

We'll have to wait and see if this model is best suited for the forced transition from fossil fuels.

Or maybe a highly profitable and expert industrial base can support a highly-taxed welfare state.

Probably not outsourcing all expert jobs and replacing them with menial service jobs is better than what the US has done -- no argument there.

Well, let's take the example of the US. It had a very profitable industrial base, which was quite highly unionized, though never to the extent of German industry. There was a great deal of expertise in US industry. Under Eisenhower and even later, the income tax system was much more progressive, imposing very, very high taxes on the richest earners.

But, oh dear. The unions were emasculated. The tax rate on high earners were cut drastically. The welfare state, never much of an example, became an increasing pathetic, tattered reflection of systems in other industrial countries.
Deregulation of everything and kicking welfare bums in the ass was sold as the road to prosperity.

And for some, it has been.

We still have some highly unionized industries. Unfortunately, the unions have driven them into the ground.

Germany has a growing national debt, it is expected to be well over 100% debt to gdp ratio in a few years. The welfare state cannot be sustained.

As usual the conservatives are full of poppy-cock.

The German national debt is $2.4 trillion, the GDP is $3.5 trillion and the national deficit is a modest $24.7 billion dollars. At that rate it would take 44.5 years; $3500 billion-$2400 billion /$24.7 billion = 44.5.

USA under Republican/conservative rule has produced a $12.4 trillion dollar debt, the current GDP is $14.4 trillion and the annual budget deficit is $1.4 trillion. At this rate it will take less than 2 years until the debt to GDP ratio exceeds 100%.

The real welfare state conservatives are hiding is welfare for the rich in the form of insane tax cuts and other ways of 'avoiding' justified taxation for the last 9 years.
This is the welfare state that cannot be sustained.

As a sobered and humbled former liberal, now libertarian, I'd argue that modern welfare state liberalism, and the massive pampered middle classes that go along with it, are a byproduct of the surplus energy of the fossil fuel age, and are thereby doomed to extinction eventually. Even a cursory reading of history informs that inequality and competition are, in fact, the basis of all human society and culture. Tamper with that at your peril. The Austrian school and our classically liberal founders had it right.

I don't necessarily wish that were the case. I don't wish there to be a such a thing as war, for instance...but yet there it is, for all to see.

One simplistic counter argument might be that if there were less military spending, there would be less war. And, if the US were to lower our military spending, the rest of the world might feel less threatened and thus less inclined to spend as much for their military. Remember that the $700 Billion or so we are spending on our War Department represents an amount larger than the sum of the next 10 countries combined...

E. Swanson

If you believe that inequality and competition are the basis of all human society and culture, then it would appear that your reading of history has indeed been cursory.

Even a cursory reading of history informs that inequality and competition are, in fact, the basis of all human society and culture. Tamper with that at your peril. The Austrian school and our classically liberal founders had it right.

Sounds like the fascist economist Pareto.

Vilfredo had argued that democracy was an illusion and that a ruling class always emerged and enriched itself. For him, the key question was how actively the rulers ruled. For this reason he called for a drastic reduction of the state and welcomed Benito Mussolini's rule as a transition to this minimal state so as to liberate the "pure" economic forces.


When libertarians appeal to history, it's because they don't know any.

To add to your point - Thom Hartmann loves to bring up the issue of when (and why) the tide really turned in the US:

Pre-Reagan (~pre 1981) the US was the largest importer of raw materials and the largest exporter of finished goods in the world.

Post-Reagan (~post 1988) these figures had completely reversed - US became largest exporter of raw materials and largest importer of finished goods.

The first 2 articles above concerning new oil shipments to Asia from West Africa and KSA are consistent with Westexas's export concerns. These articles also blow a big hole in the "peak demand" theory (1.4 m/b/d of new demand.)
In addition on SGS John Williams site he reports that the Treasury has finally released its GAAP report for 2009. It finds total US obligations of $71 trillion on a GAAP basis (5 x GDP). This is unsustainable, the Republicans want power so they can protect the rich from paying their fair share of taxes. The Democrats are "deers caught in the headlights" and unable to get in front of this elephant. There isn't any inflation, taxes, benefit cuts or growth that can fix this problem. In this political climate, nobody in Washington or Wall Street will accept responsibility and propose any fair attempt to correct this gross imbalance.

That's one thing I've been pointing out (top articles). Now compound that demand for 1.4 billion Chinese and 1.1 in India with 2010 growth rates of 11% and 8.75% (not to mention the other emerging markets) and then what if we add a few years of compounding.

"Chindia's" combined net oil imports increased at 9%/year from 2005 to 2008, from 4.6 mbpd to 6.0 mbpd (EIA), resulting in their net imports, as a percentage of total net exports from the (2005) top five net oil exporters, increasing from 19% to 27% in just three years.

heh-heh! defcon 1 is off his rocker. inciting violence. well, he is a doomer. and he calls other people nazis.

the only course of action that will prevent PO is the reduction of wages and benefits and the elimination of soc. sec. one must pander to TPTB and BAU if one doesnt personally want the reduction and elimination. it's only for those not elite.

have you reduced your lifestyle today? if you didnt, did you reduce someone else's?

to wit:
Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) "....which pays him $8.37 an hour and, he says, runs “a pretty fair program.”

Dying at 49

Almost all the workers he meets are legal, living locally or commuting across the Mexican border each day. He finds no “glaring abuses” of workers. Yet few can escape the fields, or reach retirement age in them. Life expectancy is 49. "

"no one gets out of here alive"-greetings from the humungus

"it's all good"-anon.

Re: Dying at 49

Where did this dying at 49 number come from?

If you look at the Wikipedia page List of countries by life expectancy you find that according to the United Nations, Mexico has the 48th longest life expectancy in the world at 76.2 years, whereas the US has the 34th longest life expectancy at 78.1 years. It's not what I would call a substantial difference.

The global leaders in life expectancy are:

1. Japan 82.6 years
2. Hongkong 82.2
3. Iceland 81.8
4. Switzerland 81.7
5. Australia 81.2

Canada, which is where I live, ranked 11th at 80.7 years.

The countries with life expectancies of 49 years or less are all in Africa, excepting Afghanistan.

I had an interesting discussion with a restaurant owner in La Paz, Baja California Sur, about wages. Mexican workers were travelling to Canada to work in the lettuce fields. They were getting about $8.50 per hour, and he pointed out by Mexican standards, this was a good wage. The thing from the Mexican perspective was that they got free board and room, and it was basically $8.50 per hour in their pocket. They would go up, work the fall harvest, and come back with a big wad of pesos to feed their wife and family for the winter. 85.00 pesos per hour! Yahoo!

Of course these were legal workers because Canada doesn't see very many illegal Mexican immigrants. (The largest group of illegal immigrants to Canada are Americans).

Canada, which is where I live, ranked 11th at 80.7 years.

It must be that horrible socialist medical system.
I also see you have a lower infant mortality rate.
This data must be liberal lies!
We know the Free Market is the Chosen Path, and Capital is God!

That's 80.7 Canadian years - probably much less in USA equivalent years when you factor in the exchange rate...

The "49" was a claim in the Bloomberg article specifically for the field workers. So it need not have much to do with national life expectancy. But the article doesn't say where they got it from.

Judging by reader comments, this isn't playing all that well in Peoria...

NSP’s bright idea will cost you
Company to charge $2 more a month to fund conservation programs

NOVA SCOTIANS will have to dig deeper in their pocketbooks to pay their power bills with the rollout of almost $42 million in energy conservation programs in 2011, according to a proposed plan released by Nova Scotia Power on Friday.

Under the proposal, the company’s 440,000 residential customers will pay $4 a month to the fund the programs, an increase of $2 per month, said Alan Richardson, vice-president of Nova Scotia Power’s customer service.

The utility is seeking approval of its proposal from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. If successful, Nova Scotia Power’s energy conservation budget would increase to $41.9 million next year from $22.6 million in 2010.


One of the most successful programs has been the small business lighting retrofit... **BLUSH**

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1169763.html

Best hopes for greater understanding and more reasoned dialog.


Well, the thing is that rightly or wrongly, simple intuition would suggest that if the conservation programs were really such a wonderful money-saving elixir, then they ought to enable a rate decrease or at least stability. Instead, while they're promoted as saving money, they visibly impose what will look to most people like an extra deadweight cost of $4 per month. Hence, at the very minimum, Nova Scotia Power has a significant PR problem...

Hi Paul,

No question, the benefits are not well understood and more must be done to address this. Simply put, if load continues to grow unabated, we're looking at a billion dollar coal-fired power plant and the financial impact of that would be far more detrimental, as you can well appreciate.


The conservation levy should be a % of the bill, or an amount per kWh, which amounts to the same thing. That way, the people/companies who DO conserve pay less of the tax. Like any "behaviour" tax, the real idea should be to encourage people to minimise/avoid it by doing certain things, in this case conservation.

If someone reduces their usage by half, they have certainly done their job, and should not still be paying the same tax to support those that haven't.

As someone who has designed water rates to encourage conservation, I am firmly of the opinion that the two best things that can be done (with rates) to encourage conservation are;
1. Increasing tier or block rates, so the more you use, the more expensive each kWh becomes. Thus you get the best payoff for conservation, as you save the most expensive electricity
2. Day/night peak and off peak rates. These have been commonplace for all households in Australia, NZ and Britain (and probably Europe) for decades. When everyone knows that the price halves after 10pm, it's a great incentive to run things like the dishwasher/washing machine at night, use night store heaters, have electric hot water heaters with different setpoints (i.e. overheat at night). My uncle had a timeclock on his hot water so it would only come on from 10pm to 7am, and they never ran out of hot water.

I managed the electric (and water) utilities at a BC ski resort for several years, and we participated in a major trial of peak/off peak rates, and it is amazing how much load can be shifted, when you start to look for it.

If the peak rates mean that you can take 10-15% off the peak and shift it to off peak, that not only delays new generation, but gives the utility the option of running peaking plants in off peak, or buying off peak power, whichever is more favourable. It also delays expansion to transmission lines etc.

In short, it makes the best use possible of the existing equipment, much of which runs at 50% capacity factor.

Putting a fixed conservation levy is an attention grabber, but provides little reward for the conservers. Change the rate structure so that they can buy it for 50% off, or 50% more (i.e. 150% of current rates) and then just watch what happens - not only will load shift but total usage will decrease, as the load shifting exercise makes all customers examine their usage, and find things that can be turned off altogether.

Hi Paul,

The article is rather misleading in this respect. The author writes "Under the proposal, the company’s 440,000 residential customers will pay $4 a month to the fund the programs..." which suggests a flat fee. If the author had worded it more along the lines of "a typical residential customer will pay, on average, $4.00 per month..." it would have been far less confusing. I can confirm that the "Energy Efficiency Programs" charge on my last statement is $0.00193 per kWh and the total amount over the 63-day billing cycle came to $2.53. A coffee and donut at the local Tim Horton's could easily cost more than this.

I wish Nova Scotia Power would follow Ontario's example and implement universal time of use metering, but I expect that's something quite far down the road. Currently, TOU rates are available only to customers with ETS heating systems (approximately six or seven thousand households at present time, if my memory is correct). Greater energy efficiency + TOU/real-time pricing and a more intelligent grid + additional renewable energy would all help reduce our dependency upon coal.



That is better, though it always annoys me that they dumb it down to the "average customer" better to say 0.193c/kWh and let the customers work it out - then they will begin to understand their electric rates, and try to become a "below average" customer". After all, when talking gasoline, everyone understands $/L or $/gal, and no one needs to talk about the increase to the "average driver.

They could easily increase the uptake of TOU, if they wanted to, you just do two things;
1. Offer it to anyone who wants to switch over, and pay a nominal fee for the meter change ($2-300)
2. Require all new accounts to be TOU, so whenever a house is built, or sold, it has to go on TOU.

If the utility really wanted to do it quickly, they could do it quickly. And the sooner they do, the better for NS.

Here in BC, if they achieved nothing other than shifting load from peak to off peak, the province could make over a billion dollars a year from exporting the peak power to Alberta/US. That is a much better way to fund schools and health care than a tax increase.

Hi Paul,

I agree. If it were my call, I would say customers will pay an additional two-tenths of a cent per kWh to fund these initiatives and leave it at that, but I guess you have to be a little more provocative to sell newspapers.

I would gladly pay a higher meter charge to switch to TOU as it's pretty easy for us to shift a good chunk of our load off-peak. It makes good sense for all concerned. However, NSP would be accused of trying to screw the customer and I can appreciate why they might be a bit gun shy at the moment.


As HereinHalifax notes, the situation is not as simple as it seems.

The price of electricity is usually the sum of many inputs, that is, many generating sources. Some of those sources were constructed decades ago and thus represent a low cost supply in today's dollars. As those plants age and must be replaced with new power plants, the effect is a steady increase in the cost of electricity to the consumer. Programs to implement energy conservation measures can minimize the need for newer plants, thus reducing the rate of increase in the price the consumer pays for what is used. Conservation measures can also reduce the amount the consumer uses, further reducing her bills below what they would have been under the traditional approach of blindly building ever more generation capacity to meet demand...

E. Swanson

Hi Eric,

Nova Scotia Power is heavily dependent upon coal and petcoke and a number of these plants are inching ever closer to retirement. In addition, the Province is imposing increasingly more stringent emission standards (NOx, SO2, Hg and GHG) and it will be difficult and costly to bring these existing facilities into compliance. The writing is on the wall.

Nova Scotia Power's 2009 Integrated Resource Plan calls for coal-fired generation to fall from just under 8,000 GWh/year in 2011 to less than 4,000 GWh in 2032, with the largest drop occurring between 2017 and 2019. By that point, DSM is projected to supply between 5,000 and 6,000 GWh of total demand, which is forecast to be just over 14,000 GWh. That's a radical transformation of the utility's business model and I wish them Godspeed.

Source: http://www.nspower.ca/site-nsp/media/nspower/2009%20IRP%20UPDATE%20-%20F...


"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of
men living together in society, they create for
themselves in the course of time a legal system that
authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it"

Frederic Bastiat - The Law

Just prior to the French Revolution