Drumbeat: March 3, 2010

The Peak Oil Crisis: China’s Year of the Tiger

With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly likely that the future of our gasoline prices and consequently our economic well-being over the next few years will be determined by what happens with China's economy.

For over 30 years, China's GDP has grown at an unprecedented 10 percent a year allowing for the absorption of 15 million new workers into the labor force annually. Much of this growth has been supported by ever-increasing exports as China converted itself from a backwards agricultural nation to the center of world manufacturing.

Mexico replaced 74.9% of oil and gas reserves

Mexico discovered new proven oil and gas reserves sufficient to replace 74.9% of production last year, according to a preliminary estimate released by state-owned Pemex today.

Gazprom says LNG can compete with shale

Russian monopoly Gazprom expects liquefied natural gas shipments to compete with rising output of shale gas in the US as the Russian producer aims to expand into the world’s biggest energy market.

“Shale gas and LNG are competitive in one price range,” Gazprom exec Alexander Medvedev said in an interview in Paris yesterday.

“The market will say who will be in the market and with what.”

Exxon Urges U.K. to Keep Open Gas Market as EU Trading Expands

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. energy company, said European natural-gas spot markets are growing and lawmakers in Britain and elsewhere shouldn’t make changes that threaten their progress.

“We’re seeing continued evolution to more trading at hubs on the Continent,” Richard Guerrant, Exxon’s director of Europe, Russia and the Caspian, said in an interview in Amsterdam yesterday. “All the reforms we’ve put in place over many years in Europe are starting to have an impact.”

Petrobras Offering May Reach $40 Billion, BNDES Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, may raise as much as $40 billion in its planned share sale, the head of the country’s national development bank said.

OPEC Likely to Hold Output Steady

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to keep crude output quotas unchanged at their March 17 meeting in Vienna as oil prices remain at satisfactory levels, a senior Gulf official said Wednesday.

"The prices are within OPEC's preferred range of $70 to $80 per barrel and if they stay the same until the meeting, we won't see any change in output," the official told Zawya Dow Jones.

Clinton Hopes To Change Brazil's Mind On Iran Sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Brazil today and although the stop is just one of six on her Latin American tour, her agenda in Brasilia sets it apart from all the others.

Clinton has made no secret of the fact that her top priority in Brazil is to convince President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to drop his opposition to a new round of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council.

The price of Pakistan’s generation shortfall

In Pakistan, the days of doing business by candlelight are far from over.

Power cuts in many areas of the country last as long as 16 hours every day, and consumers will be paying about 45 per cent more for electricity by the end of this month compared with last year as government subsidies are withdrawn. Ending the power subsidy might help the country get US$6 billion (Dh22.03bn) of loans from the IMF, but it will deeply hurt the people of Pakistan.

The country’s demand for electricity doubles about every 10 years, which implies that ensuring enough supply is essential for the economy to stay afloat, at least in theory. With a population of more than 170 million, this South Asian nuclear-armed nation is the world’s sixth-largest consumer market by population and a place of interest for many international investors.

Utility cut power hours before fatal Detroit house fire

Detroit -- DTE Energy removed a gas meter and shut off electrical service at a west-side house hours before a fire ripped through the home Tuesday evening, killing three young children and injuring two other young siblings.

A meter reader noticed energy was being used at the house Tuesday afternoon on the 4900 block of Bangor near West Grand Boulevard and the service was cut, DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons said.

Service was not legally on at the house since Dec. 11, Simons said. On that day, a previous resident moved and asked that service be shut off. No one had signed up to have service since then, Simons said.

Warning biofuel targets may hit oil supply

Today's biofuels targets risk causing another oil supply crunch in the middle of this decade, a key report for the international energy ministers' meeting in Mexico this month has warned.

The report, which will be a central topic for discussion at the summit, says there is an "urgent need" to review existing biofuel policies. It says targets to boost the use of biofuels create uncertainty over future oil demand, and so ran the risk of prompting oil-producing countries to cut investments in projects needed to ensure sufficient oil supply once the world emerges from recession.

N. Koreans Need Food and Fuel, Not Trees

Each year for a day in North Korea, every able-bodied person, from children to senior citizens, is mobilized to plant trees. Under the leadership of municipal or provincial forestry officials, schools, businesses and other institutions in individual districts are allotted parcels of mountain sides where they are ordered to plant trees. Each North Korean has to carry larch, big cone pine and acacia trees on their back and plant them in paddy fields and barren patches of mountains.

Even before the 1990s when North Korea's food shortage worsened, many farmers cut down trees to create illegal paddy fields. Forestry officials make it a point to plant trees first in the illegal paddies, destroying the crops. Farmers pull the trees up again only to have to replant them on tree-planting day the following year. This process is repeated every year.

Shortages of food and energy in North Korea have turned the country's mountains into barren wastelands, and more and more people are cutting down trees for firewood, while most of the trucks in the North run on charcoal.

Baker says more Iraqi oil good for stability

Iraq’s expected transformation into one of the world’s top oil producers will improve the Gulf’s stability and US energy security, a former US secretary of state says.

James Baker, who served most recently as the head of an official panel to critique US strategy in Iraq, said yesterday that Iraq’s drive to increase oil output would allow it to become a “more stable and peaceful country”, and would not lead to the economic rivalry with other oil producers that some analysts had predicted.

Russian Eurobond ‘Makes No Sense’ With Oil High, Troika Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russia doesn’t need to borrow abroad at current oil prices and doing so would encourage wasteful spending, ultimately hampering the country’s recovery, Troika Dialog said.

For the Russian economy “external borrowing does not make any sense,” Evgeny Gavrilenkov, Troika’s chief economist, wrote in a research note today. Foreign borrowing “would not only set a new benchmark for the bond market, but it would also create a new ‘benchmark’ for public expenditures.”

A riddle, a rant, and the virtues of natural gas

What's the most pragmatic, pro-American, pro-jobs, bipartisan, economically feasible, environmentally-sound piece of legislation before congress right now?

If you said Health Care, go stick your head in an oven...its the Natural Gas Act aka HR 1835!

Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal

Iraq, not nuclear weapons, is the fundamental issue between Iran and the United States. Iran wants to see a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq so Iran can assume its place as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. The United States wants to withdraw from Iraq because it faces challenges in Afghanistan — where it will also need Iranian cooperation — and elsewhere. Committing forces to Iraq for an extended period of time while fighting in Afghanistan leaves the United States exposed globally. Events involving China or Russia — such as the 2008 war in Georgia — would see the United States without a counter. The alternative would be a withdrawal from Afghanistan or a massive increase in U.S. armed forces. The former is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is an economic impossibility.

Therefore, the United States must find a way to counterbalance Iran without an open-ended deployment in Iraq and without expecting the re-emergence of Iraqi power, because Iran is not going to allow the latter to happen. The nuclear issue is simply an element of this broader geopolitical problem, as it adds another element to the Iranian tool kit. It is not a stand-alone issue.

Carbon finance and the real world... will the US$ still exist in 2020?

What better way to deal with the ever-growing, perhaps untreatable debt crisis of the former rich nations in the OECD group of countries, and deal with high priced oil, than to print and issue a new irredeemable paper and electronic fiat money ? Oil producers, like energy consumers in the rich or formerly rich countries, and any creditor to these countries will have to get used to carbon money, because it is the Only Solution.

One Global Government

Remember that Great Recession? Combined with the dual hammer of Global Warming and Peak Oil, the coming economic turmoil can only be worse, much worse. I have already lamented the "canary in the coalmine" position of my State of Hawaii.

That is the fatal flaw of our society: we just cannot make any necessary decisions until it is too late. The resultant agony from another global depression, attack of aliens from Mars or some truly deadly virus, appears to be necessary before united action can be galvanized.

The Infinite Energy Machine and the Myth of Green Energy

What if we suddenly had access to unlimited clean energy? Would that be a good thing, or would we simply use it to complete the biocidal program of industrial civilization? This little thought experiment suggests that our problem as a civilization is not lack of energy – it is lack of imagination, humility, and empathy. The core is rotten. We must find a better way.

Coal Wastes To Serve As Fertilisers

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan (Bernama) -- For over 50 years of the existence of local coal deposits, millions of tonnes of coal wastes have accumulated around open-pit mines but officials in the city of Yekibastuz have found a solution to one of this most acute city problems, reports Kazakhstan's Khabar news agency.

From now, these wastes "serve" as fertilizers.

Valeriy Yudin, fertiliser production director, said obvious results could be seen in the spring wheat fields where the volume of gluten increased by 25.5 per cent and the amount of grain also increased.

Fuel Taxes Must Rise, Harvard Researchers Say

To meet the Obama administration’s targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, some researchers say, Americans may have to experience a sobering reality: gas at $7 a gallon.

To reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the cost of driving must simply increase, according to a forthcoming report by researchers at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

The 14 percent target was set in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for fiscal 2010.

Sault filmmaker rides the rails

"One hundred years ago, when we were connecting this country by rail, the rest of the world was in awe. Now, 100 years later in this economic downturn we're the only country that's not investing heavily in rail. How did we get to that?"

BP to Start Building Three U.S. Wind Farms This Year and Next

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, which has eight wind farms in the U.S., will start building three more in 2010 and 2011 as it expects to begin profiting from the operations this year.

Oil demand threatened by big shift to green policies

Green energy policies in the US and China could spell the end of growth in global oil demand, countering a widely held belief that the value of oil will only rise in the future, a US think tank says.

The new policies under consideration in the world’s biggest oil-consuming countries leave the UAE and other Gulf exporters in a difficult position as they weigh investments of billions of dollars in new oilfields and export terminals.

Proposed policies that target carbon emissions by shifting energy sources away from oil and other fossil fuels are some of the most important variables in the oil markets, said Amy Myers, an energy expert at Rice University’s James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy in Texas, which will publish a major study on the topic this year.

The last days of economic growth

Forsberg is very aware of peak oil, and behind his criticism of the growth cult there stands a man with an eye on the global and national energy situation, and with full knowledge of the fact that we will move towards more and more expensive energy in the coming decades. I happen to agree with Forsberg about much of what he writes, and when I read the book it felt like he had managed to beautifully formulate what I myself - with peak oil as a starting point - tentatively had begun to write about elsewhere. Therefore, this text will basically be an abstract of Forsberg’s book, even though I basically only treat selected parts of the book.

The cover photo (above) shows a picture of Las Vegas, an impossible city that may also serve as a metaphor for an impossible society and an unsustainable civilization. Las Vegas shines, flashes, beeps and sounds 24/7. A completely artificial environment where nifty watchmakers have even managed to "stop time" in order to entice guests to stay and gamble some more. And no one is cheated as all actors willingly play their roles on the Las Vegas scene while at the same time, this city in the middle of the desert, is a fragile colossus on clay feet, a city that could not exist without enormous subsidies of energy, food and water.

As Saudis court Asia, U.S. thirst for Canada's oil grows deeper

Saudi Arabia is increasingly targeting its oil exports to fast-growing Asian economies, and Canadian producers are picking up the slack as Saudi exports to the U.S. tumble.

Pemex to Pump 60,000 Barrels of Oil at Chicontepec

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, said it aims to almost double crude production to 60,000 barrels of oil a day at the onshore Chicontepec field by year-end as it seeks to boost output.

The Mexico City-based company may drill 505 wells at Chicontepec this year, down from 794 wells in 2009, Carlos Morales, Pemex’s head of exploration and production, said on an earnings conference call today.

Mercedes Doubles ‘Green’ Spending in Battery Battle

(Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit, the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars, will almost double investment on “green” technologies to take on BMW in the race to offer electric vehicles.

20% of Denmark’s energy needs supplied by wind power

Denmark is home to the largest offshore wind farm in the world and gets the highest proportion of its energy from wind turbines. Wind power in Denmark is sourced not only from large corporations like DONG Energy, but also from small cooperatives and individual or family-owned turbines.

Sweden to build 2,000 new wind turbines: minister

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Sweden will build 2,000 new wind turbines over the next decade as part of a bid to dramatically increase its production of renewable energy, Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson said Tuesday.

"Sweden has extremely good prospects for rapidly increasing the production of renewable energy, especially from the burning of biofuels, cogeneration plants and windpower," Olofsson wrote in a newspaper column.

Drafting a detailed plan for rare metals

The stable procurement of rare metals is directly related to the future survival of companies that produce high-tech products and will be the key to strengthening the competitiveness of Korea’s mainstay industries. Demand for high-tech products is rising rapidly, particularly due to a rise in consumption of rare metals. At the same time, supply conditions are aggravated due to the rising cost of exploration and mining as well as mounting geopolitical risks. With lingering concerns over the “weaponization” of rare metals by key countries, strategic approaches should be developed immediately, such as one that determines the selection of core items to be initially secured.

Ontario 2020: Visionary speakers kick off conference on the future

Thomas Homer-Dixon, Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo, will discuss "Building resilience" and strategies for coping with an uncertain future.

The Energy Lectures to host ‘Purchasing & Financing Major Energy Contracts’ New Perspectives in the Post Economic Crisis

Featuring a number of high calibre energy and environment keynote speakers, event highlights include a speech from Matthew Farrow, head of environment, CBI, who will discuss ‘Could a change of Government affect UK plc’s energy strategy?’ Also, David Porter OBE, Chief Executive of the Association of Electricity Producers, will investigate how energy security might affect the top 1,000 energy users in the UK. David Strahan, the award winning investigative journalist will deliver the lunch keynote, ‘Peak Oil: Depletion of the Black Stuff’.

Could a water shortage bring peace to Cyprus?

GECITKOY, Northern Cyprus — When Cyprus lay dry and parched with drought in 2008, Senol Akmehmet had to buy water shipped in by truck to keep his goats and sheep alive. He couldn't plant any crops. The local reservoir, called Gecitkoy like Akmehmet's village, dried up and disappeared.

This winter the rains have been good and fish are again swimming in the reservoir. But the drought, which caused great hardship across the island, has pushed Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials to move forward with a decades-long dream of building a massive underwater pipeline to bring water from Turkey.

"We are in the middle of earth's sixth extinction"

Global warming has triggered the sixth mass extinction of life on earth and this time human life is being threatened along with that of animals and plants due to man-made causes, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Patali Champika Ranawaka said, addressing the Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries on Monday.

Jeff Rubin: We’re all PIGS now

The fact of the matter is, wherever you go in the OECD, we’re all PIGS now. That’s because we mistook an energy shock for a financial crisis and bailed out everyone under the sun. But we are soon going to find out that today’s bailouts are tomorrow’s spending cuts.

The enormity of the government cutbacks that lie ahead is yet to be appreciated.

U.S. Crude Oil Supplies Rose Last Week, API Report Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil inventories rose by 2.67 million barrels last week to 337.1 million, the American Petroleum Institute said today.

Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, fell by 4.07 million barrels to 154.6 million. Gasoline inventories rose 909,000 barrels to 232.9 million.

Crude Oil Trades Near $80 on Economic Optimism, Distillate Draw

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded near $80 a barrel after rising on a possible resolution to Greece’s budget problems and as an industry report showed a decline in distillate supplies in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy user.

Oil May Rise Above $83 After ‘Mood Swings’: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil is poised to break out of recent sideways trading pattern and may rise above $83 a barrel, near a 14-month high reached in January, according to National Australia Bank Ltd.

Peak oil crisis

Warning about an impending peak oil crisis has been sounded in a recently released report produced by the UK's Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security.

The report evoked interest in Western business circles and ongoing efforts show that a wider understanding of the problem is starting to take hold.

Norway Gets Letter From Argentina on Falkland Drilling, DN Says

(Bloomberg) -- Norwegian authorities got a letter from Argentina expressing concerns about AGR Group ASA’s involvement in U.K. plans to explore for oil off the Falkland Islands, Dagens Naeringsliv said, citing the Foreign Ministry.

AGR was contracted by London-based Desire Petroleum Plc to help with drilling in the area, the Oslo-based newspaper said.

Shell’s Nigerian Kokori Station Is Attacked by Rebels

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Kokori oil flow station in Nigeria was attacked yesterday as militants renewed operations against the energy industry in the southern Delta region.

The People’s Patriotic Revolutionary Force claimed responsibility for the assault in an e-mailed statement, saying it had begun “fresh and final hostilities in the Niger Delta and beyond.” The group called on international oil companies to leave the region immediately.

BP’s Hayward Chases Exxon With Cost Cuts, Gas Output

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward outlined plans to boost production and cut refinery costs as he tries to close the gap with Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s most profitable oil and gas company.

BP said yesterday it can increase production as much as 2 percent a year through 2015 as the share of natural gas in total output rises to 45 percent from 40 percent. It aims to improve underlying profitability in its refining business by $2 billion over two to three years, Hayward told investors and analysts during the company’s annual strategy briefing.

U.S. Natural Gas Hockey Stick: The Technology-Driven Energy Boom

This surge in domestic natural gas production over the last three years has enabled the United States to overtake Russia as the world's No. 1 producer of natural gas, and is all due to advanced drilling methods now being used to drill for gas through a type of rock known as shale.

Exxon Says ‘Early Days’ for European Alternative Gas Projects

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the U.S. oil company that agreed to buy XTO Energy Inc. last year for its shale gas expertise and assets, said it’s “early days” for unconventional natural-gas projects in Europe.

“We have to have realistic expectations about being able to extract commercial quantities of natural gas from these unconventional resources,” Richard Guerrant, Exxon’s director of Europe, Russia and the Caspian, said today in an interview at the Flame conference in Amsterdam.

Russia moves closer to Iran sanctions

Russia's president said Moscow was ready to consider new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear defiance on Monday and the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that he cannot confirm that all of Tehran's atomic activities are peaceful.

President Dmitry Medvedev emphasized that he still hoped for a settlement with Iran on nuclear issues that would negate any need for a fourth set of U.N. Security Council sanctions. Still, his comments appeared to be the strongest sign to date that the Kremlin was prepared to drop traditional opposition to such penalties if Tehran remain obstinate.

Planning is the big barrier for renewables

Onshore windfarms and anaerobic digestion (gas from waste and other feedstocks) facilities in particular often meet significant public opposition. And as it stands, the default setting for many local planning authorities is to reject proposals for renewable schemes.

According to wind and marine renewables lobby group BWEA, local council planning approval for windfarms fell to an all-time low of 25 per cent in October 2009. Anaerobic digestion plants seem to be fairing rather better, especially where they use crops grown specifically for the purpose, rather than waste.

The low conversion rate of applications, allied to the long lead times needed for building, means we are seriously compromising our ability to meet our targets.

Brazil May Let Large Power Users Resell Electricity, Valor Says

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil may allow large electricity users to sell power that they contracted and don’t need, Valor Economico reported, citing an Energy Ministry proposal distributed for public consultation.

Energy savers may get rebates

President Obama on Tuesday revealed details of a program to boost the energy efficiency of the nation's homes, create jobs and cut energy bills.

The Home Star program, which needs congressional approval, envisions rebates of $1,000 to $1,500, or 50% of the cost, for simple upgrades, such as windows and insulation, for a maximum of $3,000 per home.

Obama's Nuclear Power Plan Cheers Koreans

South Korea kept building nuclear plants for decades. Its low-cost approach could benefit as the U.S. and others revive nuclear construction.

10 Companies Reinventing Our Energy Infrastructure

When most people think about changing the way America uses energy, they imagine new ways of generating electricity like solar farms or new nuclear reactors.

But at an innovation summit organized by the Department of Energy’s high-risk, high-reward research branch, ARPA-E (modeled after Darpa), it’s not just power generation that’s getting a makeover. The companies hawking their ideas there, which all received grant money from ARPA-E or were finalists, are trying to reinvent the entire energy system. Everything is getting a technological re-evaluation from the actual wires that power is transmitted on to the waste heat produced in industrial processes.

Iberdrola Chooses Glasgow as Wind Farm Building Base, BBC Says

(Bloomberg) -- Iberdrola SA, Spain’s biggest electricity company, chose Glasgow to be its global base for building offshore wind farms, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing a company announcement.

Palm oil tested on sustainability

Whether the palm oil industry can, in fact, be part of the solution to deforestation is a proposition that divides palm oil producers, manufacturers, retailers, and, naturally, environmental groups. At one extreme, sustainable palm oil production is considered an oxymoron. The opposite fringe sees critics of palm oil as dupes of a developed-world plot against poor farmers, built on myths of species extinction and climate change, funded by palm's rival oil and fat producers.

Survey: Munich has Europe's best public transportation; Paris, London lag

BRUSSELS — Munich has Europe's best public transport, according to a new study published Tuesday that finds commuters and visitors in 22 other cities face a range of quality in public information, travel times and charges.

The survey of 23 European cities found nine offering only "acceptable" bus, streetcar and metro services and said more must be done to make public transport an attractive alternative to driving a car into a city.

Luxury hybrids take center stage

At the Geneva auto show, even high-end performance automakers roll out hybrid and plug-in cars.

Legislator proposes banning Japanese cars at Toyota hearing

A U.S. Senator said Tuesday that the U.S. should consider banning Japanese-made cars until Japan's government guarantees the vehicles have no defects.

That would be no different than Japan's multi-year ban on U.S. beef because of fears American cattle might be infected with deadly BSE, commonly called mad cow disease, said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who was U.S. Agriculture Secretary during the dispute with Japan.

Secrets of sustainable living: urban eco-warriors

On 4 May 2007, one of the strongest tornadoes ever recorded ploughed through Greensburg, Kansas, levelling the rural town and killing eleven of the 1,500 residents. Storm chasers reported the twister to be nearly 3km in diameter, wind speeds hit 330km/h and insured losses alone totalled $153m. Within hours of the disaster, the entire town was evacuated with the mayor of Greensburg stating 95 per cent of his community had been destroyed.

What has happened since is remarkable. Only days after the storm, the community gathered and decided to rebuild Greensburg as a model 'green' town for the future. The city council passed a resolution stating that all municipal buildings should be built to 'LEED platinum standards'. This, the highest rating in the US Green Council's 'Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design' green building rating system, marked a US first.

Transition Town Canada has a distinctly local flavour

(PETERBOROUGH) Transition town is encouraging towns across Canada to tap into the collective creativity of their citizens.

A newly formed national group, chaired by Fred Irwin of Transition Town Peterborough, is hoping to provide guidance to towns who wish to 'transition.' The steering committee will educate and support communities interested in combatting issues of peak oil and climate change.

Goat fans, cities butting heads

Herd the latest? Miniature goats, 'tame' as dogs, blaze trails in U.S. neighborhoods

Looking for a pet that can live in your urban yard, answers to its name, wears a leash for strolls — and might produce milk you can drink or turn into cheese?

Meet the miniature goat.

China Studying Environment Tax to Curb Pollution

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is actively studying an environment tax to help curb pollution.

The proposed tax is being studied by the Ministry of Finance, the tax bureau and the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Pan Yue, a deputy head at the environment ministry, said in Beijing today.

UN Climate Process ‘Needs a Good Spanking,’ Yvo de Boer Says

(Bloomberg) -- The process for reaching a global climate agreement “needs a good spanking,” United Nations Climate Chief Yvo de Boer said today.

“More meetings does not mean success,” de Boer, who steps down from his UN post on July 1, said today at the Carbon Market Insights conference in Amsterdam. “We need to get down to business.”

Getting global warming right

Except for the glaring glacier mistake, most of the alleged errors are minor, and some may not be errors at all. A controversial claim that up to 40% of the Amazon rain forest could react drastically to even slight reductions in precipitation apparently came from a World Wildlife Fund report rather than a peer-reviewed study, but a leading Amazon researcher has since affirmed that the number is correct. Still, the fact that reports from popular science magazines and environmental advocacy groups could have found their way into a document of such magnitude suggests that the IPCC isn't living up to its own standards. So we applaud the panel's announcement that it is appointing an independent committee to investigate the matter and ensure adherence to scientific procedures.

Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate

WASHINGTON — For months, climate scientists have taken a vicious beating in the media and on the Internet, accused of hiding data, covering up errors and suppressing alternate views. Their response until now has been largely to assert the legitimacy of the vast body of climate science and to mock their critics as cranks and know-nothings.

But the volume of criticism and the depth of doubt have only grown, and many scientists now realize they are facing a crisis of public confidence and have to fight back. Tentatively and grudgingly, they are beginning to engage their critics, admit mistakes, open up their data and reshape the way they conduct their work.

Japan’s Draft Climate Bill Omits Mandatory Limit on Emissions

(Bloomberg) -- Draft legislation for a new Japanese climate bill omits mention of a limit on emissions by industry, a sign Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government may retreat from an earlier promise to start a cap-and-trade system.

Japan should start an emissions-trading program at an unspecified time to help cut emissions by 25 percent in the medium term, according to the draft, released by the Environment Ministry Feb. 26. The document doesn’t propose a mandatory cap on emissions, and while it includes a possible carbon tax from 2011, it doesn’t say which industries would be subject to it.

EU May Raise Emission Cut to 30% Even Without Global Treaty

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union will discuss raising its target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 30 percent from 20 percent regardless of whether other countries agree to specific goals, a European Commission official said.

Senate climate bill may drop cap and trade

The last best hope to get a climate-energy bill through Congress this year may be to drop long-held "cap-and-trade" plans for an economy-wide price on carbon emissions and instead target just the utility, transportation, and industry sectors of the economy.

That scenario, now emerging in the Senate, set energy industry officials and environmental groups scrambling to evaluate how to deal with new legislation that's being developed behind closed doors and whose details are still unknown.

EPA Chief to Testify on Hill as Dissent Over Carbon Rules Grows

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s top environmental regulator will testify before Congress today amid growing opposition to her agency’s proposed limits on the pollution linked to climate change.

Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will face lawmakers a day after Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia called for a two-year delay on greenhouse-gas regulations and top House Republicans demanded they be stopped altogether.

New research questions the IPCC

A new article was accepted for publication in Natural Resources Research. It contains new research that questions the IPCC and their biased assumptions regarding future fossil fuel production in the Emission Scenarios.

So will you commit to stop using oil in your tractors that you use to grow the corn that is used to produce ethanol?

Have you seen this?
"Scientists Propose a More Efficient Way to Make Ethanol"

I'd like to read your evaluation of this apparent breakthrough in making cellulosic ethanol.

Re: New research questions the IPCC

Blinkered nonsense. The real problem with the SRES scenarios is that they COMPLETELY ignore CH4 feedbacks. So the A2 scenario, which appears to be unrealistic if you think that conventional oil is the only important anthropogenic CO2 source, is actually a conservative underestimate of the CO2 levels we will have by 2100. This is a pathology typical of the bureaucratic compromise fest that is the UN political process known as the IPCC. If in doubt, leave out. So we had the gem of a prediction that sea level rise would be 50 cm by 2100 based purely on thermal expansion of the oceans as if there is no glacier melt happening or likely to happen (this has been replaced with a marginally better one of about 1 m but once again assuming nothing significant will happen in Greenland or Antarctica). And of course none of the IPCC GCM work deals with methane release from permafrost and clathrates. This is the same "no glacier melt" nonsense since they couldn't find enough published work on it (so what is exactly the point of the IPCC? A glorified literature search?).

The Siberian shelf lies under about 50 m of water and has over 2 teratons of carbon that is already leaking at increasing rates into the atmosphere. This shelf is not a stable clathrate zone since it is too shallow. It is a relic of the last glacial maximum which left a permafrost cap that keeps the clathrates restrained. Right now this permafrost cap is starting to undergo a collapse. So while one note Johnny peak oilers harp on about how conventional crude oil has peaked (what about the Canadian tar sands, the Venezuelan heavy oil, and coal?) we have more than enough sources of CO2 to keep the party going. It is absurd to dismiss the A2 scenario without considering all the sources.

If theres one thing that can get me fired up its misrepresentation of facts. Spin if you want to call it that.

In reference to the seeking alpha article about US natural gas production.

The author seems to be implying that through the use of technology we have entered some kind of new era of gas production - his chart appears to show we have massivley increased production.

So long as you dont look at the numbers on the Y-axis...

His article references the actual data


Looking at the same data - but with the Y axis set to 0 - shows quite a different story. A subtle bump through the use of this amazing new technology.

Hardly a Technocopian holy grail.

I am not sure that your comment represents the US NG situation any more accurately than the original article.

Certainly the increase in production is only a small percentage, but that is all (and more) than the market would bear, in the middle of the current recession.

The graph does mislead those not used to reading graphs, but the scale is clearly displayed.

The real story of oil shale is that a new technology has opened up previously inaccessible NG sources sufficient to rebalance supply and demand, although probably at a significantly higher price point than previously. The question that still needs to be answered is just low large the new reserves really are, and how much in real terms can the US economy afford to pay for this gas.

Gas is a little different from oil. The limits to production are more above ground logistics than under the ground geology. (awaits being shot down in flames..) Given enough drilling rigs, skilled personnel and pipelines, gas production could be sharply increased, at a price.

If the gas was used to expand a national fleet of CNG powered cars and buses, that would probably be a price worth paying. Better than importing foreign oil with ever more worthless dollars, at any rate.

I am not sure that the more optimistic estimates for shale gas reserves will be realised, but this is definitely an energy reprieve for the US.

Probably the most accurate metric is NG delivered to the market:

Note that the 2009 annual rate was still below the early Seventies rate, but the industry did manage a 3.8%/year rate of increase from 2005 to 2009. An interesting question is how much money was spent over that four year period to achieve this rate of increase, to a level that is--so far--below the prior peak. The "Rock" might be able to provide an estimate.

WT -- Don't have the time to dig for those numbers right now but down below bio makes a very note worthy statement regarding the rather low level of improvement in NG rates despite a very large increase in rig count.

And as someone else pointed out conventional NG coming thru the Deep Water Hub in the GOM added a good bit to the number.

Rockman - you have made a few comments regarding the change in rig count to the change in production lately. Unfortunately, it is difficult (for me at least) to draw any conclusions on how the change in rig count affects the change in production. I know it is intuitive, but I have the EIA data for the last 20 years and just can't find a solid correlation

I can offer this. In 2 years, from 1-07 to 11-08 production increased from 53bcfd to 60 bcfd and rig count averaged 1481 the entire time. From 11-08 to 11-09 rig count was cut in half to 750 and production today is 60bcfd. Go figure

I don't know what the right rig level is, but 1400 is too many. 2010 will be interesting to see how production holds up. Everyone who chimes in about how shale gas wells have such high declines never seem to toss out that they also have monster IP's. Maybe thats the key.

there are a few complicating factors in correlating production with rig count.

there is a varriable delay from when a rig is drilling to the time when a well goes on production.

a near term peak was february '09 at 58.5 bcfd, dry gas production. dry gas production for december '09 was 57.5 bcfd, which amounts to an annualized decline of 1.8 %. that is not exactly a cliff, but not insignificant either.

there is always the big unknown of shut-in or curtailed production, we really don't know what "capacity" is or was.

You're right Steve: It's neither obvious nor completely intuitive. Don't mean to sound patronizing but rig count just measures how many wells are being drilled at any point in time. Doesn't mean how many wells are finding oil/NG or, more importantly, how much oil/NG they are finding. And you have to take into account time lag and "carry over'. Onshore the time lag can only be a few months. Offshore is a whole different game. An extreme example: Deep Water NG wells were drilled and fields developed over a 5+ year period. Yet none of the NG added to our national rate until one day in 2009 the Independence Hub gathering system went on line. In a few weeks we added 1 billion cf/day of NG to our production stream. Consider the relational misfit if that occurred during a time of falling rig count.

Carry over: SG complicates the equation. As you say some monster IP's. And as companies drilled more and more the new wells made up for those dramatic decline rates. But when the SG rig count fell so did that increasing rate metric. But there's a critical factor many don't realize: while the rates drop off quickly they eventually settle into a rather low decline rate profile. Though individual well rates aren't impressive there are 10s of thousand of those wells. Similar to what we see with oil production: the US is one of the largest oil producers in the world but the average well does less than 10 bopd. But there are 100s of thousands of those wells. One reason we haven't seen a NG rate cliff with the decline of SG drilling is that stable and low decline rate heritage of all the earlier drilled SG wells. And the contribution of DW GOM NG fields finally coming on line.

Another critical point is the "hype factor". When prices start running up more and more low quality prospects are drilled. Thus rig count goes up but you don't see a proportionate increase in production. If you think 2100 is too many consider that in the late 70's we had over 4600 rigs running at once. And many drilling prospects with little chance of production. I was there...I know how poor many of those prospects were. That misfit is due to greed. Higher prices and everyone wants in on the action. But that jump in demand for drilling deals doesn't produce more quality deals. We just pull the doggie ones from the back of the file cabinet and feed them to the sheep. This is how it has always worked and always will. But there's a another contributing factor: public company mentality and the Wall Street push. One major and undeniable reason the SG plays took off so fast was the desire of public companies to quickly add reserves to their books. The potential profitability of those efforts wasn't a prime concern. Wall Street rewards for short term appearance of success. They seldom look at the long term profitability. As long as NG prices were high companies like Chesapeake and Devon drilled as fast as possible so they could replace reserves. Reserve replacement was THE KEY ISSUE and not profitability. The current dismal financial state of many of these players tells you what profit potential really looked like. Even had NG prices not tanked many of those wells would have generated little profit. The new technology worked but it was very expensive. But that was the primary goal: replace reserves and make Wall Street happy. But remember: even though many of those SG wells drilled during the hype period might not make a profit they have added to our national NG reserve base. And that base now has a relatively low decline rate. Just think of it as an unintentional redistribution of wealth.

2008 to 2009 annual dry gas production - the one that matters- was up 4.0%. and from february '09 to december '09 dry gas production was down 1.8 %, bcfd annualized.

Indyphil, I fail to get the connection between your post and Dissident's post, the one you replied to. Could you fill me in. Are you accusing Dissident of misrepresenting the facts?

If theres one thing that can get me fired up its misrepresentation of facts.

Ron P.

Sorry My mistake I wasnt replying to dissidents post. Was supposed to be a seperate post.

Ron, if you see a graph where the Y axis doesn't go from zero or is logarithmic the person who produced the graph is attempting to be economical with the truth - beware such tricks.

Let's please take some minimal care here. I'm guessing for example that you would reject the principle you just stated - and very possibly with ... let's say ... great heat - with respect to a global-temperature graph.

Sometimes, you need an expanded axis to see changes in a quantity that fundamentally varies very little. For example, the 0.6K rise in average global temperature in recent decades would be essentially invisible on a scale starting at 0K. So no one shows it that way; it is perfectly normal and acceptable to use an enormously (at least twenty-fold, but often one-hundred-fold) expanded scale. Indeed, a scale starting at 0 would go quite nicely with text asserting that there really couldn't possibly be any noticeable effect whatsoever.

Sometimes, you need the opposite, a logarithmic graph, to see clearly when a quantity varies across a wide range of magnitudes. This often happens in physics, as with something as "simple" as current flow through a diode.

So there's not really a magical totem that instantly reveals exaggeration or concealment. Sure, with that 8% bump in the natural gas graph, the tone of the article suggests someone may be overdoing it - but that said, the suggestion emerges from the graph plus the text plus the larger context, not just the graph alone.

I totally agree with what you are saying, but I suspect you and I are a very small subset of the general population - the idea of a graph published in MSM is for the 'man in the street' to get an obvious message from a lot of data.

If we are to give up FF to avoid climate change we had better be very sure we are the cause of any problem - using statistical methods with say a 10% chance of something happening is meaningless to most people, in the real world something either happens or it doesn't. The only currently known way of reducing CO2 emissions in the timescale thought to be required is massive recession, the likes of which we have never seen.

Actually, plotting from zero would show people that even huge changes in climate (like recent ice ages) are barely perceptable in the average temperature data, also IMO the average person would not notice a log scale or understand it's meaning, which is why the UK Government (for one example) deliberately uses it! If you were to plot from zero and use a log scale I defy you to pick out anything meaningful so you could see when ice ages occured, plot using a linear scale over a very small range and you may pick out a meaningful signal if there is a single cause, I would say that climate change seen so far during the Earth's history doesn't have single easily predictable causes - like peak oil you only see it in hindsight.

The normal man in the street does not view the world logarithmically, but linearly, and so can be deliberately fooled by such stastical 'tricks' - IMO which 'trick' you use depends on what agenda you have.

To change the example somewhat, lets say you are discussing a fever. Now a difference of 1% in temperature could be enough to cause brain-damage or death. But If I did a linear graph starting at absolute zero the change would be hard to notice. Despite the innumeracy of many, there often is little choice. The same thing goes for climate change -as you admit, a one or two percent change in global temperature makes a huge difference. Thats where the sceptics are able to score points. CO2 isn't all that strong of a greenhouse gas, doubling will only cut the earths cooling ability by around one percent. But a one percent change in temperature is a big deal.

Of course a LOG scale for temperature would be equally silly. On a scale of changes in earths temperature, (blown up to only see the changes the system actually goes through (say 275-290K) the difference between linear and log scales would take a microscope to see (i.e. a plot of log(x)/versusx over a range of a couple of percent is well approximately by a straight line.

So the real problem becomes, how do you describe something that requires a minimal level of numeracy to understand to someone without?

The only currently known way of reducing CO2 emissions in the timescale thought to be required is massive recession, the likes of which we have never seen.

This is a false statement. The assumption that a change in economy = massive recession is untenable. Typical economic thinking would hold that production = health of an economy (roughly) and that a drop in production = negative consequences.

However, an economy transitioning to a different, more sustainable form is an improvement and equates to development, not loss.

Also inherent in the assumption is that lost jobs/work are not to be replaces by new jobs/work in new industries. Also false.

Actually, plotting from zero would show people that even huge changes in climate (like recent ice ages) are barely perceptable in the average temperature data... If you were to plot from zero and use a log scale I defy you to pick out anything meaningful so you could see when ice ages occured, plot using a linear scale over a very small range and you may pick out a meaningful signal if there is a single cause

This is an excellent statement on climate sensitivity and how small changes create very large effects. That is not what you intended, which illustrates how strong your bias is.

I would say that climate change seen so far during the Earth's history doesn't have single easily predictable causes...

Red Herring. Who ever said climate changes are due to single influences? No scientist I know of. What *is* true is that the effects on warming of a rise in CO2 was predicted many decades ago and has proven correct thus far. Twisting that to say there is but a single cause of climate changes is disingenuous (and that is being kind.)


He also states that the increase "is all due to advanced drilling methods now being used to drill for gas through a type of rock known as shale". Well that's an outright lie or proof positive that the author does not know what he is talking about and his views are worthless. The Deepwater GOM Independence Hub added 1 Billion Cubic Feet per day all on its own.

And that's without even getting into the validity of the recent figures which seem to be coming under increasing questioning from some quarters (and not just the usual suspects now either).

It's a bit difficult to sort out all the facts, but here's what I can figure out:

Current drilling activity has not reached that level since March 2009. Best of luck keeping that "surge" going.

Treadmill ....

Well with my shiny new theory on technology effects on production. Heres what should happen.

We probably hit our technical peak or where very close to it see your above number further expansion was almost done.

However it seems the backside is a bit more interesting and does not immediately fall of a cliff. What we should
see is a linear decline in NG production effectively retracing the technical expansion phase. As of right now this seems to
go until you return close to the bottom of the technical boost.

Then you finally get my cliff diving behavior. So at first even if drilling slows additional technical drilling offsets the rapid decline rates to a large extent leading to this linear retracement.

However then not only are all the new shiny technical sources in steep decline but the underlying decline of older resources has continued and steepened so at some point on the retrace side you get a steep cliff fall off.

Now you have several rates at play but for UNG at least the wells basically last about 1 year so to expand production after the first few years your having to overcome the decline of wells drilled basically two years before.

So I'm guessing about a two year period of linear decline perhaps three then a steep drop off. As far as the deep water NG plays go my understanding is that they also decline at a rapid rate perhaps better than the shale so probably closer to three years.

In any case it seems that about four years from sometime in 2008-2009 you have 3-4 years before TSHTF at that point the further drilling cannot replace previous fast declining technical wells and underlying older production declines.

Absolute worst case seems to be two years and if you peak peak in 2008 then the second half of 2010 is the earliest that life could get very interesting. Regardless we should see production declining and I'm interested to see how its slope looks. The second half of the concept is the flatter the slope the shorter and steeper the fall. So flat production is a very bad sign. The idea here is that it indicates maximum production and depletion was attained resulting in final aggregate decline moving with a group decline velocity similar to the individual well declines. Aka a herd or swarm formed. The close the initial decline curve mirrors the original development curve the less likely you created a swarm.

For oil it actually turned out to be a mirror decline so no real swarming however oil has hit its cliff with technical resources now depleted. I think that NA NG however has a big swarm effect.

indy -- I agree with you. Picking your time frame is key to good spin. But we did have a pretty good technoleap when we figured out how to better complete those shale gas formations. Unfortunately that technoleap was expensive. OTOH while it has greatly increased the amount of "technically recoverable" NG it also requires a significantly higher NG price to work in many of the trends. The SG boom did gives us a nice bump up. But it also pushed many of the players to near extinction. The bad news: the bump up is over for the time being. The good news: a lot of residual low volume SG wells do give us an improved base. Thus IMHO we're not going to see the cliff some folks anticipated when the SG bubble popped. But we won't see another "upward surge" until NG prices at least double...and maybe more.

Agree with dissident. It doesn't matter that fossil fuel reserves are lower than assumed by the IPCC. There still is more than enough to push us over the brink.

Meinshausen, 2009 (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7242/full/nature08017.html) showed that

"Limiting cumulative CO2 emissions over 2000–50 to 1,000 Gt CO2 yields a 25% probability of warming exceeding 2°C — and a limit of 1,440 Gt CO2 yields a 50% probability — given a representative estimate of the distribution of climate system properties. As known 2000–06 CO2 emissions were 234 Gt CO2, less than half the proven economically recoverable oil, gas and coal reserves can still be emitted up to 2050 to achieve such a goal.

Translation: about 20-25 years of the average emissions between 2000 and 2006 means trouble (likely). The IPCC should provide scenarios that help us stay below 2°C warming. If they only use scenarios that are very likely to lead to disaster, nobody will listen.

And if Hansen et. al. are correct then we may already be over the brink and to be safe we must get back down as fast as possible to 350ppm. The original goal of 450ppm was to mitigate short term climate response to 2 Celsius but according to Hansen there is a slower feedback loop, not accounted for at the time, that could result in catastrophic medium term warming (with an end-result way above 2C) being irreversible within a period of time possibly short enough to be measured in decades - especially if we reach 450ppm or higher.

If they are right the clock is ticking down right now as we are already in the red zone and can only stay there for a relatively short period of time. It's that more catastrophic medium-term danger that seems to get lost in the noise sometimes.


If we're already past 350, are we all doomed?

No. We're like the patient that goes to the doctor and learns he's overweight, or his cholesterol is too high. He doesn't die immediately—but until he changes his lifestyle and gets back down to the safe zone, he's at more risk for heart attack or stroke. The planet is in its danger zone because we've poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we're starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.

If 350 really is a tipping point, then some sort of geo-engineering would be needed in addition to going cold turkey. If 450 is -well there's no feasable political path that can avoid that now!

Actually, it all comes down to the natural feedbacks. In this case, the clathrates. As we have now seen, my fears expressed immediately upon the work of Katey Walter, a University of Alaska researcher, was first published a couple-a-few years ago, I posted on these forums that we were in deep poo-poo. The reasoning was simple: 1. the effects were observed over a wide area and were basic process and 2. science is always behind the actual changes, thus 3. we were in deep poo-poo.

The recent article, I believe it is the one, or similar, that is being referred to in this Drumbeat, indicates extremely large areas of clathrates becoming unstable.

In an e-mail from a different researcher, I was told the clathrates were nowhere near melting because they were still 1 - 3 degrees C below what they calculated as the instability range. Talk about Ivory Tower syndrome! It was blindingly obvious to me that that actually meant we were precariously situated for a Methane Time Bomb.

Anywho, I was roundly criticized here for actually using my head to reason things out and state the methane issue was going to be shown to be even worse than thought at the time and that methane would just keep on a' rising. Trouble is, I've yet to be wrong on climate and this new research keeps my record intact - and how!

Kjell Aleklett argues the same myopic point, that FF's alone can't get us to 450, so all is well!! When I pointed out that 350 is the more realistic number, the answer was that if it's not in the IPCC it essentially doesn't exist. This completely ignores the fact that the IPCC is, in fact, a massive literature review and not a big coordinated experiment as some people seem to think. That is, the most current research is the most relevant, not the research from five years ago.

Can't make that horse drink, no matter how hard you try.

In case I haven't made this clear, the new research means we are in such very, very deep doo-doo that we are on the verge of having no options but to hold on tight and pray.


Methane spikes with each interglacial, so a bit of melting is perhaps to be expected. Truly massive releases in the past are associated with events such as magmatic intrusions or massive sea level subsidence, eg the drying up of the Mediterranean in the Messinian Salinity Crisis of the late Miocene, or the closing off of the GOM at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary which we discussed here in the article on the McMoran Deep Gas well - a methane spike is implicated in the PETM and one poster was citing research that the GOM event may have been involved.

These are far more dramatic events than the interglacials; as I understand it the mainstream opinion with climatologists is that CO2 is the pressing issue at hand. Control over CH4 releases is possible, as much of what's in the system comes from anthropogenic sources. We could cut back on wetland ag, or steer away (pun alert) from beef. There's also a, cough cough, tech solution on the horizon, namely tailoring marsupial gut bacteria for ruminant digestive systems. Alternatively, we could switch to marsupials themselves for meat.

I have nice images of Montana cowboys in check shirts and big hats, riding wonderful stallions, herding kangaroos into a paddock ... might be a bit tricky trying to lasso the jumping critters, let alone getting them onto a truck.

I guess, you are aware of this article in the dailymail. Headline: Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

- Data for vital 'hockey stick graph' has gone missing
- There has been no global warming since 1995
- Warming periods have happened before - but NOT due to man-made changes

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Climategate-U-turn-Aston...

Get your science from scientists, not from the Daily Mail, unless you prefer to be wrong.

And of course none of the IPCC GCM work deals with methane release from permafrost and clathrates.

In the past there was a massive release of methane during tens-hundreds thousands of years that increased global temperature by about 6 degrees C. Now human beings are drawing conclusions from events that take place in 100-200 years. Why ? Because they have to. Otherwise IPCC and others have nothing to say. It is a serious possibility that climate change happening now is human made, but >90% chance as IPCC claims ? I don't know.

To be more specific, we are now seeing Arctic Ocean temperatures not seen since before the current ice age which started about 3 million years ago. This is based on Barents Sea sediment analysis, i.e. observations. As noted above there were clathrate releases during the last 3 million years (even during the periods of significant glaciation) but the current period is special. CO2 never exceeded 290 ppmv in the last three million years. We are going to release an Arctic clathrate reservoir that survived previous interglacial warmings.

As somebody who does GCM simulations regularly (not for climate science but for atmospheric processes research) I find the specifications for IPCC GCM simulations to be artificial. Just like there were different CO2 scenarios there should have been different CH4 scenarios as well (the current SRES set provides different CH4 projections but they are all unrealistic). It is not like the permafrost/clathrate CH4 research started yesterday. So SRES A2 ends up being the best out of the pile by inadvertently taking into account CH4 release (even though it was contrived from unrealistic fossil fuel consumption/reserve assumptions).

CH4 provides for half of the H2O in the stratosphere currently. A massive release of CH4 will induce a significant increase in H2O above the tropopause in the extratropics and have a compounding effect on the warming. The Siberian shelf clathrates are very unstable so such a massive release cannot be ruled out.

What part of we are forcing changes far faster than natural changes *typically* occur, and thus potentially super-stressing the system do you not get? Perhaps you have not studies non-linear systems?

Perhaps you just need to read the various sources of research that had scientists change their view on how quickly climate can change from tens of thousands of years, to thousands, to hundreds, to decades, to years and now to mere months.

Look up bifurcations + chaos and see what you see.


There are ways that oil supply and coal demand will interact that IPCC cannot guess. Right now China and India are stepping up their coal imports. However the low wage manufacturing advantage of these countries will be lost if Peak Oil causes shipping costs to rise. The need to buy in coal will also hurt even if these countries have no intention of imposing carbon taxes. The key point is that PO underpins total anthropogenic CO2.

If somebody could accurately predict a timeline for human caused CO2 then the models could work out methane release.

The pygmy goat article was interesting, I had not heard of those. According to this site:

A general rule of thumb is that an average Pygmy doe should give about ½ gallon per day at the peak of her lactation.

A couple of pygmy goats, a few laying hens, a small rabbitry, and bee hives could all be feasible on even a 1/4 acre urban, suburban, or small town lot, plus a big garden. That would leave one only needing to buy some hay, bulk grains & legumes (for people and animal feed), vegetable oil, and a few other staples.

I wonder how many pygmy goats in a neighborhood could be fed on the repurposing of the land currently grassed up for Cemeteries, Dog Parks and Soccer/Softball Pitches? Save some town money on the Lawnmowing, too.

Anyone who saw the mid-70s BBC series "The Good Life/Good Neighbors" will remember that the Goods walked their (full-sized) goat down to the village commons every day to graze it (as was their ancient, traditional right to do so).


Our fleet of 800+ environmentally friendly, self propelled weed eaters are ready for your project!

But one thing I've seen is they don't like eating grass that much (just like deer).

Goats aren't effective lawnmowers, they are very picky eaters. Though I love goats and emotionally identify with them, milking sheep would probably be a more effective use of urban grassy areas.

I'd think the real value for sheep would be the wool + meat. We are going to need more natural fibers for clothing and other textiles in the future. The petrochemical feedstocks for the artificial fiber industries are going to become more scarce and expensive, and eventually we are going to have to go back entirely to renewable resources. People are going to be able to afford less clothing, and thus will need very durable clothing. The artificial fibers may be durable, but the clothing that has been made from them hasn't seemed to hold up nearly as well as good old wool.

As corn-fed beef is way too energy-intensive and land-intensive, what little red meat we'll still be able to produce will be grass-fed and expensive, consisting mostly of beef, bison. . . and lamb. It is surprising how little lamb is sold in the supermarkets and eaten. A lot of Americans apparently never eat it. I guess it is mainly because at present the corn-fed beef is cheaper. If the beef were all grass-fed, the prices might not be so different. My impression is that back in the old days in the old country (England), lamb and mutton would have been more commonly eaten than beef, at least for all except the upper classes.

I don't know about the feasibility of trying to raise sheep on a typical 1/4 acre urban or suburban lot, though. They would be an effective lawn mower, all right, but even if you kept just one you would still have to take it to public land to graze or it would starve. The wool from just one sheep wouldn't really amount to all that much, either. Enough to keep one in socks, for sure, and maybe even an occasional sweater, but that would be about it.

All in all, I would think that goats would be a better way to go for city/town dwellers. Leave the sheep for the marginal rural lands where they have always been.

Nice sentiment, and "It is surprising how little lamb is sold in the supermarkets and eaten. A lot of Americans apparently never eat it" is unfortunately too accurate. What is available is often a frozen New Zealand leg which won't come anywhere close to local grass fed.

We've run a flock for 6 or 7 years of around 50, small, but enough to answer alot of my questions. It doesn't pencil, esp at the sale yard. But then, we've raised a smaller breed that self sheds-wool prices rarely pay the fuel to get it to the buyer, and that is alot of bend over work.

But back to your comment. In the south suburbs, you'll have a real problem with worms, esp with the commercial breeds such as Columbia or Suffolk. Alot of growers here find it more economical to confine lambs to concrete and feed their own hay rather than risk worms from grazing. The worm problems are much, much worse in warm, humid climates. You may not have vertebrate predators to mess with, good, but the parasites will kill and sicken animals. Compound that, as with all urban or suburban gardening schemes, the gifts of your neighbors. Someone who isn't quite as diligent as yourself in monitoring weed and pest infiltrations, or grows tired of gardening, and lets their property become an island refuge for problems.

I've seen quite a few people raising goats or sheep here in the mountains, the parasite problem probably isn't so much of a problem here. Elsewhere in the South it probably would be.

Not as much a problem when worming flock on monthly, or shorter, interval. But it gets real expensive, resistance is bred, and even w/ meds, need to rotate grazing areas. The moister the environment, the greater egg/larval survival. Perhaps the best rotation system involves alternate years with cattle. Sheep and goats are much more susceptible to internal parasites than cattle, probably due to the nature of their manure, and close grazing habits.

how many acres do you graze 50 head on? do you practice rotational grazing? and have you ever heard of/tried worming with garlic juice?

No to the last question. Yes to the second.

The first is one of my pet peeves. Acres don't matter, climate and soil are what counts. Whether it's Joel's Polyface farm in Virginia that Pollan touts, or The BBC producer's in England that's the rage of the you tube, it's touted as this much on so many acres.


It depends on your climate and soil. VA is great for mild winters, ppt distributed throughout the year, the Shenandoah one of the oldest valleys geologically-ie great soils, mild winters in England allowing year round grazing, you get my angle. We have 360 ac, but not all pasture, not all pasture is worked by sheep. Some is hayed, some marginal is cattle grazed only, where fencing and coyotes and wolves, prevent sheep grazing, at least for us. Some grazing in timber, but quantify? And what about hay-best include that land, even if we are able to graze on it afterward, it's because we irrigate. But many folks can't. Not enough moisture, or the grass may not recover from double whammy. Not even getting started on micronutrients. We're Selenium deficient, have to make it up, though the plants don't need it. Just the livestock. Get to know your land, then stock it accordingly.

Back to sheep. We got into sheep as a sideline. Seemed to me they'd work well in rotational grazing with other livestock, that the west was full of sheep. We looked at commercial breeds, decided they required to much whatever, and that like many new varieties or breeds, something was lost. So we went to a primitive breed, one that seemed to have better disease resistance, that didn't require shearing, to sum up:

"Soay Sheep are smaller, primitive sheep that have been wild on the offshore islands of Scotland for thousands of years. It is believed the sheep first originated from Norse traders about 4 thousand years ago. They have run wild over the islands of St Kilda, Hirta and Soay ever since. The name Soay, for which the island and sheep are named, is believed to originate from the Norse term for sheep.
In historical times, the islanders of Hirta would make annual pilgrimages to the island of Soay, gathering the naturally shed fleece each summer and returning home. Today the wild Soay are studied by researchers from throughout the world. The sheep represent an unique opportunity to study population dynamics of wild herbivores in a predator free environment."

They are much better than say Columbia at lambing. Maternal instincts still well developed. The natural shedding eliminates shearing-you can gather the wool if you care to-they are great for weeding pasture plants cattle don't relish, and we have found much better disease resistance and much lower parasite loads when we compare them to even our crosses with commercial breeds. Very short tails, a trait most don't think about, because most sheep need their tail docked. There are downsides, the biggest being size.

as to my first question; I knew you were going to say that

as to my last I haven't tried it either as I don't raise sheep or any other livestock. But garlic juice is by product of my garlic powder business and while searching the web for a way to unload it for a buck I came across the deworming angle.
Here's some folks trying to sell some
on the page is a link to a SARE study which I have not read. If you can grow the garlic the juice is easy to process, I'll break it down for you if you'd like

Interesting. Thanks. How much garlic does it take for a gallon of juice?

without checking my notes, a 10 gal. bucket of "popped" garlic renders 1.25 gal. of juice

another advantage to sheep for anyone considering it from the meat angle- is scale. the carcasses are about as big as one man working alone without power tools would want to take on.
I've helped my neighbors with slaughtering and butchering some of their flocks over the winter, and it is very do-able for even a relatively inexperienced person.
usually you slaughter skin dress and hang the carcass one day and then come back and butcher the next, after the meat has had a chance to chill.
One lamb, one man, maybe hour and a half to two hours the first day, about the same the second.
not brain surgery, a few things to be careful about.
step up to pigs or small cattle you better have two guys, a chain hoist or come-along, etc. the whole process becomes a collaborative effort.
something to keep in mind. the rural 'gift' economy is nice, but it is also nice to not need to ask for help.


And I think it is a taste that shouldn't be kept a secret. Just great, all grass, can't beat it. Hogs only work if you access to cheap grain, or other feedstuffs. Have seen coconut fed hogs in the tropics, but never tasted it.

One handy tool which makes home butchering much easier is a sawsall. Get a long blade for metal. Makes the chops a breeze, you won't end up with so many roasts.

I eat a lot of lamb here in Marin, and have good access to local grass fed lamb.

My American BIL (and the two sons) won't eat lamb, but his wife (Australian) hangs out for roast lamb and lamb chops whenever she returns "home" every year or so. Lamb and beef (all grass fed) have equal billing here in the diet ... and about the same cost per kilo. We're a bit more English I guess.

It varies regionally in the US. Lamb is eaten in the northern part of the country, especially the northeast. It's a traditional Easter dish. And it was part of the regular rotation on my college meal plan (the first time I ever had it).

It's not popular in the south.

Curiously, most Americans turn up their noses at goat. Even though the species are so similar that you can't really tell them apart from the bones. I once read that the reason southerners don't eat lamb is that they see little difference between sheep and goat, and would as soon eat one as the other. While in the northeast, lamb is a delicacy but goat is icky.

Goat just seems to be all bones somehow. It's hard to get a large piece of goat meat, and you always end up gnawing little bits off the bones. I can't really understand it, because it should be the same as lamb, which has large amounts of succulent meat.

A lion killed both of my goats.

You have a real problem, but it is not one shared by most city, and few small town, dwellers anywhere. Where I live, black bears are a potential problem, and more than a few ignorant people have seen their beehives, rabbit hutches, or chicken coops done in by hungry bears. A good electric fence is your necessary first line of defense around here. I've got one around by beehives now, and if I were to add chickens, rabbits, or goats I'd have to extend it around them as well. The chickens and rabbits would also need a very sturdy wire fence as a 2nd line of defense against dogs and other smaller preditors. I don't know if a black bear would even try to take a pygmy goat, though if they were hungry enough they just might try.

Up here in Wisconsin we have found 2 dead fawns in the last couple weeks, both of which have been fed on by coyotes. We assume the coyotes killed them or they starved to death! Winter has not been kind to the whitetail of WI the past few years, and the deer hunting kill numbers have plummeted. After a huge snowstorm in early Dec, we had 2 big rainstorms that added a layer of ice in between smaller snow falls. The snow pack is like a glacier and it has been very slow to melt.

California uses sheep to mow the grass around their flood control projects. Homeowners love it. The sounds of baaing and the sheep bells ringing are much more pleasant than the sound of diesel-powered mowers. Plus the sheep can go places mowers can't, like down the muddy banks of retention ponds and the like.

A while back, one enterprising soul leased the median and right of way of Montana interstate for haying. Don't know if it worked out for him.

I've seen rent-a-goat herds on steep hillsides in both Berkeley and San Francisco. Goats may be picky eaters, but evidently they like blackberry vines, fennel and other difficult-to-deal-with invasive weeds just fine.

Goats picky eaters ????

I did not think I'd ever see that in print.

I was referring to carbonfarmer's assertion a few posts above.

True, they only eat the best laundry....

WNC, indeed you are correct. The other necessity is for the laid off spouse to take up homesteading instead of trying to go back to work. I have a far more modest operation and during the peak, mid-August to mid-September, it amounts to a second, 20 hour a week, job.

Nigerian dwarf milkers or mini Toggenbergs are better milk producers. The West African pygmies are more of a meat goat. They got taken up by the 4H groups and are widely available.

I goat sat regularly for some urban goats a couple of years ago. The goats fit right into the landscape. There was plenty of browse and garden debris for them until the worst of winter hit, and then it was clear that they would have dried up, miscarried and possibly starved without stockpiled feed. As in all homesteading, even just canning August tomatoes for winter marinara sauce, it's all about thinking ahead.

While thats appealing in many ways, I' not really sure the economics would work out, now or in the future. A quarter acre lot certainly couldn't supply grazing for the goats as well as room for the animals and the garden. This would necessitate importing large amounts of bulky hay to produce small amounts of nutritionally concentrated milk. As fuel prices go up, hay will become more expensive, as will shipping it. On the other hand, its manure for your garden, and I'm sure you could be creative with finding tree prunings for feed in an urban setting.

On a 1/4 acre city or town lot, you aren't going to be producing 100% of your food anyway. It only makes sense to focus on high-value foodstuff, and to buy in bulk the stuff that takes more land to grow but is storable.

My small-town lot is exactly 1/4 acre, and I've done a fair amount of research into this scenario. I have determined that I have enough space to potentially produce for my wife and I: around 75-100% of our vegetables (including potatoes), 25-50% of our fruit (citrus would be the main "import"), 100% of our honey, 100% of our eggs, 75-100% of our meat (chicken and rabbit, mostly), and 75-100% of our dairy products. I could produce a little more fruit and assure myself of 100% production of veggies and potatoes if I cut down all of our shade trees and replaced them with fruit trees, but I don't want to do that.

I do think that someone attempting this scenario would want to take the goats out to graze/brouse on nearby public land fairly often, as the front lawn pasturage would not be nearly enough.

It is true that there is a transportation cost for the bulky hay and feed to figure in, but that can be done in one or two annual trips, whereas fresh milk needs to be transported daily or at least several times per week year-round. If several neighbors have goats, they could go in together to buy hay in larger quantity and have it delivered to a convenient drop-off point in the neighborhood; that would be a more economical way to do it.

My favorite urban garden story:

Published on 22 Jul 2004 by San Francisco Chronicle. Archived on 25 Apr 2005.
Berkeley: Urban farmers produce nearly all their food with a sustainable garden in their backyard

Yes, I remember that one. It is true that few city or town dwellers can actually produce 100% of their food, but most of them can come close enough so that I really don't think that we need to worry about widespread starvation in the US. It is those without access to either land or income who have to worry; that is a problem, but it is not strictly speaking an agricultural problem.

Probably the smartest thing we could be doing right now is pushing for urban Future Farmers of America chapters in as many school districts as possible, with apprentice programs at local gardens/farms. Law schools should probably look into doing the same thing, so that the hordes of unemployed lawyers would have some type of useful job skill.

Or we could hire them (the lawyers that is) to keep down the population of rats and mice. In understand snakes are good at that.



WT along those lines: The University of Nevada Reno (UNR) is eliminating the Agriculture Division due to budget cuts. I personally would eliminate the Economics Department but I don't have any say about it. You know it really is difficult to consider Phd's in control of UNR to be stupid but it seems they qualify. Even in the times of budget cuts, unemployment, etc., they are clueless about what is really happening or important in the world or projecting that into the future.

There will be large greenhouses available, lots of good fenceing, and several irrigated acres available. The cattle department alone is hugh. Too much for one person but a group might be able to benefit.

Oh well, we are starting seeds in the germination box this week.

"There will be large greenhouses available, lots of good fenceing, and several irrigated acres available. The cattle department alone is hugh. Too much for one person but a group might be able to benefit."
I'm not understanding, are they selling off all this stuff?

They just decided last week with the budget cuts to close the department and now they are looking for someone to make a decision for them about land and equipment. Reno Transition would like to have the greenhouses,lease the land, etc. but does not have the money, personel, or other resources to develope the project. RT could put some out of work people to work on it but there are a lot of considerations like interfering with unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare. etc. There was some talk at the Tuesday breakfast but I don't think anything was actually done.

is there any place online I can keep track of this? thanks in advance

I think a lot of folks would be much better off if they could produce even just SOME of their own food. 100% sets the bar unnecessarily high and only discourages people from trying at all.
I don't know squat about growing anything except what little I learned as a child planting radishes and zinnias with my two sisters. But last year I managed to produce a fairly impressive quantity of tomatoes which I cooked and froze. I cooked up a batch each month through the winter turning them into chili and spaghetti sauce. I just cooked my last batch into spaghetti sauce here in February. It matters. People shouldn't get all negative about it.
It does good things for one's head; takes some of the hopelessness and fear out of the future.
I also grew a decent quantity of radishes and green peppers. This spring I'm going to add a few blueberry bushes. Baby steps; I just keep adding something each year and learn as I go.
I know I'll never get to 100%, but I'm very doubtful that that goal is a necessary target for anyone here on the east coast, because there is so much fertile land under cultivation by enough people who really do know what they're doing.

Try raspberries and rhubarb?
Blueberries need acid soil and are fussy about it.
Try spuds too, lots of tasty calories for not too much work.
And there's always zucchini.;^)

Potatoes are on the list.
Raspberries are a good suggestion. I like hardy "weedy" plants that can largely take care of themselves.
The blueberries are an experiment, but they're supposed to grow well here in PA. My friends have been able to grow them. I really would like to get some "breakfast cereal" fruit going because I eat breakfast every single day; the one meal I never skip.

I have converted my mom's old dog kennel (in which the dog never resided) into a semi protected garden. It's a double sized kennel made from two units cinched together. I'm hoping that I can use the kennel sides to support a chicken wire enclosure to keep the birds off of my blueberries long enough for me to be able to have a few;)

Thanks for reposting this. I've been looking for lists of what kind of fruit I might be able to grow in the microclimate of my San Francisco neighborhood, and I'm thinking what will grow in Berkeley might grow here as well . . .

It depends where you are in The City. I have lived 3 places in Marin, all with different conditions, and have had to make adjustments. Wild plums, mushrooms, blackberries, huckleberries in the neighborhood, but could not grow peppers of tomatoes if I tried (they would grow, but would be tasteless green spheres).

I know, microclimates seem to vary here block by block. I live in the eastern, sunnier half of the city. Some people say you can grow early tomatoes here, some say no tomatoes, no way, no how. I just planted five pounds of seed potatoes. Will I get anything for my effort? I consider my garden this year one big experiment.

Potatoes should do great. Chard, Kale, broccoli, mustard greens, lettuce are also easy where you are.
Good luck, and enjoy!

All those crops do great here, the worst climate in the US: northern New England.

Small-scale farming is difficult here, to say the least; but here it is, March, and we're still eating cabbages, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and garlic from last year's garden.

Not to mention all the canned and frozen foods...

A couple of pygmy goats, a few laying hens, a small rabbitry, and bee hives could all be feasible on even a 1/4 acre urban, suburban, or small town lot, plus a big garden.

I think the laws for many cities may have to change for this to be 'allowed.'

Heck, here in Southern California a household is being sued for activities related to switching out their lawn for xeroscaping:


Laws do vary, and they are changing. Since I suspect that most people do want to eat, they will eventually change in most places. Some states might even mandate it if local governments are recalcitrant.

Undoubtedly, there will be a few places that insist on maintaining snob zoning and restrictive land use controls all the way to the bitter end. Last one to leave/starve to death please turn off the lights. More likely, beyond a certain point the noisy, nosey busybodies who insist on blocking their neighbors from doing what they have to do to survive might start finding life becoming more and more unpleasant due to an increasing number of mysterious mishaps.

This may start making a difference on where people choose to live. Of course, if few enough taxpayers remain, the municipal government won't be able to employ any inspectors or code enforcement officers, in which case whatever remains in the ordinance books becomes moot.


Things that work on paper , or in areas with tropical climates, plenty of free mulch, pumped in water,tons of free time, etc, are mostly the exceptions that prove the rule.

I offer in example our family orchards-normally we sell peaches by the truck load.Last year we bought peaches for our personal table due to the vagaries of the weather.

Very small plots of land are very useful for supplementing one's food supply, and for gaining experience in growing your own.

If you are planning on using a commons , or gettting free scraps for chickens from nieghbors, etc,think again-such strategies are unlikely to be practicable if and when they are REALLY needed.

Counting on the production , given all the things that can go wrong , is foolhardy.

Oh, I don't think that anyone can come anywhere close to living 100% off of 1/4 acre. Even one acre is very iffy, and will only work if EVERYTHING is just right. Fat chance of that.

Assuming that things merely just keep getting worse and worse over the next few years or even couple of decades, rather than the complete catastrophic collapse scenario happening, then it will be both quite feasible and quite necessary for most people to try to produce what food they can in order to stretch their budget as far as they can. For such people, having as much as 1/4 acre to work with will be a Godsend, and they could do a lot with it if they tried.

We have discussed this before ......

"Even one acre is very iffy, and will only work if EVERYTHING is just right."

2.5 acres is the minimum per person

Don't know where you got the idea that 1 acre would work if EVERYTHING is right ?

2.5 acres the minimum per person? that seems too much.
can you post the link to your estimates?

there will be a few places that insist on maintaining snob zoning and restrictive land use controls all the way to the bitter end.

I suspect that enforcement of zoning will be a rather low priority when mobs of hungry urban refugees begin to migrate through suburbia.


And even where there are ordinances, there often is wiggle room. Here in the borough where I live, I have found that there are a good number of rules that can be bent (even broken) as long as it's done quietly (NEVER tell town hall or borough council what you plan to do if it's something minor) and as long as no one else is likely to complain about it and call attention to it. I'm pretty sure that in my town chickens would be a problem, though;)

In a lot of smaller communities, enforcement is complaint driven. Bring home a rooster, and you are just asking to be busted. Keep a half dozen laying hens well-hidden from the neighbor's eyes behind a wooden fence, and clean out every day so there are no smells, and it is quite possible that the neighbors - and the local government - need never know that you even have them.

Goats are harder to hide, though, especially if you have to take them to a public park to graze.


Comparing natural gas production with natural gas rig count paints a poor picture of technology. An almost doubling of the rig count bumped up production by 10%.

bio -- It paints an even poorer view of oil/NG investment mentality during a "boom". Jump back to the boom of the late 70's when we had over 4600 rigs running. I can assure you that at least half of those rigs were drilling projects that had little chance of making a profit. That boom in drilling did more harm to the oil patch then any other event in the last 40 years IMHO. Many hundreds of companies went out of business as a result of the "good" times. And many billions of $'s of investor capital went up in smoke. A simple explanation: greed. The investors of the world thought oil/NG investments were are sure thing. And there were more then enough operators ready to shear these sheep for all they could. The recent SG boom wasn't quit the same. Here it was the public companies that pushed themselves to take advantage of what appeared to be a quick and effective way to grow their reserve base. And they convinced themselves that NG prices would stay high enough and last long enough to pay the price tag. Many were very wrong in that expectation and have suffered greatly for it.

RE: "We Are All Pigs Now"

I thought that this was a good article.

I agree that the economic problems we've experienced lately are in fact at least partly due to the run-up in oil prices into the triple digits.

I also agree that most of us in the so-called developed nations are taking on absurd debts to hide the extent of our problems.

We continue to mis-allocate resources to war and over- consumption at a time when we need to focus on peaceful ways to power down.

Overpopulation and over-consumption both need to be addressed but so far I don't see that happening at all in public discourse or in the business world.

Maybe we all think that "someone" will discover a little black box even better than Bloom Energies' box and so we will all live happily ever after.

We face very complex environmental problems which cannot be addressed through techno-magic, in my opinion.

Re: EPA Chief to Testify on Hill as Dissent Over Carbon Rules Grows

Here's a basic comment:

Barton’s resolution asks House members “to deny the overwhelming science that greenhouse-gas pollution is a real and serious threat to the health and welfare of our citizens,” EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said yesterday in a statement. “It disregards the Supreme Court decision that directed us to act and ignores the evidence before our own eyes.”

As usual, the denialist camp wants to continue to ignore reality. It's really sad, since the mechanism needed to limit carbon emissions could also work to minimize the impact of Peak Oil, if done properly. Raising the price of fossil fuels thru a carbon tax will only make the Great Recession worse. Instead of Cap-and-Trade, we need a Carbon Rationing system with a White Market for trading between individuals, starting with oil, and we need it now!

E. Swanson

Instead of Cap-and-Trade, we need a Carbon Rationing system with a White Market for trading between individuals, starting with oil, and we need it now!

Wouldn't these two alternatives be experienced in roughly the same way?

Raising the price of fossil fuels thru a carbon tax will only make the Great Recession worse.

Wouldn't cap-and-trade, or rationing, have the same effect? With all three approaches, the idea is to push consumption down artificially. Wouldn't that push-down be experienced as an extension of the Great Recession irrespective of the details of how it's done? In other words, would it matter all that much whether one couldn't afford to go to work (or to Grandma's) because gas is expensive, or because, instead, gas is unavailable due to being rationed so that getting enough actually to complete the trip is ... well ... expensive?

PaulS, your question raises a good point.

As I envision things, a system which directly rations carbon, (especially oil), would not appear to be the same as a cap-and-trade or carbon tax system, both of which would result in increased prices for the consumer. If a large fraction of the allocated rations were given directly to the consumer, he/she wouldn't see any cost impact in their direct consumption if they consumed less than the amount they were allocated. The rations would of necessity last only a short period, perhaps a month, after which the unused ration would revert to the white market and the user would receive a market based price for their extra allocation. There would be an immediate new allocation as the next round of rations began the next day. If things worked this way, there would be cash in the account to be used to purchase extra allocations, if needed, thus the consumer wouldn't lose any value as the allocations expired. If the consumer used less that the allocation over a long period, say, a year, the consumer would end up with a net positive cash flow, even thou they might occasionally exceeded their monthly allocation to visit grandma or go to the beach.

The white market would be available for folks which did not receive an allocation for various reasons or who might need/want to use more than their allocation at any particular moment. They could purchase what they needed at what ever price the market settled at on a daily basis. To provide a large marketplace, I think that corporations should only be allowed to purchase thru the white market at whatever cost obtained. Since the white market would be "primed" each period with the remaining fraction of the overall allocation, one might expect that the unit price of extra allocations (say, gallons of fuel), would change rather slowly, as the impact of the year over year decline in total allocations began to be felt by the economy.

I would limit corporations to purchases in the white market, since they can pass on their costs directly to the consumer. Also, corporations can spend whatever funds they have to implement improvements in efficiency, thus lowering the price of their finished goods. Thus, the most efficient would be rewarded with lower prices and therefore greater market share. And, given a time table for future allocations, corporations could plan with some assurance that their investments would bare fruit.

Allocations could be set aside for government functions, such as local police and fire crews, schools and road maintenance. It might make sense to provide a limited amount based on population served, then let the rest of the demand be met thru the white market. Again, there would be a strong incentive to use the fuel more efficiently.

I think that this approach should not allow the "banking" of allocations, except thru the normal accumulation of money in the traditional way. Since the allocations would expire, there would be no way to hoard allocations and no opportunity to trade "futures", except as is now done in dollar based markets. I'm not completely sure, but this might also limit the opportunities to "game" the system. The producers would still function in the dollar market, passing on their production costs as now to the consumer in a dollar based market price.

EDIT: On further thought, the Governing body might institute some sort of charge for the allocations credited to the white market each time period. That would indeed be like a tax, but could offset the cost of administration of the system.

Also, the allocations to the consumers would be smoothed if they were staggered, perhaps with 1/4 of the monthly allocations given each weekend. If the system were to be strictly a weekly affair, then 52 weeks or 13 x 4 week periods would be a better division of the 365.25 days of the year than the usual 12 months with different numbers of days each.

E. Swanson

This is extremely difficult to implement.

A tax and dividend does essentially the same thing. If you consume less, you get to keep some of the dividend you got, otherwise you spend more than you got.

Much simpler.

I disagree.

I think that adding a tax with the intent of reducing consumption would result in inflation as everyone who could pass on the price increase would do so. Thus, as the inflation pushes up prices, there would be strong pressure to increase wages, which would negate the impact of the tax for those who had jobs. Another effect would be that those without jobs would be even worse off, which might result in demands for increased subsidies for the unemployed. And, the effectiveness of the tax is thus diminished by inflation, the result being a need to further increase the tax and the amount returned to the consumer as well.

Now, add to the mix the problem of Peak Oil, which would likely push up the price of oil and other energy sources, once the fact becomes obvious to all. As the market turns toward alternatives, wither fossil or renewable, the price of these alternatives might also increase, as the cost of all manufacturing and material production in current dollars is a function of energy cost.

A rationing program could begin at a low level and address only oil initially, transitioning to a full carbon limit as climate change kicks in to the point that folks accept the need to limit those emissions as well. A tax increase will likely have only a short term effect, while a direct allocation with a slow decline in the amount of allocation would produce the least disruption in the financial world. If the goal is to limit the emissions of carbon, a direct rationing program would be much more stable, IMHO.

E. Swanson

Raising the price of fossil fuels thru a carbon tax will only make the Great Recession worse.
Wouldn't cap-and-trade, or rationing, have the same effect? With all three approaches, the idea is to push consumption down artificially.

At this point in time, both a carbon tax and cap-and-trade would probably have similar results: substantial price increases driving down demand. Or as some have said about the health care system, "rationing by price". Rich people could still leave the lights on, the thermostat up, and drive the Hummer to work; poor people not so much. A real WWII-style rationing system is going to have quite different distributional effects. Such a system would include both "coupons" of some sort and price controls. Gas to get to work would be available at an affordable price; gas to get to Grandma's might be available, but at a much higher price, since you would have to pay not only the gas price, but also the market price for coupons.

Contemporary economists don't like rationing or price controls, and many argue that the harmful effects of "rationing by price" due to a carbon tax could be offset by decreases in other taxes. I'm not entirely convinced; the economists assume that if you increase the cost of the carbon someone uses today by $100/month, and give them an additional $100/month in income, they won't use all of the additional income to purchase carbon. That's probably true, but guessing the size of the effect is hard. That's also the main difference between cap-and-trade and a carbon tax at this point: with cap-and-trade you know the effect on the amount of carbon, but not the price; with a carbon tax you know the effect on the price, but not the effect on the amount of carbon.

Raising the price of fossil fuels thru a carbon tax will only make the Great Recession worse.

How about a carbon tax which returned the revenues in the form of lowering the income tax? No net money is drained from either the economy or the government. The balance between hiring one more employee -or using more energy (if say you can make a product with less energy, but it is more labor intensive) would shift. But that should mean a bit less energy use, and a bit more employment. Sounds like win-win to me. Of course if you profit by selling coal, you are a net loser from the change. The problem with our political system is that net losers lobby harder than net winners (who are distributed more widely). And if it promoting investment in energy saving and alternative energy, that might help the economy. Recessions are about demand being lower than productive capacity (hence businesses are idled, and people laid off). Better to spend more by increasing productive investment than on immediate consumption. Either form of spending helps the economy short-term.

Raising the price of fossil fuels thru a carbon tax will only make the Great Recession worse.

Currently the gasoline tax is roughly 18cents for California, and also about 18cents to the Federal gov't.

Perhaps and alternative would be to simply work with this preexisting tax structure, and slowly increase it? (Would it break the backs of commerce to slowly inch that up 1cent at a time, say per quarter year?)

From that keypost ranking European public transit systems:

The study rated public transportation as only "acceptable" in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Oslo, Lisbon, Madrid, London and Budapest.

Dear me. If Paris and Amsterdam, with frequent and comprehensive service, are only "acceptable", then I wonder where that leaves the vast majority of US locations, where, if there's anything at all, it's a bus that arrives in desultory fashion on the order of once an hour (or with luck half-hour) at whatever random times the drivers and managers happen to feel like it, and which can get you to but maybe one-quarter of the city, and most of that only via time-consuming connections that are missed far more often than met.

They would have been on the bottom of the list, but the authors were laughing too hard to be able to come up with an appropriate category.

Just noticed that National Grid in the UK has reduced the GBA trigger (assumed available daily natural gas quantity) from 442 to 429 mcm. Not sure why yet (can't find a reason given so far) but likely either a problem somewhere or another storage site has dropped into the "emergency use only" category. Anyone know more? A quick check of the energy flow data suggests there may be a problem at the St. Fergus terminal.

I notice LRS and MRS storage are both being drained again today after a very slight filling of MRS in the last few days (temperatures reached the giddy heights of around normal for the time of year for a couple of days but we are back colder again now).

This is becoming political again. This from a few days ago but the new search function doesn't find it posted previously.

Britain's gas supplies are in trouble thanks to the Government' claim the Tories

Conservatives today accused the Government of leaving the UK's energy security in a 'fragile' state and suggested the country had only three days' worth of gas in storage.

But the National Grid said it was 'relaxed' about the storage situation, which it said was roughly the same as at the same time last year.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband accused the Tories of 'alarmism', while a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change added that Britain had a 'vast amount of storage - it's called the North Sea.'

The Government argued that the storage figures quoted by the shadow energy secretary were meaningless unless supplies by pipeline from the North Sea and Europe were also taken into account.

This is more a long term issue:

BG Says U.K. Forecast for Natural-Gas Demand Too Low

BG Group Plc said U.K. natural-gas demand will be 30 percent higher than government forecasts by 2020 as wind-energy projects are delayed and aging electricity plants close, requiring more gas-fired power generation.

“The projections from the U.K. government are based on an optimistic potential of renewables to deliver by 2020 and the installation of thousands of offshore wind turbines in particular,” Roger Tucker, BG’s senior vice president for Europe, said today at the Flame conference in Amsterdam.

Britain will consume 95 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2020, about a third more than the government’s forecast, he said.

Hmmmm ... By 2020 Uk will likely have little Nuclear, not enough windmills to even replace current nuclear, and a committment to reduce FF use by >30% from current levels .... ? .... does not compute, except with major recession!

Roger Tucker is doing the very simple sums that the UK Government can't do for themselves.

And who shall pay for that 30 % reduction of FF?
The British public? They have nothing left, zero, nada.
The UK was bankrupt in the 70ies and had a 30 years relief because of North Sea Oil. Now, that's gone too. And as a consequence they are at the verge of bankruptcy again. Just forget the UK, a deindustrialized country, just living at the expense of the "City of London" hedge fund center of the world.

And even for those who cannot do sums there are some graphics available that tell a pretty scary story.

My January 9 post sums up my assessment of the situation pretty thoroughly.

-- Jon

I read so much crap in the news about "green" technologies - greener fuels, greener cars etc. How about shedding some of our population and greening the dryland surface of the earth to get rid of the CO2? The bet on greener technologies is a hopeless cause all by itself.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending February 26, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending February 26, 33 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 81.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.2 million barrels per day last week, up 152 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 471 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 775 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 354 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 4.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 341.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.9 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Oil imports kicked up a bit more towards the end of February (and yes, I did say two weeks ago we should expect that), but overall inventories of all kinds (including refined products and even propane) declined slightly. So even though imports have improved about 1 million bpd over low January levels, that is just barely enough to hold overall inventories steady.

Going forward, initial indications are that oil imports in March will slip back slightly. Since we have not yet entered the summer driving season, there is little cause for concern yet [that concern being available oil and product supplies will reach minimum operating levels]. However in a few more months or so, I expect the effects of westexas' new improved exportland 2.0 to come calling at our door. One reason is that based upon best estimates of offshore stored oil is, well, there just is that much left in the vicinity of the US. It's quite possible that a good chunk of the improved imports we saw in February were the result of draining those offshore supplies.

Unfortunately I can't support my statement by direct evidence, but indirectly, the price of oil should creep ever higher if the import situation does not improve. Granted I think today's upmove in oil had more to do with the falling dollar than anything else.

Pickens lobbys Kerry, Graham and Lieberman for natural gas subsidies:


I'm sure Kerry will be more than willing - given that Pickens essentially killed Kerry's presidential hope through vile lies.

Private-School Refugees

The cachet of private school has taken a hit from the Great Recession, as parents question whether they can afford to pay for it, and whether it's really worth the investment. "Private schools in our area have assumed unlimited demand—the recession has many of us reconsidering the true value of pristine campuses, endless deans and lavish arts programs that train young people to be unemployed," Alex writes.

I think that the idea that ordinary middle class folks can propel their children into the rarified world of the upper class by sending them to private school is an idea that has just about met its demise. The upper classes are going to be contracting, not expanding, so there will be no room for the arrivistes, no matter how smart or talented they may be. The patricians will always make sure that good artisans are well taken care of, but not to the point of allowing them to step up above their place.

The only people who are going to be going to expensive, exclusive private schools in the future are going to be people who don't really need them, whose place in the upper reaches of society is already secure. Private schools will go back to doing what they have traditionally done - not so much educating the superintelligent but rather preparing the superpowerful and super-rich for life amongst their own.

And just so there is no misunderstanding, I absolutely despise everything about what I have just written above.

From the very top: "Green energy policies in the US and China could spell the end of growth in global oil demand, countering a widely held belief that the value of oil will only rise in the future, a US think tank says.'

As the official spokesman on TOD for the entire oil patch let me confirm the near hysterical fear we are current feeling from the onslaught of the alternatives. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat with visions of millions of solar powered vehicles racing across a field of wind turbins stretching from horizon to horizon. And in the distance I see a giant locomotive with Alan atop pulling behind it the entire interstate commerce.

Understand my sarcasm isn't based upon not believing the importance of such a transformation but just the current lack of almost any substantial effort to get us to a greener future. The only fear my cohorts and I harbor is that oil/NG prices will spike again before we amass a large reserve base and are then subject to more competition and higher drilling costs. And they call themselves a "think tank". Perhaps they're thinking in terms of 30 or 40 years down the road. But IMHO at that point I think the alt folks might be living in fear under the shadow of an ever expanding coal industry as it replaces fluid fossil fuels. And not because I see coal as a good alternative to other FF but because I firmly believe TPTB will submit to the will of the public as they demand BAU

Amy Myers, with the Baker Institute, would probably admit to being a space alien before she would acknowledge Peak Oil.

I couldn't agree more. This "think tank", more tank than think seems unable to imagine, that there is just not enough money out there to FINANCE AND SUBSIDIZE those green energy policies.
The whole OECD world is more or less bankrupt, did you check that? The consumer is so heavily indebted, that oil prices over 80$ cannot be paid.

"Green energy" being the standard? Not in your lifetime. It's just too expensive.

And they call themselves a "think tank".

Rock, "advocacy tank" would probably be more accurate. Question is, who dey work for?

Good point T-man. Having been a consultant for about 30 years I understand the "Golden Rule" well. Something of a bastardization of the old line: I "think" therefore I get paid...as long as I think the way they want.

I always summarized my quarter-century working for a giant corporation with the punchline from the old George Bernard Shaw joke: "We know what you are, now we're just negotiating the price."

mc -- Or the other old consultant line: "I can't be bought. But my rental rate is very reasonable".

Think Tank ? Tank as in "The movie tanked at the box office."

So, they suck at thinking.

Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 offer Obama advice:


or here:

Ron Howard production. Solves the riddle of Michele's forearms.

The "silver bullet" of the Iraq wars was literally bullets made out of a magical substance known as "depleted uranium," the 99.3% of uranium that is uranium 238 left over from the enrichment
process of uranium 235. This magical substance will soon become the supposedly non-existent "silver bullet" of the twin energy crises of peak oil and climate change:






One ton of depleted uranium contains as much energy as two million tons of oil. A piece of depleted uranium the size of a golf ball could provide a family of four with a lifetime supply of electricity. It can provide cheap electricity for high speed rail, space heating, electric cars, and synthesis of ammonia for fertilizer and as fuel for trucks and tractors. In fact, a Nimitz-class supercarrier powered directly by fission can travel three million miles without refueling, and possess the capacity to provide a crew of thousands with desalinated drinking water and all their energy while at sea.

The fission breeder has an excellent EROEI of over 200:1, even better than an oil gusher. The Integral Fast Reactor has placed a cap on the cost of electricity for many future generations, if not until the sun consumes the Earth billions of years from now, and this cap ought not exceed current costs of electricity. Whether or not nuclear fusion will match this, and eventually displace the breeder, remains to be seen.

Viva la Nuclear Renaissance!

I believe there are a few minor issues.


Viva la Nuclear Renaissance!

So not only did the Iraq war not result in us taking their oil from them, but we left them with a bunch of "our" uranium. I guess for us its simply lose-lose.

Well folks it looks like the energy Gods smiled on me today. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does I am ever so grateful.

Went to my local petroleum distributor to purchase non road tax diesel fuel. What I paid was $311.77 based on 110 gal. What I took home with me was 120 gallons. Their price per gal was $2.58/gal. my price for the 120 gal less all taxes and user fees, was $2.37/gal. nice break for a change.