Drumbeat: March 4, 2010

Food production in Cuba plummets despite reforms

HAVANA, Cuba - Food production in Havana province is 40 per cent below target this year, causing shortages in the Cuban capital despite reforms under President Raul Castro, official media said on Wednesday.

Cuba's most populous province, which includes the capital city of Havana, is also the country's biggest food producer.

Residents have been complaining about a lack of basics such as sweet potatoes and other root vegetables in the markets.

An article in Communist Party newspaper Granma said the government had not provided enough farm supplies or fuel and that state regulations had hampered delivery of farm products.

Methane seen as growing climate risk

WASHINGTON – Methane, a potent global warming gas, is bubbling out of the frozen Arctic faster than had been expected.

Methane had become trapped in the permafrost over time and a warming climate is now resulting in its release, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"The amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world's oceans," said Natalia Shakhova, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center and the co-author.

EU draws up plans for first direct tax with fuel levy

The European Union is drawing up plans for its first direct tax with a "green" levy on petrol, coal and natural gas that could cost British consumers up to £3 billion.

ConocoPhillips, Vitol Charter Tankers to Ship Fuels to Chile

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips and Vitol Group have booked tankers to ship fuels to Chile, whose refining industry was disrupted by the Feb. 27 earthquake. Morgan Stanley has also chartered a tanker.

Peak oil? How about snake oil!

I keep hearing about peak oil. We are running out of oil. The price can only go one way - up. US production peaked in the 1970s, and as fields decline, they're producing less and less (the average decline in production is 9% a year once a field has passed its peak). No one is finding any new oil, reserves are running down, it's time to panic and within ten years we'll be living in an apocalyptic wasteland reminiscent of Mad Max and the Thunderdome.

Yeah right. Actually there are some very big problems with the peak oil scenario. One is that it's usually the new mantra for those people who in 2007 were telling me that UK residential property could only go up in value because 'They're not making land any more'. No, they're not making land any more - and a good thing too, because if you were making it right now, you'd probably be going bust. Or at least you'd have fired half the staff you had two years ago! Sorry, but peak oil does not guarantee that putting your money in oil stocks is a one-way street. And here's why.

Plumbing the depths: A recent wave of advances is enabling oil companies to detect and recover offshore oil in ever more difficult places

Growing resource nationalism in countries that hold most of the world’s onshore oil reserves is forcing private oil companies to go farther afield. Inconveniently, that means looking for oil in deep water, miles offshore.

This poses daunting physical challenges. Drill strings, the interlocking sections of pipe that are used in offshore drilling, are heavy: the pipe used by Transocean, an offshore-drilling company, weighs over 30kg per metre, for example. Deeper water means a longer and heavier drill string, which in turn requires a bigger platform to support such a large “hook load”. Ever-larger platforms and the increasing use of drill ships—giant vessels that are even heavier than moored platforms—have given companies the heft required to work at greater depths.

Natural Gas Drops to Three-Month Low After U.S. Supply Report

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas futures fell to a three- month low in New York after an Energy Department report showed that stockpiles dropped less than anticipated last week, indicating slowing demand for the heating fuel.

A gas supply surplus to the five-year average expanded to 1.2 percent from 0.7 percent a week earlier, the department said. Forecasts for mild weather and economic reports showing a slow recovery from the recession also weighed on prices. Industrial users account for about 29 percent of gas demand.

How the Big Oil Executive Sees Electric Cars

When asked about the theory of “peak” oil in the world and whether that theory was now dead, Mr. Voser said “I think what is dead is cheap oil.”

Gazprom Boosts Output 14% in January-February on Economy, Cold

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom increased output 14 percent in January and February compared with the first two months of last year as the economy began to recover and Russia and Europe used more fuel during the cold winter.

Petrobras Buys Stake in Block From Repsol, Statoil

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, received approval to buy 30 percent of an offshore block from Repsol YPF and Statoil ASA, the South American country’s oil regulator said.

Have We Reached Peak Tuna?

Barry Foy, author of the fictional culinary reference manual, The Devil’s Food Dictionary, once wrote a story called, “Bluefin tuna finally extinct: ‘Well worth it,’ say sushi fans.” The piece described heads of state and film producers in Japan nibbling on raw beef and watermelon, both substitutes for tuna. Not everyone understood the story was an attempt at satire. And those who were in on the joke weren’t sure there was anything funny about the tuna’s extinction, which, to many, resembled the awful truth. This was nearly two years ago. Things are much worse now.

Lester Brown: Plan B 4.0 by the Numbers - Data Highlights on China’s Changing Energy Economy

Over the past several decades, China has largely relied on coal to provide energy for its rapidly expanding economy. Coal consumption has grown quickly in recent years, doubling from 2002 to 2008. Although it accounts for a smaller share of electricity production, natural gas consumption has been increasing even more quickly, nearly tripling over the same period. Oil, largely used for transportation, is also on the way up, growing by an average of 7 percent each year.

Going forward, however, the picture may be changing, as China is investing heavily in renewable energy. Wind energy in China has grown nearly 10 times faster than fossil fuel consumption, expanding from less than 500 megawatts of capacity in 2002 to over 12,000 megawatts in 2008. The exponential growth of China’s wind energy sector is expected to continue, with major projects moving forward including the Wind Base program’s seven mega-complexes, each with a capacity of 10,000 to 30,000 megawatts. Once built, they will together exceed the entire world’s wind generating capacity at the start of 2008. These ambitious projects are just scratching the surface; a study published in the journal Science calculates that China could generate more than seven times its current electricity consumption from the wind alone.

Plot to grow vegetables outside Belsize Park Tube station

TUBE station forecourts are usually the haunt of newspaper sellers or smokers grabbing a ­cigarette, but the pavements outside Belsize Park Tube could become a mouth-watering vegetable garden if green group Transition Belsize get their way.

Whither Our Exit?

In Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit — a play I once directed — one of the character opines, “Hell is other people.” Alan Farago’s article, “The Potemkin Village Economy,” is a good example of why this statement is so often true. It is also a superb illustration of the forces impeding our ability to limit our ecological footprint. Think Kunstler meets Kafka. Kunstler being James Howard Kunstler. A new urbanist, author of The Long Emergency, and star of the documentary Escape from Suburbia. Kafka needs no introduction. Suffice to say both men meditate usefully on how hard it is to escape ‘The system’.

Somali pirates seize Saudi tanker: official

NAIROBI (AFP) – Somali pirates have captured a small Saudi tanker and its crew of 14 in the Gulf of Aden, a Kenyan maritime official said Wednesday.

The MT Al Nisr Al Saudi, a 5,136 deadweight-tonne tanker, was seized Monday with its Greek captain and 13 Sri Lankan crew members, said Andrew Mwangura, who heads the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.

"It was on its way from Japan to Jeddah" in Saudi Arabia, he said.

Syria denies concealing nuclear activities

VIENNA -- Syria on Thursday denied hiding nuclear activities from the world and said Israel was the source of suspicious uranium particles found at a Syrian desert complex bombed two years ago by the Jewish state.

Libya warns US oil players over row

Libya's top oil official today summoned the local heads of US energy companies to tell them a diplomatic row with Washington could have a negative impact on US businesses in Libya, the state oil company said.

Hedging Against Cheaper Oil

Maria asked, "Do you think the price of oil is about to spike higher because Israel and the U.S. will soon attack Iran to stop it from making a nuclear bomb? If so, do you recommend that I buy oil company stocks, or an oil ETF?"

No to the first question and, thus, no to the second.

Bangaladesh: Sloppy handling hurts govt's ambitious gas exploration

The government's 'fast-track' gas exploration programme involving foreign companies drilling wells in state-owned onshore gas fields is limping thanks to a lack of coordination among the energy ministry high-ups, officials said Wednesday.

It could not short-list the aspiring foreign bidders even after five month's of receiving the expression of interest (EoI) from them to carry out the much-needed gas exploration and seismic activities in the unexplored gas fields.

Asia supply to ease China’s gas shortage

China will avoid a gas shortage this year thanks to increased supplies from sources such as Central Asia, the country’s energy chief said after a winter supply squeeze led to gas rationing.

Power Cuts From Drought Will Hit Manila

MANILA — The city of Manila and several neighboring provinces will experience blackouts in the coming days as the energy crisis worsens in the Philippines, utilities officials said Thursday.

...The Philippines are struggling with shortfalls in power generation because of a drought — created by the weather phenomenon El Niño weather — that has devastated more than a dozen provinces, many of which rely on hydroelectric plants.

Striking a blow for wind power

(CNN) -- Wind power provides a fifth of Denmark's electricity, most of it generated by giant wind farms built on land and in the country's coastal waters.

But the tiny Danish island of Samso is proving bigger isn't necessarily better by generating all its electricity using wind turbines of its own.

Electric vehicle range: What, me worry? - Studies show ‘range anxiety’ may be low hurdle for EV acceptance

To all those cities worrying about how they are going to get wired for electric vehicles: Fret not. "Range anxiety" may not be as acute as you think.

Studies of drivers who already have electric cars are finding that they prefer the convenience of charging at home, and despite their vehicles’ limited range, most are able to avoid public charging.

Energy Department Files to Withdraw Yucca Mountain License Application

WASHINGTON—The Energy Department filed to withdraw an application for a nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain, formally seeking Wednesday to reverse a Bush administration policy.

The Uncertainty Factor

In the late ’60s, one year after Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was first given permission to begin construction on the plant, geologists discovered a monster fault capable of generating a 7.5 earthquake just three miles offshore of Avila Beach. The discovery of the Hosgri Fault — named after the two Shell Oil geologists who mapped it — sent Diablo Canyon’s future into a tailspin for six years. An animated, grassroots anti-nuke campaign began, during which 10,000 people were arrested for acts of civil disobedience. At last, and at great expense, Diablo Canyon was rebuilt to withstand the worst Hosgri quake probable, and by the mid 1980s, the plant was delivering 2,200 megawatts of electricity a year, enough to power nearly two million California households. For the last 22 years, the Hosgri Fault was the defining seismic factor concerning the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

But 15 months ago, the seismic picture got a whole lot more complicated. And more troubling.

John Michael Greer: An Exergy Crisis

In last week’s Archdruid Report post, I discussed the difference between energy and exergy, or in slightly less jargon-laden terms, between the quantity of energy and the concentration of energy. It’s hard to think of a more critical difference to keep in mind if you’re trying to make sense of the predicament of modern industrial civilization, but it’s even harder to think of a point more often missed in the rising spiral of debates about that predicament.

The basic principle is simple enough, and bears repeating here: the amount of work you get out of a given energy source depends, not on the quantity of energy in the source, but on the difference in energy concentration between the energy source and the environment. That’s basic thermodynamics, of the sort that every high school student used to learn in physics class back in those far-off days when American high school students took physics classes worth the name. Put that principle to work, though, and the results are often highly counterintuitive; this probably has more than a little to do with the way that even professional scientists miss them, and fumble predictions as a result.

Richard Heinberg: Life after growth - What if the economy doesn't recover?

In late 2009 and early 2010, the economy showed some signs of renewed vigor. Understandably, everyone wants it to get "back to normal." But here's a disturbing thought: What if that is not possible? What if the goalposts have been moved, the rules rewritten, the game changed? What if the decades-long era of economic growth based on ever-increasing rates of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption is over, finished, and done? What if the economic conditions that all of us grew up expecting to continue practically forever were merely a blip on history's timeline?

It's an uncomfortable idea, but one that cannot be ignored: The "normal" late-20th century economy of seemingly endless growth actually emerged from an aberrant set of conditions that cannot be perpetuated.

That "normal" is gone. One way or another, a "new normal" will emerge to replace it. Can we build a different, more sustainable economy to replace the one now in tatters?

An Ominous Drilling Sign for the Truth

The Interior Department under Barack Obama offered for sale more acres of dry-land drilling on public lands than the Bush Administration had at the same point in 2008.

An economy in a state of rigor mortis doesn’t need oil to lubricate an engine that blew up on October 29, 2008, and our way of life won’t come back if the oil industry creates a handful of jobs or we reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Oil falls toward $80 after 2-day jump

A stronger dollar pushed oil prices down toward $80 a barrel Thursday after a two-day jump fueled by growing investor optimism that global crude demand is recovering.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for April delivery was down 38 cents to $80.49 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed $1.19 to settle at $80.87 on Wednesday after rising 98 cents on Tuesday.

Terrorist Group Planning Malacca Oil-Tanker Attacks

(Bloomberg) -- A terror alert from the Singapore navy to oil tankers in the Malacca Strait, a shipping lane that’s almost six times busier than the Suez Canal, may be linked to regional groups associated with al-Qaeda.

Singapore’s navy has “received indication” that a terrorist group is planning attacks on oil tankers in the Malacca Strait, according to an advisory today from its Information Fusion Centre.

“The warning should be taken seriously,” Rohan Gunaratna, the head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said in an interview. “There are terrorist groups in the region that have the intent to carry out terrorist attacks and some of these groups have relationships with al-Qaeda.”

FACTBOX - Malacca Strait is a strategic 'chokepoint'

REUTERS - Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia said on Thursday they are stepping up security in the Strait of Malacca, a key shipping lane for world trade, following warnings of possible attacks on oil tankers in the area.

Here is some key information about the strait.

Nigeria rebel faction says attacks Agip oil facility

ABUJA (Reuters) - A militant faction in Nigeria's restive Niger Delta said on Thursday it had blown up an oil manifold operated by Italy's Agip in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

China, Russia Agree on Gas Supply Pricing Formula

(Bloomberg) -- China reached an initial agreement with Russia on the pricing formula for the supply of natural gas to the world’s second-biggest energy-consuming country.

Pricing was the “most difficult part” of the negotiations, Zhang Guobao, the head of China’s National Energy Administration, told reporters after a meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the country’s legislature. Prices of Russian gas sold to China will be linked to oil prices under a formula, Zhang said, without elaborating.

Norway 2010 spending outlook cut

Norway’s national statistic agency today cut its oil and gas investment forecast for 2010 to Nkr135.6 billion ($23 billion), down Nkr3 billion from its forecast in the last quarter of 2009.

Iraq Opening to BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell for First Time Since 1972

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one.

Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored.

Reliance Said to Have No Plans to Raise Lyondell Bid

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. has no plans to increase its bid for bankrupt chemicals maker LyondellBasell Industries AF following the rejection of its $14.5 billion offer, two people briefed on the matter said.

Market conditions didn’t justify raising the offer further, the people said yesterday, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media. Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, may be prompted to spend Reliance’s $3.5 billion of cash elsewhere, analyst Victor Shum said.

Shell Aims for ‘New Nigeria’ as Qatari Plant Starts

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc spent $19 billion to build the world’s largest gas-to-liquids project, triple the original estimate. Now, it’s pay-off time and the plant may generate $6 billion a year for the company and Qatar.

China all at sea over Japan island row

Japan's Okinotori Island, which has a Tokyo postal address even though it lies roughly 1,770 kilometers south of the capital and it is actually a pair of tiny islets, has become a bone of contention for China.

Among other things, China refuses to grant it island status, and refers to it instead as an atoll, reef or simply a rock. By doing so, China hopes to throttle back Japan's plan to create an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) there. The dispute over Okinotori, which Japan calls Okinotorishima, persists because it involves strategic concerns and rights to undersea resources over an area that is roughly equivalent to the entire land mass of the four main Japanese islands.

US, EU, urge Syria to drop nuclear secrecy

VIENNA -- The U.S. and the European Union are urging Syria to stop stonewalling attempts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate its nuclear activities.

Clinton Fails to Win Brazilian Support for UN Sanctions on Iran

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Brazil failed to win support for tougher United Nations penalties on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

China car sales speed past U.S. as world's top auto market

The Chinese auto industry grew nearly 50% last year after the government unleashed $15 billion in auto incentives, about five times the size of the U.S. auto industry's cash-for-clunkers program. But analysts question how much of the Chinese market's growth is sustainable. Manufacturers here are struggling to appeal to consumers in their own market. And the quality of Chinese brands, while improving, still lags behind foreign ones.

Hummer, symbol of machismo, may be headed to graveyard

A single sticky note, left on Russ Builta's 2005 Hummer, sums up the emotion stirred by the super-sized SUVs. "You are polluting our air and abusing our national resources," the unsigned note said. "And all because of greed and selfishness. You should be very ashamed of yourself."

Builta, who served in the Marine Corps, still gets mad: "It was not even on recycled paper!"

Builta installed a supercharger that gave his Hummer a whopping 600 horsepower. When he really mashed the pedal, it got 1 mile per gallon. "It would just move," he told CNN iReport.

Senators Want ‘Buy American’ Rule in Stimulus

Four Democratic senators are calling on the Obama administration to halt spending on a renewable energy program in the economic stimulus package until rules are in place to assure that the projects use predominantly American labor and materials.

The senators said that more than three-fourths of $2 billion spent on wind-energy projects supported by the stimulus package had gone to foreign companies. They said that effectively undercut the purpose of the stimulus program — formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — which is to jump-start the American economy and create jobs here.

Is ARPA-E Enough to Keep the U.S. on the Cutting-Edge of a Clean Energy Revolution?

Just 37 technologies qualified for government funds, with each getting an average $4 million. They were selected from 3,700 applications and from among the 75 percent that weren't disqualified for violating the first or second law of thermodynamics, according to Arun Majumdar, ARPA-E's first director. Yet, the bulk of them are old ideas dusted off after years of storage.

From California, Chinese Solar Maker Looks East

Yingli, the Chinese solar module maker that captured nearly a third of the California market last year, has struck a deal to supply a New Jersey developer with more than 10 megawatts of photovoltaic panels.

The agreement announced Tuesday with SunDurance Energy for the first time brings Yingli’s reach to the East Coast. SunDurance, owned by a construction and engineering firm, the Conti Group, will install the Yingli solar panels on rooftops, in carports and in ground-mounted solar farms.

Wave, Tidal Energy May Power 1.4 Million U.K. Homes

(Bloomberg) -- Wave and tidal energy may provide 2,000 megawatts of power to the U.K. by 2020, enough for about 1.4 million homes, Energy and Climate-Change Minister David Kidney said.

“We have faith in these industries proving themselves and being a big contributor to fighting climate change,” the U.K. minister said today in London.

Report: SC depleted uranium likely unfit for Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A report commissioned by an environmental group says several thousand tons of depleted uranium from a former nuclear weapons complex in South Carolina is likely unfit for disposal in Utah.

That includes some low-level radioactive waste that may already be buried in the state.

The report released by Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah on Wednesday says the amount and type of material doesn't meet the federal requirements for disposal at EnergySolutions Inc.'s site.

Can Wild Bison Repopulate the Plains?

After three years of meetings and study, a broad array of conservation groups, government scientists and other experts on North American wildlife policy have produced a road map for restoring some large free-roaming populations of bison in the North American plains.

The Earth has its own set of rules

By far our most prevalent view of nature derives from a rudimentary human desire for more. This is the basis of the economic model that currently directs our relationships with one another and with our environment. It has produced stupendous human population growth and dramatic, deleterious effects on nature. Recognizing these effects, efforts have been marshaled to change the self-serving economic model with notions of Earth "stewardship," eloquently advanced decades ago by then-Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, and, most recently, to infiltrate the economic model with "ecosystem services" by assigning monetary values to functions performed by the Earth that are beneficial to people.

All of these views are fundamentally and dangerously flawed, because all are anthropocentric. They begin and end with humans. This isn't the way the Earth works.

Earth Charter Group To Hold Saturday Summit (Connecticut)

The Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley will host its annual summit event on Saturday, March 6, at the Gelston House.

Keynote speaker for the event will be James Howard Kunstler, author of a number of books focused on ecology.

That Whole Internet Thing's Not Going To Work Out: How to suss out bad tech predictions

In 1995, Clifford Stoll, an astronomer, author, and mad-scientist type, published a column in Newsweek with a doozy of a headline: "The Internet? Bah!" The piece was based on Stoll's book, Silicon Snake Oil, in which he argued that we were all being taken for a ride by tech pundits who offered dreamy visions of a coming "information superhighway." "Baloney," Stoll wrote. "The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works."

...Given how wrong they tend to be, it's generally a good idea to ignore all predictions. The future is unknowable — especially in the digital age, when we're constantly barraged with new technologies. Still, we'll never stop being obsessed with the future. With that in mind, it would be nice to have some idea of which predictions to trust and which to dismiss. Here are a few rules for separating the good from the bad.

Shifting Soil Threatens Homes’ Foundations

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association indicates that since the 1990s there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours. Whether due to random climate patterns or global warming, the swings between hot and dry weather and severe rain or snow have profoundly affected soil underneath buildings.

NAELS 2010 Staying Afloat: Adapting to Climate Change in the Gulf Coast and Beyond

Beginning March 4, 2010, the Environmental Law Society at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law will host the 2010 Annual NAELS Conference -- Staying Afloat: Adapting to Climate Change in the Gulf Coast and Beyond.

The Conference will bring together top attorneys, engineers, business leaders, environmentalists, scientists, and planners from New Orleans, Louisiana, the US, and the world to discuss how New Orleans, hundreds of low-lying coastal cities like it, and an interdependent world community will adapt to ever-increasing populations and a rapidly changing climate in the coming century.

France's sea walls battered by recent storm

L'AIGUILLON-SUR-MER, France - The moon was full, the wind roared, the tide was high and people died by the dozens.

After a wall of ocean water engulfed picturesque towns along France's Atlantic coast, residents, officials and experts are all asking why.

Was it due to climate change? A freak storm fueled by hurricane-force winds? The result of human greed over desirable land or bungling actions by government officials?

Katrina victims seek to sue greenhouse gas emitters

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Victims of Hurricane Katrina are seeking to sue carbon gas-emitting multinationals for helping fuel global warming and boosting the devastating 2005 storm, legal documents showed.

The class action suit brought by residents from southern Mississippi, which was ravaged by hurricane-force winds and driving rains, was first filed just weeks after the August 2005 storm hit.

Texas-based refiners pledge to fund fight against California's global warming law

Two Texas-based refinery giants have pledged as much as $2 million to fund signature gathering for a ballot initiative to suspend California's landmark global warming law, according to Sacramento sources.

The companies, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., own refineries in California that would be forced under the law to slash emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Major change is needed if the IPCC hopes to survive

Well before the recent controversies, the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was marred by an unwillingness to listen to dissenting points of view, an inadequate system for dealing with errors, conflicts of interest, and political advocacy. The latest allegations of inaccuracies should be an impetus for sweeping reform.

‘Missteps’ Don’t Negate Climate Science, Obama Adviser Says

(Bloomberg) -- The disclosure of research “missteps” hasn’t shaken the consensus that manmade emissions from burning fossil fuels are contributing to climate change, President Barack Obama’s top science adviser said.

The release of scientists’ e-mails and errors in a report by a United Nations climate panel show researchers are human, John Holdren said today at an energy conference in Washington’s Maryland suburbs. The errors don’t alter the reality that carbon dioxide emissions are warming the earth, he said.

Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

...The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Rate of Glacier Melting May be Key Clue to Tracking Climate Change

The vast amounts of water stored in glaciers play crucial roles in river flows, hydropower generation and agricultural production, contributing to steady run-off for Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus rivers in Asia and elsewhere.

But many are melting rapidly, with the pace picking up over the past decade, giving glaciers a central role in the debate over causes and impacts of climate change.

Stuart Staniford: The US in a High Emissions Scenario

Given that emissions are growing faster than the IPCC has studied, that the world has been unwilling or unable to agree on any meaningful global treaty, with the largest emitters, China and the United States, in particular unwilling to make any meaningful attempt to limit emissions, I wanted to look at the question "How bad are things in a high emissions scenario?" In particular, in this post, I look at the period 2080-2100. My children were born in 2000 and 2002, so 2080-2100 represents the likely end of their lives, all being well. So this is a summary of the changes they will experience over the course of their lives.

Re: Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets

Not a new issue in this story. Some of the most vocal deniers of Global Warming also have Fundamentalist backgrounds. My favorite example is John Christy, who began as a Baptist preacher and missionary to Kenya. Christy still teaches Sunday School at his Baptist church. How it happened that he partnered with Roy Spencer, also a Creationist, is a point of great curiosity to me. Then there was Arthur Robinson of the OISM Petition (with a bogus report mailing which appeared to be from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) fame.

E. Swanson

Just one more plank to be laid into place, and the New Yahwist Trinity is complete:

The Dominion of YHWH ELOHIM:

Creationism -- Climate Change Denial -- Abiotic Oil

Evolution isn't true; therefore, the "dinosaur theory" of oil can't be true.

"And ELOHIM called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and ELOHIM saw that it was good....

And the evening and the morning were the third day."
Gen 1:10, 13

Let's not forget our friend, James Inhofe, their favorite point man and power broker. The most fundamentalist Presby I've ever seen.

In January 2003, Inhofe became the Chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. As Chairman, his priorities include strengthening our Nation's infrastructure, continuing strong environmental protections and improving national security. He said he will work to restore common sense and sound science to the regulatory decisions of the Environmental Protection Agency on such issues as climate variability, clean air mandates, wetlands, and endangered species.


Common sense in this context typically translates into - "we don't need no pointy headed scientists telling us what sound science is - the corporations and their all knowing accountants and economists can do that just fine - thank you very much..."


There - common sense - courtesy of Inhofe...

Of course, "sound science" is an oxymoron (pronounced oxa-mowron in OK) to these guys.

Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System

I oppose the modern view of how the solar system works. I intend to fight very hard for the Ptolemaic system to be taught as an alternative theory in all public schools. I believe students should here the theory that the sun is at the center of the universe and all the planets revolve around it in perfect circles and epicycles.
I believe students should have the right to decide for themselves whether the earth is at the center of the universe or not.


Actually, you gave the heliocentric view. I am so tired of modernist trying to rewrite the Bible. The Ptolemaic system is the proper, geocentric view. Anyone with eyes can see the Sun goes around the Earth, which as the Bible says is the center of the Universe, and was created soley and entirely to be home to and be subjugated by man, who in turn was created ... well you know the story.



I stand corrected.

Might be time to watch this again.

I just finished praying to my porcelain likeness of Joe Pesci holding a bat.


Arthur Robinson is indeed an interesting individual. His home schooled children have all gone on toward advanced degrees including nuclear engineering and vet school. Noah is among the youngest ever to obtain a Ph.D from Cal Tech. One reason that some may have signed the petition was that there was no excessive dogmatism. Arthur can be an extreme cornucopian, especially about matters nuclear. I know him fairly well but am not one of his favorite people. http://www.petitionproject.org/instructions_for_signing_petition.php


Some background on Dr. Robinson and his (in)famous petition:


"The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine website's homepage says:
The Institute currently has six faculty members, several regular volunteers, and a larger number of other volunteers who work on occasional projects."

The Home Page's current navigation bar lists 8 individuals under the "Faculty" heading. Two of those listed are deceased, and two are sons of OISM's head, Arthur B. Robinson. Yet even though the OISM credentials 8 persons as "Faculty", it has no classrooms, or student body.
"The OISM is located on a farm about 7 miles from the town of Cave Junction, Oregon (population 1,126). Located slightly east of Siskiyou National Forest, Cave Junction is one of several small towns nestled in the Illinois Valley, whose total population is 15,000."

These T-shirts are dead brilliant:

Because we know that dinosaur bones were really planted by beelzebub

Teach the Controversy

God planted dinosaur bones to test our faith.

Wrong! God created the universe 6000 years ago already 12 billion or so years old.

Whats your favourite color?

No, it was last Thursday. Childhood memories were implanted.

Re: Terrorist Group Planning Malacca Oil-Tanker Attacks (uptop)

As the competition for declining oil exports heats up in future years between developed countries like the US and developing countries like "Chindia," many people assume that we will see armed conflict. It's certainly possible, but the captioned article illustrates why I think that it is actually unlikely, for a very simple reason: Even if the US seizes control of oil fields outside of North America, we have to ship the oil to our shores in tankers, and tankers are very vulnerable targets--vulnerable to everything from submarines to special forces divers attaching explosive devices.

Note that since Chindia is presently winning the economic battle for oil exports, the presumption is that the US would actually be the first aggressor, presumably acting to force exporters to ship oil to our shores, but as noted above, tankers are very vulnerable targets.

IMO, a more likely scenario is that the US is going to be forced to make do with a declining share of a falling volume of global net oil exports.

One can envision many subtle ways to attack a large tanker. They are sitting ducks, so to speak.

With the advent of low cost computers and small computer based controllers, one attack might employ a crude torpedo which could be towed far behind a small sailing vessel which used a fiber optic link to set the target direction and to launch the torpedo. The sailing ship would appear unarmed and unlikely to be a threat until the torpedo was launched. The sailing ship could drop the tow cable and fiber link after launch and continue on course as if nothing had happened. There would be no easy way to place blame for such an attack, since the first supposition would be that a sub had launched the torpedo. If the cocaine cowboys can build mini-subs, similar rebel groups could build a torpedo. An attack like that could also happen in the Gulf of Mexico or the Persian Gulf...

E. Swanson

A simple mine would would work just as well?

It would take a lot of attacks to close a 1 mi strait though. A destroyed ship would just be an obstacle, not a blockage. A few attacks would drastically change pricing equations, though.

China wouldn't have to close any straits. They would simply have to sink one or more tankers, or just threaten to sink them, directly off our shores.

Again, my premise is that the US would "Fire the first shot," by interfering with the free flow of oil at market prices. A very interesting twist would be if the US tried to force oil to our shores from fields that China had bought control of.

What would China do if this strait were closed? One sub could pretty well shut down either oil strait.

A destabilized world could go into full oil shock pretty quickly.

Even a credible threat would tie up all the tankers in port. The "insurance bomb" is a pretty effective weapon.

It is, but oil is important enough that governments will likely step in to provide insurance if necessary. Kinda like Florida is providing hurricane insurance for people who can't get it via the free market.

I agree with the governments provide insurance.

Another option would be for the government to buy the tanker out right. The owner of a tanker will go bankrupt if he tanker spends many months or a few years in port, so there will be willing sellers of tankers.

We should also bear in mind that China does not own the tankers, they are probably register in places like Liberia or Panama. In theory, I believe that these countries could force these tankers to sail against the owners wishes. I can see a situtation where the USA or China goes to a smaller country, gives them a few billion of foreign aid and the tankers are forced to sail.

Another scenario is that China or the USA would simply seize the tankers on a pretext. Since they tankers are flag in countries of convenience, the United States would not have committed an act of war against anyone with the power to do squat about it.

Another scenario would be for a country to have its special forces to simply damage the export facility to apply pressure on a third party. For example, Israel could simply cripple Iran by not attacking the fortified nuclear facilities but by attacking the port facilities. Seeing Israel do this action would not surprise me. They could simply bomb the oil terminals the next time Hamas kills an Israeli.

I guess it's easier to sink tankers then to defend them.

As westexas points out, physically blocking a passage is not the point. As a prime example, if one tanker is sunk in the Persian Gulf, the cost of insuring tankers for trips into the Gulf would go ballistic. The cost of a trip would become astronomical and no tanker owner would willingly allow his ship(s) to travel into the line of fire. The result would be an instant cut in global oil exports and a large spike in the price of oil world wide...

E. Swanson

Big, slow tankers will be easy to find and damage, but they will be hard to sink due to being compartmentalized and great bulk.

As to mines, when the US Navy was escorting Kuwaitty tankers, we put the tankers in front of the warships to blow up any mines that got in the way.

Most modern tankers are designed to spill a minimal amount of oil in a collision or grounding, by using many compartments and double-walled hulls. This design should also make them less vulnerable to torpedoes and mines.

During World War 2 tankers carried substantial quantities of oil to England from America in spite of a determined and well-armed enemy. There were losses, but enough oil got through to maintain the war effort. Efforts to stop the flow of oil will only be partially successful in the future, no matter who is doing the stopping, as long as the destination country remains armed and determined.

There is a huge difference between the effects resulting from most collision/groundings and the high explosives used in torpedos.

Again, the premise is that the US is effectively the aggressor--interfering in the free flow of oil at market prices. How many sunk and damaged supertankers off our shores would it take for the US to give up on trying to force oil supplies to the US? Incidentally, our vast network of pipelines would also be inviting targets for special forces operations.

Having to convoy tankers would be rather expensive...and what better target for a small nuke than a tanker convoy with 2 cruisers as an escort? Very tricky to maintain an exclusionary zone around one, until it was far out at sea.

The other half of the equation is maintaining and protecting the fields and pipelines themselves. The Iraq invasion doesn't seem to be very cost-effective or producing in a timely fashion...12 to 15 years from invasion to your gas pump? Oh, wait...it's probably going to someone else's pump...is it possible to sell that idea again?

Why would terrorists want to attack ships and not receive credit? I don't know how thick the hulls are on the larger tankers, but I imagine RPG-7s are available in most of the world. A few explosions on deck of one of these vessels would probably mess up the ship insurance industry.

It is already happening.

The attacks are becoming more dangerous for crew members, though. More than 20 ships were fired on with rocket-propelled grenades last year, including tankers and chemical tankers. In one incident, two grenades lodged in the door of a ship's bridge - the area where the captain steers from. Many other ships were damaged by small-arms fire, according to reports from IMB.


More than 20 ships were fired on with rocket-propelled grenades last year, including tankers and chemical tankers.

I can forsee private companies and governments starting to have UAV escorts or monitoring via orbital flightpath for the areas of contention. Having wake-detetion software for UAV sensors, in the ground monitoring stations, for the small attack ships used by pirates doesn't seem too far in the future, either.

It is my understanding that UAVs are being used in Pakistan, from what I read in the news from time to time. Perhaps it is simply a small matter of time before they are deployed for tanker protection.

Iraq - The Tanker War, 1984-87

Iraq's motives in increasing the tempo included a desire to break the stalemate, presumably by cutting off Iran's oil exports and by thus forcing Tehran to the negotiating table. Repeated Iraqi efforts failed to put Iran's main oil exporting terminal at Khark Island out of commission, however. Iran retaliated by attacking first a Kuwaiti oil tanker near Bahrain on May 13 and then a Saudi tanker in Saudi waters five days later, making it clear that if Iraq continued to interfere with Iran's shipping, no Gulf state would be safe.

These sustained attacks cut Iranian oil exports in half, reduced shipping in the Gulf by 25 percent, led Lloyd's of London to increase its insurance rates on tankers, and slowed Gulf oil supplies to the rest of the world; moreover, the Saudi decision in 1984 to shoot down an Iranian Phantom jet intruding in Saudi territorial waters played an important role in ending both belligerents' attempts to internationalize the tanker war. Iraq and Iran accepted a 1984 UN-sponsored moratorium on the shelling of civilian targets, and Tehran later proposed an extension of the moratorium to include Gulf shipping, a proposal the Iraqis rejected unless it were to included their own Gulf ports.

I'm inclined to think that the only thing that military interventions can do wrt oil is to destroy the oil production and export infrastructure. Useful, if all you want to do is to deny it to your adversaries. However, it is of absolutely no use at all for getting more oil for yourself.

We've tried this once already, in Iraq. How many times are we going to have to try it before we learn this lesson?

The key word phrase is demand destruction.

I think we will continue to make excuses to wipe out the infrastructure of ever larger countries and regions to reduce their internal demand.

But then again I'm a paranoid whack job.

Snohomish County may lose Sunday bus service

By cutting Sundays, managers are striving to preserve the bulk of the busier weekday service, although some cuts are planned there, too.

After putting up a brave face through a gas-price spike followed by recession, Snohomish County's public-transit agency is succumbing to a 15 percent drop in sales-tax revenue since 2007.

Its response points to a profound shift in the mission of public transit. Instead of serving mainly as a social-safety net for those who cannot drive, Community Transit has focused on surmounting gridlock for commuters.

We have come to expect so much from our local governments. It will be interesting to watch and see what new social networks arise to take the place of declining government largess.

Best Hopes for Increased Community Involvement.

-- Jon

And the post office is going to five days a week.

There was a story back in 2004, about a town in California that was cutting bus service to a distant trailer park. Couldn't afford the fuel any more. People were freaking out because it was the only way the kids who lived there had to get to and from school. Most of the people who lived there were illegal immigrants, and the parents didn't own cars. I never did find out what happened.

I can live with 5X/wk postal delivery, but I hope they keep the post offices open Saturday morning. For those of us who work weekdays, that is usually the only time we can actually get there - which we now HAVE to do if we want to mail a parcel.

I suspect that eventually door-to-door delivery will go as well. Each neighborhood will have a cluster of mailboxes, and you'll have to go there to get your mail. It may eventually cut back to 2X or 3X per week, too.

When the five-day postal service scenario was first raised, there was talk of Tuesday being the off day. Because that's the day with the lowest volume. I wish they'd gone with that instead. It is convenient to have Saturday service, if you're a working stiff. For example, when the management of my apartment complex mails out lease renewals certified mail, they time it so they arrive on Saturday - when people are likely to be home to sign for them.

our world is coming to an end, and you guys are focused on snail mail.........

I think this is what the end of the world is going to look like. Mail service less often. Fewer rest stops on the highway. As someone said, life becomes a little coarser. So gradually many don't even notice.

Right, no one noticed the Great Depression. And if it had gotten ten times worse no one would have noticed that either. So almost certainly no one will notice when the economy totally collapses.

Ron P.

P.S. I know you are just being sarcastic Leanan. But you should be more careful. When you say something that sounds really, really dumb, some people who don't know better may actually believe you

I'm not being sarcastic.

I think we may have another Great Depression, but as the Boston Globe article pointed out, a Depression today won't look like the one in the '30s.

a Depression today won't look like the one in the '30s.

Leanan, I think the strongest argument for that is the following I read: 'now there are a lot of households with 2 incomes and when 1 loses his/her job it won't get to bad and could even get better because there is time to cook and eat more healthy, etc.' Which prediction (yours or Ron's)comes true, I don't know. Anyhow I would like this discussion to go on some further, because of the importance.

Maybe we are closer than you think. Picked up the mail today. Two items, one ours, one for someone a few blocksa away. Our neighbor got the rest of our mail. Maybe they can no longer hire/employ people who can read an address?

When I was a kid, 3 cents for a stamp & 2 deliveries/day; that ended in '50.

I think a case can be made that "collapse is already here." We just haven't noticed. Real wages haven't risen in decades, we've gone from one worker being able to support a family to needing two, we've taken on more and more debt. Yes, along the way there have been some dramatic events, at least for some of us - the gas shortages of the '70s, riots in NY or LA, blue-collar jobs being offshored - but few see the big picture, because it's happened so gradually. At least as humans judge such things.

The trouble is with that word "collapse" - it can be stretched to cover everything from a slow-motion catabolic collapse that takes many decades (or even centuries) to a building implosion that takes seconds. The images that come to most people's minds, though, tend very much more to the second than to the first. This is why I prefer to speak in terms of "decline" and call myself a "declinist".

Real catastrophic collapse may happen, but if and when it does, there will be no mistaking it.


our world is coming to an end, and you guys are focused on snail mail.........

Well, I think somebody DID make a movie about it. . . . .

This is in a nutshell the very problem -- vested interest. Everyone wants what is best for him/her personally. Which is greed really when you come right down to it. And we can couch it in terms of the poor and downtrodden, or working stiff, whatever suits you. But, it's all the same. Really. None of us, including me, especially me, are really willing to give up what we need to. To make it just. I always said that I would gladly reduce my standard of living to half it would help raise the standard of living for others. But, then, we squabble over which days we will or won't receive our mail? Most of which is utter junk. Not even opened. Directly deposited into recycling. I say, if we are going to make some changes, make them. Dramatically. Imagine a world that we might wish to have. And change accordingly. Why not have mail just three days per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Isn't that enough? To get all that junk mail? And let's reduce the school days to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Isn't three days enough to warp the minds of our young ones? Maybe just one day would be enough. Too much probably.

I have long argued for a reduced working week. All govs would be horrified - loss of GDP! loss of sales taxes [we might all be poorer..]

The monetarists always harp on about the pool of money being sized according to GDP, but no-one points out that if it took [hypothetical] 12 hours work [average] to feed a man 12000 years ago, now we have shrink wrap, fork lifts, fossil fuels, time management etc..now it takes less. Lets say 3 hours. so what do we do? We keep the same working pattern for 100s of years, and keep other workers unemployed..

There is only [x] amount of work out there.

I'd be happy with one day a week. If it were Saturday.

I hate to throw out a plug but M. King Hubbert said all this stuff and offered a solution back in 1940.
It still applies today.
Let's face it the people that control the economy absolutely will not give up even the slightest amount of their power/wealth to help the poor.
They are mentally ill and have the "empathy" gene completely missing from their DNA.
This is going to take nothing less than a revolution........as it always has in the past.


Maybe we should have another look at this stuff.
Big Gav did something on it in late 2008 maybe a follow-up?

Around here trash gets picked up twice a week, with trucks/crews covering two rotations (M-Th, Tues-Fri), with Weds as a truck service day or holiday week shuffle. Seems like that would work for the post office home delivery too, perhaps with business routes 5 days a week, and Sat a post-office-only day.

Really, nobody uses snail mail for urgent stuff anyway, so making it more efficient at non-urgent delivery makes sense. Cutting routes so that more people to the post-office won't help save fuel or overall people-time, though. Having one small truck make the rounds is better than having many people driving to and fro.

Nobody uses snail mail? I just bought some land thru an auction after a foreclosure by a bank. The closing papers were sent to me via an e-mail using Acrobat PDF. The next day (Friday), I printed the paperwork after an update, drove the 40 miles to the bank, transferred the required funds, signed and notarized the papers and put them into the mail using Priority. The package was delivered the next day, which was a Saturday, not that the lawyer was likely to be there. I didn't use Overnight and the cost for mailing was less than $6.

I've had rather good luck with Priority Mail, which seems to compete well against FedEx...

EDIT: I just ordered 2 books from Amazon on Monday night. They appeared in my PO Box today, shipped via Priority.

E. Swanson

Land transactions are one of the few cases remaining where the physical movement of documents by mail is required, as are original signatures (duly witnessed or notarised) ... and often the movement of cheques and other forms of funding instruments that you cannot transact from home. And even the physical requirements for land transactions are mainly illusory and superfluous ... just giving lawyers and land office bureaucracies something to do.

Neither Todd nor I get mail delivery. Neither of us goes to town on a daily basis for mail. No Saturday service, either. Somehow, we manage to survive.

I pick up my mail in a different county, about twice a month.

Not only that, Mike, but I have a 30 mile round trip. And, people complain they won't get mail 6 days a week to their door; Grump!

We did get magazines delivered to a mail box on the county road for a few years. The problem was that the road the mailman took was often closed for weeks at a time by snow at higher elevations. We finally said the heck with it.


I can live with 5X/wk postal delivery, but I hope they keep the post offices open Saturday morning. For those of us who work weekdays, that is usually the only time we can actually get there - which we now HAVE to do if we want to mail a parcel.

Not to worry WNC, I'm sure the 4 day work week will soon be the norm for those that still have jobs ;-)

I'll it believe when it happens. When I started at the Post Office this is the poop that was put out everytime they wanted to raise rates. That was 30 years ago. And when I quit nearly 20 years ago they were still threatening it and have been ever since.

The problem is that if no mail service is offered on Saturday, private mail service may have a window of opportunity to set up shop. The Post Office has a monopoly on first class mail delivery. But if they don't offer Saturday delivery competition may emerge for that niche.

However this time Saturday delivery may actually come to an end. And that is because of the internet. Mail volume is dropping so dramatically now that there is no alternative and even private first class competition may not work. Junk mail which is subsidized by first class at the Post Office is in free fall as advertisers abandon it for the internet.

The Post Office is becoming more and more obsolete just like newspapers, magazines and broadcast/cable television. The Post Office now suffers from not only the decline in junk mail but also the decline of newspaper and magazines sent by mail.

This is coupled with ever rising fuel costs due to Peak Oil. Remember that a Postal Vehicle goes by every address in the country everyday mail or not. This is putting a quadruple whammy on its budget. They are stuck with high labor costs, high fuel costs, declining mail use and limits to technology to improve efficiency.

When I quit they were phasing out automated sorting machines on which I sorted bad zip code mail at a rate of 50 per minute to the proper zip code for Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs. I didn't think they could devise an electronic machine that could read hand writing and do the same thing, but they did.

Now these advances have been in place for a long time and there are likely few more savings from electronic sorting. The remaining physical delivery costs can not be reduced by computer electronics.

The Post Office is in a death spiral like the MSM.

The internet rules.

They say there are going to be more of these for your mailing pleasure:


Oregon has a plan. How could this not work?

"Oregon may invest pension money in troubled-bank rescues"


I'll bet the financial advisor will make huge bonus.

The idea is to preemptively take advantage of this:


"FDIC Friday Lotto: Another Reason Why Banks Are Not Lending"

Thanks, Leanan, for posting the Staniford article about GCC impacts in the US. People especially need to take a long, hard look at the graphic on projected precipitation level changes.

There hardly seems to be any place at all in the "lower 48" that isn't going to see diminished precipitation over part of the year, especially during the critical summer growing months. My own southern Appalachians appear to not fare too badly, but for much of the rest of the nation this is going to be pretty bad.

Keep this information if you are considering relocating - or if you haven't considered it yet, but maybe should be!

WNC, My three rain gauges averaged out to 72.75 inches (1.85 meters) for 2009, a record since I've been logging data. This following our "100 year drought". Many folks lost their crops due to too much rain. Just a few miles SW of you. I'm not sure all of this rain is going to be a good thing. Too bad we can't export it.

It generally exports itself...downhill. Sometimes there's a 'glut'....

Not everyone believes Staniford's outcomes. I know i have received e-mails to the effect that his calculations are likely incorrect.

These are not Stuarts outcomes or his calculations. From the report:

"What is this report?
This report summarizes the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It is largely based on results of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP),a and integrates those results with related research from around the world. This report discusses climate-related impacts for various societal and environmental sec- tors and regions across the nation. It is an authoritative scientific report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.

Who called for it, who wrote it, and who approved it?
The USGCRP called for this report. An expert team of scientists operating under the authority of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, assisted by communication specialists, wrote the document. The report was exten- sively reviewed and revised based on comments from experts and the public. The report was approved by its lead USGCRP Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmo- spheric Administration, the other USGCRP agencies, and the Committee on the Environment and Natural Re- sources on behalf of the National Science and Technol- ogy Council.b This report meets all Federal requirements associated with the Information Quality Act, including those pertaining to public comment and transparency."

Yes. Of course, we ARE talking about climate predictions for 90 years in the future. The probability of it turning out exactly that way, or even close to what was projected, must be just about zero. Nevertheless, predicting that most of the lower 48 will eventually be getting more heat and less water seems to me to be pretty likely.

My comment above was about what I thought self evident, that the old method of attacking the messenger, especially in this case, was both wrong and uncalled for. I am still quite surprised.

today's technology that will save the earth :)

it's about artificial photosynthesis

From the article:

"The automobile. After all, in 1898, concerned civic leaders from around the world gathered because estimates predicted that London would be buried under three meters of manure at then current rates of growth; New York City would have piles reaching to the third story of buildings. Within two decades, that problem was entirely gone. "They didn't see the automobile industry coming," Nocera said. "Shift happens.""

Ha, yeah, the car solved ALL our problems! Why is it then we are trying to find something to replace them? Now, instead of three meters of manure we have been stuck in 9 years of war and .5 degrees of warming.

Link up top: Richard Heinberg: Life after growth - What if the economy doesn't recover?

It is possible for economies to persist for centuries or millennia with no or minimal growth. That is how most economies operated until recent times. If billions of people through countless generations lived without economic growth, we can do so as well—now and far into the future. The end of growth does not mean the end of the world.

Well billions of people through countless generations have not lived without economic growth. Not billions at the same time anyway, if that is what he meant. It was only millions back then and life was tough, very tough. And there was growth, very limited growth but growth nevertheless.

The population grew very, very slow during all history up until the industrial revolution. During all historical times it was growth in lands cultivated, or growth in the efficiency of farming methods or growth in local trade and industry that accompanied growth in the population. True, everything grew at a snails pace but so did the population.

It is impossible to accommodate growth in the population without growth in the economy. Also in historical times the population grew much slower because of lower fertility rates due to malnutrition and women dying in childbirth. And of course the death rates were much higher in those days also.

Simply for Richard to say that “we did it before therefore we can do it again” omits a world of hard life, misery, disease and death. He also omits the fact that the population is many times greater than in the times of extremely slow growth.

There were never long periods of no growth, only extremely slow growth as the population grew at about the same extremely slow pace. And all that slowness was due primarily to the work of the Four Horsemen.

Go back to those times. No way in hell, not with seven billion people anyway.

Life in a non-growing economy can be fulfilling, interesting, and secure.

With seven billion people... and growing? Richard, give me a break! You should know better than that.

Energy and Human Evolution

People who believe that a stable population can live in balance with the productive capacity of the environment may see a slowdown in the growth of population and energy consumption as evidence of approaching equilibrium. But when one understands the process that has been responsible for population growth, it becomes clear that an end to growth is the beginning of collapse.

Ron P.

I think that Heinberg's goal is to stimulate positive action, not despair.

At the expense of the truth?

Albert Einstein:
"The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. . . . The ordinary objects of human endeavour -- property, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible."

Why all the whining, day in and day out?

Is there no joy in tranquility and peace with nature? Technology, for the sake of technology is coming to an end. Enjoy the Beautiful world that the rest of the animal life enjoys.

The sooner the better for those of us who can live with Nature and still love life.

Here here!


All of this talk! Kanshiketsu!

I think by today's standard..., Einstein would be regarded as a diehard liberal.

A crazy peacenik.

Enjoy the Beautiful world that the rest of the animal life enjoys.

Animal life is only beautiful in (most) t.v. documentaries. Real nature is a lot of suffering and most offspring dying.

Actually, animal docs tend to focus on hunting and other dramatic activity, while most animals most of the time aren't doing much. Try spending an afternoon watching a duck in a pond some afternoon--not much going on. No one is going to make a movie of that, but that's the kind of activity most animals are in most of the time. Yes there are more beautiful, more dramatic, and more ugly moments, but those aren't the norm.

Suspect you are right. The 'oil depletion protocal' and the newer 'path to sustainable energy production' (to which I have serious questions) are attempts to short circut the expectations for growth/high consumption mentality that will certainly cause untold hardship and suffering in the not-to-distant.

Akin to saying there is no reason merikans couldn't live on a fraction of the energy and food productive capacity their currently configured institutions need to survive. I think he correctly sees that if we could just get around that 'perceived human nature' thingy we could begin to devise workable alternatives to BAU.

He seems to want to see this world of possibilities as opposed to the alternative MAD. So little time to re-frame the conversation but probably worth a shot. Hard to say where minds will follow sometimes.

I was going to post this on Nate's thread the other day but this seems like a good place to mention it...

I think there would be value were people to revisit the hippie/counter culture/alternative lifestyle literature of the late 60's and early 70's. There really was some good stuff! It seems like yesterday to me but it occurred so "long ago" that I believe lots of younger people have no idea that possible future paths were written about in detail...and actually tried by thousands.

At the very least, people should take a look at the Whole Earth catalogs and early Mother Earth News'.


As a Gen X'er I have learned that one has to approach the Whole Earth and especially Stuart Brand as another flavor of 20th century technocopian fantasy. Not that there isn't good stuff to be found, but there is also a lot of lessons to be learned from the failures of the great ideas that were presented as solutions back then.

I was corresponding with a friend about Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental 'heresies' TED talk that was pro Nuke and pro-geoengineering and such.

Brand ends with his evolving quote:

"We are as Gods, so we may as well get good at it" from the '60's Whole Earth catalog to

"We are as Gods, and we HAVE to get good at it" today.

Brand needs to get some humility. We are not as gods, we are merely humans. When we stop chasing godlike powers and revel in the wonder of nature's techniques, we can see the solutions. Organic Permaculture and small resilient communities sharing information are good examples.

The fundamental problem with humanity is believing that we are separate from nature, that we are as gods. That is what sickens me about Brand's talk.

Just because we can destroy the planet's current ecosystem, that does not make us gods. It means we're in population overshoot. Happens all the time in nature. We are no different than yeast in that regard.

The biggest problem is "grand solutions". We need to give up on the idea that we know what we are doing, and apply an extreme diversity of solutions in small scale ways.

Brand is so rooted in technocracy that he can't see the inability of people to grasp the consequences of their lifestyles on the planet and how damaging that is. The big cities manage resources no better than the rural ones, they just have better access to the energy surplus of fossil fuels. Successfully replacing fossil fuels with some other "sustainable" energy supply will not stop our destruction of the planet. It may slow climate change, but the rest of the resource pressures on the planet will remain.

Stewart Brand left the path of wisdom decades ago. I remember back in the mid-70's he became a big booster for Gerard K. O'Neill's concept of Space Colonies, as though it was some sort of solution to some sort of problem. He devoted an issue of his CoEvolution Quarterly to the topic, breathlessly proclaiming the end of limits.

Over the next few issues, there was an excellent exchange of "open letters" between him and Wendell Berry that revealed him to be a very pollyannish thinker. Berry gave up trying to get through to him, in sorrow it seemed. Me too.

Life in a non-growing economy can be fulfilling, interesting, and secure.

Well, interesting, maybe. One out of three ain't bad.

Life in a non-growing economy can also be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

"Non-growth" isn't the same thing as "decline" though. Unfortunately, we'll have to go through decline before we even reach that "non-growth" economy.

As I have subtracted "discretionary" expenses from my budget the unintended consequences are beginning to become apparent. For me, the first things to go were restaurant meals and movies at the multiplex. I really don't care much about either, so they were "easy" targets. But then I realize that both also contain a relevant social component. These can be replaced with less costly social activities, of course. The moral, I guess, is that one change necessitates others in compensation.

Life in a non-growing economy can also be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

That could be a matter of semantics and perspective. Compared to today, I agree. Compared to the totality of human existence, I think the correct description is "Normal".

If I go on vacation to a nice resort with gourmet meals, free wet bar, complete maid service, etc, when I accept that as my new norm, the thought of returning to the drudgery of my normal work life at home could be described as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

Perhaps we should view things from a perspective that for the last 3 centuries, our species has been on a Fossil fuel financed vacation from reality and it is about time for us to get back to work.*

*of course there won't be 7 billion of us returning to the office.

respectfully, ej

Not to worry - if life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish", it will seem long ;-)

Interesting that aboriginal and "Second" or "third world" populations reort greater satisfaction than us "rich" people no?

I suspect that we'll probably see peak population before mid-century, then begin a long decline. Birth rates falling below replacement rates will by itself be enough to eventually accomplish that. More and more countries are falling below replacement rate, long-term economic decline will push most of the rest of them in that direction. Maybe not a fast enough population decline for your tastes, but it will happen. The interesting question is: how does the human population stop the decline and level out short of extinction? My guess is that below-replacement rate birth rates don't go on forever, once the population declines to the point where people feel they have lots of room again, they'll go back to something close to replacement rate.

WNC, I expect you may be correct if....

If our supply of fossil fuel stays on a plateau and never drops below current levels.

If water tables around the world stop dropping, especially in China and India where they are dropping by meters per year.

If the world's topsoil stops being depleted and stops blowing and washing away.

If deserts stop expanding.

If ocean levels never rise more than a few inches above the current level.

If rivers stop drying up.

If inland seas and lakes stop drying up and water pollution stops and introduced species like Asian carp and the zebra mussel disappear.

If trees in both rain forest and dry forest start to replace themselves as fast as they are being cut down.

And if economies around the world stabilize and no more than ten percent of them go bust.

Otherwise we are in for a rather fast crash, going from deep overshoot to deep undershoot in less than half a century, perhaps in as little as a quarter century if war and hoarding starts as I expect it will.

The human population will never go extinct barring a world catastrophe like a meteor hitting the earth. The reason being that we occupy every niche of the earth, from the desert to the forest to the mountains to the arctic. The chances are millions to one that there will be survivors somewhere.

Ron P.

"The chances are millions to one that there will be survivors somewhere."

Damn, you've ruined my day.
Sorry, lost control.

oh..., who wants any part of a mad max/planet of the apes, future anyway...?

Count me in! Sure looks like Charlton Heston had some fun!

Oh, wait...you mean, that was just make believe? I don't get to have a pretty girl who doesn't talk and do battle with evolution-denying apes?

actually, when I mentioned planet of the apes..., I was thinking more about a combination of the statue of liberty partially sticking out of the ground with road warriors hording gas in the foreground....

but, I guess that image didn't really come across.

The only alternative to this would be another of Heston's movies.

"Soylent Green is made of people!"

OH, I expect that there will be various spikes in death rates here and there, for one reason or another, and this will speed the decline in population faster than will happen by the mere decline in birth rates.

My main point is that I just don't see the need to worry about human population continuing to go up and up, or even remaining at present levels. One way or another, and as one pace or another, it will come downt

Your list sounds a lot like Australia, Ron.

But I am a bit surprised at the easy dismissal of a steady-state economy on here ... I thought it might be more front and centre as a goal to strive for.

For example, my partner teaches in a local primary school (Catholic) with about 400 pupils - it varies year on year from 360 to 440, but the school supports about 40 people on staff (with some having part-time hours, or job-sharing arrangements, and the like). There is no requirement to grow, and its focus is on providing the best schooling for that community within its financial and people resources. I can't see how that model cannot be applied to all things - in the commercial world as well. Especially in the commercial world.

Why can't commercial companies work on the principle that supplying a steady level of widgets (with vagaries because of all sorts of factors) is the point of the project? We would need to eliminate the stock market divorced from reality - so that shares in these companies stay linked to the companies themselves. They raise capital by issuing more shares, and the shares stay the same value/price (making adjustments for CPI etc), and pay a dividend return to the shareholders. So the local company making washing machines makes 300 units a month, to meet the modest demands of modest population growth, and the replacement of old machines.

The executives of the company do not have their salaries tied to stock price, because the stock price doesn't change ... their motivation is the production of good machines to compete in the market place, running an efficient operation, and to maintain the supply as best it can. We might drop from 50 companies to four (and the same for breakfast cereal, pop tarts, and toilet paper) without huge loss in lifestyle. Seems to me this can be applied to the whole earth. It might also take people working 25 hours a week instead of 40, but again, this does not make life brutal and unacceptably tough for most ... in fact a three-day week might lead to a better life overall.

The executives of the company do not have their salaries tied to stock price, because the stock price doesn't change ... their motivation is the production of good machines to compete in the market place, running an efficient operation, and to maintain the supply as best it can. We might drop from 50 companies to four (and the same for breakfast cereal, pop tarts, and toilet paper) without huge loss in lifestyle. Seems to me this can be applied to the whole earth. It might also take people working 25 hours a week instead of 40, but again, this does not make life brutal and unacceptably tough for most ... in fact a three-day week might lead to a better life overall.

Let me know when you've returned to planet Earth.

I think I can rest my case, Your Honour. Some people just cannot see beyond the growth or death paradigm ... even though assuredly they will have to one day. Planet Earth is not the same as Planet Wall Street, but there are none so blind, etc ...

We have run occasional key posts on steady-state economies.

However, they are so different from what we are used to that it's really hard for most of us to wrap our brains around.

For example, you mention "modest population growth." A steady state economy means no population growth. If the economic pie is no longer growing, then one person cannot have a bigger piece without someone else getting a smaller one. And each new person means less for someone else.

As Heinberg points out, people have lived this way in the past, but it's a huge change...much larger than your example suggests.

Example he suggests is something most people don't want in corporate world - where everything is tied to "career growth". If the company doesn't grow, there is no career growth. The "smart money" is always chasing better returns. That is really at the crux of the problem.

If the company doesn't grow, there is no career growth.

I think this is going to be the biggest problem. No growth means no jobs. With our growing population, there are 100,000-200,000 new workers entering the work force each month (depending on who's counting). Plus all those workers who expect "career growth." I think that's what makes capitalism - and inequality - bearable. We tell ourselves that if you're willing to work hard, you will rise to the top. Or if not the top, at least the middle class.

Without growth, we become something like a feudal society, where the wealth in concentrated in the hands of a few, and people born into poverty have no chance to rise above it.

For this reason, many models of steady-state economies include ways to prevent people for accumulating too much wealth. Such as not allowing inheritances - everyone starts over from scratch. (No, I'm not expecting that to happen any time soon.)

The best historical example of a steady-state economy I've seen is Japan in the Edo period. Everything was recycled, including human waste. Trees were not cut down; instead, branches and brush, which could regrow in a year were used. It was possible because they kept their population stable.

Of course, people will always mature. They will gain experience, skill and wisdom as they age, and then they die. That sets up a natural, but limited, "career" ladder for people as they advance through their lifetimes. Start out as an apprentice in your youth, then spend the next decade or two as a journeyman, and then end your last couple of decades of working life as a master. That has been the pattern going way, way back.

Also, even in a steady-state economy, people will continue to use their brains, and will continue to discover and invent things. These will create new opportunities for slicing the pie, even if the overall size of the pie does not change.

As for the supply of jobs, the best way to think about this is to go back to first principles. In a society where no agricultural surplus is produced, then everyone has to work as subsistence farmers. If you have no land to work, then you starve. It is only when societies start to produce an agricultural surplus that the problem of employing people starts to become a problem. The greater the surplus, the larger the percentage of the population that CAN work off the farm, and that also MUST work off the farm.

Of course, it is largely thanks to the inputs of FF energy (in the form of manufactured machinery and the energy to run it, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, irrigation systems, and long-distance food transport and processing) that we have been able to produce such huge surpluses, and thus have such a massive portion of our population (actually, almost all of it) needing work off of the farm. As the FFs deplete, and as the renewable energy that we must resort to as replacements are less concentrated (thanks to Greer for pointing this out), we will certainly have to at least partially unwind this, and the surpluses that our agriculture can produce must decrease. This in turn is going to have to imply that our agriculture is going to have to become more labor-intensive, and a larger percentage of the population is going to have to become employed - at least in part - with producing food.

Similar substitutions of energy for human labor have been going on throughout the economy. Indeed, when we talk about "economic growth", just about anything in excess of the underlying population growth is mostly a consequence of this one megatrend. As the FFs deplete and are replaced (only in part) with less-concentrated renewables, there will almost certainly have to be a similar unwind occuring across all sectors of the economy. A less energy-intensive economy is going to have to become a more labor-intensive one.

This, of course, can only happen if the price of labor - wages - are allowed to fall to their market clearing rate. Labor can only substitute for energy when it becomes less expensive than energy. The increasing scarcity of energy will accomplish most of this as its price rises. However, this means that the only way that we can avoid masses of unemployed people is if their wages do not rise along with energy prices (and prices of just about all other material goods, reflected in their imbedded energy).

This, however, presents another problem, and one with which many societies throughout history have stuggled: how to enable those working for market-clearing (and thus low) wages to subsist? Today we would use the term "living wage" to describe this, and our problem is that we probably are not going to be able to both minimize unemployment and also assure that all those who are employed earn a "living wage" - at least not unless we can also drive that "living wage" down by making it possible for the lowest-paid workers to live very cheap indeed. There are probably a number of interventions that governments could consider wrt housing, food, transportation, and health care, to help those at the bottom of the wage scale. It is hard to do this in a way that doesn't create perverse incentives against working, but with careful thought and effort it may be possible. The main thing required is going to have to be to radically reduce expectations. If you are an unskilled, inexperienced manual laborer, you might get adequate grub, a uniform to wear, a bunk bed under a roof within walking distance of your workplace, and occasionally a medic or nurse or PA might look at your health complaints, but that is about it. In other words, not much different at all from what life in the army has been like for the typical foot soldier throughout history.

A relevant quote from Wither Our Exit? above:

The moment I am talking about would in, and of, itself change nothing but our perceptions. And yet by the alchemy of this transformative conceptual inversion most of what we previously thought we knew would be changed, and as a result so too would our behaviour. Absent this exceedingly unlikely ‘awakening’, escape from ‘The system’ as represented by business as usual will not occur. At least not on the timelines represented by climate change, resource depletion and population. Instead market forces will prevail and demand will be the least of the destruction that we witness. Scale, scope, inertia, careerism, greed, deregulation, myopia, ignorance, intranational, intergenerational, and international mistrust, and the gospel of GDP growth — everywhere still espoused by governments and business – all vitiate the possibility or worse work in the opposite direction.

Cargill, are you capable of viewing the big picture? The big picture is that the natural world, continents, countries, states, cities, towns, communities, families, corporations and businesses are all to varying degrees interdependent.

Has your school increased wages for staff, janitors and gardeners and maintenance personnel?
Has the school modernized with computers and the internet? Have school fees increased? Has the demographics of the pupil population changed? Have government grants increased?

How can you possibly argue that school has existed as an island and rejected growth.
The whole grows and the whole declines. If the school did not grow with the times the teachers go where they are remunerated in respect to the economic circumstances. The same with the pupils, they will go where they can be schooled according to their circumstances.

So the school grows, declines or remains stable commensurate with the economic environment like everything else, if it does not grow then it is effectively declining and it will eventually die because of it.

Are you arguing for continued growth in consumption, because stagnation is brutal???

There are only several solutions to the population time bomb.

1. Let some babies die again, like in the good old days.

2. Have smaller families.

3. Or, let nature run its course..., possible population crash.

Choose one….

1. Are you kidding? Human babies are special and need to be saved at any cost. Even ones that are premature and hopelessly defective need to be saved. Even unborn babies are sacred. (A pregnant woman in Iowa was recently arrested for thinking about having an abortion and falling down a flight of stairs. Fetal endangerment is a crime in Iowa.)

2. No way! Having a family is an essential part of the human experience. Those with no children are just selfish and missing out. And everyone knows that only children have all kinds of problems.

Guess that leaves #3.

I knew you were going there.

I don't even have to click the link to know where he's going.

I knew I should have avoided that link.....

Maybe everyone caught wasting sperm on a dirty magazine should be charged with manslaughter.

Are you arguing for continued growth in consumption, because stagnation is brutal???

Obviously I am not arguing for anything. I have never argued for any kind of wholesale action by the people of the world. I have always said you cannot alter the direction of the world.

Your solutions are silly. If you were dictator of the world you might dictate that people let their babies die or have smaller families. But you are not so people will go their merry way, doing what they have always done, until events alter their lives drastically.

Ron P.

I'm kind of partial to the idea of having smaller familes. People are doing it in "old Europe," and North America...,

what's wrong with that option?

I thought I was a doomer...,

I have one. That's plenty enough. Two is good once your reach equilibrium.


I am glad to see someone else who shares these thoughts.

Nature is the one and only dictator.

All this talk and planning is useless but I like being here because, rather then most places on the internet, I am more likely to meet people like you Ron.


Environmentalists can't win because God commanded us screw things up.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

It doesn't seem to say, grow exponentially for a little while....
I guess we've been ordered to grow until we collapse....

unless, there is a translation problem.

Hmmm....I can read that list and say,

Fruitful and multiply - check
Replenish and subdue - check
Dominion - check

But that's kinda chapter 1 stuff. Can't we consider that part "done" and move on to the "good steward" part?

Adam and Eve were caretakers and their jobwas to protect the land, not to harm. The Midrash (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13) makes this quite clear: “When God created Adam, He took him and led him round all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him, “See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are! Now all that I have created, I created foryour benefit. Be careful that you do not ruin and destroy My world; for if you destroy it there is no one torepair it after you.”

Ha! You are arguing about a myth!

Good thing about sacred literature is that you can pick and choose.

That slow growth historically was always limited by fuel. When so many people lived in Europe, they cut so much forest that they could no longer sustain. At that point, with huge population and poor diet and health, there was a plague induced dieback of about 35% or more.

As fuel runs out, or becomes unavilable due to cost, large numbers will again be malnourished, and we will se new plagues spreading and contributing to the die back. Not only starvation, you see, is in play during resource induced die back.


Yes...everything's on the table on our post-peak cooked planet, including all of the below:
1) decreased birthrate and family size and diminished reproductive success for most individuals (variety of reasons)
2) increase in infant mortality
3) increase in child mortality
4) spread of infectious disease and lack of medical care for all diseases
5) starvation
6) war
7) state sanctioned genocide
8) murder
9) suicide
10) increase in mortality for elderly and diminished life span
11) nuclear holocaust

Although, to be fair, I expect numbers 1 through 5 to have the biggest impact. After all, we made it through WW1 and WW2 with not even a dent in global population.

Re: China all at sea over Japan island row, up top.

Perhaps China should buy some islands from Greece. Germany thinks they should sell some to help pay off debt:


This may be the solution for American debt as well. We might be able to sell Hawaii to Japan. We've known they want it since Pearl Harbor and Japanese tourists love it.

China which is even more resource hungry than Japan might be interested in some uninhabited Alaskan islands. But that may not be enough to pay off the American debt China holds. It may take the whole state to pay off the debt.

Personally I would favor selling California to China. But that too may not be enough too cover the debt when its state debt and deficits are taken into account.

Maybe China will just buy up farm land in Iowa. They could hire knowledgeable local farmers to manage, but bring in their own people to run the tractors and combines.

I am surprised if they have not already started doing something like that.

What would the people of Iowa do about that, X?


That would be interesting to see unfold. I would love to see local reaction. I wouldn't mind Canada buying Wisconsin... Hopefully current residents can be granted citizenship, healthcare and secure jobs in the tar sludge patch :)

JWS -- Sorry don't have a link but saw a story some months back about China buying farmland in Africa and S. America.

Yeah, the Chinese are buying up farmland in Africa. So are the Saudis.

Both China and Saudi Arabia need more land to feed their people, and they can easily outbid the people of Africa for it.

Of course, Africa has a food shortage problem of its own, but the African leaders don't much care. From the African leaders' perspective, what is important is the amount of money that ends up in their pockets. Farmland is much like oil in that regard.

Actually, the Greeks should sell some islands to the Maldives. They are seriously looking for higher ground to which they can relocate. What with the methane now bubbling up, they'll be treading water pretty soon now.

Aging boomers face stark economics

It’s a double whammy: no job and no health insurance. Many boomers are in far worse shape than Blattman. Some have turned to free clinics. It’s just one indication that the health care crisis is really an economic crisis. And for the boomers it’s only going to get tougher, according to Harvard financial historian Niall Ferguson.

“If they’ve done their homework, then they’ll be afraid,” he said. “Very afraid.”

Ferguson says it won’t be easy to care for a generation with ailing bodies and many more years to live.

“The baby boomers have set us on a path towards a massive fiscal crisis,” he said. “Which is going to hit as the baby boomers retire.”

Households left behind as productivity surges

WASHINGTON - Productivity in the final three months of last year surged at a faster pace than previously thought as labor costs fell more rapidly.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that productivity jumped at an annual rate of 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter, even better than an initial estimate of a 6.2 percent growth rate. Unit labor costs fell at a rate of 5.9 percent, a bigger drop than the 4.4 percent decline initially estimated.

The combination of rising productivity and falling labor costs bolsters company profits and helps keep inflation at bay. But it also puts American households under stress, leaving them with less income to increase consumer spending, the key ingredient to economic growth.

And the videotape of efforts to increase output per worker, for those who are still employed;


Things Boomers hear, circa 1970s:

"Need a job? Get experience!"

"Need experience? Get a job!"

Things Boomers hear, circa 2010s:

"We youngsters can't afford to support you oldsters any more. Get a job!"

"You oldsters are blocking the way for the yongster's advancement. Get out of the way!"


“The baby boomers have set us on a path towards a massive fiscal crisis,”
I wouldn't be so fast to pin the blame on any one group... I'm hearing that a lot of college grads are (as soon as they are able) buying homes at bank auctions with intent to flip when prices go up.

Why are they doing this?

They say that they hear "analysts" saying that the real estate market is improving.

Can any one group operate on ?misinformation?

I wonder if Niall Ferguson considers himself a boomer. Technically, he is one, though one of the youngest.

Some count the end of the BB as 1964. If so, I'm a pretty tiny percentile of the tail. I guess watching all my BB elders helped me to be a little more objective...

Whatever the intent, the Boomers were a the helm during the most flagrantly self-destructive phases of recent history:
- Watching the US oil peak come and go with nary a notice
- Shortly afterward scrambling to survive the first oil crisis, but then halting alt energy and nukes in '80
- Selling of our industrial base in conversion to a service economy
- Converting from a production economy to a financially driven one
- Eroding the walls between gov't, high finance, and big industry
- Doing nothing about population control and little about anything else related to "limits to growth"
- Maintaining a cognitive dissonance about the role of gov't and the notion of low taxes while the Boomers were working coupled with high expenditures when they hope to retire
- Creating an educational system, welfare system, and media system which ensures that few will "get it", and fewer will do anything about it.

All in all, I think humanity today is to humanity of most eras as dogs are to wolves -- we're stuck in some weird perpetual adolescence where no action carries permanent consequences and no hard decisions have to be made. Probably you could say the generations after the Boomers are no better -- the Boomers win out in the impact category simple due to numbers.

- Watching the US oil peak come and go with nary a notice

Actually, I did notice. I was just a Freshman in college. What was I supposed to do about it? I did use the bus or bicycle or walked during my college days, and commuted by bus when I got my first job. My wife and I have driven small, fuel-efficient cars all our lives. What else was I supposed to do?

- Shortly afterward scrambling to survive the first oil crisis, but then halting alt energy and nukes in '80

I was all in favor of alt energy, and only asked that nukes be built carefully - but nobody ever asked me.

- Selling of our industrial base in conversion to a service economy

I didn't like this at the time, but again, nobody ever asked me.

- Converting from a production economy to a financially driven one

Once again, nobody ever asked me. I didn't work in the finance industry, either.

- Eroding the walls between gov't, high finance, and big industry

Not anything that I was in a position to do anything about one way or another.

- Doing nothing about population control and little about anything else related to "limits to growth"

My wife and I didn't have kids.

- Maintaining a cognitive dissonance about the role of gov't and the notion of low taxes while the Boomers were working coupled with high expenditures when they hope to retire

I've always known that SocSec was a Ponzi scheme and needed to be put on a sounder footing. Once again, nobody ever paid any attention to me. I've tried to sock away what I could in my own personal retirement savings. Other than that, what could I do?

- Creating an educational system, welfare system, and media system which ensures that few will "get it", and fewer will do anything about it.

I never had anything to do with creating or operating any of those systems. I did figure out early in life that they were not to believed, and that I had better learn to think critically and think for myself.

There may in fact be SOME Boomers who were in positions of far more power or influence than myself, and might thus be far more blameworthy. However, blaming everything bad that has transpired for the past half century or so on the Boomers is about like blaming all of the passengers of the Titanic for its fatal errors in navigation.

You've done a little better personally than I have, but mostly I'm aligned with what you wrote.

Perhaps the more uncomfortable perspective might be that, really, nobody was in control. It's all just happened the way it has, with no specific action to the contrary. The Boomers just happened to be born in the right country at the right time for a relatively easy existence, in much the same way that many others have been born into servitude or destitution.

Which of course would mean, in the coming downturn, nobody will be in control either.

The sad irony is that the Boomers actually did take to the streets en masse as a generation to a far greater extent than just about any other generation before or sense. Unfortunately, we pretty much spent ourselves as a force banging our heads (or more likely, getting our heads banged) against the whole Vietnam War thing. If it had not been for Vietnam, it is likely that the Boomers would have come on strong as the mop-up force to really solidify the Civil Rights gains and extend them to women a few years earlier, then moved on to push the environmentalist agenda through much more forcefully. Instead, much of our activist energies were wasted and burned out on that damned futile war. Of course, I don't think that there is anyone that can blame any of us for getting INTO that war. Even the first draftees to be sent to Vietnam were a couple of years older than the first of the Boomer generation - we were all still in school then.

Come on.
The boomers got duped into their actions just like all the generations before them. They were just larger in number and so had more impact.

A hand full of people control everyone's information unless they seek information on their own.
We are lucky now because we have the internet to allow us easy access to debunk and form our own opinions.

And one last thing is that people here commenting on TOD are top 5%ers cluewise and don't represent a fair cross-section of the population.

Who controls America?

Well let's ask George Carlin again.


seriously..., I don't think searching for scapegoats is all that constructive.

Hi Leduck,

You are dead right.we can all blow off some steam,making fun of people we don't like, etc, for reasons good or bad, and imply that they are responsible for oour current predicament.

But somehow the ones who cry Science! Science ! science! loudest seem to have only a marginal grasp of it.

Now if this olwd world were acomputer program, and we could eliminate religion from it as fi religion were bad code in a program,I would be in favor of doing so in a flash.

But we aren't lifeless computers.

we are a species that has evolved first in competition with other animals, large and small, and we still compete with them to some small extent; and we still have to defend ourselves from other species such as disease causing bacteria and parasites.

But we have evolved past that point, becoming so successful that we mostly compete in groups against other groups of our own species.

Religion is just one of several cultural artifacts that we have evolved to enable us to live and work together in groups.If a religion disappears, it will be replaced by some other group forming mechanism.Nationalisn, tribalism, street gangs, political parties, professional organizations,racial features, dietary customs , personal dress customs and many other such things all serve to a greater or lesser extent to allow us to recognize the "in " or "us" group as opposed to the "them " or "out" group.

Nothing can change this-NOTHING WHATSOEVER-unless some all powerful group of scientifically trained and totally single minded group of people manage to sieze control of the entire world is some scenario reminiscient of Brave New World, 1984, or any one of several other anti utopian visions well explored by the better word smiths working in the field of sci fi and fantasy.

Sometimes I think that only maybe a very small percentage of us UNDERSTAND the very clear implications of the last hundred and fifty years of progress in the biological sciences, especially in the matter of understanding our own nature.

We area no more or no less than just ANOTHER RANDOM EXPERIMENT , created by mutations and selective survival, without intent of "improvement', without intent of any sort at all as far as can be proven by any body-unless I am very badly mistaken.

The experiment cannot even "go wrong" in any meaningfful sense as far as understanding it is concerned, because "wrong " is just an artifact of our own self constructed value system.Nature does not deal in words such as right and wrong.Of course there is a sort of program runnIng in our heads that causes US to percieve that it is right for us to eat an antelope and kill a hyena or alion trying to eat us our our babies, buy i assure you that a totally contradictory program , in terms of values, is running in the minds,such as they are, of the antelope and the hyenas.

The problem runs far deeper than some congressman who might or might not know better who panders to a religious constituency;Are any of us here dumb enough to believe that the lawyers, the bankers, the makers and sellers of automibiles,ad infinitum,are any less guilty of leading us around by our noses mostly for thier own benefit?

Do any of us know of speeches made warning of the housing bubble by leading liberal members of congress when thier constitients were living it up by borrowing and spending, flipping and flipping again?

I must admit that I don't know of many if any recent speeches made recently by leading conservative congressmen with large military installations or defense suppliers in thier districts calling for cutting defense spending.

We exhibit certain fairly consistent patterns of behavior,and we aren't going to change in short order, althought we just possibly change over a period of thousands of years, if the changes were to contribute to incresed survival rates.

I invite any one who has trouble following this argument to get down to the library and read a few recent biology books-the consensus among the real biologists and the evolutionary psychologists is better supported by the facts and the research by along shot than the climate change consensus-but on the other hand , it should be,given the fact that the field is more mature and depends less on modeling.

Now as to the CONCLUSIONS to be drawn from this wellestablished body of knowledge-well, Darwinian has outlined the case as well as anybody-I am a little more optimistic, but not a hell of a lot more so on a bad day.


If I replace "religion" in your post with "spirituality". Then I agree with you that there is a definite predisposition for humans to seek and understand something greater than themselves.

But religion is a double edged sword and always has been and in the wrong hands it is the most lethal force known.

Of course we run into the same vague definition problem with the terms discussed.

As I have said in previous posts.....religion seems to be a natural organizational response to the need for community in the face of an existential threat. It had to be selected for........it just simply works for the groups survival.
God helps those that help themselves........the faith to move mountains.....etc
Many a man has turned about when he might have won had he stuck it out.......oops! that one is from a poem by an anonymous author(maybe God).

This is just a provisional post in case your comments are directed at my George Carlin link upthread;)


I blame fossil fuels.

Its like dangling a cookie in front of a 3yr old... Once they are old enough to know what it is, they are going to grab it and consume it.

There have been posts and discussion here in the past of how the government and Big Business, spearheaded by advertising agencies, went about intentionally crafting the Consumer Society.

Thus, it was not our fault, it was "The Greatest Generation" simultaneously saving and destroying the future.

Ironic, ain't it?


Blamming the worlds woes on flower children will get us nowhere fast.

Although all this "generational" talk is blather, let's be fair...the worldwide generation most at fault is the "greatest" generation. They bred like rabbits and created the boomers.

Plus, the fully bought into the american dream, and life go steadily better the longer they lived.
The consumer society was a product of their manipulation.
Not their fault, just the conditions the arose with.

I should have read further. I just posted this same comment.


Ferguson isn't blaming anyone. He's pointing out that the Boomers represent a very large, aging segment of the population and we have no obvious mechanism for keeping all these aging people healthy at any reasonable cost. That's Ferguson's point; large aging demographic + out of control health care costs.

And he's correct.
Niall Ferguson is my favorite historian. The guy is brilliant. I strongly recommend his book, "The War of the World". It is a fresh and excellent analysis of the twentieth century and why the 20th century turned out to be, arguably, the bloodiest century in history.

To the point of exploding health care costs, we have a front row seat right here where I work. The cost of the basic plan offered to us by our employer just went up nearly 40%, with accompanying huge increases in deductibles (think $1,000 deductible for outpatient surgery, up from $75).

Because four employees here had cases of cancer in their families and the costs of their combined care was more than the total premiums paid in by everyone else here at the institution!

In order to get a plan comparable to the one I had last year, I am now paying a total of around $2,600/year out of my paycheck as my contribution to my health plan costs; up by about $1,250/year. This means that out of the "wonderful" benefits package I enjoy, I'm paying about 45% of the cost of my health plan.
You don't want to know what my salary is. It's well under 50k/year.

And Hey! I'm probably still one of the lucky ones.

Our basic problem is that our "health insurance" isn't. True insurance is premised upon sharing exceptional risk across a broad population. Instead, we allow our "health insurance" companies to cherry pick healthy individuals and groups and deny coverage to individuals or jack up premiums to groups unfortunate enough to have a few less-healthy people. It really isn't "insurance" at all, it comes closer to just being pre-paid medical care. It isn't all that different, really, from what "grocery insurance" would look like.

Simply mandating that insurers offer true, community-rated, catastrophic-loss insurance products, and sponsoring an industry-wide reinsurance pool to cover adverse selection, is all that really needs to be done at the federal level. This could be done with maybe 20-200 pages of legislation at most. The chances are absolute zero of our seeing such a thing.

"The baby boomers have set us on a path towards a massive fiscal crisis" -

Silly me,I've been around the traps for 62 years and I didn't even know I was part of a massive conspiracy to defraud later generations.Such ignorance must surely qualify me for euthanasia.

For godz sake thirra, don't be giving them ideas!

Actually, the ironic part is that you really will be done in by youth in Asia (via ELM, resource competition, etc.).

“The baby boomers have set us on a path towards a massive fiscal crisis,” he said.

I'm always trying to figure out why we Boomers are supposed to take the blame for the fiscal problems. Looking at the things that we are generally faulted for:

  • What gets changed in federal statute is largely determined by Congressional leadership, not the rank-and-file. There have been very few Boomers in leadership positions or holding committee chairs. We're too d*mned young! Blame us for what happens in the next 10-15 years, but we're just now reaching the point where we will control Congress. Clinton and Bush were just barely Boomers, amongst the very oldest. Obama is a tail-end boomer, amongst the youngest (and by some definitions, not a Boomer at all). It is entirely possible that despite the generation's size, no truly "representative" Boomer will ever be President.
  • The SS "crisis" is about revenues, not benefits. According to the CBO projections, benefits stabilize at about 6.2% of GDP. SS has a revenue problem due to a flawed formula set in 1983. If the formula for increasing the cap on wages subject to SS taxes had been tied to the same percentage of total wages that it covered when it was set in 1983, the cap would have increased slightly faster, would currently be around $120,000 instead of the lower actual figure, and the program would be solvent for as far out as the forecasts are run. In fact, with that formula for the cap, the current tax rates are almost certainly higher than they need to be.
  • Again according to the CBO, only about 10% of the exponential growth in Medicare/Medicaid is due to demographics; the rest is due to medical costs in general being out of control. If medical costs were to increase at only the general rate of inflation, Medicare costs, like SS costs, would stabilize in the future. Laurence Kotlikoff, the economist who co-wrote "The Coming Generational Storm" that did much to popularize the idea that providing medical care for an aging population would bankrupt us, has retracted most of his previous position, and now concedes that demographics is a second-order effect.
  • There are a lot of us, but that's hardly our fault. Most of the Boomers will be gone by 2050, but forecasts don't show either SS or Medicare costs coming down as a result. The generations coming behind us are forecast to cost as much, as a percentage of GDP, as we do. Since there are fewer of them, more on a per-capita basis.

As a group, Boomers will be the healthiest generation yet to receive Medicare. As a group, more Boomers plan to continue working during "retirement" than any previous generation.

Apologies for the outburst, I guess I'm just in a bad mood this afternoon.

why we Boomers [who were blasted by 1950's Happy Days TV] are supposed to take the blame for ...

If you think about it, the Boomers are the first generation to be massively bombarded by 1950's style, Happy Days TV propaganda. The future was going to be all George Jetson and Father Knows Best. The GE Carousel at the 1960 World Fair sang about the beautiful. bright tomorrow. How were we supposed to know it was all lies?

(Hint: the internet didn't exist back then. There was one voice to guide us and it was Walter Cronkite's. OK, maybe Huntley and Brinkley's too.)

John Michael Greer's latest article is really good.

Thank you!

Actually, all of your articles are good, JMG. Thanks for the thought-provoking analysis.

You might mention sometime that we are fortunate to have our friends, the plants, to concentrate that sunlight for us. This does provide something of a floor or safety net for us wrt how far down we can descend.

WNC, "fortunate" is the understatement of the year, I think. In the last analysis, all our hopes, dreams, and attempts to create meaning are built on the elegant little photochemical reaction that turns light into chemical energy in the leaves of green plants. Whether that's a safety net for us, or for other living things, is another matter; I don't think we'll muff it badly enough to go extinct in the near future, but you never know.


I share your feeling that photosynthesis is the bottom line. I have studied PS extensively (got my MS studying it), and I feel strongly that we need to live within its productivity. Plants do so much besides feeding us! This should be the Century of the Plant. The way plants _are_ in the world serves as a model, and we should heed that model. It's time now.

As someone who actually has worked within the trading rooms of Wall Street, I greatly admire your ability to explain in a non-financial way just how little the actual value of myriad levels of financial instruments and derivatives will have in the not so distant future.

Charles, when I was a kid I always admired the little boy in the story of the emperor's new clothes. The story's just been updated a bit, is all: we have fraudulent financiers rather than tailors, and the thing that nobody can actually see but everybody is pretending they can see is the value of the glorified twinkle dust being passed off as wealth these days...

The Emperor's Clothes.

Yes. That's a good way to see the big picture. Except replace the one man Emperor with the word US Congress. Replace the two tailors with lobbyists and campaign financers, and then you see the naked truth.

Why was their no political return [to] sensible policy?

The answer is so obvious that one feels stupid [and like a child] to even remark it.

Politicians are addicts.

Their dependency is campaign cash. And in their obsessive search for campaign funds, they let these [innovation weaving] funders convince them that for the first time in capitalism's history, markets didn't need the basic array of trust-producing regulation. They [the political Emperors] believed this insanity because it made it easier for them -- in good faith -- to accept the money and [then to allow the Wall St. tinkering tailors to] steer financial policy over the cliff.

--This partial quote comes from here ('Systemic Denial' by L Lessig at HuffPo) [Square bracketed text added to tie L Lessig's observation to the Emperor's Clothes fable]

Yes I agree that it is a well written thoughtful analysis - as usual. I really look forward to each weekly essay. I just have one tiny critique. Just who are the climate advocates you referred to "who shot themselves in the foot" by talking about warming rather than change? Certainly not Hansen, Romm, Schmidt, Mann, Oppenheimer, or Schneider, and all the other researchers, who have rather consistently, for the past 3 decades, stressed that raising global mean temperature would result in a disruption of climate equilibrium with chaotic results. That's why they refer to it as anthropogenic climate change. It's is the uninformed (media mostly) who have insisted on calling it global warming.

Every once in a while I repeat my explanation of "warming means cooling as well".

Heat is energy. More heat in the atmosphere means more energy in the atmosphere. More energy means more motion / activity / extremes. More extreme atmospheric activity means sometimes wetter and sometimes dryer in various regions and seasons, and both hotter AND colder temperatures. (Maybe throw in a mention here of how air conditioners use heat to create cold air).

- R

Your blog is one of only four or five I read every week.

So far I have not found anything else even remotely as good in the way of a one man effort.

You are one of only maybe a couple of dozen people I would actually go out of my way to meet, if that were possible, out of all the writers I have sampled on the net.Most of the rest of them publish some of thier work here at least occasionally.

Long live TOD!

UPDATE 1-Saudi crude output still down from 2008 -Aramco

In February 2009, Saudi Arabia pumped 7.9 million bpd, Conrad Gerber of Geneva-based Petrologistics told Reuters last year.

The kingdom's oil production in 2008 averaged 8.9 million bpd, according to Aramco's 2008 annual report.


Check this out:

Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way

Climate scientists have long warned that global warming could unlock vast stores of the greenhouse gas methane that are frozen into the Arctic permafrost, setting off potentially significantly increases in global warming.

Now researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and elsewhere say this change is under way in a little-studied area under the sea, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf east of the Bering Strait.

The article on methane release from sub-sea permafrost won't be out in SCIENCE until tomorrow. However, it is worth noting that there have been similar studies of methane released from clathrates on land as permafrost melts. One area of interest has been West Siberia where lakes have formed in areas previously covered by permafrost.

The methane clathrates under the ocean might be the result of extreme cold Arctic conditions during the last Ice Age. At the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the oceans were some 125 meters lower than today. With all that continental shelf exposed at high latitudes, the likely result would be the formation of thick permafrost. It might be that the methane release is simply the ongoing result of the warming which took place as the Earth warmed after LGM and the sea level rose, not some new change due to the rather small warming over the past 100 years. The article(s) suggest that flows of warm river water are also adding to the melting, however, my guess would be that the river water, being fresh, would tend to remain near the surface.

From another angle, it's known that there is circulation which brings warmer water into the Arctic from the North Atlantic. If this flow has increased, that might produce a faster warming on the surface of the continental shelves, since the warm currents flow below the colder, fresher water near the surface. The result might be faster melting of the permafrost on the continental shelf, which in turn would result in a faster release of the methane previously trapped...

E. Swanson

I have to confess I've been know to poo-poo the idea of a strong clatrate gun gunning off. This is the first time (I've only seen press reprots -so I can't judge the magnitudes), that I've started to worry, they I might be wrong, maybe we really will be in for a very wild ride.

Well, One consolation. I've got a large list of fools that I want to s shout "I told you so" to.

After reading the report this morning, I think it's reasonable to say that the authors aren't talking about a "Clathrate Gun". The authors do note that the bottom waters they investigated are very near freezing (-1.8C to 1C), as one might expect, but that this fact means that the temperature on the shelf areas which had once been dry land is now some 12C to 17C warmer than the surface permafrost areas. That is not the result of recent warming, but simply the result of rising sea levels as the glaciers melted after LGM. Of course, if the bottom water in the shelf area begins to warm, the implication is that methane will be released at a faster rate.

The authors also comment that their calculations suggest that the methane emissions from the East Siberian Shelf Area is about the same magnitude as estimates for all of the Earth's Oceans. There are some large emissions there indeed. They conclude:

To discern whether this extensive CH4 venting over the ESAS is a steadily ongoing phenomenon or signals the start of a more massive CH4 release period, there is an urgent need for expanded multifaceted investigations into these inaccessible but climate-sensitive shelf seas north of Siberia.

E. Swanson

The new post on methane bubbling from the oceans may be the biggest story since the beginning of complex life.

If this is what it looks like, it means we have succeeded in pulling the trigger on the infamous clathrate gun.


Other coverage:




Yes, I'm afraid it is already too late to "prevent" really major and perhaps catastrophic GCC. If the methane is bubbling up, then we've already passed a critical tipping point, and another couple of degrees at least is now "baked into the cake".

Things might start happening a lot quicker than anyone could have imagined.

Things might start happening a lot quicker than anyone could have imagined.

Speak for yourself. :)
I've always been on the "much quicker than anybody thinks" wagon. (Between knowing the scientists wouldn't want to go out on too much of a limb and would "pad" the warning so as not to freak people out, and reading early [90s?] mention of the discovery that some transitions to ice age climate happened in decades or even years.)

By 2016 it will be painfully obvious to anyone that we are in for drastic and catastrophic climatic change.
(And then I thought it may very well be faster than *I* think as well, and maybe I should change that to 2013.)

And I always chuckle a little when I see all these CC reports saying "This is happening much faster than we thought".

"By 2016 it will be painfully obvious to anyone that we are in for drastic and catastrophic climatic change."

Perhaps, but if the attitude of denialists I interact with are any indication, some will still be denying AGW even when all the Arctic ice is gone, methane is pouring out of sea and tundra, global temps are continuing at all time highs, biblical droughts and floods and floods are pervasive...

No one ever learns anything from experience alone. If they have a strong enough delusional frame work, they will continue to interpret every new piece of evidence as supporting their preconceived notions.

Not to worry all we really need to do is change our industrial lighting, switch all the mail service vehicles over to the prius (pre-i?), and "Green" our community.

Why come we can't get real, Huh? Boo Hoo!

What, and leave you with nothing to whimper about?

I'm sure you'd find something..

Read "Under a green sky : global warming, the mass extinctions of the past, and what they can tell us about our future by Peter D. Ward". It is all about extinction events - particularly Permian caused by such methane release.


In Under a Green Sky, Ward explains how the Permian extinction as well as four others happened, and describes the freakish oceans—belching poisonous gas—and sky—slightly green and always hazy—that would have attended them. Those ancient upheavals demonstrate that the threat of climate change cannot be ignored, lest the world's life today—ourselves included—face the same dire fate that has overwhelmed our planet several times before.

We are cooked.

Indeed. When Katey Walter published two years ago, I said as much. Here. Even other climate people told me I was being alarmist. Bizarre that the obvious isn't.

Anywho... that whole shelf goes, being so shallow, that warms us more, other shelves continue to deteriorate... crispy fried.

I think people forget the clathrates need low temps AND high pressure, not one or the other, as they approach freezing. They also seem to either not know or forget that warming is being measured 1000 km inland from the Arctic Ocean.

Is there anywhere the methane isn't rising?


We decarbonize now and lower temps VERY SOON, or we are certain to hit catastrophic change within this century.

Take it to the bank.

Oh, one more thing I like to repeat that always gets me dismissed: knowing and proving aren't the same. Knowing when just knowing is enough is REALLY FLIPPIN' IMPORTANT.

/three-word rant


Thanks, ccpo. And thanks for your post over at realclimate (if that was the same ccpo). It's the first time I've detected active spin over there (as opposed to simple avoidance of the topic).

From the backwards analogy (it is feedbacks, after all, that take away our 'brakes'), to the emphasis on the short half-life of methane while using the century-long CO2 equivalence, the whole post looks like a rushed hack job to try to lull people who have very good reason to be freaking out about this.

(I'm wili over there, by the way.)

A note about the 'Peak Oil/Snake Oil' item posted above...

even if Peak Oil was the right economic thesis in the long term, it wouldn't necessarily work in the short term.

First of all, Peak Oil, last I heard, was NOT an economic thesis. Stockopedia is an investor's site, and is trying to be 'cute' IMO. What they say is partially correct, though, and needs to be looked at having in mind that a significant part of PO theory has to do with economic viability of producting oil from a given reserve. If the price is too high, it will push the economy into recession (or deeper, depression).

And it is an excellent counterpoint to Richard Heinberg's item, Life After Growth.


I don't see westexas' exportland 2.0 mentioned above, but it will be coming to a location near you soon - in 3D view - without even having to go to a large screen movie theater (that is if you live in the continental US).

Oil Movements reports a steep drop in net OPEC exports is to be expected in March, after a brief blip up in the second half of February (as I mentioned yesterday):

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Oil shipments from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Angola and Ecuador, are expected to fall by 550,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to March 20, tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

Exports from the 10 OPEC countries that Oil Movements tracks are forecast to fall to 22.87 million barrels a day in the four weeks to March 20, down from 23.42 million barrels a day in the one-month period to Feb. 20.

The drop is consistent with an annual seasonal decline with the end of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.


While the above quote says the decline is 'seasonal', the magnitude of the fall is much steeper than normally expected. With little or no oil now being stored in offshore tankers in the vicinity of the US, my expectations are that oil inventories will experience a counter-seasonal fall in March and April - or at best hold steady. Keep in mind that US oil inventories usually increase from about mid-February to mid-May.

"Oil Falls toward $80 . . ."
It always seems like these stories are written when the price is at its daily low. Then the graph on the right side of TOD shows it back up. I wonder if this financial writer is trying to game the short term fluctuations.

Disappointing news for Canada's wind energy industry:

Canada’s ability to compete with the U.S. for new investment and jobs reduced

Ottawa, ONTARIO-MARCH 4, 2010 -- The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) today expressed its serious disappointment with the federal government’s failure to expand and extend its very successful ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program in the 2010 federal budget. Despite its expressed desire to harmonize climate change and clean energy policies with the United States, the federal government is now clearly moving in the opposite direction with respect to efforts to attract wind energy investment and jobs.

“The failure to extend and expand the ecoENERGY program will slow wind energy development and reduce our ability to compete with the United States for investment and jobs at a critical time in our economic recovery,” said CanWEA President, Robert Hornung. “While we remain committed to working with the federal government to find ways to attract new investment in the world’s most rapidly growing source of electricity, we are shocked and disappointed that it has chosen not to extend a cost-effective program that facilitated record levels of investment and job creation in Canada’s wind energy sector in the midst of the recession of 2009.”

See: http://www.canwea.ca/media/release/release_e.php?newsId=76



From Google News:

Wen Warns of Bank Risks, Pledges Property Crackdown

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Premier Wen Jiabao warned of “latent risk” in China’s banks and pledged to crack down on property speculation as the government faces the consequences of flooding the economy with money to drive growth.

Wen’s comments reinforce concern that banks made loans during the record 9.59 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) credit boom that are in danger of going bad. Harvard University Professor Kenneth Rogoff has said a crisis in the coming decade could send growth to 2 percent from Wen’s 8 percent target, and Victor Shih of Northwestern University sees risk of a collapse in 2012.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding China's growth spurt during the Long Recession, and whether or not it might pay a price for it later. Obviously they lent money to spur economic activity, but unfortunately it over and above domestic consumption capabilities.

From John Michael Greer up top:

It’s probably too late for climate change activists to switch their talking points from global warming to global weirding and be believed by anybody who isn’t already convinced, and so we’ll likely have to wait until the first really major global climate disaster before any significant steps get taken. (Given the latest reports from the Greenland ice cap, that may not be too many decades in the future, and any of my readers who live within fifty feet or so of sea level might find it advisable to relocate to higher ground.) Still, the same confusion between energy and exergy impacts the crisis of our time in other ways, and some of those are central to the themes this blog has been exploring in recent months. (My emphasis).

This is what is so annoying in so much of the discussion that swirls around these topics - both on here and in various blogs.

There is no scientific research that shows there is the remotest danger for people living within "50 feet of sea level" - in terms of such a sea-level rise over the expected lifetimes of current readers. Such doomster stuff can only run the risk of discrediting all the other rational and well-reasoned arguments in this piece. And there is no need to do it ... people will take action when they are pretty-much directly threatened, and not before, and crying wolf is a really negative thing to do to exacerbate this problem.

I think he meant 50 feet walking distance from the water line, not a sea level rise of 50 feet.

I agree with you Cargill. I also wish they would just shy away from the sea level rise potential and focus more on agricultural disruptions and such. Granted I'm prejudiced having grown up in S La where the coastline has been sinking for millions of years. And since the Corps of Engineers has successfully diverted most of the Miss. River sediment to the deep GOM the La. shoreline has been steadily receeding at a much fast rate then the worse AGW predictions. Regardless of how high sea level rises in 80 years no adult around today will be bothered by that eventuality. And a child born in 2050 will see rather minor sea level changes in it's life time. True, cumulatively over a number of generations sea level might change significantly. But will a child born in 2100 be bothered much by the fact that coast line used to be a couple of miles farther out? OTHO he might be very bothered by the fact that climatic changes have reduced the global food supply by, let's say, 30%? Of course, if that child's parents grew up on any of the low lying island nations then he wouldn't be there anyway to view the drowned lands of his ancestors. By necessity he'll be somewhere else. A sad loss of heritage but that' won't really matter that much to the rest of the world, unfortunately.

You guys are forgetting the Bathtub Effect. A 1 meter rise in overall level equals how many additional meters at flood time? How much further inland as waters get over places that were a couple meters too high for the storm surge to get past?


Didn't forget the "Bathtub Effect". Actually never heard of it so there was nothing to forget. But I get your point. And how, exactly, would that be any different in 100 years then it would be tomorrow? My point wasn't so much to minimize sea level rise prblems but to point out potentially much more serious and pressing problems.

Current sea level rise rate is around 3 mm a year and on the increase. A couple of inches of rise though not catastrophic to civilization can damage a good bit of beachfront real estate. The text in bold used 24 words worth of space (in a parenthesized comment) in an essay that spanned pages, several paragraphs are attuned to more serious problems of global weirding. It appears it was a passing comment and not a focal point.