Drumbeat: March 16, 2010

“The Joint Operating Environment” on the Energy Crisis

The U.S. Joint Forces Command published “The Joint Operating Environment” report which “seeks to provide the Joint Force an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concepts to guide our future force development.”

While many of the predictions may not be completely accurate, they are based on trends, challenges and current opportunities. The 74-page detailed report covers areas such as war in the 21st century, globalization, cyber, climate change and natural disasters to food, water and urbanization.

An alarming chapter of the report was the section on energy. “By the 2030s, oil requirements could go from 86 to 118 million barrels a day.” The report shows graphs for the projected energy resources and the future world oil production including development of new discoveries, non-conventional oil, enhanced oil resources, development of existing reserves and existing capacities.

The report summarizes the current energy crisis by stating that “energy production and distribution infrastructure must see significant new investment if energy demand is to be satisfied at a cost compatible with economic growth and prosperity.”

Will oil hit $200 a barrel after all?

What ever happened to $200-a-barrel oil?

Maybe it's just been delayed in transit. A recession in the world's developed economies can do that.

Remember Arjun Murti's time in the sun when, in May 2008, the analyst at Goldman Sachs predicted that oil would soon hit $200 a barrel? A number of other prognosticators weren't far behind. T. Boone Pickens predicted in 2008 that oil would hit $150 before the year was out. Some guy named Jim Jubak in April 2008 called for $180 a barrel within two years.

In case you haven't noticed, all of us were wrong. Oil peaked at $147 a barrel in summer 2008 and then plunged to $35 a barrel by June 2009.

Coming Soon: Economic Growth Without Oil

The world may soon achieve something long dreamed of by governments and policymakers: higher economic growth without using more oil.

Rising efficiency, conservation and substitution are steadily reducing the amount of oil needed to fuel an increase in the goods and services produced around the world.

Oil Prices Rise Despite Oversupply, and OPEC Wins

Oil futures prices have rallied lately, which might lead some to think that the demand for oil must be greater than the supply of oil. On the contrary, oil producers like OPEC are trying to gauge whether there is too much oil on the market. If prices were determined by supply and demand, then the prospect of too much oil would bring prices down; however, as Reuters reported on Thursday, oil prices have risen despite plentiful supplies, demonstrating (again) that the fundamentals of supply and demand have a limited influence on the price of oil.

David Hufton, an oil trader with the firm PVM, puts it another way: “Anybody who still believes that oil futures prices are a reflection of the true state of the physical market is living in a time warp.”

Petrol to hit 120p a litre, as motorists 'mugged' by oil companies

Petrol is due to hit a record of 120p a litre in a matter of days, even though the price of oil is little more than half the levels it was at its peak, the AA motoring group has warned.

Re-Tooling Alberta’s Energy Royalties

Last week’s decision is also fueled by Alberta’s $6 billion deficit, according to Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor in the center for business and the environment at the University of Waterloo. “This change in policy is an attempt to staunch the bleeding,” he said in an e-mail message.

But some energy experts questioned the policy of discounting royalties in the short-term because the strategy could undermine the long-term value of the resource.

MMS to Launch Central GOM Lease Sale 213 Tomorrow

The Director of Minerals Management Service, Liz Birnbaum, will participate in the Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 213 in New Orleans on March 17. She will open the Federal oil and gas lease sale at 9 a.m. CDT at the Louisiana Superdome with brief remarks. Following the bid reading, she will hold a media availability to discuss the results of the sale.

Will Iraq's Oil Production Increase?

These circumstances suggest that the decline in Iraqi oil production since 1979 is due, at least in part, to above-ground factors rather than the normal maturation of its biggest fields. With additional investment, better security and technology, Iraq could boost its production above its 1979 highs.

Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta

An oil spill, polluting groundwater and ruining cropland, from a well owned by Shell that had been left abandoned for over 25 years. Badly maintained equipment is the cause of many leaks, but oil operators blame sabotage, saying oil spills are caused for compensation money.

Encana aims to double gas production in five years

EnCana Corp. is trumpeting its potential to double its natural gas production over the next five years.

Ahead of its investor day in Calgary, the natural gas giant says a new independent assessment has confirmed an "enormous inventory" of gas across its 12.7 million net acres.

Qatar plans to sell more LNG to India

VIENNA (Reuters) - Qatar is in talks to sell more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India, its energy minister said on Tuesday.

Abdullah al-Attiyah is due to visit New Delhi next week. Qatar currently sells 7.5 million tonnes of LNG a year to India, he told reporters ahead of a Wednesday OPEC meeting.

U.S. Automakers: Natural Gas? We Don't Need No Stinking Natural Gas

U.S. automakers’ muted response during CERAWeek — an annual oil, gas and power conference where the report was released — stood out in an event that was dominated by talk of natural gas. Automakers at the conference see natural gas-powered cars and trucks more as a niche market. They certainly don’t view natural gas as a game-changer, as it’s been described by folks in the oil and gas industry. And no amount of natural gas seems to be able to change their minds.

Saudi power, water sectors occupy center stage

Estimates about the amount of investment needed to enable Saudi Arabia's power and water sectors to grow fast enough for the next decade quite easily stretch into the hundreds of billions of riyals. Keeping investments in utilities infrastructure high is far from a luxury for a country where power demand outpaces supply in many areas during peak summer months, and natural renewable water resources are among the sparsest in the world.

While water and power generation projects are a top priority for the Saudi government, the utilities sector has suffered from insufficient investments by the public and private sectors in the past decade. This will need to be rectified in the coming years simply to complement domestic demand for utilities growing at a rate of around 8 percent per year.

Study: Daylight saving time a waste of energy

(PhysOrg.com) -- Daylight saving time is supposed to reduce energy use, but data gathered from a state in the US suggests it actually does the opposite.

Replace stop signs that waste your time

Lauder's idea, described in his 4½ minute talk at TED, is that the new sign could take the place of some stop signs and, in certain circumstances, avoid unnecessary stops, saving time, fuel and carbon emissions, while promoting smooth traffic flow. He estimated that one conventional stop sign on a particular road costs $112,000 a year in fuel and lost time -- and "turns otherwise honest citizens into lawbreakers."

Consumers Reject Lower Energy Use As The Answer to Reducing Reliance on Fossil Fuels and Energy Imports

Three out of four consumers are concerned by energy and climate change issues, but nearly two thirds say that using less energy is not the answer to reducing reliance on fossil fuels or foreign energy supply, according to global research by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). The survey of 9,000 individuals in 22 countries also shows that almost nine out of ten consumers want more government intervention in the energy market.

Clouds and the Alternative Energy Grid

California's goal of generating 33 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020 will be challenging on days when clouds shade acres of solar photovoltaic panels or when thousands of wind turbines spin more slowly during calm weather. However, researchers at the University of California, San Diego are developing sophisticated forecasting tools that will give California electricity distributors advance notice of meteorological changes that affect solar output. The technology is being developed to allow energy suppliers to more efficiently schedule their fossil-fuel fired plants or energy-storage facilities to meet the state's demand for electricity.

'Milestone' for wave energy plans

Ten sites on the seabed off the north coast of Scotland have been leased out to power companies in an effort to generate wave and tidal energy.

In the first project of its kind in the world, areas in the Pentland Firth and around Orkney have been leased to seven companies by the Crown Estate.

The companies are to push forward plans to generate enough electricity to supply 750,000 homes by 2020.

Sanyo sets up solar parking lots for electric bikes

Japanese electronics giant Sanyo said Tuesday it had opened two "solar parking lots" in Tokyo where 100 electric hybrid bicycles can be recharged from sunlight-powered panels.

Nuclear: It’s a Safe and efficient way to meet this century’s rising energy demands

WASHINGTON, D.C. — What would help our economy create hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs, bring millions of dollars to federal and state treasuries, provide clean air, reduce our trade deficit and enable America to be less dependent on foreign oil? Building more nuclear plants, that’s what!

Here is why it will happen: For starters, producing nuclear-generated electricity is cheaper than any other major source of power. Granted, the cost of building new nuclear plants is high, but comparatively low nuclear fuel costs yield a significant savings over a plant’s lifetime.

Post Carbon Exchange #1: Richard Heinberg & Lester Brown

In this premier Post Carbon Exchange, Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg talks with Lester Brown, Founder of the Earth Policy Institute, about hopeful developments in alternative energy, as well as the importance of Brown's updated path toward a sustainable future, "Plan B 4.0".

The Femivore’s Dilemma

Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?

There is even an economic argument for choosing a literal nest egg over a figurative one. Conventional feminist wisdom held that two incomes were necessary to provide a family’s basic needs — not to mention to guard against job loss, catastrophic illness, divorce or the death of a spouse. Femivores suggest that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn paucity into plenty, is an equal — possibly greater — safety net. After all, who is better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the frugal homemaker who can count her chickens?

If you want a green career, you need to prepare for it

Contrary to popular belief, the jobs that go begging don't require a Ph.D. or even a four-year college degree. The common denominator in these family-supporting green jobs that are available right now is that they require technical skills -- two years or more beyond high school at a community college or technical school, an apprenticeship or a special certificate or credential.

Time's rising tide may swamp Delta marshes

While marshes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area are currently keeping pace with rising sea levels, they may not be sustainable under future sea-level increases.

The current rate of vertical soil formation or accretion may not be enough to keep rising marshes from being flooded in the future. These results are part of a new study in the January 2009 issue of the journal, Estuaries and Coast, by Lab scientist Tom Brown in collaboration with Judith Drexler and Christian de Fontaine of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Unfazed by the Recession

It looks like even the recession can't slow down climate change.

New data from Norway's Zeppelin station show that, despite a global slowdown in industrial activity, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has hit a new high: 393.71 parts per million during the first two weeks of March, a 0.54 ppm increase from a year ago.

Forecasts underestimate oil demand, study says

Official forecasts may be underestimating the future demand for oil by 30 million barrels a day, according to a research paper by Joyce Dargay of the University of Leeds and Dermot Gately of New York University. If so, the next oil crisis is going to be a whopper.

Dargay and Gately base their logic on the observation that the demand for oil no longer appears to respond to price. While price increases in the 1970s hammered worldwide demand for the fuel, the heftier oil prices we’ve witnessed over the past decade had no such effect. Instead, worldwide demand for oil increased by 4% during that time.

The professors say the 1970s fall in demand was the result of taking advantage of simple, obvious economies such as moving away from using oil to generate power. But they caution that those successes can’t be repeated.

Police arrest 2 in Mumbai for planning strikes

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Police in Mumbai said on Sunday they have arrested two men they say were preparing to attack several targets in the financial hub, including the offices of energy firm Oil and Natural Gas Corp.

Police said they believed the men were receiving directions from Pakistan. India has said militant groups based in Pakistan were responsible for the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai which killed 166 people.

Pakistan scrambles to solve energy crisis

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (UPI) -- Islamabad ordered its Finance Ministry to release emergency funds to the state energy sector to stave off an oil, gas and electricity crisis in the country.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on lawmakers to come up with ways to avoid defaulting on foreign payments against oil supplies as the country grapples with a looming energy crisis.

Islamabad was forced to consider international loans to help the energy sector, which is dragging on the embattled national economy. Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin stepped down in February because of the economic turmoil.

ONGC FY10 output may be lower than target

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Oil and Natural Gas Corp's domestic oil output is seen at 24.9 million tonnes in the current financial year ending March 31, lower than the 25.76 million tonnes target, an official said.

Saudi’s Naimi Sees No Need to Alter OPEC Production

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the biggest and most influential member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said oil prices are in the right range and there’s no need to change production policy.

“We are extremely happy with the market, the economy is doing well, it will do better down the road, so I don’t see any reason to disturb this happy situation,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said late yesterday in Vienna, where OPEC meets tomorrow. “The price has stayed very well in the range of $70 to $80. It is in a very happy situation.”

Interview with David Shields - update on Mexico and oil

SA: A recent New York Times article asserts that Mexico’s basic problem is that a lot of it’s easy oil is “used up.” That’s a very imprecise turn of phrase, but do you generally agree with it?

Shields: I think a large amount of it is already used up. As a ballpark figure, roughly 70% of Mexico’s proven reserves have been consumed. So I think there is an awareness at Pemex that the future is about secondary oil recovery, enhanced oil recovery, and about finding more reserves, which is easier said than done. And also, peak water is an issue for Mexico going forward, but it’s an area in which we have no experience. And so it will be hard to do that unless the ways of working in Mexico are changed quite substantially which is political out of bounds right now.

Matthew Simmons' Awesome Presentation On The Coming Oil & Water Shortage

Oil industry analyst Matthew Simmons is one of the most influential proponents of the idea the notion that oil is growing increasingly scarce, and that our future will be characterized by shortages and price spikes.

At a recent, he recently delivered an excellent presentation on the coming oil and water shortage.

(There's a similar presentation, in color, at the Simmons & Co. web site.)

OMV Said to Hire Banks to Refinance 1.5 Billion Euros of Loans

(Bloomberg) -- OMV AG, central Europe’s biggest oil company, hired banks to arrange 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) of loans to refinance debt, two people familiar with the situation said.

Lenders including Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank AG, Erste Group Bank AG, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG and Societe Generale SA are arranging the five-year revolving credit to refinance a facility maturing next year, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Citadel Close to Raising $2.2 Billion for Egypt Oil Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Citadel Capital, an Egyptian private equity firm with $8.3 billion of investments, is close to raise $2.2 billion to build an oil refinery in the Arab country.

Oil and Gas Companies Warm to Possibility of Higher Taxes at the Pump

As a rule, big business hates higher taxes. So it would come as no surprise to find the oil and gas industry upset about climate change legislation that would increase levies at the gas pump.

But industry groups are open to the idea now under consideration by senators writing climate legislation -- provided the additional money goes into the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund.

"Our position on raising gas taxes is neutral to agnostic," said Cathy Landry, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Shell says will slash another 1,000 jobs by 2011

LONDON (AFP) – Global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell revealed Tuesday that it will axe another 1,000 positions by 2011, on top of the 1,000 job losses already earmarked for this year.

Shell to Spend More Than $100 Billion to Boost Output

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, reeling from seven years of falling output, will spend more than $100 billion by 2014 to revive production growth.

Shell, vying with BP Plc as Europe’s biggest oil company, expects output to rise by 11 percent to 3.5 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2012.

Rosneft Sees Russia Keeping Oil Tax Break to Support Production

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, expects the government to preserve tax exemptions for eastern Siberian crude exports at least through this year to support output.

“We don’t anticipate any changes in 2010,” Rosneft Vice President Peter O’Brien said today in an interview in London. “If this zero export duty were taken away we would need to bring investment down to achieve our leverage target.”

An Unconditional Surrender

I knew a change was on the horizon.

Even my Canadian readers in Alberta who felt they weren't getting their fair share had to have known the royalty time bomb had to be defused. Let's face it: the Alberta oil and gas royalty changes were inevitable.

BHP Says Hay Point Coal Terminal Remains Shut After Poor Weather

(Bloomberg) -- BHP Billiton Ltd. said the Hay Point port in Queensland state remains closed after shipping was suspended March 11 because of strong winds.

Newcastle Coal Exports Drop After Train Derails

(Bloomberg) -- Coal shipments from Australia’s Newcastle port, the world’s biggest export harbor for the fuel, fell by 22.6 percent last week after scheduled track maintenance and a train derailment disrupted supplies from mines.

Final destination Iran?

Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the US government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the US navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.

Minister's ambition for future Welsh green energy

Wales has the potential to generate twice its electricity needs from renewable sources within 15 years, says Environment Minister Jane Davidson.

She said Wales was fortunate to have more than 1,200 km of coastline with significant amounts of marine energy.

High-Speed Rail Gains Traction in Spain

Since a high-speed rail connection — called AVE for Alta Velocidad Española — opened in 2008, the 520-kilometer journey, or 325 miles, between Barcelona and Madrid that takes six hours by car can now be completed in just 2 hours and 38 minutes.

Two years ago, nearly 90 percent of the six million people traveling between Madrid and Barcelona went by air. But early this year the number of train travelers on the route surpassed fliers. The trajectory is ever upward.

What is "Unsustainable" Really?

The undeniable truth is, the ideal of "infinite economic growth" is closing in on a wall known as "finite resources". Growth cannot continue at the current pace, because for the first time in our history, we are pushing the limits of what the Earth can sustain. Tying back to what I mentioned earlier, climate change has become a very serious issue, and peak oil and peak commodities are just over the horizon. But these are actually just symptoms of the greater issue that is uncontrolled growth. Yet the human population continues to multiply, with each person making a bigger impact on the planet as standards of living rise. With our current level of technology, we cannot outgrow our planet, but it seems like we want to try anyway.

How to Protect the Economy From Impending Oil Crisis

I’m boring people to death on this subject, so I’ll summarize the effort here with a very simple statement: the U.S. needs to significantly reduce foreign oil imports by adopting the only abundant, clean, and cheap domestic resource that can be scaled up to do so: natural gas. Since U.S. Energy Secretary Chu does not understand this simple fact, a logical first step is for Chu to resign or for Obama to fire him. I don’t care which happens as long as it happens. Instead of filling up an NGV in my garage with domestically produced natural gas at $10/tank I have no option but to spend $35 to fill my tank with 65% foreign oil. This is absurd. Congress needs to pass HR1835 (the so-called Natural Gas Act) today.

The war for survival cannot be won using the language of the civil rights movement

“Yet, it is interesting that even in 2010 so many environmentalists are obsessed, first and foremost, about social justice and human 'rights',” said Murray. “Military strategists always warn about trying to fight a contemporary war with the tactics of the last one. But in the face of growing scarcity the Green-Left continues to argue that "there is enough to go around" if only there was just and efficient distribution of existing resources, and "rich" energy hogs were kicked out of the trough.

“All sin is vested in the profit motive---banish that, and a planned economy of some kind will conjure up loaves and fishes for everyone and all of humanity can live within the environment's absorptive capacity. They can't grasp the fact that 6.8 billion people have so degraded the environment that only a fraction of that number could sustainably live on what is left. No Spartan regime of vastly reduced consumption will suffice to support all of us indefinitely.

“A planet of 6.8 billion vegans will not resuscitate our exhausted soils when oil-based fertilizers become scarce, nor will they re-stock the oceans with extinct or endangered species. But then, "sustainable" for them is just an adjective to adorn press releases and policy announcements---it is devoid of meaningful content."

Is Ecological, Community-based Economic Planning Our Salvation?

We have for decades now had the economists telling us that we need to be competitive, that as long as our economic models create not equilibrium but supply driven demand based on access to credit, we could support our role in a global economic community. It has been the driving economic thought of the GOP for over 30 years with their embracing the philosophy of Milton Friedman. Now it would seem that the advisers to President Obama seem to be following this same failed course. Why? Because it insures that they keep their millions and the rest of Americans get left behind. As long as people do not understand economics, especially the Tragedy of the Commons, they will not understand that the land is being destroyed, their way of life stripped from them until it is too late.

Researcher finds people forgo luxury for green products when status is on mind

In the recently published paper "Going Green to Be Seen: Status, Reputation, and Conspicuous Conservation," Griskevicius and co-authors find that people will forgo luxury and comfort for a green item. The catch? People will forgo indulging for themselves only when others can see it. "Many green purchases are rooted in the evolutionary idea of competitive altruism, the notion that people compete for status by trying to appear more altruistic," says Griskevicius. His research finds that when people shop alone online, they choose products that are luxurious and enhance comfort. But when in public, people's preferences for green products increases because most people want to be seen as caring altruists.

Exploring status quo bias in the human brain

The more difficult the decision we face, the more likely we are not to act, according to new research by UCL scientists that examines the neural pathways involved in 'status quo bias' in the human brain.

First author Stephen Fleming, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL, said: "When faced with a complex decision people tend to accept the status quo, hence the old saying 'When in doubt, do nothing.'

Renewables Take a Bigger Share of Power Sector M&A, PWC Says

(Bloomberg) -- Renewable energy, fueled by hydro power, grabbed a bigger share of mergers and acquisitions in the electric industry last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

Japan aims its home fuel cells at Europe

Following the success of a half-price subsidy for CO2-busting fuel-cell heat and energy generators for homes, Japan is now poised to ship its attention to supplying the UK and Germany with this hi-tech next-generation energy source.

With over 5,000 fuel cells providing heat and energy for conventional homes up and down Japan, the BBC has learnt that companies such as electronics giant Panasonic are in talks with EU governments about the possibility of bringing these proven energy and carbon-saving devices to market in Europe and elsewhere.

For Renters, Solar Comes in Shares

What happens if a renter wants solar power?

Most of the time, it’s tough luck, unless the home’s owner agrees to add panels. But a new solution is springing up in pockets of the country: community solar arrays.

Sometimes called solar gardens or farms, the idea is that utilities build the arrays, and customers — renters, people with shady roofs and even condo owners — can buy a share.

Governors Seek National Power Standard to Boost Wind Industry

(Bloomberg) -- Congress must set a national renewable-power standard and revamp the electric grid to help the burgeoning U.S. wind-energy industry reach its potential and compete globally, governors from 29 states said.

A jumble of state laws should be replaced by a federal edict, according to a report from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes California, Florida and Massachusetts. The plan would help spur development and efficiency, which would create jobs, curb greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce dependency on oil imports, the coalition said.

Some Nukes

There has always been something intuitively disproportionate about nuclear power plants, which, like coal-fired ones, use steam turbines to generate electricity. Converting mass to energy by atomic fission in order to achieve temperatures normally found only on the surface of stars like the sun and then using that extraterrestrial heat to boil water—well, it smacks of (to borrow a term from the nuclear dark side) overkill. To be fair, boiling water by burning black rocks made of petrified vegetable matter from the age of the dinosaurs is a little strange, too. And nuclear power plants have one great advantage over the fossil-fuel kind: they do not emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is hastening the world toward climatic disruption and disaster.

Nevada Wind Turbine Factory to Create 1,000 Jobs, Backers Say

A consortium of Chinese and American renewable energy firms said last week that they had chosen Nevada as the location of a 320,000-square-foot wind turbine manufacturing and assembly plant.

The turbine plant, whose precise site has yet to be announced, will create an estimated 1,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the state and is expected to be up and running by 2011.

Japan auto, power giants target global electric car standard

Four Japanese auto giants and the country's largest power company joined forces Monday to set up a common system to recharge electric cars, with the aim of creating a global standard.

The growth of the electric vehicle sector has been hampered by the chicken-or-egg question of what should come first: zero-emission cars or the networks of recharging stations to keep them on the road.

Tracking Electric Use Could Allow Utilities to Track You, Too

Smart electric grids are championed by the federal government, conservation groups and industry as good for the economy and the environment. The digital meters in homes enable measurement and two-way communication with utilities so consumers can trim electricity use.

But some technology policy organizations worry that smart meters pose a potential threat to privacy and could be exploited by online marketers, government agencies, criminals and others.

China Halts Start of New Tungsten, Rare Earth Mines

(Bloomberg) -- China, supplier of 90 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, stopped accepting applications for new mines to produce the materials until June 30, 2011, the land ministry said.

It also stopped accepting applications for tungsten and antimony mines, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in a statement on its Web site late yesterday. Shares of producers rose after the announcement.

The policy, aimed at protecting resources, may benefit producers such as Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corp. and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-tech Co. The government wants to help producers increase bargaining power in price talks, said Yao Chunlei, analyst at Guoyuan Securities Co.

Florida Company Builds a Safer C.F.L. Bulb, but Does it Matter?

Mr. Irvine said his product is meant to provide peace of mind in households with children and pregnant women – sectors of the population thought to be more vulnerable to potential health impacts from mercury exposure.

But there is a debate as to whether the small concentration of mercury in fluorescent lighting products poses a real threat to anyone.

In U.S., Many Environmental Issues at 20-Year-Low Concern

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are less worried about each of eight specific environmental problems than they were a year ago, and on all but global warming and maintenance of the nation's fresh water supply, concern is the lowest Gallup has measured. Americans worry most about drinking-water pollution and least about global warming.

Lingle, others urge EPA restraint on emission rules

Gov. Linda Lingle is among a group of mostly Republican U.S. governors urging federal lawmakers to stop the Obama administration from regulating greenhouse gases under an existing law.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "is not equipped to consider the very real potential for economic harm when regulating emissions," the 20 governors, including Republican Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

Democrats look to industry for help in climate bill

As he toured union halls and factory floors in his 2006 Senate campaign, Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown repeatedly railed against the "prescription bill the drug companies wrote," the "energy bill the oil companies wrote" and all the other policy decisions dominated by special interests.

Now halfway through his first Senate term, Brown seems to see at least one major Washington policy push differently.

Brown is one of a handful of senators trying to line up support for a climate bill that would put new limits on greenhouse gas emissions and spur production of renewable energy.

EPA Studying Own Carbon-Trading System, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is considering a carbon-trading system under existing law if Congress doesn’t pass cap-and-trade legislation that allows companies to buy and sell the right to pollute, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official said today.

The existing Clean Air Act “could enable us to include emissions trading” within agency regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have linked to climate change, Anna Marie Wood, a senior policy analyst at the EPA, said at an event in Washington hosted by the American Bar Association.

A Tale of Two Countries: Japan, China, and the Low-Carbon Economy

Japan's enlightened business leaders are focused on how to move forward on a low-carbon economy, though my conclusion is that they don't have much more of a plan to get there than do the Americans. At the events I attended, there was much discussion about how to achieve the green vision of Hatoyama, the first prime minister who seems to "get it," when it comes to the economic potential of cleantech and a green economy, but whose vision is thwarted by the legislature. That was one recurring theme. Another was commiserating over how to motivate employees to engage in green practices. They expressed frustration in Japanese consumers' willingness to buy green products. They wondered how stable oil prices will affect progress, not to mention the impacts of the global economic recession. They asked repeatedly about President Obama's "New Green Deal," a remnant of the 2008 campaign that, far as I can tell, has disappeared into the ether.

A Risk of Poisoning the Deepest Wells

Fertilizing the oceans with iron has been proposed as a way of fighting climate change. The idea is that iron will promote blooms of phytoplankton that will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. When the phytoplankton dies and sinks, the carbon will effectively be sequestered in the deep ocean.

Enthusiasm for the idea has waned, in part because of concerns about large-scale manipulation of ocean ecosystems. Now, a study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences points out a specific risk: by promoting the growth of certain organisms, iron enrichment may result in the harmful production of a neurotoxin.

Final destination Iran?

""Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.""

Is this going to be the Black Swan, that sets it all in motion?

Any idea how soon this might be?

If we are going to attack, i would guess soon. Obama will try to avoid attacks near the mid-term election, imo.

Moving ammo does not necessarily mean we are likely to attack soon. The military would pre-position supplies even if there was only a 5% chance of an attack, or even if these bombs would only be used as a reaction to an iranian reaction to an israel attack.

To me, the Black Swan is Israel with nukes and Iran getting/having nukes. One side will attack the other.

"The preparations were being made by the US military, but it would be up to President Obama to make the final decision. He may decide that it would be better for the US to act instead of Israel, Plesch argued."

Hopefully the move is just to put pressure on Iran. OTOH, who's pulling the strings here?

Yeah, the article could easily be some sort of media plant to send a message to Iran. Either you do as the big boys with the big bombs want you to or else...

E. Swanson

Black_Dog , the last century was all about "walking softly and carrying the big stick". What the U.S. fails to recognize is that U.S. hegemony is in it's twilight.

Let us imagine that collapsing a modern military-industrial super-power is like making soup: chop up some ingredients, apply heat and stir. The ingredients I like to put in my super-power collapse soup are: a severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil, a severe and worsening trade deficit, a runaway military budget and a ballooning foreign debt.
Dmitry Orlov, Reinventing Collapse

The current mantra: The Economic Recovery is a classic head fake. Mention the above to some of your friends and watch your personal popularity rise. ;-)


I'm already so popular that there needs to be two of me ;)

Before you get your knickers in a twist you might want to read this post, which includes links to 2 additional sites. Follow the links and read the comments, it may be much ado about nothing and just a resupply of munitions.

I think we need more info before we jump to any conclusions.

I think this is more relevent.


The Petraeus briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story

The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region
David Petraeus sent a briefing team to the Pentagon with a stark warning: America's relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers. Maybe Israel gets the message now.

"There is no daylight between the U.S. and Israel." Vice President Biden last week just before Israel announced plans to open an additional settlement of 1600 homes in disputed territory.

Yeah I guess they got the message.


Operative word "before".

"There is no daylight between the U.S. and Israel." Vice President Biden last week just before Israel announced plans to open an additional settlement of 1600 homes in disputed territory.


RELATIONS between Israel and the United States have hit a 35-year low, Israel’s ambassador in Washington said, amid simmering tensions between the two allies.

"There is no daylight between the U.S. and Israel." Vice President Biden last week just before Israel announced plans to open an additional settlement of 1600 homes in disputed territory.

Nuclear fallout over the country would also result in 'no daylight between the U.S. and Israel' too, would it not?

Would removing one of two antagonists stabilize the region, and therefore the US's oil supplies?

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." -- Ripley, Aliens, 1986.

I can't believe that we don't routinely keep a substantial inventory of such ordinance there already.

Maybe the Pentagon forgot to pay Her Majesty the rent... There's some lowly accounts clerk in a whole heap of trouble: the General on the island went to work one day and we Britons had changed the locks!!

The original inhabitants have won several decisions regarding their forced removal from Diego Garcia and are trying to get their island back. It is the "forward" home deployment base for a couple of our Ohio class SSGN subs, and likely home to "GITMO East", a detention center for "enemy combatants" (this has been repeatedly denied, of course). Also, it is (was) one of the emergency landing strips for the Shuttle. The US and British militaries have a cozy arangement there and I doubt they are going anywhere. I flew/floated in and out of there several times. Beautiful tropical island but not a very popular duty station.

I noticed that a brouhaha exploded over the possibility that the Obama administration was going to institute a sport-fishing ban, having to do with constrained resources. This was supposedly a hoax, yet it got the entire right-wing in a spin.
Doing some research, it apparently started with the news that the administration was thinking about supporting international bluefin tuna restrictions. This was also conflated with talk about some recent Ontario fishing or bear-hunting restrictions.

I consider this serious political wing-nuttia, as our former governor Jesse Ventura got elected out of nowhere with some timely debate about possible fishing restrictions. Ventura was able to get enough 20-something usually apathetic voters out of their chairs to vote for him at the last minute. That was the theory at least.

So check google with "sport-fishing ban" & tuna (6 hits) versus just "sport-fishing ban" (258,000 hits).

On the bluefin tuna:

Web -- That's very funny/sad. Now if we want to get that "Texas withdrawing from the union" hype going we need to start a rumor about the feds banning deer hunting. That'll get the right wing snot flinging in every direction.

Perhaps there should also be a massive right-wing movement to protect the right to hunt Dodo Birds, Great Auks, and Passenger Pigeons. After all, just over-exploiting a species to extinction should be no reason to restrict people's enjoyment.


Actually Observer you have to give Texas hunters some credit for preserving and enhancing some animal populations. It's estimated we have several times more white tail deer then before settlement. Many millions of $'s are spent on enhancing deer habitat. Add to that a lot of foreign exotic game breeding going on here. One might not care for hunting but a day may come where Texas has the only breeding population of certain species. Given the profit margin ($5,000 - $15,000 per hunt) there's ample motivation for such efforts.

Many Texas hunters view deer as though they were our children. Children we hunt and eat but that doesn't mean we don't love them the same.

That is the real sad part. The enlightened hunters and fisherman are some of the biggest conservationists out there. The best peak oil story explanation I ever read was from Fishing Facts magazine.
"Our Petroleum Predicament", 1976

Probably wouldn't be any ducks in the Eastern half of the US had it not been for duck hunters protecting and in many cases building habitat.

Great article Web.

Is this metric still being tracked?


Nice graph, Turnbull. Where is this from?

From the referenced link and reprinted from a King Hubbert testimony before Congress I think.

I track the metric, it is close to a fat-tail a/(a+L)^2 dispersive law where L is cumulative footage.

It's from Web's link above:"Our Petroleum Predicament", 1976

I suppose comparing current numbers to those of 1976 lose significance due to advanced seismic exploration methods.

Rockman - I agree with what you say, but some of the increase in deer population came from killing off their predators, which can depopulate the plants the deer eat and the other animals that eat those plants. Just something to be mindful of. Also "Children we hunt and eat"? That gave me a bad mental image.

yeah, what a difference a comma makes. children, we hunt and eat.

reminds me of a book i saw on a nearby coffee table. "eats, shoots and leaves" with a pistol packing panda on the cover.

Heh. Reminds of a facebook group a friend just joined, called...

"Let's eat Grandma!" or,

"Let's eat, Grandma!"

Punctuation saves lives.

True tejano. But lots of folks spend a lot of $'s planting for the deer. Probably the most significant change from preditor kill off has been the explosion in feral hog population. But there's been a silver lining there. Many of the locals save their deer for city folk hunts as a result. Now we trap the wild pigs, feed and de-worm for a few weeks and they end up in our sausage. In some south Texas counties the pigs got so bad farmers were hiring hunters to help clean them out.

Bad mental image? You mean sight picture? Naa...just aim lower and don't lead as much. I know....stole that line from that old Nam movie. Just a little dark humor on a sunny morning in the La. swamps.

A side story about our love of deer. I had 7 acres in a planned community in the Texas Hill Country. Besides no hunting on the 1700 acs we ran a collective cattle operation so lots of water. Add that to folks feeding the deer like they were pets we eventually had almost 2000 deer inside our fences. Had to hire a hunter to thin them out for fear of disease. After the first year thin out the home owners sent out a notice: if you want to save some of your favorite 4-legged friends point them out to our trapper (we raised and sold exotics also) and he' tranq them and spray a temp orange X so they won't be shot. Apparently some folks lost deer they had actually named and were upset when they didn't show for their regular feeding. As I said...love them like our children. Hmmm...tasty children. And yes, we ate the culled deer and what we couldn't eat we donated to a local halfway house.


We should be so lucky around here to have professional help with deer population reduction. The same deer hang around all the time and the sentimentally inclined could name them. Indeed I keep seeing the same deer eating my cabbages. That is because deer rarely range more than a mile from where they are born, which means the four footed cabbage eating varmits were born inside the city limits. They stand in the middle of the street in front of the library, perhaps getting ready to go inside and check out a book.

We have a lack of natural predators in surrounding rural areas and city ordinances against off-leash dogs and discharging a weapon. The cumulative result is an exploding urban deer population.

Yes, careful (and sometimes not so careful) management of deer habitat produces too many deer in many areas. One of the biggest rationalizations I hear hunters give is that it is necessary to hunt the deer or they will overpopulate. This seems disingenuous at best, given all the measures historically and on going to boost deer populations.

But really I have more fun goading self-righteous non-hunters that their shopping habits probably do more damage than any hunter ever did. The ecosystem can tolerate culling any number of individuals of a species better than it can survive whole sale assault by our mass consuming culture.

That is true BS dohboi from those hunters. I don't think you'll find many Texans offering such rationalizations. In fact you won't find too many Texans rationalizing anything we do because...hell...we're Texans...we don't got to explain nothin to nobody. LOL.

But when you have pop bloom at the wrong time it can get very ugly. About 35 years ago we had a huge surge in deer pop just before a very bad drought. It was estimated that as many as 200,000 deer starved to death in Texasx alone. I had to shoot dozens just laying next to the road too weak to run. One of my most unpleasant memories. Couldn't even call it hunting. Same feeling as putting down a dog or stock.

A while back in central GA the whitetail population exploded and there was an outbreak of "blue tongue disease". The deer get a high fever and lay down in creeks to cool off, where they die. The next year the GA DNR doubled the number of deer (hunting) tags issued for some areas to cull the population. We've eliminated all of their natural predators in most parts of the country, so it's up to us.

Couldn't even call it hunting. Same feeling as putting down a dog or stock.

Some would say that all deer hunting isn't really like hunting ... there's no threat to the hunter at all (except from other hunters maybe) - just stalking and taking long-range pot-shots at harmless, not terribly smart, herbivores ... but as you were.

Hunting is the practice of pursuing living animals (usually wildlife) for food, recreation, or trade.

Who gave you the idea that the hunter must be at some risk from its quary? If you are hunting for food, that would be foolish. I guess you think the deer should have some chance to fight back. It would be OK then, huh? I always enjoyed this deer revenge story:


Cargil -- I can't really argue with you. I was a 9th level expert marksman before I turned 20. The biggest challenge for me deer hunting is staying warm. For a while I considered bow hunting to make it more challenging but that comes at the price of more crippling shots so I chose to pass. Now hunting is no more then harvesting for me. Do it as quick and as painlessly as possible. I can enjoy sitting in a blind taking pics more then taking a shot.

Now going after a 400# wild bore in the tall grass with a shotgun loaded with slugs...now that's damn exciting. And not too unfair to the pig. And I know a few guys who go after them with a big knife instead of a gun. Now that's much closer to a fair matchup. But they also use dogs to tussil with the bore so they can get close enough. But I don't care to put dogs in such danger.

"I can enjoy sitting in a blind taking pics more then taking a shot."

It's funny. I was just thinking that this
should become a major sport--"guns" set up
with powerful telescope cameras and lasers
so people can indicate that they had a lethal
shot without taking out the prey.

Hopefully this could give people the thrill of
the hunt without the ethical problem (for some)
and the mess of dealing with the carcass.

I'm concerned that hunting numbers are going
down and this was a major thing that got
folks out into the woods, interacting with
and thinking about the health of the ecosystem,
even if not using that term. A kind of cath-and-
release for dear could be a way to keep people
in the woods and avoiding nature-deficit disorder.

Actually dohboi I saw such a system years ago. With today's technology it should be even easier and cheaper. I know what you mean about folks losing touch with the environment. Even a lot of the Texas canned hunts hunts don't accomplish much in that light: being driven right up to a heated blind and then having the guide field dress your kill. Be better if they just stayed in Houston and shot deer in a video game. But hunting around folks like that does make it more exciting: they scare me more than a 400# boar in the tall grass.

Hmmmm...tasty carcasses. I may actually get to hunt nilgai, an exotic antelop, in S Texas in a couple of weeks. They thrive in our arid habitat and are suppose to be some of the finest meat around. And dress out 4 or 5 times as much as a white tail.

Link up top: Forecasts underestimate oil demand, study says

Unbelievable, that is all I can say about this article. The author complains that the study did not consider the effect "price" would have on demand. They completely missed the fact that the "production" will have a greatest effect of all. They project that "demand" will be 138 million barrels per day in 2030, just 20 years away. That is an increase of 53 million barrels per day over today's production. That works out to be an increase of 2.7 million barrels per day per year. Absurd!

They did get one thing right however:

Essentially, the study argues that, despite a lot of talk about reducing fossil fuel usage and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, the developing world’s efforts to curb its consumption of oil will be futile.

But here they ask the wrong question:

The question is whether or not declining oil demand in the industrialized world will be big enough to offset or at least slow the rate of growth in global oil demand. For the authors of this study, the answer is a clear and simple ‘no way’:

The question should be: whether or not declining oil production will be enough to meet world demand? Or whether or not declining oil production will be enough to keep the world's economies from completely collapsing? My answer: 'No way'.

Ron P.

The question should be: whether or not declining oil production will be enough to meet world demand? Or whether or not declining oil production will be enough to keep the world's economies from completely collapsing? My answer: 'No way'.

Reading between the lines in the report that may be what they fear as well. They conclude with


In contrast, we project a rest-of-world growth rate similar to what has occurred historically, to 1.8 liters/day by 2030. This difference in projections amounts to an extra 20 mbd in rest-of-world demand by 2030 – roughly twice the current production of Saudi Arabia.

Such rapid demand growth is unlikely to be supplied by conventional oil resources. Hence this imbalance would have to be rectified by some combination of higher real oil prices, much more rapid and aggressive penetration of alternative technologies for producing liquids, much tighter oil-saving policies and standards adopted by multiple countries, and slower world economic growth.

I tried to edit my post but I was too late, it had already been responded to. The article was not the one Leanan posted up top. I thought it was the same article that I found with news.google and had open at the time. That article was an expanded version of the one Leanan posted. It was an entirely different article but both articles were referring to the same study.

Study Finds that Peak Oil Demand is Decades Away, but Minimizes Effects of Rising Consumer Product Prices

And in my haste I even copied and pasted the wrong "one thing they got right". It should have been:

Essentially, the study argues that, despite a lot of talk about reducing fossil fuel usage and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, the developing world’s efforts to curb its consumption of oil will be futile.

Ron P.

The referenced research paper appears to make some basic blunders. After a quick scan, it appears to me that their demand model is an economic model tied to GDP and is based on historical consumption patterns. Therefore, their projections for future demand are based on future projections of the GDP of the nations they studied.

What they appear to be doing is projecting implied demand, given some assumptions of future GDP. But, their historical data applies to a period of time during which the geological constraints oil production were still relatively small. After Peak Oil, the game will be different. The basic fact is that real world demand can not exceed actual production. If we are actually facing Peak Oil, this would suggest that total world real GDP can no longer increase, since world oil production can not increase after Peak Oil. Peak Cheap Energy might be a better description of the problem.

This implies that, absent technological innovation, such as the energy from renewables and nuclear power, total GDP will begin to decline. Since there are nations where there are still opportunities to produce an increase in GDP with little energy use, the expected result might be a shift in GDP from the nations with high per capita energy consumption to those with low energy per capita consumption. Thus, the GDP of the developed nations would decline as the GDP is shifted to the more "efficient" nations with low consumption per capita.

After Peak Oil, we would see a Zero Sum Economy, with the richer nations being bled to support production in the poorer nations. That we are seeing this process today may be the result of this reality.

E. Swanson

I just had a thought...

If oil prices go way up, then when we burn the oil, our costs go up, thereby driving GDP up?

I mean, the oil is part of the product, right?

So, if oil goes up, then nominally the GDP does as well. Just like retail spending rose during January and February, but only in the food and fuel categories, and only because of price hikes to essential comodities.

And, that was given as great news. Retail Spending Rises!!

So... when oil goes to $250/BBL, and gas is at $10/gallon, GDP should be UP!

Whee!!! I love this. Everything is great!


As long as we continue to equate GDP with welfare, we will continue these inane discussions. Rest assured GDP will continue to rise as long as we have health care and oil. The goal should be reduce throughput in order to maintain or increase welfare without using GDP as measurement of same. My increase in health care bills exceeded my increase in income this year, so rest assured I do not feel better off. As global warming cranks up, air conditioning bills will rise with no increase in welfare. There are dozens of examples and until the federal government recognizes this, they will not have a clue as to what must be done.

We need to focus on the services and results provided by our expenditures, not the expenditures themselves. My bicycle trip to the store will not be reflected in GDP. So, in the eyes of most people and the government, there was no value added from my bicycle trip.

Yay, cycling. I always go out of my way not to generate GDP. For one thing, it's a good way to avoid paying tax most of the time.

Yay, solar powered electric bicycles.

....that their demand model is an economic model tied to GDP and is based on historical consumption patterns

And this is exactly why IEA, EIA have gotten their predictions right before 2005, but have struggled ever since.
Pity, their 120 mb/d ... down to 105 mb/d predictions (demands?) for 2020 seem far fetched even today,just a couple of years later.
Who is gonna arrest them? And when?

When 'a train' initially starts to deviate from their preset schedules- it's even harder to foresee the postponement-dominoes to come ... for the upcoming stations...

Ron, from your link:

Two days earlier, Accenture published a survey of 9,000 individuals in 22 countries about their attitudes on energy. Ninety percent were concerned by rising energy costs, and 76 percent by the prospect of shortages. Eighty-three percent were concerned by climate change, and 89 percent thought it was important to reduce their country’s reliance on fossil fuels. But barely a third thought they should do so by using less energy; the remainder believed their governments should find new sources, stat.

I would like to see a list of the 22 countries. My personal experience is that a majority of Americans resent the hell out of being told that they will have to use less of anything, energy especially. Their sense of entitlement is complete. This tells me two things:

1. Jevon was right

2. People will react badly when the inevitable occurs. Rationality will not be the order of the day. Our response to 9-11 was just a small taste.

Best hopes for rationality, acceptance, and adaptation.

2. People will react badly when the inevitable occurs. Rationality will not be the order of the day.

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason. – Oscar Wilde

89 percent thought it was important to reduce their country’s reliance on fossil fuels. But barely a third thought they should do so by using less energy; the

This is so typical. So stupid.

And of course, their answer to the problem?

the remainder believed their governments should find new sources, stat.

Wow! Their governments are now in the oil business. AND, they are better at finding it than anyone else, of course. Otherwise, why would we have voted them in?

But, wait! I have a better idea! We can pray... God will deliver the oil. After all, we are entitled.


I think they are right in that conservation is not a long-term answer. It is a great emergency response. A temporary bridge to something else. But if it's not a bridge to something else, then all you've done is made yourself even more vulnerable to a disruption in supply. IME, people intuitively understand this. Our society is based on growth, and there's only so far you can cut back when the population is growing and each generation expects to live better than their parents. Very few are able to wrap their minds around the idea of a steady-state, or worse, shrinking economy, where each generation is poorer than their parents.

Conservation should not be an emergency response, it should be a long time continuing response. In certain sectors, we can approach zero energy use, for example, in housing, with the passivhaus approach and better. But that is efficiency, so maybe that's not what you mean.

Thinking that we are going to be less dependent by seeking out local suppllies is not the long term answer easier. In any event, we will be better off in the future to the extent that we can insualate ourselves from as much energy use as possible.

There are those who think we can provide all our needs in the U.S. alone if we can just get rid of those damn environmentalists. Wrong!!

Maybe people can't wrap their minds around a steady state or decreased standard of living. Well, at some point, they won't have a choice so their minds will just have to follow.

The low hanging fruit is still conservation and efficiency, notwithstanding what people might like to do.

In any event, we will be better off in the future to the extent that we can insualate ourselves from as much energy use as possible.

I'm not sure I agree with that.

There's something to be said for inefficiency. (And Thomas Homer-Dixon said it.) I've often wondered whether the US would handle peak oil better than, say, Germany, because we have so much room to cut back. If you're already super-efficient, then cutting back becomes increasingly painful.

Maybe people can't wrap their minds around a steady state or decreased standard of living. Well, at some point, they won't have a choice so their minds will just have to follow.

I think they may die first. (And this is something I've predicted for years, long before the price spike and the Great Recession.) That is, people will be waiting for things to get "back to normal" for the rest of their lives. People will blame Democrats, Republicans, Arabs, Chinese, tree-huggers, Big Oil...you name it. Anything but physical reality. And of course the politicians will go along, promising that there will be a chicken in every pot and two SUVs in every garage, as soon as we conquer Venezuela/build 2,000 nuclear power plants/figure out how to make cellosic ethanol economically/scale up mining of methane hydrates/nationalize the oil companies etc.

Speaking of conservation:

According to a Caracas newspaper (Ultimas Noticias)

2 weeks ago 7620 businesses with "high consumption" in the Caracas area were given 2 weeks to reduce their electric consumption by 20%, or they would have the power turned off for 24 hours.

44% of the businesses were able reach the 20% goal. The first week saw a reduction of 2.53%, the second week the reduction rose to 14.68% (0,81 GWh).

The newspaper added that this savings was equivalent to adding in 60MW of generation. However the Guri Dam's water level dropped 15 cm yesterday.

Every targeted business receives a BIG sticker on its door or window detailing how much energy it consumed each 15 day period. If its bad the sticker is red and says "High Consumption" if it is good it gets a green sticker saying that the business has contributed to the national energy savings.

This is in a dense city filled with high-rises and tunnels that make lighting necessary. It is also during a heat wave, I haven't stopped sweating for days (real fun when the water is cut).

I have heard that the government is releasing Cadivi (cheap rate) dollars for any food related business that wishes to buy a gasoline powered generator, but I haven't seen any proof of that yet.

Is the opening of Fabricio Ojeda hydropower plant in Merida (1st 257 MW in October, 2010 and second 257 MW in April 2011) seen as much relief ? Or is Venezuela just waiting for rain ?

How many changes will be permanent energy savings, such as LED streetlights, more efficient lighting, etc.

Best Hopes for Keeping the Lights On,


I think they are right in that conservation is not a long-term answer. It is a great emergency response. A temporary bridge to something else. But if it's not a bridge to something else, then all you've done is made yourself even more vulnerable to a disruption in supply.

I don't understand this Leanan ... surely if you are conserving (and therefore consuming substantially less) then you increase your resilience against shortages or other disruptions?

Unless you are saying that being wasteful and profligate gives you a lot of "fat" if there is an interruption? But personally, I think conservation measures that are introduced - and not promised to be removed (ie, quasi-permanent) - are the best thing to do. I know freedom-loving Americans can't stand the thought of it ... but being conservative under a legislative regime (water restrictions, etc) - is actually quite nice, and you feel good about it.

I don't understand this Leanan ... surely if you are conserving (and therefore consuming substantially less) then you increase your resilience against shortages or other disruptions?

No, it's actually the opposite. See Stoneleigh's review of The Upside of Down for an explanation. Homer-Dixon argues that resilience is sort of the opposite of efficiency.

It's like those energy commercials where they interview ordinary people about where to get more energy. Like they'd know. Most couldn't find the GAP in a mall using the directory.

Yesterday I linked to Hamilton's review of the paper, which is an order of magnitude more perceptive than that one: Econbrowser: The challenges ahead for world oil. Good comments, too, had never thought about substituting coal for still gas or refinery fuel.

Ron, perhaps it is a question of semantics. We need to have two terms for "demand". The new needed one, I think of as N-demand (Nominal demand), which is estimated demand at a fixed price point. E-demand, or economist demand after the price adjusts things is equal to supply. If one knew three out of the four values of N-demand, priced, supply, and elasticity one could compute the missing item.

There are three dudes with knives that want your wallet. With regards to oil, the way I've seen traditional economists describe this scenario is that there is only 1 person demanding your wallet because you only have one wallet. Now, I'd say we should stick an economist in this position and see just how many people he thinks are demanding his one wallet.

I imagine the three knife wielding robbers will then fight amongst themselves over the one wallet until two are dead and one remains with the wallet. Hence the demand is now only for one wallet. the "price" of the wallet is therefore represented not just in dollar figures but in casualties... Any of that seem familiar?

First 270 km railroad in United Arab Emirates is "on track"

Part of a larger 1,500 km network planned.


Best Hopes for limiting ELM,


PS: In 2009, China spent $88 billion on improving their rail network.

A great article was posted just a few minutes ago: Jevons' Paradox and the Perils of Efficient Energy Use

A corollary is the Piggy Principle: instead of saving the energy conserved through efficiency, we find new ways to spend it, leading to greater consumption than before. No wonder Kunstler is alarmed that a hyper-efficient hypercar would lead to hyper-sprawl -- it’s only been the pattern throughout all of human history. Maybe the worst thing that could happen to new urbanism would be an incredibly efficient new car (or fuel) that allows Americans (and, increasingly, the Chinese) to carry on as before, as an oil glut allowed us to do between 1979 and 2001. Crisis is on their side.

The article goes on to explain why Kunstler and others are so hostile toward Amory Lovins. This is an excellent article and long enough to explain why Jevons' Paradox is applicable to the drive for more energy efficiency.

This article might be a candidate for a separate thread.

Ron P.

"Hybrid car owners drive more and get more traffic tickets, study finds"


"Hybrid car owners drive more and get more traffic tickets, study finds"

Enigma, I read the article. One comment is interesting:

This article is not objective--it has an agenda. It manufactures statistics to make a predetermined point.

It's a well known fact, for example, that many more people who drive a lot have purchased hybrids than low mileage drivers. It's simple economics. The article should compare the miles of drivers before and after they bought their hybrid.

That's true, but if it was sheer mileage that was the issue, you would think it would be driving to work that was longer, not other kinds of driving.

I love it when commenters can see the fallacy of enigma's link so quickly. Of course people who drive a lot can more easily justify a hybrid like the Prius. So hybrids self select high mileage purchasers.

If you don't drive much, it is hard justifying the extra cost of hybrids since there is diminishing return on investment. As mileage increases the marginal increase in mileage becomes an ever smaller percentage of the base which Leanan has pointed out many times.

And if you drive more of course you are likely to get more tickets, hybrid or not. Tickets are usually caused by the driver not the car.

This is logic and reasoning ability in action.

The whole article is baloney. It is the result of using numbers without good logic which regular readers know is one of my favorite targets.

For an argument to be true both the numbers and the logic behind them must be valid. If either the numbers or the logic behind them are false the argument is false.

x, did you read Leanan's second comment ?

This might also be a factor.

When they had the volunteers actually make purchases in the two different stores, the results were reversed. That is, the volunteers who made green purchases were more self-centered later on. It’s as if making a moral sacrifice establishes moral credentials, which subsequently licenses deviant behavior. Or put another way, we build up moral chits, which we can redeem later by acting selfishly.

Yes, so that can be a reason for driving more other miles than 'work miles'.
Leanan, I just opened the new article on TOD: 'Peak oil demand', yes, etc. but the bottom half of the page is empty, the comments there cannot be read.

Han, it is working fine for me. Perhaps you clicked on "Show without comments" by mistake.

Ron P.

Although I can read all comments I can confirm that the page is displaying incorrectly for me (sidebars off a mile down into empty space at the bottom of blank pages). That's with Firefox 3.6

(sidebars off a mile down into empty space at the bottom of blank pages).

Ahh yes, I am getting the same thing with both Firefox and IE. I never noticed that before, sorry.

Ron P.

No Ron, I never click on 'show without comments'. I saw only the first comments. Later, with zoom, I found out that what Undertow wrote is the fact: the bottom half of the comments is far more to the right, though the names of the commenters stayed on the left side. Never before this happened. I had to use 'copy and paste' to be able to read the comments on the right side completely, since only half of it is visible.

Jevons' paradox requires an expanding economy. Suppose a hypthetical consumer spends 10% of his income on direct energy purchases. Then the supply contracts, and the price triples, so that he has to spend 30% of his income on direct energy purchases. This leaves 20% less to spend on everything else, causing a huge depression. Suppose the consumer is resourceful and thrifty enough to reduce his consumption of energy by 50% and stll maintain a decent life. However, energy still costs him 15% of his income instead of 10%, leaving 5% less for everything else. How will the economy as a whole use more energy?
The article posted above says that one of the main reasons Jevons' paradox worked in Jevons' lifetime was that oil was more efficient than coal. It goes on to say that biofuels could provide the same stimulus in the future. However, most TOD readers realize that biofuel is mostly hype, limited by EROI and scalability.

What if a college education just isn't for everyone?

Federal data show that fewer than 60% of new students graduate from four-year colleges in six years, and just one in three community college students earn a degree. More than 350,000 students who borrowed for college in 1995 had no degree six years later, according to a 2005 study for the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

"It's fine for most kids to go to college, of course, (but) it is not obvious to me that that is the best option for the majority," says Mike Gould, founder of New Futures, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that provides scholarships for low-income students pursuing anything from a four-year degree to a massage-therapy certification. "Some education may be a good thing or it may just be a lot of debt."

I have to say that there's more to college, particularly Community College than the degree. I got my jobs after college, not from my completed certificate, but from connections and internships I took during the program.


Is there something going on with the site lately? I just responded to this and hit Save, and it erased my comment and left me at 'edit comment' again, with no 'back' option. This has happened several times in the last couple days.

(Firefox just upgraded itself.. is that the conflict?)

But it's not like there are no other ways to make such connections. The article points to apprenticeships as one such alternative.

f!!! it just did it again..

What's going on?

I use Firefox, and I have not had the problem you describe. Perhaps it's one of your extensions?

yeah, could be..


I upgraded a while back and it reset my pop-ups setting. There was some kind of ghost pop-up that zapped my entry. I learned to copy my posts before hitting save, JIC.

The vast majority of jobs simply do not require a college degree in the sense that what one learns in college being required for the skill required for the job. For the most part, college is for the mediocre. The truly smart people like Bill Gates do not have a college degree.

Now there are other reasons to go to college and I truly appreciated my time there. For the most part, however, it is just social norms and perceptions that make a degree useful from an employment perspective.

I think I read somewhere recently that a college degree that's otherwise unnecessary may be seen by some employers as a marker that the degree-holder is, in essence, tolerant of bureaucratic BS. Seems plausible.

college is for the mediocre

Most of us out here disagree with you.
And we are far from mediocre.

It takes a colossal amount of ingratitude to not appreciate the hard work and dedication that the few good teachers you had over the years put into their craft.

No man is an island or a 'self-made' man.
If some have climbed higher, they did it (if done the legitimate way) by stepping up on the shoulders of the many dedicated teachers who lifted them upwardly over the years.

As for Bill Gates, he's a crafty business man, yes. But he is no Einstein.
Have you seen his 2010 TED talk on energy?

From one of my favorite American cities:

Local developers embrace green building practices

From a former bakery in the East End to a luxury hotel in the heart of Downtown, more developers are finding gold in green.

If once hesitant, developers now are embracing green building construction and practices not only as a way to save money and help the environment but because they are in high demand by those who matter the most, their customers.


At one time more the exception than the rule, green commercial and office developments now are budding like flowers in the warm spring air.

Holly Childs, executive director of the Green Building Alliance, said there's a big reason behind it: People are demanding it.

"Tenants are saying that if you want me in the building it has to be a green certified building or a green performing building," she said.

See: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10075/1042990-334.stm


Rain, even urine, would help make Bullitt HQ city's 'greenest building ever'

The Bullitt Foundation plans to build Seattle's greenest building ever, a six-story structure generating as much electricity as it consumes and relying almost exclusively on rain for its water.

The end of the world is coming in 2012...due to an impending junk bond avalanche:

The apocalyptic talk is not limited to perpetual bears and the rest of the doom-and-gloom crowd.

Even Moody’s, which is known for its sober public statements, is sounding the alarm.

“An avalanche is brewing in 2012 and beyond if companies don’t get out in front of this,” said Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody’s.

And this from Denninger is kinda scary. A lot of people that are financial basket cases, who should be allowed to declare bankruptcy and start over, are being propped up by the government. They are "economic zombies."

Turns out those clever Mayans were expert financial engineers too.

Or more likely, the calendar makers knew planned obsolescence was good for business.

States Hope for a Rich Uncle
Governors Lobby Washington for More Money as Stimulus Aid Runs Out

Strapped states, facing up to $180 billion in budget deficits in the next fiscal year, are going hat in hand to Washington.

California wants $6.9 billion in federal money for the next fiscal year, and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he'll have to eliminate state health and welfare programs without it. Illinois, facing a $13 billion deficit that equals roughly half of the state's operating budget, has what it dubs a stimulus team and a group in Washington pressing for additional state aid. Among other things, Illinois is hoping the federal government will keep paying a higher share of Medicaid costs. "That's $600 million we desperately need," said Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office. Those funds already are counted in the governor's budget proposal.

But in Congress, members are balking at further subsidies amid an election-year outcry over the U.S. deficit and federal involvement in the economy.

GM is too big to fail. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, and Chase... all too big to fail. Illinois? California? Texas? Screw 'em! They can't even file for bankruptcy, so how could they possibly fail?

Besides, we need the money to fight the oil wars.



States have it better than GM. They have sovereign immunity, and can cancel debts without recourse.

So, say GM had same powers.

Then last year, they would have voided the union contracts, cancelled the pensions, siezed all assets from pension plans, cancel all bonds, and cancel all accounts payable, voided all warranties, etc. The cost would have been all equity financing for foreseeable future, and having to pay cash up front on future purchases. IMO, these actions would have put GM in stronger financial position than it is today. And the old, now wiped-out shareholders would have been much better off.

Leanan, I think they stole this idea from 'Nostrodamus prophecy prediction' that was recently on Discovery Channel. Several cultures came to the same conclusion: 21 december 2012 is the end for humanity. Mentioned are a lot of causes. Resource depletion, financial meltdown, global warming, meteor impact, solar rays. You get the point: the first three events cause the latter two.

It's the end of the Aztec calendar - like a new year is the end of our calendar. It's not a prediction of the end of humanity, but the doom plays out well in Hollywood.

Peak oil can be pretty depressing, but I don't think it means the end of Humanity. Global warming in a few hundred or thousand years might, but not peak oil.

Here in the US we are way past peak and still produce about a third of the oil we used at the peak. That oil is declining very slowly, plus sources like the tar sands in Canada will likely stay in North America. Even if imports were to drop to zero, our economy only needs to drop 50% or so from the peak. That is plenty of oil to feed everyone and keep basic services going. Solar, wind, and other energy sources could easily grow faster then the depletion of our oil from that reduced base. We could then start growing again.

What I was writing was about
Nostrodamus 'end of humanity' prophecy in 2012, as predicted also by several cultures including Maya culture.

Here in the US we are way past peak and still produce about a third of the oil we used at the peak. That oil is declining very slowly

sfhaze, the reason for this is explained several times here. A lot of wells are not owned by companies and produce few barrels per day. Besides, before 1970 they didn't have the advanced technology that is used the last decades, so in 1970 much more than half of the URR was left in the U.S. fields. Both facts don't give an optimistic view for world decline past peak.

Han, Michel de Notredame aka Nostradamus didn't predict the end of humanity in 2012; check any accurate edition of his works and you'll discover that. (On the other hand, he did predict a "Great King of Terror" descending from the sky in 1999. Did that happen?) There's been a great deal of nonsense imported into his prophecies of late.

There's been an even larger amount of nonsense imported into the Mayan calendar. That calendar doesn't "end" in 2012 -- there are Mayan stelae with prophecies dating many centuries beyond that. 2012 is simply the rollover of one of many Mayan calendar cycles, and there's zero evidence that the ancient Maya themselves thought it was particularly important. The whole 2012 business, in fact, was manufactured out of whole cloth by Jose Arguelles and Terence McKenna in the 1970s, and when 12/21/2012 passes without incident, as it will, some new date will be found on which people can pin their fantasies of apocalypse.

I dunno. If Sarah Palin (a real life Nehemiah Scudder?) is elected president in 2012, maybe it will be the start of the End Times.

Funny! (And a tip of the hat for the Heinlein reference, too.) Still, having Palin on the GOP ticket in 2012 is about the only thing I can think of that could give Obama a second term. We may have a Scudder or two in our future, or for that matter a Schicklgruber, but Caribou Barbie? I don't see it.

I sell doomsday insurance if anybody is interested.

I sell pre-paid legal services for suing the doomsday insurance company in case they don't pay up after the apocalypse. Reasonable rates. Inquire within.

I bundle future doomsday insurance claim receipts, and resell them. Then I take out large derivative positions shorting the doomsday claim receipt market.

I am approaching the Mayan calendar in a much more scientific manner.

The Mayans saw life as a fractal. So by examining a short time scale they felt they could interpret a larger time scale. So by noticing, say an ant colony, they could extrapolate that to all life forms and all cycles.

"Philosophically, the Maya believed that knowing the past meant knowing the cyclical influences that create the present, and by knowing the influences of the present one can see the cyclical influences of the future."




2012 is when our solar system crosses the galactic plane. The Mayans correctly calculated all sorts of events like eclipses, crossing the galactic plane is a nice place to mark the beginning of a calendar based on astronomy. Some think we might get blasted by radiation or something like that, but I don't think there are any extinction events in our history that line up with that timing.

The future doesn't seem rosy, but I don't see a complete collapse. Like I said, we have enough oil to feed everyone and get by while we slowly rebuild with renewables. Nuclear war could change that, and eventually global warming might, but it took Rome 100 years to fall from the peak.

Yes, Agreed. I do not see a collapse either, just an ending, a changing. I think they can be subtle which might leave all this open to sort of a self fulfilling prophecy. But I think saw cycles more clearly in my opinion. And I am not making them out to be anything great, but just a way to look at information from a different angle.

we have enough oil to feed everyone and get by while we slowly rebuild with renewables.

sfhaze, have you thought about how the economy looks like if oil is used for not much more than the basics ?

So oil and gas companies are willing to pay higher taxes - as long as those taxes fund infrastructure that reinforces our dependence on their products? Yeah, skip the light rail and wind/solar farms, what we need right now is bigger highway overpasses. Gee, thanks guys. Your generosity is astounding. Really.

And the really fun part is that in the long run they will actually be using your money to fund the infrastructure. Corporations do not pay taxes, customers of corporations pay the corporations taxes.

The American Way: Socialize the costs, privatize the profits.

Free market my ass.

For those at the top, it's called the "lunch is free market".

The UK's natural gas Long Range Storage is located in an old depleted gas field. Does that mean we can go below theoretical "zero"? LRS is now 91.5% depleted according to official figures.


Note: Days before breach at average withdrawal: 9.5 days

I note that flows on the Langeled pipeline still appear to be erratic.


This was, IIRC, from a fairly high starting point at the beginning of the winter season. Will the UK struggle to refill over the summer from such a low starting point, or will LNG shipments address that?

There is LNG storage too, isn't there, just not much of it?

Yes there's LNG storage as well but that's a working buffer to allow a steady supply of LNG in addition to other available sources (including traditional storage during heating season). We currently still need both LNG and LRS running to keep the network pressurised. Warmer weather and a stable supply from Norway still seem to be needed for us to get by without LRS. It is warming now though but still time for another cold snap or two yet.

One has to hope National Grid know what they are doing but if I was a government energy minister I'd be calling someone in for a "chat" if I saw a chart saying that we had less than 10 days of gas storage at current usage. That's gambling with energy security gone completely mad and if they don't realise that then they should be sacked. There is no margin for any near future contingency left however they want to spin it.

And to think that so called expert analysts were predicting as recently as December that UK storage would end the winter at a record high. Well they got the "record" bit right anyway.

As to LNG imports it seems at least a rather problematical strike has been averted. I imagine the union was in a good bargaining position!

UK gas prices broadly softer as supplies recover

Big swings in flows through the Langeled pipeline from Norway have supported gas prices after a power cut briefly shut the Ormen Lange field last week, but strong flows from Britain's LNG import terminals and milder weather have tempered price rises.

Flows through Langeled recovered from a rate of just 20 million cubic metres a day early on Tuesday morning to around 50 mcm by midday, according to data from National Grid. Six LNG tankers are scheduled to arrive at Milford Haven port in south Wales before the end of the week, with five heading for South Hook and one for Dragon LNG.

The threat of strike action which could have prevented LNG tankers from getting off the port indefinitely was also lifted on Tuesday after management agreed a deal with union members over pensions.

Seems that you have a complex system where what used to be redundancy or resiliency has now become the nominal supply. Rather than a situation where you had many available sources that could support multiple simultaneous outages (no single point of failure) you now have a situation where you have many sources the failure of any of which will cause significant problems (multiple single points of failure).

Since it is frail, it provides leverage to every party who sells into or supports the system...so it'll be more expensive as well.

So going forward the secondary fall-backs (dropping industrial customers) will become the primary protection mechanism. When that falls short, what does the rest of the priority scheme look like? How long before Grandma gets chilly, due either to expense or shortage?

I have my first insurance analysis post up:

Interesting. Now if I were a high-finance sort I'd sell quake insurance tranches....

The problem as I see it is that the bottom tier can hand-wave away the "big one" through re-insurance, while likely the reinsurance company sells to many such companies yet maintains relatively small reserves. Re-insurance expects to be called upon rarely, of course, but when "the big one" happens it will fold instantly, and nobody will get any money to speak of, as the reinsurance funds really just spin out cash to their investors/owners and don't really hold much equity. I think it cannot be any other way, because a fat-tail event will not only destroy the insured homes, the pull-out of the investments to cover them, even it they existed, would collapse the equity markets which will reeling from customer disruption anyway.

Only a large, truly global insurer perhaps could diversify holdings far enough (worldwide) to handle "the big one", yet those same companies (such as AIG) have already proven themselves to be shell games.

I'm waiting for the recognition that whole-life insurance policies are in the same state as AIG and hurricane insurance....no proof, but I imagine there is a life insurance bailout hiding down the road after pension defaults.

I spent about an hour looking for histogram data on health insurance data claims and could find nothing. This would be monetary size of claim versus cumulative probability.

Is this information proprietary to insurance companies, and something they work hard to keep secret? Perhaps if that information were known we'd see how little they actually payout on average?

I note that flows on the Langeled pipeline still appear to be erratic.

For US readers, to emphasise the importance of this one pipeline, I'll point out that this single pipeline alone supplies the UK with 70 mcm/day when everything is working.

That's 2.5 Billion Cubic Feet per day through the longest undersea gas pipeline in the world.

That's a lot of gas.

Here is a 10 video on Ormen Lange and Langeled. This is definitely adding to the EROEI.

The film about Hydro's huge Ormen Lange project - "The Traveller" - has won gold, silver and bronze awards in what is considered to be the selection of the world's best corporate films. Presenter; Ian Wright-

National Geographic-TV has a one hour show on Ormen Lange every now and then.

From "The war for survival cannot be won..." article above:

"But then, "sustainable" for them is just an adjective to adorn press releases and policy announcements---it is devoid of meaningful content."

While many of the people I admire most are working under the banner of 'sustainability' of some sort, I have major problems with this word.

First, it is what I will call a false un-negative.

We think mathematically of the negative of a negative being a positive. But that is now how it comes out in actual human language. If you say something is "not awful," it is not very positive even though you have used two negatives.

A similar thing happens with deleting a negative prefix of a term for something people want to avoid. The resulting term is far from ringingly positive--many can accept that blind intolerance of others based on random features such as sex, race...is not a good thing. But just deleting the 'in-' prefix leaves us with a rather wan and uninspiring goal--tolerance. If I tell you I can just barely tolerate your presence, well, I guess that's better than being unable to tolerate you, but it's isn't a very marked improvement nor a very lofty goal to aspire to (but, of course, many times perhaps it is the most that can be hoped for).

An early perception of the ecological community was that we were living in a manner that was unsustainable on a limited planet over any very long time frame. But just because non-sustainability is bad, doesn't mean than mere sustainability, any more than mere tolerance, is a very worthy goal.

Of course, even this rather pale and uninspiring not-quite-absolutely-negative goal seems to be completely out of our reach at this point.

The larger problem I have with it is that is falls into a largish category of political words that are modifiers parading as absolutes.

I asked a class of students to raise their hands if they wanted 'a lot.' Only one unwary student raised his hand. At that point I said he would get his wish--I would reward him with a lot of F's on his assignments throughout the class.

I hastened to add that this was just a demonstration and his grades were not in fact imperiled. The point was that 'a lot' has no meaning until you know the answer to the question "a lot of what?"

This quality of modifiers used as false absolute referents is found in many words bandied about by politicians because of their obvious value. When a candidate promises "hope," every citizen supplies their own referent of what the hope is FOR--a job, an education, continuation of BAU...

The politician doesn't have to be explicit or explicitly lie--the listeners mind has done all the lying for him.

The same goes for "success" and many other terms, including sustainability.

What is it that we want to sustain? This is the real question that should be at the center of the discussion. Most here would agree that sustaining BAU is out of the question, but many hearing about efforts toward sustainability think it's just that, even if many actively working under this and similar banners do not have this in mind.

I've gone on long enough, but it is this and many other kinds of confusions of language that are likely to keep us from understanding even what we are talking about.

We are pretty good at knowing what is not sustainable because virtually everything we do is not sustainable. We just haven't figured out what is sustainable. Anyway, for starters, I think most would agree as to what we need to sustain. Life!! However, I read somewhere that 120 species are going extinct every day.

Good post!!

So why not call it "life preserving" or "life enhancing" rather than sustainable?

To the extent that most people think of it as sustainable of current rates of consumption, that kind of sustainability is NOT sustainable for life.

My parable on this topic is that a gang of men is abusing a child, when one points out that if they continue their abuse at their current rate, the child will soon be dead and their fun will be over, and so he proposed "sustainability."

The others, of course, just kick his ass and continue as they were before.

[US] Navy Taps Oceans for Power

As the Navy dives headlong into the challenge of meeting its alternative energy goals within the next decade, technologists are striving to help the service harness solar power trapped in ocean waters to generate electricity for its shore-side bases.

Facilities ashore consume a quarter of the Navy’s annual energy resources. Most are powered by the U.S. electrical grid, which relies on fossil fuel generators. In addition to being tied to the turbulent prices of foreign oil, the grid infrastructure is vulnerable to hacker attacks, says R. James Woolsey, senior advisor at Vantage Point and former co-chair of the Defense Science Board’s study on energy and defense.

See: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2010/April/Pages/NavyTaps...

Not sure if this story was previously flagged:

How Much Does the Pentagon Pay for a Gallon of Gas?

For most people, answering the question, “How much does it cost to fill up your gas tank?” is a no-brainer. The average driver knows how much he or she pays for fuel.

That is not the case at the Department of Defense.

The Defense Logistics Agency buys military fuel for $2.82 per gallon. But that same fuel can cost $13 if it’s shipped by ground to a forward-deployed location, during peacetime. If it’s transferred in-flight from a refueling airplane to another aircraft, the gas is $42. If troops are in hostile areas, prices can range from $100 to $600 for “in theater” delivery. The Army estimated fuel can cost up to $400 a gallon if the only way to ship it is via helicopters.



Hi Paul,

Could you email me please? (click on 1observer for address)


dearest oil conundrummers,
or is it oil humdrummers?
i read the following article by Daniel Pinchbeck.
"We spent the night at Lago Agrio, the Dodge City of Ecuador, population twenty-five thousand and growing. It was a ragged boomtown of two industries: oil and prostitution. Ten years ago, the area was virgin rainforest; now it was slashed-and-burnt scrub. Once it is destroyed, the rainforest does not regenerate itself, and the local climate quickly becomes too hot and dry for farming. The land, for all practical purposes, becomes useless.

Our bus driver and his buddy returned with sheepish grins from a night on the town. They bragged about the teenage prostitutes who could be had for $2 at the local whorehouses. I thought of the chain of dehumanization and exploitation beginning with the oil company's quest for profit, the American consumer's avidity for cheap gas to fuel SUVs, the corrupt governments of bankrupt Third World countries seeking payoffs, ending with despoiled rainforests and teenage Mestizo girls contracting AIDS from drunk ditch diggers in Third World backwaters. Benjamin's "religion of destruction" was performing its good works. "

read the whole book yourselves. let's see someone make a pretty chart or graph about that.

no one get's out of here alive & it's all good.

The bombs in question in the Bunker Busters item are general purpose bombs, not bunker busters--just google "blu bombs" and see for yourself