Drumbeat: March 19, 2010

What will a post-peak world be like? We might be about to find out...

Over the coming weeks petrol prices could be at their highest level ever, experts have warned. In an exclusive preview article, Jamie Spears of the UK Energy Research Centre considers the social and economic implications of dwindling oil supplies

We have walked out of our burning house and we are now headed off the edge of a cliff. Beyond that cliff is an abyss of economic and political disorder on a scale that no one has ever seen before.

This is one extreme of opinion on what society may look like if global oil production peaks. It is by no means the only one. Commentators have envisaged post-peak futures from slight economic adjustment to complete societal breakdown. But what are the most likely effects of a supply-limited peak in oil production?

Most home remodeling will soon require EPA-certified workers

Planning to remodel? Unless your home is fairly new, only renovators specially certified to handle lead will soon be legally allowed to do the work. The problem: there aren't many of them yet.

Bring On the Bees

New York City’s board of health voted Tuesday to lift a ban against beekeeping, legalizing the hives of hundreds of residents who have tended bees in defiance of the law.

The unanimous vote amends the health code to allow residents to keep hives of Apis mellifera, the common, nonaggressive honeybee. Beekeepers will be required to register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and to adhere to appropriate practices. That means they must be able to control bee swarms and ensure that the hives do not interfere with pedestrians or neighbors.

A Dangerous Mix of Water and Oil

Peak oil prophet Matt Simmons recently put out a paper called “Twin Threats to Resource Scarcity: Oil & Water.” In it, he makes the case that “without water, we cannot create modern energy.”

That’s bad news, because the battles over water are just starting to heat up, particularly in the oil-rich Middle East. Do you think the Middle East is just an empty desert? Think again. The combined population of Middle Eastern countries grew three-fold from 1970 to 2010. There are now more people in the Middle East than in the U.S. and Canada combined. If the population keeps along current trends, the Middle East will have 500 million thirsty inhabitants by 2020.

The True Cost of Corn Ethanol

There have been a number of recent articles and reports that have come out attempting to quantify whether the various subsidies for first-generation biofuels, such as corn ethanol and soybean-derived biodiesel, make economic sense.

And while they are interesting, most are missing the bigger picture.

EU understates emissions from oil: biodiesel lobby

(Reuters) - The European Union is not taking full account of the environmental impact of oil-based road transport fuels, which could undermine the bloc's renewable energy goals, European biodiesel producers said on Thursday.

The EU uses greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-based road fuels as a basis for calculating the climate benefits of crop-based biofuels.

But biodiesel producers argue the EU's reference values for emissions from diesel and petrol are set too low. That's because they fail to take account of the rising use of unconventional fossil fuels such as Canadian tar sands and extra heavy oil.

Shortcomings Exposed in Oil Data

The U.S. government faces shortcomings in producing its oil-inventory data, according to internal Department of Energy documents, casting doubt on figures that affect the production and prices of the world's most important industrial commodity.

The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, expose several errors in the Energy Information Agency's weekly oil report, including one in September that was large enough to cause a jump in oil prices, and a litany of problems with its data collection, including the use of ancient technology and out-of-date methodology, that make it nearly impossible for staff to detect errors. A weak security system also leaves the data open to being hacked or leaked, the documents show.

Moreover, problems with EIA data underscore the hazards of depending on companies or other firms to self-report data.

Breaking the Growth Habit: An Q&A with Bill McKibben

Is zero growth necessary, or would "very slight" growth be sustainable?
A specific number is not part of the analysis. I'm more interested in trajectories: What happens if we move away from growth as the answer to everything and head in a different direction? We've tried very little else. We can measure society by other means, and when we do, the world can become much more robust and secure. You start having a food supply you can count on, and an energy supply you can count on, and know they aren't undermining the rest of the world. You start building communities that are strong enough to count on, so individual accumulation of wealth becomes less important.

If "growth" should no longer be our mantra, then what should it be?
We need stability. We need systems that don't rip apart. Durability needs to be our mantra. The term "sustainability" means essentially nothing to most people. "Maintenance" is not very flashy. "Maturity" would be the word we really want, but it's been stolen by the AARP. So durability is good; durability is a virtue.

Perils of the Stationary State

When economic growth finally levels off, what kind of world comes after? Shall we be unchained from the mad rush for money of the last century? Or will other but equally chafing chains weigh us down instead?

Erik Assadourian: our society needs some serious cultural engineering

Culture defines what gives one status. In our consumer culture, status is equated with stuff. In some cultures, it is not a status symbol to keep buying new stuff, but to take care of the stuff we already have. Changing status symbols will not happen without serious cultural engineering. This may be uncomfortable for some, but cultural engineering has been happening for consumer interests for the last century or more.

For example, in order to spread the car the automobile industry had to 'normalise' the idea that roads are for cars and not people. It did this not only through advertising and marketing, but also by working with schools to get children to sign petitions not to play in the streets. In some cities, they bought up trolley systems and dismantled them to destroy the competition.

The environmental community, if it really expects to create a sustainable society, needs to start using these same tactics more effectively, rather than just fighting at a political advocacy level.

Pemex to Stabilize Output This Year, Calderon Says

Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state- owned oil company, aims to stabilize its crude production at 2.5 million to 2.6 million barrels a day this year, said Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Declining output at the Cantarell field has been controlled, Pemex’s Chief Executive Officer Juan Jose Suarez Coppel said today. Suarez Coppel and Calderon spoke at a ceremony in Tula, Hidalgo, to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Mexico’s expropriation of foreign oil assets.

API: Hydraulic Fracturing Is Safe and Effective

The American Petroleum Institute released the following statement today on EPA's announcement that it will conduct a comprehensive research study to investigate the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and water quality:

"We expect the study to confirm what 60 years of experience and investigation have already demonstrated: that hydraulic fracturing is a safe and well understood technology for producing oil and natural gas. We hope the agency will provide ample opportunity for stakeholder comment and participation during the course of its study. Our members are experts on well construction and development and on safe and effective hydraulic fracturing operations."

Shell probes reported Nigeria pipeline attack

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - The Nigerian military said on Friday oil thieves had sabotaged an oil pipeline at Buguma in the Niger Delta and Royal Dutch Shell said it was investigating.

EU won't block Poland-Russia gas deal-commissioner

WARSAW (Reuters) - The European Union does not see any reason to block a long-delayed gas delivery deal between Poland and Russia, the block's new energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Friday.

Enbridge doubles capacity of North Dakota pipeline

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Calgary-based pipeline giant Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) has more than doubled the capacity of a U.S. regional North Dakota oil pipeline to handle up to 161,000 barrels per day, as crude production in the region increases, state officials said Friday.

Enbridge has expanded capacity of the North Dakota system pipeline, which originates in eastern Montana and bisects North Dakota before reaching Clearbrook, Minnesota, where it ties into the 1.4 million-bpd southbound Lakehead pipeline system, also controlled by Enbridge.

Emergency Gas Plans for EU Clear First Hurdle 19 March 2010

BRUSSELS — European Union proposals to force countries to build new emergency gas infrastructure were approved Thursday by a parliament panel, but a requirement to prepare for 60 days of supply cuts was reduced to 45 days.

The European Parliament's influential industry committee approved the European Commission's proposal, which aims to prepare countries to withstand lengthy cuts in supplies of gas in winter.

Pakistan to ask for more understanding at US talks

ISLAMABAD -- Claiming that it has bowed far enough to U.S. interests, Pakistan will use next week's high-level talks with the Obama administration to seek more recognition for its part in the fight against terrorism and get Washington to acknowledge its concerns about rival India.

Tony Blair’s secret oil links to Middle East

Tony Blair's secret links to Gulf oil giants were revealed today as fresh details emerged of his “carte blanche” support for George Bush's Iraq war.

The former prime minister has been in the pay of the Kuwaiti government and a South Korean oil firm for up to 18 months, a parliamentary watchdog has revealed.

Consumers Buy More Efficient Refrigerators, But Keep the Old Ones Humming

Each year millions of Americans with old, inefficient refrigerators in their kitchens buy new, energy saving ones. That may sound like an efficiency boon, but what’s vexing efficiency advocates is that an increasing number of consumers don’t actually get rid of the old fridge.

Instead, they move it to another area of the house and keep using it — increasing their energy usage overall.

Industrial sector: Energy crisis hampers production in Venezuela

More than 90 percent of the companies surveyed by the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (Conindustria) claim that power cuts hamper production.

According to a press release, "for the first time in the history of the Industrial Situational Survey, conducted by the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (Conindustria), electricity rationing is considered a barrier, actually the worst, to production growth. This suggests how serious the energy problem in Venezuela is; it involves unscheduled blackouts and scheduled cuts in electricity supply seriously affecting productivity in the manufacturing sector."

We lose when the grid keeps us using more

HUGE increases in electricity prices might be more palatable if we were getting, for our money, a cleaner and more efficient grid that helped us respond effectively to climate change.

We're not. In fact, we're busily expanding a grid that entrenches electricity generation from fossil fuels and will only accelerate climate change.

Charter 284 - Energy: The future

At 10.15pm on Tuesday 10 November 2009, without warning, 60 million people in Brazil were suddenly in darkness. In 800 cities, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, every light went out that wasn’t connected to a battery or back-up generator. Metros came to a halt. The bus system collapsed. Police rushed onto the streets to deter looting, and there were widespread reports of road accidents.

In short, 40% of people in the fifth most populous country in the world spent five hours in a very scary place they used to call home. Over in Paraguay it was worse: the whole of the country went black.

KenGen Plan To Boost Geo-thermal Plants

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said Monday it has plans to construct more geothermal power plants to generate 280 megawatts of electricity.

We'll open a nuclear power station every 18 MONTHS, say Tories

One new nuclear power station would be opened every 18 months under a Conservative blueprint to avoid the first widespread electricity blackouts since the 1970s.

Shadow energy spokesman Greg Clark told the Daily Mail there would be 'no limit' on the expansion of nuclear power under a Tory government.

Cap-and-trade's last hurrah

IN THE 1990s cap-and-trade—the idea of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by auctioning off a set number of pollution permits, which could then be traded in a market—was the darling of the green policy circuit. A similar approach to sulphur dioxide emissions, introduced under the 1990 Clean Air Act, was credited with having helped solve acid-rain problems quickly and cheaply. And its great advantage was that it hardly looked like a tax at all, though it would bring in a lot of money.

The cap-and-trade provision expected in the climate legislation that Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham have been working on, which may be unveiled shortly, will be a poor shadow of that once alluring idea. Cap-and-trade will not be the centrepiece of the legislation (as it was of last year’s House climate bill, Waxman-Markey), but is instead likely to apply only to electrical utilities, at least for the time being. Transport fuels will probably be approached with some sort of tax or fee; industrial emissions will be tackled with regulation and possibly, later on, carbon trading. The hope will be to cobble together cuts in emissions similar in scope to those foreseen under the House bill, in which the vast majority of domestic cuts in emissions came from utilities.

Climate scientists are getting a little too angry for their own good.

Urgent calls to escalate the war against climate skeptics may lead scientists and their organizations into a dangerous trap, fueling further political disagreement while risking public trust in science. A major transformation is needed in how scientists and their organizations engage the public and policymakers. The new direction is not to become more political and confrontational on the national stage, but to seek opportunities for greater public interaction, dialogue, and partnerships in communities across the country.

Richard Heinberg: It's time to deal with Peak Oil

The "Peak Oil" concept -- that the world's petroleum-production rate will soon reach its maximum and commence an inevitable decline, with negative economic consequences -- has been around in scientifically articulated form at least since 1998; long enough to see it confirmed in significant ways.

The rate of discovery of new oilfields has been falling since 1964. The biggest find in recent years is Tupi, in Brazilian waters, which is claimed to hold five-to-eight billion barrels of oil; but that's only enough to slake the world's thirst for 60 to 90 days. Most producing nations are past their domestic peaks and are experiencing slowing output, despite every effort to maintain flow rates.

Skeptics point out that total world oil reserves continue to grow. But this may not be a reliable indication of where we stand: Often, in nations that have seen a peak and subsequent decline in production, domestic reserves continued to rise right up to, or even past, the date of peak production. Why? Oil companies replace reserves of high-quality, cheaply-produced oil with reserves of low-quality, slow-, or expensive-to-produce oil or tar sands.

A moment no one can predict: At some point, oil will start to run out. But trying to divine when is futile

I'm about to say something I probably shouldn't: Frankly, I don't know or care much about Peak Oil.

A wise man wouldn't admit that, not because it isn't a perfectly defensible position. It is -- I can't know in what year the world's production of oil will reach its maximum and begin to decline. And neither can anyone else. So it seems pointless to spend a lot of time debating whether or not we have passed that point, are about to pass it or will not reach it for decades to come.

Oil drifts below $82 as month-long rally stalls

Oil prices drifted below $82 a barrel Friday as a stronger dollar helped pause a monthlong rally fueled by mostly positive news about the U.S. economy.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for April delivery was down 49 cents to $81.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 73 cents to settle at $82.20 on Thursday.

Crude jumped to $83 a barrel earlier this week from $69 early last month on expectations sluggish consumer demand will eventually catch up with a steadily improving U.S. economy.

Gas prices highest level since 2008

Motorists are paying the highest prices for gas since October 2008. Retail gasoline prices rose on Thursday on an expected increase in demand and as more expensive spring and summer blends of gasoline make their way to the pumps.

The central oil bank of Saudi Arabia

Comparing Opec to a central bank might not strike everyone as a sensationally illuminating comment, but bear with us.

Schenker’s point is actually pretty intuitive. What’s more we would suggest what he’s really suggesting is that it’s Saudi Arabia, not the collective force of Opec, who is operating as a central bank.

The U.S. No Longer Controls the Price of Oil

Back in the days when US oil demand controlled the price of oil, a massive recession in the United States would have sent oil to 12.00 dollars a barrel. That era, which ended last decade, was defined by ongoing spare capacity in OPEC, low-cost oil in Non-OPEC, and nascent demand for oil in the developing world. That was then, and this is now. And so it’s rather quaint that the energy analysts from that previous era still gather each week on American financial TV, to discuss the inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma? The US has been removing discretionary demand for oil for years, starting back in 2004. And current unemployment in California is at 13.2%–another new post-war high. Yet oil is at 82.00 dollars? Get these analysts off TV. Please. We need analysis of diesel demand in Guangdong, and Uttar Pradesh.

Mexico posts modest rise in oil replacement rate

TULA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico added slightly more crude oil and natural gas to its proven reserves last year than in 2008 and posted a higher production replacement rate as output declined, according to data released on Thursday.

President Felipe Calderon said state oil monopoly Pemex [PEMX.UL] replaced 77 percent of the oil and gas it extracted last year with proven new discoveries, up from a 71.8 replacement rate for 2008.

The new proven reserves include the development of previously unproven finds and revisions to older data.

Mexico oil finds could yield 2 billion barrels

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's state-owned oil company says it has found deposits of up to 2 billion barrels of super-light and super-heavy oil in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ivory Coast-Ghana Mixed Commission To End Oil Dispute

ABIDJAN -(Dow Jones)- The Ivorian minister for mines and energy said a joint- commission will be setup by Ivory Coast and Ghana "in the next few weeks" to find a solution to a dispute over their maritime border after an oil discovery.

Speaking in Abidjan Wednesday following a meeting yesterday in Accra with the Ghanaian president he said "neither side is going to go to war over this. There are mechanisms to resolve this without any friction."

Shell makes deep oil strike in Gulf of Mexico

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has made a significant discovery of oil 25,000 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company says the deposits were found at the Appotmattox prospect in the Mississippi Canyon of the gulf, an area where other rich deposits were discovered last year.

Shell Earnings on Alberta Oil Sands Outstrip Projects Elsewhere

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which plans to produce oil from Canada’s tar sands for 40 years, earned 67 percent more from operations in Alberta than from projects elsewhere between 2005 and 2009.

The company earned $20 a barrel from oil-sand mining on average, more than the $12 a barrel it gained from extraction projects excluding tar sands, The Hague-based Shell said a report posted this week on its Web site. Oil sands contributed $3.1 billion to Shell’s earnings in the period.

U.S. mustn't discriminate against Canadian oil sands

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States should not discriminate against the Canadian oil sands industry, Canada's ambassador in Washington said on Thursday, warning that trade restrictions could cause the top energy supplier to U.S. markets to seek out other customers.

Canada's abundant oil sands resources have been threatened in the U.S. market with proposed climate change policies that would place additional costs on fuels that emit higher levels of carbon dioxide.

Major Enbridge Canada-U.S. oil line empty Wednesday

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc's 190,000 barrel per day crude Line 65 from Canada to the United States carried no oil Wednesday, a company hotline said Thursday.

EDF Climbs on Prospects for French Power Market Law

(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, rose to a one-month high in Paris trading after a deputy said a long-planned electricity law would go before parliament earlier than expected.

Ed Marshall: Let's support Sen. Graham's position on energy

For several years I’ve been involved in the development of alternative energy and related projects. My efforts and interest are in response to the fact that nearly 60 percent of our petroleum is imported from the people and places that are hostile to our national interest. The debate about energy is inextricably linked to our national security.

Knowing the stakes, I write this column in support of Sen. Graham’s legislative efforts and his desire to address our energy dependence and the threat to our economy. As the economy hemorrhages, he understands the negative impact on our national security and active military, which is stretched thin and clearly stressed out.

Smart Energy’s Lang Is Betting Against Hedge Funds

(Bloomberg) -- The top-ranked investor in renewable energy last year is betting hedge funds are wrong.

Thiemo Lang, manager of the 500 million euro ($681 million) SAM Smart Energy Fund, is buying stocks that most investors are selling, such as Chinese solar-panel manufacturers. He’s aiming to repeat the 83 percent gain in 2009 that placed him first on Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s ranking of clean-energy funds released today.

Loans for energy efficiency: Desjardins

Desjardins Group, Canada's largest credit union co-operative, said it will offer a new type of loan that gives payback holidays of up to six months to businesses that want to do energy-efficiency projects.

Sindicatum Carbon Capital Looks to Raise $100 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Sindicatum Carbon Capital Ltd., the developer of clean-energy projects that’s partly owned by Citigroup Inc. and Cargill Inc., may raise about $100 million in equity to boost investments, the chief executive officer said.

The money is needed because the London-based firm has about $100 million left after investing about $200 million in Asia and the U.S., Assaad Razzouk said in an interview from Singapore. Asia may account for 75 percent of new spending, largely in energy efficiency and waste-to-gas projects, the CEO said.

Financial Woes Crimp Celebrated Middle East 'Green City'

A money crunch has forced the scaling back of a futuristic, sustainable research park being built in the United Arab Emirates, , according to project officials.

RBS Cuts Loans to Clean Energy, Snubbing Brown’s Goal

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, historically the biggest commercial lender for renewable energy projects, has scaled back loans to the industry since the U.K. government bailed out the company in 2008.

The Edinburgh-based institution that received the world’s most expensive bank bailout was lead arranger on six loans worth $499 million in 2009, tumbling out of the top 10 lenders. In each of the three previous years, it extended at least $2 billion, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study.

Wind farm plans stir up storm over military radar

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military is growing increasingly concerned that proposed wind farms can disrupt or block radar designed to detect threats and protect America's skies, a problem that is stalling the alternative energy projects around the country.

A top U.S. general told Congress on Thursday that federal agencies need to work better together on a formal vetting process for the wind projects to prevent them from being built where they will interfere with radar defenses.

Wind, Solar Energy IPOs May Rise This Year, Morgan Stanley Says

(Bloomberg) -- Renewable energy companies may tap financial markets for more funds this year instead of looking to mergers with utilities as a way of funding expansion, said Morgan Stanley, manager of the most initial public offerings for the industry in 2009.

“The big utilities have significant capital spending plans so it’s unlikely they’ll be big contributors to M&A activity,” Chris Thiele, head of European power and utilities investment banking at Morgan Stanley, said in an interview. “Equity and debt capital markets could be busier areas.”

Hydrogen ferry trial considered for Bristol Harbour

A plan to use a hydrogen-powered ferry in Bristol Harbour is being considered by the city council.

The authority is inviting companies to design and develop a hydrogen-fuelled boat, in partnership with a local ferry operator.

It wants to "kick-start a hydrogen economy in Bristol" and attract new environmentally-friendly innovators.

Concentrating Photovoltaic Project Under Way at California College

The nation’s first big concentrating photovoltaic power plant is under construction in the California desert.

SolFocus, a Silicon Valley startup, is building the one-megawatt solar farm for Victor Valley College in Victorville, a desert community northeast of Los Angeles.

The company builds large solar panels that contain small mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto tiny, high-efficiency solar cells. Though more expensive than conventional solar cells, they use a fraction of the silicon and produce more electricity. That means less land is needed for a SolFocus power plant than one deploying conventional photovoltaic panels.

Aluminum Maker Eyes Solar Industry

Alcoa, the aluminum giant, is testing a new type of solar technology that the company said it believed will lower the cost of renewable energy.

The company has replaced the glass in parabolic troughs with reflective aluminum and integrated the mirror into a single structure.

Safety Issues Linger as Nuclear Reactors Shrink in Size

MOSCOW — When the Soviet Union introduced its Alfa class submarine — at the time, the world’s fastest — the subs were the bane of American sailors. Now, the reactors that powered those submarines are being marketed as the next innovation in green power.

Environmentalists say the technology is outdated and potentially dangerous, and marketing it as green energy is an abuse of nuclear power’s good green name.

Uranium Price May Gain on China Demand, Energy Resources Says

(Bloomberg) -- Energy Resources of Australia Ltd., the uranium producer controlled by Rio Tinto Group, said the global financial crisis created a slump in new mine development that may lead to improved prices for the nuclear fuel.

“The supply-demand fundamentals point to the likelihood of stronger prices in the longer term,” Energy Resources said today in a statement. “Despite the challenging economic climate, global demand for uranium is still expected to grow significantly in the next decade.”

Kansai to shut reactor manually later on Friday

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kansai Electric Power Co, Japan's second-largest utility, said on Friday it would manually shut down the 500-megawatt No.2 reactor at its Mihama nuclear plant in western Japan later in the day due to a water leak.

ClimateWorks skids on the bad oil

Despite ClimateWorks' admission that Australia's road transport sector produces four times more carbon emissions per person than the world per capita average, the measures it suggests for reducing fossil fuel dependence are lame beyond belief.

In the same breath ClimateWorks recommends mandatory fuel efficiency standards of 140g of CO2 per km by 2020, it reveals this standard was introduced in Europe in 2008 and will continue to be adjusted downwards there over the next two years.

Peak Oil In Four Years? Mobility And Economic Vulnerabilities

Cities, households and the economy will be impacted, as will industries. Some industries will be hurt (agriculture, retail, petrochemicals) and some sectors could be positively impacted (smart growth planners, alternative transportation providers, "smart city" technology providers, alternative fuel producers, mixed-use and infill developers)

Whether it's bonafide peaking of global oil supplies, or a short- to medium-term "oil crunch," the initial result will be the same. Rapidly rising gas prices and price instability should become evident by 2013, or even earlier if there are any supply shocks because of natural disasters (hurricanes in Gulf), political events, war and terrorists acts.

Britain’s energy future – political and technical considerations

A huge advantage of the proposed solution is that it is the most affordable and sustainable one for addressing peak oil and energy security. The near elimination of fossil fuel emissions is a bonus. Therefore, it should appeal in equal measure to those who are convinced of anthropogenic global warming and those who remain sceptical.

Through a mirror, greyly: A new report on Kootenay/Boundary punctures a few myths

Penfold adds to the mix the imminent arrival of Peak Oil and how it, coupled with trends in global warming, will play out in a remote region like ours. “An ageing population, climate change and peak oil are all happening at once, and all could have a significant and interconnected affect on our economic future as a region, as a province and as a country. In broader terms, the challenge is how do we adapt to all three?"

First, the report claims, we need more bodies. "If we are to be successful, we will have to attract immigrants. Although we have attracted immigrants in the past, current rates of immigration mobility to the WKB are far below retiree replacement levels, and all other regions of Canada will be facing the same challenge. We will have to address the reality that the appeal of our rural, small urban centre “outdoor” lifestyle has not been a significant attractor for immigrants, especially those from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”

Metro Vancouver must lead on peak oil, Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini says

Port Moody’s outspoken mayor believes the Metro Vancouver committee he chairs should be leading the way in preparing the region for peak oil.

“When it comes to Metro Vancouver’s environment and energy committee, I don’t want us to be a follower; I would like us to be a leader,” Joe Trasolini told the Straight by phone.

Bryan Cranston, other celebs struggle to build green homes

More Hollywood celebrities are embracing green homes. The latest is AMC's Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston who's building a beach house in Ventura County, Calif.

"It's going to receive a platinum level green certification," Emmy award-winning Cranston, who played the dad in the TV comedy Malcolm in the Middle, tells Mother Nature Network. "The cooling is from Mother Nature and the heat is from radiant heating on the floor."

Montana oil leases suspended

BILLINGS – A federal judge has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oil field activities contribute to climate change.

At issue are the greenhouse gases emitted by drilling machinery and industry practices such as venting natural gas directly into the atmosphere.

Drive started to suspend state's greenhouse gas law

A backlash against efforts in California and Congress to rein in greenhouse gas emissions is brewing in hard economic times.

A coalition of businesses, including two Bay Area oil refiners and an anti-tax group, has begun a signature drive for a November ballot initiative that would suspend California's pioneering law to combat global warming until the jobless rate drops back to 2006 levels.

Whitman contradicts eBay on global warming law

When it comes to California's landmark global warming law, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is now at odds with the environmentally conscious company she helped run for nearly a decade.

EBay has been a prominent business supporter of the carbon-reduction law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as international efforts to curb greenhouse gases. The online auction house says California should "seize this precious opportunity" to enact the 2006 state law, while Whitman, the company's former CEO, wants the "dangerous job-killer" regulations suspended for a year.

CSUS dean, professor take heat for global warming study

Sacramento State's business school dean came under attack again Thursday over the validity of his research on two politically charged issues: California's global warming law and the regulatory burdens imposed on the state's businesses.

Hungary Says Big Trader Bought Used Credits, Rattles CO2 Market

(Bloomberg) -- One of “the biggest trading houses” in Europe bought used UN credits from Hungary before they re-entered the bloc’s emissions market, Hungarian Energy Power Kft said, raising new concerns about carbon trading.

'Revolution' required to tackle climate change, IEA says

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and a host of global companies called this month for a 'revolution' to create a low carbon-economy.

The Paris-based intergovernmental body and the chief technology officers of 30 major companies issued a joint statement urging greater action to limit global temperature increases.

Urban CO2 Domes Increase Deaths, Poke Hole in Cap-and-Trade Proposal

ScienceDaily — Everyone knows that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, is a global problem. Now a Stanford study has shown it is also a local problem, hurting city dwellers' health much more than rural residents', because of the carbon dioxide "domes" that develop over urban areas.

That finding, said researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, exposes a serious oversight in current cap-and-trade proposals for reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, which make no distinction based on a pollutant's point of origin. The finding also provides the first scientific basis for controlling local carbon dioxide emissions based on their local health impacts.

New NOAA Web site tracks Arctic sea ice loss

A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site provides satellite measurements of Arctic sea ice loss and examines Arctic science and policy issues, according to NOAA.

The Arctic Future site, launched March 16, is designed to inform businesses, communities and governments about how changes in the Arctic region can also influence weather in the mid-latitudes where a large part of the global human population lives, according to NOAA.

There has been some discussion about how city people can get started in farming on the TOD lately. Usually it involves the problem of getting a piece of land. It turns out that some land is available for free if you have the right location.

The right location is next to an abandoned lot in a bad urban neighborhood in a cities like West Oakland or Detroit. You can buy a house cheap and squat on adjacent land if you need more space for your urban farm.

All that is likely to happen is that the owner will kick you off. If he doesn’t you may have a case of adverse possession and may end up owning the land.

Looks like this lady is on her way to owning an urban farm, unless she quits or the police come around to shut her down. She has lots of guts and that is what farming requires:


(SF) Hayes Valley: A Former Freeway Turns into a Farm

A friend just told me about getting the landlord of an empty lot together with a farmer who sells at a local farmers' market. The farmer is now renting the lot to farm produce. This greatly reduces the distance he has to ship his produce to market.

I think innovations like this are going to become more wide spread. Of course, municipal policies can either hinder or encourage them.

Here's the scoop in Detroit. You can generally buy contiguous lots to either side of your home if owned by the city. Other lots may be leased for a period of one year. Both of these processes take some time, of course.

The city generally won't sell you land to farm on. They seem to be considering selling a lot of land very cheaply with tax breaks, to boot, to this guy


though they will not do this for an average citizen or even 501(c)(3) groups.


I don't know bout other locations throughout the country, but in L.A ., there aren't very many empty lots.

I guess we'll just have to knock down some empty houses.

A friend of mine, Liz McClellan, started up a web yard-sharing community called Hyperlocavore.

"...the new social network "hyperlocavore," which blends bottom-up collaboration with food production. It's an example of peer-to-peer agriculture, and it's a pretty neat concept. Hyperlocavore just started, so you may not find yardsharing pals in your neighborhood -- so be the first. The founder of hyperlocavore wrote to me, saying that she thought this was a pretty "worldchanging" idea. I agree. Check 'em out." -Jamais Cascio of worldchanging.


They're in some financial need to keep the site going, if this is something that you're into, give it a look.

David Brooks: The Broken Society

The free-market revolution didn’t create the pluralistic decentralized economy. It created a centralized financial monoculture, which requires a gigantic government to audit its activities. The effort to liberate individuals from repressive social constraints didn’t produce a flowering of freedom; it weakened families, increased out-of-wedlock births and turned neighbors into strangers.

Economically, [Phillip Blond] lays out three big areas of reform: remoralize the market, relocalize the economy and recapitalize the poor. This would mean passing zoning legislation to give small shopkeepers a shot against the retail giants, reducing barriers to entry for new businesses, revitalizing local banks, encouraging employee share ownership, setting up local capital funds so community associations could invest in local enterprises, rewarding savings, cutting regulations that socialize risk and privatize profit, and reducing the subsidies that flow from big government and big business.

You might not always agree with everything that David Brooks writes (nor do I), but this OpEd is particularly interesting, and maybe a little bit of a shift for him. It is worth reading the entire piece. I do very much agree with him that big centralized government and big centralized business are big problems, and having the two of them in bed together is worst of all.

Really enjoyed Brooks' article. Thanks.

You might not always agree with everything that David Brooks writes ...

We all have different minds and wills so no two people will agree on exactly the same things. That's what makes thinking possible and this blog such a delight to read.

At the crux of "The Broken Society", Brooks is pointing to a glaring discrepancy often overlooked by social commentators: blindness to the irony within the promised utopia of the great liberal (classical and reformed) dream. The more people, groups, and markets are freed to pursue self-indulgence, the less maneuverability they ultimately have.

License is not freedom, never was, never will be.

Fences make good neighbours. This old adage is still valid. Restraint often helps to make life livable and fun.

David Brooks ? This reads like it might have come from DeLong ... definitely a shift.

Thanks, WNC. I don't always agree with Brooks either but he comes across as a thoughtful and sincere person. I think he pretty well nails our current socio-economic malaise. I am interested in reading more of Phillip Blond's ideas. It is pretty hard to argue with the idea that we should "remoralize the market, relocalize the economy and recapitalize the poor."

If you ask someone to name ways in which American society has progressed in the last two or three decades, you will hear mostly about technological advances -- faster computers, new ways of communicating, cheaper consumer goods, etc. Progress on the social front has been harder to quantify. There have been some gains, certainly -- greater opportunities for women and minorities, greater acceptance of gays and lesbians -- but these social gains have been overshadowed by financial and social stresses on middle-class families. If I find any reason to be optimistic about our predicament, it is that there is widespread feeling that what we are doing is not working for us.

An interesting thought: Would we ever have questioned our preoccupation with materialism had we not hit the wall economically?

As I said on another related post by JMG, we've outsourced socialism. We've managed to combine the worst of so called free market capitalism with government, so we are mainly engaged in spending billions of dollars to perform government functions by private enterprises. If private companies believe in private free market enterprise, let them survive in the market not with government hand outs influenced by lobbyists and corrupt politicians.

Both government and private industry have their place and are good at different things related to our well being. Our overmixing of the two has created the military industrial complex and has made social welfare secondary to feeding the crony capitalist machines.

Centralized government is not bad with respect to everything, but it is inappropriate and destructive for certain things. All government is not bad. Nor is all private enterprise bad.

Localization is good for a number of reasons including allowing people to fill their needs by shopping locally which reduces their carbon footprint required to shop by traveling long distances to the big box store. But without government intervention, local stores won't be able to compete with the Wal Marts of the world. Arcata, California bans big box stores in favor of local business. While that may be considered a violation of unrestrained free enterprise, it helps the enterprise of local business and results in more owner run businesses as opposed to wage slave run businesses.

Perhaps Wal Marts could be given a role as an aggregator of products for wholesale for localized businesses. As it is, the Wal Marts of the world just destroy local businesses and local communities.

A major benefit of going as local as possible would be to make us less auto centric. Most people don't agree probably because they are themselves auto dependent auto philiacs.

Localization of businesses, however, will require that people pay higher prices. I get it that it is very hard to resist paying the lower price especially when everyone around you is doing the same. Throw in the fact that you may be struggling economically and it is too much to expect people to voluntarily supporting local small business. Until the ground rules are changed, nothing will change.

Another area that needs to be looked at is the lack of taxation on mosdt goods bought through the internet. That is so unfair to communities and local businesses. Again, this will not be changed through voluntary action.

Color me unimpressed.

Matt Taibbi has written everything that needs to be known about David Brooks.

I have said it before and will keep saying it. Some people here just can't quite let go of the mainstream commentators who have been wrong about everything, since, well, just about the first time they started writing.

It's a strange and pathetic sickness - trying to hang on desperately to a dying paradigm. Like the guy who just can't fathom trading his pickup for a prius, or the guy who gets all his bills through the mail and refuses to pay them online. Or the guy (Brooks) who thinks the American empire will last forever, and that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, with no consequences whatsoever. Or the guy who keeps reading the opinion pages of the NYT, thinking that it keeps him informed about the world.


David Brooks is a sorry excuse for a human being, if he can be considered a human at all. And no, I will never back down nor apologize for saying that.

Brooks was hired by the NYT to be the house knee-jerk conservative, to replace Safire. Actually, they have two now - some cat named Douthat. Both of them strike me as intellectually extremely lightweight and very predictable.

They wait for their talking points from the daily right-wing mailing list, and then dutifully write their columns.

or the guy who gets all his bills through the mail and refuses to pay them online.


Should those of us who pay our bills through the mail go kill ourselves?

I had no idea it put in us in the same camp as David Brooks.

I only pay bills online if they allow credit cards, or if I can "push" the money from my account. I do not allow anyone to "pull" money from account. If they want that, I pay by mail.

If you do that in the UK you can end up paying a considerable financial penalty. For example Here's Virgin Cable's policy.


When you order online, you'll set up a Direct Debit with us. It's the easiest way to pay - and the cheapest, too. And you'll save £5 on payment handling fees if you pay by direct debit. But there are other ways to pay, including by credit or debit card, cheque and by PayPoint at your local post office or bank, and you can choose these if set up your services by phone. Remember that, if you pay by any other method other than Direct Debit, Virgin Media Payments will charge a monthly £5 charge for the payment handling services it provides to you.

So that's an about an extra $8 per month if you don't give them direct access to take money from your bank account. If you have financial problems and do not have a bank account which will accept direct debits the you have no choice but to pay the "poor tax" if you want even just their basic service.

Virgin Media claim that this reflects their cost of processing the transaction - they charge you the £5 even if you pay at their shops in cash or online by credit/debit card claiming that's what it costs them. Clearly this is a complete lie but it seems to be legal and many companies do this now.

And do they reimburse you if they "accidentally" quadruple-bill you, and you get whacked with $200 worth of overlimit fees when your other checks bounce?

Sounds to me like Virgin Media is one company I would *never* choose to do business with. Why don't they ask for your first-born and right kidney while they're at it too?

David Brooks is a sorry excuse for a human being, if he can be considered a human at all. And no, I will never back down nor apologize for saying that.

That is very fascistic - and exactly how Adolf Hitler justified his policies. You may disagree with the guy, but to "de-humanise" him because of that is ... well ... simply unpardonable, and you should withdraw the comment. You are not that correct in your views.

Actually, though that statement may be criticized on moral grounds (as you did), calling it "fascistic" is inaccurate. It did not express a desire for central government dominion over the means of production, so cannot reasonably be characterized that way.

CNBC: Who's Hurt -- and Who's Not -- By $3 Gas

"Psychologically, it's going to be horrendous," Kilduff said. He added that he thinks creeping gasoline prices, which have already pushed prices above $3 in some communities, are already eroding consumer confidence.

However, Jason Schenker, president and chief economist at Prestige Economics, disagrees. He expects that while $3 a gallon gas may change the behavior of lower-income consumers, it won't impact others unless prices climb above the $4-mark.

The good news is, Schenker doesn't expect that to happen. Rather, he suspects economic forces aren't there to support $4 a gallon gasoline.

Personally, I think he's nuts. $3 gas is already hurting the economy; in the Dallas area there is a noticeable (to me, at least) diminution in commuter traffic. I do not drive every day, so gradual changes that may not be apparent to some are more apparent to me. I have looked and cannot find any reliable sources for confirmation by way of 'official' data reports other than one from 2004, so this would be considered anecdotal I am sure. Still, if anyone knows of a source that has 2010 data, I could try for a confirmation.


My sister has said the same thing. She has lived in the Dallas area for over thirty years. She tells me that there has been a noticeable drop-off in traffic.

This should be very trackable. Most metro areas have cameras and traffic times - this data should be somewhere and able to be crunched.

Check with either the city or the state DOT. Somebody is responsible for traffic counts (in OH on an annual basis). Somebody should have data at least for the major arteries.

$3 gas is already hurting the economy; in the Dallas area there is a noticeable (to me, at least) diminution in commuter traffic.

No noticable change in traffic congestion in my commute in the Los Angeles county area. The only factual statistic I have is for public transportation ridership and it shows , counter intuitively for me, _less_ ridership for busses, but slighly increaded light rail ridership, for 2010 than 2009.


I was excited to see the new NOAA site on Arctic ice extent and thickness (last article in string above)


But perusing it, I was a bit disappointed that they don't give much historical info up front about changes in ice thickness. There has been a dramatic decrease in average ice thickness over the last few years, and this, combined with the recent record low ice coverage, suggests to many that the Arctic Ocean may be ice free (or nearly so) in late summer far earlier than the thirty-time frame they discuss.

One reason for the lack of mention of the thickness of sea-ice could be the problems associated with measurement. It's difficult enough to detect trends in the extent over time, since the instruments used are space borne passive microwave sensors. The accurate data for extent has only been collected since the late 1970's, thus little is known about the years before that time.

I noticed one article from the link available online which appears to provide a good overview of present knowledge, as well as many background references which one might look to for further insight. The problem isn't a simple one, as the latest data on extent shows clearly. The maximum extent usually occurs about this time of year, yet the data shows what appears to be a continuing increase. Very curious to me...

E. Swanson

The max ice extent can occur over about a 45 day period in March or April. The link below show by year for the last few years. Looking at individual years, not averages will show the variability.


The maximum extent usually occurs about this time of year, yet the data shows what appears to be a continuing increase. Very curious to me...

Perhaps the arctic oscillation has changed signs. It was blamed for transferring cold from the arctic to the mid lattitudes this winter. Now (at least in the US) the midlattitudes are enjoying a warm spell. It is also likeley that since ice cover is below normal, that any sort of reversion to mean (or mean trend) would delay the time of max.

Trend in Winter Multi-year and First-year Sea-ice Fractions, 2004-2008

The multi-year/first-year ice crossover event happened in 2006-2007. The rest is doom.

This web site leaves out last summer, with partial recovery. Tricks like this are deceptive.

Here's the trend in sea ice, including February 2010:

The average ice extent for February 2010 was the fourth lowest February extent since the beginning of the modern satellite record. It was 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) higher than the record low for February, observed in 2005. The linear rate of decline for February is now 2.9% per decade.

NSIDC Arctic News and Analysis

And today, the ice is within the normal range. The north pole is going to be ice free is mostly AGW hype.


Several corrections you need to consider.

1. There is a continuous downward trend, shown in Barrett808's post.
2. The downward trend is cyclical - it is established through a pattern of variations, upward and downward.
3. The extent of ice is only part of the pattern. The thickness is the more serious, and you do not address it at all.
4. We are nearing the end of unusually long solar minimum. We should be seeing dramatic cooling, and dramatic increases in both extent and depth of sea ice.
5. Even with none of the above, the line your image shows as 2009/2010 is in the middle, not at the top, of the 'extremes.' The top bar is the 'normal range' and you are not in it ... at least not yet.
6. When we are near the end of the next solar maximum, write again and show me that the sea ice is near the normal range. If it is, then you have something to shout about. We all do!

All the best wishes for a nice icy pole.


All the replies ignore the first point i made. Leaving out the last year data is DECEPTIVE. If you want to persuade the masses, stop being obviously DECEPTIVE. It makes you look like american politicians.

I looked at the page and also at the rest of the site. The "news" section has stories only as recent as 2005. What's the date on that page about sea-ice? No telling, as there's no information on the date of the most recent update. If the page was written before October 2009, the 2009 minimum data might not have been available. Of course, if the page was written after the data for 2009 became available, your point would not be out of line...

E. Swanson

It is still deceptive not to update the graph. I looked again at the web site, it does not clearly indicated dated information.

Here is the main point, people seem to be ignoring.

If you want to persuade the masses, you cannot appear deceptive. IF you do appear deceptive (by you, i mean pro-AGW community), people will reject the entire theory.

So if the pro-AGW crowd can't second guess all anti-AGW doubts, in advance, climate science is invalidated. And they may as well give up, right?

Have you applied your "appeared to be deceptive" test to the denialist camp? For example, during the run up to the 2008 US election, the denialist repeatedly made the claim that there had been no warming over the previous 10 years. In so doing, they were starting their time series with 1998, which was an exceptionally warm year in the record books. Thus, while they may have been factually correct, their selection of that brief period gave the incorrect impression to those (you perhaps?) who don't understand the data or techniques used for analysis.

There are numerous other examples of lack of truth from the denialist camp. It's all part of their plan to spread disinformation to create FUD and they are very good at it...

E. Swanson

blindoBC, you are the only one appearing to be deceptive here. Looking at any kind of longer time frame, it is clear that there is a powerful trend to reduced ice extent at every time of year.

It is typical denialist trash tactics to:

Cherry pick data--short-term fluctuations do not represent long-term trends

Accuse their opponents of behavior they themselves are far more guilty of, as you just did here.

Here is a nice, long-term graph for ice coverage anomaly.


Read it and weep.

Oh, I forgot, no amount of contrary evidence ever sways denialists. When the Arctic is ice free, except perhaps for a few areas close to land, denialists will still be pointing to the few square kilometers and saying "this ice free Arctic stuff is just AGW propaganda" or some such claptrap.

I don't know Dohboi, I've seen bandied a round a lot of talk from folks that study multi-decadal ocean patterns who seem to think a possible multiyear recovery is in process. Maybe thincknesses have gone down but the ice extent recovered in 2008 then more in 2009 so who knows if 2010 will bring about a 3rd recovery year. Lets all hope it does recover.

I can't remember where I found it but I read a recent article in one of the science journals that had a new method of looking at past historic ice extent from some deposit or similar and concluded previosly very low ice extents - i'll have a dig around today.


These clam studies have very limited sample size and geographical area.

The decline in sea-ice is not monotonic, that is to say, there is year-to-year variation in the minimum. When you say, "the ice extent recovered in 2008 then more in 2009", you apparently are missing that point. One year's measurement does not define a trend. And, you failed to say whether you are referring to Arctic sea-ice, which has exhibited the most obvious downward trend, or to the sum of Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice. Here's a link.

E. Swanson

Sorry Eric I wasn't very clear. Arctic. You are right it doesn't define a trend - thats what all the speculation about the multi-decadal ocean patterns are about - deciding where the next trend change might happen - SOI, NAO, PDO etc...You have to remember: a navigable artic has been hinted at in history a few times.

That's a pretty broad claim to throw up against global warming without clarification. When in history has there been navigation of artic waters without historians to record it in detail? The only possibility I can think of is the norse, but I never heard they got much north of south Greenland ...

And trips have also been recorded. In summer of 40, German Merchant Raider went from Norway to Pacific via waters north of Siberia.

That ship transit used the NORTHEAST passage, not the NORTHWEST. Please do learn some geography...

E. Swanson

Dear Mr Swanson

Please stop insulting me. Also, please read what i am reply to. The person asked about "navigation of artic waters". Last time i checked, the NE passage was in the Arctic basin.

I'd say that your complaint is with Marco because of his apparent sloppy specification of a geographic location. if you want to nitpick, the Nordic Seas are also included in "the Arctic basin", aka, "the Arctic Mediterranean". I was just trying to correct some of the confusion...

E. Swanson

Marco, like so many others, is hung up on the least important aspect, extent. Mass is the critical element because that tells us how thin the ice is getting is more reliably tells us how likely it is that the ice will melt in the summer.

The winter extent is virtually always in a closer range than the summer, and when we look at the graphics, it is still two orders of magnitude (the blue area) below the longer trend. This is nothing to crow about.

What Marco is either ignoring or unaware of is that despite the "recovery" in *winter* ice extent, the total ice mass has continued to drop.


Celebrating this is like being happy you found some tape to patch the hole in the bottom of your boat 1/4 of the way across the Pacific.


like so many others, is hung up on the least important aspect, extent

No, I understand the importance of thickness aswell. But if a turning point exists then it stands to reason the thickness would recover aswell.

Two order of Magnitude is 99%. Is that what you ment to say?

Also, leaving out the current year data is DECEPTIVE and INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST.

The winter extent is virtually always in a closer range than the summer, and when we look at the graphics, it is still two orders of magnitude (the blue area) below the longer trend. This is nothing to crow about.

I believe he meant two standard deviations, but Leanan should probably shut this thread down as well, since it will go nowhere.

I have notice many pro-AGW people complain about declining support in and belief in AGW. This type of crap propoganda is a large part of the reason why.

First, if you are going to show the ice data, you need to include the most recent data. The lack of the summer of 2009 makes the author look like he is hiding the truth. When someone goes and looks up the 2009 summer and sees it is a bit higher than 2008, it will confirm the author is dishonest. Good lawyers know that hiding bad information, that later comes out in cross examination harms a case. Most lawyers will ask about the bad information, so the client does not look like they are hiding stuff.

Second, the link shows 2035 ice free. Now think about what is being said. Yes, an ice free summer in 2035 would confirm the model, but lack of ice free summer in 2035 will invalidate the model, and by extention the whole AGW theory. But is gets worse, by the way most people work, they will not wait to 2035 to judge the case, they will look at it from time to time. They will remember that AGW means ice free arctic. If the next time they check the data, if the summer extent is higher than 2007 or 2008, they will invalidate the premise.

Thirds, the poster saying faster than 2035, is just aggravation point two.

Fourth, older people will remember that we had similar weather in the late 70's. Back then, a coming iceage was predicted. This also hurts AGW case.

Fifth, the are cycles like the PDO, El Nino, etc. These are probably the cause of this winter being colder than a few years ago. Regardless of the truth of falseness of global warming, global warming did not cause more snow this year than last. Blaming the dip of cold air this winter on AGW is clearly false. This combined with the leaving out of the 2009 ice data makes the author of the web site seem even more dishonest.

Six, AGW look like joke when they claim both cold winters like this winter (at the link) and earth will be warmer (general AGW information) at same time. The AGW crowded needs to pick a consistent prediction, and stick to it. By switching back and forth like a dishonest congressman does, one destroys all credibility of the AGW to the masses. And yes, i know that many scientist look down on the masses, but unless the masses are persuaded, then there will never be any concrete action to mitigate, and all the AGW research will be as useless as debating the number of angels that can dance on a head a pin.

Seventh, if the Global warming models really predicted the cold air this winter, why was this information not in the long range forecast last year??

Frankly, this web site linked does not even pass the smell test.

A few add ons.

First of all, this site concentrates on peak oil, or at least on oil issues. I have long maintained that AGW is a surrogate for PO at the highest level. Because the reality of peak oil would scare the crap out of Joe 6-Pack, the suits are trying to move us out of fossil fuels and into sustainability by using AGW... which is arguably less frightening to the general public. Since both involve the same 'cure', I have no objection to this.

Next, when the prospect of PO is added to the AGW mix, it seems improbable that AGW could continue past the end of fossil fuels. I mean, yes, the models seem to show an impact that will continue for a time. What I have seen also shows that the warming will be self remedying when we stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Simply stated, peak oil trumps AGW. M

eanwhile, some species may die off due to inability to adapt to swiftly changing conditions, probably twice. There is little doubt that between predation by man and unintended destruction of necessary habitat (above and beyond AGW), the total number of species will be somewhat fewer when the fossil fuel age ends. That does not mean that all life will end, and it does not mean that evolution will not continue on Planet Earth.

In sum, notwithstanding the deniers, change, she is a-coming. Like the rest of living organisms, we will either adapt and evolve, or we will die off. If AGW is propaganda, or if it is valid warning, it may serve a purpose in moving mankind to a sustainable life paradigm. If so, be happy. Information on Peak Oil does not seem to be changing anyone's habits.


I believe this strategy to be flawed. It appears tempting at first, but ignores how the average person thinks. When faced with a really painful set of decisions, they will look for easy, "magic" solutions. To the "suits", less FF consumption looks like a double win. To the masses, they want easy solutions like geo-engineering (Sulfur in troposhere, fertilizing oceans, etc.) Once geo-engineering is picture, now we can have the scientist/engineers work on the "magic" solution, and the masses can sleep well, having avoid the hard choices.

First of all, this site concentrates on peak oil, or at least on oil issues. I have long maintained that AGW is a surrogate for PO at the highest level. Because the reality of peak oil would scare the crap out of Joe 6-Pack, the suits are trying to move us out of fossil fuels and into sustainability by using AGW... which is arguably less frightening to the general public. Since both involve the same 'cure', I have no objection to this.

Good insight, I am afraid. It portends continuation of BAU until PO tips the economy into a death spiral. IMO, without making those hard choices, we will not have a soft landing by way of gradual decline, but rather sudden and dangerous failure of systems.

I still hope for 2014... I try to plan for less, but some things I need to do will take that long. Once the foundations I am working toward are set, I have hope that most of my family will have at least a good chance to make it through and be part of the new age - what we might call the "Age of Sustainability."



My knowledge in these areas is mostly seat of the pants stuff. First let me agree with you that for TPTB AGW is a pretty fair surrogate for PO.

But let me briefly state why I disagree about species die off and self limiting AGW from peak FF. I'm not sure we know where all the land mines are buried (literally) for burning up virtually all the economically viable sequestered carbon that has been laid down over the eons. The recent methane clathrate data coming out of Siberia being one such. Then there is the increased release of carbon needed to liberate all the lower quality FF such as oilsands which will likely increase.

Then there is the problem of what does an energy starved future with burgeoning population do to the forested areas of the world which currently act as a carbon sink for accelerating Co2 levels. See Haiti. The combination of all that coal and the loss of all those trees might be another tipping point and is not totally FF self limiting.

Lastly what about wildlife itself. Outside my door there are populations of wild turkeys, loons, geese, ducks, deer, river otter, beaver and quite a bit of large 'game' as well. In a nearby city and surrounding towns are thousands of folks armed to the teeth. (yeah scary huh) But this story can be replicated all around NA. If for some reason the JIT food delivery system went down another 'JIT food delivery system' would surely take over. I understand that historically species being hunted to extinction is not news around here.

So while in tune with the 'earth abides' idea somewhat, I'm a bit skeptical that humans will be unable to alter their environment to the point mostly unfit for man nor beast. Certainly not fit at this level, where exactly, perhaps lower than strictly looking at what PO would dictate. The human agent is just too efficient at eliminating mitigation while holding the gas pedal to the floor.

Next, when the prospect of PO is added to the AGW mix, it seems improbable that AGW could continue past the end of fossil fuels.

Do you not consider positive feedbacks? Consider that the things we were not supposed to see until we were at 450, 550 or even 650 ppm of CO2 are happening already, rest assured that overall climate sensitivity (adding in fast and slow feedbacks) is well over 3C/doubling. Consider we will be hitting 2C over pre-industrial no matter what we do. Consider the methane is starting to bubble up all over the damned place. Consider the Arctic Sea Ice is swiss cheese. Consider methane stands at 1.8 ppb or some such while not having been over something like 0.6 during the entire glacial/interglacial period (I think that's the time frame...)

I mean, yes, the models seem to show an impact that will continue for a time. What I have seen also shows that the warming will be self remedying when we stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Simply stated, peak oil trumps AGW.

That is only true if you consider only anthropogenic GHGs and assume we arrest the increase immediately.


This type of crap propoganda is a large part of the reason why.

Huh. Here I thought the reason was reports like

Overhead and profit-taking in the carbon offsets system eats up about 70 percent of what is spent on carbon offsets, according to a report from UK-based Carbon Retirement report. 30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations.

Answering why the programs are only 30% effective with 30% going to the likes of Goldman Sachs is something the AWGers can't answer beyond "we are saving the planet". 'Course the anti-CO2 people can't answer why the oceans acidification isn't a concern so its not like either side is without sin.

If the AWG people want *MY* support - answer why Goldman Sachs needs 30% "off the top" - pubically defend why its a good idea.


Of course, carbon offsets are not the answer to the problem... AWGers seem to want them just to get the ball rolling, and I don't know anyone who is serious about the science who really believes they work. They are trying to appease the greedy b***ards who have created the problem, by saying, "Hey, you can still make money." Of course, those same GBs have legions of laywers to muck up the soup of carbon trading, and both make money and destroy the program. AGWers should forget about finding a way for the traders to make more money, and concentrate on getting their message out and eliminating the source.

Meanwhile, I don't understand your last statement:

the anti-CO2 people can't answer why the oceans acidification isn't a concern so its not like either side is without sin.

I think I am an anti-CO2 person, and ocean acidificaiton is a concern! Am I supposed to think it isn't? Why? Or, did I not understand what you said?


AWGers seem to want them just to get the ball rolling

Getting "the ball rolling" via Goldman Sachs et all getting 30%.....its a game of blackmail and they are winning the game.

And I ment the pro-CO2ers not anti-CO2ers. Or more correctly - the people who feel CO2 in the air is not an issue.

Right. Blackmail from one side, bribery from the other, when the 'victim' participates in the scam.


Then lets play chicken. Do nothing other than point out when the ship goes down they will go with it 'cuz the "lifeboat" idea of leaving the planet is bunk.

Lets see who blinks 1st. I bet it won't be the planet.

Second, the link shows 2035 ice free. Now think about what is being said. Yes, an ice free summer in 2035 would confirm the model, but lack of ice free summer in 2035 will invalidate the model, and by extention the whole AGW theory.

Perhaps if one is scientifically illiterate, or just plain looking to lie. A possible result from running simulations is a scenario, not a prediction despite the writer mis-using the word.

Thirds, the poster saying faster than 2035, is just aggravation point two.

Uh, and if it IS essentially ice-free earlier, but nobody said anything about it now when there is possibly time to avoid it?

Fourth, older people will remember that we had similar weather in the late 70's. Back then, a coming ice age was predicted. This also hurts AGW case.

Bull poop. Don't spread lies. Go read at ANY of the debunking sites.

Fifth, the are cycles like the PDO, El Nino, etc. These are probably the cause of this winter being colder than a few years ago. Regardless of the truth of falseness of global warming, global warming did not cause more snow this year than last. Blaming the dip of cold air this winter on AGW is clearly false. This combined with the leaving out of the 2009 ice data makes the author of the web site seem even more dishonest.

What the hell are you on? Please send me some! We already know what caused the NA cold winter: negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. And, yes, the warming of the Arctic is affecting patterns.

Six, AGW look like joke when they claim both cold winters like this winter (at the link) and earth will be warmer (general AGW information) at same time. The AGW crowded needs to pick a consistent prediction, and stick to it.

You cannot possibly be that ignorant. Both are correct. They seem contradictory only if you are illiterate about climate science.

Seventh, if the Global warming models really predicted the cold air this winter

Ye gods... The models don't "predict" and sure as heck don't predict given years! What they do actually predict is that certain things, such as cold winters due to the oscillation, *will* occur, but what years or dates it will happen.

Chill out and please stop spreading silly notions.


It is amusing that calling people ignorant your basic reply.

All Scientific hypothesis must be able to be proven false. By saying your theory predicts ice free oceans, you provide a way of proving it false.

Also, if you read the orginal post, it also talks about persuading the masses. Dramatic predictions like "ICE FREE ARCTIC", can will public credibility. But ONE wrong prediction like this can destroy a cause in the minds of the public for a generation.

As to ice age predictions, i was alive in 70's and 80's. I remember the predictions in the mass media. Newsweek had cover. Is your case so weak you have to rewrite history?

And you contention that Global warming both increase and decreases winter snow is a joke.

Enough. This type of "discussion" isn't helpful. Take it somewhere else.

Yes, the following testimony is anecdotal:

I've lived in Northern New England for twenty-five years now. I've never seen winter dead-end in the middle of February, but that is what it did this year.

The maple season was over two weeks ago. The taps should have been pulled last week, but we're sort of in denial--surely the season isn't over??? But it is. The spring peepers are out.

Yesterday, the day before official spring, I spread manure. I'm usually lucky to get into the fields in late April.

Today it is approaching 70F.

It's been cold in Florida, coldest winter I can remember. Isn't it La Nina causing this?

It's been cold in Florida, coldest winter I can remember.

Coldest you can remember, no kidding. It's been the coldest winter ever in central Florida and reaching east over here to Turnbull.

It's El Nino, the opposite of La Nina

I recently listened to a discussion dealing with the impact of the apparently massive amount of aerosols being emitted by Chinese industry and the cooling impact of these emissions. Any leads on this matter?


also, probably can go to realclimate and also find article.

Here is an excellent discussion:


From the articles I have read, the jury is out on the overall impact of aerosols on the climate.

There are two types - sooty and sulpher. The sooty type increase global warming; the sulpher type reflect sunlight, causing global dimming, and perhaps some cooling.

Downside on these is, both precipitate out of the atmosphere. Sooty type continue to enhance warming. Sulpher type cause acid rain, and they drop out very quickly. Hence, it would take constant emissions to impact the climate on an ongoing basis. Meanwhile, the acid rain acidifies the oceans, which decreases their ability to act as a carbon sink, enlarging the time period for CO2 in the atmosphere, and acting as a forcing agent for warming.

One article urged the building of coal fired plants near the poles, in order to help stabilize the ice sheets. In sounded contra-intuitional to me, and it would take a serious scientific study to validate this proposition, in my mind.

To me it is more like, one more 'deus ex machina' for the deniers.


thanks for the leads, blondie and zaphod.

You might also be interested in James Hansen's recent book, Storms of My Grandchildren, which I just finished. He makes the point that aerosols may be delaying the warming from AGW, but that these emissions will probably be cleaned up by China as time passes and then the full impact of AGW will be felt. The CO2 levels in the atmosphere will remain high long after all the coal is burned and the forests are cut down.

E. Swanson

And according to studies cited at realclimate the aerosol masking may be as much as two degrees, so we could see quite a jump in global temps quite suddenly when these are scrubbed out, or when economic decline shutters many of the plants.

Link up top: A moment no one can predict: At some point, oil will start to run out. But trying to divine when is futile

Frankly, I don't know or care much about Peak Oil.

But you think you know enough to state this:

But the fight over Peak Oil is a fight over the unknowable.

I have stated before, and I will state again, we peak oilers are just not that stupid. Though we cannot know the exact month, or even the exact year, peak oil will happen, we can make a very educated guess. We do have a lot knowledge on the subject than folks like Lorne Gunter, who admits he knows very little.

We know that many nations have peaked and are in steep decline. We know that many other nations, like China, admit that they are at peak right now. We know that some nations, like the USA and Russia, though well past peak, can briefly increase production with the aid of new discoveries. And we know that nations like Russia, Saudi Arabia and many other nations are desperately trying to keep their production from collapsing by massive new drilling of MRC wells in their very tired old fields.

To insinuate that we just know nothing is absolutely false. And it really angers me that some people imply that we know absolutely nothing.

Ron P.

You are spot on about that, Ron.

It would seem that our real focus needs to be in getting the attention of the powers in D.C., beginning with the President of the United States. I have taken to forwarding items to the White House as the seem particularly apropos. For instance, today the received:

Some industries will be hurt (agriculture, retail, petrochemicals) and some sectors could be positively impacted (smart growth planners, alternative transportation providers, "smart city" technology providers, alternative fuel producers, mixed-use and infill developers)

(From the posting about peak in four years.)

This, with the suggestion that he could use this for planning any further stimulus spending... and it helps with AGW problems as well.

Whether it gets past the screeners to POTUS, I cannot know. If enough of us send materials along, at least we have done something. And, maybe it will help to wake up the sleeping giant.



Whether it gets past the screeners to POTUS, I cannot know. If enough of us send materials along, at least we have done something. And, maybe it will help to wake up the sleeping giant.

Cheney: Not sure 'cousin' Obama is up for a family reunion

I’m not sure Sen. Obama is up for it, at least not before November. He’d probably be fearful I might whisper in his ear and change his whole view of the Middle East,” Cheney added.

I am sure someone's whispered in Obama's ear by now.

On this one, I agree with you, Ron. The thing to know about Lorne Gunter is that he doesn't know very much, does want to know very much and works hard on spreading ignorance. As you might guess, he calls himself a 'conservative'. On close examination you'll find that all he wants to conserve is the current distribution of wealth, while imposing a set of unwanted values on most Canadians. Sound familiar?

Basically, we have someone in the MSM (dependent on largely consumption related advertising) telling us to "Party On Dude." The implied worst case is that we might have to power our ever expanding auto centric suburban way of life with alternative forms of energy. The "Iron Triangle" in action.

I'm sure it's far more lucrative to deny peak oil in writing, then to explain it in a book.

Huh? I don't understand what you said.

I'm sure it's a far far more lucrative thing to misunderstand than to not understand at all.

Huh? You're right. It's a confusing way of expressing one's self. A Charles Dickens he is not.

I suspect that the writer meant to say TPTB will pay well for any writer who is willing to argue against Peak Oil. On the other hand, TPTB (powers to be) will not fund someone who is writing as a proponent of Peak Oil. Hence you go it alone when you believe in PO and hence you must publish a book on your own nickel if you want to express your pro-PO ideas.

That writer is a clown. He frequently writes about Global Warming being a hoax. You may remeber two years ago he found 10 minutes of fame writing that a very cold January erased a decade of global warming.

"That writer is a clown." From a technical sense you're probably right. But in the realm of public opinion he and his ilk, easily push over well constructed arguments and complex modeling schemes.

Prepare for an oil-less future. That's smart. But stop worrying too much about when it will come. It will come when it comes. It will come when the economics of oil make it untenable as the lifeblood of our economy. At that time, one or more replacements will make economic sense that they don't make now.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a trade conference and I met a bright young man who was an engineer. The subject of energy depletion came up and he mentioned a "new technology ": magnetic energy propulsion.

"Are you talking about a perpetual motion machine?" I asked quizzically.

"I guess you could call it that." he replied.

I didn't start a debate however. All I asked is "...where did you hear about this?"

"I saw it on YouTube."

"Then you're probably right", I said cheerfully.

My point is: This young man obviously doesn't have a clue, but I wouldn't have a chance of winning him over. Should I remind him that this flies in the face of the laws of thermodynamics and "conservation of energy" and perhaps he should refer to some of his freshman college textbooks instead of accepting such ridiculous "snake oil"? While I might feel the adrenal rush of the certitude of my arguments this young man would simply tune me out, and then I would have missed out on a very pleasant afternoon with a very agreeable young man.

The only thing people who understand the specter of energy depletion can do is start making quiet preparations for what we know is coming.


Joe -- As someone on TOD mentioned a while back: Our biggest problem isn't overpopulation. It's underpopulation of smart people.

Rockman, it is worse than that. It has become politically incorrect to 'act smart.' We hear brainiacs like Sarah Palin saying that we don't want a 'professor at the podium' running things, which is shorthand for saying we don't want a smart person in charge. What we want, she says (and her base seems to agree) is some dumb-sh*t bimbo, or a wealthy 'average-Joe' (maybe a plumber wannabe) in charge. Obviously, they can gleen, maybe by reading tea leaves, the 'right way' to do things.

If some AK wildcatter should drill for brains on Sarah's skull, would he end up with a dry hole, or just gas?


I dunno. It could be argued that it was "smart people" who got us into this mess.

I think Rockman's point was that the people who got us into this mess were not really very smart.

A further problem: the "people" expect that the 'smart people' in charge will get us out of this mess. And they expect it will not take very long. The said 'smart people' then do things for the short term, so that they will stay in charge, and the long term looks darker and darker.


the people who got us into this mess

There are all different kinds of smarts.
I've never met a person who is all around smart.
Some are smart in appearing to be leaders.
Some are smart in knowing how to blame others.
Some are smart in matters of financial accounting or finagling (Bernie Madoff)
Some are smart in matters of salesmanship (Steve Jobs)
Some are smart in matters of the heart (Dear Abby)
Some are smart in matters of cinematic entertainment (James Cameron)

As for "the people who got us into this mess", we all need to look in the mirror. There ain't anybody else in this hen house but us chickens.

Leanan -- I suppose it's a question of application. My wife is a brillent accountant. But she understands nothing about geophysics or hunting. Needless to say I don't let her pick my drill sites or sit in a blind with me. Maybe the problerm all along has been smart folks being elevated to positions of power and then asked to address problems they can't understand. My owner is probably one of the most well rounded smart guys I've ever known. But occasionally I have to tell him he's flat wrong about something. I find it's not easy for many smart people to accept they aren't smart about everything. Usually they are ignorant of the facts more then lacking a cognitive ability to understand an issue.

the problerm all along has been smart folks being elevated to positions of power and then asked to address problems they can't understand.

Exactly! The end of 2008, my view was that no one had the foggiest idea what to do. They were all guessing! Still are, as far as I can see.

Are there problems that no one understands well enough to address them? Worse, problems that cannot be addressed?

IMO, Peak Oil may be one of those. The smart people in charge may understand PO, but just have no idea how to address it. I don't think it was one of the unaddressable problems, though it may have become such.


"The smart people in charge may understand PO,"

Leaving aside several issues such as what constitutes smartness, what type of smarts people in charge have, what they are actually in charge of and to what degree, I believe that among the empowered elites there are more than a few who are aware of peak oil. I think this group breaks down mainly into two groups: those who believe the best response is to allow 'market forces' to sort out the issues, and a group who favour market redesign and other government led/supported intervention, but who believe such efforts are futile until the price signal has informed a sufficiently large constituency of support for such measures.

You're on a roll, toilforoil! Don't stop now. Please continue... I like where you are going. Let's explore this.

And, I agree with what was said so far. Now I would ask whether there is any other group available, one that does not rely on the bullying dead hand of Adam Smith, or 'price signals' to bribe the populace into acting in their own best interests.


Sorry, I've got to get back to the renovation work I'm doing. But as for other groups, and I wouldn't use the word 'bribe', because what the price signal does is inform, I would point to spiritual/religious groups, among which I would include modern day pagans such as myself, who attempt to use moral persuasion.

Just as a side note, I have the impression that you have a vulgar idea of Smith's philosophy. Smith was primarily a moral philosopher, who, in my view, would be very unhappy to see how snippets of his writings are abused today by apologists for material privilege. He was a conservative man, but not one enamoured with the misuse of political power to benefit a small (mostly landowning then) elite. For him market forces offered welcome relief from elitist manipulation of the economy. After reading the whole of his work, I can only conclude that today he would be railing against the current structure of many markets, though I would still expect him to defend the principle that markets are often the best means to allocate resources. I think he would understand that markets are socially constructed.

I was using the 'dead hand' in its popular sense, or vulgar if you will. I know his work, and like you feel he would be insulted by what people say in his name!


For him [Adam Smith.] market forces offered welcome relief from elitist manipulation of the economy.

Adam Smith was more a proponent of "specialization" than of "markets".

He didn't invent the concept of Wealth from Tunnel Visions. Instead he became a keen observer of how the needle maker could become specialized and thus excel in his craft, while the candle maker excels in his; etc. and thus, as a society we all become wealthier.

What Adam Smith did not foresee is that the financial crooks (Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, etc.) would become more specialized and better crafted in their fields of endeavor as well. These are some of the little things that slipped between the cracks in Smith's understanding and vision of the system.

Of course, Adam Smith also didn't foresee Peak Oil flying towards the proverbial electric fan. Just another, oops I didn't see that one coming as Alan Greenspan might say.

one that does not rely on the bullying dead hand of Adam Smith

Keep in mind the comment by Mr. Smith about a hand was about international trade.

The same group of ignorant SOBs who claim there is a market with hands also think there is a Nobel prize in economics.

I'm going to go out on a limb (somewhat) and say that for quite some time now, Americans have been nowhere close to being amongst the smarter peoples in the world. There's alot of stuff out there on the web (and in daily life, too!) that can confirm this. Take just this for example:


Although no place in the world is really full of "smart" people, I would say that in general, Europe and East Asia, and now perhaps even parts of Latin America and South Asia, have smarter people than the U.S.

The quality and importance of our universities is largely due to inertia, not to mention that many of the best graduate students are from abroad. Moreover, just see what is going on in California to get a glimpse of where our universities are headed.

Moreover, we are being dragged down by the southeastern part of the country, which is filled with people, of many classes and races, who are dumb as bricks.

The IT revolution on the West Coast was the last hurrah of the smart people. It's all downhill from here. We are reaping the grim rewards of being a society mostly concerned with turning money into more money, and fighting permanent wars in the M.E. So when you say "the smart people in charge", well, all I can say is the blind leading the blind.

Maybe the problerm all along has been smart folks being elevated to positions of power and then asked to address problems they can't understand.

Of course. This principle can be modeled and has theoretical validity. It is called "The Peter Principle".

Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is the principle that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence."... It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. This principle can be modeled and has theoretical validity.[1] Peter's Corollary states that "in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties" and adds that "work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence".

Ron P.

[It's ignorance] of the facts more than lacking a cognitive ability to understand the issue

It's pure Tom Foolery and Palin Hubris to believe that "smarts" are enough and all I need is to be fed the proper information/ facts.

We put our kids through many years of college to learn medicine or engineering or ____ (fill in the blank) precisely because these things cannot be learned in the time span of a 6 minute elevator pitch.

There are certain fundamentals of the trade that you must have in your cranial database in order to grasp issues concerning that specialty.

Yes, of course we TOD readers pride ourselves in the idea that we understand Hubbert and thermodynamics and the ELM model. But what do we know of the myriad of details in other fields of knowledge? Probably next to nothing. (BTW, the correct word when doing a comparison is "than", not 'then'.)

Sorry set back...wasn't listening. Did you say sumething?

T'is wasn't me. Just some electrons dancing on the pin cushions of your screen. :-)

Quite true. I'd be one that would make that argument.

What a fine thing it is to have an intellect, and room enough in the seat of your breeches to hold it.

- Mark Twain

I have been agreeing with this lately. Mostly because I'm seeing that the "mess" can largely be in the eye of the beholder.

Leanan, are you trolling? :-)

Not at all. I'm referring to a couple of different issues. One, it's TOD's kind of smarts - science and technology - that has enabled us overrun the earth as we have. And still...many of us are looking to more of the same for the solution.

I'm also referring to the tendency of very smart people to use their intelligence to rationalize their beliefs - no matter what they are. In fact, intelligence doesn't really correlate with rationality. Very smart people believe weird things.

In fact, intelligence doesn't really correlate with rationality. Very smart people believe weird things.

I never thought of it like that but I believe you are right. In my years as a Computer Service Engineer at NASA I met a lot of very smart people who believed some really weird things. Many of them carried the letters PhD before their name. I have met rocket scientists who believed the world was created in six days just six thousand years ago. Literally!

Ron P.

I take your points (you did see my smiley, yes?)

I know lots of very smart people who are completely delusional outside of their field of "smartness".

I don't think we're going to "clever" our way out of our problems. Maybe muddle through, more or less. Or not at all.

Full disclosure: I was at the top of my high school class (this was more than 3 decades ago), and the title of my graduation speech was "The Art of Rationalization". No kidding! It was so subtly satirical that nobody got it, and the audience politely applauded whenever I stopped for breath. Oh well. Fortunately, I'm not nearly as smart now as I was then :-)

I think people are capable of being delusional even within their fields of smartness. Look at all those smart, wealthy people, who should have known better, who fell for Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. Not to mention companies like HSBC. There were red flags ten years before he confessed, yet people were still begging him to take their money.

And heck, Madoff himself was delusional. He knew how it would end, but somehow, he kept convincing himself he would find a way out.

I think people are capable of being delusional even within their fields of smartness.

I guess the problem might be more the field than the smartness. I highly doubt anyone could ever have accused Richard Feynman of being in any way delusional about physics. Heck I doubt if he was delusional about anything. He was naturally skeptical about everything and readily acknowledged that he might not know something or even be wrong. There seem to be a few truly rare individuals who are immunized against the pitfalls of delusional thinking.

Then again one might argue that our entire economic system is one gigantic delusion and that those who believe in it or trust sociopaths such as Madoff aren't all that smart to begin with. Kind of like fundamentalist religious fanatics who are taken in by scam artist preachers. Not really all that surprising.

Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme

Leanan - Funny thing about Madoff...sure, right now there are 1000,s of grown-up average people who would like to personally punk Bernie but I would bet that 50 years from now he'll be some kind of cult hero. That had to be the greatest scam ever perpetrated by a single individual...ever This guy was the Dr. Evil of bad guys. You have to laugh!


BTW there was some gangster in prison with Bernie who lost a lot of dough on the scam and he did have Bernie punked. Yeah that's right folks...Bernie got initiated at 70 years of age. That's gotta hurt ;-)

people are capable of being delusional

Bottom line is that the human creature is generally irrational.

We just delude ourselves into believing we are rational.

Quite true. But some people are more rational than others, and the correlation with intelligence is not very strong.

Curiously, depressed people tend to be more realistic than others.

Now you've made me really depressed. :-)

I dunno. It could be argued that it was "smart people" who got us into this mess.

I don't buy that argument at all. To argue that point would be the same as arguing that if our political leaders and business leaders were a lot dumber we would be a lot better off.

Stupidity, not intelligence, says we have enough oil to last forever. Stupidity, not intelligence, says our economy can grow every year... forever. No, what got us into this mess was stupidity, not smart people. We have had some really smart political leaders. Unfortunately we have had a lot more "not so smart" political leaders.

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
–John F. Kennedy, Remarks at dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere, April 29, 1962

Ron P.

As long as GDP is the measure of economic growth, economic growth can continue for quite some time. GDP is a measure of market value. It's perfectly reasonable to anticipate that declining fossil fuel supply will increase its market value and that of all goods and services which embed fossil fuels.

I expect GDP growth to go into indeterminate decline at some point after the fourth quarter of this century when, due to today's declining birth rates and aging population worldwide, the world's population will decline and take demand down with it.

A smart person in the White House who told the truth would last in his capacity for about five minutes or until the next election. It is not just about being smart, it is about the ability to face the truth and tell the truth. But even George Bush admitted we have an oil addiction problem. However, he didn't follow through to do the things necessary to deal with that addiction. I think people like Chu are plenty smart but are constrained by the reality of politics.

But as you know we have run out of time and it is way too late to fix the various terminal messes we are in.

Party on.

I've read that new science concepts rarely have taken hold until the masters of the old have died out. I've seen evidence of that in history. in 1958 it was obvious to my history prof that the barbarians just walked into a crumbling Roman empire. Now the research is that the empire was a going concern, granted very conservative, and it was military events that broke up the western empire. It took a long time to move from one position to another.

Smart people eventually outsmart themselves. California was always a destination for "smart people".

In 1955 Gen. James A Van Fleet wrote an appendix to the US Army Logistics Manual, titled "Rail Transport And The Winning Of Wars", still on some library shelves, or from the Association Of American Railroads in D.C. Van Fleet wrote in response to Ike's pressure for US system of "Defense Highways", enacted as the US Interstate Defense Highway act in August 1956.

California's "leadership" in freeways was morphed into a national goal. Little mention made of LA freeways running over demolished Pacific Electric Railway corridor and warehousing, stations, etc. PE ran on Hoover Dam hydropower, making for a nearly bullet-proof example of clean transport of passengers & freight. Glance at a California freeway map and compare with 1950 Pacific Electric rr lines.

Van Fleet warns of folly with dependence on imported oil, cost for sea lane and supplier country military budget, etc. He warns of natural disasters & homeland attack explaining difficulties of recovery without ubiquitous railway network in place. Did anyone reading this notice dormant rail branchlines in scenes of delayed recovery in the Katrina saga? At a minmum, rail lines could help with demolition & removal...

Bicycles require good roads and trails, bringing us back to the early 1900 situation: Wheelmen organizations able to lobby better roads and pavement for trails? Good luck this time around with that brilliant expectation. As pavement degrades, tight & expensive oil supply will not help; compare with cheap and abundant oil for construction, etc.in the early 20th Century. Bicycles are undoubtedly important for Oil Interregnum solution set, but bicycle people seem abysmally ignorant of need to get rail transport savvy asap. Rails to Trails was NOT meant for permanent abolition of railway lines.

As help for the diligent few, see spv.co.uk for US Rail Map Atlas Volumes for respective locales of personal interest. See also Christopher C. Swan's "ELECTRIC WATER" (New Society Press 2007) for compendium of tech for local scale energy & mobility. Learning the legacy rail map for your vicinity will offer an orderly approach to prioritizing timing for rehab of the most important (agricultural, commute, victuals distribution) dormant railway lines.

James A Van Fleet closes this with timely mention of need for US Army/Guard Railroad Operating & Maintenance Battalions to assure speedy recovery of railroad branchlines to service, and continued USA ability to "keep 'em rolling".

but bicycle people seem abysmally ignorant of need to get rail transport savvy asap.

Hard to imagine any two groups who's interests are more aligned. Making it rails or trails ,real unfortunate, is mainly a symptom of the car dominant/truck transport theme which diminished the importance of all other concepts and left insufficient provision for bikes, pedestrians or rails IMHO. We took a big wrong turn back then.

A quote from Admiral Rickovers 1957 speech

Today the automobile is the most uneconomical user of energy. Its efficiency is 5% compared with 23% for the Diesel-electric railway. It is the most ravenous devourer of fossil fuels, accounting for over half of the total oil consumption in this country. And the oil we use in the United States in one year took nature about 14 million years to create.

Interesting times with Ike 'getting it' about the military industrial complex but helping initiate the ultimately consumptive freeway boom as 'security'. Obviously they were warned that it would make us decidedly un-secure but built right on top of the tracks they were anyway. Maybe we'll see the tracks back on top again soon. Thanks for the background on Van Fleet.

Leanan said:

It could be argued that it was "smart people" who got us into this mess.

Robert Sternberg (world renowned psychologist, past president of the APA) edited a book entitled "Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid". He has done a considerable amount of work on distinguishing wisdom from intelligence and creativity ("Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized") and then showing how they work together to create good judgment and guide good decision making. What is notable is that intelligence is mostly a mechanism for generating decision nets and traversing them bringing evidence into working memory. Antonio Damasio had already elucidated the role of the limbic system in biasing decisions based on emotional content of the choices made at each node (note that we are talking mostly about subconscious decision processing) in "Descartes' Error". Wisdom acts like emotions in the sense that it biases or guides decision processing but from tacit, learned knowledge -- experience gained over the years that integrate to form mental models of how the world works. Depending on how good one's model of how the world works is, the decisions will be better for the greater good of the greater number.

Really smart people can be very foolish. What interests me is the brain basis for wisdom which I call sapience. Much like intelligence there is evidence to strongly suggest that sapience strength is quite heritable and distributed not normally, but with a very high skew toward the low end. In other words, few people really have a strong enough capacity for gaining wisdom and so do not make very good decisions in general. Ask yourself, how many truly wise people do you observe in public life? It is hard to come up with very many names!

The part of the brain that appears to be most involved in sapience is the fronto-polar region of the prefrontal cortex, the patch that most recently underwent evolutionary expansion over the past 200 - 300k years. Wisdom isn't really needed for short-term survival, but it turns out there are good reasons to believe it is selected for in group selection processes, when tribes were the main unit of society. Even older people (grandmothers and grandfathers) could have beneficial effects on raising youngsters in the tribe increasing the fitness of the tribe compared with other tribes that had less sapience.

Today there is virtually no emphasis on wisdom, either from the standpoint of helping whatever could develop do so, or from the use of wisdom expressed by the elders to guide the younger decision makers (e.g. Obama!) Wisdom is placed low on the priority scheme of things and aggressiveness along with short-term cleverness (to increase profits!) is favored instead.

I have been developing a research framework for this work at:

The first listed series gives the scientific background for the concept of sapience, its relation to wisdom, and to intelligence/creativity/affect.

Question Everything

"Intelligence" is not a scalar. It is highly multi-dimensional. All these words: clever, wise, etc. are reflections of this.

I pointed to some of the literature. Maybe you should inform the psychologists.

[Edit: And if you are referring to Howard Gardener's Multiple Intelligences, note that I have had correspondence with Gardener regarding this issue of the basis of wisdom, and he is sympathetic.]

I just don't see "smart people in charge". Not if in charge means they can make an informed study of strategy, and then implement it. Seems like political factors are too strong to allow anyone to impose any sort of coherent strategy. Instead we have a lot of clever people with agendas at cross purposes. The disinfortainment industry which comes up with clever ways to engage viewers storeytelling desires, while promoting sponsers agendas. Lots of players in the political arena, who know alot about influencing people (using with mis/dis-information), working at cross purposes. The ones who are smart in the sense of understanding things from an overall systems perspective have never been in charge.

I wasn't really talking about the people in charge now. I was taking a much longer view than that.

Here's my take on smart people...really smart people. Remember Leonard DaVinci...that was a really smart cat but he towed the line inventing weapons because it gave him lots of money so he could do what he wanted to do. Michalangelo same story.

But look at the Mythology: Take the story of Daedelus:

He is first mentioned by Homer as the creator of a wide dancing-ground for Ariadne.[2] The Labyrinth on Crete, in which the Minotaur (part man, part bull) was kept, was also created by the artificer Daedalus. The story of the labyrinth is told where Theseus is challenged to kill the Minotaur, finding his way with the help of Ariadne's thread.

Daedelus's function is to provide the "technology" such as the Labyrinth...it was inescapable and the minotaur was trapped there. When asked to devise an escape for Ariadne's lover Daedulus goes against his master Minos because he wanted to show off that he could invent the perfect prison and he could also find a way out. ergo: the thread.

...also the lure of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein story is the personality of the scientist...he might be a master of the universe but he is morally confused and is usually all too willing to be a slave to the powers that be. The scientist doesn't care so much about human progress...he is primarily concerned with the practice of science.

And finally take the most tragic case of Carl Jung. With all of his intelligence he was seduced by the Nazi's.

"Giving laws, wanting improvements, making things easier, has all become wrong and evil. May each one seek out his own way, the way leads to mutual love in community. Men will come to see and feel the similarity and communality of their ways." - Carl Jung in 'The Red Book

What a shame!


And finally take the most tragic case of Carl Jung. With all of his intelligence he was seduced by the Nazi's.

In my younger years I loved reading Jung. I read much of his work and I never read anything that even suggested he was sympathetic to Nazism. I was shocked at your accusation. So I did a little research and found nothing but articles saying it was simply not true.

Wikipedia: Carl Jung

In an interview with Carol Baumann in 1948, Jung denied rumors regarding any sympathy for the Nazi movement, saying:

It must be clear to anyone who has read any of my books that I have never been a Nazi sympathizer and I never have been anti-Semitic, and no amount of misquotation, mistranslation, or rearrangement of what I have written can alter the record of my true point of view. Nearly every one of these passages has been tampered with, either by malice or by ignorance. Furthermore, my friendly relations with a large group of Jewish colleagues and patients over a period of many years in itself disproves the charge of anti-Semitism.

A full response from Jung discounting the rumors can be found in C.G Jung Speaking, Interviews and Encounters, Princeton University Press, 1977.

Ron P.

He wasn't a Nazi Ron...not even close to it. His franchise however was claimed by the Nazi's. Then he spends the rest of his career trying to win back his good name. The Warning: Be careful who you have cocktails with.


Even if Jung was a "sympathizer" for Nazis, whatever the heck that means, it would not discredit his substantial body of work, anymore than it would discredit such individuals as Heidegger, Ford, and Lindbergh, amongst others of that time.

Agreeing or disagreeing with particular political movements has nothing to do with accepting or understanding a Hubbert curve. Although, I must admit that the conservative, right-wing factions in the U.S. these days seem to be brimming with genuine idiots, even though I don't necessarily see why that should be the case.

Agreeing or disagreeing with particular political movements has nothing to do with accepting or understanding a Hubbert curve.

I disagree with that totally ... one's views on politics, society, economics - and how one wants all those to proceed - has everything to do with one's acceptance of Peak Oil, AGW, and most certainly, acceptance of the game-changing solutions to these issues. After all, it was a politician of a particular flavour who said "... the American way of life is not negotiable".

I used to dig Jung, too. In fact, the only book I ever stole from a bookstore was "The Portable Jung."

Then, I found out he was a bit of a crackpot.

Jung believed in astrology, spiritualism, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance and ESP. In addition to believing in a number of occult and paranormal notions, Jung contributed two new ones: synchronicity and the collective unconscious.

One story I read about Jung impressed me to his substantial intellect. When he was an intern at a psychiatric hospital he began to observe a particular patient, a woman who was considered hopeless. She was completely incoherent but another thing: she was physically repulsive to such a degree that she was shunned by all of the staff and other patients. Jung however began to observe her and made the diagnosis that the woman was of average intelligence but she was trapped in that hideous body. He accurately deduced that she had grown up in institutions and her intense social isolation had left her with no enculturation. She had never acquired a language and had therefore invented one of her own. Jung spent months teaching her to speak by first learning her "invented" language.

That is an act of academic patience that boggled my mind. His exploration of the "inner space" of human psychology is without peer.

Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious and the Archetype are standard psychiatric terms today. Also for me I admired his dabbling into the occult. Some of his most creative writing dealt with The Tibetan Book of the Dead (The Bardo Thadol which he took with him everywhere reading daily) and the Upanishads. I seriously doubt whether his exploration of those subjects would constitute "belief". Jung was a scientist...


Jung's theory of the Collective Unconscious and the Archetype are standard psychiatric terms today. ...

Jung was a scientist...

Actually, no they are not (except among "Jungians"), and no he was not.

According to psychiatrist and author, Anthony Storr, Jung went through a period of mental illness during which he thought he was a prophet with "special insight." Jung referred to his "creative illness" (between 1913-1917) as a voluntary confrontation with the unconscious. His great "insight" was that he thought all his patients over 35 suffered from "loss of religion" and he had just the thing to fill up their empty, aimless, senseless lives: his own metaphysical system of archetypes and the collective unconscious.

The "Unconscious," Freudian, or Jungian, is a myth.


The "collective unconscious" is, in fact, pseudoscientific.


EDIT: one of my queerer hobbies is reading college textbooks. I just checked my copy of "Psychology" by Atkinson, Atkinson, Bem, and Smith. The terms "Collective Unconscious," and "Archetype" do not even warrant a mention. Only two entries in the index about Jung, some passing references about his disagreements with Freud.

I find it rather odd that on a list whose reason for being is to confront popular myths with facts and scientific evidence, members would have the opposite view of psychology, where it seems that they would ignore decades of scientific research and facts in favor of popular, unsupported myths.

Gee Mike, you seem to be on a mission.

Here is a definition of the Collective Unconscious reviewed the Medical Review Board:

The collective unconscious, originally defined by Carl Jung, refers to a segment of the deepest unconscious mind. As opposed to the personal unconscious, which is composed of long-forgotten memories and experiences, the collective unconscious consists of archetypes that represent an inherited set of beliefs and understandings. These archetypes exist to varying degrees in all humans. Many believe that over time, the collective unconscious evolves and changes to incorporate new information that is globally recognized and accepted.

Examples: Deep-seated beliefs regarding spirituality and religion may be partially due to the collective unconscious.

Now what have you got against Jung? Could it be some deep seated, long buried memory from your childhood, an archetype perhaps? ;-)


Now what have you got against Jung? Could it be some deep seated, long buried memory from your childhood, an archetype perhaps? ;-)

No, not a mission. I just happen to be interested in skepticism. Jungianism is one of those belief systems I had to learn to give up as I grew up.

Your ironic comment brings up something Dr. Peter Medawar said considering the whole field of "psychoanalysis." When you have a psychological theory that "explains" why people don't believe in the theory, then you have "complete intellectual closure." That is, it in effect makes the theory unfalsifiable.


In my understanding a theory is a body of work. Skepticism is a tenet of science, which is why theories change over time as more study and analysis comes to light. Clever wordplay is not proof or even study of a theory. If you want to disprove a theory you have to have a thorough background in that particular discipline and then you have to postulate a testable hypothesis and publish your results. If those results are verified by other colleagues then your studies can change that theory or even eliminate it.

In this case I'm not going to do that and I don't think you are either. You're skepticism is not science. Hunches don't count.


Jung was a great myth-maker. He offers a story more apparently relevant to modern experience than medieval Christian theology. Some of his suggestions lead to interesting literary criticism.

Nevertheless, I got away from Jung's ideas when I realized that none of them have been borne out by psychological or brain-function research. His psychological types (sensation, feeling, intuition, sensing) don't correspond to how the brain actually functions. Actually, my wife blew Jung out of the water one afternoon when I was going on about Animuses and Animas (masculine and feminine principles), and she said, I am not an inside-out male.

There are story elements that seem to recur across cultures and within tribal myths -- explanation perhaps of the collective unconscious and archetypes. We are a story-telling species. Freudian analysis isn't scientific, but it helps people construct helpful personal stories. What we've learned in recent centuries is to check our stories against evidence. Truth is what can be based on fact, not, as previously, on tradition and authority. Or it should be.

I'm with you on Jung. I think he's an excellent example of a smart person who believed some really goofy things - even within his "field of smartness."

And we know that nations like Russia, Saudi Arabia and many other nations are desperately trying to keep their production from collapsing by massive new drilling of MRC wells in their very tired old fields.

One speaker on the ASPO-USA 2008 conference said something like this: "The oil-industry is fighting against declines every day".

To insinuate that we just know nothing is absolutely false.

From the same conference:

Peak Oil is real, and illustrated this conclusion by discussing the decline in production rate from virtually all the major oilfields of the world. 90% of production comes from 10% of the fields and we know which they are. He then went through the list, which was dominated by the comment “in terminal exponential decline.” The depletion rate he quoted (after the 50% production point) was on average 10%.

You are absolutely right. You see the same type of thinking in the "debate" over AGW.

Re upthread link A Dangerous Mix of Water and Oil:

A child's garden of freshwater depletion stories