Drumbeat: April 3, 2010

Lisa Margonelli: Drill Better Baby!

Personally, I can't get too upset about the possibility of drilling off the coasts. While I love walks on unspoiled beaches, I don't believe we in the U.S. have any special right to them given our current consumption of petroleum. We have less than 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, and we use 25 percent of the daily production. All that oil comes from someone else's beach: Angola, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Chad, Russia, Kazakhstan-- places without our environmental protections, rule of law, or human rights record. In my mind, keeping the coasts off limits here without dramatically curtailing our consumption inevitably leads to drilling more wells in Nigerian villages, soon to be followed by spills, poverty, violence, and worse. If an oil company spills even a small amount of oil off the coast of Virginia the active citizens of the Commonwealth will force them to account for their actions and pay compensation.

Offshore Drilling's Payoff May Not Be Energy

This week, President Obama ended a ban on oil and gas drilling along some parts of the U.S. Atlantic coast and northern Alaska. His decision has staggered some of the president's own environmental supporters, but others say the decision is necessary to help decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil or win bipartisan support for an energy and climate change bill. Host Scott Simon speaks with energy mogul T. Boone Pickens, who has pushed for more investment in alternative energy sources.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, N.J. environmentalists campaign against offshore drilling

U.S. Rep Frank Pallone and New Jersey environmentalists are promising a grass-roots campaign to fight what they say is President Barack Obama’s "ill-advised" policy to allow oil drilling off the Atlantic coast.

"We call upon the president, by executive order, to issue a moratorium and put the Atlantic coast off limits," Pallone (D-6th Dist.) said during a gathering today along the boardwalk in Belmar, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. "I cannot and will not support what I consider a really backward way of looking at the energy crisis."

FACTBOX - Venezuela development plan for Orinoco oil belt

(Reuters) - Russian companies and Venezuela will invest between $60 million and $80 million this year in the Junin 6 block in Venezuela's vast Orinoco heavy crude belt, a senior Russian oil executive said on Friday.

Executive charged in Pemex fuel case

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio business executive is the latest person to be charged in a case of $2 million in fuel stolen from Mexican giant Pemex that was resold in the United States.

Federal court records unsealed this week show Tim Brink, CEO of Continental Fuels, was charged in January with conspiracy to acquire petroleum that Mexican officials believe was stolen from Pemex by the Zetas, a cartel that has since broken away from the Gulf Cartel and entered into new lines of criminal activity.

N.Y. Auto Show Is Rife With Lithe Energy Savers

There was no shortage of news surrounding reduced energy consumption during the press conferences at the 2010 New York International Auto Show. Even Infiniti’s new 8-passenger QX56 SUV gets 20 mpg on the highway. Among the many product introductions and company announcements, Ford, Hyundai and Chevy stood out with notable strides in vehicle efficiency and forward thinking technology partnerships.

Economists Warn against Setting Price for Carbon Too Low

In its first attempts to regulate carbon emissions, the U.S. government is hindering its own efforts by using flawed economic models that grossly underestimate the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the climate and on our economic future, says a new report issued today by America’s largest network of independent climate economists.

The report, from the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network (E3 Network), an organization of more than 200 economists, shows how a little-known federal task force has estimated the so-called “social cost of carbon” – the economic impact of each ton of CO2 emissions – at a “central value” of $21 per ton, which would translate to about 20 cents per gallon of gasoline.

Finland to open, scan household letters and send copies by email

Finland's postal service is to begin opening household mail and sending scanned copies of letters by email to cut costs and pollution. Not even the most intimate love letters, payslips, overdue bills and other personal messages will be spared under the controversial scheme.

Post-Peak Oil Reality Trumps Right Wing Trend

Now the post-peak oil age is staring us in the face, with the Great Recession signaling the end of bubble prosperity. There is no consensus on how things will play out -- whether a Depression, total collapse or prosperous green technotopia -- or when.

However, many of us know that the end of cheap, abundant oil means a new chapter of history is opening up now or very soon. More and more authorities are acknowledging an imminent peak in oil extraction or a major oil-supply crunch. The "optimistic" and contrary view out of Exxon is becoming marginalized. Since "peak oilists" understand that the new chapter has begun, and we can visualize energy scarcity causing radical change in lifestyle and social structure, isn't it time to place the traditional left-right view of politics and conventional economic theory aside? Today's political conflict is dominated by those who see a constant or growing pie to fight over or redistribute. Their worldview will be swept aside when everyone from neo-Nazis to peaceniks have their cars permanently idled, without fuel, and have to dig up lawns and depave driveways to desperately grow food.

Bill McKibben: The Only Way to Have a Cow

The key technology here is the single-strand electric fence—you move your herd or your flock once or twice a day from one small pasture to the next, forcing them to eat everything that’s growing there but moving them along before they graze all the good stuff down to bare ground. Now their manure isn’t a problem that fills a cesspool, but a key part of making the system work. Done right, some studies suggest, this method of raising cattle could put much of the atmosphere’s oversupply of greenhouse gases back in the soil inside half a century. That means shifting from feedlot farming to rotational grazing is one of the few changes we could make that’s on the same scale as the problem of global warming. It won’t do away with the need for radically cutting emissions, but it could help get the car exhaust you emitted back in high school out of the atmosphere.

How green is your dating life?

Can your dating life go green, too?

Eco-compatibility is increasingly more important for people navigating the dating scene. Therapists are seeing an increase in environmentally related disputes among couples, The New York Times reported in January.

Putting a Price Tag on the Melting Ice Caps

Reports about the melting ice caps are distressing, but for the most part climate change remains abstract. The poor polar bear has been trotted out as the tangible face of global warming so often that we're beginning to see "polar bear fatigue." How about bringing the effects of Arctic melt close to home, as in what it will cost? A new study does just that, and the results are alarming, not just for Arctic dwellers but for all of us. According to lead author Eban Goodstein, Ph.D., over the next 40 years Arctic ice melt will take an economic toll of between $2.4 trillion and $24 trillion. Unless we change course — and fast.

Why is the melting Arctic so expensive? "The Arctic acts as the planet's air conditioner, and that function is already breaking down," says Goodstein, an economist and Director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy. The high price reflects anticipated losses in agriculture and real estate plus the cost of disease outbreaks and natural disasters associated with rising sea levels. The melt, he says, is already adding extra heat at an annual rate of 3 billion tons of CO2 — the equivalent of 500 coal-powered plants, or more than 40% of all U.S. fossil fuel emissions — and this is expected to more than double by the end of the century.

Tesoro Blast Shows Pattern of Refinery Safety Problems, Investigator Says

(Bloomberg) -- A blast and fire that killed five people at Tesoro Corp.’s Anacortes, Washington, refinery yesterday may be the worst fatal accident to strike a U.S. refinery since a 2005 explosion killed 15 people at BP Plc’s plant in Texas City, Texas.

“It appears to have the most fatalities of any accident since BP Texas City,” Daniel Horowitz, a spokesman for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “The board is extremely concerned about the pattern of safety problems in the refining sector.”

Tesoro Refinery Blast May Boost Local Fuel Prices

(Bloomberg) -- A blast and fire at Tesoro Corp.’s Anacortes, Washington, refinery early today may boost regional fuel prices.

Crude oil flowing for first time in new Alberta Clipper pipeline

The 1000 mile long Alberta Clipper pipeline connecting Alberta, Canada to Superior started flowing with crude oil Thursday. Mike Simonson reports.

This doesn’t mean the pipeline is full of crude oil yet. Enbridge Energy Pipeline's Denise Hamsher says it’ll take at least five months to creep its way to their Superior facility.

Russian Oil Production Rises to Post-Soviet Record

(Bloomberg) -- Russia, supplier of about 12 percent of the world’s oil, increased crude production in March to a post-Soviet record as TNK-BP tapped deposits and OAO Bashneft’s new owners squeezed more crude from older fields.

Crude output reached 10.12 million barrels a day, a gain of 3.3 percent from the same month last year and 0.4 percent from February, according to preliminary data released today by the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. Exports rose 3 percent on the month to 5.38 million barrels a day.

“I think we’re going to see this continuing this year,” Artem Konchin, an oil and gas analyst at Unicredit SpA in Moscow, said by phone.

Chris Nelder: Officials Wake Up to Peak Oil

When I began writing about peak oil professionally in 2006, it was generally considered a tinfoil hat theory. The notion that oil production might peak around 2012 (plus or minus) was only taken seriously by a few analysts who were considered extremely pessimistic.

Official forecasts had no cognizance of it whatsoever. All were confident that oil supply would continue to grow steadily to 130 million barrels per day (mbpd) and beyond, at prices that would be considered astoundingly cheap by today's standards. Oil companies rarely mentioned peak oil, and when they did, it was in a casually dismissive way.

But as time marched on, the cornucopian arguments fell one by one. My longtime readers have seen the story unfold, but for the benefit of new readers, here's a quick summary...

New mileage rules move industry a long way in right direction

The Obama administration's most recent foray into mileage standards for vehicles will pay off if it deters California and other states from venturing off on their own. That in itself justifies the goals announced Thursday, which cover the years 2012-16.

The New EPA Fuel Standards: Why MPG No Longer Matters

I love the ambitious new automobile efficiency targets set by the EPA this week. This is long overdue. As the EPA pointed out, "transportation sources accounted for 28 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2007, and have been the fastest-growing source of U.S. GHG emissions since 1990."

While the new targets works out to an average of 35.5 MPG by 2016, the rules are actually set in terms of "grams of CO2 per mile." I suspect that it was done this way because of the EPA's new found authority to regulate CO2, but it also highlights that "miles per gallon" is not all that matters when it comes to climate change.

Awareness to help turn grey Kuwait to green

This tiny oil-rich country has the potential for providing massive renewable energy sources, but what it lacks is professional departments dedicated to dealing with this in any ministry, not to mention any ministry specifically established to deal with these critical issues, even with the constant concerns over the possibility of subsequent oil shortages.

A Race to Reap Energy From the Ocean Breezes

As New Englanders await a decision in Massachusetts on a bitterly contested proposal to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm, the State of Rhode Island is forging ahead with its own project in the hope of outpacing — and upstaging — its neighbor.

Crucial to its strategy is dispelling worries that economics will trump the environment, or the broader public good.

Big Backyard? You Could Raise All Your Own Food, New Book Says

Feed a family of four on a quarter- acre plot! Earn thousands in half the time a normal job would require!

But wait ― there's more, as the late Billy Mays might have said. Never farmed before? Don't know an udder from a ukulele? Can't tell compost from a camera? Fear not! Just buy a copy of Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, the brand-new book by Brett L. Markham, self-described advocate of a holistic approach to farming on a small, sustainable scale.

Media works toward a green transition

Sari and Pat Steuber live in a house they designed and built themselves, on a steep hillside on the outskirts of Media. Light floods the interior through south-facing double-glass windows. The house is heated by a system that captures the warmth of the earth. A three-story staircase is supported by long strands of rebar; the treads are recycled sections of finished maple from a bowling alley lane.

In 2008, Sari, 61, a retired software-development manager, and Pat, 64, a retired Web designer, decided to rectify an omission: They'd been married 22 years and never taken a honeymoon. So they spent the next 6-1/2 months touring the United States. They didn't rent a Winnebago. Instead, they mounted a tandem bicycle and pedaled 9,000 miles.

After a 20-Year Mapping Effort, Hoping to Save Dozens of Native Plants

American colonists once watched for the spring bloom of the Nantucket shadbush, a sign that it was warm enough to bury the winter’s dead.

Today, that shadbush and dozens of other flora native to the New York region face extinction, a result of urban development and the encroachment of invasive plants from foreign lands, scientists from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden report.

Hoping to revive the plants, the scientists recently completed a 20-year project mapping species in every county within a 50-mile radius of New York, providing detailed information on the health of more than 15,000 native and nonnative species.

German film offers answers to Gore climate concerns

(Reuters) - Al Gore raised some alarming questions about climate change in his Oscar-winning 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth" that a German filmmaker has now tried to provide some answers for in a new documentary.

Carl Fechner's "The Fourth Revolution - Energy Autonomy" is an attempt to show how the world could be getting all its energy from renewable sources in 30 years -- and help slow the climate change that Gore warned about in his blockbuster film.

An unabashedly provocative look at renewable energy in countries from the United States, Germany, Denmark, China, Mali and Bangladesh, Fechner's new film has attracted rave reviews and fierce criticism in Germany since it opened last week.

Orbeo Raises Forecast of Excess EU CO2 Permits After 2009 Data

(Bloomberg) -- Orbeo raised its forecast of excess carbon-dioxide permits in the current phase of the European Union’s cap-and-trade program by 72 percent after emissions fell more than estimated last year.

Weird science: Consider geoengineering to fight global warming

Intentionally messing with the world’s climate sounds like something only a comic book villain would do.

But in March, at an unprecedented conference in northern California, a group of climate scientists and officials from several countries met to discuss how best to go about doing it.

Native Peoples Reject Market Mechanisms

SAN JOSÉ - Solutions to global warming based on the logic of the market are a threat to the rights and way of life of indigenous peoples, the Latin American Indigenous Forum on Climate Change concluded this week in Costa Rica.

Bjørn Lomborg: Feel-good Earth Hour not answer to global warming

What ever else it may be, Earth Hour is surely one of the most successful publicity stunts ever dreamed up. First organized in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 by the local chapter of the World Wildlife Fund, its popularity and the level of participation (both individual and official) that generates has exploded in recent years -- to the point that there is barely a corner of the earth that the campaign hasn’t touched. As Greg Bourne, CEO of World Wildlife Fund in Australia, put it: “We have everyone from Casablanca to the safari camps of Namibia and Tanzania taking part.”

But has Earth Hour actually done anything to halt -- or even slow -- global warming? Not so much.

CO2 top concern for state Geological Survey, new director says

The new head of the Illinois Geological Survey says finding ways to store carbon dioxide underground is a top priority if greenhouse gases are to be curbed.

How methane leaks through permafrost

Recently a team from Russia, the US, and Sweden found that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) is releasing around 8 teragrams of methane from subsea sediments each year. Now team member Natalia Shakhova and colleague Dmitry Nicolsky have come up with a new model for the Dmitry Laptev Strait region of the shelf to explain exactly how the methane is escaping through the permafrost layer above it.

Re: Bjørn Lomborg: Feel-good Earth Hour not answer to global warming

Lomborg concludes:

A meaningful solution to global warming needs to focus on clean-energy research and development, instead of fixating on empty promises of reductions in carbon emissions. For just 0.2 percent of global GDP, or $100 billion a year, we could bring about the game-changing technological breakthroughs that will be required to make green energy cheap enough to fuel a carbon-free future. So let’s stop stumbling around in the dark and do something meaningful for a brighter future.

Trouble is, how does one find and spread these "technological breakthroughs" if they don't exist? Why not use the technology we already have, such as low temperature solar thermal for water heating needs? I'm afraid that most people won't change their habits until they are pushed to do so. If we had a system of hard limits to emissions, such as a carbon rationing program, I think the transition toward a low carbon future would be quickly kick started. Wouldn't the the "free" market respond by providing those solutions which are technically possible? We no longer have the luxury of waiting for some magical breakthrough to save the Earth.

NOTE: For all those denialist out there who ranted on about the cool weather this past winter, well, now we in the Eastern US have experienced a blast of record warmth the past few days. Temperatures in the mid 80's F this early???

E. Swanson

I'm afraid that most people won't change their habits until they are pushed to do so.

Black_Dog Over the last couple of years I have learned not to bring up energy or environmental issues for obvious reasons.

Last night had dinner with some friends, a middle-aged well educated couple, who insisted on bringing up energy and the environment.

She: "We have to break the cycle of dependency on foreign oil!"

Me: "Do you know how much oil we currently import?" (they had no idea)

Him: "We need to make the switch to solar."

Me: "Have you looked into buying solar panels for your home?"

Him "Yes but they're too expensive. The govt. needs to offer incentives"

Me: "They do. Last time I checked incentives covers more than 1/3 of the cost of installation."

Him: "Well we don't plan on being in this home for more than 5 years."

Seeing where this conversation was headed I changed the subject and talked about NCAA basketball. Experience tells me that if I continue on the line of conversation it usually leaves people thinking that "you must be some kind of nut". Personally, I don't care for the label.


Imagine if the lookouts on the Titanic had been yelling, "Iceberg ahead!" at the top of their lungs, and no one paid any attention. That is how I feel! No one listens. They are snug in their cabins, watching NASCAR races on their 72" HDTVs, getting ready to drive the SUV 5 miles for a snack! They are comfortable... they don't want to know about what is coming.

So. You think we should just shut up?

No! I think we need to shout louder! The science behind PO is way too clear; the importance far too grave. The consequences unthinkable! Somehow, we need to get the attention of someone who has the public ear. The best way I know is to tell everyone we know... friends, relatives, acquaintances. You may not want to include your boss, or many coworkers, at least not while at work. Off hours... yes.

And, I don't care what I am labeled. This is just far too important to become complacent. That's what everyone else is doing. I am not everyone else!

((my rant!))


Jimmy Carter warned us about peak oil and he was not the first. We have been warned repeatedly for more than 50 years, but especially during the crisis of the 70's. At least the price scares produced some automobile downsizing.
-- I live at sea level and have been warned of rising rising sea levels for at least half of that period.

We have been warned repeatedly for more than 50 years...

And right there is a nub of both the AGW and fossil fuel issues. We've been warned repeatedly for so long that some of the earliest warnings are not only beyond 50 years ago but beyond living memory. And guess what? Nothing has yet happened that an average non-geek can identify as clearly connected to the warnings. Sure, there has been weather, but there has always been weather. Sure, there have been financial panics, but we've had them since 'forever'. Sure, commodity prices have fluctuated widely, but what's new in that?

So one is reduced to arguing that It's Different This Time from all the other times someone clambered onto a podium and preached Armageddon to no avail. Realistically, that's a tough argument to sustain - even if in retrospect it turns out there was some truth in it this time.

In other words, I'd suggest one needs to deal squarely with this: even the most "cornucopian" regular TOD reader or commenter poster might still be seen through the eyes of the wider public as a bit of a wild-eyed lunatic. I'd also suggest that some of the folks who have injected themselves into the public realm have failed to deal squarely with it, a failure that has cost them dearly both personally and in terms of getting their points across. Jimmy Carter seems to be an early archetypal example - in the end he was remembered by many as an ineffectual "can't do" whiner.

Yes. I am very optimistic relative to many TOD posters, and even then my most likely scenario, assuming nuclear war or runaway AGW does not happen is that parts of the third world (the parts that do not import food) will be okay and possibly better off as a result of PO (due to the end of/reduction in exploitation by corporations), some parts of the first world have an okay chance due to low population densities and some domestic oil in quantities that seem sufficient to keep some BAU-style farming operations running in order to provide staple foods for a while (compare this to the Middle East, which grows almost no food and would need incredible amounts of oil to grow more). In other words, I think that some significant areas of the planet might not experience mass starvation if we get lucky with AGW and avoid large-scale nuclear war. This is a relatively optimistic stance to take on TOD, and if I told most people I would be regarded as a lunatic.

A nuke war is messy - crop viruses strike me as the method O choice.

So. You think we should just shut up?

No! I think we need to shout louder!

I did shout louder. I told all my family, all my friends and anyone else I could get to listen to me.

They told me to shut up.

So I did shut up... except for talking to like minded people on TOD. Actually I should have known better. I learned many years ago that you cannot get people believe something they do not desire to believe with an argument or logic and reason of any kind. As Francis Bacon observed way back in Shakespeare’s day: "People desire to believe what they desire to e true."

So Zaphod, rant and shout until you are blue in the face, no one is paying a damn bit of attention to anything you say.

But I must admit I am not going to shut up. I really enjoy talking to guys like you and Joe about it. But I am not under the silly illusion that anything I say is going to make one whit of a difference.
Ron P.

This morning, I concluded a four hour presentation (two Saturdays) to twenty eight community residents out of a local population of 300 households. The subject was 'Fundamental Principles of Community Leadership'.

They attended because I have spent almost three years educating them on Peak Oil implications via regular educational emails.

They are all modifying their current lifestyle to become more self reliant. They also recognize that we sink or swim together.

The job of educating (converting) is a slow hard slog but persistence can get favorable results.


"The only thing being able to enlight our masters is the lightning,which is going to struck them"
(Kurt Weidling, a german anarchist of the first half of the 19th century).

Speaking to denialists, I always admit, that I have voted for the same party as they did. Because with PO the globalized capitalism will collapse and with those idiots in government it is the fastest way. That makes them uncertain. And uncertanty is the first step to intelligence.

Ps. Our new government is realy fantastic.

You mentioned the science behind Peak Oil. Once again I ask someone to formally define what the science is. Heuristics such as Hubbert Linearization do not count because these approaches are not based on first principles nor on any fundamental understanding. In other words, blind curve fitting is not science.

on a single field basis, petroleum engineers uses a form of conservation of matter - material balance - which is not a material balance at all, but a volumetric balance.

the unscientific part is not knowning what we have never seen and are forced to make future predictions on the basis of history.

at least with space exploration we can see part of it(with the help of a hubble telescope).

Mass balance or population balance is a good starting point. Not knowing something is not a good excuse for avoiding persuing this path. A perfectly valid scientific appproach is to use the principle of maximium entropy to fill in the missing pieces, such as the exzct rates of mass flow. For example, with the concept of population balance and maximum entropy we can essentially derive the distribution of oil reservoir sizes. This takes but a few lines of derivation.

The sticky point in this discussion is that this particular derivation exists no where in the literature, especially not in any petroleum geology texts. That is what I find so amazing - this basic scientific reasoning is completely missing from the academic discipline.

As an outsider, I can only ponder on the lack of intellectual curiosity that years of resource plundering has produced.

As an outsider, I can only ponder on the lack of intellectual curiosity that years of resource plundering has produced.

WHT, I think this owes in part to the ease with which resource extraction has proceeded. We've been digging on a lot of low-hanging fruit and society at large has been largely shielded from the realities of resource extraction. Now, some of the saddest places I've ever run across were mining towns. The infastructure is third-world, the roads look like they've been carpet-bombed and the streams look like Orange Crush. But 99% of the American public never sees that. It's the "grocery store conundrum." As long as the shelves are full, no one asks any questions and no one is any the wiser for the processes required to bring these wonderful things to us.

When the low-hanging fruit are gone, we'll be more interested in counting what remains. Until then, it's "PARTY ON DUDES!"

It's the "grocery store conundrum."

On a trip to Idaho the local radio station was playing a clip of a local elected official who said "Why do we need farms? If I need food, I go to the grocery store."

And I remember hearing it 2 times that day, both times shaking my head.

I'm listening.
What would such a science look like?

Theory of the formation of oil.

Statistical analysis of the global distribution of oil
based on required geological parameters derived for theory of formation
with projected probabilities of X amount of global discoverable oil in ground.

Probable extraction totals and flows based on statistical distribution of oil,
by field size, rock porosity, oil viscosity, pressure, depletion, discovery rates

Modifications of the above based on range of prices and technology.

The science would start with those elements but one would need to prune the set down as the particulars do not matter if the appropriate probability arguments are put into place. For example, average values would work quite effectively for a first-order model.

Sorry to say that multicyclic Hubbert curve fitting is extremely lazy and the ultimate in heuristics. I could use that technique to fit any curve in the world and it won't tell me anything about the underlying fundamental behaviors.

I knew you were going to say that, which is why I put that link up without any comments ...


Imagine if the lookouts on the Titanic had been yelling, "Iceberg ahead!" at the top of their lungs, and no one paid any attention.

Actually, I have imagined this scenario. The interesting thing is that if the Titanic had crashed into the iceberg head-on without swerving, it probably would have survived. That was the scenario it was designed to survive. The collision would have flooded the front two watertight compartments, and the ship would have limped into port at reduced speed.

It was the last-minute swerve that did them in. They ripped open 6 or 7 watertight compartments, and that wasn't a scenario the designers had envisioned. With so many compartments flooded, the ship went nose-down, and the rest of them flooded. Game over.

Sorry for the interruption. You may now return to your regular programing.

Actually, I have imagined this scenario. The interesting thing is that if the Titanic had crashed into the iceberg head-on without swerving, it probably would have survived. That was the scenario it was designed to survive. The collision would have flooded the front two watertight compartments, and the ship would have limped into port at reduced speed.

I'm not so sure, that would have been a very violent impact. Perhaps the rivits would have popped anyway. They were made of substandard iron, and were quite brittle in freezing temperatures.
Another ironic part of the tragedy. The (can't remember which position, first mate or something) was replaced at the last minute. He had the key to the locker with the only pair of binoculars, so the watchmen in the conning tower had to search with their maked eyes. One thinks they would have seen the berg a few minutes earlier if they had binoculars.

A head-on collision might have been a violent impact, but it would have been the type of impact the ship was designed to survive. That was the whole purpose behind having watertight compartments - a head on collision at full speed could only flood a couple of them, and that was why they said the Titanic was "unsinkable". It was, if they had the proper type of collision.

The real problem was not that the ship didn't have a proper lookout posted, it was that it was travelling at a high rate of speed through the fog in waters known to be infested with icebergs. Obviously safety was not their first concern.

They couldn't really have expected to see an iceberg in time to stop. A prudent captain would have proceeded at half speed rather than at top speed, but that would have put them behind schedule.

If they really had been safety-conscious, they would have had lifeboats for all the passengers, rather than only half of them.

An interesting fact: The Titanic was on fire when it left England. They had a fire in one of the coal bunkers but figured they could put it out by the time they reached New York. Again, safety was not the #1 item on their agenda.

The Titanic sinking is an example that could have been used to invent Normal Accident Theory, but we had to get into reactor meltdowns and space shuttle crashes before people took it seriously. They think it's something new.

people thinking that "you must be some kind of nut". Personally, I don't care for the label.

Its a great label, embrace it.

If you start speaking in vague quatrains and apply to be a Government-preacher you should be able to pull in the big bucks.

Just put Father , Reverend, Mother, Bishop, Ajan, Roshi, Rabbi, etc in front of it, and you will be taken seriously.

Trekker, I got handed the title "archdruid" to put in front of my moniker, and it doesn't seem to have helped that much. ;-)

Good laugh. Fast forward a bit... Greer the Earl of Petrol.

"Worshipful Master" as a title isn't all that helpful. But you do have a gavel and you can tell people to stand up and sit down.

From the druids I've known it isn't exactly what I'd call an "organized" religion.

Stories I'd like to see..
How methane leaks through Lomborg

Recently a team from Russia, the US, and Sweden found that Bjorn Lomborg is releasing around 8 teragrams of methane each year....


Nice, but really this methane hydrate business is no laughing matter.

From the article:

"As methane has been permanently originating in the seabed since it was formed, these deposits are huge and emissions of this ready-to-go methane to the water column only depend on occurence of migration pathways (provided or not provided by permafrost)," she said. "These emissions could be non-gradual, sudden, more or less massive, they could even be abrupt."

No one knows exactly how much methane is under the continental shelf north of eastern Siberia, but estimates have ranged to 1400 gigatons. Since over the short term of a decade or two, methane has more than 100 times the global warming potential of CO2, sudden release of even a small fraction of this amount would represent a "game over" event.

Let's hope and pray that the recent recorded massive increase in methane from this source is some kind of temporary cyclical event that will stop by itself, though I know of no theory that would explain this as anything other than the beginning of a feedback mechanism that will not stop anytime soon.

So our second best hope is that the sudden and massive release does not occur. The problem with this hope is that the average depth of the continental shelf is only 50 meters, with much of it much shallower. These shallow depths are much more susceptible to influence from the surface water temperatures, waters that are becoming ever warmer and ever more agitated as the Arctic Ocean comes closer and closer to being largely ice free during the summer and early fall.

Best wishes in an ever-grimmer-looking future.

It would still be a good idea to minimize our additional forcing of CO2, just in case there is some unforeseeable counteracting feedback that might be strong enough to shut down all the reinforcing feedbacks that now seem to be kicking in.

Basically, if you are in a burning building, it is not a good idea to be pouring fuel on the fire, even if there is no likely chance that it will stop by itself.

It would still be a good idea to minimize our additional forcing of CO2, just in case there is some unforeseeable counteracting feedback that might be strong enough to shut down all the reinforcing feedbacks that now seem to be kicking in.


if I haven't said it, thanks dohboi for your ongoing high calibre of right-on posts.

My cabin is solar powered, and I used about 13 gals of gas in my truck last month. What are y'all doing?

is this meant for me?

what I've done isn't readily believable, I've found.

It's not specifically a carbon calculator, but I like www.myfootprint.org. I'm just over one earth. Not great, but a good deal less bad than many of my fellow Amerikuns.

The estimates I have seen say methane is only 21 times as forceful as CO2 WRT GW effects. Got a source for that over 100 times claim? Also while CO2 is measured in parts per million methane is measured in parts per trillion. Methane also has a much shorter half life than CO2.

The estimates I have seen say methane is only 21 times as forceful as CO2 WRT GW effects. Got a source for that over 100 times claim? Also while CO2 is measured in parts per million methane is measured in parts per trillion. Methane also has a much shorter half life than CO2.

CO2 is roughly 388ppm (it varies by a few ppm with the seasonal cycle of vegetation growth and decay), Methane is roughly 1850 ppb (parts per billion). It oxidies to CO2 with a lifetime of roughly a decade. In isolation a molecule of methane absorbs less IR than a molecule of CO2.
But CO2 lines are saturated near line centers, so the effect ends up looking like the logarithm of concentration. Since there is less methane in the atmosphere (by roughly 200times) its absorbption lines are not saturated, and an incremental change in methane concentration has a greater impact of total greenhouse effect than an incremental change of CO2 concentration. The direct instantaneous effect is well over a hundred times as strong. The widely quoted ratio of 23 is a century long effect. Add X amount of CO2, the total heating averaged over a century is A. Add X amount of methane, and initially the heating effect is large, but by the end of that century it is essentially zero. The net heating for that increment ends up being that number 23 time A. There might be some secondary effects of methane (indirect heating), its breakdown is an important source of stratospheric water vapor (which warms the earth), and it may effect some other atmospheric trace gases -so just how much warming a change in methane causes isn't actually very well known, although it is almost certainly larger than the widely quoted direct effect.

Relief is on the way :)

Speaking of news; any sharing of knowledge about that project's fate would be appreciated.


Thanks for clearing this up so succinctly, green, and thanks back for all your great post. And sorry I didn't get back this earlier--computer problems.

Here's a link to the article I referred to:


And a quote from the abstract:

"This paper argues that methane is more potent than previously realised due to the interaction with black carbon. The paper gives a revised Global Warming Potential for methane measured over 100 years as 33. This is an increase of over 30% compared to the value of 21 given in the IPCC Second Assessment Report used for the Kyoto Protocol. Over 20 years. Shindell et al. calculate this GWP to be 105. If this measure were used the climate impact of methane (e.g. for Plan B above), it would be 5 times the value agreed at Kyoto."

Hi BD,

It's been unusually warm in much of eastern Canada as well (a clip from last night's The National: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/ID=1458784464). Yesterday, the nation's capital hit 29°C (84F). We're currently standing at 21°C and tomorrow's high is expected to be 24°C. Our normal for this time of year is +7°C.


We're expecting 6-18 inches of snow (it depends upon elevation). We think we'll get about 12" over the next couple of days in the Coast Range Mountains of northern California. Right now we are taking my wife's car down to the county road which is about 500' lower. After that my tenant will take her car down and I'll give her a ride back up.


Just planted snap pea starts today...hope they are tough.

Best of luck to you, Todd. Hope everything comes through OK.

We had a remarkably mild winter with little precipitation, so the risk of forest fires is unusually high for this time of year (see: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/03/11/ns-brush-fire-seas...).


Hi Paul,

I can deal with the snow but what ticks me off is I just took the chains off the 1 ton 4x4 a couple of days ago after the last snow. It takes me about 45 minutes to chain up even with the floor jack. Hey, it's one of the joys of the boondocks...but at 71 it is a PITA.


Paul, I hope you are enjoying the sunshine there, because we are freezing here (in BC). Massive storm on the BC coast and Vancouver Island. Like our oil, we even exported some of the storm (for free) to Wash. State. One of the BC Ferries had it's bow doors damaged and had to return to port, many sailings cancelled, one marina had all it's docks broken up, Lion's gate bridge in Vancouver closed to traffic, was really quite a wild ride.

Had a 20 hour outage yesterday, as did about 200,000 people!. Would have been very "interesting" if this had happened during the olympics.

Very glad to have the high efficiency wood burning fireplace insert (which we use as our primary heat source). As inconvenient as the storms are, the bonus is that there are now numerous trees lying around on the sides of the road that will become next winter's firewood (Fir and cedar season in one summer).

While February was well above average temperature, March has been well below. Local ski hills have been getting dumped on, road passes closed for avalanches, etc etc. Weather is always good topic of conversation on the coast, but this year has been exceptional.

Not surprisingly, we (BC) saved a lot more electricity for the hour at 8:30 pm yesterday than we did during Earth hour on the weekend, but it's not really a "sustainable" way to do it!

Good luck to you as well, Paul. It seems both you and Todd have your hands full. There was a segment on The National just before the aforementioned clip showing some of the damage in Victoria and the lower mainland -- massive trees uprooted and fallen power lines. I believe they said it was the worst storm to hit BC in forty years.


Pay Garnishments Rise as Debtors Fall Behind

PHOENIX — When the bank sued Leann Weaver for not paying her credit card balance, her reaction was typical for someone in that situation. Personal and financial setbacks weighed her down, and she knew she owed the $2,470. So she never went to court to defend herself.

She was startled by what happened next. When she swiped her debit card at the grocery store, it was declined. It turned out Capital One Bank had taken $224.25 from her paycheck, a quarter of her wages for two weeks of work at a retail chain, and her bank account was overdrawn.

People who go to court and fight will often get relief.

Ruth M. Owens, a disabled Cleveland woman, was sued by Discover Bank in 2004 for an unpaid credit card. Ms. Owens offered a defense, sending a handwritten note to the court.

“After paying my monthly utilities, there is no money left except a little food money and sometimes it isn’t enough,” she wrote.

Robert Triozzi, a judge at the time, heard the case. He found that over a period of several years, Ms. Owens had paid nearly $3,500 on an original balance of $1,900. But Discover was suing her for $5,564, mostly for late fees, compound interest, penalties and other charges. He called Discover’s actions “unconscionable” and threw the case out.

Leanan - While the govt. is doing it's level best trying to convince us that the economy is on the mend stories like this one keep surfacing:

Growth of unpaid internships may be illegal
Officials warn they are stepping up labor law enforcement.

With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.

Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.

Over time I have come to agree with your view on collapse occurring in a step-wise fashion.


guess I better be careful ...


I have been wondering about the explosive growth of this business model amongst my social set here in W Washington.
Start small farm and get certified organic... then you have access to farmers markets and CSA's for marketing as well as
sub-minimum wage labor in the form of 'internships' that coordinate marketing as well as doing field work.
yes, there is an educational aspect to it.
yes, it addresses several important social issues in a cost effective manner, and...
yes, it gives young people interested in agriculture an opportunity to get get hands-on experience
It seems ripe for exploitation, and...
it advantages one sector of agriculture, and...
from my experience the is a pattern where affluent white people have their children spending summers doing 'agricultural internships', while Mexican kids do 'farm work' and there is something unseemly about the whole set-up...

Most of the WWOOFers want room and board.

The other day one wanted high speed internet access

Why do they call it "garnishing" your pay? It sounds like they're putting a few sprigs of parsley on your check.

Indeed - "garnisheeing" was perhaps what was aimed at, but the writer didn't quite make it. Ha.

Krusty: I can't go to jail! I got a swanky lifestyle. I'm used to the best.

IRS Guy: Krusty, this is America. We don't send our celebrities to jail. We're just going to garnish your salary.

Krusty: Garnish my celery?!

IRS Guy: Please, Krusty, no jokes!

Krusty: Who's Joking?! Oh, I don't understand what you're saying, it all sounds so crazy to me.

"Discover was suing her for $5,564, mostly for late fees, compound interest, penalties and other charges."

whenever you hear the bit of financial services accounting for a fifth of GDP, now you know part of the why.

Contesting Jobless Claims Becomes a Boom Industry

"“Talx often files appeals regardless of merits,” said Jonathan P. Baird, a lawyer at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “It’s sort of a war of attrition. If you appeal a certain percentage of cases, there are going to be those workers who give up....

“We can speed the whole process, rather than bog it down,” said Michael E. Smith, a senior Talx executive. “The whole idea is to protect those employees who have lost their job through no fault of their own and make sure they get unemployment insurance.” ”

I might go either way, in that we all know people fired for their own fault who shouldn't get benefits, folks gaming the system, but at the same time, this looks like another way to game the system for the other side.

Rack it up with "dead peasants" insurance policies and other not illegal methods of financial services.

There's a simple way to gauge it. Bad employees get replaced with new employees. Good employees get laid off and are not replaced.

From Lithuania, a View of Austerity’s Costs

VILNIUS, Lithuania — If leaders of the world’s many indebted countries want to see what austerity looks like, they might want to visit this Baltic nation of 3.3 million.

Faced with rising deficits that threatened to bankrupt the country, Lithuania cut public spending by 30 percent — including slashing public sector wages 20 to 30 percent and reducing pensions by as much as 11 percent. Even the prime minister, Andrius Kubilius, took a pay cut of 45 percent.

And the government didn’t stop there. It raised taxes on a wide variety of goods, like pharmaceutical products and alcohol. Corporate taxes rose to 20 percent, from 15 percent. The value-added tax rose to 21 percent, from 18 percent.

Soup kitchens are swamped, suicides are up...but people aren't protesting, and the unions supported the cuts.

I'll believe our fearless leaders are serious about the budget when they raise corporate taxes.

If leaders of the world’s many indebted countries want to see what austerity looks like. . .

Seems to be a preview of coming attractions.

I'll believe our fearless leaders are serious about the budget when they raise corporate taxes.

Don't hold your breath! About the the they raise corporate taxes, you'll be ducking the flying pigs, as you skate on the icey surface of Hell.


The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant located 100 miles to the north east of Vilnius supplied 70% of Lithuania's electric power, until it was shut down under pressure from the EU. One of the leading voices in the EU for this shutdown was Chancellor Shroeder, who now works for Gazprom. South of Lithuania is the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where there are plans to build a nuclear reactor, which will produce far more power than Kaliningrad needs. The excess could be sold to Lithuania.


I wonder if it's related to the economic situation, but has anyone else noticed a sharp increase in missionary activity? I didn't notice any for years, but I have been approached several times in the last month asking if I want to learn about Jesus Christ.

Are people reacting to the economic situation by seeking solace in religion? Do they think that people in desperate circumstances will make easier converts? Will this activity increase on the downslope? What are the implications?

"you'll get pie
in the sky
when you die"

("That's a lie)

The central purpose of "religion" is to justify the ruling class to the masses (and for the few among the rulers with any conscience, to themselves). Of course the activity steps up in proportion as wealth is is transferred from the masses to the rulers.

In my religion, God is in charge of saving souls, if there is such a thing, and we don't need to worry ourselves with it. Life is too short. Our job as human beings --because we are sentient -- is to live as much as possible with awareness of the complexity of the universe, and of how little we can know in a short human lifespan. It follows that it behooves us to live as humbly as possible and create as little mayhem as we can. Naturally, I can never belong to the ruling class with an attitude like that.

I realize that Darwin said the purpose of life was to reproduce, and Genesis says that human beings should go forth, multiply and dominate the earth.

People are entitled to their own opinions, I suppose, but all of that sounds bogus to me.

I have been approached several times in the last month asking if I want to learn about Jesus Christ.

As your mode of dress changed from "middle class" to "homeless with access to clean laundry"?

Are people reacting to the economic situation by seeking solace in religion?

The God of money with the God of (insert your choice)

Do they think that people in desperate circumstances will make easier converts?

Yes. Because it does.

If one looks at life as a wave function - tops of good times and bottoms of sorrow - if you can convince someone at a bottom that if they hitch their wagon to deity they will rise. And when the rise happens *bam* God's grace! Falling *bam* The Devil!

Your problems are not your fault and tip me on the way out the door for being your guide to God's plan.

Prosperity gospel does this. You get the unsolicited mail and if you respond in your Dog's name your Dog will eventually get a book telling you how goD provides . Look at person X who got a credit card. Or Y who got a home loan. Frankly I'd been looking for miracles like the winning lotto ticket stuck to your shoe, ya know real God mojo and not some banker-scam.

Will this activity increase on the downslope?

Yes, as the people doing the preaching are looking for $.

Back to the Dog finding God. Once the dog got the 1st 3 hunks of mail and they got no 'love offerings' the mail from that preacher stopped. Meanwhile the tennents who have made 'love offerings' years ago still get mailings looking for more.

What are the implications?


Considering that The Great Recession was caused by the crimes of the super rich then the misery most of the unemployed are experiencing are not their fault. They didn't create credit default swaps and other mysterious derivatives which went belly up. The ignorant masses were sacrificed on the Altar of Mammon. Accepting that Higher Powers both good and evil do exist is the beginning of spiritual growth and finding peace of mind without materialism.

What are the implications?

Thought about this a lot (I am active in a religious org - a Buddhist one)- it means that people who do not have social connections/capital start getting them - and that helps a lot for any defined hard period of time. Quick social capital is invaluable on the downslope.

The social capital is gained at a cost of ones ability to openly defy the church structure, but in hard times a void that is left open is momentary filled.

I have not noticed an increase in evangelism. In fact, I've noticed a drop. Perhaps because they can't afford to do as much "outreach" as they used to.

However, I do think there will be an increase in religiosity as things get bad. It's been pointed out before: churches are taking over the social programs government used to offer or subsidize. Food banks, employment centers, daycare for parents so they can work, shelter for the homeless, etc. Often this help comes with an explicit or implicit requirement to attend church.

Today, The Discovery Channel is running a marathon of The Haunted, their series on "real" ghost stories. TDC is supposedly a science channel, but they've drifted far from their original premise. (I can only assume that viewers just aren't interested in science, since this has happened with all the other science cable channels, too.)

The Haunted is one of many ghost-oriented series these days, and IMO, it's the least scientific. Yeah, yeah. The "science" used on Ghost Hunters is ridiculous. But, as Discover magazine recently pointed out, their motivation is scientific, even if their methods are suspect. They want to understand. The Haunted has an explicitly Christian view. The ghosts are always assumed to be evil (and often, the haunting is caused by people practicing wicca, voodoo, etc. The solution is Christianity. (Going back to church, an exorcism by a priest, etc.) An odd show to find on a supposed science channel.

Television is not worth watching anymore, even cable. The internet rules.

American cheese.

Velveeta, and bland pabulum is the state of American Media.

You might want to read The Spirit in the Gene.

There is a section on Easter Island and an island in the Mediterranean which apparently built their stone heads and temples in the last years of their existence. The author of course theorizes that the cultures were turning to (more extreme) religious beliefs when things got tougher.

I do think this will happen in at least some areas/cultures.

This article from above by Chris Nelder: 'Officials Wake Up to Peak Oil', is all one needs to know to get updated on the subject. The article does a great job of summarizing the major events leading and recent revelations.

Agreed, Earl. This should be assigned reading for all, and I am not referring just to TOD. I printed it and handed it out to my disbelieving family members and friends. It is a real wake up call!

The link to the item on 3/5/10 is good as well... Don't recall if it was posted earlier, but here it is for those who are interested.



Yes, it should be required reading for all. You're gutsy to hand it out to friends and relatives. I'm at a point where unless they seem somewhat aware of such topics I just avoid trying to inform them, because it's usually like talking to a lump of wood. All you get is uh huh, oh really, by the way, have seen that new ad on TV about blah blah?

It's almost like there are two realities. The first is the stuff we absolutely know now, like the cost of fuel at the pumps or the weather outside and it's undeniable. The second one is fuzzier, grayer, yet is based on projections like what might happen when oil supply dwindles or the price just goes too high. If you broach the 2nd one, people can easily decide to ignore it, or interpret it their way, or reject it because it isn't identical to the first reality. In a sense they insulate themselves by holding on fast to the present.

It's kind of like you're throwing them off the lifeboat into troubled waters. They don't want to go, so they find reasons not to.

But good for you for trying and thanks for the other Nelder article link.

Revisiting Haiti and reasons for its poverty, here is something I didn't expect to see. Bill Clinton accepting that it was partly the fault of his "free trade" policies.


As many of us have been paying close attention to the long-awaited passage of health care reform last week, it was easy to miss something else that was absolutely extraordinary. Former President Bill Clinton said at a recent Senate hearing that he regrets the impact in Haiti of the free trade policies that became a hallmark of his presidency.

"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton said this month. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."

Too little.

Too late.

It is impossible for me to take seriously anything that comes out of that man's mouth.

The whole point of "free trade" is to take advantage of natural assymetries. Whether you are "for" or "against" any free trade agreement depends on where you stand. Mexican corn farmers, Haitian rice farmers or Jamaican dairy farmers don't stand a chance in the "free market" dominated by American agribusiness subsidized by American taxpayers -- who also allow their country to be degraded by industrial agricultural practices.

It just shows he could no longer ignore the issue.

It just shows he could no longer ignore the issue.

It actually shows a lot of inner strength to admit a mistake. Something we never hear from Republicans, especially GW.

W could annihalate the entire planet with nuclear bombs, then realize it wasn't an attack by China and say, "What's for lunch", with a huge smile on his face.

"I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."

And yet, I doubt President Clinton will spend a night hungry unlike many in Haiti do.

And I doubt that the effort to reverse the policies will be met with the same effort as was spent to get them enacted.

End of an era Canadian mortgage rates are going up after three years at rock bottom. These low rates have induced normally prudent Canadians to amass record amounts of debt. We're pretty well buried in red ink, especially when it comes to mortgage debt. The CMHC (Canadian version of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac) now insures a large fraction of all mortgages in Canada. This debt is backed by the Canadian taxpayer. The government essentially buys all the mortgage backed securities that the banks crank out. Who else would want it? The result has been the biggest bubble in Canadian history.

It will interesting to see how it plays out. All the real estate horror stories that we hear from our neighbor to the south are about to be repeated here. The strange thing is that very few people are aware of what is happening. The media is full of glowing stories of real-estate bliss.

For an excellent analysis see The illusive Canadian Housing Bubble (click on "Full Screen" to hide annoying advertizing)

I wonder how many of these housing bubbles there are around the world. Canada has done somewhat better than the US, but I am not sure the it can keep on forever. Canada's net oil exports are no doubt helping to prop things up.

An excellent Website on the Canadian housing bubble is:
operated by Garth Turner, a former federal Tory cabinet minister who got booted for saying things out loud that the Prime Minister preferred not to hear.

Canada's housing bubble is about where the American bubble was circa 2005. The young and stupid couples are still camping out for unbuilt condos in Toronto, although most of Calgary's condos are now underwater. The screaming will begin five years from now as Mr. and Mrs. Young-Stupid renew their mortgages and face double or triple the payments. (Canadian mortgages have maximum amortization of 30 years but banks don't lend for more than five years at a time.) Mortgages are recourse loans, so no one can just walk away from them.

Alberta's total oil production declined last year because the conventional oil depleted faster than the syncrude increased. This will probably reverse a bit as the oilsands projects that were shelved because of the Panic of 2008 are revived. Our conventional oil production is now one-third of the peak in the 1970s despite three times as many producing wells.

It appears likely then that Canada, Mexico & Venezuela (CMV) all showed (individually & collectively) year over year net export declines in 2009, just like 2008.

CMV's combined net exports fell from 5.0 mbpd in 2004 to 4.0 mbpd in 2008. Based on EIA total liquids data, and assuming no net combined increase in consumption by the three countries, it would appear that they achieved double a double digit net export decline rate last year, with estimated net exports falling to about 3.6 mbpd in 2009, a decline rate of 10.5%/year.

The net overall production decline rate for CMV from 2004 to 2009 was 2.4%/year. If we extrapolate this production decline rate out to 2020 and assume no increase in consumption, CMV's net exports would be down to 1.6 mbpd in 2020.

It appears likely then that Canada, Mexico & Venezuela (CMV) all showed (individually & collectively) year over year net export declines in 2009, just like 2008.

That's not true of Canadian exports. Canadian crude oil exports to the US (thousands of barrels per day, EIA data)

2000: 1,348
2001: 1,356
2002: 1,445
2003: 1,549
2004: 1,616
2005: 1,633
2006: 1,802
2007: 1,888
2008: 1,956

Canadian crude oil exports have been rising ever since 1981 (with occasional slight dips). It's been a kind of reverse Hubbert curve.

The reason is that since 1981 increases in oil sands and offshore oil production have more than offset declines in conventional onshore production. This trend is expected to continue, with another 1 million bpd of pipeline capacity to the US coming on-stream in 2010.

Mexico and Venezuela have accounted for all of the decline in exports by the CMV group since 2000. Both those countries showed steep falls in oil production accompanied by steep rises in domestic consumption. Canada followed neither trend, and is now by far the largest oil exporter to the US.

See Canada exports record oil volume; U. S. turns to oilsands to fill gaps for more information.

That's just US imports from Canada but even so 2009 is down on 2008

2006: 1,802
2007: 1,888
2008: 1,956

2009: 1,937

But if we look at total Canadian net exports we find they fell in 2008 as well according to the EIA

Canadian oil production in 2009 is down on 2008 according to both the EIA and IEA

Canadian oil production in 2009 is down on 2008 according to both the EIA and IEA

But according to the Canadian National Energy Board, Canadian oil production was up in 2009.

2008: 2.706 million bpd
2009: 2.726 million bpd
("oil" means light oil, heavy oil, bitumen, and condensate).

We're not dealing with big variations here. Odds are the NEB numbers are more accurate because - where are the EIA and IEA getting their data from? I could drill deeper into the numbers, but it's a lot of work. Canadian definitions are different from American ones, and Canadian data is in metric.

That's not true of Canadian exports. Canadian crude oil exports to the US (thousands of barrels per day, EIA data)

I guess you are assuming that those pesky oil importers in Eastern Canada are not part of Canada. EIA data show a year over year decline in net oil exports in 2008 (from 1.12 mbpd in 2007 to 1.09 mbpd in 2008), and almost certainly a net export decline in 2009 (unless consumption dropped enough to offset the decline in production).

EIA data:


The year-over-year numbers don't rise in a straight line - they are jumpy because new oil sands plants and offshore oil fields don't come on-stream in a smooth fashion, they come on stream in big lumps.

Also, the downturn in 2009 was much more severe in the US than in Canada, so US oil imports dropped much more than Canadian imports, and US imports from Canada didn't increase by as much as usual.

However, let's look at Canadian production statistics (National Energy Board Data):
Crude+Bitumen+Condensate, thousands of barrels per day, and % increase over 1999

Year: bbl/d - %
1999: 2,104 - 0%
2000: 2,156 - 2%
2001: 2,185 - 4%
2002: 2,156 - 2%
2003: 2,464 - 17%
2004: 2,543 - 21%
2005: 2,458 - 17%
2006: 2,622 - 25%
2007: 2,735 - 30%
2008: 2,706 - 29%
2009: 2,726 - 30%

So there has been a 30% increase in Canadian production over the last decade. Decade over decade increases have been pretty consistent for the last 3 decades and projections show the next decade will be no different - Canadian oil production should hit 3.5 to 4.0 million bpd by 2020.

Net import data can be misleading because Canada refines a lot of oil for the US, which shows as both imports of crude oil into Canada and imports of products into the US - there can be double-counting of oil involved unless you analyze the numbers carefully.

Speaking of "those pesky oil importers in Eastern Canada", the biggest oil refinery in Canada is the Irving Oil Refinery in New Brunswick. New Brunswick only has about 750,000 people, so local demand is a small part of their business. The Irving Refinery supplies about 45% of US reformulated gasoline imports, and is the only refinery on the East Coast of North American which can handle the largest Ultra-Large Crude Carriers. It caters to the American demand for "boutique" gasolines, and also the American disinclination to have huge oil refineries in their own back yards.

Just to make it more confusing, Canada also imports a lot of refined products from the US. The direction of net transfers can change from year to year. A fire at a big oil sands plant or refinery can really make a difference to the net flows of crude and products.

Cutbacks in major oil producing nations can also affect numbers, because Canadian and American oil importers don't get their crude oil from the same sources. The decrease in Mexican and Venezuelan exports really affected US refineries, but didn't make much difference in Canada.

It's really not confusing. Net oil exports are defined as domestic total liquids production less domestic total liquids consumption. EIA data showed several years of increases in Canadian net oil exports, then a decline in 2008, which probably continued into 2009.

Here is the broader context with BP data from the Energy Export Databrowser. Yes, there are year-to-year ups and downs but the decade long trend is toward higher production, higher consumption and marginally higher exports

It takes more than three data points to say much about trends or argue that they are changing. When using annual data I think a decade would be the minimum amount of time over which to talk about trends. If you want to talk about what's been happening in the last two years then you need to use monthly data.

-- Jon

The combined CMV net export decline has been going on for a while, and accelerating. Their combined net export peak was in 1997, at 5.3 mbpd (EIA). As noted above, they were down to 4.0 mbpd in 2008, and (assuming flat consumption) down to about 3.6 mbpd in 2009.

Default rates on mortgages are at an all-time low in Canada, but the Canadian government is concerned and is tightening the rules on mortgages. Owners now require a minimum of 10% down, and investors 20% down, to get a government-backed mortgage. They will also have a new credit test - they have to meet the qualifications for a 5-year fixed rate mortgage even if they are taking out a mortgage with a lower monthly rate.

The new rules take effect April 16. See Mortgage changes to tighten approvals

Mortgages are recourse loans, so no one can just walk away from them.

Rules vary by province. In Alberta, you can just walk away. Banks don't like to talk about that.

I wonder how many of these housing bubbles there are around the world. Canada has done somewhat better than the US, but I am not sure the it can keep on forever. Canada's net oil exports are no doubt helping to prop things up.

The Australian bubble continues to inflate, with extraordinary house and land prices. Demand for new suburban developments around the major cities remains unrelenting - there is an estimated housing unit shortage of some 160,000, while population growth (through both births and immigration) remains very robust.

Housing affordability in Australia is now some of the worst in the world, with median metropolitan housing prices (at $A500,000 plus) about ten times average full-time earnings. Interest rates are increasing almost monthly, as the Reserve Bank worries about an over-heated economy, and resultant inflation, even though unemployment remains low. No bubble yet, no price slumps, and very few foreclosures ... but there are them what says there will be!

It has been posted some days ago, but I think it is helpful to do it again: Peak Oil Theory vs. Reality. By Dmitry Orlov.

Just check slide 2:

Global oil production peaks and declines gradually; slow growth
Alternative and renewable energy ramps up to compensate
Challenging economic environment, many social and political problems

Massive spikes in oil prices crash financial markets and kill growth
No money for alternatives or further oil exploration and production
Financial, commercial, political collapse followed by something completely different


Reality? It's a prediction.

I agree. Orlov is writing an Opera with his absolutes. (and y'all know how I love those absolutes..)

The reality has been more severe already, I will concur, but things like "No money for renewables" is actually LESS money for renewables, etc... - fitting, since "Less" will be an operative word in the coming years.


A Chinese coal carrier out of Gladstone has run aground on a part of the Great Barrier Reef.A fuel tank has been ruptured and there is a heavy oil spill.

This is not the first time that Chinese,or Chinese crewed ships have polluted Queensland shores.Last year a container ship lost about 30 boxes overboard in a storm off the Sth Qld coast.One of them pierced a fuel tank resulting in a large oil spill. It took weeks to cleanup previously pristine beaches and affected wildlife.

It appears that the Chinese have about as much regard for the environment of other countries as they do their own.

Net Coal Exports from Australia through 2007 (trillions of BTU's, EIA):

The Chinese environmental ethic cannot be defended, but your comments are analogous to those of a lady of the night complaining of the clap she caught from one of her patrons.

At least the lady of the night is making an honest living.

The ship was there because someone was selling them coal, right?

You are all correct in your own way.Nobody could be more anti-coal than I am,both for export and for domestic power generation.

However,the issue here is the diligence,sense of responsibility and competence of ship owner and crew,not the cargo.The coal carrier was 15 nautical miles off course.

It is the owners responsibility to employ competent masters and crew.It is the master's responsibility to set a correct course and to ensure that cargo is properly secured.

It is increasingly apparent that the Chinese in general are not only incompetent but uncaring as well.

It is increasingly apparent that the Chinese in general are not only incompetent but uncaring as well.

Rather holier-than-thou I expect, thirra. We can hardly boast about our environmental record over the past - oh - 222 years. It has been truly appalling in so many ways, that I won't list them.

And I was pretty surprised (to put in mildly) to hear today that neither Queensland nor the GBRMPA insists on an Australian officer being on board all ships travelling in-shore of the Great Barrier Reef. In fact I am astounded, and I also expect that ships like this one do it routinely - get off course and take short-cuts, and get away with it all the time as well, unless they run aground. What would it cost us to have pilots - a few million a year? A drop in the ocean compared to the entire coal export take, and the Barrier Reef would have some protection.

We are as slack and delinquent as the Chinese, I'm afraid.

It is increasingly apparent that the Chinese in general are not only incompetent but uncaring as well.

It is increasingly apparent to me that only reason we have got as far as we have done with BAU is because of Chinese coal consumption.