Drumbeat: April 10, 2010

Unbearable lightness?: To make cars frugal, they will have to become lighter—and more expensive

WHEN it comes to motor vehicles there is widespread belief—at least in America—that bigger is not only better, but safer too. The assumption is that nothing beats having lots of steel around you in a crash. And it is true, to some extent. All things being equal, the driver of a large SUV (sports-utility vehicle) is less likely to be killed than the driver of a small car in a head-on collision between the two. The downside is that SUV drivers are far more likely than car drivers to die in solitary roll-over accidents induced by the vehicle’s own weight, its high centre of gravity and its truck-like suspension. Collisions with other SUVs can be deadlier still.

An excess of heavy metal imposes other penalties. American motorists are as aware as any that weight is the enemy of fuel economy. However, with pump prices low by international standards, the trade-off between safety and fuel consumption has understandably favoured the former. Adding air-bags, anti-lock brakes, stability control and side-impact beams has saved countless lives, but it has increased vehicle weights disproportionately. Cars and light trucks on American roads today are 30% heavier than they were in the mid-1980s.

OPEC Trims Output by 10,000 B/D from Feb - Survey

The 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) crude oil production output averaged 29.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in March, down 10,000 b/d from February's estimated 29.31 million b/d, according to a just-released Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts.

Saudi oil and gas demand to rise: Report

Saudi Arabia will account for 21.51 per cent of the Middle East oil demand by 2014, while providing a dominant 39.35 per cent of supply, according to a new report.

The latest Saudi Arabia Oil & Gas Report forecast published by Companies and Markets.com said on the regional oil use of 8.11 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2001 rose to an estimated 11.38 million b/d in 2009.

Pemex To Redevelop Older Fields Using New Technology--Calderon

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)-Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Friday that the first incentive-based contracts tendered by state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, under a 2008 energy reform will be for mature fields that have the potential to produce more oil and gas using new technologies.

State-owned China firm competes with U.S. firm for Red Sea energy project

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia is preparing to launch an energy exploration project in the Red Sea.

Industry sources said the state-owned Saudi Aramco would issue an award for exploration of the Red Sea by mid-2010.

Shell gets key Alaska permit for Beaufort drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc has been granted a long-awaited federal air-quality permit the oil company needs to conduct exploratory drilling this year in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, government officials said late on Friday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the permit to Shell to cover air pollutants emitted from the drill ship and fleet of support vessels that the company plans to mobilize to drill two exploratory wells on leases 16 to 22 miles offshore from Alaska's northern coast.

Russia may lend $5-6 bln to Ukraine for nuclear build

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday Russia may lend $5-6 billion to Ukraine to construct two nuclear reactors, while promising to consider a new deal on gas supply prices.

"We discussed co-operation on nuclear energy ... a possibility is to lend $5-6 billion to construct the third and fourth reactors for Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Station," Putin said after a meeting with Ukraine's new Prime Minister Mykola Azarov at Moscow's Vnukovo Airport.

BP investors to rebel over big payouts

BP faces a shareholder backlash next week after it 'moved the goalposts' in order to hand its top team multi-million pound payouts.

The energy giant will also be hit by an investor resolution attacking it for failing to be more transparent about its controversial oil sands strategy.

Pipeline or pipedream?

The energy crisis Pakistan confronts has proved devastating for the economy and, along with cancelled orders on account of the recession, has brought about a near meltdown. The impact on the daily lives of the populace is no less severe. The figures speak for themselves. The electricity shortage has now reached 4,000MW and nearly 40% of the populace have to make do without electricity. Only 18% of the populace have access to pipeline gas for cooking and heating. Merely by converting from oil to gas piped from Iran our existing power facilities would add 25% more to their power output owing to the enhanced efficiency of generators powered by gas. Hence, Iranian gas is a vital need. Such an agreement should, in fact, have been concluded much earlier, and probably would have been, had our leaders a mite more sense.

Zardari calls for US help to overcome energy crisis

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday asked the US to assist Pakistan in energy technologies to help the country overcome its energy crisis, hoping that the recently concluded Pak-US strategic dialogue would help translate bilateral relationship between the two countries into a long-term partnership based on respect and trust.

Imagining a world without oil: an interview with James Howard Kunstler

In The Long Emergency, a book I remember making a small media storm upon its release in 2005, author James Howard Kunstler invites us to imagine a world in which oil supply is highly contested, and eventually, a world in which oil might no longer be readily available at all.

We might be closer to this world than we’d like to think. This February, one of the world’s most famous beneficiaries of cheap oil, transportation-tycoon-slash-media-mogul, Richard Branson, the goateed British billionaire, delivered a stern wake-up call to his national government.

U.S. Navy holds 6 suspected pirates after battle

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy is holding six suspected pirates after a sea battle off the Horn of Africa.

It's the third U.S. Navy encounter with pirates in the past 10 days in the violence-plagued waters off Somalia and nearby regions. At least 21 suspected pirates have been captured.

Solar-Powered Products in Haiti

Although poverty in Haiti has been amplified by the recent earthquake, the country still has plenty of one thing, and it’s free: sunshine. In this, solar companies have seen both a chance to show goodwill and an opportunity to give their businesses a boost.

'Green' jobs called catalyst for stronger economy

Trumka, a former coal miner from Pennsylvania, was the keynote speaker at the Industrial and Labor Relations School's Union Days 2010, which has the theme, "Building a Green Collar Movement: Labor and the Environment."

Trumka said, "We're told time and time again that we have to choose between good jobs and good air and clean water. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can't have secure jobs without stable and sustainable sources of energy. We will never have responsible energy and environmental policies without a strong and growing economy. It can't exist."

Wind industry: the biggest creator of employment worldwide

“Since 2005, the wind industry has created more jobs that any other industrial sector worldwide”. This is just one of many significant findings of the latest World Wind Energy Report 2009, prepared by the Wind Energy Association (WWEA). 550,000 people are currently employed in the sector.

WWEA forecasts that the number of people employed in the wind industry will rise to 670,000 by the end of 2010, and is expected to reach 1 million by 2012. In 2005, 235,000 people were employed in the sector.

Mexico regulator slams Pemex Chicontepec plans

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's newly-created oil and gas regulator issued a report that was highly critical of the country's flagship oil project on Friday, calling the Chicontepec development rushed and decades away from profitability.

State oil monopoly Pemex has poured more than $4.5 billion into Chicontepec in a bid to make the unconventional field a major oil producer. It also aims to offset the decline of Mexico's main oil fields in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico that threatens to turn the country from one of the United States' main crude suppliers into a net oil importer before 2020.

However, production levels at Chicontepec have fallen far short of targets despite Pemex drilling hundreds of wells in the area in recent years.

U.S. sets tariff of up to 99 percent on imports of Chinese oil field pipes

The Commerce Department imposed penalties Friday of up to 99 percent on imports of oil field pipe from China, the latest in a growing list of duties slapped on Chinese products found to be unfairly priced.

Nigerians kidnap three Syrians and Lebanese

LAGOS: Armed men have kidnapped three Syrians and a Lebanese working in the construction sector in Nigeria's oil-rich southern region, killing a policeman in the attack, police said yesterday.

About 10 or more kidnappers, all armed with automatic weapons, fired many rounds. The hoodlums kidnapped four expatriate workers-three Syrians and one Lebanese," said police spokeswoman Rita Abbey.

INTERVIEW - Suzlon bullish on China despite cost pressure

BOAO, China (Reuters) - Competition has got tougher for foreign wind power manufacturers in China, but Indian turbine maker Suzlon Energy still expects to increase its market share as it further cuts costs, the company's managing director said.

"By reducing prices we expect Suzlon will get more business in China in the next two or three years," Tulsi Tanti, who is also company chairman, said on the sidelines of the Boao Forum in the southern island province of Hainan.

China, Denmark pledge joint efforts to tackle climate change, upgrade ties

BOAO, Hainan (Xinhua) -- China and Denmark Saturday pledged to work closely on fighting climate change and cementing bilateral relations.

The pledge came out of the meeting between Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen on the sidelines of the annual session of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), a pan-Asian platform for dialogue on key issues affecting Asia and the world.

Tipping Point Not Likely for Arctic Sea Ice

A late-winter expansion of Arctic sea ice is a good example of ice-forming dynamics that could keep the Arctic from hitting a “tipping point” in the near future.

Some scientists have predicted that rising temperatures could create a runaway feedback loop in the Arctic. Sunlight-reflecting ice sheets would give way to sunlight-absorbing water, driving up temperatures and melting even more ice. The Arctic climate would change so dramatically that winter ice couldn’t form again, producing planet-wide ripples in weather patterns.

But some research suggests that other, previously underappreciated forces may stabilize the melt before it’s complete. The Arctic will soon be ice-free in summer, and winter ice will decline, but it won’t suddenly become permanently ice-free.

“Everyone thought there would be a tipping point,” said Dirk Notz, a Max Planck Institute climate scientist. “But that’s too simple.”

Agricultural Apocalypse 2010

When a large segment of the population is facing a drastic cut in income in the face of escalating food prices we have a catastrophic problem in the making. Today we have the simultaneous events of income deflation and food inflation; two high-speed express trains coming down that tracks at each other, a financial crisis colliding with staggering crop losses, which are cutting deeply into available planetary food reserves. Prices of food are again beginning to soar again just as millions are losing the ability to afford a reasonable diet, though little of this is being observed or reported. But soon even the blind will see.

China Boosts Oil Imports 29%, Remains Net Fuel Buyer

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, increased March crude oil imports by 29 percent from a year earlier and remained a net importer of fuel as the country’s economic recovery drove demand.

Crude imports reached 21.1 million metric tons, or 4.98 million barrels a day, preliminary data released by the General Administration of Customs showed today. Net imports were 20.8 million tons, second only to December’s record 20.9 million tons.

Exports of Chinese-made goods rose 24.3 percent in March, spurring fuel consumption by factories. China may post a new all-time high for crude imports this year as a resurgent economy drives fuel-demand growth, an estimate from China National Petroleum Corp. showed on Feb. 4.

Oil, Gasoline Decline on Signals That Fuel Supplies Will Climb

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell to a one-week low and gasoline declined on speculation that U.S. stockpiles of the fuel will surge as refineries bolster processing rates.

U.S. plants operated at 84.5 percent of capacity last week, the highest level since October, the Energy Department said on April 7. Futures climbed earlier today as the dollar slipped on signals that Greece, Europe’s most indebted nation, will get a bailout to avert a default.

Oil May Fall as U.S. Inventories Gain, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil may decline next week as rising U.S. inventories and prices near an 18-month high curb fuel demand, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Twenty of 40 analysts, or 50 percent, forecast oil will drop through April 16. Twelve respondents, or 30 percent, predicted that futures will increase and eight said the contract will be little changed. Last week, 45 percent of analysts said there would be a decrease in prices.

The North scrapes bottom

Now people are leaving, businesses are looking for work elsewhere, and both executives and leaders warn that the NWT could find itself severely pinched in the years to come. A push to create a diamond-polishing industry has largely failed, with only a few remaining polishers left in Yellowknife. Efforts to boost tourism have similarly floundered.

Many have lost hope that the Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline, which was seen as the territory's ticket to self-sufficiency, will be built any time soon.

As for the dwindling diamonds, both Diavik and BHP Billiton's Ekati, the other big mine, officially will stay open for another decade. But executives privately worry that operations will be scaled back as early as 2016.

“I would draw the analogy to harvesting an animal,” says Bob Gannicott, the chairman and chief executive officer of Harry Winston Diamond Corp., the luxury retailer that owns a 40-per-cent stake of Diavik. (The 60 per cent owned by mining giant Rio Tinto PLC.) “We've already had the T-bone steak and we've already had the prime rib roast of this particular animal. We now have to move on to the hamburger and the chuck steak.”

Iran will not beg to avoid sanctions: Ahmadinejad

(Reuters) - Iran's president said on Thursday he would not plead with opponents of Tehran's nuclear program in order to avoid sanctions as Russia and the United States said new measures might be necessary.

Natural gas potential assessed in Eastern Mediterranean

An estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) (mean estimate) of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas are in the Levant Basin Province, located in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Technically recoverable resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices.

This is the first U.S. Geological Survey assessment of this basin to identify potentially extractable resources.

West Virginia Mine Death Toll at 29, Worst Since 1970

(Bloomberg) -- Search teams found the final four victims of the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years, after an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine earlier this week that had already claimed 25 lives and injured two other workers.

The April 5 disaster at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, was the worst since 1970, when a Kentucky explosion killed 38 miners.

Massey’s Blankenship Fought Regulators, Town, Maid as Coal CEO

(Bloomberg) -- Don Blankenship, chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., has fought with mine regulators, unions, residents of his town and even his personal maid.

His company regularly appeals fines for safety infractions. He has personally gone into mines to persuade workers to abandon union organizing efforts. Massey is fighting lawsuits that claim it contaminated groundwater in Blankenship’s town. A maid supplied by a company she claimed was a Massey unit was forced to fight all the way to West Virginia’s highest court to collect unemployment benefits.

Russia gas price lowering to allow Ukraine save $4 bln annually - PM

KIEV (Itar-Tass) - The lowering of prices on imported natural gas for Ukraine will allow the country to save about 4 billion US dollar annually, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said on Friday in a television show of the Inter channel.

“The issue of the gas price is vitally important for us. If we fail to agree with Russia we will face very serious difficulties,” the government head noted. In his view, with the preservation of the current gas prices the country in 2010 will not be able to reach the targeted GDP growth volume of 3.7 percent, and the economy will again be in recess.

BP oil sands resolution gains support

CALGARY -- A number of money management firms from around the world, including 35 in North America, have thrown their support behind a lobby group's shareholder resolution asking BP plc to provide more information regarding their oil sands operations.

Canadian, Australian, and Swedish funds are now backing the campaign launched by U.S. and British money managers.

Stranded Chinese Ship Remains on Australian Reef, Xinhua Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese coal ship grounded on a reef off the coast of northeast Australia will remain there for a few more days before being refloated, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh.

Great Barrier Reef at Risk as Coal-Ship Traffic May Jump 67%

(Bloomberg) -- The corals, whales and giant clams of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are in the path of a “coal highway” to China that may see shipments jump 67 percent by 2016, increasing the threat of an ecological disaster after a coal carrier ran aground last week.

After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Towards Social Collapse?

What exactly are the implications? In Life After Growth, Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, states, "In effect, we have to create a desirable 'new normal' that fits the constraints imposed by depleting natural resources. Maintaining the 'old normal' is not an option; if we do not find new goals for ourselves and plan our transition from a growth-based economy to a healthy equilibrium economy, we will by default create a much less desirable 'new normal' whose emergence we are already beginning to see in the forms of persistent high unemployment, a widening gap between rich and poor, and ever more frequent and worsening financial and environmental crises—all of which translate to profound distress for individuals, families, and communities."

In other words, we collectively have to stop our delusions about perpetual economic growth and find another way to live from this point forward. We need to stop pretending that all is well because our myopic view of life shows no oil or other major shortfalls in the very near future. If we do not face up to the truth, the repercussions are clear.

Bill McKibben issues an urgent call to action

Among the obvious moves people can make are planting a backyard garden and supporting a local farmer or farmers' market. But McKibben also urges people to think about big steps rather than small ones: "Think commodities that really count: food, energy and culture. Those are what we need to re-localize." (Not completely, he adds — world music and curry powder are okay — but we do have to "reverse the trajectory we've been on.")

Coal barons to (finally) testify before Congress

Well now isn't this interesting.

Throughout the seemingly endless battle over climate-change legislation, not once have the folks behind the biggest source of climate pollution -- coal executives -- been asked to publicly account for their industry's role. Now it looks like they will.

China Economy Needs to Be More Energy Efficient, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- China needs to become more energy and resource efficient after being the world's biggest emitter of carbon and sulfur dioxides last year, said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of the nation's economic planning agency.

China will cut energy and resource intensity by promoting technical innovation and encouraging investments by energy- efficient foreign companies, Zhang said today at the Boao Forum for Asia. The nation accounted for 8 percent of the world economy in 2009, while using 18 percent of global energy, 44 percent of steel and 53 percent of cement, he said.

Electricity price rises a concern to industry

Manufacturing companies will meet Ontario energy ministry officials next week to voice increased concern about rising electricity prices after 184 renewable power contracts were awarded this week.

South Korea and Japan streets ahead in smart transport

For more than a decade, South Korea and Japan have been rolling out their world-leading ITS, pouring money and political capital into ideas beyond the carpool lane.

Drivers race through expressway toll gates as their wireless wallet pays the fee, while GPS updates in half of South Korea's 17 million registered cars tell them how many minutes delay they can expect and how to take a faster route. Public buses are fitted with shrieking dashboard road-nannies that help drivers stay on schedule. Millions of passengers seamlessly transfer using the ubiquitous T-Money travel card, finding their next bus or subway train on up-to-the minute electronic schedules.

"Our transportation life in Korea has much improved -- and our quality of life as well," Kee Yeon Hwang, the director of the Korea Transport Institute (KOTI), the South Korean government's official research arm for transportation, told CNN.

Food Groups Clash Over Compost Sludge

Alice Waters, a pioneering chef and the matriarch of the sustainable food movement, has become an unlikely target in a battle being waged by food activists in San Francisco over a city program that converts sewage sludge into gardening compost.

Several nonprofit groups want the city to stop distributing its “biosolids compost,” which contains solid waste that is treated and removed during wastewater processing, because they say it can contain potentially harmful substances like heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and flame retardants and should not be used on gardens and agricultural land.

If All Chinese Had Wheels (Dennis Pirages and Paul Ehrlich)

I believe this article is as timely today as when it was published 38 years ago. Nothing but the numbers has changed.

Cellulosic ethanol: Expanding options, identifying obstacles

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are figuring out how to turn wheat straw into ethanol "gold," and learning more about the bacteria that can "infect" ethanol plants and interfere with fuel production.

Reversal on Fuel Cells in California

The administrative law judge, Dorothy J. Duda, found the $43 million cost of the projects, which would be financed by the utilities’ customers, to be excessive.

“It is unreasonable to spend three times the price paid to renewable generation for the proposed Fuel Cell Projects, which are nonrenewable and fueled by natural gas,” she wrote in a proposed ruling. “In addition, the applications do not satisfactorily address how full ratepayer funding of utility-owned fuel-cell generation would enhance private market investment and market transformation of the fuel-cell industry.”

But on Thursday, commissioners adopted an alternative proposal by the president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Michael R. Peevey, that lowered the total cost of the fuel-cell projects to $39.4 million, plus $18 million for operation and maintenance costs and $26 million in fuel costs over 10 years.

Does Paul Krugman Vastly Understate the Economic Argument for Climate Action?

He ultimately concludes that it is "the nonnegligible probability of utter disaster that should dominate our policy analysis."

But that falls into the trap that we've been encountering continuously in the discussion of climate change and planetary boundaries, the trap of downplaying the potential consequences in order to appear more reasonable in an American debate that's been distorted out of any relationship to reality.

Bolivia, Ecuador denied climate funds

You can decide to boycott the Copenhagen Accord -- but that comes at a price. For Bolivia, that's $3 million; for Ecuador, it's $2.5 million.

...After reassessing the budget, State has decided to deny both Bolivia and Ecuador climate assistance. Since all these funding decisions are subject to congressional concurrence, the process is not complete, but it clearly reflects administration policy.

"There's funding that was agreed to as part of the Copenhagen Accord, and as a general matter, the U.S. is going to use its funds to go to countries that have indicated an interest to be part of the Accord," said U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern in an interview. He added this policy test was "not categorical," so some nations that declined to sign on could still obtain circumstances.

The EIA’s latest International Petroleum Monthly came out yesterday with the production numbers for January. There were no big changes or surprises. World C+C production was up 190 to 73,228 thousand barrels per day. OPEC was up 234 kb/d to 31,088 kb/d and non-OPEC was down 43 kb/d to 42,140 kb/d.

Of non-OPEC producers only China had significant gains, up 105 kb/d and only the UK had a significant drop, down 108 kb/d. Most OPEC nations had small gains with Iraq up the most, 100 kb/d and Angola and Venezuela were up 50 kb/d each.

World “All Liquids” production was up 180 kb/d to 85,529 kb/d. OPEC liquids were up 258 kb/d to 34,477 kb/d and non-OPEC liquids were down 78 kb/d to 51,052 kb/d.

For those wondering about non-OPEC production; there have been 15 months with higher production than this report since December 2003. The real big surprises in non-OPEC nations have been U.S. and Russia, non-OPEC’s two largest producers. New projects in the GOM and Eastern Siberia have given both these nations a considerable boost in production. So far it looks like the US peaked, (post Katrina), in December, 2009 and Russia in March of this year. (That is my opinion anyway.)

I am of the opinion that non-OPEC C+C production will be slightly higher this year than last but still considerably lower than the peak year of 2004. At any rate, this year will be the last hurrah for non-OPEC production. Even the EIA and the IEA are predicting a non-OPEC “All Liquids” peak this year.

Ron P.

Thanks for this reminder.
Eyeballing UK's January 2010 number at 1.202 mbd and compared to January 2009 at 1.425 it gives an 'interesting' 16% drop. That's a new YoY percentage-wise record, flowers are under way.
If this is a symptom for the full year I reckon tha Brits have to import at least 16% more oil this year, no? Good luck with the upcoming elections - so "Whats it gonna be .... Ghost-Busters... or Oil-Boosters?"

Just looking at one month's production numbers often does not give an accurate indication of decline or gain. Looking at the whole year's production numbers usually gives you a much better picture. The UK's year over year decline, 2008 to 2009, was 9.5 percent. That is not a pretty picture.

Ron P.

As of now the IEA forecasts a drop in UK production of 10% in 2010 against 2009 (1.47 mb/day to 1.32 mb/day).

Ok Ron and Undertow.. point of course understood, but Undertow, I'm looking at EIA's numbers- not IEA's. They're counting some sort of "different" barrels (IEA includes Liquids), ref. Rembrandt's Monthly.

If you eyeball EIAs numbers for UK over the last ten years- and focus only the month of January (YoY as I did) you'll see a tendency. The months Jan-Feb-Mars are as a rule of thumb the most productive every year since y 2000.
For the whole of this decade -from eyeballing and head-calculus only- January_"this"_year vs. January_"previous"_year will show a less than or around 10% decline, except for year 2004 yoy 2005 at -12% and now again -16% .....
... If ... never mind ... I know what I'm thinking of, I'll keep it to myself :-)

Some UK production which has been shut in because of technical problems is now back online. According to the IEA, UK liquids production increased from 1.36 in January to 1.44 mb/day in February.

My apologies, my above figures are wrong. I was looking at 2009 verses 2010 instead of 2008 verses 2009 and using January's figures for 2010. I keep a different Spreadsheet for yearly data and the current year's data is the average for all the months of the current year so far. Unfortunantly 2010 only has one month so far. Anyway...

The corrected data for 2008 verses 2009 is a decline of 4.57 percent. The UK peaked in 1999 and the average yearly decline for the those 10 years, 1999 to 2009, has been 6.64%. That is not counting any declines in 2010.

The total decline since 1999 is more alarming. In 1999 the UK produced 2,684,000 barrels per day. In 2009 they produced 1,328,000 barrels per day. That is a decline of 50.53 percent. The below figures are in thousands of barrels per day.

            Production  Change  Percent Change
1999 Average 	2,684		
2000 Average 	2,275	-409	-15.24%
2001 Average 	2,282	   7	  0.32%
2002 Average 	2,292	   9	  0.41%
2003 Average	2,093	-199	 -8.66%
2004 Average	1,845	-248	-11.84%
2005 Average	1,649	-197	-10.66%
2006 Average 	1,490	-158	 -9.61%
2007 Average	1,498	   8	  0.52%
2008 Average	1,391	-107	 -7.12%
2009 Average	1,328	 -64	 -4.57%
2010 Average	1,202		      January only, not counted in totals.
Average			         -6.64%
2009 minus 1999	      -1,356	 -50.53%

Ron P.

The corrected data for 2008 verses 2009 is a decline of 4.57 percent. The UK peaked in 1999 and the average yearly decline for the those 10 years, 1999 to 2009, has been 6.64%. That is not counting any declines in 2010.

Using IEA data for liquids we see

2008 1.56
2009 1.47
2010 1.32 (projected)

A decline of 5.8% from 2008 to 2009

The projected decline of 10.2% for this year is bad enough. As our natural gas production is declining faster than crude production, I presume we are losing the NGL portion of "liquids" faster than the crude portion.

In the event folks were napping last week, there was a rather unusual spate of record warm days in the US. Here's a link so some comments I posted on the WaPo Blog, PostCarbon. There was also a note on Accuweather which I think didn't capture the full impact of the event...

E. Swanson

Why people have a predisposition to base their opinions on anecdotal information remains a mystery but I guess we have to forever contend with it. I reason from the point of view that we should only consider ensemble information and never get swayed by the odd anecdote.

Recently I have looked at variations in temperature and rainfall and have found some interesting differences to the size of fluctuations typically expected. For a given region, temperature fluctuations follow a Normal or Gaussian distribution much more than rainfall does. That means that the range in temperatures expected is pretty narrow with the standard deviation much smaller than the average. That is generally expected as a consequence of the central limit theorem. On the other hand, rainfall variations are basically at the maximum entropy level with the mean alone generating the entire spread of observations. A typical rainfall histogram looks like this:

The line is a maximum entropy fit that includes the physics of preferential attachment. The amount of rainfall can vary all over the map, as people are used to experiencing. This is not a Gaussian curve but close to a Sigmoid or Logistic-type of curve as fitted.

Besides the topic being fascinating, the main point is that fluctuations in temperature may be more significant a measure in climate shifts than fluctuations in rainfall. The hard part is trying to distinguish the statistically expected fluctuations from those caused by fundamental changes in the climate. Trying to extract the signal from the "noise" may be easier for temperature than for rainfall (or snowfall).

BTW, that rainfall fit is a great example of how to model something that ostensibly follows a Logistic-style variation, but doesn't use the discredited Verhulst equations that everyone seems to think should be applied to achieve a Sigmoid solution. Just like rainfall fluctuations, oil discovery is not based on deterministic phenomenon. Neither one of these should use Verhulst equations which is a purely deterministic. Most geologists and oil depletion analysts of course are completely clueless about fluctuations for exactly the same reason -- they tend to look at everything from a deterministic perspective and think in those terms, not realizing that the fundamentals are all about dispersion and variability.

I agree that precipitation data is not likely to be as good an indicator of climate change as temperature data. My comments were directed at the fact that there were a large number of record high maximum temperatures recorded since the end of March. The NCDC data includes only stations with records longer than 30 years and many of the stations have data spanning much longer periods, a few more than 100 years, thus these records would appear to be important, if not "significant" in a statistical sense.

Of course, there is variation in the time series, since there are known to be several sources for variation, such as the El Nino/La Nina oscillation and changes in solar output, related to the sunspot record. First of all, though, is the basic source of variation in the temperate regions, the annual cycle. If one plots the daily data over the yearly cycle, the range about the daily averages are quite narrow, in spite of the impacts of the other known sources of variation. This may be seen more clearly if one removes the annual cycle, showing that the bands formed by the extremes. Since I think we may expect that the Earth's warming to continue, I also expect that, on occasion, more record high temperatures will be the result. That would be the result of the impacts of changes in the timing of the seasons (which now lag the annual solar forcing), added to an overall upward trend in temperatures.

I presented a paper back in 1987 (or was it '88?) in which I attempted to quantify this for one station, but never published my efforts. Others have since done similar work using many more station time series, which indicate a trend toward more frequent record high temperatures.

E. Swanson

Considering what you say, I see that there are a few possibilities which create new record temperatures

1. Typical statistical fluctuations (+ or - equally)
2. Actual change in the mean giving the fluctuation a bias (this can only go in one direction)
3. Change in the climate which exaggerates the severity of the fluctuations (+ or - equally likely until the mean starts shifting significantly)

If all the new temperature records go in one direction (high T), it seems it would support #2.
But we also see evidence of lows and highs so only #3 would also support climate change but it is hard to distinguish between #1 and #3 unless someone looks very closely at the data.

4. El Niño and other such longer-term cycles, on top of which the daily-timescale fluctuations ride. + records more likely to be broken in local warm phase, - records in cool phase. Statistical distribution of range of such cycles essentially uncharacterized since scientific record is simply too short to sample them with any significance.

5. "Excess" breakage of records due to fatness (and possibly even asymmetry) of tails being underestimated due to Gaussian-based implicit assumptions. Effect not necessarily equally + and -. Uncharacterized fatness of tails partly related to (4).

#4 maybe.

#5 definitely not since it is redundant with #1 above.

Temperature variation is very Gaussian because it is measured on an absolute scale from 0 degrees Kelvin and the typical temperature fluctuations depending on the season are at most +/- 30 around a mean of 300. This makes the central limit theorem very applicable and asymmetry would be very difficult to detect. If you could do this reliably, I would be very interested to know your technique.

In southern Wisconsin, we had a couple of warm days, particularly last Monday. Then on Thursday it snowed into the early daylight hours, a couple of inches in some areas. Just another Spring. Yawn.

The nyah-nyah over the random vagaries of weather often seems a bit pointless. After all, there are tens of thousands of local daily records across the country, collected over a mere 130 years or so, waiting to be broken. Occasional breakage of a few means nothing. The distribution of highs and lows is surely fat-tailed, not Gaussian, so we cannot possibly have any empirical notion of what the tails really look like from such an absurdly small number of years - especially since there are strong correlations introduced by El Niño and other such cycles. We might as well claim we can tell whether a coin is honest by tossing it 130 times - or, rather, about 5 times once we consider the correlations.

I suppose the excuse for this futile fuss must be AGW, as usual. If so, then with respect to empirical data - which is what set it off - wake me up when something definitive (i.e. far enough outside the rather expansive error bars that it clearly couldn't have happened without AGW) occurs with respect to climate (i.e. longer-term averages.) Otherwise we're just dealing in arcane speculation, and back to the napping. Zzzzzz...

And that is exactly why I pushed the discussion in the direction I did based on Black_Dog's anecdotes.

The distribution of highs and lows is surely fat-tailed, not Gaussian, so we cannot possibly have any empirical notion of what the tails really look like from such an absurdly small number of years - especially since there are strong correlations introduced by El Niño and other such cycles. We might as well claim we can tell whether a coin is honest by tossing it 130 times - or, rather, about 5 times once we consider the correlations.

That is a misguided view IMO. One can just about prove that the distribution is Gaussian and definitely not fat-tailed. The example I always like to bring up are places like Hawaii and Florida. According to "Extreme weather: a guide & record book", Tampa has never reached 100F and in Hawaii, only a single station has ever reached 100F. If fat-tails were in order (according to generally accepted definition of what a fat-tail is), then you would get many excursions beyond 100 and then into 110 and beyond. But the distribution is actually quite tight. You can say this is due to the heat capacity of the ocean limiting the excursions, but that is exactly what temperature measures. My point is that if you wanted to create a PDF for Hawaii temperatures in July, nothing would come close to beating a Normal distribution.

So you may be right in your intuition but not from any rigor in your assertions.

I suppose the excuse for this futile fuss must be AGW, as usual. If so, then with respect to empirical data - which is what set it off - wake me up when something definitive (i.e. far enough outside the rather expansive error bars that it clearly couldn't have happened without AGW) occurs with respect to climate (i.e. longer-term averages.) Otherwise we're just dealing in arcane speculation, and back to the napping. Zzzzzz...

Empirical data is data that is produced by experiment or observation. So I don't know quite understand the beef here.

One can just about prove that the distribution is Gaussian and definitely not fat-tailed.

That's a rather grandiose conclusion to jump to based on the mere 25 or so El Niño cycles, superposed on several other similar cycles, covered (partly, anyway) by proper observations. One can't see even out to two or three sigma (what a joke, in order merely to discuss this without writing a lengthy thesis, I used "sigma", all but inviting readers to haul in Gaussian assumptions about the improbability of reaching, say, four sigma), although one can certainly speculate based on models that will yield a variety of answers. (Sure, one can see out a bit into the tails of the short term noise, but the record-breaking is based on the short term noise plus long term noise that we have sampled independently only on the order of 25 times. And that's to say nothing of jet-stream position, which seems to shift or even split on the order of once in six or eight weeks, giving us lengthy hot and cold spells, and is sampled somewhat independently on that scale.)

Tampa has never reached 100F...

Yes, over a mere 130 years or thereabouts, i.e. a small number of the various longer-term cycles. So what? In addition, one may often expect to see less noise at locations on oceanic coasts. Both the summers and winters in, say, Wellington, New Zealand, are far less brutal (and far less noisy) than those in Chicago, at roughly the same latitude (in the opposite direction of course), due to the enormous thermal inertia of oceanic waters.

Empirical data is data that is produced by experiment or observation. So I don't ... quite understand the beef here.

The only beef here is that there is essentially no statistically significant empirical data because the measurement period is (unavoidably) absurdly short, giving an absurdly small number of independent samples, where independent means uncorrelated, which means not just on a day-to-day scale, but also on the scale of the long-term cycles. The breaking of a few daily records seems in reality to mean nothing.

So the original point stands, that there's little use in raising a fuss every time a few among tens of thousands of local records happen to be broken in either direction. For lack of statistically significant empirical data worth more than zzzzzz, we seem to be stuck instead with model-based speculation, with all the disadvantages that entails, such as its lack of power to convince non-geeks. Which simply means that no one should be surprised when the political arguments about action (as exemplified below by embryonic's desire to "decide on things", or your own recoiling at "doing nothing", both of which seem well-aligned with the archetypal American insistence that one must always, above all else, do something) continue on unresolved until something definitive happens, such as a big enough chunk of West Antarctic Ice Sheet sliding into the ocean to actually matter - if indeed any such thing should ever happen.

That is not grandiose at all. Usually power-law distributions occur over at least a few-orders of magnitude. So that for the case of rainfall which I first commented on can be measured in 100th's, 10th's, and 1's which is enough of a range to establish some power-law relationships (if they exist). Yet, you really think that temperature can double or half in value?

The real idea to invoke is the notion of superstatistics. The challenge here is to identify a more slowly evolving variation on top of the normal statistics. This other behavior essentially operates on a different time scale.

Significant climate change will produce a superstatistic on the underlying normal statistics.

There are statistical tricks to getting valid information out of "too small data".

A high ratio of extremes in one direction vs. the other can prove or disprove a hypothesis (although tell us little about the magnitude).

Look at time dataset of the last 25 cycles of La Nino. Pick the highest and lowest temperatures (including ties) for each calendar day. Perhaps run a secondary set of record highs and lows minus one degree.

Then look at trends. Say 590 (224 ties) record highs, 614 (248 ties) record lows

Then look at the ratio of record highs to record lows (for every date), as well as the absolute #s

Cycle 1 - Highs - 3, Lows - 67
Cycle 2 - Highs - 2, Lows - 33 (shorter cycle)

Cycle 12 - Highs - 7, Lows - 11

Cycle 24 - Highs - 88, Lows - 6
Cycle 25 - Highs - 78, Lows - 6

Repeat for records minus one degree (much larger data set and also offsets any time series of observational bias)

One can use such a hypothetical data set to disprove the hypothesis that "temperature ranges are stable over time" and "temperature ranges are cooling over time".

Best Hopes for Good Statistics,

Again, any statistical data on magnitude is lost via this method.

And of course one need not look at the official temperature data at all to see that something very dramatic is happening. Growing seasons are longer everywhere, with official growing zones moving north 100 miles or so in most places. Migratory and settlement patterns of many animals are similarly shifting northward (in the northern hemisphere) and upward on mountains. Multi-year thick ice in the Arctic is essentially gone and we are on track to have ice-free summers there within the next couple of decades if not sooner.

Only someone trying really, really hard to ignore or rationalize away all evidence could still claim that something serious is not afoot with long-term global temperature trends. Not to mention that they would have to disagree with every established scientific body that have weighed in on the matter, as well as nearly every published climatologist. But denialists will continue to deny, being skeptical of everything but their own absurd assumptions.

If so, then with respect to empirical data - which is what set it off - wake me up when something definitive (i.e. far enough outside the rather expansive error bars that it clearly couldn't have happened without AGW) occurs with respect to climate (i.e. longer-term averages.)

Except that, given the lack of ability to do control experiments, the relative level of the long term of the effects compared to day-to-day variation and the indirectness of the many inferences from observed data, why do you think that if AGW should turn out to be accurate, the universe agrees that we're entitled to see totally unambiguous evidence of this before very deleterous climage change has occurred? Just because you'd like unambiguous resolutions of each hypothesis before deciding on things doesn't mean that the hypotheses will comply.


Nothing is ever completely disambiguated when dealing with probabilities. Yet, he seems to want make things even more ambiguous with his assertions, which seems a classic "do nothing" ploy.

I am willing to go the extra mile and come up with some decent probability-based models that could be of some help.

Call it scare fatigue more than anything else. From the constant bombardment of memes and ads from an infinite variety of self-serving sources all demanding that I should buy or "buy" something. If I bought insurance or "insurance" from every salesperson who came along with a good yarn, I'd have been permanently bankrupt from about age 25 on.

The whole spectacle is amusing to watch but in practical terms, until there's practically nothing to go on but what looks for all the world like just more bog-standard scaremongering over nothing ... yawn.

Good point. Anyway, if people are tired of hearing about individual weather records ("the driest January 14th in Woonsocket on record!"), why not focus on annual global averages?

It is always good to look at both. Stochastic data has two components, a mean value and a randomly varying part. The random part tells us a lot about the nature of the underlying process, so it helps us to substantiate our understanding of the mean/stable part.

IMO, oil depletion analysis is 90% looking at the random component since we have no idea what the stable part is. The roles are probably reversed for climate change since we have a better idea of the stable part, i.e. the mean global temperature. That is why I am so sensitive to this issue.

Thanks for the explanation. The problem of looking at individual data points re the AGW issue is that you rarely hear it done in a comprehensive manner ("in 2009 x days above long-term mean vs y days below"). Instead, we constantly hear snippets, which by themselves show nothing. A comprehensive approach would be good to see. And, as you say, informative.

Also, the key number in addressing the question "is the planet warming?" is the average.

One must wonder what you would consider as "something definitive". Would Summer like temperatures in April not qualify? That's what happened last week over much of the South and Eastern US. Remember what happened during the summer of 1988, when the Mississippi River almost stopped flowing because of the heat and drought? Will you come back and report your level of concern if it's worse than that now some 22 years later during the Summer of 2010? Remember that there is a cycle with a period of 22 years (mol) in the solar magnetic field and the Sun Spot Cycle has begun to awaken again.

Of course, we could have another volcanic eruption, as happened last year. With all the news stories about how bad the past winter weather was in the conservative media and blogs, the number of record cold events appears to have been rather small, especially if one considers the cooling effect of that eruption.

There are always going to be a few records set, especially for stations with fewer years of data. As I pointed out in the link I referenced at the start of this thread, the large number of record highs last week indicated a much greater event. Naturally, on the other side of the flow in the atmosphere, the temperatures were cool again. Yes, that's the way the circulation works and the daily highs and lows would tend to cancel out when averaged. So it's easy for Ebell to post a disinformation comment on the WaPo blog and for you in your several comments here to wave aside the events as if it's not a problem. It's all rather like saying: "It's just weather folks, nothing to worry about, drink your soma brew and go back to sleep. Be happy sheeple, the economy is improving and we are going to make sure it keeps on growing!"...

E. Swanson

Videos of the Reunion Island Tram-Train

My favorite is the second from the top, 4:38


This Department of France has an innovative plan (construction starts soon) to use the same tracks for trams and freight (at night). Difficult route (11 tunnels & bridges including world's highest rail bridge) and original plans were for renewable electricity (burning bagasse and solar PV (including roofs of stations).

For the viewing pleasure of those that are more than a mile or two from French Quarter Fest,


Twenty drawings of scenes along the Tram-Train line



China is proposing to bring its high speed rail technology to the US. Someone should tell them that the world is doomed and that there is just no point, but then they probably wouldn't believe the TRUTH about the future as they are burdened by emotions and blind to reason.


""All of the technology would be Chinese, Mr. Zheng said.

"China has already begun building high-speed rail routes in Turkey, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. It is looking for opportunities in seven other countries, notably a route sought by the Brazilian government between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Zheng said.

"International rail experts say that China has mastered the art of building high-speed rail lines quickly and inexpensively.

"“These guys are engineering driven — they know how to build fast, build cheaply and do a good job,” said John Scales, the lead transport specialist in the Beijing office of the World Bank."

Do they bring in their own workers, paying them 40 Yuan per day?

The Chinese building American railroads? How very 19th Century!

From the article:

"Nearly 150 years after American railroads brought in thousands of Chinese laborers to build rail lines across the West, China is poised once again to play a role in American rail construction. But this time, it would be an entirely different role: supplying the technology, equipment and engineers to build high-speed rail lines."

Hey folks, the link up top: After Peak Oil, Are We Heading Towards Social Collapse? is an extremely good read.

"We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We'll still depend on hydrocarbons."

In his view, the reason is that we can never, in a reasonable amount of time, reach the colossal scale needed to supply sufficient energy by alternative means. Likewise, "[renewables] cannot provide the baseload power, i.e., the amount of electricity required to meet minimum demand, that Americans want."

But I liked this paragraph best of all:

All the same, any government employee who advocates for a cutback in energy use or globalized trade would be committing political suicide. He would, also, face a hostile public, including industrialists and farm owners, along with his being shunned by lobbyists and reelection campaign contributors alike.

The American people, and I assume the people of all developed nations, demand business as usual. Their prosperous way of life is not negotiable.

The following quote is not from the link. But I am posting it as an attempt to explain why the above quote is true, why people ignore facts and cling to the illusion that the future will always be better than the past.

It is impossible to reason a man out of something he has not been reasoned into. When people have acquired their beliefs on an emotional level they cannot be persuaded out of them on a rational level, no matter how strong the proof or the logic behind it. People will hold onto their emotional beliefs and twist the facts to meet their version of reality.
Sidney J. Harris

Ron P.

The American people, and I assume the people of all developed nations, demand business as usual. Their prosperous way of life is not negotiable.

I heard yesterday that FOX News was the highest rated "News" network. With Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch acting as de-facto leaders of this ship of fools I would expect BAU until the system crashes. Entropy is a powerful force.


That's the pleasure of tipping points.. there may be no need for any discomfort until the very last minutes.

If our destiny is a waterfall we're heading towards, people's drinks probably won't even be rattled off the armrests of the Chaise.. until they are. Otherwise, you just speed up a little and the growing white noise puts a little thrill into the atmosphere.

"I tell everybody a little parable about the 'teaspoon brigades.' Imagine a big seesaw. One end of the seesaw is on the ground because it has a big basket half full of rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air because it's got a basket one-quarter full of sand. Some of us have teaspoons, and we are trying to fill it up. Most people are scoffing at us. They say, 'People like you have been trying for thousands of years, but it is leaking out of that basket as fast as you are putting it in.' Our answer is that we are getting more people with teaspoons every day. And we believe that one of these days or years--who knows--that basket of sand is going to be so full that you are going to see that whole seesaw going zoop! in the other direction. Then people are going to say, 'How did it happen so suddenly?' And we answer, 'Us and our little teaspoons over thousands of years.'"

-Pete Seeger

Of course for clarity's sake, he tells it like it's all one big thing. One See-Saw, Two opposing weights.. I think there are many different situations, some where these efforts and other bits of providence will help people through.. and other places where it won't have worked out, or where noone ever showed up with teaspoons and temerity... alas.

Question: if you knew you were going to die at a certain point, would you rather have a long slow painful decline, full of worry and doubt.
Or would you rather go on blissfully unaware, living as if you will live forever, happy, worry free, full of energy, then have a sudden precipitous collapse. Keel over one day while in the middle of doing something you love.

I think most people would take the latter. So why should the world be any different from individuals.

The attitude to Peak Oil is similar.
Just as we ignore or deny disease and death, although we all know its coming, we smoke, drink, eat poorly and don't exercise. And the few who do worry and plan and take care of themselves, what do they gain?

Should I follow Mel the Bruce and say 'Every man dies, but not every man really lives.. come back with your teaspoon or ON it, man!' ?

I've seen people who've gotten their sudden prognosis, and then awoke to ACTUALLY start doing things they really loved, since they had been wasting their blissful unawareness just pushing the treadmill, or waiting for tomorrow to pursue their dreams..

Either way, of course, we all generally know that death will come, and daily we get to choose how to live.. or else the drudgery and ease of an oil-powered lifestyle lulls us into a habitual complacency where we might be content, but not necessary challenged and kept really conscious of the imperatives that will be in the final score.

My mom's diagnosis was rough, giving her maybe 4 months to a year. She actually got about 15 days of that, as it happened. BUT, on that first day, she sat in her hospital bed with me and my sibs standing around, and showed us the remaining 4 thousand foot peaks in Maine she still needed to get... (at 72), and then proceeded to start us all on a project of expressing with her and each other our resentments, our gratitude, our apologies and our love. This was a woman who got it, I have to say. (And she was no slouch leading up to the diagnosis, either.. just built her 4th house the summer before, and got her weaving journeyman status, started an orchard..)

What do we gain? It's like that cartoon that was going around.. a Climate Conference with the list of good side-effects of CO2 mitigation, and some guy in the back is saying,

"BUT.. What if it's all a hoax and we make a better world for NOTHING?!"

or else, 'What do they gain?' .. maybe they survive.

(PS .. Finally, I don't have much room for nihilism, not that you meant to be with that final question... but I have enough things to butt my head against, I'll leave the walls for hanging paintings on. Between my grandparents and my daughter, there isn't nearly enough wall for it all..)

You've been a fool
And so have I,
But come and be my wife.
And let us try,
Before we die,
To make some sense of life.
We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We'll do the best we know.
We'll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow...
And make our garden grow.

I thought the world
Was sugar cake
For so our master said.
But, now I'll teach
My hands to bake
Our loaf of daily bread.

- Voltaire, via L. Bernstein

.. one of Mom's anthems. Random shuffle just played this as I was typing that to all'yall.

Yes Fox News has the highest ratings but it's just an echo chamber, mostly amongst middle aged and elderly southerners. Kind of like Limbaugh. Almost everybody else has long moved away from cable news in general and onto the internet, or they still get their news from various mainstream sources like nightly network news, newspapers, etc. Considering that Fox News represents a narrow and minority viewpoint, it is absolutely dwarfed by people paying no attention to it whatsoever.

I wouldn't be surprised if in the next 10-20 years cable news suffers greatly. But then again, I could be wildly off and it never pays to overestimate the intelligence of Americans.

There is really only 1 unknown: can we 'manage' the rate of societal decline and avoid anarchy?


There is really only 1 unknown: can we 'manage' the rate of societal decline and avoid anarchy?

In my opinion also, that really is the right question to be asking. The answer unfortunately is there is too much denial in hope of BAU, that anarchy is probably unavoidable. We can't get people to agree on anything, so how could we ever expect to instill a deep enough understanding of the dynamics of the coming decline, to penetrate into the masses enough to avoid a collapse into anarchy? Everyone will have their own personal take on the situation and the result will be chaos, at least until some kind of makeshift order replaces it.

Decreasing net energy means decreased support of highly specialized areas of the economy. This will result in government/military interference in the affairs of primary energy and food producers and significantly greater taxation at all levels of society.

Governmental interference will further exacerbate the shortfall in net energy for society’s complex functions. Primary producers will opt out, disappear and/or become generally less productive, thereby exacerbating the net energy shortfall. Even greater shortfalls will generate increasing emergency measures and/or warfare that will generate a more rapid collapse.

Watch for increased government regulation and intervention in the energy and food production sectors of the economy. This will hasten a collapse of an already strained situation even though the illusion of “government control” may at first satisfy public demand for action when high prices and shortages begin to appear.

Imagine a Mayan tribe that experiences several years of failed crops. The castes of priests, artisans, warriors and other specialists are suddenly deprived of nourishment. They begin to squeeze the primary producers (farmers) whose own families and children begin to die of starvation. It wouldn’t take long until most of that primary production disappeared into the forest or went to war and collapse could happen relatively fast.

Re: Massey's Blankenship Fought Regulator

For most of us well-removed from the struggle to get those infernal dirty-fuels for our I-Pads, I-Macs and big screen TV's the mining accident in WV seemed much like an aircraft accident: an aberration. However after reading some of the articles about the circumstances that exist in the coal mining business in the U.S., particularly WV, all of us to some degree must accept culpability. After all we all enjoy the fruits of cheap energy with little complaint while the environment and the disenfranchised are exploited.

Don Blankenship said "Unions, communities, people, everybody's going to have to learn to accept that in the United States you have a capitalist society, and that capitalism, from a business viewpoint is survival of the most productive."

This week in comically evil corporate behavior
In response to the tragic coal-mine explosion that killed at least 25 of his workers, notorious coal baron Don Blankenship shrugged off his company’s history of safety. “Violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process,” said the Massey Energy CEO.

This from a businessman who wrote a 2005 memo instructing supervisors not to waste time on safety precautions and whose company was called “one of the worst in the industry” by a government safety regulator.

Yesterday I was reading a post by OldFarmerMac where he said (I paraphrase) the proper role of govt should be to protect the commons and keep us from killing each other. I completely agree. Is capitalism now the enemy of the good and what should the govt's role be in these matters?


I'm willing to criticize Capitalism, but like "Technology" and a few other choice demons, we use them as very broad whipping boys, when there are some much more specific problems to really rout out..

The Cleanest thing about coal, is that we can be hundreds of miles from the generating source and may never have a clue about the leaks, spills, mining issues, etc..

With US Corporate Policies, just as with Mine Safety.. we have to be willing to lay down and enforce regulations. Right now, there is a powerful Laissez Faire (sp, sorry) tradition with American Businesses, and so we are reaping the whirlwind. We have to make sure we aren't just letting the People Reap this hell, while the industries get to hide behind this human shield.

I don't know that all parts of Capitalism are unworkable.. let's see how it works with everyone actually being held to account. They used to tell me as a landlord 'not to be friends with my tenants' (or with my Kids, for that matter) .. I can buy into that advice if I accept that 'friends' are people you don't have to give bad news to, or hold to their word, keep high standards with. And I don't. So I get friends, and I get the duty of dealing with them as honestly as anyone else.

...there are some much more specific problems to really rout out.

I don't know that all parts of Capitalism are unworkable...

Jokuhl - I'm not being funny but please tell me what parts can be salvaged in an energy-starved, resource-scarce world?


"Capitalism goes, or we go"

Well, that's why I said 'I don't know' up there. But I do feel it's the 'parts' that have to be figured out. The system names carry too many conflicting assumptions to get anywhere with.

When we use the name as a catch-all for any number of economic assumptions, we fall into the whipping boy game.

Some people talk about 'Capitalism' and are thinking mainly about the Usury aspect, the existence of Currency at all, or perhaps about the growing split between extreme wealth and poverty. Clearly our industrial and economic and scientific worldview has allowed us to distance ourselves from wanton resource extraction (or to loudly champion it, as well) .. it is not clear to me that it can be summed up as essentially the result of 'capitalism', and that surgically removing just 'THAT' would cure this draining of the earth's resources and the way we dump the remaining spoils.. it's an integral aspect of it, but with the tangle of systems that are complicit in this, I need to be very careful not to target 'isms', since they flow amongst each other too much.

I think we need to see the role that it plays, the role that 'publicly held companies', or Usury, or Capital Gains, or Bequeathment of Assets, or Intellectual Property law .. I'm paying a lot of attention to the intense defense of just plain 'Ownership' .. boy do adults turn into their inner children when it's suggested that they share. Whew!

There's a lot of mucking about in the details to see what we're actually doing, and how we might change aspects of it.. but the 30,000 foot view is too vague for me to get a useful direction from.


Thank-you Bob for that well thought out reply. You have given me a lot to think about. I can easily see how deep this subject could become.

I think this would be a great topic for a Campfire Discussion.


hi Joe,
I'm surprised to see the word "now" in your question.
I'm 73 and I heard stories (when growing up in WV) about the conditions in the (deep)mines before the advent of John L. Lewis, and his UMW union, that described the near-slavery conditions of the miners' lives. I watched as the hilltops were removed and the farms were ruined by runoff from those strip-mines during and after WW2.
The government never seems to have interfered with the freedom of the capitalists to do as they pleased .... without having been forced to .... and then have always done the minimum they could get away with.
Later I read Howard Zinn's History of the American People. Same old stuff back as far as 1492. Government supporting the capitalists in their rapacity...... always and inevitably.
What theorems can we invoke to enable us to expect any change now?

Sadder and sadder every day.

dadco -My use of the word "now" is more of a personal reminder to myself and my generation to take concrete actions that might seem to threaten our own personal security. I think it's high time that we become the heroes that we think we deserve. The definition of heroism:

Hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.

Thanks for bringing up Howard Zinn and his impressive legacy. His aggressive anti-war stance was hard earned being a WWII Bombardier who participated in the first military use of napalm, which took place in Royan, western France. It's easy to forget that America has a long tradition of heroes both celebrated and unsung.

Best Hopes for a widespread moral awakening.


There may be no difference now, but it may be that the capitalists could only stay in power in a context of ever expanding availability of resources. The whole pretense collapses when you take away this idea of infinite expansion. It seems ironic to me, but I think people are more likely to demand equity and fairness when there are shrinking net resources with little possibility of new rags to riches stories, than when things are booming and everyone thinks they will be the next millionaire (so why would they want to put limits on the current millionaires or billionaires).

“It is just the opposite,” Blankenship testified. “As an accountant, I know that safety is an important cost control. So even if I were so calloused, which I am not, as to believe that safety should be sacrificed for production, I would understand that it doesn’t make any sense because the accidents and so forth cause you to have more costs.”

unfortunately the "so forth" here refers to people's lives.

Even more unfortunately, if one truly believes that safety should be absolutely above all else - a commonly expressed cheap sentiment - then one ought never to take the not-quite-zero risk inherent in getting out of bed in the morning. So our airy context-free moralizing must lead us to conclude that all human activity is a manifestation of moral callousness inasmuch as it all entails non-zero risk, and thus it should all be outlawed.

You've outdone yourself.

To suggest that challenging the mining industry, and Blankenship's clear disdain for safety regulations falls into some kind of Pollyana worldview that wants Zero Risk, and is simply a 'Cheap Sentiment'.. that's about as 'Airy and Context-free' a level of thinking as I've seen you commit.

You know, if your life is getting too dull, you might find some openings for Coal work down in W VA. Or maybe you should work to have those Illinois meat-packing regs reverted to the pre-USDA days. A little salmonella could put some hair on our chests! It would be green hair, of course..

"that's about as 'Airy and Context-free' a level of thinking as I've seen you commit."

Yep, this pushed Paul for me into only the second regular poster whose posts I will now skip over as he has proved to regularly contribute nothing valuable to the dialogue.

Way too much human behavior actually does consist of moral callousness in pursuit of personal gain utterly out of context to the cost experienced by others.

yeah, i think a name for that might be externalized risk.

and in response to paul's post, the risk for blankenship getting up in the morning is probably much less than the risk for an average massey miner.

PaulS - Please contact the FAA and advise them they could save a boatload of money by relaxing Air Traffic Control Standards. Did you know that more than 20% of the cost of air travel in the US is chewed up by air traffic facilities. What a Waste!

Here is the FAA Handbook for Air Traffic Control Standards aka the 7110.65T. When you get a moment outline which standards of air traffic separation we can discard. BTW the primary directive in the Air Traffic Manual is "the separation of aircraft". Maybe you could start by throwing that pesky order out.

Also you might suggest that they could privatize the system so that air traffic can be run on a paying basis:

"Attention aircraft awaiting departure, we have an opening on runway two-four left...the bidding will start at five hundred dollars."


Joe, I have no objection to aircraft bidding for takeoff slots. It occurs in many airports (on a pre arranged basis)to spread the demand from peak times (here in Sydney it means the smaller aircraft schedule departures outside the morning and arvo peaks).
What would terrify me would be if landing slots were all allocated to the highest bidders after you were in the air. Then it would be pay up or wait till you ran out of fuel.

I find the Russian oil production quite interesting. For example, I took a look into the announcements of Rosneft, the biggest Russian oil company (http://rosneft.com/Upstream/ProductionAndDevelopment/ ; Table Key indicators). Rosneft produced 776.3 million barrels oil in 2008 and and 739.97 million barrels in 2007. This equals a production increase of 99500 bpd from 2007 to 2008 (for susidiaries and affiliates). In the same peroid they drilled 618 new wells (number for 2008) with an average new production of 635 barrels per day. This equals 392000 bpd new production (only subsidiaries). Obviously at least roughly 300000 bpd were necessary to offset production declines in the entire enterprise. That equals to a relative decline of at least 14 % of the existing production of 2007. The same calculation for the 2006/07 gives a decline in existing production of ca. 1 %.
The second indicator is the declining productivity of new wells (a decline of roughly 12 %).
Think of Rosneft not being able any longer to offset these vast declines anymore by new production. I think it is quite unlikely that they will achieve this. On their homepage the production data for 2009 are missing until today (I only found financial statements). I think they would show an even larger decline and Russian oil production as a whole is near its tipping point.
Concerning Saudi-Arabian production this PDF is quite interesting. (http://www.kfupm.edu.sa/chem/Summer%20Training-Seminars/Al-Ammari%20%28S...). It states that the Qurayyah Seawater Treatment Plant is designed for capacity expansion up to 19 mmbpd seawater intake (p. 9). What does this say about future Saudi Oil production?

Oilwatcher, one thing you are not considering is the transfer of assets from one oil Russian oil company to another. For instance on February 2nd, Rosneft production fell 28 tons, total liquids, or about 195 kb/d of crude only. Total Russian production, on that day, showed no drop at all so this was a transfer of assets from Rosneft to some other Russian oil company. Since February 2nd, Rosneft has gained 3 tons per day but their production has been declining lately.

The gain in Rosneft production has been due primarily to their new Vankor Field It came on line last year but maximum production still has not been reached.

However virtually all of Russia's old fields are in steep decline. It is a never ending battle for Russia to drill more wells in an effort to compensate for the 19% average decline in its existing wells.

Alex Burgansky: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

Russia is a very mature producer. If you exclude all the drilling activity taking place every year, then Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year.

So far, Russia has shown little signs of declining. Though their production, as of yesterday, has dropped about 60,000 barrels per day since peaking last month. But virtually all reports I have read expect Russia to peak this year, or to have peaked last year.

Russia 2010 oil output to fall -Bernstein analysts

Russia, now the world's largest oil producer, pumped 10.01 million barrels per day last month, up 0.4 percent from the 9.97 million bpd produced in August, both record highs, Russian Energy Ministry data released last week showed. [ID:nL2451607]

But Bernstein analysts said Russian production, which recovered in 2009 after dropping for the first time in a decade in 2008, was merely experiencing a temporary spike following the launches of eight new fields this year.

Both Russia and the USA are at their peaks right now, (for this decade anyway), and I believe will be declining for the rest of the year, and most definitely declining in 2011. No doubt the EIA and the IEA, after years of too high projections, are finally going to get one right. Non-OPEC all liquids will peak this year. (C+C peaked in 2004.)

Oh, almost forgot, I get my Russian production data from: CDU TEK, Russian Energy Data The oil data here is in metric tons, all liquids. Dividing by 7.3 will give you the approximate bp/d, all liquids.

This site is supposed to be updated every weekday but often they miss several days at a time and four updates per week is better than average for them.

Ron P.

I can tell I've done the right thing coming here - it bolsters my already shining optimism for the future :) As I sit here in the UK, with my baby son arriving soon, I just wonder 'what the hell have I done?'

I keep thinking 'maybe things will turn out OK', but reality tends to be pointing in the opposite direction.

Is all hope lost? Thoughts on a postcard please :P


Having my second (and last) child on the way in 2 months myself, all I can say is much better now, when good medical care is still available, than later. The storm is approaching, but there is still time to prepare for the new normal. As your child grows, whatever conditions exist will be "normal" for your child. Children are resilient, and according to many, older children are actually helpful, especially as you personally get older. As I was writing this, my 2 year old daughter who just woke up came running into the room to give me a big hug and led me back to her room to point out something outside the window. Trust me, your children can be a source of joy in your life and serve as incentive to make preparations as well as keep your spirits up when things look gloomy. You can't stop living just because hard times might be coming. Congratulations on your future son! =)

Thank you for the post.

This will more than likely be the only child we have, so I wish to cherish him for as long as we're all here.

I have also felt like this is the 'gathering storm' - like June 1914, or August 1939 - but this time the battle is pitted both against Mother Nature and other human beings.

I am constantly thinking of what to do to safeguard (as much as possible) the welfare of my partner and son - see my postings on the April 6th Drumbeat. The problem is with the future is that it has that horrible habit of being impossible to predict.

I also totally agree with the last point - if you live in fear, you might as well not be living at all.

What I found interesting recently was reading 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy - in the post-apocalyptic setting, it was the son who had adapted to the new reality, and the father who struggled. I think that is a very valid point on the resilience of children. Being a teacher, I see how resilient many are, in spite of having some very bad backgrounds. I just know that at 29, I am pretty much hard-wired - adaptation will be very challenging at best.

Congratulations on your second child :)


I like Runeshade’s post a lot with regard to kids. In a more general sense, I think it’s important to note that while some folks may think they know exactly what will happen, we really have no idea what’s coming down the pike, other than it doesn’t look good and it won’t be BAU. Still, no one here has visited the future. It’s all extrapolation, theory and, to some degree, belief. While I’d still give a worst crash scenario a greater likelihood of happening than BAU, I think it’s far more likely that the future won’t look quite like either camp thinks it will.

Let the future be what it will be, prepare yourself for change and try to enjoy what you have right now.

I am doing little things to prepare for change - learning to grow food, brushing up on my practical skills (I was a construction worker before I became a teacher), but sometimes I think it's all rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. I don't expect BAU - in fact, I'd welcome some change, as I find the capitalist system soulless. What I do not want is to be sizing up my neighbour for steak a couple of years down the line (I get a feeling she'd be a bit stringy, to be honest).

But as people say here a lot, nobody knows what will happen. To profess to know is delusion. Educated guesses are all we have.

Referring to the Titanic above - it gets used a lot here as a metaphor - it is a specialist subject of mine. One theory I have on it is that the disaster was brought about by the decision to try to avoid the iceberg - if it had hit head on, there would have been injuries, the ship would have been damaged, but it could possibly have stayed afloat. The world seems to be taking the 'evasion' line. So much for theories, eh?



I went back and read your posts from April 6th and I had to laugh... you said you feel like Cassandra, which just happens to be my daughter's name.

As to your situation, we all do what we can, and some preparation is better than none. Learning to grow food and/or storing some food is a great preparatory step. As for your neighbors, as much as you don't want to size them up for steak, at the same time, you should consider that you don't want them sizing up your garden for their future dinners. Just like the TOD community is a great resource, if/when hard times come, its worth thinking about how the community you live in might behave in a crisis. Can your neighborhood pull together, share resources and skills, and look out for one another, or is it likely to come down to potential conflict where you are the only one with any preparations at all?

Do you even know your neighbors, do any of them have gardens or grow food, etc. etc. It doesn't matter if they believe in PO, but those who have lived through some hardship, during wartime etc, are going to be golden resources in a stormy world. As you mentioned your partner is Buddhist, generate some good Karma for your family by meeting and helping the neighbors. You will soon discover, as I have, that new babies and young children open doors that you could never imagine. Be seen in your neighborhood, take walks with your baby in the stroller when the time comes. Play in the front yard, push/ride the tricycle on the sidewalk and around the neighborhood. The next thing you know, your neighbors that you've never known are bringing over clothes/blankets/fresh veggies from the garden, etc. Reciprocate with items from your garden or some freshly-baked goodness, and bring your son along with to show him off... My experience is that your neighbors who are grandparents themselves are going to be the ones who most enjoy seeing your new son as he grows... wave when they drive by, etc. These are the relationships that will substain us all if the worst happens. If BAU continues, you've merely enriched your life and made new friends, hardly a bad trade for a bit of your time.

Consider inside food storage and indoor sprouting, as they have some definate advantages when it comes to not advertising your bounty. I'm currently considering buying a hutch and supplies for rabbits, even though I don't really want to start getting involved with that unless it becomes necessary. Think about your water supply if the taps didn't work, etc.

I think the best advice is, if the SHTF, if you have to be shopping for something, you want to be the one at the "feed and seed" or neighbor's farm, buying chickens for eggs and/or rabbits for a long-term meat supply (assuming you aren't vegan/vegetarian), and/or stocking up on seeds for more veggies, rather than the guy running down to the grocery, fighting the mob for the last gallon of milk and bag of cheetos, which will last you all of a day or two, assuming you don't get trampled in the riot.

As to your earlier post (April 6) as to where to live, I'd say follow your heart and your gut. If you like where you are, then stay and enjoy it, especially if you like your current job. No one knows when hard times will start, and how bad they will be. You still have to provide for your family while BAU continues, so at the very least you should nail down some work if you do decide to move. Make sure you actively listen to your partner as to what she wants/thinks as well instead of hearing what you want to hear.

If you like your current situation, but don't see it as perminant, you can always stay until you feel like the wheels are coming off, as long as you have made a plan for your departure. Its unlikely that travel will instantly grind to a halt (might be MUCH more expensive, but if things get that bad, then the expense is meaningless compared to an unsustainable alternative). Even then, if the worst happens you could probably find someone to sail you to Ireland for the right incentive, unless you think the wind is going to give out as well... ;P

The first six months with a new baby are likely to suck... they were very hard for me at least. The next 3 months were difficult, but not quite as bad. After that, every month has been better than the last and my life has gotten better and better. Enjoy the ride and prepare for the future. =)

I think that is a very valid point on the resilience of children. Being a teacher, I see how resilient many are, in spite of having some very bad backgrounds. I just know that at 29, I am pretty much hard-wired - adaptation will be very challenging at best.

Maybe this represents the only hope for human persistence.

Have you ever read The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris? It's a remarkable debunking of just about everything we "believe" about child development. The come-away message is that kids are independent, adaptable, resilient beings. Parents don't have the control over children's personalities that so much pop psychology would have us believe. Childhood "traumas" are not lodged in some unconscious somewhere wreaking havoc on an adult's life.

It's an exhilirating read. Parents will find it liberating. Too bad I still think, like Mark Twain, that the human race is damned.

I just bought the book. Thanks for the recommendation. I read Pinker's Blank Slate. Sounds similar.

You'll love it. She's one of Pinker's sources.

I was out skateboarding with my 11 year old only child last Sunday. He's not been serious about it in the past (I've been riding for 35 years), and I was happy he's showing an interest. Anyhow, he slowed down at an inopportune time on a narrow path (we had been talking about the issue of minimum speed, the point below which you can find small stones throwing you and small bumps roll you backwards) and I found myself horizontal, 2 feet off the ground, and still traveling... I now have a truly impressive 3"x 6" bruise on my thigh. The boy, of course, didn't get a scratch.

What this little anecdote made me think of was this: as we get older, we become weaker and more prone to injury. We may not live as long as our parents have, especially if health care becomes scarce. The young will have an advantage in the future- they're tougher, more resiliant, and able to change. The future belongs to our children. Leave the world solely to the children of the Tea Party morons and their ilk? I think not.

I hold out some hope that some Tea Partiers' kids will wise up to their folks' idiocy and turn against them powerfully.

I know both of these Forbes stories have been covered here recently:

Oil Reality Check: It's Going Higher, by Mark Mills (Bottomless Well co-author along with Peter Huber)

Whatever the debate about the ultimate total physical hydrocarbon resources on this planet, using technology we have, equipment and infrastructure that exists or could be built under any scenario in a few years, 2010 probably marks "the peak" production of oil as we know it today.

Inflation Is Baked In The Cake, by Rich Karlgaard, Digital Rules blog

The end of imported deflation plus peak oil plus a dovish Federal Reserve is an inflation formula.

Other than reading the The Bottomless Well, which I enjoyed, I don't follow Mark Mills' writings very closely, but I do read Rich Karlgaard's Digital Rules blog. Rich has historically been enamored with the Daniel Yergin/CERA position (see his column Capitalism's Amazing Resilience).

Inflation Is Baked In The Cake is one of the few times Rich has mentioned the words peak oil without dismissing it in his next breath; indeed, he seems to be accepting it although he does not mention it further in this column and his readers did not comment on it. What is going on here? Is Rich converting from a cornucopian to a peak oil believer?

What is going on is an accelerating penetration of information regarding the encompassing process of resource degradation. One part of this process is the succession of events marking the Peak Oil Era. It has become increasingly difficult for anyone schooled in any of the various streams of economics to ignore the information contained in the price signal, especially in light of the information contained in the data amassed by agencies such as the EIA.

I have files of web published newstories relating to oil extraction/peak oil going back to 1999. I don't claim that my files are exhaustive, but I don't believe I missed many stories. There were almost no articles mentioning peak oil during the first part of this period, especially in the newspapers of record. What articles there were always carried the message that higher prices would lead to higher production, leading to lower prices as new production came to market. Moreover, new production would enjoy the benefit of new discovery and extraction technology and would therefore come to market at prices that would encourage continued demand.

The New York Times and Canada's newspaper of record have moved beyond the prevailing dogma of the early part of the Peak Oil Era. Good old confused Jad Mouawad at the NYTimes is now the former energy correspondent and has been assigned the airlines beat. The Times now offers Green Inc (get it?) which presents itself in this way:

About Green Inc.
How will the pressures of climate change, limited fossil fuel resources and
the mainstreaming of “green” consciousness reshape society? Follow the
money. From renewable energy policy to carbon markets to dubious eco-
advertising, our energy and environment reporters track the high-stakes pursuit
of a greener globe. (http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/)

And of course the new tone at the Globe and Mail is exemplified by Jeff Rubin's blog. The same changes are underway at most other 'news and views' outlets.

The accelerating assimilation of information regarding resource degradation is leading to a new consensus in the ranks of policy makers. While some people despair at the apparent waning of support for action to minimize man-made climate change, another manifestation of resource degradation, it is likely that we are looking at the last stand of the denialists, and of the cornucopians. Events, in all probability, are about to shred their remaining credibility with all but a few marginal actors.

Just as the rapidly changing mainstream media attitude to peak oil, the shifting consensus regarding public policy options and growing investment in alternatives to degradation-as-usual shreds the credibility of doomers who never thought such things possible.

Well put, but the recent admission by the EIA that its weekly inventory figures may not be as accurate as previously thought leaves us almost only with the price signal to tell us where current supply and demand is heading. Albeit the EIA is now correcting prior errors so that after two or three months, we now fairly accurately where we were two or three months ago - at least in the US.

If current world economic trends continue, I expect within 1.5 years to see a new oil price spike - being it won't be long before increasing demand exceeds falling supplies. While speculators may get the blame again by some, this will cement the growing realization that peak oil output is passed. Of course, there will be many that will never accept the chnages to come in the post peak world (not that I know clearly know now what they will be either). But it will be much easier to adapt when changes are accepted as permenant.

Hello, I have a note from Airdale which he'd like me to post here, which I'm pleased and honored to do. I know he has many admirers at the site and that he still feels he has some good 'net' friends here. He no longer posts, so I'll post, as he wishes me to, what he has written:

The subject Its fairly simple yet extremely important.

CCD (colony collapse disorder) of honey bees has been solved!! At least to the satisfaction on one quite well known beekeeper. His name is Michael Bush and here is his website where he makes his case. http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

In short it appears from his statements that High Technology (my words) is killing the bees. His approach is to go back to the old natural methods. No more foundations in his frames, no big size cells and quit the spraying and treating with checmicals.

His queens live three years. His infestations are reduced. It speaks for itself.

The point in my mind is High Technology is killing the bees and can and will kill humankind as well.

We MUST go back, I say young people that we have to go back down that trail that has led us into this diaster for nature and mankind. Live peacefully with nature. Learn its ways and seek to live as humans did for thousands of years in the past as well as did my Native American ancestors. Technology for the good of man, AND nature as well, is fine but not if it hurts nature or destroys it.

My time on earth is closing in. I lost my left kidney a few years back to a huge cancer. Renal cancer is untreatable you see. I have bad nights lately and suspect metastasis is occurring in my lungs, where renal always goes. Also my right one is losing function and when I only have 15% left the toxins buildup will take my life. So I spend what little time left with nature on my farm. I am building a greenhouse and planting my garden as always but don't think I will live to see the snow fly this winter. Hope I am wrong but I do not worry about it. I have given up and let my five Doctors go on this. I will 'take the ride' and trust in God and what he holds beyond the vail of this life. The clearing at the end of the path, to quote Stephen King (The Gunslinger).

I just wanted to let TOD readership know that a single solitary man who deals with bees has perhaps found a solution that has confounded our high priests of technology. As always someone 'down in the dirt' has figured it out. I had/have plans to build my first hive this summer God willing and the creek don't rise.

Peace unto you and I recall my five years spent in Oahu back in 1958 to 1962 flying Navy surveillance aircraft during the Cold War. I loved it and its always in my memory banks.

Airdale - from the bluegrass

Much as I like airdale, his statement here is an anecdote, and even the plural of anecdote is not "data."

Maybe "high tech" (such a sloppy term that is) does have something to do with CCD, but I'd rather hear what the scientists have to say before I'd make such statements as the problem has been "solved."

We MUST go back, I say young people that we have to go back down that trail that has led us into this diaster for nature and mankind. Live peacefully with nature.Learn its ways and seek to live as humans did for thousands of years in the past as well as did my Native American ancestors. Technology for the good of man, AND nature as well, is fine but not if it hurts nature or destroys it.

Well, an historical reading of human history tells me that no such blissful state really existed. Famine, disease, and war were the norm. And if it did exist somewhere, I'll wager the population was nowhere near 7 billion .

I wish airdale well.

At this point, the scientists are beginning to believe it is a confluence of factors :-

1. Commercialization of pollination services, requiring wholesale trucking of bees around the country to work on different crops

2. More exposure to diseases, and more rapid spread, due to large-scale moving of colonies

3. Poor nutrition, due to the feeding of sugar syrup, and consumption of monocrop pollens e.g. cranberries

4. Exposure to pesticides

All of which combine to reduce the general resistance of bees to disease. The common denominator in CCD hives is that bees harbor multiple bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens, and just seem to become overwhelmed.

France has banned the use of nicotinoid pesticides, as having the ability to disorient bees, thus rendering them unable to find their way back to the hives.

A major characteristic of CCD is that mature bees are missing from the hive, no dead bodies are found near, or in, the hive, and there is a living queen, brood and food stores.


France has banned the use of nicotinoid pesticides, as having the ability to disorient bees, thus rendering them unable to find their way back to the hives.

I would be more concerned that nicotine has a similar effect on human beings as it does on bees. Nicotine is a plant-defense alkaloid, and not only are the tobacco plants defending themselves from insects, they are defending themselves from mammals such as yourself.

My ex-wife grew up in a tobacco-growing area, worked on the tobacco farms as a teenager, and found that just walking through a field of tobacco could make her dizzy and disoriented. What concerned her more was that handling the tobacco leaves exposed people to all kinds of nasty chemicals in addition to nicotine. She later became a health professional, and because a lot of people she grew up with (including her relatives) died of the effects of tobacco smoking, she was quite negative about the whole industry.

I've been under the assumption that honey bees are NOT NATIVE to the US? While i know how important they are to our agriculture, i do feel that our native bees are much more capable of pollinating. I know my yard here in southwest Wisconsin is over run with bumble bees.

I've created huge flower beds this year for the very reason of attracting beneficial insects. You'd be amazed the variety of bees that will come to feed.

Nicotine is grown here for the flowers. If a person wishes, they could make a homemade pesticide out of the leaves. Very toxic to insects, so be careful when spray. Hey..it can't be worse then "Sevin"?

Honey bees are not native to the Americas. They were imported by Europeans in the 1600's. They also did not cross the Rocky Mountains on their own, they were carried by ship to California in the 1850's.

Most of the crops that they pollinate are also imported species.

Nicotine is grown here for the flowers. If a person wishes, they could make a homemade pesticide out of the leaves. Very toxic to insects, so be careful when spray. Hey..it can't be worse then "Sevin"?

Nicotine is considerably more toxic than Sevin. The lethal dose (LD50) for Nicotine is about 3.5 grams for an average adult, whereas the lethal dose for Sevin is about 60 grams. Nicotine is much more toxic than the other alkaloids, e.g. about 20 times as toxic as cocaine.

You can obtain nicotine as a commercial insecticide, but it is the most toxic chemical still being sold to the public for that purpose. I think it should be banned because it is extremely dangerous, and most people don't realize that. There are many other chemicals which are more effective at killing insects, and less effective at killing people.

See The University of Illinois Pesticide Review for more information:

There is a common misconception that natural or botanical insecticides are always safer than synthetically derived insecticides. Nothing could be further from the truth because a number of registered botanicals are toxic to fish, beneficial insects and mites, and mammals.

I vaguely recall a Drumbeat article that suggested lack of genetic diversity of bees in the Bee Selling Business was an additional player.

I've been observing bees lately, as with spring in a Mediterranean climate, this is optimal for flowers to be out.
Not one European Honey Bee was around on my last walk, all native bees, and they were prolific.
Last year I observes many of the introduced honey bees in the same area.

I just wanted to let TOD readership know that a single solitary man who deals with bees has perhaps found a solution that has confounded our high priests of technology. As always someone 'down in the dirt' has figured it out.

Likewise, best wishes to Airdale on dealing with his health and future, but that quote really misses the point. It generally hard but not that hard to "figure out" a theory that explains some phenomenon. The really hard bit is working actively to show that your solution is indeed accurate rather than co-incidental. (Incidentally, the bush farms website sets off my spider sense when it says things that it would like to be true, such as

Einstein took a lot of flack for throwing out Newtonian physics. It was accepted as absolute truth and he questioned it. But no one could solve these light speed problems until they threw out the old paradigm and found a new one that worked.

(at http://www.bushfarms.com/beesscientificstudies.htm )

even though this isn't historically accurate, unless flack means something incredibly dramatically less significant for him than for me. (Ignore all the attacks because hew was Jewish.))

Hey greenish,

If you would, let Airdale know that I hope he gets that new hive buzzing this summer!

Peace to him as well!

Fred Magyar

I've let him know which day I posted, and have sent him the link, so it's reasonable to think that he will today or eventually read any comments made here. But I will pass on your message.

Airdale has been an inspiration for me here on TOD. He revels in nature. Many would love a chance to do that; Airdale lets us see the hard parts and the good parts of living close to nature. In detail and poetically. Thank you.

Yes, do send him our best regards. He is missed.

vaya con Dios, Airdale.

Thanks, Greenish for bringing word.. Hang On, Bees.. God help us.

Interesting to hear from Airdale.

Current human population of planet Earth: 6.8 billion and growing
Long term sustainable population: less than 1.0 billion

Thanks to Airdale for insights into how some of those 1.0 billion might make it through the bottleneck.

One of my honeybee hives made it through the winter (yah!)

Sayonara Airdale. Many thanks for your contributions to this site.

Two things I remember vividly from growing up in England in the '60's :-

1966 : The Aberfan Disaster (144 people died, 116 of them were children)

At 9.15 am on Friday, October 21, 1966 a waste tip slid down a mountainside into the mining village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. It first destroyed a farm cottage in its path, killing all the occupants. At Pantglas Junior School, just below, the children had just returned to their classes after singing All Things Bright and Beautiful at their assembly. It was sunny on the mountain but foggy in the village, with visibility about 50 yards. The tipping gang up the mountain had seen the slide start, but could not raise the alarm because their telephone cable had been repeatedly stolen. (The Tribunal of Inquiry later established that the disaster happened so quickly that a telephone warning would not have saved lives.) Down in the village, nobody saw anything, but everybody heard the noise.


1967 : The Torrey Canyon Disaster (119,000 tons of oil spilled (as a frame of reference, 38,000 tons were spilled by Exxon Valdez))

On 18 March 1967, owing to a navigational error, the Torrey Canyon struck Pollard's Rock in the Seven Stones reef between the Cornish mainland and the Scilly Isles. An inquiry in Liberia, where the ship was registered, found the captain, Pastrengo Rugiati, was to blame because he took a short cut to save time in getting to Milford Haven

Some 50 miles (80 km) of French and 120 miles (190 km) of Cornish coast were contaminated. Around 15,000 sea birds were killed, along with huge numbers of marine organisms, before the 270 square miles (700 km2) slick dispersed. Including all fish within a 75 mile radius.


Causes: -

Human error
Confluence of events
Short cuts
Criminal behavior
Failure to heed warnings

None of which seems any different, 40-some years later. Humanity seems incapable of learning from its mistakes.

Indeed - and it has just come out that a Panamanian registered but Chinese owned coal ship was noticed shortcutting inbound to Gladstone through a very constricted part of the Great Barrier Reef.This was only hours after the Chinese coal carrier went aground in the same area.There might be some criminal charges out of this.

All attempts to contact the vessel by authorities were ignored.

All your causes are valid,spring_tides.As always,if you want a fundamental cause,just follow the money.

Indeed, a deeper level cause is an industrial society based on massive extraction of non-renewable ores and fuels from the earth, substances that end up being toxic either in their extraction, their transport, their refinement, their use, their disposal, or some or all of the above.

If all that oil were "properly" used, it would have ended up in the atmosphere contributing to GW, and in the process, propelled humans on various trips, many involving plans to more effectively exploit and destroy what is left of natural ecosystems.

The whole system is premised on massive and total destruction of the future.

"Mistakes" and their proximate causes only highlight in a dramatic way the toxic nature of the whole enterprise.

I remember both the Aberfan event and the Torrey Canyon oil-spill clearly as well. There is a reasonable argument to be made that says the world-wide environment movement was kicked-started by these two events. And I think there have been huge advances in 40 years ... where we would be today without the millions of unpaid person-hours put in by greenies since the late 60s, barely stands thinking about.

There is a different (and possibly more urgent) set of environmental problems facing us today ... and there is no doubt that greens face enormously powerful interest groups, but it is different to 40 years ago.

While I agree that the environmental movement has made huge strides in the last 40 years, I still observe that human nature hasn't changed at all - the same motivations that caused both those disasters are operating today, in spite of the best efforts to legislate them away.

Don't get me wrong - I think we desperately need the protections afforded by strong environmental legislation - now, more than ever - but disasters are caused every day by people doing what they always have - taking short cuts or ignoring warnings.

If one lets children play with matches, sooner or later they will burn down the house. I'm not sure our deepest human nature is one which will afford us much longevity, as a species.

Just a few of the matches in the box, right now :-

Genetically modified organisms
Hydraulic fracturing
Tar sands & oil shales
Failing infrastructure (e.g. dams)

Recent failures to act :-

Copenhagen climate summit
Ban on Bluefin fishing

Recent disasters brought on by negligence :-

Coal carriers striking Great Barrier Reef
Multiple coal mine "accidents" (US and China)

People who have been leaders in the environmental movement, people like James Speth, author most recently of "The Bridge at the End of the World," are coming to the conclusion that, for all its individual victories, the environmental movement has failed in stopping or even slowing down much the world industrial system that is driving the planetary living community and climate system over the cliff.

From the China crude oil 29% increase in imports in March article above, Almost 1.5 m/b/d of new oil demand from China alone in March puts a dagger in the "peak demand" theory being floated around a few weeks ago.

I don't think that's necessarily true.

It's a 29% increase over March of last year, which means it's in comparison to a low baseline.

They changed the law in China, encouraging refineries to operate at full capacity even if there's no demand for the products.

And as the article says, it's still exports that are driving oil consumption in China.

They are also stockpiling oil as well as refined products, though I don't know how much that affects imports.

And as the article says, it's still exports that are driving oil consumption in China.

So what are they putting in the gas tanks of all the new cars?


That's a very good question. Gasoline consumption in China is not going up with car sales. Indeed, for awhile last year, gasoline consumption fell while car sales skyrocketed.

Something is fishy. Economic numbers are always suspect, and China's especially so. There were rumors going around earlier this year that China was building cars and then destroying them, just to boost the economy. (They count a car as "sold" when it leaves the factory.) I don't buy that, but there's something strange going on over there. I don't think their economy is doing as well as many think.

GE unveils 9W LED bulb with output of 40W incandescent that lasts 25 times longer

GE Appliances & Lighting of Cleveland, OH, USA is beginning to show customers a 40W-replacement GE Energy Smart LED bulb, which will be available later either this year or early in 2011 at an expected retail price of $40–50.

GE Lighting Division’s new LED bulb should consume just 9W, yield 77% energy savings, and produce nearly the same light output as either a 10W compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or a 40W incandescent bulb. However, it should also last 25,000 hours (17 years at 4 hours per day), which is more than 25 times longer than a general-service 40W incandescent or halogen bulb, and more than three times longer than a standard 8000-hour rated life CFL.

See: http://www.semiconductor-today.com/news_items/2010/APRIL/GE_090410.htm

So, one could spend upwards of $50.00 for an LED replacement lamp that consumes 9-watts, supplies 450 lumens and has a rated life 25,000 hours or, alternatively, $2.00 on a 9-watt Philips CFL that produces 550 lumens and lasts 12,000 hours. Personally, I'd rather spend $4.00 on two CFLs to match the life expectancy of this LED lamp, obtain 20 per cent more light from every watt spent, and invest the remaining $46.00 in caulking, weatherstripping, outlet gaskets, 3M window kits and/or an insulating blanket for my water heater.


Paul, whilst I agree with your choice of purchases I would say that if you have money other than the one $50 note then spend the first $50 on caulking etc but the next spare $50 on a LED bulb (you do still have a year to save for it). Having a bulb that may last your lifetime (for older people) removes one less headache and for everybody else there is sure to be a hard to access light fitting that paying $50 not to have to change again for a looong time would be bliss.
Or just wait a bit until the price comes down.

Hi Neal,

A long service life is a definite plus, but the lamp's internal electronics will be subject to the full vulgarities of our power system and, potentially, heat buildup -- the same stresses that can negatively impact CFL life. If a $2.00 CFL should die prematurely for whatever reason, I'd grumble, swap it out for another, and move on with my life, but with a $50.00 LED, be assured, I'll be punching out walls and kicking over tables.

There's no mention if rated life is based on the standard 50-50 rule, i.e., the point at which 50 per cent of the lamps in a test sample still work and the remaining 50 per cent have failed, or if it's the point at which light output has fallen to 70 per cent of its initial value, i.e., when the lamp is producing just 315 lumens versus 450. The Philips CFL should still provide 88 per cent of its initial output at the end of its 12,000 hour nominal life -- 484 lumens or more than 1.5 times that of this LED. Plus, when it comes time to replace that CFL with another, full light output is restored.

I've used several hundred self-ballasted ceramic metal halide PAR lamps on various lighting retrofits (at $55.00 a pop) and the failure rate is surprisingly high; they're manufactured by one of the "big three", so their quality should be best in class, but we've already replaced several dozen in their first couple hundred hours of operation. I guess what I'm saying is that we shouldn't count on receiving all 25,000 hours as there's a good chance the actual number will fall well short of the mark, regardless of who supplies the product.


The wide spread prevalence of electronics is why I have a whole house surge protector on my main panel, additional "whole house" surge protectors on my sub-panel and sub-sub-panel for the central a/c and surge protectors for each major appliance (a/c, refrigerator, stove, computer, microwave, TV, washing machine). Just put in my first in wall, wired socket surge protector (replaces wired duplex socket and protects everything "downstream")

The number of distributed protection provides some additional safety for those circuits without (except whole house). A voltage spike will split (uneven amperage#) between branches. Those that are without load will "bounce back" and seek a sink. Better that sink be a surge protector than a CFL that is on, a clock radio, etc.

Also, dust buildup occurs regardless. A mid-life dust swipe can restore lumens on any lamp (hint). A hard to reach LED may accumulate 25 years of dust before dying.

I am a decade away from buying house LEDs brighter than a night light. (My car is retrofitted). 2 watts is the breakeven between CFLs and LEDs IMHO.

Best Hopes,


# Ohm's Law is modified when dealing with, say lightening strikes, and looking at nanoseconds (from memory, electricity travels 1 foot in one nanosecond, at 1/3rd the speed of light in a vacuum). Such a surge cannot "look ahead" and see which circuit is open.

Hi Alan,

A whole house surge protector and secondary protection on key distribution circuits is money well spent, if for no other reason than peace of mind. One of my colleagues lost an expensive television set due to a power spike not that long ago and a couple of our appliances met an untimely death when we lived in Toronto -- once when a car hit a power pole and, of all things, when an umbrella from a vending cart broke loose in high winds and came into contact with the line above it.

There's little doubt LED technology will continue to improve over time, but my advice would be to hold off for now because CFLs offer much better performance at a mere fraction of the cost. Conversely, buy whatever you like if you simply want to experiment with these products and enjoy the novelty.


I have been looking forward to a breakthrough in LED's that would make them the next wave in sustainable household lighting for a long time. There have been improvements, but they still don't seem like they will be the obviously better choice for a while.

Won't the price come down over time?

Hi Consumer,

Absolutely but, as it stands now, one involves a capital outlay of $50.00 and the other $2.00, so there's a fair amount of ground to cover. In addition, this future LED offering is less efficient than the current alternative (50 initial lumens per watt versus 61 for the aforementioned CFL) and the fall-off in light output will be more pronounced (more so if used within a fully enclosed fixture). As to whether the LED lamp you purchase will provide a full 25,000 hours of service is anybody's guess; based on the industry's standard metric for determining service life, half the lamps sold to the public will never achieve this rating and some may fail within the first few hundred hours of operation, and when you pull that package off the shelf you have no idea upon which side of the divide you fall.


re: Unbearable lightness?: To make cars frugal, they will have to become lighter—and more expensive

Let's get serious. If you want to save money, buy a small economy car with a fuel-efficient four cylinder engine. There are a lot of different ones on the market. It will be lighter, more fuel efficient, and less expensive. If you want to buy a small car that costs a lot of money, buy one of the smaller BMWs. You pay a lot of money for image.

All things being equal, the driver of a large SUV (sports-utility vehicle) is less likely to be killed than the driver of a small car in a head-on collision between the two.

That's only if he hits a small car. If he hits anything else, he's dead meat. And of course the things tend to go out of control in an emergency situation, so he's likely to hit something else.

The downside is that SUV drivers are far more likely than car drivers to die in solitary roll-over accidents induced by the vehicle’s own weight, its high centre of gravity and its truck-like suspension. Collisions with other SUVs can be deadlier still.

Most SUV drivers who are killed are killed in rollovers. Because of their high center of gravity, the vehicles tend to roll over in accidents, and if the roof is smashed flat and your head hits something solid, you are likely to die. If you are an SUV driver, always aim for a small economy car in an emergency, because if you do anything else you are likely to die.

Most SUV drivers who are killed are killed in rollovers. Because of their high center of gravity, the vehicles tend to roll over in accidents, and if the roof is smashed flat and your head hits something solid, you are likely to die. If you are an SUV driver, always aim for a small economy car in an emergency, because if you do anything else you are likely to die.

I'm a volunteer EMT in a small town. You wouldn't believe the stuff we see even out here in the boonies.

If the call comes in as a "rollover," you can be pretty sure it's either a big truck or an SUV. People drive too g==damn fast in those things, and they get this sense of invulnerability that causes them to do stupid stuff

The thing is--people are so lucky. They walk away from these crashes 9 times out of 10.

One of the surest ways to tell if someone went to college to major in engineering is if instead of feeling secure driving an SUV, he feels nervous. I mean, if you won't ride a pennyfarthing bike instead of a regular, if you won't walk on stilts, why on earth should you feel better driving an SUV instead of a regular car??

It satisifies American egos by allowing them to feel powerful, big, and to look down on their fellow humans.

Nothing more than that.

It truly tells you something about a person when they buy and drive something that makes it much more likely that they will kill any person they run in to, and that without much improving their own safety.

The Agricultural Apocolypse Article is a little off. I googled the phrase "USDA has declared half the counties in the Midwest to be primary disaster areas" and eventually got to this site. http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?area=newsroom&subject=landing&t.... It is the feds listing of emergency designations and it looks pretty grim until you click on the link for previous years and find numerous emergency designations then too.

Food prices have been rising here in Central PA, but those designations don't seem to be a change from previous years.

It would be nice if there were a place where one could find a discussion of PF (Peak Food) that would have some of the characteristics of TOD for PO. Anyway, thanks for this little bit of checking up.

Off-Topic, but there has been a air crash of a Polish plane in Russia, with the president of Poland, the chief military officer and over 90 other members of the Polish elite killed.


Antoinetta III

The UN recently released a study that concluded that 70% of the world's land mass would be desert by 2025. This would seem to be a pretty clear signal that we are at or near peak food. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/04-0

Between the climate spinning into uncharted territory, the widespread pollution of vital water sources, and the rapid draw down of non-renewable (on any human scale) "fossil" water sources such as deep aquifers, we are in for a very bumpy ride at best on the food front.

Does anyone know of a good website that follows this topic (food/water...scarcity) the TOD follows PO?

People survived through most of their history without fossil fuels; survival without food or water has fewer reliable historic precedents (with apologies to breath-arians ;-).

Sorry if this is a little off topic. Does anyone know if there of a computer modelling package that will 'age' an environment?

For expmple a rendering of a building or street and let time/nature ravage it and watch it being 'reclaimed' in time lapse. I wonder what a whole city would look like and how fast it would melt away.

This would be a 'fun'(scary) exercise to get a glimse of what all our unused cites might look like post collapse!!!!


That would be quite difficult.

But there are books and TV shows that do it. "Life After People" and "The World Without Us."

They really do put a lot of research into it. For example, they tracked down the species of grass used at Wrigley Field to show what it would look like when no one mowed it any more.

The Digimation Dirt -plugin for 3ds max can do it. But to handle that one, you need to handle 3Ds Max first ..

As Leanan suggests somone "already" did it : Life After People - Part - 1/9

That's just a texture plugin, isn't it?

There's a lot more to aging than that. (Which I've seen "kits" for - models that include "collapse" morphs. Some of these are well thought-out, with consideration given to which areas of a building are likely to collapse first.)

True enough- at least it was back in 2006 when I used it.
So to have objects physically crack, disintegrate, etc.. you will have to go ahead with other external plugins or the standard features within Max.
As you mention morphings, melt, distort or perhaps use the Reactor kit. One will need "the Whole day" and then some ... depending on scope of achievements. I think Marco is looking at "a Whole f¨ull week" actually :-)

EDIT: I just looked up my Digimation link and it reveals this : "It (the Quick dirt plugin) exists as a combination Object Modifier and Map type that are used in concert"

This could imply that they have embedded fracture, disintegrations or other sorts of agings into it..... Those folks are brilliant people (!)
If you use their Grow-plugin, it can for instance be animated in reverse to simulate some sort of disintegration or rusting away or rotten effect....

Here is a questtion----maybe it is not a very good one.

In todays NY Times there is an article called "Change We Can Believe In" by Steven Strogatz. (Sorry I don`t know how to show links).

Anyway this article is about calculus. I remember I liked calculus in HS. A lot of PO thinking can be figured out using calculus I believe. It`s at root an energy transition from FF to sun. Rates of change can be measured using calculus---which one---differential, perhaps? (I didn`t say I remembered it, just that I liked it!)

OK, here goes: the article is about a hypothetical situation---a person walking across a field. Half of the field is covered with a deep snow drift. The other half is field grass (the wind has blown the snow away from half the field and on th the other half).

Using calculus, and algebra and geometry the author sketches out how to solve the problem "find the quickest way from point A (in the snow drift part of the field) to point B (in the grass part)". It isn`t a straight line. It is a kind of compromise. Please have a look at the NYT if you want a better explanation than I can sketch out here.

If we think of the snow drift half of the field as BAU and the grassy half as solar-based energy, then could we get any good ideas about the best way to approach the PO energy transition? Using calculus too...???

Any mathematicians out there? I am NOT one! Or is this question just vapid after all?

Very good NYT opinion piece.

BAU has an efficiency we call E.
Solar has an efficiency we call S, but to get S we need to borrow some of E, say k*E, so S=C+k*E.

So what is the best combination of E and S?
Say F is the fraction we use of E, then 1-F is the fraction we use of S.

Total = F*(1-k)*E + (1-F)*S = F*E +(1-F)*(C+k*F*E)

take derivative of Total with respect to F and set that to zero
dTotal/dF = E-C-2kFE = 0

This has the solution F = (E-C)/(2kE)

k is related to an EROEI value, and C is what you can get out of Solar without using E

if C=0 then F=1/(2*k) so that with high k it says to use as much solar as you can because F goes toward zero. If you have C approaching E, then F gets even lower.

This could be the wrong setup, but my life does not depend on it.

But, from an engineering point of view, "efficiency" is a ratio, not a constant term. Does it make sense to take a derivative of a ratio? Your setup appears to be using the economic definition of "efficiency", that is, the output per man hour or something similar. And, your math doesn't include agriculture, which is almost totally dependent on the rather low conversion efficiency of sunlight to useful crops. The fact is, all economic activity is powered by solar energy, since people are all "powered" by sunlight via the food we eat.

E. Swanson

I cast the problem in the style of the NYT piece by the professor. He created an optimization problem, which is what I attempted to do by optimizing with respect to a fraction.

It worked out pretty swell.

Thank you, WHT for your explanation. It makes some sense to me.

"Use as much solar as you can"----I am thinking of nomadic tribes who follow reindeer herds, or aboriginal groups in the Amazon. They indeed will be untouched (relatively) by the PO rout. Because they already use all solar.

Thank you for your analysis!!!