Drumbeat: April 15, 2010

Industry Opposes ‘Monumental’ Expansion of CFTC Power

(Bloomberg) -- Industry groups backed by Koch Industries Inc. and Cargill Inc. are fighting a Senate bill that would reshape almost 30 years of policy that allowed the $605 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market to surge.

Legislation introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, would give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission authority over most of the U.S. market, the broadest expansion of its authority since becoming an independent agency in 1974.

Crude Oil Falls on Signs Economy, Demand May Be Slow to Recover

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell for the sixth time in seven days as unemployment claims unexpectedly jumped to a two-month high and industrial production improved less than anticipated, signs energy demand may be slow to recover.

Oil fell as much as 0.7 percent as the Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose 24,000 to 484,000 in the week ended April 10. Warmer weather caused utility use to drop the most in four years, limiting the rise in March industrial production to 0.1 percent, according to the Federal Reserve.

Petronas halts petrol sale to Iran

Petronas, the Malaysian state oil company, said on Thursday it had stopped selling petrol to Iran. The move follows growing pressure from the US to shut off Tehran’s access to refined oil products.

The company, which is a long-term supplier of Iran, said it had not shipped petrol to Iranian ports since the middle of March. Petronas refused to give any further details on its decision to put an end to sales.

Nigerian state oil firm wants oil bill passed

LAGOS, Nigeria -- The newly appointed head of Nigeria's state-owned oil company pressed on Thursday for the quick passage of a bill he said will help residents of oil-rich regions who say they do not benefit from the country's oil wealth.

Walls you can eat

"Most restaurants in urban spaces don't have the room for a big garden. But at the same time, there is this growing emphasis on eating what's grown locally," Golden says. "When you think of all the crawling plants that grow on walls, this is actually not as strange as it sounds." 0:00 /2:38Batali buys Mozza an edible wall

Mumford now builds "edible walls" from modular boxes that look like shallow milk crates. Each box is two feet square and eight inches deep, with a fabric pouch of soil inside. To start a garden, he pushes small plants into the soil through slits in the fabric. After about eight weeks, the plants have filled out and anchored themselves. The crates are mounted onto a rack and fitted to the side of a building. Mumford charges about $50 a square foot for residential customers and between $150 to $200 a square foot for commercial ones.

Oil Supply Crunch: 2011-2015

Concerns are mounting about peak oil, and there continues to be much debate over when the peak will be reached, whether a plateau can be sustained or whether the onset of decline would occur quickly, whether we will hit peak demand before we hit peak supply, etc.

There is convincing evidence that conventional oil production has already peaked, since we have been stuck at around 74 mbpd for over half a decade (despite the incentive of record high prices).

There also seems to be growing consensus that global liquids production (currently around 86 mbpd) is likely to peak within the next decade and almost certainly at less than 95 mbpd.

(Mainstream opinion a few years ago predicted no peak before 2030, with output at 130 mbpd.)

China's Sinopec to sign Brazil deal with Petrobras

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil state oil company Petrobras on Thursday will sign a cooperation deal with China's development bank and its second-largest oil company that includes development of Brazilian oil resources, a Chinese official said on Thursday.

Qatar opens door to Gazprom

Russian gas giant Gazprom said today Qatar has invited it to take part in liquefied natural gas projects after 2014.

Oil politics: it's all about our future

On March 31, 2010, President of the United States Barack Obama announced a comprehensive proposal to open vast expanses of coastline along the East Coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and northern Alaska to offshore oil drilling for the first time. This controversial decision has sparked a wide range of responses from environmentalists to oil executives. Yet the question remains, what does this proposal mean for us?

On the surface, very little. Under Obama’s plan, actual drilling for oil will unlikely happen within the next 10 years. In 2009, the U.S. Energy Administration conducted a survey analyzing the effects that the full expansion of offshore drilling would have on oil prices in the next 30 years. The results are astounding. By 2020, under Obama’s new oil drilling plan, gas prices will not have changed a penny. And, if we are lucky, gas prices may drop a whopping three cents by 2030! So why impose the detrimental health and environmental hazards of offshore exploration and drilling on our fragile coastlines?

What Obama Didn't Tell the Environmentalists About Off-Shore Drilling

The reality is that the world is running out of what is known as "easy" crude oil, oil that is cheap to produce from onshore oilfields. When you watch movies like "Giant" and see oil wells pumping in Texas, that is "easy oil".

The far more costly method of harvesting crude is what is called "hard barrels," where oil is trapped inside oil sands, or oilfields located hundreds of miles offshore, requiring advanced drilling technology, undersea pipelines, and billions of dollars in infrastructure spending.

A blindness to systems

Some of the responses to last week’s Archdruid Report post brought that point forcefully home to me. The theme of that post, as regular readers will remember, is that it’s meaningless to talk about the efficiency of machines vis-a-vis human beings unless the costs of the whole system needed to produce, maintain, and operate the machines is compared to the costs of the whole system needed to do the same for the human beings. In response to the post, a flurry of critics on and off the comments page of this blog presented arguments that simply ignored the system costs I’d spent the entire post discussing. I would have had no complaints if they’d disagreed with my analysis, or even argued against the inclusion of system costs altogether – the logic of dissensus, the deliberate cultivation of divergent strategies, is as relevant to my work as it is anywhere else – but that’s not what they did. Instead, they acted as though the issue of system costs had never been raised at all.

Yard for Share: My Hyperlocavore Garden

When the web connects gardeners with available land, surprising things can happen. Pamela Chang on the fresh food, new skills, and friendships she gained when she offered to share her land with a neighbor.

Resilience and Ruggedness: Why Faster, Bigger and More Complex May Be Better

The problem is, none of this actually takes us very far towards genuine sustainability as a society. The car test is my personal window on this. A great many people who have passionately embraced green living still own cars. That's fine: I'm not here to pass judgment, not my point. My point is, given that owning and driving a car is the single most climate-destructive thing most of us do, our blindspots for our vehicles are telling. When people spend serious portions of their life energy attempting to live sustainably and don't challenge the assumption that they must live an auto-dependent life, something is askew in the thought process.

Ill Fares the Land

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.

The materialistic and selfish quality of contemporary life is not inherent in the human condition. Much of what appears “natural” today dates from the 1980s: the obsession with wealth creation, the cult of privatization and the private sector, the growing disparities of rich and poor. And above all, the rhetoric that accompanies these: uncritical admiration for unfettered markets, disdain for the public sector, the delusion of endless growth.

Mexico keeps Maya price steady for US, Europe buyers

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico left the discount in the pricing formulas for Maya crude oil shipments to U.S. and European buyers unchanged for cargos loading in May, state oil monopoly Pemex said on Wednesday.

Call to finalise deal with Iran for power import

LAHORE - Pakistan has imported generators and other equipments worth over Rs 400 billion during the last two years due to worst energy crisis as the industrialists, small traders, shopkeepers and even the domestic consumers had to switch to alternative arrangements to ensure power supply.

Usman Ghani, Director International Federation of Hardware and Houseware Association (IHA) revealed this during a brief chat with The Nation here on Wednesday. He said that had Pakistan saved this amount it would have been enough to construct a medium dam the produce hydroelectricity.

Ormoc City waterless after rare power outage hits area

ORMOC CITY—The Philippines may plunge into an energy crisis, but a law shields Ormoc from this problem even as the power crisis lingers in the Visayas.

In Section 6, Paragraph 2, of the rules and regulations implementing Section 5 of Republic Act 7638, or the Department of Energy Act of 1992, host communities are given priority load dispatch in case of a power shortage.

Moreover, the energy sector has committed reserve power for Ormoc in times of power shortage. Under that commitment, a minimum of 25 percent of available capacity and a maximum of 25 percent of contracted capacity in the host local government unit (LGU) “shall be dedicated thereto in times of power shortage.”

Budget cuts could hit police, fire services

“The problem is people aren’t buying fuel and that is really hurting the city. With the truck stop here in Corning and being right here on Interstate 5, fuel tax is a large portion of our revenues. If there isn’t anyone buying goods, then the truckers don’t have a reason to run or to buy fuel,” Kimbrough said. “Plus, with fuel prices on the rise, people in general are changing their driving habits.”

Plans for plutonium remain undecided

The U.S. has declared 34 tons of plutonium as surplus, unneeded for weapons but with no place to go.

The goal is to sell it for reactor fuel, but that's easier said than done.

Pickens takes Texan turbine dream north

US oil magnate T Boone Pickens may have found another home for his mammoth wind farm project, following his failure to get the ambitious plans off the ground in Texas.

Pickens, who postponed his original plans for a Texas-based wind farm indefinitely in January 2009 following the market crash, is reportedly now planning a smaller project in Minnesota.

Statoil says production unaffected by traffic halt

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian oil and gas output is so far unaffected by a closure of helicopter traffic in the North Sea, Statoil said on Thursday after ash from an Icelandic volcano halted much of Northern Europe's air traffic.

Helicopter transport to oil installations in the North Sea has been stopped, state agency Avinor confirmed. "Offshore helicopter traffic has come to a complete halt," spokesman Ove Narvesen at Avinor told Reuters.

"Production is not affected at the moment," spokesman Gisle Johanson told Reuters. We are mapping the consequences and potential measures," he said.

Brazil May Drill More Wells for Oil Swap for Stock

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil may need to drill more wells to find the 5 billion barrels of oil reserves needed in a proposed swap for new shares in state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA, an official said.

The two wells that Petrobras will drill for the government’s petroleum agency may not hold enough crude to swap, Florival Carvalho, the petroleum agency’s superintendent of planning and research, said today in Rio de Janeiro.

Wal-Mart Reclaims Top Spot From Exxon Mobil on Fortune 500 List

(Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, reclaimed the top spot from Exxon Mobil Corp. in the Fortune 500 ranking of biggest companies, based on annual revenue, the magazine announced today.

Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, dropped to second place on the list after the U.S. recession eroded demand for its motor fuels and drove bargain-seeking consumers to Wal-Mart’s discounts. Exxon was No. 1 a year ago after surrendering the spot to Wal-Mart in 2007. Chevron Corp. remained in third place.

BP says no delay on Sunrise oil sands decision

LONDON (Reuters) - BP Plc said it had not delayed a decision on whether to press ahead with the Sunrise oil sands project in Canada, despite reports a decision had been pushed back into 2011.

Norway report: oil/gas activity off Lofotens risky

OSLO (Reuters) - A report compiled by Norway's environment ministry said the probability of accidents with oil and gas activities around the Lofoten islands was low, but their impact on the environment may be quite high.

Australia Examines Ship Routes After Reef Grounding

(Bloomberg) -- Australia will examine ship routes and the piloting of vessels as part of investigations into the grounding of the Shen Neng 1 coal carrier on the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.

Russia says Iran reactor on track for August launch

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A reactor being built by Russia at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant is scheduled to open in August, the head of Russia's state nuclear corporation said on Wednesday.

Geothermal power industry saw 26% growth in 2009

In 2009, 188 new projects have been started which could together produce as much as 7875 MW of energy. These projects could potentially provide electricity for 7.6 million people, or enough energy to completely replace California’s coal-fired plants. “California could achieve its 2020 goal for global warming emissions reductions just by keeping energy demand level and replacing its coal-fired generation with geothermal,” said Karl Garwell, GEA’s Executive Director.
Full report here [PDF]

‘Renewed Appetite’ for IPOs Set to Boost Solar and Wind Power

(Bloomberg) -- The biggest revival in stock prices since the Great Depression is reigniting interest in initial public offerings by environmental companies, spurring businesses from China to California to issue new shares.

Electric automaker Tesla Motors Inc., U.S. green energy producer Ameresco Inc. and Spain’s T-Solar Global SA have filed to go public, and more companies are set to follow.

Build America Yields Lure Washington Utility to Taxable Market

(Bloomberg) -- The Public Utility District of Grant County, Washington, is selling about $166 million in Build America Bonds to upgrade a Columbia River power project as yields on the subsidized debt touch the lowest level in a month.

Why I won't be voting Green

Green voters support a party that places the environment low in its priorities, and whose political agenda is part of the problem.

A Program to Certify Electronic Waste Recycling Rivals an Industry-U.S. Plan

The Basel Action Network, an American watchdog group that has sought to curb the export of toxic electronic waste from the United States, plans to begin a new certification and auditing program on Thursday for both recyclers and companies that generate electronic refuse.

I.B.M. Suppliers Must Track Environmental Data

I.B.M. said on Wednesday that it will require its 28,000 suppliers in more than 90 countries to install management systems to gather data on their energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste and recycling.

Those companies in turn must ask their subcontractors to do the same if their products or services end up as a significant part of I.B.M.’s $40 billion global supply chain. The suppliers must also set environmental goals and make public their progress in meeting those objectives.

U.S. Leads New Bid to Phase Out Whale Hunting

WASHINGTON — The United States is leading an effort by a handful of antiwhaling nations to broker an agreement that would limit and ultimately end whale hunting by Japan, Norway and Iceland, according to people involved with the negotiations.

Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle

(PhysOrg.com) -- Evidence that the world's water cycle has already intensified is contained in new research to be published in the American Journal of Climate.

The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

The study, co-authored by CSIRO scientists Paul Durack and Dr Susan Wijffels, shows the surface ocean beneath rainfall-dominated regions has freshened, whereas ocean regions dominated by evaporation are saltier. The paper also confirms that surface warming of the world’s oceans over the past 50 years has penetrated into the oceans’ interior changing deep-ocean salinity patterns.

East Anglia’s Climate Lessons

Closure is slowly coming for climate scientists whose e-mail messages and files were exposed five months ago in an unauthorized release from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain. Lessons are emerging as a series of inquiries draws toward an end, leaving climate science bruised, but better off in the long run.

India to build 1st oil reserve facility by Oct 2011

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India aims to build its first strategic oil reserve facility with a capacity of 1.33 million tonnes at Visakhapatnam in southern India by October 2011, said Rajan K. Pillai, chief executive officer of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL).

India plans to build such facilities, whose construction is being managed by ISPRL, at three locations in southern India to meet local demand for 14-15 days in case of emergencies.

Crude Oil Trades Little Changed Near $86 as Dollar Strengthens

(Bloomberg) -- Oil traded little changed in New York as a stronger dollar dampened the investment appeal of commodities, offsetting signs of accelerating economic growth in China.

Japan’s Tutors, Oil Imports May Defeat Deflation

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s battle against deflation may end early next year, as the global economic recovery drives up commodities prices and boosts domestic demand by reviving exports, Mizuho Investors Securities Co. said.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows the two strongest and weakest of the 10 sectors comprising the Bank of Japan’s preferred measure of inflation -- the consumer price index excluding fresh food. Utilities costs have risen with crude oil, and education fees increased as people sought training, Mizuho said. Prices of household goods and recreation have continued their slides. The lower panel tracks the CPI gauge, which has moved closer to zero since tumbling 2.4 percent in August, the worst year-on-year deflation on record.

China’s Oil Processing Rises on Capacity, Recovery

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, processed 18 percent more crude oil in March as the country’s refining capacity increased and the economic recovery spurred consumption of fuels.

The nation refined 34.56 million metric tons, or 8.17 million barrels a day, of crude oil last month, according to China Mainland Marketing Research Co., which compiles data for the government. That’s the highest level after volumes reached 34.6 million tons in December.

Dana Reports ‘Significant’ Gas Discovery in North Sea

(Bloomberg) -- Dana Petroleum Plc, a U.K. oil and gas explorer, said it made a “significant” gas discovery at the Platypus prospect in the U.K. southern North Sea.

With Oil Deals, Merger Advisers Rejoice

Wall Street has always loved the fees generated by deal-crazy oil companies, Breakingviews says. But the recent flurry of activity in the energy industry — $130 billion so far this year and counting — is once again making them the most valuable clients for the world’s merger advisers.

Apache to Buy Mariner for $2.7 Billion in Cash, Stock

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp., the second-largest independent U.S. oil producer by market value, agreed to buy Mariner Energy Inc. for $2.7 billion in cash and stock to boost production and reserves in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Cnooc, Sinochem Said to Bid on Statoil Brazil Field

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, and Sinochem Group may separately bid as much as $3 billion for a 40 percent stake in a Brazilian oil field owned by Norway’s Statoil ASA, two people with knowledge of the companies’ plans said.

BP Faces Investor Revolt Over Pay, Canadian Oil Sands

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc faces an investor backlash today over executive pay and Canadian oil sands, the world’s biggest crude reserves after Saudi Arabia.

Shareholders have proposed a motion at their annual general meeting that calls on BP to review the environmental and financial risks related to the energy-intensive extraction of heavy oil from tar sands in Alberta. Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward is under fire after being awarded a 41 percent pay increase in 2009 when BP’s annual earnings fell 22 percent.

Peabody Lifts Macarthur Coal Bid 14% to A$4.1 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Peabody Energy Corp., battling New Hope Corp. and Noble Group Ltd. for control of the largest producer of pulverized coal, raised its cash bid for Australia’s Macarthur Coal Ltd. by 14 percent to A$4.1 billion ($3.8 billion)

Diesel Forum Comments on Natural Gas Truck Study

A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming.

"There is a reason today that diesel powers the overwhelming majority of the nation's commercial trucking, school and transit bus fleets. Diesel's unmatched combination of availability, safety, energy efficiency and economical operation and performance have made it the technology of choice, but it will be the environmental performance and prospects for even greater energy efficiency that make it the technology of choice for the future," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the non-profit group.

Obama on Afghan: We can't be there in perpetuity

SYDNEY – Defending his troop surge strategy, President Barack Obama said Thursday that things in Afghanistan are getting better not worse and his plans to start withdrawing U.S. forces next year are on track.

'Raw milk' advocates, health officials step up dispute

"Raw milk is where the right and left come back together. It's an intersection for the 'back to nature' and the 'don't tread on me,' people — they're the granola tea-partiers," he says.

Point Austin: Sounds Like a Plan

The problem was not with the environmentally sustainable sentiments of these or other earnest remarks about bicycles and mass transit, but with the speakers' complete obliviousness to the actual regional politics ranged along the long CAMPO tables. Or to borrow Stengel's metaphor, it's not that the various officials don't know the game – they're each playing by different sets of rules, to different audiences, with different interests, and the notion of a true "regional consensus" is pretty much entirely confined to transportation fantasy baseball.

Peak oil -- 21st century's great wildcard

While the media brings us stories about the economy, health care, Afghanistan and climate change, no one talks about peak oil. This makes peak oil the greatest wildcard of the 21st century, because if it hits, and hits hard because we haven't done enough to find energy alternatives, than it will reshape the world.

Hawai`i: The lure of local

From the comfort of the family kitchen to the expectation that farms and markets will always be able to provide it, food is all about security, especially in our Islands, situated 2,500 miles away from any other source. We import 85–90 percent of our food, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture reported in 2008, and by now it’s “probably more than that, even getting worse,” says Ping Sun Leung, an agricultural economist at the University of Hawaii and coauthor of an influential study about Hawaii food self-sufficiency–or rather, the lack therof.

Beyond progressivism: Toward a new politics and a new economics

Our current political system leaves no room for speaking truthfully about the converging crises that confront us. A fundamentally limited debate about climate change serves no one but the fossil fuel industry (and even then, it only serves their short-term narrowly-conceived self interest). Peak oil and its extensive threat to the entire US economy and infrastructure isn’t even entertained as an important issue. The Democrats and Republicans have absolutely no narrative for what’s currently unfolding, and are categorically committed to an unsustainable economic model that has started to unravel. The Democrats, as anyone would expect, have thrown their weight behind propping up their dying models.

Worrying about copper

I travel much by railroad. In the last 6 months it happened twice that my train did not run because thieves had stolen the copper wires that are essential for operating the rail track.

Finland May Double Atomic Power to Cut Russia Imports

(Bloomberg) -- Finland, the European Union’s biggest power consumer per capita, may double nuclear energy production in the next 10 years to wean the Nordic nation off Russian electricity imports that reached a record high in 2009.

Fortum Oyj, Finland’s largest utility, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, and a group led by E.ON AG want permission to build three reactors in addition to the current four. The government plans to make a decision this month.

Obama Wind Farm Goals Threatened by Indian Rites, Kennedy Wish

(Bloomberg) -- An Indian tribe’s sunrise ceremony, Nantucket’s whaling-era architecture and a parting wish of Senator Edward Kennedy may block the first wind farm in waters off the U.S. and stymie a potential $270 billion industry.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he will rule this month on Cape Wind, a proposal to invest more than $1 billion placing 130 wind-powered turbines in the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts. A federal advisory council recommended on April 2 that Salazar reject the project because of the “destructive” effects on historic sites.

'Avatar' director lauds ruling on Brazilian dam

BRASILIA, Brazil – Director James Cameron is applauding a Brazilian judge's decision to temporarily halt bidding on a huge hydroelectric dam, yet he warns the fight is not over in what he calls a "real-life Avatar" battle in the Amazon.

A federal judge in Para state on Wednesday delayed the April 20 auction for construction of what would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric project. He said more time was needed to examine claims from Brazil's attorney general that there are not sufficient environmental protections in place at the site.

Prof’s exhibit examines effects of climate change on New England

An interactive exhibit created by a Brown professor will travel New England over the next five years.

“Seasons of Change: Global Warming in our Backyard” tells the story of global warming in New England, describing how climate change may affect New England traditions such as lobster fishing and maple syrup collecting. It has been in the EcoTarium, a private science museum located in Worcester, Mass., since January.

Coal Executives Split on Carbon Caps, Climate Science

A trio of executives from the world's largest coal companies told Congress yesterday their industry is providing the fuel of the future, but the officials remained divided on several key policy questions.

Obama: China must act on climate change

SYDNEY – U.S. President Barack Obama says the world cannot wait for China to commit to tackling global warming.

Senate climate bill would end EPA/state programs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Climate control legislation being developed in the U.S. Senate would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions and end state and regional "cap and trade" programs, a Senate source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The compromise bill, which might be unveiled sometime next week, aims to reduce U.S. smokestack emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by 17 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.

All 30 Major League Baseball Teams Throw Curve to Climate Change Deniers

America’s national pastime is leading the way on climate action by adopting a comprehensive conservation and greenhouse gas-reducing program, including a public outreach component at National League and American League ballparks this summer. The new sustainability drive involves all 30 Major League Baseball teams from coast to coast, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Army Corps of Engineers Said to Err on Flooding Risk

An attempt by the Army Corps of Engineers to correct old data on water flows in the Mississippi may have led to underestimates of the current risk of flooding along the river, scientists argue in a new study.

The study argues that a change in the way water flows were measured, dating from the 1930s, mistakenly led the corps to make downward adjustments in data from the 1800s and early 1900s. That in turn is leading to underestimates of the risk of flooding today on the Mississippi between the Ohio and Missouri Rivers, and to inadequate preparations by government agencies, said Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and the author of the new report.

Can anyone give an indication of how many barrels of oil are related to food, like fertilizer, transportation, etc? I would think that a huge percentage of the oil we use seems to go to things that are essentially non essential, but food and perhaps heating are must haves. However I haven't been able to find a breakdown of these essentials.

Although it is mainly focused on UK data I highly recommend the book Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air by David MacKay. A free version of the book and its data sources are online at the website of the book.

Chapter 13 on Food and Farming is available online here. Davic MacKay estimates the energy requirement of UK food, farming and fertilizer to be 15 kWh/day/person. It includes not only oil but other energy sources as well. AFAIK fertilizer is made using natural gas rather than oil.

I haven't seen such a breakdown either. But there's a lot of evidence that oil consumption is approximately proportional to GDP. So as a very rough first guess, if food represents 10-15% of GDP, it probably uses 10-15% of oil consumed.

Interestingly, farming is a much smaller fraction of GDP than food is, even in the U.S. (a food exporter). The difference is distribution and processing, which uses a lot more oil than the actual production.

Heating is a "must have" in some places, but probably not as many as you think. For example, where I live in Houston, heating is a pleasant convenience for a couple of months of the year, but not a necessity if you have warm clothes and enough blankets. Also, I lived in Denmark a while back, in a modern ultra-insulated house, and the house was kept at a comfortable temperature 90% of the winter just with the waste heat of appliances and lights. Of course, that was before high efficiency appliances and lights were available. But as a French diplomat commented, Denmark's climate is "eight months of winter and four months of bad weather".

But people lived even in really cold places, such as North Dakota, before oil was available, and few of them froze to death.

True about Houston, but you'll probably find about as many homes there without heat (or not using it) as you will ones without A/C, i.e. virtually none.

We have quite a few new homes here in Orlando built with fireplaces. I think we had 2 or 3 homes burn down this unusually cold winter, with some fatalities, by people trying to keep warm using a stove, portable heater, and I think in one case where the electricity was cut off, a propane stove.

lrd says,
"I haven't seen such a breakdown either. But there's a lot of evidence that oil consumption is approximately proportional to GDP. So as a very rough first guess, if food represents 10-15% of GDP, it probably uses 10-15% of oil consumed."

Can that possibly be true? I don't think the cost of the "food" in purchased food can be nearly that much...if you take into account packaging, advertizing, taxation, not to mention the massive management overhead of large food companies (what does the CEO of Kraft and General Mills make per year? How much do these firms spend on market research...do you really want to know?)

Folks this is just one more case where massive abuse and waste is trying to hide behind "energy costs" to help hide what they are doing.

On the other part of the logic as given, using percent of GDP as a percent of energy consumed...well, there's the first problem. Very little oil is actually used in food production (transport yes, but not production) as the food production industry is driven for the most part by natural gas. Despite what you read in many hysterical reports, fertilizer and pesticides are NOT made from oil and have not been for decades, so we must make the distinction between oil and natural gas energy.

There seems to be a lot of difficulty with the argument that percent of GDP can be used as a measuring stick for percent of energy consumed by an industry. I am now spending more money on information sources (cable TV, internet, cell phone) than I do on energy. I am not spending more on my mini storage unit than I do on gasoline per month. Does that tell me anything? Not really. Even today, at $85 per barrel, energy prices are astoundingly cheap as a percent of overall living expenses and incomes.


Anyway you put it you could save about half of the energy put into it by not throwing away food.
Than there is huge potential by reducing fertilizers and moving production to the consumer.
Would also ease the unemployment situation until non poluting automated prozesses are inplace.

Nice idea here:

Re the volcanic ash closing some european airspace. At the moment all UK flights are cancelled apart from emergency search and rescue. Not sure how long this will go on for, at least until 18:00 BST, but much will depend on if weather pattern continues and ash cloud is continuously replenished, if so it could conceivably be days.

That just might give a taster to the UK of a peak oil future!

EDIT: Airspace now closed until 0700BST Friday

There's some very nasty viruses attached to some sites near the top of Google search for this story. See my post in yesterdays drumbeat at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6376#comment-611162

What search terms are you using? I only see legitimate sites like the BBC, Yahoo, MSNBC, CBC, ABC, etc.

Was looking for discussion forums so used

iceland volcano forum

Right near the top is

Volcano In Iceland
Discussion about HUNDREDS FLEE ICELAND VOLCANO ERRUPTION!!! at the GodlikeProductions Conspiracy Forum. Our topics include Conspiracy Theory . ...

When I visited this site (with Firefox latest fully patched) I got the attempted infection and I checked several times (being careful not to let it run an executable and Windows 7 security would have prompted me with a warning even if the executable tried to run). I've just checked again and now appear to get to the genuine advertised site with no redirection to Poland.

I won't post the URL of the actual infecting .pl site (in case people are tempted to visit it!) but can email if you want

Edit: Trend Micro just released a scanner update.

Update (April 15, 2010, 4:40 p.m. [GMT +8:00]):

TROJ_DLOADE.ATJ is now detected by Trend Micro as BKDR_HELOAG.SM. It receives specific IP addresses and commands from a host bot.

Ah. It's probably "forum" that's the problem. A lot of those are fake, and worse.

You can help prevent subsequent badness if you update your 'host' file on your PC with the server name.

Example: www.google.com
If you do this example and add the entry to your host file, and try to go to www.google.com, you will not 'find' it.

Note: you need to shutdown/restart your web browser after each host file change, as it only reads it at startup

Your PC looks at the host file 1st, then queries DNS for looking up a site. is 'your pc' so it will not find them.

Works great for blocking annoying advertizers, too.


(your mileage may vary)

"There's some very nasty viruses attached to some sites near the top of Google search for this story."

It's that damn raw milk! Okay, you have to read to the bottom of the string for that to be funny (if it ever will be...:-)


BBC now reporting that many French airports including both Paris airports to close at 2100 GMT or earlier.

So, how long before the more serious Katla volcano blows?

I'm wondering what the implications are for short term global warming from the icelandic dust up. Will the ash block the Sun and reduce Arctic temps causing less Summer melt, or will the ash land on the ice and absorb more energy causing more melt?

As I understand it, significant volcanic eruptions with a dust plume in excess of 10km high, can have a global cooling effect in the hemisphere that it occurs in. But it is a short term affect of several years and doesn't alter the dynamics of the underlying global climate change.

The main problem is the increased cooling and precipitation that it causes, severely effecting agriculture and causing economic loss within the wider economy (plus increased energy use no doubt).

Maybe we can get some carbon credits for the cooling over the UK..

But you have to split the credits with Iceland, it was their volcano afterall ;)

At least according to the Weather Underground explanation, the major cooling effect is due to injection of large quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, yielding sulfate aerosols which may stay in circulation for years. The bulk of the ash, in contrast, settles out rather quickly (eg, thousands of square miles downwind being buried under the stuff). Eruptions in the tropics can have world-wide effects because stratospheric circulation there is rising and can move towards both poles, giving wide distribution. Outside the tropics, stratospheric circulation is generally sinking, and moves towards only the nearer pole, giving a much smaller global impact.

The Novarupta explosion in Alaska in 1912 was much larger than the Krakatoa explosion in 1883; but Krakatoa's tropical location gave it a much larger impact on global weather.

Correction: According to Wikipedia, Krakatoa was bigger:

At least two larger eruptions occurred in the 19th century: the 1815 eruption of Tambora (150 km3 (36.0 cu mi) of tephra) and the 1883 eruption of Indonesia's Krakatoa (20 km3 (4.8 cu mi) of tephra).

If this has a cooling effect, get ready for more years of denial based upon the cooling. Of course, we will have denial anyway,so maybe it doesn't matter.

The geology is against significant cooling. Iceland is on the mid-Atlantic ridge, where the tectonic plates are drifting apart. The rock is basic (opposite of acidic) and this has two effects.

1. Cooling from major eruptions is due to sulphur dioxide aerosols remaining high in the atmosphere for long periods. This volcano will have little or no sulphur in its emissions.

2. Basic lava is low viscosity which means that eruptions happen at lower pressure, and the ash cloud does not go above about 30,000 feet. At this altitude the ash is washed out by rain in a matter of weeks.

Picked this up from a volcano blog site :)

THE source of information on the current eruption of Eyjafjallajökull has to be the Eruptions science blog.

Threads in that blog include posts from Icelandic and other vulcanologists and have links to everything from real-time seismometer readings to Norwegian met office models of ash plume dispersion. Read a few posts and you'll also learn why equatorial volcanoes are the ones that sometimes lead to global cooling while volcanoes at higher latitudes usually don't

It's like Real Climate for vulcanologists.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Flights now mostly or entirely halted in at least UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Czech Republic.


OPEC May Take Output Decision If Oil Rises Above $100

Thought this was interesting. I think the consensus here is that $100 oil would cause problems for OECD recovery; any views on whether Chindia can sustain growth at $100? If so, I guess OPEC may not care too much about what happens to the "old" market any more.

Funny how $70-80 was a "beautiful, perfect" price for oil - but they won't do anything until it's more than 25% above that "perfect" price. Maybe another sign that there's not actually much they can do (especially with SA summer demand coming soon).

But regardless of depletion, would this statement become a self-fulfilling prophecy / act to drive up oil prices quicker than otherwise? What effect (if any) would this statement have on traders?


April, 2004:

Opec studying plan to boost oil price band by a third (April, 2004)

Mr Al-Naimi said: "Saudi Arabia continues to be committed to OPEC's $22-28 price band. There are signs that worldwide inventories have begun to build but no one really knows for sure. I do not believe there is a fissure [within Opec]. There is dialogue. Opec in general is committed to the band," he said.

April, 2014?

Opec studying plan to boost oil price band by a third

Mr Al-Naimi said: "Saudi Arabia continues to be committed to OPEC's $220-280 price band. There are signs that worldwide inventories have begun to build but no one really knows for sure. I do not believe there is a fissure [within Opec]. There is dialogue. Opec in general is committed to the band," he said.

As I have previously noted, Saudi Arabia, circa 2002-2005, was actually doing everything they could to bring oil prices down. Saudi net oil exports versus average annual US oil prices from 2002 to 2008:

2002: 7.1 mbpd & $26
2003: 8.3 mbpd & $31
2004: 8.6 mbpd & $42
2005: 9.1 mbpd & $57
2006: 8.4 mbpd & $66
2007: 8.0 mbpd & $72
2008: 8.4 mbpd & $100

However, starting in 2006, "weak demand" continued to drive oil prices higher, and the Saudis were forced to reduce their net oil exports, because of said "weak demand," "Even for their light/sweet oil." Of course, some of us think that they really didn't have a choice.

And I fully expect that when and if we hit $200 oil, the Saudis will be complaining about "weak demand" for $200 oil.

In other words, their spare capacity claims are a mirage in the desert.

And even if the spare capacity actually exists, they've discovered that the price at which (a) global demand drops significantly or (b) serious efforts to switch to alternate fuels begin is much higher than they thought. Lots of analysis has been spent on trying to figure out who is the swing producer for oil, if there is one; in the meantime, the swing consumer has changed, and China/India seem to have a tolerance for higher prices.

GreenIan asks if Chindia can sustain growth at $100/barrel.

It may take an even higher price to cool the Chinese economy.

China’s Economy Surges in First Quarter http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/business/global/16yuan.html?hp

China, and India as well as the smaller countries of Greater Chindia like Vietnam, can profit from burning $80 oil. Given inefficiences in their use of oil, I expect that they can profit from burning oil at twice this price.

USland, including sidekicks like Canada, has a great deal more difficulty with $80 oil, but given the huge waste of oil in the transport sector of USland, could reduce the negative economic impact of higher oil prices by forcing people to volunteer for less motorized travel and smarter motorized travel. Two people per car would be a great start.

Even then, I think the likelihood is that USland is going to be progressivly deprived of opportunities for wasteful consumption and may be forced into a lifestyle of more social engagement (North Americans have fewer friends today than even a couple of generations ago). It is likely that exercise will return to life outside the gym.

The truly big issues touch on social justice and economic vitality. How is the burden of adjustment to a less wasteful lifestyle going to be distributed? What is the economic impact of intergenerational wealth transfer when it results in rich idiots (George Bush comes to mind) running companies, and leaves most smart, innovative people struggling to gain access to accumulated capital. The problem is not, as some believe, whether capital is sufficient, but who gets to direct its employment.

While some foresee roving bands of starving pillagers, rapists and murderers wreaking havoc as the world burns its way into the second half of the oil endowment, I believe USland and other will witness minimally violent class warfare as the born-wealthy resist measures to create the equality of entrepreneurial opportunity history demands in periods of stress.

China, and India as well as the smaller countries of Greater Chindia like Vietnam, can profit from burning $80 oil. Given inefficiences in their use of oil, I expect that they can profit from burning oil at twice this price.

Is that a typo ?

Oops. Dropped an 'i'. Believe it or not, at one time I used to win spelling bees.


It's commonly reported that China uses oil inefficiently. I suspect that the situation is mixed with at least some firms/organizations/individuals using oil about as efficiently as anyone in the world.

The point is that in Greater Chindia, additional units of oil burned increase productive factors such as the mobility of labour and goods. In USland, the mobility of labour and goods is not improved by additional consumption of oil. Rising Chindian demand increases productivity there, but, in the face of peak oil, raises the cost of production in USland.

Conclusion: USland needs electrified mass transit and much, much higher fuel taxes to pay for it and all the other measures that USland needs if it wants to compete with Greater Chindia while maintaining the possibility of a happy and distressfree lifestyle.

In case no one has noticed, if oil prices stay just about where they are now, the YTD average (NYMEX WTI) will pass through the $80/BBL in just a few days (just in time for Earth Day). Current YTD average is $79.80/bbl.

WV Gov. wants a production halt at all WV mines:


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Joe Manchin is asking more than 200 underground coal mines in West Virginia to cease production later this week to mourn 29 miners killed in an explosion.

Manchin wants the mines across the state to cease production Friday to mourn the victims of the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.

The governor also signed an executive order Wednesday that tells state regulators to start inspecting mines immediately for combustion risks. Manchin wants inspectors to begin with mines that have repeatedly had combustion risks over the last year.

I'll bet that there is more to this than mourning the dead miners. While safety is a major issue, the coal industry doesn't need any more bad publicity. I'm sure the PR value is a consideration.

Many of the icons of our unsustainable business-as-usual have fallen on very hard times: real estate, automakers

It weakens their lobbyists and helps their opponents. In this case it may give the government an opportunity to tighten regulations. They should be doing everything they can to drive up the price of coal via onerous rules. Miner safety would be a great excuse.

Put an immediate moratorium on all new coal plants. Start phase out plan for all remaining. Don't wait for cap and trade. If cap and trade is worth its salt, it would result in same thing. But don't count on it.

Cap-and-Trade for CO2 will do very little beyond seriously enriching the trader class. A simple carbon tax at source is far smarter, cheaper and market neutral.

Yes. Obama should seize the opportunity to do just that.

BTW, IIRC, many of the coal plants coming up for license renewal will close down since it is expensive to upgrade to meet the new pollution emission requirements.

Interpreting Headlines - UK Gas Discovery

In the Dana Reports ‘Significant’ Gas Discovery in North Sea article we read:

The well, drilled in 142 feet (43 meters) of water and extending to a total depth of 11,048 feet, contains about 130 billion cubic feet of gas, the Aberdeen, Scotland-based explorer estimated. During drilling, the company encountered 218 vertical feet of “good quality” gas bearing sands.

I'm not sure exactly what they mean by "the well ... contains" but the immediate question one has is: "How much is 130 billion cubic feet of gas?"

The answer is immediately found in the Energy Export Databrowser:

Looking at the scale on the right hand side we see that 130 billion cubic feet is about a two week supply (14 * ~9 bcf/day). Another 26 'significant' finds like this and we're talking a year's supply.

Umm, ... Huzzah?

But it will help slow down the decline ... a little.

Best hopes for taking the time to put every headline in context.

-- Jon

Another 26 'significant' finds like this and we're talking a year's supply.

Jolly good, old chap! Won't be long before they're exporting gas to world. Carry on! Can we have some tea and biscuits now?

Re: context / terminology

I often wonder just how many people here in the US would see a headline or opening sentence / paragraph to an article such as the one you posted and think that they just made a major discovery of gasoline... with all the breathless exclamations of large gas discoveries / potential reserves etc. I bet this is another thing that adds to the disconnect so many people have regarding petroleum resources - we have plenty of gas(oline ?)

Also along those lines - in the story posted above about diesel vs. natural gas to power the trucking fleet, I find it extremely annoying that the spokesman refers to diesel as the "technology" for the future. Diesel is a fuel NOT a technology. I saw a presentation by Kunstler the other night and he had a slide that simply said "energy does not equal technology"... so of course someone says this very thing just a day later in the article above - unbelievable. No wonder we're in such a fix - we can't even get simple concepts and terms right... of course the cynical person would say that it's no accident that a lobbyist refers to diesel fuel as technology.

Quiet please.

The Tea Party Munchkins are on TV at the moment.

They want their Lollipops Country back.

They want to wish upon a star and make this the Great (Tony the Tiger) Country of ours Great again. They want to abolish all adult regulations so that the kids can play in a free market sandbox. They want Sarah Palin to be our moral and intellectual compass as well as our fearless leader. Great.

If only The Oil Drum party had a cast of characters as stupid and silly, The Oil Drum would rule the world. On TV traditionally, murder sells. Now Stupid sells.

Nah, it ain't "stupid" it's "if I beleive hard enough everything can be really great again, that's all that matters" that sells. There are many jokes based around how people prefer to believe something optimistic and false rather than depressing and true.

If only AlanFromBigEasy could stomach telling people that if America would invest in light rail people would be able to buy a train ticket and get a suitcase with a million dollars and a house in a gated community as a promotional freebie.


With that clarification, it is my opinion that we can call their party its synonym: "The Nostalgia Party"


step back -

why do you hate America ?

freedom isn't free...


edit: oh that reminds me - I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday (on a truck which I assumed belonged to a "tea bagger" type - it was an F-250 at least - couldn't tell because I was distracted by the bumper sticker and he was driving too fast (of course) to make out exactly what the model was...)

Anyways - the bumper sticker had a peace sign on it and then next to it was printed "The footprint of the Great American Chicken"

All I kept thinking was "we are so screwed..."

Anyways - the bumper sticker had a peace sign on it and then next to it was printed "The footprint of the Great American Chicken"

Here is a rebuttal bumper sticker:


(Full disclosure: Saw this in a car at a parking lot. Vehicle is not mine.)

i think this tea party is more like alice's psychedleic one with the mad hatter,cheshire cat and march hare.


psychedelic: of or noting a mental state characterized by a profound sense of intensified sensory perception, sometimes accompanied by severe perceptual distortion and hallucinations and by extreme feelings of either euphoria or despair. or madness.

On NG: Coal Chiefs Go on Offensive as Pickens Pushes Case for Natural Gas - NYTimes.com

In an austere House hearing room, top executives from the nation's three largest coal producers emphasized their collective role as sources of cheap electricity. The coal chiefs warned against a "dash to gas" and tried to poke holes in an emerging conventional wisdom that the North American natural gas supply is abundant enough and cheap enough to replace King Coal.

Meanwhile, in the ornate House Ways and Means Committee room, T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon turned clean energy activist, urged Congress to promote U.S. natural gas as a fuel for trucks and to boost gas as a source of "green" jobs.

"Because of cheap oil, we keep drifting, drifting," Pickens said, reminding committee members that the United States imports two-thirds of its oil supply.

Dunno how that's progressing. The 2007 info in the Transportation Energy Data Book doesn't list NG as a component of the medium/heavy truck fleet, I have seen numbers elsewhere but they're pretty paltry. 2.36% of on/off highway is powered by NG, which sounds impressive until you check and find out that means 9.50% of buses and 72.69% of pipelines.

Best hopes for taking the time to put every headline in context.

Indeed. I was having essentially the same discussion with the head of a university public policy department recently. He did not want to use very many numbers in a class on energy policy. My position was (and is) that the numbers are so big it is impossible for most people to develop any intuition about whether something is significant without doing at least back-of-the-envelope scale calculations. His opposition to building time series was even more pronounced; but how else do you work out that to sustain US conventional oil production at 5M bbl/day requires that we find and bring into production the equivalent of an East Texas every five or so years?

He's a nice guy, who really wants his students to get a good education, and I tried to be polite. But I'm sure my frustration came through from time to time.

Sounds like you need to sit him down and walk him through my presentation titled: Peak Oil by the Numbers -- Data Visualization for Global Energy Trends.

That talk has a story-within-a-story that discusses why it is so important to present good data graphics: humans are pretty terrible with numbers!

-- Jon

Science-y types on The Oil Drum might enjoy this video as much as I did:

Michael Specter: The danger of science denial.

Specter, a journalist at the New Yorker, represents everything that is right AND wrong about current scientific techno-optimism.

He excoriates anti-vaxxers, “alternative” medicine types, and the “organic elite” for their anti-scientific beliefs. Best line: “We hate Big Pharma … so we leap into the arms of Big Placebo.”

But, just like the people he excoriates, he over-simplifies things and indeed makes claims that are mere BELIEFS stated as foregone conclusions:

“I think it's fair that we can make food that will feed billions of people without raping the land that they live on. I think we can power this world with energy that doesn't also destroy it. I really do believe that, and, no, it ain't wishful thinking” [my emphasis].

For him it's all very simple: there are those who want to “go back” to the days before science, and there are those who want to “go forward” and continue “progress.” “Going back” is always bad. “Going forward” is always good. Except there really is no such thing as “going back”; everything is always moving “forward” in time. Even those of us who are homesteaders are simply harvesting ideas from all time periods and using them to move forward. “Nostalgia” is not the same as “Luddism.”

Ironically, he later says, “People wrap themselves in their beliefs, and they do it so tightly that you can't set them free.” But his belief in the inevitability of scientific “progress” to “innovate our way” out of the current ecological/energy predicament is just as irrational and unjustified as those who claim vaccines cause autism.

He identifies the “problem” only partially: He claims it's people's resistance to science that is holding back “progress.” He kills some of these flies very handily (anti-MMR vaccine hysteria, anti-GMO ignorance, etc.), but he ignores those big buzzards swooping over his head. Prolonging the lives of people with rice altered genetically to produce vitamin A only worsens the problem.

He never addresses the implacable math of exponential growth or our hideous dependence on profligate amounts of cheap energy. For Specter these are just problems that can be solved if only the anti-science types would get out of the way.

He acknowledges that we have to increase food production over the next fifty years by SEVENTY PERCENT! It never occurs to him that such “moving forward” is an invitation to calamity.

“We can set that time machine on anything we want. We can move it where we want to move it.”

This illusion that “we” control our own destiny is an old idea. It dates back at least to the Greeks. It's called “hubris.”

Sounds like Specter wants to “go back in time.”

The fact the you are absolutly, without-a-doubt convinced that his view of the future is wrong simply proves that you are as rigidly full of "hubris" as he is.

I disagree.

To state that one knows how the future is going to be hubris.

To question that is not.

I may be rigidly demanding more proof that the optimism of the bright greens is warranted, but that comes from the humility of recognizing that we humans have thought we have had all the answers so many times in the past and have so often failed miserably.

Technocopians claim that we will be able to solve the current set of problems with more complex technology. It seems that we have been continuously advancing technological complexity for quite some time and yet continue to find that we have problems. Insanity is repeating something over and over and expecting different results.

We have failed so badly that we can argue with people from half a world away over triviata in realtime from the comfort of our own beds.

If we should fail half so badly in the future life will be unbearably comfortable!

I have no idea what the future holds, except that it will hold people who will be absolutely certain that disaster or deliverance (or both!) is just around the corner.

It has always come down to what people believe. Beliefs are what "inform" decision making. As near as I can tell, this has always been the case. Facts matter, but they are rarely the things upon which people actually base decisions.

Understanding the importance of this, I've been concentrating lately on studying more about beliefs. The original impetus for my investigations has been my long standing astonishment and incredulity over the events in Germany leading up to and during WWII. How in the world, I wanted to know, could the most technically, scientifically, and culturally advanced nation on earth end up doing what the Germans did? The answer to this question can only be found by studying the BELIEFS which were ascendent in Germany during the late 19th century and early 20th century.

An investigation into these beliefs leads into an astonishing and deeply disturbing study of warped science and the occult. I had to learn about all sorts of weird stuff ranging from how scientific theory such as evolutionary biology can be bent and twisted as well as occult subject matter such as; theosophy, ariosophy, wotanism, theozoology and more bizarre philosophies, "Ice Earth" etc... It just goes on and on and people IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS actually BELIEVED in this stuff!

I hate to say it, but I think that the whole idea that if we all just "get the facts straight" we will be able to "get onto the right track" is nothing more than a pipe dream worthy of no one any more sophisticated than a Pollyanna.

Regarding Beliefs.. this section comes to mind, where Shirer notices his own ability to get blindsided by a belief system that allowed him to forget how different the ReichsKanzler's (?SP) worldview was from his own..

"As darkness settled over Europe on the evening of August 31, 1939, and a million and a half German troops began moving forward toward their final positions on the Polish border for the jump-off at dawn, all that remained for Hitler to do was to perpretrate some propaganda trickery to prepare the German people for the shock of aggressive war.

"The people were in need of the treatment which Hitler, abetted by Goebbels and Himmler, had become so expert in applying. I had been about in the streets of Berlin, talking with the ordinary people, and that morning noted in my diary: "Everybody against the war. People talking openly. How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead against it?" Despite all my experience in the Third Reich I asked such a naive question! Hitler knew the answer very well. Had he not the week before on his Bavarian mountaintop promised the generals that he would "give a propagandist reason for starting the war" and admonished them not to "mind whether it was plausible or not"? "The victor," he had told them, "will not be asked afterward whether he told the truth or not. In starting a waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory.

-W'm Shirer, Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich (p593)

I hate to say it, but I think that the whole idea that if we all just "get the facts straight" we will be able to "get onto the right track" is nothing more than a pipe dream worthy of no one any more sophisticated than a Pollyanna.

Yes, and there's also the issue of that "we." Specter says "we" can go anywhere we want.

Who gets to do the deciding where "we" end up? I don't think such "decisions" are actually made.

I think "we" just end up going where we're going.


Your line of inquiry is fascinating to me, and I hope I can hear more about what your observations/conclusions are as time goes by, if not on this forum, perhaps somewhere else or even by e-mail.

I wrote an essay for a Humanities class many years ago on this subject, in which I came to the conclusion that what happened in Germany went back to an essentially Anglo Saxon Viking ethic. I took a very philosophical position (perhaps mystical some would say, but I tried to support it with facts) that every cultural system combines the work of the hand (labor and craft) the head (arts, literature, philosophy, politics, economics, etc.) and the heart (morality, "belief" about the nature of right and wrong, of human destiny and the ideas of the perfection of the human race and the universe). These tools are used in the eternal human quest to overcome time and space, are two existential foes.

In the West, this has created a balancing act (as it must in some form in all developed cultures) between the three major areas of development...in the Western cultural history, the balance between the hand (the warrior kings of the old testament, the engineering and science from the Hellenistic and Helenic world, and the warrior ethic of the Vikings) the head (the reasoning and theoretical science of the Greeks, the number and math from the Arabic, and modern technical science of Newton, etc.) and the heart (the Christian ideas of mercy, stewardship, humility and restraint). It is easy to see that these ideas live in an uneasy peace) and in Germany in the late 19th century, a cult of ancient Germanic superiority was reborn, a cult of the Nietzschian "Will To Power" unfettered by what Nietzsche considered the "weakening influences" of Christian restraint and Greek rhetoric which reduces the driving force of WILL. Once will alone was accepted as the driving force, without the constraints of reason or morality to weaken it, anything became possible, including Hitler.

This should concern us, because as William Stubbs so correctly pointed out in his "Constitutional History of England", the English (and of course Englands heirs) are essentially Germanic in their cultural construction after the Teutonic invasions of Britain. While the Brits and the Americans pay homage to the Greek and Roman Latin influence, and proper humility before the prophets of Jerusalem, we are in our cultural construction essentially Germanic, essentially Viking. This is why the northern Europeans could never adjust to the cultural yoke of the church of Rome. The Reformation was much more a deep cultural divide than a religious dispute.

The American philosopher F. S. C. Northrop took the position that the Latin and the Anglo Saxon cultures were essentially irreconcilable with one another, thus his doubt about the idea of Pan-Americanism. If one draws a line across Europe from the Alps, across the Pyrenees, and extends it right into the new world along the Rio Grande river, we see cultural differences that are very deep...the clothing, the architecture, the music, the art, even the food is different to a surprising degree given that the forebears of these cultures shared a common continent.

I have never accepted Northrop's view that the two cultures are irreconcilable, but we cannot gloss over the deep cultural differences.

And once more, I have gone far too long on what is essentially a dead string...but it was rewarding to play through some of this again...even if it has little to do with oil or energy.

Thanks Jabborwok for getting the creative processes going :-) And again, I want to hear about your work as it develops.


Yeah, this is good stuff that you’re thinking about.

The essential thrust of my argument is that all cultures, nations and even small movements have a philosophical underpinning. This often is a product of diverse lineages of thought. The elements which are chosen from which to “build” the philosophy may (but not necessarily) be cobbled from a list entirely on the basis of convenience. “Convenience” in this sense is also the exact same thing as what is emotionally acceptable. Once this “philosophy” has been constructed, it may then become the all powerful guiding mythology. The mythology which guided the nazi leadership was cobbled together, entirely improvised, from a list of preexisting trains of thought.

And I believe that all great cultures, empires, nations, peoples, etc. have an important mythology which becomes a very powerful force in determining the course of those histories. So, if one looks back on say, National Socialism, and asks, “What were the facts available to the leadership in Germany at that time?” One is asking the wrong question. And as long as that is the only question asked, the actions of the Germans will forever be incomprehensible. One must ask instead, “What did they believe? What did they believe IN? What was the guiding Mythology?"

Let’s move forward in time to the year 2100 and for a look back upon a hypothetical end of American global hegemony, the end of the “car culture”, the end of economic growth and the crash of a great culture. If we ask, “What were the facts available at the time?” The actions of the American people and their leadership will be incomprehensible. So, let’s ask instead, “What was the guiding Mythology of the culture?” Asking that question, everything starts to make a lot of sense. Because what we will find is that the guiding mythology derived from; 1) The Enlightenment and its myth, “Human progress is linear. Human ingenuity is limitless and will forever move humanity “forward”. 2) The Industrial Revolution and its myth, “Technology will solve all problems.” 3) The American historical experience which contributed the myth of “American Exceptionalism” 4) Capitalism’s core myth of the “Perfection of the Marketplace”. As well as additional (mythical) refinements from dominant intellectual institutions such as the Harvard and the University of Chicago Business Schools which contributed myths about endless economic growth in a finite world, resource depletion, etc. Add to this mix some largely Christian ideas about our "birthright" to exploit the earth's resources (not to mention some christianity based resistance to facts pertaining to basic earth science).

What this all adds up to is a self contained, self reinforcing Mythology. It has been cobbled together over generations and it is this mythology which “illuminates” the path the elites of our culture are going to follow (taking us with them). I’m doubtful that there is any alternative. I think that our culture is doomed to follow the dominant myth to wherever it leads. The facts we “have available” aren’t going to matter in any material way at all.

Right on!

The Greens are no better on domestic climate policy. Their manifesto revels in the opportunity of using decarbonisation as a tool for social change, redesigning our cities, houses and transport systems to suit their vision of a socially inclusive future. Solutions that would not require fundamental changes in how we live and run large chunks of the economy, such as carbon capture or the nuclear option, are either ignored or ruled out.


It is time to break the link, beloved of Europe's Greens, between environmental protection and progressive social policy. Insisting that we have to reform capitalism before we can save the planet is clearly a good idea if your priority is reforming capitalism, but a very bad idea if you want to

address peak oil or climate change.

Left Out!

No source for that blast of right wing nut-ism.

E. Swanson

You've simply confirmed that you don't actually read any of the articles posted in the discussion section. And why the requirement for a reference on such a statement? So you can try to discredit it by discrediting the source, rather than discussing the actual statement, which contains no controversial facts?

I don't understand the hostility. Is it that you fear loosing the use of Climate Change (or peak oil) as a tool to move forward your actual agenda, economic restructuring and progressive social policy etc. etc.? That is a very similar position to the vehement rejection of absolutely any technical contribution to solutions to peak oil among the doomers on this site.

I'm as committed as anyone to economic restructuring and progressive social policy, but I do NOT propose to block any efforts to mitigate the coming hardships of peak oil or AGW simply because the solution provided may not fit my pre-concieved path to social utopia. We live in (relatively decent) democracies, and IMHO the only way we could improve on that is to get rid of the representatives and excercise our votes individually on every matter of weight now addressed by our parliaments / congresses. The core of any democracy is shifting aliances with each voter voting according to their own conception of their particular interests, self or broad social. If it happens that in order to adequately mitigate climate change, I must vote along with someone who believes that less educated / skilled people must live a very difficult life etc. etc, then so be it, because I want climate change addressed, not to fight over it forever.

What you describe as 'the core of any democracy' is not that; it is a single conception of the core of democracy. That you would place voting above equality before the law is just one example of how your conception differs from mine. As for the limited direct democracy you are proposing, I wonder how we are going to decide what are matters of weight.

I think that capitalism has to be put on the table in any discussion of resource degradation. Capitalism is a powerful force with a voracious appetite for resources. The capitalism that we know, and is there any other kind, requires growth. It is demand led, and purposely manufactures demand. Capitalism assaults the sacred, challenging the very idea in its relentless quest for new markets. Everything ultimately has got a price. Moreover, capitalism is obviously prone to crisis, never mind the stupid comments we heard not so many moons ago declaring that recessions and depressions were a thing of the past. Do you expect the moment of crisis, or the fear of setting off the next crisis, to be conducive to real action on climate change?

Now, I don't think that capitalism is going to be replaced any time soon. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be on the table when we are negotiating our way to effective actions to limit global heating. It is not an accident that countries that place social justice high on the agenda are leading the way on climate change. The struggle for social justice challenges the same axioms of capitalism that growth limiting proposals like carbon taxes do.

Toil, you can have equality before the law in a monarchy, or a tribe, or many non-democratic systems. And having a democracy does not guarantee equality before the law (or not all laws, anyway). Democracy is , literally, "rule by the people", and the mechanism used is, always, voting. If you don't have voting, you don't have democracy, it's that simple. That doesn;t mean a non voting system can;t work, or maybe even be better, it just isn't democracy, that's all. To be really pedantic, one might also argue a system, where the people vote, but it makes no difference (afghanistan, Iran, venezuela) is not democracy, and I would agree with that statement.

As for the limited direct democracy, California, for example, requires all new taxes, and certain other types of decisions (gay marriage, for example) to be done by a ballot question at the next election. I'm not saying California's system is ideal, but that is a limited 'participatory democracy'. I don;t know how they decided what does and doesn't require a ballot, but at some point, it was done. A condo board, for example, has certain decisions they can make, and certain others that have to be voted by the ownership at a general meeting (e.g. spending from reserve funds). Many clubs, unions, societies etc operate in the same way, where certain things must be put to the membership. There are many examples of bi-level democracy.

In the words of Winston Churchill "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried."

Those on the right apparently believe that advocating policies to help the environment is primarily a cover for a socialist agenda. I think it is the opposite. An agenda which includes more sharing of resources is necessary for a world of no or negative growth which in turn is necessary to significantly reduce carbon output.

I advocate a policy which requires sharing of existing resources rather than the perpetual policy that advocates growth so there are a few crumbs left to be dispensed to the unwashed.

A no or negative growth economy is not compatible with the current system. Call it capitalism if you will. But whatever it is, our current system requires perpetual growth and those on the left and right differ mainly in how we reignite growth so we can go back to business as usual.

One of the primary arguments in favor of capitalism is that it is relatively good at achieving efficiency, assuming a minimum of market distortions. Socialists and capitalists argue about whether that is true. I simply accept that it is true and, therefore, that is a good reason to modify capitalism. This so called efficiency is capital and resource intensive, to which the Archdruid has recently alluded. Another arrangement might be less efficient but more sustainable to the extent that it is more labor intensive.

I belong to an organic community garden which requires so many hours a week of work to be able to partake from the garden. The produce, however, is distributed pretty much according to the needs of each family without a strict accounting of the production of each family. It works and provides most of the vegetables we consume from May through about the middle of November with some vegetables provided year round. This is not necessarily the most efficient model, but it is sufficient and provides many psychic benefits to each member.

Unfortunately, both capitalism and socialism have become buzz words used to spread fear on both the right and left. I think we need to focus on what will work given our predicament. That which seemed to work in the past will not work in the future.


1) I am not "on the right", simply an honest social democrat outside the USA.

2) You confuse arguments regarding democracy (systems of government) with arguments on economic organization. The two are entirely of different matters, and there are or have been examples of the mixing of every range in the spectrum of economic organization operated within every system of gevernment possible. Capitalism within the most admirable democracy (Switzerland) to capitalism within the least admirable totalianarism (Chile under Pinochet) to democratic socialism (Norway or Sweden) to totaliarian socialism (Soviet Union).

3) The (unproven) possibility that capitalism as an economic organization may require economic growth to survive has nothing to do with a system of governance.

4) Your gardening example is a cute demonstartion of what is possible with an available excess of all resources. Try

The produce, however, is distributed pretty much according to the needs of each family without a strict accounting of the production of each family.

when part of the producing families are dying of starvation due to circumstances beyond the control of the producers, eg. dessertification of Eqypt's western border areas 4,000 years ago, prolonged cold in Greenland in the 1300's etc.

I personally have concluded (open to input) that a) workers need an incentive to work, as the world's population has grown beyond where every inhabitant can live well by hunting and gathering for just three days per year, as Easter Island at first visit by European record writers. b) people who choose to save a portion of their income rather than spend it immediately need an incentive to re-invest that saving, and the re-investment commonly benefits the entire community. c) Innovators need an incentive to invent new and improved means of doing things, from medical treatments to steel foundrys. Capitalism, with proper rules and regulations, is the most effective method of providing those which I've seen yet. There may be a better one, but it has yet to be demonstrated if so. It is arguably possible for a benevolent dictatorship to be more efficient and fair, but in every case it will eventually succumb to corruption and be worse.

Satisfy these problems and you may have a system. I personally have concluded that with the communications systems available to us now, we can do away with the representative middlemen in our present democracies. Individual voters who choose to not keep up to particular "portfolios" (foreign affairs, energy, agriculture, transportation, culture, etc.) can choose at any time to assign their vote to anyone else they consider knowledgeable to vote for them. Mothers get the votes of minors. Civil service operates as is, a figurehead head of state acts on rare cerimonial occasions, eg. governor general of Canada.

I wasn't talking about democracy at all nor was I talking to you so I don't know what you are talking about. I am not proposing a communitarian approach to everything or even most things nor do I suggest that it would necessarily make sense in the extreme examples you give. I just give an example to show that in some circumstances we do not need to be concerned with maximizing everything.

I do believe, however, that the right is obsessed with the idea that greens are trying to destroy capitalism and use environmentalism as a tool to do that. I do not get that as I and other greens that I know start with the premise that the environment should be enhanced or protected. The form of capitalism practiced at least in the U.S.A. often interferes with that and is certainly inimical to the view that growth needs to be slowed, stopped, or reversed.

Capitalism is, of course, very good at providing goods. That was my point. It has become too good at producing goods without producing too many bads. We agree it needs to be moderated with regulations. But that is where the debate often begins.

the right is obsessed with the idea that greens are trying to destroy capitalism and use environmentalism as a tool to do that.

I've come to the conclusion that labels such as "the right" or "the left", however much they may have been descriptive at some point historically, no longer carry helpfull meaning. I for instance am moderate right regarding investment, moderately left (I suppose, though I prefer to consider it "solely scientific evidence-driven") regarding AGW meaning I believe we need to be quickly doing whatever is possible to reduce GHG emissions, convinced of imanent peak oil and other resources, agnostic on the results (depends on our actions), radically left regarding how children's start in life should be provided (I like Denmark's provision of free access to all higher education for everyone as long as they can pass and maintain entrance standards, eg. if you can pass Harvard's entrance exams and maintain the grades, then the service is provided at no cost. No schools excepted.), a leftist regarding basic services such as medical care, food to a minimum decent standard, shelter provided it is cared for with no-one freezing on the streets, a centrist regarding corporate regulation (eg. no business may hold more than 33% of its serviced market, 34% is a monopoly to be broken up. Depository and lending institutions, investment promoters, anyone dealing in trust with other people's assets, must be closely monitored for fraud/risk/etc.). I consider religion to be entirely a fabrication of past elites with the sole purpose of imposing control on the masses to benefit elites, and that ethics have no relationship, in fact religion commonly confuses ethics and stultifies progress.

I'm quite convinced that we need to move to a single world government with the same rules and standards for everyone, with gradual but rapid-as-possible distribution of economic equality worldwide. All resources everywhere should be entirely owned by this one government, with very high extraction fees sufficient to ensure maximum recycling, minimum waste, maximum use of renewables. Civil services are to be organized at whatever regional boundaries make sense for the service provided, and their management boards of directors should elected from among qualified candidate experts in the service by mass popular vote ONLY IF a prior regularly scheduled vote has chosen to fire the incumbent or they voluntarily retire. and other points sufficient to exceed the space available here.

These labels may not be meaningful with reference to the man on the street, but the media bombards us with this stuff daily, including the insane nonsense coming out of what is in fact a right wing within the United States, which includes most of the Republican party and groups like the Tea Partiers.

The right, at least the part we hear from most, aided and abetted by people like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, would very much like to keep these labels going and find it very profitable. It would appear that everyone to the left of them is a socialist and we have everything to fear from this so called socialist takeover, led of course by Barack Obama.

Yes, there are people like you who hold a very nuanced set of positions depending upon the subject. Unfortunately, we live in a comic book world of stereotypes which is destroying America.

If anything, I come from the position that survival is at stake for the human and non human creatures of the planet. There is probably little hope of sustaining the enterprise called Earth but there is no hope if we continue the paradigm that growth should and must continue forever.

Unfortunately, we are in an era that could be called The Great Derangement which makes it impossible to ascertain much less act on some very basic facts.

And, sure, AGW could be just one very large coincidence. After all correlation is not causation so why worry about it. If only we had another planet exactly like this one so that we could run this experiment without CO2 to see what would happen.

The world government thingy may be good idea but what if we end up with the wrong government?

Unfortunately, we live in a comic book world of stereotypes which is destroying America.

Your duty is to oppose that by not operating in that mode yourself.

The world government thingy may be good idea but what if we end up with the wrong government?

What if we end up with what we have now?

It might help to define the job of government.

1) To maintain sole control of the use of force as coersion (or for any purpose includes defense)

2) To carry out projects which cannot be fairly done by other means, eg. expropriating land for the common welfare to avoid a lucky few landowners holding society to ransom with exhorbitant prices for required properties. (new bike paths, railways, electrical transmission pathways, pipeline paths etc.)

3) To be the entity which collects and submits payments for common goods agreed for purchase by the majority, particularly when a small minority of beneficiaries will try to freeload on the others. (street lighting, sewage management, snowplowing, etc. Government staff need not directly do the work, but government must pay whomever does.)

4) To enforce standards of education including setting of minimum ciriculum content and student achievement.

5) To monitor elements of public safety, including food service premise and worker cleanliness, product health risk, environmental pollution, exploitation of commons, etc.

6) To restrict by various means companies from acquiring or exploiting an unbalanced level of coersion against their employees and other businesses.

7+) likely several others.

One system to better capitalism as we know it now wout be the unconditional basic income which enables people to take action and frees the individual from basic economic compulsions.
Resulting in more education, a healthier distributian of capital and more fun across the board.

Happy people are most productive and also have time on hands to think about life in general...
Then they would find more time to think about global warming and other problems.

Basic capitalism creates compulsions and hinders people to participate in society and democracy/politics.

Everything is available...it just needs to be distributed properly.

Toilforoil - would place voting above equality before the law

Precisely where did that bit of misapprehension arise? Please provide some sort of tieback to anything I said. From here, it looks like an extremely silly tactical attempt to assign something discreditable to me with no basis.

I was just responding to what appeared to me to be a claim that the core of democracy turned on the voting thing and the shifting alliances that derived from it. In my view, the voting thing is important, but only one of the conditions needed before declaring the outbreak of democracy.

I'm thinking now that I misunderstood what you meant by 'core'.

We live in (relatively decent) democracies, and IMHO the only way we could improve on that is to get rid of the representatives and excercise our votes individually on every matter of weight now addressed by our parliaments / congresses.

One of the great myths of the age is that we somehow deserve better govermenment that we get. If anything, Westerners have gotten off pretty easily, preferring to turn a blind eye as their "leaders" plundered the planet and threatened lesser nations with incineration. We'll get ours, bub, and when we do, you'll have no justification for asking "Why Me?"

Peakoil Tarzan sums up what it is about doesn't he...RETRIBUTION! You have sinned and you will be punished, and the DIVINE WIND of peak oil will destroy YOU ALL who are left behind...well, except for the ELECT who will be safely tucked away on happy primitive little communes practicing the life of true virtue away from the Satanic roar of modernism.

Does this logic sound somehow familiar?


Agreed. In FAR too many ways, peak oil / peak resources is a religion, not a logical inquiry.

Homo sapiens, the animal that helps?

With the help of some toddlers, researchers have new insight into a fundamental part of human nature: altruism.

Humans care more about whether others try to help than if they actually succeed. And this priority is already understood by children as young as 21 months, according to a study published in the April issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Something seems depleted about that link, certainly.

Regarding All 30 Major League Baseball Teams Throw Curve to Climate Change Deniers
the best thing they could do would be to shut the whole thing down. How much energy would we save if we eliminated all professional and college sports? It would go a long way toward re-localizing our lives for post-peak living.

Of course such drastic power down actions are unthinkable. That's why we are headed for catastrophic collapse.

I wonder if this will be the last season for major league baseball? I can envision our large sports stadiums looking like the Roman Coliseum in a couple of decades - partially dismantled by scavengers.

There was an article a few years back that calculated the "carbon footprint" of the major pro sports. Baseball was the worst. Why? Because they play so many games. They play almost every day for half the year. Nascar cars may burn a lot of fuel, and the NFL may have a big electricity bill for those air conditioned stadiums and jumbo scoreboards, but it's the fans traveling to games that leave the biggest footprint. More games = more carbon.

I don't think it will be the last season for major league baseball. I admit, I wondered a couple of years ago if stadiums might be half-empty by now, especially for games that relied on long-distance travel, like spring training. Attendance is down a bit, but the parks are far from deserted.

Despite the economic problems, baseball is more profitable than ever. I think that will likely continue for quite awhile. During the Great Depression, men and boys traveled from all over the country to Florida, hoping to join a baseball team. It was one of the few steady jobs available.

Lower level sports has already been affected by high fuel prices. Amateur leagues shut down, Little League associations have scrambled for funding, high schools have changed their organizations and schedules so they can play teams that are near by.

But Major League Baseball? The salaries of the players have dropped sharply, but the profits to the owners have not.

I'm sure that the power elites will make sure that we plebes have our "panem et circenses" all the way up to the moment where the barbarians are at the gates.

I don't think it will be the last season for major league baseball.

Leanan, since you are a believer in John Michael Greer's stair step collapse theory may I suggest a listen to the following interview with Jan Lundberg:

Will Oil and Economy Taper off or Crash? - Jan Lundberg on Portland TV

I think he makes a pretty good case for the idea that our collapse will be swift and furious when it comes, not slow and stair step. I don't know if this is the last year for MLB either but I don't think its far off.

I simply don't think Lundberg is correct. He's interesting, but so far hasn't been particularly accurate.

Even if there's a steep economic crash...I don't think the end of MLB is close. Remember, this is a sport that began before the fossil fuel fiesta, and thrived during the Depression.

The minor leagues are very efficient. They always play games close by. Salaries are very low.

The lower minor leagues tend to play close by. The higher up you go, the more you travel.

The Triple-A teams are fairly far-flung. Especially the Pacific Coast League. You would think, with that name, that the teams are all on left coast. Nope. The New Orleans Zephyrs are a PCL team in Metairie, LA.

Even if there's a steep economic crash...I don't think the end of MLB is close. Remember, this is a sport that began before the fossil fuel fiesta, and thrived during the Depression.

Quite possible, although there will be lots of changes. If the light rail plans come through, in ten years Denver will be able to fill a reasonable number of seats with people who arrive by train. OTOH, Denver is probably not viable as a member of a nation-wide league without relatively cheap air travel.

The location of Depression-era teams did not follow the overall US population distribution; it was limited to the area where it was possible to get from city to city by rail in a series of overnight hops: Boston(2), Greater New York (3), Philadelphia(2), Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago(2), Milwaukee, and St. Louis. By contrast, the mean center of population in the US in both the 1930 and 1940 censuses was in western Indiana.

That's a problem that's relatively easy to fix, though. The divisions are already geographical (more or less), and could be adjusted to be even more so. A lot of games are within the division, so there's not that much travel.

The Yankees used to ride the train for three days when they had a game in St. Louis. Any more than that probably isn't reasonable.

But I could see pro sports teams flying even after it's become unaffordable for the rest of us. They have private chartered jets now, after all.

The location of Depression-era teams did not follow the overall US population distribution; it was limited to the area where it was possible to get from city to city by rail in a series of overnight hops: Boston(2), Greater New York (3), Philadelphia(2), Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago(2), Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

Minor correction: The Braves didn't move to Milwaukee until the 1953 season. Your list of Depression-era teams should read as follows: " ... Detroit, Chicago(2), and St. Louis(2)."

That would account for the St. Louis Cardinals AND the St. Louis Browns, which both played in St. Louis during the Depression.


EXACTLY CORRECT. Major League Baseball was born well before the age of aviation and automobile and can easily survive past the age of these things (whenever that day comes...

They can take Amtrak...

Think about it, this could be the greatest "retro" sport in history with fans and teams traveling on trains, themed parties aboard, it could be the greatest thing to ever happen to baseball as a sport truly interactive with the fans, and a reborn train culture....I like it :-) And then why not football, basketball?

I want to take an Amtrak trip from Chicago to West Glacier National Park...what a ride :-)


I don't think the fans will be traveling. The teams may well be, but the fans won't be able to take that much time off work. If they aren't working, most won't be able to afford the trip.

The fans will become much more local, long before the teams do.

What the sudden and utter collapse theories fail to account for is the reaction of powerful elites. They assume the elites are absolutely powerless to do anything - and they will all pack up and go home.

I'd like to see a scenarios based on game theory on PO ...

Funny thing is, even now new leagues are starting hoping to becoming bigger than NFL/NBA etc. Indian Premier League for Cricket was started 2 years back with players from all over the world.

"I see the IPL becoming bigger than the NFL, the NBA, the English Premier League,"


There was an article a few years back that calculated the "carbon footprint" of the major pro sports. Baseball was the worst. Why? Because they play so many games.

I loved baseball when I was a kid, but they way they televise it now it just makes me dizzy even to try watching it. They are obsessed with close ups of faces, and how many different angles they can show between every pitch. Foul ball, strike 1, ball 1, strike 2, foul ball, pop up out of play, ball 2, Snoozer!

Pro football has gotten so commercialized its boring in a different way, because they're gone so much of the time. I almost fell asleep twice during the Super Bowl. They keep making up more reasons to go to ads, and the time for those reasons keeps getting lengthened.

In many ways, it feels like its time to retool our entire society. I'm glad peak oil is occurring, because it seems like the more gadgets, sports, after market mufflers, booming music and food with melted cheese, the more shallow it gets. It seems like a world that is devolving into one of greed, self involvement, obnoxiousness and UFC fights. Let's take a step down to reconnect at a much more humanistic level.

I almost fell asleep twice during the Super Bowl. They keep making up more reasons to go to ads, and the time for those reasons keeps getting lengthened.

You're un-American. The ads are the main reason many watch the Super Bowl.

More likely us tree huggers and environmentalist will be hauled into the "coliseums" for some "fun and games" - retribution of course for us causing the energy crisis by not allowing drilling in ANWR, obstructing the building of new refineries, opposing nuclear plants, (insert another enviro cause here)...

On the brighter side, at least the endangered Lions and Polar Bears won't be going hungry any more! Of course, if they're subjected to the Emcee, Ms. Palin's voice amplified in the Anchorage Colisseum's PA for too long, they might just inherit the human tendency towards suicide instead..

(Silly Liberal! Bengal Tigers don't want Hippy Pinkos with good taste! They want Commie Elitists that taste good!)

You betcha!
So many liberals, so few lions.
Put a moose burger on the grill, and I'll get out some cheese whiz.

To be sure pro sports are non durable, discretionary, consumptive, FF dependent, and GHG intensive. Sort of sums up most of the current jobs structure in America. Having spent trillions of borrowed dollars to prop up such industries one wonders ,in the absence of same, what on earth people will do to earn a living, and how we can possibly promote the transition to such an alternative economy.

I suspect like the Romans we are going somewhat farther down the road on behalf of the trappings of non-negotiable lifestyle before it is finally wrenched from our grasp. As I understand it the spectacles became larger and more extravagant even as the hold on Empire became more unstable. Then at some point it became harder to get the more exotic beasts and larger armies as fewer lands were under control, apparently this didn't do much to diminish the brutality however.

How far it is from Super Bowl XLV to cage-fight-night in the Thunderdome is really anybody's guess.

Euro falls on Greek debt fears, stocks rise


I find it fascinating that MSM flip flops on Greek debt problems from day to day, with one day the news explaining their debt has been taken care of by other Euro countries - not to worry, then the next day there is news about Greek debt fears - be very concerned. Is this ping pong or news? Either it is a problem or it isn't -you are the press, so make up your mind.

But maybe that's the whole point. They know each time they get a strong response, they've done their job. So they milk it as many times as they can until there is no longer any reaction. Right now there is still a strong reaction, so keep the pressing rolling! Today we claim it is a problem. Remember people, don't run the same story on Greek debt two days in a row - we have them on edge, let's keep them that way by flip flopping. Tomorrow it's been taken care of - not to worry. Then back to its a problem, get it?

It looks to me like large hedge-fund manager doing what they can to encourage volatility, in which their computerized trading systems can hugely benefit from relatively small and very short-term price swings provided they know in advance which way the next swing. These days, volatility rules.

It looks to me like large hedge-fund managers doing what they can to encourage volatility...

That makes sense. Once it's understood it's for the purposes of turning an easy buck, that's easy enough to understand.

"This American life" has done EXCELLENT reporting on the crisis. I would encourage you to take 30 min, and listen to their radio show/podcast.
Inside Job
For seven months a team of investigative journalists from ProPublica looked into a story for us, the inside story of one company that made hundreds of millions of dollars for itself while worsening the financial crisis for the rest of us.
Download MP3 here:

And as the manager of the hedge fund, you don't even have to be right except over a relatively short period. With management fees of 2% of assets plus 20% of profits (not uncommon, at least a few years ago), and a billion dollars of other people's money, guess right for a couple of years and you're set for life. Regardless of whether the investors get wiped out in the third year or not.

Whether it's manufactured FUD or not, the MSN has long since passed the point of adequate signal-to-noise ratio in my mind. The obfuscation and cognitive dissonance over energy and finance should convince anyone with a sound rational mind that truth is somewhat lacking, or at least, clear cut, unbiased reporting.

Yes, the press likes it but there is a much much greater game. The flip-flops are directed by the institutional investors to make money on each turn. The flip-flops are coordinated with their "shorts" and "longs".

Regarding the CFTC:
If you want to have a true hoot, PBS "Frontline" did a wicked documentary, reporting on Greenspans -EPIC FAIL- With: CFTC. CFTC wanted to make -ALL- investment banking "Derivatives" publicly/openly traded. Greenspan, lost his mind over it. CFTC was publicly savaged. The vid is online for free: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/

My fellow Britons will know what I mean (if not in agreement!):

Clegg: school prefect, debating society, politically immature and a non-contender

Brown: a complete non-entity, my God this man has been PM? Nothing memorable

Cameron: Very much the consummate politician, almost statesmanlike and non-Blairish.

Still, no discussion about our energy requirements...

(btw: I report it as I see it, not necessarily as I vote it)

Ok, just switched over to BBC1 News to see the Green Party's manifesto launch. Now here is a party who I honestly want to get behind. I love their vision. I love their drive. But there was Caroline Lucas MEP, (who is Parliamentary Prospective Candidate for the constituency of Brighton Pavilion) (and who I would love to win btw) saying that they would scrap all nuclear power.

Now we know that the Greens are not going to form the next government, but they should at the very least be honest about the UK's energy requirements. There is no way we go the next ten years without commissioning new nuclear power stations. No way. The problem the Greens have is they are too beholden to politics of yesteryear without coming up with a credible plan to fill the void that the current - and future-planned - nuclear stations provide, should they be decommissioned.

You will not get Caroline Lucas to face the cameras and say, unequivocally, that we need a different economics where exponential growth on a finite planet is not possible; where she recognizes - in camera - that our current way of life is not sustainable and that a totally new way of economics and societal structure is due. I am sure that she would advocate such a radical new economics if only she - and the Greens in totem - only realized that they should not be fighting today's battles with yesterday's politics. Alas, they have been 'sterilized'. It is a shame.

That said, I hope Ms. Lucas wins Brighton Pavilion and becomes the first British Green Party MP. Alas, I am not in her constituency and so can not vote for her.

The trouble with 'greens' is they have to pull in a wide range of support from a minority of voters to make progress. So their agenda gets plenty of baby farming brown rice feel good sentiment without actually addressing the real mess [I did actually read it once], even if their leaders know better.

Which my experience with USA Greens indicates they probably do not.

Greens are just like everyone else, they have "their issue" and aren't all that curious about the rest. Worse, the ones who are determined enough to attain leadership roles have frequently made up their mind about their issue and are unpersuadable if they have beliefs that run contrary to actually attaining their goals.

I think the general consensus was that Cameron got more posh the more his blatant appeals to be the common man failed - making him look even more of a t*t.

Clegg seems to have won the debate from what I can tell, front pages of the papers seem to agree.

I followed it closely (I'm one of those rare USA guys who actually follows UK politics), and Clegg did come across quite well - both from my own personal impressions and from what the post-debate polling and punditry seem to indicate. Cameron seemed to come off OK, but the Conservatives have big negatives to overcome amongst much of the polulation, and he didn't seem to do anything to really change that. Brown appeared as an old, tired has-been; only the most rabidly partisan Labour die-hards seem to have given him high marks.

The conventional wisdom is that the LibDems "can't win it", and so they are a sideshow and a vote for them is a "wasted vote" (or will just cause whichever party you hate - to get in). Well, I very much suspect that this will be the year when the conventional wisdom is proven to be wrong. According to the polls that are just coming out this morning, the LibDems have registered a big uptick, thanks to Clegg's debate performance, and are now running neck-in-neck with the Conservatives for first place, while Labour has been relegated to a distant 3rd place. I don't know if these figures will hold up. There are two more debates that Clegg would have to get through, and Cameron and Brown will both be shooting at him instead of agreeing with him. Even if these numbers do hold, the quirks of the British parliamentary system make it extremely unlikely that the LibDems could win enough constituencies to become the majority party. However - and this is where the conventional wisdom is totally oblivious - it is quite within the realm of possibility that the LibDems could win enough seats to become the 2nd place party, and thus to become the "Official Opposition". People are speculating that there will be a LibLab or (more unlikely) LibCon coalition, given an almost certain hung parliament. I doubt it. More likely, the LibDems would much prefer to be the Official Opposition against a minority government (probably Conservative). This guarantees two things: 1) A Cameron government that will be crippled from the start, floundering around and not able to accomplish anything, and prevented from doing any real damage; and 2) a golden opportunity for the LibDems to shine week after week, as they contrast their style and substance against the Tories each week during Question Time. Meanwhile, Labour would be sulking and in disarray off on the sidelines, bogged down in a leadership struggle. This would probably only go on a few months, then there would be a no confidence vote, another election, and the LibDems would have a real shot this time of actually winning a majority. I don't know if this is the way it will turn out, but it most certainly could, and I don't think that many in the UK have really considered this scenario.

The raw milk article posted above is another version of the same article that's been getting published over and over again. It's like they have a "raw milk controversy" template that journalists must adhere to. Even the photograph is that same one that appeared in our paper a few weeks ago. Look for yourself:

Same old, same old.

These articles are all recycled B. S. They like the "controversy" over raw milk because both sides of the raw milk "debate" are INSANE.

Exhibit A:

To a small but dedicated community, it's "raw milk," a life-giving, vitamin and enzyme-rich miracle cure for asthma, gastrointestinal disorders and multiple other illnesses. The viewpoint, championed in the past decade by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which follows the nutritional teachings of a mid-century Ohio dentist, has gained a life of its own on the Internet.

This is unmitigated nonsense. It is dangerous nonsense. WAPF ought to be shut down.

We raise cows here. We use raw milk in cheese. Sometimes I drink raw milk.

But it is just milk! Raw milk is not an elixir, it's FOOD.

Exhibit B:

The Food and Drug Administration simply wants to protect the public from disease, says John Sheehan, director of FDA's division of plant and dairy food safety. Unpasteurized milk is unsafe, a view held not only by the FDA but also by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Virtually every scientific association there is is saying exactly what we do, which is that raw milk can contain pathogens and it shouldn't be consumed," he says.

You see? The "other side" is bonkers as well. They want you to believe raw milk is toxic. Raw milk is food!

Medical professionals' experience with raw milk-based sicknesses is biased because the cases are SELF-SELECTED. Even doctors don't remember to think of base rates or other statistical factors.

From the article:

In the USA, 137 food-borne illness outbreaks associated with milk products were reported from 1973 to 2006, resulting in 23,659 illnesses.

That's over a period of 33 years! 23,659 divided by 33 is roughly 717 illnesses a year. How many MILLIONS of glasses of raw milk are drunk in a year? The chances of getting sick--let alone dying--from consuming raw milk are minuscule.

In the local article I've linked above, this statistic was trotted out:

More than 1,500 people became ill from drinking raw milk between 1993 and 2006, the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 185 were hospitalized and two died.

If you do the math, that means in the 13 years between 1993 and 2006, 0.154 people died per year from drinking raw milk. I'd say raw milk is pretty safe.

What is it with so many "issues" you have crackpots on one side and hysterics on the other?

I'm sorry my friend, but you are mistaken about raw milk being FOOD. Certainly not healthy food. I worked many years analyzing milk in a dairy plant in Spain, and it is the same all over the world. Not that I bothered much with raw milk but sometimes I did it out of boredom. I had to dilute the samples 1 million - 10 million times so that the bacterial count in the Petri dishes could be read. There are more than one million E. coli per mililliter of raw milk, and some of them can be deadly. Also, all kind of assorted nasty bugs that can give TB, Malta's fever, Salmonella and other bad things.
It is standard in the industry never to hire anyone who has worked milking cows or at least never put them in contact with processed food products: when they milk the cows they are fond of drinking some raw milk, so they get infected and you carry Malta's fever for ever or certainly for five years even after treatment.

The first thing you do with the raw milk in a dairy plant is to centrifuge the liquid. You get a thick reddish paste in the plates of the centrifuge: they are pus cells (white blood cells, loaded with bacteria) from the udders of the cows. The material is so dangerous that it is forbidden to bury or throw it away. It must be burn. You drink raw milk, you drink the pus!
Then the milk is pasteurized, or some other heat treatment, UHT for example.
The more you heat it the safer it is, although there's a trade off: more vitamins get destroyed and even some amino acids.

Pasteurisation is not big deal, it is enough to heat the milk at 85C, and the old way, bring it to the boil three times is good.
The dairy industry of course is big business and the mark up in milk is at least 100%, when it is not 500%. It has turned a nasty product from the cow into safe and wholesome food so I think they deserve it, it is the fruit of many generations of research and technical development.

That's cow's milk, as to drinking raw goat's milk it is nothing less than suicide.

Well, easy there now. I agree that pasteurization is a common-sense thing to do when possible, but I grew up on a farm where I drank two or three glasses of raw milk every day for many years, to no ill effect. I also would note that (I think) if your dairy is receiving milk with puss in it (from cows with udder infections, mastitis) you need to start policing your dairy operation better. Salmonella, cleanliness standards on the farms. And the "bug count" in that yoghurt you likely eat each morning will also be very high.

The real concern with commercial milk operations is that they are running thousands of litres through the same equipment. If you get milk from one cow with tuberculosis or typhoid into the system, and you don't pasteurize it, you could have a wide-scale epidemic of a very serious disease affecting thousands of people.

E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, and brucellosis are relatively common in cows, and sanitation standards vary from farm to farm, so there is a real chance of people getting being sick from raw milk. Sometimes these diseases are deadly. And there are other diseases that can get into the milk as well. It's even possible to get rabies from milk from rabid cows.

In general, large scale distribution of raw milk is a really bad idea.


If what you say is true, wouldn't that have resulted in the near extinction of the human race, who for at least 5,000 years has been drinking raw cow and goats milk (there are whole cultures who have used goats milk as a mainstay for generation after generation)

Amazingly, just as animal husbandry (and the drinking of cow and goats milk) began to take off, so did population growth...does that outcome in any way follow the logic you put forth?

I do agree with those who say that raw milk should NOT be produced in mass centralized plants...throughout history it has been produced by small local farms and not transported any great distance. Raw milk is not a "scalable" industry.


Humans have been drinking untreated milk for thousands of years, and some got ill, or even died of the infections.

However, milk is not a universal human food. Until we evolved the gene for lactose tolerance, some time in the last 20,000 years, cows milk was toxic to us and undrinkable. In fact, the gene is still not universal. Many Asian people cannot drink milk, because they lack the gene.

after all, drinking the bodily fluids from a different species (other than blood) is rare in the animal kingdom.

Thanks, guys and gals for the rational responses to santaluciae's hysteria. His or her comment is typical of the kinds of responses you get from one polar extreme of the debate. The other polar extreme, which I cited above, is the loony argument that raw milk cures disease.

Just so my position is clear: I am all for pasteurization! It's one of the wonderful discoveries that has helped prolong human life. ALL commercial dairy products must be pasteurized. I would NEVER buy raw milk from a large-scale dairy operation.

But raising your own cow, milking it yourself (the teats wiped down with sterilizing agent with your own hands, the fresh milk squeezed from teats with your own hands, through straining cloths into sterilized pails), plunging that milk into ice water--then gulping it down on a hot day is a pleasure like no other.

Is it actually possible in the USA to buy raw milk from dairy plants or farms, at all? I mean, legally.
In Spain it is absolutely against the law to sell it to the public. The Centrales Lecheras have an absolute monopoly on buying milk, then sell it to the public after careful processing and standardization. Because some greedy people would add water to the milk, then sell it to the public. Apart from the health issues.
Some people sell it of course: some people would sell drugs too, what can I say.

One of my duties used to be to analyze the protein, fat and lactose, total solids content from the farms. Then we paid the farmer according to the quality of the milk delivered that day. Some of them we did not pay at all, it was half water!
They had "baptized" the milk because it was too strong, you see:-)
They knew we analyzed every milk can, and they watered it anyway.
After the analysis I would tell the men how much cream and how much powdered protein to add, to raise it to the government standards. So much for Nature.

Do not give me that about healthy cows. No such thing, what a dirty animal.
Do you know that humans can catch foot-and-mouth disease from cows, or badly treated milk? A friend of mine did, and he's not going to forget it easily. Add it to the enormous list of diseases that cattle transmit to humans.

You don't think that milk in a dairy plant just gets sloshed around, do you? For your information it must be the food industry with the highest standards, and with good reason.
As soon as it enters the factory, milk doesn't see light again (it destroys vitamins), it moves through stainless steel tubes pumped by machines and everything is sterilized several times a day with pumped boiling water, a concentrated solution of NaOH, then a boiling solution of nitric acid, then more boiling water. A graph of all the processes is kept for government inspection.

Rest assured that pasteurization (or UHT) is not easy or cheap, it is done for very good reasons of public health. Before that (Pasteur in reality invented his procedure for wine) milk, raw, was a source of disease in the crowded cities of Europe and America.

I'm one of the lucky ones. My partner not so much.

However, lactose-intolerant people can usually eat cheese, yogurt and butter.

Really, that's all you need to really enjoy your cow (short of putting it into the freezer).

RalphW said "after all, drinking the bodily fluids from a different species (other than blood) is rare in the animal kingdom."

I would have to agree with that one...after all, how many gorillas have been trained to milk a cow...:-) (you guys are crackin' me up tonight :-O


I would go so far as to say drinking milk past weaning is an oddity for Homo sapiens. The gene for lactose tolerance is not only not universal, it's found only in a minority of humans (notably Northern Europeans and the Masai). Lactose intolerance is the norm, not the exception.

However, many societies have found ways around this by fermenting the milk into yogurt, cheese, etc.

I forget which post it was, but in the last year or so on TOD there was discussion that the lactose-digesting mutation allowed a much higher density of population on a given amount of land; sorry I don't have a link.

Those of us who can digest it are clearly evolving into cow vampires. Got milk?

Lactose intolerance is still the human norm. It is mainly descendants of Northern Europeans and a couple of tribes in Africa that can digest cows milk as adults. You need to have some specific DNA mutations in your genetic makeup to digest cows milk. This is a relatively recent introduction to the human genetic makeup, like, for instance, the mutations for European white skin. If you have the specific mutations that result in the white skin that most Northern Europeans have, you probably also have the specific mutations that result in you being able to digest milk. (i.e. 90% of the time).

A lot of people don't realize this. School milk programs are a bad idea unless your school children have the right genetic background (i.e. mostly Northern European). On the other hand, if your skin color is not European white (as distinct from other white skin mutations), you probably can't digest milk as an adult.

That's cow's milk, as to drinking raw goat's milk it is nothing less than suicide.

I've been dead for over 30 years now and didn't even know it!

I drank raw milk every day for the first 17 years of my life, all of my family did also. The cream was seperated from the milk to make sweet cream and sour cream butter. We also left the skim milk stand to sour and ate sour milk like jellow. The skim milk was also left to seperate to curd and whey and then the curd was strained to make home made cottage cheese. Sweet cream was whipped and used on pastry also. This was not an isolated occurance it was practiced by about every farmer in America in the thirties and forties. If a farmer owned a cow his family drank the raw milk in those years. I would say it is more dangerous to drink water today than raw milk from your own cow.

Since it's anecdote day on the Oil Drum allow me to just mention my friend, a young mother who drank a glass of raw milk on a tour of an organic dairy farm, and ended up nearly dying during a 6-month stay in the hospital as a result of the food poisoning she got from it. Her kids still don't have their mother back in the same form as before she got ill.

Yeah, it's anecdotal evidence. But I'll take my milk pasteurized, tyvm.

I have no doubt that such an incident is possible. The "hits" are always remembered. The "misses" not so much. You don't hear anecdotes about the thousands of people who drink milk every day and don't get sick.

But it is also possible to catch TB by walking down the street and having someone cough on you.

It is also possible for an infant well-strapped in a car seat to die in a car crash.

It is possible to get struck by lightning in your front yard (and incident that happened in my town recently).

Nor would I dissuade you from choosing to stick with pasteurized milk.

I'm simply asking that people ON BOTH SIDES of this issue try using their heads a little.

The home place is surrounded by 224 wind turbines stretching across two counties, Winnebago and Hancock, with 134 of them being in Winnebago county.

The county supervisors plan on spending the tax revenue from these new turbines on road construction and not to wait for the actual taxes to show up. They want to sell bonds based on the anticipated revenue which starts in 2011.

The county will be using revenue from three wind turbine projects-Winnebago Windpower with 10 towers, Crystal Lake II with 80 towers and Crystal Lake III with 44 towers. The tower projects are part of a TIF district in which taxes are deferred for a certain period. The projects are scheduled to begin paying taxes in 2011 and the county will use that income to pay debt on the roughly $19 million in bonds.

The 134 wind turbines in the county are expected to generate an estimated $50 million in taxes over the next 20 years, Reisetter said.


“We are relying on the wind generators,” Oulman said.

“This is a win-win situation for everybody,” Reisetter said of the proposed TIF bonding projects.

Reisetter said the planned projects for 2010 will make it the largest construction project season in his 27 years with the county.

“This is by far the biggest year ever,” Reisetter said.

Construction of the towers has damaged gravel roads and trucks servicing a new feed mill for local hog factories are tearing up black top roads. But the turbine construction is mostly over now and hog factories are not one of my favorite things.

In view of peak oil and a rural area with declining population I question spending wind turbine tax money on roads. But the article sounds like the Board of Supervisors is set on it.

Stop the roads. They are the enemy of peace, quiet, and beauty.

Not one word of comment on the two most interesting articles linked on todays Drumbeat (oh well, I have come to expect little...out in the country we used to say "some folks look at things with the perception of a pig looking at a pocket watch):

Can these claims be true? They are talking 35 billion dollars in capital outlay…that is a piss in the sea compared to the money the financial community bleeds out of the economy almost monthly. I am going to be doing some heavy reading…I take EVERYTHING with doubt nowadays,but I have things to learn.

The other one:
Can someone please explain Hawaii to me? Here we have a set of islands bathed in sunlight, with possibly one of the best growing climates in the world, the wind blowing off the open sea…and it imports ALMOST EVERYTHING. A testament to how cheap energy must still be...
I have said before that islands like this, Hawaii, the Caribbean islands, islands off Africa in the Mediterranean, these should be our pilot procects…if alternative energy and local food production will not work there, it will not work anywhere.


Can someone please explain Hawaii to me? Here we have a set of islands bathed in sunlight, with possibly one of the best growing climates in the world, the wind blowing off the open sea…and it imports ALMOST EVERYTHING. A testament to how cheap energy must still be...

Or the opposite: energy that comes from non-fossil fuels is a lot more expensive than you think.

Hawaii has tried. They are a very environmentally-minded state. Their bread and butter is tourism, so an oil spill would be a nightmare. They have a geothermal plant, wind farms, solar panels, and plants that burn trash and agricultural waste for energy. They used to have an ocean thermal plant. Last I heard, they were trying to develop a biofuel industry based on sorghum.

But it's all so expensive it can't compete with fossil fuels. Originally, there were supposed to be more geothermal plants, and a cable to export the electricity to Honolulu. Never happened, because the first geothermal plant was so troubled, and so expensive.

As for food...the island with the sparsest population now has twice the estimated population that drove Kamehameha to Malthusian conquest in the old days. Ancient Hawaii was right up against the edge, as evidenced by their extensive food "kapus" and history of food shortages.

Thanks for what is a well reasoned response, Leanan. It is incredible when you think about it...the oil broght to Hawaii has tobe found, produced, refined, ship halfway around the world no matter where it comes from and even at todays prices still seems to be able to easily out-compete renewables.

As you know from the posts I have written on TOD, I am a supporter of alternative energy technology, and I think it is soon to make a leap forward in scalability and efficiency of cost per kilowatt...but facts must be faced: If alternative energy cannot compete in places like Hawaii, with its low need for climate control, short distances of land transport and remarkable climate for food growing, it is hard to imagine how it would easily work anywhere in the world. Alternative energy fans, myself included, need to look at these cases and ask the hard questions if we hope for alternative energy to have a meaningful place in supporting modern culture. Otherwise, we just have to pray like mad that fusion nuclear power will work, and damn fast.


Hydrogen still in the eco-car race

Hydrogen, one of Earth's most abundant elements, once was seen as green energy's answer to the petroleum-driven car: easy to produce, available everywhere and nonpolluting when burned.

Hydrogen energy was defeated by a mountain of obstacles — the fear of explosion by the highly flammable gas, the difficulty of carrying the fuel in large, heavy tanks in the vehicle, and the lack of a refueling network. Automakers turned to biofuels, electricity or the gas-electric hybrid.

But hydrogen, it turns out, never was completely out of the race. Now Israeli scientists and entrepreneurs claim to have brought hydrogen energy a step closer by putting it in much smaller, lighter containers.

Rather than using metal or composite cylinders of compressed gas that look like bulky scuba gear, hydrogen is packed into glass filaments which, once out of the lab, will be only slightly thicker than a human hair.

These 370 glass capillaries are bundled into a glass tube called a capillary array, about the width of a drinking straw. The scientists say 11,000 such arrays will fuel a car for 400 kilometers (240 miles), take less than half the space and weight of tanks currently installed in the few hydrogen cars now available.

"We have shown new materials that can store more hydrogen than any other system," says Dan Eliezer, chief scientist of C.En Ltd., the company based in Geneva, Switzerland, where the Israelis are developing their invention.


That's good, but it doesn't resolve any of the issues relating to hydrogen production, or the fact that H2 fuel cells are still, and will remain, far too expensive for vehicle use.
But, it would be interesting to see if this stuff can be used for CNG - an advance in storage there is just as useful as for hydrogen.