Drumbeat: April 21, 2010

World Bank Report: Lights Out? - The Outlook for Energy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia [PDF]

Emerging Europe and Central Asia, the region made up of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), is a major energy supplier to both Eastern and Western Europe. However, the outlook for both primary and derivative energy supplies is questionable, with a real prospect of a significant decline during the next two decades.

Western Europe is heavily dependent on energy imports from this region. It will therefore be affected by declines in primary energy supplies. But Western Europe has the financial capacity to secure the energy supplies it needs (albeit at the expense of others). In contrast, the region’s energy-importing countries are caught between Western Europe, which has increasing import needs, and the region’s exporters, whose exports will likely decline. These countries face the prospect of being squeezed both financially and in terms of energy access.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Eruption of Eyjafjallajokull

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano last week and the subsequent halting of air traffic for five days across Europe serve as a reminder of how vulnerable our civilizations remain to forces of nature despite our seeming mastery of fossil fuels.

Experts Warn of Impending Phosphorus Crisis

The element phosphorus is essential to human life and the most important ingredient in fertilizer. But experts warn that the world's reserves of phosphate rock are becoming depleted. Is recycling sewage the answer?

Blowout Suspected in Transocean Rig Explosion

The speculation is that something went wrong with the circulation of this drilling mud such that it could no longer control the reservoir pressures. This would have caused what's known as a "kick" -- when oil or gas flow into the wellbore during drilling. It seems likely that this oil and gas came up the wellbore. Once ignited, it fed the fire.

The Energy Policy Morass

For more than three decades American energy policy has mostly been a muddle, and often a farce. But the time for muddling through is over. As the global economy recovers, oil prices will likely head back over $100 a barrel, with $4 gasoline returning to the United States. American oil production continues its needless long-term decline. Our electricity grid is antiquated and vulnerable to disruptions. As the economy recovers, electricity shortages may begin to appear, even in (or especially in) anemic California. New discoveries of domestic natural gas, however, are revolutionizing our energy outlook, but also complicating ambitions to develop more costly non-fossil fuel energy. Polls reveal significant shifts in long-term public opinion about energy, with majorities now expressing support for more domestic fossil fuel exploration and expanded nuclear power. This is no doubt a large part of the reason for Obama's insincere recent initiatives on oil drilling and nuclear power. But it may be possible to press for more serious steps over the next few years.

Networked Networks Are Prone to Epic Failure

Networks that are resilient on their own become fragile and prone to catastrophic failure when connected, suggests a new study with troubling implications for tightly linked modern infrastructures.

Electrical grids, water supplies, computer networks, roads, hospitals, financial systems – all are tied to each other in ways that could make them vulnerable.

“When networks are interdependent, you might think they’re more stable. It might seem like we’re building in redundancy. But it can do the opposite,” said Eugene Stanley, a Boston University physicist and co-author of the study, published April 14 in Nature.

Debunking Peak Demand

The notion of ‘peak demand’ is often invoked to suggest that the US or global economy is somehow less in need of affordable oil today or that Americans are simply finding car ownership passé. But is this really the case? Are we weaning ourselves from dependence on oil? The statistics paint a more nuanced story. It is fair to say that consumption in most of the OECD countries has peaked. In fact, consumption peaked in Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom in 1979—more than 30 years ago. Per capita consumption also peaked in the United States and Canada in 1979, although total consumption has increased as a function of population growth. So, by some measures, peak demand in the advanced economies is nothing new — it occurred more than a generation ago.

Black Sea fleet key to gas deal

Russia today agreed to cut the price of its huge natural gas supplies to Ukraine in exchange for a 25-year extension of the lease of its Black Sea fleet on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Haiti: Running on fumes

Other than stomach parasites, the one gnawing worry that keeps me up at night here are the gas shortages, which frequently plague Jacmel. We learned this the hard way on our third day on the ground(the upside was that our driver, James, had a rusted out old van with two wooden benches inside of it that runs on diesel if you know how to manually jiggle the battery to get it to start).

The telltale signs of shortages begin with motorbike lineups at the gas pumps that stretch more than 50 vehicles long. That usually happens on the first day or so. By day two or three, the gas stations are empty, the only silent stretches of asphalt in the whole town. Usually, by some miraculous turn of events, a gas truck rolls into town on the fourth day or so. The lineups can last over an hour sometimes. But everyone fills up again, and off we all go.

The future of flight

As oil production goes down – and the US Department of Defense predicts a severe crunch by 2015 – air travel will have to go back to what it was at least two generations ago, if it remains at all. We can get electricity from coal, nuclear, wind and solar, we can warm ourselves with coal, electricity or wood, and we can transport ourselves over land in electric rails or buses. But there are no solar-powered manned planes, no nuclear airbuses and no wood-stoked jets. Planes need petroleum.

Bio-fuels could potentially keep at least some planes flying indefinitely. But ethanol, for example, uses almost as much energy to create as it generates, so the remaining flights might well be mostly military, with a few for wealthy passengers.

Rotting wheat in warehouses threaten price rise

NEW DELHI (Commodity Online): At a time, when wheat production in the country is seen contradicting the higher estimates given by the union agriculture ministry, a large volume of the grain is reported to be lying idle in the government warehouses fuelling the prices.

China reaches out for younger generation to promote low-carbon lifestyle

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Land and Resources will hold a ceremony at 10 a.m. Thursday to mark the 41st World Earth Day.

With the theme "Cherishing the earth's resources, transforming the mode of development and living a low-carbon lifestyle," the Internet campaign aims to generate new ideas, especially among the younger generation, the ministry said on its website Wednesday.

Are policymakers, economists and peak oilists starting to speak the same language?

A rash of papers, comments and interviews have made us think this recently. It’s not as simple as ‘policymakers are waking up to peak oil’, but that all those groups — and indeed, industry — are increasingly talking about the same issues looming in fossil fuel production, even if they’re using different terminology.

It’s still the rare politician or industry executive who would use the phrase ‘peak oil’. But in the UK, a country for whom domestic oil production decline is very much a concern, the issue has become almost mainstream.

Britain 'facing electricity blackouts'

Britain faces widespread electricity blackouts within six years, government experts have warned.

Ofgem, the national regulator of gas and electricity, have suggested in a report that power cuts could start in 2016 – three years earlier than previously thought.

...Ofgem’s study warned that demand for electricity and gas could outstrip supply in the future, causing a national energy crisis.

Ofgem said that a worst case scenario would be failing levels of supply at peak times, including the evening and during winter months, by as early as 2016.

Public anger grows over Pakistan's electricity crisis

Islamabad - Pakistan is considering aggressive measures to ease its energy crisis as growing public anger over prolonged power cuts threatens wider unrest, officials said Wednesday.

"A high-level meeting is taking place today to finalize the measures to overcome the power crisis, and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will announce the decisions on Thursday," the premier's spokesman Zafaryab Khan said.

The government is considering plans to temporarily expand the country's current one-day weekend to two; advance clocks by one hour; and order businesses to close at sunset.

NPT urges govt to get China, Iran help on power crisis

LAHORE - The 3rd meeting of Nazria Pakistan Trust General Council under the Chairmanship of Majid Nizami here on Tuesday in a joint resolution said that Indian water aggression is leading the region towards war while peace depends upon the end of Indian water aggression. But it was resolved that India would not be allowed to turn Pakistan into desert.

Pakistan: Urgent steps needed to end energy crisis: Shahbaz

LAHORE: Traders from Faisalabad chanted slogans against the federal and provincial governments and boycotted Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's meeting in Lahore regarding energy conservation steps, on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the Punjab Chief Minister said that the current shortfall of electricity stood at more than 6,000 megawatts. He said that all the power generation sources combined were producing 10,300 megawatts of electricity per day. Sharif also apologised for the manhandling by police during protests against load shedding.

Protests against power outages continue

LAHORE - As the energy crisis continue to worsen, hundreds of traders, shopkeepers and local residents Tuesday took to streets and staged strong protest demonstration at Chauburji against massive loadshedding. The protesters mostly shopkeepers rejected the government decision to close down the business activities in the City before 7:00pm.

Aramco mulls Yanbu refinery after Conoco withdraws

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday it was evaluating how to proceed with its Yanbu oil refinery project after joint venture partner ConocoPhillips pulled out.

Saudi Aramco Changes Plans for Ras Tanura Project

Saudi Aramco has decided to move its biggest-ever project, a $17 billion-plus (SR63.75 billion-plus) petrochemicals project with the U.S.’s Dow Chemicals, from Ras Tanura to Jubail. The location change will allow cost savings of up to 40 per cent, as the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu will provide the basic infrastructure needed for the project, including utilities such as power and water. This move will also see the company cancel an $8 billion (SR30 billion) refinery development in Ras Tanura and make major changes to schemes worth an additional $17 billion (SR63.75 billion).

Worker killed in Port Arthur refinery accident

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — An industrial accident at the Motiva (moh-TEE'-vuh) Enterprises LLC refinery in Port Arthur has claimed one life.

CNPC says Iran, Iraq oil projects proceed well

BEIJING (Reuters) - State-owned CNPC, China's largest oil and gas firm, is progressing well with its oil exploration and development projects in Iraq and Iran, a company newspaper said.

Who Killed California?

The west coast energy crisis represented the first returns from bipartisan deregulation in the energy industry. It was that deregulation that enabled companies like Enron to fabricate shortages where none existed and run up prices to absurd levels that state and local authorities paid to prevent blackouts from crippling the economy. An estimated fifty billion dollars was transferred from California to a handful of Texas based oil and energy companies. Enron would eventually pay a price but the rest got away with the cash. It was – and is – a foolproof business model: Steal billions in profits and pay millions in fines.

Dear Planet Earth, R.I.P.

I'm not exactly sure when the global warming debate crossed the line that separates the sublime from the ridiculous, but it is clear we've entered a whole new age of hot air.

Meet Bill McKibben, who many describe as a climate pioneer and whose books and lectures have certainly deposited him at the front lines of the environmental movement. Think of him as America's David Suzuki, except taller and more amusing. In a recent interview with Salon.com, while promoting his latest work of doom and gloom, he pronounced Earth, as we know it, officially dead.

A New Approach in the Senate To Putting a Price on Carbon

The Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act, or CLEAR — sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine — has been getting a surprising amount of attention. Instead of a cap-and-trade system, the bill would institute what its sponsors call “cap-and-refund.” Under the bill, the president would, beginning in 2012, set an overall cap on fossil-fuel emissions. That cap would remain in place until 2015, after which it would start declining by a quarter of a percent a year.

Global stability is hallmark of Kingdom’s oil policy

The Saudi energy policy is based on two principles: Maintaining moderate international oil prices to ensure the long-term use of crude as a major energy source and having sufficient spare capacity to stabilize oil markets in the short term. Being a long-term player in the energy world, Saudi Arabia views global energy markets from a very specific prism — it wants stability in the crude markets.

It does not want volatility. Saudi Arabia also boasts the largest proven reserves of oil in the world.

Kingdom realizes that in the long-term, high prices and extreme volatility in the crude markets could be detrimental to both consumers and producers. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been stressing on fair and balanced prices.

At least seven hurt in oil rig blast

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said that as of 5:30 a.m., 15 people that were aboard the rig were still missing, WWL TV reported on its website. There had been reports of a lifeboat seen after the incident and a search was continuing to find it, he said.

Nungesser also told the station that the rig was leaning and could become submerged. "The rig is leaning badly and the Coast Guard commander down here feels like it may go over sometime today," he said. "It’s still on fire."

Race for Arctic Energy Riches Heats Up

The race for the Arctic’s energy bonanza is heating up. If you were in any doubt, check out this conference season. Last month, Canada hosted a summit of Arctic Ocean Foreign ministers from the littoral nations, i.e. Canada, the US, Russia, Denmark and Norway. It was billed as Canada finally taking its Arctic initiative seriously. But the conference only hit the headlines when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the organizers for excluding other interested parties, especially the indigenous peoples and Iceland, Finland and Sweden.

Kurt Cobb: Will Toe-to-Heel Air Injection Extend the Oil Age?

When the oil optimists say that new technology will extend the oil age for at least several more decades, they almost never discuss the limitations of technology, practical or financial. Nor do they like to discuss possible side effects that could render such technology unusable. But the discussion around a new method of heavy oil extraction called toe-to-heel air injection includes mention of both limitations and side effects. For that reason I give the patent holders a much better chance of developing a technique that could make a significant contribution to oil supplies while addressing environmental objections that could doom other methods.

Oil Little Changed Before Supply Data as Dollar Strengthens

(Bloomberg) -- Oil traded little changed in New York before a report forecast to show U.S. crude inventories declined last week while supplies of gasoline and distillate fuels rose.

Oil erased earlier gains as the U.S. dollar strengthened against the euro, curbing the appeal of commodities for hedging inflation. The commodity climbed as much as 0.9 percent earlier as European airports including London Heathrow opened, reviving demand for jet fuel after six days of closures caused by ash clouds from a volcano in Iceland.

Gas Companies See Demand Revival as Exporters Avoid Supply Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Natural-gas use in Europe and Asia is rebounding after the recession slashed consumption, two of the biggest gas supply companies said in Algeria, where exporting nations this week decided against curbing supply.

Natural Gas Rises on Speculation Power Demand Will Increase

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas futures rose in New York on anticipation that demand for electricity from gas-fired power generators will increase as coal plants shut for annual maintenance.

U.S. power plants often schedule repairs for April and May, after heating needs decline with the end of winter and before higher temperatures increase demand for power to run air conditioners. About 31 percent of gas demand comes from electricity generators, according to the Energy Department.

Conoco pulls out of Saudi refinery project

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil giant ConocoPhillips said it pulled out of a project to build a new refinery with Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia, citing its strategy to reduce its refinery operations.

The planned refinery was to be built by the two oil companies in Yanbu Industrial City and have a processing capacity of 400,000 barrels per day.

Conoco, like other major oil refiners, has seen profits shrink at the plants that turn crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel as the global economic slowdown has eroded demand.

Vitol Said to Hire Tanker to Store Jet Fuel in Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Vitol Group, a Geneva-based commodities trader, has chartered an oil tanker to store jet fuel in Europe as the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano delayed flights and reduced demand for the fuel, according to three brokers familiar with the deal.

The Icelandic Volcano And Quiet Skies Over London

The hiatus in air travel could be a rehearsal for a post-jet age era if the peak oil theory is correct and we are facing a future with insufficient fuel to put into planes.

Ashpocalypse Now

Yet for those with loved ones stuck half a world away, the cascade of cancellations has been a poignant reminder of the frailty not only of our air-travel system, but of a way of life that depends on it. Eventually, the volcanic ash shooting up from Iceland and into the upper atmosphere will dissipate, and those beautiful aluminum tubes in the sky will go back to doing what they do best.

The trouble is that the incredible mobility to which we, or rather to which a privileged slice of we, have grown accustomed might prove unsustainable. Within the next decade, dozens of major airlines will go bankrupt. The biggest names in the business, like American Airlines, United, Delta and British Airways, could easily go the way of TWA, leaving JetBlue and Southwest and perhaps Continental to pick up the pieces.

Volcano provides a chance to digest truths about our food

Eyjafjallajokul – henceforth “the volcano” – has reminded us that the 21st century is a strange place. Things taken for granted turn out to involve fiendishly complex systems devoted, as often as not, to trivial ends. These are vulnerable systems, too, the sort capable of being blown apart by a puff of prevailing wind. They symbolise complacency and unnatural habits. And nothing illustrates the case better than food.

It is not, unless you happen to run a Kenyan packing plant, a big deal in itself. No-one is going to starve for want of an avocado. Odourless roses forced to grow year-round for home-wilting are not, in fact, a deprivation indicator. Britain air-freights only 1% to 2% of its foodstuffs, and few of those count as staples. But the silent skies bring to mind another, contrasting fact: in Britain we grow only 60% of what we eat. Why?

U.S. In the Midst of the Greater Depression, Fourth Turning Generational Crisis

The confluence of events and alignment of generational moods are a perilously explosive mixture. A deepening financial crisis, combined with an impending worldwide shortfall in oil (10 million barrels per day by 2015 according to the U.S. military), and a volatile worldwide military situation will likely lead to a major war. The deteriorating worldwide financial crisis will spur trade wars, currency depreciation and debt defaults. These tensions will combine with the panic of peak oil and Middle East terrorism to cause a World War centered in the Middle East. The spark could be an attack on Iran, a terror attack in the U.S., an overthrow of the Saudi Royal family, a conflict between Pakistan and India, or another conflict not foreseen by anyone. How the leaders of the United States react to such an event will determine the future path of this Crisis.

Iraq Oil Bases Sprout as Halliburton, Schlumberger Seek Profit

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest oilfield contractors are building bases in the deserts of Iraq in a bet they’ll profit as the country strives to boost crude oil output to rival Saudi Arabia.

Ukraine Poised to Strike Gas Deal With Russia Today

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister said his government may strike a gas price deal with Russia today, as the country tries to complete the last milestone needed to resume its International Monetary Fund loan.

Ecuador’s Finance, Energy Ministers Quit, Ahead of Reshuffle

(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador’s finance and energy ministers resigned yesterday, clearing the way for President Rafael Correa to announce cabinet changes that may boost support for proposals to grab a bigger share of mining and oil profits.

Mullen Defends Plans to Keep Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons

(Bloomberg) -- Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen defended U.S. planning on Iran, saying President Barack Obama has made it a priority to make sure the Persian Gulf nation won’t gain a surprise nuclear capability.

Cities wring cash out of utilities

Tight budgets and falling revenues are prompting cities across the USA to consider selling municipal water and sewer systems to private companies.

...Selling or leasing water systems isn't always a good deal, says Wenonah Hauter of Food & Water Watch, a non-profit group. Some cities that do so are "mortgaging their future" by ceding control of a vital asset, she says, and rates often climb.

Spain May Cut Rates Behind $24 Billion Solar Boom

(Bloomberg) -- Spain, after spurring more than 18 billion euros ($24 billion) in solar-power investments since 2008 by offering subsidized prices, is studying whether to cut rates retroactively, reducing returns for clean-energy plants.

First Green Supersonic Jet Launches on Earth Day

The twin-engine tactical aircraft is prepared on April 22 to make a supersonic flight on biofuel—its tanks filled 50 percent with oil refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The test flight at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland will be a milestone in the Navy’s efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum, and perhaps, in the elusive search for an alternative fuel for aviation.

The event is meant to showcase the Pentagon’s efforts to increase use of renewable energy, not only as a climate change initiative but to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on foreign oil.

China's Rare-Earth Policies Spark Apprehension For Automakers

China's tight hold on the world's usable supply of so-called rare-earth elements is fueling one of the bigger challenges for the fledgling green car industry.

TR10: Solar Fuel: Designing the perfect renewable fuel

When Noubar Afeyan, the CEO of Flagship Ventures in Cambridge, MA, set out to invent the ideal renewable fuel, he decided to eliminate the middleman. Biofuels ultimately come from carbon dioxide and water, so why persist in making them from biomass--corn or switchgrass or algae? "What we wanted to know," Afeyan says, "is could we engineer a system that could convert carbon dioxide directly into any fuel that we wanted?"

Peace still reigns on Walden Pond

Thoreau was very much what you would have expected. He loved to hike and get out on the water in a canoe. But here's something that may surprise you: He didn't reject society.

Actually, he embraced both civilization and the untamed world, and deeply felt that both could exist, so long as man realized that he was a part of the larger picture of nature, and not the other way around. With Earth Day approaching, it's a good time to remember what Thoreau tried to teach us.

The Best Green Choices For Your Life

Everybody wants to save the world. But perhaps the best we can do is not make things worse.

Environmental crises surround us: global warming, hazardous waste, resource depletion, air pollution and many more. But more often than not the so-called "solutions" to these problems simply cause different problems. There are no silver bullets, no panaceas, only Pyrrhic victories.

Bjorn Lomborg - Earth Day: Smile, don't shudder

Given all the talk of impending catastrophe, this may come as a surprise, but as we approach the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, people who care about the environment actually have a lot to celebrate. Of course, that's not how the organizers of Earth Day 2010 see it. In their view (to quote a recent online call to arms), "The world is in greater peril than ever." But consider this: In virtually every developed country, the air is more breathable and the water is more drinkable than it was in 1970. In most of the First World, deforestation has turned to reforestation. Moreover, the percentage of malnutrition has been reduced, and ever-more people have access to clean water and sanitation.

Sustainability action will benefit future generations

The word sustainability is frequently used in the news, but what does it mean?

Sustainability is about making choices today that don’t compromise the ability of future generations (our children, grandchildren and their children) to meet their needs and enjoy a rich quality of life.

Scientist shares his solutions

In recent years, people in north-central Kansas have been able to hear Google Vice President Vint Cerf talk about the future of technology and the Internet; former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker talk about the threat of ballooning national debt; and writers such as James Howard Kunstler talk about global warming and the looming peak oil crisis.

But Tuesday night may have been the first time they heard all those topics -- plus salt-water agriculture, the evolution of the human brain, cell phone coverage in Africa and casual references to the problems zero-point energy poses to quantum theory -- in one 50-minute presentation.

Fear of a Hot Planet (inteview with Bill McKibben)

On December 24, 1968, while orbiting the moon aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft, astronaut William Anders took one of history’s most famous photographs. As the ship rounded the grey, lifeless surface of our satellite, a pale blue-and-white dot appeared against the blackness of space; Anders picked up his camera and snapped its shutter. “Earthrise,” as the photo would come to be known, was the first widely published image of our planet taken from space. Never before had humanity seen such a view of our collective habitat.

But that planet no longer exists. In the forty-two years since “Earthrise” was taken, we have done so much damage to our home that, some say, we need a new name for it. Environmentalist, educator, and author Bill McKibben suggests “Eaarth,” which is the title of his new book.

The New Crack Down On Big Coal

Scott Parkin, an organizer at the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network (RAN), is a straight-talking, get-things-done kind of guy, more at ease toiling behind the scenes in environmental struggles than serving as a personification of them. Yet in his fight against the coal industry he has embodied the qualities that define a new-model environmental movement in the United States. In the past four years this reinvigorated, multifaceted movement has chalked up an impressive -- albeit frequently overlooked -- series of victories against Big Coal, a leading contributor to domestic greenhouse gas emissions and a powerful lobby whose influence stretches from Congress to rural West Virginia courthouses.

The new green diet

When our parents lectured us to eat green, they meant eat more broccoli. Decades later, that same advice is bound to mean something entirely new to the next generation. They'll associate eating green with being environmentally conscious.

How our food is grown, raised, processed, packaged and transported affects the environment and ultimately our own health and well-being.

White House: Climate bill 'doable' this year

WASHINGTON – White House energy adviser Carol Browner said Tuesday she thinks Congress still has time to approve a climate and energy bill this year.

Browner called action on the long-delayed legislation "doable," because members of Congress increasingly understand the need to develop clean energy that does not emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants blamed for global warming.

Carbon Jumps Most in a Year as E.ON Buys, EU Tightens

(Bloomberg) -- The price of polluting jumped 15 percent in Europe this month, the biggest gain in a year, as utilities including E.ON AG amass carbon credits and regulators restrict future supplies.

Carbon offsets: How a Vatican forest failed to reduce global warming

From a scheme to create an algae bloom in the South Pacific to a Vatican forest in the plains of Hungary – how one carbon offset developer's ideas failed to reduce global warming.

Betting on Climate Change: Corporations Stand to Make or Lose Billions

Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multi-ton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.

Bolivia's Morales slams capitalist debt to global warming

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia (AFP) – Bolivian President Evo Morales opened a "people's conference" on climate change on Tuesday with an attack on capitalism's debt to global warming, before participants booed a UN envoy.

..."Either capitalism dies, or it will be Mother Earth," leftist Morales said to a crowd of some 20,000 people.

"We're here because industrialized countries have not honored their promises."

Link up top: At least seven hurt in oil rig blast

Does anyone know which project this was? I assume it was one of the projects that was scheduled to come on line this year. News reports state that it was not in production but I can find nothing naming the project.

At least 11 workers sought after oil rig explosion

The rig was drilling but was not in production, according to Greg Panegos, spokesman for its owner, Transocean Ltd., in Houston. The rig was under contract to BP.

The rig is still burning this morning or that is what the TV news stories say. I cannot imagine that kind of fire just from on-board drilling diesel.

Ron P.

More info here http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/at_least_8_injured_in_oil_rig...

A deep-water oil drilling rig known as the MODU Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday with 126 people on board, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed. Officials have not reported any fatalities. At least seven people were critically injured in the 10 p.m. blast about 50 miles southeast of Venice and were receiving medical treatment in the New Orleans area, according to the Coast Guard.

Everyone evacuated the rig, but 11 crew members were missing

BP Tiber Field http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7055818

BP announced today a giant oil discovery at its Tiber Prospect in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico.

The well, located in Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles (400 kilometres) south east of Houston, is in 4,132 feet (1,259 metres) of water. The Tiber well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 35,055 feet (10,685 metres) making it one of the deepest wells ever drilled by the oil and gas industry. The well found oil in multiple Lower Tertiary reservoirs. Appraisal will be required to determine the size and commerciality of the discovery.

BP Deepwater Horizon - © BP p.l.c. with permission

Thanks for the info Undertow. Here is a picture and the specifics of the rig in case anyone is interested.

Fleet Specifications-Deepwater Horizon

The DEEPWATER HORIZON is a Reading & Bates Falcon RBS8D design semi-submersible drilling unit capable of operating in harsh environments and water depths up to 8,000 ft (upgradeable to 10,000 ft) using 18¾in 15,000 psi BOP and 21in OD marine riser.

Wikipedia data on the Tiber Oilfield

The oil from Tiber is light, and early estimates of recoverable reserves are around 20 - 30% recovery, suggesting figures of around 600 million to 900 million barrels (100-150 gigalitres) of reserves.[2] Sources such as Bloomberg suggest caution, warning that the find is technically complex and potentially could take 5 – 6 years to produce oil or be lower yield (5 - 15%) based on "rates talked about" at nearby Kaskida,[10] BP's previous "giant find" (2006) 40 miles away.[11] The commercial prospects of the field have not yet been evaluated.

Ron P.

Actually from the location info it appears to no longer be at the Tiber field. Seems it has recently moved and was drilling in BP's Macondo prospect. Sorry for earlier misinfo.


The Macondo prospect is located on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico in a water depth of 4,993 feet (1,522 meters). BP serves as the operator and holds a 100% interest in the prospect, which was acquired at the MMS Lease Sale #206 in March 2008.

Transocean Ltd. Reports Fire on Semisubmersible Drilling Rig Deepwater Horizon

ZUG, SWITZERLAND, Apr 21, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) --Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN) today reported a fire onboard its semisubmersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. The incident occurred April 20, 2010 at approximately 10:00 p.m. central time in the United States Gulf of Mexico. The rig was located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252.

Transocean's Emergency and Family Response Teams are working with the U.S. Coast Guard and lease operator BP Exploration & Production, Inc. to care for all rig personnel and search for missing rig personnel. A substantial majority of the 126 member crew is safe but some crew members remain unaccounted for at this time. Injured personnel are receiving medical treatment as necessary. The names and hometowns of injured persons are being withheld until family members can be notified.

Any idea how much that rig costs to build?

Day rates?

Rigzone says that semi-submersible rigs that drill in over 4,000 feet average day rate is $412,984. This rig was designed to drill in water up to 8,000 feet but has recently been upgrated to handle depth up to 10,000 feet. So I would guess it rents for at least half a million a day.

Louisiana Oil Rig Explosion:...

Panagos did not know how much the rig cost to build, but said a similar rig today would run $600 million to $700 million.

Ron P.

According to the February edition of Offshore Magazine Dec 2009 day rates for semisubs were as follows:
Minimum 80k USD
Average 367k USD
maximum 647k USD.

Given that is one of the larger, deepwater semisubs I'd guess it is safe to assume the day rate would be somewhere between the average and max price

cowboy -- Latest generation semi rigs can run $600 million -- more or less. When biz is hot day rates can be $700,000/day just for the rig. Add another $200,000+/day for other services. When biz slows up day rates could fall 50%...or more.

What a beautiful piece of equipment.
A lot of money and a lot of work went into that thing.

Sorry, I just can't help but marvel at the ingenuity of it all.
I guess it's the "engineer" in me. I got it from my dad.

Jabberwock, I know what you mean exactly...I have often complained about the management policy and decisions of the fossil fuel industry, but I never fault the technicians and oil field and rig workers in this industy...they are the last of a breed of craftsman/laborer/technician and think on your feet type decision and action person who helped build the very spine of the modern world. I have known some in person, and they are realists in the true sense of the word...they work with what they have, use thier brains and their hands, and play the ball where it lies and ACT. We should always pray they are able to live long and enjoy the fruits of their efforts, they deserve it.

I used to look at old photos of the locomotive shops where the great steam and then Diesel locomotives were built, and the giant shipyards that built commercial and military ships. I graduated high school with several friends who became machinists and pipefitters in this industry, they got the job on the recommendation of a master machinist who had taught them and whose recommendation was still an assured entry ticket to the shops 30 years after he had left thema and went to teaching. I could sit and listen to this guy lecture on issue of creating a truly square piece of machined product for hours it was so fascinating...."so you want to have a square product? Square to what, true to what? What is the true line that you are squaring to?" The philosophical implications of that line of questions alone was priceless!.

We know that the great age of that type of heavy engineering is changing and possibly ending, but it should go out with respect.


conflicting reports:


11 missing rig workers found safe after explosion-report
Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:21pm EDT
HOUSTON, April 21 (Reuters) - Eleven workers who were missing after a fire and explosion on an oil rig offshore Louisiana have been found safe, according to a report on the New Orleans Times Picayune website on Wednesday.


UPDATE 5-Blast, fire hits Transocean rig; 11 missing
Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:24pm EDT

* Blast, fire hits Gulf of Mexico rig
* Coast Guard says 11 missing; 115 survived
* Seventeen hospitalized, seven critical

Warning!! There are sites near the top of Google's searches for this story which lead to the fake security sites which will install backdoor access to your PC. Once again recent updates mean that they get past most virus scanners. Google really needs to get a grip of this problem as the "bad guys" seem to be able to spoof Google's rating algorithms and malware site detection any time they want.

Here's an article on the technique.

Doorway Pages and Other FAKEAV Stealth Tactics

TrendLabsSM observed that cybercriminals typically employed blackhat engine optimizaton (SEO) to create poisoned pages that serve as doorways for FAKEAV distribution. These doorway pages, which primarily redirect unknowing users, are cross-linked with other doorway pages and well-known legitimate sites. This technique allows malicious pages to appear as top search results.

To further entice users to click malicious links, these doorway pages also contain content copied from various other websites. Cybercriminals also leverage trending topics, which can easily be found in Google Trends or through Twitter’s search page.

...Doorway pages are frequently contained in individual websites or in compromised Web hosting providers’ sites. Clicking malicious links redirected users several times until they reach a fake scanning page. These redirections help hide the actual URLs of the final landing pages and of the pages hosting the fake scanning results.

Just a guess Ron but from tow's pic it does look like more then a fuel fire. Those tanks are far below deck and unless that pick was taken just as the blew the flames wouldn't be nearly that high. Not a clear pic but it looks like the flames are at least 300' high. Most like source for such a big and high burn would be a blowout with a lot of oil/NG blowing at high pressure. It might be a day or two before we here an officiaal word. When it comes to well control issues the press releases come from the lawyers. First they have to explain to the lawyers what happened and then they have to figure the very precise phrasing of the press release.

I'll help with the press release.

BP Exploration reported significantly larger than expected oil and gas quantities with the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig at the Macondo prospect, located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252. This will really heat up BP's efforts in the Gulf.

joules -- sometimes the line between reality and perception is just so blurred. About 25 years ago I was drilling for a little scum of an operator in S Texas. After a blow out that almost killed me and a couple of drilling hands he sent a message to his investors: "Good news!!! Just had a great NG show. But we'll have to drill an offset well because we just lost the well bore we were drilling." It wasn't even a commercial NG sand. We were drilling into a high pressure shale and he wouldn't raise the mud weight as per my recommendation (didn't have enough money left to pay for the extra mud). Kind of a funny story if you're not the one jumping off a 12' high drill floor an 2 in the morning.

Still no press release confirming it was a blow out? Still just aguess but for the length of time of the burn and the black smoke it seems like it has to be a condensate rich NG at a minimum if not crude oil. How bad could the spill be if the rig sinks? Big question. The drill floor is connected to the subsea well head by the riser…a large diameter pipe. If the rig sinks and collapses the riser the subsea blow out presenters should shut the flow of oil off. Sometimes this works…sometimes not. If not the flow will continue until the well naturally bridges over and kills the flow or until they cap it. Capping could take months in this circumstance. There are a series of blowout presenters just below the drill floor and they apparently didn’t work. Those missing hands might be the rig managers and company man. When things like this go bad they’ll usually run to the BOP stack in case the automatic controls don’t function and they try a manual shut in. Needless to say it’s the worse spot to be in at a time like that. Often no bodies are every found…100% consumption. Makes for a very sad day down on the bayou.

The BOP sits on the sea floor. It does not matter what kind of manager you are, you cannot run to it.
The driller's shack has the primary controls for the BOP. The BOP has several different modes of closure with shear rams for a serious kick.
They will also have had a walk away box which is basically a remote control for the BOP so they can perform a shut while evacuating the rig.
A straight blow out and fire gives a pretty clean burn - the rig just candles.
That smoke looks much too black.

Still no press release confirming it was a blow out?

Transocean Says ‘Blowout’ May Have Caused Rig Fire

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Transocean Ltd. said a pressure surge violent enough to rupture pipes, known in the oil and natural-gas industry as a blowout, may have triggered the explosion and fire yesterday on a deepwater rig that injured 17 people and left 11 missing.

The assumption is based on the nature of the fire, which is burning from the top of the well, fed by escaping oil or gas, Adrian Rose, Transocean’s vice president for quality, health, safety and the environment, said at a New Orleans press conference today. The company has yet to board the rig or interview survivors.

...“There was undoubtedly some abnormal pressure buildup,” Rose said. “As oil or gas came up, it expanded rapidly and ignited. This is an assumption. We still don’t know exactly the cause.”

Search continues into the night

The US Coast Guard said it has “no idea” of the location of 11 missing crew members from Transocean’s semi-submersible drilling rig Deepwater Horizon after an explosion at a BP location in the deep-water US Gulf.

...“We don’t know what caused the accident,” he said at a press conference, but when asked if it was a blowout he replied: "Basically, yes."

"Undoubtedly abnormal pressure" had accumulated inside the marine riser and as it came up it "expanded rapidly and ignited," he said.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes promised "an appropriate investigation" into the accident "when the time comes."

...The well is gushing sweet crude, most of which is igniting when it hits the surface, and has an estimated 700,000 gallons of diesel onboard, Landry said.

CNN International just ran some video of the ongoing incident. Not yet on CNN website.

CNN USA just confirmed "catastrophic disaster" (Situation Room) but did not run video shown on CNN International.

Edit: Anderson Cooper just ran very short clip of video.

how would you go about putting out a fire like this in deep water, will it go out when the rig sinks?

Apparently with fireboats. But capping the flow is something else, and it is probably coming out rather hot. Not good press for offshore drilling, but accidents can happen.

So true joules. From the pics I see I can promise the well head and flow control valves are all melted away. They need to pray for the well to bridge over on it's own. This could make the offshore Aussie blowout a couple of months ago look like child's play. Coincidentally just last Monday I meet with the folks who would handle any oil spill response for us now that we're planning to operate in the OSC. Oil spill response has changed somewhat since I last operated out there. Before each company was responsible to have their in house personnel trained for such incidents. Now the MMS has certified a number of companies to which such ops can be subcontracted. Much better plan IMO: now you have the best of the best in place to handle spills instead of thousands of folks who really aren’t as well trained or experienced as you would like. We should start seeing stories about the oil spill response tomorrow. I’m sure the boom boats etc are out there now but the fire boats are much sexier on the 6 o’clock news.

I doubt if the 6 o'clock news will give us better information than you've been providing. Much appreciated.

There was/is a live coast guard briefing now. However the web feed on CNN had no audio and then they dropped it completely. Local Fox in NO claimed to be carrying it but all I got was a blank screen but their latest news update says: "Coast Guard officials say the fire has spread to the water near the rig. The rig is also reported to be listing more than 50 degrees."

Rigzone has this:

On location in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon recently concluded exploration drilling on the Macondo prospect. According to the Minerals Management Service, BP filed a permit to temporarily abandon the well, which commenced drilling in February 2010.

Do you "temporarily abandon" a well if there is something there (and you plan to come back later)?


A bit more here:


Apr. 2010 - Transocean's Deepwater Horizon semisub, which caught fire on April 20, was on contract for BP drilling the Macondo prospect on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in 4,993 feet (1,522 meters) of water. According to Dow Jones, the well had reached a depth of at least 11,500 feet (3,502 meters), when BP filed a permit with MMS on April 16 to temporarily abandon the well, stating drilling operations were complete. The rig, more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, was still burning at midday Wednesday. It was tilting about 70 degrees and threatening to topple into the water. The U.S. Coast Guard, BP and Transocean's emergency response vessels are helping with the rescue operation.

70 degrees?

What are these pictures of?

Tow -- Not sure about the top one but I think it’s a floater. And that may be an intentional flare line burning and not a blow out. I think the bottom two are the same jack up rig: see the chopper pad sticking out from the right side of the bottom one…I think it’s the same one sticking out from the left side of the middle pic. The bottom on shows more clearly what happened. That type of jack up is called a cantilever. It looks like a small 4 pile platform to the left of it in the bottom pic. The JU sets down close to the platform and the rig floor and derrick swing out over the top of the platform to work on existing wells or drill a new one. It’s one of the platform wells burning.

Thanks. The hosting site was using them apparently as genuine pictures of the current incident.

Joules -- Typically a temp abdn well is scheduled for later production. Obviously when a wildcat is drilled there are no production facilities present. Given that such a well might have cost $150 million to drill they would like to hang on to it. The TA proceedured is highly regulated and must follow a very specific safety protocol set and monitored by the Feds. We'll have to wait to see at what point in this process matters got out of hand.

Your welcome toil but I make up half of what I say since the great majority here wouldn't know the difference. And folks that do understand, like westexas, won't rat me out because then I would expose all his exploration fantasies.

(toil -- I been picking on WT for a while with no response...figured I had to ramp it up some. I don't mind being cussed out nearly as much as being ignored)

Well. . . regarding offshore work, the closest I have come is when some flowing oil wells in West Texas were temporarily submerged behind a flood control dam after a heavy rain. The operator thought about sending a diver down to shut the wells in, but said to hell with it, since there was no apparent leak. He just waited for the water to recede.

BTW, doesn't the following sound like bad news: "Coast Guard officials say the fire has spread to the water near the rig"

And if this is a bad oil spill, a lot of Oil Patch types will have mud on our faces. It was just a few days ago that I noted that most bad oil spills in US water come from transportation accidents.

In any case, got to get back to mapping my latest East Texas analogue.

Told you so toil: WT won't tell on me and I won't expose his delusions of finding another East Texas Oil Field. You have to allow west Texas folks their fantasies...they don't have much else to occupy themselves with out there. But that may be changing soon: I here the might be getting cable TV out there...in the next year or two.

WT is in Dallas. Is the rest of the state called "West Texas" when you live in Houston?

Huh...I thought WT lived in Midland. No...we don't call folks in Dallas West Texacans. We just call them Yankees...if we call them at all.

Us "Yankees" in Kentucky consider anything west of Galveston as west Texas. :-)


Due to the production of fine adult beverages in KY we Texacans do allow some variance in who we classify as Yankees. Such distinctions are not necessarily geographical. Had a very nice time a few years ago drilling New Albany shale gas wells outside of Elizabethtown. A pretty state full of nice folks IMHO.

I am glad that they are all OK. This makes my skin crawl as I have to regularly travel to oil rigs now and stay on them for a week at a time.

Making me a bit nervous

There are eleven people still missing unfortunately.

And they say they have workers trying to shut off the valves. Io dobt the put folks back on the rig. I'm guess they're talking about the flow control system sitting on the sea floor 5,000' down. They'll use an ROV at that depth. I suspect at this point they're not so much trying to close valves as they're trying to figure out why the auto controls didn't shut the well in initially.

According to some posts at http://gcaptain.com/forum/professional-mariner-forum/4805-transocean-dee... they are trying to perform a "hot stab" emergency closure of the BOP

This is described as

Hot Stab is basically a hydraulic connection done at significant depth by the ROV to close a set of rams on the BOP stack when the remote BOP control unit fails to operate the hydraulic mechanism.


The ROV has the male "hot stab" and they pump a type of Bardex hydraulic fluid into the female side, from the male stinger - this actuates certain functions at depth....close valves, etc...

Does this sound plausible?

That would be SOP. But the obvious question is why the BOP didn't function properly in the first place. At that depth all they can do immediately is try the manual activation described. But the automatic activation failure wouldn't make you too optimistic about their chances of success.

A news story in today's NYT describes the impact of the Greater Recession on the public transit system in Atlanta:

Transit Cuts Are Protested in Atlanta

There's a 30% cut about to happen.

E. Swanson

The system in Atlanta known as MARTA, has been mis-managed for years. Now that State budgets are being cut and sales tax revenues are falling, the MARTA system has become unsustainable at the current fare of $2 per ride. An increase is needed to keep the system running.

MARTA is not the only thing being cut. The Public School Systems in and around Atlanta are suffering severe cuts as well. Teacher layoffs, fewer programs, cuts to art, music and PE, fewer school days, furloughs, fewer buses, and many other cuts are happening based on budget shortfalls of $100 million per county are being addressed for the 2010-2011 school year. Class sizes are increasing to maximum, Schools are closing down, capital projects are being put on hold or cancelled. The schools spent and wasted money during the good times, and saved no money for the hard times. Many administrators earn over $100K while the average teachers still earn just $30K per year.

We may have to go back to home schools and church provided schools to help out, and ride bikes to school too.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the crew of the Deepwater Horizon and their families.

RE: First Green Supersonic Jet Launches on Earth Day

When they locked the scientists in the lab and told them they had 3 years to make a jet fly on corn, someone forgot to go back and tell them there's nothing green about biofuel!

Everyone needs to wake up from this media greenwash.


My best wishes for the crew of the oil rig which caught on fire, and their families.

My apologies if this article was posted prior, but this article and others like it recently published represent the counter-attack to the tentative smattering of articles in the media concerning limits to growth:

The No-Growth Fantasy

Europe's attack on capitalism.


Yet today's no-growthers seem to make the same mistakes as their many predecessors, from Thomas Malthus—who predicted in 1798 that rising populations would inevitably starve—to the Club of Rome, a group of scientists who warned in 1972 that the world would start running out of key resources in the 1980s. Such movements extrapolate growth rates for resource use and pollution but don't take enough account of technical innovation, environmental regulation, greater efficiency, and behavioral change. Take Exit author Meinhard Miegel's claim that the world is running out of food. It largely ignores, among other things, the barely tapped potential of genetic engineering and other plant-breeding technologies.

Such faults are often overlooked because the no-growthers resonate in Europe today for intellectual and political reasons, not economic or technological ones.

The campaign to change our lives will be very difficult, yet we must continue to keep the discussion of limits to growth in the fore front and not capitulate to the constant pressure to go back to our regularly scheduled programing.

There's some discussion in the March 26 DrumBeat.

Yet today's no-growthers seem to make the same mistakes as their many predecessors, from Thomas Malthus—who predicted in 1798 that rising populations would inevitably starve—to the Club of Rome, a group of scientists who warned in 1972 that the world would start running out of key resources in the 1980s. Such movements extrapolate growth rates for resource use and pollution.....

I would say this guy's got it backwards. It's the cornucopians who extrapolate growth to infiniti.

I find it amusing that the creator of your article thinks that infinite, everlasting growth is actually possible... and that genetically modifying food is an up and coming science rather than the last desperate step in a process that started with the first farmers.

The GROWTH dogma can never be questioned in this country, even as the "Titanic" sinks.

I suspect that alot of the media, big finance, politicians, etc. know that the gig is up. However, they just can't stop what they are doing, anymore than we can stop driving to work or the grocery store.

So we have a crashing society, but nobody can admit to it because it would mean admitting that we f-cked up over the last 30 years, and that our children and grandchildren don't have a future. That's too painful and I understand why the media doesn't want to go down that road.

And here is today's Easter Island commodities report ...
[ticker tape tapping noise fills background]

Timber Reserves Chairman, Ben Bearnakie told a hut investigatory committee that the fundamentals are sound ...

[commercial interruption noise breaks in]

Stay tuned ... we will be right back with the CudChew report after these messages from your Prudential Rock Quarry dealers ...

TR10: Solar Fuel: Designing the perfect renewable fuel
Is this to good to be true? Can biofuel technologies such as JouleBio can save us? What is the EROeI? They claim price competitiveness with crude oil at $50 per barrel. What do you think?

Geek -- I think I'll begin paying attention when they reach the 1 million bbl per day production level. Such a rate won't affect PO of course. But if it can be ramped up to that level then it would indicate they have a viable technique. We would also have enough info to project the requirements to expand the production to a truly meaningful level. Until that point not much to discuss IMHO.

Driving exothermic chemical reactions backwards requires exactly the same amount of energy as was released when the reaction was self sustaining in principle, and quite a bit more in practice due to the inevitable losses due to inefficiencies in the industrial plant.

That fifty dollar barrel of oil made from CO2 probably will have at least two barrels worth of energy embedded in it by the time it is in a storage tank and maybe three or four or more times as much; I understand the broad principles involved but have no expertise in the field of chemical engineering.

The real questions boil down to these :

Where will they get the energy required to drive the industrial plant?

What will that energy cost?

What will it cost to build such a plant?

No doubt such a plant could be built.

Whether it could ever be operated economically appears to be doubtful in the extreme.

Of course if we were to happily luck into a white swan in the form of incredibly cheap and abundant power from some currently unknown or overly expensive technology, it might be practical to use such a plant to produce liquid fuels while at the same time doing a little something about the CO 2 problem.

Oldfarmermac -

In principle you are correct: reversing the thermodynamically favorable reaction C + O2 = CO2, will require at least as much energy as was released in the initial reaction.

In a perfect world, the amount of energy required to reverse the reaction should be exactly the same as the amount released. But such is never the case .... not by a long shot. Even nature's own photosynthesis is quite inefficient in terms of solar energy converted to reduced carbon.

However, it is sometimes considered worthwhile to take a large energy loss in order to produce energy in a more usable form. This is done all the time, where typically only 40% or less of the chemical energy in coal or natural gas is converted into electricity, the most usable for of energy for non-transportation applications. This is why we don't have coal-fired hair dryers or vacuum cleaners.

The implicit assumption underlying this whole scheme is that in order to have personal transportation it is necessary to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels. This assumption is getting more shaky by the day.

One would think that oldfarmermac would understand the term bio in biofuel. That's plants for those cityfied folks who've never thought about how much solar energy it takes to grow a plant.

Most crops represent the result of a large input of sunlight, that is, solar energy. The conversion efficiency of normal crop growth is rather small, only a few percent of the sunlight is captured as energy in the form of biomass. The whole point of the process as described is to increase the efficiency of conversion between sunlight and product. In this instance, the product is said to be a form of liquid hydrocarbon, which is likely to be easily separated from the water medium in which the plants (algae?) are grown. If the conversion efficiency in the genetically modified plants is large enough, the hope is that the output will greatly exceed the rather minor amounts of energy used to run the pumps and the separation process, assuming the cartoon with the story is close to the final system. If the conversion efficiency turns out to be as large as a PV panel, the large capital cost (and energy investment) of the bioreactors might not be excessive in comparison.

Sounds like a great idea. If things can be made to work, one can foresee a continuation of BAU for a bit longer, until some other snag appears to limit growth. Sad to say, ideas such as this seldom work out as well as predicted.

E. Swanson

Where will they get the energy required to drive the industrial plant?

What will that energy cost?

Being that they use the word Solar, this is another of those mechanisms that use solar photons to do the heavy lifting. There are several people who have been able to build systems that use sunlight to drive endothermic reactions. The real questions are efficiency, cost, maintenence, operation lifetime etc. Scientific demonstration of such processes, I think has been done. Engineering prototypes to project potential future costs, we will have to wait and see.

Re: Global stability is hallmark of Kingdom’s oil policy (uptop)

I am reminded of a scene from the remake of "Sabrina," where the matriarch of the rich family rhetorically asks, "Do I look stupid?"

Let's see. Saudi Arabia, after increasing their net oil exports from 7.1 mbpd in 2002 to 9.1 mbpd in 2005, in response to rising oil prices, then turned around, and cut net oil exports, after 2005, in response to rising oil prices. The cumulative shortfall in Saudi net oil exports, between what they would have (net) exported at their 2005 rate and what they actually (net) exported from 2006-2008 inclusive was 841 mb (EIA).

So, let me get this straight. Relative to their 2005 net export rate, the Saudis took 841 mb out of the market from 2006-2008, in order to support price stability (as annual oil prices went from $57 in 2005 to $100 in 2008)?

Saudi Net Oil Exports Versus US Oil Prices
2002-2005 & 2005-2008 (EIA, Total Liquids)

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

An alternative explanation: Peaks Happen, even in the best of circumstances, e.g., Texas & the North Sea.

Price it in $GOLD. Is it a different story then?

Or we could price oil in terms of shares of Citigroup stock.

We'd run out of barrels for the stock certificates

In gold:

2002: 7.1 mbpd & 13.2 bbl/oz
2003: 8.3 mbpd & 13.5 bbl/oz
2004: 8.6 mbpd & 10.4 bbl/oz
2005: 9.1 mbpd & 9.0 bbl/oz
2006: 8.4 mbpd & 9.6 bbl/oz
2007: 8.0 mbpd & 11.6 bbl/oz
2008: 8.4 mbpd & 8.7 bbl/oz

Very interesting trooper...thanks. I wonder if a running average plot of oil/gold would smooth out the relationship even more. You got a few more hours of your life to throw away?

Just like this author describes below, I pre-ordered my Nissan Leaf yesterday. Since I'm in one of the first markets where it will be sold, I hope to get it in December.

"2011 Nissan Leaf: We Order Ours, And Show You How"


When the 2011 Nissan Leaf goes on sale later this year, a lucky handful of buyers in eight areas around the country will be among the first to own and drive the first mass-market electric car sold by an automaker in the modern era.

Please do keep us updated if you become an owner.

Would like to know your real-world statistics on miles per charge, charging times, reliability, etc.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 16, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending April 16, 135 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 85.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.1 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.6 million barrels per day last week, up 733 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.3 million barrels per day, 29 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 756 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 106 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 355.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 10.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

An immediate drop of $1.50 on that unexpected news.

I must admit this week’s report serves as a good example that much of the inventory changes we see in the weekly inventory report are just statistical noise.

For the second week running, there were huge unexplained adjustments totally over 11 million barrels this week. That more than accounts for the 10 million barrel plus gain in overall inventories. The same could be said about last week’s large gain in total inventories.

To put this more plainly, without a lot of adjustments not applicable to the current week’s refinery utilization and supply distribution, there was about no change in overall inventories the last two weeks. So the accuracy of total inventory figures seems to be in some doubt.

However weekly supplies used appears to be a much more accurate figure, and gasoline demand continues to exceed last year’s amount by a fairly strong amount when considering that it is not even clear that the US economy has improved from one year ago (comparing 2010 months of March and April to those months in 2009).

I would not be surprised if in the next week or two, we suddenly see downward EIA revisions that reverse the unexplained upward inventory revisions of these last two weeks.

Districts warn of deeper teacher cuts

School districts around the country, forced to resort to drastic money-saving measures, are warning hundreds of thousands of teachers that their jobs may be eliminated in June.

The districts have no choice, they say, because their usual sources of revenue — state money and local property taxes — have been hit hard by the recession. In addition, federal stimulus money earmarked for education has been mostly used up this year.

As a result, the 2010-11 school term is shaping up as one of the most austere in the last half century. In addition to teacher layoffs, districts are planning to close schools, cut programs, enlarge class sizes and shorten the school day, week or year to save money.

“We are doing things and considering options I never thought I’d have to consider,” said Peter C. Gorman, superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina, who expects to cut 600 of the district’s 9,400 teachers this year, after laying off 120 last year. “This may be our new economic reality.”

And next year might be worse.

Listening to consultants yesterday on NPR re: Houston school district. One comment really caught my ear regarding drop outs. Texas developed a carrot and stick approach to education quality: good standardized test scores and you get more money. Bad statewide test score averages and you get punished finacially. Result as seen by insiders: school administrators embrace increased drop out rates because it eliminates poor students and thus raises the test averages. With regards to your story I wonder if the same self interest might kick in: accept (or even encourage) increased drop outs to lessen the burden on reduced teaching staffs.

This is part of Tainter's "declining marginal returns." If technological innovation is going to save us, we're going to need a lot more scientists, engineers...and teachers. But they're expensive, and I expect people will be increasingly unwilling or unable to pay for them.

What of the drop outs who buy the books colleges use, and teach and learn on their own?
Or just fallow blogs, where smart people gather. [cough]

Wile this type of education isn't respected today,
it will count more and more,
the more localized our societies become.

Just ask Detroit.
"Requiem for Detroit?"

Just the fact that you're talking about societies becoming more localized shows that you're not in the group I'm referring to. That is, you're not really expecting us to keep BAU going via technological innovation.

In the medium term, I could see what you're describing working. However, it won't produce more engineers and scientists. Most people simply don't have what it takes to educate themselves that way. Even Albert Einstein, who hated school and struggled with it, ended up having to go to college to become a physicist. People aren't going to home-school their kids in nuclear physics.

And what happens when the colleges fade, and no longer generate used textbooks like AOL used to generate CDs? Sure, you can use old ones, but they aren't built to last. (Amazing, considering how expensive they are.) As for blogs...if things are that bad, no one will have the spare time to hang out at blogs, or the money to pay for internet access and site hosting.

And what happens when the colleges fade, and no longer generate used textbooks like AOL used to generate CDs? Sure, you can use old ones, but they aren't built to last.

Textbook authors, publishers, and colleges are all struggling to find a business model that works for e-books. Assuming they succeed, used textbooks become irrelevant. Technology has reached the point where a textbook e-reader priced for college is feasible, with the cost of the reader offset by lower prices for the texts allowed by eliminating paper, printing, transport and storage expenses. Once started, there ought to be positive feedback effects that drive reader prices down rapidly and push all publishers in that direction. Getting started appears to be difficult because so many business models have to change. Given sufficient time -- and that's a reasonable assumption to challenge -- it seems reasonable to assume that we will reach the point where the life-cycle energy costs for an e-reader will be lower than those of a stack of paper books.

A fundamental question is how we retreat from business as usual. Given a long slow decline, it may be possible to retain select advanced technologies. Given a sudden crash, of course, and you could reasonably ask how long paper and printing on a large scale could survive.

Given sufficient time -- and that's a reasonable assumption to challenge -- it seems reasonable to assume that we will reach the point where the life-cycle energy costs for an e-reader will be lower than those of a stack of paper books.

That doesn't bode well for the long term survival of such knowledge, though, assuming we're headed for a long descent. Paper books can still be read hundreds of years later, if they survive, but I'm not as sanguine about digital information.

In any case, it's not really the energy costs that matter. If that were the case, why issue new textbooks practically every year? The reason they force students to buy new (instead of used) by issuing the new versions is because otherwise, publishers can't stay in business.

This is what I mean when I say education is too expensive. People respond saying we could use e-readers, or that school buildings don't use that much energy. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the societal complexity that supports the whole education business. Supporting all those people doing "work" that may not be viewed as very necessary during the long descent.

Paper books can still be read hundreds of years later, if they survive, but I'm not as sanguine about digital information.

I used to have this conversation with a librarian whose PhD dissertation was on archival media. Almost nothing is printed on acid-free paper these days, so the expected life of the paper is well under 100 years. She was fond of pointing out that we have so much personal source material from the US Civil War because people wrote in diaries and journals made with acid-free paper using pigment-based inks. Photos of that period were silver-based chemistry, also on acid-free paper. She thought that essentially no personal stuff from the Vietnam War would survive 100 years because it was all dye-based inks and photos on high-acid paper.

Digital stuff seems to be a race between physical media failures and loss of formatting information. I'm old enough to remember when mag tapes were supposed to be good for decades. Then the IRS discovered print-through was making the data on their archival tapes unreadable. And NASA has tapes containing IR temperature readings from some of the earliest satellites capable of making those measurements, and the bits can be extracted from the tapes, but no one remembers how the binary records were formatted.

A year or so ago Slashdot had an interesting discussion on choosing digital media and file formats that would still be readable if removed from a time capsule only 20 years from now, and there was nothing that the commenters collectively felt sure of.

While I'm not ready to say this will be met with the right equipment in 20, much less 100 years, I've been looking at the glass masters of CD and DVD's as a long-term storage medium.

How many of you still have a working 5.25" Floppy drive today.. 3.5" ? , Zip Drive ?, Laserdisk player? 8-track? VHS?

I have the mechanisms for all the above, but some haven't been run lately..


That is one reason I prefer to keep my books.

The only thing we can't use here from your list is the 8 track, and the 5.25 disc.

My brother has a video disc player and discs.

That is why I keep books and handtools, because information and the power to run things might not be available later on. But candle light or sunlight and a book, and human power to do the work with the tools.

I'd like to add a small printing press but have not got the space for one, or the money yet.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Acid-free paper is a lot more common than it used to be, simply because people are aware of the problem.

This might be something worth pushing, in the name of sustainability. Acid-free paper isn't really more difficult or expensive to make. It's more expensive because it's sold in lower quantities.

Also helps if you choose your fiber source wisely. Hemp-based paper is inherently acid-free, not to mention significantly more durable. Legalization of industrial hemp is a potentially critical step towards localization of a variety of industries.

The reason they force students to buy new (instead of used) by issuing the new versions is because otherwise, publishers can't stay in business.

Yes, that's what I mean about changing business models. Large textbook publishers have two profit streams. One is the print-bind-store-distribute function applied to enormous piles of paper. I really do expect that that business will go the way of the buggy whip eventually -- whether we get cheap e-books or demand for the books shrinks along with the education industry. The other profit stream comes from the solicit-edit-format-advertise set of services that they offer. That is, find authors (or winnow out the authors that submit), shepherd it from manuscript to real textbook, and encourage profs/schools to choose a particular book rather than a competing one. I really have no idea how the two streams compare in size. I fear that the first one is large relative to the second, so those publishers are going to fight e-textbooks tooth and nail. I think that's a bad strategy; I feel comfortable that "university presses" would be capable of doing the job, and are not so tied to the idea of massive press runs.

Piracy can be dealt with. One possibility is that if the price to cover the author and the publisher's prep is $25, the university can collect that fee from the students and remit to the publisher. This is not the same problem that one has with a national fiction bestseller.

I'm talking about the societal complexity that supports the whole education business. Supporting all those people doing "work" that may not be viewed as very necessary during the long descent.

How far are we going to slide? The land-grant university system was created in 1862 to focus on agriculture, science, and engineering, when farmers were 58% of the workforce. I'd like to think we could keep important parts of that going. Possibly not all science -- experimental particle physics has become a rather expensive field. And I think there's real questions about whether we want to publicly fund a Department of Medieval French Literature (although Yale's donors might). No disrespect to Medieval French literature scholars, I'm sure they're as passionate about their field as I am about mine.

How far are we going to slide?

My guess, in the long run, is that we are going to slide all the way down. Below where we started from, so to speak. To a situation where 99% of the people spend all their time simply trying to produce enough food to live. We won't have the luxury of supporting too many "elites" - priests, artists, kings, doctors, scientists, engineers, etc.

In the short to medium term, we'll probably see more stuff like this.

Here's one look at the 2010 model chemistry "textbook" for ipad; I suspect this will seem quaint and old fashioned in a couple years.

If you hunt around, you can usually find some free textbooks on the internet. The bigger problem is (1) most dropouts aren't interested in aquiring an education. (2) For those that do self study is difficult, nothing motivates like next weeks test. And even if you solve the motivation issue, there is the fact that it is almost unavoidably easy to misunderstand some basic foundational principle, and get stuck later on because you didn't get some key concept early on. That is where a skilled teacher can diagnose and put you straight before the damage becomes too great.

Walter Isaacson: "Einstein, Franklin, and the Role of Creativity in Today's World"

I think you will get more insight into Einstein's education from this lecture. Isaacson turns to Einstein at about the 15 minute mark, but you will also likely appreciate his earlier accounting of Ben Franklin's education.

To say that Einstein hated school doesn't seem quite accurate; it might be more accurate to say that school hated him, but then that seems somewhat facile as well.

As for your comments about the numbers of engineers etc needed to continue BAU, whatever that means, the entire US public school system could shut down forever without making much of a mark on the worldwide supply of these people.

If BAU means the continued expansion of material consumption, then the likelihood of its continuence is close to zilch. So, let's move on.

We are wiser to focus on the imagination required to pursue truth and justice while transitioning from increasing fossil fuel use to diminishing fossil fuel use, and while facilitating the adoption of technologies that allow for the capture and conversion of current energy flows. What kind of education do we need for that?

As for your comments about the numbers of engineers etc needed to continue BAU, whatever that means, the entire US public school system could shut down forever without making much of a mark on the worldwide supply of these people.

True, but I don't think we'll be the only country facing this dilemma.

There are few countries where the idea of the public provision of public goods is so relentlessly under assault as appears to the case in the US. Still, there are powerful institutional and ideological forces that favour a public education system, so I expect that cutting back will eventually run into a wall of resistance.

Just think for a moment about the recent alarm sounded by a band of former military yukety-yuks regarding the physical fitness of young Americans. Very few, they say, would meet military standards. Well, the modern soldier also requires a range of intellectual skills. I expect that the militarily-oriented among the elites who run the US will be in the wall of resistance to education cutbacks, before too long. Of course, the Pentagon could always set up recruitment offices in China.

Beyond the military, the economic system prefers a surplus of workers at every skill level. The university industry demands an endless stream of applicants. And so on.

The purpose of NCLB was to turn the education system into the education industry. Think about it - all those people paying taxes into a system represent a nice cherry ripe for picking. Now, like the US health care industry and the electric energy industry, the purpose is to convert public money into private wealth. If you happen to get an education (or health care or electric power, etc.) out of it, well good for you - but that is not the primary purpose.

This kind of blatant exploitation is nothing new, it's just a continuation of the reason the nation was founded to begin with - there was a short respite from it during the mid 20th century when oil and empire created an age of plenty so incredible that it was easy to give the masses enough to mollify them. Now there is not enough to go around anymore, so we're back to exploitation. I think one of the worst problems is that our respite lasted just long enough for everyone to forget our own history, and we're stuck with these ridiculous fairytale expectations of what our society should do for us, when in fact the system does not give a rat's ass about you or me.

There are few countries where the idea of the public provision of public goods is so relentlessly under assault as appears to the case in the US. Still, there are powerful institutional and ideological forces that favour a public education system, so I expect that cutting back will eventually run into a wall of resistance.

Its kind of ironic. Weren't the the country who invented (or at least pursued) the concept of near universal government supported education. But, our new religion, is anything goverment (excepting military) should be starved to death. As education is one of the larger chunks of discretionary spending it takes the hit bigtime. I can't imagine Sweden or Germany, or Japan starving the schools because they don't like the goverment.

You are exactly right. Which of course means that the U.S. is in store for a world of pain, because the more generally educated a people are, the more they might be able to grasp, however dimly, the realities of energy decline and the need to adjust their lifestyles accordingly. And people in Europe/Far East should have no problems doing so, as they are much more used to cramped living quarters and having to get around without using a car all the time.

It's painful to admit and I have a hard time doing so, but we are in really, really bad shape in America. Our country is huge, complicated, and heavily auto and air travel dependent. We have an incredibly large amount of poverty for a first world nation. Immigration continues despite lack of work for citizens.

I wouldn't be surprised to witness either our descent into fascism, civil war, or both.

Still, there are powerful institutional and ideological forces that favour a public education system, so I expect that cutting back will eventually run into a wall of resistance.

I'm not so sure. Originally, public schools were meant to get kids off the street. As people moved to the cities, the kids who were free labor on the farm became public menaces in the city. Business owners were willing to pay taxes to support schools that would keep young hoodlums from loitering in front of their stores and scaring off customers. Hence the truancy laws. The point wasn't to provide education, it was to confine the kids.

Public school is very much a function of urbanization and industrialization, and if those go, public school might go as well.

Good point, ROCKMAN.
In the good ole days, the idea was to keep as many kids in school as possible until they all got high school diplomas.
The problem is the bean-counter-ization of education (bang-for-the-buck, EROI of education, call it what you will).
The federal government gave out money but then wanted to make sure the money wasn't wasted and so passed 'standards'. If a HS grad in Texas only needs a 6th grade education to get a job, then don't waste any more dough on them.

Public schools are a public responsibility going back to Ben Franklin, not intended to produce geniuses. They should produce graduates that can get average jobs beyond that it's up to the individual. Otherwise, they should provide a social purpose of reducing crime, teaching coping skills for kids and providing childcare.

Public schools basically were supposed to educate citizens -- give people the history, math, and reading ability to vote intelligently. The idea that education is to train people for jobs is a perversion. (That's what apprenticeships were for.) We've lost the sense that government is everybody's second job.

We live in a co-op apartment building, theoretically owned in common by all the shareholders, with rights to live in one of the units. Most of the residents think they own their apartments and don't worry about the status of the whole building. A few years back, a group of young shareholders organized, got elected to the board, and hired a more efficient management firm, replacing the former board and firm that were about as sloppy as they were dishonest. Result: we've largely avoided raising maintenance fees and making special assessments. Further result, little interest in co-op elections -- the present (good) board is being returned year after year, just as the old (bad) board was.

My husband and I belong to four democratic clubs in Queens and have worked to elect good people to the city council, the state senate, and the state assembly. There are about 20 activists in our circle and maybe 200 supporters. Political work takes a lot of time, but it's the cost of being a citizen. If the shareholders in a co-op don't realize that their investment depends on their being active and informed, most citizens around us don't think that government demands anything but a vote every two years, if that.

The city councilman we helped elect was a 4th grade school teacher; he's anxious to preserve the schools and libraries. Not sure he realizes yet that the tax base has collapsed and needs to be rethought if essential public services are to continue. Too much noise in the air.

Public schools basically were supposed to educate citizens -- give people the history, math, and reading ability to vote intelligently. The idea that education is to train people for jobs is a perversion. (That's what apprenticeships were for.) We've lost the sense that government is everybody's second job.

I couldn't agree more. Well said.

Public schools basically were supposed to educate citizens

Problem is: nobody is encouraged to think in terms of citizenship anymore. We've all graduated to consumers.

The "general will" and "the common good" has given way to shopping therapy and instant gratification.

Of course the loss of liberal arts education (which is so crucial to a broad based education encouraging thinking and decision making, not just rote obedience) is always the first to go when money is tight...after all, except for creating thinking citizens, what is it good for?


I knew one (and only one) person in college whose stated goal was to "educate himself". Everyone else was there for job training and/or partying.

There's a law that originated in economics whose name I can't remember now which is basically "The more you use benchmark (particularly if it's strongly incentivized) the worse it becomes at measuring what you want" (unstated is that this is because concrete benchmarks always imperfectly measure imperfectly understood concepts, and people adapt to optimising the benchmark). This happens all over, but in education can also lead to perverse effects the other way, such as if you've got a clever child who you think will already get an A or B on the test, there's an incentive to ignore them and spend the time turning an E student into a C student, regardless what will happen in all the students lives after the tests that affect your rating. Both sorts of effects are definitely happening in the UK's school system.

The Efficient Market Hypothesis?

I think there is another name for this law named after someone who postulated it, but I haven't been able to find it.

At work we use a variant of it.

You can only manage what you are measuring.

This means that knowing exactly what you are measuring is of critical importance, and in most of the human sciences that is still being argued out.

If everyone has the same information and reacts to it at the same rate, then no one has an advantage and no one can make money. A classic zero-sum game.

That is one of the outcomes of the efficient market hypothesis.

...school administrators embrace increased drop out rates because it eliminates poor students and thus raises the test averages.

Average is not the relevant statistical measure, at least with respect to NCLB sorts of testing. The NCLB goal is to raise the minimum score achieved by the group: as originally set, the target was that by 2014 all students would score at the "proficient" level. Having low-scoring students drop out improves the proficient-percentile figure; that it improves the average score is only incidental.

Research has shown that the easiest way to raise the group average is to focus on the smarter kids. It requires less teacher effort to improve a kid scoring 80 on a 100-point standardized test to 85 than it is to raise a student scoring 40 to 45. In contrast, under the NCLB strategy, and assuming that "proficient" is a score of 75, any extra effort spent on a student who can already score 80 is wasted in terms of meeting the scoring target.

It's all part of our national education policy: "Every child left behind".

And our economic policy--

No Billionaire Left Behind

Perhaps mcain. But I think I could, as a principal, greatly increase my schools score at almost no increased cost by doing whatever possible to get every D and F student to drop out. Easy to do: give them no emotional support, no tutoring, get on their butts for every little minor violation, remind them that they’re not got to get anything more from society if they stay in school and pass with a D then if they drop out. You get the idea, I’m sure.

And I know this approach works great because I’ve used it myself. But not as a school principle. I once had to take over operations for an oil/NG operating company that kept having accidents and drilling failures. The increase in insurance rates alone were starting to have significant impact. None of the management (suits with little field experience) wanted to be the bad guy. They really resisted the idea of directly firing folks: public company didn’t want such press floating out there. So I came in as the designated a**hole. And it worked. Made it clear to the folks that didn’t care about safety issues that I would be on their backs every hour of the day and stick them with every crappy assignment I could make up. Had a few nasty confrontations but in the end it worked. I didn’t enjoy the job, to say the least. But they way they were heading with the increasing number of near misses it was just a matter of time before the fatality count would start to grow.

Given how many poor/minority kids already feel disenfranchised I’m sure the job wouldn’t be that difficult. A very sad commentary on how we treat the most vulnerable in our society but certain to be very effective IMHO.

Yeah Rock. In Texas they "encourage" the failures to drop out. In Georgia they (teachers) have been changing wrong answers on tests to the right answers, raising overall test scores. Somebody reprogramed the scoring computers to search for erasures and discovered that more changed answers were correct than was statisically possible. Busted!



DECATUR, Ga. (AP) -- A former DeKalb County elementary school principal accused in a test cheating scandal has pleaded guilty to falsifying government documents.

Best hopes for more virtual classrooms, eLearning, and other forms of lower cost education.

Re: Who Killed California?

I've been reading a lot of material about the California fiasco, and comparing it with the much more successful PJM interconnect operating in all or parts of 13 eastern states. While there were bad guys like Enron doing illegal things, and a number of regulatory failures at both the state and federal level when those illegal things happened, the basic problem (IMO) was that California designed "markets" with fundamental flaws.

  • The largest problem appears to be that California utilities had to purchase all their power in the short-term (day-ahead and hour-ahead) markets. By contrast, the vast majority of the power purchased through the PJM is under long-term contracts. Most of Enron's manipulations would not have been possible (or at least not profitable) if California had allowed, and California utilities had used, long-term contracts.
  • California's transmission market was also screwy, particularly with the inclusion of physical transmission rights. PJM does not include such physical rights in their system. Enron made large amounts of money by withholding physical transmission capacity, forcing the ISO to pay exorbitant amounts at the last minute for physical capacity that was otherwise unused.

Economics 101 says that competitive markets provide low-cost solutions. Economics 202, though, says that there are a lot of conditions required for a market to be competitive in the sense used by economists. Wholesale electricity markets fail a number of those conditions.

Interestingly, the Cato Institute now acknowledges that those conditions are not satisfied so market failure is possible; that the only thing that substitutes for the missing conditions is to have large surpluses of both generating and transmission capacity; and that la raison d'entre for wholesale electricity markets is to eliminate expensive surplus capacity. As a consequence, they have said recently that state-regulation of vertically-integrated utilities may in fact be simpler and cheaper than the regulations necessary to make wholesale electricity markets function properly.

An amusing historical note... The original pressure for open wholesale markets and guaranteed access to transmission networks came from electricity-intense large businesses who wanted to be able to contract with merchant generators on a one-to-one basis to guarantee long-term supplies of cheap electricity. The original impetus for the state-regulated vertically-integrated monopoly model also came from electricity-intense large businesses looking to guarantee long-term supplies of cheap electricity.

I hear a "Duhhh!" coming on. Not in your post, but for those that conceived electrical grid systems to be some fungible energy supply that can be manipulated discriminately with no regard to physics. This was thought up by economists and unfortunately electrical engineers were too entranced by their graphing programmable calculators to put up a fuss.

The design of the generation and transmission exist for a reason. Usually we get to do it for both technical and economic principles, and has very little to do with inefficiency. EE's live and breathe efficiency, but I'm sure glad a few biz-school wunderkids and economist conjurers came up with a whole new reality - they can't even get their graphs right! There is one basic fundamental that has been lost, electric utilities are technology companies and should be managed as such. I've always maintained you know you are in trouble when the accountants start running the show.

[rant warning]
How many biz school grads does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, it's a non sequitur because they don't know what a light bulb is, what it does, or what the real energy demands are let alone the difference between a Watt or a VAR. So who do you ultimately really want running your electric utility?
[end rant]

Disclosure: Economics was my minor and I have a very clear appreciation of the scale of their disillusion.

EE, isn't part off the problem that the various state/prov regulators view them as commodity companies, rather than tech? And then make rulings (like about Burrard) that force the use of outdated tech?

There is just far too much political interference in the whole industry for my liking.

PS - anything to reply to my last comment on your Monday posting?

you know you are in trouble when the accountants start running the show

They always did run the show.

What Wheatstone bridge did you have your EE head buried under?

(Current rumors are you are dating Millie Amp. Any truth to that 'charge'? heh heh)

Re: Who Killed California? uptop.

The United Sates has a habit of following California. It is so entrenched that if California walked off a cliff, a large portion of the country would follow. With ethanol it takes the form of the Californication of ethanol where a perfectly good product is messed over (polite words) until it becomes useless.

In politics, majority rule by the people's representatives that had served most of the country well for 200 years was messed over with Californication using Propositions 13 and 16.

So it was Californians that killed California and now they are not satisfied so they are trying to kill the United States as well. The tool of choice is minority rule.

And the main bastion of it it is in the United States Senate with it's ridiculous requirement of 60% or a super majority to avoid a filibuster. This is de facto minority rule in one of the bodies that must approve legislation. So it means that the other body (the House of Representative) is in effect also ruled by the minority in the Senate.

The current Majority Democrats may complain, but don't want to change the rules since they well know they may be in the minority next and will use the rules the same way.

The result is perpetual gridlock just as in California as the whole country follows that misguided state over the the cliff.

It was the age of greed and nobody seemed to care who got hurt. Now we have an entire nation in the process of liquidation and California leads the way. They won’t give up until they’ve sold off our parks, our redwoods, our waterways and public buildings.

Unfortunately neither the people nor anyone in a position of power seems to have a clue. Berkley professor George Lakoff wrote a simple proposal at the heart of the matter. It said, “All legislative action on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” It would have effectively repealed Proposition 13 and rendered Proposition 16 void. It would not have resolved our deepening crisis but it would have been a start.

The Democratic Party killed it with an assist from Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown on the grounds that it would have been electoral poison.

Respecting Brown’s political moxie there must be some truth in it but the greater truth is that Orwell’s nightmarish vision has come fully into focus. Our perceptions are so dominated by corporate dictates that we can no longer distinguish our interests from corporate interests. If the Democratic Party fears to take a stand in favor of majority rule, then democracy, itself, is imperiled.

Welcome to the hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the hotel California
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "we are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax", said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!"

The Californication of the Unites States continues and the whole country will eventually end up in the same predicament as California: in a state of paralysis with not hope of recovery.

And following paralysis comes death.

In politics, majority rule by the people's representatives that had served most of the country well for 200 years was messed over with Californication using Propositions 13 and 16.

Prop 13 retstricted property taxes to 1% of the sales price per year, but has been added to over the years by way of county propositions for schools, and so on. We pay that tax on our home and its plenty - believe me. I shudder to think how much that tax would have elevated to if there had not been a restriction placed on it.

So, are you advocating no limits to property taxes? Maybe the problem is the obligations the State of CA has committed itself to in the way of State employee pension plans, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

Maybe the problem is the obligations the State of CA has committed itself to in the way of State employee pension plans, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

According to this state comparison at Barrons, (See Chart) California's problems in the area of unfunded liabilities are not so bad when compared to other states. They say:

Some states that do OK here, such as California and New York are struggling with other fiscal woes.

I wish they'd have gone into those other woes.

If I have to pay a 1% annual rent on my primary residence on its *hypothetical* price, then I do not see why the same rent tax is not applied to the stock market. Whatever stock and bond assets companies or individuals hold should be taxable at 1% per year regardless of increases or declines in value. This is a much more vast pool of money to tap by the ever starving government.

Here in Canada we have social engineering by the government which tries to steer people's money into stock "investments". Bank interest is taxable even if it is less than inflation (yet somehow companies can write off losses due to depreciation) but capital gains in the form of stocks are only taxed on 50% of the amount. Clearly, all the intellectual giant politicians "know" that the stock market can never fail to deliver gains.

You are exactly right. What we are witnessing in Canada and the U.S., and perhaps the anglo world as a whole, is nothing less than the complete evisceration of the middle class in favor of a banking oligarchy. Which is a darn shame because North America is such an amazing piece of real estate. The possibilites for quality of life and judicious use of our resources are endless, but we prefer hypercapitalism and the consequential rape of nature and our grandchildren.

Acually, public employee unions are bankrupting California. Be sure to click thru from that link to Steve Malanga's article about it in the City Journal.

Retailers, restaurants offer deals as more of us pinch pennies

The recession taught consumers their vulnerability, Cohen says. "They now stop and think about each purchase."

It has changed the way we relate to consumption "in our hearts, our minds and our souls," says Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. "Economic bad times in a consumer culture has become not only an economic adjustment, but a theological and ethical one."

Says Cohen, "Conspicuous consumption has become abnormal."

I love the subtle (or maybe not so subtle) way that more and more articles regarding the economy are referencing the recession in the past tense... as if it were ancient history already.

I'm going to see Stoneleigh's presentation tonight - wonder if she thinks that the recession is yesterday's news...

Well by definition, the recession is over. With the stimulus funds gushing like a opened fire hydrant it should come to no one's surprise there would be "positive growth". It should also suprise no one that can see more than 2 feet in front of them what will happen when the stimulus is exhausted.

I think more interestingly the disconnect seems to be growing:

US consumer confidence matches 2010 low -


In my opinion this growing disconnect will be what breaks down the wall of inequality between the "i-got-mines" and the reality of the majority. It will take just one spark during this long, hot, dry summer for things to get ugly. If that happens we will see the great irony of our times: the groupthink that made the herd so easy to manipulate to buy, buy, buy might turn on the hand that sold to them and vent their frustration.

Now who got voted off of dancing with the stars again last night?

I don't know the answer to that one. I was pre-occupied by American Idolatry yesterday.

I myself was enjoying a bag of Cheetos and flipping between my 500 cable channels. I can't remember a thing I watched, but I did finish the bag.

This defines the U.S. recovery from the recession, "How can I be out of money, I still have checks left?"

Pretty much sums up recent economic growth.

I think the recession is yesterday's news. The train is rolling again, those pushed off or shoved under won't be picked up, just like the last times. A bigger "underclass". No telling how soon till the next derail.

A bigger "underclass".

That's the way I read it too. As time moves on, as recessionary step downs take place, as credit shrinks, oil continues to plateau or even descend in production, a bigger underclass will develop. And like you say they won't get picked up. They are there in that underclass from here on out, there waiting to be joined by many more to come.

Along these lines, I've noticed prices rising for those remaining that can afford them. But that puts further pressure on those holding a shaky position, pushing them in the direction of the underclass, and in the next step down, they will join them.

Yea, just a few short years ago, talk was everywhere on this board about demand destruction. Back then as oil climbed and breached $100, it was all about Africa, Asia, over there some foreign place. It's come home to roost, different plumage, same bird. Ours is just a little more permanent than a fluctuating oil price would suggest.


Global Temperatures Push March 2010 to Hottest March on Record

Article headline from ScienceDaily.com

The headline speaks for itself, but now it will establish a new point in time to allow the denialists to claim the world is getting cooler, when any subsequent months are not record setting to even higher levels. That's how their logic works.

You see, it's not enough data to point to global warming when it is increasing in stages. Temps must angle upwards in a perfectly predictably linear fashion.

The media is giving these morons way too much attention. They deserve less than any of the many tin foil hat "theoreticians" out there. Take, for example, the endless discussion at peakoil.com between a couple of retards who claim that Arctic ice volume is not dropping over the last 30 years and several intelligent posters. These people are wasting their time since the two retards quickly forget about every occasion their predictions and claims have been proven wrong and proceed to re-launch their drivel all over again. Arguing with a wall is a much better activity since at least the wall keeps quiet.

The problem is that most people don't think in terms of probability. The scientist Edwin Jaynes asserted that probability is the logic of science and pervades every scientific thought at its core.

If people would just apply probability to all these problems, they would begin to intuitively realize that uncertainty and fluctuations are a part of nature.

Yet conservatives are taught to think in terms of black&white and not shades of gray due to their typical fundamentalist, domininionist, or theocratic upbringing. That sits at the heart of denialism.

At least you can argue with dominionists. Fundamentalists are often out of touch even with their own source material.

Very sad.

I don't talk to them. I read and hear that they do exist. :)

Yet conservatives are taught to think in terms of black&white and not shades of gray due to their typical fundamentalist, domininionist, or theocratic upbringing. That sits at the heart of denialism.

That about sizes it up.

Cut out the name-calling, please.

Name calling implies that my terms for people who fail to pass basic IQ criteria is inaccurate. I am using strictly scientific terminology based on empirical observation of the "intellectual" spewage of these individuals. Given the gravity of the potential climate disaster coming our way these people do not deserve to be molly coddled and treated with respect any more than the mass murdering scum that ran amok in Rwanda and elsewhere (they believed they were right also). All voices do not have an automatic right to a public pulpit. The media is abusing its power giving these degenerates a platform.

I'm not going to warn you again.

If you wish to participate here, you need to be civil. To everyone.

The JODI Databrowser has been updated with data from the April 21 release of the Joint Oil Data Initiative.

Here's a sample plot showing a remarkable falloff in demand for petrol in the UK with a major step down in December and January followed by another big step down in February to a level under 10 thousand barrels per month! (Assuming the JODI data are to be believed.)

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Petrol prices in the UK have returned to and passed the 2008 record, thanks to falling value of stirling. Also the cash for bangers scheme sharply improved the average fuel performance of cars on the road, whilst reducing the total number of cars for the first time since records began. It is perhaps also possible that people are driving more slowly and fewer miles, but I haven't noticed that...

Prices have reached a point that even I get nervous when the guage is low. And my primary transport is pedal powered.

RE: Load shedding in Pakistan

A quick trawl of Google News reveals Pakistan is not alone in it's plight. Without trying too hard it looks like India, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are also suffering daily outages.

Obviously the UK is under threat in the future but I don't believe any UK government would survive causing blackouts by closing functioning coal stations whatever EU regulations state.

Anyone aware whether this is being tracked globally?

Check this new article on Halliburton: Plunge in U.S. drilling still affecting us


A company called Neogen has just poste 38% increase in quarterly net income.

Part of that has to do with an issue I have noted before, the wetness of last years corn crop. The article notes "The outbreak of vomitoxin in last fall's corn harvest created a substantial opportunity and we were able to quickly ramp up production to meet the increased demand for test kits to detect this harmful mycotoxin."

Cooler weather has kept the fungus that creates the vomitoxin (which is dangerous when in feed, especially for pigs) from growing to badly in the storage bins, but now that warmer weather is coming we may see lots of last year's crop having to be discarded. Oh well, at least it goes back to the fields - NOPE if you do that you infect your fields with mold which can affect other crops than corn. This article notes the problem but doesn't say what the farmer should do with the moldy grain.


The Purdue University grain quality specialist noted as early as last October that anyone harvesting corn with a mold problem should forget about long-term storage on this year's crop. He warned that bad things could happen if they tried to take the corn into warmer months. Grain specialists in Ohio are echoing the same comments. In addition, they're adding some new cautions and advice for farmers who dealt with mycotoxins and moldy grain this past season. These new comments are geared toward preventing future problems, not only in corn but potentially in other crops. The same fungus that causes ear mold in corn can cause problems in other field crops.
Pierce Paul, a pathologist at Ohio State University, says to avoid the temptation of spreading moldy grain you can't sell out on a field. "The vomitoxin isn't a problem," he says. "But if there is active fungi on the kernels in the fields, you run the risk of spreading inoculum to this year's crop," he says.

The same fungus that can cause stalk rot and ear rot in corn can cause head scab in wheat. So certainly don't dispose of nay infected grain anywhere near a growing wheat field, he adds. The bottom line is that spreading out moldy grain in a field just increases the chances of spreading spores and causing additional disease problems.
Anne Dorrance, also a plant pathologist at Ohio State, says it's possible that if the inoculum is really high, this is the same fungus can affect soybean seedlings. Her solution is either applying a seed treatment or using management practices to reduce the inoculum in fields that were badly infected. Those could include chopping stalks or covering the residue with soil.

Can the moldy grain be converted to biofuel?

Ghung, it can, but the ethanol factories rely on selling DDGS (Dried Distiller Grains) for feed for cattle and hogs. Without that sale they would be in even worse shape in terms of making any money or returning any energy profit. The Vomitoxin is not destroyed in the process and is concentrated in the DDGS. Therefore Ethanol plants are turning away corn that tests with too many ppm.


The vomitoxin is not a problem for the actual production of ethanol at POET, but it has a tremendous impact on the end quality of the byproduct dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) being sold for livestock feed.

"With the process, we take the starch from the corn and convert it into ethanol, and the high-value feed product of DDGS is concentrated. When you think about it, the levels that you’re getting in the corn are concentrated much higher in the DDGS,” said Mark Borer, with POET in Leipsic. "We don’t want to sell our customers anything that their livestock shouldn’t be eating, so we’re forced to reject levels that would result in our DDGS not being able to fit their use.”

The vomitoxin in the DDGS can be three times higher than in the original load of corn, which could cause serious problems as a livestock feed.


Vomitoxin causes feed refusal and poor weight gain in livestock. Hogs are most sensitive to vomitoxin, even at one part per million contamination of hog feed. The toxin can also cause problems in horses and in breeding and lactating animals, but at high concentrations. Cattle, sheep and poultry are more tolerant of vomitoxin.

One way to deal with this is the same as the way they deal with aflatoxin in peanuts. You mix contaminated peanuts (or in this case corn) with uncontaminated ones to always keep the level just below the permissible amount. That depends of course on having enough uncontaminated to mix. In some areas apparently there is not enough uncontaminated corn to bring the contaminated corn down to acceptable levels.

Thanks for that Oxi. Pellet stove fuel perhaps? May cause resperatory problems :-(

Perhaps that would be a way to use it. If I read anything more I will report.

Rate hikes could spur backlash, NSP warned
Expert: Make green efforts gradually

Nova Scotia Power could face customer backlash over hiking power rates $2 per month next year to cover the cost of spending almost $42 million on energy conservation programs, a U.S. energy consultant told government regulators Tuesday in Halifax.

"If you ramp up too fast, people become more aware of the cost (and) less thinking about the benefits. If you go too fast, you get a ratepayer reaction because it becomes centred in people’s minds and they raise the questions about equity. ‘What am I getting out of this?’ " testified H. Gil Peach, of Beaverton, Ore.

Peach was appearing before the Utility and Review Board on the second day of a hearing into Nova Scotia Power’s plans for energy conservation programs in 2011.

The private utility wants to spend 3.5 per cent of the utility’s revenues, or $41.9 million, on energy conservation, which is among the highest rates in North America.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1178334.html

Efficiency taking little longer
Estabrooks: Conserve Nova Scotia’s replacement will be running by summer

It will be late spring or summer before the new agency designed to help Nova Scotians cut their energy use will be up and running, says Energy Minister Bill Estabrooks.

Estabrooks said he was "disappointed as minister" that Efficiency Nova Scotia isn’t yet in place. The target for replacing the provincial government’s Conserve Nova Scotia, as well as taking over Nova Scotia Power’s demand-side management program, was March 31.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/1178330.html

Conservation billing: Make sure it’s an investment

FOUR DOLLARS a month doesn’t sound like a lot to tack on everyone’s monthly power bill today in order to fund energy-saving programs that will constrain increases in electrical rates in the future.

In fact, though, the conservation charges paid by Nova Scotia electricity customers are beginning to add up to real money.

Nova Scotia Power Inc.’s 2011 demand side management (DSM) plan — which the Utility and Review Board will hold hearings on next week — will cost customers $41.9 million if the URB approves the $4-a-month hike the utility is seeking.

That’s nearly $20 million more than the first annual DSM plan approved by the regulator last year. And by 2012 and 2013, NSPI expects the cost of DSM programs to be $60.6 million and $81.9 million respectively.

Over four years, then, customers will have ponied up more than $200 million to subsidize things like housing retrofits and the purchase of more efficient lighting, appliances and equipment in homes and businesses. That’s the cost of a small generating plant, such as the 60-megawatt biomass unit NSPI wants to build at Port Hawkesbury.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Editorial/1177375.html


Untreated sewage sludge was once dumped onto fields as liquid manure, until it became apparent how toxic it is. Human excretions are full of heavy metals, hormones, biphenyls -- and drugs.

This quote from the Phosphorous article has some serious errors. Heavy metals used to be from industrial discharges to sewers, not human excretions. Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in biosolids have been greatly diminished by mandated local limits on industrial discharges. Drugs and hormones are still an issue for treated wastewater discharged to rivers, but not really an issue in biosolids used for fertilizer.

"Drugs and hormones are still an issue for treated wastewater discharged to rivers, but not really an issue in biosolids used for fertilizer."

This is dubious at best. Prove it. I wouldn't call EPA numbers worthy.
What about viruses? Why do "we" only test for 9 heavy metals (top of my head)
biosolids = toxic sludge

"But this time will be different.... promise!"

Lepreau 2 'still alive'
Energy: Hitachi Canada CEO says economy, nuclear plant's refurbishment have put plans on hold

FREDERICTON - The president and CEO of Hitachi Canada Ltd. says plans are still in place to build a second nuclear reactor in New Brunswick.

But Howard Shearer said Tuesday plans have been stalled because of delays refurbishing the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station and the economy's slow crawl out of recession.

"The idea of a second reactor for Lepreau is still very much alive," he said in an interview. "We just have to adjust to a new time frame because of the slow economic recovery and the ongoing refurbishment of Lepreau."

See: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/1024047


"But this time will be different.... promise!"

Now that the NB Power - Hydro Quebec merger deal is off (http://www.nationalpost.com/scripts/story.html?id=2723048), is New Brunswick going for broke (figuratively and literally) by investing again in nuclear?

Which begs a bigger question:

Should smaller energy jurisdictions consider going nuclear? Do benefits outweigh cost?

To use an analogy: the US may be able to absorb the cost of going to the moon, but it would be foolhardy for Bermuda to aim for such a high goal. Likewise, in a similar vein, Ontario Hydro services a big market and possesses a concomitant economy-of-scale. It makes sense for OH to have nuclear plants. New Brunswick isn't quite in the same league. Seems to me like a bit of little-big man syndrome happening here.

Hi Tom,

Your point is well taken. A second NGS would double or triple NB Power's indebtedness which is something this utility and its ratepayers can ill afford. I expect domestic demand will remain weak given continued upward pressure on rates. Also, can nuclear exports compete with Hydro-Québec's own exports and is there sufficient transmission capacity on both sides of the border to get that power to market?

It seems like an ill-conceived idea to me.


IMF: Increasing Demand Will Keep Oil Prices High

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its latest World Economic Outlook on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg, and forecast that commodity prices would stay “high by historical standards.” While the prediction applies to all commodities, Bloomberg reported that crude oil and copper were pivotal in leading commodity markets higher.

The IMF’s analysis of commodity markets agreed with the conventional wisdom in oil markets that economic growth to come later in the year would boost demand and strain the ability of oil producers to keep up:


Many predict higher oil prices, but some oil industry insiders—most recently the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson—are concerned that higher oil prices will lead to demand destruction as consumers alter their behavior in response to the rising cost of heating oil, gasoline, or other finished petroleum products.

See: http://www.heatingoil.com/blog/imf-increasing-demand-will-keep-oil-price...


Exxon CEO Latest to Worry that Oil Prices Could Derail Recovery

While the rising price of crude oil has spawned a vigorous debate over the impact of speculation on oil prices, seasoned observers of oil markets appear to have reached consensus on another question: high oil prices threaten economic recovery. Representatives of the IEA, OPEC, and other economists and oil consultants have all worried that rising oil prices will curb consumer spending on other goods and impede the global economy’s tentative recovery.


For Tillerson, the danger comes when gasoline prices hit $3.00–$3.50 a gallon. At that point consumers begin to change their behavior in order to reduce their energy demand. While changes in consumption can have “a detrimental effect” on the entire economy, Tillerson also worried that high prices pose a long-term threat to the oil industry through demand destruction, the permanent reduction of demand.

See: http://www.heatingoil.com/blog/exxon-ceo-latest-to-worry-that-oil-prices...


So the IMF, that very noble, accountable to no one organisatiion, is worried about high demand, and they guy who makes his living from oil is worried about demand destruction;

Tillerson also worried that high prices pose a long-term threat to the oil industry through demand destruction, the permanent reduction of demand.

Th US government (and people) should be worried about this.

Demand destruction will reduce imports from Saudi, Venezuela, etc, not XOM's production. XOM will lose a little on refining and retailing, but that is not where it makes most if its money.

For XOM to want to keep oil demand where it is, is putting itself before it's country. They will continue to make money, but the imports from KSA etc will continue to bleed wealth from the country at large.

Has anyone other than me seen the PBS "American Experience" episode titled "Earth Days" ?

All I can say is OMG. I hadn't intended to really make an effort to see it, thinking it would be just another baby boomer festival of their old glory days as idealist, fun filled, sex filled youth in the communes of Southern Cal. Just goes to show you what prejudice can cause you to risk missing...

The show starts a little flat, and then it gets darker and darker until it would be a proper film for all those wishing for a true to the spirit TOD produced doomer film...at the end of it I was getting ready to head for the hills myself, and maybe join a small band of reborn hippies in the hopes of a few more years of survival!

There was the normal reflections on the "unhappy" but so happy days of baby boomer youth and long haired idealism, the swan song of the movement as it was dismantled in defeat by big business and Ronald Reagan (Jimmy Carter spoke of the solar hot water panels he put on the White House, saying that in a few years they could be "an oddity, or a museum piece, or a symbol of a path not taken"...even he didn't imagine they would simply add to the landfill problem when they were essentially scrapped as crap), and the early 1970's TV commercial predicting that "you will have to wear an oxygen mask, there will be no birds, no insects and you won't be able to see the sun"...and all this by 1980!

Toward the end, we get a look at the new "eco-business" world, much more modest in its aims, much more prone to look for a profit in the doomer future so that at least they can go on to thier dotage in prosperity, hopefully driving a green hybrid to their solar suburban homes...the business community having once again does what it does the absolute best, co-opting the psychological cravings of the largest generation in history.

For the boomers and doomers and TOD'ers, this film is a MUST SEE. For those under the age of 35, we should subsidize your viewing of the film and PAY YOU TO SEE IT, so great it would be to you as revealation of where we have been a not so long yet in many ways a SO long time ago. Your history classes are probably not nearly so useful as a viewing of this film. WATCH IT.

I also agree with Ghung, who on another string recommended "Food,Inc" also showing on PBS, a fascinating look at food and agriculture....you can tell that for now PBS is not terrified of a conservative President coming down on their throat, they are opening up with all barrels blazing while they have the chance!


I only caught parts of it but was as equally surprised as you.

I don't recall Nixon being the one to sound the alarm on our addictive reliance on foreign oils. That was a surprise bit of past history. I must have been one of the asleep sheeple back then.

Who Killed California?

Even though you actually know all that stuff, it is still a very depressing read ... and makes you angry. To see one of the foremost "countries" of the world go to a bankrupt and dispirited place in less than a generation - is just such a downer. Scary and horrible. Is it illegal to eat the rich?

Please... California killed itself, do you really think a welfare state can support itself based on a service economy where the wealth can evaporate in an instant? The taxes in that state are ridiculous, they are on top of the federal taxes. It has spent itself into oblivion.

California levies a 9.3 percent maximum variable rate income tax, with six tax brackets. It collects about $40 billion per year in income taxes. California has a state sales tax of 8.25%, which can total up to 10.75% with local sales tax included.