Drumbeat: May 13, 2010

John Michael Greer: After money

During the 350 years of the industrial age, a good fraction of Europe did consume more than it produced, by the simple expedient of owning most of the rest of the world and exploiting it for their own economic benefit. As late as 1914, the vast majority of the world’s land surface was either ruled directly from a European capital, occupied by people of European descent, or dominated by European powers through some form of radically unequal treaty relationship. The accelerating drawdown of fossil fuels throughout that era shifted the process into overdrive, allowing the minority of the Earth’s population who lived in Europe or the more privileged nations of the European diaspora – the United States first among them – not only to adopt what were, by the standards of all other human societies, extravagantly lavish lifestyles, but to be able to expect that those lifestyles would become even more lavish in the future.

I don’t think more than a tiny fraction of the people of the industrial world has yet begun to deal with the hard fact that those days are over. European domination of the globe came apart explosively in the four brutal decades between 1914, when the First World War broke out, and 1954, when the fall of French Indochina put a period on the age of European empire. The United States, which inherited what was left of Europe’s imperial role, never achieved the level of global dominance that European nations took for granted until 1914 – compare the British Empire, which directly ruled a quarter of the Earth’s land surface, with the hole-and-corner arrangements that allow America to maintain garrisons in other people’s countries around the world. Now the second and arguably more important source of Euro-American wealth and power – the exploitation of half a billion years of prehistoric sunlight in the form of fossil fuels – has peaked and entered on its own decline, with consequences that bid fair to be at least as drastic as those that followed the shattering of the Pax Europa in 1914.

Lean, green killing machines

The US military is rushing to embrace sustainability. Its primary motive is not ethical. It is trying to keep pace with China in a strategic race to harness clean energy. Any future conflict between superpowers will almost certainly feature eco-weapons and green tactics. The oil-burning Americans are starting to realise how badly they are lagging behind.

This emerging race presents eco-minded campaigners and technologists with a dilemma - should they welcome the huge budgets being committed? Should they, perhaps, even take the military dollar, or should they campaign against the uses to which it is being put?

Michigan may reap gas fortune

They call it "the shale gale": a welcome storm that blew full force into Michigan last week when bidders paid $178 million for state land leases. In Michigan, that's a Texas-sized oil and gas sale, reaping in one day nearly what the state collected in total over the previous 81 years.

Even as the state invests millions in alternative energy, Michigan already may be sitting pretty, poised on the cutting edge of another energy revolution.

Credit Crisis Turning Into a Currency Crisis as Governments Devalue Currencies to Devalue Debt

The wealth of humanity has been built on energy. Half the world's conventional oil supply is already used. That means that the quantity of oil produced each year will not increase much from the current level even as demand from developing countries like India and China increases. Wars over oil have already started. Energy prices will rise. We will see a substantial rise in the cost of food, as food production requires energy.

Galbraith: The danger posed by the deficit ‘is zero’

EK: What are the policy implications of this view?

JG: It says that we should be focusing on real problems and not fake ones. We have serious problems. Unemployment is at 10 percent. if we got busy and worked out things for the unemployed to do, we'd be much better off. And we can certainly afford it. We have an impending energy crisis and a climate crisis. We could spend a generation fixing those problems in a way that would rebuild our country, too. On the tax side, what you want to do is reverse the burden on working people. Since the beginning of the crisis, I've supported a payroll tax holiday so everyone gets an increase in their after-tax earnings so they can pay down their mortgages, which would be a good thing. You also want to encourage rich people to recycle their money, which is why I support the estate tax, which has accounted for an enormous number of our great universities and nonprofits and philanthropic organizations. That's one difference between us and Europe.

Mexico eyes US, European refineries for supply

LA JOLLA, Calif. (Reuters) - Mexico state oil company Pemex will not build enough refineries to fully supply the Mexican market and may seek foreign partners to secure domestic supplies, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Pemex depends on imports to meet more than 40 percent of Mexican gasoline demand and is building a new refinery to cut its reliance on foreign supplies, but CEO Juan Jose Suarez said the company was open to deals with foreign suppliers due to the high cost of new refinery capacity.

Mexico oil reform overly complicated for Pemex - CEO

LA JOLLA, Calif. (Reuters) - Changes to Mexican energy law in 2008 gave state oil company Pemex new tools to battle falling oil output but also imposed more bureaucracy on the company, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Juan Jose Suarez said Pemex was working to become more business-like but red tape, cumbersome oversight and government-set prices for refined products and petrochemicals made a full overhaul more difficult.

Fuel shortage shuts down 10 passenger trains

KARACHI: Pakistan Railways shut down ten passenger trains on Thursday saying it is left with only three days of oil storage .

Railway authroties have also planned to shut down at least 120 non-revenue generating trains after a decrease in oil supply. The initial shutting down phase includes sixty routes with five per cent revenue generation.

Venezuela expropriates Mexican-owned food company

CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez's government ordered the "forced acquisition" Thursday of a Mexican-owned food company that is one of the largest operating in Venezuela.

A notice in the Official Gazette announced the expropriation of the property and assets of Molinos Nacionales CA, or Monaca.

Gazprom-Naftogaz merger absolutely pragmatic idea - Miller

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- The chief executive officer of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom Alexei Miller and Ukraine’s Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Boiko have had a meeting at Gazprom’s head office in Moscow on Thursday.

The work to upgrade the Ukrainian gas pipeline system must proceed in close connection with the development of the unified gas supply system in Russia, Miller said afterwards.

When subsidised power is a lesser evil

THE government of Bangladesh (GoB) will reportedly have to raise electricity prices substantially for consumers in the coming months or give around Tk 50 billion (Tk 5,000 crore) in subsidy a year. This is so because, what the reports said, the government has so far approved agreements for installation of 15 fuel oil-based rental and peaking power plants to generate 1,480 mw of high-cost electricity by 4 to 15 months.

China snaps up Penn West oil sands slice

Penn West Energy Trust will sell a 45% stake in a planned oil sands project to China Investment Corporation for C$817 million ($805 million), the latest in a series of Canadian companies turning to China for cash to develop the massive resource.

Saudi Aramco Said to Cut Offer for Naphtha Supply

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, lowered its offer for naphtha to be supplied in the second half of this year, three people with knowledge of the talks said.

On doomed rig, lapses sparked catastrophe

(Reuters) - A cascade of human and mechanical failures likely caused last month's deadly offshore rig explosion and an undersea oil gusher that could be the worst U.S. environmental disaster, according to data gathered by congressional investigators and reviewed by experts.

Transocean Asks to Cap Rig Liability at $26.7 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Transocean Ltd., the owner and operator of the oil rig leased to BP Plc which exploded last month and killed 11 men, has asked a U.S. judge to limit its liability to $26.7 million.

The request, filed today in Houston federal court under a 150-year-old law originally designed for the shipping industry, applies to all litigation the company faces over the explosion and spill.

The Paradox of Deep Water: Lots of Oil, Lots of Danger

The ability to extract oil in hard-to-reach places has zoomed ahead. Disaster preparation has not.

Calculating rate of leak in gulf oil spill proves a difficult task

The world has finally seen directly the turbulent plume of oil, gas and water billowing from a sliced steel pipe on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. But new video clips, released by BP Wednesday afternoon, haven't clarified one of the central unknowns in this crisis: Exactly how much oil is leaking into the gulf?

The Secret, 700-Million Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

There's a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try. As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge the contaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.

Gasoline Jumps to 1-Week High on Lower Refinery Rates, Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline jumped to the highest level in a week as refiners reduced rates for the first time in eight weeks and inventories fell unexpectedly. The profit for refining oil into gasoline rose to a 15-month high.

Philips’ new LED light bulb to make incandescent bulbs obsolete

Philip’s new 12 watt wonder bulb is the best and the easiest way to meet terms with the world’s energy crisis. Functioning with standard dimmers and emitting soft white glow, the latest green technology can last 25 times longer than a conventional incandescent. There has been no word about its pricing, but it is anticipated to hit the U.S. market by the fourth quarter of 2010.

Latin Americans targeting green energy

A conclave of some of Latin America’s leading energy officials that ended Wednesday in La Jolla was tinged with green, with a number of talks focusing on how the shift to renewable power could help their countries gain more energy independence and extend their power grids into poor neighborhoods and rural areas.

The focus on renewables set this year’s event apart from previous years, said Jeffrey Davidow, president of the Institute of the Americas, which has hosted the Latin American Energy Conference for 19 years.

Auto makers try to reverse slower sales with incentives

IN a bid to reverse seemingly slower vehicle sales auto makers are keen to cut prices and offer incentives to lure buyers especially as the non-peak season for car purchases nears.

China's overall auto sales accelerated 34 percent in April from a year earlier, but they were slower than the 56 percent for March and 124 percent for January.

The sales also reversed by nearly 10 percent from March figures, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Builder of a 1975 Porsche 914 All-Electric DIY Conversion Fills Us In on The Process

Q: What got you interested in electric vehicles?

A: I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the environmental impacts of single-passenger driving habits. Between peak oil, global warming, air pollution (both particulate and ozone), and water pollution (from gas stations and refining) I am convinced that we need a better way to get around town. My own personal commute is less than 15 miles round-trip, and I knew that this is similar to many others – the typical daily driving distance is less than 30 miles. So, all of this combined to push me toward wanting an electric vehicle, and to advocate for their widespread use.

A Fuel-Saving Car Engine in the Blink of an IRIS

The IRIS engine works by expanding and contracting like the iris of an eye. Its creators say its greater working surface makes the IRIS more efficient than traditional piston-driven internal combustion.

Companies Put Restrictions On Research into GM Crops

A battle is quietly being waged between the industry that produces genetically modified seeds and scientists trying to investigate the environmental impacts of engineered crops. Although companies such as Monsanto have recently given ground, researchers say these firms are still loath to allow independent analyses of their patented — and profitable — seeds.

A Sustainable Hero For The Earth

Kruse said being environmentally conscious has been a way of life for her since she was a child. She vividly remembers the first energy crisis in the 1970s when her father told her it was everyone's patriotic duty to conserve oil and support the president.

"That really stuck with me," Kruse said. "I've been aware of conserving resources ever since."

The triple crises of civilization

The evidence is overwhelming. We are facing triple crises. Global warming is already happening. We are at or close to being at peak oil (and some say as result peak money) production. We have exceeded our carrying capacity and still adding 3 million people to the U.S. population and eighty million to the earth each year. Between the two of us we have read almost all of the books below and are deeply impressed that so many prominent environmentalists, scientists, spiritual leaders, and educators have written so many books about crisis and collapse in just the last few years.

We urge all who care about the future to read at least one book from each of the categories. In this time of greenwashing by corporations and politicians there is nothing more important that we can do than to be well informed about these issues. If you only have time or motivation to read one book then James Hansen's book, The Storms of my Grandchildren, is a must read. While there are many more books that have been written in each category we have listed what we think are the best four in terms of information and ideas on how to deal with the crises. While the reading may at times be discouraging it will also likely motivate people to action as it has us.

Venezuelan gas rig sinks in Caribbean

CARACAS (Reuters) – A Venezuelan natural gas exploration rig sank in the Caribbean Sea early Thursday, but all 95 workers were evacuated safely and there was no leakage, the government said.

"Fortunately all our workers are safe and fortunately the well presents no risk to our environment," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state TV, saying there was no gas escaping.

President Hugo Chavez announced the news via Twitter, saying all workers had been taken from the Aban Pearl rig, located close to Venezuela's far north east coast in a region close to the Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago.

Oil Falls a Third Day on Stronger Dollar, Rising U.S. Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell for a third day in New York as the strengthening dollar curbed investors’ demand for alternative investments, and as U.S. crude inventories grew.

The Energy Department said crude inventories rose 1.95 million barrels last week to 362.5 million, the highest in almost a year. It was the 14th increase in 15 weeks. New York futures are trading at the biggest discount to London contracts since February 2009 after supplies at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point jumped to a record.

LNG’s Oil Link in Asia Weakens on Supply Glut

(Bloomberg) -- The link between liquefied natural gas prices in Asia, the world’s largest consumer of the cleaner- burning fuel, and oil prices is breaking down as a glut in capacity boosts supplies.

Shell, BG, Conoco May Combine Australia Gas Projects

(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s proposed resource tax may prompt Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips, BG Group Plc and Santos Ltd. to merge as much as $70 billion of gas projects targeting fuel shipments to China, Japan and South Korea.

The government’s 40 percent tax on profits, starting in 2012, may reduce returns from the ventures that will tap coal- seam gas in Queensland for export as liquefied natural gas. That will make them less viable on their own, said Nik Burns, an analyst at RBS Morgans in Melbourne.

BP Disaster Strands Billions of Barrels of Offshore U.S. Crude

(Bloomberg) -- A regulatory crackdown on offshore oil drilling after the fatal rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico will delay development of U.S. deposits with billions of barrels of crude, energy producers and analysts said.

The end of offshore oil drilling? Not a chance

Offshore drilling, especially of the deepwater kind, is highly risky because of the extreme depths and extreme pressures. Experience only goes so far because each oil disaster is like no other. If BP and its contractors, drilling platform operator Transocean and well-cementer Halliburton, had a reliable playbook, Macondo would not still be leaking. Indeed, the offshore industry needs a drastic overhaul. A permanent ban on deepwater offshore drilling might have to come into effect.

It won’t happen. Drilling bans will not come. The predicted slowdown in the offshore industry’s growth will not happen. The reason is simple: Offshore is where the oil is.

Stupak: How did oil spill companies get permits?

WASHINGTON – The chairman of a subcommittee delving into what happened at BP's blown-out oil well says he wants to talk with the federal service that is supposed to oversee drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, told ABC's "Good Morning America" he wants to know why the Mining and Minerals Service gave permits to BP and the companies involved in various aspects of the well and rig. The service enforces drilling regulations and collects the royalties oil companies pay to the government.

US agency admits lax enforcement of oil drilling

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A US official acknowledged Wednesday that the oil and gas industry largely polices its own drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico with little government supervision.

At a hearing into the deadly rig explosion that led to a massive, growing oil spill, the Minerals Management Service official said the regulatory agency did not enforce compliance with its "safety alerts" on underwater blowout preventers and allowed oil companies to inspect their own drilling equipment.

Obama brain trust battles oil spill

HOUSTON, Texas (AFP) – A brain trust of scientists has been assembled by President Barack Obama's administration to help BP cap the well that has been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three weeks.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Nobel prize-winning physicist, told reporters Wednesday that the "intellectual horsepower of the country is engaged in solving this problem."

US energy secretary says hopes rising over oil spill

HOUSTON, Texas (AFP) – Hopes of containing the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are rising, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday after meeting top engineers and scientists at a BP command center.

Chu, a Nobel prize-winning physicist, spoke as crews were adding the finishing touches to a containment box on the sea bed that will be placed over the main leak to potentially contain the gushing oil.

"Things are looking up," Chu told reporters in Houston, Texas. "Progress is being made."

Anadarko May Take Biggest Hit From Spill as BP’s Silent Partner

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc is battling a Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is a defendant in more than 100 lawsuits and is testifying before Congress about what caused an April 20 rig explosion and fire. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. may be taking the bigger financial hit.

Shrimpers, fishermen, hotels feel oil spill's trickledown effect

GULFPORT, Miss. — Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina took the 20-year-old office building that housed Ship Island Excursions, destroying it in no time.

Three years later, Hurricane Gustav took the trailer brought in to replace the office.

Now, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill threatens the very survival of the company that has sustained four generations of the Skrmetta family here, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Energy's costs finally meet the eyes

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, 11 men were missing and a gushing well was emptying into the sea. It happened to be Earth Day.

A week later, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced federal approval for the nation's first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound near Hyannis, Mass., which will turn an aquatic area the size of Manhattan into an oceanic-industrial complex with 130 massive turbines reaching 440 feet into the sky. Both are reminders that all energy comes at a price.

Poll: Good marks for Obama on spill, more drilling

WASHINGTON – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill hasn't stained President Barack Obama nor dimmed the public's desire for offshore energy drilling, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.

While some conservative pundits, such as Rush Limbaugh, have called this "Obama's Katrina," that's not how the public feels, the poll found. BP PLC, which owned the well that has gushed more than 4 million gallons since an Apr. 20 oil rig explosion, is getting more of the public's ire.

Long-term effects on Gulf sea life unknown

NEW ORLEANS — Marine scientists warn that submerged oil and chemical dispersants in the widening Gulf of Mexico oil disaster could have long-lasting effects on the region's sea life, from tiny plankton to giant squids.

Gulf Spill Boosts BP, Transocean Debt Costs

(Bloomberg) -- Energy companies’ borrowing costs are rising at the fastest pace in 17 months after an oil rig leased by BP Plc exploded, killing 11 people, spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico and prompting a moratorium on new drilling.

After the Big Switch, dreams of a brave new world for gas supply

While most people think of Bord Gais as a gas supplier, the company has transformed itself under Mr Mullins' leadership and may one day have more customers for its cut-price electricity than for its gas.

Coal India May Save $555 Million on Employee Costs

(Bloomberg) -- Coal India Ltd., the world’s largest producer of the fuel, may save about 25 billion rupees ($555 million) in employee costs over the next 10 years as it increases the use of machines at its mines.

“The total number of employees will come down because of mechanization and through natural attrition,” Partha Bhattacharyya, chairman of the Kolkata-based company, said in a telephone interview today. “The savings will help us boost our bottom line.”

Russian mine search halted, death toll reaches 66

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian rescue workers on Thursday stopped searching for 24 men still missing after a mine disaster that killed at least 66 because of fears of new underground blasts, the emergencies ministry said.

A methane gas blast ripped through the Raspadskaya mine on Saturday night, followed hours later by a stronger explosion that wrecked the main ventilation shaft and badly damaged buildings on the surface.

Boeing, Exxon Say New Iran Sanctions Would Hurt Global Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. are lobbying to fend off tightened sanctions against Iran that business groups say may cost $25 billion in U.S. exports.

China's role grows in debate over Iran sanctions

BEIJING — As world powers wrangle this month at the United Nations about how to handle Iran's nuclear plans, China is attempting to balance its thirst for Iranian oil and natural gas with its ambition to be a diplomatic heavyweight.

Tough sanctions against Iran could have serious economic consequences for China , one of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council . Any significant disruption of China's oil and gas supplies, coupled with setbacks to the country's development deals in those sectors, could hamper Beijing's scramble to ensure that its booming economic growth keeps pace with the rising expectations of its people.

China , the world's second-largest consumer of oil, gets about 11 percent of its oil imports from Iran and has signed billions of dollars in contracts for Iranian oil and gas projects. The Financial Times recently estimated that Beijing is now Tehran's largest trading partner.

Afghan war costs now outpace Iraq's

WASHINGTON — The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan, driven by troop increases and fighting on difficult terrain, has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003 and shows no sign of letting up.

Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. As recently as fiscal year 2008, Iraq was three times as expensive; in 2009, it was twice as costly.

Obama: Afghan's partner for the long term

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military, diplomatic and economic commitment to Afghanistan will remain for years, President Obama promised his Afghan counterpart Wednesday as part of a week-long mission to ease tensions between the two nations.

Virginia seeks I-95 tolls near North Carolina border

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's governor has asked federal highway officials to establish tolls on Interstate 95 near the North Carolina border to pay for repairs that he says are sorely needed along the busy interstate.

The tolls of $1 or $2 for each axle would generate $30 million to $60 million annually, Gov. Bob McDonnell wrote in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Green practices conflict with homeowners association rules

Early last year, Larry Lohrman, a homeowner in Salem, Ore., decided to try to cut his energy consumption by installing solar panels on his roof. He researched the panels, hired an installer and put a down payment on a 3,000-watt solar installation.

Lohrman's plans were interrupted abruptly by a letter from his homeowners association at Creekside Estates denying permission for the installation because it would violate the private community's covenants.

It's a scene that's being played out across the country. As homeowners increasingly seek to turn to green practices such as using clotheslines instead of dryers or moving to solar or wind power, they are finding those plans in conflict with the rules of homeowners associations that encourage conformity in order to maintain property values.

UK's largest renewable energy show set for Aberdeen

It’s big, busy and as a result, bound to be buzzy and, with good reason, has been described as “the AGM of the renewable energy world”…… All-Energy 2010, the tenth in the annual series, opens in a week’s time on Wednesday 19 May at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre and is the largest renewable energy exhibition and conference ever held in the UK. There are over 450 exhibiting companies from 16 countries (filling 25% more space than All-Energy ‘09) and registrations are coming in thick and fast.
(Matt Simmons is listed as a speaker.)

USDA, DOE announce biomass funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The USDA and the Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced up to $33 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products, subject to annual appropriations.

These projects will support the Obama administration’s comprehensive energy strategy of increasing the nation’s energy, economic and national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases, according to a news release.

Britain Says New Nuclear Plants Can Proceed Without Subsidies

(Bloomberg) -- New nuclear power plants will be built in the U.K. if utilities pay for them, said Chris Huhne, who was named yesterday as climate change secretary in a coalition government divided on the merits of atomic reactors.

Companies including E.ON AG, Electricite de France SA and Centrica Plc want to replace aging reactors in the U.K. as pressure grows to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. Huhne’s Liberal Democrats opposed atomic power while the Conservatives, their coalition partner, supported it. The parties yesterday said the Liberals will abstain on nuclear votes.

Japan's Sojitz to enter US Solar Power business: report

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese trading house Sojitz Corp. is planning to enter the solar power generation business through a 100 million dollar investment in a US firm, it was reported Thursday.

Sojitz will take a minority stake in California-based Solar Power Partners Inc. The third-largest US solar power developer plans to build up to 10 solar farms by 2015, the business daily Nikkei reported.

Climate-energy bill debuts in Senate, but prospects are dim

Nearly a year after the House of Representatives approved a comprehensive climate-energy bill, two US senators on Wednesday unveiled their own plan for weaning America off fossil fuel and slashing carbon emissions tied to global warming.

The Kerry-Lieberman Climate and Energy Bill: Is it a 'disaster' or a 'jumpstart'?

The Center for Biological Diversity calls the bill "a disaster for the climate," that "moves us one baby step forward and at least three giant steps back in any rational effort to address the climate crisis." Friends of Earth calls the bill "dangerous," arguing that it would undercut existing efforts to reduce carbon pollution while handing "billions in giveaways to corporate polluters, including the oil, coal, nuclear and agribusiness industries."

But 21 prominent environmental groups from Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection and the National Audubon Society to the Union of Concerned Scientists World Wildlife Fund, welcomed the bill as a good step forward.

Bill would let coastal states say no to offshore drilling

WASHINGTON — Coastal states could veto offshore drilling plans under long-awaited legislation to curb global warming unveiled Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would allow states to opt out of federal drilling up to 75 miles from their shores, a concession to lawmakers concerned about offshore exploration in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Newfoundland bid to use Quebec hydro lines turned down

Quebec’s energy regulator dealt a blow to Newfoundland and Labrador’s plan to develop a massive power project on the Lower Churchill River, denying the province’s push to have Hydro-Québec transmit electricity to markets in the U.S. and Canada.

Premier Danny Williams slammed the Quebec energy board’s decision Wednesday as “a blatant disregard” for the fundamental electricity market principle of non-discrimination.


The province’s energy company, Nalcor Energy, has begun engineering work on a 3,000-megawatt project down river from the original site, and hopes to sell the power in the province itself, as well as in export markets.

Nalcor has several applications with Hydro-Québec’s TransÉnergie to transmit power to U.S. markets, and also hopes to deliver as much as 1,400 megawatts to Ontario.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...


So, it seems Quebec is determined to garner a handsome portion of the rent from the lower Churchill.

I wonder if Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't do better to seek industries that could embed the lower Churchill's energy in products more easily exportable than electricity is in this case.

Is there a viable hydrogen fuel cell that's on this side of the horizon? I know that the last experiment with greenhouses failed (remember the Sprung cucumber), but is there a potential for indoor agriculture on a massive scale on the rock? What about several mega server farms?

Maybe Newfoundland and Labrador just needs to appear to be looking seriously at some alternative ways to export energy in order to increase their bargaining power vis a vis Quebec.

What they need to build is an aluminium smelter - nothing sucks up electricity like they do. Other kinds of smelters would work too, like say nickel (I think there's some of that at a place called Voisey's bay?)

Alternatively, just bite the bullet and build a honkin' great HVDC line from Churchill Falls to Nfld, then subsea to Nova Scotia, and overland to New Brunswick (I hear they could use some electricity)and from there to the US grid.

This would enable many more hydro projects in Labrador, and give all the Maritime provinces access to the US market, with involving Quebec - "energy independence" from Quebec! I wonder if N&L could then stop selling power to Quebec under that silly agreement they have.

Nova Scotia and NB could close all their coal plants and just buy hydro from N & L. They would also have the alternative to buy from Quebec, thus keeping both honest.

Of course, this might nor be so good for those who make their living saving electricity, but I think Paul's work will be done by then.

In all seriousness, I think a big HVDC line like that would be just the ticket, much better value than that silly bridge they built a fews years ago.


Good suggestions. Indeed, instead of seeing this as a black day for Churchill watershed development, Quèbec's stubbornness is N&L's opportunity.

People around here in Nova Scotia would be very glad to buy hydro from across the strait if for no other reason than to rely less on coal generation. It would be different if the local mines were still open, but what is being burnt these days comes from Colombia or the United States.

"energy independence" from Quèbec! I wonder if N&L could then stop selling power to Quebec under that silly agreement they have.

It wouldn't surprise me to discover that the insane deal between Quèbec and Newfoundland, the biggest giveaway in history, probably has some obtuse and absurd clauses that would preclude alternative arrangements, but I can't see why present day projects would be bound to any such agreement. There was some idle speculation a few years back that Ottawa could use its declaratory powers to create an energy corridor through Quèbec to give Newfoundland a break, but the elected minions from la belle province kyboshed that idea on constitutional grounds. Don't touch provincial jurisdiction was their mantra. Funny thing, such legal misgivings were not expressed a few short years later when it meant getting Alberta's oil cheaper by way of a federal National Energy Program. Ah, such fun and games.

My hope is that Newfoundland & Labrador will find a way around the impasse and think outside the box.



It wouldn't surprise me to discover that the insane deal between Quèbec and Newfoundland, the biggest giveaway in history, probably has some obtuse and absurd clauses that would preclude alternative arrangement


Here is the 1969 Churchill Falls contract. A lot of Canadians forget that without Hydro-Québec's power contract and underwriting, there would be no Churchill Falls generating station today because Brinco was on the verge of bankruptcy. As for the Americans, they said no to the deal because they thought the Seabrooke nuclear generating station would be cheaper to run.

I've worked with the engineer that put together the feasibility for transmission alternatives from this site to... (wait for it)... Boston. They were comparing 500 kV AC, +/- 500 kV DC, and 765 kV AC. This was an entire land route so AC won out. If they were to go submarine through Nova Scotia I'm sure HVDC would be the better option. That's all he could tell me without breaking confidentiality.

Ah, the politics of dealing with Quebec. I promised myself I wouldn't get all riled up stewing over this exercise is futility and grand larceny. I think the provincial motto ought to be "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" Keep in mind Quebec is supposed to be an industrial and economic powerhouse yet it receives the most federal transfer payments from Ottawa.

"Quebec and Manitoba will receive the most from equalization payments in the 2009-2010 year."


The following provinces will not qualify for equalization payments in 2009-2010:

* Alberta
* Saskatchewan
* Newfoundland and Labrador
* British Columbia

Why? Because these provinces are producing something other than "whine". You'll notice that all four provinces in the equalization payment negative are also oil, gas, and potash producing.

Meanwhile, they maintain a political party provincially and federally that is dedicated to the separation and sovereignty of Quebec - but they want to keep the Canadian currency and passports. In any other country in the world they would be taken out and shot as traitors. But no-o-o-o, what about our culture? Our national identity? Don't let the door hit your a$$ on the way out.

In the last Separation referendum a salient little fact came to light. As it turns out, a small fraction the province actually belongs to Quebec. All the area north of the strip along the St. Lawrence is Crown land (federal, or The Queen's per se). So why can't the federal government mandate a transmission corridor through Quebec. Ah yes, that's right because Quebec has almost as many federal election seats as BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan combined and twice as much as all the Maritime provinces.

Si les récents poutine?

(Had any poutine lately?)

I think this power line, in any AC or DC version, as long as it doesn't go through Quebec, is a great idea. Anything that lessens the rest of the country's dependence on them is a good move.

Think of it as Maritime version of the Cdn Pacific Rlwy, without the sneaky property development deals.

As for the Quebec equalisation thing, it's kinda back-assward. I think of Quebec as like a remittance man - normally the family pays them to stay away, but Canada pays them to stay here!

I truly think the best political strategy for the Fed government (be it Lib or Conservative) would be, for the next election, to promise to hold a referendum on Quebec separation. Then they get to phrase the question, stating clearly that they don;t get Cdn passports or money, they do get their share of national debt , they can keep the Habs, but not the Stanley Cup, etc etc.
This would pull the rug out from under the BQ. They would then have to either oppose the referendum on principle, because they don;t like the question, but then they are denying their very supporters a chance to choose. Or they support the referendum, but it would certainly fail. Who would want to separate from one of the most stable countries in the world (and its equalisation money) in the current economic climate? Once the referendum is done, the question is settled for at least another couple of decades.

In the meantime, every $, power line, railway, etc should be routed around La Poutine Province

Actually, maybe a better way to go about the Quebec referendum question, is to ask the rest of Canada if they want to keep Quebec, or not?
I know which way Western Canada would vote on that.


If I seem to be taking it a little personal, well its because I've been subject to the francophone chauvinism and ignorance living in Ontario. I know Quebec is full of good, honest people, but the aggregate behaviour seems to be intolerant.

I was interviewed for the position of Network Architect for the Parliamentary Buildings in Ottawa over 10 years ago. The other three in the room where all Quebecois and I knew right away with the first instance of any problem I was going to be the anglophone whipping boy. I cut the interview short. This is jut one of a few instances. The irony is part of my family is continental French and they don't think much of them either. BTW, I am English speaking, not an anglophone. I happen to speak Spanish also.

I don't want to make this into a Quebec rant thread, but it is worthwhile for our U.S. neighbors to understand that the Canadian Western provinces have more in common with Oregon or California than parts of Eastern Canada.

Cascadia Rules!

You'll notice that all four provinces in the equalization payment negative are also oil, gas, and potash producing.

What a vivid illustration of the centrality and importance of energy and fertilizers to the economy of the world.

I suspect that if you were to rank the US States by some equivalent measure, you would find that most of the ones in the black are net energy/raw materials/food exporters.

Pays these days to be hewers of wood and drawers of water...

... and oil and gas and gold and copper and potatoes and barley...


What they need to build is an aluminium smelter - nothing sucks up electricity like they do. Other kinds of smelters would work too, like say nickel (I think there's some of that at a place called Voisey's bay?)

In order to be competitive, Lower Churchill electricity would have to be sold at a lower price than what Hydro-Québec can offer Rio Tinto Alcan or Alcoa (approximately 4.5¢/kWh -- the "L" rate), but from what I can understand the unit cost for this project would be ±6¢/kWh + transmission. Furthermore, the transport (rail, roads and deep sea harbor) infrastructure of Labrador is constrained.

It doesn;t really matter what the existing smelters are buying power for, unless you are considering moving production from there to here. What really matters, is what is the marginal cost of new electricity anywhere. I'd be surprised if a new hydro project in Quebec, or anywhere else, would come in at much under 6c. Alternatively, if Rio Tinto wanted to build a new smelter in Quebec, would they still get offered the 4.5c rate?

Much of the world's aluminium production , especially in China, is from coal fired electricity, the cost of which is only going up.
So, it isn't necessary to be competitive with their lowest cost producers, it just needs to be competitive with any other new opportunities, and I'd say 6c/kWh for carbon free hydro, and first in line, is probably pretty good. Infrastructure concerns can be addressed, governments seem to like doing that sort of thing.
If an HVDC line is built then the smelter can be built anywhere along that line, though the obvious place would be where it meets the coast.

Such a scheme would still be operating long after N&L's offshore oil is gone, and it's a lot safer too...

What about several mega server farms?

Server farms need techs to run them. And a lot of gear coming and going. And lots of fiber from multiple network providers. Sheer physical distance results in higher latency on network connections, too. In general you don't want servers too far away from clients.


Wondering the viability of tapping into the grid via the Maritime Provinces through transmission lines down the Island of Newfoundland and across the Cabot Strait? What would be some of the technical challenges of that route? Would it be feasible politically?

Hydro Québec has played political hard-ball with New Brunswick Power in recent months. Maybe time for N.B. to cozy up to the Newfie corner for some serious "bye-to-bye" talks. Could potentially even give Premier Williams and Premier Graham brownie points with their respective constituents.



I don't think so. First the Cabot Strait undersea line would be costly (and would increase the 6¢/kWh price of Lower Churchill power). It would also involve a serious investment in the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick grids :

* 345 kV line from Cape Breton to Halifax or Truro
* the interconnection between NB and NS is constrained to 300 MW
* there is a bottleneck in the Moncton area

As far as NB Power goes, they don't seem to put much faith in the Lower Churchill project. That's why Shawn Graham almost certainly put his political career in jeopardy by proposing the sale of the provincial utility to HQ. And let's be realistic: Quebec pulled out of the deal in order to save Graham's skin, the "due diligence" excuse is probably crap.

Thanks Claude for the technical feedback on this. Looks like an Atlantic Canadian solution would involve some pretty hefty infrastructure investment among all participating provinces and their respective power utilities.

That said, I suspect there would be political will for this. It really irks people here that we are importing coal to generate electricity particularly when much of that coal is by way of a country with a very poor human rights record. And green is popular - most consumers would be willing to pay an extra 6 cents/kw if they were assured that it was coming from a renewable source. And I suspect most customers would be willing to pay extra to upgrade the grid to handle an infusion of extra electricity as long as it was presented as a long term investment.

And let's be realistic: Quebec pulled out of the deal in order to save Graham's skin, the "due diligence" excuse is probably crap.

Can you say more about this? There is a regional bias to our news reporting, like everywhere, so to hear another perspective would be helpful. Why, pray tell, would Hydro Quèbec want to save Shawn Graham's skin? Curious to hear your take on this.


There is a regional bias to our news reporting

Thankfully, we have no such problem out West. No bias, we just don;t bother with reporting any Quebec stories as they are just not important, and it's always the same story - give us more money!

...out West. No bias...


Yep, it seems Quèbec sings the same tune most of the time. Then again, western alienation is also a well defined quirk of the Canadian political landscape. Mind you, there isn't a country in the world that doesn't have historical divisions that manifest itself on the map.

Check out the last British election. If it was left up to Scotland, Labour would have won. If it was left up to England alone, the Conservatives would have won handily. The Americans have red and blue states and the wounds of the civil war are not deep below the surface. It seems like the French fight the revolution all over again every time they have a general election.

I have siblings in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Over the course of my life, I've registered a change of address with Canada Post in four provinces (NS, Quebec, BC, & Alberta). I've visited all ten. I've worked for the Department of National Defence on the east coast and the west coast. My lasting dream is one day to see the majesty of the arctic tundra in the cold and dark of winter. And all I can say, IMHO, "I live in the best freak'n country on the face of the planet."

Yep, there is grumbling that happens, but we really don't have much to grumble about.

Beavers rule!!



I think western alienation exists in every country big enough to have a "west". It is the same in the US, in Australia, probably in China. Russia is an exception, there they have Eastern alienation.

I have to confess I have only seen four of ten provinces (the Western ones) in my 11 years in this country, but I have been to both Yellowknife and Whitehorse. Yk in early December is nothing much, other than the spectacular auroras, but then, it's not the real Arctic.
I was in Whitehorse in early October and had the good fortune, through a friend of a friend, to eat caribou stew caught and cooked by a trapper and his wife in their hand built log cabin on the marge of Lake Labarge! Whitehorse is great, and having driven the White Pass to Alaska, I have got the Chilkoot trail penned in as a "must do". The high Arctic would be something else, truly the last frontier.

If Canada isn't the best pace on earth, it;'s damn close, (tied with Australia and New Zealand).

One thing is for sure, all three of these countries will fare well in an energy constrained future - lots of good land, natural resources and not too many people, but well educated ones. And in the case of Aust and NZ, protected from "refugees" by water.

Paul, I'm envious that you've got as far north as Whitehorse and Yellowknife. That's a good start.

The high arctic has always held my fascination for some reason. Perhaps as you say, it is truly the last frontier. Perhaps, too, it is something that can't be controlled - only respected. If you don't play by the rules you die. Franklin and his crew wanted to do it their way and perished. Amundsen took his time to surrender to the terrain and learn from the native Inuit and survived.

One thing is for sure, all three of these countries will fare well in an energy constrained future - lots of good land, natural resources and not too many people, but well educated ones. And in the case of Aust and NZ, protected from "refugees" by water.

Does this mean we'll have to build a fence and send out "Militiamen" to patrol. Except militiamen aren't part of our history so we'll put in Laura Secord's cows instead and call it a day.

So much to think about...


Hi Tom,

Claude has provided us with a good overview of some of the technical challenges. You would need three double circuit 345-kV lines to ferry that much power across our province (or more likely two 500 kVs). Either way, you're looking at a huge capital outlay (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine have very modest bulk power capacity).

I don't imagine Nova Scotia Power would contract for any more than 500 MW; anything beyond that and the stability of our power system would be severely compromised.


Hey Paul,

Kinda figured there must be technical reasons for not going the all Atlantic Canada route, otherwise, it probably would have been tried before now. Thanks to you and Claude for pointing out the logistics.

I learn something new everyday. They have the wherewithal to do marvelous engineering feats with the immense water works of the Ungava / Labrador terrain, but limitations abound with getting the electric juice to markets. I'll know how to answer that question if anyone asks in the future.



There are no technical issues here that can;t be resolved, with enough money.
Given that there are plans to build a $15bn gas pipeline from Inuvik to northern Alberta, for a non renewable resource, I think doing this for a renewable resource, that only increases in value is a much better bet.

If you look at the amount of money Ontario is wasting on feed in tariffs for wind and solar, you could probably build this line.

Ultimately, it boils down to political will. What's needed is someone with a vision.

There are advantages to our dreaming. Never lose the willingness to think outside the box.

And then find somebody with the knack to write a proposal with the right buzz words to the right bureaucrat and you'll be off on your merry way!! ;-)

In the article at the top on books to read on the multiple catastrophes befalling us, I am surprised that the good reverent does not mention that we are, in McKibben's trenchant words, "running Genesis backwards." Even those who know about PO, GW and population crises don't seem to be aware of our all out assault on creation, which for a religious person, at least, should be the greatest of all, I would think.

Are we judged on what we do to ourselves or what we do to the creation that God called "good," last time I looked at that peculiar Book.

People are a creation and just as important as the Earth too.
But, since people wasted resources they will pay the price with less in the future.

But right after all the creating got done, man went and screwed up by disobeying and eating fruit of the tree they were told not to eat. So they got kicked out of Eden, told they had to live off the land, and nothing was the same since.

Whatever you believe we are at the cross roads in time, and we have a few choices to make. Find a good place to plant the flag and hold on, or have your Bug Out Bag ready and always in the GO mode.

Jesus could come back any minute, or wait until there are 4 people left in the only life raft floating. As always you are not promised tomorrow, only that sooner or later you will die( if you of course believe in death, I know a few folks that don't think they ever will do that either).

"Bug Out Bag for sale cheap, used once, only has a few burnt marks and some dried blood on the front pouch, still has parasail folded neatly inside. Buy it now while it's hot......LOL, sorry I needed to laugh."

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

It seems appropriate, then, that officials are imposing a ban on fishing in the Sea of Galilee.

Does anyone know what kind of mine the Russian disaster happened in. None of the articles I googled indicated. Was is coal, or minerals?

MEZHDURECHENSK, Russia - Siberian coal mine disaster. Death toll of 66?

After working in a confined space filled with toxic gases, nothing refreshes like a good smoke.

Rescuers rest outside the Raspadskaya mine in Kemerovo region, May 13, 2010. The search for 24 men still missing after a mine disaster in Siberia that killed at least 66 was halted on Thursday because of fears of new underground blasts, Russia's Emergencies Ministry said. A methane gas blast ripped through the Raspadskaya mine on Saturday night, followed hours later by a stronger explosion that wrecked the main ventilation shaft and badly damaged buildings on the surface...

"A regulatory crackdown on offshore oil drilling after the fatal rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico will delay development of U.S. deposits with billions of barrels of crude, energy producers and analysts said. "

The "Three Mile Island" of oil has occured. It may be 20 years before offshore drilling is resumed. Or when a Republican becomes President.

Opinions vary Cool. My bet is that President Obama will have drilling ops going full forward before too long. Lots of new regs, etc. But the drilling will continue IMHO.

Quite right Rockman. We are going to keep drilling until we suck up or spill the last barrel of oil, kill the last endangered species, melt the last polar ice cap, addict the last human to booze or drugs, etc. Thats why I am hoping they can't stop the leak. The sooner we collapse and die off the better.

SD the GOM oil spill is a speed bump, so don't hold your breath praying for collapse...you won't live that long. This is going to be a long slow crash so enjoy the ride. In the long run the planet will get over the loss of the human species (as well as all of the cute and cuddly species we're taking down with us) so don't get too worked up over it.


The crash may indeed be long and slow,and I personally think long and slow is somewhat more likely than abrupt.

But there are many possible tipping points that could trigger a fast crash,wide scale war probably being the most likely in my personal opinion.

Just reinforces my point regarding AGW and environmentalism when the larger society realizes they are about to be constrained. The mantra will be "burn it all".

If you mean by "before too long" a year or so, I agree , if the leaking well is successfully capped before the Gulf fisheries are ruined.

But if the well cannot be capped for a couple more months, and the spill thereby gets totally out of hand,new drilling may be delayed for a couple of years or even longer.

Just a personal opinion from a long time observer of politicians in general and DC in particular.I used to live close enough to get both the Post and the Times delivered out of DC and read both just about every day for years.

New drilling WILL be resumed,eventually.

It seems to me that the oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems will come down because of financial issues--not directly because of natural decline or other issues that many people often assume. I expect anything connected to these systems--huge wind for example, and solar panels that depend on the grid for backup--will cease to function in the expected manner, at the same time.

The article Gulf Spill Boosts BP, Transocean Debt Costs: Credit Markets (listed above) illustrates one of the ways financial issues can have an impact. Another way this can happen is through higher tax rates, because governments are so strapped for cash, that they think fossil fuels can provide needed funding. Another way is by debt strapped buyers of fuel not being able to pay their bills--think of Greece. Another is through more general financial problems, perhaps caused by international debt defaults.

When we lose our current systems, we will basically need to get along with what energy resources we really have for the long term--locally made and maintained small wind power, locally made and maintained small water power, and anything else that can be maintained with local resources. There are not many planning for this. Everyone thinks that by adding on to the current system, we can make it keep going longer, but I have a hard time seeing this to be the case.

Financial 'issues' , or problems as we used to call them before sanitized Newspeak became the vernacular, are nothing more than failures in the use of money to organize and account for human endeavor. If more money is going toward energy production then it has to be going Somewhere. If not, and it just pours into some static hole never to circulate again, then it is safe to print some more and direct human effort towards more energy production.

IF we had a shortage of labor then we could talk of an economic constraint upon energy production; otherwise it is just a shortfall of organization or initiative. If you have a man and a shovel you have a hole - given motivation. And a place for the hole. I'm worried about an excess of stupidity and a shortage of places. Not 'financial issues'.

Not so. Money is a surrogate for real resources -- labor, land, materials, knowledge, time -- all of which are available in finite amounts. In the real world, if you pay a man to dig a hole in one place, you can't simultaneously pay him to dig another hole somewhere else. Equally, if BP has to sink billions of dollars worth of its resources into cleaning up a mess, it can't simultaneously put those same resources to work drilling new oil wells.

That's the (almost always missed) point made by The Limits to Growth: on a finite planet, once economic growth goes into overshoot, the costs of growth rise faster than the profits, and eventually bring the economy to its knees. Gail is quite correct in suggesting that a rolling collapse of the ways we pay for energy production is one way that might well happen.

Not so. Money is a surrogate for real resources -- labor, land, materials, knowledge, time -- all of which are available in finite amounts. In the real world, if you pay a man to dig a hole in one place, you can't simultaneously pay him to dig another hole somewhere else. Equally, if BP has to sink billions of dollars worth of its resources into cleaning up a mess, it can't simultaneously put those same resources to work drilling new oil wells.

I thinks thats a serious misunderstanding of Petrosaurus's argument. He was clearly separating out physical and financial resources, i.e. he was only having that mythical worker dig one hole at a time (which is much more than zero). Money/finance is really just bits and paper, which translates into some sort of trust that your promise to me will be made good. There are other ways to accomplish the end -getting humans to do useful work, other than the current system. Not saying their are better methods, but just that it is not a law of physics that human economic activity must stop when the current financial system implodes. Most likely once we see how desperate the situation has become we will devise tricks to motivate people to do the work deemed neccessary.

You may be right about BP, perhaps the cleanup will drain them of resources they would have otherwise used for exploartion/production. But, physically I don't think there is very much overlap between those cleaning the spill, and those working on future exploration. So again it becomes a matter of organizing the resources. Again the blow is mainly psychological and political. It will be more difficult to get consensus on letting future offshore contracts than it was prespill. That will probably have a greater effect than the redirected resources.

Even if we don't have our current financial system, it is likely that one can organize local resources and local labor. Hence my statement that systems that can be maintained with local resources and local labor will continue.

But one needs a truly global financial system that works, as we have now, to make products that use materials transported from around the world. This is what we are in danger of losing. Our current system depends on debt -- including debt among nations. This system does not appear to me to be one that can continue for very long, before debt defaults (that come when the world economy is no longer growing quickly, because oil supplies are strained) start causing worldwide financial problems, and lack of trust for making new loans.

International trade has been around for thousands of years, well before global financial system and debt backed currencies. Sure, global capital has increased it, but it is absurd to suggest global trade is only possible with our current system.

The qualification is that there can be global trade, just quite a bit less of it.

Thousands of years ago, traders set out on foot, on camel, or by ship with a load of locally-produced goods. These were traded directly for completely different locally-produced goods. It worked, but only if the trader had something the other party wanted (and vice-versa). Nowadays, ships won't sail -- or even be loaded -- if there is not a guarantee of payment in some currency which is (by a country) a guarantee of payment of something of value. This happened in Fall 2008, and ships sat around with nothing to do because payment wasn't guaranteed.

Defaulting on debt destroys trust, which hinders new debt. So the question remains: can we (either practically or politically) divert enough real resources today towards developing new energy supplies while simultaneously producing more stuff to pay off the current debts? I dunno.

The qualification is that there can be global trade, just quite a bit less of it.

...Nowadays, ships won't sail -- or even be loaded -- if there is not a guarantee of payment in some currency which is (by a country)...

Defaulting on debt destroys trust, which hinders new debt.

Perhaps you are allowing your grasp of alternative possibilities to be clouded by our current reality. Just because our *current* system requires ever-expanding debt and growth in consumption and resource extraction, this does not mean it's the *only* way. I see no good reason why technologically advanced nations with steady-state or declining population/consumption levels cannot work out some kind of arrangement that allows large-scale trade to continue.

I'm actually open to something else. If you see no good reason why there isn't alternative, you must have something in mind. What is it? And at current levels?

Bob - you are quite correct but there is a lot of difference between, say, a fourteenth century camel train plodding from Senegal to Egypt with blocks of salt and returning after 16 months with spices and a bloke working for a supermarket chain in London picking up the phone to Kenya and placing an order for half a tonne of green beans, delivery tomorrow and against a letter of credit issued by the supermarket's AA-rated bank.

The former is a way of life to the merchants (and camels!), the latter is totally dependent on the current financial system (and oil)

EDIT: Joules you must have been typing at the same time as me!!

Else you would have been in HARM's way.

And the system will collapse due to a lack of fresh green beans?? We used to get tea from China to Britain by sailing ship in 3 months, no camels or telephones involved there...

It takes a really distorted perspective to make this global trade collapse argument, people seem to think that everything before 1940 was the Dark Ages.

It's not a case of complete collapse vs. BAU for global trade. But without the same easy credit availability we've had (and increasingly relied on) for the last few decades, global trade will not be as extensive. Unless you think companies are going to just keep making and shipping things, not worrying if they get paid (or if the currency is any good).

And the system will collapse due to a lack of fresh green beans?? We used to get tea from China to Britain by sailing ship in 3 months, no camels or telephones involved there...

I believe it could collapse -- back to a level where it takes three months and a sailing ship to get tea from China to Britain.

"It takes a really distorted perspective to make this global trade collapse argument"

Maybe try to think of it like this: What was trade like for the USSR or Argentina during and after their collapse? What would global trade look like if you had multiple countries on several continents experience similar collapses over a short period of time? What would the global economy look like at this level of international trade?

And, can we service today's global economy with pre-industrial shipping technologies ? Think of the volumes of trade involved now verses then - would those technologies support the volumes and speeds of today's global economy?

And if not, what would the global economy look like with greatly reduced trade between mostly bankrupt nations during the period of time they try to work out a new "Bretton Woods" clusterf@&k ?

My view is distorted too (and admittedly simplistic).
1940 was only 40 years after the turn of the century and the end of the age of exuberance. We are now 70 years after 1940 and magnitudes of populations greater.
Why did we need to expand world trade? I think it was because colonialism had run its course and the next step to exploiting the remaining resources of energy, minerals, land, sea and people was simply to trade for it.

It appears now, that exploitation by means of globalism has all but run its course. What is next? A return to home and gouge all that is remaining? Getting blood from a stone will probably be attempted but realistically a reduction of the need for resources is the only option. Unless you are one of an extremely (fortunate?) few, living off the land is out of the equation, so demand reduction will be achieved by reducing populations. How that comes about is mostly open to the imagination.

"in danger of losing"-----

The rumor on LATOC is pure TINFOIL but very interesting! On Friday night (German time) Angela Merkel will announce a surprise switch back to the D. Mark. A bank employee at Deutsche Bank has seen the piles of new currency and even took pictures.

So the global financial system might come to a halt sooner than anticipated!

Countries will draw financially into their borders and cease to range broadly around the world looking for debt financing, since that is getting tougher and tougher to get anyway.

I am not sure the Germans will really ditch the Euro today but they might.

Yes so. Money is a human construct. Inasmuch as we've made it a surrogate, it is not labor or land or materials or knowledge or anyThing else. Whose real world are you referring to? At the moment we have millions unemployed or underemployed but they are actually just underorganized.

I stand by everything I wrote. I disagree with Gail, assuming that's permissable. It won't necessarily be a rolling collapse of the way we pay but a rolling collapse of the organization of labor. The 'way we pay' is merely an arbitrary but highly entrenched form of organization. If we were a hunt and gather tribal organization the same sort of shortfall of resources could occur with no economic system whatsoever. I refuse to hide behind economic reasons for a failure of human organization and initiative.

Sure, eventually overshoot will make us collapse but where are those costs that you refer to going? Into a hole? If we wanted to drill twice as many or ten times as many wells the human labor is definitely available amongst the vast numbers of under or unemployed not to mention those making cheap crap t fall apart and be replaced constantly. When we run out of places to dig the hole you'll be vindicated I suppose but as long as fossil energy frees up the majority of humanity to do frivolous things there will be no justifiable shortage of labor. How soon we forget the second WW in which human initiative went to blowing up and disposing of a large percentage of human endeavor. We're a long way from that sort of organization currently. Currently we have an arbitrary 'shortage of men'; soon we'll have an enforced 'shortage of places'. We can organize the former but will have to adapt to the latter.

Sorry for the rant but I disagree with both of you. You've made assumptions about arbitrary constructs. We have made money a surrogate for real resources; the 'is' is an error. Money is whatever we choose to make of it. Lately, a mockery.

"We have made money a surrogate for real resources"

We have made money a surrogate for LIFE. Millions die every year simply because they lack it.

IMO we will use money as a way of "managing" dieoff... all the way down.

I believe Petrosaurus is right in principle;there are other ways to induce or motivate people to work than thru the use of pieces of paper and electrons substituted even for the paper.Of course real work generally requires real inputs in the way of raw materials and energy,but assuming the NECESSITY of money is a mistake.

I don't believe the fractional reserve banking system was in use when the Egyptians built the pyramids.

I am not aware of any good ( irrefutable) evidence to the effect that money is essential to a successful economy.

Otoh, Gail and JMG are correct in any realistic discussion of the world economy AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS.

Just because there are probably other ways to organize an economic system does not mean a viable transition pathway exists between our current money based organizational model and some other model.

Even if such a pathway were proven to exist,there aren't enough cowboys to force all us cows to try it on for size.

Furthermore other organizational models might not work as well as the current money based model.The odds seem to me rather high that they would not;but some of them might be more stable, especially over the long run.

When money is useful it is worthless in and of itself. It is a proxy for the commerce and trade that it leverages. It is a good tool like a hammer is a good tool.

When money becomes a proxy for a good or intrinsically valuable it becomes very dangerous and destructive. Because it is desireable it is hoarded. Commerce evaporates along with trust as all are suspected of being money thieves ... which they probably are!

The hoarding process is in its beginning but already well established. Who has currency? The correct answer is 'few'.

Petrosaurus, in a world of pure abstraction you're quite right; in the real world you're quite wrong. A review of the history of the Great Depression might be in order, as a reminder of just how concrete the apparently arbitrary effects of finance can get. Sure, in a perfect world it would be possible to swap out whatever financial system we happen to have for one that does a better job of meeting the needs of the moment; try actually doing it sometime.

The current system of finance, flawed as it is, has evolved as it has because it more or less effectively reflects and manages the flows of resources, goods and services in an expanding industrial economy. (The fact that we no longer have an expanding economy adds to the problem, of course, but how many people are willing to recognize that yet?) You can still fairly often use money as a surrogate for difficult-to-figure measurements such as EROEI -- if an energy resource consistently fails to break even financially, for instance, you can be tolerably sure that there's something very wrong with claims that it has abundant net energy.

In the same way, we have abundant labor only if labor is treated as a pure abstraction, without reference to training, equipment, and everything else needed to make it function in a real world context -- all of which costs. Equally, we have abundant energy only if energy is treated as a pure abstraction, without reference to the many other demands competing for the supply, among many other things. Most other things, we don't have in abundance even in an abstract sense. Thus Gail's quite right; troubles in the financial world -- which mirror troubles in the real world of resources, goods and services, and also impose hard limits of their own just as effectively as they did in 1929 -- may well turn into the limiting factor that cripples our society's ability to keep producing energy at anything like its current rate.


Good point about abstraction v. training, equipment, and etc.

Or, to quote you:

"In the real world, if you pay a man to dig a hole in one place, you can't simultaneously pay him to dig another hole somewhere else."

Put it this way:

If you pay a machine in machine food (oil) to do a machine-task, you can't simultaneously pay "it" to do the same machine-task double-quick. Or, in two different places at once.

That said, it seems that people can greatly benefit from organization, because they're going to be directing their energies toward survival, anyhow. (Well, maybe not, actually.) They are going to wish they had a way to direct their energies toward survival.

There may be some room for innovation there.

As far as building houses is concerned, you can build houses that don't use strap on solar that might last a day or 10 years. You can build a house that needs very little energy use besides a small wood stove for heat if needed. That depends on the climate in which you build your house. We have grown so used to having AC and Lights at night at the flip of a switch, we don't think about not having them in a design anymore.

Lots of little tricks of the trade while designing a living space that don't need modern methods to be built. After all Concrete was used in Roman times, before rebar.

No I can't build you a 20 story apartment complex with everyone getting all the care of something that you see in the big cities of today. But I can design a nice home out of the weather for a family.

We will slip and slide down the slope and where we land no body knows, but some one is liable to get out of this crash in one piece.

When It comes to it, I'll set my hammock up and camp out under the trees, or build a nice roof for the rainy days. Got my house plans in my notebook and will get to them when need be.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, not BAU.

The financial system is a problem. Perhaps the most interesting analysis of the problem is made by marxists, who identify an inevitable tendency within capitalist economies towards financial crises, with attendant collateral damage. Irrespective of resource constraints or environmental degradation.

But I don't share your alarm. The financial system is entirely a human construct. Unlike hydrocarbons, it's not subject to the irrevocability of depletion.

If you are anticipating a large, difficult crisis because of declining hydrocarbon supply, you should also anticipate the opportunity that crises present to change human made systems. And to take into account the enormous intellectual resources at the disposition of the elites who run the world.

Gail -

If indeed there is a distinct possibility that 'oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy systems will come down because of financial issues', then in your opinion does it also follow that the US military-industrial complex, our various overseas military adventures, and the whole US security apparatus (the total sum of which is now pushing one trillion dollars annually) will be equally vulnerable to coming down because of financial issues?

Or is it more realistic to assume that no matter how bad things get financially, US military/security spending will continue as is or even increase, regardless of where and from whom the money must be sucked out of?

I don't know about you, but I have a very hard time picturing the bought and paid-for US congress unanimously saying, "We're in very deep financial doo-doo this year, so lets cut $200 billion or so out of the defense budget and immediately withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., .... and while we're at it, sorry Israel, it's been kinda tough lately so you won't be getting your customary $3 billion this year."

So, I guess $100 million wind farm will not be financially viable, yet the latest military aircraft costing $100 million a copy is no problemo.

"Another way is by debt strapped buyers of fuel not being able to pay their bills--think of Greece"

Or think of 'Detroit' or 'Flint, Michigan.'

What happens when your community is full of consumers who cannot pay for the service? How does the utility pay it's commercial suppliers?

How long before the municipal utility is forced to shut down service to parts of the city, or begins rolling brown/blackouts?

I know our local municipal utility was in a panic during the 08/09 financial crisis because of the incredible decline in paying customers.

From the linked article:

Procter & Gamble Co., the world's largest consumer products company,
raised 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) from its first Japanese currency
bond sale in a decade.

I wonder if that means P and G thinks there will be lots of inflation in Japan....

EVERYTHING is dependent on energy. That's why it will be the LAST thing to fall apart. Energy production is NOT dependent on the financial system so much as the financial system is dependent on energy production.

Energy will command a price sufficient that producers of energy will be able to requisition from the rest of the economy the necessary resources by pricing other energy users out of the market for those resources as long as the net energy produced is sufficiently positive. Sufficiently positive probably means that it is more productive ( i.e. produces more entropy as stuff degrades ) than alternative uses for the energy inputs to the energy production.

At peak energy, the economy shrinks. As a percentage of the total economy, energy production increases even as total energy production decreases. As long as energy dependent persuits are more productive than less energy dependent persuits then they continue.

And peak energy is only a local peak. After peak, there is a trough where alternative energy production starts the economy ( and total energy production ) growing again, though it may be years after the peak in energy. Maybe alternative energy grows so fast that there is never a peak in energy at all, but only a slowdown in the rate of growth and an inflection point instead of a trough. I don't think that will happen, but it would be nice.

Most of the resources we need are already mined and available and recyclable almost indefinitely, especially with sufficiently high prices. Maybe it's not economically feasable to extract aluminum from bauxite using solar electricity. So what? You can melt and reuse existing aluminum. As aluminum becomes more expensive it is diverted from being used in soda cans to more productive uses. And the rich still can afford cans of soda ( or plastic bottles of soda ) the rest of us make do with the drinking fountain. The only thing that falls apart is the marginal stuff, and the standards of living of the marginal ( i.e. poor ) people.

My town dump makes me recycle. What a farce. Yes it saves the town money, but I'm sure what I earn my town working for the town dump ( by sorting my recyclables at home ) is far less per hour than minimum wage. I'm thinking - What the heck am I going to mine for my living if the landfill doesn't have any of the good stuff in it because the town wanted to force it's citizens to recycle when it wasn't worthwhile? Sheesh! When steel cans are worth money, then I'll sort trash all day! Ok, not me, but my children, and theirs, then again, maybe me... Our ancestors will curse us for depriving them even of decent trash to mine. They'll be like: What were they, frikken sadists?

As for economies of scale, consolidation of competing identical persuits should prevent 'collapses' on that front. X is done at huge scale Y. But it is done in 12 different places. So six shut down because demand shrinks. Six remain, and the demand they serve is tougher to destroy.

What ticks me off - as an engineer - is that the MSM is calling the BOP problem an "equipment failure."

IT WAS NOT AN "EQUIPMENT FAILURE" because the contraption that was put in place was never designed to prevent blow-outs!

The correct equipment - designed to act TOGETHER as a BOP - was never installed completely.

So the contraption that was installed worked perfectly, IT DID NOTHING TO STOP A BO.

The problem - IMHO - was an installation screw up!

Caught this story a few days ago.

The study from Iowa State University looked at what would happen if farmers in six Midwestern states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — raised 28 crops in quantities large enough to meet local demand. It found that if an ample supply of produce could be grown regionally, it would spur $882 million in sales, more than 9,300 jobs and about $395 million in labor income.

Growing enough food to meet regional demand also wouldn't take much land, Miller said: "That's one of the wild things about it — you can grow a lot on a few number of acres. Anyone who has a garden knows this."

How few acres? One of Iowa's 99 counties could meet the demand for all six states, said Rich Pirog, associate director for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State


I would assume that a few pluses/minuses vs growing out west. One is moisture/pests/disease. The midwest has an abundance of all three in the spring/summer.

I drive past acres and acres of cornfields thinking of the potential for "REAL" food (not lab created corn/soybeans) that could be grown in huge quantities.

Brassica oleracea is one of my favorite species, of them I like Kale the best. Everytime I see someone using them in a landscaping project I want to yell, "harvest those and eat them!"

I did wonder about Turnips and green peas in their list.

Then again while at the local Krogers I saw several veggies just wasting away on the shelves, because few people know what they are and how to eat them. Jicama was one that I find almost all the time and they are wasting away on the racks slowly going bad. I am trying to grow them this year, in several different places and even sharing them with a fellow gardener. It is warm enough here and we have a long enough season.

We have already eaten fresh green beans out of the garden. But the weather has been a mite odd lately, unpredictable to say the least.

Now they have to get the farms to growing them and maybe spread it out a little so if a nasty bit of weather got them they'd not loose all the crops if one county got hit.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

It's excellent news that the University of Iowa is publicly discussing growing more fruits and vegetables locally. That was heresy even a couple of years ago.

All those farms, which used to be more smaller farms, used to have gardens and at a minimum chickens and a couple of pigs. There are plenty of people still alive in Iowa who remember when Iowa fed Iowa as well as exporting grain.

Just think, local food processing, jobs, some small towns revived like Rip Van Winkle. Perhaps even farmers questioning what they are spraying on the commodity crops, if it is certain to blow back onto the broccoli that they planned to eat for dinner.

A lot of changes might come with a local carrot.

I think this study is a step in the right direction but I think the authors are not seriously considering the logistics of this transition. I think their plans depend too much on current BAU.

In this study, did the authors give serious consideration to the effect of either 1) declining availability of affordable fossil fuels, and/or 2) global economic instability?

But Miller, at the University of Wisconsin, was optimistic that moving toward a regionalized food system made sense, especially as gas prices make it more costly to truck a peach or pear across the country.

And how optimistic is Miller that his "regionalized food system" will operate as planned? Will the regional farms get sufficient fuel to run their equipment and sufficient industrial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to maintain yields? Will the regions the farms serve be able to afford the produce? How much produce would have to leave the region to pay for external resources like petroleum etc?

He saw the best opportunities near metropolitan areas where there's demand for locally grown food and farmers would have to move their food only short distances.

How did it work out for the farms near metropolitan areas in the USSR when it collapsed? During collapse, how do the people in the cities fair, vs the rural folk - who gets the resources from whatever government is in power?

Will the regional farms get sufficient fuel to run their equipment and sufficient industrial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to maintain yields?

In a localized, smaller communities, energy constrained world, there is nothing but local/regional. As for the assumption you need chem ferts to grow food, that's just so much propaganda.


Can't think of a better way to deal with a jobless economy than to give people a 0.5 to 5 acres to house themselves and grow food.

We eat 160 - 200 lbs (200 allowing for over-eating) of veggies (and fruits?) per person/yr. There are people growing 6k lbs. on 1/10 acre. That's enough for 30 people.


"In localized, smaller communities"

They are talking about an entire "region" including the giant metro areas.

"assumption you need chem ferts"

The study assumes BAU for industrial farming. I won't waste time arguing production of "organic vs industrial" ag.

I do agree completely with you that the fastest way to full employment will be collapse. Maybe we'll return to a nation where Farmers are the majority again.

Given Russia had a die-off and Cuba didn't, suggest you check out what Cuba's response was. They lost about 20 lbs./person for while, but no die off.

Hint: localized food production.


I don't think Cuba is really a good comparison. They are about the size of Pennsylvania, with about the same population. Many parts of the world have a much higher population density. Also, they are tropical. They can grow food all year around. And perhaps most importantly...they could not provide all the food they needed themselves. They imported staples (rice and beans), and got some international aid.

I remember Orlov (Reinventing Collapse) saying they ate imported rice, locally-caught fish, and some local veggie for most of the one summer he spent in the post-collapse Russia.

I wonder who will be the "lender of last resort" if multiple industrial countries collapse over a short time frame.

Maybe the cities will empty out and provide the manual labor for the farms in the "region" and each "region" of the country will cooperate with eachother.

No "Hunger Games" here in the North America.

The House that could of had a solar roof on it but the locals didn't want it to ruin their resale values, such a world we live in.

Why not make a law, that if you don't have solar on the roof or yard you can't sell the house? If you have not got a rain catchment system and storage tanks in the yard or house, you can't sell it. Where are people getting the idea it'll be easy to sell the old energy wasting houses in a few years?

I know the legal issue is I signed a piece of paper when I moved into the area, that I had to have 20,000 sqft of wastful space and a pool out back all in my design plan first in order to build... ARGH! I wonder if the documents allow the owner to ask his nieghbors to cough up the difference if his house is underwater in value when he tries to sell it? After all that means the prices are ruined in the area.

I only wish I had bought that land back in 1984, 40 arces in the wilds of North Arkansas.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, where homes have to be free of the grid if possible.

Setting minimum requirements in energy efficiency, sustainability, etc. for sale is quite easy - although unpopular. Same with cars, you can't sell it if it doesn't meet a minimum standard.

Could I suggest that in addition, you rescind any such HA order, ban them in future, and ban anyone in a HA that has ever taken an anti-sustainability decision from ever taking part in a HA again.

Kerry-Lieberman doesn't seem to be a very popular, or maybe even, a very good climate change bill. It lost its Republican co-sponsor, seems to be open to market manipulation (as happened in Europe) and is pushing offshore oil exploration at a sensitive time where the popularity of offshore oil is at a (temporary) low.

Lost in all of this, I have yet to see much discussion of the proposed Cantwell-Collins bill. Instead of cap and trade, the idea is to to cap/charge the producers of the carbon, and then rebate 75% of the money raised back to taxpayers in the form of dividend checks. Basically, a simple idea that results in the highest polluters/carbon users will in effect be paying the lowest polluters/carbon users. Everyone gets a nice little check back at the end of every year, and those who didn't have a hand in any of the creation of the carbon actually make money on the deal. Seems like a better approach to me.


I would agree that the Cantwell bill is a much better and stronger approach than Kerry's. It's simplicity, for starters, is refreshing. And it's elimination of Wall Street manipulation. Do you know if it addresses "outsourced carbon" via tariffs? I've not seen that addressed in the Cantwell bill.

I doubt Cantwell would prove any more popular, and that Kerry's offered a big bone for offshore drilling to continue in it's state control and $ rebated back. Plus 50% favor more offshore drilling as it is today, according to poll.

Kerry-Lieberman doesn't seem to be a very popular, or maybe even, a very good climate change bill.

I would expect that before even learning of its details. Kerry was informed of Diebold voter fraud in Ohio and New Mexico on the night of the 04 election, but to Edwards dismay simply folding up like a lawn chair without any demand for a recount in those two states. Lieberman was for reducing the eligibility age for medicare in 2000, but then suddenly and without any explanation for the change of position was against it in 2010. Kerry made a huge mistake with his stupid soldiers joke, and Lieberman is the only politician to successfully make the Jekyll and Hyde transformation from the far left to the far right. Trying to figure either one of them out boggle's the mind, so I am certain any bill these two put together will have obvious problems.

Christopher Hitchens is, to put it mildly, a straight shooter who calls them like he sees them, and he went to Ohio to investigate allegations of 2004 election fraud in the Ohio. He was skeptical going in, but came away convinced that the election had been stolen. But it's water under the bridge now.

As Tom Brokaw said about the 2008 presidential election, which we can now extend to any elected position in developed countries, "The winner should demand an immediate recount."

"Don't tazer me, Dude-"

(At least U.S. Sen. A. Specter (R-to-D - PA) stopped security guards from removing a rowdy attendee from one of his meetings. Got to give the Senator from Pennsylvania credit for being civil.)

Re: The Kerry-Lieberman Climate and Energy Bill: Is it a 'disaster' or a 'jumpstart'?

Here's a story about the Bill from today's the NYT.

Buried in the story is a link to the text of the Bill (PDF warning, 987 pages!). There is also a link to a summary of the Bill.

Here's a key point from the Summary which illustrates the basic flaw with the plan:

Introductory floor and ceiling prices are set at $12 (increasing at 3 percent over inflation annually) and $25 (increasing at 5 percent over inflation annually), respectively.

It may be expected that increasing prices for energy and the the items produced by using that energy will rise after Peak Oil, the inflation adjustment will cause these charges to increase faster. This represents positive feedback, which is inherently unstable. Just like the situation last Thursday on the world markets, any positive feedback can result in major dislocations.

E. Swanson

Just like the situation last Thursday on the world markets, any positive feedback can result in major dislocations.

Only if the sum of positive feedbacks minus any negative feedbacks is greater than unity (or close to it). Also, we have to recognize that the collection of the fees doesn't destroy money -rather it redeploys it. The net cost to the system comes about because of the change in incentives. That probably means more non fossil energy on the margin (which presumably is more expensive, otherwise we would be building it today). But that is a second order effect, not a first order effect. Of course in political debate, don't expect logical reasoning to prevail (or even be seen). The anti's will take the maximum concievable estimation of cost, and ignore all benefits and recipients of transfers, and claim some enormous cost that has no bearing to reality. That, unfortunately has been how the game is played.

Re: The Kerry-Lieberman Climate and Energy Bill: Is it a 'disaster' or a 'jumpstart'?

Or is it just a Deck Chair being shuffled about in desperation?

Far too little, far too late? Completely Irrelevant? A distraction at best?

"Pay no attention to national politicians, they are a colossal distraction" (paraphrase Orlov)

Dude, tazer the economy....

Tazar the entire Washington DC area when Congress is in full session, when all of the Wall Street Pigs are present to testify, when all of the Federal Reserve Chairpeople are present for the festivities, when all the special interests gorillas are gathered, and when the President is in the White House chain smoking his last cigarette.

Next stop for the Tazers, state capitals around the nation... ;)

"I'm melting... Oh what a world, what a world..."

Sounds Like you need some time with a punching bag....

LOL. I think I need more time in the garden.

delete repeat

When frustrated, go down to your local congressional office and tell the attendant what you have a problem with. Usually they'll help you write up a letter to your congress-person and they'll e-mail it off for you to the right address.

I've done it and have always gotten a reply (most of them to my satisfaction).

Honestly, I think Orlov is correct that the national politicians (as well as most state and local politicians) are "a colossal distraction" and that giving them attention only makes it worse.

A waste of paper. The CO2 'commitment' is a 3.3% reduction in CO2, which thanks to the tanking of the US economy they virtually already have. Thus they are doing sweet-FA between now and 2020.

Nope, we will only see movement when countries start erecting import tariffs on exports from polluting countries such as the US and China.


The UK's trade deficit with the rest of the world widened sharply in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The gap rose to £3.7bn ($5.5bn) in March from £2.2bn in February ($3bn).

Economic experts expressed concern over the news.


Vicky Redwood, economist at Capital Economics, said the numbers were bad for the future of the economy: "Recent events in the euro-zone - the UK's biggest trading partner - clearly cast a shadow over the longer-term prospects for UK exporters

Most of the heavy industry was sucked out of Britain sometime ago. Only recently the country's oldest and largest steel mill closed down because it was cheaper to make steel in India - and not just because of wages.

Britain has no iron-ore. In fact we have bugger all of any 'primary resources'. All most all manufacturing which produces tangible goods has to first of all import the raw materials (or semi-processed inputs). The margin on 'value added' is thus squeezed when the currency is weak.... but a weak pound is supposedly good for exports. Net effect? Hardly anything to the wider economy.

I have lost count of the number of sleepless nights I have suffered over the last few years worrying about how Britain is going to pay its way in the world. From these figures, and given the relative weakness of the pound already, it appears that others are just as concerned.

I do not enjoy saying this but in all honesty I think the British Population will follow the "Reindeer of St. Matthew Island" model.

Or move over here to Australia ... which I suggest is a slightly better fate.

I think I'd pick Canada over Australia. I fear water is going to be a big problem in Australia. While Canada ranks in the top three in the world when it comes to fresh water supplies. They might actually benefit from climate change. Plus they've got all that oil.

There are the obnoxious neighbors to the south, of course, but you can't have everything...

Too cold in Canuckostan, and the accent is funny. I think New Zealand is better than both ... but you are definitely at the very furry end of English down there.

Hey Cargill,

Too cold in Canuckostan?... you haven't lived til you've felt your lungs burn breathing in air at -40 degrees. Or felt the pleasure of spitting and watching it freeze before hitting the ground.

Listen mate, our accents may be funny, eh, but at least in Canuckostan we use English words and don't make them up as we go. Btw, what the hell is vegemite? ... or a jumbuck for that matter?

NZ is nice. But arent't they a bit like Japan... waiting for the big one? Alas, too many earthquakes.

This pursuit of paradise is tricky business.

Too cold in Canuckostan

But for how much longer? ;-)

Leanan, you got me thinking, where are the conspiracy theorists on this one?

Canuckostan is getting warmer. It has the tar sands spewing out lots of carbon. The leaders talk protocols and emission targets but never get anywhere near meeting them. hmmmmm....

Momma never said it would be easy to take over the world, sigh... ;-)

LMAO - That is a classic.

Those evil genius Canuck stoners did it!!! No housing bubble in Canuckostan after all - I bet they even have zoning laws ready to go for the future beach-front property on the artic circle ;)

Russia has actually said that global warming would benefit them, so what's the big deal. They took it back when the rest of the world got upset.

But did they really take it back or did they take it back only for public consumption ...?

Water has always been a problem in Australia, but people have adapted - Australia is a very water efficient place. But urban water is dependent on energy for pumping and purification, as it is in all major cities.

Water will constrain Australia to some extent. For Canada, those neighbours to the south (who also have their own water problems) are, potentially, a much bigger, and harder to solve, problem

The New Sheriffs of Wall Street

A few weeks back, at an event to celebrate the role of women in finance, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tried to get things started with a joke. He said he had recently come across a headline that asked, "What If Women Ran Wall Street?" "Now that's an excellent question, but it's kind of a low bar," Geithner continued, deadpan amid rising laughter. "How, you might ask, could women not have done better?"

It is rarely noted that the financial wreckage littering our world is the creation, almost exclusively, of men, not women. And no wonder: to this day, each of the large banks, from Citigroup to Goldman Sachs, employs fewer than a handful of women in senior positions, and only 3% of Fortune 500 companies have a woman as CEO. Embarrassing tales of a testosterone-filled trading culture tumbled out of the what-went-wrong probes as the Great Recession took hold.

I think it is irrelevant whether men or women are "running the system", they are equally capable of success - or failure.

One of the key architects of the complex credit derivatives that lead to the financial meltdown was the Chief Financial Officer of JP Morgan: Blythe Masters. No testosterone there! You can construe that in various ways...but I would lay the blame on the system, not the particular brand of hormones.

Of course it's apples & oranges, but men and women are equally capable of murder, but for a given murder, there is about a ten to one probability that the perpetrator was male.

I wonder how much of this difference in men's wiring affects their decisions in the financial arena. . .

In any case, in a variation on Survival of the Fittest, I wonder if we might see more emphasis on female dominated financial firms. As the Treasury Secretary implied, how could they do worse?

And of course testosterone is not a male only hormone.

On average, an adult human male body produces about ten times more testosterone than an adult human female body, but females are, from a behavioral perspective (rather than from an anatomical or biological perspective), more sensitive to the hormone.[5] However, the overall ranges for male and female are very wide, such that the ranges actually overlap at the low end and high end respectively.


Im not sure about that WT. I vaguely recall being "shot down" by many women in my youth.

As you know, at Texas A&M in the Seventies, there were no ugly women, it's just that some were better looking than others.*

*Okay, I admit I stole the line from Heinlein

Women! You have no concept of the depth of male simplicity. And until you do, our world is doomed

we've made a testosterone-sodden pig's ear of just about everything: politics, the economy, religion, the environment ... you name it, it's in a gigantic man-wrought mess. The world's been one big dick-swinging contest, and we've caught our collective glans in a nearby desk fan

As the Treasury Secretary implied, how could they do worse?

Well, despite the odds, it was a woman who pioneered credit derivatives.

How about - "if we had more women running oil companies, would we have less people killed and less pollution?"

It's just a dumb question. But as you say, a lot of men are dumb.

To again paraphrase the Treasury Secretary, at least regarding BP, it would be hard for them to do worse.

"New Sheriffs" my arse.

FDIC Chair Sheila Bair and SEC Chief Mary Schapiro are "captured" lap dogs and should be subject to criminal and civil investigations for their failure to do their jobs.

TARP Overseer Eliabeth Warren is the only "sheriff" of the three. Elizabeth Warren for President in 2012 (or at least as Treasurer).

And I'll nominate Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times as her vice presidential candidate.

-- Jon


And add Janet Tavakoli.

NOW we have three female sheriffs.

Time magazine should consider our three and also consider doing an expose' on the criminally incompetent lap dogs Bair and Schapiro.

Maybe the editors at Time need to watch the following:

The Withering Watchdog, Part Two: Untold Stories of the Investigative Reporting Crisis in America

The crisis is leaving Americans in the dark about issues that could affect how they protect their health, care for their families, govern themselves and maintain their livelihoods.


Gillian Tett. Soft-spoken but states the obvious. I was at one of her lecturers; I left impressed. Might make a good regulator.

Brookesly Born for the Supreme Court too!
And what was the name of the applied math Ph.D who took on Larry Summers at Harvard about his financial decisions for the university? Put her in charge of something too!

Technicians lower the 100-ton containment dome to the sea bed on May 7, 2010 as part of an effort to contain the spill from the Deepwater Horizon well in this video image released to Reuters on May 13, 2010. REUTERS / Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center / Handout

Yahoo: Gulf Coast Oil Spill Gallery

Here's the video: Long-term effects on Gulf sea life unknown (containment box clip starts at 00:30).

BP to try smaller pipe to stem Gulf oil gusher

HAMMOND, La. — BP officials say they have decided to first try sucking oil away from the gushing Gulf well with a tube that will be inserted into the jagged pipe leaking on the seafloor.

Company spokesman Bill Salvin said BP hopes to start moving the 6-inch tube into the leaking 21-inch pipe — known as the riser — on Thursday night. The smaller tube will be surrounded by a stopper to keep oil from leaking into the sea.


Just a nice home away from home, just what the Peak Oil Doctor ordered. Now all I need to do is convince the bank I can afford to print my own money to pay for it.

I know I'll sell stocks in a wind farm off the coast of Greenland.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, even if houses have to be smaller than the one above.

Re: A Desire Named Streetcars


Some people in D.C. are fighting the streetcar plan, because overhead wires will interfere with the view of various monuments.

You can have power lines buried in an upside-down "T" slot.

... ot two seperate slots.

For streetcars, expensive, complicated, and finicky. (Older variations were also dangerous.) Probably workable in a place where it never rains or snows. In January in DC the thing would become stuffed with salty ice - not good for electrical gear - and go out of service for who knows how long.

This is one of those many cases where we need simply to shove the NIMBYs out of the way, preferably as far out of the way as possible. It's not "democracy" in any useful sense to give every last petty no-account two-bit nebbish full veto power over every conceivable action.

wonder if something analogous happened on Easter Island too?

Here in Melbourne, we have a large, and long-established, street-car (tram) system ... the overhead wires are a dreadful clutter, and a blot on the streetscape indeed, but we all live with it. Getting power to them some other way would be very desirable - but it's hard to think of a safe and robust way to do it.

Melbourne Tram

Yes, the wires are an eyesore, but the trams are quaint. There has to be SOME compensation for those poor souls who have to live in Melbourne instead of Sydney :-)

BP says will deploy small dome in next few days -- ‘We don't have a definitive date’

BP Plc will deploy a small containment dome to try to trap oil from a blown-out undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico in the "next couple of days," a company spokesman said on Thursday.

Earlier, the BP spokesman had told Reuters the metal dome would be deployed next week.

We've heard this from SkyTruth, and now NPR is confirming:

NPR: Gulf oil spill more than 10X greater than thought

NPR has learned that much more oil, 70,000 barrels a day or more than ten times the official estimate, is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon pipe, based on scientific analysis of the video released Wednesday.

Good catch Barrett808!

The full NPR Article
just came up.

The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to about 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day.

Could this partly be sand cut at work too?

For comparison, here's the SkyTruth analysis from May 9th:

BP / Gulf Oil Spill - How Big Is It?

Quite a lot bigger than the estimate being uncritically quoted throughout the media of 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) per day. That was the last "official" estimate made by NOAA and accepted by the Coast Guard back on April 29 (see timeline below). Before that, the Coast Guard estimates ranged from 336,000 gallons (8,000 barrels) per day, to zero, to 42,000 gallons (1,000 barrels) per day. None of these estimates has been publicly explained or substantiated. And on May 1, the Coast Guard and NOAA stopped trying to estimate the spill rate, with Admiral Thad Allen saying, "Any exact estimate is probably impossible at this time."

But the media continues to report that oil is leaking into the Gulf at 5,000 barrels per day. At SkyTruth we estimate the spill rate is closer to 1.1 million gallons (26,500 barrels) per day, based on the size of the slick on satellite images and Coast Guard maps, and thickness estimates derived from visual descriptions of the slick. That puts us at a total spill of 21 million gallons so far. ...

Philips’ new LED light bulb to make incandescent bulbs obsolete

Looks like a nice bulb, wonder what the price will be?

Got My new energy star refrigerator couple weeks ago(no thanks to Florida's rebate program). I was astounded to find 2 obsolete 40W incandescent bulbs inside. I replaced them with 2 LED bulbs and what a nice difference. The instant on, brilliant bluish/white light still yells "new refrigerator" every time I open the door.

LED's are a natural for refrigerators.


Turnbull FL, what an excellent observation! Once more we see the many, many little places where we waste energy and it does no one any good! Each unit may not make much difference, but the difference at the margins could be huge, and all the little improvements add up...


Hi Paul,

They're a good fit in this type of application, but I'm not sure the economics are there quite yet. I assume one 40-watt incandescent illuminates your refrigerator compartment and the other the freezer. If the refrigerator door is opened twenty-five times a day for an average of 10 seconds per opening that works out to be just over 4 minutes a day or approximately 25 hours per year. That's about 1 kWh/year in lighting load and perhaps an additional 0.3 kWh/year in refrigeration. 1.3 kWh x $0.12 suggests an operating cost of 15 to 16-cents per year. If we assume the door is opened fifty times a day and is left open an average of 30 seconds at a time -- some 25 minutes a day or 152 hours per year -- you're looking at 6.0 kWh/year in lighting load and perhaps an additional 2.0 kWh/year in refrigeration. At $0.12 per kWh, the annual operating cost under this extreme scenario is still less than a dollar. [And if your refrigerator door is left open an average of 25 minutes a day, the operating cost of the light bulb is likely the least of your worries.]


Hi Halifax,

Both bulbs are in the Refrig section. No light in the freezer, have never seen a freezer with lights in it, incandescents probably wouldn't last long.

At $6 each (on sale) not a money saver for sure, but they sure change the character of the refrigerator.


Hi Paul,

Thanks for clarifying this. Our refrigerator and freezer compartment are each fitted with a single E27 incandescent socket. I replaced both with a 25-watt halogen lamp which is more than adequate in terms of light output. Incandescent and halogen lamp life is not adversely impacted by cold; filament shock [vibration] from repeated opening and closing of doors would be more of a concern, but any degradation in service life would be very modest (particularly in the case of appliance lamps which have additional filament supports).


When I said it in the past, it sounded to many like madness...,

Now, "Guggenheim's Minerd Sees Euro Falling Lower Than $1.10", and even possibly to below parity with the U.S. dollar,


In what Scott Minerd sees as "the anti-currency" period, money is now being used to buy art, collectables and gold and lo and behold, dollars, seemingly the only safe haven to many around the world.

Other bits of shocking news, (that is, shocking if you don't read my posts) is that "China is showing signs of weakness" and the bloom seems to have gone off the industrial commodities and industrial metals boom.

IF we assume that Minard is correct, and hard assets are hot and currency and paper wealth is not, where is the next recovery coming?

You got it...land and real estate...but here is the rub...it will have to be, like the art that is drawing record bids, of the absolute HIGHEST quality and in near perfect locations...it will be the blue chip stuff that in all catagories that will be most sought after and it will take a discerning eye to find and recognize it.