Drumbeat: May 29, 2010

UPDATE 1-BP assessing whether to continue well 'top kill'

BP Plc's (BP.L) (BP.N) "top kill" has not stopped a Gulf of Mexico oil leak and the company is assessing whether to continue or move on to something else, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said on Saturday.

"I don't think the amount of oil coming out has changed," he said at a news conference at Fourchon Beach, Louisiana. "Just by watching it, we don't believe it's changed."

The live feed of the leak, available on BP's website, showed preparations on Saturday morning for BP's next step. An underwater robot gripped a saw near the bent and leaking pipe atop a failed blowout preventer, where BP aims to slice off the pipe and place a cap and seal over the opening.

That operation is known as the lower marine riser package cap and Suttles confirmed that BP had been preparing for that step "all along."

Parish official to Obama: Stop moratorium on drilling

A Gulf Coast official is pleading with President Barack Obama to scrap the moratorium on new oil drilling and exploration as the investigation of the massive oil spill continues, saying the economic impact to her Louisiana parish would be too much to bear.

Charlotte Randolph, president of LaFourche Parish, said she spoke to Obama in person during his visit to the oil-stricken region Friday.

"I expressed to the president that we are dying because of the oil spill, but if he allows this suspension to happen it will kill us," she told reporters Saturday, noting that her parish has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

BP readies second BOP at Macondo

BP has stopped drilling one of the relief wells to intercept the blown out Macondo bore so it can ready the rig's blowout preventer (BOP) to go on top of the crippled Macondo BOP.

Drill Ban Crimps Suppliers of Energy

The ban won't hurt domestic oil and gas production in the short-term, analysts said, but it provoked an outcry among energy companies and suppliers that operated in the region and raised the spectre of long-term production declines. . .

Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the development of several oil discoveries in the area could be jeopardized by delays and substantial cost increases resulting from potentially stricter safety regulations. The delays and higher costs could defer as much as 19%, or 350,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, of projected deepwater Gulf production in 2015 and 2016, it said.

The consultancy also estimates that a 10% increase in overall capital expenditure would put several discoveries close to, or below, the profitability rates required to proceed with a project, according to the report.

Spill may cut world oil supply 500,000 bpd-report

A one-year delay on new deepwater projects stemming from the Gulf of Mexico well rupture could cut world oil supply by 500,000 barrels per day between 2013 to 2017, Bernstein Research said in a note to clients on Friday.

"Although this may seem small in a global context, such a situation would decrease OPEC spare capacity, especially in the second half of the decade, which would lead to an increase in the oil price," the firm wrote. . .

New deepwater regulations are likely and the hit from the U.S. drilling moratorium will affect drilling worldwide, Bernstein said.

It is "highly likely" that deepwater rigs will have to adopt global standards to work in basins around the world, the firm said.

Oil spill cam becomes internet sensation

ROBERT, La. (AP) -- The hypnotic video of mud, gas and oil billowing from the seafloor has become an Internet sensation as Americans watch to see whether BP's effort to plug the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico succeeds.

BP warned Friday that it could be Sunday or later before the outcome of the cliffhanger becomes clear. And scientists cautioned that few conclusions can be drawn with any certainty from watching the spillcam coverage of the "top kill." But some said the video seemed to suggest BP was gaining ground.

Report: BP Stopped "Top Kill" Overnight Again

BP started pumping the fluid into the well Wednesday afternoon and then suspended the method later that night, letting much of Thursday go by before alerting the media. The Times report about the latest stoppage came less than two hours before a scheduled news conference for Friday evening.

BP Engineers Making Little Headway on Leaking Well

BP engineers struggled Friday to plug a gushing oil well a mile under the sea, but as of late in the day they had made little headway in stemming the flow. Amid mixed messages about problems and progress, the effort — called a “top kill” — continued for a third day, with engineers describing a painstaking process of trying to plug the hole, using different weights of mud and sizes of debris like golf balls and tires, and then watching and waiting. They cannot use brute force because they risk making the leak worse if they damage the pipes leading down to the well.

Despite an apparent lack of progress, officials said they would continue with the process for another 48 hours, into Sunday, before giving up and considering other options, including another containment dome to try to capture the oil.

Oil Spill May Be Still Bigger

But some of the researchers who came up with the range of 12,000 to 19,000 say that is merely the minimum amount gushing out, not the lower and upper limits.

"It would be irresponsible and unscientific to claim an upper bound," Ira Leifer, a researcher at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an interview. Dr. Leifer is a part of the National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group, which produced the estimate.

UC-Santa Barbara issued a statement Thursday in which Dr. Leifer said that "it's safe to say that the total amount is significantly larger" than 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. He urged that the statement be issued because "I wanted to stand up for academic integrity," he said in the interview.

Oil Spill's Latest Developments

New evidence emerged that the oil was spreading more broadly than thought. A Louisiana State University scientist said his crew had located another vast plume of oily globs 75 miles northwest of the leak. Unlike a plume previously found east of the leak -- in which the oil was dissolved and the contaminated water appeared clear -- the oil at this site was so thick that it covered the lights on the submarine.

Gulf oil spill is public health risk, environmental scientists warn

Prolonged exposure to crude oil and chemical dispersants is a public health danger, environmental scientists warned yesterday as BP spent a third day trying to initiate a "top kill" operation to cap the ruptured well on the sea bed.

Wilma Subra, a chemist who has served as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency, said there was growing anecdotal evidence that locals were falling ill after exposure to tiny airborne particles of crude.

Air quality data released earlier by the EPA suggested the presence of chemicals that – while still within legal limits – could be dangerous. But Subra complained that the EPA was not releasing all data it had gathered from BP.

"Every time the wind blows from the south-east to the shore, people are being made sick," she said. "It causes severe headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, burning eyes and sore throats." Long-term health effects include neurological disorders and cancer.

BP shares drop as clean-up cost approaches $1bn

BP shares are the top fallers in the London market this morning after the company conceded the cost of its clean-up operation in the Gulf of Mexico is approaching $1bn.

Birnbaum 'took fall' after MMS played catch-up after lapses in ethics, oversight

"They needed someone to visibly take the fall," said a former Interior official who worked with Birnbaum and did not want to comment publicly on a personnel matter. "She was the director, and that's what happens when something goes wrong."

Oil sands: the clean alternative?

Until the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April and a massive slick oozed across the Gulf of Mexico, environmentalists had managed to dramatically shift public opinion in the U.S. against the Alberta oil sands. Now, as crude-soaked birds wash up on Louisiana shores, Canadian officials are seizing the opportunity to brand Fort McMurray crude as the clean, safe alternative to offshore drilling. It’s a message environmental groups are desperate to undermine.

Buying carbon offsets may ease eco-guilt but not global warming

An investigation by The Christian Science Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that individuals and businesses who are feeding a $700 million global market in offsets are often buying vague promises instead of the reductions in greenhouse gases they expect.

They are buying into projects that are never completed, or paying for ones that would have been done anyhow, the investigation found. Their purchases are feeding middlemen and promoters seeking profits from green schemes that range from selling protection for existing trees to the promise of planting new ones that never thrive. In some cases, the offsets have consequences that their purchasers never foresaw, such as erecting windmills that force poor people off their farms.

Lower gas prices this Memorial Day... weird

Gas prices have been drifting lower over the past few weeks, which is welcome news for drivers who are gearing up to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend.

Gas prices have fallen about 6% in the last 22 days. The average price for unleaded gas sits at about $2.75 a gallon, according to motorist group AAA, down 18 cents from $2.93 a gallon. And prices are nearly a third cheaper than the record highs hit in the summer of 2008.

Firms focus on energy efficiency

The ministry said that to generate US$1,000 GDP, Viet Nam must consume 600kg of oil equivalent, a unit of energy, one and a half times higher than that in Thailand and double the average rate of the world.

The energy consumption of Vietnamese manufacturing sector was also double or triple that of other nations in the region.

Schneider Electric Vietnam representative Do Manh Dung said: "The gap between energy supply and demand in Viet Nam tripled against a decade ago and the gap will continue to widen due to a sharp increase in demand."

It was expected the demand on power would be 74 billion kWh while the supply would likely stay at about 64 billion kWh this year, he said.

Oil moves above $75 amid improving economic mood

Oil prices rose above $75 a barrel Friday, extending two days of gains on the back of improving economic figures and China's expression of support for Europe's recovery.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for December delivery was up 66 cents to $75.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $3.04 Thursday to settle at $74.55.

This week's rally, the strongest for more than nine months, has added more than $6 a barrel to crude prices. Earlier this month crude prices were as high as $87.15 a barrel before falling steeply amid concerns that Europe's debt crisis could thwart efforts to stimulate growth.

Elon Musk’s Financial Car Wreck

DETROIT -- The romantic notion of starting a car company in your garage is a folly from a bygone era. Even when the government is handing out billions of dollars to help electric-car startups get off the ground, the costs can be overwhelming.

But Musk, who sold his previous company, PayPal, to eBay( EBAY - news - people ) for $1.5 billion, now says he's broke.

Of course, Musk's disclosure came in a filing as part of his divorce from novelist Justine Musk, so perhaps it is advantageous to be out of money at the moment.

Tesla has incurred about $261 million in net losses since its inception in 2007, including $55.7 million last year, according to the registration documents.

Electric Car Bills on the Hill: 10 Things You Should Know

The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010, introduced in Congress this week, has a simple goal to electrify half of all cars and trucks on U.S. roads by 2030, and a basic strategy: focus the might of the federal government on a small number of pilot communities around the country, subsidizing the buildout of charging infrastructure and purchase of electric vehicles.

Here are 10 things you should know about a pair of proposals that could play a big role in how the nascent electric vehicle market takes shape over the next 20 years:

How much will the legislation cost?

The Senate bill is estimated to have an overall cost of $7-$10 billion over five years. The House bill is estimated to cost about $11 billion over five years.

Wall Street slides on Spain downgrade

(Reuters) - Stocks fell on Friday, capping off their worst month in over a year as a downgrade by Fitch of Spain's credit rating reignited worries about euro-zone debt issues.

The downgrade was the latest setback in a month in which the S&P 500 fell more than 8 percent on concerns the euro-zone debt woes would escalate into a global financial crisis.

"Up until now it's been mostly Greece and the threat of Spain and Portugal and Ireland. With Fitch actually downgrading Spain, it seems as if it is no longer a hypothetical, the contagion is now real."

California adopts first statewide green building code

Taking effect January 2011, the nation's first mandatory green building code – dubbed “CalGreen” – lays out specific constraints for newly constructed buildings. It requires builders to install plumbing that cuts indoor water use by as much as 20 percent, to divert 50 percent of construction waste from landfills to recycling, and to use low-pollutant paints, carpets, and floors. It also mandates inspection of energy systems to ensure that heaters, air conditioners, and other mechanical equipment are working efficiently. And for non-residential buildings, it requires the installation of water meters for different uses.

Earth’s growing nitrogen threat

Dennis Lindsay still recalls the day four decades ago when his father, an Iowa farmer, began using nitrogen fertilizer on the family’s 160 acres.

With nitrogen, the family’s corn crop suddenly grew much higher and stronger, and produced full ears and big harvests. When fed to their cows and pigs, that high-quality corn produced far more milk and meat. As a result, the family bought more livestock – and the farm grew. “I remember Dad bringing the neighbors over to see how much greener and better the quality of the stalk was,” Mr. Lindsay says. “It was a really big deal then.”

It’s an even bigger deal today. Lindsay and his son farm 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans, using about 150 tons of nitrogen fertilizer annually. Farmers from China, Europe, and South America rely on nitrogen, too, to make ends meet and feed a growing world.

The situation is even worse in China, which uses about twice as much nitrogen fertilizer as the US to yield about the same amount of crops. As much as three-quarters of all nitrogen used to grow rice in China may be wasted, says Vaclav Smil, a nitrogen expert at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Consumers more cautious about spending in April

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumers don't appear confident enough in the economy to open their wallets more freely.

Their spending stalled in April. Without stronger job creation and higher pay, people are less likely to up their spending in the months ahead and invigorate the recovery.

The flat level for consumer spending was the weakest showing in seven months, according to the Commerce Department report. Personal incomes rose 0.4 percent, in line with expectations but not fast enough to help generate real growth.

In the mean time, more people are holding on to their money. The savings rate rose 3.6 percent in April.
Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity.

Big volcanic eruptions in Guatemala, Ecuador

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Explosive eruptions shook two huge volcanos in Central and South America on Friday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and disrupting air traffic as ash drifted over major cities.

Guatemala's Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks Thursday afternoon, blanketing the country's capital with ash and forcing the closure of the international airport. A television reporter was killed by a shower of burning rocks when he got too close to the volcano, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Guatemala City.

Millions face hunger in arid belt of Africa

In Niger, some say the growing food crisis could be worse than the one that struck the country in 2005, when aid organizations treated tens of thousands of children for malnutrition.

"We have lost so much we cannot count," said one 45-year-old tribesman with a family of 20 to feed. He and others on Gadabeji Reserve drive starving donkeys through the burnt orange haze of a sandstorm to gather what little water they can on the desiccated plain and struggle to draw water from private wells.

From the above Oil sands: the clean alternative

Canadian officials are seizing the opportunity to brand Fort McMurray crude as the clean, safe alternative to offshore drilling. It’s a message environmental groups are desperate to undermine.

The point that the "drill baby spill" crowd, the 'Athabaska as the New Saudi' propagandists, and the environmentalists seem to be ignoring is that there are no longer any "safe" or "clean" alternative sources of crude as the convenient conventional sources are exhausted. The only way out of this mess is to wean ourselves off our oil dependency. In a round about way, each is tacitly admitting peak oil.

Since that prospect is too hard to envision, it is a lot easier to name, shame and blame.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."

And the catch in this weaning ourselves off oil dependency is that the "alternatives" don't work well, and are hard to scale up. The alternatives we usually think of --the big wind turbines and solar PV --don't really substitute for oil because they generate electricity, not a liquid fuel. Corn ethanol uses a lot of land and imported fertilizer. Cellulosic ethanol is not working out as hoped for--tiny amounts are being produced at this time, and there is serious doubt it can be scaled up at reasonable cost. Fuel from algae is still a long way away--much too expensive, based on the methods that can be figured out to date.

The above graph shows how tiny the amounts of alternatives are relative to fossil fuels, including oil. Even with growth, you can barely see the lines at the top of the chart.

So we need to go back to doing things the hard way without oil, or share better what resources we do have. There is some hope for efficiency, but if efficiency comes by way of using lots of resources for building new cars or machinery, the cost and phase-in time are likely to be major issues. If fuel savings comes by way of substituting walking or bicycling or carpooling for private passenger autos, it is more likely to work.

There are also true renewables--for example, windmills built with local materials, that can be used to power simple factories. These could be made locally, but again they don't produce a liquid fuel, and they would not produce very much power in total.

And the catch in this weaning ourselves off oil dependency is that the "alternatives" don't work well, and are hard to scale up.

Yep, that's the real catch 22 conundrum in a nutshell. Going back to doing things the hard way without oil will be very difficult, not only b/c we are not use to hard manual labour anymore, but also b/c much of the inherited wisdom of the ages has been lost to our generation. It doesn't help that the green revolution, another byproduct of the petroleum age, is set to come to an end and thereby resurrecting Thomas Malthus's dire apocalyptic vision.

Hence the naming and shaming. Better than facing that part of the petroleum equation that is just too scary to think about.

What Gail said:

So we need to go back to doing things the hard way without oil, or share better what resources we do have.

The adverb here is "need to" but I "need to" lose 15 lb.'s and I had a donut for breakfast. We still have a choice at this point but how long before we need open heart surgery or perhaps even a transplant. If you know anything about transplant surgery you need to be young and vigorous to even survive it.

The USA has a massive problem with poor health (obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes) and a rapidly aging baby boomer population. I'm 55 and I could probably adapt to a low carbon lifestyle. In 10 years...fugetaboutit! Perhaps killing off a lot of us older folks might not be such a bad thing for the world. Trust me they'll get along fine without us.


Following a modest exercise regime and eliminating anything with high fructose corn syrup (fructose-glucose) and processed carbohydrates from your diet, you could be in better shape at 65 than you were at 45.

Of course, there`s not much left at the grocery store to choose from, especially for dessert.

There is plenty in the stores for dessert. An apple an orange, or a piece of melon.

It doesn't need to be ice cream or a muffin.

If you are worried about high fructose corn syrup, then you better avoid all of the alternatives that you listed, as all of the listed fruits contain high levels of fructose.

Honey, tree fruits, berries, melons, and some root vegetables contain significant amounts of molecular fructose, usually in combination with glucose, stored in the form of sucrose (source: wikipedia)

All forms of sugar, whether natural or "corn derived", can and do cause health problems. Cane sugar, beet sugar, and honey are not exempt just because people would like to pretend that "natural" means healthy.

Fructose yes, but not HFCS (an entirely different beast - a what I might call a frankenfood or a nutriceutical). And an apple has maybe 25% of the calories of a muffin.

Pure fructose crystalized from fruit = 100% Fructose
HFCS 55 = 55% Fructose + 45% Glucose(sweetened beverages)
Table Sugar = 50% Fructose + 50% Glucose (aka Sucrose)
HFCS 42 = 42% Fructose + 58% Glucose (baked goods/food)

From Wikipedia:

Honey is a mixture of different types of sugars, water, and small amounts of other compounds. Honey typically has a fructose/glucose ratio similar to HFCS 55, as well as containing some sucrose and other sugars.

Studies by The American Medical Association suggest "it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose" but calls for further independent research on the subject.

I know that people want high fructose corn syrup to be worse for a person than sugar, but the facts are that HFCS, sugar and honey all have similar unhealthy effects on the body, teeth, heart, weight, etc. Sorry to break it to you, but if you want to have a positive effect on your health, you have to minimize them all. Try Splenda if you want something sweet.

As to calories, thats an entirely different subject, but Splenda comes out pretty well on that front as well.

having just spent 5 years living in Europe, I noticed that HFCS is just about non-existent in the food supply, and so are obese people (almost). apart from that fact, the diet I saw there was nothing to brag about: tons of salt, oil, animal fat, cheese, etc. Sorry to be cynical and paranoid but knowing what we know about the strength of the corn and processed/industrial food lobby in the us govt & media, I find it hard to believe any of the studies saying HFCS is no different than other sugars. I guess I'd like to see an Asian or European studies confirm that, over and over, before I'd really believe it.

One of the main differences that I've seen is that when I visited Europe, if you order a "Coke" when you go out to eat, you get an 8 ounce or maybe a 12 ounce serving (240-360mls). When you order a Coke in the US, it is bottomless and at least 20 ounces (600mls)if not bigger. It really wouldn't matter if that Coke had been sweetened with real sugar instead of HFCS, either way, it packs a ton of extra calories.

Sure, Americans do there share of eating themselves fat, but what really piles it on is drinking ourselves fat. From the sweetened, whip cream topped 1000 calorie coffee, to the sodas, to the beer/alcohol, to the so called "sports drinks", not to mention the calorie laden juices, milkshakes etc., we drink down a glut of extra calories, and over time they build up and pack on the pounds. If you ever saw the overrated "Super Size Me", note that the reason the idiot gained so much weight is because he was drinking vats of Coke. By way of comparison, the much less publisized Bowling For Morgan completely discredits SSM (note, he drinks diet soda). Heck the one "Big Mac dude" in SSM discredits the movie, he eats 2 or 3 Big Macs a day and really wasn't all that heavy.

HFCS is sugar, plain and simple. It doesn't have magical powers, its no better or worse than sugar itself. Any time you note negative health effects of HFCS, you will see those exact same negative health effects with consumtion of an equal amount of sugar.

The rats say something different.

Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain
"When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

Do the glucose and fructose molecules in the HFCS wear special factory-attached quantum-mechanical badges that distinguish them from the glucose and fructose molecules in fruits, juices, or honey? Are those badges readable only by specially trained food mystificators? Do you have to run a Sharpie marker around the edges of the badges for the reader to work, the way some audiophiles insisted on running it around the edge of a CD to get "better sound"?

"Do the glucose and fructose molecules in the HFCS wear special factory-attached quantum-mechanical badges that distinguish them from the glucose and fructose molecules in fruits, juices, or honey?"

In fact they do:


The honey and the fruit have vitamins in them that the HFCS does not have. The fruit has fiber in it, and we have eaten it for a long time in our diets, while the HFCS is a recent industrial addition not in our Genetic history of foods humans ate.

Sugar is not the greatest thing to eat, in whatever form. But if it is found whole fruits, you get other pluses with the negatives.

All things in moderation. Honey has been in the food chain a long time, but we never piled it on things, we ate a little to last a long time.

Eating more fresh foods, and less processed foods will help you, and help the energy costs, as long as you don't ship the fresh foods more than a few miles, not half way round the world.

You can process your fresh foods, with canning, pickling, drying, sauces, and jams, and other preserving methods, so that you have something from your garden when you can't grow anything in it. Just look at ethnic foods, from the old countries, or from the old times, fermentation was a great method of storing foods for later, and there are wonderful things to be had if you just look around at the old time methods and not the processed to death in a box in a freezer section in the store.

The way the body handles glucose and fructose are a bit different, Look at this video to see how.


Sugar: the Bitter Truth.

Hope that helps.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

What about beer? Can I substitute it for Gatorade? But seriously I ran long distance most of my life until a back injury 9 years ago. I still work out on a treadmill regularly and I bike as well. (and yes I still would like to lose 15 lb.'s) To say that any amount of exercise and diet will get me back my youth is whistling past the graveyard. Even Jim Fixx, the author of The Complete Book of Running, died of atherosclerosis at age 42 while on his daily run. If you have good genes that is probably better insurance against premature death than training and diet. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) I have long life on both of my parents sides.

But my point was that we as a society are not going to make the change to a low carbon lifestyle until we have to and by the time it is thrust upon us most elderly Americans will not make it.


Yeah I see the facts staring at me on a daily basis. My mom is 80, my dad 74, I am 46. My dad is just a few pounds off his weight when he went into the Army at 17, and though not as active as then, he can hold his own over much younger people. But if there is a total collapse, they won't be able to get the meds that they take, and I don't know what that will do to them.

I try to take as few meds as possible, and only take something for my acid reflux.

But my aunts have lived a while on the lower end of the energy curve, and though we drive a bit more than I'd like us too. We help give rides to 5 others, besides ourselves. We usually only drive one of the vans at a time. I can drive but don't normally, dad does all the driving. The people we help, can't use the bus system for their trips.

We make the changes we can, even though I'd make more, I am not alone in this house and am making the changes as fast as we can.

I think that humans aren't designed for change as well as we'd like ourselves to be, but when change happens we adapt faster than you'd think looking at the modern world. That ability to adapt will be bred back into us, the fit adapt, and the dead don't pass on the habits or genes.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

A note to Nate - I finished reading We Had Everything But Money a couple of weeks ago and thought it was great. My wife is reading it now and agrees. For people who aren't aware of it, the book is a series of short vignettes of occurances in people's lives during the Depression. Very heart warming. Thanks, Todd

A link to a brief summary I did in March, 2009:


The book is back in print, from The Country Store:


We got a used copy from Powells along with the Heath brothers book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard which I very much recommend, especially for those pushing sustainability.

Thanks Todd,

I am trying to gather a few books that I know will be helpful to others that I know around here, that are trying to get local again.

There is this nice yard up on the main road I travel on going to church on sunday, they have a great set of raised beds and plantings in the front yard. Lots of things growing, herbs, flowers, vegies, always have something growing year around. Their back yard is where they keep a dog( the old owners had their flower garden back there , with some fruit trees ). The whole Park Hill area used to have victory gardens in the front yards, the old folks died off and the new ones just let them go to seed. But the trend is swinging back toward growing food again. We even have a nice CSA here in town.

I still have to get around to calling to see how many hens I could have in my yard, not that at this time I can handle them, but knowing the number will help. I know roosters are banned, nieghbor got a pair of chickens for his daughters, and the rooster kept some working folks up early and they called code enforcement on them. Though one day I was chasing him out of our yard, shucks no chicken soup for us. Snarkle.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Fusion a victim of the financial crisis:

Of course, it may not of been realistic anyway.

More fundamentally, Dean says, the seemingly endless succession of cost increases and delays may cause a rethink of fusion entirely. "We're supposedly developing a power source that's going to compete with coal and nuclear," he says. But the experience so far does not bode well: "There are serious questions about the affordability of fusion as a whole as a result of ITER."

What we need is low cost energy, that will operate our current infrastructure. Or if it is cheap enough, the new energy source can be used to build new infrastructure (like electric cars). It sounds like fusion is yet another proposed energy source that doesn't work.

Re: Electric Car Bills on the Hill: 10 Things You Should Know, up top.

Electric cars will be a jobs killer:


Be Careful Of What You Wish For: That Electric Car Could Take Your Job Away.

Electric cars will be a jobs killer:


Be Careful Of What You Wish For: That Electric Car Could Take Your Job Away.

Every time a new technology comes out, someone trots out this tired old argument, and its as wrong now as it always is. Think of all those poor ICE part makers, and the auto mechanics, who are all going to lose their jobs due to the horrible invention of a more reliable form of transportation which requires less parts to make. Think of all the poor carriage makers who lost their jobs when cars were produced, or the lost jobs due to mass production instead of hand-making everything, or the lost jobs due to use of farm machinery instead of hand-picking crops, etc. etc.

The problem is that this arguement forgets that money that is not spent fixing your car can be spent on something else instead. Instead of spending the money on newly repaired, functional vehicle, you could have spent the money on something else, like say a solar panel to help charge the car. More efficiency and lower costs brings the ability to use the freed up resources for something else. Maybe we can use all this freed up labor to create more sources of green power, or for you ultimate doomers, to restart the carriage-making industry.

If you only want to read one simple, inexpensive book on Economics that will help you spot false arguments like this one, it should be "Economics in One Lesson", by Henry Hazzlitt, written back in 1946 in simple, interesting, everyday language. This particular fallicy is dealt with in Chaper 14, pages 98 to 102, "Saving the X Industry".

Economics in One Lesson on Amazon.com

What we need is low cost energy, that will operate our current infrastructure.

No! What we need is to ditch the current infrastructure, admit that there is no way we can afford to continue to maintain it and go back to the drawing board and come up with something that we can afford with our current energy budget.

Its really a very simple concept to understand. If some spoiled rich kid spends his entire inheritance then at some point he is going to end up in the poor house.

That's us. We have squandered our resources so now we're going to take the bus and eat rice and beans. No more lamborghini and eating filet mignon at fine restaurants.

BTW, the latrine needs cleaning... Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Maybe all those MBA degrees will come in handy after all, were kinda low on toilet paper.

I'm with FMagyar -- Our energy is far too cheap and needs to become more expensive.

When explaining Peak Oil I always like to say to folks that "The great thing about living in the US is our level of waste. ... It's so huge that we can cut our consumption of just about everything in half and still live like kings compared to the rest of the world."

I understand that a lot of people in the US who had counted on Business As Usual are going to be hurt during the transition and there will be political Hell to pay. But the infrastructure of suburbia that was enabled by cheap liquid fuels was was always a mistake and the sooner we realize it and start adjusting the better.

Let's get real about how extaordinary our 'ordinary' lives have become:

  • One car per adult?
  • Cars with > 200 horsepower?
  • Living dozens of miles from work & play?
  • Living in a house with more than 500 sq. ft. per person?
  • Flying across the continent or the world multiple times per year?
  • Eating strawberries in January?

These expectations have been the norm for only about one generation and I am convinced that our level of happiness won't decline much if we have to give them up.

Something tells me that the Voluntary Simplicity movement is going to gain a lot of adherents in the next decade.


Something tells me that the Voluntary Simplicity movement is going to gain a lot of adherents in the next decade.

I'm with you, Jon.

But I'd be willing to place a rather large wager that the Involuntary Simplicity movement is going to be gaining more than a few adherents as well ;^)

You guys are right.

The infrastructure is constantly degrading. Rust never sleeps.

The effort to replace the constantly degrading infrastructure needs to be informed by high energy prices.

High prices will reform the vision of the multitudes. The inappropriate will become appropriate.

How much infrastructure could we build for half of the defense budget? How much infrastructure did we build in Iraq and Afghanistan?

How much are we spending on highways that will become obsolete without enough oil to run on them?

How much infrastructure are we building and maintaing so we can further expand and maintain suburbia?

How much do we waste by not building things to last?

The GOM is being destroyed and yet I see a sea of the usual memorial day drivers coming up highway 1, including Hummers from 100 miles and beyond.

In the midst of this disaster, people are being encouraged to fly and drive down to New Orleans to eat,party, consume, and partake of some of the last remaining oysters and other sea life.

I feel their pain, but who amongst those suffering was doing his/her bit to save, conserve energy before this disaster? Now that the Gulf has been poisoned, how many will celebrate the NASCAR culture this weekend?

How much oil was consumed for Obama's trip down to New Orleans? What did they expect? That he put on a wetsuit and plug the leak himself/ He doesn't feel their pain or our pain. Get over it. He is an intellectual.

This is a nation of babies incapable of taking responsibility for anything. Everything is everyone else's fault, doncha think?

And today I read that folks down in the gulf are begging Obama not to stop new drilling. They need the jobs.

We have the capital. The problem is how it is allocated. Allocating it based on a dying, dysfunctional, wasteful, destructive way of life is not the answer.


I agree. In the past 10 years, the Department of War has spent trillions on nothing but killing little brown people that were no threat to us. Trillions.

And all of a sudden, the Teabaggers are outraged (outraged, I tell you!) at government spending. What a bunch of hypocritical jerks. Where was their outrage all through the Bush years?

Our system is broken, and I don't think it can be repaired.

i luv u tstreet

Yesterday, I spent two hours on my hands and knees weeding cole crops, pinching cutworms to death, and struggling to mulch around plants to keep the moisture in (we're in the midst of an early drought).

When I looked up, our neighbor was hauling his huge boat (I call it "The Monument") down the street with his huge truck, on the way to his third home on an island off the Maine coast.

I have no hope.

What we had during the 20th Century was low cost energy in the form of fossil fuels. They were low cost because they were easy to get at and because we ignored the environmental consequences of their use. Now, it would appear that those sources are about gone. And, to add to the problem, there are no "low cost" energy sources which can replace them, especially, oil. The known workable alternatives are still more expensive than natural gas. That we built much of the U.S. assuming that those energy sources would continue to be available was a massive mistake. Without "low cost" energy, much of the U.S. simply can not continue to function as they did before.

So, as the "low cost" energy is fast disappearing, trying to maintain Business As Usual, i.e., building more of the same sort of developments, simply makes things worse when crunch time arrives. Notice too that your comments above regarding the production of electricity via renewables also applies to the production of electricity from new nuclear power plants, which are projected to cost much more in current dollars than the previous batch left over from the 1970's and 80's...

E. Swanson

Instead of looking for cheap energy sources
we need to concentrate on reducing our energy consumption by changing our lifestyle.
Americans consume 12kw each , Europeans 6 kw each, World average is 1 kw each.

The most cost-effective way of countering energy shortage is through energy savings.

Swiss 2000 Watt Society

Anybody else feeling Disaster Exhaustion? We have a ecological disaster in the Gulf, a financial disaster on Wall Street, a military disaster in Iraq/Afghanistan, and an employment disaster across the country.

I miss the quieter calmer days of just a few months ago when here on TOD we talked about souping up the old Dutch windmill designs, hoop houses for extending the growing seasons, bike transportation, urban gardening, street cars, and home insulation ideas...

Best hopes for less disasters,

Greg, here's something to distract you from the the disaster news. Brazil is experiencing its day as a rising star on the world constellation of nations. Will Brazil's economy keep growing?

Notwithstanding a potential southern hemisphere repeat of sub-prime and the perfunctory deforestation of the earth's lungs (these are my musings not the commentator's), Brazil is apparently gaining traction and status at 5% growth per year.

Poverty is still a major problem but attempts are being made to ease crime and life in the shantytowns.

Is it any coincidence that the happy go-lucky family film of 2011 is Rio? As the promo suggests:

Rio brings together a menagerie of vivid characters, a heart-warming story, colorful backdrops, energizing Latin and contemporary music, and family-friendly song and dance.

Perchance an apt summary of the rising Brazilian dream. Makes you want to live there doesn't it?




I was born in Brazil and even lived in Rio for a few years. I also Got to see a bit of the Amazon rain forest first hand as well. So I can tell you that Brazil is indeed a wonderful place and Rio really rocks sambas...

The Amazonian rain forest is certainly one of the world's most important ecosystem for many many reason... being the lungs of the world isn't one of them.

Think about it. about 70% of the surface of our planet is covered with ocean...


It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants . Nearly all marine plants are single celled, photosynthetic algae.


I was in the Peruvian Amazon in 2001. Wonderful, wonderful trip...swinging from zip lines, etc etc. Saw one of those dinner-plate-sized tarantulas. Unfortunately, my camera fell in the river - you'll have to believe me.

What many people don't know about rain forests is that they can create up to 75% of their own rain. So denuding the forest reduces precipitation, which reduces forest....

That is why rainforests are not classed as arable land. They can have crops grown in them, but must stay a rainforest. Several foods come from them, but hopefully they stay sustained, because without them, anything planted in the clear cut will fade in a year or so.

Some deserts can be reclaimed, but they have to have enough water falling on them, you can use swales and cisterns to catch and channel the moisture for later use.

The post about Africa is sign of the fragile balance some parts of the world are in, without enough rain famine streams to the forefront of life.

We can spend money bailing the banks out of the hole and not help the hungry, for shame.

Let's hope the US does not go through a dry spell like that, everything is balanced on a knife edge.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Hmmmmm .... large parts of the oceans are desert areas due to lack of oxygen or nutrients - worse, these areas are increasing rapidly due to warming and pollution.


Actually, the plants that produce the oxygen for organisms like us are the plants consumed in our food chain.

FMagyar, my Hungarian friend, you certainly get around. The benefit of travel is that it does broaden one's horizons.

Not been to Rio (or anywhere in Latin America for that matter), although someday I would like to go. Figure that even on a dull day, the culture and temperament of the people would be exotic enough to keep a dye-in-the-wool Anglo-Saxon like me fascinated, intrigued, and excited.

Thank you. I learn something new everyday. Didn't know that 70-80% of the world's oxygen came from oceans, although as you say, it makes sense once you consider how much of the world's surface area is covered by water. It's more critical than ever to treat the marine landscape with respect, something until now we've neglected to do big time. We we tend either to exploit our seas as a limitless cornucopia or to dismiss them as a great sewer into which to dump our garbage. The disaster in the GoM only reinforces this lesson.

One aspect of these recent disruptive events is the potential for serious geopolitcal change. Noted historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto in his epic tome, Millennium, pointed out that the northern European hegemony and the North Atlantic triangle of power is a very recent phenomenon (only about a hundred-fifty years long, a drop in the bucket in terms of world history) and that there is no reason (cultural, economic, ideological) why it should continue beyond its current shelf life. Twenty years ago he was saying that he could foresee India and China regaining their historical prominence.

If Brazil gets its act together, it may very well have its time in the spotlight of human history. Stranger things have happened.



FMagyar, my Hungarian friend, you certainly get around.

Stork happened to be flying over Brazil at the time and had to come in for an emergency landing ;^)

No complaints.

Brazil is doing many things right but it is still under the influence of the infinite economic growth paradigm. Witness the Monte Belo Hydro electric project. I sure wish it could be stopped!

Hey, they are shutting the entire country down for the world cup though,


Insulin giant pulls medicine from Greece over price cut

The world's leading supplier of the anti-diabetes drug insulin is withdrawing a state-of-the-art medication from Greece.

Novo Nordisk, a Danish company, objects to a government decree ordering a 25% price cut in all medicines.


Question: How much insulin would Novo be able to make if they had to declare bankrupcy after losing too much money selling products at a loss?

Note also the last part of the article, which states: "But a spokesman for Novo Nordisk said this issue was not about killing people. By way of compensation, he said the company would make available an insulin product called glucagen, free of charge."

That is an Excellent question, I wonder if the Greeks considered it when they decided to force the 25% cut. I wonder how desperate the decision makers are, and how irrational their decisions might be.

This is just another example of the difficult decisions we will be forced to make due to the economic realities we are now being forced to face.

I think it's sliglhtly more complicated. A pharmaceutical company is generally charging for current products to pay for the development costs of potential new products, production costs for the product once developed are generally a very minor contribution to the costs. Of course, that means it's difficult to say exactly how much the R & D cost it's reasonable to pull-forward into current product prices. Restating, it's "How many newer pharmaceuticals would Novo be able to make after having their price for current products reduced thas much?"

Or, restating it, "how much of the R&D investment can be recouped by Novo if the current price is reduced by 25%."

Or maybe, "how much longer would it take Novo to recoup it's R&D investment at the lower price?"

Six gas mileage myths

According to Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book and a CFA spokesman, 87 percent of respondents said it is "important that the country reduce its consumption of oil," and 54 percent said it is "very important."


But are enough people willing to do what it really takes ?

But are enough people willing to do what it really takes ?

Heh, heh, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it?

Checking boxes in interest-group polls costs nothing - at least not until you get to the "now how much would you like to donate" item that often lurks at the end. So answering the loaded questions is a no-brainer. It's even better when they frame it as getting revenge on wicked "business" for delivering the sad news that you must get out of bed and earn the stuff you consume.

Following through is altogether different. There's hardly ever a free lunch. The politics is fraught: when you dump on big profitable SUVs as a way of dumping on big executive bonuses, you also dump on generous UAW wages and lavish benefits. So in answer to your question, the consumption reduction from dispelling all six of their myths (being flat-out zero from the last one?) would be a trivial one-shot affair. Need one say more?

Of course enough people aren't willing to do what it really takes. If they were willing they'd already have done it.

People will change when they have no other choices left. They will change when they have too few remaining resources to use to make the changes needed. They will change when their debts are too high. They will change when they lose their jobs or get evicted from their houses.

People are resistant to change. People want stuff. People want higher status. People want to live out their dreams. People want to not lose ground.

Was Matt Simons Right?

Is there another leak in the Gulf?

Today Matt Simmons, one of the largest investment bankers in the energy industry appeared on Bloomberg. The chairman of Simmons & Co. INTL went on to explain that there is much more to the oil leak than the news has been reporting.

Last Sunday, NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined.

He went on to state that “the plume from the riser is minor thing… the best estimate is about 120,000 barrels of oil per day”.


"NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original"

Where is the link to NOAA that says this ?

Please provide accurate links .. not second hand

I don't think there is any connection between what NOAA is saying and what Matt Simmons is asserting.

Matt's assertions come across as strange.

"Matt's assertions come across as strange."

That's what I've been thinking.

But I do not doubt Matt's credibility or intelligence. And I just find it very hard to believe that Matt suddenly turned into some kind of "conspiracy nut."

And he has never struck me as one who would muddy the waters with unsubstantiated BS.

I wonder if he is not aware of information that has been withheld from the public?

Has Simmons lost it or is this true?

Matt has not "lost it."

I think Matt - and the people he knows - know much more about this specific situation than all of the people who post here combined.

Hmmm... Simmons also saying military should replace BP and nuke the well. Always had a lot of respect for Matt. Is he losing his mind or is there more to this story than we realize?

Hind sight might show that Matt was right.

I don't know enough about his proposal to have an informed opinion.

Last Sunday, NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined.

I have been unable to find any reliable scientific confirmation of this information. However from the linked article there is this statement which does indeed seem to have been borne out:

Also worth noting is that there appears to be a gigantic lake of oil now lingering below the ocean surface around 3000 feet deep.


The sight of an oil slick spreading across the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough. But now scientists from the University of South Florida have found signs that a 6-mile-wide plume of invisible oil is snaking beneath the surface, in the deepest recesses of the gulf.

The thickest concentration, they found, was more than 2 miles beneath the surface — a mile deeper than where the Deepwater Horizon well has been spewing oil for the past month — and about 20 miles northeast of the collapsed rig.

The plume of dissolved oil stretched 6 miles down, said David Hollander, a USF chemical oceanographer and lead investigator for the project. This is the second oil plume to be discovered by scientists, and it marks the first time such plumes have been detected after a spill, Hollander said. He compared them to streams of lava flowing out of an undersea volcano.

There is much more information about this here:


We are really in uncharted waters with this spill and the continuing lack of transparency and a disinformation campaign being waged by BP and the US Gov't with NOAA seeming to be complicit in this in the worse way possible, is like nothing any of us have ever seen before.

I strongly suspect that when we piece together the full story and get an idea of the full impact of this spill we will come to realize that this is a deeply transformative moment in our history.

Best hopes that those responsible are made to walk the plank!

"The plume of dissolved oil stretched 6 miles down,"
The max depth in The Gulf is 2.7 miles,

"The thickest concentration, they found, was more than 2 miles beneath the surface — a mile deeper than where the Deepwater Horizon well has been spewing oil for the past month — and about 20 miles northeast of the collapsed rig."

Nothing 20 miles to the northeast is 2 miles deep.

I suspect some one is taking notes and quoting things they thought they heard.

"The plume of dissolved oil stretched 6 miles down,"
The max depth in The Gulf is 2.7 miles,

I understood that to mean 6 miles down current not vertical depth.

Anyways those words are from a news paper article and not from the scientists themselves. however they are linked from the news links page of the University of South Florida College of Marine Sciences at St Petersburg.


Whatever the specific details it seems very clear that we have a deep sea underwater disaster unfolding in the Gulf, the implications of which we can not begin to know at this point...

These are the links on that page and they are from various news organizations referring the the recent finds of the research vessel "Weatherbird regarding deep sea underwater oil plumes. anyone can go there and read them or contact the university themselves.

# Weatherbird's Return May 28, 2010 - Media Greet R/V Weatherbird II Friday Morning

* Tampa Bay Online: Layers of oil found by USF researchers could pose 'insidious threat'
* ABC Action News: USF team brings backs suspect samples from Gulf for testing
* AP Press Wire: 22-mile oil plume under Gulf nears rich waters

# Bay News 9 - Video Report - Waiting for the Weatherbird's Return
# USF’s R/V Weatherbird II Detects Invisible Hydrocarbons in Gulf Waters

* CBS News: Undersea Oil Plume May Poison Sealife Food Chain
* Fox News: New 22-Mile-Long Oil Plume Found in Gulf
* St. Pete Times: USF researchers find new underwater plume from gulf oil spill
* Bay News 9 : USF team discovers massive new oil plume
* Tampa Bay Online: USF researchers find more oil
* Herald-Tribune: Miles-long oil plume raises alarms far beneath the surface
* Washington Post: Scientists find evidence of large underwater oil plume in gulf
* National Public Radio (NPR): New, Giant Sea Oil Plume Seen In Gulf

Thank you FM for your thoughtful comments.

From the University of South Florida release:

The Weatherbird II deployed a variety of instruments to detect the signature of hydrocarbons, which will undergo further testing to verify if it Deepwater Horizon oil. The probable concentration of dissolved hydrocarbons was highest at 400 meters below the surface.

"The ramification is that what we see at the surface is not the entire story," said Ernst Peebles, a biological oceanographer who was aboard the Weatherbird II and is one of the lead researchers on the project.

OK, it's not good to have a plume of trace quantities of dissolved hydrocarbons at 400 meters. OTOH, it's a long, long way from that to the impressions the articles leave, namely a lake of crude oil slithering about either 3000 feet down - or else six miles down if there were a six miles down. Either those are extra-long variable-length meters, or the "reporters" couldn't 'fathom' the conversion from metric to English.

Methinks the newspaper bidness is fading to black, and where it provides this quality of "reportage", good riddance.

it's a long, long way from that to the impressions the articles leave, namely a lake of crude oil slithering about either 3000 feet down - or else six miles down if there were a six miles down. Either those are extra-long variable-length meters, or the "reporters" couldn't 'fathom' the conversion from metric to English.

Here is an audio clip with at least one of the scientists talking about the oil getting into currents a mile and half down...


Where did you dig up "TRACE QUANTITIES" (The phrase doesn't appear in that article once )... I think this was your own hopeful interpretation, while the report you link actually has conclusions like this..

“Our concern regarding these contaminants is they have the potential to be incorporated in the food web,” said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer who is a lead investigator in the research mission.

“The first ecological impact of this spill is the effect on coastal habitats, including marshes, beaches and estuaries. The second threat to nature would be the impact on the food webs. That is what’s at risk.”

Good News from the Pacific Northwest

Talk About sales-On-Demand: New power sales keep wind turbines spinning

Portland, Ore. - As winds picked up May 12, the Bonneville Power Administration warned wind farms at 6:29 p.m.: Prepare to shut down wind turbines in four minutes. The turbines were generating about 600 megawatts more power than expected. The power system could not absorb any more.

For the first time, though, wind farms used a new mechanism BPA designed with wind operators and utilities to escape such a shutdown. They sold 330 megawatts of the unexpected energy for the following half-hour. That simple step delivered more wind power to regional customers, earned them more revenue and quickly eased pressure on the power system.

BPA canceled its warning. The turbines kept spinning.

One of the big problems with wind power is the volatility of the output. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) runs the hydro-electric dams on the Columbia river and owns much of the grid in the Pacific Northwest. They can dial back hydro when the winds pick up. But even here there are limits to how quickly they can adjust.

By hiring a couple of extra staff and adjusting operations, BPA is now supporting "intra-hour" scheduling instead of only hourly sales. This makes for a better match between wind power providers and customers that can take advantage of short term availability of cheap power.

That's way better than shutting some turbines down when they are producing at peak capacity!

Best Hopes for finding and actually noticing the good news.

(Hint -- don't look to the main stream media.)


Nice catch. This story goes hand-in-hand with the one you posted on the 26th about the ongoing hydropower turbine replacements in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully we can generate enough clean power and reduce demand enough through efficiency to eliminate the need for the 2 coal plants (one in each state, WA&OR). With Oregon and the Seattle area also being chosen as areas for the roll-out of the Nissan LEAF EV as well, the Pacific Northwest seems to be emerging as an example of how we might be able to survive as a society in a fossil fuel constrained world.

And the Pacific Northwest is no slouch when it comes to utility investments in energy efficiency....

Northwest Utilities Renew Commitment to Regional Energy Efficiency Efforts
$2 Billion Forecast for Energy Efficiency over Next Five Years in Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore., May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) announced that 13 regional energy organizations have pledged to renew their investment in NEEA with $192 million for the 2010-2014 period. NEEA's funding backs an aggressive plan to save the region 200 average megawatts (aMW) of power by 2014 at a projected cost of under 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour, enough energy to power 138,000 homes for a year, and at a cost less than any other type of generation source. NEEA's funding organizations are based in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and represent about 130 regional public utilities on behalf of Northwest energy consumers.

"Investments in energy efficiency are helping to lay the groundwork for a new energy future for America," said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi. "By continuing to promote energy-efficient technologies, the Northwest is helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, while creating green jobs and driving our economy forward."

Working through NEEA, the region has already saved a substantial amount of energy. From 1997 through 2008, the Northwest achieved 264 aMW of energy savings through its regional efforts, which is enough energy to power the cities of Spokane and Tacoma, Washington or 182,000 homes each year. These energy savings were achieved at a cost of about two cents per kilowatt-hour. Including the investment in NEEA, the region as a whole is expected to spend roughly $2 billion on new energy efficiency programs by 2014.

See: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/northwest-utilities-renew-commit...


"Investments in energy efficiency are helping to lay the groundwork for a new energy future for America," said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi.

That new energy future may not look like some think. Walmart is making investments in fuel savings by taking over shipments from suppliers:


This is completely the opposite of Kunstler's prediction of the death of Wal Mart's "warehouse on wheels". Turns out Walmart is going to make efficiency savings at the cost of smaller companies that had been transporting goods from vendors to Wal Mart's warehouses.

Wal Mart's plan is to reduce costs by eliminating the middle truckers
and pick up goods at supplier locations with its own trucks as they make the rounds to its 4000 big box stores.

So the "warehouse on wheels" is set to get even bigger, contrary to JHK's thesis. It is the little outfits that fast death.

The problem is they are in freshet right now and can't really cut back on hydro electric generation. Not that this is a high water year, but I don't know what the current inflows are. This is exactly the time of year when hydro electric does not offer the flexibility theoretically thought possible.

I was upstream on the Columbia the other day and it is running at typical Spring levels.

Is the slow performance of www.theoildrum.com as of late due in any way to the embedded video on the front page, and if that is the case, might we get a link to it instead of the embedded player? I have actually already blocked the player using Adblock (as it was painfully clunky even on my moderately powerful PC), but I'm still getting very slow loads from theoildrum over the last couple of days. I don't mean to be a crank, but my loads have been slow that I've been giving up on occasion, which means you guys are probably losing some traffic overall.

I tried moving the video below the fold to see if that might help site performance.

That is an experiment. If it doesn't work, it will be moved back.

Did something last night that I haven't ever done before.

Sitting at an outdoor establishment down by the river, listening to a great blues trio and sipping on a stellar Syrah. Living large on my birthday. The band went into this classic blues progression with the lead guitar stepping out with some awesome Stevie Ray quality licks now and then when these lyrics popped into my head. Next thing I knew I was walking up to the mike and the lead guy bowed me in so I grabbed the mike and started to sing. After the first word came out I thought to myself WTF are you doing, but then I just left everything behind and got so lost in the music that it felt ….almost like …..SEX!

Here's what I sang;

Deep Horizon - deep horizon
Deep Horizon - deep horizon
Pool 'ol Louisiana's got those
Deep Horizon Blues
Dying fish and birds
turtles, reefs and whales
everything in the ocean
right down to tiniest sea snails
The Gulf of Mexico's got those
Deep horizon blues
100 mile long plumes
sucked into the loop
picking up the gulf stream
Cuba-Bahama-Florida- The Keys
Everybody's got 'em got those
Deep Horizon Blues

Don't know where it came from but the crowd loved it.

eeyores, way to go and Happy B'day to ya!

My own was on the 25th. Been a bit blue myself sure coulda used the entertainment!

Maybe you ought to record it and post it on YouTube...

Had a birthday on the 28th as well......54 and there is so much more.

Single women that is!!!!

I got those Deep Horizon Blues..............

Spill grew, BP's credibility faded

On almost every issue — the amount of gushing oil, the environmental impact, even how to stop the leak — BP's statements have proven wrong. The erosion of the company's credibility may prove as difficult to stop as the oil spewing from the sea floor.

The 210,000-gallon estimate that became the official talking point for weeks turned out to be wrong, too. A team of scientists from the government and academia said Thursday that the leak is really spewing somewhere between 500,000 and a million gallons a day.

The new estimates were between 12 and 24 times greater than what was first offered, and instantly made the Deepwater Horizon spill the worst in U.S. history. Even using the low end of the estimates, nearly 18 million gallons have spilled so far. At the high end, the well could have gushed as many as 39 million gallons.

BP's downplaying of the situation may have began with a phone call, some 16 hours after the rig exploded and killed 11 workers, leaving behind an inferno that burned for two days and has been leaking at least ever since the rig sank.

In a low-key tone, a man who identifies himself as BP employee Carlos Moreno notified Louisiana authorities that oil was unlikely to reach their shores. He emphasized that BP wanted to give a "heads up" about the sheen spotted floating near the crippled rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

At first, the Coast Guard said there was no leak from the vast reservoir of oil more than a mile below the Gulf's surface. Then, after analyzing images taken underwater by remote-controlled cameras, the Coast Guard estimated 42,000 gallons a day were leaking. A week after the explosion, that rose to 210,000 gallons.

"You're never comfortable with estimating at the beginning of the oil spill," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry told AP.

The shift in spill estimates — and the other downplayed details from BP — have caused environmental activists like Lorraine Margeson of St. Petersburg, Fla., to question whether other details are lowballed, as well. Margeson wonders if the numbers of dead animals and birds are being accurately reported by BP and other officials.

"From the get go, every aspect of the situation has been downplayed," she said. "This thing has been out of control in terms of informing the public and transparency from day one."

"They keep making one mistake after another. That gives the impression that they're hiding things," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has been critical of BP's reluctance to publicly release videos of the underwater gusher. "These guys either do not have any sense of accountability to the public or they are Neanderthals when it comes to public relations."


"Consumers more cautious about spending in April"

I wonder what May will look like. I visit Costco now and then, for bulk staples. It was jam-packed this morning, with almost all the carts allocated before the store even opened.

Bumper-carts to get in. Lines to get out.

People seem to be spending this holiday weekend, from what I can tell - maybe it's just end-of-month and folks got paid. Coupon expiration isn't until next weekend.

By the way - whoever posted recently about bicycle carts - thanks for the link - I just got one - I've been to the local store with it - not quite sure about Costco yet ;)

Could you re-post the cart link? I'm looking for similar utility vehicles :)

I don't know about Costo cut I have noticed a major change in the Yard (garage/rummage) Sale Inventory (YSI) in my area. Lots of boats, cars, etc - big ticket items. My brother bought a $900 boat trailer at a yard sale for $100 yesterday.

Amazon.com has them. You can do a search for "bicycle cart" or "bicycle trailer" and you'll see them.

I believe the original poster talked about the "Croozer", although I got a slightly less expensive one, and it works fine for me.

More minor scribblings from the beyond...

Our firm is upgrading the lighting for a chain of convenience stores and gas bars. Initially, we had expected the savings potential to be greatest amongst their older stores that utilize T12 fluorescent technology, but that hasn't proven to be the case. The lighting systems in these older facilities are rather bare bones in their design, whereas their newer stores employ a large number of power-hungry halogen lamps for accent lighting and wall washing.

One of their newer locations closest to our home is fairly representative. It has nineteen 3-lamp and five 2-lamp F32T8 troffers. These fixtures were retrofitted with 28-watt high performance T8s, for an estimated 2,385 kWh/year savings; modest, but still cost-effective nonetheless. We also replaced the thirty-seven 50-watt PAR20 lamps in their track heads with 14-watt hard glass PAR20 CFLs (11,636 kWh/yr), the 100-watt incandescent in the walk-in cooler with a 13-watt CFL (762 kWh/yr) and the fourteen 50-watt PAR30 halogens in the exterior soffits with 16-watt hard glass PAR30 CFLs (2,085 kWh). Net total: 16,868 kWh/year.

However, at this particular location the bulk of the savings are related to their outdoor lighting. It appears that a service technician had taped over the photo eye when they were working on the forecourt lighting and had forgotten to remove it when they were done. Consequently, the soffit lighting, wall packs, outdoor signage and pump canopy lighting remained on 24 hours a day (no one apparently noticed or, if they did, had bothered to investigate the problem). Removing this small strip of tape will bump up their savings by a further 30,000 kWh per year. Final tally: 47,000 kWh a year in energy savings for a $725.00 investment in materials and labour.


That's all well and good, but who has a FULL MONTH to wait before getting a full payback on their investment?

Great work!

Thanks, Consumer. Actually, I should have been more clear on this last point. The cost to Nova Scotia Power was just under $725.00 -- the customer's co-payment was $180, which puts their payback at just under two weeks!



You're too cheap by half! You should charge them a thousand dollars just for doing the "diagnostic analysis and solutions implementation" of their outdoor lighting situation. (Big words help justify the payment.) ;^)

If only we had a few can-do folks like you working their way through government buildings looking for efficiencies..

Best Regards,


Thanks, Jon, for your kind words. There are tremendous opportunities to save electricity, often at little or no cost. It's rare to find a facility that couldn't be improved in some fashion, especially as it relates to the human element. For example, why do we turn on the overhead lights in offices that are flooded with daylight?


For example, why do we turn on the overhead lights in offices that are flooded with daylight?

I have a simple answer -- Electricity is too cheap relative to other costs to get anyone's attention.

In a recession people may start looking for cost savings. The other way to get people's attention is to tax excessive consumption in some sort of tiered fashion.

Seattle City light has two rates tiers in their residential electric rate schedule -- 4.59¢ for the first 10 KWh and 9.55¢ for everything above that. What would be the effect on consumption if the rate schedule looked like this:

  1. 0-10 KWh = 5¢
  2. 10-20 KWh = 10¢
  3. 20-40 KWh = 20¢
  4. 40-80 KWh = 40¢
  5. 80+ KWh = 80¢

Seems completely reasonable to me. Any household that is using over 40KWh per day can either afford the money or the effeciency retrofit. But I guarantee that this rate schedule would get their attention!

Best Hopes for progressively teired rate schedules.


Electricity is too cheap relative to other costs to get anyone's attention.

I don't disagree and yet the public screams bloody blue murder whenever utility costs go up. The uproar over the energy efficiency surcharge that pays for my work was amazing, and it's just $0.00193 per kWh. Two tenths of a cent and they were ready to light the torches.


"Why do we turn on the overhead lights in offices that are flooded with daylight?"

Sometimes, 'cos it floods in at a very low angle that makes much of it useless glare instead of illumination. Or 'cos when it comes in from the side like that it washes out the computer screens, so we close the blinds if there are any; then in order to see at all, we turn on the lights - which are up high and have those reflector panels that direct the light down instead of sideways so it doesn't wash out the screens.

Plus, if you have, say, 160W of fluorescents lighting a modest one-person office (or area), that's rather less than 2kWh/day, and generally might cost somewhere from 10 to 50 cents; a bit more in summer when the A/C would be pumping it out again. Among all the other daily costs associated with that office or area, it's lost in the noise.

Just because something is inexpensive in relation to other overheads does not justify its misuse. We well know there are costs associated with the supply of electricity that are never included in its price. Ten thousand caribou drowned in the span of two days when their traditional migration routes were flooded by Hydro-Québec's James Bay development. What evil arises from our thoughtlessness.


Ten thousand caribou drowned in the span of two days when their traditional migration routes were flooded by Hydro-Québec's James Bay development.

Wow! Sad!

Price of electricity, 10,000 bucks... and does, priceless!

Doesn't sound inexpensive to me and I think that sooner or later we will all be paying the true environmental costs of our profligacy.

This last month's occurrence in The Gulf and especially the comments I keep reading about how this really isn't such a big deal and the Gulf will recover etc... etc.. And that it's just the price of doing business and its worth the risk, has convinced me that the only way forward is to start hitting people up side the head with 2 x 4's.

Nobody cares. Nobody cares at all.

A few caribou? So what. The Gulf of Mexico? So what.

This thing is going to play itself out - we are going to eat the planet.


Yes, it is sad. And Paul in Halifax is right on the money, it is evil.

I remember being disturbed and sickened by watching news reels of the drowned caribous. I'm experiencing the same gut reaction to what's happening in the GoM. Problem is, we are very much divorced from the real world , i.e. our relationship with other life around us and what gives us life, dwelling instead on our anthropocentric obsession with a non-negotiable lifestyle that crowds everything else out but our own material gratification.

One of the tenets of the Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation (which, I emphasize, is not "creationism" and the idea of a six thousand year old universe) is that whatever constituted the fall of humanity in our early years, it is the breakdown of relationship and the belief that we alone are the center of everything that constitutes evil. It is when we no longer can reach out or relate to the other as other, but instead command the other to conform to our narrowly defined wants and needs, that we subject our world to hurt, grief, trouble, and death.

Sometimes a 2X4 is exactly what is needed. FMagyar, without probably meaning to, you've just named what is meant by justice and stumbled on old fashioned teachings around apocalyptic wrath.

You're not Eastern Orthodox by any chance? Would explain why you seem to get it.

Then again anybody with a thinking brain and a generous heart gets it, too.



You're not Eastern Orthodox by any chance? Would explain why you seem to get it.
Then again anybody with a thinking brain and a generous heart gets it, too.

More along the lines of the second option, I hope...

Of course, my friend. Heart and head are in the right place. Well done... Cheers!

Hi Tom,

I remember watching a news report on the CBC and reading about it in the Globe and Mail. Like you, I was horrified by what happened and some twenty-five years later I'm still haunted by it. It was a pivotal moment in my life and established the framework for what was to follow.


It's funny what stands out. At the time, there wasn't a whole lot said about it. The conventional and, by and large, unspoken view was that drowned herds were the price of progress. Yet it is an image that embedded itself in many people's memories.

Paul, you were far from being alone. It was one of those moments when, among Canadians, the environment began to impress on people's minds that was to later play out in the greening of politics in this country. Not surprising, it is the real mess-ups that press home the need for cleaning up our act.

Not that the Greens are about to take over the government or even that the environment can be issue # 1 (Stéphane Dion and the Liberals got pillored on it), but every political party has a green platform and no major projects will proceed these days without a full environmental assessment.

The James Bay mega-project would look different if done today.

Too bad we're always learning the facts of life the hard way.


Oh, I know that. Doesn't change the fact that electricity cost for lighting is utterly lost in the noise, though. Hate to have to say it, but life is way too short for people to engage in lengthy philosophical dialogues with themselves every time they spend another 25 cents or so.

On another hand I do think this poses an interesting Darwinian question for the biologists: a migration or food route could conceivably be blocked for some time by flooding from an unusual storm having nothing to do with Hydro-Québec. When that happens, do these beasts normally just jump in and drown themselves? Is there a caribou population bottleneck every time there's a freakishly stormy spell at the wrong time of year? How is this species still around?

How is this species still around?

There are plenty of well documented natural extinctions, some of them were indeed caused by cataclysmic events. However there seems to be a consensus amongst biologists that human civilization is now the number one cause of an unprecedented species extinction.


There is little doubt left in the minds of professional biologists that Earth is currently faced with a mounting loss of species that threatens to rival the five great mass extinctions of the geological past. As long ago as 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year — which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that this biodiversity crisis — this “Sixth Extinction” — is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had supposed.

In the face of that knowledge your comment, Is what I would characterize as superficial and petty at best and it really underscores how disconnected people today are from nature and reality.

Oh, I know that. Doesn't change the fact that electricity cost for lighting is utterly lost in the noise, though. Hate to have to say it, but life is way too short for people to engage in lengthy philosophical dialogues with themselves every time they spend another 25 cents or so.

And you say that with the straightest of faces? I don't think you really have put a whole lot of thought into that remark at all.

Hey Paul, this may help to somewhat answer your question. Cheers! Tom

Of all the Arctic's horned mammals, the large deer known as the caribou in the North American Arctic and as the reindeer in northern Europe and Asia is possessed with the most wander lust. Each autumn, hundreds of thousands of individuals undertake a migration that may stretch for nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers), trekking across hilly tundra in search of ages-old winter feeding grounds. Then, with the coming of spring, those that have survived the winter travel the long distance back to the now verdant lakeshores and valleys of the Arctic, where they breed and pass warmer months.

The caribou is uniquely designed for this wandering life. Its cloven hoofs are far more deeply cleft than those of most related animals; with each step, the hooves are spread out to form small snowshoes that support the creature's bulk of up to 700 pounds (317.5 kilograms). When the migrating animals must swim across a lake or river, the hooves spread in the same way to act as oars, propelling the caribou easily through the water.

The yearly caribou migration is one of the greatest spectacles of the Far North - but it is also one of the most imperiled. Because the animal requires such a large expanse of land for its survival, even comparatively small environmental changes (such as oil pipelines, railroads, and other signs of civilization) can prevent the caribou from reaching its ancient and essential feeding grounds. So even though there are more than half a million caribou throughout the world, it is a very vulnerable species.

Joseph Wallace, The Arctic (New York: Michael Friedman Publishing Group, Inc., 1988), 38 & 40)

Turning lights on when they are not needed [and then failing to turn them off when you leave for the day] is just one of many examples. I took one of our clients out for lunch on Friday to thank her for her business and to verify the results of our work (we upgraded the lighting in three of her office buildings). The savings came in pretty much as expected, but then she went on to describe how much her utility costs fell after one of her tenants moved out. I'm told the manager liked his office cold, and so he ran the a/c system full blast year round. Everyone else was freezing, so they cranked up the baseboard strips in their individual offices or plugged in electric rads under their desks; thus, simultaneous heating and cooling of the same space twenty-four hours a day. After this tenant moved out and the new one moved in, her demand fell by 46 kW and she expects to save between 100,000 and 150,000 kWh/year in her heating and cooling costs. It's needless waste such as this that really gets under my skin.


Concerned about the Gulf. Of course, the following is a non-expert suggestion hoping to be an example of thinking from far left field - but... "is it possible to consider using electromagnets on the outside of the riser to either direct the position of internal "magnetic" junk or rubber encased "magnetic" junk hurtling by to facilitate bridging? Perhaps the electromagnet could be placed near or partially into the cracks in the riser. Was unable to find a reference to the austenitic (non-magnetic) character of the stainless steel in the riser but have always thought that powerful magnets could be used to affect the positioning of magnetic materials inside of a non-assessible space. And, these thoughts were never about places like the inside of a riser characterized by forces of pressure that could most likely overcome the T forces able to hold a piece of metal in place."

Really uncanny and prescient--this song, "The Horizon Has Been Defeated"-- was written and recorded by Jack Johnson a few years ago. Here are the lyrics, and I will try to post a link to a Youtube recording of the song. I first heard it a few weeks ago at my spin class. The instructor played it for our cool down, and these are the lines that really got my attention
"And then the rigs begin to drill
Until the drilling goes too far..."


The Horizon Has Been Defeated Lyrics
Artist(Band):Jack Johnson

"The Horizon Has Been Defeated"

The horizon has been defeated
By the pirates of the new age
Alien casinos
Well maybe it's just time to say
Things can go bad
And make you want to run away
But as we grow older
The trouble just seems to stay

Future complications
In the strings between the cans
But no prints can come from fingers
If machines become our hands
And then our feet become the wheels
And then the wheels become the cars
And then the rigs begin to drill
Until the drilling goes too far

Things can go bad
And make you want to run away
But as we grow older
The horizon begins to fade, fade, fade
Fade away

Thingamajigsaw puzzled
Anger don't you step too close
Because people are lonely and only
Animals with fancy shoes
Hallelujahs zig zag nothing
Misery it's on the loose
Because people are lonely and only
Animals with too many tools
That can build all the junk that we sell
Aw sometimes man makes you want to yell

Things can go bad
And make you want to run away
But as we grow older
The horizon begins to fade away
Fade Away
Fade, fade, fade
Fade, fade, fade

Here's an observation worth noting: There will be a lot of people in the world calling for an end to nuclear powerplants because of the unrelated BP experience. Fear can give a lot of dumb people and politicians dangerous power and ideas in our technological world. I expect a lot of dumb decisions will be made during this decade and Mankind will be worse off. Perhaps we should begin reviewing films like "Planet of the Apes" and others, because it appears that rather than solving problems we will be spinning our wheels and spending time on public relations and elections. I used to joke with my daughter when I saw her punching the computer keyboard, "There will come a day when a child can push a button on a key board and it will blow up the world." How we solve the BP crisis and other technological challenges will determine what kind of a world we will live in. Keep your eyes on both the BP and nuclear issue; they are in fact related.


You start out your post by saying "There will be a lot of people in the world calling for an end to nuclear powerplants because of the unrelated BP experience."

You finish up by saying "Keep your eyes on both the BP and nuclear issue; they are in fact related."

They are indeed related. The "BP experience", and any number of other f**ups, show that at certain levels of complexity and physical challenge, we can expect "accidents". So now the "impossible" has happened, and the GOM is going take a huge hit. Very large numbers of people are going to have their livelihoods taken away, and a very important ecosystem is going to be a mess for decades. This is a really, really big deal. You only need one of these to make you wonder... you would think. Actually, it seems need many of these, for there have been many "spills" over the years, and still we do this. And you know damned well that anyone who raised the possibility of this happening was told it was impossible. This is true of just about every environmental catastrophe you can think of.

I do not think that fear is at all an unreasonable reaction to the hubris of the technopollyannas. Stuff can and does go horribly wrong. The real world is messy and surprising. And as the technology gets more and more grandiose, the consequences of things going wrong are truly wretched. As we are seeing right now in the Gulf.

So your little preemptive "fear can give a lot of dumb people and politicians dangerous power and ideas in our technological world" rings extremely hollow to me. In fact it sounds like classic industry shilling. It's high time that fear made people stop and think about what is going on. And you can lay off the "dumb people" crap - that is condescension of the rankest order.

To SGAGE -- Thanks for your reply. If you read the observations carefully, it was designed to stimulate a legitimate dialogue and cover both sides of the issue and elicit responses like yours, and hopefully, others on the other side. As a supporter of nuclear powerplants in principle, I believe that the BP disaster shows that the Jane Fonda -Jack Lemon scenario, supported by the Russian and Three Mile Island episodes, require a lot of soul searching. Add to the mix a potential terrorist threat to any nuclear power plant, and we have the formula for a lot of problems that did not exist a century ago. For what it is worth, I am down in Costa Rica where environmental issues are deemed extremely important. Thanks for your response. I am predicting that the BP disaster will spell the end of future nuclear power plant projects and for a good reason. Follow the news during the coming year. The BP disaster will quickly focus attention on nuclear power.

Hello TNO,

Who knows how this will play out. I am beginning to think that nuclear power plants are a future technology whose time has past. The complexity, the costs, the resources, the uncertainties about what to do with the waste, etc. leads me to think maybe there is not going to be a huge nuclear "renaissance".

I am not knee-jerk opposed to nuclear power - but I did take exception to the notion that fear was somehow not a valid response to, not only nuclear, but grandiose techno-fixes in general. You can call it fear, or you can call it common sense - look at the history of these things. To be opposed to some of the schemes being put forward is anything but dumb. It is prudent, it is the precautionary principle. Because of the consequences when things go wrong on these scales.

And things always go wrong. Whether it's cost-cutting, hubris, incompetence, corporate greed, whatever. Somehow, the things we were told were impossible end up happening. "Blow Out Preventer" my ass. What's up with that? Was it a tech failure? Was it willfully ignoring known problems with the installation? Was it stupidity? Who cares! It happened, with consequences that will ramify in many directions, as you suspect.

Anyway, thanks for your civil reply. We live in interesting times, eh?

It is prudent, it is the precautionary principle. Because of the consequences when things go wrong on these scales.

Well said, sgage.

Note to The Nuclear Observer. A few days ago, "Here in Halifax", a.k.a. Paul, had a thread on the retrofitting of the Point Lepreau Plant in New Brunswick, Canada. One of the themes in that discussion centered around the cost of nuclear electrical generation. Atomic energy is best suited for economies of scale. You need large markets to bring down unit cost; otherwise, it is less than practical.

Both big and small thinking will be required to get us out of this energy mess. I agree: there will be some linkage (especially political) made between unrelated events like GoM with the risk of nuclear generation.

It will be interesting to see what policy makers and utilities will opt for so as to meet energy needs ahead. What is less than viable for today may be seen as most promising for tomorrow.


However, the thing to remember in addition to - not instead of - all this is that life was exceedingly dangerous long before anyone ever heard of nuclear fission or blowout preventers. In spite of it all, never before have so many people - percentagewise - lived such long lives, and even in many places that, relatively speaking, remain awful. Life was never "safe" in the currently fashionable utopian sense of zero risk. (Find a really old cemetery and meditate there on the incredible waste of life in the good-old-days.) In other words human beings have never lived in anything but "interesting times". (And if anyone reading this is delusional enough to think the nobility were exempt, check out, say, the sordid history of the Tower of London.)

A big difference nowdays is, of course, communication. In the horse-and-buggy days, hardly anybody would ever have heard about it if 11, or 110, went down at sea, in a world of under a billion. Nowadays we might hear about such an incident anywhere in a much larger world, of seven billion, and we almost certainly would hear of it if it involved an airplane. No wonder we're in a constant panic that we're all going to die by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, even though on the whole we're immensely "safer" than ever.

Truly, it seems to drive us nuts. So we go flat-out bonkers over the 11 lives lost on the exploded rig - after all, they were lost spectacularly all at once, with the teevee showing lots of genuinely scary fire pictures. But amidst all the hysterically apocalyptic yammering, silence, nary a peep, about maybe 350 lives* that might have been lost in the course of consuming what the well might have produced. No sir, those would be lost anonymously one or a few at a time. That type of loss has been commonplace - beneath notice - from time immemorial, and far more prevalent in even the recent past than now.

And yet the silence may not be entirely inappropriate. One weighs risks against benefits or else one cannot even chance getting out of bed in the morning. Tradeoffs, always tradeoffs. Deal with it: never Utopia, never a dull moment, never a Platonically-ideal course, never the zero of risk; always the chance of a storm or a rogue wave, always non-zero risk - and above all always "interesting times".
*Back of the virtual envelope WAG: call it 20,000b/d for 10 years. 73 million barrels, enough to supply the USA for 3½ days, time enough for 350 traffic deaths at 100/day.

I used to be able to predict the weather around here, at least to a little bit more than just guessing. But lately the cloud flow patterns have been weird, Normally the storms flow in from the southwest going Northeast. But a few days ago they were coming in from the north, Today they are coming in from the northeast going southwest.

We are still working out where to put up some more guttering and rain barrels, wanting to catch as much rain as we can. But having just gotten the siding put on, and the new energy eff. windows put in, the cost of someone hanging gutter is a bit much for my parent's budget. We did set up a gutter off one side of the big shed (barn like roof line, with second level inside). Today was the first rain test for the gutter.

But the summer heating showers are here, which is a normal thing in these parts, just not the directional flow of the storms. Odd weather after last year where we set an all time record for rain fall, over 85 inches, one city nearby getting 100 inches of rain, tropical almost.

Without some more rain, I'll be running shy of caught rain soon, guess I'll not have to water in the morning because of this evening's wet surprise.

Nice to go walking barefoot outside in the rain, even if it was just a sprinkle. Then again I have gone native mostly, as I normally go barefoot, even when doing construction projects in the yard. It is nice to walk in the clover that way.

Hope the thoughts put a bit of cheer in the hearts of folks.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Here in New Hampshire (where you could never predict the weather anyway), we have been having what I call a "stealth drought". It's Spring, the trees are all green and nice, and you look around and think all is well. But any gardener will tell you that the soil is bone dry. I did a lot of watering today.

Last year we were soggy and waterlogged, and the tomatoes all got blight. I look at my last 3 decades of garden journals, and it almost seems like BAU. Usual being "anything goes". We've had our last frost in June, or in April. We've had our first frost in August, or in October. That's a pretty huge variability!

Anyway, gardening is not a sport for the faint of heart around here!

BTW, I'm a pretty hardcore barefooter too. Alas that I can go striding through the white clover nowadays without fear of a bee sting. I used to get stung several times a year, but not in the past couple three years. I miss the honeybees.

We have bees, both honey bees and bumble, I can see a lot of the bee pollan on their back legs.

I watch where I step, and have set paths through the clover stands, and dad keeps from mowing them on orders from me, smiles, I'd love to get it growing in all the yard, it has expanded since I moved back in May of 2006.

I think the honey bees are from a wild hive, this area isn't known to have bee keepers. They aren't as numerous as I once saw, but they are more than last year and the year before, so I am hopeful, and its one reason the clover is staying.

I have been gardering here off and on for since 1977, most other places I have been I grew something, even if it was in containers. I did sideline for a while in tropical fish breeding and plants for tanks and Betta Jars( gallon jars with Java Fern in them ), it was a busy online sales of plants, and micro-food cultures.

Best of luck for your garden this year.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Hope the thoughts put a bit of cheer in the hearts of folks.

Sure did.

Btw, where do you call home?


Central Arkansas, The north end of North Little Rock, about a mile from North Little Rock airport for small planes, and 8 miles north of the Arkansas river. There is an odd micro-climate here, We have a hill to the west, and are a bit sheltered from the north winds.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Charles, sounds like a great place. Micro-climates are a fascinating phenomenon.

Where I live is near one of the top five agricultural areas of Canada - in the Avon Valley at the gateway to Nova Scotia's fertile Annapolis Valley. It is where the French settlers known as Acadians made their home for well over a century before being expelled by the British during the Seven Years War. Besides having lots of history and (due to tidal marshes) great soil it has a distinct climate owing to ranges of hills on either side. Whereas the rest of Nova Scotia can be buried under snow or drenched in rain, the Valley can be dry as a bone, or conversely wet when everywhere else is sunny. Summers tend to be warm and the growing season extended by at least a month to that of the surrounding territory. A few weeks ago the countryside was brilliant with apple blossoms. Now we are starting to see the first shoots of green coming up in the plowed fields.

I'm one of the truly lucky ones in that, if push came to shove, a hundred mile diet is a feasible option. In fact, I could procure almost all my food within a ten mile radius of where I live.

U-Pick operations are available close by for apples, beans, beets, blackberries, blueberries, carrots, cherries, sweet corn, onions, pears, peaches, plums, pumpkins, raspberries, and strawberries. Hardly a weekend goes by in the late summer summer when you can't go and harvest something. It's great.

A nice spot to kick off your shoes and go barefoot. Just like Arkansas. Cheers! Tom

Sounds like a great place to be... I'm having a hard time imagining a thriving U-Pick business with the beets though : 8*P

Many people round here pickle their own beets and beet tops are a popular green. Other than getting your hands a little dirty, they're not difficult to pull from the ground.

They are one of the easiest crops to grow and thus their popularity at U-Pick farms.

I grow beets in my own backyard garden and they proliferate despite my worst efforts. Every year I end up giving away much of my harvest. I donate part of my bounty to one of the local nursing homes. They have a pickling day when they involve as many residents as possible. It's fun and a way to include everyone even those who suffer dementia. They may no longer remember their sons or daughters, but they sure know how to cook beets in vinegar.


I was about to add to Runeshades comment that pickles are the best way to eat beets. But you beat me to it. Even if the cans of beets aren't in vinegar we add our own while heating them up.

I like beet greens, in face most greens for that matter.

Radish greens can add a hot tang to your salads of cooked mixed greens.

Collards, spinach, beet, chard, turnip, and dozens of other leafy greens or fleshy stemed and leafed plants are all on my list of wants to be added to my growing plans, If only I can convince my dad to co-op that one sunny spot of front lawn I'd have more growing space.

Going to have the first cooked swiss chard sometime soon, it's been ages since I have grown it.

Hugs from Arkansas,
BioWebScape designs for better fed and housed future.


'Bank of Florida’s Lenders Closed as Bank Failures Climb to 78'

U.S. banks are collapsing amid losses on residential and commercial real estate loans, and the FDIC’s list of “problem” lenders is the longest since 1992. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said this month the agency’s confidential list of “problem” banks grew to 775 banks in the first quarter.

Thirteen banks in Florida, six in California and two in Nevada have now been closed by regulators since the beginning of the year, the FDIC said.