Drumbeat: May 30, 2010

BP's top kill effort fails to plug Gulf oil leak

The most ambitious bid yet to stop the worst oil spill in U.S. history ended in failure Saturday after BP was unable to overwhelm the gusher of crude with heavy fluids and junk. President Obama called the setback "as enraging as it is heartbreaking."

The oil giant immediately began readying its next attempted fix, using robot submarines to cut the pipe that's gushing the oil and cap it with funnel-like device, but the only guaranteed solution remains more than two months away.

The company determined the "top kill" had failed after it spent three days pumping heavy drilling mud into the crippled well 5,000 feet underwater. It's the latest in a series of failures to stop the crude that's fouling marshland and beaches, as estimates of how much oil is leaking grow more dire.

Deepwater Horizon Response: BP Halts “Top Kill” Attempt; Lays Out Next Steps

The President issued the following statement: Today, I’ve spoken with National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and senior White House advisors John Brennan and Carol Browner regarding the ongoing efforts to stop the BP oil spill. From the beginning, our concern has been that the surest way to stop the flow of oil – the drilling of relief wells – would take several months to complete. So engineers and experts have explored a variety of alternatives to stop the leak now. They had hoped that the top kill approach attempted this week would halt the flow of oil and gas currently escaping from the seafloor. But while we initially received optimistic reports about the procedure, it is now clear that it has not worked. Rear Admiral Mary Landry today directed BP to launch a new procedure whereby the riser pipe will be cut and a containment structure fitted over the leak.

This approach is not without risk and has never been attempted before at this depth. That is why it was not activated until other methods had been exhausted. It will be difficult and will take several days. It is also important to note that while we were hopeful that the top kill would succeed, we were also mindful that there was a significant chance it would not. And we will continue to pursue any and all responsible means of stopping this leak until the completion of the two relief wells currently being drilled.

As I said yesterday, every day that this leak continues is an assault on the people of the Gulf Coast region, their livelihoods, and the natural bounty that belongs to all of us. It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimized by this manmade disaster are made whole.

Whitehouse Blog: The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill

Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion the night of April 20, federal authorities, both military and civilian, have been working onsite and around the clock to respond to and mitigate the impact of the resulting BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

We have compiled this chronology in the spirit of transparency so the American people can have a clear understanding of what their government has been and is doing to respond to the massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

Ever Rising Political Stakes for Obama

Mr. Obama last week said the disaster should spur action in Congress to enact measures to cut the economy's consumption of oil—part of broader legislation aimed at attacking climate change. But the climate issue is stalled in the Senate, in part because expanding offshore oil exploration was a key provision meant to attract Republican support.

Mr. Obama says he still believes offshore oil exploration is necessary as a bridge to a future when motor vehicles—the main consumers of petroleum—run on alternative fuels. But on Thursday he ordered a six-month moratorium on new offshore drilling, saying he was wrong to believe oil industry assurances that a disaster such as this couldn't happen.

A spill that continues fouling the Gulf through the summer, threatening Florida beaches and rich Louisiana fisheries, appears more likely to embolden opponents of offshore drilling, some of whom have pledged to filibuster the climate bill unless the provisions on offshore drilling are eliminated.

Q&A: Federal official discusses how oil cleanup happens and who pays for it

Q: Where do the lines of authority and responsibility run for cleaning up oil spills like the one in the gulf?

A: Typically, when a spill is of this magnitude or if there is significant damage to natural resources, a "unified command" will be set up. It will consist of a federal on-scene coordinator, and for all marine spills the Coast Guard takes that role. The state on-scene coordinator will be involved, and then the "responsible party" -- the company that spilled the oil or has control of the structure that the oil is coming out of. The federal on-scene coordinator, in my experience, has always had at least 51 percent of the vote, but it is very definitely a collaborative effort.

Our Fix-It Faith and the Oil Spill

“IF we’ve learned anything so far about the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, it is that it contains surprises. And that means an operator needs depth — depth in terms of resources and expertise — to create the capability to respond to the unexpected. ”

These prophetic words came from a 2005 presentation by David Eyton, who was then vice president for BP’s deepwater developments in the Gulf of Mexico. Reprinted that year in a journal of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the speech acknowledged that oil companies “did somewhat underestimate the full nature of the challenges we were taking on in the deep waters of the gulf.”

Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig

WASHINGTON — Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon rig far earlier than those the company described to Congress last week.

The problems involved the well casing and the blowout preventer, which are considered critical pieces in the chain of events that led to the disaster on the rig.

The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.

AP ENTERPRISE: Spill grew, BP's credibility faded

At nearly every step since the Deepwater Horizon exploded more than a month ago, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history, rig operator BP PLC has downplayed the severity of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

"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."

Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP's Deepwater Horizon rig last month.

Florida beaches oil-pollution free for Memorial Day

Favorable currents and winds continued to keep the oil catastrophe away from Florida's shores, the state reported Saturday, saying the first possibility of contamination was 72 hours away.

``Currently, there have been no confirmed oil impacts to Florida's more than 1,260 miles of coastline and 825 miles of sandy beaches,'' said an 11 a.m. update from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

Rightwing group seeks to strip climate change from US classrooms

And so to Mesa County in Colorado where this week the first labour pains of what seems to be the birth of a new movement in the US were felt. Dozens of protesters attended a meeting of School District 51's Board of Education to hand over two petitions aimed at keeping political views out of the county's classrooms.

The board of education will now mull over the issues raised by the petitions, but the episode serves to expose the rising tide within rightwing circles in the US to suppress the teaching of "liberal" issues such as climate change in schools. Or if it can't be suppressed, then at least some "balance" should be applied.

For example, Balanced Education for Everyone heavily promotes the showing of Phelim McAleer's Not Evil Just Wrong as a counterpoint to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. McAleer is an agitating Irish filmmaker who views climate change as "junk science" and who – as was the case with Martin Durkin's The Great Global Warming Swindle – has been accused by climate scientists of misrepresenting their views through the manipulative editing of interviews. (For example, look at McAleer's edit of his exchange last December with Professor Stephen Schneider, and then look at the unedited exchange.)

States passing budget cuts onto local governments

Associated Press Writer= JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Confronted with severe revenue shortfalls, some states have found a convenient way of softening painful cutbacks and avoiding statewide tax increases: They've passed the buck to their counterparts in cities and counties.

Traditionally, many states help bear the cost of jailing inmates, paving roads, running libraries and providing other services in local areas. Now, states are paring back their payments, leaving local leaders to decide how to make up the difference.

Internet helps Americans save more energy every year

The rate at which the United States is becoming more energy-efficient has soared since 1995, when the computer-based Internet and communications revolution began soaking into US society.

That conclusion – from a groundbreaking study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) last week – stands in sharp contrast to recent concerns that the computer backbone of the Internet was gobbling up huge amounts of energy.

Indeed, all America's servers – the computers that direct traffic on the Internet – and the systems that cool them use about 1.2 percent of the nation's electricity, according to a study last year. That's still a lot of power, comparable to the energy used by color TVs in the US.

India will become energy-independent: Kakodkar

“I can visualise a day when India will not only be energy-independent but also helping other countries. I hope that happens in my lifetime,” said eminent nuclear scientist and former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar on Saturday exuding confidence about the wider significance of the historic U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal.

Rising costs mean more money for PG&E

Selling more electricity does not bring in more money for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. But investing in its transmission and delivery system does.

PG&E also earns money by keeping certain costs below the level approved by the state Public Utilities Commission, and by meeting various policy goals set by commissioners.

Fisker raises equity, says to launch car soon

LOS ANGELES, May 29 (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive said on Saturday it has raised $35 million of private equity to close a $189 million funding round that will allow the company to launch its plug-in hybrid electric car.

Fisker is also developing a second, lower-cost rechargeable vehicle it expects to start building in 2012. That sedan is expected to sell for some $47,400 before a U.S. tax credit to consumers of $7,500.

Deadly tropical storm hits Central America

(CNN) -- Tropical Storm Agatha unleashed torrential rains over Guatemala, southeast Mexico and much of El Salvador, triggering flash floods and mud slides.

The tropical storm, the first of the Pacific season, left at least 12 people dead and another 11 missing in Guatemala, the UK Press Association reported, citing National Disaster Relief Coordinator spokesman David de Leon.

Ecuador volcanic eruption calms

An eruption by Ecuador's Throat of Fire volcano abated on Saturday, leading authorities to start allowing 2,500 evacuees to return home and announce plans to reopen a major airport later in the day.

"The volcano has lowered its intensity... there is less ash," said Sandra Vaca, an official at Ecuador's Geophysical Institute.

Shell brushes off Alaska setback with $5B Marcellus buy

On the rebound! Royal Dutch Shell brushed off the Obama administration's decision yesterday to block their Alaska offshore drilling plans with a big buy in the Marcellus Shale. Shell grabbed East Resources and its 650,000 acres in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for $4.7 billion.

The Marcellus is the biggest natural gas field in the United States, containing more than 500 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and stretching across three states. But in terms of development, the Marcellus is in its infancy. A recent report from Penn State figures that while Pennsylvania today produces just 500 million cubic feet of gas a day. With the development of Marcellus shale gas that could grow to more than 13 billion cubic feet a day, and create more than 200,000 jobs in the process.

The Impact of the Irrelevant on Decision-Making

TEXTBOOK economic models assume that people are well informed about all the options they’re considering. It’s an absurd claim, of course, as most economists are well aware.

Even so, when people confront opportunities to improve their position, they’re generally quick to seize them. When energy prices rise sharply, for instance, consumers are quick to adjust their thermostats. So most economists are content with a slightly weaker assumption: that people respond in approximately rational ways to the information available to them.

But behavioral research now challenges even that more limited claim. For example, even patently false or irrelevant information often affects choices in significant ways.

Video: Explaining Europe’s Debt Crisis

As fear continues to spread over the impact of the Greek debt crisis, more people are questioning how such a small country could impact markets around the world.

Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig (Internal documents)

If this is true, then it is hard to imagine BP surviving the fallout, despite how big the company is. Seemingly lost in all of this are the deaths of the rig workers. Surely, this would be a criminal act....perhaps of negligence regardless of the heartbreaking spill.

Remembering the film, Erin Brockovich, I suppose anything is possible.

Thought I was non-religious but praying now for an end to this spill nightmare....... Paul

The article Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig mentions several things of concern.

It looked like they almost had a blow out previously, and were operating with a BOP that because of known deficiencies, was only being tested to a low pressure level. The report says:

On at least three occasions, BP records indicate, the blowout preventer was leaking fluid, which the manufacturer of the device has said limits its ability to operate properly.

It does make one wonder about the whole operation, and why there there wasn't more examination of problems earlier.

It does make one wonder about the whole operation, and why there there wasn't more examination of problems earlier.

My guess -and I want to emphasize that I have no insider knowledge of BP whatsoever, is corporate mangement pressure to financially perform. Many corps manage divisions as their own profit/loss centers. Obviously deep water drilling has been seriously underperforming, just look at Thunderhorse. So I suspect that BP deepwater was under a great deal of pressure, "why should we continue with a money losing division? If you don't start showing a profit it will be time for downsizing etc". Such pressures -if they were present, could create a risk taking environment -better bring this well in under budget or I am toast.

"Net Export Math" & Government Spending

The premise behind the Export Land Model (ELM) is that as production falls in an oil exporting country, the exporting country's own domestic consumption will tend to increase as a percentage of production, leading to a long term accelerating rate of decline in net oil exports. Given a production decline in an oil exporting country, if that country does not cut its consumption at the same rate that production declines, or at a faster rate than the production decline, then the resulting net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

I've speculated that we might see something similar in regard to government spending, to-wit, as tax revenue falls, the money and services "exported" out of governments will tend to fall at an accelerating rate as government consumption of revenue tends to increase with time, as tax revenue falls--especially as governments have more trouble borrowing to maintain spending levels. So, taxpayers would tend to see an accelerating rate of decline in popular government programs, even as governments try to raise taxes.

With that as a background, I thought that this recent column about the City of Dallas library system was interesting.

Library budget cuts a sad story for all of Dallas

Once upon a time, the Dallas Public Library boasted a $32 million annual budget. Those were the good old days. Unfortunately, those days are long gone – siphoned off by a revenue drought that, once again, has the city dipping into every well it can find to fill a projected $130 million budget gap.

It's a familiar storyline, to be sure – one that's playing out in cities across the state and the nation.

But the Dallas library, once a sacred cow of sorts, is beginning to feel more like a sacrificial lamb in the city's numbers-crunching game. The library's budget was cut to $28 million two years ago. Last year, the city tapped it for $6 million more in cuts. This year, city officials are looking to drain up to $9 million from the library's bottom line, which would drop it to as low as $13 million next fiscal year.

It looks like the library budget cuts look something like this:

2007-2008: $32 million to $28 million (-13%/year)

2007-2009: $32 million to $22 million (-19%/year)

2007-2010: $32 million to $13 million (-30%/year)

What would be interesting would be to examine overall City of Dallas G&A expenses, especially pension & health care costs, plus debt service, over this same time period.

People read in Dallas? Just kidding.
I judge a community by their library-- whether it be a small town, or a large city.
It is almost always a reflection of the quality of life.

Bookmobile every 2 weeks? A real libe 25 miles away.

makes me wonder specifically what you think about Dallas, since JFK was shot from a Book Depository in Dallas. ;)

I judge a community by their library-- whether it be a small town, or a large city.

I'll put the Seattle Public Library up against any other system in the nation:

Residents: 572 thousand
Volumes: 2 million
Circulation: 11 million items/year
Budget: $51 million

In 2008 we finished major renovations to the central and many branch libraries that were funded by a 1998 Libraries for All bond issue.

This city library is also helped out by the non-profit Seattle Public Library Foundation which funds 20% of all the materials purchased each year.

Yes, there are current budget issues and some furlough days but Seattlites are extremely supportive of their community owned library and parks systems -- a shining example of how community ownership can make for a wonderful experience for everyone. (I suppose it also helps that our population is largely well educated, middle class and that we have lots of rainy days.)

If you want to experience what a library system can be when it is well loved, visit Seattle.

Best Hopes for community owned resources.


Wonder if it's a "medium-sized western cities" thing?

Denver Public Library, 2008 figures
Residents: 592,052
Items in Collection: 2.38 million
Items loaned: 9.78 million
Budget: $31.4 million

The Denver Public Library has made a number of "Top 10" list for best public libraries in various categories. DPL is also part of an excellent inter-library loan system that includes all of the research universities in Colorado and Wyoming.

When it comes to budget cuts at the local level, libraries are always one of the first things to go because they are "discretionary" and paid out of the general fund. Libraries that have created a revenue stream through room rentals and such services will be spared a bit longer. Many libraries could no longer function without volunteers. Several years ago we cut funding for a nature center and eliminated the park ranger who staffed it. Residents stepped forward and not only operate the facility but have completely transformed it into a jewel of the county complete with docents for the thousands of school children who visit monthly--Shipley Nature Center for those interested in visiting or volunteering.

Salaries and benefits on the other hand, as I'm sure you know, are contractual and the only way to cut those is with furloughs and lay-offs (or ultimately bankruptcies). Water and sewer and such "fee based" services are the last to be cut because, at least in California, are the only "fees" we can raise without voter approval. Local government is in a box canyon with no place to go. Community members who want to hang on to services they treasure are going to have to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.

My daughter is trying to get a full time teaching position in a local state college. Because of budget cutbacks they are eliminating temporary full time positions (full benefits & salary) and going with a small full time staff and a large contingent of adjunct professors paid on an hourly basis, with no benefits. I've told her that she is basically trying to get on the "Last helicopter out of Saigon," i.e., one of the last full time positions to be awarded, for a long, long time, maybe forever.

Dividing an expanding economic pie was difficult enough, but dividing a shrinking economic is a real blood sport. I told my daughter that an announcement of a 5% overall cutback in state spending was the start, not the end of government cutbacks, and the governor just told state agencies to come up with plans for another 10% cutback.

It has typically been a blood sport but more and more I am hearing about negotiations where union groups are agreeing to reducing salaries so that their colleagues can keep their jobs. During the depression my grandfather worked for the railroad and a similar thing happened. At this stage, IMO, it is important to keep as many people (and at least one per household) employed as possible even if at a reduced wage.

Of course there are more cuts coming, more government bankruptcies, the big disconnect is that those who are suffering the most don't understand the fundamentals--all they know is they are hurting. If there were a broader understanding then I think there would be more of a "we're in this together" attitude.

more I am hearing about negotiations where union groups are agreeing to reducing salaries so that their colleagues can keep their jobs.

Wish we could see more of this behavior by union groups

Wish we could see more of this behavior by union groups

And I'm sure they would like to see it in management and from shareholders on dividends. What do you think the odds are?


If it is clear that the choice is between bankruptcy and a pay cut the unions will at least consider the pay cut. But it also depends upon the management. If the unions don't trust the management, they might choose to believe that the management is making the whole thing up to get the members to take a pay cut. Or if management votes itself a pay raise, the unions aren't likely to offer to give themselves a haircut.

Ultimately the cuts need to be spread to everyone in the organization from top to bottom. From the CEO all the way to the janitor. And there can't be any BS about this - the management can't then turn around and undo their own cut after 6-months.

As some people are cut to low hours they find that they are living closer to a paycheck to paycheck world. That constrains their spending, which lowers the taxes the state and locals get. The spiral is headed down, and won't get better for a while, if ever.

I saw it when we had a the big influx of homeless people coming through the system in 2009, lots of lost souls, with confusion a big issue. The food pantries are running dry faster, and some that offered twice a month are out in the first run through.

I have a friend who has been running the Little Rock RiverFront Park for about 17 years, He is the hands on guy, not the suits in city government, but he has had to cut back to where most of the time he is the only one that is full time now. They can't loss him, he knows most of the blades of grass on a first name basis. Waves to Kevin.

It gets harder and harder as the monies dry up to fund some of the programs the cities have grown to love, and people pitching in is great. When the people in Government start willingly taking pay cuts to save other workers their jobs, we'll be doing something good as well.

On another thread someone said the POTUS should ride a bike. When I put in my hat locally in my bid for the job last election, I was running on the platform of making the 7.25$/hr wages that they asked everyone else to run work on.

There are lots of people that only hire you at the low wage of $7.25 an hour, if they don't find a way to pay you cash and get your labor for less.

But honestly most people can't live on only $7.25 an hour, unless they are single and no child. Just one more link to the trend of the middle class falling toward the bottom, and there only being two classes of people, rich and poor.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

" they are eliminating temporary full time positions (full benefits & salary) and going with a small full time staff and a large contingent of adjunct professors "

That has been SOP for quite a while in my neck of the woods. Our funding has been cut mid-year and now the one full-time position we were hoping to fill is going to go to a rotation of adjuncts instead.

That's one less "helicoptor out of Saigon" for our college ;) (Love that metaphors WT).

(note, earlier this year I told our Dean we faculty should voluntarily take a 10% pay cut, to act as an example, hoping the admin people would do the same... the Dean told me to keep my idea to myself or risk being lynched by my fellow faculty. everywhere there's lots of piggies, living piggies lives...)

My daughter also suggested the 10% pay cut idea to her Dean, and got a similar response.

Because of budget cutbacks they are eliminating temporary full time positions (full benefits & salary) and going with a small full time staff and a large contingent of adjunct professors paid on an hourly basis, with no benefits.

I just got finished watching Michael Moore's Capitolism: A Love Story, and early in the film there is an expose' on pilots wages. After that famed landing in NY harbor, the hero pilot was asked to come before the Senate, but what they didn't expect was he told them he would steer his kids away from such a career. Not only had his wages been cut to the bone, but they had eliminated his retirement. They of course sat there stone-faced with zero response.

Other stories were of pilots making in the low twenty thousands, working 2nd jobs, one that even sold his plasma to make ends meat.

There was a plane crash the film talks about, in which the pilot and co-pilot are discussing their jobs - how little they make and the plane crashes and everyone on board died. The news at the time only reported they were discussing their jobs, not the details of their discussion.

I think you nailed it with the last helicopter out of Saigon. All aboard who can get on. We can only take so many! Hurry! Don't get left behind at the end of the age of oil!!


I was an aviator for the military...airlines used to be a big draw for military pilots...now with the universal two-tier salary structures don't be shocked to know that your brand new shiny commuter prop job pilot (fresh out of a civilian commercial flight school) may be starting as low as $19K per year (No surprise to any who reads Aviation Week or similar industry mags).

Hell, if my daughter worked full time at her current Starbucks job she would gross about $18K per year.

There are still lots of seasoned old hats at the yoke/stick esp. on the bigger jets, but over time the experience level of the fleet pilot corps may likely decrease a good bit...

Hold on tight, folks!

don't be shocked to know that your brand new shiny commuter prop job pilot (fresh out of a civilian commercial flight school) may be starting as low as $19K per year

Does the pilot ecology resemble the baseball player ecology? Lots of wannabe's earning subsistence pay in the minors hoping for a chance to join the big leagues. Or, are new airliner pilots also getting seriously shortchanged?

My wife's university in Missouri is doing the same thing, except, of course, the athletic departments.

Same thing going on in Canada. Few faculty hires, just temporary positions. Bad for students: no continuity or course development, but chairs and deans are trying to paper over financial structural cracks this way.

No disrespect here, but you have spoken as a true government employee. We hear this gobbledygook every day now.

How many government employees took a cut in benefits during the time the "residents", meaning taxpayers, had to step forward?

Furloughs and layoffs of the bloated ranks of government is a very good thing. If "community members", meaning taxpayers, want to hang on to services, they need to start by dumping the government employment ranks. How much were you paid by the taxpayers when you cut funding for the nature center? Vehicle for personal use? Health care? I bet....

Just look to the current problem in the Gulf, our well paid government employees sure have been doing their job of oversight....Yes. the "community members" down in the Gulf are sure as hell rolling up their sleeves, but it will not only be to pitch in....the are rolling up their sleeves for a fight. One that has been a long time coming. I would not want to be a government employee down there..

I was watching a Santa Barbara County budget hearing of the Board of Supervisors (elected council) a couple of months ago. Turns out these supervisors had signed sweetheart union contracts that had the various unions getting 3-4+% raises each year thru the last few years and into next year. The non-union managers were getting salary freezes and benefit cuts. The union members were not feeling the effects and instead were experiencing rising living standards.

This happens while the state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and lots of people not in government are cutting pay cuts, benefits cuts, and laid off.

I am hoping more cities go into bankruptcy so that more judges do the cutting that elected officials aren't capable of doing. The elected officials are in the pockets of the unions.

I suppose in the economic climate of 2007, everyone assumed the gravy train would keep going, and granting annual increases didn't seem that stupid.

But you are right - it won't be until the cities go into bankruptcy that these contracts can be voided.

One problem...the Republicans by and large have been very very hostile to too much government regulation (their perception of it anyway).

Now a lot of the same folks who preached Reagan's mantra "The scariest words I have ever heard were: 'I'm from the government I'm here to help'"...now want the government to ride in on its white horse and save the day...at the same time Rand Paul bitches out the administration for 'putting its boot on BP's Neck' as being 'un-American'.

A little consistency would be nice.

I worked for the State of Minnesota beginning in 1995 and ending in January of 2009. I was a member of the professional employees union in the state and while I got to the top of my pay scale quickly, I never progressed beyond that level. From 2000 until I left the state, I was at the top of my pay scale and only received the raises that the legislature saw as necessary. Four of those years included pay freezes and the rest included paltry raises of about 1.5% which meant a pay cut in real spending terms. The reason given by my boss the governor was that real people were hurting and state employees should too. Well I did. When I left state employment I was making about $53,000/year and I was one of the better paid ones.

I went to work for the Federal Govt. and it is like night and day. Treated well and making far more than I would have with the state. I have no regrets.

It is always easy to look for scapegoats when times get tough. Maybe you should be looking at the overpaid corporate managers and executives. Corporations could certainly cut back on their profits right? Oh, and the investors who demand increases in their stock portfolio for doing basically..........nothing. Can't they take less too?

Yes, truly amazing.

You felt underpaid at $53,000 a year? Probably with all the guv holidays, vaca days, sick time and comp time, you just might have had to work all of 11 months a year, with good bene's? Then you jump to the biggest waste of money, the Fed? More than likely, more money, more vaca and better bene's

You are really clueless as to why the men with pitchforks are coming up the road to pay you a visit?

None so blind, as those who WILL not see....

Yes. truly amazing.

That was pretty much the response I expected.

Underpaid at $53,000? Depends on where you live. If I was to live in the Twin Cities, I would probably not even qualify for a mortgage of any size. In fact, I did live near the Twin Cities for eight years. With two incomes, we could only afford to live 45 miles outside of the cities and commute in every day. I guarantee that $53,000 dollars will go nowhere in expensive places like San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Depends on where you live. After taxes and deductions, I cleared about $38,000. Still sound like a lot?

Martian, I don't know where you live, and really don't care. What I will not do is apologize to you, or any one else for doing the best I can for my family and myself. If you choose to live in poverty, that is your business. I've been there and don't like it one bit.

And please send all the folks with pitchforks that you like.

I am a very good shot and I never miss.

In my small city (upstate NY) the library budget is separate from the municipal budget and is voted on separately. They just went through a major capital project with improvements and several new branches. The proposed tax increase for this year is 4%. It will be interesting to see the results.

As to the budget/wage/pension problems around the country, it looks like a hard rain is beginning to fall. The auto workers have agreed to a "haircut" and government and other workers will be next. I'm a recently retired state employee so it's easy to sit and watch. I feel for those who will have to deal with the problem. However, at least around here, many state employees have no idea how well off they are as compared to many in the private sector. Decent wages, excellent health plan, very excellent pension. If they do not look at the reality around them they may end up like the steel industry in the 70's.

I'm originally from the western PA area and spent the summer of '66 working as a laborer in a blast furnace for J&L Steel. I started at the lowest entry lavel at a union wage that was four times the minimum wage ("skilled" workers made far more). Management was trying to get concessions but the unions wouldn't budge an inch. In '75 I visited my home, drove by the mill and it was closed with 2,000 jobs gone. Five years later, when I visited, the entire steel mill was GONE, turned into a vacant lot.

If the steel unions had done what the auto workers finally did, some jobs may have been saved. Sometimes the choice is lower paying jobs or no jobs at all. It's a bad situation now and may get worse. The only real solution is for enough of the population to realize that we're all in this together and need to cooperate and sacrifice a bit.

My father's side of the family is from a line of Swiss-German dairy farmers (towards the Pennsylvania Durch end of the spectrum) and they have an old saying: "Many hands make light work". Or in modern lingo, "If everyone does a little no ONE has to do a lot".

I stopped going to church when I went to college (having by that time spent enough time in church to last the rest of my life) but I am praying for the best for all the life in the GOM and adjacent areas.

I always said I wanted to live in interesting times but the last few years have really started pusing the envelope.

I just have to wonder if library funding is a god metric anymore. I think the reason for this doubt comes from the question "To what extent has the intnet replaced the need for public libraries?". I haven't been to the library in years, but I spend a lot of time reading stuff on the internet. Perhaps this transformation has progressed far enough that saving money on libraries makes sense?

I see an even more obvious analogy to WTs ELM applied to government spending at the Federal level. A huge fraction of the government budget goes to contractural obligations -retirement pay, interest on debt, social insurance programs (social security, medicaid, medicare), veterens benefits etc. The lions share of the so-called discretionary spending goes to the sacred cow of defense. So the few percent that is left over recieves a hugely disproportionate share of the pressure to cut. The media haven't tried to dispell the myth, that the federal budget, is mostly welfare and foreign aid. So the workings of the ELMlike wise continue.

A pretty good article that I did not see discussed yesterday.

Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then

M-M: Why do you dismiss the possibility of a smooth transition from oil to other sources, such as solar and wind power or a new, improved generation of nuclear reactors?

JG: I do not dismiss this possibility. The ideal solution would be to electrify everything from road traffic to heating systems, and then produce electricity with whatever energy source is available. But let us not forget that such a technological fix would take a lot of time and investment. Unless the energy descent after peak oil is very smooth indeed, there may simply not be enough time. Alas, technological crash programs are much more difficult under crisis conditions. This is not to deny that solar and wind, as well as nuclear energy, can be helpful in the transition. But the transition is unlikely to be smooth.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron. Yes, thought provoking.

Do you really think people would have an easier time adjusting to peak oil? The world would sorely miss cheap and abundant energy, and liberal democracy would become more and more difficult to sustain. The example of Dixieland shows that it takes a lot of time for the ”new consciousness” to emerge that is necessary for radical social change.

Jorge Friedrichs states the obvious: without fuel, the landing will be hard, fast, and deadly.

Not to hijack the thread, but I am reminded of when I was rock jumping down a mountain side in Wyoming in 1992, I was running hard and falling fast with each jump. But I did have a Stop Rock sighted ahead of me. My girlfriend and her friends were all waving at me below and a few times I was able to wave back while running and jumping down hill. I was having a blast, flying down that hill.

Then I was at my Stop Rock and the jump to it was a dozy, I had to take all the room to the edge to stop myself. I am smiling and laughing and waving at the folks below. Noticing my girl friend on her knees, at the time didn't think anything of it, then I looked for the next rock.

200 feet below me.

Ouch, I lost all my excitement to run down the mountain side some more.

I had to promise never to run down a mountain again.

I took it back up later after we broke up, but I am a bit more careful about planning my routes these days.

Best hopes for a few parachutes out there.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

JG: I do not dismiss this possibility. The ideal solution would be to electrify everything from road traffic to heating systems, and then produce electricity with whatever energy source is available. But let us not forget that such a technological fix would take a lot of time and investment. Unless the energy descent after peak oil is very smooth indeed, there may simply not be enough time. Alas, technological crash programs are much more difficult under crisis conditions. This is not to deny that solar and wind, as well as nuclear energy, can be helpful in the transition. But the transition is unlikely to be smooth.

"Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Obama told the Chronicle . "Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers."Jan2008

I find it interesting that so many are willing to throw large segments of society under the bus to accomplish their dreams of utopia. Including those who will be able to least afford it to begin with. Many who are barely scraping by now, not to mention those still out of work.

Wireline, JG, (Jörg Friedrichs,) is not throwing anyone under the bus. He is just telling it like it is. He is telling us what peak oil will bring.

This is completely nuts! You actually believe that because someone sees Peak Oil leading to Apocalypse that they are doing it? And do you believe by denying that it will happen that you are preventing it?

Let us not have visions of grandeur and let us not bestow such powers on others.

Ron P.

This is completely nuts! You actually believe that because someone sees Peak Oil leading to Apocalypse that they are doing it? And do you believe by denying that it will happen that you are preventing it?

This does seem to be a pretty common (and I fear effective) debate strategy. Any proposed mitigation strategy will impose some shortterm inconviences or costs, so the proposer is attacked as trying to hurt people. Of coursethe true motivation is to tradeoff a smaller amount of nearterm pain, for a lot of (in the unmitigated case) long term pain.

thanks Ron.

Wireline, not all dreams of utopia are throwing anyone in front of the bus.

If that were the case, I'd willingly get out in front of the bus to save someone else. (note up thread I do risky things with mountains and falling, I also play in heavy traffic for fun, Another story, you can find out about in the link to my blog in my profile.)

But back to the point dreams of a better world in my case, tries to save as many people as possible, and reduce population in the long run.

But utopia is a not place. And we are likely to have a dystopia instead, even though dreamers like me still hope that most of the world can have a utopia at the end of the rainbow.

Ideally humans of the future, will have more care and concern for their fellow man, and less selfishness. But again I have grand hopes for something that is not likely to happen on a large scale.

But either way, something is going to give, and someone is going to get hurt in all this, in fact people have all through time been getting hurt by the systems men have invented by the large part.

Hugs from arkansas, maybe spreading hugs will help people feel better toward each other.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, with hugs for all.

The author's comments appear to agree with much of the now "conventional wisdom" around TOD. However, he offers this claim:

After Southern elites lost slavery as the backbone of their way of life [during the U.S. Civil War], it took them at least a century to adjust to the new reality. Why did they not simply embrace industrial capitalism and liberal democracy? Well, I guess it is not so easy to give up one’s lifestyle. Now, imagine that people were to face an energetic downgrade, rather than the upgrade available to Dixieland after the Civil War.

Arguably, the use of slaves made it possible to farm large areas in the pre-Civil War South because the Negro did not suffer as much from the intense untraviolet radiation which can literally cook the skin of people of Northern European extraction. And, the heat and humidity during summer months made indoor work difficult as well. The invention and spread of A/C systems made it possible for folks to cope with the summer's heat in the urban heat islands of Southern cities, invigorating the business and industrial development of the Deep South.

Needless to say, without the energy to run those A/C systems, the South would revert to previous ways of living under the Summer sun. Worse, as the Earth warms and climate changes, the temperatures and humidity are both expected to increase beyond historical limits...

E. Swanson

Slaves weren't any better suited to heat and humidity than anybody else. The trouble the South had was that under American law most poor, desperate people had the choice to live in less climatically abusive places, and exercised it. Air conditioning and industrialization, as you note, made work liveable in the South... but the climate has continued to keep costs low. Even today, it is mostly the poorest people with the least amount of choice who remain in such a fragile economy and such a miserable place.

Slaves weren't any better suited to heat and humidity than anybody else.

I suspect that they were. Having spent the past few thousand years evolution wise in a climate that was hotter and more humid than the US southeast, they ought to have developed some adaptations that Europeans didn't. The most obvious of these was skin color. Supposedly from the getgo the Spanish tried to enslave the native Indians, but they made poor slaves, so they imported Africans, who proved to be more robust. Now that doesn't mean it was easy for the black slaves, just that enslaving them was profitable for the owners, whereas enslaving natives, and poor whites wasn't. It also helped that one could tell at a glance who was an escaped slave.

I don't know if you mean way down south in my neck of the woods or not, I live in central Arkansas, and we have people living in a lot of the southern states here at TOD.

Yeah it gets hot down here, But this evening I have my bedroom window open and the Ac is set up around 82, even during the day, hotter than that and well , why shucks I'd just cook in my own skin, LOL.

Likely I'll get a tan working outside without my shirt on, as it is cooler for me that way, but I limit my exposure to direct sun to only 20 hours a day, lol, okay, not many hours at all, I work outside at first light, and a bit later, before the yard heats up, then again in the evening.

I have house designs that take advantage of the solar output of the south, and stay cool and comfy year around, with out much energy inputs, wood in the cold of winter if needed.

Old time southern houses had high ceilings, the shacks were the hot boxes, and I know people here abouts that don't use AC unless it hits 100 out.

I've never considered the south a miserable place myself. I was conceived in This city, North Little Rock, born in Biloxi mississippe, but been all over the place, 100 miles from the artic circle, Mexico just north of Belize, West Germany, Pacific northwest, and westcoast.

But in all that still living in the Miserable south... lol.

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

Super Overview of Info! Gives a window into what TOB is trying to integrate and address.

Re Impact of the Irrelevant on Decision Making: Psychological research indicates that "emotional processing" happens prior to "cognitive recognition". By that I mean that if you are shown visual info faster than your brain knows "what" you saw, you actually process and verbalize a "like" versus "dislike" to the info. Thus, people can be powerfully swayed by emotion, even when logic might tell them to beware.

Keep that in mind as this crisis unfolds...

We are at a crossroads, where an environmental catastrophe can be turned into a teaching moment. TOB is well positioned to make a huge contribution.

TheraP, I went to the link Impact of the Irrelevant on Decision Making and searched on "TOB"... found nothing. What does that acronym mean? Throw Out Bearing? Tides of Blood?

Not to nitpick but when one uses an acronym that most are unfamiliar with, then one should first tell us what that acronym stands for.

Edit: After thinking about it I think it means: The Oil Barrel. Is that a new site?

Ron P.

To B or Not To B?

Surmising from the context of the comments, I would suggest TheraP meant to write TOD.

Even my effort to apologize went wrong! :0

See below.

My sincere apologies! Zadok the Priest is correct! I get a D for the post! Because it should have read TOD! (I was thinking "The Oil Barrel" - oops!)

I am imperfect. ;)

I am imperfect. ;)

Welcome to the club. You don't know what imperfect is until you make a serious boo-boo on the Oil Drum.

Though I must admit, it's great therapy (pun intended ;-)

Hang in there,




I don't think this article has been posted here, at least that I could find, it's about "The Prepper Movement". Says it was dated the 19th, but I didn't see it here.

Not a super in depth article, but interesting to see it anyways:


Just another knock off the of the Zombie Squad, and tons of other places on and off line that have been prepping for the end of the world. I must remind you of the FallOut shelter signs they posted in buildings all over the country, and the barrels of supplies they put in those localtions.

My dad worked as the Maintaince Engineer for the M.M Cohn department store chain here in Arkansas from 1980 till current( still works for the original owners on one of the buildings they have left in the family). In the basement of the 510 Main St Little Rock building they had a fallout shelter set up. I have one of the original signs tacked to my closet door.

People have been setting up for the end of the world for a long time now.

I have friends that have stuff they will never use unless the end of the world actually happens. I even have stuff that I have kept handy for emergancies of any kind that are life threatening, I have not used them, I just rotate the stock when need be.

Was looking for some supplies online the other day, MRE's off all sorts, they even have canned water they are selling out there. EBAY has loads of overpriced things for sale, I would not buy it there, it is like I said overpriced. But the things you will find are just things you will find listed in the old fallout shelters, just better packaged these days.

They need to get more info in their article, but all in all, it is kinda a crazy thing to see at times, when it gets more play in the news and the like.

But I grew up with parents from the depression and I Have always had a stock of things with me, even if the stock is all in my head( knowledge).

I mentioned my dad up top, but we were talking today about hammers, and that my dad has a lot of them. But you can't put a 1/2 inch brad in with a 16 lb sledge hammer to easily, so while he has a lot of hammers, he has a whole list of them, I think his smallest is about 6 inches long and fragile looking, but it has a use, to as big as the 16 pound sledge. The one thing he does not have which I want is a Rock hammer, and an Ice hammer/axe, but those will have to wait for now.

As far as being prepared for things, there are more tools in this family than some small hardware stores have. He after all did most of the repairs for 4 buildings in town One with 6 floors, and several out of town stores, at peak a dozen. My dad is a walking treasure trove of knowledge, after all he did fix his first car(truck) it was a 5 ton dumptruck. and has the tools and engine hoist to overhaul a car or van engine.

Yeah the end of the world will be a mess, Lucky for me I'll be on vacation when it hits.

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

Got to check out the Costco 999 dollar food supply though,,, bet it is freeze dried and nappy tasting, and needs clean water to eat.

Re. Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it

I was wondering when the MSM would make a comparison to the Niger Delta...

... two major independent investigations over the past four years suggest that as much is spilled at sea, in the swamps and on land every year as has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico so far.

"The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards...

...the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports and is the world capital of oil pollution...

We sleep well only as long as the damage is in some one elses' backyard.

Golden country your face is so red
With all of your money your poor can be fed
You strut around and you flirt with disaster
Never really carin' just what comes after

Well your blacks are dyin' but your back is still turned
And your freaks are cryin' but your back is still turned
You better stop your hidin or your country will burn
The time has come for you my friend
To all this ugliness we must put an end
Before we leave we must make a stand

Mortgage people you crawl to your homes
Your security lies in your bed of white foam
You act concerned but then why turn away
When a lady was raped on your doorstep today
Well your blacks are cryin' but your back is still turned
And your freaks are dyin' but your back is still turned
You better stop your hidin or your country will burn
The time has come for you my friend
To all this ugliness we must put an end
Before we leave we must make a stand, oh yeah......

REO speedwagon

I thought the exact same thing snarlin. This oil spill might be the gift that keeps on giving.

To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high
People gettin' loose y'all gettin' down on the roof - Do you hear?
(the folks are flaming) Folks were screamin' - out of control
It was so entertainin' - when the boogie started to explode
I heard somebody say

Burn baby burn! - Disco inferno!


the Niger delta supplies 40% of all the crude the United States imports

According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration , the figure for Nigeria is about 8% of imports.

Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. at about 22% of imports.

Hopefully the other data in the article is more accurate. But I doubt it.

My apologies for the inaccuracies and thank you for the fact check. The US buys 40% of Nigeria's exports, not Nigeria supplies 40% of US imports. So 40% of their oil exports make up 8% of US imports(~ 3-4% consumption?).

Note also, the locals do not share in any "prosperity" from the oil business, like the citizens of the southern US have enjoyed. In Nigeria, the profits go to the cities. The pollution stays in the Delta.

No one has an accurate estimate of how much oil has been spilled in the Nigerian Delta over the last decade. Maybe "no one knows" because we have not been paying attention (although that is changing) ?

In our backyard this giant spill is rightly called "an eco-disaster." The Nigerian Delta region suffers multiple smaller spills every year from multiple causes (leaks by rusty and neglected infrastructure being the greatest contributor) and the chronic oil-pollution there is also an "eco-disaster."

We just do not hear about it from the MSM.

From the article linked up top: Rightwing group seeks to strip climate change from US classrooms.

"[Global warming] is not a proven scientific theory. There is not evidence to support it," Pugliese told the board, according to a report in the Denver Post. It's unclear from the reports whether the petition explicitly called for any teachings about global warming to be stripped from schools, or whether it called for the "other side of the story" to be taught, as Pugliese and her supporters seemed to be arguing before the board.

Pugliese, who is also a prominent member of a local Tea Party group called the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, was supported at the meeting by a local PR consultant called Laura Kindregan, who is the Colorado representative of a national group calling itself Balanced Education for Everyone. It was launched in April to assist "concerned citizens around the country in challenging public schools to provide balanced education on the issue of global warming".

I'm sure the day will come when these morons will want to repeal the "Law of Gravity"!

Though I think there is very little hope that they will ever be convinced that they are wrong. I'm beginning to think the only solution is to lock them all up in the loony bin... The article I link here explains a lot.


When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent
By John Timmer | Last updated 2 days ago

It's hardly a secret that large segments of the population choose not to accept scientific data because it conflicts with their predefined beliefs: economic, political, religious, or otherwise. But many studies have indicated that these same people aren't happy with viewing themselves as anti-science, which can create a state of cognitive dissonance. That has left psychologists pondering the methods that these people use to rationalize the conflict.

It's not just the Tea Partier's FMagyar. It's happening in the colleges as well. A friend of mine taught Environmental Science at a local college and after two years the program has been cancelled. There were so many complaints from students who were running home to parents about being distressed by the class to the point that they were (choke) failing in their classwork.

"Mom, Dad...the reason I flunked out is because this Environmental Class depressed me and I had to take a lot of recreational drugs to overcome the funk."


There were so many complaints from students who were running home to parents about being distressed by the class to the point that they were (choke) failing in their classwork.

Joe, are you serious?! I mean W.T.F.!! I could almost understand that reaction in kindergarten but in COLLEGE who in college goes home to their parents to complain about their coursework?

I give up!

Who in college goes home to their parents to complain about their coursework?

Answer: Kids who have grown up in homes sleeping between two clean sheets and being tucked into bed with a bedtime story. AKA middle class Americans.

This may sound sick, but I'm so looking forward to the point in time when GW is raging on such a massive scale, that no one can deny it. I want to see the look on their faces as GW finally forces its way into their psyche.

"Oh my, you mean all this time..."

"Yeah, all this time you were in denial it was building up to this disasterous situation that will only get worse."

Judging by the reaction to both the Iraq war and the financial situation from those in various positions of power, the response will be overwhelmingly "well there was clearly a problem with the behaviour of the people who make up the global intelligence/financial system (respectively), but from where I was and what information I had I did what seemed to be the right thing."

The technical term for that response is "Hoocoodanode?" I hear some variant of this way too often from way too many people in way too many influential positions.

My friend, that's when they'll start burning climatologists at stake. Never, never underestimate the ability of the human species to displace its aggression and fear on a scapegoat.

Maybe not gravity, but a movement against teaching laws of thermodynamics exist.


As a Christian I am all for scientific learning. I think like you do about the people doing the rewriting of history to fit their own agendas in the public forums we call schools in this country. It is silly and dangerous to sugar coat history, and ban ideas from the minds of people. To many times people get this notion that all they have to do is rewrite a book and it will all go away, it won't and it shouldn't.

The whole Thing I think about is, you can't control thoughts, and what we are seeing is the thought police getting ready to hunt people down.

Not everyone that labels themselves Christian acts Christ like, and some of the worst things that have happened in the world's past has been done with the snarky use of "It was God's Will" As a Christian that makes me mad.

I try not to use that phrase because it allows people to hide behind it and then kill another. The nasty fact is humans are nasty towards one another.

Looney Bins are for the most part a well controled environment, and you have limits set on you, and you have to follow the rules or else you don't get the special treats, like going to the dining room to eat, where you can get seconds. I know I have been in a few, not a nice feeling when you can't figure out what has been going wrong in your head( the blood clots of 2005 i have talked about often, did some rewiring in my head, showed up after a glitch I had happen to me(brain) in 2007).

I am not sure I'd let them go to the dining room though, just saying.

What makes me wonder in all the rewriting is, will they want to ban me from the internet because I don't think they are acting Christ like? When the witch hunts start they don't kill the witches, they kill whom they want, then label them witches.

Hugs from Arkansas,
BioWebScape desingns for a better fed and housed future, no matter what you believe in.

In at least one sense, GW is an unproven theory, since it hasn't happened yet to a degree which most people would accept as proof. It has a high probability of being true, based on scientific principles and reasonable extrapolations, but for all we know some unknown feedback mechanism might kick in and end it before it gets too far. Or against all odds, meteorology might prove to be wrong about some key factor despite that it always seemed to be right before. The only way to "prove" it beyond all reasonable doubt is to just wait and see what happens.

But if it does happen, once the proof comes it, it's far to late to do anything except watch millions (and possibly billions) of people die. Also many thousands of species will suddenly go extinct, but nobody will care about that will care when the time comes.

The Bank of Canada will probably raise interest rates on Tuesday, which will likely put an end of the Great Canadian Housing Bubble and cause untold grief to a large swath of the population. It's hard to believe that us Canadians are more indebted than Americans.

A good article in the Toronto Star about the psychology of taking on too much debt:

Canadian debt: The $1.4 trillion hole we’re in

How were consumers expected to fare in, if not a free-money environment, certainly an easy-money environment here at home? “The idea that you can walk into a store with a piece of plastic — you may even be a college student with no income — and buy $5,000 worth of stuff is unbelievable,” Camerer continues. “Thinking like a neuroscientist, nothing in our brain evolution has equipped us to make the right decision in that case.”

The brain, in other words, isn’t really up to the task. “We’re not well equipped to say if I give this piece of plastic to this person and scribble my name, 10 years from now I might owe $67,000. It’s sort of a battle between this highly evolved acquisitive nature and the ability to imagine owing a lot of money years from now. The acquisitive nature part of the brain wins.”

Time for Canadians to live up to your name, Frugal. The old timers had a name for such a lifestyle: it is called living within one's means.

I was once neck deep in the credit card sinkhole. Paid them off a couple of years back and refused to take on any more debt. I am on the road to paying down and off my other loans, but what a difference getting rid of plastic made! Save now, buy later, means actually you end up with far more money in your pocket. Buying a second hand car means not being punished by depreciation losses.

Lending is what makes the banks rich. Thrift is beneficial to the ordinary Joe. It's likely a few more are about to discover this important lesson.

My situation is somewhat unique, an aging baby boomer who never had the lifestyle of my peers. I never owned a house or bought junk I didn't need or couldn't afford, paid cash for everything except my education. I've aready gone through some tough years of unemployment and hardship. Just a few years ago, I was actually wondering how I would pay for food to live for another few weeks -- it's pretty stressful. Ironically, throughout this period I was bombarded by credit card companies offering me high-limit credit. But I knew something about the exponential function so I instead borrowed off friends. You sure get to know who your real friends are.

Now what I see in the future is my peers being dragged down to the level that I experienced. I don't think they're going to like it. I will probably be better off than most them -- I do not have any debt, am in good health, and have already learned to live without luxuries. I just have to learn to grow potatos.

Spuds are very easy to grow. Just watch out for potato beetles. ;^)

Now what I see in the future is my peers being dragged down to the level that I experienced. I don't think they're going to like it. I will probably be better off than most them -- I do not have any debt, am in good health, and have already learned to live without luxuries. I just have to learn to grow potatos.

For those very few of the baby boomers who lived up to the reputation - the generation that had it all - a healthy dose of humility will round out their experience of life. I once heard a line that I use quite frequently. There are two types of people in the world: those who are humble and those who will be. Btw, the Latin root of the word humility (as well its derivative, humiliation) is humus, soil. It's generally a good thing to be brought down to earth. Though it can be painful to watch.

Sounds like you learned to be frugal the hard way. I suspect that what you learned will serve you very well.

Paleobotanist is right. Spuds are easy to grow. Cut some hay or shrubbery, lay it out flat, bury a few potato eyes in the muddle, water, and forget about until fall. Works whether you're on the rocky coastline of Newfoundland or home on the range.


If you ever get to the point where you don't think you know where your next meal is coming from, call me up, my number is in my profile, and my offer in that profile always stands. If you need help call me.

I was taught to be frugal, but got hooked on the easy credit in college as well, and then again with my first wife. My second wife was a frugal angle and got me back on track mostly.

I have one credit card, with a floating balance, it is my just in case I need the extra when there are people in need and I am out of cash card. It has come in handy several times recently.

Most people are not prepared to live without in their lives, even people that have lived without for a while in the past. We have so much overhang in this country, that the poor are still rich by the standards in the rest of the world's poor places. And only world travelers or people who have seen the poor places first hand really know how bad it can get.

The poor in spirit are just about everywhere though, people that can't seem to see light around them while they are sitting in the sunshine, those people are the hardest to reach at times. I know a few of them and my heart goes out to them, and I hope that just being there will be enough most times.

Lots of things heading our way, and there is lots of work to be done but keep your chin up if you can. Or else I'll tickle you.

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

Thanks for the offer Charles. The time when I ran out of food money was about 4 years ago. Since then things have improved considerably. Right now I do have a decent paying job with the disposable income that comes with it.

The interesting thing about being broke for an extended pediod is how things that break or wear out are not replaced. Holes in jeans and socks appear after a while but you keep wearing them anyway because food and shelter becomes the number one priority. Everything else is a distant second. I wore out quite a few pairs of shoes because I did so much walking, I didn't want to waste any money on bus fares. On the plus side, I became really fit. You become extremely price conscious when walking through the grocery isles -- it's amazing how important money becomes when you have very little of it.

There was quite a bit of frugality momentum after my financial situation improved. Now that I can afford a few luxuries, I've lost my urge for spending, although there is still a backlog of worn out thing that should be replaced. Instead I'm hoarding money -- I don't trust that things will stay as good as they are for long.

Same boat,except for child support - but don't get me started on that one - all I can say to that is I wish my parents got divorced so they would have to pay my way through university.

The two areas I'm keeping a close eye on are residential and auto expenditures. Lately I've come into the notion of paying for a car cash (and not a lot of it, <$5K) and liking it. There's a lot to be said for not having car payments.

Carrying costs for residential expenditure are worth a second look or three. Do a net present value (NPV) calculation based on our local home prices, overhead (taxes, insurance), and maintenance (roofs and furnaces wear out), and one will find it is much better to rent than to own. We have been bamboozled into the home ownership and investment for life thing and I've come to see it for what it is. The other benefit is freedom. If I don't like where I'm living, I can move.

The other "ball and chain" that may be unique to many Canadian smaller communities is they tend to be a one industry, one horse town. Buy a house and you're locked in and that may not be a good thing; as in the recent large downturn of the sawmill industry in BC.

And, in these times of uncertainty and our sense of institutions in flux, having the freedom to make relatively quick changes will have its benefits.

I'm not disagreeing but keep in mind that in many of the smaller communities it is somewhat difficult to find an acceptable rental. Buying then becomes the option.

Excellent! Looks like I can start planning my move to Western Canada anytime now. A Vancouver crack shack or Calgary prairie home are starting to look mighty tempting.

Housing bubble or not, these places are very different than Phoenix or Las Vegas and I suspect they will hold up much better as we begin our long descent down Hubbert's curve.


Stacy Clark, Dallas

When I began my quest to interview the fearless, out-spoken President of Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser, it was as though I was a groupie reaching out to a rock star on tour. Nungesser’s mighty public presence on Louisiana’s southern Gulf shore has captured the public’s attention. Followers listen with interest as straight-talking Nungesser calls for action in response to BP’s catastrophic rig explosion and deep-well blow-out 41 miles off Louisiana’s shoreline. The man is in demand.

Although technically a local politician, Nungesser is more a man of the people. His persistent calls for improved coordination between state and federal agencies and amped-up supervision of BP’s remedial response to their own disaster resonates with viewers worldwide. Nungesser’s frank commentary has highlighted BP’s use of toxic chemical dispersants and their preference for costly post-mortem assessments over less-expensive remedial action. Interviews with Nungesser also spotlight BP’s unwelcome control of the Gulf, its airspace, and their inaccurate estimation of the rate of oil flow since the rig exploded last month, subsequently sinking two days later on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

When I reached Nungesser late Wednesday night, it was in between his back-to-back television interviews on MSNBC and CNN. Nungesser’s Press Secretary, Kurt Fromherz, patched me through by phone at 9:40 p.m.

Nungesser explained that the people of Plaquemines Parish have been relegated to spectators in the ongoing BP Disaster. “Our way of life is vanishing. Businesses all around Chandeleur Island, Breton Sound, and Barataria and Timbalier Bays have been lost. We’ve been wiped out.”

Does Alan know this guy personally? I wonder if Nungesser knows about TOD. It could be a helpful resource for him.

Has anyone managed to decipher what Matt Simmons has been going on about (ie. "another leak much bigger 5 to 6 miles away"(video))? Seemingly this is some further clarification on the subject from him:

…“In my opinion, what most likely happened when one of the largest surges of oil as gas blew out the BOP and within seconds, began melting down one of the world’s most technically advanced deepwater rigs ever built is that just the BOP and wellhead got tossed far away from the well bore but the riser which was attached to the rig floor was separated from the wellhead/BOP.

“What all the black crap coming out to create these plumes are is the oil from the reservoir and it is staying so deep under the ocean surface that only the recent tests by NOAA research vessels finally saw these giant plumes rapidly spreading across the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, assuming that Matt hasn't completely lost it, then what exactly is his argument? BP is treating a secondary leak whilst most oil is escaping from a primary leak some miles away? This seems to be his argument, but, if so how could this be possible? Anyone care to attempt putting the pieces together and explain what it is he thinks has happened?

Anyone care to attempt putting the pieces together and explain what it is he thinks has happened?

First two disclaimers:

1) I can't vouch for Matt Simons' or anyone else's sanity.
2) Jornalist are notorious for distorting facts. they either don't understand the science or have an agenda...

That having been said there seems to be quite a bit of evidence for vast undersea plumes of hydrocarbons flowing miles away from the accident site. My guess is that Matt knows about this and some journalist has distorted his words and the words of the scientists that have spoke out about this completely new phenomenon unique to a very deep water blowout.

I mentioned it in this comment. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6525#comment-633183

I have been back to the http://www.marine.usf.edu/oil-spill-2010.shtml site to get more information from the actual scientists but the details are still a bit obscure. They are now in the process of analyzing a lot of their data and the journalists are in the process of sensationalizing the truth as they are wont to do!

The fact remains that something very unusual is going on as a consequence of this spill...

Thanks FM, interesting. On the video Matt speaks for himself so no media distortion there. I also came across this video of the Russians killing a gas well with a nuclear device. So all-in-all Matt doesn't seem as crazy as I first took him for at first glance, which prompted my second look at what he said.

Yet, I'm still puzzled has to how BP could be working on a secondary leak with the primary leak elsewhere. Is there any sensible means of explaining how this could possibly occur (ie without including a conspiracy)?

Seems that either Matt S. is onto a huge story that nobody else is covering, or has gone off the deep end.

I'm concerned either way. He has seemed quite sane previously, but there seems to be a large disconnect between his take on what's going on, and everyone else's.

And nuking is a really bad idea. Perhaps someone should tactfully hold his car keys for a little while...

Here is the thing I don't get though. If the BOP had been completely separated from the well bore (and dropped several miles from the actual wellhead), then we wouldn't have have oil gushing from the broken riser.

The fact that we did see oil gushing seems like strong evidence that the BOP is still attached to the actual well bore. Now it would be valid to question how well it is still attached, and whether anything got damaged below the BOP, but to say that it is miles from the bore seems ridiculous to me.

Exactly, it doesn't make sense. Presumably the BOP is currently at the same coordinates as the well bore, can anyone verify that is the case?

One way may be if the BOP and bore casing was pulled from the well allowing oil through the BOP (some distance away but still connected to the well via the casing) and through a rupture in the casing at or around the well head. Not sure how likely that would be, but it certainly wouldn't be miles away.

Whichever way I look at it, what Matt says doesn't seem to make sense, but then I now nothing in comparison to Matt Simmons, hence my original question.

Just trying to understand.

Whichever way I look at it, what Matt says doesn't seem to make sense, but then I now nothing in comparison to Matt Simmons, hence my original question.

I went back again to view the video and tried to pay close attention. I came away with the impression that Matt is out of his depth when it comes to the technical and scientific aspects of this blowout.

I have no doubt when it comes to his expertise about the business aspects of energy or his analysis of the data which leads to his views with regards Peak Oil in general.

He should read TOD for the technical information...

However even the the technical folks here at TOD have not addressed the deep sea plumes to my satisfaction.

We will eventually get to the bottom of all this. (no pun intended)

However even the the technical folks here at TOD have not addressed the deep sea plumes to my satisfaction.

Given that they've only just been detected -and presumably not even looked for until now, the data is pretty sparse. Reports of the area/volume can give a misleading sense of threat, volume times concentration is more relevent. My information bias is that with scant data, and a tendency in some quarters to masively overplay this sort of thing, is that they are probably not that much of a threat. Until we get better data we really can't say much. And scientists are notorious about doing careful analysis and cross comparisons and therefore taking a long time before publishing.

My information bias is that with scant data, and a tendency in some quarters to masively overplay this sort of thing, is that they are probably not that much of a threat.

Given the deliberate downplaying of the flow rate and the overall environmental impacts of the visible surface spill and given that the few reputable studies I have been able find on the subject of underwater spills have found that most of the oil in such cases does not surface and given that we know that massive amounts of dispersants were released directly into the spill source, I would be willing to bet that environmental threat is much greater than any of us would guess...

But you are right that scientists tend to err on the side of extreme caution when faced with new circumstances such as this one.

I hope you are right and I am wrong!

My information bias is that with scant data, and a tendency in some quarters to masively overplay this sort of thing, is that they are probably not that much of a threat.

My perception of the sequence of events WRT the plumes is that (a) the media got hold of some extremely preliminary observations and shouted "Disaster!", (b) the follow-up information from the scientists ranged from "We don't know what the concentrations are," to "We're not sure if it's even oil," and then (c) reasonably deafening silence. Friday's NYTimes story says that it will take weeks of work to determine if the plumes even contain oil, and if so, that it came from the leaking well. The Washington Post story about a plume full of large oily globules 75 miles NW of the well, in shallow water, appears to describe a beast of an entirely different nature.

Yes, it's an environmental disaster, but the truth is already so bad that we don't need media people making stuff up.

My perception of the sequence of events WRT the plumes is that (a) the media got hold of some extremely preliminary observations and shouted "Disaster!", (b) the follow-up information from the scientists ranged from "We don't know what the concentrations are," to "We're not sure if it's even oil," and then (c) reasonably deafening silence. Friday's NYTimes story says that it will take weeks of work to determine if the plumes even contain oil, and if so, that it came from the leaking well.

This information is not from any media source it is straight from the horse's mouth, University of South Florida: http://usfweb3.usf.edu/absolutenm/templates/?a=2362&z=31

Sure they are saying they need to do additional tests... What do you suppose the odds are that they will find that it's not from the Horizon?

Invisible Oil Detected in Gulf
Email article to a friendPrint Article

USF’s R/V Weatherbird II Detects Invisible Hydrocarbons in Gulf Waters

By Vickie Chachere

St. Petersburg, Fla. (May 28, 2010) – Researchers aboard the University of South Florida’s R/V Weatherbird II conducting experiments in a previously unexplored region of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have discovered what initial tests show to be a wide area with elevated levels of dissolved hydrocarbons throughout the water column, possibly indicating that a limb of an undersea oil plume has spread northeast toward the continental shelf.

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.

"This is not a big glob of oil drifting," he said. "These are layers. They show up on sonar as layers with clear water in between."

The discovery is significant because it verifies the presence of dissolved hydrocarbons in the deep recesses of the Gulf of Mexico that cannot be seen with the human eye but could eventually become a threat to marine life and habitats.

If the Ixtoc blowout in 1979 dumped 140 million gallons off the Yucatan Peninsula, what was the ecological damage ?

Marshes weren't a major concern. Rare species relocated. Microbes ate the oil. Creationists thanked God for having had the foresight to load the Gulf up with microbes. After 3 years, the oil had become water and carbon dioxide.


And it was a relatively shallow water blowout and there were no deep sea hydrocarbon plumes to worry about...and they didn't use underwater dispersants plus there was no mile deep ocean to serve as a fractionation column to separate the crude into its different hydrocarbon components. Very different animal!

Mexicans were no doubt not a major concern even though many fished there. Fishing resumed after 2 years - that might not seem too bad but when you start out poorer than US fishermen, it probably was devastating - but hey what do we in the US care. I assume that once they resumed fishing testing of the fish was not rigorous.

I believe the Ridley and other Sea Turtles were hit hard.

It’s difficult to find South Padre Island residents who remember the IXTOC 1 oil spill that sprayed the area’s beaches with oil in 1979. But those who were living on the Island at that time have vivid memories of the oil hiding beneath the cover of sand. They remember oil on clothes, oil on hands, oil destroying pairs of shoes, and a solution available at every home and business to remove the oil before it got on everything inside. The oil well was blown out from June 1979 until March 1980, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, spilling more than 3 million barrels of oil over nine months. The oil hung around for years, resurfacing occasionally with the shifting tides. "It ruins everything it touches," recalled Sue Arnspiger, who moved to South Padre Island more than three decades ago. "It was so terrible, you couldn’t go on the beach. And long after you’d still see chunks of it."http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/articles/spill-111690-brings-fears.html

The story above about our "Fix-it Faith" seems to be quite apropos here. They talk about how things have become so complex that we really don't know how to fix them, but also that a lot of people have this attitude that any problem that comes up must have a technological solution. And if the people working on the problem can't come up with a fix in a timely fashion, then we need to get rid of those people and bring in other people who presumably could find a solution.

Indeed, think of all the planes grounded for nearly a week in northern Europe last month, as a volcano poured ash in the atmosphere. There was no technological fix, and many passengers couldn’t believe it. Said Mr. Kohut, of Pew Research, “The reaction was: ‘Fix this. Fix this. This is outrageous.’ ”

And this is a good example as any of a technological problem for which there is no quick fix...

Hi Dear TODers,

Just wanted to let you know that Nicole Sandler, sitting in for Randi Rhodes on AM talk radio - (don't ask!) - mentioned The Oil Drum!

For context, I believe the show is here, but not sure: http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/main.html

This past Friday.

Is this the first mention of TOD on a national mainstream radio program?

(Or, did our colleague formerly known as "Chimp Who Can Drive" have that honor during one of his interviews some time back on late night talk radio?)

Congratulations to our Founders, Editors (past and present) and Contributors!

Do you know which program it was?

Thanks, Consumer,

It was on Friday, 5/28, with Nicole Sandler sitting in for Randi Rhodes. The program is only a couple of hours (don't know the exact running time).
I was hoping that'd be enough info to find it.

AFAIK, there's only one program. But I didn't try to see if they archive them or what kind of access one might find.

BP unsure how much oil in reservoir in Gulf spill

BP spokesman John Curry says the company does not know how much oil is contained the vast reservoir nearly three miles beneath the seafloor.


O great! Next thing we'll hear the abiotic theory is right and we've just nicked the earth's soft caramel core. Or that the wet dream of finding another Ghawar has just come true, and like a mischievous prankster, the content has now been leaked (and crapped) into the neighbourhood pool.

I wonder if BP really doesn't know or is merely groping as to how to break to the public the next piece of really bad news.

I believe this was an exploration well, i.e. this is the first well drilled into this accumulation. Usually an oil in place estimate is made after well logs are run. But with the well control problems they were having, it's conceivable that no logs were run. If so, they may have no idea how much is down there. They can make estimates based on whatever they know now, but the estimate would have very wide error bars.

I recall seeing a TOD post a couple of days mentioning 100 million barrels. I don't know if this is in place or recoverable. Either way, though, it's a highly uncertain number.

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

there are signs that the US Department of Energy might also be changing its stance on peak oil. In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Glen Sweetnam, main oil adviser to the Obama administration, admitted that "a chance exists that we may experience a decline" of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 if the investment was not forthcoming.


It's an interesting article jmygann, but it was hashed out on TOD back when it was published on April 11th.

Deaths as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship

More than 10 people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says.

Armed forces boarded the vessels overnight, clashing with some of the 600 protesters on board.

It happened about 40 miles (64 km) out to sea, in international waters.

Israel says its soldiers were shot at and attacked with bars and knives; the activists say Israeli troops came on board shooting.

The European Union has called for an inquiry to establish what happened.

10 dead as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid convoy

"At about 4:30 am, Israeli commandos dropped from helicopter onto deck of Turkish ship, immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians," a post on the group's Twitter page said.

Video aired on CNN sister network CNN Turk showed what appeared to be soldiers abseiling onto the deck of a ship.

The Turkish foreign ministry quickly condemned the Israeli military operation and summoned the Israeli ambassador for an explanation.

"Israel has once again clearly demonstrated that it does not value human lives and peaceful initiatives through targeting innocent civilians," the statement said.

"We strongly condemn these inhuman acts of Israel. This grave incident which took place in high seas in gross violation of international law might cause irreversible consequences in our relations."

A spokeswoman for Sweden's Foreign Ministry confirmed to CNN that the ministry has called in Israel's ambassador for a meeting. According to CNN's affiliate TV4, there are 11 Swedes among the activists traveling aboard the ships.

Interesting watching a demonstration in central London live on Press TV Iran which is not being mentioned by the BBC. One of the activists, a member of a Jewish pro-Palestinian group pointed out how ridiculous it was that Iranian tv was the only organisation broadcasting the protest in London outside Downing Street.

Meanwhile Turkey has asked all Israeli citizens not to travel to the country and for Israelis already in the country to stay indoors.

Edit: And BBC News finally covers the protests in London (although with no sound and no report from the scene). Only two hours after Press TV Iran went live to the London protests with reporters on the scene.

It's really creepy watching the extensive live coverage on Press TV which the BBC and Sky News are virtually ignoring - despite the fact that MPs are speaking at the event.

What's more Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is cutting short his trip to Canada. This, after spending the past couple of days praising Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for their steadfast support of Israel. Now that the sparks are flying, the Canadian government is being very guarded in what it is saying.

Canada "deeply regrets" the loss of life in the Israeli raid on an aid flotilla sailing to the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement Monday.

"We are currently looking for more information in order to shed light on what exactly happened," the statement said.


Harper has recently shifted Cdn. foreign policy in a decidedly pro-Israeli direction. Politically, especially if events heat up, this may not be one of his smarter moves. According to census figures for 2001 there are more Muslim voters (2%) in Canada than Jewish (1.1%).