Drumbeat: June 17, 2010

Consumer prices drop for 2nd straight month

WASHINGTON - Consumer prices fell for the second straight month, extending a break for Americans' pocketbooks. Less expensive energy bills were the main factor pulling down prices.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the Consumer Price Index, the government's most closely watched inflation barometer, dropped 0.2 percent in May, following a 0.1 percent dip in April.

"The weak recovery has its upside, declining energy costs and that is helping take pressure off the cash-strapped consumer," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

It marked the biggest decline since consumer prices plunged 0.7 percent in December 2008. That was a period when the worst recession since the 1930s stoked fears of deflation. The country didn't get stuck in a deflationary spiral then, and probably won't now, economists say.

Vision of the future: Dune

Widespread access to luxury goods and services is only possible, however, because our economic system still creates enough surplus to distribute some of it among even the non-elite. During pre-industrial times, the difference between the haves and the have-nots was not one of degree but one of kind. A medieval peasant could not even dream of owning a stone house, for instance. Because the economy produced little surplus, it could support few rich people, and those few could accumulate riches only by reducing the rest of the population to permanent poverty, sometimes barely above survival level. The result was a considerable distance between the wealthy and the rest of the population, comparable not to the difference between a modern-day French worker and a millionaire, but to the one between the same French worker and a Malian subsistence farmer.

Middle East’s Oil – a market in transition

Saudi Arabia’s oil patch is also in transition. The large, easy-to-produce, low-cost deposits of light oil are mostly developed and future projects will be concentrated in smaller, costly, complex developments that will deliver poorer quality oil. The next, and last, of the giant Saudi projects is to develop the 900,000b/d Manifa field, where the costs have soared to at least $16 billion, a seven-fold increase from Haradh-3, which was brought on-line in 2006. The heavy oil field is offshore in a delicate marine setting, adding to costs, but it is a sign of the times that it will offset declines elsewhere and add nothing to overall capacity when it comes on-stream in 2013.

Crunch time in Saudi price review

A wide-ranging governmental review of prices for gas and oil inputs in the Saudi petrochemicals sector will have huge implications for the kingdom’s bid to become the world’s largest producer of chemicals in the next decade, experts say.

Chevron, Russia's Rosneft to explore Black Sea oil

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Oil major Chevron and Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft agreed on Thursday to jointly develop a deposit on Russia's Black Sea shelf, with Chevron financing initial exploration activities.

"The exploration stage will cost $1 billion," Russia's top energy official, Igor Sechin, said after the signing ceremony, held at Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's residence outside Moscow.

Norway Oil Workers, Employers Reach Wage Agreement

(Bloomberg) -- Norwegian offshore oil workers reached an agreement with employers averting a planned strike at platforms operated by Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

BP Reports Highest Oil-Capture Rate From Well Since Spill Began

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc captured 18,600 barrels of oil from its leaking Gulf of Mexico well yesterday, a 78 percent increase from the previous day and the most since the spill began in April.

About 21 percent of the oil was burned aboard the Q4000, a floating rig connected to the wellhead that began operations early yesterday, BP said in a statement posted today on its website. The rest was stored aboard the Discoverer Enterprise, a drillship that’s been collecting oil since June 4, BP said.

Cracks Show BP Battled Well Two Months Before Blast

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Lawmakers lay blame squarely on BP

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Lawmakers raked BP's corporate culture Thursday, calling the firm's top leadership "oblivious" to what was happening with its doomed oil well, in the first Congressional appearance by BP chief executive Tony Hayward since since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began nearly two months ago.

"BP cut corner after corner...and they were apparently oblivious as to what was happening," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said during a hearing before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Now the whole Gulf Coast is paying the price."

Obama v BP

America’s justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business.

On BP's 'Strategic Default' Option

The market decline, of nearly $100 billion, assumes that the cost to BP will be much more than $50 billion. That's a "worst case" scenario, not "most likely" case. More to the point, it is a "worst case" scenario that probably won't be realized, even if it occurs.

That's because BP has the option of offering BP America as a "sacrificial lamb," if the actual cost of the spill is significantly more than $50 billion, just as home owners may choose to offer the bank the house if its value falls below the mortgage. Put another way, BP has put a 20% down payment on a "house" that could cost up to $100 billion (depending on the size of a randomly determined mortgage), but whose "market" value is more like $50 billion.

BP’s Spill Fund a $20 Billion Shakedown, Republican Barton Says

(Bloomberg) -- Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, said a fund BP Plc agreed to establish after meeting with President Barack Obama yesterday amounted to “a $20 billion shakedown.”

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House,” Barton said today as a House Energy Committee panel began a hearing on BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Other U.S. Energy Crisis: Lack of R&D

BP says it's throwing its best people at stopping the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Nevertheless, it took an outsider—Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has a Nobel Prize in physics—to come up with the idea of peering inside the malfunctioning blowout preventer with high-energy gamma rays. BP tried Chu's idea—after a few snickers and Incredible Hulk jokes, according to the Washington Post—and lo and behold, it worked. The probe was "crucial in helping us understand what is happening inside the BOP [blowout preventer] and informing the approach moving ahead," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

The gamma ray incident is symptomatic of a problem that's bigger than London-based BP: Energy companies worldwide are far less science-oriented than one might expect from an industry that is heavily dependent on technology for safety and profit. In the U.S., energy companies' spending on research, development, and deployment amounts to just 0.3 percent of sales. That's barely more than a tenth what the auto industry spends as a share of sales and is dwarfed by the pharmaceutical industry, which spends nearly 19 percent of sales. (American Petroleum Institute chief economist John Felmy says R&D measures understate his industry's "overall investment for the future.")

Spill threatens NW Florida; Intracoastal Waterway may close

Oil has begun invading beaches in Northwest Florida and is seeping into Pensacola Bay, leading state officials to warn that the Intracoastal Waterway may have to be closed to commercial traffic.

Democrats May Aid Renewable Energy in Oil Spill Bill

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats will debate today whether a bill that responds to BP Plc’s oil spill should benefit renewable energy sources and limit greenhouse gases.

The closed-door meeting will gauge Democratic support for these proposals before President Barack Obama brings Republicans into talks on energy legislation next week at the White House.

Videos, fake logos mock BP over oil disaster

Making a mockery of BP and its unsuccessful efforts to stem the flood of oil has gone viral on the Web. And based on viewership, it appears the public would rather watch parodies of the disaster than BP's official responses to it.

Lisa Margonelli - Oil Spill Theater: Catharsis or Catalyst?

Obviously, I'd like to see policy makers seize this opportunity to have a fully blown discussion about the risks of oil dependence, and let that lead towards new and comprehensive energy policy moving away from oil dependence.

To some extent, that's what's on display, as the discussion gets down into the weeds on the details of what may have gone wrong in the Deepwater Horizon rig. Lock out collars, degassing mud before recirculation, annulus, tie back lines on the casing, blind shear rams -- I have to say I love this. The last few weeks I've had more discussions about blow out protectors around barbecue grills than in my previous eight years of writing about oil. At last, the big national conversation is beginning.

Resolving BP spill will take years

Just before the Deepwater Horizon accident, Florida spent $200,000 on a study of offshore drilling safety that concludes: “Oil spills from offshore exploration, development, production and the transportation associated with these activities are unlikely to present a major risk to Florida.”

So much for studies.

Security Tops Environment in China Energy Plan

BEIJING — When President Obama called this week for a “national mission” to expand the use of clean energy and increase American energy independence, Chinese officials might have nodded knowingly.

The government here is already far along in drafting energy legislation with similar goals for China, according to Chinese officials and executives.

Kingdom may enrich uranium for nuclear plants

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia may mine and enrich uranium to fuel power plants if it embarks on a civilian nuclear energy program, a consultant preparing a draft nuclear strategy for the Kingdom said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia would want to play a role in as many of the stages of generating nuclear power as possible eventually, said David Cox, president for energy at the UK branch of Finnish management consultancy Poyry. “Enrichment could happen there and the same with mining uranium...,” Cox said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “But outsourcing will happen initially.”

NOAA Sees Above-Normal Temps Across US

Above-normal temperatures are expected in a wide swath of the U.S. from the entire East Coast to the deep south and across the Gulf Coast to the desert southwest in July through September, government forecasters said Thursday.

Two Win Blue Planet Prize for Bridging Science and Policy

James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and a vociferous advocate for lowering global greenhouse gas emissions, was chosen for his work modeling Earth's climate, predicting global warming, and warning the world about the consequences. Robert Watson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kindgdom, is being honored for his studies of the ozone hole and work toward an international agreement to ban the use of the chemicals causing ozone depletion; he later chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Experts: Drilling Moratorium May Do More Economic Damage Than Oil Spill

The six-month moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico imposed by President Obama is taking a toll on the economy of Louisiana that could far exceed the damage to other industries caused by the BP oil spill. The purpose of the moratorium is to assure that no other accident occurs, but many experts believe it is too long.

Congressional representatives from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are appealing to the Obama administration to shorten the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, noting the damage that will be done to regional economies dependent on the oil and gas industry. The bi-partisan group of lawmakers also note the importance of the oil produced from the Gulf, which amounts to around 30 percent of total U-S domestic production. Of that, 80 percent is produced from deepwater wells.

Disaster is making US think again about cleaner energy

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is making Americans think more about a clean energy future – but not yet to the extent of having to pay for it, or to tackle climate change, one of the leading US thinkers on global warming policy said yesterday.

Iran sanctions may see redirection of oil flows

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan may redirect oil exports to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk rather than shipping it to Iran due to sanctions imposed from 1 June according to reports.

Natural Gas Spreads Spark New Amaranth Concern

(Bloomberg) -- Trading patterns in natural-gas futures are fanning speculation of a repeat of the collapse four years ago of U.S. hedge fund Amaranth Advisors LLC.

Gazprom opens base at Djibouti Free Zone

(MENAFN) Economic Zones World (EZW) announced that Gazprom Neft Marine Bunkering Limited, a subsidiary of Russian gas giant, Gazprom Energy, has established a base at Djibouti Free Zone (DFZ), Gulf News reported.

BP Gulf Spill Fuels Australian Opponents to Drilling

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico disaster is generating opposition to deepwater drilling off Australia, where the government is opening new exploration areas less than a year after the country’s third-worst oil spill.

BP and Barack Obama: Knee-deep in oil

The extent to which oil consumption is still regarded as akin to a constitutional right is the measure of Obama's real problem.

BP Hires Army of Washington Fixers to Manage Oil-Spill Outrage

Coordinating the approach is a crisis-management team, assembled over the last two months, of high-priced Washington insiders. Orchestrating the response is the Brunswick Group, whose Washington managing partner, Hilary Rosen, has connections throughout the city as the former head of the Recording Industry Association of America and from previous jobs that include working for Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat.

It’s Raining Lawyers in the Gulf

A cavalcade of lawyers are homing in on what is shaping up as one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation's history.

Half a World From Gulf, a Spill Scourge 5 Decades Old

BODO, Nigeria — Big oil spills are no longer news in this vast, tropical land. The Niger Delta, where the wealth underground is out of all proportion with the poverty on the surface, has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years by some estimates. The oil pours out nearly every week, and some swamps are long since lifeless.

Perhaps no place on earth has been as battered by oil, experts say, leaving residents here astonished at the nonstop attention paid to the gusher half a world away in the Gulf of Mexico. It was only a few weeks ago, they say, that a burst pipe belonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the mangroves was finally shut after flowing for two months: now nothing living moves in a black-and-brown world once teeming with shrimp and crab.

Why Coal Prices Will Soar

China is now the world's largest car market and is quickly becoming the world's largest market for a number of consumer goods. It's also the world's largest market for mobile phones.

On a recent trip to Beijing, I saw these numbers come to life... and watched the unfolding boom serving China's new and growing disposable incomes. Besides busy shops and restaurants and 5 million cars on the road in Beijing alone, there is something more basic that underlines all of this. In fact, it is more fundamental to the entire story of Asia's new consumer.

It's energy. Yes, all those factories require power. But so do iPods and air conditioners. So do cell phones and computers. The modern consumer economy is a plugged-in economy that eats electricity like locusts devour crop fields.

Solar plane set for night flight

A solar-powered plane is getting ready to hit the skies once again - this time, at night.

It will be the first ever manned night flight on a plane propelled exclusively by solar energy.

The Peak Oil Crisis: A Speech to the Nation

This was not the speech we were waiting for. The one in which the President goes on national television and says "My fellow citizens - Our nation and indeed the whole industrialized world is about to face one of the greatest challenges to befall mankind for many centuries - the rapid depletion of our supplies of oil and other fossil fuels has begun... very soon you will no longer be able to afford to drive your cars."

Of course, the President can't say that. The reaction would be totally unpredictable. Equity markets could collapse, there could be a run on gas stations, banks, food stores, or who knows what else. There would be calls for impeachment. It is far safer to break the bad news to us gradually and let people figure out what is about to happen themselves.

Oil falls to $77 as 3-week rally stalls

MOSCOW – Oil prices dropped to $77 a barrel Thursday as investors lost confidence in a three-week rally amid signs of weak crude demand in the U.S., the world's biggest energy consumer.

EU to Target Iran’s Oil, Gas Industries in Widened Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- European Union governments will target Iran’s oil and gas industries in backing U.S. calls for widened sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program, a draft EU declaration said.

European penalties will hit “key sectors of the gas and oil industry with prohibition of new investment, technical assistance and transfers of technologies, equipment and services,” according to a statement prepared for today’s EU summit.

BP boss to face US Congress over oil spill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – BP's chief executive faces a flaying from furious US lawmakers Thursday over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a day after the energy giant pledged at least 20 billion dollars for compensation claims.

Tony Hayward faces fuming US lawmakers, some of whom have publicly suggested senior BP officials should "commit hara-kiri," after he and BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg were summoned to the White House on Wednesday.

BP chief Tony Hayward's statement in full

BP boss's full statement to congressional committee on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the causes, clean-up operation, and BP's actions and responsibilities.

BP shares jump on dividend suspension

LONDON (AFP) – BP's share price soared almost ten percent on Thursday after the group suspended its shareholder dividend and agreed to create a 13.56-billion-pound fund for costs from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP Bonds Escape Distressed List, Trade as Junk

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s agreement to cut three quarters of dividend payments and set up a $20 billion fund for oil-spill victims removed the energy producer from a four-hour stint among companies the bond market labels distressed.

'Strong' BP has resources for US pay-outs: Osborne

LONDON (AFP) – Oil giant BP is a "very strong company" and has the resources to cover the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said on Thursday.

"BP in the end is a very strong company," Osborne told BBC radio, when asked about the 13.59-billion-pound fund BP had unveiled on Wednesday to face the mounting costs from the disaster.

With Criminal Charges for Oil Spill, Costs to BP Could Soar

As BP watches its bill rise quickly for the oil spill, including $20 billion it is setting aside for claims, it could find the tally growing much faster in coming months if the United States Department of Justice files criminal charges against the company.

FACT CHECK: Obama left blanks in oil spill speech

WASHINGTON – In assuring Americans that BP won't control the compensation fund for Gulf oil spill recovery, President Barack Obama failed to mention that the government won't control it, either.

That means it's anyone's guess whether the government can, in fact, make BP pay all costs related to the spill.

Obama May Get Boost From Pressing BP to Set Up Fund

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama scored a political victory by pressuring BP Plc to commit $20 billion for damages from an environmental disaster that’s weighing on his presidency as the company struggles to contain thousands of barrels of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

Obama seeks emergency funding for oil disaster commission

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday asked Congress for $15 million in emergency funding for the new national commission investigating the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf inhabitants push for energy bill in Congress

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Close to 100 local officials, businessmen, fishermen and ordinary citizens from oil-stricken states on the Gulf of Mexico, went before Congress Wednesday to push for a new energy and climate change bill.

"Americans don't want band-aid solutions to this crisis. They want comprehensive action. Now is not the time for delays, now is the time for leaders in the Senate to act," resort owner Kevin Overton, of Escambia, Florida, told a press conference.

Citigroup to Suspend Foreclosures in Area Affected by Oil Spill

(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., which received $45 billion in a taxpayer-funded bailout, will suspend foreclosures in coastal areas “hard hit” by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The halt is effective starting tomorrow and will apply only to loans owned by the New York-based bank’s mortgage unit and meeting “certain other criteria,” and not debt that Citigroup services for other lenders or investors, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.

Internal documents contradict BP engineer's testimony

A BP drilling engineer's testimony before a fact-finding commission investigating the Gulf oil spill has been contradicted on several key points in e-mail messages released by congressional investigators, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Energy bank Simmons cuts ties to outspoken founder

(Reuters) - Outspoken energy investment banker Matthew Simmons is relinquishing his last ties to the energy-focused firm he founded, Simmons & Co International said on Wednesday.

Simmons says…

Simmons & Co International, the energy investment bank founded by author and peak oilist Matt Simmons, has announced that Simmons himself is retiring as chairman emeritus there.

This move is perhaps not surprising, as Simmons’ own views have diverged markedly from the bank’s in recent weeks.

BP's $20 billion spill fund echoes in Bhopal justice cry

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian activists seeking justice in the world's worst industrial disaster are accusing the United States of "double standards", saying it was punishing firms polluting American soil but ignoring their mistakes abroad.

Screwed if by Sea: A 90-year-old maritime law gets BP off the hook for workers killed on the Deepwater rig

The math works out even worse for workers without dependents. Jones' brother Chris testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that one of the other Deepwater workers who was killed was single and childless. That means his family would only be entitled to recover funeral expenses under DOHSA. But because his body was never recovered after the explosion, the funeral costs will be lower. BP could end up paying his family as little as $1,000 for their loss.

Chris and his father Keith have pleaded with Congress to fix the law so that any employer can be held accountable for negligence—regardless of whether an employee dies on land or at sea. Last week, Senate Judiciary chair Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced legislation that would do just that.

But Leahy's bill faces an ugly political fight. And giant oil corporations—the most obvious potential opponents of such legislation—may not even have to flex their lobbying muscle. There's another powerful industry with an interest in doing BP's dirty work to preserve the status quo. That would be cruise line operators—and when it comes to Beltway battles, the cruise lobby is no Love Boat.

BP Chairman: 'We Care About the Small People'

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg today said that President Obama “is frustrated because he cares about the small people. And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are really companies that don’t care, but that is not the case in BP, we care about the small people.”

BP chief apologizes for "small people" remark

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg on Tuesday apologized for speaking "clumsily" by referring to those hurt by his company's oil spill as "small people."

BP will pay for its costly disaster

Following Obama's meeting with BP bosses we should expect to see the firm leak billions long after the flow of oil is staunched.

BP stock: Yes, it's cheap, but it's a huge gamble

If you've ever wanted a chance to invest in an oil company on the cheap, it might be here. Shares of BP are selling for about half what they were before the April 20 oil rig disaster. Major multinational oil companies don't go on sale like this often.

But BP is a classic example of why a cheap stock isn't necessarily one you should buy.

BP's next challenge: Disposal of tainted sludge

Oil giant BP is facing a huge new challenge in disposing of the millions of gallons of potentially toxic oil sludge its crews are collecting from the Gulf of Mexico, according to industry experts and veterans of past spills.

Crews so far have skimmed and sucked up 21.1 million gallons of oil mixed with water, according to the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command. Because the out-of-control well may continue spewing for months, that total almost certainly will surge.

Europe Sounds Alarm on Minerals Shortage

The European Union is facing shortages of 14 critical raw materials needed for mobile phones and emerging technologies like solar panels and synthetic fuels, according to a study by the European Commission to be released on Thursday.

Uncle Sam, Solar Landlord, Is Under Fire

The nation’s biggest landlord, the United States government, has set the rent it will charge developers who build solar power plants on federal land, and some prospective tenants are not happy.

EU 2013 Carbon Trades at Smallest Premium Over 2012 in 5 Months

(Bloomberg) -- The premium of European Union carbon dioxide permits for December 2013 delivery compared with 2012 declined to its narrowest in five months as lawmakers from around the world fail to set greenhouse gas limits.

Global Warming and the Pollsters: Who's Right?

All three of these polls were conducted by professionals, so why do they seemingly disagree? Mainly, it's in how the questions were asked, and how the data was interpreted. On the surface, it appears that Americans are deeply divided over the issue, wafting back and forth because it was a mild winter, or it's a hot spring, neither of which have anything to do with global climate change.

Met Office warns of long-term extreme weather risks

British businesses need to invest in adaptation measures to cope with flooding and drought in the coming decades even if substantial reductions in greenhouses gas emissions are achieved.

That is the stark warning from the insurance industry today after a new report from the Met Office warned that global water cycles will continue to be disrupted in the coming decades even if average temperatures stabilise and begin to decrease.

I put together a tutorial on how accelerated extraction rates eventually lead to a Hubbert Peak.
This is essentially a fresh perspective on how to derive Peak Oil. The argument builds up extraction from the case of a single reservoir, into accelerating extraction, and then a derivation of the logistic peak.

When discussing oil depletion topics, we always deal with contradictions. The oil companies all seek fast and efficient extraction, yet now that we have an increasingly fast leak we can't slow it down. The oil consumers blame the oil companies, yet we ignored the math of oil depletion all these years.

Because we have not done this for a while, I'm starting a thread in which people can post their two or three most favorite Peak Oil books.

My two favorites are:

John Michael Greer, THE LONG DESCENT.


I look forward to seeing the recommendations of others.

I think Gail had two key posts recently on this. I will try to find them and edit this comment with the links.


I'm not looking for a long list of books and courses. What I want to see is people's top two or three Peak Oil favorites.

Hi Don,

My three favorites to date are:

Kenneth Deffeyes, "Beyond Oil".

Richard Heinberg, "Power Down".

James Howard Kunstler, "The Long Emergency".

The John Michael Greer book is next on my to-read list.


Good choices! I do urge you to read TWILIGHT IN THE DESERT. I bought the book when it first came out, and I think the book is indispensable for an intelligent discussion of Peak Oil. If Saudi is near its production peak, that has profound consequences and implications.


The problem with Heinberg, Kunstler, et al? They don't understand wind and solar, and haven't taken them seriously. They've just assumed that they aren't adequate. Look through their writings and you don't find an accurate, detailed analysis anywhere.

Heinberg's treatment of wind and solar in "Powerdown" is relatively undetailed. "The Party's Over" is a bit more thorough, with 4 and half pages devoted to wind, but there's still no detailed, quantitative analysis. It has some numbers, but they're oddly uneven, and ultimately it's overall conclusions don't follow. For instance, on page 152 he says: " Current storage batteries are expensive, they are almost useless in very cold weather, and they need to be replaced after a few years of use. Currently, there are no batteries available that can effectively move heavy farm machinery or propel passenger carrying aircraft across the oceans."

Well, with the exception of the last bit about aircraft, none of this is accurate (which he would have discovered, had he looked at the numbers). See http://energyfaq.blogspot.com/2009/07/volt-battery-costs-part-3.html as well as http://energyfaq.blogspot.com/2008/09/can-everything-be-electrified.html .

Heinberg's Blackout assumes that environmental problems will prevent the use of most of our coal reserves - see the bottom of page 47 and the top of page 48. It seems clear to me that no one will allow the lights to go out while there is still coal available, and there are enormous amounts of coal available. This says to me that peak energy isn't a realistic possibility: our problems are Peak Oil and Climate Change, but not Peak Energy.

No, our problems are exergy and growth, and always have been. Solar, wind and coal address none of these and can be said to simply perpetuate the same problems. Energy abundance has never been an issue, and anyone saying otherwise is flat out wrong. How we can get at that energy and utilise it, and what we utilise it for, are the pressing matters. And we're not smart with this at all, which is why touting nuclear or renewables is hilarious as some supposed answer, much like taking out a loan to cover your debt obligations.

OK, Admiral. Perhaps you could enlighten us further. The way I see it, when you are experiencing rolling blackouts, I won't even notice since renewables provide most of my energy. My area has had two power failures (of several hours) in the last couple of weeks and I didn't know it until my sister came by to send a critical email. Seems to me that if more of us had their own household/business "UPS", renewables could have a big impact. Many businesses in my area had to shut down. For me it was "just another day at the office".

Well, my workplace doesn't suffer power failures as we produce our own power when needed via diesel generators of several MW ratings. As for home, since my own personal supply of power is laughably out of my price range, it's a moot point. But most of my power comes from local wind turbines of which Anglia has a few. And we had powercuts just the other week.

But this is beside my point, which is on growth, not energy limits.

our problems are exergy and growth, and always have been.

AV, you might want to expand on this notion, as it's not very clear.

If Saudi is near its production peak, that has profound consequences and implications.

Agree. With massive investments maybe they can stay on plateau production during more than 10 years but ELM is troublesome.
I read only two books on energy, both in Dutch: 'de permanente oliecrisis' from Rembrandt and 'de strijd om energie' (the fight for energy) from another Dutch writer.

Interestingly, those were the first three books on the subject that I read, and probably are the best. Innocently began leafing through "Long Emergency" while browsing Borders on a sunny May afternoon in 2005, and that was the beginning of the end of my BAU mindset. That book was my introduction to the concept of peak oil, and I believe it included some references, possibly to the other two books. I soon discovered the Energy Bulletin web site, and TOD some time after that.

I like Georgescu-Roegen`s The Entropy Law and the Economic Process

and Scneider and Sagan`s Into the Cool: Thermodynamics, Energy Flow and Life

and of course, Joseph Tainter`s The collapse of Complex Societies.

These are a bit academic but they are great for the bigger picture.

And Kunstler`s Long Emergency is O.K. too, although it`s a different kind of book, more popular.

"The End of the Oil Age", Dale Allen Pfeiffer
"The Party's Over", Richard Heinberg
"The Long Emergency", James Howard Kunstler
"World Made By Hand", James Howard Kunstler

Dimitry Orlov - Reinventing Collapse:The Soviet Example and American Prospects
Jared Diamond - Collapse
Nassim Nicholas Taleb - The Black Swan

Reinventing Collapse - Dmitry Orlov (he's seen one in Russia, he knows what he is talking about and he is funny as well)

The Peak Oil Crisis: a Speech to the Nation.

The subject can not be discussed.

I work for a large research institution here in the city of Philadelphia. I few years ago we launched a new initiative; a “Town Hall Urban Sustainability Forum”. Over the years I have noticed that there has never been a Peak Oil related discussion/lecture forum presented. There have been all sorts of “Town Halls” on green technology (Amory Levens), global warming, urban sustainability, etc., but never anything on Peak Oil.

I decided to email the Town Hall’s Program Coordinator to suggest that Peak Oil was a really good subject to place on the discussion agenda. In an effort to ease his workload in finding someone to speak (and also to fulfill my responsibility to come up with a specific suggestion), I recommended Stoneleigh (Nicole M. Foss) from the AutomaticEarth. I included a brief bio/CV about her and the information that she was actively soliciting speaking venues here on the east coast during the Fall of 2010. I gave him her contact info which is posted on the AutoEarth website.

I thought I had done a really good thing.

No response from the Town Hall coordinator.

After several weeks I mentioned what I had done to my boss (who also happens to be Acting President of our institution and so is also, temporarily, the Town Hall Coordinator’s boss). He got back to me that the Town Hall Coordinator and his immediate supervisor said that Peak Oil “attracted the wrong kind of audience”. It was a subject that attracted “Catastrophists”. Our institution didn’t want “these kinds of people” at our Town Hall Urban Sustainability Forums!

Boy, do I ever feel stupid. How naïve of me! How stupid of me.

But at least I now know that I, and my “kind of people”, are not welcome at my institution’s Town Hall Urban Sustainability Forums. If it’s not BAU (or Walt Disney), it is NOT welcome as an agenda item.

I guess this is good to know.

6 months ago I approached my union with an offer to provide a background paper and facilitate a discussion on peak oil. At that time we had been meeting to work out the strength of our pension fund and what arrangements we need make in order to keep it sustainable. I mentioned that peak oil was a key consideration in planning investment strategies, and also wanted to know what inflation rate they were basing their forecasts on?

The silence was deafening. No one wants to hear about it.

I am assuming that I won't have a pension, or if I do it will be of little help despite the huge amounts we pay into it as a condition of employment. It is frustrating, however, I guess we can say the same for everything we take for granted in a BAU scenario.

Beautiful day, the squash are up, the sheep are foraging, and the house is quiet.


He got back to me that the Town Hall Coordinator and his immediate supervisor said that Peak Oil “attracted the wrong kind of audience”. It was a subject that attracted “Catastrophists”. Our institution didn’t want “these kinds of people” at our Town Hall Urban Sustainability Forums!

The only kinds of people that are even worse than "Catastrophists" are Atheists. Of course there are a few Atheistic Catastrophists like myself out there...

I've actually had negative experiences with suggesting something much more benign.

Subject: Re: PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) bill

Mr. Magyar, this legislation transfers the "large upfront cost" (as you identify it in your email) to the local government. It allows an individual property owner to obtain financing through the city, then pledge to pay it back as a non-ad-valorem tax assessment. While this program seeks to promote energy conservation systems, it requires a significant effort on the part of local government to administer without any financial benefit to offset these costs. It is my understanding that Broward County is looking at PACE; you may want to contact Commissioner Gunzburger to see what the County will propose.

Baah! Politicians and government bureaucrats are beyond pathetic! What a bunch of uncreative lazy SOBs!

But this was my reply:


Thank you kindly for your prompt reply, it is much appreciated. I will contact Commissioner Gunzburger as you suggest.

You wrote: "While this program seeks to promote energy conservation systems, it requires a significant effort on the part of local government to administer without any financial benefit to offset these costs."

I was wondering if that is indeed the case why it might not be possible for the city to add, say, some sort of processing fee? Perhaps it might even be included as part of the permitting process for these projects.
Unless it is somehow explicitly against the rules, I don't see why the city should not be allowed to offset reasonable costs.

It would seem to me that we have entered a time when examining creative solutions to our problems, be they economic or environmental should be considered of the highest priority. What is now happening in the Gulf of Mexico should serve to underscore my point.


Fred Magyar

Never even the got the courtesy of a further response....

Fred, you should not have expected much more that what you got. Most politicians are a bunch of lofaszak, taking up space and getting in the way.


I learned a while back that it is not our place to herald the clarion call. Ours is to quietly mention the smoke coming from the front of the theater and discretely make our way to the exit.

I've found the only solution is to go ahead with your life and plans and maybe some like minded people will join you. Be the change you want to see happen.

Numerous anecdotes like this I have seen pass in the last 4 1/2 years. I gave up myself, except when somehow the subject of energy surfaces. I know some have been succesfull at influencing policymakers, advisors etc., but as you said, "we" are being viewed as Catastrophists". That's a nice new one. The word itself makes all of us here a homogene group so that is also settled. No more discussions needed. Of course there is no need for a vision if you are the Town Hall coordinator and multiple catastrophes are looming just around the corner, as long as the $$$ keep pouring into your bankaccount

Btw I don't see why you disclose Stoneleigh's identity in public, especially with this wrong kind of audience reading TOD

Her real name is on her website, and she's been identified by both her real name and her blogging name in articles in the MSM. I don't think it's a secret.

OK, I didn't know that.

One more thing: anything remotely associated with Amory Lovins has my alarmbells going off; we are not going to invent our way out of PO while maintaining our lifestyle.

we are not going to invent our way out of PO while maintaining our lifestyle.

Only if cold fusion is an actual reality. That would lead to a whole new set of problems however.

I'd say keep an open mind WRT Lovins.

Yes, he's very 'Innovation, Can-do!' .. but he's put a lot of meat on the bones of those proclamations, too.

He was on Democracy Now! yesterday, and gave an outline of his house systems, which I understand have thoroughly paid for themselves in averted energy costs over the last 26 years.

..we’re at 7,100 feet up in the Rockies, where it can occasionally go to minus-47 F. You can get frost any day of the year. You can get thirty-nine days of continuous cloud in midwinter, so it’s not a reliably sunny place. And yet, just off to my right is a tropical jungle, where we’re ripening banana crops thirty-three through thirty-five with no heating system, because the house is so well insulated in passive solar design that it didn’t need one. And it was $1,100 cheaper upfront not to put one in. So I then reinvested that money in saving about 99 percent of the water heating energy and 90 percent of the electricity. If I didn’t make electricity with solar, my electric bill for 4,000 square feet would be five bucks a month. And all of the extra cost of that efficiency in 1983 paid for itself in the first ten months. Today’s technologies, which we’ve just retrofitted, are a lot better. And the key is what we call integrative design, so we get any benefits from each expenditure. The arch, for example, that holds up the middle of my house, does twelve different things, but I only pay for it once. And I can tell you, it’s really fun to sit there munching your tropical fruit while a blizzard’s outside and know that you’re not using any fossil fuel, you’re not stealing from your kids, you’re a net exporter of energy to the grid, and it had great economics.

You might find some big differences between your philosophies, but make sure you don't ignore the similarities. He gets painted as a crackpot, and unfortunately, his odd appearances might seem to support such a stereotype, but I believe that is truly superficial and ultimately shortsighted.. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/16/spill_roundtable

Passive solar designs are the key to most good home designs in my opinion.


Is just one of many places pushing the ideas that we have the ability to build better homes, even better shelters for emergancies than we have been in the past few decades.

Most of the designs in my own BioWebScape design project would fall under the title Passive Solar, and most of them are way under 250 sqft per person in scope.


Is another group that pushes Earth shelter homes, though they require having a source of junk, IE tires and cans or bottles.

Nader Khalili thought around that, and used dirt as the main building ingredient.

Someone a while ago was harping on the idea of living in a mud hut, as a bad thing, I wondered if they thought about what is bad about living in a big wooden McMansion that is so hard to cool in a hot no power future.

My first designs back 35 years ago were earth Shelters where, people couldn't find the front doors of the homes, it was always something I loved to do.

But then I lived in a house that has changed in size not much in 33 years, though I have not lived here all the time, I never did hunt for big houses to live in, when I was away. Under 900 SqFt still, It has days where it seems small, but days that it is too large.

Best hopes for better homes of smaller scales in the future.

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

I gave up too Paul. It will take years for these people (local leaders) to process the information via the stages of grief. It's like talking to your vegetables, hoping to improve their growth... good luck.

Recently I turned down requests to present something on Peak Oil and suggested they get Stoneleigh to speak. No response.

The truth is, everyone around me is looking for a way to pretend to be doing something. I won't pretend anymore, it only fosters complacency or more bargaining.

Same here. I had a conversation with one of our forward thinking county commissioners about energy issues. I laid out the basics of Peak Oil and the coming energy famine. Whenever he and his friends made some assumption about renewables or biomass or whatever, I kindly pointed out how these energy sources were hopelessly tiny and years away from any significant contribution, if ever. Same with land issues and zoning, etc. I made it plain that business as usual was coming to a halt in the not too distant future. Now when I see him at some charity event, he turns 180 and walks away. Politics, at least in our time, is not a reality based activity.

As far as I can tell, local leaders are overwhelmed with the various urgent demands on their time - no sarcasm intended.

That's a big part of the problem that I see locally. Lot's of small fires have to be attended to now, and windows of opportunity are rapidly closing in terms of resiliency planning and budgeting (and we know about receding horizons if and when they ever do start serious disaster planning).

As for any real long-term plans, SOP is in place - stick with current plans on the drawing board and wait for orders from above. And options are limited anyway because of budget constraints.

No "resiliency" plans worth taking seriously outside of tornadoe or ice storms. I hope we never find our safety net-of-last-resort turns out to be FEMA, or the Navy/Coast Guard, National Guard or any Multinational Company...

Hi snarlin,

My experiences locally mirror everyone else's WRT local elected officials, and many others, for that matter. (One local church just purchased a nice bit of ag land for their big new building. Didn't listen to me, nope, nope - not even an acknowledgment for my well-intentioned efforts. Sigh.) However, we do have a lot of transition groups of different kinds - just that big projects keep coming in... and etc.

re: "windows of opportunity are rapidly closing in terms of resiliency planning"

This may be a good place to mention our efforts to direct the National Academy of Sciences to look at global oil supply decline: impacts and policy options. www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.

Although it sounds like we should take the word "peak" out of it. :)

In any case, the NAS could deliver a clear statement of facts, something politicians could point to as a scientific finding.

One would think they'd welcome a scientific investigation. Take the heat off them, so to speak.

But for some strange reason...not only politicians, but even research scientists I've tried to corner seem peculiarly unenthusiastic. (Or else it's me. Hope not.)

The current NAS energy study covers just about everything except the global oil supply picture. Thus missing any kind of planning opportunities - ways of lessening the shock, materially and psychically.

re: "Resiliency planning." My personal favorite was the community-building, creative work of Ashland CERT, under the previous Coordinator, who had a decidedly up-beat and creative approach. For examples, see newsletters for 2009 and 2008 here: http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=9046. None of this "endure" stuff - more like learning all kinds of skills and how to quickly come together to use them. "Neighbors helping neighbors."

What a coincidence Aniya.

A beautiful farm field I had to cross as a kid to go BB-gun hunting was plowed over and turned into a 1) big church with an enormous lawn and 2) a new elemantary school that because of it's location requires bussing for 90% of the students.

I don't think a wake up call from the NAS would matter much now. Better to be extremely late than never, but still, judging by the response to climate change data, it just won't matter.

Maybe I will move to Ashland. Orlov suggests being prepared to move around like a gypsy as one method of "Resiliency Planning" for the individual (or family).

"we" are being viewed as Catastrophists". That's a nice new one. The word itself makes all of us here a homogene group so that is also settled.

Hah! Homogene group?! I protest and propose a schism from the ultra conservative Catastrophist dogma. We need a new reformative perspective that allows us to express our divergent points of view. ;^)

I had never run into the term "catastrophist" until a few days ago. I think it is rarely used here ("doomer" preferred I think), but I found it on USGS.gov under the title "The Future of Petroleum". This is from PDF slide presentation that some USGS geologist gave:

Much has been discussed about the future of oil, and to a lesser degree natural gas, in relation to world energy use. Two groups are often contrasted. These are known as the optimists and the pessimists, or sometimes as the cornucopians and the catastrophists. The term "Malthusians" is also sometimes used for the pessimists.

This is important because it is the first link that shows up if you Google "Peak Oil" on USGS.gov. First impressions matter on important topics. The USGS does not do the public any good by branding oil depletion analysts as "Kooks", wich I think "Catastrophists" and "Malthusians" are a euphemism for.

I don't even like the term pessimist anymore because it seems that some "pessimists" at least have a vision for the future, which is something that the "optimists" don't even have. Without a vision, the optimists/cornucopians should be labelled "clueless".

The optimists in westexas' words: Yerginites.

Pessimists come as fast crash doomers, or as catabolic collapse doomers.

Optimists start wars.

..and all generalizations are wrong.

Come on, try again.

And since "all generalizations are wrong" is a generalization, it must, too, be wrong--so I stand by my statement ;-P

No, really, after I posted this (I was thinking about all the gungho war promoters that got us into Iraq--optimistically saying that it would be just like Japan or Germany, we would create wonderful a democracy in the midst of the mideast...bla, bla bla), but of course it was also optimists that thought that cute little guy with the mustache was just trying to make his fellow Germans feel better about their suffering.

I guess optimists can be equally wrong as doves or as hawks.

(How's that for a better generalization? '-)

This might explain why an old college buddy of mine, who has made his career with the USGS as a geologist, suddenly discontinued our habit of keeping in close touch over the years, ever since I asked him for his opinion of "peak oil" back in 2004, via his .gov email account. His terse reply was: "some are concerned with it, others aren't". That was the last personal contact I ever had from him. I presume he attended that lecture you linked to, as it was near his office.

Interesting anecdote. Also in that presentation, the USGS guy refers to oil depletion analysts as "trendologists".
That is only a slightly disparaging remark, because it is a euphemism for a "curve fitter". Which is part of the reason that I have spent so much time created a more formalized framework for oil depletion. I agree that "curve fitting" doesn't cut it, because they will use it against you every time and make you out to look like an amateur.

That's a term with some pedigree, Chapter 2 in the entertaining book Wildcatters: Texas Independent Oilmen is "Wildcatters and trendologists." "Trend" in this sense refers to following a delta of successful wells on the map, or drawing lines between same; rather crude science, in other words, pardon the pun. Dad Joiner's geologist, Doc Lloyd, is singled out as an example of this. I notice Yergin swiped almost the exact wording of the passage from this book for The Prize.

So its strange that he associates the term with pessimists.

The choice of term is definitely derisive. It would be like referring to another pilot as a "barnstormer," perhaps.

Your experience is in no way unique. I wrote a carefully worded email to the local Unitarian church to see if they would host a meeting about Transition Towns just to see if I could root out any other initiators and get busy. I didn't even get a reply to my email! Total cold shoulder. And this is a church that regularly hosts environmental groups. I'm only left to speculate why I was treated so rudely, but I imagine that even the religious order are not immune from inheriting the basic tenets of the church of growth, and they don't want to deliver a downer message of steadily degrading living conditions to a yuppie suburban audience.

I'm sorry to hear that, as my Unitarian church has offered the Transition Town handbook class and curriculum twice now, and in fact we are resubmitting to teach it again this fall. Is there another Unitarian church nearby that you could try? We take the environment seriously and in fact have a Green Sanctuary certification program:

A Green Sanctuary is a Congregation that...

  • Has received official recognition for completing the Green Sanctuary Program.
  • Lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating sustainable lifestyles for its members as individuals and as a faith community.
  • Is committed towards creating a religious community that has a fundamental, bottom-line, commitment to living in harmony with the Earth.

I attended Stoneleigh's presentation when she visited Austin, Texas recently. It was at a local Unitarian Church.

Good crowd. Great talk - but very sobering.

"Unitarian Church"

Thanks guys for the idea. I'll try them if they I can find them in the area. Hope they can book Stoneleigh before late fall ;)

"Unitarian Church"

Isn't that an oxymoron


A former BP executive taking part in a Nova Southeastern University forum on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Wednesday urged U.S. consumers to take responsibility for their massive levels of oil consumption -- consumption that, he said, drives the business of offshore drilling.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/16/1684911/us-oil-dependence-criticiz...

...is a link (read more:) automatically added now?

Despite the build in crude stocks I have to wonder how busy the LOOP is.

I watched the interview with Jean-Michel Cousteau on CNBC this morning and he had some video his team of divers shot in water full of oil. Underwater visibility was limited to a few feet at most as the diver swam through millions of suspended oil droplets and Cousteau stated that the oil was the same density down to 25 feet below the surface for miles around the area they were filming.

It looked to me like that was more than deep enough and thick enough for oil to be sucked into a ships' engine and generator cooling system and quickly foul the seawater filters and subsequently the heat exchangers.

The daily maps of the spill area almost always show oil in the LOOP area and it's interesting that reports say overflights of the spill area, including presumably the LOOP, are banned.

We had a short discussion about this here on TOD several weeks ago and it seemed like everyone thought ships could get through the spill area because the oil would float on the surface above a ships cooling water intakes.

Cousteaus' video would seem to change that view.

There appears to be a virtual news blackout concerning the operations of the LOOP. I agree completely that this is potentially a very serious problem, and apparently, so does the US gov-ernment (see below).

Admiral Thad Allen was recently evasive as to what exactly the ‘plan’ is when LOOP operations are disrupted. Perhaps the ‘plan’ is to initiate a news blackout first?

As I mentioned last week, oil imports into the Gulf Coast peaked out in early April, and have gradually declined since. However seasonal factors usually reduce oil imports in late May and June, so it is not clear if more than a small number of tankers have been diverted so far.

Date: June 7, 2010
Time: 09:00
Press Briefing with Thad Allen

QUESTION: Admiral, over the weekend, Tony Hayward said that B.P. clearly was not prepared for a spill of this magnitude.

The Coast Guard is the front-line agency in responding to oil spills. So what about the Coast Guard? Did you discount the possibility of a major blowout in the Gulf?

ALLEN: No, we had always anticipated that could happen. In fact, in April of 2002, we actually ran an exercise on the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which is only about 90 miles to the west of where this happened. And we envisioned a total loss of the wellhead for a number of days. It al-most was similar type of event, except it was in much shallower water.

In that national exercise, I was the national incident commander in the drill. We ran it out of the Superdome.

And so we have known about these and planned for them. What's made this one anomalous is the amount of area this oil is covering and the breadth from central Louisiana clear over to at this point Port St. Joe, potentially Florida.

The CNBC Cousteau interview this morning is up on their website: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1524103755&play=1

After seeing it again, I'd have to change my estimate of the underwater visibility. It's a few inches at most due to the amount of underwater oil. The divers' swim through the oil starts at 1:15 on the video.

Surely somebody is reading this forum who works on a ship traveling in the area or at a ship yard where the ships using the LOOP go for maintainence work.

Whoever you are it is time to say whatever you know.

The Speech Obama Needs to Give (from 10/18/2009) http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6615

(almost) nobody wants to accept resource depletion
(almost) nobody wants to reduce his/her lifestyle
(almost) nobody wants to be told oil spews are inevitable
(almost) every congressman wants to impress somebody
(almost) every republican wants to find some way to criticize our president, our chosen leader, our commander in chief
(almost) every democrat is clueless about oil and gas industry realities

Yea, a blast from the past. :-) A bunch of the comments for that one scolded that it was an unrealistic speech, but it was meant to be set in a fictional time when several 'bad' things happened in succession. Doesn't seem so distant now. The Deepwater blowout certainly counts as one. Take your pick for #2 & #3 & #4... -- hurricane, european economic collapse, (insert any number of black swans here), etc.

Also, it was meant as a sort of last-resort truth-telling gamble by Government Inc. to 'keep its charter.' The other options, of course, are tanks in the street. That would probably work even better to keep things together, huh? It's time-tested. All hail, General Petreus. :-)

If, as President, he points out that there is trouble coming in very clear and uncertain terms he has one of two problems:
1. It manifests during his administration, in which case he's to blame for it since he's the one that announced it.
2. It doesn't manifest during his administration, in which case he's an "alarmist" and "playing political games"

If the response doesn't involve having someone to blame and sick the Marines/FBI/SEC on and is in the least bit inconvenient to the majority of the public, whatever politician gets the attention for causing the inconvenience is DOOOMED.

Third alternative:

The President directs the National Academy of Science to do an immediate add-on to the current energy study, to take the form of the following: Investigation of global oil supply picture, impacts of decline in supply and policy options, as per reference above: www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.

Prez gets credit for putting the scientists to work, and credit for trying to prevent trouble.

Foreseeable impacts are announced.

A clearinghouse is established for best resilience practices.

Policy options clearly stated: "Alan Drake, where arrrrrre you?"

Quote from the BP hearing in Congress today - "Mr Hayward, you will get your life back with a golden parachute back to England!"

A Russian News Org asks "Can America Overcome its Addiction to Oil?"


Video includes interviews with American addicts.

“Our society is very self serving – it’s what’s in it for me, not what’s in it for the better of the good," said a driver at an Arlington, Virginia gas station.

"It's unfortunate but it’s true," echoed another.

RussiaToday is such an annoying propaganda outlet.

What gives Russia the right to criticize? Aren't they one of the worlds biggest oil suppliers these days? Oil consumption is just more business for them. And what about using natural gas as a form of blackmail? They are a pretty damn big part of the machine.

Beautiful Annapolis Royal was the first town in Canada to convert all of its street lights to LED (see: http://www.annapolisroyal.com/led.php), and now it appears the Town of Amherst is following its lead.

Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, awarded C$700,000 for city-wide LED streetlight project

As part of a federally funded energy efficiency program, the town of Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, has been awarded C$700,000 for a large-scale LED streetlight project. The funds, from ecoNova Scotia, a fund for clean air and climate change projects, will be used to convert 1,200 existing high pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights to LED fixtures. The existing HPS streetlights range from 70 watts to 400 watts. The number of LEDs in each fixture will vary based on the specific location and its lighting requirements.

see: http://www.newstreetlights.com/index_files/LED_street_light_news_Amherst...

Addendum: A list of the towns and cities in Nova Scotia to be retrofitted under this latest round of funding can be found at: http://www.newstreetlights.com/index_files/LED_street_light_news_Nova_Sc...

Best hopes for reducing this province's dependence upon coal.


Now that the small towns are making the transition, little doubt, this will this put pressure on the larger communities like Halifax to follow.

It is one thing to use LED fixtures to light up a low and slow volume traffic thoroughfare in Annapolis Royal

Quite another on a high and fast volume traffic expressway like the circumferential in Dartmouth.

Is the strength and quality of light in LED fixtures sufficient to ensure safe driving at night according to scale? In other words, are there limitations?



Hi Tom,

I'm not sure I can offer you a good answer; roadway lighting is one of those black boxes to me -- vehicle speed, vehicular volume, interaction with pedestrians and surface reflectance are a few of the factors that must be considered. My gut sense is that this technology may not scale up all that well, i.e., compared to a high wattage point source. I confess I'm not a huge fan of LED street lights, at least the ones being installed in this province -- I find the glare too hard on my ageing eyes, especially in wet weather. All things being equal, I much prefer a good quality ceramic metal halide fixture with a full cut-off (e.g., Philip's CosmoPolis). And, FWIW, I generally prefer high mast as it eliminates a lot of "visual clutter".


Thanks Paul. Whew! I'm not the only one who is not a big fan of LED street lights. Looks like r4ndom below is on the same wavelength.

Which begs the further question, at what point does the quality of light become a problem? It's one thing to promote energy saving, but if the quality of the replacement comes a poor second to the original, then the idea needs to be reexamined. Simply put, if people find the light blinding or irritating, then IMHO we're better off tolerating incandescent until something else comes along. The other option, of course, is to do without, i.e. sit (or, in this case, drive) in the dark.

Paul, you mention ceramic metal halide fixtures. Do they provide a good quality light? Where might we find them? How would they be classified (incandescent, L.E.D., etc.)? Could they be used large scale and in an outdoor setting?

Appreciate your wisdom on these matters!

I should pay attention more, too.


Low Pressure Sodium lights are still the most efficient.

The only problems with them are really aesthetics regarding light quality since they have a very narrow primary emission band.

This same characteristic is good, though, because it makes their light easy to filter. astronomers and photographers use various filters (including NoNaD (brand name?)) to reduce or eliminate LPS light pollution.

I'm thinking it would be nice to get some of that as a window coating for city dwellers like me who like dark bedrooms and morning sun.

Hi Tom,

I suspect part of the problem, for me, is the novelty factor... being somewhat curious, I find myself staring at these new fixtures when I should be keeping my eyes focused on the road. In any event, I assume they conform to all applicable IES standards.

Ceramic metal halide lamps produce a beautiful, clean, crisp white light and render colours much more accurately than a conventional metal halide, e.g., Philip's MasterColour Elite CDM lamps have a CRI or colour rendering index of >90. By comparison, a conventional metal halide lamp has a CRI of 65 or 70 and its high pressure sodium lamp counterpart has a CRI of just 22. They offer reasonably long life and good colour stability, and they're quite energy efficient as well (upwards of 100+ lumens per watt).

For more information on Philip's CosmoPolis and MasterColour Elite lamps, see: http://www.sitelighting.com/literature/CosmoRetrofitBrochure.pdf and http://www.lighting.philips.com/microsite/cosmopolis/gb_en/reference_red...


When I took the IES lighting design course wa-a-a-a-y long ago - don't remember a thing, except... - the instructor told us one major problem emergency responders had with LPS was they couldn't tell the blood from the oil.

I've seen the street light LED head units at trade shows and the heat sinks are massive.

Thanks Paul. Whew! I'm not the only one who is not a big fan of LED street lights. Looks like r4ndom below is on the same wavelength.

Being on the same wavelength should be enough if you have the right spectrum ;^)

I actually have become a convert to DC and solar powered LEDs. I even have some that support photosynthetic symbiotic algae that live in coral tissues. The spectral analysis puts them close to real sunlight.

I see there are no figures for the energy saving in any of those stories. Do you know how they compare to sodium lamps??


Top 2 hits:

So, it appears that the main benefit to cities is a reducion in bulb replacements (which is a significant cost issue, I admit).

From what I'm seeing, the LED's are a net lose unless we see more astronomer (and sleeper) friendly fixture designs. My current neighborhood installed them last summer and I hate them passionately because they used uncapped fixtures that light up the sky (and my bedroom) with an annoyingly bright and crisp light so I can't leave the shades open for the sun to sneak in in the morning.

Hi PL,

I believe the reduction is generally a little more than half. Where things are a bit over-the-top, the potential savings can be even greater, e.g., the City of Calgary at one time used 200-watt HPS fixtures to illuminate residential side streets, whereas in most communities a 70-watt HPS would be considered more than adequate.

More information on these LED fixtures can be found at: http://www.ledroadwaylighting.com/



While we are on the subject of lighting, please comment on the amoumt of electrical energy it takes to remove excess heat generated by lights from an air conditioned space;to wit, if I use a kwh lighting up my house , how many additional kw hours must I feed into a typical air conditioner to maintain the same inside temperature?

The answer will be a range of course.

Thanks in advance!

oldfarmer: I'm not Paul, but I've often seen the number .3 (30%) used. So if your AC has to remove the heat an extra KWhr of heat generation yields 1.3KWhr total when you factor in the AC. Of course if for part of the year you are heating -or don't need active AC, the annual factor would be lower.


For a 13 SEER CAC, 1.0 kWh of heat load translates to be 0.3 kWh of cooling demand (13 SEER = COP of 3.43, and if you divide 1.0 kWh of heat load by a COP of 3.43, the result is 0.292 kWh). The Fujitsu 9RLS ductless heat pump has a SEER rating of 26, so you can basically cut that number in half !


I'm no expert on this, but if you have 1.0 kWh of heat load wouldn't it take at least 1.0+ kWh of AC to remove that heat?

How does the Fujitsu unit get a SEER of 26? I was looking into these while in Florida and it seems they fudge the numbers a bit by the switching. But they are still a very good idea though. The one frustrating problem is if you install these then you can't say central A/C in your house should you wish to sell. But, ducts do not need installation and rooms can be kept at different temperatures. The only draw back is one has to find 220 V circuit breaker space on the panel, and the wiring if it's required of course.


Any central air conditioner sold today will have a COP of 3.4 or higher, so it will remove 3.4 units of heat for every one unit of energy input. If the ratio were 1.0 or less, a 6,000 BTU window air conditioner would draw a minimum of 1,760-watts (6,000/3,412).

I don't believe there is any fudging on the numbers -- there are a number of ductless heat pumps that have SEER ratings in excess of 20, but this Fujitsu happens to be the leader in its class. These products are all certified by the ARI/AHRI.

That said, there have been reports that some lower tier manufacturers have failed to comply with minimum federal efficiency standards and the DOE has forced the recall of these products (see: http://www.energy.gov/news/8807.htm).


At the library yesterday, somebody had left a stack of paper stubs advising us to google "the energy non-crisis, and Lindsey+Williams. I looked it up out of curiosity.

A preacher and conspiracy theorist claims the govt. suppressed the discovery of a 1 trillion plus barrel field in Alaska, but this was easily debunkable. The wells were capped in the '70s, but the field is now in production and may have a billion barrels recoverable.

It was recently brought to my attention that this preacher was on Coast to Coast (the Art Bell Show) on 6-13-10.

See also:

Uhhh, I billion, a trilliion, whats the difference?

This is off topic and may not be appropriate here, but I couldn't help but notice one of the two blogs that you "like" is that of Steve Sailer. Do you realize that Sailer is a prominent racist (genetics more than culture) and writes for some very vile sites around the internet?

Yeah, probably inappropriate here, but genetics vs culture is a science issue, not a moral issue. It doesn't help uncover the truth when one throws out the R word at dissenting viewpoints. Post more on my blog if you want.

May I suggest The Agile Gene by Ridley?
Quite a interesting view of the subject.

A new approach for high efficiency PV.
Towards Nanowire Solar Cells With a 65-Percent Efficiency


I just read this in my days look at the news, other than on TOD.

Scary stuff when you have 10% to as high as 17% unemployment, that a business won't hire you if you are without a job. How the heck do you get back in the work force?

I wonder if we need new laws in the land of the free and the home of the brave, or rather the land of the unemployed and the land of hopeless.

I wonder at times like these if the employers even understand how close they are to being as unemployed as the rest of their fellow amreicans.

Deep sad sigh.

I'll go back to reading the comics for my news.

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

Did Tony Hayward and Goldman Sachs both sell about 1/3 their BP holdings based on insider info ?

The Bloomberg article above suggests they had plenty of warning of how serious the problems could be "Cracks Show BP Battled Well Two Months Before Blast " - above.

Recall Hayward sold 1/3 of his shares just before the blow-out.

And Goldman Sachs also sold 1/3 of their position between December and March - just before the blow-out (note that the quarter before GS had added to their position in BP).


As Denninger would say, "Where are the cops!"

stone knives and bear skins. it's the only out come. remember, no one (NO ONE!) gets out of here alive. not even posters to the oil conundrum. colorful graphs will not save us or change anything.

Here’s what happens when you stack 25,000 55 gallon oil barrels into a 15,000 foot tall pillar, then leet them fall to the ground. (just like technological society)-did mention stone knives and bear skins?


My oil spill effects on GOM biology post of the day:


Oystermen Say BP Made Poison 'A Permanent Part of the Seabed'

Oystermen filed a federal class action against BP and Nalco, which makes the dispersant chemical that BP has dumped on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The oystermen claim Corexit 9500 is four times more toxic than oil, and that BP has sprayed more than 1 million gallons of it onto the Gulf, causing the poison to become "a permanent part of the seabed and food chain in the biostructure in the Gulf of Mexico."

- - -

Lead plaintiff Scott Parker claims that more than 1 million gallons of Corexit "has been sprayed over the Gulf of Mexico and has caused a toxic chemical to be a permanent part of the seabed and food chain in the biostructure in the Gulf of Mexico."

Corexit 9500 is four times more toxic than the oil itself, according to the complaint, "causing an even more dangerous condition to exist in the Gulf of Mexico than if the oil was allowed to float to the shoreline."

The class claims the dispersant was used "in an attempt to lessen the financial burden of BP and to lessen the public reaction to the oil spill by forcing the oil to the bottom of the Gulf and thereby obviating the need for shoreline cleanup."

- - -

Nalco's own documents classify Corexit 9527 as "hazardous." Its warning label calls it an eye and skin irritant that poses "acute" human hazard, and warns that repeated exposure may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidneys or the liver, and excessive exposure "may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects" and coma. The warning states: "Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing."

President Barack Obama reiterated his defense of oil giant BP after a White House meeting with the company’s CEO Tony Hayward and board chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.
After the meeting, Obama and BP announced the establishment of an independently operated escrow account, the Independent Claims Facility, funded by up to $20 billion paid out over the next four years. BP said it would delay dividend payouts over the remainder of the year estimated at $10 billion. Other details of the escrow account remain vague.
The US media presented the meeting and announcement as a humbling of BP. It was nothing of the sort.
In fact, the meeting was a choreographed event with two purposes: to diffuse popular anger against both BP and the Obama administration, and to assure the financial markets that BP is in no danger of bankruptcy or criminal prosecution. There will be no serious consequences for the disaster that killed 11 workers on April 20 and has since pumped upwards of 60 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Even were it clear that the $20 billion will really be made available to the blowout’s many economic victims—and it is not—this is a preposterously small sum for a catastrophe whose real cost will run into the hundreds of billions, if not trillions. All the costs of environmental cleanup are to be paid out of this fund, according to the Financial Times. There can be no doubt that this alone will far surpass $20 billion.
The deal ensures that the overwhelming burden of the costs of the disaster will be borne by the government, and ultimately the working class.