Drumbeat: July 11, 2010

Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business

Even before we reach peak oil, we could witness an oil supply crunch because of increased Asian demand. Major new investment in energy takes 10-15 years from the initial investment to the first production, and to date we have not seen the amount of new projects that would supply the projected increase in demand.

• The IEA projections assume that additional supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will largely fill the gap between declining non-OPEC production and rising world demand. But this implies the willingness and ability of those countries to invest or attract foreign investment into their oil sectors. The evidence reveals a serious lack of investment relative to demand growth throughout the 1990s, and a subsequent fall in the rate of discoveries. A look at the forecasts and actual outcomes for both OPEC crude capacity and non-OPEC production show that country targets and IEA expectations over the past decade have generally gone unmet.

• In the wake of the oil price crash of 2008 and the subsequent global financial crisis, over 20 planned large-scale upstream oil and gas projects were deferred indefinitely or cancelled.

America will face daunting challenges

The "Smithsonian" magazine recently published the United Nations demographic forecasts for 2050 -- well within the life span of the majority of Americans. Most of the data is startling, and some is frightening.

For just a short look at the global trends, the big get bigger and the very big get very bigger. India's population -- now at 1.2 billion -- will have a 33 percent growth to 1.6 billion. China goes from 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion. Sub-Saharan Africa -- areas which can least afford a baby boom -- generally will experience a doubling of population.

The U.S. also will have a 33 percent population growth, from 305 million to 405 million. What is amazing is 80 percent of that growth will be the result of immigrants or the children of first-generation Americans -- specifically 47 percent by immigrants and 33 percent by American born children of migrants. Only 18 percent will be descendants of today's residents.

Another 1,500MW to be added to national grid by December

LAHORE: The national grid will have another 1,500MW by December this year that would help curtail the power shortage, a senior government official said on Saturday.

...In order to make electricity affordable, an energy mix is the need of the hour and, therefore, the government spends all its energies on the use of indigenous resources such as hydropower and local coal in Thar, as well as imported coal, the minister said.

Dispute on Oil Spill Panel Flares Before First Meeting

WASHINGTON—The independent commission appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will hold its first formal meeting Monday, but it is already at the center of several battles raging in Washington.

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have questioned panel members' competence and ideological leanings. They note that none of the commissioners has any experience in petroleum engineering, and that several have spoken out strongly against offshore drilling.

BP may cut payments to 40,000

NEW ORLEANS -- BP has decided to reduce payments to tens of thousands of people whose claim files are incomplete, the secretary of Louisiana's Department of Children and Family Services said.

"This action is irresponsible and in complete contrast to BP's repeated promise that they will 'make things right,'" she wrote in a letter sent Friday to federal oil spill claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg.

Obama is fostering energy crisis

WASHINGTON -- From somewhere --inside the White House or the Department of Energy -- United States President Barack Obama is getting some pretty awful advice.

It's bad enough that he's been persuaded that there's a Nirvana Land of windmills and sunbeams in the future of electricity. But much more gravely, in halting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, he's committing a fearsome folly.

Abu Dhabi reluctant to invest in BP: report

Abu Dhabi is reluctant to invest in British Petroleum(BP), a report said, only days after the British company's chief was thought to have sought investment from sovereign wealth funds on a visit to the Gulf state. Citing sources, the Middle East Economic Survey said it "understands that Abu Dhabi has signaled a reluctance to buy into BP," in its latest edition to be published tomorrow.

"Sources close to Abu Dhabi investment funds said that they are already in court over a Citigroup investment and that the move would be too politically charged and there are too many unknowns," the MEES newsletter said.

Farmers feel the heat as temperatures soar

This summer's lack of rain and prolonged high temperatures are presenting significant problems for farmers and could even lead to price rises in the shops, experts have warned.

Arid Australia Sips Seawater, but at a Cost

In one of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects in its history, Australia’s five largest cities are spending $13.2 billion on desalination plants capable of sucking millions of gallons of seawater from the surrounding oceans every day, removing the salt and yielding potable water. In two years, when the last plant is scheduled to be up and running, Australia’s major cities will draw up to 30 percent of their water from the sea.

The country is still recovering from its worst drought ever, a decade-long parching that the government says was deepened by climate change. With water shortages looming, other countries, including the United States and China, are also looking to the sea.

“We consider ourselves the canary in the coal mine for climate change-induced changes to water supply systems,” said Ross Young, executive director of the Water Services Association of Australia, an umbrella group of the country’s urban water utilities. He described the $13.2 billion as “the cost of adapting to climate change.”

But desalination is also drawing fierce criticism and civic protests. Many homeowners, angry about rising water bills, and environmentalists, wary of the plants’ effect on the climate, call the projects energy-hungry white elephants. Stricter conservation measures, like mandating more efficient washing machines, would easily wring more water from existing supplies, critics say.

Desalination has also helped dampen the enthusiasm for a “big Australia,” the previous, immigration-friendly government’s projection that the country’s population will rise to 36 million in 2050, from 22 million now.

Will oil be coal?

Peak Oil, a point where the world’s oil production tops off, may be around the corner, somewhere between now and 2025.

Add political uncertainty and speculative frenzy to the mix. The no-brainer result: bumper prices for the world’s primary energy source.

There is growing consensus that a barrel of oil at $100 (and plus plus at times), at constant 2008 prices, might be the norm for a large part of the next 20 years.

For a foretaste of possible hubris, look no further than the world’s last primary energy source: coal.

Peak Oil and the Myth Behind Our Energy Independence

Yet, as I noticed more Hummers showing their gas guzzling faces than usual, I couldn't help but shake my head and wonder whether or not the American public has forgotten about $150/bbl oil.

After all, it's only been two years...

But the re-emergence of Hummers aside, there was something else that captured my attention.

The public is about to get blind-sided by the upcoming peak oil crunch.

India enters brave new world

As protests on the subcontinent showed, people are not going to give up cheap petrol without a fight. But subsidies on fossil fuels are giving the market a bias against the crucial introduction of renewable energy.

BP reportedly in talks to sell Alaska oil field

LONDON — BP is in talks to sell up to $12 billion of assets, including its big stake in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America, The Sunday Times of London reported.

A sale would be the latest of several steps the beleaguered oil giant is taking to raise money to pay for damages from the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times said.

BP Makes Progress in Changing Oil-Capture System at Leaking Well in Gulf

BP Plc is making progress on removing a device capturing oil from its leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, as it prepares to install a more efficient collection system.

BP plans to have a new seal on the gushing well sometime within the next week and the company said it will take two to three weeks to connect all the surface vessels to the wellhead. BP’s target is to collect as much as 80,000 barrels a day, more than the estimated amount of the leak, Kent Wells, vice president of exploration and production, said in a conference call from Houston yesterday.

Tests: No crude oil in tar balls found along Florida coast

U.S. Coast Guard lab findings defy the longstanding belief that a regular ingredient of at least some of the tar balls that for years have turned up occasionally on state beaches is either crude spilled during offshore drilling or oil that seeped from natural vents under the Gulf.

Of the 192 batches of Florida tar-ball samples sent since mid-May to a Coast Guard laboratory in Connecticut, the vast majority have turned out to be lumps of heavy fuel oil, dark and syrupy as molasses and commonly used to power oceangoing ships.

Ownership of hybrid vehicles jumps in Hawaii

Hawaii motorists faced with rising gas prices boosted their purchases of hybrid vehicles sharply over the past year, according to a new report.

There were 32,014 hybrid and other alternative-fuel vehicles on the road at the end of June, up 36 percent from 23,503 in June 2009, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said in its Monthly Energy Trends report. That was more than double the average of 15,193 hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles registered in 2006.

Egypt Plans to Build $700 Million Solar Power Plant, Al Ahram Reports

Egypt plans to build a 4 billion Egyptian-pound ($700 million) solar power plant in the south of the country, Al Ahram newspaper reported today, citing Electricity Minister Hassan Younes.

Solar-powered light bulb is one Denver inventor's brilliant idea

In his spartan Capitol Hill office, Katsaros explains how Nokero, the affordable, durable, sun-fueled light, can help the 1.6 billion people worldwide without electricity and wean them from burning dangerous kerosene lamps.

"You know how much money we could save on kerosene?" says James Marshall, a Liberian living in Parker who will soon be distributing Nokero bulbs in his homeland, where there is no network for electrical distribution.

Spain Said to Save $1.5 Billion With Cuts for Wind, Solar Thermal Power

Spain will save consumers at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) through 2013 by cutting the subsidies they pay to wind farms and solar thermal plants, a person familiar with the government’s analysis said.

The reduction coming from a cut in the price paid for clean energy may be as much as 1.3 billion euros, said the person, who asked not to be named because the analysis is confidential.

Study: Smart meters not enough to save home energy

"Smart meters in and of themselves are just not 'smart' enough to get the job done for consumers and our economy," says John A. "Skip" Laitner, director of economic and social analysis at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which produced the report.

If U.S. utilities went beyond "smart meters" to give customers detailed information about how they're using power, Americans could cut home electric use as much as 12% and save at least $35 billion over the next 20 years, reports ACEEE, a nonprofit advocacy group.

New Analysis Triples U.S. Plutonium Waste Figures

WASHINGTON — The amount of plutonium buried at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is nearly three times what the federal government previously reported, a new analysis indicates, suggesting that a cleanup to protect future generations will be far more challenging than planners had assumed.

Clean coal dream a costly nightmare

Sold on a promise of cheap, clean electricity, dozens of communities in Illinois and eight other Midwest states instead are facing more expensive utility bills after bankrolling a new coal-fired power plant that will be one of the nation's largest sources of climate-change pollution.

As the Prairie State Energy Campus rises out of a Downstate field, its price tag already has more than doubled to $4.4 billion — costs that will largely be borne by municipalities including the suburbs of Naperville, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles and Winnetka.

The communities are locked into 28-year contracts that will require higher electricity rates to cover the construction overruns, documents and interviews show. Municipal officials told the Tribune they expect costs to soar even higher before the plant begins operating next year.

Cape Cod vacation home has green roof, solar panels

Horowitz, managing director of ZeroEnergyDesign, says her goal is to create the right aesthetic in as energy-efficient way as possible. She starts by creating a tight envelope or exterior.

"Think of it as a pyramid," she says. "The envelope comes first, then the appliances, then renewables" such as solar or wind. The house has a 2.5 kilowatt rooftop solar array that provides 30% of the home's electricity.

World's smallest houses turn heads

They're cute, eco-friendly, easy to clean, low cost and sometimes even mobile. What's not to love about tiny houses? Do you really need all your stuff?

Strange case of the disappearing islands

In September 2009 it was reported that, in spite of being on maps for centuries, the tiny island of Bermeja, in the Gulf of Mexico, could no longer be found.

The Mexican Government sent out planes and boats and used satellites to try to find it but it was gone. And, along with it, a large claim Mexico was making in the hydrocarbon-rich waters of the Gulf. Some in Mexico said that, clearly, the CIA had blown up their island to subvert their stake.

The United States' response was clear: no island, no claim.

Grass ‘greener’ when artificial

According to the United Nations, the GCC countries are among the world’s highest per capita water users; UAE residents top the table by consuming an average of 550 litres a day each, 80 per cent of which is produced by expensive desalination.

Nonfiction review: 'The Flooded Earth' by Peter D. Ward

Is global warming the cataclysmic threat that Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proclaim it to be? Or do powerful natural forces like variable solar output, plate tectonics and volcanic activity dwarf the climate impact of human-generated greenhouse gases?

Global warming: Honolulu climate change meeting to be held Friday

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It looks like global warming may be affecting Hawaii at an alarming rate. Climate change experts say temperatures are rising at higher elevations -- faster than the global average.

And the amount of rain is declining.

Freshwater sources are also shrinking.

Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier

Reporting from Washington — When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to "guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch."

Many government scientists hailed the president's pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.

"We are getting complaints from government scientists now at the same rate we were during the Bush administration," said Jeffrey Ruch, an activist lawyer who heads an organization representing scientific whistle-blowers.

It's long past time for cruise ships to clean up their act.

Clean-air rules spark cruise boycott threat
U.K. operator threatens to drop Halifax visits

New emission controls planned for Canada's coasts may threaten the country's multi-million-dollar cruise ship industry.

The level of sulphur permitted in fuel used within 200 nautical miles of land is going to be lowered, which would raise the costs of operating in Canadian waters.

The U.S. is making similar changes after a joint agreement reached with Canada in March.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/07/10/ns-new-cruise-sh...

As I understand it, the sulphur content in bunker C oil can be as high as 45,000 ppm.


One of the commentators referenced a story in the UK Mail that just about knocked me on my butt:

How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.

See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-crea...

This insanity has got to stop.


It isn't just cruise ships. Cargo ships too.

This insanity has got to stop.
There is a silver lining. I mean almost litterally a silver lining to this cloud. Ship's pollution wakes promote low clouds, which have a cooling effect. To some small degree these guys are keeping the climate temporarily cooler.

Marine diesel in the US will be required to be ULSD by 2012. Bunker fuel on ships arriving at US ports must be 1kppm or less by 2015: Dirty Bunker Fuel Banned for Large Ships in U.S., Canadian Waters Unfortunately these ship trails do provide some localized cooling as enemy says; forget what the aggregate is supposed to be. Like the decline in air travel phasing out dirty bunkers will have some impact on temps, but what that will be is very difficult to gauge.

Good essay on the topic of finding employment in a post-peak environment:

Finding Employment in Post-Peak Oil America

The Class of 2008 and 2009 are still scrambling to find jobs... and here comes the class of 2010. Are Oil imports into the U.S. down because of the economy, or is the economy partly down due to the decrease in imports? Without doubt the debt situation is worse than Oil at this moment but that does not mean that constricted Oil and high energy costs are not doing their work as well... and perhaps its more than that...

Peak Oil has hit the U.S. The full repercussions of this are unfathomable, but it doesn't take too much thought to see clearly that wasting 4 to 8 years studying something that cannot earn you a living is probably not a great idea.

With end of stimulus, tough times ahead for public colleges

WASHINGTON — Most state governments depend on federal stimulus money to keep public colleges and universities afloat, a new report says. But these funds may be drying up as the new fiscal year begins.

That was excellent. So Florida started laying off tenured faculty. Good for them.

I love this post in the comments section:

JTEXX53 (0 friends, send message) wrote: 7m ago
As an unemployed "Baby Boomer High School Teacher", maybe this will make you folks feel better. I started teaching late in life at 40, now I'm 15 years in in the TRS(Texas Retirement System) pension fund.

I taught a vocational program for H.S. students interested in entering post-secondary Health Career Programs. In the state of Texas, only large high schools offer this type of program. There are only about 12 open positions in the state of Texas for my certification. I accepted a position with a new H.S. in 2008(so you're on a probationary contract the first year), in Jan. 09 I had a series of mini-strokes and missed a lot of days, so my contract was not renewed leaving me without Health Insurance at a time in my life I need it the most. So my main priority is getting any position(regardless of the pay) to get my last 4 years to qualify for my pension.

I'll survive but my generation that protested in the 60's, sold out like a bunch of cheap prostitutes, to the system. Blame it on the Corporate Systems ran by people in my age group and the politicians my age who sold their soul's to these corporations, who then outsourced, so many jobs. The Corporations, the Political system and greed are what screwed things up. When things were good it took a 2 person income to live the good life and now many are unemployed. Life isn't fair, look at the pictures from Haiti.

The two main parties in the U.S.A. are no longer that much different because they both answer to Corporations not their constituents. It's going to take an event that brings our country to it's knees before things will start to change. Comparing the Democrats and Republicans is like looking at two big steaming bowls of S**T side by side. I hope people have started down sizing and have several guns/rifles and a decent ammo stash because you will probably need them. People living in major metroplexes will be totally F'd, if they can't protect themselves and what happens if gas goes through the roof $10+p/gal. Most don't want to even think about it. As a "Baby Boomer" all I can do is apoligize for my generation's behavior.

I'm living large now, I live in my 30' RV in the country, I'm single and have a roof over my head. It helps if you have gone through some tough times in life(as I have). It helps you keep things in better prospective and not put a high power rifle in my mouth and end it all. That would be the easy way! Most families are no more than 2-3 paychecks from being out on the streets, good luck it's going to be a bumpy ride!

westex, you will be shocked to learn that unicorns are real !


Now if we can just prove up the "New Physics," which suggests that we can recover more than 100% of original oil in place, from near zero permeability oil bearing shales.

Isn't the unicorn deer something like a black swan in that they are both rare and unpredictable to the point that some do not believe they exist?

It is Nassim Taleb's thesis that such events while rare are inevitable given enough time.


If an event can occur it will occur at some point. That it has not occurred up until now or rarely occurs can not be used in evaluating the risk of it occurring since the rare event happens at random and can occur at any time.

If BP and the MMS had understood this and acted appropriately we may not have had the gulf spill disaster.

Taleb hypothesizes this is the reason big organizations fail. They are not robust in that they do not have enough built in fail safe redundancies which a larger number of small organizations would likely have.

This makes them vulnerable to unicorn deer/black swan events. When they fail they drag down those associated with them, even governments and economic systems.

Peak Oil looks like a unicorn deer to me.

black swan event or a pixi dust event, could be either.

Maybe Unicorns were just so lovely and desirable, they just got hunted to extinction?

I mean, as 'Selection for fitness' is concerned, isn't it funny that the Mutation that puts FOUR petals onto a clover apparently assures the death of that bud as soon as someone notices and picks it? Seems like a handy guarantee that they'll continue to be 'rare and special'..

So Unicorns were land Tuna??

I liked the part about the guy confusing training with education. Several friends of mine, and one relative, has fallen into exactly the same sort of trap.

I really like the other site the blog author maintains: http://jeffersfarm.blogspot.com/ Opinionated, yes, but this guy is walking the walk. I like his method of preparing a field after harvest for next years planting by using a hog to root it up. I can get pigs from the neighbor down the road. Maybe I'll throw in a few acorns as a treat.


'Lloyd's adds its voice to dire 'peak oil' warnings'

The Lloyd's insurance market and the highly regarded Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS, known as Chatham House) says Britain needs to be ready for "peak oil" and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming.

Haven't had time to be on TOD this AM, so not sure if this Google news linked article has been discussed already. Got to keep moving this AM - will be back later.

I have been working with a couple of different actuarial committees--on British, one American, with respect to resource constraints and peak oil. I would expect that this kind of thing will get discussions started a great deal more -- I will be in contact with some of the actuaries. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Re: Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier

Here's another example of lack of science understanding within the Obama Administration. From last Friday's SCIENCE:

Solar Sensor Grounded on Revamped Satellite Program

U.S. climate scientists were hoping that the restructuring of a troubled $14 billion environmental satellites program would elevate the importance of climate sensors among instruments scheduled to fly over the next decade. But last week's announcement that the first spacecraft of the reconfigured National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) wouldn't be able to measure the intensity of sunlight has left them feeling out in the cold again.
The omission of TSIS flows from the Obama Administration's efforts to reform NPOESS. The massive weather and climate-monitoring program, under joint management by NASA, NOAA, and the Pentagon during the Bush Administration, has seen its cost double and its schedule fall 5 years behind since 2002.
Last week, NOAA announced that the first craft, JPSS-1, scheduled for 2014, will fly the same four sensors currently scheduled to go up next year on a preliminary mission known as NPP. That decision,...leaves no room for TSIS, now under construction.
That delay could cause a gap in the continuous record of solar brightness, crucial for calculating global warming, that has been maintained since 1978. The only current climate-relevant brightness sensor is on an orbiting NASA craft called SORCE, which is 5 years beyond its design life...scientists wanted TSIS to go up no later than 2014.

E. Swanson

Are there any non-U.S. birds flying now or that will be launched soon with sensors similar to TSIS?

I don't know about other countries research. Here and here are summaries of US work. There are also ground based measurements, but those do not capture the continuous energy flow and can't see most of the UV, which is filtered out by the ozone in the upper atmosphere. Google produced a link showing pictures of the instruments...

E. Swanson

Surely the weather will happen, regardless of spending 14 Billion watching it from space. The pie is in the oven - we don't need a gravy train program to tell us what the outcome will be??

pondlife, I agree with the substance of your comment "the pie is in the oven", but does it make sense to turn up the temperature in the oven further still?

Doing anything meaningful about climate change, other than sitting back and taking the hit, will require massive changes in world economic activity. The cost to the economy, either as direct expenses to transition to non-CO2 emitting energy sources or the cost to the economy of massively reduced economic activity will be large.

Many people who are not scientists will not accept such changes without hard evidence to provide convincing proof. A continuous monitoring of solar activity is one of the basic parts of that proof, as the false claim that the recorded global warming trend is all due to solar variation has already being spread widely. Without continuous data, such as seen in the first link, there would be little possibility to counter those denialist claims and thus there would be less willingness to accept the restrictions necessary to face the problem head on...

E. Swanson

That delay could cause a gap in the continuous record of solar brightness, crucial for calculating global warming, that has been maintained since 1978.

Having continuous records is extremely important. Really disappointed because I thought the Obama Admin. would have understood the importance of this type of monitering, especially if he is going to make an argument for policies relating to AGW.

Having continuous records is extremely important.

And the denialists would love for data gaps to open up. Then they can shout "Its the sun stupid".

This program was screwed up since it began during the Clinton administration.

Community - The Third Annual Wildfire BBQ

First some background: There was an 8,800 Acre Wildfire three years ago that came within a couple of miles of our boondocks area. Because it is rural, you seldom see (or have contact with) people on other roads since the area is about 4-5 square miles For example, there are only three full-time families on my road. But, during the fire we had a lot more telephone contact providing each other information. After the fire was out, my wife and I thought it would be nice for everyone in the area to get together and sort of review what went on and how to plan for future emergencies.

Ok, one of the key points is that community just doesn't happen organically...someone has to take real initiative to get it going.

One of the general things we did this year was update the area parcel maps (parcels range from 6 to 360Ac) and phone/Internet tree.

The main topics of conversation this year were the air horn emergency alarm I had made but most of the "guy" talk was about the future and the well blow-out.

Not one person was sanguine about the future and, essentially, everyone expects some sort of collapse. With that as the underlying theme, we talked about dealing with any hordes" (close the highways far from us and whack any that get through). We went on to vehicle fuel. One guy was hot about EVs and was shot down by those of us who see no future for them in our area. Instead, we pushed woodgas. I brought out all the info I had including blueprints for gasifiers.

We did talk about alternative energy and various area options we have for stuff like microhydro. Plus, many of us already have alternative systems of one sort or another.

Then we talked about food production. Compared to many places, we have a good base to start from, from animals to gardens/orchards. We also talked about food storage.

In this same vein, we talked about the stupidity of city people who think they'll drive to the boondocks and "live off the land."

Then, finally, the blowout. Everyone was PO'd at BP and the gov. There was a feeling that this will be the straw that breaks the economy's back. We didn't get into how the US might look when all is said and done.

So, that's a quick synopsis. We all had a good time and will have the 4th annual get-together next summer. It is a lot of work for my wife (especially my wife since she does all the calling) and I to get it set-up (who is good for what days, who is going to bring what, etc) but it simply wouldn't happen without the effort. Community requires a commitment on everyone's part.


Edit to add: We had about 22 people. We would have had more but it wasn't a good day for four families.

That was an inspiring post Todd. It sounds like you are fortunate enough to have like-minded people around you.

Hi Todd,
Speaking of gasifiers, have you made or do you have plans for making one?
All of mine so far have been simple retorts, for obtaining charcoal.
Good post BTW, interesting to hear what folks who live on the edge are thinking of.
You have lucky neighbors.

Hi Spaceman,

Although I have the "parts," I haven't built one. I have lots of plans:

FEMA publication RR28 - Construction of a Simplified Wood Gas... It's about mounting one on a tractor. Very complete plans.

Mother Earth News Blueprints and Mother's Wood-Gas Update Report

Plus many articles I picked off various sites.


if you don;t want to do it the hard way, there are two outfits you can buy small gasifiers from;



Both of these outfits have built the FEMA, and numerous other types, they look to be pretty on the ball with this stuff.

In this same vein, we talked about the stupidity of city people who think they'll drive to the boondocks and "live off the land."

I've often wondered about this myself... where exactly does the entire population of Los Angeles, or Phoenix, or Las Vegas propose to actually go in order to "live off the land"? Sure, the survivalists have their "bug out bag" all packed up, but where are they going and what are they going to live off of once they get there? If things ever get to the point of mass evacuations of large cities, I forsee a "locust effect", rather than "living off the land"... people stripping the countryside for miles around, and then moving on.

Sad as it may sound, the best place to "live off the land" might be near one of those nasty industrial feed lots for cattle or industrial chicken farms. Easy pickings and not much competition if a person can beat the otherwise occupied crowds looting, fighting, or otherwise cleaning out the local stores.


you might be a uber-capitalist if:

you pledge allegiance to the sanctity of pv economics.

you believe you can forecast future oil and ng prices, leap tall buildings in a single bound or drill a well in the marianas trench.

you believe that ng associated with oil production is expendable,it is ok to flare or vent gas from an oil reservoir because no gas sales are available.

you believe that it is ok to sell gas from a gas/condensate reservoir when recycling of the gas would increase condensate recovery.

you assume water displacement at a high rate will increase the pv of your water displacement project.

you believe the earth has infinite oil supplies.

your name is boone pickens or abrey mcclendon and you believe ng parity should be achieved by increasing the demand for ng.

on the other hand, if you believe in abiotic oil, you are just run of the mill freekin' delusional.

I can't make out if it's a subtle joke that, in a post about the undesirability of uber-capitalists you yourself are so not an uber-capitalist or even a capitalist you don't include a single capital; if so, well played, sir.

i am a pseudo-capitalist, and not a very good one.

Chinese credit firm declares US worse risk than China in first report on government debt

A Chinese firm that aims to compete with Western rating agencies declared Washington a worse credit risk than Beijing in its first report on government debt Sunday amid efforts by China to boost its influence in global markets.

Dagong International Credit Rating Co.'s verdict was a break with Moody's, Standard & Poors and Fitch, which say U.S. government debt is the world's safest. Dagong said it rated Washington below China and 11 other countries such as Switzerland and Australia due to high debt and slow growth. It warned the U.S. is among countries that might face rising borrowing costs and risks of default.

This Chinese debt-rater, as you might expect, has connections with the propaganda arm of Chinese government.

Nevertheless, they have point. And the US is going to have to get used to being publicly labeled as less than pristine on the credit front by other powerful entities. The last US default on government debt was in the late '70s - early 80's when the dollar was devalued by 50%.

US bond raters are, of course, a god-awful mass of corruption. We'll see if the Chinese outdo them.

Create your own internet oil spill:


Wall Street Apocalypse: The World of the Doomsday Investors

Predictions of the end of civilization are nothing new, but the direst prognosticators have, traditionally, existed on the fringes of society, where their dark visions can be comfortably attributed to an excess of libertarianism or a shortage of Prozac.

In the last few years, however, something strange has happened. While there is no lack of survivalists stockpiling cat food and rifles, some of the direst thinkers are now working on Wall Street, where a combination of fear and foresight has many of the country's money men contemplating their escape routes.

...For some companies, predictions of apocalypse have been good for business: Post Peak Living and Transition United States have both used dark visions to build a compelling business model that can convince the gullible and frightened to fork over cash for useless advice

I guess the author of the article implies that we should "Party On Dude." I am "Shocked, shocked" that someone in the media would offer such advice.

My "Iron Triangle" essay:


The prevailing message from some major oil companies, some major oil exporters and some energy analysts can be roughly summarized as follows “Party On Dude!”

Meanwhile, over on the other two legs of the Iron Triangle, the auto, housing and finance group is focused on selling and financing the next auto and house, and the media group just wants to sell advertising to the auto, housing and finance group. The media group is only too happy to pass on the “Party On Dude” message to consumers.

To some extent, what we are seeing across the board, from large sectors of the energy industry to the auto/housing/finance industry, media and beyond, is the "Enron Effect," i.e., many people know that we have huge problems ahead, but their paychecks are dependent on the status quo. . .

At least those of us trying to warn of what is coming can try to be ready with a credible plan to try to make things "Not as bad as they would otherwise be,” when it becomes apparent to a majority of Americans that we cannot have an infinite rate of increase in the consumption of a finite energy resource base. How's that for a campaign slogan?

I concur WT. Strength of character has never been a job requirement on Wall Street.

"an excess of libertarianism or a shortage of Prozac" see that's just it WT, the real problem is that we don't have enough prozac, like the author. Of course to get to have 'enough' antidepressants to numb to the point where he is at us would push the limits of our subhuman livers unlike Bruce 'Welbutrin' Watson. Golly and then the best part is that if we were jacked up on enough Prozac we could just...I don't know...MAKE FUN OF PEOPLE WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS and not feel guilty about it! HA! Who wants to start?!?!?! Oooh pick me I have a real zinger about people with autism, and bipolar disorder, and.......

useless advice

Well, I just spent three hours on the phone going through the next iteration of the Chickens 101 course, which will be taught by Harvey Ussery and I thought he planned on giving lots of good advice on how to integrate a flock of chickens into a homestead.

Maybe the author was listening in and has a better way to feed chickens with less commercial seed? He should ask to run a course through us.

Look on the bright side: at least you have a compelling business model :)

My impression of the middle- and upper-class doomers is of a combination of stupid naivete and the sort of nihilism which causes the very thing they fear. I would say that of Randians as well. Of course the attitude exists on Wall Street and in part precipitated the current depression.

One good way to prepare for the future is to have a large, very loyal cadre. This means people you feed. Since Wall Street or Tony Hayward know zip about it all, really, I hate to tell them the bad news.

I rather think I could raise chickens with field corn and earthworms. And maggots. See my second paragraph.

I was thinking of stockpiling neem oil, myself.

Re: America will face daunting challenges

This dramatic change will impose unheard-of changes in our society. Arguably the greatest change is seniors living with their working children. For tens of millions of seniors, this will arise as an economic necessity. Social Security payments will be a much smaller percentage of a senior's cost to live -- if there are any payments at all.

So the life cycle of children living with their parents will change to parents -- as seniors -- living with their children. The elite will, of course, maintain traditional life cycles, and the homeless will be unable to take in their parents.

I hope we all can at least have our MTV so we can watch the elites maintain their traditional lifestyles.

(I wonder if elite meat is more lean and tender than worker man meat....hmmm like young birds vs old boilers or sumthin)

Democrats, Republicans–and the Sunscreen Party

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration isn't known for its political forecasts, but last spring, the agency quietly released a 40-page study that should give a jolt to any campaign strategist who hopes to work in the next dozen election cycles.

Simply called "Scenarios for 2035," the report never once mentions voting trends or red-blue divides, but it does explain how changes in climate could quickly and radically reshape American politics–upending the power balance in Congress, scuttling traditional paths to the White House, and igniting new fights over natural and financial resources.

The NOAA report joins a variety of other studies, from the government and from environmental groups, that suggest politicians as a species may need to adapt to climate change as fast as polar bears. Consider the ways the electoral environment could be affected: Both major political parties could see their power bases erode as Americans, responding to warming temperatures and rising seas, flee the Republican-dominated South and Democratic-friendly coasts.

This assumes that the democratic process remains intact till 2035 - a BIG assumption.

OBTW, The "Too Little, Too Late" scenario is interesting - sorta like whats happening in real life.

That NOAA report is fatally flawed by illogical, and in some cases absurd, scenarios. I'm surprised NOAA put this out, but I'm guess that one reason why they are so hush-hush about it is that even NOAA realizes it wasn't a very good effort.

The NOAA report was dated May 2009, only 4 months after President Obama took office. The report writing was begun under Bush 43 and may represent a last gasp of the Bush Administration to confuse things regarding Climate Change. That said, after a quick scan, I don't see the report as being "illogical", but I do think the scenarios are perhaps too conservative. One might wonder just why NOAA felt it necessary to present those 3 scenarios, but they do offer a glimpse of the future of the US and the rest of the world, based on the set of scientific assumptions given. They might have added a few graphs, such as the expected growth in CO2 levels which each scenario produces...

E. Swanson

obama has powers to assassinate umerikan citizens and citizens of other nationalities at will. it's in all the news feeds. also, the usa has a track record of killing innocents and noncombatants with it's unmanned predator drones armed with missiles. so why is wayward hayward the ceo of bp still alive? i guess billionaires can kill an entire ecosystem along with 11 people and avoid any justice.

only poor people get targeted for removal. it's just amazing the immunity a few hundred million or billion dollars will get you. it's been bantered about how corporations have rights. citizens have rights and responsibilities. citizens go to jail for murder or wanton destruction. why not corporations? isnt there some horrible crime a corporation can commit that warrants it's demise?
arent corporations lead by people? and those who get the most gain should also pay the highest price.

i will gladly pilot the predator drone to wayward hayward's location and push the button to launch the missiles. and if a certain number of innocents and non combatants get killed? WHAT OF IT? maybe corporations will put safety first in the future if ceo's are assassinated. it's more of an advantage today to be a corporation than an individual. i say there is something wrong with that paradigm. can you dig it?

the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest. hasnt that been proven true over and over again?

it's been bantered about how corporations have rights. citizens have rights and responsibilities. citizens go to jail for murder or wanton destruction. why not corporations? isnt there some horrible crime a corporation can commit that warrants it's demise?

This is the next logical step in the "personification" of corporate identity.
After all, they ARE on welfare.

A couple of us went on a neighborhood garden walk today - about 3 miles from my house. I'm happy to report that almost all the gardens we visited had some kind of vegetable or herb garden.

Many were formal, with the usual lawns, evergreens and statuary, but still had room for tomatoes, beans, lettuces, peppers. Lots of raspberry bushes - volunteers, probably. It was pretty interesting.

Bee gardens too...

A natural gas powered car would be nice. A hybrid would be especially good.

I wouldn't mind a "third rail lane" down the large roadways, where I could hook to a third rail and run my car electrically from that. Granted, that may be just dreaming. Still, I read stuff like "it would take an area the size of Arizona to gather the photovoltaic electricity we need - environmentalists would raise hell." But elsewhere I read things like "All the asphalt in the U.S. would cover an area the size of Arizona." Hello?

The "Final Solution" (?)

I would like to point out that I read a very disturbing article "America will face daunting challenges" in yesterday's Oil Drum, and I wanted to share some thoughts about it with you.

Aside from having numerous mathematical and logical inaccuracies, the article stated that the "solution" to ALL of the US economic problems is simply elimination of the "entitlements" program for the elderly.

Let me restate that: the author argued, both explicitly and implicitly, that ALL the problems in this country can be solved simply by the complete elimination of support to its aging population.

Or stated another way, forcing untold millions of our aging population into poverty and premature death is the ONLY way to save our country.

It struck me that the tactic of blaming an aging US population for ALL the problems of the US economy, sounded very similar to the German propaganda campaign leading up the "Final Solution" under Hitler.

Simply blaming ALL the economic problems of the US on an aging population is not only completely wrong, but potentially very dangerous propaganda, one that can have serious social consequences.

Hatred, driven by fear, has always been a great way to unite people under a "common cause."

However, aside from this most recent article, what really disturbs me most is that I have seen this "solution" being increasingly advanced as being the easiest and most acceptable -- not only by fringe elements of our society, but also as a "reasonable" method of resolving US economic issues by the US government itself.

Is this really what we want to tell President Obama and our Legislators in Washington what we want our government to do to solve our economic problems -- force millions of people to starve and die so the rest can survive? Have we come to that juncture already?

This is a very "slippery slope" that I do not believe we as a country really want to start down, since injustice inevitably leads only to more injustice.

What do we do as a nation when this particular "final solution" of simply eliminating "entitlements" for the aged population doesn't work as advertised?

Which among YOU will be included in the next "final solution" category?

Is this really where we want this country to go?