Drumbeat: July 15, 2010

Michael T. Klare: Clean, Green, Safe and Smart

If the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico tells us anything, it is that we need a new national energy policy—a comprehensive plan for escaping our dangerous reliance on fossil fuels and creating a new energy system based on climate-safe alternatives....

By far the most important part of this strategy must be a change in the overarching philosophy that steers decisions on how much energy the United States should seek to produce, of what sorts and under what conditions. It may not seem as if we operate under such a philosophy today, but we do—one that extols growth over all other considerations, that privileges existing fuels over renewables and that ranks environmental concerns below corporate profit. Until we replace this outlook with one that places innovation and the environment ahead of the status quo, we will face more ecological devastation and slower economic dynamism. Only with a new governing philosophy—one that views the development of climate-friendly energy systems as the engine of economic growth—can we move from our current predicament to a brighter future.

OPEC: The Beginning of the End

There's a moment that every oil-exporting country will experience, sooner or later.

The few select countries lucky enough to label themselves "oil exporter" know it — and have nightmares of the day their number is up.

Why the fright?

Because we live in a cutthroat, fossil fuel-driven world — a reality we have little chance of changing in our lifetime.

Still think everything is right with the world's oil production?

Let us take a lesson from a country that's been through the ropes...

Kicking the Oil Habit

It may be shocking to read in The Nation, but a blanket moratorium on new deepwater drilling may not be the best policy to pursue in the wake of the BP disaster. No state in the union is more addicted to oil than Louisiana; the oil and gas industry is responsible for roughly 25 percent of the state's economic activity. If you abruptly cut off a hardened heroin addict, you can kill him; there is a reason physicians prescribe methadone rather than cold turkey. Louisiana absolutely needs to kick its oil habit; but it must do so through a planned, orderly transition or it will not work.

Peak Oil: World Crisis, Arab Oil Producers Benefit

As the world demand for energy increases and the supplies cannot keep pace the resulting imbalances will play havoc with the price of oil. We have already witnessed what a slight shortage could do in 2008 when the price per barrel rose parabolic ally to over $140. Under the scenario of peak oil towards the end of this decade that previous price will be appreciably overshot. There are some who project a price of over $300 per barrel given the tight market conditions predicted by peak oilers.

We’re Speeding On The Road To Extinction

The catastrophe confronting us is the severest that life has ever faced and incredibly its one of our own making. The scientific and technological advances that civilisation experienced in the past two centuries changed the world from a vibrant diverse ecosystem to a fragile one. It’s hard to find any branch of the ecosystem that is in better condition to support human life today than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. This is in spite of the exponential increased in knowledge and abilities.

BP And The peak: Delusions Of Oil Grandeur Persist

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may have led many to believe that there are vast supplies of oil under the ground. This is, in part, true. However, the daunting reality is that the remaining oil reserves are located in places from which it is exorbitantly expensive to extract.

The Magic Of Energy Engineering

A former Energy Secretary rightly observes that we need concerted effort to overcome energy challenges. But it's tricky business.

Chevron asks to look for natural gas in Bulgaria

Oil giant Chevron Corp. wants to look for natural gas in shale deposits in Bulgaria’s northeast, near the Romanian border.

San Ramon-based Chevron executives and the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, James Warlick, met Bulgaria’s prime minister, Boiko Borisov, on Tuesday, to discuss the potential development of energy resources in the country.

Nigeria to Sell Most Bonds in at Least Four Quarters

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria will sell the biggest amount of bonds in at least four quarters in the three months through October as it seeks to finance projects amid unstable crude oil revenue, Afrinvest (West Africa) Ltd. said.

Water row key to India-Pakistan rivalry

BUDHAN KAY, Pakistan — For Pakistani farmer Ghulam Sarwar, only war with India can overcome the water shortages parching his crops and drying up his profits.

His family owns 85 acres (34 hectares) in northern Punjab, traditionally the bread basket of Pakistan but where the country's sizeable agriculture sector is finding it increasingly difficult to irrigate crops.

"This year water supply is less than last year. Crop earnings decline every year and water shortages have affected 50 percent of our agricultural business. The problems with India can only be resolved with war," said Sarwar.

Gauging Oil Prices Using Global GDP

No correlation between changes in global GDP and changes in average oil prices exists (i.e. correlation is a negative .08 between years 1970 to 2009). However, patterns of oil price sensitivity to economic conditions are quite apparent during periods of strength or weakness.

Uzbekistan energy officials fired

The firings were linked to Karimov's dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the oil and gas sector, an Uzbekneftegaz official who lacked authorisation to talk to media said on condition of anonymity.

"Nationwide recently we've seen a severe shortage of diesel fuel and gasoline", the official said. "On top of that, an inspection in June found deficiencies and financial shortfalls in a number of oil refineries. All this couldn't go unnoticed at the top".

US reviews changes in offshore oil drilling office

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday received plans to restructure the now defunct scandal-plagued office that regulated offshore oil drilling.

The overhaul comes after an Interior Department probe in May showed that staff at the Minerals Management Service district office in Lake Charles, Louisiana used illegal drugs, accepted gifts from oil companies and falsified inspection reports.

BP to start key tests on ruptured oil well

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – British energy giant BP said it hoped to begin a key test Thursday to study the condition of a ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil wellhead after a leak delayed the crucial process a second time.

"I'm expecting that we'll start up here later this morning, sometime today," said BP senior vice president Kent Wells. "Obviously, we're looking to start this process as soon as we can."

US govt says BP must pay royalties on captured oil

(Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday said BP (BP.L) must pay royalties on all oil and natural gas captured from its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf oil spill FAQ

(CNN) -- Here are answers to some basic questions about the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spill Panel to Press Obama Team on Drilling Ban

The leaders of a presidential panel investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill expressed skepticism Tuesday about a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling and said they would press the Obama administration on why a prolonged ban is needed.

"We're going to look over their shoulder and have some comments to make as to whether we think the judgments they made are appropriate," said Bob Graham, one of the two co-chairmen of the National Commission on the BP-Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

The 50-year farm bill

We need new strategies for agriculture that emphasize efficient nutrient use in order to lower production costs and minimize negative environmental effects. The trouble is, the best soils on the best landscapes are already being farmed. Much of the future expansion of agriculture will be onto marginal lands where the risk of irreversible degradation under annual grain production is high. As these areas become degraded, expensive chemical, energy, and equipment inputs will become less effective and much less affordable.

The Nuclear Option

Is atomic energy clean and green?

Rare Earths: They're Neither Rare nor Earths. But They Could Save the Planet

If the periodic table was actually a roulette table and people could bet on the element they thought would be the next big thing in energy production, you'd find chips scattered all over the board, in just about every column and row.

But among all the wagers, you'd find some surprisingly handsome stacks along one obscure corridor of elements: the rare earths, the top of the two rows hanging in space beneath the periodic table. Many green energy options rely on these elements, so it's an intriguing bet. Unfortunately, there's just as good a chance that a lack of rare earths could stymie a few eco-friendly technologies before they even get started.

Review of the must-read book: Merchants of Doubt

In Merchants of Doubt Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway take us on a fascinating trip down what they call Tobacco Road. Take the journey with them, and you’ll see renowned scientists abandon science, you’ll see environmentalism equated with communism, and you’ll discover the connection between the Cold War and climate denial.

And for the most part, you’ll be entertained along the way.

Why the tech revolution isn’t a template for an energy revolution

It seems a long time ago now, but back in February there was an awful lot of fuss about an energy company that had supposedly come up with a revolutionary new technology.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple, despite the roster of Silicon Valley stars that lined up to trial the company’s wares. Yet breathless reports of exciting energy technologies continue to pop up periodically, particularly in recent years in connection with the information technology world, as many IT entrepreneurs have decided to focus on ‘clean tech’. Some have no doubt made big inroads, such as electric car maker Tesla.

But the idea that the great leaps made by IT and networking technologies in the past decade can be easily transferred to the looming energy challenge is shallow and misleading.

John Michael Greer: The ways of the Force

By now those of my readers who have joined me on the current Archdruid Report project – the creation of a “green wizardry” using the heritage of the appropriate technology movement of the Seventies – should have downloaded at least one of their textbooks and either have, or be waiting for the imminent arrival of, the rest. Now it’s time to get into the core principles of green wizardry, and the best way to do it involves shifting archetypes a bit. Give me a moment to slip on a brown robe, tuck something less clumsy or random than a blaster into my belt, and practice my best Alec Guinness imitation: yes, Padawans, you’re about to start learning the ways of the Force.

At 90, an eco-pioneer looks ahead

Worries about a catastrophic oil spill ... a sense of impending ecological decline ... political gridlock over environmental policy. It all sounds familiar to 90-year-old Russell Train, who was in on the beginnings of the environmental movement. Except for the political gridlock, that is.

The political factor is the big difference that Train sees between how things were back the '70s, when he was a top environmental policymaker in the Nixon White House, and how they are today.

House Committee Could Compel BP To Unload Gulf Assets To Rivals

The prospect that BP could face a ban on getting any new offshore licenses to produce oil and gas in the U.S. for a number of years could force BP to jettison its Gulf of Mexico assets to get better value for its shareholders.

Alabama port determined to stay open amid threat of oil spill

Despite the looming threat of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a shipping yard in Alabama is determined to stay open for business.

Report: Amputations without anesthesia in NKorea

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's health care system is in shambles with doctors sometimes performing amputations without anesthesia and working by candlelight in hospitals lacking essential medicine, heat and power, a human rights watchdog said Thursday.

Wall St and peak oil

One of the enduring lines about peak oil is that authorities keep it a secret because there would be some kind of financial havoc if it were revealed. A recent example is a claim that Steven Chu, US energy secretary:

“… knows all about peak oil, but he can’t talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash.”

Is it really possible that oil traders, investors and analysts haven’t heard of peak oil?

Or that they have decided to ignore it altogether?

Oil Pares Losses After Falling on China Economic Growth Data, Fed Outlook

Crude oil rose as the dollar weakened against the euro, after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economic outlook has “softened.”

Brent Crude Futures in Backwardation Following North Sea Supply Reductions

Crude oil futures in London for the earliest delivery were more expensive than later contracts for a second day, after settling at a premium yesterday for the first time in almost a year following North Sea field maintenance.

DOE Update: Refinery Utilization Highest Since 2008, Gasoline Production Highest Ever

This is the second week in a row that crude oil inventories fell by 5 million barrels; but while crude oil inventories have been declining faster than normal over the last two weeks, product inventories have been increasing at a faster rate than normal, in large part due to refinery utilization, which ticked up again last week to 90.5%, the highest level since January 2008.

Colonial Pipeline Limits Fuel Shipments on Line 20 to East Coast Markets

Colonial Pipeline Co., which operates the largest pipeline linking U.S. Gulf Coast refiners to East Coast markets, is limiting shipments on Line 20.

Nominations for cycle 41 will be allocated on the line, which runs from Atlanta to Nashville, as they were approaching levels that would exceed the line’s ability to deliver on a five-day cycle, Colonial said in a bulletin to shippers.

OPEC Forecasts Steady Oil Demand Growth in 2011, Led by Asia

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast that global oil demand will grow in 2011 at about the same rate as this year, led by developing economies such as China and India.

China Oil Refining Rises at Slowest Pace in Eight Months as Economy Cools

China’s June crude-oil processing rose at the most gradual pace in eight months as the world’s fastest-expanding economy slowed, cutting demand for fuel.

Total Says European Refinery Margin Advanced 5.8% From From First Quarter

Total SA, Europe’s biggest oil refiner, said margins from processing crude into fuels such as gasoline and diesel in the second quarter increased 5.8 percent from the first three months of the year.

Desire for cheap gas beats sane energy policy

Any informed observer knows there is a long list of reasons developed nations should act swiftly and urgently to reduce their reliance on oil.

We must do it to avoid catastrophes like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. To soften the impact of price shocks. To improve air quality. To fight climate change. To lessen the risk of peak oil. To enhance our security and deny some of the world's most odious regimes their principal source of money and power.

It's equally obvious this has been true at least since the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

Iran May Switch to U.A.E. Dirhams From Euro for Oil Sales, Oil Daily Says

Iran is considering switching to the United Arab Emirates’ dirham from the euro for its oil sales to Europe to limit the impact of new sanctions, International Oil Daily reported, citing two unidentified industry executives.

National Iranian Oil Co. has been communicating with European customers about the change without making a final decision, the newsletter said. The country currently prices its exports in U.S. dollars, the Oil Daily said.

Iran Nuclear-Fuel Talks Should Open in Late September, Minister Says

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that talks between his country and the world powers on a plan to supply fuel for a Tehran nuclear reactor should start around late September.

Jordan to Import More Gas From Egypt, Explore Qatar, Algeria

Jordan, which imports almost all its energy, is scheduled to sign an agreement in two weeks that will raise gas supplies for power plants to 330 million cubic meters from 240 million cubic meters starting early 2011, Jordanian Energy Minister Khalid Irani said today in an interview.

The countries also agreed to build a pipeline network to bring 500 million cubic meters of Egyptian gas to feed houses and industries in Jordan, Irani said.

BP lobbied UK over Libyan prisoner transfer case

LONDON (Reuters) – BP confirmed on Thursday it had lobbied the British government in late 2007 over a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya because it was concerned a slow resolution would impact an offshore drilling deal with Libya.

Clinton to look into senators' request on BP, Libya

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday she would look into a request by U.S. lawmakers that the State Department investigate whether oil company BP Plc had a hand in the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

BP Not Linked to Decision to Free Lockerbie Bomber Al-Megrahi, U.K. Says

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said there was no link between the Scottish government’s decision to free jailed Libyan Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al- Megrahi and activities undertaken by BP Plc in Libya.

Leak forces new delay to BP oil cap test

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Oil giant BP detected a leak Thursday in equipment to seal the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico gusher, forcing another delay to the start of crucial tests on a new tighter-fitting cap.

After finally getting the green light to begin pressure tests, BP said it would have to postpone the procedure for a second time to repair a leak in a so-called choke line, which leads off from a system of blowout preventers being used in the operation.

AG: Firms other than BP could be liable for spill

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. – Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that corporations other than BP could be held liable eventually for the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

T. Boone Pickens Says BP a `Good Buy' After Shares Climb to 5-Week High

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy investor, said that BP Plc is a good investment as the shares rebound after losing more than half their value following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Rubio calls federal oil spill response "abysmal"

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Senate hopeful Marco Rubio accused the Obama administration of "insanity" and "incompetence" in its handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, while steering from his own support of offshore drilling in a campaign stop Wednesday.

Rubio said Obama should have convened the world's leading experts in the initial days of the spill and devised a plan to stop it, and railed against federal regulatory nitpicking he says has kept containment and clean-up efforts from being more effective.

Americans in 73% Majority Oppose Deepwater Drilling Ban

Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama’s ban on deepwater oil drilling in response to BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico spill, even as they hold the company primarily responsible for the incident.

Almost three-fourths, or 73 percent, say a ban is unnecessary, calling the worst oil spill in U.S. history a “freak accident,” according to a Bloomberg National Poll. Barely more than a third say they support drilling less than they did a few months ago. The BP rig sank in April. The administration issued a new moratorium this week after a court rejected a six-month one imposed in May.

Norway seeks lessons from BP spill, but won’t halt drilling

As Europe’s largest producer of offshore oil, Norway is looking to absorb the lessons from BP PLC’s blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, but its top regulator has seen no reason to halt exploratory drilling.

Suit filed seeking more details on dispersants

NEW ORLEANS – BP's use of chemicals to disperse the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is coming under renewed scrutiny, as environmentalists head to court to seek more information about potential health hazards and a Senate panel plans a Thursday hearing on the issue.

The company has used at least 1.8 million gallons of dispersants on the Gulf's surface and 5,000 feet deep at the source of the leak.

Oil hits Louisiana's largest seabird nesting area

NEW ORLEANS – Biologists say oil has smeared at least 300-400 pelicans and hundreds of terns in the largest seabird nesting area along the Louisiana coast — marking a sharp and sudden escalation in wildlife harmed by BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The finding underscores that official tallies of birds impacted by the spill could be significantly underestimating the scope of damage.

Animal Autopsies in Gulf Yield a Mystery

The vast majority of the dead animals that have been found — 1,866 birds, 463 turtles, 59 dolphins and one sperm whale — show no visible signs of oil contamination. Much of the evidence in the turtle cases points, in fact, to shrimping or other commercial fishing, but other suspects include oil fumes, oiled food, the dispersants used to break up the oil or even disease.

Lukoil, Gazprom are among exploration investors in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT (Itar-Tass) -- Foreign companies involved in exploration in Uzbekistan plan to invest over 1.9 billion dollars over 2010-2015, the head of Uzbekistan’s institute of geology and exploration of oil and gas deposits of the Uzbekneftegaz Company, Gaibulla Abdullayev, said on Thursday.

Among the biggest investors there are Russia’s Lukoil, Gazprom, PetroAlliance and foreign CNPC International /China/, Korea National Oil Corporation /South Korea/, and Petronas Carigali Overseas /Malaysia/, he said.

Govt asks RIL to cut supplies to fertiliser, power plants

The government has asked Reliance Industries to cut natural gas supplies to power and fertilizer plants so that new users like Essar Oil's Vadinar refinery can be given gas from its KG-D6 fields.

Oil Ministry this week issued written instructions to the billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run firm to make a "pro-rata" cut in gas supplies to all existing customers if the production from its KG-D6 field cannot support new customers, two sources with direct knowledge of the information have said.

Indian Oil May Invest in Africa, Indonesia in $1 Billion Overseas Push

Indian Oil Corp., the country’s second-biggest refiner, plans to acquire oilfields in Africa as part of a $1 billion overseas investment plan, its chairman said.

“Africa is top of our list to buy assets because it is near India and has good quality crude,” Brij Mohan Bansal said in an interview at his office in New Delhi today. “We are planning retail outlets in Indonesia.”

Total buys a Chevron offshore Nigerian oil stake

LAGOS, Nigeria — French oil firm Total SA says it has signed a deal to acquire Chevron Corp.'s stake in an offshore oil block near Nigeria's coastline.

New Report: U.S. Electric Utilities Must Embrace Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency to Compete in 21st Century

The most successful utilities in the 21st Century will be very different from those of the 20th Century. To remain competitive, U.S. utilities will need to provide cleaner, low-carbon electricity while enabling customers to better manage and reduce their energy use. Achieving this will require significant changes to the traditional utility business model.

Energy revolution is under way, says IEA

The energy technology revolution required to tackle climate change and enhance global energy security is finally under way, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Paris-based agency has launched its Energy Technology Perspectives 2010 publication and says that it can see the “green shoots” of change after calling for an energy revolution “for several years”.

Illegal logging of tropical forests down

Illegal logging of tropical woodland has fallen sharply, providing welcome news in the fight against climate change and a lifeline for a billion poor people who depend on forests for survival, a report released on Thursday said.

Since 2000, international efforts to stem the illicit felling of trees has spared about 17 million hectares in three countries alone, amounting to a preserved area larger than England and Wales, the London think tank Chatham House said.

Project’s Fate May Predict the Future of Mining

The Obama administration’s threat to curtail a major mountaintop mining project could signal a shift in policy.

Rethink Alberta Campaign targets tourists

A U.S.-based environmental group launched an ad campaign Wednesday criticizing the province's oil sands and asking tourists to stay away from Alberta.

Yobe: Trying to Survive without Oil Money

The present plan to seek alternatives to petroleum as energy source by developed countries has spurred the people of tiny Yobe State to come to terms with the fact that over-dependence on oil revenue is no more in vogue.

CityGlider off to flying start

Brisbane’s first 24 hour high-frequency bus service has been hailed a success just three months after it hit inner-city streets.

...CityGlider buses depart every five minutes during peak hour and every 10-15 minutes during off-peak times.

May the Best Flusher Win

What does the Grand Canyon have in common with the world’s largest toilet? They’re both stops on the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest promotional campaign, a “We’re for Water” cross-country road trip aimed at educating consumers about water-saving behavior and products certified through the agency’s WaterSense program.

Prevailing in the pursuit of soul food

You begin to look at life in a different way when you’re waiting in line for food stamps.

For me, that point in life has come sooner than expected.

Transition Tours: Abandoned S.F. lots reborn

On a quiet street bordered by warehouses in the Potrero neighborhood is a long, narrow garden, an unlikely swath of green in an urban industrial neighborhood. The garden is the CCA FARM, an experiment in community engagement and land reclamation initiated by Robyn Waxman, then a graduate design student at the California College of the Arts. Similar projects are cropping up in neighborhoods across San Francisco as residents and community groups collaborate with the city to transform abandoned lots into gardens.

Fannie and Freddie Are Sued in California

The California attorney general’s office on Wednesday sued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over actions by the mortgage finance companies that have derailed a popular financing program that allows homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements through a surcharge on their property taxes.

Prince Charles attacks climate change sceptics

The Prince of Wales last night launched an attack on climate sceptics, deriding them for peddling "pseudo science".

In a speech to world business leaders at a climate change seminar, Charles criticised such sceptics for apparently intimidating people from "adopting the precautionary measures necessary to avert environmental collapse".

Senate Eyes Bush Plan on CO2

It looks like Democratic leaders in the Senate, searching for a breakthrough on climate and energy legislation, are circling back a decade to the Bush plan. By that I mean the carbon dioxide policy pushed by George W. Bush in his campaign against former Vice President Al Gore for the presidency in 2000.

In fight over California's global warming law, money is flowing

Supporters of California's global warming law have raised more than $2 million so far to defend the landmark legislation in what's shaping up as an expensive November ballot battle.

China’s CO2 emissions need to peak by 2020: IEA

BEIJING - China’s emissions of carbon dioxide need to peak by 2020 if the world is to meet its 2050 targets aimed at curbing climate change, the head of the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.

Then and Now: The Retreating Glaciers

In 1921, George Mallory, a British mountaineer, took a black-and-white photograph of Mount Everest. The photo, now legendary, shows the world’s highest peak in the distance and an S-shaped river of ice running toward the foreground: the Rongbuk glacier.

Three years ago, David Breashears, a mountaineer, photographer and filmmaker, returned to the very spot where Mr. Mallory stood to take the photograph and updated the vista. The change is sobering.

Google Earth map showing temperature rises unveiled

LONDON (AFP) – British ministers have launched a new Google Earth map designed to show the potential impact of temperature rises of four degrees Celsius.

The interactive map lets members of the public see the dramatic changes that could occur if action is not taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The new OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is out with June production. (Large PDF) There was little change in to total OPEC production from May, but there was considerable change is some individual nations.

I have been tracking OPEC production, on the OPEC page, for a few years now. I have noticed that three producers, and only three, are actually holding some oil off the market. Those three are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. I plot the combined production of those three producers below and label them "Holding Back".

Nine OPEC nations are producing flat out. Well, in my opinion anyway. Those nations are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and Venezuela. I have combined the production from those nine producers in the chart below and labeled them "Flat Outs".

The Flat Outs peaked in December of 2007 and by the total OPEC peak in July of 2008, they had declined by 170,000 bp/d in spite of oil prices above $140 a barrel. They did obey the call for OPEC to cut production in October of 2008 but soon began cheating. They reached a peak in February of this year and have resumed their decline of about 1.25 percent per year.

Of course the three nations holding back are also cheating on their quotas also but I think that between them they do have from 1 mb/d to 1.5 mb/d in spare capacity. The idea that they have 5 to 6 mb/d in spare capacity however is nonsense. Again, that is in my opinion and everyone has an opinion.

Flat Outs
Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and Venezuela
Holding Back
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE

Monthly production in thousands of barrels per day from January 2005 thru June 2010.
Crude only. Does not include Condensate or NGLs.


From May to June the Flat Outs were down 48 kb/d while the other three were up 53 kb/d.

Ron P.

If ace is right, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE are not holding back: World Oil Forecasts Including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE - Update Feb 2008.

I think Ace is way too pessimistic. We need to look at each producing nation, their projects coming on line and the decline rate of their current fields. I have done that, with the limited data available, and come to the conclusion that we will not fall off the plateau until late 2012 or 2013. Ace predicted we would fall off the plateau in 2009.

There have been a few surprises from Russia, the USA and China, the three largest non-OPEC producers, that have kept non-OPEC production well above what was expected. All three of these countries appear to have peaked, post Katrina, in the first half of 2010. Russia and the USA are already showing signs of decline however China set a new record in June, according to some news releases. But I expect to see China taper off towered the last of this year.

That being said, the non-OPEC decline will not be that great. I am of the opinion that the non-OPEC decline, which will begin in 2011, will be less than one percent for three or four years.

There is a wild card however. New megaprojects are falling off pretty fast and many of Russia's old fields have an extremely high decline rate. Only infield drilling with new horizontal wells are keeping them from an extremely sharp decline. The older wells are declining in excess of 19 percent per year. But sooner or later the decline will hit them also. Their new megaprojects have kept their production growing.

At any rate I think world oil production will stay on the current six year plateau for a couple of more years.

Ron P.

I have done that, with the limited data available, and come to the conclusion that we will not fall off the plateau until late 2012 or 2013. Ace predicted we would fall off the plateau in 2009.

Great work on the flat outs and holding backs for Opec. My throw of the dice is 2014-2015 for the fall from plateau, but once started it will drop hard and fast due to very high depletion rates via horizontal super straws.

Note that the rate of decline in production of oil after Peak is the crucial variable. If you are right, then the outlook is bleak. If the gradual declinists are right, then we may be able to make adequate adjustments for some years after Peak.

My own guess is that there will be a panic frenzy to build CTL plants in the U.S. about four or five years after Peak, which I think is likely to be 2014 or thereabouts. In other words, I expect everything imaginable will be done to preserve BAU.

I agree with Earl on the decline rate, but only after about 2015. Then it will be fast and furious. But the decline that begins in late 2012 or 2013 will be only very modest.

Ron P.

What about use of Natural Gas and Liquid propane? Steam engines, etc.... Yes, I agree all fuels will be tapped to keep BAU. There may be a market for cow dung as a fuel too. Conservation will kick in at some point when costs are too high to bear.

...panic frenzy to build CTL plants in the U.S. about four or five years after Peak, which I think is likely to be 2014 or thereabouts.

why ctl ? that would only make sense if co2 capture becomes a reality.

ksa probably has a sleeping supergiant condensate reservoir in the ghawar permian khuff if they can figure out how to process and recycle sour gas. iran and qatar have the south pars/north field and uae has the shah field in the same league, sour permian khuff gas.

recycling would require a ghawar sized set of ba11s. in all the history of volatile oil/gas condensate production there are relatively few that have actually conducted gas cycling. gas cycling is blasphemy to pv economicians.

reading between the lines, ksa and qatar are no doubt looking at gas cycling:


The paper presents the results of a study to investigate the variation of gas composition and key PVT properties with depth in the Khuff carbonate reservoirs of the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia. The study was performed as part of a larger effort to characterize the reservoir fluids for compositional simulation and development planning. Laboratory PVT reports on over twenty appraisal wells were used as a basis for the study.


The prospects for further growth in Qatari gas production beyond 2012 are clouded by the uncertainty created by a moratorium on new export projects, which was imposed in 2005 while the effect of existing projects on North Field reservoirs was studied.[38]


I am sure I know more about the oil and gas business than a typical layman, having followed this site as well as a couple of others and reading several books about the subject over the last couple of years.

But this business of "processing and recycling" sour gas is new to me-I understand that sour gas has a lot of sulphur in it, which must be removed at considerable expense, which presumably falls under "processing".But the "recycling" part is not at all clear.

I'm sure lots of other readers are even more in the dark in this respect than I am and would appreciate some additional information.Thanks in advance, anybody who responds!

here is a tantalizing detail to ponder from the wiki article:

In-place volumes are estimated to be around 1800 tcf (51 tcm) gas in place and some 50 billion barrels of condensate in place.[8] With in place volumes equivalent to 360 billion barrels of oil[9] (310 billion barrel of oil equivalent (boe) of gas and 50 billion bbl of condensate) the field is the world’s biggest conventional hydrocarbon accumulation even bigger than Ghawar oil field, which has 170 billion barrels of original oil in place.

South Pars/North Dome FieldThe field recoverable gas reserve is equivalent to some 215 billion barrel of oil and it also holds about 16 billion barrels of recoverable condensate corresponding of about 230 billion barrel of oil equivalent recoverable hydrocarbons.

The gas recovery factor of the field is about 70%, corresponding of about 1,260×10^12 cu ft (36,000 km3) of total recoverable gas reserves which stands for about 19% of world recoverable gas reserves

50 gb condensate in place and 16 gb condensate recoverable. that is just 32 % recovery -vs- 70 % recoverable for the gas(presumably dry gas - methane). where does the condensate go ? it stays in the reservoir and to make a long story short, gas cycling could also approach that 70%, making the recoverable condensate 35 gb instead of 16.

the ghawar oil in place from the wiki article is for the arab d (cretaceous) and does not include the khuff.

Sam's best case is that by the end of 2013, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will have shipped about half of their combined post-2005 CNOE (Cumulative Net Oil Exports), but that their 2013 annual net export rate will only be down by about 13% from their 2005 rate. This is the third principal characteristic of net export declines, i.e., the bulk of post-peak CNOE are shipped early in the decline phase, and therefore the CNOE depletion rate far exceeds the initial net export decline rate.

Another wild card is Brazil.
C&C prod has increased from 1455 to 1950
from 2002 to 2009.This is an increase of 495k bl/da.
Over the same period they have put on stream 2260k bl/da.
We can argue about rated capacity and ramp up times, but
the inescapable conclusion is the underlying base decline
is greater than 15%/yr.
Despite having the lions share of the world's offshore drilling rigs
and furious in-fill drilling they are barely showing net increases in prod.

If we had any courage and foresight, the Great Recession could be our friend, giving us a possible last shot at a soft(er) landing. Of course, there's little evidence we actually do have either of those qualities, so...

Darwinian, I've read those OPEC reports in the past, and they sure are pretty long and complicated. Where exactly do you find the country by country breakdown? I can't find a table with that data. Also, does OPEC list condensate produced by OPEC countries? I see condensate is changing, but I don't see the breakdown for condensate.

The country by country breakdown is on page 40 of the report. (It shows up as page 42 on the PDF toolbar.) You can search on the word "secondary" to find the report quick every month. All the data, they state, is "according to secondary sources".

They do not list condensate at all on this report. I searched on the word and got no hits whatsoever. I did find NGLs on the bottom of page 67 and nowhere else. But there they do not break it down by country.

You need to use the "search" function. It can save you a lot of page by page searching.

Ron P.

You can also get up-to-date info from the Joint Oil Data Initiative.


I agree that crude is the most important thing to track, but given the growing production of NGLs especially in the mid-east, do you feel that they won't have any significant impact on extending the plateau?

Kingfish, perhaps. But I do not track NGLs and do not feel that they are a real substitute for crude oil. 95 percent of all transportation fuel is oil. And from 70 to 75 percent of all crude oil produced is refined into transportation fuel. I believe the real issue is crude oil, or crude + condensate as condensate can be refined to transportation fuel as well.

While NGLs may impact the "all liquids" plateau, they will not mitigate the crash very much. So the only plateau I pay any attention to is the C+C plateau.

Ron P.

Desire for cheap gas beats sane energy policy

"Thus," Krosnick concluded, "there is plenty of agreement about what people do and do not want government to do."

Indeed, there is. People agree that the government should deliver major change. And they agree that they should not pay for it.

Yes, people want a free lunch.

Great article on the contradictory forces found within democracies, and why we as a nation, as well as the world are basically SOL. In a choice between what is right, and what is popular, the politician will almost always go with what is popular, even at the expense of causing severe problems to future generations. It is a basic failure of humanity to continually overemphasize short term gain over long term survival... smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, crushing debt loads (personal and government), obesity, risky sexual behaviors... as a species, our brains just don't do a good job of separating the short-term benefits from the dramatic long term impacts.

I'm curious... as a group, we Oil Drummers are probably more aware of the long term consequences of Peak Oil than the general public. Is there significant opposition in the Drummer community to increasing the gas tax?... or for those looking at a larger picture than just oil, creating a carbon tax?

For those opposed to such types of taxes, I would also ask, would you be LESS opposed if the revenue from such a tax was pooled together, equally divided and returned to people in the form of an "energy dividend check"? The result of such a program would mean that everyone would get a rebate from the government. Those using no gas/oil/carbon would get a nice check free-and-clear. Those using lots of gas/oil/carbon still get a check back, but it doesn't pay for all of what they consumed. The largest users thus subsidize the lightest users, but typically everyone ends up using less energy under such a plan.

Almost unanimously, economists have been recommending a stiff increase in the gasoline tax for the past fifty years to internalize the negative externalities caused by burning gasoline.

Jimmy Carter advocated a five cent a gallon increase in the gasoline tax; that advocacy may have cost him the election of 1980 (along with the Iran hostage crisis). Since Jimmy Carter I cannot recall any politician who publically advocated an increase in gasoline and diesel taxes. Increasing gasoline tax is a third rail of American politics: Touch it and you die.

I think that Al Gore at one point endorsed a higher fuel tax, offset by cutting the Payroll Tax. Of course, he was out of office at the time, so I suppose this may be the exception that proves the rule.

Ross Perot, I believe, suggested a 25cent/gallon tax in 1992. He was dead-in-the-water, anyway, but spot-on in this case

most rational countries* have a petrol tax of $3 -$4 a gallon.

It should really be twice that.

Europe, japan (?)

$5 a gallon is the starting point.

Recycling revenues simply allows 'consumers' to take the recycled funds and run out and buy more gas.

$5 gas with $5 the following year and people will snap out of the fantasy of free lunches. It's a national security issue! What is the US going to do? Conquer Saudi Arabia? So that jackasses can drive SUV's and massive, bloated pickup trucks (tax subsidized, of course)?

Do as during WWII. Rationing, high taxes and restrictions. This is serious: Michael Klare pimping automobiles is simply idiotic. Where does he live, on Planet Pandora? We are in a national emergency. Time for fun is over.

We get serious or else.

Steve -

I couldn't agree more. And don't forget it's not just driving SUVs and gigantic pick-ups, that's no longer badass enough - to conquer our collective insecurity they all have to be driven in the most aggressive manner possible.

It is WAY past time to make driving and in most cases driving like an a**hole as painful as possible. A declaration of a national emergency is the type of message that needs to be sent for sure - but probably will never happen - we'll be told to "go shopping" until the bitter end, I'm afraid...


..that advocacy may have cost him the election of 1980 (along with the Iran hostage crisis).

don't you mean (along with the help of the cia) ?

Didn't Bill Clinton help Newt Gingrich into power (in Congress) by proposing a 7-cent tax? IIRC Newt and company became heroes in part by reducing that by a gigantic, what was it, 2.7 cents, all the way down to 4.3 cents.

Wasn't the original (badly recieved) Clinton-Gore trial ballon $.50 per gallon. So after they chiseled the lower figure down, the usual "political" calculus allows them to claim the whole amount (which was never going to happen, but political thinking and logic/truth aren't bedfellows).

Actually that might be right about the original starting point. I think the 7 cents sticks in my mind as the main number that got debated shrilly in Congress on the way to 4.3. Clearly all three of these numbers are a far cry from the $3, $4, or $5 bandied about in this vicinity...

significant opposition

No - I don't think there is significant opposition for the most part on an Oil tax. But we kinda know that our views are very much outside the main street thinking in America

Gasoline is under-priced and over-consumed in the US. I have never read that I recall any opposition on this site to that statement. I assume, though I'm not sure, that that applies to diesel fuel as well.

Gasoline is under-priced and over-consumed in the US. I have never read that I recall any opposition on this site to that statement.

As redcoltken pointed out, this site is definitely *not* representative of what the average Amercian thinks, or what the corporate MSM is continuously spewing.

Any U.S. politician who posits this thesis publicly will find him/herself the target of a withering right-wing attack machine against "big government socialism", from Rush, Bill-O, Glenn Beck & Hannity on the dumb end of the spectrum, all the way to right-wing "think tanks" like the AEI and Heritage Foundation, and opinion-makers like Bill Kristol and Paul Gigot. Might as well promote child molestation and rape too, for all the public reception you'll get.

And as I like to point out, your agenda is not "holy". It is entirely legitemate to represent the interests of people who have to earn a living and provide the jobs that all of you have or live off the proceeds of.

Acting like your agenda holds some moral superiority to everyone else's merely tends to get you considered to be either a kook or dangerous, right? That's why "right to life", "anti-euthanasia", "anti gay marriage" and so on agendas are considered the equivalent of despotism, right? Its the "forcing of morality" on others that is the reasoning why those agendas can't be legitemate, right?

So, how many of you who are "peak oil" types are absolutely enraged by the massive debt balloon that's been shoved upon us the last few years? Or is it excuseable because "it's cleaning up after Bush"? Even though that will no more stand up to scrutiny than would claiming to be fan of gynecology get you excused from a child molestation charge.

It seems to me that the naked and rather dubious agenda-pushing needs to be re-evaluated and some integrity brought to bear, or nothing good could possibly happen.

If you'd been here any time at all, you'd know that few here are happy about the debt, and almost no one thinks it's sustainable. Indeed, many of us think debt-based economics itself is unsustainable.

If all you're going to do is post Dittohead talking points, please don't bother. There are a lot of other sites where you can do that. I'd really like to move beyond politics as usual here.

Hi Leanan,

It's "your " site obviously,but of course that is meant to include all the other staff and contributors and so forth.

It is equally obvious to me at least first , that discussions must be kept more or less on topic in order to keep the signal to noise ratio high, and second, that you are perfectly within your rights to decide what sort of political commentary is posted..

I will point out however that while I generally agree with just about all the science and technical data I find here I also find that the political commentary is heavily tilted to the left.

Niether wing of American politics is without sin or blemish and thereby in a position to stone the other, but you would not be able to arrive at this simple truth from studying the content of this site.

Now this is not a problem for me personally,as I am a rather strange animal when it comes to my personal politics.

But I wish to point out that the majority of the people in this country are not on board the left liberal band wagon.

When I refer people of this sort-remember there are probably at least a hundred plus million of them in the country-to TOD they usually visit once or twice and never return because they are not at all interested in the constant putdowns of any and all conservative values or politicians.

A good many of these people contrary to the prevailing left liberal superstitions are very well educated and they hold positions of great influence in thier communities , states, and even the nation and the world.

Iknow many, many people of this stripe, as well as many of the left liberal stripe and change my own stripes as easily as my clothes when I move in different circles as the occasion demands;the one common denominator that is necessary for somebody to stay on my personal radar screen is an IQ well over one hundred.

I cannot convince a liberal to read a conservative magazine, nor a conservative to follow this site, no matter how hard I try;but the truth , politically, is always somewhere between the extremes.

The surest way I can think of to make absolutely sure the conservatives DON'T GET THE MESSAGE is to continiously allow posts referring to "ronnie raygun" , etc, while not allowing any rebuttal from the other side.

Nobody-nobody at all-will tolerate being constantly ridiculed and then listen to what his detractors have to say.

So-what is the real mission-educating as many people as possible , or preaching to the choir?

"Just saying"to borrow a phrase from a few others who use it here occasionally.


I respectfully disagree OFM - I do not see a "leftie" bias here. Maybe a Libertarian strain, but also quite a bit of right-wing sentiment. Absolutely not "heavily tilted to the left". For every "Ronnie Raygun" comment, there is just as much left-twitting.

Maybe you just haven't noticed how far right the bar has been set...

The entire one-dimensional left/right political divide is just Kabuki theatre that keeps us distracted. Both factions unquestioningly buy into the idea of continuous economic growth and BAU.

The fundamental left/right divide has been over how the loot (the proceeds of economic growth) would be divided, with the right (in general) favouring the investor/entrepreneur class reaping the lion's share of the spoils, and the left favouring a more equitable distribution.

But now that the growth is essentially gone, this means that there is no "loot" to divvy up--equitably or otherwise.

So the overall situation on which the debate was focussed on has changed, even if this is not widely recognized as yet. Somehow, political and economic discussion has to escape from its current one-dimensional paradigm. I don't know if this is possible within the framework of our current political arrangements, but when we are several years gone off the edge of Hubbert's Plateau and the end of the growth era becomes obvious, this is when things will start to shake out; either our contemporary systems will be able to transform the discussion, or they will end up being replaced with something that can.

Antoinetta III

Yes Antoinetta,

The political spectrum is not a scalar - it is a multi-dimensional space. I have seen a few websites that have put forth various schemes - it's good to see someone thinking beyond Left-Right, Liberal-Conservative.

Yes! And not only that: You could say that each human being occupies a unique point in that multi-dimensional space.

Or further: each of us has a constantly changing political outlook that would be represented by a constantly changing point in the MDS.

The one-dimensional "Kabuki Theater" of what passes for political dialogue is getting really tiresome. How 'bout we just drop it and move on.


My thinking, exactly.

Time to move on.

How 'bout we just drop it and move on.

Because if we want to get anything accomplished politically, we have to form blocks of people with common interests. And, in our disfunctional system of political power, two blocks is the stable attractor. So the greatest spanning dimension of the cloud of opinion becomes the one dimensional axis (which gets defined as left/right). Then in order to become full members of one party/tribe or the other (you don't get full political benefits unless you are a card carying party member) the pressure is on to converge to a point near the furthest end from the opposition party. If we had any druthers, we would change the system. But, the present system is a sacred cow, so we are stuck.

Count the comments and tally them up over a few weeks;you will see what I mean.

I do agree that there are a lot of liberterian leaning comments here.

Of course you might count them differently than I do-I count anti religious comments as being left liberal for instance, and antimilitary rants the same.

But the real problem is the failure of both camps to acknowledge thier failings-nobody here seems to remember that there are a lot of democrats in congress who represent districts heavily involved in the military industrial complex, or that while Bush was president when the current wars were started, a very significant percentage of democrats voted to fight.

I think if it were possible to force a referendum so that the country as whole could vote on pulling out of the Middle east and trimming down the military industrial complex to say twenty five percent of its current size we would suddenly find that lots and lots of outspoken doves would suddenly find it necessary and expedient to whistle a different tune altogether-if it appeared the referendum might actually pass.

As it is they can publicly condemn policies that they must support when the chips are down and the ball is in thier court..

OBama and Pelosi aren't going to bring the troops home unless and or until the situation is resolved in our favor, or we simply collapse;they can't, because as costly as the war is,it would cost even more-the existence of the bau economy is at stake-to give it up.

Most of the people I know who are heavily involved in speculating in local real estate are dyed in the wool liberals-simply because they are retired Yankeeish bueracrats who have moved south to get away from the results of thier policies being put into effect in thier former home towns.

(Somewhere along the line I am sure that I have mentioned that my former Jewish inlaws from NYC moved to within spitting distance of Jesse Helms hometown when they retired.)

These former public servants sold out at Northern Va and points north prices, and came down here and bought up nearly every hilltop in sight, and cut up the land into small lots , selling them to thier buddies for ten or twenty times what they paid.But somehow when you get to talking to one of them,greedy businessmen and heartless republicans are responsible for all our troubles.

I am not condemning them-some of my relatives have done the same- but simply pointing out that the pot is calling the kettle black.

And one of my very best lifelong friends , a retired teacher and for all practical intents a socialist, who has consistently voted democrat since 1968, just bought another new 4wd truck.

The last time he took me for a ride in it, he said his only regret was that he didn't opt for the biggest engine available-he never pulls a trailer and having known him for forty years I have never seen him haul anything except groceries and camping gear.A few years back he told me the same exact thing except then he wished he had gotten the six cylinder engine;this time he wishes he had gotten the v8.

These things are not black and white.

None of my more liberal acquaintances had any problems enjoying the economic boom based on the tech bubble when Clinton was in office.

The same people who ridiculed Reagen for saying it was possible to grow out of a deficit situation were cheering Clinton for actually doing it-although he was simply lucky enough to catch the wave in my estimation;the economy would have done about as well with a republican in the White House, just as it would be doing about as badly as it is now if Mc Cain were in office.

The republicans cut taxes without worrying how the bills will be paid later.

The flip side of the same coin is that the democrats vote in uber expensive mandates without worrying about paying for them any more than the republicans worry about paying for the tax cuts.

Both parties vote in lots of pork for thier entrenched supporters;in this respect I must say, very willingly, that the democrats at least balance off thier gifts to the high and mighty with a gift here and there to the less fortunate on a regular basis- most significantly in the form of the above mentioned mandates.

You aren't likely to get any direct gifts from the republicans unless you are either wealthy or earning big bucks.

What I would like to see is a little simple honesty in discussing politics.

I remember reading somewhere long ago that some ancient Greek said that a democracy can exist only until such a time as the citizens discover that they can vote themselves gifts or largesse from the public treasury- that there after it will inevitably collapse as a result of loose fiscal policies.

I readily and freely admit and of my own free will occasionally state that we WASPS stole this continent from its original owners by force of arms, and that we are an imperial power of the first order(now in decline of course)and that we as a country are guilty of too many great sins to conveniently list them here;but I don't hear much about the sins of other nations or empires;it's as if most commenters seem to think we have a patent or a monopoly of acting like what we are-violent territorial animals.

I daresay they would sing a different tune if they lived behind the Iron Curtain,or in a country occupied by any imperial power OTHER than the US.

I may or may not live long enough to see the Chinese flex thier muscles;those who think we are the bad guys and are young enough to see the balance of power decisively shift are going to get a very rude awakening in respect to the realities of great power politics if they are still laboring under juvenile delusions about the real nature of the world we live in.

I'm sure these few words will be like water off a ducks back inso far as those who really need to hear them are concerned, but at least I feel a little better for having gotten off this rant.

Everybody left right or center should try to remember my basic point;you simply cannot go around insulting people of any stripe, or accusing them of being responsible for particular problems , regardless of the truth of the matter, and then expect to get them to listen to your arguments.

There is a sort of judo involved in effective communications.

You will not likely be able to convince a dyed in the wool conservative that it is wrong to burn coal by argueing that it is bad for the ecology, because he more than likely doesn't really know anything about ecology.

But you can convince him that he has a god given right to clean water and clean air if you go about it right;after that he will be ready to vote in strict pollution controls.

nobody here seems to remember that there are a lot of democrats in congress who represent districts heavily involved in the military industrial complex

You can't be serious. A lot of people here have noted that Democrats are little different from Republicans when it comes to war.

As for religion...sorry, we aren't giving equal time to Creationism and a young earth. I don't doubt that religion will have an important role, but it doesn't mean we have to be the ones to try and reach people that way.


You are correct of course about that "nobody";I should have said "a large number" or something along those lines but I am generally in too big a hurry to catch such silly errors and spend way too much time on the net in general and here in particular.

I have never nor will I ever advocate giving creationism or a young earth or any such doctrines any support;I don't even SUPPORT religion in general or any specific religion in particular;I simply hold that religions are part and parcel of our evolutionary and cultural heritage and should be dealt with as such, rather than some sort of cultural disease.

You are missing my point.

I AM advocating not going out of the way to create political enemies.

My point is that when the commentary section contains unnecessary slurs and insults the net result is to harden the attitude of those who do take such things seriously so that they will more than likely never join hands with the environmental movement.

I do believe it would do all the smug and self righteous (this is not aimed at you personally! as you have not made such comments) folks who are lucky enough to possess sound scientific and technical educations-and who so obviously enjoy the feeling of superiority this confers upon them- a hell of a lot of good to read and ponder the first couple of pages of "The Great Gatsby".

Faulting people for things beyond thier control is simply stupid beyond belief when the person doing the faulting has the benefit of superior education and opportrunities..

We can look back with amusement at the ridiculous methods of the doctors of a couple of centuries ago, but we don't accuse them of willful ignorance or stupidity because they bled people out trying to cure them.

Personally I was born, like EO Wilson the biologist, into a backwoods fundamentalist community;it was not my Daddy's fault that HIS Daddy was a poor uneducated and yes ignorant farmer rather than a lawyer or other educated professional.

It was not my Daddy's fault that there was next to nothing available to him in terms of educational opportunity or mentorship when he was a young man,that there was nobody around to take his possible education seriously.

It is only a matter of luck that I inherited a combination of genes such that school came very easy to me, and that I had available to me a good twenty one volume encyclopedia when I was still in grade school and liked to read well enough to read them straight thru.

It was only luck that enabled me to become the first college graduate in my family.There was nobody in the family to encourage me.I just collected high scores on some standardized tests and the one really good teacher I had took me aside and stood over me while I filled out my application for early admission to Va Tech and the financial aid application.Both were approved and all I had to do was get my ignorant young butt to campus.

When I hear somebody talking nonsense-from my better informed point of view-I am aware that "but for the grace of God" I would be in his shoes.

Now having the benefit of having first hand knowledge of what life is like under such circumstances, I can state with certainty that children and young people living in these circumstances do precisely what the children of doctors , lawyers, and engineers are prone to do-they follow the lead of thier parents and community leaders.

They absorb and cultivate the values of thier elders, and teach these values to thier children.

They use thier common sense and such data as they possess to evaluate the claims of competing value systems-which is exactly what the educated elite does.

That they are severely handicapped in this endeavour, compared to you or me, is obviuos;but thier lack of knowledge is no more a fault for which they should be blamed than you should be blamed for being a female-presumably-I don't know any males named Leanan.

They are playing the hand that fate dealt them , and doing as well as they can under the circumstances.

They are incidentally surviving and reproducing successfully and that is the ONLY (non subjective) criteria of success recognized by Mother Nature herself.

Making fun of them will never help them to change but on the contrary will help make sure they don't.

And for what it is worth,most fundamentalists no longer take such doctrines as the young earth seriously;preachers with good sense avoid the subject -in fifty years I have never heard it discussed in church-and stick to generalities in respect to creationism.I haven't yet met one who wants to debate why there were no dinosaurs on the Ark, or one who denys the (former )existence of such creatures..

They generally believe in germs,a round earth,a heliocentric solar system, scientific medicine and modern technology, even though they mostly don't understand it;given a little more time, they will accept evolution as gods way of creating the diversity of life;a smart preacher does not insist that a day for his god corresponds to a day in our terms but on the contrary that it might mean a thousand years-or a million years.

Even the most ignorant ninety year old Baptist I know has his quiet doubts about the size of that Ark, and how many men it would have taken to build it, given the number of species animals he has seen at a zoo and on television.When nobody is around except me he will joke that Noah must have necessarily had a couple of hundred wives and the libido to keep all of them permanently pregnant.

And since he has traveled cross country in a truck and across the Atlantic on a troopship back in the forties, he has his doubts about the collection of said animals too.;)

But in public he has no doubts-what else would you expect?

Rush Limbaugh is never going to admit that Al Gore is right about some things-and Al Franken is never going to admit that Reagen was right about some things.

You are correct of course about that "nobody";I should have said "a large number" or something along those lines but I am generally in too big a hurry to catch such silly errors and spend way too much time on the net in general and here in particular.

Don't you see the irony, though? Complaining about how everyone else is too black and white, then posting something like that?

It sounds to me like you're labeling everyone who is not a Republican a liberal, just like everyone who isn't a Christian is liberal. If that's the criteria, yes, this place "liberal." I think a large chunk of us - maybe even most - have either given up on both parties, or are not American and find US politics, especially religion, baffling.

FWIW, many actual liberals don't like this site either. They're convinced we're in the pocket of big oil.

I do see the irony of course, and of course I recognize that many people who are liberals are Christians-as a matter of fact there are many tens of millions of politically liberal Christians and other politically liberal religious people;also that there are many non religious conservatives.

As a matter of fact most of my better educated conservative acquaintances are generally found inside a church only on the occasions of funerals and weddings.

I will repeat my basic point once more and promise not to return to this subject for at least thirty days;we need to be building an environmental coalition, not making enemies by tolerating unnecessary gratitious insults directed at people of differing political and philosophical persausions.

I have two very good friends who are rabid non religious conservatives who think a political and economic collapse is already baked in partly due to political causes and partly due to environmental causes;both are well educated, both have enough money and liesure to contribute to politics.

Both are in a position to benefit mightily from reading this site,but niether will because they see a dozen Ronnie Raygun type comments for every one that blames the democrats for our troubles.

Incidentally both of thse men are acutely aware that the republicans have made many serious mistakes and that the current generation of republicans have sold out conservative principles and are only conservative when it suits them;what really bothers them is that the major part of the msm focuses mostly on conservative shortcomings and ignores liberal shortcomings- as they see it.

Now some people here seem to think I am the one out of step with the country as a whole and that this site is not liberally biased;by the standards of the denizens of this site, it is of course middle of the road, and by European standards it might even be justiafiably described as having a right wing tilt.

But a TYPICAL AMERICAN who reads the site for a few months would definitely describe it as liberal.The average auto worker who is dyed in the wool lifelong blue collar democrat would describe it as socialist due to the constant calls for high fuel taxes, public transport, and so forth.

But a TYPICAL AMERICAN who reads the site for a few months would definitely describe it as liberal.The average auto worker who is dyed in the wool lifelong blue collar democrat would describe it as socialist due to the constant calls for high fuel taxes, public transport, and so forth.

If so, that is not going to change by simply banning the use of the phrase "ronnie raygun."

We have neither the manpower nor desire to patrol the forums for words that might offend someone. We do try to eliminate the biggies - the ones you won't hear on CNN. But making fun of our leaders is an American tradition, and I'm not going delete comments just because they contain "Ronnie Raygun" (or "Democrat Party," "Shrub," "Billary," "Obamacare," etc.)

Step up. Flag the posts if you think they're not helpful. If enough people agree with you, they will go away.

You could also set up your own conservative peak oil site. Our material here has a Creative Commons license that allows you to use it, as long as you credit it. Set up a "Peak Oil for Conservatives" site, and patrol the comments yourself.

Aristotle was the Greek political philosopher who observed that pure democracy self-destructs and turns into mob rule when the majority of the poor citizens discover that they can vote themselves benefits at the expense of the rich. According to Aristotle, all pure forms of government (monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, aristocracy) turn into perversions of themselves and self destruct, with democracy leading specifically to tyranny.

To counter the flaws of pure forms of government, Aristotle advocated that the city-state (the only possible unit of good government, according to Plato and his student, Aristotle) adopt a mixed form of government or polity. He studied the constitutions of dozens of Greek city states and based his position on empirical research rather then pure theory, as Plato had done.

The early Roman Republic is a good example of polity, and to a large extent the U.S. at the time of the writing of the Constitution was a mixture of democracy, aristocracy, and plutocracy, with safeguards written in to prevent degeneration into pure democracy or pure aristocracy or pure plutocracy. Thus Aristotle's ideas have had a long reach.

Unfortunately, in my estimation, political science has not advanced since the day of Aristotle, and in some respects has regressed. For example, both Plato and Aristotle believed that nothing was more important for the city-state than population policy. Today it is politically incorrect to discuss population policy in the groves of academe where most political scientists hang out these days.

to a large extent the U.S. at the time of the writing of the Constitution was a mixture of democracy, aristocracy, and plutocracy, with safeguards written in to prevent degeneration into pure democracy or pure aristocracy or pure plutocracy. Thus Aristotle's ideas have had a long reach.

Some very interesting and salient points. Of course in modern America, the Aristocracy/Plutocracy has an advantage, because of the money dominated mass media politics. So they have largely gained control of the system.

I don't understand why you think left leaning people would not support a referendum to get out of the middle east and curtail the massive military industrial complex?

So-what is the real mission-educating as many people as possible , or preaching to the choir?

I would say neither, though perhaps other staff members wouldn't agree.

I think it's a big mistake to try and reach as many people as possible. It's not our forte.

But I wish to point out that the majority of the people in this country are not on board the left liberal band wagon.


I don't know what exactly qualifies someone as "left liberal" in the U.S. these days, considering that most "leftist" politicians are as pro-empire, pro-banking oligarchy and anti-civil liberties as your typical conservative. I guess it comes down to a few, narrow hot-button Culture War issues, like gun control, immigration and gay marriage. It's also worth pointing out that most "leftist" pols in this country would qualify as "right-wing" in most other developed western countries. The U.S. is so far to the right of Europe, Japan, Canada, NZ etc. it's sometimes hard to keep perspective.

In any case, I agree with you that most Americans are anti-liberal, and often violently so.

When I refer people of this sort-remember there are probably at least a hundred plus million of them in the country-to TOD they usually visit once or twice and never return because they are not at all interested in the constant putdowns of any and all conservative values or politicians.

I doubt there are many "conservatives" of the Rush Limbaugh/Fox News/700 Club variety that visit here, but I agree that those who do are not going to find much validation of their (rather magical and warped) world view at this fine reality-based community. This is sad, but there are plenty of superstition/magical-thinking-based forums out there: Rapture Ready, Free Republic, Drudge Report, etc. TOD just doesn't "do" magical thinking. As Leanan said, "it's not our forte".

What happened on the US right, is that certain actors discovered that they could make progress towards their agendas (for some that is mainly making a fortune as a media personality), by ignoring truth. What is missing is a culture that insists on intellectual integrity. Anyone can make a mistake, or start out believing a source which lacks integrity, but anyone with intellecual integrity would apologize and promise to never again use that talking point. But, without a culture/press that mercilessly goes after those without integrity, the rules regarding who wins and who loses have degraded. Certain players on the right discovered that there is little penalty for pushing talking points that are easily disproved, but that are emotionally satisfying to a chunk of the population. And the decision was made to go after political wins, via any means neccessary.

I welcome you here. But, when you recognize the peek oil situation, or the credit situation, or limits to growth .... right wing and left wing politics is meaningless.

Ronald Reagan would be given the bums' rush out of the Republican Party by the present-day crop of fringe loonies of the Tea Party variety.

Richard Nixon was by far the most liberal President of the last 40 years. Today, Fox News and their talk radio cohort would wail and gnash their teeth to have him impeached, and I'm sure many of the current blow-hards would publicly advocate for a 'second-amendment solution' (see Sharron Angle) to Nixon if he were in power today...

The Dems are a bunch of closet-corporatist pansies and the Repubs are loosing touch with reality.

We seem to be U-scrayed.

I for one have been absolutely enraged by the massive increase in the national debit since Ronnie RayGun and Bush 41 pushed it up from 1 to 4 Trillion. As for Obama, his first budget began in October 2009. He inherited 2 wars and Bush 43's budget, along with the TARP program, etc.

I do agree that the stimulus has added another big chunk to the debit, but Obama wasn't in control when the financial markets went nuts building a massive Ponzi scheme bubble in the real estate market. The bankers are still unwinding that mess and as a result, they aren't lending to many small companies, if the media is to be believed. The losses in real estate continue to mount and home sales have dropped again. We aren't out of the woods yet and I expect that there will be more calls for stimulus spending. The bankers need to re-inflate real estate prices, else they will be forced to admit that they are bankrupt.

I can only hope that the stimulus is directed toward renewable energy, such as solar heating, and to conservation efforts, including encouraging people to install more efficient equipment and to upgrade insulation in buildings.

E. Swanson

As in the past Black_Dog it will most likely be directed to pork. Also I think we will see Obamacare add greatly to the defecit.

I'll just note there's been some discussion before about the issue that high oil-price independent taxes have the effect of decreasing the end-user volatility of petrol prices. If the goal of the tax is to focus peoples attention on reducing petrol usage, that might be psychologically the wrong thing to do.


high oil-price independent taxes have the effect of decreasing the end-user volatility of petrol prices.

Aren't Europe's price dependent? Then when you get a price spike the tax also goes up, and certain oil dependent interest groups start raising hell.
I agree a price independent tax, does tend to damp out the effects of market swings. Perhaps allowing the dependent portion of the tax rate to depend upon a moving average (over say two to five years) would allow the price signals, but not the instability/volatility to get through.

In the UK, there's a fixed per-litre tax called fuel duty that gets added to the petrol and distribution costs (call that A), then that gets VAT at 17.5 percent added to get the total cost (B). UK fuel duty is 58.19 pence per litre, I gather 37 pence per litre is a reasonable value for A. So if A increases by 5 percent B increases by just under 2 percent.

Rune -- been a while since we chatted about it but seems most here were in favor. The problem IMHO is that we've waited to late...should have started slowly cranking it up at least 20 years ago. Jump it fast now and the economic/political fallout could be nasty. As far as a rebate goes that would seem to defeat the goal: giving folks an incentive to curb their habits. Give them a check back and they can by more gasoline. A supplimented lunch is almost as good as a free one.

Exactly...the price has to be high enough but not too high:

Magic Price Incentive Band

Even better, there should be an expectation that the price will increase along a predictable schedule.

Of course OPEC was doing everything it could to keep the price low so that we kept buying their product...and the markets and politicians naturally want low prices. Unless some enlightened outside force sees that high prices, in some cases, actually make sense, everything pulls toward keeping prices low.

Have you considered the possibility that that those two white arrows above are each pointing to the wrong price level? They may very well be, for many, if not all, alternatives.

Yes, it's entirely possible that whatever one calls "economic damage" actually occurs at the lower level and that economic contraction was unavoidable if we were to have moved relatively quickly off of oil.

I've been mulling over making another graph to demonstrate that.

I think this graph is misleading; there must be economic damage for there to be incentive to move to alternatives. If you aren't paying enough to worry, you aren't paying enough to care. I think history proves this, with major successful efficiency pushes following energy crises. For example, CAFE came about due to an energy crisis, and actually worked for a while, but as prices dropped and remained low it became ineffectual. The recent crisis that peaked in 2008 revitalized demand for more efficient cars, whether they be the Prius or the Honda Fit of just a downsized CUV that makes 20 mpg instead of an SUV that gets 10.

The well known irony is that success breeds failure - CAFE bred the SUV boom, and any truly successful move to alternative power will make fossil fuel energy cheaper. Taxes are the simplest way I can see to prevent this sort of failure.

CAFE caused the SUV boom because light trucks (including SUVs) were not included in the mileage standards for cars--but station wagons were. Throughout the fifties, sixties, and well into the seventies the family car was often a station wagon; both GM and Ford had perfected the V-8 full-sized station wagon. But "gas guzzling" station wagons were adversely affecting average mileage under CAFE, while the SUV was not.

Selling SUVs was much more profitable to Detroit than was selling station wagons, and by the mid nineties full-sized station wagons were no longer being made by GM and Ford; instead the SUV ruled the road, and it still does.

Thus one of the big unintended consequences of CAFE was to kill off the twenty mile per gallon station wagon (My 1988 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon got better than twenty miles per gallon driving at 65 m.p.h. with the air conditioning on full blast.) and replace it with the ten to thirteen mile per gallon SUV.

Thus we can see the importance of legislating with care to avoid unwanted negative consequences of laws.

Unwanted side effects are the primary feature of legislation. Ergo, use legislation as little as is possible. There is no such thing as "avoiding the negative consequences".

Oh for crying out loud, this really is getting too clever.

It's just an observation. A rational one.

Whether legislation achieves its stated goal is, well, often up for debate. In fact, whether it even advances at all towards something is often a matter of debate. Legislative "fixes" for stuff often results in negative progress toward whatever was intended.

However, in NO case is there NOT "unintended consequences". Those ALWAYS exist, and the less the legislation does toward advancing toward stated outcome, the greater the "unintended consequences". Often, additional legislation is written to address those "unintendeds", but that yet creates even more.

It's simply a rational rule of thumb to say "unintended consequences are fact", they always happen. Whether what's desired happens is, well... not even likely. Thus, when you're faced with attempting to do something, the first thing you have to do is address whether you should stir around and muck stuff up at all.

Sure, I'm sure you've seen the maxim that "that which governs least governs best", and it's not ideological, it's merely a rational observation of reality. Nobody's advocating anarchy here, it's just that our lives are governed more by unintended consequences than by any intended consequences, and people wonder why our economy sucks, the society is falling apart, and all these bad things can be observed. Duhhh.. Point to anything seriously negative, and a logical, well established link can be found to "unintended consequences".

It's not about being clever, it's about understanding the very most basic foundations of governance and free will.

Would it be rational, then, to observe that Somalia is governed extremely well and Japan remarkably badly?

Is it all rational to say Japan is governed well?

Is Somalia "not governed"? It's run by warlords and people without principles. In fact, they govern the most, being 'governance by force', not even by written law.

Are you trying to be obtuse here, or do you want to believe that a big nanny state is best?

So we should keep on our intensive campaign of doing nothing?

I wonder how much advertising influenced an otherwise prudent auto buyer to buy an SUV? I rememeber the San Francisco 49'ers quaterback Steve Young schilling for Toyota SUVs in the 1990's. He was filmed gamely drifting a big SUV through the forest, mud and vegetation flying in his wake while a wild rock guitar solo blared on the soundtrack.

there must be economic damage for there to be incentive to move to alternatives.

Possibly. I can envision a slow enough rise in price that gently moved people to alternatives over many decades. It needn't have been onerous, just millions of decisions year after year selecting the next higher mileage car than the last purchase, for instance, or making plastic increasingly expensive so that we avoided much of that disposable product period.

The key for that to work would have been the expectation that prices would continue to rise in real terms thus making it very rational to spend a little bit more to obtain extra efficiency or purchase a long-lasting durable good. Eventually new technologies might have come along to supplant fossil fuels as a direct energy source, like electric cars.

But that would have required that we start pretty much when Hubbert was warning us — and we humans are pretty poor at looking ahead in this area.

For those opposed to such types of taxes, I would also ask, would you be LESS opposed if the revenue from such a tax was pooled together, equally divided and returned to people in the form of an "energy dividend check"? The result of such a program would mean that everyone would get a rebate from the government. Those using no gas/oil/carbon would get a nice check free-and-clear. Those using lots of gas/oil/carbon still get a check back, but it doesn't pay for all of what they consumed. The largest users thus subsidize the lightest users, but typically everyone ends up using less energy under such a plan.

I don't know whether the situation is the same in the US but in the UK, governments have resisted what is called hypothecated taxation, i.e the revenue raised goes for a specific use. Not surprisingly, it doesn't stop them imposing conditions when giving grants or funding.

There are also many instances of stating that the purpose of taxation is to raise revenue for government expenditure and not for changing behaviour and then trying to use taxation to alter behaviour.

My personal opinion is that the case of high petrol taxation has driven the development of more fuel efficient cars in Europe. When I saw Gail's pie chart in the Peak Oil primer for the distribution of products from oil, I did think that reducing petrol (gasoline in the US) demand should be a priority.

Mikel, the problem with any tax that is introduced and dedicated to a specific purpose (hypothecated taxation) is that politicians will pull their usual tricks and pervert it. EXAMPLE: here in NSW Australia the state government gets over 10 billion from petrol tax but spends less than half of that on roads (most goes into consolidated revenue); been like that forever (including 20 years ago), so back about 1990 a new extra fuel tax was introduced that was to be wholly dedicated to fixing the crappy roads. It was called a 3x3 levy (3 years at 3 cents a litre). Guess what? They kept the tax going after it was meant to expire 17 years ago, they indexed it to inflation over those many years and only spent the 3 cents with all the indexed money going into consolidated revenue. Both political parties here are in on it, both parties stink and at election time it is compulsory to attend a polling place and know you have to give your preference to which one stinks less.

The idea of increased fuel taxes has been around quite a while. That Europe already has quite stiff fuel taxes. A similar idea regarding a carbon tax has been labeled "tax and dividend", as presented by James Hansen. Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State has proposed a program called Cap and Refund to limit carbon emissions, instead of the "Cap and Trade" approach...

E. Swanson

Can you explain to me the rationale behind placing the government in the position of encouraging fuel consumption, because of the money it brings in, and then, putting a system in place where consumers get taxed heavily, so that the really BIG players can manipulate that taxed money to come to THEIR bank accounts?

Every "cap" program is either a fund raiser for the government, or it is a plan to create a financial playground where the uber-cash-flush can play and get even more of it from the consumers, who pay for it?

Every one of these schemes PRECISELY results in the transfer of money from the average consumer to either the very large corporate energy players or the market players.

Every one of these schemes ends up being a mechanism the government uses to transfer money from the poor to the rich.

Nice rant. Did you bother to read the description of Cantwell's plan? Your description does not match, since 3/4 of the money from the auction of carbon allocations would be rebated to the public. I don't see how money would be siphoned off to be given to the large corporations. Since energy use tends to increase along with income, the highest income users would surely pay the most and have the most incentive to use less. The high income folks also have the money to spend to reduce their usually high levels consumption, so would experience the most immediate benefit in lower costs. Since the pool of non-wealthy people is much larger, that group would receive most of the rebate, which they might then be prompted to use to cut their own consumption.

The only other way to cut carbon consumption is direct rationing. I actually think that a rationing scheme with a white market to trade allocations would be a better approach, since the economic disruption would be the least. Without increasing the market price of carbon based fuels, inflation would be minimized. I expect that Peak Oil will lead to a rapid rise in the prices for all fossil fuels, as has happened before, thus attempting to set limits with a "Cap and Something" system would only make things worse. What ever path is taken, the public will perceive it as bitter medicine, thus the least painful path is the most likely to succeed...

E. Swanson

Tax energy and then redistribute it back to the politically favored. Wow, grand plan. What on earth is the value of this, anyway, except to punitively tax the most vulnerable?

I did not address such schemes, as I addressed "cap" and tax or trade schemes.


What ideas do you have to deal with our present and projected future energy situation?

Steven Chu - “… knows all about peak oil, but he can’t talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash.”

Wall Street knows about peak oil, but the general public does not realize the potential outcome....YET..... Given some time however, average people may pull out of 401Ks and start investing in hard assets. Even if Chu announced it today, people would not fear it enough yet to take any real action. When the gasoline pumps stop pumping, then they will run wild. It could be another 5 to 10 years before the general public starts to really take notice.

If they increase the percentage of ethanol in gasoline, people may not notice the drop in available gasoline or MPG. In reality, our economy is more threatened by the fact that we have lost our manufacturing base of skills in the US.

That was a weird article, although its weaselly technique is becoming all too common.

First, it take what seems to be a bold stance that contradicts common assumptions:

Wall Street knows all about PO.

This claim is asserted again and again in the first long paragraph with words and phrases like:

"PO is hardly shunned"
"many investment managers are basing their strategy around this"
"Oil market traders can't ignore [PO]"
"they follow it as though their livelihood depend on it"

But then the hedges begin:

"If the supply of other liquid fuels such as bioethanol proves inadequate toe make up for the shortfall..."

So he proves that he doesn't understand that more oil (or at least energy) goes into a gallon of bioethanol than the energy that comes out.

Next hedge--

"True, some financial analysts have faith in the potential of technology to overcome the problem..."

Great waffle--some implies a very few, but it is actually the vast majority of Wall Street types who are such technofantasists.

Next hedge:

"They may couch it in terms of 'supply crunch' rather than 'PO'"

In other words, they don't understand peak oil, and will always attribute any short fall to causes other than geological (and of course proximate causes will always be available to point to, since there is always some temporary crisis or other to point to.)

The next hedge, about GS:

"Although they attributer this to lack of investment and geopolitical constraints..."

Again, admitting that they do not understand PO.

The next hedge comes closest to throwing in the towel and admitting that lots of people (though he again uses a fudge word "others" which implies few but actually means very many/most) out and out deny that there is any peak on the horizon:

"Of course there are others who argue that supply-side risks in general are overblown..."

He goes on to point out that:

"crude oil has remained well above $70 for much of the past 12 months, a price point that baffled many commentators. Why should oil prices reach what are historically high prices at a time when emergence from global recession was far from assured?"

So "many commentators" (read nearly every commentator on Wall Street) were "baffled" by high oil prices in recession, even though, as the first long paragraph implies, everyone of them knows everything there is to know about peak oil, and "follow it as if their livelihood depends on it."

What utter and total crap! What else can one call this type of total obfuscation and blatant self-contradictory lying?

Ok, I know that when we (humans) like to bend the rules we get creative. How's this as part of a scoring guide for 4th grade math tests?

* A kid who answers that a 2-foot-long skateboard is 48 inches long gets half-credit for adding 24 and 24 instead of the correct 12 plus 12.
* A miscalculation that 28 divided by 14 equals 4 instead of 2 is "partially correct" if the student uses the right method to verify the wrong answer.
* Setting up a division problem to find one-fifth of $400, but not solving the problem—and leaving the answer blank—gets half-credit.
* A kid who subtracts 57 cents from three quarters for the right change and comes up with 15 cents instead of 18 cents still gets half-credit.
* A student who figures the numbers of books in 35 boxes of 10 gets half-credit despite messed-up multiplication that yields the wrong answer, 150 instead of 350.

The Great Accountability Hoax [in education]

Those government edumacators are rank amateurs at dodging accountability! Take your average American bankster or CEO, for example. If s/he royally screws the pooch, gambles away Trillions of bank/company funds on bad derivatives bets, s/he gets awarded an 'A' by Con-gress and a full bailout: blank check TARP/TALF from the Treasury, unlimited 0% borrowing from the Federal Reserve, GSEs take away any bad assets at par, zero expectation of jail time. No penalties, no anti-trust action, no pesky inquiries, bonuses as usual.

Noe *that's* what I call "dodging accountability"!!

While we're into truth telling, how about prosecuting the members of Congress who designed a federal law and sponsored a government entity to make bad loans to people with bad credit, then sell them on the open market, with the 'mantle' of government legitemacy?

If someone did that on behalf of say, Goldman Sachs, there would be a fraud case. So why is Congress exempt, why is Barny Frank, among dozens of others, not behind bars, for conspiring to create financial fraud? Seriously, the guys who RAN the GSE's were instructed to do what they did, that was the PURPOSE of the GSE's, it seems rather disingenuous to prosecute them for doing what they were asked to do. Put those who are responsible for designing, planning, and then implementing these crimes in jail, instead.

You'll get no arguments from me in favor of GSEs, geezer.* I also can't stand Frank, Dodd, Clinton, or any of the Democrat fake-populists lining up at the same bankster trough as Republicans.

The GSEs started out as a New Deal alternative to (at the time) failing private banks that weren't lending to consumers, then got semi-privatized by Johnson in the 60s as an accounting trick to hide growing deficits "off budget", then grew into the monsters we know today. Why they're still "necessary" for anything but propping up the clearly unsustainable and relieving banks of the terrible burden of qualifying borrowers is beyond me. Securitizing the world's mortgages has to go down as one of the biggest root causes of the housing bubble, and one that rarely gets acknowledged --especially on what passes for the political "left". It's all about risk and reward. If you can pass off all the risk to the taxpayer while privatizing all the profits, why not make reckless loans?

*Edit: the idea that their sole purpose was to make loans to "people with bad credit" (i.e., minorities), though popular among conservatves, is just not true. The idea they've outlived their usefulness is quite arguable IMO.

I just read, a few minutes ago, about how China is supposed to have 64 million empty homes/condos/apartments, much of which is presumeably built speculatively, much of which is financed by state-run banks, and apparently, a lot of which is non-performing.

It seems that once the idea of just lending money backed by public faith and credit to "grow" an economy ocurred to the central planner types, they have embraced it with gusto.

Nobody who has started their own enterprise for the purpose of earning a living and retiring from it has ever made the logical mistake of 'borrowing your way to financial independence' :) We all have to figure out, before we borrow, how it can pay us back, with a profit, before we do it.

Otherwise, borrowing is just "consumption enhanced with the price of Dave Ramsey's 'stupid tax'".

Wow, a few years ago your champion (and all of his media sycophants) was crowing about all-time record high home ownership as being an outcome of his 'ownership society' ideas...come clean and admit that all sides were running the casino, not just your favorite bogeymen.

People don't eat gasoline/diesel, cars do.
(Reverse of conservative meme--gun's don't kill people do).

A gas tax should be paid on gas guzzling cars.
If the average 20 mpg car uses 600 gallons of gas per year at $3 per gallon that's $1800 per year. Over 15 year car life cycle $27000.

Let's say best available car technology(BACT) is 40 mpg.
Over a lifetime a BACT vehicle would save $13500 in fuel.
Apply this to the sticker price to every car/light truck, new or old sold.
Give them some money back for junking the inefficient ones.

People trying to keep using their old vehicles will have to drive less, take more public transit or even bike. Even the most best mechanics can only extend car useful lives a decade at great expense.

Guarantee to vastly reduce gasoline/diesel consumption
thru the good ol' rationing by price.

Rush Limbaugh once advocated taxing the poor in one of his humor bits. I never thought I'd see someone advocating it here, but here it is. Tax the hell out of the poor and subsidize consumption by the rich.

Which proves, of course, that you should never, ever, think that anything is off limits.

Tax the hell out of the poor and subsidize consumption by the rich.

Funny, I thought that's what we're doing now, what with an effective tax rate on super-wealthy of 16.5% and 58% of all new wealth since 1976 going to top 1% and them.

Could you explain ANY of what you just said? I, for one, can't comprehend it. "Not taxing" is not the same as "subsidizing". But, I've never met anyone with a huge income who wasn't taxed heavily. Now there are people who have a lot of wealth, but no income, and they pay minimal INCOME taxes, but I can't find any justification for simply confiscating people's property from them, just because you're envious, or whatever it is.

So, you're going to have to clarify what, exactly, you wish to do and how on earth you arrived at a very irrational conclusion.

Please review our reader guidelines before you post any more. Particularly the part about civility and respect.

What is uncivil? Stating that someone's conclusion isn't rational? I clearly asked him to explain it to me, I used no profanity, made no accusations of wrongdoing, and didn't in any way insult the poster, or call names, or make ANY perjorative comments.

This whole forum is filled with mountains of insults thrown at whole large classes of people, and it's blessed by the moderators, apparently, but if you question something you simply cannot put together, it is a violation of your rules about civility?

Seriously, if this is somehow about "civility" and what I said somehow uncivil, then so is every reference to "Right wingers" and perjorative use of 'conservatives' and 'capitalists' and so on has to go, too. If your standard is that nobody can feel put down, then you have one monumental task ahead of you. The perjorative quotient used here is HUGE.

Or is this to be just an echo chamber for a specific agenda?

If your tone is civil, you can ask just about anything.

Generally, insulting the individuals you are talking to is the problem, not large groups of people or public figures.

As for the rest, we generally follow The Big Picture's philosophy on moderating:

This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator/philospher king/utility infielder. Fear my wrath, mortals!

I will ban anyone whom I choose from posting comments -- usually, for a damned good reason, but on rare occasions, for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it.

I'm not going to play Internet lawyer or argue over rules. Don't have the time or the interest.

Or, "we do whatever we want".

I see.

This site is not for everyone. There are lots of others out there, that may be more to your liking. Or you could start your own, and show us how it's done.

Um, I personally don't see anything wrong with the post you attached this to.

Certainly no personal attacks.

Though I personally thought it was perfectly clear that HARM was simply stating the established fact that with income tax and "payroll withholding" (another fancy name for income tax that isn't "Income Tax" and is only taxed up to middle class income levels) we have a fairly regressive tax structure.

Combined with the lower tax rate for "capital gains" (i.e. rich people's income), it looks like quite the rigged system.

And I say all this as someone who might stand to benefit from that regressive system.

Payroll witholding is merely immediate payment of estimated taxes. Every earned dollar has in excess of 15% taxation, even the first. There's Social Security tax and medicare tax, some states have additional taxes, and we haven't gotten to the "income tax" yet. Are these 'regressive'? How could they be, they're supposedly what provides your social security and other benefits. Really, they just provide other people's, and when you get old, someone else's is supposed to provide yours, but you see the point, right?

Trust me, even if the computation of the full amount of FICA witholdings isn't on your check stub, you still pay it all. If you're self employed, as millions are, you pay all of it before you get dollar one. It can easily cost you several thousand dollars just be in business each year, and that's BEFORE you take in your first dollar from a customer and before you make a profit - profit being "money you get to use for your own needs".

So, after going through all this (and I have signed payroll checks before from my own business, so this is not speculation), I'm still at a loss to comprehend either of your logical paths.

I can find no rationale to tax capital gains, though. Nor dividends. Just doesn't make sense. BTW, 'capital gains' is not a "rich people's tax". It really, REALLY hurts the "not wealthy", and causes them to have to do really stupid things with assets they hold, so they don't face financially ruinous taxes - ie, tax non-cash "gains". Or "gains" that are merely paper, but the taxes are hard currency.

I'll agree, we have a really stupid tax system, but I still don't "get" where people are going with this. Either the assumptions of what should be are vastly different from how I see it, or this is some kind of charade game and I'm not in on the secret.

By payroll withholding I was referring specifically to Medicare and Social Security taxes, these are conveniently ignored by most of the people I see complaining that the rich are overtaxed. The self-employed are not the rich, by the way, most people who are self-employed aren't any better off financially than those who work for some big company. But you probably knew that already.

I personally find no rationale to tax wages. The money to run the government has to come from somewhere though, and if certain forms of income are not taxed and others are you know as well as I do how the accountants will earn their keep.

Capital gains are only taxed if realized in some way. A lot of people have gotten themselves into trouble by not reserving or pre-paying realized capital gains, but that's a separate matter.

And finally, as far as the assumptions go: allowing excessive concentrations of wealth produces a defacto Nobility. While allowing people to be successful is a good thing, allowing people to extract extremes of wealth beyond a certain point causes more damage to society as a whole than benefit to the individual. See the Financial Services Industry for just one way in which this plays out.

And finally, as far as the assumptions go: allowing excessive concentrations of wealth produces a defacto Nobility. While allowing people to be successful is a good thing, allowing people to extract extremes of wealth beyond a certain point causes more damage to society as a whole than benefit to the individual. See the Financial Services Industry for just one way in which this plays out.

I have no idea where this comes from. It certainly doesn't spring from any evidence in our society. We certainly have no "nobility" and confiscating, just for envy's sake, cannnot possibly be a virtue. And what is an "extreme" of wealth? More than you? More than me? More than they guy down the street?

Can you provide any evidence that someone being wealthy is harmful to society? If so, how? Provide true example (not theoretical, real).

The Kennedy Family?

Historical examples of harm caused by extreme wealth disparity might include being the cause of much poverty and suffering as well as many revolutions throughout history --French, Russian, etc. That aside, when you have 1% of any population owning/controlling a majority of its resources, this inevitably leads to problems of government corruption and eventually trends toward oligarchy, de facto or in name.

The fact we now have a revolving door system of public servants routinely colluding with vested interets and taking bribes should be proof enough. The fact that the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporate money = "free speech" shows just how far we've strayed from an actual functioning Republic.

But if you want to learn more, here are some good places to start:

By this logic Hong Kong would be a terrible place; when in reality it's a thriving business center.

* No sales tax
* No capital gains tax
* No VAT
* Maximum salary tax of 20%
* Profit tax maximum of 16%

I guess I don't understand your point here (but then again, I don't know much about Hong Kong). Please elaborate.

Hong Kong has extreme inequalities of wealth and income amidst general prosperity and well-being; the same can be said of Singapore.

Hmmm... though both Hong Kong and Singapore do have a Gini coefficient roughly the same or a bit higher than the U.S., one is a city, while the other is a country barely larger than a city. If you look at China or Malaysia as a whole, my point becomes clear: extreme income inequality is not a healthy thing for any society.

Hong Kong is not a society, Hong Kong is a political entity and an economic power house. It is essentially separate from mainland China and would be like comparing the U.S. to Canada, they are not the same.

Comparing Hong Kong to the U.S. is the ultimate apples-to-oranges game, and a waste of everyone's time.

Social stability and business activity are independent variables in the short term.

But it sounds like HK has a more equitable and less invasive tax code than the US.

As far as US taxes go, the highest tax bracket once SS+Medicare are accounted for is 43.3% for a single earner at $82400-$106800/yr with an effective overall tax rate of 37.4% at $106800/yr. Even though the top overall tax bracket is taxed at 37.9% a single taxpayer needs to be making $2Million/year before their base effective tax rate matches that.

Oldgeezer, I know of many examples of overly rich people who use their wealth to achieve their desires and end up damaging society. You want a specific example? MY OLD BOSS. I work for VISY,a multi billion dollar packaging empire here in Australia. The main owner was Australia's 3rd richest man (Richard Pratt) who for years colluded in fixing the prices of packaging, he got caught and fined not long before he died. The fine was just a fraction of the money he ripped off customers. One true example (not hypothetical as you demanded). I know of dozens of other cases of the overly wealthy damaging society and I'm sure you could too.

All GOOPers firmly believe in the principles of the Great Reverse Robin Hood, Bonzo Reagan.
It was necessary to stimulus 'growth'.
And of course, 'deficits-don't-matter-Dick'(Cheney).

Limberger was just quoting the unshakeable, infallible Republican article of Faith.

But sad to say John Galt Greenspan is now talking about letting Bush's Sacred Tax Cuts expire.

Strange times!


Don't forget to include the embodied energy of your new vehicles. With a 15-year life-cycle, that's probably 20% or more of the total fuel consumption. And, of course, you have to be sure the old ones are taken off the roads.

Why do all that when you can just raise the price of fuel alone?

Any kind of vehicle-specfic tax formula will ultimately just complicate the laws and make it easier for the typical final result to occur - the price will fall disproprtionately on the poor and not the rich. I can understand some instances of this (tractor-trailers versus commuter cars, etc) but I think it's a bad idea to start breaking down the prices from one person to the next based on the type of passenger car/truck.

In this case, the wealthier guy in the modern hybrid (which will UNDOUBTEDLY get some kind of additional tax break along with the car's already-unrealistic official CAFE rating) will be paying much less than the poorer guy in the inefficient 15yo truck that he uses for work. I could rattle off more examples like this. Financially punish those who cannot afford what is new & popular for their "unwillingness" to compy with our new policy.

We need to raise the price of fuel, and just do it by cutting the indirect subsidies it already gets. Nothing else.

Pickens Plan update:


Methinks he may be losing his vision a bit as he ages.

This was up above... And I just can't quite get the logic...

We must do it to avoid catastrophes like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. To soften the impact of price shocks. To improve air quality. To fight climate change. To lessen the risk of peak oil. To enhance our security and deny some of the world's most odious regimes their principal source of money and power.

This is said as a reason for "reducing reliance on oil".

So, how, exactly, does this work? Does "reducing reliance on oil" cause drillers to become infallible, so no mistakes happen? Does "reducing reliance on oil" somehow cause there to be no more drilling? Does "reducing reliance on oil" somehow enhance the technology such that spills will simply not happen?

When this kind of non-think is passed off as 'reason', I start wondering exactly what is going on, and what agenda is being advocated. When people make statements that are irrational - that x is used to justify y, but yet, there is no logical link between X and Y, why would someone say it, and then, why would someone believe it?

First, we should be laughing at the rational disconnect, but then asking ourselves precisely what is the agenda that drives people to say these kinds of things, and why would someone rely on being dishonest or irrational to advance a "good" thing.

Let's examine this. We all know a good diet is good for you. So, to convince people, should I summon up fake studies that show that a good diet will cure cancer, reverse impotence, cause you to regain a full head of hair, and make your IQ go up 70 points? Those obvious absurdities would tend to, say, discredit me, and more importantly, would discredit the real value of eating a good diet.

Obviously, "reducing reliance on oil" does not prevent oil spills, it doesn't make drillers become infallible, and it does not prevent accidents. The only way there will never be another will drilling accident or oil spill is if there is no oil used at all, no wells in production, and no drilling - ever again.

That's not 'reducing reliance on oil', that's "no use of oil at all, ever again!"

So, what is the real truth here? Is the author just making statements that are obviously untrue, but sound good, to get people to agree? Or is the author advocating the "no use of oil" agenda, but selling it dishonestly?

I, for one, have absolutely no tolerance for such things. Be honest, or shut up. Life is far too short to waste it on the dishonest and their agendas.

"Life is far too short to waste it on the dishonest and their agendas."

Agreed! This is why I stopped waisting time on you, theoldgeezer.

Case in point:

oldgeezer posted on July 8th: "It is illegal in my state to build a home that is "off-grid"."

I responded that oldgeezer did not support that statement:

My counter to theoldgeezer's false statement was ignored. He later posted this:

"Fortunately for me, I live in an arid part of Oregon....."

People live off grid in just about every state, but Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Maine and Vermont are particularly well known for their favorable policies.


I looked at the regulations for going "off-grid" in Oregon. As in most locations, certain codes must be met, but it certainly isn't "illegal".

Was oldgeezer being "dishonest" himself? Something he has repeatedly accused other posters of? Perhaps he has a special "dishonesty permit", issued by the State of Oregon.

And in the same link he posts this:
"While my use of solar power is standalone and must be 24/7/365...."

"standalone"..... as in "off-grid"?

In the same thread I "openly reported" to the TOD staff my frustration at his continuous disregard for the Commenters Guidlines:

The staff failed to respond but oldgeezer did by calling my statements dishonest and rude:
"using your dishonest and rude personal attacks...." yet didn't have the integrity to cite where I was, in fact, "dishonest and rude". Not one instance.

As theoldgeezer posted, "Life is far too short to waste it on the dishonest and their agendas."

As those of us who spent time posting on usenet used to say: "Don't feed the trolls"...

E. Swanson

Don't "openly report" it. It just feeds the flames. E-mail the staff privately. We aren't always reading all the comments in all the threads.

“…shaming refers to the expression of disapproval, and invocation of remorse, in a sequential process,” and then continues to how the process includes methods, “…in which the individual is confronted by significant others (peers, family, neighbors, teachers) in an effort to moralize the offender and explain the evil of such offensive behavior.” (Fields 19)


Then again, studies note that shaming isn't effective when dealing with a sociopath. Sorry, Leanan. I'll put it to rest :-(

Behind a paywall, but viewable via Google:

Oil Majors' Search for Growth Is Costly

There is nothing inherently wrong with redeploying capital in this way. But there are two problems here. First, in a study published last year, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein concluded that, overall, the majors were redeploying profits from older, high-margin fields into more expensive, highly taxed reserves in regions like Russia. In addition, they have arguably neglected genuine exploration in favor of buying into existing large reserves, which is less risky but is also less profitable.

The majors, behemoths already, still seem largely to want to grow. Yet their scale makes this ever harder to do profitably. Moreover, BP's woes have shown that while its size means it can absorb a major disaster—at least for now—it didn't help it avoid one.

The article suggests that "Big Oil" might want to shrink.

Here's an article on what makes science what it is:

Maconda shut-off at 2:25pm CDT just briefed. All valves closed.

Link now http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/


No oil flowing into Gulf of Mexico for first time since leak began in April, BP says

This is good news indeed. Fingers crossed that there will be no further complications or surprises.

Now onward and forward with the mop up operations.

May the mantra "drill, baby, drill" be applied to people's heads and the lessons learned from this disaster.

Airlines need 30,900 new planes by 2029: Boeing

AFP - Airlines will need 30,900 new passenger and freighter jets worth 3.6 trillion dollars by 2029 to meet an increase in global air traffic being led by Asia, US planemaker Boeing forecast Thursday.
"We expect over the long-term (of 20 years) fuel prices to be somewhere between 70 and 90 dollars," said Tinseth.

"Once you get over 90 dollars a barrel, then all of a sudden some of these alternative fuel sources become viable ... bringing the (oil) price back down to 90 dollars."

Ooh, boy, are they in for a surprise when all their customers start fighting for their life again.

Lloyd's of London and Chatham House


"Traditional fossil fuel resources face serious supply constraints and an oil
supply crunch is likely in the short-to-medium term with profound consequences
for the way in which business functions today.
Businesses would benefit from
taking note of the impacts of the oil price spikes and shocks in 2008 and
implementing the appropriate mitigation actions. A scenario planning approach
may also help assess potential future outcomes and help inform strategic
business decisions." (emphasis added)

Thanks for the link.

US Airlines consider more joint purchasing schemes for alternative fuels

In one deal announced on 15 December, fourteen airlines and alternative fuels producer AltAir Fuels entered a MOU to negotiate the purchase of roughly 189 million litres (50 million USgal) of bio-derived jet fuel per year to be produced by the Seattle-based company. Participating airlines include Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American, Atlas Air, Delta, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa, Mexicana, Polar Air Cargo, United, UPS and US Airways.

The second MOU unveiled on 15 December included AirTran Airways and all of the carriers involved with AltAir, except Hawaiian and Alaska. The parties inked a MOU with synthetic fuels producer Rentech to develop a framework for a future supply contract for roughly 946 million litres (250 million USgal) per year of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (SPK) derived from the Fischer-Tropsch process.

They are certainly studying alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.

Agreed...but they are going to get hit from both sides: higher fuel costs and less people able to afford their product.

Who will survive the next round of The Great Airline Shakeout?

I am so happy to hear that "Once you get over 90 dollars a barrel, then all of a sudden some of these alternative fuel sources become viable . . . bringing the (oil) price back down to 90 dollars." Nothing to worry about for the next twenty years--what a relief. Now I'll be able to keep going to Tortola every year and also to Jamaica and maybe Mexico and Hawaii; alternative fuels will save the airline industry. Oh, it is so good to learn such stirling truths on TOD and not have to worry anymore.

Tinseth is chief of marketing for Boeing: I doubt that he got more than a "C" in Economics 101. Marketing is where business administration majors that are not good in math go. Ah well, Montana will turn into a veritable Saudi Arabia of oil exports once most of their land and water is trashed for CTL. Palm oil will replace tropical jungles. Soybeans will no longer be fed to cattle, because they will be too valuable to use for feed when they are needed for diesel and jet fuel.

All hail BAU! Nothing to see here, folks, move right along.

Stock market tip: Short Boeing shares. And while you're at it, short the Standard and Poors 500 stock index as well. Real estate is going to get much cheaper in the Seattle area as Boeing faces secular decline in sales. Buy later and pay much less than current prices. Too bad about Boeing; they do make great airplanes.

I am so happy to hear that "Once you get over 90 dollars a barrel, then all of a sudden some of these alternative fuel sources become viable . . . bringing the (oil) price back down to 90 dollars." Nothing to worry about for the next twenty years--what a relief.

Virtual <sarcasm> tags applied.

So, Don, since you've studied such things rather extensively how long do you think it might take for those oil prices to get pushed back below $90/barrel?

It seems to me that the most important thing here is timing, and a year of oil prices above $90/barrel might well push some major airlines into insolvency even if the price then drops back under $90/barrel for the reasons stated.

The airlines and the tourism industry are both in for major contractions. For the next few years I do not see excessive oil prices as being much of a problem, mainly due to weak global demand. Recall that I'm forecasting a major recession or depression in China.

When the price of oil goes above $90 or $100 per barrel it will trigger another recession in the U.S.

Airlines have mostly been through bankruptcy already. I do not know how many times an airline can fly through financial reorganization without being shut down. In not too many years I expect the U.S. airline industry to resemble what it was in 1960 or 1970--much smaller, reregulated, and I would hope with much better service than today.

I still remember propellor-driven airliners; perhaps we'll return to them if they (or turboprops) turn out to be more fuel efficient that the kerosine guzzling jets of today.

My understanding is that ducted turbofans are the most efficient, and that is the direction new airliner development has been moving for both fuel efficiency and noise reduction. They look and sound a lot like regular jet engines, but the turbojet is actually driving a ducted fan to provide the majority of the thrust.

But my question was really aimed at the supply-and-demand price curve rather than the end result to the industry.

I have seen a lot of claims over time that the economy can't support oil above $XX/barrel, which is doubtless true, yet it is usually used to support an assertion that the price will not rise above that supportable level. That assertion appears to me to be demonstratively, if not provably, false.

I think that this is due to the coupling strength of the market forces resulting in significant time lag between the signal and the response, and I was wondering if you know of any serious research into analyzing the market drivers from this perspective?

Very interesting study showing the possible effects of the gulf spill on the loop current;

"Abstract: BP Oil Spill may cause an irreparable damage to the Gulf Stream global climate thermoregulation activity."


"As of today the situation has deteriorated up to the point in which the eddy has detached itself completely from the main stream therefore destroying completely the Loop Current, as in figure 2 below, dated June 12th 2010."

Nothing to see there except, I suppose, some Italians in engaged in grant-seeking hysterics. But coincidence, like correlation, isn't causation. There's a perfectly normal loop current eddy cycle wherein eddies break off periodically. If the world comes to an end, it won't be due to a loop current eddy breaking off.

In the New Dream Home, Majestic Boilers and Designer Pipes

Last month, Peter and Sara Starr gave dinner guests a tour of their new Bayside, Calif., home. There's the designer kitchen fitted with free-standing ergonomic furniture. And the valley views complete with majestic redwoods. But the pièce de résistance sits just off the living room—a 100-square-foot nook otherwise known as the boiler room.

Inside hums the heart of about $70,000 in state-of-the-art heating and electrical equipment. A sleek hot-water tank is fed by rooftop solar panels; so is an array of batteries storing electricity and feeding excess power back to the grid. Hanging nearby, a petite, black boiler provides radiant heat while hundreds of feet of copper piping snake outward, delivering warmth and water to the 1,800-square-foot house.

"It looks like the Star Trek Enterprise," 61-year-old Peter Starr says. "It's really a little focal point, and a sign of pride."

See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870486240457535072030224847...

I'm now in the process of subdividing our utility room into three "boutique spaces" {*snicker*}. On the far left, the entrance to the boiler room that will also house the indirect water heater, central vac, heat recovery ventilation system, PBX and alarm system; in the centre, the laundry stack and to the right of the partition wall a vanity sink; and to the far right, the entrance to a storage room and workshop. [I'm especially proud of the nine cell deep parabolic light fixtures.]

The only rationale for doing this is to help muffle the noise of the boiler, HRV and central vac, and to help keep the space relatively tidy for when we have extended guests who would like to use the washer and dryer.


New Brammo Electric Motorcycle Is Fast Enough for Trouble

Electric motorcycles appear to be on the steep part of the development curve these days. The latest model comes from Brammo, the small Oregon company that produced the Enertia a few years back. The company’s newest offering is called the Empulse and the electric motorcycle is a big step forward offering a top speed of over 100 miles per hour, and a range of up to 100 miles. And perhaps best of all, the increased performance comes at a reduced price.

10 miles / kilowatt-hour

Thanks for the link!

I asked just a week ago or so if anyone had updates on the electric motorcycle world...I am definitely one of those people who is right on edge of buying an electric motorcycle if the range weren't a problem. When I worked out the range of the Vectrix, it couldn't get me from San Rafael (about 25 min north of Golden Gate Bridge) into SF and back on one charge. There is just no guarantee I'll find a plug at my destination in the city.

The styling is a bit Borg-ish for my taste but I could be fine with it. And the $14k price tag for just 100 miles of range means it's certainly not ready for the mass motorcyle rider. One last quibble...the operable range is at best 80% of the battery capacity if one wants the battery pack to last as long as possible. Fully depleting the battery will shorten its life.

"There is just no guarantee I'll find a plug at my destination in the city."

A significant and mostly-overlooked problem for pure electrics and plug-in hybrids. Those of us for whom they would be most useful (urban and inner-suburban residents, many in multi-unit dwellings) often don't have anywhere available to recharge.

And adding those power points isn't a trivial undertaking.

Oh Please.

Setting up parking spaces to charge EV's is already moving along, and current EV owners have been reporting the many ways they've come up with offering deals to gain access to a plug at a store or from a private home when they needed a charge.

Of course these access points are not ubiquitous yet. But it's hardly a significant obstacle.. just a very predictable and solvable infrastructure delay.

A quick search will show a wide variety of efforts to accomodate ( 'draw' ) EV's to these parking spaces..


"Electric vehicle charging points set for green light
Electric car charging points will be provided at Cambridge car parks later this year – and motorists probably won’t have to pay for the power.

Special bays will be reserved at two multi-storey car parks for electric or hybrid vehicles, with special plugs provided so drivers can top up their batteries.

It looks likely the charging period will be limited to three hours, but there will be no cost beyond the usual parking fee."

San Francisco is doing something like this, too, but plugs weren't ready the last time I checked.

Cities Prepare for Life With the Electric Car

The Brammo site says that it charges off a regular 110 volt socket.

Some cities already have these in parking meters so people can plug in their cars to keep them from freezing up and not starting in the winter. Although battery powered vehicles may not work too well either at -25 F.

You are right that matters are improving, but it is still an issue for many people right now.

For myself, I need something with a battery pack light enough to carry inside at work or home for charging as I have no powered parking available.

Oh Please.

Setting up parking spaces to charge EV's is already moving along, and current EV owners have been reporting the many ways they've come up with offering deals to gain access to a plug at a store or from a private home when they needed a charge.

OK, jokuhl, now, back to the real world. You know, the one I mentioned: urban and inner-ring suburbs with large numbers of residents in multi-family dwellings and workers in multi-tenant, multi-story, workplaces.

If you think it is quick or trivial to provide (safe, secure, tamper-resistant) access to charging points at hundreds or thousands of apartment buildings, condominiums, office buildings, industrial sites, etc., you haven't thought through the problem very carefully.

Go tell the average condo association board, or the management of a rental complex, that you want them to install electrical receptacles at all parking locations. When they tell you that's not in the cards, drop an extension cord out the window and see what your neighbors have to say about it (and whether or not you can charge the car and run your appliances at the same time without tripping breakers).

Calculate the additional power that would have to be delivered to your neighborhood if half of your neighbors switched to plug-in autos (or even fairly powerful electric motorcycles). Can your local utility supply it? In some parts of the grid or all of them? On every day of the year, including periods of peak demand? Will you have to charge only during off-peak hours or pay premium per-KWH rates?

Of course a relatively few people, in some circumstances, can adopt electric vehicles with little difficulty. The problems arise when attempting to scale the proposed solution to regional and national levels, as is true with all renewable-cornucopian solutions.

..and as with so much of the 'debunking', it relies on exaggerated circumstances to highlight a possibly imaginary point. We clearly won't have to install them in ALL our parking spots at once.

EV's are being adopted at a pretty gradual pace, and yet they represent a growing market that various interests are and will be able to cash in on. It's hardly a monumental challenge when there are opportunities on all sides for this implementation.

I don't pretend EV's will replace ICE's 1:1, so most of the exaggerated challenges won't even apply, but I do expect these to become a MUCH more common part of the mix, and since grid power IS so well established, that this will hardly even compare to finding a gas station. Like the plug-in Hybrids, EV owners will probably be very clear about having ways to plug in to standard 110 outlets.

Paul Craig Roberts writes about reifying markets. Very seldom do I read much about the reification fallacy which we see in EROEI so soften at TOD.

His conclusion is that the reification of markets has led to to a situation where monetary and fiscal policy are powerless:

The problem that the US economy faces is far more serious than the financial crisis resulting from financial deregulation. The reason that traditional monetary and fiscal policies cannot produce an economic recovery is that so much of the US economy has been moved offshore. As the jobs have departed, there is no work to which low interest rates and massive government spending can recall workers. This is the real freefall.



As a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian socialist, I've been amazed, over the past decade, how often I find myself in consonance with Roberts (of course, when he slides down the slope toward 9/11 conspiracy wackiness, I have to step away). Left and right really can find common ground, at least sometimes.

Here, PCR misses a possibility that makes more sense to me every day: a latter-day Works Progress Administration. Of course, as a right libertarian, he might recoil at the very idea, but if we agree that the problem is beyond the reach of monetary policy...

I never thought the Conservatives under D. Cameron would be better than Labour, but seriously, did anybody foresee he could be this bad?:

Let's start with the personnel. The Prime Minister thought the best person to be his 'Cuts Tsar' was John Browne. You might remember him – he was the head of BP, until he was forced to resign in 2007 because he was shown to have lied in court testimony. He does indeed have experience with cutting. Browne arrived at BP promising to do exactly what Cameron is promising to do to the British state – "produce more for less". He said you could slice out great chunks of staff and provide the same standard of service.


The consequences were soon clear. BP's Texas City refinery blew up, killing 15 workers, and the official investigation found that BP "tolerat[ed] serious deviations from safe operating practices, and [showed] apparent complacency toward serious safety process risks at each refinery". Browne carried on cutting anyway, in a process Bower argues "led directly to the current catastrophe."


This approach to the environment has seeped, like a slick, over Cameron's policies. He commissioned another oil man, Tim Eggar, to go and ask the world's oil companies what they want from his government. They won't let me see the findings. But we know oil companies received big tax cuts in the Budget, and the Government's subsequent energy policy paper says life needs to be made "simpler [and] clearer" for oil companies to drill in British waters. Even though it is our addiction to oil that is causing and worsening global warming, the paper says: "We need policies designed for hunting [oil]... We need policies that offer the right incentives to explore for and extract the remaining reserves of oil and gas, and to keep existing fields open for as long as possible."

It pledges to open the oceans off the Shetland Islands to deep-sea drilling. Yes – that's the deep-sea drilling you've seen in every newscast for the past month. Cameron is promising Big Oil tax breaks to drill, baby, drill.


How much worse could it really get? *weeps*

You're getting the Lord High Perjurer back, in a senior government position? Wow.

We wouldn't have to worry about that, because our "Tories" would be too freaked out by his sexual orientation to get within a tanker-length of the guy.

First Rendition Tony, then Clueless Gordon, and now this. Soon, now, you will remember Maggie the Milk Snatcher with warm nostalgia (it's true: when presented with the argument that Richard Nixon was the most progressive president in 40 years, I'm hard-pressed to refute it).

At lease they keep entertaining us. Every time we think they can't get anymore ridiculous or outrageous, they prove us wrong.

Funny you should say that about Thatcher, she was actually pretty much the first major politician who understood the science behind anthropogenic global warming and thought it was an issue we would ignore at our own peril. She was, after all, a chemist, not a lawyer or economist.

And yet I confess I don't remember her with any particular fondness. Shame on me...

Кстати говоря, довольно интересный пост. Я вообще-то всегда больше отношусь к стороне скептиков. но здесь, рука не поднимается не согласиться с автором.