Drumbeat: July 17, 2010

Discovery Channel’s Powering the Future Provides Definitive Look at Global Energy Challenges

(Silver Spring, Md.) - As the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico deepens, the ongoing search for viable alternative energy sources is more urgent than ever before, but navigating the complex web of options is both complicated and confusing. This July, Discovery Channel will pull back the curtains to reveal our quest for clean energy. POWERING THE FUTURE, a four-hour special series produced by Discovery Studios, premieres Saturday, July 17, from 8 to 10 PM and Sunday, July 18, from 8 to 10 PM (ET/PT). Hosted by Dr. M. Sanjayan, lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy, the special closely examines where our energy could come from and how we are striving to create a clean, limitless, secure supply of energy.

From economics and climate change to national security and global politics, energy is the driving force behind most everything on the planet. POWERING THE FUTURE puts energy on the national stage, addressing the challenge from every angle and cutting through the noise by establishing a target: identifying a clean, limitless, secure energy supply and addressing how it could possibly be delivered. Producers traveled to more than 30 different locations around the world-from an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil sands of Canada, from Washington, D.C., to Beijing, China-to meet with the people at the heart of the issue.

Charlie Hall will be in this. He doesn't know how much or what the quality will be, but says they took "many, many hours of raw footage."

Iran, Russia to establish joint oil bank

Tehran and Moscow have agreed to establish a joint bank to help fund bilateral projects and expand cooperation in natural gas deliveries and oil products.

According to Deputy Oil Minister Javad Oji, the joint bank will finance oil and gas projects and work out a mechanism for using the currencies of both countries for payments, Mehr news agency reported Thursday.

Two arrested at oil installation

DAMMAM – Two persons have been arrested over suspicious behavior close to Aramco facilities in Abaqaiq in the Eastern Province, with security sources saying the incident was drug-related. Al-Watan Arabic daily reported on Friday that two persons fled the site when their behavior aroused the suspicions of company’s security patrols in the area. “What occurred close to an oil installation is being treated as a criminal issue, not a security one,” Al-Watan was told by a police spokesman.

Cheers, Worries Greet New Cap on Oil Well

For more than two months, Americans have endured live television footage of oil billowing from the underwater leak. That image finally disappeared Thursday evening, as valves on the new seal were gradually closed, choking off the flow from the ruptured well.

"This is a landmark event," said Dan Yergin, chairman of HIS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "It means that an infinite problem has become finite."

How BP's oil spill mess could be much worse

Imagine if BP were a state-owned oil company. Instead of reasoning with an incompetent chief executive, we'd be reasoning with a protectionist prime minister. Regarding BP, this is a thought experiment. But there are plenty of state-owned companies drilling in U.S. waters and abroad. The next oil spill could be more than just an economic and environmental crisis. It could be a diplomatic one.

More Delicate Diplomacy for the Overseer of the Compensation Fund

NEW ORLEANS — Kenneth R. Feinberg, hopping in and out a Learjet, a helicopter and several S.U.V.s, took his gift for oratory to four towns in southern Louisiana on Thursday to make his pitch to locals: The $20 billion fund from BP to compensate those harmed by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and they should get their share.

Even with that kind of bankroll to pay claims, he was playing the role of salesman and politician.

Gulf Crabbers Seek Eco-Endorsement

Faced with possible ruin as a result of the oil spill, Louisiana blue crab producers are doing what 209 other fisheries around the world have done in recent years: seek to improve their standing by having their catch certified as environmentally sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Bloomberg Reporter Totally Misinterprets Bloomberg Polling on Offshore Drilling

Without looking at the poll’s toplines (PDF), you might not realize what is wrong with these two paragraphs. As it turns out, Bloomberg’s poll did not ask about President Obama’s temporary ban on deepwater drilling. Here is the question they actually asked:

Slide Show: Green Energy

To supply the United States with power without destroying the earth in the process we need radical changes in the way we think about energy consumption and our energy infrastructure.

Are We Happy Yet?

Even if the good times were going to roll again, in the sense of our having more consumables, how well has that worked as a formula for happiness? And if it turns out that we have even less stuff in the future, can we find a source of felicity other than the mall? The good news is that alternatives are available. The more challenging news? Alternatives may emerge not where we normally look, but as the hidden complements of some of our dominant virtues.

Book Review – World Made By Hand

Kunstler expanded on this in his book The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. But what might the collapse look like? To answer this question Kunstler turns to fiction, World Made by Hand.

It’s Time to Start Worrying Again

Even more than “An Inconvenient Truth,” the new film — titled “Countdown to Zero” and opening Friday — is designed to demolish viewer apathy. The rise of global terrorism, the expanding nuclear club, the increased availability of fissile material on the black market: all point to a higher likelihood of nuclear attack than ever before. But to judge from the public conversation, not to mention the popular cinematic imagination, the end of the cold war was synonymous with the end of the nuclear age.

The PSM Program in Advanced Energy and Fuels Management

SIUC’s Professional Science Masters in Advanced Energy and Fuels Management is the first of its kind in the country to focus on energy and fuels. The PSM-Energy program will prepares students for interdisciplinary careers in a team-oriented work environment undergoing rapid change. The flexibility of the curriculum allows students to address the aspects of the energy and fuel sector that interests them or their employers.

Fires rage for 15 hours after oil pipeline in China explodes

BEIJING — An oil pipeline at a busy Chinese port exploded, causing a massive fire that burned for 15 hours before being put out Saturday.

State-run media said the pipeline blew up Friday evening and more than 2,000 firefighters worked overnight to control flames and further blasts on a second pipeline.

China Central Television showed flames raging among tanks at the port in the northern city of Dalian, and state media described flames of about 100 feet high.

Gas prices trend upward before the weekend

Filling up for a trip to get some respite from the summer heat may cost a few cents more this weekend.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline hit $2.723 Friday, one penny more than a week ago and about 2 cents more than a month ago, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. It's nearly a quarter higher than it was a year ago.

Iran threatens to blacklist foreign oil firms

TEHRAN (AFP) – Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi warned on Saturday that Iran will blacklist foreign firms like Russian energy giant Lukoil that pull out of projects because of sanctions against Tehran.

"If one of the companies acts against Iran, we will be forced to consider the reality and put that company on a blacklist," the Mehr news agency quoted Mirkazemi as saying.

"They will no longer work in our country," he said.

Nigeria Plans to Encourage Oil Companies to List on Local Stock Exchange

Nigeria will encourage large companies operating in the country to list their shares on the local stock exchange, said Arunma Oteh, director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The addition of foreign companies in industries such as oil-exploration and production would diversify the Nigerian stock exchange, Oteh told reporters in Lagos yesterday. She was accompanied by Minister of Finance Olusegun Aganga and Fola Daniel, the Commissioner for Insurance.

Lula Has ‘Final Word’ on Oil for Petrobras Share Swap

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s administration will have the “final word” on the price of oil reserves that Petroleo Brasileiro SA will buy from the government, Energy Minister Marcio Zimmermann said.

The government may set a different price on the deepwater reserves than is recommended in an audit by the National Petroleum Agency, known as the ANP, Zimmermann said today in a telephone interview from Guarulhos, outside of Sao Paulo.

Bulgaria, Russia agree on gas pipeline

SOFIA, Bulgaria—Bulgaria and Russia have agreed on the details of a planned undersea gas pipeline project aimed at transporting Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and other European countries.

Russia Gazprom denies RWE invitation to South Stream

Bulgaria (Reuters) - Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, denies on Saturday it has invited the German utility RWE to join its South Stream pipeline in order to weaken the rival Nabucco project.

RWE is one of the key participants of the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, which is meant to help Europe cut reliance on Russian gas, and Russia has been stepping up efforts to undermine the competing pipeline project.

BP waits to see if Gulf leak fix will hold

NEW ORLEANS — Engineers kept vigil Saturday over the massive cap holding back oil from BP's busted Gulf well, their eyes glued to monitors in a faraway control room that displayed pressure readings, temperature gauges and underwater images.

Their round-the-clock work deciphering a puzzle of data from undersea robots and instruments at the wellhead is helping BP and the government determine whether the cap is holding tight as the end of a critical 48-hour testing window approaches. Signs so far have been promising but inconclusive.

Hayward to Get `Life Back' as BP Shrinks Following Spill

BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, who drew fire for saying he wanted his life back at the peak of the U.S. oil spill crisis, may get his wish.

With its Gulf of Mexico well under control for the first time in three months, Europe’s largest oil producer may look to change leadership as it starts rebuilding its reputation, management experts, industry analysts and investors said.

U.S. Shallow-Water Drilling Delay May Be Nearing End, Hercules's Noe Says

Shallow-water drilling companies hope a meeting with the U.S. Interior Department will help end delays in approval of new permits, Hercules Offshore Inc. executive Jim Noe said.

“We are hopeful that today was a solid first step in resolving this issue and getting shallow-water drilling rigs back to drilling new wells,” Noe, senior vice president and general counsel of Hercules, said in a statement after meeting yesterday with Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Chevron hit with more bills for Utah oil leak

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake County has billed Chevron Corp. more than $53,000 for the government response after a pipeline leaked crude oil into Red Butte Creek last month.

The county says it expects to demand more money from the oil company because it's still monitoring health hazards and caring for birds caught in the oil spill. The county's first bill covers expenses through June 24.

Director Accepts Limits on Chevron to Footage

When a judge ordered a documentary filmmaker in May to turn over to Chevron all the unused footage from his 2009 film about an environmental controversy in Ecuador, the director, Joe Berlinger, called the ruling “a trampling of the First Amendment and the journalist’s privilege.”

But when an appeals court modified that ruling on Thursday, ordering Mr. Berlinger to hand over some of those outtakes to Chevron, he applauded. The new ruling, he said, had “preserved the basic standards for nonconfidential material.” He said he did not expect to pursue any further appeals.

'Dallas' Actor Hawks Solar Power, But Billionaire Who Inspired J.R. Ewing Is Focused On Natural Gas

Larry Hagman, the actor best known as J.R. Ewing on TV's "Dallas" has gotten way too much attention this week for his new gig as spokesman for German solar maker SolarWorld. Hagman has garnered hundreds of internet headines for quotes like: "When affordable oil gives out, we're in real trouble--I mean the collapse of civilization, within 15 to 20 years."

That's the standard line from the Peak Oil crowd, no more interesting when coming from an actor. (see Jon Fahey's take on this: Why Is This So Hard? Solar Doesn't Replace Oil.) More interesting is to consider what the "real life" J.R. Ewing has been up to recently.

Peak Oil Plan

uring the oil crisis of the 1970s and the rapid rise of oil prices during the early part of the twenty-first century, concerns surrounding the use and availability of this non-renewable resource greatly increased in the minds of many. One theory that always seems to creep up when oil prices rise is the idea of peak oil, which is a hypothetical date at which the world's crude oil production will peak. Every day after this would mean lower production levels and an ever decreasing supply.

Simply put, when the world's oil producers combined can no longer increase their oil output, we will have reached peak oil. Oil will be increasingly difficult to find and extract because there will be less of it and fewer deposits to find.

Some Marin residents prepare for brave new world altered by oil and the lack of it

(The Marin Independent Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Andre Angelantoni of San Rafael sees a future in which global warming and dwindling oil supplies result in spiraling unemployment, food shortages and rising poverty; that's the bad news.

The good news, said Angelantoni, is that there are steps people can take to prepare.

The end of suburbia: Transition Asheville’s planning for the future

Ever ponder what life would be like without your car, a large grocery store with countless food items from around the globe, and dozens of box stores providing every gizmo you might need at any moment — much of it shipped from China?

The group Transition Asheville does, and they have a plan.

Fusion reactor set to raid Europe's research funds

European nations hope to divert more than a billion euros that were earmarked for research grants to make up a budget shortfall at the experimental ITER fusion reactor, Nature has learned.

The proposal has alarmed scientists, who say that it will rob researchers of vital funds at a time when governments are planning to scale back domestic research budgets in response to the global economic downturn. "I think it's a small catastrophe in the present situation," says Helga Nowotny, the president of the European Research Council, which funds research across Europe. "It's bad for European research," she says.

The Flying Prius

The future of the passenger jet may look surprisingly like a larger version of the hybrid automobile.

Is the Tide Turning on Deforestation?

For decades, logging has eaten away at the Brazilian Amazon, often called the “earth’s lungs” for its ability to generate vast amounts of oxygen through photosynthesis. Experts estimate that roughly 20 percent of the rain forest has been destroyed, with much of it turned into ranchland or farms. Other primeval forests around the world, from Indonesia to Cameroon, are similarly threatened.

Now signs are growing that international efforts to clamp down on illegal logging and strengthen timber harvesting regulations are succeeding in slowing the destruction of these forests.

Is the Population Bomb Ever Going To Explode?

World Population day was July 11, 2010. Did you even know that? Environmentalists and human rights advocates regularly point to a growing world population as a potential source of strife. But one environmental author doesn't agree. Fred Pearce is an environmental and investigative journalist. His books include "Confessions of an Eco-Sinner" and "PeopleQuake," in which he argues the fears of a population explosion are overblown.

Germany to levy up to $33 per flight

BERLIN – Germany plans to levy up to euro26 ($33) for each passenger on flights under a plan aimed at taxing air traffic's impact on the environment and bolstering government finances.

A draft bill obtained by The Associated Press Thursday says airlines will have to pay euro13 per passenger on flights of up to 1,553 miles (2,500 kilometers) — which includes the whole European Union — and euro26 for longer-haul flights taking off in Germany.

National Academies Report Warns of Climate Emissions Crisis

Washington, DC (Vocus) -- Today, the National Academy of Sciences issued a landmark report on climate change science that underscored the depth of the climate crisis and serves as a call to action for serious comprehensive solutions to reduce emissions. “Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts” marks the fourth Academy report in just two months that, taken together, make an incredibly compelling case for immediate and aggressive action to limit carbon emissions.

Deutsche Bahn blames heat nightmare on climate change

Travelling on Germany's high-speed ICE trains has often been a harrowing experience recently. Horror stories circulated in the German media throughout the week, following an incident Saturday when the air-conditioning broke down in a train travelling from Berlin. Temperatures reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees F) inside the train, and several people were hospitalized in the western German town of Bielefeld.

"A conductor came into our compartment with a doctor because a young boy was lying on the floor numb," one anonymous passenger told reporters. "His mother was really worried. Then she tried to smash a window, but thank God someone stopped her. It was like in a disaster movie."

Dripping away

The water problem in some form or another has been evident in the Indus river system for at least 150 years, and challenges of water management have dogged governments since 1857. Those with long memories will recall the problems associated with waterlogged land in the late 1940s, the rising of the water table and the increases in salinity coupled with a drop in agricultural production. Today the problems we face are even more complex. Global warming is eating away at the Himalayan glaciers that feed much of the Indus system and both Pakistan and India are set to become seriously water-poor nations. Water has become political. At an international level there is a rising level of tension between us and India as this diminishing resource is predicted by some as a likely trigger for a future conflict.

Study says global warming will mean less water in rivers

A National Academy of Sciences study released this morning quantifies potential impacts of climate change - linking water in rivers, crop yields and wildfire damage to specific temperature increases.

For example, for every 1.8 degrees of warming, Colorado can expect 5-10 percent less water in the Arkansas and Rio Grande rivers, the study found.

The study on likely future effects of climate change also anticipates 5-10 percent less total rain in Colorado and other southwestern states. And forest fires are considered likely to devour 3 times more land for each 1.8 degrees of warming .

Link up top: Some Marin residents prepare for brave new world altered by oil and the lack of it

And Angelantoni doubts that renewable energy sources can fill the gap either.

"I think it is a grave error that people think when oil gets expensive we'll move off of it quicker," he said. "What happened instead in 2007 and 2008 was everyone became poorer very quickly and the rate of penetration of renewables decreased instead of increasing."

And that, dear hearts, is what the debate is all about. Peak oil is a given, the question is what will be the consequences of peak oil?

But I am intrigued, why would the transition to renewables decrease instead of increase when things get tough? Could it be that as the recession gets worse there will be less capital to make the transition to other things? If that be the case then we can assume that the same will be the case for everything else? That is, will there be less capital build a “coal to liquids” infrastructure? Or to convert fleets of cars and trucks to battery and electric power? Or even natural gas?

Will all the miracles of innovation we can seemingly produce when investment capital is abundant disappear in the teeth of a grinding recession?

Now that is something to ponder.

Ron P.

I would say that the answer to all your yes-no questions is obviously (to me) YES.

But they all seem to address the production side. People also will not be able to buy the often-initially-expensive alternatives when credit is tight to non-existent, or when their house is in foreclosure, or when they have lost their jobs, or when all three hit at once.

Of course, some "alternatives" will become more common--walking will become more common when every other means of transport is out of reach economically.

I would say that the answer to all your yes-no questions is obviously (to me) YES.

Why is the answer so obvious? And if it is that obvious, (that the penetration of renewables will increase during a grinding recession), then why did the the exact opposite happen last time the recession hit? Is your optimism based on blind faith?

And the question does not only address the production side, it addresses both sides. Before any manufacturer will invest their scarce capital they must be sure of a market, else they will invest their money in something with a more promising return.

Ron P.

You misunderstood me (or perhaps your own question??).

You asked, "Could it be that as the recession gets worse there will be less capital to make the transition to other things?"

To which I said, "YES." In other words I think there WILL be LESS capital to make the transition to other things.

And, indeed, production and consumption are obviously tightly intertwined and credit pinches will and did, indeed, hit both ends at the same time.

I am sorry for my misunderstanding Dohboi. Thanks for the correction and I am glad to have you agree with me. Thanks again,

Ron P.

I posit that whilst two things at work here , the GOP doesnt really believe in PO but mostly thinks in 17thCentury thought of that "the market will provide" .....

like other 17th century belief systems it will be found wanting.......

Planning and leadership is what we need but - well you know the rest



In all fairness to the 17th century, market economics didn't exist then... mercantile thinking did.

Adam Smith (1723-1790), the great guru of free markets, lived his full life in the 18th century.

Not disagreeing, just being a nitpicker. (When it comes to chronology, I tend to be anal. Please forgive me.)


no worries - forgiven :)

yes I meant 18th Century - sorry


"What happened instead in 2007 and 2008 was everyone became poorer very quickly and the rate of penetration of renewables decreased instead of increasing."

Thats TODs own Aangel and yes he gets it.

This inconvenient little truth is what is at the core of what I call the economics of localization.

All the efforts to produce local goods are seriously undermined by the continued flow of cheap goods...until that flow stops of course.

Try making the case to investors or banks that you are going to produce something that will cost 2 to 10 times more than the price people can purchase a similar product at a big box store, at a time when those same peoples purchasing power is dropping rapidly.

Unless you can convince them that things like Peak Oil, Water, Climate Change, etc. will change the world as we know it, in which case they will probably think your nuts and not give you dime one anyway, you will have zero chance of making any kind of meaningful effort at increasing local production.

Argue all you want I am seeing this happen in realtime all around the world.

All the efforts to produce local goods are seriously undermined by the continued flow of cheap goods...until that flow stops of course.

Yep, the structure of the system makes adaptation extremely difficult until the system itself changes.

For instance, we can try all we want to reduce obesity rates around the world and we might even have tiny amounts of success (perhaps a few fractions of a percentage point less than it might otherwise be).

But the world's increasing obesity is a direct result of abundant energy available to our species. The energy allowed a societal wealth that in turn permitted us to east nutritionally empty foods while being largely sedentary.

The sad fact is that obesity rates will not go down significantly until food energy gets more expensive. All the "eat healthy" social steering programs in the world can't stand up to the force of cheap energy — not even close.

In every area you look cheap energy has been one of the main forces shaping how we live, from our transportation systems to our education systems to our technology systems.

The key now is to jump in with ready ideas as the former structures start to give way. I know you Jeff (eeyores) have been looking at this for years and we've had great conversations about it.

For people with drive and creativity this can actually be an exciting time to live.

I think Tainter said something about more and more effort and resources being allocated for food production in an energy constrained economic collapse type of situation. People work harder and longer for the same amount of food they could easily earn enough income for before. And harder and harder and harder...their wages go down, their desk jobs are eliminated so they must do something more physically demanding that pays even less, food costs stay the same or go up.....the cycle continues mercilessly, no wonder there`s nothing left for renewables!

You bring something up that's important, Pi, that I'd like to go back and explore--blindspots. Elsewhere Kalliergo and others have wrangled with the idea of urban versus rural in a lower energy world. Where I see clearly that urban concentrations of energy are the result of many transformations of energy within an energy hierarchy, Kalliergo and others do not see the transformations that create a city or industrial agriculture and thus are destined to come up short in their calculations, resulting in blind spots. I see Greer is on it--how do we illustrate the energetic basis for society in such a way that blind spots disappear? When people can see that each step backwards in terms of energetic basis and surplus energy results in a lowering on the energy hierarchy chain, with a step backwards in the number of transformations that can be made. It's one multiplicative transformation from the sun to producers, then another to consumers and then on up the food chain into human economies, a magnitude of multiplication each time, with heat spewing out from every step. Here's a universal illustration of the concept, from Brown, Odum, & Jorgenson:

As energy passes through energy transformation series, concentrations at centers increase, energy flows decrease, territories of support increase, intervals between feedback pulses to lower levels increase, and intensity of episodes of recycles of mass and energy increase. Emergy (spelled with an ‘m”) puts structures and processes on a common basis. Transformities (emergy/energy) indicate position of each form of energy of the universe in the universal energy hierarchy. High energy radiation is returned to background radiation by a dispersing cascade of absorption by matter and reradiation. The red shift increase with distance may be attributed to the greater mass and gravity of centers of systems of increasing scale. The second law of thermodynamics accounts for energy tranformations at each scale of size and time, except at the lowest level where self organization of background radiation and background materials can form an equilibrium hierarchy. Using estimates of density of the background energy and matter, a preliminary calculation is made of the sun’s share of the universe’s resources, deriving transformities of the sun, earth, and life in units of the universe’s background emergy.


In an energy constrained world, the ability to concentrate energy upwards over time is lost, and the process reverses itself. Concentrations at centers decrease, territories decrease, recycling of mass and energy decrease. Cities can sustain for a while if they are protected, based on stored value. But food production is a much shorter cycle with less storage, The transformity of food is 24K-200K Sej, while proteins are 1000-4000k Sej, human services vary from 80K-5MillionK, and the value of information is 10K-10BillionK Sej/j.
I guess that those who cannot see the process of transformations in the city center can still see the value of the result, and prize it. But until you can see the hierarchy, you cannot understand the whole and value the concentration process for what it is.

In the same vein, people don't even see nature in human economies, because of the many transformations (especially the economists). Someone was scolding ecologists this week for not tackling research that included human systems. I see that as, again, not seeing the transformations, and thus not seeing the role of nature that is the base of transformity. Ecologists stick to wilderness in their research because it is easier to see the whole without the many mutiplicative transformations. And some fail to see the embodied energy required of many iterations to create all of that concrete, museums, powerful media and symbols in NYC.

Curious blindspots? Ron talks about people who get it. What does that mean? It's code, I think, for people who really view the world through an energy lens, who can see the iterations as the energy moves through the system.

Curious blindspots? Ron talks about people who get it. What does that mean? It's code, I think, for people who really view the world through an energy lens, who can see the iterations as the energy moves through the system.

Excellent comment! Absolutely spot-on, the more people who understand these concepts the fewer blind spots we will have, not just as a society, but also as a species.

Regards cities, that's something that I've been chewing on recently. I recall seeing one of Odum's mini-models that shows built capital being fairly long lived, and thus having a high storage of emergy that slowly deprecates over time.

But what nags at me is the fact that having a built environment and actually having a use for that environment are two different things. The useful life of many of our structures may be much shorter than their physical presence would suggest.

In an energy and resource constrained world how useful will airports be? Or the top floors of skyscrapers? Or the interstate highway system? The list goes on. Cities like Detroit come to mind, and while it could be argued that economic forces were to blame for making that city largely redundant, the question still stands:

How much of our built environment will be abandoned long before it actually begins to decay?


Did you see ASPO's article on blind spots?

Optimism, Harsh Realism, and Blind Spots—10 years later

We all have blind spots...even the ones who "get it."

We all have blind spots...


"Blind spots" was the subject of one of the graphics you removed from my yesterday's post.

It explains Why we have blind spots ...

Blind spots are a "feature" of our system, not a bug.

See Tales of the Traveling Juice Hunter (Chapter 7: Wealth of Tunnel Visions) in the Lemmings on the Ledge series

I know. I saw that study even before you linked to it.

Please use text links rather than image links.

More of us should study ant societies I think there are many insights we might get from the way ants organize, communicate and how they utilize energy efficiently. They even invented agriculture complete with the application of pesticides.

Tracking A 'Sisterhood' Of Traveling Ants


Yes, I saw it, Leanan. What puzzled me about the article is that the authors failed to address the biggest blind spot of all; the fact that up until now, 99.?% of the US population, at least, failed to recognize peak oil.

More ants, and beavers too. Tainter covers it all from an energetic basis; fungus farming ants, and beavers who use it up and head off to the next pond, and Roman complexity.

This framework not only helps us to understand empires, ants, and beavers, but it also suggests clues about our potential future. Since the development of industrialism and economies based on fossil fuels, the world's wealthier nations have been in a high-gain phase. Because high-gain systems use high-quality, concentrated energy, their energy usage is intensive and local. In contrast, low-gain systems, which rely on low-quality energy, must be dispersed in their resource capture and organized correspondingly. Despite the fact that engineers are impressive in their ability to extend the era of high-gain fossil fuel dependence, we know that someday the energy opportunity cost of fossil fuels will reach the point that our dependence on such fuels will diminish (e.g., Campbell and Laherrère 1998). Before that happens, perhaps nuclear fusion will be controlled to the point that it is safe and efficient, providing us with a further source of high-quality energy. A primary alternative is the so-called "green" energy sources, including renewables such as wind, wave, and solar. We focus on the consequences of possible future dependence on these.

Renewable energy sources are low gain, yielding little net energy per unit of production compared to fossil fuels. Most renewables depend ultimately on the sun, and the conversion of solar energy to mechanical work is still inefficient (Wayne et al. 1992). Low-gain energy production must therefore be dispersed.

The industrial era was characterized by the application of large amounts of energy and raw materials to solve problems by brute force. In today's so-called information economy, there is much less need to move matter and people. Human settlement can be dispersed. Thus, today we are becoming accustomed to telecommuting, the increased conversion of rural areas into low-density housing, and even the gentrification of rural areas that have traditionally been isolated and impoverished.

The dispersed energy production that would be required by low-gain resources is a good fit with the sort of dispersed settlement pattern that an information economy allows. One scenario for a postcarbon future is dispersed production of low-gain energy by small communities or even individual households. Energy would be captured by small, individual units scattered across the landscape. This is the green energy scenario that many think would be a desirable future, or even preferable today. Unlike many commentators, we take care not to impute morality to preferences regarding energy production systems. Without judgment, therefore, we point out that green energy would encompass its own costs and its own winners and losers. For many people, the transformation would be catastrophic because a decentralized production system would make many infrastructure workers redundant. Urban decay would accompany increased rural settlement. At the same time, new opportunities would emerge in the manufacture and repair of small, dispersed sources of energy production. Hydrogen might be generated as part of local energy-capture systems (Barbir 2001), so that at least some high-quality energy would be available for tasks that require it. Many people might prefer such a decentralized existence, but others would find it wrenching. It would require capital investment by each family or community. These investments would be largely redundant, with high energy-opportunity costs, and would not initially enjoy economies of scale. Living standards, as currently defined, would likely decline.


Here's one insight. I heard part of that interview, I believe.

One species of ant keeps another species as slaves -- nurtures them from birth as such. They do all of their heavy lifting, and it has evolved to the point where the master species can't feed itself anymore without the slaves.

Edit: Scouring the transcript, I can't find what I though I heard. I smell conspiracy.

Never mind.

One species of ant keeps another species as slaves -- nurtures them from birth as such. They do all of their heavy lifting, and it has evolved to the point where the master species can't feed itself anymore without the slaves.

In the human equivalent, wouldn't oil as an energy source via mechanization be seen as the slaves relied upon to supply the food we eat? And without copious amounts of cheap oil????

Fantastic comment!! And I think as the situation unfolds sooner or later everyone is going to see the world through this "energy lens" that you are talking about. But the people who arrive latest will see it like this: there is a huge vacant, abandoned bowling alley (or shopping mall or highway interchange) and wow, I`d like to plant some blueberry bushes or wheat seeds on that land under all that cement, but sheeeesh, how do I get the tons of cement off the land? This person has made the switch to "the sun" (energy thinking) but that`s a dispersed energy that doesn`t lend itself well to powering bulldozers. That`s maybe why the countryside has to be reactivated first, with new generations (no matter how small and stressed) of sun energy harvesters who eventually look over the horizon at the broken abandoned cities where, hey!, there is land IF you can move the cement away.

It will take several generations of relative prosperity in the solar energy harvesting arena before there is a build up of enough resources to move all the cement material we carelessly threw down in our greed. This material just blocks solar flows---most of it is a terrible impediment and will be rubble. Only a few people can think that way at this time but the paradigm is changing even now.

And in the mean time, a certain amount of complexity---in medicine, in education---will still offer advantages. No wonder there is so much confusion---a plethora of new political parties, lots of failed governments, etc. People are really wondering what is going on.

On a side note, the paving over of cityscapes has led to water problems with rain water draining off instead of percolating into the local water table. So it isn't just the use of the soil we are deprived of in a cityscape, it is a short-circuiting of the normal water cycle.

We got lucky here in Ballard, with free rain garden installations from the city, as well as incentives to install cisterns. Because I tore up my parking strip land 3 years ago and have an established garden (my Asian plum tree is finally starting to bear! :-)), I passed on the program.

One interesting side effect that I think will happen is slower-moving traffic. These rain gardens actually project out into the former street space: large amounts of concrete have been dug up and removed.

2010 Stormwater Incentives
RainWise Incentives for Rain Gardens and Cisterns – Starting in the Spring of 2010, residents of Ballard will be eligible for rain garden and cistern incentives. The City will also be building roadside rain gardens in this area beginning in Summer of 2010.

Yes and No.

Yes, the amount of capital defined as the sum over price times quantity of financial and non-financial assets will go down. This is an economic problem, since economists and accountants like to do this calculation and ascribe meaning to it. For example, they will multiply the last share price of a company by the number of shares outstanding and get "market capitalization", a largely meaningless number, since it doesn't reflect the price that would be obtained if even a very large number of shares hit the market or the price that the company would command in a takeover. Another example is the practice of summing up the estimated price of homes in the US, subtracting the outstanding mortgage balances, and calling the result "homeowner equity". Obviously, you can't sell all the homes at once.

Economics actually works like quantum mechanics. Prices are really probability functions, and only an observation (sales transaction) causes a price to take on a definite value.

On the other hand, the actual amount of available labor, raw materials, capital equipment, technical expertise, intellectual capacity, etc., available to make the transition from oil to other energy sources doesn't change due to a change in prices. They are still all available to be organized and for change to be implemented by non-economic means.

change to be implemented by non-economic means.

I for one will gratefully accept the direction of our new overlords.

New overlords are the usual consequence of economic disruption. A majority will vote them in.

As Andre pointed out, if you are in the Marin area on July 21st, Transition Mill Valley is putting an event on at the Throckmorton Theatre.

Scott, I spoke to Bruce yesterday and I'm going to try to make it. You've got a good thing going there :-)

We are trying, but you are aware of the challenges.
Hope to see you there.

I am indeed...just read some of the comments coming from our "enlightened" citizens in Marin county in the story posted above...

Bah... don't listen to them. We still luv ya on the drum. 8*)

comments coming from our "enlightened" citizens in Marin

Link to what aanagel is talking about here

You have got to be kidding me...as a fellow Marinite, I'm embarrassed by this idiot. --a sample comment

“A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

Matthew 13:57

It's easy to be critical - requires no thought.

André, your message is intended for those who think. Keep plugging, it will eventually get through the chattering white noise in the background.

The goal is to reach that right person who will do something with what they've heard.

You do us proud.



Thanks, Tom and Runeshade :-)

Energy prices will have to go up 3X to 5X to make the alternatives viable - if all other things remain the same. But if energy prices go up that much it will affect the inputs for AE.

Now how can AE be rolled out without having this effect? It has to cost LESS than existing sources. i.e. more research less deployment.

One part of the answer to this, is that if energy prices are up, then those who already own Renewable Generating Sources are going to be getting (if they're on top of things) higher rates or higher savings on the power they produce, but won't have equivalent increases in their running costs. Their inputs were all front-loaded, and their foresight should be getting its rewards at that point.

I would expect that they would look to use some of that income to expand their capacity, as the promise of return isn't completely undercut by lack of capital, as with most others.. Now currently, and with the couple of years that Darwinian referred to, we're still in a situation with essentially an oversupply of energy, and so the price can crash, and hurt everyone.. but by that same token, depressed prices can also work as a benefit for those who DO have cashflow, and can see that there is now clearly a use for these renewables that seemed so uneconomic before.

Even with a deep recession, if you can supply power, you should be able to sell it. Maybe I'm off with that assumption.. can somebody tell me how..

"It has to cost LESS than existing sources. i.e. more research less deployment."

I don't think so. I think existing sources will very likely take care of the price differential..

I mean.. keep researching, sure.. but a healthy, installed base of say the simplest one, Solar 'Low-Grade' Heating will have the greatest ROI, both in energy itself, and in stabilizing the costs to the average consumers. That will do more to give the economy some traction than a better PV panel.

Click on view as single page to skip the slide show.

The GINI, Ron, for one. The richest 1% who own the natural resources will have solar panels on their bug out compound; squalor for the rest of us sharecroppers.

I'm going to send Mr. Halstead (the reporter) a note of thanks for doing his job so well...he got the facts and the tone just right. I think that's the most accurately transposed interview I've yet given. He did ask about my storing food but chose not to include it, instead using the space to move the conversation forward. During the interview I could tell he was getting it. Then when I pointed out that the Transition Initiative was alive and growing in Marin he saw that I wasn't alone in my thinking (i.e might be on to something).

As for your note, Ron, everyone else above seems to have handled it. I've posted here several times that we are on the cusp, I believe, of the world's largest credit contraction and historically very little gets built during those periods.

We really don't know what will happen, once Peak Oil becomes obvious. Will the economic system sink into a major Depression, slowly grinding down to nothing, or will there arise a sense of urgency which makes the entire country focus on the problem? For a decade or so after the 1929 stock market crash, the US economy was mired in the Great Depression, with unemployment said to be near 25%. Yet, after Pearl Harbor, the entire US economic system shifted into war production. We suddenly found ourselves faced with an immediate threat to our survival and the entire nation responded, accepting draconian restrictions on daily life.

I happened to see part of a documentary about WW II. There was a segment about wartime production, with people moving away from their farms to build the war machine which crushed both Germany and Japan. One bit which really caught my attention was the description of the Ford Motor company's building B-24's. Each B-24 had 1.5 million parts, none of which Ford built at the beginning, but they rapidly switched to an entirely different production process. At the end of the war, Ford was building a B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber every 56 minutes, building over 18,000 by war's end.

I's say all we need is a good kick in the pants, so-to-speak, to start the Transition...

E. Swanson

I think a depression is unavoidable simply because the economy is powered by oil and as it declines the economy must contract.

Everything else is just bumpiness on the decline curve, wouldn't you say?

Stages of Technic Societies

“Yet, after Pearl Harbor, the entire US economic system shifted into war production. We suddenly found ourselves faced with an immediate threat to our survival and the entire nation responded, accepting draconian restrictions on daily life. Posted by Black Dog.”

I don’t see how major Depressions are not inevitable as a symptom of the end of the 300+ year era of general overall economic growth. I don’t see the Pear Harbour analogy as being relevant for several reasons: First, the US (and the rest of the world, for that matter) was far less resource depleted than it is now. Second, Pearl Harbour was a hostile attack by an identifiable foreign power; this type of thing immediately raises passions, feelings of nationalism, etc. At the same time, the obvious identity of the enemy provides a focus-point that everyone can concentrate their energies on overcoming. Also, a war will end within a few years, so such a concentrated focus would be enabled by the general feeling that it would not be a permanent condition.

But finally, I don’t think even if such a response could be attempted that it could avail, as all the thought and national focus can’t reverse the various geological and thermo-dynamic laws.

Antoinetta III

At the same time, the obvious identity of the enemy provides a focus-point that everyone can concentrate their energies on overcoming.

Now over consumption and population meaning "we ourselves" are the enemy. How to you go to war against that?
What will be the weapons, how long do we fight, how long will the war last, what will be the reward of victory, what will the leaders say? WWII provided tangible enemies we could despise and recognize.

Pollution, global warming, peak oil, over consumption and over population have been enemies for over half a century, we have never gone to war against them.

If war is declared I would be surprised if conservation is one of the weapons. Leaving coal, oil and gas in the ground will not be considered and if that is not a deliberate choice everything else is moot.

I suppose I shouldn't have used the "war" analogy. I was trying to point out that a national commitment on the same level as that of a world war might produce the massive changes in our lives which would be required to actually face Peak Oil and AGW. A shift in government similar to military control, i.e., a command economy, can produce startling results. Numerous examples can be found in history. Of course, the loss of the freedoms we claim to cherish in the US would make a change to total control nearly impossible without the sort of threat which was so keenly felt as the result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There's nothing like an attack by a determined enemy to focus the public's attention.

As "Bandits" points out, we are in a situation where we as individuals are our own enemy in this "fight". The people in the US have been spoiled for decades as the result of cheap oil and otherwise abundant resources. How can we "fight" our own pleasure filled existence, which we willingly accepted as a given, or worse, as the defining theme of our lives? How the public be made to see that we are all at fault and that to fix the problems, we must all learn to live with considerably less of that which we have always wanted more of? Those who have the have the largest share are the ones who have the most to lose and they also have the ability to exercise the greatest impact on our "democratic" political process.

We need to stop wasting the planet to feed our self centered appetites. These problems have been discussed so many times that I suspect people have become insensitive to the reality. If there were a simple answer, I think it would have already been put into effect. I am to the point that I think an attack on Iran could be a good idea, as a likely result would be a cut in oil exports from the Gulf and then a global scramble for replacement energy sources. The trouble with such a course is that there would be the sense that the problem is only temporary, whereas we really need permanent re-structuring of our daily lives...

E. Swanson

The reason renewables decline with oil is partly because of the system which currently supports them and the way renewable prices react when oil prices rise/fall.

In the case of ethanol, most consumption is in the form of blending so when gasoline use declines for whatever reason price, fuel efficient cars, walking, public transit or bicycles less ethanol is used. E85 is a small percentage of ethanol consumption even though there are now millions of E85 compatible vehicles on the road.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of E85 pumps but also the anti ethanol jihad has been effective. People simply choose gasoline over E85 because there is little savings in using E85. Distributors protect the gasoline advantage by making sure E85 prices do not reflect its true cost after the blenders credit. The credit is simply pocketed as profit and E85 is priced such that there is little chance that it will be chosen over E10 gasoline except by die hard supporters.

The effect of all this is to mostly limit ethanol to use in blending E10. The bad part from my point of view is this means ethanol consumption is in effect capped at about 10%. With declining gasoline consumption due to increased vehicle efficiency, conservation or whatever it means that less ethanol is also needed. Even if the blend rate were increased it would not be very long until the blending wall is again reached as gasoline consumption falls.

This has killed the cellulosic ethanol alternative since who in their right mind is going in invest in it with a capped/declining market for ethanol? Especially when currently cellulosic ethanol is costlier to produce than corn ethanol.

Now comes California and the EPA in thier infinite wisdom doing their best to also restrict increases in ethanol consumption or at least delay any increases as long as possible.

The net result of all this is that we remain as dependant on oil as ever even as oil/gasoline consumption declines.

my theory is that renewables expect a profit commenserate with oil profits and renewables get priced accordingly.

Well, there's the rub, Elmore. If the monetary system valued energy and resources appropriately, the human economy might have better cues. Renewables need subsidies to get started, though, to combat the higher density/quality of fossil fuels. Or if you look at it from the other direction, is the failure to communicate a natural resource basis for money as an information system part of the reason why fiat currency starts to come apart? The US has been borrowing from the future in terms of energy basis (25% of the world's energy leveraged off of green pieces of paper over 40 years), eventually the information becomes so degraded that we have to start over. When we do, the monetary information system we use will probably be much more local in nature and will price renewables appropriately, perhaps. In the meantime, there may not be much point in hanging onto those green pieces of paper as they become less and less accurate in terms of meaning?

Robbing from the future; stealing your opponent's game pieces. Only in this case, the opponents are your kids.

pv economics -just another perp trick ?

Present value economics must go. For a growth economy, PV makes sense. Oh wait a minute, by PV do you mean photo-voltaic? (always best to spell out one's abbreviations)

Mainstream economics was invented to explain, describe, and encourage economic growth. It is time to shove mainstream economics into the realm of historical economics and progress to an economics of decline. This idea is not popular, but it is necessary to describe and explain the world post-Peak.

pv - present value.

imo, basing decisions on present value economics assumes a super human ability to forecast the future.

Could it be that as the recession gets worse there will be less capital to make the transition to other things? If that be the case then we can assume that the same will be the case for everything else? That is, will there be less capital build a “coal to liquids” infrastructure? Or to convert fleets of cars and trucks to battery and electric power? Or even natural gas?

Will all the miracles of innovation we can seemingly produce when investment capital is abundant disappear in the teeth of a grinding recession?

Now that is something to ponder.

That is the sixtyfour trillion dollar question. Can an industrial/economic system designed for growth figure out how to function with no growth? Gail gets getting at this by throwing out the concept of peak credit/capital. Perhaps capitalism cannot make the transition? We certainly have the physical resources, and human capital needed, but do we know how to organize and motivate them to do the right thing?

Actually there are two questions which are much bigger. They are related, of course, as everything is interconnected, but it helps to separate them out for understanding.

1) Can human beings collectively control world population growth in a humane manner?
2) Can humans beings design, and stick to, a monetary system which is tied to the human scale physical world (i.e. gold standard)?

Those are the big ones. Anything less than that is interesting chatter, but chatter nonetheless.

I am a declinist/doomer because I don't believe humans are capable of the above, at least not yet.

I would say given my involvement in putting together renewable energy projects during the time in question that it is a function of receding horizons. Although the price point for renewables becomes attractive, the inputs to the projects increase with the price of oil, thereby making them just as unattractive when oil was cheaper.

Steel went up, way up. Concrete went up, transportation went up, Copper and Aluminum went up, labour went up some. You should have seen the price quotes we were getting for copper or aluminum conductors. One of the killers was expected escalation. What is going to be the inflation rate 3, 5 and 10 years down the road? What will diesel cost? These put heavy risk adjustment factors into the project's financial analysis. For some projects this made them less viable compared to cheaper oil price eras.

Until one has the opportunity to work with the details of these technologies and project economic analyses, they will remain blissfully ignorant of the actual comparative results. And, all you economist types out there that believe price signals will drive substitution, reality seems to say otherwise. Oil is a foundational good in our economy and will be very difficult to replace. If the price of oxygen goes up will we find some other less expensive gas to inhale? It may be that plain.

Leanan, thanks for posting the important National Academy of Sciences report on global warming. Things are looking far worse than they did just a couple years ago, so we need regular updates to keep abreast of the latest science.

Unfortunately even this dire report seems a bit out of date/optimistic on some points, at least from my cursory reading of the executive summary. For example they claim at most 25% loss of Arctic Sea ice from a one degree C increase. But we have had that one degree increase, and summer minimums are already far past a 25% reduction of historic minimums, and if you include the even more important ice volume date, things have really taken a nosedive.

They also seem to focus on 1-3 degree increases. But we already have one degree, no one thinks we can avoid 2 degrees at this point, and a number of studies have concluded that there is no realistic scenario now to avoid at least a four degree increase.


They also seem to focus on 1-3 degree increases...
... and a number of studies have concluded that there is no realistic scenario now to avoid at least a four degree increase.

In other words, the conclusions of the report are "half baked."

But we have had that one degree increase, and summer minimums [for Arctic Sea ice] are already far past a 25% reduction...

What's more, the science behind the conclusions is skirting on "thin ice."

Seriously, those who deny human-induced climate change will continue to draw such deductions. Too bad, for our sake, the conclusions are not "half baked" and the science is not based on "thicker ice."

A sobering report indeed.

" the science is not based on "thicker ice." "

Only because there is a lie factory out there that tries to smear it 24/7. I find cosmology to be a contrived collection of opinions based on tenuous interpretations of observations but somehow it is treated with respect. Climate science has immediate implications for humanity, cosmology is more like a hobby. But cosmology doesn't step on the BAU toes of the establishment so nobody pays to smear it.

Climate science has immediate implications for humanity

Yep. And if cooling is in our future we are doubly screwed since all we are preparing for is warm.

And if we do something that brings on an ice age (we are overdue)? People are going to be really pissed.

A Theory of Ice Ages
Maurice Ewing and William L. Donn

First we wish to develop the following principal points of the glacial-interglacial
1) The melting of an Arctic ice sheet (such as exists at present) would increase the interchange of water between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, cooling the North Atlantic and warmiing the Arctic and making it ice-free, thus providing an increased source of moisture for the polar atmosphere.
2) Two factors would then favor the growth of glaciers: (i) increased precipitation over arctic and subarctic lands and (ii) changes in atmospheric circulation, the latter also resulting from the warmer Arctic and cooler Atlantic oceans.
3) The lowering of sea level would greatly decrease the interchange of water between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, which, together with the cooling effect of surrounding glaciers, would reduce Arctic surface temperatures until abrupt freezing occurred. The fairly sudden reversal of conditions favorable to glacial development would terminate the growth of glaciers abruuptly.
4) As continental glaciers waned, the sea level would rise, causing an increased transport of surface waters northward until the Arctic ice sheet melted once again, completing the cycle.
5) Temperature changes in the surface waters of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans are thus the causes of, rather than the consequences of, the waxing and waning of continental glaciers.

Ewing and Donn's theory has generally been discarded, primarily due to later work that showed that the ice ages were heavily influenced by the earth's orbital mechanics. However, it may be that it is actually the bistable climate mechanism that is driven by the orbital mechanics.

Since the Arctic Ocean ice is rapidly diminishing, there is a real possiblity of testing the theory. It seems logical enough, since presently the high Canadian arctic is essentially a cold desert. An open Arctic Ocean would provide moisture for the building of glaciers in the far north, even though the temperatures might be warmer.

The only criterion for glacier formation is whether more snow falls than melts, not whether temperatures are a little colder or warmer.

Theres a rather big fly in the ointment as far as testing of Ewing and Donn. That is CO2. Changes in CO2 (which because CO2 slowly responds to changes in global temperatures) are a feedback, rather than a driver of paleoclimate, are a pretty important amplifier for driving ice ages. And we've flooded the system with a lot of it, so we won't get an ice age started, even if E&D are correct.

It seems likely that we have already produced enough to melt the Arctic Ocean ice, possibly for much of the year, given the feedback effect of further warming of the Arctic Ocean due to the low albedo of open water instead of ice.

Then the questions are: Does an open Arctic Ocean cause a great deal of snowfall over northern Canada and Scandinavia? And have we flooded the atmosphere with enough CO2 to ensure that the snow melts in the summer, instead of starting the formation of continental glaciers?

If we haven't put enough AGW gases into the atmosphere, we may have triggered glaciation instead of forestalling it.

Then the questions are: Does an open Arctic Ocean cause a great deal of snowfall over northern Canada and Scandinavia? And have we flooded the atmosphere with enough CO2 to ensure that the snow melts in the summer, instead of starting the formation of continental glaciers?

Interior Alaska, which gets much of its moisture from the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea. Snowfall has indeed increased substantially, presumably because of less sea ice. However, even with heavier snowfall, the snowfree date in the spring season is advancing. I really doubt increased precipitation will do the trick, glacier retreat will simply accelerate.

For the past 3 million years or so, the Earth has experienced almost continual Ice Age conditions. That we are now enjoying a warm period, called an Interglacial, is not obvious to most people. That's because all of human civilization has occurred within the warmth of the Holocene, that is, the past 10,000 years. The big question is this, when will we begin the next period of Ice Age conditions? Some scientists claim that won't happen for several 10s of thousands more years. Other people (who also tend to deny Global Warming) claim an Ice Age is just around the corner.

My thinking is that it's possible that Global Warming will start the next Ice Age, as a result of the melting of Arctic sea-ice, which would kill the thermohaline circulation (THC) in the Nordic and Labrador Seas. This may already be happening, but only time will tell whether the ice begins to build over land again as a result, eventually covering large areas in the NH with glaciers...

E. Swanson

The melting of the Arctic Ocean ice is unlikely to have an effect on THC. There is not enough fresh water in it to cause the equivalent of previous events, which involved lots of glacial fresh water. A collapse of the Greenland glaciers would do it, though.

The bistable climate mechanism proposed by Ewing and Donn is that as sea levels rise due to the warming of the planet, there is a greater flow and greater heat exchange over the Greenland-Iceland sill and the Iceland-Faeroes sill. These are fairly shallow areas of the North Atlantic.

The greater north-flowing currents into the Arctic Ocean melt the Arctic Ocean ice, causing the sequence of events outlined above. Eventually, as water becomes locked into the glaciers, the depth over the sill decreases (about 100 meters below today's sea level), the Arctic Ocean cools, freezes over, and the glaciation stops. After a long time, the glaciers melt, the sea level rises, and repeat.

Just what would happen in an ice age prematurely triggered by AGW, or whether we can or will warm the atmosphere enough to forestall glaciation, are interesting questions.

The trouble with the hypothesis by Ewing and Donn is that only the Bering Strait, which is 55 m deep, would be impacted. At LGM, the oceans were some 125 meters below the present sea level. Cutting off the flow across the sill in the Denmark Strait (sill depth, 191 m), the Iceland-Faroe sill (depth ~300m) and the Faroe-Shetland sill (depth, 800 m), would require much greater buildup in land based ice. Even a decline of 55 meters in sea level would represent a massive change in land ice, thus a cutoff in flow thru the Bering Strait would not likely happen until well into a period transition to Ice Age conditions. It would be reasonable to expect that the buildup in land ice would have flipped the climate into a long period of ice growth due to the snow/ice albedo feedback process.

We have seen considerable freshening of the Nordic Seas and the North Atlantic in recent years. It may be that this slow increase in freshwater export from the Arctic is already impacting the THC. The Younger-Dryas event was likely the result of a pulse of melt water, but that does not disprove the possibility that slower inflows could produce similar results.

E. Swanson

Even if the drop in sea level around the LGM does not completely cut off the flows between Greenland and Scotland, the North Atlantic Deep Water formation would be badly disrupted. The overflow waters flowing south through the Greenland straits would be at a depth of only 70 meters according to your figures. Even though the sill between Iceland and Scotland is proportionately less affected, this is where the deep salty water flows south beneath the north flowing Gulf Stream. So it too would be affected.

The result is that the THC would terminate south of the Greenland-Scotland line and that the Gulf stream would no longer flow far enough north in enough volume to keep the Arctic ice free. This allows the Arctic Ocean to freeze over, stopping precipitation over Northern Canada and Scandanavia. Clearly, it then takes a long time for the glaciers to recede, both due to the cold atmosphere and due to the high albedo of Canada and Northern Europe.

I don't think the Bering Straits are very influential. They are too shallow, and get cut off early in the drop in sea levels.

Note, however, that a good theory of ice ages needs to account for non-glaciated Siberia and Beringia with Mammoths grazing there. Even on Wrangel Island.

The climate system is clearly bistable, with warm periods that are becoming shorter as time goes on. There is a pretty good chance that we have already modified things enough to trigger a transition to the cold phase.

In a previous post, Merrill wrote:

The melting of the Arctic Ocean ice is unlikely to have an effect on THC. There is not enough fresh water in it to cause the equivalent of previous events, which involved lots of glacial fresh water. A collapse of the Greenland glaciers would do it, though.

The problem is,the sea-ice melts and re-forms each year. When the sea-ice melts, it leaves behind a layer of salt depleted water on the surface. Once the sea-ice melt becomes nearly complete, this surface water from the Arctic could more easily flow thry the Fram Strait into the Greenland Sea as the East Greenland Current. That current continues thru the Denmark Strait into the Labrador Sea. In Winter, there is also an out flow of sea-ice thru the Fram Strait. Taken together, the result has been the decrease in salinity found in the Nordic Seas in the report I linked to in my previous post. There is also an increase in the transfer of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean via precipitation and river runoff. Since much of the THC sinking occurs in the Nordic and Labrador Seas, a freshening of those waters could cap the THC sinking.

An event such as this may have happened as the result of The Great Salinity Anomaly, which began in the late 1960's. There is tracer evidence from the 1980's which points to a cessation of the THC sinking in the Greenland Sea. If it's happened before, it can happen again. Only now, there appears to be a greater inflow of low salt waters, a situation which can only worsen as AGW becomes stronger.

There's a new report which presents evidence suggesting that there was a THC sinking process in the North Pacific operating in seesaw fashion opposite to the THC sinking in the Nordic Seas. The evidence points to changes in the surface temperatures of the North Pacific as well, with simulation results indicating greater warmth than today. Therein might be the reason Siberia was glacier free during the last glaciation period. Another possible cause might be that the local climate over the North American glaciers locked atmospheric circulation into patterns which kept Siberia warm enough during the summer months to prevent ice from accumulating to form glaciers.

Okazaki, Timmermann, Menviel, Harada, Abe-Ouchi, Chikamoto, Mouchet, Asahi, "Deepwater Formation in the North Pacific During the Last Glacial Termination", SCIENCE, v329, 200, 9 JULY 2010, DOI: 10.1126/science.1190612

E. Swanson

I stand corrected on the Bering Straits conjecture. See Bering Strait influenced ice age climate patterns worldwide

Hu and his colleagues set out to solve a key mystery of the last glacial period: Why, starting about 116,000 years ago, did northern ice sheets repeatedly advance and retreat for about the next 70,000 years? The enormous ice sheets held so much water that sea levels rose and dropped by as much as about 100 feet (30 meters) during these intervals.
The simulations accounted for the changes in sea level, revealing a recurring pattern-each time playing out over several thousand years-in which the reopening and closing of the strait had a far-reaching impact on ocean currents and ice sheets.
The pattern was finally broken about 34,000 years ago, the point in Earth's 95,000-year orbital cycle at which the planet was so far from the Sun at certain times of year that the ice sheets continued to grow even when the Bering Strait closed. When the orbital cycle brought Earth closer to the Sun in the northern winter, the ice sheets retreated sufficiently about 10,000 years ago to reopen the strait. This helped lead to a relatively stable climate, nurturing the rise of civilization.

We are not on the verge of a new ice age, folks, no matter what happens.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are higher than they've been for about a million years, probably more. And they continue to climb about 2ppm/year.

During the last millions of years during which CO2 levels were lower, the sun has not become less warm, it has of course in fact warmed slightly.

Methane levels are also many times what they have been in the past, and, after a very brief (about decade) pause, are back on the increase, possibly because of feed backs from tundra and sea bed sources.

Point to an ice age that had atmospheric levels of CO2 above 400ppm and methane above 2ppm (both of which levels we are about to breech) and I may find these speculations remotely plausible.

Yes, the present high levels of CO2 would seem to be a problem, mediating against the start of another 100,000 year round of Ice Ages. However, at the end of the Eemian, the Earth was slightly warmer and the sea level was a bit higher than today, about 4m if my memory is correct. One point to consider is that the Milankovitch solar parameters are such that the Earth is closest to the sun in mid winter for the NH, thus NH summer is slightly cooler than it was when that situation was reversed. Perihelion presently occurs around January 3, while aphelion is around July 4, variation in incoming solar radiation of about 6.8%, (more here in Wikipedia). If the Milankovitch variations are the driving mechanism for the end of interglacials, it might seem that we are near the end of this one.

Needless to say, there are different opinions and the short term impacts of CO2 are likely to interrupt the natural progression, at least for a while...

E. Swanson

BD, I used to think this, too.

But first, someone pointed out that the results would likely be local and would soon be overwhelmed by GW effects.

Also, the amount of fresh water needed to stop the AMOC seems to be about one sverdrup (= one million cubic meters per second). There is just not that much water in the sea ice that would melt in that fast of a pace in the right locations to effect that change.

And no one's projections for Greenland melting sees it melting fast enough to dump that much water at that rate.

I volcanic eruption under a glacier, like what just happened in Iceland, could come close, but that is not directly related to GW. And eth fresh water would have to stay undiluted till it got exactly to where it would have to interrupt the circulation.

It certainly is worth watching, since even a slowing of the circulation could have large effects.

On the other hand, another mechanism that might slow or stop the circulation is the warming of the Arctic, neutralizing to some extent the difference in temperature between high and low latitudes that drives the whole system.

It appears from measurements that the THC has some natural variability, as one might expect. There was also the evidence which suggests that the THC stopped in the Greenland Sea in the late 1970's/early 1980's period. The cause of that cessation appears to have been a freshening of the surface layer in the Greenland Sea.

The big question in my mind is still what process started the beginning of the growth of glaciers at the end of the interglacials, such as the Eemian. There appears to be strong evidence that some part of the climate system amplifies the relatively weak orbital forcings. One piece of evidence is that the most recent period of glacial/interglacials began some 3 million years ago about the time the Isthmus of Panama formed and closed off the connection between the tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans. That is said to have eventually resulted in the start of the Atlantic THC, as the salinity increased on the Atlantic side due to transport of water across the barrier. But that would cause high latitude warming around the Nordic Seas. What if warming results in the start of glacier growth?

More recently, changes in the THC have been implicated in episodes of colder conditions, perhaps due to a shift in the position of the sinking water from the Arctic Mediterranean southward into the North Atlantic. The Younger-Dryas type of flooding has been modeled, as you note, but the slow freshening situation would be of a different sort not directly related to what happened in the Y-D. The latest suggestion of the impact of cutting the flow of fresh water thru the Bering Strait suggests that THC strengthening causes the glaciers to melt, but why would the glaciers continue to grow, resulting in further drop in the sea level much below the sill depth in the Strait? Is it that the whole climate system has a large hysteresis, such that thousands of years of salinity increase must occur once the THC has stopped before the THC can be re-established and high latitude warming return? Or, is the other situation from the study reported in the SCIENCE, a seesaw in THC location between the Atlantic and the Pacific the source of the flip-flop in climate?

Looking at the satellite data, I see evidence that some of the THC is no longer occurring where it used to be found in the Greenland Sea. Whether that means the THC has slowed or stopped there is a question I can not answer. Remember Broecker's comment (mol): "The Ocean is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks"...

E. Swanson

Thanks for the insights. Hoping for some kind of unknown (or barely/poorly know) unknown to sweep in and save our collective butts is about all we have going for us, these days.

You might be interested in the current discussion of events in the YD over at RealClimate (Where I post as wili).

In the article up top Lula Has ‘Final Word’ on Oil for Petrobras Share Swap, the Brazil government wants to get paid more for its share of deep sea pre-salt oil reserves. This is a trend that we have seen many times around the world: governments want an increasing share of the oil profits.

While times are good, and profits are to be had, countries being more greedy concering profiting on energy sales seems to work. But as oil revenues fall in places like Mexico and Venezuela, infrastructure upkeep lags - which may eventually cause a feedback of sorts which results in output falling further due to lack of adequately maintained infrasturcture. At least that's what appears to be happening this year in Venezuela. Quite possibly Mexico is not far behind in the same process.

It remains to be seen under westexas' ELM 2.0 whether oil exporters will cut exports - perhaps all the way to zero - to meet internal demand. Looking at Iran, even with its energy exports market strangled by sanctions, it still seeks to supply its domestic market to avoid disruptive energy shortages.

So in sum, present oil exporters have a strong interest in keeping oil profits and output for themselves, making ELM 2.0 a very scary prospect for our future.

Regarding the post about tonight's Discovery Channel "Powering the Future":

establishing a target: identifying a clean, limitless, secure energy supply and addressing how it could possibly be delivered.

I emphasised "limitless" because it caught my attention. Is this an indication that this MSM produced series isn't going to recognise limits as part of an acceptable (likely) senario?

"Limitless" sounds a lot like tip-off to a problem with the show. I suppose that they can assert that wind energy or energy from solar PV is limitless. Since making wind and solar PV depends on fossil fuels, this is hardly true. Production stops when fossil fuel production stops.

The same is true for geothermal and for wave energy.

Uranium production and nuclear plants also depend on fossil fuels.

Hard to see anything truly limitless.

Hard to see anything truly limitless.

Even if we constructed a Dyson sphere around our star, with 100 percent efficient solar panels, thats only a few trillion times our current consumption. If we had continued exponential growth it wouldn't be long before we overran even that huge number.

Hopefully, by limitless, they meant, that it is sustainable. (I know, probably too much to hope for).

Detergent production is dependent on fossil fuels, PV and wind generator production is only dependent on electricity which can be produced by wind and PV (or nuclear, hydro, coal, natgas, or whatever).

I call shenanigans. Back your assertion up.

Ah, a member of the "no limits on a finite planet" school of thought.

Just finished watching the first hour of the Discovery program... Infantile is the most polite descriptor. It really indicates how serious the problem is - and that problem is the overall energy knowledge of the general populace. An embarrassing hour - both for the presenters and anyone who might have actually learned something from it....

Hardly, I just do not believe that oil, natgas, and coal are the be-all and end-all of energy production.

I didn't forget how to walk when I got my driver's license. We don't need fossil fuels to produce products that have no innate fossil fuel inputs.

Other limits, like copper availability, are much more likely to bite us on wind and PV than oil availability.

That there's a hyperbolic snark, Andre'..

R4ndom doesn't post as a bleeding heart cornucopian.

There are surely a great many limits out there.. but unless the climate becomes permanently gray and calm somehow, Solar&Wind Energy is still a hopeful direction, and for our purposes, Sunlight is unlimited.. albeit regularly truncated.

Solar, Hydro and Wind generated electricity can certainly be used to process metals and glass and electronics. Who knows how MUCH will be possible with what has been installed, but at least we have generated SO MUCH essential waste material that can be salvaged into personal and small-scale Renewables, that if we were to hit a wall, a great deal of RE could still be built out with practically no financial outlay.. as unemployed people discovered that there are reliable and durable ways to heat and cook, besides just cutting down the fast-disappearing trees..

Just because many energy directions are looking hopeless, it doesn't behoove us to assume all of them are.

hyperbolic snark

Never having coming across one of those I didn't even know I was doing it!

In any case, it didn't seem that snarky to me, more of an observation. But people interpret things different ways.

In any case, the issues have been rehashed several thousand times by now so I'm not about to do that one more time. Next time I'll keep my comment to myself unless it moves the conversation forward.

Starting now.

Looks pretty cheesy so far.

And sponsored by Shell.

"Sponsored by Shell"...............Geez!

Didn't Shell sell their PV division a few years ago?

....which it had aquired from the venerable Siemens Solar (who still honor their warranties):

22/04/2002: Shell Renewables announced today the conclusion of the acquisition of all the shares held by Siemens AG and E.ON Energie AG in the former solar photovoltaic (PV) joint venture Siemens und Shell Solar GmBH. Regulatory approval for closing the transaction has already been received


... and was in the business just long enough to set it back a few years:

"In October 2007, Shell sold Shell Solar Lanka Ltd to Environ Energy Global PTE Ltd.

....and since has been accused of welching on its warranties:

Shell has become embroiled in a major row with the World Bank and green energy companies after allegations that it is unfairly refusing to honour warranties on solar power systems sold to the developing world.

.....undermining the future of RE businesses in the developing world:

"Shell exited solar on a global basis, seemingly without due consideration to how after-sales service and warranty replacements would be provided, thereby damaging the very local solar industries it had earlier helped to create," said Damian Miller, a former Shell manager who now heads his own solar business, Orb Energy.


Go figure.

Technucopian propoganda alert!

Tell'em we can fix it!
People gotta believe......

Tell'em they're screwed!
It's honest...... It's Kunstler!

In honor of the 2005 December 'Peak' prediction.. I got my first somewhat significant PV panel, a Shell 40w. (Up til then, all I'd found were some 1.5watt car dashboard panels, etc..)

I kind of treasure it now, beyond its inherent energy value. Maybe I'll put an 'Only Nixon could go to China' sticker onto it somewhere..

Sponsored by these guys?

Thanks a lot!

BBC is featuring a documentary called, Dubai - Dashed Dreams, that was first aired in the wee hours of this morning with repeat viewings throughout the weekend:

Saturday 17th at 0210 GMT
Repeated: Saturday at 1510 GMT. Sunday at 0910 and 2110 GMT

The founders of Dubai had a dream - it was to be the destination in the Gulf - to have the biggest and the best of everything. But has the financial crash scuppered the dream? We follow the lives of four residents coping with new found hard times.

Are there any Brits out there who may have perchance watched it earlier? Looks like something that would interest TOD folks. Any way to access it on line?

It's a far cry from when National Geographic made its 2007 documentary, Dubai: Miracle or Mirage. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's dream of going global has been since caught in the global squeeze.

One hundred and sixteen MW down and several hundred more to go....

Nuttby Mountain wind turbines arrive

Nova Scotia Power's plan to generate power from five new wind farms by the end of 2010 took a step forward this week at the 45-megawatt farm under construction on Nuttby Mountain, near Truro.

The parts to build one turbine have been arriving on Nuttby Mountain every day this past week. Each blade is nearly 40 meters in length, along with the towers that will hold them. In all, 22 turbines will be built on the site.


Each of the towers will sit on a huge base, and it takes a full day just to pour the concrete. That concrete is made from a waste product from coal burning.

"For each one of the turbine foundations, there's about 40 tonnes of fly ash that's being produced at our Trenton thermal generating station," MacLellan said. "And instead of that fly ash going into the landfill, we're actually using it as part of the concrete mixture."

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/07/16/ns-nuttby-wind-far...

The promise of a greener tomorrow unless, of course, our provincial government decides otherwise...

N.S. emission goals should be discussed as power rate hike looms: minister

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's energy minister said Friday he thinks a variety of measures — including possibly revisiting emission standard goals — should be considered as the province grapples with potential energy rate hikes.

After meeting Tuesday with a number of business and community groups concerned about the effects of an increase, Bill Estabrooks wouldn't take a position when asked whether emission targets needed to be eased in an effort to reduce costs.


Nova Scotia Power will go before provincial regulators in the fall to ask for a power rate increase as high as 12 per cent for residential users and 18 per cent for businesses.

The utility says the increases are needed to help cover the cost of burning cleaner coal as it tries to meet standards for mercury emissions.

Under a federal-provincial agreement inked in 2000, Nova Scotia has enacted regulations that say the utility must not exceed 65 kilograms in aggregate mercury emissions in any year.

See: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/greenpage/environment/ns-emission-goals...

Best hopes for honouring one's commitments.


Hi Paul,

Nutby Mountain is well known for its wind and its view. The peak of the Cobequid Hills, Nutby is the highest elevation on mainland Nova Scotia at 360 m (1181 ft).

For years it was a well known landmark on the road between Truro and Tatamagouche, a breathtaking vista punctuated by an abandoned farm house that caused more than one visitor and native to pause for a gaze.


The house finally crumbled to the ground a couple of winters ago. The site was cleared of the debris. The view has not been the same since.

What is needed is another man-made structure to accentuate the scenery.

Now people can stop to look at the wind turbines instead.

Here, here to a cleaner energy future.



Hi Tom,

One of the many things I appreciate about living in Nova Scotia is that so much of this great province remains untouched by man. It's quite different from Toronto where you have to drive a couple hundred km to "get away" from the city, and even then you can't escape the orange glow of distant street lights. I'll never forget staying overnight at a friend's cottage deep in the heart of Pictou County. Not a single light to be seen in any direction -- complete darkness except for the moon and the stars illuminating the treetops. I just stood there near motionless, alone with the universe.

So the intrusion of man and his works into these outer reaches is somewhat bitter-sweet for me. I support the development of wind as a replacement of coal -- I feel we have little choice -- but I'm also mindful that wind farms such as this are not without their own costs.


Hi Paul,

The main reason why I moved from Halifax to the Avon Valley was to get away from daily nightmare of traffic jams, cell phones, bill boards, and the clutter and noise of my fellow human beings.

Rural life is an improvement but even here isn't far enough away by times. (And as you know, I even like people!)

Every summer, I spend a week at a church camp outside West Dalhousie south of the Annapolis Valley. The camp is 12 kms from the nearest house and street light.

The Milky Way is brilliant when seen in the absence of light pollution. There is a stillness in the silence of the deep woods that is indescribable. Equally indescribable is the symphony of sound as nature stirs around you. There is no place like it on earth and none, IMHO, more peaceful or peace filled.

I don't live near Nutby Mountain and I suspect the ubiquitous wind turbines and their spotter lights and humming noise will affect a great swath around. But after seeing the wind turbines in Cape Breton and at Schubenacadie, I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty and sleekness of their design. Besides, there is no shortage of wind as the coastal breezes from the Northumberland Straits blow on shore and meet the Cobequid Hills. I can think of no better place in N.S. to have a wind farm.

The couple of times I've driven to Tatamagouche since the old house collapsed on the mountain, I can't help but sense that there is something missing. What remains is a hillside view of trees - much the same scenery as everywhere else. The eye catching unique landscape has become surprisingly bland again.

Whether the wind turbines will add to the landscape or become just another disruptive eyesore awaits further judgment.



You're probably right, Tom -- maybe someday, we'll look at a wind farm in much the same way as a dairy farm or meadow.


On the front page of this weekend's WSJ: Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up The Pavement. Nothing new to most of us here, but more evidence that the squeeze is on. Residents of small/poor communities don't want gravel roads but also don't want their taxes to go up. Highway maintenance dept's defer road maintenance until the only affordable option is to grind up the degraded asphalt and return the road to gravel. What had once been the American norm everywhere - affordable, maintainable blacktop roads, isn't anymore.

Good link.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

I've often thought that infrastructure would be the big issue with cars. Bill Gates can afford any car he wants, and as much fuel as he wants. But even he can't afford to build his own highway system.

When I was 5 years old, I lived in an extremely rural area with dirt roads. If it rained a lot, they became impassable, even with a jeep. I remember crying because I couldn't go to school. There was simply no way to get there. (I had just started school, or I would have been happy at the unexpected 2-3 week vacation. ;-)

My mom put her foot down after that, and told my dad that our next move had to be someplace where there were asphalt roads, so I could get to school regularly.

And the roads going to pot(holes) will happen unless some breakthrough happens which can be under the price of cheap oil.

Magical ways of storing electrical power may give electric cars but without mass cheap energy there will not be the paved roads we've come to know. Perhaps the small bridges we've come to expect will also go away.

My Grandfather drove a horsedrawn carriage on cobblestones.

My father drove a Model T on concrete.

I drove a V8 on asphault.

My son drives a hybrid on asphault.

His son will drive a donkey cart on dirt.

Nice remake of that Saudi/UAE* proverb with the camel. :))

* I know, it's often mentioned as Saudi one, but according to Wikipedia, it was Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai, who said "My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel." to reflect his concern that Dubai's oil will run out in a decade or two.
Of course, he just might used a Saudi proverb to express his fears.
(just some fun facts about the aforementioned proverb O:-) )

Another paragraph from that article I thought was interesting:

Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road "is not a free road," says Purdue University's John Habermann, who organized a recent seminar about the resurgence of gravel roads titled "Back to the Stone Age."

Diesel powered graders are going to be difficult to maintain over the long term, and I don't think of anyone who is proposing an electric grader. So once diesel powered graders decline in availability (or the cost of grading is too expensive for counties), gravel roads are likely to be truly in poor shape.

A team of oxen might do the trick.

Today Mish brought up the topic of decaying roads, local currencies etc, for ways of coping with this Depression.

Ron Paul Silver Ounces Accepted at Michigan Gas Station; Chiropractor Accepts Gold, Silver, Apple Pie; Back to the Stone Age; Chickens Invade Lansing

Here's four interesting ways businesses, private citizens, and counties are coping with the economic depression. The first is the most important one. Let's hope it catches on...


Some places do have problems maintaining roads. But in Minnesota we have two seasons: Winter and Road Construction. In 40 years of living in this state I have never seen a time of more roads being built, lanes being added, roads being repaved. I gather all the stimulus money has been spent, but somehow they keep the road construction and maintenance going here. I'd say the overal condition of roads, both in the metro area and also beyond the metro, is as good as I've ever seen it since 1970, when I moved back to Minnesota. Small cities are in a budget crunch, but they still patch to potholes and repave the worst of the roads. There are a lot of county roads, and all those I've seen are all right to better than all right. State highways are well maintained, and the Interstates (except for oodles of construction, especially for adding lanes) are good. Urban roads in the metro are in good repair.

Cost of road maintenance prominently on display

In our town we have signs in front of road construction zones showing us the cost and where the funds come from. We have a 5 miles stretch of state road with two lanes each way (4 lanes total) under construction with no bridge on this stretch. It is almost done being repaved. The Federal Government chipped in $1.9 mil., and the State added $ .3 mil. The local contributed nothing.

To my naive eyes, the road was in fair shape, but certainly not bad. It is the most used and the largest road in town beside the interstate highway. I suspect had we not received Fed. money to pave this state road, we would delayed maintenance indefinitely. $2.2 million to repave a four lane road for 5 miles is a bit expensive!

According to this article, a University of Minnesota study found that "gravel is cost-effective when daily traffic averages 200 vehicles or less."

IME, however, paving projects are really political. That's why you see roads that are in fairly decent shape being repaved while others haven't been resurfaced since 1901. If a senator has "pull" and wants something done...it gets done. If it's a town's "turn" for a project, they'll get it, even if the road doesn't really need it.

But in Minnesota we have two seasons: Winter and Road Construction.

For the last couple of decades, I have maintained that the State of Nebraska could have made everyone's life simpler if they just put up signs on I-80 and I-76 where they enter the state that said "Road Construction Next 440 Miles".

The Front Range suburb where I now live is doing a lot less full resurfacing (mill off the top inch or two of old asphalt and put down a similar depth of new) and much more spot repairs and then seal coat. Won't last as long as a full resurface, but doesn't require nearly as much asphalt.

With a few exceptions, I find the Denver area roads to be in much worse shape than when I moved here 22 years ago. IIRC, something over 40% of the state's highway lane miles are rated "poor or worse". Some of the problem is budgetary; due to various constitutional provisions, the state revenues never fully recovered following the 02-03 recession, and then took another hit beginning in 2008.

I live in upstate NY and certainly no roads "going gravel" around here. And plenty of road maintenance going on. But I would propose that the (available) sources of financing have a lot to do with this. Despite being in dire financial straits, New York state is still able to conjure up plenty of money for road maintenance as well as lots of other things. I assume various localities can also issue bonds for things like road projects. But the Spiritwood, ND - Old Highway 10 case described in the article seems to represent more of a "pay as you go" situation. Here is a community that used to be able to maintain this road as a paved surface, based on normal revenue flows, but with no apparent change in circumstances such as a large local business closing or moving away, no longer is able to.

Weekend OT - Sorry I Had To Whack you...Nothing Personal

This will eventually lead to a purpose.

We've had a flock of grouse (up to 17) that spend the summer in our garden and orchard. I like them. Grouse are friendly, nice birds. However, they cause a lot of fruit and vegetable damage.

But, after umpteen years of lost crops, I had had it with them and said, "If they fly into the garden this year they die." They spent a few weeks outside the garden this year but they flew inside yesterday and I shot them (only two; the local bobcats probably got the rest when they were nesting). No more bird netting bush beans or "hosing" them out of fruit trees with a garden hose.

I neither feel good not bad about this. It's part of life. Which leads me to the purpose of this post: As things get worse and collapse, will people take the same position I did with the grouse, i.e., "I tried to work with you but you didn't listen or take action so, now, screw you. You are on your own. Lots of luck."

I hate to be "uncaring" but if I have tried to help you and you refused my help (help could be anything from attempting to forewarn you about the future to offering garden advice) then I don't care if you live or die and that includes your cute kids.

Nor, would I be interested in some one who repents, "I know I was stupid and should have listened but you have a moral obligation to help me now." My response, "F you and if you attempt to push it I'll whack you just like any other pest."

I think most TODers know I'm not a warm-fuzzy or mellow person and that I might not be typical. My question, going back to the grouse, is how much lea-way are you willing to grant people before you cut them off? Or, are you willing to go down with the ship even if your help means your own demise?


PS - I also had to whack a skunk earlier this week when it got caught in a rabbit trap I had set up earlier in the week. I've had to shoot rabid skunks behind our house so one less means one less skunk that could spread rabies.

And before all the eco people get upset, I only do this on about 3 of my 57 acres. I had a trap line when I was a kid and learned that killing is easy. I have tried not to kill anything since that time unless it is truly necessary.

To me, the fact that you post this and expect some negative feed back is another indicator of how far to the extreme our terminally ill culture realy is.

Imagine your post as a letter to the editor in, say 1930 or so.

I'm very much with you Todd, take responsibility for yourself and do not expect any mercy as conditions deteriorate (that applies to humans and other garden pests ;).

I guess it's also the reason most of the wildlife we've allowed to live because it isn't bothering us there, hangs on in national parks, and other no-kill shelters.

We're the only species that kills other creatures gratuitously i.e. not because we want to eat them.

We're the only species that kills other creatures gratuitously i.e. not because we want to eat them.

I don't know, you should see my cat Miho at work.

Yeah, my cat kills for sport, after she plays with her victims for a while. She'll take a rat over near the dog kennel and see how loud she can make it squeal (she knows it makes the dogs go crazy). I named her "Priss" after the character in Blade Runner.

She's a keeper.

People who say, "We're the only species that kills other creatures gratuitously" don't know other species very well. Particularly not cats.

A lot of predators, notably cats and dogs, will kill other species just for the sheer fun of it. And then when they get hungry they kill even more.

Domestic house cats are deadly where birds are concerned. They kill millions of them. They've probably caused the extinction numerous species of bird. Domestic dogs have probably wiped out several species as well. One of the reason for the high extinction rates when humans arrive in a new area is the pets they bring with them.

Hi SA,

Well, actually I don't expect a lot of negatives with the exception that I'm way out there some place. Otherwise, I expect few responses. Why?

Because many people deny reality. They've been able to avoid basic stuff like grouse in the garden much less the really serious issues. Oh sure, they post about these things (Oh, life is tough.) but have neither done anything nor have actually faced having to take irreversible actions. Killing things is irreversible. Deciding society is screwed and seeing this reality is irreversible.

I left the chemical industry a long time ago knowing full well that I was burning every bridge to go back. I gave up tons of income (probably $2M+ to date). Now, if someone wants to bitch about hard decisions, then I want them to post what that decision was and how much they gave up - it can be either money or status...or perhaps, a relationship. And, for some, it might be the military.

My point above was that people are not open-end in their ability to support those around them. That there is a point where one has to say "no more" or die as a result.

Let's see what other posters say.


Hey, Todd...
Can't make it Tues...jury duty. I'll call you if I escape it.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for letting me know. Maybe the week after this...besides, it's been too darn hot although we could use Kent's office but then there are a lot of interruptions.

My city neighbor was up this weekend and he may be coming around. This sort of strikes me funny but he asked me last night when I was down for desert, "How long do you think we have?" We even talked a bit about growing crops. I hope this signifies a real change.


Todd, sounds like you live in a rural area. So do I. Whacking wildlife is an everyday event around here. Nothing new under the sun.

Town dwellers tend to be a little more squeamish about it, but the same principle holds. Even in cities you have rat patrols in sewers and at shipping granaries. Pests are pests.

The thrust of your question, however, is about social violence.

IMHO, the level of violence in a contracting economy will be determined by culture and community.

For example, an interesting set of statistics from north of the U.S. border: the crime rate in Canada tends to go down the further east you go. The western Prairies, year after year, tend to have highest murder rates while the Maritimes the lowest. This is true in good times and bad; and it is particularly marked that Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick (two provinces with the lowest crime rates) are considered have-not provinces while Saskatchewan and Alberta (the two with the highest) are considered to be have provinces.

How well do people get along in your neighbourhood? How well connected are you to your family? Where do your friends live? Do you consider the folks next door to be your friends? Can you rely on them in a pinch?

Satiated people do not make friendlier or kinder neighbours. Kind neighbours will be kind to you even if the cupboards are bare.

If you have nasty neighbours now, I would suggest you move.



The reason we have an excess of rats is because we got rid of all the larger species that eat rats.

Nobody wants to share space with wolves, for example, or cats any larger than a domesticated one, and so we have overpopulation of rats.

Maybe, one day, if we aren't way past any tipping point for species recovery, we'll end up with a more balanced world.

Note to self : dream on - we'll take every living thing, edible or not, down with us as we sink.

When I lived on the south side of Chicago here were so many rats it was impossible to set enough traps to kill them all. They would eat my tomatoes and cucumbers. It didn’t help having neighbors who left piles of dog cr*p all over their yard - gourmet food for rats. I miss the stench of the city in really hot weather.

Speak for yourself. I enjoy sharing my space with wolves (although they don't like sharing theirs with me), and the occasional cougar that wanders through doesn't upset me unless it picks off one of the neighbors' dogs. They stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs, and we're all happy.

It's the grizzly bears that bother me. They tend to be pushy because they realize they are much much bigger than I am. The wolves and cougars aren't too sure about it, so they stay out of sight.

However, we don't have any rats. We killed them all. This involved a lot of firearms, high explosives, incendiary devices, and poisons. Mostly poisons. Tons and tons of arsenic and warfarin. Rats are not natural, they don't belong here, and we killed them all. And we don't regret it.

The wolves and cougars were not up to the task, but good old homo sap had the technology.

Alberta. Rat free. Don't bring your pet rat here, or we'll kill it, and we won't apologize.

Canadian crime rates are rather anomalous because the biggest cities tend to have lower crime rates than smaller cities, and older cities tend to have lower crime rates than newer cities. Also, crime rates tend to be inversely proportional to income levels, and neighborhood crime rates tend to be inversely proportional to the number of immigrants.

This is completely different from US patterns, and I think there might some university theses in there for a lot of grad students. I just use it to analyze the rantings of a lot of US pundits and say, "That's a load of bunk".

Canadian crime rates are rather anomalous...

Only if compared to patterns in the U.S. Otherwise, from a Canadian perspective, these statistics are perfectly understandable within the scope of our demography and geography.

Hence my original point: how well people get along will be determined largely by culture and community. No size fits all.

Btw, Rocky, thanks for the insights. I usually learn something new from each of your posts.

I just use it to analyze the rantings of a lot of US pundits and say, "That's a load of bunk".

Outsiders are usually left non-plus by such rants and see through them quite quickly. There is a American cultural perception that he who speaks loudly, wins the argument. Politically, it makes sense: reflects a congressional system where delivering the 30 second soundbite is very important. Legislation is clobbered together in committee and in the backrooms. Process provides less room for debate and more for commentary. That's been picked up by media personalities.

For those familiar with parliamentary procedure and debate, we expect nuanced and articulate argument in our public discourse. There is both a role for "the government" and " a loyal opposition" to ferret and draw out potential flaws in any legislation and to speak on behalf of the popular will.

Lately, I've noticed the Canadian public discourse deteriorating as manipulation and secrecy creeps increasingly into government policy making. I suspect this is one of the chief reasons why many in the electorate feel disenfranchised. No one is speaking for them: either in government or on the opposition benches. This, in turn, is sadly being reflected in lower voter turnouts.

Sadly, too, the rant has been picked up by Canadian media. I should add that Rick Mercer and others "ranting" simply annoys me. Anybody yelling their opinion at me I dismiss as juvenile. Two year old toddlers do tantrums. IMO, it is not befitting for an adult.



Last year I had to shoot a raccoon family which started destroying just about everything around my house. I lost almost a whole crop of cantaloupe to them. Barbeque raccoon, is not great, but it’s not bad either. Anyway, I have a neighbor down the road who I used to give some of my extra blackberries to. Last year after digging up some rooted tips that I use to expand my rows (Triple Crown), I gave this neighbor about six plants. This year I gave him another ten or so. The ones I gave hi this year he failed to plant and they died. Last year’s plants were doing ok but were weed whacked by his partner who didn’t like their placement nor wanted to care for them (minimal - pruning old wood after the berries are gone). So guess how many berries I’m going to offer them in the future? Some people are just plain parasitic. Offer them help and they always want more and offer none in return. I’ll help anyone to a point. But don’t mistake kindness for weakness. In the future your very survival might depend on carefully selecting who you help.

There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish he eats a day, teach him to fish and he eats a lifetime. It’s my experience that you teach a man to fish too many times he will fish out the hole leaving everyone with nothing to eat. This is why fisherman never tell of a “hot spot”. Claire Booth Luce had good insight when she said “no good deed goes unpunished“.

Awwwww! How could you shoot something so adorable?


Actually, I entirely understand. I am lucky enough to have enough relatively uninhabited land around that I can transport troublemakers like these two adolescent raccoons to a place with no people living nearby.

In our area we assume racoons are rabid:

Rabies exists in two reservoir populations in NC. One is the raccoon ...


Studies in Western NC have shown rabies in Racoons to be near a 50% infection rate. They are cute though.

Cute, but look at the teeth they have. They’re also very intelligent. They can get into all sorts of things, including the automated cat door in this instance and into the house. They communicate with each other very well. This was the only instance of a raccoon problem I’ve had since living out here. Usually they keep their distance but these were persistent in coming back after being chased away. They had learned a behavior that was fatal in the long run. Animals that don’t learn to avoid humans around my parts, South Central Illinois, get taken out of the gene pool. I mercifully killed them from a sniper position at 50 yards away with a scoped Ruger model 77/22 magnum bolt action (great short range varmint gun that puts them in the x ring) at night when they came in to wreak havoc. There is not any sense having an animal uselessly suffer. Coon hunting with dogs is just so repellant and popular around my area. I’m also not passing on my problems to a neighbor.

My favorite animal around me is the possum. Minds its own business. They actually seem to be friendly with the cat - deadly little Miho. They don’t harm anything, although they can sometimes mess up the compost pile. Deer are the least favorite. Bambi can destroy all my fruit trees, grapevines, and anything with nice succulent leaves in short order. During rutting season bucks can kill a tree by girdling with their rack(I did save a nice nectarine tree by using a bridge graft).

A full grown momma coon can rip the entrails out of a dog in a flash. They grab the dog with their front claws and use the back claws to rip open the abdominal cavity. It sometimes takes a full 6 rounds to knock one down. Even then they might crawl off in the woods and either die or survive. I once had to whack a stray dog with my shotgun stock after wounding it badly it running in circles in the woods after I ran out of shells. Lots of folks in the country will let dogs overbreed and then let them run wild . That broke the stock on my favorite shotgun. They also let cats overbreed. My neighbor once had 35 cats hanging around his porch. Many came to my barn and I had to kill them for he was too lazy to do it himself and let them run wild. For a long time there were no bluebirds here in the houses I nailed up.

I had just arrived back at the farm after a few days in the city. I let the two Jack Russells out of the vehicle after turning off the ignition and then heard a heck of a ruckus out by the orchard.

Both Jacks had a half grown coon and shredded it. The family was feasting on my two apple trees and two pear trees.

I ran to get my handgun and got out just as the huge mother coon was descending the trunk of the apple tree to kill the two Jacks and she would have in very short order.

Seeing me she hightailed it back up the tree which I then blew her outwith a several .45 rounds. She hit the ground and still had enough life to disembowel either dog easily if she could have gotten to them.

I had to beat them off while emptying the remaining 5 rounds in her general direction.

Later I had finally with the dogs help, killed off her eight half grown offspring. But not after they had totaled my whole crop of sweet corn and the open pollen dield corn in my garden over a very few nights.

I had zero corn that year(last year). So far they the coons have spared me this year. I think the type of farming here and the decimating of the woodlands is at fault as to why this is one the increase and why I had to execute wildlife that I would much prefer to see remain alive and wild.

Thanks to my Jacks I can keep the varmints somewhat under control. They have cleaned out all the moles who used to eat my asparagus. They do keep the deer out somewhat successfully.

The rest I have to use firearms to deal with. I am not much of a hunter and prefer to coexist with the wildlife but the farming operations in my area are making it harder and harder on natures wildlife ,so they will predate on your gardens as a means of surviving and I do not blame them but I also have to eat and missing a whole year of corn to grind means I must eat the industrial grade stuff from the supermarkets.

Unless I am dealing with wildlife in my garden I tend to leave them alone. I can handle the possums, they are no problem, but the coons have to go once they start visiting.

My grandfather was born on his family`s farm back in 1909. My mom told me that growing up there, they had a few cats to take care of the mice. But if the cats produced too many kittens, my grandfather put them in a sack and threw them in the creek. I guess he did this too mnay times to count. We think of this as cruel but actually it is just the only way that makes sense in a low energy situation. No spaying (too costly). No extra food (too costly).

There was an interesting NYT article yesterday about fading polyandry (two or three men marrying one woman) a common practice in rural India (near Himalayas). Life was precarious there in the mountains so to avoid having too many children, one woman had two or three husbands. Then there would be less need to divide land. But this practice has faded with wealth (energy, transportation, etc.) But of course it can come back.....

People don`t necessarily like polyandry or doing away with hundreds of kittens but there`s no choice so they make the best of it. So don`t feel bad, you did your best.

Just finishes a large pot of venison chili from a mendo killed deer.
People are so out of touch with reality.

I've trapped a number of critters such as skunks and raccoons and transported them far enough away that they became someone else problem. We had ravens picking off our young chicks and for a while I played like Elmer Fudd with my shotgun, blasting away at those wascally wavens. Finally realized that they were too smart to ever fly into range (they knew when I had the shotgun handy). We built a brooding pen with wire all around instead of messing with the ravens. Works much better and I hate to kill such an intelligent creature (it's understandable why the native folks regarded them with awe)

Rural living involves a lot of trade-offs when it comes to competing with the local wildlife for the critical acres that provide for us. I try to keep in mind that these creatures have as much right to the land as we do, but shooting a varmint now and then, when we can't see another way around it, is just ok (besides, I really love venison:)

Rural living involves a lot of trade-offs when it comes to competing with the local wildlife ...

Like you, ET I tend to see this as much their territory as mine. Where do I draw the line? My house and my garden are off limits. The rest is fair grazing ground.

Any critters that venture inside the house are met by three cats (all good hunters), although I'm not sure what they would do if they ran into a raccoon. Hope never to find out. I keep my cats indoors since they have a good chance of coming across skunks, raccoons, or porcupines in the yard. The odd coyote has been known to snack on household pets, too.

Inside my garden, the main critters I have to contend with are slugs and insects. Beer takes care of the slugs; soapy water keeps most harmful six legged vermin away.

For three years in a row, I planted onions only to have them dug up by skunks. I no longer plant onions.... could never hope to win that battle.

Several sheep farmers in the area. Their main targets are crows/ravens (which can do quite nasty things to young lambs) and coyotes. They don't hesitate but to shoot them. Coyotes are on everybody's most wanted lists: they encroach on the locals' domesticated livestock, including calves and colts. Cattle and horse farmers are forever raging war against these wild dogs .

ET, I share with you a fascination with crows/ravens. They are extremely intelligent and beautiful creatures. I have a big painting of a crow on my office wall by an artist named Leonard Paul. Needless to say, I don't show that piece of artwork to my shepherd neighbours.

Meanwhile, I have families of squirrels and mice using my garden shed as a winter home. Since I don't keep anything in there except my gardening tools and lawn mower and I don't have much reason to visit between October and May, I figure it's a nice place for the smaller critters to stay dry. Usually find their abandoned nests in my flower pots and buckets come spring. Besides, it's my way of keeping up the food supply for stray cats, snakes, and hawks, who in turn, keep the rodents out of my garden.

Deer don't seem to bother the farmers nearly as much as the flower gardeners. Hostas and tulips are high on the list of Bambi's favourite munchies.

Part of my childhood was spent outdoors on the sea working the lobster boats or on land wandering the woods with gun in hand. I respect nature, I enjoy nature, but I don't spend my time sentimentalizing about it.

Hunting for food is o.k. Getting rid of pests is o.k. Culling predatory populations, such as coyotes, is o.k. Otherwise, live and let live.

One thing I can't stand, however, is needless or wanton cruelty, even to the lowly creepy crawlies. Injuring or killing wildlife for its own sake and without mercy simply makes me angry.

Seeing an occasional pheasant, raccoon, skunk, mole, snake or skunk cross my path in my own backyard always brings a delight to my heart. I would miss that simple pleasure if I ever returned to live in a city.



The sad (and frustrating) thing is that this competition for habitat is brought about largely by too many humans. Probably no easy solution to that.

And best hopes for not surprising a skunk in your backyard.


ET, agree.

The encroachment of humans on coyote habitat is what brought the wild dogs east. They are not native to this part of the world. This is but one small example of how the natural world has had to adapt to our intrusions and invasions.

It is sad.

As far as the skunk family is concerned, they tend to be nocturnal and leave an odor to let me know when they are around. This is far from being fool proof, I know, and so I take every precaution. It's not in my game plan to spend a night in a bathtub of tomato juice!


Here's to joys of rural living. 'Green Acres is the place to be...'


Actually, the reason the coyote moved east is that you people killed off the wolves. The wolves used to kill any coyotes that moved into their territory, but with the wolves gone, the coyotes moved right in.

The bigger problem is that the coyotes that moved in interbred with the remaining wolves, and what you got was a bigger, tougher coyote, but with the coyote willingness to live in close association with people.

The biggest problem with that is these bigger, tougher eastern coyotes will occasionally kill someone.

The smaller western coyote is no match for someone with a walking stick, and knows it, while the western wolf just doesn't want to live anywhere near human beings.

I think you should drown the cats ... they are vicious killers and should never have been domesticated - we are paying for it every day. I don't buy for one minute the lame excuse that they keep rat/mice populations down. Let the raccoons and skunks take over!

The cats belong to the misses.

If I drowned them, I would have to drown her.

There are laws against that.

Sorry, Cargill. Self preservation says the cats live.

If you keep the cats indoors, their environmental impact is minimal.

However, in a lot of countries, they think keeping cats indoors is cruel.

I've always kept my cats indoors, and they've been perfectly content. Don't even want to go outside.

I think you should drown the cats ... they are vicious killers and should never have been domesticated

I think that statement better applies to Homo Sapiens.

My grandfather (who grew wheat) did use cats to catch mice though. I also lived in an old farmhouse in Japan that became infested with muce (to the point that I stepped on one in the dark), then we got a kitten and just the smell of the cat apparently made the mice scram. Cats do absolutely catch mice (but not all cats like chasing mice). Our cat here brought a dead mouse in for us to enjoy just last month.

I've been in a lot of natural gas processing plants which had an official Plant Cat. The Plant Cat had its official pedigree and a record of all its veterinary shots up on the walls, next to the Plant Operators' technical school certificates. It was well fed and pampered by the Plant Operators.

The Plant Cat was in charge of mouse control. Gas plants tend to be warm and dry, and prime habitats for field mice. The Plant Cat was tasked with keeping the field mice population under control, which it did with great enthusiasm.

Every morning, the Plant Cat would present the remains of the nightly field mice kill to the Plant Receptionist, which freaked some of them out quite badly. And occasionally it would chew through a network cable and bring the plant control system down, but other than that they were very popular.

Well Todd;
I figured you should get a reply from a City-dwelling, Eco Altruist, just to round out the replies.

My only question was, do you eat them? I don't remember if Grouse are eating fowl or not..

I don't see anything wrong with it. I'd do the same to protect my food supplies or my house from harmful ingressors..

The 'sport' that gets me annoyed is 'Catch and Release' fishing. Maybe it's good somehow, but strikes me as cruel to the animals, a waste of time, AND throwing away free food. I have friends who are into it.. but it strikes me ultimately as just ridiculously uninteresting for the above reasons.. As Jake LaMotta (DeNiro) said in 'Raging Bull', when served an overcooked steak "It Defeats its own PURPOSE!"

Grouse are delicious!

Ya, the real tragedy is you didn't eat them! They are very good, especially Ruffled Grouse. The breast is tender and flavourful. We used to make them with the fast and ready cream of mushroom soup sauce all the time.

Next time if you are going to eat them, try to use a lighter shot like 16 gauge or 410. Aim for the head and pick any shot out of the breast right away. They're also not too bright. I've just about walked right up to them. Spruce hens are a little smarter and faster, and they don't taste as good.

Yes, I've never eaten a grouse, only met them on the trail, but I am told they are delicious.

I remember talking to a good-looking young neurosurgeon who said she once went into an art gallery in Vancouver and saw a very expensive Robert Bateman limited edition print of a ruffled grouse. It brought back memories of her childhood when she used to wander through the woods with a 16-gauge shotgun, and whenever she saw one she would shoot it, take it home, and fry it up with mushrooms and butter.

She mentioned this to the gallery owner, and was nearly thrown out of the store for animal cruelty. Of course, she grew up as a country girl despite her medical doctorate, and these were city folks, and they didn't understand.

In regards to your question about leeway before cutting people off, I suggest you read "Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose" by Dr.Seuss. I think the message is clear, when you have to save yourself, the parasites are certainly expendable.

I am somewhat concerned about your reaching for the shotgun as your solution to the problem. I know you tried other measures before, but the shotgun seems so unnatural. Of course, raising carrots in rabbit sized grocery store style aisles is not natural either...

I know this has nothing to do with petroleum; instead, classify it under the theme of "beaver power".

Looks like the city of Red Deer, Alberta, has a problem with beavers attacking pet dogs. I kid you not.


As any Canuck will tell you, beavers do have the fighting spirit. They are as passively Canadian as hockey players.

Our fine fury friends must have got wind of the Canadian Department of Defence's announcement yesterday of the purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets to the cool tune of CDN $9 billion.

Wonder if those metal birds are convertible to ethanol or solar power? Don't mess with our tar sands.

Beavers rule!

Largest Beaver Dam Seen From Space

The dam in northern Canada spans 2,800 feet and has likely been under beavers' construction since the mid-1970s.

Possible nerve center of the flat-tailed menace threatening all mankind (or at least Alberta).

Let's see them beavers try to finance something like that after peak oil hits hard.

Note that between their bastion in Wood Buffalo National Park and their strategic base in Red Deer, they have the oil sands surrounded.

They underestimate our drilling technology.

We could drain that sucker in a week if we made a Manhattan-project like effort.

We could drain that sucker in a week if we made a Manhattan-project like effort.

Yeah... then send in the commandos cuz the beavers are on patrol:


Cute, yes, but be afraid, be very afraid.

Or peak trees. Eat a beaver, save a tree.

As far as I'm aware the beavers are destitute already...


the flat-tailed menace threatening all mankind

You have no idea of the size of tree they can cut down, nor the size of dam they can build if you give them the chance. The fact they built a dam in Northern Alberta that you can see from space does not entirely surprise me. They can make major changes in the landscape given enough time. Human beings could take lessons from them.

In order to introduce a fur-bearing animal. beavers were introduced into Patagonia, at the south end of Chile. The result was environmental destruction on a vast scale. See Patagonian forests devastated by furry rodent's depredations for details.

If the beaver gets established on the mainland, there’s nothing to stop it from going all the way to Santiago (the capital).

Beavers. Fear them. Or at least fear for your trees.

Speaking as someone who has canoed on the Red Deer River for many years, I can tell you - keep your dog away from the beavers! They can kill a dog quite easily.

For some reason dogs see a beaver, and they think "Rodent - Chase". NO! Convince your dog that a beaver is a rodent it should not chase. A beaver will lure a dog out into deep water, and drown it if it can.

Other than that, beavers have very big teeth (they chew down trees, after all) and can be very aggressive. I've seen a video of a beaver backing off a black bear. The bear was thinking in terms of a beaver lunch, but it saw those big front teeth and decided, maybe not.

My grandmother once killed an aggressive beaver with a frying pan, but I've never had to deal with a nasty one. Live and let live is my motto.

China's expanding auto production triggers overcapacity concerns

A report from the official news portal of China's eastern Zhejiang Province showed that, based on the production plan of China's 12 major auto manufacturers for the next five years, China's auto production would reach 32.5 million units in 2015, far exceeding the forecast of 22 million units in the blue book of China's automobile industry, which was released earlier this year.

Just as China's real-estate boom is beginning to crash now, the crash in its automobile sector will not be long in coming. In my opinion, China's growth is over for now, and their imports of oil will fall to reflect a falling real GDP.

why would you assume that?
I see no reason not to assume that there is an irresistible impulse towards greater automobile ownership and increases in total vehicle miles traveled in China.
They have built the infrastructure. The highways are there.
They are building much or their economy around a rubber tired distribution system that is delivering a huge bonus to them in terms of powering an industrial dynamo. Many economic virtuous circles going on there, remember Henry Ford. A middle class and a huge industrial base and a growing domestic market.
A mixed capitalist/command economy.
With vast and growing reserves of US debt.
Growth is growth Don, they have been growing at double digits every year and yet you say they will have negative growth from here out.
OK Don.
And $60 oil in six months.
well, I admire your fearlessness in making such bold predictions.
it would be to your credit to be proven right.

China's being dismissed compulsively by many these days. Basically, just bitter wishful thinking. The US real estate bubble did not occur on the background of a growing middle class but on an impoverishing middle class. House construction is not what drives the Chinese GDP growth, unlike the US where real jobs are offshored continuously.

I believe Don is correct---there have been a lot of reverberations from China, declining stock mkt (always a leading indicator), waves of bad news about debt financing fading or "becoming overheated" (either one is fatal); basically an overbuilt office real estate situation with less demand than they had expected.

The price of oil won`t matter because $60 oil implies that importing nations are too poor to buy China`s exports. That is very likely IMO.

China`s boom to bust cycle must needs be shorter than the US one and the one in Japan was also shorter than the US but longer than the Chinese one. Something thermodynamic, some kind of wave generating the next wave (but that one is not as powerful). The first wave is then in turn sustained and prologed by the subsequent waves. Each subsequent wave is shorter than the last. But each time there are more people involved. The cars are most powerful in the first wave, less so subsequently. But in the end all of the waves go flattish......gravity and Mother Nature have the last laugh!

By 'over', do you mean that conventional measures of economic growth, such as GDP, oil consumption, industrial production, will not increase the rest of the year?

Frankly I don't see any evidence what so ever that China is soon entering an economic decline. As being someone one worked on Wall Street for many years, using the stock market as a proxy for where an economy is headed doesn't always work. In 1999, the NASDAQ market, mostly high tech companies, had its best gain ever, which means it did not 'predict' the bust in the high tech area in 2000.

China is not immune to boom and bust.

One of the few things we can be certain of is that double digit growth (in anything) will not persist indefinitely. Thus one of the most certain things we can say about the Chinese boom economy is that it will bust.

Reasonable people can differ about exactly when the bust will happen and how severe it will be. As I've said before on TOD I expect negative real GDP growth in China over the next eighteen months to two years. The exact month when growth will go negative? Hard to say, but my guess is that it will be before the snow flies in the northern hemisphere.

Reasonable people were forecasting the dotcom crash years in advance.

You are likely correct that China's economy will suffer for the current growth in the future, but that future could be delayed longer than one might expect.

That would be an extremely rapid deceleration, almost unheard of before.

Anyway, thanks for making a specific prediction. I hope you will be around to tell us how well your prediction pans out.

Here's one insight. I heard part of that interview, I believe.

One species of ant keeps another species as slaves -- nurtures them from birth as such. They do all of their heavy lifting, and it has evolved to the point where the master species can't feed itself anymore without the slaves.

Link, Link!

Sorry. I was replying to FMagyar's comment above.

One could claim operator error, except that the first reply to the above comment seems to have nothing to do with it. Gotta be BP's fault.

Let's make this conversation go away by flagging, if you would be so kind.

Re: Dan Yergin.

I think he meant to say this:

"This is a landmark event," said Dan Yergin, chairman of HIS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "It means that an infinite resource has become finite."

I think he gets it.