Drumbeat: July 18, 2010

Rethinking the Measure of Growth

Andy Xie, a private economist in Shanghai, has long argued that the 1.3 billion people in China cannot realistically hope to live like Americans.

“That statement is truer than ever,” he said.

Beijing, at least, appears to have gotten the message, if its investments in green technology and public transportation are anything to go by. The Communist Party has also revised the promotion criteria for officials so that environmental conditions are included along with gross domestic product.

But economists like Mr. Xie and Mr. Rao warn that even with greener development, the result may still be the same if the goal remains an American-style standard of living. Asia may instead need to carve out a vastly different vision of prosperity that does not rely on ever-increasing levels of material consumption.

Iraq urges oil companies to honor contracts

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's oil minister urged international oil companies to move swiftly with implementing their newly-awarded contracts in the country, while assuring them Sunday they have the government's full support in dealing with any obstacles.

Hussain al-Shahristani's call reflects the pressure Iraq faces as it struggles to rebuild following the U.S.-led 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Years of sanctions on the country, home to the world's third largest proven reserves of crude, ravaged its oil industry. Looting, sabotage and perennial security woes following the war battered the sector even more and stunted investor interest.

Kuwait could get 24.5-bln-dollar surplus if oil stays above 70 dpb

Oil-exporter Kuwait could get a budget surplus of 7 billion dinars (around 24.5 billion U.S. dollars) in the 2010-2011 fiscal year if crude prices stay above 70 dollars per barrel, the National Bank of Kuwait said in a report Saturday.

The report said the ebbing pessimism about the global economy would keep oil prices remain bullish, as was the case in the past six months, when the prices stayed at an average of 70 dollars.

Amid Tests, BP Sees No Signs of Damage to Well

As the Gulf of Mexico entered a third day free of fresh oil from BP’s blown-out well, the government on Saturday extended a test that has so far shown no signs of damage in the 13,000-foot-deep hole.

Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who commands the spill response, announced Saturday afternoon, 48 hours after the test began, that it would continue for an additional day. “We continue to see success,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, Kent Wells, a senior vice president of BP, said the company was encouraged by the results of the test, which is meant to assess the condition of the well by allowing pressure to build inside it.

U.S. Orders BP to Reopen Gulf Well and Capture Oil After Tests

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc was ordered by U.S. officials to open its sealed Macondo gusher in the Gulf of Mexico and resume capturing the escaping oil after it concludes tests on the well.

BP canvassing investors on possible break up - paper

(Reuters) - Under-fire oil company BP Plc has started canvassing shareholders about a restructuring in the wake of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill which could include a break up of the business, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper, citing unnamed BP insiders, said options included selling the group's refineries and petrol stations, scaling back its U.S. operations and ramping-up in-house engineering instead of outsourcing.

Iraq War Veterans Join Environmentalists in the Oiled Gulf of Mexico

I met Eckstein on a boat among the oiled waterways of southern Louisiana, where we'd come to see a once-hidden cost of crude that had suddenly made itself heartbreakingly visible: the Gulf oil spill. Eckstein, a handful of other Iraq veterans and even some and retired generals were in Louisiana as part of Operation Free, a young advocacy group that has begun pushing a green message not so much on environmental grounds, but on national security ones.

They point out that the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency has put out reports highlighting the danger that a warming world will post to America's security. Climate change is a "threat multiplier," these experts say, because a warmer planet will have more refugees, more instability and more conflict. And the other side of their message is the price of oil addiction. With hostile countries like Iran buoyed by oil revenue, our refusal to move away from cheap crude has us, in the words of former CIA director James Woolsey, "funding both sides of the war on terror." Adds Jonathan Murray, the campaign director for Operation Free and a Marine veteran: "The real cost of gas is not what people pay at the gas station."

After Oil Spills, Hidden Damage Can Last for Years

On the rocky beaches of Alaska, scientists plunged shovels and picks into the ground and dug 6,775 holes, repeatedly striking oil — still pungent and dangerous a dozen years after the Exxon Valdez infamously spilled its cargo.

More than an ocean away, on the Breton coast of France, scientists surveying the damage after another huge oil spill found that disturbances in the food chain persisted for more than a decade.

Hague Writes to Clinton Denying BP Involvement in Lockerbie Bomber Release

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague has written to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying there’s no evidence BP Plc was involved in last year’s decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi.

“There is no evidence that corroborates in any way the allegations of BP involvement in the Scottish Executive’s decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009,” Hague wrote yesterday in a letter released by the U.K. Foreign Office. “Nor any suggestion that the Scottish Executive decided to release Megrahi in order to facilitate oil deals for BP.”

Electric car prep begins

SALISBURY -- Hey drivers, get ready to rev your engines to a gentle whisper. Electric cars from Chevrolet and Nissan are expected to arrive in select U.S. markets later this year.

Maryland has invested $1 million of stimulus money in public charging and truck electrification stations, which will be clustered around Baltimore and the I-95 corridor. To help spur sales, the state will give a $2,000 excise tax credit to buyers of the battery-powered vehicles through 2013. That comes on top of a federal tax break of up to $7,500 for some electric vehicles.

U.S. House Committee Said to Consider Reducing Ethanol Subsidy by 20%

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has proposed reducing the tax credit that helps support the ethanol industry by 20 percent to cut spending, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Refiners and blenders would receive 36 cents for every gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline from the 45 cents they currently pocket, said the people, who declined to be identified because the proposal hasn’t been made public. The tax credit expires this year and the committee is proposing to extend it an additional year.

U.S. Military Vaults into Clean Energy Future Despite Fossil Fuel Lobby

There they go again: right when the U.S. military completes yet another project to reduce CO2 emissions, the fossil fuel industry plays Debbie Downer. This week’s matchup involved our own U.S. Air Force, which has just announced its latest solar power installation with cheery pride, versus an industry group called “CO2 is Green,” which has just launched a new campaign proclaiming that more C02 is good because “it supports all plant life.” Hey, whose corner should we be in?

China Wind Power Priorities Offers Europe Opportunities, Oxford Study Says

China’s changing priorities for wind power are creating opportunities for European companies as the world’s biggest polluter seeks to boost wind-park efficiency, a study by researchers at Oxford University said.

One Bride for 2 Brothers: A Custom Fades in India

People here survived off small farms hewed from the mountainsides at an altitude of 11,000 feet, and dividing property among several sons would leave each with too little land to feed a family.

...The practice also acted as a form of birth control. Five brothers with a wife each could easily produce dozens of children. But polyandrous families seldom had more than six or seven children.

To the Mat on Global Warming

“The Climate War” focuses mainly on the economic and political aspects of the global-warming issue. That is in keeping with Mr. Pooley’s areas of journalistic expertise. He is the deputy editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, a former managing editor of Fortune and a former national editor, chief political correspondent and White House correspondent for Time.

Mr. Pooley calls his account “an epic without an ending,” saying that the American political system gives a “natural advantage to the opponents of climate action” and that Congress has “become so distorted by special-interest dollars and partisan bile” that it seems “to block progress of any kind, no matter how urgent.”

10 ways vegetarianism can help save the planet

The average British carnivore eats more than 11,000 animals in their lifetime, each requiring vast amounts of land, fuel and water to reach the plate. It's time to think of waste as well as taste.

Ranchers and Drug Barons Threaten Rain Forest

EL MIRADOR, Guatemala — Great sweeps of Guatemalan rain forest, once the cradle of one of the world’s great civilizations, are being razed to clear land for cattle-ranching drug barons.

Other parts of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Central America’s largest protected area, have been burned down by small cities of squatters.

Looters and poachers, kept at bay when guerrilla armies roamed the region during the country’s 36-year civil war, ply their trades freely.

Singapore could be in “deep” trouble by the end of this century, warn experts

The experts at Delft Hydraulics have warned that, if the ice caps melt significantly as a result of fossil-fuel linked Global Warming, waters could rise up to 6 metres by the end of this century, which would spell trouble for Singapore and many other coastal cities.

How Global Climate Change May Affect Violence

(NNPA) - If global warming is a scientific fact, then we'd better be prepared for the earth to become a more violent place. That according to a recent Iowa State University study that shows as the earth's average temperature rises, so too does violent tendencies in humans.

Waste Britain: UK's emissions could be cut at flick of a switch

Simple measures such as turning electrical appliances off at the mains and installing energy-efficient lightbulbs could slash the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by about 40 megatonnes a year, or up to one third, according to new research which says that cutting electricity consumption is up to 60 per cent more effective than previously thought. Such basic lifestyle changes would be the equivalent of removing about 10 large gas-fired power stations from operation.

Scaled-Back Carbon Emission Plan's Prospects Slim, Senator Harkin Says

Scaling back legislation to cap carbon dioxide from power plants rather than most of the U.S. economy might not win enough votes for a new greenhouse gas law to pass the Senate this year, two senators said.

“I don’t think that’s going to fly,” Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said yesterday of the plan for cutting power- plant carbon dioxide that may be included in an energy bill to be debated later this month.

Hydro should share power: report
Ontario's peak demand is in summer Environment groups also call on Quebec to boost energy-efficiency incentives

MONTREAL - Hydro-Quebec is heading for lower profits and higher electricity rates unless it invests significantly in energy efficiency incentive programs and enters into a power-exchange deal with Ontario, according to a report released today by two environment groups.

Because demand for electricity peaks in Quebec in cold winter months, while demand in Ontario peaks in summer due to heavy use of air conditioning in that province, Quebec has surplus generating capacity in summer and Ontario has surplus generating capacity in winter.

"By more closely co-ordinating the two province's power systems, Hydro-Quebec's need to build new high-cost hydroelectric generating capacity to meet its winter peak demands will be reduced," according to the report produced jointly by Montreal-based Equiterre and Toronto-based Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

"Similarly, Ontario's need to build new high-cost natural-gas-fired power plants to provide peak power on hot summer days will also be reduced."

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Hydro+should+share+power+repor...

Best hopes for greater cooperation and more effective pooling of resources.


and more effective pooling of resources.

Pun, not intended, I presume >;^)

Hi Fred,

Well, given that Hydro-Québec has flooded half the province, it does seem a poor choice of words.


Hi Paul,

Sure could use a boost in power from HQ and a few extra units of A/C. Refrigerated cold drinks are really nice right now.

Another day of temperatures in the 30s C with 50% humidity. Sauna weather, even my glasses steam up.

Calling for thunder storms over night with another scorcher lined up for tomorrow and the next day.

Upside, of course, is that the garden is growing great (all except the peas), particularly after the rain and high humidity last week.

Spending as much time as humanly possible in the basement to keep cool.

Here's to ice tea and frequent baths,


Hi Tom,

We peaked earlier today at 29°C with a humidex of 38°C -- now down to 27°C and 34°C, so some relief but still uncomfortable. I've held off turning on the a/c so far this year but tomorrow looks to be another test of will and my resolve is weakening (there's also spousal factor to consider).

I was thinking the other day of how air conditioning isolates us from the world around us. Take a look at this clip and I think you'll see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl0yPuI7EVs

[BTW, I had read that it was so hot on this sound stage that the fire sprinklers activated during the filming of one of the scenes.]


Thank you Paul,

Clip brought back very fond memories. Jimmy Stewart is a class act and Grace Kelly, well, she is simply graceful. Hitchcock proved himself to be the master of suspense in this film.

A/c was a rarity in the 1950s and so heat waves quite literally brought out the neighbourhood. Nobody had privacy when temperatures soared and nobody cared.

My car is fully equipped: if you want to cool down all you need to do is speed up and roll down the window. When stuck in traffic on a hot day, you sure know who has a/c and who doesn't. Either the windows are fully up or the windows are fully down.

Paul, I hadn't noticed before how much a/c really does isolate us from the outside world.

For sane family relations, I would suggest you use it at home over the next couple of days. Or be prepared to bunker down in the basement.

Btw, I visited over the weekend at a newly built house - well insulated with an operational heat pump system. Turned out to be a very comfortable spot on a very warm day.

Stay cool, my friend,


Next month I'm moving into an apartment with no air conditioning. I think I'll be all right, becasus it is a basement apartment in a three story structure and hence about fifteen degrees cooler than the higher floors. The building was built in the 1920s, long before air conditioning.


Basement flats are great. My first apartment was one. Got it b/c it was cheap. Never a worry about being too warm in the summer.

Rarely saw the sun, too, particularly in winter.

It served my purposes just fine.

Enjoy your new abode.



Thank you. My apartment has a southern exposure and should get lots of sunlight in the winter.

Technology, dividing as it tries to unite..

'Every automation is an amputation' - Marshall Macluhan (IIRC)


Sounds like the ultimate paradox doesn't it? Technology dividing as it tries to unite.

You really see that these days. We have an upcoming generation that is almost always and constantly connected but who are oblivious to anyone next to them.

Even the Internet segments: it fosters linkages between and among people of similar interests, but divides us into specialized compartments.

Ever more connected, ever more fragmented.

Go figure!


Thanks, Tom; you too. Pillows and sheets have made their way to the lower level, the dehumidifier has been unplugged, the a/c is on and domestic harmony has been restored.

Addendum: Tom, looks like Hydro-Québec won't be powering just air conditioners...

A new era in sustainable mobility began real-world tests in Quebec, as Toyota Canada delivered a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (Prius PHV) to its Quebec provincial partners at a ceremony on July 14th, 2010.

See: http://www.examiner.com/x-34851-Montreal-Public-Policy-Examiner~y2010m7d...


Great news. The electrification of Canada seems to be making headway. Yippee!

Canada has been selected as one of the participating countries for Toyota’s global test of the Prius PHV. Five Prius PHV vehicles hit the roads this summer with 15 trial partners in 4 provinces in the first phase of a nationwide trial, including Quebec. This enables Toyota Canada to conduct technical and market acceptance tests unique to Canada’s driving experiences and climatic conditions.

The real test, of course, comes in the winter. If batteries have limitations in mild temperatures, they are downright temperamental in the deep freeze. If technology can be honed and improved to the point where hybrids can function at -30 C or below, then the day is closer when our transportation can be energized somewhat or mostly by the hydro-grid.

As mentioned before, my dream would be to see the day when this country could power itself mainly by renewable sources of spark while reserving tar sand and other petroleum processing for export.

I think it's doable.

On that pleasant thought, my last bath for today awaits me. Then it's off to dream land.

Glad domestic calm has been restored at your house.



We peaked earlier today at 29°C with a humidex of 38°C

Just had the 4th straight day of 39C. I knew I lived in a bad microclimate, but this is ridiculous. Left Stockton shortly after noon, and the car thermo read 81F. This is only 25miles away, and the drive is oceanward, so you might expect cooling. The thermometer steadily climbed to 100F as I reached home.

The evaporative cooler, seems to save me about 4-5KWhr/day of AC (I have a fit of daily power consumption versus temperature from last year, and this seems to be a typical "savings" wrt last summer). Needless to say, the net meter is accumulating charges, this summer we've had two weather states, the good one with strong seabreezes highs are roughly 90F. Then when they fail it is 100 plus or minus a few. My plot of the net meter versus time looks like climbing stairsteps.

Here's to some kind of relief in Chippewa Falls. At 100 F you're lucky you reached home.

Humidity or no humidity, that's hot.

E., stay as cool as you can.

That's damn miserable, EoS; hopefully, there's some relief is in sight. Be careful and take care of yourself.


Cars at Curbside, Available to Share

In a city blessed with every variety of public transportation, car traffic is awful and parking is even worse. Yet some people still insist, against all logic, on owning a car. That may sound familiar, but the city in question is not New York; it’s Hoboken, N.J., just a short swim to the west — the land of “restaurants, bars and double-parked cars.” To ease that congestion, the city has initiated a bold new experiment: It has scattered a few dozen stylish new cars around town, and left them there for residents to share. Anyone who needs a set of wheels can more or less help himself.
Connect by Hertz, which offered the winning bid to run the program, charges drivers $5 to $16 an hour to use the cars (plus 7 percent sales tax and a $5 New Jersey “domestic security fee”; gas is included). But it charges Hoboken nothing. In fact, it pays the city for the opportunity.
Corner Cars, the brainchild of Ian Sacs, Hoboken’s enthusiastic director of parking and transportation, is only a few weeks old, with just a couple of hundred users so far. It’s too soon to measure any impact. But in other communities, studies have shown that for every car that can be rented by the hour, 6 to 20 drivers have liked the experience so much, they’ve given up the car they owned. Across the country there is even a growing market in peer-to-peer car sharing — informal networks of car owners and car needers with no corporation to mediate.


Once again we Europeans have beaten the Americans to it... and by many years!


This is my local car-share scheme in Brighton, UK. An outstanding service and takes all the stress - and expense - out of driving.

We have had car sharing services for years here in the US as well. What's different is that the city is sponsoring it.

What's different is that the city is sponsoring it.

What you mean is 'the City's tax payers are subsidizing it' ;)

Our 'scheme' is a purely 'for profit' company, albeit the local Councils do provide space for the cars and thus passively promote it. For these sort of ideas to work and be 'sustained' they must be 100% fully privately funded and profitable, imho.

I guess also that while here in the UK our cities and towns are much more compact than most in North America our journeys are much shorter so perhaps the turnover of cars is greater and hence more profitable, maybe...

What you mean is 'the City's tax payers are subsidizing it' ;)

No, the city isn't paying anything. Didn't you read the article? The city is actually getting paid. They put it up for bid, and a rental car company paid for the rights to provide the cars.

We also have several commercial car services (such as ZipCar), that work pretty much like your car club does.

From the story linked up top:
Iraq War Veterans Join Environmentalists in the Oiled Gulf of Mexico

" Adds Jonathan Murray, the campaign director for Operation Free and a Marine veteran: "The real cost of gas is not what people pay at the gas station."

Any chance we could get some economists out on those boats in Gulf and along the oil soaked marshes?!
Perhaps we could get Jonathan Murray to teach them a little boot camp style reality based economics...

Please stop beating up on economists with regard to pricing of gasoline. For at least fifty years there has been a strong consensus among U.S. economists that we need a stiff gasoline tax to internalize the negative externalities of consuming gasoline (and diesel). In European countries the politicians listened to their economists and tax gasoline at the rate of a few dollars a gallon. U.S. politicians dare not advocate a rise in the gasoline tax; thus, the failure is 100% political and has nothing to do with the discourse or advice of economists.

U.S. politicians dare not advocate a rise in the gasoline tax;

yeah, that would be like advocating abstinence at a drunken orgy.

Don Sailorman wrote: "Please stop beating up on economists with regard to pricing of gasoline. For at least fifty years there has been a strong consensus among U.S. economists that we need a stiff gasoline tax .."

What a shame this "strong consensus" has been outweighed by other, stronger consensuses advocating that we /not/ implement a stiff gasoline tax, or that we implement qualitative easing, wage useless expensive wars in the ME, and bail out the richest banks.

Please explain qualitative easing;-)

Please explain qualitative easing;-)

Let me give it a whirl. You apply liberal quantities of high quality petroleum jelly lubricant to the penetrating shaft, then ease it gently into the orifice, before ramming it hard, the rest of the way to the bottom of hole... Rinse and repeat.

Due to Peak Oil petroleum jelly will become too expensive--use KY lubricant instead.

Here is how you can remember tight and loose monetary policy; it is just like tight and loose women. Tight money (and tight women) are valuable but scarce. Loose money is easily available, as are loose women, but they are lower quality and hence less desirable. (I wanted to put this saying in my textbook, but the editor censored it.)

Please stop beating up on economists with regard to pricing of gasoline

And when someone shows up here and says they are an economist who then talks about gasoline - is it OK to break out the clue by fours?

How about if people invoke the arguments that economists use when talking about gasoline?


As I'm sure you already know, few are aware of what economists have been saying about the desirability of a stiff tax on gasoline. The politicians condemn such a tax as regressive (which it need not be), but the main thing pols want is to be re-elected.

For an incumbent to be re-elected, few things help as much as low gasoline prices, while few things hurt as much as high and rising gasoline prices.

Politics rules. Economists give advice--much of it good advice--but it is the lawyer-educated politicians who make policy and pass tax laws. When you think like a lawyer you think in terms of winning cases and winning arguments. In the U.S. the political pundits and elected officials publicly detest gasoline taxes.

The advocacy of a stiff tax on gasoline by economists has been around for a long, long time, but The Powers That Be ignore this advice. At least they ignore it in the U.S.; in many other countries economists get more respect than they do in the U.S., and the agreement on the desirability of a stiff tax on gasoline not only goes back at least half a century, it is also understood and advocated by economists of all countries, though I imagine the Saudi economists are discreet on this topic.

They certainly were not supportive of a tax reduction:

Don, you're dealing with an evangelist. Besides, he already knows you're wrong. After all, he read it Scientific American, so it must be true.

Don, you're dealing with an evangelist.

LOL! Jolly good one sir!

Doesn't that mean I'm supposed to be tax exempt or something? How do I apply?

BTW, I actually think Don is often right. As for Scientific American I no longer subscribe and If I find something that is true, even if it is in the Bible, I'll mention it, despite being an atheist..

Please stop beating up on economists with regard to pricing of gasoline. For at least fifty years there has been a strong consensus among U.S. economists that we need a stiff gasoline tax to internalize the negative externalities of consuming gasoline (and diesel).

Actually with regards that point, I did a little checking and it seems you are correct. However rubbing most economist's noses in the realities of the Gulf Oil spill might bring the reality of the cost of externalities in general a bit closer to home. I can't hurt.

As for the politicians I wouldn't put them on the same boat with the economists, I drag them through the oily waves hanging onto the booms!

Some years ago, when I was teaching at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, an oil pipeline blew about a hundred yards from my office. A lake of oil formed, called Lake Wannigan, after the name of a nearby dormitory, and the stench was horriffic. It was Canadian crude, and the sulphur level was high. We had to shut the campus down, the stench was so toxic.

Economists know all about negative externalities. They also know what to do about negative externalities, but the politicians seldom follow the economists' advice in this regard.

Hypothetically speaking, if NO solutions are found to tackle Global Warming, we’d be looking at carbon PPM levels of 450-660 by year 2050 (presently at 380-400). That would translate into an approximate 6 degree rise in Global Temperature and the meltdown of all polar ice caps sometime around year 2030 to 2035.

6 degree increase?! Meltdown of all polar ice caps by 2030-2035?! And to think there is a large segment of the population that is willing to gamble that it's just a hoax by Scientists. Hmm, that seems like a very risky conclusion to have reached.

A 6 meter rise in sea level by 2100? That's roughly what melting the ice over Greenland would produce. Maybe Singapore should change it's name to New Holland...:<(

E. Swanson

And to think there is a large segment of the population that is willing to gamble that it's just a hoax by Scientists.

And yet the efforts to actually DO something are only 10% effective. For every $1 spent being effective, $1 goes to the bankers who financed the deal.

From where I sit, the bankers are holding the world hostage - if you don't pay us the world burns. Guess what? I'm for letting it burn as they get to burn with it.

At the point where the spending is 80% (or better) effective, then I'll believe man wants to do something VS some from of extortion.

Which article are you quoting?

Anyway, it sounds silly. Some people just are too willing to let their imagination run away with themselves.

I mistyped the 10% - its 30%.

The other ratio is still correct.

Anyway, it sounds silly.

I've been citing the report from the beginning of April on TOD and you are the 1st to be handwaving dismissive.

Are you wanting the actual link to the study?

6 degree increase?! Meltdown of all polar ice caps by 2030-2035?!

Those statements are a bit over the top, i.e. well beyond the main part of the probability distribution of actual climate scientsts. On our current political trajectory we will probably get there, but it will take a lot longer.

There is a lot of conflation of sea-ice and glacial ice. Summer Northern Hemisphere sea ice, might be gone in that time frame, the ice caps in Greenland are a couple of kilometers thick, they won't dissappear in less than several hundred years. The situation is indeed dire, but unsupported exaggerations make great fodder for the denialist brigade.

Thanks for bringing us back to the real world.

AGW is indeed quite serious, but it looks like some people are just too impatient when it comes to the effects.

it looks like some people are just too impatient when it comes to the effects.

I wish the godess GAIA would get impatient and demonstrate to us the folly of our ways! Instead she will just do her usual chaotic but slow change thing. Allowing us frogs to not notice until too late.

we will soon get a very clear message with regard to how corrupt our politics has become. No extension of unemployment insurance for fear that it would boost the deficit but lets continue the ethanol subsidy even though oil companies are forced to under the RFS to blend ethanol.

Really? The ethanol subsidy is how "the citizens" will come 'round to thinking "hey - the government thing has a bunch of corruption!"?

The 1st tax and rebellion in the US of A was over ethanol - look at how that turned out.

One should not confuse whiskey and Everclear. The former is worth rebelling about while the later is not.

I suspect the "whiskey" that the rebellion was about resembled Everclear more than it did Jack Daniels or any bourbon or sour mash you care to name. Applejack was also very popular as a cash crop back in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some brandies were also made from various fruits. Rum was a huge industry more than two hundred years ago; it was a major part of the Rhode Island economy.

And yet that rebellion "went no where" - just like thinking that the ethanol subsidy will be the camel that breaks the straw back of corruption.

No extension of unemployment insurance for fear that it would boost the deficit but lets continue the ethanol subsidy even though oil companies are forced to under the RFS to blend ethanol.

This is the argument I have been making for 3 years now, and it is gaining momentum. POET this week came out and called for phasing out the credit. Their fellow lobbying organizations didn't much like it:


POET explained their views in answer to a video question I submitted:


I have written a new Forbes essay that should publish this week, and I actually used an unemployment analogy to illustrate:

The groups arguing to keep the VEETC in place are sort of like someone who has collected unemployment insurance for years, but after they found a nice job they want to keep the unemployment insurance payments flowing. I am sure that would be a nice arrangement for the lobbyists at NCGA and RFA - get your mandate and keep the tax credits - but it does not serve taxpayers well.

Ethanol subsidies benefit corn farmers. Corn farmers have more political clout than do the long-term unemployed. Hence, I think ethanol subsidies will persist, and that the long-term unemployed will have to make do with food stamps, Medicaid, and rent subsidies.

Politics rules. Economists merely give advice.

"the long-term unemployed will have to make do with food stamps, Medicaid, and rent subsidies"

If folks are denied benefits from SOME governmental body, where are they going to get the food stamps, Medicaid, and rent subsidies?

Ordinary welfare does not cover just anybody, you know.

Being denied unemployment benefits is often prerequisite to successful application for benefits from other government programs. Unemployment benefits may add up to too much income to be eligible for Medicare, for example. And the lower your income is the more you can collect in food stamps (actually a plastic card like a debit card). I do not assert that there is an effective social safety net, but it is certainly true that various income redistribution schemes such as rent subsidies are not going away.

Also, as unemployment persists and the 2012 Presidential election approaches, I think there will be very strong political pressures to extend unemployment benefits to deal with the expanding problem of the long-term unemployed. We might even get some more government money for re-training and relocation programs--hard to say at this point. In any case, I do expect multitrillion dollar deficits for the U.S. government over the next three years.

Politics rules. Economists merely give advice.

And I'm still waiting for someone who claims to be an economist to state what the actual economic model the US of A is operating under. It's not Keynesian. Nor Austrian. What is it?

slavery ?

The U.S. is a mixed economy--a mixture of market and command elements. It is also fair to characterize our economy as welfare-capitialist, because of transfers of income by government.

Ben Bernanke gets all Keynesian on us
Bernanke is no Keynesian
Bernanke and the Return of Keynes

ok...what about
Is Ben Bernanke a Monetarist? | Samizdata.net
The Collapse of Monetarism and the Irrelevance of the New Monetary ...

I can't find a statement like Nixon/Freidman "We are all Keynesians now" from anyone "in charge" of either The State or The money supply. Anyone got one that is current?

Re: Rethinking the Measure of Growth, up top:

There seems to be some disconnect about rethinking growth and what is actually going on in Asia and China in particular.

If you are hoping that the Chinese bubble will burst in no time, putting China back on bicycles, then this story is not for you. If you are worried about little people in Asia using up all the precious hydrocarbons we use need for our bigger cars, then we must warn you that reading further could be hazardous to your circulatory system. You have been warned.


And Re: Electric car prep begins, up top:

What Toyota Sees in Tesla

Chairman Akio Toyoda told reporters in a round table session last week. “Tesla’s battery should fail, but it doesn’t,” Hall says. “Toyota wants to understand why it hasn’t failed.”


As is common with any group or publication that proclaims they're telling you the "real twoof", thetruthaboutcars conveniently doesn't mention things that don't support its case. They try and make the suggestion that the Chinese ability to buy and run cars should be comparable to the US because Chinese poverty rates are below US poverty rates, conveniently neglecting to mention the following issue, pointed out on the CIA factbook webpages (even if you consider the CIA to be an accurate intelligence gatherer)

Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.

The first definition of poverty level I could find used in the US is

As of 1999, the threshold for poverty for a family of four was an annual income of $17,029. The poverty threshold varies by size and "number of related children" from $8,501 for one person to $34,417 for a family of 9 or more

source: http://perspicuity.net/civics/poverty.html

In contrast, if the CIA uses China's own definition, this is apparently even lower than the World Bank definition

The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) recently released China's National Development Report for 2007. The report points out that the population of poor in China's rural areas may be largely underestimated based upon China's official poverty line of annual 680 yuan ($91) per capita net income.

The internationally accepted standard definition of a poor person is one whose daily income is one US dollar or less. In terms of Chinese yuan (renminbi), those who earn 2,500 yuan (US$333) or less annually in China should be categorized as poor. However, the poverty line set by Chinese authorities is approximately one-fourth the standard set by the international standard.

source: http://en.epochtimes.com/news/7-10-5/60453.html

Now, that's not to say that by pure numbers, the affluent members of Chinese society buying cars won't be a problem even with the reduced proportion of the population, but I would rather use a different publication than one designed to give readers without critical thinking the message they want to hear, regardless of it's accuracy.

The author has such a splendid and humanistic point of view of the Chinese people doesn't he? I think it is a slip of the tongue, and the entire article doesn't suggest this view. However, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth.

If you are worried about little people in Asia using up all the precious hydrocarbons we use for our bigger cars, then we must warn you that reading further could be hazardous to your circulatory system. You have been warned.

reading further could be hazardous to your circulatory system. You have been warned.


I love it when people are so brutally honest, but use a clever turn of phrase.

Greetings. I am working on an academic paper that covers, in part, how Matt Simmons' controversial theories about the oil spill have been received at large, and I would be grateful if someone could point me to places where this was discussed and debated on TOD.

Thanks for your help.

BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Matt Simmons on Dylan Ratigan Today, Closing the Relief Ports, and Open Thread 2
Posted by Prof. Goose on June 7, 2010 - 7:44pm

Simmons's controversial remarks have provoked a great many (more than a hundred?) comments on TOD over recent weeks. Go back at least four weeks to get the beginning of dialogues on this topic--not only in the threads devoted to the spill but also in the Drumbeats.

My own feeling is one of sorrow at a once great man going senile.

It always amuses me when there's someone they once agreed with and now don't, people automatically pick the option that "He was great [when he agreed with my position], now he's lost it/going senile [he no longer agrees with my position]".

Tackling the general issue, not Simmons in particular, logically there are other possibilities:

1. He was always saying wrong things, and I was wrong in the past when I agreed with him.

2. In the past, he happened to reach the "right" conclusions from wrong analysis and now he's reaching the "wrong" conclusion from wrong analysis.

3. He's "right" now and my current view is wrong.

I gather in the case of Simmons' second leak theory case 3 is ruled out pretty conclusively by lack of supporting observations, but people always prefer the explanation more flattering to themselves than to even consider 1 or 2 (or 3 when viable).

I do not rejoice in Simmons' senility. I weep over it. Please God, kill me before my brains go.

At a 90th birthday party last year, I heard a 95 year year give a younger lass a generous blessing:

"My prayer for you is that your mind and heart will give out at the same time."

I said to myself, wow! That's pretty much what we all wish for.

Btw, both these 90+ ladies are sharp as tacks. I suspect they always will be.

The good news is that not everybody goes senile.

My grandmother was sharp as a bell until the day she died aged 100.

My father in law died recently, aged 83. In the last weeks he didn't recognise his own daughter. With hindsight, he had lost the ability to think clearly at least 10 years previously. Having been previously the brains and arbiter of his family, this caused no end of grief, as he said yes to everybody individually and forgot what he had said within days or minutes.

Another possibility is that Simmons is in part right, oil is still leaking, but he has lost the ability to keep things in perspective.

There is a fourth possibility.

4. Simmons is sometimes right for the right reasons and sometimes wrong for the wrong reasons.

Just b/c you are a specialist doesn't mean you won't ever screw up. The best in any field are sometimes off their mark, particularly when dealing with an unprecedented set of variables.

Just b/c someone called it wrong today doesn't mean they've always called it wrong.

The Simmons who has been on TV during the past few weeks is not the man of two years ago. The cruelty of the media in expoiting the senile is a huge crime.

I may die tomororrow, no great matter. But God (who I have some beefs with) preserve me from senility.

Looks like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Tehran government may have found some wiggle room around the sanctions. How does one run a U.N. imposed blockade? Easy, just register your ships on the Isle of Man.

Israel's not too happy, but the Manx are basically telling them to get stuffed.

Manx chief Minister Mr Brown said Israel should raise the matter with the UN.

But this attitude has been sharply criticised by Israeli official, Ran Gidor, a political adviser at its embassy in London.

"Even assuming the resident in the Isle of Man had no clear knowledge of the contents of the ship the very fact he chose to get involved with shipping traffic going in and out of Iran would expose him or risk.

"We think the word should spread IRISL and its straw companies and subsidiaries are untouchables. You may think you know what you are getting involved in but you don't really"

In a statement to the BBC, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in regards to sanctions: "The issue is a matter for the Isle of Man government."

Yesterday on TOD posts there were mixed messages about Iranian - Russian relations. First, we heard that Iran and Russia are to establish a joint oil bank . Then, at the same time, we read that Iran threatens to blacklist foreign oil firms including the Russian oil giant, Lukoil.

Russia and China are being coy about their intentions, but I suspect a lot of cargo is finding its way surreptitiously through loop-holes and clandestine back doors.

This is the stuff of old fashioned cold war intrigue - right out of the pages of a John le Carré spy novel.

We be singing along to tunes like 99luft Balons all over again. Boy, how I miss the pop music from the 1980s.

RE: up top post Rethinking the Measure of Growth.

In thinking through some of the ramifications it occurs to me that this is A) a good development, and B) won't work unless...

It would be wonderful if the Chinese and other developing nations recognized the fundamental flaw in the American and OECD style of living and believing in growth of GDP. But the desire for material goods and lifestyles as seen on TV from the west will not abate just because some smart economists and a few government agents 'get it' and promote finding a different, sustainable definition of success in living. Even now Chinese laborers are protesting for higher wages, presumably in order to buy more stuff. The Chinese government, in spite of being dictatorial still ultimately depends on the good will of the people for legitimacy.

It might work if people in the OECD countries were to similarly recognize the folly of their ways and renounce materialism as practiced in a consumerist society and promise to meet the developing world somewhere in the middle in terms of energy and material consumption (on a per capita basis). Now, what are the chances of that happening. China may take the lead in setting the agenda straight, but the US has to take the lead in taking action to work toward that agenda. And by now we all know the mind set of the average American.

Question Everything

how much condensate is in place in ghawar permian khuff ? we don’t know.

let us start with the khuff reservoir in s pars/n dome in iran/qatar.

wiki claims 1800 tcf gas with 50 gb condensate in place.


see also:

Khuff Gas Condensate Development


wiki also states that s pars/n dome covers an area of 9700 km^2. ghawar(arab d) covers 8400 m^2(280 km x 30 km). if we use a simple proportion, 8400/9700, this would suggest 43 gb condensate potentially in place at ghawar.

the area of khuff at ghawar, the net thickness,porosity and pressure could be more or less than s pars/ n dome, but that is a starting point.

condensate yield at s pars/ n dome is about 28 bc/mmscf. this source puts condensate yield for ghawar khuff from 100 bc/mmscf to 250bc/mmscf.

Modeling a Rich Gas Condensate Reservoir with Composition Grading and Faults


one well in the hawiyah area yielded 160 bc/mmscf, condensate in place at ghawar khuff could easily be 256 gb.

some on here have expressed skepticism that gas cycling if feasible. I have included some light reading for a monday morning eye opener that may convince some of the skeptics.

Assessing Producibility of a Region's Gas/Condensate Reservoirs

Effect of Gas Recycling on the Enhancement of Condensate Recovery, Case Study: Hassi R’Mel South Field, Algeria

An Investigation on Gas Injection for Storing Gas and Increasing Well Productivity in one of Iranian Gas Fields

Condensate Recovery by Cycling at Declining Pressure

Revaporization of Condensate with Methane Flood

Feasibility Study Of Substituting Nitrogen For Hydrocarbon In A Gas Recycle Condensate Reservoir