Drumbeat: August 1, 2010

Renewable resources becoming a real alternative

Abu Dhabi’s first major solar power project, a field of panels at the edge of the capital, cost US$50 million (Dh183.6m) to build in late 2008. If the investment had been made 18 months later, the bill might have been up to 40 per cent less, according to solar price indexes.

So it goes in the renewable-energy industry, where the tens of billions of dollars of investment coursing through the sector and government policy changes can transform economic calculations overnight.

In the case of solar energy, new production capacity for raw materials and panels flooded the market at the end of 2008, just as the economic crisis broke. The result was that prices for solar power systems fell as much as half by the following year, threatening some producers with bankruptcy but making the technology more competitive with cheaper fossil fuels.

Iraq delays gas bidding round to Oct 1 - officials

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iraq has pushed back by a month the date of an auction for international firms that want to develop three of its gas fields, company executives said on Sunday.

BP studies latest Iran sanctions

BP is studying the latest US and EU sanctions against Iran to determine whether they have further ramifications for the oil company.

A potential problem for BP, which stopped selling petrol to Iran in 2008, is its involvement in two gas ventures, off the coasts of Azerbaijan and Scotland, in which units of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) are partners.

Administration: Company knew of issues with Mich. oil pipeline

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Saturday it repeatedly warned Enbridge Energy Partners about safety issues along its Lakehead oil pipeline system that runs through Michigan, even calling company officials to Washington earlier this year for a meeting on what it deemed "a series of major failures."

Some of those concerns specifically involved Line 6B running from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, a section of which apparently ruptured last week, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.

An oily question: Did Enbridge respond to Kalamazoo River oil spill as quickly as it could?

BATTLE CREEK — Nearly a week after one of the largest oil spills in Midwest history, questions remain about exactly when the crude started spewing into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.

Call logs from Marshall-area fire departments that were obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette show that residents were reporting a bad smell nearly 12 hours before federal records say the oil spill was officially discovered.

Oil Spill Creates Hard Choices for the E.U.

BRUSSELS — The seemingly limitless amounts of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year left many Americans feeling powerless over the colossal spill.

To make matters worse, President Barack Obama had to wait — and then wait some more — before the company responsible for the spill, BP, finally devised a way to stanch the leak.

The spectacle also made uncomfortable viewing for leaders in the European Union, where there are also serious concerns about the ability of regulators to assert their authority over the oil and gas industry.

Prospect of pumping oil from Beaufort back in deep freeze

OTTAWA — Last summer, before “Deepwater Horizon” became shorthand for the worst oil spill in American history, two members of an Inuit wildlife-protection agency flew from the Canadian Arctic to the Houston headquarters of Cameron, one of the world’s leading developers of offshore-drilling technology.

The purpose of their corporate-funded trip was to check out the Alternative Well Kill System (AWKS), a blowout-prevention system being developed by Cameron along with Chevron, the California-based energy giant. In Chevron’s view, the AWKS would go a long way toward overcoming the daunting technical challenges of drilling in the Beaufort Sea.

BP Will Begin Permanent Plug of Macondo Well in Gulf of Mexico This Week

BP Plc plans to start injecting mud down the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico to permanently plug the source of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

BP is now preparing to install casing in the relief well, to reinforce it before mud is injected from a surface vessel into a pipe and down the neighboring Macondo well. The process, a so-called static kill, will start tomorrow or on Aug. 3, Kent Wells, BP senior vice president for exploration and production, told reporters on July 30.

Congressman: Too much dispersant used in oil spill

WASHINGTON (AP) — As BP inched closer to permanently sealing the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, congressional investigators railed the company and Coast Guard for part of the cleanup effort, saying too much toxic chemical dispersant was used.

Gulf oil spill released toxic, tough-to-track chemicals

Out of sight, out of mind?

With surface oil slicks fading from view in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of the capped Macondo well, we'd be out of our minds to think that the oil still isn't there, warn forensic toxicologists.

BP Puts Vietnam, Pakistan Assets Up for Sale to Raise Cash for Oil Spill

BP Plc, seeking cash to help pay for the worst-ever U.S. oil spill, informed the governments of Vietnam and Pakistan that it put its production assets in the countries up for sale.

Jones Act not a hindrance to Gulf oil cleanup

The tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico requires an unprecedented cleanup effort to protect the environment and natural resources that are tied to the economy of the Gulf region. It is critical that this effort moves forward as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Unfortunately, there has been false criticism that is distracting from the cleanup. In particular, there have been incorrect accusations that the Jones Act is hindering the ability to get foreign skimmers in the region.

BP's New Strategy Includes Humility

In announcing a new CEO, BP also appears to have unveiled a new strategy for talking to the world about the company and its response to the oil spill. It includes a strong dose of modesty that few people saw in Tony Hayward. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

Despite anger over BP spill, changes may be limited in Washington

WASHINGTON -- As the Gulf of Mexico focuses on cleaning up the mess left by the BP oil spill, the question facing the nation's capital is: Will Washington clean up its act, too?

Congress is considering stricter regulation of oil exploration, and the Obama administration has pledged to overhaul the disgraced federal agency that oversees oil drilling.

Already, however, some of the toughest proposals are facing stiff opposition from Republicans and some Gulf Coast Democrats whose constituents rely on the oil industry for jobs.

Minister says private sector will build nuclear plants

New nuclear plants will be built in the UK as part of the move towards a green economy, Energy and Climate Change minister Chris Huhne has said.

Mr Huhne told the BBC that breaking the dependence on traditional fossil fuels was vital.

Tiny Wisconsin home masters the zen of simple living

Convinced you couldn't live in a tiny house? A new modernist box, perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wis., is such an exquisite miniature that you might think twice.

Thousands trapped by Pakistan floods; 1,100 dead

"Aerial monitoring is being conducted, and it has shown that whole villages have washed away, animals have drowned and grain storages have washed away," said Latifur Rehman, spokesman for the Provincial Disaster Management Authority. "The destruction is massive."

The flooding, which the U.N. estimates has affected 1 million people nationwide, comes at a time when the Pakistani government is already grappling with a faltering economy and a war against the Taliban.

U.S.-Canadian mission set to map Arctic seafloor

Alaska (Reuters) - U.S. and Canadian scientists are headed far north on a joint mission to map the still mysterious floor of the Arctic Ocean, as questions of sovereignty and mineral rights swirl around the region.

A dark ideology is driving those who deny climate change

Funded by corporations and conservative foundations, these outfits exist to fight any form of state intervention or regulation of US citizens. Thus they fought, and delayed, smoking curbs in the '70s even though medical science had made it clear the habit was a major cancer risk. And they have been battling ever since, blocking or holding back laws aimed at curbing acid rain, ozone-layer depletion, and – mostly recently – global warming.

In each case the tactics are identical: discredit the science, disseminate false information, spread confusion, and promote doubt. As the authors state: "Small numbers of people can have large, negative impacts, especially if they are organised, determined and have access to power."

Is It Hot in Here? Must Be Global Warming.

In any debate over climate change, conventional wisdom holds that there is no reflex more absurd than invoking the local weather.

And yet this year’s wild weather fluctuations seem to have motivated people on both sides of the issue to stick a finger in the air and declare the matter resolved — in their favor.

US inaction on climate troubles global talks

AMSTERDAM – The failure of a climate bill in the U.S. Senate is likely to weigh heavily on international negotiations that begin Monday on a new agreement to control global warming.

The hard numbers of population growth (interview with John Sulston)

The Royal Society has launched a study into population and sustainability, which you are heading. Why now?

The topic of population is moving up the agenda again. It was very much discussed 40 years ago. Then, with the green revolution, people felt things would be fine because the world population was increasing and everyone wasn't starving to death as predicted. But now we are facing a whole series of resource limitations. We are also facing the results of our own emissions - it is only in the last 10 years that we've had the hard evidence to say that rising levels of carbon dioxide really are leading to rising levels of global warming.

Reading Eagle - Feb 19, 1978

Deputy Energy Secretary John O'Leary says world oil production must increase by at least 3 million barrels a day to keep up with demand. He says such increases can be maintained for four years before worldwide production follow the U.S. pattern of peak and plateau or decline.
When that happens, O'Leary says, prices will soar from the present $14 a barrel to $25 or more and shortages of crisis proportions will develop.
Even after world production hits its peak, oil will remain a major source of energy. The big questions are how long it can do so and when it will run out. Answers are uncertain, but many experts believe the oil age will be over in less than half a century.
"Children born within the last 10 years will see the world consume most of its oil during their lifetime," says M. King Hubbert of the U.S. Geological Survey, the man whose accurately forecast of the peak in U.S. production was at first ridiculed by fellow geologists.

Great article - thanks for the link. It appears on page 29. I love the line near the end:

"O'Leary now says the nation lives in 'a fools paradise,' with disaster just around the corner."

as well as the statement further up:

"But polls showed a great many Americans doubt the energy crisis is real and are loathe to give up such prized symbols of their lifestyle as big, fuel-hungry cars."

It is depressing to think how little things have changed in 32 years. As another sobering example, read the article discussing the possibility of a 'national health plan' on page 2.....

It is depressing to think how little things have changed in 32 years.

Exactly. Everyone still thinks disaster is just around the corner. I wonder if we'll be looking back at The Oil Drum in thirty two years and seeing much in it that is no different than "The end is near" signs that cartoons show people carrying around.

The lesson here is that the future is much harder to predict than we think. I am a believer in both peak oil and climate change. I do think there are things that humans need to do quickly to prevent worse problems in the future.

But this article does make clear that those who are shouting that the world is about to come to an end and those who think everything is perfect are ideologues, deceived by different ideologies - always have been, always will be.

But this article does make clear that those who are shouting that the world is about to come to an end and those who think everything is perfect are ideologues, deceived by different ideologies - always have been, always will be.

True enough, but if we didn't have people crying out that the sky was falling we may now have had a permanent ozone hole due to continued use of CFCs or maybe Y2K computer issues if unaddressed would have wreaked havoc on our industrialized civilization back in 2000...

Those are but two real world examples of successes from the chicken little crowd that even the anti science neocons might be thankful for today. Of course they will tell you that it was the markets or something that really solved the problem.

So run for your lives the sky really is falling right now, Peak Oil is real and the consequences will catch up to us sooner or later...


we may now have had a permanent ozone hole due to continued use of CFCs

No one said there was no solution.

Y2K computer issues if unaddressed would have wreaked havoc on our industrialized civilization back in 2000...

Again, sensible people didn't say that there was no solution, and that therefore we were facing TEOTWAWKI. Of course, Kunstler did say that, and he was proved wrong.

The Chicken Little metaphor applies to the idea that there's no solution, AND therefore we are facing TEOTWAWKI.

PO is a serious problem, but there are a lot of solutions.

"Tiny Wisconsin home masters the zen of simple living"

What struck me are these lines near the bottom of the article referenced :-

"There are a few contradictions in the design of the EDGE. First, while designed to make downsizing more desirable, by no fault of the architects, it is likely to appeal to many as a second home or summer cottage rather than a new way of living. And, while it has many green features, it’s created for a large parcel of land. The EDGE doesn’t address the need for density, for humans to occupy less of the planet, though it’s possible some of the design ideas may translate to urban settings."

This is definitely a concern. I'm noticing many people seem to be acting on an instinct to buy a large parcel of land and "get as far away from other people" as possible to prepare for peak oil.

I see it the opposite way entirely. I see the need for people to be moving much closer together. This may seem counterintuitive, but considering that we are going to have less fuel for transportation, surely we should be thinking about being closer together, rather than further apart ?

There's been a lot of selling of the notion of "privacy" when buying homes - far enough away so the neighbors can't see what one is doing - tall fences, large lots. Surely, the way to build community is to knock down those barriers and live closer together.

In my neighborhood, the fences are high enough to prevent the dogs from moving from yard to yard, but low enough that we can see folks come and go. That might seem uncomfortable to the suburban or rural dweller, but, managed correctly, it makes for pretty good neighbors.

Neighborhood watch for crime, for example, or help when in trouble.

Yesterday I watched a few episodes of "The Pillars of the Earth" set in the 12th Century (essentially about the building of a cathedral) and what struck me was that people lived very close together, around the central market square, and, of course, the priory.

I see it the opposite way entirely. I see the need for people to be moving much closer together. This may seem counterintuitive, but considering that we are going to have less fuel for transportation, surely we should be thinking about being closer together, rather than further apart ?

I very much disagree with this statement. Rather, it is relationships that count.

I live in the boondocks. There are ten families spread out over about 4 square miles. Yet, we have excellent relationships and often help one another. We share excess summer crops. Get people out in snow storms. etc. My wife and I have put on an area BBQ for the past three years and everyone comes who can come. Finally, unlike more developed areas, people move here and pretty much stay here. We've been here for 31 years. I think the newest people have only been here for about 8 years. This has allowed ample time to build strong relationships.

Similarly, I have strong relationships with other "old-timers" in this area. For example, a buddy of mine left work to take my wife to a hospital in the adjoining town when she tripped and hurt her lip at the post office which is 15 miles from us.

When fuel becomes an issue we'll work something out.

To repeat, closeness doesn't count. Relationships do.


I think one has to take the dimension of "time" into account.

Gasoline has allowed us to travel not only far, but fast. Covering distance by foot, or by horse-drawn cart, for example, takes a long time. Yes, one person on horseback or on a bicycle can travel quite fast, but things are going to dramatically slow down when gasline is no longer so readily available.

I'm really aware of that right now, since I just put my back out again, pulling the %$#@ creeping jenny out of my veggies. I can crawl up the stairs and call my neighbor for help, 2 minutes away.

No more, for now while I swallow some painkillers ;)

Best hopes for people remembering how to make aspirin....


You might consider planting a patch of meadowsweet (spirea, which gives its name to aspirin) and valerian (for sleeping). The valerian volunteers freely for me, but I haven't been able to get the meadowsweet to establish. Always good to tackle the learning curve early.

Yeah, I have Valerian - it's the root, though, so using it effectively kills the plant unless one has a large patch.

IIRC, white willow is a source of salicylic acid - there are some by the river - about a mile away, but close enough to keep on hand.

I'm really aware of that right now, since I just put my back out again, pulling the %$#@ creeping jenny out of my veggies.

If you can feel where your back it's out, i.e, if it is indeed extending outward from the rest of the spine, try my trick. Place a tennis ball under the protrusion and lay down. Let the weight of your body on the ball slowly over an hour or so push it back in. You'll need to reposition the ball up or down on the spine because probably more than one vertibrae is out of position. It will provide a rough realignment, and then a good night sleep will do the rest.

Thanks for the suggestion - it is really more of a disc issue - something I've had for a long time, since changing a tire on my bike one day, and lifting the bike badly.

The disc gets out of alignment and "pinched" between two vertebrae causing lower-back nerve pressure. Lying flat usually fixes it. Of course, there's not a whole lot one can get done lying flat, so I've developed workarounds over the years.

It's a rare but regular occurrence that one just has to deal with, although anti-inflammatories really help. Part of my toolkit will be to find alternative therapies for dealing with it.

Wish I could just remember to bend from the darned *knee* ;)

I knew more of my neighbors, and more closely, when I was at the end of a dead end dirt road in the middle of nowhere with one house barely in sight than I do living in a small development where there are three houses within actual rock-throwing distance. The people out in the rural area are much more friendly to talk to - the ones in this development, which I'd say is typical of developments - are seriously withdrawn and from what I've learned, most have some sort of beef with at least one other neighbor.

Todd's point and yours are well taken, here in a small city, as well as in small towns, and out in the Country.

I've lived in all of these, and seen areas where people connected, and those where they didn't. In NYC, my 'alarm system' in a cheap Cold-water flat was to know everyone on my floor, and as many in the building and on my street as I could get. We watched out for each other, while in quiet times it played out more in terms of sharing resources and news, and having friendlies to make daily life more enjoyable.. but when a serial rapist was known in the area, or when some burglaries were sprouting up, I had a good deal more confidence in our situation than when I'd been more isolated at previous apartments. Older folks had people they could get all sorts of assistance from, people with kids had 'uncles and aunts' within earshot, there were dating possibilities and all other manner of networking and engagement going on. (And the little coffeeshop that had sprouted up right by our stoop actually was also fundamental in making these growing relationships possible, as well. There has to be some kind of a conduit available where mixing and meeting can occur. Just being close by isn't enough.

No different with our 1st house in the Maine Woods, from the other direction. People nearby, but no solid relationships.

'You have to have good men.
Good men, all of them.'

-Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
DAS BOOT , Wolfgang Petersen


What if, for the purposes of discussion, all your neighbors moved onto one property, in separate houses, but all close together ?

You then have the advantage of being close together, and still retain the same amount of land. It's a better safety net overall.

I think you're probably right, at least in the medium term. Infrastructure will contract, and people will follow it. Plus, lower wealth will mean we'll be forced to live in closer quarters.

The homestead in the boondocks is a peculiarly American vision, perhaps a result of our relatively recent frontier past. But I think history shows that we're likely to cluster close to cities when things get bad.

I sure sound grumpy today but I think that clustering close to cities is a sure route to demise. I accept that traveling long distances from the boonies could be a problem. However, we already plan on converting some vehicles (and equipment) to wood gas.

People here already supply their own water. They supply their own heat (wood). Many, but not all in my area, have gardens/orchards and some ponds and many are already off the grid or have back-ups for the grid. And, they have useful skill-sets.

Why oh why would we want to cluster with people who have no resources but rather are dependent upon the infrastructure for their basic survival and have few, if any, useful skill-sets?

I grant that hacking it in the boondocks will not be fun; in fact, damn hard. But, there is a higher probability of survival away from large groups of people. I should add that while boondockers can get by in populated areas, my experience is that the majority of urban/suburban people who move here hate it after a few years. In other words, it takes the right kind of psychology to survive in the boondocks even with no societal breakdown.


Living alone, or with your family, in the woods or on a farm will have advantages but one serious drawback. You will be exposed to all marauding groups that come along. And there are likely to be plenty of them. Your best bet would be to get with a group of like minded people and form farming communities, with all the houses in a central location. And arm yourselves to the teeth.

I know, a lot of people say guns are no answer. If you feel that way and are sure you will not to be armed in any manner, and plan to live alone far away from others... then you are not likely to survive very long when things get desperately bad.

Ron P.


The "Golden Horde" always seems to be brought up. Everyone's tactical position is different so there is no one answer that fits all.

I'm in the mountains and there is only one road in and out. First, the road will be closed a long, long way away. No one, except for a few fools, will try to move through the mountains. They are steep and nasty. So, they'll follow the road which has numerous places for LP/OPs (Listening Post/Outpost).

Will they be shot? Sure. Can they all be shot? Who knows. My own feeling is that most people will do what Leanan mentioned, cluster in populated areas. I do know that the state highway patrol has plans for closing the highways if such a situation occurs. I don't know whether that would hurt or help nor do I know the specifics of their plan.

My own guess is that the vast, vast majority of people will wait too long to try to get out. Just look at NO. In addition, there are far better "pickings" in urban and suburban areas so even the gangs will pretty much stay put.


I envy you Todd. Were I a younger man I would be doing something similar. I think it will be nearly impossible to get enough people together, with enough money, to buy and build a small farming community like I have talked about several times, so your option is the best after that.

But then how many places like yours are available? I would say you are very lucky to have found such a place.

Ron P.


IIRC you are 71...so am I. I've been fortunate that I haven't had any health problems. However, there is no way I could pull off everything I've done over the 31 years we've lived here at my age; build the house and shop, put in a garden and orchard, develop an adjoining property as a rental and on and on.

I've always loved the idea of community but it is hard to pull off. All of the old hippie communes died years ago. Although the Hog Farm* relocated to my area some years ago but even it isn't like the original Hog Farm. I am fortunate that most of the people in my area get along, are willing to help each other when necessary and have known each other for so long. It was luck I guess.

Well, I have to get back to the garden to pick beans, raspberries, squash and Ollalie berries. Then I have to irrigate the part of the orchard I didn't get to yesterday.


*Although not everyone knows "the Hog Farm" I think most have heard of Wavy Gravy.

Just at Kate Wolf in June, on the Hog Farm.
Your area could be easily isolated by blowing just a few bridges.
City folk, and most country folk, are incredibly illiterate when it comes to long distance travel without resources.

The "Golden Horde" is largely a myth. During the dark ages, people clustered in small groups, not cities. These were village sized groups, often fortified. Even today we see structures like the Afghan mud-and-straw qalat or the rammed earth Fujian Tulous still standing as testament to these sorts of arrangements. In a rapid collapse scenario, a city is historically a bad place to be. Rome went from 1 million inhabitants to 30,000 inhabitants as the Roman empire collapsed. You can find other large cities suffering similar fates historically. However, once collapse is mostly complete, cities can become desirable places because of their defensibility.

As a former military man, I would place higher odds on Todd's group surviving and becoming a focal point for a rural defensible group in that area than I would on most people surviving the collapse inside of cities.

As for the "Golden Horde" any population must spread out as some function of the square of the distance from the city center (Area=Pi*R2). If we take a hypothetical city of 1 million people clustered within 10 miles of the city center, that represents 3,183 people per square miles. Those same 1 million people spread over the surrounding 60 miles from city center falls to 88 persons per square mile average. Spread out over a 250 mile radius from city center, those 1,000,000 people become an average of 5 people per square mile.

Now it is true that people will not spread out evenly but even so they will spread out. And further, that spreading, coupled with the tendency of refugees to take the path of least resistance means that a rural retreat that is at least one gas tank away from any large city is completely unlikely to be bothered or even found by organized hordes in the early phases of a collapse. It is only after a collapse plus the ensuing deaths due to early violence, starvation and disease, that you might encounter the rise of militarized roaming forces. But the size of marauding forces must necessarily be constrained based on the size of the surviving population they have left from which to steal resources. In very short order, the marauders will starve down to a size that is commensurate with the size of their host pool.

The above assumes some sort of rapid collapse. In the case of a catabolic collapse as envisioned by Greer, Leanan and many others, the cities would remain stable for far longer but likely be ruled with an iron fist. Likewise the city itself would enforce peace within a certain range outside the city in order to ensure that the city can count on resources from those farms. Such enforcement would come in the shape of warlords and militias as has occurred throughout much of Africa and parts of Asia, such as Afghanistan.

Your rural retreat is only likely to be overrun if it is near a main highway within the range of one car's fuel tank from a large city. History teaches us much of what to expect but not all. However, I would rather rely on history as my guide than on utopian fantasies, which I see far too often amongst peak oilers. Todd is no utopian and I give him and his neighbors a better chance than most posters here if things come apart fairly rapidly.

The typical car fuel tank provides a range of 400 miles.

There is not a single place in the lower 48 that is not within 400 miles of a city- depending on how you define "city".

A Jeep Grand Cherokee gets perhaps 14 or less MPG. With a 20 gal tank thats 280 miles and that's counted at highway speeds. When you are in traffic or a jam on the interstate or back country it drops to far far less.

You are going to go hunting for something to 'take over'in a Prius?

And not everyone keeps their tank full. And how can you count of gas stations being open when TSHTF?

I don't think you thought that through very well.

I believe most will be on foot and they won't go very far that way unless they pack a lot of food and water with them, which I also doubt. Most city people are not to good at actually walking very far. They are fat, not too smart at hiking and lack the will as well. They will perish where they sit. IMO of course.

They simply do not do cross country very well either. Also a person walking makes quite a racket if the normal background noise if eliminated, and it will be as everything shuts down. . Easy for someone in a hidden position to pick them off from a reasonable distance before they even realize what is happening.

A well placed shot out of nowhere and .............this idea of just going into the country and scavenging along the way and taking whatever comes your way? Not gonna work to well. Its a fantasy depending on the locale. Wastelands are ok. Good farm land not so ok. People who live there and own the farms are not just going to roll over.

Hi passingby,

Its fuel economy is not great, but perhaps not as bad as you might think. According to the allpar website, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with the standard V6 engine gets 23 MPG highway (22 MPG in the 4x4 configuration) and has a range of "over 500 miles per tank".

Source: http://www.allpar.com/trucks/jeep/2011-cherokee.html

The official EPA ratings can be found at: http://www.jeep.com/en/performance/2011/#mpg_grand_cherokee

The fuel tank has a rated capacity of 24.6 gallons.

Source: http://www.jeep.com/hostc/vsmc/vehicleSpecModels.do?modelYearCode=CUJ201103

So a highway range of 500+ miles per tank is not out of the question, if equipped with the standard 3.6L V6 engine. In the case of the 5.7L Hemi version, that number would likely fall between 400 and 450 miles.


4.6 L is far more common.

I have one. I drive it long distances. If you drive very very carefully, never stop from station to station and never use the A/C you might get 20 or 21. I mostly get 18.

My son's gets even less and he has the 5.7L. He gets about 13 or 14.

I thought they had a 20 gal tank for I filled mine from empty yesterday and it took almost 19.

What Spring Tides gives is a pie in the sky , one size fits all , comment.

Real life is not like that. Real life is not government published numbers. Real life is that things wear out and don't perform as when new.

I have almost 250,000 on my Jeep GC. I have done all the wrenching my self. Worn bearings can take a toll. Worn rotors and brakes dragging as well. Also the type of transaxle can be factored in. Quadra Drive, Select Drive and so forth.

She did not specify the type of vehicle so her numbers are basically 'toilet paper'.

I would never buy a vehicle that had a range less than 500 miles (800 km) on a tank.

We currently have a VW Eurovan camper that goes 500 miles between fill-ups. It has a wimpy little 5-cylinder engine, and an 80 litre (20 gallon tank). It sleeps 4, has a two burner stove, sink, furnace, 40 litres of water, and 20 litres of propane. A perfect retirement vehicle.

We also have a Toyota Matrix that goes 500 miles between fill-ups while carrying two sea kayaks and two bicycles. Its fuel tank is much smaller than the Eurovan, but it's much more fuel efficient and faster on the hills. Another perfect retirement vehicle

But I really liked my father's old retirement vehicle - a Dodge van that would go 2000 miles between fill-ups. It got 25 mpg and had two, count them, two, 40 gallon fuel tanks.

Why oh why would we want to cluster with people who have no resources but rather are dependent upon the infrastructure for their basic survival and have few, if any, useful skill-sets?

The Maya moved from villages and farms to the cities to avoid hostile raids. The Romans abandoned their farms and moved to Rome because it was easier to get food on the dole in the city than it was on the farms that grew it. I could see both of those factors being an issue, depending how fast things deteriorate.

FWIW, here in Japan, people are definitely clustering in cities already. The boonies are ghost towns. Young people intheir 20s only want to be in big cities. Yet I can see that food will not be available forever in the big cities...already many fast food chains are shutting down restaurants (not in the big cities yet so much). But education, social position, an urban lifestyle....these are coveted!

I see attenuation. The people in the cities will have fewer and fewer children, afford fewer and fewer things, have less and less. The people in the small rural areas meanwhile will manage to support their children (since there is food there). Gradually, the village system will come back.....without a plan for it. Without cars. Without, I believe, rampaging hordes also.

The cities will be gradually deserted, but still some major hospitals open...until they realize noone is coming and their costs are too high....the lights go out....the educated doctors go find work in a now-prosperous village.

I think you don`t need to fear rampaging hordes as much as you think. People will wait and try to manage on less...and less...and less....then they will be too weak, too constrained by their circumstances to form a rampaging horde.
Without gasoline, they can`t drive their cars around or get bullets. I believe you will see attenuation......then stasis.....then slow reactivation of areas where there is water and food can be grown.

I find this to be a very interesting comment that I believe needs more attention. Japan has been in a deflationary situation for some ten years and life there is changing. The trend among US economist now seems to be tracking toward the possibility of deflation. If that is the case, then is not Japan a model, or situation we should be watching in terms of human behavior?

I am well positioned in a small midwestern community that is filled with many knowledgible friends. I have often wondered if what Pi is relating is in fact the course of action that will follow. It rings of reason. The small, self contained community for me holds the answer, not totally isolated, still surounded by the security of reasonable people working together.

The dissipation of the suburban and urban setting only makes sense, but how can the rural areas obsorb all the moving hoards. This future dissipation is consistant with Kunstler's long held position. Tell me more Pi. Thanks

Hi Leanan,

I don't really disagree with what you say. There are about 5,000 people in my area spread out over about 400-600 square miles. My expectation is that at least 60% will move out as things go down hill. Those that remain will be people like myself.

My wish is that somehow "urban" people could be made to realize that living in the boondocks even during good times is hard both mentally and physically. In other words, stay home and try to work it out. This is not the land of milk and honey!

Lastly, I keep harping about skill-sets. I could always go back and be a chemical plant manager or research chemist again. But could they grow their own food, repair the roof, overhaul an engine, can excess food, sew clothes and a bizzilion other things. Can they deal with being snowed in for weeks at a time? Ah, I'll quit here because it runs on forever.

Hopefully, people will stay where they find support.


Thinking about research chemistry....

Is Memmel ok? He hasn't posted in a long time. The last I remember was that he was in OR looking for a job. Anyone heard anything?


One thing that must be considered is the 'Just In Time' supply system. The Mayans and Romans had wearhouses in the cities. Many of the wearhouses are here in Nevada because there is no tax on wearhouse inventory. If the situation deteriorates fast, people in the cites will be out of business in a couple weeks. My neighbor says there are only nine meals per person in the pipeline and before hunger starts.

I have considered that, but I worry about it much less than I used to. Recent events have convinced me that we're going to get a long descent - probably slower than even Greer expects. There may be events where supplies are suddenly cut off - such as the fuel price strikes in the UK several years ago that resulted in bare shelves in the grocery stores, and the hurricane-created fuel shortages in the southeastern US that affected trucking. Not to mention the credit crisis that affected shipping.

But they are short-term, and rather than a straight line to collapse, the aftermath is a recovery. People will learn to live with such events as they become more common. As they have in many other countries, where you can't expect steady supplies or constantly accessible transportation.

There you go again, Leanan, injecting sanity into the conversation. ;-)

If you become convinced that the sxxt has indeed actually hit the fan, but that the public in general has not recognized this fact, you might have anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to carry out the most down and dirty sort of emergency planning and preparation .

Depending on the location and the nature of the community,a person who expects to live thru a very sudden collapse would have to deal first and foremost with two basic problems;personal security and obtaining food and water.

Personally I simply cannot concieve of being both sane and cognizant of the possibility of such a collapse and yet not making preparations well in advance for personal security. The most practical way of doing so takes the the form of owning a good firearm and ammunition for it, and devoting the time necessary to learning to use it effectively.

On an individual basis, a rational person is ALWAYS improves his position preserving as many options as possible.Certainly there is a one in many thousands chance that the individual will loose his or her cool and shoot an errant spouse, or leave a gun out where a kid can come to harm as a result, but rational people lock up thier firearms and don't often get mad enough to shoot thier spouse.

I believe the odds of a violent collapse are orders of magnitude greater than the odds that a typical specific individual reader of this site will misuse a personal weapon with fatal consequences;and we must keep in mind that if such a collapse occurs, we will live or die as individuals, or perhaps as members of a small group of allied individuals, at least for the first few weeks or months.After that , warlord and police state/martial law scenarios might or might not start to become important considerations.

Firearms and ammo are compact , relatively cheap, and with minimal care and proper storage, are non perishable.

Water and food are bulky and present considerable problems in respect to storage space and limited shelf life, excepting staples stored in rather expensive sealed containers.Most of us are unprepared,and in the event of a sudden violent collapse, will have to make do with whatever we can put our hands on and carry home on very short notice.

Lynford is absolutely correct in respect to the just in time nature of our current food marketing system;and in the event of a panic, the store shelves will be stripped bare in VERY short order.When things are really desperate, mobs simply rob any store that tries to close or ration purchases, and there simply aren't enough cops and soldiers to do anything about mobs under such circumstances.The more intelligent cops with familes to look after can be expected to use thier weapons and training to look after THIER OWN and will abandon thier jobs in large numbers once the situation is clear.

So what is the unprepared individual caught up in such circumstances to do?

For what they are worth, here are a few random thoughts on the subject:

Personally I would try to act faster than everybody else and burn up any credit cards and checking accounts by buying as much staple food as possible, plus convenience foods not thought usually of as staples;dry cereals keep a long time.I wouldn't worry too much about writing a few bad checks, if I thought I would get out of the parking lot..

In a real pinch, you can eat dog and cat food, especially after cooking it for a few hours.Those who live near stores selling livestock feed are in luck, due to the likelihood of being able to buy such feeds for a few hours or a day or two longer than groceries.Some of the ingredients are gross and some are considered unfit for human consumption,as is the case for pet food,but none are even remotely as dangerous as starvation.

A camping stove can that can be operated on gasoline or kerosene would be priceless.Five gallon plastic fuel cans are cheap and if stored in a cool dry dark place, they will last a very long time.It will would probably be easy to buy some of them at the last minute;getting them filled might be another matter.

Large molded plastic trash cans with tight fitting lids will hold a lot of water and more than likely nobody much will be buying them.Used cans could be hastily scrubbed out and carefully lined with a couple of heavy duty plastic trash bags and pressed into service as emergency water storage.

Nobody much will be buying canning jars and lids in the first mad rush;I would grab as many as possible.Huge amounts of frozen food in home freezers will rot before it can be eaten if the power goes off;those who still have water and fire might be able to salvage thier own at least.

A few bottles of multivitamins might turn out to be worth thier wieght in gold.

Fortunately we are so situated that if tshtf , most of our emergency needs are already met.But I will still be at the supermarket and the farm supply and the hardware store doing my damnedest to buy everything possible.

My own wag is that the odds of such a fast general collapse occuring during the next ten years are at least five percent, country wide or world wide.The odds are probably twenty five to fifty percent in some countries and in some localities even within countries regarded as prosperous and stable.

My estimate may seem high to some, but they should keep in mind that top level govt planners, military and civilian, estimated the ANNUAL risk of nuclear war at two percent during the cold war decades.

Bad Luck has a way,sometimes, of compounding itself like a snowball chasing a cartoon character down hill, and there are dozens of ways the snowball might get started rolling.

If I lived in a country dependent on importing food and fuel for its very survival, I would move if at all possible, if I had dependent children.

As usual all very good statements.

Most people will opt for yakking about it endlessly on TOD or other blogs yet will NOT make the effort to do anything.

Oh maybe they will ask for paper grocery bags. They might take a leak in the lawn sometimes. They might buy a handgun and thereby become dangerous to themselves and others.

How many here on TOD and posting in this DB are actually doing something REAL to prepare? 4? 5? ok even if 10 its still not that many.

You can shut my power off tomorrow. You can NOT shut my water off. You cannot keep me from using my own canned foodstuffs, or my stored grain I grew myself. You cannot come down my road with intent to do me harm and not be held accountable.

I have a small slide in truck camper that I can park way way out in the outback and woods and have shelter until it blows over. I have enough plans to take care of this event if it happened tomorrow. I know sites with running springs that the looters will never stumble on. Deer and turkeys and enough squirrel to survive on if it gets even that bad.

Talking about all it on TOD while looking at the likely very real future is not going to get you through it.

I agree OFM. How many times must they be slapped upside the head to get the picture?

Its going to be bad and its already started. Greece says that. Massive fires in Russia says that. Flooding in India. The list is growing.

Around Illinois and nearby this years corn crop is coming in in very very bad shape. I have seen some of the ears picked already to audit the crops. All farmers are saying they are going to be taking a very big hit. Very big. And then the threat of Aflatoxin is being talked about. If you have it in your corn you will NOT be allowed to dump at the grain elevators.

Best to watch the CBT prices to see what the traders are hearing.

Of course it could all be coffee shop chatter but the 4 farmers I asked and they put in thousands of acres, said they are hurting. And I saw the ears that showed the poor pollination. Bad heat spells and very dry weather are to blame.

The Romans abandoned their farms and moved to Rome because it was easier to get food on the dole in the city than it was on the farms that grew it.

Not exactly.

First Rome started out as a city, long before they had any dole.
Originally it started as a reward for veterans and was subsidized, not free.
The dole was two small loaves of bread a day and a couple times a year some pork to registered citizens.
It was made free around the time of Julius Caesar by the tribune Clodius and reduced to 200,000 by Augustus.


Romans(Italians) didn't abandon their farms. The rich bought them up running them as vast plantations with thousands of slaves.

Rome as a welfare paradise?--I don't think so.

" Since there is no room," quoth he, "for honest callings in this city, no reward for labour; since my means are less to-day than they were yesterday, and to-morrow will rub off something from the little that is left, I purpose to go to the place where Daedalus put off his weary wings while my white hairs are recent, while my old age is erect and fresh, while Lachesis has something left to spin, and I can support myself on my own feet without slipping a staff beneath my hand. Farewell my country!"

"It is no easy matter, anywhere, for a man to rise when poverty stands in the way of his merits: but nowhere is the effort harder than in Rome, where you must pay a big rent for a wretched lodging, a big sum to fill the bellies of your slaves, and buy a frugal dinner for yourself."

"Most sick people here in Rome perish for want of sleep, the illness itself having been produced by food lying undigested on a fevered stomach. For what sleep is possible in a lodging? Who but the wealthy get sleep in Rome? There lies the root of the disorder. The crossing of wagons in the narrow winding streets, the slanging of drovers when brought to a stand, would make sleep impossible for a Drusus ----or a sea-calf. When the rich man has a call of social duty, the mob makes way for him as he is borne swiftly over their heads in a huge Liburnian car."

"And now regard the different and diverse perils of the night. See what a height it is to that towering roof from which a potsherd comes crack upon my head every time that some broken or leaky vessel is pitched out of the window! See with what a smash it strikes and dints the pavement! There's death in every open window as you pass along at night; you may well be deemed a fool, improvident of sudden accident, if you go out to dinner without having made your will. You can but hope, and put up a piteous prayer in your heart, that they may be content to pour down on you the contents of their slop-pails!"

Juvenal Satire 3

Romans(Italians) didn't abandon their farms.

Then why were there so many laws passed on how to tax abandoned farmland, and laws requiring that the sons of farmers had to be farmers, too?

Rome as a welfare paradise?--I don't think so.

No one said it was. Rather, it was a reflection of how difficult the alternative was.

The reason farmers abandoned their land and didn't want to farm was that Rome increased taxes to the point where farmers couldn't feed their families. It wasn't that they longed for life on the dole in the big city.

In other words, it takes the right kind of psychology to survive in the boondocks even with no societal breakdown.

As someone who doesn't even like to go to the cottage, I am well aware of these things, and will not be joining you out in the woods.

Why oh why would we want to cluster with people who have no resources but rather are dependent upon the infrastructure for their basic survival and have few, if any, useful skill-sets?

The other side of it is that specialization is a force multiplier. While it's good to be able to sew your own clothes(we bought a new machine last year), the cost (in hours, energy, or whatever metric you choose) of a workroom-produced item as opposed to one that you weaved, cut, stitched and finished yourself will be lower. In a resource-constrained future, keeping all the tools that are in a typical North American home- maintained and replaced, unless it is actively earning it's keep, may be unreasonably expensive(or have a negative EROI) or just impossible. Specialization will be necessary because you won't be able to have all the required tools even if you know how to use them.

So I think there will still be city jobs. Weaving. Sewing. Knitting. If electronic payment breaks down, news printed on paper(so you can sell it.) Cooking and canning. Running a boarding house(if you can't afford to have a car, your spouse may live in the suburban house while you spend the week in the city.) Tool making and repair. Computer repair (for a while, anyway.) Plumbing. Distilling. Carpentry. Shipbuilding. Universities and Hospitals. Servants. Bankers and merchants.

You are going to want some of these goods and services, and you will have to go into town to get them, because it will be necessary for survival.

I am 50 now, and a little old to be a lumberjack or migrant farm worker if collapse comes in my lifetime. I can run a sewing machine and cut clothes. I can sharpen anything from a chisel to a carving knife. And if I do one or a few of these things all day, I will do it faster and better than someone who does it once a month.

That, I believe, will be the future of cities.


Most people in the cities these days are employed in the tertiary economy (eg. services) which is going to be hit the hardest by unemployment and collapse. As both the primary economy (services provided by nature) and the secondary economy (physical production) are or will be contracting due to Climate Change, Financial collapse and energy depletion the tertiary economy will become unsustainable and implode.

The problem will rest with the failing Government on how to feed, provide water and accommodation for millions of unemployed and penniless city dwellers. Their solution will be to keep them together for purposes of control and ease of distribution which essentially become massive ghettos. Life will go on, some people will still go to work in the secondary economy and live in their existing homes, but they will also be more restricted, controlled and dependant on the authorities for basics. These ghettos will be very sophisticated using very advanced techniques, but they will still be Orwellian style ghettos. The UK is pretty advanced along these lines, with travel restrictions not far away in the form of road pricing.

You can already see this happening, people remaining in their homes after defaulting their mortgages, food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc. The Government will by default become the biggest landlord through Freddie and Fannie housing millions and providing them with the basics for survival in the form of benefits. The difference will be the scale and with the scale will come the Government focus quickly followed by a control structure.

Thanks KLR.

I like the historical component of peak oil (known in its prior guise as "running out").

Too many forget that there isn't really anything new in the current argument, for some of us old farts its got a strong flavor of "here we go again" to it. I love those old quotes showing how serious the issue was 3 decades ago, because in many ways it was an issue taken more seriously then it has been with the most recent peak.

Please us the reply button if you are replying to someone else's comment.

Yeah, I mistakenly thought that KLR's comment was a bullet point in the actual story, rather than the first comment with a big quote in it. My bad.

I’ll add a little more historical perspective. I left grad school at Texas A&M and rolled into the offshore development geology group for Mobil Oil in 1975. Within a month of starting my mentor laid it out: we’re close to not being able to replace our produced reserves with the drill bit. Most especially true with respect to oil. Drilling on the GOM shelf was kicking into high gear. Most of the targets were NG thanks to a 400% to 600% increase in prices in just several years. He was very clear: we’ll drill up the easy stuff on the GOM shelf in 5 to 10 years. Just about when much of these opportunities were developed the slump of the 80’s kicked in and hid from the public that we had used up a good bit of the potential.

Another historical bit of data indicating the declining opportunities: In the recent price run up folks thought we had a drilling boom with 2000+ rigs drilling. At the high point of the 70’s drilling boom we had 4,600 rigs drilling domestically. Being hip deep in it at the time I can assure you that at least half those rigs were drilling crap that had little chance of successful. After the oil embargo the attitude was that all you had to do was drill anywhere and you’ll hit. Obviously not even close to being true. When prices recovered in the late 80’s a new plan began developing in the oil patch: exploration was still a part of the game but for the big public companies the prime method of growth was production acquisition. It began at the tail end of the 70’s boom when Big Oil starting buying each other out. Many here under 50 may not be familiar with Gulf Oil, one of the early big victims of the acquisition boom. Public companies tend to be valued much more on reserve growth than profit. And it makes no difference to Wall Street whether they grow with the drill bit or the check book.

Right, "drilling for oil on Wall Street." The stock answer to the question of why Drill Baby Drill hasn't happened is that the long suffering oil companies are banned from all those juicy prospects - ANWR, Atlantic offshore. Was reading about the breakup of Pangea and it sure sounds if there should be some honkin' big turbidites out there somewhere. Or is it Tertiary deposits the oil is supposed to be in? Forget how that works. You might have to drill 69 wells first like the North Sea of course. And then what? Another 1.5 mb/d, congrats, we're only 60% dependent on imports now.

The current plateau in Texas is interesting - Art Berman or HO should throw together a piece on that, they seem to be staying flat with lots of horizontal wells in the Permian Basin, an approach you could employ most anywhere, I'd think.

The news items are fun to dredge up, truly there's nothing new under the sun - dusty 90 year old tomes like Oil-field practice (1921) contain somber warnings of the imminent decline of US production. But I'm catholic in these matters - we've longed been promised miracles too; the excerpt from an early 30s PopSci promising universal 50%+ RF that I posted a few weeks ago is an example. That was around the time of the article touting the flying cars of the future.

I just made 45...I clearly remember Gulf Oil, Altlantic Richfield Company, SUNOCO, others.

Bigger is better.

Acquisition has been the name of the game in a number of industries. I worked in telecom and cable as a technology analyst, businesses that saw enormous consolidation. Upper management's bonuses were usually based on growth, and it was a lot easier to buy the competition with a big pile of borrowed dollars than to attract new customers the old-fashioned way. Learned to hate the buzzwords: "synergy", for example, was the code word that meant "we're going to fire half of the engineering staff".

This article is about Carl Henn's memorial service:

Memorial service held for Rockville man killed in lightning strike

They played a peak oil Powerpoint presentation at the service.

A PowerPoint presentation about Henn's favorite topic, the limited supply of oil on Earth, played behind each speaker. One by one friends and family spoke about Henn's wit, determination, creativity and optimism.

"The reason he cared so much about peak oil is because he cared about people, about Rockville and he cared about his family," said Nancy Breen, Henn's co-worker and fellow cycling advocate.

Henn, a former City Council candidate, so ardently warned people about their collective reliance on oil that other politicians, like Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, wondered if his efforts cost him the 2007 and 2009 elections.

He was only 48.

I wonder if he biked to the event, and that's why he had nowhere to take shelter when the storm hit. When the sudden, violent storm sent everyone sprinting for their cars, maybe no one remembered that not everyone had a car.

Well-known Rockville civic activist dies after lightning strike

Henn, an avid bicyclist who rode his bike to the picnic, did not get into a car. "He was good friends with every one of us, he definitely knew he could have come in with one of us," McCarthy said. "The biggest thing is, I wish I had a do-over and I would have made sure that he got into the car."

I think this is very symptomatic of where we are as a society - "everyone for themselves".

People were only concerned about "getting to their cars" and not looking out for the group.

Seems a little harsh spring: "Symptomatic" that no one told a 48 yo to get to take cover during a lightning storm? There were dozens of cars he could have climbed in. Folks just sat in their cars...no one drove away. I'm sorry the fellow died. But I’ve stood out in more than one closing storm to feel the wind, rain and concussion of the thunder. Don't ask me why but I've always enjoyed such experiences. But I also enjoy the sound of fireworks and gun fire. Maybe it’s just a guy thing.

A small bit of trivia: 75% o folks killed by lighting are not being rained on at the time. It's the leading dry edge of storms where most fatalities occur.

He may have been the kind of person who wasn't comfortable inviting himself into someone else's car. If he just wanted to feel the rain, I doubt he'd have taken shelter under a tree.

Lightning storms are one situation where cars have definite advantages. There was a case a few years ago in NYC, where a cyclist was killed by a lightning strike at long distance. Apparently, it hit the guardrail, traveled along it, then zapped someone who was riding along the road a mile away.

A "Bolt from the Blue" is a cloud-to-ground lighting flash that typically:

* Comes out of the back side of the thunderstorm cloud
* Travels a relatively large distance in clear air away from the storm cloud
* Then angles down and strikes the ground.

These lightning flashes have been documented to travel more than 25 miles away from the thunderstorm cloud (see the "LDAR" discussion below).

Bolts from the Blue... appear to come out of clear sky:

(nice pics)



It's amazing what doesn't get hit by lightning.
Many times we've been caught in the fields, frantically trying to finish off the baling as a thunderstorm approaches.
If we're round-baling, you keep going until the rain actually falls.
If we're square-baling, you try to guess how long until the rain falls, subtract the time that you need to get the wagon to the barn and unload it, and keep baling if you think you have time.

Either way, being in a field (especially a high one) on a steel tractor, pulling a round baler or a hay wagon, also steel, is very worrisome when the lightning starts crackling.
But it's extremely rare that a farmer gets hit in the field.

Our ferry dock has towers on each side... it and the ferry are all steel, sitting in water as well.
But no-one is aware of either the dock or the boat ever getting hit, and that's over many decades.

And then some poor guy on a bike gets hit....

Rockman, great history lesson.

Riding bicycles is a dangerous business. Not only for the cyclists but for motorists who encounter them. My house is on a popular cycling road called River Road and Valley Road. It is a scenic winding drive over looking the Winnebago River with lots of deer, wild turkeys and other wild life.

My biggest fear driving the road is that a deer will jump out and I will hit it. It has happened to me once already. Last year a motorcyclist was killed on River Road when he struck a deer. But my bigger fear is hitting a bicyclist.

They are out early in the morning and in the evening riding. Drivers have to pay close attention or they could strike them.

Iowa is kind of bicycle crazy. We have a thing called RAGBRAI about this time every year. A couple of years ago it went down River Road and Valley Road right past may house. There were hundreds of cyclists and it took hours for them to pass. Some stragglers were still on the road the next day:


n 2010, RAGBRAI XXXVIII was held from July 24-31. The host communities were Sioux City, Storm Lake, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Waterloo, Manchester, and Dubuque.[3]

Some riders are in teams with back up support following them.

But accidents and deaths still happen. There was another fatality again this year.


It doesn't seem to stop the popularity of RAGBRAI though.

Hey there X "But my bigger fear is hitting a bicyclist."

1. You are driving too fast.

2. You don't really know how to drive.

3. If you do have an accident, hit a Biker say, see number 1. and 2. above, then you should lose your license for life.

I Bike every day. Try it, you'll like it.

The Martian

Cars do have a definite advantage in a lightning storm. They act as a Faraday Cage in a lighting storm.

A Faraday cage's operation depends on the fact that an external static electrical field will cause the electrical charges within the cage's conducting material to redistribute themselves so as to cancel the field's effects in the cage's interior. This phenomenon is used, for example, to protect electronic equipment from lightning strikes and other electrostatic discharges.

In addition, a car is sitting on four rubber tires, and rubber is an insulator, so anybody sitting in a car is sitting in a Faraday Cage insulated from the ground. It's nearly an ideal place to sit out a lightning storm.

Here are a few basic rules for dealing with lightning storms:

Do not be the highest object in an area. Lightning usually hits the highest object in an area. (Trees are often the highest objects in an area.)

Do not stand next to the highest object in an area. Lightning often strikes the highest object but jumps to a nearby object on its way to ground.

Cars are very good places to go. A car acts as a Faraday Cage and is insulated from the ground by rubber tires.

Power lines are not too bad. Usually they're grounded, so lighting hits the wires and follows the ground wire down a power pole to the ground. Just don't stand too close to the power pole.

If all else fails, move away from all tall objects and lie down. Become one with the mud. Chances are, you won't be hit.

Here are a few basic rules for dealing with lightning storms

Well mostly right. But a couple of corrections.
Not being the highest thing around improves the odds, but isn't foolproof. I think you need the highest object to be about 40 degrees higher than yourself to be sure (thats quite a lot). Also not too many lightening victims are hit by the actual bolt, but ground currents spread out from the base of the strike, and can be dangerous for a couple of hundred feet. Probably a lot more if you have a one dimensional conductor, such as a metal fense. Water is dangerous because the currents spread out on the surface, and thats where a swimmer would be. Lying down is not a good idea, you want to minimize the horizontal spread you have on the ground, crouching is recommended, as that minimizes the potential voltage between your two feet.

I don't think a cars rubber tire help, the lightning will just spark from the car to the ground. But, the Faraday cage effect is very important. The current will be conducted through the metal surfaces of the car, rather than through the passengers.

A small bit of trivia: 75% o folks killed by lighting are not being rained on at the time. It's the leading dry edge of storms where most fatalities occur.

Not to mention it is common knowledge that the worst possible thing one can do in a thunderstorm is take shelter under a lone big tree. Though I've done it myself...

Exactly. I think everyone knows you should avoid trees...but when you're getting drenched, it's hard to resist the temptation.

I`m not a guy but I like wind, rain and thunder too. Not gunfire though.

It was sad to read about Carl Henn`s death. 48 is young. People have to remember the fierce and dangerous side of nature even as they like nature and want to "protect" it by not burning FF. Often the protections we have come up with are effective---like cars---but bring new problems.

I was working in the office north of Baltimore when that same storm came through last Sunday. Went out to the parking lot to roll up the windows in the car and thought I'd take a break and take a stroll around the building. The wind came up fast and hard, and I have to confess it freaked me out so much I ran for the door to get inside. Nature, indeed.

N.S. lags behind as other provinces meet mercury reduction deadlines

HALIFAX - Even before pushing back a key mercury emissions target, Nova Scotia was lagging behind other provinces on cutting its output of the toxic chemical, a recent report reveals.

The report from the Nova Scotia Environment Department shows the province, which accounts for eight per cent of Canada's mercury output, has not made significant reductions since agreeing to Canada-wide standards.

Last year, the province's four coal-fired power plants emitted 140 kilograms of mercury — more than double the original 2010 target that capped emissions at 65 kilograms — while achieving a marginal reduction from previous years.

In 2006, when the targets were set, Nova Scotia emitted 161 kilograms of the chemical.

Meanwhile, the other provinces that agreed to the standards are making progress on their goals.

See: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/greenpage/environment/ns-lags-behind-as...

Best hopes for correcting this situation quickly.



Biggest culprit for mercury in this province is coal-fired electrical generation. Eliminate it and the problem is licked. Don't eliminate it, mercury levels will remain high.

Yet another reason to push for access to Labrador Hydro.



Hi Tom,

I'm deeply disappointed that the Province caved in to the corporate arm twisting; the mere threat of a 12 to 18 per cent rate increase was enough to send them scurrying for cover. They could have at least let the public utilities review board investigate the matter and determine if such increases are warranted. Instead, they chose to wave implementation until after the next general election.

I don't doubt that fuel costs would increase and that these additional costs would be a burden to many Nova Scotians. To minimize rate shock, we could have blended cleaner sources in increasingly larger quantities over each of the next four years.

Between this and the inane biomass affair, we have a lot of ground to cover.


I'm deeply disappointed that the Province caved in to the corporate arm twisting; the mere threat of a 12 to 18 per cent rate increase was enough to send them scurrying for cover.

Hi Paul,

Politics is the art of the possible and no government wants to be "hung" by its "own petard". Joe Clark earned his footnote in Canadian history in 1979 by imposing a 4 cent a litre cost increase on gasoline. Such memories haunt even the most stalwart and best-intentioned of politicians - of all stripes.

Between this and the inane biomass affair, we have a lot of ground to cover.

Sure do. And it will be slow moving. Akin to pushing on a string - i.e. appearance of great progress with little effect on outcome. Be content with the small victories. They are what really count and, over time, are what add up to change policy.

Keep plugging.



I'm feeling a glimmer of hope in relation to global warming since I ran into this summary of new research about CO2 capture in the form of solid carbon. Results of a twenty-year research project at George Washington University were published in the J of Phys Chem Letters on July 14 of this year. For a good explanation of the process, see:


This piece also has a link to the journal article, where you can read the abstract only, unfortunately, unless you have a subscription. I believe it is in the abstract that the authors say that this process could return earth's atmosphere, CO2-wise, to a pre-1850 state in as little as ten years.

The problem is with this process, like any that wants to dissociate the elements in a CO2 molecule, is that it takes energy input.

So the plan in the article linked says they'll use solar thermal to supply some of the energy. Fine, but why not just build the solar thermal plants to supply the energy to begin with rather than burn coal?

Likewise, these types of plans do nothing about the transportation contribution (which if one includes black carbon is large) or land use.

I'm not poo-pooing the inventiveness of the people involved, but please realize that the issue is a lot more complicated than offering up (yet another) process to make solid carbon out of waste CO2.

So the plan in the article linked says they'll use solar thermal to supply some of the energy. Fine, but why not just build the solar thermal plants to supply the energy to begin with rather than burn coal?

Likewise, these types of plans do nothing about the transportation contribution

I am hugely skeptical of such claims. But, if you take the article at face value, his panel/collector would get the heat from the sunlight, although it also needed electrical energy as well. He also claimed they could make fuel with it (out of water, and CO2, and energy), so in principle it could supply transport fuel. The navy has plans for making aviation fuel out of water plus CO2, plus nuclear energy (for aircraft carriers), so it might not be totally far-fetched. But whether it can be made affordable and practical, thats the rub.

I'd love to see a way to capture and sequester lots of CO2 from the air, cause we ain't gonna to get us no climate religion until it is too late.

In Japan,

Probably I'm missing something, but I don't see where anything but solar energy is used in this process.

Quote: "Licht and his team are extremely optimistic about the impact of the STEP technology: "This STEP process provides a path to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide to pre-industrial levels" he says.

I assume Licht and his team are well-aware of the contribution of transportation to mounting CO2 levels, so perhaps he sees an application to transportation or else thinks that the transportation problem will be taken care of in other ways. (Couldn't you attach one of these little electrolysis devices, along with its solar panel, to the tail pipes of cars??? )

I agree with you on your statement about burning coal. My long-time desire has been to switch to an alternative energy world, simply not to burn carbon. But the way things are going leads me to believe that human societies are simply incapable of addressing global warming adequately or in a timely enough manner. Hence, the claim made in the quote above, returning to pre-1850 CO2 levels, sounds exceptionally good to me. Why would he make such a remark if it were untrue, if this process only applied to industrial CO2 production?

Greece will be a war zone, Sect of Revolutionaries warns tourists
Security forces fear wave of terror as austerity programme provokes strikes, protests, violence – and assassination

Mounting social unrest, waning support for political parties and record levels of unemployment among an increasingly radicalised youth are believed to have augmented the ranks of anti-establishment groups.

The terror threat comes as Greek authorities endure a summer of strikes and escalating upheaval. Military trucks and petrol company vehicles were employed yesterday to alleviate a fuel shortage as more 30,000 lorry and tanker truck operators ignored a government order to return to work on pain of prosecution. Shortages were reported on many holiday islands and destinations in northern Greece where thousands of tourists are stranded.

"The economic crisis has most definitely played a role in aggravating the violence," Chrysohoidis told the Observer. "And the violence we are seeing is worst than ever before because society as a whole is more violent than ever before."

"In other European countries, home-grown terrorism has been on the decrease for years," said Drougos.

"But in Greece the situation is not unlike pre-Bolshevik revolutionary Russia or Italy at the start of the terror campaign by the Red Brigades… it's very unpredictable..."

Idle, unemployed hands are the devil's workshop... add to the kiln the unfocused rage of a young demographic with poor future prospects. Sprinkle in an aging demographic that expects the young, mostly angry and unemployed demographic to foot the bill for the rest of their lives...

Hope this sh*t stays in Greece, or spreads no further than Europe, or at least occus only in the most bankrupt large US cities...

This is just a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the world. Some people, those who have never had anything, and are already living on the verge of starvation, may just sit down and die quietly. But those who are accustomed to a better life and with little worry of where their next meal is coming from will not go quietly into that good night.

They will fight and riot in a vain attempt to recover their former lifestyle. They will blame every public official and every private business official for their plight. And they will try to make everyone else pay for bringing this calamity upon them.

And the worse things get, the worse things will get.

Ron P.


"They will fight and riot in a vain attempt to recover their former lifestyle. They will blame every public official and every private business official for their plight. And they will try to make everyone else pay for bringing this calamity upon them."

That is why I agree with Todd as to where one lives. If there is little employment, how often does one need to actually travel to town? I think there will be abandoned places in the boonies, the kind of houses that are simply perched where they don't belong (in the sense of having no purpose beyond peace and quiet.) However, those who have prepared and are of a mindset to work hard in a more self reliant way need to follow their hearts.

We all need to take stock of our skills and attitudes and make a choice that works, and not be victimized by circumstance if at all possible. Maybe it won't be too hard of a fall down. In many ways a simpler life will be liberating.


A Richter Scale for Markets

Financial crises are difficult to predict, the econophysicists say, because markets are not, as some traditional economists believe, efficient, self-regulating and self-correcting. The periodic upheavals are the result of a cascade of events and feedback loops, much like the tectonic rumblings beneath the Earth’s surface.

Lovely article in the Week in Review section of the Gray Lady. I have long been a fan of Didier Sornette's statistical approach to economics. The article also mentions Eugene Stanley and Nassim Taleb, some of the smarter people writing about economic crashes.

The bottom line is that major market upheavals, like major geologic ones, obey certain statistics but cannot be timed. Thus, market earthquakes cannot be avoided but must instead be accommodated. Just as building codes reduce the damage inflicted by earthquakes, financial regulation can reduce the damage inflicted by market shocks. American enforcement of financial building codes in recent decades resembled the situation with structural building codes in Turkey where even 'small' earthquakes cause major loss of life. It's no wonder this crash has caused so much damage in the US and so little in Canada.

If I were to return to hard core science I would try to join Sornette's group in Zurich. He's brilliant and eloquent and understands that the behavior of large groups of humans have certain statistical properties that have some hope of being modeled. We're not yet at the level of Harry Seldon's 'psychohistory' from Asimov's Foundation series but 'econophysics' is a on a much better path to understanding market crashes than any other branch of economics.

Best hopes for enforcing financial building codes and for exploring human behavior with statistical models rather than mechanistic ones.


I recently picked up Sornette's book on statistics and it contains lots of insight. It is one of those books that actually contains more info than you would fing googling around.

Didier Sornette is the antithesis of Matt Simmons in his sense of reducing behaviors to logic. That gives one a sense of what's in store if you follow Sornette's work.


The low pressure system in the Atlantic now has an 90 percent chance of becoming Hurricane Colin. This is a particularly big one and could be very nasty.

NOAA Atlantic Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook


Ron P.

Folks might be interested in this link found via The Automatic Earth (pdf):

When Money Dies

Written in 1975 by Adam Fergusson it is a chilling account, some of which is taken from first hand reports, of life in Germany, Austria and Hungary during the hyper-inflation of the 1920's.

Of particular interest to those who debate the safety/utility/practicality of town vs. country in uncertain times it is worth noting that people with land, especially productive land, to the degree that they were self sufficient managed to avoid most of the worst privations. However, because of the total loss of confidence in the currency they were unable or unwilling to sell their produce for paper, this despite good growing seasons and abundant harvests.

People in the cities, especially the lower classes and people on fixed incomes, had things much worse. However, despite an increasingly desperate situation they managed for some time to "keep up appearances" by selling off or bartering jewelry, furniture and other possessions, and by visiting friends and neighbors for charity.

One used to see the appearance of their flats gradually changing. One remembered where there used lo be a picture, or a carpet, or a secretaire. Eventually their rooms would be almost empty and on paper some people were reduced to nothing.

In practice, people didn't just die. They were terribly hungry, and relations and friends would help with a little food from time to time. We sent them parcels, or took them ourselves because we had no cash to pay for postage. And some of them begged — not in the streets — but by making casual visits (one knew only too well what they had come for) or by writing letters asking for help. Everyone still tried to keep up appearances: at first, early on, people looked around to see what economies they could make, what clubs to resign from, what luxuries to do without. Later it was a question of considering what necessities to do without.

And when food was not the problem — after all, we lived most of the time in the country where we could get it — there were troubles because we had no money. Only one of us could afford to go into Budapest at a time. There was no way to get medical help without money. If you had toothache you couldn't afford a dentist. If you needed to go to hospital, you might get into a convent: otherwise you stayed at home, and got better, or got worse.

Unfortunately, the situation eventually became so desperate that people in the towns and cities, looking for someone to blame, directed their anger firsrt at the Jewish merchants and bankers (calling the worthless paper currency "Jewish confetti"), and then eventually at the farmers who refused to sell their produce.

... In the cart I saw three slaughtered pigs. In addition, some pieces of slaughtered cows and pigs and a few dead hens were lying in an untidy heap. 'My God, my God', wailed my aunt. 'What will things be like at home?

... Two gendarmes accompanied us in order to ascertain the damage. 'If only they didn't always destroy everything', said one of them. 'As for their being hungry, that's not surprising'. We were prepared for the worst. The gates of the farmyard were wide open. There was not a sign of the servant girls. A pig seriously injured but still living was lying in its own blood in the yard. The other pigs had run out into the road. The cow-shed was drenched in blood. One cow had been slaughtered where it stood and the meat torn from its bones. The monsters had slit up the udder of the finest milch cow, so that she had to be put out of her misery immediately. In the granary the store of grain and fodder were in a state of wild confusion … a rag soaked with petrol was still smouldering to show what these beasts had intended. In the kitchen-living room of which my aunt was so proud not a thing had been left whole.

The towns were starving. The countryside had had a bumper harvest, but there it remained because of the farmers' steadfast refusal to take paper for it at any price. Something had to be done to shift it.

In closing Mr. Fergusson makes this observation:

In war, boots; in flight, a place in a boat or a seat on a lorry may be the most vital thing in the world, more desirable than untold millions. In hyperinflation, a kilo of potatoes was worth, to some, more than the family silver; a side of pork more than the grand piano. A prostitute in the family was better than an infant corpse; theft was preferable to starvation; warmth was finer than honour, clothing more essential than democracy, food more needed than freedom.


Well, it looks like Hydro-Québec's Great Whale project is rearing its ugly head again.

See: http://www.cyberpresse.ca/le-soleil/affaires/les-regions/201007/30/01-43...

Ten thousand four hundred megawatts of "clean" hydro, provided you ignore all of the environmental devastation that would result.

Best hopes for using electricity more wisely.


Paul, I mentioned ground-source heat pumps recently, and got the following comment:

"1 ton of geosource requires about 300 feet of pipe buried to a depth such that the temperature does not go below 55F. ~6 foot deep in NW AR, ~5 foot lower than deepest frost line (why Wisconsin and most of Canada is not ideal). Or a water well of about 100+ foot of actual water depth per ton."

The whole discussion is here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6789/690860

Could you comment?

Hi Nick,

I'm more familiar with air-source heat pumps, but John Straube of the University of Waterloo (www.johnstraube.com) is well acquainted with both and would be in a better position to advise you.

John's contact page: http://www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/our_people/dept_person.asp?id=jfstraube

One of John's articles can be found at: http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/digests/bsd-113-ground-source-h...

High efficiency ductless heat pumps continue to produce a good amount of heat down to -25°C. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I've posted this link before, but in case you missed it, this person claims his ductless heat pump still operates at -32°C:



Thanks, Paul.

Could you make a very rough guess as to the % of the Canadian population that would be well served by an an air-source heat pump?

As a simple guess, I'd say roughly half. Air source heat pumps are an excellent choice throughout Atlantic Canada where fuel oil and electric resistance dominate. They're also well suited for much of British Columbia and southern Ontario.

The Fujitsu 12RLS has a seasonal COP of 3.52, and at $0.12 per kWh its average cost per kWh(e) of heat is thus 3.41-cents. Our Sanyo 12KHS71 has a seasonal COP of 2.73, so it's cost per kWh(e) is 4.4-cents. A litre of fuel oil provides about 9.0 kWh of heat at 84% AFUE. Currently, the average cost per litre in Canada is 88.5-cents (source: http://mjervin.com/WPPS_Public.htm), which puts its cost per kWh(e) at 9.83-cents –– more than twice that of the Sanyo and nearly three times that of the Fujitsu.

Where natural gas is available, a hybrid heating system could be a good choice, given that the incremental cost over a high efficiency gas furnace and conventional central air system is relatively modest. In Edmonton, Alberta, where winters are pretty damn cold, a hybrid heating system would operate over 75 per cent of the time in heat pump mode assuming a cut-over temperature of -10°C/14°F. The economic balance point will be determined by the relative cost of natural gas and electricity, obviously, but for newer, high efficiency systems it's likely to fall somewhere in the vicinity of -10°C.


Paul, my correspondent said the following:

An HVAC Number "Game". It "used to was" that the government mandated a SEER of 11, then 13, and now ?? (Higher but not sure of mandate). The HVAC Manufacturers thought long and hard about how to meet future increases. When it became more and more difficult to increase efficiency, the got the Gov to allow for a change in the SEER goal tests. They instituted a "Bucket Test" (multiple different testing conditions whose result was then combined). The end result is that it is possible for an OLD SEER 13 or even less unit can outperform a NEW SEER 16 unit in some real world installations (and not in Nome!). The point is that Numbers can not just be accepted at face value. :>(

Any thoughts? The conversation is here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6789/692824 if you want to join in directly...

Hi Nick,

I confess I'm having a hard time understanding the thrust of this person's argument, however, to clear up any confusion, as of January, 2006, the minimum SEER rating of residential systems sold in the United States is 13.0 and prior to this it was 10.0. Presently, the minimum SEER rating for Energy Star systems is 14.0.

Conventional split and mini-split unitary systems with a nominal heating and cooling capacity of less than 19.0 kW/65,000 BTU are tested in accordance with the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute's AHRI 210/240 standard. You can view a copy of this standard at: http://ari.org/ARI/util/showdoc.aspx?doc=1028.

Basically, for units with single speed compressors, the indoor dry bulb temperature in cooling mode is fixed at 80°F and the outdoor dry bulb temperature is set at 82 and 95°F. In heating mode, the indoor dry bulb temperature is 70°F and the outdoor dry bulb temperature is set at 47, 35 and 17°F.

I can't imagine how an older 13 SEER unit could possibly outperform a new 16 SEER model, unless there is an deliberate mismatch of their respective A-coils. Perhaps your debating partner can cite verified "real world" examples to support his argument; otherwise, you're shadow boxing.



You're most welcome, Nick. If it's helpful, I mentioned that one of our heat pumps is a Sanyo KHS1271. This particular model has a nominal heating capacity of 14,300 BTU at 43°F. At 23°F, its heat output falls to 11,050 BTU and at 13°F it produces 9,560 BTU -- 77.3 and 66.8 per cent of its rated capacity respectively. At 14°F/-10°C, it draws approximately 1.2 kW, so its COP at this point is still a respectable 2.33. [Calculations based on data contained in http://us.sanyo.com/dynamic/product/Downloads/Service%20KHS%209-12%2071%20Series%20Rev%20D-26430045.pdf.]

The defrost penalty at -10°C is fairly reasonable -- in the order of 3 per cent, so after adjusting for these losses the final number is closer to 2.26. [N.B.: I'm using the correction coefficient found at the bottom of page 2-6 of http://us.sanyo.com/dynamic/product/Downloads/Mini_ECOi_Technical_Data_2... ; although it pertains to Sanyo's Mini-ECOi line, the numbers for the KHS1271 should be similar.]

At $0.118 per kWh, the operating cost of this heat pump at -10°C is approximately 5.22-cents. Last winter, the average cost of natural gas in Nova Scotia during the four coldest months of the year when temperatures routinely fall below -10°C was $13.36 per GJ, i.e., December through March (source: http://www.heritagegas.com/historical-rates.html). Assuming an AFUE of 92 per cent, the cost of natural gas heat is 5.23-cents, which puts these two fuels on par. I should note that we've paid in excess of $20.00 per GJ in past years, so the economic balance point can vary considerably from one year to the next.


Yes, that's helpful. Thanks again.