Drumbeat: August 10, 2010

Analysis: Surge in Chinese investment reshapes Brazil ties

(Reuters) - Surging Chinese investment in Brazil is reshaping ties between the countries as companies seek to secure resources and tap the rising consumer class in Latin America's largest economy.

From virtually nowhere, China has rocketed to become the biggest foreign direct investor in Brazil this year with purchases ranging from iron ore mines to vast tracts of farmland and the electricity grid.

Following similar forays in Africa and other parts of the globe, Chinese firms backed by cheap state financing are seeking a permanent foothold in Brazil, aiming to diversify their income and meet Brazil's acute need for new infrastructure.

New Orleans judge to oversee oil spill cases

(Reuters) - A New Orleans federal judge was chosen on Tuesday to oversee civil lawsuits brought by injured rig workers, commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana will handle oversight of the litigation, according to a special judicial panel.

The Gulf spill: America's worst environmental disaster?

So was the oil spill really "the worst environmental disaster" in U.S. history?

Disasters are hard to rank and tricky to compare, historians say, but they cite several calamities that rival or surpass the Gulf oil spill in terms of lives lost or affected.

Wind Is Strong, But Natural Gas, Transmission Line Issues Loom

"We're growing dramatically," Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff scientist Ryan Wiser said of the wind industry's 2009 performance. "We're on a path to achieve much higher levels of wind." This is in stark contrast to wind's 2010 first half performance, which American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode characterized as "dismal."

The 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report, by Wiser and Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), describes a record-breaking 2009. Yet a 71 percent drop in installation in the first half of 2010 forebodes a completely different kind of year. Things will pick up in the second half, but the forecast is for a 20 percent to 45 percent year-on-year reversal. Careful scrutiny of the LBNL report turns up possible telltale signs of the turnaround that are an indication of things to come.

Only 16 electric cars sold in Spain despite government push

The good news: Spain's ambitious electric-car effort has spurred 16 times as many sales of electric cars this year as last. The bad news -- that's just 16, total, so far this year, vs. 1 last year, the Associated Press reports from Madrid.

Burning Russia battles to defend nuclear sites

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia fought a deadly battle Tuesday to prevent wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the air in a water-bombing plane to join the firefighting effort.

Two soldiers were killed by blazing trees as they strove to put out a fire dangerously close to Russia's main nuclear research centre, while workers were also mobilised to fight blazes near a nuclear reprocessing plant.

Solving the world's hunger and obesity crises together

About 30 years ago, a few key things happened that changed American and global agriculture.

First, our farms consolidated after the oil crisis of the 1970s and focused more on growing highly subsidized commodities such as corn, soy and wheat. Concurrently, we began to cut international agriculture development aid. Since 1980, U.S. development aid for African farmers has fallen by 85 percent.

With American farmers producing lots of excess corn, soy and wheat and farmers in the poorest parts of the world receiving less support, the way we've eaten here and around the world has changed in the past 30 years.

Food Insecurity Rising in America

Food insecurity is on the rise. In 2008, 14.6 percent of U.S. households fell into the food-insecure category at some point during the year—the highest rate since the Department of Agriculture started recording stats in 1995. At the same time, legislation to improve childhood nutrition is now making its way through Congress. Last week the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which provides $4.5 billion over 10 years to bolster the government’s child-nutrition programs, including school meals. The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a Christian nonprofit focused on ending hunger worldwide, has been closely following the legislation. He talked with senior writer Claudia Kalb. Excerpts:

Gulf of Mexico oil to fall 120,000 bpd in 2011 - EIA

(Reuters) - Crude oil output in the Gulf of Mexico should fall an average of 120,000 barrels per day next year mostly due to the six-month drilling moratorium, the top U.S. oil forecaster said on Tuesday.

U.S. EIA forecasts higher China oil demand growth

(Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday raised its forecast for China oil demand growth this year by 80,000 barrels per day to 650,000 bpd from the agency's prior estimate.

BP's relief well work delayed by 2-3 days-U.S. gov't

(Reuters) - BP Plc's work on its relief well in the Gulf of Mexico will be delayed two to three days due to the threat of stormy weather, the government's top official for the spill response said on Tuesday.

"There's going to be a delay of two to three days until the weather passes," Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told a media briefing.

Oil reserves are plentiful, says Aramco chief

The head of Saudi Aramco has brushed aside 'peak oil' concerns, saying the world has plentiful supply of oil and gas, with a vast quantity of known reserves yet to be tapped and additional resources still to be discovered.

Speaking at the Oxford Energy Forum, Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih said that off-and-on fears that the world's oil resources are about to be exhausted are baseless, according to a report by Saudi Press Agency.

Al-Falih said geological evidence proved that the energy-hungry world can still bank on between 6 and 8 trillion barrels of conventional oil and natural gas liquids and about 7 trillion barrels of unconventional oil.

Analysis: O&G Reserves Grow Despite Upstream Spending Decline

All categories of upstream spending declined in 2009 and total costs incurred fell 47 percent from $139.8 billion in 2008 to $73.4 billion in 2009, Ernst & Young reported in its U.S. E&P Benchmark study of the exploration and production results of 50 companies from 2005 to 2009.

Spending was impacted by the declines in oil and gas prices and by lingering issues in the credit markets. Total costs incurred plummeted in 2009 by 47 percent from $139.8 billion in 2008 to $73.4 billion in 2009.

Petroleum items’ scarcity looms as floods shut Parco

KARACHI: The flood-hit Pak Arab Refinery, the country’s largest in terms of production, could lead to a shortage of petroleum products if the plant remained shut for too long, industry officials have warned.

Parco, known as the mid-country refinery because of its location at Mahmood Kot in Punjab, had to be closed on Saturday after floodwater entered its plants. The 100,000 barrels per day refinery meets most of the requirements of Punjab and Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa.

Pakistan Flood Halts Gas Production From Qadirpur

(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s production of natural gas from the Qadirpur field was halted after the area was submerged by flood waters, adding to the country’s power shortage.

“Gas supply has stopped from Qadirpur and this has increased the shortfall of fuel, increasing the electricity deficit by 1,500 megawatts a day,” Raja Parvez Ashraf, minister for power, told reporters in Islamabad today.

Pakistan floods drown economy hopes

KARACHI - The floods scouring through Pakistan, in a catastrophe that may be bigger than the combined effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 Kashmir and 2010 Haiti earthquakes, are throwing into doubt all forecasts for an economy already struggling to survive amid terrorism, high inflation and widespread grinding poverty.

The political outlook is also increasingly dark. President Asif Ali Zardari is facing heavy criticism after being in the United Kingdom and France while flood waters ripped a 1,000 kilometer path of destruction from the far northwest to southern Sindh province. The standing of the military, which is spearheading relief efforts, has by comparison climbed. Religious groups are also welcomed by desperate citizens for the help they are providing.

Gasoline Declines After Reports Signal Slowing Fuel Demand in China, U.S.

Gasoline fell as reports that U.S. worker productivity slipped in the second quarter and China’s oil imports dropped indicated declining fuel demand.

Gasoline sank as the Labor Department reported that the measure of employee output per hour decreased at a 0.9 percent annual rate, the first drop since the end of 2008. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, reduced net imports of crude- oil in July from a record high in June.

“Risk is coming off the table as people fear slowing growth in the U.S. as well as China,” said James Cordier, portfolio manager at OptionSellers.com in Tampa, Florida.

Gulf oil spill raises fears about economic future for Mexico

WASHINGTON – The Mexican government hasn't said much about the BP oil spill. Some analysts tie the reticence to an awareness that the spill holds worrying implications for Mexico's economic future.

"The spill compromises Mexico's strategy" for restoring its sagging oil production, said Lourdes Melgar, an energy consultant who worked in Mexico's Secretariat of Energy. "The cost will be higher and the regulations more stringent."

PDVSA all lies?

In the past years, Venezuela's oil company PDVSA has been under a lot of heat due of its lack of credibility in the amount of oil production it reports, this year has come under scrutiny on its grand scheme of Orinoco's belt investments by foreign companies, and just last week PDVSA has come up with a very questionable financial review for its performance in 2009. The reality is that it looks like PDVSA is lying in everything it said, here are some recent opinion articles that stress this point.

PDVSA to Sell $3 Billion of Dollar Bonds in Fourth Quarter, Barclays Says

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA will sell $3 billion of bonds in the fourth quarter, Barclays Plc said.

Ivanhoe drops on high costs

Canadian heavy oil producer Ivanhoe Energy reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, hurt by higher general and administrative expenses.

BP stops drilling on relief well due weather

(Reuters) - BP Plc on Tuesday suspended work on a relief well aiming to bore into its blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well because of bad weather, a spokesman said.

Lester Brown on rising temperatures and rising food prices

ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2010, at 11 a.m. EDT, in advance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s world grain harvest estimate on Thursday, environmental analyst Lester Brown will discuss the heat and drought currently decimating Russia’s grain crops, what Russia’s loss on grain exports means for world food prices and how this calamity foreshadows future climate-related crises.

Call to ban corn-based ethanol production

China's biggest non-state oil enterprise urged the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to impose a ban on using corn to produce ethanol fuel.

Zhao Youshan, chairman of the Oil Flow Commission of the China General Chamber of Commerce, told the Beijing Times that they have submitted a letter to the NDRC in an attempt to ban corn-based ethanol production, because it has pushed up corn prices at home and turned China into a corn-importing country in the first half of this year from previously a corn-exporting country.

China will Produce 15 million Green Energy Cars in 2020

China’s annual production of clean energy automobiles, including electric cars, hybrid energy vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars and solar cars, will increase to 15 million units by 2020, a Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday (August 10, 2010).

Unstoppable Rise in Kazakh Uranium Production

LONDON (IDN) – The central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, which laid claim to being the world's top uranium producing country in 2009, surpassing both Canada's and Australia, is continuing to make giant strides.

The country, greater than Western Europe, has 15 percent of the world's uranium resources. In 2009, it contributed almost 28 percent of the world production in 2009.

Suniva Chief Argues Solar Sky Isn’t Falling

The up-and-coming solar panel maker Suniva has expanded its plant near Atlanta three times and is sold out of its 2010 capacity of 170 megawatts. The company has applied for a Department of Energy loan to build a 400-megawatt plant in Michigan and Suniva Chief Executive John Baumstark says he could sell all that out too.

So from where he sits, all the worry on Wall Street (as chronicled by the likes of me) about collapsing panel prices and the end of profitability for solar panel makers is much ado about nothing. “I’m just not seeing it,” he says.

Bare-knuckled environmentalism won't save the planet

A renewable energy breakthrough is, perhaps, decades away. Climate-change activists' calls for lawmakers to hasten the process are wasting our time and money.

Atlantic Hotter Than Before Katrina, Boosting Storm Forecasts

William Gray, who pioneered seasonal hurricane forecasting at Colorado State University 26 years ago, rings a bell each Aug. 20 and tells colleagues, “I have been appointed by Chicken Little to inform you that the heart of the hurricane season has begun.”

This year, Gray and meteorologists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center say there’s more reason for concern that the sky will fall than any time since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. At least 15 more “named” storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or more will develop before the 2010 season ends, Colorado State researchers predict.

Crude Declines on Signs of Slowing Fuel Demand in U.S., China

Oil fell in New York on signs that fuel demand in the U.S. and China, the two largest energy consumers, is faltering as the economic recovery slows.

Crude fell below $80 a barrel for the first time in a week after a report showed that confidence among U.S. small businesses fell in July to the lowest level in four months. An Energy Department report tomorrow is likely to show that gasoline inventories remain near their highest in six weeks, according to a Bloomberg survey, even as the summer driving season reaches its peak. China’s crude imports slumped 15 percent in July from June, preliminary government data showed.

China's Crude Imports Fall From Record as Slower Economy Curbs Fuel Demand

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, reduced net imports of crude-oil in July from a record reached in June as slower economic growth curbed fuel demand.

Net crude purchases fell to 18.8 million metric tons, or 4.5 million barrels a day, from an all-time high of 22.1 million tons the previous month, according to preliminary data released today by the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs. This compares with 19.2 million tons in July last year.

Gas prices likely to hold steady through August

Motorists planning a late-summer getaway should find gasoline prices little-changed through August.

An oil price rally caused the week-over-week increase, but prices aren't likely to rise much more because supplies are still ample and demand hasn't improved much this summer, analysts say.

Petrol prices up £7 a tank on last year

Petrol prices are up by 14p a litre, or £7 a tank, compared with this time last year, amid warnings of further increases over the summer holidays.

Commodities to Tumble as Consumer `Blob' Eats Credit

Commodities may skid 43 percent over the next 16 months, returning to the four-year low of February 2009, as deflationary concerns commandeer financial markets and drain credit, said Walter J. Zimmerman Jr., the chief technical analyst at United-ICAP in Jersey City, New Jersey.

What’s Really Driving The Price Of Oil?

The Internet tends to be a Wild West of opinions on investing, but I think some of the best work actually documenting and comparing the various sources of information on energy and petroleum is over at The Oil Drum. Now, to be clear, they don’t claim to be an unbiased news source; their bent is pretty firmly in the peak oil camp. But they regularly feature dissenting voices and academic debate, and consolidate raw data, regardless of whose point it makes.

One of the site’s best regular features is the Oilwatch, a monthly consolidation of new oil statistics. Cruising through last week’s issue, I was struck by this chart:

Saudi Arabian Oil to Supply Full Volumes to Asia for Loading in September

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest state-owned oil company, will supply full contractual volumes of crude to Asia for loading in September, according to refinery officials.

U.S. Refiners Cut Oil Processing Rates, Analysts Estimate

U.S. refiners probably cut back on crude-oil processing last week as profit margins sank to the lowest level in five months, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Refineries probably ran at 90.7 percent of nationwide capacity, down 0.5 percentage point from the prior week, the median of 11 analyst estimates showed before a government report tomorrow. The margin for refining oil into the motor fuel, based on New York futures prices, fell to $7.505 a barrel yesterday, the lowest level since Feb. 17.

China Builds Biggest Fuel-Oil Blending Base at Daya Bay, Chinanews Reports

China started building what would become its biggest fuel-oil blending center at Daya Bay in the southern province of Guangdong, Chinanews reported, without saying where it got the information.

S. Korean firm hits oil reserves in northern Iraq

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea's state-run petroleum company said Tuesday it has discovered crude oil reserves in two blocks it is exploring in northern Iraq.

The Maeil Business Newspaper said the reserves in the Bazian and Sangaw North blocks in the Kurdistan autonomous region are estimated to total two billion barrels.

Brazil seeks high crude price in oil swap-report

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Brazilian government should charge Petrobras as much as possible for crude reserves to be used in an oil-for-shares swap to maximize benefits for the nation, the head of the country's energy regulator said in comments published on Tuesday.

ONGC eyes Rosneft joint bid for Russia fields - paper

MOSCOW (Reuters) – State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp has proposed to Russian major Rosneft that the two jointly bid for strategic Trebs and Titov fields in the Arctic north, Vedomosti reported on Tuesday.

Iraq oil hub Basra hoping to see its share of wealth

Most of Iraq's oil exports come from the fields around Basra, but residents complain they have seen little benefit.

A recent series of huge oil deals that Baghdad struck with global firms to develop its vast reserves has generated much hype as oil and service companies build bases in Iraq's desert.

Iran threatens to drop trade in 'filthy' foreign currencies

Iran planned to stop all trade and oil exports in dollars and euros in retaliation against Western sanctions over its nuclear program, a top official said Tuesday.

"We are going to remove dollar and euro from our foreign currency basket and replace them with [Iranian] rial and all other currencies of the countries which accept to cooperate with us," leading economic daily newspaper Doniye e-Ektesad quoted First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying. "These currencies are filthy, and we will no longer sell our oil in dollar and euro," Rahimi reportedly told a meeting of education officials.

Iran scraps second LNG project: report

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has scrapped a second liquefied natural gas (LNG) project which was to be executed by French energy giant Total, a report said on Monday, after a similar facility to the Anglo-Dutch Shell was recently dropped.

UN warns of contamination due to leaking Niger Delta oil wells

Geneva/Abuja - Hundreds of oil well leaks caused by thieves in Nigeria's Niger Delta could be setting off an environmental catastrophe, the United Nations warned Tuesday.

'This is not directly comparable to the spills that occurred in the Gulf (of Mexico),' said Mike Cowing, from the UN's environmental programme (UNEP) in Geneva. 'But we have a serious and profound problem.'

BP moves to well kill and kicks off compensation fund

MIAMI/HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP advanced on the final lap toward permanently killing the source of the world's worst offshore oil spill and kicked off a $20 billion compensation fund with a $3 billion deposit on Monday.

A relief well being drilled by BP is on track to start a definitive "bottom kill" shutdown of the crippled Gulf of Mexico well this week, unless an approaching weather system disrupts the timing, the top U.S. oil spill response official said.

Bermuda insurance market foots hefty bill for rig loss

Bermuda's insurance industry will have to foot the bill for at least $137.4 million for the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil platform spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the companies' second-quarter earnings reports.

As oil spill ends, are Gulf Coast economic woes just beginning?

BP says it will stay for years, but some oil spill relief operations are winding down. The loss of BP jobs, along with the drilling moratorium, could mean tough times for the Gulf Coast.

Simmons, energy investment banker, dies in Maine

An autopsy by the state medical examiner's office concluded Monday that he died from accidental drowning with heart disease as a contributing factor.

Matthew Simmons, Who Said Global Crude Production Has Peaked, Dies at 67

“In the history of the petroleum era, Matt Simmons will be remembered for calling attention to ‘peak oil,’” T. Boone Pickens, chairman of BP Capital LLC, said in an e-mailed statement. “You had to admire his advocacy and his ability to focus on the need to better prepare for a new energy future.”

Emergency medical workers responded to Simmons’s home a little before 10 p.m. local time yesterday, said John Dietter, a crew chief in North Haven, Maine. The official cause of death is drowning, and he was found in a hot tub, said Tara Harrington, medical associate at Maine’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

Oil’s Cassandra dies but his questions live on

Peak Oil has lost its leading prophet with the death of Houston banker Matt Simmons. Since many nations refuse to share detailed oil data it may be years before his warnings of ebbing production are vindicated — or discredited. But his crusade for more information on supplies is as urgent as ever.

Matthew Simmons, peak oil proponent, dies at 67

The energy world lost one of its most provocative thinkers this weekend: Matthew Simmons, a former investment banker and adviser to President George W. Bush, who died of a heart attack at his home in Maine last night.

For the past five years, Simmons, 67, had been the premier pessimist in an industry that, on the main, tends towards optimism. He was arguably the most thoughtful and influential advocate of the idea that the world's steadily increasing appetite for petroleum would lead to peak oil -- the point at which production capacity can no longer ramp up to accommodate increasing demand -- and that it would happen sooner rather than later.

Matthew Simmons, Noted Energy Banker, Dies at 67

The death of Matthew R. Simmons, the founder of Simmons & Company International, a boutique energy investment bank, has stunned the tight-knit energy banking community.

Some peak oil followers dispute Simmons Macondo statements

Some followers of the peak oil theory had recently taken issue with comments by leading proponent Matt Simmons, who died Sunday, over the effects of the Macondo spill and had begun to question his credibility.

...Art Berman, a geological consultant and contributor to the Oil Drum blog, a leading web platform of the peak oil school, stressed that his "abiding feeling" for Simmons was one of "great respect. Obviously it's a loss of a great voice and a great leader," he said.

Robert Bryce - Death of A Gentleman: Matthew Simmons Dead at 67

Matt Simmons was hard working. He loved to talk about energy issues and weigh in on big subjects. He was passionate about his work. But more than all of that, he was a real gentleman. I will miss him.

SPECIAL FEATURE: A Conversation With Matt Simmons

The famed investment adviser and author of Twilight in the Desert shares his views on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, peak oil, and his newest passion, renewable energy.

China, on cusp of superpower, faces environmental strain

BEIJING — This year, China will leapfrog Japan to become the second-biggest economy on Earth, behind only the USA, predicts Ting Lu, a China economist with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. Next month, China starts broadcasts on CNN and other networks of an image-boosting commercial featuring stars such as basketballer Yao Ming and China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei.

Back at ground level, though, in what remains a developing country, China's people and government are struggling to deal with a series of natural disasters that some environmentalists believe are the deadly, man-made consequences of favoring economic growth over environmental protection.

New Jersey Halts Oyster Restoration Project

Oysters, which can act as natural water filters but also absorb toxins from their habitat, present something of a Catch-22: scientists say that growing them could play a major role in returning the bay to health, but state regulators, obliged to prevent dangerous seafood from reaching consumers, say the water is too polluted to allow it.

Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover

LISBON — Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects — primarily harnessing the country’s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves.

Today, Lisbon’s trendy bars, Porto’s factories and the Algarve’s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

Palm oil giant hits back at Greenpeace

AFP - Indonesia's biggest palm oil producer says it has been cleared of allegations made by environmental group Greenpeace that it had destroyed high conservation-value forests on Borneo.

A report commissioned by SMART, part of the Singapore-listed Sinar Mas agri-business group, found that it was not to blame for widespread destruction of Borneo's forests as repeatedly alleged by Greenpeace, the company said on Tuesday.

Butter Holds the Secret to the Latest Biodiesel Fuel

Butter is not the fuel of the future, but it is possible to churn perfectly good diesel fuel out of it.

“It was something we wanted to show could be done,” said Michael J. Haas, a research biochemist at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Wind farm projects begin moving

Electricity Supply Board (ESB) has announced two major advances in its Northern Ireland wind farm portfolio.

Work on the Curryfree wind farm project in County Londonderry begins this week and is due to be completed by August next year.

Lithium: The Next Frontier in Alternative Energy

With peak oil occupying the minds of energy experts and the Gulf oil spill acting as a painful reminder of the dangers posed to the environment by our unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels, a rejuvenated interest in alternative energy is sweeping the nation. Electric and hybrid vehicles are currently the most viable alternative to gas-powered engines, and Lithium-Ion batteries are the most viable means of powering them.

Lithium, the lightweight silver-white alkali metal that stores energy in lithium-ion batteries, has been attracting growing attention from automotive and energy companies over the past several years and the mineral’s meteoric rise to global prominence is seemingly set to continue unabated as a new generation of electric cars begins rolling off the assembly line.

Book Review – Power Grab

It’s been a year and a half since President Obama took office and there are definitely mixed emotions on how effective he has or hasn’t been. One area where many people have been critical is with regards to his green policies. One such critic is Christopher Horner, who has written a book with the central theme that Obama’s green polices are the worst thing that has happened to our country over the past two years. Power Grab, How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America, has two major tenets: that climate change is a farce, and that the green policies and programs that are being developed to curb climate change will ruin our lives and our country.

EPA clamps down on cement plant pollution

After 12 years and four lawsuits, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday for the first time set rules governing how much mercury and other pollutants existing cement plants can release.

The agency says the rules will cut mercury emissions by these plants by 92%, particulate matter by 92% and sulfur dioxide by 78%, saving $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in costs.

Iceberg as a Metaphor for Inaction

Greenland as a whole is rapidly warming, and its vast ice sheet has lost more than 1.5 trillion tons of ice over the last decade, studies show.

And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010 is on its way to becoming the hottest year in the modern instrument record.

But scientists are divided over whether the formation of the new “ice island” should be directly attributed to global warming, as Andy Revkin reports at the Dot Earth blog.

Rice yields falling under global warming

Global warming is cutting rice yields in many parts of Asia, according to research, with more declines to come.

Yields have fallen by 10-20% over the last 25 years in some locations.

The group of mainly US-based scientists studied records from 227 farms in six important rice-producing countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, India and China.

This is the latest in a line of studies to suggest that climate change will make it harder to feed the world's growing population by cutting yields.

Stocks to open down on Chinese growth worries

Concerns about demand from China grew after figures showed that while the country’s exports grew strongly in July, import growth fell. Imports rose by 22.7 per cent in the year to July against 34.1 per cent in the year to June and expectations for an increase of 30 per cent.

"Unusually uncertain" weather conditions coupled with an "unusually uncertain" economic outlook. 2010 could be shaping up to be a crueler than usual fall (autumn/tumble?).

China Tells Banks to Take Back Trust Firms Loans, People Say

China’s banking regulator ordered banks to transfer off-balance-sheet loans onto their books and make provisions for those that may default, three people with knowledge of the situation said.

The assets linked to wealth management products provided by trust companies must be shifted onto banks’ balance sheets by the end of 2011, the people said, declining to be identified as the matter isn’t public. Lenders should prepare provisions equal to 150 percent of potential losses, they said.

If I understand that correctly, it sounds like China is being more financially responsible than the US.

I wonder what would happen to the financial system in the US if our government made our banks do the same thing.

And what if they also rescinded FASB 157, and banks had to mark-to-market again.

No more "extend and pretend" ...

(edit - no more capital available to finance "extend and pretend.")

There’s a Chinese saying that translates to; "if the old doesn’t go, the new doesn’t come" , usually associated with their new year.

A recent post about China closing thousands of outdated, unproductive or unprofitable factories combined with this news tells me that China is pruning their economic tree. Perhaps their leadership envisions a leaner (if not meaner) China.

Best hopes for more "Eastern Wisdom", here in the West.

Atlantic Hotter Than Before Katrina, Boosting Storm Forecasts

Yeah, I know, I've lived in South Florida for 13 years now...

Ho hum!


Well I have only lived in Northwest Florida for six years now and it is hotter, or at least it seems that way to me.

And seeming to confirm that story that more storms are forming comes from NOAA National Hurricane Center. Checking in with them this morning I was surprised to learn that the small low pressure area over South Florida has now moved slightly West and now has a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane.


If this does strengthen it looks like it will move right over the spill site and perhaps right through the rest of the oil fields. But they have not posted a projected path yet.

Ron P.

Wunderground has some projected paths. Not that they mean that much this early on.

Ron, to be very clear I don't downplay the risks of even a tropical depression. I've been through a few full blown hurricanes and am fully aware of the risks and consequences. Furthermore even late last year I was already aware that this year was shaping up to be a doozy!

As for:

Checking in with them this morning I was surprised to learn that the small low pressure area over South Florida has now moved slightly West and now has a 60% chance of becoming a hurricane.

Given the water temps this year I'm not surprised at all that a storm can suddenly intensify and become a threat in a very short time and even if it is still quite close to shore. As a matter of fact it is still quite gray, rainy and blustery outside my window this morning.

All my usual joking aside, I'd say all of us down here had better be extra vigilant and prepared this year. I'd think we'd better batten down the hatches, secure the mainsail and tie down all loose objects on the decks...

Hey....I live in South Florida. With the job market in the tank here, a few good CAT 3's would give us a little shot in the arm.

Happy days!!!!

Might as well get that money while the gettin's good.


I would probably benefit as well, I build and sell emergency solar powered generators.

I've calmed down since my frustration meter pegged out on the Net Energy thread yesterday. I am frustrated and angry that time and effort are spent arguing about how many joules fit on the head of a pin rather than addressing reality. That reality is that BAU is dead meat. And, within BAU I include not only energy but also governance, finance, agriculture and infrastructure.

How many reports by individuals and organization does it take to start to prioritize where society really needs to be heading? One obvious point is that a society built on consumer spending is no longer viable and, perhaps, was never viable. So where do we go from here? And, it does make a huge difference regarding our decisions as to our ultimate goal.

Do we do away with the "market" economy and, if so, what do we replace it with? Do we accept that there will never again be "full" employment and, if so, what do we do with people who have no work and, therefore, income? These are not trivial questions since we have a limited amount of time and capital to make necessary changes.

In the case of energy, does it make more sense to actually ration power rather than replacing or increasing energy infrastructure? And, if energy is rationed, will this lead to more energy efficiency? Further, could this be done in a truly egalitarian way? Or, perhaps, money should be spent to subsidize retrofitting homes and businesses. I don't know because we have never had this conversation.

But, any thrust for change must be predicated upon the reality that people have psychological (and maybe genetic) biases that lead them to reject even minor change. How do we overcome this? Again, we haven't had that conversation.

It's too late to take the easy path but we are going to take a fork in the road whether we want to or not.

Well, I guess I'll shut up for now.


Todd, I love you man but you need to take things a little less seriously and just roll with the tide. Here is exactly what we are going to do: Before the fact we are going to do absolutely nothing. Only events will cause any action by any government in the world. Before events happen, the deniers will carry the day, just as they have always done.

You were getting close when you wrote this:

But, any thrust for change must be predicated upon the reality that people have psychological (and maybe genetic) biases that lead them to reject even minor change.

But then you completely blew it:

How do we overcome this?

Good God man, we do not overcome this. You may persuade one or two people by presenting them with undeniable facts, but that is about all. You cannot change the world with any logical argument. Only events will change the world.

After oil starts to decline rapidly people will act.
After the earth starts to warm a lot more people will act.
After the economy crashes people will try to fix it.
After... Well, you get the idea.

Ron P.

And After they respond they will find out that it is too late.

And say it was someone else's fault

And then come the zombies.

ROTFLMAO! Back to square one, so to speak.

Don't forget about Peak Zombie...there must be a limit to the amount of infections they can carry out.

Before the fact we are going to do absolutely nothing. Only events will cause any action by any government in the world.

When I read my first book on peak oil, it was Twilight in Desert by M. Simmons, in which he wrote about the need for a Plan B when oil begins depleting from world peak production, or at least when the Saudi's can no longer make available more oil to satisfy greater growth.

However, since coming to understand peak oil and its many economic ramifications, I have the same sense of it as you Ron, that nothing will happen by virtue of information, but rather by events that force action to take place.

For whatever reason, society is still not capable of understanding a situation intellectually and acting on it, but rather needs to feel the situation changing emotionally and painfully by way of events to start moving in a new direction. Evidently the old brain, the lizard brain, is still in full control of factors relating to survival.

Like an article recently stated. A bear finds a bee hive. Does it save any honey for later? No, it eats it all at one sitting due to it being hardwired for survival in the moment. And does humankind save any resources for later? No, we make as much money on them as fast as possible, because we are hardwired the same as the bear.

nothing will happen by virtue of information, but rather by events that force action to take place.

I agree with this... and would add that by virtue of the speed with which the changes are taking place, and will continue to take place, there will be no way to prevent the 'worst case scenario' in AGW, Peak Oil, economics, hygronomy, hydrology and general population overshoot. With no less that 6 uncontrollable crises taking place simultaneously, our systems will simply overload and stop working.

As for making money on them, I fail to see what good money will do at that time. Only using it to position yourself in a lucky locale (I have given up trying to predict where survival is most likely, or where conditions will be least harsh) will do.

Best wishes for lucky guesses.


Before the fact we are going to do absolutely nothing.

Today's DrumBeat has an amazing story about how Portugal has moved to 45% renewable electricity in a decade, something many on the Oil Drum would argue is not possible. They have done a whole lot more than absolutely nothing.

But if they had convinced themselves that they were going to "do absolutely nothing" then that self-fulfilling prophecy would very likely have come true.

Specific Examples, Tommy? That means it's purely Anecdotal.. no, I insist on getting some Broad Pessimistic Generalizations before I can be persuaded to keep supporting what I already believe!

Like 'No good deed goes unpunished.' Therefore, Portugal will have to pay.. and then 'Game Over!'

I always have a laugh with my friends (we are only Spanish after all) that "Anticipation" is not a word in the English language.

Churchill's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/While_England_Slept
President Kennedy's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_England_Slept

Well just 4 starters,


Staging of 1 megawatt of very distributed Grid Tie PV. 2000+ locations - ~500 watts each. Each pallet is 30 - SW245 watt modules,7.35kW peak, each pallet will average 882 kWh into the grid per month. Modules are only 34 mm tall - allowing 30 per pallet. Shipping now are 250 watt modules, Just 4 modules = 1kW rated ! >= 120kWh per month for decades. When you get efficient, you can do much with Solar Power.

Who shot JR Anyway?



Now we just need to continue to see the US$/watt for PV continue to become more and more price-competitive with BAU FF costs: win-win :)

For me, 1kw PV system would peak-load run on a bright sunny summer day: my little 500w window A/C nicely, and the fridge too!

There is no reason that Modern Air Conditioning design can't incorporate a Variable DC input (Max Power Point tracking circuit)
Like a Grundfoss SQFlex pump, expect someone to do it soon. That way just need Panels and the AC, no other stuff,
PV panels seem cheap compared to just a few months back, efficiency in use is more important than PV panel costs.
You just don't want to waste power on that old dog of a fridge.

FERC mandates that coal is dispatch fist, it will take a Feed in Tariff to free the Grid, Net metering is not much of an incentive. IMO , not need to incentive from tax $ at all, a few pennies from the rate base above market for 10 years is enough. One can put Nat Gas in the pipeline and take it out with transport costs in another state, can't do that with the Grid. Enron and the Government really fracked up Electrical deregulation, unless you own lots of stock in IOU's.


Whoa! Are you a distributor for SolarWorld?!

Can I get a price break? I'm a tiny solar start up company in South Florida my email is in my profile drop me a line if you can do something. If the price is right I know a couple of installers and resellers who might be interested too.

Todd, you might want to read Jay Hanson's analysis of what would need to be done to mitigate the net energy collapse:

AMERICA 2.0: Constitutional Politics

Jay is one hell of a brilliant guy and has spent 20 years thinking about these issues more or less full time. I see virtually no chance of us implementing any sort of non-violent, non-catastrophic solutions, and neither does Jay. The third chimpanzee didn't evolve to solve the overshoot problem.

I think richard duncan's olduvai theory will end up being accurate.

For review see:

The rolling blackouts for the industrial nations is only a few years away... is there time to develop and deploy that "Smart Grid" mentioned in recent TOD drumbeats ???

Maybe this is good news for the planet and our descendants.

I think the faster our Industrial Disease progresses, the faster the Global Village collapses, the better off will be our descendants.

Mother Nature gave us enough rope to hang ourselves. And we are very busy doing just that.

The balckouts are a result of politics, not capability. As long as it is impossible to construct new power plants and as long as hydro power is being reduced, expect blackouts ot increase. Then let them blame the power companies for not comming across with the electricity when the light switch goes on at home. The pols will never take the blame.

Gotta blame someone. That'll fix it.

I enjoyed the article link in yesterday's Drumbeat about fellow off-grid North Carolinians.

After a snowstorm they weren't even aware of a major power outage until friends started showing up at their place. That's usually how it is with me. Sometimes I notice that the security light on the ridge about 3 miles away isn't on, or that the stars in the direction of town are unusually bright.

I strongly suspect that privatization of public utilities has played a big part in the deterioration of the electric grid in the US. I believe Jay Hanson writes about this. The private companies cut cost to the bone to maximize profits. They aren't answerable to their customers, only to their shareholders.

More like an opposite of brilliant. What utter trash and nonsense.

A sad, semi-literate attempt to reintroduce Communism 2.0, without solving any of communism's rather obvious problems.

When I read stuff like that from native born Americans it only reinforces my growing conviction that nothing constructive is going to happen.

Dimitry, you need to explain your rant. Calling a person "semi-literate" is an ad hominem attack and the opposite of constructive criticism, not to mention that all ad hominem attacks are the epitome of the opposite of brilliance. Ad hominem attacks are made by people who cannot muster enough logic to make a logical argument.

If you can't answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
- Elbert Hubbard

Ron P.

Ad hominem attacks are made by people who cannot muster enough logic to make a logical argument.

the most deranged conspiracy theory wingnut that believes this crap .... The most hairbrained conspiracy theory will find an audience on the internet.

Good thing you are above such.

Thanks for your august and civil critique and behavioral recommendation.

Next time, I will try to devote many hours of my time refuting a "paper" with cartoons and funny fonts and colors that advocates a form of benevolent communism "consistent with American constitution", which is devoid of any explanation of how widely known defficiencies of coummunist economic distribution system are to be addressed. A system under which I had lived for a number of years, but the author of this screed obviously has not.

Where does it stop? Does one have to "refudiate" any nonsense out there before it considered "possibly not quite right"? From "death panels" to "government goods distribution", our public discourse is filled with nonsensical junk, thrown in there from honest ignorance and evil intent.

It really is quite hopeless. And I don't want to see another Anything 2.0 - it is really lame.

Most of us did not have the "advantage" of experiencing the shortcomings of this distributions system, so maybe you could point out the most glaring problems with it, ideally with a bit of analysis about how these problems arose and how they might be mitigated.

Honestly, lots of Americans are starting to realize that the systems that got us into this rut are not going to get us out of it (or even serve very well in surfing down the PO, GW...slopes), but we have not yet formulated clear alternatives. I suspect that it is time to give up on 18th century political philosophies. I think new approaches will need to be much more local and focused on resilience, but I don't have any rigid concept of how a new system might be structured. Specifics about how specific non-capitalistic policies fail could help avoid making the same mistakes.

The main problem, alas, is human nature.

The communist system failed first and foremost due to its inability to manufacture the "new man", i.e. someone who was not primarily motivated by greed/status/wealth/sex. Since that did not occur, the system became quickly corrupted and failed even faster than it would have otherwise. The reason that the "new man" did not arrive, is in retrospect, quite obvious - evolution take a LONG time. However, in the 19 century, when communism was really developed as an economic theory and a social movement, there was a lot of confusion (persisting even today - witness "nation building") relative to societal evolution, due to an infatuation with Darwin's theory of biological evolution. Basically, Darwin's theory was mis-applied to evolution of societies, with an expectation that a change in a political environment will quickly lead to evolving a new species, if you will, one that would underpin and reinforce the new order.

Unfortunately, the other great ISM (the one that became the dominant economic/social system in the world) also mis-applied Darwins' theories, only in the other direction. Capitalism was envisioned as a system perfectly statically ADAPTED to the nature of man, creating a forever stable relationship based on acceptance of greed/status/wealth/sex as the primary motivating forces in the human population. This has lead to a systemic crisis - inability to sustain constant growth in the environment of increasing population and increasing standard of living. Marx's economic analysis was perfectly valid, with the only imprecise variable being the boundaries of the system, with growing contradictions, which he has set too small - national level. Alas, the system has now increased to the edges of our planet, with no further potential to relief the contrdictions via constant growth.

Given the constant politization of these organizational principles into something that approaches religion for most people, it is a near impossibility that a stable hybrid system is embraced by a majority of the population BEFORE large scale violence breaks out. Once that occurs, the path to stability becomes even harder.

As for specific criticism of the communist distribution system, aside for the obvious social ills such as widespread theft and widespread waste, the one that is probably the most well-known is the systemic inability of centralized planning and control to respond to demands of a large scale dynamic system with quickly changing requirements. This is really due to deep informational inefficiencies inherent in centralized control with small number of humans in the loop - there is tons of academic work on this.

Contrary to Hansen's insistence of inefficiencies of the current distribution system, it is highly efficient and has evolved over many, many years. It is generally a reasonable system, though can easily be criticized along the standard social lines. At this point, it has simply ran out of room.

Lysenkoism and inheritance of acquired characteristics was circulating at the time. From Wikipedia, “It is often suggested that Lysenko's success came solely from the desire in the USSR to assert that heredity had only a limited role in human development; that future generations, living under socialism, would be purged of their bourgeois or fascist instincts.” Stalin did some purging but wasn’t well informed of genetics, relying more upon his political instincts.

I can only imagine that selective breeding could create the desired effect in such a short period of time, workers always willing to toil, with a smiles on their faces and requiring little in compenesation. Perhaps the workers of the future will be enslaved in just this manner, by selective breeding, by knocking-out specific genes in our germ cells through vaccination or through some other genetic legerdemain.

I see it more probable that the herd will simply have to be culled in an expeditious manner long before great new plans for man’s future can be implemented. Capitalism and communism will never exist for those ascending the 100 story moai to sacrifice virgins to the celestial Gods upon the geometric bullseyes of a crumbling helicopter pads.

The main problem with Communism is... people are lazy. Its that simple. If you meet the basic needs of each person and give everybody the same share of "rations", regardless of whether they work hard, loaf on the job, or do nothing at all, too many people are going to either loaf or do nothing. When there is no incentive to excel, to go the extra mile, to strive to improve, then most people will just do the bare minimum, punch the clock and call it a day.

On the flip side, the few people who do excel are hated, because they make the majority of loafers look bad. They are persecuted, and the government then increases the expectations and demands on that person. Overachiving is essentially punished, both by coworkers and by the state.

If you want to open your mind a bit, I'd recommend the fictional novel "We the Living" as an interesting perspecive on the joys of living in a Communist nation.

The main problem with Communism is... people are lazy

imo, the main problem with communism is the same as the main problem with capitalism........systems are corrupt.

That doesn't really sound right to me.

During Soviet times, USSR had excellent science (in many, not all disciplines) and even led in the space race for a while. I don't think this was because of laziness or fear.

There are many good books on living under communism, but I tend to stay away from Ayn Rand. Though having lived under communism, I don't feel I need to be additionally educated on that subject.

When I read stuff like that from native born Americans it only reinforces my growing conviction that nothing constructive is going to happen.

I disagree that nothing constructive is going to happen. It is already happening and will continue to do so. It will happen but only after some of what now exists either ceases to function of its own accord or is deliberately demolished.

First two disclaimers:

1) I've only superficially glanced through what Jay Hanson has placed on that web page. I haven't read him in depth.

2) I myself am more of a non ideological anarchist with little faith placed in any of the traditional historical "ISMS" I think they represent dead ends in a long string of historical BAUs none of which hold much promise in an energy constrained future.

So my personal view is that whatever social contracts we will create in the future they will by necessity be based on smaller, less complex, local self governing entities that will trade with other similarly organized semi self sufficient groupings, that will be loosely connected into a network of many such entities. Sort of like the server nodes of the internet. If you knock out a few of them the network still survives. No massive centralized government. Of course there is always still, the very real possibility, of THSHF in a massive way, in which case all bets are off.

What I gathered from Hanson's posting is that he desires a sort of revitalization of the Idealized version of the basic principles upon which the fathers of the America Revolution founded the new republic.

I also think you have to take what he says within the context of him being a product of the "American" culture in which he has by necessity been immersed throughout his life.

I don't read him as being a proponent of a Communism 2.0, but as I said I do not have an in depth familiarity with his thinking and writings.

I guarrantee that you can't even imagine what the path from today to "smaller, less complex, local self governing entities that will trade with other similarly organized semi self sufficient groupings, that will be loosely connected into a network of many such entities" really looks like.

Most native born Americans simply can't envision an actual large scale social unrest and what it will look like in this country. And how this experience will create its own, rather less nice reality they envision for the "end state".

Ah, what's the use...

Gosh, Dimitry, what do suggest we all do :-0

Dimitry - You are right that it is communism 2.0 but that is exactly what it would take to have a real impact on the constraints facing mankind. Sucks Huh!

As for Jay he is indeed very smart, intelligent, wise, and more. He knows it sucks, but he knows also that it represents the only hope we have. Also he is not at all illiterate, he is simply attempting to convey the message in such a way as to reach a broader audience.


And don't forget that Marx was thinking that Communism would address the excesses of Capitalism.

Huh. Marx being right, who'd thunk that?

Most native born Americans simply can't envision an actual large scale social unrest and what it will look like in this country.

Does that include native Americans who were born in Brazil to Hungarian parents? Oh, I've been a US citizen for just over half a century but I also lived in Brazil and Europe during that time, as well as traveled extensively around the world. I have sat across the table from royalty, dug latrines with the poorest of the poor in the slums, negotiated with harden criminals for the lives of hostages and just about everything in between.

Do you believe that no native Americans have had first hand experience with social unrest?

I guarrantee that you can't even imagine what the path from today to "smaller, less complex, local self governing entities that will trade with other similarly organized semi self sufficient groupings, that will be loosely connected into a network of many such entities" really looks like.

Amazing! I thought that tin foil hat I spent so much money on, would keep people like you from being able to read my mind and tap into my imagination. Guess I'll have to ask for a refund.

For the record I have an extremely fertile imagination...but even if I didn't there is extensive historical and anthropological data on numerous human civilizations that we could look at to serve as an example. But since you can read my mind you know what I was thinking and I guess you have discarded those examples as being without merit.

I do agree that there are a lot of black clouds on the horizon for most Americans but at the end of the day they are human with all the good and the bad that that entails... and so are you.

So despite what you may think that your personal life experience may have given you as an edge over most Americans, if I were you I would neither be too quick to judge nor overly confident that you are that much better prepared for the future than they are.

I am not better prepared. I probably don't want to be "prepared" for it.

Privet Dmitry,

Greetings from Seattle and a native-born American mutt who is proud of her ancestors on both sides: the hot-blooded Irish New Englanders who fought in the Revolutionary War and the peasant farmers who immigrated from Russia.

Was the conference in Maryland that depressing? I think you are making a major mistake in porting over too much of Russian culture to American culture. I am curious to hear which of our great writers and poets---similar to Dostoevsky and Pushkin--you've read. How deeply have you examined and pondered the threads that wove this great tapestry called America? Some of those threads are stained now, dirty and tawdry, true, but others have the bright pulsing hues still. Have you truly sought to understand our history, or is it easier to simply mock it and dismiss it, the good along with the bad?

Have you spent any time with people younger than you? In working in sail transport out here, I've had the pleasure of talking recently with a young farmer and a young sailor just entering their twenties: there is a nod of recognition, then we move on to what needs to be done. When I look at the generations behind us, I simultaneously wince at what we leaving them as their inheritance, and feel relieved that they intuitively grok how the narrative needs to change. Solvitur Ambulando ("you’ll find the answer as you go") is what our Salish Sea burgees will be proudly flying as their motto.

I think you underestimate Americans; we are not too far removed from our Jeffersonian past as independent yeoman and women. I think as the intensity and frequency of hard times increase, Americans do have the titanium framework of their very real history and ancestors to draw strength and courage from.

Dmitry, you live in the most liberal, most socialistic area of the US, and maybe it's time to stop being on the Web so much, step away from your too heavy thoughts and onto dry land, and take some concrete action, Transition Massachusetts. I double-dog dare you! (let me know if you need help translating that idiom :-)

The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.
Alexis de Tocqueville

Though I appreciate both a thorough paean to America's diversity and history, as well as offered help with idiomatic English, I have been here since 1977, citizen since 1982 and a proud product of the NYC public school system and MIT. I am fairly well educated and reasonably well-read, at least by local standards.

I would offer in response that you overestimate Americans (i.e. us), in that Jefferesonian past is indeed far removed and forgotten, history is largely unknown/uninteresting and current predicaments ill-understood and endlessly demagogued. I double dare you to ask 10 random Americans to show you on a map of the world the two countries our troops are fighting wars in right now - more than half would "answer" with a blank stare. Try asking what is the approximate US population from the same group - the "answers" will surprise you. Then ask what is the current "Idol" lineup (or whatever is the most popular program) and there you will get the right answers. Now take this extrapolated population, used to a good standard of living and constant municipal serivces, arm them to the teeth, expose them to xenophobic propaganda for a few years and dump them into our likely future of privation. I don't see Jeffereson and Washington, but I do see Father Coughlin and Joe McCarthy.

As to the good advice for community activism, thanks, already taken years ago and continued. It may even do some good...

It was Jay Hanson who introduced me to peak oil and peak net energy way back in the mid-90's. He was way ahead of the curve. It caused me to escape the corporate rat race in 96 and set myself up in a rural area where I may or may not find the coming collapse more bearable. He has done extensive research on human evolutionary psychology which leads him to conclude the only way to mitigate the nightmares is some sort of rationing. That's where America 2.0 comes from in a nut shell. In order to see where he draws his conclusions you really need to do extensive reading at www.dieoff.org as well as a lot of background material.

When you can direct me to a body of work as extensive as Hanson's I'll have more respect for your opinions Dimitry.

You can keep your respect.

Good luck in the rural areas.

The third chimpanzee didn't evolve to solve the overshoot problem.

The fifth Ape is the better term.

How do we overcome this?

By creating a concept that various people can buy into for a variety of reasons (economics, environment, National Security, energy depletion and any others that can be found).

Small and inadequate steps in the right direction may be made in the near future, but the greater goal is to have a focus that when the first moment of panic hits, a good and useful straw is grasped.

A straw that will make things significantly less bad than they would otherwise be.

Developments in the last few weeks (including yesterday :-) have raised my perception of the odds of success to around 30%. Well above the 2% to 3% when I first started.

Best Hopes !


PS: I look back at the coalition that developed to support Prohibition (a MAJOR social change) as a model for what needs to be developed now.

PS: I look back at the coalition that developed to support Prohibition (a MAJOR social change) as a model for what needs to be developed now.

Really now? The Volstead Act, under severe pressure from the temperance movement, became the proposed 18th Amendment in 1917. It was ratified in 1919 and became law in 1920. It had the support of every Bible thumping, hatchet waving fundamentalist in America. And at that time these folks were a strong majority. They got what they wanted, for awhile anyway.

To put it in your terms Alan, they created a concept that people could buy into. That concept was: "Outlaw demon rum or burn in hell forever." The fundamentalists, who were a strong majority at the time, chose to outlaw demon rum.

And this is the MAJOR change that gives you faith that the world will adapt the necessary changes that will save the world as the availability of fossil fuels plunge out of sight? This is the model that gives you hope?

Lotsa luck with that one fella.

Ron P.

As the Repugs drift ever further toward being the Party of No, is this their replacement?


Looks like the Tea Party "movement" is actually attempting to enter the ring as a new entity. There's a link to the national platform, which shows that the fundi's are trying to take hold of the reins again...

E. Swanson

No, the Constitution Party is a separate entity. They have been around for a while, I believe they ran Chuck Baldwin as their presidential candidate.

From a post a month ago.

Prohibition was passed with a diverse coalition of support.

Suffragettes thought that fewer women & children would be beaten and fewer impoverished without alcohol.

Businessmen thought that workers would be more sober and productive. They would also save a bit and provide both a source of more capital and a larger market for durable goods.

The police and those concerned with "Law & Order" expected fewer crimes and a more orderly society (some expectations were not met).

Urban reformers and Progressives expected slums to shrink and human misery to decline significantly. Public Health would improve (a major force back then, see sanitation, clean water, propaganda to "wash your hands").

And the always present bandwagon followers joined in.

And so forth (including the fundamentalists of a few Protestant sects. Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and others never joined them AFAIK).

Best Hopes for a Diverse Coalition of support for Conservation, Renewables and Electrified Rail,etc.


Any historic precedent is going to have flaws both in fit to the present situation and in how things turned out. That doesn't mean we can't learn lessons from the way particular coalitions came together, for whatever reason and with whatever ultimate consequences.

I like the Grange Movement as a precedent:


Part of the appeal is that it sprung up in this area.

But again, the current situation is obviously very different in many particulars (though corrupt banking practices seems to be a constant through history---hmmmm). But a grass roots empowerment movement growing out of education and social activity seems like something that could grow out of Oil Drum activities, as well as from transition town groups, perma-culture folks...

Ultimately, new movements depend on enough people seeing something of the depth of their predicament. An event can be a spark, but much spreading of accurate info/effective memes is necessary for any event in the real world to wake people up.

I think TOD could take a step towards activism by starting to work steadily and deliberately to end (or at least greatly curtail) what pretty much everyone here but x considers an absurdity and an abomination--corn-based ethanol. Any move in this direction, though, should come with a clear direction for farmers to go who have become dependent on this source of extra income.

It had the support of every Bible thumping, hatchet waving fundamentalist in America. And at that time these folks were a strong majority.

And these days, that Bible-thumping crowd is the crowd that thinks "drill, baby, drill" will solve our oil problems. I also don't see how looking at that movement will help unless you can get Rick Warren to say that "Gasoline users will burn in hell forever!"

PS: I look back at the coalition that developed to support Prohibition (a MAJOR social change) as a model for what needs to be developed now.

Oh, now I understand your anti ethanol stance. >;^)

Very sensible comment. How can we do that? I think that the best way is not through coercion (any command system of marshaling resources, even though Im way more open to that than my conventional, Hayekian economic education would lead one to believe) but rather the creation of an implicit meta-narrative that allows economic decisions to continue to be localized/disaggregated. One could concede the primacy of price based rationing in the present but say, hey when it comes to planning for the far future we have to assume other things, like physical scarcity as our basis for employing resources in the present.

In this regard I have a question, what if society broadly accepted that the future would be one of tremendous resource scarcity? Would that be enough for the required change in perspective at the individual level? People could put their own spin/narrative on it: resource competition, resource exhaustion, moral imperative, whatever. When I get through various layers of disbelief with people its interesting the meta-narrative they fall back on to exit the resource scarcity loop, technology. How do we convince people to accept the paradox that blind faith in a technological solution in the future is not the most enlightened form of epistemology, not a holy grail, but the disease that prevents the wide scale implementation of the technologies we have at the present?

I don't think we are ever going to have this "conversation" in America.

Any kind of significant change that is perceived as "imposed" would lead to wide spread social unrest, especially in the red states.

Things will just have to work themselves out, I guess. I am not very optimistic that it will be a process anyone or anything can really "manage" in any meaningful way.

You have got to remember we are moving to truly uncharted waters, against several hundred years of accumulated economic "wisdom" and after defeat of cummunism and to a large degree, socialism.

There aren't infinite ways to organize large numbers of humans. They all seem to come up short.

'America' as we all know it will not survive. I'm sure there where will be powers that will continue to call themselves 'America' but it won't consist of fifty united federally controlled states.

it won't consist of fifty united federally controlled states.

Plenty of people have argued that the idea was never to have Federal control as is the case now.

Micheal Badnarik, Free State'rs, and even plain old white power racists point that out for their own advantage and if you want to read the arguments I'll let you hunt 'em down.

Thank you Todd for expressing the frustration many of us feel.

That reality is that BAU is dead meat. And, within BAU I include not only energy but also governance, finance, agriculture and infrastructure.

Add "education" to the list of dead-men walking BAU instituitions. The rise of "for-profit" schools pretending to educate is one very obvious symptom.

One KEY sentence in your post stands out:

"Does it make more sense to..."

What "makes sense" depends on who you ask and the cacaphony of answers from various interest groups guarantees continued Chaos.

So I expect we will continue to count "how many joules fit on the head of a pin rather than addressing reality." At least until that reality hits home for each of us individually.

Collapse seems to be happening slowly, one family at a time.

Todd: Chill out man, we have an election coming in Nov musn:t spook the sheeple. As far as what "we" are going to do about it? Who is "WE" The PTB will do what serves them and the 1% and the majority of the rest of us will go backto football and American Idol. Let the good times roll.

Todd, I have to agree with Darwinian that "we" are not going to do anything proactive and useful. However, we as individuals can do a lot that is worthwhile on a personal, local level. You are already doing that, and well ahead of most. Share the knowledge that you have. That's the best you can do, even though it provides no assurances that you will make a difference, and even though you will never know one way or the other.

The world we have built in the US was created by the stored energy in fossil fuels, having a continent of natural resources to exploit, and the tricks of empire that allowed us to gather more than our share while others go without. Those realities are failing now, and the worldwide climate is changing in unknown ways at the same time. Nothing can preserve the world that is. Don't waste your time trying, rather look toward a new future - where the kinds of knowledge you have will be quite valuable.

While doomers convince themselves that "we are not going to do anything proactive and useful", in a perfect self-fulfilling prophecy.

Meanwhile plenty of people around the planet are doing something proactive and useful, both individually and as government entities.
In addition to the article about Portugal's successful transition to 45% renewable electricity, my home state of Colorado has a renewable electricity portfolio standard of 10% by 2015 which we will exceed, plus a mandated 30% eventually.

Tommy, I bet your home state makes that "10%" goal, and even the "30% eventually" goal.

But I bet you reach those percentages because of the loss of "other" contributions to your energy mix.

Make the total small enough, and the contributions from renewables will skyrocket.

Colorado is currently at 7% renewable excluding hydro and 12% renewable including hydro, so I don't think we will have to wait for collapse of "other" sources to reach our goal.
Either way, our progress disproves the "will do nothing" claim, since we have already added gigawatts of renewables as a result of citizen political action (I worked to support the initial renewable portfolio initiatives myself).

"our progress disproves the "will do nothing" claim"

I think it's a question of "far too little, far too late" rather than "do nothing."

Which doesn't really say anything, Aardvark.

Too Little and Too late for what? For BAU? We all know that already. We really do. Everybody in this conversation knows that limitation, so what do you think Tommy's or my goals might be, if not BAU?

Could it be that, even at this terribly late hour, that the more we can set ourselves up to capture natural energy sources in a clean way, and use them minimally and responsibly will make that many more people or communities who can have a chance to squeeze through the main pincers of energy descent, and keep enough resilience to be able to plot out a way to live without an Oil-fed economy?

Responses like yours point to an 'All or Nothing' mindset.. and the world actually still has a little more nuance than that, and people have measures they can be applying themselves to, to improve the odds of getting through this.

Hi Jokuhl,

Yes, in general I do mean Too little, Too late for BAU.

When you look at any project (local, state or federal) how much of it depends on BAU to complete the project?

Mine is not an "all or nothing" mindset. It is more a matter of picking your battles wisely and not wasting time, energy and other resources on goals that require a BAU to see them to fruition.

I share your goals of "plotting out a way to live without an oil-fed economy," but I believe most of the large-scale efforts in this direction will fail because they depend on BAU, and BAU is dead.

Exactly. Tommyvee thinks that the "economic downturn" is causing a delay to his fallback rail plan, but that downturn is really just the headwind of a much more serious economic calamity. I hope they can get it done before hand, as then there will be a more economical transportation system in that region, which will be a help to those who live there for a time. But on a national level the amount of work that needs to be done is vast, and it is too late to replace all the infrastructure needed at this point - we needed to start when the US peaked in the '70s. At this point it is better to focus on things you have a better chance of accomplishing.

"At this point it is better to focus on things you have a better chance of accomplishing."

Roger that.

I have a 22 cal. rifle. Single-shot, so I have to aim very, very well. Also a BB-Gun, but no silver BBs.

I wish Tommy and all the rest here the very best. I really do. I also wished this company the very best (twice):


I had nothing to do with the company but still was very disappointed.

Windows of opportunity...

...but that downturn is really just the headwind of a much more serious economic calamity.

I agree, and couldn't help be worried for a friend I bumped into today. He said, he'd bought a piece of land and a house as investments, "because we are at the bottom and these things are cyclical", he said.

How do you begin to tell someone right in the middle of Walmart what seems like a bargain now, may later seem high? Where would I begin with an explanation of peak oil, i.e. net energy decline and its implications on the economy, and wouldn't he wonder if I was just trying to burst his bubble out of envy? And, what good would this new information do him now he's already purchased these properties? So I left his big investment smile in tact and simply wished him the best on those. But privately I think its a huge risk. The economy at best is treading water while the govt. keeps borrowing more money to keep the facade going.

You are operating from the assumption that housing prices will continually drop. However, if extreme inflation were to kick in instead, his purchase of a house now will be ingenious, assuming of course he got a fixed-rate and not an adjustable mortgage. Paying your mortgage at a 4.5% fixed interest rate looks like a pretty good deal when inflation (and rent) are increasing at a 10% or higher yearly rate. You might see buying a home as a huge risk, but at the same time, continuing to rent (ie not buying a home) is also a risk... of a different sort. You worry that he might have paid too much for the house... in his shoes, I would worry that about you not being able to afford your rent after it quadruples, or more.

Perhaps I was not clear. I do not believe that society will take effective, proactive actions through existing social and government structures. Beyond that I do believe people will, can and should take actions on a personal, local level. Your partial quote removed the distinction between collective (i.e. government) and personal action and misrepresented what I said.

What Portugal did is interesting, and certainly better than coal, NG or nuclear, but I'm not at all convinced that it is a useful general model. It's expensive and relies on 60% hydro. I don't think we will spend the money required to build such an infrastructure in the US - we're basically too far behind now, as described by Hirsch and others. You're welcome to believe that these plans will keep the existing system going, but I'll place my bets on learning to live without that energy.

I don't believe anything will "keep the existing system going".

But I think there are valuable actions that can be taken both individually and politically through existing government structures. Colorado's 30% Renewable Portfolio Standard is just one case in point.

Personally I think Portugal does serve as a useful general model. The combination of the dispatchable nature of hydopower with intermittent renewables and pumped-storage hydro is currently the lowest-cost system approach to replacing fossil fuels. As an engineer with many years experience on product development, I know that nothing replaces practical experience with prototypes for developing design and operation. Portugal already operates with energy costs that people complain about but can live with, and they are gaining invaluable experience in how to design and operate such an integrated system. Without such a system, that experience can never be gained.

Using less energy more efficiently will be a natural consequence of the higher costs of renewable systems.

There's no question renewables will be the energy source of the future, just as they were the energy source of the past. It's about learning to live on the real-time energy flow vs. the stored energy of ages past. The question is what kind of world will that be - I don't believe it will allow anything like our present rates of energy usage, and that this will require vastly different social structures. I believe that the kinds of things Todd is doing will be more relevant than what Portugal is doing.

BTW, I am also an engineer with many years experience in product design, development, and manufacturing, specifically for the electric power system. I'm betting on Todd's approach while I help design the "smart grid".

I have no problem with Todd's approach to personal adaptation, although my own path is to reduce energy consumption and maximize renewable generation in the context of a small city rather than a rural retreat.

I have a problem with the claim that we will "do nothing" both because it has already been proved untrue and because it easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, enabling political apathy and laziness.

I have been involved with so many successful citizen-led adaptation efforts that I am very frustrated to hear people claim that what has already occurred will never occur and instead we will "do nothing".
As another example, two decades ago I was involved in an unsuccessful effort to fund rail in the Denver metro area (the "Transit Initiative"), but the people involved did not lose hope and retreat into apathy, but kept working. A successor initiative (FasTracks) which I also worked to support was passed and is currently building rail. Funding is way below projections because if the economic downturn, but that will delay rather than stop the process of building the rail system. If I and other proponents of rail in Denver had convinced ourselves that political solutions were not possible, we would have been correct and the Denver rail would not be under construction today.

Rest assured that the proponents of BAU will never abandon political activity, and it will be tragic if those with a broader perspective abandon the field of battle to the most greedy and short-sighted elements of our society.

Hear ! Hear !

I would add that if society is going in the right direction, but too slowly for events, it is relatively easy to speed up adaptation.

Best Hopes !


my home state of Colorado has a renewable electricity portfolio standard of 10% by 2015 which we will exceed

Oh yeah?

Well, does your state have a cool website where you can see what the daily renewable energy contributions were, like we have for California?



I have a feeling that as globalization slows down, different areas will begin to respond in very different ways.

For example China already has a population policy. Japan has one too, but of a different sort - people have less kids out of modernization and choice, and they are smart not to inundate their society with immigrants. The same could be said of many parts of Europe though for who knows what reason, European politicians seem to be enamored of immigration from Africa and the M.E.

I have a feeling that those same areas, East Asia and Western Europe, will also develop more cohesive energy and financial policies, most likely out of sheer necessity.

On the other hand, in America we are insane. Official policy is endless growth in population, endless growth in debt, endless growth in energy. On the other hand...we might actually be able to pull it off for awhile! We have the oil sands, plenty of coal, and the world's largest military, etc.

But like many others I'm not betting on America anymore.

Strange times.

Peak energy automatically solves the problem of unemployment. With less energy available, more works need to be done manually by human labor. The future is not that dark.

At first the profits dry out due to loss of sales (aka recession / depression). This leads to higher unemployment in short term (3 to 5 years time frame) during which the rich can eat on what they have already accumulated. This can't continue for long, at some point the wealth of rich would have to be dried to a point where they have to reinvest in business, run the factories again. If the rich are sufficiently rich and can hold on the recession / depression for a long period of time then due to increasingly large number of unemployed a revolution is bound to happen, 25% of population of paris was beggars right before the french revolution.

Given that power of govt get weak due to loss of energy (translated in finance as loss of tax income, devaluation of currency etc) a revolution is very likely to overthrow the govt and civil war happens. If govt is clever enough to use whatever little power its left with wisely then it may stop society from going to that level of collapse and take appropriate measures, if not then civil war leads to a better govt. Either way, the future is more socialist than capitalist. The hard task is to pass the time in between.

At the end of the fall, almost everybody would be employed in agriculture.

Hi everybody. I know this is a bit off topic, but I was wondering if anyone here can provide me with some insight on how well Luxembourg will fair to early oil production decline. Based on it's energy dependencies, localization, culture, industry, transportation infrastructure etc., will it face a quick chaotic collapse within the next 5 years, suffer a relatively slow decline into chaos or fair relatively well?

I am currently living in Portugal and I don't earn very much and unemployment is pretty bad, a little over 10% if I'm not mistaken. I was thinking of moving to Luxembourg to try and find a better paying job so that I can invest in some post peak equipment and skills. I was thinking of acquiring books on food preservation, survivalism, buying some equipment like crank radios and taking some night courses on blacksmithing and possibly carpentry. Basically things I don't have to money to invest in now. I'd buy a gun but I think civilian possession is prohibited in Luxembourg and relatively hard in Portugal. Then in about 4-5 years, I'd return to try and share what I've learned with my family and try to last as long as possible (which I doubt will be very long).

Anyway, thanks in advance for all input.

PS: I just noticed there's an article mentioning Portugal. I feel it's all nice and rosy on paper and an interesting path to take. But I feel that given the country's financial stability, the level of governmental corruption and the mentality a big portion of the youth...a little more stress on the economy, a few more cents on gasoline prices and a a couple more cases of corrupt politicians getting off the hook (even though faced with many charges and evidence) with their pockets full and we have Greece-like riots and anger on the peninsula.

Hey, If nothing else, you have to love a country with three official languages.
Especially Luxembourgish

I have relatives living in both Germany and Portugal. I wish I could give some solid advice
To be fair I don't think that most places in Europe will have descended into chaos in the next five years.

But wherever you go try to integrate yourself into the local community by acquiring practical skills and making yourself useful. Try to live as simply as possible but it sounds like you already know that and are heading in that direction anyway.

The best I can say is:

"Navegar é preciso... Viver não é preciso..
Fernando Pessoa


Very well said. Thanks for your input.

(CNN) -- Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was on a flight that went down in Alaska, according to an official with defense contractor EADS.

The National Transportation Safety Board has assembled a team to probe the Monday night plane crash in Alaska.

The agency said on Tuesday the plane crashed near Dillingham and cited reports that say five of the nine people on board died. Earlier, the Alaska Air National Guard statement said there were some apparent survivors and "potential fatalities."


Fmr. Sen Ted Stevens also aboard, according to reports.

Update: CNN reporting Stevens among dead.

He served continuously in the Senate since December 1968. He played key roles in legislation that shaped Alaska's economic and social development, including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act......


CNBC Poll Will US Slip Back Into Recession?

So far 66 percent say yes and 34 percent say no. This is, of course, an unscientific poll. But most of the folks voting are CNBC watchers meaning they are by and large stockholders who are rooting for the economy to get better.

Ron P.

Yes, Back into a "PERMANENT" Recession this time.....

The idea that anything is "PERMANENT" is an enduring human fallacy.

Fed decision: Recovery losing steam

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. economic recovery is weakening, the Federal Reserve warned at the conclusion of its meeting Tuesday, its most bearish outlook in more than a year.

WHT, I'm editing a paper for Mikael Hook and some colleagues at Beijing University "Descriptive and predictive growth curves in energy system analysis."

I think you'll be interested in its content, though I'm not free to distribute it yet. In the meantime, the paper refers to "Caithamer P, 2008. Regression and time series analysis of the world oil peak of production: another look. Mathematical Geosciences 40(6), 653-670 "


He doesn't like the logistic curve, either.

Thought you might be interested if you hadn't already seen it.

Thanks so much. I bet that was the paper that Reservegrowthrulz2 was baiting me with.

It's not that I didn't like the logistic curve, its that I am always leary of a derivation that doesn't make sense. When I finally came upon a derivation I liked, then at least I came to appreciate what it could or could not predict. It will be interesting to see how they argue it.

Crystal River nuclear plant fix delay hurts confidence in Florida's nuclear solution

Progress determined last fall that a concrete slab 9 inches thick had separated from the nuclear power plant's containment building and would have to be removed and the concrete repoured.

Progress Energy shut down its nuclear plant on Sept. 26 last year, initially promising to be back up and running by last December. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the outage, Progress Energy says a restart of the plant planned for this quarter will be pushed off until at least late this year.

$245 million to fix a piece of cement, more evidence that nuclear is just too expensive.

$245 million to fix a piece of cement, more evidence that nuclear is just too expensive.

Actually it was only $79 million spent to fix the crack in the containment wall. And then another $166 million spent to buy electricity from other utilities that would have been generated from the nuke plant.

With a fast-rising $25 billion price tag and announced delays of several years, the Levy plant needs a major public relations overhaul to convince Floridians that it still is the most cost-efficient and reliable generator of electricity for Florida's future.

Hey, since all they need is a good public relations overhaul and the Gulf spill is history, maybe they can hire the PR folk who helped fix BP's leaking well...

Oh, and Solar doesn't make economic sense without subsidies so it is not cost effective. I say we build some coal powered plants and be done with it.

Speaking of costs saw a disturbing story this morning re: the electric Volt auto. Most know the starting price is around $41,000. And the marketing folks are aiming at buyers with incomes of $200,000/yr and higher. Not exactly the vehicle for the "common man". But the story highlighted that the actual production costs for the first 10,000 units is around $80,000 with the govt making up the difference. Granted I think it's a good idea for the govt to help jump start such a project since the private sector won't invest unless they are certain to make a profit. But this is starting to sound like wealth redistribution. Except it's the poorer tax payer support the motoring of the more wealthy citizen. I know the long term hope was to get the costs down from $40,000 but now it sounds like we have a ways to go just to get it down to $40,000.

Ahh, Jonah Goldberg


Indeed, the Volt's price is $41,000, but the cost is much higher. "Government Motors" is already selling the car at a loss. According to the blogger Doctor Zero, if you apply the subsidies that have gone directly into the car to just the first 10,000 vehicles, the cost is more like $81,000 per car.

There is some truth to the claim that the Volt and the LEAF are too pricey to make much difference, but isn't it a bit disingenuous to apply said subsidies to only the first 10,000 cars? How much did the first nuclear power plant cost, adding in government money for prior nuclear research?

Joules -- If I heard the story correctly GM isn't losing a dime. The feds are paying the difference with our tax dollars. Note exactly what I would call sustainable. I get your point about the nukes: somethings have to be done by the govt. OTOH just how cheap are nuke plants now?

No real argument here. It's just that when subsidies are debated, it invites the "your subsidy is bigger than my subsidy" comparisons. War for oil, anyone?

But I have equal discomfort hearing "the electric car has arrived!" pronouncements.

Not arguing agaisnt you Joules. Just: Subsidies that work = good. Subsidies that don't work = bad. (My poor Bush senior imitation). I have a great deal of trouble expecting the govt subsidizing a $80,000 car that will produce a $20,000 car that folks will buy. Speaking of which....price a Hummer lately? 10,000*$40,000 = $400 million. Perhaps the govt might have subsidized battery research for $400 million. And what will the subsidy be on the next 10,000 units? $30,000 each? Bottom line I see it mostly as a tax break for the wealthiest folks in this country.

There is a basic error behind this information, which comes to us via a major news network from the most credible of sources...

According to the blogger Doctor Zero...

Regardless, I could spin this same information in a lot of ways. If we take the subsidies that went into the Volt and spread them out over the first 5000 units, then the cost per car is $120,000! And if we spread it over the first 1000 cars, then each Volt would cost $440,000! And imagine if we put the entire cost of the subsidy on the first vehicle only... that first Volt would then cost $400,040,000!

Meanwhile, you could go the opposite way, and spread the cost over the first 100,000 cars instead of 10,000. In that case the subsidy would put the cost per car at more like $44,000.

This could make a great case study on how numbers can be used to intentionally mislead people. Thanks Dr. Zero!

Yeah, typical garbage from him. I start out by saying that I (and many people that follow EVs) was greatly disappointed by the high price of the Volt. An $8K premium over the Nissan Leaf is not acceptable. But let us address a lot of garbage in his article
1) This is not supposed to be some "People's car". It is the first edition of an entirely new drivetrain, the series-hybrid. It will be available only in limited quantities this year . . . of course at that price it really wouldn't sell anyway.
2) "Like the EV1 that GM tried to peddle in the California market," Kenneth Green, an environmental scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, says, "the Volt is a vanity car for the well-off that will be subsidized by less well-off taxpayers at all stages, from R&D to sales and to the construction of charging stations."
Well, I'm not surprised the AEI has an idiot for an environmental person. GM did not "try to peddle" the EV-1 in California, it was forced to sell a zero-emission car there. No charging stations are needed.
And yeah, the car is really expensive . . . thus the well-off buyers are subsidizing the development of EVs for buyers of the later generations of the car.
3) Some bogus number from "Doctor Zero". Really? How about I debate fuel cells with Dr. Evil?
4) Electric cars have been around for 100+ years. Sort of true, but clearly they are very different now dealing with 70MPH speeds, li-Ion batteries, the series-hybrid drivetrain, etc. It is a new thing.
5) Point is to reduce CO2? Well, that is only one of the many points. Others are energy security, reduce trade deficit, reduce pollution, national security, peak oil (Yes, Dr. Chu thinks about peak oil), etc.
6) Coal plants - Actually, an EV powered 100% by coal generates less CO2 than a gasoline car. Why? Electric motors ~90% efficient whereas gas engines only 20% efficient. Oil emits lots of CO2 in crude oil transport, refining, and gasoline transport.
7) Political car? Well, it was designed during the Bush administration (and bailed out by Bush) and the project was initiated by a guy who doesn't believe in global warming (Bob Lutz). So are Bush & Lutz a bunch of socialist tree-hugging commie vegans? Seriously now?
No, the Volt was a car designed to deal with the inevitable higher oil prices.

The Volt is a start at creating autos for the post-peak world. It is a bit too expensive right now and oil is a bit too cheap for people to see the wisdom in it yet. But people will see the wisdom in due time.

It's good to know these numbers, but of course, to be at all fair about it, we'd have to know what the first 10,000 Hummers cost to produce, or any other new vehicle, for that matter. They're paying down a lot of engineering there, even just to fit in the standard elements of a vehicle, before devising the new needs around Battery Management, Broader Size/Weight/Range decisions.. etc..

Toyota took losses on the Prius for quite a while (and subsidies). Now they can't build them fast enough.


I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the US auto industry has secretly given up on the American middle class as being a promising future source of customers for its new cars. There is certainly a logic to this, as it is typically far more profitable to sell X $45,000 cars than 3X $15,000 cars.

The US auto industry probably also feels that if the poor want a bare-bones 'people's car', then they can go buy them from China or India. The US auto industry, for one reason or another, has always had a tough time making much of a profit on small basic cars. This is why there is little if any sign that the US auto industry is moving down market. Just take a look at which cars are most heavily advertised .... certainly not the cheapest ones.

Let's face it, a very large fraction of American motorists cannot really afford to drive the cars they are currently driving, and the only reason they have been able to get away with this has been easy credit, either directly through a car loan or indirectly through leasing. If people had to put hard cash up front to buy a car, the US auto industry would be dead in no time. Energy considerations aside, I tend to view this as an unsustainable situation strictly from a financial standpoint.

I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the US auto industry has secretly given up on the American middle class as being a promising future source of customers for its new cars.

Right now the poor are willing to be taxed for a road because they think one day they may want to use one.

As horseless carriages are put out of reach, the attitude will shift toward "yet another burden the poor have for the well off"

As roads become more of a problem, the utility value of a car drops and less people will want the bother.

GM and Ford are having a go at selling quality small cars with the Cruze and Fiesta. They're a little more expensive and built much nicer than the bargain bin models that they're replacing. I'd probably prefer a Honda Fit myself, but I wish them the best of luck. Small, efficient cars selling in high volume are the best short term gain in reducing oil use.

I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that the US auto industry has secretly given up on the American middle class as being a promising future source of customers for its new cars. There is certainly a logic to this, as it is typically far more profitable to sell X $45,000 cars than 3X $15,000 cars.

I see no reason to believe the executives at GM & Ford are any better informed than any of us about what is coming economically. These people know how to build vehicles that turn rubber wheels over asphalt. That is all they know how to do, and they are seeking every avenue they can to keep doing it.

the actual production costs for the first 10,000 units is around $80,000

This is true for practically any complex product that is not just a simple reshuffling of past volume products. You can bet Toyota lost a lot per vehicle with the first few years of the Prius. The only difference is who pays the difference. If a public goal is to have domestic companies be a major player in emerging technologies, then someone, either private or public must take the hit.

Now, I'm not a fan of GM, or the Volt. The Volt I am convinced tries to be much more of an EV than makes sense to shoot for at this time. At this point in time a less ambitious plugin hybrid probably makes sense. One that gets roughly 10 out of the first 12-13 miles in electric mode. Shooting for 100% electric means you gotta support full acceleration in electric mode, which leads to the wasteful sequential hybrid solution. Take a parallel hybrid such as the Prius, and beef of the battery capacity, and after charging it will be mostly electric (but still uses the ICE if high acceleration is demanded). Shooting for longer EV (or near-EV) range makes the battery cost skyrocket. Unless/until batteries get much better that is the way forward.

Limited production "halo" cars were always money losers or at least not huge moneymakers. There's just not enough sales volume to pay for the engineering costs. The point of a halo car is to bring prestige to a brand and draw in buyers who might pick up a "bread and butter" car. At 30,000 cars/yr the Volt would be right around the sales volume of the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky, a limited production roadster (20,000/yr in the pre-crash days). It remains to be seen if Volt can make the jump to a high volume bread and butter model. They're talking about 45,000 cars in 2012.

I know $41,000 sounds like a lot of money, but back in the days of easy credit and cashing out your home, it was pretty common for blue collar types to drop that much on a loaded 4x4 pickup or SUV. Of course, they wouldn't be caught dead driving a Volt.

It all comes down to cost reductions on the Volt and the price of oil. Batteries and EV components will come down in price as they continue to refine them and they get mass manufacture volumes. I don't believe there will be huge price drops but there will be continued incremental price drops.

And if there is an oil crunch in the next 5 years as many predict, the Volt will start looking very attractive

And if there is an oil crunch in the next 5 years as many predict, the Volt will start looking very attractive

Now just have a little think about that.
Obviously like many others you expect BAU after this "oil crunch"?

Actually unless the plans have been changed that bill is for TWO nukes on one site,and a considerable portion of the money will stay into the local economy in the form of wages.

It is reasonable to believe that two new plants can match the industry average and therefore these two will ACTUALLY produce 2000 megawatts of baseload power for fifty years , maybe longer.

Of course we have no way of really knowing what either coal or uranium will cost a few years down the road, but my guess is that the price of coal will go up a lot faster than the price of uranium.

The nuke wins hands down in every respect from an environmental pov, so long as it doesn't melt down of course. ;)

I'm sure good uses can be found for any and all wind power that can be brought on line in the Florida market,especially as the existing grid is converted to a smart grid, but it can't be counted on on an hour to hour basis.

We need all the wind and solar power we can get-and all the nuclear power we can get.

In my estimation, nothing will prevent a coming crunch in the electricity supply.

When the supply becomes erratic,the steady output of a couple of big nukes will be priceless.

The nukes may well prove to be critical at some time in the not so distant future when domestic natural gas supplies conk out on us-the shale gas bonanza may not prove out; not everybody is convinced the shale boom is the real thing.

125th Anniversary of Electric Streetcars

On this day 125 years ago, August 10, 1885, the first commercially-operated electric
streetcar (as opposed to demonstration or experimental operations) in the U.S. began
service in Baltimore, Maryland. The cars, following a three-mile route, used the Daft
System for propulsion. Horsecars were drawn through the streets by small locomotives
running off a 120-volt third rail. That exposed third rail in the street resulted in the
Daft System's quick failure.

Best Hopes for Mature Oil-Free Transportation !


That exposed third rail in the street resulted in the
Daft System's quick failure.

What better name, then, for one of the more daft ideas ever tried...?

A rabbit hole for you to go down Oxyginarian......it seems there is something to providing a bit of an electric shock to plant roots.


And seed-zapping in mention in the rex link - here's an 'appeal to authority' claim that 'zapping' "works"...

percent germination rates of the treated tomato seed were accelerated about 1.1–2.8 times compared with that of the untreated seed.

With the pot of leprechaun gold at the end of this rabbit hole.
Claude Corson, president of Intertec Inc of Eckhart IN, one of the key men in the ECSS program (ECSS - Electronic Crop Stimulation System)

From The Archives

The Deseret News - Jul 18, 1977

Study of oil reserves gloomy
WASHINGTON UPI) - Recovery of oil from known U S reserves will trail expectations and could Jeopardize President Carter's hope of cutting oil imports with increased domestic production, a congressional study says.
The report Sunday by the concessional Office of Technology and Assessment said regardless of how high oil prices rise, the nation is not likely to retrieve more than 17 percent of the oil captured in existing known reserves.
"It is well known that traditional methods of oil production recover only a small portion of the oil present in the producing formation. " the report said
The oil recovery study predicted US production will decline from its present level of about 8 million barrels a day this year to 7.6 million in 1980 and perhaps 1.2 million in 1990.
"Unless steps are taken to reduce consumption and/or to increase domestic production, this projected decline will need to be offset by additional imports of oil which averaged 9.1 million barrels a day during the first quarter of 1977" the report said.

This is the report in question (pdf): Enhanced Oil Recovery Potential in the United States. Here is Fig 13:

Projected Production From Known US Reservoirs, 1975-1995

As can be seen the press were focused on worst cases. I added the blue line showing historic figures. 1995 production averaged 6,560 kb/d, exceeding expectations of this study's high performance case. How much the individual components contributed is another matter; the National Energy Outlook projection for Prudhoe seems to indicate it declining a few years prematurely, for instance. The base production outlook was from "Lewin and Associates, Inc, for the Federal Energy Administration." The reserve growth figures came from USGS.

The study also includes low/ref/high price figures, leading to a wide range of forecasts for EOR, shown on the table on pg 7. I think actuals followed the high process low price forecast - about 3 mb/d. Even lower 48 production bounced up a bit in the early 80s.

where do you find all these historical articles ?

the link to the report dudn work.

the source of the poor forecasting is fairly obvious - 17 % recovery, wtf???

Fascinating to see the actual production numbers pasted on top of the range of projections!

Thanks for continuing this series KLR.


TOD changed my link, added "http://www.theoildrum.com/node" to it for some reason. Link is: www.fas.org/ota/reports/7807.pdf

Why 17%? Good question - the report explicitly says "about 2/3." On, hmm, pg 17...think some reporter was wolfing down Cheetos to the detriment of their attention span.

Finding these news articles is a snap - I have a Google News Archive search bookmarked, with free content only selected (otherwise you get pages of stuff that's Pay Per View). Like this: oil reserves - Google News Archive Search. Then I just go trawling for whatever catches the eye.

To convert it to text I use an optical character recognition program, Abby FineReader. Works but you get lots of typos. The line of actual production in the above graph - and the demarcations above 7 mb/d - I added with Photoshop, after graphing it in OpenOffice.

TOD changed my link, added "http://www.theoildrum.com/node" to it for some reason.

The reason is because you left the http:// off the link. You can't start links with www when you're using HTML coding. The http:// has to be there.

ahhh, light bulb just went on.
that could result in one of those tiny, incremental improvements in my quality of life, at least the web-browsing, cookie-managing part of it...
thank you Leanan.

Ooops, make that 1/3 RF. TOD also won't let me edit that post. Sounds like a certain server needs some alone time. TOD want binky? ;)

There's nothing wrong with the server (today, anyway). You put in an incomplete link. Browsers will automatically add the http://, but HTML coding will not. The TOD server will automatically direct bad links back to our home page, so it worked as designed.

And you cannot edit a post once someone has replied to it.

yeah, thanks. ironically that report was addressed to senator ted stevens.

the first part of the pdf is a good primer for anyone on tod who needs such. lots of references and for the most part as applicable today as when it was published.

i see where the estimate of ultimate recovery of original oil in place was 142 gb/442 gb or about 1/3.

I added with Photoshop, after graphing it in OpenOffice.

If you are already using OpenOffice, then perhaps you might want to give GIMP[ http://www.gimp.org/ ] a try.

Thanks - will give that a try.

No Party Affiliation Political Ads

Buried in yesterday's drumbeat I remarked how the political ads (lawn signs and television) do not note anywhere the party affiliation of the candidate.

Cargill noted the same thing happening in Australia.

Why the distancing from one's own Political Party?

From "transparency" to translucence to opaque... blur the lines of distinction, confuse the (already confused) populace?

(rats getting ready to flee the ship???)

Dunno about Australia, but in the US, I think it's a reflection of demographic changes. It used to be that most Americans belonged to one party or the other. That is no longer true. "Independent" is the biggest party in many states. Nationally, it's about an even split: Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Demographic shifts may be part of the answer, but I wonder if it has more to do with candidates trying to distance themselves from a party affiliation because the public is starting to dispise both parties equally.

I wonder if 2012 won't be the first time a 'third party' has a REAL chance of getting into the White House. But maybe I should not assume there will be an election in 2012.

Sadly, a real third party can never get traction in the USA without significant changes to our election laws. Our 'winner take all' system just naturally devolves down into a 2-party system.

We need proportional representation or 'instant run-off' voting for a 3rd party to get somewhere. But to change the election laws would mean getting the Dems & GOPers to change the laws . . . why would they change the laws when they are victors?

Although we are one of the first great democracies, we are democracy 1.0 whereas younger democracies have democracy 2.0 with better election laws that make the system multi-party friendly.

Our 'winner take all' system just naturally devolves down into a 2-party system.

That's true, but a third party can arise and take the place of one of the other two. That has happened in the past.

PG has written about the US political system, and its strengths and weaknesses.

Our founding fathers were concerned with stability over all. They designed a system that would be very resistant to change. PG describes it as a very, very large cruise ship, while the European parliamentary systems are more like speedboats. There are advantages to both.

While we here at TOD count joules on the head of a pin, our Leaders are busy making a bigger mess.

FrankenDodd's Monster Financial Reform Act

Crash of 2015 Won't Wait for Regulators to Rein In Wall Street

The Dodd-Frank Act requires 67 studies and 243 new rules to be created...

In effect, the policy allows banks several years of padding their capital with future profits instead of imposing immediate remedies...


Best hopes for ... ah, well...

(plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines...)

(Edit - consider leanan's link up-thread: "China Tells Banks to Take Back Trust Firms Loans" - comparing the US and Chinese responses to financial shinnanigans suggests to me the USA is losing it's position as a safe haven for capital.)

What's Really Driving the Price of Oil ?

Range-bound on oil, is my take.

my take too.

Increasing Chaos is my take.

How do you begin price discovery in a dysfunctional global financial system ?

yeah, i made a wild a$$ed guess forecast on 01-01-09 that oil price would end the year at $75 +/- 10%. that turned out so accurate that i renewed the wag on 01-01-10 and within limits, the price has stayed in that range.

the fundamental assumptions i used in my wild a$$ed guess forecast was that ksa acturally wanted $75 oil and had the capacity to pull it off.

I doubt it really matters much what KSA wants.

KSA seems desperate and bi-polar.

but you have to admit, their stated desire and actual price coincide within limits, may be just coincident and may not, but ksa no doubt has some spare capacity.

and if oil ends 2010 in that $75 +/- 10 % range, you can count on king kongesque chest thumping.

why would ksa want a stable, sustainable oil price ? quite simple - it is in their best interest.

Boy am I relieved to hear the head of Saudi Aramco telling us we have another 12 trillion barrels of oil we can count on. Now there's someone you can trust. I was getting awfully worried for a minute there. Matt Simmons must be turning over now to have been so conclusively proven wrong.

yeah, I'm not surprised to hear the 'we still have plenty of oil' schtick from the Saudis . . . but Trillions of barrels? Aren't those numbers an order of magnitude larger than the generally accepted estimates? C'mon Saudis, keep the bovine excrement within reasonable bounds.

Ah, hyperbole, the most endearing phenomenon in the Arab World. I used to be fluent in Arabic, but things like that are why I could not stand to read the papers in Arabic anymore and let it lapse.

Pretty patterns in our High Frequency (Pretend) Markets.

Algorithmic Crop Circles Redux - Rise Of The Stock Market Machines Part 2

... the market is now merely a computerized playground in which human traders have no chance of even breaking even in the long run, as the adversary uses consistently illegal means (intentional bid stuffing) to extract every last penny from whoever is left trading.

In order to keep the public's, and the SEC's ADD-addled attention on this matter of major significance, we present the latest patterns of illegal computerized quote stuffing as further glaring evidence that the regulators have given up trying to restore any sort of credibility in the market.

"Where has all the Capital gone?
Long time passing.

Where has all the capital gone?
Long time ago.

Where has all the capital gone?
Young Bankers picked them, ev'ry one.

When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?"

(apologies to pete seeger)

Catch of the day: a cogent article in the MSM.

The flow has slowed through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline

And it's likely to keep declining over the next decade, possibly causing dangerous ice and corrosion problems and hampering delivery of North Slope oil to the rest of the U.S.

What this means for the continued delivery of oil to the rest of the U.S. from Alaska is significant. Engineers have warned that the pipeline — the only means of delivery of North Slope oil — will develop potentially dangerous problems with corrosion and ice if flows drop below 500,000 barrels a day, as they are expected to within the next five to 10 years.

At 350,000 barrels a day, which pipeline operators say could happen by 2022, frost heaves could cause the underground portions of the pipeline to dangerously wrinkle and kink.

Already, oil that once took 4½ days to surge from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez now crawls through in 14 days, with flow rates slowed to 2 mph.

Another issue for the pipeline is that many of the support posts are in permafrost, using special radiators to prevent the posts from melting the permafrost and having the pilings sink.


Where will the pipeline be modeled to rupture, and how bad the resultant spills mitigated as global warming causes the permafrost to melt, which means the pipeline isn't supported structurally in the melt areas...?


"The pipeline was mounted on posts above the frozen ground. The aluminum radiators on top of the posts conduct heat—lost from the pipeline—away from the soil."

Matt Simmons said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this, Matt Simmons Said.

Oil And Gas “Rust”: An Evil Worse Than Depletion

There was a new short term energy update from the EIA, as indicated in some of the articles up top. You'll find a direct link here:


Somewhat surprisingly to me, the EIA refuses to lift its forecast of US and world oil demand in the face of clear indications that percentage growth in oil demand exceeds most everyone's expectations - especially here in the US. No, I did not miss the article the other day in the Drumbeat that said distillate demand in the US was falling off a cliff or some other similar dramatic desciption. But please note that was only after an extremely fast growth phase a month or two back.

Anyway, despite the US increasing oil demand about 170,000 bpd in the first half of 2010, they now expect oil demand to average 140,000 in 2010. This implies that oil demand will be only 110,000 in the second half - down 60,000 in the second half from the first.

As I said before this is another backhand way of the EIA predicting a recession. Granted while that is not impossible, I fail to see a recession in the second half as likely. More likely, the EIA is playing down oil demand trends - possibly to influence oil prices lower.

Also I find their expectations of OPEC supply increasing by 1.2 mbpd in 2011 as more than a little on the optimistic side.

I have a google alert on my last name and apparently there is an Angelantoni Industries SpA that has just announced:

World’s first molten salt concentrating solar power plant inaugurated
10 de agosto de 2010

The first commercially operated, integrated solar combined-cycle (ISCC) power plant using molten salt as its heat transfer fluid – the Archimede project – was inaugurated in mid-July at Priolo Gargallo in Syracuse, Sicily.

The plant’s 1,500 solar receivers, installed in a 30,000-square-meter field of parabolic collectors, were supplied by Archimede Solar Energy, a joint venture between Angelantoni Industries Spa and Siemens Energy.

The plant has a capacity of about 5 megawatts electrical (MWel). The high-temperature steam produced drives the steam turbine in the adjacent combined-cycle power plant to generate electricity for the Italian energy provider Enel.

Molten salt receivers are a promising technology for solar thermal power plants. These collector tubes can reach temperatures of up to 550° Celsius.


Can't build them fast enough, in my view.

Edit: Here is the Wikipedia page:

And a better writeup from the Guardian UK (with pics):

Here is what they say is unique about the project:

There are also various technical reasons that have prevented an earlier development of this new technology. Salts tend to solidify at temperatures around 220°C, which is a serious issue for the continuous operation of a plant. ENEA and Archimede Solar Energy, a private company focusing on receiver pipes, developed several patents in order to improve the pipes' ability to absorbe heat, and the parabolic mirrors' reflectivity, therefore maximising the heat transfer to the fluid carrier. The result of these and several other technological improvements is a top-notch world's first power plant with a price tag of around 60 million euros. It's a hefty price for a 5 MW power plant, even compared to other CSP plants, but there is overwhelming scope for a massive roll-out of this new technology at utility scale in sunny regions like Northern Africa, the Middle East, Australia, the US.

Any chance of incorporationg molten salt storage to address intermittancy (i.e. phase change, thermal battery)?

From the wikipedia link above,
"When the sun shines, the thermal fluid drawn from the cold tank is circulated through the network of parabolic collectors, where it is heated to a temperature of 550 °C and injected into the hot tank, where the thermal energy is stored. The fluid is then drawn from the hot reservoir to produce steam at high pressure and temperature, which is sent to Enel’s nearby combined-cycle plant, where it contributes to electricity generation.

This system enables the plant to generate electricity at any time of the day and in all weather conditions until the stored thermal energy is depleted."

The trouble with that idea is that phase change usually results in solidification. After that, the "molten salt" wouldn't be molten. Other ideas have included the use of a different heat transfer fluid to heat a tank of salts, which would then melt, the phase change process requiring energy which could later be recover as thermal energy was removed from the salt. The article from the Guardian linked to above mentions this approach...

E. Swanson

One of the great advantages of thermal concentrating solar power is that economies of scale work so strongly in favor. As thermal storage tank size increases, volume increases much faster than tank surface area, so if a tank is big enough surface insulation becomes less important for preventing loss of stored thermal energy.

So if thermal CSP with storage makes economic sense at a medium scale, it will have better returns at larger scales.

As thermal storage tank size increases, volume increases much faster than tank surface area, so if a tank is big enough surface insulation becomes less important for preventing loss of stored thermal energy.

4/3πr^3 or a high frequency tensegrity aproximation thereof. Max volume for lowest surface area.

Thanks guys. I only had time to skim the articles. I had to run out to an interview with a potential client. A well situated 70ish UMC a'hole. Demanding and arrogant, he really told me! I wish I had a picture of his face when I told him I wasn't interested in his business. He wanted a servant, not a service.

We're in deep trouble, folks.

UMC = ??

Just wondering.


Upper Middle Class

(a Bob Seger song says" I wanna be a lawyer, doctor or professor, a member of the UMC...")

I guess I had a flight attendant moment. Somewhere around the age of 50 my psyche decided it wasn't going to take spoiled-ass American BS anymore. Big pay cut, but worth it. Listen to your inner self. It knows you. The MSM calls this a "meltdown", I call it reclaiming your sanity. (What pisses me off is that most of these people have "been nowhere, done nuthin'".)

From The Bourne Identity: "Look at what they make you give."

As long as we elect people like this, I'll be a doomer:

"Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it's cleverly disguised as having a tender heart. It's not a tender heart. It's ripping the heart out of this country."
Rep. Debbie Riddle, TX House

Who votes for these people!?

Like I said, we're in deep trouble.

(Okay, first off, I spit my soda on my computer when I got the 'duh' moment reading "I had a flight attendant moment...;)

I'll have to watch The Bourne Identity, that quote hits the spot.

As an antidote to your Debbie Riddle-me-class-warfare quote:

But let us not blame the victim.

What causes these poor souls to leave money on the table is just this: they have been brainwashed. The mass media, most notably television and advertising, are managed by the well-to-do, and incessantly hammer home the message that hard work and self-sufficiency are virtuous while demonizing the idle and the poor.

The same people who have been shipping American jobs to China and to India in order to enhance their profits want it to be generally understood that the resulting misery is entirely the fault of the miserable. And while the role of the pecuniary motive may be significant, let us not neglect to mention the important fact that producing mass misery is a high-priority objective in and of itself...

Never mind that Lenin said that "He who does not work, does not eat." And while we are at it, let's also dispense with the hackneyed adage that "Work will set you free" (Arbeit Macht Frei) which the Nazis liked to set in wrought iron atop the gates of their concentration camps.

Let us consign the communists and the fascists and the capitalists to the proverbial scrapheap of history!

From Orlov's recent "Miserable Pursuits"

Your link don't work. Try this one. Miserable Pursuits

You should always test your links with the "preview" button before posting. I find that I get about one in ten wrong and they don't work because of some small typing error.

Ron P.

You mean this Debbie Riddle?!

What a piece of work! Waaaaay too much botox and not nearly enough meds...


That would be hilarious if it were an SNL skit. Too bad it's the real deal.

Closer to home..

LEMOORE, Calif. — Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the land, once fertile, is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation.

But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future — making electricity.

Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world’s largest solar energy complexes, to be built on 30,000 acres.

Today, the FOMC, or Federal Open Market Committee, is meeting to discuss the fate of the U.S. economy and what hand the Fed has to play.


...discuss the fate of the U.S. economy and what hand the Fed has to play

What other ways can finances be readjusted in a multitude of three shell monty configurations, to squeeze a tiny bit more juice out of this flat economy? I can hardly wait to hear the next scheme (start laugh track), while the price of energy (oil) stays high.

The real hard monetary quiz comes later when the price of oil exceeds 100.

Al-Falih, the head of Saudi Aramco has brushed aside 'peak oil' concerns. That's okay but he also said: “Some countries are taking unilateral steps to provide alternatives to oil and implement strict controls, and that will only make it more difficult to develop long-term strategies for oil infrastructure.” He had no shame saying this. In clear text: We do not want countries getting off the oil until we at Aramco run out of it.

In clear text: We do not want countries getting off the oil until we at Aramco run out of it.

That's right, they don't care about anyone except getting all the bang they can for their FF buck.

If anyone thinks they cared about us when they hugged the Bush's, or the Bush's cared about them, no. The Saudi's just wanted our defense toys and the Bush's just wanted to know the Saudi oil was there when we needed it, or to make some backroom deal for his family.

He also chose his words very carefully. You'll notice he said we aren't about to exhaust our supplies of oil. Well, that's true. But oil doesn't have to be exhausted for extraction to peak, nor for the price to spiral skyward (in both monetary and ecological terms). Most of us here know this much, of course, but to most people the distinction between peaking and exhaustion is not immediately obvious. Even if peaking can occur - nay, must occur - with plenty of oil still left in the ground, a clever turn of phrase and a wave of the hand is all it takes to make this issue disappear in the eyes of the public.

I've always found their paranoia about alternatives quite comical. It is not like we have found anything else that can come close to matching the magic of cheap energy-dense oil. But I guess if countries did make a concerted effort to wean themselves off oil by providing healthy incentives to oil alternatives, it could reduce the price of oil.

I guess the Saudis will be able to get a big pay-off if they keep everyone addicted as long as possible since as soon as it is clear that oil is too expensive, we will still be saddled with 300 million oil burning cars that will live on because we can't just throw them away.

The EIA's International Petroleum Monthly is just out with the data for May.

World C+C production was down 103 kb/d. OPEC was up 60 kb/d while non-OPEC was down 163 kb/d. The big gainers were Saudi Arabia, up 100 kb/d, Russia up 45 kb/d, Malaysia up 45 kb/d, and Australia, up 39 kb/d. The big losers were the UK, down 87 kb/d, China, down 67 kb/d, Canada down 66 kb/d, Nigeria, down 50 kb/d, and Norway, down 46 kb/d.

The biggest news was that the revisions for World oil production for the first four months of this year. January was revised down 39 kb/d, February revised down 4 kb/d, March was revised down 124 kb/d and April revised down 111 kb/d. So world production, before the April revision was down 214 kb/d. But after April was revised down the drop was only 103 kb/d. All these revisions involved non-OPEC countries. There were no OPEC revisions.

Ron P.

"Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, and No Partiers all have their preferred explanations, but if you put politics aside and look at economics, one big problem is clear: Our supposedly free-market economy is addicted to government spending and federal subsidies. And we're now in the early stage of an ugly detoxification.

Go ahead, blame it on [whatever political party you don't belong to]; political mud-slinging is expedient and doesn't require too much thinking. But a better uberexplanation for our addiction to government largesse is that we all like it--and depend on it. "


Folks love the Gov. aid that benefits them ... and we all depend on burning fossil fuels.

well! stone knives and bear skins all around, PUH-LEEZ!

no one, NO ONE, gets out of here alive. but will it come as some mass extinction?

jules verne, h.g. wells, asimov, a.c. clarke all were unbelieved.

so, let's get down to it. we should build giant space ships shaped like the familiar 55
gallon oil drum. we should launch a fleet of them to mars and titan, a moon of saturn.

there our ROV's will drill and recover valuable hydrocarbons for return to earth.

we will then continue BAU for TPTB. if a well head erupts on mars there's no environment to worry about. same for titan.

we need space tugs to capture asteriods for valuable minerals. they contain iron, nickle, iridium and other valuable elements and compounds. the tugs will tow them back to earth for mining.

soylent green is made of people. the oceans are dying. BP killed them.

if time ran backwards we would all eat $hit.


No oil on the other planets since there was no life there. You can get some methane though.


humbaba, you know how to break a man's heart. Thought you were praising ME there for a moment.

Not to be... Sigh....

Experts say NB Power knew refit was risky
Utilities board issued warning about the refurbishment

An energy analyst says it's becoming increasingly clear that the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor was a "devastating decision" for the province.

Toby Couture said the delays and ballooning costs of the refit show that the risks were "systematically underestimated at every step of the process."

"In hindsight, this was a foolhardy and devastating decision for the province," he said Monday. "It would have been far better to cut our losses."

Energy Minister Jack Keir announced last week that the refurbishment has been delayed by at least another year, a setback that puts the refit 2½ years behind schedule and pushes cost overruns to nearly $1 billion.


Point Lepreau came online in 1983 with a promise to run for 40 years at 90 per cent capacity, he said. After 25 years running at about 81 per cent capacity, however, the 635-megawatt reactor was taken offline to be refurbished.


Meanwhile, electricity from Point Lepreau is the costliest electricity on the grid in New Brunswick, Couture said.

"In 2006 dollars, it was estimated that the average levelized production cost of electricity from Point Lepreau was 11 cents per kilowatt hour," Couture said.

"If you escalate that forward to 2010 that's about 12 cents. And if you add on the cost of the refurbishment and the delays, it makes the levelized costs of actual electricity production (depending on how long it operates) somewhere in the order of 18 to 20 cents a kilowatt hour."

See: http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1169657

And it was such a fantastic success the first go around that the Province wants to build a second reactor.

Best hopes for better options.


New superbugs spreading from South Asia: study

Plastic surgery patients have carried a new class of superbugs resistant to almost all antibiotics from South Asia to Britain and they could spread worldwide, researchers reported Wednesday.

Many hospital infections that were already difficult to treat have become even more impervious to drugs thanks to a recently discovered gene that can jump across different species of bacteria...

They likewise found the superbug in Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well 37 cases in Britain, where several patients had recently travelled to India or Pakistan for cosmetic surgery.

"India also provides cosmetic surgery for other Europeans and Americans, and it is likely that NDM-1 will spread worldwide," said the study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet....

"Unprecedented air travel and migration allow bacterial plasmids and clones to be transported rapidly between countries and continents," mostly undetected ...


from the BBC

"At least one of the NDM-1 infections the researchers analysed was resistant to all known antibiotics...

Similar infections have been seen in the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands and international researchers say that NDM-1 could become a major global health problem."

Dr David Livermore, one of the researchers and who works for the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA), said: "There have been a number of small clusters within the UK, but far and away the greater number of cases appear to be associated with travel and hospital treatment in the Indian subcontinent...

This type of resistance has become quite widespread there. The fear would be that it gets into a strain of bacteria that is very good at being transmitted between patients."

Ohmy , was about to have a cup of Gumbo, and then look what shows up in my inbox.


Nothing in our shared cultural experience will prepare us better for the oncomingBlack Wave throughout the Gulf of Mexico than the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. And yet even this environmental catastrophe falls far short of what is coming around the corner in the Gulf.


Instead, I'll have crab cakes, give the CH4 more time to disperse.
Matthew - RIP

Details of energy contract Thursday

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s two largest utilities will announce details of a long-awaited power contract with Hydro-Quebec on Thursday, a move that will chart the state’s energy future for the next three decades.

Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service announced in March they had reached a tentative deal with Hydro-Quebec, the province-owned electric utility with more than 60 hydroelectric dams in Canada.


He added that Hydro-Quebec is about one-third of the state’s energy pie. With this deal inked, it adds political pressure for the utilities to reach a power-purchase agreement with Entergy, owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, he said.

Vermont Yankee’s future is unclear at the moment. The plant’s license to operate expires in March 2012 and the company’s credibility has taken a hit since allegations arose this year that top executives may have lied to regulators on key infrastructure issues.


But the move also angered environmentalists across Vermont who said power from Hydro-Quebec also includes at least one nuclear power plant and pointed to the company’s poor environmental history.

See: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100811/NEWS03/708119929/1004/NEWS03


Mayor introduces ecofriendly bill

San Francisco already has some of the nation's toughest green building standards for new construction. On Tuesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom introduced legislation aimed at making existing commercial buildings as ecofriendly as possible.

The legislation submitted to the Board of Supervisors would require the owners of large commercial buildings to conduct an energy-efficiency audit every five years and to supply annual updates - all of which would be available in a public database.

The audits would include a list of steps that would improve energy efficiency, like installing solar panels or sealing windows better, Newsom said. The reports would also include an estimate of energy savings from those steps, the cost of implementing them and their economic value. Property owners would have to supply that information to tenants.

See: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/10/BA5I1ES12J.D...

Best hopes for similar initiatives elsewhere.