Drumbeat: August 13, 2010

U.S. Oil, Gas Drilling Jumps the Most in Nine Months After Prices Gained

Oil rigs operating in the U.S. jumped the most in nine months this week after prices climbed to a three-month high of $82.97 a barrel last week, according to data published by Baker Hughes Inc.

Rigs exploring for and producing oil climbed by 25 to 636, the highest level since January 1991.

Crude Oil Drops to 1-Month Low After Retail Sales Fall Short of Estimates

Crude oil fell to a one-month low after sales at U.S. retailers rose less than forecast in July, a sign that economic growth is slowing.

Oil dropped for a fourth day as a lack of jobs prompted Americans to hold back on spending, according to figures from the Commerce Department. U.S. gasoline inventories increased for a seventh week last week, the government said on Aug. 11.

“The economic picture is unsettled,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy a procurement adviser in Stamford, Connecticut. “The fundamentals are weak, with high inventories and weak demand, so the market has a hard time holding above $80.”

Middle East Tanker Returns Triple After Owners Reject Money-Losing Cargoes

Returns from shipping Middle East crude oil to Asia, the world’s busiest route for supertankers, more than tripled this week as owners rejected unprofitable cargoes.

Relief Well to Be Completed to Ensure That Spill Is Stopped

Although tests of BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico appear to show that it is fully sealed, the government said Friday that work on a relief well will continue to complete the job of permanently plugging the gusher.

“The relief well will be finished,” Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who leads the spill response, said at a press briefing in Schriever, La. But he said BP and government scientists were still studying the test results to determine the precise procedures to be followed in completing the relief well.

Enbridge Reduces Operating Capacity of Crude Line 5, Curbing Oil Shipments

Enbridge Inc. has reduced the capacity of its 490,000-barrel-a-day line 5, which carries crude oil from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario.

“Our reduction on line 5 was part of our ongoing integrity management program,” Jennifer Varey, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. She declined to say by how much the pipeline’s capacity had been reduced. “All current volumes allocated to the line can be accommodated.”

United Refining rates reduced til Enbridge restart

(Reuters) - United Refining said they will continue to operate their western Pennsylvania refinery at reduced rates while they wait for Enbridge Inc to reopen the damaged crude oil line.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Disaster

Peak water…peak oil…peak food…peak this, peak that. After so many alarms with so few fires, many people think they can put away the fire extinguishers. Higher prices draw forth more supply…and substitutes. The limits seem to recede forever.

But the threat of disaster hasn’t disappeared; it is just retreating in good order like the Tsar’s troops…waiting for the worst possible moment to strike.

Energy Department auditor finds efficiency funds for cities, states going largely unspent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government audit finds that most of the money authorized for one of the energy efficiency programs in last year's stimulus plan is going unspent.

The Energy Department's inspector general said Friday that grant recipients have spent just 8.4 percent of the $3.2 billion authorized to help state and local governments become more energy efficient.

The surprising success of the green supply chain

FORTUNE -- One year after Wal-Mart launched an ambitious plan to help its suppliers track their energy and materials use and carbon emissions, the effort has officially become a trend among corporate multinationals.

But don't assume that these companies are forcing change purely out of their love of the environment. A slow- or no-growth economy is another driver, since lower energy and resource costs translate into higher profits. They're going green, but mainly because they're seeing green.

UK: First Geothermal Power Plant Given Go-Ahead

Cornwall Council has today granted planning permission for the development of the UK’s first commercial deep geothermal power plant, near Redruth in Cornwall. Developed by British company Geothermal Engineering Ltd, the plant will provide both renewable heat for the local area, and renewable electricity, which will be fed into the National Grid. The plant is expected to be fully operational in 2013. The announcement marks a major milestone in the development of geothermal energy in the UK.

Sharon Astyk: Things fall apart - slowly

Actually, it isn't all that slow, because a decade ago, all of this would have been largely unthinkable. The problem is that we don't see the gradual decline and fall - we are only vaguely aware that some things aren't quite what they used to be, and our progressive narrative tells us that they will soon be much better. But the problem is that's not necessarily true - there's little evidence for it. Even the most optimistic economists (and I don't recommend the most optimistic economists ;-)) have to admit our long term economic problems are extremely pressing. Add in resource depletion and climate change, both of which we know are major drivers both of economic decline and other kinds - more natural disasters, more struggle over natural resources, less excess to cushion our choices, and what we are experiencing is decline, steady, inexorable, and very hard to pull out of.

And yet, our natural inclination, of course, is to view these as temporary inconveniences, not a fundamental decline. And, of course, the jury is out - but the mounting evidence suggests that we are going to have to run faster and faster just to slow our declines - much less keep pace.

Retail sales up modestly, boosted by gas prices

WASHINGTON — Retail sales grew in July for the first time in three months but largely due to a rise in gasoline prices, the government said Friday in a series of reports that added up to a picture of sluggish economic growth.

Shutdowns give modest boost to oil demand

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia: Planned and unplanned refinery shutdowns in the Middle East provided a modest boost for oil demand, but left the market oversupplied, traders said.

Saudi Arabia’s PetroRabigh confirmed on Saturday it started initial production after a technical glitch hit the unit. Following the shut down, Saudi Arabia, which typically imports between 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 70,000 bpd of petrol, has been looking to buy extra cargoes on the spot market, traders said.

Science, engineering teams assessing BP well

(CNN) -- The anticipated bottom kill on the once-gushing Gulf of Mexico oil well may not have to be done, BP said Friday. But the company said that is a low probability.

Scientists and BP engineers were looking at pressure tests conducted Thursday and were to announce their decision Friday.

Alabama sues BP over oil spill "catastrophic harm"

Ala. (Reuters) - Alabama is suing BP Plc and Transocean for damages sustained from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the state's attorney general said on Friday.

"We are making this claim because we believe that BP has inflicted catastrophic harm on the state," attorney general Troy King told Reuters.

FACTBOX - Gulf of Mexico oil, gas ops back to normal

(Reuters) - Oil and gas companies returned personnel to offshore rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as the storm threats from Tropical Depression Five ended and no new storms were forecast for the region.

There was no impact to either oil or gas production from Tropical Depression Five in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Spill Prompts Brazil `Caution' on $7 Billion Assets Purchase From Devon

BP Plc’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is prompting Brazil to take a “cautious approach” before deciding on the company’s purchase of Devon Energy Corp.’s deepwater blocks, the head of the petroleum regulator said.

Analysis: U.S. Ranks Lower as Home Base for O&G Investment

Non-US-based companies have fared better in acquiring oil and gas concessions than US-based counterparts in the face of competition from national oil companies (NOCs) that have emerged as international players, according to a recent report by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) and Deloitte.

Nigeria disburses $4.7 bln to govt, plans wealth fund

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria has distributed $4.7 billion in revenues and windfall oil savings to government for July, a massive disbursal which is likely to trigger a drop in bond yields and interbank rates next week, dealers said.

Africa's biggest oil and gas producer shares its revenues among three tiers of government each month -- federal, state and local -- and tops the disbursal up with a withdrawal from its windfall oil savings if there is a shortfall.

Kazakh gas field group to cede stake to state - sources

(Reuters) - The four foreign stakeholders in Kazakhstan's Karachaganak gas field have agreed to cut their stakes and relinquish 10 percent of the company to the Kazakh government, sources told Reuters.

Industrial Production of Biodiesel Feasible Within 15 Years, Researchers Predict

ScienceDaily — Within 10 to 15 years, it will be technically possible to produce sustainable and economically viable biodiesel from micro-algae on a large scale. Technological innovations during this period should extend the scale of production by a factor of three, while at the same time reducing production costs by 90%. Two researchers from Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre) believe this to be possible.

Farms' water 'to be diverted to Eskom'

The government will soon start issuing compulsory water licences for farmers in some river-catchment areas in a bid to divert water to other priorities, such as Eskom's water-guzzling power stations.

Cosan: biofuels JV deal with Shell to close soon

(Reuters) - Brazil's Cosan, the world's biggest cane sugar and ethanol producer, should soon finalize a deal with oil giant Royal Dutch Shell over a $12 billion joint venture in biofuels, Cosan's chief executive said on Friday.

Surat will now be called solar city

SURAT: The city of Surat, which glitters with its diamonds, will now be called solar city of the country. The energy ministry of central government has given an approval in principle in this regard. This approval is given under the ministry of new and renewable energy's (MNRE) programme of development of solar cities in the country.

Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) had made a presentation in this regard in 2009 and sent an official proposal to recognise it as a solar city based on its work in last one year. Now, the SMC will establish a solar city cell and solar city stakeholders committee, which will provide necessary guidance and help to citizens and city-based organisations to make use of alternative sources of energy to keep the environment clean.

Russia: Iran's nuclear plant to start next week

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's nuclear agency said Friday that it will load fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant next week, defying U.S. calls to hold off the start of the launch.

Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said Friday that uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning the start-up process.

"From that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear-energy installation," he told The Associated Press.

Address Mistrust, Scientists Urge Nuclear Panel

Across the globe, nuclear power is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.

Despite enormous financial challenges and some fears lingering since the accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979, a few new reactors are in the pipeline in the United States, too. Meanwhile, 60,000 tons of radioactive waste are being stored at or near nuclear plants that churned it out, and successive administrations have planned but failed to build a safe storage site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Crude Oil Trades Near Four-Week Low in New York as Equity Markets Retreat

Oil traded near its lowest level in a month as retreating equity markets reinforced concern that a slowing recovery will crimp fuel consumption.

Crude pared earlier gains of 1.3 percent as the dollar reversed losses against the euro, undermining investors’ appetite for using commodities to protect against inflation. Oil may fall next week on speculation that slowing U.S. growth will cause fuel inventories to increase, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

OPEC sees continued supply overhang on slow demand

(Reuters) - Demand for oil will continue to grow slowly in 2011, when world economic expansion is projected to be slightly lower than this year's, OPEC said on Friday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said: "Given the current supply/demand outlook, the overhang in inventories is not expected to change significantly in the coming quarters."

In its Monthly Oil Report, OPEC left unchanged its forecast of a 1.05 million bpd increase in 2011 in global oil demand to 86.56 million bpd.

OPEC Likely to Maintain Oil Output at Next Meeting, Angola Minister Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to maintain current oil output levels when it next meets on Oct. 14 because oil prices are still at a satisfactory level, Angola Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said.

While oil activity may see “sudden changes, sentiments and signs within OPEC are to keep things as they are,” Vasconcelos told reporters in the capital, Luanda, today.

Gasoline Futures Decline on Concern High Unemployment to Curb Fuel Demand

Gasoline futures plunged to an 11- week low on speculation that fuel demand will decline, as a jump in U.S. jobless claims to a five-month high signaled a slower economic recovery.

Oil to Hold Above $75 as Rising Pattern Stays Unbroken: Technical Analysis

Crude oil, set for the biggest weekly drop in six, remains in a rising pattern on technical charts that will keep prices above $75 a barrel, according to National Australia Bank Ltd.

Solid refutation to IEA's analysis

Three weeks after the International Energy Agency (IEA) rushed to list China as the world's largest energy consumer, Chinese officials have come up with a solid rebuttal.

The National Energy Administration and the National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday conclusively proved, using both nations' officially released data, that China's total energy consumption was in fact 200 million tons of oil equivalent less than that of the United States in 2009.

Dirty fuels 'could follow' peak oil

Rising oil prices could lead to an increase in the use of 'dirty fuels' unless policy measures are taken to intervene, a leading scientist has said.

Writing in the forthcoming edition of Public Service Review: Science and Technology, Daniel Kammen, professor of energy at the University of California, warned that vast quantities of 'unconventional' oil resources could be exploited as crude oil reserves dwindle.

Kammen pointed to extraction techniques, such as from shale rock and the Fisher-Tropsch process – where coal is turned into oil – that could increase potential oil reserves substantially.

"The resource is an estimated 30 – 40 times larger than the oil resource we have exploited to date," Kammen said. "And, this resource comes with an increasingly larger energy and climate penalty per barrel: if a barrel of conventional crude has a climate impact of "1", then tar sands are about 1.3 times as bad per barrel, shale oil is more than 1.7 times as bad, and oil derived from coal more than twice as bad in life-cycle per barrel."

Enbridge works on Mich. oil pipeline restart plan

Marshall -- The company that runs a pipeline that spilled oil into the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan said Thursday it is revising its proposal to restart the line.

It's still not known when the Enbridge Inc. pipeline, shut down by an oil spill that was reported by the company July 26, might restart. Enbridge plans to file a revised startup plan with federal regulators Friday.

Enbridge pipeline shutdown hits producers

The shutdown of a key U.S. Enbridge pipeline is exacting a mounting toll across the North American oil industry, pinching profits, putting thousands of jobs at risk and threatening gasoline shortages.

Enbridge has closed off Line 6B, a pipe with 190,000 barrels of capacity, since a late July rupture sent 19,500 barrels of crude leaking into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. In so doing, it has shut off an important sales valve for Western Canadian crude and triggered an escalating set of problems.

Iran ready to sell oil in any currency: central bank

TEHRAN - Iran has made arrangements to start selling its oil in any currency rather than just the US dollar, central bank chief Mahmoud Bahmani said in a report on Friday.

“We will do our trade in any currency possible,” said Bahmani, quoted by the ISNA news agency, without giving a launch date for the policy or specifying if Iran would refuse to be paid in dollars.

“Maybe a country wants to use its own currency in trade — we will accept that,” he said, adding that the Islamic republic would have to absorb any “additional cost” associated with the switch.

Turkmenistan eyes $4.1 bln China loan for gas field

(Reuters) - Turkmenistan expects to receive a $4.1 billion Chinese loan to help develop the South Iolotan natural gas deposit, one of the largest untapped gas fields in the world, state television reported on Friday.

South Africa May Begin Building Oil Refinery in 2012, Business Day Reports

South Africa may begin building the Mthombo oil refinery at the Coega industrial development zone in the southeast of the country in 2012, Business Day reported, citing the Coega Industrial Development Corp.

US, Europe want greater oil firm regulation: poll

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Wide majorities in the United States and Western Europe support greater regulation of oil companies, with concern about the environment rising since the BP oil spill, a poll said Thursday.

The Financial Times/Harris Poll covering Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States found worries about oil dependency and water pollution since the spill that dumped 4.1 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP well may already be permanently sealed: official

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – BP's catastrophic well may already be permanently sealed and no further cementing necessary through a relief well, US spill chief Thad Allen said Thursday.

BP performed a static kill last week that suppressed the gushing oil with mud and blocked the main pipe with cement but was expected to conduct a final "bottom kill" operation to seal off the reservoir in the coming days.

But Allen said tests were under way that could show that the remaining area that needs sealing -- the annulus between the well pipe and the outer well bore -- was already cemented during the static kill.

Our Real Gulf Disaster

Four months after the Deepwater Horizon spill — which President Obama called the “worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” — the oil is disappearing, and fisheries are returning to normal. It turns out that this incident exposed some things that are seriously wrong in the world of oil — and I don’t mean exploding wells. There was a broad-based failure on the part of the media, the science establishment, and the federal bureaucracy. With the nation and its leaders looking for facts, we got instead a massive plume of apocalyptic mythology and threats of Armageddon. In the Gulf, this misinformation has cost jobs, lowered property values, and devastated tourism, and its effects on national policy could be deep and far-reaching.

BP Spill May Be Least of Gulf Woes as Farm Chemicals Invade, Wetlands Sink

Visit the Gulf of Mexico today and you’d hardly recognize it as the scene of what President Barack Obama called “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”

It’s as if scientists had conducted an insane experiment -- dumping about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the water -- and discovered its effect was in certain ways negligible.

Entering a Thicket, Engineers Quiz Oil Regulators

Delving into the gritty details of how offshore drilling is regulated, a National Academy of Engineering inquiry into the Deepwater Horizon well blowout found a big hole in oversight during a hearing on Thursday.

For BP, halfhearted gestures won't work

I never will forget the day, as a kid, when I carelessly spilled milk all over the kitchen table. My father was so upset he looked at me in disgust and said, "Clean it up!" Obstinately, I proceeded to compound my mistake, by making only a halfhearted attempt to wipe up the mess. In the process, I enraged my father further.

This memory came rushing back to me as I followed the BP oil leak saga. BP's seeming indifference and arrogance day after day, particularly that of ousted CEO Tony Hayward, only enraged Americans further.

Norway's oil fund dips on BP

Norway's sovereign wealth fund lost 5.4% on its investments in the second quarter as its core holding of BP shares halved in value and other stocks also fell, Europe's largest equity investor reported today.

Caribbean Petroleum files for bankruptcy

BANGALORE (Reuters) – Caribbean Petroleum Corp (Capeco) filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court late on Thursday, nearly ten months after a massive explosion at its major Puerto Rican fuel storage depot virtually shut down the company's operations.

Company seeks OK to sink test well at Shoal Point

A Canadian energy company may soon get the green light to begin drilling for oil off Newfoundland's southwest coast.

The Canadian Imperial Venture Corporation (CIVC) is waiting for approval from the federal-provincial oil regulator – the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board – to drill a test well on Shoal Point, near the Port Au Port Peninsula.

What Goes Up...

The economy is making the news a lot lately. Since the bursting of the mortgage bubble in 2007 and the subsequent ongoing financial crisis, which in the UK has seen over £850 billion taken from the public to prop up the banks that caused the problem in the first place. The media is playing it’s predictable role in keeping the public misinformed by referring to the money rolling in to RBS, Lloyds TSB and Barclays as 'profits', they aren't profits, they are debts to us - Those 'profits' are the same cash being cut from education, healthcare, and other public services. Regardless of the disinformation, people are becoming increasingly aware that there’s something very wrong with this picture.

Nine hopefuls in race for Longman

Greens candidate Rodney Blair, a chemical process operator, said he was concerned about “the future that we are creating for our children”.

“I am acutely aware that tackling climate change and peak oil in our community requires major investment and support to create a new green economy,” he said.

“I aim to retain and increase jobs and encourage development of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible industries locally.”

Matthew Simmons, 1943-2010

Matthew R. Simmons, an energy investment banker who died on Aug. 8 at age 67, was not the father of the "peak oil" theory. He was simply its loudest evangelist.

Ocean Energy Institute Founder Matt Simmons Dies on North Haven

Mac Deford, a close friend and advisory member of the Ocean Energy Institute board, as well as a foreign affairs and political analyst for The Free Press, said all those who were working with Simmons hope to move ahead on what he started.

"It will be difficult without him," said Deford. "He had the vision. He was the insider. He knew all the players."

"As a friend, he was one of the most stimulating guys that I've ever known. I like to use the word provocative because he always had an idea and an interest in them," said Deford.

DOE backs Hawaiian wind/battery project

Hawaii’s efforts to boost renewable energy generation and reduce dependence on oil imports has received a boost from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE has finalised a $117 million loan guarantee for a 30 MW wind power project located in Kahuku, Oahu, that will meet the electricity needs of around 7700 households on the island.

Think Globally, Compromise Locally

Bill McKibben, whose 1989 book, “The End of Nature,” helped coalesce and spread worry about climate change, views the national environmental groups’ strategy of winning support for energy and climate legislation by compromising with industry as a complete failure. “The result: total defeat, no moral victories,” he wrote at the environmental news site Grist, speaking of the Senate’s inaction on climate legislation.

“Making nice doesn’t work,” he added.

Whatever the merits of his position, it has less traction when it comes to local environmental issues. In this arena, there has been a string of successful compromises between environmentalists and industry in the last two weeks.

People feel more productive, healthy in green buildings

People think they're healthier and more productive after moving their office space into "green" buildings, according to a recent study published on the American Journal of Public Health's website.

A group of researchers working with Michigan State University surveyed two groups of employees before and after moving from conventional office buildings to LEED-certified buildings in the same Michigan area. After moving to the new building, employees said they thought they called out sick less and were more productive.

Report: Bottled water increasingly comes from the tap

As U.S. sales of bottled water decline, a report today finds that almost half of those in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles now come from municipal tap water.

Filtered tap water makes up an increasing share of bottled water -- rising from 32.7% in 2000 to 47.8% in 2009 -- as the share of spring-sourced water declines, according to analysis of industry data by the non-profit consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

San Francisco proposal would limit toys in kids' meals

A serious move is afoot to force fast-food giants to make kids meals more nutritionally viable if they want to sell them with kid-luring toys.

In San Francisco, newly proposed legislation would ban toys from most kids meals sold at McDonald's, Burger King and other chains unless the meals meet more stringent calorie and sodium limits. The legislation also would require fruit or veggies in each meal.

World '09 CO2 emissions off 1.3 percent: institute

(Reuters) - Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 fell 1.3 percent to 31.3 billion tonnes in the first year-on-year decline in this decade, German renewable energy institute IWR said on Friday.

The Muenster-based institute, which advises German ministries, cited the global economic crisis and rising investments in renewable energies for the fall in emissions.

Insuring the poor against climate disasters

The rain fell as a solid sheet for nine hours. When it eased, Corumi Street in Quezon City, where Maria Baltao had lived for 30 years, was a frothing torrent of brown water. Her house, a small concrete block with one bedroom into which she squeezed her three sons, was waist deep in water, and the roof had disappeared.

Until then, Maria had managed to keep her children in school by making and selling pulutan, a typical Filipino snack food, from her house. When, in a few hours last October, Typhoon Ketsana ripped through the Philippines, it seemed that everything was lost. Not only had she and her children lost their home, they had also lost their only means of income.

So far, it sounds like another story about a hapless victim of a climate disaster. But although Maria’s life was disrupted, it was far from ruined. Within three days, she’d had an insurance pay-out which gave her the money for a new roof, and the means to restart her business.

We either cut global warming or live with it

Sometimes the most important news is what is not happening.

This summer has given us one such example: the climate change bill, for which the US President Barack Obama had pushed so hard, will not even be presented to the US Senate because it stands no chance of passage.

DOE awards $21.3m grant for secure carbon storage projects

US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $21.3m funding over three years for 15 selected projects aimed at developing safe and economical technologies nationwide for storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations.

Liability options for 'clean coal' technology suggested

WASHINGTON - An administration task force is proposing several options aimed at overcoming liability obstacles that could hinder the development of "clean coal" technology. The experimental technique involves storing carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and other sources underground in an attempt to reduce pollution that some scientists say contributes to global warming.

Pakistani Site Tops Asian Heat Charts

Russia’s heat wave — the country’s worst in a thousand years, according to the head of its state meteorological department — has dominated headlines lately.

But it is not just Russia that is sweltering this summer. Belarus, Ukraine, Cyprus, Finland, Qatar, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Niger, Chad, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Ascension Island and the Solomon Islands all also broke or tied their all-time national temperature highs this year, according to an analysis by meteorologist Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. That is 17 nations in all.

Pakistan also achieved the dubious distinction of “the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on the continent of Asia,” Mr. Masters wrote.

Nature’s warning

Despite the many people who remain sceptical about global warming and climate change, increasing evidence indicates that it is not business as usual for the world’s weather patterns. There has been in general a rise in extreme climatic events over the years.

This cover piece from the Atlantic is getting a huge amount of attention. It's a very detailed attempt to get a grip on the possibility of war with Iran.

The writer has very good access to high level sources in Israel and the United States. Crunch time starts now with the likelihood of an attack in the Spring.

The Point of No Return

Crunch time starts now with the likelihood of an attack in the Spring.


The sanctions are working. Iran is isolated. Opposition is ripe at home.

While, there are members of the Israeli cabinet itching for the military option, doubt it if Washington considers that wise counsel.

Goldberg and The Atlantic are cheering the warmongers. Motive? Perhaps to inculcate public opinion to influence events on the Potomac in the case of a pre-emptive unilateral attack by Israel.

What Goldberg doesn't mention is that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud Party may not be in charge of events in Tel Aviv by next spring, either. They're under political uncertainties and time lines, too.

The military option, while always available, has hard to foresee collateral consequences. I can't imagine Obama giving the Israeli government a carte blanche green light to proceed. The risk is just too high.

In what way are sanctions working? Russia's about to complete the Bushehr nuclear plant, and Iran still has buyers for its oil.

Sure the Iranian populace are grumbling about not getting any gas, but I think they're a very long way from turning round and overthrowing the regime. Look at how much suffering happened in Zimbabwe, or South Africa under apartheid, or N Korea - sanctions may serve to make life uncomfortable for the locals, but those in power don't care and will take whatever increasingly brutal steps they need to to stay in power.

Sanctions won't do a thing to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions. And unfortunately, the west won't try and stop them militarily because they know what would happen: Iran would stop selling oil, and would attack shipping in Hormuz, and oil would go sky high, which would kill the western economy. So they play the waiting game, and hope desparately that Iran takes a very long time to get a nuke.

And when Iran does get a nuke, either they'll use it or Israel will attack them, at which point up goes the oil price and down comes the western economy again.

This is a lose-lose situation; the only question is how long can we drag it out before we lose?

That's insane. Why would Iran use any nukes against Israel? That would be suicidal.

President Ahmadinejad wouldn't be in control of these things, the clerics would.

It's like arguing you must shoot someone's arm off because they are holding a slingshot that he can use against you despite the fact you are holding a machine gun to his head.

Les - No way to verify but Ahmadinejad is reported to belongs to a Muslim sect that truly believes if the world ends in a great war his particular sect will rule the after world. Which remindes me of stories of folks who worked for the Pentagon that were true believers of Armagedon and thought a nulcear battle with Russia wasn't all the bad an idea.

We can laugh at such thoughts but it becomes much less funny when such a true believer has access to nuclear weapons. Remember there are thousands who believe that if they commit suicide while killing their enemies they'll be rewarded in heaven. And the kill themselves monthly on that belief. And what if one such believer could commit such a suicide by delivering a nuclear strike against his enemy? He dies either way....just a much bigger weapon and greater reward for him,

Exactly! Their religion is producing suicide bombers by the multitude. All that is required for a person to become a suicide bomber is the attitude that: "This is what God wants me to do." And also remember that in the last days of the war with Japan, hundreds of young men were very easily convinced to become suicide pilots in the cause that they felt so deeply about.

It would take only one such man with his finger on the nuclear trigger to set the whole thing in motion. And we already know that some of their leaders are absolute fanatics.

And there is another thing that we must not forget. When some people believe so deeply that God is on their side, they will often believe that God will protect their nation while he enemies of God to be utterly destroyed.

Ron P.

Are you talking about the U.S. and Israel
the middle east?

I suppose you are just trying to be funny. I don't see anything funny about a mad man with his finger on the trigger. But in case you were serious I was obviously responding to this question.

Why would Iran use any nukes against Israel? That would be suicidal.

The subject was not the Middle East but Iran in general and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in particular.

Ron P.

"I don't see anything funny about a mad man with his finger on the trigger."

Have you read anything about the religious beliefs of Bush II and many in his circle?

I suppose you are just trying to be funny.

My guess is he was seeing if you'd make some kind of post.

The next step is to point out how the US of A is the only nation to use fission weapons VS another nation...how the US of A violates its own laws WRT fission weapons and who gets help with an outline to the laws/issues of Pakistan, Israel, and even India.

For yucks toss in how the US of A is in violation of their own laws - having armed aggression VS another state without Congress going through the process of an actual war declaration.

Then riff off of:

I don't see anything funny about a mad man with his finger on the trigger

With comments about the mental health of various members of the US of A or any other group that has Fission/Fusion weapons.

Perhaps even compare and contrast Mr. Ahmadinejaid with other leaders...just for a laugh.

I'm looking forward to such verbal jousting.

Actually, eric, I think you just saved us all a lot of time and trouble. :-)

I am no Mark Twain. A fine wordsmith would have been able to take those ideas, place them in a bottle of crystal and when you'd open it the wafting vapor would have you say:

My, my - that is good 190 proof Snarcinol.

At best they are but corn awaiting mashing and the distillation. If you look, the corn has smut and worms so it's best use would be for making 'nol or slop for the swine (after tossing pearls before them).

The PR campaign to acclimate people to the idea of a war starts up in the US when the US govt decides that it needs the next war for some reason----some benefit that they perceive will come to them, or some "lesser evil vs greater evil" calculation.

After seeing the horrific results of all the US military actions over in the Middle East I`m extremely sceptical that any war would benefit anyone except the US military suppliers (large corporations) and maybe there would be solid political cover for some sort of emergency banking measures taken to protect US banks as the wheels of the economy fall off (quantitative easing, dollar hyperinflation, etc.)

After I left the US I stopped getting daily doses of the usual US rhetoric ("They`re all crazy fanatics over there in the Middle East") I don`t miss that at all.

Exactly! Their religion is producing suicide bombers by the multitude.

Umm..No! There are a lot of Sunni suicide bombers, their favorite target seems to be Shia muslims. Iran is dominated by the later sect. It is a mistake to conflate the two. I know to the average American there is no difference between them, but in reality there is. It is like a couple of hundred years ago Indian tribe X would have been pushed too far and kill a few settlers. Then peaceful tribe Y would be slaughtered since "all redskins are the same".

Essentially all Muslim suicide bomber terrorists appear to be Sunnis. I don't know of any suicide bombers who are Iranian Shiite muslims.

The only Shiite suicide attack that I've found is the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, where the driver of the van was alleged to be a Shiite. However, that attack was on a military target and therefore falls into the more normal category of suicidal military attacks.

The suicide belt or vest was actually perfected by the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. The assasination of Rajiv Ghandi in 1991 was done this way. The Tamil's are about 90% Hindu, although the motivation for the civil war was ethnic nationalism.

I think it's pretty clear religion doesn't really have anything to do with it. As you say, the secular Tamil Tigers invented it. Religiosity doesn't correlate to willingness to be a suicide bomber; many are not that religious at all. They are also not necessarily poor.

What causes suicide bombing is occupation. Suicide bombing was unheard of in Iraq...until we invaded.

Indeed, Leanan. Robert Pape argues in "Dying to Win" that "Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland."

Yes. Pape is the guy I was thinking about. He actually studied suicide bombers, and found out a lot of assumptions were wrong. They aren't crazy, they aren't particularly religious, and they aren't poor.

He explains it:

The conventional wisdom is that suicide terrorism is motivated by religious fanaticism - religious hatred combined with the promise of a martyr's paradise in the hereafter. What does your own research suggest?

The conventional wisdom is mostly wrong. Suicide terrorism is not mainly the product of Islamic fundamentalism or any other evil ideology independent of circumstance. I have studied 462 suicide terrorists; over half are secular. The world leader in suicide terrorism is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka - they're a Marxist group, a secular group, a Hindu group. The Tamil Tigers have committed more suicide terrorist attacks than Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Instead, what more than 95 percent of all suicide terrorist attacks since 1980 have in common is not religion, but a specific secular goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Chechnya to Kashmir to Sri Lanka to the West Bank, every suicide terrorist campaign since 1980 has had as its main objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw combat forces from territory that the terrorists prize.

He suggests that keeping our forces on ships just offshore would be smarter than all those boots on the ground.

I think it's pretty clear religion doesn't really have anything to do with it.

I don't think it's pretty clear at all. You dismiss it as if there were no doubt about it. At least one Evolutionary Psychologist would disagree with you.

In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence One reviewer's opinion.

Violence in the name of God is not an exceptional aberration that happens in spite of religious virtue (as believers usually claim), it is intrinsic to religion. To the extent that religions ride on our evolved psychology, religious morality will contain both sides of our nature, good and evil. To me, this is a central message in Teehan's book: we cannot ignore the ugly side of religious ethics (violence) or downplay it as an exception to the rule.

This is not a "new atheism" book, however, for Teehan never lets his analysis become a tool to criticize religion. Because of its unusually neutral approach, this book offers a great opportunity to the believer to better understand the real roots of her/his faith. In fact, in the last chapter Teehan devotes a section to admonish the "new atheists" (Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett) for their radical attitude which, ironically, creates another in-group/out-group dichotomy (just like religions do, according to Teehan).

The book is very kind to all religions. Teehan seeks to explain religion as simply part of our evolutionary heritage. He seeks to explain rather than to apologize or criticize. But to say that some religions are no more violent than others, or to say that the violence committed in the name or religion has nothing to do with religion is just plain wrong.

Ron P.

With all respect, your quote does not speak to the specific point at hand since it does not mention modern suicide bombers. I doubt anyone would question that religious belief can lead to violence--plenty of clear examples there. It just does not seem to play as large a roll in this particular kind of violence as many assume.

Find a study as thorough as Page's that suggest the opposite about this particular kind of violence, and you will have offered a real counter study that would need to be addressed.

With all respect, your quote does not speak to the specific point at hand since it does not mention modern suicide bombers.

Dohboi, violence is violence. Did you actually expect an author to say something to the effect: "But certain kinds of violence do not have religious causes." No, I think not.

In fact religious zealotry is responsible for unimaginable violence.

Religious fanaticism has clearly produced, and in all probability will continue to produce, enormous amounts of bickering, fighting, violence, bloodshed, homicide, feuds, wars, and genocide. For all its peace-inviting potential, therefore, arrant (not to mention arrogant) religiosity has led to immense individual and social harm by fomenting an incredible amount of anti-human anti humane aggression.
- Albert Ellis

Ron P.

I'm not sure, Ron. It might just be that we use religious justification to get around the moral argument against war.

In which case, any old religion will do, since they all are exceptionalists, and by definition intolerant. They all start with the propoisition, "God is on our side." With the same results every time. In most wars, both sides have 'god' on their side. Strange that anyone ever loses a war, eh?


Craig, you do not understand either. In Islam there are no moral arguments against war. There are only moral arguments for war. The entire world outside Islam is Dar al Harb, the world of war.

Ron P.

Dar al Islam is the world of the submitted. They recognize the Abrahmic religions as tolerable, to be endured if they pay the tax and submit to the civil authority. Historically, the Jews in Spain had it better under the Muslims than under the Christian Church. Not that there was a lot to be said for either, but better.

Having said that, I don't understand the distinction between using religion to justify war as moral, and having no moral arguments against war.

And, I do recognize the complexity and difficulty with Islam... the last I heard, almost all of the conflicts in the world are where Islam abuts some other nation, not Islamic. The problem that I have is the parallel with setting up a religious out-cast group as the villains, and stoking hatred against them as a means to political power. It just bothers me is all. We should be very careful in generalizing.


You just made a generaliztion about Islam.
"In Islam there are no moral arguments against war."

wow, Is it just me, or did that not come off as a biased comment?

I'm not an expert on the old testament, but I'd be willing to bet, there's some fire and brimestone plus some stories that aren't all that sweet and peacefull.

Violence in the name of God is not an exceptional aberration that happens in spite of religious virtue (as believers usually claim), it is intrinsic to religion.

Ron, I respectfully disagree with your expert. Violence is intrinsic to the human capacity to run things to their full measure. Robespierre and Stalin committed atrocities in the name of the state. Hitler in the name of the Aryan tribe. Numerous other examples pepper history.

The twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history. It was also the most secular. It was also the most crowded -- that is, until the 21st century anyway.

Yes religious people commit violence. They also make love, fart, laugh, chill out with friends, and think critically. Typecasting and pigeonholing may help classify; but regardless of the criteria, human beings are just one nasty piece of work at times. That includes everybody.

Are extreme nationalism or patriotism very different from fanatical religiosity, tribal or racial protectionism?


I find it alarming how much westerners are ignorant of the Islamic states, the Islamic religion and the Islamic daily life. To a Moslem there is no such thing as religion! Islam is not their religion, Islam is what they are, who they are. It is their life, their entire existence. Outside Islam there is nothing but the world of war. Their religion requires that the world be divided between Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb, the world of Islam and the world of war.

"Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb" Google it! I lived in an Islamic state for five years. I have heard that phrase many, many times. It is not what they believe it is who they are.

Ron P.

I find it alarming how much westerners are ignorant of the Islamic states, the Islamic religion and the Islamic daily life. To a Moslem there is no such thing as religion! Islam is not their religion, Islam is what they are, who they are. It is their life, their entire existence. Outside Islam there is nothing but the world of war. Their religion requires that the world be divided between Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb, the world of Islam and the world of war.

Should I apply a search and replace with Islam and replace Judaism here? Will there be outrage if I did?

If you are going to condemn one religion for such, would you condemn them all Ron?

If you are going to condemn one religion for such, would you condemn them all Ron?

Eric, I am not condemning any religion. Where in my post did I indicate that I was condemning anyone? No you just made that crap up. You have a long history of doing that.

I was just trying to explain that Westerners do not understand Islam at all. That is all, nothing more. And if you think I was condemning Islam then you understand less than anyone else.

I think most Jews would understand what I was trying to say but most Christians would not. To most Christians religion is something they believe in. To a Moslem there is no such thing as religion, there is only "Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb".

But obviously you do not understand what I was trying to say. Perhaps you are incapable of such understanding. If that is the case then please accept my apologies.

Ron P.

Why ask a Muslim?
Why not just take Ron's word for it...?

But obviously you do not understand what I was trying to say

No your words support the charge of you being a bigot that was made the other day.

Bigot - a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own

To imply that Muslims have a monopoly on hate wouldn't be accurate. I suggest that acting on that hate is encouraged in some cultures more than others, and concepts of honor, glory and resistance vary widely with what stories your people tell.

Remember, Ron, 235 years ago, shooting people from behind trees and running away was considered an act of extreme cowardice by the British, though it was considered patriotic by our founding fathers. 70 years ago fire bombing cities full of women and children was also acceptable practice against a Nazi aggressor. The unfortunate killings of civilians in Afganistan (by unmanned aircraft) is called "collateral damage" in our war on terror. All acts of extreme prejudice. Terror, it seems, is in the eye of the terrorized.

I always try to avoid the holier-than-thou trap. It isn't compatible with clarity.

Damn Ghung, you are getting almost as bad as Eric. Almost but not quite. ;-)

Please, please God, read my post again. Where did I say anything about hate? Then if you can find anywhere I said anything about hate, or even implied that hate was involved, then I will kiss your ass on the courthouse square and give you 30 minutes to draw a crowd.

You, like Eric, simply do not understand one thing I was trying to say. To us Westerners religion is something we believe! To a Moslem Islam identifies who they are. Islam is their very existence. Islam describes their very existence, not what they believe.

Christians, Jews, Agnostics and most Atheists like me, identify religion with a person's belief system. Moslems do not have a belief system. They have... who they are and nothing more. I know you do not understand that. But if you had prayed five times a day, every day of your life, and if you had memorized your holy book, word per word by the time you were 12 years of age, you would have a better idea of what it is like to have your whole existence identified with that system of existence. You then could not possibly identify yourself with a belief. It would simply be who you are.

But from the point of view of a scientist, is it not just a story? I ask. He tells me that if I were writing an article saying that Adam and Eve is a big lie, it will not be accepted until I can prove it.

"Nobody can just write what he thinks without proof. But we have real proof that the story of Adam as the first man is true."

"What proof?"

He looks at me with disbelief. "It is written in the Koran."

Science and Islam, Discover Magazine, 1955

Ron P.


I'm sorry I never had time to respond to your answer to my rant Monday...far too much to do until it made no sense to respond.

Look, US citizens are no different than other "believers." Cross us and we'll bomb the hell out of you.


Todd, I haven't a clue as to what you are talking about. But I assume your last sentence has to do with the current thread. If that is the case then you are mistaken. US citizens do "believe" but Moslems do not believe as we know it. They simply are. Islam does not describe a belief, it describes their entire existence.

I know that is very hard for a Westerner to understand. It requires a lot of long and hard thought and even then very few will comprehend it. And for sure I cannot explain it. It needs a far better explainer than I.

Ron P.

Word Origin & History

1460 (adj., n.), from M.Fr. infidèle, from L. infidelis "unfaithful," later "unbelieving," from in- "not" + fidelis "faithful" (see fidelity). In 15c. "a non-Christian" (especially a Saracen); later "one who does not believe in religion" (1526). Also used to translate Arabic kafir, from a root meaning "to disbelieve, to deny," strictly referring to all non-Muslims but virtually synonymous with "Christian;" hence, from a Muslim or Jewish point of view, "a Christian" (1534).

Not big on th e Koran but I think it says kill all non believers.

"Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb" is the diametric world view that gives some Muslims permission to hate. Hate permits us to kill. I know that there are people of many cultures who (especially under certain circumstances) develop equally black and white world views. Christians have "good" and "evil". I also know devout Muslims who reject this xenophobic, sociopathic aspect of their religion. Humans have devised various ways to invalidate and demonize other members of their own species. As you stated, it's evolutionary. And try not to be so grumpy ;->

And so we now have our military over in Paksistan involved in trying to help them.
Helicopters are in the air, men are handing out food.

But the Islamists hate us no matter.

I say let the Mullas go save them. Put their bodies where the action is.

I get tired of us being the good guys and always being portrayed as filth.

As I recall I never took and oath to protect and defend other countries. It was ONLY the US of A. And that is what my mission was and it was covert since we did not wish the Russians to know what we were doing and since they declared openly they would "Bury Us."..

If when signing up and taking that oath I was informed that I might have to fight other countries wars I would not have raised my hand.

We lost good men protecting the shores of our country against the scum who wished to eliminate us from the face of the earth. They set saboteurs ashore who caused our aircraft to crash and burn. I watched one burn as 9 men perished that dark night , one a good buddy of mine.

We had three aircraft abort that one night counting the one that burned. Later we overflew the Russkie sub who had set the saboteurs ashore. One of my buddies snapped a photo of it.

We live in an age where others still wish to destroy us. Islam is one of them.
Communism was another once upon a time.

Todays youth are beyond help. They never lived it. They live only for the next tattoo and the next Bevis and Butthead episode. A perfect example of their lifestyle IMO. Or now its another "Twilight" flick and pretend Vampirism.

This is our youth? Our future?

We will not make it!Perhaps we do not deserve to anymore. It has come down to this.

So soon we forget. Some are never taught our history but its all covered over in smoke and mirrors and feel good nonsense.

But still there are those who stand on a wall, and fly many missions and stand readiness watches on the oceans to keep this country safe against her enemies and we have forgotten them and their missions. Men who still give their lives.

And so now we will leave those Muslim countries and all those lives will have been in vain. I suspect that they wlll once more rise up and make threats. Then we will leave it to Israel to fight our fights since we now have ..............(you finish the sentence).

Our military is becoming a sham. Men sent to fight and not allowed to win. Men sent to hand out candy and take care of the ill. Men who were trained to defend must now play nursemaid.

And now we debate it over crumpets and tea? All those who died by suicide bombers and IEDs? Men whose family will have no idea except a burial and tears.

I hate what is happening. I would not send a grown up child of mine into this ignorance.

Men who were trained to defend

"Defending" in a forgein country is known as attacking.

I get tired of us being the good guys


I found a post elsewhere on the internet which did my job for me, bar the copying and pasting.

Year Country Reason

1949 Syria Elected government against USA political interests and pro-Palestinian.

1949 Greece Elected government against USA political and economic interests.

1952 Cuba Elected government against USA business interests.

1953 Iran Elected government against USA oil interests.

1953 British Guyana Access to sugar and bauxite.

1954 Guatemala Elected government against USA business interests.

1955 South Vietnam French backed leader replaced by USA backed leader.

1957 Haiti Previous government against USA business interests.

1958 Laos Pro-USA government wanted.

1959 Laos Pro-USA government wanted.

1960 South Korea Previous leader not strong enough for USA.

1960 Laos Pro-USA government wanted.

(We had a hell of a time in Laos. Coup after coup after coup as the puppets cut their strings.)

1960 Ecuador Previous government too independent in foreign policy.

1963 Dominican Republic Elected government against USA business interests.

1963 South Vietnam Previous leader's policies led to televised suicides.

1963 Honduras Pro-USA government and access to resources.

1963 Guatemala Military government was about to allow elections and the Communists were ahead in the polls.

1963 Ecuador Elected government too independent.

1964 Brazil Access to resources and cheap labor.

1964 Bolivia Previous government too independent in foreign policy.

1965 Zaire Access to cobalt, copper and diamonds.

1966 Ghana Previous government too independent in foreign policy.

1967 Greece Military bases.

1970 Cambodia Previous king against USA political interests. (This set the stage for Pol Pot and the US backed Khmer Rouge.)

1970 Bolivia Country took ownership of its oil and tin.

1972 El Salvador Elected leader against USA business interests.

1973 Chile Elected government against USA business interests.

1979 South Korea Pro-USA government wanted.

1980 Liberia Pro-USA government wanted.

1982 Chad Pro-USA government wanted.

1983 Grenada Pro-USA government wanted.

1987 Fiji Previous elected government supported nuclear-free Pacific.

2002 Venezuela Disagreed with foreign policy of elected government.

2004 Haiti Disagreed with economic policy of elected government.

2009 Honduras Attempted to Change Constitution Disagreed with economic and foreign policy of elected government.

Aren't there 1 billion Muslims in the world?
You keep saying people who believe in Islam....

Out of one billion people, aren't any of them secular?
or Liberal?

They don't all live in Saudi Arabia.

They all live and breath Islam?

They all believe that everything outside of Islam is war?


Naw, every last one of 'em are robot clone killing machines who spend their every waking moment plotting how to eliminate all non-muslims!

It's either us or them...all 1 Billion plus must be marked for extermination!

/sarconal off

Islam grew out of the world of the Arabs. To gain further understanding of their thinking, one can read "The Arab Mind" by Raphael Patai. I found his comments regarding Islam to be quite similar to Darwinian's posts above. Their world view is totally different from those of us who are schooled in the world view prevalent in Western Nations (aka: "the Free World")...

E. Swanson

I have been seeking to explain that religion is a normal part of our ev olutionary heritage here since I found the site.

Why such a sophisticated audience as this one has such a hard time dealing with this fact is somewhat of a paradox;of course most people don't REALLY understand evolution, but it is frustrating to hear people who are quite knowledgeable otherwise talk about religion as if it were a behavioral abberation of some sort.

To me this sounds like saying wolfpacks or bison herds are abberations.

If religions did not contribute positively to environmental fitness, evolution would have done away with them by now.

If religions did not contribute positively to environmental fitness, evolution would have done away with them by now.

Exactly Mac! The real poser is why is that so hard for some people to understand? After all it is as plain as the nose on one's face.

Ron P.

If religions did not contribute positively to environmental fitness, evolution would have done away with them by now.

Actually, no. Not at all. The cold virus doesn't benefit us but it still exists. It exists to benefit itself.

And the same can be said of religion. It is a virus that infects its hosts. It reproduces and is transmitted by close contact to friends and family that have been infected. It may have great defense mechanisms such the threat of any 'apostates' that rid themselves of the infection and thus they do not do so. Religion has geographic distribution patterns just like the flora and fauna that evolved. Religion itself evolves. And it divides into different species. (Sunni v. Shia, Orthodox v. Catholic v. Protestant, etc.)

So religion may be propagated because of its own evolutionary fitness.

Religions evolve and spread out just like species diversify in numbers.
Good power law fit assuming maximum entropy dispersion in rate of adoption. Its all about mutations.

The dots to the far right are the usual suspects and those to the left are rare
Statistical Dynamics of Religions and Adherents

And the same can be said of religion. It is a virus that infects its hosts. It reproduces and is transmitted by close contact to friends and family that have been infected.

There is a very good book about memetics. I think it is called virus of the mind. It goes over this in great detail. Essentially memes and groups of memes (which is what religion is) compete for mindspace. It is an evolutionary battle. But fitness is determined by propagation of the meme, not whether it is good for the mind in infects.

The real fun is that Christianity created Islam when it excommunicated the Syrian church pre-Nicean changes. And, at the same time, they rewrote books, added to otherers (mostly Paul's works, and mostly to rid them of favorable references to women, who by then were expected to shut up and make nice - Paul was probably a gnostic in fact, though most clear references were deleted) and added fraudulent books to the Bible they invented at the time. During the following years, the faith of Muhammed (seems that the name just might mean "Jesus" in context) and for several hundred years the Koran underwent extensive revisions and changes before it was codified in its present state.

The church of the time established the current literalist view, and changed many facts. Actually there were many books available to choose from pre-Nicea, but the Syrian church's books were condemned, and mostly destroyed. Details and facts were distorted, falsified, and codified at Nicea. People were forbidden to read the books, and only priests were allowed that right. In fact, reading was forbidden (for centuries it was called "Privilege of Clergy") for just that reason.

Those Dark Ages were really dark!


Do Chimps, Gorillas, and Orangutans have religions?

You must believe chimps must have a religion since they are our closest living ancestor and there's very little difference between us.

I'm not knocking you're hypothesis, it could be true, I don't know.
But, I doubt there's anyway to find out.

that 'little bit of difference' actually accounts for quite a lot of difference.


No, their 'thinking' is not as high-order as ours.

Maybe they are happier.

The evolution of our brains and the perception it brings allows us to recognize and ponder death, a negative side-effect of an otherwise (but probably short-lived) beneficial rationality and logic. Religions, IMO, are belief systems that moderate the fear of death and seem to be seated in the mammalian (social) brain. It appears the need to subjugate the fear of death is more important than a firm grasp upon reality. Too much reality may be debilitating and a little hocus pocus between the brain modules may have fitness value, until it doesn't.

We have reproduction to achieve, in relative terms, everlasting life. Too bad Homo sapiens are more interested in preserving ghosts.

>>Religions, IMO, are belief systems that moderate the fear of death

You are probably just thinking of modern American religions. Many religions accentuate the fear the death. Hell & purgatory, dude.

Religion has other roots such as the desire of agriculturalists to control the weather and the desire of hunters to suceed in killing game. Religion is deeply connected to incantations, sacrifices, and magic. Among the first religious acts in the bible are the burnt offerings from their fields and flocks by Cain and Abel. Alas, god was not a vegetarian.

Religion generally provides an explanation for the unexplainable. It offers a way out for people who are unable to simply say "we do not know".


Les, when you say "Exactly" you should quote the phrase that you are agreeing with. As you can see your post appears about half a mile down the page from the post you were replying to. Almost no one is going to try to figure out exactly what post you were replying to. Although they could do it if they tried hard enough. But they will not. They may think you were replying "Exactly" to a post that you absolutely disagreed with.

Ron P.

Click on "Parent," and it will take you to the comment Les is replying to. There's no need to quote unless the original post is so long it's not clear what part you're agreeing with.

I realize that but how many people will do that. 99 our of 100 will never click on "parent", they will just think something to the effect of "what the hell" and just keep right on scrolling down the page.

Ron P.

I disagree. I think most people understand how threaded forums work. If they don't, that's their problem.

The only Shiite suicide attack that I've found is the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut, where the driver of the van was alleged to be a Shiite.

That sounds right, Shiites are the biggest ethnic group in Lebanon, and Hezbollah is Shiite. Iran gets street creds in the Arab world for also supporting Hamas, which is Sunni's primarily in Gaza. I don't think Ahmedinijad is nearly as crazy as we portray him to be. His statement was not about obliterating Israel, but replacing its current government (I.e. Regime change). And Persians are notorious for exxageration.

I think you are correct. I don't remember any shiits straping suicide vests and bombing anyone, especially Israelis.

Plus, Iranians are mostly Persian, not Arab.

What about Iran's support of Hamas and Hizbollah? I think they've produced plenty of suicide bombers, even if those suicide bombers aren't Iranian Shia themselves.

Hamas are Sunnis, and they were democratically elected to lead the government of Gaza, until Israel and the United States decided that democracy was a bad idea.

Free and fair elections in any Middle Eastern nation will invariably elect an anti-Israeli government.

Hizbollah are Shiite. Do you have any links to news stories about Hizbollah suicide bombers? I don't know of any.

I was with GreenIan until he said Iran will use nukes on Israel. They wont' do that. They are not totally crazy.

And Ron is saying that "religion is producing suicide bombers by the multitude". No, Iran is Shiia. Most of the suicide bomber types are Sunnis . . . you know, the type of Muslim that our 'friends' the Saudis are.

In the end Ahmidinjhad(however it is spelled) is just another human. He loves his friends and family and doesn't want to destroy the world. Sure, they say blustery things that scare people here. But you need to realize that he is playing to a local audience. He is the George Bush of Iran. He is throwing out the same demonize-the-other-side crap that Reagan & Bush threw out here. Crazed-religious nut with apocalyptic views? You could say the same thing about Reagan who had a lunatic like Hal Lindsey giving him apocalyptic 'Biblical advice' for military matters.

No, the Iranians are just people too. And if we don't do something stupid, the theocratic rule will collapse within the next 40 years just like the USSR did. We already saw the Twitter revolution start laying the groundwork. Young people on the internet, rock&roll, videogames, satellite television, fast food . . . those things plus the economic mismanagement of the local leaders will bring down Iran just like it brought down the USSR.

Iran is definitely a worry . . . but it isn't the worry that out local demonize-the-other-side people would have you to believe. If we keep our local demonize-the-other-side people on a leash, Iran will do so as well.

did you forget that also applies to isrial and their false belief that they have a divine right to many of the lands there? isrial is just as much a theocratic state as iran even though they have elections.

I don't think Ahmadinejad has the power in Iran to start a war.

“You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs,” he said. “When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the world should start worrying, and that’s what is happening in Iran.”

Iran?! For a moment there I thought he was talking about fundamentalist evangelical Christians led by the likes of a Sarah Palin or some right wing Republican right here in the good old US of A. Maybe a bunch of radical orthodox Jewish Rabbi wingnuts would fit the bill as well... Why should just some messianic apocalyptic cults have all the fun? Hey, lets just level (no pun intended) the playing field.

O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem Jerusalem.

I read that story. It amazes me a destinction is never made between Atomic bombs measured in kilotins and themronuclear bombs detonated by atomic bombs and measured in megatons.

If and when Iran gets atomic bombs, I doubt they'd be crazy enough to use those things against a country with 100 thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs, with a friend with thousands.

It's just not adding up.

Israel is such a tiny country. If struck even with small nukes, somehow I don't think they could mount much of a counter attack though the article does say they have 2 subs in the Persian Gulf.

The US will never use nuclear weapons against a state that is not directly threatening its soil.

Not that my opinion counts for much, but as part of any settlement of this potential conflict, I think Israel's nukes should be brought into the open & disarmament put on the table.

Israel is a tiny country, but an Atomic Bomb measured in Kiltons cannot take out Israel.

Even several of them.

However, I do believe we and Israel have enough nuclear fire power ro wipe out Iran.

But, I doubt we'd go that far because of their oil fields.

Sorry, you underestimate the power of the bomb. A wargames exercise a few years back concluded that it would only take 8 nukes in major cities to essentially knock the USA back to the stone age. You don't have to turn an entire nation into a radioactive wasteland to destroy it. I think if Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were taken out, you could pretty much kiss Israel goodbye.

Of course that raises the question of whether any muslim would ever consider nuking Jerusalem...

How many ATOMIC bombs vs Hydrogen bombs, would it take to take out Tel Aviv?

I assume their atomic bomb would be roughly similar in size to the bombs we used to take out Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Israel would lay waste to Iran.

Iran knows that, or should know that. They are not stupid. I believe their bark is worse than their bite, just like us.

And, don't forget, our previous president put them on the AXIS OF EVIL list.

It would only make sense for them to go nuclear to defend themselves from possible attack from either us or Israel.

We did after all, invade and occupy Iraq based on dubious claims.

Would not a couple high altitude air bursts be enough? EMT would take out most of the computers in the US. No sense in making the land radio active, destroy the people.

I believe we are nine meals from massive starvation due to JIT infrastructure, but then again I'm a doomer. All gas pumps now are computer controlled ... hello GoNoWhere.

BTW: What kind of Muslims were the 9-11 guys? Shiite or Sunni? Were not 15 of them were KSA?

Plus 1 Egyptian, 1 Lebanese, and 2 UAE. All Sunni, although the KSA are most probably from the Wahhabi branch of Sunni.

BTW: What kind of Muslims were the 9-11 guys? Shiite or Sunni? Were not 15 of them were KSA?

They were all Sunni. Al Qaeda is an extremist fundamental Sunni group. I don't know if all or just most are members of the Saudi Wahabi sect.

But we did have Iranians driving young boys to clear minefields during the Iran Iraq war. So they are indeed capable of suicide missions.

Suicide missions in war are relatively common. If you don't have the stomach to put a battalion in position where it will be wiped out in order to enable a division to exploit an advantage, then you are not General officer material.

Suicide missions in war are relatively common.

In the US military there are NO suicide missions. There may be missions with very low survival probability, but we always want the participants to think they have a chance.

Do you have a link or any other reference so one could locate this study?

I am curious.

I have done studies for a living for part of my life.

Thanks for the link. Very thought provoking. Ultimately, Israel will not be a victim ever again. Obama wanted the job and we can only wish him luck.

I believe there are many many bunker busters on Diego Garcia. They are there for a reason?


Israel is not a vicitm if you happen to be Palestinian. You must be familiar with the settlers.

If Israel is going to be that paranoid, maybe it was a very bad idea allowing them to have nukes of the hydrogen variety.

It's doubtful Iran will try to take control of the Palesinian aquifer or water from the Golan heights.

btw, I have allot of Jewish in-laws, but most of them are not insane.

Les, objectively speaking, they do have reason to be paranoid. I guess that makes them simply fearful (rationally).

As with every other state, they have a right to exist and defend themselves.

I agree they have a right to exist and defend themselves.
I also believe the Palestinians have behaved badly.
I think the Palestinians would have been better off with a Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr.
They would have been better off practicing non-violent resistance.

I also believe there are settlers who want a greater Israel and talk about transfer.

Ethnic cleansing is NOT a good way to make nice with your neighbors.

I think both sides have behaved bad and we as a country should make it crystal clear to both sides.

Otherwise, the cycle of violence will never end.

As with every other state, they have a right to exist and defend themselves.

How'd that work out for Saddam, The Ottoman Empire, The Aztecs, or how about 'the state of palastine'?

A right to exist seems tied to an expression of violence....unfortunately.

If Iran simply absorbs the Israeli attack, they win big:

  • Israel becomes isolated by the international community as a rogue state,

  • The US War on Terror collapses due to a lack of allies,

  • US allies shift to passive agressive competitors, and the passive agressive competitors shift to outright opposition, steadily eroding our "sole superpower" status, and

  • Iran is armed with modern air defenses to ward off further attacks and is able to rebuild without threat of further sanctions or attacks.

>>Israel becomes isolated by the international community as a rogue state

Anybody who isolates them is probably an enemy already.

It is widely recognized that Iran is arming itself with nukes. How can this not be a problem for the world?

I do agree an Israeli attack may not accomplish much that is useful and could be a big loss for the US. The real point of the article is to point out that the Israelis may have no choice and that things might be better if the US gets directly involved militarily.

It is widely recognized that Iran is arming itself with nukes. How can this not be a problem for the world?

At one point "we" decided on arguments of "The Peaceful Atom" and MAD - "Mutually Assured Destruction".

If MAD is valid - then Iran having a bomb (or several) is no problem.

If "The Peaceful Atom" is valid - then Iran having a reactor for civilian power is OK.

Where are the discussions on MAD and the peaceful atom?

The Slate piece gives the circumstances why MAD doesn't really apply. No time to launch your counterstrike.

Third, Iran and Israel are so near each other as to make "warning time" of an attack almost impossible. Therefore, in a crisis, one side might launch a first strike, if just to pre-empt the other side from launching a first strike. (This is what deterrence theorists call "crisis-instability.") Even if neither side really wanted to nuke the other, circumstances might leave them with seemingly no alternative.

Both nations have Subs - Iran announcing they are building some new ones.

With subs having weapons - they become the counterstrike platform. I believe that is part of MAD's madness.

"But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.

And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away."

The Israeli sub fleet is tiny & we live in a world where there is substantial anti-sub capability. The entire theatre is rather small also.

I don't buy the miniature cold war scenario where 2 parties jostle for decades but nobody achieves military supremacy. It would be far more unstable than the Cold War which was bad enough.

Besides, Iran's future arsenal is not simply a threat to Israel but to everybody in reach, very few of whom have nukes.

Besides, Iran's future arsenal is not simply a threat to Israel but to everybody in reach, very few of whom have nukes.

If this is the belief then perhaps the discussion should be about MAD and the peaceful atom VS a conversation about who's a villain this week. Who's it gonna be next year as people push for Fission electrical plants in a world with less energy? What happens when the political process chooses someone who isn't "liked" by other, bigger nations who also have some human control over splitting atoms?

If the villain of today isn't eligible because of their 'madness' or 'religious belief' - why should the conversation then stop with that villain - is the leader having Alzheimers, being part of a State Secessionist movement, having ties to TV preachers, or whatever make them fiar game for the 'madness' or unacceptable religious belief? If the villain of today is a villain because of the way they treat their citizens or their neighbors - how would your nation do VS such a yardstick? How would you explain away a military budget of over 50% of the spending pie or having 25% of the population embroiled in the criminal legal system - if called a warmonger and a police state how would you defend VS those charges?

So, where is John Foster Dulles when we need him?

Or, better, the Kingston Trio?


How close are India and Pakistan to each other?

They share a border.

Numerous experts have predicted that these two are the most likely to have anuclear exchange...but it hasn't happened yet.

India is at something of a disadvantage, since if it pre-empted Pakistan, the fallout would drift over India. The reverse isn't necessarily true.

India is at something of a disadvantage, since if it pre-empted Pakistan, the fallout would drift over India. The reverse isn't necessarily true.

I think that depends on the season. The summer monsoon has southerly winds, and the reverse happens in winter.

I agree. The potential costs may greatly outweigh the risks.
And for what,
the article itself, said this attack would probably only DELAY Iran eventually getting the bomb, and make them angrier in the process.

The Middle East isn't destabilized enough?

attack would probably only DELAY Iran eventually getting the bomb, and make them angrier in the process.

I doubt it would cause delay, rather than the opposite. There has been no credible evidence Iran is seeking N weapons (admittedly national security reviews are a bit dated when they come out). But pissing them off with an attack -especially one with significant civilian casualties will very very likely cause them to pursue weapons with maximum haste. So far the evidence is they want to do power generation, and respond to bullying the way most people do, by not co-operating with the bully.

There has been no credible evidence Iran is seeking N weapons

I'm sure that, within "The Government of Iran" there are functionaries who are using their power to gain materials and knowledge for fission weapons. Like the cop who plants evidence on someone who's "a criminal" - these functionaries may believe they are doing the "right thing".

Such action might not even be known to others, and those others could say, with a straight face "we have no active program".

I'm unwilling to say 'there is no evidence' - can you trust the people showing you the evidence to know it is correct? Can you trust that no one is 'a bad apple' or 'rogue' and is busy gathering the tools and tradecraft for atomic weapons?

Either its OK to have 'em because MAD works or they are a bad idea and why should anyone have 'em.

I believe Iran wants nukes. Who could blame them?

The West is more dangerous to the Middle East than they are to us. Most of the worlds oil supply is in the Middle East.

Evidense for my position,


We invaded and now occupy an oil rich country based on lies.

Blind American support of Israel no matter what it does,
including turning the West Bank into swiss cheese and taking
most of the water under the Palestinian aquifer.

If Israel attacks Iran, they may not have to reconstitute their nuclear program to get nuclear weapons.

The attack is likely to result in the fall of the rather fragile government of Pakistan, which would be replaced by an Islamist regime. Even though Pakistan is predominantly Sunni, the new regime would be likely to share its nuclear weapons with Iran, if only to achieve strategic depth and position some weapons away from India.

There is also a reasonable probability that the fall of the Pakistani government would trigger a preemptive nuclear attack by India, in which case all bets are off. The ensuing high-altitude soot from a limited nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan should obviate immediate concerns about global warming.


I do not think either of your predictions is anywhere near a certainty.

It’s not that I don’t think comments made by Ahmadinejad aren’t insane…, I just think it’s probably political posturing. I believe their bark is worse than their bite.
And I doubt, they are suicidal.

Life is so boring, just sitting around waiting for WW3 to get started.

I don't know how WWIII will be fought,

but WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones

Crunch time starts now with the likelihood of an attack in the Spring.

I wonder if the civilian nuclear power plant being built in Iran is upwind of the nation of Israel?

It is my opinion that in the interest of MAD [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutually_assured_destruction ], then both sides should get to have their nukes.

Rhetoric on both sides is fine, as historically they have always mouthed off at each other.

Oh, and to be not off-topic to TOD, any military actions always seem to make the price of oil rise, and perhaps reduce consumption marginally....

Jeeze Louise,

Can't any of you figure out that closing the Straights to tankers is a win? You don't need nukes to do that and you can do that even if you are blasted to hell.


San Francisco proposal would limit toys in kids' meals

Good idea, they should add more fiber instead...

Hey, just give them edible toys, high in fiber.

Works for Hamsters, why not kids?

Hmm, why bother having kids in the first place? Just get a couple Hamsters...
Bit late for that in my case but maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

Turbo-charged monsoon confounds forecasters

Normally the jet stream is a giant loop of high speed winds that whip round the upper atmosphere, writes science correspondent Tom Clarke.

The jet stream isn't involved in day to day weather - it's too high up - but because it pushes the atmosphere around it's very important in steering large scale weather patterns below.

The stream has split in two. One arm has gone north, another south. The patch in the middle is Russia's drought. A circulating pattern of air has been sitting over Russia for far longer than normal, causing the extreme temperatures and wildfires they've had there.

But what's happening over Pakistan is even stranger. The southern arm of the Jet stream has looped down so far it has crossed over the Himalayas into north western Pakistan. Experts at the Met Office tell me this is very unusual.

And the result is that the fast moving jets stream winds high up has helped suck the warm, wet, monsoon air even faster and higher into the atmosphere - and that has caused rains like no-one can remember. It has turbo charged the monsoon if you like. They're not sure that's ever happened before.

I think we should immediately begin releasing massive quantities of sulfur dioxide into the Jet Stream just to see what might happen.

That would be a lot funnier if there weren't actually legitimate scientists advocating such "geoengineering" lunacy [facepalm]

Sulfur is not enough! We must nuke the Jet Stream before it nukes us!


Here's What You Need To Know About The World's Biggest Oil Producer

As I have discussed previously, without Russia the world of Non-OPEC supply would have fallen down into a hole shortly after 2003. Indeed, without Russia Non-OPEC production (Non-OPEC ex-Russia) would have fallen every year from 2004 through the present day. What’s been a surprise is that Russia has been able to sustain its current ~9.5 mbpd for over four years now. A number of analysts are reasonably confident that Russian oil production has now entered a plateau.

Well, to tell the truth, non-OPEC's three largest producers, Russia, U.S.A and China have all increased production over the last couple of years. These three largest producers are really what kept non-OPEC from crashing, though without Russia alone non-OPEC production would be down very significantly. However all three of these nations are predicted to have declining production in the second half of 2010 and this decline will continue into 2011.

Well, according to the EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook has China's production increasing slightly next year but I have read other reports out of China that contradict this.

Ron P.

For those who may have missed it, JD is back and looking for scalps.

Even the dead are not safe:


JD's new blog mostly digressed into personal attacks between greenJamie and reservegrowthdroolz. She rightfully questions his own supposed credentials, which he refuses to support. It's ironic (in this context) that I too uncovered his professional scam specifically in the context of biofuels debate over at PO.com. You shouldn't have drug reservegrowthdroolz's carcass out into the open. Perhaps it needs to be thermodepolymerized.

Regarding your off repeated contention that EROEI doesn't matter, that coal electricity used to create ethanol is of a lower "value" and so justifies the near-zero/zero energy return of the entire process: the failure of corn ethanol fuel may be attributed to a string of lousy energy-conversion efficiencies. The ultimate bad EROEI simply reflects that final accounting of those loses combined.

The conversion of CO2/light-->alcohol in field and factory depends on many energy-loosing stages: plant--photosynthesis of carbon with hydrogen--harvest--crush--hydroglize--ferment etc. CTL is more efficient and doesn't steal soil, biodiversity, and food from a hungry planet.

Interesting to see this. Same strategy that ReserveGrowthRulz uses here. It's pretty obvious that RGR doesn't reference his work because that would give away his identity. I can understand this because he probably wants to keep his job.
Yet, this makes it difficult to debate him because he couches all responses with vague statements that are untraceable to dates any more recent than 1919.

It seems that the MSM has done its about face on BP and the spill. Not only is Thad Allen hinting that BP may get off the hook for a relief well, BP is increasingly being characterized as the victim.

And there's this:

Berman and Watson are contributors to The Oil Drum, a group blog written by and for people in the energy business. The website has been debunking many of the extreme scenarios surrounding the spill. Most of its contributors are proponents of “peak oil” theories, and thus are skeptical of oil’s future and eager to explore alternatives. The oil industry has come to a sorry pass when its skeptics are its most credible defenders.


I feel my headache coming back.

FOR ALL: And on behalf of the oil patch I would like to express thanks for TOD's unquestionable support for all our activities and methods. I knew when I joined TOD it would take no time to turn you into my minions with tales of the Blue Bell afterlife which would be your reward for fanatical loyalty to us.

(don't forget our deal, free fuel for life)

Ghung - I hope you got the memo that we would have to separate the O from the H2 to get the free fuel. H2 is more stable that way.

It's rather depressing to see the propaganda machine whirring back up to speed so quickly... Rather than blaming one of the world's most severe oil spills for severely damaging property values in the already damaged are of the Gulf, they are blaming "misinformation". I wonder if this "misinformation" includes the pictures from Gulf Shores of oil laden waves coming up on the beach?

I like how they blame academics first, claiming that NOAA was "gold digging" and "there’s probably more federal research money floating around the Gulf than there is oil" - this implies that science and academia somehow are making more than oil companies, and are untrustworthy as well. Ironically, the article uses NOAA data and quotes from scientists quite liberally after just libeling them.

I suppose it's to be expected. BP is going to be "the victim", environmentalists and scientists will be the villains, and we'll go back to BAU until the next spill. Rinse, repeat.

This is how everything in the Gulf region is played. I work in real estate in Florida, so I see it all the time. Developers want to tear down mangroves and build right up next to beaches that often shift in size and shape, and it's the environmentalists that are the problem, never mind that if you wreck the environment here there is no point in living down here at all. Lawncare companies and golf courses scream bloody murder whenever restrictions on water or fertilizer are brought up, despite clean water being essential to Florida tourism. Humanity really loves to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It should be said that Chuck Watson was misquoted here:

Watson claims flat-out that NOAA was "gold digging" for grants; there’s probably more federal research money floating around the Gulf than there is oil.

Chuck told us he said "NCAR" instead of "NOAA", which makes more sense when you read the previous paragraph.

I think that the blowout will come to be viewed as overall positive. Whoa!

That is my fear, that instead of being a brake, a moderator on reckless development, it will spur further the attitude of no worry, we can solve it. It'll be juxtaposed as the opposite of Valdez. Rationales to shape the attitude will include:

*oil and oil eating bacteria go together, just add warm water.
*CEOs will have a new emphasis on safety, and advertising it-ol Tony fell too far too fast.
*It's all offshore oil now for us,and the world. Brazilian sub salt here we come, no worry even if the salt layer at that depth is almost fluid.
*we learned all about stopping the big one
*all the new BOPS and equipment won't fail
*it created a whole new industry in cleanup technology

add your own.

Postcards from the Plateau.

My neighbor (aka my mortgagee) told me this morning over coffee, while sitting in their outdoor screened gazebo that they bought at Home Depot - marked down, mind you, from $299 to $99 - that Verizon cut off the land-line phone over a $120 bill. They've had V for 12 years.

And, he's lining up work in NY and ME for Sept., which he will drive there. That's right, he's driving 1200 miles (and back) for work! He paints interior/exterior. His current job is building a deck 80'x 16' for a person who has become short on cash and partially paid him with new appliances she charged on her... drumroll... Home Depot card.

He hasn't missed a payment in over two years, though he's been late a time or three. Oh, and did I mention they are also behind on property taxes? But that's okay, they have 5 cats to feed.

Just a snapshot of life in America during the great unwind.

Sorry, gotta go. My alarm just went off, reminding me to check on the water well. It slowed to a trickle so I shut it off for an hour. Don't want to burn out that submerged pump on that $9000 well I had dug last year. You know, the one that replaced the previous one that collasped during the height of our drought. Yeah, that one, the one that pumps up clay so it must first fill a 1000 gal. tank and settle before I can use it to water the garden. Which, at this time of the year is every 48 hours.

Just another day.


Thanks for the Postcard from the Plateau Edgy.

"that Verizon cut off the land-line phone over a $120 bill"

I've noticed several cellular companies are now competing for the lowest of fruits - offering "text only" service at greatly reduced rates. Teenagers everywhere are rejoicing.

Your mortgagee/neighbor sounds very familiar. Good people on the edge of falling into the debt vortex.

Collapsing One Family At A Time... (at least for now).

yeah, and another neighbor, come to find out, is on a - hold your breath - party line! Most of the youngins don't know what that is. I had one in college, up in Minneapolis.

More Postcards...

I'm on an automated email list from a local r/e agent for anything in our subdivision of the county. Lately only "price reduced" are showing up. And most of them are vacant. People keep sleep walkin'-n-talkin' 'bout the recovery. Sheesh. One property listed for $245K, sold for $189K - 3 acres, undeveloped on the Blanco River. Across the road a 2.5 acre lot with a true fixer-upper, listed originally for 139K, off the market, back on at 129K and sold for cash for 110K.

Another just came on, 2 acre undeveloped with 134' of Blanco River (which is unaccessible from the property because of a 30-40' cliff) is listed at $140K. And the land is rocky with shallow soil.

Keep in mind we are on the edge of a desert and water IS an issue. More on that later...


Teenagers everywhere are rejoicing.

Not just teenagers. I prefer texting to using the phone for voice talking, especially when I am in loud locations (like my daily public transit commutes).

Also it is my opinion that it is more efficient on bandwidth to squirt packets of text messages, than the longer streaming of voice traffic.

Always like to hear real stories... Sometimes this media fluff just isn't believable :)

I hear that a lot lately, where people will do work for others and instead of cash, they'll do work for the other person or give them something (not money)...the barter system is alive and well it would seem.

Sometimes women want to pay me to dance for them, but i have to decline.

Oil Shale as New Fuel Industry - The Southeast Missourian - Nov 2, 1946

Sweden also had a unique oil shale project. Experts of the Bureau of Mines say Swedish engineers drilled holes into the near-the-surface shale beds. They introduced heat into these holes by means of electricity. The temperature of the ground was raised until the oil vaporized and escaped through the holes. The vapor then was condensed and refined, producing oil.

Tropic Plants Grown.

A queer by-product of this project was reported. The intense heat was said to make it possible to grow sub-tropical vegetation in a climate distinctly northern. Swedish experts reportedly estimated the soil warmth might last for years, permitting the growing of exotic plants.

Such a method is not expected in American shale areas. For one thing vast quantities of electricity are not available, and in addition much of the shale soil isn't sufficiently rich for crops.

Sweden mined 50 million tons of alum oil shale for shale oil during WW2.
They have a 1 billion tons of reserve which could translate into 300 million barrels of oil, which really minor. It's actually a fairly good source of uranium,
1.7 million tons, so heating it in the ground makes no sense IMO.

Makes no sense from what standpoint? U was useful pre Fat Man for glassware and not much else. Note that this article is from 1946. I forgot to include the "From the Archives" headline, too.

In situ retorting will separate the oil from the shale leaving the uranium in the ground. 1.7 million tons of uranium containing ore, .4 quads of electricity or 1.2 quads of heat. Surface retorting would give recovery of the uranium a chance.

300 mboe of shale oil is worth 2 quads. Shell's electric heating method has an EROI of 3.5 so it would take 2/3.5 quad of electricity to get that 2 quads of shale oil.

Wiki oil shale page ref #6 is USGS:

During the 1980s, production of uranium from high-grade deposits elsewhere in the world caused a drop in the world price of uranium to levels too low to profitably operate the Ranstad plant, and it closed in 1989 (Bergh, 1994).

Economics of extracting byproducts would be an obvious part of any assessment, but, from what I've read anyway, it all seems to be treated as very ancillary to extracting the oil itself. Would depend on their relative values, plus your usual issues of energy independence etc.

Re. "Oil to Hold Above $75 as Rising Pattern Stays Unbroken: Technical Analysis" above.

The 'rising pattern' on the weekly is Broken. It broke down in the spring and since has made Lower Lows and appears to putting in a lower High.

Oil is also now below the 50 DMA and the 200 DMA.

Not good, especially in the light of "OPEC sees continued supply overhang on slow demand " above.

The stock markets are relatively complacent - see VIX weekly for the decline in fear since ~ May.

And it looks like a double top in the NYSE Advance/Decline.

But since the markets are mostly under the control of The Machines, who knows what any of the typical Tech Analysis tools mean anymore.

Seventeen countries have recorded their all time highest temperatures this summer. Pakistan is experiencing a worse disaster than Indian Ocean tsunami, and the Kashmir and Haitian earthquakes combined. It also experienced the highest temperature ever recorded in Asia.

The superheated and acidified oceans have lost nearly half of the base of its food chain and major oxygen generator for the earth (phytoplankton).

Yet, even with the slight reduction last year, we are still burning ffs at a rate that injects more than 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

The Gulf spill was a disaster, but burning the stuff is an even greater disaster, but mostly for the poorest who had the least to do with destabilizing the climate system.

America sunk the (always remote) promise of Copenhagen, and the senate will not even take up a very watered down climate bill.

Does anyone see any glimmer of hope in any of this? Please?

Does anyone see any glimmer of hope in any of this? Please?

Umm, die off sooner rather that later? Could be exactly the negative feedback needed to control global population. Which in turn would mitigate all kinds of problems. Oh, maybe that's not what meant by glimmer of hope...oh, well.

A glimmer of hope... for who/what?

"A glimmer of hope... for who/what?"

Nicely put. I think hope that GW won't destroy much of the life on earth is essentially now gone.

There is little hope of any kind of effective national or international action to reduce ghg output for years, at least.

There may be hope that some individuals and localities may provide models of low impact/high quality lifestyles. But unless these are widely--or really nearly universally--adopted, there is no hope that these will play any significant role besides lowering cost of ff for everyone else (Jevons and all that).

What actions (or non-actions) will future generations, should any exist, judge to have been of any value?

China's Coming Property Bust

So everyone recognizes that a correction must come soon, right? Not exactly. “I don’t see any bubbles,” 44-year-old Zhang Xin told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. “The next few months will be a fantastic time to buy.”

Really? There were, a few months ago, 64.5 million urban flats that showed no electricity usage for six consecutive months. That’s one in four city apartments, enough housing for some 200 million people. The value of vacant apartments held by speculators is about 15% of gross domestic product. Beijing’s bank stress tests assume a 60% fall in property prices. In fact, official statistics show that property price increases slowed in July.

Quickest way to "fix" that problem: eliminate one child policy.

I'll see your overshoot and raise you tens of millions of additional Chinese babies a year.

Flashback to about 4-1/2 years ago...

Amazing how we were still arguing over the same things. Deflation vs. inflation, renting vs. owning, etc.

But I was amused by this comment, by LevinK. We were talking about what would happen if entire neighborhoods were foreclosed on. He said:

The bank usually sells the mortgage to the two final carriers of the risk in this country - Fanny Mae & Freddy Mac.

I don't expect them to go bancrupt, because this would mean the death of the US financial system & economy for that matter. The government will keep pouring liquidity in them, there could be a virtual war between the millions of defaulted debtors and these agencies but they must hold on because the alternatives are harsh.

Sharon Astyk is right. Things have happened in the past few years that we never imagined could possibly happen.

In fact, entire neighborhoods have been foreclosed on. Fanny and Freddy didn't step in, but they did go bankrupt anyway. It caused an economic crisis...but BAU keeps on, more or less.

Very true - the changes are amazing (while my guitar gently weeps).

Imagine what LevinK would have said if someone suggested changes in corporate accounting allowing mark-to-fantasy.

But I'm not so sure that "BAU keeps on, more or less." BAU is dying a slow death.

The QE measures by the Fedtreasury, the FASB 157 BS, the Market's Mechanized Trading Regime, the financial gymnastics done by bankrupt cities and states ...

BAU is changing slowly, for the worse, for now.

Collapse is happening mostly one family, one small business, at a time for now.

Any plans to do an Oil Drum Five Year retrospective? (Prof. Goose is Five Years + One week.) I just noticed that next week will be my five year anniversary on The Oil Drum. I think your five year anniversary is in two weeks. As they say, time flies.

Happy Anniversary

--another 5 year member (next week)

--- 2005 seems so long ago, much has passed over the dam

Five years ago, (inspired by their closing comments on the End of Suburbia DVD) I helped organize the joint Simmons/JHK presentation in Dallas, and the MSM response to said event probably told me everything I needed to know about how the MSM would generally respond to Peak Oil warnings. Every single print and broadcast member of the MSM in the Dallas/Fort Worth area was mysteriously unavailable on the evening of November 1, 2005 (it was only covered by the SMU student newspaper in the DFW area, although there was a Simmons/JHK interview on the local NPR station prior to the event). Yet Dallas residents like Boone Pickens and Herbert Hunt somehow found time to attend.

Congrats to both of you, step back and westexas!

Well done good sirs.

Three cheers from a relative newbie.
Hip hip hurray!
Hip hip hurray!!
Hip hip hurray!!!


I'd love to see a list of members that have been here five years.

If I recall, TOD operated for some time pre-registration, so I guess there is a huge cluster of people hitting five about now.

Some were around before that. I remember Stepback from pre-reg days.

There are a lot of people who lurk for a long time before registering.

Are We Headed for a Lost Economic Decade? by Michael T. Darda

Despite record doses of monetary and fiscal support, the U.S. recovery appears to be stumbling. First-time claims for jobless benefits are on the rise and economic growth estimates for the April-June quarter have fallen to just over 1%. Many are now asking if we are on our way to a double dip recession or even a Japanese-style "lost decade."

Reminded me of this comment from yesterday's DB. Perhaps Michael Darda should have a chat with one Richard Heinberg but, he's an economist and a "chief" one at that so, his brain is likely to explode before he can come to grips with all this "limits to growth" stuff.

Alan from the islands

"Lost decade." Looks like someone has entered the negotiation phase.

More like "lost century" or "lost millenium" or "lost civilization."


On the other hand, David Stockman former director of OMB under Reagan has just written a piece for the NYT: Four Deformations of the Apocalypse which doesn't leave much room for negotiation.

If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.

The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing — as suggested by last week’s news that the national economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter. Under these circumstances, it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.

Stages of Technic Societies

It is widely recognized that essentially every gram of fissionable material produced or stored in Iran is under the supervision of The International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation (sp?) Treaty. Questions regarding Iran's fulfillment of the treaty and the additional protocols have all been resolved. The assumption that Iran is working on nuclear weapon all can be traced to a laptop containing documents of very doubtful provenance. Japan has more outstanding questions with the IAEA than does Iran. But everybody knows that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Its sort of like "everybody knows" that Joe Kennedy was a bootlegger, but was able to go through 3 Senate approvals before WW II with nobody ever bringing up the question even though he had lots of enemies including the Chicago Tribune.

The thing that gets me is that starting a *power* reactor has very little to do with nuclear bombs. An enrichment plant, yes, but a civilian power reactor NO. My understanding is that there are very strict constraints on the isotopic composition of plutonium and reactor-grade plutonium is NFG for weapons use. In all the history of nuclear weapons, no state has ever used a civilian reactor program for a Pu production program. If weapons-grade Pu is the objective, there are far better ways to do it than with a power reactor. Maybe, JUST maybe, they want the electricity supply to free up more hydrocarbons to earn export cash???

Conflating the start-up of this reactor with a growing EVIL menace that is Iran carries the stench of war-mongering BS. I think the Neocons have incredible influence within the US corporate media complex, and this is more "catapulting" of propaganda, IMHO through the same channels they used on the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. I'm A LOT more cynical and skeptical this time around...

Maybe, JUST maybe, they want the electricity supply to free up more hydrocarbons to earn export cash???

"we" can't have that conversation. "They" are "bad" for "x" reasons.

No further questions, no self examination to see if "we" have similar "x" reasons to be dubbed "bad" and therefore unworthy of the gift of the peaceful atom or even the non-peaceful atom.

From Stoneleigh/TAE:

August 13 2010: Bubble Psychology and Lessons from History

Especially entertaining are the comparisons of prognastications by Leaders from the 1930's Great Depression and the Current Great Depression:

#15: "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover.

There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us."

• Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930

#6: The worst is likely to be behind us . . . . "
• Hank Paulson, May 7, 2008

"These institutions [Fannie and Freddie] are fundamentally sound and strong. There is no reason for the kind of [stock market] reaction we’re getting."

• Christopher Dodd, July 12, 2008, Chair, Senate Banking Committee, Financial Post

Quebec scolded for meddling in Atlantic Canada power plans
Newfoundland and Nova Scotia angered by Charest’s objection to financing bid

Two governments in Atlantic Canada scolded Premier Jean Charest on Thursday for interfering in their energy plans, with Premier Danny Williams accusing Quebec of showing “unmitigated gall” by objecting to its financing application for a subsea transmission line for power from Labrador.

Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia are trying to get funding for a subsea cable to ship surplus power from Labrador across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Cape Breton.


Mr. Williams has long accused Quebec of trying to block development of the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador by denying access to its transmission lines because it wants to protect Hydro-Québec's interests.

Two months ago, Mr. Williams said he was tired of Quebec's “patronizingly colonial attitude” when it comes to the development of the Lower Churchill, a megaproject that Newfoundland says would generate three million megawatts of electricity, enough power to light up to 1.5 million homes.

Mr. Williams and a number of his predecessors have long complained about the financing agreement in the 1960s that made development of the Upper Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador possible. Newfoundland says the deal has led to the transfer of billions of dollars of wealth from the province to Quebec.

A subsea route through the Maritimes, possibly landing in Nova Scotia, has been touted as one alternative to using Quebec's transmission system.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/quebec-scolded-for-meddling...


Paul, what is it about Newfoundlanders and rants? Premier Williams, like Rick Mercer, is quite adept at this kind of showmanship.

I don't think Premier Danny Williams is helping the cause by being so shrill against the Quebec government. That only serves to remind Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the many reasons he doesn't like the bellicose premier of Newfoundland.

Ironically, the Canadian government is more likely today than ever to side with voices coming from the east coast. A few more Tory seats in Atlantic Canada (from the present standing of 10 Conservatives, 17 Liberals, & 4 New Democrats) will be very helpful if Mr. Harper wants his majority. While the Conservatives have 10 of the 75 seats in Quebec, the near stranglehold by the Bloc Québécois on 45 - 50 seats discourages what little hope there is for major gains by the Conservatives. It's a far cry from the Trudeau or Mulroney years when Canadian governments were decided by the tribal voting habits of the Québécois.

Quebec is no longer kingmaker in Ottawa.

As you, me, Paul Nash, and others have talked about before on this blog, a serious case can be made for a submarine HVDC line between Newfoundland and the Maritimes. With that in mind, I wish Mr. Williams would stay quiet in the corner, keep busy, and fire off a business plan to the Prime Minster's Office. Mr. Harper is a well-known policy wonk - a straightforward policy submission would be a surefooted way to fire the synapses in his technocratic brain.

Here's to calmer voices and fewer fireworks in Canadian politics. I, for one, am very pleased and excited at the prospect of Nova Scotia tapping into Labrador hydro and I would hate to see it blown by needless inflammatory rhetoric and bombast.



Hi Tom,

I suppose it plays well to the hometown crowd. Unfortunately, Mr. Williams hasn't won any fans in Ottawa for similar reasons. In any event, a little less political buffoonery would be welcome. I just hope the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are sincere and that the HVDC option isn't a negotiating prop to leverage a better deal with Hydro-Québec. If H-Q is willing to renegotiate the existing Churchill Falls agreement in an effort to secure this second deal, then all bets are off.


I just hope the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are sincere and that the HVDC option isn't a negotiating prop to leverage a better deal with Hydro-Québec.

In Williams' mind, Nova Scotia already stabbed Newfoundland in the back once. Heavens knows if he's still miffed over former NS Premier MacDonald's renegotiation of the Atlantic Accord in 2007.


I have to say I was relieved, at the time, to have a premier renegotiate quietly rather than listen to the stream of diatribes that Williams was spouting.

I guess he can justify his combative style by the end results. At least for so long as the Newfoundland economy continues to do well.

I would hope that he is not so spiteful that he would justify a side arrangement with Quebec as pay back.



Sometimes the most important news is what is not happening.

This summer has given us one such example: the climate change bill, for which the US President Barack Obama had pushed so hard, will not even be presented to the US Senate because it stands no chance of passage.

In what universe was that?