Drumbeat: August 14, 2010

BP spill may cause sea change for energy industry

Not long ago, federal officials were hailing the Gulf of Mexico as America's best source of future crude oil and natural gas.

But the disastrous BP oil leak has complicated that view and may have a greater effect on the energy industry than any incident since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which led to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 27-year moratorium on most offshore drilling.

Experts predict that energy production will slow and regulation will increase along with the cost of drilling in deep water. Better technology will have to be developed. New projects may require rigorously tested emergency plans. Government oversight will be overhauled.

"The days of easy oil are over," said Michael Klare, program director at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "Only the tough crude remains, in unfriendly parts of the world or in difficult places where the technology and the regulations have not caught up. There are bound to be greater risks."

Analysis: In choppy U.S. offshore, small fry may need big fish

BANGALORE - Caught in the ripples from the BP spill, small, pure play offshore oil and gas producers may need joint ventures for support, throwing up some bargain assets for majors like Petrobras, Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp.

While companies such as Anadarko and Plains Exploration have been able to move onshore, others like McMoRan and ATP Oil and Gas lack the scale to make such a sudden strategy shift.

They have little option but to stay put in the Gulf of Mexico, sit out the regulatory backlash against offshore deepwater drilling, and maybe seek venture partners to help bear rising costs and to hedge risk.

Eq. Guinea sees big boost in oil output by 2012

(Reuters) - Equatorial Guinea expects oil production to jump by more than 100,000 barrels per day within two years as new offshore developments operated by Noble Energy come online, the West Africa nation's top energy official said late on Friday.

BP pays for show touting Miss. coast 'resilience'

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's office said Friday that former "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff will host a one-hour television special later this month to promote the state and oil company BP is footing the bill.

We need good alternatives to natural gas

The era of cheap and plentiful gas in Southcentral Alaska is over. There is more gas in Cook Inlet, as Petrochemical Resources of Alaska noted in their March 2010 report, but it will cost an estimated $1.9 billion to $2.8 billion to recover it. The report also states what should be obvious to us consumers in the region: "In the future, Cook Inlet utility customers should expect to pay more for the gas used by Cook Inlet Utilities to generate heat and electricity."

Oilsands to catapult jobs recovery

In Alberta, a resurgence of activity in the oilpatch is expected to fuel growth of many jobs, says Chris Massie, of About Staffing Ltd.

"The oilsands will catapult Alberta out of the recession, which leads to trickle-down in all areas, hence sales in all industries being a driving employment area in the fall," says Massie.

Food crops rise as crude drops

Grain prices returned to their upward track this week, with corn prices leading the way higher.

Despite a record-breaking yield for U.S. corn this year (165 bushels an acre), the amount of corn in storage represents only 9.7 percent of one-year's use.

This figure, known as "stocks to usage" has been under 10 percent only two other times in the last 40 years and has many traders eager to buy corn. In the last three days, corn prices have risen 20 cents per bushel, a 5 percent rise.

Eat an Apple (Doctor’s Orders)

The farm stand is becoming the new apothecary, dispensing apples — not to mention artichokes, asparagus and arugula — to fill a novel kind of prescription.

Doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts have begun advising patients to eat “prescription produce” from local farmers’ markets, in an effort to fight obesity in children of low-income families. Now they will give coupons amounting to $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to promote healthy meals.

A sweet swap for homeowners

On a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon, nine aspiring gardeners gathered around a raised bed of dirt in a Glassell Park backyard as instructor Deborah Eden Tull demonstrated how to add compost and loosen the soil with a spading fork before planting rows of lettuce and beets.

"This was just a mound of hard dirt in the beginning," Tull said, "and now it's getting really beautiful."

As she worked, a friendly yellow Lab romped around the grass, and students helped themselves to pitchers of water and bowls of organic oranges.

The only thing missing from the home setting was the homeowner, Mary Lu Coughlin. She had worked out an agreement to let Tull, owner of Creative Green Sustainability Coaching, hold three-hour organic gardening workshops in Coughlin's large fenced yard once a month. In exchange, Coughlin watched her yard "go from zero to edible soil." She also gets to reap the bounty of vegetables that have followed.

Oil industry's deep well of fear

There is an open secret in the oil industry that dare not speak its name: peak oil.

Well, two did speak its name and gained no acclaim for it. One, M. King Hubbert, died years ago. The other and the more controversial, Matthew Simmons, died Aug. 8 at his Maine summer home.

China's Power Consumption Rises 14% in July as Targets for Reductions Loom

China’s power consumption rose 14 percent in July from a year earlier, adding to evidence the government may take more steps to meet conservation goals for the country, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

To Cut Demand for Electricity, Some Customers Agree to Unplug

Electricity use is up sharply this summer, but in a windowless room near Albany that is the nerve center of New York State’s grid, controllers have noticed that something else is not rising: peak load.

Is the Gulf Oil Gone? It Depends on How You Define 'Oil'

Revenaugh told FoxNews.com that the residual oil is still a massive spill, five times that of the Exxon Valdez and the 11th largest in history. It’s also still extremely harmful to the environment, he said.

Several other scientist and oceanographers have criticized the NOAA report more directly. At issue is how the report describes oil -- vastly gone, and not a lingering deposit that will affect the environment.

Obama Family Visits Gulf Coast to Try to Boost Area's Oil-Damaged Economy

President Barack Obama and his family arrive on Florida’s Gulf coast today for a trip that’s part business and part pleasure, as his administration hopes to provide the region with an economic boost in the aftermath of the BP Plc oil spill.

Detroit Goes From Gloom to Economic Bright Spot

DETROIT — After a dismal period of huge losses and deep cuts that culminated in the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, the gloom over the American auto industry is starting to lift.

Jobs are growing. Factory workers are anticipating their first healthy profit-sharing checks in years. Sales are rebounding, with the Commerce Department reporting Friday that automobiles were a bright spot in July’s mostly disappointing retail sales.

Xcel Energy unveils plan to cut plant emissions

DENVER -- Xcel Energy is proposing to spend $1.3 billion to convert coal-fired power plants to natural gas and close a plant to comply with a new Colorado law aimed at cutting pollution from power plants.

Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest electric utility, said the plan released Friday will help meet statewide goals of reducing emissions of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury. The company said it will also save $225 million compared to installing pollution-control equipment.

Progress is progress, no matter how fast it moves and innovates

Matt Ridley's new book The Rational Optimist looks at the world's potential future through spectacles that some might say are rose-tinted. I thought it might be fun to ask the same question of the economy: is there reason to be optimistic? All but the recently estranged from Mars will know the world has problems.

There are global imbalances, sovereign and household debt, peak oil, food shortages, the twin demographic timebomb in which the world ages and expands simultaneously and, to top it all, climate change.

But squint a little, view the world from a different angle and things look a lot more promising. The missing ingredient the cynics overlook (and by the way, the most negative of the lot; the ones who practice what has become known as the "miserable science", namely economists, also miss this ingredient) can be summed up by two words – Moore's law.

Farm-to-school: Brookside crops ripening

Just as students are enjoying the waning weeks of summer soaking in the Willits sun, the crops of Brookside School Farm are relishing the rays and showing their first signs of ripening. Bursts of red tomatoes poke through thick green rows at the one-acre farm, tucked behind Brookside Elementary School, awaiting the arrival of the new school year because this year Brookside Farm's produce has a special destination: the school cafeteria.

The Willits School District, in partnership with The Gardens Project of North Coast Opportunities, and Little Lake Grange are committed to getting healthier food into schools through a farm to school program.

When energy efficiency can be bad for your health

Sustainable building biology that doesn’t factor in humans’ health results in hazards in homes.

Prince of Tides: A Mammoth Turbine

The allure of producing clean, reliable power from the daily flux of tides continues to attract significant investment.

Cardinals go green for season with help from SRP

The Arizona Cardinals will have a green season as the University of Phoenix and Salt River Project will be using renewable power for the team’s home games.

SRP will provide the energy — roughly 1.14 million kilowatt-hours of power — for eight regular-season and two preseason games. It’s the amount of power equal to about what 60 homes in the Valley will use annually.

For the Everglades, a Dream Loses Much of Its Grandeur

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the end, Gov. Charlie Crist’s effort to buy huge swaths of sugar company land for the Everglades restoration was just too much: too much money, too much land to handle, and too much of a fight with critics and the courts.

A vote on Thursday by the South Florida Water Management District — to scale back the deal for a third time — is expected to finally end negotiations, but it also amounted to an admission of overreaching. What began two years ago as a stunning $1.75 billion purchase of the United States Sugar Corporation and all its assets, including 187,000 acres of land, is now set to close in October at a fraction of its original size, with 26,790 acres being sold for $197 million.

Feds likely to lift suspension on oil leases

BILLINGS, Mont. – Federal officials want to move forward with oil and gas leases on about 260 square miles in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have been held up over climate change concerns.

Giant Greenland iceberg a climate 'warning sign'

PARIS (AFP) - A giant iceberg that snapped away from Greenland last week is a signal that global warming is causing the island's continent-sized ice cap to melt faster than expected, scientists say.

Rush to record Inuit tongue doomed by global warming

LONDON: A group of Inuits in Greenland who thought they were the only people on the planet until 1818 face the loss of their oral language traditions because of climate change, a British linguist says.

Climate change will cost us all

You don't have to be Lord Stern to see how the costs of climate change are already compounding and spiralling, out of control.

Some costs are relatively benign - such as the devaluation of waterfront properties in Byron Bay as sea levels rise - a process starting in earnest whether estate agents like it or not.

Other costs are terrible, such as the conservative $4.4 billion figure put on last year's Black Saturday fires by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, including insurance claims of $1.2 billion (property and vehicles), $1.1 billion spent by the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, $658 million in destroyed timber, 173 lives lost worth $645 million according to established formulae (not counting injuries) and about $593 million spent on firefighting (not counting volunteers).

When the Smoke Clears in Russia, Will Climate Policy Change?

As temperatures in Russia climb to historic highs, parching crops and igniting large tracts of forest and peatland, analysts are watching to see if these conditions heat up the country's climate change policies.

"I don't know what it would take to produce an active stance on climate change in Russia, but I hope this is enough," said Samuel Charap, a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress who studies Russian climate and energy policy.

Recent comments made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev link climate change and the wildfires, stoking speculation about what Russia may bring to the table in the next round of international climate talks. But once the wildfires' smoke clears, they may not amount to much, according to Alexey Kokorin, the Moscow-based climate negotiator for the World Wildlife Fund.

So far, 2010 is the world's hottest year on record, NOAA data show

So far, this has been the hottest year in recorded history.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that, from January to July, the average global temperature was 58.1 degrees. That was 1.22 degrees over the average from the 20th century, and the highest since 1880, when reliable records begin.

Although NOAA experts say global climate change isn't the only reason 2010 has been so hot -- an El Nino event earlier in the year pushed temperatures up -- they said it's still the most important reason.

Venezuelan Oil Production Declines as Reserves Grow

To make matter worse, according to Sosa, the government has fired thousands of technicians from the state-owned oil company, PDVSA and replaced them with workers whose primary qualification is their loyalty to President Chavez. And, he notes, a significant portion of Venezuela's dwindling oil production is donated to Cuba and other leftist-led countries.

The text on this page is just a transcript of the video embedded on the page. But it is a really great video. It tells you a lot about Chavez and present day Venezuela.

Ron P.

This week's edition of SCIENCE magazine features a special section on energy. Entitled Scaling Up Alternative Energy, the articles are available for free until 27 August. Registration is required, however...

E. Swanson

"When the Smoke Clears in Russia, Will Climate Policy Change?"
"So far, 2010 is the world's hottest year on record, NOAA data show"

Climate changes - average temperatures - are almost like stock market changes, when viewed on a graph over time. There could be peaks and troughs, although one can establish a general trend. In general, what we see is a trend towards higher average temperatures, worldwide.

With reference to both the above articles, the thing I most fear is a return to "normal" climate patterns year, next year. Or, possibly, cooler than average.

People will sit back and say this year was just an anomaly, nothing has really changed, everything's back to "normal", and efforts, such as they are, will slow again.

It's no different a response than folks returning to buying gas guzzlers when the price of gasoline drops.

Short-term thinking.

Climate policy will not change regardless of what happens. Besides, CC is already baked, so to speak, into the cake. The current trend is a return to gas guzzlers, which pretty much tells you how concerned people are about CC.

The deniers will continue to be in denial and the facts on the ground or in the air will have no impact upon their view of the world. If their view is ever changed, it will be too late.

Cooler than normal? When is the last time we had even one month that was cooler than "normal". I guess it depends on the meaning of "normal".

On a probably related note, one quarter of Pakistan is under water. It has been on the TV news, but can anyone possibly comprehend what that means? Can anyone here possibly comprehend the devastation, the suffering?

We just had a hotter-than-average May, followed by a cooler-than-average June, followed by hotter again. Add to that more-than-average or less-than-average rainfall.

The trouble is, trends just aren't linearly up or down. Things are starting to swing up and down rather wildly, for a climate system. It's the variability that I'm concerned about. The stock market term would be "volatility".

I'm sure the majority of people, except, possibly, for Katrina victims, have no idea what Pakistan is going through.

Edit : at some point in time, the climate system will probably settle into a new "normal" - I'm not sure how hospitable we'll find it to be.

June was not cooler than average. From the NOAA State of the Climate Global Analysis June 2010 summary:

"The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record"

"June 2010 was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record (March, April, and May 2010 were also the warmest on record). This was the 304th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985."

Sorry - quite right - I was referring to local conditions. I shouldn't have confused the issue of global averages with local averages.

These graphs show an annual mean which is sometimes above, sometimes below, the 5-year mean, and relates just to surface temperature.


To clarify my thinking, these are three of the warmest years out of the last 131 years :-

2010 - warmest
1998 - second warmest
2005 - fifth warmest

In other words, year over year, each year isn't necessarily warmer then the previous year.

The stock market term would be "volatility".

Interesting analogy. The stock market has two aspects: volatility and dispersivity. Volatility can happen to individual stocks or to the the stock market as a whole as it goes through these huge day-to-day variations. But dispersivity only happens in the variability when comparing individual stocks. It used to be a much larger effect than it is now, as dispersion in stock pricess is at an all-time low.

By contrast, global temperatures show no real volatility, just a steady creep with noise thrown in. Everything we observe locally and day-day is volatility and dispersion in effects caused by the dynamic nature of weather.

So I would not say that we will see more volatility on a global scale but could see it locally, and the effects of dispersion act to keep the global average constant.

As long as mankind continues to burn fossil fuels in large quantities and dumping the CO2 into the air, the expected result is increasing warming. Even after almost all the burning has stopped, the time delay due to the thermal capacity of the oceans means that there will be further warming. Thus, things won't "settle into a new normal" until the oceans catch up with the changes to the atmosphere. By that time, it will be too late, as the "new normal" may not include many of the species now living on Earth, including mankind...

E. Swanson

Even after almost all the burning has stopped, the time delay due to the thermal capacity of the oceans means that there will be further warming.

Yes, 'Thermal Inertia'. The oceans hold a thousand times as much thermal energy as the atmosphere, and are thus the drivers of worldwide weather. As the atmosphere warms due to human emitted CO2, there is a delay of 30-40 years from warming the atmosphere to that energy penetrating the oceans. We won't know how much we've influenced the weather just by what's already been spewed into the atmosphere for 30-40 years, i.e. thermal inertia.

To my way of thinking this is the biggest disconnect people have when discussing manmade emissions. Most individuals discussing AGW/climate change do not understand that we have baked in a whole lot more that we are currently experiencing.

It seems like people have some things their good at and some things are blind spots. Understanding 'right now' most people get, but understanding longer term implications is a huge blind spot. If it was explained on TV, and people were asked later what it meant, most would have no way of articulating the information.

So, yes, AGW/climate change is baked in for at least another 30-40 years of increases just based on what's been spewed so far, but the ability to even slow CO2 emissions is in question.

Yes, 'Thermal Inertia'. The oceans hold a thousand times as much thermal energy as the atmosphere, and are thus the drivers of worldwide weather.

Yes. But the CO2 reservoirs the atmosphere is trying to equilibrate to are not all of long time scales. There is a significant component (I lost the formula I had, I couldn't find it again), but the shortscale term was not small. So CO2 concentration would drop sharply for the first few years (assuming we actually went to zero emissions), so that would counteract the additional warming due to thermal delay. The difference between the climate response from holding concentration fixed, versus stoping emissions totally are quite significant. Of course neither of these are likely to happen soon.

Do you have any idea what it would take to go to zero emissions overnight? Hell, we can't even go to 5% reduction!

What it would take would be stopping all economic activities, and killing all methane emitting animals (which, btw, includes homo sapiens, as well as of course cows, bison, monkeys, virtually any animal that eats vegetation at any time, and... well, you get the picture). Plus, we'd have to plug any active volcanoes. Good luck with that.

Bottom line... we have already missed to boat as to extreme AGW. Now we have to try to put a lid on it soon enough to survive. If projections are anywhere near correct (and to date they have all been on the low side), there will be many places that humans cannot survive due to excessive heat. As for the rest of the planet, from place to place it is a crap shoot. The data is insufficient for projections of even slight probability, though the overall is somewhat certain. There will be places where the is way too much rain... others where there is not enough. Some warm placed become hot... how hot? Varies from place to place... your guess is as good as mine. Some cold places could even become colder due to shifts in wind and weather patterns. Won't that be ironic for those who live there? Where? Varies from place to place, and your guess...

I suppose you mean, from your last statement, that it is not likely that we will even hold emission concentraions fixed soon? I would agree with that, which is even worse. As for stopping emissions, well... when the last free market, Chicago School, Reaganist capitalist dies holding the last dollar, emissions will finally stop. And maybe, just maybe, he might acknowledge at last that, "No greed is not good."




No, we don't need to kill off all humans and livestock. We can't achieve even 5% reduction because humans are greedy pigs. But, if we had a change of heart, we could make it to zero net emissions. Some remaining emissions would have to be offset by net sequestration. A paper currently making the rounds estimates agressive use of charcoal as a soil amendment could sequester 1.8 billion tons of Carbon per year. That is 12% of estimated global emissions. So if we had the will we could do it. We could probably find a similar amount of sequestrable carbon by various other means. Zero NET emissions and zero emissions are quite different things. The later is probably impossible.

If we did (hypothetically speaking) cut net emissions instantaneously to zero, we would see a temperature spike. But, mostly not because of the thermal lag, but rather because the aerosol forcing which cancels roughly half of the current GHG forcing would be suddenly removed.

The formula is a fat-tail time dependence. The CO2 concentration drops like 1/sqrt(Time), so it falls rapidly at first but then only slowly equilibriates. I think its most effectively described as a dispersion in rates as CO2 drifts and diffuses around the atmosphere trying to find suitable sites to sequester.

It's no different a response than folks returning to buying gas guzzlers when the price of gasoline drops.

I wish I knew more about how the US and UK differed in their history in regards to taxing gasoline and diesel.

It seems that the UK costs of fuel are around 1pound/liter while in the US is is about 0.75dollar/liter

With the high consumer price to fill up in the UK, then high mpg cars have more of an incentive.

I think that the US fuel taxes for diesel and gasoline could rise by a modest 5cents/year without being blamed for tanking the economy.

The rationale for doing so would be that once the fuel prices were 'high enough' then maybe change to higher mpg vehicles could progress in a 'painful yet reasonable' way? Oh, and would certainly return more tax revenue to the government than currently.

I wish I knew more about how the US and UK differed in their history in regards to taxing gasoline and diesel.

I think many wonder about that - irrespective of whether they would use the information to prevent or promote the high-tax regime. I don't think I've come across a truly compelling narrative explanation, even though the broader subject has attracted entire books, such as: It Didn't Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States.

It's perhaps unsurprising that a place like the USA, populated to an important degree by self-selected refugees from atrociously hyperactive governments, might have a different politics in these matters from places with ancient traditions of abject subservience to absolute or near-absolute hereditary monarchs. It's perhaps also unsurprising that a tiny overcrowded island would produce more regulated/constrained outcomes than a vast and by comparison empty country, if only to "keep people out of each other's hair", as the saying goes. (There's more to be gained by pushing one's neighbor's car off the road with a swingeing "congestion charge" in London than in North Dakota.) But on another hand, this last doesn't explain why even vaster and more thinly populated Russia went for murderous totalitarianism in the 20th century. On yet another hand, though, in Russia as in Europe, the places that "matter", i.e the major cities, are/were very crowded indeed. So it's quite the question and still awaits a compelling answer.

Climate changes - average temperatures - are almost like stock market changes, when viewed on a graph over time.

Sadly (in some senses) the long - or at least medium - term stock market trend is downwards, unlike average temperatures. Not sure we'll ever see a 16,000 Dow Jones Index again.

Yeah - I was thinking that - mirror images.

"Oil industry's deep well of fear"

The peak oil idea is simple: Oil is a finite commodity and one day we are going to use up all of it.

Yes, peak oil is a simple idea - which makes it all the more ridiculous that the author then proceeds to state it incorrectly.

Actually the simple version makes more sense then the 'size of the tap' analogy(Skrebowski?). If a tank containing 1000 gals has a 1 gallon per minute(max) outlet it will flow for more than 1000 minutesA tank of infinite size with a 1 gallon per minute(max) outlet will flow forever.
I believe we need real reserves to grow by 3 million barrels per day each year to keep production constant.
The EROI people maintain that falling production efficiency
due to having to use oil sands, deepwater and heavy oil instead of light crude is reducing the flow, but oil production is still strong.

Yes, peak oil is a simple idea - which makes it all the more ridiculous that the author then proceeds to state it incorrectly.

It's amazing how the word peak gets lost on so many writing about peak oil. Don't they even understand what the word means? That probably does not bode well for the masses, because most probably think in the same terms, i.e. lots of something or none. I suppose for most it must be a nuanced thought level to understand that there can be a lot of something, but it has reached the maximum that can be produced per day.

Maybe the direction of humankind is the collective average intelligence of its populace? Oh my, that sure sounds scary, but answers a lot of questions.

That probably does not bode well for the masses, because most probably think in the same terms, i.e. lots of something or none.

However it can be argued in the real world that this is correct, in practical terms.

Like employment versus unemployment, there is rarely a happy steady state ... and with oil (or at least motor fuel) a community, region, or even a whole nation, can go from a situation of plenty (excess, or at least sufficient, supply) to shortages, closed gas stations, long queues, and rationing - sort of "overnight" - if supply drops below demand by only a few percent, which amounts to a few percent every day, and is aggressively compounded.

Friday night failures: just one this week

U.S. FDIC says Palos Bank and Trust Co. closed

(Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Friday closed Palos Bank and Trust Company in Illinois, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said, marking the 110th U.S. bank failure so far this year and the 14th in Illinois.

In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans continue to express near-record-low confidence in newspapers and television news -- with no more than 25% of Americans saying they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in either.

These views have hardly budged since falling more than 10 percentage points from 2003-2007...

While 18- to 29-year-olds express more trust in newspapers than most older Americans, Gallup polling has found they read national newspapers the least.

Younger Americans also expressed more confidence than older Americans in several other institutions tested, including Congress, the medical system, and the criminal justice system, suggesting younger Americans are more confident in institutions in general...

Now that Simmons is retired , at least we have some experts left to rely on.

Jimmy Buffets Reaction to the Oil Spill on CNN.


Contribution from future Offshore production seems a bit discounted. This EIA graph is referenced

Like the MSM, oblivious to the big picture: realities of ELM and replacement of the extraction rate from major fields that is in either free-fall or just on a declining slope. Graph shows 5.6 million bpd 20 years out?!? That's a lot of stripper wells.

A shorter 2.5 minute version

" I know Liars when I hear them"


The obvious Questions:

A. Where's the future petro-go-juice going to come from?

B. Who's the bigger Liar - BP & Gov for lying about one blow out well amounting to perhaps minutes of US consumptions, or the EIA for not using the extractions rates of change to show the "situation as is" .

Disclaimer: been to at least a dozen of Buffet concerts, favorite song-Fruitcakes.

Haven't been to any concerts; Fruitcake is my fave anyway. I can relate. I'm just another bozo on the bus.

Hot debut in even hotter market: Oree's LED-based planar lighting

The company is Oree Inc., taken from the Hebrew for light (or) and which translates to ‘my light’. It has developed a new way of packaging off-the-shelf LED die with state-of-the-art micro optics to realize a low-cost, thermally stable, uniform LED area light source that can produce up to 100 Lumens per Watt.
The site launched this week (www.oree-inc.com) and that launch was quickly followed by the announcement yesterday (August 12th) that the LED chip supplier to Oree, Taiwan-based Epistar Corporation has invested in Oree and its technology.

This is fantastic - but when can we buy/source product?

I'm using these for grid-free indirect lighting

Anyone else have source for interesting products?

'Oree'? Sounds more like it was chosen so folks would confuse it easily with 'Cree' a top-end supplier of LED dies.

SuperbrightLEDS.com is unforgivably pricey, though they sell top quality product. Their LEDs are at least properly binned and tested.

I buy directly from factories in China, which is the only way to avoid paying several bucks per unit. It's literally a hundred times cheaper. The problem is a familiar one though--- most of the manufacturers in China are selling craptastic product. Defective junctions, high infant mortality, no color or intensity binning, rapid failure, the works.

I do like Hebei alot though; they bin and test. They're not the cheapest. But I've bought a shade under a two hundred thousand units from them over the past five years or so, and their LEDs have been reliable long-term. They also use top-brand dies (eg, HP, Cree, Osram) though not in all their stuff. Their LEDs actually meet published intensity spec--- another place where 90% of the Chinese manufacturers are lying their asses off.

....just in case anyone was planning to go out and buy a ton of LEDs. I've enjoyed reading TOD for years and never dreamed this here electrical engineer geek would ever have anything to say!

Thank you for this, xiphmont. I think you've provided us with a pretty fair and accurate snapshot of the industry as it now stands. I often come across as anti-LED in my posts, but I'm not; I have no problem with the technology as such, just the blatant lies and misrepresentation and the lack of good data by which to judge various products. Hopefully, this will improve with time.


..and Paul, your regular supply of good info on the Fluoro's that are out there have really helped keep me aware of how good this source is for permanent fixtures.

I do tend to fawn over LED's because I approach life with a 'make it portable and modular' mentality.. but I'm setting up a lot more lighting in my apartments with Fluorescents, and looking for ways to make the light sourcing and quality feel comfortable and (ahem) 'Un-fluorescent', if you'll pardon the term..

We were off in the woods for the last few days, up at our camp in the White Mts, and there is a mineral-mine that hikers wander through to annoy the regular gem-stone diggers.. and it's chockablock full of Thick Mica Slabs.. so I think I'm going to make a Parabolic Trough Surfaced entirely with Mica, just to see what that reflected light quality looks/feels like.

If it's worth sharing, I'll send some pix along! (I was also toying with surfacing an old 10-foot Satellite Dish with Mica, to make a 'Natural Parabolic Solar Dish' .. and if the surface gets bad, you can just peel off a layer or two!


Thanks Bob. Although we use linear and compact fluorescents throughout our home, I confess the table lamp that sits on my den desk contains a Philips 40-watt Halogená Energy Advantage A19 (http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/halogena_energy_saver/hou...). It's one of my guilty pleasures.

The White Mountains are absolutely beautiful. Lots of great memories of my travels through this area.


Blessed are the Geeks! Thanks for tossing in some pro-level experience.

I've been using the SuperbrightLED site for a while, as I like the range of products, but have wondered where else I could go to get some more competitive prices.

One Tungsten-color (or Warm White or 3200k, for other consumer level buyers) LED product that I'm having great success with from them is this one, ( G4B-WHP10-DAC White LED Lamp -- http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/commerce.cgi?product=MR16 ) a flat disk with 10 warm-whites on it, mounted with MR11 Pins. They're $15 apiece, but my little portable setup with 3 of these has worked as a Video Sungun, a Worklight, Desklamp, Camping Light, etc.. Weighs next to nothing, and draws less than one amp ( <12-14 watts with all three of these lit, while one is often ample for task lighting, and two to light up, say, a picnic table area )

Anyway, I'd love to know where there are better prices, but I'll be getting a couple more even at this cost, since they're so useful, lightweight and efficient. (They cast a broad, 180* source.. will be great aimed into a Parabolic reflector for an even more intense work-light)


From the Archives
Oil Shale on the Horizon - Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Feb 29 1980

But there is an immense difference in scale between test production and commercial operations. To produce the 48,000 barrels of oil a day Colony says it can start turning out in 1985 it would need a half dozen six-story-tall retorts each capable of processing 11,000 tons of shale a day.

Colony officials now estimate that it will cost $13 billion to 15 billion for that operation, and the fact remains that it has never been done.

Occidental Shale Oil Inc., a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp. of Los Angeles, has spent over $100 million developing modified in situ technology and leads the industry in the field.

Occidental has been testing underground retorting since 1973. The last three retorts built by Occidental were big enough for commercial production - 160 feet square and almost 300 feet high.

The last of those retorts collapsed during production, but Occidental says it still is ready to go to commercial production on a 5,000 acre tract of land leased from the federal government for $117 million.

Again, there is the task of scaling operations up to commercial production. It will take 40 underground retorts, with a new one being ignited each week, to produce the 50,000 barrels a day Occidental says it can be turning out by 1987.

Accoding to Yergin's oil history book, "The Prize," shale oil was considered the next big thing back in the 1920's.

Read the story at this post of mine, from 1928. What do we replace conventional oil with? Oil shale, coal, corn, and sugar cane. Should ring a bell.

That leads to the response to the "Peak oil has been predicted x times over the last x years" argument.

"And Oil Industry experts have been predicting shale oil as the next big thing for the last 90 years."

Instances of both are in these news articles. I simply present them as historical artifacts, not to argue anything, at least initially.

Lake Mead At Lowest Level Since 1956: Water Users Conserving, Hoping For Rain Next Year

Falling water levels in Arizona's Lake Mead have Arizona citizens facing an historic turning point, brought on by a 12-year regional drought - effects, as pictured. (Water consumption in the Colorado River watershed has increased greatly since the 1950's, when levels were last this low.) With the reservoir having dropped 10 feet since last summer, water managers and consumers are scrambling to conserve, hoping to avoid severe cutbacks. Arizona farmers especially are at risk. Eventually, all water consuming industries and even residential property values could be. Those waiting for a return to a 'normal' precipitation regime face the invisible elephant in the room: climate change.

I've never understood the wisdom of developing and populating a portion of the country that is effectively a desert. Whether the current drought is caused by climate change or a long-term shift back to an historically dryer period, I believe Lake Mead's water level will continue to decline. What's really surprising is the overall lack of attention or urgency - sure some articles here and there and the water department serving Las Vegas is adding a third tunnel to Lake Mead. However, what is not being discussed - at least publicly - is a looming catastrophe for agriculture (I understand there are actually rice paddies out there), energy production from both Hoover Dam and all the power plants that require water for cooling, and general business / population.

This can't end well.

I also noticed the large Walmarts that was inundated by the Iowa flooding and the Tennessee flooding earlier. The risk analysis for building something with huge inventories on a floodplain must be interesting. I know this is short-term risk compared to the long-term thinking in desert areas but it says something about risk aversion in general.

...something about risk aversion in general.

Well, yeah. What it says to me is that "risk aversion", at least when it involves the normal range of risk encountered in US (or Western society) is not about risk at all, but about politics. In Iowa, there's land, more land, and more land besides that, and yet more land besides that - and yet an awful lot of stuff gets built on the 0.5% that gets flooded, time and time again, whenever there's a wet year, AGW or no AGW. (We also get the small-town downtown buildings where the basement vaults extend out into the creek, and the owners are always shocked, just shocked mind you, every few years when they get flooded out yet again.) Nobody seems to be terribly bothered by that sort of risk, not even if once in a blue moon someone drowns.

And yet people get worked up into a furious lather - or rather, pretend to do so - over purely theoretical levels of risk from everyday "cell phone radiation" or "toxins". Um... yup, that's about politics, not health. Cell phone use can be quite annoying, but politically you'll never get it restricted much on aesthetic grounds. So what to do instead? Scare people out of their wits by trumping up a "hazard". Same for those who hate cars or other manifestations of modernity - you'll never get those banned on aesthetic grounds either, so trump up the "hazards" instead and pretend we can or should all go back to the horse-and-buggy days when everyone was perfectly "safe" and lived to be 150.

Then again, some things just never change. After all, none of this is news, is it?

Nobody seems to be terribly bothered by that sort of risk, not even if once in a blue moon someone drowns.

Really? Many insurance firms won't cover for flood damage if you are in a flood plane. That strikes me as a type of "bothered". And the Federal Government has made offers to buy out people in some flooding areas.

And yet people get worked up into a furious lather - or rather, pretend to do so - over purely theoretical levels of risk from everyday "cell phone radiation" or "toxins"

Nice Straw man you've got there. Be a shame if it burned to the ground. Ya see, this is not a safe neighborhood for straw men (unloads a gas can) because of the drums of oil (starts spreading the gasoline around) and all too often these straw men just don't last. Now, for a bit of consideration (send your e-gold to eric.blair@example.com) your straw man will be safe.

(strikes match) Let me tell ya a story. About my bad habit of smoking. (lights cig with match)
At one time there was a product that lottsa people used - tobacco. Quite popular - but a number of people though - hey its not safe to breath smoke from fires in, bet Cigs ain't safe. And the makers of cigs did tests (starts setting up a film projector) and it turns out they found out the cigs were not good for ya, as was claimed. The reaction - tell the public there was no problem. If anyone had a study that didn't support the public position of 'its all good' - well they had PR and the ability blow smoke up ones ass. Given the past actions of other multi-national firms - why should one believe "everything is fine" about cell phones? Why should they be trusted?
Now here's the last scene in 'thank you for smoking'
Naylor finds new clients: "Look into the mirror and repeat: 'There is no conclusive scientific evidence linking cell phone usage and brain cancer.'"

As for toxins - here's a book for you to read:

Hopefully you'll consider taking down your strawman before someone comes by and points out how flawed your strawman - what with the pure BS of "people get upset over toxin risks" - you've not selected what 'toxin exposure' is a 'purely theoretical levels of risk' so your position can be shown to be false with topics like toxins at military bases, love canal, rivers on fire or even the birth defects of places like falluja. All of those topics are ones you can find people worked up about and you have PR people saying 'there is no reason to be concerned'.

ahh, if he only had a brain.


"The overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong," the editors wrote.

Kemp tells WebMD that practitioners have largely ignored the clinical evidence suggesting that dietary modification improves ADHD symptoms in some children.

<Sigh.> I think part of the problem is that most of the country is climatologically miserable, so there are no ideal or even good choices, much less wise choices, irrespective of how well it ends. For example (as I've said before a good while ago), a person getting on in years who lives in, say, Minnesota, will probably be instructed in due time by their doctor to:

(1.) Move someplace where it doesn't snow
or (2.) Lock yourself in your house all winter long
or else (3.) Take a chance on falling on the ice and living in a wheelchair for your remaining years on this Earth.

It happens every day. Some become so-called "snowbirds" who migrate seasonally while they can still drive or endure the artificial miseries of flying. But many just move. Trouble is, there's no good place to move to.

Florida and Arizona seem to be seen as the least worst destinations. No snow. Of course one must still lock oneself inside for a large part of the year, not due to ice, but due to scorching heat and, in Florida or the Gulf Coast, the unremitting fetid debilitating humidity that made the Southeast a thinly populated backwater before air conditioning. But at least there's zero risk of slipping on ice during the miserable walk across the furnace of a parking lot into the supermarket. And, as they say, "you don't have to shovel the heat", which eliminates the risk of getting a heart attack while shoveling. [Before you flame me for mentioning that: yes, it's an objectively insignificant risk, but the TV weather hypesters play it up to the hilt at every year's first snow - and in a society where people obsess endlessly over, say, an absolutely trivial hazard that might or might not exist from "cell phone radiation", one cannot possibly expect risk to be handled with an attitude embodying any sort of reasonable perspective whatsoever.]

I suppose a third option might be to move right onto the Pacific coast, somewhere on the narrow strip of land close enough to the ocean to have moderate seasons. However, in retirement, one probably wants to move to a populated place - where one might be able, say, to continue living when driving ceases to be an option - and on the Pacific coast those places are generally so fantastically expensive that I've not personally heard of anyone moving there in retirement, although I suppose it's been done.

So I don't think I'm going to bother looking for too much in the way of otherworldly idealistic "wisdom" in these matters, as it would simply be futile. In the real world it's more often a matter of taking the least-bad of a set of bad choices, and living with it.

"But at least there's zero risk of slipping on ice during the miserable walk across the furnace of a parking lot into the supermarket. And, as they say, "you don't have to shovel the heat", which eliminates the risk of getting a heart attack while shoveling. "

On one hand, yes - my neighbor, who is 73 and lives alone, slipped on the ice in the alley and broke her pelvis. Being the independent sort, she is still in the house 2 years later, against doctor's advice.

On the other hand, if one does a moderate amount of yardwork through the year, shoveling a little snow is not heart-attack material - it is winter outdoor exercise ! (albeit unwelcome, at times)

Florida and Arizona seem to be seen as the least worst destinations. No snow. Of course one must still lock oneself inside for a large part of the year, not due to ice, but due to scorching heat and, in Florida or the Gulf Coast, the unremitting fetid debilitating humidity that made the Southeast a thinly populated backwater before air conditioning. But at least there's zero risk of slipping on ice during the miserable walk across the furnace of a parking lot into the supermarket.

I happen to live in Florida year round and spend quite a bit of time outdoors...Yeah it can be hot and humid but your description borders on exactly the type of scare mongering that you criticize with respect to the health effects of cell phone use.

..that, and, what is so terrible about Snow? Maybe it's my Swedish side talking, but I feel pretty safe if there's a good blanket of snow on the ground. It means easy transportation, and I can build a shelter anywhere I please out of the stuff.

You can drop me off in the Maine woods any time of year, I'll be just fine, thanks.


Yep, my own ancestry is Danish and Hungarian and I lived for may years in New England and upstate New York. Heck, I even spent part of my high school years in Buffalo... I've done the snow thing and its fine by me. I used to love blizzards in the city because I could walk for miles on the empty roads.

Strictly speaking, the problem is not snow so much as ice, but as a practical matter they go together. If you're still young and/or fit, ice may not be a huge problem. But modern medicine guarantees most people many, many years when they are not young and/or fit, as seen upthread (emphasis added):

On one hand, yes - my neighbor, who is 73 and lives alone, slipped on the ice in the alley and broke her pelvis. Being the independent sort, she is still in the house 2 years later, against doctor's advice.

And even while you're young and fit, there's still the vast, shrill postmodern hype and fearmongering over minor or trivial risks, whether eric blair likes it or not - for another example consider the great heat and controversy generated by Lenore Skenazy.

Plus, even many young/fit people don't really want to deal with the repetitive hassle/delay/upset caused by blizzards and ice, so they too move to warmer climes where as I said, "at least you don't have to shovel the heat". (Possibly they're not the Swedes - or Finns, who may be even a bit more... let's call it eccentric.) As long as air conditioning remains a viable option, it's hard to see why the current pattern wouldn't continue.

Florida and Arizona seem to be seen as the least worst destinations.

I would want to go somewhere with good food production.

In the past I would have said California, but seems the central valley is getting very hot, and aquifers also seem to be getting depleted.

Now a days, I think Oregon might be a good state to live in, due to the 'pretty reliable' rain, and relatively good farm production.

"Those waiting for a return to a 'normal' precipitation regime"

Archeological studies have shown that multi-decade droughts are 'normal' for the Southwest, and were 'normal' long before the Industrial Revolution.

Reversion to mean is perhaps a better phrase to use.

It's all happened before:

Golden Age

Periods of adjusting to resource depletion

Drought/climate change

Migration, immigration, warfare, (cannibalism?)

Yes. Jared Diamond talks about this in Collapse. He points out that nature's cycles are too long for the human brain to notice. The southwest was settled during a particularly wet phase, just as the Gulf Coast was settled during a time of relatively few hurricanes.

IIRC, he said you'd need about eight generations to notice the pattern in the southwest, and that's too long for just about any human culture.

I like to check out this site for Lake Mead water levels...nice graph that's constantly updated:


You can find info on Lake Powell's level here:


Just when I thought it was safe to put away the tin foil hat.

Digg investigates claims of conservative 'censorship'

Online magazine AlterNet claimed to have uncovered a group of Digg members – dubbed "Digg Patriots" – who have "censored hundreds of users, dozens of websites, and thousands of stories" from the site. Alternet alleged that the Digg Patriots, thought to number nearly 100 members, are "able to bury over 90% of articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours".

AlterNet claimed the group of Digg Patriots, whose political affiliations are described as "conservative", work to "censor" the prominence of articles "even slightly critical of the GOP/Tea Party/FoxNews/corporations

High on there list are articles about "green energy" and "climate change"

They serve their master well - let us hope he has saved a special circle in hell all for them.

I don't understand this at all. How can a group of Digg users, or whatever they are, bury stories on the internet? I find everything I read by Google or Google News. How can they keep stories from Google?

Ron P.

The stories are ordered according to the number of "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" they get from readers. If a group doesn't like a story, they jump in early and give it all thumbs down, moving it down several pages. Stories they like get all thumbs up, moving them to the top of the que. Most folks won't see stories that are several pages down. I've seen this before.

Digg is a web site where users can submit stories on a wide variety of topics and then users can vote on a story. The more popular stories get moved to the front page where others can see them. When they vote, it only affects stories as displayed on that web site.

You can block search engines from crawling your web pages.

PG has often complained that TOD stories get buried on Digg. You might use Google to find stories, but many others use Digg, Reddit, etc.

We notice, because if a story of ours get enough votes on Digg or Reddit, we see the traffic.

I don't understand this at all.

In the interest of removing your ignorance

Agreed on:

also like:
TOD (of course!)

Doesn't surprise me. The same thing happens or happened with wikipedia entries. Scores of overzealous home-school educators unleash their students with assignments to update entries to correct information they don't agree with. I think people wised up to this and then they went the conservapedia route. (Read the entry for http://conservapedia.com/Democrat.)

The challenge is counteracting information when your adversaries have nothing better to do, be they retirees or grade-schoolers.

Conservapedia is pure comic gold!


Peak oil
From Conservapedia

The Peak oil theory asserts that there is a point at which global oil production will reach a peak or maximum, from which it must then begin an irreversible decline.[1] The theory has been floated by some geologists and promoted by fossil fuels opponents, but suffers from a lack of supporting evidence.

Comic gold indeed. Not worth modifying just for its humour value.

I also found a recent example of incessant Wikipedia editing.

If anyone is curious about just how nutty these people are they have a project (being headed by Phylis Schafly's son) to edit the bible due to liberal influences. Yes apparently infallible people make mistakes too.

The gripes I've read at slashdot seem to indicate that Digg is overrun with arch conservatives, while Wiki is overrun with power obsessed mods. /. itself has more than a bit of vitrol directed at its own moderators in the comments section. Possunt quia posse videntur.

On slashdot, the actual members self-moderate:


I read a juicy looking entry from the Conservapedia, and all I can say is OMFG: Biblical scientific foreknowledge

3.1 Existence of the Jet Stream:

Ecclesiastes 1:6 notes, "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits." This described the jet stream long before its 19th-20th century discovery.

Top that, The Onion.

The best stuff on Digg is farther down anyway. I Digg this, from page 10:

Liberals Start "F*ck Tea" Party Campaign


Re: "BAU is dead"

Eric Sprott: "We Are Now Paying For The Funeral Of Keynesian Theory"

...If we use the Fed’s own numbers, the impact of debt on GDP is even more dismal... Deficit spending, which has generated smaller and smaller increases in GDP over time, is now generating a negative impact on GDP due to the costs of servicing the debt.

The chart suggests we have already entered what PIMCO refers to as the "Keynesian endpoint", where the government can no longer afford to increase debt levels...

It suffices to say that we need a new economic plan – a plan that doesn’t invite governments to print their way out of economic turmoil.

Keynesian theory enjoyed a tremendous run, but is now for all intents and purposes dead… and now it’s time to pay for it.


So, who says the US is actually applying Keynesian theory? In other words, which party added the most to the national debit in inflation adjusted dollars? And how much of that added debit went to waste as military spending, which produces no tangible wealth, i.e., valuable stuff for US citizens?

E. Swanson

Keynesian theory would have the government smooth fluctuations in economic activity due to business cycles by running surpluses in good times and running deficits in bad times.

The US has only applied the latter half of Keynes' theory.

Good point about "actually applying Keynesian theory" - some people say we we never really followed all of the rules of Keynsian theory.

About which party did what... that's the game my children play.

Multiple leaders from both parties over the past few decades got us into this disaster. Neither party's hands are clean.

Anyone who expected humans to fully apply Keynesian theory as prescribed, probably also is naive enough to believe that Marxism should have worked but didn't, due to that pesky problem called reality.

Homo sapiens has an extremely short term viewpoint that is very self-centered. It's required for survival. This viewpoint is going to override wishful thinking, whether it's from Karl Marx or John Maynard Keynes. (Capitalism fails for similar reasons and additional other ones.) Until we actually devise a system of resource distribution and management (I refuse to use the discredited term "economics" because it's poisoned by utter nonsense) that is based on our evolutionary heritage and who we actually are as a species, we will continue to have nonsensical outcomes that surprise people when they implode.

Keynesianism is a failure for the same reason Marxism is a failure - it had nothing to do with reality aside from wishful thinking.

I am mostly naive, but I agree with you on all points here.

I like "gifting" economies, but I think those are mostly wishful thinking too. At least for now, for my locale.

The "Golden Ages" of various civilizations were typically during periods of low resource stress combined with enlightened despotism. Even then, the "golden" part applied only to a minority.

Democracies always end up eating the seed corn and starving to death.

If only we had real seed corn these days instead of the hybrid varieties. Then too, the US will likely feed it's corn to the gas guzzlers in the form of alcohol...

E. Swanson

We will have great federal deficits from now on, until the time the dollar is effectively replaced (which may take some years). The party in government won't matter much, if at all, in controlling the deficits. Is the 'Tea Party' or anyone else going to cut back widespread programs causing the biggest future deficits such as social security and Medicare?

The US government appears to be operating more out of a bailout and BAU mentality rather than trying to implement some aspect of Keynesiam theory. Also the debt-to-GDP ratio shown in the article is somewhat misleading due to factors such as very low interest rates, government guarantees and takeovers of various businesses and mortgage lenders, etc. Adjusting for these factors US economic conditions and debt creation are not that far from normal.

Quebec, Vermont sign long-term hydro deal

Essex, VT. - Premier Jean Charest said Thursday he hopes a 26-year, $2 billion contract to sell power to the state of Vermont will counter some American perceptions that hydroelectric power is not green, as well as boost exports.

Inking a massive long term 225-megawatt deal with Vermont Governor James Douglas and a host of utility officials, Charest seized the opportunity to make a pitch for further deals in the lucrative New England market and beyond.


The power volume is equal to roughly one-third of Vermont's power consumption.

Vermont is Hydro-Quebec's largest long term power customer outside the province.

Although the details of the contract were not made public, Hydro-Quebec president and CEO Thierry Vandal said the initial price in 2012 will be 6 cents a kilowatt hour -the same price Vermont pays now.

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Quebec+golden+energy/3390174/story.h...

Not all is rosy, however:

Brookfield’s power supply running low
Lack of water is hurting hydro-power facilities and that is being felt on its bottom line

Brookfield Power has had a dismal 2010 as near-record-low precipitation last winter and spring in Ontario and Quebec has deprived it of the water levels needed to turn its turbines.

The winter’s sparse snowfall and the dry spring are posing challenges for hydroelectricity producers across Central Canada, drawing down Hydro-Québec’s massive reservoirs, reducing Ontario Power Generation’s generation in the eastern and northern parts of the province, and hammering production and financial results of investor-owned power companies.


While hydro production is off in Ontario, summer power demand has risen to its highest levels in three years due to hot weather. That increase in demand, coupled with the drop in output from hydro facilities, has led to a sharp increase in the use of natural-gas-fired generation, which is up 30 per cent so far this year.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/brookfields-power-supply-r...


The winter’s sparse snowfall and the dry spring are posing challenges for hydroelectricity producers across Central Canada, drawing down Hydro-Québec’s massive reservoirs...

So much for relying fully on renewable energy sources.

Talk about a climate and fossil fuels double wammy!

Not good.

Btw, Paul, I'm off to supervise camp for a week starting tomorrow. Will call you when I get back to get together for a coffee. Cheers! Tom

No question, Tom, that's a big wild card for us, Ontario in particular. Have a great time at camp and I'll catch up with you upon your return.


Thank you Leanan for posting this in a DB thread yesterday. I just now had time to read it completely. Sharon Astyk is a one of my heros.

Things Fall Apart - Slowly

"The central project, in a collapsing society is to make sure your collapse is as good and mild a collapse as possible.

But this is only possible when you have to come to the point of admitting that you are falling apart, and that the project is no longer to keep it together, but to mitigate the experience of collapse.

Until we can stop pretending we are not falling slowly towards disaster, we cannot begin to do what is most needed - have an honest conversation about what resources we have and what we can and can't actually achieve.

It's particularly interesting to read about the honest conversations involving Community Action Programs and Higher Education ("How is Southeastern Louisiana University going to deal with this? Who knows").

"Equatorial Guinea expects oil production to jump by more than 100,000 barrels per day within two years".

Just a little reminder of the future potential distribution of oil as PO looms larger. That increase in production in EG is another $2.7 billion/yr that won't go towards ending the suffereing of 500,000 folks who exist on a near starvation diet thanks to the greed of their homicidal dictator. Most of the oil/LNG goes to the EU. The same EU that touts itself as so much more socially responsible than the US. They know exactly how the system works in EG and as long as the energy continues to support their economies they don't have a problem with the "local politics". The EU, and the rest of the world, doesn't have a problem with EG today even when there's an adquate supply of oil. And what will be acceptable when PO starts to truly hurt their economies? The strong will usurpe from the weak at whatever cost to the defenseless IMHO. The only question that remains is which countries will be on the poor side of that "line in the sand".

Sharon made the statement a while back that pretty much sums it up....


Nothing being done, or can be done, that will turn the ship away from the iceberg. Best to get busy with your personal lifeboat.


I've uploaded a new version of my free Peak Oil software to my website.


Added new Hubbert Curves for India, Indonesia and Italy

You can download it here: http://sokath.sourceforge.net/

An eco-experiment - from Victorian townhouse to certified Passivhaus

Octavia Housing are aiming to register the UK's first certified retrofit to Passivhaus standards through the innovative refurbishment of a Victorian terraced home.

Octavia, alongside their competition partners, are transforming an 1860s terraced house into a low energy home by refurbishing it to Passivhaus levels - a low energy building standard that will require the home to use less than 15kWh of energy to heat it per m2 per year, compared to the UK average of 130kWh.

If successful, it will be the first certified refurbished Passivhaus in the UK.

See: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2010-08-13-An-eco-experiment-from-Vic...

Our total household consumption is just under 50 kWh per m2 and the space heating portion is approximately 20 kWh per m2. I don't know if we'll ever get below 15 kWh, but that's our goal.



I know I am supposed to be inspired by your example but actually I am disguisted because I am doing so poorly with my own energy conservation program, compared to yours. ;)

Nevertheless I am making progess.

Right now I need some free advice from any professional engineers or hvac trades people, if anybody will be so kind as to provide it;otherwise I will surely just have to find my own answers by trial and error.

My homemade solar domestic hot water system(under construction) has a non pressurized 48x 96 x 16 inch working measurements STORAGE RESERVOIR .(The dimensions were limited/determined by the fact that it has to go under an existing porch.)

I built it like a concrete form from plywood and 2x4 and 2x6 lumber and lined it with a single thickness of rubber roofing of the kind that comes in rolls and is commonly exposed to pretty high temeratures in it's regular application, not to mention direct sun.The reservoir will be insulated with about twelve inches of fiberglass bats- that's all I have room for.

It passes the leak test- it stays bone dry.How much heat will this roofing material stand and how long can I expect it to last?(It will not be exposed to the sun inside the reservoir tank.)

Will I have a temperature stratification problem with the water in the reservoir tank as there will be no planned circulation of the reservoir water other than whatever results from natural convection ?

I am installing a hundred feet of 1/2 copper tubing delivering pressurized cold water passing thru the reservoir to act as the pickup heat exchanger-this will deliver the preheated water to the existing electric water heater.Is this enough , or will I need more length on the pickup coil? I am hoping to be able to keep the reservoir water around a hundred and thirty to one hundredforty degrees for the most part if this contraption works as planned.I don't need very hot water -one hundred and ten is sufficient to wash dishes and plenty hot for a bath.

I have about a hundred and twenty feet of 1/4 copper tubing I am planning on using as the heat delivery coil inside the reservoir.

I plan on making four thirty foot lengths out of the 1/4 tubing flowing in parallel so not much pressure will be needed to obtain adequate circulation.This to be accomplished by using four half by quarter tees at each end of the thirty foot lengths,eight total, plus lots of solder and some short pieces of half inch tubing to assemble.

Will I need to cut the quarter inch tubing into shorter lengths in order to lower friction in the system and get more flow? Tees are cheap!

Pressure needed to circulate the water in the hot loop from the actual solar collector to the reservoir and back will be provided by a fifty watt pump originally used to circulate water (heated with an oil fired boiler) thru residential hot water radiators.The collector loop will have antifreeze, no drainage will ever be necessary except for maintainence.

My actual collector is also 48 x 96 inches inside, 12 inches working depth inside dimensions, very well insulated, and I expect to cover it with uv protected Lexan , which will stand the heat, and is supposed to never turn cloudy or yellow..

I am mounting it on a very deeply sunk and well anchored post, so that I can swing it like a gate,to catch morning, midday, and evening sun to best advantage and also rotate it around it's own axis to intercept the sun to best advantage throughout the year.(The necessary flexibility in the plumbing will be provided by two short lengths of industrial grade rubber hose.)

This will also allow me to control any collecter stagnation problems in hot sunny weather by simply rotating the collecter away from the sun enough to limit the highest attained collecter temperature.

( Having my own welding gear and lots of salvaged metal around has allowed me to incorporate these nifty features at very little cost, other than my own labor.)

Now comes the real question.I have six aluminum automotive radiators,each from a car with an engine rated at or over one hundred and twenty horsepower.I plan on spray painting them flat black, mounting them so that the air inside the collector can circulate freely around them, and plumbing them in series.

Will this suffice as the sun/ hot air to liquid heat exchanger?

I can buy copper tubing and flashing and fabricate the collector guts if I have to, but I am quite taken with the idea of putting these radiators to good use.

And since 120 volt ac is handy, I could , if necessary, install a small low wattage fan inside the collector to boost the absorption of heat by the radiators-er, collectors.

But the whole idea of course is to get away from buying electricity. ;)

I expect to finish up for considerably less than a thousand bucks,labor excepted, as I got about half of the materials by salvaging them.

Thanks anybody and everybody!

A couple of us here also subscribe to a DIY Yahoo Group called Simply Solar (Which sprung out of the www.builditsolar.com site, same author, I believe.) It's ALL about DIY solar heating projects, and bouncing ideas and tests at each other.. finding the best sources, materials, adhesives, etc.. comparing circulation pumps.. lots of good geek stuff.

You might hop over to that site for a peek and consider joining up. There's been a good series of active discussions about people's homebuilt heating rigs.. and whether it's a blessing or a curse, there are a lot of suggestions and advice going around in there.

I'm just in from the woods for the last few days, and can't offer much on this post, my eyes are crossing too much (Just brought in a few gallons of Blackberries, among other accomplishments..) ..

but check that site out, if you like.

Bob Fiske

Hi Mac,

You've been busy ! I'm afraid I'm not well qualified to offer good technical guidance but, thankfully, there are members of this forum far more knowledgeable in these matters than myself. Best of luck to you on this project and please let us know how it turns out. I'm very keen to learn more and I know your feedback with be helpful to others as well.

FWIW, we're a two person household and we both shower daily, run a couple loads of laundry each week in warm or hot water and use the dishwasher occasionally. Our electric water heater is a small 115-volt model which is plugged into a power monitor and our usage averages between 4 and 5 kWh a day -- a little less in summer when inlet temperatures are higher and, conversely, a bit more during the winter months when the incoming water is colder, we tend to take longer showers and wash bigger, bulkier clothing. In effect, between 120 and 150 kWh per month or $15 to $20.00 at current rates.

A good low-flow shower head and high efficiency front load washer (or washing in cold water) can cut your hot water consumption rather dramatically. We're both water and energy frugal and so we make a point of using both sparingly, and that perhaps more than anything else accounts for our favourable numbers.



couple of suggestions.

Fiberglass batts; Can easily get wet or damp and thus lose the R value (actually U value is a better way to compute heat transfer [U is the reciprical of R]). Why do we use fiberglass in filters and then in insulation? Suggest foam insulation with its lower U per inch; doesn't have dampness problems, but white styrofoam is flammable.

Stratification; inside houses stratification indicates insulating problems. Usually caused by windows or insulation voids or air infiltration. The old saw "add insulation to your ceiling/attic" is really addressing an effect and not the cause. In a water heat exchanger, counterflow is desirable; maximizes the heat transfer while minimizing stratification. Counterflow is to have the input of one circuit be located at the exit of the other circuit; but may not be possible with the tank as a monolith.

Auto radiators; I also have a couple of unused ones, 1 copper and 1 aluminum. But while I can't remember where I read it, I recall that it is strongly discouraged where it may come in contact with potable water. Consider that soldered fittings ,as opposed to silver soldered fittings, will eventually leak. Auto radiators are designed for air flow velocity that is greater than you indicate you would have; number of rows, row and fin spacing, control the heat transfer.

Tubing; A geo heat pump ground fluid loop uses turbulent flow to maximize heat transfer. Laminar flow warms/cools only the outer portion of the fluid flow. Because you don't have to dig up most of your yard, as a geo would, this may not be a problem; just add a few more feet of tubing. Quarter tubing has a large circumfrence to area; so 30 foot lengths of quarter tubing seems quite long based on a SWAG. Having the tubing inside the tank seems to be a possible maintenance complication; an external heat exchanger would be a worthwhile consideration.

Thinking about your plans, I note that a typical solar hot water system might use 2 4x8 foot panels with fixed orientation. Given your tracking idea, you might get by with your collector, which has the area of only one such panel. Also, your plan for using car radiators sounds like a plumbing nightmare with great potential for leakage. Early solar systems designs tended to fail because of leakage problems and the more places you have connections, the more likely is a failure. Most commercial panels are designed to drain completely, especially if used in a drain down or drain back system configuration. Sooner or later, you are going to need to drain the panels. Most locations of the US can expect to see frost or freezing conditions at some point in time, so you will need to plan for that as well, thus the need for draining the collectors when not running or the requirement for circulating antifreeze if not. Furthermore, using aluminum radiators as collector "plates" would require some sort of anti-corrosion treatment for the working fluid. With your large tank, I would doubt that you would want to fill it with anti-freeze and/or corrosion inhibitors...

E. Swanson

SuperG is planning an upgrade tonight. Site may be unavailable starting at 1am EDT. Hopefully it won't be for more than an hour.

Bill Black: U.S. Using "Really Stupid Strategy" to Hide Bank Losses

Partial Transcript:

AAron Task: Should we be surprise there are not more bank failures?

William Black : Not Surprised, we should be upset there are not more bank failures. The industry has used it's political muscle to get Congress to extort the financial accounting standards board to gimmick the accounting rules so that banks do not have to recognize their losses.

AAron Task: In practical terms, what does the gutting of that rule mean for the banks?

William Black : Capital is defined as assets minus liabilities. If I get to keep my assets at inflated bubble values that have nothing to do with their real value, then my reported capital will be greatly inflated. When I am insolvent I still report that I have lots of capital.

AAron Task: You are saying the FDIC is intentionally keeping foreclosures down because it knows it does not have enough money to pay off depositors who are insured by the FDIC?

William Black : That is correct and that is going to make ultimate losses grow...

(my emphasis in italics)

The industry has used its political muscle to get Congress to extort the financial accounting standards board to gimmick the accounting rules so that banks do not have to recognize their losses.

What a wicked web we weave when first we try to deceive. The level of corruption, vacuous moral ineptitude, and outrageous audacity that has permeated the financial and political landscape in this country, is beyond anything I could have ever imagined it would devolve into, from those days when money was pegged to gold, all home loans were fixed and required confirmation of income to repay the loan, plus 20% of the purchase price to qualify. They were very careful about who they loaned to because the bank that made the loan carried it until it was paid off, and if they did have to reposses, there was already 20% there from the downpayment, so selling it did not usually entail a loss.

Seeking to Cool Air Conditioning Costs
Heat Wave Ramps Up Call for Efficiency, But It’s No Breeze

The air-conditioning industry is starting to feel the heat, and not just from the scorching temperatures that are being felt around the world. It's getting tougher to squeeze more efficiency from today's cooling technology, offering little relief anytime soon for consumers fuming from summer electric bills.


An evaporative cooler developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory uses drying compounds, or desiccants, to pull moisture from the air. The idea isn't new, but is now more feasible with advances in technology, such as membranes that employ nanotechnology to keep the desiccants separate from the water.

A "desiccant-enhanced" prototype at the lab needs less than half, and perhaps 90 percent less, of the energy of a conventional air conditioner. It could be in field trials in three years and on the market soon after, says Eric Kozubal at the renewable energy lab.


“I think people in the air-conditioning business can see the end of refrigeration technology,” he says. “It’s clear something has to take its place."

See: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/08/100812-energy-evaporativ...


I'm not sure how a dessicant enhanced AC works. I can imagine putting some hydroscopic material as a stage after a swant cooler (which cools by evaporation), but the dessicant would soon become saturated, it needs to then be dried out, and I think that requires energy input. I think they were only expected the new system to work is somewhat dry climates -say in the USA, the high plains and west.

In any case, in dry hot climates one can use a mixture of evaporative swant coolers, and refrigerated air. All by itself the swamp coolers make the indoor humidity too high. But you can use them to a limited extent to reduce the demand for the refrig A/C.

Hi EoS,

I'm not sure how it works either, but it seems that the membrane coatings are designed to keep the desiccants separate from water so that energy isn't required to release this moisture at a later stage. This would make the technology especially well suited to humid areas such as the south-east.

Cutting air conditioning demand by as much as 90 per cent could be a real game changer if it should come to fruition.


NationalGoe... articles that include such nonsense as "Conventional, refrigerant-based AC uses so much energy because of mechanical compressors that squeeze the liquid coolant." leaves the rest of the article in doubt. The author evidentally does not understand air conditioners (Heat pumps are a mystery to most mortals). Sure would like to witness the squeezing of a liquid coolant!

But this is not to say that work on "A "desiccant-enhanced" prototype at the lab needs less than half, and perhaps 90 percent less, of the energy of a conventional air conditioner." is in the same category.


For those following AGW/climate change, after April, May & June were the hottest of those months since 1880, July was the 2nd hottest.