Drumbeat: August 17, 2010

Robert Bryce - Blown in the Wind: The U.S. should stop wasting billions to subsidize unreliable wind energy projects

They like everything big in Texas, and wind energy is no exception. Texas has more wind generation capacity than any other state, about 9,700 megawatts. (That's nearly as much installed wind capacity as India.) Texas residential ratepayers are now paying about $4 more per month on their electric bills in order to fund some 2,300 miles of new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from rural areas to the state's urban centers.

It's time for those customers to ask for a refund. The reason: When it gets hot in Texas—and it's darn hot in the Lone Star State in the summer—the state's ratepayers can't count on that wind energy. On Aug. 4, at about 5 p.m., electricity demand in Texas hit a record: 63,594 megawatts. But according to the state's grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's wind turbines provided only about 500 megawatts of power when demand was peaking and the value of electricity was at its highest.

Put another way, only about 5 percent of the state's installed wind capacity was available when Texans needed it most. Texans may brag about the size of their wind sector, but for all of that hot air, the wind business could only provide about 0.8 percent of the state's electricity needs when demand was peaking.

The green-energy landscape just keeps changing

Today there's a whole menu of options for going beyond the petroleum era, from biofuels and next-generation nuclear power to solar-powered syngas production. But which option will be the "magic bullet" for America's next energy era? It turns out that every energy alternative has its pluses and its minuses, just as oil, coal and natural gas do.

The current renewable-energy debate focuses on how to strike the right balance using all those alternatives — and avoid getting burned in the process.

NATO takes aim at energy

Today several operational trends are suggested for the Alliance in the sphere of energy security. In the first place – the assurance of security of energy infrastructure in the territories of both the countries of the Alliance and in the states outside the block. This could include not only the physical security assurance but also the exchange of the intelligence information, experience and technologies. Another proposal was to make NATO a forum of consultations on the establishment of joint military units protecting the energy infrastructure.

Another possible trend could be the provision of collective support to countries suffering from the energy crisis. Decision on the provision of the above support could be determined by the incidents related to energy security or by the inability of certain allies to ensure stable supply of energy resources. NATO could ensure more smooth cooperation both in the Alliance and with the suppliers and transporters of energy resources.

The upsides and down sides of hydroelectric dams

Hydroelectric dams are among the greenest and most affordable electricity sources in the world—and by far the most widely used renewable energy sources—but they also take a heavy environmental toll in the form of compromised landscapes, ecosystems and fisheries. Hydroelectric dams have been an important component of America’s energy mix since the powerful flow of rivers was first harnessed for industrial use in the 1880s. Today hydroelectric power accounts for seven percent of U.S. electricity generation—and some two-thirds of the country’s renewable power—according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

China state firms dominate solar power tender

(Reuters) - State-owned companies eclipsed private rivals by offering the lowest grid feed-in tariffs for all of China's second batch of utility-level solar power projects open for tender, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.

Death by Growth: What the Climate-Bill Autopsies Missed

It's the economy stupid. And, no, not the recession. Not the lack of growth, but growth itself. Or, rather, the government's unwavering devotion to advancing it. I'm not going to spill any ink here explaining how the paradigm of unending growth is incompatible with preserving life, prosperity and security on a finite planet. Far more authoritative voices such has Bill McKibben and Gus Speth have already articulated that argument far more eloquently than I could. But for the purposes of doing a proper postmortem on the climate bill it needs to be said that as long as growth remains the number one priority of governments worldwide any effort to by those governments to seriously address climate change will be doomed to end in failure.

Analysis: Increase in Capex Leads to a Strong Rise in U.S. Rig Demand

At the end of last year as initial drilling plans were being announced for 2010, we took a sampling of approximately 30 E&P firms to get a gauge of capital spending budgets and their likely impact on rig activity. Original plans of these sampled firms called for exploration and development budgets to increase ten percent in aggregate. Factoring in 2009 service cost declines, drilling efficiency gains, and our belief that commodity prices appeared sustainable; we surmised that U.S. land rig activity in 2010 would rise 20% on average or double the pace of proposed spending increases.

PetroChina Starts Trial Runs at Qinzhou Oil Refinery in Country's South

PetroChina Co., the nation’s largest oil company, started trial operations of its refinery in Qinzhou in the southern province of Guangxi to meet domestic fuel demand, a company official said.

Main facilities at the refinery have begun operating and commercial production will start based on the trial performance, Mao Zefeng, the company’s Hong Kong-based spokesman, said by e- mail today.

China Huaneng Said to Be in Talks to Buy 50% of InterGen for $1.2 Billion

The stake would give China Huaneng access to InterGen’s 12 power plants in the U.K., the Netherlands, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines. GMR Infrastructure, based in Bangalore, bought 50 percent of InterGen in 2008 for $1.1 billion from a fund owned by American International Group Inc. The rest of InterGen is owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Reports focus on lingering effects of Gulf oil spill

Researchers at the University of South Florida have concluded that oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill may have settled to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico further east than previously suspected -- and at levels toxic to marine life. Their study is to be released Tuesday, as well, but CNN obtained a summary of the initial conclusions Monday night.

Initial findings from a new survey of the Gulf conclude that dispersants may have sent droplets of crude to the ocean floor, where it has turned up at the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle, the University of South Florida team said.

Oil Well Is Almost Dead, but Legal Wrangling Just Beginning for BP

In the coming years, BP will face a complex stew of litigation, fines and penalties stemming from the Gulf oil spill.

BP to stop handling claims related to Gulf spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- BP plans to stop processing claims from people and businesses hurt by the Gulf oil spill as it prepares to transfer that role to a government-appointed administrator.

The company says it will stop accepting new claims after Wednesday. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, led by Kenneth Feinberg, will take over the process starting Aug. 23.

Dozens killed as Baghdad bomber hits army recruits

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber sat for hours Tuesday among hundreds of army recruits before detonating nail-packed explosives strapped to his body, killing 61 people and casting new doubt on the ability of Iraqi forces as U.S. troops head home.

Bodies of bloodied young men, some still clutching job applications in their hands, were scattered on the ground outside the military headquarters in central Baghdad. Some of the estimated 1,000 men who had gathered there before dawn for a good spot in line were so desperate for work they returned hours after being treated at hospitals for injuries in the attack.

Flood-triggered fuel shortage cripples life in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Xinhua News Agency) -- Pakistani citizens, businessmen and industrialists are facing massive problems due to the unavailability of petrol and diesel at most filling stations of the country following a limited supply of petroleum products after floods washed away the link roads.

Russian Ban on Grain: Bread is Going to Be 20% More Expensive

Estonian Association of Bakeries estimates that the value of the bread will grow from 10 to 20% of the currently price.

The future growth comes to confirm the fears that the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce President Roomet Sõrmus who said that Russia’s recent decision to temporarily suspend grain exports will probably impact national farmers and consumers, as he told on Kuku Radio and was reported by the Estonian national broadcasting.

UK: Rising price of hay drives rise in theft

The rising price for hay is driving a new crime wave of ‘hay rustling’, leaving farmers with no feed for animals over the winter.

Mexico oil output slips in first-half Aug - Pemex

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican oil production fell to 2.529 million barrels per day over the first 15 days of August from 2.573 million bpd in July, according to a preliminary report released by state oil monopoly Pemex on Monday.

The decline was due to lower output at the Ku Maloob Zaap, Cantarell and Offshore Light Crude projects, Pemex said.

Mexican officials have said they are confident that the country's five-year oil output decline has been controlled and that production can be kept above 2.5 million bpd through 2012.

Enbridge cuts alternative pipeline rate by 8 percent

Alberta (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc has cut oil flows by 8 percent on a major pipeline that is an alternative to the one that ruptured in Michigan last month, an executive said on Monday, as the company waits for regulators to respond to its reworked plan to restart the downed line.

Turkmenistan opens up to West

Turkmenistan is opening its doors to western oil companies for the first time.

On Friday, the country’s state television identified Chevron, ConocoPhillips and the Houston-based TXOil as the preferred US bidders for two oil and gas exploration blocks in Turkmenistan’s portion of the Caspian Sea. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Oil and Gas is also on the preferred list.

Final Gulf oil well 'kill' plan on hold amid pressure fears

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A long-standing deadline for sealing the ruptured Gulf of Mexico well deep below the seabed will be missed as US officials and BP tackle concerns about debris lodged in the well.

BP and US government representatives had hoped to complete a "bottom kill" procedure and officially pronounce the well dead by mid-August, but the US pointman on the oil spill response said Monday the bid was on hold.

Safety Warning Preceded Gulf Rig Blast

Weeks before the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the crew was warned not to let down its guard in a sternly worded memo from the rig's owner.

"Do not be complacent…Remain focused on well control," drilling company Transocean Ltd. wrote in a 10-page "operations advisory" on April 5.

Coal Executive Pushes Back

As energy executives go, few manage to stir controversy and elicit vitriol from environmentalists with as much relish as Don L. Blankenship, the mustachioed chief executive of Massey Energy, one of the largest coal companies in Appalachia.

Baghdad fuel consumption at record high amid frequent power cuts

Baghdad - Fuel consumption in Baghdad has reached a record of 6.5-7 million litres per day, an oil ministry official said Tuesday, as Iraqis increasingly turn to private generators because of frequent power cuts.

Fuel consumption in July was 16 per cent higher than consumption in the same month last year, an official told the German Press Agency dpa.

Poland Determined to Build National Electricity Champion

Poland’s state-controlled electric energy utility PGE made the highest bid in the tender for smaller state-owned rival Energa and is now the most likely buyer of the firm, according to sources familiar with the matter. The deal that could be worth around $2.7 billion, much more than earlier estimates by analysts, would create a national energy champion in Poland.

The state seems determined to sell its asset to another company it controls. A think tank has recently called projects like this “pseudo-privatization” that could generate a third of Poland’s ambitious $8 billion privatization drive. The main goal of this exercise isn’t to sell state-owned firms to private owners, but to generate revenue to plug the budget deficit, experts said.

All-electric rental cars are on their way

As early as January, electric cars will be available at the nation's two largest auto rental companies.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, North America's largest car rental firm, unveiled plans last week to offer about 500 Nissan Leaf all-electric cars, initially at dealerships in Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.

This came a few months after Hertz, the world's largest car rental company, said it planned to offer Leafs at a handful of locations in the United States and Europe next year. A fully charged Leaf has a range of about 100 miles.

Study: Megacities will drive huge demand for electric cars by 2020

According to an updated report released by Frost & Sullivan, the emergence of megacities in developing nations will drive demand for electric vehicles (EVs) up dramatically by 2020. The study – aptly titled "360 Degree Perspective of the Global Electric Vehicle Market - 2010 Edition" – provides an overview of the EV market while also focusing on trends such as urbanization, car sharing, personal mobility and city development.

Deadliest for Walkers: Male Drivers, Left Turns

Taxis, it turns out, are not a careering menace: cabs, along with buses and trucks, accounted for far fewer pedestrian accidents in Manhattan than did private automobiles. Jaywalkers were involved in fewer collisions than their law-abiding counterparts who waited for the “walk” sign, though they were likelier to be killed or seriously hurt by the collision.

And in 80 percent of city accidents that resulted in a pedestrian’s death or serious injury, a male driver was behind the wheel. (Fifty-seven percent of New York City vehicles are registered to men.)

Ocean waves can power Australia's future, scientists say

(Reuters) - Waves crashing on to Australia's southern shores each year contain enough energy to power the country three times over, scientists said on Tuesday in a study that underscores the scale of Australia's green energy.

China: Helping Poor Matters More Than Rank

BEIJING -- China's government said Tuesday it still is a developing country despite becoming the second-largest economy, reflecting its reluctance to take on new obligations on climate change and other issues.

EPA seeks to regulate carbon from trucks, buses

(Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators sent draft rules to the White House on Friday that would for the first time cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy trucks and buses, a government website showed.

The Nation’s Greenest Colleges

One way to measure environmentalism on college campuses is to size up their efforts to cut energy use or to recycle garbage. In rankings released on Monday, the Sierra Club’s Sierra Magazine anoints Green Mountain College in Vermont, which gets heat and electricity by burning locally sourced wood chips and methane from cow manure, as the nation’s greenest college.

Exclusive Golf Course Is Organic, So Weeds Get In

Opened eight years ago, the club is thought to be the only completely organic golf course in the United States, its 18 holes groomed without the use of a single synthetic pesticide, fertilizer, herbicide or other artificial chemical treatment.

“When we started here, some of my peers thought this golf course would be a dust bowl,” Carlson said, walking across a lush, smooth green toward a rolling, verdant fairway. “I admit I wasn’t so sure it could be done myself. People said we were crazy.”

Peak oil theory has peaked and there is no apocalypse now

Simmons predicted “a collapse of 30 or 40 per cent of [Saudi] production … sometime in the next three to five years – but it could even be tomorrow”, yet the kingdom’s production capacity has risen significantly since 2005. And Saudi Arabia was always a strange place to start with peak oil: even if we believed peak oil protagonists’ contentions that Saudi reserves are overstated by half, the country would still be pumping less than 3 per cent of its reserves annually. When the UK’s production peaked in 1999, it was extracting more than 20 per cent of its reserves each year.

Yet, just as during the 1970s oil crises, the idea of peak oil has gained particular resonance in these apocalyptic times. It has become conflated with the population explosion, with food shortages, with the very real problem of climate change and, inspired by the global financial crisis, the end of capitalism.

Crude Oil Trades Near Five-Week Low on Signs Economic Growth Is Faltering

Crude oil rebounded from a five-week low before reports that may show declining U.S. supplies and as advancing European equity markets stirred optimism about increasing demand.

U.S. oil inventories probably fell to a one-month low last week, a Bloomberg News survey showed before tomorrow’s government report. A low-pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico has a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained as much as 0.7 percent.

Cost of gas may be headed downward again

NEW YORK — The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose in the last three weeks but is expected to fall again, as a decline in the price of crude oil trickles down to the pump, an industry analyst said Sunday.

Fund managers make big bets on oil stocks

(Reuters) - Top hedge fund managers went bargain hunting in the oil patch in the second quarter, buying shares whose prices had tumbled after BP's Gulf of Mexico well disaster and in the face of lower oil prices.

Capacity Shortages Hurt Oil Exploration And Production

Some exploration and production companies were unable to secure oil service capacity on a timely basis during the second quarter of 2010 as the increase in onshore oil and gas development created shortages and long waiting times for some. This capacity shortage also caused a few companies to report lower production in the quarter, possibly impacting full-year production targets.

Interior Department limits use of environmental waivers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Interior Department said on Monday it would limit the controversial practice of allowing environmental waivers for deepwater drilling projects and instead subject all such drilling to detailed analysis as it evaluates its review process.

Allowing companies to skip the environmental review process for specific drilling projects has come under intense scrutiny because BP was granted waivers for its exploratory well that blew out of control in April.

Norway's oil production up in July

(Reuters) - Norway's oil production rose to a preliminary 1.804 million barrels per day on average in July from actual production of 1.785 million barrels in June, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Tuesday.

Chinese oil majors eye domestic demand, govt policy

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Upcoming earnings from China's trio of oil majors, PetroChina, Sinopec Corp and CNOOC, will shine a spotlight on oil demand from the world's No.2 energy user, which could throttle back its fuel demand in a cooling economy.

What would an Israeli attack on Iran make better?

Is that worth it? I'm skeptical, to say the least. But even if you think it is, it's certainly not an actual answer to the problem described in paragraph two. Israel's plan for the future can't be to hope that either it or America will succeed in bombing or invading every unfriendly Arab nation that attempts to upgrade its military capabilities. And in making the short-term problem of Iran's weapon ambition a bit better, it may make the longer-term problems of regional hatred and angry terrorists even worse.

Power now comes at a very high price

Two matter above all others. The first is to address the transport fuels trade deficit, now standing at $16 billion a year and heading towards $30 billion in 2015 – and that is if the global crude oil price stays at its present levels and the Aussie dollar remains high. Change these two factors and a deficit of $50 billion a year is not impossible.

Ever fortunate in energy resources, Australia can meet this impending crisis by having recourse to oil shale and/or natural gas for vehicles as well as by launching on the 20-year task of creating the infrastructure for electric vehicles. But it will take years to get either option to the point of delivering relief.

Unsustainable relationship between China and U.S. clouds both countries' prospects

Climate change, peak oil, competition for scarce resources including rare-earth metals, North Korea's nuclear program, Taiwan — all have highly destabilizing potential. While America has been exhausting itself in Iraq and Afghanistan, China has been building ties around the world to lock up resources and markets.

BP Pays Three Times 2009 Interest for Loans Amid $50 Billion Spill Costs

BP Plc is paying almost three times its 2009 borrowing rate to shore up its finances amid costs to clean up the Gulf of Mexico spill that could reach $50 billion.

Gulf oil spill: Are con artists posing as fishermen to scam BP?

BP is investigating reports that its claims process, in which thousands of business owners affected by the oil spill have applied for damages, has been the target of scam artists.

In some instances, people have posed as fishermen to receive checks from BP. In others, swindlers masquerading as BP employees have tried to convince Gulf Coast residents to give them personal financial information.

Scientists Say as Much as 79% of Oil Remains in Gulf of Mexico

A group of scientists says as much as 79 percent of BP Plc’s leaked oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico, challenging an Obama administration assessment that the crude is largely gone or rapidly disappearing.

Most of the oil that leaked from BP’s Macondo well from April 20 to July 15 is still beneath the water’s surface, scientists including Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens, concluded in a memo made public yesterday. The researchers say they drew upon the U.S. government’s study while reaching different conclusions.

Oily, slow start to Louisiana shrimping season

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Louisiana's first shrimping season since hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic crude spewed into the Gulf of Mexico opened Monday, but few boats took to the water and some found oil, while fears lingered that no one will buy the shrimp anyway.

Gulf oyster beds could start rebounding in fall

Here's what sounds like a riddle but isn't: Louisiana lost somewhere between 20% and 50% of its oyster beds because of the Deepwater Horizon disaster — but 0% because of the resulting oil spill.

BP spill health effects need to be tracked: experts

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Doctors in the Gulf Coast region need to be alert to both the short and long-term health effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, U.S. health experts said on Monday.

Prior oil spills have shown that contact with oil and chemicals can affect the lungs, kidneys, and liver, and the mental strain can boost rates of anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress as many as six years later.

One year after release of Lockerbie bomber Megrahi, questions about BP role

Paris – Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi left a Scottish prison a year ago Friday on compassionate grounds that he had three months to live. But Britain's media and US senators now wonder if more compassion was given British Petroleum’s oil interests off Libyan shores than the individual found guilty of downing a New York-bound Pan Am 103 with 259 people aboard, 190 of them Americans.

5 Years Later: Hurricane Katrina

"In a way, I am kind of sad, because we had people all around us. You’d get up, you’d see folk, ‘Good morning, good evening, how are you?’ Don’t have that anymore."

Lester R. Brown - Dwindling Fossil Fuels and Our Food System

The relationship between energy and food is unsustainable, given the prospect of peak oil production. How long can we depend on fossil fuels to facilitate the transfer of food from farm to fork?

Experts ask if GDP is outmoded as prosperity indicator

GDP has long been used as the primary indicator of a country's prosperity. But global warming and economic strife have fuelled debate over whether growth really represents economic prosperity which is sustainable.

Old-style coal plants expanding

Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.

An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.

Out of fashion: Green lawns

Diane Faulkner's lawn was always causing her trouble. This Jacksonville, Fla., resident traveled frequently, and in her absence, her thirsty, fussy grass would go brown or otherwise run afoul of her neighborhood association's rules. She hated returning home to a $50 fine, but the last straw was when her travels took her to rural Kenya. Immersed in local life, she'd wake up at dawn with the villagers to walk miles along a dried-up river toward a water source, then return with a few gallons for cooking and washing.

"That was their whole morning," she says. As soon as she got on the plane back to America, she had a thought: "How many gallons of water do I waste on that stinking lawn?" And more broadly, why did she even have a lawn in the first place?

Turning the grid into an info highway

In the near future, utilities and consumers across Canada will access a Web portal to share information about everything to do with energy -- from the state of system loads to power outages to billing. Already, some individuals and businesses are helping to supply their utility with renewable energies and generating a new stream of income for themselves in the process. This is possible because provinces and power generators across Canada are moving forward with smart electricity networks to conserve power, supply new demand and address global warming.

Patrick, rivals clash over Cape wind farm

Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker came out swinging at Governor Deval Patrick yesterday afternoon in a debate on clean energy, calling the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound “a sweetheart deal’’ among the state, Cape Wind, and the utility National Grid that is purchasing half of its power.

Obama: Wis. plant symbolizes clean-energy future

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. – President Barack Obama says a Milwaukee-area battery plant represents the country's future in renewable energy.

Obama visited ZBB Energy Corp. in Menomonee Falls on Monday morning. The company makes batteries and fuel cells that get used in renewable-energy products.

Around The World In 80 Days With Zero Emissions

Four electric vehicles powered solely by renewable energy offsets departed from Geneva today on an 80-day race around the world. Though they’re sure to encounter adventure, this trip is less about Jules Verne and more about joules and volts.

Soaring temps cause mass coral killing in Indonesia-study

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A dramatic spike in ocean temperatures off Indonesia's Aceh province has killed large areas of coral and scientists fear the event could be much larger than first thought and one of the worst in the region's history.

Russia Wildfires Not Due to Climate Change, Scientists Say

Russia's heat wave, drought and wildfires, by themselves, are not signs of global warming, according several leading climatologists - despite widely reported claims this week by a Russian scientist.

But experts agree that overall, the climate indeed shows signs of human-induced warming.

Russia Uses Nuclear Icebreakers to Send Oil to China via Arctic Not Suez

OAO Sovcomflot, Russia’s largest shipper, and OAO Novatek aim to cut the time it takes to deliver oil and gas to China, sending their first cargo through the Arctic rather than the Suez Canal.

A 70,000 metric ton cargo of gas condensate left the port of Murmansk for Asia on Aug. 14, Mikhail Lozovoy, a spokesman for Novatek, Russia’s second-largest gas producer, said today by telephone from Moscow. He declined to give the specific destination.

Link up top:Peak oil theory has peaked and there is no apocalypse now

Discussions of peak oil describe it almost as a natural calamity, like a hurricane or earthquake. Yet peak oil is not something that just happens: it is something that we cause, or at least allow to happen. If we do not invest enough, if we fail to develop new technologies, only then is there a danger of declining energy supplies.

The continuing debate over peak oil, immune to facts, is increasingly sterile. It distracts us from the real problems.

What kind of thinking is this? Peak oil is something that we allow to happen? That is, we could prevent peak oil if we just throw enough money at the problem. We are immune to the facts.

It seems to me that the folks who keep saying that more drilling will fix the problem are the ones immune to facts, facts of geology. The real problem is geology and it will never be anything else. More drilling and more investment is searching for smaller and smaller oil reservoirs will only delay the inevitable but it can never prevent it.

Articles like this leave me scratching my head.

Ron P.

But, Ron, you know exactly what's going on here. Folks who persist in seeing peak oil as a problem of deficient investment are clinging to a paradigm, a way of experiencing the world which they cannot afford to abandon. If they had to acknowledge that there are limits to economic growth, their world would be turned upside down. These are the folks who are just not going to acknowledge any limits until they begin to encounter them in ways that can't be ignored. But you know all this. Nevertheless, the spectacle does make one scratch one's head.

At the end of the article, everything is explained,


Read Mills's book if you want his whole perspective. He actually speaks somewhat chastisingly of the need for OPEC to invest more heavily in their fields, like they are truant schoolchildren who must be taught a lesson, one of free economic nirvana in this case. The resources issue he considers a nonstarter - there are innumerable untapped anticlines in Iran etc. The mitigation approach receives short shrift as well - Transition Towns is snidely derided as "planting nut trees in Totnes, rather redundantly." What he's at in this article would be to go long on energy companies; same old same old.

Registration is temporarily disabled on that site - so one cannot make comments. Its just a board to display propaganda. Cool.

You missed the usual sleight of hand. They changed the subject from oil to "declining energy supplies". In any event, there is no point in debating, especially when your opponent is dishonest. Embrace the deluge.

The article is a fairly well written propagana piece, a sales pitch for the continuation of bau-which is in the (short term at least) interest of the publisher of the paper it appears in

The author may or may not be a useful idiot who actually believes what he wrote, but the content indicates that he has approached his subject like a political speechwriter, mixing in as much truth as possible, and presenting a reasonably low key dignified rebuttal of those scurrilious peak oilers wild accusations and charges of non existent reservres and spare capacity.

Anybody who has followed this site for a while and takes the technical material found here seriously should recognize this obvious truth by the time he is well started on the article.

But a lot of the members here here seem to be incapable of recognizing such stuff for what it is;Oil Drummers are amazingly literal minded when it comes to the written word.

Let me say it again folks-novels should be read not as bluyeprints but as explorations of ideas;likewise any social or business issue discussed in almost any publication should always be interpreted as possibly being deliberately biased in somebody's favor-usually the editors, the owners, or the advertizers.Sometimes the bias is concealed in subtle and devious ways;the better the writer, the better the camoflauge job.

"Peak oil is something that we allow to happen?"

Yup. We have taken permissiveness too far.

"That is, we could prevent peak oil if we just throw enough money at the problem?"

No. Money is not the answer. We need a Constitutional Amendment making it illegal.

"The former Shell geologist Kenneth Deffeyes put the peak date, rather precisely, at December 16 2005, which again has been proved wrong."

Well, we now know that someone else didn't bother to take the time to CAREFULLY read Deffeyes' book.

I'm with oldfarmermac although I'll go further. It proves to me the writer is intentionally dishonest.

It seems to me that the folks who keep saying that more drilling will fix the problem are the ones immune to facts, facts of geology. The real problem is geology and it will never be anything else.

Well..., growth doesn't help. Exponential growth in population and resource extraction.....

In fact, Peak Oil is just a symptom of a much bigger problem and it's the first shoe to drop.

We'd all be much better off if our world view wasn't so growth obsessed.

As for the article, If I had a penny for everything I've read along those lines...,

As for the article, If I had a penny for everything I've read along those lines...,

Take a chessboard and place a penny in a corner square, then take two pennies and stack them on the the square next to it. Now place four pennies on the next, eight on the next and keep doubling the number of pennies until you get to the 64th square.

Now get another chessboard and repeat ad infinitum.

Don't worry if you run out of copper for the pennies you can be sure you will find a way to make copper from something else... Oh, and the universe and human stupidity are infinite >;^)


Someone once calculated that if instead of your penny, use one corn kernal. The chess board would have to be big enough to hold more than one years corn supply (and that computation was made more than 20 years ago!).

Legends about the origins of chess have the inventor showing the game to the local ruler, who was very pleased and told the inventor to name a reward. The inventor asked for "one grain of wheat on the first square, two on the second, etc." Some versions of the story use rice instead of wheat. Once the ruler figured out he'd been duped, he ordered the inventor to count the grains individually in order to ensure that the royal treasurer hadn't made an error.

Wikipedia's article on the problem points to estimates that if wheat, the total amount would be 80 times the annual yield if all arable land were given over to wheat production. They point to another estimate that if the grain is rice, the reward would fill almost 37 cubic kilometers.

Just to tie it back to oil, the world consumes about 4.8 cubic kilometers of oil per year.

While the story behind the problem changes from person to person, the fable usually follows the same idea:

When the creator of the game of chess (in some tellings an ancient Indian mathematician, (just a tinsy bit more than 20 years ago) in others a legendary dravida vellalar named Sessa or Sissa) showed his invention to the ruler of the country, the ruler was so pleased that he gave the inventor the right to name his prize for the invention. The man, who was very wise, asked the king this: that for the first square of the chess board, he would receive one grain of wheat (in some tellings, rice), two for the second one, four on the third one, and so forth, doubling the amount each time. The ruler, arithmetically unaware, quickly accepted the inventor's offer, even getting offended by his perceived notion that the inventor was asking for such a low price, and ordered the treasurer to count and hand over the wheat to the inventor. However, when the treasurer took more than a week to calculate the amount of wheat, the ruler asked him for a reason for his tardiness. The treasurer then gave him the result of the calculation, and explained that it would be impossible to give the inventor the reward. The ruler then, to get back at the inventor who tried to outsmart him, told the inventor that in order for him to receive his reward, he was to count every single grain that was given to him, in order to make sure that the ruler was not stealing from him.

The amount of wheat is approximately 80 times what would be produced in one harvest, at modern yields, if all of Earth's arable land could be devoted to wheat. The total of grains is approximately 0.0031% of the number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12 (Avogadro's Number) and probably more than 200,000 times the estimated number of neuronal connections in the human brain (see large numbers).

In terms of volume: if it is assumed that a grain of rice occupies a volume of 2 cubic millimetres then the total volume of all the rice on the chess board would be about 36.89 cubic kilometres, i.e. 18446744073709551615 X 2 mm^3/1000000 mm/km^3 = 36.8934881 km^3
Source Wikipedia

Emphasis mine.

I'm not sure exactly what the volume of a typical kernel of corn is but I'm sure it is significantly larger than a grain of rice... I'll leave to someone else to redo the calculation with corn. >;^)

The story was published by "The Nation" which is something of a conservative rag. I would take anything they print with a grain of salt.

As national magazines go, The Nation is actually one of the most left wing.

Maybe just look at the link. The magazine is "The National" which is from Abu Dhabi, UAE.

If was from The Nation, I would fall over dead.


Being a little leftish is excellent camoflauge from the pov of an editor whose job is to subtly promote work directed toward such goals as "debunking" peak oil.

The NYT is a tad leftish as American papers go and it runs lots of excellent environmental articles, plus numerous articles about renewable energy.

But coverage of peak oil is conspicious only by its abscence.

The only possible reason I can see for the discrepancy,given the fact that a major paper is always in need of hot controversial topics to keep the presses rolling,is that the owners or the advertizers have quietly told the the editors to avoid the subject.

As a matter of fact,the NYT, taken all around, is probably about as pro big biz as any large paper anywhere, excepting the Wall Street ournal and other such unabashed big biz cheerleaders.Preaching a little socialism here and there simply makes advocacy of the big biz interests the paper does promote that much more convincing.

And the fact that a paper-any paper- may be selling out on some particular issue, or avoiding some other issue , does not mean that the editors and reporters are not passionate and honest in respect to the vast majority of the content.

The doctors may be mad at the NYT, but the banks and the lawyers have ample reason to love them.

Being a little leftish is excellent camoflauge from the pov of an editor whose job is to subtly promote work directed toward such goals as "debunking" peak oil.

Being a "little leftish" might have a lot to do with their readership - ie the market segment they hold. NYC (and a precious few other places) can support a paper that doesn't spit right-wing venom, or drag its ideological knuckles across the floor on most issues.


I agree with your comment and stick by mine.

If you back far enough away from these trees to see the forest, it is easy to see that our points are both good, and reinforce each other.

NYC is after all the undisputed capital of biz biz in America,DC possibly excepted, and that readership includes all the people making thiers,directly or indirectly from big biz, from street vendors to tax lawyers.

Yet peak oil is not something that just happens: it is something that we cause, or at least allow to happen. If we do not invest enough, if we fail to develop new technologies, only then is there a danger of declining energy supplies.

I intrepret it as intentional spin. There is a mix of concepts which obsfuscate.

Discussions of peak oil describe it almost as a natural calamity, like a hurricane or earthquake.
>> Running out of something we all apparently depend on for BAU could be caused this, so true.

First is the statment that we (humans?) cause it.
>> Yes, we are drilling FFs, so true.

If we do not invest enough, if we fail to develop new technologies, only then is there a danger of declining energy supplies.
>> Ah, spin time. Could mean to support financing alternatives like wind/solar/nuclear _or_ they need more money to get remaining FFs (then indirectly admiting the shrinking EROEI that TOD helps educate people on).

The continuing debate over peak oil, immune to facts, is increasingly sterile. It distracts us from the real problems.
>> Big spin. It is my opinion that these _are_ the real problems.

Are con artist calling con artists con artists?

No disrespect to this fine forum, but if 10% of fishermens' claims curtail 50% of awards, who's the bigger con?


It's an election year, after all, and jobs are at the top of the agenda. Ask Governer Jindal.

The Norweigan production figures for June are out and they also have the preliminary figures for July. In June Crude + Condensate production was 1,591,000 barrels per day. (I only track C+C and not all liquids.) That was down 330 thousand barrels per day from May. This was due mainly to seasonal maintenance.

July figures were supposed to be back to the April or May levels but they did not quite make it. Preliminary crude + condensate production for July was about 1,878,000 barrels per day. If these figures hold then July 2010 production will be 270,000 barrels per day below July of 2009, a drop of about 12.5 percent.

Norway does most of their maintenance in June, August and September. The charts they produce show a huge drop, far below what would be normal maintenance levels, for August and September as it was in June, but not quite as low as it was in June. But their charts show production returning to 2009 levels in October, November and December. We shall see.

Norwegian production for the first seven months of 2010 is down 8.3 percent from the first seven months of 2009.

Ron P.

Which continues to follow the Oil Shock Model very closely:


They are on track to produce .7 billion barrels in 2010 which is about 100 million barrels below what your chart predicts. So they are under producing what the Oil Shock Model predicts.

Ron P.

And when I originally posted the model the drop looked pretty scary steep:

The problem with steep slopes is that slight variations in DeltaTime can have a significant impact on production. In any case, I think Norway is on track to produce 800 million barrels of oil in 2010 which is about 0 million barrels below what the shock model predicts. Uff da.

It will be interesting to continue to monitor this decline as Norway does an excellent job with production statistics.

I forgot a basic number. How much petroleum production is idled due to the relatively low price for the stuff? Does not every company, government, trader, and individual forgo efforts to obtain hydrocarbons if it is deemed not economical to pursue them? I seem to remember an oft used 'spare capacity' number. How do you truly quantify this capacity? Where do reserves end and too hard or costly to get to begin? What role does technology play? How does this impact the peak oil 'numbers'? I know the quality (how hard to get and oil quality) of proven reserves is a big factor in the whole picture. What are we really talking about here?

The shock model is simply a convolution on the proven discovery profile with a final extraction rate (and a few other rates representing intermediate stages).

I don't add anything more to the model than this because as you add factors, of course you can make it more detailed but it will rarely add any value. These class of models fall into the Maximum Entropy classification and I try to only rely on average values and thus maximize variance. So factors such as idling time get incorporated into the average values and contribute to the maximum variance (and thus a maximum entropy condition).

My entire philosophy of avoiding too much emphasis on "mechanism" is detailed in a thread comment downstream. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6861#comment-703783
Maximum Entropy models are renowned for getting the essential behavior correct under the condition of minimal information and fixed constraints.

No, you misunderstand me. You do good work. I just keep thinking these question and finally blurted them out. I wonder if we hit peak desire (demand) too? For reasons beyond the cost curve. Not to say changes in price do not effect demand, maybe I am saying the price will only go up, from this point forward. From here on in technology and the rest will beat down the US total use. This is the essence of peak oil, no? At least in terms of the US dollar. There might be short term downward pricing pressures, but the 'writing' is on the wall. Maybe I need to learn Chinese (bet that would take a while) and maybe Hindi to finish this discussion.

The only way I am going to resolve the ambiguities in what you are asking is to take a crack and put your questions into concrete terms. So I placed your idle time in terms of a rate and your reserve numbers in the discovery bucket. Price is replaced with a steady greedy extraction.

I don't know if we are talking different languages, but it sounds like you want a more abstract model than I can picture.

Will billions in Norwegian investment win over your shocking model?

You're going to eat that dumb chart, WHT.

In May 2009, the Norwegian government approved the plan for development and operation of the Goliat oil field by licensees Eni (65%) and Statoil (35%). Goliat is the first oil field in the Barents Sea to be developed and is one of the largest industrial projects ever undertaken in the High North (Northern Norway). In February 2010, Hyundai won a $1.16 billion contract to build a floating production and storage unit. The field is believed to hold approximately 200 million barrels of oil reserves and will include 22 wells connected to the production unit. Goliat was discovered in 2000 and is about 40 miles offshore of the town of Hammerfest, which will be its land base. The field is expected to reach peak production of about 100,000 bbl/d when it comes onstream in November 2013.

Statoil announced in March 2010 that it is investing US$3.4 billion aimed at increasing oil recovery in the giant Troll oil and gas field from its current level of 39 percent to 50 percent by the end of 2010. Additional wells are being drilled and new pipelines built. Current production from this field was reported at about 113,000 bbl/d at the beginning of 2010. Ekofisk, Norway's largest oil field, which produces 176,000 bbl/d, and other fields are being developed further by enhanced oil recovery. Continued stable production from these and other oilfields could potentially slow the rate of Norway's oil production decline.

In 2009, a record 65 wells were drilled and a record high of 28 discoveries were made. Continued exploration drilling in frontier areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea will be important for the mapping and evaluation of the resource potential in these areas. Exploration interest in the NCS remains strong on the part of major international oil companies despite the global economic downturn. The most recent licensing round was completed in April 2009 with 34 companies being awarded stakes in 21 new oil and gas licenses. In the spring of 2010, Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced a new licensing round, comprising 43 blocks in the Norwegian Sea and 51 blocks in the Barents Sea. However, awards will not be made until the spring of 2011 following an evaluation of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Norway's Energy Minister. Norway's Prime Minister Stoltenberg said in June 2010 that lessons from BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will affect Norway's approach to opening more of its Arctic sea for exploration.


You lack creative analytical skills Major Ian.

Well I don't know if your chart is C+C or all liquids. But they are averaging 1,920,000 barrels per day of C+C. If they hold that average for the rest of the year they will produce 700,696,000 barrels of oil this year. I doubt very seriously that they will hold that average however.

NGLs are about 12.5 percent of C+C. So if you are plotting all liquids then they are on track to produce 788,283,000 barrels of all liquids this year.

However, as I said, it is not likely that they will average the same the last five months as they have the first seven since August and September are set to take huge hits.

Ron P.

Ron says that the prediction is too high and Ian says the prediction is too low. The truth is based on the reported discovery data. I don't know why people have so much trouble with this. Oh that's it. Geologists or economists have never cared to or actually had the talent to do the proper mathematical analysis of production based on discoveries. That's all the Oil Shock Model is. Go figure.

Web, all you had to do was tell me whether your chart was all liquids or C+C. Why was that so hard to do? My data was based on what they produced so far this year and what they say they are likely to produce in the final five months of the year. That is about as current as it gets.

My data was not a guess, it was based on real data.

Now is your chart All Liquids or C+C. If all liquids then you are pretty close. If C+C you are way off based on the real data!

Ron P.

Lift a finger and try it out yourself. It's really not that hard.

The data is tracking the prediction pretty darn well.

Do you have such plots for other countries/areas, and if so, do they also predict the empirical data this well?

Everything I do is tracking and is available if you go through my blog archives. The modeling is comprehensive as it also covers reservoir sizing.

Solar inverter sales break record as shares shift

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A record 4.9 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic inverters shipped in the second quarter of 2010, according to a new report from market watcher IMS Research (Wellingborough, UK). As the market rises, shares of leading suppliers are starting to shift, the report said. Inverter sales were up a whopping 284 percent over the previous quarter with more than half of the sales going to Germany, the IMS report said. For the first six months of 2010, solar inverter sales hit 8 GW, a three-fold increase over the same period in 2009.

Why do inverters fail?Because they run hot?Because some of the materials degrade even if not hot over time? Failure of quality control?

It seems to me that no moving parts electrical equipoment should last indefinitely, if well built, but inverter failures seem to be pretty common, al least among the smaller sizes used by homeowners.

It seems to me that no moving parts electrical equipoment should last indefinitely, if well built, but inverter failures seem to be pretty common, al least among the smaller sizes used by homeowners.

Almost all inverters are microprocessor driven. Almost all crystal oscillators die, usually without warning. Then you have a 'dead brick'

Since you are usually creating a 60Hz (or 50Hz) signal, the inverter usually is mechanically 'humming' due to current and magnetic effects, and that is a physical oscillation that can usually cause some mechanical failures, like a marginally soldered weld to fail.

If electronics are an interest, then there is a list of which types of electronics components typically fail, fail first, or MTBF (mean time between failures), etc.


So long as they are industrial grade models designed for use with solar panels, properly wired and grounded, protected from overvoltage from the panels, protected from excessive AC loads, protected from surges and low-voltage from the power company, protected from lightning strikes and high static electricity voltages on the panel wiring, installed where the ambient temperature/humidity is within specs, and they are designed for continuous use and are not intended for intermittent use on cars or RVs, they ought to last many years.

When My inexpensive 300w inverter failed, component level trouble shooting found 2 bad output FET's. Looking up the specs via the P/N revealed they were only rated 200V. In normal operation they see 150V, add in a little spike and poof. A high quality inverter will use components that are not being pushed to their limit.

Inverters and amplifiers often die from over-voltage punch-through. Without proper tolerance and a decent snubber, such spikes can readily do damage.

Remember points and condenser on an old ignition? Just a simple capacitive snubber across the mechanical switch, feeding an inductive coil. If your condenser failed, your points would burn up and or weld/bridge from the inductive spike.

Probably all sorts of unpleasant things happen on your home wiring with AC compressors cycling and cheap devices of all sorts dumping charge here and there, let alone unavoidable transients like lightning or grid shorts.

Your average lighting bolt is what, 10 Megavolts? Rather than thinking that higher costing chargers and a better built circuit would be a better thing, why not invest in surge suppression technology that is more applicable across a broader base of electronics?
The AC stuff is broad and widely available. The DC stuff is not as widely known.

Why do inverters fail? Because they run hot? Because some of the materials degrade even if not hot over time? Failure of quality control?

It seems to me that no moving parts electrical equipment should last indefinitely, if well built, but inverter failures seem to be pretty common, at least among the smaller sizes used by homeowners.

Many reasons, (just like car failures...)

Yes, they run hot, and thermal cycling and higher temperatures are a well known failure driver.

Material degrade (non-thermal) is rarer.

Quality control issues will only really be infant failures, on the std 'bathtub' curves.
Factory soak testing would be expected to catch those.

Re: Russia Uses Nuclear Icebreakers to Send Oil to China via Arctic

It is not clear why icebreakers are needed. The Russian arctic coast is largely free of ice, or will be shortly.

Using a non-FF icebreaker to ship FF?

...There is some humor in that for me :)

For an icebreaker, it is probably good to not have to worry about running low on fuel.

Russia is planning to start building new icebreakers after 2010. In June 2008 the head of the state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, said "It is important to not only use the existing fleet of icebreakers, but also to build new ships, and the first nuclear icebreaker of a new generation will be built by 2015. This should be an icebreaker capable of moving in rivers and seas," he said. He went on saying that the Iceberg Design Bureau in St. Petersburg would prepare the design of the icebreaker by 2009.

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_powered_icebreaker
Apparently someone in Russia thinks they still have value. The river part is intriguing. Literally.

I thought I’d do a series of comments on the renewable energy world I live in here in north Iowa. Some seem not to know that a post Peak Oil world already is largely in place around here.

Google Maps has updated the area around the Crystal Lake wind farm. I can now show you pictures of the roads that were made through corn fields and pictures of the turbines themselves using Google Maps.

If anyone is interested in more pictures all they have to do is click on the little yellow man and drop him on a blue road near a wind turbine site or whatever interests them. Google Street View is fantastic!

There are about 224 turbines in this wind farm plus 10 in another small wind farm and yet another 7 around the ethanol plant at Lakota. These samples are just a portion of the wind farm. It covers an area of about 50 square miles between the small towns of Buffalo Center and Britt with Crystal Lake being in the middle.


The white lines going through the corn/soybean fields are the roads made to get to the turbines. The dots are the turbines themselves.


Here are some Google Map Street Views of the turbines: What’s nice about Google Street View is that you can get a 360 degree view by pressing the right or left arrow key. This one is just west of Crystal Lake:


In this picture a farmer is delivering corn to the new Christiansen Farms feed mill in the background. It is surrounded by wind turbines on all sides. Little corn is now exported. It goes to mega hog farm operations like Christiansen Farms, egg/chicken factories or to ethanol plants.


In future comments, I will show local elevators that buy corn which is later delivered to the hog/chicken factories and the ethanol plants. Most of it ends up at the ethanol plants. The elevators act as temporary storage and service organizations and are farmer owned. I will show Google Street Views of two where I deliver corn and have a share.

It seems Iowa had 3,604 MW of wind capacity installed by 2009 and a population of about 3 million. That's a huge 1.2 kW of wind capacity per capita!

Here in Scotland, we've also expanding wind capacity rapidly with just over 0.4 kW of wind capacity per capita to date. We've also about 0.3 kW of hydro per capita. And we're putting turbines under the sea to harness the tides.

Bet you can't do that in Iowa!

And we're putting turbines under the sea to harness the tides.

Bet you can't do that in Iowa!

The way its been raining in Iowa lately?.... If you can't go to the sea, maybe the sea will come to you! Harness the floodwaters!

I live in the UK. My family's domestic electricity consumption averages out at about 46W (or 0.046kW) per capita.

I'll take 1.2kW even if that is only nameplate capacity, not actual production of 0.3kW per capita.

1.1KWh per person per day? - that seems a very low figure, tell us how you do it.

As I sit here my PC and desk light consumes more than that - to say nothing of solar panels, fridges, TVs, washing machines, lights (even low wattage ones!) etc.

Assuming it is 1.1KW/hr per person peak generation sounds plenty enough if the wind blows all the time (~10,000Kw per person per year).

Problem is of course the wind is variable both in speed and time of day making the peak figure of little meaning.


A 1 kW power source running at full capacity for 24 hrs generates 24 kW/hrs, but only 1kW of power is available at any given time.

1.1kW/hr per day per person implies a power availability of ~46W, or about enough to run an efficient laptop computer and small CF lamp.

You probably meant to say KiloWatts *times* hours equals energy generated, ;-)

You are indeed correct. I blame a mid-afternoon caffeine deficiency.

Tony and Ralph: do you use different terminology on your side of the pond? Your post are nonsensical here. A kilowatt (kw) is a measure of capacity or usage, as a rate, ie; a 100 watt bulb consumes 100 watts. A kilowatt hour ( kw/hr) is our unit of comsumption, as the above mentioned light bulb will use 1 kw/hr if it is turned on for 10 hours.
Ralph when you say that your family's consumption is 46 watts per capita, is that 46 watts per hour? How many "capita" are talking about? If this your averaage rate of consumption then it is again meaningless as capacity has to be sized for peak usage, not average.

Four peope in the house, 4.4KWh total daily average. We are careful with our electricity use, but we have the usual appliances. Compact fluorescent lights, A* rated fridge and freezer (the latter a small top opener, stored in a shed).
Energy efficient laptops, lower power LCD TV, etc. etc. Once you measure your appliances in use, one by one using a cheap metre, it is easy to spot the greedy ones. We heat the house, water and some cooking with natural gas (and solar and wood burning stove). We have vacuum cleaners, washing machines (low temp setting washes) even a tumble dryer (only used on wet winter days). I have a few power tools, toaster, microwave, electric oven, games console, digital radios etc. etc.

The big power eaters are our electric kettle and our wireless router. I turn that off overnight. I should upgrade it.

I scrimp and use 1 kWh per day for just myself. Considering that a certain 'base load' from the refrigerator, HVAC and water heater 'you call them kettles?' applies to the whole place, we sound like we are doing a 'decent' job. I wonder what is the national average for residents is?

For the UK average total PRIMARY energy which includes electricity as a relatively small percentage is ~120KWh per person per day, (For the USA it is something like double this!) About half of this is used on our behalf by Government agencies.

Electricity is only a very small part of our FF substitution problem.

You can't always tell by this, but the best maintained car engines tend to be on the cleaner, better cosmetically maintained cars. Those drivers tend to run their equipment 'gingerly' as well. It is not true in every case, but it bears out over time and numbers. My point. If you are going to minimalize such efforts, at the very least give an alternative or two. Especially one you do or someone you have direct contact with does to save energy. How many kWh's did your household use last billing cycle? Thanks.

Indeed. We also use petrol and natural gas. Our car is not particularly efficient, but we only have one, I cycle most places when I can. We use about 300 gallons a year, or 13,500 KWh. We have solar hot water and wood burning stove, but we use quite a lot of natural gas. We have a 90% efficient gas boiler, improved insulation and keep the house at 18-20C in winter. Only so much you can do with a house built in 1939.

Also, domestic direct consumption does not include indirect consumption through our purchases , especially imports from China, and food. We try to grow some of our own, and I am vegetarian. Also, we benefit from socialised consumption of FF, particularly our children's education, and council services. We help by minimising the waste we put out for collection. I also consume FF doing my paid employment.

Finally, those 4KWh at the plug translate to 12KWh of primary energy at the FF power station (mostly coal round here). That equates to about a litre and a bit of petrol a day, or a quarter to a third of what we burn in the car.

our wireless router

Our ADSL modem/router (BT Home Hub) has been measured at 8W so .2KW per day - never really thought about the load such a small box could impose.

There is definately an argument for mandating a low voltage ring in new houses plus standardisation in 'wall wart' PSU connectors/voltage to devices allowing centralised high efficency adapters. Most of the loss is in the mains to LV conversion and even a relatively cheap solar PV/battery system could supply the power demands of LV appliances most of the time.

our wireless router

I worried about mine for quite a while. It makes quite the nightlight with multiple LEDs of varying colors, so I assumed it was a baddie. bevause of the nearly inaccessible tangle of wires I put off measuring it for quite a while. When I finally did it came out as 7watts!

I thought the Brits had us beat due to the 220 V/50 Hz they used to start with. Does this not make for more efficient transforming, or does it tend to even out? Maybe close voltages transform more efficiently? I cannot remember but it would seem an isolation 1:1 transformer would be the most efficient, cetrus paribus.

Go back to your youth. (Assume you are old)
You'd note that electronic Eq was heavy and had a habit of a hum. That was because the silicon didn't exist to switch on/off at 'high' voltage and current. Now one takes the voltage at 50/60, turn that into 20,000 or more Hz and put that into a transformer. More efficient due to the higher freq.

If you are young - the wall warts. In the last 8 years they are now swithcing to switching power supplies. The cheaper the item, the less chance its a switcher. Around 10 years ago microwaves moved to switching power supplies.

Neutral Zone

Khafji deal to be split in two

Kuwait said in April that the two countries had boosted output capacity from the shared zone to 610,000 barrels per day from around 550,000 bpd.

But it said the two Opec producers had pulled back from long-term plans to further boost capacity to 700,000 barrels per day to 900,000 bpd by 2030 as the fields in the zone are declining.

Comment: Just how much oil does the Middle East really have, and does it matter? (Colin J. Campbell - April 4, 2005)

It is noteworthy that the Neutral Zone, which is shared by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, announced no such increase, presumably because its two owners had no common motive for doing so.

roland horne has this on the subject:


Reserves are another important area of difference, and here the numbers are deceptive. The problem arises in the difference between the way the reserves are counted by geologists and the way they are counted by economists and business management.

connecting the dots with all lines leading through "they are lying" can lead to some distortions of reality, like seeing the world in a fun house mirror.

many (rabid doomers) jump to the conclusion that a step in reserves means "they are lying". were they lying before the step, or after (rhetorical?).

Thanks for the link - interesting reading. I compiled the top revisers of reserves using BP data, here's the top 10:

1992	Ecuador	52.95%
1989	Vietnam	53.33%
1994	Rep. of Congo (Brazzaville)	53.95%
1995	Other Middle East	54.44%
1989	Thailand	54.92%
2000	Sudan	56.32%
1986	United Arab Emirates	66.06%
1997	Qatar	70.43%
2002	Azerbaijan	83.17%
2003	Sudan	88.91%

Hardly any of these revisions compared in overall size to what the OPEC nations were up to, of course.

If you remember the oddity of that single trade that first shoved oil over $100 per barrel 2+ years ago, apparently it was rigged. Details in the following article.

Trading Group Fined for Driving Up Oil Price - CNBC

Later, prices rose above $100 on their own, of course, and far higher as well.

I remember that trader getting some TV time after the trade. He said he purposely bid over the available ask price and took a loss. He said he wanted to be the first person to buy $100 a barrel oil.

The article leaves one with the impression that there was a crackdown on speculators driving up the price. Really it was just one guy seeking some small place in history that moved the market for 5 seconds. At least, that's the way I remember it.

U.S. crude oil production had dropped to 5,064,000 barrels per day by 2007. A hurricane caused a further drop in 2008 but oil production is expected to be over 5,400,000 in 2010. Where did all this oil come from?

What the EIA Won't Tell You About U.S. Oil Production

In 2009, only eight states managed to increase their crude oil production over the previous year. In case you were wondering, California and Alaska – two of our three biggest oil-producing states – were not on the list. Don't even get me started on those two.

As expected, North Dakota led the pack. Actually, if you take Texas' 19,000 bbl/d increase out of the equation, the combined increases from the six remaining states was lower than North Dakota... it's difficult to believe that some investors have never heard of the Bakken oil play.

As of March, 2010, only four of those seven states are producing more oil than their 2009 levels. In fact, three of those states are producing less than 2,000 barrels per day more than they were at the end of last year.

It was the Bakken oil play that was responsible for the lions share of that increase, not the GOM.

This is where North Dakota is in a league of its own. In May, North Dakota's oil production was approximately 300,000 barrels per day. That's more than twice what the state was producing in 2007.

Can the Bakken continue this increase. Not likely but the author of this piece is a stock pusher and he is trying to sell shares of oil companies involved in the Bakken play.

The author of the piece informs us that the EIA expects non-OPEC liquids to increase by 720,000 barrels per day in 2010 but fails to inform us that the EIA is predicting non-OPEC liquids to fall by 160,000 barrels per day in 2011. Table 3b. Non-OPEC Crude Oil and Liquid Fuels Supply

Ron P.

It was the Bakken oil play that was responsible for the lions share of that increase, not the GOM.

The Bakken increased by 150 kbd since 2007 by the stats you quoted in the article. The GOM has increased by 400 kbd since 2007 as per the EIA. In my analysis, the GOM has led the way because of a quiet hurricane season in 2009 coupled with frenzied deep water drilling.


i will try to add to the confusion:

nd oil production

2007 122kbpd
2008 170kbpd
2009 217 kbpd
2010 278 kbpd (1st half)

nd bakken oil production

2007 19 kbpd 457 wells(at ye)
2008 74 kbpd 881 wells
2009 135 kbpd 1341 wells

(general statistics)

rig count = 138 at 8-16-2010
a drilling rig can drill 10-12 bakken hz wells per year. nearly all the 138 are drilling hz bakken wells. 135 by my count, so we could see the bakken well count double in the next year. that is probably what it will take to keep up the rate of increase. after that, i think they will have shot their wad(of cash)

eog has announced they will be bringing in an even bigger rig, capable of drilling 25,000 ft laterals under lake sakakawea of the missouri river(notice the spelling which is different from the one near spokane,wa of the snake river).

each well added in 2009 added 130 bpd. to supply US oil consumption, another 150,000 wells need to be drilled.

yeah, quite a contrast from the initial production rates announced in pr's.

i am not a shale oil bigot, i just have a prejudice against nanodarcy rock.

Can the Bakken continue this increase. Not likely but the author of this piece is a stock pusher and he is trying to sell shares of oil companies involved in the Bakken play.

Here's a nice little chart for you, Darwinian.


If I or anyone else had told you early in 2007 that ND oil production would nearly triple in less than 4 years, you would have laughed in my face - especially considering ND production already had a clear and defined peak back in '84-'85. When ND gets to 400K bpd, and then 500K bpd, I'll be the one doing the laughing.

Just eyeballing this chart, after another 7 years, ND may be producing 1M bbls of oil per day.

All you optimists out there, rejoice!

With ~ 640,000 residents, North Dakotans would be filthy rich, between the oil, coal, and wind farms...and the wheat, oats, canola, sunflowers, etc.

And they have a very well-run state-owned bank...

Uff da!

I just did my own quick-and-dirty chart extrapolating the one above, and came up with around 600K bpd around the end of 2014 or early 2015. I assumed a declining rate of growth starting in about 2012-13, and short-term declines for 2-3 months every winter (which happens frequently in ND due to frigid weather).

After 2016 I ran out of room on my chart. :-)

And the winters will be getting a little milder too.!

Maybe I should start telling local youngsters out of work to give ND some thought.

Oh, I just extended the trend line without fail...that's how these oil formations work, no?

You and all your science-y negative waves stuff...

Yesterday's piece on The Failure of Networked Systems: The Repercussions of Systematic Risk Revisited got me thinking a little bit. One challenge we face is increasing diminished returns for depleting resources. Society has managed to advance with abundant resources in our past, but also because increased economies of scale as things get larger, eg Walmart, electric corps, etc. As we move forward what will be the impact of "loss of economy" of scale. For instance, Electric companies are competitive and successful because they have large number of customers so their power generation is economical for the investment in their power plants. Now that they have the power plants, what happens if due to the continuing economic decline, people start consuming less. If a power company lost 10% of it's base customers, would they loss profitability? If the loss of customers and decreasing profits forced them to increase their rates, would that drive away more customers? What would be the minimum load they could operate at and still stay in business? Could such negative feedback loops reinforce decline so that the Networked systems could/would fail in ways we are not envisioning? Just some thoughts,



entities can and do co-evolve with their systems to the point of only being able to exist at roughly the evolved scale, and this will be a big factor going forward.

For instance, my medical plan is an HMO which has leveraged itself to the hilt buying office buildings based on a constantly expanding number of paid members over the coming 30 years. I expect it to be bankrupt and dissolved in five; Hawaii's economy is based on cheap jet tourism.

You see the same thing in fisheries collapses and other natural systems.

Remember too, that these organizations have debt, and the debt payments generally don't go down, even as the amount of electricity used goes down. So this makes the situation even worse.

Quote from that article :

"And Saudi Arabia was always a strange place to start with peak oil: even if we believed peak oil protagonists’ contentions that Saudi reserves are overstated by half, the country would still be pumping less than 3 per cent of its reserves annually."

Well, even with just linear math a annual decline of "just" 3 percent that would mean a decline of 30 percent of reserves in a decade. The question isn't one of apocalypse, but how to prepare for the real increases in oil price that are coming soon.

There's a nice and thoughtful piece by Paul Kingsnorth (of Dark Mountain Project) over at EB, called Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist:

Now that price is being paid. The weird and unintentional pincer-movement of the failed left, with its class analysis of waterfalls and fresh air, and the managerial, carbon-über-alles brigade has infiltrated, ironed out and reworked environmentalism for its own ends. Now it is not about the ridiculous beauty of coral, the mist over the fields at dawn. It is not about ecocentrism. It is not about reforging a connection between over-civilised people and the world outside their windows. It is not about living close to the land or valuing the world for the sake of the world. It is not about attacking the self-absorbed conceits of the bubble that our civilisation has become.

Today’s environmentalism is about people. It is a consolation prize for a gaggle of washed-up Trots and at the same time, with an amusing irony, it is an adjunct to hyper-capitalism; the catalytic converter on the silver SUV of the global economy. It is an engineering challenge; a problem-solving device for people to whom the sight of a wild Pennine hilltop on a clear winter day brings not feelings of transcendence but thoughts about the wasted potential for renewable energy. It is about saving civilisation from the results of its own actions; a desperate attempt to prevent Gaia from hiccupping and wiping out our coffee shops and broadband connections. It is our last hope.


Kingsnorth has captured some essential points about today's environmentalism. And this essay is also an interesting story about his personal development.

Just about every environmental group (Sierra Club, Audubon, etc...) that sends me stuff in the mail asking for money is trying to protect the flora and fauna by buying nature preserves. I have no idea what environmental groups you are describing.

I don't think he is referring to any group, but to society's collective attitude.

If you don't want to find out, make sure not to have a look at the original (and very long) essay. Instead read anything that may strike your fancy into the two paragraphs I posted from the original and then proceed to dismiss my description, which doesn't exist.

Just stopped by the Sierra Club and Audubon websites out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

I found nothing at the Sierra Club regarding population and thereby have to conclude that joining that organization is a total and utter waste of time and money. It seems as though this battle has been fought before and the know-nothing politically correct leftists who want free everything for 10 billion humans won out.

I do have to give props to Audubon for mentioning population and their organization seems more intelligent and deserving of support.

You certainly didn't try very hard. Googling "sierra club population" gives this as the top site:


Of course if you just want to ignorantly bash hundred year old organizations you know nothing about but for some reason don't like, don't let me stop you.


The whole 'Let's target the greens because some of them are Country-club elitists' is pretty tired.. but they must have fun shooting at fish in a barrel, crazy kids!

I do get really tired of their Glossy Brochures and Calendars Idolizing "BEAUTY".. and the screwy politicing of the big money groups, but hey, that might actually be the influence of the money and the money-culture. What are the odds?

I stand corrected.

Still, didn't seem to be as prominently displayed on the main page - which is curious, considering it's the number one issue affecting the environment.

Also, it seems the Sierra Club purged the organization of those who were against current levels of immigration to the U.S., which suggests political correctness run amok.

An organization's age alone doesn't grant it relevancy - though I'll admit the survival of the Sierra Club and the support it engenders suggests something of value.

Thanks, Jussi for posting this. It's truly brilliant.

I read the entire article. On at least one level, I understand what he is talking about. It is easy to get further and further from actual nature, especially if, maybe, you are working for an environmental group in San Francisco or Washington, D.C. At the end of the day, however, too much carbon will kill most of us, including, first, the nature we love so dearly. It would be nice if we could be pure and protect all the mountain tops not only from coal but from wind generators. Yes, it is a shame that we must use alternative technology which has many of the ugly features of existing technology. I live surrounded by nature and am deeply saddened by its loss. Short of a sudden, massive multi billion people dieoff, I don't see how we go forward without using technology.

The author weeps at the changes to the environment he is seeing but offers no solutions.

On an individual level, I said decades ago that the best environmental approach is suicide, preferably mass suicide. I guess in some ways that is what we have chosen. Or is it ecocide for future generations of plants, animals, and people.

Carbon is still the preeminent environmental problem because it will destroy whole ecosystems regardless of what the author says.

I can still feel transcendance being on a mountain top, but also recognize that coal will mean less mountain tops in places like West Virginia.

I could accept his attitude if he is living on very very little so is not actively participating in the holocaust more than need be.

Even now, I don't think mass suicide is necessary--though lightening the cultures heavily negative view of this option would be valuable for many reasons. But everyone has to stop over-consuming and procreating--like a few decades ago, but any time now would be nice. We need to look as avidly for ways to limit ourselves as we have up to now sought ways to expand our reach.
We need to walk away from a culture of greed and growth.
Walk away from ff extraction and use.
Walk away from traditional economics and corporations and profit.
Walk away from war and "development."

Most of what we have to do is walk away. If everyone followed Kingsworth in his walk, we would likely be headed in the right direction (unless he is walking to the nearest airport to fly off to some "pristine" place to recover his special feeling, that is).

I liked this part--"Like all of us, I am a footsoldier of empire. It is the empire of Homo sapiens sapiens and it stretches from Tasmania to Baffin Island. Like all empires it is built on expropriation and exploitation, and like all empires it dresses these things up in the language of morality and duty. When we turn wilderness over to agriculture we speak of our duty to feed the poor. When we industrialise the wild places we speak of our duty to stop the climate from changing. When we spear whales we speak of our duty to science. When we raze forests we speak of our duty to develop. We alter the atmospheric makeup of the entire world: half of us pretends it’s not happening, the other half immediately starts looking for new machines that will reverse it. This is how empires work, particularly when they have started to decay. Denial, displacement, anger, fear."

I have deep sympathies with those wanting to step back and ask deep questions. They generally eventually provide the clearest guide for future priorities. Think Thoreau retiring to his cabin.

I actually think his general stance is not necessarily at odds with activism. You can work zealously to block the building of a new coal plant both because it's going to add to GW and because it's just damn ugly.

I think our enthusiasm for alternative energies can make us forget just how much we have to reduce--can, but need not.

I read the whole piece and to me it is the story of a quitter, who claims to have grown up, and then says "I withdraw".

Certainly environmentalism has been co-opted and any realistic, mature person would expect that to occur. Pining for the simplicity felt by a teen-age "angry young man" at the old age of 37 sounds a little ridiculous. Recognizing that solutions to problems are complex and often cause their own problems does not absolve us of the responsibility to try to fix problems, at any level personal, local, or political.

If he believes that renewable energy is not a real solution to environmental problems, then working for zero or negative population growth, or to reduce consumption, or to increase energy efficiency, or to improve bicycle/ped/transit transportations are all possible solutions to the problem he seems to feel so deeply.

But simply to "withdraw" will not fix any problems and I think is ultimately unlikely to make the author happy. His whole article has the feel of a tantrum to me, "Waaahh, Waaah, the world is not as I desire it to be, Therefore I Withdraw!!"

One thing that I don't understand about people like the author is why they reserve their criticism for those trying to fix the problem (often volunteers working at great personal cost) while they ignore those who perpetuate the problem, usually for great personal gain. The little old ladies stuffing envelopes for the Sierra Club are not the problem, but the corporate profiteers at BP, Northrop, Halliburton are actively profiting from and politicking for the destruction of the environment. His attack on his erstwhile allies reminds me of the old adage about the circular firing squad, especially as he plans to run away and withdraw after firing his critical salvo.

Sierra Club is not the problem. They are conservationists. And the ethos and sensibility of founder, John Muir, is close in some ways to Kingsnorth.

Kingsnorth is a European. And Europe doesn't have organizations that have preserved very large tracts of wilderness for obvious reasons.

Prophets need to withdraw into the desert. John the Baptist, Jesus etc.

What we need is a major psychological and spiritual shift like what happened at the beginning of the middle ages. This isn't going to be solved with bike lanes and birth control.

But it will come. It some quarters the pressure is so intense you can watch people heads exploding. All good. It's what we need. Tick tick tick.....

Yes, presumably tv doesn't see any value in the experiences and writings of Thoreau, Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire), Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) and the many others who took some time to withdraw to get a deeper perspective. Even John Muir, perhaps the most important concervationist in the history of the US (founder of the Sierra Club) went off by himself to take a "Thousand Mile Walk to the Sea."

I think there are any number of right paths, but just one wrong one--buying into the paradigm of limitless growth and endless consumption.

Uh, then perhaps:

"If the Prophet will not go to the Desert, then the Desert (via global warming and climate change) will come to Him."


I propose rationalism. Believe in that which does not require belief.

Unfortunately that is a stretch for many people who require their romantic notions and seem to be overwhelmed by a reality that simply does not care about them.

Yes, a long story with a final defeat. I too have similar thoughts, having belonged to the Sierra Club decades ago, only to follow David Brower when he quit to form Friends of the Earth. After effort devoted to several political campaigns, I too learned that there's little chance that a majority of the public will understand and/or accept the ideas of sustainable economics. This is especially so with our present media, which bombards us with continual appeals to buy, buy, buy.

The young eco-rebel is a rare breed, a person who may not have easily fit into the social order of childhood. Most of us in the US are brought up within the economic system and as we leave school, we find we must work to pay for food, clothing and for a roof over our heads, at the very least. People in cities do not (indeed CAN NOT) feel the beauty of the natural world (what little is left), or the pain which results far away from their actions. When the media speaks to the average person about "sustainable development" or, more likely, "sustainable growth", they have no context within which to assess the truths behind these statements. As a result, the so-called "environmental movement" in the US must some how inform and educate the public about the basic problems, while at the same time the money interests are able to spend orders of magnitude more money influencing the politicians. Peak Oil and Climate Change are just two problems which are being buried under an avalanche of propaganda. I gather the situation in Britain (and Europe) is different, since those countries have been settled for millennium.

I see no reason to be optimistic about the situation. After years of effort at great personal cost with no discernible effect, I too feel numb. People won't change until they are forced to, either by immediate circumstances or by external coercion, especially if the changes result in a lower living standard. As I am growing old, I can do little more than sit back and watch the collision between mankind's economic system and nature, knowing that, as the character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us". I just hope I can keep walking to the mailboxes and back (2 1/2 miles) a little longer while perhaps influencing things thru the Net...

E. Swanson

I read a good line today E.Swanson..

"Almost anything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."
- Gandhi

Just us and our Teaspoons! (Pete Seeger)

There is a fundamental conflict between our individual freedom in the present to acquire, possess, consume, move about, and reproduce on the one hand and our collective responsibility leave a livable world to future generations on the other.

I'm inclined to believe that individual freedom will win out. The best that can be hoped for is a future world that resembles a Japanese garden -- it looks natural, but it is really the result of careful design and artifice.

For the true environmentalist a complete collapse of civilization is the perfect scenario.


Make your case.

This sounds like a stereotype to me, and one more applicable to doomers than to greens.

A quick collapse will mean a return to pre-industrial economies and lifestyles and a massive reduction in human population numbers. This in itself will allow the environment to recover fairly quickly, especially the oceans where pre-industrial human activity has almost no effect. Because we have already removed the easy energy from the environment it is unlikely that we will ever be able to return to our large numbers made possible by cheap energy and creating a sustainable civilization will be our only option.

A slow collapse will be much worse for the environment because then we will use every bit of available energy to keep our civilization going as long as possible. In this way we will cause much greater harm to the environment as we burn every bit of coal we can find and eventually burn every scrap of wood we can find. The environment will take much longer to recover, as will the human race, if indeed it ever does.


Human-electric hybrid car expected next year (w/ Video)

A human-electric hybrid vehicle, the "Imagine PS," capable of 100 kph (60 mph) on the flat and 50 kph uphill, is expected to be commercially available next year.

The hand-cranked low mass vehicle (LMV) was developed by engineer Professor Charles Samuel Greenwood, who has been working on human-powered vehicles for over four decades, and has now developed a street legal sedan version carrying four people. If the four people are all cranking, the vehicle can run solely on human power, but it is also an electric plug-in. The chassis can be adapted to different styles and different types of batteries and future technologies without needing to replace the car.

For some strange reason this got me thinking of Fred Flintstone.

Maybe like this ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSwig1tgUtY

actually this hybrid has pedals ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPCROy-H97A

Electic assist pedal cars have been available in the UK for a decade or more. I saw one last month.

Can't find the relevant web page just at the moment.... ahhh www.twike.co.uk

If I remember correctly, even a Tour De France cyclist can only sustain an output of about 400watts. Wikipedia has a more detailed set of powers (of course):

"Amateur bicycle racers can typically produce 3 watts/kg for more than an hour (e.g., around 210 watts for a 70 kg rider), with top amateurs producing 5 W/kg and elite athletes achieving 6 W/kg for similar lengths of time."


Two standard crystalline solar panels would provide that, with shade as an added benefit.


Yes, solar cells are an obvious complement to this, and the higher efficiency-trends are important for many vehicle-augment applications.
Can't really make a car bigger, but we can drive up the efficiency.

What will limit these vehicles, is not Engineering, or solar add-ons, but the boring fundamentals of regulatory red tape.

If it looks like a car, then it needs air bags, and crash testing, and many added-kg of occupant protection.

NEVs looked like a good candidate to fill that niche, until many gov'ts mandated a top speed of 25mph (like california), so they did not become widely adopted.

It is my understanding other States were more progressive, and upped the speed to 35mph, so maybe those states had better adoption rates.


For some strange reason this got me thinking of Fred Flintstone.

Hehe, yes, but it is nifty - gives a whole new meaning to
"Pulling your weight! " when out and about.

Early test devices showed that bicycle style mechanisms would not provide a full-body workout, so the design shifted to rowing-like movements.Early test devices showed that bicycle style mechanisms would not provide a full-body workout, so the design shifted to rowing-like movements.

and I notice you can't really easily crank-and-steer at the same time.

You could sell these a 'Gym'n'Drive', where you promote a 30 minute workout, earning you the right to drive to the mall to buy that tub of ice-cream.

Interesting article about how poor nutrition leads to arthritis...in moose and men.

For people, several historical cases may suggest a nutritional link. Bones of 16th-century American Indians in Florida and Georgia showed significant increases in osteoarthritis after Spanish missionaries arrived and tribes adopted farming, increasing their workload but also shifting their diet from fish and wild plants to corn, which “lacks a couple of essential amino acids and is iron deficient,” said Clark Larsen, an Ohio State University anthropologist collaborating with Dr. Peterson. Many children and young adults were smaller and died earlier, Dr. Larsen said, and similar patterns occurred when an earlier American Indian population in the Midwest began farming maize.

The adoption of agriculture, with its emphasis on growing a small number of high-yielding and tractable species, typically resulted in less healthy populations.

From the Archives
Cuba Seizes Last 2 West Oil Refineries
The Milwaukee Sentinel - Jul 2, 1960

HAVANA, July 1 (AP) Premier Castro Friday took over the last two foreign-owned oil refineries in Cuba and with them the problem of supplying his country with oil from distant fields in the Soviet Union.

He seized the Esso Standard Oil and the Shell Oil refineries under resolutions accusing both firms of violating a 1938 law by refusing to process state-owned crude he obtained in a sugar-for-oil deal with Moscow.

The action immediately ended all normal imports of Western oil—except for a trickle of finished products, and raised prospects of an oil famine unless means are found to expand by at least four times the flow of Soviet crude.

The same trading of sugar for oil lasted all through the reign of the USSR.


'Dwindling Fossil Fuels and Our Food System' (article from above)

Since 1981, the quantity of oil extracted from the earth has exceeded new oil discoveries by an ever-widening margin. In 2008, the world pumped 31 billion barrels of oil, but discovered fewer than 9 billion new barrels. World reserves of conventional oil are in a free fall, decreasing every year.

Our answer to the question of how we can end world hunger has thus far been to focus on increases in agricultural technology. These advances, unfortunately, require even more fuel.

Fertilizer production accounts for 20 percent of energy use on U.S. farms, and the demand for this fertilizer continues to climb.

Sustainable farming alone cannot solve this problem. The amount of energy used to transfer goods from farmer to consumer equals two-thirds of the total amount of energy used to grow it on the farm

Fresh produce routinely travels long distances, such as from California to the East Coast. Most of this produce moves on refrigerated trucks.

But more recently, fresh fruits and vegetables have begun to travel vast distances by air; few activities are more energy-intensive.

With higher energy prices and a limited supply of fossil fuels, the modern food system that evolved while oil has been cheap clearly cannot survive as it is currently structured.

There is no apparent way to transition to less intensive FF reliant agriculture to sustain the population. So what happens when there is 4-5 billion people's worth of food for 7+ billion?

More signs of climate change - diseases on the move.

"Dengue fever increases in Florida" - CNN

"The number of dengue fever cases, a mosquito-borne disease that can cause mild to serious symptoms and even death, has increased this month, according to the Florida Department of Health.

While dengue fever has not caused any deaths in Florida this year, health officials asked residents to take precautions such as wearing protective clothing, using mosquito repellents and draining still water near the home, like the water in bird baths, to prevent the pests from breeding.

Dengue fever is common in the tropics and can cause symptoms like high fever, rash, severe bleeding and even death. The recent outbreak in Florida has puzzled local health authorities, who say the last outbreak occurred in 1934."


Link up top:Peak oil theory has peaked and there is no apocalypse now.

Regardless of you 'feel' about it, science and Hollywood shows the blueprint. You fix what you 'think' is broke and you do a version 2.0. Peak Oil: Apocalypse Now Redux - The Global Warming Threat maybe? Too many words, I will work on it.

Apocalypse Now Redux is an extended version of the 1979 epic war film Apocalypse Now. Unlike other new cuts of the film, Redux is usually considered by fans and critics, as well as director Coppola, as a completely new movie altogether. The movie adds 49 minutes of all-new material, and represents a significant re-edit of the original Apocalypse Now. The movie came into production when Coppola concluded that his original cut was tame by today's standards. Coppola, along with editor/long-time collaborator Walter Murch, then added several scenes that enhanced the surrealism in the original story. The extended version of the film was distributed by Paramount Pictures in the US and Miramax Films overseas, whilst the original cut was distributed by United Artists.


More macabre entertainment from the alternate universe of politics :-

Opposition candidate for Governor in Wisconsin vows to stop extension of the Amtrak Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Madison saying :-

"Public support for the Madison-Milwaukee train has fallen to just 41% as weary taxpayers watch our roads and bridges crumble without sufficient funds to repair them."


The other side from Midwest High Speed Rail Association :-

"Despite record ridership and federal investments, Wisconsin's passenger trains are at risk."


What is ridership on the Badger Bus like? At $20 for a one-way ticket. $810 million is a lot of $20 tickets.

Why is there no bus service between the Amtrak station at Columbus, WI, which has an Empire Builder stop, and Madison destinations? No demand?

Because the politicians use government limos silly.

For Los Angeles, seems for July 2010:
MTA bus ridership is down about 10% as compared to July 2008.
Red line down, but only about 2.5% as compared to July 2008.
Gold line (the one I use most often, and also just recently opened an extension) is up about 20%

Overall, suprisingly ridership is down overall as compared to two years ago. I can only speculate that people went back to their cars, or they are so 'out of work' that they reduced commuting in all aspects. Oh, or maybe more are vacationing this year, so not around to ride?


American Public Transport Association Statistics Documents.

Quarterly statistics for Q1 of 2010 seem just a little bit down from the year before. Probably reflects continued unemployment, especially among lower income groups who don't have cars.

Big fare increase by the MTA on July 1.
(Now if they'd put in ticket gates when they opened the Red/Purple Line, they'd be in a lot better shape. It took them fifteen years to install an actual fare collection system, and it's easily evaded; the trolley lines aren't any better.)

Yep. From US$5/day pass to US$6/day pass, and I pay it.

The sherrifs do random checks by boarding the trains, and at station exits, so not too worried about shirkers (there will always be those that exploit any system).

Around The World In 80 Days With Zero Emissions

Four electric vehicles powered solely by renewable energy offsets departed from Geneva today on an 80-day race around the world. Though they’re sure to encounter adventure, this trip is less about Jules Verne and more about joules and volts...Because the teams will likely be plugging in to outlets fed by coal-fired power plants, each team has arranged a sponsorship with a sustainable energy producer who offsets the dirty electricity with a cleaner alternative. For instance, the South Korean team is greened-over by a set of solar panels 200 miles south of Seoul, while windmills turn in Australia to offset Team Trev.

Ah - offsets. They must have a really high ERoEI. Can I get some to burn in my wood stove?

Sounds like b.s. to me. No doubt offsets will save us.

Re the Reuters article on the potential of wave power on Australia's Southern coast.

Sure,it is bleeding obvious that there is heaps of energy there.What is not so obvious is just how do we harness this energy reliably and at a reasonable cost.Placing metal contraptions in the extremely corrosive sea water environment and on one of the stormiest coastlines in the world would strike me as being a huge challenge in itself.Making these contraptions work,year in,year out is another story altogether.

This is just another example of flirting with the fairies at the bottom of the garden.

500MW out of 10,000 on hot day in Texas.

During heat wave in Ontario in July (which would qualify as a moderately hot day in Texas), the Ontario's wind turbines were running at 1% capacity.

I expect that in the end we will be very dxxxxd glad that those same turbines run on the average at thirty five or forty percent of name plate.

In the middle term, which is as long as most of ue reading this tonight will live,the issue is not going to be replacing gas and coal fired plants.

The issue is going to be conserving as much fuel as possible so existing generating plants can be kept running a little longer when the supply of ng and coal gets iffy.

We're literally gonna run out of (natural) gas one of these days, and all those lovely gas fired plants and transmission lines are going to be worth next to nothing-unless we can convert them to coal.THAT might be quite a job-coal is not easily delivered thru pipelines, and coal itself is depleting faster than most of us realize-it won't stay cheap-it's not cheap now when the delivery and cleanup charges are taken in to account.

Since hot days are usually sunny...

Makes me wonder why they didn't install a few GW of solar instead. Hopefully now they will.

Can someone help me with confusion over Thermogenic Oil. I recently got a teaser from an investment advisory newsletter claiming new discoveries of undiscovered Thermogenic Oil. Checking Google, it seemed that this isn't anything new. Can anybody help clear this up? If this is indeed new, it would mess up present theories of Peak Oil.

I would recommend looking up the Dispersive Discovery and Oil Shock models. The first has to do with the anticipated volume of possible future discoveries and the latter has to do with how the production trajectory will likely transpire.

Thermogenic oil is one of the conventional processes for the formation of petroleum. It really does not help too much to understand the "mechanisms" for formation of oil, as the real understanding is almost completely based on the Bayesian probability and statistics of our discovery and production history. Researchers in ecological modeling are slowly going toward this trend as well, using statistical patterns instead of trying to deduce the mechanisms for processes such as species diversity. See this paper "Mechanisms in macroecology: AWOL or purloined letter? Towards a pragmatic view of mechanism" http://sev.lternet.edu/~jnekola/nekola%20pdf/oikos-119-591-603.pdf

With regards to the first critique, we ask why random processes that produce pattern should not be considered a type of mechanism? It is interesting to note that stochastic thinking has been taking an increasingly prominent role in ecology, first as noise on a deterministic skeleton (Ludwig 1975, Cushing et al. 1998), and now increasingly as the source of pattern itself (perhaps beginning with MacArthur and Wilson 1967, and reaching a peak with Hubbell 2001). But this has been resisted every step of the way (Clark 2008). We think this bias against stochastic models may be partly driven by adopting the sense of mechanism used by our cousins in biology, molecular and cell biologists, where mechanism is quite explicit, concrete and deterministic – this protein bumps into that protein causing a conformation change and exposing an enzymatic site. But physics has seen a progression from deterministic laws such as those of Newton and Maxwell to stochastic techniques and laws such as those of quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics. Now as molecular and cellular biologists have begun scaling up into systems biology, stochastic models are of increasing importance. Why should ecology be any different? Perhaps the increasing incorporation of stochasticity is a sign of disciplinary maturity. We thus see stochastic models as being just another class of models that should be judged on their ability to elucidate our understanding of the world and to make novel predictions.

Same thing goes for geologists. Time for them to move aside and let the mathematicians figure out how much oil we have left. :)

Web - I agree. OTOH knowing how much oil is left isn't of much value if you can't find it. And that's why the world has to put up with us silly rock lickers. LOL. Just like "undiscovered" thermogenic oil: difficult to refine oil you haven't diiscovered even if it does exist.

Rockman, of course there are two aspects to this: the practical and the informative. In terms of ecological modeling, we have no real practical reason to understand species diversity yet we want to understand it for the intellectual reward. Yet it may have some side benefits in that we can perhaps gain some knowledge of how fast adaptations can occur -- which may on the off chance help us figure out how to get out of our pickle, i.e. how to adapt or resign to a struggle.

By the same token, understanding how much oil we have left does have built in to it a real intellectual challenge. But it certainly is not amenable to any conventional problem-solving approaches.

OTOH knowing how much oil is left isn't of much value if you can't find it.

Those studying species diversity have the same problem. It is hard to count the rarest of rare species, but then again it doesn't matter since those are far off in the tails of the relative species abundance profile. By the same token, small reservoirs are in the tails of the reservoir sizing curves. If you can't find these, it really doesn't matter. This is a significant hypothesis of mine that no one has really discussed, and it is based on detail modeling and the same plots (Preston and Whittaker) that are used for ecological modeling.

The fact that the rarest species are far off in the abundance tails doesn't mean that they might not be critically important to the stability of the ecosystem, locally or region wide or possibly even world wide.

The cholera microbe is devilishly hard to find in places like the east coast of the US when cholera cases are absent, but whenever conditions are right, the disease puts in an appearance.

If this microbe did not cause a serious disease, it might not yet have a name.

There are probably cases where an as yet unknown species is keeping some at present minor pest of a major crop under control;loss of the unknown species might result in a serious problem.

The loss of a pollinating insect species might take out a key species of tree in some cases.

Biological problems or systems are probably highly amenable to your particular methods but more care will be necessary in drawing conclusions than if you are looking at mineral extraction problems.

For oil, all that matters is the cumulative volume. Next time, you should take care in drawing conclusions as I am inferring on the extraction problem.

Well, then it is a double-con because by definition thermogenic oil is also what we consider conventional:

When temperatures of the organic-rich sedimentary rocks exceed 120o C (250o F) the organic remains within the rocks begin to be "cooked" and oil and natural gas are formed from the organic remains and expelled from the source rock. It takes millions of years for these source rocks to be buried deeply enough to attain these maturation temperatures and additional millions of years to cook (or generate) sufficient volumes of oil and natural gas to form commercial accumulations as the oil and gas are expelled from the source rock into adjacent reservoir rocks. Oil and gas formed in this manner are referred to as thermogenic oil and gas.

Ronald F. Broadhead, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Ron P
You're very right. I found the answer on Stock Gumshoe later last night. It was creative misapplication PR to rename geothermal power so they could claim some new energy source that nobody but they knew.


Sometime it seems like you just can't win.
In the article "The upsides and down sides of hydroelectric dams" they never mentioned...
"Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels."

I wonder if this source is usable as fuel? I imagine we are talking quite a few yards of the stuff. Brazilians are none to bad in figuring this stuff out. Sometimes you have to find ways to win when you were going to lose. Adaptability. We can fix things. I still say dams have a place in our world. Even with free limitless energy and agriculture anywhere with minimal resources, also 'create' more desirable living locations. I think Tahoe is a plus. I am sure it has its own minuses too. Maybe we should all live on the flatlands in minimal biodomes. Surely that would suck too. Maybe we are very spoiled here in the US. Communist apartment anyone?

Edit: from another post that should be in drumbeat IMHO

I have one for all. It concerns my energy usage and a strive to always reduce. I live alone and my refrigerator (comes with the lease) is usually mostly empty. Would placing blocks of foam or water in the refrigerator reduce the energy used in some significant way? The foam would reduce internally cooled area and the water can store the 'cold' inside the unit for when I open the door. I am very curious what the answers are on this one.
[-] jjhman on August 17, 2010 - 8:44pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top
Just a guess (by a retired engineer) but if you don't open the door very often it probably won't matter at all what, if anything, is in there. If you open the door a lot the wafting of air in-and-out will cause the compressor to start up to cool the air. In that case it would probably be worthwhile to put something in there with some heat capacity to stabilize the temperature when the door is opened and closed. The foam blocks may help keep the air from moving in and out.

I thought that thermodymanic laws would dictate that any 'absence of heat' would have to have the same or a greater amount removed to restore the system (temperature) back to its previous state. How about ducting the exhaust of the fridge outside based upon ambient temperatures and target temperatures?

Adding warm items does require additional cooling work. Other than that there is some load based on air movement when the door is opened. Imagine the cooler, denser, air "falling out" of the door when it is opened. That is the only added load when you remove an item. You are right that if you are going to cool the air back to the same temperature you need to do an amount of work equivalent to the difference between the mass of the displaced air and the temperature difference.

Adding the cold mass only helps directly by reducing the amount of air that is exchanged. I was thinking there might be a secondary effect based on the shorter recovery time but now I'm not so sure.

Ducting the condenser outside is good for the temperature inside the house and, to a lesser extent, the efficiency of the refrigerator.

Trust me, I have an engineering background and simple things are always not so. I once had a professor tell me to warm up a room leave the fridge open. You would add heat in the amount of the refrigerator's efficiency, less the efficiency of the compressor's cooling system. It is an interesting question and I sure you are an awesome engineer. That is another area where scientist are different. Engineers can never be 'wrong' (or folks die, right), they just find the less than optimal solution. Scientists are often wrong, as long as they use the data for finding the 'right' answer, it is still a win. Either one that dares to answer what might be a setup (it is not), has some of the positive characteristics of both.

With the refrigerator at thermal equilibrium, either with or without the door open, the warming will be identically equal to the power consumption. Your prof was right, you can use your frig as a resistance heater. Obviously there are better ways to heat a room!

A couple of comments related to the PRACTICAL management of refrigerators and freezers:

There are some out there which are prone to failure if located outdoors or in unheated buildings where they are exposed to subfreezing temperatures.

I am not exactly why this happens, but it is related to the cycling of the self defrosting mechanisms built into them;I suppose the melt water freezes up rather than draining properly to the evaporator pan or something along those lines.

Consult owners manuals or risk loss of freezer full of food unnecessarily.


Yes, self defrost will make the unit be un-practical. Ice forming where you don't design for has a nasty habit of destroying stuff.

But even non self-defrost units have problems with the refrigerent. Freon will migrate to the coldest spot in the refrigerent plumbing. The coldest spot condenses the refrigerent while the warmer spot evaporates the refrigerent. After sitting in an area with exterior temps below the units interior temp, the refrigerent about to enter the compressor will be a liquid which makes for an unhappy compressor on startup. Startup may not occur under these conditions until you add something warm (a six pack?) to the unit. Thermal overload switches can reduce the problem of quick cycling a compressor, but fail almost continously on liquid ingestion (when the compressor finally gets hot enough from stalled power consumption, it may run; but electrical winding insulation is compromised each time this occurs).

BTW, air based heat pumps avoid this problem by running an electric strip heater placed around the compressor sump and sometimes insulating the compressor. Consumes power 24/7 but is most likely temperature controlled.


Compressors are capacitor start, high energy consumption during startup. Adding a thermal mass to the refrigerator will cause the unit to run less frequently (fewer startups) but run for a longer period. Startup power consumption is thus reduced.

But when you need the room that the thermal mass is occuping, you have probably lost all the advantage.

Buying the smallest and most efficient unit for your needs is most likely the best bet. Smallest may mean that the exterior dimension still fits your physical space (between kitchen cabinets for example) but a smaller interior for better insulation. Sellers always tout the interior space, probably more so than the efficiency. Space just looks better to the average buyer; efficiency is just a $ sign.

Through-the-door water and ice, if you deem them necessary, reduces the energy wasteing door openings. Has anyone read the energy pros and cons on ice and cold water?

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels

It is very site dependent. Some are very green, from an emissions standpoint, and some are losers. There is also run of river hydro, and low head hydro. The later flood little to know land, but won't allow for storing water until you have the demand for electricity. So large hydro can be used for load balancing. The more environmentally friendly sorts generally can produce according to the current flow rates.

Yes, but I thought US hydro capacity was negatively impacted by water demands, and those demands keep increasing with no increase in supply.

Some interesting news links:

Cryptic announcement of promising new battery technology ready for initial fielding in five years (always in 5 years...):


Some folks trying to make hay about a very small amount of paved roads being reverted to gravel:


Is government safety testing of Gulf sea food adequate?


Never a dull moment...

I thought a capacitor was the more promising science in 'battery' technology?

Yep, TFHG, but they can be dangerous. Instant charge, but also instant discharge. I've had a few bad experiences with them when my loose tools discharged them, as in tool was vaporized(and it sounded like a thunderclap). Don't leave a screwdriver on the edge of an open casing with capacitors in it before discharging them. Good new tech, but can it be safe?
Even cell phone batteries can still catch fire and explode if not made well. I guess any dense energy device must be dangerous.

Capacitors tend to be a little leaky and much less energy dense. When they are packed more densely they also tend to become fragile.

On my computer boards, first failure is usually capacitors. But these are cheap boards. TFHG was talking about an new layered capacitor tech, it sounds good but many worry about how robust it is. Can it take the vibration of everyday use?

This would be the point to mention the 'capacitor plague' (industrial esponiage with a stolen electrolytic formula) or the mythical EESTOR.

If you see a 'new' capacitor leaking - look to see if the design bastards cheaped out and didn't stick a tantalium bypass cap in the circuit.

The U.S. should stop wasting billions to subsidize unreliable wind energy projects

Sure. Why not.

How's that 'smoke out Osama' project going?
How about that War on poverty?
How's the war on cancer?
Hey, how's the audit of the $2+ trillion the Pentagon announced on Sept 10th 2001 going?

I'm all for looking after the splinters. How's that mote removal coming?