Drumbeat: August 28, 2010

A new US oil rush could rock OPEC

It contains hundreds of billions of barrels of light crude oil and thousands of wells and should be scaring the pants off any oil exporter needing high crude prices to balance its budget.

It is the Bakken Shale oilfield, which sprawls across two Canadian prairie provinces and two western US states including North Dakota, under 500,000 square kilometres of land.

Its US portion is described as the country’s largest oil deposit outside Alaska. With its biggest and most accessible part in Canada, the Bakken could prove to be one of the largest oilfields in the world.

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists says it is the biggest continuous oil accumulation it has ever assessed.

PetroChina Vows Global Expansion as Price Controls Curb Profit

PetroChina Co., Asia’s biggest company by market value, pledged to step up acquisitions and boost cooperation with global oil companies after profit growth slumped because of state controls on fuel prices at home.

“PetroChina will continue to expand globally,” President Zhou Jiping said at an earnings briefing in Hong Kong yesterday. “We will boost profitability at existing projects and seek new opportunities around existing ventures in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific.”

How the Media Covered the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

The oil spill was by far the dominant story in the mainstream news media in the 100-day period after the explosion, accounting for 22% of the newshole -- almost double the next biggest story. In the 14 full weeks included in this study, the disaster finished among the top three weekly stories 14 times. And it registered as the No. 1 story in nine of those weeks.

Like it or not, tolling may be the future for highway funding

With a scarcity of federal dollars forecast for transportation, tolling roadways may be the best option for having ready cash to maintain the many miles of highways in the Philadelphia region.

Montgomery County planner Leo Bagley said future transportation funding could drop from the current $500 million to about $300 million a year and leave the region in the lurch to pay for road and bridge maintenance.

Officials: Oil spill impact may last years

Though crews are expected to finish cleaning the Kalamazoo River by the end of September, the economic impact could be far-reaching.

Officials fear some of the crude oil, which could have seeped into the ground and out of sight, will continue to affect the river environment and the local economy for years to come.

Walking the Walk

The Italians have a word, arrangiarsi, which means the art of making do. It seems fitting that a culture with such a long and often disrupted history could turn a survival skill into an art form. Along with re-purposing, recycling, and repairing, one basic skill that fits the category is the saving and replanting of seeds.

Until the large scale development of hybridized and genetically modified plants, nearly everyone who planted saved their own seeds. These handed-down or “heirloom” seeds, tested in the laboratory of real world necessity, are in fact the backbone of agriculture. Unfortunately, large agribusiness interests, and corporations such as Monsanto are making it very difficult for farmers to do what they have always done.

What are the ingredients of a sustainable food system?

After a week of debate and discussion at the Oregon Sustainability Experience (OSE), a gentlemen approached with an answer I had long awaited. He leaned in and cut through the louder talk around the room. He said, “A friend of mine has a good definition of sustainability. He says, ‘Enough for everyone forever.’” Upon hearing those four words I could not help but smile. That’s it. That is the meaning of the word of a week devoted to exploring the value of sustainable agriculture. This small moment had brought meaning to all the places I had seen and the people I had met.

A Green Idea That Sounded Good Until the Trees Went to Work

Despite widespread recognition that choosing the trees was a mistake — in fact, the species is no longer planted except in certain areas — the city is fighting those who must deal with its ruinous effects. Property owners who ask to replace or remove the trees face a lengthy and expensive battle.

The Rare Earth Element Crisis

A Congressional Research Service report considers whether U.S. dependency on foreign sources of rare earth elements threatens the defense and technology industries.

1,000-Megawatt Plant in Calif. Marks New Milestone in Solar Expansion

Federal regulators are nearing final approval of what would be the largest solar power plant in the world, a milestone that sets a new standard for the industry and marks a major advancement in the Obama administration's efforts to expand renewable energy production nationwide.

It’s time to flick the switch

On a barren lake-bed in central Djibouti, engineers are preparing to drill deep into the earth in search of subterranean heat that could cut the country’s power bill by as much as two thirds.

Canadian firm really goes green with hemp car

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian developers are plotting a small revolution in the still-tiny market for electric cars, with a concept vehicle made from hemp set to debut at a specialised auto show next month.

The four-seat car, called the Kestrel, has an outer shell of a hemp-based composite, which developers say is lighter than glass fibre and more resilient than steel. It will debut at the EV (Electric Vehicles) tradeshow in Vancouver.

Fossil record hints at possible global warming surge

Brace yourself New Zealand, the oceans around us may are ready to deliver a giant belch which will speed up global warming in our area.

A study of the fossil record from oceans around New Zealand shows a sudden discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the end of the last ice age and scientists say it raises the possibility it could happen again as part of global warming.

Climate change: Will Russian heat wave prompt serious action from Moscow?

Will the heat wave and drought that have created so much havoc in Russia cause the leadership in that country to take climate change more seriously? The answer is important not only for Russia itself but for the world community. Russia is the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, behind only China and the United States.

Shoppers 'panic buying' old 75W bulbs before EU ban comes into force
Shoppers across Europe are panic buying the last remaining stocks of old fashioned 75W light bulbs before the traditional household items are banned in the EU next week.

Last year 100W incandescent light bulbs were outlawed, triggering the first wave of stockpiling by worried consumers who do not like the more expensive energy saving alternatives.

Now it will be an offence to import or manufacture 75W bulbs, although shops can continue to sell the model until stocks run out.


Veronique Skrotsky, a spokeswoman for General Electric Lighting’s French operations, said people do not like the energy saving alternatives.

She said compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which use a fifth of the energy needed for a conventional bulb, give off a sickly light.

“It’s clear that customers find the light they give off ugly, it’s really terrible,” she said.

See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/796824...

"Sickly", "ugly", "terrible"... I love how the spokesperson for one of the largest manufacturers of CFLs bashes the very products they sell.


And the only product that they will be allowed to sell shortly.

One way is to buy better quality CFLs, at more than $2/bulb. Two key measures are CRI (color rendering index, 80 to 82 is common for cheap bulbs) and color temperature (2700 K is most yellow and most common).

My vanity in the bathroom has three Ott-Lite bulbs. Very nice color rendition (CRI 93 from memory). $6 or $7 each from memory. Other good CRI products out there.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficient Good Quality Lights,


PS: For CFLs that are frequently turned on & off for short periods, such as closet lights, dimmable or cold cathode bulbs are best.

And the only product that they will be allowed to sell shortly.

Hi Alan,

Actually, for those who dislike CFLs and would prefer to stick with something more incandescent like, there's good news. Class D and E halogens will still be available until September 2015 and their Class C counterparts until September 2016 (Class C G9 and R7 lamps have been exempted from the ban). So that effectively leaves us with the Class B halogens. These are the ones with infrared reflective coatings and integrated low-voltage transformers such as the Philips EcoClassic 50 (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/gl_en/news/press/innovations/2008/home_e...).


And another way to cut energy usage by light bulbs is to turn on less light bulbs. One way to do this is to go to bed earlier. Another is to have a smaller house with less room that needs light. Our forefathers made do with candles. We could just turn on less lights.

..good points. And there are always Glass and Mirrors which can be combined in a range of interesting but simple plans to increase the practical daylight in a place, as well as to improve the performance of existing electric lights.

Absolutely right. A poorly oriented house can always reorient the flow of photons. I call it mirroring.

And then there is the solar tube, which I link to in another post. It is, of course, all about mirroring.

And then there is the solar tube

Those Solar Tubes are expensive, plus the risk of leaks cutting holes in your roof. I think a better choice is a 20W PV panel($129), and about 10 dimmable MR16's($7.50ea) wired direct(no batteries, no controller).

I have this basic setup for my kitchen now, and it works great even though I need more than the 2 bulbs I have now.

That's awesome. I've toyed with 'Direct PV Lighting', while I've got these sweet little Warm-White leds that I'd use, which draw maybe 3 watts each.

Look for > G4B-WHP10-DAC White LED Lamp

They cost more ($15), but I'm very satisfied with them for Task and Worklight purposes. Not shatterable, very slim and lightweight..

What are the wattage on your MR-16's? I've seen 5, 10, and 20 watt versions.. but I'm not sure you'd get 10 of any of them running on that panel.. anyway, still a great application. I would still make it more complicated, and switch over to battery charging or some other use when I didn't need the light.

Jokuhl, The ones I linked and currently use are 2 Watt. But looking some more I think these are a better choice. More Lumen per watt and $.

You just have to keep the total bulb wattage lower than the panel, and use dimmable AC/DC leds. I tried a 3W Cree(not dimmable) it flickered, flashed and didn't like the low voltages at dusk & dawn.

I noticed that these 2-watt MR16s supply 38 lumens (I take it that these are "cold lumens" as opposed to "hot" and initial rather than LM70). A 20-watt halogen-IR MR16 generates approximately 400 lumens, so you would need basically ten of these LED lamps to equal the brightness of a single 20-watt halogen-IR, and at two-watts a piece their combined wattage works out to be the same.


The MR16 9 SMT LED White is 127 Lumen at 2.6 watts, or 48 Lumen/watt.

I tried a H3 automotive driving light wired direct to an 80W panel(no battery, no controller) it did not work very well at all. My setup now 2/2w LEDs on a 12W panel is just a proof of concept test, and I am satisfied that it works to now spend $200 to enlarge.

The SMT LEDs as opposed to 5mm LEDs seem the way to go.

Nice jump up in lumen performance, Mister T. The higher wattage halogen-IR MR16s top out at roughly 25 lumens.


Any one have an economic source for MR16 or GU 10 or 24 light fixtures, tracks or sockets?
Seems choice is limited compared to Edison sockets.

Wire lead sockets for MR11/MR16 are $.25 each here.

Adapters from automotive sockets, and a MR 11 work great in RV interior lights.

Simply painting house interior white gives you the most lighting bang for the buck(euro). White interior walls or very close to white is common in Mediterranean areas and they look great!

I have seen too many houses with dark paint, drapes, etc. It does not make sense from an environmental standpoint.



Just as an addendum...

I bought my first CFL some twenty-seven years ago (and the heinous self-ballasted GE Circlines for several years prior to that) and we use them almost exclusively today, however, I'm still not thrilled with the quality of light provided (*). As mentioned in another Drumbeat, the desk lamp in my home office is fitted with a 40-watt Philips Halogená Energy Advantage lamp. This T60 lamp provides the same amount of light as a conventional 60-watt A19, but uses one-third less energy and lasts three times longer. It's fully dimmable and otherwise indistinguishable from an incandescent in all other respects. [This would be considered a Class C lamp under the EU rating scheme.]

Two of these lamps are shown below. The one on the left appears as it would normally and the one on the right has had its outer glass envelope removed, exposing the inner halogen capsule. This may be somewhat difficult to see, but you might notice a slight bluish tinge on the capsule wall. This is the IR-coating that reflects heat back to the filament thus allowing it to maintain its normal operating temperature with fewer watts (it works much like the low-e coatings on energy-efficient windows).

Newer generation IR coatings will hopefully bump up lumen efficacy in coming years. This and integrated low-voltage transformers which allow halogen lamps to operate at their optimum voltage should ensure that these incandescent-like light sources remain available to us for the foreseeable future.

Edit: Information on Osram's Eco Classic line of halogen replacements can be found at: http://www.osram.com/osram_com/Professionals/General_Lighting/Halogen_la... At this time, the Philip offering is slightly more efficient and lasts 50 per cent longer (three times longer in the case of the North American version), making it a better value overall.


(*) One of the issues I have with CFLs is that I dislike soft, diffuse light and prefer the sparkle and subtle shadow-generating effects of clear incandescents. Although I don't recommend this for safety reasons, I intentionally removed the outer glass envelope of this T60 because of its soft-white coating.

Are all the Philips and Osram halogens good? And all the Philips CFLs?

I've frustrated myself by buying bad CFLs -- slow warm-up, short-life, poor color -- and though I can readily get the color right the rest is still a crap-shoot for me.

I pretty much categorically avoid the multi-pack cheapos, as they seem to be perpetually inferior. Which are the "best" for overall warm-white residential use?

I have some clear-globe halogens for a vanity, and they are every bit as good as normal incans....but I can't seem to find them again. I'm uncertain that CFLs will pass the "wife test" for the vanity -- none so far have come close.

If there is a website that actually has unbiased bulb reviews and recommendations, I'd love to learn of it.

Hi Paleocon,

With respect to the two brands mentioned, for the most part I would say yes. Osram Sylvania recently introduced their "Living Spaces" line of CFLs that are reportedly richer in the reds (see: http://www.sylvania.com/ConsumerProducts/New+Products/LivingSpaces/). Likewise, GE offers a CFL version of their Reveal brand (see: http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/products/reveal_cfl.htm). I've read feedback from folks who claim they're vastly better than anything else out there and others who say they see no difference. I haven't tried either product, so I can't offer an opinion one way or the other.

As a general rule, I would avoid using CFLs in bathrooms where these lamps would be presumably turned on and off frequently and exposed to high humidity. If light quality is important, I would stick with a good quality halogen G25 (e.g., http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/browseliterature/download/p-8582.pdf). A 40-watt clear Philips Halogená has a nominal service life of 3,000 hours and supplies 500 lumens; that's twice the life of a conventional G25 incandescent and as an added bonus you'll receive roughly one-third more light.


Thanks, Paul. I think I'll go all halogen in the bathrooms. The ones I like appear to be GE bulbs, I believe, but I suspect others would be similar. CFL seems to work well for bedrooms and other general uses, and I'll hunt down those you recommend.

I have high hopes for the upcoming 13W/60W equiv Philips LED bulb for non-vanity bathroom, closet, and eventually bedroom lighting. The Evolux comes close, but I dislike the integral fan, and the lumens are little low and the pattern a little narrow compared to the 60W incans. I could deal with lower lumens and pattern issues by replacing fixtures (and that is reasonable, in my book), but I won't do that for a bulb with a fan.

I may go warm-white LED for some outdoor accent lighting as well. If I do that, it may be a custom solution though. I'm pretty happy with my custom creations to date.

I greatly appreciate the feedback from folks like yourself who have first-hand experience with this technology. I'm also looking forward to the introduction of this Philips lamp as I expect good things too. Philips, Osram Sylvania, Cree and GE have "street cred" and they provide published and reliable data. Anyone else, who knows?


I'm replacing my incandescents as they burn out. I find that if I have problem with a socket the lifetime of a CFL is very short. Incandescents seem to take such issues in stride. They will flicker a bit and then burn OK. As an electrician I'm a good computer programmer so this can cause problems. Watching me change a socket must be comical.

I replaced 90% of the incandescent bulbs in my house with CFLs.

Certain brands take a couple of minutes to completely warm up. we adjusted just fine.

Color temps a little different from what we were used to, I experimented with different brands and models, and we adjusted after a fashion.

A little adjustment phase for saving 4/5 of the energy previously used...I shake my head at how whiny and brittle some people are.

CFLs have gotten much better in the past two years since my 'all-at-once- retrofit...much easier to find 'instant-on' types...much easier to find types which are compatible with dimmer switches.

Just as soon as one of my many CFLs burn out, I will replace it with an even better model. Two years and waiting...

Turning the lights off completely is the biggest power saver.

One with the hot mom,

Agree. We do that as well when we do not require lighting.

Of course, the two ideas/actions (buying energy-efficient lighting and also turning lighting off when not needed) are in no way mutually exclusive.

I could see how some lazy and/or not-so-bright folks might leave their lights on all the time because they bought energy-efficient lighting, but stupid is as stupid does.

I also have had two houses (including the one I am in now) here in the SW which have lots of skylights and good lighting from in-wall windows...we love the natural daylight.

From previous conversations here at TOD, there are folks who will caution about the rain water leakage and maintenance woes of skylights, but I have not been burned by that yet. We had one cracked/crazed skylight dome replaced as a condition of buying the house, and it wasn't very expensive at all. Just as with all roof penetrations, the owner must understand that he/she will need to conduct periodic caulking with the appropriate roofing/flashing compound goo.

Honestly, from my experience, the place your flat NM adobe-style roof is going to leak is from cracks or holes in the tar paper and goo sealing your parapet/roof joints...especially watch the corners! Again, periodic preventative maintenance is essential. I personally think that flat roofs for houses are a bad idea (why wouldn't you want your rain water running off your roof most expeditiously?)...they epitomize form over function.

After helping install a 'solar tube' this summer, I would never again bother with the common skylight. http://www.solarcentre.ca/solatube.htm

Nothing wrong with flat roofs. A bad roofing job is a bad roofing job, flat or peaked roof. Around me in my century plus old neighbourhood in Canada's capital, with our mix of cold, snowy winters and hot summers with blazing sun interspersed with heavy rainfall almost everyone has a flat roof. I've done nothing since ours was retarred about twenty years ago.

I have read about these before...they definitely look like the way to go to get natural light when one has a pitched roof.

For my flat roof segments, I prefer the rectangular domed variety...much bigger light aperture.

I am glad that your flat roofs do well up there...down here in ABQ the flat roofs seem to leak much more than the pitched roofs after one of our rare heavy sustained rains.

If I had the money, I would re-engineer my current house (or buy a different house) that had a pitched metal roof...I hear some of those sharp-looking metal roofs come with a 50-year warranty. MY kids could inherit such a roof and not have to muck with it!

Of course, if I had that kind of money, I would buy a white metal roof to reflect the blazing sunlight...not that it would matter, since most of the roof would be covered with PV anyway!

For my flat roof segments, I prefer the rectangular domed variety...much bigger light aperture.

It ain't the size of the aperture...

I don't have the numbers, but per square inch, the amount of light which enters the house is many times greater with the solar tube. Go into a previously windowless room now illuminated by a solar tube and I promise you that your first instinct when leaving is to flick the light switch in order to turn off the lights. Absolutely, amazing! I talked to a roofer who had installed one which travelled over fifty feet to finally bring light to previously natural light deprived basement. Around corners. No problem.

Good-bye rectangular domed skylights. It was nice (sometimes not) knowing you.

Solar tubes work fine on flat roofs. You just need to take the same care when installing them as you would when installing a plumbing vent, or whatever.

More evidence that the wellspring of genius is bottomless.

Here is even more evidence, as now 16 year old Nikki Yanofsky shows us what she could do at 15 (not for doomers, as you won't enjoy enjoying it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv20KGrjzdc


You make a persuasive case. My house is currently well-served by natural light, but if I move to another house or am helping friends/family figure out how to get more natural lighting into their abodes, I will keep the SolarTubes in mind, front & center!

CFLs and I have a long relationship but there are instances where an instantly bright incandescent bulb makes sense. The motion detecting light in our driveway in winter is one example. By the time even the fastest CFL flood reaches near full brightness we're in the house and the timer has turned the lamp off. Another example is our pantry. The light is turned on/off by a door switch and is rarely on more than 2-3 minutes. CFLs tend to fail prematurely in these circumstances and there is vitually no energy savings. Simple, more environmentally friendly incandescents are a better choice sometimes.

When/if incandescents are banned, I'll be stocking up. Best hopes for reliable, bright, inexpensive LEDs.

"CFLs tend to fail prematurely in these circumstances"

So far, I haven't seen a CFL bulb suitable for motion detector applications. I have motion-activated basement lights, three on one circuit, and could only ever get one CFL bulb to operate - the others would just burn out.

I reluctantly went back to low-wattage incandescents for that, as well as my front door and back door lights.

All my other lights, including those on dimmers, are CFL.

My sister doesn't like CFLs because she claims they hum and flicker. She is a piano tuner and has very sensitive ears, so there may be something to it, but I would expect newer CFLs would be quieter and more flicker free.

Well it is good to see that European consumers are at least as idiotic and entitled as their american counterparts. God forbid any kind of sacrifice is made... I mean people are worried about the tone of the light - boo hoo... well, why not try going back to candle light - it gives off a nice flickering effect and just might burn your place down.

I'm pretty happy that I have electric light of any kind - available at the flip of switch whenever I need it and I can't see a reason why anyone, for general purpose lighting, shouldn't be using the lowest energy demand alternative... Just how bright do people need a room anyways - it's not like we're performing surgery in our living rooms for cryin' out loud...

I am the light nazi in our house. Constant battle.

Don't forget LED which is starting to be available for home lighting having already become established in automotive and several other demanding lighting applications (shop displays etc).

In terms of lumen per watt LED is already past HID, Halogen and CFL. Dimmable and with a mix of red/white a colour close to incandesent is possible. Downside is cost but at an expected 25 year life it means it's possible to reduce the cost of the fitting.

One LED bulb available from Home Depot for twenty bucks. Any I buy might very well be the last, considering they're rated for 46 years. (See link below). There are also mini-flood bulbs by Philips available that are said to emit light warm enough to be comparable to halogen. LED technology is here, and eventually these prices are going to fall.

As for CFL lights, I have decided to buy no more- and we are switching back to incandescent (GE Reveal mostly) bulbs - granted CFL bulbs use less power but I found I was always replacing or worrying about dropping (due to mercury) and ultimately traveling to the transfer station to discard all the brands we've tried1 The Feit brand sold by costco - we went through an entire box of 10 within a year - the ones we're burning through now are Sylvania branded, some have quit working, but they're certainly going on longer than the Feit brand. I don't like CLF bulbs at all, but will switch to LED if they can be proven to last and have a decent color signature. The way I saw it when I made the momentous decision to return to incandescent is that I'm always perched on a ladder or standing on a bed changing the damned things risking my health because someone (who hasn't factored in all the incidentals) said CFLs are essential. And I'll say that my incandescent bulbs all last a hell of a lot longer than any CFL I've yet tried. (My house is fully grounded with ground-fault detecting breakers.)


"LED Lighting without compromise. EcoSmart LED replacement bulbs balance performance and affordability. There are no sacrifices - brilliantly bright, environmentally friendly, energy efficient and longer life all in one affordable package.

429 Lumens
5 year warranty
Estimated savings of $200 per bulb over the life
Dimmable - please reference approved dimmer list
Last 46 years"

Export Land in Action

Libya the new "Dubai"


Saudi Arabia to build 2,400 MW Oil-fired power plant


Not Much Hope for Increased Oil Exports,


I know that this has been discussed on TOD before, but I really don't understand why they would do this. They are spending $3 billion to build an electricity plant that burns the most expensive fuel possible.

Yes, it has been discussed here before and it has been explained, before, that the reason is that Saudi Arabia is desperately short of natural gas. Saudi is exploring every avenue possible in order to burn less of their very high priced crude oil. They are looking at both solar and nuclear power to generate electricity, saving their expensive oil for the market, or for domestic consumption.

Saudi Arabian CSP vies for a place in the sun

"Although CSP would be the most cost effective option, KSA would be likely to benefit from purchasing power through the GCCIP or buying LNG or pipeline natural gas from its neighbours”, says Dargin...

“It can import and burn coal, which is relatively cheap, but this would also boost emissions. It can import natural gas at market prices, which is expensive.

It must be remembered however that oil burning plants can also burn natural gas. It is a simple matter, the operator simply pushes a button and the oil injectors withdraw and the gas valves open up. It can be done without even shutting the boiler down. I make this point because the article simply says it will be an oil fired power plant. That may be the case as it may only burn oil. But technically it can also burn gas if ever enough gas becomes available.

Ron P.

Link up top: A new US oil rush could rock OPEC

The most recent, stemming from sophisticated computer modelling, suggests 300 billion to 400 billion barrels could be realistic.

But oil in place is not the same as recoverable oil or reserves. Dolomite is a hard, dense rock with tiny pores, which makes the oil difficult to extract.

In 2008, the USGS estimated that about 4 billion barrels of oil could theoretically be produced from the US Bakken with current technology It represents enough oil to satisfy US consumers for about six months – hardly a game-changer.

Two points. Dolomite is not shale. Why are they calling it the "Bakken Shale" when dolomite is not even related to shale. Dolomite is closer to limestone than shale.

Second point. 4 billion barrels is not 400 billion barrels. The US is not likely to compete with Saudi Arabia or Russia as the world's largest oil producer with 4 billion barrels.

What to believe? Is someone exaggerating here?

Ron P.

The article referenced has more information, and talks about the various estimates of recoverable oil.

To anyone: I had read or heard the US gov't is actively acquiring western-ish land. Is this true and if true, would it be related to this oil field?

The first thing to remember is that Glenn Beck is a liar. So if the story originated with him, it is an out and out lie. On the other hand, if the story originated with Rush Limbaugh, it is 2% true: the federal government is probably buying 5 acres in Wyoming for a wounded elk shelter. If it originated with anyone else on whackjob radio or screamingheads TV, it could be up to 5% true: in which case the federal government probably has talked to some landowner about his 20 acres and old barn as a potential site to house the drones patrolling the Canadian border in order to protect US pot growers from northern competition.

I am rather familiar with the huge tracts of federal land used for the military and for National Parks and the like.

Any purchases of new federal land for the purposes such as described by Toil4Oil would be like worrying about the area of a flea which landed on an elephant.

Glenn Beck is a self-professed rodeo clown. A very well-compensated rodeo clown, laughing all the way to the bank.

Ok, thanks both. I had heard it but couldn't recall where. Don't know about thr truthfulness of either Beck or Rush... don't listen to them.

It's good that you mentioned Glenn Beck, because I needed a little humor to brighten up my morning, and Glenn's videos provided it. What he doesn't know about land ownership would fill libraries, and in fact does fill libraries. You have to remember that in his line of work, ignorance of the facts is an asset because it allows you to speculate endlessly about things you know nothing about.

In any case, the crux of his complaint seems to be that the US gov't was contemplating designating millions of acres of federally-owned land as National Monuments. I think the key point is that the US gov't already owns all this land, it's just designating it as protected. I think that Glenn's point is that the US gov't shouldn't own anything or tell anybody what they can or cannot do.

Anyhow, the real reason the US gov't owns all this land is because nobody lives there. I don't know if many people here have seen it, but I have. I don't know why they bothered taking it away from the Indians - the Indians were doing a perfectly good job of utilizing it by hunting buffalo, and that seems to be its best use. Trying to farm it is just plain silly because crops won't grow there, except in high-rainfall years, and trying to grow crops will destroy what little topsoil still exists.

So, my solution would be to give it back to the Indians so they can hunt buffalo on it. In fact, that's really what is happening, because the Indian population is growing while the white population declines, and the Indians are raising buffalo to sell to the white people. I like this solution because I enjoy a good buffalo steak from time to time.

Have you ever been through Navaho land? It is barren because of too many sheep, and can't really feed the present population.

Do you have a point?

I haven't been on the main Navajo Nation reservation, although I have been close to it and probably on its outliers, and of course I've been on land formerly occupied by the Navajo before their confinement to a reservation.

Confining them to a reservation was the bases of the overgrazing problem. The climate of the area doesn't allow for much population density. Of course, living there was not the choice of most of them, but that of the American government. The white men got the best land, and the Indians got what the white men did not want. What the white men thought they wanted wasn't very good, and what the Indians got was considerably worse.

Domestic sheep are not native to North America, and will tend to graze the grass right down to the roots, killing it. If they want to raise sheep, they need enough land to move them regularly so they don't overgraze. Bison are a better alternative, given the climate, and of course enough land to support them.

My wife and I went to a Utah Native Amer. Museum, and the intensity of the repeated betrayals by the US GOVT got us into a totally irrational row when we came out.

They would be put onto 'Useless land', where they would find Silver or Copper, and then have that land taken from them, and be put onto even MORE useless land.. it was like four stages of this.

Check, Please.

The Navajo were moved off their ancestral lands to eastern NM, but were eventually allowed to return to a fraction of their territory. With the exception of Canyon de Chelly and an occasional wash, most of the decent bottom land was stolen. That said, another issue should also be mentioned, and that is over-population (overshoot, carrying capacity, etc etc etc) . Kit Carson rounded up a few thousand natives and moved them east. There are now over a hundred thousand people living trying to live off an even smaller ecosystem--ain't going to happen.

I stared at "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" on my bookcase for 20 years before I got up the courage to read it. It makes a mockery of everything anyone ever said about the "values" of American culture.

Bison, strictly speaking. I never buy beef anymore, except where I can establish that it is only grass fed. In Ottawa, I can get grass fed bison at several local butchers as well as at the main farmers' market. Good, low fat, protein. I noticed in southern BC this summer that bison is available in some 'chain' stores.

UHmmm...I think I have some Trader Joe's Buffalo Burgers in the freezer...will grill some up tonight!

The federal government routinely buys, sells, and swaps large tracts of land in the 11 westernmost (of the contiguous) states. The feds are by far the largest landholders in any of those states -- from 29% of the land in Washington to 86% of Nevada. The fed land managers have never been regarded as being a particularly good neighbor, with some justification. Some of the land deals these days are attempts by the feds to be more reasonable, for example swapping "wilderness" land next to a developed private area for private land that is actually remote.

There is, in many parts of the West, considerable distrust of the federal government because of the land ownership issue. Even today, a lot of long-time westerners regard the 1976 Federal Land Management Act -- which made it official policy that federal holdings in the West would never be turned over to the states or private parties -- as forcing them into second-class status. The most recent "blow up" over the situation has been in Utah, which wants to develop certain fossil-fuel deposits on state land to raise revenues for its public schools, but can't because access to the area would have to be through federal lands with a designation that precludes building roads, railroads or pipelines.

One outcome of this is that it is politically impossible to appoint a Secretary of the Interior that is not from a western state. There are a fair number of people blaming this for the lax oversight of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- that the "western" heads of the Interior Dept haven't cared about the Gulf, and did not pay appropriate attention to the potential problems there.

Here is an article which I think refers to the issues mcain6925 brought up wrt Utah:


This is the state, after all, where local officials bulldozed their own roads through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, tore down signs barring off-roading in Canyonlands National Park and, with funding from the statehouse, spent years unsuccessfully defending those actions in federal court.

There are competing interests to be considered and balanced in discussions such as these...but I wonder if we have to pave over/bulldoze/off-road through/develop every last acre?

There are competing interests to be considered and balanced in discussions such as these...but I wonder if we have to pave over/bulldoze/off-road through/develop every last acre?

With tongue somewhat in cheek :^)

Utah has some sort of case when they point out that the citizens of Illinois were allowed to do just that for their own benefit, so why shouldn't Utahans be allowed the same prerogative? Both states have extensive coal deposits; in both cases the land was originally purchased/seized by the federal government; both states were admitted to the Union under essentially identical terms; in Illinois, the federal restrictions on development boil down to pollution limits and mine safety; in much of Utah the feds can (and do) simply say "No development".

I might propose that, in the interests of equitable treatment, Illinois be required to strike a deal with Utah. If Illinois wants to maintain millions of Utah acres in a pristine state, then they should pay an annual fee to compensate Utah for the opportunity costs incurred by doing so. Alternatively, Illinois can set aside a corresponding large area of their state and return it to its pristine tall-grass prairie condition. I suspect that, as a percentage of population, as many Utahans would visit that prairie preserve as Illinoisans who visit the wilderness areas in Utah.

As an initial cut at the size of the fee if Illinois doesn't want to have a prairie preserve -- just for purposes of discussion -- I suggest that it be 5% of the benefit Illinois receives by developing the land that would make up the prairie preserve. That is, calculate the value of the goods/services currently produced using the land that would go into a 10-million acre preserve, then collect state taxes in that amount and send it to Utah each year. Other states that wish to preserve wilderness in Utah can do the same thing.

Interesting idea, but how would one compensate for the loss of corn-producing acreage ?

A quick pass on "The Google" :-

http://stuffaboutstates.com/utah/agriculture.htm - produces mainly livestock (cattle) - farms comprise 22% of state

http://stuffaboutstates.com/illinois/agriculture.htm - produces mainly corn & soybeans - farms comprise 77% of state

Interesting idea, but how would one compensate for the loss of corn-producing acreage?... farms comprise 77% of state

Precisely my point. The federal government did not assert permanent ownership of 64% of Illinois, much of that to be held in pristine condition, and so essentially the entire state has been developed to its citizens' economic gain. Nor did my proposal require Illinois to give up that development, they would get a choice. If they chose not to have large wilderness areas, then they send Utah a check for a portion of the gain they make by using the land more "productively", a choice which Utah has been denied.

When Utah joined the Union, they were promised they would be treated the same way the existing states were. They clearly have not been. I don't think they'll get anywhere with their eminent domain lawsuit. I do expect that within 25 years we will see national energy-development and energy-use policies enacted that benefit the East at the expense of the West. I admit to a Western bias, but suspect that the West will not take those policy decisions well.

Right you are. The "West" will be it's own governing body in far less than 25 years. The breakup of the Fed really can't come soon enough in my book. This criminal fed government needs to go asap. They need to give back/turn over all federal owned land to the states. The states then can decide how to make use of it. The criminal fed gov. should own no real estate whatsoever.

Not one acre. Not one park. Not one tree. States rights are the tru authority.

I agree...not too far out of an idea, in principle...I'll tell you what: I will gladly agree to divert 75% OF my portion of Federal Taxes which currently fund the military industrial complex to help preserve undeveloped areas such as we are discussing. Part of this diverted tax money will also fund strict immigration controls and family planning, as well as energy conservation and efficiency efforts.

A few seemingly obvious tidbits:

- Just because people do not have or take the opportunity to visit undeveloped land does not mean that they do not care about its being left in an undeveloped state. Plenty of people who have never been there would mourn the loss of the Amazon Jungle for example. I have and will (if able) continue to visit Utah places such as Arches and Canyonlands and Bryce and Zion etc...

- There is a difference in population and population density between Illinois and Utah, and the aspect of the time domain and usefulness of the land forms when first settled...Illinois was settled earlier...so I do not correlate the idea that because Illinois doesn't have large protected areas that other undeveloped areas must then be put under the plow or the bulldozer/bucket miner in order to satisfy some sort of state-to-state equivalence principle.

...do not correlate the idea that because Illinois doesn't have large protected areas that other undeveloped areas must then be put under the plow or the bulldozer/bucket miner in order to satisfy some sort of state-to-state equivalence principle.

Nor do I. I think the people of Utah would recognize some of the unique features of their state and preserve them. Not to the tune of 64% of the state's area, though. Same thing in the Colorado, where I live; after all, how many million acres of rock-plus-lodgepole-pine have to be set aside? And then, one might note, mismanaged to the point that the forest fires we are going to have someday soon will devastate it (much worse damage than fires do under "natural" conditions).

One can make an argument that the 1976 Federal Lands Management Act constituted a permanent takings of western resources, and that the western states were never compensated for it. Not an argument that will get anywhere in court, but many westerners feel that way.

"seen one redwood tree, you've seen them all" Have you been to Utah? Carbon County? Uintah Basin? The toxic waste dump of uranium poised over the Colorado in Moab? Bingham Copper Pit in the Salt Lake Valley? Mineral extraction is alive and well in this state. The low lying fruit has and is being plucked. The remaining fringe material that we fight over such as the marginal coal deposits in the Escalante and that huge lake of shale oil to the east is only harvestable with considerable subsidy. Have you seen the endless stream of coal trucks rumbling the roads outside Salida heading to the rail terminus 100 miles away? your stimulus bucks are keeping that roadbed intact. We westerners have a bit of nerve pissing and moaning about the Feds. They pay for our roads, they clean up our mess, they pay for the military bases that dot our landscape and support our local economies, they send more tax dollars back than we give them. Easterners died stealing this land from the natives and the Mexicans, they now support our economy, they deserve a say in how America is managed.

Now that is an intelligent comment.

In Canada, we suffer some of the same hard-done-by belly-aching from some residents of the western provinces, many of whom are transplants from the hated 'east'.

One of their favourite rants is about the National Energy Program introduced by the Liberals in the 1980's. It devastated the petroleum industry in Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC, we are constantly told. I can only note that it was so destructive that it also managed to devastate the petroleum industry in Texas and across the US at precisely the same time.

The belly achers, I observe, are of two kinds: the truly ignorant/stupid and the manipulators who almost always have a personal profit motive.

Disclaimer: I am a born and bred westerner who prefers to live within reasonable travelling distance of Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York and other places that have snow, ice, sleet and improving water quality. I grew up in paradise, now lost, due to the short sighted greed of land developers and those they could bribe.

I live in southern Utah. The road that was paved in the Grand Staircase was a great big mistake. The county can't afford to maintain the asphalt and it's coming apart. Besides, when it was a bad dirt road, the Cowmen could drive their cattle up it to summer range and back down to winter range. Can't do that anymore, because the tourists drive too fast on the windy canyon road and the cows and Cowboys would get run over. So, the County Commissioners of the county, are stuck with an asphalted road that the county can't maintain and the Cowmen can't use. Politics in Utah are interesting, and most of our politicians make Glenn Beck look comparatively reasonable. Been here my whole life and it's always been interesting, sometimes embarrassing. Best from the Fremont.

I used to drop bombs on the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) quite regularly. Lots of bombs are dropped there every year.

The UTTR is a rather large area.

The NTTR (Nellis Test and Training Range) comprises a rather large chunk of Nevada.

The WSMR (White Sands Missile Range) is a fair-sized chunk of NM.

AZ has the Barry Goldwater Range and Fort Huachuca.

CA has Edwards AFB, 29 Palms, China Lake, etc. used by the military.

Including these acreages in the complaint seems a little specious, since I don't think many people would want to live on these lands..they are largely remote, barren, dry, wastelands.

If there are valuable minerals under these lands that the states wish to profit from, then I would understand that wish.

These military ranges also serve as wildlife refuges of a sort...the bombs typically fall in very small areas of these lands. The vast majority of lizards and scrub brush remain unmolested.

The lodgepole pine forest fire danger comes partially from the policies of putting out forest fires instead of letting them burn. Most people both the pro and anti-conservation camps came to that realization too late.

The problem I have is that some, if not many, people throwing bricks about the mismanagement of national forests have the primary agenda of wanting to be able to harvest trees from these forests. They make the argument that thinning forests makes the fire danger and intensity less...but the forests managed just fine without humans prior to our becoming an influence...if we would have let forest fires burn themselves out naturally then the forests would be...in a natural state of affairs...no thinning, no preventing or containing/limiting wild fires.

'Thinning' forests does not make them healthier...that is human hubris. Again, forests somehow managed to survive, adapt, and evolve before they were blessed with us to 'manage' them.

I have seen mountains in the great West with huge swaths denuded by logging (to this day)...I imagine logging companies would love to get their hands on all the National Forests...there are plenty of people in the World deprived of pressure-treated pine decks.

People building houses in forests need to clear a large swath the whole way around their houses...building houses in the forest out of brick or stone with ceramic tile or metal roofs is a fine idea as well.

We can close all those military reservations (we need to shrink the MIC anyway) and also give the folks in the Western states some portion of the savings from cutting the military 75% (payments lasting, for, say, 10 years) as compensation for protecting the lands other than The UTTR, etc. that would be given back to the states.

As a former wilderness photographer a great deal of the land in Utah would qualify for world heritage status. Is any land in Illinois unique enough to do so? Mostly they want to make a few bucks tearing it up for short term gain, which is essentially what mining does. Choose to settle among the most colorful scenery on the planet and you have to contend with the fact that outsiders don't want it despoiled. The canyon country really is a unique asset. If taken care of it will still be drawing paying visitors a thousand years from now.

This argument reminds me of my decade plus living in Wisconsin. Lumber interest cut down virtually evry old growth tree in the state. I'm sure a few thousand people made their fortunes doing this. Now several million inhabitants live in a much poorer environment. One off resource extraction sure is efficient if you measure the effect over a long period of time.

After witnessing the great wailing and gnashing of teeth by many Gulf states politicians and residents over a temporary, 6-month moratorium on GOM drilling affecting ~ 1% of existing drilling rigs, I am skeptical that Secretary of the Interior from a Gulf state would have done any better at regulating the industry that he would be in thrall to...people want the money from the oil exploration and development first and foremost...not that different from other places and situations...remember "Jobs not owls"...

Shooting and poisoning wolves so that Moose/Elk/Caribou-hunting tourists can have their fun and spread their money...

The almighty buck, masked by the cover of ideology, wins hands-down most of the time.

The US government already owns most of the mineral rights under many of the Western states, so why would it want to acquire more?

More likely, some people in the West are upset that they never got the mineral rights under their land, so they think the US gov't should give the rights to them. They are no doubt trying to get them by claiming that the gov't should have given them the minerals even though it didn't.

Most people don't understand their legal rights to land and don't know that owning surface rights doesn't automatically give you mineral rights. You have to search the history of the land to find out who owns the minerals. Often it's someone completely different from the surface owner, and different people may own rights to different minerals. And then they can lease it out, farm it out, and sell options. You can slice land more ways than baloney.

US gov't ownership doesn't really apply to the Bakken area. I think most of the minerals there are owned by the surface owners, although again, you have to do title searches on the individual properties to be sure. The railroads probably got mineral rights to a lot of land in that area.

Point 1: The Bakken Formation is really a layer of dolomite sandwiched between two layers of shale, so calling it the "Bakken Shale" is misleading. It's more complicated than that.

Point 2: The porosity and permeability of the Bakken is very low, so only about 1% of the oil is recoverable with current technology. If there are 400 billion barrels of oil-in-place, then the recoverable resource is more like 4 billion barrels (optimistically, at that). So talking about the 400 Bbbls of oil-in-place is extremely misleading. At least 396 Bbbls of that is non-recoverable.

The reason promoters like to quote it is because they want you to invest money in their latest play. If you don't already know points 1 and 2 you should probably stay away from the Bakken, it's not a game for amateurs.

4 billion barrels is nothing to be snickered at, but it's still only a bit over a 6-month supply of oil for the US.

4 billion barrels is nothing to be snickered at, but it's still only a bit over a 6-month supply of oil for the US.

A random thought that pops into my head from time to time is that while four billion barrels is not much for the US, North Dakota's share of that is a lot for North Dakota. ND has a smallish refinery (Mandan can handle about 60,000 bbl/day). If I were the governor or a member of the state legislature there, I know that it would at least enter my head that production and refining at a rate just big enough to meet ND's needs could keep a lot of things running (eg, agriculture) following global Peak Oil.

But I'm a nut on the regionalism subject.

Decent water supplies...coal, oil, wind, fertile soils, and a fine state-run bank and a state budget surplus to boot. Clean air, low traffic and crime rates...

North Dakotans have a good gig up there...if I were them I would lay low and continue to promulgate the idea that it is not a great place to live...

The flip side of the coin is that North Dakota lacks sufficient population to maintain their current level of technology on their own.

I have been thinking recently about the question of how many people it would take to sustain today's developed-economy level of technology, assuming a steady-state population and no resource constraints. That is, to produce/replace food, clean water, clothing, shelter, computers, MRIs, and so on. The question doesn't assume that you will build cars as good as today's, only that you could do so if that were the appropriate mode of transportation.

My completely wild-ass guess at the lower bound is 30 million people. An MRI, just for example, combines a variety of technical elements each of which sits at the top of a "pyramid" of people, with different levels doing increasingly sophisticated things. The relationships within the pyramid are more complicated than I make it sound there; food producers may be at the bottom, but they use equipment that depends on people nominally higher in the pyramid, like chemists who maintain the technology to fabricate plastics and rubber.

I'm trying put together a more formal mechanism for making such an estimate (or finding that someone has already done so -- pointers, anyone?).

Interesting thought experiment...one that I have passingly thought about here and there...what is the 'minimum operating level' of population required to maintain a human society with technology at the level we are familiar and comfortable with?

Some happy assumptions:

1) We magically, in this thought experiment, transition from where we are today to having some 'x' much smaller population, without nuclear fallout, corpses piled up like cordwood, etc.

2) The 'x' number of people mostly consist of folks with healthy genes, healthy lifestyles, genes conferring at least average intelligence, and nurture/societal norms/etc which encourages hard work and learning, both academic and practical.

3)This society would have some kind of norms/taboos/strictures in place to keep the 30 million (or whatever 'x' is) people from ballooning back to 3 Billion, 7 Billion, 12 Billion, etc. This would be strict population control to the zero-population-growth ideal.

Question: When you posit 30 million people, do you refer to the population of the U.S. or the World?

There are plenty of value judgments to be made when designing a thought experiment utopia: Would it be more Amish-like than today's U.S. middle-class and higher lifestyle? Would it value having lots of folks engaged in the arts and sciences? Would it be a sortof-hedonistic endless summer, with people living lives of leisure and intense experiences, such as water-skiing, snow skiing,scuba diving, kayaking, whatever?

Interesting though experiment...a shame we don't have a couple more pristine Earth-like planets in the Solar System to try to start over...

Question: When you posit 30 million people, do you refer to the population of the U.S. or the World?

Every time I think about it, I drive myself crazy: too many variables and I don't know which ones are the most important. Random bullet points...

  • To do this with the minimum number of people, you have to keep them close enough together that communication and some transport of bulk goods works efficiently. Today's technology requires some degree of bulk transport for several reasons.
  • I almost always toss the "pay no attention to resource constraints" assumption away. Without that, you have to expand the population over enough area to control the necessary resources: farmlands, water, renewable energy, etc. This means you need larger regions, subject to the restriction of the first bullet point.
  • Today's technology is a "city" thing. FBOW, a village can't build a 486 processor by itself. Again as a WAG, I think you need at least one metropolitan area with at least 5% of the population concentrated in one place. 10% actually seems more realistic to me. You'll also need some number of smaller cities, in order to accommodate the next bullet.
  • The benefits of technology have to be broadly available. None of this works with 29 million peasants in dirt-floored cottages and a million sophisticates living in urban towers. One of the things that, to me, makes FDR look like a genius was that he did lots of things to keep farmers from being consigned to a permanent second-class existence. By 1933, the Communist Party was holding open meetings in grange halls in Iowa, advocating the violent overthrow of the government. And Iowa farmers were attending.
  • It's always worth considering the other end of the question, too. How big a group/area could get away with something approximating today's technology? My (equally WA) guess is 100M. Beyond that, and given the size of the areas required, I think you start getting negative returns to scale and it all falls apart.

But that doesn't answer your question, does it? The 48 contiguous US states is too big, it has to be split. That particular space supports two such regions reasonably, and three if you count next-gen nuclear (capable of burning U-238 and Th-232 efficiently) as renewable energy. It goes without saying that this is for an approximation of today's technology: MRIs and the Internet, yes; two gas-burners in every suburban garage, no.

Not a particularly useful answer, I'm afraid, since it covers a range from the US is grossly overpopulated to we're just badly organized...

OK, so you are looking at a range of 30-100M in the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

What about the entire World?

600-1500M people?

I admit to a parochial interest in North America simply because I think regions are likely to stand or fail on their own. World wide? I think you can point at 15-20 such regions world-wide, at an average population of 60M, which gives a total between 900M and 1200M people.

It was shown in IQ and the Wealth of Nations that GDP was positively correlated with IQ for different countries.

We also know that energy consumption is positively correlated with GDP.

Therefore, for a sustainable world, the population reduction scheme should preferentially select the population with the lowest IQ.

Energy consumption is a non-issue, if no one consumed energy it would simply sit there. If the world is not sustainable, the lower IQ peoples would be selected against as they are less biologically fit.

It is the high IQ people who figure out how to consume energy in order to make their lives more pleasant. So they are the problem.

We need to eliminate all the scientists, engineers, technicians, mechanics, electricians, etc. who are causing the problem by coming up with technologies that consume ever greater amounts of energy enabling greater and greater population growth, eventually leading to collapse.

It is clever people like Cyrus McCormick, Edwin Drake, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming, etc. who are the root of the problem. Without them, we would be nicely in balance with our environment.

I'm at a loss for words.

Aside from the ... of using IQ as an intercultural measure of intelligence, there is the ... of thinking that IQ is an unidirectional indicator of adaptive fitness.

In any case, ours is a social species and it will be the most adaptively fit societies that will be selected to prosper. Among other things, who can get the most bang for the buck of oil.

Correlation does not equal causality, and additionally, one can make the case that IQ tests viewed in this context are to a certain extend self-referential. i.e. they are designed BY people who have the time/resources to devise such tests (in other words societies with relativily high GDPs) to test people IN those societies.


I had vsited Fargo many times. The relatives I had who used to live there moved to Savannah Georgia. They gave up quite a lot to avoid a few cold months per year. Now they have high cost, high crime, several months of terrible humidity, and such a reactionary population, that my sister-in-law is the only white lady in a black church now. Said she didn't fit in at all among the others of her skin color.

while four billion barrels is not much for the US, North Dakota's share of that is a lot for North Dakota.

Oh, yes, of course! It's a great deal for the somewhat less than 650,000 people who live in North Dakota. Less so for the 300-million-odd other residents of the United States. If I lived in North Dakota, I'd be thrilled.

I think the key issue here is that there are about 460 times as many Americans living outside North Dakota as live inside it. It's all a matter of scale, or lack thereof.

Yep...the population of the Albuquerque metro area is over 25% greater than all of ND!

And I don't even feel that ABQ is a big city...it certainly is suffocatingly big like Washington, D.C. etc.

I can be off into the foothills in minutes, way up in the mountains in a hour or so, and be away from sight of people.

State's rights died in the Civil War, except for the fanatsies of Confederates and Republican politicians.

Gen. George Thomas (1863) said, when asked if the remains[from the battle of Chattanooga] should be interred according to state origin: "Mix them up. I'm tired of states' rights."

The state of North Dakota doesn't own anything. Either individual Americans or corporations own things under the laws of the USA.
North Dakotans can only get what their representatives can extort out of Washington DC. Unfortunately, North Dakotans are overrepresented if you believe in direct democracy.

The state of North Dakota doesn't own anything.

huh ?

the state of nd owns lots and lots of land and minerals, essentially every sec 16 and 36 of every township statewide. these were reserved to the states to support schools when nd was homesteaded and these sections (16 and 36)are often refered to as shcool sections.

leases on state lands are going for $6000/ acre in some areas.

Point 2: The porosity and permeability of the Bakken is very low, so only about 1% of the oil is recoverable with current technology. If there are 400 billion barrels of oil-in-place, then the recoverable resource is more like 4 billion barrels (optimistically, at that). So talking about the 400 Bbbls of oil-in-place is extremely misleading. At least 396 Bbbls of that is non-recoverable.

1% is only reasonable if you are calculating against the alleged size of the total accumulation. Operators in Elm Coulee are regularly getting some 15-25% recoveries in their particular areas and might do better if their expected results using CO2 come to fruition. No word yet on whether or not this has worked.

In developing the Bakken, you are looking for the sweet spots, which is where you will make money. Elm Coulee is one of the sweet spots. Most of the Bakken is considerably less sweet.

Most of the Bakken is considerably less sweet.

Of course. Which is why you can't multiply a single recovery factor against the entire accumulation when the answer is actually composed of differing facies and maturities, concentrated natural fracturing in one spot but not another, the missing Middle Member farther to the east, and various other differences within the overall accumulation.

Adding up the sweetspots works, with appropriate consideration for the much higher recovery factor.

Two points. Dolomite is not shale. Why are they calling it the "Bakken Shale" when dolomite is not even related to shale. Dolomite is closer to limestone than shale.

The Bakken Middle Memeber is dolomatized, and during the development of the Elm Coulee field was used as a drilling conduit to access the Upper and Lower members which are shale.

Later, the development of Parshall showed that the middle member wasn't required to make a successful shale well.

Second point. 4 billion barrels is not 400 billion barrels. The US is not likely to compete with Saudi Arabia or Russia as the world's largest oil producer with 4 billion barrels.

The article quotes "sophisticated computer modeling" as the source for the large 200-300-400 billion barrel numbers, as well as Lee Price's work. Lee Prices work was not sophisticated computer modeling, so I assume they are referring to something else, although they provide no reference. To date, the USGS analysis has been the most thorough, and they certainly aren't within 2 orders of magnitude of that number. People use the higher numbers when they are trying to sell something. They tried it alot more often prior to the release of the USGS estimates in 2008, it doesn't happen as often now.

What to believe? Is someone exaggerating here?

Of course. The 400 billion barrel numbers are crap. Someone has an agenda, or is playing advocate.

Four points about Bakken formation:

1. I read study done in 2007 or 2008 by the North Dakota state agency responsible for monitoring oil production (ndoil.org ?, but can't find link). They reviewed the production of 20 recently drilled wells and reported initial production and decline rates for the first year. IIRC these were all horizontal wells with multiple fractures. Average production was about 300 barrels per day, with some producing only around 100 bpd and one or two producing slightly over 1000 bpd.

2. The geology of the formation requires several fracturing procedures to get reasonable flow rates. However the decline rates are like that of shale gas and often are in the 25 to 30% range. This means that a well that initially flowed 500 bpd will flow only 120 bpd in the fourth year. A 200 bpd well will flow only 48 bpd in year four, which is not even half a truck load per day.

3. Continental Resources based in Enid, OK, is the largest producer and driller in the Bakken play. Harold Hamm, their CEO, was quoted in early 2009 about the fall off in drilling activity due to low oil prices. He stated that the Bakken formation required $50 per barrel price to break even and sustained price of $70's to expand the Bakkens production to sizable levels. Article's claim of $5 oil is BS.

4. Because the wells are so scattered and production per well so low, the ability to use pipelines to gather the oil for shipment is not economical. Much of the oil is being trucked to collection points then put on railcars to get to the refineries in North Dakota or surrounding states. This adds to the cost of the oil for these refineries, compared to shipment by pipeline.

Bottom line is some promoter of investment in Bakken formation planted this article to sell shares. Its 90% hype and cherry picks facts to attract the unwitting investor. Some money can be made in the Bakken play, but to compare it to Saudi Arabia's 12.5 mbpd capacity for production is nothing more than fraud.

but to compare it to Saudi Arabia's 12.5 mbpd capacity for production is nothing more than fraud.

How does one compare one fraud with another fraud? ;-)

Ron P.

All of your Four points about Bakken formation are valid.

You have to drill horizontal wells and frac the living bejeezus out of them, production will start low and fall fast, and you will have to truck the oil because it won't pay for a pipeline. The $5/barrel cost quote verges on fraud. Even the Arabs can't produce new oil for $5/barrel any more.

So, realistically, in the Bakken you might be looking at up to 4 billion barrels of oil producible at $50/barrel and up. An okay play if prices stay at $75 or more, but not exactly a license to print money, and you better do your homework before you invest or you'll lose your shirt.

The geology of the formation requires several fracturing procedures to get reasonable flow rates.

not true. that whole 1987-1993 round of bakken hz drilling hadn't even heard of frac'in a hz wellbore. the champion of champion bakken wells is the petro-hunt usa2-d which has produced just over 1 million barrels open hole without any frac'in:

 Pool: BAKKEN     Cum Oil: 1024798     Cum MCF Gas: 1361751     Cum Water: 11774 
However the decline rates are like that of shale gas and often are in the 25 to 30% range.

40 - 60 % decline is more typical, and this after a near 100% (annual)decline for a few months after the ip.
a well that initially flowed 500 bopd may be down to 15 bopd in 4 years.

Continental Resources based in Enid, OK, is the largest producer and driller in the Bakken play.

continental may be the no. 1 producer in nd., i don't know, but the bakken champion of champions is eog resources. continental my have more rigs running, but they need to - they haven't found a sweet spot(yet).

i pretty much agree with the rest of what you say.

It's extra funny that anyone would think this is on OPEC's radar. ND production is gaining about 40 kb/d per year, there are at least 175 megaprojects coming online in this decade with comparable output. And ND is still just a sliver of total US production, merely making up for past losses in mature regions:

US Crude Production stacked by state 1981-2009

It is profitable of course to operate there - onshore, in the US.

Nice graph.

Below the 1000 line by ~ 2040?

Below the 1000 line by ~ 2040?

A very interesting thought.

I looked at that and said, "That can't be right". So I looked up the EIA numbers for the last century, ran it past, Excel, did a little curve matching, and, you know, it might be right. Under any realistic assumptions (obviously not US government ones), US production might very well be under 1 million barrels per day by 2040.

Looking a little deeper, by 2040 they will have had to shut down the Trans-Alaska pipeline due to low production and Alaska will be hard pressed to supply itself. Deepwater offshore will have stepped right off the continental shelf and into depths where the oil has been destroyed by plate tectonics. Companies will have drilled the Arctic ocean and found it's really not great for oil but has a fair bit of natural gas. (I worked for a company that ran a drilling fleet of 26 ships up there for a couple of decades and that's what we found). Oil shale development is currently stuck behind the 8-ball, and there won't be time to ramp it up to commercial levels by then. So US oil production < 1 million bpd is realistic.

As a result, the US will be overwhelmingly dependent on imports by 2040 (as if it's not already). The problem with that is that most current exporters (except Canada) will be down to a trickle by that time, and the US will have to compete against China and other countries. The Chinese economy will probably bigger than the American economy by then. Canadian oil sands production will probably be 4-5 million barrels per day by 2040, but the Chinese are already buying up as much of it as they can, as well as any other available reserves outside the US.

There's an ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." The 2040's may be very interesting times for Americans.

ND production is gaining about 40 kb/d per year

Just FYI, so far this year ND production is up about 80K bpd:

by your own link, nd oil production is up just under 55 kbpd in '10.
december, 2009: 250,237 bopd, june 2010 305,111 bopd.


Jan 2010 = 236,175 bpd
June 2010 = 315,282 bpd

That's an increase of 79,107 bpd

If you go from December '09 you still get an increase of 73,117 bpd.

ok, i made a math error for dec, '09.

the month you chose for comparison, jan, '10, is the lowest month since august '08. and as you probably know, production from bakken hz wells is cyclical. with near zero completions in the winter months, the steep decline of the bakken becomes apparent.

a more relevant statement would be that june, '10 production is 100k bpd more than june, '09.

USGS announcement of Bakken estimates:
3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate—
Released: 4/10/2008

Also a FAQs on the Bakken:

The report (actually just a 2 page fact sheet):
Assessment of Undiscovered Oil Resources in the Devonian-Mississippian Bakken Formation, Williston Basin Province, Montana and North Dakota, 2008

is in PDF at:

The middle member is claimed in the fact sheet to be a sandstone (not a dolomite - a type of limestone).

For those with Flash, there's a slideshow:
Slide 17 is US estimated technically recoverable - 48.5 billion bbls oil: 6 1/2 years US consumption. The... the... the... that's all folks.

Dolomite is not shale.

the shale is the upper and lower bakken shale which are source rocks. the mid bakken is a dolomite/silt/sandstone between the upper and lower shale. the three forks formation is a dolomite/silt/sandstone below the lower bakken shale.

the mid bakken and three forks are targets for the current round of hz drilling. the ndic classifies the whole package from 50 ' above the upper shale to 50' below the lower shale as the bakken 'pool'.

the previous round of bakken hz drilling ,late '80's early '90's, was drilled primarily in the upper shale, the name stuck. wireline logs from many earlier vertical wells showed permeability(from natural fractures) in the upper shale.

the 30 % waterflood recovery referenced for saskatchewan is much shallower, with conventional porosity and millidarcy permeability rock and therefore feasible for waterflooding. reservoirs with nanodarcy permeability rock and flow capacity derived primarily from fractures are not waterflood candidates. not at rates that would be economical.

gas injection could be a different story but nobody is talking much about that. not since eog had co2 show up within days in a well miles away from their injection well.

NETL Researchers Develop Way to Rapidly and Continuously Form Synthetic Natural Gas Hydrates

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have developed a process and related technology to rapidly and continuously form synthetic natural gas hydrates with just water and methane, using much less pressure and cooling than is required to liquefy it.

...With this technology, future operators will have an alternative method for the storage and transport of natural gas. While not as energy dense as LNG or CNG, production of methane hydrate using this method will require less refrigeration, less pressure, and less time than either LNG or CNG production.

One of the TOD posters yesterday advocated the idea of busing people out of huge metropolises such as the LA area and up-populating smaller towns and rural areas.

The author of this Foreign Policy article agrees:


The author's article's sub-title, "Why Suburbs, Not Cites, Are the Answer", seem misleading to me, since the author seems to be advocating for more smaller (and I think, somewhat self-contained) cities, rather than more suburban sprawl around existing cities.

Climate change may dictate migrations...the author does not mention that possibility, nor does he directly talk at any length about locating people where there is adequate water, food, etc.

What do we think? How about a future where Minot ND goes from 39,000 to 390,000 folks? Fargo from 100,000 to one million? Williston ND(way out west in the thick of the Bakken action) goes from 12,000 to 120,000? Little Tioga, ND from ~ 1500 to 15,000?

Unless population and consumption per capita starts to decrease, I will re-state what I said yesterday...thus idea seems like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Besides...I think that most of our Nordic heritage folks live in the ND already!

How many people like the cold that much?

For a hoot, and to see what I am talking about, navigate to YouTube and watch the video spoof:

Hitler Moves to North Dakota

My 20-year old son showed me this yesterday and I had a good laugh...we lived in the Magic City for 9 years...

We also enjoyed this ND video parody on YouTube:

North Dakota Bois

After yesterday's extra helpings of doomerism on TOD, maybe a little levity is in order...

Prior to my comment there was a thread Can we solve two problems at once - unemployment and preparing for power down? which contained an extensive discussion of small-scale, low-energy agriculture as a potential solution for unemployment.

There have also been discussions about urban agriculture, with Mayor Bing of Detroit, for example, promoting the clearance of blocks with few houses in order to return them to gardens and save the expense for the maintenance of utilities and services they would otherwise still require. This seems suboptimal because the land is still relatively expensive compared with rural acreage and since it is only a partial solution to achieving more compact settlement with lower transportation costs.

In other urban areas, such as New York, it seems to make little sense to keep unemployed people in public housing when the market price for housing is $2000 / month for a 1 bedroom apartment.

Lastly, many threads have dealt with the energy-saving benefits of rail public transportation, which requires relatively compact settlement, development in linear strips along rail lines, and rail connection of compact edge cities to urban hubs in order to be economical. This is in contrast to the web of highways and streets typical of car/truck optimized transportation, e.g Long Island or the Inland Empire.

So my modest proposal was an attempt to synthesize these approaches into an overall solution by moving those who are chronically unemployed or on public support from the urban centers to rural or rural town/small city situations, where they could be housed and fed more cheaply and where they could build useful lives doing the type of agricultural work previously described. This would free up areas of the city center for redevelopment in a way more appropriate to public transportation and encourage the migration of suburban sprawl towards the city centers and edge cities.

You may very well have a decent idea at the thought experiment level...there would be many devils in the details, not the least of which is the potential for local people to rise up form movements to block migrants from moving in and destroying their smaller-town values and lifestyles.

I am not one of those people.

However, I have seen how various demagogues have whipped up sound and fury using the TV and the Internet.

Your concept would work only if there was some sort of logical, central planning to encourage folks to move to places with the better prospects in a balanced, absorb-able flow rate. Some kind of tax credits and/or direct assistance may be merited to affect this population/area re-flow/re-balancing.

I shudder at the prospect of self-appointed messiahs proclaiming their desire to 'save America' and whipping up hatred of these intra-country migrants by harping on stereotypes pitting the images of shiftless, drug-addled, poor, non-white people against the pure rural folks with all the proper values and ethics...

If there was any large-scale, publicized, organized effort to encourage folks to move to places which would be more sustainable, we know there would be just this sort of blow-back phenomenon.

The effort would have to be a demand-pull phenomenon; smaller cities, towns, and rural areas would have to think that it was in their own best interests to encourage these migrations, rather than having the ideas imposed top-down and from afar.

I'm not optimistic that you could ever get a "demand pull" from the rural areas. So the movement would be due to a "supply push" from the city centers.

Take Detroit as an example. The city grew during the '40s - '60s due to migration from various places, but principally from Appalachia and the Deep South. Mainly this was due to the availability of jobs in the defense and auto industies. However, a large population is no longer needed for manufacturing, and a large segment of the population does not have the education and skills needed by the remaining businesses.

The problem is that the urban centers, which once could afford to provide more generous public assistance than could the rural counties of Appalachia and the Deep South, are no longer able to do so. Therefore, the key is to reduce public assistance benefits in urban centers so that they are less generous than the public assistance benefits in rural areas in order to incent the excess manufacturing workers to return to agricultural pursuits.

The city itself cannot take action politically, because a significant fraction of the electorate in Detroit is on some form of public assistance. However, the state of Michigan might be able to take action to say, "Our support of public assistance in Detroit is ended. You have to move out of the city in order to get public assistance. Where you choose to move to is your choice. We will pay for your transportation to the destination."

If the person has family or ties to Appalachia or the Deep South and wants to move there, fine. If they have ties to some other state or country, fine. If they want to move to some other county in Michigan, fine. The destination should be their choice.

When they arrive, it is up to the welfare services at the destination to provide whatever assistance is available by law and regulation at the destination. However, it did seem that there was a possibility that they could be usefully engaged in high-intensity agriculture.

I would imagine that there would only be a trickle of people out of Chicago into home-towns across North Dakota.

What if the people in MI voted out their elected reps after the state cut them off, and voted in folks who would rescind the prior decisions and polices?

Used to be called a "poor farm" or the "poor house".


Don in Maine

I'm currently reading a book called The Great Bay: Chronicles of the Collapse, by Dale Pendell. It's a fictional "future history," about the collapse of modern civilization, beginning in 2021 and going out 10,000 years after that.

In some ways, it's extreme doomer porn. It's not peak oil or climate change that causes the collapse, but a world-wide plague that quickly wipes out 90% of the world's population. 200 million people die in the U.S. in the first month. Even though it turns out it was germ warfare (US vs. China) mixed with "wild" cholera that emerged when sewer/water systems went offline, that seems rather unrealistic. (It was also rather convenient, since the rapid and drastic drop in population meant resources were relatively plentiful for the survivors.)

Climate change does play a role after a couple of years. The center of the country becomes unbearably hot as the skies clear following the collapse of industrial civilization (but the CO2 doesn't). The "Great Bay" of the title is the inland sea that covers most of California as sea levels rise.

I have a feeling non-Californians might find this book annoying. It describes California as adapting relatively well, because of all the nutty granola types. In Texas, religious war breaks out (with guns). Jews are lynched in southeast. A woman suspected of being a witch is stoned in the northeast. More than a little stereotyped.

Peak oil is not mentioned (so far, anyway), but the author appears aware of the issues. In the early days of the collapse, people scrounge for gasoline and try in vain to re-start the refineries.

"Earth Abides," written about 55 years ago with the same plot, was also a pretty good read.

In Earth Abides only a tiny handful of people escape in extreme isolation and, understandably, even the ability to read & write etc dies out.

If 90% were to perish, we'd still have a complex civilization. But much simpler than currently.

After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.

David Price

Ron P.

The "Great Bay" of the title is the inland sea that covers most of California as sea levels rise.... It describes California as adapting relatively well...

I am always surprised when I look at topographic maps and remember just how much of the Central Valley would be underwater if sea levels rose by 150-200 feet. Everyone thinks about losing Florida, rather than a big chunk of California. I believe that such a sea rise would also be sufficient to flood the Imperial Valley (Sulton trough) area (technically, overflow the barrier between the valley and the Gulf of California -- much of that area is already below sea level).

California would lose a lot of arable land due to that kind of sea rise. How large a population is assumed to remain?

Drought conditions in the southwest would likely end irrigation in the Central Valley before it flooded. Flooding might be beneficial, since evaporation would tend to restore some agricultural potential downwind of the new sea. The new sea may also be fairly rich in seafood potential.

Drought conditions in the southwest would likely end irrigation in the Central Valley

My thinking exactly. For those who are not familar with it it would sound like a truly bizarre place. Foggy and rainy during the winter, but 100F and sunny all summer long. Without irrigation it is only seasonal grass that grows. Spent last weekend in Merced, it is clear that the loss of water rights is the number one political issue. Of course politicians can rant all they want, but there just isn't enough water to meet expectations. And the San Joaquim aquifer has been pumped nearly dry.

In any case, I don't expect sea level to rise that much. Probably 20-35 meters at peak (and that will probably be a thousand years from now).

I don't know if it would be possible to dam off the Carquinez strait, and keep rising sea levels from flooding thousands of square miles. The delta isn't more than a few miles wide at that point.

The remaining population varies a great deal, because of the long time frame of the book. I haven't finished the book yet, but it looks like it might be a very long descent back to the paleolithic.

Here's an excerpt from 60 or 70 years after the "White Death":

It is difficult for us to imagine what life was like before the Collapse, though the ruins of that culture surround us. Though our world today seems brimming full of people, the population before the White Death, by my estimation, was fifty to a hundred times what it is today.

One might wonder where there was room for so many people, and how there was enough food for them to eat. Indeed. We might call the Hydrocarbon Culture, or the Oil Culture. Unimaginable quantities of coal and oil and gas were mined and burned. It was as if they were all burning all of the forests in the entire country every four or five years, and doing this decade after decade. The hydrocarbon fires fueled giant machines, and these had to be tended by armies of workers. The Oil People created huge farms, covering whole counties and states, and forced food out of the ground by mixing explosives into the soil.

In effect, the whole earth exploded. In just three or four generations they brought the earth's savings of three hundred million years up out of the ground and into the air where it oxidized. The great conflagration affected every part of the globe and everything that lived on it.

...and forced food out of the ground by mixing explosives into the soil.

Great way of looking at it.

Under the right weather conditions, rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus has been estimated to kill 90% of the rabbit population in Australian rabbit control operations.

So based on biological control results in other species, 90% mortality of humans may be reasonable.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus was introduced illegally into New Zealand.

Merrill,I guess you are referring to rabbit calisi virus as it is known in Australia.Strictly speaking it was also illegally released in Australia as well.

It was being trialed on an island in the Gulf of St Vincent in South Australia when it escaped,most likely with human assistance.Once that happened the authorities went ahead and released it nationally.The results have been mixed - good in some areas,poor in others.As with myxomatosis the rabbits gradually build up a resistance to the virus.The CSIRO are no doubt continuing to look for biological controls for rabbits and other extremely destructive introduced pests.

Yes, it is the same as rabbit calicivirus.

Probably, they are working to avoid biological controls that are too obviously applicable to humans.

On the topic of PO/collpase-inspired religious wars, I was pretty horrified to read about the Beck/Palin rally in WDC...lots of religious & military rhetoric, pandering to the helpless/hopeless confused. I thought Palin was a Republican, but this was a Tea Party rally. I myself am confused about this Tea Party and what they want. Aren`t they just Republicans in different T-shirts?

It is easy to imagine the rhetoric getting worse as things get more difficult, and eventually real fighting would result. Palin etc. seem so confused, unaware, enraged. I wonder if they can even spell "thermodynamics" much less even try to understand the concept and what it means for them and society. No, much easier to look to the Sky Gods.

All our problems are caused by demons. Simple minds can only understand simple causes which yield simple solutions. Slay the demons. Restore our honor. Make America safe for Whitey.

The Tea party was started as a publicity gimmick for/by the Republicans. But it quickly took on a life of its own. It is mostly libertarian, and seems to have attracted the wilder most anti-intellectual fringe of the party. Tea party candidates have been challenging mainstream republicans in the primaries, often knocking long standing senators and representatives out of their nominations (very rare for incumbents). It remains to be seen what this means for the general election. Hopefully the independents and moderates will flee. Pressure from the right fringe is rapidly driving the party off into the gamma quadrant.

I think we are seeing the crazy-political talk as entertainment dynamic play out. Conservatives find crazy but anti-liberal rants entertaining, but soon start telling the lies and distortions. Since all their aquaintences are saying the same things, they no longer seem nuts. This concept is called shifting the Overton window. In any case, to be a successful ringtwing celebrity you gotta keep pushing the limits. And those who resist the craziness are soon marginalized.

The Republicans sowed the wind and we all may reap the whirlwind.

Idiot McCain was so out of touch and desperate as to unleash the Palin on us.

Now the avalanche of stupid is coming down the mountain...

Our problems are due to the Gays, lib-rals, French, Muslims, ACLU, Elitists, academics, and the black/mixed/Kenyan/Hawaiian/Radical Christian/Secret Muslim/Communist/Socialist/Fascist Obama!

Keep you government hands off my Medicare!

It is all a bad clown show...problem is...we are wasting time on this crap and running out our shot clock on doing things that matter...

Once upon a time all of Germany's problems were assigned to the Jews and Gypsies, etc. A potentially horribly effective, and completely dishonorable, tactic. Who will the Tea Party zombies come for, and what will they do when they get them?

Beck is having a ball playing God's messenger (or is it God?):


Lapin’s three-part challenge to attendees: study the Bible more, make more money, and say extra prayers for America.

Quote from Chuck Norris: "What does it take to get Gina and I off our ranch in Texas,” Norris asked. “An act of Congress? No Way. What it takes is God or Glenn Beck.”

Copeland’s remarks that people should “take” what they want to receive from God, reflected the “name it and claim it” theology at the heart of the prosperity gospel...

When does this game of 'King of the Stupidity Mountain' end?

Covert Operations
An in-depth analysis of the (Koch Brothers) owners of the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill.

I was listening to a Nanci Griffith Video It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go and one line from this article reasonated with the theme of that song. The theme of the song is "if all that you do is teach children to hate - then that's all they'll ever know". Seems as though she was right.

... David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically. “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” ... “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups.

...The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement.

They have secretly dominated the mind space over the last 30 years and will dominate even more of it with the advent of Citizens United decision. Any pretense that this a functioning democracy will rapidly disappear over the next several years. The corporatist state has now become a strangle hold. Any politics that opposes corporate domination of our government and our laws is hopeless.

I noticed the reference in the article to the work of Friedrich von Hayek, specifically, The Road to Serfdom (1944). I recently finished reading Hayek's book, along with his later work, The constitution of Liberty (1960).

Without further information, I wonder whether Koch and the rest of the Beck/Palin/Limbaugh fringe are missing Hayek's message. One must remember that Hayek's book was started as a speech given before WW II, when the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the resulting WW II madness was front and center in everyone's mind. Hayek saw Germany and Russia after the massive dislocations of WW I, which caused the nations of Europe to undergo major political changes. Before WW I, Europe was dominated by monarchies, most of which were replaced after the war. Those nations had little experience with democracy of the sort seen in England, France and the US, which were the earlier revolutions that occurred in agrarian societies. As I recall Marx expected that his brand of socialism would first flower in England, not the monarch ruled agrarian society of Russia.

And, I wonder whether the John Birch/Tea Party libertarians realize that the events Hayek experienced were the result of the massive professional military establishments of Germany and Russia and the wars in which these instruments of repression were used to full effect. Hayek points out that the most socialistic element of society is the military. Who else, other than the military and the associated internal police, would represent the sort of threat to "liberty" which the conservatives think so close at hand? Yet, yesterday's Beck rally was about honoring the military, that is, the "heroes" who do the fighting, an attitude which seems completely opposite to his complaints about loss of liberty. Of course, they may have been wounded or killed, but that's not the point. Aren't these the same people who imposing their brand of totalitarian control upon the nations in which they have fought and who suffered as the locals fought back?

I guess I just don't get it...

E. Swanson

Good news, holiday shoppers !

Costco has inventory of plastic, garden, light-up Santas...

I guess they are getting a jump on the holiday season...Christmas shopping in August ???

Edit : they haven't moved all the plastic, garden, light-up Halloween skulls yet...

I always thought it pretty ironic that people would go out and buy pumpkins and corn stalks to decorate the porches of houses with gardens where nothing grows but grass.

Robert Rapier says It’s the Oil, Stupid.

No doubt the housing crises was a major contributor to our current economic predicament, but even if we miraculously recover from that the oil price risk still hangs repressively over us. So while I appreciate that It’s the economy, stupid and the economic indicators get all the news, I believe the reason we are in for prolonged economic bad news is “It’s the oil, stupid.”

He avoids predicting outright collapse but he is clearly hinting at such. And he predicts oil prices at above $100 a barrel. I think that is possible but it is also possible that bad economic conditions, along with oil prices between $70 and $90 a barrel will prevent any recovery strong enough to drive prices above $100.

Yes, it's the oil, stupid, but it is also the economy, stupid. The two go hand in hand and one affects the other far more than most people realize. The economy cannot recover without cheap oil prices and oil prices cannot go too high before the economy drives them right back down again.

Ron P.

Check out the Germans. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/24/germany-economic-recovery-reces...

They seem to be doing just fine. Also, consider the fact that they have very high gas prices and have provided what some consider ruinous solar subsidies.

I think the U.S. economy has problems that go way beyond the price of oil. The Germans, despite the absence of slave labor have maintained their export economy despite the Chinese and unlike the U.S. The U.S. has destroyed its export economy and the jobs that have been exported to the Chinese are not coming back regardless of how many stimulus packages we have. Lower taxes? Do we really believe that corporations are going to higher American workers just because we let taxes expire on the wealthy?

Maybe it is more appropriate to say, "It's the stupid Americans, stupid".

Yes, the Germans really are playing this one well. They have the head of the European Central Bank sowing dissent in the US by giving austerity nonsense some credibility (even as the combined expenditure of governments in Germany outpaces the combined expenditure of governments in the US). Economic policy in the US is crippled as a political system designed for an 18th century agrarian society is unable to hold a debate based on fact in the 21st century. As a consequence, the Administration's hope for an export led recovery and leadership in 21st century energy technology is hamstrung, to say the least. Germany wins.

I'm glad that Hitler and his circle weren't as smart as the current crop of German policy makers.

Actually, it appears that the brownshirts are having a tea party in Washington today. And Goebbels it appears is sponsoring the rally.

I work with a German on an H1B. We disagree about the danger of Fascism. I think Germany is probably the least likely place to succumb, having been innoculated pretty effectively seventy years back. He doesn't understand why I think the US is the most likely place for this to happen this time around.

Hmmm. Not my experience. I've had German colleagues recently basically say "You (US and Canada) really really don't want to go down the road you're taking (ie our Fascist shifts). We know that the hard way." I reply, "I know that, but I myself can't stop it and so few are seeing it..."

7.6% unemployment is pre-recession levels? That is pretty terrible by U.S. Standards. I'm willing to bet that like the US, their actual unemployment and underemployment is closer to 20%. Every time I go to HuffPo I find people who lack even fundamental understanding of economics arguing for protectionism.

Yes, because out-sourcing our manufacturing and turning into a nation of 'knowledge workers' has worked out real swell for us.

Yes, we should aspire to be a nation of shopkeepers, AMWAY and Avon salesmen/women, insurance agents, real estate agents, and investment bankers.

Who needs to make anything here? We all can be export/import managers!


Don't blame HuffPo for our pickle...blame the politicians on all sides who championed outsourcing our jobs.

You don't understand, manufacturing jobs moving overseas makes perfect sense. It is much cheaper to operate a business in Vietnam than in the U.S. for a number of reasons. It would be stupid of me to put my money in a savings account that accrues .23% interest when the bank has offered me one that accrues at .44% interest. It is just as bad to invest my capital in a business that is going to only earn 6% in the U.S. versus 24% in China. I can purchase emerging market stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. Why should I not be able to open a shop in one of these countries myself? I don't need to pay for Union Labor, match my employees social security benefits, provide health insurance, etc.

Yes, I understand the idea of comparative advantage.

What do the citizens in the U.S. do for employment?

Some sort of equilibrium should eventually form, when the labor of those in the U.S. is fairly valued with the trading partners. Unrealistic lifestyles for everyone cannot be maintained.

Given the finite resource constraints, one might expect to find that the US will become more like China is now as China becomes more like the US is now. Until both are "equal" on a per capita basis. We've got a long way to go down that steep slope...

E. Swanson

It's not all about finding the most efficient investment. In many cases, velocity (for a given monetary base) matters more than efficiency when you're talking about the well being of one nation's economy. Globalization is not a net sum zero game by a long shot but, in its current form, if often benefits one country at the expense of another e.g. the U.S. and it's relationship with China, India, Japan, Germany, etc.

If everyone played by the same rules, globalization it would be gloriously productive but the fact is we don't, not by a long shot. E.G. VAT tax is a direct subsidy to exporting industries in Europe. If a car made in the U.S. makes its way into Germany, VAT is applied to it. If a car makes its way from Germany to the U.S, VAT is not applied. You could say something similar about sales tax on a car exported from the U.S. but look at the difference in rates, it's not even remotely close. Further, government provided healthcare in Germany is a huge subsidy to their export industry.

We, in the U.S. could hypothetically be a knowledge driven economy... if the Chinese didn't continuously knock off our goods. How many copies of Windows have been pirated in China in the last 15 years? How many songs and movies have been illegally downloaded or burned to DVD and sold? How many fake iPods, how much of the technology to build solar panels and wind turbines... sheesh, what has China actually paid us for? If you added up all of the pirated goods, what do you think it would be? $500 billion conservatively? When the U.S. inflates its way out of its debt and China loses half of the purchasing power of its U.S. treasury holdings I won't shed a single tear. They have it coming to them

I'm not sure the velocity of money has much to do with choosing where to invest capital. Capital simply seeks the best returns. I would not call the health system in Germany a subsidy for their exports. These programs are paid for by the people, driving up the cost of labor as they demand higher wages.

If you have a right to maximize your profit ahead of anyone else then the government also has the right to maximize your taxes to pay for all the stuff you don't want to pay for--SS, health insurance, etc.
We pay taxes to the government to pay for maintaining society.

Otherwise you just want everything your way.
Both taxcuts and unlimited profits is just too selfish.

A +90% tax rate would help you appreciate your fellow americans better(like back under Eisenhower).

A 90% tax rate would send me to Costa Rica. That 90% tax rate was not inflation adjusted, those who would be affected today are not the same as those historically. Besides, those types of people who make that much money are generally producers, they can simply charge higher prices and pass the price on to the consumer.

If you wish to complete globally, you can't have all these programs that increase the cost of labor.

Besides, those types of people who make that much money are generally producers, they can simply charge higher prices and pass the price on to the consumer.

Your definition of 'producer' sounds a lot like 'parasite'--someone who doesn't create value but just passes on costs along with 'their cut' of course.
This is typical for the overpaided US corporate leadership
which demonstates only a herd mentality (zero creativity)
and an obsession with meeting quarterly numbers with bogus accounting/valuations.

Close an old plant in the US and open a brand new plant in China, where China partners half the capital with few environmental controls and provides free medical and pensions for lowly paid workers/slaves.

Aren't you just fooling yourself?

This is no free-lunch for suckers like you, Floridian.

Maybe U.S. standards are no longer standard. Despite all the spending,we're still at 9.5%. Europeans have had higher unemployment for a long time, but maybe this is being reversed.

I don't think the post argued for anything but just laid out some facts. It is up to us to figure out if there is something to be learned from Germany.

Ignoring Beck and his followers for a moment, have you even bothered to read what fascism actually is, versus the popular culture mythology that has deliberately brutalized the word? Have you ever read Mussolini's actual work in defining fascism?

Obama is a fascist. A corporatist. Beholden to the corporations, run over by the corporations, controlled by the corporations, and owned by the corporations. And so was Bush. No significant difference in ACTION at all. The rest is just hot air designed to stir the "left-right" debate meme for those too lazy to read definitions and think on their own behalf.

Meanwhile, the citizenry of the US get repeatedly raped by corporations, both directly and then indirectly by corporate control of Congress and the White House.

You've got Big Sis singing the praises of x ray scanners mounted in trucks cruising the streets looking for the least suspicious thing. You've got the government being given the green light to attach a GPS to a citizen's vehicle even though parked on private property and without a warrant. That same decision defends the RICH because it notes that privacy requires fences. So the rich have an expectation of privacy that the rest of us are not allowed to have so the police state can run roughshod over us.

And there you sit, worried about the comedic likes of Glenn Beck while Obama and his ilk destroy every last vestige of personal liberty in this country. And yes, he's using the very laws that Bush got passed to do it.

Obama is nothing more than a black Bush - a fascist thug. Yet people like you cannot see this and instead insist on focusing on irrelevant side shows like Beck or Palin while the real acts of terror go unchallenged, and even cheered on, again, by people like you. Guantanamo is still open. Remember that campaign LIE? We're still in Iraq, though we've "renamed" the combat brigades to some peaceful sounding name so we can claim (LIE!) that our combat troops are out of Iraq. Obama has opened a third war in Pakistan. Way to go, Mr. Nobel Peace Prize!

You, and everyone else like you, are going to get exactly the sort of police state you deserve. And it won't come from Beck or Palin. It has already come to you courtesy of Obama, Biden, Napolitano, Holden, Geithner, Bernanke, and many more. And you won't do jack squat about it until it's too late and you become the latest victim of fascism in action.

Fascism is already here, courtesy of the Demoncrats and the Rethuglicans, and you can't even recognize it. Orwell must be spinning in his grave. And the ONLY solution requires no more Demoncrats and no more Rethuglicans. But again, people are too timid to step outside the nice neat fascist lines drawn inside their mental matrix already.

Pathetic. And disgusting.

You ... are going to get exactly the sort of police state you deserve.

Little choir boys don't "deserve" to get molested behind the pulpit.

And big sing-along-with-the Demo/Repo choir boys don't "deserve" to get molested by the corporate-state lackeys of government

Stop blaming the victims

But you are sadly correct, (+5)

Obama is merely a chocolate covered Bush
(except that he can speechify gooder --and maybe he might have a brain under that Tinman's cone head)

Actually I don't think you understand fascism, GZer.
Fascism is not an economic system at all (its economic system is capitalism). It is an authoritarian political system.


IMO, Glenn Beck is a fascist.
He wants to unify the people behind his family-values authoritarian state, something like Petain's Vichy which preached 'Work, Family, and Fatherland'(not Liberty,Equality and Fraterity of the French Revolution).

He avoids predicting outright collapse but he is clearly hinting at such.

I don't think so. He makes it clear in the comments that he's not predicting collapse.

No. I don't believe in the doomer scenarios (although every time I say "power down" people seem to think that). I do believe that we are going to continue through a painful period. But I think people will still take their kids to school in the morning and society will continue to function. I just think that energy prices are going to be a heavy burden both directly at the pump, and indirectly through inflation of goods that are energy intensive to produce and distribute.

My mistake. Yes, he thinks we can power down without suffering the consequences of power down.

Ron P.

He explains that by "power down" he means use less oil. We are already doing that. And we are suffering the consequences.

I agree, but how further can oil supplies decline without the consequences becoming dire... without triggering total collapse of our economic system?

Tis my opinion that the economy is already extremely fragile, slip sliding away as Paul Simon might put it.

Yes indeed we are suffering the consequences but you ain't seen nothing yet.

Ron P.

I agree, but how further can oil supplies decline without the consequences becoming dire... without triggering total collapse of our economic system?

No one knows that. But my feeling is that it's going to be a lot longer than many of us imagined when we started worrying about peak oil.

Really Leanan? Oil supplies have really not declined at all. We have been on a plateau for the last six years. I agree, if we stay on this same plateau for six more years, things will get worse but we will get by. Unemployment will get worse but only marginally so. The economy will get worse but also, only marginally so. But when oil supplies start to decline in earnest? That has not happened yet. But when it does happen things will not get marginally worse, they will get much worse very fast.

Well, that is only my opinion of course. But looking at what has happened so far with only a plateau to blame...

Ron P.

The world is on a plateau, but the US is feeling a decline. The continuing flood of money from consumers to producers will necessarily have an ongoing effect.

So yes, it will get worse, and more quickly worse, but it's already getting worse with the situation as-is.

The US is feeling a decline because the marginal utility of a barrel of oil is less here than it is in other places. Therefore "they" can outbid us.


It's nice to see one comment in this thread that has some basis in fact and theory.

The US does not need to consume more oil, or anything like the level of its current oil consumption to prosper: it needs to increase the utility of the oil it consumes.

Of course it needs to do other things as well, such as decreasing the economic space, through the tax code in my opinion, of the financial, insurance and real estate sector. It needs to get medicare costs under control, which it could do by moving to a more fully socialized health care system. It needs to change the culture of its major industrial corporations which are fat and lazy because of Pentagon procurement policies. It needs to direct capital formation towards the production and distribution of negawatts and captured 'current' energy.

Will these things happen? Not soon enough, in all likelihood. With the likes of the Koch brothers and Murdoch successfully cultivating the anti-government meme (directed populism), and with the cynicism of those who can't forgive Obama for choosing to save the US banking system from multi-year ruin without (capital)punishing the bankers (infantile leftism), and with others whose limited understanding of economics has them thinking that the woes of the US are the inevitable result (fatalism based on determinism) of increasingly scarce oil, the US is going to be outmanoevred by old Europe and even older, now new, Asia.

So the US will continue to decline and some people confusing the US with the world will see it as evidence that the gods sitting on Hubbert's Peak have spoken.

Precisely. Perfectly stated.

I think we may be looking at demand (rather than supply) constraints dominating the energy situation for quite some time. And the plateau may go on longer than expected. Look at what happened with shale gas. Natural gas in the U.S. seemed like a major disaster waiting to happen. One even more intractable than oil, since it's harder to ship. Now there's a glut. Does that mean we no longer have to worry about supply? Of course not. But it does show the difficulty of trying to put a date on predictions like that.

I'm inclined to agree with Robert on this particular issue. The most likely future scenario is the "Greater Depression." The major symptom of peak oil will not be collapse, but a grinding, chronic recession. And few will make the connection.

That the US, in particular, is unable to adapt efficiently to rising oil costs does not make the increasing scarcity of oil the cause of its economic woes.

At some future date, when the marginal utility of US oil consumption equals that of its competitors and if the potential for the further substitution of alternatives to fossil fuels, most notably negawatts, nuclear and converted current energy, is somehow exhausted, a doubtful proposition given the bottomless depth of the wellspring of human genius, then you might be able to make a causual connection.

There is fragility, Ron. But although it's easy to imagine the total collapse of the system in an offhand way, it's hard to give a coherent scenario that brings it about.

Under inspection many doom catalysts are quite unlikely or easier to mitigate than it first appears. Some are partially self mitigating like economic depression which would make the world seem awash in resources.

I do believe there will be crises and an indicator of high stress would be physical brawling in Congress. We don't have it yet but it will come. But that's not collapse.

A general wades in....

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says:

"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt,"


Hopefully this is a signal that the Pentagon budget is going to be cut by 90%. IEDs, which are obviously the best way to defend a nation from invaders, are very cheap.



TPTB gave the U.S. MIC a long-term, ultra-high-octane stimulus turbo-boost with the advent of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), 'Long War'...or today, just call it BAU.

Funny how all of the Taxed Enough Already supposedly anti-debt crusdaers give an absolutely blank check to anything in the military or Security complexes...DOD, DOE(weapons-related),DOJ, ATF, DHS, NSA, CIA, EIEIO and on and on till the cows come home, and then all over again.

No need for oversight, don't even question eternal year-over-year budget increses...that would be un-patriotic!

I'll make my statement againL I will support a 50% cut in non-MIC U.S> Federal Budget as long as the MIC takes a 50% cut as well.

Too much for your tastes? Fine, Let's start with 25/25%...how 'bout 10% and 10%?

No TEA Party folks will take this deal because they are frauds.

VW to eliminate worst road hazard: drivers

Soon you won't own a car, but one will come to you on its own when you call it, then whisk you away in perfect safety without you having to drive it — and that day may be closer than you think.

Although fully autonomous cars won't appear for about 20 years, Huhnke says that his research group is well on its way. "We are looking into some of the applications coming pretty soon. Traffic-jam assistance, for instance, automatic parking — we have park-assistance already introduced — collision-avoidance systems, and an emergency braking system that brakes automatically if it recognizes an obstacle that's in a specific speed range."

The story goes on to describe fully automated operation without needing driver control.

An obvious extension is to simply get in your car, program destination into the GPS, and the car communicates with road control to negotiate routing with predetermined slots in the traffic pattern so that traffic flow is optimized and jams never occur.

Better that they eliminate worst road hazard -- cars.

You beat me to it!

Better that they eliminate worst road hazard -- cars.<+blockquote>
Plus a google!

Better that they eliminate worst road hazard -- roads. :D

I've got two arguments against this ever happening.

First, my take on this, and on Intelligent Transportation Systems and even MagLev always comes back to maintenance.

How do you maintain the electronic infrastructure needed in an environment where the temperature swings from -20F to 100F? How do you deal with it when the snowmelt runoff consists of brine as salty as the ocean?

Similarly, we have trouble keeping up with maintaining smooth pavement for 80MPH vehicles. How are we going to maintain a smooth guideway for 300 MPH MagLev trains?

Second, work on automatic braking and controls for individual vehicles has been going on in the transit industry since the 1970s: Personal Rapid Transit. The hangup has always been stopping. Railroads and rail transit are based on the Brick Wall Stop. The signal/control system has to allow enough space so that the vehicle can stop completely as if the one in front of it stops suddenly as if it becomes a brick wall.

Car traffic is not at all like that. It operates under a system where the space between vehicles depends on the reflexes and stopping speed of the following car. Each of us drives to keep a 2 to 3 second headway between ourselves and the car in front. If highway vehicles were spaced like transit vehicles, the capacity of the system would fall drastically.

I'd contend that automated systems aren't going to be approved for anything less than brickwall standards, which cripples the capacity, and kills the whole idea. Depending on car-following automation, which VW is proposing, is not a fail-safe solution.

I recall studies which indicate that the greatest number of cars per hour can be obtained by reducing the freeway speed from 60-70 mph to around 45 mph. That's because the distance between cars will tend to be less at the slower speed, which increases the number of cars which (usually) are positioned along each mile of freeway. The cars-per-hour is the result of the cars-per-mile multiplied by the miles-per-hour. When real world data is plotted, there is a maximum lane capacity at some speed. Unfortunately, our freeway speeds are set above this maximum, thus we see either free running traffic or gridlock when there's an accident. If only the government would cut the speed limit back to 50 on metro freeways we could both save energy and reduce the need for more lanes...

E. Swanson

Cash grant that propped up alt power due to expire


I guess you could install a half wave rectifier to increase the bulb life, but alas the energy savings just shows up as less light output. Adding electronics only adds points of failure. Get used to the CFL's. Besides, you can still buy candles. I wonder how long some folks held out on that one?


Sun storm to hit with 'force of 100m bombs'
August 25, 2010 3:40PM

"The general consensus among general astronomers (and certainly solar astronomers) is that this coming Solar maximum (2012 but possibly later into 2013) will be the most violent in 100 years," astronomy lecturer and columnist Dave Reneke said.

They claim satellites will be aged by 50 years, rendering GPS even more useless than ever, and the blast will have the equivalent energy of 100 million hydrogen bombs.

Would this event potentially eliminate all data held by electric current? Also, how is it that the electrical grid would be ruined? I'm exhausted from travelling - just got home and saw this fascinating article. Just trying to get a handle on the repercussions of such an event, should it occur.

A new US oil rush could rock OPEC

There have been a lot of entries regarding this link. Not to re-state the obvious, but the source of the article is "The National" which appears to be a UAE news feed. Considering that the UAE is a member of OPEC, it seems like a self serving message along the lines of "Not to worry, there's plenty of oil left, so no need to go bothering yourselves with that alternative energy stuff".

My "Iron Triangle" thesis: