Drumbeat: August 31, 2010

Interview with Michael Smith (Part 2 of 2)

I feel the peak/plateau period is much delayed because of the recession. Currently I am looking at around 2020 - perhaps as late as 2025. But of course it is dependent on what happens to the global economy (and the environment) between now and then. When I first started forecasting in the late 1990s, I had a production plateau beginning around 2016. Over time, supplies got tighter and tighter and oil prices started to rise, and the plateau moved nearer to around 2012. Now it has moved out to 2020, showing how uncertain this modeling can be because so many technological, financial, political and social variables are at work. The fluctuation points to volatility of course which is a signal of tight energy supply. If there is a new surge in economic growth and China and India continue to grow and mop up oil supplies, then it will move back to 2016 very quickly.

Pemex Plans to Invest $269 Billion in Next 10 Years to Increase Oil Output

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, plans to invest $269 billion by 2019 to increase production, the company’s chief executive officer said.

Pemex, as the company is known, should not have trouble having its planned investments approved by Congress and will spend about $27 billion a year over the next decade, CEO Juan Jose Suarez Coppel, said today at a conference in Mexico City.

Mexico sees big potential near Tsimin oil find

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex is increasingly optimistic about the potential of what appears to be a new cluster of light crude oil fields around its Tsimin discovery, according to company executives.

The side-by-side Tsimin and Xux discoveries are believed to hold the equivalent of 1.5 billion barrels of proved, probable and possible oil reserves said Manuel Teran, a Pemex engineer working on the discoveries, at a petroleum engineering conference this weekend.

For BP, post-spill advertising comes at an unknown cost

FORTUNE -- The coverage of BP's Deepwater Horizon spill is teaching the typically secretive oil industry something about life in the limelight. Now, the company has to account for every cent it spends.

Bahamas Bans Offshore Drilling

The Public is advised that The Ministry of The Environment has suspended consideration of all applications for oil exploration and drilling in the waters of The Bahamas. The Ministry seeks, by this decision, to maintain and safeguard an unpolluted marine environment for The Bahamas, notwithstanding the potential financial benefits of oil explorations.

Additionally all existing licenses will be reviewed to ascertain any legal entitlement for renewal.

Coal India May Set Up Power Plants Because of Shortfall in Rolling Stock

Coal India Ltd., the world’s largest producer of the fuel, said it may be forced to set up power plants to use coal that’s piling up because there aren’t enough railway wagons to carry supplies to utilities.

“It’s not a business we would naturally like to be in because there are already so many players,” Chairman Partha Bhattacharyya said in New Delhi today. “If stocks keep building up, we may not have an option.”

Russia to protect domestic car makers with higher import duty

Russia will gradually raise the import taxes for the foreign-made cars, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday.

Putin noted this would be done to stimulate foreign companies to build their production facilities in Russia.

Electricity and climate change

Also as a result of global warming, the countries of this region are witnessing dramatic increases in the demand for electric power, as the use of air-conditioning increases in households, shops, places of worship, offices, hotels and factories. And as a result of the exceptional hot weather, the sale of all types of air-conditioning devices flourished, and their stocks were effectively depleted in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and other countries, while their retailers achieved exceptional profits, after taking advantage of the circumstances.

Why "green wizards" get us nowhere new...

So, first question, what is a ‘green wizard’? Greer defines green wizards thus, “individuals who are willing to take on the responsibility to learn, practice and thoroughly master a set of unpopular but valuable skills – the skills of the old appropriate technology movement – and share them with their neighbours when the day comes that neighbours are willing to learn”. The idea, as I read it, is that any notion of a co-ordinated response, a la Heinberg’s ‘Powerdown’, a scenario where communities self-organise and work with, or without, their local authorities, to start the rebuilding of that settlement’s resilience, reduce its oil dependency and carbon footprint, is now for the bin, condemned as impractical and unrealistic. Greer appears to have given up any notion that such a thing might be possible, stating “a movement is a great thing if you want to hang out with congenial people and do interesting things together. It’s just not usually a good way to make change happen”.

Are People Smarter Than Chipmunks?

After witnessing this eccentric behavior, I began wondering why the chipmunk would behave so illogically. It didn’t take too long to realize that it simply doesn’t possess the right equipment to understand the threat posed by a car. A chipmunk’s brain and the behavior produced by it are the result of ages of natural selection – a process that took place in the absence of roads and cars. The mind of a chipmunk, therefore, is incapable of properly interpreting the data coming its way, especially when it’s coming at 60 miles per hour.

The chipmunk’s maladaptive behavior has some prominent parallels with our own predicament. The data are approaching us at a fast and furious clip. We have ample and disturbing evidence about climate destabilization, dwindling energy resources, social breakdowns, and a host of environmental maladies. We know that the economy is a subsystem of the finite planet, and that increasing the scale of the economy impinges on the earth’s ecosystems. In an age of biodiversity die-offs and political buy-offs, however, we don’t seem to possess the wherewithal to interpret the data correctly.

Lenders Back Off of Environmental Risks

Blasting off mountaintops to reach coal in Appalachia or churning out millions of tons of carbon dioxide to extract oil from sand in Alberta are among environmentalists’ biggest industrial irritants. But they are also legal and lucrative.

For a growing number of banks, however, that does not seem to matter.

After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines.

New Study Links Toxic Pollutants to Canadian Oil Sands Mining

Native Canadians living downstream from the oil sands mines in Alberta have long contended that their high cancer rates were related to the expanding excavation of bitumen for the production of synthetic crude. Their assertions have been disputed by the reports of a joint oil industry-government research panel that concluded that natural causes — and not mining — were responsible for the high levels of various metals in the sub-Arctic Athabasca River.

But now a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is backing the position of the Native Canadians. Led by several University of Alberta researchers, the study found that unusual levels of lead, mercury, zinc, cadmium and other toxic pollutants were found near oil sands mining sites or downstream from them. The levels exceeded federal and provincial government guidelines.

Crude Oil Heads for First Monthly Slide Since May on Slowing Global Growth

Oil fell, headed for its first monthly decline since May, before a report forecast to show U.S. crude inventories increased to the most in a month.

Futures dropped as much as 1.7 percent, extending their decline from the highest level in a week reached on Aug. 27, after the Commerce Department said incomes rose 0.2 percent, less than the 0.3 percent estimate by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. An Energy Department report tomorrow may show crude stockpiles gained 1.55 million barrels last week.

Oil Supply Climbing to One-Month High in Bloomberg Survey

U.S. crude oil inventories probably increased to a one-month high last week amid signs that U.S. economic growth is slowing, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Supplies rose 1.55 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, in the seven days ended Aug. 27 from 358.3 million a week earlier, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates before an Energy Department report tomorrow. The gain would leave stockpiles at the highest level since July 23.

OPEC Oil Output Declined on Iraqi Pipeline Bombing, Bloomberg Survey Shows

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ crude-oil output fell in August to a seven- month low, led by Iraq, where production was hobbled by a pipeline bombing, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Production slipped 75,000 barrels, or 0.3 percent, to an average 29.15 million barrels a day, the lowest level since January, according to the survey. Output by members with quotas, all except Iraq, dropped 5,000 barrels to 26.805 million, 1.96 million above their target.

Japan Issues Storm Warnings, Cancels Okinawa Flights as Typhoon Approaches

Typhoon Kompasu slammed Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, causing the country’s two biggest airlines to cancel flights, disrupting some shipping and closing an oil refinery owned by Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Ras al Khaimah seeking electricity for growth

Ras al Khaimah’s Government is in talks with the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) to boost power supplies to the emirate as it attracts more businesses to its industrial zones and completes development projects.

Russia eyes Rosneft sale

Russia may consider selling a stake in state-controlled oil producer Rosneft in 2011 to 2013, Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said today.

LUKOIL to get tax breaks for Caspian oil fields

(Reuters) - Russia's No.2 oil firm LUKOIL's CEO said on Tuesday that the government is ready to introduce tax breaks for oil extracted from the company's Korchagin fields on the Caspian Sea.

'Fracking' fractures N.Y. county

A controversial method of natural gas drilling — known as "fracking" — has begun to tap the energy-rich Marcellus Shale, a huge geological formation that underlies much of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. In New York, fracking has been stalled by opposition from environmental groups, legislators and people such as the Diehls.

Bad weather delays BP bid to recover blowout preventer

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A bid to recover a key valve that failed to prevent the blowout of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico has been delayed because of bad weather, the pointman for the US response to the oil spill said Monday.

"We are in a hold pending calming of the current weather," retired coast guard admiral Thad Allen told reporters, adding that it would be two or three days before the operation could begin.

No gas concerns Memphis officials (Michigan)

Two gas stations in the city but no gas to be pumped has prompted Memphis Mayor Dan Weaver to explore strategies for getting a station open to serve residents.

"I've been spinning my wheels talking to people trying to get us a gas station in town," he said at a recent City Council meeting where he asked officials to consider options such as asking the city's attorney to advise on issues such as eminent domain.

Stickers would help auto buyers compare fuel economy

DETROIT — In its first major overhaul of fuel-economy ratings in 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation on Monday released two proposed window stickers designed to make it easier for consumers to compare vehicles.

One version gives cars and trucks a grade from A+ to a D, compares vehicles with three sliding scales and gives an estimated annual fuel cost. The other version omits the grade. At first, only electric vehicles would rate an A+.

Toyota Prius May Lead Japan Car Sale Collapse as Subsidies End

The Prius hybrid has spearheaded sales growth for Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan for more than a year, helped by government subsidies. The model will likely bear the brunt of plunging demand as the support ends.

“A collapse in sales is unavoidable,” said Hiromi Inoue, the new-car sales chief for Tokyo Toyopet Motor Sales Co. “The daily pace of orders for the Prius is already dropping. We are bracing ourselves for the coming crisis.”

Russian billionaire Prokhorov to roll out hybrid car models in December

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will present three electric vehicle models in December for public approval, he said on Tuesday.

"If they don't like them, they can say 'we don't want these cars.' We will hold a vote on the Internet," said Prokhorov, an active blogger.

Prokhorov said he will decide where to produce the cars after the presentation.

The Biking Boom Breeds Discontent

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city leaders have praised the increase in cycling for reducing congestion and pollution and making the city streets safer overall. To accommodate the surge in bike commuters, the city has installed hundreds of bike racks and roughly 200 miles of new bike lanes in the past three years, with plans for future expansion.

Yet according to a recent weeklong investigative series by Tony Aiello, a reporter with New York City’s WCBS-TV (Channel 2), the cycling boom is breeding discontent. Titled “Bike Bedlam,” the segments turned a critical eye on reckless riders who flouted traffic laws, and profiled a young father who was killed by a cyclist riding the wrong way on a one-way street in Midtown Manhattan. A former bike shop owner declared that cyclists were “way out of control.”

Blowin' in the Wind

Pattern Energy wants to do what T. Boone Pickens couldn’t: deliver Texas’ overabundance of wind power to less-windy states.

The wind and transmission line developer aims to build a $1 billion, 400-mile transmission line to carry electricity generated by Texas wind turbines to Mississippi where it could be distributed across existing lines to Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and other states in the South.

Red Books And Yellowcake - The Permanent Quest For Uranium

Only taking the world's present 439 civil reactors and ignoring the 200-plus reactors called "research and military", these civil reactors will need about 68 000 tonnes of uranium in 2010, but world mine output will be less than 55 000 tonnes. If the vaunted "Nuclear Renaissance" takes place as planned by the industry and about 200 - 225 new reactors are added in 2010-2020, world uranium fuel needs will grow to about 125 000 tonnes a year by 2020.

And You Thought Radiation Was a Problem for Nuclear Plants?

A power plant has overexposed its workers to radiation, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a fine. The plant, though, is not a reactor; it runs on coal.

E.P.A. Turns Down Request to Ban Lead Bullets

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday rejected a request that it ban lead bullets, saying it does not have the legal authority to do so. The American Bird Conservancy and the Center for Biological Diversity had petitioned for the ban.

To Win, the Green Movement Needs to Understand Leverage, not Just Footprints

A few years ago I got into a heated debate about Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth with a green-minded friend of mine. My hippy friend couldn't stand the movie—not because of anything it said, but because of the 'hypocrisy' of flying around the world to preach about climate change. "Doesn't he know this sends his carbon footprint through the roof?!" exclaimed my irate drinking buddy.

"He probably doesn't care." replied I. "Nor should he."

I've wondered before why so much of the environmental movement is focused on individual virtue instead of collective success. Yet I'm increasingly realizing that that's just one part of a broader issue I have with greens—we spend too much time talking about impact, and not enough talking about leverage.

Greenpeace claims to have shut down Greenland oil well

Greenpeace claims its activists have shut down a ''dangerous'' oil drilling operation by a British energy company in the Arctic.

Author Simon Singh Puts Up a Fight in the War on Science

The British Chiropractic Association sued Singh, hoping to use Britain’s draconian libel laws to force him to withdraw his statements and issue an apology. Losing the case would have cost Singh both his reputation and a substantial amount of his personal wealth. Such is the state of science, where sometimes even stating simple truths (like the fact that there’s no reliable evidence chiropractic can alleviate asthma in children) can bring the wrath of the antiscience crowd. What the British chiropractors didn’t count on, however, was Singh himself. Having earned a PhD from Cambridge for his work at the Swiss particle physics lab CERN, he wasn’t about to back down from a scientific gunfight. Singh spent more than two years and well over $200,000 of his own money battling the case in court, and this past April he finally prevailed. In the process, he became a hero to those challenging the pseudoscience surrounding everything from global warming to vaccines to evolution.

Three degrees is at least one too many

It is fittingly ominous that 2010, year of the next big climate change conference, has been the hottest in recorded history. The heat rises inexorably yet the world dithers and looks away. None of the excitement that surrounded the opening stages of the climate summit at Copenhagen last year looks like materialising this November at Cancú*in Mexico.

Japan Forsees Starting Carbon-Emissions Trading in 2013, Panel Reports

Japan plans to start emissions trading in 2013, as the government revived a climate-protection draft law that was scrapped earlier this year when then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned.

Cap-and-Trade Is Beginning to Raise Some Concerns

Critics have warned for years that this form of offsetting would encourage profiteering, with little or no value in efforts to curb climate change.

More recently, opponents of offsetting have likened the system to the kind of financial engineering on Wall Street that helped precipitate the recent banking crisis.

Review Finds Flaws in U.N. Climate Panel Structure

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations needs to revise the way it manages its assessments of climate change, with the scientists involved more open to alternative views, more transparent about possible conflicts of interest and more careful to avoid making policy prescriptions, an independent review panel said Monday.

The review panel also recommended that the senior officials involved in producing the periodic assessments serve in their voluntary positions for only one report — a statement interpreted to suggest that the current chairman of the climate panel, Rajendra K. Pachauri, step down.

Virginia Case Against Climate Researcher Is Rejected

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The state attorney general has failed to back up accusations that a former University of Virginia climate change researcher defrauded state taxpayers in obtaining government grants, a judge ruled Monday.

Climate Change and the Wealth of Nations

Professor Kahn isn’t skeptical about global warming, but he is (quite reasonably) skeptical about our ability individually and collectively to reduce carbon emissions: “attempts to reduce or reverse our carbon output — to mitigate the damage that we’ve already done — aren’t going so well” and “evidence shows that very few individuals have cut back on their carbon-producing activities at all.” Consequently, he predicts, “the world is going to get hotter.”

But while this would lead many people to doomsday scenarios, Professor Kahn is an optimist who believes “that we will save ourselves by adapting to our ever-changing circumstances.” He says this salvation will come from “a multitude of self-interested people armed only with their wits and access to capital markets.” In short, the same economic system that led to global warming will rescue us from it.

Climate 'sceptic' Bjørn Lomborg now believes global warming is one of world's greatest threats

One of the world’s most prominent climate change sceptics has called for a $100bn fund to fight the effects of global warning, after rethinking his views on the severity of the threat.

Atlantic Rising: sea level rise threatens the Orinoco Delta in Venezuela

Rising sea levels are forcing the migration of indigenous peoples and threatening the freshwater ecosystem of catfish and piranha found in the Orinoco Delta near the coast of Venezuela.

Arctic ice: Less than meets the eye

Barber, an environmental scientist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, went to sleep one night at midnight, just before the ship was due to reach a region of very thick sea ice. The Amundsen is only capable of breaking solid ice about a metre thick, so according to the ice forecasts for ships, the region should have been impassable.

Yet when Barber woke up early the next morning, the ship was still cruising along almost as fast as usual. Either someone had made a mistake and the ship was headed for catastrophe, or there was something very wrong with the ice, he thought, as he rushed to the bridge in his pyjamas.

Re: To Win, the Green Movement Needs to Understand Leverage, not Just Footprints, up top.

To me leverage means using the current infrastructure to move away from fossil fuels.

The local country elevator is as old as the hills. But they now serve as part of the renewable fuel infrastructure.

Farmers Coop Association is the other elevator I have a share in. It cost $100.00. They own a self service gas station that sells E85. It is the only one in town that does.

There is no attendant at the station which is called Cardtrol. It is a high volume operation where many motor homes and trucks fill up. If you see Heather Kluver at the office she will give you a local card which is good for a 6 cent discount on gas or diesel.

This elevator managed to avoid the “hedge to arrive” debacle of 1995 that ended the independence of quite a few country elevators around here like the Woden elevator I talked about yesterday.

It tries to present a friendly image and is more diversified than other elevators. It has an operation in Kiester, Minnesota and a small hog feed mill at Leland, Iowa.. In addition to the gas station it services LP tanks and farmer’s diesel needs from this facility on Highway 69.

Jack Ruiter use to dump the grain I bring in, but now after his promotion weighs and checks it for quality. Unlike some energy analysts who do not know that energy is an abstraction, Jack knows that grain is an abstraction. He can tell the difference between the abstract and the concrete. The first thing he asks is ”Corn or beans?” He does not apply corn standards to beans nor does he apply bean standards to corn even though they are both measured in bushels.

Now Roger DeGolier operates the elevator.. Roger too can tell the difference between the abstract and the concrete unlike EROEI/Net Energy analysts. He is careful not mix corn and beans and keeps them in separate bins even though they are both grain , come in the same truck and are stored under the same roof. He is not much interested in the total amount of grain in the elevator. He wants to know if there is room for corn in the corn bin and if there is room for beans in the bean bin.

Larry Folkerts delivers diesel and other liquid fuels to farmers. He knows that diesel and gas are different even though they are both liquid fuel measured in gallons. He does not put diesel in the gas barrel nor does he put gas in the diesel barrel. He does not mix them even though they are both liquid fuel measured in gallons. He doesn’t much care about the total liquid fuel he has on his truck. He cares about getting the right fuel in the right tank and worries that he has enough of each.. He does not compare diesel and gasoline. He understands they each have a specific use. He is smart.

After I’m done delivering grain Jodi Nordskog does the settlement. Jodi is careful not to pay soybean prices for corn. She knows that corn and beans are different. She will dock soybeans that have too much corn in them. She does not buy grain. She buys forms of grain and will reject a mixture of corn and soybeans even though the feed mill will mix them later to make hog feed. She knows that the standards for each grain are different. Unlike some energy analysts who try to apply standards for fossil fuels to bio fuel, she docks and pays according to the price and standards for that form of grain. She is smart.

Manager Randy Broesder oversees the whole operation. Randy too knows the difference between the abstract and the concrete. Unlike some energy analysts who apply fossil fuel energy standards to renewable energy, he makes sure that his employees apply the correct standards to each form of grain. He does not compare corn and soybeans even though he deals in both and sets his bid for each every day. He knows they are different. He does not do Grain Return on Grain Invested to try to determine if corn or soy is better for his operation . He is smart.

Next to elevator are the abandoned railroad tracks that a few years ago use to ship out corn 20 cars (100,000 bu.) at a time for export. Now the corn goes to local hog factories and ethanol plants.

This concludes my comments on renewable fuel infrastructure around here. Infrastructure matters.

It matters just as much for renewable energy as it does for fossil fuels.

Another day of 90-plus degrees heat and humidity here in the Windy City. Heavy thunderstorms predicted for tonight.

From NOAA Weather :-

"The record break streak of consecutive days with highs at or above 79 degrees in Chicago continues and is forecast to last through Tuesday or Wednesday. August 30th marks the 60th consecutive day with highs of at least 79 degrees, this breaks the previous record streak of days of 43 by over 2 weeks. Given the forecast for unseasonably warm temperatures to continue through midweek this number will continue to be broken."


Right now, I'm fighting powdery mildew on the pumpkins, squash and melons...

I picked a 74lb Carolina Cross watermelon this morning in southwest Wisconsin... I guess this crappy wx was good for something.

Here in the high desert above Reno NV we got our first frost this morning, though it will be 80F by this afternoon. We will know by this afternoon how bad it was. We got a late killing frost that took out the apple crop and delayed planting this spring and now an early frost (damn, damn, damn). Most of our tomatoes are still very green. Such is gardening above 5000 feet.

Here in Vancouver, BC, we have a winter-like weather system bringing steady moderate rain with a "toasty" temperature of 12C (54F). A look outside reveals a clear announcement of the upcoming cold-season storms, gift of the North Pacific. Aside from the gray gloom, the closing Autumn can be sensed all over the place: Leaves turing yellow, orange and red (when they are not simply browning), shrubs full of berries, gardens full of ripening pumpkins, and a softer, yellower light in the afternoons. We have had a fairly cool summer here--punctuated by a few sizzling heat waves--quite unlike the roaster that occurred in 2009. From the patio garden, this year's tomato harvest has been just half of last year's (so far), almost certainly due to the cooler temps in 2010.


Marin was more like Scotland this summer.
Green tomatoes, but all the cabbage family did well.

We got drenched under the same storm today when we took our little girl to the fair. Alas, it seems each year the fair has a little less, less displays of home grown and home produced goods, less farm animals, less booths, less attendance.

Our garden is a near total failure this year. It had dropped down into autumn temperatures- no corn, no beans, no tomatoes, even the winter squash didn't do its thing. The potatoes are small, the blueberries were skimpy. Only enough peas for one giant pot of my pea/sausage soup. Only the strawberries did well.

And one, sweet victory! This year we got our first harvest of nectarines, here where they are iffy to grow. Oh, eight of the juciest most delicious things ever. We sliced 'em up in cream for dessert....aaaaaahhhh:)

Maybe I should start looking for vegetable cultivars for 60 day growing season :(

I am sure we have had some sort of similar record here in AL but in our neck of the woods combined with drought. Despite watering my beans are making flowers but not making beans, or making very small one. My pumpkin vines are everywhere (Seminole Pumpkin especially suited to our climate) but just not making many pumpkins - I would say 1/4 to 1/3 of the normal crop. No mildew, just cracks in the ground despite mulch.

I wonder how much difference the letter grade ratings that the EPA is proposing for new vehicles will make.

EPA Letter Grade Announcement

U.S. Weighs Grades For Car Fuel Economy

It seems like people would already know whether they are driving a gas-guzzler. Having the gasoline cost savings (and how small it is) spelled out is not going to be a great selling point, it seems to me.

People buy Priuses because they are distinctive, and they can proclaim their "greenness" to the world. And I suppose Nissan "Leafs" will have this status, for quite a while. But I wonder if letter grades, that disappear as soon as the sticker is off the car, will matter for the rest of cars.

Letter grades are a useless gimmick. I think
dollar figures for how much gas expenditures
would be saved via alternatives would be much

Re: Climate 'sceptic' Bjørn Lomborg now believes global warming is one of world's greatest threats

What can one say, but: "It's about time he got with the (science) program". Looks like American colleges and universities are already seriously committed, at least, verbally (thanks, CM)...

E. Swanson

If true, it's a psychological blow to the skeptic community that one of their deep insiders has defected and gone to the other side.

He's been brought into the conspiracy. I wonder how much Soros bribed him. Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers have been spending so much on the Tea Party, and other desparate attempts to ensure the continued growth in the wealth of the top one percent of the population, that I fear they have neglected important aspects of the broader disinformation campaign.

For all its supposed resources, "the top one percent" seems to be clueless on the details of the expected energy situation.

Problem bank list climbs to 829

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The government's list of troubled banks hit its highest level since 1992 during the second quarter, although the pace of growth continued to slow, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Alabama schools turn to bank loans to operate

FORTUNE -- Alabama schools have been having a rough time of it, and it only looks like it's going to get rougher. The Cotton State recently came in last place in the federal Department of Education's Race to the Top grant competition. And a steadfast global recession combined with the Gulf Coast oil spill this summer have put a severe strain on the state's tax receipts, the primary source of revenue for Alabama's education system, forcing several school systems to take out private loans just to make it through the year.

I'm wondering if we will see inter-state "immigraton issues" where people from an economically weak state will start moving into economically well-to-do states? Almost like the way people from the farm-belts moved into cities in order to find jobs, different social lives, etc..

Eg, the Okie out-migration that occurred during the Great Depression? You'll know it's a problem when you begin to see reactions like the "anti-Okie" law California passed in 1937. Said law made it illegal to transport vagrants into California. Eventually ruled an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause.

Two of the justices wrote concurring opinions finding the law unconstitutional on different grounds, since they felt that classifying unpaid transport of human beings to be "commerce" was stretching that Clause too far. Lord knows what they would have thought of some of the things that are being classed as interstate commerce these days.

I think that's correct.
In fact, I think I might be seeing that happening in my part of Pennsylvania.
We haven't been hit anywhere near as hard in the Great Recession as many other parts of the country. The southeastern PA region has a diverse economy. Chester County still has a very good bond rating because it's a pretty affluent area. I have noticed that my rush hour traffic is every bit as heavy as it ever has been. Housing prices have declined a little bit, but no where near as much as other parts of the country. And the developers are still building. My county, Chester County, is still a largely rural (and quite beautiful) part of the country, but I think that is changing. More and more people are going to relocate (and ARE relocating) to this area in search of more stable jobs (even though they are getting harder and harder to find), more stable water supplies, greater proximity to food producing agricultural areas, the economic advantages of being near a major port system (Philadelphia, Baltimore), etc.

Frankly, this really sucks as far as I'm concerned. I don't want all these newcomers to relocate here:(

When potential buyers come around, start yelling, "DAMN FRACKING! That's the third time this week I need to buy a kitchen sink!"

I can say without a doubt that Texas is experiencing growth in population because our economy is doing better (key word better, it's all relative) than other states.

But it's not just out of staters...people from all around the world are coming to Texas.

DFW and Houston in particular are now international cities that have little relation culturally to the surrounding areas or the rest of America (if there even is such a quality as being "American" anymore)

Ay, there's the rub. It's precisely the strength of Texas that ensures it will become another California.

It's because of the unsustainability of this whole enterprise, not to mention the sprawl and general ugliness of the place that I plan to move far, far away from Texas.

Re: Alabama schools turn to bank loans to operate

The reference to the Race to the Top grant competition is interesting. A number of national experts on education policy have expressed surprise about the outcomes of the competitions. They point out that Western and Southern states have been largely shut out. Colorado, considered by many of them to have been a "lock" for a grant this time, finished 17th out of 19.

At least one of the problems seems to center on the amount of authority held by local school boards. The judges scoring the grant applications appear to strongly favor states where the local boards have relatively little power (and at least by implication, where the state government can dictate standards easily). Almost all states west of the Mississippi, and several in the Deep South, continue to leave most authority in the hands of the local school boards.

At least NJ was #1 in the 'best use of last year's data' category.



(such is life)

Re: Virginia Case Against Climate Researcher Is Rejected

One important point that didn't make it into the summary: the judge's finding was "without prejudice." That is, the judge found that the arguments in this request for a subpoena were inadequate, but that the Attorney General is free to try again. The AG has already announced that he will do so.

Degraded oil in Mississippi Sound tests positive for dispersants

Lumpy, degraded oil collected in the Mississippi Sound has tested positive for several of the main ingredients in the Corexit dispersant used in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to scientists working for a New Orleans-based lawyer.

Officials with the federal government and BP PLC have maintained throughout the oil spill that no dispersant products have been used near shorelines in Alabama or Mississippi.

Pemex Plans to Invest $269 Billion in Next 10 Years to Increase Oil Output

Pemex, as the company is known, should not have trouble having its planned investments approved by Congress and will spend about $27 billion a year over the next decade, CEO Juan Jose Suarez Coppel, said today at a conference in Mexico City.

Mexico sees big potential near Tsimin oil find

The side-by-side Tsimin and Xux discoveries are believed to hold the equivalent of 1.5 billion barrels of proved, probable and possible oil reserves said Manuel Teran, a Pemex engineer working on the discoveries, at a petroleum engineering conference this weekend.

When you put these two items together you can see the difference between wishes and reality. The planned expenditure is a 50% increase (and judging on past performance of Congress Pemex will have problems getting the money). The current rate of expenditure has resulted in a decline rate of about 200,000 barrels per day each year in recent years.

The new discoveries of 1.5 billion barrels of proved, probable and possible oil reserves are most likely to be far less, perhaps 500 million barrels (to be generous) which if it could be produced that fast would be less than two years of production at the current rate. Discoveries like this will only help to slow the decline in overall production as Cantarell continues in terminal decline.

About the only place left to find large undiscovered reserves in Mexico is the deep water gulf. Quite apart from Pemex not having the necessary expertise and money for deep water exploration, I'd doubt there's a whole lot of oil there to find. After all, no one is clamoring to drill deepwater prospects in South Texas, and the geology doesn't change radically at the border.

And you don't hear talk of $269 Billion spent on PV panels to produce 1.6TW per day.


Probably a place where you could see reports on PV power installed might be http://www.solarbuzz.com/

Michael Smith brings up issues of demand quite a bit in the excellent ASPO interviews; I like his views and outlook, which coincide with mine by and large, with demand and supply two sides of the same coin.

Last night I ran numbers on average 2010 US consumption, and total product supplied is up 444 kb/d from 2009. This is after -2031 kb/d of cumulative decline 2006-2009, leaving a gap of 1586 kb/d between current levels and the 2005 peak of 20802 kb/d. The 1978 peak in demand led to a 5 year decline, reaching 80.81% of the peak value in 1983. Contrast 2009 being 90.24% of the 2005 peak.

Here are the YOY diffs by stream. FMG=Finished Motor Gasoline, DFO=Distillate Fuel Oil, LPG=Liquified Petroleum Gases, KJF=Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel, P/P=Propane and Propylene, RFO=Residual Fuel Oil.

FMG    DFO      LPG     KJF     P/P    RFO     
54	60     -102	49	-47	55
94	51	22	-46	-14	-231
33	27	33	-11	20	34
-297	-251	-131	-83	-81	-101
-4	-313	66	-143	-8	-101
111	79	69	9	-55	-4

US demand grew 349 kb/d per year on average 1984-1989. 2006-2009 demand contracted 2031 kb/d, so about 6 years at the 80s growth rate would bring us back to 2005 levels. But demand may well spring back quicker than previously; little of the recent contraction was in gasoline: 2009 was only 96.75% of the peak 2007 level; contrast distillates, at 86.56% of 2007. Gasoline in 1982 was at 88.22% of its 1978 peak, and distillates 77.83%. This latter was in large part brought down by moving away from heating oil; more low hanging fruit. Now it's almost entirely diesel for shipping, and ostensibly the US will return to the glory days of a bustling economy with freeways full of trucks.

I also noticed this very interesting graph on my spreadsheet, which I've no doubt posted before somewhere:

US Gasoline Supplied LDV+Car Sales 1973-2009

In 1978-1982 vehicle sales plummeted, while gasoline supplied also declined. Obviously those were some big gains in fuel efficiency. We currently have an even more precipitous falloff in vehicle sales, but gasoline consumed remains robust. Perhaps coming years will see declines in gasoline consumption from CAFE, but this is difficult to assess owing to the much larger size of the vehicle fleet, among a host of other factors.

Why is US consumption down?

That is the important question.
In the '78-'82 time frame demand was obviously down because price was up.

In 2010 we are looking at oil prices that are running at sustained levels that haven't been seen before without impacting demand.

So why are the oil prices so high? Certainly that can't be because demand is down...

US consumption is local, while prices reflect global markets.

That's certainly part of the answer.

We can see a lot of the oil trade, and have reliable numbers for a significant percentage of production and consumption, but when it comes to the global balance between supply and demand we only have one variable in the micro-econ triad that is clearly visible to us: the price on the open market.

Since that price appears to have more upwards than downwards pressure on it I think we can safely assume that the past 5 years have been on average a sellers' market. Buyers want more oil than is being made available by the sellers, so buyers are being priced out of the market at intervals and buying in on the dips.

There are only two reasons why the sellers aren't making more oil available: can't and won't.
If they won't, they are being disciplined and holding out for the higher prices. The oil will come on the market eventually.
If they can't, we'll never see that oil because it doesn't exist.

Average Annual Expenditures of Households by Income, 2008, XLS file says that transportation was 17% of household expenditures on average across all income brackets. Of the 17%, it broke down with 5.5% for vehicle purchases, 5.4% for gas and oil, and 5.2% for other vehicle expense. I'd think that the latter is mainly for maintenance and insurance. Public transportation was only 1%.

Another reference said that about 35% of vehicle miles were for commuting, with the rest of the miles for personal business, shopping, social visits, vacations, etc.

The easiest way to cut back on gasoline expenses is to curtail non-commuting trips. Probably the second would be to car pool or take public transit.

On the othe hand, the easiest way to cutail transportation expenses is to defer purchasing a new vehicle or to change to leasing a less expensive car. Except for hybrids, a car with a lower new car price is likely to get better gas mileage.

But in the end, gasoline expenses are a small part of the household budget, which is why demand is so inelastic.

Rather than individuals reducing consumption due to high prices, the more likely outcome is that oil exporting countries will curtail supply because they have no use for any more US paper dollars. This will cause prices to spike worse than before, and rationing as in the '70s will ensue.

So the average American consumer of oil hasn't been priced out of the market yet.

No kidding. Poor Americans are sure using less if they can. Poorer people elsewhere are using even less or none at all.

Using the top quarter of the market for a product as an indicator of whether the market as a whole is under stress is not good observation. It isn't even good economics.

In re: "high" prices, I posted this on Rapier's blog the other day:

Robert Rapier said:

That leads me again and again to the question: How do you recover from a recession when oil prices are high and show no sign of abating? We could recover from recession if demand drops a bit more and takes oil prices down. But, what happens when we start to come out of the recession? We use more oil, and if there are supply constraints this will send prices right back into recession country.

Oil hit a local absolute peak of $36.93 in Feb 1981; in December of that year the recession began; 22 months later in Nov '82 it was $31.73, 80.04% of the peak price. May 2010 was 22 months after the corresponding local price peak of $123.24 obtained in June 2008; 80.04% of that figure would be $98.73, a difference of $29.25 from the actual of $69.48. Note that was in an era with massive oversupply from new oil, huge stock builds, and monstrous dropoffs in demand; by all rights the price should have quite quickly fell through the floor.

This suggests to me that something is tamping prices down now, or was defending a price floor then; or, conversly, that direct comparisions between the two eras aren't entirely apt, for whatever reason – greater severity of current recession, difference in carbon intensity of economies then and now, faulty data etc. But on a real numbers basis prices remained higher for much longer then, until completely crashing in '86.

I'm using the EIA F.O.B. Costs of Imported Crude Oil by Area for this, btw, since the numbers go all the way back to 1973, unlike so many EIA series which start in 1980 or thereabouts, right when things were changing in a big way.

The 1981 peak was nowhere near as dramatic as the 2008 peak.

The 2008 peak appears to have been a bubble on top of the fundamentals. But when bubbles pop they usually pop to well below the fundamental level.

We didn't break back below $50/bbl IIRC. After over a decade under $20/bbl suddenly we can't buy crude oil for twice that.

Prices are high, people have renormalized their expectations already if they don't see them as such.

Real prices in 1980 averaged $99.11 in June 2010 dollars. I'd call that pretty dramatic, the runup perhaps wasn't as sharp, but it was still a drag on the economy for years, in a more carbon intensive environment too. Historical Crude Oil Prices Table

Dec 23 2008 WTI price was $30.28/bbl. I'd call that overshooting fundamentals, since it was obviously just an absolute low corresponding to the June high, as we show no signs of revisiting those lows, unless you're a Peter Beutel fan that is.

For 2008 transportation was 16.65% of average annual expenditure of household income. DOE has some historical perspective: Vehicle Technologies Program: Fact #565: April 6, 2009 Household Gasoline Expenditures by Income. Might make a good post in its own rite.

So why are the oil prices so high? Certainly that can't be because demand is down...

Because it is quoted in US dollars, not Yuan.
The only reason the US dollar is not worth ten cents is because foreign countries have mattresses stuffed with the paper, so they are unwilling to tell anyone that they are worthless.

China is buying* Australian farmland with mattress stuffing before the little boy shouts
"The Emporor has no cloths. He is nikked."


Perhaps coming years will see declines in gasoline consumption from CAFE, but this is difficult to assess owing to the much larger size of the vehicle fleet, among a host of other factors.

If people are not purchasing new cars, then I predict declines in gasoline consumption will not be very much.

As long as people can get to work by keeping their older cars running, they will probably do so. Since they will have no monthly new car loan payment, and their car insurance is also lower for an older car, there is no financial incentive for them to get a better mpg car.

If things get really bad, where people are unemployed, then gasoline consumption will probably plummet.

People are unemployed, and gasoline consumption has declined; do you mean permanently out of work? The massive decline in sales didn't bring things completely down to zero either, we have 6,664,124 cumulative sales this year, an increase of 14.8% over 2009. 1982/83 showed 14.1%/14.5% increases, after 4 years of declines which were initially quite steep and then bottomed out. This historical example can give us insight into how things will pan out in the coming decade, barring a catastrophic economic unwind of some nature, China going through a severe recession, say, which I by no means dismiss as a possibility, btw.

Hurricane Earl may test IT teleworkers

If Hurricane Earl, now a major hurricane, hits the East Coast of the U.S. later this week, the top concern for IT executives may not be data center outages but loss of Internet access for telecommuting workers.

Forecasters say the storm could possibly hit land somewhere between the Carolinas and New England sometime before the start of Labor Day weekend.

Critical data centers, with backup generators, facilities and fuel supplies, are now built to continue operating during storms. The same can't be said for the computing setups that telecommuters maintain in their homes, and they may be put to the test this year.

Here is an item of interest:
Medical nanotech could find unconventional oil.
find the article here:

Study by German Army warns of Dramatic Oil Crisis (Google translation) /
(Original German)

The topic is so politically explosive that it is remarkable when an institution like the army even uses the term Peak Oil. But a study by the army, posted on various blogs, goes much further.

The department of future analysis - a think tank that is part of the 'Center for Transformation' of the Bundeswehr - for the first time analyzes the security dimension of the Peak Oil problem. The authors lead by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will describe the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials in dramatic terms. They warn of shifts in the global balance of power, of new "dependency relationships", of a loss of importance of western industrial nations, of a "complete market failure", of serious political and economic crises.

The draft study (Aug 2010) was first published on a German peak oil website a few weeks ago (Original German) / (Google translation) The study can be downloaded here (German, pdf). Contains graphics by TOD writers Sam Foucher, Gail.

Choice quotes and conclusions:

  • "Oil becomes a crucial factor of shaping international relations": scarcity leads to a deliberalization of oil markets which in turn leads to more bilateral supply relationships. A window of opportunity opens for oil-exporting nations to pursue their economic, political, and ideological goals in regard to industrialized [importing] nations.
  • Western foreign policy (e.g. towards Africa, MidEast) will have to become more "pragmatic" -- China et al. are already "pragmatic" and therefore better positioned. "Military interventions will become more selective - actors are overstrained". A new focus on one's own problems.
  • "The transformation to a post-fossil-fuel society leads to economic and political crises": unemployment, food scarcity, less market-based distribution of oil products (rationing). Ultimately there is a "loss of trust" in public and governmental institutions which will possibly lead to more extremism and fragmentation on a national and international level.
  • "Systemic risk of a 'Tipping Point'":
    In the short term, oil production decline leads to reduced economic activity and trade. Loss of income for some actors, loss of livelihood for others. National budgets come under extreme pressure because of reduced tax revenue and higher spending on unemployment, food, and alternatives to oil.

    "In the medium term, the global economic system and every market-based economy breaks down. [...] Tipping Point: In an economy that is shrinking for the foreseeable future, savings are not invested anymore [...] banking sytem, stock markets, financial markets collapse [...] a completely new system status [...] Banks lose their reason to exist... since they can't earn interest [...] Loss of trust in currencies [...] Collapse of [international] value chains. Mass unemployment [...] National bankruptcies [...] Breakdown of critical infrastructure [...] Famines [...]

    It is probable that a high number of nations will not be able to make necessary investments in a timely and adequate manner. A high systemic risk is a given regardless of Germany's own energy policy because of its high grade of globalization."

  • "Even if society's faith in market-based systems is big, its understanding of complex matters small, and its assumption of rational economic actors questionable, one can expect [...] uncertainty to give way to the realization that a critical point has been passed."

Nothing really new for TOD readers but the "bad news" are starting to drip through the media to the public.

This is a big story in Germany…

It is also mentioned in Welt, one of the main newspapers:


An expansion of the US Joint Chief's of Staff warning in JOE2010 (pg 23 or 24 in red & white)


Best Hopes for Awareness leading to action,


Retirement Haven Hunts Youthful Violators

The economy is driving a lot of people to move in with grandma. Even though grandma lives in a retirement community.

Palisadoes wastefulness(Letter to the editor)

I have to confess I am extremely puzzled by the rationale of the Government in deciding to build a four-lane highway on the Palisadoes Road. The Government is floundering in deep financial worries, faced with the dilemma of the plight of the teachers, the police and the nurses (which, to date, they seem helpless to alleviate), and the condition of many of the roads in our major cities, plus others in deplorable conditions in rural areas, to the point where farmers cannot even get their goods to market.

The Palisadoes Road being referred to is a stretch of road about 3 miles long that is the only route to the international airport in Kingston Jamaica. The road and the airport are on a sand spit that forms a barrier for the Kingston harbor (to see the area in Google maps go to the following URL http://maps.google.com/?q=17.944015,-76.731039&spn=.01,.01&t=h).

One spot on the road in particular has been covered by the sea by an inch or so when the sea levels were particularly high some time ago and the google map URL I provided centers the map at the point where IIRC I have seen this happen. Apart from this occasional intrusion of sea water on to the road the current two lane road is quite adequate, that is, there has never been a traffic congestion problem on that stretch of road AFAIK (even with a inch or so of sea water covering the road for 20 yards give or take a few). If the Peak Oil doomers are right, this US$65 million project is going to provide a beatiful four lane roadway to an airport that is experiencing declining traffic. If the Climate Change doomers are right, this road may well end up leading to an airport whoose runway is below the new high tide mark in a couple of decades time.

Here again we have serious decisions being taken by policy makers who are being guided by the rosy forecasts of the EIA/IEA/CERA et al. In addition to that, the climate change denial industry is telling them that this AGW stuff is a load of hogwash so, not to worry about forecasts of sea level rise. I commented on the story, pointing to the double hazards of Peak Oil and Sea Level Rise but, I guess the moderator thought I was some crazy, doomer nutcase so, the top comment is some BAU, optimist type who writes:

Yes the place will look better. And what's wrong with that? Why do you think that everything in Jamaica must look one way - old, rundown, dilapidated and 19th century? And apart from the aesthetics, it is a very practical move, considering plans to redevelop downtown Kingston and the continuing efforts to turn Kingston into a tourist destination.

Why is it that us doomer types can't just forget about Peak Oil and Climate Change? In the words of BP's Tony Hayward, "I'd like my life back" but, I'm afraid my analysis of the data I have seen on web sites like this one won't allow me. Is it better to live in blissful ignorance or suffer with the expectation of impending doom that seems to be happening like a very slow motion train wreck?

Alan from the islands

It sounds like a political 'pork barrel' project. Likely some legislators are making money on the deal.

My spouse and I visited a friend in Kingston back in the 90s. We raised a pint or two at the Oxford 2 club in Harborside. The folks there were very friendly and eager to tell us how corrupt the government is. PJ Patterson was the Prime Minister then, and I think he was in office for a long time.

I remember well how hard the plane had to brake when it landed. The runway there is about as short as one can get, I suspect, and still be an international airport.

Thank you for sharing. I think this project is not so unique and we have similar stories here in the States. It will be interesting to see what will happen, but we can speculate. The road will obviously get built, and it will get used of course when it is done. Like you said, traffic will decrease overtime and it is very likely that the first schedule maintenance will not get funded. Consequently, the road will be left to fend for itself. It will continue to deteriorate perhaps in 15 to 20 years albeit very slowly given the light traffic. Perhaps in 20 to 30 years, the road will be used for something else e.g. walkway for a market bazaar. When sea level does indeed rise to submerge part of the runway, very few inhabitants will even notice much less care.

Here in America, I see the whole of suburbia decaying or reverting back to nature in decades time, because the energy it takes just to maintain it is more than we can possibly afford.

China, Japan to head 'golden age for Asia'

Japan should make the best of China's rapid development and forge ahead with greater cooperation, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, told Japanese media on Monday.
Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Japan, said in his keynote speech that China and Japan should be able to complement each other in economic development. The two countries should deepen cooperation especially in the areas of energy efficiency, environmental protection, climate change, the green economy and disaster prevention and reduction, Cheng said.

One of the many conditions pre-empting the disaster scenarios of peak oil doomsters is the existence of diverse types of social organization, including political and economic institutions, around the world. There are governments who not only appreciate informed reasoning, but are actually able to proceed on its basis.

Because of this, and because of the speed at which information is disseminated today, even states cursed by the prevalence of anti-enlightenment prejudices will eventually benefit from the experimentation permitted by diversity in social organization.

There are governments who not only appreciate informed reasoning, but are actually able to proceed on its basis.

Wow! What a concept. Who owns the intellectual property rights on it? Wouldn't want to risk being sued for infringing on someones IP would we? Besides the idea is unAmerican.

Well that's nice. Two best buddies entering a "golden age" together.

I never realized how cute collapse could be ;)

Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

Swiss boffins have mounted an investigation into the largely unknown environmental burdens of electric cars using lithium-ion batteries, and say that the manufacturing and disposal of batteries presents no insurmountable barriers to electric motoring. However, their analysis reveals that modern diesel cars are actually better for the environment than battery ones.

The revelations come in a new report issued by Swiss government research lab EMPA, titled Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles. The Swiss boffins, having done some major research into the environmental burdens of making and disposing of li-ion batteries - to add to the established bodies of work on existing cars - say that battery manufacture and disposal aren't that big a deal. However, in today's world, with electricity often made by burning coal or gas, a battery car is still a noticeable eco burden:

The main finding of this study is that the impact of a Li-ion battery used in [a battery-powered car] for transport service is relatively small. In contrast, it is the operation phase that remains the dominant contributor to the environmental burden caused by transport service as long as the electricity for the [battery car] is not produced by renewable hydropower ...
A break even analysis shows that an [internal combustion engined vehicle] would need to consume less than 3.9 L/100km to cause lower [environmental impacts] than a [battery car] ... Consumptions in this range are achieved by some small and very efficient diesel [cars], for example, from Ford and Volkswagen.

Or one can rephrase that into:

Most diesel cars today, after many years of technical development, are still worse reagrding fuel consumption than the first "new-era" electric cars arriving on market. An advance in these electric cars the next couple of years should increase their environmental and efficiency advantages.

Further an electric car is less dependant on oil as a resource to drive.

Headlines headlines headlines... no agenda here at all....

Thousands of acres of farmland removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants.


Noted anti-global-warming scientist reverses course


"Noted anti-global-warming scientist"

No, no, no, no. Lomborg is a political scientist, not a real scientist.

Science is about method, not subject matter.

Where does poly sci use the scientific method?

Population surveying comes to mind, given that it is all about testing hypotheses, and constantly questioning the validity of methods. Inductive reasoning is at the core of the social sciences. Because the subject matter is human behaviour, and not the behaviour of rocks or grasshoppers, does not invalidate the validity of the science.