Drumbeat: September 2, 2010

John Michael Greer - Green Wizardry: A response to Rob Hopkins

Rob Hopkins is a smart guy, and even though he’s garbled a fair number of the details, his post raises useful points regarding some of the core issues I’ve tried to bring up in the Green Wizards posts.

The first of those is that one of the motivations behind the Green Wizards project is a recognition of the limitations of the Transition Towns project. I’ve discussed my concerns about that movement on several occasions on this blog, and don’t see any need to repeat those comments just now. The crucial point, though, is one that Hopkins himself cheerfully admits: that neither he nor anyone else in the movement can be sure that it will accomplish what it’s trying to accomplish.

That’s a bold statement, and one that’s worthy of respect. Still, it has implications I’m not sure Hopkins has followed as far as they deserve. If the difficult future ahead of us can’t be known well enough to tell in advance what strategies will best deal with it, in particular, it seems to me that it’s a serious mistake to put all our eggs in one basket, whether it’s the one labeled "Transition" or any other.

Peak Oil Modelling

Oil is clearly a finite resource. It would follow then, that the key issue surrounding discussions of peak production is not whether we will reach a point of maximum global production followed by steady declines, but rather the timing of the peak and the rate of post peak decline. The research carries with a wide range of answers to these questions.

‘Green’ cannot be America’s only goal

Future-Dated Jan. 1, 2072.

The downfall of the U.S. can be traced to a crippling shortage of available energy supplies.

There were other factors: Uncontrolled government spending, and more people living off the government than those paying to support it. And sudden, frenzied worship of the environment, right up to the day we deprived ourselves of the ability to wrest a living from it.

The nation ground to a halt when her cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes, boats and power plants all ran out of fuel. Without transport the nation's massive urban centers had no food. The stench of uncollected garbage and unburied bodies filled the air and mixed with the smoke of uncontrolled fires. Without fire engines the firemen couldn't reach the fires and without fuel the pumps were useless.

Analysis: Global Jackup Report Card

Industry consensus among offshore drillers points to stability in the jackup market over the remainder of 2010. Eight months into the year, global jackup utilization of 80% is exactly where we started the year. Utilization has been helped by the strong demand for high-spec jackups as lesser capable rigs have faced their share of headwinds.

Deepwater Drilling Moratorium Hits Louisiana Hard

Both Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana say the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- put in place after the BP oil spill -- is now that state's biggest problem. US federal government officials and many environmental activists say the temporary ban on drilling is necessary to prevent further accidents. But people in the Gulf region are worried that many of the well-paying jobs provided by the energy industry might leave and never come back.

Landowners Shout `Bingo' as West Australia's Mining Towns Boom

The housing shortage in a region that’s one of the world’s biggest suppliers of iron ore and natural gas is driving up costs for companies such as Chevron Corp. and BHP Billiton Ltd. as they mine raw materials to feed China’s industrialization. Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, was forced to lease seven-year-old cruise liner MS Finnmarken to house 350 workers at its A$43 billion Gorgon gas project.

How China Could Avert a Water Crisis Without Uprooting 330,000 People

Water needs in the North have forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes as dams expand, but an innovative desalinization solution could spare them.

Saudi Aramco extends bids for Wasit gas plant

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco has extended the closing date for bids to build the kingdom's largest gas plant, industry sources said on Thursday.

The due date to submit bids for the onshore packages has been pushed to Oct. 24 from a September deadline, sources said.

The Politics of Power Cuts in Egypt

Are Mubarak's Gas Sales to Israel Partly to Blame?

Power to the people

Technology and development: A growing number of initiatives are promoting bottom-up ways to deliver energy to the world’s poor.

Electric car upswing would crash grid: Toronto Hydro chief

“If you connect about 10 per cent of the homes on any given street with an electric car, the electricity system fails,” Haines told an audience at Ryerson University Wednesday. “It basically can’t handle that load.”

What to do? That’s part of the reason why Toronto Hydro, Hydro One and the Ontario Power Authority have pledged a total of $7 million over the next five years to kick-start Ryerson’s new Centre for Urban Energy.

Americans in the dark about energy use

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans aren't known for their energy-thrift ways. Maybe that's because they have little idea as to how much energy things use.

While people are generally able to rank items according to energy use - i.e. the dryer uses more than the toaster - they are way off the mark when it comes to gauging by just how much, according to a recent study from researchers at Columbia University and elsewhere.

Example: Most people knew that a laptop computer uses less energy than a desktop. But few knew the lap used one-third the amount.

Eco-author baffled by a violent fan

The "Ishmael" books are aimed at encouraging radical social change — but their author says hostage-taking is definitely not the change he had in mind.

Canada thirsty for new water ethic

In a single generation, Canada has evolved from a from a nation that took great pride in its citizens' ability to drink from almost any river, stream or lake in the country, to one seriously concerned about water quality and availability now and in the future.

Growing Community Food Systems

Food systems can be a very powerful tool for resilience. In a revolutionary way, you can completely trasform things without people realizing what's happening--they are aware, but it just makes intuitive sense this way. It's also not about just going out and fighting the proverbial "man," or continuing an academic dialogue about what could happen or should happen; you don't have time for this because you've got a lot to do.

So instead of having people just being oppositional and trying to get someone else to make the changes, you have people who are assets to their community, who are making the transformation happen themselves (but being oppositional when they need to be).

The miracle of the cerrado

Brazil has revolutionised its own farms. Can it do the same for others?

Transition group plans community dinner

HONESDALE, PA — A newly formed group in Honesdale is holding a “Creating Community” potluck dinner on Saturday, September 11 at the Parish House of Grace Episcopal Church at 9th and Church Street in Honesdale from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Everyone’s invited,” said Barbara Lewis, who is helping to spearhead this new local initiative.

The group, which calls itself Transition Honesdale, is inviting individuals and groups who wish to be a part of efforts to raise awareness of sustainable living and the need to build local ecological resilience. It encourages the community to seek out methods of reducing energy usage and dependence on fossil fuels and avoid purchasing products that are shipped over thousands of miles. In many communities, for example, the Transition Towns movement has led to the establishment of community gardens to produce local food and to the development of canning skills.

Post Carbon Exchange #3: Richard Gilbert & David Bragdon

RICHARD GILBERT and DAVID BRAGDON discuss the future of transportation systems as we near the end of cheap oil. What are the solutions? How will we get there? Are we facing the end of the internal combustion engine?

Judge rules against U.S. government on oil drilling

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the U.S. government's request to dismiss an industry lawsuit challenging its deepwater oil and gas drilling moratorium, dealing another blow to the Obama administration.

Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc and other drilling companies sued the administration on June 7 after it first ordered a halt to deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following BP Plc's well rupture that killed 11 workers and caused the world's worst offshore oil spill.

As a result of Louisiana-based Hornbeck's lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans blocked implementation of the drilling ban on June 22.

Oil Trades Below $74 After Falling on Bigger-Than-Forecast Supply Increase

Oil declined as equity indexes slipped and traders waited for signs whether the European Central Bank will extend emergency lending.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet may signal at a rate meeting today that policy makers will keep offering unlimited cash to financial institutions through the end of the year. A U.S. government report yesterday showed crude stockpiles increased almost three times more than analysts forecast.

“There are still fears about a double-dip recession in the U.S,” said Roland Stenzel, a crude and carbon trader at E&T Energie Handelsgesellschaft mbH, said from Vienna.

DOE Update: U.S. Crude Oil Production Hits 6-Year High

U.S. crude oil production increased 1.7% from last week. Year-to-date oil output is up 3.8% from the year ago period. Production is now at the highest level since April 2004.

Russia output eases back

Oil output in Russia fell by 0.8% in August from an all-time high reached in July, to hit a seven-month low, the Energy Ministry said today.

Qatari Oil Rises on Japan's Record Low Kerosene Supplies

Qatar Marine crude is trading at the highest level in four weeks versus its official selling price as Japanese refiners replenish supplies of kerosene for heating and Saudi Arabia cuts shipments of similar grades.

Qatar Marine for loading in October jumped on Aug. 23 to a premium of 5 cents a barrel relative to the benchmark producer prices, compared with a discount of 8 cents the previous week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The kerosene-rich blend has traded at an average of 9 cents below its official selling price during the past year.

Cuban offshore oil plans gain momentum

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- While the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has sparked debate in America on the merits of deepwater drilling, 90 miles away Cuba's offshore plans are quietly taking shape.

The country aims to drill seven exploration wells in its share of the Gulf of Mexico by 2014, according to American oil experts who recently met with Cuba's state oil monopoly Cupet and regulatory officials.

Norway offshore on course for record spend

Statistics Norway said today that oil and gas investments - the core driver of Norway's economic growth - were on track to set a new record high next year.

Petrobras to Buy Oil From Brazil for $42.5 Billion in Stock

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Latin America’s largest company by market value, agreed to pay the Brazilian government $42.5 billion in new stock for the right to develop 5 billion barrels of offshore oil reserves.

Petrobras, as the state-run company is known, will pay an average of $8.51 a barrel for the oil after almost two weeks of negotiations with the government, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. More than half the oil will come from the Franco field in the offshore Santos Basin, the company said.

Russia to supply 70% of oil to JV in China

Russia will supply about 70 percent of oil at market prices for a proposed joint refinery between Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), Reuters said Thursday, citing a Russian news agency.

Gazprom rides high

Russian gas giant Gazprom saw its profit for the first quarter of the year more than triple on the back of a foreign exchange gain, adding it had cut its net debt by more than 30%.

Statoil CEO Says Canadian Oil Sands `Attractive' at Current Crude Prices

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest energy company, said oil sands are attractive at current crude price levels and the company is working on bringing costs down to proceed with its investments in Canada.

“We’ve had a market lately that has made that type of oil attractive,” Chief Executive Helge Lund said today in an Oslo interview. “Of course the problem two, three years ago with Canada was the costs.”

Weak Laws Bother Iraq Investors More Than Violence as U.S. Goes

Ahmed Jamal says it isn’t primarily Iraq’s violence that deters his company from investing in the country. It is its weak business laws.

“We don’t have factories or warehouses or anything like that,” said Jamal, regional sales manager for Istanbul-based beverage distributor Hayat Su, which brings bottled water to Iraq in trucks and works through a local representative. “The investment laws are not suitable.”

BP to remove equipment at Gulf well by Sunday

HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP Plc expects to remove a failed blowout preventer atop its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well by Saturday or Sunday and later plug the leak for good, the top U.S. official overseeing the spill response said on Wednesday.

"We believe in the next 24 to 36 hours, we will enter a weather window that will allow us to proceed," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said at a briefing in Houston.

BP Tripled Ad Spending After Spill

It will come as little surprise to newspaper readers and television watchers, but BP significantly increased its spending on advertising after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. BP spent $93.4 million on newspaper, magazine, television and Internet advertising in the three months after the disaster, three times what it spent in the comparable period in 2009, the company reported to Congress.

War of the wells

But like many communities in Montana, we may soon share our backyard with a new set of neighbors, and the changes these folks bring will not be so benign. Until recently, the oil and gas industry has been the source of horror stories from Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico: the names of towns like Pinedale, Rifle and Farmington have become shorthand for cautionary tales told with a "thank-God-it's-not-us" undertone.

Australian leader acquires Aboriginal land

The leader of Australia's resources-rich western province has been accused of 'another invasion' by forcibly acquiring coastal land slated for return to native tribes to build a gas plant.

Colin Barnett, premier of Western Australia state, today said he had started formal proceedings to take the land for Woodside's Browse liquefied natural gas precinct at James Price Point.

Cairn Greenland ops resume after Greenpeace protest

LONDON (AFP) – Scottish oil exploration group Cairn Energy said Thursday it had resumed operations on a rig off the coast of Greenland after Greenpeace ended a protest.

What a misanthropic bunch of stunts

Figures published by the US Geological Survey in 2008 estimated that there are 90 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic as a whole, enough to provide for the entire world’s current oil consumption for about a year. Of this, about 50 billion barrels may be found around Greenland. Given that Greenland is the biggest island in the world (assuming Australia is a continent), yet has a population of just 56,000, this could be an enormous windfall both for the local communities and for Denmark, which has formal control over the territory.

No wonder that Greenland’s prime minister, Kuupik Kleist, is less than impressed by Greenpeace’s protest: ‘Greenpeace has once again succeeded in impeding Greenland’s opportunities to secure the economic foundation for its people’s condition of life. The Greenland government regards the Greenpeace action as being a very grave and illegal attack on Greenland’s constitutional rights. It is highly disturbing that Greenpeace, in its chase on media attention, breaks the safety regulations put in place to protect people and the environment.’

Will we ever get off oil?

There's been a lot of talk about oil this summer. Most of it bad. Devastating, record-setting leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and in Michigan's Kalamazoo River underscored, once again, the danger of our dependence on crude. Seductively efficient and still relatively cheap, oil provides nearly 40 percent of America's power. But it's also a finite resource that presents a very real threat to our environment, economy, security, and health. Given the growing risks and the shrinking reserves, there must be loads of people out there -- experts from government, corporations, academia, and the like -- hatching plans for a cleaner, safer, post-oil world, right? We asked our expert panel to explain where we are in oil's troubled lifespan, and whether and how we'll ever wean the world off its current fossil fuel of choice.

Peak Oil And The German Government - Military Study Warns Of Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis

A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document - leaked on the Internet - shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.

The dirty topic of peak oil: get ready to reduce your reliance

Wouldn’t it be funny if we spent so long arguing about what to do about climate change that we ran out of cheap oil first? No, it wouldn’t really, it would be catastrophic.

But given the government’s delay in producing an Energy White Paper and the steady backsliding on the need to actually reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, it is not beyond the realms of possibility. Even the usually optimistic International Energy Agency (IEA) is starting to sound a little nervous.

How Malthus drove the Discovery Channel gunman crazy: The greatest pessimist in economic history has been wrong for 200 years, but he's still freaking people out

Among the demands of James Lee, the deranged gunman who rampaged through the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Washington, D.C., before being shot and killed late Wednesday afternoon, was a request that the TV network "develop shows that mention the Malthusian sciences about how food production leads to the overpopulation of the Human race."

Insane, but perhaps not quite as kooky as it might initially seem. Because when choosing crazy-making prophets of doom and destruction as your inspiration, you could do a lot worse than the late 18th-century economist Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus.

New report shows state highways in good shape

A new report on the condition of the USA's state highways finds that they are in the best shape they have been in nearly 20 years.

The annual study by the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based, libertarian, non-profit think tank, credits road improvement progress man by states and decreased wear and tear as commuters and commercial truckers drove less during the recession.

Canada's Renewable-Fuel Regulations Completed, to Take Effect on Dec. 15

Canada said it completed regulations that will require an average renewable-fuel content of 5 percent in gasoline as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The rules will take effect Dec. 15, the government said in an e-mailed announcement today.

GM moves to trademark 'Range anxiety'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you're thinking about buying an electric car but you're worried about getting stuck someplace when the battery runs out, General Motors has a two words for that.

"Range anxiety."

The automaker has filed for a trademark on the term. Range anxiety is a major reason car shoppers say they would avoid buying an electric car.

Chevy Volt, Electric Revolution? Or Outta Gas?

The first thing I noticed driving the Chevrolet Volt is that it’s a real car. GM did not kick out the kind of street-legal version of a golf cart like we have seen with previous attempts at making an electric car. The Volt is sturdy and it has horsepower. I had it up to 80 MPH on the test track and given how quiet gasoline powered cars are today, I was hard pressed to notice a difference between the Volt and my last airport rental.

Desertec solar hopes cloud over as support starts to waver

It has been one step forward, two steps back this year for the Desertec solar project, which aims to source 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity supply from the MENA region’s deserts by 2050.

A significant piece of good news for the ambitious €400 billion (Dh1.87 trillion) scheme came in April, when one of its members, Germany’s Solar Millennium, said its 150 megawatt Kuraymat project in Egypt was nearing completion and could serve as a template for other north African solar farms.

Then came the bad news with Algeria’s decision last month not to participate in the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which was formally launched last year by a group of 12 European companies, mostly from Germany. On Monday, Paul van Son, the director of the group, said he was now also concerned about declining German government support for the project.

Fresh Air for Sale, in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — ‘‘Do your feeble breathing skills let you down? Does standing up tire you out?’’ The answer: Buy a breath or two of ‘‘Fresh Air’’ — the ‘‘revolutionary new product’’ that lets you experience breathing ‘‘like the rest of the world does.’’

...‘‘Fresh Air’’ is the new campaign tool of Hong Kong’s Clean Air Network, a nongovernmental group that promotes awareness of, you guessed it, the wretched air quality in this city of seven million.

Green roofs offer antidote to urban heat island effect, say researchers

Researchers at Columbia University have demonstrated that a layer of plants and earth can cut the rate of heat absorption through the roof of a building in summer by 84%.

Welsh biochar facility opens up carbon possibilities for farmers

WALES is set to benefit from a new £180,000 biochar facility which may transform the way the country tackles climate change.

Aberystwyth University is installing a biomass waste recycling unit designed to produce biochar – a charcoal-like substance – that can be used to improve soil fertility and raise agricultural productivity.

How bad are the next few years going to suck?

The hot question in green circles these days is, "what next?" For the last decade, strategy has been built around getting a federal climate bill that would place a cap on carbon emissions. That attempt was supposed to culminate in success this year, but it didn't, so ... what next?

There will be much to say along those lines in coming months. I hope to share words of inspiration and uplift, to stir minds with insight and hearts with passion. To tell great tales of green pastures to come and the heroes who will sail the fleet of righteousness to the golden shores of, uh, the pastures. Just real quick, though, I need to be depressed as hell for a minute.

Prince Charles urges people to wear old clothes

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has urged people to wear more old and recycled clothes, and natural fabrics like him so as to help reduce the world's carbon footprint and halt climate change. In an article for this month's 'Vogue' magazine, he wrote about his passion for reusing and repairing things. "On the whole, the older some things are, the more comfortable and familiar they become; they can even be adapted to look new in a different context."

Climate funds shouldn't divert poverty aid, UN says

The U.N.’s climate chief says poor countries are right to expect that any funding they receive to combat global warming be kept separate from development aid or poverty relief.

Climate change 'driving a new industrial revolution'

Climate change is driving a new industrial revolution that will reward creative thinking and early investment in green technologies, British economist Nicholas Stern says.

The former World Bank president warned high-emitting countries that fell behind in this global ''green race'' to transition to a low-carbon economy could face future trade barriers.

6 global warming skeptics who changed their minds

With 2010 shaping up as the warmest year on record and unprecedented heat waves gripping the planet, global warming skeptics have suffered another blow with the defection of the "most high-profile" member of their camp, author Bjorn Lomborg. But Lomborg isn't the first doubter to accept the scientific consensus that human carbon emissions are warming the planet and need to be curtailed. Here, a review of several prominent cases:

Report: Climate change threatens historic Jamestown, Va.

Human-caused climate change threatens to flood Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement in what became the American colonies and the United States, says a report Wednesday by environmental groups.

Jamestown Island, the site of the original 1607 settlement, is low enough to be inundated by rising seas and tidal waters -- even if the waters do not rise as much by 2100 as scientists predict, according to the report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

Al Gore announces appointing experts to study Pakistan floods

ISLAMABAD (APP): President Asif Ali Zardari and Former US vice president Al Gore held a telephonic conversation on Thursday to discuss the situation of recent floods in Pakistan and its possible linkage with the climate change.President Zardari while discussing the causes of floods indicated that the factor of climate change and its impact should also be examined in this regard. He said the international community must take this environmental subject seriously so that solutions could be found out for the overall betterment of the world.

Climate change puts China harvests at risk

PARIS (AFP) – Climate change could reduce key harvests in China by a fifth if the gloomiest scenarios prove true, according to a study on Wednesday.

Publishing in the journal Nature, a team of Chinese scientists say China's climate "has clearly warmed" over the past half century, gaining 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1960.

For those following Earl's progress and its projected path, the Sailing Weather website is temporarily waiving the access fees to its services. You can view their animation at: http://www.sailwx.com/HURRICANE-bin/modeldata. The situation for New England is looking a tad less rosy at this time.


Ouch !! headed right at me. Nice link.
Thanks Paul !!

Don in Maine

Hopefully Earl will track to the left and stall over wall street for a few days as a tornado :)

Joking aside, Earl is looking pretty scary though and if it tracks even a little to the left then there's going to be some heavy damage:

You're welcome, Don. Button down tight and, if you can, give us an update on how you're doing as Earl moves through your area; those of us further north will appreciate the feedback.

Best of luck to you, Bob and all your fellow Mainers.


Thanks, Paul. Same to you.


Still looks like a Category 2 once it reaches the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy.

Boston weather update:

The track is tight and a slight variation could make life messy for New Englanders.

Stay safe.

Yup, same back at ya Paul, keep an eye on that track.

We're pretty buttoned down normally. Generator was serviced in June, one pull and she starts right up. Have 30 gals of treated gas on hand always, as well as a full propane pig and numerous gas grill type cylinders full.

Deep cycle battery banks are always trickle charged as long as the grid is up, inverter switches to
battery whenever we lose power. All our com gear is powered from the battery bank including the sat. internet feed. ( Got a spare dish stored just in case the wind is really bad ) So with any luck we can keep you posted if it does head this way, looks right now like tropical storm conditions no matter what, and some pretty high winds from that link you posted.

Chain saws are freshly fueled and sharp. House is down slope facing somewhat east of south so it's well sheltered (works great for winter winds as well).

Not sure what a bunch of water and high winds are going to do to some of our large trees, it's been a very dry summer so I can envision losing a few.

Food's no problem this time of year, can't eat and can what the gardens are producing fast enough anyway.. I expect we'll lose some of the plants though, winter squash, sunflowers, etc, anything big enough for the wind to catch, root crops will be fine.

Local boatyard is overwhelmed with calls to pull boats, they're going to be working straight thru until the weather gets too bad and will still not get everything they've been asked to haul out of the water.

I know it sounds funny but I get just as excited as a small kid, I actually enjoy weather like this
makes me feel alive, small and insignificant, but alive.

Do your prep and sit back and enjoy !!

Don in Maine

Sounds like you're in good shape, Don. I noticed quite a few boat trailers whizzing by the house earlier today (there's a marina just down the road from us). They've started pulling up the docks to hopefully avoid any damage like last time. We're at the far end of a deep sheltered harbour, but when Juan hit sail boats broke free of their moorings and were tossed about like Tonka toys.


I use to look forward to hurricane season. The tropical storms would bring breezy rainy relief to the otherwise dry weather of late summer. Not any more. Juan knocked the enthusiasm out of the average Nova Scotian. It did a tremendous amount of property damage.


The trees that graced the streets and parks of the old city of Halifax were simply gone forever.



Boats were smashed like eggs.


The energy released by one of these storms is simply mind-boggling.



Seven people died and what surprised almost everybody was why there wasn't more.

It has a way of catching one's attention and engendering a deep respect for the forces of nature. When the word comes to get out of the way, you get out its way.

Hi Paul,

The good news at this hour is that Earl has been downgraded to a Category 3.

The bad news is that it is continuing along its path in this direction.

The eye is projected to follow the Nova Scotia coastline of the Bay of Fundy over the course of Saturday morning with it moving overhead here (Hants County) by noon hour.

Meanwhile, extreme heat is forecast until then. First day of school today. No air conditioning. Generally don't need it. This is usually when we have our most pleasant weather. Not this year.

A sultry 32 C (90 F) outside at 5 p.m., humidex at 41 C. It hasn't been cooling down much in the evenings either.

Summer of 2010 is one for the record books.


Hi Tom,

There's now word of a probable eastward shift in the track. I don't know if that will significantly alter things for us here in Nova Scotia, but it has to be welcome news for New England; I guess we'll know more tomorrow and Saturday. Certainly, no shortage of warm moist air to feed upon, as you well know, and surface water temperatures are abnormally high.

Looking forward to winter !


Looking forward to winter !

Me too.

The warm waters will likely mean that Earl will maintain much of his strength. Time will tell if the eastward shift will be kind to Nova Scotia or make our situation worse.

This could still deliver us a nastier punch than Juan. The next twenty-four hours will tell us more.

I heard one news report from Yarmouth advising people to be ready with a battery operated radio in case of evacuation orders. EMO officials are not taking any chances.

Meanwhile, another uncomfortable and sweat drenched night of tossing and turning. It's ten o'clock in the evening and still 26 C outside. Inside the house still feels like an oven.

A snow ball fight would make a nice fantasy dream right now.

Try to get some sleep. Tomorrow night may be an anxious night.


Hi Tom,

We're also down to a relatively comfortable 26°C (humidex of 31°C) at the airport, having spent much of the day in the mid 30s with a humidex in the low 40's. Our normal for this time of year is 21°C.

According to the Globe and Mail, Yarmouth is bracing for a 4 metre high storm surge (see: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/atlantic/nova-scotians-batt...).

Check in with you tomorrow.


Re; NYT Bottled Air

This reminds me all too well of a comic in the 90's, riffing on the success then of Evian water, and how the French were so tickled that we would pay premium for a bottle of water, that next, they would have to try to sell us AIR.

Not far from that shocking day when I was in a doctor's office with my Mom (whose finger I'd broken with a hydraulic Log-splitter, no less) .. where there was a poster on the wall advertising for the drug 'Soma' - the classic name for how to keep your people unconscious and uncritical in Huxley's 'Brave New World'.


''Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I'm in a coma;
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love's as good as soma."

""No shoving there now!" shouted the Deputy Sub-Bursar in a fury. He slammed down he lid of his cash-box. "I shall stop the distribution unless I have good behaviour."

The Deltas muttered, jostled one another a little, and then were still. The threat had been effective. Deprivation of soma-appalling thought!

"That's better," said the young man, and reopened his cash-box. "

References to soma as an intoxicating drink ("bringer of the gods") appear in ancient Hindu religious writings, some going as far back as 1700 BC. Zelazny used it as the common name for mildly intoxicating drink in Lord of Light, which incorporates much of the Hindu pantheon.

That is interesting, but in this case fairly arcane if you're creating a drug in the 1990s.. the reference to Huxley would be a little hard to miss. (Not that I think it was intentional.. but perverse, nonetheless)

I don't think it's that arcane. And I think it was intentional.

Of course it was intentional. And it was intentional when another sleep aid used a similar sounding name... Sominex.

Ron P.

Perhaps, but Sominex was more likely influenced by the Latin root "somn-" < *s(w)ep-n- "sleep" than by Sanskrit "soma" < *sou-mo- "pressed (juice of whatever psychotropic plant was used--probably mostly fly agaric)".

"6 global warming skeptics who changed their minds "

Nothing makes me more angry than this - the "skeptics" who were all out against climate legislation until it died in Copenhagen, and now they are joining the "believers" when the effects are slapping them in the face?

I suppose, when we have the "Nurenberg trials" for the people that killed civilization, they will want to be on the right side.

Don't know whether or not to welcome them to the fold or give them a good spanking. Anyway, a very small percentage of Americans think this is much of a problem. Back in Colorado now, I weep for the Pika.

Wow, it's like climate denial is breaking up and melting like a... like...

Dammit. Help me out, people. What's something that breaks up and melts, sometimes well before we anticipated it would?

Effective political coalition?

Really don't you think it is just a tad arrogant and elitist to simply ASSUME that former skeptics were not sincere in thier former beliefs?

I know a great many skeptics who are honest , trustworthy, well educated(except unfortunately in environmental matters) people.

Insulting them by denigrating thier intelligence and honesty is a very poor way to bring them around BUT it is an excellent way to help elect more repuglithans in a few weeks.

I speak from experience, being a former skeptic of the Lomberg school myself- he to the best of my knowledge has not in the past denied the reality of warming but simply maintained that it was a problem that could best be solved by living with it and doing something about it later when we have better options in the form of new technology and new sources of energy.

In a very real sense, I still feel the same way as a practical matter;my cynical opinion is that whatever we do in the short term is not going to be of any real consequence but is going to cost us dearly.Some of the principle people associated with this site who do have research credentials( I have none) have basically said the same thing-any thing we do to cut back for instance on burning coal is simply going to mean more coal to burn for those who are going to burn it no matter what.

For instance, cap and trade is almost certainly not going to do much to reduce emissions; but the same amount of money devoted to actually building wind farms, subsidizing energy conservation and efficieny measures, and paying for research in renewables would almost certainly pay a far bigger dividend within any meaningful time frame.

A billion dollars spent on pv five years from now will buy twice as as much pv capacity as it will today; this iirc was Lomberg's original basic argument, along with the fact that a more vigorous economy would be able to better afford the billion.I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I read Lomberg.

I have ranted here several times about the tendency of environmental scientists to go along in order to get along, accepting the the most grossly unexamined and unqualified cornucopian assumptions of the bau crowd as gospel so long as it suits THIER purposes-it's enough to make a truly intellectually honest person cuss his Momma; let someone outside the fold of the environmentally saved saved use those same basic bau assumptions to argue for alternative solutions and they morph into Jesus freaky hypocrites;don't let the children see that Playboy, they will be corrupted forever.

Incidentally, I changed my mind before Lomberg did as to the factual seriousness of the problem of climate change.

But if all the evidence I could see and understand with my own intellect and eyes were missing, and only the integrity and the models of the cc establishment were available to me, I would pay cc about as much mind as I pay to the folks who are assuring us that good times are right around the corner.

CC scares the hell out of me, but I doubt if very many of us reading this forum today live to see the appeareance of the more dramatic projected effects, such as a NOTICEABLY higher sea level.

We are undoubtedly on a fast train to climate change hell, but we as individuals have more important things we should be worried about-such as -when the fast train jumps the tracks, and it is virtually certain to jump the tracks-WWIII breaking out or something equivalent to that general level of mayhem.

I still feel the same way as a practical matter;my cynical opinion is that whatever we do in the short term is not going to be of any real consequence but is going to cost us dearly.

How is doing something going to cost us dearly? That type of logic infers a short term mindset. Try to think long term and you'll probably see the benefit of doing something.

Thanks for the comments, mac.

"I doubt if very many of us reading this forum today live to see the appearance of the more dramatic projected effects, such as a NOTICEABLY higher sea level."

That, of course, depends on what you mean by dramatic, and what is noticeable to whom.

Islands that have had humans living on them for millennia are becoming uninhabitable now, so sea level change is pretty darn noticeable and dramatic to those inhabitants.

But, yes, it will likely take decades for, say, a meter rise in ocean levels to show up, according to most models.

Of course other effects are already here, and whether you consider them dramatic probably depends on whether or not you experienced them. Tens of thousands of people died in western Europe in the summer of '03 in an event so far outside of the norm that many consider it directly attributable to GW.

The extreme heat waves across Russia and the extreme rains that flooded a quarter of the land area (including most of the most populated areas) of Pakistan can at the least be said to be the kinds of events that can be predicted to be much more common in a globally warmed year. And they were certainly dramatic for those affected by them.

If the meltings of the tundra and sub-sea methane deposits that are already underway accelerate dramatically (as feedbacks tend to do), pretty much everyone could see some pretty dramatic changes quite soon. Also, as China closes down it's older, dirtier, less efficient coal plants, and as the globe-cooling aerosols those plants spewed fall out of the atmosphere (a process that only takes weeks to months), we could see rather sudden jumps in global climate that may have unpredictable effects.

Some of us also find the collapse of the North polar cap of the planet just a bit dramatic.

So I am left wondering what it is, besides sea level rise, that you need to see to consider effects of cc "dramatic."

I think to some extent we are primed by Hollywood movies to think that if the whole world doesn't freeze, get submerged, or burn up, then nothing dramatic has happened. The same thing is not going to happen to everyone at once, but effects at more and more locations will become more and more dramatic more and more frequently.

The chance of any particular type of weather occuring at any particular place on any particular time is a roll of the dice--but we have now weighted the dice so that extreme weather is more likely to happen everywhere. And the weighting is increasing and will keep increasing.


I do get it, as I'm sure you are both aware.;)

But do you really expect the relatively minor changes in emissions that MIGHT result from any new policies that will actually be enacted on a GLOBAL scale will make any difference?

My basic point is that while the house is on fire, there is no point in running too big a risk of killing ourselves by wrecking the fire truck on the way there to try to put it out.

I simply believe we would be much better off putting the money and effort that are going into such foolishness as cap and trade into conservation, efficiency, and renewables.A good third of what is spent on cap an d trade will wind up in the pockets of our worst specific enemies-the big mutinational corporations.

The emissions problem promises to pretty much take care of itself within a tinme frame comparable to the one we could do something about it anyway-we have all heard of depletion, right?

The coming oil shock is going to knock the global economy for such a loop that the increase in coal usage anticipated by so many environmentalists is very likely to be delayed many years-a broke world can't build but so much coal fired infrastructure, or the infrastructure to use the so much more coal fired electricity.

Coal itself will within a decade or two be priced like oil is today, and there may very well be an opec type cartel to make sure of the price.

A broke world won't be able top build electric cars, or subdivisions, or malls, or airportsor resorts of the bau type by the tens of millions.

Getting thru the next ten to twenty years is an absolute necessity and a problem we must deal with before we worry about the next century on out.

As far as the minor sea lev el plus four feet island nations go, i feel sorry for them , but the people who live there are a vanishingly small part of the species, and in terms of the big picture, thier fate simply doesn't matter.

I do undrestand and worry that there could be truly major changes in the climate/weather over the larger more heavily populated parts of the globe as a result of ACC sooner rather than later, and the thought worries me a lot-but not as much as the thought of a short term economic collapse and the mayhem that may result from it.

For the record, I am not for Cap and Trade (especially the trade part, which was always just a way to make the whole thing palatable to the moneyed, right wing powers that be).

And I do not think it is likely that anything significant will be done, mostly because Republicans and coal-owned Dems will always block anything with any chance of success.

But I don't think that exonerates us from responsibility to try to minimize the damage--for instance, to try to slow or stop the building of new coal plants.

We can't avert major catastrophe anymore, but we can avoid doing things (like burning all the coal and tar sands...) that will guarantee that things get even more catastrophic.

And of course ones own contributions can be scaled up or down.

It strikes me that many conservatives are all about personal responsibility, but when it comes to personal responsibility for the greatest disruption of life and systems that support it in the history of civilization, they can muster little sense of personal responsibility about it and tend to ridicule those who do. Apparently, though, there is little difference between liberals and conservatives in the percentages of each who are significantly and voluntarily scaling down their life style (or continuing low impact lifestyles).

Good news and bad news...

New jobless claims drop for 2nd week in row

WASHINGTON — The beleaguered American worker got two pieces of upbeat news Thursday that may point to a slow, but steady, improvement in the labor market.

The number of people requesting unemployment benefits declined for the second straight week, suggesting that the slowing economy isn't prompting widespread job cuts. And productivity in the spring fell by the largest amount in nearly four years while labor costs rose, signaling that companies may have reached the limits of squeezing more work out of fewer workers.

Consumers still cautious about spending in August

Nervous about jobs and an unraveling economy, shoppers spent — at best — only slightly more this August than last, according to data released Wednesday by MasterCard's SpendingPulse.

The figures confirm a flurry of anecdotal evidence that retailers will be disappointed by this year's back-to-school season — a time they see as second only to the winter holidays.

Could investors fleeing stocks become a lost generation?

"Investors are on strike," says Axel Merk, president and chief investment officer at Merk Mutual Funds.

The fear on Wall Street is that this buyer's strike will linger for years, resulting in a lost generation of investors similar to what occurred after steep stock declines in the 1930s during the Great Depression and early 1970s, a recessionary time punctuated by high inflation.

We don't need no stinkin' investors anymore. We've got the machines. Can't the market just keep rolling along at a lower volume level? And why do we need all those shouting people on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange? Suggest they open the roof and turn it into an organic garden for the local community. Or build a mosque. Never have so many brilliant people been engaged in such worthless activities. Of course, some would argue that the same could apply to TOD.

We don't need no stinkin' investors anymore.

Indeed. Recent estimates are that more than half of all trades on the US exchanges are computer-driven based on small price motions. Average holding period for stocks purchased on the NYSE is below six months (I believe the other US exchanges are even shorter). There are relatively few investors out there these days.

We are well into an era when Cain's Law™ applies: Any situation in which it is easier to become wealthy by manipulating financial instruments than by producing the underlying goods and services will end badly.

Panzner is correct; P/E ratios have to get into the single digits before the stock market can be viewed as a decent bet. "Fair valuations" are way, way too overpriced an entry point in this kind of market.
Personally, my view is that we will see the DOW go to "parity" with gold. One can pick any number one likes; 2,000 DOW/$2,000 gold, 3,000 DOW/$3,000 gold, etc. This is what happened during the thirties. This is where I think we're heading.

Good P/E ratio chart located here: S&P 500 P/E Ratio

Current P/E: 19.93 +0.09 (0.46%)
Mean: 16.37
Median: 15.76
Min: 4.78 (Dec 1920)
Max: 44.20 (Dec 1999)

Trying to nail down the actual P/E ratio is quite tricky. The figures above, and on the chart found at the URL, are based on inflation-adjusted earnings from the previous 10 years. That is the standard definition but few people actually use that. Most P/E are based on the past 12 months earnings but traders usually use P/E based on the expected earnings for the next 12 months. And of course future expected earnings are often wrong.

The stock market’s average price/earnings ratio, meanwhile, is in free fall, having plunged about 36% during the past year, the largest 12-month decline since 2003. It now stands at about 14.9, compared with 23.1 last September, based on trailing 12-month earnings results. Based on profit expectations over the next 12 months, the P/E ratio has fallen to 12.2 from about 14.5 in May.
The Decline of the P/E Ratio?

Ron P.

How Malthus drove the Discovery Channel gunman crazy: The greatest pessimist in economic history has been wrong for 200 years, but he's still freaking people out

I think people are freaked out about Malthus because everyone knows that he will eventually be proven correct. It's like watching a far away freight train coming toward you when you're chained to the track.

I hope Nate Hagens has a Campfire where we discuss Lee's manifesto and some of the reaction. I'm not saying it's coherent but Salon willfully ignores points he made that are undeniable (like the amount of pollution implied by a new birth). Pollution babies. Is that his original coinage? May stick.

Should add that though I don't have children, I do have little nieces & nephews that I love dearly (when they aren't fructose super-charged)

Lee seems to have hated children. A complete non-starter for me. Hatred of children is more common than people think however. One incentive for the authorities to tackle the neo-Malthusian crush we live in is that such feelings will be increasingly validated in a minority.

Does anyone know what name he used to comment on TOD?

I guess we know it's not Ryder.

An Essay on the Principle of Population
From the Preface

The following Essay owes its origin to a conversation with a friend, on the subject of Mr Godwin's essay on avarice and profusion, in his Enquirer. The discussion started the general question of the future improvement of society, and the Author at first sat down with an intention of merely stating his thoughts to his friend, upon paper, in a clearer manner than he thought he could do in conversation. But as the subject opened upon him, some ideas occurred, which he did not recollect to have met with before; and as he conceived that every least light, on a topic so generally interesting, might be received with candour, he determined to put his thoughts in a form for publication.

Malthus was an early blogger? Who knew?

From the Introduction (emphasis added)

The great and unlooked for discoveries that have taken place of late years in natural philosophy, the increasing diffusion of general knowledge from the extension of the art of printing, the ardent and unshackled spirit of inquiry that prevails throughout the lettered and even unlettered world, the new and extraordinary lights that have been thrown on political subjects which dazzle and astonish the understanding, and particularly that tremendous phenomenon in the political horizon, the French Revolution, which, like a blazing comet, seems destined either to inspire with fresh life and vigour, or to scorch up and destroy the shrinking inhabitants of the earth, have all concurred to lead many able men into the opinion that we were touching on a period big with the most important changes, changes that would in some measure be decisive of the future fate of mankind.
It has been said that the great question is now at issue, whether man shall henceforth start forwards with accelerated velocity towards illimitable, and hitherto unconceived improvement, or be condemned to a perpetual oscillation between happiness and misery, and after every effort remain still at an immeasurable distance from the wished-for goal.
Yet, anxiously as every friend of mankind must look forwards to the termination of this painful suspense, and eagerly as the inquiring mind would hail every ray of light that might assist its view into futurity, it is much to be lamented that the writers on each side of this momentous question still keep far aloof from each other. Their mutual arguments do not meet with a candid examination. The question is not brought to rest on fewer points, and even in theory scarcely seems to be approaching to a decision.
The advocate for the present order of things is apt to treat the sect of speculative philosophers either as a set of artful and designing knaves who preach up ardent benevolence and draw captivating pictures of a happier state of society only the better to enable them to destroy the present establishments and to forward their own deep-laid schemes of ambition, or as wild and mad-headed enthusiasts whose silly speculations and absurd paradoxes are not worthy the attention of any reasonable man.
The advocate for the perfectibility of man, and of society, retorts on the defender of establishments a more than equal contempt. He brands him as the slave of the most miserable and narrow prejudices; or as the defender of the abuses of civil society only because he profits by them. He paints him either as a character who prostitutes his understanding to his interest, or as one whose powers of mind are not of a size to grasp any thing great and noble, who cannot see above five yards before him, and who must therefore be utterly unable to take in the views of the enlightened benefactor of mankind.
In this unamicable contest the cause of truth cannot but suffer. The really good arguments on each side of the question are not allowed to have their proper weight. Each pursues his own theory, little solicitous to correct or improve it by an attention to what is advanced by his opponents.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Looks like Malthus was right about quite a few things.

Over 200 years later and the state of discourse over matters of gravity hasn't changed a bit.

A comment on this, and on 'doomer' discussions in general. We need to keep in mind that humans are 'exceptionalists.' That means that we all feel that we are living in the most important moment in history. One that will shape the future forever.

Hence, we see events as being imminent... all the bad stuff will happen right away, or at least in our lifetime. Jesus is coming soon. The end of time is nigh. Malthus was correct, but as a human felt it was going to happen soon. We are correct, and we believe PO will happen soon. Whether we are correct will be determined in good time.

The only thing that I am certain of is that the future is not yet formed, and our observations and predictions do alter the future. Even Lee's insanity has its impact.


Well said, Zaphod. I vote you for Galactic President.

I think people are freaked out about Malthus because everyone knows that he will eventually be proven correct.

No, everybody doesn't 'know' that Malthus will eventually be proven right. Though, I suppose if you open the door to monkeys typing up the King James version of the bible, word for word, in a universe of infinite dimensions and dimensionally infinite, you might as well open up the door to the possibility that 'eventually' Malthus might be proven right.

Back on earth, Malthus is as wrong as ever. Famine, war, disease have not arrested population growth. Food surpluses are arresting population growth. Peace is arresting population growth. Public health practices are arresting population growth.

The world's population is peaking at a time when calories are so abundant that we can waste them in layers of body fat, in meat manufacturing and in a misguided attempt to subsidize the fast food lifestyle spent in cars, often alone.

The Reverend Malthus disliked common people and was engaged in his own version of wishful thinking. Like that faction of today's doomers who think that if only we could interfere, radically, in the demographic transition, 'things will go back to how they were' and the misty hopes of their youth might be realized before death.

Famine, war, disease have not arrested population growth.

The Irish potato famine reduced the population by 20-25%.

The Thirty Years War reduced the population of Germany by about a third.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population, reducing the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400.

So we definitely know that disease can reduce the global population. The only open questions are whether war and famine can reduce the global population.

War can be fought with biological weapons. Since disease can cause a decline in global population, war can as well. While not tested in practice, nuclear war is thought to be capable of reducing the global population, perhaps almost as significantly.

Famine can probably reduce global population, particularly if war disrupts supplies of pesticides and fertilizers to farmers. Alternatively, a switch in climate from its abnormal warm phase back to its normal cold phase, characteristic of most of the last few million years, is likely to reduce the population.

I agree that the Black Death pulled the long term population growth weight down, for a number of generations, but I don't think that the overall effect of visitations from the four horsepersons of the apocalypse is to push the population growth rate down. All those events occurred and the population kept growing. Until the culturally constructed reproductive strategy based on multiple births/multiple deaths per woman was replaced by a new set of practices.

During the decade or more that the Black Death swept across Asia and Europe, the population growth not only declined, it went negative.

Population growth rate = birth rate - death rate.

Typically these are expressed in births / 1000 population or deaths / 1000 population.

You can decrease the birth rate or increase the death rate to achieve a zero or negative growth rate.

But the way to decrease the birth rate is by decreasing the death rate, especially of children and infants.

Do you have data showing the affect of the famine/plague on the birth rate?

When you can affect the birth rate, then you have some hope of sustaining a population decline. Otherwise the multiple birth/multiple death strategy is adopted and it will push the human population to levels unappreciated by most, except rats, fleas, coyotes, pigeons, real estate speculators and so on.

Food surpluses are arresting population growth. Peace is arresting population growth. Public health practices are arresting population growth.


Go to any country that is experiencing a decline in population and what do you find.... some type of shock or resource depletion.

We neo-Malthusians don't think strictly in terms of food. Instead we talk about resources and limits to growth and reduced return from increasing complexity, growing issues with public mental health. (What % of the population are on prescription mood altering medication?)

I agree that Japan has had some seismic shocks and that a lot of Italians are shocked by the number of naked women in Berlusconi's life, but other than that I'd say that your assertion is a bit of a stretch.

You neo-malthusians do talk a lot, but you don't make sense, because you persistently ignore the evidence. And making up your own. You end up wasting time.

The world's population is peaking at a time when calories are so abundant that we can waste them in layers of body fat, in meat manufacturing and in a misguided attempt to subsidize the fast food lifestyle spent in cars, often alone.

Really? Is it peaking? As far as I know, world population is "expected" to peak some time around 2050, which is still a few decades away, making this expectation no more than a guess, based on an extrapolation of a current trend. Enough things can happen within 40 years to render this sputum of statistical craftsmanship utterly useless.
Giving a sophisticated prognosis for population development spanning such a long time frame is nearly impossible.

Some time ago I've read an article in an old newspaper - it must have been from 1930, plus minus a year or two - stating that scientists were expecting the population of Germany to decrease to about 45 million within the next 50 years. Just a few decades later German chancellor Konrad Adenauer used the notorious phrase "people will always have children" to silence critics of his retirement plan. Today Germany has a population of more than 80 million, fertility rate is low, making pension funding an increasing problem, and every once in a while you see an article porclaiming that the "German" is facing extinction, prompting politicians to take any measures deemed feasible in a desperate attempt to boost birth rates.

And even if human population will stagnate, or even decrease for some time, in the long run, I'd say, it will behave the way any other animal population would in an environment where neither predators, nor diseases can keep it in check.

OK, So the German population is at an all-time high, and some folks there are fretting about the end of the German people?

Yes, I get the idea is that the fertility rate is below replacement and that the total population will decrease...once you get rid of the economic growth paradigm and adopt a steady-state economic mindset, what exactly is the problem?

Just because population trends lead on to expect a declining population number, why does it follow that this trend must somehow inevitably run to zero?

What if the German population declines then stabilizes at 60 million people?

Would a Germany with 'only' 60 million people be so horrible?


One could ask the question about any country, including the U.S.

Would the U.S. be a wretched lace to live if its population declined over some period of time and stabilized at 225 million people?


I find it mind-numbing that many people favor more population growth...some folks seem to be OK with large population growth rates. I have read articles recently extolling the virtues of a 400 million-person U.S. population.

Why not 500M or 800M people in a future U.S.? What about a Billion-plus? More pavement and WalMarts and Starbucks? More demand for automobiles and soft drinks?

Assuming continuing automation and importing products and even services from other countries, where are these folks going to work and at what?

By what magic can we find newer and or deeper sources and sinks? Do we crowd out most of the other creatures on Earth to make way for more of us and our accouterments?

I am not sanguine about the population perhaps peaking at 9-10 Billion circa 2050.

I like children. My wife and had (and have) two (and that was it). I am one of two children from my parents. An average of two (+ .1/.2 for mortality before reproduction) is the zero-population-growth formula over time.

If population were to level off, at even 9-10 billion, that would be far preferable to a continual increase. So, even though the forecast is for such a level-off by ~ 2050+, I get real irritated by countries (almost all of which are presently at their all-time population high point) which are trying to stimulate more births in order to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme of old-age retirement benefits...and the scheme of increasing consumer demand to prop up industry.

Do we crowd out most of the other creatures on Earth to make way for more of us and our accouterments?

We are already doing so, of course, and the only remaining question is the degree. Trying to remember the published estimates for what % of the Earth's total photosynthetic yield is being used directly or indirectly by humans. They are in the 40-60% range already. Anyone remember more specifically and/or have the references?

World population isn't supposed to peak until around 2050-2070. Lots of things can go "wrong" in the mean time. Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas, and Peak Coal should all have arrived prior to 2050.

In 2050 the US and China will probably be boosting the production of coal again, since other energy sources will have tapered off.

Well, the arrival of the varius peaks help us avoid the wrong thing, as they come accompanied with a great deal of information. The price signal, an ancient example of good social design, itself delivers information very widely and quite efficiently, and ever lower costs of accessing and distributing knowledge increases our capacity to overwhelm bad policy choioes with good.

"The price signal, an ancient example of good social design, itself delivers information very widely and quite efficiently..." and often dramatically and catastrophically wrongly--Oil (as well as other ff) being the prime example.

I disagree.

Arbitrage opportunities abound even in modern markets, and they are a direct result of inefficiency and inaccuracies in price signals.

I can see Malthus's handiwork all over the planet.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.

"When a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall in a hole".

Jesus Christ, Gospel according to Thomas.

I live in a country whose population is in decline. (japan), this debate makes me ask "is the decline Malthusian?"

Yes, but it doesn`t look like it. There are plenty of places to buy food. Fat people are on the increase.

Yet to have the income for a baby is getting more and more difficult. Sure a single person can support him/herself, especially while living at parents home. But to have a baby while maintaining the complex lifestyle (cell phone, new shoes, a small car or two, a condo, cable TV, all the appliances you should have, childcare, food), now that is quite a difficult thing. People used to live on farms, very simply. They had just as many children as they could feed, and often they were not planned. But now, to have a baby while living at that level (illiterate, no car, walk everywhere (in old days just tiny village, now nothing), no cellphone, grow all food, no electricity) would be considered unfair to the child, like being raised by primitive people in a jungle. It is all about competition and complexity. No one wants to give up their comforts either.

Its not necessary to use the gospel of Thomas - the saying is at Matthew 14:15 and Luke 6:39

Didn't you mean Matthew 15:14?

Controlling population does not necessarily mean a reduction in demand for resources. There has not been more draconian population control in the world than in China.

The evidence is that when population is controlled the standard of living rises. A rising standard of living means an increase in consumption of resources anyway.

For example August Chinese car sales resume fast rise.


It seems to me consumption of resources are likely to rise faster where human population is controlled than where it is not. A maxed out animal population exists at a subsistence level.

Humans are not like animals in this regard. Animals consume what they need to survive with any excess going to reproduction until the population exceeds a sustainable level where upon it falls back to that level, Malthus' theory.

Humans, on the other hand, can figure out that over population is causing stress on resources. So they cut back as in China. When they do, the resource base is divided among fewer people than otherwise resulting in a rising standard of living and rising expectations.

Controlling population can increase the demand for oil as more people are able to afford cars. That is the lesson from China.

"Draconian population control in China" ?? Really.If it was so draconian why has the population increased but possibly at a slightly lower rate than it would have done without the one child policy.That policy does not apply to ethnic minorities which make up a significant proportion of China's population.The one child policy is now being relaxed because the Chinese have caught the common fear of an aging population,irrational as that fear is.

Methinks,x,that you do not understand the meaning of the word "draconian" - excessively harsh (Oxford English Dictionary).

If you think that being denied the opportunity to have as many children as you like is excessively harsh then you have lead a remarkably sheltered life in those Iowa cornfields.

The net result of the one child policy over the years means that China has about 300 million less people than they would have had without the policy. That's roughly the population of the USA.

Yeah, I would say Hitler's, Stalin's and Pol Pot's population control measures were just a tad more harsh.

(But to give full credit to him, it is not clear that the laws Draco introduced to Athens--the first that were written--were much harsher than the oral codes and the traditions of blood feud that they replaced.)

I think people are freaked out about Malthus because everyone knows that he will eventually be proven correct.

Everyone? I don't think so. Unless your "eventually" qualifier spans a significant fraction of the lifetime of our star....then of course, your statement makes perfect sense. But do you seriously expect by then it will matter?

Humans are the ecological equivalent to cancer cells in an organism. In each case, the entity has acquired the ability to grow and multiply without being constrained by the conditions of its surroundings.

Cities are the ecological equivalent to tumors in an organism. In each case, the entity is able to grow, penetrate its surroundings, import resources from it surroundings, and seed new instances of itself.

In some cases, cancers go into spontaneous remission and do not kill the host organism. In that case, most of the cancer cells die, the tumors shrink, and the organism survives. In other cases, the host dies and the cancer dies with it.

The prospect for humanity is one of the above.

The general systems theory is the same. Only the details of mechanism differ.

I have believed in both sides of the Malthusian question and have no trouble holding both arguments in my intellect silmantaneously.

In the end, Malthus will be proven right.Ask anybody who has studied the mathematics of probability;one of the corollaries states that given enough trials, even extremely unlikely events will happen.

At some point in time, some event that simply wipes out a major portion of our food production capacity will take place. The population will crash. Or a widespread war will take us away, or a new uber virulent disease.

A somewhat senile old relative of mine insisted on parking his very cherry 62 Chevy, bought brand new, under a rather decrepit old shade tree;we all tried to tell him the tree was sure to fall on his pride and joy eventually, but he refused to listen of course.The car was totaled when the tree fell-on a quiet sunny day it simply split in half.

Malthus has been proven right on the local and regional level somewhere every year since he published;when the cards fall right -or wrong, as one prefers to express his sentiments-he will be proven right on a global level. The tree may not fall on the Malthusian naysayers within the near future, but fall it will someday.

At one time I thought prosperity on a global level would take care of the population problem;as I see things now, only those who are hopelessly niave could possibly believe in global prosperity over the next few decades.

Humans are the ecological equivalent to cancer cells in an organism. In each case, the entity has acquired the ability to grow and multiply without being constrained by the conditions of its surroundings.

Really? Please list any other planet you know of that a cancerous human infestation has killed? I ask because I am not familiar with any, so I wanted to see how an "equivalent" to the human species did this somewhere else.

And humans have been, and currently are, constrained by all sorts of things. Lets make a bet, I can find, say, 75% of the planets surface where humans are generally constrained from living on? Would that be proof enough for you that us entities are still constrained by at least one item involving a majority our of the surface area of this planet? I'm sure I could find a few others as well, but how bout we start with an easy one?


You make an excellent point: We currently do not know of any other planets which support life, let alone a subset of which supports more human life (or shall we just say intelligent life roughly equivalent to humans...).

Since we only know of one such planet (Earth), and since traveling to or transforming other Earth-like planets is out of the question for the foreseeable future, is it not prudent for us to carefully consider and modulate/manage the detrimental impacts we have on our one and only Earth?

Break Break: Just because we do not physically reside on (or under) the water-covered parts of our planet does not mean that we are not having a detrimental effect on this part of the biosphere. Toxins from a disease organism in one or several organs can spread to and diminish or kill cells and organs in other parts of the body...leading to the death of the body.

I honestly don't see the logic in your reply here, except to show that you are annoyed at the idea that humanity is and will have a deleterious effect on Earth's biosphere and that this will only be mitigated by an voluntary and eventual reduction in population as well as a simultaneous reduction in per-person resource use...or, mitigated by famine, disease, war, etc.

Mom always said "The Truth hurts."

Since we only know of one such planet (Earth), and since traveling to or transforming other Earth-like planets is out of the question for the foreseeable future, is it not prudent for us to carefully consider and modulate/manage the detrimental impacts we have on our one and only Earth?

A completely reasonable idea. Considering we have been practicing terraforming for at least the last 5000 years, it is quite reasonable that at this stage of our evolution we start dedicating chunks of our technological acumen to fixing things as we go. Clean Air and Water acts for example, modern emissions on our auto's and soon to be on our powerplants, assuming we use dirty ones versus locally sourced solar or nukes.

It can be argued that our improvements in the area of "cleaning up after ourselves" has been quite substantial in the past half century and with any thought at all will continue.

Mom always said "The Truth hurts."

Are you referring to the religious aspects of peak oil ("the truth"), or just the concept that mom didn't know of any decent examples to show that humans are a cancerous infestation either?

Humans are the ecological equivalent to cancer cells in an organism.

Are there any TV channels you've been feuding with? I may want to stay clear of them for a while.

To be realistic, no action by hardly any given individual out of the 7,000,000,000 will have any effect on the future course of humanity. To the extent that the "great man" approach to history is correct, usually the great man makes things worse, not better. Most of history, and the future, is determined by social and pysical forces that are uncontrolled.

Only a few people, such as Christian Friedrich Schönbein, have had a major impact on future events.

Or Hans R. Herren, past and future actions.

Best Hopes for the few Great, Good, Men and Women,


I think people are freaked out about Malthus because everyone knows that he will eventually be proven correct.

That population growth will stop is a mathematical certainty. The mechanism that cause it to either stabilize or drop may not be the one Malthus proposed. Malthus's assumption that the only brake on human reproduction was deprivation. We have seen at least a few places (Japan, Italy, Russia, Iran?) where other social/economic factors have caused a declining population. It is still an open question whether the so-called demographic transition can happen fast enough. My money say "not very likely". But it requires more than logic/math to determine what will actually happen.

Now the problem for Germany, Italy, and much of western Europe is not so much that absolute population is dropping. The problem is that for short term economic reasons they are bringing in a lot of foreigners. It looks like many of these foreign additions are not being absorbed culturally, but have a culture/religion which is pretty resistant to raising the kids as brownskinned French (or Italians, or Germans). So the currently predominate culture is in danger of being overwhelmed. An analogy might be Africanized honey bees (killer bees). Their genes are not becoming totally diluted by European honeybee genes. They are (in the Darwinian sense) outcompeting and replacing the Europeanized bees.

We have seen at least a few places (Japan, Italy, Russia, Iran?) where other social/economic factors have caused a declining population.

Other social/economic factors can cause a high death rate, in other words a Malthusian death rate.

Low birth rates and abnormally high death rates caused Russia's population to decline at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 to 800,000 people per year from the mid 90s to the mid 00s...

While the Russian birth rate is comparable to that of other developed countries, its death rate is much higher, especially among working-age males due to a comparatively high rate of fatalities caused by heart disease and other external causes such as accidents. The Russian death rate in 2009 was 14.2 per 1000 citizens. For comparison, the US[13] death rates in 2009 were 8.4 per 1000.
Demographics of Russia

The same case is also likely true of Iran. And it is definitely true of virtually all Sub-Sahara African countries. And then there is much of Asia where the same principle holds.

Malthus is long dead but his Principle of Population still holds.

Ron P.

Well gee, that sounds like the recipe for peace and harmony. I guess some Western Europeans will get to sing kum ba yah into the 21st century where their centuries old political entities crumble and new ones are formed. Anyone want to start a betting pool on when the UK dissolves?

Bernanke: Shut down banks if they threaten system

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday told a panel investigating the financial crisis that regulators must be ready to shut down the largest companies if they threaten to bring down the financial system.

Bernanke says in testimony prepared for a hearing before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: "If the crisis has a single lesson, it is that the too-big-to-fail problem must be solved."

He says bailing out these institutions is not a good solution.

I wonder if they'll really have the 'nads to do that.

Prolly too late for that.
We've gone too far down the road toward kleptocracy. It's now SOP for the government and Wall Street to collude in whatever manner is necessary to steal what little wealth remains in the hands of ordinary people. Why turn back now?

Blockquote>We've gone too far down the road toward kleptocracy.

And how parsimonious the Kleptocrats are.

A tax has been enthusiastically embraced by the major economies of the world. It amounts to 5 cents in every $1000 dollar international money transfer to pay for climate change mitigation and other pressing worldwide issues.

Enthusiastically embraced by everyone except the fat cats on Wall Street.

Banner in the canyons of power reads
"Go on, jump you f**ckers"

I love freedom of speech.

I wonder if they'll really have the 'nads to do that.

I'm not so sure they have...

I think too-big-to-just-curl-up-in-a-corner-and-die-already banks became THE very system. Trying to "solve the problem" could actually lead to the shutdown. And I didn't even mention that cornered animals usually bite back.

I'm just saying, regulators would be wise to avoid any trips to Dallas after that kind of heroic performance. :P

I don't think that it takes much 'nads.

The resolution authority will allow the US government to essentially nationalize the troubled financial institution. At that point, the stockholders are wiped out (depending on what political clout they have in Washington). Next the government stands behind any immediate claims on the company in order to prevent a run on banks or a liquidity crises due to the domino effect between big institutions. Then the government proceeds to operate the institution while winding down its assets and liabilities. This is likely to take a lot of time.

I'm not sure how this differs from what happened to AIG. Except that now it is legal.

Well, a certain political faction which did not support the bail-outs will certainly not support government intervention to preemptively break up large companies.

I honestly don't think the break up of AT&T would be possible with today's political climate, although the Bell System resembled a state-run telephone system, and the break-up served to increase competition, variety of services, and demand.

So, if zombie prop-ups and government break-up interventions are not to be the acceptable answers, then there is one answer left: Let the institutions fester and flounder and the system burn to the ground, and the folks who could run out of the tenement fast enough will burn as well.

I would rather favor the government-proctored break-ups over waiting for the system to implode and sink, but that is just me...

And that includes Fannie and Freddie...

Another Oil Rig explosion in the gulf one hour ago.


Heads Up An oil rig just exploded in the GOM. 13 people on board, 1 still missing. No more details except that planes and helicopters are in the air headed that way.

Ron P.

Edit: The above link was being posted as I typed. TV now says that all 13 men have been accounted for, one injured.

Oil Rig Explodes in Gulf of Mexico

GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) -- An offshore oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, west of the site of the April blast that caused the massive oil spill.

A commercial helicopter company reported the blast around 9:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Casey Ranel said. Seven helicopters, two airplanes and four boats were en route to the site, about 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay along the central Louisiana coast.

The Coast Guard said initial reports indicated all 13 crew members from the rig were in the water. One was injured, but there were no deaths.

The platform owned by Mariner Energy (NYSE:ME) is in about 2,500 feet of water, the Coast Guard said, and was not currently producing.

Dick Lawrence

update from NY Times and Reuters:

Burning Rig Owned By Mariner Energy: Reports

Published: September 2, 2010 11:58 ET

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A burning oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico is owned by Mariner Energy, according to trade sources and local media reports.

All 13 crew were accounted for and the platform continued to burn 90 miles south of the Louisiana coast, CNN reported.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba)

The stock price of the company involved has recovered considerably since the blast was first announced. In all likelihood this won't be a big deal for reasons to be made known shortly.

The Coast Guard just said that this was not an oil rig at all, meaning it was not a drilling rig but it was a production platform that was not actually in production. Why it was not producing they did not say. No word on any oil leakage but since the platform was not in production it seems unlikely that any oil, except perhaps diesel on the platform, will be leaked.

Ron P.

Or maybe not:

Mile-long sheen after Gulf oil platform explodes

But it's only 100 ft wide.

It also says the platform was producing oil and gas. Contrary to earlier reports that said it wasn't.

Latest CNN report said 1,400 b/day of oil (plus lots of NG) from seven wells.

All seven wells for one month = 1 day for BP.

May not be good, but orders of magnitude less than BP.


It sounds like it was producing oil and gas, but they shut it down (because of the accident?).

They reported that the oil slick is from products stored on the rig.

Insurance fire?

I hope the US develops the forensics techniques required to thoroughly investigate these incidents. The US is in danger of attack by Iran etc. The gonads are very exposed.

We saw how "faulty intelligence" was used to justify invading Iraq to stop their WMDs.

Best Hopes for no such forensics, (see President Palin)


No "faulty intelligence". Just a lot of faulty reporting to enable pursuit of the goal.
Capture of Iraq was the goal and it was achieved.

I believe the actual term used was, "Mission accomplished."


Unnnh? Capture of Iraq was achieved? I don't know. I don't think that Iran's influence has been enhanced throughout Iraq, yet. There seem to be cells of Sunni resistance.

IRAN will fall too like Iraq. Its just a matter of time before one of the major world powers takes it over for its resources.

Iran? Iraq?... North Korea is up to something these days, too. The axis of evil ain't what it use to be.

Kim Jong-il is ill and it appears that Kim Jong-un, his youngest young-one, may be his annointed successor.


More will be known in a few days after the North Korean workers party finishes its first delegate conference in 44 years.

Planetary Boundaries: TED video by Johan Rockstrom

Human growth has strained the Earth's resources, but as Johan Rockstrom reminds us, our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior. His research has found nine "planetary boundaries" that can guide us in protecting our planet's many overlapping ecosystems.

Another new TED Talk - Lisa Margonelli: The political chemistry of oil

In the Gulf oil spill's aftermath, Lisa Margonelli says drilling moratoriums and executive ousters make for good theater, but distract from the issue at its heart: our unrestrained oil consumption. She shares her bold plan to wean America off of oil -- by confronting consumers with its real cost.

Bill Gates and Andrew Revkin Expand The Dialog

in which Bill Gates clarifies that it's gonna take more than $billions of research funding, and technology breakthroughs, to save the world. Bill also discusses prospects for an "energy tax" and why 1% to 2% tax on energy won't change behavior - but could fund considerable research. They realize that 10+% energy tax is politically infeasible.

Bill Gates, the software innovator and development philanthropist who has recently championed a big research push to advance non-polluting energy choices, has weighed in with some new thoughts after reading a critique of his thesis by Richard Rosen of the Tellus Institute. Rosen asserted that putting too much focus on research aimed at energy breakthroughs was “dangerous” because it might encourage people “to put off investment in the many good renewable technologies that we have today, in the hope that something dramatically better will come along in the future.”

Gates e-mailed me [Andrew R] some reactions and more detail on his vision of a sustainable energy quest, which you can read below. I also encourage you to watch his February Ted talk on energy and climate.

Dick Lawrence

Colloquium Overview
Dr. Swartz opened the meeting by presenting an overview,
“LANR for Clean, High-Efficiency Energy Production,” in
which he summarized some of the more important facts
about CF and reasons that research is needed. He pointed
out that there is a profound need for more efficient energy
production, as a result of increasing energy demand. He
illustrated this using a concrete example: energy consumption
in the city of Boston. He estimated that in Boston alone,
there is an average power demand of 6 gigawatts, which
leads to daily energy consumption (5.2 x 1014 Joules) that
requires the energy equivalent of 54,000 tons of coal. He
emphasized that CF offers a potentially revolutionary, clean
energy source that would dramatically reduce the consumption
of fuel. In particular, the equivalent amount of energy
that is consumed on a daily basis in Boston could be
obtained from 6 pounds (three quarters of a gallon) of heavy
water. Even more astonishing are the environmental implications.
Each day, burning the amount of coal associated
with consuming this energy would create 180,000 tons of
CO2, 3,600 tons of SO2 and 480 tons of NO2. In contrast, CF
is “ultraclean”: To produce the same amount of energy each
day, CF would create 24 garbage size bags of an entirely pollution-
free product, ordinary helium gas.

From this PDF file.

For those who are not sure, CF stands for cold fusion.

It is an interesting topic; a few continue to believe this to be the 'deus ex machina' that will bring us out of the energy crisis. Most mainstream scientists either actively denounce it, or are professionally neutral. There is a strange, almost political caste to the discussions. Conspiracy theorists maintain it is being surpressed, major skeptical groups (Skeptics Society and CSI) 'debunk' it as pseudoscience.

In any case, I do not recommend you bet the farm that we will see it in the near to mid future.


For those who are not sure, CF stands for cold fusion.

I don't doubt that at least a few CF researchers genuinely believe that the odds that the phenomena is real are high enough to do research. I also don't doubt that those wishing to make a buck off naive investors have also been attracted to the area. I think the odds, that there is anything there, other than poor experimental design are pretty small. [It would be a pretty extraordinary overturning of physics that we think we know].

From the front page of "Cold Fusion Times":

Corrupt individuals within the US Patent Office and elsewhere continue to cover up cold fusion applications and other alternative energy inventions.

This is one of the keyphrases of a perpetual motion scam.
The USPTO is noted for it's profligate willingness to issue patents on almost anything (exercise a cat with a laser pointer? There's a patent on that!)

If the USPTO won't issue patents on CF and "alternative energy" inventions it is probably because:
1. Nobody has actually filed one properly.
2. They don't work.

Prove them wrong with an actual working device and you will find yourself wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice (or someone will, at least).

It don't matter. Research will go on regardless. It has for the last 20 years.

It is strange how partisan people are about a laboratory experiment.

It is as though Satan really does not want us to look over there.
Perhaps there is something He does not want us to see.
Perhaps He is afraid that CANR will thwart his evil.

Like the Report to the Club of Rome,
Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reaction has plenty of opinionated critics who fail to read the literature.

(exercise a cat with a laser pointer? There's a patent on that!)

Seriously: Method of exercising a cat - Patent 5443036. How about the Cat Exercise Wheel? Need more output? Cows on Treadmills Producing Electricity for Farms.

cats already invented that. it is a method for cats to exercise humans.

Not partisan, realistic.

I also don't believe in magic.
I have read enough of the literature around CF to see that most of it is imprecise and makes claims that, if true, would not require extraordinary measures to prove.

If you can produce XXX Watts of power from a CF experiment then put it to good use, don't whine about how nobody is taking you seriously.

Facts on the ground win, every time.

Corrupt individuals within the US Patent Office ... continue to cover up

At least for the last 10 years,
the US Patent Office (USPTO.gov) has regularly published almost all patent applications even before they are issued as patents.
Check out this link

The only one who can keep secret the cold fusion (CF) or other perpetual motion invention is the inventor himself by filing a special request for opting-out of the pre-grant publication process.

Therefore it is not the people in the USPTO who are "covering up" --if that is happening at all-- but rather the scam inventors of the cold fusion (CF) or other perpetual motion inventions.

Arthur,I'm not familiar with the science of fusion,cold or hot.However,it seems to be a science which is so far away from a practical,commercial application that it can be discounted,especially in the current global predicament of enivironmental damage caused by burning fossil fuels,especially coal.

It would be far better that we improved and applied existing fission technology which is proven to work.Time is not on our side.

"Time is not on our side"

Follow the money.
Who benefits from denying the effects of carbon in the atmosphere?
The coal industry.
Who benefits from starving chemically aided nuclear reaction research?(CANR)
The coal industry.

It is not a case of either fission or fusion or solar or... We can walk and chew gum. We have to throw everything we have got at the problem.

But CANR is showing promise and deserves at least 20% of CERN's and ITER's budget.

Let us spread the risk around a bit.

Caveat: Some of the best research has been done under opposition and adverse conditions.
See Galileo,Rutherford,Einstein.....

I agree on allocating scarce research money to a number of different promising alternative energy technologies.

However, I believe in conducting due diligence on these technologies before writing the checks.

The burden of proof about the viability of Cold Fusion is on the researchers, not the check-writers.

Right now I consider Cold Fusion to be in the same league as this:


A single huckster, largely, has managed to take DARPA for a ride, and Hafnium induced gamma emission and his ability to sell were his tickets to ride the gravy train.

But, DARPA's mission is to fund high-risk initial ideas...however, the they do their due diligence and cut off funding when the ideas prove invalid.

Conspiracy Alert: Unless the Hafnium thing went Black! Maybe it is powering the government flying saucers!

I grew some large tobacco plants this year and about 6 weeks ago noticed an infestation of what looked like some sort of aphid or mite (red). I noticed the flies were very heavy around the plants (?). Since i grow them for the flowers, i just left them be... About a week ago i checked them again, and while i still saw the bad bugs, i also saw a ladybug on almost every leaf i looked at, not to mention some other weird looking bug (it looked predatory) all over the leaves. Moral of the story? Predators kick butt in the garden...stupid vegetarians!:)

On this same note, i came across an article about a man who "sells spiders for strawberries"... This dude breeds predatory mites, and a whole host of other insects. Pretty cool job if you ask me:

"This is not fiction; it's in your backyard," Steinberg says. "What we do is mass-produce these natural enemies in 30,000 square meters [about 323,000 sq. feet] of state-of-the-art greenhouses where we give them the optimal conditions to reproduce."

The idea is to undo the damage of chemical pest control and encourage what nature intended. In Israel alone, Bio-Bee products have enabled sweet-pepper farmers to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 75 percent.


My mother ordered praying mantis eggs every year to hatch in the gardens in spring. One year I was home on my first leave, my parents were out of town for a few days, and some friends took me out on the town. The next morning I made my way to the kitchen for a glass of OJ and noticed what looked like coarse pepper all over the counter. I was quite hung over from the night before with my buddies, but I was sure that the "pepper" was moving. Head pounding, I went and found my dad's large magnifying glass. Returning to the kitchen, what I saw through the glass was hundreds of these:
What was surreal about my hangover moment was that every little mm sized mantis was staring back at me. The big eye in the magnifying glass had their complete attention.

Order your little monsters here: http://www.livemantis.com/prayingmantiseggs.html

Severin Bornstein
Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley
"I wouldn't be on board with the idea that oil is in its decline. In reality, if we don't care about environmental factors or energy security issues we can continue to consume oil or something equivalent to oil for hundreds of years."

Something equivalent to oil for hundreds of years? What is that? How is hundreds of years possible?

Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy

A combination of power and ignorance.

Why any surprise? He acknowledges that he's an economist by training, and as he teaches public policy, it's almost a given that he's an orthodox economist (there are darned few public policy schools that let heterodox economics anywhere close to their students). So, unsurprisingly, he gives us two of the axioms of mainstream economic thought.

"I look at... the oil futures market" is the axiom that all knowable information is reflected in market prices. The NYMEX price for oil in Dec 2015 is $85/bbl which, if you accept the axiom, says that there won't be a shortage due to knowable information before then. Hurricanes and wars are not "knowable" in the sense that economists use. Most economists assert that Peak Oil is based on knowable information.

"...consume oil or something equivalent to oil" is the axiom that there's always a substitute good available. In this case, as oil is a commodity, "equivalent" means "can be used to produce the same goods and services" but doesn't necessarily mean using the same equipment. The optimists here believe that to be true. For example, AlanfromBigEasy believes that electrified rail is a substitute for big trucks and highways for long-haul freight transport. Engineer-Poet has written about the feasibility of a zinc-air system that could provide traction power for farming. EV advocates believe that small battery-powered electric vehicles can meet most of the demand for localized personal transportation services.

Take what I write about economics with a grain of salt. I'm a hack economist at best, and a heterodox hack at that. I'm not as bad as Steve Keen, but I do think some of the axioms of mainstream economics are unrealistic, particularly so for a discipline which thinks it can make meaningful policy prescriptions.

As mentioned up top, an increase in US domestic production in 2010 has helped provide the incremental supplies needed in the US - at least so far in 2010.

The increase in US supplies just about exactly matches the increase in US demand. This has basically hidden the fact that the US supply/demand balance remains basically on a knife edge. Energy analysts keep telling us about high inventories (also above) but don't seem to ever mention import levels appeared to have hit some type of wall. 2010 imports are just about even with 2009 levels, as Russia is making up some of the supply we are slowly losing from OPEC.

Since about one month ago, OPEC exports appear to be in a downward trend, although it is not clear exactly how that will affect shipments to the US:

DJ OPEC Sailings Seen -280,000 B/D In 4 Weeks To Sept 18-Tracker

LONDON, Sep 02, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Oil exports from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Angola and Ecuador, are forecast to drop 280,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Sept. 18, tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

Exports from the 10 OPEC members tracked by Oil Movements are seen dropping to 23.26 million barrels a day in the one-month period from 23.54 million barrels a day exported in the four weeks to Aug. 21.


And the million dollar question is whether Opec is reducing exports due to increased domestic consumption, depletion, geo-political sabotage or to raise the price of oil?

More weather news--
The Amazon is at a low point of flow:

And we have a Tanker that has run aground in Canada:

The tanker ran aground in sea water, which is a lot different than fresh water like the Amazon. Sea water depths are kept on charts and ship captains are expected to use sonar and those charts to know if their vessel might run aground.

But the situation in the Amazon is quite worrying. That isn't the first time a bad drought has occurred there, and if droughts continue, much of the Amazon will turn to shrub or desert. Rain forest is not by its nature designed to withstand long periods of drought. In fact, there is a climate scientist that was much maligned for what was referred to as "Amazongate" for his work showing even slightly reduced rainfall over time would alter the Amazon to eventuate as a desert. The denialists rode him hard, but in the final analysis by an independent study, they found the Amazon was even more sensitive than his projections.

Re: Landowners Shout `Bingo' as West Australia's Mining Towns Boom

The Pilbara Region of north-central Western Australia has to be seen to be believed - the sheer scale of mining and energy extraction is staggering. While the region is beautiful in a barren, stark, dry, ravaged sort of way ... it is not country you would normally choose to live in, or raise a family - apart from the money. But for both isolation and demand reasons, the cost of housing is extraordinary, whether buying or renting ... and has been for some decades.

Many mining companies have actually closed the mining towns and just use fly in fly out workers from Perth or Darwin. I met one guy on a flight who was paid to live on his acres in Tasmania, and work in a gold mine way northeast of Perth - he flew over every week. A bit like living in Hawaii and commuting to South Dakota every Sunday afternoon (well - not quite - but pretty close to it).

Australia actually has form in this area (infrastructure not being up to the task) - two of our very big industries are tourism, and education for Asian students, but in both respects I think we do it pretty poorly. No proper planning, certainly insufficient investment, and therefore weak infrastructure - lots of Asian students cannot find housing, jobs, and other support - it would be easy enough to provide, if the universities and colleges had any strategic brains. And a lot of our tourism industry is run by unethical cowboys, to say the least. Huge potential markets are therefore lost.

Oh well, it's called "The Lucky Country" - despite itself, mostly.

Could someone shed some light on that VOA article that claims that the moratorium on deep sea drilling is really hurting Louisiana. What fraction of wells and personnel are affected? And for how long?

To those wondering about legal implications, this was a Spill of National Significance (SNS) that invoked the whole she-bang of FEMA Incident Command. So, you betcha, this BOP is now got feds all over it!! From the website of Unified Command:

Statement from National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen on the BOP

"The damaged Blow Out Preventer (BOP), along with the Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap, have been removed from the Gulf of Mexico and are currently on board the Q4000. The BOP is considered evidentiary material, and is now under the supervision of the Deepwater Horizon Criminal Investigation Team and FBI Evidence Recovery Team."