Drumbeat: September 20, 2010

Energy shortage is a global concern

Could Britain face an “energy gap”, where we simply do not have enough power to keep the lights on? The Institute of Civil Engineers is one of the organisations that thinks so.

“Investment is needed now to plug an energy gap that may be with us in less than five years and to meet very demanding emission reduction targets,” a recent report by the Institute on UK infrastructure concluded.

Your grandmother (but without the milk and cookies)

Nicole Foss looks like she might be your grandmother coming to reassure you about something. But instead of milk and cookies you are served a cold dose of reality. According to Foss, one of the writers on the popular finance-oriented blog The Automatic Earth, the global economy is locked into an inexorable deflationary decline that cannot be stopped by governments or central banks. And, the world is headed for a depression worse than that of the 1930s.

Believe it or not, that's the good news. The bad news is that the problems we face in the emerging depression will be aggravated by fossil fuel depletion, in particular, the onset of world peak oil production. When one questioner asked Foss when she thought we might return to even the tepid economic activity we see today, she had a one-word answer: "Never."

U.S. lawmaker wants China oil firms investigated

(Reuters) - The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on the Obama administration to make sure Chinese and other foreign oil companies are not supplying gasoline to Iran in violation of new U.S. sanctions.

Analysis: Shale Gas to Play Long-Term Role in Global Gas Demand

Long-term growth in shale gas production is expected to play an important role in shaping North American, European and Asian natural gas demand, according to a new report released by Ernst & Young at the World Energy Congress.

"The unconventional natural gas business may have already changed the overall supply and demand balance in North America, and perhaps globally," said Barry Munro, Leader of Ernst & Young's Canadian oil and gas practice. "It's possible we could be onto something big, but there are many underlying uncertainties including growing environmental concerns, technology challenges, water availability, and land issues."

Valero to build two Gulf refinery hydrocrackers

(Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) is restarting delayed plans to build two 50,000 barrel-per-day hydrocrackers at two Gulf Coast refineries, a company spokesman said on Monday.

Traders cashing in on diesel scarcity

Some unscrupulous traders in Malawi’s Central Region are taking advantage of the current diesel scarcity on the market to over-price the commodity, Business News has established.

Business News snap survey at the weekend in Central Region districts of Lilongwe, Kasungu and Dowa indicates that on the parallel market, diesel is selling at prices above the official pump price of K231.20.

In Lilongwe, the unscrupulous traders are selling the commodity at prices between K2 500 and K2 600 per five-litre jerrycan.

Kenyan government blames marketers for fuel shortage

The government maintains that oil marketers are to blame for the unwarranted hike in prices, insisting that there is enough fuel in the country.

Punjab raises alarm bells as queues grow

LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has written a letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, strongly protesting interruption in the fuel supply to the country’s biggest province and urging him to have the matter probed.

China's nuclear sector faces shortage of specialists

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's rapidly expanding nuclear power industry is demanding more professionals than the country can produce, a potential threat to safety, senior government officials said on Monday.

China, soon to overtake the United States as the world's No.1 energy user, is building about 28 reactors or roughly 40 percent of the world's total, part of a massive drive to reduce its heavy dependence on dirty coal, and cut carbon emissions.

Volt without the gas: GM looks at electric-only car

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors is building an experimental fleet of electrically powered Chevrolet Cruze compact cars that will have a driving range of up to 100 miles without using any gasoline.

Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, which GM plans to sell in the United States beginning in November, these cars will be purely electric with no gasoline engine for long-range driving. The Cruze and the Volt are closely related vehicles.

Demand a Supply of Common Sense; Just Don’t Price It

“Natural resources originate from the mind, not from the ground, and therefore are not depletable.” Robert Bradley, President, Institute for Energy Research.

Ah, the confusion of economics students when they encounter the subject of supply and demand in introductory “micro.” They learn that prices are determined by supply and demand. Then they’re taught that the quantities supplied and demanded are determined by… prices!

The backlash begins against the world landgrab

Rich countries do not face a Malthusian crisis. They face a shift in the terms of trade between country and city, a reversal of urban dominance since the industrial revolution. We are on a thinner margin of food security, just as we are on a thinner margin of oil security.

But those who live in poor countries that rely on food imports most certainly did have a Malthusian moment in 2008 when bread riots swept Egypt, Indonesia, and a string of states in Africa.

A vision of the future : In the Mothers' Land

Feminist science-fiction, like all militant literature can be godawfully bad; it can also, occasionally, turn out surprisingly well and reach beyond its original intent, asking all sorts of hard questions about our society and our future. Elisabeth Vonarburg's In the Mothers' Land is one such work. I must avow, to my great shame, that when it first came out in France, I hesitated to buy it because the summary presented it as a book about gender relations. Gender issues are indeed important in Vonarburg's work, but what made me read on beyond the first chapters is the setting. In fact, the world of In the Mother's Land is one of the few credible descriptions of what a realistic ecotechnic society could look like, and this description does ask hard questions about our future and our vision of it.

Michael Klare: China, Energy, and Global Power

If you want to know which way the global wind is blowing (or the sun shining or the coal burning), watch China. That’s the news for our energy future and for the future of great-power politics on planet Earth. Washington is already watching -- with anxiety.

Rarely has a simple press interview said more about the global power shifts taking place in our world. On July 20, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, told the Wall Street Journal that China had overtaken the United States to become the world’s number one energy consumer. One can read this development in many ways: as evidence of China’s continuing industrial prowess, of the lingering recession in the United States, of the growing popularity of automobiles in China, even of America’s superior energy efficiency as compared to that of China. All of these observations are valid, but all miss the main point: By becoming the world’s leading energy consumer, China will also become an ever more dominant international actor and so set the pace in shaping our global future.

Polish gas monopoly warns of industry shortages

Warsaw - Poland's largest gas monopoly, PGNiG, warned of gas shortages for industry clients this autumn if Warsaw fails to sign a deal with Russia on increasing deliveries.

Russian oil cos vying for last unalloted big fields

MOSCOW (Reuters) - At least five oil companies are in the running to win development rights to Russia's giant Arctic Trebs and Titov oil deposits, the country's last big unalloted fields that will be sold at auction on Dec 2.

Russia's LUKOIL announces 4 tenders in Iraq

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's No. 2 oil producer, LUKOIL, and partners have issued four new tenders for construction and energy projects at Iraq's West Qurna Phase Two oilfield, the company said Monday in a press statement.

The tenders are for the construction of an oil export pipeline; a tank farm at Tuba; a power distribution station and an associated gas processing plant; and an oil gathering system, central processing facilities and a water supply system.

Oil Scene: Time to open up!

SHALE gas might have already changed the overall supply-demand balance in North America and perhaps globally, but “there are (still) many underlying uncertainties, including growing environmental worries and technology challenges besides water availability and land issues.”

Gas is no panacea for environmental issues either. Pierre Gadonneix, the president of the World Energy Council, invited me, along with a handful of others for lunch.

Saudis hold oil reserves for 80 years of production

At current production rates, Saudi Arabia has oil reserves for more than 80 years of sustained production, according to Khalid A. Al-Falih, the president and the CEO of Saudi Aramco.

Addressing the 21st World Energy Congress in Montreal, Al-Falih said that Aramco’s capability went even beyond, as it was expecting to increase its current reserves of 260 billion barrels by an additional 40 per cent and was endeavouring to raise the rate of recovery from its major existing fields to 70 per cent — twice the world average.

The Future of Fossil Power Generation: An interview with Michael Suess, CEO of Fossil Power Generation at Siemens

“Even in 20-30 years we cannot replace fossil fuels with solar and wind,” Suess said. “There is no way around [the need for] clean natural gas plants.” This conclusion will be hotly debated by some renewable proponents. Also worth considering, though, is that gas plants play well with renewables. Unlike coal (or nuclear, I note) generation, gas can be turned on or shut down quickly to balance out the load to accommodate intermittent wind and solar.

The shrinking assessment

The more cheap and easily available oil is, the more is the chance of we getting economically stronger and prosperous. That no way suggests that expensive oil would stop economic growth and push us into the dark ages. Not at all, but it will definitely pose new challenges that need to be countered to keep the global engine going. The new world of costly oil prices will open new opportunities and might also be better than the current state. Triple digit oil prices, recently seen during the economic boom preceding the recession, might no longer remain an aberration.

Kalamazoo College speaker to address future with fossil fuel

KALAMAZOO — Richard Heinberg, noted author who advocates for an end to the world’s reliance on fossil fuel, will be speaking at Kalamazoo College at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

Heinberg’s talk, “Living In Transition: Navigating the End of the Fossil Fuel Era” will take place in the Light Fine Arts building at the corner of Academy and Thompson streets on the college’s campus.

Future Human Returns With End of the Oil Age

Another month, another very exciting-looking lineup at Future Human, our salon event at The Book Club, Shoreditch. This time round it’s End of the Oil Age, and we’ll be discussing the future of energy both at home and abroad. It takes place from 7-9.30pm on Wednesday October 13, and you can buy tickets here.

Rather than merely say what a nasty man Tony Hayward is, we want to create a constructive look at how energy is changing, how it’ll impact upon our lives, and how the UK government, private industry, and ordinary people can ease our passing into a post-oil world.

Residents in West apprehensive about oil boom

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A well named Jake and a controversial drilling technique are fueling a Western oil rush, raising hopes for economic revival and questions about the environment — and who's going to share in the wealth.

Not many wells have been drilled yet, but just about everything else is in place for an oil boom in eastern Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska, where the Niobrara Shale and its hard-to-tap crude lay nearly two miles underground.

Preliminary work is under way to map underground geological formations to figure out the best places to drill. Oil prospectors are poring over courthouse records to see who holds mineral rights so they can negotiate deals.

Oil hovers below $74 as traders eye US economy

"We have seen the fundamentals exert a more powerful influence upon prices over the latest week or so and if it continues, the bulls could be in for a genuinely rude awakening," Cameron Hanover said in a report.

"The only reason oil prices are above $70 a barrel is because investors have been using oil as a surrogate for the economy, equities or currencies."

Societe Generale Reduces Oil Price Forecast for 2011 by $7 to $85 a Barrel

Societe Generale SA cut its oil price forecast for next year to $85 a barrel from $92 as demand growth slows and production outside OPEC expands.

Growth in worldwide crude consumption in 2011 will decrease to 1.4 million barrels a day from 1.8 million a day this year, as the pace of economic recovery slackens, France’s second- largest bank by market value said in a report today.

Thirsty Europe boosts gas demand

Norwegian giant Statoil said European industrial gas demand is picking up far more quickly than expected, adding that demand in Asia is also on the rise.

"We see European industrial consumption coming back more quickly than we initially expected," Rune Bjornson, Statoil's executive vice-president for natural gas, told Reuters.

Hedge Funds Cut Bullish Natural Gas Bets to Lowest This Year

Hedge funds reduced their bets on rising natural gas prices to the lowest level this year as mild weather and a lack of storms in the Gulf of Mexico forced traders to unload their bullish positions.

Hedge funds and other large speculators cut wagers on gas gaining by 16 percent in the seven days ended Sept. 14, according to the weekly Commitments of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Gas has tumbled 28 percent this year amid rising production from shale formations and a supply glut that air-conditioning demand in the hottest summer in at least 60 years didn’t significantly dent.

Pakistan's Biggest Refinery Restarts After Six-Week Shutdown From Flooding

Pak-Arab Refinery Ltd., Pakistan’s biggest oil processor, resumed production from its plant in Multan after the nation’s deadliest floods receded, Saba Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the company, said by telephone from Karachi.

The plant, which processes a third of the country’s crude, was shut down six weeks ago because fuel tankers couldn’t pass flooded roads. The 100,000 barrel-a-day refinery lies about 900 kilometers (560 miles) northeast of the port city of Karachi.

Kuwait to hike oil output in northern fields: report

Kuwait will hike oil output in the country's northern fields to 850,000 barrels per day by the end of December, local daily Kuwait Times reported Monday, citing sources from the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC).

The report said the state-owned KOC, in charge of the Gulf emirate's oil exploration, was in negotiations with several foreign firms to further develop the northern fields.

Typhoon Fanapi Causes Flooding, Shuts Petrochemical Factories in Taiwan

Formosa Plastics Corp. and Nan Ya Plastics Corp. are among more than 30 petrochemical makers in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan that have halted production since yesterday afternoon because of flooding caused by Typhoon Fanapi.

“Floodwaters in Kaohsiung’s petrochemical parks were higher than 100 centimeters (39 inches) yesterday and Taiwan Power Co. cut the electricity supply for safety reasons,” Kuo Chao-chung, head of the petrochemical section at the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Industrial Development Bureau, said by telephone. “It’s still raining there and production may resume tonight or tomorrow morning at the earliest.”

California catastrophe focuses concern over Snohomish pipelines

Two major fuel lines run through Snohomish County, and while failures are rare, the consequences of a ruptured line can be catastrophic.

Hess Refinery in New Jersey Has Spill Into Waterway Through Hole in Pipe

Hess Corp. reported a hole in a pipe at its Port Reading refinery, according to a filing with state regulators.

Dudley Faces Fight to Drill in Gulf as BP Says Goodbye Macondo

The BP Plc relief well that killed the worst U.S. oil spill may be the last it drills in the Gulf of Mexico for some time.

Robert Dudley, the American who takes over as chief executive officer from Tony Hayward on Oct. 1, risks being shut out from the region where BP is the biggest producer as he deals with legal battles over blame for the spill. The London-based company, called “reckless” by President Barack Obama, will come under greater scrutiny than rivals from regulators when drilling resumes, analysts said.

Family business knocked to its knees by oil spill, moratorium

June 1 was supposed to have been a good day at R&D Enterprises of Louisiana, the family oil-field service business Dan Ness and Leslie Bertucci founded eight years ago in their home on Hesper Avenue in Metairie.

After nearly a decade of steady growth providing specialized tanks and storage racks to offshore rigs, R&D was ramped up to meet a surge of orders that promised to double the company's annual revenue.

And then the roof fell in.

Science and the Gulf

Getting a fix on how much oil lies below the surface and where it is going will make possible more-educated guesses about its effects on the natural system.

TNK's Fridman Aims to Buy BP Oil Fields in Push Beyond Russia

Mikhail Fridman, executive chairman of Russian oil producer TNK-BP, said the company is ready to buy fields in Venezuela, Vietnam and other countries BP Plc is selling to cover costs for the Gulf of Mexico spill.

TNK-BP, an equal partnership between London-based BP and a group of Russian billionaires, should “expand broadly in the world,” Fridman, who is also interim chief executive officer, said in an interview at his Moscow office. BP “has no need to sell to a competitor and make them stronger.”

China Suspends Ministerial-Level Talks With Japan Over Boat Clash

Diplomatic ties between the world’s second- and third-biggest economies soured as China escalated a dispute over Japan’s extended detention of a fishing boat captain for a collision in disputed waters.

China yesterday severed senior-level government contacts with Japan, halting aviation talks and suspending a meeting on coal because of the incident. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu pledged “strong countermeasures” if Japan failed to release the captain. Japan’s government hasn’t been informed of the measures, a spokesman said today.

“Any so-called judicial proceedings the Japanese side takes against the Chinese captain are illegal and invalid,” Ma said in yesterday’s statement. “Japan will have to bear all of the consequences.”

Cnooc Falls in Hong Kong as China-Japan Dispute in East China Sea Worsens

Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy producer, fell in Hong Kong trading as a growing territorial dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea threatens to disrupt oil and gas development in the area.

Glencore Said to Seek $750 Million for Stand-by Credit, Trade Guarantees

Glencore International AG, the world’s biggest commodities trader, is seeking $750 million of loans for stand-by credit and guarantees, a person familiar with the situation said.

Leaders must counter bogus oil sands spin

What do the seal harvesters of Atlantic Canada have in common with workers in Alberta’s oil sands? Both are targets of sustained attacks aimed at the demise of their livelihood. And in both cases, the main strategy of attackers is to eliminate the market.

Used Hybrids Good Value Now - Blue Book

IRVINE, Calif. -- Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, a provider of new car and used car information, today reports that now may be a great time to buy for those who purchase hybrids with the intent of reducing emissions and greenhouse gases as opposed to savings at the pump, as covered in the company's Blue Book Market Report for September 2010.

Sri Lanka to build 1-GW nuclear power plant by 2030

(Reuters) - Sri Lanka is to have its first nuclear power plant within the next 20 years to generate cheap electricity to draw large investments and boost its post-war economy, a top government official said on Monday.

Environmental Groups Sue European Union for Lack of Biofuels Transparency

Four environmental groups are suing the regulator of the 27-nation European Union for lack of transparency on its biofuels policy.

The lawsuit was filed today in the European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg by ClientEarth, Transport and Environment, the European Environmental Bureau and BirdLife International, the groups said in an e-mailed statement.

Shell, UN to Back $100 Million Plan for Clean Energy Cookstoves

The United Nations Foundation and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Shell Foundation plan to help organize an effort to raise as much as $100 million over five years to provide clean-burning cooking stoves to the world’s poor, according to a document outlining the plan.

To combat what they call a significant danger to women’s health in the developing world, the two foundations are seeking cooperation and funding from other corporate, government, philanthropic and academic entities and have received “strong expressions of interest from other donors,” according to the document.

Emissions Group IETA `Disappointed' by Regulator Decision on HFC Requests

The International Emissions Trading Association said it was “disappointed” by the United Nations carbon market regulator’s decision to review all requests for issuance of credits linked to hydrofluorocarbons.

“This decision will certainly have an impact on the market over the short-term, but any long-term impact will be determined by the Board’s decision at its 58th meeting,” IETA said in an e-mailed statement. “It could be that after that date, all of the issuances that are currently postponed are processed. We have no choice but to wait and see.”

Hong Kong's Air Pollution May Climb to Third-Quarter Record

Hong Kong’s roadside air pollution reached record levels for the third quarter, putting the city’s government under more pressure to clean up the environment.

U.S. companies lag global ones on carbon disclosure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European companies are working harder at disclosing their financial risks associated with greenhouse gas emissions than North American companies,according to an annual report.

Siemens, Texas Instruments Find Opportunities in Climate Change

More companies foresee business opportunities that may offset the market risks of climate change, a survey by institutional investors found.

Almost 90 percent of those responding in the survey of 500 of the world’s largest public companies identified “significant opportunities” from climate change, up from 80 percent last year, the Carbon Disclosure Project said in a report today. Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, and Texas Instruments Inc., the U.S. chipmaker, were among those citing new markets for sustainable products and more demand for energy- efficient appliances.

Eat meat and save the planet, says eco-warrior and former vegetarian

Simon Fairlie, a farmer and writer, is now shattering the consensus that we should avoid eating any meat or raising any animals in order to save the planet.

In a new book that questions the impact of meat-eating on greenhouse gases, he says the vegan diet espoused by many environmentalists is “neither sensible nor attainable for society as a whole”.

Australian regions prepare to roll out emission trading for electricity generators

The New South Wales (NSW) state government is preparing to export its emissions trading scheme to the rest of Australia, after the state opposition government confirmed they would back a plan to take the scheme to other states.

Although responsibility for pricing carbon should fall under federal jurisdictions, state governments are frustrated with the lack of progress and could effectively introduce a nationwide scheme if they all agree to price carbon in the same way.

Australia Needs `Simpler and Softer' Emissions Approach, Norton Rose Says

Australia should start with a “simpler and softer” emissions trading plan that is limited to fewer industries and eases the financial burden on polluters, a lawyer at Norton Rose LLP said.

World powers to tackle climate amid skepticism

NEW YORK (AFP) – The 17 nations responsible for 80 percent of carbon emissions blamed for global warming will seek to unblock stalled climate negotiations this week but analysts expect little progress.

The two-day Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate kicks off Monday and will include top government envoys, including US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern.

A Threat to California’s Climate Change Progress

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s ambitious climate change agenda could evaporate in a vote in November that pits renewable energy advocates and allies against oil companies and manufacturers.

The U.S. Senate has scuttled President Barack Obama’s goal of putting a price on carbon, leaving state and regional efforts the key drivers in the effort to move the country past coal and oil.

A new front

WITH LITTLE chance of passing comprehensive climate legislation anytime soon, Congress has moved the debate under the radar -- but it's no less rancorous. Now environmentalists and their opponents are battling over the Environmental Protection Agency's plans to regulate the carbon emissions of power plants, cement kilns and other "stationary sources," which the agency is preparing to begin doing early next year.

This rankles many lawmakers, since some areas of the country will be disproportionately hurt in any carbon clampdown, and the EPA won't compensate them for the costs of the agency's mandates. Perhaps even worse from lawmakers' point of view: Congress doesn't have any say in the regulation, since the EPA is acting under the existing Clean Air Act.

A new way for the world to bank?

Bangladesh is geographically dominated by the Ganges delta, acutely prone to floods and drought. It’s at the sharp end of two converging crises – climatic and economic – which are to some extent threatening us all. The country has made great strides in protecting vulnerable villages through simple techniques such as tree belts, embankments and buffer strips along rivers. But it cannot pay for the hugely sophisticated – and costly – defences which guard rich world cities from climate upheaval. And even if it could afford to borrow the money required, the economic crisis means there’s little to be lent.

It’s just one example of the way in which life gets a lot harder when crises converge. We can expect more of the same in the not so distant future. As peak oil looms, we face the chilling prospect of a combined energy and food crisis. And we will surely face an even greater, more lasting economic one, unless we devise a financial system that is better connected to the real, physical economy. A system which attaches value to the environmental and social impact of investments, not just to their short-term financial reward. One which helps developing countries achieve a sustainable society and economy, without incurring the hugely detrimental environmental cost of our own economic development in the industrialised West.

The article that claims that this is a great time to buy used hybrids should be taken with quite a few granules of NaCl.

Early model Prius's, at least, have a very bad habit of breaking down in ways that take thousands of dollars to remedy. It may be that more recent models and models other than Prius do not share this disadvantage, but I would be hesitant to throw lots of cash at one of these just for a chance to temporarily reduces emissions. My advise would be to try biking, waking or public transit rather than making a major purchase like this of a product that is likely to cost you mega-bucks.

I was surprized to read that new batteries aren't available for early Civic Hybrids, only reconditioned ones, according to an article in the Jun/Jul 2010 issue of Homepower. Dealerships charge around $3200 to replace the battery pack with a factory recon. My mother purchased the 2003 Civic Hybrid shortly before her death, which I drove for a few months, averaging 42 MPG in mixed driving. Enjoyed the car alot. The CVT took some getting used to. My sister still owns/drives it.

The HP article is about how to recondition your hybrid battery DIY. Quite an undertaking. Properly reconditioning the NiMh "sticks" (cells) takes several weeks. Sorry, HP members only, online....
....or try your local library.

Battery condition is a major issue when considering a used hybrid. Some states have required that manufacturers extend battery warranties to 150K miles. Check to see if the warranty is transferable or expect to pay for a battery replacement. As hybrids become more numerous I expect battery replacement shops will become nearly as common as transmission and muffler shops.

Best hopes for EV/hybrid battery standardization.

I am sure factory reconditioned packs include cell replacement, in the parlance of "reconditioned" starters and alternators, not just "reconditioning" to remove memory affects.

That is possible, but I wouldn't make a large bet on it without researching it. Battery cells tend to be like other electronic items, soon discontinued, or even instantly obsolete (i.e. you download a new data sheet, request a sample, and discover that the part has already been discontinued but marketing hasn't gotten that onto the website yet - really, no kidding.) Modern ones are complex enough to make that once the original manufacturer discontinues them, that's often the end of the line. And old inventory (aka "new old stock") may not be worth much, depending on the chemistry, even with rechargeables.

Sometimes, as with AA cells or the common 9-volt battery, a physical "form factor" lives on and on, but cells and batteries for electric cars aren't standardized in that manner. And the history of the car industry, with idiosyncratically custom-made parts all the way down, on occasion, to small screws and the like, does not bode well for standardization. After all, their very raison d'etre is what economists call "marginal differentiation", or as marketers might put it, keeping out of commodity hell, or being a price-maker rather than a price-taker.

Not sure about the latest li-ion packs, but the earlier ones had scads of standard form-factor cells (just like a Dewalt tool battery does). I suspect there will be a cottage industry to sort/select and repair such packs. It won't be rocket-science, but it will take some expertise.

Maybe I should get a capacitive discharge welder and hang out my shingle?

That might happen with certain specific cells (but not the idiosyncratic ones currently in cars.) And it will stay a cottage industry. No player big enough and well-equipped enough to be truly competent will want to assume the liabilities associated with cells that catch fire or explode, possibly owing to mismatching in the refurbished packs and subsequent overcharging, or to the occasional badly made (and very possibly counterfeit-labeled) cell from God knows where in China finding its way undetected into one of the refurbished packs.

But the real fun will begin some day in the future after somebody fiddles with an EV or hybrid-car battery pack, the pack subsequently catches fire, and half the block is toast because the fire department can't possibly put it out, what with oxidizer and reductant both being present in intimate contact and in huge quantities.

If you know where I can buy replacement batteries to fit Dewalt tools that are not Dewalt batteries, please post the name of the company.

Likewise any other manufacturer.

If the Mommy state really wanted to do something for us, it could standardize the rechargeable battery powered tool industry;virtually all heavy users of such tools accumulate lots of pefrectly good but unneeded tools because the way they are sold.Two new batteries are often priced nearly the same and sometimes higher than the same new tool with batteries and charger as a package.

You can't find batteries to fit, as the plug is patented, but you can find cells that fit inside those batteries - used to be 12 C-size the last time I popped one open. Of course you'd have to buy the cells in bulk (mostly from China) to make the costs work. What you'd end up with is a "send us a dead battery and $20 bucks and we'll send you a re-furb" kind of deal. Since often only one cell fails, you'd have a pile of "good but used" cells before long too, which you could re-sell much like the used tires at the corner tire dealer.

I have also thought about making a back-pack battery with a cord to the Dewalt plug -- not quite as convenient as the cordless, but would be better than plug-in.

From my past look at such a business, you can't make a mint doing it alone, but you might make a survival wage.

I have also thought about making a back-pack battery with a cord to the Dewalt plug -- not quite as convenient as the cordless, but would be better than plug-in.

I have done that. Virtually any old battery drill which isn't worth the money for a new battery is a candidate. Sometimes it's nice to have several drills handy instead of swapping bits during a job. Voltage doesn't matter much, even 7.2V drills work nicely on 12V. Easy to overwork them until the overtemp cutoff activates.

A good 12VDC connector system helps.


What's the amp rating?

I have been buying them through Allied Electric.

But I've just been doing some searching and found them cheaper on e-Bay, search "Anderson SB50".

You want the grey ones, they are supposed to be color coded and keyed to voltage, grey being 36V. But grey is what everyone sells for 12V.

They are rated 50 amps continuous, for short periods they can go much higher, like jump starting a car.

6319 is for #8-6 wire $2.50 each on E-bay
6319G1 is for #10 or smaller wire $3.19 on E-bay.

They can be crimped, I prefer soldering for easy reuse, refit.

Thanks! A lot cheaper than the trolling motor plug/receptical I mounted in my truck (for a 1500w inverter).

These guys rebuilt my Ryobi batteries better (and cheaper) than new. They'll even upgrade to NiMh or higher capacity NiCad.


For example, replacing a Dewalt 18 volt drill battery pack at your local retailer can run upwards of $89.99 or better. With our service, we dismantle your existing worn out battery pack and replace the battery cells inside with your choice of upgraded cell options shown in the box below.

I've also had good luck with generic batteries from these guys:



Try these, around 50 $, for a no-name copy: http://www.voltmanbatteries.com/servlet/the-TOOL-BATTERIES/Categories
(see mid of page for dewalt).

Swedish company that Ive used: http://www.batteriexperten.com/en/artiklar/tool-battery/dewalt/index.html
but prices are higher here, hmm, 60-100 $.

Refurbish with new cells with one of the mentioned companies in posts above, that should work well.
I switched the battery (80 $) to a new no-name for my Bosch drill, and it runs now 2 years later really well. I am happy. The Bosch itself is 6 years old, medium used. Ofcourse you can almost get a new drill for 100 $... ;( but keep consumption down, ehh.

Good luck!

I have had good experience with mdsbattery.co.uk too, but couldnt see that they had power tool batteries...

The Dewalt LiIon packs are made up of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells made by A123 systems out of MA. There are sources to get the individual cells if you are handy enough to cut open a pack and rebuild it.

But don't expect to save any money that way. A123 cells are very popular for hobby applications (RC) and many of us buy dewalt packs to disassemble them for the cells as its cheaper than buying them individually though hobby sources.

"I am sure factory reconditioned packs include cell replacement,"

Not according to the article.

(new cells are not available for a Civic Hybrid of that vintage.) Replacement battery packs are made from dead packs dealers return to Honda, which recovers the remaining good subpacks for reuse. These refurbished packs include a one year warranty.

The article goes on to say that the NiMh powder forms large crystals after thousands of cycles that hinder the movement of electrons and can cause the cells to overheat. Using a specially designed charger these crystals can be broken down, restoring some of the functionality to the individual cells. This is what the article instructs the reader on, how to remove the battery sticks (groops of 6 individual cells), and refurbishing them with a charger. I would compare it to desulfating and equalizing the cells in a lead acid battery bank, different chemistry but same idea. This is essentially what Honda does: choose the best cells, "decrystallize" them and reassemble them into a full pack.

Already a cottage industry (see http://www.solarvan.co.uk/index_files/Page487.htm) for refurb of Honda IMA batteries - straight swap out £500.

Try this link to EcoModder forum, registration is free.


That's the main reason I decided to buy a Corolla instead of a Prius. I don't drive much, so the mileage difference wouldn't have made financial sense, given the higher cost of the Prius. I did like the cargo space in the Prius, and the environmental benefits, but I plan to drive this car into the ground. Given that, I was concerned that the Prius, like many new models, had maintenance issues that hadn't come to light yet.

People drive Corollas for 20 years, and because it's such a popular and long-established car, parts are readily available. I just felt in the long term, it was a greener, as well as a more economical, choice.

I gave serious consideration to going car-free, but decided it just wasn't possible, for safety reasons.

Yet more proof that you are much smarter than the average.

I am still excited about the possibilities of hybrids and EVs longer term, but early adopters always have to accept risks of working out the kinks on new technology.

And ultimately, we have to mostly move away from the insanities of our car culture.

You did the right thing, Leanan, and for the right reasons.

The Corolla is, under favorable conditions, a "20 year car". The jury is still out on the ultimate life expectancy of Toyota's hybrid synergy drive. I have an '06 Prius and so far, it has been bulletproof. I'm very happy with it. But I bought it because I have a long, 72 mile round trip daily commute. I have over 77,000 miles on my Prius so far, but I bought the thing from the beginning under the premise that I would only own it for approximately eight (or perhaps nine) years. My guesstimate is that the hybrid battery systems won't outlast the more durable of the conventional technology cars. I have a Ford F-150, too. It's an '88. This 22 year old vehicle has 180,000 miles on it and I still use it regularly, although I wouldn't trust it to daily hard use out on I-95 in and out of Philadelphia. At some point, I don't know when, but someday, I won't be driving in and out of Philadelphia. I'm guessing that my next car may very well be a Corolla;-)

I think you made a superb choice. I have a Fit for similar reasons, and a hybrid for the daily kid-taxi work. I expect both to be worn out by miles before any imminent crash digs deep enough for me to care -- my goal is simply to get the kids grown and out using them.

I see hybrids like my LED bulb investments -- a fairly practical way to support a nascent but valuable technology. My next car will probably be a plug-in hybrid or EV, for the same reason. It'll be quite a while before we're down to one car (if the long slow slide continues), and while I have a small family fleet and solid employment I'll remain diversified. My only rule is that each new car must have better mileage than what it replaces. That's getting harder to maintain!

Great minds think alike. I was looking very hard for a Fit when I bought my last car (long story, couldn't find a manual version). As much as I like to support new technology that deserves a shot, that much complexity in a used car just isn't worth it. A simple, reliable compact makes a good used car. Another cheap and simple choice is a motor scooter* for short trips. Short trips only though, because they don't have the durability for high miles.

* Avoid the no-name made in China knockoffs, and stick with scooters instead of motorcycles. Motorcycles are made for performance enthusiasts, meaning expensive and high maintenance. I ride one, so I should know.

Please provide reference to Priuses breaking down. My five year old Prius has been perfect but I realize that is just one Prius. Other than the recalls for the supposed accelerator problem, I had not heard or read that a bunch of Priuses were breaking down.

Just an anecdotal one, but some family friends had parked their Prius for my daughter's bday party a couple summers back, and after the two hours or so of the party, found the pack discharged for no apparent reason. Had to get towed.. totally dead. My Dad's Prius, right in front of theirs that day, has been just fine, as far as I've heard, for 4 yrs..

I don't know what the problem was.. but clearly there are going to be some bugs to fix.

And let's add that cars do break down, so an incident like that would hardly make the national news - or any news at all. Even if that particular breakdown happens excessively often, there's no way anyone outside the secret confines of the manufacturing and distribution chain could connect the dots between unreported incidents occurring randomly here and there. They'd have no way to know the dots even existed. That makes it unreasonable to expect to find a news report on "a bunch of Priuses breaking down" even if they were - all the more so since Priuses are still fairly rare and obscure.

This is one case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Most of us simply can't assess the risk, and we might do best to leave it to early-adopter tech-geek or eco-geek types.

Consumer Reports surveys 1.4M vehicles, and the Prius is the most popular of hybrids and represents a measurable fraction of the nations cars, and of Toyota's sales. As such, reliability trends are indeed visible and monitored. There are measured responses to every year of Prius cars in the market.

Actually, news of hybrid issues tends to be overly-vigorous, given a ready bevy of detractors and a vocal group of buyers. For a modern buyer, getting stranded by a new car is very unexpected, and such stories are newsworthy - we have a populace attuned to testimonials instead of statistics, after all. The early "dead Prius" bugs were in the news, but those don't seem to be recurring after the early software fixes.

Note that I won't buy a first model year of ANY car, simply due to my expectation of undiscovered issues (I used to be a GM customer, once upon a time). I do believe that the Prius, after several generations, is past the early-adopter phase -- it's the first of the main-stream hybrids, IMHO.

Those are good points, and I'm also reminded that for now, and for the last 15 yrs or so, there is this other really useful source for hearing about what products are working or are breaking down. (This one!) I was poring over user testimonials as early as the mid 90's when I wanted to hear from the end-users to get a sense of the Pluses and Minuses of a particular product.

Wikipedia references an article pointing out that the very earliest NHW10s sold 1997-2000 had battery troubles. That's the only ref I've come across about this. This article isn't dated but refers to six years of Prii sales, so 2006? They state that Toyota claimed the only reason for battery replacement to date was due to accidents.

The Prius is one of the best cars out there. According to Consumer Reports, reliability of new and used Prii are "Much better than average", quantitatively 65% better, with an overall "Good Bet" rating as a used car.

While a few may have specific issues, and 2001-2003 models have "electrical" issues quite commonly (the only black mark on the reviews), they still rate superbly overall -- these issues do not detract appreciably from the overall expected quality of the vehicle. If you are buying a car, these are still good ones to buy. They cannot possibly cost megabucks....maybe a kilobuck or two in unexpected maintenance, which would still be just a few months of a typical new-car payment.

Well, given this information, I must admit I am a bit peeved by unsubstantiated statements that a bunch of prii are breaking down. The fact is, this would be a good time to buy a used Prius. Unfortunately, that also means my Prius is worth a lot less. But then, I wasn't going to sell it for several years, anyway. Love my Prius. I also loved my Civic Hybrid before that.

I've been getting solicitations in the mail to sell my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid

My 2008 Vibe with 18k on it has been trouble free. It has the same innards as the Matrix and Corolla.

E-85 powered vehicle wins automotive X-prise:


"So we avoided the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of batteries needed for an electric, and chose a conventional internal combustion engine running on E85," he said in a press release.


We had a good little discussion about the Xprize winning car in yesterdays Drumbeat.

Early model Prius's, at least, have a very bad habit of breaking down in ways that take thousands of dollars to remedy.

Any URLs or citations for this?

I ask because I have two family members, and acquaintence that each own a Prius, and have had no repairs required.

WTI is now the world's cheapest oil on the spot market.


I have never seen that before. The US is rapidly becoming an economic backwater.

Oil hovers below $74 as traders eye US economy

"We have seen the fundamentals exert a more powerful influence upon prices over the latest week or so and if it continues, the bulls could be in for a genuinely rude awakening," Cameron Hanover said in a report.

"The only reason oil prices are above $70 a barrel is because investors have been using oil as a surrogate for the economy, equities or currencies."

Herein lies the truth about the cost of a barrel of oil. The price is controlled by Wall Street interests who are using the oil market to offset their losses in other areas. It has nothing to do with supply and demand fundamentals, yet governments around the world refuse to regulate the market and stabilize oil at the true price which is closer to $30/bbl than $75. It's crazy and it does real harm to the world economy. It's time for oil prices to be taken out of the casino and put back into the hands of the producers.

Saudi Arabia wants a price of around $75 and they can still control prices.

But soon, they will not be able to and they price of oil will jump upwards.

We will never see $30/barrel ever again.


Herein lies the truth about the cost of a barrel of oil. The price is controlled by Wall Street interests who are using the oil market to offset their losses in other areas.

Well, I for one, would like to know how Wall Street interests control prices. Do they do it by buying futures contracts? What happens when they must sell those contracts? That would drive prices down just as much as buying them drive it up. Futures is a zero sum game. Every contract bought must also be sold.

And today, WTI, those contracts controlled by Wall Street, was the cheapest oil in the world. Tapis was over $82, Bonny Light was over $81 and Brent was over $80. But those prices driven up by wall street was only $74.79. And only four of those eleven blends listed by Upstream are traded on any futures market. How are those Wall street barons keeping Urals prices so high? Do they have agents in Russia bidding up the spot price?

I don't believe people who say oil prices are being controlled by the futures market really know what they are talking about. They really can't logically explain how they can control WTI prices, not to mention prices in the rest of the world, which at this time are even higher.

Ron P.

Abdulla Salem El-Badri, Secretary-General OPEC was on CNN yesterday. I was lucky enough to catch it in time to record it. Here are a few things he said:

CNN: If when we see the economic recovery take hold in mid 2011 are we going to a range, (in oil prices), of $90 to $100 basically because of demand?

El- Badri: We really don’t know at this time. The stimulus package (garbled) with us. When will exit take place? Do we need another stimulus package are not? We really don’t know.

Cnn: Right now we have compliance of just over 50% within the OPEC nations. Isn’t it high time you changed the quota to respond to the actual change in the markets today?

El-Badri: At this time it is not really a problem, a problem where we have to make a decision. I think the price we see at this time is comfortable, to us and to the world because we can invest and most of the world can grow. We want the world economy to grow and without any obstacles here and there.

Cnn: Iraq was a founding member of OPEC but is not part of your quota system. Is there too much politics around to get Iraq back into a quota system?

El-Badri: We want Iraq back in the production and allocation system but that will not happen before maybe four or five years because at this time their production is still low and their (garbled) and I don’t know when they will be on stream. We will have to wait and see how their production will develop.

Cnn: You know the criticism, within OPEC, that there is not enough investment in future production right now. They are not taking the profits and putting it back in to boost production and boost capacity. Is that a fair criticism of OPEC right now?

El-Badri: Right now we don’t know from now until 2020 is OPEC, call on OPEC, will it be 29 million barrel a day or 41 million barrel a day. This difference between low growth and high growth will cost us about 250 billion dollar. So we really need a security of demand.

CNN: Can we trust the figures that are coming out of the OPEC countries today? If you add it all up we are looking at proven reserves, according to OPEC of better than a trillion barrels. Is that accurate, nearly three quarters of the world’s proven reserves?

El-Badri: A trillion plus reserves is very, very accurate. We know the number, we put this number in our data, we distribute the numbers and we are sure.

I was a little surprised to hear El-Badri talk about the stimulus package as if this was the determining factor in world oil demand. It is very clear that he and OPEC pays close attention to the US economy. And his mention of the “call on OPEC” and his talking about "low growth and high growth" models tells me he also reads the EIA publications.

But I think the most important thing brought to light by the interview was CNN questioning the OPEC reserve numbers as well as El-Badri’s staunch defense of them. This tells me that perhaps the world is finally beginning to question these ridiculously high figures and OPEC is getting just a little sensitive of people questioning them.

Ron P.

I like this quote:

I think the price we see at this time is comfortable, to us and to the world because we can invest and most of the world can grow.

Most of the world? Which parts? Does that mean everybody except the U.S.? I read this as vaguely writing off any country (i.e. the U.S.) that can't grow within current prices. Tough luck, America.

Hirsch is coming out with his new book but the one I want to read hasn't been written. It would be an update to Simmon's Twilight.

It really does all come down to OPEC's reserves. Everything else is just a penny ante distraction since it is widely recognized that non-OPEC is near peak.

A new word for everybody:

pentrum (noun): one hundred billion barrels of hydrocarbon liquids.

Unless a conversation mentions pentrums, it's not about peak oil.

El-Badri says they got 10 pentrums. All the world's analytical prowess should be focused on that claim.

So we really need a security of demand.

In my opinion that statement is sub rosa communication to the United States government to keep demand strong.

1. Perhaps CAFE standards might be raised a whole 1 mpg, and such, but effectively meaningless for lowering US FF demand.

2. Expect lots of speeches, but no real actionable items.

Reduced consumption will continue be citizen self-initiated.

When I asked my banker sister to comment on this New York Times article, Wall Street’s Profit Engines Slow Down, I found her comment interesting from a Peak Oil perspective:

Yep - why raise capital when there's nothing to spend it on? lots of companies are sitting on a wad of cash already. most of the bond issuance has been to refinance higher interest rate debt, as far as raising capital for acquisitions, no one wants to sell at today's bargain basement prices unless they have to (sounds like the housing industry!)

What happens in a world where growth can't happen? What good is money in such a situation? You can sit on it, you can hoard it, but if there are no opportunities for it, what do you do?

I think it is true that there is likely to be no or very little over all growth. The positive side of this situation could be that it might draw more capital to the few areas that WILL likely grow--more efficient systems for energy use, alternative sources of energy, insulation, passive solar...

Of course, clear national and international policies could help clarify this picture and help move us in better directions more quickly.

Don't expect any leadership from the U.S., at least if it requires any spending. Tax cuts, yes. Spending, no. Let me clarify this for you. Alternative energy is screwed like everything else.

Wall Street, led by its cheerleader, CNBC, continues to beat the drum to keep the current tax rate on the rich. After that is in the bag, they believe, the economy will be "unleashed". I guess, then all the cash sitting around, will be invested. That is the mantra. Perhaps we will see. And if it doesn't happen, watch the market sink into oblivion as reality sets in.

The Angry Rich
Published: September 19, 2010

The spectacle of high-income Americans, the world’s luckiest people, wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness would be funny, except for one thing: they may well get their way. Never mind the $700 billion price tag for extending the high-end tax breaks: virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are rushing to the aid of the oppressed affluent.

You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.

And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.

But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” Sacrifice is for the little people.


"You see, the rich are different from you and me:"

Krugman's not rich? Where are we drawing that line these days?

ts - I tend to avoid the "tax the rich" discussions. Folks have their positions and I see very little to just swap thoughts with no real room for a fruitful debate. But one little aspect bugs me just a tad. It seems the discussion is always about taxing or not taxing the "rich". I get the feeling that many don't know who makes up the vast majority of these "rich". According to the generally trusted GAO, 75%+ plus of the "rich" are small business owners. The same folks who invest their capital and create more jobs than all the big corporations combined. I can only assume that policy makers assume that these folks will reduce their life styles and not take their increased tax burden from capitalization they planned to use to expand the business and hire more folks.

Perceptions will vary, of course.

A situation, especially an unpleasant, troublesome, or trying one, from which extrication is difficult.

Raise taxes, cut spending or create debt that can never be repayed. Somebody (everybody?) always gets screwed when there's not enough stuff to go around. Taxes are a form of rationing on a finite planet as we turn canabalistic, on ourselves. Those who have must give.

Employees are tax deductible as a business expense, so if a small business is clearing a quarter million a year for the owner (or majority share holder) there is no reason not to hire someone else to bump that back below the threshold if they really hate paying taxes that much.

Hmm, most equipment purchases are deductible as well, off the top with the employees before one even declares a profit.

I call red herring. I'll be blissing out if I manage to clear a quarter million a year personally, it really is enough to be considered rich.

Saudi Aramco’s 80-Year Reserves vs. German “Peak Oil”

Mr. Al-Falih explained at the 21st World Energy Conference held in Montreal that Saudi Aramco has 80 years production under its belt.

“He further added that Aramco’s capability went even beyond, as it was expecting to increase its current reserves of 260 billion barrels by an additional 40 percent and was endeavoring to raise the rate of recovery from its major existing fields to 70 percent -– twice the world average,” according to Arab News.

Okay, is Al-Falih, head of Saudi ARAMCO, blowing smoke here? Is there even a realistic chance that they can raise their recovery rate to 70%. This sounds like something coming out of the cornucopian camp; All we have to do is raise the recovery rate from about 33 percent to 70 percent and we more than double the world's oil reserves! Yeah right! And all we have to do is develop fusion energy and we will have a near infinite supply of electrical energy. Yeah, that is all we have to do.

Tis my opinion that what we "endeavor" to do and what we can actually do are two entirely different things. There is a wide chasm between what we may endeavor to do and what we can actually do, a chasm that will likely never be breached.

But Mr. Al-Falih laments that the annual growth of coal consumption has grown by 4.5% whereas oil consumption has only grown by 1.5%. This demonstrates to him an unfair and illogical disposition towards coal despite climate change and growing energy demands.

I am not sure but I believe that anything illogical cannot happen in the real world. That is, if it happens then there has to be a logical reason why it happened. And unfair? Unfair to whom?

Ron P.

Unfair to most of the other species on this planet. But that has never stopped us before.

Speaking of other species, this is a great article on carbon and soil:

You have to either laugh or cry over this article. So it now takes high science to determine that Mother Nature knows best? DUH!

To ameliorate stress, I have learned to laugh. Perhaps that's what Jon Stewart and Colbert are all about.

That's ridiculous. Grazing animals are the leading cause of desertification.


Maybe that model would work if the Earth's population was 500 million. But now? Not hardly.

Concerning average recovery rates I found this from the Oil & Gas Journal and it is relatively recent, November 2007. But it shocked me. I thought the average recovery rate was much greater.

Of the OPEC countries which together hold almost two-thirds of the world’s reserves, Saudi Arabia’s average recovery factor of 23% is in the upper echelon. Venezuela, the OPEC member with the most experience (since the 1950s) with both secondary and tertiary recovery projects, also has an overall recovery factor of 23%. Consequently, by analogy the overall recovery factor for the bulk of the world’s conventional oil reserves would at best be about 20%. A simple weighted average among the major oil provinces gives an average recovery factor of 22%. This is well within the range of solution gas drive reservoirs (15-25%) with some added IOR technology effects, which are the most widespread in the world.

The world's average recovery rate is at best 20 percent? Can that be correct?

Ron P.

Saudi Arabia's Crude Oil Reserves Propaganda

3. Recovery Factors and Remaining Recoverable Reserves

Recovery factors vary according to each field and each part of a field. The recovery factor is defined as the ultimate recoverable oil divided by the oil initially in place. This 2004 ASPO presentation stated that “the average global recovery factor is about 30-35%”. This is based on data from the IHS Energy database on 9,000 fields worldwide containing 1,400 Gb reserves. The recovery factor bands are shown in the figure below.

Fig 5 – Recovery Factor Bands, 9,000 Worldwide Fields with 1,400 Gb Reserves

From the cost perspective, it is logical. From the environmental perspective, it is not. Not that oil is all that great either. Yep. The Saudis are the true environmentalists. Who knew?

The National Geographic Channel is currently showing a 2-hour documentary called Collapse: Based on the Book by Jared Diamond.

In the year 2210, scientists investigate the collapse of the most-powerful civilization in history.

Thanks for the heads up Leanan. But I have missed most of it. Checked and it does not come on the National Geo channel again anytime soon. But it does come on Planet Green (GRN) on Sunday, September 26 at 12 AM CDT. That is channel 286 on Direct TV and channel 465 on AT&T U-verse. I have my TVOE set to record it.

Ron P.

It airs a week from now on the National Geographic Channel, at the same time (Monday 9/27, 11:00-1:00pm).

It apparently aired on Friday as well.

That is funny. If this global civilization collapses because we have used up the easily recoverable fossil fuel, on what basis is a new civilization going to rise that will create the conditions for scientists to investigate the past? Well maybe scientists from another planet...

Niven and Pournelle asked the same question about their alien civilization in The Mote in God's Eye. As they pointed out, it's hard, in their case, to make the jump from wood and alcohols to hydrogen fusion all at one go. N&P offered two possible answers: (a) well-armored museums with technology samples and (b) two parallel civilizations, one on the planet and one in the asteroids.

Given good, cheap fusion, migration to the asteroids might be feasible. Of course, given good, cheap fusion, getting off of fossil fuels would be a lot easier. I always thought the museums were kind of hokey, but they were a necessary story element to allow the humans to discover certain information.

A somewhat plausible possibility is groups centered on big hydro sources that preserve a certain level of tech. That still leaves the question of how big the society has to be to support "scientists". My own guess is at least several millions.

Thus my pointing out Scandinavia and Brazil as potential "Islands of civilization".

Brazil has enough technology to get by, 80+% hydro electricity and can export food (also building 10,000 km of new rail lines this decade).

They could trade food and raw materials for highly engineered goods with Scandinavia.

But if most of the world has declined into anarchy, it should be fairly easy for the "islands of civilization" to extract food and raw materials from those areas of anarchy.


Ooh! Ooh! -- hand raises quickly -- Here in the Pacific Northwest we have both Brazilian levels of hydro power and Scandinavian levels of engineering. And we're food exporters to boot!

QUITE true, but your border controls are pretty bad.

Best Hopes for Bob Shaw and his "Earth Marines",


Yes, we get lots of Kanuckian health-care refugess streaming southward across the border. ;-)

Ooh! Ooh! --hand raises quickly,too-- Here in the Pacific Northwest we's got petroleum-free sail transport to move that food around, too! Salish Sea Trading Cooperative and Sail Transport Company. We promise to ship lutefisk into Ballard only.

Hey Jonathan, congrats on presenting at ASPO!

What do you have against Ballard?

A bicycle specifically made for Zimbabwe.

A nice heart warming story, but I focused in on the durable, easy to repair, single speed 55 lb bicycle.


Perhaps a market here in the US as well ?


The Great Recession is officially over.

Yes I heard that on CNBC this morning. They said that we cannot have a "double dip recession". That is if the economy turns south again it will be another recession not a continuation of this one, that is the one that ended, supposedly, in June 2009.

However, if one is looking at the unemployment rate, the economy has not headed north since it first headed south in December of 2007. I guess it is all about what constitutes a recession.

Ron P.

And as a counter-point, from the WSJ< today!


where the news is that

Bond markets are growing riskier as investors seeking steady returns bid up prices and ignore some early warning signs similar to those that flashed during the credit bubble.

Those bonds include treasuries, corporate issues and state/local funding measure. Prices are up, rates down, and the bubble is about ready to pop, IMO.


The bubble in bonds has been around for awhile. Any ideas for alternatives? Fertilizer, I guess.

That's a pretty good call, fertiliser, just a couple of months too late.

BHP launched a $40bn takeover bid for Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, Canada, the world largest potash producer, and holder of the world's largest reserves.
Shares were $85 in june, now $147.

Directors rejected the offer as "undervalued".

Just to make things interesting China is getting ready to make a counter offer.

I'd sure live to be owning a piece of something that the world's largest mining company and China are having a bidding war over!


Federal, state, and local debt is growing twice as fast as individual and business debt has fallen the last year or so. In other words, there has been no letup in the supply of new debt.

Foreign central banks in general, depsite some minor unloading by China, have still bought about half of new debt in the last few years. Mainly that is a side effect of direct and indirect dollar intervention, support, etc..

If individuals, businesses go back to having more debt - which is quite possible especially for businesses trying to lock in low long term interest rates - supply/demand in the interest rate market may suddenly become less balanced. I expect when that happens individuals pouring their entire savings into bond funds may reconsider if that was a good idea.

Gulf Breeze is set to adopt its leaner budget and rolled back the property tax Tuesday. An ornamental fence around Gulf Breeze Schools looks so good the city wants to add a little more. City to applaud Pall Corporation and is set to notify utility customers of rate hike.


I have NEVER heard in my life of property taxes being lowered. In FLORIDA no less. No state income tax. This is where beachmommy lives, maybe she is on the city council and never told us.

Perhaps they are trying to jump start the realestate market down there. Gulf Breeze:

Houses have depreciated 9.4% over the last 12 months. There are 1031 homes for sale in this location, including 652 foreclosures.


A family member was over in Orange Beach a few weeks ago. She said that there are some real bargans on forclosures and fire sales, and a seasonal neighbor sold her home in J'ville and bought a new beach view house in Mexico Beach for under $100K. Buyer's market on the Gulf coast, it seems. It sure is in the NC mountains. We just cut the price on our 16 acres across the road. (offering a TOD discount and inclusion in our community garden to qualified doomers ;-)

Actually Mommy emailed me. It was the new assessments reflecting devaluation. Notice how the article fails to mention that. Tell me newspapers and other media do not practice 'homeyism' sometimes.

They reassessed our entire county for this year's taxes. So many properties had been previously under-assessed that many folks' taxes went up causing a lot of outrage and demands for reductions ("how dare you raise our taxes during a recession!"). Instead, the commisioners voted to build a new school :-()

If folks were skating before, then they deserve to get assessed properly. The only fair way to do it. If the taxes are too high, vote in folks to reduce them, but don't complain if vital services are cut.

Too bad many folks are just scraping by, some on fixed incomes or unemployment. However, the tax office seems to have a sense of compasion in such cases.

Those houses are only bargains if the drop in housing prices has leveled off. However the word is that banks have a huge stockpile of foreclosures that they have not yet put on the market. When this shadow inventory hits the market the prices will continue downward.

The slide in U.S. home prices may have another three years to go as sellers add as many as 12 million more properties to the market.

Shadow inventory -- the supply of homes in default or foreclosure that may be offered for sale -- is preventing prices from bottoming after a 28 percent plunge from 2006, according to analysts from Moody’s Analytics Inc., Fannie Mae, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Plc. Those properties are in addition to houses that are vacant or that may soon be put on the market by owners.

“Whether it’s the sidelined, shadow or current inventory, the issue is there’s more supply than demand,” said Oliver Chang, a U.S. housing strategist with Morgan Stanley in San Francisco. “Once you reach a bottom, it will take three or four years for prices to begin to rise 1 or 2 percent a year.”

full article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-15/u-s-home-prices-face-three-year...

.....it will take three or four years for prices to begin to rise 1 or 2 percent a year.”

Three or four years.......I won't hold him to that.

652/1031 = 63% of the homes are foreclosures?

Is that unprecidented for the area?

Here is what a good condo on the canal dropped to. No real significant oil directly hit here.
2007-$250K Today-<$100K

Edit : Listed on Website @$200K. The $100K is if you start working the deal.I have heard bids of $80K being accepted. Many auctions, very few private purchases, most are investment groups or other banks. 85% of the sellers are banks.

Feelin Good, Splittin Wood

I thought I'd save this for the end of the day since it's way OT.

We had our first fall rain (about 8/10 of an inch) this past weekend. In fact, this is our first real rain since about May. What a joy...I didn't have to irrigate this weekend or today. And, it was cool. Plus, the garden vegies are getting tired and want to go to sleep. I am so tired of picking stuff.

This afternoon I got the splitter going and split around a 1/3rd of a cord. It was about 55 degrees in the shade and wonderful! It was fun to see those pieces build up. FWIW, this is wood is for next year.

And, tomorrow I can spray brush and, maybe, get my cover crops in. Oh, joy. Seriously, I hope summer is over...I need a break!


+10 Todd. You gotta love Spring and Fall. I rebuilt my splitter this year and have plenty of standing dead trees nearby (paved roads.....don't tell anybody). Great year for this energy scavenger.

We're behind on rain as well. Here's to available irrigation!

I was just getting out of the backcountry when the rain arrived (Yolla Bolla Wilderness).
Fall is in the air, and mushrooms and steelhead will soon be my passions.
I'm a forger, and have survived as a hunter gather (spear fisherman).
Pushing a house and property through life is not the mountain I'm climbing.

FYI for those in the Madison area: apparently Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth) will be speaking on campus this Wednesday evening (7:00 at Science Hall, room 180).


Her blurb: "Peak Oil and the implosion of high-leverage finance schemes around the world are converging into a “perfect storm” that may threaten prosperity and social cohesion. The consequences are frightening: “hallucinated wealth” is vanishing, real unemployment is rising, and social unrest is growing amid global tensions over energy resources, water and land. Families and communities should prepare for the challenging times ahead."

This is a little off topic but relevant .

Prop 19 in California, which is basically a mariauna legalization law, has picked up the endorsement of some powerful labor unions, which view possible associated tax revenues as saving thier jobs.

This thing is going to snowball if it passes in California.

Read all about it in the LA Times.

Just another example of the current degeneration of society.

Like we were degenerate before somebody had the bright idea of making certain drugs illegal?

I say keep the government out of the people's right to ingest a plant.

And out of people's bedrooms.

If folks who rail against MJ were so concerned about people's health they would try to ban tobacco and alcohol, those great American industry-politician-approved vices.

But if people grow their own MJ then big business is cut out of the dance, and there is no tax stamp for Uncle Sugar.

Besides that, many modern day Puritans think that too many brown people are succumbing to reefer madness.

If we didn't jail all those petty possession criminals, then what in the World would our private-public partnership prisons do?

Our other branches of government would be deprived from buying office furniture and other goods from Federal Prison Industries, now UNICOR.

Tobacco doesn't cause behavioral issues and alcohol can be consumed responsibly. First it's marijuana, then it's cocaine and pcp. It's the liberal fallacy of "it feels good so it's fine." The people in prison aren't there because they got caught with a little marijuana.

Are you sure it isn't the Puritan fallacy of "if people enjoy it, it must be banned"?

Any mood-altering drug *can* be used responsibly.
Acohol was banned on the same logic that marijuana is banned, with the same results.

Slippery slope! Slippery slope!

"First it's marijuana, then it's cocaine and pcp."

And guys who ride motorcycles belong to gangs, kill old folks and rape women? Masturbation will make you blind? AIDS is a gay disease? Religion equates with bigotry? All people from Florida are a menace behind the wheel of a car? Obama is a socialist muslem alien?

Apparently the Beer manufactures are not happy at all at the prospect...

Apparently the beer execs have never tried cannabis beer. It rocks.