Drumbeat: October 3, 2010

Who’s Going Nuclear in the Middle East?

Ever since oil was discovered in the Middle East around 1950 it has gas been the driving force behind the region’s transformation. But as of late a new focus has emerged based on both an ever increasing demands for electricity but also a push to cut carbon emissions. And while not officially mentioned the Middle East needs to prepare for the day that the oil runs out: what environmentalists are calling “peak oil.” In addition to Iran, which has a highly controversial nuclear program, seven other counties in the region are proposing or have already started their own programs, according to a report by Power-Gen Worldwide.

A Regional Surge

The seven other countries includes Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). [click on the country names to read previous Green Prophet stories on these countries' nuclear ambitions.] There is also Israel, although it “likes” to be included among EU countries.

The UAE might be the smallest of the countries but it has the most ambitious of all programs with a total of 14 power plants proposed, with a combined production capacity of 14, 400 MW. (One thousand MW could power about 250,000 American homes.) The ground work for the first four are already underway.

Sharon Astyk: The water fountain

The deeper problem, at least for the people who have most embraced private solutions is that when we're unable to achieve and afford private for everyone - everyone with their own car and vacuum cleaner and washing machine and water bottle - we find that we've trashed our infrastructure. That is, as we began carrying our water bottles around, we closed up and stopped maintaining our water fountains. With cell phones, we lost the pay phones. With cars, the exurban and rural buses. And now that it turns out that the bottles are bad for us and the water in them contaminated, our options are a lot smaller.

The same is true of most peak oil and climate change preparations. I've been accused here of fatalism, because I don't think we're going to have money or resources to radically transform ourselves into a society powered of private households, each powered by alternative energies. I don't think most of us are going to have the money to put tens of thousands of dollars into retrofitting our homes. What I do think we could do is dramatically reinforce and recreate our public infrastructure, and to create public solutions to problems we now typically examine as private. We can live in homes that are dramatically stripped down, with low energy infrastructure, if we have access to a few powered public resources that we share with others.

That is, while it is unlikely we will all have solar powered pumps to bring up water from our private wells, there is no reason your town cannot put solar or hand powered pumps in central, public places to provide water in the event of a major outage. While most people will not have a perfectly retrofitted canning kitchen, there's no reason our church and school kitchens can't be transformed into public use. While we won't all have cars, there's no reason those of us who do can't put many more people in them for most trips, a la The Community Solution's smart jitney program. I may not be able to afford a solar system for my home, but my neighbors and I may be able to afford to solar retrofit a garage on our street that could be used as a schoolroom, a clinic for our local nurse practitioner, as a place for band practice, a place to put the shared washer and freezer and neighborhood parties.

Bill proposes State funding for marcellus infrastructure

As lawmakers debate requiring that natural gas drillers compensate communities for any damages to local roads, bridges and water supplies through a state severance tax on their production, they are also proposing that state tax dollars be used to develop infrastructure projects to support the industry.

Marcellus Shale projects make their debut in a capital projects bill approved last week by the Senate. These bills, which are considered every two years, give authorized projects a shot to compete for state aid. The state pays for selected projects through the sale of bonds to investors. This measure goes back to the House for a concurrence vote as the legislative session winds down. The projects bill is moving as House and Senate leaders try to reach agreement on a compromise tax rate for a severance tax.

Economics for the Hurried - Part 2

In the end perhaps the modern world’s dilemma is as simple as “What goes up must come down.” But as we experience the events comprising ascent and decline close up and first-hand, matters don’t appear simple at all. We suffer from media bombardment; we are soaked in unfiltered and unorganized data; we are blindingly, numbingly overwhelmed by the rapidity of change. But if we are to respond and adapt successfully to all this change, we must have a way of understanding why it is happening, where it might be headed, and what we can do to achieve an optimal outcome under the circumstances. If we are to get it right, we must see both the forest (the big, long-term trends) and the trees (the immediate challenges ahead).

Las Vegas Faces Its Deepest Slide Since the 1940s

There are many cities across the country that are beginning to see the first glimpses of the end of the recession.

This is not one of them.

Unemployment in Nevada is now 14.4 percent, the highest in the nation and a stark contrast to the 3.8 percent unemployment rate here just 10 years ago; in Las Vegas, it is 14.7 percent.

August was the 44th consecutive month in which Nevada led the nation in housing foreclosures.

Oklahoma Oil And Gas Industry Struggled In 2009

According to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's annual report on oil and gas activity, intent-to-drill applications tumbled from 6,220 in 2008 to 2,500 last year. Observers say such applications are a good way to gauge the state of the industry.

Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association president Mike Terry says weak prices and uncertainty over potential federal regulations affecting the industry have hindered producers.

Allen officially steps down as NOAA continues search for subsea oil

His step-down occurs as NOAA continues an exhaustive search in the Gulf for sub-sea oil.

In a conference call with NOAA yesterday, the Examiner asked Dr. Janet Baran, NOAA analyst, to explain comments she made regarding the presence of more and more oil sediments testing in the parts-per-billion (rather than million) range.

She said this is more like what we are used to seeing in the Gulf: ‘When we think about parts per billion ... you can't see it," Baran said.

Obama Touts Clean Energy in Weekly Speech

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday touted his administration's energy policy agenda, predicting that his clean energy programs will create "hundreds of thousands" of new American jobs by 2012.

Meanwhile, he painted an ugly, contrasting picture of the GOP energy agenda, arguing that Republicans would only boost the nation's dependence on foreign oil and keep special interest groups in control.

Overseer of Spill Fund Says 'Scams' Flourish

The lawyer overseeing the $20 billion oil-spill claims fund set up after the Deepwater Horizon disaster has referred a claim to the Justice Department for possible prosecution for fraud.

Kenneth Feinberg, the independent administrator of the fund paid for by BP PLC, said Friday in an interview that a host of other claims he classified as "scams" were bogging down efforts to distribute money to victims of the oil spill.

Unlikely Partnership Challenges Corn Ethanol Subsidies

Two unlikely organizations - an environmental group and free-market conservatives - are joining together in a move to end the corn ethanol subsidy. They both believe that the subsidy is a massive waste of money and that ethanol is a major producer of greenhouse gases.

EPA, SD ethanol plants reach deals over emissions

Federal authorities have reached agreements for three South Dakota ethanol plants to fix violations of the Clear Air Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement Friday that a settlement was reached with POET, James Valley and Northern Lights over emissions violations at the Groton and Big Stone plants. A separate agreement was reached with Dakota Ethanol LLC over its plant in Wentworth.

Report encourages six corridors for wind power transmission

A new report on resolving barriers to wind energy development in the upper Midwest recommends constructing six new power transmission corridors — two of them across Iowa.

The report was issued by the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative on Wednesday. It identifies 20 wind zones, with at least 750 megawatts of wind development potential, and sets forth principles for allocating the billions in costs to develop the transmission corridors.

The transmission corridors would be built over a number of years, the report said and would provide a way to move 15,000 megawatts of new power from wind farms to the markets where the power would be consumed. It would serve as a backbone for future wind energy developments in the region and potentially further east.

Environmentalists: Lame Duck Could be Last Chance to Pass Energy Proposals

Though Senate Democrats say there won’t be much time in the lame-duck session to pass significant energy legislation, environmentalists know it could be their last chance to move key bills, given the potential for Republicans to make gains in the mid-term elections.

UK renewable energy production falls for second time in 2010

The UK has suffered a second fall in renewable energy production this year, raising concern about the more than £1bn support the industry receives each year from taxpayers.

The drop in electricity generated from wind, hydro and other clean sources in the first half of 2010 could also be a setback to the coalition government's promise that the UK could help lead a "third industrial revolution" and create a low-carbon economy.

The DECC today said lower than expected wind speeds and rainfall led to a 12% fall in renewable electricity generated between April and June, compared to the same period in 2009. This setback follows a smaller but still notable decline between January and March, again compared to last year.

Aging work force inspires utility worker training

In the worst recession in memory, Helen Duguay discovered that climbing utility poles is a better career choice than selling real estate.

A former real estate agent out of work since May, the 43-year-old mother of five is learning to scale poles and operate a crane, a backhoe and other equipment used at electric and gas company construction sites.
"We all have to be flexible in what we can do," Duguay said. "I've never done this before."

A 12-week training program organized by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association has drawn Duguay and 11 other prospective utility line workers. Partly funded by federal stimulus money, the program is a good match for the unemployed workers looking for a job and for utilities seeking to replenish a labor force about to be hit hard by retirements.

A Code for Chaos

IN June, a Belarus-based computer security firm identified a new computer malware program, Stuxnet, which was repeatedly crashing the computers of one of its clients. Then, last month, a German security researcher suggested that the program’s real target might be the Iranian nuclear program — and that clues in the coding suggested that Israel was the creator.

Kenneth Clarke says double-dip recession ‘can’t be ruled out.’

Britain's economy is at risk of a "double-dip" recession and may not recover fully for another five years, Kenneth Clarke warns tomorrow.

Bredesen wants Cumberland Mountain ridgetops protected

Gov. Phil Bredesen has asked the federal government to put 500 miles of Cumberland mountain ridgetops that are in state hands off limits to coal mining.

Va. to look at social impacts of uranium mining

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia is moving forward with a study to size up the economic and social impacts of lifting a ban on uranium mining to tap a Southside deposit estimated at 110 million pounds.

Four coal-fired units to be shut down in Ontario

In 2009 generation by Ontario's coal plants was at the lowest levels in 45 years. In 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Energy estimated that when the health and environmental impacts are factored into the cost of electricity, coal costs 16.4 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 9.6 cents for wind. The 2008 report by the Ontario Medical Association, "Illness Cost of Air Pollution" found that air pollution was a factor in almost 9,500 premature deaths each year in Ontario. In 2005 smog was a factor for over 16,000 hospital admissions.

Why Preparing Now for Climate Change is Smart Business

But Hutton says climate change is an industrial risk-management issue that cannot be ignored. "The World Business Council for Sustainable Development” and some other organizations are having this conversation with businesses, about the idea of facing these mega-risks in our society," he says. "The question is: What happens if climate change is actually real and if it's somewhere in the vicinity of what most scientists say it's going to be? The question for a company -- or a community, for that matter -- is: What are the costs of that to me, in terms of how it's going to affect my business?"

Farm Aid’s Nelson: Americans need to back family farm

“We should be interested in knowing where our food comes from. If it comes from soil that is organic, that is grown by our family farmers, we know that it's more healthy than the food grown by big corporations that saturate the soil with chemicals and pesticides and fertilizers,” said Nelson, sporting a trademark cowboy hat and a jacket in the chilly air.

State and Local Tax Revenue Inches Up

Tax revenue to state and local governments edged up in the second quarter, but most of its sources—such as income taxes—remain crimped by the lingering impact of the recession.

The slow revival of tax revenue suggests budgets and spending will remain tight through this year and beyond.

Senators float oilsands-friendly legislation

Just two weeks after a trio of highly-influential U.S. politicians toured industrial operations in northern Alberta, there is evidence the trip was in the province's favour: two of the visiting senators just introduced a new bill that could ease trade relations.

Republicans Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, and Saxby Chambliss, from Georgia, introduced the Oilsands Energy Security Act on Wednesday. If passed, it would repeal section 526 of the 2007 U.S. energy law – a clause prevents federal agencies from purchasing alternative fuel sources that have higher greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional oil-based fuels.

Mercury in eggs downstream from oil sands grows 50 per cent: study

A study by Environment Canada indicates levels of toxic mercury in the eggs of water birds downstream from the oil-sands industry seem to have grown by nearly 50 per cent over the last three decades.

Uranium Has ‘Significant Risk’ of Higher Prices, Macquarie Says

“We are increasingly of the view that we have seen the bottom in prices,” now at about $45 to $48 a pound, Macquarie said in a report dated Oct. 4.

Groundwater Levels Draining Fast

The world's aquifers are draining. Groundwater worldwide is being pumped away faster than it can be replenished -- at rates that have more than doubled since the 1960s, according to a new global study of groundwater. It is mostly agricultural irrigation that is driving the increase, because it accounts for 70 to 80 percent of global groundwater usage. What's more, the vast majority of the pumped groundwater is ending up in the ocean, where it is a major contributor to the world's rising sea level.
If the water being pumped is not returning to the aquifers, where is it going? More than 95 percent ends up in the ocean, the authors say, where the quantity of groundwater reaching the sea is making an important contribution to sea level rise. The team concluded that groundwater has contributed 25 percent of the sea level rise observed since 2000.

So sea level rise is not just due to ice melting or thermal expansion of ocean water.

25% today and getting less every year. The IPCC sea level rise forecasts are joke since they do not deal with glacier melt seriously. The Greenland glacier will not be slowly melting from the edges like some giant ice cube for the next 1000 years. It is melting in the interior and starting to slide faster into the sea.

AGW related droughts are helping to and will continue to make the aquifer draw-down worse.

Here's my collection of freshwater depletion stories.

Is there a public site that tracks aquifers and their levels for California?

As an adjunct to the Heinberg article up top, people might want to take a look at this Chris Martenson article - Prediction: Things May Unravel Faster Than You Think http://financialsense.com/contributors/chris-martenson/prediction-things...

It includes a serious mention of peak oil.

By my analysis, we are not yet on the final path to recovery, and there are one or more financial 'breaks' coming in the future. Underlying structural weaknesses have not been resolved, and the kick-the-can-down-the-road plan is going to encounter a hard wall in the not-too-distant future. When the next moment of discontinuity finally arrives, events will unfold much more rapidly than most people expect.

Denninger has also had some good essays lately. http://market-ticker.org


Chris Martenson is a serial pessimist, and seeks to make money on this. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this, but it would be more newsworthy if he said the end of the world may take its time getting here.


Edit: Here is a mixed, but overall good review of what seems to be his main product The Crash Course.


In the section on soveriegn debt, Martenson writes:

"In the US, the largest capital market and borrower, even the most optimistic budget estimates foresee another decade of crushing deficits that will grow the official deficit by some $9 trillion and the real (i.e., “accrual” or “unofficial”) deficit by perhaps another $20 to $30 trillion, once we account for growth in liabilities. This is, without question, an unsustainable trend.

It’s time to admit the obvious: Debts of these sorts cannot be serviced, now or in the future. Expanding them further with fingers firmly crossed in hopes of an enormous economic boom that will bail out the system is a fool’s game. It is little different than doubling down after receiving a bad hand in poker."

Perhaps you can explain how this isn't something that should concern me. The fact that Martenson makes a living off of this stuff doesn't invalidate it.

Chris Martenson is a former Vice President of Pfizer and made a whole lot more money then than he does now. He took a huge salary cut to try to get the word out about the coming world economic crash.

So you are way off base here Jack. You should do your homework before you start throwing stones at people who are just telling it like it is. Chris started out saying basically that the next twenty years will be a lot different than the last twenty years. Now perhaps he is saying that... well... it may happen a bit faster.

I agree. Those who believe it will be business as usual, or even a slow gradual crash that may last decades are just engaging in wishful thinking.

Ron P.

We had a discussion about the rate of descent/collapse at our meeting this past Tuesday; Andres' stepped collapse or Memmel's shark fin.

My belief is shark fin since I see a lot of feedback loops spiraling out of control and collapses precipitating further collapses. As far as time frame goes, my guess (and that is obviously all it is) is financial collapse hitting big time within two years and societal collapse within 10 years. This is all predicated upon the lack of corrective action (financial, energy, infrastructure, etc.).


"This is all predicated upon the lack of corrective action (financial, energy, infrastructure, etc.)."

I think, for the most part, the chance for corrections is well past, and any possibility for large scale mitigation is fading. Adapting to mostly unfavorable changes will be the norm. Astyk's article above (The Water Fountain) suggests (as I too believe) that these adaptations will be mostly local as large scale systems collapse under the weight of their own complexity.

i.e. TARP/ bank bailouts didn't correct anything. It was pure mitigation, resulting in what I consider only temporary benifits.

I agree it's far too late. One thing I've been thinking about is that both communities and individual doomers like myself are actually trying to maintain some form of BAU even though we say BAU is dead meat.

By this I mean we are attempting to maintain some form of our current lifestyle. This, in spite of the fact that we know it is unsustainable in the long run. In other words, the Transition folks and preppers are trying to at least maintain some form of the 20th century rather than biting the big one and saying "18th century here we come."

Well, back to firewood stacking.


By this I mean we are attempting to maintain some form of our current lifestyle. This, in spite of the fact that we know it is unsustainable in the long run.

The problem is Todd, that we don't know that it is unsustainable in the long run. Oh you, I and a few others know it is unsustainable but the vast majority of people simply have no idea. Humans, in general, are extremely myopic. Only a tiny minority ever ever pays any attention to the long term welfare of our planet.

I have been thrashing this same straw for about 45 years. In the mid sixties I remember trying to tell people about overpopulation. Everyone just laughed. No one wanted to hear it. And they still don't want to hear it. What they really want to hear is that the world will be just fine and their children and grandchildren will have an even better life than theirs.

We are the bears of bad news and most folks only seem interested in shooting the messenger.

Ron P.

Bad news bears? A perfect case study of the dysfunctionality of our governmental systems is the lame attempt to get a global warming bill in place. Once all the special interests got a hold of it, it was an anti global warming bill in name only. Nothing is going to change that and, if anything, it has gotten worse with the United Case. Further, we can't even found out specifically who if funding the forces of anti progressivism.

I too was ranting against overpopulation in the 60s and was even telling my siblings that their child bearing was just a product of their overwrought ego. But I didn't receive just laughter. Also derision and anger.

When I hear that people are going to have children or grandchildren, I do not congratulate them. I pity the children and/or grandchildren that will have to deal with this world in the sorry state that we have left it.

So, even if technically there was hope, as a practical matter there is none.

When I hear that people are going to have children or grandchildren, I do not congratulate them. I pity the children and/or grandchildren that will have to deal with this world in the sorry state that we have left it.

I'm sure if you ask the ones you pity if they'd rather have never been born at all, they'd pity you instead. Even if one is to live but for a single minute, that's better than having not lived at all.

By my last count there were about 200 gazillion gazillion people who never lived at all.

Seriously, you cannot give any weight to the value of the lives of people who never lived. That is more than a little absurd don't you think. And it is simply not true that any life is worth living. There are people born into misery, know nothing but misery during their short lives and die not ever knowing anything but misery.

Perhaps that might be better than never having lived at all but you are not qualified to say that about someone else's life. After all, how would you know?

Ron P.

"There are people born into misery, know nothing but misery during their short lives and die not ever knowing anything but misery."

On the other hand simply because people are poor does not mean there lives are filled with misery. It is only the middle class whose lives are dominated by material toys who make such assumptions.

And it is only the middle class who assume starving children with bellies swollen from parasites are living wonderfully happy lives.

Ron P.

Ah, our little ray of sunshine.

There is an awful lot of ground between overweight, spoiled rich kids and the dreadfully malnourished.

Unfortunately, the dreadfully malnourished are already here (and always have been), so invoking them as a vision of the future is pure hype.

There may be more of them in the future, but the future is always the dwelling place of our best dreams and worst nightmares, isn't it?

Actually, Ron, you're the bull of bad news, not the bear. Chuckle.

Okay, what I meant to say was bearer not bears. Okay, I am not a good spaller, get over it. Bigger Chuckle!

Ron P.

Putting the gardens to bed up here Todd, 37 last night. I look at the prep we do as a way to slow our own personal decline. Quite a few have already had personal "Fast" crashes, lose of employment and mortgage foreclosure etc.. The way downhill is going to be very different for many. Some will be very exposed and others pretty insulated. So while not really trying to extend BAU, I think of it as a more managed crash.

The real key being time. A slower personal decline allows time for more reasoned thought and actions about how to handle all of the thing we haven't foreseen, it allows more space for flexibility.

Got 2 years worth of wood all stacked, Grin.

Don in Maine

Hi Don,

First let me sneak in something WOT since you mentioned gardens - Killing Bracken Fern. I have a lot of bracken fern that is taking over meadows. I've tried every herbicide known to man. The one with the best rating, Amsol, isn't sold in CA. One thing I found on the Internet to try was sodium chlorate. Well, that was close enough to household bleach to give bleach a try. Success! A 50% solution kills the ferns. I don't know about the rhizomes but I can always re-spray; and it's cheap.

Anyway, you and I are thinking the same. As I've said a dozen times, my plan is to buy time.

Although we haven't gotten as cold as you, it's time to put the garden to bed and pick the final stuff like the last of the melons, squash, potatoes and late apples. Actually, I'm looking forward to a break from crops plus I have several big projects (like painting the house) to finish before the rains start.

FWIW, the wood I'm stacking is for the year after this :-)


Careful with the sodium chlorate. If it dries out with the foliage it can be a serious hazard. I knew a guy nearly burned his house after liberal use on a gravel patio.

to finish before the rains start.

I was in Merced this morning (southern central valley), it rained! I'm back home now where it didn't rain (the Merced rain was warm rain, with icky high humidity), but back here it is cool dry and breezy.

I'm pretty sure goats could utilize bracken fern. People can eat it in limited quantities as an early spring vegetable. It's a native species so its spread isn't really an ecological issue.

I did exactly this: I put a simple hand pump in our well. The electric is at 100 feet and the hand pump at 90 feet and the water level 25-30 feet.


After testing, I sent an e-mail to all my neighbors and friends that in event of extended electrical failure they could get water from our well. I mentioned that it would cost one dollar for five gallons and since this was real water, I expected the dollar to be real too like one ounce of silver or 1/50 ounce of gold. :-) I got rasberries back from all mainly because they know us.

The garden is about done and the vegetation is in the compost piles. I got a bushel of chicken manure and put that in the compost too. The neighbor kids came over and harvested a couple quarts of cherry tomatoes today. All up, even with bits of S*** hitting the fan daily, life is good in the high desert north of Reno.

Next Sunday the Reno Transition group will unleash something. Free coffee so it will be worth the trip down the hill.

The one and only time I've been on national television, I said things will fall apart fast, that will be when we get to the point where the dollar will no longer be accepted in the way it is today. That was almost five years ago when I said that.

As to why the dollar might not be accepted, probably due to excess monetization of the federal budget deficits (the Fed 'printing' new dollars to cover budget deficits), with the budget deficits being caused an attempt to cope with the effects of peak oil.

The effects of peak oil are not strictly measured in dollars, but also stability to the financial system.

Todd wrote;

We had a discussion about the rate of descent/collapse at our meeting this past Tuesday;

Something like a Peak Oil Task Force or Transition Initiative? Or something else?

Hi Will,

No, it's nothing fancy. In fact, I put up a post about it two weeks ago including the week's topics which a number of trolls latched on to the point that the whole things was deleted.

We meet at the town park (Harwood Park in Laytonville, CA...but it could be "your" town at another time and place) every other Tuesday at 11:30AM for ~2 hour of discussion and a brown bag lunch. Last week it was 2 1/2 hours.

Any topic is open for discussion whether it is "germane" or not. For example, I brought a couple of DVDs last week about trapping and cleaning game that I played on a battery powered player. But, this was in addition to our other discussions and not the primary focus.

Our philosophy is (and Rat correct me if I'm wrong) that BAU is not sustainable and, therefore, we need to take personal action to mitigate it so far as possible, i.e., survive. In our case, a BAU person would not find a receptive audience. At the same time we recognize that existing organizations like the Grange could be of value.

The ultimate value is to know you are not alone in your concerns. You aren't a nut case who sees problems behind every tree but rather someone who has spent the time (due diligence) to determine the facts.

I could go on for quite a while but this gives the essence. If you want more, note your concerns and I'll check in after dinner and answer them if I can.


I was hardly throwing stones, but do somehow seem to have gored a sacred cow.

My comment was pretty mild and fact-based. The opportunity for you and Ghung to provide clarity seems to have helped everyone.

He may well have a lot good to say and, in general, I think we should focus on the message, not the messenger.

But I do reject your claim that I am way off based for having the temerity to discuss one of your heroes in anything but adulation.

No, that is not why you are off base. You are off base because you think Martenson is doing this because of the money when in fact he took a mammoth pay cut in order to do this.

That fact was obviously made very clear in my post. What I said was: "He took a huge salary cut to try to get the word out about the coming world economic crash. So you are way off base here Jack."

Okay, read it again Jack. If it is not clear then please read it again. The reason you are way off base is because you accuse him of doing this for the money when in fact he took a pay cut to do this!

That's two mistakes you have made on this thread Jack. The first was saying Martenson is doing this for the money, and the second mistake was your thinking that I accused you of such a silly mistake because he was my hero. No, that is not why I did it and I have no true heroes.

Ron P.

I have to second what Darwinian says. The idea Martenson gave up his previous lifestyle to make money off his newsletter is absurd. Whether you agree or disagree with Martenson, the fact is he honestly believes in what he's doing.

How do you or anybody on this forum know what Chris Martenson was paid or what his lifestyle was like in the past or the circumstances around his leaving Pfizer?

I don't know what he was paid but his previous lifestyle is easy to verify. So if he's lying I'm sure it would have been exposed by now since he's been covered by at least one major publication. If that isn't good enough for you, you can hire a private detective.

Sorry, but that's not good enough. I'm not the one who's dismissing someone else's post by making claims about Chris' previous lifestyle and income. Darwinian implied that the fact that Chris stepped away from a high paying job that he has some credibility as a result. I could say anything about my background, anybody could.

I'm not saying Chris didn't make a lot of money or didn't lead a comfortable lifestyle or didn't leave solely to pursue a life of Peak Oil messenger. I'm not saying he did. But who here is in a position to know? Pfizer has downsized its Groton operations over the past few years and I personally know executives at the who have left Pfizer Groton to "pursue other goals".

In any case, that's all totally irrelevant to evaluating what he is doing now. It neither gives him more nor less credibility in my eyes.

I'm not taking anything away from Chris, but unless someone truly knows his background for a fact, they shouldn't use his representations to dismiss someone's argument.

As far as Chris' article goes, I get uncomfortable when someone who presents himself as an altruistic messenger for Peak Oil starts touting his record of market predictions and what investments make sense. Where is he headed with this? Is he going to come up with anything that Stephen Leeb and countless others haven't?

Then there's the whole Crash Course, which is fine. And I agree that the next 20 years are going to be way different from the past. But beyond that, he just rehashes in video form the work of many others.

About Chris Martenson

Before: I am a 40-year-old professional who has worked his way up to Vice President of a large, international Fortune 300 company and is living in a waterfront, 5 bathroom house in Mystic, CT, which is mostly paid off. My three young children are either in or about to enter public school, and my portfolio of investments is being managed by a broker at a large institution. I do not really know any of my neighbors, and many of my local connections are superficial at best.

After: I am a 45-year-old who has willingly terminated his former high-paying, high-status position because it seemed like an unnecessary diversion from the real tasks at hand. My children are now homeschooled, and the big house in Mystic was sold in July of 2003 in preference for a 1.5 bathroom rental in rural western Massachusetts. In 2002, I discovered that my broker was unable to navigate a bear market, and I’ve been managing our investments ever since. Since that time, my portfolio has gained 166%, which works out to a compounded yearly gain of 27.8% for five years running (whereas my broker, by keeping me in the usual assortment of stocks, would have scored me a 38% return, or 8.39%/yr). I grow a garden every year; preserve food, know how to brew beer & wine, and raise chickens. I’ve carefully examined each support system (food, energy, security, etc), and for each of them I've figured out either a means of being more self-sufficient or a way to do without. But, most importantly, I now know that the most important descriptor of wealth is not my dollar holdings, but the depth and richness of my community.

I hope you find what I have to offer here useful.

Really guys, all this is right there on line. All you have to do is go to his web site.

Nuff said.

Ron P.

Analysis: Sewer overflows happen frequently, without public notification

The rain came and it didn't stop until it turned the little village into an island.

... the main roads leading into the Dodge County community of Reeseville were under water. Bridges began to float.

Village employee Dean Ziegel felt he was out of options.

"It was like, 'What is God trying to do to us here?''' said Ziegel, who is in charge of the village's wastewater treatment plant.

Fearing that raw sewage from his inundated plant would soon back up through drains and toilets into homes, Ziegel took matters into his own hands.

"All you do is put a big pump in and start pumping it right onto the ground," he said.

That weekend, the Reeseville Utilities Department spewed 1 million gallons of human waste and water onto the ground outside its small treatment plant, which is located near residences and a tributary of the Beaver Dam River...

Tiny towns and big cities, and farmers spreading manure on their fields this time year all contribute their fair share.

I remember an old saying, "Don't shit where you eat."

And if you shit in the middle of the road, you will meet flies when you return.

And in Soviet Russia roads shit on you! Here's a quote for ya "In order not to be confronted and offended at home by our 'bodily wastes,' we contrive to swim in them on our vacations." -Wendell Berry

That's a good one...

Incidents of news-worthy floods seem to be increasing world wide, the obvious Pakistan, Nashville, etc but recently many smaller floods in urban areas like last week in New York. They seem to be a function deforestation and land abuse, rather than AGW.

Why can't they be a function of both? How do you know they are not at least partially a function of AGW? Here in the mountains of Colorado, we could sure use some of that rain. For that matter, we could use some snow which traditionally comes this time of year. But that seems to be history.

Brazilian saying: Só mudam as moscas, a merda continua a mesma...

Translation: Only the flies change but it's always the same shit...

BTW we had presidential elections in Brazil today... Petrobras is still in power

Solar boat heads into the sunset

The MS TÛRANOR PlanetSolar left the port of Monaco on Monday. The project is aimed at raising awareness of solar mobility and renewable energies.
The 50,000km-expedition is expected to last at least eight months, and will take in the east and west coasts of North America, as well as Cancun, Sydney, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The crew will constantly have to optimise their route and speed in line with the available sunshine and the medium-range forecast. They hope to maintain an average speed of 7.5 knots. The world’s largest vessel of its kind cost around €12.5 million (SFr16.6 million) to build. It is double-hulled, 31 metres long, 15 metres wide and weighs 85 tonnes. On top are around 540m² of photovoltaic solar panels, connected to two motors in each hull. Special batteries mean the catamaran can travel for around three days, even if there is no fresh solar power.

We already have perfectly good solar boats in the form of wind. Combine this with wind and maybe it makes sense.

Bingo! We have a winner.
What were they thinking.

Sometimes the wind blows, sometimes the sun shines, but not always at the same time ;-)

Presumably, thinking that this is somehow going to let them continue some version of current shipping.

"Handy" sized ocean-going freighters today start at 15,000 tons and go up rapidly from there. The biggest container ships top 150,000 tons of cargo, and the ultra-large oil tankers go over 500,000 tons. The steel-hulled windjammers were the largest sailing cargo carriers built; the largest handled less than 8,000 tons, and under 5,000 tons was much more typical. Modern materials and designs (eg, fixed wings or turbosails) probably allow some scaling of the windjammers, but I wouldn't think enormously so. PV for cargo shipping would also seem to be limited in size. Both wind and PV will run into scaling problems because the ship volume increases so much faster than the area available for the cells or sails. People have looked seriously at conversion of large container ships to coal-fired steam engines. You have to wonder whether modern gasifier technology could be adapted for use in a ship that large.

Large-scale long-distance cargo shipping would seem to be one of the first casualties of the end of fossil fuels.

I saw today on the program "Modern Marvels" the diesel engine that powers a large container ship. The engine is 3 stories tall, literally the size of a building. Ain't no way solar or wind is going to power a ship like that.

Why not?

You just need solar or wind on the same scale, and we can build that.
The last generation of tall ships was built without the benefit of modern metals and composites, and those are quite impressive as well.

Large-scale long-distance cargo shipping would seem to be one of the first casualties of the end of fossil fuels.

Large-scale long-distance cargo shipping would be powered by nuclear reactors. There is extensive experience with nuclear power for aircraft carriers, submarines, ice breakers, etc. If the price of fuel goes up, nuclear will become the economical choice for shipping. Cosco is already thinking about it.

However, large-scale long-distance air freight cargo shipping would seem to be one of the first casualties of the end of fossil fuels.

"If the price of fuel goes up,..."

What do you think the cost of Nuclear will be doing, in that case? It won't be getting cheaper.

I'm convinced that shipping won't be affected that much for a long time. I have several times posted here comparisons of the cost of shipping relative to the difference in wage costs. As long as someone in the world is working for starvation wages, it will be profitable to ship manufactured products by ocean freight. If you don't believe that there are lots of places to look up shipping costs and what fraction of the price of manufactured goods that shipping represents.

I don't doubt it. I've heard how cheap it is to move tonnage over water. I was just challenging the idea that a nuclear powered freighter will be a great deal after Petrol gets unruly. I think they'll price up in strong correlation.. if Commercial Nuclear shipping is even a reasonable concept to start with. Think of the Piracy Scenarios that would be hatching then..

I'd expect to see Wind Supported Bunker Fuel become the key sources. Possibly Coal as well, tho' I cringe at the thought.. (Wind possibly from Computer Kites or equiv.. http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/01/29/transportation-tuesday-wind-powered-...

I'd agree here. A larger impact on shipping tonne-km, will be via the reduction of customer effect, as the Consumer markets cool off.
The first to go, will be the most discretionary of spending.

The problem with your argument is the assumption that all goods transported by ship have the same economics. For example, product A may require $5 in labor costs per unit while product B may require $50 per unit. If bunker fuel (the fuel used to power freighters) doubles, then the impact on the economics of the 2 different products is quite different. Shipping product A from China to the USA may no longer be attractive while shipping product B would not be materially impacted since the cost of fuel relative to the inputted labor cost is not significant.

Both wind and PV will run into scaling problems because the ship volume increases so much faster than the area available for the cells or sails.

But hydrodynamic resistance scales as cross section, not volume. So surface area is all you need. A bigger ship with the same maxumum speed will (for the reasons you state) accerate/decellerate slower, i.e. you gotta be a lot more careful piloting it, but the scaling isn't the issue for wind/solar. Traditional windjammer I don't think can be easily loaded/unloaded with shipping containers, so we need some new sort of wind powered ship that can be easily stacked with containers.

That would be something like this;

More details here;

This "kite" system would seem to meet the needs for a cargo ship - it all happens at the front and does not interfere with the deck, and the sails can be pulled in before coming to port. You can also stack the kites on top of each other, (bi-plane style).

Not a replacement for the engine, but can lead to fuel savings. And the slower the ship goes, the greater the % of fuel that can be saved.

best of all, it can be retrofitted to existing ships without much trouble.

Just not as easy on the eye as an old style schooner!

Sad to say, it looks like we have a candidate for a Quintuple Darwin Award.

A question here. Were those wide tires also worn down to the minimum tread? Could be.

Troopers at the accident scene said the worn condition of the Jeep’s tires might have played a role in the crash...

Did the driver understand the basic physics of driving on flooded pavement, or did they simply keep going at the usual freeway speed of 70 mph? Inquiring minds want to know. Or, were these folks the casualties of ACC, which may have produced the 12 inches of rain in the area over a period of 6 hours...

E. Swanson

I consider it in very poor taste to say that children are candidates for the Darwin Award because of the action of their father. And who among us has not had an accident that might have become fatal if only...

Ron P.

Yes, perhaps the comment is a bit over the edge. It's always tragic when young children die due to the actions of someone else. But, as we know, the Darwin Awards are about people who die doing stupid things, thus removing them from the gene pool. In this case, the effects on the gene pool were immediate, removing not only the driver but his/her possible descendants in three future families as well.

Here's an example of someone who SHOULD BE REMOVED from the gene pool, IMHO...

E. Swanson

I'm working on a website / t-shirts for the Nissan Leaf.

I wanted to post a t-shirt design and see if anyone had any comments. I'm a programmer, not a designer so feel free to be brutal.

The message of the shirt is supposed to be that Nissan Leaf can be powered by a variety of sources.

The message isn't incredibly overt so I'm not sure it is clear enough.

The back of the shirt is here:


I'm elated that the day has come when someone is marketing an all-electric car. You must be proud to be part of it!

IMO there is no need to be 'fair and balanced' ... this is marketing. So lose the smokestacks and show just the solar, wind and hydro, or if you want to indicate biomass show a conifer forest next to a (small) smokestack.

If anyone asks, you can mention that in many places customers have the option of buying green power off of the grid, at a premium. The utility does the accounting to prove that green power bought equals green power sold, so those customers who want a solar powered car really can do it.

You might also try wider, outline arrows leading to the car. Narrow lines don't come across well on a t-shirt.

Best of luck!

Yair...my sentiments too half full...but... Although I understand the design strategy behind the current crop of electric vehicles i.e. they have to appear "conventional" or they won't sell to the masses...to my mind out here in the sticks they miss the point completely.

What we need is basic transportation. An open light weight vehicle with large diameter skinny tyres like a model "T"...or perhaps a Mini moke?

I like it as is.

Truth in advertising...coal, nuke, hydro, wind, solar.

You may want to put a small heap of coal next to the coal plant...some folks won't get the idea otherwise...they might think it is the Nissan factory or something...

I don't think the nuke plant needs a little atom (nucleus with electrons) symbol...hopefully at least the cooling towers are distinctive and recognizable to most people.

I agree...male the yellow lines thicker...you may want to consider thicker yellow lines, outlined with a thin line of black on either side, with a little zig0zag in the middle...kind of the 'Ready Kilowatt' electric lightning bolt theme.

You may wish to consider making the leaf in leafmotorclub green.

Gets the 'green' theme in there with the color, without banging the drum too loudly.

This is the image:

The issue I see is that options for changing energy mix are pretty limited. This is a graph of recent sources of electrical power:

The renewables band at the top is the sum of wind, solar, wood, geothermal, municipal waste gasses, and almost everything else. It is thickening a bit at the end, but not much. "Other renewables" have grown from 2.2% of the total in 1996 to 3.57% of the total in 2009. The detail under this growth is shown in this graph:

It is really only the wind that is growing, and even that has stalled in 2010, because overall electricity demand is down, and natural gas prices are too low for wind to be very competitive.

We don't have good options for replacing coal. It would be extremely expensive to replace coal with nuclear, wind, and solar. This is our overall distribution of fuel by source (combining electricity fuel sources with other sources, such as oil), using the EIA's way of measuring the relative amounts of fuels:

(Click for larger image.)

Unless we have unlimited money (which equates to unlimited energy), it seems to me that if we don't want to use coal, we likely need to figure out a way to use a lot less electricity in total, with or without EVs.

Yes, Gail, there are no "good options for replacing coal", provided one ignores the environmental impacts of mining and using coal, such as the cost to sequester the CO2 which results from burning coal to produce electric power. One wonders why anyone would choose to ignore those impacts, the effects of which are now widely known. Is it because you don't understand the problem of Climate Change, thus think that you have some "right" to completely ignore the issue and remove it from your discussions? Or, is it because you are a city person and only see dollar signs, not green plants and living creatures?

It's been 36 years since I went back to graduate school after the OPEC/ARAB Oil Embargo, specifically to study alternative energy systems. Many of the problems which result from using coal were rather obvious even then and our understanding has only grown stronger. Where you been hanging out, Disney World?

E. Swanson

Coal has a lot of other issues as well - mercury pollution, ocean acidification.

I disagree with your take on coal, but I think it is clear that EVs will only exacerbate the problem. By problem, I mean the continued escalation in the use of fossil fuel based energy, especially coal. Sure, they can run on solar, but all this means is that the percentage of renewables devoted to getting us off fossil fuels will be decreased but the additional solar will be sucked up by EVs. We don't need additional uses for electricity at this time

If EVs are put forward as a way to cut oil use, fine. But I think it is misleading to continue to tout them as zero emissions vehicles. Forget the T shirt. If it's honest, it will show the coal plant. If it doesn't show the coal plant, it will just perpetuate the zero emissions nonsense.

Priority should not be on EVs but on cities where personal automobiles are not necessary or at most a very occasional use for emergency situations. Instead, we will lie to ourselves and have politicians lie to us by telling us that EVSare some kind of solution to carbon emissions or our energy problems.

EVs are primarily a way for the auto industry to be able to continue to screw up the world for a little bit longer, to keep an industry going which should be allowed and encouraged to die.

If EVs are put forward as a way to cut oil use, fine. But I think it is misleading to continue to tout them as zero emissions vehicles.

I think it is a mixed bag. Ev's are a way to go, they havea slight negative effect of fossil fuel consumption, i.e. they require a bit less energy to run than oil powered vehicles (partly because in order to make the batteries affordable, you gotta make them efficient). But, if you assume we are just plain going to burn all the oil, the freed oil is simply going to be used by someone else, so net EVs probably mean a bit more coal consumption, and no change in oil consumption.

Wind and nuclear is ramping fast, so coal could be discontinued quite soon if we wish.

EVs are good for several reasons: They don't pollute inside cities, so a lot of cancer will be avoided. They will increase the proportion of carbon-free energy (raised demand will create more electricity production, and not all will be carbon-based). And they are small and light to get improved electric range, and will thus decrease the overall energy requirements of personal transport. Arguably, also, they provide DSM opportunities which enables a somewhat larger wind penetration.

It would be extremely expensive to replace coal with nuclear, wind, and solar.

Solar yes. The others no.

Coal prices at electric utilities are around $45/short ton, and around a billion tons is produced each year. That is $45 billion just for the coal.

That amount invested in nuclear power or wind would replace 4% of the coal. So, a small extra investment during 25 years would replace the coal. $45 billion is a lot, you may think? But it really isn't! It's just 0.3% of US GDP, and the extra cost needed each year shrinks with the coal use. It's a bargain.

And you are already doing part of this $45 billion yearly investment: Wind additions were around 10 GW in 2009, which translates to some $17 billion in investments. And if wind growth continues on the same trajectory, it will be some $22B this year, which is half of what I'm asking.

Hi, Kohesion,

Put the image on both the front and the back. On the back, size the objects in proportion to Gail's graphs. On the front, size the objects in greener proportions. Make the car on the front green; on the back, black or blue, puce maybe ;-)

It's going to be an expensive shirt, cheaper to outsource from China ;-(


My two bits..

I'm looking for ways to change the emphasis (and make the Graphic less visually 'neutral' - it's kind of flat like this), such that all forms of gen. are still in there, but maybe the car is on a stylized road angling away from the viewer, and the Older forms are next to the vehicle, and it's heading TOWARDS the preferable sources, the 'shining future', while ultimately we are currently going past the Dinosaurs..

(The Road could be the 'Lightning bolt', and all the producers are simply plugged into it.)


ps.. I also think the images like "Hydro" are too technical. They could be quicker to read if they were more idealized icons.

I wanted to post a t-shirt design and see if anyone had any comments. I'm a programmer, not a designer so feel free to be brutal.

Ok, I feel free to be brutal, though perhaps not exactly as you might expect.

In appreciation of the aspirations of the 40 plus million Americans currently on food stamps and for whom the Nissan Leaf is a pipe dream and for whom BAU is already dead. May I prfesent my idea for a t-shirt.

Ride a bike or take a hike

The Nissan Leaf is just another attempt at rearranging the deck chairs for the first class passengers on the Titanic. What have you got for the passengers in steerage?! Oh, you haven't even got enough lifeboats for them? Maybe your hoping they'll all just drown quickly and you won't have to worry about them...

The future is walking and riding bikes...maybe electric bikes for some. People can walk for cancers, cures and diabetes, but they can't walk to their mailbox.

Or it could be "bikes" like this;

Or made out of renewable materials instead of carbon fibre;

A less sexy, but more practical version, you can swap the cab top for the open top;

Great article about velomobiles at www.lowtechmagazine.com

These can be (and are) being electrified (electric assist), needs 1/50th of the battery capacity of an EV for the same range! An EV that people can actually afford, and a bike you can use in all weather!

+ 12

Aero(dynamics) RULES!! As long as one is cycling short distances on relatively flat terrain in good weather while enjoying good health. In Yankee winter or during heavy rain and high wind conditions, some other mode of transport would be necessary. The extra mass of the velomobile makes riding up hills seriously difficult as well, even with low gearing...

E. Swanson

I expect that at some point in time velomobiles will become rather common, but my impression from just looking at the pictures is that they are hard to get into, and out of, and probably not even half as easy to park or safely store as a traditional bike.It is also obvious that maneveurability and driver's range of vision is much more limited than that associated with a typical bike.

Nevertheless the fact that the rider is protected from rain and road slop thrown up by passing cars is a game changer for sure, and the additional speed will probably be enough to convince a few bikers to switch over.

I spent an hour yesterday discussing the possibilities of electric vehicles with two hard nosed conservative types who are scientifically and technically literate.

We agreed that , one, the electric is already eminently practical if not easily affordable for use as a daily driver for our city dwelling acquaintances;two,practical as second car to be used as a commuter by most of our acquaintances-assuming a real world range of seventy five miles,three, likely to sell as fast as production can be ramped up if the Leaf and Volt prove to be reliable, this prediction being based on an assumption that gas prices are going to steadily trend upward.

Thinking a little farther out, we can see really small electrics -perhaps even as small as velomobiles-becoming very popular indeed.Once in mass production, such a car capable of say a thirtyfive mph cruising speed could be priced very reasonably indeed.They could also be powered by very small ice engines designed for optimal fuel economy and might get over a hundredand twenty mpg, or maybe even more;I once owned a 125 cc Honda motorcycle that got over seventy five mpg cruising along gently at city speeds of twenty five to thirty five mph.

The widespread adoption of such cars as a matter of necessity due to rationed or otherwise unaffordable fuel will force major changes in the laws governing the public roads;expect to see reserved lanes for low speed vehicles for instance, even on interstates.People spending forty five minutes getting into town every morning will simply get used to spending another thirty minutes on the road in a slow electric if this proves to be necessary.

Now as far as the burbs being abandoned anytime soon due to energy problems-maybe, someday , if the economy really does have a heart attack and winds up in a wheel chair;but if it remians more or less functional , consider this:

A four hundred mile weekly round trip commute;a true fifty mpg car, already readily available, although not necessarily here in the states.Eight gallons a week of gas at ten bucks, that's three hundred twenty bucks a month for fuel to commute.

In the Richmond Virginia area,a nice house in a nice nieghborhood close in typically rents for four to six hundred dollars per month more today than a roughly similar house twenty five or thirty miles farther out of town.

Such a gas price will of course bring on the heart attack if prices spike up fast;but if the long descent really is long, a reasonably well to do person will be able to stay put in the outer burbs, and probably actually STILL live cheaper and better(according to his tastes) than he could in the city.

Nice houses with roomy lots in decent nieghborhoods near steady jobs fetch a considerable price premium compared to houses thirty or forty miles away.I expect the monthly premium amounts to more than variable commuting costs in most cases just about anywhere, and that this is apt to remain true for a long time.

There is not such a great an existing stock of desirable housing in and very near to existing cities that the price and rents of such houses will not be forced sharply upward-in comparison to houses a long way out-if everybody tries to move into the city or the close in burbs.


You have to keep in mind that, presently, most velomobiles are built, as the Low Tech Magazine says, as high tech bikes rather than low tech cars. That is, they are designed for bike enthusiasts, and can be regarded as the sportscar equivalent.
The third picture there, the "cab bikes" are designed to be more utlitiarian - they sacrifice some aerodynamics to incorporate storage space, give the rider some more room, and vision.

The owner of one describes her experience thus;

We've been riding velomobiles in Minneapolis for almost 7 years now. I test-rode the Go-one before we settled on the Cab-Bikes, which are more practical for commuting. The Cab-Bike can carry 8 bags of groceries, has good ventilation, and is great in rain. During a rash of local attacks on cyclists, my husband's Cab-Bike thwarted an assailant who leapt out at him in the dark -- and was startled to find a velomobile behind that headlight. Cold weather and rain are no problem when you ride a velomobile, but snow can stop them. Except for the Aurora velomobile from British Columbia, most velomobiles have just one wheel in back, and it's hard to break three tracks through the snow with one-wheel drive. I've been using an unenclosed trike with two wheels in back, and just dressing warmly this winter.

Where I live in Vancouver, the rules for electric assist (bicycles) allow a 500W motor, and a top speed (on electric alone) of 20mph. For city riding, that assist allows for speed to be maintained on hills etc.
You can go a step up the the"electric scooter" which allows 1500W motor, top speed of 45mph, but the vehicle must registered and insured, you must have a drivers license (but don;t need a motorcycle license) and wear a motorcycle helmet. A velomobile so equipped could easily compete with all non freeway city traffic (but is not allowed on cycle paths!)

You could certainly design them to be a bit more spacious and functional, and a safety cell (similar to Indy cars) though the weight will increase somewhat.

As an electric vehicle it is about as efficient as you can get.

Thinking a little farther out, we can see really small electrics -perhaps even as small as velomobiles-becoming very popular indeed.Once in mass production, such a car capable of say a thirtyfive mph cruising speed could be priced very reasonably indeed.

They already exist, as the "neighborhood electric vehicles", and in Europe, there is a small category, officially called "quadricycles" that is similar. They are speed limited, and don;t have to meet the crash safety requirements.

And there's the rub. If we don't have to design them to resist the impact of an SUV, we can have small, efficient, affordable, electric vehicles today. If there were no heavy vehicles on the road at all, this would not be a problem at all. If traffic could only go at 35mph, this would not be a problem at all. It is the desire to have a vehicle that does everything, at any speed, that ends up with SUV's etc.

I have been to a "resort community" where the only vehicles allowed were NEv's and the place had an amazingly relaxed feel about it. When you look at the real speed of traffic in city roads (not freeways), NEV's would be just fine.

I think what is needed is a vehicle class in between NEv's and ordinary vehicles - something that can be used on any road with a speed limit of up to 55mph. You can make good, lightweight safety cells, as the Indy cars and F1 show. It would not be too hard to make a two seater, electric commuter car weighing in at 1000-1200lbs. Such a vehicle, on electricity, would only need 8kWh for 60 mile range - that is a $3k Lithium battery pack. For range extension, you could "plug in" a 3kW honda generator, and you have a series hybrid with unlimited city range, just at a relaxed pace.

It is the sprawl of our cities, and the 30mile commutes not served by public transit, that has led to the necessity of urban freeways, and the vehicles to drive them. It was an arms race we did not need to have, and fuelling those vehicles, and maintaining the roads for them to drive on, is now a huge expense.

As for the urban houses, it is time for some (intelligent) urban consolidation. Having lived in densely built, walkable cities they are very pleasant if done well, and embraced by the people that live there. When it is at the point that a car is optional, not a necessity, then, and only then, have you succeeded with that community.

There are not too many areas in US/Can that meet that criteria.

After the federal tax credit the Leaf is no more expensive than a regular gasoline car. Even without the tax credit it is no more expensive than an entry level luxury car. Personally I wouldn't buy it because under adverse conditions its range drops to 45 miles. But I don't see it as "rearranging the deck chairs for the first class passengers on the Titanic". All new technology is expensive in the beginning. We should thank the early adopters for creating a market for it and for testing it.

If someone can afford an electric car let them buy it. I don't see why anyone should object.

I would swap the hydro section for something more iconic - Hoover dam or whatever. It needs to be instant recognition for non-techno types.

Transition from Oil Bound to Run into Trouble

Oil fed through internal combustion engines fouls our air and poisons our children. Oil underpins obnoxious regimes and distorts the global economy. The finding and getting of oil is synonymous with corporate theft. And oil, above all, is warming the planet with consequences guaranteed to dwarf any conceivable benefit.

We should stop using the stuff. Even those who are sceptical of man-made climate change, or content to believe that the catastrophe will be someone else’s problem, can grasp that. The struggle to control a diminishing resource at any cost is a mug’s game. The wars, even if we do not use the word, have already begun.

The oil that was everywhere a century ago is hard to come by now. That was the lesson a car-obsessed America – and the rest of us – refused to grasp when BP’s rig blew in the Gulf of Mexico. . . . So big oil hunts in places that were once uneconomic. . . .

Renewables are imperfect. It should not be left to the oil lobby and its mouthpieces to say so. Wind farms, on shore or off, have their own environmental consequences and vast financial costs. The energy they supply isn’t cheap and is not, without going into arguments over base loads and the rest, entirely reliable. Solar is beyond the reach of most. Nuclear is troubling, yet probably inevitable.

Each time I look at a website or a magazine dedicated to environmental activism, I smell the paradox. What, other than passion, fuelled those energy-guzzling efforts? Oil.

If some future well explodes west of Shetland we will all know who to blame. Big oil should never be trusted. But big oil relies on its dependants, its clients, customers and patrons. That would be us, and our governments, each with our needs and necessities.

The choice between transition and catastrophe is too simplistic. There is such a thing, after all, as a catastrophic transition.

So writes Ian Bell in the Glasgow Herald. He's one of the main commentators in the Scottish paper. Word is getting out.

China foreseeing $100/bbl oil?

Sinopec Group Pays `Very High' Premium for Repsol's Brazil Oil Reserves (10/3/10 Bloomberg article):

“If oil does go over $100 a barrel, then this deal may look very attractive,” said Beveridge of Sanford C. Bernstein. “It comes down to it either seeing more exploration potential here, or Sinopec’s betting on higher oil prices in the future to justify the price it is paying.”


Indeed this is a very high price to pay, and also, yes China may be paying up now for what it sees ahead.

China would have some difficulty buying a majority of any foreign natural resource related company, so to some extent it must keep paying up for minority interests. It's doubtful that the US would let them acquire control of any significant oil company, although a direct deal to buy some oil assets - such as BP's in the GOM - would probably be allowed.

Then there is the additional consideration that dollars in the future may not buy as much as they do now.

A painless way to achieve huge energy savings: Stop wasting food

Scientists have identified a way that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year — without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food. Their study, reported in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year's worth of food in the United States.

Stop wasting food

Oh, why didn't we think of that before?! Because food being wasted is simply part of the cycle of bringing food to the populace.

By the same token it could be asserted that we could save x number of barrels if we could just eliminate non-productive vehicle trips. No more going for joy rides just to get out of the house. Trouble is those joy rides are simply part of the cycle of using vehicles.

Do you also have the numbers on how much overweight the average American is? I'm guessing it's about 20%. That's a lot of food and resources going to waste -- not to mention the added energy to move around all that excess.

We could also just stop procrastinating.

According to James Surowiecki, it is a significant inefficiency and at 6% CAGR growth during the studied period, seems to be getting much worse.


According to Piers Steel, a business professor at the University of Calgary, the percentage of people who admitted to difficulties with procrastination quadrupled between 1978 and 2002. In that light, it’s possible to see procrastination as the quintessential modern problem.

It’s also a surprisingly costly one. Each year, Americans waste hundreds of millions of dollars because they don’t file their taxes on time. The Harvard economist David Laibson has shown that American workers have forgone huge amounts of money in matching 401(k) contributions because they never got around to signing up for a retirement plan. Seventy per cent of patients suffering from glaucoma risk blindness because they don’t use their eyedrops regularly. Procrastination also inflicts major costs on businesses and governments. The recent crisis of the euro was exacerbated by the German government’s dithering, and the decline of the American auto industry, exemplified by the bankruptcy of G.M., was due in part to executives’ penchant for delaying tough decisions. (In Alex Taylor’s recent history of G.M., “Sixty to Zero,” one of the key conclusions is “Procrastination doesn’t pay.”)

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_books_...

To be fair to the authors of the report, the hyperbole appears to originate in the (http://www.physorg.com/news205306521.html) quoted above

The report itself only seeks to quantify the embedded energy in food waste, which seems useful:

Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: The Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States

Abstract and link here:


This one interesting too:

Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States


Totally! All of the energy wasted to bring food to stores---through meandering distribution chains, with the added costs of advertising, the endless, wasteful packaging, the stupid display racks----all of it will be the first to go when the dollar goes.

The govt will declare some sort of emergency and there goes the whole BAU we knew and (some of us) didn`t like.

I agree with much of your first point: energy costs will be the driver of most efficiency improvements including food distribution.

Barge accident closes Houston port

HOUSTON — The Houston Ship Channel is closed to marine traffic after a barge slammed into a tower supporting a high-voltage electric transmission line, threatening to topple it into the channel.

This could have a very serious effect on refinery production of oil products, but it expected the shutdown won't last more than a few days.

The affected portion of the channel is expected to be closed until at least the evening of Oct. 5, said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Lionel Bryant. As of this afternoon, eight inbound ships and five outbound ships were on hold because of the closure, said Richard Brahm, a petty officer with the Coast Guard.

A tanker carrying crude for Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Baytown, Texas, facility was allowed through, said Neely Nelson, a company spokeswoman. Nelson said there’s no impact to production at the Baytown refinery from the ship channel incident at this point. Brahm said the tanker delivering to Exxon was going to the edge of the safety zone, which is why that shipment was allowed.


I have just subscribed to the Kindle version of The Oil Drum. Is there a way to view comments on the Kindle - in addition to the editor's articles that are currently visible? I'm sure this question must have been answered previously, but I cannot find any references to "Kindle comments". Thanks!

Who’s Going Nuclear in the Middle East? Nobody; well not for very long.


Once Russia has finished dismantling its arsenal and distributing the fissile material to satisfy the present global demand for uranium, just where are these nice new bright and shinny Arabian nukes going to get their fuel from among the present demand?

They understand Peak Oil, but they don't understand Peak Uranium?? C'mon!

There is not a viable scale breeder programme anywhere in the known universe and the state of raw uranium production is a well worked topic; even for present day operating reactors supply is a major issue in the not too distant future.

And of course every one of the new plants has a deep-rock 2xhalf-life waste storage facility developed and consented as part of its development cost. NOT!

Its snake oil they've been sold. Expensive snake oil, but snake oil none-the-less.

There are much better things they could be doing with their money.

It's probably the best use of their money, actually. There is simply abundant uranium and waste storage is only a political challenge, not a technological.

Btw, breeders will be ramped as well. There are breeders in operation, as you know, and the asians are hungry and are doing serious R&D in this field.

Erste Group predicts rising oil prices and restructuring in the oil sector

Rising oil pricies, consolidation in the oil processing sector exected in the next five years according to an analysis of Erste Group. The expected price of oil will be $79.8 by the end of 2010, $86.8 by the end of 2011 and $102.6 by 2015 according to Thomas Unger, an analyst of Erste Group.

The efforts made by energy efficiency programs in developed countries will be overriden by the growing demand of economies like China.

More details (in Hungarian): Emelkedik az olajár, csökken a kereslet or (in German): Öl-Preis steigt bis 2015 auf 103 Dollar

EDIT: The article also mentioned that the price of oil will rise because of the increasing cost of exploration, production and developments.

Now I understand: Erste Group wants to buy ÖMV shares...

I want a real ethical/eco bank in Hungary!