Drumbeat: October 7, 2010

Natural Gas Prices Too Low to Sustain Production

FORT WORTH -- For U.S. energy producers, high-priced $11 natural gas is "kind of like a Saturday night drunk," Devon Energy Executive Chairman Larry Nichols said at the opening session of the Unconventional Gas International Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday afternoon.

"It may feel good at the time," he said, but it isn't a sustainable high.

Just as an $11 price is too high to persist, today's current market prices of about $3.75 are too low for the industry to thrive and maintain strong natural gas production in the long term, said Nichols, who stepped down this year from his longtime position as CEO of Oklahoma City-based Devon, the leading producer in North Texas' gas-rich Barnett Shale.

Even in the face of low gas prices, domestic energy producers have continued to do substantial drilling, particularly in major unconventional gas plays such as the Barnett, the Eagle Ford Shale in South and Central Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and East Texas, and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian region.

By continuing to drill despite weak prices, "we've been ignoring the free market," Nichols said. But today's depressed prices represent "the free market ... sending us a very powerful signal" that there is an oversupply of gas, he said.

OPEC set to keep output ceiling after oil price rise

LONDON (Reuters) - Robust oil prices might induce OPEC to pump more, helping to calm a rising market and limit damage to a fragile economy, but the producer club is unlikely to agree a formal change in output when it meets in Vienna next week.

The 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has not officially changed production policy since December 2008. It then reacted to a price crash and a recession, which crushed fuel demand, by announcing its deepest ever supply cut.

Initially record levels of compliance with the curbs gave rapid support to the oil price, which has maintained a roughly $70-$85 range for around a year -- judged by many in OPEC to be high enough for producers needing to invest in supply and low enough not to damage the world's economy.

Since the start of this month, it has climbed towards the top of that bracket, supported by the weakness of the U.S. dollar, which makes dollar-denominated commodities relatively cheap.

Energy: Recognizing how much isn’t there

Will America’s energy crisis be solved by more aggressive pursuit of fossil fuels or by more vigorous development of renewables?

In this campaign season, there are politicians on all sides. Chants of “drill, baby, drill” ring out, while others sing the praises of wind and solar, and some argue we must try everything.

Unfortunately, politicians don’t seem willing to face a more difficult reality: There is no solution, if by “solution” we mean producing enough energy to maintain our current levels of consumption indefinitely.

NATO says Pakistan border closure not affecting Afghanistan operations

NATO says that the week-long closure of a key crossing along the Pakistani-Afghan border has "not impeded" its military operations, despite militants burning dozens of resupply vehicles stacked up on the Pakistani side of the border and 6,500 fuel tankers and other supply vehicles being prevented from reaching their destinations in Afghanistan.

NATO eyes Pakistan supply resumption after apology

(Reuters) - A U.S. apology for a helicopter strike inside Pakistan has raised hopes of an end to a week-long blockade of a vital NATO supply line, although the alliance said on Thursday it was not hindering the war in Afghanistan.

57 NATO tankers set ablaze in fresh assaults

QUETTA/LAHORE: Twenty two oil tankers carrying fuel supplies for ISAF in Afghanistan were attacked and destroyed in a daring raid in the early hours of Wednesday on the outskirts of Quetta. Meanwhile, unidentified assailants attacked a convoy of NATO oil tankers on the GT Road near Nowshera, set

ting 35 of the tankers ablaze, a private TV channel reported, The incident in Quetta – the sixth of such on convoys taking supplies to Afghanistan since Pakistan closed a key border crossing almost a week ago – took place at Akhtarabad on the outskirts of the city. The driver of one of the trucks was killed in indiscriminate shooting by the assailants, while firefighters took over six hours to put out the fire as they faced “shortage of chemicals” in doing so.

Petrobras Confirms Oil in Tupi Area

Petrobras announced that the drilling of the eighth well in the Tupi area confirmed the potential of light oil in the pre-salt reservoirs, in ultra-deep waters of Santos Basin.

Russian Oil Firms Complain over Access to Fields

Russia's decision to restrict access to the first major oil and gas field tender in five years has caused outrage among the country's industry titans, who say the Kremlin's claimed push for transparency and fair access to the country's energy reserves is going nowhere.

Russia has tightened its control of the oil and gas sector in recent years, making it harder for foreign or non-state companies to get access to strategic reserves and causing output to stagnate, and senior government officials have recently argued more private money is needed in the sector to keep up production after investments dropped sharply during the financial crisis.

Kiev and Moscow mulling joint gas outfit

Ukraine and Russia are discussing setting up a joint gas company, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said today.

Technician challenges BP's claim on key devices

METAIRIE, La. -- A technician is challenging BP's claim about how long it would have taken to install more of a key device the oil giant had been warned was essential to prevent a significant gas flow problem in its well that later blew out.

Japan eyes Iraq oil sector, cautious on security

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Security concerns and political uncertainty in Iraq are discouraging Japanese companies from joining in the race for a slice of the country's lucrative energy sector, a Japanese diplomat said on Thursday.

Tokyo's cautious approach contrasts sharply with a more aggressive investment tactic pursued by its rivals such as China, which has made inroads into Iraq's battered economy.

S. Africa farmers say hurt by power price hikes

MULDERSDRIFT, South Africa (Reuters) - Price hikes granted to South Africa power utility Eskom will cost the country's agriculture sector more than 300 million rand and threaten food security, a key farmers' group said.

Weathermen May Dent $500 Billion Coal Market With Improved Wind Forecasts

Xcel Energy Inc. is shutting down some of its coal-fired power plants for hours or days and not because environmental pressure or legislation mandate it. Instead, Xcel has a new tool: more accurate wind forecasts.

Michael Pollan: The 36-Hour Dinner Party

The inspiration for this pyro-gastronomical experiment was the communal ovens still found burning in some towns around the Mediterranean, centers of social gravity where, each morning, people bring their proofed, or risen, loaves to be baked. (Each loaf bears a signature slash so you can be sure the one you get back is your own.) But after the bread is out of the oven, people show up with a variety of other dishes to wring every last B.T.U. from the day’s fire: pizzas while the oven is still blazing and then, as the day goes on, gentle braises or even pots of yogurt to capture the last heat and flavors of the dying embers.

The idea is to make the most efficient use of precious firewood and to keep the heat (and the danger) of the cook fire some distance from everybody’s homes. But what appeals to me about the tradition is how the communal oven also becomes a focus for social life (“focus” is Latin for “hearth”), a place to gather and gossip and escape the solitude of cooking at home.

Chevron CEO Likes Renewables; Oil, Gas, Coal Predominant

MENLO PARK, Calif. -(Dow Jones)- While Chevron Corp. is making some investments in renewable energy and alternative fuels, traditional fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal "will play a predominant role" in meeting the world's energy supply, Chief Executive John Watson said Wednesday.

Chevron has invested about $250 million of venture capital over the last decade in companies developing alternative-energy technologies, and the company plans to spend about $2 billion over the next three years on renewable energy, Watson said. But the San Ramon, Calif.-based company's primary focus is on producing oil and natural gas, which, in addition to coal and nuclear power, will continue to be the world's dominant forms of energy for decades, he said.

Oil Trades Near Five-Month High as Dollar Drops, U.S. Fuel Supplies Fall

Oil rose for a third day in New York as the dollar extended its decline against the yen and the euro, enhancing the investment appeal of commodities, and after a U.S. government report showed a drop in gasoline stockpiles.

Futures climbed as the U.S. currency fell to a 15-year low against the yen and an eight-month low against the euro amid speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will expand credit easing to sustain the economic recovery. The U.S. Energy Department said yesterday supplies of motor fuel slipped more than forecast by a Bloomberg News survey.

“We’re seeing tremendous dollar weakening,” said Hannes Loacker, an analyst at Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG in Vienna. “That’s what we saw throughout 2009, which made oil rise from below $40 to $70. This correlation disappeared all year until now, so all commodities are rising.”

Heating Oil Profit Doubles Gasoline on Exports

The profit from turning crude into heating oil and diesel fuel has jumped to almost double that for gasoline as U.S. exports to Europe and South America climb.

Houston Ship Channel Opens to Inbound, Outbound Ships

The Houston Ship Channel, which serves the largest U.S. petroleum port, opened for inbound tankers and all outbound traffic after crews lowered the damaged electrical tower that closed the waterway, the Coast Guard said.

Shell scales back 2011 Arctic exploration plan

Shell Oil announced Wednesday that it has scaled back its Arctic Ocean exploration plans for 2011 to promising sites in the Beaufort Sea, backing off prospects in the Chukchi Sea until legal clouds are cleared.

Turkey backs pipeline merger

Turkey supports combining the natural gas pipeline projects Nabucco and Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy, which both aim to feed European needs, said Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

Russia's LUKOIL wants more oil from Ghana

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's No. 2 oil producer, LUKOIL said its offshore oil exploration project in Ghana will almost certainly lead to commercial exploitation, the vice president of LUKOIL Overseas said Thursday.

CNPC adds fuel to Turkmen ties

MONTREAL - China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has announced the discovery of yet another gas field on the right bank of the Amu Darya River in Turkmenistan, holding in excess of 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas.

Separately, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new compressor station at the Bagtiyarlyk fields, estimated by Chinese engineers to hold 1.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

Conoco's Management Shakeup Provides Road Map to CEO Succession

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, established a succession plan for its chief executive as it announced the retirement of its president and chief financial officer and brought in two outside executives as part of a management shakeup.

Norwegian company DNV to probe Gulf oil spill

OSLO (AFP) – Norwegian certification group Det norske Veritas (DNV) said Wednesday US authorities had asked it to help investigate the failed safety valve that caused the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said it had been hired by the Joint Investigation Team of the departments of the Interior and Homeland Security "for the forensic examination of the blowout preventer."

Tehran alarm grows at Russia's defection

The indications are that Moscow has now joined the United States' "strategic game" against Iran. As Tehran's preoccupation grows over this unsettling issue about its northern neighbor and sole nuclear partner, rumors are circulating that authorities have interrogated several Russian technicians at the Russian-built Bushehr power plant over their possible involvement with the recent cyber-attack that infected staff computers at the facility.

The Bushehr plant was due to open this month, but due to technical difficulties, a "small leak" according to officials and not the cyber-attack as initially reported, operations are now slated to begin early next year. The mystery of the origins of the powerful cyber-attack against Iran continues, and there are strong suspicions in Iran of a joint US-Israeli operation, though some in the West now place the blame on Russia.

Chevron-Led Kazakhstan Oil Project to Submit an Expansion Plan Next Year

Chevron Corp.’s Kazakh oil venture is expected to submit an expansion plan next year for the Central Asian country’s largest producing oil field, Oil & Gas Minister Sauat Mynbayev said today in Almaty.

West Virginia Sues Over Mountaintop Mining Limits

West Virginia says it is filing a lawsuit against two federal agencies that seeks to reverse the stricter controls on mountain-top coal mining adopted in 2009 by the Obama administration.

Announcing the action on Wednesday against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, Gov. Joe Manchin III said that the regulations were unlawful, usurped state rights, were based in inadequate science and harmed the state by preventing new mining projects.

The issue that supersedes all others

I'm writing to you this morning from a hotel in Washington DC where I'm attending an energy conference.

It's being hosted by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO). I'm joined by two of my Wyatt Investment Research colleagues, Brit Ryle (a researcher, analyst and 10 year veteran of the investment research business) as well as energy analyst Gregor Macdonald, editor of Energy World Profits and all-around expert on the topic.

I've been urging readers to take a look at Gregor's research because he really knows his stuff, and because you need to be aware of what's coming down the pike. I sincerely believe energy is THE issue that supersedes all others.

The End of the World (as we Know it) is Nigh

Michael Ruppert is one of the most recent to update the peak oil theory to the present time with alarming predictions, many of which already appear to have come true.

Part-prophet, part-journalist, and part-lone-wolf, Michael Ruppert is a true-outsider who has suffered in the name of what he believes is right. Ruppert describes in the Collapse documentary how he regularly struggles to pay the rent and keep up with expenses, but he is not content with sitting on his laurels grumbling about "fair play". He is doing something about it.

Demand for innovation needed in America

It is obvious why we all don't drive electric, hydrogen or even solar-powered cars. Gas is a efficient source of energy and probably will be more effecient than those sources for decades to come without more research.

Now the honeymoon is over, and I want a divorce.

Population growth is an age-old problem, get used to it

Not long ago demographers projected that the world's population would reach 16 billion. Advertisement: Story continues below

But falling fertility has meant this forecast has been continuously revised down ever since. Now many believe the global population will peak at 9 billion in 2050.

Contrary to gloomy Malthusian predictions of doom, this decline will not have come about because of famine or disaster. Instead, as the author Fred Pearce outlines in his new book Peoplequake, the much feared population bomb is being defused by human ingenuity and innovation.

Smart grid will help cut electricity use

A more advanced power grid taking shape across the emirate could cut peak electricity use by as much as 20 per cent, lowering carbon pollution and reducing the investment burden on the Abu Dhabi Government, a power official says.

Wave of the future needs investment

A BABY at the moment, but with the potential to grow in to a giant: that's CSIRO's verdict on Australia's wave energy potential.

The federal government's premier research agency has published an atlas of wave power potential on the southern seaboard from Geraldton in Western Australia to Tasmania's King Island and finds that the coastline could provide a resource able to deliver five times the present national electricity consumption.

Germany Doubles Clean-Energy Jobs Since 2004, State-Sponsored Study Says

Germany has doubled the number of jobs since 2004 in its renewable-energy industry that makes and uses equipment for harnessing the wind, sun and biomass, the environment ministry said.

The total of 340,000 jobs exceed previous estimates, the ministry said today in an e-mailed statement, citing a study it commissioned.

Thomas L. Friedman: The Terminator vs. Big Oil

The Terminator, a k a the Governator, is not happy. And you shouldn’t be either.

What has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California incensed is the fact that two Texas oil companies with two refineries each in California are financing a campaign to roll back California’s landmark laws to slow global warming and promote clean energy innovation, because it would require the refiners to install new emission-control tools. At a time when President Obama and Congress have failed to pass a clean energy bill, California’s laws are the best thing we have going to stimulate clean-tech in America. We don’t want them gutted. C’mon in. This is a fight worth having.

FTC revises guidelines for products claiming to be eco-friendly

NEW YORK — It's an inconvenient truth: Many of the environmental claims in advertisements and packaging are more about raking in the green than being green.

Aiming to clear up confusion for consumers about what various terms mean, the Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines for businesses that make claims about so-called "eco-friendly" products.

Coal Plant Would Get New Controls

The Environmental Protection Agency signaled on Wednesday that it would require an Arizona power plant, one of the largest coal-fired ones in the nation, to install $717 million in pollution controls to curb emissions that spread haze over the Four Corners region of the Southwest, home to national parks like Mesa Verde.

Official: Hungary's sludge reaches the Danube River

PRAGUE — The toxic red sludge that burst out of a metals plant reservoir and inundated three villages reached the Danube RIver on Thursday, but an Hungarian emergency official said no immediate damage was evident on Europe's second-longest river.

The European Union and environmental officials had feared an environmental catastrophe affecting half a dozen nations if the red sludge, a waste product of making aluminum, contaminated the 1,775-mile long Danube, a river that runs through four European capitals and makes up the border for 10 countries.

South Korea May Lend $10 Billion for UAE Nuclear Plant

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea expects to lend about $10 billion for the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear plants, more than doubling pledges it has already made this year to finance construction projects in the Middle East.

Anti-biomass group: Plants produce negative impacts

POWNAL -- A meeting organized by a group opposing a planned biomass and wood pellet facility at the former Green Mountain Race Track drew roughly 60 people Tuesday.

The group, Concerned Citizens of Pownal, invited Josh Schlossberg, of Montpelier, who is the communications coordinator for the Biomass Accountability Project, organizer for Biofuelwatch, and editor of the "Biomass Busters" newsletter. Schlossberg gave a talk on the negative impacts of the biomass industry and answered some questions from the audience.

A Soft Spot for Public Lands

Drumming up support for vast solar or wind installations on deserts treasured by environmentalists is never easy, even when the environmentalists agree that more renewable energy is needed.

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery

DENVER — It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

China Carbon Trading Plan May Be Held Up by Its Economic Growth Priority

China’s plan to begin carbon trading may be held up by negotiations with cities and industries over how to set a limit for emissions, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said.

The Chinese government wants to begin a pilot program in a single sector or city to test the impact of an emissions cap on growth ahead of a possible nationwide move to carbon trading, officials at China’s top economic planner said this week during climate talks in Tianjin, northern China.

China digs in on rich-poor climate pact divide

(Reuters) - China said on Thursday it will not bow to pressure to rethink a key climate change treaty and was preparing to cope with a "gap" in the pact after 2012 if rich nations fail to add new greenhouse gas goals in time.

Oxfam calls for Scotland to set up fund to help those hit by climate change

Oxfam Scotland is calling on the country's political parties to commit to continuing to lead international efforts on climate change by setting up an International Climate Adaptation Fund.

The fund would support the world's poorest communities adapt to the weather-related problems brought about by climate change.

Arctic Ice Is Younger, Thinner, and Disappearing

As scientists have been warning for years, the bigger, underlying problem is not just that Arctic sea ice is diminishing in area, it is also decreasing significantly in volume. The ice that remains is younger and thus thinner.

Ozone study dims Sun's global warming role

The sun's role in climate change may have been overplayed, according to a study indicating that the Earth could actually get slightly cooler, rather than warmer, as the activity of the 11-year solar cycle increases.

Re: Ozone study dims Sun's global warming role

The study on which the article is based appears in the journal NATURE:

An influence of solar spectral variations on radiative forcing of climate

J. D. Haigh, A. R. Winning, R.Toumi & J. W. Harder


The thermal structure and composition of the atmosphere is determined fundamentally by the incoming solar irradiance. Radiation at ultraviolet wavelengths dissociates atmospheric molecules, initiating chains of chemical reactions—specifically those producing stratospheric ozone—and providing the major source of heating for the middle atmosphere, while radiation at visible and near-infrared wavelengths mainly reaches and warms the lower atmosphere and the Earth’s surface1. Thus the spectral composition of solar radiation is crucial in determining atmospheric structure, as well as surface temperature, and it follows that the response of the atmosphere to variations in solar irradiance depends on the spectrum2. Daily measurements of the solar spectrum between 0.2 µm and 2.4 µm, made by the Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM) instrument on the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite3 since April 2004, have revealed4 that over this declining phase of the solar cycle there was a four to six times larger decline in ultraviolet than would have been predicted on the basis of our previous understanding. This reduction was partially compensated in the total solar output by an increase in radiation at visible wavelengths. Here we show that these spectral changes appear to have led to a significant decline from 2004 to 2007 in stratospheric ozone below an altitude of 45 km, with an increase above this altitude. Our results, simulated with a radiative-photochemical model, are consistent with contemporaneous measurements of ozone from the Aura-MLS satellite, although the short time period makes precise attribution to solar effects difficult. We also show, using the SIM data, that solar radiative forcing of surface climate is out of phase with solar activity. Currently there is insufficient observational evidence to validate the spectral variations observed by SIM, or to fully characterize other solar cycles, but our findings raise the possibility that the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations.

Nature 467, 696-699 (7 October 2010) doi:10.1038/nature09426
Note the caveat:

Currently there is insufficient observational evidence to validate the spectral variations observed by SIM

E. Swanson

Link up top: Population growth is an age-old problem, get used to it

All over the world, subsistence farmers discovered that once they began producing surplus food, and entered the cash economy, they didn't need as many hands to keep the farms going. In countries as diverse as Iran and Thailand, fertility has begun to drop to near First World levels.

Yes that is because they have discovered tractors, automated farm equipment, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, deep irrigation wells and pumps to extract the water, and trucks and ships to haul their produce great distances. And to add to all this celebration of joy the population will peak at about 9 billion in about 40 years. And not stated but implied, it hold at around that level for hundreds of years.

But of course it ain't gonna happen just that way.

Malthus, the father of population doom, thought that economic development for the poor was not only a waste of time, but also counterproductive, since poverty-stricken parents would automatically rush to produce more children as soon as they could afford to.

Yes, spot on, that is exactly what happened! That was what caused the population explosion. Fossil fuels, first coal then oil enabled the industrial revolution. This enabled massive new employment producing all the goodies for the new found wealth of the world. Then came the medical revolution that enabled people to live longer, fewer women dying in childbirth, lower infant mortality and all that.

Then came the green revolution and the world population has more than doubled since then. And the availability of an ever growing supply of very cheap fossil fuel made it all possible. But the supply has already stopped growing. And it no longer cheap. Soon it will stop growing. And very soon it will start to decline.

Look at a chart of world population. See how it turns up like a hockey stick when the industrial revolution started. And see how it turned even more sharply up when oil enabled the green revolution to take place. Then imagine what that chart will look like when the oil supply and all the green revolution goodies that go with it start to decline.

Ron P.

On top of this, China says that it won't reach peak carbon output until they reach an income of $40,000 per capita in contrast to their current $3,000 per capita. I guess they are counting on the people on the rest of the planet to just disappear so that the requisite resources, both energy and other, will be available for their realization of the Chinese dream.

I think it is reasonable to surmise that with all China's engineers, however counted, that they have millions of people will a fairly good grasp of mathematics. Effectively speaking,however, they appear just as numerically clueless as the mathematically challenged Americans.

You expected their leaders to tell them they'd be stuck at $3,000? As always, it is not about facts, it's about people in power staying in power, and knowing what to say in order to accomplish that.

Blame women. Ever date a woman who doesn't want kids? Hard to have a relationship without having that discussion come up time and again. I pushed it off for many years, but i finally gave in.

On the flip side, blame the elderly. I was at the hospital yesterday (tonsils taken out) and i thought i was at a nursing home. I would say 80% of the people there having "work done" were elderly.

So we need to limit new births, and old people.

I think you're wrong on both counts. There are men as well as women who want and don't want kids. Obviously, it's something that has to be discussed early on. (The problem is when one party changes their mind. A friend of mine got divorced because her husband decided he wanted kids, and she didn't. They discussed it before they got married and agreed they didn't want children, but he changed his mind.)

As for old people...getting rid of them won't affect the birth rate. They're not of breeding age. Getting rid of young people would have a much bigger effect.

My wife and I were both in agreement early on -- no children. I think people who have children these days are idiots. Anyone can see that the world is becoming a very overcrowded, violent, unhappy place. What kind of future are their children going to have? Dogs are better companions anyway.

Obviously I don't get invited to parties very much.

To each their own, but I think it's only reasonable to be consistent.

If people don't have kids, human beings don't have a future, period. So worrying about the future is inconsistent in your case - might as well admit that it really doesn't matter if human beings disappear from the planet.

The only people who should concern themselves with the future of humanity are those with kids, or those who at least believe that some people ought to have kids.

I am working with an educational program, working on early literacy and language development in the headstart program, and I'm really impressed at the level of attention these women are giving to the development of very young children, at an age we once commonly considered a burden to be foisted off to nannies or set down in front of TVs and other distractions 'until they became interesting'..

It's great to watch smart and committed humans working hard to help other humans. It's people like these who are trying to defend and save a society that IS otherwise steeped in violence and cynicism. So what kind of future are your dogs going to have?

A ruff one? Okay back to the cave for me. Also it is amazing to watch little ones (my son isn't even two) be able to identify animals and their sounds. I've been doing this with my son since I only get him a few hours a week we usually go to the park.

Ever date a woman who doesn't want kids?

Back in the days... The answer is yes, I've known several. The desire is not universal.

My Mom I Shot ?

What kind of sick moniker is that? ;-)

It all depends on where you put the capitals.
Example: I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse.

I think it is supposed to be: My Mom Is Hot.

But your mileage may vary. ;)

My eyeballs always add an extra "S".

My Mom is shot.

And I always wanted to meet his mom ;-)

Regardless, it's a sick monitor. I don't care if it's his adopted mom or stepmom, it's just not right.

But he is basically correct about the elderly, if a little harsh. Death rate has to equal birth rate (and no net migration for individual nations) for population stabilization. Death rate has to exceed birth rate for population reduction.

Putting aside birth rate for the sake of argument, the only way to address death rate is some sort of limiting/rationing of "health care" for the elderly. It may or may not happen by price or collapse of the medical-industrial complex, but I doubt it will happen voluntarily.

Either that or it's disease, war, and famine for the young and middle aged.

In Russia, heavy drinking seemed to increase the death rate.

Maybe we should eliminate all taxes on tobacco and alcohol, as well as legalizing most moderately psychotropic drugs. It would solve a lot of the crime problems as well, since all of these substances are really cheap when mass produced and distributed without taxation.

Oh Brave New World that has such people in it.

Huxley had a solution for old people.

The elderly have skills you only wished you had, and mental abilities you only wished you had.

Me thinks you have just had some bad relationships and need to go through a bit more therapy to get over your angst.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, where everyone is a part of the solutions.

Yes, spot on, that is exactly what happened! That was what caused the population explosion.

I'd like to see you back up that assertion. To my knowledge, the more well-off people are (in real terms), the fewer births per female. Compare sub-Sahara Africa to Germany....

Like most people, you are only looking at the present day. The population exploded in Sub-Sahara Africa when they began to farm, began to pump water from the ground for their cattle and when they began to receive massive aid from developed nations. The population of Asia exploded for the same reasons. The population also exploded in countries like Saudi Arabia when they were able to feed the masses with the aid of petrodollars. When those people felt they could afford more kids, they had more kids, it is that simple.

The green revolution feeds the whole world, not just developed countries. And the medical revolution all during the last century brought the infant mortality rate down, even in Sub-Sahara Africa.

The birth rate today, even in the developed world, is not close to what it was during the middle of the twentieth century. It was then higher all over the world, including Sub-Sahara Africa. It was higher because the world could feed more people... and it did. And it could keep more people alive... and it did.

Ron P.

At least in India and most of Asia, population exploded because death rate fell faster than birth rate. The population explosion has more to do with the availability of antibiotics and vaccines than anything else.

Both my father's family and my wife's mother's family had over ten children at the early part of the twentieth century. Hardly sub-sahara Africa, North Dakota and Illinois.

People did not suddenly decide to have more babies in the 20th century. In most parts of the world, fertility rates have been steady or dropping throughout the 20th century. But with the advent of vaccines and antibiotics, death rate plummeted faster than the birth rate. Hence the population explosion.

To my knowledge, the more well-off people are (in real terms), the fewer births per female. Compare sub-Sahara Africa to Germany....

As is quite often the case, upon closer and more intense scrutiny, things are rarely so starkly black or white...


15. Myth: Educate women, and fertility rates will automatically drop.

I use the word "myth" cautiously here, for I happen to believe that much of what is behind this statement is true. In fact, in many countries there is a strong inverse correlation between the level of education of women and their fertility level. In addition, as Kenya has experienced, keeping girls in school longer can have a demographic impact in countries with high teenage pregnancy rates.

On the other hand, achieving high rates of female literacy, without any other interventions, may not lead to fertility decline. Tanzania is an example of a country with high rates of female literacy (88 percent, according to the government) where the fertility rate has not declined markedly (as of 1993, at 6.4 children per woman). As with the issue of economic development, other factors, such as access to family planning services and cultural norms regarding childbearing, cannot be ignored by those concerned with population growth.

There is a need for more research on the relationship between various aspects of women's status and fertility rates. In his 1991 study of comparative reproductive preferences, Charles Westoff of Princeton University's Office of Population Research found,

"The relationship between education and the percentage of women who want no more children is positive in several of the countries, but weak or non-existent in many others. In fact, [the data] give the general impression that the intention to terminate childbearing is similar across educational levels...There is little evidence to support any strong pattern of diffusion or differential penetration of norms of family limitation across educational levels or from urban to rural areas. (pp. 5-6)

And to add to all this celebration of joy the population will peak at about 9 billion in about 40 years. And not stated but implied, it hold at around that level for hundreds of years.

What in the word "peak" implies anything of the sort? In most First World countries, the fertility rate is well below the replacement level.

Who said anything about first world countries in the future. But something could turn up, I guess, to make it all better.

Who said anything about first world countries in the future.

From the original post: "In countries as diverse as Iran and Thailand, fertility has begun to drop to near First World levels." In China, too.

Falling birth rate =! falling population.

Not necessarily. The birth rate has fallen in almost every country on earth but the population is still increasing, not falling. The population is increasing at about 1.2 percent per year. That works out to be about 81 million people per year.

That works out to be about 220,000 people per day!

A side note: The combined population of all other great apes in the world is slightly less than 200,000. One species of great ape is increasing its numbers more every day than the total population of all other great apes in the world combined.

Ron P.

Ron, =! means "does not equal". It's a computer programming thing :-)

I thought it was a 'Tongue Sticking Out' Smiley..

I sure hope my tongue doesn't look like that, ahem.


You guys are killin' me!

Malthus, the father of population doom, thought that economic development for the poor was not only a waste of time, but also counterproductive, since poverty-stricken parents would automatically rush to produce more children as soon as they could afford to.

Malthus thought poverty was the cure for population growth.
If (virtuous)people couldn't afford children they wouldn't have them and if that didn't work crime, famine and disease would finish the less virtuous off. He (falsely imo) claimed that he didn't condemn charity.

This train of thought counterpoints Malthus' stand on public assistance to the poor. He proposed the gradual abolition of poor laws by gradually reducing the number of persons qualifying for relief. Relief in dire distress would come from private charity

"Evil exists in the world not to create despair, but activity." - T. R. Malthus

This looks like a very interesting insight into investment banking:

Thompson Reuters: Global Investment Banking Fees Review


It's a 500kb PDF eight slide presentation.

I got it from this link:

Investment banks give taxpayers a good soaking



The Black Hole

Thanks for this. I will read and reply.

I am not an advocate of quantitative finance or Black Scholes. My sole point in our earlier exchange on this was that finance does not think that Black Scholes is exact.

The broader point, which addresses your linked blog post is that economics does not think it is a science.

Here is how I see this:

1. Scientists are doing science and know they are doing science - they are right
2. Economists are doing analysis, but not science and know this - they are right
3. Economists know scientists are doing science - they are right
4. Scientists think economists think they are doing science - they are wrong

Economics and finance, at an academic level, have taken the experience of science and found that it does have value in a theoretical settings, but not necessarily to the real world.

A small, but significant portion of finance practitioners have drawn almost entirely on physics and advanced math to try to outsmart everyone else. In many of these cases, they are saying that they are right and economic theory is wrong. They are opposed to, not a part of, core economic and financial practice.

The core quant role traditionally, has been technical analysis, which is almost entirely rejected by academic finance.

So, I agree with your indictment of Black Scholes, quants, much of technical analysis, etc. But you are trying to make the entire field of economics and finance co-conspirators, when in fact, they were at the table ahead of you.

Academic econ and finance has understood, taught and published on the exact issues you are on your soapbox about.

Individual finance practitioners, like individual scientists, are human and do some stupid things. But their actions don't necessarily apply to the entire field.

But the field of econophysics is doing a great job, IMO.

You see, they actually try to apply probability theory and statistics that is not attached to the process of making money.
They take a cold analytical slant to the empirical observations, and I would say that actually classifies as a science.

I am still getting the hang of it, but this is a recent example of what econophysicists are trying to do:

Academic econ and finance has understood, taught and published on the exact issues you are on your soapbox about.

I havn't been able to separate technical versus academic finance. I would like to see a reference. What is confusing is that they won the Econ Nobel for Black-Scholes, what is that if not a ringing endorsement from the academic econ establishment?

Thanks for the insight.

"...they won the Econ Nobel for Black-Scholes...." in 1973

It was a breakthrough at that time, and has not been discredited. It's just in 1972 when we had nothing and approximation was a great thing to have. Now, not so much.

And the Econ Nobel is not really a Nobel. But your point that academic finance recognized it is correct. i also think academic and technical finance are interchangeable terms. Finance practice can be quite different, although academic finance has influenced practice quite a lot.

"It is not one of the Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, but is commonly identified with them."


Black-Scholes may not be depended on as much but the mathematical artifices built up around the topic of derivatives is still going strong. I see things like negative probabilities proposed.

My understanding was that many structured finance products were so complicated that people didn't actually analyze them at all.

In the subprime CDO case that Goldman settled (http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2010/2010-123.htm), I would be surprised if the buyers of ABACUS did valuations at the level of individual mortgages, or even close.

This stuff was all too complicated and was moving too fast. The problem, to my mind, was more that securitized financial products and complex derivatives such as credit default swaps (CDS) went crazy and we lost control of them.

Blame banks, regulators, the system, human nature. I do think quantitative finance is largely guilty as you charge. But I am less convinced it is the prime mover, or that economics and finance as academic fields are tarred by the recent economic crash.

An old Economics favorite book Manias, Panics and Crashes makes a pretty credible case in my view that humanity is doomed to cycles of overexuberance that blows up in its face.


Yeast again, maybe.

That's what bothers me. The math is way too complicated for what a heuristic would demand.

And, didn't Hari Seldon win something for his work on psychohistory, without which we could not make (nearly) exact predictions of the collective actions of very large groups of people?

You can make moral judgments about "making money", but motive and method can be entirely discrete.

Some scientists and some economists are trying to save the world. There are a lot of left wing economists, you know.

Plenty of scientists are using their craft to make money for themselves and, yes, corporations.

GMOs, petrochemicals, and nuclear bombs all came from scientists. 3M, Dow Chemical, and Dupont polluted the world before any of us thought much about finance.

You have to separate analysis from emotions. If you are using the terms "Economists" and "the people who screwed up the global economy" as identical, you are being inaccurate and unfair to economists.

If someone goes to a Physics PhD program, then joins Goldman Sachs and loses my life savings, why are economists to blame?

Most finance is pretty simple. Financial statements and stuff.

Quantitative finance came from the math and science guys. Not the economists and accountants.

Black-Scholes = The Black Hole

Are you being a Serious Man here?

(I just added my 2 shekels to your Mobject blog)

Partial differential equations are tricky. I only pull my punches on the initial conditions. I don't know if I am contributing to the mentaculus or deconstructing it.
Is this the tornado in the parking lot?

Is this the tornado in the parking lot?

No. Black-Scholes is the fourth Rabbi.

Well actually he is the first and thus forms the initial boundary conditions that lead up to the tornado. (Oops. I just gave away the answer to the complex numbers Kabalah enigma.)


Has anyone read Deffeyes' new book yet? I haven't come across any reviews or anything (other than those at Amazon).

Not yet, but I just downloaded it and am reading on my Droid Eris phone!

...am reading on my Droid Eris phone!

OMG! I sure hope your phone comes with a pair of high resolution heads up display glasses. I myself do a lot of reading on my laptop but reading a book on a phone display would definitely be pushing it for me.

I'd need something like this:


That's where the new interactive data glasses from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems come in. The German scientists have been working to make HMDs interactive, rather than passive display systems--the innovation has been to build a set of glasses that tracks the wearer's eye movements. By combining an eye tracking sensor and an OLED-based projection system onto a single CMOS chip, the 19-millimeter-by-17-millimeter product is now small enough to perch on the hinge of a set of modified glasses. From there it projects the display image directly onto the wearer's retina and monitors the position of the user's eyeball.

The upshot is that the user sees a high-resolution, high-contrast image that appears to be floating a meter away, and by merely gesturing with the eyes--such as flicking to the right to change a page, or scanning downwards to scroll through a list--simple interface controls can be carried out.

In the past I had seen several thoughts of holographic projection computer keyboards and even screens if you can get the systems to project them correctly. These were in the late 90's and early 00's.

I just composed a story (thinking all the parts out without writing them down) of a guy who has high tech things that he slowly introduces into the market place via labs and schools, by showing his products to those people and letting them in on how he got there, and having them make the break throughs, he keeps a hands off approach as he does not need the money really. Think someone who already knows how to have mined the ocean floor around volcanic vents ala capt. Nemo type smarts.

We have 3-D cad programs and have had them for over 20 years at least in the working stages and early formats. Just think 3-D holographic table top size projections from a small source like a cell phone sized device. We can almost do it now, just need the push in a few places.

But those glasses would be neat, the wearer and software could adjust for corrective sight needs.

Like the 4 hour video feed from a ear camera so you can go real world video all the time. Good for training videos and things where your actions really need to be recorded.

I compose a lot of movie like fiction in my head, I've always wanted to be able to download my active imagination onto film. My brother is really pushing me to get more of my stories on paper, I can verbally tell people a lot of them, but more is still stored in my mind's eye.

Aw well, another dream to think about making a story around.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

I hate to say it, but I was disappointed by it. It's very thin, as in few pages. There's really not much about peak oil in it, either. There's lots of technical stuff that lay readers like myself find hard to read. He also treads over old ground.

I will say this: His wry sense of humor is still at play. For that, I was thankful.

This seems to be a trend.

I was hugely dissapointed in Michael Pollan's latest (In Defense of Food) after the (mostly) excellent Omnivores Dillemma. IDOF was very short, and had very little new material.

I think that once these guys get famous, the temptation to collect the advance, phone in a thin book, and collect money becomes too powerful to resist, even if they know they don't have that much to say at the moment. Strike while the iron is hot, and all that.

I missed The Omnivore's Delimma but did read In Defense of Food. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So I'm a fan of second books.

I seem to recall that reading that "In Defense of Food" was meant as a quickie version of "Omnivore's Dilemma" - for people who didn't have the time or inclination to read the longer work.

I think that's legit, as long as you know what you're getting when you buy it.

I picked it up on MP3 to listen to while running. It is interesting but it seems more like a collection of essays on a wide variety of topics. It has a few chapters about oil but then it has chapters on economics, natural gas, uranium, climate change, rare metals, and oil from Algae.

He talks a lot about the Hubbert curve, curve selection, critiques of the Hubbert model, etc. He is sticking to his view that 2005 was the peak. I guess time will tell.

If it is any help, here is the list of files (chapters?) from the MP3 audio version:

001 When Oil Peaked
002 One: Bell-Shaped Curves
003 Two: Nehring’s Critique
004 Three: Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill
005 Four: The Dismal Science
006 Five: The Awl Bidness
007 Six: The Wider Picture
008 Seven: Uranium---the Red and the Black
009 Eight: Climate Change
010 Nine: Natural Gas
011 Ten: Oil from Algae
012 Eleven: Transportation Efficiency
013 Twelve: Metal Deposits
014 Thirteen: Recommendations

Thanks for the reviews, all. I think I'll wait on this one. Maybe pick up a used copy.

RE: Shell scales back 2011 Arctic exploration plan

See also Shell still betting on Arctic oil
In the article they refer to the Sivulliq prospect. This was formerly known as "Hammerhead" and was discovered by Unocal back in the mid '80s. Unocal drilled two wells on Hammerhead in 1985 and 1986. MMS estimates are that there are 100-200 million bbls of recoverable oil in Hammerhead.

These eastern Beaufort Sea prospects (Shell also bought leases on Kuvlum, previously drilled by ARCO) may be somewhat more attractive now, since a pipeline extends east from Prudhoe Bay to Badami. If Exxon continues with development of condensate at Pt. Thomson, then presumably a pipeline would extend even further to the east, to the western boundary of ANWR. This should help the economics of developing Hammerhead and Sivulliq/Hammerhead. Nevertheless, developing anything that far out in the Beaufort will be challenging to say the least.

Good news for the company and its employees of course but only a week or two of consumption for the country.

Of course it will sound like a bonanza to Joe Sixpack.


I'm just trying to flesh out a story that was flagged in Drumbeat. I'm not trying to suggest it is going to save the world. It is worth noting that this does have implications with respect to other stories that have appeared lately in Drumbeat about the life expectancy of TAPS (Trans Alaska Pipeline). If it takes Shell too long to develop, they may have no way to get the oil out. On the other hand, if they can develop it in time, it will potentially give a small life extension to TAPS.

Shell's play in the Chukchi, on the other hand, is about gas. Development out there is really dependent on whether or not an Alaska gas pipeline ever gets built.

Hi, Alaska,

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come across as sarcastic.

I like oldfarmermac cynicism. It makes my morning go more smoothly.

Well silly me! I naively assumed that some folks on a PO forum might find it interesting that much of the "Exploration" in the Arctic is really just companies recycling plays that were discovered and drilled decades ago. Sorry, my mistake.

If morning cynicism is all you are looking for you hardly need to waste time scrolling through TOD. Just pick up a morning paper.

We brew a much higher grade of cynicism around here than that bulk manufactured retail stuff.

I do think that your point does reinforce how few unexplored areas there are in the world, thanks for pointing it out.

Yes, I like to think of it as "boutique cynicism". ;-)

Or maybe "artisanal cynicism"...

Disagree. The main character of the cynicism here is quantity not quality. About 80% is actually recycled cynicism, just like the arctic oil fields. Mostly just droll recitations of the same inside jokes.

I am broadly a fan of cynicism, but think the bulk of what we get on TOD is ignorant rejectionism that substitutes strong feelings for actual knowledge.

Cyclical remarks on TOD are often a form of ad hominim. If you don't have a logical rebuttal, be sarcastic, worse don't label it as sarcasm.

Don't like when an economist says, no problem. You don't have to grapple with the argument, trash the whole field economist. Call it sarcasm and pretend it's clever!

You may not make any intellectual progress, but you will get kudos from all the other commenters who also didn't understand the subject, but are 100% sure they are against it.

Sarcasm has a place, but standing in for analysis is not it.

I am trying my haardest to understand tthe models and the math. That´s how they make the wealth so feel free to dive in.

Tsk. The trick is to interleave lightweight comments with serious discussion in a way that emulates a face-to-face discussion as much as can be done in this medium.

This does mean a lot of recycling, and sometimes it disrupts the discussion, but most everyone means well by it.

As far as the field of Economics goes, most of us who have dealt with it at all seriously know of economists of the Strict Accounting School that we take seriously while dismissing Austrian and Chicago School economists out of hand. I personally don't have time for religious fanatics when it comes to money, they have a tendency to make arguments that amount to "I deserve your money", just like all the other televangelists out there.

"We brew a much higher grade of cynicism around here than that bulk manufactured retail stuff."
True, that! :-)

Yes, even in most of the so called "frontier" areas, we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. There is still a good deal of O&G to be found, for sure, but not anywhere near enough to effect the overall downward trend. At best we might slightly slow the decline. Used wisely, it could help somewhat ease the transition into post oil. But I'm totally cynical about the chances of using our remaining reserves wisely. Right now I'm just hoping to use the remaining years of Alaska production to ease my own 'personal transition' into post oil.

I think it is very interesting, even if not widely known.
For the north (Alaska and Canada) the issue is not really about finding stuff - the industry knows there is lots there, scattered around.
This issue will increasingly be about the pipelines. It is ironic that for the pipeline that exists, we are running out of stuff to put in it, and for the pipeline that doesn't exist, there is massive amounts of stuff waiting to go in it.

even though the NG pipeline "may not be economic", it would certainly be useful. I think building that would have made a much better "stimulus" project than almost anything else, and certainly better value for the $20bn (or so) than bailing out 1/7 th of AIG!

So, Alaska Geo, keep your insights coming. The rest of your country may forget about you, or even just regard you as a fuel tank with nice scenery, but that doesn;t mean what you have to say is not important.

Just try and steer it so that NG pipeline gets built over the top, rather than down the middle...

It would seem to me that any discussion of Smart Grid technology should at least mention super conductors, such as the high temperature superconducting cables mentioned in a CNET (also CNBC) story today:

"Superconductor cable manufacturer LS Cable of Korea has ordered over 3 million meters of the HTS wire. The wire, which will be manufactured in Massachusetts, will be used in LS Cable direct-current superconductor cables to be laid across Korea in conjunction with a project with the Korean utility KEPCO, and also for the Tres Amigas SuperStation project in the U.S.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20018881-54.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20#ixzz11h95txdp"

A brief review seems to show promise at significant energy savings -- Maybe a boon also to EV's.

"Superconductor cable manufacturer LS Cable of Korea has ordered over 3 million meters of the HTS wire. The wire, which will be manufactured in Massachusetts, will be used in LS Cable direct-current superconductor cables to be laid across Korea in conjunction with a project with the Korean utility KEPCO, and also for the Tres Amigas SuperStation project in the U.S.

Interesting, but missing is how many kms of transmission line result, at what ratings, from that 3Mm of ribbon stock ?

It's worth noting that when they say "high temperature superconducting" they are talking cryogenic temperatures of liquid nitrogen and such.

High temperature just means above absolute zero.

This is of no help to EV's. There major hurdle for EV's is the energy density and cost of the batteries - this helps neither.

Even though there is a transmission loss, it is not the end of the world. It is certainly not worth building this sort of thing for the benefit of wind power either - wind tends to produce more at night when the lines are not at capacity and losses are much smaller. That of course, is when most EV charging is done, so the losses there (getting to the car) are already smaller.

We don;t need a smart grid, we need smarter electricity users, and smarter government. Shift/flatten peak load curves, and aggressive implementation of time of use rates, will be of much more benefit than spending on yet more high tech stuff.

I beg to disagree: we do need a Smart Grid, and better energy transmission will help the acceptance of EV's. This is, obviously, all opinion at this point. EV's haven't been developed to the extent they need to be, as you point out. At least one posting here and articles I have read point out that the experts are looking into using EV's as part of the Smart Grid to provide energy storage to smooth out supply and demand.

The development cannot be done over night and, certainly, cannot be done if good ideas are dismissed out of hand because technology can wait until we get "smarter electricity users, and smarter government". The project I noted is small, but will provide a lot of information and provide the practical experience on which to base improvements. It will provide the data that is necessary before the next experiment is designed.

As to getting a smarter government, you can't do that without good data and good communication of the data to the law and policy makers. And, by the way, you also need strong public support. Many people who don't jump on the EV bandwagon now are simply against coal. Some see the electrical transmission process as too inefficient.

A question that there is no data for now but needs answering is: will a fully-developed EV contribute less CO2 than a petrol fired vehicle. And, I mean from cradle on to end of cycle.


I guess we will have to disagree here. The grid is fine, it is well managed (except in California) , has adequate spare capacity, and can easily handle charging lots of ev's in off peak hours. We do not need to have smart meters, and real time information on electricity prices on our iphones etc etc, to get acceptance of EV's.

We do not need V2G either - if you think electricity transmission involves unacceptable losses, take a look at the round trip efficiency for doing V2G. And like wind energy, it can't be controlled by the grid operator, so you introduce more variability, not less.

Peak demand issues, where they exist, *cannot* be solved by V2G alone, unless you can be guarnateed of having very large numbers plugged in, during peak periods. That is years, decades away - anywhere that has peak issues cannot wait that long to resolve them. A prudent system operator will solve peak demand issues by either adding capacity as required, or managing the loads/demand growth. They would not let a potential blackout happen because not enough cars were plugged into the grid.

What is needed for EV's is for people to adjust their expectations. If they want them to be like ICE V's, then they will be very expensive. If they are small, light and low range, then they will be cheap.
Both types will have a minor effect on the grid - the large ev's because not enough will sell to make any difference, and the small ones, because they are small, and don't need high power charging - 120 or 220v at best is enough.

The CO2 balance will make no difference - hardly anyone is going to buy an EV, or not, because of the CO2 balance. The cradle to grave CO2 cycle is only of academic interest.
What is far more important is the oil balance - get off imported oil first and foremost. Even if the CO2 balance is worse by having coal powered EV's, that can be changed over time.
If half the vehicle fleet could be replaced by ev's tomorrow, our coal consumption would increase, but offshore oil imports (not incl Mex and Canada) would go to zero. I'll happily trade that for a negative CO2 balance. Then we can get to work on the CO2 balance, and we will have more capital at our disposal (from less oil imports) to do so.

Worrying about the CO2 of EV's while 10 million barrels a day of oil is imported is like worrying about how your house paint will stand up to the weather while your roof is leaking.

The perceived inefficiency in transmission does not matter either. No one will not buy an EV because they think the transmission process is inefficient - it serves our houses and cities well enough, it will do fine for ev's.
It is the obsession with perfection that is holding them back. They do not have to be the best, most efficient, longest range, most featured vehicle ever, that uses the least possible energy generated in the greenest way and transmitted in the most efficient way.

They simply need to be available, and affordable, and implemented - the rest we can work on over time.

Of course, the best ev's of all are electric trains, but that;s a whole different story.

Future growth in electricity will not be influenced to any extent by EV's, it will be influenced by the people, companies and government. If everyone wants to get rid of coal, that will happen (for a cost) regardless of EV's. Same for nuclear, wind etc

The grid has served us well, and if maintained and planned properly, will continue to do so. If we had the "smart grid" in existence tomorrow, what difference would it really make to the parties that supply or use the electricity? And for the EV owner, will it make the car go any further, or be any cheaper to buy? If the answer to any of this is no, then the Smart grid is simply not a priority - it is a solution to a problem that we don;t have.


I can't really criticize your reasoning -- it is sound, but I do not have the exact set of biases as you. I agree that V2G cannot "alone" solve the peak demand issues. But, I am starting from the assumption that is also being adopted by China and Korea that energy management could be fostered by power transmission improvements. There are many on this side, otherwise Smart Grid would not be a discussion topic.

On the subject of energy independence, I agree with your end point -- let's see what we can do now to get that under control. I appreciate your thoughtful approach, and I hope the debate on the various points we have made based on opinion are fleshed out with sound science and good data.

Yes, I do have a unique set of biases - I have managed a small grid (for a ski resort), and we had our own version of "smart grid", which allowed us to control certain customer loads (heat and hot water) to minimise peaks while doing snowmaking. This worked, and we saved a lot of money, However, it could not lead, as Twilight points out below, to deferring of capacity expansions. The system must still be able to handle the major loads coincidentally - if you are relying on load juggling to stay within equipment limits then it is time to upgrade the equipment. The more local the problem, the less the load management can help you out.

The real benefit of load management is in flattening the load curve, so that the more efficient baseload generation can supply a higher % of the total energy. Where I live, in British Columbia, there is lots of hydro, and flattening the load curve means more can be exported in peak periods at high price, and more can be bought back in off peak, at low price. That is good for BC and good for whoever is supplying the off peak power. The MBA's would call that an efficient solution, and so would I.

But I would not rely on that to stay within transmission capacity limits, as sooner or later, they will be exceeded, when for some reason, load shifting does not happen as much as normal.

The primary driver for good load shifting is peak and off peak rates, and the difference between them being large enough that customers start to load shift. In Britain, everyone knows to wait until 10 pm (off peak rates) to run the dishwasher or the washing machine. They use night store electric heaters, that contain stuff like sand or bricks, to heat up during the night, turn off at 6am, and gradually release their heat during the day. And on it goes - lots of options, none needing a smart grid, or smart phones. Only a very few homeowners are going to actively manage the electricity use - howe much time will you spend to save less than $5/day?

Businesses will be more pro active, if they can benefit more, thye too will do the calculation of how much time it is wirth spending to manage their electric bill. Best to do the efficiency/load shifting things once, and then it is managed. They do not want something that increases the complexity of their business.

For the grid, the smart grid represent trying to wring the last 20% of capacity out of it, and in most cases it will cost far more than expanding where needed. It involves lots of expensive equipment, "software" etc etc - in short, it increases the complexity of the system to get that capacity. A more robust solution is to increase capacity and keep the system simpler.

The smart grid is touted as helping wind energy, but it doesn't. The ONLY things that can help wind energy are energy storage, and discretionary loads that can be turned on when the wind is blowing (e.g over cooling of cold storage), and you don't need the smart grid for either.

The smart grid is a bit like the Toyota Prius - very efficient, very high tech and very expensive. It only pays itself off in certain situations (e.g. a taxi)
But you can also buy small simple cars, like the Japanese Kei cars, that get better milage than a Prius, in all driving conditions, without needing any of the high tech, or the high price. They are small, lightweight cars with 660cc engines. A family that has one of these will be better off, financially, than with a Prius. If they need more "transport" (e.g family of six)they can buy a 2nd one, and still have paid less than for one Prius, but now have greater capacity, and less tech. if you exceed the transport capacity of the Prius, and have to buy a 2nd one, you are out some serious cash and the 2nd one will not get enough use to justify the expense.
A Prius does give them bragging rights about having the best high tech vehicle - a smart grid does the same, but who cares about bragging rights - it just has to work.

So too with the grid, if you have to expand anyway, the "smart" part of it has gained you very little, but likely cost more than the expansion. What are the bragging rights then?

I am all for maximising efficiency and minimising waste and complexity - the smart grid can help with 1 and 2 but saddles you with 3, and costs a lot. There are more efficient ways to gain efficiency.

As for energy (i.e. oil) independence, well, I don;t think anyone will disagree with the concept, but no one can seem to agree on how to achieve it. There is this utopia of getting there without giving anything up, and it just won't happen. Anything that is really worth having, is worth giving up something for it. If that means, collectively, we give up driving big vehicles long distances, and/ or cheap gasoline, then so be it. Better than giving up the nation's finest to support our oil consumption.


Again, I appreciate the care with which you have expressed your views; however, your main points are all opinion and subject to debate.

I have a simple ON button: science is not just philosophy any more. It requires the mental element to define the question; but experimental evidence is necessary to the scientific method, which must be used to provide data that is credible. Public opinion and policy people need data, and they need it well expressed.

You seem to be advocating a system of transmission that is fairly specific to your views of urgency. You seem to lack of empathy for MBA's and software. All of your points are worth consideration, and they should all be used to question suppliers for any Smart Grid project; but let's not pan the results before the tests are run. I do not engage with the Prius discussion -- not because I don't think it is a good start, but because I see it as simply an early positive step in a generation-long development program. Let's do more Prius, more super conductor and more energy storage projects -- then, let's take the results we see in technical advances and move in the direction the data shows as most likely to provide most of what we are looking for. And, in ten years, what will we be looking for?

In my view it would not be good public policy to do anything to deter a Massachusetts company from selling to the US -- on a pilot scale -- the same technology being sold to willing buyers in Korea and China. Is it not a good thing that others may see benefits that ones own view did not appreciate?

I have enjoyed the exchange but must retire for the night because I am not yet retired.


Not retired myself either, in either sense of the word!

I applaud that company's efforts to develop such products - there is a use for them and there will be more. Superconductors, to date, have had few industrial applications, I;d like to see some more. Last analysis I saw for using them, for long distance transmission was very unfavourable (economically) - maybe that will change, though I don't really think we have a transmission problem.

What I don't like to hear is things like "the Smart Grid will enable X" If X needs a smart grid to function, then I don't see X as being a scalable solution.
And I certainly am wary when I hear governments suddenly talking about building the smart grid - it makes for great sound bites, but that doesn;t mean we really need it. Let the industry determine what is needed.

As an engineer, I have both respect and skepticism for the MBA and software types. We all live to optimise things, though we optimise different things in different ways, of course. Problem is when someone is optimisng X to the nth degree, when they have passed the point where X is the controlling variable,, it is now Y. The grid is a unique beast, because of the need to maintain balance. Yes, you want to get the most out of what you have, but as you get closer to the limits, the failure risks increase exponentially, when the risk of failure is unacceptable.
The main job of the electric industry is to deliver the power where and when it is needed, and they do that very well. It is not up to the industry to be controlling people's water heaters and EV charging, and certainly not rely on that to maintain stability. Does not mean stuff can;t be done, you just can;t bet the grid on it.

Let's improve the grid by all means, but it has to be kept real. I am starting to see "momentum" for this concept when I don;t think it is needed.

A much better application is smart control of customer's loads, by the customer. That is the equivalent, i guess, of the Prius - it is not concerned with how smart the process was to get fuel to the pump, it is concerned with using it as efficiently as possible. I see electricity in the same way - the grid is probably 90% of ideal, but the way we use electricity is probably 60-70% of ideal, at best - that is where I think we should be putting our efforts.
Much more scope for everyone, MBA's and software types included, to create real benefits there!

In the meantime, you can rest assured the electricity industry is keeping up on superconductors, HVDC etc etc, they don;t like to waste their hard generated electricity either!



Flattening the load curve though better control systems can be a worthy goal, insofar as it leads to better reliability. An indeed that is what most of the people working on "smart grid" type solutions think they are doing. But those who fund those efforts have other goals and will want to sell whatever "spare" capacity can be freed up.

Also, there is the problem of diminishing returns when you try to implement such schemes. There are a tremendous number of substations in the US that are equipped with old electro-mechanical protection relays and no provisions for communications. The relays are set to keep the transformers from burning up, and the lines are mostly (barely) being protected by the fuses and disconnects out on the lines. Now to retrofit a new distributed control scheme starting from there is no trivial undertaking. To extend it into the home to control loads yet another order of magnitude more complex. And for all of that you get no more capacity, just perhaps the ability to use the existing capacity better along with the probability of catastrophic failure when something goes wrong and you have no overhead.

I am a big advocate of flattening the load curve because not only is it more reliable, it also lowers the average cost of electricity, and has a marginal benefit in reduced transmission loss - all goals worth shooting for.

I am in agreement that saddling old style (but still perfectly functional) equipment with a lot of new tech is not a guaranteed improvement.

The smart grid advocates say that we will transmit the electricity more efficiently, and this may be true. But when we are 90+% efficient, is it worth going for 95+%? I am far from convinced that the cost/benefit is there.

Meanwhile, the capital could be much better deployed on the customer side, where there is massive scope for efficiency, before we even do load shifting.

The political involvement is the red flag. They make it sound like if we do the smart grid, our electricity problems will be solved, and consumers won;t have to change anything much.

The reality is quite opposite - the grid doesn't have to change much at all, and it is the customers that need to change to see the benefits.

Any gains from the most efficient grid possible can be easily eclipsed by inefficient customers.
You only need to look at southern California, where people have spent tens of thousands on solar panels so they can run their a/c all day on their 5000sq.ft house with a black roof. And then they turn them off at night (when they are much more efficient) because they are not getting the "free" solar energy. All up, a hell of a lot of resources committed there for the comfort of daytime a/c.

I like the concept of "matched performance", having everything at a similar level. Right now the grid performance is way better than that of most (not all) customers, so the benefits of enlarging that gap are marginal - we should be trying to close it.

But politicians can;t resist the "Smart Grid" sound bite - get them out of the way so we can get on with real solutions for real problems.

The "smart grid" is not a real thing, it is a buzzword, and primarily a way for scammers to siphon public money. It means something different to everyone you ask.

If there is a point, it is to use better communications and control systems to allow the existing transmission and distribution infrastructure to be pushed to a higher percentage of peak capacity for a greater percentage of time, thereby reducing "wasted capacity" and deferring a bigger expenditure on increased capacity. An MBA's wet dream.

Anyone who tells you such a stupid idea has no experience in the real world, where running a system flat out leads to catastrophic failure. Especially since the grid is actually in bad shape, suffering from a severe lack of maintenance and investment. Efficiency vs. resiliency.

The ultimate goal is so that we can all buy brand new EVs or PHEV, saving the economy with increased private debt and consumer spending, and of course preserving the precious car culture.

A critique of Chapter “XVII” of the new book by Hirsch, Bezdek, and Wendling.

It’s a scandal to the peak oil movement (if there is such a thing). It’s destined to be divisive. I suspect it will go a long way toward discrediting peak oilers as part of an oil company conspiracy to both raise the price of oil and destroy the planet in the process. They attempt to create doubt about AGW in order to advance their own thesis about how to best mitigate declining oil production, which may be phrased as follows: BURN EVERYTHING.

We do not know whether global warming has been or will be caused by man-made carbon dioxide emissions. However, after many years of following the literature on the subject, we are concerned by a number of troubling issues: 1) The absence of a temperature rise over that last decade; 2) Inconsistencies and inaccuracies regarding various earthly changes; 3) Potential research data manipulation and contradictions; 4) The politicization of the science; and 5) Some unprofessional and ethically questionable behaviors by both global warming analysts and special interest groups.

I regard their claim to agnosticism at the outset to be a ruse. Theirs is by no means an even-handed look at both sides of an argument. It's boilerplate denialism. It’s clear by the end of the chapter that they don’t believe in human-caused climate change:

...there is just too much that is unsettling [in climate change research] for us to believe that a scientific basis exists to justify draconian, expensive, civilization-changing measures.

What do I “believe” about this issue? Not much. It’s not something I follow. I do believe that, regardless whether or not AGW is true, human beings are incapable of implementing the mass changes that would be necessary if it were true.

Reading the chapter in question, I was struck—even shocked—by the contradictions, absurdities, and selective quoting of their critique. One need only be a critical reader, not necessarily an AGW proponent, to see that their arguments are deceptive and inconsistent—a shotgun blast of everything they can muster. They seem to think the more "arguments," the better, but there is no singular, logical line of reasoning here.

I decided to spend just a couple of hours researching some of their claims—I try to have some semblance of a life—but it didn’t take long to find that Hirsch, et al. are misleading readers in Chapter “XVII” of their book.

Global temperature rise. “Temperatures have been flat or slightly declining over the past decade.” Just look at the charts here and judge for yourself what the trend looks like. The last ten years look like a fly speck on a mountain to me. Near the top of the page it even says that 2010 has been the warmest year in 131 years. Even if we grant the authors’ claim, it doesn’t mean that the preceding 125 years of warming (coinciding neatly with the oil age) didn’t happen because of carbon emissions. Need I add that oil production and therefore consumption has been “flat or slightly declining” for six years of “the past decade”? Might this have something to do with it?

Inconsistencies and inaccuracies regarding various earthly changes. I’d rather call it “inconsistencies and inaccuracies with which Hirsch, et al. represent these various so-called inconsistencies and inaccuracies.” Just a couple: They argue on the one hand that “remarkable weather events” (Hurricane Katrina, floods, etc.) are no basis on which to decide whether human emissions are causing climate change. Point granted. Then, on page 221, one finds this:

In the 1990s when temperatures around the U.S. Seemed higher than normal, we were told that we were experiencing global warming. In the winter of 2009-2010, we experienced record-breaking snow and cold weather along the U.S. East coast and in the south. Indeed, we were told that on February 12, 2010, snow existed in every U.S. State other than Hawaii for the first time in recorded history.

Point granted. I saw it myself: I was in Washington D. C. on February 18th, walking through snow drifts that were more like what we experience here in Maine.

However, you cannot argue out of one side of your mouth that extreme weather events are not evidence of human-caused global warming, then argue out of the other side of your mouth that extreme weather events are evidence that human-caused global warming is unfounded. You shouldn’t be using extreme weather event arguments, period. Besides, according to NASA Earth Observatory:

In late January 2010, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced that the 2009 average global temperature was among the hottest observed since 1880. Looking at these maps, though, you can imagine how surprising that conclusion might have been to many residents of Mexico, the United States, central Canada, Sweden, or northern Russia. Each of those places experienced strong, sometimes deadly, cold-temperature anomalies, and in some cases, record-breaking snow this past winter.

Hirsch,et al. conveniently forget to mention that winter ended abruptly in late February. I saw that myself, too. In Maine, the snow was gone by March, and leaves were coming out in late April—unprecedented in my experience. To our shock and dismay, our apple orchard began blooming three weeks early, and we lost 95% of our crop due to a May frost. The local newspapers ignorantly reported that an unusual frost killed the apple crop, but the frost was right on time. It was the early bloom that caused the disaster.

Another inconsistency: The authors argue that data of retreating ice caps are insufficient to establish a case for global warming because “ice coverage data are only available back to the last 1970s.” Compare that to their previous argument that a mere ten years of temperature data ARE sufficient to claim that the global warming trend has stopped.

The politicization of the science. The authors lament, “the next time you see a statement regarding the so-called scientific consensus about human causation, you might question the knowledge and objectivity of the source.” They then proceed—unbelievably—to present cases for “Climategate” and the “Oregon Petititon Project”!

The [University of East Anglia’s] climate research unit director, Professor Phil Jones, was accused of manipulating data and withholding scientific information to prevent its disclosure. He subsequently relinquished his post pending the completion of an investigation.

Compare with:

The Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry reported on 31 March 2010 that it had found that “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact”. The emails and claims raised in the controversy did not challenge the scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity”. The Mps had seen no evidence to support claims that Jones had tampered with data or interfered with the peer-review process.

In July 2010, the British investigation comissioned by the UEA, chaired by Sir Muir Russell, and announced in December 2009, published its final report saying it had exonerated the scientists of manipulating their research to support preconceived ideas about global warming. The "rigour and honesty" of the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit were found not to be in doubt. The panel found that they did not subvert the peer review process to censor criticism as alleged, and that the key data needed to reproduce their findings was freely available to any "competent" researcher.
At the conclusion of the inquiry, Jones was reinstated with the newly-created post of Director of Research.

Hirsch, et al.'s sources: Right-wing blogs such as Big Government and American Thinker.

My source: Wikipedia, which cites The Seattle Times and The New York Times.


Over 31,000 technically trained skeptics of global warming signed the petition. More than 9,000 held technical PhDs. The number of signatory skeptics was estimated to be twelve times larger than the number of scientific reviewers claimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change.

The petition cover letter was prepared by Dr. Frederick Seitz, Past President, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, President Emeritus of Rockefeller University, and Nobel Prize winner in physics—not a scientific slouch.


The petition drive was begun by Dr. Frederick Seitz, now deceased, and is now led by Dr. Arthur Robinson and his son, Dr. Noah Robinson. . . .

Robinson asserts not just that his collection of 31,072 signatures on a petition has refuted the claim of “settled science” and “overwhelming consensus” among scientists with regard to global warming, but that “The very large number of petition signers demonstrates that, if there is a consensus among American scientists, it is in opposition to the human caused global warming hypothesis rather than in favor of it.” Not only has Robinson failed to substantiate either of his assertions, he is misleading the American public by implying that his petition fairly represents relevant expert opinion.


Seitz began working as a permanent consultant for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, advising their medical research program until 1988. Reynolds had previously provided "very generous" support for biomedical work at Rockefeller. Seitz later wrote that "The money was all spent on basic science, medical science," and pointed to Reynolds-funded research on mad cow disease and tuberculosis. Nonetheless, later academic studies of tobacco industry influence concluded that Seitz, who helped allocate $45m of Reynolds' research funding, "played a key role... in helping the tobacco industry produce uncertainty concerning the health impacts of smoking."

In 1984 Seitz was the founding chairman of the [conservative think tank] George C. Marshall Institute, and was its chairman until 2001. The Institute was founded to argue for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, but “in the 1990s it branched out to become one of the leading think-tanks trying to debunk the science of climate change.” ... In 1994, the Institute published a paper by Seitz titled Global warming and ozone hole controversies: A challenge to scientific judgment. Seitz questioned the view that CFCs “are the greatest threat to the ozone layer”. In the same paper, commenting on the dangers of secondary inhalation of tobacco smoke, he concluded “there is no good scientific evidence that passive inhalation is truly dangerous under normal circumstances.”

No politics there!

Hirsch, et al. quote the Oregon Petition Project.

I quote Wikipedia and Skeptic magazine. (That's "Skeptic" as in "rational discourse," not "skeptic" as in "deny everything.")

I’d had enough at this point.

It’s a dismal experience watching the credibility of peak oil advocates go up in flames. I remember when you could only get the so-called Hirsch report from a high school website. I remember reading the 90-page document twice. But like Matt Simmons, who completely lost his mind over the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and Mike Ruppert, who went ga-ga with 9/11 conspiracies, Hirsch and co. have just self-immolated.

I'll close with a quotation of theirs that should depress our friends here on TOD who frequently comment on AGW:

[W]e believe that the impending decline in world oil production will impose hardships that could be catastrophic to human well-being. To effectively mitigate the enormous oil shortage problem while also trying to reduce world carbon dioxide emissions is impossible in our judgment.

What's amazing is how the more vocal advocates (I'd suppose you would call them that I don't know what else to call them) of peak oil and its implications seem to start out strong, make sense hit one of the park (in terms of writing), and then quickly degrade. The first is Pimental and Bidzek (don't remember the last name right off the bat) was showing how futile ethanol was then went on to try and curve fit coal production which was shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong. The other one I've remembered just go 180 is Jay Hansen of War Socialism who seems to think the elite want to change the system in a positive manner to see us through the century of decline. I think we overestimate peoples rationality just because they 'Get It'. We all have irrationalities and the more we talk the more obvious they become. However, I do not forgive Hirsch for this, if he wants to say peak oil is a bigger deal fine, but as you point out (well done btw) he whistling past the graveyard on climate change being not such a BFD.

P.S. If I am wrong on what I said above in reference to the individuals mentioned then please shoot me down on it. I'm more of a 'gleaner' which isn't nearly as good as reading full sources to get info, but its easier to do.

An old Art Robinson response to petition slander

As you may know, the so-called "Oregon Petition" was pure BS. Here's a description of the events from wikipedia. It all started with a letter sent by Seitz and an article which appeared to have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, but was not. This obvious distortion back in 1997 resulted in a statement from the NAS saying:

"The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal."[15] It also said "The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy."

The whole thing was pure denialist propaganda from a Creationist oriented organization...

E. Swanson

From the above link:

"The review article sent with the petition could not possibly have been mistaken for a PNAS reprint. I have published many research papers in PNAS. I am very familiar with reprint formats.

The PNAS claim originated because Frederick Seitz - past president of the National Academy and past president of Rockefeller University signed a letter that was circulated with the petition. (Dr. Seitz, like everyone else who has actively opposed the "enviro warmers" has been smeared with many false claims.) Also, the first signers of the petition were several rather famous members of the National Academy."

Do you understand the physics which says that there is a Greenhouse Effect which warms the Earth to a higher temperature than would otherwise be the situation? If so, why do you think that increasing the concentration of the gas which causes that Greenhouse Effect will some how NOT result in a stronger Greenhouse Effect? The result is called Global Warming, or, more generally, Climate Change. You are going to experience it if you live a few more decades, like it or not...

E. Swanson

Yes, I was once a physics major before changing my career path to radiology. I have been interested in what is now called peak oil for more than 50 years. Except for having lived at sea level for 40+ years and observed a few Pacific storms and ultra high tides, I have been less interested in climate and claim no expertise. I agree with other posters on this string that it is a near certainty that China, the US and other countries will continue to burn petroleum, coal and biomass as long as it is available. I find the repeated use of holocaust metaphors and other extreme tactics distasteful. Preaching climate change over the past two decades has been an exercise in futility. Nor do I expect this to change over the next two decades except as perhaps influenced by economic collapse, the price mechanism, rationing or absolute unavailability of imported oil say from blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

Hi MikeB. I think it depends on what Hirsch means by "effectively mitigate" when he says,

"To effectively mitigate the enormous oil shortage problem while also trying to reduce world carbon dioxide emissions is impossible in our judgment."

The fact is there is not a way to "mitigate" the shortages with or without trying to reduce carbon dioxide emmissions.

The history shows there was no way to get the world to agree to reduce carbon emmissions heading into The Peak of oil production - there are too many countries with self interests to do otherwise.

The history shows there is no way to get the world to agree to reduce carbon emmissions now that we are at the peak - although the world leaders did put on a good dog-and-pony show pretending to try.

There will be no way in hell any countries will care about carbon emmissions on the Down Slope of energy scarcity - they didn't do it when we could afford it, they will certainly not do it when their populace is getting hungry and cold.

National and international "Mitigation" strategies for peak oil are a DELUSION. A Myth we still desperately cling too.

Mitigation strategies are for people with one foot left in Denial and one foot in Bargaining.

The financial collapse of industrial civilization is the last, best card we have to decrease carbon dioxide emmissions and to decrease demand for oil.

Maybe we should Thank Mother Nature our financial system is in the process of collapse.

Hello Snarlin,

re: "I think it depends on what Hirsch means by "effectively mitigate" when he says,"

Exactly so.

My recall is that Hirsch's idea is a "transition" to other LTF sources, such as coal-to-liquids.

OTOH, there is also the question of 1) "Is it possible to put into place a global industrial economy powered with an electrical-based infrastructure, powered by so-called 'renewables'?"
2) "If so, what is required?"

AFAIK, and occasionally try to bring up, there has not been any scientific approach to this question, in the sense of a "top-level" analysis.

It's also a possibility, I suppose, that using the remaining oil to achieve Part 2 (electrical-based infrastructure, with a somehow steady-state economy) - may or may not increase global warming further than it would increase otherwise. (italics needed.)

Keeping all the coal in the ground might help.

Still, there are a lot of things we could do.

I do believe that, regardless whether or not AGW is true, human beings are incapable of implementing the mass changes that would be necessary if it were true.

I agree, although I think we should all do what we can to reduce our impact. Nonetheless I think only peak oil and economic collapse have the ability to force effective limits on human's ability to screw up the climate and ecosystems. Eventually the much smaller population of people will live in very different climates, with many species missing and many invasive ones established in almost every region.

In that light, reports such as this one mean very, very little. They can only effect what changes people would chose to make, but significant change will be forced, not chosen.

I find AGW more scary than peak oil right now. Im 22 years old (young) so there is a chance i will live long enough to se the end of oil and the worst of climate change.

Well, its just another way to die, right?

I find AGW more scary than peak oil

That is a good understanding of the situation.

Once "we" start shifting back to coal to cover the oil production shortfall, "we" will be accelerating the AGW machine even faster towards the cliff.

(I put "we" in quotes cause I'm an older geezer and will probably not be witness to the dark future you are seeing for yourself. Then again, one never knows how one's fortunes may turn out. You can predict all you want, but you are not in full control of your destiny --despite what the Tooth and Tea Fairy party goers proclaim.)

huh - someone say something? Like we are all full of it?


To effectively mitigate the enormous oil shortage problem while also trying to reduce world carbon dioxide emissions is impossible in our judgment.

Either would be impossible in my judgment. Therefore I see nothing wrong with that statement. Of course what they are saying is that we should put all our energy and resources into trying to mitigate the oil shortage. Perhaps, but it will simply make no difference because there will be very little effort expended in trying to mitigate either.

That is, should we spend a pittance on trying to to mitigate the enormous oil shortage and another pittance in trying to reduce carbon emissions. Or should we instead spend two pittances in trying to mitigate the enormous oil shortage.


Ron P.

Either [peak oil mitigation, climate change mitigation] would be impossible in my judgment. Therefore I see nothing wrong with that statement.

Oh, I agree, absolutely. In fact, it's the most insightful statement in the whole chapter...

...and revealing. I think it reveals their terror at the prospects for the future.

I can't believe they wrote the chapter out of incompetence.

I can't believe they wrote it out of connivance.

I believe Hirsch, et al., are simply appalled by our prospects. I read it this way: "AGW has to be wrong, because if it isn't wrong, we are intercoursed, absolutely."

The interview with Hirsch is very interesting to read. He is clearly very concerned about peoples welfare and does feel they really will suffer when oil starts to decline. (Energy bulletin has a link). But ignoring climate change is really a question of when do people suffer? Do they suffer soon, because of peak oil, or later, when the whole State of Florida is under water? Or the midwest corn and wheat belts are devestated? It is really about how long term a view do you have.

On the other hand, I find it just as frustrating how most climate change advocates refuse to study resource depletion.

I really like Bryn Davidson's Dynamic Cities site because of the way he deals with both at the same time: http://dynamiccities.squarespace.com/

For those of you out there trying to mitigate both, I have noticed that there is quite a bit of city money available for storm water remediation which could be repurposed into preparing for lack of city water and climate change droughts.

I think a lot of people are already suffering from climate change. As that Oxfam article points out, there were a record number of disasters this year that seem climate-linked. Drought in Africa causing starvation, the floods in Pakistan, the wildfires in Russia.

I don't think it's safe to assume that peak oil will cause massive suffering before climate change does.

Mike, I appreciate your extensive analysis of the climate change portion of the Hirsch book. That said, let me offer a perspective from the viewpoint of someone not as receptive to AGW and other components of climate change theory, yet still very concerned with peak oil. My current employment is with a large consulting engineering firm. Probably 90 percent of the engineers there and elsewhere in my professional circles express at best great skepticism and at worse total derision regarding global warming. These are highly educated professionals, usually with graduate degrees in engineering or the sciences. Some consider the whole climate change movement to be a secular religion with Al Gore as the high priest. Any presentation that linked peak oil and global warming would be a non-starter.

What I appreciated about the Hirsch book was that it maintained sufficient distance from climate change to allow a broader audience to hear the peak oil issues without the left-wing agenda that often seems to get attached. The book even gives a nod to the concept of global cooling and recommends research in that regard. It is a book I can offer to a audience that is not going to make it through The Party's Over or The Long Emergency, important as each book is.

We have reached a critical decision point, here in the USA at least, that finds us politically polarized and financially bankrupt. In that environment we have to find agreement to invest in passenger rail, in new urbanism and sustainable development, in localized food sources, while at the same time telling people that the party really is over and that we are entering an emergency period that will not end in our lifetimes. We cannot address two known crises, our financial condition and our energy dilemma, while also fully committing to an issue that still has major unknown elements. That may not be what my friends on the left want to hear, but in listening to both sides that is the reality that we as a society share.

Speaking as a "highly educated engineer with graduate degree" I would have to say that anyone in that catagory who looks into the AGW science and into the skeptical utterances either sees global climate change as a real potential threat or has a really bad cultural bias whic nullifies his education when that subject comes up. The left-right aspects of it amaze me until I accept that there is apparently a left-right issue with evolution. What does that tell you?

Also a model that encompasses both oil depletion and CO2 concentration growth will convince even the skeptical

You really can't have one without the other. That's what people seem to miss and Hirsch really missed it by a mile.

Yes. I would guess Tobacco's experience is because he lives in a "red" state. I'm an engineer, too, and don't think I've ever met an engineer who denied AGW. A lot of them don't have strong feelings about it - being engineers, they think they'll be able to fix it - but they don't deny the science.

The left-right aspects of it amaze me

[that "highly educated engineers with graduate degrees" look into the AGW science and into the skeptical utterances and either see global climate change (AGW) as a real potential threat or has a really bad/insane cultural bias]

"Highly educated engineers" are people.

All people have an irrational cranial organ (the brain) that was fashioned by the unintelligent design of Mother Nature and further molded by the unintelligent forces of surrounding culture.

Your AGW-denying engineers have a certain set of worldview models running in their heads.

AGW theory threatens the survival/continuance of those models.
This is why it must be denied --at all costs.

Same thing with Peak Oil.
Your PO-denying engineers have a certain set of worldview models running in their heads whose survival/continuance would be threatened by PO theory. This is why it too must be denied --at all costs.

Cutting carbon and becoming less dependent upon oil and other fossil fuels are perfectly compatible. Stipulating that 90 per cent of the engineers where you work are skeptical and express derision does not mean that there is any validity whatsoever in their views. I know engineers who believe in creationism. So an engineering degree does not necessarily result in an objective understanding of evolution or climate science.

Warming is measurable and is measured. Dispensing of Al Gore and others who believe in AGW by implying they are part of some sort of religious cult is a cop out. Challenge the science head on. Simply alleging that this is some sort of religious movement is an intellectually lazy cop out.

An engineering degree does not necessarily result in an objective understanding of evolution or climate science [or anything else]



You've seen through the fog of brainwash war.

Degree =! Wisdom

GW Bush had a degree from Harvard (and from Yale).

Shouldn't that be enough to falsify the hypothesis that having a degree means you understand something? (anything?)

My favourite example in my field is Dr. Behe, an accomplished biochemist and well published. It's too bad he doesn't believe in evolution and invented the irreducible complexity fallacy. Ph.D. at the end of the name and stupidity/bias are not mutually exclusive.

Challenge the science head on.

Very succinctly put! This is exactly what Hirsch, et al., fail to do. They don't say a thing about data. It's all about petitions, emails, politics, etc.

[L]et me offer perspective from someone not as receptive to AGW and other components of climate change theory, [&] yet still very concerned with peak oil.

Probably 90 percent of the engineers [at large consulting engineering firm where I work] and [even] elsewhere in my professional circles express at best great skepticism and at worse total derision regarding global warming [AGW]. These are highly educated professionals, usually with graduate degrees in engineering or the sciences.

Some consider the whole climate change movement to be a secular religion


Allow me to offer perspective from someone who works in the dark art of persuasion.

The above boils down to the rhetorical technique known as Appeal to Authority.
It is logically unsupportable and yet very effective.

Another rhetorical technique is Insertion of FUD factor (fear, uncertainty and doubt).
It too is logically unsupportable and yet very effective.

If you look hard enough, you might spot some FUDdy duddy stuff going on even in the midst of our own supposedly logical discussions.

Any presentation that links peak oil and global warming would be a non-starter.

These are highly educated professionals, usually with graduate degrees in engineering or the sciences.

p.s. I too work with these people.

Let me add to your observation that not only do they reject AGW immediately and without further consideration, but most also reject Peak Oil theory on the same basis.

That's why I keep my mouth shut at work.
I need to hold onto my day job.

That's why I keep my mouth shut at work.
I need to hold onto my day job.

You are not the only one!

Some consider the whole climate change movement to be a secular religion with Al Gore as the high priest.

Comments like this really turn me off. It's very revealing of the ignorance of people who utter it.

What if someone said:

Some consider the whole peak oil thing to be a secular apocalyptic movement with Matt Simmons as the high prophet.

I have no love for Al Gore. In fact, after the passive way he let GWB screw him after that election debacle, I sorta loathe him.

AGW was around long before AG came on the scene, and it will be around a long time after.

On another note, you say:

We cannot address two known crises, our financial condition and our energy dilemma, while also fully committing to an issue that still has major unknown elements.

This is implying that our "financial condition" and "energy dilemma" do NOT have any "major unknown elements."


I don't think we're really going to do anything about climate change, peak oil or no peak oil.

But we should still be very concerned about the effects of climate change. I was watching that History Channel documentary about our failing infrastructure the other day, and it mentioned that the biggest concern among engineers as far as infrastructure goes is climate change. Rising sea levels, more frequent flooding, droughts, etc. - it will have a huge impact on infrastructure not built to withstand it.

Should we build railways along coasts that might be inundated? Water-guzzling ethanol plants in areas that are likely to suffer severe drought?

The drought in the plains/southwest a few years ago was a taste of the effects climate change can have on infrastructure. Power plants were left high and dry, their intake pipes above the water line. Coal barges couldn't pass through waterways, because the water level was too low.

The financial situation only makes it worse, because we may not be able to afford to fix things if we get it wrong.

If we're going nuclear, floating plants would be the best bet. Good luck building them on the coast or near rivers when one is rising, the other is depleting.

Good thing we've got a lot of experience building floating nuclear plants.

Not sure if that is a tongue in cheek comment or not, but we DO have a lot of experience building floating nuclear plants - it's just that most of them have a huge deck of aircraft sitting on top, or are in tube shaped ships designed to "sink"

The Navy have been building them for decades, and they have an outstanding operation record. It would not be very difficult to optimise them purely for electricity production instead of ship propulsion.

Yep. The US has built more floating nuclear reactors than landbound ones.

GE and Westinghouse in particular have quite a stable of designs to choose from, suitable for mass production.

I don't think we're really going to do anything about climate change, peak oil or no peak oil.

How I wish Hirsch, et al., had had the cojones to say just that! All their circumambulating around the specious, denialist camp just makes the situation WORSE.

Yeah. I could see simply ignoring the climate change issue, if you want to reach those who would otherwise dismiss you. But to actually jump on board with the camp who thinks Phil Jones is masterminding a huge global conspiracy in order to secure more funding...oy. That alienates a whole lot more people.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that peak oil will never be accepted by the mainstream. Partly because the price drop since $150/barrel has "discredited" the theory, partly because we don't have a spokesman even as respectable as Al Gore. Now that Matt Simmons has passed away, it looks like the public face of peak oil is going to be Mike Ruppert.

If oil depletion is widely accepted by the mainstream, it will be under a name other than "peak oil."

I do think that if "the public face of peak oil is going to be Mike Ruppert", then, "peak oil will never be accepted by the mainstream."

Fortunately I don't think the first condition will be met and the second won't occur.

Peak oil* is a lot closer to being accepted by the public and it has many faces.

* Depending on what exactly you mean by this, of course.

I have to wonder though, Jack, if the public (or the media) will make the distinction between proximate causes and ultimate cause.

For example, under constrained oil production conditions, the slightest disruption can wreak havoc on the markets--some event in the Strait of Hormuz, say--and so that disruption will catch all the blame, become the "reason" for the shortage/high prices.

Or that charming catch-all, "lack of investment." "We wouldn't have this decline if it weren't for a lack of investment in X."

Or oil that is "kept off-limits." "We wouldn't have this shortage if environmentalists hadn't kept all that oil in X off-limits."

And so it goes.

"I'm becoming more and more convinced that peak oil will never be accepted by the mainstream."

Atlas shrugged. He knew Peak Oil had a marvelous shrink, & didn't care if (s)he was accepted or not.

Just as an $11 price is too high to persist, today's current market prices of about $3.75 are too low for the industry to thrive and maintain strong natural gas production in the long term, said Nichols, who stepped down this year from his longtime position as CEO of Oklahoma City-based Devon, the leading producer in North Texas' gas-rich Barnett Shale.

Even in the face of low gas prices, domestic energy producers have continued to do substantial drilling, particularly in major unconventional gas plays such as the Barnett, the Eagle Ford Shale in South and Central Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and East Texas, and the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian region.

Bakers Hughes has a neat Excel file that shows drilling rig count by major US oil and gas producing regions. Key Basins Drill Count

And it is worth checking out the latest EIA marketed natural gas production estimates. Texas looks to have peaked and the rig count is still far below what was needed to grow production. Is this the peak of Barnett?
EIA Texas Marketed Natural Gas Production Page

And one last item for those addicted to following natural gas developments: Here is a map showing the estimated cost to produce natural gas (with a positive investment return) in Canada's major gas producing regions. As Rockman is fond to say, "the gas is there but at what price?" And you can think of this as a map of future gas prices, in that as price falls below costs, eventually supply drops until production is profitable again. (I wish I could find a similar map here in the US. EIA? Are you listening?)

NEB Canadian Natural Gas Costs

 Average 2007 Supply Costs by Region

Thanks for the links. I like the one on gas production numbers. It definitely looks like Texas gas production has peaked for now, but total US is still holding on if I did it right. I do wonder when the companies will cry uncle and quit drilling with the gas prices holding down below $4/mcf.

It is also interesting to look at the rig count for oil wells. That count has risen by 476 rigs (or over 2.5 times)since its low point in June of 2009. Almost half of this increase in in the Permian Basin, although you never hear much about it. I looked at the EIA data on oil production and found that production in Texas has been flat to slightly rising since 2005. It just shows that once production drops off far enough that you can keep up with decline by drilling a bunch of crappy wells. I guess this is what Mexico is trying to do with their Chicontepec field.

Yes, other shale areas still seem to be building. I am guessing that the gas producers thought that supply would fall faster than it has. Drilling "fell off a cliff" and has only slowly rebuilt to about half of former levels. But marketed gas production is flat (at least according to the EIA surveys). I am guessing that if the economy turns down again, rig counts will follow.

jim - I don't have the data base to back it up but I would guess that most of the uptick in W Texas drilling is from infield drilling of some very old field. There's always a few more places to drill marginal wells when prices get high enough. I suspect that many of these new wells are barely above stripper level which is why you're not see a big upswing in statewide oil production. The public may have began thinking $75 oil is the new normal but not in the oil patch: it's a boom time price and folks are drilling every oil prospect they've kept in the back of the file cabinet just waiting for these high priced days to come along.

News from the front...

Desperate timeshare owners falling for scams

It’s not easy to resell a timeshare. The market is weak, and the number of available units is staggering.

“If you’re lucky you may be able to get 10 cents on the dollar trying to sell it in the resale market,” says Ed Perkins, contributing editor at SmarterTravel.com.

Real estate agents won't touch them, so people are all too willing to fork over "closing costs" when scammers call them up and say they have a buyer.

Midnight grocery runs part of the grim new reality

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Once a month, just after midnight, the beeping checkout scanners at a Walmart just off Interstate 95 come alive in a chorus of financial desperation.

Here and at grocery stores across the country, the chimes come just after food stamps and other monthly government benefits drop into the accounts of shoppers who have been rationing things like milk, ground beef and toilet paper and can finally stock up again.

"The same night, Shavon Smith and her four young children were loading up on meat, fruit, bread, water, tissues and cereal at Kroger's Food 4 Less store on Chicago's West Side. Those staples had begun running out more than a week earlier.
"Tonight, they were tired and hungry, so I said, 'Let's go ahead and do it now,'" said Smith, who had $600 in food stamps electronically deposited to her electronic debit card at midnight."

First of all -- 4 yes 4 children.

I cannot afford 2 children right now!

I think I spend less per month myself on groceries for my family of 4. Does that mean that I am living at the poverty level? This is a tough article to read. This oil problem is beginning to consume us all.

Why were they loading up on water? Is there something wrong with Chicago's water? And no veggies. But I guess that is typical American fare.

Yes, I bet the diet is not appropriate at all. Fresh fruits and veggies are much cheaper than pre-cooked meals and processed foods that is when you do not waste food.

Indeed you need to slice, bake, cut, chop, and actually cook, but alas that is the human experience right -- to enjoy real fresh food.

Corn, peas, carrots and other vegetables that are frozen in large bags are high in nutritional quality, easy to prepare, and less expensive than fresh during most of the year. At $135 / month most of the calories should come from potatos, rice, beans, pasta, starchy vegetables like corn and squash, etc. -- not from candy, soft drinks, cookies, crackers, white bread, pastries. Stay out of the middle aisles.

I was about to jump in on the same point. Fresh fruits and vegetables are NOT cheap. Trying to live solely out of the produce section would be extremely expensive most of the year. That is why I have a garden. $1.79 for a small head of lettuce is a bit much. $2.49 a pound for a tomato, and the hamburger is $1.79 skews the price of your cookout quite a bit.

On the other hand, if the water in Chicago tastes bad, and it probably does, a filter is much less expensive than buying the bottled stuff.

Waukegan water is fine. Indeed, good.

What about the pipes?

I'm not a bottled water person, but when I worked in NYC, we were told not the drink the water in the office. (They provided water coolers instead.) The water was fine. The problem was the creaky old pipes. They were leaching something into the water. (Can't remember exactly what it was. Lead, maybe.)

Fresh fruits and veggies are much cheaper than pre-cooked meals and processed foods that is when you do not waste food.

That statement is true if they have access to refrigeration or are able to purchase food frequently before it spoils.

Just because it's not mentioned in the article doesn't mean they didn't buy it.

And maybe they buy vegetables at the local farmer's market instead, or have a garden?

For 200 calories, the peanut brittle is $0.17 and the broccoli is $1.93. An average food stamp recipient receives $135/month -- they would starve to death on fresh vegetables.

What Does 200 Calories Cost? The Economics of Obesity

In this morning's NYT...

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought federal permission on Wednesday to bar New York City’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought federal permission on Wednesday to bar New York City’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks.

There has to be more of this, however clumsy it might be.

They should also change that large monthly drop, to more frequent.

There have been other benefit payment instances, that have been moved from fewer larger payments, as they found the budgeting skills were poor, and wastage is more common.

I'm surprised they don't do that. (Switch to weekly payments.) When they had to mail out checks or booklets of food stamps, there was a reason to do it monthly, but if it's just electronic, it probably wouldn't cost any more to do smaller, more frequent payments.

I think that the folks on food stamps have it tough enough; do they really need us barring them from having a Coke? (or perhaps an RC would be more frugal).

Yes, they do have it tough.. and yes, they need to hear about what is food and what is 'recreation'.. they want it, they can use their own money.

I totally support restricting foodstamps to avoid many pseudo-foods.. but that would be a helluva a game to create.

I wonder if it could be 'tiered', so you get 50% off on junk food, and full coverage for the healthiest foods. CoPays?

Just doing and publishing the analysis on what is food and what is not would be hugely helpful, if it could be done accurately.

The problem is that the corn, milk, beef and other industries have more lobbying power than broccoli does.

Nobody is barring them from buying soda. It's that the government won't buy it for them under a food allowance.

Food stamps already have limitations. You can buy beer, lottery tickets, cigarettes, etc.

Soda is not food. Using government funds to buy subsidized corn syrup mixed in water instead of food for poor people is madness.

But you will die if you only eat sugar alas! There are all kinds of nutritional deficiencies without vitamins and minerals!

The comparison of fat/sugar to fresh produce is kind of silly, eh?

1 potato is more nutritious than peanut brittle and a lot cheaper than broccoli.

I bet the broccoli doesnt break the bank in the long run, i.e. factoring in healthcare costs and so forth.

Broccoli is good though. I need to get me some right now.

The cereal is a waste. Oat meal is much cheaper than processed cereal --like 3-4 fold.

As I said elsewhere, it is the skills at cooking that play a lot into this puzzle.

I don't think that soft drinks should be bought by food stamps, but just taking them away as a blanket will be bad, I like Jokuhl's co-pay idea, that would wean them off the things a lot more.

But teaching people to budget the foods they do buy, teaching them how to buy best deals and more for longer term use, frozen or canned or bits of this and bits of that to combine into soups and sauces and things like that is needed.

They did say in the article on the food where people were shopping for the best price ahead of time, to make the food stamps last longer, it is not a homogenous group of people we are talking about and we only got the reporter's fluff people on the list of the information given.

Charles, BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, with lots of hands on helping people learn the better ways of living.

A 135 a Month?! Wow, I better not ever have to go that route because that's not even close to enough. Try 400 a month for a few t-bones or NY's, a few chickens, lots of fruit and vegetables, milk, bread, sushi, beer, etc. etc. 135? Forget it.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with Chicago's water. The list mentioned is pretty typical of average US shopping patterns.

A shopper with 4 kids in southern Africa would have purchased the following :-

Oatmeal (unprocessed)
Flour / corn meal
Cooking oil
Coffee or Tea
Dry beans, peas or lentils
Soup bones or a cheap cut of meat for stewing
Some fresh produce - fruit or vegetables
Toilet rolls
Probably some kind of canned jam or jelly, possibly peanut butter, and a couple of sticks of gum for the kids.

$600 would buy an awful lot of the above.

Edit : advanced cooking skills not required. Ability to boil water a definite prerequisite.

I told my dad the same thing, What are they doing buying water. But then again I know a lady who buys sodas on food stamps and I can't convince her that she could just drink water and get a better deal out of it, I even bought her water so she'd not have to deal with a sink's tap in keeping the bottles filled up. Sighs.

There are just too many people that do not know how to eat food and too many people that have this mindset that the microwave is a cooking device to force feed us off of the old TV dinners made new in all the boxes in the freezer Isle.

Mom's working, Dad's working, no one knows how to boil water, nor do they have the time to think about feeding themselves, so going out to eat is easier, or getting boxed food stuffs popped in and eaten with the new fangled cardboard taste taken out with heavy use of spices and oils and salts.

I have cooked fresh foods so long that I can't think about not cooking them to easily, I have baked bread, designed my own bread recipes, designed my own meals and recipes from ideas of other recipes, or just tastes that I wanted to taste and designed them from an idea of the food before I even sat down to find the ingredients.

But my dad was a trained Chef before I was born and cooking was something I was doing from early on, even though for a while my mom was the cook in the family for dinners, on weekends my dad took over. Now my dad does most of the meals around a bit of help from me, I do cook my own foods a lot as I have a far different set of taste bud likes than he does. But this is all an issue that has to be taught to people again.

They have had to many years and generations where they have been disconnected to the family food diets, too many single parent or divorced homes in the past created this issue, we are suffering from it because the food industry has been pushing boxed food for so long that people think that is what food is now. And real food in the kitchen was only for the Rich folks.

Foodies is the new term for people who like food and are willing to go out of their way to get good foods, though even there, they do still eat badly in some cases.

Fresh food, grown in your own yard or window sill is where you can help teach people how to taste fresh foods, even if you can only grow a bit of it, hand fulls of fresh herbs light up people's eyes once you have served them something with them, or can help them start growing some themselves, or if not then you give them sample bags every few weeks. I do that with people I know that cook and don't have the time or the skills to grow the herbs themselves.

Once I had over 100 spices in my spice collection, it is now filled with mixtures and infusions in oil, vinegar, wine, or alcohol. But you can't say that to the average single mom barely getting by who might or might not of had a mother or grandmother who taught them to cook, they might have family that did, but they don't themselves, and it is not just the poor with a lot of kids that think this way.

Cooking classes should be taught in schools in grade schools so that kids get the idea that food is not a box they open everyday, this will help them in the long run and teach them chemistry, and food science that can be tied into math skills and engineering skills in later years of school.

BioWebScape designs, where food and housing is taught to the people that want a better life in their world.

Yeah, wow, I was thinking the same thing! Many people in the article had five or four children.....I don`t think in my family we could afford to feed that many kids. In fact I never see anyone with that many kids here in Japan. It`s an impossibility. The high cost of food here would push the whole family into starvation even if both parents were working full time.

Wow... I'm a food snob, so i wouldn't understand :) I spent $40 today just buying some bread, meat, and ice cream (organic/grass fed/coconut).

You can keep your corn syrup peanut brittle, i'll take the broccoli. My son and i just finished off a pound of frozen broccoli tonite, 3 yrs old and loves brussel sprouts, broccoli, smoked salmon... If you start a kid right, they won't want crap. My wife (devil woman) gave him a sip of pop (its not allowed in the house) and he didn't like it...made a weird face. She once brought some hard candy home and i threw it out the front door (true story). She calls me a food Nazi.

My sister-in-law bought a timeshare in Florida. She bought the thing on eBay for the princely sum of 1$.

At that price, it was hard to see a lot of downside. Even if it was a total scam, all you would be out is 1$, and if she gets tired of it, she figures she could probably sell it again on eBay for 1$ and be done with it.

There is something like a 500$/year fee for the thing.

That's the part that gets most people - the maintenance fees. And you have no guarantee they won't keep going up. If you use the property every year, it's one thing. If not, it's a waste of money.

And then, there are the membership fees to belong to one of the "swap" banks where you can trade for another location.

Mexico doesn't deed timeshares - people are just stopping payment on the maintenance fees.

ericy - probably depends on the state she's in and the law. Many years ago a friend was given a time share. didn't even cost 41. And then a little over a year later got an assesment for $3500 because they had to replace the roof of the entire complex. Friend said to hell with that...they can sue me. So the association did and got the $3500 + court costs. And that was in addition to the fees my friend paid her attorney. Took almost 4 years but they got their money. And she spent a total of 2 nights there. Your friend needs to keep an eye out for such future costs.