Drumbeat: October 24, 2010

Is the 'bidding game' on for oil reserves estimates?

The "bidding game" seems on. First Iraq, then Iran and now Kuwait — the trend is catching up.

Iraq apparently made the first move. Earlier the month, Baghdad announced it is raising figures of its proven oil reserves by a quarter — from 110 billion barrels to 143 billion barrels, surpassing Iran and putting it behind only Saudi Arabia in terms of conventional crude, and third after Venezuela if unconventional reserves are counted.

A new era faces OPEC

A few dozen dedicated followers heeded Saudi Arabia's call to attend a Golden Jubilee celebration for OPEC in the marble-clad hall of the InterContinental Hotel in Riyadh - but even they appeared to be more absorbed by their BlackBerrys than what was being said.

The kingdom's minister of petroleum pronounced that oil would keep its grip on the world economy "whether we like it or not" for another 30 to 50 years but the sparse audience seemed to say otherwise.

"I think the oil era is probably over," says Ivan Sandrea, the vice president of exploration and production strategy for the Norwegian state oil company Statoil. "Oil is still very important but the world is growing based on other things."

OPEC's continued success will be fine balancing act

Ali al Naimi, the minister of petroleum for Saudi Arabia, is one of the driving forces inside OPEC. Here he talks about the challenges facing OPEC, how Saudi Arabia manages its oil reserves and what he considers is a fair price for crude.

Centrica set to shelve gas storage plans unless government helps

Centrica has effectively shelved its £1.5bn plan to build two gas storage facilities in the North Sea and Irish Sea unless the Government finds a way to subsidise the proposal.

The energy company would have increased Britain's storage capacity by a third, with the proposed Baird project containing 1.7bn cubic metres of gas and the smaller Bains project in the east Irish Sea holding 570m cubic metres.

However, sources described the economic climate as "extremely challenging".

World shrugs off Chavez's power plans, as should he

The chances of Venezuela becoming an effective member of the nuclear club are slim, but the country's people should ensure for their own future safety that it ends at talk.

Pirates seize Greek tanker off Kenya

ATHENS (AFP) – A Greek-owned tanker with a German skipper and a crew of 16 has been seized by pirates off the coast of Kenya, officials said on Sunday.

The Singapore-flagged vessel York, a 5,076-tonne tanker en route for the Seychelles, is carrying 17 crew, including a German master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos, European naval forces in Brussels said in a statement.

Crude Oil Prices Are Going Higher! Here’s Why

Global crude oil production has leveled off at 74 million barrels per day. However, now that economies are recovering, consumption levels are back on the rise and the result will be an inevitable rise in oil prices.

Peak oil to end suburban life?

Jim Roth, a former Oklahoma Corporation Commission and NEPI officer, noted that some aspects of the 6-year-old "End of Suburbia," were out of date, such as the film's contention that natural gas production and reserves were on the decline. Directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have added decades and maybe centuries to reserves, federal data shows.

Yet Roth pointed out that for all of Oklahoma's continued status as an oil state, overall production peaked in the 1920s. He also added that gasoline taxes can't help planners and agencies keep up with infrastructure needs, such as roads.

New Clear Energy

Humanity is on a collision course with reality, and the window of time in which to act is rapidly closing. This isn't a product of "dismal science" or political posturing, but merely a reflection of the hole we have steadily dug for ourselves over the past two centuries. If we don't make wholesale changes immediately, irreversible thresholds will be crossed and our very existence will be a tenuous prospect at best. And the alarm bell rings out with one key word: energy.

Develop a comprehensive energy plan that addresses a range of issues

Vermont’s next governor will face unprecedented challenges, not least of which is the immediate need for a coherent plan to meet the state’s energy needs.

France's Sarkozy approval at record low

(AP:PARIS) French President Nicolas Sarkozy's approval rating has fallen to its lowest level yet amid protests over the conservative leader's proposed pension reform that have led to gas shortages and travel chaos and closed schools nationwide, a poll suggested Sunday.

Marcellus Shale top issue for Onorato, Corbett in gubernatorial race

The Marcellus Shale industry and how it will impact Northeastern Pennsylvania and the entire state is an issue on the minds of voters and the two gubernatorial candidates, who each have received donations from the drilling companies.

According to Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970, from June to September, the natural gas drilling industry dramatically increased its campaign contributions to the state’s two major candidates.

'Invest $1b in Iran gas field'

TEHERAN - VENEZUELA'S state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA plans to invest US$780 million (S$1 billion) in a project in Iran's South Pars gas field, an Iranian official said on Sunday.

Tropical storm Richard nears hurricane strength, soaks Honduras

Richard is likely to plow through Belize and the Yucatán Peninsula before emerging into the Bay of Campeche as a tropical depression on Tuesday according to the Miami based National Hurricane Center. Some computer module forecasts have Richard affecting Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas rigs.

So much for the oil spill's impact

Not only did that giant horrible plume of oil seem to disperse in the Gulf, it disappeared from politics.

Discolored water near La. may be oil from BP spill

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard said Saturday that an area of discolored water near a Mississippi River pass south of New Orleans appears to be an algae bloom, but another spot 10 miles away could be oil.

Jeff Hall, spokesman for the Unified Area Command, said tests could determine if the suspected oil is from the BP spill.

Global Warming Doubts Dissolve in Britain, But Americans Still Skeptical

The considerable level of uncertainty that Britons expressed earlier this year towards global warming has subsided, as more people in the country regard climate change as a fact, a new three-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of representative national samples also shows that Canadians continue to lead the way in the belief that global warming is caused by emissions, while Americans remain particularly doubtful.

Overall, three-in-five Canadians (60%, +2 since April) say that that global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities. This month, 47 per cent of Britons agree with this assessment, up nine points in six months. Americans are the most skeptical at 42 per cent (+1).

In 2008, implicit fuel subsidies relative to GDP are estimated to have amounted to 15 per cent in Iraq, 12 per cent in Iran and Yemen, 7-8 percent in Kuwait and the UAE, 4-5 per cent in Libya and Qatar, and 3.5 per cent in Oman ...

The IMF is advocating a phase out of these subsidies. Two modest price rises this year in the UAE have added 1.5% to the inflation rate.

I found it interesting that Saudi Arabia was not mentioned, as they plan to go from 450,000 b/day of oil burned for electricity to 1.5 million b/day.


Not much hope for limiting the Export Land Model effects,


"As oil supplies decline, Saudi Arabia’s own electricity is becoming expensive. By one estimate, it’s as much as 25 cents a kilowatt-hour, at wholesale. Saudi Arabia gets all of its electricity from the oil field. Flared gas provides 45%, heavy fuel oil provides 13%, diesel; 22% and crude provides the remaining 20%. So as oil prices rise, its domestic desalination and electricity costs rise too.

But the kingdom has solar insolation that is the envy of the world. So the Governor of the state power company ECRA (Saudi Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority) is hoping to get state approval for incentives to help solar begin to power some of the kingdom’s 50,000 megawatt electricity needs, according to ArabNews."


Here's a story that I dont think has been on TOD, a straw in the wind for US agriculture?


A line at the bottom of the article caught my attention :-

"this retooling of the American beef and dairy industry" - like replacing parts in a factory. Never mind that it is real live animals we are talking about.

I think this is really where we need a fundamental attitude shift - we can't treat the entire planet as if it was no more than a production input.

Actually this is a move in the right direction insofar as treating the planet is onccerned-although some would argue that we shouldn't be eating beef at all of course.

But so long as we are going to eat it, grass fed beef is better for you and somewhat easier on the environment.

It should also be noted that some land is well suited to reasonably sustainable grass fed beef production but not very useful for other kinds of farming.

I agree that, on balance, grass-fed is better. But with words like "finishing off" - in other words, can one feed them corn their entire lives, then turn them loose for a week to feed on grass and then label them "grass-fed" ?
Sounds like more green-washing to me. The usual spin at work.

I believe it's the reverse: feed them on grass for most of their lives, then "finish" for a relatively short time with corn.

Which is too bad, as all the good stuff (omega-3's etc ) dissappears within three months of eating corn;

details here;

Better to feed corn as supplement (10-20%) while they are grazing, rather than going cold turkey from grass to corn.

I'm sure the cows can handle that shift better than we can, but I'm equally sure a balanced diet along the way is better.

I think the purpose of finishing with corn is to massively raise fat levels, so a modest supplementation during the animal's life wouldn't really do it.

I think the only solution is to replace corn with something with a better fat content, or not finish at all.

RE: Pirates seized Greek tanker...

Here is another quote from that article below. Is this the first LPG tanker seized?

The Greek coastguard said the ship carries 150 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Here is a quote from wikipedia:

If a container bursts, the LPG first spreads out as a supercooled liquid. This freezes anything within range. Then it boils into the atmosphere and become an oxygen-displacing gas, which asphyxiates any creatures in the affected radius. This gas spreads out to cover several hundred times more area than the liquid from which it comes. A single, large container of LPG can cause oxygen displacement of many square miles. Eventually, this gas is diluted by the atmosphere, becoming a flammable mixture. If a source of ignition is encountered, a fireball of many square miles may consume everything in the area.

gog - If you didn't already know as many others here do, the most powerful non-nuclear weapon is designed along the same line. It's the fuel-air bomb. Essentially a giant cylinder of NG that is so big it has to be dropped out the back of a very large cargo plane. Falling by parachute, it jets the NG out very close to the ground and then ignites the NG/air mix.

Fuel/Air Explosive Bomb:


We were having an inspection done on a house we had under contract, and I was chatting with one of the neighbors. I asked about natural gas, since the description only mentioned electrical heat, and I had noticed that the house had a gas stove. The neighbor said they she didn't think that they had natural gas line. I responded to her that they must have a gas line since the stove worked and since there was no propane tank outside the house--I jokingly added, "unless there was one under the house" (which had a pier and beam foundation; my premise being that only someone with suicidal intentions would put a propane tank under a house) .

I had our realtor call the owner and ask about the natural gas supply. He said that there was in fact a large propane tank underneath the house. The inspector and I looked at each other and I suspect that we were both as white as sheets; I know he looked ready to get the hell out of Dodge.

Actually, NG isn't as good a choice for a thermobaric bomb as LP, since it can't be liquified at room temp. Besides, if you're made out of money like the US military, you've moved on by now to fuels like ethylene oxide with suspended metallic nanoparticles, such as fluoridated aluminum. Leave the NGL-based FAE's to the basement bombers, like the ones who flattened the Beirut marine barracks, or the 1993 WTC bombers.

Of course, the technical problem of getting reasonable yield from such a weapon in open air is non-trivial. In round figures, LPG vapor is flammable at concentrations between about 2% and 10% when mixed with air. In the hypothetical cloud spreading from a large point source like a ship, when an edge of the cloud encounters an ignition source, some of the outer edge of the cloud will have fallen below 2% concentration, and much of the interior will be above 10%. It seems highly unlikely Wikipedia's fireball covering "many square miles" will actually occur.

150 metric tons of LPG is about 300 cubic meters. The San Juanico disaster outside Mexico City involved about 11,000 cubic meters. The large explosions that occurred there were BLEVEs rather than fuel-air events. Analyses of the 2009 Viareggio, Italy, train derailment LPG disaster suggests that the only fuel-air explosions that occurred did so when LPG entered nearby houses slowly, eventually reaching the necessary concentrations and igniting, but that there were no fuel-air explosions in the open.

How can it be cost effective to move such a modest quantity of LPG several thousand miles? Even equating its value with that of oil, it can't be worh uhhh.... 300m^3 = 2000 barrels = $150,000. Reality, probably much less.

I wonder what a real LNG ship would do if the tanks failed. AT 150,000+ m^3, there would be some serious potential for disaster.
The wiki aticle on San Jaunico is rather chilling. No pun intended.

Back in my younger days we'd dump a couple litres of liquid nitrogen in the hallways. It would boil for quite some distance....maybe 50 feet with a good toss. I'm reminded of another cryo-expereience....I removed a liq. N2 dewar from the trap from one of the pumps. It was full of what had to be liquid oxygen. I've always wondered what would have happended if the pure oxygen (assumed) had been sucked into the hot oil of the pump....

Did you notice how the wave of liquid nitrogen swept the floor clean of debris ahead of it?
Put some LN2 in a soda can... maybe 1/4 full. The stuff that starts dripping off the can is liquid oxygen.
Mix, to taste, whipping-cream and canned (say,Betty Crocker) chocolate frosting in a big bowl. Add LN2 and stir... it's liquid, It's slush, It's nearly solid, it's ice cream! The frosting is chock-full of emulsifiers which keeps ice-crystals from forming.

yeah..we cleaned out the corners in the laser lab with l-N2. I wish I could get a few gallons for my garage now. Grad school was great fun. Limitless resources, beer,a little creativity, and good judgement largely kept in check.

As long as we're OT...my 5 yo has a book about Apollo-13. I was trying to explain to him what went wrong, and to the family about how cool it was to see the moon shots live so many years ago, and how cool science and engineering are. Right, dear.

I agree that mixing of fuel and air is a non-trivial impediment to widespread damage; however, both past experience (see below) and recent experience (the San Bruno natural gas explosion) shows that it can happen.

Here's a link to a railroad accident that occurred in 1959 - a derailment of a freight train in Meldrim, Georgia (US), on a rail trestle across the Ogeechee River. A propane tanker car that fell off the trestle was pierced by the coupling of the car behind it. Note the extent of the damage:

The gas was ignited from an unknown source which produced a flash fire extending over the surrounding area for a distance of 500 feet east and about 525 feet west of the east end of the trestle and about 400 feet north of the track.

My father worked for that railroad at the time. He had pictures from the scene of the accident - one in particular struck me - a 1940's Ford sedan, with the windshield totally melted, laying like a frozen waterfall across the dashboard.

The extent of the fire resulting from a large release of lng would probably have a great deal to do with the wind if any prevailing at the time of the accident.A fairly strong steady wind could probably spread such a fire over a very large area.The cold dense gas gas cloud could be pushed along on the ground, igniting along the way on its edges as the onentration falls into the combustible range.

A competent terrorist would probably try to take advantage of this possibility if he could manage to do so.

A fire is one thing, but a fual air detonation is a totally different animal. The later is pretty hard to set up, the terrorist attempts to date have been utter failures. But having a large fire with embedded flashovers can be pretty damaging, but flashovers should not be confused with true detonation, which can generate very large pressures.

Most honorable Rockman
Perhaps you are viewing the "Daisy Cutter" BLU-82 Aluminized ANFO munition being pushed out the back of a cargo plane:

This article includes a picture of the tanker:

In this undated photo released Sunday Oct. 24, 2010, by Interunity Management Corporation SA, (IMC) showing the MV York merchant vessel which was boarded by suspected Somali pirates approximately 90 nautical miles from Mombasa, Kenya, on Saturday Oct. 23, 2010. A distress signal from the vessel was received Saturday as the York sailed between Mombasa and Mahe, Seychelles, with 17 crew aboard, and is now believed to be headed towards Somalia under the control of pirates.


Here is a quote from wikipedia:

If a container bursts, the LPG first spreads out as a supercooled liquid. This freezes anything within range. Then it boils into the atmosphere and become an oxygen-displacing gas, which asphyxiates any creatures in the affected radius. This gas spreads out to cover several hundred times more area than the liquid from which it comes. A single, large container of LPG can cause oxygen displacement of many square miles. Eventually, this gas is diluted by the atmosphere, becoming a flammable mixture. If a source of ignition is encountered, a fireball of many square miles may consume everything in the area.

Sigh. Yet another piece of misinformation on Wikipedia that I might have to correct. The blather about freezing anything within range and asphyxiating any creatures in the area is complete nonsense out of a really bad Hollywood disaster movie. A more accurate explanation of the hazards of LPG is:

LPG is colourless and its liquid weight is about half that of water; however, propane vapour is at least 1.5 times heavier than air (butane 2 times) and because of this it tends to flow along the ground, often for a considerable distance, and collect in cellars, drains, excavations and other low-lying places. The vapour can remain for some time if the air is relatively still, and if ignition occurs at a remote point the resulting flame may travel back to the sources of the leak....

...approximately 2% of the vapour in air will form a flammable mixture; if this situation occurs in a confined space and the mixture ignites, an explosion will result.

Sure, an LPG leak can be dangerous, but so can a gasoline spill. Anybody who has seen a really big gasoline tanker fire on the highway, or even a car catch fire, will know what I mean.

The article is about Liquified methane which is refridgerated gas. It's just the usual petrol/petroleum/gas confusion which no one seems to want to standardise. Let's just use Methane, Ethane, propane, butane..

That article is surprisingly light on refs, or what gets inserted in their absence: the "[Citation Needed]" tags. Wiki may be BS but at least it's ostensibly backed up by a real ref; seems the eds aren't into short chain hydrocarbons.

I would not characterize Wikipedia 'as BS'...that is an all-encompassing indictment of all Wikipedia information.



All information sources should be read with a skeptical attitude, and the reader, if actually interested in facts, should do his/her due diligence and research the provided references, and the references in those works, and so forth.

The integrity of Wikipedia is maintained by people such as myself who go around and correct misinformation whenever they find it. The trouble with this is that it's a lot of work finding credible sources and verifying factual information, and once you get up to 100 or 200 problem articles, the workload gets high.

A major problem is that many editors rely for their information on the popular press, which is notoriously bad about verifying their information (most reporters are scientifically illiterate and don't realize it), or special interest groups which specialize in spreading misinformation about their own specific topics. And then there are random nutcases who should be on medication or confined to an institution, but aren't, who insist on modifying articles to match their own particular delusional system. (Note to people on this site who find the last sentence insulting: I am not talking about you specifically and your psychiatrist will back me up on that).

In this case, the editors (whoever they are, I haven't looked) don't seem to understand the subject matter and are confused about the difference between Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The former is primary propane and butane, which can be liquefied at normal atmospheric temperature by compressing them, while the latter is primarily methane, which must be supercooled to -162 degrees Celsius to liquefy it.

What I hate about Wiki is the editing interface. The minute it involves cut/copy/paste of bits of code I go off to do something better. If it were boxes and buttons I'd contribute. The fox/henhouse aspect of the editing doesn't fly, either, as aptly summed up by The Onion: Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence.

"On July 25, 1256, delegates gathered at Comerica Park to sign the Declaration Of Independence, which rejected the rule of the British over its 15 coastal North American colonies," reads an excerpt from the entry. "Little did such founding fathers as George Washington, George Jefferson, and ***ERIC IS A FAG*** know that their small, querulous republic would later become the most powerful and prosperous nation in history, the Unified States Of America."

As a result the mods or whatever you call them are quite the pack of internet prison bull analogues. Pass.

I could get behind an invite-only Wiki for hydrocarbons. peakoil.com had the like but it was completely overrun with spammers.

On July 25, 1256, delegates gathered at Comerica Park to sign the Declaration Of Independence, which rejected the rule of the British over its 15 coastal North American colonies,

Yes, that's the sort of thing we are constantly trying to clean up, while at the same time other people are introducing random errors.

And while we are doing that, somebody says: Hey! Maybe there WERE 15 coastal North American colonies, but only 13 of them signed the Declaration of Independence! Then there will be an argument among the editors about who the 15 colonies were and why only 13 of them signed. There will be strong opinions on why Vermont didn't sign. People from Nova Scotia will say, "We are GLAD we didn't sign because we don't want to be in the same country as you!" and some Americans will be offended, and say things that offend the Mexicans. Then there will be a big argument between the Americans and the Brits whether the date of the Declaration should be in the American or British date format, and things get totally out of control.

It just goes on and on.

Once drove past a semi-truck fire on I-75 down in the Florida peninsula when going home from a work trip. I was heading north; the truck on fire was in the emergency lane of the southbound side - well away from us. I had my windows rolled up and the air conditioner on. Yet both me and my coworker felt the heat from the fire through the tinted windows.

Middle East, North African Economies Will Accelerate Next Year, IMF Says

The economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which include Saudi Arabia, will be helped as crude oil production climbs to 26 million barrels per day in 2011 from 25 million barrels per day in 2010, the IMF said.

The six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates produce about 14.7 million barrels per day of crude oil combined. I really don't understand where they get the figure of 25 million barrels from. And, they almost certainly will not increase their production by 1 million barrels per day next year.

Perhaps they screwed up and included all Middle Eastern countries plus North Africa in their figures. However 25 million barrels per day would be a bit low for all of them. But it is highly unlikely that even all these countries will increase production by 1 million barrels per day in 2011, though it would likely be possible if OPEC dropped all quotas. That is highly unlikely however.

Ron P.

Link up top: Is the 'bidding game' on for oil reserves estimates?

I find it interesting that this article appeared in The Arab News. The Arabs know exactly what is going on here. The Western main stream media doesn't have a clue.

Ron P.

The link above shows another quote taken from a Middle East newspaper.

"I think the oil era is probably over," says Ivan Sandrea, the vice president of exploration and production strategy for the Norwegian state oil company Statoil.

This quote would imply that senior management at StatOil believe that Peak Oil is a reality.

If Norway were part of OPEC, I suppose that the recent decline in production would be characterized as Norway "Increasing their excess productive capacity." Norwegian crude oil production (EIA):

About 3 years ago, I was working for a drilling rig equipment manufacturer. A Norwegian firm that was buying some of our equipment had some of its people over for a visit. I asked one of the Norwegians how their oil production was doing. He reluctantly admitted that it was in decline but they were hoping to reverse that with new technology. From the looks of your graph, it didn't work.

I am shocked - shocked! - that "ists" are making the same casino gambling analogies I was using here a few days ago. Banque e banque, moinseurs.

RE: article on OPEC 'Party' in Riyadhhhh...

Some OPEC nations, too, are weaning themselves off oil dependence. Saudi Arabia, for decades solely a producer of oil, now has an industrial base that makes up 10 per cent of its economy.

Its non-oil sector is growing at 5 per cent and rising, offering the hope of careers to the millions of youths entering the job market. Its property market is buoyant and investors from luxury retailers to video animators are seeking to cash in on its emerging consumers.

The UAE is even further down the industrialization route, with 16 per cent of the economy made up by non-oil industry.

While one half of the world remains transfixed by the fear of oil running out, oil exporters are much more concerned that demand for their natural resources may begin to fade.

How trendy! I guess KSA and Kuwait are ready to transition from petroleum to highly profitable Facebook and Tweeter pages.

This is like an article out of the Onion.

All of this might be true if oil prices were 20% of GDP rather than 5% but the current 'cheap oil' organization couldn't tolerate that kind of price level.

In the meantime we all can watch the world's only growth industries; poverty and bailouts. With the bailout industry nearly insolvent there is left only poverty to remain 'Number One'!

Hi Steve,

Its non-oil sector is growing....offering the hope of careers to the millions of youths entering the job market.....video animators are seeking to cash in on its emerging consumers.

It took me awhile to figure out what is going on. But, this article really did enlighten me:

Now, a bright young college grad will simply write an "app" for the iphone to transport grapes in January from Chile to Milwaukee without having to bother about oil, jet fuel, truck diesel, etc. What a wonderful new world we will get from technological innovation and the boundless human spirit!

Yeah, moving all that flavored water inside those bio-bubble membranes from Chile to Milwaukee would seem to be a waste of energy. Just encode the genetic material, beam it up to the ISS, then down to Milwaukee, where the genetic re-assemblers can reproduce the exact same thing from the local water supply and corn syrup. Piece of cake, I'd say. In science fiction...

E. Swanson

I don't hold out the hope that technology will reverse our fortunes. But when it comes to reserve growth, if this process turns out to be even half effective, then I've got some crow to be eatin'!

Although this doesn't change the rate problem, it does start to change the direction of geo-politics and policy. The company is E-T Energy in the Oil Sands and the link is for the presentations:


(Maybe we should had a new technology category for reserve growth called "PPRE" Power Point Reserve Enhancement)

But, let's give them the benefit of the doubt, or hold back some cynicism. I too would like to see third party verification of the claims on reserves. However, increasing the Oil Sands from 176 billion to 1.6 trillion is nothing to sneeze at.

Putting this in perspective, the estimated global reserves is somewhere around 1.3 trillion. I don't believe they are pulling a fast one, and if someone or a company has put any kind of serious money into a venture they are not going to quote some number that would normally get them laughed out of the room.

However, increasing the Oil Sands from 176 billion to 1.6 trillion is nothing to sneeze at.

On the other hand, anytime someone increases reserves by a factor of ten, you gotta question how a change of that magnitude is physically possible. It's not like you wake up one morning, look at your back account, and wow, there's ten times more money in there than there was yesterday.

You have to look at the presentation(s) and see where the economically recoverable oil sand strata are. Most of the recovery to date has been strip mining the top layer. This is type of extraction that has been causing all the environmental concern.

Electrode extraction occurs deeper and below the economically viable strip mining levels.

The overall resource number of 2.3 trillion has been known for quite a while. Yet, they could only claim 176 billion due to existing technology. All they have done is moved barrels from the resource column to the reserves column, so they didn't just magically appear.

BC - I assume the "resource number" is something along the lines of in place reserves or perhaps technically recoverable reserves. I've got no problem buying either definition with respect to the 2.3 trillion bo. I've got no problem because that number has no bearing on the amount and rate of recoverable oil from the play IMHO. They can say there are 100 quadzillion bbls of "resource oil". As I've pounded on the table before any projection of future reserve production is absolutely worthless if it doesn't include the price assumptions. Let's just assume electrode extraction works 100% as advertised. But if the cost to produce oil via this technology is $90/bbl then it's very easy to project to future recovery (at current prices): it zero bo. And if it cost $10/bo to produce with this technology then there are 100's of billions of bbl of recoverable oil. I don't even have a problem if they offer an unrealistic future price expectation to generate the recoverable reserve number. If they can prove absolutely the play will produce 300 billion bo IF oil prices rise to $250/bbl then I would be just fine with their number. At that point all I have to do is believe oil will reach that price level and stay there long enough for the play to be fully developed. I've got no problem with folks offereing what I might consider an unreasonable price expectation. At least they are putting the whole package on the table for everyone else to judge.

I have been thinking of recovery factors quite a bit recently and I think two effects exist that act as a ratio. The first is how hard it is on average to recover something; call this K. Then there is the odds of finding something that is a high-enough quality to make it easy to recover, call this N. The ratio between these two is N/K. If N is high or K is low you are in good shape, and recovery factor, R, is close to 1.

In real terms K goes as k*R and N goes as n*(1-R)/R. The latter says that there is a lot of rubbish out there and not much really good stuff.

The actual cumulative distribution of recovery factors is then
P(R) = 1 - exp(-(k/n)*R^2/(1-R))

A family of curves then looks like:

How does this work in practice?

For oil, poor relative recovery:

For conventional natural gas, much better relative recovery:

I am still working the kinks out of this analysis. The cool thing is that it is a single parameter fit, the ratio n/k.

In summary, you have to hit on two cylinders. You need nature working with you in getting a good average recoverable grade (or good technology) and you need nature working with you in providing a relative abundance of the good stuff. Ultimately you can only have a chance of improving on the first, since the second is set in stone and follows the standard power law of diminishing returns. That is what I think makes the family of curves universal.

You need nature working with you in getting a good average recoverable grade (or good technology) and you need nature working with you in providing a relative abundance of the good stuff.

In the trade, that is known as finding the "sweet spot". In other words finding the right combination of oil grade, porosity, permiability, sand thickness, structure, etc that makes it work. Giant Field Black Swans are the ultimate sweet spots. However, even for things like shale gas, tight sands, etc the same idea still applies. Likewise, EOR only does well when the proper methods are applied to the proper places (the sweet spots).

The family of curves may well be universal. However, we find the members of those families (the individual points on those curves) individually, one at a time. Each one is a little different, and must be found, and developed individually. Increasing the probability of finding those sweet spots (over random drilling), and figuring out how to apply the appropriate development technology is what petroleum geology (and reservoir engineering) is all about.

You know, Rockman, the "resource" numbers on oil sands fall into the "It doesn't matter because they'll never be able to produce that much in our lifetimes" category. There is very likely 2.3 billion barrels of bitumen (semi-solid oil) in place in the Canadian oil sands (and surrounding carbonate rock), but they will never be able to put enough infrastructure in place to produce it during our lifetimes.

As for the 300 billion barrel number you mentioned - they can produce that much oil, at half the current world price, using existing technology. The Alberta government has deliberately understated the reserves by using a recovery rate of 20% of oil in place over an arbitrarily limited area, whereas the geologists working on it know that they can recover at least double that amount over a wider area. But again, it falls into the "doesn't matter" category. The production will be limited by infrastructure and manpower, not recovery factors.

The size of these operations scares the wits out of people. At this point in time Imperial Oil (ExxonMobile's subsidiary) is moving 207 loads of equipment from Korea to the oil sands, each up to 24 feet wide, 3 stories tall, and 600,000 pounds, via secondary roads in Idaho and Montana. This causes considerable trepidation for the people in Idaho and Montana, but it's the logical way to do it since they can barge it up the Columbia River to Lewiston, ID, and once they get it to Alberta the roads are built to take it and the people are used to it.

That's just one oil sands project. At current oil prices it should be very profitable. However, if they build more than one at a time, labor shortages cause wages to escalate to the point where they are uneconomic.

Thanks Rocky. That's exactly the sort of qualification I was talking about. Even though you didn't give a detailed economic analysis at least the anecdotal offering allows some credibility to the recovery numbers. From what you say I gather the projects need to be ramped up to a very large scale to work best.

And since you're closer to the play: even with an adequate economic edge what do you see as any political limitations with respect to reports of significant ecological damage?

It's not like you wake up one morning, look at your back account, and wow, there's ten times more money in there than there was yesterday.

Yes but look at all the those small deposits in bank accounts near yours, with a little ingenuity and technology you can siphon a few cents from each one over the next fifty years and put it into yours... suddenly that million dollar yacht is tied up at your private dock. What do you mean that's not how it works in the real world?!

I can understand why OPEC, as a whole, would want to inflate its reserves numbers for maintaining its power and keep us addicted to oil; but why would and individual OPEC country, with flat or declining production, run the risk of exposing to the world its past-peak condition by not being able to comply to higher production quota?

OPEC quotas are not really based on proven reserves. They discussed that once but never made the decision to base quotas on reserves. Nevertheless all OPEC nations, at that point, decided to take no chance and inflate their reserves anyway. That was in the mid 80s.

Today, everyone is producing way over their quota. Proven reserves is only a prestige thing. And they all want to the rest of the world; "We have plenty of oil left in the ground so don't bother with looking at any alternatives." I know, so-called alternatives are not really a threat but they really don't know that.

Ron P.

My impression has been, for the past sveral years, that everyone was producing "flat out" given field restrictions to prolong field life, which in OPEC countries would be self imposed, of course. Is this not the case?

Production declines in OPEC countries are not due to depletion; they are increasing their excess productive capacity.

My Sunday topic of the week...

"Fighting Honey Laundering"

"On the global front, there’s been a lot of buzz about “honey laundering.” This accurate neologism refers to the way in which millions of pounds of Chinese honey have been making their way into the United States labeled as originating from other countries, and often contaminated with the banned antibiotic chloramphenicol, which can cause fatal aplastic anemia.

Misrepresenting the country of origin is an illegal way around the high tariffs imposed on Chinese honey, and this past spring, after years of investigation, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald issued a complaint alleging the fraudulent import of “Chinese honey falsely declared as originating in South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand on behalf of and for the benefit of a German company and its worldwide affiliates, including an American subsidiary that operated in Chicago”...

...But the influx of cheap honey has made it easy for honey-packers not to “think,” and hard for local honey producers to compete. And there’s a double stinger for small-scale U.S. beekeepers wanting to bottle and sell their honey locally: state and local health departments and the laws they enforce. "


Fortunately, Illinois just passed a bill, SB2959, enacted into law in July, enabling small beekeepers to sell up to 500 gallons of raw honey without restriction - as a raw agricultural product, rather than a processed food. This is a great boon to the local food movement.

"Six local food bills head to Governor's desk"


“We do not need laws that make it easier to buy imported products of questionable safety than wholesome products that support the local economy.”

That sums it up perfectly, save "questionable". Too often, the product is demonstrated both inferior and harmful. Yet the labyrinth of regulations make it easier for spurious producers to hide. Direct relations between small producers and individual consumers exhibit some of the best quality control, and should be encouraged rather than prohibited.

I was at my local grocery the other day, and saw a product labeled "Honey" but containing 25% honey and 75% sugar syrup, imported from India. Or so the label said. Price for 8 oz? $1.00.

It's pretty sad.

I'm looking forward to next year's neighborhood farmers market.

I suspect that calling it 'honey' is violating regulations of some kind. Certainly I wouldn't want to call it that; 'honey product' or 'honey-flavored syrup' would be more accurate (and also put off consumers, I'd think).

Read this really interesting expose from Seattle-PI - it's a question of getting imported goods inspected at customs - they rely on whistleblowers, and, even then, often do not act.


Makes me want to tear what's left of my hair out....

Hard to forget getting cans of Chef Maxwell Applesauce, from China, at the pantry programs serving disabled Americans.

I buy my honey at the Farmer's & Fishers Market from a 90 year old bee keeper across the Mississippi River from me. Two half gallons during mid-spring when the flavor is as I prefer. His bees are perhaps 5 miles away from me as the crow flies.

I don't think anyone has ever bothered this fine old gentleman with such nonsense.

Best Hopes for His Continuing Beekeeping,


I get mine from someone at work who keeps bees as a hobby, plus I get my Tupelo Honey from local farms.

This reminds me of an article about food safety in Scientific American a couple of years back, about securing the food system from deliberate poisoning or contamination attacks. The proposed solutions were all geared towards more complexity, security protocols, encrypted tracing mechanisms - all things easy for a big industrialized food processor to implement, but deadly expensive for small producers. I was struck by how the solutions in the article, if implemented, would become a weapon against small localized food production. And that's ironic, since localized small-scale food production is immune to any kind of wide-spread poisoning or contamination attack by it's inherent structure.

Good for him ! I wish him another 90 years ;) Thanks for supporting a local producer ;)

We have problems with local farmers markets, who have to comply with the law or get shut down. I hear about competitors turning people in.

There is a doco on iview ABC (Aust) ATM about the 'fakes industry'

Episode 2 http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/517518 (expires in 2 days) rocked my world.

Fake bags, shoes etc are one thing. But fake medicines and other health products (such as condoms being distributed to Africa that are full of holes) are industrial murder IMO.

This a sign of things to come in the US? Do we sell Yellowstone to the Chinese?

LONDON — Britain's government will soon unveil plans to sell around half of the woodlands it oversees, paving the way for a huge expansion in holiday resorts, golf courses and commercial logging operations, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will unveil the plans to dispose about 50 percent of the 748,000 hectares (1.85 million acres) of forest within days, according to the newspaper.

You got to hope that someone like a Ted Turner buys it up or someone that is going to preserve it.


Holy crap. That's terrible.

Where's the Sheriff of Nottingham when you need him...

It was Robin Hood that stole if from the rich and gave it back to the poor. The Sheriff would only Plat it out and start condo developments.

Is the underlying message really about the inability of the federal/crown powers to maintain their stewardship for the benefit of the people and nation?

It does seem sale of physical assets, irregardless of stewardship, will be the first to go. A government yard sale.

I don't think Alan Rickman would start platting it out...

I know Robin Hood is now seen as a folk hero, but originally, he was an outlaw. Not a supporter of the true king, but a man who robbed travelers and poached in the king's forest.

"Royal forests" were a way to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons. A non-egalitarian way, to be sure. Swaths of land were reserved for aristocracy; commoners were not allowed to cut down trees or hunt.

Reminds of Diamond's Collapse, where he points out that hereditary aristocracy protects the environment, in that the king has reason to preserve the land so it can create wealth for his heirs.

I do wonder if this is a fatal flaw in democracy, in that democracy encourages people to loot while they can, since their time in power may be brief.

I've sometimes wondered if a society funded purely by solar energy flows would naturally be a land-based gentry type of arrangement with peasants, inheritable titles, a hierarchy with a king/queen at the top. And conversely, if fossil fuels make democracy a real and viable thing (if not perfect in its manifestations) because land is not so important; people can have wealth and success (therefore they should be able to vote and express their opinion) without access to land....

Because controlling land by force (if that is the only source of energy) means having all the power essentially, or am i missing something??


An interesting question...

But could one make the same case for farmland and farm corporations?

We must have food...and in the U.S. there are some very large farms, run by a small number of people.

And yet we do not currently have a landed gentry and serfs and so forth.

Unless you count Cargill and ConAgra and the actual farmers doing the work...

But seriously, the large amount of farmland does not seem to preclude people having private land to have a house or an apartment complex...in fact, suburban sprawl has been consuming nice farmland.

Further, there seems to be a great opportunity to emplace PV on top of houses, buildings, and over parking lots and so forth. Such installations would generate power, as well as shade the actual roofs somewhat and combined with white roof coatings would reduce the heating and therefore AC loads in warm areas and seasons.

I said a " solely funded by solar energy flows". The US is not one now. Nor has it been for a very long time.

"I know Robin Hood is now seen as a folk hero, but originally, he was an outlaw."

When the rich write the laws, working-man's heroes are likely to be outlaws.

It strikes me how many sheriffs today are kept very busy kicking people out of homes to give back to banks that were fraudulent in the first place; and how few (any?) sheriffs are busy locking up the criminal banksters that perpetrated the whole crime.

Mostly the historic commons were protected by villagers themselves who did not see themselves as greedy individualist atoms in a mathematical model but as members of a community who hoped their children and their children's children would be able to use the same land they used.

Generally, it took not increasing numbers of people making increasing claims on the land, but one wealthy land owner with a new idea (proto-)industrial capitalism--maximize profit by kicking everyone off the land and overgrazing it with sheep to supply the newly industrialized mills--to create the historic tragedies of the commons.

I did say it was a non-egalitarian method. No doubt it seemed extremely unfair to the commoners. Even today, poor people in Asia and Africa break the law to hunt endangered animals and cut wood and farm in national parks.

It's increasingly hard to differentiate headlines in "The Onion" from real headlines.

I wonder how this compares to forest lost in other areas, like the Amazon?

re: I wonder how this compares to forest lost in other areas, like the Amazon?

Well, the Amazon Rain Forest is about 50 times as big as the UK, and the area of forest lost every year is about the size of Wales. The area the British government is selling off is about 20% the size of what the Amazon loses every year.

You could try to compare it to the area of forest being lost in Canada, but that wouldn't work because the Canadian forests are now growing faster than they are being cut. The days of indiscriminate logging are gone.

Originally, Britain was densely forested, full of huge trees and occupied by lions, wolves, and bears. Now it is mostly farms and urban land, and what is not covered by houses looks like some kind of big garden occupied by sheep, rabbits, and the occasional fox. Perhaps the remaining forests should be treated like a nature preserve rather than an exploitable resource.

I'm looking at this from the Canadian perspective. Although Canada has a little more than half the population of the UK, the total area of its national parks is 70% bigger than the entire UK, and several of the individual parks are bigger than Wales. The British don't have much nature left so perhaps they should treat it carefully.

"The British don't have much nature left so perhaps they should treat it carefully"

Oh I love it when our transalantic cousins get it so wrong when they talk about my little corner of the planet. It reminds me to apply a huge scepticism filter to all the other things I read here.

One of my friends lives near Nottingham. I asked him about the status of the Sherwood Forest. He told me it was more like the Sherwood Thicket now. Seems the Brits used all the good hardwood long ago to make a Navy and Rule the World. Worked for awhile, I guess.

I guess it depends on all the possible definitions,like 'nature', 'small corner' etc...

Today I spent flying over an area of BC that is virtually roadless - I'll guess that 1% has been visibly disturbed. Most of the few hundred km of dirt logging roads are accessible only by remote beach head and often deactivated. This covers an area of about 1/4 of the province, or about the size of the UK. The only person I'm aware of that has even seen a measurable percentage of this area was John Clarke.

I can walk 1000 km through the coast mountains and not cross more than one gravel road. Actually, that is a lie - I am generally unable to move more than a meter off an established trail through the temperate rainforest. In a previous job on the arctic coast I could fly 2500 km and not cross a road other than the local communities 5 km of local streets. There had to be some 'nature' in there somewhere. I certainly consider the mamma bear with 3 cubs and the mooses (mice?) living on my property 'nature'; if I'm not careful I can become part of the food web.

Yes, I'm sure there is a lot of 'nature' in the UK. But I can see why a Canadian might say there is not much nature left in Britain. And when I sit by a British hedgerow and see all the little animals living in there I guess I can see where you might take offense. Anyway, don't get your knickers in a knot about having dealt with 3000 years of civilization - we colonials are just different.

We do have a 160 year old stone chimney in town, so I guess we also have quite a bit of history in this little corner of the world.

Anyway, don't get your knickers in a knot about having dealt with 3000 years of civilization - we colonials are just different.

Ditto from Alaska. Living up here kind of recalibrates one's concept of "wilderness".

I certainly consider the mamma bear with 3 cubs and the mooses (mice?) living on my property 'nature'; if I'm not careful I can become part of the food web.

As a hard core hunter friend of mine once said: "The thing about hunting in Alaska is....you always have to remember that you aren't necessarily at the very top of the food chain."

That being said, I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, and have lived for more than two decades in Alaska. I am constantly reminded how much Alaska and the western US has changed (read how much "nature" has been lost) in my lifetime. My advice to our UK friends is to hang on to what nature you have. It's amazing how fast it can disapear!

Like I said the other day our future is forming before our eyes:

"Meanwhile the other half of the new paradigm, the corporations, are being also guided into their new roles buying up farmland and other resources to feed, in every sense the ghettoes."

Interesting bit from the article is this:

The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

Basically corporations will be the new owners of Britain's forests and the proles from their city ghettoes must pay to experience them. For the ever increasing population of poor there will be no need to leave the cities as there will be nowhere to go.

For the ever increasing population of poor there will be no need to leave the cities as there will be nowhere to go.

Yes, things are tough all over. And on the energy/economy trajectory often bandied about in these parts, this will come true irrespective of whether bugaboo "corporations" own those forests - even irrespective of whether those forests go on existing at all. It simply won't matter.

In order to "experience" a forest, any "prole" who doesn't happen to live next door must first be able to travel to it. Until the 20th century, "proles" had essentially no access to such travel. They made do with whatever was within walking distance, when they even had time for such frivolity after exhausting themselves utterly at mere subsistence.

What finally gave "proles" broad access to such travel was the automobile. Unlike a bicycle, it didn't require extraordinary athletic fitness to go a distance. Previously, those who could afford to travel went mainly by train - run by guess who: one or another of the hated bugaboo corporations of the day. But trains were and are mass transit taking one to mass experiences - such as the crowded commercial resort hotels of the Catskills, or Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, or nowadays the likewise commercial Center Parcs - and certainly not to quiet rustic nature-centered forest "experiences".

Unfortunately, automobile travel shows signs of becoming more difficult in the future owing not only to oil depletion, but also to ever-metastasizing taxes and regulations expressly designed, often for purely philosophical reasons, to impede it. This, again, has little to do with bugaboo "corporations". And yet it will not bode well for "experiencing" forests. Most people, should they become limited, for cost or regulatory reasons, to trains, taxis, bicycles, and walking, will find that for all the "experiences" that forests can afford them, said forests may as well be on Mars.


If I follow your reasoning, you speculate that if the common person cannot travel to see 'the forest' (we can take that to mean areas o relatively unspoiled wilderness), then they will have no emotional investment in preserving these areas.

So...the lessening of car travel will lead to forest destruction fater than if car travel was to continue growing?

I have never been to the Amazon jungle (although my wife has) and I may never get to see it in person, yet I have seen it on video and have read books about it, and I care very much to see it preserved as much as possible.

I am not sure what you are attempting to convey by repeatedly putting 'experiences' in parenthesis...it almost seems as if you are mocking the idea of people enjoying walking in wilderness areas.

I have enjoyed many periods of solitude in various wilderness areas in the U.S.(National Parks and other areas)...These experiences cleanse my mind and invigorates my body.

The pity is, that if a huge number of people flocked to wilderness areas to experience them, then these areas would no longer be wilderness, as is the case in certain areas of most U.S. national parks...this goes back to the idea that the World's population has grown too much.

I guess the bottom line to my ramble is that preserving wilderness areas is about the health and welfare of the flora and fauna in these areas first and foremost, and about our ability to experience these areas secondly.

Every issue isn't soley about us...nor is every issue driven by profit in the markets.

The pity is, that if a huge number of people flocked to wilderness areas to experience them, then these areas would no longer be wilderness...

Yes, indeed. That only compounds the irony. The original complaint I commented on was about money and instrumentality: "Basically corporations will be the new owners of Britain's forests and the proles from their city ghettoes must pay to experience them." And I guess I'm musing on the utter futility of that complaint (wasn't even thinking forest destruction, really), given the reality that only a handful can ever "experience them", especially as places of quiet solitude, no matter what the future scenario. As you just pointed out, there are simply far too many people for that. And as I pointed out, if you go any place by train, it's a zoo at the end of the trip, not quiet solitude, by the inherent nature of trains being mass transportation. Back in the day they took people to noisy overcrowded resort hotels, not to solitude.

Without the automobile, solitude is/was simply inaccessible for most. A train or plane or ferry, especially an affordable one, won't get you away from the madding crowd, its very passengers are a madding crowd. In some circumstances, a very long hike or bicycle ride might - if you're young and/or athletic enough to be up to it, which doesn't describe most members of today's well-aged populations. Hence the quotes were partially indicating direct quotation from the original and partly meant to be what are called scare quotes.

And maybe I should also muse on the futility of trying to experience quiet solitude in forests, in the event that they ever become "healthy again", i.e. became as infested with deadly vermin, ready to pounce, bite, infest, or infect, as they were in their primordial condition. I've seen the Nature videos of the Amazon too, and based on the more honest ones, actually being in the Amazon is not something I have even the slightest, remotest desire to "experience" directly. OK, sure, the processes of evolution have "invented" a staggeringly immense variety of morbidly fascinating ways by which self-feeding stomachs and whatnot attack, masticate and digest each other, but at the end of the day, really, the videos have already been made and digitized, there's little news any more ... and it seems detestable - all those bug bites, fungal lesions, parasite infestations, the potential to be killed by a snake or a predator ... for what, and so what?

I lived in the Amazon jungle for awhile. I don't know what videos you've seen, but really, it's not that bad. The critters generally don't bother you. Even the piranhas.


I agree with you, certainly not all wilderness areas are the right cup of tea for many folks.

It would be good to preserve as much wilderness as possible, though, for the sake of the things living in these areas...and for sake of humanity and all life on Earth. A massively deep extinction event is bad for life on Earth, including us...and we appear to be in such an event now...caused by us.

Some of us- the sort that read TOD- are more aware than the average bear, and we will rightfully and righteously support the preservation of things we never hope to see.

But I fear as times turn sour, the masses will come to see the national parks and wilderness areas as perks reserved for the rich, and cast a favorable eye on schemes put forth to realize any profits from them that might hopefully trickle down to them in the form of a slightly higher standard lof living.

An empty belly trumps principles every time, and it is very hard to love and cheriosh something you have never experiened directly.

It is depressing as hell, but the likelihood of our parks and wilderness areas coming thru the next few decades relatively whole is probably pretty slim.

The average long term local rsident here loves the small farm he or she inherited (or bought by the sweat of thier brow in a textile mill) from departed relatives above just about all things.

But nowadays lots of them are finding themselves forced to sell-not bevause they need the money to liveor, or want to spend it on luxuries, but because they simply cannot afford the property taxes any more on thier modest incomes.It it a matter of sell or do without basic necessites such as heat , electricity, home repairs, and so forth.

It's not easy to pay a four or five thousand dollar property tax bill on a twenty thousand dollar take home, which is typical around here -at least of those who still have a decent by local standards job.

And of course the siren song of development is that it generates tax revenues- but somehow the APPETITE for revenues seems to grow ever faster than the revenues themselves once a rural nieghborhood or county starts down that path.

"The Yellowstone Park is something absolutely unique in the world...This Park was created and is now administered for the benefit and enjoyment of the people...it is the property of Uncle Sam and therefore of us all."

President Theodore Roosevelt
April 24, 1903 at Gardiner, Montana
Speech dedicating the North Entrance Arch

To President Theodore Roosevelt, Yellowstone's uniqueness was no the geysers or wildlife he had observed during his visit. Its uniqueness was being the first national park anywhere in the world. It was a new symbol of democracy - land that the federal government set aside from development or settlement, land that belonged to all the people. President Roosevelt recognized this would be Yellowstone National Park's legacy.

There was a PBS show that called the national Parks "America's Best Idea", and I am inclined to agree. The idea was that all people have equal access to the parks, and let us hope that it remains so. A weekend of camping can be had on the cheap, and requires much less "infrastructure" than does a lodge/hotel etc. As long as "development" within parks is restricted, they will remain affordable - the only cost to see the scenery is getting there.

The Parks survived the Depression and WW2, let us hope that current and future governments will maintain what truly is one of "America's Best Ideas"

As for Government itself, well,a return to how much government we had on Roosevelt's day wouldn't hurt either.
I often wonder if our collective efforts to reduce the amount of energy used might not be better put to reducing the amount of government we have - it may well save at least as much energy, and certainly more money!

Teddy was reported to have jumped up from a breakfast steak, while reading Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and exclaimed "I have been poisoned".

Government as small as during his term means no Food & Drug Administration, and no FBI, Homeland Security :-), Air Traffic Control, an 8 cutter Coast Guard, etc. etc.


Actually, in the US, there are many places where one can get off an Amtrak train in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, far from any roads, and hike and camp among the trees and critters.

In the UK you're rarely more than 80 miles form the coast, it's a relatively small place and very very overcrowded. Statistics are deceiving for the UK it's much more overcrowded than they would suggest. Many forests are within easy reach for large portions of the population, even with public transport or even by bicycle. Under corporate ownership access will be restricted, unless of course you pay for the privilege to see Nature. Slowly populations are being separated not only from their own assets, but also from the assets of their own Country to which they once laid claim and had access to as citizens.

A couple of weeks ago I said that collapse was already under-way and it was too late for people to do anything about it, as they were ipso facto locked-in. We constantly see people bemoaning the fact that civilisation is heading for the cliff and nothing is being done about it. Well they're wrong, something is being done about it. Peoples' personal wealth is being stripped away, social safety nets removed, choices curtailed and freedoms restricted. Corporations on the other hand are being given carte blanche in acquiring whatever they need in their new role as guardians of the people, or just plain camp guards controlling access to just about everything.

Many forests are within easy reach for large portions of the population, even with public transport or even by bicycle. Under corporate ownership access will be restricted, unless of course you pay for the privilege to see Nature.

I'm still left to wonder to what extent, as a practical matter, this might prove to be a distinction without a genuine difference. As per Heisenberg's comment above, a typical North American notion of a forest experience is intimately connected with solitude. I just don't know of any way to find solitude by public transport or casual bicycle riding. At the end of such a trip one usually finds little except for more of the madding crowd, and this seems inherent to the process, not a remediable defect. Another example is taking the subway to the beach; basically one finds oneself at some version of Coney Island - ugh (which is why people, if they can, drive long distances along, say, the New Jersey or Lake Michigan shore for this purpose.)

So from this admittedly North American point of view, traveling to the forest other than by car will usually prove to be an exercise in pointless futility, merely substituting one unpleasantly crowded environment for another. Now, since Great Britain is so overcrowded that one wonders that it hasn't already sunk into the sea, perhaps British attitudes differ, with people there deriving more pleasure, relatively speaking, from substituting one crowded environment for another?


Yes, when I lived in PA decades ago I preferred the Outer Banks of NC to Ocean City Maryland or the Jersey shore.

The Outer Banks were much less crowded...you actually had sand dunes and not wall-to-wall condos and hotels for 10s of miles.

I haven't been there for twenty years and I am honestly afraid to go back...I would be very troubled to see that it became a copy of Ocean City, MD, only longer. Whatever has happened to Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Nag's Head, etc, at least there is still the Cape Hatteras National Seashore...about 70 miles long if I remember correctly.

When I am retired, I would happily bike to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore staging from from Elizabeth City. If you have time, you don't have to go fast...I saw a family of Black Bears last time I drove that road to the barrier islands...

If you have time, you don't have to go fast..."

That's one key - if you have time. The "proles" we had been discussing often don't. There's also the matter that in many locales, you need big bucks for overnight stays if you're traveling on something as unpredictable as a bicycle. The system, even in parks, runs on reservations, and reservations are geared for predictable, reliable, all-weather transportation, namely cars.

Different people have different tastes, but I'd consider the presence of black bears a strong discouragement, especially unprotected on a bike. Too dangerous: one has to stay alive to enjoy the seashore or anything else. They may not normally prey on people, but it's too easy to find oneself between, say, mother and cub, and not even know it until it's too late.

Another issue, of course, is that by the time they retire, or occasionally even decades before, many people are in no condition for a long bicycle trip, not even if it's a slow one. So if it turns out you're genetically lucky...by all means go for it.

"They may not normally prey on people, but it's too easy to find oneself between, say, mother and cub, and not even know it until it's too late."

Average number of people killed by all bear attacks in the past 20 years: about 2.9/year.

Average number of people killed in automobile accidents: about 40,000/year.

Let's get our risk management priorities straightened out, shall we?

Approximate number of black bear "encounters" that I've had in my lifetime = 40
Number of grizzly bear "encounters" that I've had in my lifetime = 2
Number of times I've been attacked = 0

By encounter I mean being less than 100 meters (300 feet) away from the bear and the bear knowing that I was there. In almost all cases the bear(s) just ran away when they saw me. On a few occasions, they looked at me, then ignored me and kept eating berries. Several of these (including one Grizzly) encounter have been with a mother with one or more cubs. I don't know what the statistics say about bear attacts, but I suspect that less than 1 in 100 encounters lead to an attack.

Approximate number of black bear "encounters" that I've had in my lifetime = 40 ... By encounter I mean being less than 100 meters (300 feet) away from the bear and the bear knowing that I was there.

I would bet the number of encounters where the bear was aware of you, but you were blissfully unaware of him greatly outnumber the ones you remember and can count. My count is only four black bears, all from the seat of a mountain bike. But the closest one, less than ten feet away, I can remeber several previous times at that spot having heard a stick being stepped on, but never saw him. So I bet I'd already encountered him perhaps a dozen times without knowing it.

And yes, in all my known encounters, the bear simply sauntered away.

Here in Massachusetts, you can take the Orange Line (Heavy rail) to the Middlesex Fells, and have a nice lone walk. Unfortunately, I 93 cuts right through it, so you have to put up with highway noise.

Your other option, the Blue Hills Reservation, is reachable by bus. Again, no problem finding solitude. So long as you just need a few hours, not days and weeks. That kind of a wish involves paperwork and further travel. But is also reachable by train and bicycle. In the Berkshire Hills, in the Western half of the state, there are people camping away from the rest of mankind for years on end.

.....a typical North American notion of a forest experience is intimately connected with solitude. I just don't know of any way to find solitude by public transport or casual bicycle riding. At the end of such a trip one usually finds little except for more of the madding crowd, and this seems inherent to the process, not a remediable defect. ....
So from this admittedly North American point of view, traveling to the forest other than by car will usually prove to be an exercise in pointless futility, merely substituting one unpleasantly crowded environment for another.

Denali National Park (AKA Mt. McKinley) recieves over 400,000 vistors a year. The vast majority of those are cruise ship passengers. The only road into the Park is closed to private vehicles, but is served by a bus system. The vast, overwhelming majority of those vistors (I don't have statistics handy but I'm sure well over 95%) ride a bus tour into the park and back out. They never get off the park road.

If one wishes to day hike, one can get off the bus at almost any point and start walking, and flag down a bus when one returns to the road. (The only exceptions to hiking anywhere are a few critical habitat areas closed to hiking.) No permits are required for day hiking, however there is a permit system for back packing, designed to keep only a few people camping in any one area on any given night. While one may not always get the permit for the exact area one wants, getting a permit for a reasonably comparable area is usually not a big problem.

Getting to the park from Anchorage without a car has been a bit more of a challenge, but is getting better. The Alaska Railroad has regularly scheduled service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping at the park, but it tends to be somewhat expensive. However in recent years a number of small, locally operated shuttle bus services have begun operating in the summer. So it is now possible to arrive in Anchorage and take public transportaion up to the park, then use the park buses to access the hiking/backpacking areas.

Similar things are happening to the South of Anchorage. There are several small, local bus lines that can get you from Anchorage to Seward and points in between. Also, the Alaska Railroad and the US Forest Service are experimenting with "whistle stop" service for hikers to the Grandview area (a section of the railroad that passes miles from the highway). Ultimately the plan is to develope connecting trails from where the railroad drops one, to connect with the few existing trails which are nearer the road. This whole idea is still being developed but so far looks promising.

Note that hiking in Denali (or anywhere else in Alaska) is not for everyone. There are very few developed trails. One must often travel cross country, including fording rivers. The weather can be severe at times, and there are those pesky bears to keep things interesting. One needs to be self reliant to a greater degree than in most lower 48 areas. On the other hand, some of us would not trade those experiences for anything.

In summary, there are definately possibilities for those who want to get away from canned experiences, and "cattle herd" tourism. While it is true that getting to the wilds can be difficult without a car, this is changing. There are quite a few small businesses that are finding it worthwhile to cater to independent travelers who want to get out in the woods, but don't have or want to use a car. I would think the same thing could work in other areas, if indeed it isn't already being done.

RE: 'Ugh.'

I took the trains out to Coney a number of times, usually for the Mermaid Parade, on 7/4. The ride can be quiet and introspective, but the Parade is a Zoo.. If you're in NY and you want the 'beach', however, many regular folks (Proles?) take the LIRR out to Islip or Fire Island, hop a ferry or shuttle over to Jones Beach.

Solitude in NY? Walking Second avenue late at night.. or go off into the Bramble in Central Park (NOT late at night) .. Take the A train up to the Cloisters, there's always quiet nooks and crannies, and a great hike Around the north Tip of Manhattan if you take the subway up to Spuyten Duyvil park and just walk the perimeter trail. It isn't the AT, but it's a quality, quiet outing. I'd also get a bus up to Harriman State Park, if I wanted to really camp, which I did with my wife and a couple other of my wierd friends who'd enjoy such things.. and Metro North RR got me up to the AT near Pauling for a Solo over Fourth of July wknd, one year as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_Trail_%28Metro-North_station%29 Oh that's right, Luis Maria and I would go up the Hudson line and do a Leaf-peeping hike now and then around Bear Mtn or Breakneck Ridge near Cold Spring. Some cool old abandoned Ammunition Factories up there! Another great day was to bike up through Manhattan and cross the George Washington and find some good views in the Palisades. That was with my crappy High School bike, and no spandex. Just a normal outing..

Sorry if you don't LIKE the options, but they are there, nonetheless. Others aren't as hampered by the transit options as you seem to be.

Until about 150 years ago people in the UK did not travel recreationally unless they were rich.

About 150 years ago, steam trains and better working conditions allowed the urban working class a week's paid holiday, usually spent at a seaside resort.

About 100 years ago, the bicycle and an improving road network allowed many more urban people access to local countryside, woodlands, etc.

Even 60 years ago, working people were either urban or rural - commuting as such did not exist, beyond the suburban railway lines, and local bus services.

My father talked of a trip he used to take by train in rural Wales in the 1930s. It would take serveral hours and require 2 changes of train, to visit some relatives. When his father bought a car, it turned out to be journey of about 30 miles.

When I lived in Frankfurt, Germany, I used to take the U bahn (subway) to a forested area outside of town in the mountains to go cross country skiing. I saw few other people in my adventures through the forest and, in fact, it was much less crowded than Rocky Mountain National Park,, which is near where I live now. I see no reason why the "proles" couldn't travel to RMNP now, for that matter, if there was a decent train or other mass transit mode of travel available.

The most popular parks such as Yellowstone are mass experiences and they are, of course, dominated by the automobile. Yes, people have a lot more freedom to go hither and yon with the auto, but they still tend to mass up in various areas throughout the country. I don't think the demise or the serious reduction in auto use with necessarily be the death to travel to places of beauty and recreation throughout the country.

It doesn't take a super athlete to ride a bicycle or other human powered vehicle like a recumbent bike or trike. It just takes regular use. Over time, even the most out of shape person could find these vehicles quite useful.

And, besides, the vast majority of the forests and parks are only accessible by foot. The auto just gets you in the vicinity. You need to get out of your car to really see and experience the wilderness.

"I see no reason why the "proles" couldn't travel to RMNP now, for that matter, if there was a decent train or other mass transit mode of travel available. "

The point is that if the forested area outside Frankfurt was privatised, as is the proposal in the UK, and turned into commercial tourist resorts then it doesn't matter whether the proles could get there or not. Access would be denied.

But I think people are getting lost in the detail here and missing the point of my original post. Namely, people are losing everything even if the don't realise it. By stealth or outright confiscation people are having their wealth sucked away, their choices curtailed and freedoms removed. This is not happening to somebody else, it's happening to us and most, even here on TOD, are seemingly in denial about it. And we're still producing 74mbd of conventional oil.

I read somewhere IIRC, perhaps the German military report, that oil production may fall as much 10mbd by 2015. If this is anywhere near correct then the processes I've been looking at, namely ghettoization of entire urban conurbations, is going to have to accelerate rapidly. Corporations will have a primary role in bringing it about and running the show once its accomplished. This is how the global system is going to deal with the many crises heading our way.

I am frustrated by the privatization that you describe, and yet I also have to guess that the extremes that we regularly envision are the result of 'Hyperbolic Extrapolation' .. that "Corporations Ruling EVERYTHING" , or "ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT", or 'EV's Can't Replace the ENTIRE FLEET' are the result of holding one part of the Elephant, and forgetting the balancing effect of the other forms involved.

I'm not saying that 'all's well' and don't bother.. but I AM saying that the fact that YOU object, and so do others, is a small reminder that everything out there works in a stew of forces, and even if WE forget to be Moderate in All Things, that nature and the universe can't forget this, since that's how it's constructed. Orwell was right, but he was also wrong. Things have swung way to the right, and it seems they'll just keep going Rightwards forever.. but they won't, in fact, just as our energy supplies won't always go UPwards.. It's physics, and we and our resistance are even a (tiny but collective) part of that equation.

We may see these great Corps fall someday. Just don't be standing underneath, eh.


'Surely the universe is unfolding as it should..' .. and our help is part of it.

Bob, its hardly 'Hyperbolic Extrapolation' when you can see it happening all around you on a daily basis. Its not even extrapolation, its just straightforward observation of what's actually happening.

The Extrapolation is when people start saying it's going to keep going this way and never stop.

They take a direction, and make predictions as if it won't reverse or change course.

The Californication of the electric car:

California puts its electricity users in pricing categories based on their usage patterns. Since Sexton uses a “stunningly low” amount of electricity, she’s on the lowest tier. But the addition of the Volt would push her into a higher bracket, making it likely that EV charging “would be more expensive than putting gas in my Saturn.” With the time-of-use meter, the EV is billed separately and doesn’t count as part of her home use.

But California’s public utilities commission requires all of its customers’ electric meters to be grouped together, and that meant running a one-inch thick metal conduit along the face of her building. The other option is to punch through three neighbors’ walls. “I can just see the homeowners’ association going for that,” she said.


That's a one inch diameter conduit along the face of her building. They could have installed it in the walls if the aesthetics are so terrible.

Really, what did these people expect? We want change but not if it's not pretty...

I have an economic recovery suggestion for parts of California. It appears they have a renewable resource they can export in massive amounts and there is unending demand throughout the globe. If they can harness and packagesuperficiality for export, they got a winner there.

It could be said this competes with Hollywood, but now they can export the raw product.

And now that I've read the article... Saw this one coming quite a while ago. Yet, there were plenty to counter my point with accusations of being the wet blanket at the party.

The first tactic I would look at is using the clothes dryer outlet. Develop a dual receptacle that only allows one to operate at a time. A lot of homes have the laundry room near the garage, so the cable could be run easily with, or without conduit to the garage charger - use self armored cable we call Teck or AA in the US.

Doesn't help apartment and condo dwellers though. For condos, the HOA would have to invest in the wiring and stations.

The first tactic I would look at is using the clothes dryer outlet

Your cloths dryer needs electricity? Why?

Mine has no plug. You must have a newer model.
I wonder if the person who designed yours knew exactly what he was doing.

Homeowners Associations(HOA) are barely capable of handing normal operations let alone new situations. The owners really have no rights but do have a duty to pay for the property under almost unchangeable laws set down by the developers or the neighborhood. They bought into the illusion of absolute home ownership sold by sleazy developers/lawyers.

HOAs are the embodiment of bogus governance.
EVs are an excellent idea for a commuter car for densely packed Socal, better than ethanol which I support. The government has to support EV infrastructure directly(free parking with charging stations).

The Californication of the electric car

The people of California seem to exist in some kind of alternate universe where the physical constraints that limit other people don't apply.

California doesn't have enough electricity to support even its current consumption, hence the multi-tiered consumption brackets. However, they are proposing the electric car as a solution to preserve the huge freeway systems and vast sprawling suburbs they have built - replacing the old streetcar and interurban rail systems which they used in the first half of the 20th century before the gasoline car became ubiquitous.

In the past few years I have toured much of the western mountain US and seen large numbers of the biggest coal-burning power plants I have ever seen in my life - and all the transmission lines seem to lead away in the direction of California. A couple of weeks ago I was at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, marveling at its rows and rows of 850 MW generators, the biggest in the world. Somebody asked to the tour guide how much of their electricity was used locally in Washington, and he said, "None - it all goes to Southern California". Washington utilities have their own, much smaller dams on smaller rivers to supply local needs.

Despite that fact that it already doesn't have enough electricity, California is proposing to add millions of electric cars to the load on the grid. I don't think this is going to work at all well. Thats why we call this sort of thing Californication.

"Somebody asked to the tour guide how much of their electricity was used locally in Washington, and he said, "None - it all goes to Southern California".

To be fair, it does vary by season. More Washington-generated power is kept local in the winter when CA does less AC and WA needs heat. Seattle may never get cold, but the east side of the Cascades does.

Another example of Californication is when CA utilites buy windmills, then legally separate the renewable energy credit. This leave the local utility with providing the service tie-ins, and having to buy the power at higher rates than the local market, but not getting the credit. CA buys cheaper coal based power for their own use.

It's a new form of colonization. Locally there is considerable support for booting them out of the US.

California has ~ 37M people...compared to ~307M people in the U.S. at this time.

I haven't heard any farmers (or any other product producers until now perhaps) complaining about CA importing an inordinate amount of their product.

So far I haven't heard any testimony here that the government is making other states sell power to CA, nor has anyone said that the power-exporting countries have been experiencing brownouts or blackouts to fulfill CA's power needs.

I suppose if the majority of the citizens in the states that export trons to CA feel so put-off about it, they can elect folks who will drastically raise the rates for electricity shipped to CA, or just spite those terrible CA folks by decommissioning and tearing down the offending power plants on their soil.

Hang together or hang separately.

California is the 5th most energy efficient state in the country. New York is #1.
Washington is #30. Kentucky is #43.

Californians are the pioneers of this country; if they left the US would probably resemble some hokey backwater like Alberta or worse(Dixie--"ol' times there are not forgotten").

California has issues with the peaks during hot days - but nights are no problem - so adding lots of electric cars isn't an issue as long as they are charged at night. Also, I'll bet the person mentioned in the article could go to some other billing option (perhaps based on time of day) that could work without re-wiring the home (maybe just a new meter).

Indeed. A few years ago in a graduate public policy class, in a discussion of future energy sources, several of the younger students (younger relative to me, at least) asserted that "the engineers will figure something out." Some of the other students looked at me, since it was well known that I was the only one in the class with a tech background. I sort of lost it. My response was along the lines of:

We did. But you told us that coal is too dirty, fission is too dangerous, dams kill fish, and wind turbines kill birds. You don't like the risks associated with NG drilling in the areas where we can find large new amounts, and you don't like the pipelines. You don't like the massive HVDC system it will take to distribute solar from the desert Southwest where it's efficient to generate to the rest of the country. You don't like electric trains, and you don't like 800-pound electric vehicles. You got any suggestions? 'Cause we're pretty much out of ideas.

I kind of expect the NIMBYism to fall off when things get bad, but it's hard to see how we could ever dig back out of the infrastructure hole that will exist by then.

Did you miss http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?sub...

Buttonwood - Engine trouble
A rise in the cost of extracting energy will hit productivity

I thought I was reading TOD for a second.

Sure this wasn't in their comedy section? For the Economist, this isn't that far from Luther nailing it to the church door.

But did you notice the sources?

The key ratio is “energy return on energy invested”. Analysis by Tim Morgan at Tullett Prebon, a broker, estimates that oil discovered in the 1970s delivered around 30 units of energy for every unit invested.

Never mind actually speaking with an scientist, engineer, or geologist, what do they know. No-o-o-o, a broker is a much more credible source on energy and depletion.

Remember this one from their comedy section March 1999:


Whoops it seems it was actually a serious article. This weeks edition seems unfortunately absent of such comedy sketch pieces.

I think The Economist is a good newspaper, written much better (to an educated/enlightened audience) than many U.S. newspapers and magazines.

I have subscribed for many years.

It has what I consider to be a nice mix of conservative and liberal ideas...with the balance on the conservative side. Many of its articles express the nuances of two, sometimes more than two, sides to issues. The editors are also not afraid to qualify and caveat their opinions, and to change them if new evidence comes to light.

That being said, many of the ideas it has espoused would positively inflame the more right-leaning folks in the U.S. And...they seem to pander somewhat to their U.S. audience by recommending against proposed policies in the U.S. that they either support or keep their neutrality about in the U.K.

I have posted links to articles from The Economist here before and some folks have responded with words to the effect of 'with a title like that (The Economist) of course anything they have to say is wrong and we shant pay attention to their articles'

It was sad to see such prejudice from some folks who obviously had never heard of, let alone read, the newspaper.

I have subscribed for many years.

I got the print edition for a dozen years, but eventually I quit due to lack of time to read it. Then I think it's quality has been decaying drastically. Until a few years ago I used to look forward the Wednesday's when the new articles come out in their (for free) internet version. But, it seems that some combination of their quality or my thinking has changed, its only about one article per week that seems worth reading anymore.

The U.S. government wishes to set fuel economy standards for 'medium and heavy-duty ' trucks:


The article also mentions the government's wish to set more stringent fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks...by 2025, after the first target year of 2016 for already-set new car and light truck fuel efficiency standards.

I think that anyone who thinks that oil is finite, that oil production has peaked, and that increasingly scarce oil will pose a huge challenge to our situation should write and call their elected representatives to insist that robust fuel economy standards be set...standards perhaps even higher than proposed and imposed more quickly than currently planned.

they fiddle while rome burns by setting fuel economy's for trucks all they want for the year 2016-2025. those trucks being made or having toe fuel to run them at that time is a whole different matter entirely.

In the current issue of The Economist, the newspaper has an editorial article with a Title with words to the effect of: MoD cuts: a Retreat but not a Route (barely).

Link not yet available.

The Editors obviously would rather not have any defense cuts, yet they are adults and intellectually honest with themselves, their readers, and the World: They admit that such MoD cuts (~7.5% over a few years), combined with the ~25% cuts in other government spending, are necessary to move in the direction of balancing the U.K. books and living within their means.

I find it hard to imagine a major, rspected U.S. magazine, especially one that is right-leaning, taking such a position.

U.S. citizens do not seem as adult, well-educated, and intellectually honest as British citizens.

Heisenberg, I had no idea what you were talking about so I Googled it. Found this:

MoD cuts: Loss of big boys' toys will change forces forever

Like a catalogue shopper, for the last decade the Ministry of Defence has ticked off desired items for purchase but now that the bills are coming in we can see we cannot pay them.

How about that? MoD stands for Minister of Defense. We here in the US of A would never refer to a cut in defense spending as "SoD cuts". (Secretary of Defense) ;-)

Ron P.


The Economist article link is not available...that is because the article is in the current issue and only available to subscribers...in a week or so it may be available to non-subscribers, as seems to be the norm from what I have seen with The Economist articles.

However, the article you posted is about the same issue, same time frame (now).

SoD cuts...that is pretty good...



The Economist article also states that the U.K. has deferred its decision to replace its SSBN fleet until 2016...that will be a big bill...we shall see what the U.K. and the World's economic situation is by then...

I found this little Wikipedia gem while surfing the net one day.

I have no idea of its veracity:


We can't get rational alternative energy and energy efficiency policies enacted in any kind of timely manner, but our 'Powers That Be' have plenty of time to plan for the end of the World as we know it, and for what comes after that...

Our Leaders' fiddling while Rome burns indeed!

Almost - secretariat would be close as it's ministry of defence ... anyway my suggestion for the end of international conflict : make every leader of every country wear a bomb collar. Every other leader gets to vote on demand who to blow up needing a good majority of course.
If on any occasion the vast majority thinks you're a dangerous dickweed then boom !

They admit that such MoD cuts (~7.5% over a few years), combined with the ~25% cuts in other government spending, are necessary to move in the direction of balancing the U.K. books and living within their means.

The economists I pay attention to think this is going to end badly. Austerity, in a time of economic crises doesn't work. It causes the economy to shrink, cutting government revenues, so that in the end due to receding horizons the deficit barely responds. In the mean time millions of jobs are snuffed out. It feels like a case of making the unemployed (and those about to enter the workforce) pay the price for the past mistakes of the more connected parts of society. Of course big deficits aren't sustainable long term, so they are truly screwed, damned if the do, damned if they don't.

It is at least refreshing to see that they can make the MoD share at least somewhat in the cuts. I'd be more impressed if the percent defense cuts were bigger than the social cuts, (which they are not by a long shot). But its better than what we face over here, where the lionization of the warrior culture makes defense immune to any cost cutting whatsoever.

Well put.

The 'support the troops' mantra has long ago ascended into the silly-sphere and become the third rail in any military discussions in the U.S.

Don't think the F-35 is worth the money?

Answer: You don't support the troops (here, take this yellow ribbon car magnet and pray to James Dobson in Colorado Springs for forgiveness!)

Don't think that we should invade countries to sit astride their (and their neighbors') oil supplies?

Answer: By God, you do NOT support the troops!

'The troops' are a cross-section of our society at large: There are great hard workers, people who are very compassionate, intelligent, and trustworthy...and there are some losers, fools, and criminals as well, as well as 'average joes and janes. They are people, not gods. Criticizing military policy does not equate to dumping on the troops, but that is the iron-clad connection that has been forged by certain powers to ensure that the MIC gets a blank check in perpetuity.

A recent Armed Forces Journal editorial scribbled some hand-writing on the wall:


The U.S. will struggle to pay the VA and other benefits for all the war vets it has created.

If the Congress tried to enact a 7.5% cut in the DoD over 5 years I think elements of the MIC would do everything in their power to unseat the elected reps who had the temerity to propose such policy...they would do so if anyone propsed a 0.75% DoD budget cut as well.

With the Citizens United ruling, it seems that our MIC corporations can funnel unlimited amounts of anonymous money to ensure that their corporate welfare gravy train keeps rolling along. Put plainly: People who would propose cuts to DoD will never get elected.

The most sure-fire advice to give a young person in the U.S. who wants a secure, good-paying job with paid health care and a pension is to tell them to join the military, preferably as an officer, to maximize their compensation. Serve at least twenty years, retire, go through the revolving door, and become a Federal Civil servant for the DoD/DOE/EIEIO, or become a contractor.

Eisenhower warned about this a long time ago. He was right!

Big defense has won. Wall Street has won, as well.

The losers are all Americans only peripherally connected to these complexes. Yes, that includes health care, energy, sectors which are booming. Believe me they will either be shredded to pieces like manufacturing, completely nationalized, like real estate, or militarized at some point.

It's the nature of the beast.

The troops' are a cross-section of our society at large:

I really don't think that is true anymore. At least not statistically. I think they mostly come from two groups. (1) Red state white flag waving sorts, that attend the more "conservative" churches. And (2) The disadvantaged, for whom a military career is a potential step up out of poverty. We also have a batch of wanna-be immigrants, for whom a stint in the US military means they get citizenship. So the demographics from which 80-90% of recruits come from represents only a few narrow slices of society. With regards to foreign wars, much of the country doesn't have skin in the game, by which I mean family or relatives at risk of being sent into miltary action.

U.S. citizens do not seem as adult, well-educated, and intellectually honest as British citizens.

Unfortunately, I agree. Where a Briton will say something witty, the average American will say "gd motherf%#&" and other variants of the standard words that express a conviction (often misguided) - and those who agree say something along the lines of "gd f*ing right!". It's sad, really, how dismally dumb people around here can be.

I'm deaf, and for much of my life there was no reason to watch TV as there was no captioning available - sure, I'd enjoy a show like "Emergency" (paramedic run-out and save show) where it was obvious what was going on - the dialogue being unimportant - but the real point is I was unaffected by commercials as I see my children today are - and I find it endlessly fascinating and disturbing how the commercials are worded to convince people to buy Chinese junk for empowerment purposes. "With X, you can do Y!" they all say.

Here's how it goes around here: One Christmas, I received from someone on my wife's side of the family this plastic collection of bathroom containers, including a soap dispenser, a toothbrush cup, etc., made of rather robust clear plastic. As I turned over the package, bewildered as to what the hell I would do with it, the gifter piped up and said proudly that it's "the jumbo size!" Holy ****, I thought - I wouldn't have known what to do with it if it had been miniature sized! It was just more of the same kind of garbage they sell at Wal-Mart to people who think having big plastic orbs with silvery plastic parts is necessary, these clearly too big for any bathroom but a McMansion's and what wealthy person would buy this junk, anyway? It's just that this serves as a good example the garbage that gets thrown away the next day as my gift was, and serves possibly to show how Americans are perceived by the Chinese, that even the poor have a big house.

When I think of the energy required for a factory to be brought on-line, the raw materials, the transportation, etc., so that Americans can buy but actually end up just throwing away what amounts to plastic junk - while enriching some marketing group and CEO - I believe truly that America is truly in dire straits.

There's too many gd motherf%#& idiots around here!


U.S. citizens do not seem as adult, well-educated, and intellectually honest as British citizens.

It certainly seems that way, judging from the media. British news, on TV and in print, is so different from the American versions. I'm always shocked that they seem to assume the viewer/reader is much more intelligent and better educated than American media assume. I often look for British coverage of science stories I'm interested in, because they always have more detail and context - stuff cut out of the American versions because it makes the stories too long and too complex.

...on the other hand I like 'reading' Scientific American rather than New Scientist because it has some great graphics/pictures that help explain what can be complex subject material...

Nick (British).

I think British media tend to think of themselves as providing a real service as opposed to merely being an ad delivery vehicle. North American media gave up that pretense a long time ago.

Re. "France's Sarkozy approval at record low " above.

I wonder what will happens to Obama's ratings when the US starts implementing "austerity measures" ???

Mish has an interesting set of articles today that should remind citizens of the US that we have yet to begin our own "austerity measures."

- German Finance Minister Accuses US of Currency Manipulation

- Home Prices Double Dip in "Sudden Dramatic Drop"; 20% More to Come says Gary Shilling

- Nonviable Pension Stupidity in Pittsburgh

- California Pension Promises Exceed 550% of State Tax Revenue by 2012; A Look at Solutions

Germany declares the emperor is naked, taking the currency wars to a new level. The mortgage-fraud disaster might become a bit more dramatic now that home prices are starting a double dip and "with number of homeowners underwater to rise from 23% to 40%.

Our city and state pension funds are still just trying to paper over their own disasters (I wonder how much toxic MBS is masquerading as "assets" on their balance sheets ???).

We in the USA have not yet even started to pay our bills, and here comes Ma Nature, the Waitress, with the Tab.

snarlin, I read the article and watched the accompanying video of the interview on CNBC with Gary Shilling. He seems well versed on the subject of home values and mortgages. Very scary idea that the number of homeowners underwater could rise from 23% to 40%, as well as the 20% predicted further drop in real estate values. That would not only be a double dip for real estate and homeowners, but of course a double dip for the economy. Double Ouch!

But of course with all these new higher oil reserve counts in the ME, I suppose the spickets will be opened wider and with the return to cheap oil, there will be no problems mate! I'm dreamin' of a white Christmas...

It's starting to look like economic issues will overshadow peak oil for quite some time.

"Put Bank of America in Receivership"


"it is time to place the financial institutions that committed widespread fraud in receivership. We should remove the senior leadership of the banks and replace them with experienced bankers with a reputation for integrity and competence, i.e., the honest officers that quit or were fired because they refused to engage in fraud. We should prioritize the receiverships to deal with the worst known "control frauds" among the "systemically dangerous institutions" (SDIs). The SDIs' frauds and fraudulent leaders endanger the global economy. "

Like this will ever happen...

Don in Maine

"bankers with a reputation for integrity and competence"

I think this breed, to the extent it ever existed, died off long ago.

Estimation of the total yearly United States bio-diesel production capability from chicken manure.

Chicken manure weight = 0.21 lb/day

The United States chicken population is (1,970,000,000)

Average chicken waste (litter) production is 0.21 lb/day. The total yearly litter production is as follows:

1,970,000,000 * 0.21 lb/day * 365 days * 1/2000 = 75,500,250 tons

At 150 gallons of bio-diesel per dry ton of chicken litter

75,500,250 tons * 150 gallons = 11,325,037,500 gallons of bio-diesel per year from chicken litter.

Running total U.S yearly bio-diesel from United States manure production is as follows:

11,325,037,500 gallons from chickens + 189,000,000,000 gallons from cow manure = 200,325,037,500 total gallons of bio diesel per year.


Estimation of the total yearly United States bio-diesel production capability from human waste sludge.

The United States population is (310,000,000)

Annual mass sludge per capita 64.4 pounds

The total yearly sludge production is as follows:
310,000,000 * 64.4 pounds/year * 1/2000 = 9,982,000 tons/year

Assuming a 40% moisture content, the dry weight of sludge = 9,982,000 * .6 = 5,989,200 tons/year

At 150 gallons of bio-diesel per dry ton of sludge -> 5,989,200 tons/year * 150 gallons/dry ton = 898,380,000 gallons of bio-diesel per year from human waste sludge.

Running total U.S yearly bio-diesel from United States manure/bio-waste production is as follows:

11,325,037,500 gallons from chicken litter +
189,000,000,000 gallons from cow manure +
898,380,000 gallons of bio-diesel per year from human waste sludge

= 201,223,417,500 total potential gallons of bio diesel per year.

Five questions (some multi-part):

1) How many gallons of gasoline and diesel does the U.S. use per year now? (let us assume that by some point all vehicles could be diesel-powered to take advantage of your idea here...cars, buses, tractors, trains, ships...could you make a kerosene substitute for jet aircraft?). Is your figure (201,223,417,500 total potential gallons of bio diesel per year)enough to satisfy our current transportation fuels demands?

2) How much hog poop does the U.S. produce per year, and is hog waste able to be converted into biodiesel as well? How much would that add to the bio-diesel tally?

3) What, if anything, do we use these chicken/cow/hog/human wastes for now?

4) How concentrated are these waste streams geographically, and how would all the wastes be collected and shipped to central processing plants? By trucks, perhaps? If so, how much of the bio diesel would the trucks burn to take the wastes to the processing plants? What would the EROEI be?

5) Do you have bodyguards to keep x's hit men at bay?

I won't touch anything except number three, and there is no good short answer to even that one question.

I don't know the proportions , but some large feedlot/industrial hog farm type operations generate so much manure it is a real problem to handle it safely and economically;it goes into lagoons and so forth which occasionallly fail during storms and rainy weather.Eventually it would mostl likely be hauled to distant farm land after decomposing and partially drying out in the lagoon-supposedly at least;or processed and sold as sludge or bagged fertilizer.

Smaller operations can generallty and easily dispose of thier wastes by using it own thier own land or selling it as fertilizer to crop farmers within economical hauling distance.there are exceptions and problems of course-such as over application followed by excessive runoff.

This is one general problem that we can reasonably expect to take care of itself, like the old cars you used to see sitting around out in the country-the ones that couldn't be boughht for scrap were mostly stolen and sold for scrap when nobody was around, if you see one these days you can bet it is an object of sentimental value to its owner.

We used to go a few miles down the road and buy chicken litter by the truck load and use it on our place-we can't get it any more-the owners of the chicken houses are contracting it to a company that dries and bags it for sale at garden centers.

The biggest local orchardist bought four tractor trailer loads,dried and bagged ,presumably at wholesale, and applied it to his orchard rather than the usual manufactured fertilizer this past year, as it was a little cheaper.

I believe it is quite reasonable to expect that with shortages of affordable npk looming, all animal wastes available in sufficiently large quantities as to be handled efficiently will be sold , and at attractive prices, within a decade, maybe sooner.

This comment was painted fast with a big fat brush-there are all sorts of ifs, maybes and exceptions to what I have written.


Thank you for your great personal insights.

No free lunch indeed.

I would rather eat than drive.

I can substitute bicycling or walking or car-pooling or mass/public transit.

Don't see a good substitute for eating though.

2) How much hog poop does the U.S. produce per year, and is hog waste able to be converted into biodiesel as well? How much would that add to the bio-diesel tally?

Estimation of the total yearly United States bio-diesel production capability from swine waste.

The United States swine population is (60,388,700)

Swine are estimated to produce daily raw manure of as much as 8.4 percent of body weight (urine and feces).

Generally, growing-finishing pigs weighing 21 to 100 kg can be expected to generate 0.39 to 0.45 kg of waste per day on a dry matter basis (Brumm et al. 1980).

.45kg (1 lbs) * 60,388,700 * 1/2000 *365 = 11020937 tons of swine waste/year

150 gallons of bio-diesel/ton * 11,020,937 tons of swine waste/year = 1,653,140,662 gallons of bio-diesel/year from swine waste


Estimation of the total yearly United States bio-diesel production capability from municipal solid waste.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2006 there were 251 million tons of municipal solid waste, or 4.6 pounds generated per day per person in the USA

310,000,000 people * 4.6 lbs/person * 1/2000 * 365 days = 260,245,000 tons of municipal solid waste

150 gallons of bio-diesel/ton * 260,245,000 tons of municipal solid = 39,036,750,000 gallons of bio-diesel/year from municipal solid waste

Running total U.S yearly bio-diesel from United States manure/bio-waste/solid waste production is as follows:

11,325,037,500 gallons from chicken litter +

189,000,000,000 gallons from cow manure +

898,380,000 gallons of bio-diesel per year from human waste sludge +

1,653,140,662 gallons of bio-diesel/year from swine waste +

39,036,750,000 gallons of bio-diesel/year from municipal solid waste =

241,913,308,162 gallons of bio-diesel/year(5,759,840,670 b/y --- 15,780,385 b/d) total potential gallons of bio diesel per year from U.S. waste streams.


1) How many gallons of gasoline and diesel does the U.S. use per year now? (let us assume that by some point all vehicles could be diesel-powered to take advantage of your idea here...cars, buses, tractors, trains, ships...could you make a kerosene substitute for jet aircraft?).

The EIA now forecasts U.S. 2010 distillate consumption at 3.73 million b/d.

Compared to 15,780,385 b/d total potential gallons of bio diesel from U.S. waste streams.

3) What, if anything, do we use these chicken/cow/hog/human wastes for now?

Because it is produced in massive concentrations, much of the bio-waste produces water pollution in streams and rivers or is burned for electric power production in meat processing plants or incinerated or landfilled. Also anaerobic digestion converts the waste to a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas (sewage treatment) released to the atmosphere.

All the minerals and nitrogen content from bio-diesel processing of the animal waste can be reapplied to farm land as mineral fertilizers formed from ash residue.

Thanks for the additional calculations and info.

So...we could make over 4 times the amount of distillate we now consume per year from animal wastes, and we could salvage the nitrogen and minerals from the ash to apply to farmland?

I wonder if the excess bio-diesel could power the necessary transportation and processing energy needs and then some.

Is this a potential 'win-win' or what am I missing here?

I get to eat meat, we get fuel to drive, and we can return the minerals to the farmland, and we would reduce manure run-off to waterways?

Where are the Jokers in this deck? What are the show-stoppers and/or down-sides?

The point I wanted to make was that high temperature nuclear process heat can replace the current U.S. oil industry and at the same time cleanup the environment.

Note: I have not considered paper processing waste and wood farming.

The locations that produce waste (feed lots, pig farms, chicken/turkey processors … etc) could be connected by a regional waste transport pipeline (sewage system) to keep waste transportation cost low to the regional processing plants where economies of scale may be applied and security enforced. The locations that produce waste might be sited to optimize the waste pipeline network rather than be sited randomly.

A downside for some, the US oil industry turns into a continental agricultural waste mitigation effort.

If the past is prelude to the future, I can see massive agricultural waste spills of epic proportions. Whole regions could be knee deep in manure.

Another possible down side for some people might be the massive use of nuclear process heat at the regional processing refineries. But this is not a problem for me.

Ausgang, Just where do you get your figure of 150 gal/ton? That is 450kg/1000kg of waste.
I am assuming your numbers of waste produced refer to dry matter, because animal waste is normally 60-80% water.

Animal waste has a btu content of about 20MJ/kg, about the same as woody biomass (source:http://tammi.tamu.edu/ManurtoEnrgyE428.pdf)
Biodiesel has an energy density of about 40j/kg, so to turn one ton of waste into .45 tons of diesel, you 95% energy conversion - a better energy return than even refining of crude oil!

For any thermochemical (gasification) conversion, you will get 60% at best, and this does not include the energy needed to dry the animal waste in the first place.

There is a reason why anaerobic digestion is the only widespread energy process for animal waste - it is the only one that has proven commercially viable. If you had a large scale coal/biomass to liquids plant, you could mix in some wet animal waste and be ok, but to do it with straight animal waste requires a lot of energy input.

If it was that easy, feedlots and sewage treatment plants would be doing it as fast as they could - and that is not happening.

This post was deleted by the moderator in a previous thread. I hope it sticks this time. This post is the basis for the numbers. Waste is assumed to contain 40% moisture. Bio-diesel production is prorated to renormalize calculations of various feed stocks as a proportion from the figures shown here.

For example, assuming 40% moisture gives a 300kgs yield, than 300kg/.6 tons = 500kgs/dry ton or about 150 gallons.

The energy content of the process comes exclusively from nuclear power so it will be better than current energy balance of refining of crude oil, since a portion of that energy to traditionally refine crude oil always uses some oil feedstock as a thermal energy source.

Yes, the energy content of nuclear produced bio-diesel comes from nuclear power.

Also by crude estimation, processing 1000 tons of dry bio mass per day requires about 50 megawatts of thermal nuclear power. The cost estimate for a Hyperion reactor at 75 megawatts total thermal power cost about $25 million.

Wet bio-mass can be dried using waste heat from the Fischer–Tropsch (F-T) process. Waste heat recovered from this process is of a very high quality.

The Molten Salt Oxidation Process (MSOP) is most sustainable when the molten salt is heated using a small high temperature (950C) nuclear reactor with a thermal output of as little as 10 megawatts.

MSOP is a universal method allowing utilization of all types of organic waste featuring a single simple common interface. This process is extremely simple and is comprised of a minimal number of stages for preparation of syngas to the fuel formulation process.

The molten salt supports raw materials with high moisture content.

The optimal operating temperatures ranges of the molten salt are 900-950C. The molten salt heat transfer medium effectively, evenly and rapidly transfers heat onto organic compounds.

Since the process heat for this process ideally comes from nuclear power, it eliminates one of the big downsides of biofuel production; it does not deplete the soil of vital nutrients. The residual char and ash from the process is captured as a soil additive to replenish the soil producing the organic material. This also removes and sequesters additional CO2 from the air thereby mitigating global warming and at the same time makes the land more productive.

Under a cap and trade CO2 payment system, this carbon sequestration capability will afford an additional revenue stream.

Below, the high temperature syngas product is reformed into high quality fuel.

An example application of the MOSP is illustrated as a Material Balance Diagram below:

Until the West deigns to develop a small high temperature nuclear reactor with a process heat output of 950C, such a reactor will be available from India sometime after 2014. This reactor is called the Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR) and is being designed and built in India.

The MSOP process can be a leading application of this type of reactor.

You didn't state in your original post that you had unlimited nuclear energy available as a process input!

Doing it like that, then yes, you can use the nuke steam to do high temp steam reforming, and the initial biomass drying.

To get 40% moisture, the biomass still has to be pre-dried, and then you have to transport this, which is still 50% water, to the nuke site, so you will have quite some embedded transport energy use. Of course, you just subtract this from the final yield.

What you are effectively taking about is a 100% conversion of the carbons from biomass (CH2O) into oil (CH2), which gives the same energy in 1/3 the mass. In theory, this can be done with enough external energy input, but you will not get your 100% yield.

An interesting use for nuke steam, to be sure, but I won;t hold my breath to see this get built, at least, not in America.

3) What, if anything, do we use these chicken/cow/hog/human wastes for now?

what is done? Lagoons of the stuff.

What can be done - things like gas from anerobic digesters. Or you can use Black Soldier Fly larvae and make a maggot pit with walls that are at a 45 degree angle. The maggots are then able to be fed back to the pigs/birds OR as they are 40-50% fat, you could make bio diesel outta em. The maggots convert the waste material into biomass at 25% or so. The frass from the maggots can feed a vermipost operation.

All depends on what one is trying to do.

At 150 gallons of bio-diesel per dry ton of chicken litter

I see multiple problems with your assumptions, but first off, what kind of biodiesel process are you presuming here? If it's gasification, 1). It isn't biodiesel you are going to make, and 2). You won't get nearly those yields.

But the main problem is you are making high-end assumptions on everything, and thus coming up with grossly inflated numbers.

Robert, it’s a great privilege to discuss this subject with such an eminent professional in this field.

I am discribing the Gasification of hydrocarbons as follows:
Syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is produced by partial combustion of biomass, that is, combustion with an amount of oxygen that is not sufficient to convert the biomass completely to carbon dioxide and water. Before partial combustion(i.e the MSOP process) the biomass is dried, and pyrolysed. The resulting gas mixture, syngas, is more efficient than direct combustion of the original biofuel; more of the energy contained in the fuel is extracted.
In the MSOP process, Syngas is converted via the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce a diesel substitute, or a mixture of alcohols that can be blended into gasoline. Gasification normally relies on temperatures >700°C.
Lower temperature gasification is desirable when co-producing biochar but results in a Syngas polluted with tar.

Even if I used the low end estimation, and assumed low efficiencies the approach would still meet most liquid fuel requirements of our civilization.

I am conservative in this estimation because I have only mentioned a few sources of biologic hydrocarbons. There are many more biologic hydrocarbon sources that can be tapped and I have not covered the non biologic sources.

The same MSOP equipment and technology can function to reclaim metal in elemental form from waste while reducing its hydrocarbon waste component to liquid fuels. The carbon based components of the non-biologic waste stream can also be transformed into liquid fuel. Such wastes as tires, bitumen, plastics, both building material waste from natural disasters and old cars can be processed without material separation; yes, all this and much more can be used to produce liquid fuels.

A major source of raw material for the MSOP process is land fill mining.

Landfill mining and reclamation (LFMR) is a process whereby solid wastes which have previously been landfilled are excavated and reprocessed. The function of landfill mining is to reduce or eliminate the amount of landfill mass encapsulated within the closed landfill and/or to detoxify hazardous materials and/or to recycle the waste.

In the U.S. landfills are an important untapped resource.

The downside in this; the sysgas from a non biologic source is seldom clean. It must invariably be scrubbed and chemically purified of many contaminates including sulfur and chlorine just like natural gas processing is done today.

At the end of the day, it would be beneficial for our civilization if the systems employed by the energy industry were redirected to center on reprocessing our wastes and trash which we have in abundance all around us rather than generating fuel to the detriment of our food supply.

P.S. a similar process to MSOP but far more inefficient is the Plasma arc waste disposal process. This process is becoming very popular around the world.

Rather than making fuel from its syngas output, the process burns the syngas to meet its electric power requirements. Any excess electric power it generates (a low efficiency operation at or below 33%) is fed into the power grid.

This plasma process is overkill in terms of heating its hydrocarbon feedstock.

By contrast, by using molten salt as the heat transfer medium, the MSOP process can transfer nuclear power with high precision and at optimum efficiency into its liquid fuel output.

Even if I used the low end estimation, and assumed low efficiencies the approach would still meet most liquid fuel requirements of our civilization.

In reality, if what you describe worked as you describe it, people would be doing it. I do gasification for a living. I also deal with people making pitches on a daily basis, so I have to be able to sort out unrealistic optimism from practical reality. I can point you to some flaws in the process you describe.

First, I am not sure where you are, but in the U.S. that process would produce synthetic diesel or jet fuel. Biodiesel is strictly the product produced from plant oils or animal fats in the FAME process. When I was in New Zealand I heard people calling synthetic diesel 'biodiesel', but the ASTM definition for biodiesel is quite specific to the oxygenated compound produced by FAME.

Second, the yields of synthetic diesel from biomass are generally only around half the BTU value of the starting biomass. A dry ton of biomass in practice will produce 35 gallons for a small system to maybe 60 gallons for the best systems using the cleanest biomass. The rest of the BTUs end up as heat and CO2. That isn't a theoretical limit, but is what is achieved in practice. (Moisture content is a very important component; this is why sewage sludge isn't gasified as an energy source).

Third, chicken litter isn't found in a concentrated mass close to sources of free heat for drying it. Even the largest chicken operations you are going to find aren't going to have available anywhere close to the volumes that the chickens excrete each day. It gets kicked around, scattered, mixed with dirt, etc. Once you gather up this water laden material and move it to a place where it gets dried, you now have a significant energy input into the process that will cut deeply into your net process efficiency. The most important aspect of biomass gasification is to have the biomass as close as possible to the facility to minimize transport costs. When you start considering the labor and energy required to gather, transport, dry, and process the chicken litter, you start to see the theoretical advantages of the process vanish into practical realities.

Fourth, capital costs for gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch are huge. Billions of dollars huge for scaled up systems (which are still far smaller than oil refineries).

I literally work on these problems every day, and wanted to let you know why people aren't out pursuing this seemingly good idea. It is the difference between theory and what really happens when you try to execute. For chicken litter, probably the best option is as others have suggested to digest it to biogas.

Thanks Robert for your attention and feedback.

In reality, if what you describe worked as you describe it, people would be doing it.

I believe that this hasn’t been done yet because ultra high temperature process heat from a nuclear reactor is not commercially available. There are material issues that make ultra high temperature process heat output from a reactor hard to do, but it is possible.

The Indians are doing it with their Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR) design. This liquid metal reactor is directed to the production of hydrogen using the sulfur hydrogen processing cycle, but it is easily adapted to heat molten salt. The CHTR output temperature is about 1100C.

Another reactor under development here in the US at Berkley CA is the Pebble Bed Advanced High Temperature Reactor (PB-AHTR). The output temperature is 704C and it is a molten salt cooled reactor. This reactor will be available someday soon as new reactors go.

It is possible to boost the output temperature of the PB-AHTR to 950C with supplemental heating.

Most people don’t realize that this type of reactor exists let alone how to use this reactor type for a chemical engineering application.

This reactor type will be very efficient maybe even 100% efficient at producing nuclear process heat and will be far more cost effective than a typical reactor application (33% efficiency) since no electrical production equipment is required. This electrical equipment: (generators piping, cooling towers…etc) is not required in a process heat application. This reduces the cost of the reactor by more than half.

First, I am not sure where you are, but in the U.S. that process would produce synthetic diesel or jet fuel. Biodiesel is strictly the product produced from plant oils or animal fats in the FAME process. When I was in New Zealand I heard people calling synthetic diesel 'biodiesel', but the ASTM definition for biodiesel is quite specific to the oxygenated compound produced by FAME.

I stand corrected. By doing more research, I think I found the correct name for the stuff I described: green diesel. Is this correct? Its definition is as follows: This biomass-to-liquid (BTL) technology converts biomass—predominantly cellulosic material such as certain grasses, waste plant materials or other plants—through high-temperature gasification into synthetic gas or “syngas.” And then uses a Fischer-Tropsch process to catalytically convert the syngas to liquid fuel.

Fourth, capital costs for gasification followed by Fischer-Tropsch are huge. Billions of dollars huge for scaled up systems (which are still far smaller than oil refineries).

The capital cost of the process heat reactor is just under $1/watt. So a $billon of up fount capital outlay will buy a nuclear plant that can process 20,000 tons of biomass per day. If the plant is well designed thermodynamically with lots of heat recovery and transfers between stages it may process even more.

Even the largest chicken operations you are going to find aren't going to have available anywhere close to the volumes that the chickens excrete each day.

Can’t chicken farming be reengineered to capture the waste in a pure state? The chickens are kept in cages during their entire lifetime. Just run a slow conveyor belt under the chicken cages and dump it into a box car or truck.

Second, the yields of synthetic diesel from biomass are generally only around half the BTU value of the starting biomass. A dry ton of biomass in practice will produce 35 gallons for a small system to maybe 60 gallons for the best systems using the cleanest biomass. The rest of the BTUs end up as heat and CO2. That isn't a theoretical limit, but is what is achieved in practice. (Moisture content is a very important component; this is why sewage sludge isn't gasified as an energy source).

Using nuclear process heat, no biomass feedstock is required to produce the high temperatures required for complete Pyrolysis to the gaseous state. This pyrolysis takes megawatts of power ("...the BTUs end up as heat and CO2..."). I can understand why there is a significant reduction of the bio feedstock to produce all that power. Won’t the abundant use of external nuclear heat eliminate this feedstock loss?

Tea Party climate change deniers funded by BP and other major polluters

BP and several other big European companies are funding the midterm election campaigns of Tea Party favourites who deny the existence of global warming or oppose Barack Obama's energy agenda, the Guardian has learned.

An analysis of campaign finance by Climate Action Network Europe (Cane) found nearly 80% of campaign donations from a number of major European firms were directed towards senators who blocked action on climate change. These included incumbents who have been embraced by the Tea Party such as Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, and the notorious climate change denier James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma.

Long article about tonight's 60 Minutes segment on the 99ers, those who have exhausted the maximum unemployment benefits:


Terrible. And even if the jobs picture improves, spending won't, because people who exhausted their savings and retirement need to rebuild those funds.

Seems like a lot of people would have been better off if they were less optimistic. If they moved in with family members or friends right away rather than exhausting their resources trying to save their house or stay in their apartment.

It would seem that we have two fast growing demographic groups--young people, most of whom in all likelihood will never experience the middle/upper class lifestyle, and the FWO's (Formerly Well Offs), those who have a very poor chance of regaining their middle/upper class lifestyles.

But as you suggested, I suspect that even at this late date that the prevailing conventional wisdom is still that this is just temporary situation, and a fast expanding economy and cheap plentiful energy will be back soon.

My 2¢ worth, from April, 2007:


In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus--against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

In particular, it seems two groups are being especially hard-hit. Young people, who can't get into the work force because of the job shortage, and because their elders aren't leaving it, and boomers near but not at retirement. People older than 50 have a really hard time getting hired again if they lose their jobs, because employers assume they'll be retiring soon. And if they cash out their retirement funds, they don't have much time to rebuild them.

But as you suggested, I suspect that even at this late date that the prevailing conventional wisdom is still that this is just temporary situation, and a fast expanding economy and cheap plentiful energy will be back soon.

Maybe a new reality is beginning to ease into the nation:
http://bit.ly/90JGRO ;-)

A short while back, Gail asked, essentially, "What should we do with what's left?".
Most answers addressed a scenario of immediate collapse and ran to "get your teeth fixed" and "horde PVC pipe couplings".
An earlier suggestion was "put up 12 passive sets of reflectors in orbit to replace the Global Positioning System, while we can still launch".
If the **** hits the fan tomorrow, yes, run and get your teeth fixed, etc.
If there is more TIME, and RATIONAL THOUGHT, then a broader field of action is available.
Is it too late to mine the solar system? Jupiter is a star that never lit. Asteroids of ores. Moons of methane. Streams of mining cargo robots?
Is it too late to perfect artificial photosynthesis?:
C6H12O6 is glucose, a carbohydrate, made from sun, water, and the carbon dioxide in the air.
CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-C-O is a fatty acid. It's similar to part of a bi-lipid cellular membrane.
CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3 is a hydrocarbon: diesel fuel oil, C16H34
We've already set global homeostasis into positive-feedback/thermal-runaway and fed the children's future to our corporations...
Is it too late to build nuclear like crazy to get 50 more years? Charge the consequences off to the kids? All 9,000,000,000 of them?
Today, to me, it looks like there is TIME: The oscillating peak plateau is presenting as being long and drawn-out.