Drumbeat: November 20, 2010

Ken Deffeyes: IEA on Board, Sort Of

"Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d, by 2020, but never regains its all-time peak of 70mb/day reached in 2006." —International Energy Agency

Make that 2005; then we're talking about the same planet. The implied IEA message is that the peak happened several years ago and the world didn't come to an end. Wayminnit. We are in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression and we don't know whether we can ever restore our earlier prosperity. My interpretation is that the 2008 crude oil price, $147 per barrel, shattered the global economy. The "invisible hand" of economics became the invisible fist, pounding down the world economic growth to match the limitations of crude oil production.

There Will Be Exports: America isn’t just an energy hog

The United States is known throughout the world as a pathetic energy hog. Americans’ insatiable need for gas and electricity plays havoc with trade flows (petroleum-related imports accounted for 38 percent of the trade deficit in September) and sustains hostile, undemocratic governments like those in Venezuela and Iran. But a funny thing is happening to the globe’s black hole of energy—it’s becoming an exporter.

Oil Has Biggest Weekly Decline in Three Months on China Bank Reserves Move

Oil fell, posting its biggest weekly loss in three months, after China ordered banks to raise reserves in a move that may slow growth in the world’s largest energy-consuming country.

Futures dropped 0.4 percent after China told lenders for the fifth time this year to set aside more funds to drain cash from the financial system and limit asset bubbles. Economic growth will spur a 9.5 percent jump in 2010 Chinese oil use, according to a Nov. 12 International Energy Agency report.

Oil May Rise as Prospect of Irish Bailout Eases Debt Concern, Survey Shows

Oil may increase next week on speculation Ireland will accept a European Union-led financial bailout, reducing concern the region’s debt crisis will spread, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Eighteen of 38 analysts, or 47 percent, forecast crude oil will climb through Nov. 26. Ten respondents, or 26 percent, predicted prices will fall and 10 estimated there would be little change. Last week, 43 percent said futures would rise.

BP Buys Second Jet Fuel Cargo; European ICE Gasoil Slumps: Oil Products

“There’s not enough gasoline flowing into ARA from Finland, Sweden, U.K. and France to meet the demand strength,” said Filip Petersson, a Stockholm-based commodities strategist at SEB AB.

Gasoline stockpiles in northwest Europe are about 22 percent below last year’s level, partly as labor unrest halted production at refineries across France in October.

China's largest oil refiner suspends diesel exports amid domestic market shortage

China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), China's largest oil refiner, said Friday it has suspended diesel exports to relieve shortages in the domestic market.

Sinopec also said it is seeking to import 200,000 tonnes of diesel.

Sinopec Trading Unit Hires Tanker to Ship Fuel to China From Rotterdam

China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the trading unit known as Unipec, hired a supertanker to carry fuel to China from Rotterdam, according to reports from two companies including Optima Shipbrokers Ltd.

Marseille Oil Port Set to Remain at `Mercy' of Labor Unrest, Deputy Says

Marseille’s oil terminals, Europe’s second-biggest hub for importing crude, will remain at risk of labor unrest because a government-led overhaul won’t go far enough to privatize operations, according to a lawmaker.

“A small group of about 30 union members has retained the power to block the oil port,” said Roland Blum, parliamentarian for the ruling UMP party and deputy mayor of Marseille in charge of economic development and the port. “This won’t change.”

Gasoline Refining Margins Double on Outages, French Strike

Refiners’ profit from turning oil into gasoline more than doubled this month as plants along the U.S. East Coast shut for repairs and imports from Europe declined in the aftermath of a French strike.

The return from processing crude into motor fuel, the so- called crack spread, fell to $10.72 a barrel today on the New York Mercantile Exchange after Hess Corp. said it finished repairs at its New Jersey refinery.

Britain's biggest gas store reopens Saturday after leak

(Reuters) - Britain's biggest gas storage facility, Rough, resumed supplies into the UK gas network on Saturday after shutting on Thursday because of a gas leak at the reception terminal, a spokesman for operator Centrica Storage said.

Higher gas prices should fall

Thanksgiving pump prices are certain to be the highest in three years, although a recent drop in oil should lead mean lower prices for drivers once the weekend road trips are done with.

Group suggests 10-cent gas tax increase

KEARNEY — Are good state highways worth motorists paying an extra $60 per year in fuel taxes?

A contractors group believes that higher state gasoline taxes would be a fair tradeoff to maintain and improve the state’s roads compared with the cost of neglecting them.

“Nebraska’s future rides on its roads. Economic considerations are critical for the whole state,” said Curt Smith of Lincoln, a one-time roads engineer and current executive director of the Nebraska Chapter of Associated General Contractors.

Power Ship To Supply Electricity-Starved Pakistan

The world's largest ship-based power plant will begin supplying Pakistan with electricity next month to try to mitigate the country's crippling shortages, a company official said Friday.

The new supply still won't come close to ending the energy crisis that plagues Pakistan, increasing widespread public frustration with the U.S.-allied government as it struggles to contain the Taliban insurgency.

We'll think about coal tomorrow

The future of coal generation in Russia is in question. The largest energy companies have abandoned their initial plans to switch their thermal power stations over to solid fuel. Experts think that the power-plant operators' unquenchable love for gas is not only destroying the coal industry, it is threatening the country's energy security.

Sen Landrieu Yields to White House on Offshore Drilling

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) has yielded in a high-stakes battle with the Obama administration over offshore drilling, allowing the White House's budget director to win confirmation in exchange for what she called a commitment to provide certainty to the oil and gas industry.

Giving up my car was best decision ever

I took this plunge I had dreamed of for decades, to be car free, more than a year ago.

Only luck prevented North Sea well blowout

Only luck prevented a major blowout in a North Sea oil well earlier this year similar to the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, Norway's oil safety watchdog says.

"Only chance averted a sub-surface blowout and/or explosion, and prevented the incident from developing into a major accident," the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said in a statement on Friday.

U.S. natgas rig count falls 19 to 936-Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States slid by 19 this week to 936, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

The gas-directed rig count, which has fallen four times in the last six weeks, hit 992 in mid-August, its highest level since February 2009 when there were 1,018 rigs drilling for gas.

The other way out

FOR years, international Cuba watchers have predicted two possible solutions to the island’s economic problems. The “biological solution” is the death of Fidel Castro. The “geological solution” is a major oil discovery in Cuba’s section of the Gulf of Mexico. Most have assumed that biology would win.

U.S. federal court sanction lawyers at Gibson Dunn for abusive questioning in Ecuador environmental contamination

A U.S. federal court has sanctioned Chevron and its lawyers at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for abusive questioning during a deposition related to the oil giant's multi-billion dollar liability in Ecuador for environmental contamination, according to court papers made available today.

The questioning that led to the sanctions was conducted by Andrea Neuman, one of Chevron's lead lawyers on the Ecuador matter and a partner at Gibson Dunn's office in Irvine, CA.

Shell declares force majeure in Nigeria after pipeline damage

Royal Dutch Shell on Friday declared a force majeure on its Bonny Light crude oil shipment in southern Nigeria after it observed a leakage on one of its pipelines, a company spokesman told Xinhua.

Nigerian army arrests militant gang behind kidnaps

(Reuters) - The Nigerian army has arrested a militant gang leader and more than 50 of his followers believed to be behind the kidnapping of 19 people in the oil-producing Niger Delta, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Greenbuild expo showcases new cash-saving products

A $6,500 home wind turbine, glass that helps prevent bird collisions, LED bulbs that could outlive their buyers and non-toxic paint that turns walls into dry-erase boards are among hundreds of eco-friendly products touted at this week's colossal Greenbuild expo in Chicago.

A great future is in store for us when we take the power

Richard Heinberg, senior fellow in residence at the Post Carbon Institute, spoke at the Harvest Festival recently about peak oil and its implications for our way of life. Although this subject can be a real downer, he was actually inspirational as he sounded a clarion call for the audience to help create the next major era in our world’s history.

George Soros on the green drivers of growth

There is an urgent need to start producing concrete results now, based on initiatives that deserve to be scaled up.

'Smart' electrical grids coming

BRUSSELS (UPI) -- Smart electrical grids that synchronize supply and demand will be a crucial weapon in the fight against global climate change, U.S. power industry experts say.

With global energy consumption expected to rise dramatically over the next 15 years, the European Union is among those moving to the new technology designed to use electricity more efficiently, EUobserver reported Friday.

Cost-Saving State Law Endangers Growth of Wind Industry

Chicago is the nation’s wind industry economic hub, home to about 80 wind companies from corporate headquarters to turbine component factories. Illinois has ample farmland well-suited for wind farms, and a law mandating that the state get at least 18 percent of its electricity from wind power by 2025.

But the byzantine process by which an obscure state agency decides where that wind power comes from has stalled development of new wind farms and threatens to curtail Illinois’s wind generation for years to come, experts said. A number of companies have new farms sited, permitted and ready to be constructed, but a complicated bidding process playing out through December could determine whether any of them are actually built.

Ethanol Fuel Tests on 2001-06 Vehicles Delayed Until December, EPA Says

Testing fuel with higher levels of ethanol in cars made for 2001 through 2006 has been delayed and now will be completed by the end of December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

The Energy Department notified the agency that the tests are incomplete, the EPA said today in an e-mailed statement, without elaborating. The agency will decide whether to let the cars use gasoline blended with as much as 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, after tests results are reviewed, the agency said.

BP may have bid for half of Cerradinho

BP may have offered 800 million Brazilian reals (Dh1.71 billion) for 50 per cent of the sugar and ethanol group Cerradinho, even as it seeks to raise up to US$30bn (Dh110.17bn) from sales of petroleum assets to pay costs related to its Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The putative deal could be BP's second in the biofuels sector since the catastrophic spill, highlighting the strategic role of biofuels in the company's alternative energy programme and of Brazilian biofuel assets in particular.

U.S. energy chief touts Japan's role in nuclear technology transfer

TOKYO — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday that Japan can play an important role in providing civilian nuclear technology to energy-hungry countries, while suggesting that the nuclear option can also go well with fighting climate change.

‘‘We see a number of countries that are looking towards nuclear as part of their energy security,’’ he said during a lecture at the University of Tokyo. ‘‘Japan has a major role in developing the technology.’‘

Debating the Climate Change Proposals In 'Cool It'

Needless to say, Lomborg's sentiment has been championed by conservatives and derided as dangerous by some scientists who believe that his argument only emboldens climate change skeptics. Here's what critics are saying about the film's arguments, and how Lomborg is actively responding to these charges.

Scientists Call for Nonpartisan Communication Initiative

A collection of high-profile scientists and communication experts are calling for the creation of a nonpartisan education service aimed at helping organizations and governments make informed decisions about climate change, the authors wrote in a letter published today in Science.

Latinos, Asians more worried about environment than whites, poll finds

California's Latino and Asian voters are significantly more concerned about core environmental issues, including global warming, air pollution and contamination of soil and water, than white voters, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll.

The Night of the Living Lawmakers

The left-leaning Center for American Progress has published a survey identifying those it terms “climate zombies” — people who question the science of global warming — who will be stalking the halls of Congress come January.

A Warning About Climate Change From a Departing Republican

An outgoing Republican congressman used a House science and environment subcommittee hearing this week as an opportunity to chide his party for its growing skepticism about the threat of global warming and to warn of missed economic opportunities in clean energy development if climate change is ignored.

What if Captured Carbon Makes a Getaway?

One leading solution to the problem to the fossil fuel emissions generated by a coal-fired plant is injecting it into underground storage areas thousands of feet below the surface, a technology known as carbon capture and sequestration. The Energy Department announced this summer that it would finance 15 separate projects to develop iterations of this technology.

But the technology may hold some unwelcome surprises if the carbon dioxide finds its way out and up to groundwater aquifers, a new study by Duke University researchers indicates. It could react with minerals there and increase levels of pollutants, perhaps so much that federal regulators would deem the water undrinkable, experiments suggest.

Need to speed up process of fighting global warming: Al Gore

Former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore has been spreading the message of climate change, but his own country the United States, which is the world’s second largest polluter, has failed to pass a law to fight global warming. He spoke to Chetan Chauhan on wide range of issues including the US's failure on this front.

China promises climate carbon reductions

BEIJING (UPI) -- China says it will "positively explore" new ways for low-carbon development to control greenhouse gas emissions for sustainable global development.

Under an announced five-year proposal, China will work to boost energy efficiency, promote low-carbon technology and establish carbon trade markets, the country's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

ANALYSIS-US seeks trust, not caps, in Cancun climate talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration, weakened by political setbacks, will likely limit its role in global climate talks this month to building trust with other big polluters rather than blazing an ambitious path on binding carbon emissions cuts.

New Yorkers Learn the Troubles Posed by Sea Level Rise Flow Far Beyond Manhattan

NEW YORK -- New York state is beginning to take the threat of sea level rise attributed to climate change seriously as a new government prepares to settle in next year.

Starting Monday, state officials in Albany will gather with members of the public to discuss a recently released 93-page report that recommends major changes to development planning and conservation along coastlines from the tip of Long Island all way up the Hudson River Valley.

Re: China promises climate carbon reductions

Lets see, China promises:

China will cut its carbon intensity by 40 percent to 45 percent by the year 2020 compared with 2005 levels, a target that would require "arduous efforts," Premier Wen Jiabao said.

If the Chinese economy grows at 5% a year over the next 9 years, it's economy will grow by 55%. But, China's growth has been booming along at 8%, which, if continued, would double economic output in 9 years. Given that China is adding a new coal fired electric generating plant roughly every week, this goal is going to be difficult to meet. Especially as oil use will need to be cut too, and burning oil releases less CO2 per BTU than burning coal. Of course, if the Chinese to for more nukes, they might also decide to build more electrified transport as well. Notice the other story today about China buying a cargo of oil from Rotterdam. Time will tell...

E. Swanson

This is very much in the spirit of GWB who would state stuff like, we will improve our carbon intensity by XX% in Y years. Where I suspect he just took the predictions of future carbon intensity under BAU, and then put them up as an ambitious sounding goal. Of course China's CI will improve (either that or the economy will collapse), they know they are close to peak coal. Maybe all those wind farms, solar panels, and hydro, are not being built because of a desire to go green, but because they know they will need all the power they can get.

Re: There Will Be Exports

Sigh. There really is no hope.


There is no hope for what ?

"Educating" the masses (who are in delusion). Or no hope for a growing global industrial civilization?

That is okay, either way.

Maybe we have been mostly in denial about those two subjects here on TOD. Maybe we have been mostly bargaining with Mother Nature, here on TOD.

It's interesting to look at the Consumption (C) to Production (P) ratios for US, coal, natural gas and oil (EIA). 100% marks the demarcation line between net exporter and net importer status.

C/P for 1998 & 2008:

Coal: 93% & 96%

NG: 117% & 114%

Oil: 203% & 229%

Because of an uptick in production, and a further decline in consumption, the C/P ratio for oil fell to 205% in 2009, and there was probably drop in the NG ratio too. However, I believe that the US is still a NG net importer, and we are still the world's largest net oil importer.

Regarding coal, there has been a recent uptick in net exports, but the longer term trend line shows us approaching net importer status. The C/P ratio in 1980 was 85%. The 1980 to 2008 trend line suggests that we approach zero net exports around 2020. EIA net coal exports chart through 2008:

It seems to me that there is an increasingly desperate effort in the MSM to persuade us that there is no inherent problem with a virtually infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base (e..g, recent NYT story).

However, I believe that the US is still a NG net importer, and we are still the world's largest net oil importer.

Here's the top 10 net importers of Natural Gas (IEA) in bcm. Multiply values by 35 for approx bcf.


All of this furor over the US exporting products and trumpeting it as evidence of oversupply is very amusing to me, as I noticed it when it was first happening in '07 and cranked out heaps o' graphs showing where the various streams were headed. Pundits are such dimwits, it would be quite a rush to really scream into this guy's face asking him whether he really thinks refiners and oil cos don't have a right to prop up their business model by sending their products to the most profitable markets they can find, simply to stay afloat. But No!

If I were the 'boss' of some of these other countries it would seem like a good time to step back and look at the economic situation of the US. If it were a business I would look at the US as a struggling customer. Increasing need for energy. Increasing need for loans. Increasingly a net importer. Increasing spending on internal social programs. To me it would look like a country run by a bunch of young irresponsible teenagers, who threaten to beat you up.
If the US was a customer of mine I would quietly put them COD, reduce my exposure by looking elsewhere for markets so that I have my foot in the door as the inevitable happens - default.
Those loans that cannot be repaid - won't be.

It seems to me that there is an increasingly desperate effort in the MSM to persuade us that there is no inherent problem with a virtually infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base (e..g, recent NYT story).

Just like they were telling us real estate values (and prices) would always increase, just a few years ago.
Why would anyone believe them now?

There Will Be Exports

Yes, there is no hope for some people. When somebody has a good delusional system going for them, there's no way to convince them they're wrong without chemical assistance. You have to put them on the right medication FIRST, and then explain to them the realities of the world.

Anyhow, while examining the claim that "the US is the Saudi Arabia of coal" (not true, Australia is the Saudi Arabia of coal), I discovered that Canada is the largest importer of US coal. We Canadians really need to stop doing that because, 1) Canada has huge coal reserves of its own and, 2) it's polluting the air, not only in Canada but the US.

The largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in North American is Ontario's Nanticoke power plant. It gets 100% of its coal from the US because Ontario has no significant coal deposits. Unfortunately, eastern US coal is high in sulfur and particulates, and Ontario's power plants have no real pollution controls. The choking winds and acid rain don't stop when they get to the US border, and there's the mountaintop removal thing in Appalachia as well.

Now, while the western US has huge reserves of low-sulfur, low-particulate coal, western Canada has huge deposits of the same (97% of Canada's coal is in the West). Unfortunately, it's too expensive to ship western Canadian coal to eastern Canada, which is why it goes to Asia instead. Western US coal only goes to the eastern US because of the stringent air pollution regulations in the US, which Ontario does not have.

Basically, Ontario needs to rethink its energy strategy, and quit importing high-sulfur US coal. Unfortunately Ontario's electricity system is a wonderland of failed energy strategies. They ran out of undeveloped hydro sites, their nuclear reactors developed cracks, and the current "hold hands and sing Kumbaya" renewable strategy is probably going to work equally badly. They just need to get on the right medication and THEN think things through.

Another possibility is to move the people where the energy is.

Having fished in Ontario, I do have to say that is unbelievable. Wild, remote, clean, pure... Fish on every cast (sometimes)... Too bad the currency is so strong these days. The USD doesn't go very far north of the border.

Another possibility is to move the people where the energy is.

Of course, that is an alternative which I could have mentioned, but it is one that upsets people in the eastern half of Canada. So naturally I'm going to launch into a monologue that will make them even more upset.

Canada was settled from east to west, and the majority of the people live in the east. People in Ontario think they are in "central Canada", but if you take a map and ruler and measure the distance from Toronto to the Atlantic Ocean at the closest point (New York City), and then measure the distance to the Pacific Ocean at the closest point (Seattle), you find that Toronto is six times further from the Pacific as the Atlantic. If you drive down the TransCanada Highway (TCH), somewhere just east of Winnipeg you will see a big sign that says, Longitudinal Centre of Canada.

This east-vs-west split is somewhat of a problem in that the vast majority of the heavy industry is in the eastern half of the country (east of the sign on the TCH), and the vast majority of the energy resources are in the western half (west of the sign on the TCH).

If Canada had been settled from west to east, it would have been quite different. Half the population would have ended up in British Columbia, and half the rest would have ended up in Alberta. Then things would have kind have dribbled out and Ontario would have about the population of Saskatchewan. Atlantic Canada would have almost nobody living there, most of them would be fishermen, and they would still have fish left, but let's skip over that issue. BC also has a monopoly on the good weather in Canada, so that would have been a major influence in persuading people not to move east.

Of course, that kind of thinking about east-vs-west makes eastern Canadians upset, and historically they preferred to pay people large amounts of money to stay in the east. From my perspective I find the current population distribution rather nice. We have a lot of resources in the west, and not many people competing for them. Eventually things will equalize and there will be more people living in western Canada than eastern Canada, but I hope to be long dead by that time.

If Canada had been settled from west to east, it would have been quite different.

I think that is a bit simplistic. Eastern Canada has mant seaports, going as far west a ThunderBay Ontario. Most of Canada's east has good connectivity to the Ocean, the west only has Vancouver, and traveling east from there very formidible mountains (far more formidable than anything in the lower 48) are encountered. It seems that
Quebec, and the Maritimes do have pretty good hydro resources, so once we make the conversion from using primarily stores of energy (FF) to flows, (water and wind mainly for Canada), the potential of the east is not seen to be inferior.

I think that is a bit simplistic. Eastern Canada has mant seaports, going as far west a ThunderBay Ontario. Most of Canada's east has good connectivity to the Ocean, the west only has Vancouver, and traveling east from there very formidible mountains

...speaking of simplistic. There is also Prince Rupert, which is a fine deepwater port with a first-class rail line to it, plus Kitimat and a host of other ports that have no rail connections. As Vancouver gets overloaded these other ports will grow. Their main problem is remoteness (and cold and rain).

Vancouver is the biggest port on the west coast of North America (the US west coast has nothing quite like it), because the Canadian Pacific Railway terminated its main line there. However, there are a number of other good ports in BC that could have been used if someone built a rail line to them.

Prior to the CPR, Vancouver was a small, obscure lumber town. The CPR also more-or-less created the cities of Calgary, Regina, and Winnipeg. The CPR was basically a real-estate development company that operated a railway on the side, although the railway was essential to its city-building ventures. It was an incredible technical challenge, but once the main line to the Pacific was finished, it turned into a cash cow that made its investors extremely rich. Opening up the vast resources of the Canadian west to development created an awful lot of wealth.

If Canada had been settled from west to east, the mountains would have acted as a barrier to settlement the other direction, which is why I say BC would have ended up with half the population of Canada. The hardy settlers who penetrated the mountain barrier would have piled up largely in Alberta because of the large quantity of farmland and energy resources there. Saskatchewan would have attracted some because of its immense amounts of grain-growing land. Once they got past Winnipeg and hit the Canadian Shield they would have largely given up because of the lack of farmland in the Shield. Winnipeg winters would also have convinced a lot of them to turn back.

The rest of the country would have been settled from the Atlantic side. Even today, the railways operate at a loss in the Shield (subsidized by the highly profitable western sections), and the TransCanada Highway is something you would only drive once to say you had done it.

You have no idea of the vast amounts of natural resources in western Canada. Most of the resources are undeveloped because there is no local market for them, and it is too expensive to ship them out to industrial areas. By comparison, eastern Canada is severely resource-constrained - but it has most of the industry. It's a serious disconnect that you don't find in other industrial countries.

Well actually Canada is in the middle of a 2nd immigrant wave and migration, and this time it is going from west to east.
And if (when) the US economy collapses, there will be a 3rd migration wave from south to north.

Anthracite? Where is all this anthracite? Anthracite production peaked in 1917 at 100 million tons per year. Now it's about 5 million tons per year. Total US production is about 1 billion tons per year. It's low ash and soot output and high cost make it suitable for special applications. It's too expensive for large scale electricity generation. Bituminous and sub-bituminous are the big noise in coal right now. Where does Newsweek find these people? Is there any hope of sending them back?

I call it CPS (Cornucopian Primal Scream) journalism. As noted above, it seems to be increasing of late. Two consistent themes: (1) We have near infinite supplies of fossil fuels and (2) Rising oil prices are due to speculation.

How are we to get solutions when the problem keeps being obfuscated. By the time these people shut up we will making human sacrifices to volcano's to restore petroleum.

D - maybe we're already there: making human sacrifices to IED's isn't much different than tossing them in a volcano.

IMO, the U.S. conquest and occupation of most of Afghanistan has nothing whatsoever to do with oil, except that it is fundamentally a war against both the Taliban (a religious war, in essence) and a war against Al Qaeda--the famous (or infamous) war against terror. When we invaded Afghanistan I predicted we would be there for thirty years. That is about how long it takes to fight a major religious war.

Except that Al Qaeda is in a war to take over Saudi Arabia, and enforce their even stricter version of Wahabi strict Sunni Islam.

And being bellicose, Al Qaeda (and the Taliban) will take the Sunni-Shia (read "Iran", a Shia Muslim state) conflict to even greater heights.

n.b. the strait of Hormuz is the chokepoint for 16.5+ Million bbls/day of crude/products from the mid-East. (in round numbers, 20% of world supply)

n.b. Shia in Saudi Arabia are 2nd class citizens.

The Iranians are funding Shia insurgents in Yemen, near another chokepoint, Bab-el-Mandeb - about 3 Million bpd.

The net of this is that we're helping to prop up the Saudi monarchy, because of ... uh, we like camels? uh, "House of Saud" sounds so cool? uh, playing global policeman is so much fun? uh, maybe oil?

There's also the case of the U.S. military-industrial complex wanting taxpayer money to burn.

More news on Canada's "Solar City":

HRM hopes sun shines on solar panels
Pilot project to target city homes

On some days, Halifax might not seem like Sunshine City.

But the municipality’s energy manager, Julian Boyle, wants to make it the first solar city in Canada.


The municipality is looking for about 800 homeowners to participate in a $5-million pilot project to install solar panels on their roofs for heating domestic hot water.

The city will provide the financing through the property tax system and also apply for any government incentives or rebates available.

The panels will cost about $5,000 installed, and homeowners then decide how much they want added to their property taxes each year to pay for them. Payback is expected to take five to 10 years, depending upon available rebates and interest rates.

The cost is expected to be less than the annual savings in energy expenses, Boyle said. He expects a homeowner to save $400 to $600 a year, depending on how much hot water is used

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1212995.html

Another sign of the times?

Green energy technologies can help cut costs of heating and running your home

Co-Op Energy is the new name for Co-Op fuels, a company that has been in business for the last 45 years. It has been delivering fuel oil to houses around the Maritimes for two generations but, with its new focus on providing "green" alternatives to traditional oil furnaces, seems almost to be in direct competition with itself.

"We started promoting solar (energy) about three years ago," says Mike, with a quick check to his partner Janet Cormier. After working together for the last 12 years, they rely on each other a lot. "And I like to say that Co-Op, the co-operative, is a company that is focused on the community, on the family and we do everything from dirt to table and in between."

And so yes, the solar panels, the heat pumps, the wind turbines, the hybrid water heaters, the pellet stoves... they will all reduce the ability of Co-Op Energy to sell their clients fuel oil.

"Our core is still furnace oil," says Mike. "Right now the alternative energy sources really are a small market, but we do stress energy efficiency in everything we do, even in burning fuel oil. This is just about us being able to show you more efficient options."

See: http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/homegarden/article/1314998


Bearing in mind that Halifax averages 196 fog days each year, if you can get energy savings on solar installations here, you can get savings anywhere.

Will be interesting to see how many people take up the offer.

At least the municipality is making an effort.

Quite true, Tom, and I've made mention of this fact in past posts as well. No question, it will be a tough nut to crack.

On a related note, my partners and I will be meeting with Julian Boyle, the city's energy manager, next week to explore opportunities to upgrade their various lighting systems. We anticipate the savings potential to be huge. This guy is a man on the move.


This guy is a man on the move.

This is a good thing. The world needs more people who think globally and act locally.

The onset of a hydro source of power on one hand and reduction in energy use on the other should improve regional efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint.

Being that the Harper government has killed legislation to hold Canada to green house gas reductions, acting locally makes sense these days.

Hi Tom,

Just to address this one point, based on NSP's 2009 generation mix, each kWh we save eliminates 0.840 kg of CO2(e), and each day of the year, our firm removes a further 10,000 kWh of demand from the system, or an additional 8.4 metric tonnes per day of CO2(e). The only disappointing aspect of my work is that I wish I could do more.

No more coal-fired power plants!


In cold, wet Halifax, with its 196 days of fog per year, I don't foresee a great opportunity.

I've experienced solar hot water in various country, most of them sub-tropical, and they never seemed to work out that well. Solar luke-warm water was the best it got, and that only in the afternoon on a hot day during the dry season. You could forget about having a hot shower first thing in the morning.

And on a related topic, whatever happened to the Sable Island offshore natural gas? Okay, it's a rhetorical question. I know they sold it all to the US so Americans could have hot showers.

Well, I confess I'm also somewhat sceptical but, hey, I've been proven wrong time and time again.

Turn back the clock twenty years and take a boo at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGXAGZsWclE

Clearly, even in fog-bound Nova Scotia, solar has some potential.


1) The solar hot water - was it evacuated glass tubes?
2) 'can't have a hot shower in the morning' - Part of the 'must be 24X7' line of thinking VS living within the cycles of actual life VS making a living off the dead.
3) A btu is a BTU - if the solar hot water moves the temp of the water up, that is less BTUs that need to be consumed for the final heating....a 80% solution is better than a 0% solution.

This Haligonian claims his solar system has reduced his DHW costs by about $60.00 per month.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2pQqicUeug

I take it this family uses a lot of hot water. Our 70-litre, 115-volt/1.38 kW cylinder consumes between 4.5 and 5.0 kWh a day -- about 150 kWh per month or $18.00 at current rates. For our frugal two person household, solar hot water would be of little benefit.


An extra 4.5KWh a day would double the electricity consumption for my four person family. My solar hot water gives me all the hot water I need in sunny hot England, for 6-9 months of the year. A 300 litre tank, well insulated, stays hot for 2 days. One cloudy day and I still have hot water.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from investing in solar if that's their wish. For us, it makes no economic sense and, as noted here before, our home is a poor candidate in any event -- it's oriented east-west, there are multiple dormers that punctuate the roof line and it's heavily shaded by mature trees. I have basically two choices: oil or electric, and I chose the latter because I purchase 100 per cent green energy from Bullfrog power (http://www.bullfrogpower.com/); enough to cover-off 120 per cent of our annual needs.


For our frugal two person household, solar hot water would be of little benefit.

Radiatnt floor heating - you could put the "excess" heat to use.

Hi Eric,

Well, as noted above, our home is not particularly well suited for solar; beyond the 196 days of fog each year as noted by Tom (that works out to be some six and a half month's worth!), the house has an east-west orientation, multiple dormers, and is heavy shading by mature trees year round. The following picture shows the roof line at the front:

We have in-floor radiant heat in the front hall, my office and bathrooms, but it's electric, and it would be difficult to retrofit a hydronic in-floor system without ripping out ceilings; moreover, the basement slab is uninsulated so heat loss on the lower level would be substantial. Lastly, we spend roughly $450.00 a year to heat our home now electrically, so it's hard to justify a huge capital expenditure, especially when the electricity we use is 100 per cent wind and low-impact hydro.


The orentation and roofline isn't "friendly" - but you can always add radiant panels to the walls :-)

Depending on the system you could spend $100+ a year on just running the pumps to move the hot water about.

Hi Eric,

It's possible but, again, I don't think the economics would be favourable. You can't see this from the above picture, but to the immediate right is a fairly steep embankment with a fairly dense growth of pine and spruce. This view from our kitchen window is looking due south:

I don't want to say there's no solar exposure on the south side, but it's very limited, especially during the winter months when the sun is low to the horizon.

Right now, we're averaging about 10,500 kWh/year with respect to total household usage (space heating, DHW, cooking, lighting, plug loads, etc.) and if I were to replace the older of our two heat pumps with a high efficiency Fujitsu, I might get that down to perhaps 9,000 kWh/year. A 1,500 kWh/year reduction would translate to be a $180.00 savings at current rates, or about an 8.0 per cent ROI on a $2,300.00 expenditure, so even that is difficult to justify dollar-wise.

I've already reduced our fuel oil usage by 98% and electrical consumption by 28% and, to be honest, I don't want to spend another cent on energy retrofits because the marginal return at this point is effectively nil. So, yes, solar is great and I would never discourage anyone from going this route if it's an appropriate choice, but it's not something that I will be pursuing myself, at least with this home.


1) No, hotels in sub-tropical third world countries tend not to have evacuated glass tubes. Normally you get a black plastic tank on the roof that soaks up heat from the sun.

2) I like a hot shower in the morning before I get started on my day. In a sub-tropical third world country, by the time afternoon rolls around you are looking forward to a cold shower, so the solar hot water thing becomes completely redundant.

3) Here in Canada, a BTU is a GJ. I don't understand British Thermal Units any more (it's been so long since we were a British colony), but my gas bill is in JG's.

While it is true that an on-demand hot water system could provide a nice boost to a solar luke-warm water system, it is also true that it can boost the glacier water that flows through my water lines to the precisely controlled temperature I like for my showers. Since the temperature outside here is 0 C (-18 F), glacier water is a big improvement over a roof-top solar system at the moment.

A BTU is ~kJ.
A mmBTU is a ~GJ.

did you mean 0 f and -18 c ? 0 c is 32 f..

That's right. 0 F is -18 C, which is what it is outside right now. -40 is -40 in both systems. Something to look forward to (it's not even winter yet).

1) No, hotels in sub-tropical third world countries tend not to have evacuated glass tubes. Normally you get a black plastic tank on the roof that soaks up heat from the sun.

And thus - the difference of position. The more expensive evacuated tubes are the price you pay for not having termites eat your building. (Aka - the freeze - thaw cycle at least keeps some of the bugs at bay.)

2) I like a hot shower in the morning before I get started on my day.

And we, the members of TOD like electricity and internet. Doesn't mean we get to have 'em in the future.

And we, the members of TOD like electricity and internet. Doesn't mean we get to have 'em in the future.

As I like to tell people who want to live "off the grid", I grew up "off the grid". It wasn't that much fun. Particular the early-morning runs to the outhouse at -40.

As long as I can have electricity, the internet, and hot showers in the morning, I'm going to have them. And as long as the two hydroelectric power plants in town keep humming away and the local natural gas fields keep producing, I think I can have them. If those fail, I could use the trees in the forest out behind the house for fuel, but the way things are going, I think the hydro and the gas might outlast the trees.

Solar is completely useless here. In mid-winter the sun rises above the mountain to the east about 10 am, and disappears behind the big mountain behind me at noon.

At -40, two hours of sunlight isn't enough solar energy to generate much hot water. Solar energy is more practical in tropical countries, but realistically, my house is more comfortable in winter than theirs are. And I don't need air conditioning in summer.

Having lived with a solar water heater in a subtropical area...no, you probably don't want a cold shower. Maybe a less hot one, but cold showers aren't comfortable.

However, showering in the evening rather than first thing in the morning seems to be common in tropical areas. Nobody wants to crawl into bed all sweaty, so you shower before bed rather than after getting up.

I lived with solar hot water heaters for several years. They all had an electric booster for winter. Basically, it's a 30 U.S. gallon electric tea kettle with an on/off switch. I used to turn on the booster when I got up in the morning. Then it was all ready for showers a half hour later. I kept it off the rest of the day, unless someone needed a late shower. Otherwise, you're back in the money drain of keeping water warm with electricity. The washer and dishwasher both had internal water heaters (Italian, good stuff!) As for washing little faces before bed, tepid water was fine.

We've been working with our local city on energy savings and recovery in their infrastructure. Had a quick look at the topography of Halifax and unfortunately there is not a lot of elevation difference to capture some natural potential energy.

However, here's a few ideas from the Techno-Genie if you haven't tried them yet:

1. Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) replacement micro generation by Difgen. Installed as a by-pass on an existing PRV it will generated electricity while reducing the pressure from the water storage.

2. Sewage treatment plant aeration blowers. If the plant is using centrifugal multi-stage blowers, they can be replaced with high speed turbo blowers. We've just started an energy efficiency study on this to prove out the kWh savings, but our preliminary calculations show significant results. Since you're on the other side of the world, I can share some of this with you when we are complete.

3. Sewage treatment gas recovery. There are many good reasons for doing this such as lower GHG release, smell abatement, and energy generation or heating.

We find that as organizations take on these type of energy projects they naturally evolve their paradigm into energy awareness and look for other efficiencies. The notion of energy production and use becomes much more immediate.

Please consider The Humble Worm when discussing sewerage.
Remember that we are also approaching peak Phosphorus.

Besides, the output from vermiculture sells for $50 a kilo to "tomato" growers.

Also from the Techno-Genie, check out the phosphorous reclamation technology for sewage treatment facilities.


I'm not really in the technology-will-save-the-world camp, I'm more of the work smarter not harder variety.

Thanks, BC; much appreciated. I'll print these resources and pass them along to Julian when we meet. Our firm's focus is strictly lighting, but I know the city is aggressively pursuing all options.

BTW, with a 10 per cent hike in commercial rates come the new year (the seventh rate increase in the past nine years if I recall correctly), some of our lighting proposals that went dormant are suddenly springing back to life. There seems to be a growing realization that electricity rates will escalate above the rate of inflation for the foreseeable future, and folks who were not all that receptive for whatever reason are starting to call us back. (I try not to be too smug when they do, but it does bring a smile to my face.)


Those PRVs are cool. Is there anything which is micro-nano sized? I run a one inch pipe from my pond to the garden, about 200 feet of elevation. I already have solar, so I could water with sprinklers overnight, most of the time, and plug this into the system. I have lots of water.

"Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d, by 2020, but never regains its all-time peak of 70mb/day reached in 2006." —International Energy Agency

I just love bureaucratic bafflegab. An "undulating plateau" is just coded language for the part of the curve after the peak, the part where it is just starting to decline but the decline hasn't gotten steep yet to be readily perceptible.

That's the part that is missing from the analysis, "and after 2020, the decline starts to get steep".

Bureaucratic bafflegab with baffleslides.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but their "undulating plateau" rests upon a lot of yet-to-be-developed/yet-to-be descovered oil.

So the decline starts to get a lot steeper a lot sooner than anticipated.

That is maybe a good thing. The faster the collapse, the less resources wasted and less waste produced.

No nations show any sign of changing anyway. It is like the article above - "The other way out" :

For years, international (Peak Oil) watchers have predicted two possible solutions to the island’s economic problems. The “biological solution” is the (collapse of civiization)...

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but their "undulating plateau" rests upon a lot of yet-to-be-developed/yet-to-be descovered oil."

OK :-)

One oil field has a well defined peak. (Ignoring transport-limited fields like Prudhoe Bay.)
A great many oil fields of various sizes and production rates, some coming on and some shutting down, all summed together do not peak at the same time. The curve broadens out, and the peak flattens.

The Length of the plateau depends on the yet-to-be-developed/yet-to-be descovered oil, but the existence of the plateau does not. It's a function of statistics.

I understand the "various fields and production rates."

But percentile of confidence are they using for the probabilities that those yet-to-be-developed/discovered fields produce at a rate to sustain the plateau until 2020 or whenever?

CERA used the same models the past decade and has been consistently and statistically wrong ;)

If there's anything worse than squabbling with your siblings over who gets mom and dad's house, it's finding out it has to be sold to pay off their credit card debt.

Dying With debt: A dirty little retirement secret

Retired Americans are racking up credit-card debt like never before, be it for vacations or medical expenses, and a surprising number have no intention of paying it off before they die.

Nearly 40% of retired Americans said they've accumulated credit-card debt in their twilight years — and aren't worried about paying it off in their lifetime, according to a survey released by CESI Debt Solutions.

Just found out the health insurance costs at my wife's work is going up again. Only good thing is the company is picking up 90% of the new costs. The out of pocket max is jumping from $1500 to $3000 for the family plan (company picks up 90% of that increase). Policy runs about $300/month (includes dental).

These plans are basically turning into what I would call "catastrophic coverage". Basically you need to have serious injury/disease/etc before the insurance company starts paying out (outside of covered yearly check ups).

My brother was telling me his house insurance is changing its coverage. I didn't get the specifics, but basically if a hail storm damages part of your roof, they are only covering the part damaged, so you need to come up with the rest should you have to replace the whole roof (new shingles on only part of the roof makes no sense).

Sounds like you have cheap costs and good coverage. My husband's policy went from 666.00 per month
with a 2,900 annual deductible to $795 per month with same deductible. This is individual coverage
for ONE person. He's not a sick person - only takes a mild blood pressure med.

Good for mom and dad. Why leave the kids anything?

Why leave the kids anything?
So we can help their grandkids. Mom never knew it, but she just came up with the downpayment for her graddaughter's house. She did know she was buying PV for her grandsons, tho.

That seems to be the attitude of our industrial culture - spend the inheritance now, let the kids figure out how to power down with what is left later.

Livin' the reality right now. Although my parents inherited a nice little sum from my grandmother's passing, they are intent on blowing it all. Sad really. It seems the Boomers en mass have some form of arrested development.

On the other hand, I am working towards leaving my kids a company with multiple small hydro installations throughout the region. The gift that keeps on giving.

"And the BC_EE's shall inherit the earth..."

Your's is the culture I hope carries on.

We raise our kids in this culture and we wonder why they turn out the way they do...

My wife and kids wonder why we have to raise chickens when it costs more (time, energy and money) than it does to buy eggs from the store...

There are many days when I say quietly to myself, "sigh, there really is no hope" ;)


My grandma left the 8 of us kids around $7500. She left my brother a bunch more (house, $$$, who knows what else/he was the favorite). My brother sold his house (nice city home) and bought a Mcmansion in the country, he'll never recoup the money on that box. Only good thing is its on a few acres of land. My grandma would not be happy considering all that money was probably gone in a year. I bought a nice bike and took a trip :)

My Dad didn't leave us anything, because his Will mysteriously went missing and his wife shacked up with his best friend.

I'm not bitter. :|

Not sure if it's that simple.

You see, the individuals who save and accumulate fiat currency may be even more deluded. If the system is rotten, it actually makes some sense to go into debt and have some fun or acquire tangible goods.

I choose to be a saver and accumulate gold and silver, insulating myself both from debt as well as inflation/currency devaluation.

"If there's anything worse than squabbling with your siblings over who gets mom and dad's house, it's finding out it has to be sold to pay off their credit card debt."

If mom and dad were wise enough to get the reverse mortgage first, then max the credit cards, the credit card companies will get stiffed.

All you and your siblings have to do is look the debt collectors in the eye and tell them that you are not responsible for your late parent's debt. Of course, when enough banks get stuck, they will pull the strings of their congress critters, and debt will once again become inheritable, just like feudal times.

"If mom and dad were wise enough to get the reverse mortgage first, then max the credit cards, the credit card companies will get stiffed."

Yeah, but with morals like that, they had better hope stories of heaven and hell are just stories.

The same thing is true about this generation to the next generation about crude oil though seldom considered in this way: "Screw em, let them find their own oil."

Also consider the reverse mortgage. Those RMs started before early 2008 are already under water and the house is now owned by HUD who insured the loan. The actual transfer will not occur until both seniors leave the house for nursing homes, death or whatever new plans arise. But the seniors have a lot more money to spend (essentially 60% of their home equity) in their later years. Those after 2008 are not near as lucrative as before because the home appraisal is much less.

Dying with your credit cards maxed out and no equity in your home anyway is "sticking it to the man". They may not remember what they had for breakfast but there is some sort Ann Rand-ish poetic justice there.

Alright here we go!
Norway's hydro reservoirs (power generation) are already drained down to almost 60% of capacity - a whopping 20% less than median for the last 20 years - and that level is on par with all time low for the period 1990-2007. Whatever precipitation coming form now on until late spring is most certainly in the form of snow, doing nothing at all to mitigate the severity of the situation.
Last week electricity spot prices spiked 10% just giving a lead omen to what's in the coming ...... forward contracts for January already rose 20% during this week. Next week is supposed to be dry and bone-cold.
Hopefully the Swedes get their act together so that their nukes are up to mark-capacity during the worst shivering months of the winter- this all is 'bad planning' to say the least.
Norway has 2 nat_gas stations that hopefully will run flat out, for G**ds Sake, Norwegian households need their annual 20.000 Kwhrs to thrive.
... so you Brits better get hold of some fluffy sweaters, before rather than later.

Chart is describing hydro_el_power_dam_fillings All Norway.

Link to interactive chart

Why are the reservoirs so low? Very dry year? Several moderately dry years in a row? Some other reason?

Short answer, a very dry fall..

- We are currently leaking on both ends. The dry and cold weather means that we do not get new supplies into our water reservoirs, while we use a lot more power than usual, says market analyst Johan Olav Botnen in the market to E24.
He also goes on to say that if this weather keeps up for another few weeks the el_price will explode ....... (shiver)

>> from this article ( http://e24.no/naeringsliv/article3912264.ece , use translator norwegian >> english for full content)

I notice a couple of days ago UK National Grid announced they would no longer be publishing the storage level daily spreadsheets. However the information will still be downloadable in raw form. This means the scary bottom line "Days Before Breach at Average Withdrawal" will no longer be displayed and you'll have to calculate it yourself. Last year the winter ended a few days before our storage did. For reasons I am not sure of we have lower storage levels than I would have expected going into this winter. Also see the story up-top about a temporary shutdown of Rough storage injection following a "gas leak" over the last few days. We really don't want to lose that for an extended time in the middle of winter.

Hope you guys can keep the Langeled pipeline up. Although I guess if you're sitting in the freezing dark yourselves that might not be the highest priority...


It's an important enough issue I would consider setting up a databrowser with daily updates showing the UK National Grid data with a couple of visualizations. Can you point me to the raw data?


(For comparison, our NYMEXFutures databrowser is also updated daily.)

The National Grid data is almost real time (literally flow data up to the last minute) although some storage values are only updated daily (but you can calculate from grid flow) data at http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Gas/Data/EFD/

There's a data explorer at http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/DataItemExplorer.aspx
See also link to Report Explorer at same page.

And a handy graphical Prevailing View at http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/frmPrevalingView.aspx

The one thing that's being removed is the daily spreadsheets with their own internal charts. The charts will still be displayed on Prevailing View. - Just not with the scary words about "Breach" that appeared in the daily spreadsheet. However the chart is scary enough. See Bloomberg's version at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quote?ticker=UGASLSL:IND and note how close we got to zero last year. Also note we are starting from a lower storage level this year.

Thanks for all the links. It looks like the data visualization space is pretty well covered then.

Please keep us updated on the evolving situation.

Some other reason?

Try global warming!

Forecast: global warming may bring giant drought

Thanks to glob­al warm­ing, the Un­ited States and many oth­er pop­u­lous coun­tries face a grow­ing threat of long, harsh drought in the next 30 years, a new study in­di­cates.

If the pro­jec­tions “come even close to be­ing real­ized, the con­se­quenc­es for so­ci­e­ty world­wide will be enor­mous,” said Aiguo Dai of the U.S. Na­tional Cen­ter for At­mos­pher­ic Re­search in Boul­der, Co­lo., who con­ducted the re­search.

Bold mine. The point is that we will not have to wait a century of so to feel dramatic effects from global warming. It won't be rising seas that cause us the misery but dramatically changing weather patterns.

Ron P.

The point is that we will not have to wait a century of so to feel dramatic effects from global warming.

I believe those are Hansens observations, sir.

He told us that Australia's King Coal will come up against a mightier Giant within 10 years, who would shut it down.

Still, one year does not make a climate. But blind Freddy can see the trend.

This past August there was a scary drought here. No rain for more thana month. Wells went dry. Vegetables prices exploded. People started to look worried and I became depressed seeing dead brown trees and bushes.

And it seems the problems were all over the globe. Family in MD had high temps (over 90F) for 50 days.

I began to think that the climate change problems are going to be worse than PO---because water is necessary and having a normal rainfall pattern would mitigate PO by letting people start farming.

No such luck. People and their machines have maxed out nature and now are just hanging on to the threadbare BAU and trying not to think about the future too much.

Patently Global Warming will mean more evaporation and more rain! I am not saying that there will not be droughts in places, but as overall rainfall will increase, this should also mean some serious flooding in other places!

Patently Global Warming will mean more evaporation and more rain!

This is being borne out. Absolute hummidity (the amount of water vapor in the air) has increased about 4%. The currently accepted projection is 7% per degree C of warming. The thing that I found surprising is the distribution of precipitation events is changing. Fewer days of rain, but the heaviest storms are getting a lot more potent. The explanation seems to be:
(1) At least outside the tropics, reduced pole to equator temperature difference means weaker jetstream yielding fewer storms. But the big storms obtain a lot of energy from the moisture in the air, which allows them to suck in still more moisture laden air. So it seems we are going to be seeing both more drought, and more floods.

Norwegians find it a good idea to have always on sub floor heating in their entry halls and bathrooms.... feels nice, you walk in the bathroom and the floor is toasty warm. That's just one area, they grow cucumbers year round using artificial lighting, I'm sure there are many other items of luxurious waste on that list that if corrected would bring those water levels right back up to normal.

Just like Venezuelans like to have air-conditioning and massive population growth, the latter of course being the true cause of their hydro shortages.

I agree that 1.6% population growth is too high (I would happily see -0.01%) and I would add that maintenance on the Guri might not be first rate, making droughts a larger problem than they have to be.

But I have to say that in Venezuela air conditioning can be necessary sometimes.

I have lived for three weeks at more or less 5°C with the only hot water being boiled on the stove and it wasn't too bad. You wear more clothes and wash quickly, hot drinks can help. In fact I think I got used to it.

But this year when I spent a month at more or less 30°C I didn't get used to it, I suffered more as time went on. My feet and hands started to swell, and I couldn't sleep. We went through about 125L of drinking water a week for 2 adults. There was a moment when I realized that I had been sweating continually for 5 days.

We ended up getting a 5000 BTU air-conditioner. It's so small it takes about 6 hours to cool the bedroom down, but that doesn't matter, we positioned the bed directly in front of the air-conditioner so that the cool air blows onto the bed.

I think that without iced water and a heavy duty fan at the very least I would not be able to survive in Valencia, Venezuela. I would have to move to a higher altitude or leave.

It's easy to sit around criticizing Norwegians for eating cucumber in winter, or Venezuelans for using air-conditioning, but I suspect that if/when the power goes out we will be back to historic population levels quite quickly.

People lived in those places before there were greenhouses or air conditioners. Perhaps after a few years (or generations) it becomes normal. I used to date a girl from Nicaragua. She said it was normal for families to have a servant or family member who did nothing but laundry because people changed clothes several times a day.

jjhman, thank you for pointing out the blatantly obvious fact that people lived just fine without air conditioners prior to the present. Just as they lived just fine without heated floors etc. One thing they did do was however to physiologically as well as culturally adapt to their local environments, in other words, the idea you could just live where-ever you felt like, in whatever style or manner you felt you deserved, just because.. well because that's what you want, really did not exist prior to... well, I guess prior to air conditioners, in fact, now that I think about it.

Norwegians from just I'd say, maybe 50 years ago, probably consumed something like 10% of what modern ones do. And the current batch of Norwegians are supposed to be 'smart', 'rational', people.

It never ceases to amaze me to see how people assume the current bubble consumption pattern we grew up in has anything to do with normalcy or even desirability. In other words, if it happened more than 60 years ago it doesn't exist, only what is in our recent, very recent, past, can be used to judge any future.

I'll reread some of my history and anthropology, but I am fairly certain that the Incas, Mayans, Yanomami, Apache, etc, were living without air conditioners. And many eskimo groups I think managed to live without heated floors. Heck, even my grandparents lived just fine without heated floors and year round cucumbers, they just canned and had a root cellar. Nice house too, I was was in it, much nicer than the new energy sinks their grandchildren live in now.

Now this doesn't mean you can live anywhere, lots of places probably should never have been settled or inhabited by humans, the central california valley for example in parts was a bug infested swamp land that the natives avoided like the plague, from what I understand. So maybe we weren't meant to live everywhere. I already, for example, know I could never handle the heat of Venezuela, that's why I don't live there, though I've had plenty of opportunities to do so, none, by the way, which included going to stay in air-conditioned houses, strangely enough, guess some people there live fine in open/netted houses that the wind blows through, or something. I just don't think I should live somewhere where my body type does poorly, not a complicated idea in my opinion.

Saying something like 1.6% population growth makes for example Venezuela sound all fine, but their population has I believe quadrupled since the 60s. That's when the dams were built I believe, give or take. In other words, the dams and their hydro capacity are just fine, the problem is the number of people using that capacity.

Google has a nice tool to help avoid the fantasies small numerical growth rates can foster. That's ... 7.5 million in 1960, probably close to the max long term carrying capacity, and 27.5 million today. Not quite 4x increase, close though.

That's true, but I also think it's worth noting that much of today's housing (at least in the US) is based on cheap HVAC. It was air-conditioning that drove the surge of population along the Gulf Coast. Sure, some people lived there before, but it wasn't a place popular among people who could afford to live elsewhere. In addition, homes were built for the climate. Now, they aren't. They just assume there will be air-conditioning.

There used to be a lot more thought given not only to the design of a house, but its location. In the northeast, houses were often sited partway up a hill, on the lee side. That protected the homes from winter winds, and kept them above the cold air on the valley floor. Now, people want houses on top of the hill - for the view.

The Yanomamo built their villages away from the river, even though it meant a long schlep for water every day. Too many bugs by the river. We'd build by the river for the view, then seal the house to keep out the bugs, and probably spray them as well.

And don't forget the predicted rise in 'wet bulb temperature':


It is possible that life without AC or other cooling strategies will become necessary to maintain human life in many of the currently most densely populated areas of the earth.

If humidity is 100% and the air temperature rises above body heat then there is a risk of drowning. The lungs cool the air to body heat and water condenses in the lungs. There is a cave within a mine, here in Mexico, that has some fantastic crystals in it. The only way to explore it is with suits filled with cold gel and taking your own supply of cool, dry air. If people enter the cave and try and breath the atmosphere then their lungs start filling with water, ISTR a couple of people died like that.


Our AC did not work this summer. It was incredibly humid and hot (nothing record breaking) with many nights where the temp did not drop below 70F. At one point the tstat read 88F in the living room. It was no fun. I could easily deal with temps down into the teens (outside) then i could with humid conditions with temps 85F+... I know that the central air will be replaced by spring...i will not go through that garbage again.

But this year when I spent a month at more or less 30°C I didn't get used to it, I suffered more as time went on. My feet and hands started to swell, and I couldn't sleep. We went through about 125L of drinking water a week for 2 adults. There was a moment when I realized that I had been sweating continually for 5 days.

I think I just sweated continually for 5 months:) I suspect that humidity was more of the culprit than heat. Did you drink just water or electrolyte? In those sort of conditions you loose a lot of salts and unless you keep a balance then swollen extremities are a possibility (could be a heart/circulation issue so maybe a word with the doctor may be an idea). Gatorade is high in sugars and low in Potassium, better drink WHO recommended solutions. I buy the local sachets of powders that make up with a litre of water. Sipped slowly they make a big difference. Plain water can just go straight through or leave you bloated. A powerful fan can add to the dehydration and loss of salts.

There are reasons why people in such climes sleep on tiled floors, in gardens, hammocks and have flat roofs :) I went this rainy season without A/C and slept on the balcony, way more comfortably than the room. Also the siesta makes up for a shorter sleeping night and avoids exertion at the height of the heat. I think I have gained tolerance to the heat and humidity of the rainy season over the years. A few years ago I would have been covered in heat rash but now I can sweat it out much better. Good control of hydration with electrolytes is a huge help. If you do not keep salts levels under control you need to get to a doctor and get a couple of litres of hydration fluid into you STAT.



Funny you should mention this. Last night I was doing a some reading on Norway's hydro production. I never realized that almost 100% of the electricity there comes from hydro.

Is electric heat common in Norway?

Norway should just tap that $300 billion oil fund and throw in a couple of nuclear reactors.

yes- el_resistant_heating is still the main heating-source in Norway, it's a flaw coming from another time when electricity was dirt cheap.
Authorities and voters are still in disarray concerning what to do about it- and we actually know it is a really silly way to use hi-grade power.I guess a few harsh and expensive winters will speed things up a little bit. We have no build-out infrastructure to utilize nat-gas... but I guess Europe is quite happy with that- :-)

Paal, my 2-cents. I don't know much about Norway other than a novel I read in grade school about kids escaping the Nazi's with some of the country's gold wealth strapped to their sleighs. But if I were to map out an immediate plan using the nice little sovereign fund Norway has tucked away, it would be developing small scale biomass gasification and electrical generation, and then using the exhaust heat for community heating systems.

Kill three birds with one stone. Alternative industry for logging operations, increase electrical production, and decrease electrical consumption. Win-win-win. Oh, and there is an exportable product also - just in case they get tired of all that oil and gas exportation.

I know this doesn't help with the immediate problem, but maybe some people will get serious about it while shivering this winter. If anything, for some good ol' Scandinavian rivalry - the Finns are doing it.


Check out a show called "New Scandinavian Cooking" on PBS here in the US. Its based in Norway. The country is gorgeous, people are good looking, good foods... I would imagine what you are suggesting would work well in their country. They seem like a very smart people (and very rich) so i doubt they have much to worry about.

Steinbeck 'The Moon is Down' ??

The Moon Is Down is a great book about Nazi occupation, but I think the book he is referring to is Snow Treasure.


I remember it fondly from Elementary School also.

You must be right.. I misremembered that one pretty good!

I did read snow-treasure, it seems. The outline is very familiar.

I suppose that the fastest way to shift to more NG consumption would be to construct NG gas fired power plants and use the existing electrical grid.

Actually we have a couple of those nat_gas stations, even one mobile unit capable of 150 MW. I believe the majority of Norwegian natgas is already 'contractually sold', thus not available to ourselves.... if you like :-)
Also in our parliament the tune is like 'no more hikes in the levels of CO2 emittings shall ever occur from Norwegian soil'. A double inverted Catch 22 in other words.

We already have some piped communal heating systems - and more are in progress.
But these are for the most part suppling office and industrial buildings/areas. Such systems are extremely expensive to put in place as a retrofit solution.

The Norwegian government's position regarding C02 seems a bit perplexing. What is the difference between Norway burning the gas and Continental Europe burning the gas?

As an energy producer(flaring, etc), Norway produces large amounts of CO2 and they don't want that to get any worse. They produce almost double the rate for neighboring Sweden but the same as coal burning Denmark.


And once again, what difference does it make (to global CO2 levels) if Norway burns the gas versus Continental Europe burning the gas?

WT there is no difference at all, but as I imply above our natgas production is already "promised N' sold". There it sits.

'Your argument' is already wrapped and hammered a hounded times already in media/political circles, without things going anywhere further than the two already mentioned natgas plants..

The logical thing would be to install backup NG power plants, along with the pipeline infrastructure, for use during periods of low water levels. Regarding contracts, that is why lawyers invented force majeure.

Actually our two natgas plants are just that - peak / backup plants, and they better start them up yesterday !
As for claiming 'force majeure' , I'm not sure how Europe will react to that one ...... maybe a 'Reverse Viking Age' or some such Pay Back...

westtexas, with all due respect to your stellar reputation, the logical thing for Norway to do, given especially that Norwegians pride themselves on being rational, would be to make sure they do not consume more energy than they can sustainably produce. They have awesome hydro capacity, all they need to do is use less on ridiculously wasteful and decadent energy consumption patterns. The absolute worst, least logical thing for Norway to do, would be tie their future into a declining resource, that is far better sold to suckers who are willing to tie themselves into a radically non sustainable mode of development and energy consumption, ie, to make backup NG power plants.

Norway is one of the very few countries on the planet that can actually achieve such a goal, so it would radically illogical for them to pursue any other goal, given their unique positioning re hydro being able to power their entire electrical needs, if they just don't waste it on frivolous nonsense.

Norway should build up their nest egg and watch as the rest of the world makes the huge mistakes that locking your future into gas or coal clearly are at this point in history. The only rational course is consuming less, then next year less, and targeting less even more so for the following years. Anything else is insanity.

Too many of my family there are living in USA style two, three story houses, open, electrically heated, have > 1 car per family, and simply waste a monstrous amount of energy. There is nothing except size and excessive consumption gained, I saw the old ways, and have seen the new, and the new are worthless in terms of quality, all they do is consume quantity. Nothing would be lost by stepping back from such nonsense.

We have no build-out infrastructure to utilize nat-gas... but I guess Europe is quite happy with that- :-)

I would consider that to be a "feature" not a bug. Using NG for low grade heat instead of highgrade energy (electricity) should be declared a crime against thermodynamics. Second only to electric resistance heating of course. Paul's air source heat pumps would sound like a really good fit. I don't think Norway gets particularly cold, so hopefully the efficiency of airsource units should be good.

Actually various heat pumps are rising stars in Norway- and as you imply the efficiency rate is very good, particularly along the coast where most people live.

When I was visiting Norway, I thought it was irrational for Norwegians heat their houses with electricity when they have so much North Sea natural gas. I suppose it saved the cost of building natural gas pipelines all over the country, but in the long run it would be better than heating houses with expensive electricity.

Natural gas is extremely efficient for heating a house. In my place in the Canadian Rocky Mountains I have a 95% efficient natural gas furnace. It has a heat exchanger that takes the heat out of the exhaust gas and puts it into the house air. The exhaust gas temperature of the furnace is so low that I don't need a chimney. I can vent the combustion exhaust out the side wall of the house using plastic pipe.

I also have wood heat and electric heat, but natural gas is the easiest, most efficient way. I use wood heat when I want to sit in front of a nice fire in the fireplace, and electric heat is nice in the bathroom floors but too expensive for normal use. If one heating system fails, I can heat the entire house with either of the other two.

Actually Norwegian cities (at least) had a nat-gas infrastructure supplying (going into) private houses/apartments up until the 1960's or so. After that hydroelectricity became abundant and cheap, so all sorts of appliances became driven by electricity... hot-water, stoves, owns, heating ... you name it ... electricity ran it. And for the most part it still does.

We know this must change because our el_bills will convince us. We are just not there, not yet.

US use natural gas to generate electricity and it is very inefficient to use this electricity for heating but Norway use hydro for electricity. Electric heaters use a cable so it is also expensive and time consuming to change heating system. Some of the gas for example from snøhvit is located very far to the north far away from any large cities. The cities in Norway are also relatively small and for example Oslo is located far away from any gas field.

When I was visiting Norway, I thought it was irrational for Norwegians heat their houses with electricity when they have so much North Sea natural gas. I suppose it saved the cost of building natural gas pipelines all over the country, but in the long run it would be better than heating houses with expensive electricity.

It may be that producing electricity with the NG and using heat pumps (probably ground loop) would be more efficient than actually burning the gas directly for heat. I had an engineer friend make this assertion, but I haven't seen the figures. Saving on building gas pipelines would be additional saving.

Anybody care to shoot this down? support it?

Anybody care to shoot this down? support it?

NG to electricity is typically about 50% efficient. The best plants can do about 65%. The heat pumps deliver more than 2BTUs of heat per BTU of electric input, maybe Paul can bring some statistics, it will depend upon the model, and how cold it is outside.

{I usually make it to Decmeber before turning on the heat here, but we are having an unseasonably early long cold rainstorm (in fact it is 49F with the only lightening of the entire year going on right now.) I guess we are getting soft in our (almost) old age, I've got it up to 64F. I'd love to have a heatpump, but our gas heat runs roughly $200 per year, and it just wouldn't pay.}

What are the implications for Denmark? I know Denmark is using Norway for backup power for its wind generators, and if Norway doesn't have enough hydro power to provide backup, what does Denmark do when the wind doesn't blow?

Rocky, your guess is better than mine :-)
I reckon all Scandinavia is in for a reality check over the next few years.... Denmark is probably linked to Germany as well.

The real-time activity/flows of the Nordic Nordpool Interconnectors can be viewed here. Click the 'FLOW' tab to see power flows right now.
There is a lot of info on their site. There is also a HVDC-link between Norway and Holland not shown in the chart, there are talks of a similar link towards the UK.(God forbid , or...is this maybe egocentric ?)

From Ken Deffeyes: IEA on Board, Sort Of, up top:

The "natural" price for natural gas is based on the energy equivalence to oil. Burning 6000 cubic feet of natural gas generates heat equivalent to a barrel of oil. Since oil is now around $80 per barrel, divide by 6 and natural gas ought to sell for $13 per thousand cubic feet on an equal-energy basis. However, natural gas in the USA is now selling for $4 per thousand cubic feet. Natural gas is currently a huge bargain. How huge is it? Installation of new solar and wind energy facilities is now being held back because it is much cheaper to generate electricity from natural gas. Some day, some day, natural gas will run out, but it may be 100 years from now.

It is discouraging when even the best oil analysts compare things that are different and think that all BTUs of energy are the same.

A BTU of oil is not the same as a BTU of natural gas even though they have the same energy content. I have pointed this out many times.

There is no "natural price" for natural gas based on its energy content. The "natural" price of gas is based on supply and demand which is somewhat related to the usefulness of natural gas or its utility.

The utility of a form of energy is more important than the form's energy content, whether as an end product or as a result of fallaciously adding up the BTUs that went into the production of that end product.

The current natural gas price situation proves this again. A BTU of natural gas does not have the usefulness of a BTU of oil because it is not compatible with the built infrastructure of vehicles and the liquid fuel distribution system.

Natural gas is currently priced appropriately in view of its utility and supply and demand in the market. Were it to be priced more in line with its energy content, an even greater glut would result which would solve nothing.

Comparing different forms of energy based on energy content is wrong.

Things that are different can not be compared. It seems to be particularly hard for energy analysts to grasp this concept.

Grain analysts understand. They do not try to compare corn and soybeans for example. They do not try to establish corn equivalents for soybeans. They know grain is an abstraction even though forms of grain are measured in the same unit.

Likewise metal analysts would be derided to no end if they tried to establish iron equivalents for gold. They understand that forms of metal are different even though they are all measured in tons.

They know it is pointless nonsense to say that iron should be such and such price based on the price of gold.

But some energy analysts never end attempting to perform this trick.

The sad thing is that seldom are they called on it.

I use propane to heat my house that I am renting out. I recently had a prospective renter who decided not to rent my house in part because the heating costs were too high compared to natural gas where she came from. I guess I should have told her that propane and natural gas cannot be compared. There are also two wood stoves in my rental house. Renters save money on propane by using the wood stoves because wood is cheaper around here on a btu basis than propane. Guess my future renters shouldn't bother with the hassle of using wood because energy cannot be compared.

In the real world, people make decisions every day on the relative value of different energy or heat sources. But I guess they are all misguided because energy cannot be compared.

I know it is pointless to point this out because you will just continue your mantra. But in the real world, btus matter. Natural gas prices are cheap. Compared to what? Well, in your world, I guess no one can make that comparison.

And, by the way, people compare different metals all the time when they decide what metals to use in items like bicycles. Strength to weight ratios and the costs for the same are a very big deal.

Your analogies are bogus.

Maybe you'd like to expand on that. Not very useful to tell someone that what they say is 'bogus' but then not tell them why? Educate all of us.



I have expanded on it many, many times, and x knows the burden of my song and has chosen to ignore it.

Short version: If it takes y energy units of fossil fuel inputs to make y energy units of ethanol, it is a huge waste of time. You have the uncertainty of agriculture, you have the pollution of all the runoff, and you have a less energy dense product, and one that causes problems in many kinds of engines. It is more difficult to transport, and doesn't save any money.

His gold vs. iron analogy is irrelevant. Gold and iron have their value set in a market based on their perceived human usage value, not physics.

The idea that EROEI is useless, and that you "can't compare different things" is absurd on the face of it. You can ONLY compare different things. X does it all the time.

But I've said all this a hundred times before, and this is the last time. I'm pretty sure the TOD readership understands that his rap is off the wall - it just gets under my skin sometimes. I will ignore it going forward.

I try to avoid ad hominem attacks. Better to try to present facts and "reason". But it is awfully tempting to make an exception in X's case. I was never going to comment again on one of his posts. But I couldn't help myself. Dear Mr. X. Please, please stop the madness.

Remember that X's position about his life is he is a corn farmer.

Not a farmer. Not a guy who looses money playing in the dirt growing food and has another job someplace else to make ends meet (a realistic description of farming) but a CORN farmer.

As in corn is all he does.

So like the posters who wall street and put up posts about all the wonderful things investment bankers do, or the posters who have indocternation in economics and thusly claim that is real and not some hocum shell game, X is going to point out a way to drive up the price he'll get for his product.


Now, at some point the number of cars, people, and animals for slaughter will be cut back and drive down that corn price. Something like an EMP can take out all but that old 20/40 hp Allis Chamlmers - and there is no way you'll get the acerage coverage outta that old orange oil leaking, crank start arm breaking beast. What of the corn business then - no amount of talking up a bad idea is gonna help.

You can always flag his posts.

If it takes y energy units of fossil fuel inputs to make y energy units of ethanol, it is a huge waste of time.

It always takes energy to make energy.

At the oil refinery alone it takes the energy equivalent of 1 barrel of gasoline to make 4 barrels of gasoline considering co-products(lubricating oil, plastic, etc.).

At the ethanol plant it takes the energy equivalent of
1 barrel of ethanol to make 1.3 barrels of ethanol considering co-products(animal feed), except that you can use cheaper
more abundant fuel sources such as coal or natural gas to produce the ethanol.

What is considered a waste of time is when it takes more energy to make a fuel than you get out and that isn't the case with ethanol unless you use the bogus accounting of Patzek and Pimental.

I find it amusing that the opponents of net energy positive ethanol wax eloquent over CTL, GTL liquid fuels, natural gas CNG or EVs which are clearly net energy negative.

Net energy is analogous to profit, EROI is analogous to ROI, which one is more important?
Clearly 'profit'.
ROI is always a relative measure, which depends on the going rate, the cost of capital which is dependent on bond returns and the performance of the stock market.

The fact that the 'ecological economists' clearly don't understand basic stuff should engender skepticism of all their claims.

I find it amusing that the opponents of net energy positive ethanol wax eloquent over CTL, GTL liquid fuels, natural gas CNG or EVs which are clearly net energy negative.

Trouble is, the positive is trivially small (or possibly nonexistent: a mere assertion does not make it clear why we should disbelieve Patzek and Pimentel), so really ethanol is little more than an absurdly complicated Rube Goldberg CTL or GTL that, as a very unfortunate side effect, seems to muck around with the food supply (yes, yes I know, people don't eat much field corn directly, but foodstuffs are somewhat fungible at the margin and that's enough.) In the USA, it's almost as though the green in grain farming is simply a quasi-infinite supply of subsidy dollars, with that as the real rationale for ethanol as a major fuel outside of Iowa.

The Patzek and Pimental studies have been checked and found to be consistently and conspicuously well outside other researchers according to the Nation Resources Defense Council.


The blender's tax credit of 45 cents is money paid to oil companies to blend ethanol into gasoline in urban areas where oxygenates are required to keep down smog, carbon monoxide.
There's also a 10 cent per gallon credit for small ethanol producers(<60 mgpy) who make up a small minority of producers.

Both are up for renewal on Dec 10,2010, call your Congressmen if you want them repealed--it will only hurt Big Oil because there's still a requirement to produce ethanol.

The US produces about 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol so it must pay out something like $7.7 billion in subsidies mainly to the oil companies which is frankly
chump change. OTH, the fossil fuel subsidies are about $72 billion.

Of course utility and built infrastructure impact energy prices.

But I do think markets will tend to force different energy sources to roughly equivalent $/btu or $/kWh over time. If natural gas keeps being cheaper than gasoline, then over time vehicles will be converted to natural gas, driving up gas demand and price towards equivalence. Certainly there is price stickiness and the time delay from infrastructure adaptation.

As a mechanical engineer doing product design, material costs had big impacts on design decisions, so while it was not formalized, we frequently compared metals based on price and performance. If titanium was not so expensive, it would be used a lot more, based on ultimate strength and stiffness/weight, but commonly we used a larger quantity of cheaper steel instead, so product designers compare metals and other structural materials all the time, and make design decisions based on price, with resulting supply/demand effects on prices.

I even compare apples and oranges at the super market, choosing based on some matrix of preference and costs, so fruit prices are linked too (at least in the consumer's mind and hence the market).

Comparing different forms of energy based on energy content is wrong.

x, what do you use energy for ?

Grain analysts understand. They do not try to compare corn and soybeans for example.

Like you can compare energies for it energy contents, you can compare grains for the amount of kcal it contains and for its nutritional value. And that is what counts for grains at least if you use it as food.

Likewise metal analysts would be derided to no end if they tried to establish iron equivalents for gold. They understand that forms of metal are different even though they are all measured in tons.

I think I understand what makes "x" tick (or what doesn't as the case may be).

I think he missed 3rd or 4th grade where we all learned about properties of materials in science class. So we learned about mass, in terms of what rock weighed more than another. Or learned which materials were magnetic.

Down the line, we learned how to use these properties to come up with the notion of equivalency. So we learned that if we wanted the equivalent weight of iron in a smaller volume, we would consider gold. Or that if we wanted another magnetic material besides iron, we would not consider gold.

Mr.X apparently missed this bit in his education and so has developed this strange blindspot. He seems logical in every other way. Our blindspots are what makes us individuals.

And you, WHT, apparently you skipped science class thinking that all you needed to 'learn' was advanced math formulas.
There is a huge difference in the energy provided by coal, oil, natural gas etc. because they have to transform it into forms which are usable.

Actually the believers in EROI seem to be following a modern version of the
caloric theory--that all different processes share a single ghostly substance that energizes them, Emergy.
Lavoisier would be pleased.


And you, WHT, apparently you skipped science class thinking that all you needed to 'learn' was advanced math formulas.
There is a huge difference in the energy provided by coal, oil, natural gas etc. because they have to transform it into forms which are usable.

Actually the believers in EROI seem to be following a modern version of the
caloric theory--that all different processes share a single ghostly substance that energizes them, Emergy.
Lavoisier would be pleased.


Let us parse what you just said:

"There is a huge difference in the energy provided by coal, oil, natural gas etc." -- yes
"because they have to transform it into forms which are usable." -- yes, which implies energy loss during the transformation.

If there is something special and informative you want to say, then spit it out. Please tell us exactly where this transformation energy is coming from. We can't mind read here, that is directed both to you and X.

Both you guys have this habit of spewing something and then running off, not wanting to respond to details of the argument.

I don't think he is as dense as you think. He is calling this energy equivalent a "natural" price instead of a market price. His point is that natural gas, as an energy source, is plentiful and a relative bargain right now. Which it is. And hence it is being used now to generate cheap electricity which is slowing renewable deployment.

I doubt Ken Deffeyes has tried to stuff a hose of natural gas into his car's gas tank. ;-)

From gas rig count above:

“The gas-drilling rig count is still up 271 since bottoming at 665 on July 17, 2009, its lowest since the 640 posted on May 3, 2002. While the gas rig count is 42 percent off its record peak of 1,606 from September 2008, it stands 210 rigs, or 29 percent, above the same week last year. Rising output from shale gas has been the primary driver of increased gas production in the last few years, and most traders agree it will be difficult to tighten the gas market unless drilling slows sharply.”

Over all a good report but tends to ignore a factor most such reports do: the time lag. Makes the rig count chart easier to appreciate when it’s accounted for. As NG prices rose it took several years for drilling activity to rise. This coincided with developments in fracing SG reservoirs. Additionally public companies took advantage of booking huge increases in their reserve base. Once NG prices collapsed so did the NG rig count. The price drop had a double whammy: loss of economic value of SG leases and a drop in revenue needed to fund drilling.

As reported the NG rig count has risen. But that seems to defy logic given the continued low NG prices. Actually there were periods when the rig count was lower when prices were higher than today. NG rates are still elevated thanks to the SG drilling surge plus the Independence DW gas hub coming on line during the same time period (a BCF/day came on in less than two weeks). And the great majority of this production will continue even though many of the wells will never return the initial investment. Production decisions are based upon the operating costs and not net profitability. It might cost $6/mcf to drill such a well initially but production costs may be as low as $.25/mcf. And cash flow remains King in the oil patch.

IMHO the statement that “it will be difficult to tighten the gas market unless drilling slows sharply” is very misleading. Today’s NG production rate is the result of over 1,600 rigs running a couple of years ago. The current rig rate under 1,000 isn’t going to replace current depletion. The rig count can remain where it is and NG prices will recover as reserves are depleted. There was no “cliff” of falling NG rates as a result of the drilling slump. Even though SG wells are known to have rapid decline rates initially, once they decline after a few years their declines drop to very low levels. There are thousands of SG wells that will continue to flow at low rates for many years. The DW NG production is another story. DW wells are completed with max rate in mind. Thus they deplete very quickly. Additionally the high fixed operating costs in the DW will not allow those wells to produce at rates as low as onshore wells. Given many DW NG fields came on simultaneously through the Independence Hub we might see a fall off more similar to a small cliff in the next 4 to 7 years.

Bottom line IMHO: the current NG rig count, thanks to continued low NG prices, isn’t replacing our production. How quickly the NG market tightens will be more determined by economic growth in the US. Increased consumption will reduce the current surplus. As it does current drilling activity won’t replace those reserves. Higher prices will increase drilling activity IN TIME. The time lag works both ways. SG plays will again get insanely hot. But that will take NG prices way north of twice where they are now IMHO. And then we’re hit with that feed back loop: double the cost of NG fueling economic recover and much of the recovery dies again. Also IMHO I don’t think the oil patch will be quit as willing to throw $’s at SG like they did in the past. Or at least their bankers won’t as enthusiastic.

and don't forget that all gas is not found by ng rigs. oil production is increasing, so associated gas is also increasing.

I'm interested to see how NG fares in the future its my guinea pig for the technology effect.

Clearly current NG production is basically entirely dependent on technical advances without them we would be much lower.

A couple of thoughts.

1.) Peaking conventional production happened to correlate with technical advances in NG extraction Deep Water and Shale.
This allowed UNG to quickly take advantage of declining conventional production. In a sense we where able to over compensate for declining conventional production. Obviously being able to reuse the existing pipelines and other infrastructure has been a huge benefit to UNG.
NG and Oil are coupled at several levels rising oil prices can result in rising NG prices. Obviously they don't have too but sufficient coupling exists that if NG production is tight and oil prices rising you can get the BTU effect.

2.) To be blunt most of the UNG plays are nothing more than elaborate ponzi schemes that will eventually blow up. Ready access to credit and effectively fraudulent marketing allowed what will probably prove to be huge money losers to be created. I'll try to keep this as civil as possible. To be PC correct its a bubble.

3.) The high initial flow rates which is a technical artifact make the short term production look much better than long term as long as you have and intense drilling program.

Out of all of this I'd argue that the early adoption of UNG is probably the most significant as conventional production is just now entering its steep decline phase. Next the flow rate profile ranks second.

Finally as far as I can tell it seems technically driven advances seem to result in a exponential increase followed by a linear production pattern. The important part is that the initial onset of decline seems to be a very shallow linear decline. Often confused with a undulating plateau on purpose or because of data quality.

However what happens next ?

Conventional NG production will enter its steep decline phase UNG production will be faced with its own steep decline inherent in its technical extraction profile. The effectively premature onset of UNG production and follow on price collapse plus general economic conditions will make expansion difficult even as profitability improves. And this is itself questionable as your dealing with a race between falling production and rising prices. If prices are increasing 5% a year and your production is falling 20% then ...

And just to repeat don't underestimate the longer term impact of a boom bust cycle a follow on boom is infinitely harder to trigger.
Esp given that for NG financial games not intrinsic demand played a role in the early boom.

And last but not least it seems to me that its almost impossible to determine when negative factors will converge if they do to turn the situation on its head. My current guess is 2-3 years from the drilling peak you have a chance for the situation to change fairly dramatically. But this is completely dependent on the exact profile of underlying conventional NG declines.


Assuming that UNG follows and initial shallow decline thence fairly soon into a steep slope aka Shark Fin effect. Then if you look at the link you can see that some time in the next few years you would see overall NG production fall dramatically from a combination of steep falls in both UNG and conventional.

My new modified shark fin model is based on the concept that the technology effect has two stages. The long term model from steady technical advances and a short term period around peak. The longer term effect of technical advances is ever more rapid depletion of real reserves often hidden as reserve additions based on production. This gives the final cliff. However in general the technology is optimized near peak indeed optimum extraction rate and peak are effectively the synonymous. Lots of interesting reasons why this may well be a fundamental truth.

Regardless depending on the exact timing and interplay between technology and geologic peak around the peak event itself excessive application of technology serves to significantly alter the production curve for a while. I believe you and WT often mention the enormous number of oil wells drilled when US production peaked. In the long run they where uneconomical indeed often in the short run however if horizontal drilling had been advanced at that time along with other needed technologies then US peak could have coincided with technical peak and US production could have gone quite a bit higher for a while.

Indeed the ready supply of cheap Middle East oil i.e it was provincial not market peak ensured that US peak was not tied to technical peak. Could it have been ? Sure we where sending men to the moon well before US peak. If it had been a market peak event I'd argue that the latent technical ability existed and could have been rapidly deployed and refined.

The reason this is important is because it offers a counter example to the shark fin case as history has shown. But the key point is that market forces where probably critical for the fact that US peak and technical peak where offset by decades. If the market forces had existed then I'd argue that horizontal drilling would have advanced rapidly and US production would have followed the technically driven production pattern. You can readily simply reverse this and not that investments in technical advances are primarily market driven. US acceptance of higher fuel economy for example had support from the market. Similar fuel efficient cars had been available for decades. The latent technical capacity was not and issue its market demand that determines the outcome.

Obviously given that North American NG is not as fungible as oil and external supplies i.e LNG are not a intrinsic threat the North American NG peak and technical peak where coincident. LNG prices are at par or higher than local prices thus they don't cause the shift that they did with oil.

So finally you can see my keen interest if I'm right about the production profile then one year soon say in the next five years or so I think sooner the US will be plunged into and NG crisis it cannot recover from. Tapping the LNG market will not solve the problem as it would simply send global LNG prices soaring.

The big problem is when ?

Although the modified shark fin model gives a better picture of peak itself i.e you have a period where production is healthy either rising flat or falling slowly it does not really tell you when depletion from the last technical surge and overall longer term depletion finally result in rapidly falling production levels.

My best guess right now is that your effectively pulling 10-20% more of the real reserve production forward in time. If we assume a symmetric peak at 50% by definition then the technical peak event lasts till your 60-70% depleted. Perhaps even to 80% tough to say but obviously no more.

Now here is the kicker if you got this far. Actual reserves never changed from what would have been produced if conventional extraction had resulted in a symmetric production profile !

We will never produce any more NG than we could have produced from our original conventional reserves using reasonable technical means.
Once the technology was sufficient to extract the resource additional technical advances added nothing to real reserves.

The reason is fairly simple they where not fundamental but market forces whats happened for Oil and NG is that technical advances have simply substituted for conventional production that would have been produced if we had followed a symmetric decline profile.

Its a pure substitution of a equivalent substitute its obfuscated because its oil for oil and NG for NG.

What was substituted was expensive NG and oil using conventional methods. If you believe this then by definition the substituted product was not marketable. There was no market for keeping technology constant and allowing a gradual decline in conventional production thus we had to substitute. The flip side is that substitution did not change the overall reserves. The long tail of conventional production would never have been produced anyway.

What technical advances do is simply delay the onset of the destruction of the market for oil and NG by providing what is obviously a cheaper substitute to falling conventional production and destruction of the market itself.

Overall production is actually about equal to the original conventional reserve estimates. Technically advanced extraction should then be roughly equal to the first half of conventional production at best. However given its simply another mine bell curve 25% is far more likely as falling technical production itself in inaccessible i.e you don't get the second half of technical oil/NG production either.
Its also past the collapse of the market.

Thus overall production is equal to 75% of the original technically extractable reserves available once technology had matured to the point they could be extracted on and obvious symmetric curve. Say 60% or so up the original production profile and once discovery had peaked. The amounts actually produced during the shark fin decline phase before the market collapses are small enough to not be that important. Important to us perhaps but realistically only a few years of production.

So last but not least given the above you can make a rough estimate as to timing. Assuming that conventional production would have declined symmetrically over 30 years for US NG then if you half that you get 15 years where UNG production matters before the market collapses.

Assuming UNG started taking off about 1990 then you get to about 2005. Its obviously a ballpark estimate so give it a 30% error term to be generous i.e if its off by more than that then the thesis is wrong. Of course the "start" date decision has its own error when is substitution valid ? Certainly not in the first few years of production only after UNG is making a significant market impact. For UNG this could shift the start date out to 1995 as apposed to 1990. Not a huge deal in the big picture as your basically talking about 10 years of error.
The net result is you have till somewhere in 2005-2015 or so for technical substitution to maintain the market for NG.

Using the claim that you don't start right when the technology is deployed but only after its growth is established the bias would be for the latter dates. However 2015 is itself probably to generous. So say 2007-2013 should be the range where technology substitution fails and the market collapses and overall production will be equal to 75% of original reserve estimates.

Whats interesting to me is that the future market for NG in North America may have already collapsed. I.e the destruction event is in the past and its just a matter of how it expresses itself. I suspect that given its a technical thing that the market collapse is correlated with the initial collapse in rig count.

All the same reasoning also applies to oil and as for NG the collapse in rig count signals the death of the market.

With this identity argument then the problem is trivial. The market collapse started in 2009.


Indeed given these assumption that its all marketing and about the collapse of the market itself we can go even further.
We have a well known historical event that makes it easy to understand Market collapses and that is the Great Depression.

Given that whats happening right now is simply the natural dead cat bounce death rattle before final market collapse.

Thus with that identification the problem itself is even more trivial since its just duplicate of the original or first collapse of our technical society. In this case because its induced by real fundamental constraints its the last one but the collapsing market does not care what the underlying causes are.

How long do we have then ?
The above does not help a who lot however we can make one last attempt to refine the problem. The time scales of the collapse of oil production and NG production seems very similar to previous market collapses.

So we can take a peak at historical data markets are markets in the end.


Using that it seems we are already overdue for the big one. I suspect that because this time around its a fundamental resource problem the initial financial contraction bought a bit of time but almost certainly at the expense of a final steeper decline.

I'm unable to come up with a way using this approach to clearly put the final crash out into the future. Obviously it has not happened yet so it is but if so only extremely temporary events are keeping the crash at bay.

Indeed this fits very well with whats happened at the financial level since the 2009 crash. Ever more extreme financial measures seem to only result in less and less real effect.

The remaining question is simply will the financial games to avert collapse induce a collapse of the technical civilization before the final collapse in Oil/NG production take it out. One must assume that the willingness to engage in such financial brinkmanship is itself driven by knowledge of and impending resource collapse. A sort of macabre destroy the village to save it sort of game.
My best guess is that all thats happening is that the people in power now are maneuvering to retain control through the market collapse event. A coup if you will by a subset of our current leaders.

Regardless the final result is that if the analysis is correct then it seems that the natural result is that a significant number should be able to see that a collapse is coming soon. Thus the knowledge of certain collapse becomes a critical part of the collapse process.

If anything this is where the current collapse differs from the original Great Depression. And understanding of the certainty of the collapse did not exist until much later. In our case thats not true thus it will influence the progression of events during the collapse phase itself. Not that it can be averted but obviously if your in power it can be used to eventually great advantage.

And last but not least it should be clear that the US would be facing the twin problems of a near simultaneous collapse of domestic NG production and global oil production. If that not the end of the world at least for the US then I don't know what is.

I think in another twenty to forty years we will be back to heating with coal again. Fortunately, there are huge amounts of low-grade coal in both the U.S. West and also the Canadian west. If necessary, we can build steam-fired locomotives again; that would revive a lot of old railroad towns that are now ghost towns, mostly.

Don - Difficult to see the situation developing differently. NG might help bridge to some degree whatever transition to alts might occur. We know there’s a huge NG reserve in the SG trends but will take a significant increase in prices to spur the level of drilling we saw in previous years. But I also suspect we won’t see the same mad rush to SG plays as we saw several years ago. IMHO the instigator of the SG drilling boom was the incentive of public companies to book big y-o-y reserve increases and reap the reward from Wall Street. Profitability wasn't the prime driving force for most of the players. The market value of Devon’s stock when it peaked at over $125/share greatly exceeded future profits EVEN AT HIGH NG PRICES. When the market crashed their market share plunged 75% at it’s worse. Needless to say share holders, pushed by tales of ever expanding reserves by the brokerage houses, ran the stock price up. Same folks were slaughtered when reality came home. This roller coaster ran from low to high to back to low in just 5 years or so. When consumption ramps back up and prices rebound SG drilling will obviously ramp up also. But with the recent crash still fresh in their minds, will Wall Street tout the public players the same as before? And, more importantly, will the investors swallow the story hook, line and sinker again? I suspect not. And that may actually be good for our long term NG supplies. If they don’t over supply the market and the economy stays relatively stable we could reach some happy medium of adequate supply and a higher but survivable cost. Granted those are some big assumptions that I can’t offer a probability. Just another set of “what ifs”.

Speculators speculate with a lot of borrowed money. This greatly aggravates volatility in commodity and stock markets--moreso in commodities and foreign exchange markets. When my youngest daughter (also an economist, and smarter than me) becomes Empress Jill the First of the former U.S.A., I shall adviser her to make borrowing to finance speculation illegal. Penalty--the old Hammurabi one--drowning at the nearest river or lake.

I guess I would have been a drowned puppy if Jill had been empress in 2000. Gold and silver reached historic lows of $255/oz and $4.10/oz. I went out and borrowed money from a bank (very rare thing for me to do) and bought a quantity of both. Paid the money off in six months or so. Now, in a case of "careful what you wish for" I'm not sure what to do with the metal. I've sold some and kept some as a hedge. I'm eyeballing a PV system for my house as an infrastructure investment.

I don't consider myself particularly smart about predicting such price changes. Just got real lucky this time.

Dear Memmel, Don Sailorman, ET, Fred Magyar and Friends All,

Given the general mind-set, the one driven in our time by economic globalization and the global political economy, it is difficult to believe how change to whatsoever is sustainable could occur. The mantra of endless growth of unsustainable lifestyles and too-big-to succeed corporations appears pervasive and unassailable.

Gigantic, multinational conglomerates are adamantly engaged in the production of goods (both needed and unnecessary), business and finance, the marvelous edifices housing the great religions, large-scale agriculture, the military complexes. These entities are the actual constructions that drive the process of economic globalization and give the global political economy its leviathan-like structure.

What you are reporting appears correct. It seems to me that two things could happen. First, an internet-driven transformation of global human consciousness will somehow occur in order to bring about necessary changes in the self-serving, destructive behavior of the fossil fools among us. Second, something embodied in this shift in human consciousness will give rise to completely unexpected, somehow interlocking events like the one which occurred at the city of Jericho in ancient times when “the walls fell down”. Even the leviathans of human enterprise in our days could crumble.

Recently we witnessed the near collapse of some of the giants of the automobile industry and the virtual implosion of investment houses and big banks on Wall Street. Are the titans of big business and finance not only “too-big-to-fail” but also “too-big-to-succeed” precisely because they are soon to become patently unsustainable on a planet with size, composition and ecology of Earth?

We have also seen in the past several years the poisonous fruits to be derived from extolling as ‘virtues’ outrageous greed, obscene overconsumption and relentless hoarding of wealth by many too many leaders. Never in the course of human events have so few stolen so much from so many....with a sense of pride. That these people reward each other with medals and awards for their pernicious activities is shameful. I believe we can agree that the unbridled overgrowth activities of the masters of the universe now overspreading the surface of Earth can much longer stand neither the test of time nor the biophysical limitations of the planetary home we are to inhabit and not ruin, I suppose. Following self-proclaimed masters of the universe down a primrose path could be the wrong way to direct the children to go.

The children deserve the chance of facing the prospect of a future that is good enough. I am no longer thinking of leaving the children a better world than the one that was given to their elders. That appears out of reach now. It remains my hope that the elder generation, with responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, will do better than we doing now by changing our ways for the sake of keeping Earth fit for habitation by children everywhere. As examples, we could pay our debts instead of mortgage the children’s future; we could clean up the ecological messes that have been made in the course of the past 65 years; we could eschew “bigger is better” and “the biggest is the best” in favor of “small is beautiful”, doing more with less, and embracing the spirit of living well by living more simply and sustainably.

Perhaps changes toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized enterprises are in the offing.

And perhaps we have been travelling down a long road over hundreds upon hundreds of years, a road of growing production and distribution capabilities, of wanton overconsumption and reckless hoarding, and of unbridled overpopulation. These activities have been occurring for a long time on a small scale, but only recently exploded in seemingly uncontrollable ways, within the natural world we inhabit and without sufficient regard being given either to human limits or Earth’s limitations. An improbable combination of narcissism, arrogance, foolhardiness and greed blinded leadership to the practical requirements of living on Earth; to the “rules of the house” in our planetary home. Too many leaders decided to willfully behave like kids who were left alone and given the run of the house by their overseers. All the rules were ‘forgotten’ or simply ignored. Laissez faire, whatever will be will be, living without limits and all that ruled!

The children tore everything up and made a big mess. When they realized what they were doing, they felt stuck as if between a rock and hard place. Do they stop their destructive activities or else choose to keep tearing up the house? This is a tough choice for kids at play. Who knows, perhaps they will not be caught red-handed at what they have been doing. And if they are caught, they could always blame the wreckage on other bad boys. How many times have we seen kids at play and men at work blaming their wrongdoing on others and not ever taking responsibility for their own dishonest, deceitful or destructive behavior?

Either the choice to turn back and begin the clean-up or the choice to keep tearing things up is fraught with danger. From a kid’s (or fossil fool’s) perspective they could face more danger by trying to clean up the mess they made than they would be exposed to by continuing with their rampage. Either choice presents its own challenges and threats. After all, so much damage has already been done. There is no longer any easy way forward, that is for sure, even under the best circumstances.

What to do here? Now what? These are the questions, I suppose.


Sincerely yours,


I am an enthusiastic fan of Alan Drake's (Alan from Big Easy) rail proposals. If and only if these are implemented within twenty years (or thereabouts) I think we could very well avoid collapse. Indeed, after I'm finished on the novella that I'm writing now I plan to write a science-fiction novel in which all of Alan's proposals are implemented, thereby saving the U.S. from collapse while creating lots of jobs.

Hm, maybe I could get Alan to collaberate on the novel; he's already done all the necessary research, and he writes well. When I write science fiction novels (have written three, none published yet) I spend roughly half of the time doing research and the other half writing. Well, I'll e-mail Alan with the idea.

It is not too late, Don. Go forward.

Thank you.

Dear Don Sailorman,

If we can communicate about what seems so obvious, perhaps one day soon enough science will overcome the power of a deafening silence that has kept certain evidence of human population dynamics hidden from us for nearly a decade.

Many top-rank experts have been kind enough to make Russell Hopfenberg's and David Pimentel's work on human population dynamics available on their websites, but this science does not receive the attention it deserves, I believe. The research is presented without comment and treated as if it is not worthy of consideration. Here we are nearing the end of the year 2010 and no discussions, either inside or outside science, adequately focus upon recent research of human population dynamics. This scientific evidence appears to have profound implications for the future of life on Earth because it makes visible the proverbial 'elephant in the living room' of the planetary home we inhabit.

Who is carefully examining and sensibly reporting findings on the taboo subject of human population dynamics now here? Where are the discussions of this topic to be found? In professional societies dedicated to the science of human population numbers? In first rate specialty journals regarding population biology, human ecology and demography? Can you or any other person on this email kindly point to examples where human population dynamics has been discussed? How on Earth do we address and overcome human-driven challenges, the nature and existence of which we refuse to acknowledge as well as willfully deny?



I contribute as much as I can to Planned Parenthood. What more can I do? There are a zillion science fiction novels about overpopulation. Perhaps the best one is STAND ON ZANZIBAR, by John Brunner. Should be cheap on amazon.com

Hm, maybe I could get Alan to collaberate on the novel;

Sounds like a great plan.

The old investment saw was 'keep 10% in precious metals'. You may wish to condsider a floor like that.

My broker, the late great Sidney Myers, advised me to: "Put 10% or your assets in gold, and hope that the price of gold goes down." That was back in 1963, and it is very good advice. I did put 10% of my assets into gold bullion coins as soon as it became legal to do so back in the early nineteen seventies. Then I sold shortly before the top of the market in 1980--following Sid's advice, of course.

Find a really good broker (preferably a Chinese or Jewish one) and follow his advice. That is what I did. I only bought stocks that he was buying for his mother. Parker Drilling was one of them, and I sextupled my money in that investment. Buy value and hold, just the way Warren Buffett does. Also, Sid got me into Berkshire Hathaway shortly after the stock was issued. Now I can afford all the French champagne I want.

"Find a really good broker (preferably a Chinese or Jewish one) and follow his advice."

Like Bernie Madoff, perhaps?

He said a good broker.

Bernie helped a lot of people go broke.
He was a really really good broker. :-)


Fellow TOD-ers,

My wife and I were going to spend the bucks to upgrade our old 65% efficient NG furnace to a 95% efficient model, but the company's sub-contractor just told us that we can't do that unless we change our NG hot water heater to a tankless model..costing another extra $2400 ducks installed.

This was said to be because the furnace would use a PVC flue and our NG water heater's metal flue is joined to our current metal furnace flue, and joining the metal to PVC can't be done, and due to our window placements etc we can't spud flues out the house walls without running an ugly PVC pipe externally up our wall to 2 feet above our parapets, etc.

I asked the HVAC guy about heat pumps, and he said that it was too warm and dry in Albuquerque for heat pumps to work efficiently. He said that heat pumps "work best in places like North Dakota or Connecticut, where the outside air temp is very cold and it is more humid"

Now, I might be wrong, but I think he is exactly backwards on the temperature differential thing wrt heat pumps, and obviously he doesn't know how dry that sub-zero air can be in ND!

I don't want to spnd money to only upgrade to an 80% efficient NG furnance, and I am not spending ~$2000+ to put in a whole-house tankless HW heater either. I could go with an electric HW heater, but I think that would not be a cost=effective choice.

Anyone here have any info on whether a heat pump would be a good choice for a climate such as found in Albuquerque?

We currently have swamp coolers, but they are a PIA (but use less electricity than AC) for cooling in the summer.

Personally, I could live with using a few electric space heaters as required in the rooms being used at the time, but my wife would disagree!

In the meanwhile, the current NG furnace works...

Your load is mainly cooling(4250 heating dd, 16F winter degree design temp) so you could look at a 14 SEER/9 HPSE heat pump paired with a 95% AFUE furnace for the latest thing in efficient HVAC--'hybrid heating and cooling'--it is even more efficient than a 95% AFUE furnace and a SEER 14 condensing unit.
Your existing furnace paired with an efficient HP/AC condensing unit may not get you a +13 SEER rating because you don't a have super efficient ECM or variable speed blower motor--people undestimate the energy used running a constant speed fan.
Going from a SEER 8 to a SEER 12 versus a SEER 16 will
save maybe $50 more per year.
Your easiest savings is on the split system heat pump higher SEER using your old furnace as below 32 deg heating.
The furnace only runs when the outdoor air is below 32 which is about 550 hours per year in Albuquerque.

Another route is minisplit inverter heat pumps(SEER up to 19) which have evaprators in up to 3 rooms--but they are also pricey.

I suspect your HVAC salesman is selling you something you don't need unless you really, really want the 30 cents on the dollar IRS tax credit.

@ Heisenberg

I second majorian's approach as at least a starting point. Something doesn't add up in the HVAC's justification; as you note, dry air in ND which he got backwards, so I am suspicious of his pitch.

How does the IRS tax credit play into your potential transaction ?

A question to the HVAC guy you reference - what's his attitude toward heat pumps ? I'm in Nebraska and have met those that still have soured attitudes from the first generation HP's, including one commercial HVAC neighbor.

I would certainly, at least, look around for some of that HVAC-guys competition.

Good Luck.


Thank you for your advice, you are all very generous with your time!

Our Sears salesman obviously did not know the building codes, according to our local sub=contractor who was detailed to conduct the install.

We chose a Carrier 95% AFUE NG furnace, with two stages and some kind of cosmic-sounding 'Infinity' thermostat (part and parcel of the furnace system, not an option).

The deal-breaker was that it is not allowed to join our NG Hot water heater flue to the PVC furnace flue, and other issues (including the maximum allowable horizontal PVC flue run) preclude other venting options, save for an ugly external two-story PVC 'chimney' stood off from the outside wall.

We intended to keep our MasterCool Evaporative cooler (underground metal duct shared by the existing Lennox 65% efficient 20-year-old NG furnace...we saw AC as too expensive to operate, although it would provide more cooling comfort.

I have found one outfit on the Web which claims to install solar hot water systems in Albuquerque...

We were thinking that the Federal tax credits would help us justify the expense of the 95% furnace, and would help any futre resale effort in addition to lowering heating bills somewhat and trying to do something helpful for the envirnment etc.

I have a friend in Tuscon who sent ~$30K on a 95% NG furnace and a maximum SEER AC solution for his 3600 Sq ft house...he had to have a lot of ductwork done and electrical and plumbing work as well.

Then he just put in ~ 8KW worth of PV.

I am too concerned with job stability to dive in like that and spend that coin...home HVAC and energy improvements ( One of my customers just spent $12K on new windows)require considerable effort to conduct an AoA and select the best choices...I am too busy working for the man to do all that right now...

I need to find a reputable outfit which I could spend a few hundred bucks with to receive a comprehensive home energy audit and a 'honest broker' explanation of feasible alternatives, to include installation and O&M lifecycle costs, etc.

This is the quote i got on a new Carrier system. My current system is a 20 year old Trane (AC is dead/furnace leaks water).

Furnace model #58UVB060
95% AFUE
2 stage
Variable Speed

AC #24ABB324
2 Ton

Removal of existing junk
PVC venting
Gas piping
Edge T stat
Refrigeration work
Line set

$4200 after rebates...

I still haven't decided what to do. I might just wait until the furnace dies and use wood only, but its hard to sell a house (should i want to try) with no furnace/AC!

There are plenty of RESNET/BPI/HERS energy raters
about. The contractor should know some--make sure they are qualified RESNET/HERS certified(and even some of them need watching).
They have a computer program to figure the most cost efficient measures to take. Generally they charge $500
for the analysis.

Jeez, H, if I lived in NM and planned to stay in the house, I would give strong thought to solar hot water.

$2400 seems like a lot for an installed tankless. The last one I installed (propane, 2.8gpm) was $1270 retail, I charged $325 to install, including vent. The electric tankless' efficiency is on par with the gas models (depending on model purchased), but the last one I installed required 150 amp service at 240 vac (3 - 50 amp connections), quite expensive.

Many contractors aren't prone to think outside the box much. They install what they sell (brand) and won't suggest anything that their vendors don't promote/carry. Their statements regarding heatpumps seems sus to me. There's a tax credit for geothermal heat pumps in your state: http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=NM34F&re... May be worth considering. Not sure about air source heatpumps.

I don't know about heat pumps, but my parents, when they retired and moved to west Texas, had an air-tempering setup installed on the intake for the HVAC system in their house. Basically, it was a couple of hundred feet of 8" PVC, running from the intake out through the yard, about 8 or 10 feet underground, then back into the house. It warmed the air in winter, and cooled it in summer, thus reducing the load on the system considerably. (The house also was framed with 2x6s, so it had more than the usual amount of wall insulation.)

Majorian, Ghung, PJEEvans,

Thank you for your advice, you folks are great.

There are always snakes in the grass...switching gears, I would like to get some PV on my flat roof, but my roof will need work in a few years...so my obstacle for that is the flat roof...if I have PV installed, then I have to pay to have it un-installed for a re-roof job. Always sumthin...

Consider building integrated PV:

The residential industry most often uses building-integrated photovoltaic roofing products; however PV systems can also be integrated into façade materials, awnings, and covered walkways.

I un-installed my PV system, re-roofed under it, and re-installed it.
Wasn't that hard.

A well-installed PV system is mounted on rails that have point attachments to the roof rafters. The panels bolt on with clamps. Just loosen the bolts, unplug, and remove them. Most systems have the panels in series, not a complicated circuit, and the plugs only fit one way, so you almost can't do it wrong.

It sounds like the sub contractor want to sell you a system for $2400 ducks to earn some extra ducks for himself.

Heat pumps should be more efficient for a lower temperature differential. I guess the effect of humidity is very small although it may be worth to notice that cooling air may cause condense.

Ghung and Karlnick,

Thank you or your ideas.

I should take a look at solar hot water heating.

It seems that if one had enough installed tankage with either water or some kind of phase-changing salt then there might be plenty enough sunshine here to store heat to be drawn into an airstream through a heat exchanger and circulated with a fan through the duct work.

But...sounds good, but the complexity and expense of the plumbing would prob ably be high.

Then there is ground-source heat pumps...I would have to see how much land is needed...my yard is not large. Excavation sound expensive...

oh well, like I said,my ~65% Lennox still works, and my HWH is only 6 years old and works well...time to think and plan.

Ghung, if I thought my employment prospects were very secure for the next 20+ years,I would look at the feasibility of replacing my flat roof with a blindingly white metal peaked roof, with PV installed on top of that.

Barring that, I would look at a flat-re-roof, using a white elastomeric , then PV installed on that. I would be concerned about the roof penetrations and the water infiltration issues.

There seems to be a fair amount of flat roof leakage issues in ABQ during the occasional heavy, sustained rain.

"I would look at the feasibility of replacing my flat roof with a blindingly white metal peaked roof, with PV installed on top of that."

If you wanted to keep the flat roof look you could install mechanically crimped vertical standing seam metal roofing with laminated PV. I've read that they can be 1/4 / 12 pitch (3" per 12'). These roofs last a long time but they're a bit pricey. For PV or solar thermal panels they make special mounting clamps that lock onto the seams; no roof penetration. I helped on a job that installed a system like this, metal roof, PV and solar thermal panels. It was pretty slick. The owners said that, once they ran the numbers and applied incentives, the price wasn't bad though this was a retirement home (downsize) and they planned to stay there for the duration. I predict they won't have to worry about the roof in their lifetime.

I should take a look at solar hot water heating.

I don't know if it has been mentioned in this solar water heater thread, but it makes a lot of sense to me to have the solar heater as a pre-heater for a conventional water heater. This is my setup and it works nicely, sort of analogous to grid-tied PV for your electric. My electric bill is lowest in the summer months of June, July, August, but I still get some pre-heating on sunny days of the winter.

Where I used to live in North Carolina, I had a solar pre-heater which worked great in summer, and a water cheek for the wood cooker that provided plenty of hot water during the winter. I've thought about re-creating this system but it would be a lot of trouble the way my plumbing is configured, so I keep shoving the project down the round-tuit list.

You can also 'go large' and put in a whole lotta the solar hot water panels and go for radiant heat.

As for your roofing - have you considered a metal 'frame' round the building and just mount the panels to that? You could then put a deck under the panels and above the roof for "extra" outdoor space. Perhaps some large pots you build a fire under to keep the tax assessor and building inspector away :-) Depending on the height of any walls 'round the flat roof you may be able to add a framework there.

A standing seam roof has the roll on laminate option or you could go the UniRack way. The UniRack bolts onto the standing seam itself. Keep in mind with the metal roof and a steel based polyurathane foam system you can apply a conformal spray on coating rated to last 100+ years. Last time I priced it - $30 a gallon. A forever for your lifetime roof.

White makes a HUGE difference over even light grey cement. My roofs were temporarily covered with white waterproofing and change from uninhabitable, in the late afternoon, to usable. The coat needs renewing and I can feel the difference but I want to get a proper waterproofing layer, the main spec is that I want it white or light and paintable white. Most people around here seem to like to use tile coloured waterproofing - hot. I know someone who is complaining about the heat and am trying to talk them into going white. If they do I will give some feedback but it won't be until next summer's rainy season.


Go find a different contractor.

Heat pumps stop working at about 25 F. If it's colder than that, you need a furnace anyway.

By the way, I had one tell me a ductless heat pump could not be installed in a lathe and plaster wall. I was going to have to rip out the wall down to bare studs. Then he would install the magic device, and then I could put up drywall.

But for only three times as much money, he could install a full size ducted heat pump and electric furnace installation for the entire house.

He did not get the job.

Worried about liability if your plaster starts breaking away from the lath? If there is plenty of horse hair in it it should be quite strong.



You need to RUN and not walk away from that contractor - they obviously don't know jack. It's one of the sad facts of heat pumps, but they work best when they're the least needed. It's how they work that's the reason to that...through a working fluid they basically take a little bit of heat out of a large volume of air, then deposit that in your house. For cooling it's the reverse. So when it's cold out and you want to warm your house, you need to extract heat from cold air - which doesn't work well, especially if there is moisture and that moisture freezes on your coils (which means that it's good if the air is dry).

It's because of that, as PVguy has stated, that they stop working around 15-25 degrees F at which point resistance heating coils will turn on - after that you'd be better off using a space heater.

I agree with the others too, that you should look into solar hot water - should be an amazing return on investment in your area. Also, if it's not costing you any more for hookup it would be a good idea to keep your old furnace around for backup and cold snaps.

Substrate and all,

Thank you for your guidance.

I left the Sears HVAC manager in Lubbock (ABQ is part of his territory) that the idea of having to install a whole-house tankless water heater was a deal-breaker; paying for only an 80% AFUE NG furnace (to get back to a metal flue) was a deal-breaker, and an ugly PVC pipe running from my garage up to above my second-floor roof parapet on the outside of the house was a deal-breaker.

Majorian, I will look into an energy audit professional such as you mentioned; I would pony up $500 bucks for an objective, comprehensive, accurate energy audit and advice on improvements.

Ghung, I like your suggestion for the metal roof! The idea of a maintenance-free, leak-proof roof and with PV attached with no roof penetrations is very appealing and sounds like it is worth the money.

How well does such a PV attachment to the metal roof hold up to wind loads? The wind can really kick up in ABQ, esp. in the Spring.

Replaced our roof last spring but done a little research on all roofing materials.In our area my insurance agent said you sign a cosmetic waiver on a metal roof so you get to live with the hail dents.In my research I found a couple of manuf.of metal roofs that sold what I called pre-dented, dimpled what ever you want to call it.That would be my choice it tricks the eye on any damage but I have so many valleys and not a straight shot roof I went back with a fifty yr roof class four I believe it drops homeowners insurance around 20%.In 1992 I used a elastomeric coating tinted close to our shingles color it was on two yrs on a 6x12 out cropping on the house when a hail storm took out the rest of the roof but no damage was done on the roof area I'd coated.The new shingle have an elastomeric base.

I don't see how my standing seam metal roof could possibly be damaged by hail. We have had hail here, albeit not really large. But we did have a rotten tree fall on the roof and, aside from crimping some of the seams, left no dents (it sure got me out of bed quickly at 6AM with the BOOM!). I figure it was due to the 3/4" plywood sheathing and the heavy framing. I shouldn't have to worry about my roof in my lifetime.

After perusing the International Residential Code a bit, it appears the relevant prohibition is this:

"M1801.11:3. Connectors serving appliances operating under a natural draft shall not be connected to any portion of a mechanical draft system operating under positive pressure."

So the concern seems to be backdrafting where the power vented flue gases of one appliance potentially push the natural draft exhaust of the other back into the dwelling. I'm assuming that you don't have room for two separate flues, one natural draft and one power vent, but what about the possibility of using a concentric stainless steel flue? I don't know if this can be done, and you would need to check with the appliance manufacturers and your building officials, but maybe you could inquire.

Alternatively, Tjernlund makes a draft inducer which will convert a natural draft flue to a power vent. In this case, it may be then possible to combine the flues. Again, get professional advice, as I'm just throwing out ideas beyond my expertise.

Also, there are combination water heater/space heating appliances, see:



Analysis of 2008 Collapse Shows Economy Networked for Failure.

...“The fact that the system became fundamentally fragile is very clear in the data,” said systems theorist Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. “The financial sector was responsible for many of the crucial links in the economy that allowed for shocks to be propagated from one sector to another.”

Bar-Yam’s team traces the financial sector’s collapse-inducing economic centrality to the dissolution of Depression-era economic reforms, especially the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Glass-Steagall had separated deposit banks, where most people keep their savings, and which handled mortgages, from investment banks.

(edit - apologies if posted previously.)

This is exactly what the oligarchs want.

A decentralized, robust, regulated financial system would result in more equitable gains in society, flowing to the middle class.

Whereas in our current system, concentrated in big banks and deregulated, allows them to make greater profits, and when their bets go bad they make the argument that the system will crash unless you bail them out.

Unemployment, unpayable debt, high taxation, foreclosures, misery for the population. Riskless bonuses for the bankers.


Thanks, an interesting and useful paper.

(you can find the actual paper at http://arxiv4.library.cornell.edu/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1011/1011.3707v2.pdf )

The take home for me, besides the increasing connection of the economy through finance, is that oil company correlation has shifted from correlation with oil supply to correlation with materials and through that to technology. At the same time commodity values are correlated with the finance sector, rather than inversely correlated as you might expect.

What does that mean?

Well, I'd suggest that oil companies fortunes have increasingly been determined by the demand side of the equation, rather than the supply - eg the markets think its a never ending supply, they really don't get peaking. At the same time they look to financial market health to determine value for these raw materials, not the other way round.

So the market isn't looking at the fundamentals of the oil supply industry, they are playing abstract games centred on their finance 'industry'. The correlation (coupling) of this financial game-playing entity with the rest of the economy means stupidities here ripple outward to everything else - not the reverse.

Put all that together and you have a situation were changes in the real world; commodities, housing, energy, etc. catch them by surprise because their attention is elsewhere. They will continue to do dumb things because it's no longer a community interesting in investment in real things, its only interested in gambling on itself.

Obviously it needs massive reform, and even more obviously it's not going to get it till after the next crash at the earliest. With the reports that individual market prices are even more correlated now with the whole market sentiment - they haven't changed a bit since 2008. Everything in the paper about being setup for a cascading crash is even more valid now.

Pretty much along the lines of my own thinking. However I don't think that changes in commodities necessarily catch the by surprise its just that because of the effective reverse correlation that you explain that they believe the financial system will remain in control.

Commodities can certainly be a problem but nothing that a bit of magical financial tinkering can't solve.
Change a few investment patterns perhaps beef up alternatives and viola problem solved.

So except for the part of them being surprised I agree. I'd guess they are to some extent becoming increasingly cognizant that the commodity problem my be a tad larger than they think. But they still don't see why they can't solve it with a bit of financial wizardry.

In fact as you point out the market itself has this perception the financiers are still in complete control of the situation.
Even if commodities become expensive the financial markets are still capable of growth if they fund either alternatives or play drill baby drill. Or likely both. The concern is that our financial system shrinks resulting in declining demand.

I think this concern is a serious mistake since the tightest coupling between the financial system and the "real" economy was via construction and demand for materials and oil to build homes and business based directly on debt.

That was a highly coupled relationship but the point is its in the past. Construction is no longer a driver of demand. And thus its tight coupling to banking and loans is irrelevant.

The rest of our economy is not nearly as coupled to debt and finance and I think over time this will become increasingly clear as commodities get more expensive or more correctly take and ever increasing percentage of everyones take home pay either through lower pay or higher prices or both. This base demand is far less sensitive to financial games either up or down.

And here I think the problem is fundamental few in power actually really understand survival most come from and upper middle class background or better.

Its a much deeper and more insidious blindness between the have and have not's. Surprisingly for many they really really don't understand poverty. For most of them its simply a sign of some sort of personal/moral problem as they see opportunity everywhere.
In fact I've never met a single wealth person that understood poverty unless they had experienced it personally. Perhaps I don't hang in the right crowds but thats been my experience. Obviously many who are wealthy do because of their past but more do not.

I think these two situation are heading for the train wreck of the century. The middle class and poor fighting to maintain their daily quality of life and the wealthy thinking they need only play one more financial trick and everything will be made better.

I think you will find that the middle class and poor will cling to oil even as prices rise much higher than many people think because the car is the last bastion of not being dirt poor. Give that up and ride the bus and your simply dirt poor with no future.

The rich will think they simply need to do one more financial trick and the ever poorer middle class will suddenly start spending again.

Its a sort of deadly embrace. It will obviously break when commodities start rising in price even as the stock market tanks. Once they decouple then I think we are not far from the end. Certainly the financial system could collapse before that happens but I'd argue that the certain sign that things are at and end.

Whats happening is of course the poor are now reduced to their hovels and their cars they have nothing else the economy has no choice but to start imploding but even as it does the poor will cling to their cars. The wealthy offering more debt can simply do nothing about it.

In any case no they are not surprised simply incredibly arrogant.

Two points:

1) The wealthy think the poor are failing to take advantage of opportunities and drag themselves up is probably correct, from the perspective of the rich. There are lots of opportunities out there, and the wealthy see a steady stream of them each day. Problem, of course, is that the rest aren't psychologically setup to behave like the rich; and there's too many of them as well.

2) The survival of the rich depends on the size of the underclass being less than 10-15%. If they grow to numerous then firstly there is nothing to keep their investments up, and secondly, they will take from the rich everything they have - probably at the neck.

You say arrogance; I say surprise. Either way its a failure to recognise the reality of the situation and act with a cognisance of the big picture.

For commodities to rise even as the stock market tanks is going to be unlikely in that situation. Rather shortages will develop, problems with supply reaching consumers; and eventually a black market that cuts out the loop through financial markets and government taxes. Eg its an end of times consequence, not a signal.

If and when U.S. inflation goes back to double digits, I expect the stock and bond markets to tank, but commodities would probably still go up--perhaps propelled by a great increase in borrowing at high interest rates.

Commodities have real and lasting value. Stocks and bonds are just pieces of paper, as people found out during the Great Depression. Note that that was a deflationary depression. My guess is that our coming Greater Depression will be inflationary.

A deflationary crash is still possible, but I think it is less likely now than it was a month ago. QE2,3, . . .n is in our future. Probably in our fairly near future.

The Euro can collapse without the dollar also collapsing. Indeed, when (not if) the Euro goes, that event is likely to strengthen the dollar. As I've said before, the U.S. is the richest country in the world in terms of resources and real physical capital (tools, machines, railroad track, etc.).

"As I've said before, the U.S. is the richest country in the world in terms of resources and real physical capital (tools, machines, railroad track, etc.)."

I don't know, the tyranny of distance must come into play at some point, currently it is being held at bay by enormous energy consumption. Resources and physical capital can become stranded assets without energy availability to utilise them. Of course the corruption of money and finance can immobilise the economy effectively and faster, just as in the Depression. And it is unlikely that the corrupting influence of the Fed on such a scale can have any other outcome than disaster.

I'd have to disagree with your 2nd point.

If anything, the rich count on a large and starving underclass for cheap labor. A man who is hungry will gladly become a porter or bodyguard for the rich. And such is man is unlikely to demand benefits.

They have already been successful in their assault on the American middle class with outsourcing, immigration, and debt peonage.

Do you see any revolutions against the rich in Latin America? Africa? Asia?

You don't, because the poor need the rich just to survive.

An educated middle class person works, spends a little, saves, and builds wealth. This is anathema to the rich. They want a populace spending every last penny on the essentials, heavily marketed but worthless goods, or interest payments, eliminating the chances of saving or building wealth.

It's always the rich against the middle class. Always.

The French Revolution

The Russian Revolution

Eventually there is a point beyond which things snap - as I say, its usually necks. That point comes closer when things are on the way down.

I don't think history supports that. The French Revolution wasn't really driven by the poor, but by the middle class.

Oilman Sachs is right; the rich depend on having a lot of poor people to support their lifestyle. Extreme inequality alone isn't enough to create a revolution. Many developing countries have almost no middle class to speak of: a lot of rich people on top, a lot more poor people on the bottom, with little in between and little chance of moving up. It's considered normal.

It's possible that the change - huge numbers of middle class becoming poor - will create revolution, but at this point, I'm not counting on it. In France, Greece, etc., people are protesting, but here in the US, we're just accepting our lot. We don't want to tax the rich, because we plan to be the rich one day. Never mind sending them to the guillotine.

Thanks are due garyp for this remarkable and exceptional subthread. Something is occurring that seldom happens. Words are deployed for the purpose of disclosing what could somehow be real rather than presented as a means of disguising the world as it is.

Milton Friedman, in his book CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM advocated ending poverty in the U.S. by instituting a negative income tax and doing away with our hodgepodge of poorly admistered and inefficient and ineffective anti poverty programs. He also proposed that government should provide major medical coverage for all.

I think his ideas are as good as when he published them, and I think his proposals also show the way to a steady state or declining economy.

Milton Friedman was the brightest Nobel Laureate I've ever met, and I knew five of them--mostly physicists at U.C., Berkeley. Indeed, I taught the physicist Chamberlain and his son to sail. Got to know him pretty well when he Became faculty advisor to the Cal Sailing Club.

Dear Don,

Take human population dynamics as an example. Where are the discussions of this topic to be found? In professional societies dedicated to the science of human population numbers? In first rate specialty journals regarding population biology, human ecology and demography? Can you or any other expert kindly point to one example within the scientific community where human population dynamics is objectively discussed?

Imagine what the world would be like now if and only if threads like this one, and others initiated by Professor Gary Peters, had been open to public discourse during the past 65 years.

Experts have possessed knowledge of human population numbers, but they have not found adequate ways of communicating the knowledge openly and widely. Here we are in 2010 and no discussions, either inside or outside science, are focused upon the extant research of human population dynamics. This appears to be the proverbial elephant in the living room of the planetary home we inhabit. Who is carefully examining and sensibly reporting findings on this taboo subject? How on Earth do we address and overcome human-driven challenges, the nature and existence of which we refuse to acknowledge as well as willfully deny?



Discussions of population go where the experts on population hang out. Look for where demographers meet and discuss, either physically or online. It is a very live topic. And yes, I've had three classes in demography.

Dear Don,

The demographers, the population biologists, the human ecologists and other experts with appropriate expertise are not presenting what could reasonably and sensibly be described as the best available scientific evidence on human population dynamics. Their evidence is preternatural thought and theory; it is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerable and culturally prescribed.

What concerns me is this. If we choose here now and everywhere else not to make a new, more fully human way of life for ourselves in our planetary home, then I suppose you can likely see what is visible through my eyes now.

Can you see in the offing, there on the far horizon within sight of every human being with feet of clay on Earth, the first slouching trillionaire in the universe lumbering toward Bethlehem to be born?



There will be trillionaires in a dozen years if the Fed decides to hyperinflate the money supply--an outcome that is fairly likely. Why? Because hyperinflation wipes out all debts. At some point, as debt growth continues to be many many times faster than real GDP growth I expect the political pressures to inflate ever more will become irresistible. By the way, of the current Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve System, there is not one who openly advocates inflation of more than 2% per year.

In regard to demographers, I have a lot of respect for those whom I have known, both in the Sociology Department at UC, Berkeley, and also in the Public Health Department of the same school. I question your characterization of demographers. Every single one I've known (maybe a dozen or fifteen) loved to wallow in the data. They are much more data-driven than theory-driven. At one time, Berkeley had a separate demography department because their two top demographers, Kingsley Davis and Judith Blake, were married to each other, and Berkeley had a rule that you cannot have a married couple in the same department--so a new department was created specifically for Judith Blake.

Demographers are nothing at all like economists. Most of them are sociologists. Economists despise sociologists. Sociologists tend to hate economists, because economists get more pay and more prestige than do sociologists.

Dear Don,

No offense intended.

Can you point to one piece of scientific research by a demographer you respect that challenges the evidence of Hopfenberg and Pimentel: that human population dynamics is essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species...both great and small?

Don, where is the evidence? Demographers have not yet so much as advanced to the point where they acknowledge this single point. Their research uniformly finds psuedoscientific, or should I say, unscientific evidence for explaining, however unnaturally and unpersuasively, that human population dynamics is different from the population dynamics of non-human species. What the demographers refer to as 'scientific' evidence is directly contradicted by the unchallenged scientific evidence of Hopfenberg and Pimentel.

Something is very wrong. I believe the demographers are best situated with the economists, whose work is fundamentally ideologically, not scientifically driven.

I would like to argue with anyone about the the scientific foundation of both demography and economics. There are others than myself who will point out readily that demography and economics are basically ideological, human inventions and fatally flawed because of this difference alone. The Creation is the appropriate focus of science; manmade works are the domain of demography and economics, I believe.

Thanks again, Don.



Dear Don,

There is a great effort being made now here. Thank you for being there just as you, Memmel, Rockman, ET and Professor Gary Peters have been here for me now. The demographers and not unexpectedly the economists are nowhere to be found. Silence has been perversely allowed not only to prevail but also to vanquish science. I am 65 years old. During that time it appears to me that experts in human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth have not seen, and if they have seen, not reported the best available science of human population dynamics. Many have permitted admitted complexity in the world we inhabit to blind them from the sight of something comparatively simple. They seem to have paid careful attention to 'the trees' and lost sight of the bigger and simpler picture, 'the forest'. They carefully examined human reproduction in this place or that; but they failed time after time to so much as look at population dynamics leading to the propagation of 3+ billion additional human beings joining the family of humanity in my lifetime. Human population numbers have more than doubled in the past 65 years. With something having such profound implications happening before our eyes, how has this research not sensibly be done. It appears that we are called upon to do this difficult work. If they do see what we have been discussing and yet refuse to speak, then that appears to me as a cover-up of science with silence.



I used to read a lot on demography back when I was in graduate school, more than four decades ago. The issues you raise were already being discussed by demographers then. See, for examples, the work of Kingsley Davis and Judith Blake.

The issues you raise are not new. Nor are they undiscussed by demographers today. There are a couple of excellent journals in demography, that you can easily find with Google.

Dear Don,

For the sake of a wonderful discussion, please bear with me.

Let us take a moment to look at the Demographic Transition Theory. I believe we can likely agree that this theory is known to be descriptive not predictive. I would like to add that the DMT Theory must be incomplete in its present format. For example, how on Earth can Stage I of the Demographic Transition begin at the point where birth rates and death rates are HIGH? That is not possible in the world we inhabit. For thousands upon thousands of years, prior to the past several hundred years, everyone I respect can see and agree that birth rates and death rates were LOW in the human community.

According to the DMT Theory somehow, magically I suppose, birth rates and death rates started at the HIGH POINT. That is not possible. There must be stages prior to Stage I during which the human population goes from LOW BIRTH RATES and LOW DEATH RATES to the HIGH BIRTH RATES and HIGH DEATH RATES in Stage I.

Now let's look at Stage 4, supposedly the last stage. This cannot actually be the last stage, given biophysical reality, including the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Where are the resources to come from that can conceivably support 10 billion human beings overconsuming, overproducing and, until some mythical moment extolling the ending of Stage 4, overpopulating the noticeably finite resources and evidently frangible ecology in the planetary home we inhabit.

Don, where is the scientific evidence that explains how absolute global human population numbers benignly crest in the middle of Century XXI? I can find none!

The DMT Theory is not only a product of preternatural thought it also happens to be politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerable and culturally prescribed. As a consequence, I believe it has been widely shared and consensually validated for the past 65 years as if it represented adequate science, forget about the best available science, and allowed to stand without reasonable review and careful examination during my entire lifetime. DMT Theory is not adequate science, I believe, let alone the best available science. Please consider that this catastrophic failure on the part of knowledgeable experts in fields of inquiry related to subject of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth has made, and continues to make it exceeding difficult for the human community to respond ably to human-induced aspects ( the ones derived directly from the recent skyrocketing growth of absolute human population numbers worldwide) of the global predicament looming ominously before humanity and threatening the future of children everywhere in our time.



Dear Don and Friends,

The Theory of the Demographic Transition reminds me more of attractive religious dogma than a product of scientific inquiry. Where is the healthy skepticism, the critical analysis, the advanced thinking associated with this theory? For way too long, it has been erroneously accepted lock, stock and barrel as if it was an adequate product of scientific investigation and then misused as a predictor of things to come in the middle of Century XXI.

Given what is occurring in our time, how on Earth do human population numbers benignly 'crest' at 9 to 10 billion people a mere four decades from now? What do you suppose billions of fertile young people, who are expected to be capable of reproducing in the middle of this century, will be doing with their sexual instincts and drives other than what human beings have been doing during the past several thousand years?

Please, kindly take a moment to explain what you expect will occur that results in the widely shared and consensually validated projection indicating the automatic stabilization of absolute population numbers of the human species on Earth in the year 2050, given the fully anticipated young age distribution of a global population of 9 to 10 billion people at that time.



Re: Power Ship To Supply Electricity-Starved Pakistan

The always awesome Leanan left off what I think is the most important issue when she excerpted this article -- what is this power station fueled by? Here's the next line in the article:

The ship, which burns furnace oil, will generate about 230 megawatts for the national power grid, said Asad Mahmood, a spokesman for the vessel's Turkish owner Karkey Karadeniz Electrik.

Inquiring minds (or at least one of them) want to know:

  1. Precisely what type of fuel will it burn?
  2. How much fuel will it burn annualy?
  3. Who is supplying the fuel?
  4. Who else buys this type of fuel? (Who are they competing against?)

We have some answers in the article and very detailed information in the project's Environmental Impact Assessment prepared for the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency. (Who knew they had one?)

1) What type of fuel will it burn?

The article mentions "furnace oil" which looks like FFO or Number 5. or 6. according the the Wikipedia article on Fuel Oil. In the JODI dataset this would fall under the category "Residiual Fuel Oil".

(Note: The Wikipedia article has a specific request for "attention from an expert on the subject" if any readers want to improve that article.)

The 'EIA' -- that would be Environmental Impact Assessment, not that other EIA ;-^) -- says it will burn both Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and Light Fuel Oil (LFO).

2) How much fuel will it burn annually?

According to the 'EIA':

Heavy Fuel Oil and Light Fuel Oil, with relatively low sulphur will be the sole fuel of the plant for normal operation. Both the barges will consume approximately 60 tons per hour with both units at full load.

That is 1,500 tons per day or 547,500 tons per year.

Using TNK-BP's handy conversion calculator, this is about 11 thousand barrels daily or 4 million barrels annually.

3) Who is supplying the fuel?

Anybody got information on this one?

Who else buys this type of fuel?

Anyone have good links describing the global HFO and LFO trade?

Inquiring minds want to know!


Interesting interview over at maxkeiser.com today:


Nothing new here, but the rising tide of awareness continues.

I believe that the consensus is moving - more and more mainstream analysts are realizing peak oil is close by. This may be a factor in the upward trend in oil prices. There may be a tipping point where peak oil becomes the consensus view - resulting in a rush to secure future oil supplies.

Nothing new here, but the rising tide of awareness continues.

Agreed, and I would take it a step farther and say that when oil rises above a 100 a barrel to some price that causes another step down in the economy, there will be a lot more Mainstream news outlets reporting on peak oil, because having happened twice it will be easier to connect the dots. Even though real estate values will take another hit with a lot more foreclosures occurring, it will become clearer that high priced oil acts as a huge drag on economic activity. With higher profile news reporting on peak oil it should finally permeate the majority of the populace. At least that is my suggestion of what will occur.

"With higher profile news reporting on peak oil it should finally permeate the majority of the populace."

Kind of like climate change :-/

Excellent video which I recommend to all. You didn't point out it's from Press TV, Iran - but I will :-) The spirit of Dr. Bakhtiari lives on.

Re: Carbon Capture
Under CCS CO2 is deposited more than 1500 feet below ground in selected deep saline aquifers or oil/ gas fields while deep water wells are rarely more than 500 feet deep.
The DOE financed study actually is for monitoring tests at CO2 sequestration sites in case of leakage.
More fear-mongering by would-be 'science' journalists.

I would like to offer a general criticism of the “peak everything” crowd, which is that you seem to suffer from a rather literal, unimaginative view of human history and potential. I’m reminded of a tribe of hunter-gatherers gathered around a fire lamenting their imminent demise from climate change or lack of game ten thousand years ago. Meanwhile, in the next valley over some ingenious fellows were busy inventing agriculture and setting the stage for a revolution in human civilization. We’re at a similar historic moment now, imo -- which camp would you rather be in?

The Malthusian narrative has failed for two centuries and counting, but its adherents keep insisting that a die-off is just around the corner. Maybe they have some morbid desire to see civilization collapse and the human population drastically reduced? Remember, there is no peak to human imagination and ingenuity! Human beings are the magic-wielding animals, in that we have the power to continually change the rules of the game and render all previous predictions absurd. Here’s a quote to keep in mind for those who find themselves trapped in this “peak everything” narrative, which history demonstrates to be a much more accurate story about our world:

"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." --J. B. S. Haldane

Can you think of any past civilizations that have overrun their resource base? Any previous civilizations that have collapsed? Why didn't human imagination and ingenuity save them? How are we different? Also, is imagination and ingenuity independent of energy?

The Malthusian narrative has failed for two centuries and counting, but its adherents keep insisting that a die-off is just around the corner.

Are you saying:
(1) a global die-off hasn't happened before, therefore it will never happen?
(2) human ingenuity has always managed to overcome local resource depletion, therefore infinite population growth on a finite Earth is physically possible?

Remember, there is no peak to human imagination and ingenuity!

Do you really think unlimited population/economic growth is possible beacause human imagination and ingenuity are more important than finite arable land, fresh water, fossil fuels, etc.

Remember, there is no peak to human imagination and ingenuity!

Human ingenuity still hasn't found the cure for cancer, AIDS, Hepatitis C&B, and the list can go on and on! AND we need these cures badly!

Still, we would be better off if we'd use teleportation instead of planes, cars, etc. There's no teleportation yet! Why doesn't human ingenuity come to the rescue?

Quantum computers would be very useful in pharmaceutics! In fact a QC would probably find the cures for the above health issues. There is no QC yet! So, why doesn't human ingenuity come to the rescue again?

Examples like these are plentiful.

In response to some of your points:

Past civilizations which collapsed were generally barely out of the Stone Age or at least pre-scientific; I’m not aware of any collapses of scientifically and technologically advanced civilizations (and no, I don’t consider ancient Rome scientifically advanced).

Arguing that because we haven’t yet cured AIDS, we won’t solve our current problems seems rather silly. We’ve actually made huge progress fighting AIDS by the way -- what was once a quick death sentence is now a treatable condition. Quantum computers don’t yet exist, and maybe they never will, but if we gave up that quickly we’d all still be living in the Stone Age!

No one is suggesting that infinite population growth on this planet is possible or desirable. But if you look at things more creatively, you’ll see that we aren’t limited to this planet, its current resource distribution or even our current primate forms. Arable land, water and fossil fuels are of course important, but at some point I expect us to be able to manufacture those things almost at will. Because isn’t human history basically a story of men becoming magicians? Aren’t most of our modern technologies indistinguishable from magic to a primitive man’s eyes? The alchemists (like Newton) called this process of mastering our environment and ourselves the “Great Work”, and I see no reason to believe that it is in danger of ending any time soon.

Imagine? You've been listening to John Lennon too much, stuff written around the time Jimmy Carter imagined a radical new energy policy, about the time a lot of people imagined we humans could "give peace a chance".

I've imagined some pretty cool things in my 50+ years, and managed to drag a very few of those things into the real world. It took time, planning, resources, capital, focus and sacrifice..... and a lot of luck.

Imagine that for ~7 billion people on a small planet.

Arable land, water and fossil fuels are of course important, but at some point I expect us to be able to manufacture those things almost at will.

So you believe we'll be able synthetically create and ramp up enough food and fesh water to feed tens of billions of humans, while at the same time naturally occuring arable land, fresh water, fish, and fossil fuels are in sustained decline?

Aren’t most of our modern technologies indistinguishable from magic to a primitive man’s eyes?

The difference is that modern technologies are physically possible, but magic isn't.

Arguing that because we haven’t yet cured AIDS, we won’t solve our current problems seems rather silly. We’ve actually made huge progress fighting AIDS by the way -- what was once a quick death sentence is now a treatable condition.


Nice reply , but ...

If i were to expand on my silly AIDS example i would tell you that at the time of Peak Oil (i.e. right now), when all energy is plentiful and at the max, if you happen to get AIDS in the country where i live you are pretty much screwed! And i would bet, if you let me imagine this sick example, if all global population would get AIDS 50% of them would be pretty much screwed because they do not have the money - and money is energy , which, by the way, is at the MAX right now... so it seems!

I’m not aware of any collapses of scientifically and technologically advanced civilizations (and no, I don’t consider ancient Rome scientifically advanced)


This is an interesting type of logic you have here! Let me translate what you said by giving you an example:

"So here we are at the beginning of aeronautics with the Wright brothers successfully flying a plane. Everybody on the side applauds and cant't see why a second flight might be dangerous&risky because the first one just went sooooo fine."

How could you infer that the future is bright for our technological society without having a history of failures or successes of advanced civilizations?
We're pretty much on the same ground here! Only that, i can give a hell of a lot more examples of why we may be screwed. If we're so cohesively smart as a society why couldn't we dodge global warming?

Unlike this example where planes are, again, plentiful so they can crash anytime they choose to, our civilization has only one, or just a few, chanches before it crashes.

The people who lived in those societies were exactly the same as us in terms of intelligence, imagination and ingenuity - they simply had not exploited fossil fuels. But of course you've now changed it to science and technology that make the difference, not understanding that this ultimately was also a byproduct of the massive excess energy of fossil fuels.

About what year did we pass the threshold when we became immune to collapse? What particular scientific breakthrough did it, what technology?

And we'll soon be able to manufacture arable land, water and fossil fuels?

Well, good luck with that - I confess that I cannot take anyone who hold views such as yours seriously, and I doubt I can convince you of much, so it's best if I let it drop.

The big difference was their limited knowledge of how to engineer their environments -- lacking the scientific method and sophisticated tools, they essentially had to take what nature gave them. We still do too, but not to the same extent and certainly in the future, as we gain finer control over matter at the atomic level, this should be far, far less true.

Reducing every discussion to "but without fossil fuels nothing is possible!" is popular here but it strikes me as absurd. We became hooked on fossil fuels because they were abundant and easy to exploit, but as that changes we will use our creative faculties to transition to other energy sources. In fact this transition is already well underway throughout the industrialized world. Note also that we already do in effect manufacture arable land, water and fossil fuels on a small scale, so the idea is far from silly.

Why do peak oilers constantly underestimate human creativity?? The sum total of human knowledge is now available globally, and there are billions of human brains plugging into this matrix who will have the opportunity to add their ideas to our collective enterprise. I find it very bizarre that people think a plot of global oil production exercises some ineluctable power over human destiny.

Magic is just illusion and believing in it is "delusion".

b : a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs

Our imagination and ingenuity, which people seem to confuse with omnipotence, has created so much entropy it is now actually killing life on Earth and causing an extinction event. But our greatest delusion is the belief that we can synthesise nature and recreate all we need to sustain life. Unfortunately, hospitals are full of people dying of so called genetic diseases (ie. an acute response living things have to the synthetic) which allows the deluded to again be dazzled by our imagination and ingenuity in the form of medicine. A marvellous virtuous circle where we use our imagination and ingenuity to treat the diseases our imagination and ingenuity miraculously created.

History is full of examples where the deluded achieved great feats, believing they'd escaped Nature's rules, only to find they'd confused overshoot for independence. We're now pushing such a huge bow-wave of entropy in front of us that when it bounces back from the walls of our finite planet it will swamp us. And where imagination and ingenuity will certainly help us recover from the disaster, it will not prevent what it has caused. Everything in overshoot eventually collapses (a regression to the mean) and the way to avoid it is to live within the defines of our resource base. Imagination and ingenuity is certainly necessary to make such a life more comfortable, as is common sense and having our feet firmly on the ground and not to be lost in the clouds of delusion.

"We" will use our creative faculties to transition to other energy sources.

Why do peak oilers constantly underestimate human creativity?

Let's put it this way: There is evidence all around you; in the newspapers and in history books that points to the irrationality and herd mentality of the human creature.

Yet you keep dreaming of this magical, mystical "We" creature that will float down from heaven on golden gossamer wings and bring us The Singularity.

supporting examples:
1. Even the great Tom Tom guidance system admits that our edge-location system is spiralling in a direction opposite from heavenwards: Teaching for America -Tom Friedman

2. "We" are the ones we built nukes for --to annihilate ourselves (Dowd)

3. "We" have reached the top of the world on a pale-on horse (Rich)

"In fact this transition is already well underway throughout the industrialized world."

I think that's the illusion where you will find considerable disagreement with most people here. Oil and Coal are simply massive enablers today, and while there are some options around, they are truly minimal in how much is available yet. I'm a huge booster for solar PV and direct Solar, most of the Alternatives.. but not with the fantasy that they will ride in for us like the Cavalry.

We know HOW to build lifeboats and lifejackets.. but we are still floating on the big Oil Boat, and the icebergs are visible, but the band is still leading the grand waltz.. IF, IF we were building out alternatives, Trains, better buildings at a truly furious pace right now, then the thought of a serious Oil Downslide in 2012 or 2015 might look to have better odds, but so far, too many people are still just looking to have the full last season of Galactica.

This is a test you can't just cram for in an all-nighter. It's not destiny, it's physics. Speed combined with Mass, Momentum.

PS, your Chosen Name is simply a fight starter. If you've read here for a while, you should see that one coming. It makes any comment you place instantly suspected of not being concerned with exhausting scientific facts like friction, gravity, inertia..

Of course, I have to consider that maybe you ARE just here as a fight starter.. why else would someone choose that name?

I myself see humans as quite ingenious and having great capacity for both good and ill. But one must look beyond the scope of recorded human history to understand the challenges which have overwhelmed species in the past. Over a few thousand years, we humans have overcome great challenges. But on the scale of millions and hundreds of millions of years, we have seen very little of what nature can throw at us. We have survived plagues, locusts, and the use of the atom bomb. But at more than one point, it appears that large meteors have struck the earth within the last 100 million years, wiping out many, but not all species. There were periods when the only life surviving was under the sea because the atmosphere was not yet protective from radiation. It is important to take in the full range of possible adversities when considering the survival of the species over longer periods of time.

I see the possibility that humans and civilization can survive, but it becomes less likely with continued passivity in most nations against the most serious of threats. It is because of the breadth and depth of knowledge that we humans have in the 21st century that I am pessimistic about our chances. We have explored the periodic table, the human genome, the reaches of space. In some areas, we have just begun. But we know enough to know that there are no readily available new sources of energy waiting for us to drill. There may be other sources not yet known, but it is highly unlikely that they will be easy to tap with low costs either environmentally or economically. We know that our atmosphere is fragile and has changed much over the eons and we are messing with it big time with 200 years of greenhouse gases. We know enough to know that our situation is precarious and that the bulk of humanity, including leaders, are either unaware or frozen in the face of threat.

It is not I have little faith in human ingenuity; I have very little faith in human politics. Even though there are ways to address problems (powerdown, change housing, manufacturing and transportation, population control), there are so many social and political forces against doing what needs to be done. We have converging crises previously named: climate change, peak oil, resource depletion, overpopulation. We are very adaptable given enough time. The question is how much time do we have to adapt? We have previously experienced climate change within the lifespan of the human species, but I believe we had centuries to adapt to relatively slow changes. Anthropogenic climate change is threatening because it is unpredictable and accelerated. The more greenhouse gases we poor into the atmosphere, the more rapid the changes will be. This is happening at the same time our preferred sources of energy are likely declining in supply which are essential for maintaing adequate food supply which needs fresh water. The changes that will be required of us are on a huge unprecedented scale. They will require not just a new invention, or a few changes, but radical changes in our ways of thinking about our needs and our relations to the rest of nature. This will require nearly universal adherence to undesired choices contrary to our current ways of living.

We humans do have great ingenuity which I admire endlessly, but we also face great threats, many of our own making. We are ill served by denying the severity of those threats. Not only are we ingenious for good, but we are just little monkeys getting ourselves into trouble by creating havoc wherever we go. We will be tested severely as a species, indeed our ecosystem is quite challenged. I cannot accept boundless optimism about the human species because we are not so different from others who have gone before us and bit the dust. I see room for a range of perspectives with the upper limit being very cautious optimism, with very little penalty for being pessimistic given the array of threats arrayed against our kind and our kin.

Written by Magical Thinker:
The big difference was their limited knowledge of how to engineer their environments -- lacking the scientific method and sophisticated tools, they essentially had to take what nature gave them. We still do too, but not to the same extent and certainly in the future, as we gain finer control over matter at the atomic level, this should be far, far less true.

After you invent a Star Trek matter replicator and I study its physical properties, then we can assess the degree to which it can be scaled up and substitute for resource depletion. Meanwhile, it is hypothetical, may be physically impossible and may not arrive in time.

I believe that the doomers have abandoned hope. They look at the scale of the problem and the amount of change required to address those changes, and they despair. Many of them are, in essence, declaring that they do not want to adapt, they want to hang on to what they have. Since they also understand that business as usual (a non adaption scenario) is not likely to be viable, they are conflicted. They also have a tendency to argue vehemently for the validity of their philosophical stance. Pointing out that they are doomers, and that there is hope for the future, is an easy way of getting them to react.

There is another group of people who also accept the future problem scenario arising from fossil fuel depletion. This group is, arguably, more pragmatic and are adapting to changing circumstances. While they may believe that their future lifestyle will not be as convenient as the one they currently experience, they are willing to make the best of it and, perhaps, hope that the myriad efforts of billions of other humans will result in an outcome that is not a collapse scenario.

You offered one scenario which seemed to suggest that the basic inputs to our system, like food, will be manufactured. I suggest that you consider looking at manufacturing as an application of energy to transform materials. That use of energy will be a stumbling block in a fossil fuel constrained future.

While it is true that mankind has repeatedly surmounted constraints in the past, it is also true that nearly all of the solutions required an increase in the overall usage of energy. Expensive energy presents a fundamentally new constraint for modern technological society. While increases in efficiency will certainly help, a key concern is what to do when the increasing price of energy is greater than the efficiency gains.

A billion human minds is a staggering amount of inventiveness. When connected together, say with internet mediated social networks, the result can be absolutely amazing achievements! Humanity will adapt. It always has and always will. It is demonstrably the most adaptable organism on the planet. I also suspect that the ability to adapt is non linearly related to the number of engaged humans. So there is hope for the future.

An aspect of the social dynamics of TOD, and not the only one, appears to be one wherein the pragmatic optimists I mentioned above show up, learn about peak oil, get vehemently beaten around the ears when they talk about optimistic outcomes, and then go off to adapt and create solutions that work. The doomers remain...

Humanity will adapt.

It always has and always will.

Two books you need desperately to read:

1. Collapse --Jared Diamond [ i.mage.+]
2. Black Swan --Nassim Taleb [ i.mage.+]

lurker - Folks offering optimistic outcomes based upon reasonable assumptions are always welcome. Even if I don't agree with any or all of those assumptions I'm still glad to discuss them. But just saying things will be OK or that someone really smart will eventually come up with a solution is just a waste of time IMHO. One fact needs to worked into the "smart minds will solve our problems" argument: the situation we find ourselves in developed with those same great thinkers out there. And they've watched this situation develop for at least the last 20 years. So why has this great inventive power been holding back? We needed any viable solutions to begin implimentation decades ago. Perhaps they've been focused on more pressing problems.

Also: "and then go off to adapt and create solutions that work." Please enlighten us with those successful "solutions" that have been rejected on TOD. Doing so would greatly increase your credibility and lead me to not ignore any of your posts in the future.

I believe that the doomers have abandoned hope. They look at the scale of the problem and the amount of change required to address those changes, and they despair

Hope for what? Address what changes? It sounds to me like you are referring to that which would be required to keep things going as they are, to continue BAU. In that regard, most of the realists here have gained an understanding that what we have been doing is not something that can or should be continued.

Many of them are, in essence, declaring that they do not want to adapt, they want to hang on to what they have.

Here you go totally off the rails. Many of those who get labeled as "doomers" here are also some of those who are actively adapting, embracing a different view of what they need and understanding the folly of trying to hang on to what they had.

When I scoff at those hanging false hopes on EVs to continue our car culture, or a renewable energy electric grid to provide electric power on demand like they always had, it's not because I don't want to adapt or despair. Rather it is because I understand the limitations that will prevent those technologies from being used in that way. Both technologies will exist, but neither will enable what the cornacopians dream they will. Therefore I do not build my hopes and dreams on such fantasies, but think instead about other ways to live a meaningful life.

I know that we face a lot of very hard times ahead, but this does not cause paralysis and fear. It just is. There is still a lot of work to be done in trying to adapt. And I must finish my coffee and go do some of it.

The cultural belief that we can make things happen by thinking, by visualizing, by wanting them, by tapping into our inner strength or by understanding that we are truly exceptional is magical thinking. http://www.countercurrents.org/hedges190310.htm

I highly recommend this article. Link from Todd, thanks!

Dear Magical Thinker, what we could do, should do and will do are all different things. What we could do is limited by physics. What we should do requires wisdom to foresee the limits of our world, the consequences of our choices and the desire to sacrifice. What we will do ends up being driven by emotion, instinct, desire and our ability to do.

Written by Magical Thinker:
But if you look at things more creatively, you’ll see that we aren’t limited to this planet, its current resource distribution or even our current primate forms. Arable land, water and fossil fuels are of course important, but at some point I expect us to be able to manufacture those things almost at will.

With unlimited cheap energy we could concentrate increasingly rarefied resources approaching your utopia. But energy is not unlimited and forever cheap because the second law of thermodynamics places constraints. We are limited to planet Earth. Do you know why? Imagination is boundless, but Mother Nature is merciless. Scientists and engineers, grounded in the real world, are necessary to turn imagination into reality. A dreamer does not see what is happening around him as he conjures and lives in his imaginary, magical world.

Bob Shaw's question from Phoenix, AZ: "Are humans smarter than yeast?"

+ 5


(It's always 42, the answer is that is)

Well said

I would like to offer a general criticism of the “peak everything” crowd, which is that you seem to suffer from a rather literal, unimaginative view of human history and potential.

Unimaginative as in not-"magical"?

I’m reminded of a tribe of hunter-gatherers gathered around a fire lamenting their imminent demise from climate change or lack of game ten thousand years ago.

Is this tribe in your head or do you have an actual tribe you can point to?

The Malthusian narrative has failed for two centuries and counting,

As you've opted to claim this - can you define what YOU think the "Malthusian narrative" is?

That way, if your claim is to be debated "we" are all on the same page.

Remember, there is no peak to human imagination and ingenuity!

Do you have actual data to back up this claim?

Human beings are the magic-wielding animals

So now your debating point is to use wordy-words like "magic"?

Wait...isn't "magic" a term used to explain something one does not understand?

Please show you have understanding - explain exactly what you mean by "Malthusian narrative"?

There is no peak to human imagination and ingenuity!

Do you have actual data to back up this claim?

Actually there is some scientific basis for concluding that there are limits to human imagination and ingenuity.

Astro-physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gives the example of trying to teach your pet dog (or was it a chimpanzee?) trigonometry.

Yes, sure, you can teach your dog to sit, come, roll over, etc. But it is very doubtful that you will ever teach your dog to understand trigonometry.

See this video clip

I believe there are also limits to 'human imagination' also.

You have factors like 'has this been stated before' - The UNIX(tm) tool chain had the thinking 'build upon the works of others' - similar to a quote about seeing things only because you sand on the shoulders of giants. (this web site is another example of standing on the works of others. Without Drupal, PostgreSQL, Apache, FreeBSD (or other code that would do similar work)- it would not exist)
No one talked about Dred Cthulhu 'till Lovecraft gave it a name and form.

You have factors like the wiring of each brain, the food eaten by the grandmother and mother, the chemicals in the environment (not food ones), emotional support of the to be mother then the child and eventually you get to the training of that human. With training (education) circling back to standing on shoulders.

And finally if one could drag the numbers together I'm betting a 'imagination per capita' could be done up showing the effects of the printed word, radio, TV, internet, interactive 3d shoot'em ups et la on such a ratio. The number of patents makes for a poor proxy.

Toss in a bit of 'in my day things were better and the young people weren't as lazy/stupid/et la' bias and "we" could have a real find discussion.

But no reasonable discussion is gonna start from a lack of data or calling things "magic". You link is a fine start - goes along with "finite grey matter, finite time to learn - a finite amount to 'know'" .... peak brain and peak brain stuffing to go right into the "peak everything" narrative.

While there are limits to human imagination and ingenuity, they appear sufficient to build information systems that will be able to continue beyond human limitations.

Sorry. You have surpassed my abilities to understand. How can a person use "information" that is beyond his/her ability to understand it, even if it comes from an "information system" (whatever that is, do you mean human-built computers)?

With that said, we do have a system that surpasses the ability of any one person to understand it.

It is called the Adam Smith system of collective specialization.

Each person has extraordinary knowledge ability in the one niche of specialization at the cost of knowing next to nothing about everything else.

sb - Interesting. Never heard of Mr. Smith's system of collective specialization but I don't get out much. But it sounds exactly where the oil patch has reached. We bounced around this subject with the BP blow out. As pointed out before not only are the individual components of drilling any well complicated and require specialists, individual companies don't even employ these specialist directly. The great majority of tech specialists in the oil patch are employeed by the service companies. From a practical standpoint it's virtually impossible for any compnay, ExxonMobil/BP/etc, to drill a DW well with the aid of their employees alone. Much of the work is outsource. In fact 95% of the well site work is outsourced. Makes for a cost effective approach (until you blow out, of course) but also allows the loss of a cohesive plan and the ability to exert absolute control over it. Similar to what happened in the Navy over 20 years ago. Not sure if it's still true but back then the weapons system got so sophisticated that there weren't enough skilled Navy personnel to handle the tasks. The little secret was the large number of civilian contractors posted onboard who actually managed those systems. Efficient and solved the immediate problem. But at what cost in potential loss of control by command. In the case of BP's little problem it seems that loss of direct involvement/control was a major factor in the failure IMHO.

Collective specialization does look attractive. Until it blows up in your face. The answer would seem to be to develop a control protocol. But how is that done by folks who aren't knowledgeable in every aspect of the system? I think it might be done on a large scale basis but would take a very different mentality found in many large corporations/govt departments today.

Never heard of Mr. [Adam] Smith's system of collective specialization

but I don't get out much.

It's also known as "capitalism", "The Market" and "competitive advantage".

Each of us wee folk is of limited ability and we already freely admit it:

"Hey, I'm not a rocket scientist, but Steven Hawkings said ...."

"Hey, I'm not an economist, but Alan Greesnpan said ...."

"Hey, I don't know much about oil, but Daniel Yergin said ..."

Can we comment on the TSA and their new groping policy? I see Ron Paul has introduced a bill on the subject... If not go ahead and delete this comment.

Police state anyone?


Travel by train is looking better and better. In any case, it's interesting that the Israelis don't use the full body scanners.

Full-body scanners are waste of money, Israeli expert says

A leading Israeli airport security expert says the Canadian government has wasted millions of dollars to install "useless" imaging machines at airports across the country.

"I don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747," Rafi Sela told parliamentarians probing the state of aviation safety in Canada.

"That's why we haven't put them in our airport," Sela said, referring to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, which has some of the toughest security in the world.

Israelis do airport security just the opposite way from the U.S. and Canada. First of all, 95% of Israeli security is done before the passenger arrives at the airport. They know who to watch and they watch them closely. Those who are not a hazard do not face invasive searches of any kind, though they will open your suitcase and look very carefully, especially if they do not know who you are. Their airport security men and women are well-paid and extremely well qualified--very very bright persons indeed. And who do we hire in the U.S.? Minimum wage workers (or a little above minimum wage, not much) who have few if any qualifications and who are not reknowned for their diligence or intelligence. In my carry-on luggage I used to routinely carry a fifth of 190 Proof Everclear. This plastic flask passed through any number of flouroscope machines. Even after 9/11 my carry on luggage was passed through with merely cursory examination.

By the way, I have not flown since 2002, and even though I want to visit my San Francisco Bay Area relatives, I'll most likely take Amtrak, though it is not convenient. I did a tremendous amount of very cheap air travel in the weeks and months after 9/11. At Boston Logan airport in late September 2001, assault-rifle-carrying security men (Mostly National Guard, I'm guessing.) far outnumbered the passengers. I knew that I had a unique opportunity to travel on the cheap that would never come again. $59 for round trip, Minneapolis to London, fares like that.

I'm done traveling by air. I flown many time since 9/11 but never had much issue. I will not go though a system that puts my family in the position to legally be molested.

Is this whole thing some sort of sick way to scare people off from traveling? I really am not sure the purpose. It will be interesting if air travel numbers drop off over the next few months.

One South American airport I passed through was filled with soldiers. The bags simply HAD to go through the X-Ray machine. You don't argue with a nervy conscript carrying a serious gun. Secure? There was nobody at the console watching the pretty pictures of the bags going through.


The Israeli style works great for Israel. But it really can't scale up for the amount of travel that is done in the USA. If you think the security check-point lines are slow now, they'd become even more slow & expensive if we tried to use the Israeli system.

I think airport security these days is nothing but a game of 'Simon Sez' that the terrorist are playing.
Terrorist 1: Hey . . . wanna see me make all Americans take their shoes off?
Terrorist 2: Yeah!
Terrorist 1: Hey Akmed, send Richard Reid out with a shoe bomb.

Terrorist 1: Hey . . . wanna see all the Americans groped or naked?
Terrorist 2: Yeah!
Terrorist 1: Hey Akmed, send that underwear bomb guy!

Have you ever boarded at Ben Gurion airport?

It would be pretty easy to scale up the efficient Israeli security system for U.S. airports. If we were smart, we would quickly do so. And get rid of the molestation and body scans in the process . . . .

Yeah, I've flown to Israel. If you have to interview every single passenger multiple times, it would just take too long. And it would be hard to find enough smart people that would take such a job.

Securized airport for securized tourism... Tel Aviv resulted as the 3rd best city in the world for a well known tourist guide. For next year, 2011. At number 3 with a bullet, coming in behind New York, and Tangier (Morocco).

Some wines produced in Israel are excellent--a bargain at U.S. liquor stores. Also, if you know the right places, you can eat good food at rather reasonable prices. Best plan is to get invited to Israeli homes. I have a nephew there who is a senior pilot with El Al. He teaches other El Al pilots and still flies as chief pilot on the choicest Boeing 747 routes, e.g. Tel Aviv to Johannesbug.

Don, I thought you were going to take time off from TOD to write your memoirs.

In any case, don't write 'em in the comments here. Thanks.

Isn't it all right to write some of my memoirs (in abbreviated form) on day-old Drumbeats. I like to have dialogues on old Drumbeats.

Thanks for the advice, however. You do know best.

After I'm done writing for a day (I take Sundays off from writing.) I do like to make somewhat rambling comments on old Drumbeats, but if this is verboten I shall not do it anymore. Sigh.

The end of chinese-shaped globalization is here

Listen why 2011-2012 will be the end of China "monster growth".
The per capita electricity production is clearly heading down by entering a steep decrement in production rate. Is a negative oscillatory cycle, no Ghawar, no Cantarell, no giant coal new discovery could balance this numbers.

China : electricity production ; year and kWh per capita
1988 ... 495 kWh pc (- , -)
1990 ... 547 kWh pc (+ 52, +10,5%)
1992 ... 647 kWh pc (+ 100, +18,3%)
1994 ... 779 kwh pc (+ 132, +20,4%) phase I : geometric progression slow decrement
1996 ... 887 kWh pc (+ 108, +13,8%) phase II : g.p. medium decrement
1998 ... 939 kWh pc (+ 52, + 5,8%) phase III : g.p. heavy decrement
2000 ... 1074 kWh pc (+ 135, +14,3%)
2002 ... 1281 kWh pc (+ 207, +19,2%)
2004 ... 1697 kWh pc (+ 416, +32,4%)
2006 ... 2180 kWh pc (+ 483, +28,4%) phase I : g.p. rate slow decrement
2008 .. *2500 kWh pc (+ 320, +14,6%) phase II : g.p. rate medium decrement ??
2010 .. **2725 kWh pc (+ 225, +9,0%) phase III : g.p. rate heavy decrement ?? ??
2012 .. **2700 kWh pc (- 25, -0,9%) phase IV : g.p. negative rate ; 1st time in 21th century ?? ??

Data sources ...://devdata.worldbank.org

Do you have similar data for India?If yes please post.Tks

Where does your estimated figure for 2012 come from? It's certainly not the World Bank. And for the first ten months of 2010, Chinese electrical generation is reported (by the Chinese) as up 14.9% on 2009. 2009 was up 6.3% on 2008. So your estimate of 2010 per capita consumption up only 9% on 2008 seems complete nonsense when compared to the official Chinese data.

Or do you not believe the official government data?

I do not believe the official "in time" data of the chinese government: simply because for coal they was giving absurd data in the past and they had to adjust it months or years later.

I am inclined to distrust lots of numbers at the moment but do you have any examples of major Chinese revisions in previously published energy data for the last 5 years? China claims total electrical consumption is up 22% on 2008 but you claim about 9%. If China corrects previously published values for 2010 down to match your figure I'll eat my hat.

I note China also claims its oil production is up about 350,000 bpd on last year. I am not sure I believe that but I'll bet they don't revise that much either.

We'll see.