Drumbeat: December 8, 2010

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Future of Government

What all those calling for reduced government fail to grasp, however, is that 200 years of cheap abundant fossil fuel energy has transformed this country into something completely different. Take food as an example, 200 years ago, some 90+ percent of us were involved in its raising or otherwise procuring food -- or we would simply not eat. Now, thanks to cheap fossil fuels, less than 3 percent of us are engaged in agricultural endeavors and I suspect only a fraction of our "farmers" still have all the requisite skills to feed themselves and their families in the style to which they have become accustomed. Take away the diesel for the tractors and farming is going to become mighty different. Has anyone yoked an ox lately?

In short, 200 years of abundant energy have allowed us to build an extremely complex civilization based on dozens of interrelated systems without which we can no longer live - at least not in the style to which we have become accustomed. Food production and distribution, water, sewage, solid waste removal, communications, healthcare, transportation, public safety, education --- the list of systems vital-to-life and general wellbeing goes on and on.

Kessel Sees Mexican Crude Oil Production Falling For Seventh Straight Year

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, is likely to post a seventh straight year of output declines in 2011 after the company faced delays to attract private investment for exploration projects.

Output will likely average 2.55 million barrels a day next year, down from 2.58 million in 2010, Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said today in an interview. “From there on, we’ll continue to increase, very gradually, our production,” said Kessel, who is also chairwoman of the state-owned company.

Venezuela tells foreign players to boost output

Venezuela's government has ordered foreign oil companies to present higher production targets at more than 20 joint ventures within a month, as the Opec nation struggles with falling output of its main export.

Lyondell seeks new Houston refinery crude supply

HOUSTON (Reuters) - LyondellBasell said on Wednesday it is seeking new crude suppliers for its Houston refinery in order to replace some of the oil provided by Venezuela, which is looking to diversify its customer base beyond the Americas.

Enbridge Oil Pipeline Shipments Are Being Curtailed on Full Storage Tanks

Canadian Oil Sands Trust is shipping less crude oil than normal on Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline system because tanks along Enbridge’s system are full, Alison Trollope, a spokeswoman for the producer, said in a telephone interview.

“There may be some barrels that are produced in December that are shipped in January, but we don’t expect any material impact at this time,” she said. All western Canadian producers are probably affected by the situation, which developed about five days ago, Trollope said.

Syncrude cuts shipments due to pipeline rationing

(Reuters) - Syncrude Canada Ltd, one of the biggest oil sands producers, is delaying crude shipments to cope with the tight pipeline space that is plaguing the country's oil market, the joint venture's largest owner said on Wednesday.

Quebec shale gas play defies industry M&A trend

While leading energy firms scramble to buy a slice of the Marcellus shale in the United States, a potentially much richer shale gas deposit in Canada is drawing few buyers, and even fewer sellers.

Companies say fuzzy rules slowing Gulf permits

(Reuters) - New regulations for oil and gas exploration after the BP Plc oil spill remain unclear and continue to slow the issuance of drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico, executives with Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Apache Corp said on Wednesday.

ANALYSIS - Saudi Arabia plays Yemen double game - experts

(Reuters) - Saudi funding of Yemeni tribes for help against al Qaeda risks undermining central authority in the kingdom's poor neighbour at a moment when the government there needs all its clout to fight security threats.

The West relies heavily on the top oil exporter to help stabilise Yemen: Saudi Arabia is the largest financial donor, bankrolling the government of ally President Ali Saleh Abdullah, helping supplying Yemeni forces and building hospitals.

But analysts and diplomats say Saudi Arabia is at the same time sidelining Sanaa by directly supporting tribes who dominate much of the unruly country located strategically on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Sudan, South Sudan Armies Pledge to Safeguard Oil Flow

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the Khartoum-based government's army, and its former enemy, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of south Sudan, have signed an agreement to secure the flow of crude oil from Sudanese oil fields, irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming referendum on south Sudan self-determination.

Iran to raise petrol production

Iran says it plans to boost its domestic gasoline production by 10 million liters per day in the face of Western efforts to cripple the country's energy sector.

“With the inauguration of development projects in the country's oil refineries by late March, the country's oil production will increase by at least 10 million liters per day,” Iranian Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi was quoted by SHANA as saying on Tuesday.

Tehran citizens blame smog on domestic petrol

Tehran residents are blaming the Iranian government’s production of poor-quality petrol for the serious air pollution affecting Iran’s capital city.

Russia, Belarus fail to agree on oil export terms

(Reuters) - Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Belarussian counterpart Sergei Sidorsky failed to reach an agreement on oil export terms on Wednesday, raising the possibility of a new energy dispute between Minsk and Moscow. In June, Minsk threatened to cut Russian gas transit to Europe in a pricing dispute, and this time round it is oil which is causing tensions.

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Russia

(Reuters) - Russia is one of the world's most lucrative markets but is heavily dependent on energy and commodity exports, plagued by corruption and its political stability rests on one man, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Asia Distillates-Dec/Jan in small backwardation

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian gas oil's prompt timespread swung to a small backwardation on Wednesday, its highest level in 3-½ weeks with sentiment supported by signs of firm heating fuel demand in the West.

Higher heating fuel demand in Europe and the U.S. due to a cold snap could help reduce a persistent glut of distillate inventories in Asia, which have held above the 14-million-barrel mark for eight consecutive weeks.

Gasoline: $3 by Christmas and a 'Mini-Apocalypse' in Spring?

With crude oil prices at the highest level in more than two years, holiday shoppers face the agony of $3-a-gallon gas this holiday season -- and much higher prices likely by springtime. "It now look as if December 2010 is probably going to be the most expensive month for gasoline in the U.S. since September 2008," says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Wall, N.J.-based Oil Price Information Service.

Analysis: Demand for High-Spec Jackups to Keep Growing

Drilling contractors are renewing their jackup fleets with high-specification jackup rigs through both construction and acquisition as operators renew exploration efforts following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Pertamina Says Saudi, Kuwait Oil Deals in Pipeline

Jakarta. Pertamina plans to sign agreements early next year with Saudi Arabian Oil Company and Kuwait Petroleum for two oil refinery projects in Java.

OPEC: Kazakhstan to Boost Liquefied Hydrocarbon Supplies in 2014

OPEC forecasts an increase in supply of liquid hydrocarbons by Kazakhstan from 1.5 million barrels per day in 2009 up to 2 million bpd in 2014.

According to the OPEC report-2010 on the prospects of the oil market, the volume of liquid hydrocarbons delivered by Kazakhstan in 2010 will hit 1,6 million barrels per day, in 2011 -- 1.7 million, 2012 and 2013 -- 1.8 million barrels per day.

China May Postpone Fuel Price Increases on Inflation, CICC Says

China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, may delay increases in fuel prices because of inflation concerns, the nation’s largest investment bank said.

Adjustments may be postponed even after crude prices have risen 5 percent since the last fuel-price adjustment in October, Bin Guan, an analyst at China International Capital Corp., wrote in an e-mailed note dated yesterday.

The Gross Mismanagement of Mexico’s Oil Industry

Sayulita, Mexico – Mexico should be rich. Instead, the country provides a disheartening example of what author P.J. O’Rourke might call “making nothing from everything.”

Stung by protests, NOC throws ball into govt court

KATHMANDU: Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) General Manager Digamber Jha on Wednesday said the state-owned entity would roll back the price hike on petroleum products provided that the government provides a fund of Rs. 40 crores.

Arabs in drive to tap unconventional gas

Arab countries are set to embark on a drive to tap their massive unconventional gas resources following a sharp rise in production in the United States and development plans in other nations, according to an Arab study.

Gas producers in the Arab world and other countries are already following with strong interest what is commonly described as the "revolution" represented by the breakthrough of unconventional gas, including shale gas, tight gas and coal-bed methane, the first of these forms being the most developed at present in the United States, the Paris-based Arab Oil and Gas magazine said.

Range Hedges 80% of 2011 Gas Production

Range Resources wants to ensure that it has a steady stream of cash to pay for its 2011 developmental drilling program. The Fort Worth-based company will focus on the Marcellus Shale natural gas play in Pennsylvania, where it has a huge leasehold of 1.2 million net acres and steadily escalating production.

Accordingly, Range already has "hedged" more than 80 percent of its 2011 gas production, Rodney Waller, senior vice president, said Tuesday. Hedging involves entering into contracts to secure a guaranteed price for future production.

Crude Oil Price Ten Year Forecast to 2020

You can look the whole story up on Wikipedia, but I remember in 1995 Dr. Colin Campbell made a presentation to the British Parliament explaining to them in words of one-syllable that oil would peak worldwide in 2007 (something that the IEA has conceded four years late (they say it was 2006)), and that there would be a dramatic increase in prices (then they were about $15).

No one listened; they just kept pumping out Scotland’s oil and selling it at a ridiculously low price, until it ran out. Short term political gain trumps long-term strategy every time, in democratic systems weighted towards lofty sound-bites, cheatable expense-account living and index-linked pensions for the “in-crowd”, and avoidance of pain today.

BP, Contractors ‘Breathtakingly Inept,’ Reilly Says

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. were “breathtakingly inept” and made mistakes that were “largely preventable” at the doomed Macondo well, a leader of a panel investigating the disaster said.

Michael Economides: BP Full Of Fault For Gulf Spill But Obama Guilty Of Propagating Economic Disaster

Environmental activists and renewable fuel lobbyists have leveraged one company’s unorthodox missteps to push for onerous polices meant to cripple the entire U.S industry. From the president’s hastily initiated deepwater moratorium to BOEM’s continued de facto drilling ban via its permitting process to last week’s Interior announcement to reverse plans to open up lucrative development in areas like offshore Virginia, BP’s isolated and avoidable incident has been wielded as an instrument of punishment for a thriving American industry.

Barton Loses Bid to Lead House Energy Panel

Rep. Joe Barton failed Tuesday in his bid to lead one of the House's most powerful committees despite an aggressive campaign that involved mobilizing the support of tea party groups.

Barton's seniority placed him in line to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee, but he was weakened from the start by the fallout from his apology to BP PLC during a congressional hearing on its oil spill. He also needed a waiver of a term-limits rule to remain the top Republican on the committee for a fourth term.

U.K. Pledges Faster Review of Support for Renewable Electricity Projects

U.K. developers of large-scale renewable electricity projects will get earlier indications about how much support they will receive under the Renewables Obligation from 2013, Energy Minister Charles Hendry said today in a statement.

Iran plans wind farm for Pakistan

TEHRAN (UPI) -- An Iranian company linked to the country's Energy Ministry said it plans to build a massive wind farm in Pakistan's southern Sindh province.

U.S. Daily Ethanol Production Soars 6.1% to Record, Energy Department Says

U.S. ethanol production jumped 6.1 percent last week to a record 939,000 barrels a day, according to the Energy Department.

Output gained the most since July 30. Stockpiles of the gasoline additive sank 4.2 percent to 16.4 million barrels, the steepest decline since Aug. 20 and the lowest level since Nov. 5, the department said today in Washington.

Electric cars flooding the market in 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you want to buy an electric car today, good luck, it's slim pickins. But fast forward three years and you could be facing more plug-in choices than you'll know what to do with.

That could be a problem for carmakers because most Americans still have little or no interest in buying electric cars.

PANRC: The Witch of Hebron I

When he was finally at the podium he began with, "I'm going to address the woman thing right up front. I'm appalled that educated, intelligent women of the boomer generation are so incapable of imagining a world where a completely different economic status has evaporated the gains of women. You need to get over it."

At 38, I'm a bit crushed to find that Kunstler, who I've met several times at some length, apparently thinks I'm a baby boomer, when I'm young enough to be his daughter. I'm not sure which of us that reflects more poorly on. Given that I've spent at least as much time thinking and writing about the role of women in the post-peak future than he has I'm willing to make the case that the problem is not our failure to consider the subject. So I do want to talk about the gender issues in the book, particularly since Kunstler remains so defensive about his position on gender, but I'll save that and give it its own post, because there's a larger issue in _The Witch of Hebron_.

Turn challenges into opportunities - Cull

The global issues of climate change and peak oil must not only be faced, but Dunedin's response to them should be turned into opportunities for the betterment of the city, mayor Dave Cull says.

Fresh from receiving a report on peak oil, which followed another earlier this year on climate change, the issues were clearly at the centre of Mr Cull's thinking as he put together his state-of-the-city address.

Jeff Rubin: What will 2011 bring? Triple-digit oil

The strongest manufacturing numbers coming out of the Chinese economy in a seven-month period, coupled with plunging oil inventories in the world’s largest energy consuming economy, have sent oil prices to a 25-month high. With no let-up in China’s fuel demand, the world should be looking at triple-digit oil prices again within a quarter.

That may come as a shock to those who thought the bloated oil inventories that came in the wake of the last recession would provide a buffer against future oil price spikes. Suddenly, that buffer has literally gone up in smoke.

North America: The new energy kingdom

The American Petroleum Institute reports that the United States produced more crude oil in October than it has ever produced in a single month, “peak oil” or not.

This reversal of trend helps explain why U.S. domestic production for the year will be 140,000 barrels a day higher than last year (which was 410,000 barrels a day higher than 2008). Although the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says U.S. production will decline next year, who knows?

Could these numbers reflect the beginning of the end for U.S. dependence on Mideast oil?

Oil Falls a Second Day, Dropping From 26-Month High on Europe Debt Concern

Oil declined after breaking through $90 a barrel yesterday as on concern Europe’s debt crisis will hurt fuel consumption, and after an industry report showed U.S. gasoline supplies surged the most since January.

Futures fell a second day as traders secured profits from a rally to $90.76 a barrel, the highest in 26 months. The dollar strengthened after European ministers ruled out immediate aid for debt-ridden Portugal and Spain, dulling investor appetite for commodities. The American Petroleum Institute said gasoline stockpiles increased 4.8 million barrels last week.

Is Another Oil Spike Upon Us?

Once again Goldman Sachs has lifted its oil price forecast into triple digits. GS is not forecasting oil to reach US$100 in 2011, it is forecasting oil to average US$100 in 2011. To put that into context, oil is currently around US$90 but the 2010 average to date is only US$79. In other words, oil may yet spike in a similar fashion as it did in 2008.

OPEC has been down this road once before

Just a few days before OPEC ministers gather in Quito, Ecuador, for their final meeting of the year, crude is again hovering near US$90 per barrel. Could this be a replay of the last quarter of 2007, when crude rose 19 per cent in three months from about $80 in early October to more than $95 by the end of the year?

So far, the trading pattern looks similar.

OPEC to Maintain Quotas as Crude Exceeds $90

(Bloomberg) -- Oil’s rally to a more-than-two-year high is unlikely to coax OPEC into raising production quotas at this week’s meeting in Ecuador, as member nations consider the global recovery strong enough to withstand price gains.

Energy commodity report: December 8, 2010

Oil bears are likely to be disappointed by the forthcoming OPEC meeting, judging by comments made by oil ministers from Angola, Venezuela and Libya, which suggest that the cartel will leave its output target unchanged at 24.845mbpd. Harder to interpret are recent comments made by Iran’s representative, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, who said that in 2011, it will be natural for crude to be supplied at US$100/bbl and that it is possible that OPEC members could be forced to decrease their output in the mid-term, given that the era of producing and supplying “cheap oil” is already over. While this ties into the narrative of peak oil which has gained significant traction over the past year, most recently thanks to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010 which reports that conventional oil production peaked in 2006, Iran has long been one of OPEC’s most hawkish members and has a clear vested interest in “talking up” the oil price.

U.K. Power Consumption Reached Highest Level of The Year, Grid Data Show

Britain’s power use climbed to 60,085 megawatts yesterday, the highest daily consumption this year, according to National Grid Plc data.

Power for immediate delivery traded as high as 464 pounds a megawatt-hour on the National Grid’s balancing market at about 5 p.m. London time yesterday, the data show.

Discussing Gold, Bonds, Fiat Currencies, Economics And Investing With Nick Barisheff Of Bullion Management Group

Peak oil does not mean we are out of oil it just means we’re at peak production. So as production declines and demand increases (from the emerging economies), we’re obviously going to have an increase in the price of oil which will lead to an increase in the price of everything. Apart from printing money, oil is the only thing that can cause massive inflation across the board. So as we get into those conditions, there will be a global decline in GDP. The importing countries will face an increase in trade deficits that will have to be financed, which results in more money being printed. In each of these cases we are also generating higher and higher levels of unemployment that is basically systemic unemployment.

A united front will help region take on 'magnificent seven'

Thirty nine years after it was founded, the UAE faces two challenges on the energy front.

As Nejib Zaafrani, the secretary general and chief executive of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, astutely observed last week, the MENA countries need to co-operate to satisfy their future energy demands in an environmentally acceptable way.

And, as well as working with its neighbours, the UAE needs to strengthen its internal energy policy.

Govt may consider diesel price hike - oil secretary

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India could consider raising diesel prices before planned share sales of state-run companies Indian Oil Corp and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan said on Monday.

"It is extremely difficult for the government to pass on the entire burden to the consumers. We will have to go before the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM)," he said.

Aramco plans early start at Wasit

Saudi Aramco plans to bring the giant Wasit gas plant on line in 2013, earlier than expected, as it speeds up gas output expansion to meet rising domestic demand.

Saudi Aramco Wants Five-Fold Rise in Gulf Petrochemical Sales by 2020

Gulf petrochemicals producers should seek to raise their sales by as much as five-fold to $200 billion a year by 2020, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive officer said today.

Cheniere Plans to Export U.S. Gas Into Caribbean Power Markets, CEO Says

Cheniere Energy Inc., the Houston- based liquefied natural gas terminal owner, said it plans to sell shale gas in the Caribbean to cut the region’s dependence on power generated from burning oil.

Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are among those that could save money by burning gas to generate electricity instead of crude oil-based products such as fuel oil, Charif Souki, the company’s chief executive officer, said in an interview in Barcelona last week.

EU Proposes Regulations Against Power, Gas Market Abuse, Insider Trading

The European Commission, the regulator for the 27-nation bloc, proposed new energy market rules to prevent insider trading and manipulation and ensure consumers pay a fair price for electricity and natural gas.

Dick Cheney and others face charges in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Nigerian investigators say they have filed charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and others connected to the energy services company Halliburton, accusing them of paying bribes to secure a lucrative natural gas project in the 1990s.

Cheney and nine others are accused of charges that include "conspiracy and distribution of gratification to public officials," Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said Wednesday.

Cities seek to cut strings tying up gas money

BEAUMONT, Texas – Advances in drilling have helped American towns and cities strike natural gas, and just in time, it would appear. With many facing cash crunches, the millions of dollars they're reaping in royalties could go toward saving public services, jobs and badly needed road projects.

Not so fast. Because of restrictions built into deeds and federal grants, municipalities can't use most of to their newfound wealth to plug budget shortfalls.

And so, while elected officials struggle to make ends meet, the money sits there, close enough to smell but just out of reach.

Nigeria oil industry at risk despite military success

OKRIKA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Wearing sunglasses, a gold necklace, and sitting outside his home in a village in the Niger Delta, ex-militant leader Ateke Tom is happy for the army to take over what were once training camps for his fighters.

Along with other former gang leaders who accepted a government amnesty last year, Tom now finds himself working with the security forces he long fought in Nigeria's southern oil region, trying to persuade those still carrying arms to surrender.

Nigeria: Militants claim gunfight in oil delta

WARRI, Nigeria -- A militant group in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta says the military started a gun battle with its members despite ongoing peace talks.

The Niger Delta Liberation Force, led by a militant calling himself John Togo, says the military attacked its fighters Wednesday morning with three gun boats. The group says the attack came as it had negotiated a temporary cease-fire.

Petrochems investment 'can tackle Gulf jobs crisis'

Investing in petrochemicals research and development is one way for Gulf countries to tackle the growing jobs crisis in the region, the chief executive of the world's biggest oil company said today.

Pipeline a 'hazard' U.S. letter warns

Warning that a proposed Alberta oil sands pipeline poses "major environmental and public health hazards" to the United States, more than two dozen members of Congress are pressing the Obama administration to conduct a new eco-review of the controversial project.

Utah oil sands project draws fire

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A plan to bring the first oil sands development to the United States is drawing stiff opposition from environmentalists concerned about global warming and water use, but backers of the project insist their new process is safe.

Report Finds Oil-Drilling Inspectors in Disarray

WASHINGTON — Federal inspectors charged with ensuring the safety of offshore oil drilling are overwhelmed, insufficiently trained, work without official procedures for some of their most crucial decisions and sometimes have insufficient support from their supervisors for resisting industry influence, according to a report released Tuesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general.

Transocean oil rig suffered start of blow-out in North Sea

Drilling company Transocean had an incident on one of its North Sea rigs similar to that which caused the biggest oil spill in US history earlier this year, it emerged today.

Obama should step in over Gulf spill fund: Alabama governor

ATLANTA (Reuters) – President Barack Obama should intervene to stop the $20 billion BP oil spill compensation fund from depriving claimants of their rights, Alabama Governor Bob Riley said on Monday, calling the way the fund was operating "extortion."

National monument status urged for Arctic refuge

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – President Obama is being urged to bestow national monument status on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for its 50th anniversary in what supporters say would finally put the refuge's coastal plain beyond the reach of oil companies.

Russia looks to extend PSAs

Russia may extend production sharing agreements to new oil and gas fields, Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko said today.

Russia approves Sakhalin-1 budget of $2.7 bln for 2101

The Russian government has approved a 2010 budget estimate of $2.7 billion for the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Wednesday.

"Sakhalin-1 budget has recently been approved ... at $2.7 billion. We have seriously reduced the demands of the project operator," Shmatko told the State Duma lower chamber.

Gazprom to supply 150-155 bcm of gas to Europe in 2011

(Reuters) - Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom will supply 150-155 billion cubic meters of gas to Western Europe in 2011, the group's export CEO Alexander Medvedev said.

Gazprom eyes Belgian storage

Gazprom signed a gas storage accord with Belgian pipeline operator Fluxys today, a move which may see the Russian gas giant take up long-term storage capacity in Belgium.

WikiLeaks list of 'critical' sites: Is it a 'menu for terrorists'?

Undersea cable landings off Japan, Hong Kong, and China; vital energy terminals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait; natural gas pipelines from Canada to United States population centers; transformer plants in Mexico; vaccine manufacturers across Europe.

It's a laundry list of "critical infrastructure" – a global grab bag as big as the world ­– hundreds of sites listed in a cable marked "secret." It was compiled by US embassies and sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a cable in February 2009 – but released over the Internet by WikiLeaks Sunday.

Upton backed for House energy panel chair

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representative Fred Upton was chosen by a Republican organizing panel on Tuesday to become the next chairman of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, considered one of the most power panels in the U.S. Congress.

White House open to nukes as 'clean energy'

The Obama administration may consider caving to GOP demands to include nuclear and some coal production in a “clean energy standard,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday.

A national "clean" or "renewable" energy standard would require utilities to purchase a percentage of their electricity from nonfossil fuel sources and is seen as one of the administration's few options for a broad energy policy after the death of the cap-and-trade bill.

Nuclear ‘Renaissance’ Is Short on Largess

The federal aid now in place for new nuclear plants is far from sufficient for the so-called “nuclear renaissance” that backers are seeking, a panel made up of members of Congress, high-ranking federal officials and leaders of major nuclear companies agreed on Tuesday.

After a bout of power cuts, Egypt looks to alternatives

In the summer, during the heat of a sweltering Ramadan, a number of Cairo's elite experienced something of an unpleasant surprise: power cuts.

"That was a big one actually; electricity in some high net worth parts of the city was cut, maybe two to three hours, this never used to be the case," says Omar Taha, an analyst at the private equity company Beltone Financial.

The outages were just the latest indication of Egypt's faltering power infrastructure. Six years of fast-paced economic growth along with a concomitant expansion of its industrial and manufacturing sector has led to demand for electricity increasing some 8 per cent a year - pushing the country's supply of 23 million megawatts (mw) to the limit.

Egypt's nuclear ambition reignites

Four years ago, Egypt announced it was to restart its nuclear power programme - 20 years after cancelling it following the disaster at Chernobyl in Russia.

Uranium Prices Surge on China's $511 Billion Investment in Nukes

China's push for energy security is igniting a boom in the country's nuclear power plant construction, rekindling demand for uranium and leading its price higher.

Chinese Tycoon Focuses on Green Construction

CHANGSHA, China — Zhang Yue has grounded his three private jets and personal helicopter. He has stored the midnight blue Rolls-Royce stretch limousine and canary-yellow Ferrari behind the conference center he built here as a reproduction of a French palace. This past summer, he kept the thermostat in his office at a steamy 81 degrees.

Mr. Zhang has embraced frugalities like working in heat rather than turning on an air-conditioner not because of any financial setback. He still shows up on lists of China’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, with a personal fortune estimated at $850 million. But Mr. Zhang, 51, has also emerged as China’s most outspoken tycoon on environmental issues.

GM, more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on Oahu

General Motors is partnering with more than a dozen companies to build 20 hydrogen fueling stations by 2015 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, ahead of the expected arrival of fuel-cell vehicles.

Hertz Puts Electric Cars on the Fast Track, Starting in New York

Early adopters unwilling to drop around $32,000 on a new Nissan Leaf will be able to rent that and several other electric cars from Hertz as soon as next week. On Monday, Hertz announced it would be adding electric cars and plug-in hybrids to its urban and college fleets worldwide, starting with New York City, where they’ll be available in Connect at Hertz car-sharing locations beginning Dec. 15.

China seeks to mine deep sea riches

Humans have long dreamt of diving deep into the oceans, but economic pressures are an additional incentive, with new world powers such as China and India showing a limitless hunger for raw materials. Mineral resources take various forms: polymetallic nodules, manganese crusts and massive sulphides, a source of lead, zinc and copper mainly produced by magma spilling out of cracks in the Earth's crust.

Clean Energy Sector Scrambles to Save Incentives

Representatives of the renewable energy industries are scrambling to salvage what they say is a crucial federal incentive that has helped keep them afloat during the worst of the recession.

Buy Anything that Burns: Billionaires Want Coal for Christmas

About a month ago, two of the world's richest men abruptly visited the country's least populated state.

You probably didn't hear about it.

With seemingly only local fanfare, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates took a one-day trip to Gillette, Wyoming, the self proclaimed “Energy Capital of the Nation.”

Change is Upon Us, Part 4: Decarbonizing Our Economy

We are at a crossroads. The future is not going to be like the past. Our economic model, which requires growth to occur through economic development, is not sustainable. Climate change is happening as a result of human industrial development. We are currently living in an age of Peak Oil, where less oil is now being produced each year than there has been in the past, since about 2005-06, despite demand generally tending to grow year by year. As demand outpaces supply, the price of oil will increase. Higher oil prices will affect everything we do, especially the way in which we grow, harvest, and transport our food.

Must We Embrace the 'Sacred' to Survive Peak Oil?

There's no doubt that religion and spirituality can be a divisive subject. I've asked before whether green religion will sink us or save us, and suggested that preaching at people is not the best way to win green converts. A similar debate seems to be hotting up within the Transition Movement, with some people suggesting that to survive peak oil, rediscovering the sacred is not just a collective imperative—but a personal one too. In fact, say the proponents of a spiritual transition, "...if you're not spiritually connected to the Earth and understand the spiritual reality of how to live on Earth, it's likely you will not make it." That kind of talk has some other people worried. Very worried.

Scarcity, Sustainability & The Illusion of Choice

Energy scarcity intrinsically implies lack of wealth, lack of abundance, not enough to go around, or a serious depletion of a finite resource. With it comes fear, the need to control what resources are available and ensuing power struggles. We are hearing more about peak oil, and that demands on current energy infrastructures in many countries are reaching their limits. Peak oil means we will approach oil scarcity at some point, perhaps sooner than we think. Within the context of energy scarcity we begin to fall apart, but not because of scarcity, but because our definitions and concepts about energy are wrong, like a bad math equation that keeps us going in circles. The oil zoo on the planet is not the prevailing equation, as it's now frankly being shown the door and on the decline. It's only the prevailing equation for those who continue persist on working the energy monopoly game.

O&G Book Review: Tom Bower's Oil

John Jennings, a former Shell chairman, once remarked, "Oil breeds arrogance because it's so powerful." And where arrogance and power meet stand the world's top oilmen, wielding obscene amounts of money and influence while providing the world with its most critical resource. Tom Bower's new book details how their behavior over the last two decades has made them some of the most hated and mistrusted people on the planet, and why that has had little effect on the world price per barrel.

FREE: #1 Best Selling Amazon "Energy" Book

Author Craig Shields makes available his best-selling energy book as a free download. The book is based on interviews with 25 of the world's top researchers, authors, analysts and industry leaders. A surprisingly large percentage of these experts point to these "tough realities" that exist in the technology migration, the economic implications, and the political issues that affect the world energy industry. Says Shields, "The truth is, the energy industry faces tough realities in several forms, not only technology readiness, but more importantly the pushback from powerful vested interests."

Justices to Rule on States’ Emissions Case

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear arguments on whether plaintiffs can turn to the courts to seek reductions in emissions by coal-burning utilities on the ground that the emissions are a “public nuisance.”

U.S. and China Narrow Differences at Climate Talks in Cancún

CANCÚN, Mexico — The United States and China have significantly narrowed their differences on the verification of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, officials said, providing hope that a United Nations conference here on climate change can achieve some modest success.

Single, Overarching Climate Pact `Unrealistic,' Former U.S. Officials Say

A single, legally binding global climate treaty is impossible to craft and the United Nations should give up trying, focusing instead on a series of measures to reduce global warming, two former U.S. State Department officials said.

Tentative Signs of Life for Greenhouse Gas Controls

For a patient suffering from paralysis, the movement of a single finger is momentous. So, in the face of a threatened hiatus in government-led action on climate change, what the Environmental Improvement Board of New Mexico has done in the last month or so is worthy of note. It has twice approved plans to cap and/or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most recently on Monday evening, when a plan for annual 3 percent reductions beginning in 2013 won approval in a 4-to-1 vote.

If an island state vanishes, is it still a nation?

The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?

The Ice Man Warneth

CANCÚN, Mexico –- As the main plenary session at climate talks here was getting under way on Tuesday, I received word that Lonnie Thompson, a longtime student of ice and climate at Ohio State University, has a paper coming out in a behavior journal, The Behavior Analyst, concluding with unusual bluntness that humanity is in deep trouble.

A warning at climate talks: Glacier melt speeding up

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — The lives and livelihoods of people in South Asia are at "high risk" as global warming melts glaciers in the Himalayas, sending floods crashing down from overloaded mountain lakes and depriving farmers of steady water sources, U.N. and other international experts reported Friday.

Link up top: North America: The new energy kingdom

The American Petroleum Institute reports that the United States produced more crude oil in October than it has ever produced in a single month, “peak oil” or not.

Of course they are not reading that correctly. The American Petroleum Institute could not have possibly said such a very stupid thing. How could anyone be so dumb as to think the US produced, in November of 2010, more oil than was produced in any other month in history? The fact that they would write such a stupid thing just goes to show how much many peak oil deniers know about US oil production, or world oil production for that matter.

The facts are the United States produced about 5.58 million barrels of oil in November, about the same as produced in May of 2005 but less than the 5.6 million barrels produced in March of 2005. US production did not drop below 5.6 million barrels per day in any month between the peak in 1970 at 9,637,000 barrels per day until the arrival of tropical storm Bertha in the GOM in September of 2002.

However according to the EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report, production in December will be considerably below that of November, so far anyway.

Could these numbers reflect the beginning of the end for U.S. dependence on Mideast oil? Well, in fact, they could be. As Forbes magazine publisher Steve Forbes optimistically asserted the other day, the whole world is “awash in energy.” (Video)

With geniuses like Steve Forbes spouting such hogwash it is no wonder.

Ron P.

Unfortunately, I suspect that the erroneous observation about "more crude oil in October than it has ever produced in a single month" will be shouted from the rooftops by the cornucopians, while the correction will be whispered in the alleys. Consider how widely the 400 Gb (+) Bakken number is still cited.


Obviously a case of brain parasites... and/or dementia.

North America: The new energy kingdom

The American Petroleum Institute reports that the United States produced more crude oil in October than it has ever produced in a single month, “peak oil” or not.

Well, this of course brings up thoughts about the recently released Programme for International Student Student Assessment scores, which showed that most Americans are very bad at mathematics and not very good at science.

And of course those who do much reading about science and math know that most journalists are scientifically and mathematically illiterate. It's not part of the job description to know anything about anything except writing.

Basic facts: According to the EIA, US crude oil production peaked in October, 1970 at 10,013,000 barrels per day. In September, 2010, crude oil production was 5,567,000 barrels per day. What are the odds that it might suddenly double the next month? Not good, in my estimation, but a mathematically illiterate journalist might disagree.

I wonder if the guy is confusing natural gas with crude oil.

Kudos to Forbes and/or the API for coming out with such a blatant lie - woke me right up, and here I sit waiting for that cup of coffee to cool off too. Er, Oct 1970 was 310,403,000 bbls, Sept 2010 was 166,999,000 bbls. OK, let's see, perhaps production spiked 143,404,000 bbls in a single month? That's some wildcat.

Or boe, that would make sense. Sort of. I hear they're increasing the chocolate ration, too.

What is up with these energy ists and proofreading today, too? Among various details in Rubin's piece is the horrifying news that cab drivers in Caracas are paying $20/gal. Maybe the editor at Globe & Mail has been laid off...

He meant $0.20 a gallon. Darn decimal point!

Well, it's fairly obvious that Forbes is confusing barrels of oil with barrels of oil equivalent . It's fairly common for oil companies to report their reserves in BOE rather than BBL, because it confuses the naive investors. Sophisticated investors will take their money elsewhere.

However, Forbes waxes eloquent about Chinese companies investing in American oil and gas companies. He thinks it is some kind of vote of confidence in the United States. He apparently doesn't understand that Chinese companies invest in technologically advanced companies in other countries SO THEY CAN STEAL THEIR TECHNOLOGY.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. In my consulting days I sold all the technology I could to the Chinese. It's just that you should try to maximize the amount of money you get from them in the process. Always be aware that they are going to take the technology and run. Make sure the money you made from them is in a safe currency in a safe banking system. I.e. not in US dollars or in an American bank.

So even if the reporter is adding apples and oranges, then calling them apples, I think the comparison is invalid for another reason- the natural gas production in the pre peak oil years was just flared as worthless byproduct and never counted. I doubt the orange tally even had an estimate for this.

I have ranted about how all energy is fallaciously treated the same by energy analysts for a long time.

Energy is an abstract noun. It refers to a group of energy forms just like grain refers to a group of grain forms or metal refers to a group of metal forms.

Just because the BTU measure is the same different forms of energy can not be compared, added, subtracted etc.. Corn can not be compared to soybeans even though both are measured in bushels. Nor can iron be compared to, added to, or subtracted from gold even though both are measured in tons.

Doing so is total nonsense and it should be obvious, but it is not.

If BTUs were fungible, Peak Oil would not be a problem. We would simply fill our car tanks with natural gas instead of gasoline. The form the BTU is in is absolutely critical. It can not be ignored as in EROEI.

That is why ethanol makes sense even though is has low readings by the fallacious EROEI comparison. Energy content is not as important as energy form, because form determines utility (usefulness).

An useful energy form can make up for low energy content by its utility. An energy form that is not compatible with the in place infrastructure is not a solution to Peak Oil since a new or at least modified infrastructure is needed to use it.

Steve Forbes' appalling video shows that the magazine's owner doesn't have a clue. I discount everything that appears in Forbes. I use to read it but no longer bother. It is that bad.

Kudos to Forbes and/or the API for coming out with such a blatant lie...

KLR, please don't accuse the API with making such a very stupid mistake, or lying. The API could not possibly have made such a mistake. It is the folks reading the API report that made the mistake. I have not read the report and could not find it on the web. But it is the authors of this silly article who are the stupid ones, not the API.

Ron P.

Yeah, the API won't make such stupid mistakes. But the API spews MASSIVELY misleading rhetoric in their advocacy of the oil biz. Spewing FUD about climate change, spewing over-estimates of harm caused by off-limits areas, over-promising rewards if off-limit areas were opened up to drilling, etc. They spew very intentionally misleading statements such that it comes as no surprise when someone unfamiliar with the biz comes off with the wrong impression. I wouldn't be surprised if the origin of this mistake is a very misleading (but technically true) statement issued by the API.

As noted up the thread, I suspect that Neil Reynolds confused natural gas with crude oil. Here is an EIA chart for dry natural gas production, which I believe is how the EIA defines gas production:


2009 (when we consumed 108% of production) was quite close to the early Seventies levels, so it's likely that we may have recently seen an all time monthly record NG rate.

I emailed Niel. He indicated he was referencing a piece from Oil and Gas Journal:

Nov 19, 2010
Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 19 -- US crude oil production averaged 5.5 million b/d in October, a record for the month and 0.1% higher year-to-year, the American Petroleum Institute said in its latest monthly statistical report. Crude inventories increased for a fourth consecutive month to 366 million bbl as of Oct. 31, also a record for the month, it indicated on Nov. 19.

I scrolled the Drumbeat from November 19; no discussion of Nick's claim to a new all-time October U.S. production record, but a lot of discussion about which was the bloodiest century on record!

The "and/or" was a qualifier, giving the API the benefit of the doubt. Apologies to Steve Forbes from me - I blinked so hard reading the quote I assumed it was from him, I was so stunned by the ignorance or blatant fabrication displayed. Still no revision from Neil. October, eh? Maybe for as far back as 2003. Likely it was a record for Oct 2010, har har har. Once more, what is this BS?

Here's the referenced 11/19/10 API report (no mention of record volumes):


October’s domestic crude oil production, at 5.5 million barrels per day, was slightly
higher than September levels. Lower 48 production, at 4.86 million barrels per day, held
relatively steady compared with recent prior months and was up 0.2 percent from
October 2009 levels. Following the summer maintenance schedule, Alaskan crude oil
production, at 654 thousand barrels per day, was higher in October 2010 than
September, but finished lower than prior year levels by 0.6 percent.

Here is a link to the OGJ item (that has the error):


I sent a note to the OGJ asking them to correct this false story.

They've now added a correction at the bottom of the page:

Correction: U.S. domestic crude oil production reached 5.5 million barrels a day in October, half the production of the U.S. “peak oil” high in 1970. Incorrect information was published in this online and in the print versions of this column.

At least he did promptly respond when I brought to his attention. Here is his email:

You're right about the story's first sentence (although I'm less certain about your e-mail's subject line). The press release from API said it was the highest level for October since 2003, which isn't what I wrote. I've notified my editors in Houston to change it as soon as possible, and to run a correction. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor
Oil & Gas Journal

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 19 -- US crude oil production averaged 5.5 million b/d in October, a record for the month and 0.1% higher year-to-year, the American Petroleum Institute said in its latest monthly statistical report.

Well, it's a record for any October since October, 2003, when production was 5.6 million b/d. However, I don't think that's particularly meaningful except to indicate a temporary uptick in a production curve that has been declining for the last 40 years - since it hit 10 million b/d in October 1970.

So, you have an editor for the OGJ, which should be more careful how it phrases things, making a misleading statement, and a reporter who doesn't know any better, misinterpreting it to mean something well beyond what the original press release said.

It violates the three most basic rules of journalism - 1) get it right, 2) get it right, and 3) get it right.

but a mathematically illiterate journalist might disagree.

As would a geologically illiterate journalist as well. And so there we have it, the double-whammy of the illiterati.

A bit apropos considering that the massive w-leaks are being self-described as "scientific journalism".

I get reminded of this every time somebody complains about some discussion gets too mathematically technical.

2010 -- The Year of the Leaks, Oil and Information

I always love the ironic juxtapositions in leanan's wonderful collections of articles. Next to this "awash in energy" hogwash we have articles pointing out that GS is predicting and average price of $100/bbl for oil in 2011 (and note that we seem to be zooming back up toward the $90 mark again today).

We are about to test in the real world theories of what price is supportable by the world economy right now.

Any latest guesses at what price will precipitate severe "demand destruction" aka recession, depression, mass unemployment...?

What we're experiencing as China moves rapidly toward becoming the world's largest economy is the decoupling of energy/commodity prices from U.S. demand and the overall growth rate of the U.S. economy. Commodity prices no longer need robust U.S. economic growth as Asia increasingly becomes the driver of demand. The same is true for most of Europe as well. What we're seeing is nothing less than the fundamental shift of the epicenter of industrial civilization from the west to the east.

Chinese commodity demand alone will increasingly be enough to induce commodity price inflation shocks in the U.S. As we contract our economy to become more energy and consumption efficient, China will soak up the supply and keep prices high.

An oil supply shock doesn't necessary mean that everyone suffers equally. China's industrial momentum may ensure that commodity supply shortfalls will be carved out of the U.S. and Europe to keep China supplied. We may end up falling over ourselves contracting our high energy economy so that we can free up coal and natural gas for export to China.

I'm not sure the US is becoming much more energy efficient, except in the sense of doing without.

Back to the GS and Jeff Rubins estimates that oil will average $100 in '11--that would be higher even than the average in '08 which was just over $90:


You make some interesting points, but I wouldn't go that far. The same, exact things were being said about Japan in the 80's, and none of it came true.

I'm not concerned about China.

Everybody - every nation! - has to experience a dramatic reduction in wealth and population before anything remotely sustainable can emerge.

You should be concerned about China, HSBC put out a report that I just read over on Zerohedge that details Chinas growth at the province level. Impressive growth rates in rail, green tech etc that means
that many of Chinas provinces will soon each be trillion dollar (GDP) economies that will rival many of the worlds larger countries. If they stumble it will be similar to the damage of several major western countries stumbling and if they don't stumble then the exponential growth in demand will impose huge pressures on commodity supplies. Either way (economic collapse or soaring commodity prices) will seriously impact on westerners lifestyles.

Thank you. There is no shortage of mendacity and stupidity in this country, a precursor of a civilization in decline. Our students score way down in all the basic indicators of education. These same students are, apparently, now reporters on oil, and may be working for the American Petroleum Institute. Steve Forbes really needs to put his hat in the ring again for President. As dumb as he is, he is at least equal to if not a cut above some of the other candidates in his party.

Drill, baby, drill works and now they have the numbers to approve it.

Ron, it's not really about the oil, Its about the mind boggling quantities of methane hydrates... Well, you can consider my mind duly boggled, albeit by the utter stupidity of these kinds of statements!

Beyond shale oil and shale gas, there’s the awesome energy promise of methane hydrates, frozen crystals of water and gas that lie beneath the northern permafrost and beneath oceans floors around the world in quantities that boggle the imagination.

“Assuming 1 per cent recovery,” the U.S. Geological Survey says, “these deposits [in U.S. territory] could meet the natural gas needs of the country (at current rates of consumption) for 100 years.”

In other news the US educational system continues to fall in international rankings and we are building a replica of Noah's Ark somewhere in Kentucky with the help of 400 million dollars in taxpayer's money. Why worry about the future?

There must be a decimal-point virus going around today and not only among Forbes & company, or is it the Globe & Mail. About the Ark nonsense:

Kentucky's Democratic governor has signed on to the plan, promising almost $40 million in tax breaks for a project that is expected to create 900 jobs.

Gosh, that's a veritable bargain considering how many of these boondoggles involve spending $100,000, $300,000, or even $1 million to create each "job", instead of a mere $44,000. (Eyes roll.)

And I thought received wisdom held that only wild-eyed fundamentalist Republicans would ever do this sort of thing... (Eyes roll again.)

There must be a decimal-point virus going around today

LOL! Seems I might have missed out on my vaccine. To be fair, in my case at least, I had actually succumbed to a decimal place virus and not a decimal point virus.

Let's not forget the mind-boggling amounts of methane dissolved in geopressured brines at reachable depths under Texas and Louisiana. Quite well mapped, because people looking for oil and dry gas kept hitting the reservoirs. I worked on systems analysis associated with trying to produce such gas when I was in grad school in the 70s. At least 100 years worth of recoverable gas, if only someone could figure out a way to dispose of the by-product: billions of gallons of toxic, corrosive brine. Actually, if you were willing to poison most of the Gulf of Mexico, production is relatively straightforward. Here we are thirty years on and no one has figured out how to extract the gas safely in meaningful quantities.

There does, in fact, seem to be an awful lot of methane scattered around the planet. Largely unproducible, but what's a minor detail like that :^)

if only someone could figure out a way to dispose of the by-product: billions of gallons of toxic, corrosive brine.

I woulda thunk it was standard practice to reinject this stuff down a second well?

The Dept of Energy experimented on a small scale at the time with injection into a shallower saline aquifer. That worked, but there are few places where you could dispose of the necessary quantities.

The original intent of the project team had been to use the heat and pressure as a geothermal energy resource. I was the one who ended up looking at it as a methane source. It was barely possible (on paper) to recover enough of the heat energy to power a pump and reinject the brine into the original high-pressure reservoir. There were two serious practical problems, though: (1) anything you did to bring the methane out of solution tended to bring solids out of solution as well, clogging things up, and (2) the brine was so corrosive that the pipes and pump had a seriously limited lifetime.

There are lots of papers and patents from the early 1980s describing potential methods for extracting the methane. TTBOMK, none of them ever worked out in practice.

1. Except for "purchase their fuel at $20 per gallon, the equivalent of a little over $8 per barrel" I totally agree with Jeff Rubin's take on things. ("Jeff Rubin: What will 2011 bring? Triple-digit oil "article above)

2. I saw the picture of the gold bar in the article and thought, 'of what use is it? I can't eat it, I can't drink it, nobody smokes it. If I get an artistic urge, I can use it to hammer out a skin for a statue, but at $1,000 an ounce, how much hammering do they expect me to do? Even I know that I'm not THAT obcessive with any hobby.'

purchase their fuel at $20 per gallon, the equivalent of a little over $8 per barrel

I think he really meant 20 cents per gallon. Just a typo, not caught by the editors.

It reminds me of my teenage days when I would have paid 20 cents per gallon, except I got it for free. My father used to own part of a gas station, and Esso (now Exxon) used to ship a bit extra in each of the rail cars (they called it "overage"). My father kept asking me and my brother to fill up our V8 muscle cars more often because he wasn't using his fair share of the free gasoline and his partners were getting more than him.

That's where the 42 gallon oil barrel came from. The normal barrel was 40 gallons, but Standard Oil always used to put in an extra two gallons, so that became the "Standard oil barrel".

Those were the good old days. They're gone for good now, but apparently a lot of people don't realize that they're gone.

I liked both the Tiger and Mobil's Pegasus.

I remember $0.25 per.

I figured it was a typo, but I guess we need a typo to match tooday's Forbes' typo.

Those were the days! Once upon a time we were buying gas for .099 per gallon. (That's the least I ever paid, that I can recall) A buck's work of gas took you somewhere.

And, do you rememeber the gas wars? I think gas won!


More than four years ago we had a discussion on TOD based on my question: "Where does the forty-two gallon barrel of oil come from?" If memory serves, the forty-two U.S. gallon barrel goes back to whale oil and sailing ships. Also, in England, there was as far back as the eighteenth century, a wine barrel of 42 U.S. gallons.

I'm pretty old, and I do not recall any forty gallon oil barrels--or any forty gallon barrels at all.

I was under the (incorrect) assumption that a 55 gallon barrel of oil refined to 42 gallons of gasoline.

The story I recall (it was in Yergin's "The Prize") is that the 42 gallon barrel was the standard because whiskey barrels were used to ship oil via wagon and then by railroad before the development of the tank car. Old J. D. Rockefeller managed to corner the market for oil as he was able to obtain preferential shipping rates from the railroads, thus putting the other small time refinery operators out of business. As J.D. acquired those bankrupt operations, his market share became dominant and the rest is history...

E. Swanson

When I was a kid on the farm in Canada (1960's) we always called them "45 gallon drums" and we were referring to Imperial gallons. We always though that in the US they were called "55 gallon drums", eg. US gallons.

Those 55 gallon drums are used for just about everything except crude oil. My neighbor uses one to burn trash. A hospital I once worked at had detergent delivered in 55 gallon drums. The place I get my oil changes has lubricating oil in 55 gallon drums.

Yair...strange. In Australia we are imperial too and be we called them "forty fours"...the drums had enough freeboard to add one gallon of two stroke oil in order to give a good safe 50:1 outboard mix. Such drums are now two hundred litres.

I recall that eastern-european rusty steel barrel held 200L -> 53 US gal and 44 imp. gal.

Canada must be the odd one out because here in Australia its called a 44 gallon drum. (unless I'm mistaken 44 gallons= 55 yank gallons)

Actually, the nominal capacity of 55 US gallons would be closer to 46 Imperial gallons or 208 litres.

In reality, the standard drums are about 218 litres in size, which would be closer to 48 Imperial gallons or 58 US gallons.

I guess you can call it whatever you want, because it's not an actual unit of measurement.

40 gallons was the size of the old US whiskey barrel, and that was what most producers used to ship their oil in the early days. However, there was also a 42 gallon barrel used for wine that also got pressed into use for oil, and the US government tried to standardize on a 45 gallon barrel for tax purposes.

For a little history on this, see The 42 Gallon Barrel [History]

... in 1866. More than two dozen leading oil producing companies agreed to sell crude oil "by the gallon only" rather than by the odd barrel or tin drum or any other package. "An allowance of two gallons will be made on the gauge of each and every 40 gallons in favor of the buyer," agreed the sellers.

There are a wide variety of other sizes of barrel in use for measurement - the British beer barrel (36 Imperial gallons or 43 US gallons), the American beer barrel (31 US gallons or 26 Imperial gallons), etc. - which is a really good argument for metrication.

The 55 gallon drum (44 or 45 imperial gallon drum) is not a unit of measure, it's just a barrel for putting liquid in. It came into use during WWII because of military logistics - you could fit four of them on a pallet and move them with a fork-lift truck, and you could put two pallets (8 drums) in a standard 4x8 foot truck box. You can also put one on a two-wheel handcart and move it, or move it short distances by tilting it and rolling it on the base. I moved hundreds of them that way working in my father's dealership.

I wonder how much longer developing nations will be able to keep subsidizing oil prices. They are clearly feeling the strain.

Indonesia is an interesting one to watch on this issue as they went from net-exporter to net-importer some time ago and are finally getting around to a serious review of energy prices. I understand that they cut electricity subsidies a few years ago, but their diesel pump prices are the lowest in ASEAN.

Given this record, one has to assume it is going to be very difficult for those countries not facing energy security issues to remove subsidies.

Yes, it is. But eventually, it's going to be more difficult to maintain them.

Depends on population pressure. As oil becomes more expensive the outcome will trend toward taking anything that burns and burning it for cooking.

Even with things like http://servalsgroup.blogspot.com/2009/05/tlud-gasifier-stoves-wood-stove...
or the Anila type at http://www.biochar-international.org/technology/stoves
or even solar cooking ovens or things like the solar powered pressure canner (see profile for links)

Desertification - here we come!

(because other nation states are going to be too busy with their own problems)

I received this in an email from the EIA so unfortunately I don't have a link.

EIA Press Release

MEDIA ADVISORY : EIA to Release Updated Energy Forecasts to 2035

WHO: Richard Newell, Administrator, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

WHAT: EIA presents a projection of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices to 2035 with the early release of the Reference case projection from the Annual Energy Outlook 2011.

WHEN: Thursday December 16, 2010 9:30 AM Eastern Time

Supply, demand and prices to 2035! I am sure we are all awaiting this report with abated breath. ;-)

Edit: Found the link: EIA to Release Updated Energy Forecasts to 2035

Ron P.

They should really call the price portion "a common set of assumptions". No one in the world, including the EIA I hope, really believes that it is possible to forecast oil price out for almost 25 years. And in fact they don't appear to use any sophisticated system to arrive these forecast. I should look more carefully, but expect it is basically just growing price at 2.5% per year or something.

I have to think that the purpose of these numbers is not to give anyone a useful view on price, but instead to create a common set of assumptions that allow models by various government agencies to be compared. If EPA, for example, is using a $100 2020 oil price and DOA $200, DOA's biofuel projects, again for example, are going to look a lot more profitable.

Other than that, I don't think it makes too much sense to get hung up on the meaning or accuracy of their projections.

The tax legislation that congressional Republicans and the White House have agreed to will include extensions of the biodiesel and ethanol subsidies through 2011, says Iowa's Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. The $1-a-gallon biodiesel subsidy, which lapsed at the end of 2009, would be retroactive to this year, he said.

Some leading Senate Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus of Montana, indicated that the energy tax provisions were still to be worked out.

Grassley wasn't sure if the tax agreement would extend the ethanol tax credit at its current level - 45 cents per gallon - or reduce it. Grassley said the subsidy should stay at 45 cents, but there have been proposals in the House and Senate this year to reduce it to 36 cents.


My God!! And just when I thought this tax legislation couldn't get any worse. And then there are the online casinos that Reid is pushing. How lucky we are to live in the midst in what should be one of the more catastrophic declines of an Empire. And the decline will be on youtube! Our congress will not sit idly by; they are taking positive to steps to hasten the decline.

On "Embracing the sacred to survive PO," I have long considered myself an atheist (or as I prefer, a 'beyond-agnostic"--I'm not even sure about what I'm not sure about).

But as it becomes more and more clear how deeply we are threatening all the systems that support life, I find myself falling stumbling into a kind of theism. Some how "systems that support life" does not have much resonance--it sounds too mechanical.

But for most religious people, there is a clear and powerful term for "that which created and supports all life" and that is God.

So I am now willing to concede to my theistic friends that there is something like a deity if they are willing to agree that they are are actively involved in knowingly, unnecessarily, and therefore maliciously abusing, mutilating and killing her.

You can tell how popular I am around these folks.

Ultimately, more than a religious take, I think there is good defense for a moral approach.

We are destroying the existence of millions of life forms and making the planet a much less habitable place (at least) for all future human generations. If this is not an immoral act, I'm not sure what would qualify as one.

Now whether such moral approaches actually changes anyones behavior is another question.

I am sympathetic dohboi, but I think you're traversing a slippery slope. "God" appears to have repeatedly wiped the slate clean over the eons. I know very religious people who speak, in sincere terms, of "protecting God's creation" but I see little evidence that this matters much to Him.

Good point. Peter Ward counters James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis with his Medusa hypothesis--the earth raises and nourishes here "children" only to periodically slaughter them.

This time around, we seem to be the dagger with which she is slaughtering the innocence. And the slaughter is looking to be greater than any that went before.

Of course, even the biblical God sent down the deluge to start things over again. But even religious people don't generally take this as a good reason to play God by creating our own 'deluge.' (The phrase 'apres moi, le deluge' is attributed to either France's King Louis XV or his lover Madame Pompadour, in retrospect seen as a premonition of the French Revolution. But really it is the implicit slogan of the most recent generations of humans on earth today, especially those most in control of the shaping of modern global industrial society.)

Having said that, really huge mass extinction events are relatively rare, and there is no evidence that the slate has ever been completely wiped clean. The closest was the Permian-Triassic event when about 95% of species were wiped out (and yes, GW was probably a major factor). The other four mass extinctions did not approach this kind of near-total annihilation.

But ours might just. And with the sun expanding, the earth may never return to the diversity of life that existed in the early Anthropocene.

What really irks me is when religious people say "God wouldn't let that happen." As if when you sprayed a crowded room with machine gun fire, God would step in and prevent all of the negative consequences of your actions.

Really, for many people in my experience, 'God' just becomes another excuse for people not to think or care about anything and to re-inforce their own prejudices.

Don't be so gloomy. The paper referenced below on British Economic Growth in Table 18 gives the population of England as 4.81 million in 1348 and 1.9 million in 1450. Gaia may be able to defend herself.

Thanks, Merrill. Whenever I start feeling down, I do find that sitting back and contemplating the Black Death always cheers me up considerably '-)

Thank you dohboi. LOL!

Lovelock sees Gaia as alive, and as such, grooms herself. She's an old lady ready for a haircut. Much of life ends up on the cutting floor for a new doo. Interesting arguments as to defining life. Biological definitions center on the ability to reproduce itself, so my triploid char swimming around are dead. Physicists like to point to sustained reductions of entropy, so that refrigerator is alive.

I am in complete agreement with your frustration and anger at man's cavalier treatment of this. As if financial collapse really matters to life on earth, or to man beyond a generation or two. And following your machine gun spray in a crowded room, there's an item in the news that my wife and I were speaking last nite. Elizabeth Edwards soldiered thru the death of her child and the media scrutinized betrayal by her spouse, all the while waging a losing, painful battle with cancer. She never spoke of a reward in the sky, of any religious belief system that mitigated her suffering.

No expert here on Lovelock. But I always read him as positing that all life on Earth and the natural systems that form habitats were collectively a single organism, and like an organism, Gaia has immune systems and defense systems that mitigate any imbalances, etc. And most significantly, Gaia does not care about any single species, and it would not matter if humans were present or not.

Not really. Some people read that into it, but all he says is that the earth's atmospheric composition and climate evolved together with life and are regulated by life and should be treated as one unified system. He does not ascribe consciousness or caring to that system.

He also points out that historically, climate changes are not linear, but that the climate tends to jump from one steady state to another steady state very quickly, due to the feedback loops present within that system.

What does "very quickly" mean in climate terms? Well beyond a human's life span?

"recent and rapidly advancing evidence demonstrates that Earth's climate repeatedly has shifted dramatically and in time spans as short as a decade. And abrupt climate change may be more likely in the future."

From Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

(my emphasis)

He definitely feels the earth is alive, and relates of the resistance he gets from that idea. From scientists who have all but conceded his other points. See one of the wrap up chapters in his book The Vanishing Face of Gaia.

The jumpiness of climatic states reminds me of when Stephen Gould first introduced saltation to describe that evolution was not a slow, steady accrual process as the heavy weights E Mayr, Simpson and others had insisted.

The jumpiness of climatic states...

Check out the most recent RealClimate post. They have long term temperature plots for various emissions scenarios (actually different total amounts of carbon released, since the horizontal time scale is ten thousand years). The two lowest emission scenario's have sharp jumps in a few thousand years time. The author says they seem to be reated to changes in ocean circulation patterns in the model.

In a system with tipping points, it wouldn't be surprising if the response to slowly changing a control knob was slow and smooth, but a certail values would undergo rapid change, i.e. whenever a
tipping point is crossed.

Lovelocks's models show extreme variations-plus and minus-in sensitivity and temp before jumping to the next level.

There's alot with him I don't swallow, but his stature and track record can't be ignored. One of his more biting criticisms is of the IPCC and their tepid projections. He ridicules them for their political consensus. From a scientific perspective, one has to agree.

This is the nature of non-linear complex systems, such as climate. Science on the subject sugests they behave like this. Such a system tries to maintain its balance as long as it can even as you gradually add in small changes. But then you near the point of "just to much". Here, the system starts to behave unpredictable, until it snaps, and calms down into a new stable state.

This happened for example in 1998. As you remember, that was the year of the sout east asian forest fires. It was also the year of an at the time unprecedented global heat wave, that AGW-deniers use as a starting point for making diagrmas showing that earth has cooled since 1998.

The question is, when do we step over to an new climate system, and what is the sign of the event?

The question is, when do we step over to an new climate system, and what is the sign of the event?

I don't think we will know until it settles down into the new state. Unless we are lucky, and the transition closely follows the simulations, then we might have somewhat better guesses as to whats going on. But, I doubt the models are that good.

Maybe what people are striving for is not a new spirituality but a new sense of community of like-minded people. A recent article seems to suggest that this is the underlying driver for religious congregation. This can exist, in addition to a persons innate spirituality.

Study reveals 'secret ingredient' in religion that makes people happier

While the positive correlation between religiosity and life satisfaction has long been known, a new study in the December issue of the American Sociological Review reveals religion's "secret ingredient" that makes people happier.

"Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction," said Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study. "In particular, we find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier."

"To me, the evidence substantiates that it is not really going to church and listening to sermons or praying that makes people happier, but making church-based friends and building intimate social networks there," Lim said.

the earth raises and nourishes here "children" only to periodically slaughter them.

This sounds a lot like raising cattle. So God raises us so he can eat us?

Good point. Peter Ward counters James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis with his Medusa hypothesis--the earth raises and nourishes here "children" only to periodically slaughter them.

That's the Medea Hypothesis. Not Medusa. And an important part of the hypothesis that you're missing is that her children are the ones responsible for creating the conditions that lead to their own demise.

I wonder if he has ever considered the irony that the current trajectory of industrial civilization is way more Medean than most of the examples most central to his book, although he does mention it. Heh. Perhaps I'll ask him (he's my boss).

Incidentally, PW has heard the term "peak oil" and heard smart people tell him it will be a problem [I heard him remark offhandedly about it once], but he is only dimly, if at all, peak-aware. Which book should I give him for Christmas? Or data set? (He's a busy guy and won't want to read a stack of papers... a few good figures are best.) I think he should use his many media platforms to raise awareness of basic energy/resource constraints facing Earth circa 2011, and would be more than willing to, were he aware of the magnitude of the problem.

Thanks for the correction.

I would think that the simple historical graph of discovery versus production would do for most intelligent people to get po.

In the recent pop-culture, top 100 by Discover for 2010, note was made that there are 3 times as many stars as we thought before this year, and that most could support planets capable of evolving life of some sort. Even if most are pond scum, a significant number might well have now or at one time have held intelligent, or at least highly evolved life of some type. So... our little planet scarcely matters to the overall scheme, if such there is, of things.


Offcourse our little planet doesen't matter to the overall sheme, including especially "the beautiful nature" around us. It will be cocked up in around 200-300 million years anyway. All is gone (Earth) in around 5 billion years - so it doesen't matter whats gooing on here for "the overall sheme"!

In around 10^56 years the last proton will spin to the last neutron over unimaginable long time shemes. When they finally die together there will be darkness forever and the entropy will finally be the master of the universe!

Dohboi, I am a fellow “beyond-agnostic”. By characterizing the tendencies of natural forces, science has made clear that the phenomenon of life is not something that is treated with any special preference in the realm of physical existence. Flows of energy and re-arrangement of matter continue throughout the universe, and l can envision life taking advantage of the opportunity to manifest where the conditions are right. But, life is just one form of existence, and to me the larger philosophical/spiritual/scientific question is: why do matter and energy and the forces of nature exist at all? This is fun to ponder, mostly because no one will ever be able to say for sure. No one will ever be able to say for sure if there is a purpose for existence, or what that purpose is.
Of course, everyone has their opinions on what the purpose of our species is. Humans seem to absolutely require stories about purpose and how they fit into the world around them. From colonizing the cosmos, to transferring our intelligence to computers, to some powerful male deity putting us in our place for eternity, there is no shortage of struggling to create stories about immortality. In my experience, it is the people that cling to these stories of the infinite who are most willfully ignorant of the limits to the growth of our industrial economy.
My personal opinion is that, as animals, our purpose is simply to find a niche in a local ecosystem and fill it, striving for a dynamic equilibrium with other organisms which benefits the whole relatively equally. I feel that the best type of religious/spiritual stories that could help deal with peak oil and other limits to growth would be nature-based. I’ve studied the physical sciences from biochemistry to thermodynamics, and I honestly believe that earlier cultures whose myths were nature based were much closer to the type of moral/ethical framework needed for an appropriate human culture than the anthropocentric myths en vogue today.

"My personal opinion is that, as animals, our purpose is simply to find a niche in a local ecosystem and fill it, striving for a dynamic equilibrium with other organisms which benefits the whole relatively equally. I feel that the best type of religious/spiritual stories that could help deal with peak oil and other limits to growth would be nature-based. I’ve studied the physical sciences from biochemistry to thermodynamics, and I honestly believe that earlier cultures whose myths were nature based were much closer to the type of moral/ethical framework needed for an appropriate human culture than the anthropocentric myths en vogue today."

Nicely put. Pretty much my view as well.

But how do you square these very unscientific world views with what you have learned through your scientific training? Can these be reconciled? Do they need to be?

But how do you square these very unscientific world views with what you have learned through your scientific training? Can these be reconciled? Do they need to be?

While I'm sure the Lorax >;^) is quite capable of defending his own views, there is nothing in what he says, at least as I interpret it, that is in any way in conflict with a scientific world view. Not even with respect to morality. I'm assuming here that you are placing morality outside the purview of science and into the domain of religion. I view I personally do not hold.


The rudiments of moral behaviour in chimps Along with uncovering individual, distinctive, human-like personalities, Goodall also documented the use and modification of basic tools. But most importantly continued study of apes, particularly the two species of chimpanzees, has also shown them to display the rudiments of what we would call moral behaviour. The work of Dutch Primatologist Frans de Waal has documented in chimpanzees the presence of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, and reconciliation. These are foundational aspects of morality, remove them from a person and you are left with some form of sociopathy.

This definition of morality is meaningless. You might just as well say that Hanuman langurs eating their young represents moral behavior. On what basis do you selectively choose "sympathy" or "reciprocity" as moral but not "infanticide" or "hard rocks" or the "color blue"? Morality is only meaningful if assigned from outside the "system".

On the contrary, any morality assigned from outside the system in which we live is meaningless by definition.

The only real moral imperative comes from understanding the Universe and our place in it, which includes our interactions with our planet and its other inhabitants. Unless we value continuation of human life, we degrade human life. Without the rest of the planet's flora and fauna, human life dies out, and hence the moral imperative is to be careful how we interact. "Do no harm" takes on much more meaning, in my moral system - one that is generated within and by our own Universe, as does the phrase, "love one another."


I enjoy these little sidebars on TOD. I expect that the majority of us, whether atheist, agnostic, Christian or ArchDruid would agree that Peak Oil has the potential for very negative impacts on human society. As usual, I articulate my arguments poorly. My thoughts on the subject were shaped by Michael Polanyi (http://www.infed.org/thinkers/polanyi.htm) and the meaning of "meaning". I cannot see how meaning (other than personal preference) can be imposed from within a closed system.

I agree with FMagyar here. I think a scientific worldview can and does encompass morality. I finished a great book recently entitled "Born To Be Good" by Dacher Keltner. In it, Keltner uses evolutionary biology and phsychology to pin down the roots of positive human emotional responses like compassion, laughter, smiling, love, and awe.
He talks in detail about how normal healthy human brains are wired to respond automatically to facial expressions of pain with compassion, facial expressions of embarassment with conciliatory responses, etc. Essentially, these responses evolved before language to help foster cooperation and resolve disputes in tight social groups. Keltner points out that the necessity of working together to care for our very vulnerable offspring drove the evolution of these emotions. I would sum up his main premise as being, although there is strong genetic programing for self-interest, our species is also wired for morality.

We are not wired for morality, we are wired for kin selection.

Auschwitz and Hiroshima teach me everything I need to know about humankind.

We are pre-wired for both.

In fact, all "mammals" are pre-wired to "love" and nourish (nurse) their offspring.

If it weren't so, that kingdom (phylum?) of the animal universe (including "us") would have gone extinct many millenia ago.

[ i.mage.+]

..you kiss your mama with that mouth?

She kissed you, does that say anything else about human nature?
Focusing on the worst isn't 'reality'.. it's not even statistical.. it's just a skewed sample.

I'd say these world views are in fact very scientific. Quite unlike the magical thinking religion relies upon...

No one will ever be able to say for sure if there is a purpose for existence, or what that purpose is.

You cannot know for sure that no one will ever know for sure. Therefore your statement is nothing more than dogma. ;-) It would have been better put if you had said: "I believe" no one will ever be able to say for sure..."

But these things always come up when we are contemplating the end of the world as we know it. We had miserable suffering during the Black Death and during many famines that have killed millions just in the last few centuries. There has been misery in the past and there will be misery in the future. That is just the natural state of things. That is my belief anyway...

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page131-132.

We have had over two centuries of "times of plenty". The natural state of starvation and misery will be restored sometime in the first half of this century. However if you can find religious stories that give you comfort then perhaps you should embrace them. I cannot but I know others can. A little comfort is something everyone could use in times of misery.

Ron P.

It is said that one difference between human beings and other species is that those animals do not sit around contemplating the future. Run in fear? I would think not but I guess one never knows for sure. Eat and be eaten without thought for the tomorrow. This seems like a superior approach to our constant worrying about the future and regret about the past. At the very least, the U.S. civilization is in irrevocable decline without any indication that the powers that be have any intention whatsoever about doing anything about it. So be it. We had our ride and our chance. And I still maintain that those currently having children are making a big mistake. Unfortunately, that includes my daughter.

There are more than a few defeatists on this site.Instead of working on practical solutions to real problems,one step at a time,these people would love to have one size fits all solutions.These are better known as miracles.They are realistic enough to know that miracles don't happen so the next default behaviour is a sort of self flagellation with notions of doom.

If you embark on an enterprise,in this case,life,in the certain knowledge that it will be nothing more than a vale of tears with death at the end,then,in the case of the former it is a self fulfilling prophecy.
In the case of the latter,that is one of the inevitable results of life.
Get used to it,get over it and get on with it.

other species of animals do not sit around contemplating the future

That's funny, my dog sits around all day contemplating:

1) when and how will i get me next bacon bits "treat"?

2) when will i get me next walk to the doggie park where I can smell other dog's butts and figure out if they got more treats than I did? [ i.mage.+]

3) when will i get me next pat on the head or other form of attention. i mean, hello, I'm here and I'm sentient and I even understand 200 of your words although you don't seem to understand any of mine you ignorant two-legged canine with all the power and no tail wagging sense

Haha..Touche, Ron. I should have prefaced my statement about the purpose of existence with "I believe".

Dawkins repeated that line in "The Greatest Show on Earth." Both are must reads!

Of course, most everything posted on TOD could be prefaced by, "IMO."

And concluded with, "...but I could be wrong."


The Oil Drum has always been a kind of "raptureready.com" for atheists. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

With all due respect, screw Michael Brownlee. I'm involved in my local Transition movement (Transition Houston, find us on Google or Facebook) because they are the only group I'm aware of in my city that sees the twin disasters of peak oil and climate change coming, and is doing something about it that has some hope of success. I'm a devout agnostic, and I have no patience for anyone telling me I can't help my neighbor plant a fig tree unless I have some vaguely defined "spiritual awakening". Transition is at its best when it is hands on, practical, and cooperative. New agey exhortations can only detract from that.

Hey, as long as we're talking about spirituality and climate change - why not blame God? If you believe in the Genesis story, or if you just believe that God designed the world and oversees it's development according to some plan, you believe that He put the coal and oil and natgas in the ground, knowing full well that the sons of Adam would eventually dig them up and burn them, leading to an inevitable disaster of Biblical proportion. He even has a prior - putting the fruit of knowledge of good and evil in the garden, then burning said garden to the ground when His children inevitably ate from it.

you believe that He put the coal and oil and natgas in the ground, knowing full well that the sons of Adam would eventually dig them up and burn them, leading to an inevitable disaster of Biblical proportion.

But this has ben widely twisted into: "because HE put thos ethings there, we KNOW that no disaster of biblical proportions can arise from burning them". This seems to be the philosophical of a lot of current skepticism. Those
scientists have to be wrong (because otherwise it would mean either (A) God isn't the nice loving character we imagine, or (2) He doesn't exist), here let me show them what they have missed.....

I am a theistic evolutionist. When I read Genesis chapter 4, what I see is the last of the many documented evolutionary steps in our spiecies history unfolding at the biblical pages. What I believe is that in previous evolutionary steps we gained the ability to make certain choises. These choises gave us an evolutionary preasure to evolve a new set of abilities; moral awareness, the understanding of the consequeces of your actions to others, and long term planning. This gave us new powers wich we could use for both good and evil, but the temptation to use it for evil will always be there.

Now, whoever wrote Genesis had the choise to write a very long book talking about gene splitting, natural selection, protein synthesis and the hole thing. But then he thought "nah, I'll just put in a tree with forbidden fruits in there instead".

Thats what I believe.

whoever wrote Genesis had the choise to write a very long book talking about gene splitting...then he thought "nah, I'll just put in a tree with forbidden fruits in there instead".

There are other possibilities: (1) God knew all an about genesplitting etc. but the human he picked to write the document had no clue about that stuff, and trying to explain would be hopeless. Or (2)
it was just a story made up by a man. (1) is only somewhat at variance to your explanation, in one
God realizes man isn't intellectually ready for the truth and would only garble it into an unrecognizable form.

I hope you have the humility to realize there is no way to prove which (of the three) explanations
is closest to the truth. Wasn't it Thomas Aquinas (I might have the wrong saint), who said the whole
point of faith was to believe that which cannot be proven. A lot of current religious people lose
sight of that and keep searching for proof. If they had proof there would be no difference between faith and science because faith would not be needed.

Mark Twain, who wasn't technically a saint, said:

"Faith is believing something you know ain't true."

Which seems to be an improvement on Thomas Aquinas.

"Wasn't technically a saint.."

Well if that doesn't sum up the reason it can be hard to talk about human spirit in the context of science!

Anyway, Twain was a God. A fallen one, but whatever..

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith relates to beliefs, not to scientific research. If you are interested in what theistic Christians say about human origins (rather than what people say they say) then look at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/humans.htm#i. See David L. Wilcox, God and Evolution:A Faith-Based Understanding, Valley Forge,PA: Judson Press, 2004 for a good discussion of the issues.

If you are interested in what theistic Christians say about human origins (rather than what people say they say)

PZ Myers of Pharyngula has a pretty good example, this morning, of what theistic Christians really think and say... PZ's take down is quite amusing. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/i_get_email_70.php

Now, whoever wrote Genesis had the choise to write a very long book talking about gene splitting, natural selection, protein synthesis and the hole thing. But then he thought "nah, I'll just put in a tree with forbidden fruits in there instead".

I thought it was quite well recognised that the person writing 'genesis' was actually just plagiarising and adapting Enuma Elish, Sumerian creation myth and Gilgamesh?

Dragging it back to the subject, it's an example of being careful with citation of sources to get the real story without spin, and of how dodgy stories (US has 2 trillion barrels of oil) can get repeated and adapted to bolster a position (drill baby drill).

"But as it becomes more and more clear how deeply we are threatening all the systems that support life, I find myself falling stumbling into a kind of theism."

Well the whole thing took off for earnest with the Renaissance when Nature was looked upon as the work of the Devil and needed a makeover to recreate a Heaven on Earth. So the scientists were put to work converting the natural into the synthetic and fashioning an utopia for God's children, dotted with lots of Egyptian symbolism. :)

The multi-generational project seems to have run into a little trouble, but the faithful are optimistic it can be put back on track soon. :)

I also find myself increasingly drawn towards Pantheism. Interestingly, this sort of religious thinking seems to offend more people than atheism. At least this is what I noticed when talking to friends and colleagues. The idea of our species finding its proper place (ie balance) in the planetary framework doesn't seem to be very attractive to them.

'Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future' by Bron Taylor is in interesting read on that subject.

The idea of our species finding its proper place (ie balance) in the planetary framework doesn't seem to be very attractive to them.

Who are 'they?' Friends and collegues? Atheists? Pantheists? (and, why not panentheism?) Religious people?



I think I can completely empathise. I just don't see the world the same way anymore. Things that mattered to me once, I now see as a part of grotesque system that consumes life and produces junk that doesn't matter, and just leaves scars where once life existed.

I now feel connected to the world in a way that I can only describe as being similar to the way my indigenous friends describe their relationship to their land.

I literally feel nauseous from time to time by the things I see happening, and I am exorcising myself from the life I lived before as quickly as I can.

I am an atheist, but the experience does feel spiritual.

the experience does feel spiritual

All people want to feel that they are not part of some yeast growth in an accidental Petri dish.

WE all want to feel "special".

Nothing wrong with that

... as long as it doesn't extend into the irrational exuberance stage where we get high on our own self-aggrandizing fermentations.

[ i.mage.+]

I think you have stumbled upon something important here, dohboi. I have two main criticisms against atheism.

The first one is that it ignores the spiritual nature of humans. We are, like it or not, spiritual. Often, atheists write of the entire spiritual thing as nothing more than a way to explain natural phenomenas (say thunderstorms for example) without knowing the scientific explanation of them. These atheists believe that if we just educate everybode about the natural causes behind these phenomena, all religions would disapear. Poof! I think it is safe to say there is enough experience to know, so is not the case. People still remain spritual, even after they learn science. Because you can't educate away someones nature.

The other critisism I have is what you bring up here. Without any form of spirutual mindset, there is a risk we lose the connection with nature. For example; when I go out in the woods I can feel the spirits living there. I can feel the spirit in the lake, the spirit in the dark woods, the spirit in an old tree. Only problem is, I know those spirits do not exisits. (Or rather; I am a christian and animistic spirits have no place in my belief system). But I still feel them. And this feeling fills me up with a respect for nature that makes me unable to harm it. Out there in the woods, I am at home. I belong there. And I could not possibly destroy the enviornment that is a part of me, and that I am a part of.

Now, turn me into a full scale atheist who have no such illusions, Dawkin-style, and what you are left with is a guy fully capable of just seeing nature as a resource to exploit. It has no value above what can be measured in $$$. Why not just chop down the whole thing, if I can make an extra buck? With an atheistic mind set I am spearated from nature, what do I care if we destroy it?

So comes the day we learn that the earth is a space ship, and nature is the life suport system, and we are breaking it. Now we learn that we do need to find a way to connect with nature again. Atheists begin to discover their need for spiritualism. But what to fill it with, when you belive in nothing?

I agree with your first point, and I suspect it's not just humans. Probably goes back further in the mammal line than primates. Even rats display "superstitious" behavior.

I disagree with your second point. Being religious doesn't keep you from seeing nature as a resource to exploit. In fact, we've had conservative Christians come here and post that the earth is just the egg we're hatching out of, and god made it for us to use up. And being atheist doesn't keep you from being connected to nature. Indeed, I would argue that the intelligent atheist accepts our animal nature, and understands that we differ from other animals in degree, not in kind.

As for what replaces religion...how about EO Wilson's biophilia?

Religion has often been the way societies protect the environment and allocate resources, but using it and believing in it are two different things.

The first point wasn't that humans needs spirituality, but instead that atheism doesn't provide it.

Your EO Wilson link leads me to believe that you disagree with the first point, but agree with one of the pieces of evidence that Jedi Welders think bolsters his or her point.

If that is the case, than I agree with you.

I think it's probably impossible to get rid of religion. That doesn't mean everyone needs it, but it's futile to try and eradicate it. Spirituality can be found apart from religion, but religion provides something else: the illusion of order and control in a basically random and uncontrollable universe. And we need that. The only people who have a realistic view of the universe and their place in it are the clinically depressed. The rest of us think we have far more control over our situations than we actually have, and jump through incredible hoops to maintain that illusion.

Well that makes me feel a lot better about my unrealistic view of reality. Maybe I just need a different lie than the religious. The illusion works for me, and if I get hit by a truck tomorrow, I won't regret not having adequately worried about it. Actually, I find the unpredictability of it all liberating.

I don't really see any point in trying to eliminate religion. Neither do I think people should be disallowed or disencouraged from believing what they want. However, I do think a liberal system needs to put all ideas on an equal platform, and from a practical standpoint that means eliminating the massive privileges we have provided to a single set of ideas, most based on fictions created by bronze age shamans. Frankly, if religion would leave others alone, I'd agree to leave it alone.

I have no qualms with spirituality and don't think science claims that we know everything. However, much of religion is demonstrably false yet it treated seriously by a huge number policy makers around the world. That has to be bad.

I dunno. Maybe in an ideal world I'd go along with what you say.

I'm an atheist, and content to be so, but given human nature, and the challenges that are likely waiting in the future...I sometimes think we should pick a useful religion, and get behind it, or emphasize the most useful elements of the dominant religion. Say, the part about the evils of wealth, rather than the part about being fruitful and multiplying.

Religion has often been the way societies protect the environment and allocate resources

"We" have way many more religions than Religion itself.

"Economics" is a way that society "protects" (Mafia style) the environment and allocates resources.

"Politics" is a way that society "protects" (Chicago style) the environment and allocates resources.

"Movies/Myths" is a way that society "protects" (Cinderella magic style) the environment and allocates resources (the minds of gullible, Pie Pipered children).

One of the problems with any stereotype is that we often chose our own definition of what constitutes a Christian, atheist or whatever...and then demolish the straw man. There is, in fact, a strong environmental movement among Christians (see, for example, http://www.creationcare.org/). Christians who argue for environmental exploitation (or the war in Iraq for that matter) don't represent a majority of Christians...any more than a Peak Oiler who argues against global warming (e.g. Dr. Hirsch). Too many "Christians" are functional atheists...but that neither defines what it means to be a Christian or an atheist!

Now, turn me into a full scale atheist who have no such illusions, Dawkin-style, and what you are left with is a guy fully capable of just seeing nature as a resource to exploit. It has no value above what can be measured in $$$. Why not just chop down the whole thing, if I can make an extra buck? With an atheistic mind set I am spearated from nature, what do I care if we destroy it?

Whoa, Jedi Welder, What a load of freshly laid steaming Yak dung! Please do not assign, what you imagine to be a particular view, or mindset, as gospel truth, to those you do not know. At a minimum what you are doing is projecting your own profound misconceptions on to a non existent person. As far as your characterization, nothing could be further from the truth. How do I know you might ask? Because I am an atheist and your twisted fantasy is about as far from describing me, my world view and how I interact with nature and other humans as it is possible to get.

Carl Sagan, Scientist, Atheist and one of the greatest Humanists to ever have lived had this to say:

Sagan distinguished clearly between mysticism and spirituality. While mysticism is concerned with matters of magic, the occult, the supersensual and ‘essentially unknowable,’ spirit is something quite different, he maintained. "It comes from the Latin word 'to breathe'. What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word 'spirituality' that we are talking about anything other than matter (including the realm of matter of which the brain is made) or anything outside the realm of science...Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality...The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a profound disservice to both."

I aslo highly recommend you watch this video in which Richard Feynman also addresses this same issue

The first one is that it ignores the spiritual nature of humans.
People still remain spritual, even after they learn science. Because you can't educate away someones nature.

Can't disagree with that. Although I don't think the experiment of "start with modern scientific knowledge and no theology, and let the culture go where it will" has been run, so we just don't know
for sure what the outcome would be. I grant, that at a much lower level of understanding, spirituality is observed, but that doesn't disprove the possibility that at some cultural threshold that something else might happen.

when I go out in the woods I can feel the spirits living there.
Or rather; I am a christian and animistic spirits have no place in my belief system

If you had been present during the early expansion phase of any of the major monotheistic religions you would have been considered to be a heretic and treated as such. I strongly suspect virulent anti-heretical campaigns are almost unavoidable for monotheism (as opposed to polythesism). The one true god, just assumes too much importance, that all his competitors have to be driven out. Now, that
your monotheism is mature, fortunately for you, thats no longer a significant threat.

Part of what I see as the attraction of current monotheism, is the desire for the sort of protective unconditional love that a child recieves from its mother and father. We invent a
superparent figure to replace that which we can no longer have.

Spirituality existed before religion and does just fine outside of religion. Religion has attempted to steal spirituality - throughout history taking existing spiritual beliefs and practices virtually intact after persecuting those who created them.

Christianity appears close to admitting that their story is a lie, but claiming it is a pleasant lie because it provides purpose and meaning.

But organized religion only offers a corrupt set of institutions and a powerful caste of priests. It doesn't have any unique claim on purpose, meaning or spirituality, it is just trying to steal those from us and sell them back at an extortionate price.

Some news items from Fort Worth (Parker County is in the Barnett Shale Play and is west of Fort Worth).

Drilling to blame for methane in Parker County homes' water, EPA says

Two Parker County homes have water contaminated by natural gas drilling activities and face the risk of fire and explosion, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

The EPA issued an emergency order against Fort Worth-based Range Resources Corp., telling the drilling company to provide the homes with safe drinking water and take other measures to protect the nine residents after the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates gas drilling, declined to take immediate action. "The Railroad Commission has told us our actions are premature, but I believe they are mistaken," EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said. "We are worried about the families' safety. It was incumbent for us to act quickly."

A new article:

Parker County water contamination case stokes debate over natural gas drilling

Building on the Rock's prior comments, the first question that occurs to me is whether there is a water injection well nearby that might have been subjected to sufficient injection pressures to cause vertical communication between the gas pay and shallow freshwater aquifers.

In any case, not good news for the industry. Is this a first for the EPA? Note that the RRC strenuously disagrees on the finding (at least at this time).

Fort Worth's streetcar plan is derailed

"This has been a real struggle for me," Moncrief said. "The bottom line is, many of us are still wrestling with concerns over funding."

A vote to proceed with the study would have paved the way for the city to accept a $25 million federal grant, which was expected to jump-start the estimated $88 million project.

Mayor Moncrief is a strong supporter of passenger rail, but he was concerned about long term funding for the streetcar system. Ideally, what we need is an energy consumption tax, offset by abolishing the Payroll Tax, with the energy tax used to support Social Security and Medicare, with a portion going to electrified rail projects, but in an ideal world, Dallas and Fort Worth would not have shut down (in the late Forties) their 350 miles of electrified streetcar lines and their regional electric Interurban system.

in an ideal world, Dallas and Fort Worth would not have shut down (in the late Forties) their 350 miles of electrified streetcar lines and their regional electric Interurban system.

Of course they shut them down after 'lobbying' by GM reps. The problem is that no company will view public mass transit as important until they see a profit in going there. And, by the time that becomes sufficiently clear to those obssessed with the next quarterly P & L sheet, they will have waited too long. I know that because they have already waited too long. At least IMO, and I could be wrong.


Energy in the December/January issue of Mother Earth News

1. An article about EROI that mentions TOD.
2. An ad by Polaris for its EVs for farm and ranch. I didn't check their site but the URL is http://www.polarisindustries.com
3. Several articles about insulation, solar hot water, etc.


Hasn't Mother Earth News really gone downhill? A few of the articles are online including the one for the solar hot water. In years past such a post would have told how to build such a system. Now it is simply a disguised advertisement for a $7,650 kit (plus whatever you pay for installation).


I actually go back to MEN #1. We got it for a number of years and then stopped "because it really went down hill." We re-subscribed several years ago because it had sort of gone back to its roots so I obviously think it's worth it.

We got Countryside for a number of years too until it "changed." It seems as though magazines go through this as new editors come in or their subscription base stagnates...usually for the worse.

As far as the solar system you mention goes, ya, it's sort of like an ad but at the same time it will give people an idea of what is available, potential cost and how to do it. What I thought was brain dead was to not put it on a foundation. In my mountain area it would be blown down if not firmly attached to the ground.


Step right up, Ladies and Gents, here's a cheap solar water heater -tried and true and works just fine.

Pool solar water heater, $ 140, 2 ft wide and 20 ft long. Put it on a plywood backup staked to the ground. Move the water plus andifreeze to an insulated tank at atm pressure by natural convection. Run your water inlet pipe thru this tank to your storage tank at house pressure. Cover the pool heater with bubble wrap, no more than $ 20, and tape it on real strong to the plywood backup.

That's it, enjoy hot showers and all that.

In the winter run your storage tank inlet water thru a wood stove, and you get real hot water as long as the wood holds out.

Right, every now and then, replace the bubble wrap.

Then carefully coach the wife to brag without actually lying detectably to her singing and church clubs. This gives you a rep for saintliness which allows you to get letters to the editor printed.

I'd recommend instead: http://homepower.com for PV and solar thermal projects.

I liked Homepower a lot for a while, but they're a lot more into reporting the commercially sourced systems, last time I checked. I really am most interested in out of the box DIY projects. Mostly drawn to sites like www.builditsolar.com now.

Still looking for good discussions on diy energy work to join into..

Here's a link to the Polaris EV - it's pretty light on specs although they may have more some place else. I didn't look,



Some specs on their Ranger EV:


Still a bit light on numbers (battery type, range, etc.). I met some folks who have one of these. They charge it (mostly) with PV and like it alot. But then again, they think they'll make their fortune raising Alpacas.

But then again, they think they'll make their fortune raising Alpacas.

Alpaca wool is finer than Cashmere... which can of course still be obtained for mere cash.

Alpaca Yarn for Sale

Brown Alpaca Yarn Skeins, Sport Weight, approximately 4oz each, with 50 yards to each ounce (200 yards total). Price: $6.00 per ounce (plus shipping).

$6 per ounce is highway robbery. Top quality alpaca is less than $10 a pound.

Forgot to add that alpaca is not nearly as fine as cashmere (16-25 microns V 12-16 micron.

Ah, apparently you do not know the wonders of custom-dyed yarn for knitting. It's priced at hobbyist levels, not commodity levels. There is a cottage industry of wool farming, spinning, custom dying, and selling. It ends up as a variety of hand-made hats, scarves, sweaters, and assorted satchels made by women in their spare time.

I'm in for $200 so far this Christmas season.

Wool varies a lot from animal to animal, but in general, alpaca is not finer than cashmere.

There was a fascinating article in Discover several years ago, about alpaca and llama mummies in Peru. They were sacrifices, and had wool nearly as fine as cashmere, far finer than modern llamas and alpacas. They also grew wool much faster than today's animals.

And it was the culls that were sacrificed - the inferior animals. That means the others may have had even finer wool.

The Inca were great weavers; cloth was their currency. They bred their animals for fine, uniform wool, as well as qualities like length and color. But when the Europeans arrived, they paid for wool by the pound, creating demand for coarser, heavier coats, and thousands of years of selective breeding went out the window.

Wool varies a lot from animal to animal, but in general, alpaca is not finer than cashmere.

Yep, that seems to be right, I wasn't quite up to speed in my knowledge of South American camelids and their wool fibers... the critters that have finer wool are the Vicuña and the Guanaco.


The Alpaca is directly descended from the Vicuña


Simply stated, vicuña fleece is the rarest, most expensive natural fiber in the world. Its insulating properties make it warmer than wool. And with an average of only 12 microns, vicuña fiber is much finer than cashmere, which reaches 17 microns.


Guanaco fibre from our own organic farm; A dream to spin with, and finer than cashmere at 14-16 Micron and extremely rare.

We know several people who got into the Alpaca thing about ten years ago. We went to their national show in Louisville. Very interesting. Most of the money to be made was in showing and breeding, a bit like dogs, which means no money to be made for most folks (sound familiar?). These folks do sell the fiber, and the best animals provide several pounds of high-dollar product annually.

I figure these folks may realize a net return on their investment in 20-25 years. My question (which wasn't recieved so well) was: what do they taste like?

Like camel, I would guess.

Alpaca meat is consumed in Peru. The scientist in the Discover article I linked says she prefers it to beef.

My question (which wasn't recieved so well) was: what do they taste like?

Probably better than grasshopper >;^)

The Aussies have some interesting recipes but they'll eat just about anything... and so will I!


Carpaccio of alpaca with avocado and orange juice mayonnaise

Image of Carpaccio of alpaca with avocado and orange juice mayonnaiseIngredients: Alpaca tenderloin, Avocado, Spanish onions, Molle (Peruvian pepper), parmesan cheese, Orange juice mayonnaise, Olive oil, Organic herbs, Whole star anise (2), Cinnamon quill, dark brown sugar, rock salt

I'll bet Alpaca mozzarella ain't too bad either. That one is an olive branch for the PETA folk, People for the Edible Treatment of Alpacas.

I'll bet their FROFI is pretty good, considering where they come from, although the breeders around here were horrified at the thought of eating them. Not surprising considering they payed around $20k for their prize male. I decided goats and sheep make more sense around here, though locust encrusted Alpaca tenderloin sounds tasty.

Gotta go thaw the chickens out.

Manifa to produce at 500K Bpd in 2013:

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--Saudi Arabian Oil Co.Saudi Arabian Oil Co, better known Aramco, the world's biggest oil company, is on track to complete the initial phase of its large-scale Manifa heavy crude oil field development in 2013, with production to reach 500,000 barrels a day, the company's top executive said Wednesday.

"Manifa is on schedule for 2013 producing initially 500,000 barrels a day by 2013 even though it will be designed for 900,000 barrels," Khalid Al Falih, chief executive officer of Aramco said on the sidelines of the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemicals Association forum in Dubai.

However, "the market doesn't need 900,000 barrels" at the moment, Al Falih said.


This time they are not waiting for a spike in prices in 2013, they are already saying the market doesn't the extra production.


Is the American Petroleum Institute fully independent, or is it pungent with political involvement?

I expect there will be more and more blatant lies for public consumption as oil supplies become more stressed and the price rises.

The explanation will doubtless be focused on unfair Chinese competition, Russian mendacity, and Islamic, and eventually world, anti-Americanism. That gives nice hard enemies to rail at, which is what the politicos need to function.

The trouble is, were this policy to continue, those nice hard enemies would eventually come to include the whole world. For non Americans such state paranoia would be worrying. North Korea and Israel are bad enough, we don't need America to join in.

Perhaps the informed and educated many in the US will soon be heard on more than localised forums and become a national force: that's what I hope for anyway.

Re: North America: The new energy kingdom (uptop)

As Ron noted up the thread, the reporter is almost certainly misunderstanding what the API said. And one other clarification, the reporter is Neil Reynolds (with the Globe and Mail), and he is the one that stated that US crude oil production had exceeded all prior monthly levels (not Steve Forbes, unless Steve Forbes said something that I am not aware of).

OK Darwinian, thank you, so it is Forbes' reporting that is in error. Apologies to the API.

With regard to SA holding back new production, I should expect they are doing this to manage overall levels of production into the future at some sort of constant, while stating for public information that there is no 'need' to ramp up supply.

In a way there isn't; the last thing we need is another fast drop in the price of crude, which would immediately result in false confidence and another buying boom for trucks and yet more consumer junk, so forcing a consequent even fiercer hike in price.

I don't know about the US, but in the UK increased energy prices, all energy mark, is blamed on the oil/gas/ electricity companies and their greed for profit. Never in the popular mind is supply stressing mentioned, and if you suggest this to people they really don't want to know.

P.S. Thanks westexas: clearer yet.

"another fast drop in the price of crude"

As with the last 'fast drop,' the next major fall in crude prices will almost surely not come from the supply side, but from global economic collapse, at least partly brought on by high oil prices.

OK Darwinian, thank you, so it is Forbes' reporting that is in error.

Okay, we need to clear this up. THE error, in this case, was made by Neil Reynolds of the Globe and Mail. Of course Steve Forbes is in error but he said nothing specific in his video. He is just a blowhard who says that the energy crisis is over because the world is awash in energy. That is obviously wrong but that is just a general statement that most cornucopians believe.

Neil Reynolds was the one, and only one that I am aware of that said that the US produced more oil in the month of November 2010 than any month in history. Anyone with half a brain knows that is wrong. But Mr. Neil Reynolds is the one who made that error.

Ron P.

See my comment upthread; Nick Snow at Oil and Gas Journal was the source of the error.

API: US crude production, inventories broke October record

Nov 19, 2010

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 19 -- US crude oil production averaged 5.5 million b/d in October, a record for the month and 0.1% higher year-to-year, the American Petroleum Institute said in its latest monthly statistical report. Crude inventories increased for a fourth consecutive month to 366 million bbl as of Oct. 31, also a record for the month, it indicated on Nov. 19.

Nick Snow was the source of the error; the API report says nothing about a record (see item up the thread), but anyone with the most basic knowledge of US production would have known that the OGJ item was wrong. What's amazing is that the Oil & Gas Journal had not corrected an obviously false news item.

The world is "awash in energy". It is awash in solar energy but lacks enough solar buckets to make much of a difference. It is awash in wind but lacks wind buckets. We are floating on a sea of geothermal energy but lack enough wells. The oceans are full of thermal energy but we lack enough OTEC systems. There is also more oil in empty wells than we ever pumped from them but is too tightly bound to the rocks for us to currently extract. There is all that shale with oil in it but it takes more than one btu of energy to extract one btu of liquid fuel.

"The oceans are full of thermal energy but we lack enough OTEC systems."

That's one I kind of hope we don't get on a large scale. It just screams "unintended consequences".

There used to be an OTEC plant on the Big Island of Hawaii. It had a lot fewer unintended consequences than the other renewable energy projects they tried. The water drawn up from the bottom was used for lobster farming, and also resulted in some interesting critters along the shore there.

The problem with it is that the thermal efficiency is terrible. That's why they tried the lobster farming and such; it's just not economical for energy alone.

Hawaii is building a new OTEC plant that's supposed to be operational soon. Not sure if it will be economical, but Hawaii is probably one of the best places in the world for ocean thermal. Warm surface water, steep dropoffs to cold deepwater, and oil-fired electricity which is pretty expensive.


This paper provides the first annual estimates of GDP for England between 1270 and 1700 and for Great Britain between 1700 and 1870, constructed from the output side. For agriculture, the estimates rest on a detailed reconstruction of arable and pastoral farming, built up from manorial records during the medieval period, probate inventories during the early modern period and farm accounts during the modern period. For industry and services, indices of gross output are assembled for the major sectors and combined with value added weights. The GDP data are then combined with population estimates to calculate GDP per capita.

Our results suggest English per capita income growth of 0.20 per cent per annum between 1270 and 1700, with the strongest growth after the Black Death and in the second half of the seventeenth century. For the period 1700-1870, we find British per capita income growth of 0.48 per cent per annum, broadly in line with the widely accepted estimates of Crafts and Harley (1992). This modest trend growth in per capita income before the Industrial Revolution suggests that, working back from the present, living standards in the late medieval period were well above “bare bones subsistence”. This can be reconciled with modest levels of kilocalorie consumption per head because of the very large share of pastoral production in agriculture. Contrary to the claims of the California School, Western Europe was on a very different path of development from Asia long before the Great Divergence, characterized by high value added, capital intensive and non-human energy intensive production.

Lots of data that may be of interest to archeoeconomists and for "back to the future" scenarios.

Note the high rate of population growth in Britain (and also Ireland) in the second half of the seventeenth century. This era was long before the Industrial Revolution. My sources (from memory, no links) are that the main force behind this speeding up of population growth in Britain was the introduction of the potato to the British Isles during the seventeenth century.

The classic case, of course, is Ireland:
Pop. in 1750 roughly two million.
Pop. in 1800 roughly four million.
Pop. in 1845 roughly eight million.

Then came the Late Potato Blight, and the famine which followed.

Pop. late in the nineteenth century and to current date: roughly four million.
Note that rapid population growth in Ireland had little if anything to do with the Industrial Revolution.

See table 3 on page 38 for crop production. Potato is introduced around 1700 and then rises steadily to 1850. However, other crops are also increased, notably wheat and barley, which both more than double due to demand for bread and ale.

The ale should have given some spare capacity for a bad year unless they prioritize badly of course ...

During the potato famine in Ireland, exports of food (including meat) from Ireland to England continued. The English landlords didn't care that the Irish peasants were dying at the rate of hundreds of thousands per year; they sold agricultural products to England for good profits.

The best discussion I know of concerning the relationship between Ireland and England is to be found in Jonathan Swift's famous essay, "A Modest Proposal."

Provides an interesting discussion of Malthusian theory in pre-industrial Britain (the paper excludes Ireland) and suggests that data does not support the 'strong Malthusian' version, only the weak version.

Whereas Malthus clearly thought in terms of a negative relationship between population density and real income levels through diminishing returns, there is much evidence to suggest that the growth of London acted as a stimulus to productivity and real income levels (Wrigley, 1985; Allen, 2009). This is more in line with the positive relationship between population density and real income levels hypothesised by Boserup (1965; 1981), through effects on intensity of land use in surrounding rural areas and investment in density-dependent infrastructure in the metropolitan centre, thus creating increasing rather than diminishing returns.

Thanks Merrill for posting the link to this paper.


Yes, thanks for this interesting paper. I found this part of the conclusion you posted particularly interesting in respect to our conversation the other day.

"living standards in the late medieval period were well above “bare bones subsistence”"

This jibes with what I had been hearing that, while certainly no picnic, late Medieval life was not quite as relentlessly absolutely awful as it is sometimes presented as being. (Not that I am eager to go back to exactly that lifestyle.)

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 3, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.9 million barrels per day during the week ending December 3, 789 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.1 million barrels per day last week, up by 607 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.6 million barrels per day, 80 thousand barrels per day above the same fourweek period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 866 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 256 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 3.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 355.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels last week and are near the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels and are just above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 2.3 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 5.3 million barrels last week.

Oil inventories continued to run down last week, despite the fact that total daily oil imports into the US slightly exceeded 9.0 million bpd – about the lowest possible amount of imports needed to keep the US oil and oil product supply refinery and distribution smoothly functioning at today’s level of economic activity. Keep in mind this is about a million bpd less in imports than just two years ago before the current recession started – because the US economy is currently using roughly one million bpd or so less than then.

The extra imports mostly come from Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where probably the extra imports form Mexico were caused by weather delays a few weeks ago that lead to some bunching of shipments.

Note that for reasons, which the EIA almost never explains, the EIA adjusted the prior week’s oil inventory lower by about 1.75 million barrels. Conversely it added about 2 million barrels to the products category. Apparently most or all of that latter adjustment is in the gasoline category – since supplies increased despite a nice step up in demand. Part of the increased gasoline demand is due to the return back from the Thanksgiving holiday, but also an increase in real demand is also apparent – MasterCard reports a 1.1% increase in gasoline demand over last year. In general, overall product demand is running well ahead of what the EIA expected as little as three months ago, although in its last two monthly reports the EIA’s demand estimates for 2010 increased – but they are still not quite catching up with reality.

Helping distillate supplies last week was the fact that last week's U.S. heating oil demand was about 5 percent below normal, but is expected to increase to 16.1 percent above normal this week, due to much colder weather mostly nationwide.

Even though there were ongoing pipeline allocations by the Colonial Pipeline system into the New York Harbor (that is pipeline shipments from the Gulf Coast for gasoline and diesel were already at maximum capacity), overall product supplies became more evenly distributed across the country – alleviating a near shortage situation of gasoline in the Northeast and some diesel problems in the upper Midwest near the eastern Great Lakes.

Going forward, there is still considerable doubt as to whether the US will see oil imports averaging slightly over 9.0 million bpd for the remainder of 2010. Reports from OPEC tanker tracker Oil Movements do not show any increase in OPEC oil shipments to the US for the balance of 2010. Also worldwide shipping reports indicate that the only productive shipping route for large tankers (VLCCs) at this time is the route from the Mideast to China, and other routes are seeing even a slight decline in traffic.

"an increase in real demand is also apparent – MasterCard reports a 1.1% increase in gasoline demand over last year"

Whenever I see something like this - an increase in whatever consumption by about 1% - I can't help but think that the US population growth rate is about 1%, so there's no 'real' growth (NOT that I want growth!). It's just 1% more people doing about the same stuff as 1% fewer people did last year...

To me, that's one of the most basic fallacies of the infinite growth model. As population grows, a concurrently growing GDP just means there's more of us doing things - much of it destructive and counterproductive. And that's all applauded by the MSM and in fact is THE primary goal of politicians now.

An aside - missed you all yesterday. The Drumbeat haslong been my primary source of pertinent news. I know if something worth noting happens, someone will talk about it on the DB. It's going to take some adjusting to the silence every other day... I have no interest in seeking 'other sources' of news - no where else is as focused on what really matters as TOD.

Hi Clifman. Just drop in on the "old" Drumbeat (e.g. the most recent one). People were still posting on the 06 Dec 2010 Drumbeat yesterday.


That's true.

This is the reason that when the human population finally peaks - as it must - the financial system will fail.

Not just crash, but fail.

I'm telling you, get yourself some gold and silver now, before it's too late. You can always trade it later for fiat currency, or directly for goods, as it were.

Oilman Sachs, it may already be too late to get some gold and silver. The supplies are tight to non existent at the listed spot prices. I regularly visit my local coin dealers and they are paying above spot for gold coins and sell 15% above spot. On my last visit their trays for gold sovereigns were all sold out (I'm in Australia), this has never happened before.
I have read that the US mint cannot keep up with demand for silver eagles and that this is just not because of the mints capacity to strike but also they are legally required to mint the coins using US mined silver. The demand for coins alone matches all the US mines capacity. Add in private mints, bullion bars and industrial uses and its no wonder that world annual production only meets 7 months of the demand. LME and other silver stockpiles are reportedly many times overcommitted on paper. Gold and silver bugs in any number of blogs are seeing every price dip as a chance to add to their long term PM wealth.If JP Morgan is short 3 billion ounces of silver then physical silver will rocket to multiples of paper silver. So if you can get yourself some gold or silver GET PHYSICAL NOT PAPER and don't rely on banks or whatnot to store it for you as there are increasing reports (see Kitco for examples) of people having serious problems getting their bullion out of storage.

Ebay is a great source. Coins can often be had for spot price plus $5-10 shipped. I buy all my coins in this way; it's a lot cheaper than the retail prices around here.

This afternoon (after I posted the above) the EIA came out with a more up-to-date look at US oil and product demand in 2010. Demand has accelerated through most of 2010:

While low refinery utilization rates stemming from outages and fall maintenance have combined with low light product imports to limit gasoline and distillate supplies, stronger than expected demand growth may also have played a role in shrinking product stock cushions. The figure below shows U.S. total oil demand year-over-year growth, as well as gasoline and distillate demand growth, over the January 2009 through September 2010 period. As illustrated, total demand growth turned positive in February 2010, after running at large, albeit shrinking, negative rates throughout much of 2009. Since February, demand growth has accelerated, reaching a peak in September of slightly over 900,000 barrels per day, or almost 5 percent compared with September 2009, according to the latest available data from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Petroleum Supply Monthly.


There is also a nice graph on that page or here:


Well lets just see how it goes. Expect corrections and adjustments to be the norm not.

If the fundamentals are anything like what I think they are then this reallocation of products is only going to result in a temporary reprieve your effectively robbing peter to pay paul. Eventually and not to far out in the future I'd guess a few weeks at best we should begin to see a more generalized strain on products develop. This of course will be much harder to fix.

At that point you need to simply pay the price for the crude oil reallocation fails.

I could well be off on my timing but if we do have real storage problems then reallocation should fail fairly quickly.

Perhaps a good indicator is when the Colonial pipe line is finally no longer over allocated. After that then we should see more general supply issues developing all over the place not just regionally. The key is when issues start developing in a number of regional markets at the same time. Aggressively taking care of the NE should be setting us up for even more problems in a fairly short period of time for now my guess is weeks not months.

Thats actually the problem with rationing. Your way to generous at first to try and ensure you have zero problems later when everyone is having issues you have nothing to give.

Lets give it two or three weeks and see what happens. If my most extreme cases are close to right then thats all it will take.

That by no means requires them to be right simply that if they are then this reallocation thats happening now was it it was all we could do. If so then its 95-100 a barrel oil within three weeks. If not then the most extreme cases can be safely discarded.
And we are well on the way to dismissing a lot of my conjectures. Perhaps we di see 95 dollar oil but perhaps the Saudi's then open the taps. Then we have to wonder for how long ?

Anyway lots and lots of possibilities I just think that friggin finally we will begin to see what really happening with oil.
Unless of course our economy turns around and crashes again grrr :)

Just to recap, starting about mid-November China started to take away more oil exports basically from most everyone else. Jeff Rubin, in the article linked above, says that China just 'burned through' its oil related supplies - and my conclusion is essentially now they are in a rush to restock before a more serious crisis ensues. So China's supply problems may be a little deeper than just the 'diesel shortage' we have been discussing much lately.

All recently available shipping reports, including today's, indicate the new China syndrome continues unabated. So I concur that the US too may be on the verge of 'burning through' its surplus inventories in short order - since it appears fairly certain at least as 2011 starts that US oil imports will be less than needed.

One good thing about the US is that the oil and product distribution system is large and flexible. It barely avoided two different types of near-shortage situations recently without alarming the public. But if overall US inventories drop down near their MOLs (minimum operating levels), we will no longer have a chance for a quick regional fix - and the problems will spread nationwide.

In reply to memmel’s post yesterday, I want to elaborate on the issue of oil supplies.

Curiously, according to the energy tracking firm Genscape, oil supplies at Cushing, OK have been increasing about 4 million barrels this last month while oil supplies elsewhere in the country are falling. The inventory increase has been generally associated with the pipeline companies Magellan and Enbridge, who as you might remember, recently had pipeline operational problems – with Enbridge now allocating, that is restricting, some ‘tar sand’ oil imports from Canada.


Therefore our ‘surplus’ and ‘comfortable’ levels of ‘excess’ oil inventory are largely in one place, and are of medium quality.

Also, the Colonial Pipeline is expected to be at maximum capacity this week and next for gasoline shipments:

12/9/10 Reuters News 02:54:37
December 9, 2010

Colonial Pipeline allocates main gasoline line for Cycle 71

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Colonial Pipeline said it was allocating its main gasoline line north of Collins, Mississippi, for Cycle 71, as nominations on its line exceed the company's ability to meet the five-day lifting cycle.

In a note to shippers sent late Wednesday, Colonial said it would announce committed and threshold volumes on Monday, Dec. 13.

Concerning China, Chinese oil companies were reported to be heavy buyers of heating oil in the Hong Kong market since the start of the month, buying 472,000 tonnes, or nearly the equivalent of two VLCC-loads.

The latest from the OPEC tanker tracker, Oil Movements, confirms that China is taking away supply from everyone else – even though OPEC has finally stepped up the amount of its exports at year end to accommodate winter demand:

12/9/10 Reuters News 16:30:30
LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Seaborne oil exports by OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will jump by 610,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Dec. 25, the biggest rise since March, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

The rise in sailings is the biggest since the four weeks ending March 6, it said, adding that the last time it was over 600,000 barrels per day was in June 2009.

"The fundamental cause is the same as it has been throughout the fourth quarter -- Eastern demand," Roy Mason of Oil Movements said.

Oil Falls a Second Day, Dropping From 26-Month High on Europe Debt Concern

Crude oil tumbled after an Energy Department report showed unexpected increases in inventories of gasoline and distillate fuels.

Oil slipped 0.5 percent after the department said gasoline supplies rose 3.81 million barrels to 214 million last week. They were forecast to fall 300,000 barrels, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Supplies of distillate fuels, including heating oil and diesel, climbed 2.15 million barrels.

“The gains in gasoline and distillate supplies show that there’s no problem with supply and that the demand picture isn’t that strong,” said Rick Mueller, director of oil markets at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

Distillate demand increased 5% in the latest 4 weeks as compared to the same four weeks last year, and was incrementally only down a fraction of 1% as compared to the previous week - even though the weather this last reporting week improved. So I am not sure why some analysts keep saying that distillate demand "isn't that strong" when it will be up about 5% for the entire 2010 year.

Argentina Announces Super Gas Deposit Discovery

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez announced the discovery of a huge (shale) gas deposit in Neuquen about 1,150 km southwest of Buenos Aires.

"This discovery allows us to project gas reserves for the next 50 years," Fernandez told reporters attending the announcement ceremony held at Repsol-YPF headquarters here with the attendance of Repsol-YPF Executive Vice-President Sebastian Eskenazi and President Enrique Eskenazi.
The "mega-deposit" which contains 4.5 trillion cubic feet of proven shale gas reserves was found by Repsol-YPF, the biggest energy company owned by Spain's Repsol in Argentina.

(many more links in Google with "Repsol-YPF gas Argentina")

The immediate result was that Repsol-YPF is allowed to increase the price of its gas up to five times, up to the level of the gas imported from Bolivia, from 1,5 euros up to 5,25 euros. Not bad for the Eskenazis -and for Cristina... Not a lot of people abroad know that their share of YPF was given to them by the previous government and paid for with the earnings from YPF.

As these volumes, trillions are not decimal "trillones", that is 10^12 cubic feet. If we pass 4,5 Tcf to cubic meters and as Argentina uses 110-120 million cubic meters a day it is enough for about 1,250 days, that is about three years; somewhat short of the 50 years that Cristina viuda de Kirchner says.

The news was received in Argentina with the pun YA-SI-MIENTO ~yacimiento ~oilfields Meaning "Yes, I lie!"

As these volumes, trillions are not decimal "trillones", that is 10^12 cubic feet. If we pass 4,5 Tcf to cubic meters and as Argentina uses 110-120 million cubic meters a day it is enough for about 1,250 days, that is about three years; somewhat short of the 50 years that Cristina viuda de Kirchner says.

... unless of course, not everyone is going to be invited to the party. Then, it might last 50 years...

According to YPF

"We obtained excellent results in terms of natural gas ... we carried out our first exploration campaign by limiting ourselves to just one area," YPF Chief Executive Sebastian Eskenazi said in a televised speech. "In just that one area, we found we had 4.5 tcf."

Somebody else working for or with the company told an Argentine newspaper:

The deposit, which the company is expected to announce formally on Tuesday, could hold 257 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, a technician involved in the exploration was quoted as telling daily newspaper La Nacion.

The smaller number is just one area where YPF drilled 4 wells. The entire shale is a lot bigger.

Just thought I'd throw this out there as a heads up. I've been watching the model runs the last few days and it looks to be quite a shot of cold air into deep S. Florida. I'm seeing temps in the 30F's for even Miami early next week. I say this because of all the winter agriculture in that part of the country. This could cause prices to skyrocket.

I'm seeing temps in the 30F's for even Miami early next week.

I'm actually feeling them. I don't often have to turn on the heat here in South Florida but I did so last night.

Cold in Florida? What global warming? Clearly it's a hoax! Perhaps the greatest left-wing conspiracy ever...

[snark off]

It seems that arctic warming triggers an increase in the likelihood of a negative arctic oscillation, which allows cold polar air to stream down into the mid latitudes. Last winter, I followed these sites regularly for forecasts and history of global and regional temps. Northern Canada and the Arctic were about 10C above normal all winter. Concurrently, the US mid-Atlantic (among other mid-lats) were perhaps 5c below normal at times. Now, relatively few people live in the Arctic, and lots of folks, including politicians and pundits, live in the mid-Atlantic. So guess which anomaly made headlines?

The irony of this is blatant, of course. AGW, better termed climate change, leads to something a bit more complex than 'every place gets warmer', feeds right into the denialist perspective, an MSM beholden to TPTB and/or just too bloody ignorant to discover and report on the complex reality aids and abets them, and the public is duped into disbelieving AGW. It would make my head hurt if I hadn't seen it so many times over.

Anyhoo, here's one site that discussed the NAO. I've seen better, but can't find the links right now, sorry...

Don't worry too much about that.

Even if we had consistent, uniform temperature increases everywhere on the planet, we still wouldn't do anything about it.

We like our toys, and China wants to get rich. Besides, there's no global government. Only agreements, which lead to comparative economic advantage if violated.

Yes, it's true! We are too tribal and short-sighted to do anything about a problem as large as AGW, no matter what it's manifestations.

I made a film called Peak Oil, Economic Collapse are a Fraud .

I am not debunking peak oil, I am only showing how the concept of the earth peaking oil production is a myth based on 1 plant and what it can provide. Yes 1 plant provides biodegradable fuel that grows 7x more than corn ethenol, and does not need to be rotated because hemp repairs toxic soil (chernobyl), hemp also provides biodegradable oils, plastics, fibre, non-addictive medicine that cures cancer and 1/3rd of all disease, the most nutritional seed on the planet. One enigma after another.

Anyone can experiment and burn gasoline or corn ethenol, then burn hemp oil SMELL IT. do not smell the gasoline or corn ethenol unless you want to be poisoned. if hemp was used for fuel the only reason the neighbours dog would chase after your car was because the dog loved the smell of the fuel.

I do not stop there there is an abundance of solutions to most of the worlds problems. Lack of phospherus? plants grow phospherus and WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT COMPOSTING? MILLIONS of people put their compost in green bins that waste energy. There is much energy going to waste every day for no reason, all because corporations lobbied governments to make cannabis/hemp illegal so the oil barons could control the earth.

Why is bill gates investing in depopulation in the form of vaccines, corn ethenol and a seed vault? some non-thinkers will believe there is no solution because bill gates invested in corn and not hemp. good to have a sense of humour.

Mylesohowe, I just watch the start of your first video. In the first 17 seconds I found a gross error:

I have found many experts claiming that nothing can stop peak oil, and for some reason, the middle class is the fault. Why is the blame being shifted to the middle class? Please make your own mind up.

That is pure baloney! No one is blaming the middle class. Well, perhaps there are a few misinformed people who blame politicians, business or even the middle class. The truth is that no one is to blame. We found it, we used it and now we are at the peak of world oil production. It is pure ignorance to blame anyone for just living and doing what everyone else is doing in the world they were born into. But peak oilers, in general, do not blame the middle class for peak oil. And you are just making up things when you say they are being blamed.

Edit: I just watched much of the first four video's, with the aid of the mouse to skip through them. None of the first four had anything to do with peak oil. They were just videos of marijuana, Hitler, politics and many other such things but nothing about the oil supply, geology or anything concerning peak oil.

Peak oil is not a fraud. You are the fraud for claiming this video has anything to do with peak oil.

Ron P.

finish watching the film it IS ABOUT PEAK OIL. "We're literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up" - James Howard Kunstler

Without a fill up? Excuse me? What did he say in the END of suberbia? Ignorance is NOT bliss.

Dude my brother believes there are too many people on the planet, and its the 'stupid middle class fault', but then he watches tv. He is 10 years older than me. People who watch TV believe, as if they were a hive mind, that its all the middle class fault. I get the same message from my uncles, aunts. What the hell is going on here? Definatly more than meets the eye. I am SICK AND TIRED OF THE DEFEATIST ATTIDUDES when an abundance of solutions overwelms the world. Finish watching the film unless you just want to keep RUNNING from the solutions and surpressing the solutions. You watch the first few parts and stop. How childish, OF COURSE YOU WONT UNDERSTAND the film is about peak oil unless you finish it. The film starts slow but the information presented should compensate. Because these oil barons control the earth, they spent a lot of money to misinform the general public and make them really believe there are limited solutions to the worlds problems. And people HERE, who are supposedly aware of what is going on, have nothing better to do than call a 24 year old out of his mind, because that person refuses to see something, even when evidence is presented.

An EX-KGB agent said something like this 'I could show ignorant american soviet concentration camp up close and they would still not believe it.'


I am seeing this peak oil movement in a new light, if children can understand what I present MY GOD these adults are nothing more than children who cry like little babies when someone offers REAL SOLUTIONS. Some of you WANT things to get worse and chase others away who points things in the right direction. Admit it, I am now. I used to be so into researching the problems, I overlooked the most simple solution that is in plain sight.


If a university is honestly looking into hemp biodiesel I THINK THE PEAK OIL MOVEMENT SHOULD HAVE A LONG TIME AGO.

I'm afraid I got through even less of your videos than Ron did. I don't feel it's useful to call you a 'fraud', any more than I thought it was helpful for you to call Peak Oil a fraud. You're at a site that makes a simple request. Communicate your point clearly, and back it up. Namecalling belongs in the second grade, where a teacher is there who can quickly squash it (one hopes).

There have been several comments following your first post about whether Hemp is overhyped or not. While it may be annoying to you and a lot of work to do so, what I think your obligation would be is to calmly and clearly make well-supported arguments to back up your claims.. otherwise, what are we to do? We hear claims all the time, space-based solar, supercapacitors, ethanol from this and that; and unless they can make a case for themselves, they will get brushed aside. That's not censorship or some Oil-monopoly keeping your message down. That's people who are going to push the bar higher on having a reasoned and evidence-based discussion. You and I have an obligation (that we are free to ignore at our own peril) to keep that bar high as well. Ron just forgets this a bit when his hackles are up.. I forget it a bit when Ron's hackles send up my hackles.

Hemp has a tough political hill to climb because of the stereotypes against Pot.. EVEN THOUGH Alcohol as a drug has been far more destructive to our culture.. it gets better airtime because it is so Lucrative that it can afford a better PR campaign. Sorry if that's an unfair slope that anyone who sounds like a 'Legalize it' campaigner will have to climb, there it is. As I said elsewhere, Nuke proponents chafe from much the same problem.. while I actually kind of enjoy watching them squirming on that hook, since I think the Nuke industry made their own bed.

It seems that Hemp as a cheap and useful fiber, and Pot as a drug are pretty useful and fun and fairly healthy in a number of ways.. but they won't make any headway if their strengths are provably overstated.. that will keep them sidelined on and on. I think the real battle has to do with profitability, since it, like Solar Heating is so much less sexy from a Market point of view, that it may never get the love from the 'Players' out there, and so will be this competition that they must oppose if they still want to sell their High-tech, High-test, High-Alcohol and High-profit margin products. The little, small-d democratic, do-it-yourself, grow-your-own options clearly are not going to help them much.

Your videos were hard to stick with. You know we're in a time of quicker communications.. the symbols you used were (as Ron and others said) seriously loaded, and it's still unclear which assumptions the viewer should attribute to them. I hope you will try to condense your ideas into ONE video, and be very succinct, and think about the broad range of people you want to have hearing your thoughts.

'Say what you have to say as clearly and concisely as possible, that is the basic element of style.' .. Strunk & White.

Good luck.

If a university is honestly looking into hemp biodiesel I THINK THE PEAK OIL MOVEMENT SHOULD HAVE A LONG TIME AGO.

How do you know they didn't ? TOD published an article about jatropha oil and recently (7 december) one that is called: " Cellulosic ethanol reality begins to set in". That article mentions some problems that maybe also apply for hemp.

Watching Ron's post through my special 'Darwinian filter', it sounds like you've got some constructive ideas in your videos, I hope a few others take a look (I will when I get a second..) and help encourage the positive ideas, instead of just taking some misstatements and calling you libellous names for them. That was unfortunate.

As far as Peak Oil not being a problem, I have to say that if the opportunities in Hemp products are a key component in your solutions, then we've still got a problem. Not unlike those who want Nuclear complaining that 'the public is just in the way'.. that's a big problem for Nuclear as a solution. The challenges of getting any of the workable ideas (not to imply that I think Nukes are one of them) out into the world in enough numbers, on time, through old habits or customs, despite economic constraints... those are ALL part of why Peak Oil is a problem.

Saying 'it COULD be otherwise' doesn't change that fact. Political and Communications barriers are just as real as 'Physical' ones. That said, we do need to look towards the tools we can be pursuing, and I'm glad you're doing so.


In a nutshell: The film claims peak oil is a fraud and that marijuana will solve all our energy problems. I get chastised for calling the film baloney. Go figure?

Ron P.

once you smoke up then you will understand the true meaning of the film

Marijuana will cut road fuel use and increase consumption of potato chips, so pretty much of a wash. So far as I can tell, chrystal meth does the opposite: cuts food consumption but increases gasoline use, so not much hope there either.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs, a noted entrepeneur, suggests that people working on new battery technology might advance more quickly following a hit of LSD. Therefore we should not too quick to overlook pharmaceuticals when considering our energy future.

Interesting how hemp is the be all to end all crop for the US, but in countries where it's always been legal, it's nothing special. Cotton and Jute both provide superior fiber, and byproducts from both provide yet more utility. Heck, jute foliage is edible, and it's even popular fare in some countries.

I'm all for an end to prohibition of pot, but the gross exaggeration of hemps utility by pro legalization activists got old a long time ago.

Industrial Hemp is the issue. The seeds are pretty good animal feed as well -- besides the fiber utility. But I am not an advocate or expert.

even more idiotic to me personally is to watch federal dollar go towards the removal of industrial hemp -- spending millions upon millions of tax payer dollars to remove a harmless/yet useful weed.

LOL -- the hypocritical nature is immense but I am not at all surprised about the ineptitude of the US government.

Yea, the fiber is the main part of the crop, in the case of hemp, and I don't see it superior to its competitors. Activists tout textiles that are made of heavily processed hemp. They're usually hemp viscose, which is indirectly made from hemp fibers, or chemically treated fibers blended with superior natural fibers like cotton.

Fibers fine enough to make imitation silk can be sorted out from jute without chemical conversion to viscose. Of course we're all familiar with the quality of cotton. You cannot get fiber as fine as cotton from hemp. Hemp was widely known and legal when flax was the most common fiber of choice for clothing, and hemp was widely known and legal when cotton became the fiber of choice for clothing.

My only knowledge from reading on this is that hemp makes a superior natural rope.

Nylon is stronger but Hemp is the best natural rope fiber.

The longish fibers could also make strong paper.

All I know.

The seeds are apparently good animal feed also. The seeds are higher value than the fiber -- used in many natural products.

It was the wood industry that took out hemp production. Hemp makes very good paper, is renewable, cheap, and, oh yes. You can smoke the leaves. Solution to the wood pulp people: "lobby" the introduction of laws to make hemp illegal.

But that is a rant for another day.


Again, here's another myth parroted by pro legalization activists. Hemp is legal in many countries, and in those countries, it's not commonly used for paper. BTW, the finest paper you can get, is made of cotton.

Before cotton and wood pulp was used for paper, the be all to end all for paper, was flax. The finest was made with used linens, and collecting and processing them was a huge business. During all this time, hemp was known and legal, yet even then, paper made from used linens was considered the best.

Even today, most countries use a cotton/linen blend for their currency. The utility of hemp is greatly exaggerated by pro legalization activists.

It is likely in colonial times that most paper was made from mixtures of linens, hemp and flax fibers.

Wood was not used to make paper at all.

Perhaps early drafts of the US Constitution were written on hemp/flax/linen paper.
The final draft was written on parchment (animal skin) which holds up much better.

US currency is 80% cotton and 20% flax.

In principle flax, jute and hemp should be used more to replace oil-based stuffs imho. Save the oil for other things and use natural fibers which can biodegrade when the item wears out.

I am unsure of the farming practices required for flax, jute and hemp. I think an argument is that Hemp can grow in very poor soil conditions rather well.

Hemp likely is better for textiles and rope materials; the longer fibers could help make stronger paper but hemp is not as cost effective to make up all the fiber content of paper.

US currency is 80% cotton and 20% flax.

There is one of the problems with the US dollar right there. It is about time they took it into the 21st century and put Ben's face on a plastic bill - he won't wrinkle up that way.

The plastic bills used in Australia last much longer and are much harder to counterfeit.

Of course, coins last longer still, and Australia ditched the $1 and $2 notes, and saved a lot of money making these most used and shortest life notes. Better still, they got rid of the penny, with the 5c coin being the smallest - it was costing more than 1c to make 1c!

Americans may have an emotional attachment to George Washington on the $ bill, but it is costing them.

Canada is going to switch to plastic bank notes in the near future, too. It makes it much tougher to counterfeit bills - you can put clever features such as see-through windows into them. One particularly clever trick is to build a small magnifying glass into the bill that you can use to examine small details in the printing. That's a tough feature for counterfeiters to fake.

The trouble with US bills is that you can produce a convincing replica with a scanner and an inkjet printer. I just read an article about a counterfeiter that produced 7 million dollars in fake $100 and $20 bills that way, and the only reason he got caught was that he got too greedy. He discovered that you could defeat a counterfeit detector pen by printing it on toilet paper, although cheap newsprint worked nearly as well. The hard part was making cheap newsprint duplicate the feel of real money but that was also doable.

Canada also stopped printing the $1 and $2 bills and introduced the loonie and toonie a few years ago. I'm still hoping for them to dump the penny because it is so much trouble throwing them in the garbage.

At the rate ben is printing we can't afford the oil input into our money supply.

Look for coins to become plastic. Lol

I'm wearing hemp trousers (pants) and a hemp shirt right now. Warm, hardwearing and comfortable. Hemp as a source of liquid fuel? maybe, small scale. It is not sufficiently productive on most soils without pstrochemical fertilizer, and is disease prone. Hemp production has collapsed in the UK because there is no market for it. It can be used for thatched roofs, and even as a filler in concrete. Hemp seed is (just about) edible (the non psycho-active type) but it is very unpallatable.

A cure for peak oil? Only if you smoke it.

Tell me what is says on the tag, including the brand. I guarantee you that if your clothing doesn't have the texture of a potato sack, it's been indirectly made from hemp fibers rather than directly made from them, and may also be blended with cotton.

It is really hard to understand what your point is in your videos. I've watched the first 2 installments, and it seems to be a stream of consciousness exercise in conflating corporate logos with ancient Egyptian and Nazi symbolism.

And, while I am not Barry's biggest fan, what is up with the juxtaposition of Nazi rallies and Obama? Nazis/Obama, Nazis/Obama.

What is it with your Nazi fixation anyway? Well, I'll watch a bit more to see if all is revealed or something...

OK, now we're into Masonic conspiracy theory. You, my friend, are a wack-job.

Member for 8 hours 44 min

came here to pedal his manifesto

WTF? how can plants grow Phosphorus? The best that they can do is put roots down to tap into whats already in the ground.

Improved Car Batteries 5 Years Off: Energy Chief

Cars that run on batteries will begin to be competitive with ones that burn petroleum fuels in about five years, the U.S. energy secretary said at the annual U.N. climate talks.

"It's not like it's 10 years off," Secretary Steven Chu said at a press conference on U.S. clean energy efforts on the sidelines of the climate talks. "It's about five years and it could be sooner. Meanwhile, the batteries we do have today are soon going to get better by a factor of two," said Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.

I think Chu is being a bit over-optimistic there. But then again "get better by a factor of two" is pretty vague. Better in cost? Charge density? Power density? Recharge time? Battery management system improvement? Perhaps the batteries will be 'better by a factor of two' if you consider incremental improvements on several of those metrics occurring simultaneously.

I agree in that I think EVs will be "competitive with ones that burn petroleum fuels in about five years" (good news!) . . . however, I believe that will largely be true due to the increased price of gasoline (the bad news).

I guess my first question is "how much of the cost of an electric car is in the battery pack?" The big issue is going to be affordability of the vehicle, not range. We can adjust to limited driving ranges. We can't adjust to a doubling in automobile prices.

Would these car batteries be any use in a domestic PV system? They would provide a handy renewable source of batteries if they are, for those with a criminal bent that is. :)

"We can't adjust to a doubling in automobile prices."

Why not? I'm not assuming the conditions will remain as they are.. but even a more expensive E-car might end up with better economics than a gas car, once gas gets truly constrained.. of course, other adjustments will also be in the mix, as in Fewer people will have cars again, families might or co-workers might figure out how to ride-share, extended families co-owning vehicles. FAR fewer teens driving alone (or at all) to School, etc. Far more folks getting back on foot or on bikes, moving closer to work.

Why not? I'm not assuming the conditions will remain as they are.. but even a more expensive E-car might end up with better economics than a gas car, once gas gets truly constrained...

That's an easy one: because I can't afford it. I drive a very economical vehicle (Toyota Corolla) and it is about as much as I can manage, especially once I factor in the cost of insurance, taxes, etc. It doesn't help that I live in a New England and the friendly DOT is regularly throwing salt on the road. My last car -- a Subaru Forester -- cost me $20K and lasted barely ten years. I had hoped to keep driving it for a few more but alas, the underside of the vehicle was literally coming off in sheets. The final straw was a hole in the passenger compartment in close proximity to a rotted out gas tank. $4K to $6K to make the vehicle road-worthy again. No way. It's gone.

There's a lot of talk on this site about selling your house and moving closer to work. Sounds great -- until you try and sell your house or until the company that you work for goes bust and then you faced with relocating again to find work. Ultimately, we are going to find that the auto-centric society is a lot more brittle than we think. And when it breaks, it will hurt.

There's a lot of talk on this site about selling your house and moving closer to work. Sounds great -- until you try and sell your house or until the company that you work for goes bust and then you faced with relocating again to find work. Ultimately, we are going to find that the auto-centric society is a lot more brittle than we think. And when it breaks, it will hurt.

Well, Americans have had 40 years since their oil production peaked to prepare for the current state of affairs. Most of them have not really taken advantage of the opportunity, and many of them seem to have moved in the opposite direction.

It's all a consequence of bad planning.

Cultural inertia. Park a Sixties-era muscle car at the curb and watch it attract paunchy, balding American men. I used to bike home from work past the Elks Lodge and once a week, maybe twice, they'd all drive their "Goats" and Road Runners down there and stand around admiring them. I felt a little sorry for them. Knowing what I did, it all seemed sort of pathetic. Like a funeral of sorts.

Louis: Rick, why are you in Casablanca?

Rick: I came for the waters..

Louis: But surely Casablanca is in a Desert?!

Rick: I was misinformed.

That's why I'm renting, not buying.

.. and it's why we own a couple rentals in a walkable small port city, so it is possible to 'move closer to work'.. but it takes some foresight and time. :>

.. not that I'm not nervous about our tenants hanging onto their jobs, and our being able to refill the (4) apartments when/if they empty. So far, so good.

Now, I'm just trying to knock the heating costs for the two buildings down in every way I can.

Yes, it's already hurting.

I didn't say EV's mean a 'no problem' transition. I'm just suggesting that even at twice the cost, some people will buy them, since what they offer will be worth the money. I just think a lot of other parts of the car-ownership formula will change as well, as I also said. I expect proportionally a lot more e-scooters to be showing up on the roads.. but also a lot of new Hoovervilles, too, as that goes. - and lots of Bikes..

Well range and cost are directly tied together. You can get a better range by putting more battery in the car . . . but that makes it cost more. (And you can build a relatively cheap EV but it will have a terrible range.)

One of the biggest challenges of the EV biz is figuring out where the 'sweet spot' is. How much battery should you put in the car? And different companies have had different solutions.

But it annoys me that no one has done the obvious . . . let the buyer choose. Allow the consumer to choose the size of the pack to meet their needs. And make it upgradeable so you can buy more battery later (when it is hopefully cheaper!). But they have probably stayed away from that idea since that would confuse the stupid consumer and it would be more expensive/tricky to implement.

How about adding a tow hitch and an electrical socket. If you are going a long way, you could pull a trailer with more battery in it. It would also be useful if someone runs out of battery on the road. The rescue vehicle crew could rent the driver a trailer with a full charge instead of towing the discharged car or charging it by the roadside.

Generator trailers are a better bet. These could be rented and temporarily turn any electric car into a hybrid for the occasional road trip.


Then there is this approach, just push the damn electric:


Wait a second... a trailer with batteries??? OMG ... Can you imagine selling the sheep on that one! They'd probably torch your house just for mentioning it. I watched a lady yesterday sit in a Chevy Tahoe as here platoon of kids snowboarded on a local hill. That will work great in her electric Tahoe... This whole electric car business i think is going to really really have a hard time taking off, especially up here in the midwest, the home of the SUV and pickup truck.

I've got to say, let's stop worrying about the dunderheads every time an idea is put out there. There will always be objectors, entitlists and late-bloomers. 'If the chick don' wanna know, fuhgeta' -Thin Lizzy

That stereotype is like an invitation for defeatism. There are a lot of people who DO love the idea of EVs, and as I talk to friends about them, adding in the idea of being able to rent a trailer for occasional range extension of an otherwise 'Local Only' car opens up options that get them to see how much versatility there is in the proposition for electric propulsion.

Yes, there are tons of problems and challenges. Let's keep paralyzing our thinking by obsessing on them.

A cheaper alternative to the battery trailer would be small generator that mounts on a towing hitch, like those cargo racks. Think of a slimmed down Honda generator. If purpose built, they would be quite a bit lighter than todays ones. It could be built with a DC generator at the charging voltage of the battery pack, avoiding losses in the rectifier. A generator producing 8kW could keep the car going at 50mph indefinitely (6miles/kWh), and to go for three hours at 60 mph, you would drain about 5kWh (20-25%) from the vehicles battery pack.

With the trailer, once it's done, you are done while trailer and car recharge. With a "plug in" generator, and a charged car at the start, you could get a full day's driving, it you take it easy. The generator can even be recharging the batteries when you stop at a rest area or some scenic stop. Where as the trailer will have you trying to find charging stations, which won;t be nearly as pleasant.

Not a fuel free system, of course, but then neither is the Volt.

Years ago, I recall seeing a video about the design of the control system for the GM Impact. The designer had an electric drive running in a modified Honda Civic and used a small trailer mounted generator for longer distance driving. I would expect to see such generator trailers offered for the Nissan Leaf almost immediately after it goes on sale. A small diesel powered 10kw gen set with electric start would make a fine option and I think the MPG with the trailer running could be better than a Prius, since the motor would be small. One could drive on batteries for most of the time in the city, then hook on the trailer for longer trips...

E. Swanson

A trailer with batteries seems cleaner from both a standards and vehicle design perspectives.

A trailer with a generator raises all the issues about pollution controls, catalytic convertors, noise standards, collision safety of the fuel supply, etc.

Mounting the generator on a trailer hitch raises additional problems of vehicle balance and stability, location of the fuel supply, etc.

They might all be soluble problems. Maybe the generator could mount as a bustle on the back and the fuel could go into a container in a luggage compartment in the front, sort of where the VW Beetle gas tank was -- although I'm not sure that would pass muster with the safety regs. Maybe the generator with fuel tank could be in a teardrop pod the mounts on the roof -- especially on the low, squarishy, hipper EVs.

Each has its benefits. The great thing is that there is clearly all sorts of flexibility for multiple solutions. Once your supplemental power is on a standard trailer hitch, you can start to mix and match. If you own the thing, you might be able to rent it out, too.

I like the idea of a longish trailer with some battery capacity and a stretched PV Roof. The trailer is set up for some hauling anyhow, so tossing a generator onboard isn't out of the question either.. while you might have to start figuring out how to meet emissions standards.. maybe a Motorcycle or Little Honda Engine feeding a Gennie?

As for 'looking for a charge outlet', I would think that a 120 slow-charge option would be one of the first things I'd find for my EV. Then there are potential charging spots all over the place. You might have to do some dishes in exchange, or shovel someone's drive, but as above, options could be found.

So we have a few options here.

The problem as I see it with a battery trailer for extended range, is that to get a decent range extension, to add on, say, 200 miles, you need quite a lot of batteries. For the Leaf, at 6mi/kWh, you need a 36kWh pack - that is 1.5x what it has to start with, and using the cheapest Li batteries to day ($400/kWh) then you are looking at a $15,000 trailer, and it will weigh about 1000lbs. This, of course, will reduce the miles/kWh so you may not even get your 200miles out of it.

Then to charge the car +trailer, we have a combined 60kWh, which is almost two days on 120V, and will be at least overnight on a 240V charger, and 1 1/2hours on a high voltage charger, and also a 40kW draw.

So when you are on your road trip, you are still constrained - a heavy trailer (for Leaf sized car), you MUST find a fast charging station if you want to go more than 300 miles/day, and you need a 240V charger overnight to go the next day. In the scheme of that, a PV panel on top is a drop in the bucket.

The purpose of the generator is to give you freedom from electricity for the long trip.
Most trailer hitches can take a tongue weight of 150 lbs - it would be easy to make a small gasoline generator weigh less than that. A diesel is more efficient, but is heavier, and you more complicated emission control gear. The X prize winning car had a 600cc motorbike engine that could produce up to 40hp. They ran it on E85 as that was the easiest way to meet emissions rules. At their cruise speed it produced 7hp, giving 100mpg. On our electric, we might expect that same engine to give us a 40- 50mpg.

So you just take a small, twin cylinder, air cooled engine, with a small lightweight generator, and you can mount that on the hitch, plug into the car and still meet emissions rules.
And, you can drive as far as you want in a day, which was the whole purpose of the range extender.

You could do a generator trailer, of course, and people have, and I expect we will see them appear, but a suitcase size one on the hitch seems a more elegant way to go.

A generator trailer would cost 1/10th of a battery trailer, and gets you unlimited range - if you can rent it cheaper, and go farther, why not?

In any case, there is a business opportunity there for U-haul, etc....

If the mechanical hitch and the electrical interface were standardized, then the power unit could be optimized for different applications and technologies, and the customers would be able to rent units that match their need.
Capstone Drive Solution -- Range Extender

Absolutely it should all be standardised - but Capstone's product is not a good solution for anyone.

For an EV, a 30kW turbine is way overpowered - you can run a bus on the 30kW turbine, but you only need 10(max) for a car. The part load efficiency of a turbine is awful, and if you downsize it to 10kW, it loses efficiency from scale effects.

For a truck or bus, where weight is not such an issue, the turbine only gives you 25% efficiency - you can buy a diesel genset that will give you 35% and cost much less to buy. Look at the thousands of refridgerated semi-trailers out there - engine runs 24/7 at constant speed - ideal conditions for a turbine, but they all use small diesels. If the weight is not important, why pay more for the unit and then use more fuel?

There are small aircraft turbine generators units - still no more efficient than an engine, a bit lighter weight and much more expensive.

This simple engine generator gives 80% of the benefits for 20% of the cost - those are the sorts of solutions we will have to adopt. The sexy ones like turbines will remain on the fringe - we their cost simply exceeds their benefits.

I'd say a small trailer has value for added luggage too, as these small cars carry people better than cargo. But of course the other option is simply to rent a minivan or other cruiser, and leave the Leaf at home.

I think having a trailer gen would not be a bad investment, as it could provide emergency home power or job-site power as well. Include a nice-sized box for tools or luggage and you have a niche.

I think having a trailer gen would not be a bad investment, as it could provide emergency home power or job-site power as well. Include a nice-sized box for tools or luggage and you have a niche.

But, maybe a plugin hybrid pickup would satisfy those needs better. At least it is an integrated system, without the safety and security issues associated with a trailer. I wish they were available.

A pickup does satisfy those needs better, but we are talking about the occasional road trip here. For everyday driving, unless you a carrying stuff, a pickup is way more car than you need - and not nearly as efficient on a road trip - it is not as good at carrying passengers-efficiently.

That said, i think a pickup is great application for a plug in hybrid, or a series hybrid. The torque of the electric motor means you can really downsize the engine to a small diesel.

I did come across a company (can't find them now) that was doing hybrid add ons to full sized trucks. They used two motors driving toothed belts that connected onto the front end of the tailshaft (two motors to eliminate sideways stress, I presume). Looked a nice setup and gave them extra low end torque and regen braking. Their main customers were city parks depts, mining companies and the like, where these trucks are doing stop start all day.
A $12k retrofit, but big fuel and brake savings, and when vehicles are driving all day that adds up quickly

This whole electric car business i think is going to really really have a hard time taking off, especially up here in the midwest, the home of the SUV and pickup truck.

As long as they can afford filling up those SUVs, things won't change. EVs cannot compete well with gas cars at today's prices.

The question is what happens when gas starts costing $5/gallon? Or $10/gallon.

And good luck trying to sell that Suburban so you can pick up an EV . . . it's value will have plummeted.

I will happily buy one when the value has plummeted. Then I won't worry about the range of a CNG or EV car -- I'll just drive the SUV on vacation.

Assuming I'm still nicely employed, that is.

And good luck trying to sell that Suburban so you can pick up an EV . . . it's value will have plummeted.

Thats exactly the problem actually by the time gasoline prices are high enough to make EV's economical few can afford them.
And the cost won't just come out of falling values for your SUV's it will also come out of falling values fur suburban homes.

The irony is EV's are pitched as a solution that allows suburbia to survive peak oil yet the prices required to support EV's makes suburban living uneconomical. A person living in and Apt in a dense city with little parking will have fun trying to plug in that EV.

I'm not against EV's simply that they really don't solve anything. The number of people able to live a suburban EV existence is significantly less that the overall size of the suburbs. No matter how you slice and dice it you still have a substantial excess of suburban housing that has no intrinsic value because the demand just is not there. It does not matter if its because people are paying more and more for gasoline to fill the SUV they can't sell or if its a premium to buy and EV. You simply cannot solve the intrinsic oversupply problem with housing. Buying and EV to save on gasoline plus buying a suburban house thats falling fairly rapidly in value is a non starter.

Its not just the cost of the EV itself but also the value of the suburban house that requires the EV thats the problem. If you corrected the real cost to include falling home values your obviously wiped out EV or no EV. You would be losing say 10-20k every year simply to maintain your standard of living. Almost all the losses are actually on the housing side the transportation loss is a small part of the equation. Indeed the losses in home values probably dwarf the rising costs of gasoline by a fair margin. This is of course because a loan leverages income by 300% or so. Every dollar that cannot be spent on a mortgage payment say results in 3 dollars of lost home value. Or something like that I'm not sure how to calculate it but you get the point.

These losses are much larger than the fractional increase in gasoline prices. Heck the loss in value of the car alone would pay for gasoline for years even if the prices double or tripled.

The problem is gasoline is way way too cheap vs costs for housing and cars. Or more correctly cars and homes are way overpriced for a world of expensive gasoline.

Just to repeat my statement from my long post above everything is in a natural price bubble vs oil and food. Nothing can prevent the devaluation of other assets as prices for oil and food rise. EV's do nothing to solve this. Perhaps at some point they may make sense for some people but it won't stop the correction in valuations. As far as I can tell the number of people who can afford to live in something like a suburb and commute to work in and EV is vanishingly small. I'd not even call it suburbia more close in country estates for the wealthy or at least upper middle class. And almost certainly a much smaller one. On top of that only a fairly small fraction of the existing suburban households could weather the losses in asset values before things stabilized.

Obviously the ones that can't won't be able to purchase goods and services at their current consumption levels.
Its not a expensive gasoline problem but the fact that asset values today are way too high for and expensive energy world.
No matter what we do we will be significantly poorer than we where when energy was cheap. Its not magical simply a fact.

Thats exactly the problem actually by the time gasoline prices are high enough to make EV's economical few can afford them.

It far worse than that. They won't be manufactured in significant numbers until that happens. And
the manufacturing capacity won't be built or budgeted for, until that happens. Then it will be too late. Those few of us who anticipate the situation can purchase ahead of the crunch, but once it hits, it will be too late!

Yes indeed, if the auto companies are all going bankrupt because sales of their normal vehicles have tanked, how are they going to be able to develop and re-tool for electrics?

Even though Tesla has not a volume success (and was not meant to be) I can see a niche for new small companies as the dinosaurs die. Much of the engineering has already been done, the parts suppliers are still there, and new parts can now be made cheaply in small runs with CNC equipment, anywhere in the world.

With the internet you do not need the network of dealers, and the new companies do not have the legacy costs to carry.

Presently such companies are mainly making heritage cars, like Morgan and Intermeccanica, but they could switch gears or start a new venture if they thought the opportunity is there.

Simplicity will be they key - those who are looking to save money with an electric will be happy to have an "austere" model, it just needs to be electric

After all, if they are making a car as simple and low tech as this, making an electric version is no big deal;

And way more character than any Jeep!

Ah! The 25hp Kübelwagen, suitable for military use in the WWII, but somehow unable to cope with the modern world. If these could be put back on the road with today's high quality engineering and an efficient compact petrol/diesel engine why bother with electrifying them?

Besides, it is the way we live that's the problem, not the transport we use. Sooner or later we're going to have to rearrange our lives to cut out the need for travelling. I believe social changes will increasingly remove the need as moving around becomes increasingly troublesome and dangerous.

But they are being put back on the road, that is the point. They are built painstakingly to look like the original design, but use a modern frame design, composite body etc etc. Also, engines are 75, 100 or 140hp

This car is built (in Vancouver) to perform like a modern car, but if the design objective was to make it as simple and light as possible (while meeting whatever safety standards are required), you would have an interesting result, regardless of what powers it.

While modern cars get load up with ridiculous amounts of electronics etc, I can see where a new breed will have none of that - as long as the driver has their iphone/pod/pad, they have all the electronics they need - the car is just to get them from A to B. I can see quite an appeal to a younger generation who are increasingly rejecting the materialism of the older one. If they must have a vehicle, and it is hard on this continent to not have one, it will be an minimalist one - the less "mass produced" the better.

Thanks Paul, I wasn't aware there was someone manufacturing them. It is certainly interesting, one of my annoying habits is suggesting to everyone we'd be better off with very basic, but highly efficient vehicles (ie. a modern engineered 2cv perhaps).

Myself I have a Fiat Punto (50 miles/imp. gal) and a Land Rover Defender. The latter I use for hauling wood out of the forest, etc. which is far more efficient than the alternatives (ie. combination of tractor, lorry and mechanical handling). Other than the engine, the Land Rover hasn't changed much since the original design of the 1940's.

I think it is important to look at total cost of ownership, and the closer you get to using the maximum range of the electric vehicle, the better it will pencil out economically. If we compare a Nissan Leaf with a Nissan Versa each driven 18000 miles a year for ten years, comparing fuel costs, it is about a wash.

Versa: 18,000 miles @ 30mpg = 600 gallons * $3.00 = $1800. per year * 10 = $18,000 fuel costs.
Leaf: 18,000 miles @ 3.4 miles per kWh = 5280kWh * .10 = $528. per year * 10 = $5,280 fuel costs. or $12,720. in savings, which is about the cost differential after rebates and incentives.

Now boost the cost of gas to $4., and drive both cars for 20 years, which is how long I've owned the car I currently drive (I'm hoping it will hold up until I can get an electric). Now add in oil changes, timing belts, oxygen sensors, tune-ups, more frequent brake jobs et cetera and compare total cost of ownership again.

I think it likely that batteries will get both less expensive and lighter over time, and it wouldn't surprise me much if electric cars were at cost parity with ICE's in twenty years.

For my situation and location, a 2kW PV array would provide 100% of my domestic and transportation energy needs. A 4kW array would provide a full daily 22kWh Leaf recharge. Depending on connections and know how, this would run $12k to $24k., and last 30+ years. Cost per PV watt will surely continue to drop in price over time also.

I don't like cars much, but I am intrigued by the notion that the next car I buy will be electric, I will power it with PV solar, it will be the last car I will ever need to buy (I'm 46) and aside from the manufacturing process it will produce zero emissions for the entire time I own it. It will then be entirely recycled. Me on the other hand, will be merely composted.

But the Versa will provide all your automotive needs while the Leaf will not--you will need to rent another vehicle when you need to take longer trips...

For longer trips, I'd really like to be able to take a train.

Ever receding horizons.
"Improved" batteries have been 5 years off every year for at least the past five years.
Five years from now my guess is they will still be "5 years off".

Good point about cost.
More and more people are going to be priced out of "Happy Motoring Land" even if the cars do materialize.

As I pointed out above, Steve Jobs, a noted entrepeneur, has proposed that the receding horizon might stand still if the battery specialists would take the time to pop an LSD pill.

I think it's called revisioning at business school.

I'm very pleased to see your comment.

"But then again "get better by a factor of two" is pretty vague. Better in cost? Charge density? Power density? Recharge time? Battery management system improvement?"

In the bit if research I've done, at best, I only see charge times getting better.

I don't see any new tech on the horizon significantly improving the range of EVs. Tesla only did the obvious, which was make a vehicle as light as possible so they could pack a lot of the latest battery tech into it. They didn't do anything GM didn't do years earlier with their EV1. Problem is, using those lightweight materials necessary for maximizing the range of an EV (aluminum - carbon fiber) puts the cost out of the reach of the masses.

Range is limited by the number of cells or the cost of the battery per unit. The are keeping cost down by reducing the range.

since raw materials are not the limiting factor in Li+ batts, then manufacturing practices at scale could in principle reduce the price per unit.

We do not know until they start ramping up production.

Clearly a several manufacturing hurdles are in the way.

"The are keeping cost down by reducing the range"

Nissan and Toyota are putting as much battery as they practically can with regards to weight. Unlike EVs with better range, like Tesla, they're trying to make it affordable, which means, unlike Tesla, making the chassis out of steel.

The main thing that was making the EV1 cost prohibitive except for the wealthy, was the cost of the materials that went into its chassis. The price of aluminum and carbon fiber isn't going down, and that's going to be the wall that keeps us from having an EV with a range over 200 miles.

The EV1 chassis was constructed with injection molded plastic, plastic fiberglass composite, and aluminum. The Tesla chassis is constructed with carbon fiber and aluminum. The Tesla weighs in at about 2690 pounds and the Leaf at about 3500. Besides the Tesla being constructed of much more expensive but lighter materials than the Leaf, it also has a variance from some mandated crash worthiness features that the Leaf must include.

They could certainly put in more batteries without suffering significant weight issues. The Coda has 40% more battery in it. Someone builds a ranger rover with a huge 75KWH pack in it.

Weight is definitely a concern but the main issue with adding more battery capacity right now is cost, not weight.

Fancy materials are not the only thing that keeps the Tesla somewhat light . . . size matters. The Tesla is tiny. It is a really small 2-seater sports car that many people refuse buy simply because they they can't fit in it. Ask Ahnuld.

Note that good old lead-acid batteries worked fine for electric cars during the first twenty years of the twentieth century. People went slow (maybe 20 m.p.h.) and for not a great many miles before recharging. Women in particular liked electric cars, because they did not (most of them) have the upper body strength needed to crank a gasoline car engine.

The automatic starter did more to liberate women in the twentieth century than did all the books published by feminists put together. But when the crank was how you started a Model T (and all other early ICE cars), the electric car was the preferred way for well-to-do women to drive themselves. The rich, of course, had chauffers.

But hey the weight of a V6 engine is rather hefty itself. An electric motor is relatively lightweight.

Indeed the weight of the Batt is substantial, but if you look at the Volt specs you will see that the batt is not more than 10% of the car's weight:

Curb weight, 3790 lb
Batt pack, 391 lb (only 10%)

There is plenty of room to add range, but why add range to the Volt when almost no one drives more than 40 miles at a time?


Here is the Leaf:

Curb weight 3500 lbs
Battery pack, 700 lb (only 20%)

One could double the batt pack and have a pretty long distance machine. It is mainly batt cost that stands in the way.

Perhaps they will consider lighter weight materials, but they are not necessary.

Performance wise there are obvious limits but for an initial release, these are nice little electric/hybrid cars.

You're making points for me. You're demonstrating that those cars are relatively heavy. So heavy, that adding more battery has diminished returns. They do need to have some room for payload. I was having a debate with a fellow on another website, and he was trying to tell me that Tesla's business model was to fund it's proof of concept with its roadster. I had to explain to him that the performance was due to the fact that it was made very lightweight using materials that are already expensive in the raw, and that mass production wasn't going to bring the cost of those materials down.

Their next vehicle is projected to cost around 60K, and has less range than their roadster.

Eh? What is heavy?

Are you trying to say that 10-15% of the vehicle weight in battery pack is a major technical challenge.

I do not see your point at all. It has to be that way.

Batteries are indeed heavy.

A full tank in an SUV is 192 lbs of gasoline too?

Are you shocked by these figures at all?

I am not.

Also why do you care about range so much?

It is so uninteresting to me. It is just a difference from a hydrocarbon car, which for all intents and purposes is toast.

As discussed on this site for years, oil is a energy dense product that cannot be cheaply replaced. All substitutes that are economic will be less energy dense -- hence the limit of the electric car.

A range of 100 miles for off the shelf components is shocking to me. It is rather astonishing considering how little has gone into these cars so far.

So you may have a quibble but why does it matter?

Lots of whooshing going on over your head.

"It is rather astonishing considering how little has gone into these cars so far"

There was never a lull in R&D into the components that make up an EV. DC motors and batteries have been common components for all sorts of uses for over a century. Regenerative braking was invented in the 60s. The vehicle with the best drag coefficient was made over 10 years ago. The main components that make up today's EVs isn't new tech.

Compared to ICE development, EV's have hardly been under tight scrutiny all these years. You're handwaving.

They are really just now working out the initial balances in EVs, how to scale the vehicle and match components. Motors and Control Circuits aren't new concepts, but to put them into a well-blended system is what is New, and what will make Toyota and Fisker and Musk all be trying different mixes... they're on all sorts of new ground, looking at vehicles which have to scrap the assumptions that have driven Auto mfg for decades.

Wait a minute. I said off the shelf parts, which is exactly what you said ;-)

"Off the shelf"
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_off-the-shelf

Electric power is older than dirt, and so is the ICE. Edison knew that electric cars were the future. Oil had its day in the sun for some number of decades (I know I am projecting into the future).

The newish things in the current electric cars relate to the possible use of ultra-capacitors to get regen braking efficiencies up and minimize wear on the battery pack.

I totally agree with you.

Unless you are actively building and selling lots of a particular product, the amount of R&D going on is pretty small. Certainly a lot of this technology already existed. But much of it is new . . . albeit borrowed from other industries. The Cell phone connection to EVs is new & important. You can program when it should charge, when it should pre-warm or pre-cool your car, it can remind you to plug-in if you forgot.

And the batteries have improved significantly. The lead-acid EV-1 was DOA. NiMH made it somewhat acceptable but it was still too heavy & too short range. Li-Ions have finally made EVs do-able. But even a recent EV like the Tesla is a crappy from a battery perspective since there were no automotive Li-Ions at the time so they filled the Roadster with 6000 laptop batteries. That definitely works but not well.

So the technology has improved. It needs to keep improving but if it wasn't for new technology, there would be no Leaf or Volt.

Automotive scale Li+ batt is a new development as well.

Poor electric car is a political football instead of an engineering marvel. Hard to understand the angst against it. It is an alternative -- a solution to a major problem.

The computer was invented long ago, but it is improved and optimized and reengineered all the time.

holiday shoppers face the agony of $3-a-gallon gas this holiday season

That's a bit of a stretch for one watching from Canada, where gasoline is presently priced at $1.12 / litre = >$4.00 / gal. How much longer does that meme ($3-a-gallon = expensive) get perpetuated? (And don't bother replying about "Well ok but we're not used to it" as in past, that's way tired.)

Refined petroleum imported half way round the world is selling cheaper than bottled water, people. Get a gtip.

The US consumer is a bit of a whiner as portrayed in the news media. Are we all whiners? Maybe about different things. Wonder if this hypothetical construct of the American consumer in the media is truly the average American or a blown out of proportion projection of the media?

The bottled water idiocy is old, too. Can't justify an artificially low price for something valuable with an example of an absurdly high price for something of minimal worth.

Both are examples of herd-think and marketing at work!

I think that Chu is overoptimistic because he is reasoning from the wrong direction. He desperately needs batteries to get better by a factor of two to become competitive with gasoline cars, and he needs it to happen within five years because that is the time window he has before the supply situation gets critical. He needs it to happen, because if it doesn't, he has a catastrophe on his hands.

Looking at it from the other direction, my problem is that I don't see the improvements coming out of the research labs yet, and if it is going to happen within five years, we should see prototypes hitting the road now, if not five years ago. I look around and I don't see any working prototypes driving by.

So, rather than batteries getting better by a factor of two, I'm expecting to see something more resembling an unmitigated economic disaster, in which many people can no longer afford to drive and lose their jobs and homes as a result. One somewhat worse than the current one, in fact.

Heck the government could spend $500 billion on batteries if needed. It would be better than the treasury giving money to The Goldman Sachs squid-monster.

I think that Chu is overoptimistic because he is reasoning from the wrong direction.

I need it really bad, therefore it will come to pass.
Realistically, I have the impression that we are spending quite a bit more to advance batteries than had been the case. I would expect progress to speed up from its previous glacial pace. I don't think we will see a factor of two, but hopefully we will see at least 10% per year improvement. Does that sound unrealizable? (Is wishing for half-a-pony delusional?)

There are other longer range maybe things, especially the air-X batteries (where X is usually Zinc, or Lithium, or Sodium). These have theoretically have much better energy density, because one of the chemical reactants is Oyxgen from the air.

RMG, I think you are spot on with your read of the situation, but just like with cellulosic ethanol, because they need it to happen, does not mean it will.

Of course, they could always reduce the average weight of cars by a factor of two, and use the batteries that exist today - but for America to do so would be seen as an admission that "europe was right all along" and that can;t be allowed to happen.

So, things will stay as they are, until they can;t stay that way anymore - it is only a matter of time.

Paul, if you want to know how it will end for America, think "Elvis Presley", "James Dean" or "Marilyn Monroe." When we were young and pretty, the world was our oyster. Now that we are facing middle age, we just want to it to be over.

So I think you're saying what I'm thinking, which is that Chu can ask for batteries to get half as expensive, but gas getting TWICE as expensive might do the trick instead..

..in fact it could do extra, since it would make EV's reach parity, but fewer in general would be able to choose to get cars anymore, so the road fleets would also be reduced overall.

Well, gas doubling would help, but looking at Europe, where gas is double, they aren't exactly miles ahead on EV's there.
But their vehicles are already much smaller, and people are used to driving them , so to electrify smaller vehicles will be easier than trying to achieve what people dream of here - an electric SUV.

The real problem is, that improving the batteries is the only variable that improves the situation, and is the least likely to happen. All other variables (higher fuel prices, smaller cars, shorter range, slower speed etc) are seen as a step backwards,so Chu can't run with those. He has to say something that gives hope - even when there is none.

It is surprising how picky the public is about range and size and so forth. My grandparents only had one car and it was not a big one.

We are spoiled, and we do not understand that the past will be the future.

I don't really think that improved batteries is the only thing that would help. The best improvement would/will be our adjusting our expectations. That's why I picked rising gas as the requisite signal. The 'Double' part was not a prediction, just pairing it up with the battery statement, which was just a convenient figure on his part.

Sure, Chu can't say this out loud.. neither will I expect him to. But I do think it (fuel cost) makes the case for \ EV's stronger and stronger as their flexibility and durability will trump.. this case isn't made by anything getting cheaper.. just the overall proportions to ICE getting adjusted.

The Europe/EV conundrum ("if gas is so expensive in Europe then why haven't they adopted the EV?") has interested me and I've put some thought into it. Here are my guesses as to why EVs have not taken off in Europe:
1) They have a much better public transport network and many people use it. Cars are more for weekend trips than for commuting to work.
2) They don't liven in single family homes as much as people do in the USA. To really use an EV, you need a garage with a charger. If you park on the street, EVs just don't work well since you don't have a place to charge.
3) Electricity is also every expensive in Europe. So you reduce expensive gas usage to just use expensive electricity.
4) The technology just has not been good enough until now.

Well . . . those are some guesses.

Good guesses, especially number one.

Number two isn't quite as convincing to me, 'cause a couple decades ago it was common around here (MN) to see extension cords strung across from houses to street-side trees. These were plugged into cars to warm the engine blocks for faster starts on our coldest winter mornings.

I don't see why the same cords couldn't be used to plug in EVs sitting on the street. I suppose someone might pilfer some of your watts, but I don't remember any stories about that from those earlier days.

I'd agree, they are good guesses, except perhaps the weekend trip part.

While it is true that someone in London that take the Tube to work will likely drive on the w/e, there are plenty of people in smaller towns that do the reverse - they sue their vehicles during the week to go about their business, and then do a train trip to the city on the w/e, because they don;t like driving long trips!

If you look at their driving patterns, a 100mile electric car would be more than enough. The problem? These people can;t afford a $40k electric car! They are driving 10yo small diesels, and the electric will simply never compete, until there are 10yo old ones to buy.

So, even if the EV's were available, they are not an economic option for many.
But for those who can afford them, the long term will probably be about break even.

Electric cars flooding the market in 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you want to buy an electric car today, good luck, it's slim pickins. But fast forward three years and you could be facing more plug-in choices than you'll know what to do with.
That could be a problem for carmakers because most Americans still have little or no interest in buying electric cars.

LOL -- these analysts just know the future. I think after the next oil uppercut/knockout blow few Americans will be saying "yeah so what but,but,but oil will be $15 a bbl again in couple of years." I doubt few will think that Gasoline will be $1.25 again.

Well it is up to them whether or not they buy an electric-type car. I guess you can always walk or ride your bike or hitchhike or pay $150 to fill that SUV.

Here is to hoping.

Of course, CNN forgot to read the WSJ. Tsk Tsk

"On pace to exceed 300,000 sales in 2010, the hybrid-electric Toyota Prius is set to become the best-selling car model in Japanese history, surpassing the Toyota Corolla, sales figures show. The sales record comes even as overall car sales in Japan have slumped 36 percent from their 1990 high. Government incentives to spur purchases of high fuel-efficiency models have helped boost sales. [Wall Street Journal]"

The Prius is not an electric car. It is a hybrid-electric that has no ability to charge up with grid current.

The big issue is whether people will buy pure electrics or plug-in hybrids. At today's prices, pure EVs & plug-ins are a niche market. How fast they grow depends on if they can get the price down and the price of oil. I suspect that latter is the biggest factor of all.

I know that. But my point was that the appetite for something other than pure ICE is not to be underestimated as exemplified with the only available market data out there.

I trust real data and not analysts with forecasts and guestimates.

The next prius in 2012 is a hybrid with plug-in feature as well. So that brand alone is worth several hundred thousand plug in hybrids.

The Prius is not an electric car.

But, Toyota has announced a plugin version for sale in 2012. IIRC correctly they claimed an unsubsidized price of $40K. Too much for me to spring for. Also you
can get aftermarket conversion plugin kits. So its not real far from being one.

It is surprising to me that Toyota is first to the Prius and pretty darn slow to the plug-in.

eerie to me in fact

what gives? Are they becoming entangled and entrenched with conservative decision making? Are they not watching the daily price of oil for the last 5 years?

Interested to know their decision making process.

I think Toyota and the public are all waiting for the shoe to drop.. not enough commitment to invest in additional functionality/toys.. not while gas is still so 'reasonable'..

Somebody blink.. No, wait, not yet! Just another couple minutes, I'm getting up, I'm getting up.

Interesting, but it's a little bit pathetic, what's happening to Japan. I mean, if this is adjustment, call me uninspired.

Toyota used to make the Supra, for crying out loud.

Imagine, Japanese herbivore men driving their Priuses (or is it Prii?) around Tokyo to their salon appointments, all the while refusing to breed.

Mad Max (what will happen in America) sounds alot more fun.

Don't worry ethanol credits are in the tax bill.

We are riding the debt train off the peak oil cliff at maximum speed now.


We are riding the debt train off the peak oil cliff at maximum speed now.

U.S. debt and the rapidly greying president

Current statistics indicate the so-called "new austerity" that was supposed to have gripped a newly sobered nation two years ago during the credit crisis has evaporated, if it ever existed at all.

Americans are enthusiastically spending again, even if they don't have any money.

They're apparently sick of waiting for things to get better, and the notion of reducing one's debts and saving for purchases is just not the American way.

"People are going through frugality fatigue," financial analyst Marshal Cohen explained recently in Newsweek.

How can you get fatigued by something that hasn't been tried yet in any serious way?

"reducing one's debts and saving for purchases is just not the American way."

So glad that my folks taught me that doing precisely this is, indeed, the American (and only sensible) way...

I've never understood why someone would want to pay 2-3x the value of something by purchasing it 'on time'.

How can you get fatigued by something that hasn't been tried yet in any serious way?

I think for a lot of consumers it has been tried, i.e. consumers on average are reducing thier debt levels. Government is increases its. And the two get conflated all the time. The reason we are in
recession, is that spending (government plus private) is not enough to keep enough people employed. Of course balancing government debt by austerity is a receding horizons problem, the more they cut back (or the more they try to raise revenues), the lower the economy gets, so little to no net progress can be made (but at great cost to millions of unemployed). So it looks like the only thing to do is to muddle through by printing enough fiat money to keep enough people employed that we avoid violent revolution.

Looks like austerity British style is keeping London police busy as parliament votes on a rise in university fees.

Protests surround Westminster as MPs debate fee rises

The package of measures would see fees rising to an upper limit of £9,000 per year - with requirements for universities to protect access for poorer students if they charge more than £6,000 per year.

Brings back not-so-fond memories of the slash and burn austerity 1990s in Canada when Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Finance Minister Paul Martin put "everything on the table". Few people liked it, some peacefully protested, but at the end of the day everybody grinned and bore it. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened (and this from someone who was laid off from not one but from two rounds of cuts in the early nineties, first from a defense (federal) contract position and later from a sizable (10%) provincial budget cut. Needless to say, I haven't worked in the public/civil service since). But it did lower expectations and it got the public keenly aware that there is no such thing as a "free lunch", even government style. Eventually it dawns on folks, yes even voters, that someone has to pay the piper.

The good news for those who are going through austerity now is that, if the political will is there, the deficits do disappear, the debts do come down, and taxes do fall as expenditures are reduced. Hang in there. Living within one's means pays off in the end. As true for public finances as it is for any household.

Our problem now is that the present Conservative government in Ottawa continues to apply stimulus spending at the same time as exponential growth in health care costs are putting a serious strain on provincial coffers. Most Canadians are aware that the 1990s austerity days are not be entirely behind them... probably only a few years ahead of us again.

Btw, for the Brits out there. What does the £9,000 ($14,000 CAD) per year university fee include? Is it tuition? Does it include lodging and meals? If it's for tuition alone, it is high even by Canadian rates. But if it includes lodging and meals, my goodness, it is dirt cheap. If it's the latter, I would suggest to U.K. students that they stay quiet and accept it graciously. If that's the maximum, you're not likely to get any better deal anywhere anytime soon.

It is just tuition fees only . . . but it is emphasised that it is up to £9,000 so the government are hoping that not all universities will push on to charge the full amount . . . but the anticipation is that all the best ones will! But as the prime minister states "we're all in this together" . . . but it appears that the students are in it more than most!

It is just tuition fees only . . .

Yes that is a bit steep, but as you say, those fees should represent the top end of the spectrum (hopefully).

No wonder the students are rioting tonight. Even the Prince of Wales has not been spared their wrath.

They will all charge it.

Those that are in the Russell group will because they feel they need all the money they can get. The rest will charge it because they don't want to call attention to themselves not being of the same standard as the Russell group.

As such it will put back true university education in the UK for a decade. It's extremely stupid and backward looking. The worst part is that its the arts courses that are most likely to be cheap (little facilities needed), whereas the science and engineering will be right at the top cost.

The liberals have destroyed their chances of getting votes, basically for ever. Which puts us back in the old two party politics of failure.

It's the beginning of the backlash against the predominant system which is failing all but the very wealthy. It shows that people are not going to take austerity and what Cameron can do with his "we're all in this together" rhetoric. The riots, the attack on The Prince of Wales, Wikileaks, the hacker takedown of financial sites, the campaign against JP Morgan for manipulating the silver market. All show an ever increasing level of activity against the System and I'm sure there are millions on the sidelines just waiting the opportunity to join in.

What they don't have is a universal mechanism by which the majority can join in the trashing of the System. I don't think it will be too long before that particular problem will be corrected. To survive people are going to have to take away from the System, not give to it, so no doubt increasingly ingenious ways are going to be found to leach away its lifeblood. Governments are already losing their legitimacy to rule as their authority is leached away for example.

It shows that people are not going to take austerity

I disagree, I think people will accept austerity, what they won't accept is austerity for the majority while a few still live in the lap of luxury at their expense. That get's their goats and pushes them over the edge into lashing out.

I found this article interesting: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/09/hackers.wikileaks/index.html?hpt=T2

WikiLeaks 'Anonymous' hackers: 'We will fight'

Nazario has been monitoring Anonymous for a corporate client but would not say which one. He said about 1,500 people with computers based in the United States have been consistently chatting on the Anonymous site this week.

Many of those people have downloaded a tool that Anonymous created so that their computers can be linked, Nazario said. The tool is designed to repeatedly request data from servers, in turn overwhelming the servers and temporarily disabling sites.

So how many computers does it take to bring down a major corporation's Web site?

No more than 120, according to an analysis of Anonymous that Nazario performed this week. "It doesn't take a massive number of machines at all," he said.

"What's unusual about this is that people are volunteering their PCs," Nazario said. "You just don't see that often."

My guess is you will be seeing it a lot more often from here on. I think a lot of people are really mad and they're just not going to take it anymore.

It is just tuition fees only . . . but it is emphasised that it is up to £9,000

Thats about what I have to pay for my son's tuition at Berkeley, which by most accounts is the best public university in the (English speeking) world. So in one swoop, they go from reasonably affordable, to only afordable for the top 5-10% of the income distribution. Sounds like a pretty radical change to me.

When I first attended UC, Berkeley in 1956, there was no tuition charge at all; there was, however, an "Incidental Fee" of $42.50 per semester to cover the cost of things like chalk or lab supplies. When I left Berkeley, in 1970 (after eleven years of fulltime grad school) the Incidental Fee had risen, but it was still quite reasonable, and student loans had not yet been invented. Scholarships and fellowships were readily available for good students to cover costs such as food and rent and bicycles. By the way, the Incidental Fee covered very good medical services at Cowell Hospital.

Those were the good old days.

"Operation Payback" Crashes VISA Website In Under One Minute As It Seeks Revenge From Second Credit Card Processor

After taking out MasterCard.com earlier, the hacker organization Anonymous Operation, via its WikiLeaks supporting Operation Payback has just launched its attack on visa.com. And, lo and behold, Visa.com is now down.

Seems an asymmetric cyber war is breaking out with insurgents confronting the dominant system. Another war that cannot be won. Can one man, empowered by the internet, bring down the entire system? Black Swan events are unforeseen. One has to wonder where the knock punch that finally brings the system to its knees is going to come from.

Global bond rout deepens on US fiscal worries

The yield on 10-year Treasuries – the benchmark price of money worldwide and the key driver of US mortgages rates – has rocketed to 3.3pc, up 35 basis points since President Barack Obama agreed on Monday to compromise with Senate Republicans on tax cuts.

The Treasury sell-off has ricocheted through the global system, triggering bond sell-offs in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Japan's finance ministry braced as borrowing costs on seven-year debt jumped by a sixth in one trading session, while German Bunds punched through 3pc.

The beginning of the end?

The rise in yields risks becoming a textbook case of a central bank losing control over long-term rates. The danger is that market fears of future bond losses – whether from inflation or higher default premiums – will neutralise the stimulus, or lead to stagflation.

It's probably not going to end well, but Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is financial doomer. The end of the world is always nigh for him.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard may be right in the long run, but timing is everything.

The meetings from the last Fed meeting said they were considering an outright interest rate target.

The US actually managed to peg interest rates during World War II, and shortly afterward. Short term rates at that time were also extremely low, like they are now. The Fed can get away with quite a lot for a while, and may succeed at keeping rates about where they are - or at least not rising very fast.

Based upon the Fed's intentions, it may be a bit premature to say the bond is going to collapse. Please note I think it will more or less collapse in the future, but not very soon.

"The Fed can get away with quite a lot for a while, and may succeed at keeping rates about where they are - or at least not rising very fast."

True, that's what has been happening for over a decade now since the 90's. I questioned whether this is the beginning of the end, because the bond market is indicating the situation is in fact coming to an end. Rising interest rates are a death knell for the anaemic economy and insipid recovery.

Obviously the Fed is going to buckle or become the only buyer of debt in the market. Either way the outcome is dire.

As far a putting something "out of its misery"....

I've heard it said that euthanasia is purely for the convenience of the living....

Still, it seems to me that the US economy is going thru a period of misery.


Debt at 13.9 trillion plus, with 2 trillion more to be added via the tax cut bonanza about to become policy. The 2% payroll tax cut in the bill is slated to come from social security. So we pay ourselves money from our retirement account?

All this borrowing at the Fed and State level is a huge bet the future will bring greater prosperity to pay down the money being borrowed. That's a huge gamble considering the plateau of oil production will only last so long before its descent will raise prices much higher than the current circa 90 a barrel. It would only work if there was a future of cheap oil ahead. But maybe all the hybrids and EV's will bridge the gap? Sounds like a reach at best and only for passenger transport, not trucks, cargo trains, ships, tractors, tires, lipstick, paint, lanoleum, etc.

This huge borrowing scheme seems like patching up a beaten boxer, about to go down.

New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming

The NASA and NOAA boffins used their more accurate science to model a world where CO2 levels have doubled to 780 parts per million (ppm) compared to today's 390-odd. They say that world would actually warm up by just 1.64°C overall, and the vegetation-cooling effect would be stronger over land to boot – thus temperatures on land would would be a further 0.3°C cooler compared to the present sims.

International diplomatic efforts under UN auspices are currently devoted to keeping global warming limited to 2°C or less, which under current climate models calls for holding CO2 to 450 ppm – or less in many analyses – a target widely regarded as unachievable. Doubled carbon levels are normally viewed in the current state of enviro play as a scenario that would lead to catastrophe; that is, to warming well beyond 2°C.

It now appears, however, that the previous/current state of climate science may simply have been wrong and that there's really no need to get in an immediate flap. If Bounoua and her colleagues are right, and CO2 levels keep on rising the way they have been lately (about 2 ppm each year), we can go a couple of centuries without any dangerous warming. There are lots of other factors in play, of course, but nonetheless the new analysis is very reassuring.

Well, this would be good news if it holds up. But.

While I'm not connected in any way with the climate modelling community, I'd be very surprised if previous work on modelling the effect on/of vegetation was this badly out. And this result is not consistent with paleoclimate evidence, either.

Let's not fold our tents and go home just yet.

Here's the AFP version. And here's the Science Daily press release.

IME, the Register is not a terribly reliable source.

From the Science Daily link

New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming as opposed to 1.94°C

'Important to get these things right', says scientist

Bounoua stressed that while the model's results showed a negative feedback, it is not a strong enough response to alter the global warming trend that is expected. In fact, the present work is an example of how, over time, scientists will create more sophisticated models that will chip away at the uncertainty range of climate change and allow more accurate projections of future climate.

"This feedback slows but does not alleviate the projected warming," Bounoua said.

That settles it then climate change is a hoax!

Here's a typical comment from a denialist site:

Old School Conservative says:
December 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM

“Finally an admission of the truth: They really do not know what they know nor what they need to know.”

Oh my, Don, what words of wisdom you dispense. I and some people a heck of a lot more knowledgable than I in the science of climatology have been screaming for years that the computer models cannot account for the hundreds of thousands of variables in the system they attempt to analyze. There has never been enough certainty upon which to base a complete restructuring of the world economy, and there still isn’t.

That said, I’ll believe NASA has come to sanity when they fire Hanson’s useless butt.

Do these geniuses get the irony of screaming about the potential inaccuracy of past computer models based on results from another computer model?

Leanan, I so want to call this person what I really think he is...

Fred, cheer up! We are clearly moving closer to formulating a plan for warming the planet that everyone can love.

Right! However if doubling CO2 means we will only get 1.64°C warming as opposed to 1.94°C and that slows the process we need to find a way to maybe triple CO2 so it will speed up. I'm in Florida and temps have been in the 30s overnight for the last couple of days...

Thanks for cheering me up!

From a comment on Jeff Masters' Wonder Blog:

Lowest temperature in Florida cities in December 1962 cold wave.

Daytona Beach, 21
Fort Myers, 26
Gainesville, 13
Jacksonville, 12
Key West 46
Miami 35
Orlando, 20
Pensacola, 11
Tallahassee, 10
Tampa 18*
Vero Beach 25
West Palm Beach 30

All lows on December 13, 1962.

Tampa's 18 degree reading is lowest on record there.

I was living in Atlanta back then. I recall walking to an early morning final exam in that cold...

E. Swanson

I read the paper and I think the authors are not being honest. There is no discussion of wildfires and drought stress whatsoever. As if these process are totally negligible. There is an implicit "ceteris paribus" assumption in their modeling: that current forests remain intact and only the LAI behaviour changes. This is total rubbish. Industrial logging is proceeding in Russia and Canada at breakneck pace. Rainforests around the globe are under attack and will not last the next 100 years. The Brazilian rainforest is likely to collapse if there is a three year drought, which is becoming more and more likely due to AGW. These low latitude forests may not be a big deal for high latitude albedo, but they are important for the carbon cycle and evapotranspiration.

Given the geological record their results are not consistent. Over a vast range of CO2 and biosphere states over the past 420 million years the sensitivity has been between 1.5 and 6.3 degrees per CO2 doubling (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7135/full/nature05699.html). The best estimate is 2.8 C. A figure which includes all the cloud and vegetation albedo feedbacks. The deniers have already latched on to this second-rate paper as undermining climate change research.

but nonetheless the new analysis is very reassuring.

Well, thats about half the sensitivity of about a dozen other lines of evidence, which all cluster around 3C. Extraordinary results require extraordinary evidence, and this outlier qualifies as one. Especially given the timing, this might be politically motivated misinformation. In any case, the baseline is the preindustrial level of 280ppm (not the current level of circa 390), we are already seeing substantial climate change with the current warming. And because of time lags in the system, and aerosol cooling effects, we haven't seen the full impact of 390ppm yet.

What are these guys dreaming up?

If Bounoua and her colleagues are right, and CO2 levels keep on rising the way they have been lately (about 2 ppm each year), we can go a couple of centuries without any dangerous warming.

The climate change that have happened already is at a dangerous level. Asuming the climate stops chaning today, we would still see at minimum 80 cm sea level rise by 2100, we would still see glacial melting in the Himalayas and Andees dry out rivers and cause famin (in Peru, it is already happening), we would still see droughts around the world. The climate change has already reached dangerous levels. The 2 degree target is just something they got out of a hat as a value for the maximum destruction we could bear. These guys needs to get their heads out of the bucket.

WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

US embassy cables reveal top executive's claims that company 'knows everything' about key decisions in government ministries

The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

Funny how there is so much chatter in the media about corrupt third world regimes and how western companies are transparent and well governed. Well, here you have an example of a well governed western corporation transparently promoting corruption in a third world country.

When will these sacred cows be put in their place. Exxon funds climate change deniers, BP scums up the Gulf through negligence, Shell is some sort of gangster racket, etc. And these dinosaurs that hold back progress to a post fossil fuel economy are openly backed by our governments.

That is the funny notion about corruption. People act like it is insulated when it is more like a disease that infects the entire system. Governments, businesses and criminal organization.

Look at the Mafia as an example.

same story in Nigeria of course


WikiLeaks cables: Oil giants squeeze Chávez as Venezuela struggles
American diplomats say president is now desperate to attract foreign partners after nationalisation frightened many away

Venezuela's tottering economy is forcing Hugo Chávez to make deals with foreign corporations to save his socialist revolution from going broke.

The Venezuelan president has courted European, American and Asian companies in behind-the-scenes negotiations that highlight a severe financial crunch in his government.

Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, is the engine of the economy but buckled when given an ultimatum by its Italian counterpart and has scrambled to attract foreign partners, according to confidential US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The memos depict an unfolding economic fiasco and suggest some of Chávez's key allies – Argentina, Brazil and Cuba – are gravely concerned at Venezuela's direction. "President Chávez, for his part, is acutely aware of the impact the country's general economic trajectory has had on his popularity," says one cable.

Same story there as well.

dissident, you clearly have trouble telling the good guys from the bad guys, so I'm going to give you some pointers:

Good guys are clean shaven, sport expensive hair cuts (if they have hair), wear three-piece suits, carry golf clubs in the SUVs and have a picture of Ronald Reagan on the wall above their desks.

Bad guys have beards, cover their hair with a turban or cap, wear robes or green military fatigues, carry an AK-47 in their SUVs and have a picture of Che or Osama on the wall above their desks.

Hope this helps.

Hmmm... they both seem like bad guys.

December 6, 2010 -- Slow ice growth leads to low November ice extent

Conditions in context

As temperatures drop in autumn, open water areas on the Arctic coastal seas quickly refreeze. After this rapid increase in ice extent during October, ice growth slows in November. This November, ice extent over the entire Arctic grew at an average rate of 74,000 square kilometers per day (28,600 miles per day), which is slower than average. However, local weather conditions kept ice extent very low in some locations, contributing to the low extent for the month.

Near-surface air temperatures over the Siberian and Alaskan side of the Arctic were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal in November. Air temperatures over Baffin Bay were also unusually warm (8 degrees Celsius, or 14 degrees Fahrenheit above average). The warm air came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere; and a circulation pattern brought warm air into the Arctic from the south.

This latest Arctic Sea-Ice News report ends with a reference:

Stroeve, J.C., J. Maslanik, M. C. Serreze, I. Rigor, W. Meier, and C. Fowler. 2010. Sea ice response to an extreme negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation during winter 2009/2010. Geophysical Research Letters. In Press.

There is a pre-print available thru the digital library on the AGU's web page. The authors discuss evolution of the sea-ice cycle during the Winter of 2009-10, focusing on the Arctic Oscillation (AO), comparing last winter with previous winters. The authors point out that the motion patterns of the sea-ice during the season exhibited considerable difference from earlier years with similar AO conditions...

E. Swanson

First drought, now floods. Australian wheat crop damaged:


Yes, a good example of why a country should not base its biofuel program on just one crop - it is vulnerable to weather and disease events.
Thankfully, that would never happen here...

a good example of why a country should not base its biofuel program on just one crop

I'd rather the biofuel program be at the mercey of the weather than the food supply. Its would
be a lot easier to live with only a half ration of fuel for a year, than a half ration of food!

Black Dog,
Been searching for that paper for the last hour - no joy. Following your directions it's blocked for AGU members only, and no pre-print on any of the author's publication pages. The abstract is very detailed though: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010AGUFM.C43E0601S
Last winter was however a clear AO pattern, not an AD pattern over the Arctic.

"Hemp, a THC-free cousin of the marijuana plant, has been used as a raw material to make fabric, rope, paper, and even sports cars. Now, researchers at University of Connecticut have found that industrial hemp has properties that make it viable and even attractive for producing biodiesel as well.

In laboratory tests, hemp biodiesel has shown a high efficiency of conversion (97 percent) and has properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market (Gizmag). At cold temperatures, molecules of some biofuels can aggregate and form crystals, plugging up vehicle fuel filters and limiting their commercial use.

According to Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical, materials, and biomolecular engineering at UConn, one of the most exciting things about hemp is that it grows “like a weed”, even in infertile soils. This would allow industrial hemp to be grown for biofuel production without taking up primary crop lands.

“If someone is already growing hemp they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce. The fact that a hemp industry already exists means that a hemp biodiesel industry would need little additional investment,” Parnas told Gizmag.

The problem? Currently, growing hemp (even though it contains less than 1 percent of the psychoactive elements that would make it desirable as a drug) is illegal in the United States. "

This black nanotechnology can change the solar industry a lot. This means much more sunlight can be absorbed. Solar power with this 'blacker than black' nanotechnology could solve the earths electricity problems to a degree, it is a shame all the money is going to these bankers and corrupt politicians and theives, who then lose the money in a black hole.

Ron P, to answer your first question, the mainstream media have 'experts' which is why I put that in the film that there are many 'experts' claiming the middle class is the problem. people are buying up this lie like you would not believe, then go back to support the corrupt system. Maybe I should have been more clear.


My Philips representative has kindly provided me with one of their new 16-watt EnduraLED PAR38 screw-in replacements. I've installed it in one of the recessed fixtures in my den and I'll be monitoring its performance over the coming weeks. This lamp supplies 920 lumens (initial), is fully dimmable and has a rated service life of 40,000 hours. This particular version has a colour temperature of 4,200K and a CRI of 67.

First, the high notes: at 920 lumens, it provides a reasonable amount of light for its sixteen watts, although its efficacy is pretty much on par with that of a good quality CFL. It comes on instantly and at full brightness, so there's no ramp up period, and you can switch it on and off as frequently as you like without compromising lamp life. The light has good PSK (punch, sparkle and kick), unlike CFLs which tend to make everything appear flat and lifeless.

The so so: it has a rather substantial heat sink which should hopefully help it maintain its cool, but from an aesthetics point of view I wouldn't install this lamp in an open back head (e.g., gimbal) for this reason -- a recessed fixture, no problem. There is a semi-transparent lens/diffuser but you can easily make out the individual members of the cluster. Not a huge issue, but it does detract from the overall look, at least to my eye. 4,200K is probably a little too cool for residential use, with the possible exception of a kitchen or laundry room, but it's also available in 3,000K so you can go with the warmer version if that better suits your fancy.

The not so good: a CRI of 67 is rather disappointing to say the least -- not appreciably better than your standard, 1970's vintage cool-white fluorescent and considerably less than that of most CFLs. I believe the 3,000K version has a CRI of 85 (higher numbers are better), but the trade-off is that it supplies about one-third less light, i.e., 650 lumens versus 920. This lamp is really rich in the blues and the colour distortion is unmistakable, e.g., my oxblood leather chair has turned mauve/purple.

Overall, I like it. Would I pay the $60.00 to $70.00 that it will cost to buy one? Doubtful. That said, I'd like to try the 3,000K version to see how it compares in terms of its colour rendering before I make that final call.

My advice? Hold off making the plunge for now. If you're fussy about light quality, stick with halogen-IR -- you'll be glad you did. Conversely, if you're seeking maximum value for every dollar spent, go with a CFL. However, if you're big on oh-and-ah and have some extra coin in your pocket, an LED offering such as this could very well be your ticket.

For more information on this product, see: http://www.ecat.lighting.philips.com/l/enduraled-par38-indoor-flood/lp_c...


I suppose this bulb is somewhat disappointing, but on the whole it is still progress. A few years ago you couldn't get anything even close to this at any price.

We have one or two recessed fixtures in the hallway - it is a constant annoyance that the CFLs that we have in there don't throw much light when you first turn them on. It is kind of common that we turn them on as we are getting ready to go up or down the stairs, so they never really get a chance to warm up. If they could fix the CRI without compromising so much in light output, I would be tempted to buy one or two.

Good progress, indeed, and there could be better alternatives out there. For example, GE has a similar product that supplies 820 lumens at 17-watts with a CRI of 87. However, it's rated service life is 25,000 hours, so there is that trade-off. (See: http://www.gelighting.com/na/business_lighting/education_resources/liter...) Right now, Osram Sylvania's seems to be leading the pack -- 900 lumens for 18-watts, 50,000 hour service life, 3,000K CCT and a CRI of 87 (See: http://assets.sylvania.com/assets/Documents/RETRO028R2.a0009d19-78be-4c2...)


Are they all using the same standard to rate service life? Or any standard at all ...?

I can't say for sure, but for the reputable players, L70 would apply.

For additional background on this, see: http://www.iesna.org/PDF/Education/PNNL%20LEDucation%20vf.pdf?pageName=5...


Note that LEDs should fail slowly, with reduced output, so a particular bulb may have a useful life longer than its rated life if that is the limit mode that dominates.

Note also that CFLs will rarely live as long as their rated hour life, as cycle life is often the dominant limit.

Personally, I would like to see a complete revision of the lighting appliance, away from modular base bulbs and fixtures that have optimized for incandescent bulbs of the years.

Abandon the physics of blowing incandescent bulb envelopes?

The Corning Ribbon Machine
For Incandescent Light Bulb Blanks
International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark
American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Invented about 1926, 400 million bulb envelopes per year from a single machine is not shabby performance.

I'm not so worried about the LEDs as I am their drivers -- those electrolytic capacitors are ticking time bombs. Temperatures inside IC cans can easily exceed 100°C, at which point lamp life could be reduced to as little as 5,000 hours, possibly less.


those electrolytic capacitors are ticking time bombs.

Which is another reason I advocate switching to low voltage DC systems whenever possible.

The problem with electrolytics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague

In a nutshell, hydrogen gas is produced and pop -- the gas was produced because the people that stole the secret recipe from Japan left out the stabilizer.

See the invisible hand of Adam Smith did it.

Cause of the failing capacitors

In one case, the reason for the manufacture of faulty electrolytic capacitors was industrial espionage gone wrong: several Taiwanese electrolyte manufacturers began using a stolen formula that was incomplete, and lacked ingredients needed to produce a stable capacitor.[7]
When a faulty capacitor is charged, the water-based electrolyte becomes unstable and breaks down, producing hydrogen gas. Since these types of capacitors are sealed in an aluminium casing, the pressure builds up within the capacitor until either the flat metal top of the capacitor begins to bend, or the rubber sealing plug is pushed down. Eventually the pressure exceeds the strength of the metal casing and venting occurs, either by blowing out the rubber bottom of the capacitor, or bursting the scored metal vent on the top of the capacitor. When an electrolytic capacitor bursts, effects can range from a pop and a hissing noise to a small explosion. Venting is typically messy, and the corrosive electrolyte must be cleaned off the circuit board to prevent further damage.
IEEE Spectrum covered the issue,[7] and later estimated that the problem cost US $100 million to fix.[8]

I should monitor the temps of my IC cans. With 12W of dissipation, you won't see the rise of a 65W or higher incandescent, but it might still get toasty.

The only valid path for heat would be convection on the face of the bulb, which is not terribly large, or through the can, which is insulated. Of course, for short duty-cycles the picture would be quite different.

Again, this is why I think having a custom fixture design for LEDs makes sense. Heat pipes or heat-sink fixture faces could be innocuous yet effective, if not for the intentional thermal isolation of incan bulb fixtures.

These leds are designed to dissipate a ton of heat from a small area. The circuit board will have a thick copper cladding to move heat away to the heat sink which is surrounding the transparent case/lens of the light unit.

Without good heat dissipation the lights underperform.

Some Chinese cheapo lights act like they are speced at high lumen ratings but they are too cheap with the housing. And thus measured lumens with a light meter reveal the truth -- less light than advertised.

I also have seen chinese bicycle lights in which the key capacitor and resistor in the regulator circuit were under-speced and should lead to a light failure over time.

Likely all lights will fail prematurely due to shoddy electronics to make a fast buck. The LEDs themselves will be fine most likely. The driver will be toast.

Not in all cases -- good engineering would prevent these problems.

You may be surprised at how hot they can get. We retrofitted a number of retail stores with a 24-watt integrated ballast CDM PAR38. These lamps were approved for IC cans (I checked) and so we jumped in head first. This retailer uses an air tight Juno can and within a short time the lamps began to randomly cycle on and off throughout their stores due to the thermal protection circuity which kills power to the lamp when neck temperatures exceed 85°C. The manufacturer (one of the big three) was, without exaggeration, stunned. So they quickly halted production and came out with a "Gen II" version with a higher cut-off, 95°C as I recall. Well, low and behold, they too cycled, albeit in fewer numbers. One of the cans was pulled from a store and flown down to their testing lab in MA. They soon discovered that internal temperatures could reach as high as 103°C. Consequently, in "Gen III" the thermal protection circuitry has been yanked, so I guess the electronics package can continue to cook itself to death without needless interruption.

If I seem a tad skittish about LED technology, it's mostly due to this issue of heat. Once burned, twice shy.

Here's how a store would look when the lights were turned on at the start of the day:

and here's how it would look a few hours later:



I agree on the LED heat. It is not the total number of watts which are nominally lowish, but the fact that they are produced in a very small area, which means the heat is focused.

I am no expert, but the LED light problem is actually one that deals with heat dissipation from this tiny area in back of the LED unit itself. So the design is critical in that aspect.

The drivers should have parts in them that can respond to heat changes and adjust the regulation as needed, since these circuits change their current draws with changes in temperature.

But in principle LEDs are a great invention, and they are especially useful for all the lower watt applications, like my bicycle head and tail lighting.

Let us know how they work!

But in principle LEDs are a great invention, and they are especially useful for all the lower watt applications, like my bicycle head and tail lighting.

Funny you should mention tail lighting, Oct. The centre brake light on '94 LHS was fitted with LEDs and over half of them had failed by the time I traded it in eight years later and the other half were so dim you could barely see them come on in daylight. It failed safety inspection for that reason and I paid over $500.00 for the replacement module -- I was none too happy about that !

Solid state lighting holds great promise and I'm sure it will revolutionize the industry in years to come; we're starting to see that already. It's just that having had my ass handed to me on a platter with this CDM fiasco I never want to expose myself to that level of risk again. I need to be reasonably assured that these things will perform as promised and that they will, in fact, last a lifetime because, to be honest, I have my doubts.


It sounds like LEDS have reached a little beyond their capabilities. Paul, for that store you show, would not CFL lights be a better choice than LED's? Being on all day is ideal conditions for CFL.
I did a retrofit in Calgary a few years ago using these commercial duty CFL's (CRI of 82) and they were great - untrained eye could not tell the difference;

Still have one of them that I use - takes a bit to warm up, but definitely good light.

It seems to me that for area lighting LED's are not the top of the heap.

Also, have you had any experience with cold cathode fluorescent? They were highly touted a few years ago but seem only to be used in niche applications.


Paul N

Hi Paul,

Just to clarify, the aforementioned store was originally illuminated by 75-watt halogen-IR lamps and we retrofitted with a 24-watt integrated ballast ceramic metal halide PAR38. I had originally specified a good quality CFL for their change rooms but they shot that idea down as soon as the words left my mouth; they said they would NEVER use a CFL in any of their stores (blended with a good dollop of halogen I thought we'd be OK, but they responded as if I were tearing off the heads on kittens).

For high end retail, my preferred light source is ceramic metal halide and I'm especially fond of Philip's MasterColour Elite line (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8fQDZ50QGQ). This lamp blows everything else out of the water. I also use 12-volt MR16 halogen-IR or R111 for highlighting colour critical displays where required and an 800 or 900 series T8 fluorescent for cove/tray lighting.


Hi Paul,

Cool video, light looks good - I should call the store owner and see if he is ready to upgrade again - it has been five years!
I am not sure they model they used at start does anything for the lights - she would look just as good in any light!

How is that light for heat evolution?

When I did the CFL project, the main objective was reducing the heat. The downstairs of this store was getting so hot that the owner was considering adding air conditioning, which would have required upsizing his main service and panel, etc etc.

I suspect you must come across these sorts of situations all the time - a simple win for an efficiency project.

I am not sure they model they used at start does anything for the lights - she would look just as good in any light!

Funny how they never show fat, balding, slovenly dressed men in these videos...

My standard workhorse for track lighting is the Halo L5300 which utilizes a 20-watt, 39-watt or 70-watt T4.5 CDM. You can see this fixture at the 45-second mark of this Philips video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sDLMOKpJOg With electronic ballast, the heat dissipation is 45-watts and for the 70-watt version it's 77-watts. These fixtures when equipped with a MasterColour Elite lamp supply 4,000 and 7,000 lumens respectively with an end-of-life lumen maintenance of 80 to 82 per cent (amazingly, these lamps produce more light at their end-of-life than any of their competitors fresh out of the box). With a 3000K CCT and a CRI of 90+ the results are simply stunning.

A 60-watt halogen-IR will supply approximately 1,100 lumens so you could effectively substitute one 45-watt L5300 for three or possibly four of these high efficiency halogens. With the 77-watt version, the replacement ratio is 6 or 7 to 1. Thus, a remarkable 70 to 80 reduction in electrical and cooling loads. We need to get halogen out of retail and these MasterColour Elite CDM lamps are the perfect solution.


These lamps were approved for IC cans

I'd read you are supposed to avoid putting insulation over the IC cans. Could it be that this has been ignored? I consider that to be a serious problem, as uninsulated fixtures like this can be a significant thermal bridge (i.e. bypass around insulation).

No insulation in this case, EoS; simply an air-tight can (Juno brand) located inside an open plenum that also served as the air return for their a/c system.


After one hour the face temps on my LR-6s were up to 87-88F, with 74F ambient. Of course the can itself is recessed and I didn't pop one out to measure the top, which was likely considerably warmer. Sometime over Christmas I'll run one for a few hours and take more detailed measurements.

I would be concerned that a major manufacturer doesn't run thermal analysis software and do empirical testing of their applications.

Hi Paleo,

I scrolled back through my e-mail correspondence on this issue and the only thing I could find related to their testing procedures was this one small snippet: "... Also testing in the UL1993 fixtures had an ambient temperature of 50 degC, much cooler then what I see below."

I don't honestly know if they tested this product in an air-tight can but one would certainly hope.


I would love to see your par 38 side by side with the Cree versions. The LR-6 addresses most of your complaints, from my subjective perspective, with warm indoor color, good punch, and nice CRI. I have not tried the 1000W new version, which is the highest production efficiency I've seen. If these last better than 50K hours per "design life" they are almost a life-time bulb for many applications.

But they are expensive. The LR6 is down to $70 (I paid $90 a couple of years ago). The 1000W version is about $110-$120. The PAR 38 is more like $130.

As I've said before, I buy these to support the technology, and as a hedge against days ahead when I may have less money and less power.

Par 38:
* 11 Watts
* 55 lumens per Watt (about 600)
* 90 CRI
* 2700K

LR-6 recessed:
* 10.5 Watts
* 62 lumens per Watt (about 650)
* 90 CRI
* 2700K or 3500K
* Dimmable to 20%

* 12.5 Watts
* 80 lumens per Watt (about 1000)
* 90 CRI
* 2700K or 3500K
* Dimmable to 20%

No contest. The multi-faceted specular reflector and R111 design looks fantastic -- by far the most visually appealing package out there. One caveat: lamp life is cut by nearly a third when used in recessed fixtures (i.e., 35,000 hours versus 50,000) and I don't believe it's suitable for IC cans, so that pretty much rules it out for me.


The Gross Mismanagement of Mexico’s Oil Industry

Sorry, but this article got my back up. The coast between Sayulita and PV is FAR from unspoilt. Sayulita is a surf village and has hosted international competitions. From there on down to PV you will be lucky to buy coastal land unless you are rich. There are many multi million dollar properties, fenced off gated communities or building lots, resorts from small to huge, golf courses, roads, airport, etc etc. It makes me wonder how much attention has been spent on the rest of the article and gives me many doubts about it.


What's an ox?

Oxen (singular ox) are large and heavyset breeds of Bos taurus cattle trained as draft animals. Often they are adult, castrated males.
from wiki

And it takes about 4 years to train a pair to work as a plowing team.

And one day to grill them when they get too old to work. A small village could survive several days with a single ox.
At least you can eat it when no more running, try with a Chevro (although you could build many other useful objects with the Chevro scraps...).

Another one for the catastrophe theorists.

New Light on Human Prehistory in the Arabo-Persian Gulf Oasis

Jeffrey I. Rose

Jeffrey I. Rose is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham (Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom [jeffrey.i.rose@gmail.com]).

The emerging picture of prehistoric Arabia suggests that early modern humans were able to survive periodic hyperarid oscillations by contracting into environmental refugia around the coastal margins of the peninsula. This paper reviews new paleoenvironmental, archaeological, and genetic evidence from the Arabian Peninsula and southern Iran to explore the possibility of a demographic refugium dubbed the “Gulf Oasis,” which is posited to have been a vitally significant zone for populations residing in southwest Asia during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. These data are used to assess the role of this large oasis, which, before being submerged beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean, was well watered by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun, and Wadi Batin rivers as well as subterranean aquifers flowing beneath the Arabian subcontinent. Inverse to the amount of annual precipitation falling across the interior, reduced sea levels periodically exposed large portions of the Arabo-Persian Gulf, equal at times to the size of Great Britain. Therefore, when the hinterlands were desiccated, populations could have contracted into the Gulf Oasis to exploit its freshwater springs and rivers. This dynamic relationship between environmental amelioration/desiccation and marine transgression/regression is thought to have driven demographic exchange into and out of this zone over the course of the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene, as well as having played an important role in shaping the cultural evolution of local human populations during that interval.

See also http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208151609.htm

Is there any geological evidence of a sudden flooding of the Persian Gulf at roughly 8k years ago, as mentioned in the article? It's my understanding that the sea level began to rise some 16k years ago and had reached a slightly higher stand by 8k years ago. A sudden flooding event as mentioned in the article would imply that there something of a sill or dam which kept the sea water out of the Persian Gulf. Here's a Wikipedia link which suggests the Persian Gulf was flooded at some time after 12k years ago. There is a sill depth of between 50 and 80 meters up stream of the Straits, which might have presented such a barrier. Before the sill was over topped, the Persian Gulf might have been a fresh water lake...

E. Swanson

Persian Gulf Once Dry, Green, and Inhabited by Humans: Implications

River System 2: Around 5,500 B.C., the sea level was still about 50 feet lower than it is today. The original river systems must therefore still have been “incised” into the Mesopotamia plain, says Nutzel. In the 4th millennium B.C. (4,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.), however, the rivers began to “braid” for two reasons. In 5,500 B.C., the sea level began to rise again, reaching about to the present level at around 4,000 B.C., and then kept rising, reaching in 3,000 B.C. about 10 feet above what it is today, filling up the river valleys in Southern Mesopotamia and then braiding out.

also http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Sea_Level.png

Saddam did a number on the wetlands in Iraq too. They are trying to restore them now. What a pity in Iraq. He purposefully drained the marshes so that the people there would starve and destroyed the wetlands directing all the water via canals to the ocean.

A Wikileaks cable tells us that Naomi Klein had e-mails exchanged with Mr Hussein before her studies on "The Shock Doctrine" of capitalism.

Errrr.......wasn't Saddam in hiding at that time?

The sea level from your Wikipedia reference is like that I've seen before by Peltier, et. al. The sea level was about 50 meters below present some 10k years ago. Thus, that sill up stream of the Strait would have been over topped by then and the first "lake" shown on the hand sketch would have been exposed to sea water. I think there might have been a slow advance into the higher elevations of the Gulf from that point until about 6k years ago when the sea level was close to the present stand. Without further information, it's hard to imagine this being a fast inundation...

E. Swanson

Climate change in prehistory: the end of the reign of chaos
By William James Burroughs, page 220 (Book is on Google, partly)

The steadily rising sea levels might have had a more profound effect on coastal communities where large areas were inundated in fits and starts. For example, this could have happened in the Persian Gulf. This enclosed sea goes no deeper than 100 m, and much of the seabed is only about 40 m below the present-day surface. When sea levels were 120 m lower the gulf would have been dry land 20 kya, and the ancestral river system of the Tigris and Euphrates flowed through the deepest part of the gulf, a canyon cut by the river waters to the Indian Ocean. The postglacial rise in sea level inundated the floor of the gulf between 15 and 6 kya. The sea advanced more than 1000 km, forcing any people living there to abandon their settlements. This advance would have been most rapid during the second half of the period of sealevel rise, after the Younger Dryas.

The most obvious form of erratic behaviour would have been the sudden advance of the sea as a result of a storm surge. During the inexorable rise, the waters at times flooded across the flattest parts of the Persian Gulf at about a kilometer per year. This would have meant that during a major storm the surge in sea level might have devastated land several kilometers in from the temporary shoreline. Repeated events of this nature could easily have been rememebered in terms of a single catastrophc event rather than long-term change.

The second potential source of the Flood Myth in this particular region is that there were times when rising sea levels put on a sudden spurt. More dramatic accelerations would have occurred when there were major meltwater releases from the freshwater lakes that formed behind the melting ice sheets. The expreme case was the 163,000 km^3 ouburst from Lake Agassiz at 8.2 kya. Instead of the steady advance of the sea of a few meters per year, this event, which might have taken place in a year or so, could have caused an advance of more than 10km across the flattest parts of the Persian Gulf.

I can't comment on the evidence side, because I do not know. But I can tell it is possible. When the ice age ended, there was lots of local flooding events. Peoplelived in those areas, and the stories of the surviviors lived on. They became flooding myths and are found in the local traditions all over. There are even one in the Bible.

I find it very facinating that events that occoured 8-12 K years ago still circulates in stories told today.

I find it very facinating that events that occoured 8-12 K years ago still circulates in stories told today.

The group known as Janus forbade the wearing of metal. Imagine a large CME and the effect on you with all of the metal on your person/in your life.

(aka - say, how's that nail in the wood of your home?)

Imagine a large CME and the effect on you with all of the metal on your person/in your life.

I can't imagine a CME induced EMF to be large enough to cause a problem for any conductor whose length is less than several miles long. Now a lightening bolt hitting say 20meters away is a different story.

One day we may find out if you are just not imaginative enough.

The big quake in Chile - seems the Earth moved 3 inches in orbit. Now a year is a tad different in length. I'd think that Earthquakes would not change the orbit - yet there ya go.

"Take food as an example, 200 years ago, some 90+ percent of us were involved in its raising or otherwise procuring food -- or we would simply not eat. Now, thanks to cheap fossil fuels, less than 3 percent of us are engaged in agricultural endeavors..."

Will electic farm equipment replace the old fossil fuel tractors?

Yes food production is indeed a biggie, one that isn't discussed all that much...

Sharon Astyk gave a talk about it at the ASPO conference.


As for electric farm equipment, personally I think that small, around 30 HP, EVs will have a role to play on small local farms, assuming of course that we can maintain some form of basic industrialization in the medium term.

The guessing about electrification of farm EQ has been done before on TOD.

30 HP = 746 watts * 30 = 22380 watts

22380 / 110 volts = 203 amps.

Your 30 HP tractor at full tilt boogie exceeds the code minimum for housing. That is 00 gauge wire. That is 2.4826 lbs a foot. That is 209 foot a side and that means on on magical movable 00 gauge wire you'd need (rounding up) 1045 lbs of copper.

Over $4000 in copper.

Do you understand why, when the idea is mentions I point out the answer is small - under 1500 watts?

According to my understanding of physics, less power means more time required to do the work.

One could go for a single-shank chisel plow at 12 HP.

12 HP = 746 x 12 = 8952 W / 220 Volt = 40 A

Not bad in terms of copper, BUT of course more time to plow the field.

See people miss the point of less dense energy. The loss is in work per unit time or work per person but the work can get done still.

less power means more time required to do the work.

Yup. Which is why I pitched small robotic field workers.

Or, as I was editing the post b4 you locked me out...

Poppies = 124 gallons an acre. US Gov - .065 gal per hour fuel consumption per 1 HP max rating. Thusly 2 gal an hour to run the 30 HP.

All ya need to do is be able to grow fields of poppies.....

You guys are the experts.

What ratio of homespun compost should be mixed with the dirt in my 4x8 foot boxes in my tiny backyard garden?

What ratio of homespun compost should be mixed with the dirt

When in doubt apply the 80:20 rule :-)

Sir Clive Edwards, who spent a life with worms noted that 20% vermipost (a form of compost) mix is "optimal". Now, you get better results with 100% - but the opportunity cost of spreading it elsewhere is lost.

If you were planting Tomatoes or say lettuce 100% compost should do better than 20%. But some plants arn't going to do well in 100% compost due to moisture (root crop) or excess Nitrogen (peppers will be green, not much fruit)

Thanks i have a batch ready to go.

Mainly greens, roots, squashes, beans and tomatoes in my yard. I also add around my apples and plums and orange.

Want to add cherries and pears and blueberries, but time is short, having been soaked for time by a collapsing retaining wall (50 feet long) made out of redwood from decades ago -- maybe from as early as the 1960s! redwood is amazing material -- but eventually rots around the fasteners and begins to fall apart. Still good wood I salvaged to make supports and stairs with though!

I started the gardens 3 years ago and the worms and regular 3'x3'x3' compost heap this year with all my cellulose and kitchen and yard waste. Hope to save a little money on compost material by making some of my own throughout the year.

....or you could turn the hogs in, let'em root and fertilize for a couple of days and plant your grain.

When it comes down to electrified agriculture, farmers are going to have to choose their battles carefully. While there are possibilities for electrified harvesting and processing, plowing/tilling on any scale will be problematic; best left to biofuels. This assumes we'll have the industrial capacity to do any of this.

Here piggy piggy!

I visited a grape farm and they just put up a movable fence and added chickens hogs and goats and let them eat all the weeds around the grapes and then they move the fence to another set of grapes.

No weeding and lots of fertilizer for free basically. Even more efficient than typical grape farming weed maintenance.

I bet farmers in practice use biofuels and a john deere. ;-)

Yair... been done, have a look here:-http://maddelinternational.com/wordpress/?page_id=19

Your 30 HP tractor at full tilt boogie exceeds the code minimum for housing.

Anyone who tries to run farm equipment off their house service deserves the fire they will probably have.

If you are going to run you farm electric, you start by having an appropriate sized service, and many farms do.

When any self respecting shop quality tablsaw runs on 22o\0V, who would try to run a tractor ion 120V?

If your equipment is going to be cable powered, instead of battery, you would at the very least use 480V, but possibly go up to 4180V if you have larger equipment - transformers are wonderful things. Mines and quarries do this all the time, and you can get armoured cables that are designed to be dragged over the ground.

But for the small tractor, the 30hp one, you could easily do a battery one - just retrofit the drive from a battery forklift.
This Toyota one has two 13.2kW motors, giving 35hp and likely tree stump pulling torque. (http://forklift.toyota.ca/en/lift/22209e.asp)
Has a 68kWh (nominal) lead acid battery pack, but you could use smaller. Fortunately, for tractors, weight is not an issue and, for tillage, is an asset - that is why many tractors have wheel weights and water filled tyres

For a "yard" tractor and front end loader, with lots of stop-start-idle operation this set up woud be ideal - that is, after all, what forklifts do all day long.
For doing long hours of ploughing, not so much, but there are ways around that, the first one being to do less ploughing, and, go to controlled traffic farming, where you always use the same wheeltracks and never plough them up - avoids the problem of the tractor compacting the ground and then having to plough it!. (e.g. http://www.abc.net.au/landline/stories/s652276.htm) You can actually get by with half the energy, and thus power, per acre actually ploughed, though you give up about 10% of your land area in doing so. You can get the job done with smaller equipment too - sounds ideal for electric.

Of course, you will also have minimised your ploughing in the first place, but if you are trying not to use herbicides you often have no choice but to plough. The animal methods mentioned above have their place too, but you may still need to plough if you are trying to plant a grain crop.

Anyway, electrified farming, on small scales, can be done with today;s technology. It is just a case, as with cars, that using oil powered equipment is, presently, cheaper and less up front cost, that's all.

Anyone who tries to run farm equipment off their house service deserves the fire they will probably have.

The issue would be getting all that electrical power to the rural locations.

But if you want to wish fires on people, by all means go ahead.

If you are going to run you farm electric, you start by having an appropriate sized service, and many farms do.

Ok. As TOD is a meat grinder - back up your claim.

I'm betting you can't. And I'm betting any farm operation that has good enough electrical service to draw 200 amps has tractors of 800 hp in the field feeding it.

When any self respecting shop quality tablsaw runs on 22o\0V, who would try to run a tractor ion 120V?

And if you can't explain the why, you shouldn't be talking about the issue. (Hint: others in this thread hit on part of it. In other threads the resident lighting expert hit on the 'balance' of another why)

Fortunately, for tractors, weight is not an issue

Really? Sub soil compaction is an "issue". But I'm guessing you are proposing a solution you actually know nothing about.

Anyway, electrified farming, on small scales, can be done with today;s technology.

Yup. Under 3 HP.


I do not wish a fire upon anyone, but some people do ask for them. If you are going to use electricity for other than household purposes, you had better make sure you understand how it works, otherwise you might have something worse than just a fire. And if you are going to try to make your living using electricity, then it is not just a safety issue, it is good business sense to understand just what the limitations are.

The Rural Electrification program in the 40's and 50's resulted in 90% of farms being on the grid. If you exclude high country ranches, i suspect the real number is 99% of farms are on the grid. I do not have access to figurs on the average suze of service, but evry farm I have ever lived, worked or visited, bar one, has had at least three phase 25kVa service, and many have much more.

I'm betting any farm operation that has good enough electrical service to draw 200 amps has tractors of 800 hp in the field feeding it.
You could not be more wrong. "200 amps" is what many house services are have, albeit at 120V. 200A when you have three phase 480V is a whole different story, as is 200A when your service is at primary voltage (25kV) as some large dairies/feedlots have. What matters is kVa
As for the tractor, have you got some backup for the 800hp tractor. I don;t think you will find even one farm in the world with that - the world largest production tractor is 615hp! (http://www.montgomerydesign.com/ChlngrArt.pdf). Most of the 4WD articulated tractors you see are around 400hp.

Trying to run any industrial machinery on 120V is near impossible, as there is no industrial machinery made for 120V. As soon as you have a motor of more than 5kW cont. rating, it is going to be three phase, and once you are over 10-15kW, likely to be 480V (or 575V in Canada).
IF you have equipment that is drawing much more than 100 amps, it is usually time to go to a higher voltage.

I do stand corrected about weight and tractors - most tractors do not have enough weight. If you don;t have enough, you get excessive wheelslip, like an unloaded pickup going up a wet hill. That is why they have whel weights, water in tyres and front counterweights - look at teh design sketch of the Challenger and the first thing you see is a huge row of front counterweights. Power is useless if you have no traction, and a 40' chisel plough going 10" deep needs a LOT of pulling force. if you tractor does not have enough power AND weight to generate enough forward pull, your wheels slip. (actually they slip about 2% when ploughing but that is normal, 4% is excessive)

Soil compaction is indeed an issue, it is not caused directly by the weight of the tractor, but by the ground opressure it exerts. That is why some farmers use tracked rubber tracked tractors - while still heavy, they spread the weight and have low ground pressure. Alternatively, you got to controlled traffic farming, so the tractor is always running on, and not ploughing up, a compacted "tramway". Scrub Pullers rotary rig achieves the same result, just in a circular fashion.

But I'm guessing you are proposing a solution you actually know nothing about.
I'm not so sure about that - I did grow up on one - had to milk the cows before catching the school bus, spent my school holidays driving tractors, baling and hauling hay etc Took until I was about 30to have more hours driving a car than a tractor - how about you?

Yup. Under 3 HP.

Well, if you can do your farming for that then you are either a very small farm, or unbelievably energy efficient, and my hat is off to you.

But if you are farming for a living, three horses just wont do it (not even in the age of horses). My brother's farm electrified their irrigation - about 130hp. Electrified all the water pumping, grain handling equipment, sheep shearing shed, hay bale elevator, etc. Anything that is not mobile has been electrified.

We are looking at doing electrified yard tractor/front end loader, hence my mention of the forklift drive. We have a 4wd front and loader where the engine is on its last legs and would make a potential conversion project. Since going to the large format bales, the front end loader is the most frequently used piece of equipment (though the main tractor still works more total hours). Engines suffer as there are so many cold starts relative to operating hours. The rear counterweight on this thing alone is 300kg - quite a sizeable battery pack could do that job.

Now, this 1500ac farm is too big for an electric tractor for ploughing and the like, but if you had a small farm in a temperate area with soft soils, and did minimum tillage, you could make a 35 hp electric work. I know of a farmer who does 80ac using only a 35hp Massey Ferguson - once every three years he gets a big tractor in to deep rip, but otherwise does it all with this unit. The only real limitation would be the ability to run the electric for a full day - "hours" not "range" is the issue. Would probably need two swappable battery trailers to do it.

Not a cheap setup, but if fuel is expensive enough, and you do enough hours a year, there is a point where it is worth it.

You can drop your cable dimensions considerably by just going to higher voltages.

Still a lot of challenges, but Electric can serve all sorts of big machines. I like the rotary rig that ScrubPuller has been working on.. there are many basic assumptions that can be challenged and reworked.

Yair...thanks for the mention jokuhl.

I love 'out of the box' ideas!

.. but I still don't know what 'Yair' means. Around here we say 'HAyuh', 'Yessa' or 'OK, dear' (Well, 'Deah' actually)


The big issues with such a rig is the material expense.

The question of 'how much does it cost?' all-too-often upstages the real questions of 'how much is it worth, and how long will it last?'

Crude Prices Will Get to $100 Before Falling Back, OPEC's El-Badri Says

Oil prices will reach $100 a barrel before falling back, OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said in Quito, Ecuador, today.

“When the price goes to $100, there’s something wrong and we will have to do something,” he told reporters before an OPEC meeting on Dec. 11.

OPEC sets an upper bound?

“Prices maybe will go to $100 but it will come down,” El- Badri told reporters, adding that OPEC will make a change only if it sees something wrong with fundamentals. “If it goes to $100 because of speculation, OPEC could not move," he said.

Translated: OPEC will not do anything even at $100 /barrel.

If you are member of OPEC and price of oil go to $100 why bother? Take care about the essentials instead and think about the harem. It is perfect moment to relax and think about expansion.

U.S. life expectancy slipped as recession took hold

Life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2008, the first full year of a grueling recession that saw mixed effects, both good and bad, on the nation’s health, according to new government data.

Overall life expectancy fell to 77.8 years, down slightly from 77.9 in 2007, the year that the recession began, and below a record high of 78.1 years in 2006. In a country like the U.S., the drop is small but ominous, public health experts said.

Interesting. Life expectancy increased during the Great Depression.

I think it will even out at some point - the changes will be better for us in the long term but worse for the elderly in the short

Interesting indeed, especially because it seems that two of the major causes driving the increase in the death rate are Alzheimer's and suicides. Well, Alzheimer's is pretty much a no brainer... But Gee, it almost makes you wonder if it might be possible that people who are unemployed, have lost their homes, have no health care, have lost their social status and social network, are feeling isolated and depressed might actually take their own lives in desperation as a way out of their predicament? I've been wondering for some time if we would be seeing a significant uptick in the number of suicides especially amongst the newly disenfranchised. I have a hunch it is going to get a lot worse in the near future.

one of the two major cause driving the increase in the death rate is Alzheimer

In France there is a big debate* about the quantity of residual aluminium salts allowed in drinkable water (and in Italy there is a stunning 5% of population with pretty too much arsenic in "drinkable" water with a debate** on how much arsenic could people drink every day to "stay" healthy...).
To get a "legal" drinkable water in France you have to add aluminium salts, but this way you are more exposed to neuropsychiatric diseases.
And for Italy to get more drinkable water they had to perforate anywhere in the rocksoil without paying attention.
No matter all these diseases are related to 20th century way of life indeed...


There was a big increase in suicides among men when the Soviet Union collapsed. Women seem to handle that kind of disruption better.

Curiously, this article claims black men's life expectancy actually increased (even though blacks have been hit much harder than whites by unemployment).

It reminds me of those studies that found white girls suffer a sharp loss of self-esteem in their early teen years, as they compare themselves to society's ideal of beauty and fail to measure up. Black and Hispanic girls don't, perhaps because they are aware early on that they are being judged for their looks (darker skin), which serves as a sort of inoculation.

Kind of makes you wonder if those parents who raised their children to believe they can do anything have set them up for a far more difficult adulthood than they would have had if expectations had been more realistic.

those studies that found white girls suffer a sharp loss of self-esteem in their early teen years, as they compare themselves to society's ideal of beauty and fail to measure up. Black and Hispanic girls don't, perhaps because they are aware early on that they are being judged for their looks (darker skin), which serves as a sort of inoculation

Different cultural groups have different cultural models. Even with a different skin of the prevalent national skin, hispanic and black ones prefer to stay with hispanic and/or black girls. Then these studies are fuc#ed up.
Personally, I love sociology. But they (sociologists) are precisely born to fail.

Women seem to handle that kind of disruption better.

It would be interesting to find out if that continues to hold in cases where women whose identities are now increasingly defined by their participation in the workforce as opposed to being in charge of the household, start losing their jobs. Though it still seems that women in general are much better at social networking than men and those networks seem to play a big part in their being more resilient to depression.

Kind of makes you wonder if those parents who raised their children to believe they can do anything have set them up for a far more difficult adulthood than they would have had if expectations had been more realistic.

'Realistic' is not a word I tend to use when describing much of anything that has to do with American middle class child rearing practices over the last couple of decades.

Yes, women mostly handled ex-Soviet life better, often becoming flexible networking breadwinners. My daughter observed some of this first-hand when she lived with Russian families while working there post-collapse. Sometimes the men were useful. Drink took a toll especially on men, but cardiovascular disease was the big one. There was a huge increase in heart attacks in men, while the opposite was happening in most of OECD where the earlier heart attack epidemic culminating in the 1950s, was rapidly receding.
See first chart in this Guest Post http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5181
The most likely largest culprit delivering this knock-down prompt effect in Russia was probably an increase in smoking. In Western societies it has been demonstrated that the biggest single change bringing about the reduced number of heart attacks seen in recent decades is a reduction in smoking in middle-age. (NB Arteries become progressively diseased over time, providing the underlying pre-condition for an attack, but smoking provides a prompt trigger to destabilize the at-risk arterial plaque.)

I see the recent stats for the USA have just been published
Yes suicides upswing 2.7% but a fraction of the 7.5% jump in death rate from Alzheimer's.

I find a life expectancy below 80 years in an industrialized country appalling.

Many petrol stations across Scotland are running out of fuel

Hundreds of petrol stations across Scotland are running out of fuel because of the snow, and there are supply problems in other parts of the UK.

It's also claimed some garages are raising their prices to take advantage of the increased demand.

"Business as usual"


Angry House Democrats on Thursday voted to reject the tax-cut extension package negotiated by President Obama with Republicans.

In an emotional voice vote in their caucus, Democrats, who have repeatedly attacked the agreement as too generous to the rich, said the package should not come to the floor in its current form. The next step is up to the leadership.

Obama has turned into a mediator, but at least the House was not willing to be held hostage to threats.

Rejecting the tax cut is like voting for a 2nd recession.
I guess the rest of the democrats left in congress want to get voted out in 2012.

I think it's just as likely that tax cuts have fueled the economic malaise we find ourselves in. Here's another view.

Time for people to cut their gross excesses in their lives is my longish view.

We can eat sugar for a while with tax cuts, but eventually we need to eat real food which means we need to work harder and make good choices in the marketplace.

Right now people are not becoming efficient with their energy and resources usage due to gross fiscal excesses.

furthermore, infrastructure is in deep trouble. Take for example the average age of power plants--the aging nukes--the power lines--the roads and bridges. We need these things to work for us. Without collecting taxes and improving appropriate infrastructure our civilization crumbles in the face of constrained resources.

Time to spend money efficiently and effectively.

I do not expect this to come to pass. rather more sugar for the people to squander on TVs and useless junk imported from China.

The package includes a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax cuts to all Americans, combined with an extension of unemployment benefits for 13 months and a payroll-tax reduction. Without congressional action, all the tax cuts expire at the end of the month.

My question is why wouldn't the Democrats just sit on their hands and let the tax cuts expire?

Other than the President, it's a win-win political scenario for Democrats. For those reps and Senators who are moving out, they have nothing to lose. For those who are staying, they can take a political stand on principle.

Meanwhile, it leaves the door open for the Republicans to take the heat for reintroducing their beloved tax cuts to the rich should they decide to do so when they take their respective offices in January.

I agree, in this case, the do nothing option favoured the democrats They should have tabled their legislation (retain cuts for all except rich) and said take it or leave it.

Then the republicans would have had to answer to the majority of Americans why they voted down a bill that gave almost everyone a tax cut.

Obama had the initiative here, and let it go - he should have made the republicans sweat a little.

Unless there is something. behind the doors, to this deal, I just can;t see that it was a good outcome for Obama.

Because Obama and the DLC brain-trust are working for the same team that hired the Republican Party. Over the past few decades since FDR, (R) vs (D) have become two sides of the same golden coin.

Stage right, stage left; same theater, same play.

Doing nothing for cuts and unemployment would be a broad PR loss for the Dems, since the Reps would simply point out they don't understand America. Holding moderate position votes might be a short-term win, IF the Reps vote them down, which they very well might.

The game, though, is that if the Reps bring up cuts and unemployment and pass anything in Jan after Dems fail to during lame duck, they would get ALL the positive PR then, and use it all year long.

The Dems best bet for their constituency and the moderates is to negotiate hard for unemployment gains but limit tax cuts. Reps best bet is to hold hard for cuts and limit unemployment.

The Reps think they have a stronger hand than they do, because they listen to the moneyed few, and don't seem to realize that 250K after-tax is still a lot of money even to the middle-class. Dems think they have a stronger hand than they do because they listen to the far left apparatus, and don't seem to realize that tax increases will hurt their constituents too.

Both seem to ignore the simple fact that their constituents would like to be able to plan out their 2011 budgets and the IRS would like to be able to give withholding guidance. It's all brinkmanship and spectacle with no pragmatism on either side, IMHO.

The sad part is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are attuned to America's fiscal dilemma.

The more debt the U.S. has on its books, the less freedom it has for the future.

How does one handle debt? The sensible thing to do would be to raise revenues and cut costs. The Obama - GOP agreement does the direct opposite: it retains tax cuts and augments spending. That's simply a$$ backwards and fiscally irresponsible. Talk about an absolutely asinine policy in light of the country's current accounts.

Right now, if both political parties had their country's benefit truly at heart, the Republicans would be preaching tax hikes and the Dems would be advocating major program cuts.

The rationale: short term pain will lead to long term gain. Balanced books mean you will be able to afford practical and sensible public programs for your citizens (safety, security, health, infrastructure, even electric rail if you wanted). And if you find yourself affording the programs with the revenues provided, eventually the taxes will fall accordingly (b/c this time you're not servicing any debt).

A penny saved will then be a penny earned.

What America's leadership seems to be lacking is any long term perspective: that putting your financial affairs in order today is a recipe for better options tomorrow.

Then there is other political calculus. If the "plan" goes through, there will be a shortterm stimulative effect, lowering unemplyment perhaps by 1%. The claim is elections hinge largely on the change in unemployment during the year prior. So Krugman thinks Obama blew it, because the stimulative effect would then be winding down, a big part is the 2% social security tax holiday that is only for 2011. So presumably the decrease in stimulus for 2012, means the economic improvenet will stall/reverse, spelling doom for Obama's re-election bid.

Of course we have two major constituencies: general voters, and the upper 1% (or maybe .1%) that largely control the political donations, and a lot of the media narrative. Both parties vie for this later special interest group, although the R's more so than the D's.

IMHO, the U.S. Republic is broken and cannot be fixed. Just as Julius Caesar took over when the Roman Senate became ineffective and totally beholden to special-interest groups, the time is now ripe for a "man on a white horse" to come forward and take over in the U.S.

I just hope the man is not Sarah Palin. Now we laugh at her. Will we still be laughing after election day in Nov. 2012?

As our oil imports continue to decline in the future, the economy will get worse and worse. As the economy worsens, political conditions for a transition to dictatorship will ripen. The American public now lacks confidence in its governmental and political institutions--and rightly so. A system that refuses to recognize Peak Oil and that cowers in denial must go.

I'm not fond of the idea of dictatorship--but since the days of Plato and Aristotle it has been clear that over time democracy tends to transform itself into a perversion of democratic principles, and after the self-destruction of democracy comes tyranny.

Don, the pessimism you expressed may be reflective of trains of thought occupying the minds of American thinkers and the Washington elite. The Automatic Earth has an interesting take on current events in this evening's posting:

Dan Weintraub's Nominal Man Part III:
War Is The Health Of The State

Conservative commentators in the United States are quick to chastise men like Paul Krugman for their unabashed and shameless support for additional trillions in government stimulus. These critics accuse the Krugmans of the world either of being wholly ignorant as to the implications of unbridled increases in the fiat money supply, or worse, of being in cahoots with the billionaire banking class and with its proxies on Capitol Hill.

In my opinion, these fury-fueled criticisms miss the mark. What Krugman fears most is austerity. He is concerned that moves toward austerity do not simply (and disproportionately) hurt society’s most vulnerable, but that such policies provide a fertile environment in which extremism and ultra-violence thrive. Krugman is thus willing to support "extend and pretend" fiscal policies in the present because he is afraid of the alternative.

In fact, I would characterize the Krugman position as a delaying tactic: kicking the fiscal can down the road for a while longer so as not to allow civil strife - the discontent that always accompanies increases in austerity along with its attendant human suffering (both real and perceived) - a foothold in the United States. Another, perhaps more cynical view, could be this: Better to watch the other nations of the world implode under the pressures of austerity than to let it happen here first.

Haunting words indeed in view of the rioting happening tonight in London over British government imposed austerity.

Again, allow me to take a contrarian position to those who would argue that the Bernanke imperative illustrates the ignorance of those promoting loose monetary policies. I think that Chairman Bernanke understands all too well that his accommodating monetary policies will fail to fix the underlying and most fundamental and socially destructive of all economic ills-those of an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, and the absolute disaster caused by an ever-shrinking, formerly self-sustaining American middle class.

But here’s the deal: Like Paul Krugman, Ben Bernanke also believes - and this is why his voice cracks and his lips quiver when he speaks "confidently" of the Fed’s policies - that hedging against what would be pretty much instantaneous chaos here in America...

Weintraub goes on to say that "austerity and poverty hasten the arrival of civil strife." This is where I personally differ from his opinion. IMHO, austerity is merely the applying of discipline to unbridled and excessive spending. It is the key to economic health and social cohesion, not an impediment nor its nemesis.

If fear of unrest is the underlying motivation behind recent American policy, then we are truly in big, big trouble. B/c as FDR so eloquently stated it: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Let fear overwhelm you and the consequences will be dire; let it overwhelm a nation, it will be devastating; let it overwhelm the world's only superpower, it will catastrophic.

Both Krugman and Bernanke are Keynesians, haunted by memories of the Great Depression and how bad fiscal and bad monetary policies made the Depression Great and long-lasting. Keynesians see the fundamental problem as a lack of total spending--which results in zero or negative economic growth which in turn causes decreases in employment and increases in unemployment.

I fear that neither Keynesian nor monetarist nor Austrian economists understand the fact of Peak Oil and the facts related to our inability (mainly political) to transition successfully to a post-fossil-fuel economy. Keynes himself knew about limitations imposed by scarcity of natural resources, but the "Keynesians" forgot what Keynes himself wrote and what his great predecessors in Britain (especially Marshall and Jeavons) had clearly stated. Economists, alas, are not engineers. Engineers recognize limits imposed, for example, by limited strength of materials, limits imposed by the laws of thermodynamics, and limits imposed by depleting fossil fuels. Economists--with several notable exceptions--focus on the power of the market to adapt to change and to find or develop good substitutes for increasingly scarce natural resources.

The conventional wisdom of economics is appalling in its tunel vision. Bernanks and Krugment are bothbright men, but due to their excellent educations they both wear blinders when it comes to seeing things that are not in their economic models.

Our economy is in decline. Living standards and life expectancies are falling. We face THE LONG DESCENT as described by John Michael Greer. By focusing on short-term concerns and avoiding the long-term ones, the establishment economists are making our future worse than it has to be. In other words, they are taking a horrible situation and making it worse. But we should not blame only the economists: Economists advise, but the power to act is in the hands of elected officials--politicians who stay in office by accepting large campaign contributions from vested interest groups, that is, groups that have an investment in fighting change. Our govenmental and political institutions are rotten to the core. As I said in an earlier comment, the U.S. Republic is broken, and it cannot be fixed.

Probably our republic will be replaced by a dictatorship based on defunct economic ideas. For the U.S. I think a populist dictatorship is more likely (based on our history) than a plutocratic oligarchy.

Our economy is in decline. Living standards and life expectancies are falling. We face THE LONG DESCENT as described by John Michael Greer.

In short,
1) the beginning of continuous and increasingly severe resource restraint
2) the end to globalization
3) the end to American hegemonic pre-eminence
4) the end to a consumer model economy (based on the satiation of desires) and a return to an economy based on need (food, clothing, shelter)
5) a greater reliance on self, family, neighbour and local suppliers and merchants

Thus even more of an incentive to live within one's means. Austerity under these circumstances will happen, one way or another.

You're right. Politicians are backed by groups that have an investment in fighting change. But change is inevitable.

No one has a crystal ball to see tomorrow. As you rightly discern, a populist dictatorship is one possibility. That is, if the United States implodes on itself. Another possibility, of course, is disintegration and fragmentation. Here one can expect to see a rise in regional alienation or state parochialism. Neither one of these long term eventualities is necessarily a bad thing. They are just different than the way things are run now. But I genuinely think that they're are still a safe distance into the future. I suspect the power of habit and inertia will keep things together and going on a familiar pattern for a little while yet.

That said, I still would like to see the U.S. leadership take command and make sensible decisions - decisions which do not include spending like drunken sailors, recklessly hamstringing pubic policy by constantly obsessing over taxes, and printing untold amounts of funny money to cover costs. Such actions will only erode further confidence and make sudden and violent change that much more likely.

Despite Drug Violence, Business Is Booming in Mexico

Falling oil production was offset by a 41% increase in crude prices leaving a 0.7% growth in oil-sector output.


Falling oil production was offset by a 41% increase in crude prices leaving a 0.7% growth in oil-sector output.

Think about that line in your post for a moment. It struck me as symptomatic of peak oil. Less supply causing higher prices, with less energy for the end user. So on the surface it might seem like a wash - lower supplies offset by higher prices - but the problem is it produces less work, less bang for the buck.

That's my lead-in to Rubin's article;
'What will 2011 bring? Triple-digit oil'


Refined oil stocks held by China’s two largest oil companies have fallen for eight consecutive months, while diesel stocks in the country fell 14 per cent in October. And the tightening oil market won’t just be felt in China. The 140 million gallons of international oil inventories sloshing around in floating storage on the high seas is also all but gone.

As we move farther along a timeline from the point in time the IEA suggest peak oil occurred (2006), and away from peak oil exports (2005), as this recovery picks up steam, inventories will deplete and oil price will rise. If 2008 is any indicator, rising oil price into triple digit range should at some point cause another step down in the economy.

Not if, but when that happens, the US will not have done anything whatsoever austerity-wise to adjust to paying Fed & State bills with less revenue. In fact, by lowering taxes in this current, and maybe last free-for-all to give everyone a bonus because it's politically advantageous, we will be posting the highest deficits in Human History when that next step down occurs. There won't be any interest by the new House to approve another stimulus package or extend more tax cuts without a way to pay for them.

The US may have even worn out its welcome with Eastern lenders to borrow more. About the only avenue available will be more QE's if helicopter Ben still has that slight of hand keystroke routine working. The point is austerity measures after a 2nd step down will be so huge, it will be a very hard pill to swallow.

If on the other hand, the Bush jr. tax cuts had simply been allowed to expire, people would have had some time before the next step down to get use to less money and the forthcoming austerity measures wouldn't need to be as austere and thus not as hard on the populace.

But, maybe we're just talking about different shades of collapse, and once in that picture, the shading really won't be the focal point.