Drumbeat: December 31, 2010

John Michael Greer: The haybox factor

Just prior to the shutdown of the “Life After The Oil Crash” forum, Savinar posted a series of increasingly irritated comments about the number of people on it whose obsessive concern about the prospect of a catastrophic future stopped well short of doing anything to prepare for it. I know the feeling; this blog and the Green Wizards forum have attracted a lot of people who are actually doing something about their future, but I’ve had plenty of run-ins elsewhere with people who apparently believe that (a) insisting that some technology they’re doing nothing to develop or deploy will bail us out of our predicament, (b) displaying their doombat machismo by imagining a future more godawful than anybody else’s, or (c) finding somebody to blame and showing Jung a thing or two about how to project the shadow, are useful responses to the end of the industrial age.

Unproductive as these habits may be, there’s an understandable logic behind them, and behind all the attempts to paint the future in glowing colors of one sort or another – be those colors the syrupy hues of a Thomas Kinkade cottage painting or the purer if less comforting tones of a thermonuclear fireball. All of these portraits are ways not to think about the future that’s actually bearing down on us, a future that might best be summed up by pointing out that nearly all of us here in America will be poor – not "can’t afford the latest Xbox this month" poor, by the way, but "may not be able to put food on the table" poor – for the rest of our lives.

Korea: Energy `attention` warning issued amid rising oil prices

Rising high oil prices and the cold spell in Korea mean energy is in short supply.

The Knowledge Economy Ministry in a "crisis evaluation meeting" Thursday issued an "attention" warning according to the emergency energy crisis manual.

Depending on the price of oil per barrel, the energy crisis is categorized into “attention” (90-100 U.S. dollars); “caution” (100-130 dollars); “warning” (130-150 dollars); and “danger” (more than 150 dollars).

Natural Gas Heads for Fourth Monthly Gain on Colder Weather in U.S. East

Natural gas futures rose for a second day as forecasts showed below-normal temperatures in the eastern U.S., boosting demand for the heating fuel.

Gas advanced as much as 1.2 percent as weather will be colder than normal east of the Mississippi River from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, according to the National Weather Service. Today’s gain won’t keep the futures from their third straight yearly decline amid record stockpiles and higher production.

Persian Gulf gasoil supply tightness in 2011 may push up premium

Singapore (Platts) - The premium for 500 ppm sulfur gasoil loading from the Persian Gulf could rise next year on higher regional demand as well as more cargoes moving to Africa and the Red Sea area, trading sources said this week.

With Saudi Aramco switching to cleaner fuels in Gizan, in the Red Sea area, the supply of the 500 ppm sulfur gasoil grade is expected to tighten as the refiner pulls in term barrels, they added.

Mexico: Plan for New Tuxpan Port Project Unveiled

The new Tuxpan Port project involves the construction of a new green-field 51,520 m2 cargo terminal container facility with the capacity of 90,000 TEUs, and a liquids terminal providing liquids through-put for Pemex. They already have the concession, the land, the EIA, and SEMARNAT Approval, and the experience (API Acapulco, fleet of 50 vessels of different sizes, etc.).

Analysis: Oilfield Service Providers Seek to Restructure Businesses

The recent boom in shale gas capital expenditures (CAPEX) in the U.S. and similar boom in oil sands activity in Canada has not been enough to compensate for the decline in upstream CAPEX in other areas. As a result, oilfield service providers have restructured their businesses in a variety of ways over the past decade, from changing their country of incorporation, including moving corporate headquarters outside the U.S., and establishing new manufacturing and research and development facilities in countries outside the U.S.

What Norway's Statoil did, that Saudi Aramco could not do

After 77 years Saudi Aramco still imports technologies. Why” And why did they stop building schools when people were waiting for them to build a university or an institute outside their camp? When I heard of the multibillion projects that were planned by Saudi Aramco, I opened next day’s Saudi newspapers hoping to see a number of job openings for Saudis. In the Eest, when a billion dollar project is announced, there is an accompanying news items about the new jobs associated with the mega project. Otherwise public will have no interest in such news.

If Statoil can do for the Norwegians what they did with 2 million barrels per day, Saudi Aramco should do more for Saudis with about 10 million barrels per day.

Nepalis lose electricity for 11 hours a day as rivers dry up

The state-run Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has decided to increase power blackouts throughout the country from the current 56 hours a week to 74 hours beginning Wednesday because of a rapid decrease of water levels in rivers.

PG&E's low-level users get 1st boost since '01

Starting Saturday, some Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers will pay a little more to light their homes, while others will pay a little less.

Residential customers who use relatively little power will see their electricity rate go up 3 percent in the new year, PG&E reported Thursday. Those who use large amounts of electricity - typically, people with big homes or residents of California's hot interior valleys - will get a 2.6 percent rate cut.

India, Iran have not yet resolved oil payments impasse - sources

(Reuters) - India and Iran have not yet resolved an impasse over settlement of payments, three Indian industry sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, contradicting reported comments by Iran's deputy oil minister.

The talks will continue, all three sources said.

How will India and Iran settle their payments impasse?

(Reuters) - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said payments for trade with Iran should be settled outside the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), prompting fears in India that oil imports from the OPEC member could dry up without an alternative.

ANALYSIS - More Iran steps seen tougher sell to new U.N. council

(Reuters) - India and South Africa join the U.N. Security Council on Saturday, bolstering a bloc of countries on the powerful panel that may be reluctant to support new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

However, barring any shocking revelations about Tehran's nuclear program, some analysts suggest that Washington might forgo pursuing new U.N. steps against Iran in 2011. That may be good news for oil markets, since Western diplomats say Iran's energy sector would be the next logical area to sanction.

Running On Empty

We’ve allowed environmentalist ideology to make us dependent on foreign oil, while simultaneously hollowing out our infrastructure to the point where a gas crunch could bring chaos far beyond anything we’ve experienced thus far. Barack Obama’s complete transformation into Jimmy Carter will do more than bring back expensive gas you have to wait in line to buy, on alternate days, based on whether you’ve got an even- or odd-numbered license plate. Nearly everything depends on energy prices, from the cost of food to running our battalions of computer devices. The “green” future is a dark one of rolling blackouts, and cars you either can’t afford to buy, or can’t afford to fuel up. Prosperity depends upon freedom, including the freedom of movement. Your freedom of movement is not simply eroding naturally. Barack Obama is taking it away, very deliberately.

Texas Spared EPA Takeover of Carbon-Emission Rules as Court Weighs Move

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking control of Texas’s carbon-emission rules while it considers the state’s bid to fend off federal intervention.

Texas filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington yesterday, saying the EPA didn’t give adequate notice or allow for comments on a proposed federal takeover of the state’s air permitting program on Jan. 2. Last night, the court ordered the agency to hold off on its plan while the court considers whether to delay the move until the case is resolved.

State of Washington Might Tax Alternative Fuel Vehicles

The State of Washington is out with a plan to maintain current infrastructure and other needs due to the decline in gas tax revenues. Owners of alternative fuel vehicles may not be happy with what’s proposed.

Ukraine reduces stock of dangerous uranium

(CNN) -- The U.S. Energy Department announced Friday the shipment of 50 kilograms -- or 111 pounds -- of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine to Russia.

The removal of the uranium, which can be used in nuclear weapons, is part of a public commitment made by Ukraine at the Nuclear Security Summit in April to get rid of its entire supply within the next two years.

Oil is Not Food but Food is Oil: The Imminent Crisis of Food Production Dependence on Oil

Sadly absent from public discourse on oil-related issues is the impact of declining oil reserves on the production of food and the complete lack of interest of Western governments in pursuing alternate methods of feeding the world.

Oil Will Shoot Past $100 Per Barrel In 2011

Everyone is making predictions for 2011, most of which won't come true. In a couple of weeks, no one will care anyway, as they don't affect our day to day lives in any meaningful way outside of a select few.

Here is a prediction for 2011 that will come true and will affect all of us and potentially crimp the global economic recover: higher oil.

Castro lives to defy another pundit

“I believe we will see the outbreak of civil disturbance at many levels in 2010,” wrote James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency (2005) and guru to the gloomy. Leftist radicals. Rightist nuts. All sorts of scary, violent types will “come out of the woodwork,” Kunstler wrote in the last days of 2009.

Some of the signs at Tea Party rallies had nasty things written on them, and the crowds at Justin Bieber concerts got, like, totally out of control, but it’s still safe to say that Kunstler’s dire vision didn’t pan out. No matter, though. Kunstler’s got plenty more dire visions to share and you can be sure his legions of fans will find them just as frightening as all the other things he predicted that did not happen.

Protests intensify in Bolivia over gasoline prices

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Protests against a sharp increase in fuel prices intensified and turned violent in Bolivia on Thursday, as thousands of demonstrators demanded President Evo Morales' government repeal the hike.

Demonstrators filled the streets in La Paz and other cities to protest the higher prices, which were announced suddenly on Sunday. Gasoline prices immediately soared by 73 percent and diesel prices went up by 83 percent, leading to a rapid increases in transport and food prices in the Andean country.

Oil Heads For Highest Annual Close Since 2007

Oil, little changed in New York, headed for a second yearly advance and its highest year-end close since 2007, as evidence the global economic recovery is gaining momentum stokes demand for raw materials.

Oil at $90 brings small OPEC supply rise: survey

LONDON (Reuters) – OPEC output has risen slightly in December as Nigerian supply has increased, a Reuters survey found, indicating the group has yet to boost production substantially in response to prices at a 26-month high.

Supply from the 11 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with output targets, all except Iraq, has averaged 26.75 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, up from 26.70 million bpd in November, according to the survey of oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts on Thursday.

OPEC December Oil Output Rose to Four Month High, Bloomberg Survey Shows

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ oil output climbed to a four-month high in December, led by increases in Nigeria and Iraq, as rising oil prices encouraged production, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Iran sees global demand for OPEC oil in new year

(Reuters) - Iran's OPEC governor said on Friday the global demand for OPEC oil will increase in the new year, oil ministry website SHANA reported.

Gas prices: Bracing for more pain at the pump

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Drivers may be bracing for more pain at the pump in 2011 as gas prices continue to head higher.

The price for a gallon of gas has risen 3% over the past 11 days and last week, prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. At $3.072 a gallon, gas prices are still 25% below their peak of $4.114 set in July 2008.

Blame High Gas Prices on Laziness and Greed

Just as the U.S. economy seems about to recover, oil speculators are again ratcheting up gas prices. Don't let them get away with it.

Commodities Beat Stocks, Bonds, Dollar in 2010

Commodity prices beat gains in stocks, bonds and the dollar this year as China, the biggest user of everything from cotton to copper to soybeans, led the recovery from the first global recession since World War II.

Hyundai Heavy Says Orders to Jump 54% Next Year on Ship, Offshore Demand

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world’s largest shipyard, expects to boost orders 54 percent next year as growing global trade and increasing oil exploration spur demand for vessels and offshore equipment.

Is the Peak Oil Debate Really Dead?

Will the old peak hold? Or are we headed for a new all-time high in production levels? Maybe it's time for a new five-year bet: $200 by 2015? Was Simmons wrong—or just early?

In defense of doom and gloom in an oil-price bet

In peak-oil debates, Cornucopians cite improving technology that will extract fossil fuels more economically. New deposits will be found; new methods will retrieve more from existing reserves; new ways will emerge to affordably process less-than-sweet crude, such as Canada's tar sands.

But how far can we take such optimism? We all have faith that technology gets better, based on past experience. But does that belief justify policy decisions that affect lives years and decades from now? If the world today lived as if fossil fuels were abundant and affordable, would we bother conserving energy or investing in solar and other renewable sources? And if we chose the partying route, and our abiding faith in technology turns out to be wrong, what then? Will we have burned through our supplies and painted ourselves into an energy corner? The odds that we have hit peak oil may be low, but the consequences are huge if we don't pay attention to that risk.

Stuart Staniford: Deutsche Bank: $125 oil spike in 2012

This morning I read the Deutsche Bank report The End of the Oil Age: 2011 and beyond: a reality check. This is by analyst Paul Sankey and coauthors. Overall, the report is a pleasure to read: smart, interesting, broadly researched, well balanced. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in how peak oil is really likely to play out. Their thesis is similar to mine in broad strokes: oil production/demand will not rise too much more, the world will stay heavily auto-focussed, but there will be a shift to increasing electrification of the vehicle fleet.

There are some differences in detail in their view, and one concerns their thinking about the next oil shock, where I think they are missing a key point. Their basic schema of the next oil shock is similar to mine: as demand rises particularly in China, the Middle East, and the rest of the developing world, OPEC spare capacity will be used up, and then there will be another price spike.

OPEC Caught Lying: $200 Oil is Imminent

Now that the Peak has passed, all sorts of interesting tidbits are emerging.

Take the December 13th BusinessWeek article that declared OPEC is cheating the most since 2004...

Book Review – The Impending World Energy Mess

The authors don’t use the term “peak oil” because world oil production, they say, has been and is likely to stay on the current fluctuating world oil production plateau for a few more years before the onset of production decline.

So what’s the problem you ask? We have hoards of alternatives? According to the authors, the realities of these alternatives are that they are “very costly and insufficient to satisfy our overall energy needs, let alone our liquid fuel needs.” The energy sources they discuss are numerous including biofuels, solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas, hydrogen, electric vehicles, oil shale, coal to liquids, and more. But let’s delve into this deeper using biofuels, more specifically, corn ethanol as an example.

Nigerian president's adviser on Niger Delta quits

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's presidential adviser on Niger Delta affairs has resigned to run in governorship elections next April, a setback for the government as violence in the oil region has resurfaced in the last month.

Petrobras 2010 oil output seen record at 2 mln bpd

(Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras said Thursday its oil production in Brazil in 2010 would reach a record high, topping 2 million barrels per day (bpd) after several new wells came on line.

Daily average output in December was also a record, at around 2.120 million bpd, up from the previous record of 2.033 million bpd registered in April.

Iran says payments impasse with India resolved: report

(Reuters) - Iran said an Friday that an oil payments impasse with India had been resolved by changing the currency of settlement, according to its Fars news agency, which would preserve a trade in crude worth $12 billion a year.

Central bank officials from Iran and India met in Mumbai on Friday in an effort to keep the oil trade running, and forcing New Delhi to strike a delicate balance between its energy needs and its global diplomatic interests.

US rig count down by 20 this week

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 20 this week to 1,694.

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. said Thursday 919 rigs were exploring for gas and 765 for oil. Ten were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, the count was 1,189.

Indonesia to Offer Geothermal Drilling Rights in Block Tender Next Year

Indonesia will seek bids for 50 new oil and gas blocks next year through tenders and direct offers to help boost output, said Evita Legowo, director general of oil and gas at the Energy and Minerals Resources Ministry.

Gas field size puts Israel as exporter: US firm

JERUSALEM (AFP) – A gas field offshore from Israel holds an estimated 450 billion cubic metres (16 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, positioning the Jewish state as an exporter, Noble Energy said on Wednesday.

The new estimates, announced by the US firm which has a major stake in the field, said the Leviathan gas field dwarfs Israel's next biggest offshore field, Tamar.

Israel revels in gas find but faces export hurdles

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel can look forward to long-term energy security after the discovery of a huge off-shore natural gas field but obstacles lie ahead in exporting its output, experts said Thursday.

Israel will find it hard to secure foreign buyers as European gas consumption is weakening while competition is stiff in the expanding Asian market, they said.

Discovery of giant gasfield sparks frenzy in Israel

The Leviathan gas find may improve Israel's energy security but is no panacea for regional peace.

Gazprom, Belarus Poised to Avoid Cut-Off of Gas Supplies on New Year's Day

OAO Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas, will probably avoid the disruptions to deliveries that arose at the start of previous years because of disputes with Ukraine and Belarus.

“At least as of today we have agreements with all our key partners,” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 29. “Existing contracts that are signed and have been fulfilled so far.”

Direct supply could lower gas price for Germany -- Gazprom chief

BERLIN (Itar-Tass) -- Direct supplies can lower the gas price for consumers in Germany, the Russian Gazprom gas company's head Alexei Miller said in an interview to the German weekly Spiegel.

"If we could supply gas directly to consumers, Germans would pay less," he said.

Mexico finds 4 more illegal pipeline taps

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's state-owned oil company says it has found four more illegal taps drilled into pipelines by fuel thieves.

Apache, Woodside Halt Western Australian Oil Fields as Cyclone Develops

Apache Corp. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. halted oil fields off Western Australia because of a tropical low system forecast to become a cyclone. Inbound iron ore shipments to Port Hedland are also suspended.

Woodside stopped production at its Vincent and Cossack oil fields, Laura Hammer, a spokeswoman, said from Perth today. Apache has halted its Stag and Legendre fields, according to David Parker, a Perth-based company spokesman.

Floods bring Queensland coal sector to a halt

AUSTRALIA'S $50 billion coal industry may miss large export contracts as a result of flooding in central Queensland.

Wesfarmers yesterday added its name to the list of coal producers that have suspended operations as the floods created the worst conditions in 50 years.

Wesfarmers said it had been forced to suspend work at its Curragh North mine.

''Following heavy rain from the aftermath of Cyclone Tasha, major flooding is occurring in central Queensland,'' Wesfarmers told the stock exchange.

The company said some access roads to Blackwater had been closed, preventing many employees from returning to work following the Christmas public holidays.

Related: Australia floodwaters cover area bigger than Texas

Another Setback for a West Coast Coal Port

When my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal wrote last month about the growth of coal exports to China from all over the world, she noted that the Port of Tacoma in Washington had nixed proposals for a new coal export terminal in the area.

Now the state government has blocked a proposed export terminal in the southwestern corner of Washington, which could have provided another outlet for coal companies like Peabody Energy, which have found in Asia a growing market for coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

Jindal Petroleum May Build First Oil Refinery at Georgia Site

Unit Jindal Petroleum Ltd. may set up the refinery with a capacity of 1 million metric tons near fields it’s exploring in Georgia to “test waters,” Sushil K. Maroo, group chief financial officer, said in an interview in New Delhi yesterday.

Jindal Steel, controlled by lawmaker Naveen Jindal, joins Indian Oil Corp., the country’s largest refiner, in seeking to build a processing plant overseas to sell fuels. The group has five oil and gas blocks in Georgia and one in Bolivia and is looking for more areas in and around Kazakhstan, Maroo said.

Russia Starts Oil Pipeline to China as Putin Attempts to Diversify Exports

Russia will start its first oil pipeline to China at midnight, increasing crude exports to the world’s largest energy consumer.

OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, and state-run pipeline operator OAO Transneft will sell China 15 million metric tons (110 million barrels) a year for 20 years through the East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline, known as ESPO, after China provided the companies $25 billion in oil-backed loans to finance construction and development of deposits.

Venezuela's Chavez devalues bolivar currency again

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government devalued its bolivar currency for the second time in 12 months on Thursday, abolishing the lowest exchange rate as the OPEC member fights to revive its economy.

Intended to spur local production in the largely import-dependent nation, the announcement followed a central bank estimate that the economy contracted 1.9 percent during 2010 -- Venezuela's second straight year of recession.

U.S., Venezuela evict ambassadors in diplomatic spat

WASHINGTON — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dared the U.S. to expel his ambassador in retaliation for his move to reject the U.S. envoy to the South American country.

On Wednesday, that's just what the Obama administration did.

Transocean Challenges Agency Authority to Probe Blast

A federal panel that investigated the fatal 2005 Texas refinery blast that resulted in a $50 million fine for BP Plc hasn’t got the authority to probe the company’s April deep-water drilling disaster, according to rig owner Transocean Ltd.

Under federal law, floating rigs are exempt from oversight by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Rachel G. Clingman, an attorney for Transocean, said in a letter to the agency obtained by Bloomberg. Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon that burned and sank after BP’s Macondo well erupted April 20, triggering the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.

Ken Feinberg Paying Stephen Gillers, NYU Professor, With Money From BP Oil Spill Claims Fund For Legal Ethics Advice

NEW ORLEANS — A law professor being paid $950 an hour with BP's money has declared that the czar of the $20 billion claims fund for Gulf oil spill victims is independent of the oil giant.

Fund administrator Ken Feinberg said Thursday he has agreed to pay New York University professor Stephen Gillers for his advice. Since being hired, Gillers has written a letter stating that Feinberg is neutral and not subject to BP's direction or control.

Oil spill clarifies road map for sea turtle recovery

While nearly all the rescued sea turtles were visibly oiled, to our surprise, most of the dead stranded sea turtles had no observable oil on their bodies and were in good health prior to their death. Necropsies (autopsies on animals) on more than half of 600 carcasses point to the possibility that a majority may have drowned in fishing gear. The evidence is that natural causes of death were ruled out, and that shrimp and fish - not a natural part of turtle diets - were found in their digestive tracts.

Improved fuel efficiency leads SUVs to a comeback

Sport-utility vehicles and crossovers in November hit their highest share of new vehicle sales in eight years compared with sales of cars and pickups, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The analysis of Edmunds.com data for November sales since 2002 shows an uptick for SUVs and crossovers (SUV-style vehicles on a car chassis) to 32.4% of new vehicle sales last month, up from 29% a year ago and 25.9% in 2008.

Will 2011 be a stretch of bad road for autos?

The other big story of 2011 will likely be what share of that volume is captured by the new wave of “electrified” vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Both makers claim strong initial demand. But will it hold, considering the trade-offs in terms of range and price that go along with battery power? The coming months could begin the wholesale shift away from petro-power, or they could show that we will be dependent on oil for the foreseeable future.

Electric Cars Get Charged for Battle

The first serious contenders for a mass-scale electric car are on the road. They've already changed GM and Nissan; will they change the world?

High-Speed Rail: Obama's High-Stakes Gamble

The master builder Robert Moses had a legendary strategy for ambitious public-works projects: start now, and figure out how to finish later. "Once you sink that first stake," he liked to say, "they'll never make you pull it up." And that, in essence, is the Obama Administration's strategy for spreading high-speed passenger rail across the United States.

Adapting for a brighter future

SO , there goes 2010, and as 2011 rolls in we see petrol going over $2.00/litre in town, which probably means $2.50 up the Coast. This year the International Energy Agency referred to Peak Oil in the past tense, saying output will never again get to the “all-time peak of 70 million barrels per day reached in 2006”. Global demand for oil is increasing exponentially and the cost of production is going up as the stuff gets harder to extract.

The good news is that while the New Zealand government has acknowledged the need to plan for life beyond cheap oil, so have a growing number of Gisborne people. Planning to adapt our lifestyles seems like a better strategy than having change forced on us.

Peak Oil, International Trade And Population

The question facing humanity is--- is there any energy source which humanity can use in the future which will permit international trade to continue once oil is no longer available to humanity?

Healthy Ontario farms will help us as supplies decline

John P. Oliver says our conventional supplies of oil, food and water will be surpassed by global demand by 2050. Peak oil — the point when the flow of oil has reached its maximum level and supplies begin to decline — is a commonly discussed scenario, but discussions surrounding peak water and peak food are less prominent. Peak water—lack of availability of clean, fresh water—may be 30 to 40 years away, Oliver says, but peak oil and peak food—a shortage of available food staples—are only five to 20 years into the future.

'Harvesting History': Two local women cover rich ground in a new book on Amherst agriculture

Near the end of the book, retired architect Chris Riddle describes the threat of climate change and "peak oil," the theory that reserves are diminishing and oil will become much more expensive, and sees an opportunity to enhance local agriculture.

"Will it be affordable or desirable for us to haul our strawberries and lettuce from the San Joaquin Valley, our tomatoes from Florida, our beef from Brazil, our cheese from Wisconsin and our apples from Washington state or Chile?" he asks.

Compassionate Resistance - #3 - Don't Feed the Beast

Start living as if peak-oil has already happened - because it has. The price of gasoline is going to continue to go up. Families are spending more and more of their income on filling up the gas tank. Don't wait until only the wealthy can buy gas to start planning your no-gas strategy. Let your local government know that this is NOT the time to be cutting back on public transportation and increasing fares. Investing money in building roads is insanity! If your family can manage on one vehicle, sell the one that uses the most gas and start monitoring how much unnecessary driving you might be doing. If you take a bike to a local farmer's market you will only be able to buy what you can take home on your bike - it really make you more conscious of what you're buying, and you'll get some exercise in the bargain. If you are looking for a place to live, be sure access to public transportation and walkability to stores, work and school are on your checklist.

For energy, no more ‘business as usual’

Sustainability and “green” business have become common topics in many corporate boardrooms, but there’s one issue that most firms have all but ignored, at least publicly: the growing risk of an energy crunch. As we enter 2011, however, that’s an issue they can no longer afford to dismiss.

A Last-Minute Choice by Texas and Vermont

Vermont and Texas, the odd couple of nuclear waste disposal, are proceeding with a plan to allow 36 other states to use a dump site under development in west Texas, despite the misgivings of Vermont’s incoming governor, Peter Shumlin, about the move.

U.S. helps Ukraine send enriched uranium to Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a secret operation to secure nuclear material, the United States has helped Ukraine send to Russia enough uranium to build two atomic bombs.

This week's removal of more than 110 pounds of highly enriched uranium followed a pledge by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to get rid of all of his country's highly enriched uranium by April 2012. The material will be blended down in Russia, rendering it useless for bomb making.

Utilities Seek Fresh Talent for Smart Grids

GRANVILLE, Ohio — Speaking to a classroom of seventh and eighth graders at the middle school here, Lisa Magnuson shared a popular dictum from the power industry: if Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, could see how his technology had evolved over the last century, how would he react?

“He’d be amazed,” offered one student, mentioning that his cellphone can play music, display movies and send text messages.

And if Thomas Edison, the pioneer of power distribution, were to return?

“He’d probably go, ‘Wow, everything is still the same,’ ” said Ms. Magnuson, the director of marketing for Silver Spring Networks, which produces hardware and software to make the electric grid as smart as the phone network.

A green technology wish list for 2011

The green tech industry will fondly remember 2010. After enduring collapsing prices and lackluster demand in 2009, solar companies saw panel shipments grow by an astounding 93 percent to 125 percent this year. Waiting lists for the new electric cars from Nissan and General Motors (GM) exceeded production quotas. Meanwhile, voters in California rejected a plan to suspend its carbon regulations while Washington extended tax credits and subsidies for solar, wind and biofuels for another year.

So what happens next?

Christmas trees could make a great green fuel

Once the tinsel and baubles have been removed, many of our Christmas trees end up in the trash. Soon they could be put to better use, however: a special roasting process could make it economically viable for power stations to burn large quantities of biomass, such as pine and spruce trees, instead of coal.

New Year's ball sets energy example

The ball, which drops 77 feet down a pole as New Yorkers count down the final minute to 2011, is lit by 32,256 Philips LEDs (light-emitting diodes), with each 48-diode module using just 22 watts of electricity. As a result, the lights consume about the same amount of energy per hour as it takes to operate two traditional home ovens.

Groups Call Government’s Coal Ash Analysis Skewed

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning for the first time to regulate the disposal of coal ash, the potentially hazardous residue of the burning of coal in power plants and other large industrial facilities.

The proposed rules are the direct result of a disastrous spill of hundreds of millions of gallons of coal ash two years ago this month, set off when the wall of a power plant’s containment pond collapsed near Kingston, Tenn.

Perry taking his rebellion national

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Perry's anti-Washington rhetoric, which helped hand him a re-election landslide, is about to be put to the test as he girds for a series of states' rights clashes with the federal government.

The Lone Star State governor's drive to gain more control of clean air regulations, Medicaid health coverage for the poor, immigration and border security will sharpen the national attention on Perry just as he becomes the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

More U.S. cities dimming the lights

"It's a broad environmental issue, and it's also a safety issue," Parks says. "It's a pure waste of energy, dollars, and it contributes to greenhouse emissions. ... For every watt of electricity used needlessly, somewhere a coal power plant is generating that electricity."

China urges more efforts for forest protection in next 10 years

China announced Wednesday that it would continue and expand its forest protection program in the coming 10 years as part of an effort to safeguard the national ecological security and tackle climate change.

U.S. Analyst: China May Be 'Likely Bright Spot' in Asia Climate Action

The government is likely to include this in its 12th five-year plan from 2011 to 2015 and could outline fledging market-based steps to curb carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

"It has begun to engage provinces and municipalities in strategies to achieve the target. This is very exciting and shows the level of focus of the government on reducing carbon intensity," Morgan said.

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

The US EPA announced its intention to deliver yet another body blow to the power and petrochemical industries, piling on another layer of unneeded, unwanted and economically disastrous regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Before we consider the agency’s latest move, let’s take a moment to consider all that has been done and will be done in the name of fighting the non-existent problem of global warming. States and the feds are already moving forward with at least six major regulatory programs designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus decimate the energy sector:

E.P.A. Limit on Gases to Pose Risk to Obama and Congress

WASHINGTON — With the federal government set to regulate climate-altering gases from factories and power plants for the first time, the Obama administration and the new Congress are headed for a clash that carries substantial risks for both sides.

An Evangelical Backlash Against Environmentalism

Some evangelists argue that Christians must resist the "Green Dragon" of environmentalism.

Climate PR effort heats up

Hey America! Are you ready to get wonky on global warming?

After a year that started with fallout from the “Climategate” e-mail release, saw the cap-and-trade bill die in Congress, and ended with a gang of Republican climate skeptics winning House and Senate seats, global warming experts are going back to basics.

Why even skeptics should tackle climate change

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett may have hit upon something with a cartoon he drew for last year's climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. It shows a scientist addressing a large audience at a climate summit. A spectator at the left side of the panel asks his neighbor: "What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?" The answer emerges on the right side of the panel where the following list appears on a chalkboard: energy independence, preserve rainforest, sustainability, green jobs, livable cities, renewables, clean water and air, healthy children, etc., etc.

There is indeed something for almost everyone in climate protection.

Massachusetts Sets Targets to Slash Carbon Emissions

Massachusetts officials on Wednesday announced a plan to curb heat-trapping gases emitted by homes, cars and businesses in the state by 25 percent below 1990 levels over the next decade.

The targets set by the plan are the highest allowed under climate legislation passed by the state in 2008 and among the most stringent in the nation, placing Massachusetts in the company of California, New Mexico and other states that have taken strong action to address global warming.

Inuit lives and diets change as ice shifts

Climate change is altering diets and lifestyles among Inuit people, according to a scientist who has studied the human face of global warming in the Arctic.

Barry Smit, a professor at the University of Guelph, Canada, has spent five years leading research projects into how melting ice and changes in wildlife habits are impacting the lives and livelihoods of far northern communities.

Among his most striking findings was that increasing difficulty in hunting for traditional food was leading to much more junk food in the Inuit diet.

Re: Ed Wallace's "Blame High Gas Prices on Laziness and Greed", up top:

Wallace hates ethanol, loves natural gas and electric cars. He also hates oil speculators.

The only problem is that this is not a very realistic view of the world. It would be nice if the economic world were not made of the lazy and greedy. But it ain't so, at least for now.

He is disconnected from the real world in his energy analysis IMO.

His anti ethanol rant the other day where he called ethanol insane was so over the top that I decided it was not worth commenting on. But his attack today on the oil market is nearly as goofy.

He seems to think there is some connection between inventories and market prices. I have debunked that silly idea several times. I have pointed out that in the corn market, for example, when inventories are high after harvest prices frequently go up until about July.

Then as the bins are emptied the normal situation is that prices fall even though inventories are also falling. Then after harvest the whole thing repeats. This year was unusual in that prices rose at harvest. I am not surprised that oil prices rise even though there are adequate inventories in the U.S., but Wallace seems to be.

The corn market and the oil market are not any more evil or greedy that any other market. They are simply doing their job which is to look into the future and set a price in the present for what that future situation needs so that when it arrives, there will be no shortage. Prices will be adjusted up or down to make sure that supply meets demand at that point in time.

That is the function of futures markets.

People who do not understand like Wallace see evil, greed and conspiracy. Wallace is not above distorting facts as one of his commenters points out. I know he isn't above it too, based on his ethanol attacks. Calling for stopping ethanol insanity is the same rhetorical trick as asking when did you stop beating your wife.

I regularly visit his site even though he hates ethanol. I also visit "The Truth About Cars" even though the editors there also hate ethanol.

But Wallace's world view is so disconnected from the real world situation one wonders how he hopes his shift to natural gas and electric cars is going to happen. There is no government subsidy program to convert mass amounts of cars to natural gas.

Automakers are loath to change even when it involves a couple of hundred dollars as in the case of ethanol. They fight it like death.
So how are cars using natural gas going to come about? Wallace doesn't say.

As for electric cars, the problem is even worse. In theory it might work, but in the real world electric cars are expensive and people are leery of them. Even if they were to get common enough to make a difference in oil consumption, can the grid and the electricity production capacity in place support them?

Again Wallace ignores the real world situation in favor of his over the top delusional rhetoric.

x - Heard an interesting bit about eth the other day on NPR. The commenter seemed to have a good handle on the situation re: eth imports from Brazil. In addition to the $.36/gallon fed subsidy on eth production there's something like a $.56/gallon import tariff. The common position is that both are clear violations of the WTO agreements. In fact, though it hasn't been publicized much, Brazil beat the US up pretty badly over a couple of other commodity issues and won at the WTO. Bz has just elected a new prez and the word on the street is that he's going to drag the US before the WTO and the smart money says they easily win over the eth situation. I suppose that would be good news to the Bz eth producers and the US gasoline blenders but not very good news for the domestic eth producers dependent upon the current rules to help keep their heads above water.

Brazil's new president is a she.


A slip of the tongue...thanks Jack

In addition to the $.36/gallon fed subsidy on eth production...

The federal subsidy for ethanol, extended through 2011, is $0.45/gallon. There are lots of state subsidies as well. The federal subsidy is paid to the oil companies for something they are already compelled by law to do, which is why I say it is a complete waste of money.

Thanks Robert. I didn't think I was remembering the number correctly. The reporter didn't mention the state subsidies either. I assume thy would also be targeted.

Re: An Evangelical Backlash Against Environmentalism

There is a comment on RealClimate to the effect that the group mentioned in this article, The Cornwall Alliance, is an astroturf group. See comment 39 here. The list of "advisers" appears to have no climate scientists of any description and their climate rebuttal points to videos which show Lord Monckton, a known denialist without creds who has been proven to be wrong in many details...

E. Swanson

These people do not really read the bible or understand it in spite of all their learnin' about the good book. I know many on this blog hate religion but the book says a great deal about appropriate stewardship and it (religion) is the fastest way to change the most people (for good or ill).


I think you are right about religion being the fastest way to change most people; history supports this generalization. But what is not clear to me is the future of religion in the U.S. Mainline Protestant churches have been losing membership for decades while the evangelicals gain membership and political influence. The Roman Catholic church seems to be declining in the U.S., not least due to the attempted coverups of sexual abuse of children by priests.

The decline of oil production is going to bring very hard economic times, and during hard times people will look to their religions for support. But what kind of religion will they flock to? The old denominations? New forms of Christianity? New non-Christian religions?

As I've said before, religion is going to be a wild card over the next fifty years.

Lets hope for Jainism ( http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/299478/Jainism ) rather than the more toxic religions such as Islam or Christianity.
Religion is almost a meaningless term, such as sports- one can play badminton, or participate in Thai Kick Boxing.

Religious perrenialists really need to examine their beliefs.

Regardless we are headed back to the Dark Ages in America and an increase in all sorts of strange beliefs will be one manifestation.

Again, the progressives lost. They have lost the battle with the neofeudalists and we should have seen this coming going all the way back to the election of Reagan, and perhaps even longer than that.

And quite frankly, bring it on. America fully deserves what it is getting.

The Creationists can have Kentucky if they want.

And happy New Year everybody! May your preparations continue to go well in 2011, no matter what they are.

In Kentucky, the tools of civilization devour the earth’s flesh, digging deep into muscle and sinew to deliver the life giving energy for the spreading infection as Creationists revel in the magic space that stretches from ear to ear, joyously anticipating the grand opening of their next hallucinatory theme park. Isn’t everything based on fossil fuels just a hallucinatory theme park.

Where are the adults but reveling in their temporary abundance for which they will pay the price of watching their children and grandchildren perish. What else could a lump of pleasure seeking cells do but run its pleasure seeking program, somatic cells providing safe harbor for the gametes that will fuse and begin a new being. We could learn something from life, but we won’t. Fossil fuel civilization will not have a rebirth and neither will many humans who wait on technological miracles in the face of its collapse.

Everyone must make their own decision whether the towers of civilization will stand or will collapse in an unprecedented fashion. Here in Kentucky, I’m already headed for the door.

Good luck on your journey in 2011.


People in general do not like to talk about religion - TOD is no exception! Somehow it makes them feel uneasy.

But there is no way around to admit, IMHO of course, that religion is one of the biggest hindrances - if not THE biggest - to equality between all people and nations.

Look to history!

For starters read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_concordats

The Vatican's Concordat with Hitler-Germany and many other European/other Countries are still in effect today. The economic consequences - tax-exemptions etc. - are mind-boggling. Not to long ago the Catholic Church owned ~85% of all the land of Mexico! Blessing of weapons on both sides - slogans like: Fuer Gott, Fuehrer und Vaterland" were used in churches to recruit young man into the war.


One must remember that the Catholic raised and Protestant conditioned Hitler took his cause of war for an expanded Germany and his fight against the Jews, for Providence's sake, and a fight for the Lord. He appealed to his fellow German Christians to put him in power and he achieved popular support. I find it unimaginable that Hitler, without this religious foundation, could have churches, politicians and citizens electing him into office, much less have acted against the Jews.

But this cannot only be said about Catholic or Protestant beliefs:

The book: "Terror in the Mind of God - The Global Rise of Religious Violence" Google Books states:

"Religion seems to be connected with violence everywhere...In recent years, religious violence has erupted among right-wing Christians in the United States, angry Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, quarreling Hindus and Muslims in South Asia, and indigenous religious communities in Africa and Indonesia. ...The individuals involved in these cases have relied on religion to provide political identities and give license to vengeful ideologies."

I could go on and on.
If history is any indication, than it is organized religion of any denomination, which is the greatest hindrance for peace and security and equality on earth.

People might not realize this. But Governments in the end will! They have to! Economic circumstances will force them (see the wiki article up top).

But don't get me wrong. What I have said about religion has nothing to do with the message of the Bible, a book I hold in high regard.

Besides the fact that the Bible does not teach Trinity, Purgatory, Hell fire, 6000 years of Creation, etc etc, it is a guide meant to help us.
As "CEOJr1963" states:

I think that on the outside of it, these people need to get their readings of the bible on a more even keel.

I could not agree more!

Now back to PO and TOD.
I have been reading this blog for many years. There is/was a lot of discussion about the details of mitigation of the effects of PO. But not much about the underlaying causes of the mess we as a human society are in.

Now imagine:

> all dividing religion is gone
> all greedy companies are gone
> all corrupt politicians are gone

and than try to solve the problems of PO! ==> Piece o'cake!

And this is the Message of the Bible - nothing else!


I predict that as gasoline gets expensive, people will stop driving to church, and that will change what kind of church they go to. These Evangelical churches have huge parking lots. Mainline protestant churches were built on the notion that people should go to the church of their formal parish. The contract between churchgoer and preacher was different: the church had to be a lot more tolerant of members whose beliefs weren't a match with the cchurch creed on every little detail. And members were expected to keep going to the church of their parish even if they had thier differences in belief.

Peak oil will be a boon too the Episcopals.

I've had discussions with those of strong religious beliefs about Peak oil and I get the same reply that it says in the Bible that we will be supplied with what we need.I always reply I'll agree with you but does the Bible give at what price we'll be paying?

This isn't about true religion. It's about powerful shepherds herding their flocks.........on second thought, that's what 'religion' is, it seems.

Ghung - I see it pretty much as you do. Especially when it comes to the Repub and Demo "religions": it's not so much about which "bible" they're reading but their interpretation. In the end it seems to boil down to the faith you have in a particular shephard...be it President Obama or Sarah. And as we all know faith trumps facts for many.

You can proof almost anything you "want" to proof in the Bible if you rip single verses out of context without consideration for the overall message of this very valuable book!

Was/is done by all major religion and smaller groups (at last count over 30.000!!!! which base their believes more or less on the Bible)

Prime example: Creationists. They "proof" with the Bible that the creation of earth took 6000 literal years - which the Bible of course does not say!


PS.: not enough time right now to respond to Don's post. Will do later


I do not hate religion.

I do not accept that religion being used as the framework for U.S. government (at Federal, State, or local levels), not do I accept the premise of religion being used by any level of government to make decisions about specific issues.

As long as people practice their religion in such a way as to not force their views on others, not harm others, and not influence public policy and laws, folks are constitutionally protected to practice and believe whatever they want.

I am a darn sight tired of seeing politicians don the battle dress of the favored religion in the U.S. and then attempt to pummel every idea and group of people that they do not favor with speeches gilded with code-words and dog whistles from their good book, intended to mesmerize their base and keep them from thinking critically.

Also, I have observed first-hand (in the U.S. military including the federal civilian and contractor folks) that many people who defend religion are really only defending the majority religion in the U.S., and would not don their swords and shields to defend other religions.

The Oily Operators Behind The Religious Climate Change Denial Front Group, Cornwall Alliance

The Cornwall Alliance appears to be a creation of a group called the James Partnership, http://www.jamespartnership.org/ >>> http://www.cvtogether.org/aboutus.html a nonprofit run by Chris Rogers and Peter Stein, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Rogers, who heads a media and public relations firm called CDR Communications, collaborates with longtime oil front group operative David Rothbard, the founder and President of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Jacques Villarreal, a lower level staffer at CFACT, for his James Partnership group. In the past, Rogers’ firm has worked for the Bush administration and for the secretive conservative planning group, the Council for National Policy.

According to public records, the following entities are all registered to the same address, 9302-C Old Keene Mill Road Burke, VA 22015, an office park in suburban Virginia:

– Rogers’ consulting firm, CDR Communications
– Rogers’ nonprofit hub, the James Partnership
– The Cornwall Alliance
– The new “Resisting the Green Dragon” website

[links added]


According to CFACT, it is mainly funded by private citizens. Funding also comes from corporations in the energy and automobile industries, as well as foundations. Donors have included ExxonMobil Corporation (which no longer funds CFACT),[4] Chevron Corporation,[5][unreliable source?] DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund,[5][unreliable source?] the U.S. Council on Energy Awareness,[6] the Carthage Foundation, and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.[7][unreliable source?] CFACT does not currently receive grants from Exxon.

Conspiracy theorists could have a great time with this. CVT (see link, above), operating under the umberella of 'The James Partnership' is promoting evangellical involvement in Uganda, which brings to mind the powerful and secretive 'Fellowship' (aka 'The Family') whose involvement in Uganda has been noted in the past:


It may be 'flow chart time' ;-)

Thanks for the information about The Cornwall Alliance, which was new to me. I left a comment about them over at RealClimate...

E. Swanson

"Lord" Monckton is an embarassment to Britain. He has absolutely no scientific background whatsoever. His studied classics at university and then went into journalism. He has never been an MP but was for a short time one of many 'advisers' to Margaret Thatcher in the 80s. That is his only basis for his claim to be an expert on climate science. His father [edit: grandfather] was made a hereditary peer and so Monckton picked up the title 'Lord' upon his death. He has never sat in Britain's second chamber, the House of Lords, but somehow that seems to escape interviewers and organisations in the US who swoon all over him because of his title.

There are scientists of good standing who refute climate change but Monckton is not one of them. He has never written a peer-reviewed paper in his life. Anyone who takes him seriously is in need of a New Year's trip to the shrink.

He is a joke. Nothing more.

EDIT: his grandfather was made a hereditary peer, not father

I have friends who seem to think that man can't change things, even had an arguement about it over my holiday trip. They did admit that man can produce local climate changes, just not get the bigger picture that all the little changes amass to bigger ones.

As with a lot of issues, once you add in a religious turn, you can get into murky waters. I think that on the outside of it, these people need to get their readings of the bible on a more even keel. But then again I go to a Lutheran Church, not one they mention.

The world is not a prefect place and man has been screwing things up for a long time. Right now, we just don't know all the things that could go wrong with the place we live. But you can't really expect to deny that humans can ruin the world for the rest of species, when you look at all the toxic waste dumps we have made.

Just another, group that might be funded by those wanting to keep business as usual, and hooking it to a religious minded group for extra bang and whistles.

Being a christian doesn't automatically make you a denier of peak oil or climate change.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

Happy new year everyone.

Re: Deutsche Bank report quoted above

This report ignores the question where the primary energy for electric cars will come from. I also wonder whether they have done a proper car fleet transition. I have calculated that if 35% of all new cars were "green" cars, we would not have more than 20% of such cars in our car fleet by 2020

19/6/2010 M2 widening: Primary Energy Dilemma for cars http://www.crudeoilpeak.com/?p=1631

The Deutsche Bank report does not say much on diesel and aviation fuels.

2/12/2010 Fly, but leave your car at home http://www.crudeoilpeak.com/?p=2320

And completely ignores fuel requirements for food production as calculated by Prof. Kjell Aleklett

60 mboe/d needed to feed world population @ 2,500 Kcal per person a day. See slide 40 in:


From above:

Gas field size puts Israel as exporter

This was on t.v. news yesterday also. And written: gas field for 100 years of gas.
I don't have the number of meters or feet of gasuse by Israel. How to see those 16 trillion cubic feet ?
'100 years of gas' was heard not long ago somewhere.

The gas will probably last longer than Israel will.

A 100 years supply of NG *for Israel* is not a big deal for the world as a whole, IMHO. Israeli politicians are already making noises about rewriting existing law with a view to recapturing the value of this discovery for the State of Israel.

Also, Israel's neighbors in the area don't seem to want the competition on the international market. IMHO, only way Israel will become a significant player in export is if Peace suddenly breaks out in the region. How likely is that?

I see this as enormously important for Israeli strategic survival. With gas-to-liquid technology it can provide fuel for Israeli Air Force until oil production of others in region declines to the point where no outsiders are any longer interested in supporting those others.

A 100 years supply of NG *for Israel* is not a big deal for the world as a whole,

Yes, that's the way it has to be seen. Same as a discovery of about 30 Gb of oil offshore Brazil. Is nice for the country, but what if the worldeconomy is bleeding (to death).

Israel is much smaller than Brazil. Brazil's find will not save the world from its future. Much less will Israel's find save it. Both show promise of reordering the lists of winners and losers. In a way, we are all losers at the end of the oil bubble, but some fall while others are still standing.

It's nice to see Granville, Ohio mentioned up top since Denison University s located there and it's my alma mater. It's hard to believe that was 51 years ago. I was doing an American Chemical Society certified chemistry major and there were only three of us - no grading curve there. We even had take-home tests. What PO'd me about this degree program was that there was no time to take just interesting courses; besides required courses, we had labs five afternoons a week plus Saturday morning. Out of four years I took one fun course - home design.


Hm. College of Wooster Chem Dept myself, class of '76.
If memory serves, a single course - Analytical - took up fifteen hours a week, not including homework. I took "fun" courses in Econ and German because of the requirements for the liberal-arts BA.
As an educator friend used to say, "There is no wasted knowledge."

I'm also a Denison alum - 1969. Glad to meet you, particularly here at TOD. I'm a lurker here for the most part but find the site extremely interesting.

Nepeta - I was class of 1960. It's funny to see my class in the class notes in the magazine being around the first page. We used to think how old those people must be. Weird to be one of them now. Todd PS - my wife is also a Denison grad from the same class.

I know what you mean. And don't the students look young now?! As for your wife, I guess you must have had a little free time, huh? (grin)

All through college I wanted to take "Scientific Glass Blowing," taught by our pre-historic Organic Chem professor, but I could never fit it in my schedule because of all of the other "required" courses... of course, there is not real need for scientific glass blowing, all our beakers, flasks etc are massed produced and will continue to be so indefinitely (sarc).

LOL Todd reminds me of my days in school.

I graduated second in my class in Chemistry.

There were two of us :)

What's up with the big spike in oil prices today?

Other commodities, especially metals, are up, Dollar down:


Just hit $92 before pulling back. It's the ghost of Matt Simmons - watch it shoot up to $200 before the end of the year :-)

Prices are being lead higher today by gasoline, and the futures contract for gasoline is based upon the New York harbor price.

The Colonial Pipeline, which moves supplies from near the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, had its gasoline pipeline temporarily shut. The Colonial Pipeline has been shipping gasoline at its maximum capacity for some weeks now, no doubt due to low supplies of gasoline stocks in the NE region the last few months.

12/31/10 Reuters News 17:28:42

Colonial says shut gasoline line back in service - spokesman

Koustav Samanta in Bangalore

Dec 31 (Reuters) - Colonial Pipeline's main gasoline line north of Collins, Mississippi, was back in full service by Thursday evening, company spokesman Steve Baker said.

The line was shut late Wednesday due to a mechanical failure involving a valve.

Check out the lower of the two charts, top right... the strangeness is not today's price, but the really weird one day drop yesterday.

What was THAT about?


"Utilities Seek Fresh Talent for Smart Grids "

This item gives me a hook for posting a question about "smart grid": Is there any plausible technological basis for believing this will ever be a real, implementable (and useful) technology? It seems to me that the objects that are actually handling the electric power are large and slow acting. The control system must pace its signals in such a way as to avoid unstable operation. When one of these large components fails, as must be provided for in the design, the only viable action is to drop loads in a way that localizes the disturbance. In other words, orderly shut-down of the grid. Where is the opportunity for 'smartness'? Where is the economic gain in preserving grid operation for a few extra seconds after an equipment failure? Can any smart control strategy increase the amount of spinning reserve in the grid? How?

These questions pertain to the electrical engineering issues. Yes, modern digital control systems can operate at speeds faster than lightening can strike, but to what benefit?

These questions seem like loaded special pleading, but who is answering them? What ARE the answers? Where can one read about them?

I notice none of the reporters ever go into detail about what a 'smart' grid is. If they mean that loads/appliances can be shutdown remotely according to priority rating based on different tariff, then fair enough. But UK electricity suppliers do nothing to encourage conservation eg tariffs drop with higher consumption, night discounts are discouraged by much higher day rates and off peak times of 01:00[!] to 07:00 etc

Our Bankrupt World: Economies of Consumption = Desperate Last Stands

The Fed and Administration are carrying out a failed longer term policy of focusing virtually exclusively on trying to stimulate consumption.... Keep an open mind and let's walk through a bit of history...

You know the fiscal remedies so far stateside. Cash for clunkers, home buyer tax credits, appliance purchase rebate credits, the recent one year drop in the employee side of payroll tax rates, etc. - every single initiative focuses on consumption as opposed to investment.

So stepping back just a bit, why have the Fed and Administration been focusing their efforts on consumption when it's clear that productive investment is the driver of longer term US economic growth?

...Unfortunately, as opposed to supporting and encouraging this transition from reliance on consumption (in a still highly levered economy) to increasing focus on productive investment, the Fed and Administration are acting in contravention. They appear blind to the messages of history. We're scratching our heads. To be honest, we have only one answer as to why this is happening, and we sound like conspiratorial maniacs when we voice it. Consumption favors the financial sector, especially if that consumption is even partially financed.

It's simply out in the open these days that the Fed and Administration have done everything in their power to protect the financial sector in the US, even at the expense of the taxpayers and small business. The same thing is happening in Europe.

Could it really be that this misguided and myopic focus on consumption as our current savior is simply an extension of that blanket of "protection" to the financial sector? Let's hope not. Let's just hope it's ignorance, ok?

We've wasted the past 20 years pursuing an economy of consumption, while our leaders did virtually nothing for productive mitigation for peak oil and climate change... nothing except capture and control oil-rich middle eastern countries.

Does anyone really believe there is any way in hell our confused, melting-pot population will suddenly become scientifically literate and rational, and vote our way out of this mess?

Or should we expect more President Obamas, Palins, Bush and Clintons in the future - "leaders" who will do little more than buy time for pillaging by the Financial Hooligans?

I think in 8 or 10 years you'll be looking back at the Bush and Obama administrations as the "good old days".

I would never look back to Bush with any nostalgia. Between the wars, torture, unfunded tax cuts and domestic spying, there is nothing that I can say I want to see again.

While we may dislike how Obama kowtows to Wall St, the Democrats help to keep the theocrats out of power.

The markets agree: US GDP is better off under Democratic leadership according to this article.



I think that no matter how well intentioned a Presidential candidate may be, he is disillusioned as soon as he steps into into the Presidential shoes - such as when he learns there really IS an Area-51 (just kidding).

Really, though, it's the deal-making with stodgy old politicians who can't see far enough beyond their next outing with their favorite lobbyist that stymies and eventually changes each new President into just another stodgy old politician!

aardy - "Or should we expect more President Obamas, Palins, Bush and Clintons in the future - "leaders" who will do little more than buy time for pillaging by the Financial Hooligans?" Unfortunately, IMHO, yes. Simply because these are the type of politicians that will garner the winning vote. The sad fact is we shouldn't expect the politicians to be any better at dealing with the situation (even though they may fully understand it) as long as the gen pop doesn't get. The smartest SOB in this country won't be elected if he doesn't feed the public what they esparately want to hear IMHO...an easy painless fix.

10+, Rockman.


The developed world - North America, Western Europe, and parts of East Asia - is in big trouble. It just is. Not that the developing countries will be better places to be, because they won't, but the developed world has a huge, unprecedented decline ahead of it.

The reason is a bit of a paradox. On one hand, being developed allows nations to take on more and more debt and thereby consumption, because they are deemed credit worthy and creditors believe, perhaps as they should, that they will get their money back. This is a result of the stable political and financial structures of the rich world.

On the other hand, there are limits to development and growth. For example, almost universally once poorer people become more educated and wealthy, they have a preference for fewer children, or at the very least are able to understand and utilize technologies like birth control and condoms more effectively, limiting total fertility and thereby rate of population growth.

This exerts limits on real GDP growth which means...the debts won't be paid back! Peak oil is there as well. Financialization and inflation are ways to paper over these issues.

Does anybody not understand this? The debt of the U.S., U.K., Eurozone, Australia, Japan etc. will never be paid. Ultimately, this will manifest in a drop in living standards in every last person living in these regions, save for the very wealthy.

The developing countries, well, they just don't have as far to fall. But the fall there might result in starvation, which of course is much worse.

In the rich world, you won't starve, but you will be a serf with no prospects.

I think, in fact the Fed and Treasury have found the fountain of youth! Since they are able to borrow from the future in unlimited amounts, the chickens need never come home to roost! They just kick the can of debt and debt servicing to the next generation and the next generation does the same thing and so forth. Remember, the future is forever and unlimited. It's like a never ending Ponzi because it never runs out of new suckers.

The only way this magic will fail is if somebody down the line doesn't understand how it works and screws up.

So true, OS. We have farther to fall in the race to the bottom. We all end up in the same place, but we will notice it more than others!

I started preaching this sermon way back in 1967 and 1968. I saw it then... how could we continue to earn 100 times more, on average, than workers elsewhere, and not expect manufacturers to set up there. As their wages went up, compared to ours, our standards of living would diminish. Eventually it would all even out, and we would be a long way below where we started. And, with so many more in the undeveloped nations, it seemed then that the rest of the world would not come up all that far.

of course, at the time I did not foresee PO, or the extreme polarity between rich and poor that is evident today, even in the US. Other than that, my vision is coming to horrifying life.


Does anybody not understand this? The debt of the U.S., U.K., Eurozone, Australia, Japan etc. will never be paid. Ultimately, this will manifest in a drop in living standards in every last person living in these regions, save for the very wealthy.

In the rich world, you won't starve, but you will be a serf with no prospects.

I've seen this idea here before, and I question it.

No one will be able to collect or enforce that debt. The debt may never be repaid, but the infrastructure, crumbling though it may be, will remain. The farmland will as well, to some extent, (depending on global warming,) and if things go bad soon enough, practical amounts of water.

The problem will be deciding who actually owns it, and who gets the food and water, which will be the real things of value.

I don't think the US is going to go adventuring off continent to find fuel as is frequently mentioned here (though you'll probably steal ours, because it will be too convenient not to.) You'll all be too busy shooting it out with each other. I don't think a man with a gun will starve because someone with food has a piece of paper that says the man with the gun can't have it.

And an astonishing number of Americans have both guns and training...even on the sort-of-left.

I don't think many Americans will starve in the wind-down. Lots of gunshot deaths is more probable. The really scary thing is that if you think about it long enough, it's better than mass starvation and disease. It would bring us into some kind of equilibrium more quickly (and I think that equilibrium will be a declining target for the rest of technological civilization), and limit the type of environmental damage a dying civilization might do (total deforestation and desertification of most of the continent come to mind... feel free to imagine your own disasters.) It will help preserve our precious bodily fluids, Mandrake...

Who the last man standing will be is anybody's guess... Idi Amin started out as a cook in the British Colonial Army, not with college and a trust fund.


Smart... ruthless... charismatic. Or some combination of those three. With a strong streak of crazy.

Maybe insanity will turn out to be a key evolutionary trait? It seems to be working out so far.


I think it is creepy if the US builds new ports to export coal to China. It means neither country meant what they said about cutting emissions. Since China uses about half the world's coal if they are running out I doubt they can import enough anyway. As in billions not millions of tonnes of coal.

I regard the extensive flooding of coal mines in Queensland Australia as poetic justice if it can be attributed in part to AGW. Blowback from the natural world.

plus 1 Boof

I think it is creepy if the US builds new ports to export coal to China. It means neither country meant what they said about cutting emissions.

Well, I think it is true that neither the US nor China is serious about cutting CO2 emisssions. However it is not true that the US is building a new coal terminal. The state government blocked it. US coal exporters will have to continue to use Canadian facilities.

While one Washington port after another is running into a buzz saw of environmental opposition, coal exports continue to flow west from Vancouver, British Columbia. Platt’s reported that Westshore Terminals in Vancouver, the largest coal export point in North America, expects to ship 26.2 million tons of coal in 2010, an 18 percent increase over 2009 levels.

Westshore Terminals , located just 32 kilometres from the heart of downtown Vancouver and less than half a mile from the US border, is situated on Roberts Bank in Delta, BC.

For the past decade, Westshore has also been the busiest single export coal terminal in all of North America, routinely shipping about 21 million tonnes of coal each year and bringing in billions of dollars of wealth to Canada.

In recent years, Westshore has proved to be the only viable choice on the west coast for United States coal mines in the region. US Shipments reached a record 2 million tonnes in 2009.

Regardless of what the US does, I think Australia and Canada will manage to keep China supplied with coal.

Boof - Creepy or not I still feel expanded coal utilization is inevitable if it remains the cheapest alt to oil/NG. The decision to mine/transport/burn coal will be made by the politicians. A politician’s life blood is not really campaign contributions but the votes they bring in. As economies slide deeper into periodic economic depressions as a result of PO the politicians will focus on the needs of the un/underemployed voting public. The many millions of folks who will suffer from GW many decades down the road won’t be voting. True, we may be “destroying for future generations” but we can’t see the faces of our descendents so it will be an easy choice for a great many: save your own life style and that of your children or that of our great great great grandchildren. Many folks offer heartfelt concerns about future generations but I’ m reminded of the very worn statement: there are no atheists in foxholes. I suspect there will be very few proactive environmentalists living out of their cars in a Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere who will be very concerned about GW.

Corn Rationing Needs to Begin

The corn market is extremely tight heading into the New Year, and analysts expect short supplies and heavy use to keep upward pressure on corn prices in 2011. "The corn market has one job and one job only—to go high enough to make people stop using the product," says Ryan Turner, risk management consultant for FCStone, Kansas City. "We are past the point of encouraging more supply." Turner predicts 2011 corn futures prices will exceed 2008 highs. "I don’t know if it will happen in January or June, but it will happen," he says.
Tom Grisafi, president of Indiana Grain Company, Valparaiso, Ind., says corn prices need to move well above $6/bu to shake out end users. Yet it is unclear whether end users—who have become accustomed to extreme volatility—will cut back quickly. "Corn has never traded this high so consistently at this time of year," Grisafi says. The upside price potential for 2011 corn prices is nearly unlimited in his view. "It’s the price that bankrupts the meat and ethanol industries," Grisafi says.

Interesting article, but I am not clear as to what type of rationing they are talking about.

If this statement is correct about where we are heading:

The upside price potential for 2011 corn prices is nearly unlimited in his view.

Then we may indeed be talking about some kind of government rationing, such as cutting back on the amount of corn that may converted into ethanol, or the imposition of some type of export controls.

I think that "rationing" means that growers would be cutting back on the amount of corn used in animal feeding operations. More hay, other protein supplements, and less fattening may be options.

Soaring corn prices will slice into demand, with corn exports expected to fall first followed by feed usage. Analysts anticipate the cattle industry to begin rationing earlier than other livestock sectors due to poor margins, but rationing in poultry, hog, and dairy will be close behind. "It will be very painful," Turner adds.

Read this,
China provides its own coal. Foreign suppliers like Australia and Canada simply help with management of supply at the margin.

Yes, but if you read the article you linked to, you will see it says

Experts are starting to predict when China's coal reserves will run out—a nightmare scenario in a country where 70% of its energy is derived from coal.

Then, if you look at the chart labelled Top 20 coal producers you will see that Canadian coal production is a thin line far down the list. However, Canada has huge unexploited coal resources in its western provinces, far distant from the industrial centers in its eastern provinces, but close to first-class deepwater ports on its west coast.

China is a country of long-term planners with strategies to provide energy for the medium and distant future, unlike some other countries I could name. Current coal exports from Canada and Australia, although large, are just the thin edge of the wedge.

This post relates to the issue of complexity and its hazards. It seems that we repeatedly push the limits of complexity to the point of failure, only to retreat temporarily and then push again. Sometimes these failures can be hazardous to one's health. In the area of radiation therapy there was the Therac 25; story linked here. An x-ray therapy system in the 1980's controlled by a DEC minicomputer that was poorly programmed, resulted in multiple accidental radiation overdoses. I had always written that off as an unfortunate but one-time tragedy; an expensive lesson on the path to perfecting sophisticated software driven medical devices.

Now we have A Pinpoint Beam Strays Invisibly, Harming Instead of Healing from the NY Times, which reads like a rerun of the Therac 25 story. This time the problem seems to result from the combination of various pieces of hardware and software from different sources across the globe, without anyone being fully responsible for the ultimate integrity of the system.

On a far less serious but more personal note, I live in Rochester, NY; home to world class medical talent and resources. Last year I had a root canal operation performed at a local dental clinic. The experience was a beautiful example of the excellence and sophistication of modern dental treatment, except for one thing. The x-ray sensor in my mouth was connected to a computer and because there were some problems grabbing the image, the dentist had to x-ray me three times to get the first image. So I collected three times what would have been the normal anticipated dosage. Dental x-ray diagnostics and Microsoft Windows based systems are not a good combination, IMHO.

The x-ray sensor in my mouth was connected to a computer and because there were some problems grabbing the image, the dentist had to x-ray me three times to get the first image.

I assure you, from personal experience, that doesn't just happen with computers. With old style films the dose would be much higher as well.