Drumbeat: January 24, 2011

Daniel Yergin's much-awaited sequel

This fall, Penguin will publish Yergin's long-awaited sequel to The Prize. Both Yergin and his associate publisher at Penguin, Tracy Locke, declined to discuss the book because it has yet to be officially placed on the fall list. But Washington is a small town, and Yergin a sizable and garrulous fish in it -- people ask, and he talks a lot about the sequel at parties, dinners and gatherings of all types. He has said that it will cover the intervening two decades of energy history -- the oil booms in the former Soviet Union, in Brazil and west Africa; the "shale gale," as he calls the revolution in natural gas production in the United States, and of liquefied natural gas in Qatar and elsewhere; and of course climate change and the work on alternative energy including ethanol, solar, wind and batteries, and the implications of hybrid and electric cars.

Analysis: Texas O&G Production Grows; Coal Still Vital to Energy Needs

Texas should be regarded as the nation's "energy breadbasket," accounting for more than half of U.S. domestic oil and natural gas production, according to a recent study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Energy and the Energy of Texas.

Texas oil and gas production has soared with the development of new drilling technologies and the opening of "unconventional" oil and gas shale plays such as Barnett, the Eagle Ford, the Haynesville-Bossier and the Permian Basin.

IEA doubles global gas reserves estimates

"The gas story is huge," she told BBC News.

"A few years ago the United States was ready to import gas. In 2009 it had become the world's biggest gas producer. This is phenomenal, unbelievable."

Is the global economy approaching an inflection point?

During a presentation last week a questioner asked me what I thought about predictions that gasoline prices would reach $5 a gallon this summer. I offered this critique. I said that the oil prices implied by $5-a-gallon gas could probably not be attained in such a weak global economy. And, something short of that price would probably send the economy into a tailspin.

I don't foresee such an event soon, but it does seem to me that at some point high energy prices will lead to another economic decline. Perhaps there might even be a crash since the financial sector--which is even more fragile than it was in 2008 in my view--might face another crisis as a result of too much money flowing into the energy sector and therefore not enough flowing into the financial sector.

I warned everyone not to rush out and phone their brokers.

And yet, there are signs of the same kind of overheated bullishness on commodities and bearishness on bonds that we saw in the first half of 2008. And, we've seen the same kind of massive central bank easing again that preceded the commodity run-up that year.

Offshore oil boom a boon for big ships-SAL

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Rising oil prices and cheaper financing will help boost the number of offshore energy projects in Brazil, Australia and Southeast Asia, driving demand for larger transport ships, an industry executive said.

Offshore drilling was expected to fully recover by 2013 as oil prices near $100 a barrel encouraged efforts to extract heavier oil at greater depths, in deeper water, and in more dangerous regions.

Leak shuts in Oseberg A

Production at the Oseberg A platform in the North Sea was shut Monday after a gas leak operator Statoil said today.

Halliburton Profit Rises as Oil Prices Boost Demand

Halliburton Co., the world’s second- largest oilfield services provider, said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled as higher crude prices and demand for drilling equipment boosted sales in North America.

Reliance May Need New Assets as Shares Trail Valero

Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s biggest company by market value, must increase its oil and gas reserves to help boost shares that have lagged behind their global peers and benchmark indexes, investors said.

Yukos spectre lurks as Russia fetes BP mega deal

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia has celebrated the alliance of Rosneft with BP as a historic breakthrough in its economic relations with the West but the deal remains shadowed by the break-up of its former top oil firm Yukos.

Rosneft gained its status as Russia's largest oil firm by acquiring prize Yukos assets when the firm was broken up by the Russian state after the arrest of its chief executive and founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003.

Lawmakers Gear Up to Drill Commission on Oil Spill Report's Findings

This week the leaders of the presidential commission that investigated last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will take their case for increased funding and offshore drilling safety reform to Capitol Hill, but their specific legislative recommendations may reach deaf ears.

Pakistanis turn to petrol amid CNG shortage

ISLAMABAD -- The imposition of weekly two-day suspensions of compressed natural gas (CNG) sales at filling stations nationwide is forcing motorists to install petrol tanks in their vehicles — a situation that has led to a boost in business for mechanics and spare parts dealers.

Failure to help: ‘Bring your own car or pay for fuel’

LAHORE: Police officials, citing shortage of fuel, have started asking citizens to bring their own cars or pay for fuel for police vehicles used during investigation and recovery raids.

Lebanon short of electricity

Beirut // Mike Khalil's three children have become used to studying by the flicker of a candle. The barber lives in Beirut's Hamra neighbourhood, which like many others in the Lebanese capital is without power between three and six hours every day.

Lebanon is desperate for energy, and the race to tap the large natural gas reserves located in the eastern Mediterranean has whet the public's interest.

Scenario to Cap World Emissions by 2020 Is Fading Fast, Warns IEA Economist

From his perch as chief economist for the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol is virtually shouting his global warming predictions from the Paris rooftops.

Unless the United States, Europe, China, India and the other emerging economies get on a crash course to slash greenhouse gases, Birol contends, world leaders can simply forget about one of their oft-talked-about goals: stabilizing the average global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius.

Norway green party softens stance on drilling data

(Reuters) - Norway's Socialist Left Party, which opposes oil drilling off the pristine Lofoten island chain, says its partners in the Labour-led government can seek more information on the effects of drilling if they refrain from a formal impact study.

"If someone wants more information that's of course okay by us," party secretary Silje Schei Tveitdal told Reuters on Sunday after a party board vote that could allow Norway's divided government to sidestep a drilling debate this spring, even as it collects data for a formal study later.

UK to hike accident cover for nuclear plants

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's energy ministry proposed on Monday implementing a 1.2 billion euro ($1.63 billion) liability cost per nuclear site on generators to cover the consequences of accidents.

The proposal aligns British law with a pan-European treaty signed in 2004, which set out that nuclear power station operators should face a minimum of 700 million euros in costs payable in case of an accident.

Dear President Obama ...: Some ideas for Tuesday's State of the Union address

We have faced many great challenges and overcome them. One of the greatest of our time is to live sustainably, so that future generations have the resources and environment they will need to live happy and fulfilling lives. Our hopes for them are being challenged by the related threats of peak oil and climate change. Peak oil means that petroleum is a finite resource, and we are burning it up faster than we can find it. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Vt. organic farming group prepares for conference

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont says it's expecting more than 1,500 organic farmers, gardeners and consumers at its winter conference.

...Keynote speakers this year are author Shannon Hayes and Vermont author and activist Bill McKibben.

Expect Alaska's Glaciers to Heat Up Soon

Most of the world's mountain glaciers and small ice caps will disappear or shrivel dramatically by the end of the century, with Alaska glaciers and ice fields shrinking by 25 to 60 percent over the next nine decades, according to new findings published last week in the journal Nature Geoscience. The study -- the most comprehensive ever done on the role of glacier wastage in sea level rise -- has already received extensive news coverage for its global perspective.

But Alaska's portion of the projected meltdown raises questions about the future of regional hydroelectric projects like the proposed multi-billion-dollar Susitna Dam, as well as Anchorage's drinking water source in Eklutna Lake and any other Alaska stream that relies on glacial melt for its summer flow.

Michael T. Klare - 2011: The Year of Living Dangerously

Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest.

Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world.

It’s not surprising then that food and energy experts are beginning to warn that 2011 could be the year of living dangerously -- and so could 2012, 2013, and on into the future. Add to the soaring cost of the grains that keep so many impoverished people alive a comparable rise in oil prices -- again nearing levels not seen since the peak months of 2008 -- and you can already hear the first rumblings about the tenuous economic recovery being in danger of imminent collapse. Think of those rising energy prices as adding further fuel to global discontent.

Food price rises 'may cause unrest': ministers

BERLIN (AFP) – Agriculture ministers from Europe, Africa and Canada warned Saturday of dire consequences, including riots and social unrest, unless action is swiftly taken to improve food security and tackle price hikes.

Where's the rest of the oil?

When BP first formed an alliance with Rosneft in 1998 to develop the Sakhalin fields in the Pacific Ocean, the UK oil giant estimated Russia's oil reserves at 56 billion barrels.

When BP agreed its share-swap with the Moscow-based energy group last weekend, the estimate was 75 billion barrels, and development of Rosneft's licences inside the Arctic Circle could increase production enormously.

Such advances undermine the pessimists' predictions that the world's oil will imminently run out. In 1956, when the concept of "peak oil" – the point at which production starts falling – was formulated, US output was expected to fall from the late 1960s. But new discoveries have constantly pushed that date back. BP was estimating world oil reserves at 1 trillion barrels 20 years ago: now, despite record consumption, the estimate is 1.333 trillion.

Goldman Sees Oil Entering `Bull Market' on Drop in OPEC Spare Capacity

Oil may be entering a “structural bull market” as inventory data suggest OPEC has started to use up spare production capacity, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

Global stockpiles fell less than usual in November and December, leaving a surplus of supplies in the fourth quarter, Goldman Sachs said in a report today. That may indicate the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which is responsible for 40 percent of crude output, is tapping into its idle production capacity earlier than anticipated, it said.

OPEC May Raise Oil Supply to Meet Expected Higher Demand, al-Naimi Says

OPEC members may boost oil supply this year as demand for crude rises amid a recovery in economic growth rates to near levels last seen before the global financial crisis, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said.

Worldwide oil demand may increase as much as 1.8 million barrels a day in 2011, or 2 percent from last year, Ali al-Naimi said in a speech in Riyadh today. Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will have spare production capacity of about 4 million barrels a day, he said.

Oil Drops in New York After Saudi Arabia's Al-Naimi Signals More Supplies

Crude for delivery in March dropped for a fifth day after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi signaled OPEC may increase supply to meet growing demand in China and India.

Oil is calling the tune, but who really wins?

If it were simply a matter of balancing supply and demand, OPEC currently holds about 6 million barrels a day spare capacity that can be made available to the market. Crude inventories in the US remain above a five-year average, and according to the IEA monthly market report, "other OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] regions, such as Europe and Japan, have even experienced counter-seasonal builds". In other words, stocks are rising at a time of the year when they should be falling. The IEA's view? The recent surge in prices cannot be fully explained by a change in oil market fundamentals.

While these comments from the IEA are correct in their respective secular contexts, the crude price per se understates a converging dynamic that confounds explaining the relative value of oil in supply and demand terms.

Gas prices rise almost 3 cents in last 2 weeks

CAMARILLO, Calif. — A new survey finds the average price of regular gasoline in the United States has jumped 2.99 cents in the last two weeks.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday says the price of a gallon of regular is $3.11.

Jim Rogers Is Wrong, Higher Commodity Prices Should Scare China Investors

Rogers compares China to the US but fails to point point out (figure out), that one reason the US was able to grow fast was cheap oil prices. Other factors supportive of growth are strong personal property rights and a rule of law.

From my point of view, peak oil is a limiting constraint on the China's growth. Thus, on a fundamental basis, the higher oil and commodity prices go, the less bullish one should be on China.

Unipec Said to Resume Diesel Exports Next Month as China's Shortage Eases

China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the country’s biggest oil trader, will resume diesel exports in February after a domestic shortage eased, according to a company official with knowledge of the plan.

Natural Gas Producer Bearish Bets Jump to Three-Year High

Natural gas producers increased bearish bets to the highest in almost three years, joining hedge funds amid forecasts that near-record output will swell a fuel surplus.

Eni talks with China include shale gas

BEIJING (UPI) -- A deal highlighting shale gas with energy companies in China represents a push to establish a stronger foothold in Asia, Italian energy company Eni said.

Iran's NITC to Add 22 Very Large Crude Carriers to Tanker Fleet by 2013

(Bloomberg) -- NITC of Iran expects to become the third-largest oil-tanker company by 2013, and possibly the second-biggest, when it takes delivery of 22 very large crude carriers and expands its fleet by 72 percent, an executive said.

Curb power use during cold snap: Hydro-Québec

Hydro-Québec is asking Quebecers to reduce their electricity consumption Monday as it expects the province is about to set a record for power consumption during the current cold spell.

Australia Floods to Inflict an `Enormous' Economic Impact, Treasurer Says

Australia faces an “enormous” economic impact from the worst floods in Queensland state in almost 40 years, with coal exports likely to be one of the “biggest casualties,” Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

Pipeline Projects to Europe ‘Not Compatible’

ROME — Italian Industry Minister Paolo Romani said the South Stream, ITGI and Nabucco pipelines, designed to bring natural gas to Europe from Russia, the Caspian and Central Asia, are incompatible.

“Nabucco, South Stream and ITGI are incompatible, given European financing, and Europe, through an accord among the large nations, has to find a definitive accord,” Romani told reporters in Rome late last week.

One oil pipeline too many for Texas?

TransCanada's plan to pipe in tar sands oil angers Texas landowners who say they resent being pushed around by a foreign company.

Hoboken wants 'intervenor status' to fight natural gas pipeline

The proposed pipeline that will run through Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken has faced great opposition from government officials and citizens who believe the line would be too dangerous and susceptible to explosion to run through such a populated area, as the Journal reported.

Alaska Offshore Special Report: Making the case for Alaska OCS development

Our country’s growing demand for oil combined with our desire to be more self-reliant in filling this demand has spurred significant interest in offshore drilling in both the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Petrobras may cut local supply purchases-report

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras wants to reduce its equipment purchases from local companies because prices are not competitive, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said on Monday.

Petrobras wants to slash the share of locally-produced content it uses in its supplies and services to 35 percent from 65 percent due to the inability of domestic oil services companies to meet demand and produce equipment efficiently, the newspaper reported, without saying how it got the information.

Angola announces pre-salt winners

BP, Total, Eni and other international majors were awarded concessions to explore in Angola's ultra deep-water pre-salt blocks, Angola's state-owned oil comapny Sonangol said today.

Iran makes oilfield offers to Turkey

Iran has offered Ankara 4 to 5 small oilfields which Turkey will offer to the private sector, with each field requiring up to $100 million to $200 million of investment, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said today.

Mediterranean gas finds have Cypriots dreaming of riches

Cyprus has suddenly become the nexus of potentially spectacular hydrocarbon riches in the eastern Mediterranean, where oil wealth was formerly associated only with olive trees.

Cyprus's energy chief, Solon Kassinis, declared this month that there are indications of natural gas deposits in the island's waters of some 10 trillion cubic feet near Israel's giant Tamar and Leviathan gas fields.

Vast gas fields found off Israel's shores cause trouble at home and abroad

Oil companies envision substantial profits. Politicians talk of national energy independence and, as a result, bolstered security in an unfriendly region.

But the bonanza has generated domestic controversy. Corruption in the burgeoning industry is reportedly rife, with Israeli authorities struggling to rein it in.

Meanwhile, oil companies are at loggerheads with officials apparently intent on imposing higher taxes on profits.

Gas finds in Eastern Mediterranean a test for Levant nations

BEIRUT // The ground under the sea floor of the eastern Mediterranean is filled with trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, offering the prospect that regional rivals might all benefit from an energy bonanza.

The promise of hydrocarbon riches off the coast of the Levant is shaping new alliances and stoking old conflicts.

But it is possible the discoveries could yield some peace rather than more acrimony.

GSI/UNEP conference report finds fossil-fuel subsidy reform “complex” and challenges “sobering”; ~1% of global GDP spent on fossil-fuel subsidies

Although momentum behind reforming subsidies for fossil fuels (for both consumers and producers) worldwide has gained significant momentum during the past few years, and although the benefits of subsidy reform seem evident, countries’ experience of reform and the challenges involved are “sobering”, according to a recently published report from a conference convened on the subject last year by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

UM fund to honor late ocean energy visionary

ROCKLAND, Maine — A generous donation from the family of the late Matthew R. Simmons, the founder and chairman of the Ocean Energy Institute, along with all the gifts from friends and colleagues given to OEI in his memory, will create opportunities for the University of Maine to further the OEI objectives rooted in his visionary perspectives on the vast potential of ocean resources to provide clean energy options.

UM will establish a Matthew R. Simmons Ocean Energy Initiative Fund in its development office to pick up the OEI mantle and support work that will advance ocean energy research and development, education, commercialization and outreach efforts.

The Ocean Energy Institute itself will cease operations Jan. 31.

Environmental legislation 'will not help fuel poor'

The government's planned changes to environmental legislation to ration energy use in the UK will not help those who are fuel poor, an expert has said.

Maria Wardrobe, director of communications at National Energy Action, has stated that the newly-proposed Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs), which will see energy rations being given out, will have an impact on vulnerable households the most.

Driver Fury at Petrol Ration Plan

MOTORISTS face the "alarming" prospect of petrol rationing as the latest weapon in the war against drivers, it emerged yesterday.

Heinberg’s New Coal Question

Coal today lies at the very center of the world predicament over the future of energy and the climate. An indication of this can be found in the November 18, 2010, issue (vol. 468) of the leading scientific journal Nature, which includes an article by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley entitled “The End of Cheap Coal.” The article opens with the startling words: “World energy policy is gripped by a fallacy—the idea that coal is destined to stay cheap for decades to come.” What follows is a short, dramatic discussion of problems (geological, economic, and environmental) constraining future coal production and consumption. Heinberg and Fridley’s argument here has been developed more extensively in Heinberg’s recent book Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis, which provides us with yet another indication of the momentous challenge and burden of our historical time.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi champions ecological cause

ABU DHABI (AFP) – It floats on a sea of oil in a country that has the largest ecological footprint, yet Abu Dhabi aims to convince the world of its environmental credentials through its futuristic Masdar initiative.

Areva to Sign Nuclear, Solar Partnership With Saudi Binladin, CEO Says

Areva SA and the Saudi Binladin Group will sign a partnership agreement tonight in the nuclear and solar power industries, the French company’s Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon said today in Riyadh.

“We are in a major energy evolution in the region,” Lauvergeon told a conference in the Saudi Arabian capital. “In the past, it was oil and gas, and that was it. Now it’s oil, gas, renewables, and nuclear. We are very excited about this evolution, and we would like to be a long-term partner of these developments.”

Uranium Report 2011

Our future energy course is being charted today because of the ramifications of peak oil, because cars pollute too much, because of climate change and because we wish to end our dependence on foreign supplied energy.

Many countries have energy independence and global warming as two of the key policy issues of their current administrations. For instance US President Obama made a pledge to eliminate oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within a decade and to slash his country’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 30 per cent by the year 2020.

Ethanol, LPG producers get more time

ETHANOL and liquefied petroleum gas producers have been given a further five months to adjust to paying fuel excise.

Announced by the Howard government in 2004, the excise was to phase in from July.

Tests find high levels of lead in reusable bags

Twenty-one reusable bags sold as alternatives to disposable plastic or paper bags had dangerous levels of lead, according to new test results provided to USA TODAY.

China's organic farms rooted in food-safety concerns

China's government promises tougher penalties, better supervision and greater transparency, yet the public will take some convincing. Almost 70% of China's consumers feel insecure about food safety, according to a survey released recently by Insight China Magazine and the Tsinghua University Media Survey Lab.

Now some individuals and companies are taking action to ensure the produce on their dining tables, or in work canteens, is fit to eat. A small but growing number of people are starting or joining organic farms that abide by the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model being used in the USA.

Oyster bed restoration among first since oil spill

MOBILE, Ala. – Volunteers from across the country are rebuilding oyster reefs along the Gulf of Mexico's delicate shoreline, hoping to revive oyster beds under assault for decades from overharvesting, coastal development, pollution, and most recently the BP oil spill.

The waters harbor much of the world's last remaining productive natural oyster beds, but BP PLC's April 20 oil well blowout dumped millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf and dealt yet another blow to the once bountiful habitat.

Forest accords not saving trees, experts

NEW YORK (AFP) – International accords on saving vulnerable forests are having little impact because they do not attack the core causes such as growing demand for biofuels and food crops, a new report said.

Fish threatened by global warming to be moved north

Fish from the Lake District will be moved to cooler waters in Scotland under radical plans – which will be unveiled this week – aimed at coping with climate change.

The Economics of Global Warming

The real global challenge facing us will be organizing to reduce carbon emissions and provide help to poor countries coping with climate change. The worst, but not the most likely, consequences of climate change could be rising sea levels: there is grounded ice in Antarctica that, if loosed from its moorings, is worth five or six meters of sea level, enough to sink Stockholm, Manhattan, or London, or to oblige them to build levees to escape inundation, and to oblige millions of Bangladeshis and others to abandon their homes and workplaces and to migrate. (Levees cannot save Bangladesh; they leave no escape for the freshwater floods that need to reach the ocean.)

The most likely consequences of climate change will be severe impacts on food production in the developing world. We can worry about urban heat waves, polar bears, and forest fires, but the worst effects are almost certainly going to be on food production in the poor countries, where half or more of the population depends on growing its own food.

Link from above: Impact of Australian floods on the economy

Queensland Reconstruction Bonds more important than M2, M5 widening in Sydney

"What is required is not just a re-construction but an adaptation of infrastructure to future climate change because climatologists warn us that global warming means more moisture in the atmosphere over warmer ocean waters and therefore more rain under La-Nina conditions. This means that low embankments and short span bridges for roads and railways have to be re-built for these new rainfall parameters."


The fatuous connection to global warming and these floods made above is such dross - real "boy who cried wolf" stuff

The point is a La-Nina cycle has started, houses and infrastructure have been built on historical flood plains resulting in severe damage. What's shocking is that local councils continue to approved housing developments on flood plains.

crudeoilpeak.com might be better of either sticking to crude oil peak, or renaming itself to crudabouttheweartherandsomeoilstuff.com

GW makes such extreme events much more likely, much more extreme, and much more frequent.

You cannot say that GW had nothing to do with it.

You cannot say that GW had nothing to do with it.

Nor did I. Nobody knows - and most climate experts that I've heard seem to agree at least on that. What I do know is that the flooding occurred on historical flood plains due to known and pre-existing climatic conditions. They are not even the worst recent floods, the 1974 flood was much more severe in Brisbane in terms of flood level for instance.

Associating the Queensland floods and global warming in the same sentence is attempt to smudge the facts and treat GW as a known contributing factor. It isn't.

Of course one flood by itself means relatively little. But extreme floods and droughts and heatwaves are increasing markedly around the globe. The big insurers know this. It is only the denialist fringe that seems unaware of it.

extreme floods and droughts and heatwaves are increasing markedly around the globe.

.. is there is clear evidence of this? (not rhetorical, I really don't know - but I've not heard any undisputed facts to this effect myself)

The big insurers know this

Well I work for an Australian Big Insurer. Maybe they do know something, but we sure haven't been playing with our rating tables, lately at least, due to GW. However, there is a bit of a cop-out for the insurers here; most of them don't insure homes for flood damage, the premiums would be prohibitive for those that need it most anyway. That's causing a bit of a political stink at the moment...

Insurance Industry Worries about Growing Risks from Climate Change

From memory, Queensland had its rainiest Spring in historical records. Queensland also had its rainiest December in history. Quite a few biblical floods elsewhere in the past year. You can find all these facts and more at Jeff Master's blog.

2011: Year of the flood

When one combines the impact of La Niña with the increase of global ocean temperatures of 0.5°C (0.9°F) over the past 50 years, which has put 4% more water vapor into the atmosphere since 1970, the result is a much increased chance of unprecedented floods. A 4% increase in atmospheric moisture may not sound like much, but it turns out that precipitation will increase by about 8% with that 4% moisture increase. Critically, it is the extreme rainfall events that tend to supply the increased rainfall. For example, (Groisman et al., 2004) found a 20% increase in very heavy (top 1%) precipitation events over the U.S. in the past century, and a 36% rise in cold season (October - April) "extreme" precipitation events (those in the 99.9% percentile--1 in 1000 events. These extreme rainfall events are the ones most likely to cause floods.

Thanks, wr and gg. I've nearly given up on 'skeptics' since they nearly always end up being pseudo-skeptics. It is quite easy to search and find the evidence, so people claiming they haven't seen or can't find the evidence certainly have not been trying very hard.

"It is quite easy to search and find the evidence, so people ,,, "

I believe that there is a problem with this line of reasoning. I know that I use Google, and I know that Google tailors the advertisements that it presents to be to what it perceives to be my personal interests.

1) I do not know whether Google sorts the hits that it finds on my searches, but I can see no reason for believing that it is impossible for Google to do so.

2) My searches almost never get less than a few thousand hits and I never read them all. I generally stop reading when a find a hit that I find believable. I think I am not alone in this pattern of behavior.

These two statements, either together, or individually, provide a counter argument to coupling searching and finding, IMHO. Life is too short for any of us to reliably find evidence for something that we don't already believe. Except that I already believe that there is a hodge-podge of opinion on the web, and much of that opinion masquerades as fact. For this belief there is a lot of evidence.

I guess then that my comment does not apply to the unskilled or incurious.

Says the poster who can't show the math presented by Don/Ulf WRT Hydrogen is wrong.

What are you blabbering on about.

Why do all you "skeptics" find it so hard to grasp the concept that local effects are not equivalent to regional and global effects. Who gives a rat's a** if some flood level in Brisbane in 1974 was higher. The comparison is simply inane. The total area of flooding in the winter of 2010-2011 in Australia and other parts of the world (Brazil, South Africa, Sri Lanka,...) is much lager than in recorded history. This is the most intense La Nina on record. Atmosphere and ocean oscillations are driven by heat energy (even if they manifest themselves as wave dissipation since waves are induced by circulation and the circulation is driven by heating). This same heat energy is translating into temperature which has resulted in 4% moisture increase in the atmosphere since 1970 (and H2O is a powerful greenhouse gas) and due to the nonlinear nature of precipitation this has led to a 14% increase in the top 5% intense rainfall events and 20% in the top 1% intense rainfall events (Groisman et al.,2004).

The claim "nobody knows" is denialist BS. Deniers don't want to know and want everyone else not to know as well.

What did I hear? An area twice the size of Texas. That's quite the flood plain.

Climate change. Couldn't be that. Floods like this occur every La Nina.

They oughta shoot the pencil pushers who allowed all those now flooded houses to be built since the last La Nina.

If you do not like what climatologists tell us I recommend you contact them. Prof. England's web site of the Climate Change Research Centre at the UNSW, Sydney, with contact details is here:

Yes, the building in flood plains is an important factor and made things worse. How flow calculations of the Brisbane river have been manipulated can be read here:


Irrespective of the above, super annuation funds in Australia are swimming in money (compulsory contributions of 9% of all salaries) and are wasting it on oil-vulnerable projects like the M2 and M5 widening in Sydney (many other projects in the pipeline). Now a levy is being discussed to finance the reconstruction of flood damaged infrastructure, putting pressure on household budgets. That is why I propose to divert funds from super funded toll-way projects which will not return any dividends as oil production declines

Will Transurban ever pay back its debt? (part 2)

The connection of all this is that in each case (global warming, flooding, peak oil) governments ignore the laws of physics and promptly get a bill presented for their disregard.

So the connection is not fatuous but systemic.

My website www.crudeoilpeak.com brings peak oil and global warming together as a double challenge. The energy link between peak oil and global warming is of course that we can't go back to coal to replace oil. Governments try it but nature responds. That's the whole point.

And if you want to read more about "dross", yes, I have a menu item "I told you so"

Actually Matt, your argument above is well put, annoys me too watching money going into barely (if at all) profitable toll roads. What gets my goat is how GW gets associated with natural disasters with or without evidence. That's bad, that's what I don't like about your original post. Anyone with any brains knows we now risk global catastrophe, and associating GW with stuff that's so obviously part of a natural cycle does GW no justice. It just gives politicians an 'out' / a chance to procrastinate ("oh well, they said the world was gonna end 10 years ago ... and it hasn't !)

Irrespective of the above, superannuation funds in Australia are swimming in money..

You might want to refine that statement. We are going to need that money, and it needs to be invested wisely, to deal with our aging population (well, assuming you believe we are all still going to be around in 20 years time ...)

One other comment (more positive I hope) ..

The energy link between peak oil and global warming is of course that we can't go back to coal to replace oil.

There another way of looking at the link between them. The Australian Broadcasting Commission made an excellent doco about oil a few years ago: Crude - the Incredible Journey of Oil

In that they say :

“To form large reserves of oil, it seems you need two interlinked global catastrophes – a super-greenhouse effect for warmth, and stagnant, oxygen-depleted oceans for preservation."

That's a Global Anoxic Event. They also discussed some recent research on ancient plants that seemed to suggest global anoxic oceanic events are triggered around 450 ppm atmospheric CO2 (I think - can't remember the exact number). So the irony of oil is that by burning it so quickly, we may trigger the very catastrophe that created it in the first place - you add coal into the mix to mitigate PO, and you are you are asking for trouble.

Good God - Jeromy Clarkson an Co was mentioning Oil last night on Top Gear!

"whats left is more expensive to get out...." and so on , for a bit

If confirmed Petrol Head Clarkson is Peak Oil aware , then surely this is now mainstream stuff - this is a mainstream show an' all that.

I'm going to have to watch it again on iplayer or the repeat Wednesday.


PS: Ok it wasn't a major feature ( 30 secs or so )but for these guys to mentioned it at all.....

Clarkeson has been aware of oil supply issues for a few years. Just how much he knows, reads or understands about it I don't know. I am quite sure that the PO crowd keep spamming him as UK's most notorious petrolhead.

The guy is not a complete idiot, but he makes his money by pretending to be one. His response to rising oil prices was hypermiling, but he tried to turn it into a joke so as not to switch off his target audience (UK Joe Sixpack).

Small beginnings.

nobody has to be peak oil aware to know that oil is scarcer. you just have to look at the price at the pump.

nobody has to be peak oil aware to know that oil is scarcer. you just have to look at the price at the pump.

I'm not quite sure that higher price at the pump gets Joe teh Average thinking [primarily] about oil scarcity. :-/

I would say it rather makes him blame the EOCs (Evil Oil Companies) of price gauging, enriching themselves at the expense of the little people.

I think one has to be peak oil aware to -know- the real cause of the high price, or at least to consider it as an option. Otherwise witch-hunt (oil speculators), finger-pointing (gubbermint doin' nothin') and blame-game (EOCs) often end up being the primary choice of action and not conservation, powerdown or lowering speed limits to 50 mph...

Really, I'd gladly find out how many customers at the pump would say "uuum... yeah... the price is high because oil is getting harder to extract..." and if at least 20% got it right, I'd be happy to admit I was wrong and perhaps we still have more than snowball's chance in hell to avoid the tumultuous descent to Mad Max world... :P

You forgot the evil speculators...



The problem is that the oil companies ARE evil and enriching themselves at the expense of little people (and the environment).

Of course, if we all stopped using oil, they'd be out of business.

Of course, they ARE evil, and I'm not the one that would think/assert otherwise. :) ;)

And yes, they'd be out of business, if we stopped using oil, but we are not eager to do that somehow, so they are still winning and enriching themselves in full speed ahead. :-S

But I think the main problem is - we are letting them to enrich themselves, so they are doing it with our blessing, so to speak. And being opportunistic as they are, they would be plainly stupid to let this very good opportunity just slip away.

We could argue, of course, whether it's evil to do what you were created to do ( = maximize profits), 'cuz it's their basic programming, they have it in their BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) built-in :D , so it's just BAU for them. I mean, when something is created for some purpose and it's fulfilling its purpose, then the fact that it is fulfilling it can't be called "evil". It's just doing what it is supposed to do, no "evilness" in that, but if its actions are harming us/environment/wildlife/anything, then those ACTIONS are evil, yes.

Sorry for being so philosophical... O:-)
So I would argue they aren't evil per se, just doing evil thingz... :o))

Buuuuut... I hope we will somehow drop our addiction to oil, then all those oil companies with their evil actions will go out of business or will have to transfer themselves to companies building sustainable technologies/power sources to survive, while preserving and protecting the Nature in the process, but to tell the truth, I lost my hope quite a time ago. :(

I would say, on a doomer scale I'm on the same level as Darwinian, and in many aspects also as you, dohboi.
I often read your comments and, sadly (sadly because they are about sad things, like environment destruction and the like), I have to agree with them...

But I think the main problem is - we are letting them to enrich themselves, so they are doing it with our blessing, so to speak.

I'm not so sure its a matter of inaction on "our" part. Most of us have been born into a social and economic milieu in which the automobile plays a critical role. Whether for it's prestige/self identity aspect, the physical structure of our environment (read suburban sprawl), the separation of living space from working space, the replacement of local by mobile, etc, few of us are ever presented with the choice to not "contribute" to the oil companies.

I think that this is a point many of the "reformists" among us miss. To end our addiction to oil isn't just a matter of choosing to stop buying oil, its a decision to fundamentally alter the shape of the society that has come into being over the past century.

If we all stopped using oil, WE would be out of business, collectively, for the most part.Of course we are going out of business anyway, again for the most part, when we have finished with the rest of the oil, coal, and gas-unless something else gets us first-the likeliest candidate being WWIII followed closely in second place by climate change and/or resource depletion in general.

I only put war in first place because while it might not be any more deadly, it can certainly arrive one hell of a lot quicker.

I mentioned it at the bottom of the last Drumbeat.

I also wondered aloud if there would be mileage in suggesting to the Top Gear team an item on what driving would look like in 2020 - as a way of getting peaked oil scenarios in front of an interested audience, and thus politicians.

TopGear UK had done a few segments that would be enlightening to a segment of their audience. They had one where three passenger diesel cars did a "max mpg" race, for example.

But just like I read news.google.com instead of TV infotainment, I don't think a car show needs to be anything but entertaining.

If anyone ever does a google search on peak oil, they will easily find TOD.

I just did search on peak oil. TOD was fifth. Total hits was 5,190,000. This indicates to me that the count of hits is not entirely honest. So, many trailing zeros is quite unlikely, IMHO.

Put double-quotes around peak oil, and your search results will only be 1,580,000. This still seems like too many, but at least your are only getting hits when the phrase peak oil appears together in an article. If you don't do this, I believe that Google eventually starts listing articles with the word peak and/or oil in them. They don't have to appear together nor does one or the other have to exist in the article at all.

And if the "leadership" stood in front of the people and claimed "Whoops we bad - we mislead you WRT energy" or stood in front of the people and said "They are bad - we are good and therefore we will attacK" and in both cases the end result is widespread misery - which path has the best chance of "leadership" staying in the "leadership" class?

It was an interesting little discussion as well. Wouldn't see anything like that on American TV, we're too dumbed down now. Notice though, how they quickly transitioned off the subject, because they could tell where it was going.

When all is said and done the Brits will go to the railways and the buses, and grin and bear it like they usually do.

Here in the U.S. we'll have Mad Max.

Re: Where's the rest of the oil? (above)

Yet another piece of journalistic trash. The Independent should be ashamed.

Reserves and production rates are repeatedly compared; oil, gas, LNG are mixed shamelessly; factual errors abound. (US produces 17 Mbpd?)

The article's conclusion, "The day the world's energy sources run dry is thus being pushed even further away", is an obvious attempt to reassure any would-be peak oil believers. It doesn't reassure me.

PT in PA

Please don't even grace the article as 'journalistic'. There is nothing journalistic about it. The author is just plain wrong on so many of his assertions that it might easily have been written by a 13 year old.

The "independent" is not?


Explosion kills 31 at Moscow airport

MOSCOW – A explosion ripped through the arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing 31 people and wounding about 130, Health Ministry officials said.

The state RIA Novosti said the explosion may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Chechen rebels?

RT Moscow (in English) http://rt.com/on-air/

Wow; Blue Monday.

Up top, Michael T. Klare - 2011: The Year of Living Dangerously

Nothing new here for TOD regulars, just a composit of things as they are, things that may come to pass. Particularly of concern to me is the likely reaction of many disenfranchised youth as things continue to unwind. Chechen rebels.

JHK's Monday morning joyfest is along the same lines:

.....it also shows the astounding poverty of imagination at the center of American political life. This is a fatal vacuum that invites something like revolution, because the only thing this vacuum seeks to do is suck things outside of itself into its own darkness.
Revolutions come in many styles. This one is shaping up to look rather red-and-slippery, because the grift has really amount to the wholesale theft of a generation's future. There are 21-year-olds out there right now laboring under massive burdens of college loans that they were swindled into signing at a time when the parts of their brain concerned with judgment had not fully developed, and they are every bit as smart as the men running the predatory corporations today. Even after they eventually give up paying their debt-peonage tuition loans, they are going to be very pissed off at the way the older generation ran their country into the ground.

I was mentioning an astounding lack of imagination regarding energy policies last week. What good is imagination when the system is stacked against it, unless it occurs within the boxes designed and maintained by TPTB. Imagining the continuation of the status quo regarding energy, finance or politics must seem more like dilusion to many of our youth, so the attention seekers make themselves known, whether it's a kid in Tucson or a bomber in Moscow. So it goes.

Other tidbits this morning:

Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices .

....mostly in rural towns....where folks actually rely on their Post Offices. Our town has been trying to get a new Post Office for years. Good luck with that; good luck keeping the one we have.

Cursive not required in new Georgia standards

ATHENS - Educators say that timeworn tradition of learning to write in cursive may soon disappear from most children's school lesson plans.

More signs of Greer's catabolic collapse, or just changing times? Will they stop teaching math because kids have calculators? Has teaching our children how to learn become too expensive? Have we reverted to telling kids what to think rather than showing them how to think? The age of enlightenment had a nice run. Perhaps the age of industry and it's demise killed it.

Time to go clean this morning's snow off of the panels.

We've dropped that thinking stuff entirely. They are probably dropping cursive for two reasons. First, it takes valuable test preparation time away. Second, many of the younger teachers probably can't do it very well anyway. Remember that social studies and science have already be dropped effectively by many school districts around the country.

I look at the math that my own young kids are doing and I am somewhat impressed. (but very concerned by increasing class sizes) However, I look at my community college students and I am largely unimpressed (to be "gentle"). I can't pretend to know what goes on in middle and high school, but we are in trouble. To be fair, there are a few excellent students. But they are few and far between...it is exceedingly rare that a student understands enough of what he is doing or being asked to do to develop any sort of solution to a real problem. A student who knows a little becomes a big fish in a small pond and everyone thinks the standards are unfair. And, of course, faculty with high standards run the risk of being labelled "barriers to success". There is some very scarey writing on the wall.... in addition to substantial funding cuts, Guv'ner Brown is suggesting that colleges get reimbursed based on how many students are successful, meaning how many passing grades do we hand out. Gotta wonder what that will do to the math and science courses.

I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck, but I was thumbing through one of his books the other day and found the "suggestion" that the US could save $750 million (not sure of the exact number or time frame) by eliminating science instruction in elementary schools. I guess if your agenda is to prepare them for short careers as shock troops, maybe that's not a bad idea.

There is some very scary writing on the wall.... in addition to substantial funding cuts, Guv'ner Brown is suggesting that colleges get reimbursed based on how many students are successful, meaning how many passing grades do we hand out.

Something similar happening in Texas. I think that the goal is to get students out of the state funded college system ASAP. I think that there are new limits on how many classes students can drop in state funded schools in texas.

Regarding the quality of students, there appears to be something of a bimodal distribution in community colleges, with a group of really good students and a group of really poor (in terms of academic skills) students, with a smaller middle group. Of course, the poor academic quality groups should be in technical/vocational program, which is what they do in Switzerland on the high school level.

There is an easy and a hard way to increase the number of successful students. The hard way is to get better students or to make the students learn more. The easy way is to reduce the requirements to pass the exams.

The easy way is cheaper and the college could get more funding. I am certain that very few colleges will choose the hard way but an exam from those few that do and succeed will be worth a premium.

No question that there is a lot of waste....CA charges $26/unit, and about half the students are on aid.
The savings on insurance (and keeping mom & dad happy) is good reason to sign up for a couple easy classes. We have huge numbers of students taking arithmatic and low level mathematics courses that they have already seen several times in K-12 and CC. The state only pays us twice for most classes, but they have aleady paid the K-12 folks and gotten nothing for it. I approve of increasing the accountability of public education, but...ugh....glad i'm not the one who has to figure out how. If we have increased pressure to pass students, but no increase in resources to tutor, etc., there is no question that standards will slide. The only question is how far. This doesn't just continue to drain the state coffers, it also degrades the education of the good students.

"but I was thumbing through one of his books the other day and found the "suggestion" that the US could save $750 million (not sure of the exact number or time frame) by eliminating science instruction in elementary schools."

That's an interesting thought. Any science you teach them before they can do math is largely wasted anyway. It would have some value to serve notice there was such a thing, but are elementary students ready to wade in to chemistry or physics? Or are you going to have to reteach the same things once they have the background to understand it. And if you have to reteach them the correct view later, why teach then the elementary version at all?

Beck may be a blowhard, but there is a fundamental question there. Like the old joke about little Billy (age 5) asking where he came from and getting a long discussion about the birds and the bees. Then he says "But Joe is from Cleveland."

hmmmm....I'd argue the other way. A bit of the 'scientific method' should be a foundation to many subjects. Certainly numbers make most measurements useful, but causal relationships, data collection, vocabulary, and exposure to the natural world can be very enriching with little or no math. No math is needed for a discussion of evolution v. intelligent design, although clearly that discussion can be much more thorough with it. I never miss a beat in asking my kids to guess why something is the way it is when we're out exploring....no math, but hopefully some logical dot connecting.

But on that note....I agree that mathematical rigor should be a hallmark of any [physical] science class. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. To require beginning algebra (8th grade math) as a prerequisite starts to erode the size of your potential audience. To require intermediate algebra (10th grade math?, a lot of polynomial manipulation, a very brief exposure to logs if the teacher stays on track)severely limits your audience. Thus classes not for science majors tend not to require this as a prereq. The irony is that we call them "college level" science classes, albeit with middle school level math. Many chemistry textbooks have dropped the name "integrated rate law" from the kinetics chapter, likely to avoid being considered too rigorous by invoking a hint of calculus. (They mostly use the equations, but call them "time-concentration equations" or somesuch. Point is that 'understanding' is being tossed out....just memorize this equation Johnny, and if in doubt, go with answer "C".)

And to really help people sleep at night...the "science for teachers" classes (classes for future K-12 science teachers) require....oh, let's not go there...


I don't know if most Americans realize it, but the United States is falling behind other countries quite badly in terms of its educational standards - particularly in math and science. Advanced math is essential for the physical and social sciences, so if you can't do the math, you can't do the science.

It's not so much that US standards have fallen, but that standards in other countries have risen so much, particularly in Asia. The new 900 pound (400 kilogram) gorilla in the jungle is China. The Chinese seem to have designed a killer educational system in recent years, and are rolling it out to the entire country. Advanced math is the new norm in this system.

If you want to see the international test scores, see PISA 2009 Results . PISA is the Programme for International Student Assessment, sponsored by the Organization for International Cooperation and Development. China is not a member of OECD, but some of its provinces participated in the last set of international tests. The results were interesting - the kids from Shanghai scored at the top of the standings in all categories.

There's a fundamental question, all right, but it's not 'should we spare grade-schoolers from science education?'

"..Once they have the background to understand it.." It's ALL background, and it takes years to build up those fundamentals.. I'm working with people fine-tuning a curriculum that is teaching basic experimentation, observation and analysis at the pre-school level. (In the context of an early-literacy development program.. they use music and storytelling as other legs on the stool..)

As I commiserated with one of the teachers recently.. 'They ARE like sponges.. but it doesn't do much good if you leave these sponges out in the desert.'

"..Once they have the background to understand it.." It's ALL background, and it takes years to build up those fundamentals.. I'm working with people fine-tuning a curriculum that is teaching basic experimentation, observation and analysis at the pre-school level. (In the context of an early-literacy development program.. they use music and storytelling as other legs on the stool..)

It is ALL BACKGROUND, critical thinking can certainly be taught at a very young age.


A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, 25 8- to 10-year-old children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns.

“We discovered that bumblebees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from,” the students wrote in the paper’s abstract. “We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.”

The paper itself is well worth reading. It’s written entirely in the kids’ voices, complete with sound effects (part of the Methods section is subtitled, “‘the puzzle’…duh duh duuuhhh”) and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil.

I remember teaching my own son math, science and critical thinking, starting when he was about 5 years old. He took part in science fairs early on at school, took advanced math classes in junior high and today in high school he is taking college level math and science.

Apologies if this has already been posted:


"An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin."

"An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Which begs the question as to what is actually happening here? Have the students been somehow immunized against learning critical thinking skills by their upbringing and society at large or is this a failure of higher education, the curriculum and their instructors? Either way, it is a totally unacceptable result. It doesn't bode well for the future competitiveness of the US in the world at large.

I don't know if it's the same study, but one came out recently that found students don't learn much in college because it's simply not a priority with their instructors. College professors are far more concerned about "publish or perish" and bringing in research money in than they are about teaching. (For good reason - the priorities come from the top.)

I remember when one of my favorite professors - one of the few engineering profs who could really communicate difficult concepts and cared about his students - was fired. I couldn't believe the best teacher in the school was getting the boot. But wasting all that time with students meant he wasn't publishing enough, so he was canned. I heard at the time that teaching was weighted maybe 10% in evaluations.

But wasting all that time with students meant he wasn't publishing enough, so he was canned.

That's pretty sad.

It's a classic example of reaping what you sow. If the govt/univ management only recognises effort for research, no one should be surprised that students get second class effort from their teachers.

Oddly enough, there IS one part of the American university system that does produce outstanding students - the sports teams. There the "teachers" (i.e. the coaches) get judged purely on the results of their "students" - you don;t see (active) coaches wasting time writing research papers - it's all about thew performance of their students.

Professors in the academic areas, and the universities that employ them, would do well do adopt the coaches attitude. In the long term, a well taught student is the best bet for future research success, and if they are well taught, they are more likely to do it at their alma mater - you reap what you sow , and the teaching is the fertiliser - it's the difference between a crop, and a great crop.

I like it...how much is my recruiting budget, and how much do I get to spend per personally selected and admitted student?

I don't know if it's the same study, but one came out recently that found students don't learn much in college because it's simply not a priority with their instructors.

That's aboluely true, also here in Germany. It's funny that you have to take years of educational studies if you become a primary school teacher. But if you became a proffesor on a univesity, all that matters is the number of scientific papers you've published and your scientific standing. At least on universities (we have also polytechnic colleges called "Fachhochschule" where teaching counts a little bit more). We've got Prof. who where so bad at teaching and not interested in teaching at all - it's a shame...

Cursive not required in new Georgia standards

Let it die. And your analogy to teaching math makes no sense. The people that build the calculators still need to know math . . . math is fundamental. Cursive writing is just an old out-dated style of writing. Writing (organizing words into sentences & paragraphs) is still important and needs to be taught . . . but not a specific technique of moving your wrist to write letters. We don't teach computer programmers how an abacus worked. We don't teach the use of buggy whips in driver's ed.

Don't think the texting generation is going to miss cursive.

Within a couple of decades, writing will be obsolete. It will be replaced by speech to text technology, which is the automated version of mentally translating sounds into phonetic letters a la the Latin alphabet (more or less, since English is so screwed up). Ideally the speech will translate directly into IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), which represents the speech more compactly and clearly.

Also, more speech and associated information will be communicated as icons, ideographs, figures, charts, drawings, illustrations, pictures, sound files, and videos. Engineers do a lot of this today. Lawyers will be distraught that not everything is reduced to spoken and written sentences.

I love IPA, and I certainly think we could improve the rationality of our spelling system. But IPA is no panacea for this. You can't just ask students to spell how they pronounce it, since there is such a wide range of variation in pronunciation. Some level of standardization will still be needed.

Do you mean that all those stories about peak oil and possible technological collapse are nonsense, or that computer technology will not be affected and keep florishing while cars are rusting away?
From where will come all the energy to maintain the electric grid and internet system for computers to work?
Note that in France and many European countries cursive is teached first, starting at 3-4 years old. It help developping fine motor skills... But manual skills are probably also becoming obselete. The proof is that industry jobs are going down in developped countries. In the future, everybody will have a cushy little job selling each other virtual products. We just need to find the way to feed people directly with electricity and we can even get rid of agriculture and really fully connected online.
Note: there might be a few sarcasms in my comments

Learning cursive doesn't have to be about communicating, any more than learning to do long math is about arriving at solutions. It's about learning something difficult, exercising young minds. It's about how thoughts and language flow. That said, IMO, texting or emailing someone can't compare to writing a letter to someone longhand. It goes to depth of culture.

Less seriously, I could have fun with your driver's ed/buggy whip comment but I'll take a pass ;-)

Problem is that people who do not learn cursive writing will not be as able to understand written items from others who use cursive. Printing is slow. Cursive is the more often used writing style.

What are kids supposed to learn cursive and algebra and trig on the side now?

What language is next to cut? English itself. Kids are not even taught to be semi bilingual like they are in other countries.

Soon in Georgia we can all talk in local dialects with improper grammar.

Ain't that a pretty thing to thunk about?

Sorry removing cursive, arts, science and literature from school is a loser. The kids will not be smarter for it. The schools will produce sub-par students.

You get what you pay for.

Cursive is an archaic relic, math is used to teach logic to students. Cursive is used to sign the back of a check and nothing more.

Cursive is the primary method of written note taking in the classroom in nearly all Universities. LOL. No one writes in BLOCK TEXT. It is too slow.

Cursive is a critical skill. People in Georgia are getting substandard educations -- not teaching cursive is just the canary in the coal mine with Arts, literature, after school activities, et al.

You cannot think through problems without creative skills. It all builds intellect. Cursive is being discounted as an art instead of a hard fact like block print, but it is about teaching kids penmanship, craft and care about written communication. It also teaches how to write quickly in a single stroke per word.

You are confusing it with calligraphy, which should be taught in art class. Hey I learned all of the above. I am not an artist, but art and science are both critical to technology development.

When people begin to say what is and what is not useful -- the culture is basically dying at that point. We are trying to cut down education to basic math (grocery store math) and reading at the 3rd grade level by age 15.

That is how sad things are becoming. This is being done so that people pay slightly lower taxes while fielding an overpaid staff on the football team. Priorities are lacking in most of the US imho.

Classroom lectures with students taking notes in cursive is one of the least effective means of communicating knowledge that there is.

Professors who do not provide a written record of all the essential points of their lectures should be shot for dereliction of duty.

And one of my professors dictated most of his book on electronics by writing it on the blackboard while a classroom of students dutifully copied it down. However, the equations and diagrams didn't require a whole lot of cursive.

Well, I actually provide my lecture notes also, but the style of handwriting is cursive in my lecture notes and those my students take during class. There are type written notes also in there alongside cursive annotations of the type-written text.

I also know from experience my best students take notes and my worst students hope that lecture notes handed to them will help them on the exam by themselves. I believe that the exercise of writing down the notes and diagrams during lecture helps students learn concepts.

I may be crazy, but dropping cursive is a sad state of affairs. I also think dropping art class has lowered the education standards as well.

Yes, we may have slightly better football teams in High schools and lower taxes, but the students are not coming out better on the other side IMHO.

(A bit off-topic of a discussion for TOD I think, but...)

Cursive made sense as a writing technique when quills were dipped into inkwells, and where lifting and touching the nib would result in blotches in the paper/parchment. Cursive was designed so the nib would stay in contact with the paper for the entire word.

Most people currently communicate via typing, it seems.

For engineering and science classes, I and most engineer/geek types I knew wrote in all caps, with larger caps to indicate capitalization.

Legal signatures is an interesting use. Not sure how that will evolve, if at all.

Mr flash try taking a fully written blue-book history exam or literature exam for 2 hours and 50 minutes using only block print. LOL. You will fail.

I did not see a block printed exam in a blue book in college, but I am not going to be able to give you statistics on handwriting styles ;-)

You must be talking about math and physics or engineering where math equations indeed are not in cursive!

But again why is this debated. Cursive is used all the time in College. All day long. There is nothing to debate even. It is just a fact. Because it is extremely fast writing. The fastest form there is.

I had a Chemistry Prof. Physical chemistry and he penned all his equations with an ink pen in calligraphy and it was quite a nice set of notes. I learned thermo from a calligraphy penmanship style. The equation block was easy to distinguish in style from other text and notes. So go figure.

There are multiple styles of shorthand that are faster than cursive writing. The busy executive would not waste time in writing out a document, but instead dictate it to his secretary. It would then reappear with the spelling, punctuation, grammar, style, language, and format corrected in a typewritten form, with a carbon for the correspondence record. This kept communications well organized and undoubtedly reigned in all sorts of indiscretions that now turn up in subpoenaed emails.

A buddy of mine in University knew shorthand as a result of a rather nonlinear career path. This turned out to be extremely useful, because he could write down notes as fast as the professor could talk. Nobody else could read it, especially because he had customized it for taking notes in science classes, but it certainly worked very well for him.

However, if you are a touch typist, you can type much faster than you can write things out in longhand. I don't know if most people know that, but book authors (at least those who don't have people to take dictation for them) certainly do. When I started my IT career, we were supposed to write all our programs down on coding forms and give it to the girls in the Word Processing department to enter, which really annoyed me because I could type faster and more accurately than most of them, and much faster than I could write it out in block letters.

Good old Typing 10 turned out to be the most useful course I ever took in High School, particularly after they laid off all the Word Processors and forced the programmers to do their own program entry. Many "busy executives" who had never learned to type became a casualty of this process because they turned out to be incapable of being retrained to do their own typing and filing, so upper management gave them a golden handshake and punted them out the door.

If I were back in University I might just take a notebook computer with a good keyboard into class and take notes with it. A stenotype keyboard might be ideal because people can hit over 300 words per minute with one. And, if your law degree didn't work out (which is often the case these days) you could always get a job as a court reporter.

Miss Mesna's Typing class was one of the most useful courses that I took in High School. Turning in typewritten essays never seemed to hurt grades in college. At work I could also compose faster on the typewriter than in longhand, and the secretarial pool (later the word processing pool, according to IBM) could deliver perfect finals from an annotated typescript in a single try.

Mr flash try taking a fully written blue-book history exam or literature exam for 2 hours and 50 minutes using only block print. LOL. You will fail.


Thankfully I chose my General Electives around technical themes, that minimized such events. I somehow managed ;)

C'mon . . . tell us what decade you went to college? 70's? 60's?

Things are different now. There is something called the computer.

1971. A friend used to carry a Royal typewriter, with ribbon for those who have forgot, to her law school exams. Quite a stir, claimed she could write faster, others thought it was cheating.

I took my law school exams and the bar exam with a typewriter. People can type pretty much as fast as any cursive writing and it puts the writing into a much more useful form. Cursive just doesn't seem to have a good reason to exist these days. Again, WRITING is extremely important. But cursive seems quite pointless . . . you are better of learning how to type fast.

Provided you have something to type ON.

Am I the only one who thinks its somewhat odd that on a site with regular articles on organic gardening and declining industrial production that everyone here beleives that anybody taking classes (no matter the age or economic status) will have ready access to fully-functional laptop computer, the appropriate software, and the skills to use them effectively?

Do we expect to blog our way through A World Made By Hand?

Other points: Most classrooms available to students are not compter labs, nor do they have the outlets to allow anywhere from 30-250 students to plug in at a single time. This is a problem even now with only 3 or 4 students (out of 25) using laptops.

- No proffessor in their right mind would allow students to use their own laptop/smartphone on any kind of test or other evaluation. Testing centers can be used, but they are expensive to run properly, so most universities only have a few of them. Its far cheaper (and easier for the instructor) to give a bunch of blue books out at the end of the term.

-Laptops+wifi = easy distractions = very few notes actually taken or even listened to. Many will now be saying something about "discipline" or "kids today," but before you heft that rock, I'd just like to know how many of you are reading/posting this at work or while you have something more productive up on a different tab.

So I guess I saying, yes, you will need to know how to write free hand.


I just don't subscribe to that apocalyptic view. We have a liquid fuel crisis coming on . . . not a complete energy crisis.

"Apocalyptic" is pejorative which indicates bias. I don't find it fair to characterize legitimate possibilities based in scholarship as apocalyptic. These are very real, even probable outcomes.

I shared a table with Joseph Tainter a few months back and asked him, given his work and recent trends in various lines of evidence, what his view was and whether it was difficult to essentially have such a perspective of history. (I paraphrase; I wasn't that articulate at the time.) He stated he had been rather optimistic, but in the last few years had become pessimistic about the future.

This is someone who knows something about complex systems. I find it rather odd to look at all the lines of evidence we have of trouble now and in the future and conclude the chance of serious collapse or destabilization are essentially puffery.

I fail to understand what your risk assessment consists of.

Am I the only one who thinks its somewhat odd that on a site with regular articles on organic gardening and declining industrial production that everyone here beleives that anybody taking classes (no matter the age or economic status) will have ready access to fully-functional laptop computer, the appropriate software, and the skills to use them effectively?

Yes, all students will have these things, even in 3rd world countries. They will be cheaper than buying textbooks. Welcome to the 21st century.

No, not all students by far. Computer access is both limited and limiting here in a well-supplied US city already.

Still, the new tools are great, while the older tools continue to offer most of the same opportunity for sharing and recording ideas.

Computer access is both limited and limiting here in a well-supplied US city already.

You know, it's kind of disconcerting to hear that, because I've been in a lot of third-world countries where they had access to computers and the internet. The telephones may not have worked, the power may not have been reliable, but they could go to an internet cafe and get internet connections quite easily.

It somewhat reinforces my impression that the international goalposts have been moved and the US is not playing on the right league in education any more.

It somewhat reinforces my impression that the international goalposts have been moved and the US is not playing on the right league in education any more.

Quite agreed many people in the US, most of whom have not seen the rest of the world, do not realise it is passing them by.

On the subject of cost, when I was doing civil eng in the early 90's a computer (desktop) was $2k and I had to spend about $300 each year on textbooks. Nowadays, equip yourself with a laptop at $500, and you can skip the textbooks altogether - it's all online (and the hardcopies are in the library).

The more remote the school/university, the greater the value delivered by the computer. A university roommate of mine had grown up in the Australian outback and did elementary school on the School of The Air - conducted by two-way radio for kids at remote stations (ranches). It only went up to 6th grade and after that he had to go to boarding school - just when he was old enough to contribute real value to his parents station. He also had to catch up quickly to everyone else at high school. Today, kids in those remote locations are schooled via satellite internet, and are just as connected as anyone doing an online degree. It is the single greatest thing to enable people, communities and business in rural and remote locations. Any school, particularly high school, that is not using computers to teach kids today, is simply not preparing them for tomorrow.

The more remote the school/university, the greater the value delivered by the computer.

That may be the reason there are so many computers in remote mountain villages in third world countries - there is a great deal of value added. The telephone service may not reach that far, the electricity may not work, but they can always charge their laptop batteries up off a Honda portable generator, and get a wireless internet connection to a tower on a nearby mountaintop.

It is important for a yak herder in the Himalayas to be able to sell his yak cheese in some nearby city, and he can do that over the internet. He can get competing bids, close the deal, load up the yaks, and head off to deliver it knowing that he has gotten the best price in Nepal or Tibet.

The equipment is lightweight and not hard to get to remote locations. However, it is a bit disconcerting to be trekking high in the Himalayas in some mystical mountain kingdom, crossing a raging river on a swinging bridge, and meeting a pack train of donkeys loaded with laptops and power supplies.

I'm just speaking from personal experience on all this stuff. I like traveling and talking to the local people.

However, there is a fundamental difference between the people in these remote locations and those in the slums of some American city, though. They take education much more seriously. These people are smart and they know where the future lies. And, with modern technology they can get a really good education.

Thank you, although I've been living here for the last 10 years, and its somewhat underwhelming.

Also, as someone who teaches at a community college in a large city, I can tell you with some confidence that the technology you are talking about is nowhere near the price it needs to be to ensure that everyone has access to it. Moreover, even the students who can afford this tech typically don't use it because its still too cumbersome compared to pen and spiral bound notebook.

Oh sure, its out there, but for most of my students it is not a reality, or anywhere close to a reality.

Of course, not everyone here thinks peak oil means organic gardening for everyone and a world made by hand.

Still...this belief that handwriting is pointless in the age of computers, and there are more important things kids should be learning sort of shows how we might lose literacy one day. Seems impossible, but it's happened to other societies.

You'd be surprised of my age. I went to graduate school when photographed power point slides (yes 35 mm slides) were used. You had to go to the photomat and get your powerpoint converted to 35mm slides. LOL.

Upon graduating, we finally got a LCD projector.

In any case, the laptop is rather a recent addition to undergraduate learning but only in modest numbers. It is only a decade or so in use on a mass scale outside if the classroom. No one used a laptop in class in the mid 90s. For example, in a class of 150 only 1 student used a laptop from my experience at a major University.

Everyone listened and jotted down notes and concepts and drawings from lectures as far as I knew.

Today (c. 2007 to present) I teach about 300-500 individual students per year and I see only about 5% laptops in class. So what is the primary note taking method in use then -- pen and paper. Still pen and paper.

Without surveying the classroom for writing style, I cannot say for certain which writing style is used more often -- BLOCK TEXT or cursive.

The computer is not the dominant mode of note taking even in this so-called Age of Computers. LOL

Cursive is the primary method of written note taking in the classroom

Even forty years ago when I went to school, I though note taking was a complete waste of classroom time. If notes are needed, they should be handed out. Students should spend classroom time actively thinking about what is being covered, not playing at being midevil scribes. Classical universities started before the printing press, and lectues were a way of replicating written stuff -with the students acting as scribes. But this method should have been abandoned when the printing press became available.

Notetaking is the first stage of organizing your thoughts, placing emphasis and processing what's coming in.

Notetaking is the first stage of organizing your thoughts, placing emphasis and processing what's coming in.

That's a key point. When I was in University, I would take notes, consisting of the key points the professor made. Then, back in the Dorm, I would go through the notes with a yellow highlighter, highlight the most important ones, and write summaries and ideas about what the prof was saying in the margins of the notebook (I left wide margins for that purpose). I'd circle things I needed to research before they kicked me out of the library at closing time that night. The important stuff I found in the library I'd add between the lines (I wrote double-spaced) in green ink or some other weird color. And then when exam time rolled around I would reread all my notes, and use a red highlighter to put square red rectangles around things that would probably appear on the exam.

It's basically a memory aid - picking out the important messages and remembering them - much better than sitting in class, nodding knowledgeably whenever a professor says something important, and forgetting all about it afterwards. After all, in University, you only learn about 10% of what you need to know in class. 90% of it you have to find out for yourself.

Cursive is the primary method of written note taking in the classroom in nearly all Universities. LOL. No one writes in BLOCK TEXT. It is too slow.

The answers here are:

1) Speech to text
2) Shorthand

Both avoid cursive

1. Only works after you've trained it to your own voice for a few months, and even then not entirely well (I use one often) so this would not be usfull in a classroom situation.

2. a) relies on the user already knowing cursive
b) is going obsolete faster than slide rules
c) so... you intend to save money on teaching kids cursive by instead teaching them an even more complex and less well known system of writing?

No one writes in BLOCK TEXT. It is too slow.

Disagree. I wrote all my lecture notes in block capitals. Never had a problem.

I see very few who actually use handwritten notes. I would say 90% type them, why would I bother to write things by hand when I can type at 80 words per minute?

see very few who actually use handwritten notes. I would say 90% type them, why would I bother to write things by hand when I can type at 80 words per minute?

That's the fundamental issue - typing is faster than writing things out in longhand.

Also, learning cursive writing is a difficult skill for children. It requires a lot of practice, whereas typing is much simpler - just a matter of pushing keys. It's an intrinsically easier skill for them to learn. Also, the keyboards on the little notebook computers are just about the right size for their little fingers.

These days, a lot of kids learn to type before they start school, and they get to be really, really fast at it. When I was a kid we didn't start typing before grade 10 so we had to learn cursive handwriting. In fact, many kids didn't learn typing at all.

You make it sound like 'Learning a Hard thing that requires practise to develop skills' is somehow inherently a poor thing to ask of kids.

I'm not anti-computer.. but I'll keep murmuring Macluhan's warnings about Automation becoming a form of Self-Amputation. It bears some consideration..


With the arrival of electric technology, man extended, or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system itself. To the degree that this is so, it is a development that suggests a desperate and suicidal autoamputation, as if the central nervous system could no longer depend on the physical organs to be protective buffers against the slings and arrows of outrageous mechanism. It could well be that the successive mechanizations of the various physical organs since the invention of printing have made too violent and superstimulated a social experience for the central nervous system to endure.

We sublimate our bodies and our minds with appealing likenesses and stand-ins, and allow ourselves to grow ever more distant from our own biology and our selves. That is why we should do art and write, dance, make music or build things by hand, with the mind HEAVILY engaged in the process.. in short, 'Lively, Joyful Disciplines'.

I'm just going to put in my 2 cents on cursive: it's terrible, kill it. In Japan, "grass script" cursive was formerly highly prized, but the end result is that you have many extremely valuable, beautiful, historically important documents that are extremely hard to read. Cursive tends to minimize certain forms and be idiosyncratic, so you end up very quickly (usually nearly instantly) with someone saying "what does this say?". Block print, even written block print, is not nearly as bad.

Now, as for the rest of education - it's easy to blame the schools, but I think the cultural background is also incredibly important. I have a friend who teaches elementary school in the ghetto, and she is constantly fighting to try to get kids educated... Their environment is, as they say, "not conducive to learning". Schools themselves are often not conducive to learning. It does not help that subjects are taught in isolation - what good is high school if you leave with no skills at all?

Personally I think everyone should be trained in a trade during high school ALONG WITH academic education.

I think the cultural background is also incredibly important.

It is everything. Bell Curve: Vast majority of teachers are competent. Not bell curve: 30+% of students drop put.

Do the math.

It does not help that subjects are taught in isolation - what good is high school if you leave with no skills at all?

Personally I think everyone should be trained in a trade during high school ALONG WITH academic education.

Indeed, I'd say, "Personally, I think everyone should learn academics via trades during high school."

It is everything. Bell Curve: Vast majority of teachers are competent. Not bell curve: 30+% of students drop put.

Do the math.

It's all math, or statistics, to be more exact. It's a normal distribution curve, and it's highly predictable.

From a practical standpoint, you need to establish your control limits on the distribution. In the corporate world, a good rule of thumb was that you fire the bottom 10-15%, and promote the top 10-15% to management. The middle 70-80% continues on to do the grunt work of whatever it was they were doing.

In the educational world, a 30% dropout rate is too high, considering these people are going to be a burden on society and you can't just shoot them and dump their bodies into ditches. You need to reduce that level to only the students who really deserved to be shot and dumped into ditches. I knew many of these types in school, and in reality many of them did end up dead in ditches, but that was a result of the lifestyle and friends they chose rather than school policy.

However, you can't just say, "Vast majority of teachers are competent". In reality, 10-15% of them will be totally useless, and should be fired, whereas another 10-15% will be truly exemplary and should be rewarded with school Porsches to convince the middle masses to work harder.

I thank you for supporting my contention. If it were teachers, as is the most common theme, "schools are failing", then the quality of teaching should equal the outcome.

It doesn't.

30% vs. the expected 15%.

But maybe we should be teaching the use of buggy whips 8^). That's what my six year old will be learnng, though I'm doubtful driver's ed will be doing the teaching when he reaches that age. I'm learning it myself right now.

My children are going to learn how to grow things from seed, graft, mulch, compost, irrigate, harvest, store, cook, steal, bribe, cheat, fight, crack safes :) No...but gardening is going to be a very big thing with my children, along with cooking, plumbing, and electrical work. They can read Shakespeare after the pruning is done or the peaches are canned. Algorithms come after the soldering is completed and the leaks have been fixed. Some of the least "book smart" folks I know are the ones I'd go to in some meltdown situation. These are the guys who can fix anything even if they might not have all the tools available.

My children are going to learn how to grow things from seed, graft, mulch, compost, irrigate, harvest, store, cook, steal, bribe, cheat, fight, crack safes :)

Well, these are all important urban survival skills. The first are useful for your own purposes, and the latter ones are more useful in a corporate environment. However, if you do happen to pick some locks and steal some equipment, purely in the interests of keeping your project on schedule in the face of bureaucratic inertia, you need to know how to update the corporate inventory databases to show that it always belonged to your project team rather than the recently-laid-off staff that corporate accounting thought it belonged to. Remember that databases never lie and computer systems can never be hacked. Just speaking from experience.

"Office Space", Michael Bolton makes a great comment, "No, you're working at Initech because that question is bull$hit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean $hit up if they had a million dollars. "

I was watching "American Experience" last night on PBS. They had the building of the Panama Canal. Sure the engineers were instrumental in figuring out they needed to use locks to make it work, but without black labor from the West Indies, there would be no canal. Nobody wants to be slave labor, but in the future, we may have no choice!

I am a firm believer in tactile education -- wet lab, problem solving, art class and so forth.

Pure bookish classes have their place but the hands on experience of mucking through a problem whether a physical one or one that is abstractly described in a problem set is key.

This is real learning.

I also concur that gardening, home repair, et al are key skills for the future to begin to teach your children well. These experiences are good even if the wheels do not fall off the bus tomorrow.

Here, in Quebec, they want to do just to opposite: drop the classical letter. There is some indication that cursive improve the writing skill of children. In addition, this may save some teaching time for something more important, like metric system that save the equivalent of six month compare the the imperial or for the USA Jefferson's system.

Any science regarding student development via learning cursive will be discarded by the schooling engineers in Georgia. They just have a political axe to grind -- cut teaching and school programs -- it is very in style in the conservative circles these days. They are not interested in the science behind student development and learning via handwriting skills development. LOL. That sounds like an intelligent program in Quebec. Lets see in 10 years whose student do better.

My bet is firmly behind Canada.

They just have a political axe to grind -- cut teaching and school programs

Seems to be very much in vogue throughout the country. Georgia may be slightly ahead of the pack, but our Oligarchs want to insure that their own children (with privately funded schooling) are so far ahead of the pack that Oligarchic succession is almost guaranteed. And their propaganda, and marketting efforts are good enough to fool enough of the people enough of the time that it looks like they will prevail. Funding of propaganda, and using think-tanks as intellectual attack dogs, has been quite successful. Public money spent on anyone not already rich, is just money the Oligarchs could have kept for themselves.

I agree fully. Perhaps "cursive" is not setting me off as much as the notion the oligarchs think they are always the best genetic specimens for running our society.

I remember specific rich kids trying to get into medical school without a proper work ethic. They are just a little too lazy to keep up with the material, and they failed the MCAT! LOL. Raw intelligence aside, the oligarchs need almost no one to go to school. The normal middle class students are just that much hungrier.

Be damned though! cursive is still my go to for fast writing on a low tech medium. You cannot type on the back of an envelop either.

This entire discussion reminds me of the schtick Bill Cosby used to do talking about learning in the first grade. Talking about the yellow pieces of paper with wood chunks still in em. ( I remember those) . The task was to do the alphabet and stay within the lines. I remember him saying, " Aaaaa, Bbbbbb , may I have another piece of paper please!"

My son is doing those writing exercises now on the very same style of paper (with wood chunks) and his writing has improved dramatically in a very short period of time.

How could cursive even be something that is debated as unimportant in this country?

Blows my mind.

My daughter is just learning Cursive, too. You really are using your mind differently when you write that way.. it's like going from a pogo-stick onto ice-skates!
I never expected it would be so fun to do homework with her.

The angry reactions that have this country reeling are scary.. but also intriguing. I really like a central theme in Nichole Foss's NATION interview, where she talked about staying in a positive headspace, and not to get paralyzed by fear or other rigidities. It's a good one for me to keep in mind right now.

Considering all that talk from DC about what is 'on or off the table..' ..this craziness has me seeing it more in a Billiards sense, where we are 'rebreaking the table', which could give both sides some room to move, if we're on it enough to take advantage of the opportunity. (Or have set our contingencies in place) It's messy, and it's going to be uncomfortable.. but I don't think it has to all be bad.

"My daughter is just learning Cursive, too. You really are using your mind differently when you write that way.."

My Mother was a (very effective) special ed teacher who insisted that her students learn cursive; something their regular teachers had usually given up on. She said that teaching them cursive 'flipped a switch' in their brain that helped her deal with the dislexia, ADD, working with spacial and graphical relationships, etc. Whether it was learning cursive specifically or just working the brain in certain ways, it was part of her core program. She also worked with matching patterns and shapes alot. She tested all of these programs on me. Since I was "normal", I think she used me as a baseline or standard. She found that flowing shapes were more effective than simple blocky shapes, so maybe there is something to what you say, Bob. I think that the flow of cursive and curvey shapes help the brain to work more continuosly, connecting the dots, rather than incrementally in chunks like block letters. Maybe this helps kids connect individual thoughts into larger concepts.

I still think this should be taught to kids.


It's much more than writing.

I just asked her teacher when I dropped her off today,*2nd Gr., and she said that also, the kids WANT to know how to write in cursive. My daughter is really working on getting her signature right.

Left brain and Right brain.. yep. Hope too many folks aren't making a false choice between them.

(Lorelei and I have been doing our Grace before dinner lately by jumping up from the table and just dancing to my mom's old Jazz records.. so she's getting plenty of activity on both sides..)

You will note that John Hancock's signature is NOT in cursive (Spencerian or Palmer script) -- it's more like the Italic script taught in English schools. I like Italic (not the slanted type).

What do you mean by the classical letter? The printed roman letter; something else?

"Catabolic Collapse".......I hear it often these past couple of years and the example given is that of the 2008 meltdown and that we survived, so everything points to a slow collapse.

But using the ubiquitous Titanic analogy......If it had only opened three watertight compartments, it would have remained afloat. The sages would then have announced "I told you it was unsinkable".
Nothing would have been learned, no harm done and probably ship building and lifeboat allocation would have continued as before.

In 2008 we came a hair's breath from absolute disaster in the financial world and from that, nothing serious has been learned. We think the system is unbreakable and we blunder on. I'm scared that there is another iceberg hidden within the fog of debt growth. The next time we could very well open up enough compartments to send us to the bottom with few survivors.

"ATHENS - Educators say that timeworn tradition of learning to write in cursive may soon disappear from most children's school lesson plans."

Good riddance, quill pens have been gone for how long? And fountain pens only exist as designer fashion items. Nothing else requires cursive.

And I could never read my own cursive. I went back to printing in the 9th grade so I could read my own notes.

The Australian state of Victoria may have partially beat Georgia to the punch. Some time ago they cooked up their very own idiosyncratic quasi-cursive writing that can just as well be block-printed. Maybe they figured that it would be less shocking to older folks if they sneakily eased cursive out the side door rather than abruptly kick it out the front door.

The post office problem is even older; years ago during an attempted post-office-closing craze, somebody, I think it may have been Tom Toles, ran a cartoon showing a map of the USA with a single giant post office tower in the middle of it and people all over the country scurrying like ants to and from the tower. I do wonder whether they aren't caught up in the classic bus-company death spiral: you can't afford to keep up the service, so you cut it, which inherently makes it even less useful, so people naturally use it less, so you can afford it even less. The trouble with network economies of scale is that they are often destabilizing positive feedbacks - they can build businesses rapidly, but when times change, they can just as effectively unravel those businesses.

I don't follow the debate over cursive. That it was a style dictated by the use of quills and dip pens sounds plausible. I've printed since third grade -- printing is my handwriting. My wife was English and she learned a style of writing that looked Italic. Quite attractive, when I could read it. My husband prints, and he takes notes at all talks he attends. He's also secretary for couple of clubs. I don't know what is meant by "block printing" -- all caps? Never a good idea, outside of headlines. (Block printing technically is the use of wood or linoleum blocks to make copies.)

When I worked in England, shorthand was a required skill for news reporters. I can see why, when I observe US reporters trying to take notes in longhand. Of course, many now just use recording devices.

I still have a couple of manual typewriters in the house. For some reason, I only use the computer.

I tend to use a quasi-cursive style for many things myself. It is a good compromise between the speed of cursive and the readability of block printing. The trouble with true cursive is that if you write it too fast, nobody can read your writing but yourself (maybe). If you develop a good quasi-cursive style, you can write it reasonably fast, it looks good, and other people can read it.

Block printing is what we used to put in the nice rectangular blocks on computer coding forms. The problem with it is that, although it is highly readable, it is very slow, and you can type the text much faster on a keyboard.

Shorthand was useful at one time, when people had secretaries to write things down and type them in, but in modern days it is more efficient to type it in on a computer keyboard or use voice recognition. Nowadays nobody has a private secretary below the level of Vice President, or in many companies below the level of CEO. Often, only the top guy has his own secretary (and she may not be able to type), everyone else does their own typing.

The old manual typewriter is pretty much dead. Computers are much more efficient, not to mention cheaper. The old IBM Selectric was the gold standard in electric typewriters, a truly beautiful machine, but I knew a number of people who could type faster than the typewriter could keep up with. Computers are faster and will also correct your spelling while you are typing (sometimes a dangerous thing).

Domodedovo blast: Explosion rocks Moscow's main airport

Moscow's Domodedovo airport - the busiest in the Russian capital - has been rocked by an explosion that has reportedly killed at least 23 people.

More than 100 more are thought to have been injured in the blast, which reports suggest may have been the work of a suicide bomber.

Russia's chief investigator said the explosion was the work of terrorists.

Edit: Leanan beat me to it

FROM "Where's the rest of the oil?" up top. More PO bashing: "US output was expected to fall from the late 1960s. But new discoveries have constantly pushed that date back.." Once again the simplicity and audacity of the lie will fool many. US oil production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million bopd has and declined to the 5.4 million bopd level by 2009. Intentional or not, they mix US production rates with global rates.

Details, Rockman. You understand details.

The average Fred Flintstone sees rather a complex scheme of market traders working in a massive conspiracy to hold them all over a barrel emptying their pockets, where the elite are conspiring this PEAK OIL theory to justify the looting. See the bad bankers can be demonized and connected to high oil.

See that makes more sense.

The other complex idea is the the enviros have blocked all that drilling and want the oil price high to stop global warming. Connect the green folks to high oil and get your pro-deregulation agenda through the political system. Drill Baby Drill I guess that was the idea.

You need to sculpt the theory to match other pet areas you want demonized or promote simultaneously to make political progress of these issues in America ;-)

Re: Where's the rest of the oil? (uptop)

In 1956, when the concept of "peak oil" – the point at which production starts falling – was formulated, US output was expected to fall from the late 1960s. But new discoveries have constantly pushed that date back.

Wow. This needs to be archived for some kind of top 10 list of most misleading MSM articles. The writer is referring to Hubbert's 1956 If, Then statements about Lower 48 production, to-wit, If Lower 48 URR are 150 Gb, then we peak in 1966; If Lower 48 URR are 200 Gb, then we peak in 1971. Of course, Lower 48 production, and in fact overall US production, peaked in 1970. The writer implies that US oil production has been steadily increasing since the Sixties.

He further seems to imply that the US can satisfy domestic demand with current production until 2018 if it just stops importing!

while the US would run out by 2018 if it did not import.

Some articles are so flagrantly misleading that you almost have to admire the skill with which they were written.

I wonder if we are seeing more and more people showing CPSR (Cornucopian Primal Scream Reponse), as it gets harder and harder ignore three things: (1) So far, annual world crude oil production has not exceeded the 2005 annual rate; (2) Global net exports have declined relative to 2005/2006; (3) The "Chindia Factor," the steady increase in Chindia's combined net imports as a percentage of global net exports.


I notice he is a financial journalist listed in Debrett's. He was banking journalist of the year 2003. Presumably he got that award for writing about how great the banking industry was and that no one should listen to anyone sounding an alarm.

From the article:

Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, headed by the Government's former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, has published a paper saying the world's ability to meet future oil demand is at a tipping point. The true level of reserves is only 850 billion to 900 billion barrels, meaning the age of cheap oil is over.
Commenting on that paper, Jörg Friedrichs, a fellow at the school, avoids saying whether peak oil has been reached but warns that the effects are potentially disruptive.
"Oil is a finite resource," he says. "It will run out at some point. Reactions would differ in different parts of the world. Increasing conflict over scarce energy would undermine the foundations of the worldwide social, economic and political normalisation processes that have been observed over the past few centuries."

"worldwide social, economic and political normalisation processes that have been observed over the past few centuries."

I don't know about the agenda of the writer of the piece, probably only trying to restock his liquor cabinet.

But Jörg's got me worried about the quality of education at Oxford.

Any ignorance, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from malice.

Yeah, but it would be blissful malice...

articles so flagrantly misleading that you have to admire the skill with which they were written

In days of old,
when knights were bold,
and (something something) hadn't been invented
they put a jester on the chopping block
and revolutions were prevented.

One of the jobs of the court jester is to keep the crowds entertained with sh*ts and giggles while the serious stuff of chopping heads moves forward for sake of maintaining BAU.

Writers like this one are the modern versions of court jesters.
All one needs is a smooth tongue and lots of bull sh*ts and giggles, even as the blood flows.

[ i.mage.+]

In keeping with this theme (the MSM evidencing strong signs of CPSR), we have a new WSJ article by Russell Gold talking about the US emerging as a major energy exporter. The article has a chart showing US petroleum, natural gas and coal exports, in dollar terms. Of course, the "Net" term was not mentioned. My comment on the WSJ website follows.

WSJ: Firms Plan to Export Gas
Two Companies Develop Gulf Coast Terminals, but Others Oppose Overseas Push

Spurred by huge natural-gas discoveries in the U.S., two companies are developing terminals along the Gulf Coast to export gas to Asia and, possibly, the Middle East. If the plans go forward, the U.S. could become a major energy exporter, putting a dent in the U.S. trade deficit. While the U.S. is still the world's largest importer of energy, mostly crude oil, it has also emerged in the past year as a growing exporter of coal, diesel and other fuels.

But some individuals and groups argue that the new facilities to export gas aren't in the U.S.'s interest and don't make economic sense.

My comment:

Regarding the article on natural gas (NG) exports, and the chart showing oil, NG and coal exports in dollar terms, of course the more complete picture is NET exports/imports. Following is a link to a chart showing the US Consumption (C) to Production (P) ratio for petroleum, NG and coal (EIA data). Oil and NG are through 2009, coal through 2008:

Using a C/P ratio, 100% is the dividing line between net importer and net exporter status. The US is of course the still the world's largest net oil importer, and I believe that in 2009 we were the world's third largest net natural gas importer. Regarding coal, we are just barely self sufficient, and a few years ago, we actually slightly slipped into net importer status for coal, on a tonnage basis. 

Readers will have to judge for themselves whether the article and chart accurately represented the most recent import/export data for oil, NG and coal.

Regarding the larger energy picture, my problem with the MSM coverage is that practically no one is addressing the fact that so far annual global crude oil production has not exceeded the 2005 annual rate, despite a generally rising oil price environment, while global net oil exports are down relative to 2005/2006, with China and India taking an ever greater share of what is (net) exported. In only four years, Chindia's combined net imports as a percentage of global net exports increased from 11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009 (and probably to about 19% in 2010).

tow - Implied? You're being kind: "new discoveries have constantly pushed that date back". No implying there...just a flat out lie. Maybe he really doesn't understand the subject matter at all. But no less a dangerous statement...just like the mistake a teenager made in Houston yesterday by killing his friend with an "unloaded" weapon. Another unintentional "mistake" but dead is still dead. In neither case should an insufficently trained and supervised individual be allowed such latitude IMHO.

I just think about all the good efforts many folks have made to explain the situation to the public and this idiot may be read by more than all the others combined. Just seems so hopeless at times.

Looks like a few comments are questioning the article. That is good to see. Maybe this clown will make some corrections.

Nevermind . . . I was referring to a different article.

Where's the rest of the oil?

In 1956, when the concept of "peak oil" – the point at which production starts falling – was formulated, US output was expected to fall from the late 1960s. But new discoveries have constantly pushed that date back.

It appears that there is a very thick, low lying fog surrounding the editorial desks of The Independent.

As all authoritative-sounding pundits should know, US oil production and proven reserves peaked in 1970. Someone should send them a memo.

I was there when it happened, or rather, didn't happen. The look on the faces of US oilmen as they drilled up all their prospects and found more or less nothing was horrible to see. Their goal from that point forward was to make it all the way to early retirement without being laid off, which many of then didn't.

Graphs for the edification of those who weren't there:

The big jump in reserves is caused by discovery of the supergiant Prudhoe Bay field in Northern Alaska.

The secondary peak on the Production graph is the Alaska North Slope fields coming on production after the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was (belatedly) completed.

Unfortunately, there was only one Prudhoe Bay in the US. The oil companies looked everywhere, but that was the last supergiant oil field ever found in the US. Actually, it was one of the last ones ever found in the world. Pickings got very thin after the 1960's.

And when you mash them together you get:

US Reserves and Production

And here's the Lower 48:

Boyce Lower 48

Permalink to TOD discussion from last June, where I picked up this handy graph. Seems like all that frenzied drilling in the early 80s paid off ever so slightly, maybe.

Nicely done.

Three things that we can say about that lower 48 graph:

  1. The proved reserves peaked at the time that the production curve crossed the discovery curve.
  2. The production curve crossed the discovery curve about ten - fifteen years after discovery peaked.
  3. The production curve peaked about ten - fifteen years after the production curve crossed the discovery curve, roughly the same delta as point 2 above.

These facts are all entirely consistent with Hubbert's full cycle analysis:

Now, what can we say about global oil?

  1. The production curve crossed the discovery curve about 1980.
  2. The production curve crossed the discovery curve about 20 - 25 years after discovery peaked.
  3. The oil shocks of the late 70's, and resulting global recession of the early 80's flattened the production curve somewhat and probably pushed the production peak out by 5 - 10 years.
  4. We are now 30 years past the time that the production curve crossed the discovery curve, roughly the same delta as point 2 above, give or take the offset in point 3.

Given these facts, then we can say, based on Hubbert's full cycle analysis, backed up by U.S production/discovery history, that the probability is extremely high that global oil production has peaked.


Nicely done.

Same for you, Jerry. With many respect for WHT's work, these are the kind of graph's that caught my attention when I started to 'study' the oil matter. Simple, very important information.

I have a mathematical proof showing that reserves peak when the discoveries intersect with production.
Page 271 in http://TheOilConundrum.com

It's good to have proofs to keep the Lynch's and Yergin's at bay. They tend not to believe in purely empirical analyses, including graphs (see section starting on page 309).

I have a mathematical proof showing that reserves peak when the discoveries intersect with production.

Discovery and production profile depend on a lot of variables, but not all of them are mathematical.

They are set by mathematical definitions, therefore you use a mathematical proof. If the definitions were set some other way, you would use some other technique. That's pretty cut and dried.

To a boy with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.


It sounds like I am being anal retentive but this is the only way to keep people like Yergin and Lynch at bay. I have watched how they work, and removing any kind of ambiguity is the only way you can prevent them from weasel-wording the argument in their favor.

They are set by mathematical definitions,

If, for example, demand wouldn't have been flattened out in the '70s then the intersection point would have been a few years earlier.

This is not a hard proof, given that reserves are "everything you have discovered, that has not yet been produced". As soon as you are sucking it out of the ground faster than you are finding new stuff to suck, reserves start to decline. And the point just before the decline begins, is the peak.

Simple, very important information.

Thanks Han,

It does seem odd that we haven't seen the analysis presented in simpler terms more often. After all, it's really not that hard to understand:

Given that the area under the production curve will equal the area under the discovery curve, then if you know:

  • when discovery has peaked, and
  • when the production curve has crossed the discovery curve

then you can make a pretty good guess when production will peak.

We've all seen the "growing gap" graph from ASPO, I've overlaid a rough approximation of my take on the Hubbert full cycle analysis on top:

Up until the oil shocks of the 70's world production was on track to follow the "ideal" curve which would have peaked in the 1995 time frame at 40GB/yr. By the time Campbell and Laherrère published their Sci. Am. article in the late 90's it was clear that the production curve would be much flatter, not peaking until the 2010 time frame, and at a rate closer to 30GB/yr.

Right about where we are now and, it should be noted, easily accommodating the much publicized "plateau".

Hubbert himself explicitly gave no guarantee what the shape or symmetry of the curves would be:

Figure 12 shows the complete cycle of world oil production, based upon a round figure of 2 X 1012 bbl for QT and upon the assumption of an orderly future evolution of the petroleum industry. According to this figure, a peak production rate of 40 X 109 bbl/yr is due to occur about the year 1995, and the middle 80% of the world's oil will be consumed between about 1966 and 2022.

Fig. 12: Estimate as of 1972 of complete cycle of world crude oil production.

Should an orderly evolution not ensue, it is possible that the production rate might become stabilized at some nearly constant rate near that of 1975. In that case, the area in Fig. 12 above that constant rate would be shifted farther in time and distributed along the back slope, thus prolonging by a few years the time required for near-exhaustion.


Props to WHT for his elegant proofs, but given how clear, simple, straightforward and easy to understand this analysis is then it seems to me the burden of proof should be on Lynch, Yergin, et al. to demonstrate why world production would NOT be peaking right about now.


Beautifully done. I'd like to see this with up to current data, then a line showing future analysis based, perhaps, on Megaprojects, etc.

It's relentless work. A couple days ago, I put a reference to The Oil ConunDRUM book on the Peak Oil Wikipedia page. Someone named NigelJ removed it for what he claimed were violations of wikipedia documentation rules. So I made some changes and added it back in. They might remove it again. I will have to wait a few days and then possibly repeat the process.

It was a fair removal. Your initial entry was too technical for the introduction section of a wiki article. The subsequent positioning in the 'criticism' section is much better and I can't see any reason why it should be removed. The fake ISBN in the citation might hold them off for a while... ;-)

To be fair to wiki, they have to be strict to keep some semblance of integrity to the site - and it's a great job that they are. Things would be far too convoluted / unreliable without the mods.

Your initial entry was too technical for the introduction section of a wiki article.

No they have the Logistic explanation in the header w/o any followup, which according to their own rules is wrong.

The fake ISBN in the citation might hold them off for a while.

It's not a fake ISBN.

Hmm, I guess the online ISBN databases don't cover all books. Couldn't find it with a quick google.

It's probably futile. Wikipedia doesn't accept web pages as legitimate references. PG has gone numerous rounds trying to get TOD linked on that page, but the links are always removed, because web pages don't count.

Yes. The Oil Drum is linked a couple of times. The prime example is the Export Land Model. That can't be on Wikipedia w/o reference to TOD. The inconsistency of the mods s a huge problem.

This needs to be archived for some kind of top 10 list of most misleading MSM articles.

Is that top ten, or top ten thousand! Just as the schools have suffered from grade inflation, it seems the media has hit onto misinformation inflation.

Behind a paywall, but viewable via Google:

Energy Power Shifts From the West

The center of the global energy industry is shifting away from the West as publicly traded companies in Russia, China and Brazil take more top spots in an influential global ranking of the world's energy giants.

The report, by Washington, D.C., consulting firm PFC Energy, is an annual effort to rank the world's largest listed energy companies. The PFC Energy 50 study, being released Monday, illustrates the dramatic change that has taken place as rising demand is driving up stock prices in the energy sector.

Leanan - I suspect the shift is even more skewed than that statement indicates. ExxonMobil is a huge energy giant. While they may be a US corporation a very large percentage of their activity (as well as oil production/sales) occurs outside the US. ExxonMobil is a major producer of oil in Africa but about as much of that oil is sold to US refiners as sold into the EU. Federal law, as well as various trade agreements, don't allow XOM to preferentially sell their production to US companies. If the EU or China are capable of outbidding US refineries for all of XOM global production than that's where the oil will go. IOW that oil belongs to XOM...not the United States of America. I suspect there are a lot of folks outside of TOD that don't understand that little fact.

According to upstreamonline.com today, Brent finished at $97.85 up a little at 1601 GMT.

And WTI is down about a dollar. About $10 below Brent, depending on the exact contract.

And spot price, WTI is nearly $15 below TAPIS. $86 and $101.

As of noon, Eastern time, the only two spot prices that are down globally on Upstream are WTI and Alaskan crude. Note there is about a $10 gap between WTI and Louisiana Sweet, versus about $3 three years ago.

Canadian oil appears to be flooding into the trading hub at Cushing, Oklahoma in increasing amounts and forcing down the price of WTI.

Surge of Alberta oil tames rise in prices

Oil prices are climbing across the board, but diverging by region. The benchmark North American crude, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), is trading at a near-record discount to the leading international crude, North Sea Brent.

“The increased production from Canada is definitely a factor in keeping oil away from $100 a barrel,” said Phil Flynn, Chicago-based analyst at PFGBest, a futures trading firm. “If you are using more of the heavier [Canadian] crudes, you are going to be using less WTI, so it definitely has an impact in keeping our prices down and our supplies more ample,” he said.

There are plans to get it all the way to the Gulf Coast, but there is pushback in Texas, as in the article above One oil pipeline too many for Texas?

The article doesn't mention another big Canadian pipeline company planning to build a pipeline from Cushing to the Coast: Enbridge's Monarch Pipeline, which would move 350,000 bpd.

Texans are used to Texas oil flowing north to refineries in the MidWest, not to Canadian oil flowing south to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. However, you only have to look at Texas production as compared to imports from Canada to see what is happening:

The alternative, in case people don't realize it, is another pipeline project that would take Canadian oil sands production to China - Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline. This would solve the backup of Canadian oil sands production at Cushing, but not to the advantage of the United States.

Oil pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) confirmed China's Sinopec Corp. is one of the investors in its proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline that will ship diluted bitumen from Alberta to a marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia.

I've been mentioning on TOD that the Chinese had some big investments in Canadian oil, very much under the radar, but apparently now the cat is officially out of the bag:

Enbridge had kept the participants under wrap, citing confidentiality agreements.

"It's a strong group of producers and refiners which we're not able to divulge," Daniel told the audience. "But one of them announced themselves, and that was Sinopec. So I guess we can now speak to them."

At 350,000 barrels of oil, the pipeline to the West coast is a big one. It would make a sizable dent in the oil the US imports from the tar sands.

It will be enough to level out any price differences. The producers will probably get a few dollars extra while some buyers that buy to a lower price because of transportation bottlenecks also have to pay the same as others.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is actually proposed to be a 525,000 bpd pipeline to carry bitumen from Edmonton, Alberta to the port at Kitimat, British Columbia, plus a 193,000 bpd pipeline to carry natural gas condensate the other way. The condensate is intended to be used as diluent for the bitumen pipeline. So, I guess the net flow to the West Coast is around 350,000 bpd.

However, Canadian bitumen production is expected to rise by about 1 million bpd over the next 10 years, so it will take only a third of the flow. By contrast, 885,000 bpd of pipeline capacity to the US was added in 2010, and a further 855,000 bpd in pipeline capacity has already been approved. So, while the Northern Gateway Pipeline will make a difference in the price, the US price for Canadian oil will probably remain below the international price. Americans will continue to get a bit of a break from international prices for a while.

Not good in OHIO

'Multiple' gas fires spark Ohio mass evacuation

Officials were inundated with reports of 'furnaces erupting into flames'

Current temp. 14°F

"The community-wide evacuation... was later revoked, after authorities managed to shut off gas to the area."

Come on home. Everything will be fine.

Even worse are the commenters that blame Obama for spending money on roads instead of Oil and NG pipelines, which the industry has not maintained and appear to be setting records for failure this last calendar year.

Socialism for certain companies is OK--is that commenters bottom line. Obama is doing the wrong kind of socialism. LOL. Who knew?

I think prices are being held down because oil/gas pipelines are not being maintained properly thus lowering capital costs -- shifting cost of oil and gas to insurance premiums, repairs, and loss of life and other places to hide the constrained energy reality.

Now finance and insurance folks are not carefully looking into safety at these companies and they are kind of guilty as well. Honest accounting would show that we are overdue for infrastructure work on the industrial complex.

Hard to hide your ugly cousin (Peak oil) in the closet for all those dinner parties though. He keeps getting loose, burning dinner guests at the table. "it was just an accident. Sorry Mr. So-and-so we can replace your property." (((for a little while longer)))

German Government Rejects Report ‘Peak Oil’ Occurred in 2010

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may boost oil supply this year as demand for crude rises amid a recovery in economic growth rates to near levels last seen before the global financial crisis, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said today. The IAE last week raised its 2011 global crude-oil demand forecast for a fourth month as the recovery gathers momentum.

Several links up top talk about OPEC increasing production and with that spare capacity would drop. But the point is everyone expects OPEC to increase production soon and the Saudi Oil Minister has hinted that they will do exactly that. This will be worth watching closely. Just who will increase production and by how much. And who's production will continue to decline. These next few months will tell us a lot about OPEC and how much spare capacity they really have. By June, at the latest, we will all know which OPEC members can really increase production and which ones are blowing smoke.

Ron P.

It's obvious that we don't need it. At anything over $92, the west is "well-supplied" : )

Assuming a total liquids production rate of about 10.0 mbpd and consumption of 2.8 mbpd for Saudi Arabia in 2010 (versus 11.1 mbpd and 2.0 mbpd in 2005), I estimate that they would have to boost their 2010 production rate by about 2.1 mbpd, to 12.1 mbpd in 2011, if they wanted to just match their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

Re:German Government Rejects Report ‘Peak Oil’ Occurred in 2010

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government rejected a report by Germany’s armed forces that global crude-oil production reached its maximum last year, parliament’s HIB newsletter said.

Crude output “can be increased through 2035 under today’s conditions, assuming an optimal development and exploitation of reserves,” HIB said today, citing the government’s response to a query by the opposition Green party. The government’s outlook is based on International Energy Agency estimates, it said.

Hmm, so the opposition Green Party questions Angela Merkel's anti green policies based on the Bundeswehr's report on peak oil and Merkel's response is to say that the Bundeswehr is wrong based on the fairy tale projections of the IEA and that crude output can be increased through 2035, no worries?! Considering the fact that she has a PhD in physical chemistry it's hard to believe that she is not fully peak oil aware, but politics can be quite strange. Methinks that the higherups in the German Federal Defence Force may soon be supporting the Green party and not Merkel...but that's just a hunch.

Ronny Rayguns other woman, Margaret Thatcher the Milk Snatcher was a chemistry graduate. Look at the UK now..

Crude output “can be increased through 2035 under today’s conditions, assuming an optimal development and exploitation of reserves,” HIB said today, citing the government’s response to a query by the opposition Green party. The government’s outlook is based on International Energy Agency estimates, it said.

The IEA does NOT see CRUDE output increase, but natural gas liquids and unconventional oil

IEA World Energy Outlook 2010: Global crude oil production will never grow again

The problem with unconventional oil is that energy profit ratios are very low and that CO2 emissions are much higher compared to conventional crude oil. Climate sensitive Chancellor Merkel should actually know this.

Re:German Government Rejects Report ‘Peak Oil’ Occurred in 2010

Considering the fact that she has a PhD in physical chemistry it's hard to believe that she is not fully peak oil aware

What she really needs is a degree in petroleum geology, plus a little experience in trying to find oil. Those people who are actually working petroleum geologists are considerably less confident in their ability to find future oil supplies.

The main reason the Germans invaded North Africa in WWII was to get control of the oil fields there, and the main reason they were smashed flat by the British was that they failed to do so. The British denied them access to African and Middle Eastern oil, and after that they never had enough fuel for the Luftwafte. The British, however, had access to American fuel, and at that point in time the US had huge amounts of reserve capacity to supply the war effort.

The main reason the Germans invaded Russia in WWII was to get control of the oil fields of the Caucasus. The main reason they were smashed flat by the Russians was that they failed to reach the Caucasus, so while the Russians had enough fuel for their huge tank force, the Germans were reduced to trying to convert coal into oil. This was not very effective, especially since the Allies made a point of bombing all of their coal-to-liquids plants.

So, short history lesson finished, the reason the German Army is concerned about oil supplies is that they have been through this kind of thing before, and it was a bad experience for them. The German government needs to pay more attention to what they are saying.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana

Those people who are actually working petroleum geologists are considerably less confident in their ability to find future oil supplies.

True. Yet they don't write any books about this issue, or tell the world about it, at a sufficient frequency in comparison to the urgency of the crisis.

Let's name the ones spreading the word, the petroleum geologists and petroleum engineers, not necessarily geologists or geophysicists:
1. Campbell (a real petroleum geologist)
2. Laherrere (petroleum engineer)
3. Deffeyes (he is a geologist, but worked with Hubbert)

Who are the others? The above three are also close to retirement but they plow on which is commendable.

Over the last decade the petroleum business has really changed. Right now if you are actually good at finding and developing oil you have a great opportunity to make money. That might be one reason they don't spend too much time writing about it.

The other reason could be because they never did very good at cursive writing. I know it almost caused me to drop out of elementary school.

This discussion is a little bit of topic but ... Romania was the most important source of oil for Germany during the second world war and from the pictures I have seen the allies made a point of bombing everything built in Germany including residential buildings.

Romania was out of range for our bombers.

Our bombs were not very accurate. We (and the US when they joined in) go fed up trying to hit the target and hitting civilians by mistake, so we ended up aiming for civilians. They were an easier to hit.

We didn't bomb Heidelburg, in exchange for them not bombing Cambridge.

I don't think we would make such gentleman's agreements these days.

KSA and other OPEC countries price oil in Brent. Any increase in exports would be in Brent IMO. I doubt, if push comes to shove, that if the US needs Middle East oil, the oil will not be sold for anything less than the Brent market. Who knows, maybe New York oil traders are obsolete?

Wow a moment of "truth" for OPEC.

I feel like I am in that poker game when I finally have a strong enough hand to call out the blatant bluffer with across from me.

Maybe we get another bluff though -- they may never show their cards in this game. That has worked for decades for them.

Based upon shipping reports, up until and including today, OPEC exports (repeat exports (shipments), not output) will probably be up a little in February as compared to Janaury. However it looks like February will not exceed December shipments. The extra February shipments may be connected with a KSA refinery going offline soon.

In other words, there is no sign yet that OPEC has signifcantly increased exports, or plans to, and its next schedule meeting is months away.

Please note however that OPEC can increase output but perhaps use most or all of that for themselves (see the exportland model). In fact, with KSA closing a major refinery in February for maintenence, they may actually increase gasoline imports.

Previously my guess a few months back is that OPEC won't increase exports until we exceed $100 oil - and as of now we are fairly close to that level for Brent. But my guess is also there will not be any significant output increase until about $120 (signifcant being over 500,000 bpd higher than current levels, if possible)

Always happy to hear from someone who is keeping up with the detail. Keep it coming.

As a side note: you refer to shipments only - are there no pipe export routes out of Saudi? Or other significant OPEC countries? You see the point - outside of the US is shipments really the indicator to watch?



I was more specifically talking about shipping reports from the Mideast in general, although for OPEC as a whole, the tanker tracker, Oil Movements, is saying the same thing about early February (excluding Iraq) - that is exports are running less than December.

I am a bit sketchy about inter-country pipelines in the Mideast, but I believe they are mostly used for products - although Iraq and Iran are to a limited extent exchanging oil for products directly by pipeline.

Merkel knows this is a big deal. First, the Euro project (which is really a German/French project and ultimately a German project) is failing. Second, peak oil is likely to disrupt world trade and heavily impact German export industries.

Combine this with an aging population and Germany is going to lose alot of power in the years ahead. It'll still probably be a much better place than most parts of the world.

For whatever reason history keeps squashing German attempts to rule Europe.

They should learn to just be content with their little piece of the globe.

The Euro - disliked by most Germans - was possibly a price for re-unification

Russia's oil peak and the German reunification

Yesterday, there was an article on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal mentioning peak oil and The Oil Drum, but the article is no-where online. The article is called "Rising gas cost fuels worries" and the subtitle is "Businesses brace for consumer cutbacks."

A caption by a figure of a gas pump on the front page says:

Expensive energy tends to crimp consumer spending, so economic experts are wary of the toll of rising economic gas prices.

When the article continues on page eight, there is a table connecting past recessions to rising oil prices. It gives dates of rising gas prices, percentage increases, and date recession started. There is also the statement, "Gasoline prices seem to have played a role in the Great Recession".

Regarding oil limits, the article says:

Some experts say the world may be feeling its way through a period of "Peak Oil," unable to push daily production any higher.

And that would be a recipe - at least until alternatives emerge - for dramatically higher energy prices.

More optimistic experts, including the U. S. Energy Information Administration, argue that new sources of oil are being found. And there is at least a near-term cushion--extra, unused capacity among OPEC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Kingston said. "I would say that the supply is there to make sure that a price spike doesn't happen."

Not everyone feels reassured.

The article then goes on to quote me as saying there is no independent confirmation of the data, and saying I think OPEC is lying about the amount of its spare capacity. It also mentions my saying that if world oil supply remains flat, it is a problem. The article mentions my being with The Oil Drum, and calls it "one of the most watched oil web-sites on the web".

The article also mentions James Hamilton as saying each $10 increase in a barrel of oil adds 25 cents per gallon at the pump, "So $10 per barrel in the price of crude takes away about $35 billion from consumers' ability to spend on other goods and services."

The AJC seems not to be publishing its major stories online anymore, perhaps to get people to buy the paper version.

Gail, just an observation that the economy seems to be rolling along so far at oil prices at or above the range of causing another recession. The stock market keeps climbing. Is there a lag time between higher oil prices and a recession beginning?

"....the economy seems to be rolling along so far ..."

Jeez, Earl. I suppose it depends on where you look, who you ask. From Yesterday on TAE:

To summarize: 108.616 million people in America are either unemployed, underemployed or "Not in the labor force". This represents 45.5% of working age Americans.

If you count the "Part time employed for non-economic reasons", you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or "Not in the labor force". That represents 53% of working age Americans.

So only 47% of working age Americans have full time jobs. While the official unemployment rate is 9.4%. Something's missing somewhere.

I personally know many folks who are struggling. Some are losing homes, cars, insurance. Many won't admit it but they are "rolling along" running on fumes, insisting things will 'turn around'.

Read the article on TAE regarding how the FED, tweeking its accounting methods, is socializing its risks onto you, the people. Forclosures expected to reach a new high this year, State and municiple deficits at all-time highs and increasing, infrastructure in decline; all of this despite massive injections of QE capitol. Rolling along ...... like a car going downhill, out of gas. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Good summary, Ghung.
There is a difference between the stock market (Wall Street) and "Main Street".
The stock market is responding nicely to massive liquidity injections.....for now.
But the primary, macro-trends are still very much in force.
1) Peak Oil
2) Massive government debt at all levels and getting worse each year especially on the Federal level.
3) Massive exporting of middle class jobs and thusly, the tax base from which we are supposed to pay the bills.

One doesn't need an MBA from Wharton to be able to guess where this is leading.

The stock market is responding nicely to massive liquidity injections.....for now.

Its much more than that. The stock market is going up because the investor class has triumphed over the working class. So more of the pie will be going to investors, and less to workers (and former workers). Corporate profits are doing very nicely.

...... like a car going downhill, out of gas. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

You forgot to mention that the brake lines have been cut to make sure it doesn't stop rolling until it rolls over the cliff...

Earl. I suppose it depends on where you look,

Jeez Ghung, that's true. My question was for Gail because she did a post a while back indicating 85 dollars was the point at which recessions occur. Lately the price has been close to, at or above that level and yet profits are up for businesses and that's why the stock market is rising. So my question to her was did she think there was a lag time between when oil prices rise to or above 85 before a recession occurs?

Obviously the economy right now is a mixed bag with many people remaining unemployed, but it is rolling along from the standpoint of corporate profits. Otherwise stock prices would be going down. Didn't you see some of the business stats today? Anyway, the question for Gail stands.

Sorry Earl. I'll butt out.

BTW, the article Leanan linked to has some rough dates for recessions and related oil spikes.

Thanks Ghung. I understand peak oil, aka the name Perk Earl, and its implications. But as much as some might think the brake lines have been cut, the downward slide is an undulating one that will have many facets to it. Evidently many businesses are outsourcing to other countries to access cheap labor, and that's part of why corp. profits are higher, and partly why unemployment remains high here. But I wanted to get Gail's take on it. This is the 2nd time I've asked her in a few weeks on here, so I'm excited to find out what she thinks.

earl - I suppose it's a debate on definitions. GDP has improved but not unemployment. Corporate profits have improved but foreclosure rates are still sky high. But as far as corporate profits it would interesting to see the source: perhaps sales are up but perhaps laying off folks helped improve the bottom line for many companies. As usual it's probably a mixed bag of cause and effect. Personally I see GDP changes as less meaningful then ever. For me unemployment, trade deficits and the increase in govt borrowing to fund its budget appear much more meaningfull. And hovering over all those aspect is the prospect of real PO pain perhaps not being too far down the road.

So yeah...I'm being a pissy pessimist at the moment. But its cold and rainey here today to my mood seems right. LOL.

The key thing to remember about corporate profits is that largely we're talking about multinational corporations here. The profits are real, but they're being earned overseas and being kept offshore.
The corporations and Wall Street get the profits, the rest of us get the unemployment and the tax bills. Small cap and mid cap companies, the primary engine of new employment, are not investing or expanding nor are they creating jobs. They get to enjoy the credit crunch along with the rest of us suckers.

We really ARE being played for suckers, you realize. The rich and powerful get the money, the rest of us are supposed to suck up the tax bill double time. This is all thanks to the dopes and idiots and criminals who are our political representatives in Washington, DC.

I did an analysis of consumption of oil and employment in the US, (found here) and it showed a strong correlation. (There was a 0.5% per year downward trend in oil consumption per job, indicating a small amount less oil was needed per job over time.)

Of course, the rising consumption of oil is mostly in countries like China and the exporting nations. I attribute this to the way the economy all works together. If a company here pays someone a salary, it increases two kinds of demand for oil (1) the oil involved in the construction or transportation of the goods or services provided and (2) the oil that the person hired pays for his salary. If the employment happens in China, the same thing happens there. Of course, the Chinese worker needs less oil than the US worker, so it makes the price of hiring the worker there cheaper. A lot of the electric power in China comes from cheap coal, and that helps too.

If we have to import oil, and world oil production stays flat, it looks to me like US oil consumption will have to drop further. That either will mean that in the future, there will be fewer US workers working, or they will be paid less (in terms of what their salaries will buy for oil products).

To add to the caveats, another thing to consider is what would corporate profits, GDP, unemployment, stock valuations, etc be if:

1) FASB 157 were rescinded tomorrow,
2) congress prohibited the Federal Reserve from any further monetinizing of debt (including hiding it using the TBTF banks), and
3) the Federal Reserve were forced to undergo an Emergency Forensic Audit that would uncover the Real paper trail of the bailouts with the intention of clawing back the that which was illegal.

IOW, What would happen to any economic indicator you want to use, if our economy were to go back to Standard Operating Procedures, instead of Emergency Operating Procedures ?

The stock market stopped tanking in '09 only after FSB 157 and QE started - it stopped tanking only when we decriminalized fraud and promised to back-stop the TBTF that were in fact all going to fail.

I respect your point, however, I believe you have the facts regarding FASB 157 backwards. If my memory serves me correctly, FASB 157 was "implemented" in November 2007, at the peak of the last market cycle. The Dow was just off its all time high of 14,000. The rule was "suspended" in March, 2009 at the absolute bottom of the recession. March 9, 2009 Congressman Barney Frank ordered FASB to modify Mark to Market Accounting to stop the bleeding.

FASB 157, in its original implementation in November, 2007 simply forced the banks to look beyond their own records, beyond their own models, and find a "bid" in the market. Given the lack of liquidity the "bid" was sometimes difficult to determine. Banks were then forced to write down loans, even those that were current to the "bid" price. More than anything else, I believe this implementation of Mark to Market Accounting, FASB 157 did more to crash the economy than the run up in oil prices. I might add the SEC repealed the Uptick Rule in July 2007, a rule that had been on the books since 1938. The repeal of the Uptick Rule and the implentation of FASB 157 together contributed to the financial collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc.

I'm not claiming to have the perfect solution. In my judgement, Mark to Model is probably not the best accounting method, however, the implementation of Mark to Market Accounting (FASB 157) is also problematic and ultimately unsustainable.

Both of these decisions were implemented by the SEC under Chairman Christopher Cox. Just FYI, on Mr. Cox's last day in office, January 20, 2009, he sent a letter on SEC stationary to Congressman Ackerman, (D) New York, suggesting the next administration reinstate the Uptick Rule.

Like sheep, the public follows the whims of the SEC thinking "these guys are the smartest guys in the room". I respectively submit they are not.

As a final footnote, when a major S&P 500 company increases their dividend they do so with an absolute belief that the dividend increase is safe. Nothing kills a stock price more than a reduction in the dividend. In August, 2007, Bank of America increased their dividend 20%. A few months later they were being bailed out by the Federal Reserve. What changed? FASB 157, November 2007. Banks went from profits at the 3rd Quarter, 2007 to BILLIONS of losses for the 4th Quarter, 2007. I asked Senator McCaskill, (D) Missouri, what would the banks, i.e. Bank of America, had reported for 4th Quarter earnings had FASB 157 not been implemented. Her answer, and I quote "frankly no one has ever asked that question".

Thanks for the background Tass. It sounds as though FAB157 was meant to prevent fraud and promote honest accounting (but that it may have not been designed as well as it could have been). And then when the retail and commercial real estate bubbles started to pop and falling asset prices had to be accounted for, the "honest accounting" was enough to bring down Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc.

The key to me is they had to "modify mark to market to stop the bleeding" - IOW, go to mark to model/pretend because the financial system could not handle honest accounting. Which leaves us in the situation now where we do not know what confidence we can have in any finacial accounting.

If the economy is really recovering, why do they still need to "stop the bleeding" ??? Do we have to wait for the Fed to re-inflate the bubble prices before we can have honest accounting? And when that next bubble starts to pop, do we again suspend honest accounting?


EDIT: Tass, you note that you believe the original FASB157 helped cause the collapse of BearStearns and Lehman etc... Maybe that is because they were so full of FRAUD that they could not survive Honest Accounting:

JPM/BearStearns - Join Countrywide in Mortgage Fraud selling "Sacks of Sh*t"

We really ARE being played for suckers, you realize.

Oh, I understand that completely and am part of the crowd being played. Personally I don't think anyone that can't plop down 10k for a fundraising dinner means much to those fat-cats anymore. That system of being a politician at the Fed level, then becoming a lobbyist is IMHO the height of corruption, not much different than any other corrupt govt.

We the middle class have lost. Post peak oil effects will be the coup de gras.

Dang Earl...you just came so close to making me feel guilty. Here I sit so comfortably sucking from the tit of our fat-cat centric economy but there is a silver lining: I've never given a $ to a politician let alone plopped down $10k for a seat at a fundraiser. And to be brutally honest it's difficult for me to feel guilty about the public as a whole. They wallow in their self righteous ignorance of the reality of life and let their unrecognized greed drive them to support short sighted policies. The only time a dark cloud hovers over my beaming smile is when I think how our militay folks are being sacrificed to support this unsustainable system. Add the unavoidable collateral to the innocents and it really begins to piss me off.

Or to put it on a very personal level I view the American public as I do my siblings. For years I tried to support them through their ups and downs with drugs, unemployment, criminality, child abuse, etc. Eventually the hopeless nature of their self-induced circumstances couldn't be ignored so I cut them all loose. Sadly enough I've come to feel the same towards our society over the last few years. You don't have to be a PhD on TOD to grasp the seriousness of our situation. And yet the public routinely rejects indication of our situation.

Sorry again...still cold and nasty here so I'm still feeling rather pissy.

I'm glad you got that off your chest, Rock ;-) I feel about the same.

Me too. LOL. Actually it's not so much the weather but one of my coworkers is irritating the crap out of me the the last few days. Unfortunately I can't cut him loose like I did my siblings.

Unfortunately, your cure is speeding the disease. The only long-term cure for all those ills is healthy community <==> environment.

I don't think that's necessarily so in this case. Rock is talking about getting clear of 'owing his help to people' that seem to be immune to what he has to say. Why lead horses to water that you know aren't going to be drinking any? He hangs out with the good, thirsty horses (virtually, anyhow, as in US!).. the others'll have to come when their soda machine or their quarters finally run out.. and good luck to them!

I understood what he said. One doesn't have to enable to remain connected. But, in fairness, the point isn't so much about him as the future. Also, the context is different now. Everything is different now. It's a new normal energetically, economically, environmentally (new research reported today). At a personal level, I have done as he described in the past, but now is a time of necessary coming together or all perishing, so we have more impetus to work through such issues for our own good and the greater good.

It likely is a time for coming together, and a common effort - I think Rock's point that those who can't be bothered to make the effort should be discarded is quite valid - in fact maybe more so than ever.
The prairie Indians (in Canada, at least) had to deal with this every fall as they moved to their wintering grounds - those who were too old, sick or injured to make the trip were given a months supply of food, and made comfortable in their teepee with a view of the river (preferably with a nice bottle of pinot noir). You can be sure that if said tribe had any miscreants or members that did not pull their weight, they would likely be left behind too, if not banished altogether.

A community in tough times cannot afford waste - everyone has to do something earn their keep, or, to use the modern version of banishment, they'll be voted off the island.

I guess that was what I was trying to say as well.

Instead of banging our heads against the 'wall' of people who don't see a need to change, we need to locate the doors and windows.. take advantage of the places where there is the possibility of movement (or 'a movement') .. not spending all one's energy and eagerness in Quixotic battles.

This is all thanks to the dopes and idiots and criminals who are our political representatives in Washington, DC.

I would say its far more to the dopes and criminals we call journalists. The politicians can follow through on the programs for the rich, because enough of the people are fooled by the combination of circuses and misinformation.

Personally I see GDP changes as less meaningful then ever.

I don't know how the Fed Govt. defines GDP. If it's an unrealistic way like they define unemployment, then maybe in real terms we are still in a recession. My business has picked up these past 4 months to pre-recession levels, so maybe I'm extrapolating the microcosm to the macrocosm and that just ain't so. Anyway, things are still rocky, that's for sure.

I was sort of expecting another step down in the economy similar to 08 by now, but that didn't happen - at least yet, and MSM seems all revved up like our economy is going to the Moon. There are definitely mixed signals right now.

PE, I don't know how they crunch the numbers either.
But consider these thoughts.
GDP is inversely corollated to CPI.
The lower the CPI number the government comes up with, the higher the GDP number they can claim.
The government has a vested interest in spinning CPI as low as possible. Why? Because CPI directly affects the budget. Increasing CPI means increasing payouts for COLAS for SS and increasing payouts for TIPS Treasuries.

So, if one were to look at the situation from the perspective of a homicide detective, one would say that the government has both motive and opportunity to spin the numbers as favorably as possible.

I haven't really studied how long it is between the time reaches $85 and the economy hits a recession. I would think the momentum the economy has and how weak or strong it is would make a difference. Before the 2008 recession, oil prices broke $85 in October 2007, and the peak and decline came in July 2008, so that was 9 months later. This time, oil prices broke $85 in December, on average. It may be that the economy is a little weaker, so we may hit a peak and decline relatively earlier, say May - July. Food prices are a definite problem now, too.

It seems like the people pushing the stock market along are thinking recovery is here--and, part of that is more demand for fossil fuels, steel, and everything else, which pushes oil prices up. But it can't keep going indefinitely.

Thanks for your reply on this topic Gail. Maybe earlier than the previous 9 month gap in the May - July range sounds like a good possibility for the timing. I can only see prices going higher at the pump & grocers as we approach another 4th of July crescendo of filling up the speed boats and loading the whole family in for a mega barbecue rib extravaganza. Last 4th of July I was stuck at a huge gas station waiting to get fuel and thought this insanity can only go on for so many years and wondered which july 4th would mark the last one to be so overdone.

The people pushing the stock market to include those plunking down the big bucks must really have a lot of faith in unconventional sources of oil, or simply be blind to peak oil. Maybe after they get blitzkrieged again, they'll be more hesitant in the future to go all in.

I haven't really studied how long it is between the time reaches $85 and the economy hits a recession.

I think you are being too simplistic. Firstly the trigger price probably isn't constant, but changes with time. Hopefully it is growing higher, as people attempt to become more oil efficient. Also it may not be the time above the trigger, but probably the integral of how high above the trigger price times time (or something like that). A price just a little above the mythical trigger value, will take a lot longer to work its damage than a price much higher than that.


I like TAE but that article you quoted has more holes than a brick of swiss cheese. It counts everybody age 16 in older as part of the work force. Apparently high school students are supposed to be working full time jobs and nobody 60-65 years or older should be retired. Also, those just out of high school shouldn't be going to college or some sort of tech school, they should get out there and take whatever full time job they can get. Then there are those who have decided to stay home to raise their children rather than go the 2 earner, daycare route. Once these people are factored in that work force number from the article (239 mil) shrinks considerably. No I don't believe the BLS 9.4% number either. I'd say the truth lies somewhere in between.

Exactly! If you want to entertain yourself with old photographs, go to Automatic Earth. If you want to be entertained with wild prose, go to Kunstler. For a data-driven look at the economy (particularly housing) go to Calculated Risk (http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/) Oh, and Paul Krugman just had a blog entry on labor force/employment using the base population that is most applicable (post-college to pre-retirement, 25-55): http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/ (scroll down to January 22nd, Eurosclerosis, Then and Now)

For US macro economics add to your list:


Those 16 and older who are in school are counted as part time employed .....

•Part time employed for non-economic reasons: 18.184 million people. Non-economic reasons include school or training, retirement or Social Security limits on earnings, but also childcare problems and family or personal obligations.

....as are retired folks or folks 'employed' in non-paying situations.

This isn't the author's definition (the 'holes' you describe), it's the BLS's definition. My take from the article is that it shows the number of folks that could be working but aren't. These folks are being supported by some other means, point being that, while the official unemployment is around 9.4%, the economy/society is 'supporting' roughly half of the population who could be but aren't producing sufficient income to support themselves. While the BLS isn't counting these people, the article attempts to count them as 'everybody else'.

I think there is value in this perspective and find it a bit disturbing, in that a huge segment of our society is producing little to nothing and others are consuming much more than they produce. Overshoot in its truest sense. Add to that the folks who are employed that don't actually produce anything, yet consume like crazy, and are supporting the rest, at least financially.

I guess we could define roughly half our population as the "leisure class" :-/ This condition has been enabled by cheap abundant energy, period, and is IMO grossly unsustainable, macro-economically and physically. In previous empires, most of these folks would have been enslaved or dumped in the wilderness to fend or die. Our 'compassion' comes at great cost.

At one time, the roughly half of the population in the "leisure class" that were supported by the other half were mostly female.

Now the situation is more balanced.

Yeah, it seems misleading to call those women "part of the leisure class." A large portion of them were living in rural areas and engaged in productive activity (i.e. growing gardens to help feed the family). It is quite different from the situation we have now where many of the unemployed are stuck in apartments in urban areas with very little to do. So, although the stats mentioned in the article are not perfect, I agree with ghung that it is informative to think of half of the current population supporting the other half.

I don't think that situation ever existed. It was the ideal in the 1950s, but the June Cleaver life was never the norm for American women. Women may not have worked in the corporate world as much, but they did work: taking in boarders, working on family farms or in family businesses, doing piecework at home, taking in laundry or sewing, etc.

Quite true! I grew up on a farm, and my mother and other farm wives that I knew certainly worked a full day. However, they never showed up on any government statistics as "employed", and they would have been considered to be supported by their husbands.

I would also make the case that retired folks (like myself) are not necessarily less 'productive' as far as society goes. It is quite feasible and possible for a retired person to have what I would term a higher ratio of actual productivity to resources consumed. My carbon footprint has shrunk quite a lot since retiring, and I can and do get involved in community volunteer type activities which, if done by a salaried person, would either be a lot more expensive or not happen at all. Also there is the extended family benefit of having granma or granpa taking care of the little grandpersons while their parents try to make it in the conventional production type economy.

So when you get the urge to bash the 'unproductive' retired folks, be aware that they may be more productive than you think.

Also there is the extended family benefit of having granma or granpa taking care of the little grandpersons while their parents try to make it in the conventional production type economy.

According to Stephanie Coontz in The Way We Never Were, at the turn of the previous century, it was the norm for white women to work while their children were young, then withdraw from the workforce when their kids were old enough to work outside the home. Almost the opposite of the situation in the middle of the 20th century, when white women stayed home when the children were young and went back to work when they got older. (Minority women pretty much had to work all their lives.)

I'm not sure how you think I'm bashing anyone. This isn't about morality or judgment. It's about claims on limited resources. The fact is that historically recent massive injections of energy have enabled things like retirement, social safety nets and entitlement programs. Limits to growth will mean that commitments won't be honored, promises won't be kept. Sorry if you don't like that.

IMO, a lot of folks are going to be disappointed going forward. I'm not going to win any popularity contests by pointing that out, but there it is.

The fact is that historically recent massive injections of energy have enabled things like retirement, social safety nets and entitlement programs

The fact is...eh?

Massive just doesn't have that facty kinda feel to it.

I'm not sure how you think I'm bashing anyone. This isn't about morality or judgment. It's about claims on limited resources.

I didn't mean to imply you were bashing anyone, but my point is that the 'claims on limited resources' can conceivably be less by a person working outside of the conventional economy, especially if the person is conscientious about resource footprint issues.

It is pretty conventional wisdom to characterize retired folks as being unproductive and therefor a drag on the economy. I'm sure this is true in many cases-- maybe even the grand majority of cases-- but I don't think it has to be this way at all. And in an era when certain resources are becoming scarcer, it makes more sense to re-define productiveness in terms of per-capita net consumption rather than assuming that everyone with a conventional job is being 'productive' while assuming that retired people are 'unproductive.'

The stock market is not the economy. The companies within the S&P 500 are not even the economy, at least the U.S. economy. Record profits are being achieved without increasing the number of U.S. workers hired. American companies, at least the biggest, are not in a recession but Americans still are in a recession. And this will continue regardless of what happens to oil and gas prices.

It's available at LexisNexis.

Gail - Thanks. The most interesting statement IMO is: "I would say that the supply is there to make sure that a price spike doesn't happen." Which essentially confirms that Kingston doesn't beleive we are experiencing a oil price spike today. I suppose it's all in the eye of the beholder. $90+/bbl looks rather spikey to me.

$90+/bbl looks rather spikey to me.

Got any predictions for the price post spike?

$120 this time???

Did the spike just get spikier, or inverted. I'm lost.

This time we can expect the politicians to jump up and down on the oil traders (calling them speculators) and hobbling their freedom; to look to the electorate like they are 'doing something'.

My guess is a double spike, one when the price goes over $100 in the headline figure, followed by political action to force it down, then supply problems, followed by a spike up to $140ish, then the next recession step down.

The really big question is if China can hold it together this time, or if their bubble will get burst.

gary - "This time we can expect the politicians to jump up and down on the oil traders". I don't like the sound of that: for more than 30 years throughout my oil patch career we've been targeted as the "evil ones". It was bad enough when Dick Cheney usurped our title for a while. But to now have to turn it over to a bunch of expresso slurping 20 somethings....I just can't accept that.

LMAO Rockman. Thanks for that... and don't worry, you are still evil!

Don't worry Rockman, your time will come again.

When supply starts declining, the market is so controlled that the 'speculators' can't be blamed - well who else is it going to in the firing line?

If they can claim that the only reason climate scientists are are pointing up the issue of climate change is to get more research money - what's to stop them stating authoritatively it's due to the failures of the oil companies that more oil isn't found.

"What are those useless geologists doing, there's [xx] billion barrels in [area x]; they must be just trying to keep it from us."


"Drilling dry holes? How can you be told where the oil is still not hit that lake of oil? They are claiming there is no oil so they can cap it and come back to it when the price is higher. Its worth more to them in the ground."

Once the SHTF there will be enough blame for all, and you can bet it will flow down to those least able to play the political game to shift it on.

Fury at Petrol Ration Plan

The first time that I heard about possible petrol rationing in the UK. And that there is an 'All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil' in the British parliament. They seem to be in favor of Tradable Energy Quotas, something similar to what the country had during World War II. Every adult person should be given the same amount of TEQs a month. They can be sold or bought.

Many commentators stress that this approach was highly unsocial, hitting the fuel-poor most. Since everybody is given the same amount of TEQs a month (and many poor people don't own cars) I don't quite understand how this could be unsocial. Is heating fuel included in the scheme?

Very efficient wealth-redistribution scheme. You cut out the middle-man (government). The rich give money directly the the poor. In the end, the total fuel allowed will have to satisfy the growing economy.

Well I gave up my car 3 years ago. I rent one every now and again when needed. I sat down with a spreadsheet and worked out that adding up the depreciation, road tax, insurance, parking, MOT and servicing and of course petrol I was spending at least £3,000 per year on the car. And that was 3 years ago. So now I am happy to spend probably £500 on hire cars, £500 on train fares and about £500 on taxis per year. Quids in.

So am I to presume that I too will be given my fair share of TEQs? Will I be able to off-load them to my van-owning mates down the boozer? And how will I account for the petrol I use in the cabs? I guess the price will have to go up. Incidentally, every now and again Sainsbury's (big supermarket chain) has a "spend £50 and get 5p off litre of fuel" deal. I have in the past saved these tokens up and payed the taxi in them - if the fare was £5 I would give him the equivalent of £10 worth of 'free' fuel and all was happy!

China interested in Sasakatchewan oil

TOKYO—Canadian National Railway Co. and some Chinese companies are in talks about possible exports of crude oil produced in Canada's inland province of Saskatchewan via railway to a West Coast port, Saskatchewan's energy and resources minister said Monday.



An interesting projection - even more optimistic than I would have guessed, if you can believe that!

Bakken Crude May Account for 15% of Domestic Output by 2015

Crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota’s Williston Basin will help account for nearly 1.2 million barrels a day, or 15 percent, of U.S. output by 2015, analysts from Raymond James said today.

The North Dakota rig count rose to a record of 166 in December and production has tripled since 2006, according to the state Industrial Commission Department of Mineral Resources. The analysts predict that will rise to almost 200 by 2013.

So they reckon US crude production in 2015 will be 8mb/day with 1.2 mb/d from North Dakota.


They could be including all-liquids.

And refinery gains.

So they reckon US crude production in 2015 will be 8mb/day with 1.2 mb/d from North Dakota.

Hehehehe. More likely it will be 4 mb/d of US crude production, with 0.6 mb/d coming from North Dakota.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't laugh. It may not be all that funny for Americans (North Dakotans excepted).

Two points, which I have made about a thousand times now: (1) The fact that oil companies can make money in post-peak regions does not mean that they can make a material difference in global supplies (case in point is the North Sea, where one mbpd of new post-peak production only served to slow the rate of decline to about 5%/year); (2) Sam Foucher's most optimistic scenario is that the combined post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) from the (2005) top five net exporters will be 50% depleted in 2014 (and the top five are collectively currently performing below Sam's best case projection).

Having said that, I think that the "Rock" and I are about ready to join the bandwagon, and encourage everyone to buy large houses with large SUV's out front. Party on Dudes and send more money to the oil producers. We can use the dough.

Incidentally, here is one oil analyst's opinion from 2005:

By Eric J. Fry, October 5, 2005

“We are swimming in crude oil right now,” one oil analyst 
remarked last week.

Indeed, we may be drowning in it, according to the latest 
inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute (API). 
The charts below show U.S. crude oil inventories from two 
different perspectives. From either perspective, crude oil 
supplies are ample – so ample, in fact, that crude oil may 
struggle to hold above $60 a barrel, or even $50 a barrel. . . Meanwhile, demand for crude oil and for refined products has been falling. . .

Rising supply, coupled with falling demand, is not the 
typical bull market equation. To the contrary, the 
deteriorating “technical condition” of the crude oil market 
suggests that yesterday’s steep selloff will not be the 
last steep selloff. An ominous “head and shoulders” 
formation has developed on the price chart of crude oil.

wt - And don't forget they also need those big swimming pools with NG fired heaters (gotta get rid of this NG glut). Along those lines I just dropped a rant on Peak Earl elsewhere about my disgust with the public's refusal to accept what should be obvious by now. It seems the older I get the more I'm drawn to simple old cliches. In the case to the public: "you made your own bed so now lay in it". And I might add: "And shut the hell up."

Along those lines I just dropped a rant on Peak Earl elsewhere about my disgust with the public's refusal to accept what should be obvious by now. It seems the older I get the more I'm drawn to simple old cliches. In the case to the public: "you made your own bed so now lay in it". And I might add: "And shut the hell up."

I still have some sympathy since not many people are out there telling the truth and many people are lying to them all the time. The people telling the truth are often mocked as fringe lunatics or self-interested people who just want to push up the price of oil. And much of am radio blasts the comforting message of "We will have plenty of oil once we get rid of those tree-huggers that won't let us drill.". And since the Carter 'malaise speech', no politician will ever stand up and say that we have to use less oil . . . that is widely viewed as political suicide.

But my sympathy is wearing thin. As you point out, it should be obvious by now. USA oil production has been in decline FOR 40 YEARS! It doesn't matter who holds political office, the oil situation is what it is. People are not going to do anything until they are slapped down hard with high prices . . . and even then they'll blame various scapegoats (speculators, OPEC, Dems, GOP, Cheney, Arabs, IOCs, etc.)

In the case to the public: "you made your own bed so now lay in it". And I might add: "And shut the hell up."

Thanks, Rockman, for summing up so succinctly my own feelings. Working at a truckstop, I've become quite cynical regarding the public's grasp of the situation.

Bakken Crude May Account for 15% of Domestic Output by 2015

Well, given the high probability of $200/bbl oil and $6/gallon gasoline, combined with the impending collapse of US Gulf of Mexico production due to the lack of drilling - I'd say that's highly likely.

Great news if you live in North Dakota. Not so good if you live in one of the other 49 states.

Some additional background on Newfoundland and Labrador's Lower Churchill Falls hydro-electric proposal (click on the map in the link below for further details):

Lower Churchill

As you may know by now, our parent company Emera Inc. and Nalcor Energy of Newfoundland and Labrador have come to an agreement to construct a hydroelectric generating facility at Muskrat Falls in Labrador. The associated projects include various transmission lines that will bring electricity to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and potentially New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and even the Northeastern United States.


Certainly, I believe this agreement is representative of a growing sense of energy independence, self-sufficiency and even pride among many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. For Nova Scotia, this new source of energy will help us achieve our renewable energy goals, such as reaching 40% renewable generation by 2020 and will allow for greater interconnection of intermittent sources of renewable generation like wind and tidal energy that could use the new and upgraded transmission lines. From NS Power’s perspective, it will also help reduce the amount of coal burned at our thermal generating stations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also will help us achieve our objective of long-term price stability for electricity in this province.

see: http://cleaner.nspower.ca/post/Lower-Churchill.aspx

Within the next ten years, Nova Scotia Power expects to double our installed wind capacity (from 275 MW to 581 MW) and the final number could reach as high as 981 MW (provincial load now averages 1,370 MW). The Lower Churchill Falls will be a critical backstop to this plan, especially if we shoot for these higher targets.


The Nova Scotia wind power project may actually work if it has Labrador hydro power as backup. The problem with all wind projects is that you more or less need 100% backup for those days on which the wind does not blow.

Of course, the true objective in this is to do an end-run around Hydro Quebec, which is the main obstacle to rational electricity development in Eastern Canada. It's all politics.

The problem with all wind projects is that you more or less need 100% backup for those days on which the wind does not blow.

Once you get to wind being more than 10-15% of production, I think this statement is pretty much true, and is accepted by everyone in the electricity industry, except some of the wind and solar promoters.

Small wonder that GE and Siemens, the largest makers of gas turbine power plants, are also the leading developers of wind turbines.

It is equally true the the real objective is to do the end run around Quebec, and good for N&L and NS for doing so. In taking control of their transmission they empower their own electricity industries, renewable and otherwise - best hopes for Maritime power!


No doubt about it, the Lower Churchill Falls will be there to pick-up the slack at a moments notice and those ETS heaters will likewise help NSP dispose of excess wind energy at 02h00 and 03h00 in the morning when demand is low. Strengthening our interties with New Brunswick will help too as they will allow us to pool our generation resources more efficiently.

Meanwhile, the pieces continue to fall into place:

Emera CFO gets Churchill project job

Nancy Tower is moving to a more powerful job.

As the chief financial officer for Emera Inc. and Nova Scotia Power, she has been promoted to overseeing development of Emera’s portion of the $6.2-billion Lower Churchill hydro project in Newfoundland and Labrador.


The company also announced that Rick Janega, currently Nova Scotia Power’s executive vice-president and chief operating officer, has been promoted to president of Emera Newfoundland and Labrador, reporting to Tower.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1223856.html

As a side note, we lost power at 07h43 this morning when an auto recloser caught fire, knocking out a major substation and plunging 7,000 customers into darkness. Power wasn't restored in our neighbourhood until earlier this evening and by that point the temperature in our home had dipped to 8°C (I broke one of the knobs on the generator so we couldn't run the boiler on backup power). No big deal for us, but older friends of ours two doors down weren't fairing quite as well in light of the bone chilling weather we've been experiencing of late. I dropped off a carafe of coffee in the morning and returned with hot chowder and grilled cheese sandwiches at noon, but by late afternoon it became apparent we had to get them out of the house and into a warm shelter (adorable but stubbornly independent, that was no easy task). We finally got them into the car and to a restaurant where we enjoyed a nice leisurely dinner and they told us how they had met at Oxford sixty years ago, fell in love, married, their time spent living in the wilds of Kenya and the circumstances that eventually brought them here. I mention this because there's often talk of how we must prepare ourselves for the difficult times that lie ahead, and I wonder if these plans will include our friends, neighbours and the community at large. I pray I never need find out.


It's good that the other Atlantic provinces are finally managing to distribute some of Labrador's surplus power, over Hydro Quebec's dead body, I'm sure.

I keep a Honda portable generator around in case the power goes out here. I hope I can find it if I ever need it, and can siphon some fuel out of the car to make it run.

I have a wood-burning fireplace in the living room which could heat the whole house, and a natural gas burning fireplace in the basement that could do the same. Neither requires electric power, but the issue is distributing the heat through the house, which would require electric fans.

As the guy who installed the gas fireplace pointed out, I could use the fan on the main gas furnace to distribute the heat from the gas fireplace, but that requires electricity. It would only make sense if the main furnace failed (which has happened with previous furnaces), but I could use the furnace fan and the distribution system to distribute the heat from the gas fireplace (or the wood fireplace).

If the power went for a long period of time, I guess I would shut off all the breakers except the furnace and a few lights, and plug the Honda generator into the main panel. It would keep the lights and the gas furnace running. And then I would heat up some water on the gas stove to make a hot rum toddy, and sit back to wait for the power to come back on.

If the natural gas went, as well as the power (which seems unlikely), I would have to use the wood fireplace to heat the house, but it would be nice to use the Honda generator to run a few fans to distribute the heat - otherwise only the living room would be warm.

We have four propane fireplaces and they're our weapon of last resort against the cold. The problem is that without generator power to operate the circulation fans you're relying on just the radiant heat through the glass and efficiency takes a huge hit. Originally, they had projected that power would be restored by 13h00, then 14h00, 16h00, 17h00, etc., so I was fairly confident it would be back on by evening and, sure enough, the list of affected areas on NSP's outage page started to shrink by late afternoon, so it was just a matter of waiting our turn. Again, no problem for us, but ten or twelve hours without heat in an eighty year old home with only seaweed insulation, the best option is to take shelter elsewhere.

I don't harbour any ill-feeling toward Hydro-Québec nor their tough line stance with Newfoundland and Labrador; the Maritimes will be well served by this alternate route which wouldn't have come to fruition otherwise. I wish relations between the two provinces were more amicable and that the original deal had been more equitable, but if any other utility were in H-Q's shoes I'm sure they would act no differently. That's the nature of business.


I keep a Honda portable generator around in case the power goes out here. I hope I can find it if I ever need it, and can siphon some fuel out of the car to make it run.

RMG, I'm not a huge fan of portable generators to begin with but living in south Florida I know plenty of people who own them... the number one rule is to keep them well maintained and run them at regular intervals. Otherwise you can almost be absolutely sure that they won't run when you really need them. Oh, and if they have a battery electric start then this advice is even more important.

Good luck!

HinH, Curious about how a knob can break and render a generator useless in a situation where you really needed it? visegrips?

Hi Turnbull,

The generator in question is a Yamaha 2400iS (http://www.yamaha-motor.ca/products/products.php?model=3209) which is a fantastic portable generator. It's the fuel on-off switch to the left of the choke. The knob is attached to a long plastic shaft and I had tried using vise grips to turn the metal receiving stub but without success.

I took it in to my Yamaha dealer who was able to to turn it to the on position. It can now start it as I would normally and hit the red kill switch to turn it off. The dealer has ordered the replacement part which should arrive next week and it will be covered under warranty. I have a larger Honda generator as a backup but it's a non inverter model and I don't like using it with our boiler due to its dirty power (I don't want to risk frying the Tekmar control system).


I can see why you didn't try too hard and possibly void your warranty. Would a good quality computer UPS clean up the power from the big gen?

If push came to shove I would have found some way to turn the fuel value but I knew power would be restored later in the day and I didn't want to monkey with it in case I ended up making things worse. A UPS would have addressed the power quality concerns nicely, although I ditched mine shortly after I moved everything over to the ThinkPads (the oil burner and circulation pumps draw about 300-watts in all). Compared to the Yamaha, the Honda is annoyingly LOUD and fuel thirsty (no Eco Throttle) and so those are two more reasons why it sits in the back of the garage. [I tested it a couple weeks ago and it ran surprisingly well even though it hadn't been started for sometime.]


Would've been nice if they had this 10-20 years ago.

Split-cycle engine now more efficient than traditional combustion engine (w/ Video)

The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been testing a 1-liter, two-cylinder engine for almost a year. The preliminary results suggest a 30-36 percent increase in fuel efficiency for the naturally aspirated Scuderi™ Air-Hybrid and a 25 percent increase for the base model. The test engine generates 135 horsepower at 6,000 RPM, which is similar to results of bigger and more fuel-hungry cars.

135 hp from a 1-liter - not bad. Since we can get around with 40-60 hp that might mean a 250-300 cc engine.

There was an improved 4 stroke engine developed in the early 1990s. It was funded by GM and was documented in Electronics world. Using a turbulent cylinder for a fast complete burn it needed a beefy spark - hence the electronic feature. It improved dramatically [~20%] in both economy and power together.

GM just sat on the research results..

This engine looks to be a gasoline engine with diesel efficiency, because of the high effective expansion ratios possible. We don't know how well this approach works with a diesel type direct injection with no spark plug. The video mentions a Miller cycle version, without stating whether the engine they are testing uses this approach. Their web site points out that the high power is achieved with a turbocharger, so the power output vs displacement isn't very unusual either. The other question might be how long the engine would last with the 50 bar compression pressure and the 1 mm clearance volume. The article claims that SwRI has been "testing" their engine for a year, but that does not mean the engine has been run for a year (8760 hrs)...

E. Swanson

135 hp from a 1-liter - not bad. Since we can get around with 40-60 hp that might mean a 250-300 cc engine.

That's equally true regardless of whether this innovation is adopted. We can get similar levels of power from engines today.

Honda makes a production 954cc motorcycle engine that puts out 154 horsepower.


"Honda makes a production 954cc motorcycle engine that puts out 154 horsepower."

But don't count on it lasting 100,000 miles with indifferent maintenance.

My RD-350 put out 39 HP back in the day, but it was a 2-stroke. Kept it on-the-pipes consistently for an entire tank of gas once and got 70 MPG too.

And at 24,000 miles it needed a complete rebuild.

On the other extreme Farmall M's (gas engine) are still in use. 36 PTO horsepower, 4.1 Liter engine. 5.6 compression ratio.


The fundamental problem with gasoline engines in general is that fuel efficiency drops dramatically at reduced power settings. The compression ratio, one of the most important parameters in thermal efficiency, is also limited by preignition. Direct injection gasoline engines promise much greater fuel efficiency, but so far have undetermined durability.

Diesels do not have these problems, because they compress the same volume at all power settings, and cannot ignite the fuel prematurely because it is only injected when ignition is needed. Diesel durability is also well known. However, they do tend to have more exhaust pollution problems than gasoline engines, largely due to nitrogen oxides.

Two-cycle diesel engines have been used for around a hundred years, in sizes ranging from a few horsepower to 109,000 horsepower. From 1938 to the end of the 20th century the Detroit Diesel 2-cycle engines were probably the most widely used heavy duty diesel engines in the world.

The fundamental problem with gasoline engines in general is that fuel efficiency drops dramatically at reduced power settings. The compression ratio, one of the most important parameters in thermal efficiency, is also limited by preignition. Direct injection gasoline engines promise much greater fuel efficiency, but so far have undetermined durability.

Well . . . run them at high power settings and use the energy to charge a battery. Someone should make a series-hybrid that only has the gas engine connected to a generator for charging a battery & capacitor. (Instead of the cool but very complicated GM Volt system.)

I initially saw a Volvo hybrid (Brochure) from some 90's car show that had a direct MiniTurbine>Genset onboard.. direct drive, high speed, single shaft. I thought it looked like a fine idea, but never heard about it again..

It were a fairly successfull technology demonstrator and rumour is that it were one of the inspirations for Toyota Prius. If I remeber right were the turbine expensive, not fuel efficient enough and the batteries too expensive.

I have sometimes wondered if its high RPM generator technology togeather with magnetic bearings could have lead to an lubrication system and gearbox free jet engine.

Chrysler Turbine Car

The fourth-generation Chrysler turbine engine ran at up to 44,500 revolutions per minute, according to the owner's manual,[1] and could use diesel fuel, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, and even vegetable oil. The engine would run on virtually anything and the President of Mexico tested this theory by running one of the first cars—successfully—on tequila. Air/fuel adjustments were required to switch from one to another, and the only evidence of what fuel was being used was the odor of the exhaust.

That must've been some good tequila.

Much of the expense was likely the reduction gear required to reduce 44k rpm to 2k, and one of the marketing problems was that folks didn't like the way it sounded. Nothing sounds like a V8, but that was 1963. Folks might feel differently these days, especially in a hybrid with multi-fuel capability.

Thanks Magnus;
I read about it well before any of this was on my radar.. and heard nothing since. I wasn't sure I hadn't dreamt it.

I did wonder if the High Speed might also have had either noise or gyroscopic issues that made it impractical.


Jag had something in dev. last year, it seems..


Jaguar Land Rover is working on the car with British gas turbine manufacturer Bladon Jets and electric motor manufacturer SR Drives. The Technology Strategy Board, which funds business development in the U.K., is underwriting the first serious attempt at a turbine car since Volvo built the Hybrid Environmental Concept in 1993. The goal, according to Bladon, is the “world’s first commercially viable – and environmentally friendly – gas turbine generator designed specifically for automotive applications.”

...the Jag — like the Volvo — would use a miniature gas turbine only to generate juice for the electric motor. Bladon says its axial flow turbines are small, lightweight and run on anything from natural gas to biofuel. That, it says, makes them a great alternative to the conventional engines used in range-extended hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt.

Hope we hear more about it..

and this seems worth a look,


...In early demonstration testing the car is getting up to 80 miles per gallon and travels 40 miles on electric power before the Capstone turbine generator starts up and charges the lithium ion batteries," added Langford.

"Capstone was founded on the concept of a C30 powering hybrid vehicles so it is extremely gratifying to see the Langford Ford with a C30 under the hood," stated Darren Jamison, Capstone's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Langford did an exceptional job integrating the turbine, power electronics and batteries into the vehicle without impacting any of the seven seats or increasing the overall vehicle weight," added Jamison.

And don't this turbine engines output massive amounts of waste heat? You can't exactly have a car outputting thousands of degrees of heat into city traffic the way the turbine APU on a Jet airplane does out on the tarmac.

The heat output of a gas turbine engine can indeed be a serious problem for land vehicles. One of the big problems with the M1 Abrams main battle tank is that the exhaust from the gas turbine engine is too hot for troops to walk behind it. Troops moving into battle like to walk behind an advancing tank to protect them from enemy fire. Tanks moving into battle like to have troops behind them to warn them about enemy hazards. In fact, the old M60 tank had a telephone on the back so troops could talk to the tank crew. However, the M1 is impossible to walk behind, so that advantage was lost.

The heat signature of the M1 exhaust is also an attractive target for heat-seeking missiles. Fortunately, the Iraqis didn't have too many of those.

The biggest problem with the M1 is that the fuel consumption of the gas turbine engine is about twice as high as a diesel. It takes 10 gallons of jet fuel just to start the engine, and it burns more that 1 gallon per mile. This is a serious logistical problem since the speed of a tank advance is limited to the speed of the fuel trucks which must accompany it, and of course the fuel trucks are much more vulnerable to enemy fire. Also, the gas turbine consumes 12 gallons per hour at idle, so unlike the old diesels it can't just sit around with its engine idling, ready to charge into action on a moment's notice.

In future, the US will probably return to diesel engines for its tanks.

I never knew about the phone, but makes perfect sense.

One of the reasons they went to the turbine was that it saved space in the tank, but then, that saving was used up by the fuel storage.

My understanding is that they are moving away from heavy tanks to lighter, faster, wheeled vehicles. They ran into problems in Iraq with some road bridges that simply couldn't handle the weight of the tanks. There aren't any big enemy tanks to shoot at any more, and even if there were, the aerial drones can do a much better job of it.

The main battle tank is going the way of the battleship.

Well . . . run them at high power settings and use the energy to charge a battery. Someone should make a series-hybrid that only has the gas engine connected to a generator for charging a battery

That's pretty much what a hybrid does, although some of them like the Prius have a fancy power splitter that allows the gasoline engine to contribute directly to moving the vehicle.

The funny thing is, such vehicles don't use less fuel than a diesel vehicle. The Toyota Prius uses about the same amount of fuel as the VW Jetta TDI (less in the city, more on the highway). But that's not a one-to-one comparison: the Jetta has about 20% larger load capacity than the Prius.

A relative of mine is a health services administrator in the Western District of NSW, Australia. She reports that recent measures to phase out the Toyota Corolla cars used by her department and replace them with the Toyota Prius have busted her budget because they use significantly more petrol, as well as costing almost twice as much. Almost all the driving is on highways.

The run at high power and store plan really only works well in stop - start driving - it would be a great system for taxis, and that's why almost every taxi in Vancouver now is a Prius.
The more hwy driving you do, the less benefit from the hybrid system.

Remember, the X-prize winner, the Edison Very Light Car, looked very carefully at doing a hybrid system, and after an analysis of the Prius on the city cycle (http://www.edison2.com/energy-analysis/) concluded that better gains were to be had from light weight and aerodynamics. At their light weight, a hybrid system would barely save enough fuel to make up for the extra weight it creates - and on the highway it is just dead weight.

When you are chasing really high fuel efficiency, you have to start optimising for something - you just can;t have the car that is good at everything. If I had to choose between a country of diesel cars and a country of hybrids, I'd wager that the diesel country would be economically better off. Also, the more a country/city improves its urban transit, the less city driving gets done, so the cars are better off being diesels.

A plug in hybrid changes this, but that could be a diesel too.

Diesels can also get diesel like efficiency (or better) on ethanol, methanol and natural gas, which a gasoline engine can't. Any way you slice it, the diesel is better, and almost every country except the US (and Canada) has already worked this out - even if the Australian politicians haven't.

The Scuderi design is essentially a 2 stroke with one piston/cylinder doing the compression and the other doing the combustion. The result is one pop per revolution of the crank for the 2 cylinder test engine. Since the design is a 2-stroke, the displacement is going to be twice the size of the compression cylinder, as compared with a 4-stroke design. There have been numerous examples of 2 stroke diesels which used positive displacement Roots type compressors and they work more or less the same as the Scuderi design. The improvement available with the Scuderi would appear to be the result of higher compression pressures and the ability to channel the intake flow to produce turbulence, along with a Miller type expansion ratio.

E. Swanson

All these developments are interesting, but always seem to be 'coming soon.'

For the past 100 years or so, most internal combustion engines for cars and trucks have been either four stroke reciprocating piston engines, or the rare Wankel rotary (Mazda primarily).

If you follow boat motors, you have the Mercury Optimax... I believe they are direct injected 2 strokes. Using special injectors and computers to gain maximum efficiency. For the tests i've seen, they are lighter and get BETTER fuel economy then 4stroke motors. Not to mention they always seem faster. Can't believe car companies haven't played with this technology. The one sticking point is they still burn some oil...so that probably would be the deal breaker in cars.

Build it and they will come? Think again

When it comes to economic development in American cities, the trusted old theory "If you build it, they will come" may not work, a Michigan State University sociologist argues in a new study.

Electric vehicle capabilities way ahead of policy, infrastructure needs

The technologies needed to begin seriously weaning the U.S. transportation system away from petroleum and toward alternatives such as hybrid and pure electric vehicles have made great progress, but harnessing them on a scale that would significantly lower greenhouse-gas emissions or oil imports is complicated by issues of choosing the right policies and of implementing needed infrastructure improvements

...The predominant view was that if you had a strong carbon policy, many of the steps that would have to be taken” to reduce petroleum dependence would happen naturally. But given the present political realities in the U.S., he said, “We’re not going to have that, so the most desirable policy option is not in front of us.”

The Report: Electrification of the Transportation System

When it became clear there was going to be a lot of attack on green issues from the right, it became clear that any means to mitigate Peak oil were gone too.

I hoped that the green issues (some of them in the middle connected to weaning off of oil we did not have) would help begin a rational mitigation of Peak Oil.

Instead we are moving the other direction. Hoping to deregulate new oil into existence. LOL

If only the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics listened to political gamemanship.

The 2nd Law has no political friends or foes. it just is reality.

Belgium to export water for gas

FlandersNews.Be reports that, “Soon the ballast tanks of the tankers that carry gas from Qatar to the West Flemish port of Zeebrugge will be loaded with drinking water bound for the Arab emirate on the return leg of their trip. News that the gas distributor Fluxys is to supply Belgian water to Qatar appears in Tuesday’s edition of the daily ‘De Morgen’. …(News reports note) that a reservoir tank will be built to store the water at the company’s site at Zeebrugge docks. …An accord on the supply of water from Belgium will be signed by both parties when a trade mission led by the Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters (Christian democrat) visits Qatar next month.”

In regards to this Bloomberg article, analysts may have missed an error concerning last week's numbers:

Crude Oil Inventories Climb in Survey as Imports Increase: Energy Markets
By Mark Shenk - Jan 24, 2011 7:01 PM ET

U.S. crude supplies probably rose a second week as imports increased and refineries operated at the lowest rate since November, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Inventories climbed 1.25 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, in the seven days ended Jan. 21 from 335.7 million a week earlier, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates before an Energy Department report tomorrow. Nine of the respondents forecast an increase and three projected a decline.


After further review, the 7 million barrel build last week in the Gulf Coast region is, well, hem, implausible based upon imports and refinery operations (unless it is somehow correcting prior errors). As a reminder the EIA has 'adjusted' oil inventories upwards 10 million barrels over the last 4 weeks without explanation. Usually significant adjustments are made only in the last week of the month (such as in the report coming this week). Note also that some sharp posters here spotted an error in the EIA's recent monthly report - which was later corrected.

Charles is it possible to plot the errors made in the weekly petroleum reports to see if they are unusually in favor of the idea we have larger surplus stocks than we actually do.

From my limited knowledge of statistics, I would expect inventory error numbers would bounce around a mean value of zero. But maybe there is a systematic flaw in inventory reporting and record taking. Also digits in the errors should also be random. When datasets are manipulated, the the human factor tends to choose numbers that are not random -- like picking the number 7 or 3 more often than would occur at random.

LOL. I wonder why these errors are all seeming to favor surplus, but weeks later we find they were not true.

A systematic bias would certainly lead to a diverging value. If the mean stayed around zero, that would indicate no bias.

To over-simplify, there was no long term error bias in an internal study the EIA conducted maybe 4 or 5 (?) years ago.

Recent trends are diverging from historical patterns, which makes them more suspect.

The EIA also has a policy of not explaining adjustments, unless they choose to - which is rarely.

We'll just have to see what they come up with this week’s report - which should include their monthly corrections from errors made in December. However they can and do make corrections during any week. My view is that the EIA is slow to correct possible errors, and if a mistake was made last week, it might not be corrected for up to 4 weeks.

Sounds fishy -- these errors of bogus surplus.

I am also bothered by the media stories that inventories were low to get around taxes and so forth. They are still harping on that and we are past the end of the year. Way way past New Years! LOL. So where are the boats of oil that were sitting off the Cayman Is. coasts to evade taxes then? I have a lot of trouble believing inventories dropped for this reason alone.

The fishiness factor is starting to stink.

Oil 86.26 -1.61 -1.83%

Will this push back continue? I think inventory climbing and (supposed) story of the Saudis putting more oil on the market are pushing the prices down . . . but will they stick?

I think the only way the lower prices will stick is if bad economic news hits. Otherwise we'll be right back up.

Crematorium could help heat council swimming pool

A council is proposing to save money – and combat global warming – by heating a leisure centre and swimming pool using heat generated by the crematorium next door.

Redditch council in Worcestershire says it can save £14,500 a year by warming its new Abbey Stadium sports centre with heat from the crematorium's incinerators that would otherwise be lost.

The thermal mass of the swimming pool would even out the intermittent energy available from the crematorium.

Merrill - On second thought never mind. I was going pass on a little cremation humor that probably would have gotten me banned on TOD for life. I'll also pass on the soylent green connection. But thanks for the post anyway. It did bring a smile during this gloomy weather spell.

Obama climate adviser to depart in latest staff change

...It was not immediately clear whether (Carol) Browner's position would be filled.

"On the question of what will happen to the position, the president's commitment to these issues will of course continue but any transition of the office will be announced soon," the administration official said.

Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners LLC in Washington, said the November elections results were a warning to Obama about his ambitious energy policy.

"The age of grand designs ended that day and the age of 'bite-sized chunks' began," Book said. "That doesn't leave a lot of maneuvering room for an environmentalist-in-chief."

(my emphasis)


BBC Breaking News: UK economy suffers 0.5% contraction


I am confused again.

This is starting to remind me of playing chess. I am awful at chess. I can't seem to focus on the whole board.

So, oil is down every day for a week now. Stocks are up. Fundamentals haven't changed much. What gives? Are the "speculators" taking their money to the other games for a while?

Here are the chess pieces I think I should watch:

1. Oil prices (WTI) and (Brent);or (WTI) vs. (Brent)
2. USA Stock Markets
3. USA unemployment
3. USA inflation
4. USA consumer bla bla bla
5. EURO troubles
6. China consumption
7. Weather
8. Global Food
9. War
10. December 21, 2012

Did I leave anything out? They didn't teach me much, because I'm just a pawn. BUT I KNOW HOW TO WRITE IN CURSIVE!

So, oil is down every day for a week now. Stocks are up. Fundamentals haven't changed much. What gives?

I'm confused too and posted as much yesterday regarding why 85 dollar oil had not caused a recession yet, at least here in the US. However, article above indicates recession starting again in UK, but that may have more to do with their price at the pump being so overblown by taxes.

I'm beginning to think the reason we are getting mixed messages about the economy is two fold. On the one hand 1) oil is priced high enough to cause a recession, yet 2) many people are presuming a rebounding economy, which historically has always occurred after a recession, and thus many people are investing 'as if' that will occur again.

The stock market must at this point be over-inflated. I keep thinking there will be a correction, and we will see if that happens soon or if it just keeps going skyward on hope juice.

However, to add to the mixed messages situation, real estate is down in most cities in the US. Only up in 4 areas. So evidently people aren't too willing to risk investment in property, but they are in the stock market?!

Baltic Dry 1292.00 (-3.94%)
Baltic Capesize 1494.00 (-3.05%)
Baltic Panamax 1512.00 (-5.08%)
Baltic Supermax 1371.00 (-3.04%)

and marine fuel prices are skyrocketing (see below the Bunkerworld Index):

It seems that shipping is stopping somewhat brutally: may be the case that China and India are slowing down much more that what we think?

I checked with Google Insights, but the situation seems not that dramatic:



Since December 21st the Baltic Dirty Tanker index is down 38.3%, fron 1079 to 665.


Yet rumor is that OPEC is increasing production, that is why the NYMEX is down these last few trading days.

Ron P.

Looking at 3 or 5 year graph of WTI vs BIDY there is a close correspondence in general - occasionally some inversions where they go in opposite directions.

Not at all clear which is leading which really. The blip in the last month or two looks far too short to make any conclusions I would say. In fact, the last year looks less correlated than before 2009 - I assumed this was due to more new tankers swamping the market (though I may well have misunderstood).

Care to elaborate why you think this is such a strong indicator? Or what you expect to see here over the next 6 months?


Care to elaborate why you think this is such a strong indicator?

Did I say that? Funny I don't see anything in my post that indicates I think that is a strong indicator. Actually I see two conflicting indicators. Oil prices are falling these last few trading days on the rumor that OPEC is increasing production and tanker tracker movements says January deliveries will actually be below December deliveries.

I will wait for the January numbers to see which one carries the most weight.

And in the next six months? Actually I am expecting some alarming news coming out of OPEC. I am expecting that there will be a "call on OPEC" and OPEC will not pick up the phone.

Ron P.

" So evidently people aren't too willing to risk investment in property, but they are in the stock market?"

Last refuge syndrome? Because you are right, it makes no sense.

But where else can you park money? Real estate has another 20% down to go, and that's assuming you can find something to buy with a clear title. Bonds return nothing. CDs return nothing. Gold? Silver? Guns? Ammo? Canned food? The metals require really secure storage, and the rest large volumes of less-secure storage.

I'm at a loss as to what to do with excess cash myself.

See the World?

Start checking off items on the bucket list?

I've noticed people (who are sitting on cash from property sales) complaining that they don't know what to do with the money. They're concerned about currency devaluation, broken markets, asset depreciation, inflation, etc. In essence they cannot find any safe, productive use for the money and are either forced to stay in cash or speculate, both of which entail an unwanted degree of risk in their view.

It is as though money has already lost its value, in the sense that it cannot buy a future revenue stream nor can it be depended upon to hold its value into the future. Money can be exchanged for goods and services today, but is no longer a store of value for the future it seems.

Better to invest in local resilience that can provide security and direct returns in the form of food, heating, goods, services etc. That provide for a future, rather than dabbling in the casino of derivatives and IOU's generated like confetti by a failing system. Just use money as a temporary mechanism to convert productive output into productive assets and consumables. Turn money into a tool rather than a dependency.

I can't seem to focus on the whole board.

You focus on the centre, or on the queenside or kingside. 'Focus' and 'connecting the dots' is not the same.

10. December 21, 2012

Nostrodamus effect ?

Well, if
expensive oil >>> expensive food >>> riots >>> war >>> ...
doesn't get us first.

Well, if
expensive oil >>> expensive food >>> riots >>> war >>> ...
doesn't get us first.

That would be checkmate. No, not before end 2012.
And there is this article (from Leanan's posts):

IEA doubles global gas reserves estimates

"The gas story is huge," she told BBC News.
"A few years ago the United States was ready to import gas. In 2009 it had become the world's biggest gas producer. This is phenomenal, unbelievable."

Nostrodamus effect ?

Naw, end of world via Mayans. Vs Hopi/the death clock/Cliff High/FEMA/the 10th planet/et la

Futures speculators in the US, from which we get the ‘price’ of oil we hear about most, quite frequently trade based upon technical analysis, perceptions, and expectations. These perceptions and expectations can be influenced by sometimes incorrect, and even misleading, statements from the EIA, IEA, OPEC, etc. Right now, there is a perception that US oil inventories are ‘comfortable’, even though such inventories are not evenly distributed across the country. For example, at Cushing, OK, inventories are high, but in the Northeast, inventories are actually low. But in general, such regional problems are overlooked, and usually dismissed by traders that have the most short term influence.

However I don’t think ‘speculators’ have any significant impact in the longer term (usually not more than a few months).

eastex, the 900 pound gorilla (Queen) starting to move on the chessboard is the U.S. bond market. This is the chess piece I'm focusing in on right now. I think we're in the beginning phase of a bond market meltdown. This is where I'm watching.


I believe the focus of attention regarding sovereign risk will spread from europe to the U.S. Time frame? Sometime towards the middle of this year; June, July. The initial tremors are happening now. QE2 has failed to completely suppress T bill yields, they're starting to push back from under the Fed's pressure. The conventional interpretation is that this is a signal of a return to normalcy. I think the conventional interpretation is wrong. I think there's a very good chance that selling of T bills, once started in earnest, won't stop. There is an unbelievable amount of potential momentum at work here, something on the order of 10 trillion. And it's going to become pretty plain to even the most optimistic bond trader that the debt involved is unpayable, once interest rates rise.
I think that we have a perfect recipe here for a panic.

It confuses me to.

Here's AIG's internal take on systemic risk situation a year after they got bailed out.

A careful read of the downloadable presentation reminds me of the domino scene in the movie 'V for Vendetta'.

Happy reading

While I haven't seen the movie "V", there's something similar to the AIG report being presented at this year's World Economic Forum meeting at Davos. The discussion will center around a report on Risk. I quickly ran thru the report and, while there is a mention of resource shortages, I saw nothing about Peak Oil...

E. Swanson

Thanks for the links and go rent the movie.

quickly ran thru the report and, while there is a mention of resource shortages, I saw nothing about Peak Oil...

Yes the closest they come is this chapter:

Risks in focus 3
The water-food-energy nexus
Risk description and impacts

Water security, food security and energy security are chronic impediments to economic growth and social stability. Figure 6 shows their interrelatedness: food production requires water and energy; water extraction and distribution requires energy; and energy production requires water. Food prices are also highly sensitive to the cost of energy inputs through fertilizers, irrigation, transport and processing.

V for vendetta is a good comic and a good movie describing slightly different paths to fascism, the movie version has been updated as our reality is unfodling in ways that sometimes are worrying and sometimes even bad.

Fortunately it is fiction with isolated leaders trusting and loving a machine that seems to give them an all seeing eye controling everybody and a staff of ruthless and scared people using violence and propaganda to make reality fit the plan the leader has faith in...

Strenght through purity, purity through faith.

Looking at the comics bookshelf reminds me that it is a long time since I read Maus by Art Spiegelman.

I found this chart that I had not noticed before. I think it tells us a lot about the true unemployment situation. And it is current with the last data entry in December 2010.

Civilian Employment-Population Ratio (EMRATIO)

Ron P.

Great graph.

How low will the next step down take us, I wonder?

US airlines make money again by flying less

DALLAS – After a decade of multibillion-dollar losses, U.S. airlines appear likely to profit for years for a simple reason: They are flying less.

By grounding planes and eliminating flights, airlines have cut costs and pushed fares higher. As the global economy rebounds, travel demand is rising and planes are as full as they've been in decades.

I believe this is a trend that will continue. The term 'jetset' may once again become popular as air travel eventually climbs out of the reach of the common man.

Egypt anti-govt protests escalate

Thousands call for Tunisia-style ouster of president Hosni Mubarak as US, an ally, says government there is "stable" .

Inspired by the Tunisian revolution, activists in Egypt call for a similar uprising in their own country, to protest against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for three decades

'Day of rage' as Hezbollah gains power in Lebanon

TRIPOLI, Lebanon — Hundreds of angry protesters burned tires and blocked roads across Lebanon on Tuesday after Iranian-backed Hezbollah secured the appointment of its candidate to lead the next government.

This thread is a few Yergins short from completion. So how much oil did that clown say we would be producing in ten years? I'm looking for his predictions from around 2005. I'm not too concerned with price because that's controlled primarily by the bernank.

This thread is a few Yergins short from completion. So how much oil did that clown say we would be producing in ten years? I'm looking for his predictions from around 2005.

I love the way peakers focus on the erroneous predictions by economists and cornucopians, but when it comes to their own forecasts their memory is mysteriously selective. How about the predictions by peakers in, say, 2008 - for example, this, which told us we should be around 67 million bpd and declining of C&C right now when the reality as of August is over 73 million bpd, and most certainly more as I write this.

I think it is worthwhile to note inaccurate predictions regardless of the source.

Examining the magnitudes and causes of inaccurate predictions with an open mind and critical thinking should make PO analysis better in the future.

Of course a decline in C&C is inevitable at some point.

Sometimes I think about all the things I have read and have a hunch that this undulating plateau might extend as far as the early 2020s.

But I might be full of condensed monkey milk.

We have to really categorize the oil as to its character, such as crude, etc.

Then we only make predictions on the crude. Don't try to force fit anything. Just show what is falling off the plateau.

That's what I would do.

From FT: Arctic sea lane could open by 2035

...“We believe that sometime between 2035 and 2040, there is a pretty good chance that the Arctic Ocean will be essentially ice-free for about a month,” said US Rear Admiral Dave Titley, at an Arctic conference in Tromsø, Norway.

He predicted that, as the ice-free period gradually increased, the Bering Strait between the US and Russia would begin to rival the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia as one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

Conference Presentations

US Rear Admiral Dave Titley Presentation

State and perspectives of study and development of the Russian Arctic mineral resources Comprehensive view of Russian Arctic O&G Fields

Fueled by the sun

Chemist Allen Bard looks to harness the power of sunlight to produce fuels that can substitute for oil

Al Bard has a dream. It's an area the size of New Mexico blanketed in panels of iron oxide — rust — that have been doped with just the right mix of other elements. When the panels are hit by hot southwestern sunlight, they help split water into its constituent atoms, hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen bubbles up into the air cleanly. The hydrogen is captured, and made available as fuel.


If only...

He has this to say:

"I think we will probably have enough fossil fuels to last through the technological development of things like solar, wind and biofuels," say Bard. "But we may not be able to have a system that will sustain nine billion people in this world. We barely have it now. But those problems, I think, will be solved. On the other hand, I'm not at all optimistic we'll do this in time to avoid the major problems of climate change, which have nothing to do with running out of the fuels. They have to do with using them."

So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't... It seems to me that there is a growing consensus that the planet cannot sustain 9 billion humans, yet for some reason everyone keeps talking like it is an inevitability.
Something is going to give. Either war, famine, drought, pestilence or some combination of all four will do what we as a species refuse to do by planning. Too bad, I guess we may as well just welcome the four horsemen of the apocalypse with open arms and a resignation to our inevitable fate.

Yesterday my husband said he saw a news article about how when the population of the earth reaches 8 billion we will all be eating all the bugs we can find.
I just can't wait for that!

Actually, I have decided to keep an open mind and try them if we are going to have to do that.
I suppose dipping them in chocolate will be out of the question as there won't BE any chocolate.

US centric comment:

I always expect too much from the State Of The Union address. I expect our President to take advantage of this premier opportunity to come clean with his People about the actual 'State of the Union'. I have to wonder; what is the cost of this one event.

All of this energy lost,
Like farts in the wind ....

I expect our President to take advantage of this premier opportunity to come clean with his People about the actual 'State of the Union'.

"My fellow Americans (applause), we have now been on an undulating plateau of worldwide oil production since May 2005. As you are probably aware the cheap oil is gone, replaced by more expensive oil. Recently OPEC said they will increase production to drive prices down. But what you should know is Chindia, China and India, have expanding economies that are using ever more oil putting pressure on oil prices to rise.

In the coming years the undulating plateau of oil production will begin to descend. So don't be surprised if at that point we need to start rationing like the UK is talking about doing right now.

Higher oil prices causes higher food prices and just as there were food riots in 08 leading up to and during the collapse, there will again be food riots in the years ahead. My advice to the American people is to start hoarding canned food and start your own vegetable gardens and plant fruit and nut trees. Start contributing to your own diet with what you grow, but also load up for future shortages and sky high prices.

Have solar installed at your homes, because as we descend down the net energy ladder, the grid will start to go down and eventually it will dim out. If you have solar at least you'll have some electrical for lighting at night.

I wish you sorry suckers all the best. (boo boo hiss)

Perhaps TOD can sponsor a thread in which all interested parties could craft the State of the Union speech that they would give if they were the President.

The TOD editorial board/staff, either individually, or perhaps collectively, could start the ball rolling.

No snark here...this would honestly be a fascinating thread.

Perhaps with a 'no comments' rule and replies disabled.

Only original individual attempts at crafting a speech...maybe comments opened a week later after a period of reading other folks' work and reflecting on it.

Just throwing it out there...

TOD can sponsor a State of the Union (SOTU) speech that they would give

How about a State of the Peaked Oil World (SOTPOW) speech instead?

Perhaps TOD can sponsor a thread in which all interested parties could craft the State of the Union speech that they would give if they were the President.

Sounds like an exercise in futility.

Obama is part of BAU now. His message tonight was we can get ourselves out of this rut by being innovative (techno-solutions to net energy decline). Every conceivable clitch-line was used that has been exhorted over the years by preceeding presidents. Big on idealogy but short on substance.

My wife who is a cornucopian loved the speech, which tells you why he crafted it that way. To be in with the Cornucopian BAU crowd to get what? Drum roll - votes in 2012.

Yeah. The President even paid lip service to inventors and the US Patent Office.

However, as anyone in the know can tell you, those beautiful words about granting more patents than anyone else in the world are pure BS. The administration intentionally keeps the US Patent Office underfunded and under-staffed. They siphon off moneys that inventors pay as "fees" for use in other programs. Basically, it is an extra tax that inventors get to pay under the equal protection clause --you know, the one that says all people are equal except that inventors are less equal than others.

And you thought we lived in a democracy. Good luck with that head in the sand ideology.

Well, having just watched the speech, I note he talked about (as every president does) reducing oil use, but then set his goal for 80% "clean" electricity consumption by 2035 (or 2025).

The cleanliness of electricity consumption is hardly a pressing issue - there are not soldiers on the other side of the world securing "clean" electricity.
But, this goal requires ZERO action on the part of the consumer, whereas reducing oil usage does.
At some point, the reality has to set in that the oil problem is not going to be solved by "someone else" or "the government", but by the action of people.

He correctly identified the problem, and then ignored it and proposed a solution to something else.

What a missed opportunity...

Weird, I was watching it when Obama introduced a guy from the audience that had some new drilling technology from Pennsylvania. I thought to myself, "What's that? Some sort of deal for fracing natural gas?" Is the Prez going "drill, baby, drill" on us?

But then I found out the drilling technology was used to rescue the miners down in Chile. ... DOH !

It turned from what I thought would be a pointless exercise, into a feelgood exercise. Neither one was satisfying :(

It's really truly about misplaced priorities and an alternate universe we are all living in.

80% "clean" electricity consumption by 2035

So that's when that behind schedule "Singularity" is arriving.

I thought it had an ETA of 12/20/2012.

Or wasn't it supposed to be back in 2001, when the Technology Tooth Fairy was supposed to bring us a Space Odyssey contact moment?

[I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that]

sb - Everyone has there own vision. I wouldn't mind getting a hold of what ever brought about that 80% vision...must be quit a high. My disturbing vision is a global energy consumption that becomes increasing more dependent upon burning coal.

Reality sucks, eh?