Drumbeat: February 2, 2011

OPEC´s Oil Reserve Revisionism

What’s with OPEC member’s recent oil reserve revisionism? First Venezuela, then Iraq, followed closely by Iran, and then again by Venezuela, in anticipation of further upgrades from Kuwait and Iraq.

Does Saudi Arabia still hold the world’s biggest reserves? Not according to Venezuela. And is there more oil in Iraq than in Iran? Or will Kuwait soon announce it has more than both?

It’s, to say the least, a bit puzzling, if nothing else because OPEC members have for decades tried to hide, not broadcast, how much oil they have.

Egypt Unrest Poses ‘No Real Threat’ to Oil Via Suez, IEA Says

(Bloomberg) -- Oil transit through the Suez Canal isn’t currently at risk from anti-government protests in Egypt, said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency.

There is “no real threat” to flows through the canal, Birol said today in a Bloomberg interview in Moscow. “We hope to see the market calm down because it is not good news for anybody in the market: consumers, producers or anybody.”

Suez Canal Crisis: Are We Headed Toward $5 Gas?

Fears that the Suez Canal will be closed as a result of the political unrest in Egypt are the latest sign that the price of oil remains as much a psychological measure of market confidence as an actual read of economic strength.

Bigger OPEC hike seen due Mideast tensions - BP

(Reuters) - Oil exporter group OPEC is likely to increase output by "more rather than less" in response to tensions in the Middle East, the chief economist of oil major BP told Reuters Insider Television on Wednesday.

Fuel shortage leads to queues at Cairo petrol stations

A shortage of fuel has led to long lines at petrol stations in Egypt's capital, on the ninth day of anti-presidential protest.

Only state petrol stations in Cairo continue working on Wednesday, while private petrol station managers say they are running out of fuel as they are unable to pay for supplies as banks remain closed.

Analysis: Egypt turmoil will reshape U.S. role

WASHINGTON — The protests rocking Egypt could change the political landscape of the all the Arab countries and beyond. Possible outcomes range from pro-democracy forces taking charge in Cairo to, in a worst case, an all-out war that brought in Israel and Iran.

In between, there could be a long period of instability that could breed economic chaos across the region and derail economic recoveries in the United States and Europe.

Egypt's unrest may have roots in food prices, U.S. Fed policy

WASHINGTON — Economists and experts in food security have warned repeatedly in recent years that an unbridled rise in food prices could trigger the very kind of explosion of citizen anger that's now threatening to topple the Egyptian government. Such anger is likely to rise elsewhere, too.

A large nation with lots of desert, Egypt must import more than half of its food supply. Since 2008, there's been sporadic unrest there as the cost of staples, from bread to fruits to vegetables, has gone up steadily.

Genetic diversity lost with the damage of Egypt’s deserts gene bank

The effort to maintain the world’s biodiversity has taken another hit. In the chaos surrounding the political unrest and public uprising in Egypt, looters have badly damaged the country’s Desert Research Center in El Sheikh Zowaid in North Sinai. The center houses the Egyptian Deserts Gene Bank (EDGB), and — according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust — equipment has been stolen and the cooling system has been damaged.

Mid-East unrest could increase global phosphorus threat

Two Australian experts in global phosphorus have warned instability in the Middle East and North Africa could threaten world food security, due to the high proportion of global phosphate rock reserves in the region.

BP faces investigation for allegedly manipulating gas market

BP is being investigated by US regulators over alleged manipulation of the gas market, it has emerged.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) notified BP of its preliminary conclusions relating to the alleged manipulation in November, a footnote to BP's annual results, released yesterday, revealed.

Airlines add fuel surcharges, the first since '08

It looks like airlines are charging more to fly.

American Airlines added fuel surcharges of as much as $5 each way on most routes. And United Continental Holdings Inc. has its own $3 each-way surcharge.

India says no solution on Iran oil payment issue

(NEW DELHI) - India said Wednesday it is yet to resolve a crude oil payment problem with Iran after the South Asian nation's central bank halted payments through a financial clearing house.

Natural Gas Shales A Game Changer, But LNG Exports?

It is popular to proclaim that the energy world has changed – unconventional natural gas is now conventional – but has it really?

Saudi Aramco Says Jeddah Refinery Not Affected by Heavy Floods

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, said its 350,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Jeddah was not affected by lethal floods that struck the Red Sea port last week.

US embassy cables: Is Saudi boom reaching its limits?

With temperatures reaching 115 degrees, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is both literally and metaphorically "too darn hot." With vast investments being made in oil and petrochemical projects, post hears constant complaints of shortages of materials, qualified workers, and infrastructure. All of the residential compounds in the Eastern Province with adequate security have long waiting lists. Aramco's CEO in a recent meeting with the CG admitted that one of his most pressing challenges is finding qualified engineers for all of Aramco's new projects. This cable summarizes data suggesting that the enormous economic boom that the Eastern Province is witnessing may be approaching capacity limits.

Iraq readies restart of Kurdish flows

Iraq is very close to resuming crude oil exports from the Kurdish region with the initial flow expected at 10,000 barrels per day from the Tawke field, government and regional officials said today.

Greece secures Azeri gas

Azerbaijan plans to sell 0.7 billion cubic metres of gas per year directly to Greece, bypassing Turkish intermediaries, the ex-Soviet country's Energy Minister Natik Aliyev said today.

Natural Gas: It’s Not Easy Being Green

But with increased scrutiny from regulators, more communities’ being directly exposed to natural gas exploration, and questions arising about the fuel’s global climate benefits, a more variegated view of natural gas is emerging.

Of course, nearly everyone agrees that natural gas has advantages over other fossil fuels. The question is, how great are those advantages and under what conditions — regulatory and otherwise — are those advantages best obtained?

Pakistan improves incentives in new tight gas exploration policy

Karachi (Platts) - Pakistan has approved a new tight gas exploration policy with improved incentives as compared with its 2009 policy, to overcome the country's gas shortfall and attract foreign investment, a petroleum ministry official said Wednesday.

‘Power crisis fatal for economy’

ISLAMABAD: The present energy crisis is hampering economic growth and leading the industry towards a total shut down, Pakistan Computer Association (PCA) Central President, Munawar Iqbal, said at the general body meeting of the association.

Sale of gas, petrol suspended

LAHORE - ALREADY annoyed at energy crisis, Lahorites once again were sandwiched between non-availability of petrol and CNG on Monday evening.

UK home gas use sinks due to higher energy efficiency

(Reuters) - British household gas demand has fallen sharply in four years mainly due to improved home energy efficiency, according to a report published on Wednesday.

Sales at GM, Chrysler up 23% in January

Auto sales rose 17.3% in January, evidence an auto sales recovery remains firmly underway in an industry that was decimated by the recession.

Volt sales are kicking the Leaf's butt

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In January, General Motors sold 321 Chevrolet Volt cars. Meanwhile, Nissan, its fiercest electric car competitor, has sold just 87 Leaf cars in the U.S.

GM plans to build a less expensive Volt

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Volt has won nearly every major award offered and stirred up tons of interest, but one criticism persists: The price is way too high.

Growing an American Electric Car Industry, a Tale of Two Companies

Not long after the auto bailouts, the financial crash and the election of President Obama, General Motors Co. had a choice to make.

It had designed an electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, to prove it could build something besides gas guzzlers. To make this car even close to affordable, it would need a battery unlike any that had been made before.

EPA Report Says Biofuels Bad for the Environment

The world is on the brink of an energy crisis and what could be termed an “energy revolution” is on the rise to address the need for clean affordable power. Renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal are gaining ground in the energy sector, but perhaps one of the greatest hopes—especially in the transportation and diesel machinery industries—is biofuels. The ability to store a liquid as a combustible energy source is an oftentimes overlooked advantage that biofuels have over electrical storage systems such as lithium batteries. The commercial airline sector is certainly investing in a biofuels future, and mining companies are beginning to take advantage of biodiesel to power their gargantuan machinery.

However, the EPA has released the first draft of their report: Biofuels and the Environment: The First Triennial Report to Congress (EPA/600/R-10/183A). The report is the result of the 2007 governmental mandate to increase biofuel production in the US to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022. It finds that biofuel production in the United States has not proven to be environmentally sound, particularly corn ethanol production. Water contamination through chemical runoff, the destruction of natural habitats, and concerns over invasive species through the increased demand for feedstocks are just a few of the major concerns put forth in the EPA’s findings.

Davos Panel: Can Wind Power Win?

Wind, oil, and gas: Ditlev Engel, the CEO of Vestas Wind Systems, a wind-turbine manufacturer, said that while wind covers only 2 percent of electricity consumption today, his company believes in the future it will become much more significant. The vision: "We believe wind is the only source of energy that in the future is going to be recognized on par with oil and gas," Engel said.

In Novel Approach to Fisheries, Fishermen Manage the Catch

An increasingly productive way of restoring fisheries is based on the counter-intuitive concept of allowing fishermen to take charge of their own catch. But the success of this growing movement depends heavily on a strong leader who will look out not only for the fishermen, but for the resource itself.

Experts Debate Limits of Fish Farming

Aquaculture is overtaking traditional fishing in global production, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported Monday. But a scientist with the organization predicted that growth would slow as space for the food farms dwindled and concerns grew about their effects on the environment.

Energies of the Future

Every Wednesday, Michio Kaku will be answering reader questions about physics and futuristic science. If you have a question for Dr. Kaku, just post it in the comments section below and check back on Wednesdays to see if he answers it.

Today, Dr. Kaku addresses a question posed by Davis Tan: What future energy source will solve our energy crisis?

7-Eleven Experiments With Eco-Friendly Stores

KYOTO — At the 7-Eleven across from the Shusse Inari shrine here, the glare of fluorescent light bulbs that is synonymous with convenience stores has been replaced by the soft glow of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, that consume half the energy and last much longer.

The store, which opened a year ago here in the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, is the prototype of the latest eco-friendly 7-Eleven, one of 100 that will be open in Japan by the end of February.

Malaysian Forest Ebbing at Rapid Rate, Report Says

Malaysia is cutting down forests at more than triple the average rate of the rest of Asia, with the destruction concentrated in the highly biodiverse peatland forests on the island of Borneo, a new analysis of satellite data reveals.

UK's greenhouse gas emissions reductions an 'illusion'

The UK may appear to have made great progress in reducing its carbon emissions, but declaring only what it produces, rather than consumes, presents a skewed picture of its carbon responsibilities and the balance sheet.

EU climate change impact studied

BRUSSELS (UPI) -- Britain will face higher costs as a result of climate change than some other European Union countries, due mostly to rising sea levels, a report says.

FedEx CEO: Let's end our need for oil

FORTUNE -- Every day more than 285,000 FedEx team members deliver some 7 million packages to 220 countries. Every 24 hours our aircraft fly 500,000 miles, and our couriers travel 2.5 million miles. We accomplish this with 670 aircraft and 70,000 motorized vehicles worldwide -- nearly every single one of which is fueled by oil, the lifeblood of today's mobile, global economy. We are all dependent upon it, and that dependence comes at a significant cost. U.S. armed forces expend enormous resources protecting chronically vulnerable oil transit routes and infrastructure around the globe. Oil dependence influences U.S. foreign policy, requiring us to accommodate governments that share neither our values nor our goals. Every American recession over the past 35 years has been preceded by -- or occurred concurrently with -- an oil price spike. And petroleum was responsible for 43% of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2009.

We cannot continue down this path. There is, however, a solution that may become economically attractive sooner than most think: cars and trucks powered by electricity.

How Egypt spells oil spike

You surely don't care that Egypt is addicted to foreign oil. But the upshot of its switch to net petroleum consumption is that other, bigger oil addicts – such as the United States, which you may well care about – will inevitably find themselves fighting over a smaller supply of global oil exports. The terms of this battle will surely involve higher prices.

This is one reality of so-called peak oil -- a school of thought that contends, over the loud objections of Exxon et al., that global crude production has likely gone as high as it will.

Mubarak supporters, opponents clash

CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of pro-government supporters attacked protesters Wednesday in Cairo's central square, where thousands were pushing ahead with demonstrations demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak supporters were out in the streets for the first time Wednesday in large numbers, with thousands demanding an end to the anti-government movement a day after the president went on national television and rejected demands for him to step down.

Mubarak Moves to Regain Streets as Turmoil Hits Yemen

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sought to regain control of Cairo’s streets hours after protesters rejected his promise to stand down later this year as unrest in the region spread to Yemen.

The Egyptian army said protesters should return to their homes, in a statement by a military spokesman on state television.

How Protests in the Middle East Could Choke Our Oil Addiction

A major conflict in the Persian Gulf could interrupt oil supplies and have massive repercussions in the US.

Egypt unrest threatens gas supplies, Israel fears

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel expressed concern on Tuesday that its natural gas supplies from Egypt could be threatened by the ongoing popular uprising to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak’s Exit to Upend U.S. Policy in Arab World

(Bloomberg) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he won’t seek reelection sets in motion a perilous period in Egypt and across the Arab world after decades of predictability under U.S.-allied strongmen.

The dilemma for the U.S. as popular protests sweep the Middle East and North Africa is to back away from repressive leaders without encouraging Islamic radicalism, analysts say. The White House will have to maneuver deftly, they add, to help allies transition to new leadership that won’t threaten key U.S. interests in the region: security for Israel and the world’s energy supply.

Why the Egyptian Uprising is Extremely Bad News

The dictator of Tunisia has fallen and it appears possible that Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign may also soon come to an end, and for all those cheerleaders from both the Bush and Obama administrations claiming credit--not to mention social media nitwits who think Twitter is fomenting democratic revolution--please shut up. As usual, the media's grasp of what is happening is either willfully ignorant of the facts or downright naïve.

Egypt's Improbable Path Traces Four Points: Mohamed A. El-Erian

Finally, while the instability in Egypt is being driven mainly by internal factors, it would be foolish to ignore external contributors. Egyptians are feeling the pain of surging commodity prices and food inflation. This problem will become more acute as some other governments around the world boost their stockpiling of foodstuff to guard against social unrest.

Yemen’s Leader Pledges Not to Seek Re-election

BEIRUT — President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen said on Wednesday that he would not run for re-election when his term ends in 2013, a stunning concessions to protesters that marked yet another reverberation of the anger that has rocked the Arab World.

Egypt's Protests Inspire Russian Opposition Activists

The leaders of Russia's opposition have long been looking for a new refrain - something beyond their hackneyed chants of "Russia without Putin!" - and on Monday night, when they gathered for a protest in downtown Moscow, they seemed to have found one. It came off as a kind of Egypt envy, the revolutionary bug that has afflicted many of the world's dissidents since an uprising broke out a few weeks ago in Tunisia and spread to Egypt. For Russia's opposition, the events in the Arab world have raised some frustrating questions: What's the difference between our leaders and Egypt's teetering President? Why won't the revolution come to us?

Oil Trades Near 28-Month High as Egypt Riots Add ‘Risk Premium’

Oil traded near its highest price in more than two years as concern that protests in Egypt may endanger Middle Eastern exports countered signs of rising supplies in the U.S., the largest crude consumer.

...“The chief reason for oil’s rally through $100 is the return of the geopolitical risk premium,” said Christopher Bellew, senior broker at Bache Commodities Ltd. in London. “There has been a fresh inflow of speculative positions, though with stocks and spare production capacity ample, conditions don’t suggest a surge to new records.”

OPEC’s Libya hails $100 oil, sees no need to meet

PARIS/LONDON - OPEC member Libya rejected on Tuesday the need for OPEC to meet this month in order to discuss raising production, saying that oil at $100 a barrel is justified by a weaker dollar and rising food costs.

Libya’s top oil official Shokri Ghanem hailed higher prices, a stance that was at odds with moderate OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia, which have maintained that they favor prices below current levels.

African Unrest Puts Europe's Natural Gas Supply at Risk as Oil Passes $100

The unrest in Egypt that forced BG Group Plc and Statoil ASA to stop drilling threatens a region that represents more than 15 percent of Europe’s natural gas supply and 4 percent of the world’s crude oil.

Jeff Rubin: Which price is really the world benchmark for oil?

The divergence is no mystery. Unlike Brent crude from the North Sea, which can be shipped to refineries pretty much anywhere in the world, oil in storage at Cushing can only be absorbed by refineries in the U.S. Midwest. With nowhere else to go, WTI is not even an accurate barometer for oil prices in the U.S. market, let alone the global market. For example, the price spread between it and Light Louisiana Sweet on the Gulf coast is as big as its spread with Brent. And by all accounts, the spread between WTI and Brent is going to become even bigger, rendering the former increasingly irrelevant as a global pricing benchmark.

A Welcome Return for $100 Oil

The reality is that Egypt has little impact on the physical oil market. Crude that moves through the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline only accounts for 2.5% of global demand — a mere 2.1 million barrels per day.

That should be your siren. A blaring, piercing, deafening warning that the tiniest disruption in supply will send traders — and, therefore, price — over the edge.

Oil Prices Move Up Steady Toward New Climax

Hamsayeh.Net - Oil price is fast approaching what so many analysts call the new median at $150 dollars a barrel due to the ongoing global geopolitical dislocation happening around the world including Egyptian uprising, continuous growth of the economies of East Asia and the peak oil phenomenon.

Costly oil's winners and losers in UAE and Gulf

Crude's climb back into triple-digit territory will boost the economies of Middle East oil exporters, even as it hurts the region's oil importers, including Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan.

The biggest regional winner will be the GCC, whose member states' economies are all heavily dependent on hydrocarbon exports. The single country that stands to benefit most is Iraq - crude exports account for about 95 per cent of its foreign revenues.

Reliance Fuel Exports Double to Highest in Five Months

Reliance Industries Ltd.’s fuel exports from the world’s largest refining complex doubled in January to the highest in five months, driven by a surge in diesel shipments.

Austin Energy implements rolling blackouts

Austin Energy is shutting off power across the city this morning to mitigate circuit overloads, officials announced early Wednesday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas demanded the rolling blackouts after generation shortages resulted from Texans cranking up the heat. Weather has lingered well below freezing with wind chills falling near 3 degrees.

Oil: How technology and prices interact

CAPE TOWN - It is reasonable to think that the peak oil argument must inevitably prove to be correct: At some point we won’t be able to find oil as quickly as we consume it. But the core issue has evolved to how technology and prices interact. Science and economics are pointing toward moderate prices and a gradual, non-dramatic move away from oil. Currently, oil fields are abandoned long before the last drop is extracted reflecting rising recovery costs. Sometimes science will advance or the price will rise sufficiently that re-tapping an old oil field again becomes profitable. This demonstrates how technology is unevenly but unrelentingly moderating prices and helping to wean us off oil.

Peak Not: Running Into Oil and Gas

Back in the 1970s, James Schlesinger, the first secretary of the Department of Energy, warned about “a classic Malthusian case of exponential growth against a finite source.” Peak oil? Peak gas. How wrong he was a third of a century ago; how wrong are the peakists today.

Gas Drilling Technique Is Labeled Violation

Oil and gas service companies injected tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel into onshore wells in more than a dozen states from 2005 to 2009, Congressional investigators have charged. Those injections appear to have violated the Safe Water Drinking Act, the investigators said in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.

Total Anxious To Start On Uganda Oil Project - Executive

KAMPALA Uganda -(Dow Jones)- France oil major Total SA is "eager" and "anxious" to commence the development of Ugandan oil assets, as it seeks to expand its African operations, a company executive said Wednesday.

High Court puts brakes on BP-Rosneft deal

LONDON (AFP) – The High Court in London on Tuesday granted a request by the Russian shareholders in TNK-BP Holding an injunction to halt a major exploration tie-up between BP and Rosneft.

BP hopes for oil production off Alaska in 2013

JUNEAU, Alaska – BP PLC estimates that it could begin producing oil off Alaska's coast in 2013, despite the fact that construction of the massive Liberty rig has been suspended indefinitely.

BP fund underpays oil spill victims: Mississippi

BILOXI, Mississippi (Reuters) – U.S. courts must compel the administrator of BP's $20 billion oil spill fund to meet his legal obligations and stop short-changing victims of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Mississippi said on Tuesday.

Report Foresees Quick Gulf of Mexico Recovery

The Gulf of Mexico should recover from the environmental damage caused by the enormous BP oil spill last year faster than many people expected, according to new estimates in reports commissioned by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund.

BP logs first annual loss since 1992 on oil spill disaster

LONDON (AFP) – Crisis-hit BP reported its first annual loss in almost two decades on Tuesday, as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, and outlined fresh plans to shift focus away from the United States.

BP suffered a loss of $4.9 billion (3.6 billion euros) last year, which was the first shortfall since 1992 and compared with a massive profit of $13.955 billion in 2009, it revealed in a results statement.

Shell Investment Pays Off With Output Growth as BP Scales Back

Royal Dutch Shell Plc may become Europe’s largest oil and gas producer as a $100 billion spending program starts to pay off and closest rival BP Plc scales back.

Commodities Traders May Face Curbs Under EU Proposal

Commodity traders in the European Union may face restrictions including position limits under proposals from the European Commission aimed at curbing excessive price volatility.

Curbing the proportion of a commodity derivatives market that a single trader can control may help rein in “excessive speculation,” the commission said in an e-mailed statement. Price fluctuations hurt farmers, food-makers and consumers, including in the poorest countries, the commission said.

Shipping Rates Seen Bottoming on Demolitions

Freight rates are poised to rise after tumbling to a two-year low as owners of ships hauling coal and iron ore scrap the most vessels in at least 28 years.

How to Play the Canadian Oil Sands

Depending on where you sit on the political spectrum and what your economic interests are, you either buy into the peak oil story or you don't. But the real answer is that both of these perspectives are correct in their own ways. The world's oil production has not, in fact, peaked. There's still a vast amount of oil out there and that production will continue to increase year after year for a long time. But the problem is that an increasing proportion of this supply is in places that are more difficult and more expensive to get to.

I call it "Peak EasyOil". Unlike global warming and the New York Yankees, I think that this is something that pretty much every one of us can agree on.

Obama’s Bid to End Oil Subsidies Revives Debate

WASHINGTON — When he releases his new budget in two weeks, President Obama will propose doing away with roughly $4 billion a year in subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies, in his third effort to eliminate federal support for an industry that remains hugely profitable.

Previous efforts have run up against bipartisan opposition in Congress and heavy lobbying from producers of oil, natural gas and coal. The head of the oil and gas lobby in Washington contends that the president has it backward — that the industry subsidizes the government, through billions of dollars in taxes and royalties, not the other way around.

White House clean energy standard gets key support

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday won a key endorsement for its proposal to boost U.S. electricity generation by clean energy sources as the head of the Senate's energy panel said he could back the idea of including nuclear power in the fuel mix.

AP sources: House GOP readies restrictions on EPA

Officials say House Republicans intend to unveil legislation as early as Wednesday to ban the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The bill is ticketed for quick progress through the House, and is likely to draw strong opposition from the Obama administration.

Don’t Buy the Clean Energy Illusion

So now — under the guise of “clean energy” — we’re going to pony up more for these guys, while the president smiles and tells the country that we’re going to end all those fossil fuel subsidies?

They’re not going to end anything. They’re just going to give the fossil fuel welfare scam a fresh coat of “green” spin and hope no one notices.

Silver lining for UAE over black gold price rise

A two-year high for Brent prices brings with it the potential not only to boost the Government's oil revenues, but also to buoy renewable energy investment across the region.

Endangered Elements Pose Threat To Green Energy

The January issue of Chemistry World includes a warning on impending shortages of certain elements. Among them are the rare earth elements, in particular neodymium, production of which, it is reckoned, will have to increase five times to build enough magnets for the number of wind-turbines deemed necessary for a fully renewable future. My rough calculations indicate that this would still take 50 – 100 years to implement, depending on exactly what proportion of the renewable electricity budget would be met from wind power, and if the manufacturing capacity and other resources of materials and energy needed for this Herculean task will prevail.

U.S. Pushes, but Reactors Are Lagging

WASHINGTON — In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed giving the nuclear construction business a type of help it has never had, a role in a quota for clean energy. But recent setbacks in a hoped-for “nuclear renaissance” raise questions about how much of a role nuclear power can play.

EU can lead world on 'lateral' governance, says Rifkin

Rifkin, an American economist and well-known author of the acclaimed book 'The European Dream', believes the world has reached the end game of a second industrial revolution. The global economic recovery is driving up oil and food prices, sparking social unrest.

The world has reached peak oil in terms of pro-capita reserves. The system will collapse once more when oil prices will rise to $140 or $150 a barrel again, Rifkin said.

According to the economist, this end game has set in motion a third industrial revolution, which will be based on continental energy infrastructure and governance.

Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change: Urbanism Expanded

Indeed, the simple attributes of urbanism are typically a more cost efficient environmental strategy than many renewable technologies. For example, in many climates, a party wall is more cost effective than a solar collector in reducing a home’s heating needs. Well-placed windows and high ceilings offer better lighting than efficient fluorescents in the office. A walk or a bike ride is certainly less expensive and less carbon intensive than a hybrid car even at 50 MPG. A convenient transit line is a better investment than a “smart” highway system. A small cogenerating electrical plant that reuses its waste heat locally could save more carbon per dollar invested than a distant wind farm. A combination of urbanism and green technology will be necessary, but the efficiency of urbanism should precede the costs of alternate technologies. As Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute famously advocates, a “nega-watt” of conservation is always more cost effective than a watt of new energy, renewable or not. Urban living in its many forms turns out to be the best type of conservation.

Brazil dam go-ahead sparks anger

BRASILIA (AFP) – Environmentalists and indigenous people Thursday defiantly rejected the Brazilian government's decision allowing work to begin on a giant hydroelectric dam, while the state prosecutor filed an appeal to suspend the ruling.

Australia Braces for ‘Catastrophic’ Cyclone

SYDNEY, Australia — Thousands of people crammed into emergency shelters in the storm-battered state of Queensland on Wednesday seeking refuge from a huge cyclone that forecasters warned could be larger and “more life-threatening” than any storm in Australian history.

...Several mines, railroad lines and coal ports also stopped operating as Cyclone Yasi advanced. Forecasters warned that up to 3 feet of rain could fall over the next two days, creating the risk of flash flooding in a region already saturated from months of torrential rains.

Coal Ships Seek to Avoid Path of Queensland Cyclone

Coal ships sailed away from the Queensland coast after ports and rail transport lines were closed as Tropical Cyclone Yasi approached Australia, the biggest exporter of the fuel.

At least 32 vessels have headed out to sea after Hay Point harbor and the Abbot Point export terminal were shut, according to North Queensland Bulks Ports Corp. and Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty. Yasi, a category five storm, is expected to strike the coast late today, packing winds in excess of 280 kilometers (174 miles) an hour.

Cyclone may be tipping point in climate policy debate

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Australia has endured two of its deadliest summers on record, blamed in part on global warming, but record fires, floods and cyclones have not persuaded it to take strong action on climate change.

But some experts hope that Wednesday's arrival of giant Cyclone Yasi on the coast of Queensland, already hit by massive floods last month, will help bring more of a sense of urgency to the political debate over climate policy.

In a Warm Room, the Globe Feels Hotter

In a study, university students placed in a heated room expressed higher confidence that global warming was a proven fact than those placed in a neutral control room.

India's Crops Affected By Erratic Climate

India would be the hardest hit by climate change in terms of food production, said a study, ''The Food Gap -- The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective'' released last month by the Universal Ecological Fund. The report predicts that crop yield in India would decrease by as much as 30 percent by the end of the decade.

While some regions of India are getting too much rain, other regions aren't getting enough, affecting crops ranging from coffee and tea to grapes and rice.

Some scientists believe extreme weather events becoming the norm

Just in December, some forecasters thought our mild winter would continue and we’d cruise through with only a handful of storms.

So what happened?

Climate change, according to many scientists.

Not a sudden change in the climate but a gradual change bringing us a pattern of extreme weather events. And although the atmosphere is warming, that doesn’t mean snowstorms will stop anytime soon, said Charles Rice, a Kansas State University professor and climate change author.

How Humans Are Changing the World

The authors contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.

They add: "The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet."

Loss of Antarctic ice 'tongue' could change seas

The loss of a massive "tongue" of glacial ice on the Antarctic coast — a natural protective barrier nearly four times the size of New York City — could affect ocean circulation patterns and be a harbinger of changes to come from global warming, scientists on a mission to the frozen continent say.

Re: Austin Energy implements rolling blackouts (uptop)

It looks like the rolling blackouts may be system wide, or at least occurring in larger cities like Dallas (where the rolling blackouts have disrupted light rail service):

Dallas: Power Grid Taxed, Rolling Blackouts Ordered

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has ordered utilities to begin rotating outages to compensate for a generation shortage due high usage in extreme weather. Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of service designed to ease the load on the electric grid.   The outages last anywhere from 10-45 minutes and the locations and durations are determined by the local utilities.

Dallas: Rolling blackouts stall light rail

There are power problems in the northeast as well. Amtrak's been shut down.

Thats different. Dallas is having blackouts because of the inability to meet demand. Amtrak in the NE is having outages because of infrastructure issues, namely ice on the lines.

ERCOT is pleading with customers to reduce their power usage. The local ABC affiliate in Dallas, WFAA, is only on the air because they have backup generators.

So here's a question that I wonder about every time one of these blizards blows through. What is the net effect on energy consumption. Obviously we use more energy to heat our buildings, but isn't that partially, if not completely offset by reduced economic activity? For example, millions are snowed in, so they use less gasoline to go to work or shop. Also, flights are cancelled, reducing usage of jet fuel, and offices are closed, not completely eliminating their need for heat, but you could in theory at least crank down the thermostat to 50 or so instead of 70. On the other hand, fleets of snow plows would increase the fuel used, but it seems to me that would be a drop in the bucket compared to millions of vehicles off the road. Of course, living in Houston, this is largely theoretical, but if we get snowed in (you know an inch or 2) on Friday, I'm pretty sure that my personal net energy usage will actually decrease. What do you guys think?

It seems like you really have to look at electricity separate from other uses. Evidently, electricity use has spiked. Other uses are likely very much depressed. A lack of electricity may contribute to this decline in other fuel use. For example, without electricity, service stations can't dispense gasoline, and people may not be able to use their electrically powered natural gas home heating.

Many hourly workers will lose pay, because of the storm. With less pay, they will less able to buy goods and services after the storm. For this reason, the storm can be expected to have a follow-on recessionary effect, over and above its depressing impact on the economy right now. This depressing effect can be expected to reduce all fuel use, including electricity, after the storm, I would expect.

After hurricanes, there sometimes is a spike of activity, as everyone uses insurance money to repair damage that was done. I don't expect a blizzard to result in a corresponding injection of funds into the economy, though.

Why would a blizzard cause you to use more energy to heat buildings? Just because it's snowier during the blizzard doesn't imply it's any colder than before or after said blizzard. In fact, in my area of New York State a snowstorm of commonly followed by colder weather after the storm, as the low pressure system off the coast draws the cold air down from Canada. The storm itself is relatively warm. It almost has to be, since the colder the air the less moisture it can hold. Very cold air (say, below zero) can't hold much moisture at all, so can't really cause a major snowfall.

Why would a blizzard cause you to use more energy to heat buildings?

Because of the windchill effect. The wind takes away the insulation air layer close to the walls so the buildings lose heat more rapidly.

Well... Most of these clowns would have probably kept the car running until the tank was empty:

Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


I bet AAA was swamped with calls with people demanding to be saved first. Just a small facsimile of what it will be like when gas and food get scarce and the people begin to demand the Gov't do something for them.

The AAA is not the government, so I don't see the connection.

And judging from the stories in the Chicago papers, no one was calling the AAA. Would have been silly, since the problem was the road was blocked by traffic accidents. Most people called their families, mainly to find out what was going on. People in cars ran the engines carefully, to preserve gas. Some who ran out sheltered in city buses that were also trapped.

People who lived nearby climbed fences to distribute food, water, and coffee to the stranded.

Imagine that, empathic and intelligent behaviour. Makes one wonder how we emerged on top in this 'dog eat dog' world.

The AAA is not the government, so I don't see the connection.

I suppose you've a point, Leanan - AAA is a paid-for service. The connection, however, is that people expect unreasonable forms of help in difficult situations and when it doesn't come, they feel betrayed. Sure it would have been silly, but I still bet there were plenty of calls ...

"... that people expect unreasonable forms of help in difficult situations ..."
I don't think so. More likely: most people are absolutely clueless about what makes a situation difficult and how to tell the easy from the difficult.

Gawd! Enough 'MOST PEOPLE' statements already.

Agreed. There's no evidence that the people trapped on Lake Shore Dr. were stupid or unreasonable. Many of them were on public buses, fer crissakes. It sounds to me like they adapted very well.

If you're going to trash whole groups of people, at least provide some evidence, rather than speculating about how dumb they probably were.

But it makes him feel so superior.

Now just imagine if they were electrics

(hides behind sofa)

Let me try to pull you out from under the sofa.

Either way in all that snow, you'd be screwed. lol

More troubling is the question: Who in the heck would drive in that kind of snow anyway?

You almost have to drive. I mean, you sure can't walk in all that snow!


I was thinking you would either take the train. I lived in Chicago -- they are decent. Or you would work from home.

I mean I would in that kind of a storm.

Sorry. Just a sarcastic retort.

I rode the IC from Urbana to Chicago after the '67 storm (March). Had to since Urbana was without power from the ice storm, and the roads were closed. In Chicago, only one path open from IC Station to Central Station (Burlington) and had to pack luggage over 8' drifts to the cab (one of 3 or 4 running)!! The news photos in '67 looked just like the one upthread! People just never learn, do they ?


Yeah totally. in Boston, same thing. When it snowed I felt the trains were your best bet. the last 1/2 mile to work though was not easy, but it sure beats the roads.

I have been watching Al Jezera live http://english.aljazeera.net/
on Egypt. Seems things are ugly now. Gunfire and fire bombs from the pro-gov't side.

lots of rock throwing too -- people are looking beat up and bloody. camels were used to charge the demonstrators and they were using whips no the crowds.

I wonder if the Western media is playing down the reporting.

Also what is going on with that Cyclone in Australia?

So much is going on.

I don't know much about gun-totin' camel-riders in Egypt ... but Cyclone Yasi (Hurricane to you guys) went through south of Cairns as a Cat 5, with winds in the 250-280km range. As far as we know, nobody died, but there was significant property and crop damage, but thankfully the major cities were spared. Says a lot for solid building codes over the past 20-30 years, I reckon (even if it has led to the loss of a lot of style!).

Glad to hear you've got away with Yasi causing no (as currently reported) loss of life. You've not had the best start to 2011, I really hope things settle down for you all for the rest of the year.

Best of luck with the clear-up.

And Queensland is one of the largest coal-exporting provinces in the world - in fact the whole state seems to be sitting on a bed of it. But politicians (of the green variety, mostly) who make a link between massive coal exports and increasingly wicked weather, are generally shouted down. Nobody can handle the truth, to say the least. Everyone wants the money.

This is the big question. "Money now or a future later!"

When the population grows, then "money now" becomes hard to deny; however, the future is inevitable.

I hope you all recover well.

gun-totin' camel-riders in Egypt

(Insert standard comment about racist comment here)

I believe the people with the guns were on horses - mounted police based on photos/reports.

But if you have reports of Army/Police on camels - do link to 'em.

Bloodshed in Egypt: Mubarak Supporters Riding on Horses and Camels Violently Attack Protesters in Tahrir Square, Over 100 Injured


Yes, it did sound like a typical ME slur.. but in this case, it's actually part of the story..

It wasn't the army or the police. It was the pro-Mubarak protesters. They attacked the anti-Mubarak protesters while riding horses and camels.

Reportedly, the animals were the ones usually used to give tourists rides.

PETA should have a field day with that!

Well, why not? They might actually have the guts to respond. The US Government doesn't seem likely to do much more than furrow its brow and make earnest gestures..

The Independent's Rob't Fiske, also on Democracy Now, today..

ROBERT FISK: Well, immense courage displayed by those who are demanding the overthrow, effectively, of Mubarak, oddly matched by the complete gutlessness of the U.S. administration. In fact, the cowardice of the language coming from Mrs. Clinton in the State Department, the endless calls for restraint and the endless calls of Mubarak being a friend of America, etc.—Mubarak himself being a dictator, runs a secret police state, in effect—against these lone Egyptians who are being filmed by state security, who are being filmed on television around the world, who are giving their names, identifying themselves as being against the regime, it’s been an extraordinary example of lost American opportunities, in fact. You know, I’m on the street with these people. They’re not anti-American. There are no anti—nobody is burning American flags, though I probably would if I was among them and I was an Egyptian in these circumstances.

...I mean, I’m right up right next to the tanks and, you know, where stones are falling and so on. Yesterday, for example, a young soldier was standing in tears as the stones went in both directions past him. And he was obviously torn apart by what he should do between his duty as a soldier and his duty as an Egyptian. And in the end, he jumped down from the tank, right in front of me, crying and throwing his arms around one of the protesters. And that—you know, that was a very significant moment, I thought, in this. You know, if big history is made on the streets, this was a little tiny microcosm of what was actually going over.

What business does the US have making any demands on Egypt at all? Calling for them to investigate killings and such? Why does the US even bother making empty requests, when that's what the UN is apparently for?

The story you quote looks like one of those manufactured emotion stories -- might be true, or maybe not. One example matters little.

The real power in Egypt is indeed the military, and they're driving US tanks and training their officers in the US. There is plenty of behinds-the-scenes influence, and the soldiers do not seem to be intent on doing Mubarek's bidding. Probably the US will equivocate since there is little to do now, and wait for the current unrest to run its course before the Army calmly throws its considerable weight behind a candidate who likely isn't even much on stage yet.

I don't know much about Egypt, but you can bet the military will NOT give up its position of influence, and the people are not demanding that. So, the military will have a de facto power of veto, IMHO.

But we'll see eventually, won't we?

What business? Well, you point out a bunch of the business already.. and then there is a City Square of people pushing for Democratic Reforms, and the entrances of this square have just gotten cut off by Mubarak thugs (remember Aristide and the S.Amer. thugs?), while journalists of every stripe are getting scuttled and beaten out of the scene..

The American PTB don't want a real democracy to come to town.. too unpredictable. Meanwhile, we don't mind asserting strong influence where there's a buck to be made.

I'm not convinced these protests really have anything to do with democracy. They're more anti-Mubarak than pro anything. I think the spur is high food prices, not yearning for democracy. (Unlike, say, the Tiananmen Square protests, which were about democracy.)

As for what say the US has...Egypt is second only to Israel on the list of countries receiving US foreign aid. We give them an average of $2 billion a year. When you take someone's money, you're giving them a say.

What we don't want is the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power. They know they are marginalized today, and are happily blending in and waiting their time. It is better for the US, and the Egyptians, to have a pro-Western despot than a radicalized Islamic state.

I don't think that will happen anytime soon, though. I think the real question is what pro-Western moderate can we support for interim rule and potentially for elected rule?

Neither the Egyptians nor their military appear to be particularly interested in Democracy specifically -- they would like reasonably priced food. I think you're still thinking a level or two too high on Maslow's hierarchy.

"It wasn't the army or the police."

Sounds like a Technicality, actually. I don't know where that denial is coming from, but this is what I've heard..

From SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS.. who has been reporting from Tahrir Sq for several days now..

..And we spoke to people in Tahrir who say that they’re basically coming from three different areas. There are Central Security forces who are dressed in civilian clothes, a lot of what we call baltaguia, who are also known as thugs. There’s also reports that the oil minister, Sameh Fahmi, issued orders for employees at oil companies to show up today in Heliopolis, another district in Cairo, and to demonstrate for Mubarak. And many of them are suspected to be government employees and members of the National Democratic Party.

Other Egyptians being interviewed claim that many of the "Mubarak Supporters" have been captured by the Protesters, and they had compiled already a list of 150 or so who were undercover police..

I'd take that with a few grains of NaCl.

Some of the pro-Mubarak supporters may have been paid to do it, but I don't think the camel-riders were police. They didn't have guns, and were dragged off the camels and beaten.

And no, I don't think it's a technicality. The army vs. the police vs. oil ministry bureaucrats...they aren't all the same.

Perhaps.. I think the point I look towards is are they Grassroots or Astroturf (ie, A Mubarak/Suleiman 'manufactured counterdemonstration' by Loyalists..) With the state-controlled media, there is little doubt that there are 'real Eqyptians' in there who have bought the media line and joined the fray on the 'King's' side.. but there is little doubt that there are many there in costume as well.

I'm looking at it in terms of the post that started this. Mounted police would be a very different thing from randoms riding tourist camels.

And of course, the army is whole 'nother story.

Come on guys. I was just watching Al jezera. They said camels. AND YES I SAW CAMELS ON THE DARN COMPUTER SCREEN!

No I am not a knee-jerk racist. I was saying what was reported.

Sorry, no.

Wind Chill Effect has NO meaning as applied to Non Biological items. Such as a building or a car.

Regardless of wind velocity, ambient temp does NOT change.


The Martian

"Wind Chill Effect has NO meaning as applied to Non Biological items."

Wrong. high winds increase infiltration on the upwind side, and pull a partial vacuum downwind, increasing the leakage of warm air out.

Ideally, a house would be complete immune to this effect, but no house is that tight.

Also, stripping away the boundary layer always increases heat flow across the surface. And increasing flow velocity (wind) does exactly that.

So even without infiltration issues, you are still wrong.

You really don't get it.

Martain, you are arguing over semantics here. Wind, or air, moving over a person or an inanimate object will remove the heat much faster than still air will. That is the point. If you will just admit that and say it was a misunderstanding about semantics the all will be settled to everyone's satisfaction.

Everyone gets it and everyone understands where the error is. Just admit it and move on.

Ron P.

Windchill is a subjective feeling of cold felt as a function of wind and temperature.

When the temperature is -10C and windchill -40 (it must be really blowing to get there), your car will cool down to...-10C. When it is windy a non-heated car engine will cool down to -10C a tad faster, but just because the fair amount of air under the hood would insulate a bit, and wind, well will blow it out. -10C is the limit. Now if it is -10C no wind, I will not bother with gloves or hat if I go out for not too long. At -40 windchill, hats, mitts, scarves, hoods, whatever, goes on. Skin freezes (to -10C) quite fast. So in practice -10C with windchill -40C "feels the same" as -40C, no wind.

The boundary layer is well, boundary layer. Not very thick at all.

Then comes the really subjective part, that is tolerance. We get hot days in summer here, but in Canada heat advisories are issued when the temperatures do not even reach regular daily in the South. 90F is virtually guaranteed to issue heat advisory here. The other way around is for us when we wears shorts on March break in Florida when it's 60F

Actually, it is very real.

Windchill is a measure of the cooling effect relative to human body temperature compared to the same base temperature in still air.

The temperature that an object will cool to is unchanged, but windchill impacts the rate at which any body (animate or inanimate) will cool to that temperature, and thus the amount of energy required to maintain it at a desired temperature.

Have you ever thought that is is colder in the house if it is colder outside even when the temperature is constant inside? My wife always complains that is cold in the house and yet the air temperature is constant 19 degrees Celsius.

All the outside effects (boundary layer, insulation, pressure differential, etc., mentioned in several comments contribute to it since the inside walls getting colder. But the main heat loss contribution a body inside the house experiences is due to the Boltzmann Black Body Radiation E = C[ T1^4 -T2^4] where C is a material, surface, and radiation constant, T1 and T2 are the inside and outside temperatures. Hence we give up heat through radiation even when we are well insulated.

the air temperature is constant 19 degrees Celsius.

i think your wife may be suffering from 'comfort deficiency'. that may sound sarcastic, but it is not meant to be. what i am wondering is: does the temperature within the house vary from the center of the house to the exterior walls ? that can lower the 'comfort level'.

i have rehabed a few houses, and typically these old houses had the hot air registers in the center of the house with cold air returns near the exterior walls. the result - hot near the center and cold near the exterior walls, i.e. a low 'comfort level'.

My wife always complains that is cold in the house and yet the air temperature is constant 19 degrees Celsius.

It's not just her imagination. She may not be losing any more heat by convection to the inside air, but when wind chill cools the outside walls, she will lose heat to the outside walls by radiation. People will interpret this as the walls "sucking the heat" out of them.

The solution is to position the heat registers to blow heat up the outside walls and keep them warm. The problem then is to get the heat back down to the floor so peoples' feet don't get cold. The solution to that problem is a radiant floor.

It's just an endless battle to keep a house comfortable during a blizzard.

Wind Chill Effect has NO meaning as applied to Non Biological items.

the windchill effect, as commonly used, has no meaning as applied to inanimate objects. inanimate objects are subject to a windchill effect, otherwise the radiator in your ice car wouldn't work.

More generally, the windchill effect requires a temperature differential between the object and the air to have any effect on the temperature of the object. If the object is at air temperature, as a rock would be, there would be no effect, but if it is much warmer than air temperature, as a human being would be, there would be a very substantial windchill effect in a storm.

Since your house is at a higher temperature than the air during the winter, it will experience a windchill effect. How big an effect it is depends on how well insulated the house is, and how effective its wind infiltration barrier is.

So, yes, a house (or rather its occupants) will suffer from windchill in a storm. How big an effect this is will depend on how well built it is.

You folks still don't get it. Sorry. Here are a few easy links.




The term "WIND CHILL FACTOR" relates to exposed Human Flesh. If you want to try to explain the extremely poor Thermodynamics, of Houses and Buildings in the U.S., one needs to go in a different direction. So, no, your poorly insulated House, will not be subject to a "WIND CHILL FACTOR", if it leaks out all of your heat during a Blizzard.

The Martian

alrighty then, you can probably remove the radiator from your ice car.

The term "WIND CHILL FACTOR" relates to exposed Human Flesh.

You are making a 'word game' of it. You know what is meant:

So, no, your poorly insulated House, will not be subject to a "WIND CHILL FACTOR", if it leaks out all of your heat during a Blizzard.

By the way, I called it windchill effect.


Windchill affects things that are warmer than the air, and makes them cool faster than if the wind were not blowing, so in that respect it can affect inanimate objects. Have you ever had coffee or soup that was too hot to put in your mouth, so you blew on it to cool it? You were using wind chill to cool it faster. It would also have an effect on cars. I used to have a car that would overheat if I was stuck in a traffic jam, but would be fine if the car were moving--that's because when the car was moving the "wind" would carry heat away from the car.

The term "WIND CHILL FACTOR" relates to exposed Human Flesh. If you want to try to explain the extremely poor Thermodynamics, of Houses and Buildings in the U.S., one needs to go in a different direction. So, no, your poorly insulated House, will not be subject to a "WIND CHILL FACTOR", if it leaks out all of your heat during a Blizzard.

Yeah yeah yeah. I'm Canadian, I have a couple of science degrees, I've worked under Arctic conditions, I know all about it. You're trying to explain to your grandmother how to suck eggs. Your house gets colder when the wind blows - deal with it.

Now you guys have given us a perfect demonstration of why we have so many lawyers living as parasites on the rest of society.

Martian may or may not be all wet scientifically,since it looks as if he MIGHT admit it requires more energy to heat a house in windy weather than calm , but he probably would have a truly excellent chance of winning in court, based on technical definitions and dry as dust law books...

And of course counsel for both sides will be glad to appeal right up to to the loser's last dime. ;)

Some people (or perhaps non-people in the Martian's case) are instantly capable of recognizing the most trivial point in any given argument and focusing on it with precision and dedication.

We might have to give out a "Martian Award" in the future.

Blowing dry air over a wet or humid surface will lead to evaporative cooling.

Also the kinetics of heat transfer will increase with moving air masses. Force convection is the idea here.

For example, wind can kill you when it blows in through your house and drives the warmer air out. One would find that if they left the door open on each end of a house that a windy day would drop the inside temp faster than a calm day. Then after the warm air was driven out; the warm objects in the house would more quickly transfer heat to the moving air mass.

Lots of mechanisms to consider.

I spend some amount of time this evening checking stuff and here is what I found. (Will use SI units). Convective Heat Transfer is highly affected by wind speed. Most experiments showed around 35-40 W/m^2K at 10 m/s wind. So at the temperature difference between flesh (30 deg C) and air (-20 deg C) there is 2000 W/m^2 heat loss. That is major windchill on the skin and I am wrapping my face with a scarf, put on mitts and hat.

But the external layer of my coat which I already have on has temperature pretty close to -20C therefore there is little convective heat loss.

Same with the building. Temperature of the siding in a well insulated building (heat gets through by conduction mostly) is pretty close to ambient and there is not much convective heat loss. As a result of the wind speed though, all infiltration issues appear and air circulation might be distorted and heat lost this way.

http://thermographicscan.ca/ shows a picture of a two houses, well insulated has wall temperature equal to that of a nearby tree. There is no convective heat loss and no potential for wind chill.

One for Canucks. Wind chill is to decide: coat or parka, gloves or mitts, and what about scarf, not fiddle with thermostat.

Tongue in cheek. 2000 W/m^2K would translate to almost 300kW = 1 million BTU heat loss on my house, had it been subject to "windchill" heat loss.

You make a good point about an ideal house.

Many homes in cold climates and almost all homes in warm climates are not sealed and insulated to that standard.

I really feel sympathy for the poor people in the southern tier of states stuck with even a couple of days of what for us up in MN is typical winter weather. This sort of weather can kill the unprepared.

Is it purely a demand-side issue? Dallas is a part of the country that probably depends more on electricity for heat than points farther north -- ie, greater use of heat pumps or even resistive heating elements. So high demand is reasonable.

OTOH, Texas has shifted a lot of its power generation towards natural gas in the last couple of decades, and generators are among the first to have their gas service disrupted. Heavy demand for NG for heating fuel could reduce the supply of electricity available.

A few years back, a maintenance issue restricted the amount of NG flowing into the Denver metro area on a very cold morning. High residential demand for NG led to interruption in NG service to the generators which led to rolling electricity blackouts for the residential consumers. It was frustrating to realize that I had plenty of NG, but couldn't use it unless the power was on.

As noted down the thread, insufficient pipeline capacity is a leading theory, but no confirmation yet.

I know that this has been a problem in the Northeast in the past--Dave Summers has written about it. People turn on their natural gas home heating at the same time the power plants that have been standby mode decide to go on, and there is not enough NG to go around.

This is obviously something that people who are counting on natural gas for wind balancing need to think about as well. Liebig's Law of the Minimum holds. If the pipeline is too small, it doesn't matter how many NG generating plants there appear to be.

People turn on their natural gas home heating at the same time the power plants that have been standby mode decide to go on, and there is not enough NG to go around.

I wonder if these weather events start to happen more often, that the power plants will find it reasonable to add more on-site fuel storage, for being able to run on that on-site reserve, for say 24hrs or so.

Such a storage would not help in any long term, but might help avoid blackouts due to dips that last less than their reserve.

Can a power plant really store much natural gas?

FPL is converting our local plant from oil to NG. They had massive tanks which would probably store 2 weeks worth fuel oil. I don't see how that kind of storage is possible with the new combined cycle NG plant unless they have the ability to liquefy it.

Winter Storm Bolsters NatGas at All Points; Low Linepack Common, NGI Reports

OFOs and similar actions to combat low linepack that was being caused by frozen wellheads in some cases were proliferating at a rapid pace.

OFO = Operational Flow Order (energy utility industry)


Electric utilities can be divided into summer peaking utilities (because of the summer air conditioning load) and winter peaking utilities (because of heating).

Because of the high summer temperatures Texas is surely summer peaking. So why the problems now instead of in the summer?

wellheads are freezing-up and stoping the flow. actually, it is hydrates that are forming to stop the flow. remember the first 'dome' that was lowered onto the mocondo well ?

AccuWeather says Dallas is at 14F 10 AM EST, Austin is at 20F. Chicago is at 17F. Not what I would call cold, since our temperatures went down near 0F a few weeks ago. This morning, we have 42F, Atlanta is at 39F and Charlotte is at 54F. The cold blast hasn't made it to Charlotte yet...

E. Swanson

Holy cold, Batman!

Tonight AM 3 Feb, it is supposed to be between -5F and -10F in Albuquerque...last night was ~ zero F...tonight, even in Deming and Hobbs in NM (pretty much as far South as it gets in NM), it is supposed to be 0F. Up in Santa Fe, -12, -28F in Red River, -28F in Pagosa Springs, CO right across the border.

I never thought I would use my North-Dakota-installed block heaters again, not while I was living in NM anyway!

Of course, my family reminds everyone that this is actually balmy for North Dakota, where we spent 9 years...

It's a little unusual for rolling blackouts to hit the train services. In most places, electric rail is considered a priority service, just behind hospitals and fire stations.

Private homes are usually the first ones to be cut, on the assumption that they wouldn't mind waiting by candle light for the power to come back on.

There's also the option of backup generators at the transit electric substations. Rail systems can be very resistant to interruptions. As an old German WWII refugee once told me, "The Allied bombers used to blow up the railroad tracks every night, but the trains would be on time every morning."

Your "old German WWII refugee" may not have noticed that the Allies would have target trains and transport choke points, like bridges and rail yards, not tracks. Once the German Luftwaffe was knocked down, the trains were sitting ducks for Allied fighters. Building locomotives takes much more time than replacing rails...

E. Swanson

Well, they may have targeted them, but the key point was to hit them.

He cited one bridge which was the target of repeated American raids. They took out the glass factory, they took out the cathedral, they took out the school, they took out the hospital, and they took out almost all the other buildings in the town, but they never did hit the bridge. So the trains kept running.

Hohenzollern Brucke in Cologne. Cathedral and bridge were the only two things left over at the end of the war and ironically the bridge was blown up by Germans when allied forces came close...

And that's the Americans, who bombed in the daytime. The Royal Air Force bombed at night. And the German trains rolled on.

Remember Liebig's Law of the Minimum. Even if you think you have taken care of everything needed to keep train service running, if you have overlooked one necessary item, it may not run. The problem may be lack of people to operate the trains, or a lot of other things.

Our servers have been shut down since this morning. Our blackout hasn't rolled anywhere for at least 4 hours. I've never seen a rolling blackout in Texas, at least in the last 10 years, but this one has shut down all of our EDI data services since our servers are without power. We have had ice storms and other severe storms come through in the last few years, but i have never seen a rolling blackout.

You might make mention of these facts to your Governor and State legislators in Texas. I suggest adding a note about Peak Oil while you are at it...

Edit: Might this problem be the result of the push to deregulate the production of electricity, a legacy of the Reaganite Free Market philosophy? Isn't this what was expected to happen as profit oriented utilities built less reserve capacity than that previously required during the older model of electric production as a state regulated monopoly?

E. Swanson

Someone should check and see what wind is adding to electrical supply today in Texas.

I am not sure how soon after that goes up on the web site after the fact, but I know that it is available.

That sounds like an invitation for more reactionary attitudes about wind, as if it's supposed to act like JIT power when it's most needed. It isn't.

Renewables are a stream of nickels that we have the opportunity to save along the way.. asking them to play the role of a winning lottery ticket on that day our car skids into a hydrant is an invitation to miss a different sort of opportunity.

It's been very windy during this storm; wind power is probably doing great.

According to news reports, several of the electric plants that went down were coal plants, because of dumb stuff: water lines froze, and in a few cases instrumentation lines froze and the instruments caused (false) alarms that took the plants down.

So much for needing coal plants as base-load power because renewables are unreliable.

They might listen. Here in Dallas this morning family members, noticing the lack of electric - and attendant lack of heat - suddenly were asking me, "What was that you have been telling us about energy problems?"

Nothing like a smack on the back of the head to get one's attention, eh?


Apparently, several power plants are down, but the "why" appears to still be a little mysterious. One blogger claimed that several gas fired plants were down because of insufficient pipeline capacity for both power plants and for home and office heating, but I haven't seen any confirmation.

A huge quantity of southern homes are built with electric baseboard heating as well (low maintenance and cheap to install, ideal for the normal low usage).

So increased demand for electrical power as well.

WFAA, in Dallas, has the answer:


Two coal fired power plants were down because of burst pipes and natural gas fired plants had trouble starting up because of low line pressures. Atmos Energy, which supplies natural gas to the DFW area, is concerned about line pressures if several schools and businesses reopen tomorrow, and they are asking everyone to cut down on their natural gas use.

How often does Houston have prolonged periods below freezing? I recall refinery/gas plant issues in LA when temps dropped a decade or so ago, because the process engineers had simply forgotten about any potential icing issues, as such had never arisen.

Burst pipes and downed lines can cause problems for sure. Just a side effect of running too close to the edge for too long.

Note to self: buy a bigger genset. And solar.

Paleo - Two nights in a row of freezing temps isn't common. Four nights in a row is rare. Pipe damage usually start the second night.

Rolling Blackouts Force Texas To Import Power From Mexico

Apparently 50 out of Texas’ 550 power plants went down Wednesday morning, knocking off 8,000 mw, or about 12% of demand. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the problem appeared be inadequate winterization and that the trouble centered on two new coal-fired plants owned by Luminant (a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, formerly TXU) which suffered a broken pipe and a frozen pipe. What about the other 48? Still unclear.

Also compounding troubles: another 12,000 mw worth of plants were offline with scheduled maintenance. As of Thursday morning 3,000 mw of plants were reportedly still offline because of the cold.

Edit: Mexico Cancels Offer to Send Electricity to Texas

Doh. We need energy to keep the house warm and turn on the lights and stuff. Now I get it. (((Light bulb in head turns on)))

Funny to see people I have had conversations with 2-3 years ago come back and say -- gasoline prices are doing it again maybe there is a problem!

When the power goes down in Texas, one has to wonder about our "system".

Isn't Texas an energy hub?

Welcome to Pakistan

Re: FedEx CEO: Let's end our need for oil

Electricity is generated by a diverse, domestic, stable, fundamentally scalable portfolio of fuels that is almost entirely free of oil. With an electrified transportation system, no single fuel source -- or producer -- could hold us hostage the way just one nation can disrupt the flow of petroleum today. In addition, electric vehicles have better carbon-emission profiles than today's gas-powered ones, an advantage that will improve over time as we charge more and more of our cars and trucks with low-carbon sources of power.

Umm, no, not quite. While electricity generation may be almost completely, oil free, that doesn't necessarily mean it is low in carbon emissions, at least not as it is currently produced in the US. Here is a chart that breaks down fuel sources for our electricity generation.

Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

While electric vehicles may have better carbon-emission profiles than today's gas-powered ones, electricity from coal doesn't necessarily solve the carbon emissions issues. The proponents of clean coal notwithstanding and not to mention the prospects of peak coal being not that far off as well.

Granted I'm still all for switching to electrical transport systems such as trains and limited range electric trucks because while we still depend heavily on coal and natural gas for our generation of electricity we could conceivably find other ways to generate it. Not to mention we could still have significant gains by implementing conservation and negawatt usage more broadly.

Best hopes for smaller carbon footprints for all! I'd like to see more FEDEX couriers who look like this!


I look at an article like this, and I think, noise. And I try not to be distracted by noise.

Electric transport may be coming, but it's no solution to what ails us. All we'll do is burn through the coal and natural gas that much faster, creating heavy demands on the electric grid in the process.

There are no "solutions" which do not require trade offs. Americans seem incapable of understanding this.

Just switch to electric cars and trucks, and we can fill our country with 400, 500 million people! We can invade the entire Middle East! Wall Street can hand out trillions of dollars in bonuses! Elderly people can live to 120, 130, 140 years old!

Nonsense, all of it.

Sure the FedEx CEO has to say something. But he doesn't have any answers. Nobody does, because the answers are the ones we don't want to think of.

Namely, declaring bankruptcy, ending the Empire and heavily curtailing population growth.

Nonsense, all of it.

True, dat!

Yeah but argue with the CEO's DATA:

"FedEx (FDX, Fortune 500) has deployed its first all-electric delivery vehicles and will have 31 in service by the middle of this year. Early results confirm that the costs of operating and maintaining electric vehicles are significantly less than those for traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles. In some cases we've achieved savings of 70% to 80%."

Cost savings = less use of not only oil but other resources as well.

Explain to me your position that electric fleets are not going to happen in the next 5-7 years for these oil intensive business models.

Explain to me your position that electric fleets are not going to happen in the next 5-7 years for these oil intensive business models.

I'm sure they will. They already are. However it doesn't eliminate the problems of our dependence on finite fossil fuels and carbon emissions foot print, it just shifts it to a dependence to natural gas and coal. I'm not arguing that it won't be cheaper than depending on imported oil, at least in the near to mid term. Over the long term there has to be another order of magnitude paradigm shift away from attempts at maintaining BAU.

Well read the links and posts above on rolling blackouts. Then explain how the grid will support a few million cars, not to mention electric trucks and more electric trains and/or trollies?

Well they could build lots of new power plants. Lots of new coal and natural gas plants and even nuclear plants. Then rebuild the entire grid. But that would take a lot more than 5 to 7 years.

Ron P.

The oil drilling, gasoline refining, pumping, etc, probably uses more electricity than all the electric cars in America will use, so it will be an even swap......
Darwinian does not want to succeed.

The oil drilling, gasoline refining, pumping, etc, probably uses more electricity than all the electric cars in America will use, so it will be an even swap......

Especially refining uses a lot of electricity. A few months ago I raised this matter on Drumbeat and one answer was that the refineries generate their own electricity. That answer is for me enough reason to believe that the electricity freed up when refineries close is not so much or much less as some people believe.

The oil drilling, gasoline refining, pumping, etc, probably uses more electricity than all the electric cars in America will use, so it will be an even swap......

Are you serious? Not even close. If that were the case then it would take as much electrical energy to produce gasoline as you get from the gasoline you produce. Oil would then have a negative EROEI by only counting the energy required to refine it.

And you think refineries get refining power from electricity purchased off the grid? Nonsense, I am not a refinery man but I would bet a lot of money that they refine by heating with oil or natural gas. They probably use electricity mostly for lighting and running electric motors around the plant.

Drilling rigs obviously generate their own electricity with diesel generators and the electricity required for pumping is negligible.

That you would even think that it would be an even swap just exposes the silly pipe dream world most cornucopians live in.

You shouldn't say such very silly things unless you have some data to back it up. You don't!

Ron P.

You're right, the idea that oil drilling, refining, pumping, uses more electricity than all the electric cars in America will use fails the sniff test and a basic reality check. Somebody can do the math on it but from my perspective there's no point, it's obviously wrong.

Refineries do use electricity from the grid, but that is because it is cheaper than they can generate it themselves. They could generate it themselves, but they prefer to sell their products to the consumers rather than burn them themselves. The electrical utilities companies can provide energy cheaper because they are burning fuels that are cheaper than oil - i.e. coal and natural gas.

You're right that drilling rigs generate their own electricity, but in fact pumping stations do use a lot of energy. This is built into the cost of the oil they pump, so obviously there is a net gain on the process or they wouldn't make money.

The bottom line, and one that electric car proponents object to vociferously, is that adding large numbers of electric cars to the grid will require major upgrades to all the electrical infrastructure. Otherwise you can expect rolling blackouts.

The grid is not really in very good shape at all. It's suffering from decades of neglect and deferred maintenance.

Even if you can use the same power plants, it seems like you have to burn the more fuel to generate the extra electricity. If the generation is done by night, one option is to run coal fired plants more hours at night. Another is to use more gas fired electrical capacity at night. I imagine the decision as to what is used depends on what type of generation is available in an area, and the cost and availability of fuel.

Charging up a few tens of millions of electrics or plug in hybrids would help make the case for some new nukes, as they produce very cheap often unneeded nighttime baseload once constructed;but the real contribution would be in providing a good storage medium for wind and solar power whenever production of either is high, allowing the economy to go light on petroleum in particular by driving electric, and lighter on coal and natural gas, because the more storage we have, the more solar and wind we can afford to build.

That's where the FedEx CEO's push away from oil rings hollow... The fact is the very existence of his business model is something that cannot be sustained. Stop the subsidies and externalization of costs and then charge what it REALLY would cost to send something around the world in a day... A short time of that and FedEx (in its current form) would be no longer.

This seems to me to be just a plea by someone who knows that the way they do things is completely unsustainable and is now trying desperately to come up with a Plan B: BAU lite.

IMHO the vast majority of overnight courier business will collapse as globalization does - the American (and now global ?) obsession with speed and efficiency in all transactions has created a large artificial demand that I don't think would be necessarily missed if it all (or mostly) just went away... sure there are some things that need to be overnighted but a huge portion of that market is convenience rather than necessity. There will be some withdrawal to be sure but I don't think the world (economically or otherwise) will come to halt because we can't ship stuff overnight.

"..push away from oil rings hollow..."

..and yet, a week or so ago, we had the story of Fedex putting up a sizable Solar Array at one of their hubs, I believe.. and the comments that seemed to say 'Oh, yeah?' were showing a solar array, with some of the air-fleet in the background. Distribution Hubs with Solar Rooftops and Electric Trucks seems to be working in a durable direction..


How do you know that they are not very aware that the scope of their operations might be radically different in 5 years, and yet they still intend to be in the business of transporting packages, predicting that the need for it will still exist, and those who still have the means to accomplish even some portion of it will be in the catbird seat?

It's possible that some 'greenPR' might actually have some real Green in it at the same time.. or Vice Versa..

Last year, FedEx Freight installed two solar power systems. One in Whittier, Calif., is a 282-kilowatt system , while another in Fontana, Calif., is a 269-kilowatt system. In 2005, FedEx Express activated a 904-kilowatt system at its Oakland, Calif., hub facility, making it the first of its kind in the FedEx family. That system today meets up to 80 percent of that facility’s peak energy demand. And, FedEx is currently constructing its Central and Eastern European gateway at the Cologne/Bonn, Germany, airport, which will include a 1.4-megawatt solar power system. The hub is slated for completion in 2010.

(Not lost on me was the fact that it was BP-solar handling that installation.. so then where do you take it when someone does one thing wrong and another thing right? You laud or challenge the actions, not the entire company..)

All fair points jokuhl...

It just gets frustrating to think of how something like this proclamation by FedEx CEO gets presented by the media and digested by those receiving the news.

They may very well be aware of how their operation may need to be in 5 years but rather than say that - all we get is the part about the fuel (we never hear - "we're going to switch half our fleet to natural gas AND cut half our services...") I also realize they have no obligation to do that but it sure would be refreshing to hear the "whole story" once in a while...

We on TOD all are aware of the implications and complications with changing to something that "replaces" oil but to many out there this just adds fuel to the fire, supporting the assertion that "ah well, when we need to we'll just change to a different fuel and go on our merry way..." - so these kinds of one sided statements are not helpful in getting across that we have a serious problem. A problem that fundamentally will not be able to be addressed by changing fuels but by radically changing how we do things... And that's the part that always seems to get left out when CEOs etc. talk about getting off of oil.

I do recognize that.. but as I feel that those additions are useful ones, even if for different ends than 'They' currently see them, I feel it's counterproductive to snipe at these efforts as being 'wrongheaded'.. they're going (IMO) in the right direction.

I think they're taking the first steps in a journey of 10 miles.. they just don't know they need to go a Thousand yet. Are they really supposed to stop walking?

Yair...my views too Catskill. The need for speed is over rated and probably not efficient...I was passed on the highway yesterday by a Kenworth semi doing 120kays. He was loaded with crushed car bodies.

I believe the criteria for moving freight must become "How do we get this to its destination with the least amount of fuel"...not "in the least amount of time".

The logical question is; what percentage of Fed Ex's oil consumption goes to the airplanes, and what goes to the ground fleet?

If he had announced the first cross-continental electric airplane, then I would be a lot more impressed. In fact, I would have nominated him for King of the World for Life.

The fact is the very existence of his business model is something that cannot be sustained.

The business model is getting "something" from point A to point B.

They got their start on the package overnight, yes. But the model has expanded beyond that.

And given how cheap data networks are not to mention useful, a new part of the model is Kinko's - you walk into your local Kinko's and have your the printout of your digital works show up at a different Kinko's someplace else so someone can pick that output up.

Well if you want to see doomster view you can always see one. But what he proposes does provide solutions to some problems that will work for a while . . . certainly not forever and it certainly won't be as nice as cheap oil. He did not say it was a silver-bullet magic solution as you seem to be implying.

If you want to critique his view, please have at it . . . but you seem to be criticizing the fact that he is trying to provide a solution . . . how is that helpful? Thankfully, not everyone is as negative as you.

Yeah, here we go with "solutions."

Invading Iraq without just cause is a "solution" to American oil dependence.

Printing a ton of digital money is a "solution" to debt default.

Housing bubble is a "solution" to the lack of a productive economy.

Making everybody buy expensive insurance is a "solution" to health care costs.

Imprisoning the largest amount of people in the world is a "solution" to crime.

Food stamps are a "solution" to lack of real income.

You can take your solutions and shove them. If I'm being negative, good.


The social and political backlash against austerity and reform is going to become worse, because people don't see light at the end of the tunnel
--Nouriel Roubini

That's because they are not in a tunnel, they are on a sinking ship and refuse to let go of it and swim to a lifeboat or a bit of flotsam.

Let's just be clear about something once and for all, there ain't no they, cuz, whether we like it or not, and whether we know it or not, we'z all in the same boat... and she's going down!

"End of the Ship" by Roy Zimmerman


Part of something I posted over at Greer's site:

In my experience, few were able to make the transition from understanding properly functioning systems to groking the same systems that were malfunctioning or failing.

Next step: damage control. This is where we humans now find ourselves; realizing the 'chasing-your-ass' aspect of trying to patch together systems that have become too hypercomplex and corrupt.

Yeah OS, coming to terms with the fact that our solutions create new problems which require their own solutions (and so forth) seems like a good first step.

That's not 'being negative'.. that's having a tantrum.

To compare Fedex trying out some electric trucks against the choice to go to war in Iraq as comparably vicious and useless 'solutions' is making me wonder if you're here to work on unresolved daddy issues or something.

If your kids are hungry, one "SOLUTION" is to try to find edible plants, or ask for handouts to help feed them. In other words, just because some solutions are merely euphemisms for an obviously screwed up set of habits or priorities, doesn't mean you pout in the corner and refuse to try to do anything to help the situation.

Put on some big boy pants.

Our leaders seem incapable of being frank. Everyone thinks it's "good politics" to avoid discussion of difficult issues.

Exactly! The corporate state cannot respond to energy depletion, because energy depletion ends the corporate state. I think it will be hard for corporations, which were created during a time of almost free energy, to hold together without CHEAP energy. That is why anything less than BAU is off the table as a governmental response. Plutocracies do not usually cede power for the public good. At least that is how I see it.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) can produce either electricity or hydrogen (from water electrolysis) without much use of hydrocarbons. It can scale, and there are Terrawatts of potential heat to extract from the upper ocean in subtropical regions into other energy forms. Liquid hydrogen (or ammonia, from reduction of atmospheric nitrogen) can be cheaply transported by displacement-hull shipping, similarly to current LNG and oil tankers. Airplanes can fly on hydrogen, and perhaps ammonia fuel. If one prefers electric cars, convert the liquid fuel at the receiving port into electricity. Heavy trucks can run on liquid hydrogen or ammonia. Fuel cells would work, but there may be a problem with platinum availability at scale.

Really now, there are alternatives to FF that can supply our energy needs. Of course, this still does not solve the problem of population growth and overshoot, it just kicks the can down the road and buys some time for the monkeys to show how smart they are at problem solving.


Really now, there are alternatives to FF that can supply our energy needs.

Regarding a hydrogen economy, there are some more hurdles than the production (with OTEC or something else).

Yes, if it were easy, we'd probably be doing it already. Liquid ammonia has problems also. Maybe stick with electricity generation and darn it, give up all the Happy Flying.

there are Terrawatts of potential heat to extract from the upper ocean in subtropical regions into other energy forms.

And with that extractions of heat:
1) The effects on England will be?
2) The effects on the methane on the ocean bottom will be?
3) the mixing of salt levels and CO2 levels will be what on the windlife?

buys some time for the monkeys to show how smart they are at problem solving.

I'm guessing the cost of the material science to do the extraction VS the resulting energy won't be as good a value as PV panels.

But hey, you are the one pitching it - so answer the questions....


I'm a fan, not an advocate in the operational sense. I know those who are and I listen to them. Here's a stab at some answers for you:

"1) The effects on England will be?"

England is too far north to directly benefit from OTEC. Ships can bring the energy there in chemical form much like oil and LNG.

"2) The effects on the methane on the ocean bottom will be?"

The long-term effects will be to cool the surface warm pool in the subtropical zone and warm the waters in the reinjection layers below. Your concerns on the methane locked in shallow ocean sediments are well taken but one needs to look at the potential magnitudes of the temperature change. Our gift from the past is a large cold pool beneath the global ocean thermocline that should be able to absorb quite a lot of heat, so the absolute temperature rise may be small.

"3) the mixing of salt levels and CO2 levels will be what on the windlife?"

There might be some freshening of the salt content in the reinjection layers. Upper ocean CO2 levels should be relatively unaffected. The wildlife in question are probably the marine plankton, which are very important, but can likely handle the minor changes in temperature and salinity, to an extent less than global warming is doing now, and in the reverse direction, so a help there. There are lots of marine biologists around more capable than I to answer these questions.

Umm, no, not quite. While electricity generation may be almost completely, oil free, that doesn't necessarily mean it is low in carbon emissions, at least not as it is currently produced in the US.

Everything he said in what you quoted is true. He did NOT say electricity generation is low in carbon emission . . . he said "electric vehicles have better carbon-emission profiles than today's gas-powered ones". And that is completely true since the electricity that powers EVs is less than half coal-generated and even when coal generated electricity is used, the emissions from EVs about equal to a gas car since electric motors are 90% efficient whereas cars are only 25% efficient.

FM - Along those same line if you didn't catch my post the other day: I just found out that ground will be broken 1 April on a new coal-fired e-plant on the Texas coast. They'll be building on top of a NG field I'm currently drilling. I haven't found the specs but I suspect it will be a large. The initial construction force will have 2,500 hands. Don't know the coal source but for decades much of the coal burned in Texas came from S. Africa and Aussiland. Maybe I'll have a chance to seq. CO2 for the plant. My wells will be pressure depleted and thus not require as high an injection pressure.

Would the available CO2 be better used to stimulate production from depleted oil reservoirs? Of course, once you were finished extracting the NG from your wells, they too might be used for CO2 sequestration...

E. Swanson

Dog - And that's the problem with the theory. If I had oil reservoirs nearby that could use the CO2 it would be a true win-win. But there are none close by. There might be a field 30 miles away that could make good use of the combustion gases but that project wouldn't support the construction of a CO2 pipeline that would cost ten's of millions. My wells are only a few thousand feet away and, even better, will pressure deplete and thus lower the pressure needed to inject the CO2. As they always say: the devil is in the details.

much of the coal burned in Texas came from S. Africa and Aussiland.

Why? Because Texas exports its coal to South Africa and Australia? >;^) I thought Texas had an infinite supply of lignite or something? No? In any case as much as I dislike coal and the whole idea of sequestering CO2 I'm still fascinated by the technology behind the entire process and look forward to hearing about that from you as things proceed.


FM - We're still burning the heck out of lignite but still need more electricity. During the national down turn Texas has been something of a marvel. Not that our economy hasn't taken some small hits but we're still booming in many areas. One amazing statistic: over the last few years 75% on all the new jobs created in the U.S. have been in Texas. Yep...75% of the jobs in one state with the other 49 splitting the other 25%. Our unemployment is still high but that's due to a huge migration of folks to Texas. Chicken and egg: more jobs mean more folks moving here and than means more demand for e and other services. Sometimes it difficult for folks in Texas to relate to the problems around the rest of the country. For instance, throughout the recession we still saw commercial construction humming along quit nicely here. Downtown Houston has been booming for more than 10 years: folks have given up driving 2 hrs a day to get to work d/t so they'll spend $400,000 for 1,100 sq ft d/t instead of 4,000 sq ft in the bergs. In Houston one of the major growth centers is medicine. There are tens of thousands of sq ft of new facilities opening monthly. I suspect there was some politics involved but consider where they moved the wounded congress woman...Houston medical.

I didn't mention it earlier but the new coal fired plant will be built about than 40 miles from the South Texas Nuclear Plant. Demand will be met. Another matter to ponder: our commercial NG prices are muchlower than the NE...

Electric vehicles make sense for the last mile.
And there will definitely have to be delivery trucks to homes and businesses.
BUT once again an electric personal car takes as much electricity as a house:


Driving 10,000 miles on electricity will use about 2,500 kilowatt hours, or 20 percent more than the average annual consumption of U.S. homes.

As far as flying packages, that is really not a good idea.
Even back in the old days of Rail before "Hi-Speed" Rail when trains only went slightly over 100 MPH the Railway Post Offices
could sort mail en route and deliver overnight mail service:


Most RPO cars had a mail slot on the side of the car, so that mail could actually be deposited in the car, much like using the corner mail box, while the train was stopped at a station. Those desiring the fastest delivery would bring their letters to the train station for dispatch on the RPO, knowing that overnight delivery would be virtually assured.

Perhaps the Federal govt could help Hi-Speed rail by RE-establishing
Postal deliveries on the passenger trains.

Fedex is already taking steps to route their long-distance shipping to Rail.
But no doubt they would love to get subsidized and reap the benefits of
government largesse for personal electric cars to save their own infrastructure costs for the last mile.
But the true costs of cars and trucks, electric or otherwise are not just
the fuel but the whole vast gargantuan complex of 8 lane roads, parking lots, traffic cops, ambulances, traffic courts and all the rest for them to
run on consuming acres and acres of what could be Green land or useful buildings.
The Midwest and East have definitely gotten a major lesson in those costs
this Winter as cities,towns and States are struggling under the costs of
clearing snow from all the acres of roads and parking lots.
Moreover, here in the Northeast the roads, many newly paved from Stimulus
funding are already riddled with major potholes from all the snow and ice.

"an electric personal car takes as much electricity as a house:"

Don't forget that, inasmuch as the above is true, then your Gas car is using a great deal MORE energy than your house.

It's all relative.. but some of it is also a bit invisible.. here's hoping for some nice LITTLE electric vehicles.. and a lot more bikes.

here's hoping for some nice LITTLE electric vehicles.. and a lot more bikes.

Why not combine the two into something even better. I love the videos on this page...


Have you ever wished to be commuting faster than on a road bike, to be riding protected from rain, wind and cold? How about lounge chair comfort, a trunk for our luggage, fully protected drive train or slip-protection? All of this in one bike? If so, try out a velomobile.

I know there is a company out in Oregon that electrifies these and then they can be charged with under a thousand dollars worth of Solar PV even during the gloomy overcast winters of the North West.

With this conversion; a Quest has enough performance to match a car in around town driving. That means you can forget about high gas prices -- you can go over 600 miles on a dollars worth of electricity. That's even up to 25 times better than an electric car or gas scooter.

Electric bikes and velomobiles are legally* bikes and can be ridden in bike lanes and on bike trails in most locations. That means big safety advantages over motorcycles and scooters because you don't have to mix with automobiles. Or, get caught in traffic.

Stuff like this is doable today if only there were a willingness to transition. Its frustrating that we as a society do not find this to be of utmost importance.


It is a frustration, but I'm glad that such simple devices already are around. It won't take much to build a generation of them. They can work well on simple and modest roads, could even be quickly converted to simple rail riding as well.. some folks could assemble basic versions of this sort of thing from bike parts in their own garages.

It's not good enough (ie, that they're not really going strong yet).. but it's good.

It's not good enough (ie, that they're not really going strong yet).. but it's good

True, but I still get angry thinking about what could have happen if instead of bailing out GM, Wall Street and the bankers we had used that money in a massive cash for clunkers incentive program for something like these electric velomobiles and some small scale off grid solar to power them. We could really have taken the opportunity to jump start a whole new kind of economy. Unfortunately our fearless leaders in their infinite wisdom chose to do otherwise!

On another more positive note I was reading some of the comments in one of those links that I posted and found out that there is a speciality recumbent bike shop practically in my back yard that I was previously unaware of. I will most definitely be paying them a visit soon, perhaps over the coming weekend.

Yes, it is important to keep looking for positive outlets to our frustration with the status quo.

People, even many who otherwise appear to be environmentalists won't even get out of their SUVs into cars much less take the more radical step of riding in a velomobile.

Well don't worry about the thousands who won't. Start with the dozens who will.

We spend far too much time here worrying about what people who are stuck in the mainstream are willing to accept.

Be the 'weirdo' in the weird car/bike thing. Fight city hall to get it legalized, suffer some indignities.. there will be curious peeks from many lurking mall-rats.. and if it works, some will even convert.

I agree, it is the only way. Some of us have to get out in front and lead. First they laugh at you...

...then they ridicule you, after that they kill you. And when you are dead, wait for some decades/centuries to pass and then you win as some of your torturers' descendants will wake up one morning and realize: "Heeeey... Waaaait a minit, he actually might have been onto something..." :D
Reminds me of the "Church versus Galileo" thing, or the "Church versus Flat Earth". Hopefully those SUV-drivers-soon-to-be-bikers are quicker in giving up their SUV-belief as the Church was with geocentrism and flatearthism. :P
I'm just saying...

I sold my car 4 years ago and I either walk or bike, so I'm already in front and trying to lead, but... I don't see any impact of that on my fellow citizens. Our little town is getting overcrowded by cars, they are often parking on the sidewalks, making pedestrians walk on the road, risking to win the Darwin's award, or as we are putting it - "being an involuntary organ donor".

Anyway, I'm not giving up, still biking, still walking, letting those others spend their hard-earned money on ever costlier gas and car insurance. >:oP

In ideal conditions a fully enclosed streamlined trike works fine, but there are severe drawbacks in crosswinds, high temperatures or on steep uphills. Also, with cycle lanes often either non-existent or very narrow in the US, any trike design is a liability in traffic here.

I have ridden long distance rides with a very strong rider who was riding a custom streamlined recumbent bicycle (not a trike). He could ride 30mph on flat ground literally all day long, as long as there were not crosswinds or large hills, and as long as the temperatures were below 80F or so. As a general purpose mount however, it just didn't hack it.

One very interesting aspect of the bike (especially to those of us trying to keep up with him) was that there was almost no draft available behind him. He would ride away from everyone on the flats, and if we worked together in a paceline to catch him, he would just roll alongside us, or hang off the back or front, it didn't matter. He would get dropped on hills, then work to catch up again. He would go downhill at 60mph on hills that a rider on a normal bike would hit 40mph in a tuck.

A streamlined recumbent with electric assist for hills would be great, especially with regenerative braking, as long as crosswinds or heat were not an issue. The trike aspect is harder to deal with.

Even back in the old days of Rail before "Hi-Speed" Rail when trains only went slightly over 100 MPH the Railway Post Offices could sort mail en route and deliver overnight mail service

Actually, it was a source of extreme annoyance to my dear departed mother that during the days of steam trains and horse-drawn wagons, she could send a letter to a business in another city and get a reply back the same day, whereas in the new modern era of air mail, it somehow deteriorated to a week.

The way the old system worked was that she would go to the post office in the morning and drop a letter off. The postmaster would put it in the morning mail bag and hand it to Old Amos, who would carry it to the station in his horse-drawn wagon and load it on the mail car on the morning train.

The guys in the mail car would sort the mail on the train, and it would be completely sorted by the time it got to the other city. The mailmen would take it and deliver it that morning. The recipient would read it, pen a reply and drop it off at the post office around noon.

The post office would put the reply on the mail car on the afternoon train going back up the track. The guys on the mail car would sort the mail, and it would be dropped off at the station. Old Amos would pick it up with his horse and wagon and take it to the post office, the postmaster would put the reply my mother's post office box, and she would pick up her reply in the afternoon of the same day she sent the original letter.

The way the new, more modern system worked was that the post office would take the letter, age it overnight, and then put it on the mail truck heading to the central sorting center. The central sorting center, however, was 200 miles in the wrong direction, so after aging it overnight again, they would airmail it to the destination city. After aging the letter overnight, the post office in the other city would deliver it to the recipient. The recipient would pen a reply and drop it at the post office. The post office, after aging the reply a day, would airmail it to the central sorting center, which would sort it and after aging it another day, would put it on the mail truck. However, the mail truck was much slower than the old mail trains, which after all could run down the tracks at 100 mph, so it would arrive too late to sort it that day. So the reply would arrive 6 days after the original message went out. And then, somewhere in the process a Sunday would intervene, so she would get the reply a full week after she sent out the original letter.

Note that the oil consumption for the original system consisted of what was necessary to lubricate the train conductor's watch, since none of the transportation systems required oil.

I am up to 3 months+ for mail from the UK due to the USA having hissy fits about what nasty people might send in the mail!


Yes, the Paranoid States of America somehow misses the fact that other developed countries have their own security systems, too. In any conspiracy involving more than two people, one of them is likely to be a government spy.

However, they feel compelled to search everything and everybody, because you never know. At least they never know. Some of us could offer some opinions on what they know, but then they might feel insulted and do a body-cavity search on us the next time we went through security.

They detained Ezra Levant at the airport and searched him because, you never know, he might be an Arab terrorist. Ezra Levant is a well-known right-wing Jewish journalist - what are the chances of him secretly being an Arab terrorist? Here's his opinion of US airport security - The American Department of Groping

what are the chances of him secretly being an Arab terrorist?

how much money are they offering him ?

how much money are they offering him ?

It's not so much the money, it's the seventy-two virgins that are the big attraction.

A suicide bomber arrives in heaven, Muhammad greets him, and says, "Welcome to Heaven, here are your 72 raisins!"

The suicide bomber says, "Raisins? I thought I was going to get 72 virgins!"

Muhammad says, "Obviously you misunderstood. Not once in the Quran did I say anything about anybody being entitled to any free virgins." Then he hands him a copy of the Quran and walks away.

It's an old Islamic joke and one that will severely offend many suicide bombers. The rule is that they get a maximum of four wives, and no guarantee that they will be virgins. And then there's the whole spousal support issue that they may not have thought about.

Only Sir Richard Branson got 72 Virgins, and he's not a Muslim - more modern British joke.

Rocky - OTOH what would be a better cover story? As someone once asked me: who's the best con man in the world? I didn't know...of course not - that's why he's the best.

Some days it's just plain fun to pretend to be a conspiracy nut.

be a conspiracy nut.

Spill the beans - what are the nuts tryibg to do?

Are the Brazilians in league with the Hazels to tell the truth that Peanuts are just a legume?

Bah, that's just nuts.


In the spirit of the "discussion" upthread about the effect of windchill on inanimate objects, I feel I should point out that steam locomotives required frequent and copious lubrication with oil due to the corrosive effect of the steam/water on the mechanics of the locomotive. In fact one of the job descriptions on a locomotive crew was "oiler." Just saying ;)

P.S I posted this comment wearing my "big boy pants."

Driving 10,000 miles on electricity will use about 2,500 kilowatt hours, or 20 percent more than the average annual consumption of U.S. homes.

Actually, according to The EIA:

In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.

So those electric driven miles would use 440% less than the average US home. Or less than 1/4 the electricity of the average US home.

Now, that said, the average US home is an electricity glutton. We use about 1,000kWh/yr (and dropping), and are very comfortable doing so.

I routinely see UPS trucks in the Denver area that are labeled "fueled by natural gas". Powered by NG from here in Colorado, or at least no farther away than Wyoming. It's still run through an ICE, so is probably less efficient in terms of total energy than a combined-cycle NG-fired power plant and an electric truck would be. OTOH, almost certainly less up-front capital involved.

Okay. Hasn't anyone else noticed that the oil figure is for the amount burned for production, but excludes the amount used in extraction and delivery of other fuels, especially coal?

Not that they couldn't convert the RRs to electric and keep it coming... but no one seems to be interested in doing that. And, it is still a recipe for disaster in the mid term (long term disaster seems locked in, IMO).

No one who could remotely be considered among the PTB is talking about the 6.8Billion strong gorilla in the middle of the room that is projected to rise to 9 Billion by 2050.

Is moronity really the order of the day?


I agree if fedex does electric we are not all saved or healed or something. These things only extend us out a little longer.

The skeptics of electric vehicle use though need to eat humble pie about the efficiency gains observed by FedEx when switching to electric. The only thing the anti-electric folks could say is the CEO lied.

That is my point.

I was not trying to intentionally be a moron ;-)

Finally, FEDEX does not have to deliver overnight to stay in business. FEDEX just needs to offer the best service compared to other delivery services. The masses will go to the best rate based on need / time constraints and money.

Didn't mean you! Sorry.

I was referring to TPTB who do not pay attention, and 'kick the can down the road.' It is population overshoot (and consumption overshoot!) that needs to be addressed. The consumption angle will be covered when PO gets a full head of steam. That is when transportation costs will eat up any profits corporatists make on labor arbitrage overseas (and currency arbitrage fueled disparities in commodity costs). Again, curbing consumption overshoot will be easy, and take us through short to mid term. Long term, population excesses will be more difficult, and problematic. Especially if the overshooters decide to fight the undershooters for the leftovers.


The "efficiency gains" are great in the world of today. Where was FedEx when juice was 20c a gallon. When it was hardly even considered a cost.
Now it's about promoting and preserving BAU as long as possible, so we can burn every last scrap of carbon on the slide to hell.

That's what windmills, electric cars and most renewables are about. They are solely about preserving BAU as long as possible. They disregard the consequences of global warming and the cliff we are driving pell mell toward.

I want to know how much coal, oil, gas or tar sands FedEx or renewables have left in the ground. It's the exact opposite. They are extending the burn and the search. They are about self preservation and the screwing of the planet in the process.

While electricity generation may be almost completely, oil free, that doesn't necessarily mean it is low in carbon emissions

It might currently not be low in carbon emissions, but electricity is more or less the only energy source we know how to create in a sustainable / renewable fashion. Electricity can be created via solar, wind, hydro, geothermal or if you have to nuclear.

Biofules aren't the solution, as they compete with food production and have a vastly lower efficiency per unit area than solar or wind. To produce hydrogen you mostly need electricity anyway.

Apart from cost and intermittency, solar, wind and hydro have little disadvantages in terms of sustainability or risk.

So it makes sense to transition as much off of oil towards electricity, while at the same time move electricity production off of fossile fuels as much as possible.

The focus should be on moving towards car free cities wherein the primary modes to personal transportation are walking, bicycling, triking, busing, and light rail. Renewable energy is barely making a dent in total electricity and energy use. What little new renewable energy that is being produced should be focused on incresing that percentage. At the same time, the total amount of energy use needs to be decreased. EVs will only make it more difficult to end up with a system that has a high percentage of renewable energy use and a lower total energy use.

EVs will create complacency where we keep all the same infrastructure and make very few changes in our cities and travel habits.

EVs are not currently affordable for the vast majority of people even with large subsidies. Perhaps there will be a major breakthrough in batteries, which is the major reason why they are so expensive.

Having said that, I understand the appeal of EVs, especially for those who enjoy being on the cutting edge.

Further, as you say, cost and intermittency of renewables is still an issue. I should say that it is pretty much the issue.

Re: Jeff Rubin: Which price is really the world benchmark for oil?

This is actually a pretty good summary of why the price of West Texas Intermediate (the US benchmark crude) is diverging so drastically from the other world benchmarks (Brent, Dubai, etc.)

It's actually Canadian oil flooding into the US market and depressing prices. Unbeknowst to most Americans, Canada is by far the largest supplier of oil into the US market, more than twice as much as Texas, and the volumes are beginning to be big enough to make a big difference in US prices.

Not that it makes a lot of difference at the gas pumps, but refiners who have refineries connected to the Canadian pipelines are laughing all the way to the bank. OTOH they're selling or cutting back production at refineries that are exposed to the international prices. I'm thinking of BP and its big Texas City and Carson California refineries here, and the huge Hovensa (formerly Hess) refinery in the Virgin Islands.

We're only about a decade away from the time when Canada will be producing more oil than the US - it has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. However, it's more that US production will decline than Canadian production will increase so much.

Looks like the easiest way for the US to become independent of foreign oil is to "annex" Canada. Do you think the Canadians would mind joining up with our great nation to the South? The US better hurry, though, since China might just decide to buy Canada first...

E. Swanson

Well, I think that any attempt to "annex" Canada will probably work as well as the previous two attempts (i.e. not well at all).

Trying to annex Canada during the American Revolution didn't work out well after the troops ran out of money and started stealing things, whereupon the French Canadians started shooting at them.

The War of 1812 was even worse, especially the part where a group of English soldiers, Canadian militia, and screaming Indians captured Detroit, and a bunch of French fur traders captured Chicago. And then they went on to burn Buffalo, fire rockets at Baltimore, burn Washington, and chase the President around in the woods. Not much of this gets mentioned in American high school history classes for some reason.

I was touring the War of 1812 historic sites, and it occurred to me, "We could do this all again." Capture Detroit and Chicago, no problem, who would see that coming? We couldn't hold them, but we didn't the first time. Fire rockets at Baltimore? Just bring in a few guided missile frigates, whack in a few rockets, and run before the US Navy got there. To burn Washington again we might have to resort to nuclear weapons, but, you know, we could do that. We know how to build nuclear weapons because Canadian scientists helped build the bombs you dropped on Japan. We could deliver them with those stealthy new F-35's you're selling us.

Not that I'm expecting anything like that to happen. It's all hypothetical, and the US military has run the simulations so they know what it would be like.

One might as well postulate another scenario. If the people in the US can't solve their wide political and social differences, there might be another round of secessionist activity. This time, the South might end up as the winner, leaving the tired old Rust Belt cities freezing in the dark. The South might not accept the pile of debt festering in Washington at the FED and thus the North would forced to declare bankruptcy. Canada, with it's energy resources, might simply buy the North for pennies on the dollar. The South would keep on driving their gas guzzler cars and worshiping NASCAR, burning that Gulf of Mexico oil as if there were no tomorrow, until tomorrow arrives. Other re-arrangements might be possible as well...

E. Swanson

"Canada is by far the largest supplier of oil into the US market, more than twice as much as Texas, and the volumes are beginning to be big enough to make a big difference in US prices."

Question from a layman: if WTI stays flat and Brent goes up, do US gas prices rise? How much sensitivity do we have to WTI vs. Brent, is it 50/50, 75/25 or what?

here is a good article that shows some interesting graphs:


if WTI stays flat and Brent goes up, do US gas prices rise?

Most likely. About 80% of Americans live within 50 miles of one of the country's coast lines, so they are fully exposed to international fuel prices.

The difference in price just contributes to the refineries' profit margins.

However, the way things are going now, I would say that it's not so much that refineries that have access to cheap Canadian oil will make a lot of money, but that the ones that don't have a large supply of cheap oil will go out of business. That is what is going to happen on the downslope of the production curve.

At the moment, Brent is trading at over $100 in Europe, West Texas Intermediate at over $90 in Oklahoma, and Western Canadian Select at under $70 in Alberta. If you owned a refinery, which one would you wish you were able to buy?

I hope its the gravity or sulpher content or something relating to the quality of the WCS that explains the price difference. I'd hate to think that the lower price can only be accounted for by the business acumen of Albertans.

WCS is a heavy, high-sulfur blend, but for the price differential, refineries can afford to do a lot of processing on the oil. The real problem is that the oil is landlocked and there is no way to move it to the international market. In fact it is backing up in Alberta because there insufficient pipeline capacity to get it out.

It has nothing to do with business acumen, and everything to do with the lack of strategic export pipeline capacity.

Depends in part on where my refinery is. What does it cost to move a barrel of crude from Alberta to France (for example) at this time of year? The Saint Lawrence Seaway is closed for the season, which probably has an effect.

Well, given that there are no pipelines that could move oil from Alberta to Canada's East Coast, it would probably cost a fortune to move a barrel of crude from Alberta to France. They would have to go around the world the long way, and even at that, the pipelines to the West Coast are over-committed with oil going to Pacific Rim destinations.

OTOH, the big French oil company TOTAL just got approval for an oil sands mine, so they may have something in mind. This will be Alberta's ninth oil sands mine.

Here is the consequence of limited pipeline capacity - all that cheap oil boosts the bottom line of the refiners who have access to it. Refining operations boosts Suncor profits

Canada’s largest oil sands outfit, nearly tripled its profit in the fourth quarter, bolstered by a surprisingly strong return for its refining business.

Though North American refineries have in recent years struggled to turn a profit, Suncor’s refining division almost doubled its earnings in the quarter. It owes part of its recent success to the stockpiles of bitumen that have accumulated in Fort McMurray as Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline capacity has been disrupted following leaks last year.

The excess bitumen has allowed companies such as Suncor and Imperial Oil to buy feedstock for their refineries at a cheaper price, allowing squeezed refinery margins to expand.

About 80% of Americans live within 50 miles of one of the country's coast lines

This doesn't pass the sniff test. At 310 million, this means fewer than 62 million live further than those 50 miles.

IL 12,830,632
OH 11,536,504
MI 9,883,640
IN 6,483,802
AZ 6,392,017
TN 6,346,105
MO 5,988,927
WI 5,686,986

That's 65 million right there, and there are a fair few more states that are not on a coast, to say nothing of the populations of coastal states that live more than 50 miles inland (our own Westexas comes to mind!).

Shooting from the hip with stats like that just undermines ones credibility, and to an extent, that of the site.

clifman - Might be an honest mistake. I believe that 80% stat represents Aussieland.

I suspect 80% under-sells Australians' penchant for living near the coast ... after all, there is only one city of greater than 120,000 (Canberra - and that is an artificial capital) that is more than 80kms (50 miles) from the sea - but it might have something to do with the fact that 80% of Australia is about as productive as the country on the drive from Flagstaff to Gallup - except somewhat hotter!

According to the NOAA, 55 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of the coast.

I'm just quoting other people and didn't actually check their data. I believe you may have forgotten about the coastlines of the Great Lakes. I didn't actually say sea coast. The Great Lakes are, after all, an international boundary.
IL 12,830,632
OH 11,536,504
MI 9,883,640
IN 6,483,802
WI 5,686,986

Rocky - Ahh...but this is where the conversation gets interesting: is that a coastline or a shoreline?


Ask The Martian. I'm sure she/he has an opinion.

The Great Lakes have a.......wait for it.....


Salt Water and Fresh, there is a difference. Ya Know? I grew up not far from the SHORE LINE of Lake Michigan, never, ever heard it called a Coastline.

The Martian.

The Great Lakes are referred to as "The 3rd Coast" by some.

And the '80% are within 50 miles' is an often repeated metric. May be part of a 80/20 type "rule". But water does provide food and inexpensive transport. (or at least used to provide food)

I always heard that the Third Coast was the Gulf Coast - south, not north.

non-important comment, minor correction:

the Great Lakes are actually called the 4th coast. Bell's brewery out of Kalamazoo, MI, makes a nice ale called Fourth Coast dedicated to Lake Michigan.

perhaps 3rd coast is Gulf of Mexico?

Incessant debate about the semantics of "coast line" versus "shore line" aside, the key point was that the large majority of Americans live close to a body of water on which somebody could deliver a tanker load of fuel to somewhere near them.

As a result, you can expect that the increase in the global price of oil will have a strong effect on most Americans local price of fuel.

OTOH, West Texas Intermediate and Western Canadian Select are land-locked grades of crude oil, so their price has become disconnected from the price of water-borne crude oils such as Brent. The inland refineries that have access to this oil are in the unusual position of having cheaper feedstock than the coastal refineries.

My point was this won't have much effect on most Americans' fuel prices, but it probably will have a major effect on the profits of oil refineries who have access to the cheap crude oil. The ones that don't, though, might be forced out of business.


Thanks for the laughs! Postulate away!

Many of us in the North question whether we were the winners in that little skirmish ;>) Also, I'm not sure which I'd prefer, freezing in the dark or being slowly, roasted alive. It sounds like most of the freezing in the dark is taking place in Dallas today.

Excluding Texas/Louisiana and offshore from those two, the South is in little better shape WRT energy than the Rust Belt. I'm not sure that Texas regards Alabama (just for an example) any more favorably than the Rust Belt when it comes to sharing energy resources. At least when I lived in Texas in the 1970s, and the governor threatened to send the national guard out to blow up the NG pipelines, he didn't make any distinction beyond Texas vs the rest of the country.

A much more natural split would seem to be East and West, with the depopulated Great Plains in between. The best of the renewable resources -- onshore wind, solar, geothermal, unexploited hydro -- are predominantly in the West. The West also has, relatively to its population, a much larger allocation of fossil fuels that could be used during a transition.

The West also has, relatively to its population, a much larger allocation of fossil fuels that could be used during a transition.

So, where exactly is Illinois? Last I heard, they have the largest coal reserves in the US.

I like the idea of Canada buying the North... we are likely to be moving back fairly soon, and those Canadian medical plans sound great.

Umm... maybe Canada will decide to take a pass after all!


At least when I stay West, I mean the Rocky Mountain states and farther west, with Alaska and Hawaii lumped in there but both are anomalies. There are a number of reasons for making that particular split; one of the obvious ones is the separation created by the steadily depopulating 500-mile-wide Great Plains.

Based on the most recent "recoverable reserve" figures for coal, Illinois is third, with Wyoming narrowly ahead of them, but with Montana having almost double. In really round numbers, the East has about 125 billion tons of recoverable reserve, the West about 136 billion. The big difference is when you spread that across the populations: 72 million in the West and 236 million in the East. The East would still be the third or fourth most populous country in the world (slugging it out with Indonesia), the West would be down around 19th, with fewer people than Germany.

Of the 72 million in the West, 37 million, just over a majority, are Californians. Enjoy.

Some of us resemble that remark.

I am from everywhere and nowhere -- having moved around so much.

Nothing says existing state boundaries have to be honored. If I were trying to put together a "practical" Western States of America, I'd want to split California in at least two. TTBOMK, northern and southern California are not particularly fond of each other any way. I'd probably also want to combine at least Wyoming and Montana, on the principle that each "state" ought to have a population of at least a million.

The people who do megaregion studies, linking together groups of cities that seem to be evolving toward some set of common interests, typically list five in the West: the Pacific NW from north of Seattle to Eugene, Northern California, Southern California (with a stub off to Las Vegas), the Arizona corridor from NW of Phoenix to the Mexican border south of Tucson, and the Front Range from Albuquerque to Cheyenne. A sixth, much smaller region, is centered on Salt Lake City. If you're a believer in climate change, there's probably a question about the ongoing habitability of southern Arizona. Seven "states" seems about right, rather than the current 11.

In Joel Garreau's 1981 book "The Nine Nations of North America", California was split into 3 regions. The Coast Ranges from San Francisco south down to about Santa Barbara, and most of northern California north of San Francisco and north of the Central Valley were part of Ecotopia. The Central Valley, and L.A. along with the Inland Empire were part of Mexamerica. The high Sierras were part of the Empty Quarter.

As an aside, I liked the book quite a bit when I first read it in the late '80s, and found his observations about the areas to be in line with my experiences in the various areas, such as they've been. Probably worth re-reading now that I've lived in a few more places since that time.

I guess my statistical memory was in error. Recoverable reserves show just that... though 'demonstrable' reserves show Illinois in 2nd, well ahead of Wyoming and just below Montana.


You seem well versed in the field. What is significance of demonstrable reserves, as opposed to recoverable? I would think only RR would be important.


Demonstrable, or demonstrated reserve base, is 100% of the coal that has been identified in beds at depths and thicknesses that make extraction technically feasible. Recoverable reserves removes from that number coal that is off limits for land use reasons, actual recovery rates, and current economics. Demonstrated reserves is important inasmuch as at least two of those -- land use restrictions and economics -- can change.

One major problem Illinois has is the high sulfur content (typically >2.5% by weight) of their coal. When the EPA restricted sulfur dioxide emissions in the 1990s, a lot of coal-fired power plants in the East (including many in Illinois) found it cheaper to ship surface-mined low-sulfur coal from Wyoming than to build the pre- or post-combustion treatments that would allow them to burn high-sulfur coal.

Yair....while we're talking coal. I mentioned the other day that I'm trying to generate a little local awareness about peak oil and the energy situation.

Some helpfull folks on this site calculated the size of the tank needed to the hold worlds daily dose of crude. Would anyone be interested to calculate the size of the stack of coal the world burns every day?

It's nonsense I know but it seems it takes this sort of approach to at least get some comprehension.

Thanks, I understand the problem but not much good at mathematics.

Canada, with it's energy resources, might simply buy the North for pennies on the dollar. The South would keep on driving their gas guzzler cars and worshiping NASCAR, burning that Gulf of Mexico oil as if there were no tomorrow, until tomorrow arrives.

Canada is not really very interested in buying up the Northern US, since it already has excessive amounts of frozen wasteland. However, Canadians are buying up large parts of Arizona for 25 cents on the dollar in an attempt to secure a desert retreat to avoid winter in the Great White North. When it gets too hot, they'll simply turn off the A/C in Arizona, and go back to Canada to spend the summer.

Driving gas guzzling cars, however, is soon going to come to an unpleasant end. Tomorrow is almost here.

Military stances and condensation aside, Canada might turn out to be the winner. Since Canada is the largest petroleum supplier to the USA, they are getting the lion's share of all that money we are sending to the petroleum exporters. Given our appetite for oil, that's a lot of money. Turn over a few metaphorical stones and you may find that they are, unlike China which has placed much of it's gains in treasuries, buying up large chunks of the good ol' US of A. Might be that when it's all over, they won't need to annex the "Southern Territories" because they have already bought them. What is the name of the Canadian Sovereign wealth fund? The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board or the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund?

Yeah, it's interesting isn't it.

Being so close to a collapsing country is going to be problematic, but my feeling is that Canada is well run just enough to avoid much of the fallout. Similar to say how some European countries really didn't suffer all that much in the first half of the twentieth century.

I think we'd prefer to remain independent thanks. Canadians are quite different from Americans, despite the fact we superficially have a lot of things in common. Besides, where would all your liberals run off to when you 'mercans say "love it or leave it"? ;)

No doubt Canada would welcome Chicago's hockey club- ok, there's already a few Northerners on the roster, but you really think the Vancouver Canucks team current standing is sustainable?

Sure... in the regular season ;)

Looks like the easiest way for the US to become independent of foreign oil is to "annex" Canada. Do you think the Canadians would mind joining up with our great nation to the South? The US better hurry, though, since China might just decide to buy Canada first...

Forms of this idea has been floated about for years. One version I remember in particular was that to solve unemployment in the US, the US should purchase Canada, retire all Canadians (didn't say anything about their descendants) and put the American unemployed to work. Seemed like a good idea to me at the time, seems like a better one now.

Some perspective on Canadian Net Oil Exports (BP data for net exports, total petroleum liquids):

1998 to 2009 Data:

Venezuelan Net Oil Exports:
1998: 3.00 mbpd
2009: 1.8
Volumetric Change: -1.2 mbpd (-4.6%/year)

Canadian Net Oil Exports:
1998: 0.76 mbpd
2009: 1.02
Volumetric Change: +0.26 mbpd (+2.5%/year)

And here is Texas crude oil production for 1998 to 2009:

Texas Crude Oil Production (RRC):
1998: 1.25 mbpd
2009: 0.94
Volumetric Change: -0.31 mbpd (-2.6%/year)

At the present time the US is the only export market for oil sands oil. If the proposed pipeline to the west coast is built, it will become possible to sell oil sands oil to other countries. This would almost certainly drive up the price that US refiners have to pay for the oil.

Rocky - A small point but I'm getting the impression that some folks don't understand what "benchmark" means and are trying to extrapolate too much from those numbers. WTI may be selling for $90+/bbl but there is a lot of nasty Texas high S oil selling for $58/bbl today. I know a lot of oil is sold on a fixed adjustment to some benchmark. Maybe you or someone can color that angle up some for me and other folks.

Well, crude oil marketing is not a game for amateurs, and not something that is easily understood. My brother used to trade $100 million a year of crude on NUMEX as part of his job, but I was just peripherally associated with it.

Basically there are a variety of crudes trading on the world market. West Texas Intermediate was a high-quality sweet light crude that was predominant back when Texas produced much of the world's oil. Sweet means it was low in sulfur (good), and light means it was low density and therefore produced a high yield of gasoline (good).

Since Texas was not the only game in town, there are a variety of other crudes. Brent is a North Sea crude, and Dubai is a Middle Eastern crude. These are proxies for the rest of the crudes that trade in Europe and the Middle East. The other crudes will trade at an offset (discount or premium) to these crudes, depending on quality and location.

Nobody's paying much attention, what with the turmoil in Egypt and all, but the debt crisis continues.

Ireland's Rating Downgraded One Level to A- By S&P and Faces Further Cut

Ireland had its credit rating cut one level by Standard & Poor’s and a further downgrade is possible as the government tries to contain bank-rescue costs.

The rating was lowered to A- from A, S&P said in a statement from London today. That’s four levels above non- investment grade and the same level as countries including Botswana and Portugal. Ireland remains on “creditwatch with negative implications,” S&P said.

Fed passes China in Treasury holdings

The Federal Reserve has surpassed China as the leading holder of US Treasury securities even though it has yet to reach the halfway mark in its latest round of quantitative easing, according to official figures.

Based on weekly data released on Thursday, the New York Fed’s holdings of Treasuries in its System Open Market Account, known as Soma, total $1,108bn, made up of bills, notes, bonds and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or Tips. According to the most recent US Treasury data on foreign holders of US government paper, China holds $896bn and Japan owns $877bn.

wow....so this "soma" allows us to party on, oblivious to tomorrow. How many high-fives went around after that acronym took hold?

Who needs China when we have the Fed?

Now really are the FED and China very different at the end of the day?

Is the FED not making/financing China through various means from thin air? LOL

Who needs China when we have the Fed?

Who needs taxes when we have QE's?

Maybe QE's are the panacea that enables the left and right to converge into harmony, by using them to pay for everything instead of bringing in revenue from taxes.

High speed rail connecting all major US cities? Sure, just figure out the cost and QE it.

We need to figure out how to print barrels of oil, too.

Actually they really do that. They are called paper barrels. One piece of paper equals 1,000 barrels of oil. And on busy days over a million of these 1,000 barrel pieces of paper are traded in a single day on the NYMEX alone. One person sells a 1,000 barrel piece of paper and another person buys that same 1,000 barrel piece of paper. Then in a few minutes or hours or a few days later they trade back again and that 1,000 barrels of oil disappears into the same thin air it was created from.

Ron P.

One person sells a 1,000 barrel piece of paper and another person buys that same 1,000 barrel piece of paper.

And they pay for it all with e-money which can virtually be poofed in and out of existence almost at the speed of light.

We're all taking the blue pills.


Rearrange the words in the acronym SOMA and get Mao System. Maybe China and the Fed are the same thing.

Ha, nice!

Interesting, isn't it, when your whole country is owned by a bank and foreign powers?

See, there's the thing. If we have economic "growth" all it means is riches for Wall Street and China.

Buy gold and silver now, this sucker's going down.

The whole country is not owned by a bank and foreign powers. In fact almost none of the country is owned by a bank and foreign powers.

Economic growth, commonly understood as an increase in the value of goods and services traded (note: not at all necessarily an increase in the quantity of natural resources consumed, degraded, or transformed into higher value materials), generally increases labour employment. That 'Wall Street' captures a disproportionate share of increased 'riches' is a separate issue, mostly related to the polity's willingness to redistribute the wealth that systemically concentrates into few hands, mostly belonging to those who smartly selected rich parents.

Buy gold and silver now, this sucker's going down.

Now why are you trying to drive up the value of shiny rocks? Got a few under the mattress?

More than just a few, thank you very much.

If you want to accumulate worthless digits and call yourself rich, be my guest. Just don't think you are any superior to the Americans you denigrate.

You are all one and the same. Fiat money peddlers.

Or of course you can buy an overpriced crack shack or condo and think you are doing well that way. Canadians seem to be doing alot of that.

Mind you, I think Canada will do well in the long term, but your financial situation is just as screwed up as ours.

"..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon..."

Soma in Aldous Huxley's
Brave New World

How far do you want to go?

The Federal Reserve has surpassed China as the leading holder of US Treasury securities

Just in case somebody doesn't understand the basic concept, having the Federal Reserve buy US Treasury notes is the same thing as printing money, but avoids all that messy handling of paper and ink. They just make an electronic accounting entry and, Shazam! There's another trillion dollars appearing out of nowhere that they electronically transfer to the US government.

If they borrowed it from the Chinese, it would actually come from somewhere - China to be exact, but at least it would be backed up by some Chinese industrial production. As it is, it's backed up by nothing.

Given what you say, which I think is correct, why not just have the FED buy all the debt and cut out the Chinese completely? Of course, they would still have to figure out what to do with all those dollars.

Even further, why can't the FED declare a Jubillee and forgive all the debt that the U.S. Government owes?

Leanan, I feel that as long as the euro bonds are oversubscribed, ESF fund money hasn't run out and NCBs can use ELA for commercial banks' short term liquidity financing, this has very little effect.

Granted, CDS prices might rise a bit, but that's it. Even the market interest is currently of little relevance.

This will of course change in due time, when ESF needs to be re-capitalized and when the Spain issues come to fore again (20bn is not enough for cajas).

It might take as lons as the March Germany elections, depending on how fast the markets discount the inevitable.

Yes, till then it's papering over, but so far it seems to have worked (temporarily of course).

Somebody may ask why?

Well, it's free money. Everybody knows that it's free money with a catch, but as long as the music's playing and things are "recovering" you have to play the game and produce profits. No need to discount too fast.

On a related note, I thought this article was interesting.



More fear-mongering and hyperbolic scenarios from gold-pushers.

Please stop reading those gold sites. They are not good for one's mental health.

Nor are they in the business for truth or your interests, regardless of what they claim.

A pusher is a pusher.

There are plenty of calm, analytical, fact-based and reasoned sites out there for news and analysis. No need to read the FEAR-DOOM-GOLD-IS-MONEY silliness, unless one really is masochistic :)


Not everyone who publishes on GoldSeek is a kook.

If you took the time to read it you would recognize people like Mike Pento (hardly a kook, but a regular on mainstream business news like the Kudlow Report) or John Browne (pretty darn solid analyst if you ask me).

I think it pays to read very broadly, especially when you can take it to the bank that neither the government nor the MSM are shooting straight with the facts.

Not everyone who publishes on GoldSeek is a kook.

Tis far simpler to use a label than to try and figure out what will be able to "store value".

One thing I know for sure is that Larry Kudlow isn't shooting straight with you. The original pimp for the moneyed class.

Congress is focused on health care, and the White House is focused on Egypt.
Who cares about the massive $14 trillion of debt we have?
Soon the dollar and peso will be equal to ONE YEN! OR YUAN!

OH! A one world currency, that is what they want..... :(

Who cares about the massive $14 trillion of debt we have?

It's only money and it's not even that, really.

And think of the bright side, 1 US dollar = 6.5560 Chinese yuan, imagine if our debt were calculated in Yuans.

We'd be looking at almost 92 trillion in debt >;^)

We'd be looking at almost 92 trillion in debt

Would that be barrels of oil: 3000 years of oil.

I don't know who you think "they" are. The only "they" I know about do NOT want a one world currency. That is a myth of the religious right. The real "they" need different currencies in order to arbitrage labor, metals and goods. Otherwise labor would be the measure of currency, as it should be, rather than rocks, paper, bytes, and metals. It is what one adds to a thing that gives it value and makes it yours. If someone else adds the value, and you take it, you are stealing.

Anyway... if you think you will see a one world currency, or a yuan world currency, fogettabouddit.


Exactly. One "world currency" would shut down most of the funny money games now used by the "experts" to feather their nests. 'S'why the UK didn't join the Euro group.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 28, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending January 28, 175 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased slightly last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.0 million barrels per day last week, down by 371 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.1 million barrels per day, 641 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 318 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.6 million barrels from the previous week. At 343.2 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 6.2 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 3.9 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 5.5 million barrels last week.

In regards to propane, how close are we to MOL? Is there even a MOL for propane?

HERE's a graph from the EIA report showing propane use for the past 2 years. Last year, storage levels got rather close to zero for PADD 1 and PADD 4/5...

E. Swanson

The summer build was lower in '10 than in '09 yet we seem to be drawing down at the same rate as last year. Kinda weird that we started the season with lower inventories, have much colder and wetter conditions, and higher demand than last year yet we are following the same track. Maybe the refineries are producing more propane during these winter months to keep inventories from drawing down too quickly?

RMG--interesting your thesis on Canada being able to produce more oil than the U.S. in the near future. What energy source will they use to accomplish this feat--according to Canadian DOE production figures for NG Canada is in a steady and I would say alarming decline. Nothing I have read convinces me that shale gas is anything more than a last ditch attempt to avoid the unavoidable. The uranium industry cannot produce enough now to supply the existing nuclear facilities so a nuclear power plant supplying electricity just for the Tar Sands seems unlikely-- I would even wager to say that if it could have done--it would have been done by now for something as critical as oil--even such a low grade oil. Increased production also means increased water usage--at 3bw/1bo I wonder if/ how we will contain all this toxic waste ?

What energy source will they use to accomplish this feat--according to Canadian DOE production figures for NG Canada is in a steady and I would say alarming decline.

They are going to use oil sands - Canada has the second largest oil reserves on Earth after Saudi Arabia, and they are almost all in the oil sands.

Canada has shale gas, too - probably more than the US - but I think rather than being exported to the US, it will be used as fuel for oil sands plants. The US has enough shale gas for its own domestic purposes so there's no point in exporting Canadian shale gas to the US.

The uranium industry cannot produce enough now to supply the existing nuclear facilities so a nuclear power plant supplying electricity just for the Tar Sands seems unlikely

Canada also has vast uranium resources, but in the current situation, it will probably go to China. China is planning to build nearly 250 nuclear power plants in the not-too-distant future. That's where the uranium demand will be.

Has anybody had time to look into Cella Energy's claims about micro-bead, engine compatible liquid hydrogen :


A short PR style blurb from PhysOrg:



- safe to handle in air (not easily flammable)
- no penetration corrosion (like freeform hydrogen)
- can be used in standard combustion engines (perhaps as a mixture?)
- can be included as a part in Kerosene (airplanes)
- high energy density (roughly equal to compressed liquid hydrogen)
- time to market 3-5 years (now where have I heard that one before...)

Of course it has the "where does the hydrogen come from and at what energy/emission costs" issues, but nevertheless it's an interesting silver bb.

Further, it cuts away some of the loss-inducing phases from the standard hydrogen loop (namely storage/containment of hydrogen, and release of energy via a hydrogen fuel cell).

As such, it might make the hydrogen cycle more competitive with the chemical electric battery cycle.

Further, the combusion engine and liquid fuel infrastructure is there now, unlike the electron mobility infra.

I found no information about the energy intensity of the binding process and possible loss at hydrogen combustion time (if any).

If you believe that, I have a bridge in New York City that you might be interested in investing in. It's held up by hydrogen-filled party balloons. Just don't smoke anywhere near it.

Link up top: How Humans Are Changing the World

The authors contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.

And this will be followed by "stunning population decline, megacities in chaos and decreasing use of fossil fuels". This epoch, when it ends, will have lasted about 200 years, ending in the first half of the 21st century.

One megacity, Cairo, is already in chaos and this will spread. Though Cairo will likely recover, temporarily anyway, it is unlikely that Somalia will ever recover. They have had no effective government since 1991. Somalia today is likely the whole of North Africa in a few years, then the rest of Africa, then...

I have tried, and failed, to think of an appropriate name for the next epoch. Perhaps someone can make a suggestion?

Ron P.

Perhaps teloscence might do? Roughly "end of the new" or "end of the recent".

If the next epoch is as bad as the doomers suggest, there won't be anyone concerned with what name is used it. After a few generations, oral history tellers may be the only "historical" record...

E. Swanson

if you want a name for the new era, make it simple, none of those compound Latinate words.

Why don't we just call it chaotic

Carbonic Epoch?

A couple more possibilities for the name of the next epoch of the Cenozoic, once we decide we've come to the end of the Holocene:





Itsabadcene - Classic

If this is now the Anthropocene because the dominant species is man, then what follows should be named after the dominant surviving species. I suggest it be called the Americanacene after the Periplaneta Americana, American cockroach, the new rulers of the remaining biosphere. All hail the Periplaneta Americana, finally come into its own after 350 million years of being stepped on...now free to scurry wherever they wish!

All they need is sugar... in water.


TEOTWAWKIscene. Obscene.

Can I send you a facsimile of the lines in my hand so that you can tell me how the rest of my life is going to play out?

The rest of your life:

First you'll be in the hospital recovering from hand reconstruction surgery having sent your hand through a fax machine

Then you'll be mocked all across the Internet as the person who tried to fax a copy of their hand.

Best way to avoid this - research the historic works of cat-scan.com http://web.archive.org/web/19990117060644/http://www.cat-scan.com/ http://www.metafilter.com/19/CatScancom for a discussion about the idea.

Darwinian, how about: The Great Recovery

i dont read the oil conundrum much any more. same old same old. a mass of conflicting impulses.
most unsettling. luddites against the technocrats. well! the technocrats are at it again.
NASA wants to send a $2.5 billion car to mars! luddites unite! stop this waste. write letters
pontificating how it is foolishness. to whom? all and sundry. spread the anti word.

we should all be burning wood and beeswax candles. oops, my bad, bees all dead. ear wax candles it is. we should all be killing each other until we reach a sustainable population.

where is that dobby moodge jhk when you need a curmudgeon? happy motoring indeed. why doesnt he invoke the curse of corn pone nazis? they are the ones behind this fiasco. it's NASCAR on mars. we must stop it. isnt it funny how NASA and NASCAR are such similar acronyms?

of course, if oil is discovered on mars then, "it's all good". let's go get it. humans are best at planet destroying. we destroyed our planet and i think we should try for two before we go extinct.


"Cost of next-generation Mars rover soars to $2.5B
AP Science Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- NASA's next-generation rover to the surface of Mars will be quite the behemoth - with a price tag to match.Nine months before its scheduled launch, the space agency said the flagship mission has burned through its reserves and needs an extra $82 million to complete testing before liftoff.It's the latest cost overrun to plague the Mars Science Laboratory, a nuclear-powered rover the size of a small SUV that will study whether the planet was or is still habitable.

It is VERY GOOD to see you back, baba baby.

Your posts are ALWAYS good for a smile. ;)

I can't get as incensed about one NASA expedition when we've been in Baghdad longer than we were Targeting Berlin.

There are bigger expenses that deserve a lot more of our ire.

(I'm still glad to see that the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have worked for over 6 Years and had only been expected to hold out for a couple months. Solar EV's with No Service Station Visits..)

Some of us doomers are not Luddites at all. For instance, my take is that we should have used our resources to get off the planet. Trip to Mars? No problem. Let's terraform that bad boy. Venus? Not a chance! And, forget about Europa! Too cold, and radiation problems out there. Best bet? Build a damned big ship, man (and woman) it for a L O N G voyage to the stars. Need to send along lots of supplies, including stuff for many m a n y m a n y repairs! And, make it multiple redundant in people as well. Lots of knowledge and information storage and education stuff. Now that would be a good investment!!

I was raised on Heinlein - The Man Who Sold the Moon was a classic! We needed a golden age of space exploration to match the golden age of SciFi. Of course it is likely too late for that, and so the comment was made in future conditional, "should have." It would have been nice! Unfortunately, there was a buck to be made and all, so we blew it, burned it, smoked it, snorted it, and injected it. Then we bombed it, polluted it, trashed it and generally used it up, screwed it up and ruined it. All for the almighty dollar!!! Whadda waste.

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


I raised myself on Heinlein too... I'll bet a lot of the regulars here did.

So... what do you think he'd recommend, at this juncture?

I think Robert would be sad. He was a first-class mind, and believed that the capitalist system would find a way. He obviously did not anticipate the final degradation of corporate capitalism into the greedy, money chasing idiocy we see now.

Isaac Asimov was disappointed in RH's turn from liberal to far right; yet, Lazarus Long was hardly an Ayn Rand type figure. While Heinlein was a bit too militaristic for my taste, he understood the limitations of governmental intervention. No doubt he would be true to himself, and disappoint me with encouragement that we use military means to secure our future while we find a way into the universe. He might even be right, in a genetic success sort of way.


Of course, the fact that humans have innate genetic pre-coding, the likely result of moving humans to another planet would more of the same. The fact that we are trashing this planet to satisfy our own pitiful egos makes one think that humans don't deserve a second chance. Wasn't the conquest of the "New World" a Grand Experiment by well intentioned Europeans who wanted to start over? Will it be possible to shed our more basic instincts, derived from reptiles, rats and monkeys, going forward? If we can't figure out how to make civilization work sustainably on this planet without killing everything, including ourselves, in the process, what's the point???

E. Swanson

We've already ruined one planet. Let's keep it that way.

Eh, what could we do to Mars? Turn it into a barren wasteland?

Open a Wal-mart.

Trip to Mars? No problem. Let's terraform that bad boy...
Best bet? Build a damned big ship, man (and woman) it for a L O N G voyage to the stars.

I really get a laugh out of posts like this. Mars? We would have to take everything we would need with us on the ship, water, food and most important of all air! And when we ran out of all that we would need to make another trip to earth to restock. Wow, that would be an adventure... but what problems would that solve? None obviously, a total waste of time, energy and money.

And a trip to the stars? Well a one way to the nearest star that has the possibility of an earth like planet. At half the speed of light a one way trip there would take about thirty years or so, then another trip back if it turned out that there were no earth like planet there. But we cannot travel at half the speed of light, not even close. A tiny fraction of light speed is the best we can hope for. Therefore a one way trip would take many hundreds of years.

Anyway, even if we could travel at half the speed of light, hitting a particle the size of a grain of sand would blow the ship apart. How fast would you be going at half the speed of light? It would be going 334,800,000,000 miles an hour. That is over 9 million times the speed of the fastest space ship or space probe ever launched from earth, (38,800 mph).

The chances of finding an earth like planet within a hundred light years of the sun is vanishingly small. It is all explained in this book: Rare Earth

Science fiction is really great and lots of fun but don't ever confuse it with reality.

Ron P.

The chances of finding an earth like planet within a hundred light years of the sun is vanishingly small. It is all explained in this book: Rare Earth

Although presumably Rare Earth (latest edition 2003) will have to fine-tune any predictions in light of new discoveries such as:

In just its first few months of operation, as a paper posted to the Arxiv server reports, Kepler has spotted 68 Earth-sized candidates, 288 so-called "super-Earths" that are up to twice Earth's size, 662 that are Neptune-sized, and 184 that are even larger...

..."The fact that we've found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy," said William Borucki, who heads Kepler's science programme at Nasa's Ames Research Center.

"We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water."


Iagreewithnick are you familiar with the inverse square law? That is you double the distance and you multiply by four the area covered.

From your link:

On Wednesday, members of the team announced it had confirmed the Kepler-11 solar system, comprising six large exoplanets tightly circling an eight billion-year-old star that lies about 2,000 light-years away.

Let me repeat my original statement: "The chances of finding an earth like planet within a hundred light years of the sun is vanishingly small."

Do the math, if you could expect 1 earth like planet out to 100 light years then you could expect about 1 trillion out to 2,000 light years. So what have they found:

"We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water."

54 candidates, (out to 2,000 light years). Obviously they could never detect an earth size planet out that far but some: "could have moons with liquid water."

Really, you should read "Rare Earth" because it explains a lot of what you obviously do not understand. And remember I said 100 light years though about 10 light years is about all we could hope to reach in in a trip lasting 1,000 years or less. The link you posted is talking about 2,000 light years distance. Deep space is the very hardest thing for even science fiction fans to understand.

Ron P.

I do understand your position. Mine is this:

Eventually the Earth will not be habitable. At which point, if we are still here, we are dead.

The very large ship is built with the goal of many thousands of years of travel; it is VERY large. It does not move at a dangerous speed.

I recognize that 386,000 mps is maximum velocity for light, or for anything else, and that near light velocity is dangerous.

Current technology would allow terraforming of Mars in a process that would take many hundreds of years. It would be possible to create an atmosphere including co2 sufficiently high to moderate temperatures. Atmosphere including 02 would exist in deep canyons and valleys. Current research shows sufficient quantities of water to allow for all of this. It would take many generations.

As for whether we would find planets that are habitable, I have no idea. Considering that smaller suns are equally likely to have planets, and more likely according to some astronomers to have earth-type planets (rocky, and sized correctly). They have the extra benefit of lasting much longer as well. In fact, if there is any intelligent life out there, it will probably be found near a small sun (their 'goldilocks zone' is much closer to their sun, which is somewhat cooler than Sol). Since these smaller suns are not as easy to see, there are many more of them than you seem to realize. And, a light year is a long way, so that a sphere having a diameter of 10 to 100 light years holds quite a few stars, many of which are not even visible to our newest telescopes on Planet Earth. I cannot begin to compute the odds on any given manned mission being successful, Ron. Actually, it would be a much better 'bet', but less satisfactory from an personal psyhcological standpoint, to do an unmanned mission with genetic reproduction machinery to 'grow' earth type life on exo-earths.

In a more far-fetched context, Vinge and Kurtzweil seem to think it is not only possible but inevitable that we leave planet Earth and colonize, not only the Milky Way Galaxy, but the rest of the Universe (at least until it reaches cold stability. The Singularity is an interesting read (J.M. Greer told me he thought it was a type of myth). I disagree with the premise only because I don't believe that we have the necessary raw materials to do it now. We have already burned our way through what we would need. Not that it is impossible, mind. Just highly low probability, like the LARGE ship, or terraforming Mars.

The ship concept (let's face it, it would take many ships, and huge resources) is also within present technologies. What is lacking is time, money and determination. Fuel, of course, would be the easiest part. Again, it would have been nice to have done this. We did not; it is not likely that we have the necessary determination of will to do it, and now we may not have sufficient metals and primary energy sources to get either done. So... we are stuck here, on our little blue marble, and we are determined to kill all the life on it so that a few of us can get rich . . . for a while.

So, I guess, enjoy what is left of the Industrial Age. It's the best we can do.


I'm merely trying to point out that more evidence has arisen since the publication of the book. Going from 0 to 54 possible habitable planets in the space of a few months is quite a big deal .

They're not saying they've exhaustively searched everywhere in-between here and the Kepler-11 system, just those places they've happened to analyse have produced those results. With further advances in technology who knows how many more they might find, perhaps closer to home too?

The onus is on Rare Earth to prove that there are nearly zero inhabitable planets out there - i.e. prove that each star doesn't host a habitable planet, especially with results like the above turning up.

The Kepler project isn't claiming to know everything about what's out there - they're approaching it with a 'well, let's have a look and see what we see' attitude whereas Rare Earth has already dismissed the possibility without any direct evidence.

Additionally this is misleading:

Do the math, if you could expect 1 earth like planet out to 100 light years then you could expect about 1 trillion out to 2,000 light years.

They haven't comprehensively analysed the patch of sky that they've been looking at. Finding a large planet, let alone a rocky exo, is difficult enough and requires a bit of luck as well as patience.

The results so far show 54 out of the 1200 odd planets as possibly inhabitable - that's 4% which is a pretty darn big percentage when you consider the numbers of stars out there and the possible number of planets. But in any case I prefer to wait to see what direct observation will tell us rather than speculate too much.

I'd say it's encouraging rather than discouraging.

Forget the numbers involved, put it into scale that just about fits into the human mind.

If the Earth is the size of a peppercorn, then the Moon is about 4 inches away. The nearest star is 4.2 light years away, so that equates in our model to us being in London and Proxima Centauri being in New York.

As for terraforming Mars - the lack of a magnetic field will fry you, and the smaller mass means the atmosphere drifts off into space. A few plants and wishful thinking wont hack it.

Before you get to any of these, you have to escape the Earths gravity well. This requires huge amounts of energy.

The key word in science fiction is fiction.

The key word in science fiction is fiction.

Well I'm sure the internet would have seemed like science fiction before the Industrial Revolution.

If (and I know it's a big if) we can secure a large new source of energy (i.e. fusion) then who's to say what may happen? Never say never!

Good luck finding an energy source that's needed to remelt Mars's core to produce a "human safe" magnetic field.

The Internet doesn't require the laws of physics to be side stepped.

The idea of sending information quickly has always been around. Beacon and semaphore towers and have been able to send detailed information for hundreds if not thousands of years. The Internet is just an extension of existing ideas.

Don't confuse the fiction of extrapolated thought processes for the fiction of altered physics. Why bother with moving everyone off the planet when it takes a lot less energy (in theory) to travel back in time and live when there is a lot fewer people on Earth? Oh - that's because you can't.

Sorry, you've confused my comments with someone else's - I'm not talking about terraforming Mars, I'm talking about long distance interstellar travel.

Apologies. The long distance travel and living on Mars memes seem quite tightly coupled.

The trouble is, they're still as likely as each other.

It would take hundreds of generations of the crew just to get to the nearest star (which as far as I know has no observed planets orbiting it). The time for the crew to hang around on this fantastical ship before getting to a suitably habitable planet would be longer than the whole of modern human history. I'm sure nothing would change during that trip. Of course I'm sure whatever exotic fuel was being used to heat and maintain the ship would also last that long. Along with all the materials needed for maintenance over those years.

I'm sorry, but the time travel analogy is even more relevant to interstellar travel. Fiction of the highest order.

My turn for apologies for the delayed reply - have been away.

I appreciate the healthy scepticism, I'm just wary of going all 'Lord Kelvin' with matters of speculation.

To my mind if the current rate of advancement of technology can be sustained for several hundred more years then I think it possible that things that may seem very unlikely to us could become reality. For example, what would even a physicist such as Maxwell have made of quantum entanglement had he been fast-forwarded to the future? Who knows what other wonders may be just around the corner?

Given sufficient energy and time, who knows what the human race could evolve into? How frighteningly fast have things progressed in the last 20 years alone? (With no shame I throw around the seemingly science fiction example of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and nano-technology that very well could result in 'entities' that have no requirements for oxygen and other 'limiting factors' that apply to our current soft-bodied forms.)

The key is securing a new source of energy that will allow sufficient time and a conducive environment for these things to progress.

Whether we will secure the required source of energy before it's too late is the big 'if' for me.

Transfer this lofty dreaming of inhabitable planets to understanding the probability of finding more oil fields. It seems so mundane yet so much more pragmatic. That's where my head is at. The volume ratio arguments, as Ron first indicated, are very useful, BTW.

Inhabiting planets and traveling to the stars is one thing, but finding more oil. Now you really are off into fantasy land.

I realize that your irony has a double edge, but for others ...

I am just saying that people are more willing to waste their time thinking about fantasy problems like science fiction, sports statistics, random gambling, astrology, etc. than picking up a pencil and a piece of paper and figuring out some problems that actually have some practical benefit -- like figuring out how much reserves we have.

That is the nature of individual freedom.

Please, don't think that I don't value the work that people such as yourself are doing here on terra firma WHT.

But you must at least accept that without dreams we wouldn't quite be human :-)

Besides, I don't divert large amounts of my energy / time towards this line of thought, I just hear faint alarm bells every time someone dismisses the concept full-stop.

If (and I know it's a big if) we can secure a large new source of energy (i.e. fusion) then who's to say what may happen?

We can use fusion on Earth, but it won't really help in outer space. Why? Cuz out there you need something to PUSH those thingies we call spaceships. That's why we use liquid or solid fuel in combination with oxygen. We are literally making fumes to push us to the right direction. Fusion could give us electricity, yes, but in cosmos aircraft propellers aren't very helpful because of low density of atoms. Maybe we could try to suck those few atoms and then blow them out on the other side, but I'm not sure how effective that might be. Not very much, I presume. But still, even with fusion and atom-collecting we can hardly gain speed more than 100 km/s. For example, Voyager's current speed is approximately 17 km/s, it was launched in 1977, now is 115 AU away and that equals 0.00183 light years. Not very far, if you ask me...

I'm not saying "never", I just think it is very unlikely we will come up with scientific breakthroughs soon enough while it still matters, which is about now. Even if we did, wouldn't change a thing for this generation, or the next one and by then Nature will solve our "problems" by climate change, food crisis, water crisis, peak oil, read: by die-off. Aaaand I think it is a good thing. Not with the die-off, mind you, with being unable to leave the planet to poison and destroy other planets. We are like cancer, spreading and spreading and killing the host (Earth) in the process. Good that other fertile planets are able to escape Earth's fate... I think we have to learn our lesson here, on this planet, to become intelligent and caring, protecting our environment, not polluting/killing it, simply put - coexist with our surroundings. After graduating from this simple lesson we could spread to other planets, but it won't matter anymore, I think. We could just live happily ever after on this planet. :))

As I experienced multiple times in my life, paradoxically we get things just when we no longer need them, or don't want them. :D Like, loan from a bank. One has to prove that he doesn't need the loan at all (is able to pay it back), one has enough income to make the monthly payments, meaning one could just simply put aside that money and in a few years buy the stuff.
I mean, it could be same with the star-travelling - we will be able to when we no longer need it... :oD

The way a spaceship moves in open space is that it pushes, or throws something else in the opposite direction. Usually that is spent fuel. But rocks would do if you threw them fast enough. And the speed you throw them and the mass they possess determines the amount of thrust you get. So right, fusion or electrical energy would help you very little.

If you could throw a mass equal to the weight of your ship in the opposite direction at the speed of light, then you would be moving away from that mass at the speed of light. Which means you would be going half the speed of light in one direction and the mass you threw would be moving at half the speed of light in the opposite direction. Then of course you would have to stop sooner or later. That would mean throwing half your remaining mass in the opposite direction, at the speed of light. Then if you decided to return... Well you get the idea.

But you can throw objects or spent rocket fuel in the opposite direction at only a tiny fraction of the speed of light. And the amount of mass you can carry on board is limited. Therefore... Well as I said before, you get the idea...

Ron P.

Exactly. I get the idea very well. :)

I think any meaningful space travel will be just science fiction another 40 000 years and this, to tell the truth, is my conservative estimate, because even after those 40 000 years laws of physics won't change a bit.

Heck, where is that Cavorite when you need one...? :))

The way a spaceship moves in open space is that it pushes, or throws something else in the opposite direction.

Current spacecraft certainly, but this is by no means the only way to accelerate in space. To give a very simple counter-example the acceleration provided by a gravitational slingshot requires no change of mass to the spacecraft.

An additional example would be solar sails that are powered by radiation pressure, again the spacecraft is not required to expel mass.

These are just two examples that are currently in use with today's technology. Of course it goes without saying that unlike a vehicle moving through earth's atmosphere a spacecraft only requires energy to accelerate, not to maintain the speed. So once it finally does get up to speed it would require very little energy to maintain a course over a considerable distance.

Good points ramen, I largely agree with what you've written.

I will just say that I didn't mean to imply that fusion would necessarily be used to power the spacecraft directly per se, just that it would give our society enough energy to maintain technological advancement for at least a few hundred more years. What the result of that would be, I have no idea!

But to give you a brief sample of the possible ideas that are being banded about now, in the 21st century, people (such as NASA) have postulated that it could theoretically be possible to achieve speeds far in excess of 100km/s:

13,000 km/s - Nuclear pulse propulsion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion)

15,000 km/s - Fission-fragment rocket (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission-fragment_rocket)

~300,000 km/s (speed of light) - Nuclear photonic rocket (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_photonic_rocket)

Food for thought :-)

I would be all in favor if NASA would propose sending ALL the cars on the planet Earth to Mars...

Some news item it would be, and imagine the reaction that would follow...

However, the total cost of that would probably exceed 2.5 billion$ but it would be money well spent.

10.16pm There's been record wave height - 9.5m - this afternoon off Townsville. "This is the highest that has ever been recorded since measurements began in 1975," Premier Anna Bligh said. Similarly in Cardwell we are planning for a storm surge of over 7m over the high tide mark, Lucinda Beach 4m and at Cairns 2.6m.''

10.50pm Police report a person at Innisfail has called them, asking to evacuate. Emergency workers cannot respond, other than give advice on sheltering, police say. "These are not conditions in which we can send out emergency workers," Premier Anna Bligh said this evening. "These are not conditions where you can put up a helicopter to do a winch rescue. All of that is now beyond the realm of possibility." ...

Record wave height of 9.5 meters recorded off Queensland coast

From the link:

12.34am The major evacuation centre in Cairns has lost power. The power went out about just over an hour ago, throwing blackness over the 2500 evacuees holed up in the Stockland Shopping Centre in Earlville (pictured below) after early morning evacuations


As a resident of hurricane prone Florida I have zero sympathy for that person's predicament. Unless he or she was in a coma during the warnings they have no one to blame but themselves. To even request help and put others in harms way because of their arrogance, stupidity and lack of preparation is beyond the pale. I do hope they survive and learn a lesson.

To even request help and put others in harms way because of their arrogance, stupidity and lack of preparation is beyond the pale.

Double down on that rant. Hurricane warnings means just that - get out of harms way! It doesn't mean if you stay and have trouble let us know and we'll risk life and limb attempting to recover your body. You got yourselves into that mess, now get yourselves out.

Sugar Prices Hit New Heights on Australian Cyclone

Cane farmers in Australia's sugar industry already faced losses after flooding soaked Queensland in late 2010 and early this year during the key harvesting and crushing period. Australia is the world's third-largest sugar exporter, after Brazil and Thailand
According to Australian forecasting bureau Abares, the just finished harvest yielded a crop of only 3.6 million tons of sugar, the lowest level in almost 20 years.

Fruit prices go bananas

"They have gone from $20 a (13kg wholesale) box in the past 24 hours to between $30 and $50," Mr Murray said. "The price won't settle until next week when we can get a handle on what supplies are left."

Bananas retailed for between $2 and $4 a kilogram in the past 12 months.
Experts predict home and contents insurance premium increases of at least 10 per cent - $120 a year for an average Melbourne house - after the double-whammy cyclone and flood disasters.


Farmers are unlikely to be covered for crop losses in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi, the insurance industry says, as early predictions suggest more than 90 per cent of Australia's banana plantations were destroyed overnight.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/floodrelief/north-queensland-braces...

Bright spot (depends where you're coming from) on all the Aussie moisture-bumper wheat crops upcoming.

Australia Wheat Suffers From Drought With Miners West of Flood

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- As Australia’s worst floods caused as much as $20 billion of damage to eastern states, 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) to the west farmer Pete Mills is battling a Chinese mining company for water after a decades-long drought.

“It’s ironic that they’re underwater and we can’t get enough of it,” said Mills, 44, as flies buzzed around his battered cowboy hat in the 35 degree Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) heat. “It’s noticeably getting worse. I’m worried this new mine is going to take the water that’s left.”

...At stake is the output of the country’s biggest wheat- growing state at a time when global food shortages have pushed prices to records. The drought has already prompted the government of Western Australian state Premier Colin Barnett to cut its economic growth forecast for the year to June 30 to 4 percent, from 4.5 percent.

Thanks for the link.

It is in contrast to what I've heard lately at the ag show. I think the article is referring to groundwater shortages, and the fight between industry and ag for it. As for dryland farming, and general grain forecasts, I'll still go for what was stated in the seminar. Could be wrong.

And probably will be wrong on price. Hard to predict. Some of the high prices this year are blamed on the Russian fires and drought, a real grain disaster. Should Russia get back to normal, and increased moisture levels in much of the wheat belt, it should alleviate prices. There's also the fact that with prices where they are this winter, there probably will be more shift to wheat.

HOWARD DAVIDOWITZ: The Coming Collapse Of Commercial Real Estate Is Already Here
Howard Davidowitz on "Peak Retail". Physical store retailers lunch is being eaten by on-line retailers. Same store sales at WalMart are down 6 quarters in a row. Best Buy misses, despite no longer having competition from Circuit City.

I had to take a trip to South Carolina today and took a route I haven't been over in about 2 years. US 76 between Clayton, GA and Seneca, SC (including the Westminster, SC area) has been in decline for years. Formerly a bustling economy, anchored by textiles and apple growers, the area experienced a short boost from real estate and building in the 90s. Local depression now; developments and golf communities failed, many manufacturing plants shuttered, former retailers closed, rusty and deteriorated For Sale signs everywhere. One of the largest manufactured home sales lots I've ever seen (still there 2 years ago), tens of acres, is now cow pasture, the huge sign still towering above the grass.

One of the big dollar store chains was building a new store while there were at least a dozen vacant, suitable buildings within a few blocks. Go figure.

I paid $2.83/gal for non-ethanol gas at one of the few remaining stations on this route.

It was rare that I didn't have my camera on this trip. Catabolic collapse in all of its surreal glory.

Looks like the half nearer Clayton is in a National Forest. The other half in SC is too far from I-85 to have a shot at manufacturing. Westminster is the only town of any size, and it is less than 3000 population.

The South and West regions were where most of the homebuilding was going on during 2004-2006. Lots of banks in GA have gone bust due to lending too much to residential and commercial builders. They were counting on getting retirees from the North and Northeast to move down there.

But few retirees any longer have defined benefits plans from a corporation or union. Others have seen their 401Ks shrink drastically. They can't sell their homes for enough to retire on. Adult kids move back into the retiree's house and they all live together. They are no longer going south.

Westminster is a city in Oconee County, South Carolina, United States. It was started mostly as a station on the Southern Railway. Then as stores, shops and factories started to set up around the train stop, it bloomed into a decent-sized town. Its peak of expansion came in the 1920s. The population was 2,743 at the 2000 census. The train depot, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, burned due to vandalism in 2005. It has been rebuilt. Westminster is home to several industries; among them are Beacon Blankets (formerly a division of Pillowtex, now a division of Faribault Woolen Mills), US Engine Valve plant and Sandvik Tooling Supply, a global supplier of tungsten carbide cutting tools..

The Beacon Blanket plant appears to be mothballed (or under utilized). Sandvik is still there as is US Valve, both highly automated . The rail lines, its proximity to farm land and water make it the kind of town that could see a resurgence of sorts as communities become more localized. Many of the surrounding small agricultural townships look like ghost towns. It'll be interesting to see the 2010 census numbers.

The Sumter National Forest (Chattahoochee in GA) is where 'Deliverance' (movie) was made.

It appears that Faribault Woolen Mills was acquired by Bemidji Woolen Mills.

Blanket production by small US companies is probably a dying business.

The other firms may be suppliers to BMW in SC.

Link up top: OPEC´s Oil Reserve Revisionism

Regardless of the motivation, what is clear is that the revisions will eventually have a profound effect on oil markets.

How is this possible? Well I guess it is possible if most traders actually believe those reserves, and consequently believe they will have a profound effect on oil production. But any effect mythological reserves have on oil markets will be short lived. Eventually only more oil production from these reserves, over and above what they are producing now, will have any effect on oil markets.

The proof of the oil pudding is in the producing of more oil. Will that happen? Well we will just have to wait and see but I will not believe it until I see it. I expect Iran's production will increase by about one million barrels per day, due to the redevelopment of long neglected fields. But I don't think any of those other revisions will have any effect on extraction. In fact I think extraction in the rest of OPEC to start to decline very soon.

Ron P.

I expect Iran's production will increase

You mean Iraq right?

Yes, of course, sorry. It would be a lot easier if their names were radically different instead of only one letter difference. :-(

Ron P.

Re: Obama’s Bid to End Oil Subsidies Revives Debate, up top:

The head of the oil and gas lobby in Washington contends that the president has it backward — that the industry subsidizes the government, through billions of dollars in taxes and royalties, not the other way around.

It's fun to watch the contortions oil interests go through to justify their large subsides even as they rant against ethanol subsidies. Inconsistency doesn't seem to bother them at all.

I've got to give the oil lobby an A+ for creativity.

It's just a matter of looking at the world while standing on your head, silly people. The government doesn't support oil, oil supports the government.

Applying this to ethanol, we can now see the truth. Ethanol subsidizes the government not the other way around.

Ethanol reduces oil import requirements thereby reducing the trade imbalance helping the dollar and keeping wealth at home.

And truck drivers, employees at ethanol plants and at grain elevators pay income taxes to the government as do farmers who grow the feed stock. The rising price of corn and other grains which is often blamed on ethanol means farm income is up and so is the income tax paid by those farmers.

Rising grain prices are driving rising land prices and rising property tax revenue.

Not only that, expenditure for agricultural price supports is down.

Taking this upside down view of the world is indeed helpful. Now if we could all just walk on our hands.

I must hand it to you with a grin and on a platter,X.

You may at present only be our resident ethanol shill, but you are making remarkable strides in the art of public relations.

If you keep getting better, you are likely to be able to turn pro, and get a job writing in the msm. ;)

Based on the oil company's logic, all taxpayers subsidize the government.The sad part is that these spinmeisters make an incredibly good living. At the end of the day, the spin is irrelevant. It's the money that changes hands.

ts - technically all tax payers, individuals or corporations, "subsidize" the govt although I don't think that's an appropriate term. Everyone is just paying taxes...all part of the deal. As far as subsidies for the oil industry or any other group I won't debate any one aspect or the other per se. But every govt subsidy has the same goal...encourage development to the benefit of the public. Granted the lobbyist have perverted that concept to some degree. But the end goal, if constructed properly, should be a win-win for all parties. An example: some years ago the feds reduced the royalty structure to encourage Deep Water drilling in the GOM at a time when oil prices were too low to spur such activity. The results: the U.S. has a good bit more domestic oil production than it would have otherwise. The bad news: when they wrote the royalty abatement they screwed up and didn't have a cap should there be a drastic rise in oil prices. thus not only did some companies get big subsidies but also reap record high oil prices. But the feds dictated the deal. Of course the companies were glad to take advantage of their mistake. OTOH prices may have remained low and DW developed might not have progressed as fast as it did.

As much as I dislike the govt trying to pick winners and losers in the free market, if can be done as a net benefit to the public that's great. At the end of the day, given the unpredictability of some aspects, it might not turn out as planned.

The taxes paid to the government would be more accurately characterized as "protection" than "subsidy". Ideally, the government is strong enough to maintain a monopoly on the protection racket, but is not so strong as to be able to charge really extortionate rates and generally abuse the populace. If the government fails to maintain a monopoly on the protection racket, it is generally a bad thing for the ordinary citizen. See, for example, Former Yugoslavia, Central Africa, Afghanistan, Golden Triangle, etc. And possibly Egypt.

Two headlines that caught my eye in the last few days:

Vale Buys Brazilian Palm Oil Producer, Aims to Make Biodiesel

Peru: Gold Oil farms out onshore Block XXI in the Sechura Basin to Vale

Ok, so Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, is investing heavily in liquid fuels production, as if they knew (and they certainly do) the wolf is at the door.

If Exxon suddenly entered the iron mining business, I guess it would receive a bit more attention...

MSM lite alert, Nova on PBS:

Making Stuff Cleaner: ... "batteries grown from viruses"; "...tires made from orange peel oil".

We're gonna need a lot of orange peels,,or not.

9 pm EST tonight, in our market.

I can remember sitting around the campfire in Brazil eating oranges and squeezing the peels near the fire, the spray would create a little blowtorch, always impressed the kids.

On the other hand I can already imagine the weather report in Florida... "This evening's frost warning has orange grove owner's especially worried about the effects the freeze will have on this year's orange oil tire crop. The price of orange juice and Goodyear tires are expected to experience substantial price hikes should the growers not be able to protect their crops from the unseasonable cold."

Jeez Fred, get with the program. We'll have GM oranges that are all peel and resistant to freezing; useless as food, but we'll still have tires for our ethanol powered cars.

Then again, orange peel bike tires could make sense, or we could just grow rubber trees: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhiahcqBGtA

LOL! I don't think Mr Ford would approve of that video...

Fordlândia ("Ford-land") is a now-abandoned, prefabricated industrial town established in the Amazon Rainforest in 1928 by American industrialist Henry Ford for the purpose of securing a source of cultivated rubber for the automobile manufacturing operations of the Ford Motor Company in the United States. Ford had negotiated a deal with the Brazilian government granting his newly formed Companhia Industrial do Brasil a concession of 10,000 km² of land on the banks of the Rio Tapajós near the city of Santarém, Brazil, in exchange for a 9% interest in the profits generated.

History and decline

Ford intended to use Fordlândia to provide his company with a source of rubber for the tires on Ford cars, avoiding the dependence on British (Malayan) rubber. The land was hilly, rocky and infertile. None of Ford's managers had the requisite knowledge of tropical agriculture. The rubber trees, packed closely together in plantations, as opposed to being widely spaced in the jungle, were easy prey for tree blight and insects, a problem avoided by the Asian rubber plantations where transplanted Amazonian rubber trees faced no such natural predators. The mostly indigenous workers on the plantations, given unfamiliar food such as hamburgers and forced to live in American-style housing, disliked the way they were treated — they had to wear ID badges, and work midday hours under the tropical sun — and would often refuse to work. In 1930, the native workers revolted against the managers, many of whom fled into the jungle for a few days until the Brazilian Army arrived and the revolt ended.[2]

Ford forbade alcohol and tobacco within the town, including inside the workers' own homes. The inhabitants circumvented this prohibition by paddling out to merchant riverboats moored beyond town jurisdiction[3] and a settlement was established five miles upstream on the "Island of Innocence" with bars, nightclubs and brothels.
Source Wikipedia

Come to think of it, my respect for Ford just went down quite a few notches on the rubber tree. What a sap!

Jóhann Jóhannsson - The Rocket Builder From his Fordlândia Album

...a settlement was established five miles upstream on the "Island of Innocence" with bars, nightclubs and brothels.

Sounds like my kind of place ;-) Henry was on to something and didn't know it. Suppose he had owned the above mentioned settlement ....

edit: Yeah, Fred, I think my rocket builder has a better sense of humor than your's did.

Suppose he had owned the above mentioned settlement ....

He probably did but didn't even know it. The Brazilian government had given him 10,000 Km2. I've been to a few strange places in the Amazon, now I'd like to go check this place out, purely for the purposes of historical research.

"I'd like to go check this place out"

I'm in! Now all we need is a sponsor. I see an opportunity here ;-)

I'm in! Now all we need is a sponsor. I see an opportunity here ;-)

Let me guess, GM?

Ahh... the end of another day is at hand.

Noteworthy: PISD (Plano Independent School District) announces that there is a financial crisis, and they are doing an extended RIF.

Plano is a rather wealthy district, just North of Dallas. If they are cutting, who is not?

District Braces for Significant Staffing and Program Reductions

Board President Skip JenkinsIn response to the difficult economic climate and in anticipation of dramatic cuts in state funding, the Plano ISD Board of Trustees declared that a financial exigency exists within the district and, on January 18, voted to approve a reduction in force (RIF). Initial steps in that direction resulted in reductions estimated at $1.4 million in administration and support services.


This is the tip of an iceberg, ladies and gents. The next wave of RIFs, the next implosion of jobs in the US is at hand. Local government workers are being cut: State, County, City... that is not a small number, and the loss of these jobs impacts the well being, education, health and safety of the populace. Federal jobs are also on the line, and promised cuts there will exacerbate this trend.

But of course, it would take a tax increase to those who could actually afford one to make a difference, and we all know that there is a buck to be made by a few, but that the costs must be paid by all. Gas tax to pay for infrastructure change? Nope. Carbon tax to reduce AGW and pay for health and other problems engendered by industrial pollution? No way. Environmental regulations to protect the populace? Not only "No," but, "Hell, no." Health care for those made ill by corporate misanthropic enterprises? Not only, "Hell, no," but, "Hell, Hell, no!"

And so... another day comes to an end. Another age. Another epoch. Another world.

Led by Economics, the "Dismal Science."

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


Remember, it's not a reduction in force. It's an increase in productivity.

Yeah, Ghung. Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?

"The tears of a clown,
when no one's around."


I have to nominate this comment as a great anecdotal example of an anecdote.

The problem with anecdotes is that the alternate view can dig up an anecdote that shows the exact opposite behavior.

Somewhere, a school district is also hiring.

Show that the trends, either up or down, are statistically significant and then you might be uncovering the tip of the iceberg.

So my curiosity is in how this specific story caught your attention. My own response would be to not make anything at all out of it. That is what I have learned about anecdotes through the years.

...the antidote to the anecdote...

It is not anecdotal. I live in PISD; my grandchildren attend schools here. My neighbor teaches in a grade school near us; one school is across the street from where I live.

It caught my attention by being on page 1 of their website when I was there checking out school closings from the weather. There were no job openings posted.

Where are they hiring? Not even Frisco, which is growing, is hiring right now. Maybe there is a district somewhere, near Bakken oil, that is hiring? If so, I doubt that many of the staffers from Plano will be hired.

My daughter lives in California. They are reducing jobs and projects. The State of Texas is laying off workers, trying to cure a budget deficit. I am from Illinois, and have many family members there. Illinois is not hiring - big budget deficit, ya know.

However, yes! Collin County is hiring in a few positions... 4 new positions in 2 weeks... and they are laying off in many more. While our real estate has not had the drop that, say, California or Florida have had, they are falling slowly. In order to keep workers in those new important positions, property taxes have to be increased, or else other jobs must be ended. That is the way it is... and it is not anecdotal.

My point is that there are priorities that are out of order. Tax cuts for the wealthy are not more important that national infrastructure, they are not more important that balanced budgets, and they are not more important than health care for the workers whose labor is exploited for their wealth. We are in the midst of a serious economic failure; a half-hearted stimulus is pretty much over, and unemployment is not much improved. 1 in 9 houses in the US are empty, and we are in denial. Every statement made by every person on TOD is an opinion. I do not have to say IMO every time I begin, nor do you. I understand that we are serving up our ideas... some times we back them up with proof-text. And, someone else having an opinion earlier than I did, and publishing it (unless we are talking about science, in which case I will let you know and will probably cite to a peer reviewed journal, of which I read many), does not make my position stronger or weaker. And, I would not attempt to view every website of every school district in America to establish my opinion.

In my opinion, if by random selection of my local school district's website I find on page one an announcement that they are preparing a reduction in force, that is indeed the tip of an iceberg. That iceberg may not reach your school district. My belief, though, is that my district is more than just a bit representative (note that I mentioned this is a relatively rich one - God help the poorer ones), and it goes without saying that, if you have a few contra cases, you are free to let me know. I rather resent, though, your attacking without any basis yourself. I say, somewhere (here) a school district is doing a RIF. You say somewhere (note: no where given!) one is hiring. I say, pluck the beam out of your own eye, WHT.

If I get a raft of comments from others, everywhere, showing me that all other districts are hiring, or even just a few, I will probably make an appropriate retraction. Not to your comment, though. Hope it was just a bad day for you. You're one of my favorite characters on TOD.


OK, now I realize it wasn't just some random site that you visited. Sometimes context helps, I guess.

For several months now most news outlets have been full of stories about how school districts are experiencing significantly reduced budgets across the U.S. In many locations tax revenues are falling.

Gov. Cuomo announced his budget for NY on Tuesday. It's brutal. Education was especially hard-hit...mostly because education is the biggest chunk of the budget. A lot of teachers are going to be fired if this goes through. "Nonessential" programs like art and music will get the ax. (Parents will probably step in to pay for sports.)

The rich will continue to see that their kids get art and music, not to prepare them for the concert circuit or for the art world, but to give them the intellectual advantage that comes from the mental training provided by these disciplines.

Cutbacks of this sort will reduce social mobility even more in a state and a country that are already suffering the effect of a hardening of class lines.

The class war continues and those who carefully selected their parents are winning battle after battle.

A lot of teachers are going to be fired if this goes through. "Nonessential" programs like art and music will get the ax. (Parents will probably step in to pay for sports.)

That's Ok, cuz music and art teachers are nonessential people anyway... Sooner or later we will get rid of them too, just think of how much we'll be able to save on food to feed the essential people. Perhaps we should institute a program for humane euthanasia of non essential people. Free cyanide pills.

Um, just in case anyone gets to wondering, that comment is oozing with thick, dark, viscous sarcasm, by now I've come to realize that a lot of Aspies read this site so I just wanted to make that clear >;-(

Similar situation in Texas, probably for same reasons.

North Carolina is facing an estimated $3.7 Billion budget shortfall. Charlotte schools are facing $100 million in cuts. HERE's how some of the cuts will be implemented with 134 teachers cut in one program. The legislature is just now beginning to deal with the problem and there's talk about further cuts to the remainder of this year's budget too.

E. Swanson

Yes, it's just beginning. A lot of people are looking to NY because they have an earlier fiscal year than most states. They're having to face the music before most other states.

Someone tell Obama. This is not WTF. But it is a WTF moment. America is behind, so let's make it behinder. China can afford to educate it youth, but we can't.

Russian Oil Output Near Record as Lukoil Gains; Exports Decline

Russia boosted oil output to 10.21 million barrels a day in January, near a post-Soviet record, as state-controlled OAO Gazprom Neft ramped up output and OAO Lukoil halted monthly declines. Exports fell.

Output increased 1.6 percent from a year earlier and 0.5 percent from the previous month, according to preliminary data from the Russian Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK statistics unit.

Another example of an anecdote. One month, no context. See what I mean.

Another example of an anecdote. One month, no context. See what I mean.

It was supposed to be around 8 million bpd by now, and falling fast.

How's that for context?

That's better context. Still below the peak though.

I did an earlier estimate of FSU production and undershot the actual production as well. One of the procedures I have learned since then is to apply a dispersed discovery extraploation to the as-reported discovery data. All the statistical information is available to get an approximate handle on the decline; the difficulty is in doing the extra work to refine the estimate.

OTOH, this estimate still looks OK and actually looks a bit optimistic:

How is this for context: Colin Campbell in ~2002 predicted a second smaller peak occurring in an around 2010.

Colin Campbell Peak Oil Part 12. Starts at 3:30 to 3:55.

As I have previously discussed, Russia's production is at the top of Sam's 95% confidence interval, but overall (2005) top five net exports are well within his 95% confidence intervals. Following are the graphs that I presented at ASPO in 2007, showing actual top five data through 2006. The actual 2007, 2008 and 2009 data points are shown. Note that Sam Foucher's best case is that at the end of 2014, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will have collectively shipped half of their post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports), and as noted above, the top five are currently falling below his best case projections.

In any case, here is what BP shows for Russian liquids production from 2005 to 2009 and my estimate for 2010:

2005: 9.6 mbpd
2006: 9.8
2007: 10.0
2008: 9.9
2009: 10.0
2010: 10.2 (est.)

So what we have is instead of a production decline, we more or less have a production plateau with average production of about 10 mbpd for four years--versus the very rapid increase in production, prior to 2007, as Russia rebounded from the post-Soviet low. I guess that Cornucopians have to look for good news wherever they can find it.

Do you have discovery charts to match these? Sometimes what's below the discovery curve (production cannot exceed that) is interesting, especially using a 40 year timeline. It can also be instructive as to all of those reserve claims. How much of newly increased reserves were already accounted for in initial claims?

Who was it that said, "Figures never lie... etc."


The one figure above has discovery data. I tried to recreate the shape using dispersive discovery extrapolation and a shock model with a negative perturbation during the Soviet Union to Russia transition around 1990.

This is in GB/year. The shock perturbation accounts for the split in the peak. Getting late.

This graph with predicted and actual production look really good! It is actually the first graph I ever have seen that accurately can predict production from discovery. I promise one day then I get enough time I should read about the mathematical model. Have you ever tried to use the same scale on both axis? It is the same oil so it would make sense.

The only funny thing going on with the scale is that the original graph multiplied production by a factor of 5. I assume they did this because the discovery spikes were pretty high and this way they can keep the production values more readable.

I think the interesting part is how we can deconstruct the dynamics of extraction during turbulent times. We know that when the Soviet Union fell in 1991 that the big state-controlled oil production facilities had to undergo a transition. Not only did they transition out of supplying the big war machine but all the shady transactions occurred then as well. From the looks of it this took about 20 years to complete before they were back to the original extraction levels.

The problem is that the people at ASPO, Campbell and Aleklett and company, don't really document their prediction methods. They just presented their results:

Elsewhere in FSU, discovery reached a maximum in the 1960s. In estimating future production it is necessary to bear in mind that the fall in production following the collapse of the Soviet Government was anomalous. The increase seen to day largely reflects making good the production that was lost during this anomalous fall, and not new discovery. Future production should therefore be considered as the continuation of the overall trend that peaked in the 1980s at 12.4 Mb/d. Future production, that many like to present as production from new fields, is in reality largely coming from declining old fields. Furthermore, the Russian government is now moving to take closer control of its precious oil and gas reserves, seeing merit in conserving them for as long as possible.

That is one of the reasons that I pulled together all the methods and results into The Oil ConunDrum treatise. It really needed a well-documented statistical treatment. The graph that I did above was based on one that I included in the book but originally completed in 2005. I rekeyed the data based on a new technique I figured out since then but used the same pre-1990 extraction levels as I did back then. The thing I fiddled with was the perturbation shocks after 1990 to get it to match the ASPO prediction. For my original prediction, I did not do the dispersive discovery extrapolation and I did not show a rebound in extraction levels to the pre-1990 levels.

The one last try at reproducing the ASPO production curve (brown) based on applying the Shock Model to the discovery data plus extrapolated dispersive discovery (green curve):

Comparing this to actual numbers, the predicted second peak is higher than the current data reveals. It's possible that the extraction rate didn't reach the previous maximum.

No Hubbert Curve in sight, this is ordinary stochastic production cycle math.

You are using that word again. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Anecdote: –noun
a short account of a particular incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical.

I thought the comment was interesting. If I want more context, I will look it up.




3. based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation: anecdotal evidence.

i don't think this usage rises to the level of a malapropism.

Russia's record month was November 2010. They had some maintenance problems in December and December production was about 50,000 bp/d below November. These were cleared up by January. January's production was above December but below the record set in November. This is according to daily production I gleaned from CDU TEK. This is not exact because there is, almost always, about 5 or 6 days in every month when they do not report at all. But it is always pretty close.

Ron P.

Thousands of people crammed into emergency shelters in the storm-battered state of Queensland on Wednesday ...

But some experts hope that Wednesday's arrival of giant Cyclone Yasi on the coast of Queensland, already hit by massive floods last month ...

Gosh, I wish these young excitement-seeking reporters straight out of media school knew some geography, or some history, or something at least. Queensland is a big place - Texas is less than 40% as big - the area subject to Cyclone Yasi last night is at least 1,000 kms and several river catchments away from the parts of SE Queensland that were subject to major floods last month. It is a totally different climate and geographic reality. Sigh.

RMG--We have lots of shale gas do we and lots of uranium--could you please back that up with something other than BS--I have seen nothing in production and usage figures that backs up your wild statements--China building 250 Nuclear power plants??--talk is cheap as you obviously understand very well--I loved Rockman's note about building a coal fired plant on a NG field--I think that kind of says it all--another point--Tom Whipple in a report a week or so ago stated OECD countries released 8 million barrels of oil from reserves in Nov and 33 million in December--yet not one comment in regards to this info was commented by anyone on this site---I truly feel that few folks on this site really GET it !!

Please use the reply button if you are replying to someone. It makes it very hard to follow the discussion if you don't.

RMG--We have lots of shale gas do we and lots of uranium--could you please back that up with something other than BS--I have seen nothing in production and usage figures that backs up your wild statements--China building 250 Nuclear power plants??--talk is cheap as you obviously understand very well

Lone Ranger: "Tonto! We're completely surrounded by hostile Indians!"
Tonto: "What you mean, 'We', paleface?"

We've completely lost the context here, so I don't exactly know where you are coming from. Where I am coming from is that I worked in the Canadian oil and gas industry for 35 years, read all the geological maps, and have consulted for companies that, unbeknownst to most people, were controlled by the Chinese.

So, while it is true that talk is cheap, that's only because I am retired. Were I still consulting, you would have to pay large amounts of money for the information.

When I say "We" have large amounts of shale gas, I mean North America. This is a game-changer in terms of North American production. Canada probably has more shale gas than the US, but it's not on production yet. I can't vouch for the rest of the world, but one would assume there's lots of it elsewhere.

When I say "We" have large amounts of uranium, I mean Canada. The US has pretty much used up its potential, but there's lots in Northern Saskatchewan, and probably in the Northwest Territories. The Australians claim they have large amounts of uranium as well, and I'd have to take their word for that.

And when I say "the Chinese" are going to build 250 nuclear power plants, that's based on the number being bandied around the nuclear industry. China is building 1 or 2 coal-burning power plants per week, but there are distinct limits to that process (i.e. they are going to run out of coal) so they are starting to get into nuclear power in a major way. Most of the world's major nuclear power plant vendors are all involved, and although they know the Chinese will steal their technology, the profits are sufficiently large that they are keen to have it stolen.

That's my take on the situation. It's free, and you get what you pay for.

Rocky - Unfortunately I'm stuck like you but for another reason: I have an exclusive with my owner so I can't charge anyone else for my smarts. Otherwise I would have to be billing TOD $1,400/day. But I would at least give TOD a money-back guarentee: If my work proves to erroneous I'll guarentee I won't give any of the money back. Similar, I'm sure, to your previous contracts.

I always liked the economics of consulting - use the client's offices and materials, use their people, gather information from their files, and present it to them in a nice glossy brochure with lots of diagrams and an Executive Summary so even upper management could understand it. And of course, send them a big bill at the end of the month.

That was my roll - tell them what they already knew and charge them big bucks for it. You have to charge a lot of money because otherwise they won't think it's important.

"Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem."

And when I say "the Chinese" are going to build 250 nuclear power plants, that's based on the number being bandied around the nuclear industry.

And I'm sure these plants will just as safe and secure as every other plant - just like Turkey Point, Sheffield, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Made with the same quality as Chinese toothpaste and the paint on toys and glasses.

(I leave it up to your own search engine foo to look at innovate ways of getting rid of waste Somali Pirates + Iran + China + Radioactive Ship. China was just where Texaco/Mobil/Phillips sent radioactive metals - I'm sure none of that ever was smelted like it was just regular old metal eh?)

I'm reminded of the guy pitching gold above, e.g. what's your angle in anti-nuclear?

Calling out liars about the safety of fission power.

Pure and simple.

At least when a PV plant or a wind turbine fails* it doesn't leave an area uninhabitable for years and spread its failure round the globe.

*at least not yet. "Nano"tech in PV may be bio-toxic and able to be airborne...once the "nanotech" is all sorted out by the boffins.

Well, at least lead in a nuclear plant would have a purpose...



I'm sure the Chinese will build them to Chinese safety standards, which is to say they will blow up occasionally, but you will never hear about it.

The thing is, it is pretty easy to demonstrate that a nuclear plant is safer than a coal burning plant, particularly a Chinese one. A big coal burning plant will kill hundreds of people every year due to air pollution, whereas a nuclear one will only kill hundreds of people if it blows up - and it will only do that once.

And, realistically, only the occasional nuclear plant will blow up, so they will kill far fewer people than coal burning ones.

The coal burning ones already kill slowly over time with the heavy metal and radioactives sent up the smokestacks. Fission plants in wide use with mankinds demonstrated inability to operate 'em means the "error rate" will be expressed as 'blow ups'*

And I've YET to see the pro nukers defend why Tunisia or, say Egypt should build more of em. Note how no one is defending China's "right" to build 'em.

*Note: There will be a few steam explosions but if history is a guide, most of the failures will be the introduction of more radioactive materials into the biosphere and not actual explosions - "blow ups".

Singapore PM: Reproduce in Year of Rabbit

Singapore (CNN) -- As Singaporeans usher in the Year of the Rabbit, Singapore's prime minister hopes citizens will follow the fertile animal's example and reproduce.

In his annual Chinese New Year message Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that Singapore's fertility rate fell to an all-time low of 1.16 percent in 2010 and urged couples to have more babies. Despite financial incentives offered by the government, Singapore citizens face a population shortfall, a problem that is "extremely challenging," Lee said.

Amid rising costs for the average Singaporean, many couples have chosen to have fewer children or none at all.

Dadgummit, I wish nations would talk more to each other. Surely it would make more sense to accept more immigrants from places with high fertility rates, such as Sub-Saharan Africa?

US Pushes but Reactors Are Lagging (up top)

I didnt realize that it was becoming so difficult to build new nuclear capacity in the US. I found that surprising (we dont have nuclear generation in Australia).

Some challenges are not peculiar to the nuclear sector. All forms of clean energy, including solar and wind power, are undercut to some extent by the cheap price of natural gas and the surplus in generating capacity, which is linked partly to the recession. And federal caps on carbon dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-burning plants, which would benefit clean energy sources, are not expected until 2012.
But some obstacles are specific to the nuclear industry, like the ballooning cost estimates for construction of reactors, which are massive in scale. Even when projects are identified as prime candidates for federal loan guarantees, some investment partners turn wary.

I guess that relatively cheap natural gas (at present) is the main stumbling block ?

EFA - A little far from my background but there's more to it then current NG prices. I mentioned earlier about a coal fired e-plant to be built over a NG field I'm currently developing. Not sure but let's assume current NG prices are more economic than coal today. But an e-plant has to lock in long term (10+ years) supplies as well as prices. In the mid 80's I was drilling up a lot of NG in one area of Texas but the coal-fired e-plant right in the middle of the play couldn't buy my NG even though I was selling it for $.90/mcf. They had long term contracts to buy coal from S. Africa and Aussieland. They had been buying from Wyoming but the state got clever and increased the severance tax on coal to a level that almost double the cost. Even when WY tried to get sales back there was nothing they could do because of the long term foreign contracts. In the case of the new Texas plant it's a private company. I don't know it for a fact but I assume a big chunk of the costs is being financed. And I do know that no capex source would loan a $ to such an effort if they didn't have both a guaranteed supply and price. The coal companies can offer decades of supply. Few if any NG producers can match that. And if one could I doubt they would sell that much NG forward at such a low price. So even if NG has a price advantage for the next 4 or 5 years I would expect most if not all e-generation expansion leans heavily on coal. I assume utilizing any alternative energy source hits the same road block: If a plant wants to use solar or wind those folks have to be able to prove they can deliver X amount for Y years. Chicken and egg problem once again: The alts can't expand without a locked in buyer/price and the plants can't offer it w/o the alts making the same guarentee.

As I've said before I don't relish the idea of the feds getting into the deal but it's difficult to see the private sector pulling it off to any major degree without fed backing. Why govt "help" worries me: read a while back about a French govt program that guarenteed farmers big $'s for all the solar power they sold into the system from new solar panels they put up on their barns. Worked great...too great. Many farmers gave up working the land and focused on solar. The result: the system is now bankrupt due to the govt paying farmers around 10X the current rate for their e. Im sure the govt model looked great on paper when it was first proposed. Those unintended consequences once again.

Thanks for your reply
So probably coal, rather than natural gas - makes sense to me, we have the same issue in Australia (80% coal generation) with relatively cheap coal.

As I've said before I don't relish the idea of the feds getting into the deal but it's difficult to see the private sector pulling it off to any major degree without fed backing.

I dont particularly like the idea either, but with nuclear its probably inevitable. I wonder what proportion of nuclear plants in the past were built without fed financial backing ? - or more importantly in the future what proportion could be built without fed backing ? - very low I suspect.

I see that according to the WSJ, U.N. Food Price Index Hits Record High

The United Nations has said its monthly food price index moved to a record high in January due to higher global prices of cereal, sugar and vegetable oils.

The index, published Thursday by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, rose for the seventh consecutive month to 231 points and is up 3.4% on the month.

The figure is the highest level registered since 1990 when the agency started monitoring prices.

So food prices are higher now than at the peak in 2008. I am sure this is playing a role in the outbreak of violence in the Middle East.

Yasi effect on sugar should show up next month. Good graphs here.

FAO Food Price Index

Not to be outdone by edibles in its Kingdom, cotton is showing too much strength.

Cotton prices spin to new high on steadfast supply concerns

Cotton prices set a fresh post-Civil War high on Wednesday, as concerns grew that world cotton supplies won't satisfy growing demand.

Cotton is one of those crops abandoned when grain spikes. Expect cotton $ to increase when its cultivation base is switched to wheat.

haven't seen this one posted (and i know how happy you all are to recieve good news):

Oman's oil output jumps 6.6 per cent in 2010

The Oil Minister Mohammad al-Rumhy said Omani oil production stood at 875,000 bdp at the end of November, which is a nine year high, and that the country was aiming for output to hit 1 mn bdp by 2015.


It does look like they are at least partially recovering from the collapse in production in the Yibal Field, but it remains to be seen if they will surpass the previous peak. EIA crude oil production:


According to the EIA future production depends on massive EOR.


In 2002, PDO initiated a review of its mature oil fields to determine the feasibility of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques which would help boost production yet again. A massive EOR program was implemented, using varied techniques on a field-by-field basis, according to the geology. The future of Oman’s oil sector is now dependent upon these EOR techniques.

Oman’s EOR program consists of three different general methods of extracting oil, some of which have never been used on a commercial scale previously. Miscible gas injection, steam (thermal) injection, and polymer flooding are the cornerstone of Oman’s efforts to step up production. Miscible gas injection involves pumping gas, often toxic, that dissolves in the oil, facilitating higher flow rates. PDO is using this method at its operations in the Harweel oil field cluster. Thermal EOR methods are being deployed at Mukhaizna, Marmul, Amal-East, Amal-West and Qarn Alam fields. Thermal EOR entails the injection of steam in various ways and durations so as to facilitate the flow of heavier oil to the well. Mukhaizna has already increased production to 50,000 bbl/d, with Occidental expecting that to rise to 150,000 bbl/d by 2012. When reservoirs contain heavier grades of crude, the viscosity of the oil restricts its flow to the well. With such a heavy grade of crude, water injection might not prove effective, as the disparity in viscosity causes the water to pass the oil, instead of pushing it to the well. At projects such as Marmul, with this heavy oil, injecting polymer fluid is more effective when injected into a well.

...Consumption and Exports
In 2009, Oman consumed approximately 115,000 bbl/d of petroleum products. Consumption has increased over the last decade, more than doubling from a level of 52,000 bbl/d in 2000. This has largely been attributable to Oman’s industrialization and expanding petrochemical sector, along with better roadways and an expanding vehicle fleet.

Mukhaizna has already increased production to 50,000 bbl/d, with Occidental expecting that to rise to 150,000 bbl/d by 2012.

Impressive. Oil Megaprojects has it at a maximum of 65.000 b/d in 2011. Production of the field started in 2005 and they hope to recover 1 Gb of heavy oil from it.

NG storage report:

Working gas in storage was 2,353 Bcf as of Friday, January 28, 2011, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 189 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 69 Bcf less than last year at this time and 5 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,348 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 107 Bcf below the 5-year average following net withdrawals of 115 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 100 Bcf above the 5-year average of 756 Bcf after a net withdrawal of 56 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 12 Bcf above the 5-year average after a net drawdown of 18 Bcf. At 2,353 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

One man's investor is another man's speculator

Investors Increase Bets for $250 Oil on Saudi Disruption Fears

Investors increased bets that oil prices may surge to as much as $250 a barrel on concern the unrest in Egypt will disrupt traffic in the Suez Canal and spread to Saudi Arabia.

Open interest in the $250 call option for December, which give the buyer the right to purchase oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange at that price, climbed to 242 from 142 on Feb. 1 and stayed at that level yesterday. The most active options yesterday were the March and December $100 calls followed by the December $120 call.

Art Berman nails another one

Fayetteville Shale activity to slow through 2012

A new industry 10-year forecast released today (Feb. 2) says low natural gas prices will constrain production in the Fayetteville Shale in the short-term, but production and wellhead prices are expected to gradually increase after 2012 and beyond.

“Post 2012, with natural gas prices expected to touch around $6 per Million British Thermal Units (MMBTU), the production from Fayetteville Shale play would show an upward trend,” said the report by Dublin, Ireland-based Research and Markets. “The production in the play is expected to gradually increase, reaching 872,387.8 MMcfe by 2020.”

The exhaustive report by Research and Markets not only details the operational activities in the Fayetteville Shale, but also analyzes drilling activities, cost trends, initial production rates and well decline curves.

“The production in the play is expected to gradually increase, reaching 872,387.8 MMcfe by 2020.”

Reaching how much?

They probably never heard about significant figures.

i think that is an annual figure, about 2.4 bcfd. MM, in oil/gas industry parlance, means millions(thousand x thousand). M is the roman numeral for one thousand. k makes more sense, but M is what the aime(spe) adopted as the abreviation for thousands in the '50's.

Yes, I knew what the total amount was and assumed they meant annual. The 7 significant figures was the problem.

French Minister Warns Shale Oil Explorers on Environment

Energy companies will be denied permission to explore for shale oil in France if the environment isn’t protected, a French minister said.

...“In light of the techniques that are used in North America, which are understandably criticized, we will heighten our vigilance,” the French minister said. France has granted three exploration permits for shale gas and three for shale oil, she said.

Obama's Energy Plans Will Increase Prices and Decrease Bills


"Obama's Energy Plan and Your Energy Bill
Electricity prices will increase, but your bill could actually come down.

A national energy plan proposed last week by President Obama could have a paradoxical impact on the nation's energy bills. It is likely to raise electricity prices by forcing utilities to use certain sources of energy, but it could lower energy bills by offering people incentives to reduce the amount of electricity they consume.

According to an outline supplied by the White House, the energy plan would include a clean energy standards that would require that the United States get 80 percent of its energy from "clean" sources by 2035. These would include renewable sources such as wind and solar, nuclear and natural-gas plants, and coal plants that capture and store the carbon dioxide they produce. Currently about 40 percent of U.S. electricity comes from such sources...."

OPEC Crude Exports to Rise on Asian Demand, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will raise crude shipments 1.7 percent through next month amid strong demand from Asia, according to Oil Movements.

Loadings will rise to 24.16 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 19, from 23.75 million barrels a day in the period to Jan. 22, the tanker-tracker said today in a report.

That's quite a jump. With that kind of increase it is surprising that oil prices are still so high. I think they are all now trying to increase production in order to take advantage of these high prices. Now we will find out who can and who can't.

Ron P.

With all the Canadian and Bakken oil building up in Cushing, there is less oil available for everyone else, especially in Asia where the growth is. Also China might need more oil to compensate for the drop in coal exports from Australia.

More oil is needed in places where we can't get the North American excess to.

Just curious: Is anyone going to pay $45 to see the Stoneleigh Vs. Lira "Live Online Debate", next week? http://fosslira.blogspot.com/

Another option is to watch Diva Natalya Vs. Rey Mysterio on WWE Smackdown, free to many markets ;-)

I liked wrestling more when they had names like 'Abduhl The Butcher' and 'Atilla The Killa'. 'Stoneleigh' is pretty cool but Lira needs something. "The Mighty Inflato" perhaps.

Obviously it's a mistake and the price is 45 Lira's.
45 DOLLARS? Shirley you must be jesting with me.

From the link:

Stoneleigh & Lira will be taking audience questions—live. Attendees are advised to have a microphone attached to their computer, in order to ask spoken questions in the live Q&A, though written questions will also be taken.

DATE & TIME: Thursday, Febrary 10, 2010 beginning at 9:00 PM EST

COST: $45

Not sure if that's US or Canadian, likely either (and don't call me Shirley). They'll have to rumble without me. For us, $45 is a couple of months of B-100.

From IEA

Facts on Egypt: oil and gas

A closure of the Suez Canal and/or Sumed Pipeline would not take any oil off the market; markets would re-route and reallocate available oil. On a net basis, northbound and southbound crude flows via the canal are balanced. Any crude oil blocked in the Mediterranean could be processed in Europe, albeit quality mismatch between crude and available processing capacity might require pricing adjustments.

and CNBC

Egyptian Unrest Could Cause Oil to Rise: IEA's Tanaka

I think it is more like crude oil carriers are balanced and they are full in one direction and empty in the other direction.

The False Promise of ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’

More domestic drilling would provide zero relief from high oil and gasoline prices now, and make a scant difference in 10 years.

and it isn't coming from the arctic

BP's Liberty project delayed again

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Another delay was announced Tuesday for BP's Liberty project in the Beaufort Sea. The project, which employs directional drilling from a man-made island three miles offshore, has been criticized by environmentalists as too risky for the Arctic.

Bloomberg News reports that BP's CEO, Bob Dudley, told investors meeting in London that the project has been pushed back to "beyond 2013."

Clarificatons - "Yet more drilling would provide zero relief from high oil and gasoline prices now": I agree 100%. OTOH neither will solar, wind. e-cars or any other alt provide any relief "now". So does that mean we don't pursue alts?

"...and make a scant difference in 10 years": I might agree but that would depend on how one defines scant. An increase in drilling now would bring a certain amount of domestic oil/NG to the market place. Would this drilling prevent PO or delay it a good bit? IMHO no to either point. But we would still be better off with whatever the gain is compared to not having it.

“long lead times from discovery to production limit the increase in production, particularly offshore.” That's actually the argument one would make for efforts to increase drilling years ago. And the same argument that would be made 10 years from nore regarding increased drilling today. Very, very little of the oil/NG we produce today was discovered in the last few years but decades ago. In fact, most of the onshore U.S. fields were discover 20+ years ago.

"This means that an increase in U.S. oil production will make little or no difference in the world oil price or what Americans pay at the gas pump." I agree completely. The price of oil in the future will depend on the demand/supply model. Prices could be higher or lower regardless of much we drill or don't drill in this country. OTOH every $ we pay for domestic oil (which provides salaries, tax revenue, profits for investors, royalty payments to the citizens and govt, etc) is one less $ we send overseas.

"We probably couldn't produce enough to affect the world price of oil,” Probably agreed with by most on TOD who believe that neither the U.S. NOR ANY OTHER COUNTRY will have the ability to produce enough oil in a matter of a few years to lower oil prices significantly.

" the administration can reduce prices by selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve": Quit true. Just as the fact that after we stop selling SPR crude the pressure on oil prices would be reduced and prices would rise. And rise even faster after we start replacing the oil in the SPR. And if we don't replace that crude...then we lose the security value of it.

"Our consumption helps finance and sustain unfriendly regimes because one in five barrels of oil consumed in the United States comes from countries that the State Department considers to be “dangerous or unstable.” No argument there. And thus every bbl of oil we produce domesticly reduces this factor.

In summary development of additional domestic energy sources is a benefit to this country on many levels even though it won't change to onset of PO to any significant degree IMHO. We can't change a course based upon the depletion of a finite resource, but that doesn't mean we can take some actions to lessen the impact even if just a minor amout.

I have come around to the idea that we need a broad energy plan. More drilling, more nuclear, and more alts. The plan should be swallowed by the clowns in the Senate since each of the 50 states gets a project.

Sadly it will never happen I think.

Because we have 100 clowns in the Senate.

Send out the clowns.

Arctic Oscillation brings record low January [sea ice] extent, unusual mid-latitude weather

Arctic sea ice extent averaged over January 2011 was 13.55 million square kilometers (5.23 million square miles). This was the lowest January ice extent recorded since satellite records began in 1979.

Ice extent in January 2011 remained unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador), and Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). Normally, these areas freeze over by late November, but this year Hudson Bay did not completely freeze over until mid-January. The Labrador Sea remains largely ice-free.

New Mexico joins Texas - Natural Gas Emergency

Cold weather cuts natgas output in U.S. Southwest

Cold weather across the U.S. Southwest has forced at least 2.7 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas production offline as wells froze and problems at processing plants halted operations, Bentek Energy analysts and a spokesman for a gas pipeline company said on Thursday.
Natural gas production in several basins in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico has been disrupted as some wells froze, forcing the gas to remain shut in, analysts said.

At least one pipeline company reported problems at gas processing plants, interrupting operations.

Some 2.4 bcfd of gas is offline in Texas and Oklahoma with additional volumes off in New Mexico, analysts at Bentek Energy said.

The Anadarko Basin, which lays partly in Texas and Oklahoma, is seeing gas volumes off at least 900 mmcfd, according to Bentek's pipeline and sample data analysis of the production area.

Natural gas outages reported throughout state[NM]

Thousands of New Mexicans are experiencing natural gas outages Thursday as various utility companies are unable to keep up with the high demand for increased power and fuel due to sub zero temperatures

Natural gas outage hits Taos, other parts of NM

The company says gas use spiked in extremely cold weather and rolling blackouts in West Texas impeded deliveries to New Mexico

Questa declares a state of emergency amid natural gas disruption, Red River opens fire station for shelter

"All the schools, businesses and the clinic are closed," García said. "We also have a concern that people will be using so much electricity that we may not have any. Kit Carson has advised us against using too much electricity."

Hope Heisenberg is not freezing.

Serpah (and FM below),

Thank you for your kind thoughts, and know that all is well, not only for me, but for the vast majority of folks in Albuquerque.

We have lots of thick, warm blankets from our 9 years in North Dakota. We also plugged in my vehicle's block heater...never thought I would need that again...

Our house was not cut off from NG.

We keep our thermostat between 65-68 as normal ops, and set it to 65 (and had it off for parts of the day) when we heard there was a NG constriction...as opposed to some of the 'non-negotiable way of lifers' spouting off on local TV/newspaper blogs that they have their god-given right to have their thermostats set to 80F.

I am fortunate to have some vacation time, since I have used ~ 8 hrs of it this week due to late building openings, early dismissals, etc. I am currently on telephone standby waiting to be told that my building's heat has been turned back on (I can't even go there and work in a sweater or coat since I don't control building access.

Here's a laugher...numerous customers lost Comcast cable service the past day or two...one woman at work called their customer service and asked what the problem was and the person said that "it was too cold". I guess there is a new physics where the 'trons slow down and stop when it gets below 0F.

Amazon Drought of 2010 Sign of Forest Fatigue

The tropical forests of Amazonia may be giving up their role as buffers against the continuing buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists report, a circumstance that could accelerate climate change.

The warning comes in the new issue of the journal Science, where an international research team reports that the drought in the Amazon during 2010 was even worse than what scientist called the "once-in-a-century" drought of 2005.

and Two severe Amazon droughts in 5 years alarms scientists


Petrobras plans to double Brazil oil output

Petrobras is set to rapidly increase in size in relation to Brazil’s economy as it prepares to double domestic oil production through the development of its recently discovered huge “pre-salt” fields, said Jose Sergio Gabrielli, chief executive.


The pre-salt fields will help double Brazil’s domestic production of oil from about 2m barrels per day presently to about 4m bpd by 2020, he estimated.

Two roads diverged

If we continue to burn fossil fuels, we face imminent environmental collapse. If we cease burning fossil fuels, the industrial economy will collapse..........

If you believe your life depends upon water coming out of the taps and food showing up at the grocery store, you’ll defend to the death the system that keeps water coming out the taps and food showing up at the grocery story. But news flash: If you think your life depends on that system, you’re a very unusual person, especially historically .....


"More than at any time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

- Woody Allen

Just about sums it up. :-)

Sales of hybrid gas-electric cars started off 2011 with gains of 12 percent compared to a year ago. This bodes well for 2011—despite the fact that hybrid sales declined by 32 percent compared to December 2010.


Significant parts of the cities of Belen (South of Albuquerque and Los Alamos (north of Albuquerque) underwent NG outages today due to the cold.

Spot outages occurred in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque public schools closed due to the inability to start the buses.



My work-mates at lunch all agreed that global warming was a hoax...I kept my mouth full of food...

"I kept my mouth full of food..."

Kind of hard to swallow, huh H?

Warm blankets, hot tea, and a candle ......stay warm!

Better to blame it on La Nina which is temporary/
Does global climate change effect El Nino/ La Nina ?
It was thought that inner earth heat cycles change the ocean temperatures.


'Bernanke warns of catastrophe if debt limit not raised'

WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday issued a stern warning to Republican lawmakers that delays in raising the United States' $14.3 trillion debt limit could have "catastrophic" consequences.


That link shows the debt currently at 14.173 trillion, only .127 T away from the debt ceiling of 14.3 T.

Beyond a certain point ... the United States would be forced into a position of defaulting on its debt. And the implications of that on our financial system, our fiscal policy and our economy would be catastrophic," he told the National Press Club.

Did you read that? ... the United States would be forced into a position of defaulting on its debt.

The new House is composed of many tea partiers that have vowed to stop the debt increase along side their Republican counterparts. If they are to take a stand, it probably will need to take place early in their careers, because as time passes they will become indoctrinated into the good ol' boy system of a career politician followed by the big bucks and perks of being a lobbyist. Once those dollar amounts sink in, there may not be many left to stand their ground on the debt ceiling.

I personally have no idea whether its a good idea for them to stand their ground or not. Both directions have their implications.

Not to worry. Breaking news:

Unemployment rate fell to 9% in January, government says.


This, despite that hiring for 2010 was revised downward and January hiring was lower than expected, barely at the break-even point. I suppose alot of unemployed folks just vanished. Poof!

The economy added only 36,000 jobs in January -- falling far short of expectations. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate sunk to 9%, down from 9.4% the month before.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney were expecting the economy to add 149,000 jobs during the month, and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5%.

They fell off (were pushed off) the back of the bus.
They're no longer counted because they have given up looking for work.

The Big Bankster Bernanke is trying to stampede the taxpayers once again into picking up still more of the tab. "Raise the debt limit, Raise the Debt Limit!" All this is is more government theft, really.

It's BS because he's already defaulting on the debt. Money debasement, QE1 + QE2 (plus the all too likely QE3, coming 3 or 4Q '11) are just another form of default; just slow-mo default.

In time, the bond markets will have to react to this slow motion default; in fact, they've probably already started to slowly move against this. The gold market has been reacting harshly to this very thing for a number of years now (and will continue to do so).

This crap isn't fooling any of the pros; and it's no longer fooling even all of the sheeple.

Well it is not as simple as this. I wouldn't want to be in Ben Bernanke's shoes for all the tea (or yuan) in China. He is doing what most would do in his position and with his responsibilities. He is trying to keep the system afloat with the hope that eventually enough economic growth will occur to pay off all the debt and prevent a collapse. There is a chance, though a slim one IMO, that this will work. It is, in effect, a soft default through monetization. We would call it here an attempt to maintain BAU.

The alternative is to stop the "extend and pretend" and let the chips fall where they may. I have no doubt that Bernanke is right: if the debt limit is not raised the consequences will be catastrophic. What was narrowly averted in 2008 will occur. In a nutshell, the global financial system will collapse and with it the global economy. The stock market reaction would be immediate and violent. Possibly a crash of epic proportions. Interest rates would skyrocket and sovereigns would default around the world like cascading dominoes. Those who advocate kicking over the table this way, a global reset type event, will, I believe, be utterly shocked at the consequences -- rapid and brutal impovershment. Most would have no money. Those with money will have little to buy with it.

The tea partyers strike me as children with dynamite. They want to light it to blow up what they view as a corrupt and unsustainable system but they don't seem to realize that as a result their hands and likely other valuable pieces of their anatomies will be blown off. In other words, no understanding of consequence.

Maybe it is better to get it over with quick. But it does strike me that pursing a path with some hope is better than one with no hope.

And of course none of this factors in the twin approaching "challenges" of peak oil and climate change. Sigh.