Drumbeat: February 18, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: The 3rd Transition

With declining quantities of fossil fuels, and the likelihood that renewable forms of energy cannot be developed and expanded quickly enough, continued worldwide economic growth is unlikely. While countries that are self-sufficient in fossil fuels and those able to get a lock on a share of fossil fuel production (most likely the Chinese) will be able to grow for a while. Eventually, however, they are certain to encounter other constraints. At the minute fresh water and food seem poised to follow fossil fuels into scarcity, but there are many other natural resources that soon will be too expensive for common use.

U.S. Fuel Consumption Edged Higher in January, API Report Shows

U.S. fuel consumption edged higher in January from a year earlier, as winter storms curbed demand growth, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, climbed 1.7 percent to 18.8 million barrels a day last month, the second-lowest January total in 10 years, the industry-funded group said today in a report.

Here comes $4 gasoline: U.S. oil prices look reassuringly calm till you look below the surface

At first blush, a replay of the 2008 gas price spike seems far fetched. The biggest driver of U.S. gasoline prices is the cost of crude oil, and near-month oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange have sat out the scorching commodities rally. They lately fetched $85, some 40% below the crisis peak.

But that's where the good news ends for motorists -- and for a U.S. economy that is sputtering even with gas at $3.15 a gallon.

Battle Lines Harden Across the Mideast as Rulers Dig In

Security forces and government supporters employed a growing panoply of violent force — from tear gas and batons to shotguns and grenades — in pitched street battles with antigovernment protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen on Friday.

The clashes followed a week of deepening unrest as protesters, emboldened by the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, have called for swift revolutions in their own countries. The battle lines between protesters and authoritarian rulers across the Arab world appeared to be hardening, with governments turning to an increasingly brutal script in trying to quash the protests that have swept the region.

Four protesters die on Yemen's 'Friday of Rage'

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni security forces and pro-government loyalists clashed with crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule in several cities on Friday. At least four people were killed and dozens wounded.

Al-Jazeera reported that three people died as police tried to disperse crowds in the southern city of Aden, where resentment against rule from Sanaa runs high. Protest organizers had billed as the rallies as a nationwide "Friday of Rage."

Iraqi protesters demand better services in oil hub

BASRA, Iraq — Iraqis demanding better public services, jobs and pensions blocked a bridge Friday in the southern oil hub of Basra, as spreading Middle East unrest emboldens Iraqis to take on government officials over poor living standards.

In the wake of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, frustrated Iraqis have staged repeated protests across the country. This week, at least five people were killed when demonstrations in two Iraqi cities turned violent.

Baghdad wants U.S. to pay $1 billion for damage to city

(Reuters) - Iraq's capital wants the United States to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage done to the city not by bombs but by blast walls and Humvees since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The city's government issued its demands in a statement on Wednesday that said Baghdad's infrastructure and aesthetics have been seriously damaged by the American military.

Iraqi Kurdistan crude output about 80,000 bpd

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Crude production from oilfields in Iraqi Kurdistan has reached about 80,000 barrels per day but only about 50,000 bpd are being exported, sources at Iraq's North Oil Company said on Friday.

Irish firm undaunted by N Africa revolts

Ireland's Petroceltic, active in Tunisia and Algeria, wants to drill deeper into North Africa, and unrest sweeping the region should have little impact on oil and gas exploration, its chief executive said in an interview.

Venezuela: Netizens Comment on Possible Gasoline Use Restrictions

On February 15, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced possible measures to start rationing gasoline. This matter constitutes a very sensitive issue for Venezuelans, since Venezuela is a country with one of the world's lowest gasoline prices, where according to the government, about 90% of its total cost is subsidized. After the announcement, bloggers and Twitter users reacted in different ways.

Energy pressure piques interest in Colorado oil shale

With crude oil prices creeping back toward $100 a barrel and unrest racking the Middle East from Egypt – where 3 million barrels of mostly U.S.-bound oil passes through the Suez Canal each day – to Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, it’s not surprising there’s renewed interest in Colorado’s vast oil shale reserves.

TNK-BP pondering role in BP-Rosneft Arctic oil deal

Anglo-Russian oil joint venture TNK-BP is pondering a possible role in its UK parent's Arctic exploration deal with state-owned Rosneft.

The news comes after TNK-BP's Russian shareholders won a London court injunction to block the Arctic deal.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Reserves are a Big Bluff: WikiLeaks

In a world of exploding demand, sufficient oil supplies are critical to maintaining oil prices at reasonable levels. Any slowdown in oil production will cause oil prices to skyrocket. Even now, Brent Sea crude oil is selling for more than $101 per barrel and energy expert Elliott Gue, lead advisor of The Energy Strategist, has recently gone on record predicting that oil will hit $120 per barrel later this year.

Al-Husseini sets WikiLeaks record straight

DHAHRAN: Retired Saudi Aramco senior executive Sadad I. Al-Husseini was surprised recently to be thrust into the international spotlight when newspapers picked up a story about a WikiLeaks release of a US State Department cable that attributed comments to him purporting to dispute Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.

The former executive vice president and veteran geologist was disappointed by the news stories, asserting that the American diplomat in Dhahran who sent the cable had not understood the technical industry terminology and that the press had sensationalized the communique in the interest of selling newspapers.

Saudi turns to alternatives to prop up oil power

For oil colossus Saudi Arabia, a shift to renewable energy is as much about preserving its international influence and maximising its revenues as saving the planet.

The world's leading oil exporter and custodian of more than 260 billion recoverable barrels -- around a fifth of the world's stock -- Saudi Arabia has long held sway over markets and governments with its ability to add or subtract crude at a turn of the spigots.

Bangaladesh: Gazprom sees major role in local gas exploration

Russian energy giant, Gazprom is set to emerge as one of major players in the country's gas exploration, following the decision by the government to sign key drilling deals with the state-run company, an official said Thursday.

Petrobangla chairman Hossain Mansur said more than a dozen of state-owned gas wells will be handed over to the Russian company for drilling and development in an effort to boost output in some of the age-old fields.

Big leaps toward 'good times'

Scenario two is like one except that Peak Oil embraces the world, renewable energy is expensive, climate change-driven economic conditions exist and the gas glut continues. Hence we hit a saw-tooth, boom-bust global economy with the concomitant impact on ours. The probability of this is a bit higher than the first.

In scenario three, we do not find any more gas and oil and we run out of petroleum resources in the next 15 years. Now, oil production is steadily decreasing and we have had no gas finds in years. Further, if there is any petroleum out there it is in deep water. To get at it, the cost is high as is the risk, and the returns are lower.

Enbridge boosts North Dakota capacity

Enbridge Energy Partners LP said Friday that it will reconfigure its North Dakota transportation system to expand its capacity by 23,500 barrels per day.

The expansion by Houston-based Enbridge Energy between North Dakota and Minnesota will cost $7 million and is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2011.

North Dakota: Oil Refinery Grant Bill Defeated in House

The state will not be providing any financial incentives to build a new oil refinery. The House defeated a bill to give a $5 million grant to a developer to help with the expense of getting an operating permit.

Critics say if a proposed refinery looked profitable, a developer would be willing to move forward without state help. Supporters say a refinery would help ease the state`s diesel fuel shortage.

Is The World Really Running Out Of Food, Water And Oil?

Our entire system of energy is based on making as much money as possible for those who have all the oil.

So if the world has a shortage of energy in the coming years, it is not because that is how it inevitably had to be.

Rather, it will be all about pure, unadulterated greed.

Minnesota House votes to lift nuclear power ban

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Minnesota House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to lift a ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state.

Minnesota enacted the moratorium on new nuclear plants in 1994.

Electric cars: where will the money come from?

Now I can afford an average car, and if an electric car cost the same as an average one, I'd swap.

But they don't, and few drivers will change while there's no incentive in New Zealand to swap the dirty and nasty for the clean and pristine. In fact, I don't think many will go the electric way beyond some very well-off idealists and those on the lookout for something to brag about over dinner now that the novelty of their hybrids has worn off.

A real chance to cut subsidies to Big Oil?

For the US to deal with peak oil and climate change, we will need a national plan to cut our dependence on oil and quickly ramp up clean energy and conservation. And to have any chance at a rational energy policy, citizens will need to break the power of Big Oil over Washington.

A promising place to start will be cutting unnecessary handouts to the world's wealthiest industry, corporate welfare that the Great Recession has made positively criminal.

A Bright Spot in an Otherwise Dreary Wisconsin Spring

Yesterday, Wednesday, February 16. I attended the protests in Madison. Students at UW-Milwaukee were provided with buses to head there, and once settled I immediately struck up a conversation with a student much younger than me. A second-year student from outside of Stevens Point, my traveling neighbor was an intelligent, conscious, and sensitive young person, the type of person I wish I were six or seven years ago. We discussed music and literature, sharing thoughts on Don Delillo, David Foster Wallace, Chuck Palahniuk, and a musician who only records in the winter so that his work reflects the desolation of that season in the North.

In the seats ahead of us, four undergraduate students who knew each other discussed peak oil and anarcho-primitivism with a couple other young students who became interested once the discussion of consumerism, waste, and the problems with industrialization came up among the original four.

Beyond the False Dawn: Global Crisis 2020-2022

Four long-wave cycles will likely intersect around 2020-2022.

John Michael Greer - Energy: What really matters

It’s not uncommon, when I give public talks about the end of the industrial age, for people to ask me whether I can offer them any hope. Now of course people mean many different things by the very indefinite word at the end of that utterance; some want me to tell them that I was only joking and industrial civilization isn’t really careening headfirst into hard planetary limits, others want me to tell them that when the crash is over and the dust settles, some kindly power or other will hand them an even shinier society than the one we’ve got, and still others will settle for being told that our civilization won’t drop dead until at least a few moments after they do.

To all these I have nothing to offer. Still, there are always a few who simply want to know if there’s some reason to believe that the next half century or so might not be quite as ghastly as it looks. I do have something to offer them, and it’s one of the ironies of our time that the reason for hope I’d like to discuss in this week’s post is also one of the most annoying features of contemporary society: the very common assumption that people in the industrial world can’t possibly scrape by without access to amounts and kinds of energy that few if any of our ancestors would have been able to figure out what to do with.

Urge Obama to say “peak oil” on April 20

Transition Voice, along with our friends at three other prominent organizations dealing with peak oil, have just launched a petition drive urging President Obama to mark the anniversary of the Gulf spill with a major speech to the American people on the subject of peak oil.

Year one of the global commons movement

I spend most of my time helping to build the Commons Movement, in fact quite a few of us do, as my colleagues from the Commons Strategies Group. Together, we explore the commons and Peer-to-Peer Production. We want to contribute to developing a coherent political narrative for the commons. Actually, I consider this notion as the most fertile mothersoil for the convergence of movements – be they rural or urban, digital or environmental, social or academic, from the North or from the South.

Carbon Nation

Director Peter Byck opted for corny graphics, a wall of statistics, a voice-of-God narrator and a xylophonic score, but behind the infomercial presentation are solid ideas that warrant scrutiny. Byck focuses on the energy crisis from outside the global-warming debate, homing in on its moral, economic and national-security imperatives and identifying some increasingly viable solutions.

Saudi Arabia seeks share of $100 billion climate aid fund

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is a special case in need of climate aid if the world shifts to clean energy, the world's top oil exporter told the United Nations ahead of a Monday deadline for proposals about slowing global warming.

Almost 200 nations agreed in Mexico in December to a package of measures including a new fund to help poor nations, due to be worth $100 billion annually from 2020, find ways to adapt to climate change and protect tropical forests.

Saudi Arabia May Risk Shiite Unrest After Turmoil in Bahrain

Violent unrest in Bahrain provoked by discontent among the majority Shiite Muslim population risks spilling over to their co-religionists in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which holds one-fifth of the world’s oil, analysts say.

Bahrain, a close Saudi ally which is ruled by the Sunni Muslim Al-Khalifa family, has been rocked by protests since Feb. 14 that have led to calls for the government’s dismissal after at least five people died as security forces cracked down on the demonstrators.

Saudi Arabia has a Shiite minority concentrated in its eastern oil-producing hub that also complains of discrimination. Any spread of unrest into the world’s biggest oil exporter risks pushing crude prices above the two-and-a-half-year high they reached this week. Saudi authorities arrested 38 people after clashes involving Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Medina two months ago.

Saudi Arabia Default Swaps Jump on Bahrain Contagion Concerns

(Bloomberg) -- Credit-default swaps on Saudi Arabia surged on concern political unrest in neighboring Bahrain will spread to the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Bahrain mourners call for toppling of monarchy

MANAMA, Bahrain – Thousands of mourners called for the downfall of Bahrain's ruling monarchy and worshippers at Friday prayers chanted against the king as anger shifted toward the nation's highest authorities after a deadly assault on pro-reform protesters that has brought army tanks into the streets of one of the most strategic Western allies in the Gulf.

The cries against the king and his inner circle — at a main Shiite mosque and at burials for those killed in Thursday's crushing attack — reflect an important escalation of the political uprising, which began with calls to weaken the Sunni monarchy's power and address claims of discrimination against the Shiite majority in the tiny island nation.

Libya's `Day of Anger' Protests Reported to Leave at Least 19 People Dead

Libya’s “Day of Anger” protests against Muammar Qaddafi, in power for 41 years, led to clashes with pro-government forces in which at least 19 people were reported killed.

An opposition website and an anti-Qaddafi activist said violence broke out during marches yesterday in five Libyan cities, according to the Associated Press. The 19 deaths were in the second- and third-largest cities, Benghazi and Beyida, according to Al Arabiya television. An opposition website said some demonstrators were killed by snipers from the internal security forces, according to AP.

Crude Rises in London as Protests in Mideast Fan Supply Fears

Crude oil rose in London, headed for its fourth weekly gain, as escalating protests in Bahrain and Libya fueled concern that supplies from oil-producing nations may be disrupted.

Protesters in Bahrain gathered for the funeral of two men killed by security forces, calling for democracy and the fall of the government as unrest in the Middle East spread to Libya where 20 were reported dead in clashes. Prices trimmed gains after the People’s Bank of China raised the reserve requirement ratio for banks and the dollar advanced against the euro.

Gas Producer Hedging Gains as Rally Chances Dim

Natural gas producers are increasing forward sales of their U.S. output for a second year, a sign they see little prospect that prices will rebound from their lowest level for any winter in the past nine years.

Consumer prices rise at quickest pace in over a year

WASHINGTON — U.S. core consumer prices rose at their quickest pace in more than a year in January, but the increase was not strong enough to suggest a troubling build-up in inflation pressures.

Growing economy brings whiff of inflation

Business at his Wallingford, Conn.-based company is booming. The company recently hired new workers and bought new equipment to keep up with growing orders for custom-made plastic parts used in everything from oil rigs to medical equipment.

But while his orders are rising, so is the cost of raw materials. Increased demand and higher oil prices have driven plastics prices higher across the board. For the most part, Rolffs has been holding the line on passing along those higher costs to his customers.

Saudis forge foreign tie-ups

Saudi Aramco said today it has signed two contracts with consortia of Saudi Arabian and foreign companies to carry out engineering work in the world's largest oil exporter.

ExxonMobil to help Ukraine find shale gas

(Reuters) - Ukraine's state-run energy firm Naftogaz and a top oil major ExxonMobil have signed a memorandum on cooperation to explore for shale gas deposits in Ukraine, Naftogaz said on Friday.

The company said the memorandum had been signed this week and ExxonMobil would also help Ukraine to look for methane gas deposits in coal mines.

Reliance Cuts Exports to Cash In on Demand in India

Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s largest company by market value, cut fuel exports by 50 percent in the first half of this month, selling domestically to profit from shortages during plant maintenance by rivals.

Egypt Confirms Iran Asked for Warships to Use Suez Canal

Iran has asked Egypt to allow two Iranian naval ships to pass through the Suez Canal, a move that Israel says will be a “provocation.”

“The request is being studied,” Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said today in a telephone interview in Cairo. “Whether or not they actually send them is another story.”

Egyptian troops protect Sinai gas line to Israel

EL-ARISH, Egypt – The Egyptian military has dispatched hundreds of additional soldiers to the northern Sinai Peninsula to guard a pipeline that carries natural gas to Israel, security officials said Thursday.

An Israeli defense official said the Jewish state has agreed to the deployment, which follows a Feb. 5 explosion at a gas terminal in the area that disrupted the flow of gas to Israel and Jordan. Security officials said a bomb caused the blast at the el-Arish terminal, while Egypt's natural gas company said it was caused by a gas leak.

Uganda election: Politics and land rights collide in the country's oil-rich east

How to tap Uganda's relatively new oil finds is dominating politics in the country's oil-rich east ahead of Friday's presidential and parliamentary election.

Nigerian Oil Exploration at 10-Year Low Before Petroleum Law

Oil exploration in Nigeria has slumped to the lowest in a decade after producers including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA backed away from investment until the country’s petroleum law is passed.

Just one exploration well was drilled in Nigeria in the past two years, the lowest since 1999, according to official figures released by the Petroleum Ministry. The number of wells peaked at 34 in 2002.

Chevron foundation, USAID give Nigeria $50M

Chevron Corp. has announced that its foundation and a U.S. aid agency are to spend $50 million to improve living standards in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta.

Industry testifies on plan to cut Alaska oil taxes

JUNEAU, Alaska – Oil industry leaders delivered a stinging rebuke of the production tax that became a hallmark of Gov. Sarah Palin's administration, telling a legislative committee Wednesday that it has discouraged investment and made Alaska a less attractive place to do business.

BP workers could have prevented rig accident: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – BP had workers on the doomed Deepwater Horizon rig who could have prevented the missteps that led to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but they were not consulted, the White House oil spill commission said on Thursday.

BP Says Spill Settlement Terms Are Too Generous

In the eight months since Kenneth R. Feinberg took over the $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he has been attacked by many of those filing claims and by coastal state politicians who argue that the process is opaque, arbitrary and slow. Many of them have also argued that Mr. Feinberg’s recently published estimates of future damage to those in the gulf are too optimistic, and thus his offer of compensation in a final settlement is too low.

Now he is getting complaints from another quarter: BP.

Oil companies say they're ready for new spills

NEW YORK — A group of oil companies led by Exxon said Thursday that they have a system that can stop an undersea oil spill within weeks, a critical step towards resuming drilling in the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

Statoil to 'halve' offshore incidents

Norway's Statoil said today it aimed to more than halve the number of serious incidents at its offshore platforms by 2015 and that a gas leak in December was one of the worst two last year.

Watchdog Groups Urge Stronger U.S. Standards for Oil Sands Pipelines

The thick, sticky type of oil carried from Canada to the United States in several high-profile pipelines also brings a higher risk of leaks and ruptures that demand stronger government safety standards, green groups and pipeline watchdogs argue today in a new report.

U.S. Geologist Jailed for Eight Years Loses China Appeal on Secrets Charge

A Chinese court rejected an appeal by a U.S. geologist jailed for eight years in July for breaching state secrets by buying data on the nation’s oil industry, his lawyer said.

China Acts to Tighten Grasp on Rare Earths Production

HONG KONG — Premier Wen Jiabao of China and his cabinet decided Wednesday to “streamline” the country’s rare earth industry by consolidating production, clamping down on illegal mining and clearly deciding which government agencies would oversee it, the government said.

Solar Power Comes to Saudi Arabia in a Big Way as Peak Oil Looms

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil. But as experts and WikiLeaks previously detailed--the country's oil supply may be fast dwindling and that has made renewable energy options, such as solar, that much more appealing. Just this week the country announced that construction of its largest solar power plant will be completed by September--and this just days after WikiLeaks reports about exaggerated oil quantities from the country hit the news.

"The solar market in the Gulf region is still in its infancy," said Klaus Friedl, general manager of Phoenix Solar, the firm contracted to build the new solar plant. "There is, however, a huge potential for solar power plants in Saudi Arabia."

Conergy Unit Plans $2.7 Billion Australian Wind Farms

A unit of Conergy AG, the German solar power company, said it plans three wind farms in Australia estimated to cost as much as $2.7 billion that will proceed if the government does more to spur clean energy investment.

Who got high speed rail money

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The federal government already has more than $10 billion in stimulus and other money set aside for high speed rail projects. To date, it has made commitments to spend $4.5 billion of that.

President Obama has made infrastructure a centerpiece of his presidency, calling for $53 billion in additional funds for high speed rail in his budget proposal this week.

Poll: Americans OK with newer light bulbs

Most Americans support the U.S. law that begins phasing out traditional light bulbs next year and, despite some consumer grumbling, say they're satisfied with more efficient alternatives, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

Passive houses aggressively reduce energy

Heat your home by throwing a dinner party?

This concept may sound bizarre, but it's feasible in cutting-edge green homes that are so well-insulated, they don't need a furnace or boiler. They'll stay warm simply with body heat. A hairdryer might also suffice.

Wind and gas lobbyists scuffle over green claims

The head of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has blown cold air on gas lobby claims that Europe could save €900 billion and still hit its 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets if it built more gas plants fitted with controversial carbon capture and storage technology.

"Anybody who claims that Europe could save billions by investing in energy technologies based on gas that nobody knows the future price of is either a clairvoyant or will inevitably be proven wrong by history," Christian Kjaer, the CEO of EWEA, told EurActiv.

Forest sell-off abandoned: I'm sorry, I got it wrong, says Caroline Spelman

Environment secretary apologises to MPs as she confirms the government has abandoned plans to sell off England's forests amid widespread criticism.

You Will Be Assimilated (if You Wish)

Climateprediction.net is a distributed-computing scheme that harnesses the power of people's computers at times they are sitting idle.

Flood studies bring climate change lawsuits a step closer

A leading climate professor says that new evidence which further reinforces the connection between global warming and extreme rainfall is "extremely important" in setting out a methodology which could one day be used to sue energy companies for climate damage.

Emissions Fell in 2009, Showing Impact Of Recession

WASHINGTON — Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States declined in 2009 for the second consecutive year, reflecting the impact of the recession on industrial production and overall energy use, the federal government reported on Wednesday.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases fell 6 percent in 2009 and were at their lowest level since 1995, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which produces the annual inventory of emissions. The agency attributed the decline to the economic slowdown and a shift from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas to produce electricity as the price of natural gas has declined.

Preparing For Sea Level Rise, Islanders Leave Home

These episodes — the little cultural clashes, the homesickness — are actually a form of climate change adaptation. More than 80 people from Kiribati, including Baure and Ariera, are studying nursing at Australia's Griffith University on a special scholarship called the Kiribati Australia Nursing Initiative, or KANI.

It's sponsored by Australia's foreign aid organization, AusAID, and like similar programs, it aims to get i-Kiribati people jobs. Except KANI has one important difference: With most AusAID scholarships, students are trained and then required to return to their developing country, so they can help the place out. KANI, however, is training people in case one day they don't have a country to go back to.

China expected to import more grain

Even as its economy cools, China's demand for imported grain is likely to surge this year, providing a boon to the U.S. and other exporting nations.

Hungry for a Solution to Rising Food Prices

The hunger that has roiled the Middle East was not caused by the whims of autocrats and cops. It began last year with crippling drought in Russia and later Argentina, and torrential rains in Australia and Canada. The deluges in Saskatchewan were so sustained and intense that farmers couldn't plant some 10 million acres of wheat, according to the Canadian Wheat Board. "What is typically the driest province was never wetter," said the governmental agency Environment Canada. Shrunken wheat harvests in those countries, along with cool, wet summer weather in the American Midwest that delayed the U.S. harvest, helped drive wheat prices at the Chicago Board of Trade up by 74 percent in the past year. Corn traded in Chicago rose by 87 percent during the same period. More recently, grain prices have spiked even higher because of yet another drought, this one threatening China's wheat crop, the world's largest. In that country's eight major wheat-producing provinces, some 42 percent of winter wheat cropland has been hurt by a dry spell, according to Agriculture Minister Han Changfu.

For those interested, here is a simple graph of global energy consumption per capita per year.

Several notes:

1. – The units are in Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE).
2. – ‘Renewables’ includes Solar Photovoltaic, Wind, Geothermal electricity generation and Ethanol.
3. – I have somewhat generously assumed that renewables are operating at maximum capacity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
4. – I cannot lay my hands on accurate data for Biomass. However I have taken start and end points from the orange bar in the IEA graph* and extrapolated backwards assuming its growth is a constant. If anyone has an reliable source of data for Biomass, I would be very grateful. Likewise for Solar Thermal and Geothermal heating.
5. – The graph does not show Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI). Perhaps I will investigate whether it is possible to source data for this.

BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2010 - http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/re...
U.S. Census Bureau International Database - http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpop.php
*IEA Biomass data - http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/29TPES.pdf

P.s. Thanks also to clifman for lending me his paper on EROEI. I haven't had time to go through it properly just yet, although after a brief skim I did take inspiration to alter the y-axis to a more manageable scale. :-)


One thing that troubles me. The World Bank have a similar graph here:


However, I can't understand why they have the anomalously large jump from 1989 to 1990. What am I missing? Can anyone explain?

That graph from the World Bank is indeed interesting. Their companion data for total energy use shows no jump between 1989 and 1990. The energy data comes from the IEA, which presents a graph which is similar to the one from the World Bank in my link. Thus, one must conclude that the Earth's population took a nose dive between 1980 and 1990. Or else, someone goofed...

E. Swanson

Right, I was thinking along the same lines - I thought it was a pretty unrealistic jump considering fusion didn't come online in '89..

After some searching, here's what the data from BP looks like:

World Primary Energy Consumption

Click on thumbnail for larger size.

E. Swanson

Fantastic, thanks for that! I'd say it looks pretty similar to mine so perhaps I'll drop the World Bank an email.

I must say when I first saw the result I was quite surprised that energy use per capita has generally steadily increased recently. It would be nice if I could get figures to distinguish between the upper and lower incomes to see how consumption has varied across society. But I think that would take a bit more doing...

The data from BP is given for each country, beginning in 1965, which is then summed into regional totals. The hard part might be finding the population statistics for each country or region. Your link to the US Census data would seem to be a good source for population data, but going thru the data to extract each year would be tedious. I've seen several graphs which plot consumption vs population for each country, but that data is usually just for the recent past...

E. Swanson

Great, cheers for the help. Yes, I think tedious would be the word!

Perhaps I might come back to it at a later date if I feel it's worth it..

The only time global population declined in recent memory was caused by the decline in China's population during Mao's Great Leap Forward, 1949-1962.

The "Great Leap Forward" actually only lasted from 1958 to 1960. Mao resigned as head of state as a result. Approx. 20 million excess deaths are attributed to that relatively short term disaster.

Correction - you mean the last time there was significant population decline in any one major country/region.
(And even then, it lasted a mere few years and how accurate are the figures?)

Global population, as far as I know, has not declined for quite some time, perhaps going back to the Black Death.


If anybody wants to correct me, go ahead, but remember we are dealing with an area that doesn't really have exact figures.

Egypt "protects" what they aren't giving to Israel: natural gas

Netanyahu lets Egypt build up its Sinai army to 4,000 troops Feb 18 << By Friday, Feb. 18, Jerusalem had discovered that Cairo's explanation for its North Sinai deployment was the need to guard from further attacks the pipeline supplying Israel and Jordan with gas, which was blown up by Hamas on Feb. 5, was nothing but a pretext. For now, Egypt is not repairing the damage or offering to resume supplies. >>

You realize, of course, that DEBKA is not a reliable source.

Did you click on the link?

Has the flow of gas to Israel resumed?

Do you think they are my only source? TheOilDrum censors me if I post too many links.

The problem is when you post too many similar or identical links.

In particular, posting the same links multiple times, especially in the same thread, or when the same links are already posted up top, is out of line.

Do you have an opinion as to why the gas from Egypt to Israel, Syria, Jordan and by means of transit to Lebanon and Gaza is still off after thirteen days has passed? (Feb 5th - Feb 18th) Do you remember back when reports stated it would be back on in a week?

I hear there have been some issues with management over there.

It's not usual for projects to take longer than predicted. Even when the entire government hasn't collapsed.

There's also the possibility that the pipeline has been attacked again, or perhaps the people trying to repair it have been. (Assuming the original problem was a bomb, and not a gas leak like the Egyptians claimed.) Why else would Egypt send more troops, and Israel agree to that?

How come it is possible to send so many troops to "protect" the pipeline but not yet repair it?

The damage is to a metering station, not only the pipeline. I'm sure that replacement parts aren't as available as sections of pipe.

"The delay is due to a hold-up in repair work on a GASCO pipeline," it said in a statement, referring to infrastructure owned by the Egyptian National Gas Company.

In the attack, "a small part of a GASCO pipeline serving EMG was damaged as a result of an explosion and subsequent fire in a metering station along a separate GASCO-owned and operated gas pipeline from Egypt to Jordan," Ampal said.

The damaged metering station is located 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the EMG-operated pipeline from Egypt's El-Arish to Ashkelon in southern Israel, the company said.

"How come it is possible to send so many troops to "protect" the pipeline but not yet repair it?"

I doubt that troops are qualified to do gas pipeline/metering station repair. Further, suggesting that Netanyahu is soft on Israel's security runs counter to his record; he's pretty hard line. I'm sure he understands that deploying 4000 troops, bolstering the security of the pipeline, is prudent if not necessary. He also understands the stakes:

"Every single Egyptian should know that the people of Israel are committed to the peace," Netanyahu said while addressing a gathering of Jewish-American leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

"Israel wants Egypt to succeed in its quest for genuine and lasting democracy," he stressed, but added that his government has to remain on guard against the possible formation of a non-democratic Islamist militant government in Egypt.

"As prime minister of Israel, I am responsible for the security of over 7 million Israelis who live in the one and only Jewish state. I cannot simply hope for the best. I must also prepare for the worst," Netanyahu said.

But what happens if the democratic choice of the people is for a government actively promoting an Islamic state based on Sharia law?

I don't think it would happen in Egypt, but it could in Sudan or Nigeria.

Anyway, there is no way that the military Junta now controlling Egypt would allow an effective democratic government if there was any chance that it would reduce the elite's stranglehold on the economic purse strings.

I don't think it would happen in Egypt, but it could in Sudan or Nigeria.

Not in Nigeria. Nigeria is only 50% Islamic, and the oil (and hence the money) is in the south where Islamic voters are a small minority. Furthermore, most of the Islamic population is probably no more keen on Shariah law than the Christians.

An Egyptian democracy would be anti-Israel regardless of whether it instituted Sharia law and became an Islamic state or stayed resolutely secular.

There is a small minority of Egyptians who would be "single issue" voters for an anti-Israeli policy. There is probably a majority of Egyptian who are broadly anti-Israeli. Consider that essentially all extended families in Egypt have had casualties of the previous wars with Israel.

Given a strong "single issue" minority and more general majority support, an Egyptian democracy would be anti-Israel. The only reason that Egypt was not anti-Israel was that it was controlled by a small oligarchy who could be bought by the United States.

Well I guess that settles it then. No democracy for Egypt.

Well, they may become 'Anti-Israel' according to you.. but is that not a euphemism for 'A state which can deal more directly and honestly with Israel than what we saw with Mubarak?' I mean, anyone in the US who simply wants a fair shake for Palestinian interests not to be stomped and strangled by the IDF is called 'Anti-Israel' . Those who complain that a 10:1 civilian death rate suggests that the odds are far from even. What level of acquiescence and passivity does it take to be seen as Pro-Israel?

Given a strong "single issue" minority and more general majority support, an Egyptian democracy would be anti-Israel.

There are degrees of anti-anything. There are groups of people I would describe myself as being anti. But, I don't go out of my way to hurt them. So the people of Egypt may not like Israel, but they may consider it not worthwhile to plot war against them. They may even consider it in their interest to have trade relationships. Perhaps even at a low level student exchanges. Thats a far cry from "we will pay any price, bear any burden, to wipe them from the face of the planet".

Egypt will not do anything precipitous or stupid. But let's see whether they let the Iranian Navy ships through the Suez on their trip to Syria. Although reports are conflicting, the latest appears to be that Egypt is interpreting international law as requiring it to allow passage of any ship unless the ship's country is at war with Egypt. Israel is taking exception to this.

Other likely moves are discontinuing energy exports to Israel, gradually opening the Egyptian border with Gaza for more travel and trade, garrisoning the Sinai with Egyptian troops, discontinuing discussions between the Egyptian and Israeli military leaders, withdrawing recognition of the Palestinian Authority, etc.

All of these would be seen by Israel and the US as anti-Israel, although they are not particularly belligerant.

It must be humiliating for Arabs and Egyptians that the Egyptian government needs Israel's permission to send troops into Sinai. I understand peace treaty and all that but the terms are clearly humiliating to the Egyptians.
I am wondering what would happen if the next government just moves troops into Sinai without bothering to ask for Israel's permission.

If there was a gas pipeline near your house would you want a troop of 18 year-old military recruits repairing it? I suspect that basic training doesn't include pipeline repair.

I'm not saying that Egypt doesn't have some other agenda, but with everything else going on I imagine that getting qualified personnel and equipment out there might be more difficult than sending some soldiers.

Egypt Confirms Iran Asked for Warships to Use Suez Canal, above.

Iran has asked Egypt to allow two Iranian naval ships to pass through the Suez Canal, a move that Israel says will be a “provocation.”
“The request is being studied,” Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said today in a telephone interview in Cairo. “Whether or not they actually send them is another story.”

Request approved:

Egypt approved a request from Iran to send two naval ships through the Suez Canal on their way to Syria, a move that has ratcheted up Middle East tensions and driven oil prices higher as Israel calls it a “provocation.”

What if unrest in North Africa, ME impacts on oil exports?

What if unrest in North Africa, ME impacts on oil exports?

What ever the answer is America is on the sidelines with all the old certainties evaporating.

Here we go again: Egypt to Bahrain

The larger question is: What is more essential to American security today, convenient bases for its ships, planes and troops across the Middle East, or a full transition to democracy throughout the region?

The answer is clearly the latter, as evidenced by the fact that America's two primary antagonists in the Middle East, al-Qaeda and the Iranian government, have seen their standing sink in proportion to the rise of the pro-democracy movements.

In any war, cold or hot, propaganda is crucial, and here it is impossible to lose sight of the fact that al-Qaeda has had little if anything to say about the Egyptian revolution precisely because it was a massive non-violent jihad that succeeded miraculously where a decade of al-Qaeda blood and vitriol have miserably failed.

As for Iran, the government's rhetorical support for the Egyptian revolution while it continues to suppress its own democracy movement is clearly emptying the Iranian regime of any remaining credibility as an alternative to the US-dominated order.

This should be good news for America, but alas no.

Instead, the US president argued that "each country is different, each country has its own traditions; America can't dictate how they run their societies," an utterly meaningless declaration since it contradicts the very advocacy of democracy that the President has made out of the other side of his mouth.

And now, once again, in the wake of government violence against peaceful citizens, the Obama administration stands silent, refusing to openly condemn the Bahraini government. Is the administration incapable of learning from mistakes in the immediate past?

Paradoxes abound. George W. Bush's call to bring democracy to the Middle East is being fulfilled on Obama's watch. So, too, is Obama's promise of change. Now that the presidents are getting what they asked for, America is dumbfounded. So, too, are the region's strongmen. The geo-political rules have changed. All bets are off. What's more, none of the usual stakeholders are calling the shots.

How this is going to turn out is anybody's guess. The emperor really isn't wearing any clothes. The metal-plated suit of armour has turned out to be much more transparent than first imagined.

Like Ralph notes upstream, what if they elect religous radicals? That has to be a concern for the president.

For now everyone is giddy over their prospects. But if condition do not improve the radicals may find their way into power in a truly democratic middle east (i.e. one where we cannot control their people through force or propaganda).

...what if they elect religous radicals?

And what if they did?

All governments, to some degree, rest on the consent of the governed -- even dictators. Bearing in mind the maxim that public policies that affect all should consult all, representative forms of government have a proven track record of channeling that consent while providing an outlet for opposition to be heard.

Yes, free and democratic elections carry the risk of bad government (incompetent, radical, corrupt, you fill in the blank). The flip side of course is that without them there is little promise of good government.

I agree, I'm just saying that has to be a major concern for the president and the global community in general.

I hope the new democratic peoples of the middle east decide to restrict greatly their exports of oil, and to save those resources for non-combustion purposes in the future.

what if they elect religious radicals?

Like the kooks propagandizing their way into US power? Surely, some of the bipartisan zealotry is at a pitch bordering on religious fervor? Can that be controlled? Can other countries direction be controlled? Was nothing learned from Viet Nam? Hang on, folks, the roller coaster has left the gate. US doesn't own the fair anymore and they'll just have to get used to it like the Russians, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, Port.... ......well, you get the point.


But if condition do not improve the radicals may find their way into power in a truly democratic middle east (i.e. one where we cannot control their people through force or propaganda).

Hi Snarlin. This idea has come up in several threads today, and my response is to this general train of thought.

The unspoken question here is: Are we in favour of Social Justice in general, or only when it benefits us?

Let me make clear that I know the answer is "Only when it suits us, and maybe not even then", but it is hidden in plain sight ("we're working towards democracy there"..."the alternative is even worse..") and couched in plausible deniability in our society. We all pretend that these things aren't our fault and don't affect us.

There is a frightening amount of arrogance to even question whether to allow people on the other side of the world to control their own destiny, or try to force them into a pro-western mould.

Particularly since the only acceptable mould in the past has been one that puts western interests ahead of their own people's. This is what the middle east dictatorships have done for the past century. Puppet states in the thrall of the colonial powers in the first half of the century, and to the superpowers in the second half.

That said, Afghanistan and Iraq have proved that the United States can't control the states it is occupying now; therefore, it is unlikely they can control uprisings in their other puppets, either (China and Russia are equally impotent.) Even if they were able to muster a force to support one dictator, they can't support them all.

And yet we have what is essentially a demand for action, for the President to be concerned, for the change in Egypt to have no consequences.

So, let's look at the language being used here:"Religious Radicals." It seems to me this title could be applied to the Mormons, Catholics, Martin Luther, Jesus... in this context, it is coded speech, suggesting that some Muslims are so dangerous they cannot even be allowed the chance to come to power or have influence, and that to fail to move proactively would be a defeat. It is the language of fear. It is the language of Fox news. Even if you don't agree with them, when you use their talking points and choice of language, you give credence both to their stated position and all it's implications. From Glen Beck's mouth to yours.

As Nelson Mandella said, "Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts." The fear here is that Democratic governments in the Middle East will soon have the power to ask for a more reasonable (from their point of view) price for their oil and its secure passage to other places, that they aren't going to care that "the US way of life is non-negotiable", and that they won't have any reason to fear you militarily.

The people of the various states in play at the moment see how the west lives on mideast oil, while they are having increasing difficulty feeding their families and/or live under repressive regimes. We are, quite literally, taking the food out of the mouths of their children. I suspect this will be reflected in their future bargaining positions.

We have reason to be afraid: the future is uncertain. It is a little unseemly, however, to use the language of fear to try and move people to a morally indefensible position: that these people should not be allowed to have rights because the west does not want to adapt to the new reality.


(Geeze this took a long time to write...shame no one will see it.)

Well, I read it, and rather liked it.

Hi Lloyd,

Me, too - second WW post.

re: "It is a little unseemly, however, to use the language of fear to try and move people to a morally indefensible position: that these people should not be allowed to have rights because the west does not want to adapt to the new reality."

I believe there is a legitimate concern regarding the question: Will new regimes will be better guarantors of human rights and civil liberties than the old?

That's about it, (IMVHO), in terms of morally defensible positions.

This concern does not, of course, justify anything, per se - especially previous treatment.

As someone who opines that the general reality of human rights is often unrecognized, WRT women's basic safety and rights, eg., what is euphemistically-termed "domestic violence" (i.e., the physical battery of women by their spouses), on a world-wide basis, the view looks a little bit different.

A general principle of fundamental civil liberties allows for the expansion of rights and the recognition of groups, such as females and children.

From the POV of these groups, the principle is critical.

to use the language of fear to try and move people to a morally indefensible position

Hi Aniya,

You say you want to know the truth?

There is a little spot in the human brain called the amygdala.

Once you trigger it, all rational thought goes out the window.

The art of triggering the amygdala is a well honed political science.

Try a couple of these political lines out for size:

Mushroom Cloud Monday
Them that hates us for our freedoms
Unknown unknowns
Death panels pulling the plug on grandma
Taking "my" country away from me and my kind


Recent research suggests that parasites, in particular toxoplasma, form cysts in the brain of rats, often taking up residence in the amygdala. This may provide clues as to how specific parasites may contribute to the development of disorders, including paranoia.

Gets worse. It seems that pets such as cats infected by rats can then infect their owners.

Dr. Glenn McConkey (lead researcher on a team from the United Kingdom's University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences) who explains therein:

"Toxoplasmosis changes some of the chemical messages in the brain, and these changes can have an enormous effect on behaviour [emphasis added]. Studies have shown there is a direct statistical link between incidences of schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis infection� toxoplasmosis infection - which is more common than you might think - can impact on the development of the condition in some individuals."...

...The 2003 Guardian article goes on to report the following: "Results from studies of students and conscript soldiers in the Czech Republic in the mid-1990s highlighted the fact that infected people showed different personality traits to non-infected people - and that the differences depended on sex. Infected men were more likely to be aggressive, jealous and suspicious, while women became more outgoing and showed signs of higher intelligence."(7)

One of the Czech researchers quoted in this article, Jaroslav Flegr (professor of parasitology involved in research at Charles University in Prague) apparently takes the subject seriously enough, especially when it comes to the effect Toxoplasmosis allegedly has in slowing down infected persons' reaction times with regard to driving. Flegr even goes so far as to say that car accidents resultant from Toxoplasmosis infections have resulted in a not-so-insignificant death toll: "If our data are true then about a million people a year die just because they are infected with toxoplasma."(8)


Oh no, the government, or maybe its the pet food industry, is using cute little kittens to control our minds to promote xenophobic paranoia! Hey didn't the Egyptians consider cats to be gods, going as far as mummifying them?! ... >;^)

So the Roman Empire collapsed due to lead in their aqueducts

The Egyptian Empire collapsed due to having cat sh*t for brains ?

What will our epitaph say?

American Empire: 1945-2012 collapse attributed to mega-mall mania, an irrational love for mega mall shopping centers; believed to be linked to ingestion of mad cow prions spread by fast food chains found in such malls

Bast requires offerings.


As always the reality is usually quite boring so here's my predictions: (10 gallon hat ready incase I have to eat it)

Bahrain - will be settled with some sort of autocratic compromise.
Lybia - you will be shot dead if you start messing!
Yemen - your hands will be cut off if you start messing!
Others - aptahy.

International response; 'would you be awfully nice and stop massacaring your poeple, thanks.' (In silent quotes "lets not annoy king Abdullah Omar Achmed Al Balahama al Bashirir the 16th too much lest I can't fill up my SUV with petrol"


Marco, you might be right, but there are two mitigating factors (new since the beginning of the year) that are fueling the fires: Tunisia and Egypt.

Two well-established and well-financed dictators have been removed from office in two countries b/c of protests and demonstrations. Nothing like success to breed success.

Right, hardly anyone could have predicted what happened in Egypt. It was practically unthinkable.

This has even spread to Iraq:


It is indeed a political miracle! I realy hope this will continue.

It is indeed a political miracle! I realy hope this will continue.

While, I share the sentiment, I also fear things may not turn out so well. Expectations will be raised -and mostly dashed, then people will react in ways that are both production and counterproductive. Meanwhile in a country like Eqypt, it is going to be hard to keep the economy going until the situation sorts itself out, and the uncertainty dies away.

I think though there are some fairly stark differences between Tunisia/Egypt and the other gulf states such as the royal hierarchy, family wealth etc..maybe someone else can comment on this as i'm out of my field here?

Not a single date drops from a palm tree in Egypt (and the NAME) unless a CIA agent kicks the trunk.
So far it is 2-Nil for the State Dept, but the game is not yet over.

So much for an autocratic compromise in Bahrain:

(Warning - viewer discretion advised) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3WRKoZPPao

As far as Libya goes... you might be a little closer:

84 reported dead in Libyan protests: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/2011219811665897.html

Yep, thats an autocratic compromise! Seriously it will come though. It would take direct international intervention in the case of Bahrain and that's not going to happen even if they keep on shooting.

Yeah, I do fear a lot more bloodshed for relatively little ground. But then again it's hard to know just how crucial the psychological influence of the unprecedented Egyptian/Tunisian revolutions will be. Especially when the memory is fresh and the momentum high.

Seems like US backed, authoritarian dictators throughout the Middle east are running into resistance from the people these days. I wonder if the roar of angry crowds can be heard from US military installations in Bahrain yet? You can be sure these protesters will be encounter lethal resistance, this is the doorstep of US imperialist naval operations. The average US citizen has no idea how much hate and anger we've fomented with our foreign policy, it's not covered in our media. Oil prices could go anywhere now, I wouldn't rule out supply disruptions either.

The spice must flow and, whatever, happens, there must be a rationale for continued increased military spending every year out to infinity. If we had a serious alternative to our reliance on the middle east, that would put a hole in the rationale for the absurdity of increased Defense expenditures.

Bahrain is a microcosm of what is happening in America, the war between the haves and the have nots. The supporters of the regime sound like the supporters of the corporatocracy in the U.S.

Getting off middle east oil would seemingly be beneficial. But too many pigs would find their troth taken away. So it ain't gonna happen.

And the regime is once more shooting dead unarmed protesters.

Clearly this is the line in the sand for the existing ME regimes.

Will the people back down again or will they keep on standing up the mark, Ghandi style, until Western liberal opinion filters through to the controllers of the purse strings and they decide to cut their losses, as they did in Egypt?

Seems like we may need to start watching our own back

US Army Wants Machine Gun Rubber Bullets for Crowd Control

The US Army is planning to field “rubber bullets” for machine guns. Military officials claim the ammunition will allow them to more effectively quell violent protests without loss of life, but human rights campaigners are alarmed by the new weapon.

“The US army has a requirement for a rapid-fire non-lethal capability,” says Ken Schulters, project manager for close combat systems at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. “All currently fielded non-lethal ammunition is single shot.”

Solicitation Number: W15QKN-11-R-B005

"“All currently fielded non-lethal ammunition is single shot.”"

I'm making that into a bumper-sticker.

I think I am going to also just blurt that out at random once in a while while walking past people in the halls at work.

Like the sticker I saw last week...it may be an old one. "Gun control is a steady hand".

“The US army has a requirement for a rapid-fire non-lethal capability,”


Teller at Bloodbath and Beyond;
"I'm sorry Mr. Simpson, but there's a three-day waiting period in this state to purchase a firearm.."

"But I'm angry NOW!!"

Let 'em eat rubber!


shooting dead unarmed protesters.

I'm picturing armless zombie protesters moaning "Chaaaaaannnnnnggge".....

Clearly this is the line in the sand for the existing ME regimes.

Nearly every entrenched power structure fights others who want to replace 'em. How often on TOD is the methods of oil firms discussed WRT them no longer being relevant in the future?

Will the people back down again

The answer isn't blowing in the wind, but "how close are you to the bottom so you have nothing to lose?" The larger the GINI coefficient the less "backdown" will happen.

Where this will get interesting is when the people who have the power to inflict damage to citizens decide to use that power as a way of diverting attention from the problems created by the same.

some real people expressing what they want. Multiply this by tens of millions, Billions?;


Bahrain is not a simple case of good/evil. The Bahrain government is
pretty liberal - there is even a Hindu temple in Bahrain! The problem
here is all Shia-Sunni. I think that Iranian provocateurs are at work in
this case.

Power is rarely good or evil all by itself - whether it is is exercised by duly elected officials, absolute monarchs, or ruthless tyrants. Virtue and vice blend quite nicely together in the murky and messy world of give-and-take politics. It very well could be that King Hamad of Bahrain has shown himself a benign and tolerant leader but right now, without a representative legislature or elected officials to offer feedback, he is highly vulnerable and running scared. Fear drives anger and diminishes reasonable thought and that's what's happening in both the palace and on the streets of Manama.

Perhaps King Hamad has provided good governance in his time. All that will mean nothing in the face of brutal reaction against dissent. This crackdown does not bode well for either his regime or his people.

Is Iran being a provocateur here? Probably, but then as the chief Shi-ite power in the region, such a role would be a natural (albeit irritating) adjunct and outgrowth to its foreign policy. The government in Tehran, actively engaged or not, would by popular demand and political instincts be inclined to back Shia aspirations everywhere. No different today than last week or three months ago.

I would be hesitant to dismiss Bahrain's struggle as somehow Iran's doing. What's happening everywhere in the Middle East (including inside Iran ) is too big of a phenomenon. My hunch is that prime culprit # 1 for King Hamad's troubles is the success of recent events in Tunisia and Egypt.

A major player in all of the is the combination of disparity in wealth and the recent rise in food prices.

""Fear drives anger and diminishes reasonable thought and that's what's happening in both the palace and on the streets of Manama.""

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

Let's hope they choose wisely......

The Martian.

Time for my favorite quote:

"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

Bernanke worries about cash bubble

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that unbalanced flows of money between nations is again posing a risk to the global economy and financial stability.

Speaking in Paris to a Bank of France conference, the Fed chairman said the uneven flow of funds into the United States from 2003 to 2007 was one of the key factors that led to the meltdown in financial markets in 2008.

I'm thinking 'flows of money' has alot to do with 'flows of oil'.

Or maybe it's just a coincidence that oil [Brent] has topped $100 US

Bernanke should be worried about going to prison after a Fed audit.

Is it possible that Bernanke is evil?

And please, I don't mean that in some sort of religious/moral sense. What I mean is this: is it possible that Bernanke knows full well that he is helping to cause unrest and starvation, believes that this is a small price to pay to recapitalize the banks (and may even help solve the population and obesity problem), and will lie to everyone while doing it?

Latest Pentagon Brainstorm: Nuke-Powered War Bases

Buried within Darpa’s 2012 budget request under the innocuous name of “Small Rugged Reactor Technologies” is a $10 million proposal to fuel wartime Forward Operating Bases with nuclear power. It springs from an admirable impulse: to reduce the need for troops or contractors to truck down roads littered with bombs to get power onto the base. It’s time, Darpa figures, for a “self-sufficient” FOB.

To fit on a FOB, which can be anywhere from Bagram Air Field’s eight square miles to dusty collections of wooden shacks and concertina wire, the reactor would have to be “well below the scale of the smallest reactors that are being developed for domestic energy production,” Darpa acknowledges.

And that can never, ever go badly...what with FOB's being targets in war....

In order for this to work, you (likely) need to have highly enriched Uranium. This is a problem if something were to happen to the base, the materials for a nuke go into the wrong hands.

Also, this sucker will have highly radioactive material in it. This is bad on two counts: 1) a well placed IED and you have a nasty radioactive mess in a friendly base and 2) if the base falls (see above) a dirty bomb is very easy to construct from this (in fact, trivial).

Shielding isn't a problem- you could find local materials to put around it (if it's generating power, I will likely be fixed) but removing the damned thing at the end when it's hot with radiation might be quite a b!tch.

but removing the damned thing at the end when it's hot with radiation might be quite a b!tch.

Maybe, thats a feature, not a bug! We must continue the occupation for ever in order to safeguard you from our rad waste!

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'hot zone'

So are aircraft carriers.


Guess what the 'N' in CVN stands for.

Not a problem?

The problem is, the shielding which would be required. That was the same problem which killed the nuclear powered airplane. There was a proposal to build a nuclear powered cruse missile (Project Pluto), which would was intended to fly long distances without refueling. That was before the days of intercontinental ballistic missiles. I recall that the craft would pose great danger to anyone on the ground nearby or below while in flight, since there would be no shielding for the reactor...

E. Swanson

It's called "tossing some dirt on it."

Seriously, have the men dig a 12 foot hole, fill it in with some concrete, line it to avoid leaching, and then put the reactor in there, cover the rest of the chamber with dirt.


I like nuclear power but this idea is way too "Sovjet".

The Report from NDU Small Nuclear Reactors for Military Installations: Capabilities, Costs, and Technological Implications
Key Points

Without Department of Defense (DOD) intervention, the United States runs the risk of a small reactor market dominated by foreign countries, further eroding U.S. commercial nuclear power capabilities and damaging U.S. control over nuclear energy proliferation.

DOD has recently expressed interest in the possibility of integrating small nuclear reactors on military bases as part of its strategy to “island” bases from the fragile civilian power grid.

Small nuclear reactor technology offers a host of benefits over traditional large reactors—namely, a smaller footprint, scalable design, factory-based construction, portability, and passive safety features.

DOD has a chance to become a “first mover” in the emerging small reactor market; by providing assistance and guidance to the private sector, DOD can ensure that successful designs meet its operational needs.

They tried that. It was called SL-1.


Hopefully they will do better the second time. They could not do much worse.

I'm beginning to get the same feeling that probably some people in Jonestown felt when they were passing out the kool-aid.

Something like "There are crazy people here and they're trying to kill us".

To wit: House Republicans Fire White House Climate Advisers as Frenzied Budget Debate Continues

And add to wit: "Mish says:

"Proving that government stupidity has no upper bounds, Mike "In Tokyo" notes Japan Wasted $78 Billion on Global Warming Research in six years," says MISH.

tngential, but interesting, from the same link:

Sales Tax Cut Proponents Win Landslide Victories

Those seeking evidence that Mike "In Tokyo" has it correct need only read Japan's two-party system is collapsing:

Tokyo - Landslide victories for independent candidates in local elections in central Japan earlier this month shocked the nation's two major parties and revived public doubt about the nascent two-party system.

'It is the beginning of the collapse of the two-party system,' Minoru Morita, a veteran political analyst, said...

Consripacy theory of the day: The AGW 'deniers' are paid Shills of the AGW industry to perpertuate the AGW debate so that the research money keeps flowing. - nice one eh?

Lets face it what would happen if they all came to an agreement on AGW and all the research was stopped - would 1000's of climate scientist suddenly turn themselves into engineers and policy makers so they still got a wage? - now that is a serious question.


/tin foil hat off.

Mish is having trouble with reading comprehension. From the actual story from the Japan Times, we find this:

None of the government's 214 biomass promotion projects — with public funding coming to ¥6.55 trillion — over the past six years has produced effective results in the struggle against global warming, according to an official report released Tuesday.

Biomass projects? Aren't those also about providing energy to a nation which has few available alternatives and which must import most of that which it uses? Those projects might help with global warming, but they could also tend to reduce Japan's already low use of energy, which is about half that per capita of other industrial nations, such as the US and Canada. that is, if they had proved workable...

E. Swanson

Prof. Holdren to address Congress: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12508050

For the time being, Professor Holdren faces a more sceptical Congress than he would like, and one that proposes a series of congressional hearings to assess the science of climate change.

Professor Holdren says he is relishing the opportunity.

"Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that - and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.

"If Congress wants to have a series of hearings to illuminate these issues, they are going to get illuminated."

Lets hope those in Congress qualify as 'reasonable'.

Logic doesn't work when someone has already made up their mind. I expect Holdren to be disappointed but hope I'm wrong.

When entering an arena, the gladiator has to apprise himself of the local circus rules.

In the arena of a Congressional hearing it is the Congress-critters who get to swing their swords first by throwing forth questions that try to "frame" the debate into a framework of their liking and in a direction that will please their constituents.

Expect the Republican end of Congress to frame the issue in terms of economic "growth", jobs and money chasing hoaxters.

Scientists are often totally unskilled in the art of rhetoric and verbal warfare. On the other hand, Congress-critters are jujitsu masters in this form of combat.

The trick at a Congressional hearing is to never take the bait that the adverse Congress-critter throws at you. Never accept his or her framing of the issues. Once you do, you are sunk.

Domestic Dispute: Why Britain Is Soft on Squatters

Last August, Kayne Manning and his fiancée were days away from moving into their first home on the outskirts of London when their lives suddenly took a turn for the absurd. Their estate agent called to tell them that at least two squatters had moved into the house that Manning had recently purchased and were claiming the property as their own. Manning held the deed to the property, but thanks to Britain's arcane squatting law, he was powerless to kick them out. "We went to see a solicitor who told us we needed a possession order from a barrister, and it would take several weeks and a few thousand pounds in fees to get the squatters out," he says. "The whole thing was surreal — it was our house!"

...Peter Sparkes, a professor at the University of Southampton's School of Law, says that British laws favor squatters' rights because "if you go back in history, there was no way other than possession to prove ownership." To this day, Sparkes points out, British law holds that if a squatter is left undisturbed for 12 years, he or she gains ownership of the property. According to Anne Power, a professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, in the decades following World War II, the government tolerated squatting because it provided housing for citizens who had lost their homes to German air raids.

"British law" does not favour squatter's rights. The law of England & Wales does, whereas Scots law does not.

Although much legislation applies equally on both sides of the border, civil law is generally different. The difference is particularly notable in property law.

Honestly, I have limited sympathy for people who's vacant second homes and such get squatted in by homeless or poor people... America could do well to protect squatters like Britain does, maybe there would be fewer people on the streets.

In societies where there is no lack of housing, no lack of money, and no lack of goods in reality but on the bottom there is a lack of all of these things, then squatting is, in my view, morally correct. Homeless people need housing a lot more than rich people need their 5th house - even more so in the case of various totally abandoned properties, residential, commercial, and industrial, which aslo get taken over by squatters. We have the ability to provide everyone with a place to live in our society, and we should do it. Instead we argue over whether they "deserve it" while bankers and media figures keep adding new zeros to their salaries and savings.

On the other hand, dispossessing people from their ONLY house in wrong. TIME took a case more like that, where the couple is clearly sympathetic (it's their first home, etc). The fact that the squatters tried to break back in after the couple moved in as well is not very nice, to put it mildly. In parts of the US they would likely have been shot if they tried that.

Canada confirms major cyber attack

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp said hackers using China-based servers last month had broken into computer systems at the finance department and treasury board.

...David Skillicorn, a professor of computing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said one target might have been data about Canada's booming commodities industry.

"If we guess it was the Chinese with some economic motivation, then presumably they're interested in some decision the government might be making on taxes or budgets that will impact contracting with some Canadian mining company, or something like that," Skillicorn told the Reuters news agency.

CBC said the hackers had also gained access to an agency that advises the armed forces on science and technology

UK firms blamed for food price hike

Banks and hedge funds in London are coming under increasing scrutiny over their practice of speculating on food prices.

The allegation is that financial institutions are buying up vast stocks of food, thereby forcing prices to rise.

This comes as food costs are increasing the world over. And as the revolt in Tunisia and other countries has shown, there is a social price to pay for this kind of rise.

Bloomberg is currently quoting NYMEX oil at $86.06 and you are showing it at $90??

The data you are pointing to are the NMEX data for March delivery, CLH11.NYM. The graph in the RH corner shows data for April delivery, CLJ11.NYM, which closed at $89.94. Further out in time, the prices are trending higher...

E. Swanson

Operators are standing by...

New invention can turn your plastic bags into fuel at home

A Japanese inventor has found a way to convert plastic grocery bags, bottles and caps into usable petroleum.

The machines conversion process can turn two pounds of plastic into one quart of oil, using only one kilowatt-hour of energy. The crude oil produced can then either be used in a power generator or be further refined into gasoline, though one would need a second machine to complete the refining process and create gasoline.

Many home users will be deterred by the initial cost, since the machine currently runs about $10,000. The developer hopes that the cost will be reduced as the demand for the device increases.

Wonder what the EROEI is for this puppy?

Not taking into account the manufacturing of either the plastic bags or the machine:

In --> 1 kWh electricity = 3.6x10^6 J

Out --> 1 quart of crude = 3.6X10^7 J

So EROEI of 10:1.

You are leaving out the energy that went into making the 2 lb of plastic. Factor that in and the EROEI is probably negative :(

Sure, but if you were going to just bury the plastic bags in a landfill anyway then it could make sense?

Depends how intense the machine manufacturing process is.

Of course to break even on the capital cost you'd have to make a lot of quarts! And you also have a lot of effort collecting plastic, and distributing product.

This is probably one of those things that makes sense for a military forward operating base, where a small decrease in the amount of fuel that needs to be trucked in is a big deal. The ordinary rules of economics don't apply in those situations.

Yeah, I think economically it's a no-go!


(Yet Another Thermal De-Polymerization Scam)

They come around every couple of years like clockwork.

Let me say right up front that I have no exertise in this field-but going from what I have been able to find out about TDP , it does work, if there is a sufficient supply of reasonably homogenous cheap feedstock.

It is my understanding-quite possibly flawed of course-that the one good sized plant built in St Louis iirc, failed for two reasons- uncontrolled odors being one. That could have been solved by building the plant out in the boonies someplace in need of jobs; paper mills in days gone by were said to stink like money, as found in pay envelopes.

The other, bigger problem was that the price of the feedstock, which was supposedly going to be dirt cheap, being mainly slaughter house offal from a turkey processing plant, unexpectedly rose thru the roof. Such slaughter house wastes are of course used in in manufacturing pet foods,fertilizers, and livestock feeds-including turkey feed.

Thermodynamics man, thermodynamics.

What about thermodynamics? Sure it's not as efficient as using the crude directly in the first place, but if you're just going to chuck the plastic waste in the landfill anyway then what's the problem?


If one considers the energy content of the feedstock to be free (i.e., waste material from some other process), then 85 units of energy are made available for every 15 units of energy consumed in process heat and electricity. This means the "Energy Returned on Energy Invested" (EROEI) is (6.67), which is comparable to other energy harvesting processes. Higher efficiencies may be possible with drier and more carbon-rich feedstocks, such as waste plastic.

That could have been solved by building the plant out in the boonies someplace in need of jobs

I don't think that would work. The reason the factory had to be where it was was that it had to be near the chicken processing plant. Otherwise, shipping the feedstock would have eaten up all the profit.

It sounds to me like the process was simply much harder and more expensive than they thought it would be. They couldn't just throw in turkey parts; each batch had to be carefully balanced in order to get a usable product. They thought the rising price of oil was great news for them, not realizing that would increase their costs just as much.

Last I heard, they were relocating to Europe, because of the more generous subsidies. Apparently, it was impossible to be profitable without them.

Such wet biological waste is highly in demand for biogas producers, high fat and high protein gives a boost to a mix with cheaper substrate with manure and various carbohydrates.

Making biogas is a fairly low energy process that gives a realy good but a little cumbersome to handle wehicle fuel and realy good fertilizer.

I hope they are moving to somewhere else then Sweden since there are better processes to subsidize both economicaly and ecologicaly.

I do however have higher hopes for "liquification" of waste such as food contaminated plastic packages but such a process has to compete with burning in a CHP plant or mixing in the flow for soon to be built gasification plants.

It's springtime - it must be their migration season.

It does have a passing resemblance to Dr. Brown's Mr Fusion (the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor converted household waste to power)

GSwift7's comment breaks it down a bit:

GSwift7 - 4 hours ago Rank: 5 / 5 (2)

This sounds really stupid. Take a look at this breakdown:

Their web site says that the machine can convert 1kg/time (which I assume means 1kg/hr, since the other machines on the page are in kg/hr). That equates to about 2.2 lbs of plastic per hour. That should yield (optimally) .275 gal/hr. Heating oil is really high now ($3.59/gallon), so the machine makes $0.98725 per hour. Subtract $0.11 per kilowatt in electricity, makes $0.88/hr (rounded). To pay for a $10k machine at that rate would take 11,364 hours (1.3 years of continuous operation) and 25,000 lbs of plastic, and that's just get out of negative cost. That is assuming the machine produces high $ oil, but I think it needs further refining to get home heating quality oil like the type I priced above. That would make the break even numbers even longer, but I don't have the exact figures for that.

Look up Thermal depolymerization on wiki for more info.

What are the by-products of this process? Maintenance costs?

The machines conversion process can turn two pounds of plastic into one quart of oil, using only one kilowatt-hour of energy. The crude oil produced can then either be used in a power generator or be further refined into gasoline, though one would need a second machine to complete the refining process and create gasoline.

Brilliant! Does this guy get free electricity? If not then that's got to be one of the stupidest most wasteful uses of energy that I've ever heard of! Using electricity to transform plastic into oil, to run a generator to produce electricitry?!

For about $10,000 I can put in a 3KW off grid Solar PV system that will generate clean silent energy for a long time.

16 SUN Solar Panel 185 Watts 17.30 Vmp $1.69 / Watt $5,002.40
12 Battery - USP-U-225C U.S. Power 225 Amp Hour 6V $1,349.40
8 1 Foot Battery Cable - BC-1, 2/0 AWG $65.28
4 Breaker - MNEPV20 $41.60
4 Solar Panel Cable - MC-4 Connectors 30ft Evergreen and Kyocera $150.96
2 5 Foot Inverter Cable - BC-5, 2/0 AWG $71.40
2 MNEDC60 $32.00
2 C60 $299.88
1 Lightning Arrestor - LA302DC Delta 600VAC $40.00
1 MNPV6 $93.84
1 MNDC250 $188.00
1 Xantrex Trace 3600VA Off Grid Inverter Charger TR3624-120-60 $1,048.00

Total $8,382.76

Mounting Hardware extra, Labor DIY, system designed for warm climates.
Disclaimer: I'm not selling this system these are off the shelf prices form a local retailer in my area.

They lost me when I realized how many plastic bags and bottles it takes to make a kilo. Besides, I hoard plastic bags, have hundreds in storage. They don't take up much space and are good for many things, like tying tomatos, protecting seedlings from frost and collecting eggs ;-)

Geez things are still cheap over in the States.. the same would cost about £12k or more here in the UK (~$20k)

But back to the original point, I don't think the idea is that it's a great way to produce electricity, but more as a better/more efficient way to dispose of unwanted plastic. I suppose you could send your unwanted plastic bags/bottles to be recycled by a government scheme but you wouldn't see much return on that..

Of course at $10k a pop for the machine there's no way it's currently economically viable.

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering whether it would be worth my while importing those solar components to put on my roof...

The headline made me think of something akin to "the stages of grief", in which case the article may be getting ahead of itself. The first stage of Loss/Grief is "Denial", and its been clear for quite a while that the country is stuck at step 1...

At the beginning of a weekend when the wheels are coming off the bus from Djibouti to Morocco to Jordan to Libya to Iran to Iraq to Yemen to Bahrain, the United States practices business as usual by vetoing a United Nations' resolution condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands. The other members of the Security Council - including Britain and France - had enough pragmatic gumption to endorsed the motion.

US vetoes UN vote on settlements

Apparently, the administration's influence on Palestinian authority's leader Mahmoud Abbas was not enough to have the motion withdrawn. As a result, the U.S. found itself once again posited as Israel's diplomatic handmaiden. Keystone cops have had better timing.

This on top of America's two-fold and inconsistent response to government crackdowns: velvet gloves for friends (Egypt, Bahrain) and strong condemnation for enemies (Iran). Such contradictions have not gone unnoticed particularly in press stories by Al Jazeera.

Incidentally, Kuwait has decided to join the fun tonight. Kuwait's stateless rally for rights Casualties are being reported.

Obama, when he assumed office in January 2009, was seen as the smart guy moving into the White House. His "Yes, We Can" rhetoric made many hope that despite impossible odds, the impossible could be achieved by having a competent and wise leader deciding on matters of great importance.

He's achieving the impossible alright: he's making George Dubya's presidency look brilliant.

As a backhanded compliment, and perhaps to his credit, the Arabs on mass have picked up on the "Yes, We Can" mindset to raise their collective voices against long simmering grievances.

Maybe the president should head somewhere quiet for a nice restful weekend - let's say Wisconsin.

methinks your quite justified disappointment about President Obama's performance in certain areas led you to over-reach considerably with this comment:

He's achieving the impossible alright: he's making George Dubya's presidency look brilliant.

I hardly think either a notional third term of GWB/Cheney or a first term of McCain/Palin would have done better...perhaps we would be tossing bombs into even more countries by now.

I'm not sure where you are going with your last sentence....maybe he should get a Ranch in Texas and go there frequently and clear brush when he tires of the Beltway scene.

I hardly think either a notional third term of GWB/Cheney or a first term of McCain/Palin would have done better...

Yes, I agree. That's what's making the impossible (Dubya's brilliance) so startling.

Obama's administration is not like its predecessor insofar as it tries to "think" its way through problems. Dubya, and more to the point Cheney and Rumsfeld, were (perhaps it's safe-to-say) by-the-gut tacticians. The chief concern with the present cerebral and somewhat cautious and careful diplomatic approach is that this comes across as vacillation and indecisiveness; more to the point, indecisiveness between principle and realpolitik.

To give the devils their dues, at least with Bush/Cheney everybody knew realpolitik was their primary directive. I'm not sure if anyone (especially anybody on the front lines) is making much sense of the guarded statements being issued by the President and State Department officials.

America's relevance on the scene is becoming less and less a factor and this, in turn, feeds into the frenzy. And as much as I welcome "reform" on the ground in the Middle East (it's long overdo), I think it would be a shame if America ends up forfeiting its leadership role to guide this along.

My chief concern tonight - and I hope I'm wrong - is that the U.S. supportive position for Israel, as reasoned and consistent as it may be, will reduce U.S. leverage in the region even further.

My quip at the end is meant as a reminder that our current economic squeeze is not just about "discontent" in the Middle East. Discontent is ripe at home in America too. My words may come across as a bit sarcastic, but I'm somewhat fascinated and intrigued by the irony of what is taking place.

US foreign policy in the Middle East has alway been self-contradictory, since it was based on our relationships with Israel for military dominance and with Saudi Arabia for oil.

We will fall between two stools.

The real stool in this political pigeon game is that we done run out of our own oil and now we desperately need theirs.

I suppose with our best minds passing legislation such as this for U.S. Americans then there is zero hope for the U.S. leading the promotion of population control for other countries in the World:


Pence's plan, which will likely stall in the Senate, would mean the end of federal support for an organization that each year provides more than 800,000 women with breast exams, more than 4 million Americans with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and 2.5 million people with contraception, which, not for nothing, is the stuff that prevents unintended pregnancy, and thus abortion, to begin with.

The deleterious effects of far-too-high population levels are not on the radar for the vast majority of humans.

There are two ways to reduce population - either by reducing births or by increasing deaths. Apparently, the latter is turning out to be the more palatable solution by certain elected officials.

Allow as many births as people want, but then deny medical care after that. Life expectancy is already falling in the US. I guess that will solve the Social Security funding problem too.


The protesting in Wisconsin is linked to State budgets which is linked to the financial crash which is linked to too much federal debt which is linked to rising oil prices which is linked to peak oil.

Obama and Pelosi are blaming this Wisconsin problem on taking of union rights?????

Wisconsin should be allowed to balance their own budget without comments from Obama and Pelosi.
What do they know - their states Illinois and California are in the worst financial crisis in the whole U.S.; and they are giving advice on finances????? Go back to D.C. and be quiet....

The WI budget situation may be complex than that.

In fact, its budget difficulties were, in large part, created by Walker and his legislative allies. As The Times pointed out this morning (in an editorial entitled "Gov. Walker's Pretext"), the governor "is refusing to accept his own share of responsibility for the state's projected $137 million shortfall." The editorial continued:

Just last month, he and the Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus.


I do not have the ground truth of how WI's budget got to where it is now, and perhaps you might not either. There are usually at least two sides to most issues.

I saw an exchange on the TV machine today where one of the WI legislators said that the unions in question accepted the governor's demanded pay cuts, benefit cuts, and benefit premium hikes, but were insistent on retaining the right for collective bargaining.

Another legislator from the other side of the WI aisle said that the money agreement was one thing, but that the managers of the union workers had the right to not have to collectively bargain with their employees about work rules and conditions.

The exchange seemed to depict the union workers making a major concession and the union-busters going for the kill.

Funny, TX and some other red states have budget problems of their own...'Fair and Balanced"?

I'm sure the Astroturf Tea Party counter-demonstration starting tomorrow will make it all better.

My position here has been consistent: Everyone, including the Middle Class and the poor, can take their share of cuts, as long as the wealthy take their share as well. That does not seem to be the current operating concept in play though.

It's started folks, America's in collapse.

I mean, just pick up any history book or surf through wikipedia to your heart's content. This stuff happens again and again and again. There is no such thing as political stability, what we have enjoyed since the Depression/WW2 is a brief fantasy based on fossil fuels and the corresponding ability to go into debt.

Upheavals, revolutions, displacements, migrations, wars, famines, epidemics. They're back.

Good luck everyone.

Thanks Oilman. Wishing you and all of us the best. Let's try to keep smoothe sailing thru dangerous seas.


I don't think this about balancing the budget. It's about rewarding his supporters and punishing those who voted against him.

If it was really about balancing the budget, then he would have used this as a stick to force unions to the table. "Agree to some sacrifices or I'll take away your collective bargaining rights."

He's also said this will mean no layoffs. If the budget's so bad, why rule out layoffs? Other states are being forced to layoff public workers, why not Wisconsin?

I believe I read a news report that said the Wisc state troopers, firefighters, and police unions supported the governor--and with campaign contributions....and that their groups were not on his
hit list.....surprise,surprise,surprise (name that TV character!)

I was listening to a citizen reporting on the ground to a radio show a couple of days ago in Madison, when a large group of Madison firefighters marched through with signs expressing their solidarity with the other union workers.

Perhaps they realized that they would be next after accepting the deal with the devil.

Of course numerous Federal GS workers I work with cackled with each other about how they wished they could form a posse to hunt down the 'on the lamb' Democratic WI legislators and haul them back in irons...there were some quips about using night sticks and tasers etc.

Then they started talking about how the protesters were a public menace and should be quelled...I got bad vibes that some of these reactionary fascist-leaning folks were having visions of another Kent State...their answer to freedom of assembly and petition to redress grievances seems to always be cops and troops with guns ready to pull the trigger to restore order and discipline.

should buy these folks some brown shirts.

I am really worried about the number of people out there with violence issues.

Little do these goldbricks know that they are next...they already are on a two-year pay freeze (Fed GS)...wait ill their retirement and health care costs go way up while their benefits go way down. It will be interesting watching them take the same medicine as is being poured down the throats of State workers now.

My favorite union during the financial crisis were the classical metal workers union that once were the most die hard socialists. During the very sharp decline in sales during the financial crisis did they do creative stuff like accepting temporary 20 % pay cuts and four day weeks in exchange for employers not sacking people from lack of work. This saved a lot of jobs, ongoing development projects within the corporations and allowed for a much faster reboud after the crisis.

This is about a coordinated effort throughout the country to destroy the unions. Destroy the unions and you destroy the Democratic party. Wisconin is the birthplace of unions and the birthplace of things many of us hold dear like the weekend, for example. The governor reduced taxes as soon as he took office which created an instant deficit. And then he says they are broke. If you can destroy unions in Wisconsin, you can destroy them anywhere.

We used to have a phenomenon called labor unrest. It is being reborn in Wisconsin and will, hopefully, thrive. It is past time that people took to the streets.

Yes, I'm reminded of that vanishing middle class article. A big reason is the fall in union membership. Which was probably driven mostly by globalization. The very wealthy have gotten a lot wealthier, while the ordinary people have gotten poorer.

Public workers are among the last bastion of unions, mainly because taxpapers drew the line when they tried to offshore government work. I've noticed that a lot of people who have benefited from unions and who think ordinary workers should be paid more and rich CEOs less are anti-union. That's how successful the anti-labor campaign has been.

The argument is that we have labor laws now, we don't need unions to protect worker rights. Which reminds me of the arguments about how we don't need Glass-Steagall any more.

Greetings, TODers,

I'm wondering what you all thought of the petition up top:


1) "Say the words “peak oil.”
2) Explain frankly to his fellow citizens that peak oil will have profound implications for our economy, our national security and the future of the American experiment in the family of nations. But it’s a challenge we can meet.
3)Call on the American people to join him in an all-out effort, comparable to what America did to put a man on the moon in the 1960s, to promote clean energy and conservation to reduce America’s dependence on oil by 50% in ten years."

To me, it's in need of specifics in the "call" section.

Also, does the promotion of "clean energy" and "conversation" actually address the looming and never-ending decline?

From my POV, we need much more than this.

I'm curious - would the sponsors of this petition be willing to lend their names to this one, as well?


If not, why not?

That's what I'm wondering.

For the record, internet petitions have historically not worked out very well. This backs up the adage that you get out in proportion to the effort you put into some project. Petitions have little start up cost, thus they proliferate and no one pays any attention to them anymore.

My advice is to get some deep analysis to congressional staffers or to agency people and let them pass it on. We need to get the information to the right hands, ideally to someone who can recognize the effort, and then hopefully they will champion it to their superiors.


Thanks for your response.

re: "...effort."

First, this online petition was intended as a place to reference the main point: the main point is the National Academy of Sciences to weigh in on peak oil, especially on impacts and what measure may still be possible in the (IMVHO) short time we have.

Why? Because we need an objective scientific body that is exactly in the role of the NAS in relation to the USA and the world.

Second, the NAS can be directed to undertake a study in any one of several ways: Presidential directive, Congressional directive, any State government can request a study AND the NAS itself can make some noise. Studies cost money, but not that much. In this case, most of the work has already been done, and it's a matter of compiling it and reviewing it.

Third, the idea also is for the NAS panel to remain convened as the crises worsens.

Fourth, so...it's a matter of how many citizens are willing to get in touch with their Congress person. That would do it. It wouldn't take a huge number. Simply a visible and determined number.

Fifth: And here's the real kicker: while your point may be generally valid, this is PO we're talking about. Please read/review/listen to what the following two people have to say:

Peak oil : “A conspiracy to keep it quiet” in Washington, says Robert Hirsch
Interview with Robert L. Hirsch (2/2) - LINK to full text of original


“(Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy) was my boss. He knows all about peak oil, but he can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can't say anything about it.

-- David Fridley, scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, quoted in an article by Lionel Badal (see Peak Oil News, 10/28, item #23)

Second, your point about effort is well-taken, however,

re: "My advice is to get some deep analysis to congressional staffers or to agency people and let them pass it on."

Been there, done that. Also, ASPO did some work early on. I believe they handed out the famous Campbell chart as a poster, along with info. to every single Congressperson.

Also, we have the indefatigable Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R, Md.) He talked. Do they listen?

It simply does not matter. Congress hides behind their desire to have their constituents voice concern. Also, see above.

There is a point to all this.

The strategy of demanding an investigation by the NAS is a doable strategy. Also, scientists could take the lead.

Will you help?

If so, could you please get in touch with me? Info in user profile.

Jimmy Carter tried that game of talking truth to the voting sheeple.

Didn't get him very far.

The idea of being truthful is a quaint and nice one in fairy tales.

In the real world, people lie to each other's faces all the time.

Just turn on the TV and watch a couple of advertisements. Do you need proof more grand than that?

The sad part is that Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men was right. We can't handle the truth.

That is something I realy love about Swedish politics. In the beginning and during the worst parts of the financial crisis did our prime minister and financial minister tell the Swedish people that it is a realy bad situation that can become much worse and we need to have reserves for that and are thus unable to bail out everybody. They then repeadetly talked about this being a dire situation that require hardship and it worked, people muddled thru better and they won the 2010 elections in the wake of the worst financial crisis for a long time.

It did of course help a lot that we had been paying down the government debt since the previous local real estate crash and were able to fund the social services for newly unemploied, could keep all previously planned government investments going and also stimulate the economy some by additional infrastructure investments that thus utilized the overcapacity from halted private construction. I especially like that all the post peak oil relevant investments continued and manny where priortized withing the climate change work.

The government message is still negative, we need to save for the next crash, the government cash flow will probably be in the black again this year. Most of the economical debate is now about the overinflated housing prices, especially in central locations were condos are realy expensive, we probably have a dangerous bubble there and we still have people and corporations lending a lot. Maybe a little late but things are being done about it pre bubble deflation.

Everyting is not good, our military is in disarray and underfunded and we should invest even more in post peak oil infrastructure, but things will be done about it as soon as it is recognized to be a serious problem. ( And things are weird in intellectual rights politics and EU, allways something somewhere... )

But overall I do realy love my right wing government and fellow voters. Its one of the things making me happier when thinking about depressing resource issues. Hurray for a ballanced budget and people caring about reality!

Hi Magnus,

Interesting perspective. I'm unfamiliar with the situation in Sweden and interested in learning about it.

re: "But overall I do realy love my right wing government and fellow voters. Its one of the things making me happier when thinking about depressing resource issues. Hurray for a ballanced budget and people caring about reality!"

Unfortunately, it seems "right wing" and "caring about reality" are not synonymous. Especially in the US.

Although when it comes to "peak," not seeing the facts is apparent all the way around, it seems.

Hi step back,


re: "In the real world, people lie to each other's faces all the time."

Well, I have a little bit different view.

I find it useful to talk about "universal human needs" and then the "strategies" people use to get - or, attempt to get - their needs met.
Something covered here, for reference. www.cnvc.org also, general idea can be found in many other places.

So, people can have a need, say, a need for safety. Or, take your pick. Yes, people lie. In particular, they may choose a "strategy" of lying, in order to meet some other need, such as safety. Or, out of a belief that there is a conflict between one need and the need for truth.

At the same time, my experience is: take TOD, for example. Here is an illustration of the really deep yearning for the truth.

I feel this. And I perceive that many others here do as well.

It's universal. The thing is, my personal opinion is that compassion and honesty, AKA "truth" and "safety"/"love"/"emotional well being" are intertwined.

Easier to tell the truth to someone who accepts you as you are, and really cares. Just to use a rather generic example.

At the same time, as you see: people also often search for meaning, are easily led, want to fit in and all those other things that motivate the public and personal vulnerability in the face of things like advertisements.

However, I would still say: increase compassion, increase the capacity to listen and share...up goes the capacity to recognize truth and deliver it.

Somebody has to do it.

re: Example of Carter. I haven't really thought about it in depth. However, how many votes did Carter get?

So, a number of people did, presumably, hear what he had to say and still managed to tolerate it.

IIRC, the link I attached upthread to "Jimmy Carter" will also answer your question about the 1980 election.

As a general rule, the voting public will vote for the optimist rather than the pessimist every time.

Who wants "doom & gloom" (or malaise) when you can have "hope and change" or that "shining city on the hill"?

As for yearning to learn the true truth, be careful what you ask for, you may not like what you find.

Hi step,

How about "hope and change" given the facts (AKA "peak oil")?

Case in point: the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT),

Here we have preparation for "doom and gloom." People like it - the training empowers people, they make friends in class, and learn useful skills. Check out the newsletter (and that of the Ashland CERT if they ever put the old ones back up) - for examples. People like working in teams, too.

re: true truth.

True love, step. Truth *and* love. or, to quote a local radio personality: "Peace and love, remain strong."

Saving Green Building Green
Can a house in cold Edmonton produce as much power as it consumes? Environmentalists are trying

It’s a cold February morning, with the temperature barely nudging -25C. Inside a Mill Creek home shared by Conrad Nobert, his wife Rechel Amores and their two young children, it’s cool but comfortable. Very comfortable, in fact, if you take into consideration their home doesn’t have a furnace.

See: http://www.seemagazine.com/article/news/news-main/netzero/


The conventional view of economists seems to be that if fossil fuel energy starts becoming much more expensive, the magic of human ingenuity and free market mechanisms will produce a replacement. Most of them don't seem to know much about science or engineering, but their faith in the power of human innovation is limitless. Of course it could turn out that fossil fuel energy is actually an irreplaceable resource.

I am sure that economists are right about the power of free markets and the human inguinity is impressive but it only matter if the markets do something, it wont work out if people have faith in someone else fixing the problem and then do nothing.

Part of human "ingenuity" is that we quickly fool ourselves into believing "they" (the unknown unknowns in the free market) will come up with something.

It's never we, or more to the point "I" who will come up with something.

Yet more troubling is that our young people are habitually accustomed to going to the mega-mall and finding all their "solutions" there, by shopping for it.

A problem with only shopping for solutions is that no corporation realy need consumers, they need paying customers to continue excisting. Those who has noting to pay with becommes irrelevant to the economy and no substantial payment for goods or services starves businesses.

I didn't say that going to the mega-mall and shopping for all "solutions" is right.

I merely said that this the way most people think.

If you got a problem, there's an app to solve it and the Steve Jobs man will provide it to you. "They" always come up with something. No worries.

With that said, you are right.
The smart businessman caters to them who got the gold.
To hell with the public good and the needs of humanity.

Where's the 'Like' button?

I wondered that too. But perhaps it's a deliberate strategy.

Is a U.S. Nuclear Revival Finally Underway?
Four new reactors are under construction in the U.S.--on time and on budget--today

I noted that all of these new units are at existing facilities, with looming decommisioning/refurbishing costs of their older reactors and spent fuel issues. The article mentions the waste storage conundrum.

Pro-nukers often ignore the decomissioning costs of existing reactors and the huge backlog:

In the context of scale, however, the US is most notable. Since 1960, more than 70 test, demonstration and power reactors have been retired, most of them relatively small. The first decommissioning of a commercial nuclear plant was in 1989, and 14 nuclear plants greater than 100 MWe have been shutdown and decommissioned since then. Additionally, during the course of nuclear weapons R&D and production, the Federal Government built and used more than 20 000 facilities. More than 10,000 of these facilities are now surplus to requirements and over 3 000 of them are scheduled for decommissioning. To date, more than 500 have been decommissioned.

The link is somewhat dated but it gives a good sense of the backlog of aging facilities and waste that will be very expensive to address. Until it is, I have my doubts about a 'nuclear revival' saving us.

It is a good thing that the new reactors are going in at existing reactor sites. There is little advantage to putting new reactors at new sites, since cooling towers, water intakes, electrical transmission lines, etc. can all be renovated and expanded for the new capacity.

As for the old reactors and old fuel, there is no particular reason to move them off site.

Vogtle, in Georgia (US) has a nearby pumped storage system, Lakes Sinclair and Oconee:

Lake Sinclair is fed by several creeks and rivers, including Beaver Dam, Crooked, Rooty, Sandy Run, Shoulder Bone, Potato, Island, Rocky, Nancy Branch, Reedy Branch, and Little River. The lake covers over 15,000 acres (61 km²) and has more than 400 miles (600 km) of shoreline with a maximum depth of 90 feet.[citation needed]

In 1979 Lake Oconee was created with the completion of Wallace Dam, which is a pumped-storage reservoir for Lake Sinclair. What this means is that the water is pumped from Lake Sinclair into Lake Oconee, its dam-sharing lake. It is then released through Wallace Dam back into Lake Sinclair - thus generating electricity.

"As for the old reactors and old fuel, there is no particular reason to move them off site."

Jeez! Not for the next 10 millennia or so :-/