Drumbeat: March 19, 2011

World leaders meet to discuss action in Libya

After Gaddafi broke his pledge of a ceasefire overnight, sources close to the Paris talks said military strikes could start as soon as the meeting ends on Saturday afternoon, with France, Britain and Canada in an initial operation and any participation by the United States or Arab nations coming later.

"The strikes could start around 3 or 4 o'clock (10 a.m.-11 a.m. EDT)," one source said, adding that Gaddafi's advance into the eastern city of Benghazi had increased pressure to act fast.

A second source said it was "certainly possible" that strikes would start straight after the meeting.

Gadhafi strikes rebels as diplomats mull action

Moammar Gadhafi took advantage of international indecision to attack the heart of the 5-week-old uprising on Saturday, sending troops, artillery and warplanes to swarm the first city seized by the rebels. Crashing shells shook buildings, and the sounds of battle drew closer to Benghazi's center.

"Where is France, where is NATO?" cried a 50-year-old woman in Benghazi. "It's too late."

Gadhafi: Libyans ready to 'die for me'; forces square off in Benghazi

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Tanks from both pro-government and opposition sides headed toward each other Saturday in the Libyan city of Benghazi as families -- fearing a massacre by the government -- fled the rebel stronghold.

Libya says may give oil deals to China, India

(Reuters) - Libya is considering offering direct oil block contracts to China, India and other nations it considers friends in its month-long conflict with rebels, Libya's top oil official said on Saturday.

Gaddafi could turn to Libya’s mustard gas stockpile, some officials fear

Over the past several weeks, Western reconnaissance satellites have been focused on a small garage at a remote site in the Libyan desert.

In the garage, south of the city of Sirte, the Libyan government keeps around 10 tons of mustard gas in roughly a half-dozen large canisters. If he chose to do so — and could determine how — Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi could use the caustic chemical to kill untold numbers of his own people.

The West practises selective dudgeon

This week, with the world distracted by Japan's mounting calamities, the remote Bahraini royals sent their armed forces into central Manana to crack the democratic heads that have reared recently in what last year was a most unlikely theatre of discord.

...The silence from Western countries has been deafening, a marked contrast with the revulsion delivered in spades to the wacky Gaddafis further west in Libya.

Three killed in Syrian protest

A prominent Syrian activist says three people have been killed and 44 wounded when security forces tried to disperse hundreds of protesters calling for political freedoms in Syria.

Yemen State of Emergency Declared After Deadliest Demonstration

Yemen declared a state of emergency yesterday after government forces attacked protesters in Sana’a in the deadliest crackdown in two months of unrest.

At least 46 people were killed and hundreds injured as police and pro-regime gunmen shot at a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters in the capital’s Taghyeer Square and snipers opened fire from rooftops, doctors treating the wounded said. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the violence, and the opposition called for an international investigation.

Pemex Boosts Oil Production Forecast to 2.6 Million Barrels a Day for 2011

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state- owned oil company, expects 2011 oil production to be more than 2.6 million barrels a day, said Chief Executive Officer Juan Jose Suarez Coppel.

Iran: Oil output hikes won't ease price pressures

(Reuters) - Iran's oil minister said on Saturday any output increase by individual OPEC members aimed at reducing oil price pressures caused by the Libyan crisis would not have the desired effect.

Officials Say Drilling Oversight Feasible Despite Cuts

The state's two top environmental officials told lawmakers that their agencies have enough resources to oversee gas drilling, despite continued cuts to their state funding.

Analysis: Oilsands to play role in growing transport demand

LONDON — The current mix of prices and policies will favour substantial growth in gas-fired electricity generating capacity, and expansion of unconventional oil to meet growing transport demand.

If policy-makers want a different outcome — for example more clean power generation to limit CO2 emissions — they will have to tilt the playing field much more aggressively to provide a different set of incentives.

Pakistan: Passengers suffer as 8 trains run out of fuel

Hundreds of passengers suffered badly on Thursday after Pakistan Railways halted the functioning of more than eight trains running on different routes due to the shortage of fuel.

According to sources, Kohat Passenger Train, Attock City Passenger Train, Khewra Passenger Train and Pind Dadan Khan up and down trains were halted because of non-availability of fuel. “If arrangements for fuel are not made then there is a possibility of closing down all 22 passenger trains operating from Rawalpindi,” sources added.

Japan's Showa Shell starts full output at 4 refineries

(Reuters) - Japanese refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu KK said on Friday that it has started full output at its four group refineries as part of efforts to ease a severe supply shortage after a powerful quake hit northeast Japan a week ago.

Natural Gas Gets Boost Amid New Nuclear Fears

It's too soon to know the outcome of the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant. But watching the events in Japan has already had a profound impact on public perceptions world-wide in at least two ways.

Most obviously, it has deepened popular concerns about the safety of nuclear power. But it has also underlined how dependent modern life in even the richest countries in the world is on a continuous, reliable supply of electricity.

Japan Energy Crisis Shows Need for Diverse Fuels, SunPower Says

Japan’s nuclear crisis underscores the need for a diverse fuel supply, according to executives at SunPower Corp. (SPWRA), the second-largest U.S. solar-module maker.

“Of course these macro events affect public policy,” Thomas Werner, SunPower’s chief executive officer, said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s Washington office. Werner is among Silicon Valley executives meeting members of Congress and the administration this week to push an immigration overhaul, extension of a tax credit for research and development and more spending on energy programs.

German green industries say can fill nuclear gaps

(Reuters) - German renewable industry lobby BEE said on Wednesday it would be able to supply 47 percent of German power requirements by 2020, joining a debate on how to replace nuclear generation capacity.

How Should China Solve Its Energy Problems?

China's economic model propels its energy consumption, concentrated among heavy industry and manufacturing to fuel an export juggernaut. In other words, China's energy problems are a direct outgrowth of being an industrializing "producer," which is the opposite of the U.S., a consumer-led energy guzzler. Viewed this way, it becomes obvious that the energy pattern in each country reflects a major symptom of the central economic imbalance of production and consumption between China and the U.S. It is no surprise then that Beijing persistently argues that China's energy consumption per capita is just one-tenth that of the U.S. So to the extent that China exits its current hyper-industrialization phase and restructures its economy, the process should naturally lead to improvement in what seems to be unbridled energy consumption.

Ohio gov seeks to halve utility watchdog funding

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's proposed budget would cut more than half the funding to a state agency that advocates for residential phone, gas and electric customers at a time when another utility watchdog agency is rescinding some of its rules.

Aerotropolis: The Way We'll Live Next by John D Kasarda and Greg Lindsay – review

Lindsay and Kasarda dismiss the idea that air travel should be curtailed due to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as fatal for economic growth. Similarly, fears about peak oil are countered by the prospect of synthetic fuels. If the oil really does stop flowing, then they believe electrification of cars will allow reserves to be prioritised for aircraft. This dramatic option is one that Laurence Smith also raises in his book, The New North (322pp, Profile, £20). But Smith does not minimise the challenges facing our oil-addicted societies. He points out, for instance, that to meet the expected demand for oil in 2030 we would need to discover the equivalent of nine Saudi Arabias.

Senate Ally Defends Obama on Gas Prices

Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, delivered a long floor speech rebutting claims that Obama administration policies rather than Middle East uncertainties have driven up prices.

Expect Calls for More Drilling, Until Somebody Tells the Truth About Gas Prices

Within the green transportation community there's little argument over whether the longterm interests of the United States and world would be better served by having slightly-to-significantly more expensive gas. Hybrid and electric car owners aren't the only ones who understand this though. Secretary Chu seems to as well, and President Obama himself is almost certainly at least aware of the arguments supporting such a policy (even if it's one he wouldn't touch with a 10-foot poll.)

But in continuing to coddle the public by attributing “high” gasoline prices to temporary factors like political unrest in North Africa, the President is setting himself up to be hit again and again by the “drill baby, drill” crowd.

Long Island’s Coming Energy Crisis

The big news here isn’t that the U.S. government does business with nasty people, for a variety of reasons that sometimes work at cross purposes. No kidding. The real story is that the unrest is exposing, once and for all, that OPEC nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, don’t have the excess production capacity or the deep reserves they’ve claimed. Sooner or later, somehow, for some period of time, the petroleum trade routes are going to be disrupted.

Biggest barrier to using less oil? Our reluctance to embrace new ways of life

So here we go with the latest round of spiking oil and gas prices and the subsequent outrage about the very real anguish such prices are causing people caught in this officially-ended, but still horrendously painful, Great Recession. At the risk of sounding like a Cassandra, without oil scientist or economist credentials to support me, I'm nevertheless one of many (including lots of oil scientists and economists) who are pretty certain the days of "cheap" oil and gas are over. For real. And I know that saying so makes many cringe.

Richard Heinberg: Earth's Limits: Why Growth Won't Return - Climate Change, Pollution, Accidents, Environmental Decline, and Natural Disasters

Accidents and natural disasters have long histories; therefore it may seem peculiar at first to think that these could now suddenly become significant factors in choking off economic growth. However, two things have changed.

Google Ventures Leads Financing of Biofuels Start-Up

Google Ventures has led a $20 million financing round in CoolPlanetBiofuels, a Southern California start-up that is developing mobile refineries to turn wood chips, agriculture waste and other biomass into biofuels.

CoolPlanetBiofuels, an 18-month-old company, has also attracted the attention of ConocoPhillips, GE Capital and NRG Energy, which participated in the financing round along with North Bridge Venture Partners.

Scotland Energy Plan Nixes Offshore Wind Projects Planned by E.ON, Dong

Scotland has declared unviable three proposed locations for offshore wind farms, a potential setback for E.ON AG and Dong Energy A/S, which are planning projects at some of the sites.

Renault in Deal to Provide Electric Cars to Ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia

Renault SA (RNO) signed an agreement to provide electric cars to Georgia starting next year, the former Soviet republic’s economic development ministry said today.

The French carmaker will initially conduct feasibility studies and help develop infrastructure, the statement said.

Another Assault on Coal, Another Push to Natural Gas

These new standards will apply to 31 states and the District of Columbia. That makes for a considerable impact. But even in those states where the rules will not apply (at least initially), interstate power transmission lines will still extend the EPA's jurisdiction.

Delay in Coal Pollution Rules Took Toll in Lives

That it would take more than 20 years for federal regulators to finally propose toxic emissions standards for the power industry is testament to both the slow wheels of bureaucracy and the clout of the nation’s utility and coal interests, which bitterly — and for years, successfully — fought the controls, even as other industries bowed under.

World Needs to Choose Between Nuclear and Climate Risks, Orbeo Says

“Runaway” climate change may be the price of retreating from nuclear energy in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, according to an analyst at Orbeo.

Failing to replace or expand nuclear capacity will boost global emissions by 1.7 billion metric tons in 2030, said Emmanuel Fages, an analyst in Paris at the carbon-trading venture of Rhodia SA (RHA) and Societe Generale (GLE) SA. That estimate includes 1.3 billion tons from replacement coal and 381 million from natural gas, he said today in an e-mailed research note.

Deadly heatwaves will be more frequent in coming decades, say scientists

'Mega-heatwaves' like the one estimated to have killed tens of thousands in western Europe in 2003 will become up to 10 times more likely over the next 40 years, a study suggests.

How not to change a climate sceptic's mind

HOW do you get your point across over an issue as contentious as climate change? As a hearing in the US Congress last week showed, the evidence alone is not enough.

Looks like the air war has begun.

Des avions français survolent Benghazi pour interdire des mouvements de troupes de l'armée libyenne (info BFMTV)

Where are the fighters coming from? Sicily to Tripoli seems within operational range, but Benghazi is pretty far. Are the French using Egypt, or are they able to operate from Europe?

probably mid air refueling. Also don't the French have an aircraft carrier?

From BBC: Live: French military jet opens fire in Libya

1748: French aircraft have destroyed four Libyan tanks in air strikes to the south-west of Benghazi, Al-Jazeera television has reported

I just hope they don't confuse the pro-Gaddafi tanks with those that the rebels captured earlier today.

That's what special forces troops on the ground are for. Laser target enemy forces, etc.

I thought there weren't any forces on the ground?

The U.N. resolution allows member nations to arm the rebels which would include target designators.

What is France's war record? - 0 wins and 100 losses.
Looks like Qadaffi will win again.
The last time the US bombed Libya in 1986, France would not allow US aircraft to pass thru its airspace. Just hurry up and get the oil flowing again......

What is France's war record? - 0 wins and 100 losses.

You mean aside from conquering nearly 10% of the earth's inhabitable land surface?

Map of The French Colonial Empire

What year was that and what happened to the Empire?

You ruined my keyboard with my morning's coffee. LMAO

Big assist with the American Revolution, good for a few wins I think. But hey, we don't really need help from the French, we're making awesome strides in Afghanistan, likewise Iraq, give us 10 more years, we'll have 'em all sown up. Keep the oil flowing so we can keep those Freedom Fries-a-fryin'. And that's the view from Snarkistan. Back to you Forest.


Biomass rising, NDP dropping: Is there a connection?

Burning wood that’s no good for lumber is a good idea. I do it myself — I have a wood stove — and so do many homeowners, businesses and institutions. Used this way, it’s highly efficient. But to feed central power grids with it is to waste most of it and reduce the forest to its lowest possible value as a resource.

Combine bad forestry with a problematic energy policy and it gets worse. One reason for biomass is so NSP can meet its renewable energy deadline of 40 per cent by 2020. But since wood is almost as polluting as coal, what’s the point, especially if you’re devastating the forest even more? And conservation, which ultimately will be the No. 1 option as prices rise, is a poor distant cousin in this equation.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1233787.html

On hopefully a more positive note...

Nova Scotia Joins Surge on Tidal Power

Every day more than 100 billion tons of seawater flows into the Bay of Fundy – more than all the world's freshwater rivers combined. Early estimates suggest that the Minas Passage may be able to usably harness 300 MW of electricity, while the Bay of Fundy as a whole could provide up to 8,000 MW of installed capacity.

Recognizing this huge potential that the Bay could provide, the Provincial Government has embarked on the FORCE program in 2008 to encourage developers to test new tidal energy devices. In 2008 it declared its commitment to developing a test centre and in 2009, after a call for proposals, the first three developers were chosen. Following a survey and impact assessment, the Minas Passage area was selected for the FORCE test beds.

See: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/03/nova-scotia...

Hydroelectric deal a 'game-changer'
$6.2B project; Major impact on Atlantic Canada

The CEO of Emera Inc. says the $6.2-billion deal between his power company and Nalcor Energy is a game-changer for the electricity system in Atlantic Canada.

"The project will change forever the electricity system in this region. And I think it will have a major impact on the electricity system in all of eastern North America," Chris Huskilson said in a speech Wednesday to the members of the Offshore/ Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia.

"It has changed the game for us here in Nova Scotia, the Maritimes and I think in New England."

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Hydroelectric+deal+game+changer/4461385/s...


Hi Paul,

while this can be true;
But to feed central power grids with it is to waste most of it and reduce the forest to its lowest possible value as a resource

It does not need to be - many of the Euro biomass plants are CHP, and , effectively, are the pulp mill cogen ones here. It is always possible to use a resource wastefully, but that does mean it always is used wastefully.

BUt I do agree that wholesale denuding of forestry and burning just to meet a renewable target is silly. Wood should be used where it is advantageous to do so, not to satisfy an arbitrary target.

In any case, though, any contribution from wood will be totally eclipsed by the Churchill Falls project,so I don;t even see why NSp needs to aggressively pursue wood. Let the small operators do it if it is worthwhile, and then concentrate efforts onto the next projects.

Tidal energy projects are quite the challenge - to do it successfully without damming the channel is the trick, but no one has really solved it yet - let's hope something comes of this.


Paul Nash

I do agree with Paul (and Paul) about wholesale harvesting for biomass. However, when it comes to getting the most from a cord of wood, are home woodstoves the best usage? I would think that biomass powered electricty coupled to a heat pump might deliver more heating BTUs. Not to mention the possibility of CHP. Also a central power station can be subject to stringent emissions controls, whereas thousands of individual wood stoves cannot.

e of s wrote:

"However, when it comes to getting the most from a cord of wood, are home woodstoves the best usage? I would think that biomass powered electricty coupled to a heat pump might deliver more heating BTUs."

Yes, home wood stoves are a far better use of a cord of wood than burning it in an old-style generating plant. Even using CHP you just get to roughly the efficiency of a good modern wood stove. But then there are the transmission losses.

Modern wood stoves are subject to emission controls created twenty years ago by EPA. They now produce up to 90% less particulate matter than old 'airtights' of the 1970s and 80s and deliver about 70% net efficiency. Plus, the net energy delivered by natural firewood is the highest of any fuel. See:

See also:

Now, before anyone jumps on me for saying that wood stoves are capable and appropriate for heating modern homes, let me also say that they are not appropriate in large urban areas because even the best of them have higher emissions than oil and gas burners, and cities already have compromised airsheds.

But anyone who still thinks of firewood as a crude and old-fashioned way to heat houses has not kept up with developments that are now two decades old.

Make the wood stove itself the CHP- a small stirling of the kind now used for isotope space power has very long life, high efficiency, and, if all those space specs are lightened up, low cost. Also makes no noise.

So you get heat and electricity from wood, and if you want, a heat pump to pull heat from a well or the outside.

Or, you could go for simplicity, just super insulate your house and use a cat/dog for space heating.

How I love a good wood discussion! Some good points here, so lets look at them carefully;

Is it better to burn in a wood stove or a CHP plant? Well, if your house is located close to the CHP, then CHP is the way to go. An "old style" (steam) CHP plant will take 100 units of wood, make about 25 units of electricity and 60 of heat. If you use the electricity to run a heat pump with a COP of 4, you would have 4x25+60=160. Burtn the wood directly, and you get 80-90 units with the good modern fireplaces.

But, as pointed out, fireplaces aren't appropriate in the city, but that;s OK because that is *exactly* where a CHP plant can deliver useful heat to nearby premises.

So, wood fireplaces in the country, and CHP in the city - that is precisely how they do it in Sweden.

Doing your own CHP has its appeal, but just be aware that the Stirlings used in space power cost upwards of $1million each. There have been many, many efforts to make domestic scale Stirling engines (one even by a TOD regular), and all of them have failed, for one reason or another - though high cost is a common theme.

I live in a rural area and burn wood myself (in a high efficiency insert) and the wood to energy question is something I have studied very extensively.

For home scale, probably the best way to do it is with a gasifier ICE, like this, where you can get about 0.8kWh/kg wood (about 18% thermal efficiency)


Cost is $17k for 10kWe and $26k for 20KWe

They have been done for lower output engines, like the 6hp Lister diesel, but that's about as small as you can reliably go.

at 10kWe, you will be using 12kg (26.5lbs) of air dry wood per hour, or about one cord every four days! And you are producing 20kW heat, so you want to have a productive use for it.

Now you can also do electricity with steam, and Mike Brown style 3hp steam engine, but then you need about 30lbs of wood per hour for 1kWe - you can see how the ICE is much more efficient.

As with all energy things, scale matters. For the scale of the heat needs of a typical house, doing electrical generation will cost far more than it ever saves - even a PV system is likely better value.

If you go to en electrical generating system that is big enough to be efficient, like the 10kWe system above, then you are producing too much heat. Go for larger engines and gasifiers, and the 18% efficiency can become 25, 30 or even 40, but you are at the MW scale to get that.

So, if you are lucky enough to have a high efficiency fireplace, enjoy the heat, economy and ambience of it. If you want to produce electricity from your wood in cost effective manner, then you had better be prepared to do it on larger than a household scale - something which I hope to be doing next year...

Great post Paul. Your indicated large scale gap for practical home co-generation has saved me some research time. I am interested in modest emergency home backup power and heat applicable to a well insulated small house in the Pacific northwest. I wouldn't consider steam simply because of the exciting failure modes. I sure hope some of the recent advances in thermoelectric effect devices pan out. The other best option would be micro hydro power, but that has its own set of issues. In my area there is essentially no wind or PV-solar at the time you need it most.

Paul and hb. I wrote a reply and then hit the wrong button and lost it. Dang. Try again. But you are warned that you might find two responses, containing slightly different lies.

I agree with Paul on everything but stirlings. Sure, the space power things are out of sight expensive. Reason is simple, they sit on a bunch of stuff that makes their megabuck cost look like pocket change. Not to mention their Pu 238 heat source, of which there are nearly none at all.

So, just take the same basic design, throw away all the super alloys and such, make it out of kitchen pots, cast iron and aluminum, and presto! you get something not so many multiples of a lawnmower in cost, and with most of the stirling virtues still there.

Since some $ have shown up to do this, it is no longer just talk and back room R&D games, it's gonna be done.

I ran a stirling once on about 20 wood pellets per minute. I dribbled the pellets into a little tornado around the heater head, in a burner with white hot walls of ceramic. It was fun to watch the pellets bump around the wall, disintegrate, burn, and blow out the exhaust as a little puff of ash.

Small scale is not a problem for stirlings.

Micro hydro is also great, if you happen to have a nice mountain torrent running by your front door. So I am thinking of making a wood fired mountain torrent. That is to say, a stirling pumping water to a storage, a turbine and alternator, and a pond to receive the discharge,.

Of course you grow pond weeds in the pond, fed by the fish poop, and dry the pond weeds to drive the stirling. Lovely! but first you gotta vaporize about 90% of the people so you don't have too much demand on the pond, etc. I guess we are working on that too.

Hi Wimbi,

I guess I class the Stirling as a perpetual also ran, because, despite following attempts at its development for ten years, no one has got a small, affordable, useful engine to market. There are bigger ones - several 30kW units on the market, at eye watering prices.

. I built the coffee cup stirling myself, and it is a great device, amazing to watch it producing work from the heat of condensing steam (or runs backwards in a bowl of ice!)
For small ones - or I should say, low power ones, they are not that small, or efficient, but depending on your heat source that may not be an issue.
If you can make a working 1kW engine out of ordinary parts, then I will buy one from you. But the fact that for all the tinkerers, and there have been many, including myself, no one has yet been able to do so, does not give me great confidence in its future - even though they were made a century ago.

I actually think the Ericsson cycle engine is a better way to go - open cycle, uses air, no cooling required - they were in commercial production a century ago, but no one has made any replicas of that either.

As for micro hydro, they are indeed great, and I have built one (5kW system for Parks Canada), but for what you describe, you would be better off to have the stirling charging batteries (unless the pond and pipe already exist). At this small power level (<2kW) micro hydro is not that effiecient - around 50%, so the round trip return from what your Stirling puts out will be about 30-40% at best. A battery system will give you 80% and make much better use of your wood.

Battery storage is one of the few things that works as well at small scale as large - unlike most heat engines and hydro turbines.

Shock wave engines are starting to come up again.
tolerances have got to be very critical

The only reason that this has gotten my interest is because I am working out some thermo-acoustic problems on my regular job. Getting the pressure and velocity flows to create standing waves is tricky.

Well, Paul, I don't have to tell you that hasn't been done does not mean cannot be done.

Truth is that there have been really good prototypes made that never got over the chasm of death, meaning the money req'd to put them into production. That has changed, since times have changed, so I am fairly confident that you (and I) will be able to buy good cheap stirlings in the near future, like a couple of years.

And funny you mentioned the lousy performance of small hydro. Right. real bad, and exactly what I am working on as we speak. But I don't see anything in the law or the prophets saying we can't get quite high performance from kW sized small water turbines. We shall soon see, like tomorrow.

I am betting 85% eff. for the turbine, and over 90 for its attached alternator. If you just look at the flow vectors, you get 96%, ha, ha.

so I am fairly confident that you (and I) will be able to buy good cheap stirlings in the near future, like a couple of years.

Solo hans't delivered. Ginger wasn't a stirling but a stand up scooter. Whispergen has dropped in price but not to $5000 or even $2500. MicroCHP (Was that Tarin or sunpower?) - samples were sent and were gonna be mass marketed 5+ years ago. OmniChron blames Sept 11 as to why their 4000 hour Nitrogen charged 1 HP for under $100 never shipped. The ST-5 was bought out and hasn't been seen again.

Why are you thinking what you are thinking?

I have more hope for thermoelectrics for low grade heat to electricty. There have been lots of materials science articles about breakthroughs. Now can any of these be made into an afordable product?
I had also once read about thermoacoustic engines, where the only moving parts are sound waves. Maybe WHT can comment on them. That was a few years ago, and I haven't seen anything since.

The intriguing notion behind thermoacoustics is that the analysis is very close to that of electromagnetism in a waveguide. The analogs are voltage as gas pressure and electrical current as volume velocity. The temperature changes the pressure locally, this accelerates the gas but the compressability creates a lag such that a standing pressure wave can get created along the length of the structure. I don't know how much useful work it can do in terms of an engine, but it sure can make a lot of noise!

I have some simple lumped parameter equations if anyone wants to understand this in more detail.


These are areas (thermoacoustic, thermoelectric) that I have looked into a couple of years ago. Neither of them is a barely efficient mechanism for converting energy and the materials that give best results tend to be very expensive and difficult to work with (i.e to mass produce).

The thermoacoustic devices tend to be these long resonant tubes or horns that try to set up a standing wave and place a pressure transducer (i.e. a piezoelectric) in the area of maximum amplitude of the resonant wave.

As for low grade heat into electricity, the basic thermodynamic equations still hold true:
Eff= 1-(Tl/Th) where Tlow and Thigh are given in Kelvins.

Simple. From where I stand, I can see them. I don't blame anybody for not seeing them, because what they have seen so far is poof.

I mean, poof- like hot air.

So, I say times have changed, and they have, and you will soon see what I see, and you will not have me to kick around any more ( yet another feeble attempt at a joke).

PS. I do not blame anybody for skepticism on stirlings, it fits the evidence just fine. Actually, things are even worse than you think, probably.

I will not disgust you with the hideous details.

PPS. Here's a little exercise. Go to NASA web site. Look at their space power stirling. Then imagine all of it made of common metals, and all the piston fits same as in a Honda. Then count up the commodity costs (raw materials). Then apply the well proven rule of thumb that anything in large scale manufacture costs the same as any other thing in large scale manufacture having the same commodity cost and machine tolerances. Then put all that together and you get the cost of the stirling engine. Bravo! You now know what I know. Go in peace and sin no more.

Being right that mass produced cheap stirlings are just 'round the bend would be a nice change from Catapiller PR in the 1970's making similar statements.
(the next nut to crack is the wild changes in temp in solar concentration heads)

Well, Paul, I don't have to tell you that hasn't been done does not mean cannot be done.

Absolutely - if you have some new/better/cheaper way of doing it, power to you. I am all for innovation - it just seems that Stirlings have had many tries and few successes. If you have a breakthrough on your hands then I hope it does become a success.

As for the micro hydro, yes it can be done efficiently, but any of the small units you buy are not - though they are, generally, simple and reliable - both very good qualities. The small scale does not lend it self well to "turbines" (same as with combustion engines). Oddly enough, among the most efficient small hydro "turbines" are the good old water wheels! Properly designed, like a Poncelet wheel, efficiency of over 80% is possible, just at very low rpm.

These guys seem to do a good job of building them - not as cheap as a small turgo/pelton etc, but lots of character - the water equivalent of the Dutch windmills.


Small alternators can suffer inefficiencies too - average car ones are 60-70%. But you can design/build ones for 85-90%
Your numbers are at the top end of what is achievable, but if you can achieve them, great -I look forward to seeing the pictures.

Paul. Good to hear from a person who seems to think about like I do. Here are some thoughts on all of above.

Sound wave engines- fun physics, but intrinsic losses that make them less attractive. Yes, a very lot of noise!

Small turbines- Go to GD Wilson's book on design of high efficiency turbomachinery and gas turbines and you will see portraits of what I am doing. Wilson says smaller is worse, and gives good reasons. But worse than what? Big water turbines are mid 90%.

Water wheels. Sure, what is more efficient than the slow lowering of a weight? That's what those water wheels do. I visualize a feasible water wheel which would have efficiency in 99% range. Would have been doable in the dark ages. Maybe it was.

It will not have escaped your notice that the slow lifting of a weight may also be very efficient. That's why I like hydro storage.

Small alternators- since the design of such things is very well understood, it is straightforward to make highly efficient small alternators, but the costs go up exponentially as efficiency does, so people elect to make mediocre ones, like car alternators.

Stirling engines- many tries, few successes. Ah, so true, but the lack of success was more in the lack of perception of worth, as well as some rather stupid designs and product targets, not so much in the concept itself.

Breakthru's are not required. What is required is existence of, and intelligent selection of market, good design that does not have unsolved problems in it, and LUCK in finding some source of $ to get it out there.

The fundamental problem in the past was lack of a market (oil too cheap). So stirling is one of the many little critters hiding under rocks waiting for the dinosaurs to get zapped.

The only real change that makes me so optimistic now is general awareness of a market, and somebody who happened along with the $ and sense to go for a right one. Good hardware has actually been around a long time- under that rock.

Yair...Hello Paul Nash and others.This may be of interest:-


It is an account of running suction gas engines in a power house.I think I knew the bloke who wrote it...I worked out of Roma in the late fifty's and was always fascinated by the power station engines.

Such plants were fairly common in the Southwest of Qld and towns such as Cunnamulla were first electrified from the suction gas engines that ran the local sawmill...running of course on the flitches and the scraps.


Hi Scrub,

Great find! Yes, back in the day, those engines were real beasts. Biggest one I know of is the one Henry Ford built to power one of his factories - cylinders were about 1m diameter, and it was a combined cycle cycle engine, with a second cylinder running on steam produced from the cooling water and exhaust of the first.

I think the time is right for a modern revival of the concept, most municipal waste stations get enough wood waste to run these things, and new engines are more efficient and much, much safer. The gasifier is still the weak link - there just aren't any large (>100kW) ones being commercially made in downdraft format, and updraft or fluidised bed produce too much tar.

And of course, they would create a market for locally grown wood that is of no use use for anything else. Some of the trees grown on salt affected lands etc are not good for timber or pulp, but they burn just fine. Id there is market for the wood, then farmers will start growing more trees, and that is always a god thing.

I love my outdoor wood boiler. I have had a Heatmor 200 for about 10-11 winters now and it has performed flawlessly. I see very little smoke from it, unless I load it incorrectly or burn very green wood, and it heats my house for the cost of a gallon of gas and bottle of oil for my chain saw. I have heated for 10 years with just the wood that I have collected from the ground or trees that have died or are dying on my ten heavily wooded acres. Even if I have to start buying wood in the future, I can get 10 cords of oak for about 700-750 dollars in eight foot lengths. I use anywhere from 3-5 cords per year and that is in northern Minnesota where it can get just a bit cold. I figure the stove paid for itself after about 5-6 years so any money I save now is money in the bank. I would guess that in most of Canada and lots of the less populated parts of the U.S., wood heat can make great sense.
Just my observations after burning wood for over 10 years now.....

Hi Paul,

All good ideas, but I'm afraid their execution will be the tricky part -- I wish I could be more optimistic, but we simply lack the vision, political will and financial wherewithal to make it so.

NSP has negotiated a 20 per cent stake in this Lower Churchill Falls project and, for its part, will receive 1 TWh of energy each year for the first thirty-five years. That represents roughly 8 per cent of current demand. NSP's REP requirements in 2020 are 40 per cent and the LCF will get us to just over 20 per cent, so expect the utility to burn your grandmother's Hepplewhite should it come to that.


So, I've overheard a couple of conversations recently in which the participants sounded worried that a damaged/dysfunctional nuclear power plant can produce a major explosion/mushroom cloud the way an atomic weapon can. I hope there aren't that many people walking around that think this way, but I fear there might be.

Re: Pakistan: Passengers suffer as 8 trains run out of fuel

Here we see an example of "demand destruction", with the passengers being left "out in the cold", so to speak. And this is surely a foretaste of the coming crunch as entire nations find that they can no longer pay for fuel as prices rise...

E. Swanson

Book Recommendation : "Endgame" by Derrick Jensen (two volumes)

This book is a facinating read, if you want something than will spur you to action.


I second the recommendation.
Not for anyone clinging to a BAU world.

I for one would not recommend it. I have tried a couple of times to start but cannot make it very far through the first 50 pages. 20 premises to start with? Sounds more like the UN. This is a shopping list not short premises to found the rest of the book on.

The opening sections contain so much ranting it is very hard to follow. The guy might have something interesting to say but it reads more like a trailer for the X-files than any rational argument.

Perhaps some serious editing could help here.

Just my opinion. I know it is seriously flawed to comment without reading the whole book, but with all the other books to read, I just don't have the time for this. Give me Bill McKibben any day.

If others think I am missing a treat here - please say so.


From what I see on Amazon, it reads like a diary and observations of someone reading the news.

Had to respond when you brought up Bill McKibben...

I very much respect what BM is doing. BUT, he espouses a very diff't message than DJ. BM is a 'play within the current framework' kind of guy. Become politically active, vote for the right legislators, get them to do the right thing... IMO, that is not going to happen. Our political process is totally in the pocket of BAU corporations. Period. We will burn the planet to make a buck because of that.

DJ's writing is dense, non-linear, stream of consciousness and repetitive. Not sure editing would make it better. It would change him too much. I suggest to grok his message, starting with the slightly more concise Language Older than Words and Culture of Make Believe.

That's just my opinion. I might be wrong. I think one can only take in what DJ has to say if one is ready to give up on BAU as having any sane basis.

I recommend the doc http://www.whatawaytogomovie.com/ as a starting point for understanding what DJ is all about. He's just one of the thinkers featured in the film.

Edit - after further thought - to clarify a bit, Jensen's appearance in WAWTG isn't stellar, but does provide an introduction to him. He espouses resisting BAU at every turn, protecting the planet, the other species, at all costs. Very diff't than McKibben, who gets such publicity by the MSM precisely because he isn't a threat to them. Organize protests? Fine. Doesn't mean anyone has to listen, or anything has to change. Half a million or so people marched in DC to protest the invasion of Iraq, but it got barely a mention on the MSM. Protesting is acceptable to MSM because they control the broadcast of it, and the ability to ignore it completely.

I also recommend as authors who might be more palatable to a broader audience, but sort of prepare one for DJ's message, Chellis Glendinning, Jerry Mander & Daniel Quinn,

I didn't much like Quinn, actually. Something about the way he teases things out right to the end of his books, like in a who-dun-it novel.

I also don't agree that we can return to hunting and gathering from here in any meaningful way. There's nothing left to be hunted and gathered in most places. Agriculture, although, perhaps, not in its current form, is going to be with us for a very long time, unless one envisions subsisting on a diet of rats, insects and "lambs quarters".

Jensen is certainly not linear. If you ever listen to any one of his talks (they can be found on Google Video) he does tend to ramble about quite a lot, and he does state that up front. Sortof like watching a movie telling a story through flashbacks.

I find the message interesting - as someone who is trying to make change happen in my neighborhood, and very often frustrated with BAU. He has an unusual vantage point. Sometimes I get plain tired of the linearity - the clinical graphs and charts. Graphs and Charts don't, by themselves, translate into action in the real world.

He reminds us that emotion has a purpose in trying to move the world. Like watching video of the Japan disaster - if you aren't moved to tears by that, or getting punch-the-wall angry, I don't think you'll be trying to change the world.

Jensen video here :-


I can vouch for the fact that five years of trying to make change happen through the "existing structure" in my neighborhood has been worse than useless in dismantling BAU or preparing people for its disappearance.

Edit : creating a website to fight a new condo development got me threats of lawsuits. Now I know I'm getting somewhere.

From Aviation Week & Space Technology

Oil Spike Prompts Airline Profit Fears

Airlines seemed well positioned just a few months ago to absorb higher fuel costs, which were forecast to rise through 2011 along with rising crude oil prices. Of course, that was barring any shocks to the system. Now all bets are off, with oil supplies in Libya and some other oil-producing countries at varying degrees of risk and crude oil prices at their highest level in two years.

...Breakeven is at $110-120, says Michael Lowry, project manager for Aviation Week’s Top-Performing Companies study. “If oil gets past $120, we’ll see losses, including at Southwest [Airlines].” At $150, airlines will scramble to cut capacity. “$200 per barrel is liquidation territory, when we can expect to see airlines go out of business,” says William Swelbar, an economist in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

...The situation in North Africa and the Middle East remains volatile and could deteriorate—with dire consequences for both the world’s economic recovery and the airline industry. “I don’t think we’ll get to $150 per barrel this year,” says Sieminski. “But if social unrest takes one more exporting country—Algeria, Oman—offline, we’ll get there.”

Earthquake Exposes Risks To Supply Chain

...Noting that 35% of the 787 and 20% of the 777 are from Japan, he says Boeing reduced financial risk at the cost of uncertainty in its supply chain. “Japan consistently ranks as one of the riskiest countries in the world to do business from a location perspective. The country has a history of earthquakes and natural disaster.”

“This latest disaster underscores the realization that ‘just in time’ increases risk to a point where companies are becoming vulnerable.” Top management “is starting to understand that this kind of disaster is worth buffering inventories for.”

Japan disaster, globalization and just in time delivery snowball auto plant closings:

What we see here are just the first precursors of much bigger problems. High value electronic parts are air freighted. Those you’ll miss the day after. Cars, CKD kits, engines, transmissions and anything from Akebono brake pads to Denso spark plugs come by boat. There are several weeks of supply on the water. The real problems will begin in early April at the West Coast and a few weeks later at the East Coast and Europe when no ships come in.


Once suppliers are able to produce parts again, Japan could face rolling blackouts for at least six months because of the damage to nuclear-power plants. Auto plants can't be easily restarted if the power goes out.


A week after catastrophe struck Japan in the form of an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, manufacturers that rely on Japanese factories are concluding that their operations will be affected more severely — and for a longer time — than they had initially hoped.


From this article:


General Motors is halting output at a pickup-truck plant in Louisiana next week because it is running low on an unspecified part from Japan, with ripple effects on other G.M. operations.

For those Americans that thought buying a Chevy, Ford or GM vehicle was the "patriotic" thing to do...were happy when Toyota sales were hurt by the "failing brake" issue...

...you're about to find out just how "American" those US company vehicles really are.

Expect to see a pretty significant bump in GDP as companies start to re-think their just in time inventory practices and start to hold higher levels of inventory.

I would guess production would be up, orders for goods up, and profits down as the turnover of parts is reduced.

Prices will rise as well, since the costs of holding inventories require higher capitalization levels, and lower profit percentages.

Once inventory levels for parts is at the 'new' holding levels considered safe, production will crash, and jobs will drop to the previous level. Or below, depending on impacts of higher prices on overall economy and sales in general.

Long term, these changes are going to happen any way. The crisis in Japan just hastens events.


Their export economy is likely to suffer from the public's "radiation fear" founded or not that anything from japan may be tainted. from bad to worse to horrible to. .

Did anybody read Chris Martensons latest screed? The man is quickly becomming the new Mike Ruppert(or even Matt Simmons when he was at his worst, in his dying days).

The man is basically saying that it's over and all hell will break loose within mere weeks.


Brace for imminent doom:

My best guess is that the situation in Japan will unfold over the next two weeks, with a full blown funding and fiscal crisis (of confidence) blossoming there over that time

Two weeks after that, I expect that the first real product shortages and associated work stoppages will begin to hit the US and European economies.

Taken together, I think we've got at least a month until things have shifted enough that preparations will become either difficult or irresponsible.

Use this next month very wisely.

This reminds me of Kunstler, a man who is lionized in some quarters here, who have predicted imminent stock market collapse not once, but thrice, at different stages within the last 7 years and still is treated as some sort of genuine expert despite a pathetic track record of overblown statements of imminent collapse. How many times should the man be given the benefit of the doubt?

I didn't quote the entire article from Martenson, but Martenson rambles on about getting 'medicines and food' as if we're facing WWIII, or in a hysterical tone which implies that if we do not act within this next month then preparations may even become 'irresponsible'.

There has got to be somekind of accountability to these people, throwing around prophecies of doom mindlessly without repercussions or having their feet forced to the fire does wonder to discredit the entire concept of Peak Oil, if these doomsters are allowed to be unchallenged. What better way than to defend BAU than to look at Kunstler's and, from now on, Martenson's, delusional rants and see the total apathy, even passive acceptance, from other people? Nobody stood up to Simmons when he was going out of control either, perhaps of fear or even admiration for the man.

To his credit, Martenson doesn't explicity say so, but his entire post oozes of hysteria and his general advice is to stock up 'before it's too late'. He also mentions a huge crisis in Japan with a timespan of 2 mere weeks.

My post is a bit long but I want to use it to say that I think sometimes people accept, or at least do not object, to people that are clearly wideeyed. Just as a lot of people failed to face up to Simmons when he was starting to get more and more crazy on the end(I still think given his entire track record, the man has done lots on the issue for PO but the point stands).

If we're going to be taken seriously by people, a more rigorous approach, preferably grounded in science, should be advocated (like that of Stuart Staniford's). These methods should not only be preferred but insisited upon. Wild speculation with zero scientific groundings, if unchecked, will harm the message and undermine the image of the entire PO concept. Critics always look for the weakest link and there's plenty of them in the community, since nobody is willing to face up to the crazies.

Doomsters and cranks should be confronted, and if shown repedeately wrong, like Kunstler(and most likely Martenson from now on), not given attention. Or else risk the entire, very grave and serious issue be dragged down with them for failing to self-police the charlatans.

Your attack is wide ranging, and a person's worst prediction is not necessarily an indication of that person's other contributions. Also, for example, Kunstler says himself that market predictions are not his strongest ability, and Simmons could not give us his retrospective where he went wrong.

But you do raise a good point - whether a person should raise an alarm without being very sure of something when it might cause serious harm to many others. I'm not sure how we could self-police someone about their future predictions, other than what we are doing here now. Do you have any suggestions?

I contacted Financial Sense recently because they allowed a convicted stock manipulator to talk about investing. I thought they shouldn't allow that, but I suppose someone else might say it's good to understand the mind of criminals to see how they work (although his conviction was never mentioned in the interview).

Martenson might be right about Japan, and is only asking for two weeks. However I do find this piece in general to be over the top - I don't agree this will have a tremendous impact elsewhere. In fact, the ongoing fall in world oil exports is a much more serious and intractable problem, and largely seems to be ignored outside of a small group.

Leiten, you conveniently skipped over this disclaimer, near the top of Chris's article:

Important caveat: At this point in time, I cannot fully support 100% of my concerns with hard data and evidence. Some of what has tipped me into this state of urgency is data, evidence, and stories that I can point to. Some is due to the absence of data or information, the remainder results from watching market gyrations and correlations shift into new patterns, which tell me something is afoot.

I have not been this concerned since October of 2008.

I have often been chastised for acting on some data combined with good intuition. I've usually been right, though those who've chastised me won't admit it; they generally avoid my company. Fine. Two of these guys are bankrupt, more than $35 million in the hole.....I wouldn't care much but for the people they hurt through their greed and hubris. One of these people made a public joke about me being a chicken little,,,,that was in late 2007. He's lost everything when he could have cashed out with a nice profit. I wouldn't give him the shirt off your back at this point.

As for Kunstler; he admits publically that he's just a novelist.

Leiten, you conveniently skipped over this disclaimer, near the top of Chris's article:

And he conveniently skipped this also:

As always, I have no idea if anything is going to transpire or not, or when. How's that for indecisive? But I can tell you that the pressures are larger than they’ve ever been throughout this long emergency and that conditions are ripe for an avalanche. My sincerest hope is that this will all blow over. But hope alone is a terrible strategy, and so we prepare.

So what is a man to do? He basically says, "I have no idea what is going to happen however here is what might happen, so we should be prepared.

And what reaction does he get for saying we should be prepared? Well here is Leiten's take on what he said; "The man is basically saying that it's over and all hell will break loose within mere weeks." Well, that was definitely not my take on what he said. But apparently the words "I have no idea what will happen" can be translated to mean "I know exactly what is going to happen.

Oh well...

Ron P.

Excellent point Ron, CM does not claim to know how this will play out. There seem to be many converging crisis right now. I was thinking how the media has covered the Japanese nuclear incident, basically I have heard the crisis is over and fixed since a problem was announced. Anyone who suggested otherwise seemed to be called reactionary, or given to panic. Day by day, however, the problem has worsened. I think there is a lesson somewhere in this situation that relates to peak oil. Everything will be fine, the problems virtually fixed....Well sometimes it is not.

He put in a disclaimer for tactical reasons, so when he gets called out on his obvious delusions, he won't have to take responsbility for his crazy rants, but instead point to a disclaimer at the top and shout at the top of his voice "see!? I never said it would be 100 % predictable".

Well, of course not, but what counts most: A short paragraph put in there as a plan B, a safety hatch, in case he gets exposed as the ignorant fraud he is or the other 97 % of the piece which is filled with demented hysteria?

You're letting him go off way too easy off the hook, and this is why people like him are still not shunned. And this is exactly what I am talking about when I talk of the complete lack of any critical accountability. Martenson is a figure in the PO community whether we want it or not. If he goes off the rails like this and faces zero accountability that hurts the message much more than him.

Just because he is right in accepting Peak Oil as a reality(and one which will come to us relatively quickly) we should be wary of tolerating all kinds of charlatans, especially after they've proved to be fake(tactical disclaimers swallowed easily for the gullible nonwithstanding).

Or else accept the continued isolation as people will conclude, once they dig a bit deeper, that since people like Martenson never face any sort of consequence for their outrageous, baseless fearmongering, that must mean it's okay behaviour for most of us. Seeing some of the replies here, I fear these people may be right, even if there's a minority which prefers scientific opinion over fearmongering, ignorant hysteria.

I think you are right.

One by one the internet bloggers reveal themselves to be all too human. Still, you can get much more valuable information from them than virtually anybody who appears on TV.

Some have been really consistent and good like Charles Hugh Smith, Kunstler, Max Keiser, Automatic Earth, and others and for that am grateful and will continue to give them my time and get information from them, as long as it doesn't appear that they too have jumped the shark.

He put in a disclaimer for tactical reasons,...

He put the disclaimers in, several of them, for obvious reasons. That is what normal people do when trying to warn people about what could happen. The weatherman gives us tornado warnings when he sees a hook echo in the doppler radar. He never says a tornado will definitely hit but tells us that we should prepare for that possibility.

You people are really off the mark. The man is saying Japan, and possibly the world, could have a financial crisis and products shortage, he is not predicting Armageddon. Get a hold of yourselves guys, these things have a real chance of happening. In fact they are already happening!

Japanese parts shortage closes GM plant in US

If a shortage of Japanese parts causes a GM plant to close in the US then imagine what it is doing in Japan. And the vast expense of the triple disaster in Japan, along with the parts shortages for almost every large manufacturing plant in Japan, is very likely, in my opinion, to cause a financial crisis.

And let us not forget that Japan is one of the largest purchasers of the US debt. What will happen if, due to their financial crisis, all this stops?

You guys should get a better grip on what the man is really saying. Martenson is making no wild and crazy predictions but is rather only predicting what could very well happen and in my opinion what is very likely to happen. But even then he is only saying it could happen, not that it will happen. In my opinion he is being overly cautious with his warnings, and is not saying wild and crazy things.

I think he is right. Half his prediction has already proven correct, they do have a products shortage already. And that shortage is beginning to be felt around the world. And I think a financial crisis brought about by this triple disaster and products shortage is very likely. And it is possible that that crisis could be spread around the world.

Just look at what a few countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland did to the European economy. Japan was able to establish and maintain itself as the world's second largest economy from 1968 until 2010, when it was supplanted by the People's Republic of China. What if that economy collapses? What would that do to the rest of the world?

Ron Patterson

Martenson is just advising folks to do the things I've been doing for years.

Reduce your exposure: Hold cash, avoid higher risk investments, especially equities, etc.. Same stuff TAE has been saying for years.

Improve your resiliancy: Store of food/water, updated first-aid kits, several month's supply of medications and sanitation items, etc. Basic preparedness; Boy Scout stuff.

It amazes me how many folks don't do these things, the same folks wandering the wilderness looking for a handout when TSHTF, the same folks who engage in superficial and high risk activities then expect to be rescued or bailed out when things go bad. Folks like me are getting damned tired of the Mayzies of the world.

Probably I should have mentioned this before: there already is a financial crisis in Japan. The key evidence of this is that fact that the Bank of Japan had to add about 20 trillion of new yen to the money base this week - a 20% increase. That would be roughly equal to the Federal Reserve creating about $500 billion more dollars in one week (that is by increasing the money base by 20%). That would also be about 3 times about as much money the Fed has ever added in one week, the largest addition I think was in the crisis of October 2008.

Well Martenson is generally aware of this (although I believe when he wrote the article the BOJ had only added about 12 trillion yen). My reading is that he thinks it can (even did) get even worse than that.

After further thought, I think Martenson is right about the timing - that if there is a general product distribution disfunction or financial breakdown, it quite likely will come within two weeks. But it remains to be seen if a Japanese economic downfall will severely impair the US economy and also make it essentially 'freeze up' too. My general conclusion for the US monetary policy is that Japan and Libya will force the Fed to extend its quantitative easing program beyond June.

Good points, Ron. And they seem on point.

Overall, my reaction to CM warnings is, if you think he os totally off, wait a month and tell us the. Meanwhile, if you believe what CM says, that things could go to Hell in a handbasket, preparing for that might be wise. If CM is wrong, you can certainly use the additional medical, food, water, etc., that you have stockpiled later. If you doubt CM and do not prepare, and he is wrong, no big deal. But if he is anyway near close to correct, maybe you won;t be so vocal about political and economic weathermen giving their storm warnings next time.

Time will tell. Myself, I have been preparing for what I see coming for some time. I would like to have the financial ability to pick up some more land in a better region for ag., but I do what I am able. I did not need Chris to tell me that there would be bad things coming from the convergence of crises we are seeing today.

And most people who know me consider me to be an optimist!


FWIW, my approach would be to place emphasis in people that rang alarms long ago like Jimmy Carter and then frame it all in scientific terms and bring up other historical scientific figures such as King Hubbert. Calling attention to Jimmy Carter and science is sure to get all the wingnuts apoplectic and that is what we want.

How many times should the man be given the benefit of the doubt?

I agree with Leiten's assessment. How many times has this "How many times" been used as a bludgeon to criticize peak oil estimates in the past? I also think it has a lot to do with the lack of grounded mathematical foundation in the estimates. Since they are almost always based on heuristics, nothing can explain why the estimates were wrong; instead the analysts just pump out a new heuristic. A scientific approach would question the assumptions in the model and then update the mechanisms, providing everyone with a deeper understanding. You don't get all the second-guessing in that case, and it generates confidence more befitting of a scientific method.

Martenson said: "I have not been this concerned since October of 2008."

October? The stock market was well into free-fall by that time. To me that call does not look too impressive.

I would much rather read people like Didier Sornette and Jean Laherrere than Martenson and Kunstler any day.

"Fooled by Randomness", 'eh - someone will turnout to be right.

BTW, Sornette keeps track of the mathematical formalisms behind Taleb's Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness books. Whether they really know when to pull the trigger, I don't know.

Sornette has been wrong several times about his stock market predictions. He was predicting a continuation of the stock market crash in 2003. Instead the market soared between 2003-2007.

That's what I mean. I only read him for his mathematical approach, which I glean from and apply to real world problems.

The timing of the financial crack up will not be predicted by "a more rigorous approach, preferably grounded in science". That like predicting earthquakes will only tell you that it will happen not when.

That leaves the field open for the likes of Martensons. Make the outlandish prediction - if you are right then you will be regarded as a prophet by many who otherwise ignored you. If you are wrong then as Kunstler has shown your loyal followers will continue to follow you. It is a cost free options trade which is why all these prophets of doom should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

First, I posted your link on the last Drumbeat.

Second, If you don't like what people say then let it go. Martenson is calling it as he sees it.

Third, no one is going to intellectually change their position regardless of how many "facts" are presented. This applies to both those who believe in BAU and doomers.

Fourth, none of the things Martenson recommends will cause harm to people whereas, if he is right, those who do nothing will be harmed.


Third, no one is going to intellectually change their position regardless of how many "facts" are presented. This applies to both those who believe in BAU and doomers.

Well, if this is true, we are done here, and everywhere.

Yes: I used Martenson's last work as kind of a checklist and for the most part, we are covered. I will take some more money out of the bank because it is drawing so little interest and I used most of our home reserve for purchases in cash. One thing I thought was interesting was he is going to hold his gold 'positions'. If one does not have the physical gold, how does he know that his 'positions' are worth anything if the company goes TU?

The weather has been lousy here north of Reno and all the parts for our high tunnel hoop house are laying out in the pasture. I did get all the rebar stakes in the ground so I can put it up on the first nice day. 14' wide X 42' long X 7' high. should be a nice extension this spring and fall for our short growing season.


Hi Lynford,

This has been a horrid winter for us; snow, snow and more snow. We had a foot on the ground yesterday and were supposed to get another 10" last night but it rained instead. However, more is forecast. My road is a mile long and all up hill to our house. I had a hard time getting back up after I did a "road run" yesterday to make tracks. And, this was with a 4x4 chained up all around. I haven't even started any plants for the garden yet. Ugh!


This has been a horrid winter for us; snow, snow and more snow.

You are currently experiencing a moderate to strong La Niña event, which is characterized by torrential rainstorms in eastern Australia, but cold weather and heavy snowfall in the western US. If you want to know what's coming at you in the next few months, monitor this weather site conveniently provided by the World Meteorological Organization:

WMO El Niño/La Niña Update

Current Situation and Outlook

A significant La Niña episode continues in the tropical Pacific Ocean, with effects extending into adjacent ocean basins. Atmospheric indicators show this episode to be one of the strongest of the last century, while oceanic indicators have been at moderate to strong levels. La Niña conditions are likely to continue through the first quarter of 2011.

Where you are, a strong La Niña event probably translates into extremely high snowfall. Where I am that we have had cold but unstable weather accompanied by huge amounts of snowfall. However, I was expecting that. You need to know what a La Niña event translates into in your local weather system to know what the conditions will be. An El Niño event is completely different, and will inevitably follow La Niña.

See the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center ENSO Diagnostic Discussion

La Niña will continue to have global impacts even as the episode weakens through the Northern Hemisphere Spring. Expected La Niña impacts during March-May 2011 include suppressed convection over the west-central tropical Pacific Ocean, and enhanced convection over Indonesia

Potential impacts in the United States include an enhanced chance of below-average precipitation across much of the southern states and the Central Rockies and Central Plains. An increased chance of below-average temperatures is predicted for much of the West Coast and across the northern tier of states (excluding New England). A higher possibility of above-average temperatures is favored for much of the southern half of the contiguous U.S


Actually, it probably isn't as bad as it used to be. My neighbor has lived on this land his entire life (50+ years and we've only lived here 31 years). We live on what was part of their ranch. He has many tales of what his dad went through with the cows such as one time the snow being so deep his horse couldn't carry him so he hung onto the tail and was dragged back home for a couple of miles through the snow.

Another time there was a big snow and another rancher up the road was afraid his barn roof would collapse. So, he, the rancher and another guy got on their horses to clean off the roof. It was three miles away. The snow was so deep that they had to break a trail for the horses after a mile. It took them the entire day to get there - pushing through the snow.

I have the deepest respect for those people. They did what had to be done no matter the cost or effort...not only for their own operations but for each other. Urban and suburban people today don't have a clue of this kind of effort.

My town (Laytonville, CA) had a project to interview the old-timers and published several books called Through The Eyes Of The Elders. Amazing. I had one old friend who has since died who grew up in a logging camp in the early days around here. They felt they had hit the big time when her family got to move from their wall tent to a company cabin.

I hate to be repetitive; people today don't know $hit from Shinola (that's brown shoe polish for those outside the US) about real life.


Edit to add: The longest we've been snowed in here is three weeks. I know of others somewhat outside the area who have been snowed in 6 weeks.

I fully agree with Leiten. It is dangerous to arouse the masses with mindless hysterical prophesies of doom creating panic with all its negative subsequential actions. Examples: In British Columbia demand for iodine pills surged and prices quadruple in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis. In Germany the Geiger counters are sold out. In the latter case, people will point the Geiger counter against the sky and will be shocked, seeking shelter, not knowing that the sun also emits gamma rays. No one will ask why Japanese people still live on this small island and are pretty save, while thousands of km away people by iodine and Geiger counters.

Some years ago, I developed a simulation model for the Canadian Department of Defence to track radioactive clouds. But one does not need to look at detailed results to figure out that there is a rapid density dissipation of a cloud as a function of distance. In today’s news it was mentioned that at the California coast radiation from the Japanese disaster was measured. Yet, there was no mentioning that the level of radiation was extremely low and thus harmless. Again, a willful distortion to produce 'important' news.

ngass, the situation you just described is precisely the same as the one if it was seriously about to affect the said areas. So what is your beef? IMHO it is a good thing because it allows people to prepare for it who might otherwise never be given a chance. Secondly it allows the infrastructure to. I feel safer knowing I already own iodine pills, even though I doubt it would help me in anything but a nuclear weapons scenario (no reactors where I live). Why shouldn't people have a little more piece of mind being prepared, even if it causes them a little mania? This situation has surely awoken many people to the inherit risks laden in our civilization. Again too many people fearing they appear 'fringy'. Get over it already.

He also mentions a huge crisis in Japan with a timespan of 2 mere weeks.

So, there is not a huge crisis in Japan?

Chris Martenson has lost all credibility.

If you adopt a radical doomer position, you find yourself having to justify that position despite all evidence to the contrary.

As far as Kunstler, sure he makes these goofy predictions, but they are more on the order of 1 year predictions, rather than 1 month predictions. And they almost never involve complete collapse. And Kunstler has been very consistent that we face a "long emergency" which is one of the best ways to phrase our predicament. Not that Kunstler doesn't have his weak points, but I continue to find him generally spot on, and entertaining, in his writings and presentations.

What we face is indeed a gradual unraveling, a catabolic collapse that appears relatively slow, but is gathering speed and is in fact rapid in historical terms.

Whenever I see someone, anyone, claim that this or that is going to happen in 1 week or 1 month, I immediately dismiss them and their credibility plummets.

Chris Martenson has lost all credibility.

Right, when you say things like:

As always, I have no idea if anything is going to transpire or not, or when.


My sincerest hope is that this will all blow over. But hope alone is a terrible strategy, and so we prepare.

That means you have lost all credibility. In order to maintain one's credibility one should say things like: "Nothing is going to happen, everything will be just fine, so make no preparations whatsoever."

Yes one must maintain one's credibility at all costs, even if it means telling people to do nothing to prepare for any kind of disaster.

Ron P.

Begs the question: Why are optimists forgiven their miscalculations while pessimists are punished mercilessly?

That's a rhetorical question, right?

Yeah, Fred, a 'just finished a rack of ribs, two helpings of beans and most of a sixpack' question ;-)

The optimists always claim what they think is the moral high ground and any energy expended in the pursuit of such optimism is right and just.

When it comes to prediction and speculation about things like economics, it seems that often the problem lies simply in the scope.

We live in a world where everyone with credentials is a 'specialist', however the real world and its complexity is far beyond specialists and only generalists can bring enough variables together to begin to understand how to the 'overall situation'. This is why so many people were wrong about the economy from 2005 onward. There is an insane amount of variables and interactions. It's not just looking at numbers - there is major psychology, sociology, conspiracies (yes, they really exist, what else is a ponzi scheme?), and information black-holes.

For anyone to make a prediction and do it in such a way as to be convincing is hard work. It has high costs, and regardless of what you may think, it is not usually very self-rewarding even if one is spot-on.

It is considerably easier to criticise people for being wrong, than it is to put yourself out there. So regardless of your intentions Leiten, I don't give your comment much merit. It is neither original nor is it helpful. Cassandras already know what they face when they give speech. You are only expressing your own fear of exclusion.

Here 's an interesting analysis of the Yemen situation. It echoes some of Naomi Klien's Shock Doctrine and hints at how collapse may evolve in our own cabbage patch as time goes on. Yemen: 'Chaos by design'

...The middle class is very small in Yemen. That is a serious constraint on social mobilisation. The middle class has been basically disseminated by the ruling elite because they saw it as a potential political competitor so they made every effort to ensure the middle class disappears, by impoverishing the people, making them easier to control.

...For a number of years people have been complaining about the weakness of the state in Yemen and a lack of rule of law ...and all these signs of state failure and people were surprised because we have the resources to have some modicum of a state, but it was by design that the state chose to withhold its functions and not practice them because when there is greater chaos the possibility of controlling the few remaining sources of power becomes easier, so it was a mechanism for control.

Let's see

No real wage growth (in the US) for the past 10+ years - check
Cost of living (food & fuel) increasing every year by 3-5% - check
Elimination of social safety nets (what for it) - check
Deliberate elimination of programs that provide information and transparency- check

What did I forget?

Unemployed: The new Forgotten Underclass

Yesterday, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote a column entitled “The Forgotten Millions.” He states that,

“More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.”

"Washington has lost interest in the unemployed" because the vast public media has allowed that to happen. When washington does not get criticized for cooking the books on unemployment, CPI, our monetary situation, etc, etc. the result is an apathetic general population.
We have become a country filled with misinformed people. Whether the media's problem is due to corporate intervention, general apathy concerning accuracy, or widespread incompetence, the result is the same. We end up making decisions based on crappy data.
I thank my lucky stars that my mother instilled in me the desire to ferret out the truth from the garbage pail of media pontification. I thank the contributors to this blog especially, as it has been invaluable in allowing me to do that ferreting. Thanks guys for your amazing intellectual expertise.

There is not corporate intervention in the media. Their is (all but) total corporate ownership of the media. See here and here

Disney, Viacom, Newscorp, AOL/TW & Clear Channel own pretty much every megaphone there is to own...

What did I forget?

Massive right wing corporate funded propaganda apparatus making it all possible.


'Mega-Banks and the Next Financial Crisis'

That article is a fascinating look at what is probably our next economic step down via another series of bank failures.

He specifically targets the Fed's "unprecedented" policy of sustaining near-zero interest rates and its exercise in money-printing, "Quantitative Easing 2," that has it buying medium- and longer-term securities from the Treasury. "In effect they're treating confidence in fiat money—in paper money—as inexhaustible, that it's a tool that's able to be used not just in the throes of crisis," but also as "a virtually complete substitute for sound fiscal, regulatory and taxing policy."

In particular what caught my attention here was the line; 'In effect they're treating confidence in fiat money—in paper money—as inexhaustible.' It use to be money was only worth the precious metals that backed it up, then at some point alakazam - nothing backing up the dollar, absolutely zero, zilch, nada. Yet people still act as if it has value and that is what is keeping this end game going and allowing huge QE's to occur with apparent impunity, i.e. no loss of confidence in the currency.

But all this flim-flam accounting slight of hand is a time bomb waiting to go off, and when it does there go the banks again, down for the count. And what money will there be this time to hold their arses up? There's not going to be any AIG Corp. parties on the taxpayers dime this time, because the debt is too high.

The 2nd step down may be the last that can be overcome via fancy accounting tricks. The downward slide from there may be hard and quick.

You might be interested in this:


Of course we all know that a few extra trillion USD in the economy cannot have any inflationary consequences.

We are such sheep!


Syrian forces seal city after clashes kill 5

Syrian police sealed off a southern city Saturday after security forces killed at least five protesters there in the first sign that the Arab world's pro-democracy push is seeping into one of the region's most repressive places.

the bigger story is not in Libya but on the arabian peninsula. The violent attempts to put down demonstrations and return to the status quo is only going to escalate things.Snipers killing protesters and foreign troops in Bahrain have set off demonstrations in turkey and Iraq now Syria. The change coming to this region is long in coming and has a sense of inevitability about it, the fuse has been lit. A war here could draw in the entire world ,then naturally all bets are off.

While all these tyrannical dictators are shedding blood to stay in power the Dali lama steps down when no one asked him to . .

Saudi Arabia forces intervene in Yemen


Nova Scotia, as noted, may be keen on tidal power, but the UK government has abandoned tidal barrages / lagoons / other structures for the time being. The Severn estuary has about the same potential as the Bay of Fundy, roughly 8 GW peak. Or a double basin would be able to load-follow, with an average power less than this. The government wants to build new nuclear plants along the Severn instead.

Ironically, the Japanese quake/tsunami happened on the same day that a UK consultation closed on "electricity market reform" - which is UK code for central planning to adjust the "free market" to encourage and indeed subsidise new nuclear plants. I suspect the consultation responses will be binned.

The UK abandoned the Severn Barrage for some compelling reasons. I used to live in South Wales near the proposed site of the barrage. The tidal range is huge, and there is a lot of potential energy there. However I opposed the scheme on several grounds:
Technical difficulty, unproven technology, titanic and unaffordable expense, massive silting problems, destruction of the mudflats important for bird and fish, blocking of the deep water navigation access to Gloucester (which may become increasingly useful in future), loss of the amenity value of the estuary and ongoing maintenance problems with the mega structure in a highly dynamic environment. In my view a large nuclear plant construction at the existing nuclear site at Oldbury would have little additional risk and would provide a similar amount of power without the environmental impact and development risk.

FWIW Local scuttlebutt talk about the Barrage scheme was that it was a boondongle; that it would have been a bonanza for some of the locally "well connected" construction companies and their local politician friends and families. It would certainly have been an environmental disaster that in my view would never have produced the touted massive gigawattage, because only a small proportion of the advertised potential energy in the tidal flow would have been captured in reality. In EROI terms I doubt it would break even for a long time, a huge amount of concrete and steel would have been needed and the thing would in my view likely have needed continual dredgeing to clear the silt from draining approx third of the UK, all of which ends up in the estuary...

Exactly, the Severn is nothing like a clear river, more like mud soup. The mudflats are extensive and most of the shorelines are mud. The estuary is not fed by rivers flowing through rocky canyons but meander through glacial deposits. I suspect silting would not just affect the estuary but many of the feed rivers as well since they have long tidal stretches. These rivers already burst their banks when flooded and flooding would likely get worse. Your comment about a boondongle rings very true. Definitely glad it was scrapped.


French warplanes destroy four tanks

The UN is now in a hot war against Gadhafi. Now that he's lost his air-superiority, Gadhafi's tanks that are lined up on desert roads have turned into sitting ducks waiting to be taken out by ground attack aircraft. Just watch what he does now -- he'll skillfully try to intermingle his tanks and armored vehicles into urban areas where air attacks would inevitably lead to civilian casualties. Then he'll announce a series of on-again off-again cease fires to confuse the situation.

Any bets on what will happen to Libyan oil production in the next few month?

He already 'invited' journalist to his desert bunker. They didn't have a choice. (Can you say human shields)

Same goes for the 'crowds of supporters' in Tripoli standing next to his tanks.

There's going to be a lot of 'collateral damage' today.

Blimey, cruise missiles?

A US warship has launched cruise missiles against Libya, CNN reports.


What are their targets? I thought this was meant to be just a no-fly zone enforcement?

Edit: Ah ok:

[2:32 p.m. ET, 9:32 p.m. in Libya] A U.S. defense official said the United States is poised to launch cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, and that these strikes would target Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses. The United States is prepared to "defend its allies flying over Libyan airspace and enforce the no-fly zone," the official said.


i - Pretty much SOP I suspect: we'll use our aircraft to control the skies over Libya. But before you put air assets into a theater you take out the advisary's anti-aircraft capability. The cruise missles will likely target those assets. I suspect they'll also go after communication centers away from civilian areas. At some point we may go after armored assets that encroach rebel controlled areas. Taking out Q's fuel supplies might be an even more effective method to deny mobility. This might also have an important impact on moral of Q's infantry: air and armor support can make such troops feel invincible. Take it away and they begin to feel very naked very fast,

Thanks for that. I agree, I think the momentum has swung back the rebels way again very quickly. I imagine the top officials in Libya are in full blown panic mode just at this minute..

I'm not sure there is a good place to be in the Libyan military, but I think the worst place would be inside a tank. Let's hope for a run on white flags.

i - Just got a big update: 110 Tomahawks targeting anti-aircraft batteries and com centers. Commander made it clear: plow the highway and then send in the planes. That's when the turkey shoots begin. Remember the picture of the "Highway of Death" leading out of Kuwait back into Iraq? IOW what do you call armor crews without air cover? Dead men rolling. Another nice antiseptic war we can watch from our living rooms. Crispy critters still not a pleasant thought even when it's your adversaries. Millennia pass and all we seem to be able to do is improve our killing efficiency. Just another reason I suspect the PO trail will be rather bloody.

Yes, just following the announcement too - once they decide on something they don't hold back do they??

I have the same feeling. Large numbers of casualties isn't in anyone's interests. I think the rebels really just want Gadaffi and his croneys to step down so they can take over the media and start broadcasting unbiased information to the people of Libya - to try and undo the brainwashing so effectively done by Gadaffi over the last 40 years.

Here's hoping for a swift end to the conflict.

Well...President Obama has been getting lambasted for over a week about 'being AWOL' (Right wing talking point, said over and over again by various talking heads in succession)...now I am sure he will get lambasted for taking any amount and type of action, by many of the same people.

I do think that if this was some country further down in Africa which didn't have oil, we and the World would care a whole lot less.

I don't know what the 'right' answer is.


'Make War, No More'

Well, yes, you need look no further than Ivory Coast and the DR Congo for proof of that.

I just wonder what will happen following this. Will they be pressured into providing NFZs for countries that face similar oppression? If they don't, they'll take a bit of flak I imagine?

H - And if you've caught any of my rants about Equatorial Guinea you know even the presence of oil isn't always a factor. A long as the homicidal dictator keeps the oil flowing. No worry about rebels stirring matters up. They don't live past the first rally. El Presidente changed the constitution so he can now execute anyone without a trial. About half their oil comes to the US and the rest to the EU.

Ad yes...neither could care a whole lot less.

Funny you should mention Equatorial Guinea, have been reading up on them lately.

It's a strange situation over there because although it's a complete dictatorship and the vast majority of people live below the UN poverty line (despite the country having the highest GDP per capita in Africa, more so than even the UK), Obiang has improved some aspects of life.

For example his malaria programs have reduced deaths of children under 5 by around 60%. Education is now free and obligatory for all children. Illiteracy has fallen dramatically over recent decades. The country also has a decent medical school which is almost at the point of being self-sufficient in terms of providing enough doctors to care for its population.

Of course Obiang's rule leaves a lot to be desired and it's still a very repressive/oppressive regime over there. Still, just goes to show - always two sides to the coin eh!

i – Maybe my info is a little out of date. I worked in EG about 5 years ago. What data source are you reading? Thanks in advance.

Malaria: The first president for life, Obiang's uncle, established a malaria spraying program that eliminated the disease from the island nation. Obiang had his uncle assassinated and became the new president for life. El Presidente stopped the spraying program and malaria was wide spread at least when I was there. Easy to remember since I took my anti-malaria pills daily. Maybe he had a sudden case of remorse and began spraying again.

Food: Around 2002 there was a failed invasion of EG financed by M. Thatcher’s son. As a result Obiang had the EG commercial fishing fleet scuttled to prevent it being used in another invasion attempt. So folks surrounded by an ocean full of fish were suffering from protein deficiency when I was there. Walking skeletons is what I saw riding between the airport and the company’s compound. Probably one reason the locals developed a taste for giant (size of an orange) jungle snails. Our food (including all the fruit) on the drill ship came in by container from overseas. Not enough of a source on an island with a 500,000 population.

Education: Yep…if you were from Obiang’s tribe. I worked with the privileged few in the company’s compound. The common term used to describe the unprivileged was “dog”. Easy to translate being from Texas…they spoke Spanish. Again maybe El Presidente had remorse and begun a major school building campaign after I left.

Law: As I said he has now granted him the power to execute anyone without a trial. His stated rationalization: since he was in direct communication with God (Spanish Catholics) if it was OK with God then no one should have a problem. BTW I was warned by the company to not discuss politics with any local. A local caught doing so was subject to immediate execution. Along those same lines I read that a couple of years ago a reporter entered EG under false pretenses so he could report firsthand about life in EG. He was caught very quickly, roughed up (I think?) and put on the next plane out of EG.

Again, maybe my facts are out of date. Maybe God does speak directly to Obiang and finally decided to tell him to play nice. Maybe the source of your info was the state dept. A month ago a State talking ahead announced that Obiang was “one of the good guys”. He probably heard that from God too.

i - Not directing my cynicism at you personally. But even after just short visits to this hell hole it’s going to take a lot to change my impressions. Maybe if El Presidente stopped selling their oil to the US and EU and begin shipping it all to China maybe he’ll stop being one of the good guys and we’ll export freedom to EG.

Ah, it sounds like your source is a lot more reliable than mine - I was merely going by Wikipedia - not quite as useful as first hand accounts! The closest I've got is East Africa, the DR Congo was a small inconvenience in-between...

Sounds like it made quite an impression on you. I've actually had an urge to visit there for a while as it does seem like one of those mysterious countries forgotten by the outside world.

Like you say though, if the situation is benefiting the West at the moment, well, if it ain't broke...

i - I suspected your source wasn't from some insider willing to tell all. I also suspect someone is re-writting history...the malaria angle is a pretty good indicator IMHO. EG is certainly not a tourist locale. There is virtually nothing there to do except elicit suspicion. The job ended about the same time I decided I was going to give it up. Not so much for moral reasons but just too damn depressing. And a tad nerve racking: the govt takes your passport away when you enter and you get it back when they approve your leaving the country. Not a big deal until you put it into context. BTW there’s an old movie that can give you a better sense of EG even though it was made long ago. It’s the “Dogs of War” with Christopher Walken.

Great stuff, will check it out - the name rings a bell.

Yes I can imagine things were pretty tense over there! Like you say, actions like taking a passport seem innocuous enough until you're caught up in the midst of unexpected strife. I feel for those foreign journalists that Gadaffi has taken prisoner in Tripoli - you know he's going to play the hostage card at some point...

Ah, it sounds like your source is a lot more reliable than mine - I was merely going by Wikipedia - not quite as useful as first hand accounts!

The thing about Wikipedia is that anybody can edit it. On any controversial topic where money or politics are at stake you will find two main sources of misinformation: 1) Shills for the interested parties (e.g. people working for the president-for-life of EG) and, 2) People who get all their information from the mainstream media.

Sometimes you can catch the shills by tracking IP addresses. If they originate in the Presidential Palace in EG, you can be relatively sure they are biased. Wikipedia has caught a number coming from offices in the Pentagon, the CIA, and the White House among other places. However some of the others, notably working for the automobile or tobacco industries, can be a lot more subtle. The people who get all their information from the MSM are also hard to stop from putting misinformation in articles because they are very opinionated on topics they know nothing about, and vastly outnumber the experts in the field.

On some academic topic that nobody but academics care about, you will get quite accurate information, because only experts who know a lot about it will have edited the article, and they will feel an academic obligation to present all sides of any controversy.

Good points. I've often been amazed at the depth of some of the obscure articles on there - like you say created by experts in the field.

I must say though it's hard to know where else to go for a decent source of information on such a wide range of topics.

i - Always nice to think about a happy ending. But reality doesn't always match. Evil dictators will often allow stabilty even though the cost can be high. I think about the internal conflicts that have been prevented, or at least muted, like between the two prime Muslim sects. Even the end of our Civil War didn't go very smoothly.

Right. I think as long as Gadaffi remains in Libya there won't be stability.

If he flees, or is killed, then perhaps things could change. Of course they'd also have to remove the whole lot of them at the top - Saif et al - if they really want to start with a clean slate.

Must say I have been very impressed with the efficiency / level-headedness of the Interim Transitional National Council. I think they would be a breath of fresh air as far as state affairs go if they get their chance..

Am agreed about the TNC. However, because of the amount of destruction the civil war seems to be causing, I think the country will go through a prolonged period of tough times. A few weeks back, when it looked like they might score an easy victory, things looked better. Taking over with minimal violence, and a quater barrel per day per capita oil exports would have left the country in a strong position. But, now it will take a while to rebuild what has been lost. Including a sense of safety for foreign expertise, and Libyan expatriots.

Yeah that's true.

On the other hand, in a kind of perverse way it almost seems like you need a momentous battle like this to really instil the idea into the people that things have gone beyond the point of no return and things can never be the same again. You get the feeling that if it had been a smooth, quick coup then perhaps just the face would have changed while the machinery in the background would keep on grinding.

This way you get to burn out all the lice hiding in the cracks and start from scratch.

And why would there be stability after his demise?

Mainly because the majority of people in the country seem to share a common goal - for his removal. There are a few Gadaffi loyalists but they don't seem to be anywhere near the number of anti-Gadaffi civilians.

It's not the same as having a civil war between 2 large opposing forces. The Tribes are uniting with one common purpose: http://ntclibya.org/english/allegiances/

Plus the quality of life for the vast majority of people will increase - hard to sow discord when things are on the up!

Majority? How much of one? I think media coverage early on seemed to suggest about 10 people supported Gadaffi. Also, the Northern Alliance had a common goal of defeating the Taliban. Hasn't led to Afghan stability, though.

As for the quality of life increasing, we'll see.

I think it's a different situation. They're not fighting an ideology, just a tyrant.

I think the outcome will be quite different but you're right, it remains to be seen.

Don't be surprised if it's not as easy as you make out Rockman.

As I pointed out yesterday, Gaddafi has been out looking for weapons for decades now, and the chances of him not picking up some tasty, portable AD missiles is low. The operating model of the US & western airforces is well known, and frankly he's less the smart tyrant than he's thought to be if he hasn't prepared.

My take is that the military will disintegrate and/or switch sides. Countries like that have too much vacuum, not unlike Iraq under Saddam, some Iraqi troups fought, but many were surrendering at first opportunity,when confronted with larger force. Fighting rebels is one thing, F-14, Tornados, Rafals etc is another. Remember the picture of a young American soldier, scared to death, supervising a hundred of Iraqis?

Interesting question is about tribal affinities in Libya. I think that will be a determinant of stability.

Minot tidbit:

U.S. F-14 Tomcats have been retired for years, replaced by F-18 E/F SuperHornets.

Tornados, check, old but still around...will likely be replaced by EuroFighters and F-35 Lightning IIs.

Rafales - Check. Newer French aircraft.

All applicable taxpayers' tax funds hard at work.

Make War - No More.

Even the nest Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) only shoot several miles and have a limited ceiling...due to their bein Man Portable (shoulder/tripod-launched).

Cruise missiles keep the delivery aircraft and their aircrew out of harms way.

Something we learned in the first Libya bombing ca 1985 (Operation El Dorado Canyon).

Even going with bombs, we now have various sizes of bombs with cheap GPS/INS guidance which can be dropped from aircraft may miles out of range of sort-range air defense systems and from rather high altitude. The U.S. 2000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is one of numerous examples now fielded in the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands...they have mostly replaced 'dumb iron bombs.

Not cheerleading, just putting some facts in the debate.

Our tax dollars hard at work.

The real issue is, even with our fanciest air-delivered weapons and air power tactcis, I am not (and have never been) convinced that air dominance alone, without boots o the ground, is sufficient to make a determined group/force/government bend to the attackers' will.

Make War - No More.

have never been) convinced that air dominance alone, without boots o the ground, is sufficient to make a determined group/force/government bend to the attackers' will.

In this case the boots on the ground are presumed to be Libyan rebels. Although Al Jazeera's Libya blog claims British Special agents have been on the ground for at least a couple of weeks. I don't expect any US boots on the ground. This looks to be mainly a European affair, with the US supplying its unique capabilities to take out air defenses etc.

We will simply have to wait and see what happens. Added yet another "interesting" event to keep track of....

It's difficult to remain 'standoffish' if you are looking to take out ground forces, which is what they say they will.

Usually this is down to helicopters, but given the air based nature of this conflict, and the lack of hills, they are essentially out. Instead we'll be talking about aircraft in a ground attack role. While it is possible to lob JDAMs at al from altitude, you usually are going to want to be low, under cloud, etc.

Hence the MANPAD issue.

And as for boots on the ground, it's spin told by the Army. Have you ever noticed it's when they get involved that it all goes to hell? Much, much better to clip the wings of the dictatorship from the air (and lop off the odd leg), allowing the locals to finish the job themselves. Army is only semi-useful when you want to occupy and dominate said country - and even then....

clip the wings of the dictatorship from the air (and lop off the odd leg), allowing the locals to finish the job themselves.

Plus, we gotta give the locals a plausible reason to claim they did it themselves.

Maybe "no fly zones" means no flies. Just guessing.

Haha.. Would prefer a 'No F_____ Lies Zone' to be honest...

I am a bit on a cynical side, again. All sorts of weaponry has expiry date and I am sure the military would not mind testing a cruise missile in real mission environment, rather than slowly dismantle in base. And then they can ask for replacement with next generation devices.

Canuck - I've read we have the next generation of Tomahawks/cruise missils already developed. This may be a good opportunity to test them in theater. Could come in handy when we eventually annex Canada. Heck...did I say that out loud? Shhhhhhhh.

Mr. Rockman: You funny! Heh! Heh!

Yeah, but we'd only annex to get a better hockey team. We are just so tired of losing.

Oct - Yep. Just one more benefit. Banff Park is even a better one.

Don;t let Rocky Mtn Guy hear you say that - it is right on his doorstep.

The only thing that would change in Banff if this happened is less Japanese and more Americans. That would mean more English speaking retail clerks, but also more watery American beer. Hopefully one thing that would not change is the total ban on snowmobiling - unlike at Yellowstone Nat Park.

Did I mention that some people think there is oil under Banff NP?

Don;t let Rocky Mtn Guy hear you say that - it is right on his doorstep.

Banff National Park is about an hour's walk from my back door. If I see any American tanks rumbling by, I'll be one of the guys hiding behind the trees with a rocket launcher. We can't have them disturbing the wildlife in the park.

I mean, Canada's oil IS for sale, and it's a lot cheaper than an invasion. We bought a lot of those gee-whiz military toys from them, and in the event of an invasion they could expect to see a lot of them coming right back at them.

we know how to use them because we build a lot of the parts and helped test them. For that matter, we helped them build the first atomic bomb. They had to test them on their own ground, though.

We've already tested American cruise missiles for them, and they worked fine. People were concerned about them going right overhead, but none of them crashed so it was okay. They couldn't have a 1000-mile long test range in the US. And then there's Undersea Weapons Testing Area Whiskey Golf, blocking navigation where I moor my boat in BC. I think the real reason the US military doesn't want to invade Canada is because they wouldn't have a friendly country to test their new weapons in before they invaded an unfriendly country.

The Brits seem to think somewhat the same way. See: British Army Training Unit Suffield

The British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) is a British Army unit located at the vast training area of Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Alberta, Canada. BATUS is the British Army's largest armoured training facility and it can accommodate live-firing and tactical effect simulation (TES) exercises up to brigade level.

The Brits lost their main armoured training facility in Libya when Colonel Gaddafi took over, so they moved it here. I bet Gaddafi didn't expect to see British jets flying around his country again. And this time it's not an exercise.

I mean, Canada's oil IS for sale, and it's a lot cheaper than an invasion.

You, know, sometimes I think America has forgotten this.
China is is busy buying up Cdn oil properties because America is not interested, pipelines are being planned to the west coast for exports to China, while America argues over the new Keystone XL pipeline, that will take Cdn oil to the same place where America receives its imports from the middle east.

For the defense contractors, getting oil from Canada just doesn't offer any business opportunities - everywhere else, you get to spend money on the oil and on military hardware.

Funny thing is, these days, all the spending on military hardware is ultimately being financed by - China.

Rocky - So damn jealous of you I could spit blood! LOL. My last trip up spent a week in a cabin outside of Jasper overlooking the Ath. River. My city gal wife still talks about it often. It still makes me laugh: while unpacking the car she came running back from the river yelling that there were "three big things in the water". Was 3 elk doe. Her biggest thrill was watching momma griz and two cubs up close...from inside te car, of course.

I think it may be time for another trip. Love those long summer days. And she still wants to see the one thing she missed last time: wild moose. Even drove over to BC looking for one. Couldn't even find one at Moose Lake. LOL

she still wants to see the one thing she missed last time: wild moose. Even drove over to BC looking for one. Couldn't even find one at Moose Lake. LOL

Banff is not necessarily ideal from the moose perspective - too many people. Try the Spray Valley southwest of Banff - the Chester Lake and Burstall Pass parking lots in particular. They spend the winter licking the salt off of people's cars. It's kind of a mobile salt lick from their perspective, and a free car wash from ours. The summer they spend munching the vegetation in the meadow near the Mount Engadine Lodge. I saw seven of them near the lodge one morning.

If you want to see LOTS of moose, try northwestern Alberta. We used to call the oil fields up there "moose pasture", and with good reason. It's a lot easier for moose to get around than oilfield equipment. Trucks don't have the long legs and big flat feet for getting through the swamps. Moose figure the swampier the better. They're weird-looking and weird-acting animals, not to mention huge, but really well adapted for their lifestyle.

As for elk - we have a herd of about 300 of them that wander through town from time to time. I haven't seen the lately, but it's getting close to the time for them to make their annual migration to their summer pastures. They like to hang out in town because there are too many wolves in the deep woods. They're afraid of wolves, but not of us humans, and with good reason. They know we're not allowed to shoot them in town.

Yes, the 'Tactical Tomahawk'.


”Tactical Tomahawk” equips the TLAM with a TV-camera for battlefield observation loitering that allows warfighting commanders to assess damage to the target and to redirect the missile to an alternative target. Additionally the Tactical Tomahawk is able to be reprogrammed in-flight to attack one of 16 predesignated targets with GPS coordinates stored in its memory or to any other GPS coordinates. Also, the missile can send data about its status back to the commander. It entered service with the US Navy in late 2004.

I doubt this is the first time it has been tactically employed (meaning to shoot at someone fer real).

They did claim in past episodes of use that they like to rotate their stock. Use up the older missiles, then get resupplied with shiny new ones. Whats not to like! They gotta share the launching with several ships, so more crewmen can bask in the glory, and add active duti in a real live shooting war to their military CVs. They already released photos of missile launches to the media.

I do not dispute anything you said.

Please do not forget the USAF/USN rivalry for glory, and specifically, future budget authority.

CALCM was still secret during the Gulf War in 1991, while the Navy got all the publicity for introducing their Tomahawk cruise missile to combat. CALCM was actually used in the Gulf War, but this was not publicly revealed until 1992, when the Air Force reported that seven B-52Gs had fired 35 CALCMs at eight targets in northern Iraq.


Gee, if we embraced vehicles with 40-60+ mpg and EVs and drove less to boot (need...big....fuel....tax), we wouldn't have to have to be nearly as involved in the perils of foreign entanglements.

Could come in handy when we eventually annex Canada.

Rockman, normally such a comment would miff me (albeit it in a friendly way :-), but after watching the Canadian government announce - on the night of U.N. 1973 - that it was sending aircraft to assist with the no-fly zone and then listening to Prime Minister Harper in Paris strutting his stuff only to find out that the six CF18s sent on the mission will require another two days before being prepared for battle, please, please, someone put us out of our misery!!

If the U.S. ever did launch an attack against the Great White North, give us at least five weeks advance notice. We might be ready for some kind of response by then.

And just to update folks, there is a fairly good chance the government will be defeated this week on a non-confidence motion and that Canadians will be heading to the polls. A quick victory in Libya - by British and French forces - would entitle the Conservatives bragging rights as they campaign across the land.

Not that that is any consideration as we act on humanitarian grounds.

There are moments when I think we should appeal to the Italians to give us Silvio Berlusconi. At least we would have someone oddly newsworthy to see on our nightly newscasts.

Z – I get your point…sorta. I was raised to be career military. Minor spinal damage changed that plan very early on. Looking back on how the US chose to spend our human assets over the last few decades I can’t say I’m anymore satisfied with our history than Canada’s. We pick and chose which maniac we support/attack and has been often difficult for me to follow the logic. At least the moral logic…the political logic sometimes easy to understand.

BTW - I feel free to tease my Canadian cousins because I do have respect for them in general.

BTW - I feel free to tease my Canadian cousins because I do have respect for them in general.

Rockman, that comes across. Cheers!

I, along with most Canucks I think, have a healthy respect for Americans. They make good neighbours and are our big brothers who help out in a crunch. Critical comments, where voiced, are meant to be taken constructively. I hope that comes across too :-)

If the U.S. ever did launch an attack against the Great White North, give us at least five weeks advance notice.


please, please, someone put us out of our misery!!

Shhhh. Someone might hear you. We have more than enough crazies, don't give them any ideas.

Could come in handy when we eventually annex Canada, Heck...did I say that out loud? Shhhhhhhh.

Inconspicuous methods work too: The integrated border/perimeter idea might be the next small step in this direction.

But as far as Tomahawk's go, first, what would you shoot with them? Fort McMurray - bad idea, that's where the juice is. Trophy size moose are far apart. And we know that one tomahawk was never a match for a moose :-)

Like a Scotsman once said 'if that's a Canadian Moose I'd nae like to see a Canadian Rat'.


Strangely quiet about Bahrain.

Anyone else get the impression a backroom deal was made with the Saudi's to the effect of "you can have your no-fly zone over Libya, but only if we get to roll into Bahrain and stomp those uppity Shi'ites"?


Jerry, my conscience hopes you're wrong.

It would be sad to find out there was a side deal with SA to free it to do nasty stuff to the Shia.

Hapless to the oppressed everywhere, however, consciences are not a requirement among diplomats.

consciences are not a requirement among diplomats.

They probably give them a battery of tests to screen those out before letting them start a career.

The US Air Force had begun development work on a "Conventional ALCM (CALCM)" variant back in 1986, after US air attacks on Libya in 1985 codenamed Operation EL DORADO CANYON. Flight tests of the AGM-86C CALCM began in 1987. The program was kept secret, ...


The current crop of stand-off missiles were developed in no small part due to the El Dorado Canyon experience.

Now they are being used on the same country which prompted their development.

Historical tidbit.

CNN reporting 110 Tomahawk missles fired on Libya.

The average cost of a Tomahawk missile is close to $1.5 million. But this takes into account the initial research and development costs.


I'll let you do the math, (by the way Libya, you're welcome :-/

Those missiles are worth more than all that is in Libya.
Depending on France to win the war.....LOL!

Depending on France to win the war.....LOL!

France? You don't think France can defeat Qaddaffi's armed forces? I will say this for France - they did a good job of avoiding that quagmire Bush jr. got us into in Iraq. They also let the US take over for them in Vietnam in the 60's. Smart guys.

110 Tomahawk missiles * $1.5 million each = $165 million

1.5 Mb/d of crude oil * $115 / barrel = $173 million

One day of crude oil production in Libya is worth more than those Tomahawk cruse missiles.

I was wondering about the costs actually. In these situations what's the official source for the money?

Is it paid in debt by the country they help at a later date? Or is it simply funded as part of the US' military budget? Or is it treated like foreign aid?

Does anyone have followup information on story posted in New Orleans Times Picayune today on reported large oil slick near Macondo Field area about 30 miles offshore from Louisiana coast?


"The Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Deepwater Horizon site. According to a knowledgeable source, the slick was sighted by a helicopter pilot on Friday and is about 100 miles long. A fishing boat captain said he went through the slick yesterday and it was strong enough to make his eyes burn."

How unlikely is it that the Macondo well burst its seal? What's down there, still, anyway?

Matt – Possible but not likely if they plugged it properly. OTOH I’ve never seen details of the P&A. The initial report mentions a sheen and not a slick. Could be natural...lots of those out there. Just my WAG but my first guess would be that some large ship dumped its bilge before entering a port. That’s been a problem for decades. Might be from another well/production facility. The way it’s described the sheen is proximal to a great many other wells /facilities/pipelines besides the BP nightmare.

Matterhorn Seastar looks like the name of the relevant rig. Also looks like someone may have known about this since 2pm on Friday:

Its OK, BP are not involved here, so everything will be just fine. Oh wait - its the cheese eating surrender monkeys that are the operators (Total). Time for some - more - frog bashing? Good to divert attention from the Amurkan rig owners - worked pretty well last time.

Sorry - cynicism in full flow this morning after spending too long watching yet another war develop - where we will kill countless conscripts, fools and civilians instead of surgically removing the root cause of the problem - the Gaddafi family. That the 22 countries involved do not have the necessary intelligence and assetts to achieve this is something I do not believe. I guess the precedent of terminating other heads of state is something that perhaps our leaders do not wish to set. Better by far to kill thousands of innocents.

Kind of like the Tom Lehrer song about the Irish Maid 'who did her whole family in..'

"And when at last the police came by,
sing Rickety Tickety Tin
When at last the police came by, her childish pranks she did not deny,
To do so she would have had to LIE..... and lying she knew was a Sin, a Sin..
Lying she knew was a sin."


follow up, maybe fresh oil coming ashore:

2012 Baby!

No news update as of Sunday morning at nola.com, but here are two updates with roughly the same information:

The source seems to be the Matternhorn SeaStar oil rig (about 20 miles from the DWH location and 30 miles from the Louisiana coastline), which was bought by W&T Offshore last year from TotalFinaElf E&P. W&T says the Matterhorn field has been producing about 5200 barrels per day. The slick is reported to be about 12 miles wide and nearly 100 miles long.

There are also reports of fresh oil coming ashore near South Pass, Louisiana, new boom being laid near the beach, and a substance being sprayed on the shore by cleanup crews. The NRDC blog mentions that this spill coincides with the spring break tourist season.

Our world makes me sad.

Concerning Gadaffi. I was brought up in a delightful English village 1,000 year old Norman church a ruined castle overlooking the river village green and two old pubs that no one know how old they are. A few years ago a local couple got married in the beautiful old church, set off straight after the wedding for a honeymoon in America. Unfortunately didn't get any further than Lockerbie. It hit the village hard. They are now buried in the churchyard. I am not really a vindictive person. I only hope that when they catch this Ruritanian monster who wouldn't get a job as doorman at the Savoy if the truth was known, is dispatched in the manner of Mussolini, only this time not by being hung up dead by his feet from a lamppost but by his wedding tackle from an oil rig. I am sorry if I offend people but I have seen at first hand the affect this deluded loon can have.

I have a very uneasy feeling about all of this. More so than Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes Gaddafi should be removed but the rhetoric from Russia is worrying and against a backdrop of apparently tolerated (by the west) unrest in the other gulf states, it could well embolden the flight for freedom in all other gulf states and completely destabilise the whole ME.

I am very worried this time round for a reason I can't pinpoint.......


More so than Iraq/Afghan?? Gadaffi was in the midst of a murderous rampage through his own people to satisfy his own pride, he's completely lost his mind! Numerous clips of video footage both amateur and from professional media testify to this. The opposition Interim Transitional National Council has already demonstrated how level-headed and balanced they would be in comparison to Gadaffi's oligarchical rule. Numerous international human rights organisations and charities have appealed for a stop to Gadaffi's vengeance. It has UN approval and The Arab League itself has asked for intervention.

I can hardly see a clearer reason to go in. Iraq was a much more murky affair.

The oil factor is bound to cause suspicion, but I think it will turn out to be of less consequence than people fear.

It's all very well being worried about destabilisation in the Middle East but you have to remember there are millions of people over there living under tyrannical rule. Is it right to expect them to remain that way? Rather than being a crisis point it could turn out to be the start of a much more liberated, amenable group of neighbours. Think positive!

i – “Iraq was a much more murky affair.” Seems like much of life these days is getting murky if you put the correct spin on it. The world is against Q because of his brutal treatment of civilians. Yet Sadam’s record is rather well documented along those lines. And many think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps not when the US attacked but he obviously did at one point in time. He documented it himself: I vividly recall the Iraq films of dead women, children (including babies) and elderly in a Kurd village they attached with poison/nerve gas. A very vivid image of a dead woman holding her dead baby with smiling Iraqi soldiers kneeled next to her for a photo op. Funny how I never saw that film again after the first airing. And then there’s the 100’s of thousands of Africans slaughtered because they foolishly were born to the wrong tribe. Didn't see many images of that carnage by the MSM. Perhaps those pics were too murky to air also.

Even murkier today: the US and most of the EU supports going after a dictatorial Libyan leader using troops, some foreign, to kill his civilian protesters. Yet a rather murky silence over a dictatorial Bahrain leader using foreign Saudi troops to kill civilian protesters. Perhaps the distinction is the body count. A somewhat murky metric, don’t you think? I suspect as we go further down the PO, peak water, peak food, etc, paths matters will become even murkier. That is if we redefine “murky” as “don’t look too close…you won’t like the answer you’ll find”.

I would be happier with a less murky political theater. If we’re going to kill some folks to secure oil then just say so. As we often ask when someone is killed in Texas: "Well yeah...but he needed killin', didn't he?" If we’re going to kill some folks to prevent them from influencing others against our interest just say so. How many folks do you think really buy the double speak even as the publicly deny it? The official US position is that our goal isn’t to remove Q but to just protect civilians. So are we about to embark on an extended mission to protect other civilians threatened by their govts? If not than what murky basis do we pick and chose?

A Marine scout once said: an honorable sniper shoots to kill...a dishonorable sniper shoots to wound. Don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me. In either case the objective is the same: defeat your advisary. But that philosophy keeps occurring to me as I review US policies over the last few decades.

Ah yeah.. it's a conundrum alright, make no mistake!

I just honestly don't see that the international community had the option to sit out for much longer. It was getting too much attention worldwide. You saw the flak the UN took from Rwanda, what if had let another happen right under its nose? And so soon after?

It's a good example of how much power the media wields. Much worse is going on in the DR Congo, and has been for some time now, but it just doesn't receive the coverage - and as such the pressure just isn't there for governments to act.

We'll have to see what happens with the oil, but as one Libyan said to the BBC: "Someone has to stop him. The price of freedom is beyond the oil. We had oil for the last 43 years and what are the results? A school that has no windows."

P.s. I don't get the sniper saying myself, but perhaps that's because I'm not a military person! ;-)

I – That's my point. The world had the option to step into the African slaughter and decided to pass. Compared to taking out the Libyan military a battalion of Marines could have easily ended that nightmare in Africa and saved a countless number of innocents. The world has no problem letting EG alone either. How about closer to home: in Mexico probably 10X times as many civilians have been killed by the cartel while the corrupt/incompetent govt stands by and watches. Maybe a Mexican’s life isn’t worth as much as a Libyan’s. Maybe it's not as bad when innocents are slaughtered under a democraticly elected govt than a dictatorship.

That’s what I meant about not looking too close at the different actions we take. And when you do it’s difficult to see a common motivation IMHO. That’s why I think your “murky” is a good description. Perhaps sadly it just depends who has the best PR machine working for them.

p.s. The dark explanation: kill an advisory and you degrade their capabilities a bit. Wound a man and now several have their capabilities degraded taking care of the wounded man. Also, snipers are primarily a psychological weapon more so than tactical. That’s why a sniper will usually go after command individuals. Besides degrading the command structure leaders tend to be popular and thus brings about additional emotional degradation. Just one more reason to avoid war if it’s at all possible. Children in a combat zone is an even better reason. But that’s why if you do go to war be sure you know exactly why and don’t use half measures. Winning a war tends to cost a good bit more than many can accept.

Yeah, 'tis a mystery...

I don't think anyone really truly understands the dynamics of the world - it's far too chaotic!

Let's stick with murky then lol.

Funny that about the commanders - I always remember thinking when you see those who used to ride out at the front of their battalions with the men. It's like some kind of odd balance between being conspicuous enough so that your men take courage from having their commander alongside them and trying to avoid being picked off from afar for exactly the opposite reason!

i - That was a big factor in poor morale eventually in Viet Nam. Higher ranking officers were often "mile high commandos": they sometimes "led" from choppers at 5,000' out of the range of enemy fire. The mud puppies were often led on the ground by young junior officers with little experience. The real tactical leaders were commonly the noncoms. And add the kids of affluent familis that could get college deferments to the mix and it's not difficult to understand some of the dicipline problems experienced in the bush. And then add the falling support for the war at home. Morale didn't stand a chance eventually.

But from what I read the military did learn some lessons. But the still have to deal with the politics overlayed on their missions.

But killing people lowers the total population. That should be a good thing from a GW/PO point of view, no?

(hopping into my flame suit) WeekendPeak

Yet if you look at population stats, few wars actually lead to lower populations. I suspect enough raping is done to make up for the loses.

few wars actually lead to lower populations.

Well, you have to realize that in most wars, the vast majority of the fatalities are male. It has been demonstrated that if you kill off most of the men in a country, the surviving men are able and willing to make up for the rest in fathering the next generation.

I believe that is why warlike societies tend toward polygamy. If they are chronically short of men, the remaining men just marry more women and father the same number of children.

It has been demonstrated that the key to keeping population growth down is educating women and providing them with good birth control methods. What the men do is more or less irrelevant.

Rocky - "What the men do is more or less irrelevant". So true...at least that how my ex-wives feel.

Many of the anti personnel weapons designed in the last 100 years were not designed to kill but to maim. The thought being if you kill a soldier one man is out of the fight, but if you wound him two others need to take him away. Simple logistics.

treeman - Yep...the sad reality. And toe poppers cost almost nothing to make. So much worse when the civilian population is worked into the calculus. Like many of the old farts here I grew up on a steady diet of John Wayne war movies. Not quit the real world...at least not today.

if you wound him two others need to take him away.

And then after he is sent home, years of expensive medical care follow. It is about making the enemy pay as high a price as possible.

I am very worried this time round for a reason I can't pinpoint.......

Some pinpoints:

1. This is another war for oil to be financed with debt.

2. It is starting like Iraq and Afghanistan with air strikes and no ground troops. Gaddafi has supporters. That means a long fight and little if any oil from Libya for long while. See Iraq.

3. The U.S. is now supporting al Qaeda in Libya and fighting its former ally the Taliban in Afghanistan while also fighting al Qaeda hiding in Pakistan. Who says foreign policy has to make sense?


4. Obama looks more and more like George Bush III. With Iowa causes less than a year way, he wants to have another war going come election day.

5. Obama has failed in Afghanistan and is now doubling down with Libya just as Bush II failed in Iraq and doubled down in Afghanistan.

6. Hatred for Gaddafi has replaced hatred for Sadam.

7. Even if the rebels with the help of al Qaeda trained personal win in Libya, it is likely the new regime will be at least influenced by al Qaeda. Perhaps Osama bin Laden will be able to leave Pakistan for a warmer climate.

But not to worry. Americans will not change presidents in the middle of war. Barry is counting on it. He can call any opposition unpatriotic. It works every time.

3. The U.S. is now supporting al Qaeda in Libya

Good grief! Are you serious?

Next he'll tell us that the rebels are being drugged be Osama and Obama.

You mean Obsama?

The US did support Al Qaeda in Lebanon just after the shiite Hezbollah fought Israeli army to a standstill during the summer of 2006. After that brief war the prestige of Hezbollah and shiites skyrocketed in the Arab world. Hezbollah became more popular and powerful in Lebanon. The Bush administration countered by funding and arming sunni Al Qaeda in Lebanon. So while the US was fighting AQ in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, it was supporting it in Lebanon.

Fair enough, I don't know much about the situation over there. But to say that siding with the Libyan people is tantamount to siding with Al Qaeda is bordering on ludicrous.

I agree.
However, is the US siding with the Libyan people or does it simply want to replace Gaddafi with a pro American dictator? Remember during the first gulf war, Bush/Jim Baker urged the shiites to rise against Saddam Hussein. When they (the shiites) came very close to becoming successful, Bush/Jim Baker pulled the rug from under them. US military destroyed the captured weapons instead of handing them over to the shiites, shiites militias were prevented from marching on Baghdad, and Saddam was allowed to massacre them with his helicopter gunships that were curiously allowed to fly in spite of the no fly zone. The US did not want a popular shiite revolution over which they had no control to succeed. They just wanted to replace Saddam with a pro American dictator.

I believe the same thing is true now in case of Libya.

They just wanted to replace Saddam with a pro American dictator.

That's not my take on the situation. I've never seen the US so nervous, timid, uncertain, and worried about what the rest of the world thinks before. To me it seems like the Americans have learned something from Iraq and Afghanistan. Or maybe it's just a sign of an empire in decline?

That's not my take on the situation.


When it looked as if the insurgents might actually succeed, the American president turned his back. The White House and its allies wanted Saddam replaced not by a popular revolt which they couldn’t control but by a military leader more amenable to U.S. interests. They were also fearful that Iranian influence might spread in the wake of a Shiite takeover. In fact, American officials refused to meet with rebel leaders who were not under Iran’s control and were desperate to explain their cause.

The U.S. is now supporting al Qaeda in Libya

Interesting. As the real Al Qaeda has come out in support of Qaddafi.

not to worry, debt and oil are just abstractions. ;)

X, I believe most of your points are either incorrect or irrelevant to the current situation. As far I can tell, this is what happened:
1. The current Libyan insurrection started as a home-grown political movement to get rid of yet another entrenched Arab dictator. This was NOT imposed by western interests.
2. Gadhafi couldn't handle the humiliation of being kicked out of power by his own people.
3. So he decided that the only way to stay in power was to implement a brutal crackdown of his own people.
4. After the crackdown started, he soon found out that a significant fraction of his own military personnel didn't agree with him and either refused to crush the protesters or joined them.
5. So he hired mercenaries from Chad, Niger, Mali, etc. who had no qualms about killing unarmed protesters.
6. The protesters raided arm cashes and together with deserting army personnel formed a rag-tab rebel army.
7. This led to civil war.
8. Gadhafi was caught by surprise by the speed of the revolution and the rebels made huge initial territorial gains.
9. The rebels then formed civil organizations in rebel-controlled territories.
10. After getting organized, Gadhafi's loyalists used their superior weapons and training to lay seige and eventually recapture a significant portion of the lost territory.
11. Shocked by Gadhafi's brutal crackdown of the rebels, the UN established a no-fly zone over Libya.
12. Western air-forces destroyed Gadhafi's air force and anti-aircraft weapons, and also destroyed tanks, armored vehicles, and other equipment that was being used to retake the last rebel held cities.

My prediction for the future:
1. Once Gadhafi's military advantage over the rebels is lost, the rebels will capture most of the country and kick Gadhafi out of power. I don't see a stalemate happening because I believe most Libyans don't want Gadhafi to stay in power.
2. Yes, Libya is a tribal society and there could very well be tribal tensions after Gadhafi's rule is gone, but Libya appears to be more cohesive than Afghanistan.

Spot on. There's no conspiracy here. At least for what's happened so far. We'll have to wait and see what develops but hopefully this will be one occasion with a happy ending.

Here's hoping.

There is another possibility. The rebels in Libya might suffer the same fate as the shiite rebels in Iraq just after the first gulf war (see above). I guess the real question is not what the Libyan people want; it is what the western powers want. Do they want genuine democracy in Libya or do they want a pro Western dictator? Remember a free and democratic people are going to act in their own interest. Will it be acceptable if a democratic Libya recognizes the palestinian state, voluntarily cuts oil exports to make them last longer, uses the oil revenue to develop their own country instead of enriching the western bankers and the casino owners in Monte Carlo & Las Vegas? What if a genuinely democratic Egypt lifts the blockade on Gaza and allows free flow of people, goods and weapons? They could argue that if the US has a right to arm Israel, they have a right to arm the Palestinians.

I think they want a degree of stability. The Europeans are scared to death of having to absorb a couple of million refugees. Of course they want the oil spigot turned back on. And most of their people, as opposed to hard-nosed foreign policy pros, can identify with the desires of the rebels. A half finished civil war is bad for all these reasons. As is a Q victory. So I don't think anyone currently is scheming to sell them up the river.

there is something too casual about the way we all got swept along.... your uneasy feeling you can not quite crystalize is something I share.

thou I do tend to side with the rebels here... and its not as thou I am 100% against the action its more I am in favour of it and for me that is unusual.

I agree fully. I can feel great compassion for these revolutionaries. And we are in need of our own anti-Oligarch revolution over here. Although I think we are years away from figuring that out. But at least from a global perspective, if 300 million over there win their freedom, while we piss ours away, it balances out. But who knows how this thing is going to play out? Unexpected complications are the norm for such operations.
And even if the rebels were to roll over Tripoli next week (fat chance eh), there is still the very large risk in how the process will play out in the rest of MENA.

No one knows what happened. All we know is that someone is to blame.

It is that the Lockerbie bombing was carried out not by Libyans at all but by terrorists based in Syria and hired by Iran to avenge the shooting down in the summer of 1988 of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship. This was the line followed by both British and US police and intelligence investigators after Lockerbie. Through favoured newspapers like the Sunday Times, the investigators named the suspects - some of whom had been found with home-made bombs similar to the one used at Lockerbie.


"Our world makes me sad."

"The Stolen Child" W. B. Yeats


Ah, KalimankuDenku,

You have cited my all time favorite poem...


Thank you, KalimankuDenku. Always loved this version, but never read into lyrics.

Heating oil use falls as prices rise
Consumers cut back, find alternatives

PORTLAND, Maine — No longer are Tom Wright’s heating costs tied to events a world away over which he has no control. Faced with a $10,000 heating bill, he got rid of his oil furnace and brought in a wood pellet stove to heat his home and office.

Oil and gasoline prices are sky-high, and heating oil use is tumbling as people find alternative ways to stay warm — evidence that Americans’ efforts to wean themselves off oil can bear fruit.

“It’s more than just watching the price of oil,” said Wright, a former construction company executive who now heads a nonprofit that works with at-risk children. “It’s watching what’s going on in the world and how much is affected by the need for oil.”

See: http://www.telegram.com/article/20110320/NEWS/103200385/-1/news07


Wright needs to heat his home in Freeport, as well as his office in a barn — all told, about 7,000 square feet.

The oil company wanted $10,000 up front to heat his house this winter under a pre-paid contract, he said. Instead, he expects to buy 8 or 9 tons of pellets, which have been selling at $210 a ton as of late.

Must be tough having all that money/energy to burn. He was heating his barn too? Sounds to me like the first step the man needed to take was to re-think his life style. As in, it's time to downsize and conserve...

E. Swanson

Hi Eric,

Well, as I understand it, Mr. Wright heats his office which is located in what I presume is a converted barn; nonetheless, 7,000 sq. feet, combined, seems a tad over the top. Of course, for some, a 2,500 sq. ft. home just doesn't cut it, e.g., one of the McCain kids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCain_Foods) recently built a new home down the street from us which I believe is heated by FOUR five-ton heat pumps !


The article doesn't say how many people are in the office. It does say he heads a non-profit... so there could be quite a number.

It's certainly possible, Tony.

There's a reference to this non-profit organization at: http://www.pressherald.com/news/youths-mindset-shifts-after-volunteering... and at: http://www.timesrecord.com/articles/2009/09/18/news/doc4ab3b3044d4412259... and http://www.pressherald.com/archive/students-work-hard-to-make-a-differen....

It sounds like they provide a valuable service to their community.


Yeah, that was nice to read. Thanks, Paul. It feels good to see my people doing positive things, and as much as I find imbalances around our 'structures' of wealth, I've met too many really good people 'up there'.. and also others 'down over there..'

As I heard in a sermon yesterday on Money, 'People can feel bad about it if they don't have enough money, they can feel bad if they have too much, they can feel bad about it if they're right in the middle.' In any case, nothing is solved by beating them up over it.

tony - Had to bite my tongue for a while. I always find it interesting when folks make negative comments on gross generalizations with out knowing all the facts. I have friends in Montana who live in a house that's around 4,500 sq ft. You can imagine their heating bills up there. Some might say they're a tad too much also. OTOH they're raising 11 kids they adopted from 3rd world countries and the wife runs a nonprofit daycare out of the house during the day.

But we shoudn't let facts get in the way of being judgemental.

The only thing we know with any certainty is that the combined square footage of this home and exterior office is 7,000 sq. ft. The office space could be 200 sq. ft. or it could be 2,000 and, likewise, the couple may be childless or they could be foster parents to a dozen or more kids. I don't know and, quite honestly, I don't care.

So that I don't offend anyone's sensibilities, let me simply say that 7,000 sq. feet is a lot of space to heat and that eight to nine tons of wood pellets is a lot of fuel.


Paul - That was my point. 7,000 sq ft doesn't seem llke a very large area at all. At least not compared to the 140,000 sq ft in my offices. OTOH it's huge compared to my stepson's 700 sq ft apartment.

Hi Rock,

It would have been better had I said something along the lines of "7,000 sq. feet, on the surface, seems a tad over the top". In any event, your point is well taken.

I try not to be judgemental, but when I walk the dogs past the 10,000 sq. ft. monstrosity at the end of our street complete with a three story interior water fall and his and her Hummers parked out front, I'm not thinking happy thoughts.


H - I understand. I'm often conflicted over this issue. Don't like to see inefficient/wasteful uses of energy. OTOH being a TBC (Texan By Choice as opposed to native born) I'm also stuck with the attitude "Ain't nobody's business" how big someone's house is or what kind of car they drive. We tend to be big on folks making personal choices without being subject to criticism. OTOH make a bad decision and we're not very sympathetic either. Cost too much to fill the Hummer up or AC the McMansion? Too damn bad: you made you choice so shut up already. LOL.

There are likely many people whose lives might be considered "valuable service to their community" but who consume large quantities of energy in so doing. Those of us in the developed countries have been able to live the way we do because fossil fuels (particularly oil) were relatively cheap compared with our income levels. I don't think it's being judgmental to suggest that this is all going to change as Peak Oil results in the disappearance of cheap oil to fuel those old gas guzzler ways.

One of the first steps to adapt to the new reality are conservation measures, such as increasing insulation in buildings. That might mean adding insulation to Mr. Wright's house and barn along with his change in fuel source or it might mean moving into a smaller, better insulated structure. Ultimately, if the cost becomes too great or he can no longer depend on enough income to meet his expenses, he isn't going to be able to continue, is he? There are reports of hundreds of teaching positions being cut in public schools and colleges and also programs to support the poor. Are these not also worthy of support and who decides which programs have the highest priority? Aren't we seeing exactly that playing out as the new Tea Party Republicans slash and burn various government programs? One man's excessive government spending is another man's job...

E. Swanson

Hi Eric,

If the estimated eight to nine tons of pellets per year more or less holds true and provided my calculations are correct, that's about 50 kWh(e) per m2 of space heating demand. Given the local climate and I'm guessing the amount of glass in this home (see: http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110314/BUSINESS/303150010/Hea...), that's probably not all that unreasonable on a per sq. ft. basis.

Although I try to tread lightly on this earth and to always give back more than I take, the reality is that my ecological foot print is many times larger than need be; on that basis I'm hardly in any position to point fingers. I'd like to give Mr. Wright the benefit of the doubt on this one.


To what extent is this sort of thing scalable, even within the region, and to what extent is it a one-off "how-interesting but so what" that can't be replicated enough to make a difference other than for the first few individuals who take it up?

Nova Scotia Power's 60 MW biomass boiler will reportedly consume 500,000 metric tonnes of dry wood per annum. Using this as a guide and assuming Maine's forests could sustain an equivalent size harvest for the production of wood pellets, this would potentially displace some 63.3 million gallons of fuel oil demand per year, at 80% AFUE. The average home in Maine consumes roughly 900 gallons of fuel oil per annum, so this would be the equivalent of taking over 70,000 homes off oil.


To what extent is this sort of thing scalable, even within the region

You only need to look across the pond, to Sweden for your answer...

In 2008 around 120,000 households had pellet boilers. Another 20,000 had pellet stoves. In addition, around 4,000 medium sized boilers were in operation in Sweden.

Large scale consumption of pellets takes place in large district heating plants and CHP plants. These plants have gradually reduced their consumption of fossil fuels during the 1970-90'es due to energy taxes on fossil fuels. Many district heating plants switched from combustion of oil to coal, and after the introduction of the CO2 emission tax in 1991, they are now switching from coal to biofuels, such as pellets.

From the same site, Sweden produce 1.4 millions tons of pellets in 2008, and imported another 400,000 for a total of 1.8m tons used.

They don't address this, but I would also expect that LOTS more local jobs have been created by growing wood and making pellets than by using imported heating oil.

So this is absolutely a scalable solution, and, using them to replace heating oil has to be one of the lowest hanging oil replacement fruit there is. Given that Canada and the US, exported 1.6 million tons of pellets to Europe last year, supply of pellets for domestic usage is clearly not a limitation!

A local "forestier" looking after the government owned forests in our area uses a wood pellet stove for heating his home. The problem is that the pellets are imported from Germany, even though we're surrounded by millions of acres of forest in this part of France. At a guess I'd say this is only possible due to cheap oil. Not only transporting the heavy bulky pellets over long distances, but also the drying and pelleting of the wood seems like an energy intensive process.

The pellet stoves themselves are technologically more complex than ordinary wood stoves and therefore expensive and prone to malfunction. Looks like just another BAU by other means money making scheme which will fail along with the wider economy.

A new private nursing home was built a few miles away which is heated by a biomass boiler. The idea was to use waste wood chips and sawdust from local saw-milling operations. The problem being the local sawmills are going out of business due to the failing economy. Presumably the nursing home is going to have to import biomass into the area thus increasing the FF component of its overall energy use.

Burgundy, that sounds like a business opportunity for a local pellet operation if ever there was one! For the nursing home, even if they import pellets, they will be using less fossil energy than otherwise (unless their alternative was to use nuclear/hydro electricity for heating)

Making pellets is not as energy intensive as you might think, depending on your feedstock. If it is already sawdust, then all you need to do is run it through a pellet mill.

if you look at the website for this Swedish pellet mill maker (http://www.pelletspress.se/infoblad_pp450twin_eng.pdf), their 1 ton/hr unit uses two 37kW motors. Assuming the motors are at 90% load, you have 67kW, or 241 MJ of electrical energy per hour. if we assume that was coming from a wood power station at 30% efficiency, then you need 803MJ/hr of fuel to run this process.
Pellets have an energy value of about 19-20Mj/kg, depending on the wood type. One ton of pellets has 19GJ, and we have used 803MJ to run the pellet mill, for 4.2% of the output energy, or an EROEI of 23.7 - pretty good!.

Of course, this has assumed you already have sawdust, if you have chips, and need to hammermill them to dust, then you use almost the same energy again. To make the chips in the first place, uses about 1/5 the energy ( a 67kW chipper will easily chip over 5 tons per hour). As for the drying, yes you want to avoid using energy directly for that - find a waste heat source, and/or let the chips air dry.

The real benefit of wood pellets, as opposed to firewood, is that you have a standardised product that is easy to store and handle in bulk - augers, front end loaders, pnuematic/vacuum systems etc. So it's benefits are greatest for commercial/industrial applications, where it is easier to handle than coal (and cleaner burning), and cheaper than oil or electricity, and usually comparable to natural gas, if it is available.

For domestic heating, pellet stoves are indeed more complicated, and I really compare them to a furnace than a fireplace. However, they are an option for people who don;t want to or can't handle/store wood, they can also run themselves when you are not there. Also, clean burning is assured with pellets, so they are allowed in cities that do not allow wood burning.

Overall, I would say the energy intensity is greater than firewood, but using firewood large scale is impractical/too labour intensive.

It is, of course, dependent on the availability of wood - if you have an excess of it (as we do here in western Canada) then it is a great option. If you don't and have to import them, then they may indeed not be better than other fuel options.

One interesting development for pellets is using the torrefaction process, which heats the feedstock to about 250C, which not only dries it, but alters the chemical structure. Loses about 10% of the energy of the feedstock, but the resulting product is more energy dense (21-22MJ/kg - coal is 22-26MJ/kg), and equally importantly, is completely water and mould/termite resistant. It can thus be stored outside and for years, and is suitable for drop-in combustion in coal fired plants (something ordinary pellets are not) - making it a very versatile fuel. All the major pellet producers are looking at this, and I expect within five years they will all be doing it, as opens up the large market of coal burning plants to them, instead of just specialised pellet plants.

Good description here;


Thanks, I'll look into it a bit more when I have time. I've got to go and do some ploughing. I cut firewood for myself and sell some so I'm interested in the use of wood for heating, etc.

You are most welcome. I cut my own firewood and am a big proponent of the sensible use of wood for heating and small-medium scale power. I think it is the best biofuel option for farmers to grow on "marginal" land, though it will actually produce returns in excess of most normal crops on normal land.
Where I live ridiculous amounts of it wash up on the beaches - but everyone knows not to burn that, as the salt will corrode your fireplace. Again, a business opportunity for a suitably designed powerplant there.

With the wood pellets, you can also get small mills, from 5kW/100kg/hr suitable for farm/small business use. most of the ones available here come from (groan) China, but you have several good units made in Europe, including those swedish ones and this one, from Czech Repulblic, which is set up for automatic, 24/7 operation and up to 150kg/hr (3.6 tons/day!)- would be ideal for a small pellet business - maybe you could supply that nursing home yourself!


Pellet making is one of the few energy areas where the operation is almost as efficient at small scale as large, and unlike other farming operations, you can do it at whatever time of year you want!

The Arab League isn't happy:

1536: The Arab League's secretary general, Amr Moussa, has announced an emergency meeting of the grouping, saying that the current situation isn't what Arabs had envisaged. "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians," he said.


They helped authorize the genie to come out of its bottle, and now they realize that the Genie has a mind and agenda of its own!

You know, the Arab League could have come in to Libya and taken whatever action it saw fit...they have bought plenty of fancy military hardware over the years...Egypt could have been a prime contributor...the action would have provided a great distraction from their own situation.

Right, it's a bit late now!

I just hope it doesn't take away the legitimacy of the superseding government in the eyes of the Libyan people.

This really is bizarre...

The Arab league sits by and does nothing as the problem unfolds.
Finally, they agree to have someone else do something (i.e. the coalition no fly zone), knowing that the first step will be to take out air defences.
Now they complain that it is not being done the way they wanted...

They had their chance to impose a no fly zone themselves and passed. If you ask someone else to put out a fire for you, you don't get to complain about the size of their hoses, or where they point them...

The Arab league is a joke, and I think this conflict, and all the others simmering in Arab countries, will show them up as being largely impotent.

This would seem to be the bed we've made, no?

No doubt, the Arab League 'could' take some initiative, but I wonder what past events by US and Nato and UN coalition forces have left them concerned with, when they contemplate such motivated behavior.

I can't point to particular exchanges at the moment, unless the Iraq/Afghan adventures have some particular poignancy in this dance, but it seems likely that the last quarter to half century has created an unsurprising dynamic that leads to this current balance..

Actually quite human. OMG OMG we gotta do something! But, then when they kick the can down the road, and surprise, surprise someone actually does something. The fact that it is in fact ugly (as all war actions are), is shocking. So they can try to score points by complaining about it.

There is one plausible explanation here. It was possible, and indeed seemed likely, that China and/or Russia would veto any UN resolution for a no fly zone. Makes me wonder of the Arab League thought they could win some brownie points with the West (and the Libyan rebels) by supporting this, while expecting that it would not get passed, so they could say that at least they tried something.

Still, that's one hell of a bluff to play, if that was what they were thinking.

I'll bet that no matter what happens in Yemen, bahrain or any other Arab country, we won't see the Arab League calling for another no fly zone, now they know not only that it can happen, but how seriously they go about it.

I get the impression that most Arab countries would dearly love to see someone whack Gadhafi, and if it was a Western country that did it, that would be just wonderful from their perspective. They would express regrets and continue on as usual.

The Chinese and Russians also do not seem like they would shed a lot of tears if someone else (not them) blew him to bits.

I think he is an embarrassment to all of them.

The Russian and Chinese arms salesmen are probably packing their bags ready for the post Gadaffy rebuilding.


After the avalanche has begun, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.

.....but they gave it a nice name: "Operation Odyssey Dawn"...

...jeez, sounds like they're marketing a pleasure cruise. Why can't they just call it 'Operation Kill Gadhafi'?

Haha, I've often wondered how they come up with these names. Who's the person that has the final say in it?

Here's a history of it:

In general the US tends to like two word codenames, with the first being an object and the second being an action, that's what their psychologists have told them sounds good. However they will bend that to fit in with the marketeers.

In the UK they go for one word codenames, taken from a predefined list. Although the rumour for Operation Granby (first Gulf War), was that the team tasked with organising it after Kuwait was invaded were pulled out the "Marquis of Granby" pub, round the corner from the MoD. This is denied... ;-)

Haha, great rumour! Cheers for the link.

Lets see: "Operation Odyssey Dawn" might be abbreviated as "Operation OD", as in the oil addicts going in to grab the oil required to continue our economic and cultural addiction. Surely you know that "The American Way of Life is Not Negotiable" means "the addicts must have their "fix" (or else)". Besides, why kill Gadhafi, when he could perform the same function as Saddam did while we supported him?

E. Swanson

From AJE:

Among the headlines, you may think '"Odyssey Dawn" is the only military operation in action - but we understand each of the contributing nations has their own codename for enforcing UN Security Council resolution 1973:

Operation Odyssey Dawn - The US military operation.
Operation Ellamy - The UK military effort
Operation Mobile - The Canadian component.
Operation Harmattan- The French military operation.

If we find out why they're named those names, we'll let you know...

Harmattan, is a desert sandstorm/wind IIRC? If thats true, the French have choosen a good code name. Everyone else, well frankly they suck on steroids!

So, my thoughts here are what will those countries that abstained (China, Russia, Brazil, Germany, India) from UN Resolution 1973 do in the near future. What was promised to these countries to keep them from outright vetoing? If this action draws out for months, how patient will they remain? Even if the action is successful in isolating Gaddafi, how has it worked to solidify the BRIC bloc of countries against US/Western Europe?

I'm not sure. But I think it could be that although they've abstained, secretly they maybe agree with the mandate but can't publicly show this.

And Germany, for one, has stated:

Mrs. Merkel said in a briefing on Libya.

"We fully endorse the aims of the resolution. Our attitude can't be mixed up with neutrality,"


So not always as clear-cut as it might seem...


[10:45 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:45 p.m. Sunday Libya] Russia urged coalition nations to stop the use of force against Libya, challenging the use of the U.N. no-fly zone resolution as a " controversial step." In a statement published on its website, Russia's Foreign Ministry said air strikes carried out by coalition forces killed 48 civilians and injured 150.

I predict a similar statement by China in the next day or so.

Watching what the BRIC does at this time is key to the "larger" picture of events in ME and North Africa.

...air strikes carried out by coalition forces killed 48 civilians and injured 150.

Ya gotta break some eggs to make a Moamlette, it seems.

I'm not even sure they did break any. At least, perhaps not the number quoted by the Russians which happens to be the same as the one quoted by Libyan State TV.

According to AJE reporters weren't allowed near the aftermath of the airstrikes:

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Tripoli, says she is unable to confirm claims of the Gaddafi regime that last night's bombardment deliberately targeted civilians. She told us:

International press, despite repeated requests, have not been allowed to go to the sites of the airstrikes and can't corroborate in any way what happened last night.

And Reuters reports that no civilian casualties have been officially recorded by the coalition forces thus far:


The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said the no-fly zone was effectively in place. But he told CBS the endgame of military action was "very uncertain" and acknowledged it could end in a stalemate with Gaddafi.

Mullen said he had seen no reports of civilian casualties from the Western strikes.

Wait to see how things develop I guess.

How many reports of dead people can Q make up?

He could kill a few hundred himself and blame the Americans.

War is full of propaganda, lies and such.

"The first casualty of war is the truth"

Attributed to California Senator Hiram Johnson, in 1918

Sadly I was thinking the same thing..

I'm not even sure they did break any.

The only victims shown on the tele (by Q) were all in Libyan military garb. Still I doubt you can target that many targets and not break a few eggs? Supposedly the attack on Benghazi which precipitaed the opening French air to ground attack killed 94 in Benghazi. This looks like a case where delay would have led to many more civilian casualties, then acting in haste would.

Exactly. You can always come down on either side in this kind of situation - what's that phrase? "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Something like that?

So when are the allies going to start bombing the tyrants in Yemen, S. Arabia, Bahrain, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea?
The whole world can see the hypocrisy behind attacking some tyrants while coddling others. Sometimes a tyrant is coddled (Saddam in the seventies and eighties) for a while and then demonized and attacked later.

Well true, and there are a lot more places than just those few that could probably do with a helping hand - but can it be possible to tackle them all? You've got to start somewhere!

The difference with Libya is that the people of the country themselves are calling for their tyrant to go and he's responded by massacring them in plain view of the world's media. It's also on the doorstep of the EU plus the Libyans asked for intervention as did The Arab League.

I think you are extremely naive. The US doesn't start wars to promote freedom and democracy. It starts wars to install and protect pro American regimes. There is a long list of democracies sabotaged by the US (Iran in 1953, Chile in 1973, etc)and a much longer list of dictators, tyrants, thugs and terrorists coddled and supported as long as they tow the line.
I thought Al Qaeda was dead after the peaceful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Now once again the western countries are seen attacking an Arab and muslim country. This will give AQ a new lease of life. Last time we had an idiot for a President; this time we have a President who is a phony and a sell out whose economic team consists of ex Goldman Sachs cronies and the very same people who created the financial crisis.

Possibly, it wouldn't be the first time I've been called naive.

But hang on just one minute, the US didn't start this - it was requested by The Arab League and went via the UN to form an international coalition. The French were the first to airstrike and the British have apparently had special forces on the ground for weeks.

AQ has nothing to do with this revolution - it's a populous movement, the same as in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, etc. etc. etc.

It was Gadaffi that started sowing the propaganda about AQ!

And seeing as Libya wasn't a democracy in the first place it seems pretty hard for the US to screw that bit up!

I agree that the US did not start this. I think the right thing to do in this case is to let the Arab League take action if that is what they desire and limit the US response to freezing Gaddafi's assets and imposing an embargo on his oil (which is not being exported at this time anyway). Looks like the Arab league is already having remorse: http://www.canada.com/news/Arab+League+criticizes+Western+strikes+Libya/....

I didn't say that AQ started this revolution. What I meant was that by attacking Libya, the US and western countries have given ammunition to AQ. AQ will now say "Look. Once again the infidels are attacking a Muslim country and killing Muslim people. This is a crusade". To an average Muslim guy on the street, AQ's argument will look more and more credible the longer this drags on and the inevitable civilian casualties mount. At any rate we can't afford any of this with a $1.5 trillion budget deficit and $14 trillion debt and over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

And seeing as Libya wasn't a democracy in the first place it seems pretty hard for the US to screw that bit up!

Remember Iraq? There was no AQ in Iraq when Saddam ruled it. Now the country has been handed over to Shiite (southern Iraq) and Sunni (Anbar province) religious fanatics and women and religious minorities have lost most of their rights. Christians are fleeing the country, the infrastructure is in shambles and it is completely unstable.

Well let's just hope that opinions like this are more prevalent than the ones against:

0954: Mansaf, from Jordan, says:"This is the kind of action that the whole Arab world will look at favourably. By helping the people of Libya fight for their freedom and independence, the West are showing that they are in full support of the public demands of the Arab street. Such actions will eventually change Arab opinion of the West for the better, and will make it much more difficult for terrorist organisations to attract the under-educated masses."


That sums it up I am afraid

I think you are extremely naive. The US doesn't start wars to promote freedom and democracy. It starts wars to install and protect pro American regimes.

I think thats usually the case. But, in this case I suspect we were almost dragged into this by the Europeans. And any rational calculus shows that the risk of letting this thing run its natural course would seriously endanger the economy -especially of Europe, with its fragile banking system etc. Not to mention that because of modern communications, the populations these politicians must cater to, are seeing the human face of the Libyan people. So there are plenty of non-colonial reasons for doing this.

Exactly correct. 46 dead in Yemen the other day - protesters - shot by govt snipers on rooftops. Oops, I forgot, too close to the SA oilfields - gotta molly coddle the Saudi King.

This whole things stinks.

If anyone in the countries listed above is reading this, this American for one apologizes to you. I'm so sorry we are not there helping you also.

I expected so much more from this president. How silly of me to think anything would change.

The problem is that Yemen is such a difficult place. Likely to rip apart into a north south civil war. Wasn't that where Bin Laden came from. And so far the scale of the slaughter isn't in the same ballpark. The Benghazi rebels claim 8000 martyers already! The Yemen, and Bharaini responses are at least measured responses. Q's seems to be, city X rebelled, shell the city into total ruin. Of course these other places might very well escalate, then hard choices will need to be made. Mostly along the lines of "choose your battles carefully".

I agree with this - Libya has gone far beyond the other states so far. Gadaffi is out of control and beyond reasoning.

"The Arab League isn't happy..."
-- iagreewithnick

I disagree. The Arab League has 22 member states. Only Syria and Algeria opposed imposition of the no-fly zone. Only Amr Moussa expressed unhappiness, after the fact.

So it's unfair to say that the Arab League is unhappy. I don't think Amr Moussa is unhappy either, judging by his latest comments:

...we asked the United Nations to implement a no-fly zone and we respect the U.N. resolution and there is no conflict with it," [Moussa] said.

"It is for protecting civilians and that is what we care about," he told a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Cairo.

Nice quoting - makes me look like a poet!

Well that's good to hear - I thought it sounded a bit too much like they wanted to have their cake and eat it too.


BREAKING NEWS: Loud blasts have been heard in Tripoli, witnesses say, and a plume of smoke was seen rising from the area near the compound of Col Gaddafi.

Tripoli blast as coalition action goes on

Loud blasts have been heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli, witnesses say, as allied forces resume operations to enforce a no-fly zone.

A plume of smoke was seen rising from the area near the compound of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Thought you might like a link.

Ron P.

Ah yes, many thanks :-)

Let's hope MG was inspecting the place.

(Reuters) - The United States does not have Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on its 'target list' as Western nations intensify their military action on Libya, a top U.S. military official said on Sunday.

As smoke was seen rising above Tripoli from the direction of Libya's presidential palace, Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that Gaddafi not being targeted by coalition air strikes


US officials have said Col Gaddafi himself is not a target of the air strikes, which they say are aimed at his armed forces and air defence systems.

As I predicted before this started, they need to go for a decapitation strike to stop it falling into a stalemate. They won't say that's what they are doing, but plausible deniability suggests you'll call it a strike on the C2 structure, because what's at the top of that structure?

Now we just need to see what toys Gaddafi has to play with. My bet is useful portable AD, and anti-ship missiles.

Blame executive order 11905, which prohibits any employee of the US goverment from engaging in political assassination. (Signed by Gerald Ford in 76, extended by Reagan in 81 to include non-Americans working on behalf of the US).

Personally I would interperet the UN mandate to protect civilians to include removing the root cause of the danger.

Not withstanding the above EO's, Gadaffi's compound was bombed by the US in 1986, after the bombing of a Berlin nightclub frequented by US troops, so a precedent has been set.

That's the thing to do - target Gaddaffi, then act like it was just another missle strike intended to take out communications or weapons, but oops we just happen to off the Lockerbie hit man. Well I'll be darned.

US commander warns of Libya stalemate

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, has said the military operation in Libya called for by the UN Security Council is not aimed at regime change - adding that a "stalemate" could well exist, leaving Muammar Gaddafi in power.

Huh? What drugs is Admiral Mullen on? Wasn't it just last week that Obama was suggesting Gaddafi should go?

No French government or British government or Canadian government is employing their military for a return to the status quo. What is this nonsense? Is the Arab League going to readmit Gaddafi among its fellowship and let bygones be bygones? Hardly think so. Let's get the job done folks.

Yes the mandate is for a no-fly zone, but it also clearly states that all measures should be taken to protect civilians. That means getting rid of a thug regime.

War is hell but as Dante pointed out in the Divine Comedy, those who are wishy-washy fence-sitters are precariously close to Inferno's centre. Already this particular hell is spawning no shortage of fence sitters. The sight of blood on the floor has produced all kinds of nervous nellies prancing about like Bolshoi ballerina rejects.

It seems that since the rolling revolutions began in Tunisia in January, U.S. foreign policy statements have been ambiguous, nuanced and opaque.

At least during the neo-cons time in power, you kinda knew what they were about even if you didn't like their goals. I have no idea what the thinking is in the White House these days and what's worse, I'm not sure if they do either. Trying to nail down Obama's position on anything has been akin to nailing jello to the wall. All that leads to is a mess on the floor.

Obama has made his plan for U.S. involvement clear. The U.S. will help out initially (by shooting cruse missiles?) and then leave the task to other members of the United Nations. Presumably the U.S. Navy will return to chasing Somali pirates, and the U.S. will not be blamed if the intervention is protracted or not successful. Let taxpayers of other countries pay the bill this time. Maybe it is a bad idea for the U.S. to fight three wars and tangle with pirates simultaneously.

Obama outlines limited U.S. role in Libya intervention, Yahoo News, March 18, 2011

Obama told Congressional leaders that "he had not authorized troops on the ground or airplanes," a staffer to one of the Congress members briefed Friday said on condition of anonymity. "He stressed the U.S. is diplomatically supporting the no-fly zone, not the enforcement itself."

"He stressed the U.S. is diplomatically supporting the no-fly zone, not the enforcement itself."

That part is understood and is in fact welcomed by partners. U.S. forces are already overstretched and so policing actions, if deemed necessary, must be carried out by others.

But when Admiral Mullens, Chairman of Joint Chiefs, opines that the Gaddafi regime is not the target itself and says that the dictator may be allowed to live to fight another day, he's voicing a nightmare scenario for Sarkozy and Cameron. This is not helped by Gaddafi's rhetoric about fighting a "crusade" which has the Arab world skittish.

Libya's diplomatic dance

I sure hope that the U.S. would not be too disappointed if the franchise, Gaddafi and sons, happens to be in the way of a bomb or two.


'Oil rises more than $2 on military action against Libya'

Brent crude for May rose $2.16 to $116.09 a barrel 6:40 p.m. EDT against Friday's settlement at $113.93 a barrel. U.S. crude for April rose as much as $2.12 to $103.19 and was up $1.83 at $102.90, after settling at $101.07 a barrel.

We are going in because we can not sit by
while a freedom seeking people are destroyed
by their cruel and despotic government.

THAT'S why were going into Tibet.

Can any of you argue with such words?

THAT'S why we're going into Tibet.

Luv to, Kalimanku, but the Chinese have nukes. The Libyans do not.

They don't call it MAD for nuthin', even if it's maddening.

So in other words a country which does not have nukes and displeases the US, risks an attack? So every country in the world which has the potential to displease the US should get nuclear weapons as quickly as possible?

The whole world has seen the difference between how Iraq was treated versus how N. Korea has been treated. Saddam disarmed, got rid of his WMDs, let the weapons inspectors in and was rewarded with an invasion that resulted in loss of power and an execution.

Kim Jong Il carried out a couple of underground nuclear explosions, maintains a very powerful military, uses belligerent language, repeatedly threatens to start a nuclear war, and is left alone!

The moral of the story: disarmament leads to war.


I think we did not only just leave him alone...
I think we actually paid him off... several times

Well put suyog, I concur. Along those lines a good movie to watch is called 'The Black Robe'. Stunning visual footage of some remote area of Canadian waterways gives one the sense it really is taking place a few hundred years ago. The lessen of not disarming is a hard lessen back then too. History repeats for Iraq.

A lot of people think if you back off, then the other side will not view you as a threat, but the opposite often happens, that they view the person or country as weak, inviting attack.

We are going in because we can not sit by
while a freedom seeking people are destroyed
by their cruel and despotic government.

THAT'S why were going into Tibet.

Have to carefully choose ones battles. Should we really initiate a war against China to free Tibet? Thats what it would take.

I didn't realize that Tibet had a lot of oil!

No oil.
Poor Tibet.
Just a bunch of beauty
Open-faced happy children
Liturgical music that reaches deep...

Nothing of any cash value.



The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said a cooling system pump stopped operating at Tokai No. 2 Power Station, a nuclear power plant, in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Word is there is an uptick in the giger counters in the area next to Tokai #2 - TOD might get a separate Tokai thread along with the Total oil leak.

Where Japan gets interesting is if the Seimens PLCs in the nuke plants are packing Stuxnet code changes - the resulting political "kefuffel" would be "unpleasant" and I can't imagine hiding such if it was the case,


One of the two pumps used to cool the water of a suppression pool for the nuclear reactor at the Tokai plant stopped, but a second system is working, according to the English-language version of Kyodo News, which cited the nuclear safety section of the prefectural government.

Japan Atomic Power said the reactor core at Tokai No. 2 Power station has been cooled, “without any problem,” Kyodo News reported.

Google shows nothing in news after March 15, and the initial story was March 13. I assume it's under control and things didn't go bad there.


(supposed to show real-time radiation info - blank screen for me ATM)
(prior criticality)

it's under control and things didn't go bad there.

I 'member ppl saying the same thing last week about the 2 reactors + 1 holding tank. I'm a bit less optimistic, what with charges abound about not getting the complete story from the officials.

We'll get to see if this rabbit trail I was shown and I've pointed out here hunts.

well see if you can find more info that contradicts the March 15 report. To me, with this much attention on Japan nuke issues, if there's no news showing I suspect the old news was right, that it had cooled down. I have to think the UCS would be discussing any issues and I haven't seen anything about that from them either yet in their daily briefings march 18,19,20.

So what part of Japan is Tokai in? Is it close the the EQ zone? Kyoto I think is in the far southwest. I sure hope this is minor/false alarm.

'bout 83 miles south.

If there is something there - twitter + facebook should have locals mentioning troubles 1st.

It may be a false report - but if its not I'm interested in knowing why after a few days things went downhill. Was it always going downhill and now it can't be hid? Or something worse than officials being caught out lying.

So if Japan has pumped $20 trillion Yen of new printed cash into Japan recently, then what are the dates and dollar amounts of the other cash creations?

Has someone made a graph yet?

It seems the cash creations (frankencash monsters) are getting bigger and bigger more often.

Did the Japanese cash come from other G7 countries in part?

I have been watching Fuku explode and forgot that the printing presses were moving at breakneck speed this last week. Maybe something bad is going to happen soon. Duck and Cover.

The System is trapped in a positive feedback loop, where every disaster and crisis of any kind prompts increased fiat currency creation. The effect is to transfer the wealth from the real economy (ie. the wealth destroyed in the disaster/crisis) to the make-believe economy of the financial system. So we see the financial elite getting ever richer (as measured by fiat currency) but everyone else getting poorer as the real economy is being slowly destroyed.

As a consequence we will see exponential growth in the financial system with ever greater amounts of fiat money laying claim to ever diminishing real assets. Once the deflationary aspects of the financial crisis is overcome then hyperinflation will take hold.

The internal dynamics of the system are in control and not the people that are purported to be in control. We have a runaway system that will eventually destroy itself and all those dependant upon it.

You hit the nail on the head, Burgundy. Ever since the 08 near collapse, printing money has been the fallback position for many countries. What they are relying on is the built up over many years of public confidence in those fiat currencies that have no real backing. It's a miracle one single dollar has any perceived value anymore, but that's because most people are oblivious to QE's and all the rest of the fancy accounting that is taking place to hold on just a little bit longer.

At some point you're right, hyperinflation will take hold and paper currency will be blowing in the wind and no one will bother to grab it because it will only remind them of better days when it had some value.

When Libya blew up I sold all my mutual fund. Within 24 hours, the company calls me on my phone and asks me to come back in. LOL.

I said, "Have you noticed the world we live in. The market cannot be certain of the future. I am uncertain of most everything."

She said, "Well the fundamentals of the US economy looking stronger."

I did not even talk about oil. AND Japan did not yet blow up.

How are people still in the market after Japan? It blows my mind.

Looks like things in Yemen are moving fast. Several high level Generals have just defected - what makes it more interesting is that the top one to defect belongs to the President's own Hashid tribe.


General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar has been close to Saleh for most of the 32 years that the Yemeni president has been in power.

Al-Ahmar is a veteran of the 1994 civil war that saw Saleh's army suppress an attempt by southern Yemen to secede. He also fought in recent years against Shiite fighters in the north of the country.

Dozens of Yemeni military officers have publicly pledged their support for the protest movement demanding President Ali Abdallah Saleh's resignation, AFP reports.

One by one, officers of various ranks announced their support for the protesters at the sit-in near Sanaa University, where demonstrators calling for Saleh's fall have kept vigil since February 21 in spite of a wave of attacks.

And now:

Top Yemeni tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar calls for the departure from power of president Saleh, in a phone call with Al Jazeera.

"I announce in the name of all the members of my tribe that I am joining the revolution," Ahmar said, calling for the president "to exempt Yemen from the bloodshed and make a quiet exit."

A second Yemeni general says that he and dozens of other officers have pledged their support for the opposition seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

General Nasser Ali Shuaybi told AFP that 60 army officers from Hadramawt province, himself included, had joined the "youth revolution," and that 50 interior ministry officers had done so as well.

Could be all over for Saleh...

Could be all over for Saleh...

Mind you, everybody thought Gaddafi was toast after his officers and diplomats defected a few weeks back. Uncharted territory indeed.

A success in Yemen on the heals of Tunisia and Egypt, with a hiccup in Libya, would add momentum and hope to the rolling revolution. Next door to Saudi Arabia this will not bring comfort and joy to the princes in Riyadh.

Above ground factors are in the driver's seat for the price of oil. No comfort and joy for leadership in OEDC countries either.

True, but I don't think Saleh is quite the despot that Gadaffi is.

From some accounts the violence was caused by independent loyalists and wasn't condoned by the President. He's already said he would step down in 2013, so I think he's a more reasonable figure than Gadaffi. Although that's not saying much!

Like you say, Saudi must be watching this closely - Yemen to the south, Egypt to the west, Bahrain to the east.. Iraq to the north?