Drumbeat: March 28, 2011

Bahrain opposition says 250 detained, 44 missing

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain's leading Shi'ite opposition party said on Monday 250 people have been detained and 44 others went missing since a security crackdown crushed weeks of protests.

The figures by Wefaq, the largest Shi'ite Muslim opposition party, has more than doubled since last week, when it counted 95 people missing or arrested.

Earlier this month, Bahrain's Sunni rulers, the al-Khalifa family, imposed martial law and called in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled Gulf neighbors, including top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, to quell weeks of unrest during pro-democracy protest led by mostly Shi'ite demonstrators.

The severity of the crackdown, which banned all public gatherings and spread masked security forces across the city to man checkpoints, stunned Bahrain's majority Shi'ites and angered the region's non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran.

Pirates hijack oil tanker off Oman - EU

(Reuters) - Pirates firing rocket propelled grenades and small arms hijacked a Kuwaiti-owned oil tanker bound for Singapore from Sudan on Monday, the European Union's anti-piracy taskforce said.

T. Boone Pickens' energy plans has skeptics

NEW HAVEN -- Since the United States has no energy plan, billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens has proposed his own.

First, the U.S. should wean itself off foreign oil and switch to domestic resources, beginning with natural gas, Boone said, outlining the basics of the "Pickens Plan" at a talk at the Yale University Law School last week.

Pickens told Yale students they should do their part by making sure their next car is one that runs on domestic resources. Currently, only one such domestic car, the Honda Civic CX, runs solely on natural gas.

Total CEO: Gas Production in Yemen Almost Normal

Total continues to produce liquefied natural gas in Yemen at close to normal levels, Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said Monday.

Like a number of other countries in the region, Yemen is in political crisis with protests against the regime there.

Total's priority in the country is the safety of its workers and its installations, de Margerie told reporters, adding that it will produce there for "as long as we can."

Oil shortage fears prompt Libya petrol queues

Fears of an oil shortage in Tripoli are making people's lives a "nightmare", forcing many to spend the night in their cars at petrol stations in a bid to be first in line to fill up their tank.

"I have been waiting in vain for three days to have fuel for my car," said Fuad Arabi, a doctor who works in one of Tripoli's hospitals.

"I live far from my work and if I do not get fuel, I can't get to work."

Qatar recognises Libyan rebels after oil deal

Qatar has recognised Libya's rebel council as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people, a day after the group announced an oil contract with the Gulf state.

The move on Monday makes Qatar only the second country to formally recognise the Libyan rebel council, but has been backed by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).

Oil on fire

West Asia and North Africa produce more than a third of the world's oil, but the turmoil in the region threatens to unsettle this arrangement. As the US, France and Britain bomb Libya and oil prices touch new heights, one wonders if the world is headed towards another energy crisis.

Mexico Feb oil production edges down, exports fall

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican oil production edged down 1.1 percent from an eight-month high hit in January to reach 2.556 million barrels per day in February, state oil monopoly Pemex said on Friday.

Pemex pumped 2.584 million bpd in January of this year.

Oil exports also fell in February to 1.234 million bpd, 14.4 percent less than a month earlier, Pemex said.

Commentary: Restrictions on world oil production

Political upheaval is currently rampant across the Middle East, resulting in a major spike in world oil prices. No one knows how far the impacts will go or how long it will take to reach some kind of stability and what that stability will mean to oil production in the Middle Eastern countries that produce oil. We are thus relegated to best guesses, which span weeks, months, or years before there are clear resolutions. One pre-Middle East chaos country limited by political upheaval is Iraq, which is believed to have the oil reserves to produce at a much higher level, but Iraqi government chaos has severely limited oil production expansion. In another long-standing case, Nigeria has been plagued by internal political strife, which has negatively impacted its oil production.

Another Expert Says Haynesville Not Bigger than Shale

There's a new voice in the debate over whether North Texas' Barnett Shale has been eclipsed by the Haynesville Shale as the No. 1 natural gas field in America.

Lippman Consulting, an El Paso-based natural gas consulting firm, is taking issue with a recent U.S. Energy Information Administration website posting that said the Haynesville in northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas is the new leader in production among U.S. shales. The administration cited data from Bentek Energy, an Evergreen, Colo.-based consulting firm.

Marcellus Panel Looks for Common Ground at First Meeting

The public comments at the end of Friday's inaugural meeting of the state Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission showed part of the challenge facing that panel during the next four months.

One county commissioner stood up to laud the number of jobs that gas drilling has brought to his community. He was followed by a northeastern resident who said her property value has plummeted because of the surrounding well pads, and another woman citing concerns about water quality.

Steve LeVine: The itsy-bitsy problem that doomed BP's well

In a war zone, you have your vanguard. Then you have your tanks, your main body of troops, and your artillery. If all that fails, and you are being overrun, there is your rear guard. If they fail, and you cannot retreat, all is lost.

For the last 11 months, that has essentially been BP's explanation of what went wrong at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, where a mighty explosion killed 11 men and spilled five millions of barrels of oil into the water over a three-month period before the company managed to seal it in with concrete. But all along there has been the question -- what about that rear guard, in this case a much-trumpeted piece of technology known as the blowout preventer?

Low-level radiation found in three Southern states' air

(Reuters) - Low levels of radioactive iodine believed to be from Japan's disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected in the atmosphere in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida, officials said on Monday.

FACTBOX-Japan quake impact on auto, electronics makers

TOKYO (Reuters) - Following is a roundup of the impact of this month's devastating earthquake and tsunami on Japanese manufacturers of cars and electronics.

Plant shutdowns in Japan threaten supplies to manufacturers across the globe of items from semiconductors to car parts.

Japanese companies are not only reeling from damage to factories and suppliers in quake-hit northeastern Japan but are also suffering from fuel shortages in the northeast and power outages in the Tokyo area that are affecting production and distribution.

Chugoku Elec says may delay March 2012 reactor launch

(Reuters) - Chugoku Electric Power said it may delay the planned March 2012 start of commercial operations for its third nuclear reactor because engineers are busy dealing with a crisis at a nuclear plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power.

The problems with Smart Grids

How is it that so many intelligent, inside-the-beltway environmentalists are buying into an eco-health-safety-finance debacle with the potential to increase energy consumption, endanger the environment, harm public health, diminish privacy, make the national utility grid more insecure, cause job losses, and make energy markets more speculative?

Answer: by not doing their homework.

Stuart Staniford: US wind energy installations collapsed in 2010

I'm amazed I hadn't heard about this already - there is obviously some important gap in my set of blog/news subscriptions. I just decided I wanted to know whether the growth in US wind installations had continued in 2010, so I went to the American Wind Energy Association website, and ended up at their Q4 2010 market report. I was horrified to see the graph above, showing that new installations collapsed in 2010 (though with some recovery in Q4).

An interview with Naomi Klein, Part Two. “we must address inequality if we’re going to deal with climate change”.

So obviously the task is one of integration and to show how climate is connected to health, it’s to show how a more resilient future needs an education system and to me it needs a powerful public education system. I think that there is something to learn from the coalitions that emerged around the so called anti-globalisation movement and the commonalities that emerged. I don’t think any of this is a new idea, but I do think there needs to be a really clear vision for what’s going to happen to people who lose their jobs and livelihoods, and this is something I don’t think the environmental movement has ever done that well.

Stuart Staniford: Attributing the food price spike

Climate blogger Tamino, who is generally a smart guy, has a post I disagree with arguing that the most recent food price spike should be attributed mainly to the failure of the Russian wheat harvest in 2010, rather than to biofuel production.

Author Michael Pollan Tells Marin Residents to Rethink Food

The audience at Marin Civic Center perked up when writer Michael Pollan explained that a double bacon cheeseburger from McDonald's actually has its origins in the oil fields of the Middle East.

"I'm going to take you on a journey into the food system past, present and future," he said.

A story of choosing to live simply and grow one's own food in rural Japan

As serendipity would have it, I just finished reading "A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance" (2010) by Andy Couturier. Andy lived in Japan for four years, chronicling eleven remarkable individuals who opted out of the rat race to live low cost but culturally rich lives in rural Japan. They chose time over money as a lifestyle which led them to grow their own food, giving them the luxury of contemplating life's greater questions. It is a richly beautiful book that would appeal to anyone who might want to slow down, have time to know who they are and why they are here, work with their hands, grow their own food, and live simply.

How to ruin a perfectly good argument about peak oil, climate change, or economic troubles

Anyone can simply act badly, by pouting, sulking, or stomping out of the room when they begin to lose an argument, but here are some additional ideas to vary the strategy:

Battling the Mideast's 'curse of oil'

Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates face a surging domestic demand for energy that could overwhelm exports. The government estimates electricity demand alone will triple by 2020.

Other oil producers in the region face a similar dilemma. In nearby Saudi Arabia, domestic oil use is expected to more than double by 2028, to 8.3 million barrels a day from 3.4 million in 2009, according to the kingdom's state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco. The kingdom produced about 9.8 million barrels a day last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Saudi Arabia treads cautiously in a time of upheaval

Several smaller protests have been held over the last couple of weeks in Saudi's Eastern Province, where most of Saudi Arabia's Shiites live.

No slogans against King Abdullah were heard at these demonstrations, as the king, in contrast to some other members of the ruling family, is relatively popular. Yet still, some demonstrators express sympathies for their coreligionists in Bahrain. And this has set alarm bells ringing.

Most of the monarchs in the Gulf are afraid that Iran may extend its reach in the region by supporting Shiites in the Arabian peninsula, having already gained influence from the overthrow of the late dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the election there of a Shiite-dominated government.

Confident outlook for Saudi Arabia oil

Like the heart of a conditioned athlete, the Saudi Arabian oil machine will go on pumping amid regional strife, one of the biggest US financial groups predicts.

The potential for supply disruptions in the biggest Arab oil state was "the million-dollar question" hanging over international markets, Farouk Soussa, the Middle East chief economist at Citigroup, told a Platts oil forum in Abu Dhabi.

But fears of dwindling Saudi Arabian output were overblown, Mr Soussa said.

Saudi- Oil Scene: 'Look East' policy bears fruit

(MENAFN - Arab News) Global 'oil politik' is beginning to influence the direction of Saudi crude flow.

The 'look East' policy of Riyadh - born out of necessity - is beginning to take a concrete and formidable shape.

And the manifestations of this policy are now in open.

Libyan Rebel Gains Could Be Fleeting, U.S. Military Says

TRIPOLI, Libya — As rebel forces backed by allied warplanes pushed toward one of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s most crucial bastions of support, the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support.

Indonesia's Energy Condition Feared To Be More Critical

JAKARTA (Bernama) -- Political turmoil in oil producing countries has a potential to make energy condition in Indonesia getting more critical, Antara news agency reported quoting a prominent Indonesian businessman as saying.

Japan copes with 21st-century dark age

TOKYO — The first pitch of Japan's baseball season has been pushed back so people don't waste gasoline driving to games. When the season does start, most night games will be switched to daytime so as not to squander electricity. There will be no extra innings.

Tokyo's iconic electronic billboards have been switched off. Trash is piling up in many northern cities because garbage trucks don't have gasoline. Public buildings go unheated. Factories are closed, in large part because of rolling blackouts and because employees can't drive to work with empty tanks.

Doubt over $32 bln Chevron, Rosneft plan - sources

(Reuters) - U.S. oil company Chevron and Rosneft, Russia's top oil producer, are looking at whether to go ahead with a $32 billion Black Sea oil exploration project, sources at the companies said on Monday.

There have been reports Chevron may quit the venture with Rosneft to develop the Val Shatskogo deposit, after a major Arctic offshore pact between Rosneft and British group BP was blocked by an arbitration court last week.

While Slowing BP Oil Spill, Administration Slowed Flow Of Information Too, Claims Coast Guard Report

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration failed to set up an "effective" communications system during last year's BP oil spill and threatened its own credibility by "severely restricting" the release of "timely, accurate information," according to a newly released report commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Quietly posted on the Coast Guard's website two weeks ago, the report offers the first major assessment of the federal government's communications efforts during the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Gas hikes: U.S. will survive if it invests in alternatives

Although some individuals predicted dire consequences if the oil price increased to this new higher level, the reality is that the sky will not fall, the economy will not collapse and families will not declare bankruptcy — at least not in the near term.

Instead, consumers and businesses will and are rapidly adapting. Cars and trucks are driving fewer miles; businesses are finding ways to increase energy efficiency and the demand for hybrid cars has nearly doubled since November.

Resilience vs Sustainability - "There are no Solutions, Only Responses" (Video)

The concept of resilience keeps cropping up these says. From Rob Hopkins' take on why resilience beats sustainability every time, and the need to design for withstanding shock, to Thomas Homer-Dixon's insistence that efficiency has made our society brittle and vulnerable, there are plenty of people out there who would argue - as Daniel Lerch does in the video below - that sustainability has been asking the wrong questions all along.

Hazardous Radiation Detected Outside Damaged Japanese Reactor

Radiation levels that can prove fatal were detected outside reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant for the first time, complicating efforts to contain the worst disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Water in an underground trench outside the No. 2 reactor had levels exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told reporters in the capital today. Thirty minutes of exposure to that dose would trigger nausea and four hours might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Radiation spreading to seawater, soil in Japan

TOKYO — Workers at Japan's damaged nuclear plant raced to pump out contaminated water suspected of sending radioactivity levels soaring as officials warned Monday that radiation seeping from the complex was spreading to seawater and soil.

Mounting problems, including badly miscalculated radiation figures and no place to store dangerously contaminated water, have stymied emergency workers struggling to cool down the overheating Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and avert a disaster with global implications

Japanese Rules for Nuclear Plants Relied on Old Science

TOKYO — In the country that gave the world the word tsunami, the Japanese nuclear establishment largely disregarded the potentially destructive force of the walls of water. The word did not even appear in government guidelines until 2006, decades after plants — including the Fukushima Daiichi facility that firefighters are still struggling to get under control — began dotting the Japanese coastline.

Areva: Tepco Asked EDF, Areva, French Nuclear Agency For Support

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- French state-owned nuclear giant Areva SA Monday said it has received a request for support from Japanese operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. which has been battling to avoid radiation leaks at its earthquake- and tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi plant for over two weeks.

Japan Plans to Spend 1 Trillion Yen on Energy Efficiency, Nikkei Reports

Japan plans to secure about 1 trillion yen ($12.3 billion) in the April supplementary budget to implement measures to bolster energy efficiency to ease post- quake power shortages, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

Germany’s greens romp to historic victory

Germany’s Green Party are celebrating after ousting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in their heartland of Baden-Wuettemberg.

The stunning election victory in the key state, which the conservative CDU has controlled for nearly 60 years, saw the Greens double their vote.

Nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima incident in Japan was a major factor for the win.

Merkel Party Hints at German Nuclear-Policy Shift After State Vote Defeat

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said that most of Germany’s oldest atomic reactors will probably close following safety checks, signaling a shift in energy policy after the anti-nuclear Greens surged in state elections.

Learsy: Nuclear Nay-Sayers and the National Interest

The events in Japan as they relate to issues of nuclear energy have been an urgent and important clarion call to all regarding the safety of our nuclear facilities and the role nuclear energy will play in our energy future. It is an issue of vital importance to the nation given its impact on global warming, national security and the economy. It is an issue that needs be examined openly and not simply left to those who are pre-programmed to present us with the familiar saws railing against nuclear energy with the tailwind of current events at their back.

Oil Drops for a Third Day in New York Following Victories By Libyan Rebels

Oil fell for a third day in New York on speculation that territorial gains by Libyan rebels may quicken a resolution to the country’s civil war.

Futures declined as much as 0.9 percent after insurgents recaptured the Libyan oil port of Ras Lanuf yesterday while allied warplanes began airstrikes on the capital, Tripoli. In Japan, radiation hampered efforts to cool stricken reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant while damage from the March 11 earthquake slowed the supply of materials to manufacturers. Prices have gained 14 percent this quarter, the most since the three months ended June 2009.

Gas prices push consumer spending up in February

WASHINGTON — Consumer spending rose in February at the fastest pace in four months, but a big part of the increase went to higher gasoline prices.

China's Energy Consumption May Rise 6% This Year, Economic Daily Reports

China energy consumption may rise 6 percent to 3.45 billion tons of coal equivalent this year.

Oil, Gas Are Investment Opportunities: Jim Rogers

Investment opportunities may open up in the oil and natural gas industries as doubts grow over the safety of nuclear power in Japan, investor Jim Rogers, well known for his bullish stance on commodities, told a newspaper Monday.

Japan will need large quantities of copper, steel and cement during its reconstruction so these commodities will also be attractive, he added.

Thailand May Increase the Price of Diesel as Oil Fund Shrinks, Korn Says

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said the nation may need to curb diesel subsidies as funding runs out, a challenge to the government’s efforts to quell inflation and build support ahead of elections this year.

“We can continue as long as there is money in the oil fund, and that would last in cash terms until around July,” Korn said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Bangkok today. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said today his policy priority is to help people cope with rising prices.

BACKGROUND: The fight for Libya's oil

Berlin - The ongoing battle between Libyan rebels and forces loyal to leader Moamer Gaddafi is also a fight about the country's oil. Currently, rebels control most of the country's oil terminals.

Yemen’s Saleh Describes Nation as ‘Time Bomb’ Nearing Civil War

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would offer no more concessions to his opponents and warned that his nation faces chaos, as a senior military official and former ally of the embattled leader called for him to step down.

“Yemen is a time bomb,” Saleh said in an interview with Al Arabiya television, according to a transcript published yesterday by the state-run Saba news agency. “Everyone will side with his tribe, and we will then end up with a destructive civil war.”

Lieberman: Syria could be next target

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) raised the possibility Sunday of U.S. military involvement in Syria if President Bashar Al-Assad massacres his people.

“If Assad does what Qadhafi was doing, which is to threaten to go house to house and kill anybody who’s not on his side, there’s a precedent now that the world community has set in Libya, and it’s the right one,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re not going to stand by and allow this Assad to slaughter his people like his father did years ago.”

Russia Tatneft in $100 mln Libya capex loss-source

(Reuters) - Russia's six-biggest crude producer, Tatneft is expected to book a $100 million losses from capital expenditures in war-ragged Libya, a source in the company told Reuters on Monday.

Oil, electricity investment talks bring Turkish prime minister to Iraq as violence kills 8

BAGHDAD — Joined by dozens of businessmen, Turkey’s prime minister led trade talks Monday with Iraqi leaders that he said would be a step toward greater stability across the Middle East.

The Kill Team

How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon.

India Gets 74 Exploration Bids, But Global Oil Majors Stay Away

NEW DELHI -(Dow Jones)- India received 74 bids for 33 oil and gas exploration blocks in the latest round of auctions Monday, but most global majors continued to shun the country's energy sector as an investment destination.

Reliance Industries may not hit gas output target: Regulator

NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries may not touch peak output of 80 million standard cubic metre a day (mmscmd) of gas from its east coast deep water block by April 2012, from about 53 mmscmd now, the country's upstream regulator said on Monday.

SK Srivastava had asked Reliance, India's top-listed firm and owner of the world's biggest refining complex, to drill more wells to raise gas output to 61.88 mmscmd by April 1, and to 80 mmscmd by April 1, 2012.

TNK-BP shareholders looking for solution

It seems clear that TNK-BP, a throwback to the primitive capital accumulation of the 1990s, no longer fits into a Russian strategy that requires action now to stop a ‘peak oil’ scenario from materialising in this decade.

A government oil strategy paper warned last year that, even if oil taxes are reformed, the world’s largest oil producer could see output peak in 2018 before it enters a steep decline.

Sinopec to Cut Costs, Expand Overseas Operations as Refining Profit Drops

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, will cut costs and accelerate its expansion overseas as government controls prevent the company from passing on higher crude-oil prices to customers.

Enbridge's bet on oil sands gives up guaranteed revenues

As production from Canada's oil sands charges ahead, pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. ENB-T is betting it can harness major volume gains on its crude oil mainline by fixing toll rates and abandoning guaranteed revenues. But the bold strategic shift brings uncommon risks to a sector loved by investors for its steady earnings.

Destination – Hell. Are we there yet? Drilling and Earthquakes

This is the fourth and final installment of an investigative report uncovering and analyzing a global plan to capture and utilize the ocean's store of methane hydrates.

Oil taxation is fair – it’s just not enough

Straight from the Alastair Campbell spin-doctor’s playbook. What better way to demonstrate just how different this Tory-led Coalition is from Conservative governments of the past than to tweak the nose of Big Oil? It was great political theatre seeing oil company spokespeople laying into a Tory Chancellor for announcing a £2 billion levy on North Sea profits to be recycled to motorists through the Fair Fuel Stabiliser. The industry claimed it hadn’t been consulted, but that would have removed the element of surprise.

What the Government didn’t expect was that Liberal Democrats such as Malcolm Bruce, the MP for Gordon, would start laying into the Chancellor too, along with respected oil analysts such as Professor Alex Kemp of Aberdeen University. On Budget day plus one, the Scottish media seemed to have turned into cheerleaders for the oil companies as editorials thundered about the threat to investment and Scottish jobs.

Fuel crisis 'not being taken seriously'

A looming 1973-style oil crunch is not being taken seriously enough by the Government, a leading motoring commentator says.

Dog and Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said yesterday that severe oil shortages would not only end New Zealand's petrol addiction but could even trigger a change in Government.

Will Range Anxiety Impact Electric Car Sales?

How has performance been for the vehicles that have been sold? I haven’t seen any reports on the Volt, but apparently some Leaf owners are complaining that Nissan’s claimed 100 mile range for the Leaf isn’t holding up in practice.

My View: Oil is a finite resource

The figures from the U.S. government Energy Information Agency (EIA) show global peak oil being reached in 2005. Just as the continental U.S. reached peak oil in 1970 and has had declining production since then (from 10 million barrels per day in 1970 to about 3 million barrels per day in 2010), we can expect that the world will begin seeing declining crude oil production.

Tainter's law: where is the physics?

In his book, Tainter examines previous studies and lists at least eleven causes (or "concauses") of collapse that have been proposed by historians. Resource depletion, catastrophes, intruders, social conflict, and others. But is there a single cause of collapse? Or are there several? Tainter looks for a single, common root of the problem and finds it in what he calls "the decreasing returns of complexity".

The Clean Energy Revolution Won't Be About Clean Energy

The uprisings in the Middle East and the growing austerity-induced unrest among workers in the US and Europe have provided new hope for environmental movement leaders who for years have struggled to mobilize the pubic to confront the looming catastrophes of growth-capitalism.

'Homefront's Fall of US: Fact or Fiction?

The idea for Homefront was conceived after Votypka watched 1984 movie Red Dawn as a teenager. The concept of Soviet troops and tanks swarming into small-town America instantly resonated with him, and he started wondering whether the world's greatest superpower would ever allow its people to be occupied by a military oppressor. Homefront's story, developed with Red Dawn writer and director John Milius, depicts the US deep in the economic mire as a post-peak oil state - in which oil supplies have peaked and fallen into decline - has led to a near-total collapse of the American way of life.

A Green City Rises Up in Sydney

When finished, Sydney’s Central Park, a $2 billion mixed-use site on 6,500 square meters, or 70,000 square feet, of park land, will have 11 buildings that will be so energy efficient they will be able to export electricity to neighboring areas, according to the developer, Frasers Property Australia. The rooftops will be designed to turn rain into drinking water. When the toilets flush, the sewage will be recycled into usable water.

Global Crunch in Supplies of Key Fertilizer Could Threaten Food Supply and Raise Prices

Newswise — WASHINGTON, March 27, 2011 — Global production of phosphorus fertilizer could peak and decline later this century, causing shortages and price spikes that jeopardize world food production, five major scientific societies warned today. The crisis will come at a time when Earth’s population may surge past 9 billion.

Last Lump of University Coal Burned for Campus Energy

At an event held on March 21, workers at the University’s Central Energy Plant shoveled the last lumps of coal used to create energy for Cornell. Since Wednesday, when the last of the coal was combusted, the University’s Ithaca campus has been coal-free.

Australia: Abbott declares carbon tax 'toxic'

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has refused to back away from his assertion that some of the claims about climate change are ''absolute crap'' while contending the NSW election result shows ''carbon tax is toxic.''

Renewables are the way ahead, nobody can deny

CARBON tax and the global warming debate aside, the world is running out of energy resources. If we continue using coal at present levels, we only have 176 years left of the stuff, according to a recent report by HSBC.

But there may only be 49 years left of oil - that's proven resources, not potential - and that's assuming demand doesn't increase.

Water issues worry American most, global warming least, says new Gallup poll

Water tops a list of nine environmental issues that Americans worry about, according to this year’s Gallup Environment Poll, whose results were released today.

According to the new poll, four environmental issues referring to water rank in the upper tier of environmental concerns, with air pollution a close fifth.

There is a slightly steeper drop-off in concern about several issues not directly related to daily survival, such as the loss of tropical rain forests and urban sprawl.

Oceans might be speeding melt of Greenland's glaciers

Dynamic layers of warm Atlantic and cold Arctic Ocean waters around Greenland may be speeding the melt of the country's glaciers, researchers find.

"Over the last 15 years or so, the Greenland Ice Sheet has been putting a lot more ice into the ocean," said Fiammetta Straneo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, who has spent years studying the ice-coated country that is currently responsible for about a quarter of worldwide sea level rise.

Forget about the nuclear incident in Japan, we are in a "Global Meltdown"
No ice will be left in the poles within a few more years, and no oil in the ground too.
With thousands of nuclear plants that depend on cooling, its a sure fire complete disaster.
Lets go for solar, wind, and water energy!

Forget about the nuclear incident in Japan, we are in a "Global Meltdown". No ice will be left in the poles within a few more years, and no oil in the ground too.

That's nonsense. The Arctic icepack is becoming a bit thin and may start to break up during the summer months later in the century (and reform again during the winter), but the Antarctic icecap is not going to shrink appreciably during our lifetimes.

There is lots of oil left in the ground, albeit not at the very low prices people have become used to in the recent past, and it probably can't be produced as fast as people would like. However, the real problem is that there are too many people competing to use it.

Well... I am willing to bet a bucket of butter on an ice free North Pole during this decade. Maybe as early as 2013 but I doubt it. But that is floating water that does not rise sea levels when it melts. Those big melt off events are still a good bit ahead of us. Not that we can avoid it, though.

Greenland and Antarctica are each losing 100s of gigatons of ice annually. Rate of loss is increasing.

Amazingly, this loss translates only into 1-2 mm/yr sea level rise and represents only a tiny fraction of the total ice there.

Correct. Total land-ice loss is about 500 cubic Km. That is a 100 x 100 Km area under 50 meter of water. Every year. Inland seas of that volume are normaly known by name internationally.

And all that, plus heat expansion, adds 3,2 mm sea level rise per year.

All those numbers are increasing by the year.

Turning ice into water absorbs a hell of a lot more heat than raising the air temperature. When those gigatons are gone and no longer absorbing heat what happens to temperature?


Exactly. My WAG is that all that melting is what's keeping Europe cool. But, when its gone, then late spring to autumn temperatures will rise significantly. The 2003 European heat wave will then become the norm. I wonder how much nuclear power generation will then go off-line due to cooling problems in France (once intake water temp exceeds 25°c, the nukes are taken off-line)?

Once the arctic floating ice sheet have melted away, the Arctic Ocean will start to absorb ice much faster. This will heat up the ocean so that once there is an ice free summer, every following summer will remin ice free untill we hit an ice age again.

This phenomena will initially store away heat so I guess cooling will actually increase for a few years after that ice is gone. But once the top layer of the water catches up, the effect is reversed, and then heat will hit us like a hammer.

I live in Scandinavia so I will have a front row seat to watch it.

Even if worst case scenarios come true (7 to 10 meter sea rise during this century) we will still have land ice for centuries. So for any meaningfull time this is not "our" problem.

But the thing you bring up is an important issue. Climate change deniers likes to point out that the world (in their graphs and minds) don't actually heat up. Well, melting ice, or increasing air moisture, takes energy, so this is a way to store heat. If this did not hapen, the thermal energy would have added to higher temperatures instead.

This is also why the average temperature don't increase following a smooth curve, but a jagged one. Depending on winds and currents and a zillion other factors, the heat can be stored up in melted ice etc instead of air temperature, and to what degree this occour varies year on year.

All this is to advanced science for the denier crowd, but it is still usefull to know how to explain this when one meet an honest sceptic (wich is a hole other animal than the deniers).

I am willing to bet a bucket of butter on an ice free North Pole during this decade. Maybe as early as 2013 but I doubt it. But that is floating water that does not rise sea levels when it melts.

That's a key point that most people miss. When floating ice (e.g. the Arctice ice pack) melts, it does not raise the water levels. The ice is already displacing a volume of water equivalent to its mass, and when it melts, that doesn't change.

If the ice is sitting on land, which it is in the Antarctic, melting could increase sea levels. However, there is no real evidence to indicate the Antarctic ice cap is getting thinner. If temperatures increase, snowfall may increase, and that make the ice cap thicker. There is evidence this is actually happening.

Nothing about glaciers is simple, but people assume it is.

Nothing about glaciers is simple, but people assume it is.

Amen brother.

Once the climate begun heating up again in the 1990'ies after a few decades of colder weather, many glaciers, including those in Scandinavia, begun to grow. This confused people a lot. I was a school kid back then and did not know what was going on either. Since then, the melting zone have climbed up along the mountain ridges so that most of those glaciers are now in a total net loss of ice/water. But still growing at the top.

There are still growing glaciers around the world. But the list is growing thinner by the year. Similar to the list of nations increasing their oil production.

The Arctic is water suronded by land, Antarctica is land surronded by water, so they behave very different. Greenland is clearly losing ice/water. Antarctica is harder to tell. It apears they have both growing and shrinking areas there. In due time, there will be a very clear net loss.

The work of scientists such as Dr. Eric Rignot (NASA JPL) show that West Antarctica is in negative mass balance (it is losing mass). The ice shelves in West Antarctica are melting from the surface and, when in contact with water are also melting from below due to warmer sea surface temperatures. Moreover, as the ice shelves continue to warm many eventually collapse--some with spectacular rapidity such as the collapse of Larsen-B on the Antarctic Peninsula. Work by Dr. Rignot and other shows that these ice shelves had been acting like plugs, in effect holding back the flowing land-based glaciers behind them. Once these plugs are removed the glaciers begin flowing towards the sea and you can get what is referred to as a "draw down", where the the glacier thins by tens for meters in just a few months as the ice flows unhindered towards the sea. Recent studies by Dr. Richard Katz (Oxford) have found that both Pine Island glacier and Thwaite glacier in West Antarctica are already past tipping points which will cause them to collapse. It is almost inevitable that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will make a very significant contribution to sea level rise well before the end of this century.

The Pine Island and Thwaite glaciers are no small potatoes. Them alone is now expected to give 50-70 cm sea level rise during the century. And that is given current climate. If it gets wharmer (likely) it will get worse. Added to a minimum of 60 cm or so predicted by IPCC (wich is a very conservative body, not alarmists as the denialists like to say). So a minimum sea level rise of 1,5 meters (if you don't use the IPCC best case scenarios, wich you NEVER shall do) is alredy programmed to happen before 2100.

The West Antarctic Peninsula is just a chain of islands, covered and merged with glaciers. Not a continuous land mass. This part is now losing water and is going to be the first victim in Antarctica, due to its water contact. They have about 3 meter sea level tied up in those ice cubes. If my memory serves me.

Some odd facts on melting ice many people don't think about:

Melting sea ice do rise sea level. If it is fresh water wich much of it is. Fresh and salt water have diffrent densities, so when the fresh water ice melt, it delutes the salt water and the density falls, wich increases the volume. Due to this effect, melting sea ice rice sea levels by the width of a hair a day. When all (as in "all") land ice is melted, a whopping 3 cm sea level rise is expected because of this.

If you melt all ice on Greenland today, sea level would sink. This if you live near the island. Ice have mass, mass have gravity. All that ice on Greenland pull water towards it, raising sea levels locally. Melt that ice and the water will distribute itself in the world oceans, and without that extra gravity pull, places like Iceland will get more land property when the North Sea sinks. However, places like Hawaii will get a double whammy; the 7 meters of extra water, plus that water in the sea that flow "downhill" when the Greenland ice sheet gravity pull comes to and end.

All we hear about is, "the ice is melting." And, yes, that is happening. A significant part of rising sea level, though, is thermal expansion as the oceans heat up.



Regarding arctic sea ice, these sources disagree. Of course, 2016 is 'later this century'.

Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS)

Observed Rate of Ice Extent (2-D) Loss Faster Than in GCMs

Wish I knew how to embed an image from a PDF. Do go look at it within that 2nd link. Arctic ice mass declining far more rapidly than models project.

Combined (95-07) model / data linear volume trend of -1075 km3/yr
projects ice-free fall by 2016

However, the real problem is that there are too many people competing to use it.

Are you suggesting we bomb our energy competitors (Europe, Japan, Chindia) back to the Stone Age to free up supply?

This us the bogus 'size of the tap' argument of oilmen like RMG which is really a demand side argument, also the silly 'the Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of rocks'argument of the Sheikhs. The reason it is so often repeated is that TOD has lots of oilmen about.

The fact is the world IS running out of fossil fuels based on geological assessment.
What oil is left is scrapping the bottom of the barrel, coal btu/pound is falling,
new gas requires fracking solid rock, uranium is leached out of the ground rather than mined.

The obvious response is to move decisively toward renewable energy while there is time to do so.

Scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human needs and wants, in a world of limited resources.

Scarcity in Economics--Goods (and services) that are scarce are called economic goods (or simply goods if their scarcity is presumed). Other goods are called free goods if they are desired but in such abundance that they are not scarce, such as air and seawater. Too much of something freely available can informally be referred to as a bad, but then its absence can be classified as a good, thus, a mown lawn, clean air, etc.


Unfortunately we cannot easily transform 'free goods' like wind, waterflow and sunshine into an 'economic good', energy but it can be done.

Are you suggesting we bomb our energy competitors (Europe, Japan, Chindia) back to the Stone Age to free up supply?

Total Energy = Energy per person X number of people.

If total energy is lower to balance the equation you need to have people use less energy or have less people. Given pushback on "use less" - I'm guessing the less people will be the option.

Unfortunately we cannot easily transform 'free goods' like wind, waterflow and sunshine into an 'economic good', energy but it can be done.

Energy is typically "fixed" in some physical form. To use wind/waterflow/sunshine as an economic good, the fixing process is best one that is able to be started/stopped and able to fit withing the natural flows. Processes which have thermal shock from warming/cooling cycles won't do well. (smelting, glass making) Right now with the rolling blackouts in Japan allows "us" to see how to adapt the 24x7x365 on demand energy business model to one that works with flows of energy.

Are you suggesting we bomb our energy competitors (Europe, Japan, Chindia) back to the Stone Age to free up supply?

No, I'm suggesting you might have to outbid them on the international market. If you bomb them back to the stone age, the oil producers might decide not to play by your rules and not sell you any oil. This goes back to the old kindergarten rule - if you don't play nice the other guys may pick up their marbles and go away mad, and then you will have no one to play with.

This us the bogus 'size of the tap' argument of oilmen like RMG which is really a demand side argument, also the silly 'the Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of rocks'argument of the Sheikhs. The reason it is so often repeated is that TOD has lots of oilmen about.

I never said any such thing. That's just the old Straw Man argument, popular among people who don't have any rebuttal to the real argument.

What I actually said was, "There is lots of oil left in the ground, albeit not at the very low prices people have become used to". The implication from your perspective is that there may be enough oil for some other people, but you personally may not be able to afford it. Other people will, though. If you can't afford it, I guess it sucks to be you.

The real reason people have used oil for the last century is that it has been cheaper and more convenient than alternative sources of energy. If people find a cheaper source of energy, they will switch to it. However, the transition will be traumatic for people who bought into the idea that their government would fix problems without them having to do anything.

Note that I am looking at the situation from the Canadian perspective. Canada has fewer people than California and has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. In addition it has vast amounts of other energy resources of all types. Naturally, things look a bit rosy in the view from the top of Peak Oil.

There is lots of oil left in the ground, albeit not at the very low prices people have become used to in the recent past, and it probably can't be produced as fast as people would like. However, the real problem is that there are too many people competing to use it.

That IS the 'size of the tap' argument.
The world can't produce enough oil to satisfy demand.
I didn't twist your words as you say.

Don't feel bad, a lot of people at TOD make that argument.

There are even limits on the size of Canada's tars sands(550 Gb) and US oil shale deposits(400 Gb). We can see the End of Fossil Fuels today.

This us the bogus 'size of the tap' argument of oilmen like RMG which is really a demand side argument

I did not make a "demand side" argument, it was a supply side argument.

As in classical economics, supply-side economics proposed that production or supply is the key to economic prosperity and that consumption or demand is merely a secondary consequence.

...also the silly 'the Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of rocks'argument of the Sheikhs. The reason it is so often repeated is that TOD has lots of oilmen about.

I didn't say anything about the stone age or running out of rocks. That was a Saudi oil minister, and I don't necessarily agree with him. There may be a lot of oilmen around here, but they seldom repeat the "Stone Age" argument. You may have noticed that some of us don't really believe what the Saudis are saying about their oil reserves.

There are even limits on the size of Canada's tars sands(550 Gb) and US oil shale deposits(400 Gb). We can see the End of Fossil Fuels today.

The three main Canadian oil sands deposits have about 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen-in-place, in addition to which may be another 2 trillion barrels in the adjacent carbonate trend. Venezuela has about 2 trillion barrels in its oil sands. It will take centuries to burn through these oil reserves, but mostly because none of it can be produced very fast.

Also, fossil fuels are not limited to oils. There are considerably larger amounts of natural gas and coal around than oil. The main problem with them is that they are not as transportable as oil.

Also, fossil fuels are not limited to oils. There are considerably larger amounts of natural gas and coal around than oil. The main problem with them is that they are not as transportable as oil.

The "main problem with them" isn't simply the limits on available supply or the rate of extraction. The main problem is the long term impact of burning all that carbon and dumping the CO2 into the atmosphere. Most all atmospheric scientists agree this will cause a warming of the Earth, though there is still debate as to how much. We know for a fact that people can not live in an environment where the dew point exceeds 96 F, which puts a hard limit on how great the rise can be before people begin to die. Of course, with A/C, life would continue for those who might still be able to pay for the energy and the remaining humans could just move north to Canada, Siberia or the Antarctic...

E. Swanson

Supply side economics usually means trickle down economics, that lower tax rates will produce more oil. (US tax rates are about as low as they can go--i.e. pushing on a rope.)
The US experience since Reagan has been that low tax rates produce debt, not growth.

The supply side approach of 'make it and they will buy' or in the case of Say's law;

The Scottish economist James Mill restates Say's law in 1808, writing that "production of commodities creates, and is the one and universal cause which creates a market for the commodities produced."

This is obviously wishful thinking. (It would also remove the need for market research.)

So is the assumption that 100% of Alberta's bitumen resources will be recovered-- most of what I've seen is that a 20% recovery rate is about it. Underground coal mines cannot recover more than 40% of a deep coal seam because coal supports the mine roof, etc.

Oil is indeed the king of energy density having over 1.5 times
the energy density of both bituminous coal and LNG.

Of course, unconventional oil reduces that to 1.3 times due to energy required for extraction and conversion to syncrude.

Supply side economics usually means trickle down economics, that lower tax rates will produce more oil. (US tax rates are about as low as they can go--i.e. pushing on a rope.)
The US experience since Reagan has been that low tax rates produce debt, not growth.

That was a weird theory promoted in the US during the Reagan era. I never paid much attention to it. I think it's largely been discredited since.


It is true that many early proponents argued that the size of the economic growth would be significant enough that the increased government revenue from a faster growing economy would be sufficient to compensate completely for the short-term costs of a tax cut, and that tax cuts could, in fact, cause overall revenue to increase. However, in 2003, the Wall Street Journal declared the debate over the ability of supply-side economics to reduce taxes without cost has ended "with a whimper," after extensive modeling performed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) failed to support that possibility.

So is the assumption that 100% of Alberta's bitumen resources will be recovered-- most of what I've seen is that a 20% recovery rate is about it. Underground coal mines cannot recover more than 40% of a deep coal seam because coal supports the mine roof, etc.

The oil sands mines are surface mines and are legally required to recover more than 95% of the oil in place. For in-situ projects, 20% is the typical recovery rate using older technology. These days, using more advanced technology, companies are getting considerably more than that.


The estimates given were assuming a recovery rate of about 20 percent of bitumen in place. This means that only 20 percent of the amount of bitumen located in the Alberta region can be in use. Yet, this is not the recovery rate that is believed to be accessible by the producers themselves. The oil producers believe that about 60 percent of the bitumen located here are removable with very little effort through the steam assisted gravity drainage method (SAGD) which would drastically change the picture.

They keep improving the technology all the time, and as they do so, the recovery rates climb. This is an area where a little research goes a long way.

Note that I am looking at the situation from the Canadian perspective. Canada has fewer people than California and has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. In addition it has vast amounts of other energy resources of all types. Naturally, things look a bit rosy in the view from the top of Peak Oil.

Remember that we have free market for oil, so we still have to outbid everybody.

And "we" would still need to pay for our bids, using something other than worthless pieces of paper...

E. Swanson

Trouble in Syria:

Clinton has already said the US will not intervene into Syria.
Did not say why, but look, Syria has no oil production!
So far the only US intervention was Libya, all other countries are being ignored.

If you bothered reading the current front page of TOD, you would see Syria produces 0.401 Mbd - not a major player, but very far from zero.

Please improve the factual content of your comments.

Although net exports are only about150k barrels per day. That's about 1/10th of Libyan net exports. Not much to go to war for.

In 2009, according to the EIA, Syria imported 10 kb/d of crude and exported 250 kb/d of crude for a net export figure of 240,000 barrels per day. They produced, in 2009, 367,000 barrels per day of Crude + Condensate.




Ron P.

Net exports was 116,870 barrels per day in 2009 according to EIA.


Well that's nice and consistent of them.

Must not include lease condensate I guess?


In 2009, Syria’s net petroleum exports were estimated to be 148,000 bbl/d. All oil exports are marketed by Sytrol, Syria’s state oil marketing firm, which sells most of its volumes under 12-month contracts. Syrian crude oil exports go mostly to OECD European countries, in particular Germany, Italy, and France, totaling an estimated 143,000 bbl/d in 2009, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) data.

So that's the third unique figure for 2009 from the same source...

And then further down in that same link:

Net Petroleum Exports (2009E) 192 thousand barrels per day

Take your pick!

Whichever you pick though it is still only a small fraction of Libya's exports.


Its not the Libyan oil exports you should be worrying about it is the Human exports. Lampedusa an Italian island between Sicily and Tunisia is being inundated by Tunisian refugees. There are more refugees than residents. The Italians are shipping them off too the mainland as quickly as they can but more are arriving by the day They have just picked up 300 Somalians to add too the witches brew. They are moving them too tented camps on Sicily. Thousands of locals are protesting because they are escaping and wandering all over the place. Italy a few days ago refused entry too a Moroccan ferry with several thousand Moroccans. The E.U. estimates that there could be as many 200,000 thousand Libyan refugees when the trouble settles down. Thats the good news think what will happen if Syrian goes tits up. Every cloud has a silver lining for some it seems Tunisian is demanding 150 million Euro line of credit from Italy to help Italy stem the tide. The loss of oil from Libya is nothing to the Human tsunami that is going to hit Europe in the next couple of years if not months

But Syria isn't in the same situation as Libya, just as Tunisia and Egpyt weren't in the same situation as Libya - the US didn't intervene in those places and no-one complained.

This obsession over Libyan oil is growing a bit wearisome.

Plus, it's not just the US intervening! They weren't the first to enter the country and they're not even heading the operation any more!

I don't think anyone has remarked that converting Libya to democracy (something of a stretch, but not impossible) would give them a string of three countries across northern Africa that could be claimed to be newly in the democratic western, rather than muslim, camp.

Think of it as the domino theory in reverse, democracy/western values can push west to knock off Algeria and Morocco - then Europe has the means for some reasonable control of a barrier against the hoards from Africa, and the US pins in the arabs in to the middle east.

With gadaffi still in control in Libya, there is the threat to Eygpt and Tunisia.

It looks to be a good strategic move from the perspective of Europe primarily, and the US secondary.

Yes, I agree. I think maintaining the democratic revolution is a much more plausible reason than oil.

My "maybe, possible" conspiracy theory version (and I'm not really much a consp.theorist) is that the corporations might be influencing these revolutions so they can get democratic-like senate/parliament members that can be bought off and bring in (more?) McDonalds and Starbucks.

I suspect it's tough to get corporate control in a dictatorship.

So far the only US intervention was Libya, all other countries are being ignored.

That's an interesting comment, and one I tend to agree with, particularly because of the double edged position regarding Libya. What the White House says is "Libya is not in our National interest, but the general area is in our National interest."

What the heck is that suppose to mean? It's a not so subtle way of saying, Libya has enough oil to intervene but not so much oil like the Saudi's, for us to intervene on the part of the protesters. In other words Syria has too little and the Saudi's too much to risk intervening, but Libya represents the goldi-locks mid-range oil production in which they can get involved and still feel politically safe.

...all other countries are being ignored.

Libya is led by a nutcase who has a track record of lashing out against the West, particularly in Europe. He's dangerous, that's why he is being contained.

When are people going to clue in, there are more than just U.S. "national security interests" at play here. Washington has been so involved in world affairs since World War II that's it sometimes difficult to see that the other players may have their own set of interests to put first.

That said, in case anyone hasn't noticed, the U.S. is highly overstretched. America has no other choice but to be selective as to where it can intervene. Libya, yes, but in concert with other countries and staying in the background. The rest - Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia - is a wait and see game and will be responded to on a contingency basis.

It wasn't Clinton or Obama who spearheaded the response to Libya; read instead, Sarkozy, Hague, and Cameron. It was Paris and London and even the U.N. general secretary, Ban Ki-moon, as well as defecting Libyan diplomats, who put pressure and maneuvered the United Nations into imposing a no-fly zone.

Not everything is about the gawd-dang U.S.A.!

When you're the six hundred pound gorilla on the block, it's difficult to turn a banana shipment over to mere chimps' watch. However, if you have your eye on every warehouse and shop, and there is monkey business brewing at each stop, options are limited. If friendly primates are excited for their own reasons, it may prove prudent to let them do their own thing. The gorilla may lose a banana franchise or two along the way, but hey, such is price he pays for not being everywhere at once.

In the meantime a feral and peeved baboon is tied up for the moment.

That's how I'm reading the layout of animal farm today.

In case anyone is still wondering what I'm babbling on about, the gorilla is the U.S., the baboon is Gaddafi, and the chimps/primates are NATO and other allies.

When are people going to clue in, there are more than just U.S. "national security interests" at play here.

Thank you!

And the intervention may not be based solely on humanitarian reasons; there's likely a big desire to keep the democratic revolution rolling. But it's sure as heck not just about the US' interest in Libyan oil!

Although for the record, officially it is an entirely humanitarian mission.

Edit: Now this is the kind of warfare tactics I can really get behind:

Spencer Ackerman from Wired.com wrote that NATO is taking command of the Libya war. But the real strategy for victory over Moammar Gadhafi is found on the airwaves above Libya: communications frequencies telling his commanders to simply give up fighting. If that sounds like hope masquerading as a plan, then you’re receiving the message loud and clear.

Flying over Libya is the Commando Solo, the Air Force’s special operations aircraft. It’s capable of hijacking radio and TV frequencies to disrupt enemy communications and broadcast the messaging that the U.S. wants. Last week, it informed Libyan naval officers that if they left port to challenge the American, French and Italian ships floating nearby, they’d be destroyed.

Allied message broadcast to Libyan ships

Communication really is the key - if they can take over that darned State TV it could help enormously.

i - You just gave me a great idea. print about 10,000 packs of playing cards with Col. Q and his top military commanders/politicos pictured. Just like we did in Iraq. Then drop them on Tripoli. I'm sure the word would spread like wildfire.

Haha! They used to do tactics like that during WWII didn't they? But I do actually think that things like that really could swing it if it persuades the people in Tripoli who are too scared to speak out against the Regime and who have little access to the outside world that external forces are at play.

Just listening to that vid in the link above, there's something very Star Wars-esque about it!

Thank you!

You're welcome!

I can get Rush Limbaugh and Hannity on about six different stations.

Re: Water issues worry American most, global warming least, says new Gallup poll

But, global warming might make availability of water an even larger problem!!! It's been known for a while that warmer temperatures are likely to increase drought and historical data shows that this has happened before. The dividing latitude between the dry Western US and the more moist Midwest has shifted toward the east during previous droughts. That would wipe out corn production in large areas whidn how can produce it.

E. Swanson

Just a nit, but you mean longitude, not latitude. Roughly speaking, 100° west is regarded as the dividing line, which also corresponds approximately to the 20-inch total annual precipitation line.

Areas east of the line which are currently large corn producers (eg, the northern half of Iowa) are likely to become more suitable for wheat. Which is good, since the Great Plains seem likely to become too dry even for that. Corn production would be expected to shift east.

The Great Plains has been depopulating since the 1930s, and the trend appears to be accelerating. With a large swath of (potentially) empty wasteland separating the eastern and western US, it is interesting to speculate on those two regions going their own ways eventually.

Thanks for correcting my bad. Your additional details add emphasis to the problem I wanted to point out...

E. Swanson

My thinking too. Why is education of the general population so hard?

I'd say incredibly distracted from important issues and completely apathetic towards self-directed education.

completely apathetic towards self-directed education.

There are posters here on TOD who complain about the state of education who are even more dismissive of autodidacts.
(and from my POV using books/other resources to learn something is part of the modern Autodidact.)

And under the 'move the blame to someone else' - if "someone else" has certified that the employee 'are learn-id', you are off the hook for a bad decision.

Too much TV? (And not the "Discovery" channel).

Why is education of the general population so hard?

Imagine that someone sent you a lesson written in Greek.

(Of course we assume you don't understand Greek. If you do, pick another language.)

Well you get the point (hopefully).

For every "lesson" there is presumed to have been an earlier lesson (i.e. a language interpreting lesson) that taught you how to receive the next lesson, and that steps back to the time you were born.

For many in the "general population" (not that any of us is 'superior') there never was that earlier lesson.

[ i.mage.+] (it's all greek to me)

Hi step,

Thank you. This meets my need for a thoughtful discussion, and also reflects my own experience.

People differ greatly in what they received as children, including the quality and degree of emotional "literacy," (nurturing-abuse scale, so to speak), which also plays a huge role in promoting or inhibiting curiosity and the learning experience. Not to mention content.

These types of "lessons" are perhaps even more challenging to take on, as an adult, than is any kind of language. "The language of non-violent communication" (www.cnvc.org) is an example of a place to begin...but even that is just a beginning.

Or, to quote Laura Nyro

mama let me start all over
cradle me
mama cradle me again

Here's the current drought picture for the U.S. with "tendency" forecast through June:


We should start seeing flooding in the upper Great Plains from the snow melt soon, and perhaps in the northeast U.S. as well.

Excessive snow in the northern Great Plains and Midwest may spur floods that rival the record- setting deluge of 2009, threatening U.S. wheat crops and livestock as cities in the region stockpile sandbags.

Since October, North Dakota, the largest wheat-growing state, South Dakota and Minnesota got almost 3 feet (91 centimeters) more snow than usual, National Weather Service data show. More than 20 inches remain in some areas, about the same amount that was on the ground at this time in 2009, before floods along the Red River of the North caused about $223.7 million in damage and killed more than 91,000 cattle.

Planting delays may curb wheat output for a third year in the U.S., the world’s largest exporter. Global inventories of the grain already were eroded by floods last year in Australia and Canada and a drought in Russia that sent wheat prices to two-year high last month. World food prices tracked by the United Nations reached a record in February.

“There is strong interest in wheat” from traders because of the potential threat to U.S. production, said Jim Peterson, the marketing director of the Bismarck-based North Dakota Wheat Commission, an industry group. If floods delay the start of spring planting until late April, “you’ll start seeing the market get quite concerned,” he said.

There has been enough precipitation in China's wheat growing region to ease the drought a bit. Only time will tell if the drought is truly diminishing, but there does seem to be more confidence lately that the wheat crop might not be to bad.


I was reading the reviews of Chris Martenson’s latest Crash Course book, The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment, there have been two of them, I came across a review by Sandy Winnich, Certified Financial Planner. She gave Martenson five stars, the highest rating possible. She said great things about the book, praising it greatly but inserted one caveat:

One thing Martenson gets wrong in Crash Course is the oil economy. Yes, the world economy runs on oil, but if we ran out tomorrow, I believe we would establish an alternative (perhaps multiple alternatives) quickly and efficiently. There would be a brief surge in energy prices, but a cleaner, more efficient form will take over soon enough.

A cleaner and more efficient form of energy will take over, something not just as good as oil but something much better and cheaper than oil. I have no idea what this might be. Of course no one else does either but science will find it. After all, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.

This belief seems to be held as if it were religious dogma among many (most?) otherwise highly intelligent people. This person, a financial planner and apparently an economist, agrees that the government is in dire straights and is about to collapse but science will, in the end prevail, and save everything. Science will keep on marching onward and upward even as any government foundation it has is kicked from beneath its feet. Now that is having ultimate faith in science.

That reminds me of what Howard Kunstler said about the engineers at Google when he was invited to speak to them at their headquarters in California. Their general reaction was: "Hey, we got technology dude! "

Ron P.


I find exactly the same opinion in many people who should know better. Usually it is electric vehicles as the answer. When I explain about how that is unlikely to work, I get asked "What is the answer then?" as if I had asked a trick question. 'They' just cannot accept that there is no answer. 'They' also usually finish the conversation with "something will turn up", lets talk about something important like footy.

I see the vast majority of humanity as like the animal on the road looking at the brilliant lights, perfectly still, watching intently. For 40 years we have been staring at the lights, watching them get closer and closer. We can even hear the roar of the engine, but only at the very last second will we try to avoid getting hit. Unfortunately it doesn't work out well for the animals that stare at the lights, we probably wont be any different.

H - reminds me of an incident about 35 years ago. Some old bar fly was ranting about the damn oil companies. Seems like the oil companies had it all wrong: we didn't need them drilling more oil wells...we needed more gasoline wells!

Think about it: his vote counts the same as yours. Fortunately he probably missed every election day while sleeping off his last bender.

See. Ethanol is the answer.

Clearly we need more ethanol wells. Drill baby drill!

Subsidize Baby Subsidize!


We need more HELLs wells
because that is the end game to where all this
DRILL (yes-we-can) DRILL BABY mentality is taking us.

There is lots of energy in a gallon of beliefs; all we have to do is figure out how to use it.


The sad thing is that a multitude of people are going to be blindsided both physically and emotionally when (not if) it all comes down. As I have said too many times, if those who prepare because they are not sanguine about the future are wrong no one is harmed whereas if those who believe in some form of BAU are wrong society could be destroyed.


I wonder if there is a more sinister element preparing for the impending energy crisis, a golden horde type of preparedness.

Hi Squarewave,

My gut feeling says no. It's hard for me envision a group first accepting that they need to prepare and, second, planning to "take over". I do see the possibility of existing gangs to change their area of operations.

Read Lights Out by Halfast (David Crawford) if you are interested in this sort of thing. I don't have a current URL so you'll have to Google it. It runs a little over 500 pages.

You might also look at some of the work by Tom Sherry http://www.darkwinterstory.com


Ron - When I see stories like that I don't know if it's just sobering or down right frightening. With crap like that popping out in the middle of serious discusions how can we ever expect the public to get it right. Even if you get them thinking about resource depletion they'll just want to sit back and wait for that new tech to save them.

Next thing you know some fool will be claiming the KSA has 10-15 million bopd excess capablity.


I think America also has to get off the idea that they can turn the whole thing round in a few months and start producing all the new windmills panels what have you and the problem is solved in a couple of years. I don't know how many times I have read in blogs and what you like that America turned its motor industry round in six months in the second world war from producing cars to producing tank blah blah blah. They certainly did but they seem to forget that all your heavy industry was in place and was not going flat out. There was still a hell of a lot of slake in the system. It was a simple matter of retooling for a different product. This time it is going to be a hell of a lot different, before you can build PV panels and what have you, you need to build the (industry)factories first before you can produce the panels and that can take a couple of years plus training people, before you start to see any real change in output.

yorkie - Good point. I also add what a number of historians have pointed out many years ago: a major element in the US industrial expansion that helped win WWII was the timely discovery of the giant E Texas oil field just years before we were drawn into the war. At just the right moment we had a vitually limitless (compared to the rest of the world) supply of oil. Many historians also note that Germany's lack of fuel was at least a contributing factor in the end.

Not likely we'll develop such a cornucopian supply of cheap energy to move us into the age of alts. And for all the alt lovers I'm not saying alts don't have the capability to aid us as we tumble down the PO patch. IMHO it's a question of the time and, perhaps to a larger degree, availality of capex/energy to do so.

For me it's very similar to the situation when a fellow can't make his mortgage payments but rates have dropped so low he can get by with a new mortgage. The plan works great onto paper. But he owes more on the old mortgage than the current equity in the house. So all he has to do is plop down $XXXXXXX at closing and... SHAZAM!...he has a new low monthly payment. Unfortuantely if he had all that money in the bank he would not have been having trouble paying his current mortgage. If we had taken advantage of our prosperity during the good days to expnad alts matters might be very different today IMHO.

This old-fangled technology can help some. Imagine 10% of commuters (which use bikes) all stopped to filled up their cars.

Yes, though, gasp, sigh, ah hem, ... we are thoroughly doomed. lol. I know.

But I am young and hopeful for some people to finally transition to the human- and gravity-powered bicycle.

When the weather is right and the distance is close. LOL. Don't all make fun of me at once.

Can't make fun of you, Oct. I ride my bike to work everyday, and I am in the rainy Pacific NW. We also do all of our errands and shopping by bike. A bicycle pulling a trailer can get the job done! Mrs. Tonypdx just got a trailer as well! Can't let me have all of the fun...

I have a yellow rubber suit for my bike to battle the rain. Here in No. CA it has been rainy this winter and early spring. I was hailed on twice in a week too. Ouch! Not as bad as Washington or Oregon though ;-) Sadly more folks could do it but they drive. And our BART is very nice. They let bikes right onto the train.

Well maybe a few more % in the coming years decide to give gravity and leg power a go.

In JH Kunstler's two post-collapse novels he said he realized the characters weren't using bicycles because they couldn't get tires or spare parts. People had gone back to horses/mules, and just walking.

I have a bit of trouble with this idea. Bicycles were invented in the 1800's, iirc, and originally, were very simple machines with iron bands on the wheels. Not a very comfortable ride, granted, but a useful development, nevertheless.

Since we already know about bicycles, I find it hard to imagine we would let them go completely. Wheels have, after all, been with us a long time.

I don't see us going backward to some past historical time. We have to go forward, with all the constraints, and work what we know into a reduced-energy future. Although I am sure a lot of knowledge will be forgotten, if not needed for the purposes of daily survival.

You can make latex from plants.

There you go. Russian Dandelion.

Post-collapse bike tires patent-pending.

But sure pneumatics may not be as easy as solid rubber bits from old treads melted together into a mold with polyethylene or polypropylene plastic which is everywhere. Should work with a little experimentation.

You need fire and plastic. I bet neither will go away for a long time.

Post-collapse bike tires patent-pending.

And you can make tires via alcohol. Plant oils can be used to make various closed sell foams - and the closed cell foams are the core of "airless tires" http://www.airfreetires.com/

The production chain breaking down (like in Japan) VS lack of raw materials.

IMO I don't think bikes have a long term future.
The happy world the bikers are envisioning is not likely. Look back to the depression years, Zimbabwe or Somalia.

I think the happy picture most have visions of is the office worker in their suit riding to work, or all the people of a country town riding to church, their little jobs or shop.

The reality is life will be hard. There will be less of everything and many will move in search of work and "a better life". Being poor and hungry means you eventually find it hard to maintain objects and machinery. In the end some things become more valuable to sell than keep. If the EROEI of a bike is less than its worth it will get traded or sold. Consumerism will die and so will the desire to buy things that are simply nice to have.

Pleasure riding will be for the well-to-do. If a bike does not contribute to household income or actually does work it will simply become an object of value to be sold.

Security will become an even greater problem. Bandits will come in many forms and the vast majority will not be wearing masks. The government will be desperate. There will be offers of work which will not materialize, adulterated food, machines which fail quickly, the list goes on. It will be difficult to keep a bike, as maintaining a living becomes ever more a trial.

IMO I don't think bikes have a long term future.

They have a longer term future than cars and more of a future than being able to afford, say, a horse.

The happy world the bikers are envisioning is not likely.

I'm not sure what happy world you think they are thinking of. The happy place where the roads are well maintained and free of cars?

Look back to the depression years, Zimbabwe or Somalia.

At the point where things are that bad in anyplace with a government sector that is over 25% of the economic activity - that very same government will declare "we need to have continuity" and will invoke rules already on the books for grabbing what they need to keep what they have. When objected to, the citizens will be told how this has been the law for 50+ years and you shoulda complained back then, not now.

After the transfer from the citizens to the government of physical items to keep the government going for a few more years THEN things will get worse.

The reality is life will be hard. There will be less of everything and many will move in search of work and "a better life".

You'll have a few spasms of violence VS the State and then the State will impose more laws to protect itself. Examples of that expressed as new technology - Afghanistan and the new fingerprint/DNA scanners. Woe be to anyone who gets on a "list" of the State which is triggered by a DNA match as getting on the list will not be an accountable action to the person who adds you to the list - thus an unaccountable heavy silver hammer shall come down on anyones head who has offended a public official.

as maintaining a living becomes ever more a trial.

Given the State wants to be paid for things like taxes - at the point where few can "make a living" - the State will still want its taxes and others like the Insurance firms will still want to be paid.

You have a different opinion.

The difference? I explain and post links to support my position.

"look at Somolia" isn't much above hand waving.

With your vision, nothing can be maintained, therefore. I have trouble understanding why a bike is so useless to you. Have you been to China? Do you think they are using bikes for style points. They are efficient machines, no?

The Bike is more efficient than walking. It will be the most prized mode of transit as oil climbs higher and higher for local trips. What else could replace it?

I SAID "long term future".
Look at China all you want. Have you poled them as to where they are going on their bikes. They'll retain value to their owners for as long as they can be maintained and serve a required purpose.

Bicycles in the end are a consumer item. They will be produced for as long as there is a market.
They are made from the same material as most everything else and are subject to priorities and available resources.

As I said they will be a means to an end, when they fail to be able to value add, they will be discarded one way ore another. If they are more valuable to someone else they will eventually be "acquired" by one method or another.

A cycle is a part of the step down. The final step is walking, that's where we are heading, the decline won't stop at bicycles. Everything, everything, everything will be subject to EROEI bicycles included, if a shorter trip is required, if a trip to Grandma's or Disneyland is better made on a cycle it will be used until those endeavors are no longer required.

The big test is are you willing to put your money where your mouth is and invest in cycle tires, chains, frames, brake blocks, security locks or cycle shops. Each is a cog making the machine work.

I SAID "long term future".

The "long term future" is the heat death of the Universe - and then bicycle ownership won't be an issue and you'll be right.

Feel better?

Well, Bandits, you sure are a ray of sunshine today. However:

The final step is walking, that's where we are heading, the decline won't stop at bicycles.

Ummm... no, not quite. It's simply not possible for that to be where we are heading. If we allow it to get so utterly bad that we can't even manage simple 1880s mechanical technology (imagined by da Vinci in the 15th century), then we (in the sense of ourselves or of our descendants) will not experience it - except for an insignificantly tiny surviving percentage - because dead people do not experience anything.


You peaked my curiosity and I went to look up da Vinci's bicycle.

Looks like it's not his?

Or search "da vinci bicycle hoax"

Recently, a drawing of a bicycle thought to have originated from the studio of Leonardo da Vinci is now considered a hoax.

This drawing was believed to be by Giacomo Caprotti (c. 1493), a pupil of Leonardo. Only the two circles are originally from the Codex Atlanticus, on the verso of sheet 133.

So it's from a pupil of Leonardo's therefore the master probably had nothing to do with it, right? Anyways he was probably more occupied with designing helicopters...

No you didn't read it all.
The drawing was a complete fake. Drawn with graphite which was not used until after Leonardo's death.
It was estimated the drawing was made late last century.

I enjoyed Kunstler's post-apocalyptic tales, but I think he is wrong on post Peak bikes.

Bikes can be made from wood or bamboo (and often are), rubber tires and metal chains are not required either. If there is a human race, I expect that some human-powered cycles will be rolling. Easy enough to google up images of the home-made wooden bikes in use in Africa today.

If I may be so bold:

"Pedal, Baby, pedal".

You "wooden" get very far on the one in the video! :)

Kunstler is a great thinker in some respects but his feeble grasp of simple basic technology and the mechanical arts, from a hands on pov, makes me retch.

He had his characters doing things likely impossible on one page, given a lack of powered machinery, and failing to do others that were comparatively dirt simple, such as making a basic bicycle.

Then iirc, there were the radio signals that kept popping up intermittently but never lasted long enough to hear anything-at which point I tossed the book into the stove.

It failed to entertain me, and there was nothing in it to enlighten anybody acquainted with the basics of overshoot.

But at least it kept me warm for a few minutes.

By the way-in a world severely depopulated, there would be enough old bicycles around to keep plenty of them cobbled together for a century at least, excepting the tires, which rot of course-but a a serviceable ersatz tire could be made easily from wood covered with leather.

Steel frames and a welder make bike repairs that could go on for a very long time. Some people make their own bikes. People are smart and we all have a creative spark ready to go. After all these years of cubicles, who knows, maybe a broken down global economy will be good for us to rediscover that creativity.

Telecommute from home to work, then you do not even need the extra food calories that bicycling would require ;)


I think your example of Mortgage payments is very good. the wife and I have just paid off our mortgage last week several years ahead of the termination date. I have always though of a house as a place to live and not to make money on. Since then we have had several solicitations from firms willing to make us loans on the house. They have been binned. We are debt free and intend to stay that way.

As I have said before I am an history buff. I have hundreds of books on history a favorite period is the American Civil war, but my favorite is Economic history. I have noticed that it takes about 70 years from when a technology becomes economically viable, I don't mean from when it was discovered, but until it becomes universal and ubiquitous. let me give you a few examples. In 1828 there were the Rainham trials to chose a steam engine for the Manchester Liverpool railway. George Stevenson's Rocket won. It went 640 hours without a breakdown. The railway age had begun, 70 years later the world was criss-crossed by railways they were ubiquitous. Lets try another one. In 1908 the Wright brothers held a trial in Washington for the Ministry of Defense and an exhibition in Le Mans France. It proved the economic viability of the system, 70 years later airplanes were ubiquitous, the same could be said for Television in 1935 the first public broadcast of the coronation of George VI took place, I think you will agree that 70 years later 1995 that television was ubiquitous. Take what example you want and it seems to hold true I am not saying that this is a law but it is certainly a valid observation. I personally think that the same time scale will the same for the transition from FF to renewable energy. In the early 1970s I was living in Denmark when the first oil shock hit. Denmark at that time was 99% dependent on oil a 4% decrease in oil supply increased oil prices 400% Denmark almost went bankrupt nothing new in Denmark by the way it went bankrupt in 1813. It certainly concentrated there minds of the Government especially when you realize that the only raw materials Denmark possessed was a rather infertile country, most of Denmark is nothing more than the tops of Norwegian mountains brought down during the last ice age and a stiff breeze. I think it was in 1978 that Vestas put up its first 50 k/w commercial wind turbine. 30 years latter vestas is still the largest wind turbine manufacture in the world and renewable energy exports make up 11% of Denmark's exports. Whats this got to do will my 70 year rule? Well last year the Government announced a plan to completely get off FF by 2050. I am certain you can do the maths. I personally think that they will get off before. What happens too he rest of us Well I personally think that America has the best chance once it changes direction. Unfortunately America is like a gigantic oil tanker it is so big that it has so much inertia it takes a hell of a long time to stop and change direction but once it does and starts to gain momentum again then things will change very quickly indeed.


Yorkshire Miner

a major element in the US industrial expansion that helped win WWII was the timely discovery of the giant E Texas oil field just years before we were drawn into the war

Putting on Oil lenses does give one a different historical narrative.

Stalin having an oil field manager who sabotaged the oilfields in such a way so the resource was not destroyed. Mr. 5% in Iraq. Various campaigns who's objective was oilfileds. The cutting off of oil to nation-states. The use of oil for ships.

eric - it's also interesing when you read history's footnotes of the modern military efforts to see how something as seemingly benign as ball bearings can effect the outcome of major battles.

I heard a comment somewhere that Caterpillar's domination of the market in the past was in part due to their superior gear metallurgy.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Rockman, good points as usual. But I argue that we do have the money to pay off the old one and go on to the new. Its called wasted effort. I don't suppose anyone would argue that a huge amount of what we do now is just time, money, capital, brains, oil, knowhow and all and sundry, down the rathole.

I just got back from a rare trip to town to get a tractor part. What I saw in front of that store was gobs of lawn mowers! And I don't mean just the $200 kind, i mean the $2000 kind. Can anybody name something more useless-to the future of the planet-than buying a huge mower and mowing a huge lawn? Actually, I can, but so can you and so can anyone.

The things that went into that lawn mower are not one iota different from the things that would go into solar thermal in the desert that would supply me and everybody with all the energy we could ever wisely use. Same materials, same engineering, same everything. And none of it requires any stuff we have to import from China. Nice stuff, rare earths, but we can do without just as we have done without for all recorded time.

We are wallowing in a sea of wasted effort and wasted time and wasted opportunity. As you say, if we had taken advantage of--- well, we sill have that option , and matters could indeed be different.

Just as we switched from fords to tanks right after pearl harbor, we could do the same right now with lawn mowers and solar thermal. They are the same stuff packaged differently, that's all.

Besides, there is an up side to sacrifice that people seem to have forgotten- It makes you feel virtuous. That's more than mowing lawns can do-- I think.

PS. Disclosure, I work on solar thermal things. I am staring one in the face as I speak. I like it a lot. It's much cuter than a lawn mower. And it's making me feel just slightly virtuous.

I'm sorry but you simply don't get it.
The lawn mowers are manufactured and sold because people have jobs and income which allows them to be consumers. If they can afford electricity and liquid fuels, why would they buy solar panels. When the times comes to purchase solar panels because FF's are too expensive, it will already be too late.

Solar panels are available now. Everything required for an alternative energy lifestyle is available now. If there is no money in it, it won't be adopted. Ask the mower retailers or manufactures about growth in their business. Growth now is about cutting costs, raising prices and waiting for the other Joe to become bankrupt, so the shrinking consumer money can continue to be absorbed.

Generally that scenario is playing out across the board for most businesses, including tourism, airlines, motor vehicles, residential and building construction, real-estate, oil industry, medicine and even food.

You can't eat a solar panel. Solar panels will not allow for BAU or a gentle decline. The opportunity window for that closed over fifty years ago. Growth, jobs and cheap FF fuel is what is required for BAU. We began to kiss all of them goodbye at the beginning of this century. Debt has allowed us a little more time and that nearly finished us in 2008.

Debt is still available for items such as vehicles, businesses and real-estate but for solar panels we need government subsidies. When the subsidies go, so will the enthusiasm. While ever there is a buck to be made alternative energy is like moss growing on the shady side of a wall. Subsidies are shading the moss.

We started accruing debt in the 1980s. Debt results from many different Nation states printing money to take more pie from the earth's finite resources. It is nothing more than that. If you are not making debt then Nation X takes more of the pie that you do.

That is what debt is today.

So if a Nation decided not to grow or add to their debt then they get less stuff from the planet.

This is financial warfare, and it is not a domestic policy issue. It is a global financial war basically.

wimbi - maybe I didn't express it clearly. It's not a question of whether we have the capex or not. But rather how we chose to spend what we have available. We switched from Fords to tanks because we chose to and not just because we were capable of doing so. I don't need to tell you since you're in solar: who many folks have turned down a projects that were good solid solar investment just because they "didn't want to". I think sometimes folks read too much into what I say: it's not that I don't think alts are a good idea, that burning more and more coal is bad thing or that global warming won't be a serious consequence. It's just that I don't think we'll invest in alts quick enough and to a significant degree to offset PO in a meaningful manner. And the world will readily burn more coal to replace the loss of oil and ignore the global warming aspects. I'm not saying any of the actions are moral or logical. I'm just saying this is what I expect in the future.

Even if some yet-to-be-imagined source were out there, which, of course, is an "unknown unknown", what about the timeline to implement ?

I ran across this page of timelines while researching for a neighborhood project. While written for kids, the message is still clear.


The timeline from discovery to widespread implementation of electricity, for example, was of the order of hundreds of years.

If we haven't even thought of the solution yet, or if it is still only an idea in someone's basement, when will it likely be widely available ?

Edit : I used to implement new software systems into large companies. Sometimes the timeline could be 2 - 5 years. I can't imagine the timeline for changing entire energy systems.

That line of thinking about how there's "just got to be someone doing something about the problem so all will be fine..." reminds me of one of the last scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Indy: "What about the ark... ?"

Gov't official: "We have top men working on it now."

Indy: "Who ?"

Gov't official: "Top... Men..."

Whenever these mythological replacements for oil are just presented with a "don't worry" wave of the hand I like to think of Indiana Jones leaning in and saying "what ?" or "how ?" or even "who ?"

A cleaner and more efficient form of energy will take over, something not just as good as oil but something much better and cheaper than oil. I have no idea what this might be. Of course no one else does either but science will find it. After all, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.

I heard that guy on CNBC in the early morning hours with the curly hair (sorry, don't recall the name) say that line about the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones (which I know you mentioned to be sarcastic of those that do mention that line). I can't understand how anyone can say that line with a straight face. For one thing stones (and I don't mean coal) do not hold energy (that we can readily use), but oil does. The Stone Age is a historical reference, not a description of the energy they used during that time period, so I fail to grasp its connection with a depleting finite resource we've become all to reliant on. It's somehow suppose to convey the idea that some other source of energy will magically appear so we have nothing to worry about. Oh, really?!

It's somehow suppose to convey the idea that some other source of energy will magically appear so we have nothing to worry about?


A "talking point" line like "Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones" is intended to be a mental monkey wrench implanted into the listener's head (yours) for the purposes of throwing logical thinking off its rails.

It works.

Which is why the PR pundits ply it.


Monkey Wrench: [ i.mage.+]

A "talking point" line like "Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones" is intended to be a mental monkey wrench implanted into the listener's head (yours) for the purposes of throwing logical thinking off its rails.

More accurately, it is a False Analogy fallacy, also known as a "Weak Analogy".

The stone age ended because people invented metal tools. Reasoning by analogy, where is the Bronze Sword to replace the Stone Club (petroleum) we now have?

The Bronze Sword in this case might be the "Mr. Fusion" power pack in the car in "Back to the Future". I don't see that anyone has invented one. Some particularly delusional people may think we have invented one, but I don't agree with them.

The mental monkey wrench is much more of devious device than just that.

As soon as your brain receives the full message:

(1) After all,
(2) the Stone Age didn’t end [did it?]
(5) ran out of stones [which of course we didn't]

it parses it and starts processing all the different parts.

Processing consumes energy. That takes away from your ability to process the next incoming bombshell.

Part number (1) of the above monkey wrench (After all ...) is a time warp tool. It shoves the future into the past and that, as we know in the first place, warps your balance within the space time continuum.

Part number (2) of the above monkey wrench (the Stone Age didn’t end [did it?]) is a truthie-lie. Some grade school teacher taught you that the "Stone Age" existed one time, but now it is over. Except, except that many modern buildings are still built with marble floors, etc. "We" still use stones. It's true and false all in the same instant.

Part number (3) of the above monkey wrench ("because") is another energy sucker. Doing a cause-and-effect analysis sucks your brain dry of energy for analyzing other more important, cause-effect propositions that come later; like the one about the oil age ending because we ran out of oil.

Part number (4) is social kumbaya draw in. You are part of the "we", aren't you?

Part number (5) is a reverse psychology double-negative proposition. You know that "we" did not run out of stones because you have seen some yourself. Stones are everywhere, above and below ground. So clearly it is false. But it makes you re-process that phrase by realizing there is an implied double negative there and the speaker is teasing you by making you realize he said something false in a way that makes you realize it is false and therefore you trust him more because he is flagging you as to what is false and what is true -although he is not. He is tricking you yet again.

As they demonstrated to most people in that recent movie, "Inception" the human mind can barely keep 3 levels stored in its short term memory banks. The above monkey wrench has at least 5 moving parts.

Hi step

Thank you (again).

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to respond to emotional tone, as opposed to content, because it's become apparent to me that certain persons (in quotes) I have occasion to interact with actually have a hugely negative tone - shame/blame/criticize - or, conversely, perhaps - moralistic/superior/disdainful - kind of like that.

It sometimes seems to me, esp. with certain people, that the content is almost completely (or is actually completely) irrelevant.

I wonder about how to focus on the real thing - which are the emotions.

"Gee, it sounds like you feel very..."

I find this extremely challenging.

I wonder about this, because it seems like the only way to actually have anything resembling real communication. Otherwise, one is simply victimized into a stunned and mind-boggled silence. (Which may be the goal, but it's not a goal I want to go along with.)

re: Stones. Very coincidentally - I just had a one-minute exchange with someone who gave this very argument. This person is in the *only* professor in the entire university who's class specifically covers "peak oil."


The human brain is complex and has many intertwined compartments, the emotional/limbic part being just one.

It is impossible to completely separate emotion from neo-cortical activities.

It is also impossible to completely separate reptilian instinct from neo-cortical and socio-emotional cognitions.

When someone injects a mental monkey wrench into the conversation, it is designed to drill in and simultaneously explode within the sub neo-cortical cognition centers of the brain at many levels.

Let's look at another one beyond "After all, the Stone Age .... blah blah":

Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material.

source is here (one of the usual suspects)

The point here is not to knock down the person who said it but rather to analyze the beauty of this monkey wrench.

Yes, it buries the peakist "theory" among the MANY other "Malthusian beliefs".
But that is only layer one of the multi-layered Inceptional mind bomb.

Can you spot the others?

Well I haven't read the article but the quoted passage obviously puts peak oil on the same level as an evangelical sect. Basically, the author insinuates that it's a faith whose zealous followers (poor scientists and 'the laity') cherry-pick data to win converts.

Hi Step,

Thanks for the challenge. Let me see if I can learn from your example above.

1) "Peak oil" is put in category of "Malthusian beliefs" - without discussion of distinctions between peak oil and other "Malthusian beliefs."

2) The term - (and characterization of) - "peak oil" as a "belief" is used rather loosely, although the word "belief" can be used to refer to a reasoned conclusion, it kind of obscures the difference between argument (a set of steps leading to conclusion) and belief that is not based on argument.

3) "Motivated group" - since the motive is not stated, this seems to imply a motive that is other than part of the search for truth. One could interpret "motivated group" in a number of ways. In this context, it seems to imply something unethical or with an agenda that does not have to do with the science.

4) "Scientists and laymen"...heaven forbid that non-scientists should have powers of reasoning and the ability to assess the global oil supply picture. (Sarconal.) Let me put it this way: It seems to imply something fishy about scientists and laymen both "promoting" an idea.

5) Which brings me to the word "promoting," come to think of it.
"Promoting" as opposed to...? Educating? Having a strong desire to educate one's fellow citizens about the impacts of the foreseeable consequences of the current oil supply picture?

6) "Poor analyses of data" - says who? Assumption: the author has the correct analyses of data.

7) "...misinterpretations of technical material..." In both of these uses of the term, there is use of the passive voice: analysis are poor, without saying *who* did the supposedly poor analyses. Likewise, "misinterpretations" - by whom? of what? These lack content and specifics.

Anyway...I feel like I'm missing something. Maybe you can let me know?

Thanks again.

No, you're not missing anything.

Just realize that different cognition centers in the brain are set to work by these multi-layered psycholinguistic elements and that saps the brain of energy and thus of being able to process material that is soon after presented to the reader.

Plus the brain has these self-rewarding pattern recognizing centers.
Have you ever wondered why advertisers love to alliterate (i.e. Pain at the Pump, Hurray for Hollywood, yattah yattah)? It's because pattern recognition unleashes certain reward chemicals in the brain.

So here, in Mr. Lynch's line (who else?) we see a double belongs-to pattern, namely,
(1) PO belongs to the group of many other "Malthusian" beliefs [Check]
(2) Scientists belong to the group of many other "laymen" who don't understand technical stuff [Check]

One good pattern deserves another [Check]

All this happens subliminally, in the split of a second.
You would think it can't and it doesn't.
But it can and it does. [Check]

Hi Ron,

Thanks for reviewing the reviews. Troubling as it is.

re: "Yes, the world economy runs on oil, but if we ran out tomorrow, I believe we would establish an alternative (perhaps multiple alternatives) quickly and efficiently."

The first question for Ms. Winnich is: With what? Will we quickly and efficiently establish an alternative?

The second question is: Would you like to have a chat w. "Gail the Actuary"?

re: Google and Kunstler.

I wonder if someone else might be able to get through to them.
(In addition, I mean...of course.)

NATO has taken symbolic control of all air activity over Libya. However, the Canadian general in charge will not introduce new engagement rules until Thursday or Friday. That leaves UK/French planes 3 more days in which to bomb Gaddafi's home town of Sirte into submission. After that, we face stalemate.

If Sirte falls (unlikely in that timeframe) then the rebels will be able to relieve Misrata and the Gaddafi regime may implode.

Otherwise, we will have to wait for him to be starved out (or rather expelled by his starving supporters).

A bit of a lighter note: Electric Car Fun!

I don't know if any of you are aware of the antics of John Wayland AKA "Plasma Boy". He's been racing his electrified Datsun 1200 (White Zombie) at the Portland International Raceway Drag Strip in Oregon for many years now. This long time "Gearhead" has switched to electric racing and shows what can be done. I used to own a Chevy Sprint that was electrified by the maker of the Motor Controller that John uses (Zilla HV, 348 Volts, 2000 Amps) but I ended up selling it to one of the crew for the KillaCycle Electric motorcycle. He complained that he was the only member of the crew that didn't own an electric car.

White Zombie is a car that now has a 22.7 KWH lithium battery pack and can go 110-120 miles on a charge and yet manages to do the 1/4 mile in 10.5 seconds @ 125 MPH. Check out the text, pictures and videos for a great time!



The car may do 1/4 mile in 10.5 seconds @ 125 MPH OR can go 110-120 miles on a charge but I would absolutely guarantee it won't do both. Just as my diesel car will do 0-60 mpg in 14 seconds OR 83 mpg (freeway, imperial) What it won't do is break the laws of thermodynamics. Or sustain BAU.

No such claim has been made! I'm about as anti-BAU as there is, but I do enjoy seeing what can be done.

22.7 kWh is not that big. The only plausible difference between performance of White Zombie vs. Leafs and Volts is mass. I posted (obsessively) about Golf TDi and drop-job of Mercedes' modern diesel into old 190? The difference is in the mass. Small car used to weigh 600-700 kg, now smallest go over a ton.

CC, just to nitpick here, the only plausible difference is not explicitly the mass, but the power-to mass ratio. So a more powerfull motor(s) will do the job just as well as lower mass - but most dragsters find more power = more fun, so that's what they do.
That controller (348V, 2000A) has a peak power of 696kW(928hp), so we can assume there is a decent sized motor(s) to justify such a controller - much more powerful than a Leaf.

The kWh capacity of the batteries is irrelevant, as long as it is enough for the 10.5 seconds. And 696kW for 10.5s is all of 2.03kWh - so he is carrying 10x the energy he is actually using - clearly the peak power of the batteries is the limiting factor, not their energy density.

A more meaningful description of this car, since it is a dragster would be battery max power of X(a volts x b amps), controller capacity of Y (348*2000A), and motor capacity of Z kW, and finally, a mass of m. The number of kWhs on board is only a factor if he wants to do multiple runs on one charge, and I'm sure he wouldn't.

As for the development of small cars, you have clearly missed the point - you can have all the big car features in your small car!. The fact that it is then overweight/underpowered is so the salesman can talk you into a bigger (=more profitable) model. Small cars are just to get you in the door, so they can talk you into driving out the door in an F-150. And that strategy would never work, right?

Top 10 selling vehicles in Canada, Feb 2011 (from autonorth.ca)
Ford F-Series - 5,508
Dodge Grand Caravan - 4,699
Dodge Ram - 4,352
Hyundai Elantra - 3,569
Ford Escape - 2,796
Honda Civic - 2,784
Honda CR-V - 2,494
Dodge Journey - 2,365
GMC Sierra - 2,246
Chevrolet Silverado - 2,177

Clearly, you have to have a truck for hauling around your beer and hockey gear in this country!

I understand arguments about performance. The fact that he can do a 10.5 sec run is due to power-to-mass ratio But his 120 miles range is due in great part to battery capacity-to-mass ratio, isn't it.

Your list, compared to what I drive, revived my Freudian-based inferiority complex. I could buy a six pack of premium beer for every 100km driven, though, compared to the trucks on your list, ...and not being born here I do not play hockey.

CC -I guess I answered a different question from what you were asking! When you talked about the "performance" - I assumed you meant the acceleration - the similarity in range is indeed most likely applicable to a mass difference - assuming the electrical systems are of similar efficiency. I am all for EV's being smaller and lighter - heavy ones like the Leaf defeat the purpose, in my opinion.

The car(truck) buying patterns in Canada amaze me - not being from this country either I don't play hockey or drive a big truck (I have a small one by necessity, but otherwise have always had Subaru wagons - do anything anywhere, for cheap!).

If the population was mainly rural, it might make sense, it it isn't and it doesn't!

In the dark over oil reserves

Looking into its crystal ball of energy scenarios, Shell breaks down where it thinks we've got to, and where we might be going in a new report called Signals & Signposts. It warns that we face an upcoming "zone of uncertainty" – a frank admission that, really, it hasn't a clue what is going to happen. Then it labels a large block of time between now and 2050 as a "zone of extraordinary opportunity or misery" (Shell's involvement in the Niger delta demonstrates that the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive)...

The Shell report spoke of "volatile transition", and of economic outlooks that range from "severe-yet-sharp" to "deeper-and-longer" and the marvellously catchy, if dated, "Depression 2.0".

There is a four minute video on this issue of Signals & Signposts that explains all this in double talk, for those who understand double talk. ;-)

Ron P.


Very interesting vid. Shell's Signals & Signposts seem to have a reasonable grasp of the situation lately - I wonder how much of it gets fed further up the command chain over there?

So he's basically saying we have 5 years to put some serious policies in place?

re: "...a frank admission it hasn't a clue what's going to happen..."

Oh, they have a clue, all right.

They just want to hide it in the uncertainty window.

Some kind of ethical two-step.


you being an expert at deciphering double talk I am sure you will enjoy this piece of polished verbal bull****.


Oil price down a bit today. What is the thinking of the day? Is it that the Libyan rebels are striking a deal to export some oil, or is it that the stock market is hot today, so some "speculators" are moving money to the other game?

All commodities pulling back this morning:

Crude Oil 103.71 - 1.60%
Natural Gas 4.39 - 0.34%
Gasoline 3.02 - 0.90%
Heating Oil 3.03 - 0.93%
Gold 1416.62 - 0.92%
Silver 36.93 - 1.10%
Copper 4.36 - 1.16%

Dollar up a bit vs. AUD, CAD, Eur

Just an educated (or maybe not so educated) guess, but I think the CW is that the Rebels control most of the oil infrastructure now, and we can start buying from them as soon as they get their act together. There is also (I think) a feeling Q's government will collapse shortly. Seems his miltary is fleeing towards Tripoli, as they believe (probably correctly) that fleeing forces won't be bombed.

I am not sure if these Stanford reports about the feasibility of providing all global energy supply from renewable sources have previously been on Drum Beat.
Short answer, after much research, is that a renewable-powered planet is indeed feasible, with predicted eventual costs very similar to current fossil fuel costs.

I expect the nuclear proponents to quickly respond with the standard "There is no alternative to nuclear power", but this research does not support that over-used talking point.

This research would also have a been a good addition to "Fake Fire Brigade" series, since their conclusion is that the Fire Brigade is not "Fake" at all.

Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I:
Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure,
and materials

Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II:
Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies

Thanks for the links, TV. From the Abstract:

We estimate that 3,800,000 5 MW windturbines, 49,000 concentrated solarplants, 40,000 300 MW solar PV powerplants, 1.7 billion 3kW rooftop PV systems, 5350 100 MW geothermal powerplants, 270 new 1300 MW hydroelectric powerplants, 720,0000 75MW wave devices, and 490,000 1MW tidal turbines can power a 2030 WWS world that uses electricity and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes.

Such a WWS infrastructure reduces world power demand by 30% and requires only 0.41% and 0.59% more of the world’s land for footprint and spacing, respectively. We suggest producing all new energy with WWS by 2030 and replacing the pre-existing energy by 2050. Barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic. [some formatting errors corrected]

Still reading...

I wonder where they get "Such a WWS infrastructure reduces world power demand by 30% and requires only 0.41%"? Is that more efficiency? What about the larger population that could be expected by then? We'd only have 20 years to come up with all that stuff, as China's population ages and resource wars continue. ?

Ghug - Thanks for doing the reading. Let me know when you find their proof that the economics of such an expansion won't be a problem. I'm very curious what they expect it to cost and who will pay.

I haven't found any specifics yet, Rock. Feed-in tariffs and incentives are mentioned, and they compare it to WWII, the Moon Shot, and building the Interstate System:

Of course, the complete transformation of the energy sector would not be the first large-scale project undertaken in US or world history. During World War II, the US transformed motor vehicle
production facilities to produce over 300,000 aircraft, and the rest
of the world was able to produce an additional 486,000 aircraft
WII.shtml). In the US, production increased from about 2000 units
in 1939 to almost 100,000 units in 1944. In 1956, the US began work
on the Interstate Highway System, which now extends for 47,000
miles and is considered one of the largest public works project in
history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System).
The iconic Apollo Program, widely considered one of the greatest
engineering and technological accomplishments ever, put a man on
the moon in less than 10 years. Although these projects obviously
differ in important economic, political, and technical ways from the
project we discuss, they do suggest that the large scale of a
complete transformation of the energy system is not, in itself, an
insurmountable barrier.

They repeat that the biggest problem will be the social one of talking people into paying for it (well, duh!). If we (they, them) can convince billions of people that it is in their best interest to fund a World War, an Interstate System, and an Apollo Program all at the same time, over the next 20-40 years, this could be doable, though we're having a tough time even getting our old Interstate bridges fixed these days :-/ Perhaps the fine folks on Wall St. can dream up some kind of 'Global Renewable Energy Bond' or 'Energy Default Swap'. We'll They'll all be rich[er]!

Ghung - As I just responded to another thread these folks seem to be unaware of how the US managed that great expansion: the discovery of the great E. Texas Oil Field just before our entry into WWII. It was the Ghawar of its day. Likewise our great industrial expansion of the 50's was fueled by all the giant oil discoveries in Texas, La and CA. Now all we need is that new giant source of cheap energy to fuel this next great industrial expansion. OK...I'm waiting....I'm still waiting.

These plans always look great on paper. Until you start putting realistic capex/time frames to the story. Then not so much.

And again I'm not saying alts won't help. I just doubt our ability to be able to afford them at a significant volume in a timely manner.

I have to say that I admire these folks' hard work and that it's important that someone has actually (attempted) to quantify what will be involved in a full change-out to renewables. And I can understand a bit of hand waving and wishful thinking in regard to actually accomplishing this, especially from a socio-economic standpoint; no point in incorporating Chicken Little into such a team. That said, I'll be surprized if the global economy makes it through the next year or two without another meltdown. Even the PTB seems to be acknowledging this:

Last week on his website JSMineset.com , Mr. Sinclair outlined “why” we are already way over the edge right now and why gold is going much higher in price. Here are a few of his reasons that I picked out from his bullet pointed post: “You must realize that the economic and political damage is already done. You must realize that the mountain of OTC derivative paper is not going away. . . . You must realize that this means the mountain of OTC derivative weapons of mass financial destruction can only grow. . . .You must realize that it is not whether or not QE will continue, it is what it already has done to the Western economies that much higher gold prices will reflect. . . .You must realize the monumental change in the Middle East is NOT positive for the West in any manner, shape or form. . . . You must realize that it is the currency that breaks, not the country.”

This is not some far-fetched assessment of the U.S. economy because at least one Fed banker is also sounding alarm bells. CNBC reported last week, ‘“The United States is on a fiscal path towards insolvency and policymakers are at a ‘tipping point,’ a Federal Reserve official said on Tuesday. If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when,’ Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt.” CNBC Story Here

There is absolutely no way a top Federal Reserve banker says this without it being common knowledge in his circle of power–no way. This tells me the Fed realizes the economy is much worse than what anyone would admit.

While there is a long list of reasons why I don't think the Stanford plan will come to pass on the scale that they propose, CapEx is tops. No money, no new toys.

....After saying all that, folks are chipping away at the problem: a megawatt of PV going online in my area to compliment nearby TVA dams.

Speaking of wich; what happened to that "23 days to debt ceiling" thing everyone was speaking about one Tunisian war and one Japanese tsunami ago?

The bean counters decided they have 'til ~ May 31. What's the rush :-/

Ghung. Maybe you will respond when nobody else did to my remark about waste.

How about saying-just take the money we are putting out right now away from the old toys and put it on the new stuff we really need- solar, wind, etc as discussed in the Stanford report?

Rock says-where is the money. It seems bloody obvious to me that it is where we don't need it- in stupid useless things and activities that don't even make their perpetrators happy for more than a few seconds.

Of course this implies that we can operate together like a team, like we do to win a football game or a war. So maybe we can't do that, and so we are screwed. Ok, Nature, your try on H sapiens was a flop. Better luck on the next try.

"How about saying-just take the money we are putting out right now away from the old toys and put it on the new stuff we really need..."

I don't know,,,that's what I did, starting about 15 years ago. It could be that society is still trying to pay for the old stuff while funding a little new stuff.

"Ok, Nature, your try on H sapiens was a flop."

Actually, Nature and evolution, in the case of H. Sapiens, hit one out of the park. We are victims of our own success.

Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you're the Prodigal Son; you're quite a prize!

Batty: I've done... questionable things.

Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.

'Victims of our own success'

It's right back to Yogi Berra, every time!
"Nobody goes there any more, too crowded!"

I'm with Wimbi, and don't buy the 'But where will the money come from?' complaint.

When He and You ask if 'We'll pull together and work as a team?' .. of course, and even as we see in this TOD subset of the human race, Some will, Some won't.

Some various forms of selection will see some of us succeed, and others not. I doubt it'll be All or Nothing, and we're less outrunning the Lion, than we are in a race against our fellow Gazelles. But watch the REAL gazelles, they run in clusters.. they're not entirely in contest, Every Impala for Himself, are they? They know that someone is about to become lunch, but they also know that the team effort is their best bet, as well.

Tag, you're it- It's a good day to die!

Thanks. folks, for your comments. We differ only in definition of success:

Victims of our own success , in my book, is a flop.

Look up Fermi's paradox - where is everybody? Answer, they killed themselves off with their successes. Sorry 'bout that: try again.

Gazelles run on solar energy, an annual allotment. Always have. They can't import more food from another part of the planet, or eat 100 million year old grass. The fit move on while the weak fall to the Lion. Their population reflects this. Overshoot is temporary, as it will be for us.

Wow! Is that all? Only 3,800,000 of the 5 MW wind turbines? Gee, at $5 Million per, that is only... my calculator won;t display the answer! I think it is about $1,900,000,000,000,000. Which is almost two quadrillion dollars US.

Anyone want to do the calculations on the 49K solar plants, 40,000 MW solar PV plants, 1.3 Billion 3kW rooftop PVs, etc, etc., etc???????
But, hey, no problem. We got technology, Dudes!


God Help Us!


Well... there is one way to envisage the costs being covered and that's if renewables ever became cheaper per unit than FFs. Then nothing would stop them taking off and the investment would be made by every person on the planet.

They might cost $5 million now but that won't necessarily be the case in the future. Like Bill Gross says in my link down-thread re: microprocessors - "...even 10 years ago it cost $5,000 per mirror and you couldn't have done it but today it costs $2 (per mirror)"

Microprocessors don't need tons of concrete each. The problem is that the infrastructure to use current energy already exists. even if infrastructure for future renewables was fairly cheap, people won't switch until fossil fuels become unaffordable, once that point is reached, the fuel to build the renewables will cost a lot more. Human nature gets us every time.

Well, the solar thermal turbines that employ the microprocessors don't exactly require megatons of concrete each either.

The difference between building infrastructure that processes fossil fuels and infrastructure that runs off renewables is that with renewables you don't need to keep buying expensive fuel to feed them. Once the overheads are paid off they merely require maintenance - so this should be factored into any cost analysis and whether humans will decide to switch before FFs become exorbitant (i.e. If I fork out $x now, I'll save $2x in a year's time).

I like all of the ideas, I just don't believe microprocessor speed changes over time have anything to do with renewable energy scalability.

Humans have never been really good at paying now for benefits later. I get it, but the people buying new cars on credit obviously can't figure it out. Unfortunately they vote.If the west has trouble with these concepts, people living on a dollar or two a day are going to have more trouble with them.

Yes.. I can't say I have the greatest amount of faith in people planning for the future, but never say never!

Back to the microprocessor point though, if you watch the 7 min vid that I posted down-thread it demonstrates how the decreasing price of microprocessors directly correlates to an increasing efficiency of a solar thermal turbine plant - so in that respect it has a lot to do with renewable energy scalability.

Sounds to me like the guy is comparing apples to onions. Solar thermal is limited by the theoretical efficiency, there are equations for it, it can't just keep on improving. It also requires a proper site, and for some implementations lots and lots of water. And then there is the wiring that nobody wants to grant permission for.

Well, to be fair it doesn't really need to keep on improving much. He says they are within striking distance of the price per unit of FFs as of today. It just needs to hold steady until the price of FFs exceeds it.

For the site issue the whole point of eSolar's design is that it doesn't require a hugely complex, costly mounting platform - it can be erected using hand-held tools and a forklift.

For the water issue - air can be used as an alternative coolant.

Wiring? Hmm, I'm sure that could be surmounted if the price was right. What specific issue do you mean with regards to wiring?

Wiring as in transmission lines from places that are way too hot and sunny and isolated to places people might actually live. Nobody wants the big ugly electric lines. I still think you'd need water for solar thermal, air wouldn't seem adequate for serious cooling.

Ah yes, a bit of a political problem this.

Actually I was letting my mind wander on this subject last night. I wonder if it would be technically possible to transport the energy in the form of compressed canisters of air - they could be sent via electric vehicles. A bit like the scream canisters in Monsters Inc!

Or perhaps large canisters that could then be reattached to turbines nearer to the point where the power is required.

Ah, what it is to dream!

I just don't believe [that] microprocessor speed/[size] has anything to do with [scalability of] renewable energy


It does not.

People who compare microelectronics to other industries are simply part of a cargo cult that sees everything as magic and doesn't understand the details of the technologies.

For more info, see Moore's Law misapplied

That's not true.

The scalability of renewables may not follow Moore's Law directly, but that doesn't mean that advances in, for example, microprocessors can't yet increase the efficiency of current renewables and hence increase their scalability!

Bill Gross has just proven that it can! His solar towers are ~3 times more efficient than current models, what more proof do you need?

The fact is that Moore's Law only applies to miniaturized electronic equipment, where the number of transistors will double on a chip about every 18 months.

If you are not building miniaturized electronic equipment, and you are not putting transistors on chips, then Moore's Law does not apply.

To apply it to things like photovoltaics is an example of a false analogy. Photovoltaics don't involve increasing power by putting smaller and smaller transistors on the same size chip, so Moore's Law is inoperative in that context.

There is a great deal of Wishful Thinking involved in many cases where people invoke Moore's Law to explain how obvious and persistent problems will go away in the near future, even in the absence of a known solution to them.

I agree - that's what I was trying to explain in my post above.

But the point is the advances in renewable efficiency don't have to follow Moore's Law - they just need to benefit to some small amount indirectly from technology that has followed Moore's Law.

So, like I linked above, the fact that the microprocessors have increased the efficiency of the solar towers by a factor of 3 is very beneficial in terms of scalability. It doesn't mean that they will continue to increase the efficiency from this point on but that they have already increased scalability in comparison to previous versions - you can't argue with that!

Perhaps advances in other areas will finally bring the price just below that of FFs - which will then precipitate a mass take up of renewables. It doesn't mean we expect the price to drop in direct proportion to Moore's Law every 18 months!

I watched your video some time ago. I don't see how the newer system would have "increased the efficiency of the solar towers by a factor of 3". There's a hard limit in efficiency, that is, it's impossible to produce more energy than that available from the sunlight. I suspect that the earlier solar tower systems exhibited rather large collection efficiency, but that the steam power cycle conversion limited overall efficiency. For starters, the eSolar module you reference produces .25 Mw per acre at maximum output. The PS10 heliostat surface area is 18.5 acres and delivers 55 Mw Thermal energy (at 92% collection efficiency) to run the steam cycle, giving an maximum output of 11 Mw electric. I think you have missed the difference between total area of the plant and the area of land covered by the collectors, which is likely to be much less than 150 acres...

E. Swanson

Yes, you're right, I specifically highlighted the area of the plant and not the area of the mirrors, but that's they key figure - you can't capture more sunlight than that which falls on a near-as-dammit 2D area of the earth's surface. So if the eSolar is producing 5MW out of 20 acres and the PS10 is producing 11MW out of 150 then that's the bottom line, surely?

If you covered 150 acres with eSolar plants then you would get 37.5MW output which is roughly 3 times more efficient use of the land than the PS10.

It may not all be down to microprocessors - but I'm not trying to argue that. I'm saying that the microprocessors helped in increasing efficiency, in addition to whatever methods they've used.

Also if you look at some aerial shots of the PS10 you can see there a lot more gaps between the mirrors than with the eSolar - a not terribly efficient use of land.


eSolar Sierra SunTower

You can immediately see the scale difference by comparing the road on the right on the eSolar pic with the roads in the PS10 pic. In addition the Sierra SunTowers are 65m tall, half the height of the PS10's 115m. So I'd say there's every chance that it could be 3 times as efficient.

Some further high res images of the PS10 and eSolar for scale comparison:

http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/images/ps10_ps20_aerial.jpg (PS10 is the closest one, the other is PS20)

Your photos show the reason that eSolar can claim that they produce such a large output per acre. That's because they have too many mirrors covering most of the land area. This gives a larger maximum output at summer solar noon, but results in less output at times away from solar noon, since the mirrors will shade each other. Having too many mirrors puts a strain on the system as it produces the need to cope with that sharp peak in input, thus all the rest of the system must be designed to accept the resulting high output. The rest of the day, that excess capacity is rather useless. Worse, in winter the sun is going to be lower in the sky, so close spacing is even less useful then. Far better to spread the heliostats further apart and provide a more nearly constant output from early morning to late afternoon. I think eSolar is giving out another typical Silicon Valley dose of techno-hype. The ultimate metric is always the same: How much is the cost per KwHr over the lifetime of the plant?

E. Swanson


Having finally got to where you came up with your "improved efficiency by the factor of 3, I can see where you have gone off track here.
The fact that eSolar use 1/3 the land per MW is, potentially, an improvement over PS10, but I think it is incorrect to say 3x more efficient. You can say 3x more *land* efficient.

But availability of sunny land is not, and never has been the limiting factor for solar - there is plenty of sunny, often desert, land on every continent on earth.

The problem is cost. Even if the project uses zero land, that is no help if the power equipment is expensive, or inefficent, or needs lots of labour, etc.

Solar power projects are all about cost efficiency - $/kW, and kWh produced per kW (capacity factor).
So, if e-solar have made theirs 3x more *cost* efficient, they have a world beater. If they have, essentially, the same system as PS10, just in a smaller footprint, well, that is an advantage, but not a great one.

It is the equivalent of making a steam locomotive that is 1/3 as long as a normal one by changing the design of the coal/water tender - yes, it takes up 1/3 as much track length, and has less own weight to carry, but there has been no improvement in the thermodynamics, or even cost, of the engine - and that is the critical part.

Desert land is cheap, even mirrors are cheap - it is the steam system that is expensive. And all this expensive stuff only runs 25% of the time. And, to date, any of the storage systems tried, have only reduced the cost efficiency, not improved it.

An alternative approach, is to take your solar collectors (the cheap part) to an existing steam turbine (the expensive part) and supply it with steam. There are many (all) coal fired power stations that have steam turbines - find one in a sunny locale, and build there. Supply steam, and it means less coal burned per MW out put, like this pilot plant in Australia (from Power Engineering, Nov 2010);

"Areva Solar has demonstrated this system with a 9 MWt/3 MWe pilot project at the Liddell Power Station in New South Wales, Australia. This was among the first solar/coal-fired booster project in the world and it employed an earlier version of the Areva CLFR technology, which had a lower peak power rating. Two SSGs are interconnected to the top feedwater heater of one of the four 500 MWe units at that station. These SSGs have delivered steam to the power plant since April 2008."

So, find some other coal fired plants in sunny places, like Arizona, India, Spain etc.

Why build from scratch when you can use existing stuff?

It is not as sexy as a stand alone plant, but these are not meant to be tourist attractions. If co-locating means the difference between getting built and not, then that is the way to go. And the smaller footprint of an e-solar layout may be much more of an advantage there, than in the middle of a desert.

Yes, from yours and Black Dog's posts I can see I'm going to have to do some more digging if I'm to convince anyone!

P.s. for the record - land efficiency is likely to be important for efficiency purposes if mass deployments are to be realised. And I did already point out that the ease of manufacture, the cheapness of the materials and the simplicity of erection of the eSolar are some of its inherent advantages over the larger arrays - hence a saving on efficiency there.

But fear not! I will crunch the numbers and report back...

Also - there's no reason why the eSolar process couldn't be applied to the coal turbines like you said - I don't understand how that's a valid argument against the increasing efficiency gained by using microprocessors in the process of creating the heliostat?

Edit: Ok, so perhaps I have to admit defeat. I don't think it's likely that I can find figures for all the aspects of the construction process.

You're right - the bottom line would be the cost per energy unit. It might be telling that I can't find a trace of how much that might be for the Sierra Suntower, no matter how hard I look. Will keep looking.

For what it's worth the PS10 is around 38 $ cents per kWh - obviously hugely high compared to FF. Bill Gross said that their tower was within striking distance of FFs, whatever that means. So it could still be possible that the unit tariff is 3 times less. Plus the eSolar tower was constructed in under a year whereas the PS10 took 4 years.

But, I need to withhold judgement until I can find some reliable cost figures.

Edit 2 - Ok, to summarise: I admit that I initially pulled the 3 times more efficient figure out of my proverbial and then fell into the trap of trying to justify it. It's certainly 3 times more land-efficient as shown above. The actual process of converting radiation into electricity seems to be on par with the PS10. Although you could argue that the radiation that falls between the mirrors of PS10 is 'lost' unless you especially value the grass that grows there. But taking into account the current abundance of desert land then this is not especially helpful.
However I do think that eSolar is likely to win out in terms of manufacturing and implementation.

Anyhoo, my original point was that there are still techniques that can be applied that will reduce the costs of renewables - at the manufacturing stage, construction stage etc. Technology will aid this (as in the microprocessors meaning that the small mirrors can be manufactured using standard factory equipment). The other point is that the advances in efficiency don't need to follow Moore's Law (although they can benefit from it), they just need to get below FF price - that's the ultimate goal.

i - I still don;t think land efficiency is that big a deal - desert land is about the cheapest you can get (except maybe around Chernobyl and Fukushima). if the land is valuable, it is because it can be used for some other purpose - in which case it should.

As for the heliostats and microprocessors - the basis for the original claim of 3x, I just don't think microp's are that big a deal - it is possible to do perfect mechanical 2-axis tracking, no electronics required.

When talking efficiency of anything it helps to remember just what efficiency is - the best defintion I have ever seen is;

efficiency = [what you get]/[what you pay for]

Most people think just output/input, but I like the above better. When you say simply efficiency, it normally means the num and denom are the same commodity. So for energy efficiency,this becomes product energy/energy input. But in the special cases of solar (and wind, and hydro) , the actual energy is "free", so, really the efficiency is meaningless in business terms.
Looking at the other factors of production (energy, land, labour, management and capital), the solar plant is pretty efficient in terms of output per unit input for all except capital - where it is terrible.

So, to get any company to invest capital in solar, you need to improve the
return on capital - everything else, especially the energy efficiency (output/solar energy input) is academic.

Solid oxide fuel cells are the most energy efficient heat conversion devices made>60%, but their return on capital is less than 1/20th of a CCGT using the same fuel, and about 5% less efficient.

It's *all* about ROI - EROI is only for bragging rights between us engineers.

By the way, for an interesting low tech approach on a heliostat, check this link out. This one company built the heliostat, the collector AND the steam engine, no microprocessors needed. the 30 second video shows how they optimise the heliostats. $/kW probably an order of magnitude LESS than e-solar or ps10 - pretty land efficient too.


Thanks Paul, I now agree that the actual process of using the microprocessors is no more efficient than that used in PS10. The only difference is in the land area used and perhaps the ease of manufacturing the components.

I don't know what the ROI is because eSolar deliberately haven't released the figures. Perhaps they will do in the future.

But I'm not particularly an eSolar advocate - they were just one step up from PS10 so piqued my interest.

Thanks for the Tiny Tech link - very interesting. Now I have to start comparisons all over again! ;-)

I doubt that eSolar is going to turn out to be a "step up" compared to PS10. Here's some other problems, which amplifies what Paul Nash referred to. First, the eSolar mirrors are so close together that cleaning them will be difficult. That's because the support structure for the mirrors makes it difficult to get to the mirrors. For similar reasons, repairing the mirror controls will be difficult and with many more of them to fail, that will be a big problem. Both of the eSolar photos you presented show that there is a considerable fraction of non-functional mirror controls. In the first photo, the dead mirrors look like dead pixels on a LCD screen. In the second, zoom in on the base of the tower and look at the mirrors just beyond and you will see several which are obviously out of position. The cost of maintaining the mirror field may be the largest labor cost and we won't know until some years have past whether this idea is too expensive, will we?

E. Swanson

I don't know what the ROI is because eSolar deliberately haven't released the figures.
That's really all you need to know - if the ROI was good enough (i.e. profitable sans subsidy) , it would be the first thing they mention. Instead they mention everything BUT. Would you invest in company that markets like that?

As for the mirror field, haven;t we got 30+years of experience playing with that? Solar One was built in 1981. There have been numerous others built since then, some closed, come operating, but surely there must be a good base of information on mirror maintenance from Solar One, SEGS, Spain, etc.

I think the problem is not a lack of data/experience, but that it all points in the same direction - too expensive.

All these new ideas are, of course, trying new things to be cheaper, but 30 yrs of trying new things has led to 30 yrs of assorted pilot projects, and not one standardised, off the shelf commercial design (though that hasn't stopped the nuke industry). Doesn't mean there might not be a breakthrough, but all the best ideas have already been tried, and now we are trying the lesser ones -fiddling with microprocessors doesn't help if the mirrors are scratched from dust, or the turbine is so expensive you can never pay it off, etc.

Incidentally the closest we get to a standardised design is this offering from Siemens , and they have abandoned the heliostat/power tower altogether, and use parabolic troughs.

I like the coal station co-location approach of taking the ideas we already have, and finding different ways/places where they can work to make them work. There is less and less interest in development, it's time for implementation - or cancellation.

For any future development, I would place my bets with Siemens rather than the independents - they know that ROI is what it is all about. I don't think they are there yet (good enough ROI), but if they can't do it, I don't think the independents can, at least for industrial scale systems.

The Siemens design appears similar to other concepts, such as the system which was built by LUZ in the 1980's. As I recall, Luz went broke...

E. Swanson

Moore's Law only applies to miniaturized electronic equipment

RMG, right you are.

I wouldn't say "only" however. More correctly it applies to miniaturize-able things that can be miniaturized by photolithography and they can keep working, and working better at miniaturized size. Another area might be miniaturized sensors (accelerometers, etc.)

I'm a Silicon Valley guy, so don't get me started on Moore's Law. There are hundreds of technologies that came together in a "just right" Goldilocks way to make Silicon Valley what it used to be: photolithography, etch chemistries, barrier chemistries, metallurgy, electronic designs, etc. To the outside it looks like magic. But internally, it is hard hard work and attention to every tiny detail.

People who don't know any better look at the thing from a Cargo Culture point of view and worship Gordon Moore's "observation" as if it were some scientific mantra. It's not.

But then that get us off course from the main arguments.

Solar energy comes in on just the good days at barely 1kWatt/square meter.
You can't miniaturize that.

The wind comes in at whatever energy density per square area it comes in at.
You can't miniaturize that.

That's the real point.

Note that even small details of the unique chemical and physical properties of silicon itself, such as having a solid oxide with nearly the right physical and electrical properties, contribute to the Goldilocks effect. There are reasons why it's not called, say, Germanium Valley, Silicon Carbide Valley, Gallium Nitride Valley, or maybe more to the point here, Fairy Dust Valley. (Though I think an SF writer or two speculated in the 1950s along the lines of germanium becoming valuable enough to serve as a sort of currency, extrapolating from it being somewhat rare and yet, at the time, used in increasing bulk quantities for transistors and diodes.)


+5 Bingo!

(I have personally met some of the pioneers of the silicon revolution. One of them noted: Very few people understand what a miracle material silicon is, not only does it form an excellent insulative oxide, but that oxide adheres well with aluminum. How often does Mother Nature provide us with an all-in-one material like that?)

Bill Gross ... proven ... solar

Is this the same Bill Gross who was gonna ship a 250 watt solar stirling cycle engine for about a $250 cost last decade?

The same one who was gonna follow in the footsteps of Midway with concentrated solar PV?

I wonder what his next non-shipping product will be.

Well, if at first you don't succeed... ;-)

To be fair I think they already have buyers in China and India.


And India has started construction so the product has already shipped..

'Bout time he has a deliverable.

VS making money playing with others money in the bond market.

I think the $5m for a 5MW already gives a very generous allowance for tech driven cost reduction. I can believe PV might still have that sort of cost reduction factor coming soon, but as you state, wind is mainly large scale construction, and I can't imagine any way that gets cheaper (except maybe a huge army of slave-robots).

Okay, so they go down from $5M US to $2K US? You think they can do that with this:


In our dreams.

Well, fine. Let's say it is possible. Of course we can get those costs down to .04% of what it costs today. Those rare metals are getting cheaper every day. In that case I guess it only takes $3.6T US, for the wind part. Anyone figure the rest of it? Don't forget that technology will drop the cost by 250000 percent.


Well, if technology drops the cost by even a mere 200 percent, then the cost becomes negative and LOL, the whole works becomes magically self-sustaining. At 250000 percent it should be miraculous. :-O

Better check your calculator.

3.8^6 x $5^6 = 19^12 = $19,000,000,000,000 = $19 Trillion

Still a big number, but that's for the entire world. Another thing to remember is that within 20 years, almost half the presently installed electric generating capacity must be replaced due to age anyway...

E. Swanson

Two very valid points.

Plus once installed, by definition, renewables do not require expensive fuel - the only remaining costs will be maintenance.

Afraid not. There will be repair and replacement to consider. Additionally these systems will have to produce enough excess energy above what they deliver to the consuming economy to provide for that maintenance, repair, and replacement (not just of the wind turbines or solar cells, but the entire energy infrastructure).

I find it curious that the authors, after analyzing material resources, and with a few (very subtle but important) caveats conclude that we got enough to do what they propose, forgot to ask what the energy requirements would be to build out this infrastructure in the first place. Somehow that seems to get conveniently left out of all of these grand schemes.

Well that's precisely what I am alluding to by 'maintenance' - repair and replacement.

But we already have to do that for non-renewable energy infrastructure so the point that the renewables don't require an expensive continual external input of fuel to run still stands.

Your belief still stands. That isn't the same as showing how this is actually doable and sustainable. You are right that current energy systems also require "maintenance" but that is one of the reasons why EROI is declining in conventional energy systems. Renewables would be sustainable if and only if they can (collectively) supply all of the energy needs of society plus the energy needed for what you called maintenance (BTW that includes all of the capital formation energy to supply the plants that make any piece of equipment that is incorporated into or is used to produce the energy capture capital equipment - you have to follow the supply chain all the way back to raw (or recycled) materials AND labor components as well, e.g. food). And they need to be scaled up at a pretty swift rate to avoid substantial pain and possible loss of leverage before FFs become uneconomic.

Note that I am not claiming it is impossible, though I think the preliminary numbers suggest it is not close. I am claiming that no one has yet demonstrated it is possible. And until that can be done, it remains in the realm of speculation and wishes.

Yes, I agree - it is a bit touch and go.

I used to be in the 'impossible' camp but the more I watch things develop the more optimistic I'm becoming. I didn't believe that it would be possible to implement things on the scale required but now having seen the Chinese initiate a 66 mile2 alternative energy plant I'm starting to believe that the interest/investment may be there.

After all if the price per unit does ever approach FFs then the take up rate could be dramatic.

Correct. Sorry.

And, might I add, some of the statistics in the parent post were wrong - they used cost as numbers of, omitted such things as the number 300 before MW in needing 49000 300 MW solar PV plants, etc. The real story appears here:


And it shows how daunting, to say nothing of near impossible, is the task before us!


More like 19 trillion, which is still a big wad.


No problem. Just use some of the 75 trillion dollars LimeWire have been sued for (more than the total amount of all records ever sold in the world in history of recorded music), and we can buy all wind mills we want. Could also be used to pay off all US debts and the national debts of a few mayor industrial countires as well.

Print the money. Get 'er done. Math is for pessimists. LOL


That might have been the funniest post I've ever seen on TOD. Which is saying something!


Thanks sgage. hahaha I was just about to my wits end. My computer died before my lecture today. So much for technology. I was grumpy and cynical. I used chalk and ground it out old-school, like Socrates.

I think actually we have printing all that money all along to run our mega-energy monster.

I feel your pain - I've had my computer die on me (or had a power failure) just as I was getting ready to print out my lecture notes for a class. But I am really good at faking it at the whiteboard. I have rarely been accused at being at a loss for words - quite the opposite... :-)

Last Saturday, I picked up a computer from the junk pile at the dump center. I put another hard drive in it, but couldn't get it to load Win XP. I put another recycled drive in it and reloaded XP and now it appears to be working. Great, I've got another backup machine, just in case one of the other 5 dies. It's amazing what a little work with an air gun can to to fix a computer...

E. Swanson


I hear ya. My stoopid computer is a tablet, allowing me to write on the screen, since I teach PChem, and I write continuous equations. So the used market is tight for these guys.

BUT on the bright side. I fixed her up and she works again.

I just needed time to RTFM.

"Sometimes the pressure sensitive driver board needs to be reset. SImply hold down the modbook button to reset the power on this board."


I use http://www.goyus.com to backup all my PCs for just $5 per month. When my laptop crashed 3 months ago it was trivial to recover all my files.

www.energyadvocate.com/sokal.pdf is a humorous and serious rebuttal of the idea of a billion PV panels, millions of turbines etc.

How many cars are there in the world?

How many bicycles? Radios?

A billion PV panels is not even impractical, it's just not a priority right now.

Just looked at the abstract, but you might be overselling - "Such a WWS infrastructure reduces world power demand by 30%"

One has to wonder how "demand" gets reduced by 30% as a result of reduced supply. Yes there is the old economists' saw that demand always equals supply, the question is the price. But in the real world, a decline in "demand" would appear to be a euphemism for a decline in our ability to produce energy. And what does this say about global per capita energy consumption given continued demands by the have nots to join the haves in their consumption level AND the 1.5 billion extra people that will be joining us by 2030?

Since I work in building energy efficiency, reducing energy demand by 30% does not seem so unlikely to me, I see projects that reduce energy demand and consumption by more than 30% very frequently. And almost always, reducing energy use is cheaper than providing new energy supply.

But the logistical, political, and policy barriers to wide-spread implementation of energy efficiency are huge. So while I believe that reducing energy demand by 30% is completely practical from an economic and technical point of view, I am not at all optimistic that such implementation will actually occur.

Yes, and the authors highlight right in their abstract that the limitations to implementing the alternative system they describe are political and social. Got to give them credit for that.

They do state in their "technical findings" that the 30% reduction in demand is due to the "efficiency of electricity compared with internal combustion." (I'll leave it to the engineers to weigh in on that).

Still doesn't answer increased demand from the developing world AND population growth. Seems like those would have been obvious parameters to include.

I have to admit, I'm also not a fan of the idea of creating 270 new mega dams for hydroelectric. Yes, the energy production is clean, but the damage to the watershed is horrific.

The 30% figure is a result of the change in what is measured. With current fossil fuels we measure the gross energy input, ie.. the caloric value of the coal, oil, and gas. Of the 480 exajoules of gross energy consumed each year, about 60% ends up as waste heat, mostly through electrical plant cooling towers and vehicle tailpipes. With renewables, we only count the net electricity produced, not the 'waste heat' which was previously reflected or re-radiated anyway. Actually, 30% sounds conservative, and probably doesn't account for the efficiency opportunities in metallurgy and manufacturing afforded by all-electric energy inputs.

I would agree that burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is fairly inefficient as roughly 60% of the energy is just waste heat. That might be the end of the discussion for those living in Southern California, but those of us living in colder regions are utilizing a lot of fossil fuels for home heating. A recent model high efficiency gas furnace should be able to extract 95% of the energy content into usable heat. Better still would be using co-generation to generate high value electricity with the waste heat used for building heat. Of course, natural gas supplies are not going to last forever so at some point we will need to switch to some form of electric heat. Electric resistive heat is already far more expensive than natural gas heat and the cost of electricity can only go up. Electric geo-thermal is more energy efficient but the installation cost is far higher than a gas furnace. The only way to heat a home with electricity at reasonable cost would be to have R-2000 standard insulation. This is a problem for older houses, especially ours which has a sloped roof (no attic and therefore no easy way to increase the amount of roof insulation). What I would have to do is start tearing out the ceiling and outer wall drywall, add a second stud frame to increase the depth available for insulation, install insulation and new drywall. It would be an immense amount of work and in the end it would still be inferior in terms of insulation and air leakage to a "brand new" home built to R-2000 standard.

The only way to heat a home with electricity at reasonable cost would be to have R-2000 standard insulation.

While I would never argue against additional insulation, air-source heat pumps should be considered as an option. If average outdoor temps are high enough for a good Coefficient Of Performance (true in much of the US, and a good chunk of Canada too) then air-source heat pumps can reduce electricity consumption by 50% or more versus simple electric resistance. I think air-source heat pumps and renewable electricity make a very good match, especially with pre-heating and pre-cooling to match up with renewable's variability.

I've really enjoyed Stanford's take on alternative energies. Thanks for the links.

I've posted this a couple of times recently, so apologies to those that have already seen. Here's a short 7 min vid of Bill Gross of eSolar explaining how the use of Moore's Law will help to improve efficiency of solar thermal turbine towers: http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2665

In it he talks about how China have already purchased a 2000MW plant and India have already started constructing a 1000MW plant.

I wonder how many MW those '49,000 solar plants' are? Perhaps I should RTFM.. Ah ok, 300MW.

Interesting to take at least a crude look at efficiencies which might alter that 49,000 figure:

The PS10 Solar Tower covers 150 acres and provides 11MW = 0.073 MW/acre

eSolar's Sierra SunTower covers 20 acres and provides 5MW = 0.25 MW/acre

So the eSolar tower looks to be ~3 times as efficient. Would be nice to know what kind of CSP Stanford based their figures on as this kind of difference could reduce the required figures quite dramatically.

On BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning during the Broadcasting House programme, a short story about the sudden cutting off of oil supplies (the story is the Saudi king is deposed while he is at the royal wedding next month). It was followed by a discussion with Hofmeister who actually used the word peak at one point, but went on to say that we need to prepare for a crunch about 2050-2060.

It is after 34 min. 20 s. in the current programme:


Haunting! Thanks for the link Emdeef. The comments that followed the story by John Hofmeister was interesting also even though his time frame for the crunch is totally unrealistic.

Ron P.

Glad you liked it! It is a rather strange programme, Broadcasting House. It is a news magazine that takes a generally lighter view of the news, presumably because it is on a Sunday, and it often covers stuff that gets no airing elsewhere.


Joe Bageant died yesterday following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64.

Damn. He will be greatly missed. I loved his ability to mercilessly deconstruct the American "hologram", but always with a eye to his humble southern roots and nary a note of arrogance or superiority.


Ditto, Jerry. I knew he was very ill, but last report was that it looked like he going to pull through. Cancer - ack.

I loved his writing, and his voice and viewpoint, and will greatly miss him, too. He really cared. RIP, Joe!

Darwinian help!

Did You see the russian production numbers this morning ?

More than 48.000 tons down from yesterday. And all but one are down ( more or less proportional to their production )
It starts with Rosneft with 298.200 / - 12.000
and ends with Russneft 34.900 / - 1.000

Do You or someone else has any explanation?

Regards C.B.

Yes, this has happened before and it is about one hour's production. And you will notice that it affected everything, coal, gas and electricity. I expect the production numbers will be back to normal tomorrow.

Edit: Yes it was just Russia going on daylight saving time and dropping one hour of production. Everything is back to normal this morning. They continue a slow decline however. They are now down about 70,000 barrels per day since they peaked in November.
Ron P.

Lockheed Martin To Develop Cargo Airship

Lockheed Martin has signed a contract to develop a family of commercial cargo airships for a private Canadian company that plans to sell the aircraft to the oil and gas and other sectors for heavy-lift transport missions in remote and inaccessible regions.
The initial variant of what Aviation Partners is calling the SkyTug will have a 20-ton-capacity payload bay, and is to be followed by a version with 50- to 70-ton cargo capability. There are long-term plans for aircraft with payloads of “several hundred tons,” he says.

The first experimental-category aircraft is planned to fly in 2012 and will be used for flight test and customer demonstrations, Purdy says. A second aircraft will fly early in 2013 and be used for FAA certification. Aviation Capital plans to award Lockheed a contract to begin production of the SkyTug in 2013, he says.

Wonder whether this would also be useful for transporting large bits of oil sand equipment from Pacific ports to the oil sands areas. Are there passes through BC at less than 10,000 feet?

All the major passes through the Canadian Rockies are well under 10,000 feet in elevation. Kicking Horse pass (Lake Louise/Banff corridor) is 1647 meters (5336 feet), Yellowhead pass (Jasper) is 1,110 meters (3640 feet) and Pine pass is 914 meters (2960 feet). I believe Pine Pass would be the preferred route both in terms of location and elevation for an airship travelling from Prince Rupert to the oil sands.

It would be really great to see an airship fly over when I'm out visiting my wifes family in Prince George!

Now this is an OMG thought. Imagine the impact of a crash? Of course, there would be crashes frequently. Imagine 20T or so of Petrol dropping on, say, Crescent City, CA. Any other town, for that matter. Or, in the middle of a forest, ocean, lake or river. Nice!

What are we even thinking about!!!??????



Of course the proposal is for the airship to transport oil-field equipment, not petrol.
And an airship crash would have much less kinetic energy than the freight jets that fly all over today.

I think airships have lots of potential. One kind of ironic possibility is transporting wind turbine parts too big to move by rail or road. But the airship would have to wait for a not windy day in high wind resource location, maybe not so practical.

Actually, I sort of like the idea of airship transportation. Just not of dangerous cargo.

They are air transportation of a speed commensurate with the San Francisco Cable Cars. Civilized, easy going, without the great rush of today's JIT systems.

Some more ideas you might like:


Fun reading.


Zap: 20 tons is about 40,000 pounds. I believe a set of triples that we see running around here in Nevada will weigh more. Of course they do make a mess when they tip over.

Still don't care for 20T or so of oil dropping out of the sky onto the square! Or having a tankerful have a wreck there, for that matter. What on earth are we thinking?? "It's only 40,000 lbs. So what if it lands in our drinking water? Hell, people take mineral oil as a laxative, don't they?"


And, I refuse to comment any further about that.


Could be useful for removing the spent fuel assemblies at the Dai-ichi reactor sites and dumping them into the Marianas Trench.

What will the working ceiling be on these at something approaching full load? The article states that the majority of its lift (large majority?) will come from helium buoyancy. That loses efficiency fairly rapidly with increasing altitude. Contemporary blimps (eg, Goodyear or MetLife) have operational ceilings well under 10,000 feet. Rigid-frame airships went somewhat higher. The military has proposed some high-altitude airships for use as radar platforms, but they don't have to lift much weight.

The eastern slopes of the various mountain ranges also have interesting wind "events" -- high winds, very gusty, wind shear, etc. Some of these, or at least their severity, seem to take the National Weather Service completely by surprise.

While it's technically feasible for the Goodyear blimps (just to choose an example) to operate in the area around Denver, Goodyear chooses not to take that risk.

What is the outlook for the World's Helium Supply?


Industrial buyers use the gas primarily for arc welding (helium creates an inert atmosphere around the flame) and leak detection (hydrogen has a smaller atom, but it usually forms a diatomic molecule, H2). NASA uses it to pressurize space shuttle fuel tanks: The Kennedy Space Center alone uses more than 75 million cubic feet annually. Liquid helium, which has the lowest melting point of any element (-452 degrees Fahrenheit), cools infrared detectors, nuclear reactors, wind tunnels, and the superconductive magnets in MRI equipment. At our current rate of consumption, Cliffside will likely be empty in 10 to 25 years, and the Earth will be virtually helium-free by the end of the 21st century.


A billion cubic metres – or about half of the world's reserves – are now stored in this cluster of mines, pipes and vats that extend underground for more than 200 miles from Amarillo to Kansas.

But in 1996, the US passed the Helium Privatisation Act which directed that this reserve should be sold by 2015 at a price that would substantially pay off the federal government's original investment in building up the reserve.

The law stipulated the amount of helium sold off each year should follow a straight line with the same amount being sold each year, irrespective of the global demand for it. This, according to Professor Richardson, who won his Nobel prize for his work on helium-3, was a mistake. "As a result of that Act, helium is far too cheap and is not treated as a precious resource," he said. "It's being squandered."


Many industrial processes rely on helium. In 2007, the most recent year for which figures are available, said Richardson, 28 percent of helium use went to cryogenics for MRI and nuclear magnetic resonance machines—nearly all of it for clinical purposes (scientific cryogenic uses are only 3 percent of that total). Some 26 percent of helium is used in pressurizing and purging of rockets; another 20 percent for welding; and 13 provides inert atmospheres in the production of fiberoptics, LCDs and food.

Sorry, I hated to pop your bubble wrt airships.

Helium on Planet Earth mostly comes from the decay of U-235. He3 is actually the best element possible for use in fusion power, since Hydrogen is so corrosive. The problem with He3 is that there is so little of it, as compared with He2. Of course, He3 is very common on the Moon, where it could be mined easily if the technology for fusion power is developed sufficiently. That is the reason that NASA has plans for a return to the Moon.

Since there is a limited amount of helium available, I would expect any airship industry in the future to be using hydrogen, despite its rather questionable past history.

Being designed and manufactured by humans, we can expect disaster from time to time, just as we have seen from trains, planes and automobiles. And these will happen using helium, hydrogen or hot air. Maybe we can burn hydrogen to create hot air, and that way the danger will be lessened? In fact, the hydrogen could be used as fuel for its engines (either in ICEs or electric fuel cells).

Of course, we cannot say for certain how our future will play out. We all have fears; we all have hopes, and we all look at data, and sometimes for data, to reinforce our hopes, confirm our fears, and attempt to come up with a view of reality that is acceptable to us.

Lately, it seems that ss we get older our hopes have been dashed, and our fears confirmed or exceeded, and the future seems quite dark. And so, more than for the younger folks, us 'old guys' become doomers. Our bubble have been throughly popped. And yet, I hope that I will live to see airships - just not cargo craft carrying oil.

And, I hope that I will not see the crash that seems inevitable.


Regarding FACTBOX-Japan quake impact on auto, electronics makers:

It would appear that Japan is the opening bell for global energy crisis. Indeed, our worldwide JIT policies include fuel, electricity, food, and parts for manufacturing. A single, if rather extreme, global catastrophe is responsible for the problems in Japan. The magnitude of global problems is something to be addressed, and on a multinational basis! Strangely, we hear of no plans, and even the low level (as compared to the danger level). AGW conferences are not a study in sanguinity.

So, my question is, “Where is the alarm? Where is the necessary urgency to propel policy toward a realistic new energy paradigm and infrastructure change?” Because, I don't see it, and it should have begun in the 1980s. The signs have been there, the dangers evident, and the consequences foreseeable. And yet, in our national greed-fest for consumer goods, we have squandered not only our wealth, but our future. For those few who have most of the wealth, my recommendation is fortified islands, somewhere in the uncharted regions of the Pacific Ocean. What comes next will not be pretty, and in view of the history of such, the population crash will be extreme (see “When Reindeer Paradise Turned to Purgatory.” http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF16/1672.html),

What we have done and continue to do to our planet is far more extreme than what the reindeer did to St. Matthew's Island.

My recommendation for those looking for a new career: Gravedigger and Mortuary Technician look promising. Seriously. No sarconal.


edit: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/England-History/GreatPlague.htm
Bring out your dead.

So, my question is, “Where is the alarm?

Oh some have indeed sounded the alarm: Alert: Nuclear (and Economic) Meltdown In Progress

For decades, the world has been running its own nuclear-style reaction, only in the currency and debt markets, where exponentially-accelerating piles of debt and money have spun about faster and faster in a gigantic, complex, coordinated reaction, the core of which is, and always has been, the United States.

The problem is whenever anyone does sound the alarm, they get chastised for it, severely criticized for predicting "imminent doom" or "throwing around prophecies of doom mindlessly" or some other chicken little charges.

The problem Zaphod, is not a lack of people sounding the alarm, there are plenty doing that. But when they do indeed sound the alarm they get shouted down by those who believe no alarm bells should ever be rung, regardless of how large and out of control is the fire that rages. These people are the problem, not the alarm sounders, or lack of them.

Ron P.

Amen, Ron! Have you considered that, perhaps, the worst part of it is that "those who believe no alarm bells should ever be rung" have so much power and influence that they are able to either drown out or mute the alarms as soon as they are rung?


Corn farmers and ethanol take the heat for Egypt's insane food policy:

Under the half-century-old system, a "safety net" for Egypt's poor, the government sells cut-rate wheat flour to bakeries for mandatory production of "baladi," or local, bread.

"Bread inspectors" enforce the mandate, but leakage still occurs, as unscrupulous bakers siphon off flour to sell at higher rates to producers of finer, unsubsidized baked goods. Subsidized bread also "leaks" to better-off Egyptians, since anyone can buy it.

Half of Egypt's 80 million people rely on the everyday "baladi eish." Bread accounts for one-third of Egyptians' calorie intake, and some blame it for the fact that people here on average are more obese than even Americans.

But the bread program is credited with having eased malnutrition and child mortality, and has become a symbol of the "social contract" between Egypt's governments and its people.

Along the way, however, it has also fattened the import bill, as the population exploded.

From wheat self-sufficiency, Egypt has become the world's biggest wheat importer. The government buys more than half the country's needs on the international market. A decade ago, the basic market cost for those imports was about $700 million a year. This year it could top $3.5 billion, for 10 million tons of wheat.


But one Egyptian understands the problem:

Here in Cairo, the agronomist known as the "father of Egyptian wheat" for his work improving the local crop, said the subsidy should end.

"Otherwise the government cannot afford it all," Abdel Salam Gomaa said. "And the rich are benefiting more than the poor. They don't buy to consume but to feed the cattle and animals" - with bread cheaper than animal feed.

As Alaska oil production declines, governor wants to ease Palin tax on industry


The spectacular flow of North Slope oil wealth has enabled politicians here to abolish the personal income tax and create a savings account that last year sent each resident a check for more than $1,200. While other states are slashing spending and dismantling services, oil has let Alaska ride out the Great Recession flush with big budget surpluses.

Technical challenges

Alyeska officials, who operate and maintain the pipeline, have become increasingly vocal about the technical challenges as oil flows decline.

Less than two weeks after taking the over as president of Alyeska, Barrett approved a shutdown of the pipeline to repair a leak in a North Slope pump station.

But engineers estimated the repairs, which involved installing a separate feeder line to bypass the leak, would take more than a week to complete. By then, the reduced volumes of oil in the pipeline risked cooling the crude to the point where dangerous amounts of ice and wax would form. That could cause major damage if the pipeline was restarted before the summer thaw.

To avoid that scenario, Alyeska, in an around-the-clock-emergency effort that involved hundreds of employees, took the unusual step of restarting the pipeline on Jan. 11 before the leak was fully repaired.

"Starting a lineup with an integrity breach runs against the DNA of every regulator I have ever known, and I've been one," said Barrett, a former Coast Guard admiral who once served as a federal pipeline-safety official.

Barrett says pipeline flows have been dropping even faster than forecast. So Alyeska is now exploring expensive new technology that would add heat to the oil as it travels down the line.


I didn't see it written in this article, but I read it somewhere, that once the oil flow gets below ~400,000 bpd the winter flow is to cold. That's coming up soon. I think they were considering a plan to stock up on the north slope during summer months, so they could supplement the winter drilling output and increase the flow to keep it worm.

Hey, I posted that same idea on TOD a while back. Do you suppose "they" read TOD too?

E. Swanson

No. They don't read TOD. If they did, there would already be more stories about returning to self sufficiency, and even worse, Bug-Out-Bags.

I said I didn't remember where I read it. I probably read it from you. When something makes a lot of sense, it sticks with me.

Solve the problemby adding more complexity. Seems like the way to go. As always.

Coal quandary as state considers shipping dirty fuel overseas


Just as Washington is weaning itself off coal, two companies are pushing to make the state a leading exporter of the fossil fuel. That possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington won't use it, should the state really serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas?

The debate is complicated by what's happening across the Pacific. China has committed to cleaning up its energy. It is developing wind, solar and geothermal technology and is mandating strict pollution controls on power plants.

But nearly 70 percent of its power comes from coal, and that won't change soon. Between 2000 and 2016, China has built or has plans to develop more new coal-burning capacity than exists in the entire U.S. now. That's in addition to plans for dozens of nuclear-power plants, development of which were put on hold after the Japanese nuclear disaster.

Some experts suggest that instead of fighting, the U.S. should accept coal's growth as unavoidable — and focus more resources and research on cleaning its emissions.

"It's a paradox," said Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution's energy policy initiative. "The Chinese are really moving vigorously on green technology, but Asia is growing so fast that demand for energy of all forms is going through the roof."


China should find its own coal imho. Who is China anyway? They are not skilled in some amazing way. They are just slaves working at a few pennies an hour. Who's coal is it anyway? Most is on public lands. If it is private, then sure do what you want. Public owned coal is for my children tomorrow and not Chinese workers and unjustified American gluttony today.

Toughminded, but true.

Oct - Interesting. Be even more interesting when we hear the same statement coming from the KSA regarding THEIR oil reserves being produced from THEIR public lands. Or to steal your thunder: "Public owned (oil) is for my children tomorrow and not Chinese workers and unjustified American gluttony today".

I totally agree on KSA and their oil. But they are in a bind. KSA cannot feed their people. We can eat just fine. Selling out our coal is charging our credit card to the max for our children before they can vote, and it is for lunacy, i.e., for things we do not need.

I know I wont make a difference, but slowing down the consumption seems to not be our future. Boy are we heading for a disaster.

True but... Those same chinese sit on your (assuming you are 'merkan, wich I dunno) dollars now, and they can destroy your currency (and thus your economy) if you don't play nice and ship THEM THEIR coal (in your land but who cares). How do you like them apples?

I would guess most of that coal would go to Japan which is the principle fuel for electricity(27%) closely followed by gas and nuclear also Korea 42% coal and Taiwan gets 52% of its energy from imported coal.
Should the USA refuse to sell coal to its allies to please Washington State enviros?

Should the USA refuse to sell coal to its allies to please Washington State enviros?

Are humans smarter than yeast?

Collectively or individually?

Are humans smarter than yeast?

I don;t know the answer to that, but I do know that BC is smarter than Washington State.

While the Wa gov and the Starbucks set handwrings over this life or death decision, which , US coal is being shipped out, daily from the Vancouver's port at Delta.

From that same article;

Last year, this seaport just across the United States border in Delta, B.C., shipped 27 million tons of North American coal abroad. It's the busiest coal-export operation on the continent. There are no coal-export terminals on the U.S. West Coast outside Alaska.

Two million tons of this was from the US. There are two other coal terminals on the BC coast, North Vancouver, which did 11m tons last year, and Prince Rupert (just south of Alaska panhandle) which did 8m tons and is planning to expand to handle 15mt. BC and Alberta's combined coal exports were 54 millions tons last year - much of it high quality metallurgical coal.

When Wa is serious about CO2 emissions they will stop going to Starbucks drive thru's. Until then, they might as well export the coal, but since they don;t want to, we're happy to do it for them - keeps their hands clean, and all.

Yes, we should not be shipping coal, especially in the massive amounts being contemplated to be mined from the powder river basin. If we are going to get serious about global warming, coal has no place in our energy future.

Only pleasing the Greens? Ah, the power of you!

Are you a CC denier? I'm trying to remember. Or are you willing to play 'RealPolitic Roulette' between the science you accept, and the PTB you don't bother to challenge, hoping you can hold the actual gadflies who stand up to them in the way, to offer you a handy human shield?

The climate, to paraphrase Dirty Harry, is the most powerful handgun in the world. But in all the excitement I kinda lost count, did I fire 350ppm of CO2 or 400? Feel lucky, punk?

In my favorite movie "12 Angry Men" George Scott says "you can throw out all the other evidence" and that applies to the world today. You can throw out peak oil, runaway debt, economic collapse, population overshoot and environmental destruction.

If we only had those problems to deal with there would be hope for the planet, after the population crash. With the march of CO2 however there is no hope. The verdict is guilty and we are condemned.

"Throw out all the other evidence". Loved that movie. Now more than before, since I remember that that statement was his fatal mistake. Afterwards, in a discussion, the "evidence" he advocated was nullified and all of the other evidence made sense again. So please, let us not throw out the other evidence and simply act as if the often debated CO2 discussion is "the only one truth" and we're condemned. It's not proven, and if we act as if it's true now, we might realise too late that there was something else we could do instead of just sitting around waiting for us to burn up completely.

Anthony and Cleopatra is good, too. Lots of pictures of da Nile.

Asia is in a tight place. They used up all their fossils. Japan has zero coal resources. They are in a very tight place now that their nuclear program is in shambles too. Isnt the average American going to wonder, why we export our energy to China or Japan and he is unemployed. They are not more skilled at manufacturing. This is a joke, no?

When I get an American made tool or item, it seems to last. Items from China appear to break within months of purchase.

This is a major problem.

So yes stop exporting coal to Asia until China makes things that last. if they did then we would use 2x less energy.

problem solved.

Another perspective on the great Salazar coal giveaway:


Let’s look at the timeline:

Nov. 10: Gates and Buffett visit Arch Coal’s mine in Wyoming, and Buffett hails the trip as “fascinating.”

Dec. 10: Wall Street is already certain that Buffett will continue this gamble on coal.

Dec. 14th. Gates and Buffett meet with Obama at the White House to discuss the economy.

Jan 6th: Wall Street analysts now say Buffett is betting BIG on COAL.

Feb. 15th: President Obama awards Buffett the Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Feb. 26th: In Buffet’s annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter, he reminds all listeners that his coal-transporting railroads (nearly 300 million tons of coal a year) “will increase Berkshire’s “normal” earning power by nearly 40% pre-tax and by well over 30% after-tax.”

March 23rd: Citing the nuclear tragedy in Japan and world energy needs, Salazar opens 750 million-2.4 billions tons of coal on public lands in Wyoming, only days after EPA administrator Lisa Jackson cracks down on coal-fired plants.

Amazing. Nice to be able to create your own market. Obama was all over global warming in his campaign and early on as President. Now, he has not only given up but is determined to make it much worse. Oh, and we now get lots of air pollution from China, not to mention the acceleration of global warming. Deep down, I don't think either Obama or Salazar really understand the impacts we have already have from global warming and the much worse future impacts. Too bad for his lovely children who will not be living in the garden that many of us grew up in.

Turns out that the seemingly kindly old man Buffet is just as evil as the rest of them.

Obama and Salazar are just f'ing politicians, sucking on the teat of wealthy corporations. Nice life, but it blinds them to reality.

Smart as they are, they are 'looking the other way,' for a buck. Like the Republicans, these Democrats are whores. They will do things they say they don't like, and use the need for money "to be reelected" as their excuse.

Individually humans may be smarter than bacteria, but as a group I am not so sure.

Can anyone say where the final number is, for species homo sapiens, that will be fatal to us all? Or to all complex organisms? At what level of CO2 do we pass the 'highest' survivable level? How do we know?

Evolution teaches us that every species produces more young than the Earth can support; it is those young who survive that determine the new direction toward which the species develops. What is going to be the survival trait that will survive? Maybe people who have smoke a lot of cigarettes and survived will produce young who can survive highly polluted atmospheric conditions? Maybe the dessert tribes, who survive high heat and low rainfall conditions, will be the future for mankind? Or the equatorial tribes? Or, maybe, just maybe, there is no trait that will enable survival on the earth we are creating, and we are already past that final tipping point.

I earlier opined that we all have fears, these are mine. And we all have hope, and mine is that maybe, just maybe, we have not past that point, and that some of us will get past the turning point ahead. More, I hope, and to the extent I find myself able, in the way that I am able, I pray, and hope, that perhaps some one, or more, of my grandchildren might be in that chosen few. Or is that very selfish of me?


Dont worry
If the US doesnt want to sell, we have plenty :P

Government approves massive coal mine project

The Federal Government has given the go-ahead to what could be the biggest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere.
The mine would produce 30-million tonnes a year but has the potential to expand to 100-million tonnes a year, making it the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

EFA - You bring up a good point I've been waiting for someone to offer. I can't find the details behind the current discussion but so far it seems that the US isn't planning on shipping our coal to Asia. Rather it's private companies who will mine coal from private lands and ship THEIR coal to Asia...not GOVT coal. As I recall President Clinton took on of the largest reserves of Anth. coal off the market by declaring it a national wildlife area.

I can't find any reference that any of the export coal under discussion is coming from federal leases. Maybe I missed it but I think it's all privately owned. Thus I don't think the feds can prevent any of it from being shipped over seas based upon current trade agreementS. I also suspect the same trade agreements won't allow any sort of a carbon tax added on either. But others may have more details.

If you scratch beneath the surface in Australia (pun intended) you will quickly discover that "Our Coal" is not actually "Our Coal" at all

I didn't post this before, because it's behind a paywall. But, well, it's such a good article I decided to "liberate" it. It's from Science.

Peak Oil Production May Already Be Here

Perhaps the most sobering outcome of a non-OPEC plateau might be reminding everyone that even planet-scale resources have their limits. And that when you are consuming them at close to 1000 gallons a second, the limits can catch you unaware. The next 5 years, assuming oil prices remain on the high side, should show who the realists are.

"...close to 1000 gallons a second..."

I believe that should be ~1,000 barrels a second, or more specifically about 850 barrels/s for 74,000,000 barrels/d of production.


[Edit: But it is good to see such an article in Science. Thanks for posting.]

And that when you are consuming them at close to 1000 gallons a second, the limits can catch you unaware.

Is he talking about oil? That is not 1000 gallons per second,but morelike BARRELS.

Is he talking about oil? That is not 1000 gallons per second,but morelike BARRELS.

Well, let's do the math. 24 hours x 60 minutes is 1440 minutes x 60 seconds a minute = 86,400 seconds a day. Let't take all oils and make it easy, saying we use 86.4 million barrels a day. 86,400,000 barrels divided by 86,400 seconds = 1,000 barrels a second. (Let's see, 86,400 x 1,000 = 86.4 million - yeah that's right)

Wow, ONE THOUSAND BARRELS A SECOND!!! That really puts peak oil in perspective. How can we expect a finite resource to hold steady, let alone continue to increase the flow of oil, when we have reached the point of popping a K a sec?

I usually use fuel tankers, since everyone sees those driving along the road.

It works out at about 9 full tankers, every two seconds. Which is a continuous stream of tankers, four abreast, nose to tail, driving past you at 55. Every hour of every day.

That is a great image to convey the situation to people!

I looked at it also as Great Yosemite Falls, times 4

160 cubic meters. Per second. That is a lot.

Add coal and nat gas on top...

This reminds me to put in a plug for "The Burning Platform" blog.

It is extremely well written by a man who knows his stuff right across the board.

It comes with OFM's personal stamp of approval which is not lightly given.;)

The author referenced the article Leanan refers to in his post today.

Thanks a million for "liberating" this article Leanan. It is indeed a great article. Best one I have read in weeks, perhaps months.

Speaking of CERA and the EIA the article stated:

Such optimism has not always served forecasters well. In 2005, Jackson and his CERA colleague Robert Esser of the New York office predicted that “global oil production capacity is actually set to increase dramatically” up to 2010. It didn’t; both OPEC and non-OPEC oil production remained steady. Likewise, in its 2005 outlook, EIA projected a jump in non-OPEC production by 2010 if prices were high, which they mostly were. But 2010 production was about 40 million barrels per day, right where it was in 2005.

The point is because it is predicted doesn't mean it will happen.

Thanks again.

Ron P.

Interestingly, it's a follow-up on an article that was published five years ago. The last paragraph implies that in another five years, we'll know the score...one way or the other. Presumably they're planning another article then.

Upstreamonline.com has Brent at $116.60 at the close today.

Post-oil transport needs 1.5-trillion-euro overhaul: EU

BRUSSELS — Europe's transport network will need a 1.5-trillion-euro private sector overhaul to meet the needs of a post-oil world and slash carbon emissions, the European Commission said Monday.

A new strategy for the sector launched by the commission aims to "dramatically reduce Europe's dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60 percent by 2050," the EU executive said.

...Environmental campaigners Transport & Environment attacked the lack of immediate changes.

"The only concrete action the commission proposes within its current mandate (2010-14) is to expand airport capacity, which will make the headline targets even harder to reach," said director Jos Dings.

One step forward, two steps back. They almost used the p... oil word

Report: White paper 2011 - Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system

By 2050, key goals will include:

•No more conventionally-fuelled cars in cities.
•40% use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation; at least 40% cut in shipping emissions.
•A 50% shift of medium distance intercity passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport.
•All of which will contribute to a 60% cut in transport emissions by the middle of the century.

also, from Greenpeace http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/press-releases2/transport...

Too little, too late.

Europe should invest in armies instead, they'll need it. Nobody will care for 'soft power' once TSHTF.

Of course rail investments pay off in military terms too, since modern warfare is at least partly an industrial competition to see who can make killing tools faster, and energy-efficient reliable transport is key in that race to build weapons. Sad to think that way, but destroying Germany's rail network was a major goal for US bombers in WWII, and the importance of oil independent transportation will only grow post Peak Oil.

Navies. If Europe gets involved in resource wars, they're not going to be held in Europe. China and India are spending substantial amounts to build blue-water navies so that they can project force farther and more quickly.

No one in the world except the US could force Iran to reopen the Strait of Hormuz using only conventional weapons, at least in a timely fashion. Other nuclear powers might succeed in opening it by blackmail -- nuke a provincial capital to show you're serious and threaten to work your way up to Tehran. You might be able to do the same thing with conventional bombs, but it would take considerable time to position the resources to make it work. An overland invasion would take a long time to set up.

Japan quake collapses world auto production:

"We used to assemble 304 cars a day, but today our plan is set at 82," said a worker who declined to give his name.

"And our work time was cut to half a day to accommodate the production," he added.


The Renesas plant, the most advanced of its kind, supplies 18-20% of the world's automotive MCU market, its analysts estimate. About 70% of production is sold to Japanese automakers, with the remaining 30% to US and European car companies. And the supply of these MCUs is not easily replaceable, as boosting production at other sites could take as long as six to nine months.

Deutsche Bank estimates that 12% of US "Big Three" (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) auto production is affected by the MCU disruption. In a worst-case scenario, global forecast auto production of around 76m units would be reduced by 7.5m-11m units, or 10-14%.


UAE says steps in to fill Libya oil supply gap
2011-03-28 17:50:43 GMT (Reuters)

ABU DHABI, March 28 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is stepping in to fill the gap from a drop in Libyan oil supply by pumping more oil, the country's OPEC governor said on Monday.

Since the start of disruptions in Libya's oil supplies, OPEC members have taken unilateral action to boost production. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has produced just under 9 million barrels per day (bpd) so far in March.


Once again, one or more OPEC nations say they are increasing output to offset supply losses from Libya.

However if you read this and other similar articles very carefully you will notice they are talking about output - and NOT exports.

Overall OPEC exports are now in the midst of a steep plunge in the last few weeks, down about 1 million barrels a day from the average export rate of February. It's not entirely clear why the increase in output has not resulted in a similar increase in exports. They are only offsetting about 300,000 bpd of Libya oil losses on average over the 4 weeks ending April 9. Retrospectively, it appears that KSA increased its output earlier in the year to 9.0 mbpd than originally stated by them. Therefore they only managed to increase exports about 200,000 bpd from about March 10 to April 10.

Based upon recent shipping reports, Persian Gulf OPEC members will further increase exports slightly about March 30, but there are no clear indications how long that 'surge' if you can call it that, will last.

After watching Obamas speech on the Libyan war, I just have to post this non banal video interview exposing some hidden truths.


  • http://rt.com/usa/news/nato-libya-war-america-usa/
  • ..

    Iagreewithnick and Zadok_the_Priest (or anyone else) - what do you make of the views expressed in this segment from Russian News (linked in comment above? Yes I know they're just a bunch of evil commies :)

    I also see former British Ambassador Craig Murray has now said that recent military action has crossed the line into illegality.

    Illegal War

    The attack on Libya is now illegal, a criminal war of aggression. While I always opposed the action as a matter of policy, I explained it was not illegal within the confines clearly established in UNSCR 1973.

    It is now plain that NATO forces have wilfully breached those confines and are now guilty of a criminal war of aggression. They are bombing what are now the defenders as a deliberate act of aerial support to pave the way for the rebel forces’ ground assault. I suspended my judgement on calling this an illegal war because it is a huge accusation, and I take these matters very seriously. Two days ago I posted this:

    Whether taking a side in the civil war can be justified in terms of UNSCR 1973 as “protecting civilians” seems to me a very dubous prospect indeed. It is certainly unwise, but the legality of current actions is arguable as it may not yet be definitely established that taking sides is what we are doing.

    There is no longer any doubt. In bombing defensive emplacements ahead of the rebel assault on Gadaffi’s hometown of Sirte, a line has been definitively crossed. Attacking Sirte cannot possibly be justified as “Protection of civilians”. There was no threat to the civilians of Gadaffi’s hometown from Gadaffi’s forces. Indeed it is arguable that the citizenry of Sirte may be more in danger from the tribal antagonists we are assisting to conquer them.

    Hmm, putting the reporters' unbearably obnoxious sarcastic smugness aside for the minute I think there are some valid points in there somewhere. Need to rewatch to go back over them properly..

    Ok, have watched again. Here's my view on the various points:

    - France had contracts to sell Libya military goods and nuclear power and are p*ssed that Gadaffi cancelled. The correspondent claims they were hence preparing for an invasion of Libya as of Oct 2010. Sorry? Did I get that straight? So even if the uprisings in Tunsia and Egypt (which, incidentally, kicked off in Dec 2010) hadn't happened, France were going to militarily invade Libya because they decided to cancel in the cooling-off period? Yeah, ok.

    - Another argument is that France wanted to invade to turn Libya into a South Korea type state, he then later goes on to say that no-one has an idea what will be the outcome of the intervention - a S.Korea state of an Afghan state. Doesn't seem like that would make a particularly strong case for France invading if you ask me. On top of this, why on earth would the US, UN, Arab League et al support France's ire over their lost contracts?

    - The Al Qaeda issue. It's true that AQ have come out in support of the demonstration movement. But he then says it's beyond belief that the UN/US is being so hypocritical as to be supporting this 'AQ-rebel' coalition. Well, hold on a minute. So now the UN/US must disagree on principle with everything that the AQ stands for, even if they're promoting democracy and an end to tyrany?

    - NATO is actually the US in disguise. Decisions are made by US leaders, the rest are puppets. I don't know - I don't know what goes on in NATO headquarters. Could be.

    - Most of the supporting military hardware will be US. Well, yes, that's because the US has the largest army and the greatest amount available at its disposable! That's no secret.

    - Syria - Very interesting soundbite from Lieberman. I don't know what that implies. Although if they did go in there too then at least it will quench the oil rumours! Still, I don't understand why people keep comparing Syria and Libya - they're completely different situations. No-one was comparing Egypt and Libya or Tunisia and Libya. I find it very odd. He then goes on to say, "but Syria is collapsing from the inside". What the hell do you think happened in Libya??

    - Claims that trying to get countries to join the Globilisation game. That could very well be the case. I'm sure the West would prefer democratic trading neighbours.

    The overall message is that it's a huge confusion and no-one really knows what's going on or what the outcome would be. I'd probably agree with that, but I think they're too conspirational/anecdotal and cherry picking information that suits their conspiracies. It doesn't help that he couldn't even get Lieutenant-General Boucher's name right.

    But I would just say I agree with Craig Murray's assessment. I think it's going too far the other way - they're making pre-emptive strikes. I guess you could argue that if the rebels can succeed and implement democracy it may improve more people's lives in the long run but, really, that needs to be down to the people themselves. Difficult situation though - do you wait to give Gadaffi enough time to re-group and make counter-attacks or do you try to keep up the momentum?

    And to rebutt the constant statements that "No-one knows who the rebels of Libya are or what they want" - well, it should be pretty darn obvious to most observers that the rebels are simply 'the majority population'! As in Egypt and Tunisia. And as for dispelling the myth that they're a bunch of illiterate gun-toting extremists, here's a 2 page document just released by the Libyan Interim National Council: http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Documents/2011/3/29/201132911392394...

    The correspondent claims they were hence preparing for an invasion of Libya as of Oct 2010. Sorry? Did I get that straight?

    I dont think he really means they were preparing to invade, but that they were making high level contacts and fomenting a coup. The italian intelligence was monitoring their moves for obvious reasons (so much to lose from a regime fall). All that happened in the MENA countries since then allowed France to be much bolder in its actions.

    BTW I think a North-South Sudan (instead of Korea) correlation would be more appropriate.

    I'm sure the West would prefer democratic trading neighbours.

    I'm not sure what you mean by democratic trading. Do Halliburton profits reach the pockets of US citizens? Isn't the US taxing much more efficient sugar-cane ethanol in order to protect US corn producers? Wasn't everyone happy to buy oil from ME dictators when it cost less than 20 bucks a barrel?

    Having said that, I am all for what is happening in the MENA countries and for the process towards democracy. It's a long process, one that is still far from being accomplished even in democratic countries.

    Edit: typo

    The attack on Libya is now illegal, a criminal war of aggression.

    Given the bedrock documents of the US of A wanted the Congress to draw up formal Declarations of War and the last time the formal one was WWII - why would THIS particular use of force be different legal-wise than the last batches?

    So was Hitlers attack on Poland just mudding the waters Its what you can get away with that matters.

    Three Mile Island anniversary marked in Pennsylvania

    Dozens have gathered at Three Mile Island to mark the 32nd anniversary of America's worst nuclear accident.

    On 28 March, 1979, a combination of mechanical failure and human error led to a partial meltdown at the nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania

    You wait 30+ years for a partial meltdown and then three come along at once :-(

    Edit: The "Full Chernobyl" what they are struggling to avoid of course.

    responded to here due to the tie-ins with other issues, such as with regard to MENA and Japan.

    jeppen wrote:
    Also, the presence of nuclear plants should lower the risk for war...

    Nuclear power, war and the state (or how people fund this crap, and how decentralizing power, etc., might be a good route to take)

    The state has moved into many new areas as they become significant, such as environmental protection, legislating against racial and sexual discrimination, and promoting nuclear power. This expanding role of the state helps prevent the rise of any significant competing forms of social organisation...

    By appealing to the state, activists indirectly strengthen the roots of many social problems, the problem of war in particular...

    The state both promotes and is reinforced by forms of high technology which require state control, such as nuclear power... and, not least, military technology such as nuclear weapons. Challenging these forms of high technology also directly challenges the expansion or maintenance of centralised political and economic power which is closely linked with the state. The movement against nuclear power has repeatedly been met with state opposition and repression precisely for this reason. State support for technology which is capital-intensive, dependent on experts, and which requires state ownership or control can be seen as one way in which the state creates conditions of existence favourable to itself. Challenges to nuclear power, supersonic transports and other similar technologies thereby become potent avenues for confronting state power.

    This begs the question if, when we decentralize our power generation via, say, on-location/"off-grid" wind or solar, a small rift is created between people and state control.

    People pay taxes for centralized power, and I'm not just talking about energy, but also the funding of war (that suffering you talk about, jeppen).

    So in this light, then (and in light of what's happening in MENA and the kind, amount and quality of information coming out of Japan) perhaps you/people would do well to question/re-examine your/their apparent perception/support of nuclear technology (etc.).

    If we are to have, as per TOD's subject-heading, energy and a future (we can live and be happy with), perhaps it would do very well to be decentralized (renewable?) and in the hands of the people, rather than the state and/or corporation.

    ...Grow our own (sustainable, organic, non-GM) food while we're at it:

    "To turn the world into a dependency on staples has nothing to do with feeding the world, it has a lot to do with controlling the food supply. The United States evolved a phrase during the Vietnam war, and the phrase was; 'Food as a weapon'; the use of food as the ultimate weapon of control. And the trajedy is, the growth of agribusiness in the US has gone hand-in-hand with the US foreign policy to deliberately create hunger locally in order to make the world dependent on food supplies, through which you can then control countries and their decision-making ability. So hunger has become an instrument of war."
    ~ Vandana Shiva, physicist, from video (You Tube), 'The Future of Food'

    Thanks for the inspirations, jeppen.

    Yes. This is key.

    Both with Oil and Electricity, we are simply conditioned to being at the mercy of the 'Lords of the Manors', once again.

    To be able to get through a day or a year without them holding all the umbilicals which keep us alive would go far in changing the balances of power.

    Paul Nash and I were talking about this the other day, and Paul was concerned about my losing trust in the essential collective power of having functioning grids and utilities for our societies.. but I have to say that the balance of power in those utilities would be far more level if the consumers were, to any significant degree also among the producers in that relationship.

    Large-scale centralization/centralized-control & power, whether in agriculture, power, education, politics, manufacturing, etc., especially in today's context of apparent FF-fueled population overshoot, doesn't seem to work-- everywhere I look.

    Humans (and the earth) don't seem cut out for this kind of thing, which is ostensibly completely antithetical to how we evolved.

    Some movements, such as the Transition and Permaculture ones, seem to be addressing this, to be interested in, among other things, scaling back, and decentralising/re-localising.

    'Local self-sufficiency/resiliency' ("self-empowerment") seems to imply or encourage greater democracy and, as suggested below (blockquotes) to include 'contracting other relationships', which may include many aspects of the aforementioned movements, including generating our own power, growing our own food, making our own products and creating and managing our own currencies/monetary/barter systems, etc.. 'Our own' isn't to necessarily imply 'at the individual level', just at the local, scaled-down one.

    That said and done, there isn't going to be much paid in the way of taxes to gov salaries or money to the multinationals, etc.. Scary for them; threatening to their survival.

    The MENA people protesting seem to so far be looking to what they know-- the governments: Despite the protests, there's still that dialogue, that contract with the nation-state, with centralised power and control. I wonder if they or how many of them have considered different 'modes of behavior' and what they might be.

    I may have quoted them before, but in any case will leave you with a few to augment my points:

    "[interview with] Bill Mollison: The first time I saw a review of one of my permaculture books was three years after I first started writing on it. The review started with, 'Permaculture Two is a seditious book.' And I said, 'At last someone understands what permaculture’s about.' We have to rethink how we’re going to live on this earth — stop talking about the fact that we’ve got to have agriculture, we’ve got to have exports, because all that is the death of us. Permaculture challenges what we’re doing and thinking — and to that extent it’s sedition.

    People question me coming through the American frontier these days. They ask, 'What’s your occupation?' I say, 'I’m just a simple gardener.' And that is deeply seditious. If you’re a simple person today, and want to live simply, that is awfully seditious. And to advise people to live simply is more seditious still.

    You see, the worst thing about permaculture is that it’s extremely successful, but it has no center, and no hierarchy.

    Alan: So that’s worst from whose perspective?

    Bill: Anybody that wants to extinguish it. It’s something with a million heads. It’s a way of thinking which is already loose, and you can’t put a way of thinking back in the box.

    Alan: Is it an anarchist movement?

    Bill: ...You won’t get cooperation out of a hierarchical system. You get enforced directions from the top, and nothing I know of can run like that. I think the world would function extremely well with millions of little cooperative groups, all in relation to each other."


    "Lastly, Gandhi developed the concept of nonviolent revolution, to be seen not as a programme for the seizure of power, but as a programme for transforming relationships. The concept sits neatly with the observation of... Gustav Landauer: 'The state is a condition, a certain relationship between beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.'...

    In its first decade several themes, theories, actions... began to come to the fore and were given intellectual expression...: anti-militarism, the rediscovery of community, community action, radical decentralism, participatory democracy, the organisation of the poor and oppressed inter-racially, and the building of counter-culture and counter-institutions (such as new co-ops, collectives and communes)...

    The collapse of the New Left coincided with the exhaustion of the less well-publicised Sarvodaya (welfare of all) movement for nonviolent revolution in India, led by Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, which had sought through voluntary villagisation of land to realise Gandhi's dream of an India of village republics. The implication of Sarvodaya for the subject of this book is brought out by the statement of Jayaprakash Narayan: 'In a Sarvodaya world society the present nation states have no place.'"
    ~ Geoffrey Ostergaard, Resisting The Nation State


    The old saying about power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, was not intended for the "power" i.e. electricity industry, but it does seem to apply there - Enron, etc.

    We might be able to split the "trust" thing into two parts;
    1. The trust that the grid will function 24/7
    2. The trust that companies in a monopoly/market dominant position will not gouge you.

    I have very good trust in (1) and lesser in (2). Of course, in California in 2000, some of the players exercised (2) by deliberately not doing (1)

    My take on the failure of trust is related to the large companies, and physical separation between customer and supplier.

    In a small town, where evryone knows everyone, if you deliver poor service (1) or rip people off (2), everyone will know pretty quickly. Even if you are a monopoly and they have to buy from you, you might still run into them on the street, your wife sees them at the store, your kids are at school with their kids. If you abuse trust, you, and your family, will suffer a serious loss of local goodwill.

    But with a corporation, the decision maker is in another city/state/country, the shareholders are faceless statistics, there are no local repercussions for abuse of trust. The poor local service guys will get the ill will, but it is not their fault, and they may not even be benefitting from it.

    An interesting note about utilities - the official definition of a customer is "a user that you can deny service to" (i.e. turn them off if they don't pay the bill). This is a very suitable engineering definition, but for a business definition, for a non-monopoly company, that is a completely disfunctional definition. If most normal (non monopoly) businesses deny service, the customer will never come back.

    One other business that can "deny service" - a bank - they can call your loan. This is why we see similar heartless behaviour from large banks and large utilities.

    But LOCAL banks, and local utilities, where the owners/managers live in the same place as their customers, are generally much better. The local bank needs it's customers to be successful for it to be successful. Keep closing them down and you have nothing left - so you don't give bad loans in the first place, as the people that loned you money are local. How do you tell grandma Jones you blew her life savings on a risky subprime mortgage for someone 1000 mi away buyign Vegas condo?

    For the utility (I used to manage a ski resort one) you make sure your customers are not wasting the resource and help them any way feasible. I had 130 single family customers, a bunch of strata corporations and private business, and the ski resort itself (my owner and biggest customer) I knew all my owners by name, I went to the AGM's at all the strata's to talk about their utility costs, and how to reduce them, and sent detailed anaylses to them for each subsequent AGM, would read meters at 3am looking for ghost loads etc. Treated my customers like my family - they are actually how I make my living - when did a bank CEO ever say that. Basically, I want to help them be successful - successful customers are better at paying their bills, even (especially) if the bills are smaller. Besides, I could have ended up sitting next to them on the chairlift - don't want an angry customer pushing me off going over the ravine!

    So, I am convinced that local ownership is the key link in the chain that has been lost. Many towns used to have local electric/gas/water co's , some still do, but most have been bought by big utility co's - once the local ownership goes, so does the local focus, and accountability. Some big utilities are better than others at managing this - one of my Ca water clients is very big on local accountability - it shows in their high satisfaction and low default rates - very good for business.

    The same also applies to local production of energy, for the same reasons. If a local person wants to erect massive wind turbines on the scenic ridge outside of town, they will face the town people every time they walk down the street. The multinational does not, gets approval from ahiger govt and just does it. The local one may move/redesign his operation to minimise the adverse impacts, and the benefits of local ownership (=money) stay in the town, with the big co, the only thing that stays is the spoiled views, the locals pay the costs but get minimal benefits (very few post-constr jobs with wind).

    Local energy production also allows the town to take control, at least partly, of its energy future - people will do more production, but will also waste less, and pay the bills on time - they like helping local business and will pay them and default on the phone co! So everyone becomes "invested", not just the "investor". A locally owned/operated landfill that is turning waste to energy but needs sorted waste to do it, will have much higher sorting rates from townpeople than a large co. People can see they are helping to help their own community.

    The community goodwill, and the retention of control and in the local community are, by far, the biggest benefit to local production of energy, food, etc - keeping profits local and the transport energy savings are a bonus.

    What Bill M is saying about permaculture can be applied to distributed production of energy. That is why big utils have resisted it, but many town ones have welcomed it - they would rather buy from within their area than from outside. They do have legitimate concerns on saftey and power quality of small generation, and these can be addressed.

    For a similar take on the empowerment created by local ownership, but arrived at from a slightly different path, check this out. This guy used to be plant manager for India's largest sugar company, and watched the people/town/soil/water get drained for the benefit of the company. Now he is in business making food and energy equipment for small operators, to benefit the local economy, not the corporate one.

    If I ever buy a steam engine, it will be from this guy - he has the right idea and will likely still be in business post-peak.

    Looks like we're on the same wave, Paul, along with V.K. Desai, which is encouraging, especially given all the recent news.

    Saudi Arabia prepares massive oil rig boost-report

    NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has unexpectedly called on oilfield service firms to expand its oil rig count by nearly 30 percent to boost output capacity, Simmons & Co analyst Bill Herbert said on Monday.

    A New York-based oil analyst, who tracks Saudi production and requested anonymity, said: "You could see this in one of two ways. Either they realize that 3 million barrels of spare capacity isn't enough, or they realize their capacity isn't actually that high."


    I guess this is a case of running faster to stay at the same place!.


    re: Saudi Arabia prepares massive oil rig boost-report

    I believe that Saudi Arabia probably opened the valves to produce more oil, and more oil did not come out. They are now starting to panic and drill more oil wells in an attempt to increase production. It will remain to be seen how successful this is in producing more oil.

    This is similar to what happened in the United States in 1970 when oil production peaked and started to decline, despite much higher oil prices and frantic drilling of oil wells. It came as a complete shock to US oilmen to discover that they oil they firmly believed was there was not there. Saudi Arabia may be in for a similar shock.


    How long do you suppose it might take for the world to know that there is no increased production despite their best efforts of extra wells... would it take about one year?

    Also, how long did it take in the 70's for the realizations to be known?

    I believe that Saudi Arabia probably opened the valves to produce more oil, and more oil did not come out. They are now starting to panic and drill more oil wells in an attempt to increase production.

    It is pretty interesting timing. Libya's exports gets nixed in a revolt against its country's leadership, and OPEC is requested upon to ante up more black gold. But alas, we don't see much more coming from the Saudi's. Then suddenly they decide (maybe in a panic) to drill like mad. Starting to sound like 'Drill, Baby Drill' is becoming the worldwide hymm sung as we slide ever more precariously along this peak plateau towards an inevitable oil production descent.

    What is fascinating though, is the world hasn't seen anything yet. All that's happened so far is the 05 beginning of a plateau, the high price point in 08 - the subsequent temp. collapse which was part high priced oil and part greed based mortgage meltdown, the rise in price again, and now it appears the Saudi's claim of X millions of barrels of spare capacity was ficticious bragadoshia. But in all those incidents BAU has remained intractable, holding on thru too big to fail by borrowing trillions, and hundreds of billions more on QE's, and presto magic, its all still working.

    But coming soon to a neighborhood near all of us, is the great descent. Oh my, it will be such a ride!!

    Having begun my career in 1975 I can add some personal insight about the oil patch response to higher prices: it tuned into a blood bath. Anything that had even a remote chance of finding oil was drilled. At the peak over 4,600 rigs were drilling. And drilling failures for the most part. Billions were lost by private investors. Eventually, as oil prices dropped, more companies went out of business than I an estimate. The response to the oil price spike did more to damage the domestic oil industry than any other event I’ve witnessed over the last 36 years. The next closest would have been the collapse of NG prices in ’08 and the impact on the shale gas players.

    Well, Rockman, having started my career a few years earlier than you did, I also recall quite vividly the drilling frenzy that started after the huge price increases in 1973. I can also remember the looks on the faces of the old oilmen as they drilled up their best prospects, and most of them came up dry. They spent an awful lot of money and lost their shirts.

    Just because you drill for oil doesn't mean you are going to find oil. If it's not there, it's not there. Not being completely stupid, oilmen drilled the best prospects first - decades ago. At this point in time, the chances of finding a supergiant field that someone has overlooked are remote. We're just looking for dribs and drabs of oil in non-obvious places that we missed the first few times we looked.

    Fortunately, I also got into oil sands research, and while the project I was on didn't work that well, other people had better success. $1 billion in research grants did have their effect and Canada was able to book another 170 billion barrels of oil reserves. At today's prices that is a 17,000:1 return on investment - Canadian taxpayer investment, and I hope Canadian taxpayers are appreciative because the revenue goes straight into free medical care and other social benefits. The big bad oil companies are just there to build to hardware to make it happen. In the US things are less good because the US never got its oil shale projects to work.

    "This is Saudi Arabia's raison d'etre. It must ensure that spare capacity is sufficient or else its importance in the world will be diminished," said oil analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover in Connecticut.

    Raison d'etre, or reason for existence. Of course that might be a slight exaggeration but that is really the reason Saudi keeps insisting that their vast reported reserves are real and that they do have all that spare capacity. It is a point of pride with them and they would be shamed miserably if it were proven that it was all just a lie.

    I heard a guy on CNBC the other day saying that he doesn't believe that the spare capacity and massive reserves are a myth because he doesn't believe in conspiracy theories about these things. I thought "what an idiot" there is no conspiracy here, it all started with a "proven reserve" bidding war back in the 80s and just spiraled out of control from there. There was never any kind of conspiracy, it just happened.

    Ron P.

    Sooner or later the myth of spare Saudi Arabian oil capacity is going to be revealed for what it is - a myth. Recent news reports indicate the Saudis are starting to panic and calling on international companies for more oil rigs.

    Saudi Arabia struggles to maintain oil output

    Saudi Arabia's plan to boost the number of oil rigs at its disposal by 28 percent suggest the kingdom is struggling to maintain the 12.5 million barrels a day of output capacity it has long said is in place.

    The myth of Saudi Arabian reserve oil capacity is coming to an end. They weren't able to meet increased demand in 2008, and they are probably less able to meet it today.

    Saudi Arabia struggles to maintain oil output

    Two Saudi officials told Reuters on Tuesday that the extra rig activity would maintain rather than increase the kingdom's oil capacity.

    "It's not to expand capacity. It's to sustain current capacity on new fields and old fields that have been bottled up," one of the officials said.

    They admit it! This is an admission that their old fields are in decline and a massive new drilling program is needed just to maintain output at current levels. Lotsa luck is all I can say.

    Ron P.

    "It's not to expand capacity. It's to sustain current capacity ..."

    I hope the Saudi's will now explain why their production capacity is so low compared to their stated reserves -- 260 billion barrel of reserves with a wimpy depletion rate of only around 1% compared much higher depletion rates elsewhere.

    Now if Saudi has peaked, does this mean that the World has peaked as the late Mathew Simmons suggested?

    This is major. I guess we will have to wait weeks or more before any of the financial groups start to play with the implications. Interesting times.


    Time for Plan B:


    Too bad the time for 'Plan B' was 50 years ago...

    Of course, 'Plan B' should have included Plan B


    But hey, now Congress is trying to defund Planned Parenthood, so we mash the accelerator to the floorboards as we careen towards the cliff!

    Birth control is bad. Drugs are bad.

    Barack Obama's "Address to the Nation on Libya," and George W. Bush's "Iraqi Freedom Address to the Nation" (links to video, text, and audio of each speech):

    My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

    [cut to finish]

    My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.

    May God bless our country and all who defend her.
    (delivered 19 March 2003)

    Tonight, I'd like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya: what we've done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.

    [cut to finish]

    Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward; and let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.

    Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
    (delivered 28 March 2011)

    If you are eager to show the similarities, I hope you will also consider the differences.

    I don't know if this will turn out to be a disaster for the US or not, but unlike our massive Air and Ground invasion of Iraq, which was a baffling illogical followup to the Afghanistan war*, and which had millions of people screaming in the streets before it had even begun to try to avert it happening, in this case, we had Libyans begging for help, we had a string of neighboring countries bursting out in pro-democracy and anti-autocratic fervor, and our attacks were clearly in response to a brutal crackdown on barely-equipped citizens by the Leader and some portion of his Military forces.

    Obama has made many blunders now.. but he is not Bush. He's still got quite a ways to go to earn THAT medal.

    *(Not so baffling, of course.. but the reasons given tried the patience of the most diplomatic responders)

    The speeches are linked without comment. What makes you think I meant to highlight their similarities? Their differences are more significant, imo.

    For the record, I opposed the invasion of Iraq, and supported intervention in Libya.

    Why else?

    Given that many are specifically trying to draw the link to justify G. W. Bush by saying that Obama is no better, any such linking in a post offered without comment can reasonably be taken as a part of that propaganda effort.

    If you had offerred the comment above in the original post it might not have been taken as such.

    [Didn't mean to ignore your reply, r4ndom, just can't keep up with everything.]

    It's also true that many people compare Iraq and Libya to show the differences between them (Juan Cole, for example). Maybe you're hanging out with the wrong crowd.

    Just saying that it wasn't unexpected that someone would interpret it in a way you didn't intend, since you didn't apply any indications of your intention in the original post.

    The differences are as clear as the similarities to me, but that is because I've seen this particular drill too many times for this to be a sane world.

    What made me think that?

    errrr, Probably cause I'm touchy as hell lately.. Please accept my apology.

    Back to weaving Battery-baskets..

    No problem. This issue is a minefield. More on that later hopefully but right now I've got to run.

    I agree with the rest of your comment, btw.

    According to this report, the 'rebels' of Libya may be able to make an end run around sanctions:

    U.S. Treasury OKs Libyan rebel oil sales

    A Treasury official says rebel oil sales will not be subject to U.S. sanctions if made through bodies unconnected with the Gaddafi regime.

    Buoyed up by military success, the rebels are expanding into the oil business. They say they've done a deal to export more than 100,000 barrels of crude a day to the Gulf state of Qatar. Qatar won't confirm the story, but Julian Lee of the Centre for Global Energy Studies says the rebels' claim is feasible.


    Re: Germany’s greens romp to historic victory, up top:

    The election was about forms of energy. Here is a background video:


    I was stationed at Kaiserslautern near Stuttgart while in the Army 1965-1966.

    US incomes rise, but disposable income drops. Blame oil prices.

    Consumer spending rose even faster, by 0.7 percent – partially due to growing confidence in the staying-power of an economic recovery.

    But as the recovery has taken hold, so has an upward trend in prices for basic commodities like grains and gasoline. In February, US consumers were basically forced to spend more because of rising prices for groceries and fuel. Adjusted for consumer-price inflation, the gains in household earnings disappeared, with "real" disposable personal income actually falling 0.1 percent for the month.

    US incomes rise, but disposable income drops. Blame oil prices.

    It's starting.

    The dreaded double dip?

    Four years after the U.S. housing market collapsed, the fragile real estate recovery appears to be breaking down. With job growth just beginning to pick up and consumers feeling gloomy about their prospects, a “double dip” in housing could put the wider economic rebound at risk.

    Similar noises from the UK:

    [UK] Annual household incomes fall for first time since 1981

    The purchasing power of households fell last year, the first fall for any full year in three decades and the deepest for a 12-month period since 1977.

    But it certainly is confusing when you see headlines like this about the US:

    Fuel prices push up US consumer spending

    Higher prices at petrol stations and grocery stores pushed up US consumer spending in February as households faced growing pressure on their budgets.

    It is almost as if they are trying to get a 'growth is up' message out of a negative 'you paid more for for the same fuel' reality.


    Getting squeezed from both sides

    Food Inflation Kept Hidden in Tinier Bags

    With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.

    ...“Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough — that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

    Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.

    this article brought to mind Animal Farm - George Orwell 1945 from Wikipedia

    Napoleon [a pig] abuses his powers, making life harder for the animals; the pigs impose more control while reserving privileges for themselves. ...The animals, though cold, starving, and overworked, remain convinced through psychological conditioning that they are better off than they were when ruled by Mr. Jones. Squealer [another pig] abuses the animals' poor memories and invents numbers to show their improvement.

    Well I am sure people could lose 10-20% of their calories anyway. Look at the incidence of obesity in America.

    Will we see the double Quarter Pounder replaced by the 1 1/2 Quarter Pounder?

    Will Joe six pack be able to handle that many fractions in his burger?

    I remember helping out demolishing an old house and wondering where the heck the lumber came from. Not only was it straight, clean and perfectly fitted, it was actually 2" x 4", not the modern version which is 1.5 (sometimes 1 3/8" x 3.5 (sometimes 3 3/8"), bent, warped, from the edge of the trunk (so some is missing) and green.

    I bought some albacore the other day and was very agitated by the fact 1/2 of the can was water. I know its packed in water, but wasn't expecting water to pour out like it was a faucet and be left with 1/2 can of albacore for the full price. What the heck?!

    Next time, forget the albacore and buy regular 'Starkist' or 'Chicken of the Sea'. For your (precious-metal free) money, you'll get a can of disgusting fish soup that can't be converted into something suitable for a tuna-salad sandwich without the aid of a centrifuge or makeshift press.

    Some of the cheap store brands are actually better. But should we eat tuna at all?

    Big sale on Starkist last week at our local market. I noticed the cans are 5 oz. Went home and checked the pantry; the tuna we bought @ last Oct. are 6 oz. The price/oz. actually went up a few cents. Some sale. No worries though, as food and energy don't count for inflation, or so I'm told.

    I don't mind so much the packages getting smaller. I do take exception to underfilling the same size box, while putting the new net weight in the small print.

    "More air in the chip bags" ...

    Orwell wasn't so much prescient, his imagination was rather poor, but he knew how the system worked and would likely develop in the future. He outlined how technology, technique and human failings combined to form a dystopian civilisation.

    In "1984" he gave an example of how the system cut the chocolate ration and then proclaimed they'd actually increased it. Not to different to the way the system today gives less but makes it appear you're getting more or the same as previously. I noticed last week how the Carrefour supermarket gave a big -50% promotion (on selected items), while increasing the prices on all other items on their shelves. Giving the impression that costs are being cut, inflation held at bay, while prices are actually increasing quite markedly.

    The deterioration in the quality of goods is another example, poor design, poor quality that doesn't last and quite often fails to even do the job its purchased for.

    Edit, just saw this too:

    Budget airline tickets cost '10 times' as much as advertised

    More amazing tsunami videos. This is mind boggling:


    Incredible link. This is not a wave at all - this is the sea rising by 50 feet for a few hours. Unbelievable.

    China Tops Global Clean Energy Table

    The table, published by the US Pew Environment Group, showed that the Chinese invested $54.4bn (£34.1bn) in 2010, up from $39.1bn in 2009.

    While the US saw investment increase by 51% to $34bn, it still slipped from 2nd to 3rd in the ranking, behind Germany's $41.2bn...

    ...The authors also said that 40 gigawatts (GW) of wind and 17GW of solar energy were installed during 2010, taking the global clean power capacity to 388GW.

    Watching the news earlier and it seems the Libyan rebels are hitting stiff resistance which is stalling their advance. So what's plan 'B' if the two sides become locked in a fight that neither can win. And NATO's fire-power becomes useless as the two sides battle it out inside the cities?

    Currently it seems to be to ask Gaddafi to leave nicely and arm the rebels to give them more bite. Looks like things are going to get complex.


    An iteresting article to read! Explains how food producers are quietly decreasing the quantity of food in packages while leaving prices at same levels, rasing the unit price. Very sneaky!

    Guess this partly exlains how good ol' Ben can keep his inflation figures so low!

    They've been manipulating the package sizes for years and years, it's nothing new. During the Nixon price-control era, they manipulated a lot of other things as well, to come up with "new" products that wouldn't have established "old" regulated base prices.

    Don't know what Ben does, though - one gets the impression that "core inflation" means "ignore whatever's going up at any given moment."

    US To Purchase Oil From Libyan Rebels

    Following recent news that the supremely organized Libyan rebels have established their own central bank and oil company (does anyone recall when rebels merely rebelled instead of immediately setting up an oil export infrastructure and a fiat counterfeiting authority... those were the days), we now learn that this impressively "impromptu" development may have actually been intended all along...

    ...Ali Tarhouni, who is in charge of the rebels' economic, financial and oil matters in Benghazi said the fields were capable of pumping 100,000 to 130,000 barrels per day of crude, and most of this would be exported because of low refining capacity in eastern Libya. Before the crisis began, Libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels per day.

    100 to 130k barrels a day isn't going to make much difference to global consumption. But the obvious desperation of the West to re-establish exports from Libya is very telling. Will we next see NATO slaughtering Libyan forces in the open if they attempt to head back to the oil facilities, even if civilians are not threatened? Will NATO sit back and watch if the rebels besiege a Gaddafi held town or city, creating a humanitarian catastrophe? This has really got the makings of a real SNAFU.

    If Iraq goes south, the U.S. can always invade. It has a lot of independent soldiers, contracted through Blackwater(or is it known as Xe now?), even if the federal soldiers are not there. A convenient loophole. It has bases in the Gulf and in Saudi Arabia.

    Now it'll have a puppet government in Libya, or at least to NATO.

    Iraq has the biggest capacity for production of all the countries left. Libya has the biggest reserves in Africa.

    Shell conveniently controls the Nigerian nation:

    Wikileaks: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

    In an increasingly resource-scarce world, positioning and preparation matters.
    NATO isn't as screwed as people think. The only thing left is to kick out Turkey who might object once or twice as the Middle East is remade.

    Egypt is not really an asset anymore, the only country who cares is Israel. But they know they can't beat Israel anyway so they won't be an issue. Syria, Jordan etc don't matter. Neither does Yemen. The place is already chaos.
    Nigeria, Iraq and Libya does matter, however.

    Leiten - Just a small expansion on your point: the "Shell Oil" you mention is not Shell USA (part owned by RDS) but Royal Dutch Shell, the Netherlands company. RDS sells the Nigerian oil where it can make the best profits. If the better profit is selling it to the EU than none makes it to the US.

    I'm sure the US govt wished they had some control over RDS but they don't. If you've ever dealt with the Dutch you'll know they are about the best traders on the planet. Whatever RDS does you can be sure it's for the soul benefit of RDS.

    Wow, Rockman. I didn't know all these things. It's good I have you.

    Oh, remember the 1954 invasion of Guatemala?
    The 'private' companies of Dole and others got a good slice with special deals through the USG.
    Don't be naive :)

    Burgundy -- The first half of your quote comes from blogger Tyler Durden, the second from Reuters. You joined them with a 350 word ellipsis. Unless Durden and the author of the Reuters piece are the same person, you can't do that.

    Will we next see NATO slaughtering Libyan forces in the open if they attempt to head back to the oil facilities, even if civilians are not threatened? Will NATO sit back and watch if the rebels besiege a Gaddafi held town or city, creating a humanitarian catastrophe?

    I also worry about Libyans getting slaughtered for their oil wealth.

    AFAIK, only Gaddafi has threatened slaughter. He's allegedly done it. He's definately been in control of Libya's oil wealth for 40 years. If NATO backs off, what do you think will happen?

    Burgundy - I didn't see in the article that the US would be the buyer but that the US has lifted the sanctions against the sale of Libyan oil. But if the US is the actual buyer it may be to sanitize the effort for the sake of the potential buyer. Many folks don't realize that oil has a "title" just like your car. This title proves ownership and legalizes the sale. It gets zero public notice but there have been many lawsuits brought over improper oil sales. When some country "nationalizes" some oil companies assets it gets big public notice. But the public will never read about the billions of $'s awarded (and paid) to the companies eventually...very serious confidentiality agreements. BTW the typical enforcer of such payments is the International Monetary Fund...another little secret.

    Typically the buyer is liable for damages of "illegal" sales. Regardless of how we feel about the colonel I don't think anyone has decertified the Libyan govt as the legal rulers of the country. Thus technically the oil still belongs to the govt. After the dust settles the Libyan govt (depending on who's running it then) can file a legal action against the crude buyers. Granted that could sit in the courts for decades. But also bear in mind the action could be brought by a new legal and demoratic Libyan govt that might rightfully claim the oil revenue belongs to them and not to whoever the monies were delivered to initially. Such matters are dealt with daily in the world court and get virtually no publicity. But the crude buyers know the rules quit well and might only take the oil if they are shielded by the US or some other country.

    Telegraph is reporting:

    Libyan rebels have withdrawn from the oil town of Ras Lanuf under bombardment from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, exposing their weakness without Western support.

    So what happens now? NATO have taken out the Libyan air force and heavy weaponry, so do they now slaughter the Libyan soldiers advancing in light skinned vehicles? And I guess the rebels will have to claim "force majeure" on their oil deliveries.

    This could get very messy with global implications in terms of international relations.

    NATO have taken out the Libyan air force and heavy weaponry, so do they now slaughter the Libyan soldiers advancing in light skinned vehicles?

    Burgundy, read the article you quoted. It mentions "Col Gaddafi's armor" and "huge rockets." It says:

    On the offensive, government tanks and artillery have unleashed a fierce bombardment on towns and cities, forcing the rebels to flee.

    It mentions light skinned vehicles once: "The rebels fled in 4x4 pickup trucks."