Drumbeat: April 13, 2011

Flacking for Qaddafi: The Price of Silence at Harvard

Porter, a distinguished Harvard Business School professor, had held out high hopes for Libya under Khadaffy in a report prepared (with Daniel Yergin’s Cambridge Energy Research Associates) for the Libyan government in 2006. (“Libya’s popular democracy system supports the bottom-up approach critical to building competitiveness. … Libya has the only functioning example of direct democracy on a national level.”)

“To put it simply,” said Lewis, “a tyrant was willing to pay for a Crimson-tinged report that he was running a democracy, and a Harvard expert obliged in spite of all evidence to the contrary.”

Carrier officers say Gadhafi's troops hard to spot

ABOARD THE CHARLES DE GAULLE – As French navy Rafale and Super Etendard fighter-bombers carrying laser-guided bombs catapult off the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, officers describe the difficulties they face: Despite the technology, troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are hard to identify from the air.

Shock treatment: Jeff Rubin Q&A

You believe we will actually take vehicles off the road?

Rubin: I do. The days of the U.S being a 17-million vehicle market, like it was three or four years before last recession, is over, and never coming back. I say there will be fewer vehicles on the road in the future, not more. Yes, vehicle sales recovered to 12-12.5 million, but the only problem is, as the U.S. economy recovers, look at where gasoline prices are? They’re not far off from four dollars (per gallon).

Oil and trouble

The most disconcerting part of the IMF analysis is its estimate of the potential impact of declining oil output on world GDP under different output scenarios. In the benchmark case, growth in oil output drops by one percentage point a year and real world GDP two decades from now is about 3 percentage points below where it otherwise would have been. In America, the drop is closer to 4 percentage points. Given greater substitution away from oil, the gap over two decades is closer to 1 percentage point for both the world and the American economy.

But the IMF also considers a more pessimistic scenario in which the annual hit to growth in oil output is 3.8 percentage points. In that case, real world GDP could wind up 10 percentage points below its but-for level. In America, the projected gap is more like 13 percentage points.

High gas prices hurt many, hope coming?

High gas prices are putting a big hit into lawncare businesses.

"I spent $89 dollars this morning for 16 gallons in the truck and to fill up the gas cans," Larry Collier, owner of Cut & Trim, Inc, said.

That cost comes every week, sometimes more than once. His truck, mower, weed trimmer, all require gas. Collier said he can't afford to not pass that on to his customers.

Saudi supplies India heavier crude for May: Trade

DUBAI: State oil giant Saudi Aramco has changed the mix of crude it supplies to India for May, substituting some heavier crude for light oil, a Gulf-based trade source said.

The overall volume under India's term contract with Saudi Aramco is unchanged.

"They need less lighter grades mainly due to the end of seasonal demand," said the source, who declined to be identified.

Gas at $4? Time to invest in oil

(Money Magazine) -- With tensions in the Middle East and North Africa pushing oil above $100 a barrel for the first time in two years, you may be clamoring for ways to offset rising gasoline and home heating bills.

So why not claim a stake in rising prices by investing in black gold?

As gas goes up, Ford and GM go down

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's hard to believe that it was only five months ago that General Motors made a triumphant return to the public markets.

‘Spillionaires’ are the new rich after BP oil spill payouts

So many people cashed in that they earned nicknames: “spillionaires” or “BP rich.” Others hurt by the spill wound up getting comparatively little. In the end, BP’s attempt to make things right — spending more than $16 billion so far, mostly on damage claims and cleanup — created new divisions and even new wrongs.

Some of the inequities arose from the chaos that followed the April 20 spill. But in at least one corner of Louisiana, the dramatic differences can be traced in part to local powerbrokers.

Pakistani team leaves for Tehran for gas line talks

A team of Pakistani officials Tuesday left for Tehran to hold talks with Iranian counterparts on the multi-billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, which Islamabad says will be completed by 2015, officials said.

Spending resources on coal alone a folly: study

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is spending resources on exploitation of its coal reserves at a time when the countries around the globe are phasing it out as the primary source of energy, says a study launched by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Whither oil prices? 150 in sight. So follow Bill Gates in to digital barrels.

The first two great eras of oil & gas technology are now mature. The first began a century ago with the rudimentary mechanical (by today’s standards, almost Tinker Toy like) drilling technologies yielded by the industrial revolution. The second emerged post World War II, using advanced materials and electro-mechanical tools and the sheer scale made possible by the 20th century’s engineering might epitomized by commonly safe massive off-shore oil platforms the likes of BP’s fateful Deepwater Horizon. The Third Oil Era now emerging piggy-backs the late 20th century information revolution which is now accelerating (again). In the oil field, information is now king.

Natural gas won't save us

If you do the math, you find that it doesn't take much escaping methane to cancel out the benefits of burning natural gas compared with coal or oil. Burning natural gas produces half the CO2 as burning coal, but methane has 20-25 times the warming potential as CO2.

The limits to solar thermal energy

It is very commonly assumed that we can move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources without significant change in the lifestyles and systems of rich countries. People might think that some things would have to be quite different, such as the kinds of cars they drive, but it seems to be taken for granted that the transition could be made without any threat to the growth economy, the free enterprise market system, or affluent living standards.

I do not think this is so and for some years have been trying to clarify the situation.

Fuel tax decline has cost 350,000 jobs

On the day the European Commission is set to propose an increase in the minimum level of road diesel taxation in Europe, a new study shows that average road fuel taxes in Europe have declined by 10 cents per litre in real terms since 1999. If taxes had been inflation-corrected and the revenues used to lower labour taxes, 350,000 jobs would have been saved, oil imports would have been cut by €11 billion, and road transport CO2 emissions would have been 6% lower, according to the report.

'Indigenous thinking can solve climate crises,' says Bolivia's foreign minister

Development, by the west, creates considerable imbalances and a million problems. Indigenous people can solve these, says David Choquehuanca, Bolivia's foreign minister.

Southern Chairman Fanning talks energy policy at U.S. Chamber

Southern Co. Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "CEO Leadership Series" Luncheon in Washington, D.C. the nation needs full portfolio of energy resources combined with a big R&D effort to create new energy technologies.

BP, Khodorkovsky and how Russia is ruled

The upside of BP's latest brawl in Russia is how much we are learning about how much the place works.

Rosneft: Will Likely Replace BP With New Arctic Partner - Sources

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russian state-controlled oil company OAO Rosneft told investors in London that BP PLC (BP) will almost certainly have to be replaced with another partner in an alliance to develop Arctic oil fields, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The comments from a Rosneft representative to investors Tuesday marked the first indication that the Russian oil company may be giving up on salvaging the landmark $16 billion deal with BP.

Radioactivity in the Ocean: Diluted, But Far from Harmless

With contaminated water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear complex continuing to pour into the Pacific, scientists are concerned about how that radioactivity might affect marine life. Although the ocean’s capacity to dilute radiation is huge, signs are that nuclear isotopes are already moving up the local food chain.

Energy Dept.: Extent of vehicle research cuts unclear

Energy Department officials said they don't know yet how much the government's vehicle research budget will be cut for the remainder of 2011.

How many Democrats on the Tucson council will vote to burden the poor even more tonight?

The City of Tucson should be promoting public transportation as much as possible, especially if they know anything about peak oil. Increasing bus fares on the poor is the exact opposite of the way they should be headed.

Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth

Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

El Alto, city of rural migrants whose crops failed when the climate changed

Rural Bolivians migrate to El Alto when their crops fail because of droughts, erratic rainfall, heatwaves, frosts and floods. Climate change – and Pachamama – are driving them into the city.

Britain's taste for cheap food that's killing Brazil's 'other wilderness'

An "upside-down forest" of small trees with deep roots, Brazil's wildlife-rich outback is home to a 20th of the world's species, including the spectacular blue and yellow macaw and giant armadillos.

Yet this vast wilderness – as big the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain put together – is being rapidly lost to feed the heavily carnivorous appetites of Britons and others.

Chronic illnesses lead to a childhood of limitations

Families became smaller, while homes grew bigger — large enough that parents no longer felt compelled to toss children outside to get a moment's peace. Inside, kids in the 1980s suddenly had access to air conditioning, cable TV, video games and home computers, Louv says.

As children spent less time outside, and schools cut back on recess to prepare kids for standardized tests, more kids began being diagnosed with asthma and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), says Edward Hallowell, a child psychiatrist for more than 30 years.

"I have no doubt that the trend for kids to go inside, with electronic gadgets, has resulted in more obesity and less attentive time," says Hallowell, author of Driven to Distraction. "There are kids that we think have ADHD, but they are really just electronically overstimulated and interpersonally understimulated."

New energy crisis; new investment choices

(Reuters) - "Green" investing was once dismissed as a hobby of the granola and sandals set.

But it's gone pinstripes in recent years as the rise of a sustainable goods consumer sector has broadened the sector. Japan's nuclear debacle and Middle East uprisings have added more urgency for investors looking to "clean up" their portfolios.

Big oil and nuclear were back in favor in the post-financial crisis. But new money flowed into the alternative energy sector in the first quarter of the year for the first time since 2009. Some of it was 'crisis investing' -- though some was triggered by President Barack Obama's plan to cut oil imports by a third over 10 years.

Pickens: We'll Cut OPEC in Half in 5-7 Years

BP Capital Founder T. Boone Pickens discusses the need for America to increase its use of natural gas.

Jupiter floatel sinking off Mexico

The Jupiter accommodation platform in the Gulf of Mexico has partially sunk after listing heavily on Tuesday, operator Pemex said.

“After several attempts to rescue the platform failed, it partially sank at 14:30 (local time),” said Pemex in a statement.

Argentine oil workers strike causes fuel shortage across country

A strike by Argentine oil workers in the country's southern Patagonia region is causing fuel shortages across the country, especially in the capital.

The protests for better salaries and working conditions have mainly affected companies working in San Jorge Gulf, which is home to 90 percent of Argentina's oil production, according to local press.

Va. Dem Bucks Administration on Offshore Leasing

"As gas prices rise, in part due to America's dependence on foreign oil, we must pursue robust energy policies that include the expansion of our domestic energy resources in a safe and secure manner, as well as conservation and clean energy measures," Webb said in a statement issued by his office last week.

He also asked Obama to expand the 2.9-million acre tract -- slightly larger than Delaware -- located 50 miles off Virginia's shore that was previously considered for drilling.

Bay of Oil?

On the heels of the President’s recent visit to Brazil where he announced that he’s all in favor of helping their country develop its oil and gas drilling, we now read news about Cuba seeking their own energy independence. And it makes one wonder, has the United States traded economic systems with Cuba?

Offshore Regulation Could Grow

The Obama administration is exploring whether to expand federal oversight of offshore drilling beyond oil and gas companies to rig suppliers, oil field services providers and other contractors now outside regulators' reach.

Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, told reporters Tuesday that the existing system imposes artificial limits on what his agency can do to make offshore drilling safer. Its enforcement power now ends with oil and gas companies that hold leases to drill in U.S. waters.

Horror at gas drilling plans

Bridgend-based Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd has applied for planning permission to drill a test bore hole at Llandow industrial estate.

But campaigners fear that if the tests successfully find gas the company could use the controversial process known as fracking to access it with what they say are potentially devastating consequences for the local environment.

Nepalese minister stabbed, police detain 150

KATHMANDU — Police in Nepal rounded up 150 suspects on Tuesday as part of a hunt for two assailants who stabbed the country's new energy minister just hours after he was appointed.

...The attack occurred during one of the rolling 14-hour power outages that have blighted daily life in Kathmandu and elsewhere, due to a national energy crisis that would be Bista's top priority as minister.

Tokyo Data Centers Face Possible Uptime Problems

(The Hosting News) – Despite the energy crisis caused by last month’s earthquake, Tokyo-based data centers have not faced many problems due to power shortages. However, this could change over the summer if the Japanese government implements rolling blackouts. Such blackouts may be performed by Japanese utility companies in order to preserve enough power for the entire nation.

8 red hot small cars

Gas prices are up and so are small car sales. Here are some tiny rides that should absolutely be on your shopping list.

Rob Hopkins: How Climate Change Puts Globalization in Reverse

Painting climate change as sheer disaster without offering an alternative vision blows people’s world to pieces and offers them nothing. This is what Rob Hopkins, an environmental grassroots campaign award-winner, sees as a significant challenge to roping people into cutting their carbon emissions. Hopkins speaks about his global forecast in this thirteenth, and final, video in the series "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" from The Nation and On The Earth Productions. The future world will be much more localized, which is not such a gloomy picture, he says.

Hopkins argues that high energy prices should be seen as a positive push towards a new economic model, noting that high oil prices encouraged the US to start producing its own steel again. He likens state-sponsored oil subsidies to giving liquor store discount coupons to an alcoholic relative.

This necessary transition will be like reverse globalization, and will undoubtedly be an enormous shock to the population, he says. “But then, so was the process we’ve seen over the last 50 years. It drove farmers to suicide, it bankrupted lots of people and it drove many millions of people off of the land. As we go back the other way it will be a process that throws open many opportunities for people who are entrepreneurial, imaginative and creative.”

OPEC marginally raises global oil demand forecast for 2011

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has raised its forecast for worldwide oil demand in 2011 to 87.9 million barrels per day from the previous month's forecast of 87.8 million bpd, OPEC said on Wednesday.

"The most important incident is the Japanese earthquake, which is expected to affect oil demand only marginally," OPEC said in its report.

No plans to review gas prices for Ukraine - Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday dismissed reports that Russia and Ukraine agreed to discuss and possibly review the gas pricing formula.

IAEA defends late Japan nuclear severity upgrade

Japan's decision to wait until now to raise the ranking of its nuclear disaster to the most severe level on the global scale does not mean that Tokyo authorities have been downplaying the disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Greece's PPC, China's Sinovel sign wind power deal

(Reuters) - Dominant Greek power producer PPC said on Wednesday it signed an agreement to develop renewable energy projects with Sinovel Wind, China's top wind turbine maker.

The deal adds clout to PPC's ambitious plan to shed part of its polluting coal-fired power plants to become a clean energy powerhouse.

If Flying Isn’t Green, Can the Airport Wait Be?

The art-filled terminal, known as T2, features Danish modern furniture, organic chow, 350 power outlets, free Wi-Fi and other creature comforts and innovations designed to cut the building’s energy footprint while making air travel, dare we say it, more fun.

U.S. on track to meet 1 mln plug-in autos goal-DOE

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama's goal of having 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 is on its way to being met, a Department of Energy official said on Wednesday.

"It's looking good," said Assistant Energy Secretary David Sandalow when asked by reporters on the chances of meeting the goal set by Obama.

Thinking globally and acting locally

UAE and three other nations have agreed to set up a network of eco-friendly cities.

UW Assistant Professor Awarded $5 Million Grant for Sustainable Community Food Project

A University of Wyoming professor is leading a $5-million, multi-state project to build community food systems that nourish populations in both current and future generations.

Book review: The New North: The World in 2050

Smith focuses on the eight countries which control territories bordering the Arctic Ocean - the United States, Canada, Iceland, Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. He calls them the Northern Rim countries or NORCs. He then sets out to imagine - with the help of demographic statistics, climate change models and projections for resource demand and globalisation - what these countries might be like by the year 2050. His aim, he says, is to construct a probable future, even if it comes at the expense of a good story.

Jeff Rubin: Where is Saudi’s excess capacity when you need it?

Exactly how high do oil prices have to rise before Saudi Arabia will start using it supposed three million barrels of spare capacity?

Does Saudi Aramco intend to stay on the sidelines watching Brent crude prices - already $120 per barrel - climb as high as $200 (U.S.) per barrel, while blaming speculators for distorting market fundamentals?

Crude oil drops more than 3% on Goldman warning

NEW YORK — Crude oil tumbled more than 3% Tuesday after Goldman Sachs warned investors that crude is due for a “substantial pullback.”

Goldman analyst David Greely said global supplies remain “adequate” even though the rebellion in Libya shut down production there. Before fighting broke out in February, Libya exported about 1.5 million barrels per day, 2% of global demand — mostly to Europe.

Crude Oil Rises For the First Time in Three Days Before U.S. Supply Report

Oil rose for the first time in three days before an Energy Department report forecast to show that gasoline supplies declined for an eighth week in the U.S., the world’s largest crude consumer.

Gasoline stockpiles probably declined 1 million barrels from 216.7 million barrels in the longest stretch of declines since the summer of 2008, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts before today’s data. Oil dropped as much as 0.6 percent in London earlier as Libyan rebels said they would accept a Turkey peace proposal if it includes an agreement for leader Muammar Qaddafi to relinquish power.

Drivers start to cut back on gas as prices rise

"More people are going to work," said John Gamel, director of gasoline research for MasterCard. "That means more people are driving and they should be buying more gas."

Instead, about 70 percent of the nation's major gas-station chains say sales have fallen, according to a March survey by the Oil Price Information Service. More than half reported a drop of 3 percent or more — the sharpest since the summer of 2008, when gas soared past $4 a gallon. Now it's creeping toward $4 again.

Global oil demand takes hit from unrest

Global oil demand has fallen in response to sharply higher oil prices, and the stage may be set for a structural drop in crude demand and more price volatility.

Dust storm halts Kuwait oil exports

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – OPEC member Kuwait on Wednesday halted oil exports as a "precautionary measure" after a blinding dust storm hit the desert Gulf state, a Kuwait Petroleum Corp spokesman said.

Oil exports from terminals, facilities to receive vessels and some maintenance works at oil refineries were "halted as a precautionary measure", Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah said in a KPC statement.

Ukraine's ex-PM accused over Russia gas deals

KIEV (AFP) – Ukraine on Monday accused former premier and Orange Revolution leader Yulia Tymoshenko of costing her government almost $200 million by signing excessively expensive natural gas deals with Russia.

Dubai aims for energy shift from oil to gas

Dubai, which currently burns oil for a large part of its electricity supply, plans to generate 70 per cent of its power with natural gas.

The rest would come from coal, nuclear energy and renewable sources, said Saeed al Tayer, the chief executive of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).

The Gas Revolution

Amazingly, an era of energy abundance is upon us, unless politicians and environmentalists get their way.

Gas drilling's promise, perils rile townsfolk

Ron Hilliard came back from church one Sunday to find hundreds of plastic $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills hanging on his fence in Flower Mound, Texas, another message from townsfolk angry at him for signing a lucrative natural gas drilling lease for his suburban Dallas property.

In Damascus, Pa., about 1,500 miles away, drilling advocate Marian Schweighofer awoke one morning to the word "LORAX" — from the Dr. Seuss book about environmental destruction — spray-painted on the road near her family's 712-acre farm.

Hilliard and Schweighofer have never met, yet both are living with the nastiness and rancor erupting in communities nationwide over the volatile issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Fracking shale for gas brings wealth, concerns

Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling process that blasts large amounts of water deep into the earth to fracture dense shale and allow natural gas to escape.

The water — from a few hundred thousand to several million gallons — is mixed with sand and chemicals — some of them toxic or potentially carcinogenic. Some of that fracking liquid then gushes back to the surface, often with natural underground brine, in a brew that is intensely salty and often contains barium, strontium and sometimes radium from the earth.

In Texas and other states, the liquids are disposed of in deep injection wells; Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that routinely allows fracking wastewater to be partially treated and dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.

Shale gas as dirty as 'oil, coal': study

PARIS (AFP) – Shale gas, an energy source enjoying a boom in North America and Europe, carries a greater carbon footprint than oil, coal and conventional gas over at least a 20-year period, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Checking in with Iraqi Stability

The future of global oil supply, and the timing and height of peak oil, depend critically on whether and when Iraq can markedly increase its oil production. A precondition for increased oil production is adequate political stability in the country. So it's good to check-in every so often on how the statistics in the Brookings Iraq Index are tracking.

Iran LNG Says It Will Overcome Sanctions to Start Exporting Fuel in 2012

Iran Liquefied Natural Gas Co., the country’s maiden LNG project, says it's poised to begin exporting by the end of next year after tapping domestic funds to beat international sanctions.

Upheavals in Africa threaten oil exports

Violence is on the rise again in parts of Africa, clouding the outlook for oil exports from more than one nation.

While the armed conflict in Libya has grabbed the most attention from oil traders, the deadly election-related violence in Nigeria could threaten oil output from a second African Opec producer. Even the post-election military clash in Ivory Coast, which is not an oil exporter, could affect future supplies of prized light, sweet African crude.

Clinton's ‘Failed State’ Warning Hangs Over Libya as NATO Can't Stem Chaos

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s early warning that Libya may become a failed state risks turning into reality as three weeks of Western military intervention have failed to stem the chaos that’s split the country in half.

Libya rebels aim to boost oil exports, receive aid

DOHA, April 13 (Reuters) - Rebels trying to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi want to increase their exports of crude oil to secure food and other humanitarian aid, a spokesman for the Libyan National Council said on Wednesday.

The rebels control fields that currently pump 100,000 barrels per day of crude, Mahmud Awad Shammam told reporters, but are only exporting what he termed a "minimal" amount of oil.

Qatar confirms helping Libyan rebel sell oil

Qatar is confirming it sold oil from Libya's rebel-held areas earlier this month and says it has also shipped fuel into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

The Gulf nation says it has delivered four shipments of fuel to Benghazi, the main opposition-held city in eastern Libya, including diesel, propane and gasoline. It also says it marketed a million barrels of oil loaded in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk last week.

Fitch Downgrades, Withdraws Libya's Credit Rating

LONDON -- Fitch Ratings on Wednesday announced that it had downgraded Libya's long-term credit rating to B from BB, removing the ratings from Ratings Watch Negative and assigning them a stable outlook. Fitch said it had simultaneously "withdrawn" all ratings because it doesn't have enough information to maintain coverage of the strife-torn issuer.

Delegates Meet in Support of Libya Rebels

DOHA, Qatar — — NATO, Arab and African ministers met with Libya’s rebels here on Wednesday in a show of support for insurgents who are seeking to overthrow Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi against a backdrop of division over the pace of coalition air attacks on pro-Qaddafi forces.

Libyan rebels urge stronger US military role

DOHA, Qatar – A spokesman for Libyan rebels urged the U.S. military Wednesday to reassert a stronger role in the NATO-led air campaign or risk more civilian casualties in the stalemate fighting between Moammar Gadhafi and forces seeking to end his four-decade rule.

The appeal by the spokesman, Mahmoud Shammam, appeared to set the urgent tone for the rebels' meetings with the U.N.'s secretary-general and other top Western and Arab envoys as they gathered in Qatar's capital to discuss ways to end the Libyan crisis.

Syria Presses Crackdown in Two Cities on Coast

CAIRO — The security crackdown on Syria’s coastal region tightened on Tuesday, with checkpoints blocking off access to the city of Baniyas and its outlying areas and a violent raid by government security forces on the nearby village of Bayda, local human rights advocates said.

In new protest, Syrian women block main highway

BEIRUT – Thousands of Syrian women and children holding white flags and olive branches blocked a main coastal highway Wednesday to protest a crackdown by Syrian authorities on opponents of President Bashar Assad's authoritarian regime, eyewitnesses said.

The crowd was demanding the release of hundreds of men who have been rounded up by authorities in the northeastern villages of Bayda and Beit Jnad in the area in recent days. Some 200 people have been killed during more than three weeks of unrest, said Syria's leading pro-democracy group, the Damascus Declaration.

Rival Military Factions Clash in Yemen

SANA, Yemen — Fighting broke out late Tuesday between rival military factions near the capital, leaving at least one soldier from the forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar dead. It was the first clash between the two sides here since General Ahmar announced his support for the country’s antigovernment forces three weeks ago.

Egypt's Mubarak detained for investigation

CAIRO – Egypt's prosecutor general announced Wednesday the 15-day detention of former President Hosni Mubarak pending inquiries into accusations of corruption, abuse of authority and the killings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him from power.

A separate announcement said Mubarak's two sons were detained for questioning in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the family has lived since the president's ouster on Feb. 11 in a popular uprising. The sons, Gamal and his businessman brother Alaa, were transferred Wednesday to a Cairo prison.

Analysis: Russian Internet attacks stifle political dissent

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian hacker attacks on the country's biggest blog site and a spy agency's warning to Gmail and Skype have raised fears that authorities are tightening their grip on dissent in a China-like assault on free speech.

With an eye on Arab unrest that has toppled two North African leaders and spurred Western military intervention in Libya, Moscow is keen to defuse potential turmoil ahead of a December parliamentary election and a 2012 presidential vote.

Transocean claims record sea depth for oil drilling

ZURICH (AFP) – Offshore oil drilling group Transocean claimed Tuesday that it had a set a world record for deep water drilling at an ocean depth of 3,107 metres (10,194 feet) off the coast of India.

The depth was achieved by the ultra-deepwater drillship Dhirubhai Deepwater KG2, surpassing the previous record of 10,011 feet, also set by Transocean in 2003 in the Gulf of Mexico, the group said in a statement.

Government weighs more drilling contractor oversight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. offshore drilling regulator is weighing options for expanding oversight of rig contractors after last year's massive BP Plc oil spill exposed a possible regulatory gap, Interior official Michael Bromwich said on Tuesday.

BP faces wave of protests at AGM

Oil giant BP is facing a wave of protests as it holds its annual general meeting in London days before the first anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

BP Spill Fund Administrator Tells U.S. Judge to Stay Out of Claims Process

The U.S. judge in charge of hundreds of BP Plc (BP/) oil spill-related damages lawsuits shouldn’t -- and legally can’t -- take charge of the claims-payment process, said the head of BP Plc’s $20 billion spill fund.

Damage from BP oil spill lingers a year later

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – The worst maritime oil spill in history began nearly a year ago with a drop in pressure in a poorly drilled well deep in the Gulf of Mexico. It hasn't really ended even though BP's runaway well was eventually capped 87 days later.

As crews in Japan struggle to contain a nuclear meltdown at a poorly maintained plant in Fukushima, the April 20 anniversary of the BP spill is a stark reminder of the high costs of our energy needs and the far-reaching consequences of cutting corners on safety.

BP, government win 1st Amendment Muzzle awards

RICHMOND, Va. – Oil giant BP and the Obama administration were among the winners of the Jefferson Muzzle awards, given Wednesday by a free-speech group to those it considered the worst First Amendment violators in 2010.

BP and the government appeared on the list, compiled by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, for their roles in restricting news media access to the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Japan Hit by Aftershocks as Jaczko Says Nuclear Crisis Is Yet to Stabilize

Japan’s crippled nuclear station is yet to stabilize and the reactors must be kept cool to prevent the crisis from deteriorating, the U.S. atomic regulator said, as more aftershocks rocked the country.

“Currently the situation is static,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday, after Japan raised the severity rating of the accident to the same level as Chernobyl. “It is not yet, however, what we believe to be stable” and “significant additional problems” could still occur at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, he said in Washington.

Evacuees slam Japan nuclear plant operator

TOKYO – Angry residents forced from their homes near Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear power plant protested at the Tokyo headquarters of the plant's operator Wednesday, demanding compensation as the company's president pledged to do more to help.

"I can't work and that means I have no money," said Shigeaki Konno, 73, an auto repair mechanic, who lived seven miles (11 kilometers) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant before the area was evacuated due to leaking radiation. "The talk about compensation is not concrete. We need it quickly."

Tokyo Electric Chief Defends Response to Nuclear Crisis; Pledges Pay Cuts

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s chief defended the utility’s response to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl and pledged executive pay cuts as workers struggle to stop radiation leaks from a crippled atomic station.

Japanese Officials on Defensive as Nuclear Alert Level Rises

TOKYO — Japanese officials struggled through the day on Tuesday to explain why it had taken them a month to disclose large-scale releases of radioactive material in mid-March at a crippled nuclear power plant, as the government and an electric utility disagreed on the extent of continuing problems there.

Hitachi, GE Submit Proposal to Dismantle Crippled Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Hitachi Ltd. (6501) and General Electric Co. (GE) submitted a plan to dismantle the crippled Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant they helped build as Japanese engineers battle to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Keeping Score on Nuclear Accidents

Now that Japan has raised its assessment of the Fukushima accident to a 7 on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s scale, equal to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, it may be time to review past accidents. Thomas B. Cochran, a physicist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, just did that in preparing to testify on Tuesday afternoon before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Quake-Prone Taiwan Halts Nuclear Expansion as Japan Struggles at Fukushima

Taiwan Power Co., which operates the island’s three atomic-power plants and is building a fourth, halted plans for additional reactors after an earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear plant in Japan.

Shift to dry storage sought for U.S. nuclear fuel

ATHENS, Ala. — Tons of radioactive waste is piling up at U.S. nuclear power plants in water-filled pools, and some experts say dry-cask storage is safer.

When fear wins, we all lose

As the frantic struggle to control damaged nuclear reactors in Japan shifts into a longer term battle to minimize the damage, some lessons begin to appear. One is that the fear itself could do more damage than what we're afraid of in the first place.

Atop new poll, Trump slams China, OPEC and Obama

Under a President Trump, China would be forced to end currency manipulation or face a 25 percent tariff on all exports to the United States. OPEC oil-producing nations would have to drop the price of a barrel or oil to $40-50 or face America's wrath. And Arab nations and South Korea would pay for benefiting from America's military might.

Mines prof says Obama, Salazar stalling on oil shale the way Bush did on climate change

Dr. Jeremy Boak, a leading expert on oil shale technology at the Colorado School of Mines, says the Obama administration is dragging its feet on oil shale production in the United States much the way the Bush administration stalled on climate change policy.

What’s the Alternative to Oil Sands?

I can recall when technologies like oil sands and coal gasification were commonly referred to as alternative energy, with the same high-tech aura now attached to solar power and advanced biofuels. Much has changed since then, not least our perspective on climate change and the greenhouse gases that contribute to it. It's no longer possible to consider Canada's oil sands production and the means of transporting it without a serious examination of the environmental consequences, both at the source and along its journey to market. However, while I understand that perspective, the reaction to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline seems disconnected from the reality that crucial supplies of Middle Eastern oil suddenly look much riskier than they did. We should certainly weigh the costs and benefits of oil sands carefully, but the missing element from this conversation is the question of what the alternative would be if we ruled out more oil sands imports.

UK faces a gruelling race against time to meet its electric car targets

If you are driving through North London in an electric car, head to Sainsbury's in Islington for a guaranteed free parking place and charging point.

For more than a year now, two freshly painted spaces have been waiting for electric car customers. I have never seen them used.

But this year is supposed to be the one when driving an electric car becomes a reality across the UK.

Greenest cars? Gas prices drive interest in fuel economy

As gas prices rise, consumers are more interested in buying cars with better fuel economy and -- good news! -- there's more eco-friendly cars on the market this year, Kelley Blue Book reports Tuesday.

The greenest car you've (likely) never heard of

GREENSBURG, Indiana (AFP) – The greenest car you've likely never heard of will soon be hitting Honda showrooms across the United States as the Japanese automaker expands sales of its compressed natural gas powered Civic.

Believers in 'peak oil' preparing for when a fill-up costs $100

Standing in the state Capitol basement is a new symbol that times have changed: an electric vehicle charging station.

Hawaii may have only a few electric cars so far, but state law requires large public parking structures to have at least one charging station. As many as 320 of the 2-foot-tall systems are expected to be installed across the state.

It is part of the answer to the looming crisis of peak oil, which is defined as the time when global oil extraction reaches its maximum rate and the rate of extraction declines.

Calif. sets nation's highest renewable power goals

MILPITAS, Calif. – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation requiring California utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources, giving the state the most aggressive alternative energy mandate in the U.S.

California utilities and other electricity providers have until the end of 2020 to draw 33 percent of their power from solar panels, windmills and other renewable sources.

A Nobel Prize for Renewable Energy

What better way to raise awareness of the issues surrounding depleting oil and global warming, and the role our oil- and coal-driven economy plays in both than to create the buzz of a Nobel Prize?

US Energy Department backs Calif. solar projects

Federal energy officials are putting financial support behind two huge solar energy projects in California that could create hundreds of jobs and power 145,000 homes.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday announced a conditional offer of $1.2 billion in loan guarantees for the California Valley Solar Ranch project on the state's Central Coast. The project would use new technology to follow the sun, increasing efficiency.

Oregon cowboy town promotes solar energy

Rural Pendleton is blazing an unlikely renewable energy trail, offering no-interest loans to spark interest in solar power and a group-buy philosophy to get better prices. More than 50 residents installed systems last year, and the program was expanded to more residents and to include businesses this year.

The need for biofuels

EXPERTS predict the majority of the world’s oil fields will reach maximum petroleum extraction capacity in 2020, a state otherwise known as “peak oil”. After this point, a reduction in pressure causes the rate of production to enter a state of terminal decline.

Some quarters even claim the official predictions are misleadingly optimistic and that the world has in fact, already surpassed peak oil.

Current biofuels policies are unethical, says UK report

Current UK and European policies on biofuels encourage unethical practices, says a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics today following an 18-month inquiry. Policies such as the European Renewable Energy Directive are particularly weak when it comes to protecting the environment, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding human rights violations in developing countries. They also include few incentives for the development of new biofuel technologies that could help avoid these problems.

As population increases, so does demand for food

Food -- its availability and its price -- is becoming a major concern around the world, and this time it includes the United States where citizens have seldom had to worry about their food supply. We are more concerned over the second highest obesity rate in the world. The current situation is due to a confluence of nature-induced problems from droughts and floods to insect infestations. It is also rapidly increasing demand from third-world countries who all want the same lifestyle that we have always enjoyed.

High Prices Sow Seeds of Erosion

When prices for corn and soybeans surged last fall, Bill Hammitt, a farmer in the fertile hill country of western Iowa, began to see the bulldozers come out, clearing steep hillsides of trees and pastureland to make way for more acres of the state’s staple crops. Now, as spring planting begins, with the chance of drenching rains, Mr. Hammitt worries that such steep ground is at high risk for soil erosion — a farmland scourge that feels as distant to most Americans as tales of the Dust Bowl and Woody Guthrie ballads.

Long in decline, erosion is once again rearing as a threat because of an aggressive push to plant on more land, changing weather patterns and inadequate enforcement of protections, scientists and environmentalists say.

Congress, in a First, Removes an Animal From the Endangered Species List

Congress for the first time is directly intervening in the Endangered Species List and removing an animal from it, establishing a precedent for political influence over the list that has outraged environmental groups.

A rider to the Congressional budget measure agreed to last weekend dictates that wolves in Montana and Idaho be taken off the endangered species list and managed instead by state wildlife agencies, which is in direct opposition to a federal judge’s recent decision forbidding the Interior Department to take such an action.

Marijuana Growing Gobbles Electricity, Study Finds

A new study estimates that indoor pot-growing operations in the United States burn about $5 billion worth of electricity annually, or roughly 1 percent of national power consumption. That’s enough electricity to power two million average homes.

As the Mountaintops Fall, a Coal Town Vanishes

A couple of years ago, a subsidiary of Massey Energy, which owns a sprawling mine operation behind and above the Richmond home, bought up Lindytown. Many of its residents signed Massey-proffered documents in which they also agreed not to sue, testify against, seek inspection of or “make adverse comment” about coal-mining operations in the vicinity.

You might say that both parties were motivated. Massey preferred not to have people living so close to its mountaintop mining operations. And the residents, some with area roots deep into the 19th century, preferred not to live amid a dusty industrial operation that was altering the natural world about them. So the Greens sold, as did the Cooks, and the Workmans, and the Webbs ...

Indians Join Fight for an Oklahoma Lake’s Flow

TUSKAHOMA, Okla. — Sardis Lake, a reservoir in southeastern Oklahoma young enough to have drowned saplings still poking through its surface and old enough to have become a renowned bass fishery, is not wanting for suitors.

Oklahoma City and fast-growing suburbs like Edmond want to see the water flowing through their shower heads someday. So do the water masters of Tarrant County, Tex., 200 miles to the south, who are looking to supply new subdivisions around Fort Worth and are suing for access.

Now another rival has arrived: the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, who were exiled to southeastern Oklahoma 175 years ago and given land in the area.

China's green progress leaves US red-faced

When it comes to responding to climate change, the contrast between China and the United States is stark.

It has been clear for some time that the Asian powerhouse is moving more rapidly on renewable technologies. A recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts shows China led the world last year with a $54.4bn investment in clean technology, about 40% higher than third-placed America.

Some interesting things I discovered this morning while studying US federal budget receipts and outlays.

Total net receipts for 2009 were only 82% of 2007 and are projected to be 84.3% for 2010. This includes all FICA and SSI payments. What will 2011 be? 2012?

Then further down the list it shows Transportation fuels receipts went negative in 2005 and are now showing negative receipts of 10.3 billion dollars. Is this a fuel tax subsidy? Perhaps some one can expand on the fuel tax.


Data not shown on this website were taken from a 2011 world almanac.

In Millions
2007 2,568,001
2009 2,104,995
2010 2,165,119 P

Payroll tax has been decreased from about 14% to about 12% it is the tax that fund social security. So that social security will appear to be in trouble. Of course there is the 2.5 trillion dollars that are owed to social security by the federal government.

Of course we need to take into account inflation which even if the government says 0% I would say about 10% per year. Also we need to take into account the increasing population at about 1% annually.

If we says social security is off-budget because it has its own tax revenue then we find that about 45% of federal spending is borrowed or printed (monitarized). Of course this does not take into account the wars spending which is off-budget.

As long as the fools keep sending us oil and manufactured goods for green pieces of paper we are fine.

Your rant is really hard to follow.
Too much snark, really it's all snark.
The US has been operating like this for 50 years and scaremongers have been predicting its imminent fiscal collapse for 50 years and relatively speaking its in better shape that the rest of the OECD. Do you really think that 50 years of Medicare and 75 years of SS are going to bankrupt the US? The US will probably be the last country to go broke.
Our problem is that the economics of making a living is changing.
Free-trade, libertarianism, automation and the internet are killing opportunity for all but the richest.
Americans as a whole are becoming poor (i.e. don't have money).
Inflation didn't cause that--low wages did.
Eight years of free-market deregulation, free-trade, trickle-down, and tax cuts have sucked out the insides of the USA and shipped them overseas.
Uncontrolled corporate merging to achieve higher levels of efficiency have
destroyed huge numbers of job creating local, regional businesses.
A half dozen banks control 2/3s of US banking.
This is what people need to worry about.

In the 19th century, trusts dominated the US economy and politics.
We are in the same position today and the remedy is the same--strong government action.


re: Checking in with Iraqi Stability (up top)

If the remaining US troops do exit Iraq by the end of this year, Wouldn't Iran ramp up their meddling there? And, how will Iraq ever ramp up production then? I think Politics, here, for the 2012 election cycle, will cause some unwise decisions to be made. The IEA seems to have such high hopes for Iraq, I don't know...

Wouldn't Iran ramp up their meddling there?

It's hard to imagine how Iran could meddle more in Iraq than it is currently...

Oh, I dunno - they could have invaded with 150,000 troops and occupied the country for the last 8 years.

The truth is that Iran barely lifted a finger - and much of what is being coded under the rubric "meddling" is in actuality better understood as politics, diplomacy, commerce and the execution of foreign/security policy.

londanium +10

Agree completely.

I wonder how high gasoline prices need to be before car manufacturers stop trying to pack in more horsepower and instead focus on improving fuel economy.

New Chevrolet Camaro will outpower Ford Mustang

Camaro, already outselling Mustang, gets boost to 323 horsepower, topping rival's 305.

The base engine, a 3.6-liter V-6 with gasoline direct injection, gets an 11-horsepower boost, to 323 horsepower, with no expected drop in fuel-economy ratings.

Thank God, the fuel economy stays the same. For a minute, I thought we were irresponsible about cars.

Trade your F150 in on a V6 Camero, and go from 14/18 to 17/29 city/highway mpg. An F250/2500 sort of truck would be more like 12-14 average on gas, or maybe 16-18 on diesel.

Convincing suburban males to trade a truck for a Prius will be hard. Trading the truck for a Camero or Mustang would be easier. The nation would save more fuel on that trade than replacing sports cars with hybrids. It's not about technology, really, but ingrained social norms.

As someone else said - a truck is a tool.

Sometimes you actually need to move something. For some people that sometimes is many times a week.

I wonder what percentage of truck owners use their trucks as tools (I do). I'll bet a hefty chunk of them never move anything. Heavens! It might scratch the paint job!

Ha Ha. sgage. I want an old beater truck myself to haul mulch and do yard work, but I instead load bags of things in a smaller car. I think we all need to evaluate what we need. Some people need a truck no doubt.

Maybe I can pickup a cheap pickup.

Seems the drop in oil price stopped.

My truck used to be brand new not that long ago - it's an old beater now! :-) I haul firewood, hay, bedding for animals, manure, sheep, road fill (we and our neighbors maintain our own road here), etc. etc. We also have a Subaru. We absolutely need 4-wheel drive - that's non-negotiable. In fact, right now you couldn't get halfway up our road without 4-wheel drive and good clearance. We call it "mud season", and it's in full bloom. It keeps the riff-raff out :-) It's pouring rain right now, just to add to the effect.

Get a trailer. I use one with my car. You can put a hitch on anything.

I'm getting a hankering to build one for my bike. The only thing bothering me is what happens when I put the brakes on downhill, there are a couple of short steep ones on my routes, does the trailer overtake me?


I was at a meeting in Houston a while back, and a guy gave me a ride in his commuting vehicle -- the biggest pickup truck I've ever been in. Then he proceeded to tailgate other drivers at 75 on the interstate. It was pretty new, but it showed no signs of having been used to haul anything.

For most people, though, a truck is a symbol. A student of mine who is also a farmer drives a very small truck with which he does lots and lots of work. He just shakes his head when he comes into town and sees hundred and hundreds of much much larger more powerful trucks on the road with one person in them going to work in a suit coat, the trucks immaculately clean, not a scratch or a dent--obviously not used regularly for any kind of serious work.

I agree with a friend of mine that owning trucks or truck-like vehicles should require a special permit that involves proving that you actually need the things for work that cannot reasonably done otherwise.

Mostly, though, we need to ban the now ubiquitous advertising for these monstrosities.

In the US it would be sufficient to simply include any vehicle with "luxury" accessories of any sort under the CAFE standards.

From the factory it should be vinyl upholstery, no AC, no radio or it counts as a "passenger car" and gets smacked with CAFE.

That is why I prefer direct fuel rationing over the mythical CAFE standards. It wouldn't matter what an individual chose to drive since if his share wasn't enough then he could buy someone else's unused share. What is important to keep in mind is the total amount of fuel used as a nation. CAFE on addresses the average amount per vehicle. A 10% improvement in CAFE could be canceled out by a 11% increase in the number of vehicles. The current method of using price a a rationing strategy means certain users like local governments must cut back on fuel use. That fire truck headed for your burning house may run out of fuel if it happens near the end of the fiscal year.

A gas tax is even better than rationing, since rationing generates more unintended consequences.

I don't think either one is politically feasible, we're just going to let the markets raise the prices and complain bitterly about those price gouging oil companies.

If I need a truck but drive say a few 10s of miles miles a day, I may use less gasoline than someone who drives 100 miles a day in a Prius.

Gasoline volume should be considered the variable to control. Not MPG.

MPG is meaningless really in terms of overall usage.

It is (Miles / MPG) that tells the story for an individual.

If I need a truck but drive say a few 10s of miles miles a day, I may use less gasoline than someone who drives 100 miles a day in a Prius.

I agree, at least to the extent that charging high annual license fees for something based upon mpg estimates isn't a good solution. It disciminates against the guy who has a large vehicle for occasional use.

I used to work in an office where the personnel guy drove a dually to work. Totally clean and unscratched. Must have needed it for all those files.

I have a '94 F250 with an extended cab, full size bed and dual tanks. It will haul over 40 bales of hay, tow the horse trailer, haul lumber or implements or whatever. It's kind of fun to drive sometimes in a way, but man I would never want to commute in that thing - it's a work truck and well suited for that. On any given day I could drive my 1500cc Hyundai or that truck, but it will cost me over $12 more to drive the truck. And that will be the solution to that particular problem.

I am not interested convincing those who drive various gas pigs to trade. They've had all the warning they need and time enough to get better positioned, and the fact that both the public and the manufacturers have ignored it is no surprise. The time for choices is passing quickly and the time for consequences is at hand. It's true that these types of vehicles are a symbol, but exactly what they symbolize is going to change.

It will haul over 40 bales of hay, tow the horse trailer, haul lumber or implements or whatever.

It's great to hear that your truck is actually working, but it is still an oversized truck for that job. Growing up on my family's farm (in Australia) we had a Nissan 720 series 1-tonner, 4 cyl, 2.2L diesel with 6'x8' drop side tray. It could also carry 40 bales, tow a horse float with two horses (once a 2000lb bull!), haul lumber, tow pasture harrows, a hay rake, etc etc. And do all that while using half the fuel of your F-250, and costing half to buy in the first place.

Even when they are used for work, the big gasoline engined pick ups are still an inefficient vehicle for the job. Fuel (and cost) efficiency has not been a part of the thinking American auto industry, or most of it's customers, since the Model T. And now, to challenge that way of thinking is deemed tantamount to challenging America itself - something's gotta give.

It's all a question of what capacity you "need" - a 720 is simply a much smaller truck. The F250 will carry 45 bales AND tow 2 horses up and down some significant hills, and has done so quite a few times. Not fast mind you, but safely and without complaint. I've had a small Ford Ranger with a 4cyl and found it very capable, but not for towing safely. It could get 28mpg empty, but empty is not the purpose of a truck.

Towing and hauling is not about the engine, it's about the chassis. The engine must be sized so that it can reasonably move the maximum load, and that is enough. Diesels are a bit better for this, but I could not have afforded one.

When the vehicle is empty then the small engined truck is more efficient, but when it is hauling then the fuel used is mostly determined by the load, and of course the point was that it should not spend much time driving around empty. The efficiency of an ICE working hard is about the same - one of the biggest advantages of a diesel is the better volumetric efficiency thanks to not having a throttle plate, but when the gas engine is loaded hard that's not much of an issue.

My particular truck has a 5.8L gas engine which is not over powered by any means. Most of these poser trucks have far more power, but they do not have the chassis to be able to handle a load.

As for purchase price, I paid $4000 a few years ago, while a diesel would have cost much more.

Finally, I do not pretend that what we use the truck for is a "need". The horses and their hay are at this point a hobby, and likely one we won't be able to afford for long. We drive too far to get organically grown hay from some friends of ours, etc. But it's been a great experience for the kids and I don't regret it. At some point we'll probably be down to the one Haflinger pony to pull a cart, if we're lucky enough to hang on to our place at all. In the mean time I get the advantage of having access to the truck for projects around here, and one big enough for whatever I need it to do. It's not a waste as it sits when not needed, while I drive the 1500cc vehicle I've had for 11 years.

Twilight, don't take what I said personally - what I'm really getting at is the in US and Canada, if you are hauling/ towing anything, you don;t really have much option other than the big PU's. They have restricted availability of diesels only to the super duty trucks, which makes them indeed prohibitively expensive.

If the truck is used just for carrying stuff, and you have another vehicle for transport that is a more energy efficient (but insurance inefficient) solution
if the midsize trucks were available with diesels there would be a lot of people taking that choice. if it means giving up the ability to carry 40 bales and tow the horses at the same time, then there is a choice to be made - but right now you don;t even have that choice.

And, if that choice were available, where this compact diesel pu could do you work duties, some (many?) people would also find it is economical enough to be their "car" as well, and save the ownership costs of a 2nd vehicle. It is commendable that you are operating in an oil efficient manner, but you are forced to pay 2nd car costs to do so.

I have thought many times that I really need MORE vehicles, so I can have appropriate tool for the job. The problem isn't having a truck, but having to use it for inapplicable tasks.

The notion of license and insurance fees following the vehicle when a person can drive only one at a time is somewhat silly. Right now I can borrow a truck when I need one, but I hate the liability and relationship friction of an accident or break-down. People talk about a car-share, but I think what is needed is a convenient truck-share or van-share program instead. The existing rental outlets are far away, prohibitively expensive, time consuming, and they have mostly the wrong sorts of vehicles.

I'll make you a deal--those involved in truck sharing would be exempt from the special license requirements I mentioned above. Now I just have to work on becoming king of the universe so I can implement my many brilliant (and occasionally silly) ideas!

Both Relay Rides and Zip Cars have solved the insurance issue. I think Relay Rides will be better than Zips because you can rent your own car out and put cash in your pocket. Right now, available just in Boston and San Francisco.

Use your car just a few hours a day? You're not alone! On average, most people drive their cars just 8% of the time or about 2 hours a day. The rest of the time they sit parked, completely underutilized.

With RelayRides, you can make your car available to your neighbors and earn money every time it's used. It's safe and convenient!

Worried about insurance? We provide a $1,000,000 policy so you are protected against loss or damage. Furthermore, every member's driving record is reviewed to ensure they meet our insurance company's standards.

Yair...I am very much persona non grata (?) on a few earthmover and truck sites because I am trying to understand the American preoccupation with a vehicle that to all intents and purposes (from the Australian work perspective) is as useless as tits on a bull.

I suppose the "styleside" or "fleetside" body is part of the "coolness" factor but, fair dinkum how can anyone put up with a work truck that has to be loaded in through the tailgate...it's crazy, particularly with a high 4x4 with oversized tyres.

I see that one of the "design criteria" for a full sized body is that an 8x4 sheet of ply or whatall should fit between the wheel arches...what a load of nonsense.

Very few work trucks are sold in Australia with anything but a drop side flat deck...the exeption being the trendy double cab four doorers that, in truth, are quite a handy vehicle...many do put a flat deck on them.

Most are available with a two point five to three litre common rail turbo/aftercooled diesel that in a 4x4 will give around thirty five miles per US gallon.

And I don't understand the use of (what to my eyes) are the gerry built monstrosities called "goosenecks". Blokes cart their skid steers, little excavators and dozers on them and I am trying to get a handle on how the system works.

If you have a digger it is assumed that you will be shifting dirt around or hauling it from a site.

I don't think I have ever seen a small contractor here haul his gear with anything but a tiptruck...often with one machine up on the tipping body and another couple of machines on the trailer...and some times a motorbike to get home again at night.

If you rock up to the work site with your digger on a gooseneck behind a pickup how the hell do you haul away the trash and rubbish if (for instance) you are preparing a house site...or haul in bedding sand and gravel?

Beats me how the US system works. They tell me it is to save on costs...that is to say one vehicle can be used as a daily driver as well as a prime mover for shifting loads. It wouldn't work for me, my work truck is full of dust and tools and crap.

The other thing of course is that US pickups are relitively inexpensive. The most popular "heavy duty" light truck here is the Toyota Landcruiser one tonne 4x4 tray back. I believe it is rated to tow three thousand five hundred kg, has a four and a half litre V8 diesel and sells at around sixty five grand.

I have a basic three litre diesel 4x4 Mazda (similar to Ford Ranger) single cab with a six by eight foot alloy tray. It cost me thirty grand last year.

It's not that complicated really - it's a truck with a big bin that you put stuff in. Gate is at the back. I suppose a side gate would be handy too, never been a big deal for me. Those lifted trucks are not actually used for anything, they're just symbols of stupidity - poser trucks. They are supposed to look like off-road machines, but that would get them dirty. I will say the F250 is plenty high though, and that's a bit of a pain compared to the Ranger.

But then again, you were just trying to say you like your way better, and that's fine - soon none of us will have fuel enough for any of this stuff.

Pickup trucks are an American phenomenon, shared to some extent with Canada and Australia. In most parts of the world - Latin America, Europe, Asia, you see them only in limited numbers.

This is to say nothing of size. I remember in the past pickups were smaller, and their drivers more courteous and laid back.

A common site on American roads for some time now is the absurdly oversized truck, with angry looking grille, speeding down the road, tailgating any poor vehicles that happen to be in their way. Count SUVs like the Suburban amongst them.

Is it the shock of the gas bill that makes them so mad?

Idiot cars for an idiot nation, if you ask me.

Yes. Everyone in America is an idiot. We are an idiot nation.

Generalize much?

Oh please. I guess I could use different language but you know what I mean.

If you had read my post you would clearly see that I have no problem with appropriately sized vehicles driven in a reasonable manner.

The idiots I refer to are the people speeding down the road in their huge vehicles, carrying only their obese bodies and no cargo at all.

There are millions of these people in this country. I have been to many countries around this world and have not witnessed this phenomenon anywhere else.

Grilles? What were they thinking? http://www.lincoln.com/crossovers/mkt/

My 'Pick-Up' has a 3000 lb payload, a 5 x 10 foot tabletop with removable sides and cost $2000 new. It goes behind every vehicle I have owned/used/borrowed and costs about $50 a year insurance.

I'm sure there are $50,000 reasons I need a real pick-up.

It's called appropriate technology. Too bad most people don't fathom that.

If the future worry is only fuel cost, sure.

But it will not matter whether a person has a 20mpg vehicle or a 100mpg vehicle if there is no fuel available....

Good link. There seems to be a real disconnect between what regular people actually need in the way of power for their cars and what the car companies are trying to push. There is really no need at all for ordinary family cars to be powered by 250 horsepower engines. Its sometimes instructive to hang out on the forums where cars are discussed. Lots of anger at the high cost of gas without a single thought about their own stupidity in buying gas guzzlers.

This whole discussion would only be useful if the oil production was stabilizing and the world population was stabilizing. You guys are taking pop shots at people who bought more vehicle than they needed, just because they could afford it. The reality of "peak-oil" is much worse than forcing upper middle class people to down size by one notch. You people act like if only those bad rich people would drive a Honda Civic, we would ALL be saved. WE WON'T! As we slide down the other side of the production curve, and population grows, there will be fire.

Eastex, I agree with your comments. However, because of "peak-oil" car manufacturers should be helping by designing for improved fuel efficiency versus increased horsepower.

You people act like if only those bad rich people would drive a Honda Civic, we would ALL be saved. WE WON'T!

Efficiency only helps in that it buys us time for more long term preparation. Like many other things in a post-peak or bumpy plateau world, we'll have to work with what we have. We're 20 years too late for efficiency to really help, but nobody cared about that on the upslope with cheap fuel.

I wonder how high gasoline prices need to be before car manufacturers stop trying to pack in more horsepower and instead focus on improving fuel economy.

The problem the US manufacturers have is that all the rest of the world's car manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient cars than they do. They can't compete on fuel economy, so they try to compete on horsepower instead.

I think the ultimate solution is that they will all go bankrupt. GM and Chrysler would have gone out of business in the last fuel price crisis if the US government hadn't bailed them out.

The problem the US manufacturers have is that all the rest of the world's car manufacturers produce more fuel-efficient cars than they do. They can't compete on fuel economy, so they try to compete on horsepower instead.

The most popular and one of the most fuel efficient cars in Europe is the Ford Fiesta! The European Ford Fiesta gets almost twice the fuel economy of the USA version of the Ford Fiesta. The difference is US Government regulations.
The Smart car in Europe gets twice the gas mileage of the USA version of the Smart car. Again, Government regulation.
Ford knows how to design and manufacture very high mileage cars (and trucks) and they do in other parts of the world, but here in the USA the Government regulations prevent the production of the high mileage cars and trucks that are available to most of the rest of the world.
And then the US Government has the gall to complain that there are no high mileage cars or trucks available in the USA.
Don't blame FORD, blame the US Government!

Jon Kutz, I don't think the reason is US government regulations. The ECOnetic sold in Europe is a diesel, versus a gasoline engine in the US.

The European Ford Fiesta gets almost twice the fuel economy of the USA version of the Ford Fiesta. The difference is US Government regulations.

Here is what Wikipedia lists for the Ford Fiesta:

The ECOnetic gets an estimated fuel consumption of 65 mpg-US (3.6 L/100 km; 78 mpg-imp). When tested on the highway mileage and emissions test schedules, on which hybrids are designed to perform well, the ECOnetic outperforms the Toyota Prius.

The model will not be available in the U.S. because, as Business Week noted, the company "doesn't believe it could charge enough to make money on an imported ECOnetic" and doesn't think it would sell enough of the model (350,000/year) to justify the $350 million in upgrades required at their Mexico plant to manufacture it in North America.

Perhaps once fuel prices rise enough Ford will make the 65 mpg diesel version available in the United States.

The Ford Fiesta and his engine is designed in Germany (Cologne)...

Ford is currently concentrating the design and construction capacities for all small and medium sized cars - including the small efficient 3/4 cylinder engines - for the world marked in Köln-Merkenich (Cologne, Germany).

By the way, "US government regulations" are in no way a reason for a significant lower mileage of US cars.

"US government regulations" are in no way a reason for a significant lower mileage of US cars.

I will respectfully disagree here.

There are numerous regulations that make the fleet mileage higher.

First, there have been the over zealous emissions rules for diesel engines. Large PU trucks were exempt for the longest time, so everyone thinks diesels are noisy and dirty and - "truck like". So all the carmakers, except VW make the call that it is not worth bringing in their diesel cars.

In this regard, gov regulations have played a part in shaping the market.

Arguably the biggest factor is very low fuel taxes. Euro level fuel taxes would have made a huge difference to the average mileage of cars. So this particular regulation , which has kept fuel very cheap for decades, has had a huge impact on the fleet average. people simply wouldn't buy large PU's for commuting if fuel was $8/gal.

You might argue that public opinion shaped the gov regulations, and you might be right, but regardless of what shaped the regs, the regs are there, everyone knows the fuel taxes aren;t changing, and this has has a profound impact on the fuel efficiency (or lack thereof) for N. American cars.

Oh wow, this argument is incredible. So the original post by Jon Kutz moans about "US Government regulations" stopping the production of highly efficient vehicles. This left me, and I'm sure many others, assuming he was referring to overbearing safety regulations etc, even though I've heard other people claim safety regulation in Europe are just as stringent.

It turns out the problem with "US Government regulations" is the lack thereof! Not indirectly forcing companies to supply the highly efficient cars since the disincentive through taxation is not high enough.

Unreasonable diesel regs are why there are no diesel cars and light trucks and SUVs.

Safety regs add weight and hurt mileage, too. But deaths are down.

I think it's a matter of demand more than anything. Diesels were terrible when first introduced, so have a bad reputation. Fuel prices also play a huge role.

Americans haven't been clamoring for diesels because our fuel is so comparatively inexpensive--and diesel engines cost so much more to manufacture. Diesel engines cost more because they require added equipment such as a turbocharger to make power levels close to a gas engine. They also need heavier-duty internal components to stand up to higher compression ratios. The time it takes to "pay back" the $1500 to $3000 cost premium of a diesel engine with fill-ups at the pump, is very long at current U.S. fuel prices. Consider a hypothetical $20,000 gas car that gets 30 mpg (3.33 gallons per 100 miles). Check the diesel engine option for $1500 and you'd see a 30 percent efficiency improvement (39 mpg or 2.56 g/100m). Over a 15,000-mile year, the diesel will save about 115 gallons. With our fuel prices, it would take more than four years to make back that $1500 investment. At six bucks a gallon for Euro diesel versus seven for gas, the payback is less than two years.

Leanan, per AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, today's average price is $3.812 per gallon for regular gasoline and $4.121 per gallon for diesel.

Per the September 2009 issue of Popular Mechanics (your Fuel prices link).

However if the U.S. fuel prices take off more abruptly than analysts predict, we could see a deeper penetration of both diesel and hybrid vehicles.

Based on today's prices, here is an update of the Popular Mechanics calculations which at that time were based on fuel prices around $2.60 per gallon:

Consider a hypothetical $20,000 gas car that gets 30 mpg (3.33 gallons per 100 miles). Check the diesel engine option for $1500 and you'd see a 30 percent efficiency improvement (39 mpg or 2.56 g/100m). Over a 15,000-mile year, the diesel will save about 115 gallons. With our fuel prices, it would take more than four years to make back that $1500 investment.

For gasoline: 15,000 miles / 30 mpg = 500 gallons at $3.812 => $1,906

For diesel: 15,000 miles / 39 mpg = 384.6 gallons at $4.121 => $1,585 ($321 dollars savings per year). Payback for $1500 diesel option is 4.7 years.

Even with todays higher prices the payback for the diesel engine, per this example, is still over 4 years. The cost savings of a diesel engine versus a gasoline engine is reduced since diesel fuel is presently 8% more expensive than regular gasoline.

To level the playing field, why don't we raise the US federal gasoline tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 24.4 cents per gallon (to match the diesel tax) so we are at least not discouraging the more efficient diesel vehicles?

I can't see gas taxes being raised any time soon. It would be political suicide.

Interesting numbers, but they aren;t quite accurate and don't tell the whole story.

A 30mpg car is already fairly fuel efficient, and while a diesel one is even better, the real fuel savings can be had with the bigger vehicles - trucks, SUV's and minivans, which are now 60% of US sales.

Also, consider that for the average mileage to be 15,000mi/yr, many vehicles will do much more.

And, a 30% efficiency improvement is lowballing the mileage difference with diesel.
Take a look at the specs for the Toyota Hilux (=Toyota Tacoma) Australian version


The gasoline engine version gets 13.3L/100km combined or 17.6mpg, and the diesel gets 8.3L/100km, or 28.2 mpg, a 60% increase

The price premium for the diesel is $2500 Aus.(=$2500US)

So, lets look at the driver of a Hilux truck doing 20,000 mi/yr;

Gasoline: 20,000/17.6 = 1136 gpy for $4330
Diesel: 20,000/28.6mpg=699gpy for $2881

Saving of $1449/yr, or a 1.6 yr payback.

If this is someone doing 30k miles/year they save $2170/yr. They will also visit a gas station 33 fewer times!

-the diesel engines last much longer, so for higher mileage drivers, they can get more life out of their vehicle.
-the diesel vehicles commands higher resale value, so not all the initial investment is "lost". if you sell the vehicle after five years you will probably get half the upgrade cost back
-the bigger/heavier the vehicle, the greater the benefits of diesel

So people who need to drive mid-larger vehicles, or drive them a lot, or both (contractors, delivery vans, travelling salesmen, etc) can get substantial benefits from diesel - if they were available.

The thing is, because they have never had this option, they just don;t know how much they are missing out.

$1500/yr is a lot to go from the driver's pocket to the oil co's - though I'm sure the oil co's are very appreciative.

So people who need to drive mid-larger vehicles, or drive them a lot, or both (contractors, delivery vans, travelling salesmen, etc) can get substantial benefits from diesel - if they were available.

IIRC it was RockyMntGuy who wrote some time ago that heavy oil has a much lower diesel yield. If true there is a problem with using more diesel, since heavy oil production as a percentage of total oil production will increase.

Heavy oil does normally produce a lower diesel portion, but you can adjust the refining processes to favour diesel -which obviously isn't done in the US.
Given that the US is an exporter of diesel product and an importer of gasoline product, I would say there is plenty of scope for switching vehicles to diesel.

Note I did not say switch all vehicles to diesel. If we assume the top 25% of vehicles, by annual miles driven, account for half the gasoline use, and replaced half of those with diesel, would eliminate about 2.25mbd of gasoline and replace with about 1.6mbd diesel for a saving of 0.65mbd. IF all the top 25% were replaced, you would have a 1.3mbd saving - that is one very large chunk of US imports removed.

One other variable, however small, is the increased insurance costs (comprehensive) for tiny cars (or decreased insurance costs for bigger cars). Our Chevy Metro costs as much as our sports car to insure even though it's 1/4th the value.

Just wanted to point out this number changer.

*On the topic of insurance, remember that if you ride a motorcycle, to pay extra for (upgraded) under/uninsured motorist coverage - you will want to be taken care of if some dumb kid with zero assets runs into you.

They also are not so good in the cold. I once had a small Luv (actually an Isuzu with GM markings). I lived in
Northern Wisconsin, and made sure not to drive it in situations where I might have to cold start it near or below 0F. It was also hard to get someone to fix it. Someone whose husband has a diesel mechanic claimed every model was different. In four years I only had two minor mechanical problems, both were fixed for under $40, but each problem took over a month to find someone who knew what to do. Perhaps things are getting better now.

That's something else that has gotten a lot better with time. I know a number of people in Canada who have VW diesels, and they seem to be able to get around just fine. I don't know whether they commonly use block heaters up there...

I sometimes have to remind my wife to use the glow plugs in the winter - she recently complained hers was hard to start, and she had forgotten to wait for the glow plug light to go off. Once the temp gets above about 50F I don't bother to wait for the things.

But how do the actual safety regulations compare? How much more stringent are the regulations in America compared to Western Europe, if at all, and how much weight does that add? I've had a search and can't find an obvious answer.

European crash test standards are less stringent. For that reason, the American version of the Smart Car weighs several hundred pounds more than the European version, and has reduced mileage.

Source? You could be right, but just because it weighs more doesn't mean it is due to crash test standards. That's why I want a comparison, because this claim keeps being trotted out but I haven't seen any proof.

Here's a quote by someone else with the opposite view point, though again no citation:

That is an urban myth. For one the regulations across Europe are much stricter than in the USA. That is why the Euro NCAP is the leading standard in the industry worldwide.

Without a citation both are just views by anonymous people on the internet, one is right and one is wrong. Perfect for people with a confirmation bias, useless for people who are only interested in fact.

I wonder how high gasoline prices need to be before car manufacturers stop trying to pack in more horsepower and instead focus on improving fuel economy.

When you actually start paying anywhere close to European prices.

Fright and question

"Under a President Trump, China would be forced to end currency manipulation or face a 25 percent tariff on all exports to the United States. OPEC oil-producing nations would have to drop the price of a barrel or oil to $40-50 or face America's wrath. And Arab nations and South Korea would pay for benefiting from America's military might."

I realize this is political nonsense (at least I hope it is), but it seems to me that Trump's grasp of reality is about as solid as his comb-over. Would an advisor be able to stand up to this bully? It does seem to me that this kind of absolutism is more related to the ME dictators we see on the news, rather than any realistic foreign policy. I suppose the myth of democracy that "anyone can grow up to be President (son)" does have its' embarrassing consequences. You poor people. America is such a great country and I do believe in the American people. You deserve better than this stupid system it has evolved into. As our compadre Forrest Gump is prone to say...."stupid is as stupid does"...(or was that.... says?)


Does any reader know of a site on the caliber of TOD that actually discusses individual solutions to PO and today's rapid changes....beyond survivalist crackpots?

The interest is out there and I read it in so many posts when folks state what they believe or are doing, how they try and make sense of the future unfolding. What are individuals doing to support their families going forward? The strength of our connected world is in the sharing of ideas. The Transition Society links seem too much sitting around in meetings rather than individual focus. In my rural neck of the woods, if a few of us tried to raise awareness or start up a transition movement we would be pretty much isolated and/or metaphorically run out on a rail.

Todd has his weekly lunches....part of me is kicking around the idea of organizing a regional conference, say central Vancouver Island (Nanaimo) which would be able to draw from Victoria to Hardy and of course, Vancouver. Any BC..ers out there want to kick this around? (Please email me) I think it is beyond one person to do unless you have nothing but time. I sure wouldn't mind trying to help set something up.

Isn't it time to be actively involved before the inevitable decline that must accompany decreasing energy availability kicks in? Paul N from Vancouver....what do you think? Maybe that crazy 'Gateway' and bridge/highway building spree could have been averted?


"Does any reader know of a site on the caliber of TOD that actually discusses individual solutions to PO and today's rapid changes....beyond survivalist crackpots?"

I know that the stated goal of TOD is to develop and propose ideas and policies for large scale change, though, even after thorough discussion, lots of data and some great ideas, we seem to be coming up short. The question I have is no longer if we will, but if we can mitigate our collective predicaments. Individual and local action may be the best solution at this point.

The "survivalist crackpots" may be as right as anyone. In a sense, TOD is still in the bargaining stage, which is OK by me.

I'm with you on that. I love a bargain!

I thought the Article on 'Fear doing more damage than the danger itself' is a theme that has been part of the Bargaining we've seen a lot of since Fukushima. In fact, if there is a lot of fear from the now confirmed dangers that these reactors still pose, then that IS also one of the dangers brought about BY nuclear energy. It works just like torture. It's not just how they pulled out your first tooth, but the fact that you still have a couple dozen teeth left, waiting for what could (all too likely) come next.

"The question I have is no longer if we will, but if we can mitigate our collective predicaments."

Sad to say, that's the way my thinking is also heading. I keep trying to raise the subject of "let's get together and do something together" when I come meet people locally that appear to be interested in our problems. I don't even try to broach the subject with the more Conservative people I meet anymore, I'm just rejected instantly with a "It's a fraud" or "That's Socialist/Communist", not just CC but PO or Sustainability, etc. On the Liberal side, yes, they want to talk about the problems, but it so often seems that that's about as far as they want to go. Sit and talk about what others are doing wrong, they still seem to be in denial that we actually need to do something ourselves. I want to get people together to do things and learn from each other to change how we live. It's a constant struggle! The sad thing is that it seems that the people who actually will do something in their own lives is going to remain a small, truly insignificant, minority.

I wonder what the definition of "Survivalist Crackpot" truly is? Sometimes it seems that this term applies to anyone who decides to strike out and make changes on their own, not just those who move out into the wilderness to make a go of it on their own.

Environmentalists do not really fit with either the traditional left or right in politics. To the extent that environmentalists are concerned about consumption of resources, they would be at odds with traditional socialist/labor movements which envisioned a better material life for the masses. To the extent that environmentalists are concerned about the polluting effects of big business they would be at odds with traditional conservative/business movements.

Environmentalists belong in their own party, which is the situation in Europe, where the Green party in their multi-party system provides much more clarity.

In the US political system, third parties don't have much of a chance. It's been tried before and we know what will happen. Remember the Citizens Party in 1980? We tried to set up something like a European style Green Party with that one, but we didn't get very far. At the time, it was especially difficult to even get your name on the ballot in most states. One of the gains from the Citizens Party was the change in requirements for being listed on the ballot, which made it much easier for Ross Perot to run his political campaign. The net effect of an outside party or independent candidate is to pull some votes away from one or the other of the two main parties, which can result in the party with similar goals losing in a close race. Such a result may have occurred in the earlier campaign by John Anderson in the 1980 Presidential race. Anderson received 7% of the vote in the election with a total of 5.7 million votes.

As things stand, the two parties are essentially coalitions which re-form for each election cycle, each group attempting to pull in a few more votes than the other by advocating issues while not alienating their base voters. Until the basic structure of the US electoral campaigns are changed, there's almost no chance that a third party might gain traction before their goals are co-opted by one of the two major parties...

E. Swanson

I agree that it is impossible to change the two-party system, which is probably the system that allows the least percentage of the population to control the political process, partly because it limits participation in the party structure and partly because both parties become unwieldy coalitions that engender apathy in the electorate.

The state legislative redisticting here has been a fascinating study of how the heavy weights protect incumbents they like, throw to the wolves the incumbents that have fallen from favor, and construct district in which new party favorites can win. It is all about power, money and influence.

That said, I still think that environmentalists don't fit really well into either party, and that will be even more true as economic conflicts become the overwhelming concern of both parties.

The state legislative redisticting here has been a fascinating study of how the heavy weights protect incumbents they like, throw to the wolves the incumbents that have fallen from favor, and construct district in which new party favorites can win. It is all about power, money and influence.

I suspect some real calculus usually goes into it. The party that has control of the process wants to change the electoral landscape in its favor for as long as possible. One strategy is to stuff all the neighborhoods that are slam-dunk for the opposition paty (say 80:20) into one (or a few) big districts that are guaranteed to the opposition. These insultaes those voters from the close districts. Ideally, I would have most of the districts voting 51:49 for my party, and a few others stacked 100:0 against me. Then I could regularly win with say only 30% of the voters.

'80 was the year I voted for Barry Commoner


Sounds to me like you guys need a preferential voting system:

The Transition Town movement is what some people see as a non-"Survivalist Crackpot," community-oriented approach to powerdown.

Ya, but when there isn't enough to go around, and the people start rioting, you might wish you had your "Bug-Out-Bag". :)

Youbetcha a Trump/Palin ticket would be HUGE, but I'm still holding out for Dwayne 'Mountain Dew' Camacho to run.

Update - http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/11/mike-huckabee-donald-trump-2012/

I've never watched his show, but Huckabee once struck me as a smooth talking intelligent version of Sarah Palin. President Biff - er Trump... Where's that DeLorean???

Don_Sailorman might find this interesting: http://takimag.com/article/huckabee_the_new_huey_long/

The first I heard of Trump's recent presidential bid was an interview with him on Squawk Box where he was saying

"$15 trillion worth of oil. we go into iraq, we lose thousands of lives, we spend $1.5 trillion and then we're going to leave and within 15 minutes after we leave, iran is going to take over. in fact, in my opinion and from what i hear, they're already taking over. within 15 minutes after we leave, iran is going to take over iraq because we've destroyed their military so they can't fight back iran anymore. they're going to take over iraq and take over the oil fields. and in my opinion, if that's going to happen and it wouldn't happen on my watch, i guarantee you, we take the oil. " - Donald Trump.

Here's the interview: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000015921

I think this is pretty relevant to TOD mainly because of that interview.

Trump/Palin would be awesome - US politics is a tragic/comic farce, and dammit I want someone who either knows the part or is stupid enough to be a real clown. I mean Obama and Bush do the same things, but Bush you could really laugh at - Obama is just kind of pathetic. Give me a real clown any day.

The Archdruid Report has been concentrating on practical, personal measures in response to PO/economic contraction for several weeks now. John Michael Greer has a lot of very concrete things to suggest, and the caliber of posts to his blog is way higher than average.


The Arch Druid is good, I agree.

"Survivalism" falls into two main camps; SHTF and TEOTWAWKI. SHTF is temporary, like Hurricane Katrina and the issues are very different from TEOTWAWKI which is concerned with drastic lifestyle changes of permanent duration.

Don't underestimate the "survivalist crackpots" in all things. Some of their scenarios and politics may be weird, but many of them are truly expert on technicals; such as who makes the best chainsaws, practical wiring for solar, practical hunting/game preparation skills, etc. Not to mention expertise in security; limiting information flow, firearms, dogs, perimeter defense, single point defense, etc.

Don't underestimate the value of upgrading security.
One of the things I have realized after hard and ruthlessly critical thought is that there are things that I cannot tell even my next of kin. Not because they don't love me or I them, but simply because they still live in the world that is coming to an end, the world where everybody can be pretty open and trusting about almost everything with almost anyone including total strangers. That world of near universal middle class security is going to be the first thing to end up circling the toilet bowl. Better get ready for it NOW.

Tariffs on Chinese goods were also suggested by peak oiler Jeff Rubin in "Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller." His proposal was a carbon tax on imports, and Chinese industry uses a lot of carbon.

And Arab nations and South Korea would pay for benefiting from America's military might.

It is at least arguable that the US military is a global public good (good in the economic meaning). If Iran were to close the Strait of Hormuz -- a threat they take out and dust off from time to time -- no one except the US has the ability to force the Strait open in a timely fashion with conventional weapons. Certainly Japan, Korea, and many other countries that are largely dependent on oil flowing through the Strait couldn't reopen it. Nor could the other oil exporting countries on the Persian Gulf. Russia might, although I don't know how much of their airlift capacity survives from the Soviet Union days. OTOH, with pipelines from Russia to Europe suddenly full of €250/bbl oil, would it be in Russia's interest to see the Strait reopened?

Energy Bulletin now has a message board. I think they have a good balance of optimistic vs. pessimistic, local vs. big picture, etc.

While they cover some homesteading type things, they also seem committed to community over survivalism.

Does any reader know of a site on the caliber of TOD that actually discusses individual solutions to PO and today's rapid changes....beyond survivalist crackpots?

Well now... By individual solutions I assume you mean solutions for you and perhaps your family and not the whole world. That, by definition, means survivalist! During the crash, survival will be the number one priority for every member of the human race. And it will not be easy. The very fact that you think survivalist are crackpots means that you will not likely make any serious preparations to try to be among the survivors. After all, you would not want to be regarded as a crackpot would you?

I am 72 years old and am making no preparations whatsoever to be among the survivors. But if I were a younger man you can bet your bottom dollar that I would be a "survivalist crackpot". After all I would want to enhance my chances of living to be an old man.

Ron P.

Survivalism isn't a survival strategy.
It's fear.
It's every man for himself.
For the individual it's defeat and despair.
For the collective it's annihilation.

Man is a social animal --Aristotle

Yet there is a middle ground to be walked.

Always put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others.

Survivalist preparations in combination with social preparations is the safest bet. That way you are less likely to be a burden on others, and you are more likely to be in a position to help friends, family, and neighbors should an interruption in basic services occur.

Broad brush?
IMO survival implies collective action, since we're social animals.
All the authors I read put 'community' as the top survival priority, since it's the most fungible and universal of all assets.

Thanks Ron, point taken. In many ways I am, and have been for many years, "the dreaded survivalist crackpot" I alluded to.

I guess what I wanted to say is that there has to be more than 'me and mine' as time goes forward.

To quote Jabberwock
"One of the things I have realized after hard and ruthlessly critical thought is that there are things that I cannot tell even my next of kin. Not because they don't love me or I them, but simply because they still live in the world that is coming to an end, the world where everybody can be pretty open and trusting about almost everything with almost anyone including total strangers. That world of near universal middle class security is going to be the first thing to end up circling the toilet bowl. Better get ready for it NOW."

At the end of post you mentioned that if you were younger.... well, I am 55 and while friends and family listen out of respect I feel the sound of the twilight Zone theme song in the background when I respectfully speak to them of PO and this foolish economy. Yes, I am probably uncle crackpot growing food when I could just go to the store like..... I have moved to the country and graze sheep among the planted trees, plant potatoes for the neighbours, and enlarge the garden every year...and on and on and on. It isn't enough. It isn't enough. I believe we do owe our community and fellow humans actions and effort to do what we think is best IMHO, and looking out no farther than blood ties doesn't cut it. I don't think it does. Why do the editors and contributors work on this site? They sure don't do it for the money!!

Today I have heard '150 years ago' discussions on the horrors of the Civil War. It struck a cord big time when the statement "7% of all voting age males died (of the entire country)", and that does not even cover the carnage civilians suffered. And then I recalled the stats of Rawanda....when the lid blew off 11% of the population was murdered by fellow Rawandans, and in villages of only Hutus, Hutus killed Hutus. It was something much more than genocide. Civil War/Rawnada....Civil War compared to Rawanda....and if FF use is like every family owning 6 slaves, ...well, you get the analogy.

It will not be enough to say "I told you so", or "see, this is what I was talking about". I am afraid that in 5-10 years many of us might say, "if only I had done more".

I suppose I am searching for the 'more' part. I think I have come up with a few ideas that work for me, and I will move forward. The posts on TOD, even the huffy technical ones, are so damned valuable to help folks reflect and rise outside of of our limited views and experience.


Under a President Trump, China would be forced to end currency manipulation or face a 25 percent tariff on all exports to the United States. OPEC oil-producing nations would have to drop the price of a barrel or oil to $40-50 or face America's wrath. And Arab nations and South Korea would pay for benefiting from America's military might.

And Trump has gone bankrupt, what it is, 5 times? I tried to count, but it was hard to keep them all straight since one bankruptcy ran into another.

So, if Trump became President and worked his financial magic on the budget, I imagine the US would go bankrupt in less than a year. China would get PO'd and call in their $2.5 trillion in US debt, OPEC would cut off their oil supplies to US refineries, and the Arab Nations and South Korea would give the US 1 month to close all their military bases and get the heck out of their countries.

Yes, that would really go a long way toward solving the US's problems.

RockyMtnGuy, I can't imagine Donald Trump being President of the United States.

Hey, maybe I should throw my name into the ring. I've never gone bankrupt though -- is that a strike against me?

And Trump has gone bankrupt, what it is, 5 times?

I met Trump once. Weird experience. He wore a cape instead of an overcoat and one of his assistants took it off for him. Trump doesn’t shake hands so he just said his hello how are you while looking around and over me rather than at me. No eye contact. Same treatment for other people in our group.

If Trump shook your hand, you'd probably want to look and check that you still had it.

TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT! I'm giddy with anticipation! What sheer poetry that he should be the ultimate pied piper of the American Empire. My god, it's so beautifully horrific that I can't imagine a more perfect ending to it all.

Let's see now:

  • Tell people exactly what they want to hear, especially if it involves extreme intolerance.

  • Fully capitalize on economic desperation for political gain and to advance an extreme right wing agenda.

  • Threaten everyone else in the world with extermination if they fail to give in to your demands, or in any way obstruct your aspiration to world domination.

Sounds eerily like a certain paper hanger in 1930's Germany...


Thinking of Trump as president reminds me of the scene in "Back to the Future II" when Biff alters time and becomes this evil rich megalomaniac.

Or the Simpsons episode where two aliens run for office and it doesn't matter which one wins because they both serve the same alien master.

(It's all about fooling Homer and his kind into believing they ever had a choice to begin with. Palin, Bachman or Trump; will the difference really matter? Welcome to the idiocracy.)

Who better to preside over the future of the United States at this point, than a person with a great deal of personal experience with bankruptcy.

The WTO agreement allow any nation that has a trade deficit to unilaterally enact a tariff and raise it until it has balanced trade. That is the agreed upon international world order. So I would say Trump is 100% correct on trade.

Saudi Arabia without US military protection would just be part of Greater Israel.

The WTO agreement allow any nation that has a trade deficit to unilaterally enact a tariff and raise it until it has balanced trade.

I think that's basically not true. Any trade disagreement must be taken before the WTO for a ruling. The whole basis of international trade agreements is that countries agree to abide by the rules of the agreement.

Saudi Arabia without US military protection would just be part of Greater Israel.

I think that Israel has enough problems without trying to invade a country with over ten times its land area, four times its population, and three times its national income.

Hi Paul,

Yup, you want to establish your reputation and work on valuable projects to the community, the sooner the better. I think Transition still remains the most likely incubator. Most of them are rather action-oriented, so they don't have the luxury of laptop time to create the caliber of discussion enjoyed here at TOD.

I invited Dr. McMahon, Peak Oil Blues therapist, out here to Cascadia last fall for her "Managing the Psychological Impact of Peak Oil and Climate Change" speaking tour, and have the Vancouver B.C. leaders' emails if you're interested (email me via our sail transport project).

There is also a Gulf Islands-based gathering in the works for this summer.

I also think on a personal level, Chris Martenson has some good action-oriented ideas.


Hi Paulo,

Having just driven across the Port Mann bridge yesterday, i think I can honestly say that nothing less than a new bridge would be acceptable to all the motorists in the Fraser valley. Eventually the economy will re-adjust so those people don;t commute across that bridge - they can just remain unemployed at home!

The problem with trying to get local action groups going is, as you said about Transition, you end up with a lot of sitting around in meetings, more like social events, talking about what can we get the government (at any level) to do about x and y).., here on the Sunshine Coast there are half a dozen different groups about green energy, conservation, local food etc. There members are almost all retirees, because those if us with work to do have - work to do. It is doubtful they can achieve anything major, but it does make the people involved feel better that they are trying to do something. I think a better approach s to get involved with the local government, but that has its frustrations too..

I do think the best thing that can be done is strengthen local community economy, and get off oil as much as possible - but that is far easier said than done...

AS for a BC gathering of TOD'ers - I'd be up for that. I'd have to get from the coast out to the island, but maybe when Rocky Mtn Guy takes his boat out from here in the summer he can give me a passage over - be more fun then the two ferry rides it takes otherwise!

Paul N.

I wouldn't be too confident that my boat would be more fun than the ferry. It needs new sails and a new engine. If the wind blows at its usual summer zephyr strength, and the old diesel conked out in the middle of Georgia Strait, it could be a couple of days before it actually got to the island.

Even at the best of times it only goes about 6 knots, and BC ferries do about 20.

I reckon it's usually more fun - I take every chance I can to take my boat from Nanaimo to Vancouver if I need to stay in the city - take my hotel room with me. Sure it takes longer, although from ferry port to downtown is about four hours if you include wait times etc, so six on the boat is not much more. Main difference is being more affected by weather and my wife's reluctance to let me go sailing singlehanded as much as I'd like. And I too need new sails and to rebuild the diesel but hey, that's boat ownership.

Slow travel is good travel, I think we'll all do a lot more of that in the not too distant future.

It needs new sails and a new engine.

Bring a paddle?

Actually getting from the Sunshine Coast to Nanaimo by BC ferries is a very frustrating experience, unless you don't mind using 6hrs for a journey that is about 50 miles as the crow flies. You get into Horseshoe Bay from the coast 10 min after the Nanaimo ferry sailed, then you get to wait another 1 hr50 min for the next one, and it costs about $130 for the round trip in fares.

if you don't need your car, you can take a floatplane from Sechelt to Nanaimo for $ 110 round trip, and the flight takes all of 16 minutes. Also, the floatplane is almost always a Beaver, and half the time you get to sit in the co-pilot's seat - more fun than any ferry! (though it is less fuel efficient)

Hello Paulo Staying in touch and or meeting West Coasters sounds good. I do not have much spare time, but we will see.


Hi Paul,

Well, I'm late to this "party" since my internet service has been out for almost a week and I just got it back. Anyway...

One point I'd like to make is that our "lunches" are not devoted solely to energy but rather cover almost every conceivable topic ranging from, yes, energy but we also discuss politics, agriculture, finance - you name it. And, the reason for this, besides just being more interesting, is that life is a gestalt where the end is more than the sum of its parts.

And this gestaltness is something few people seem to figure out. They want to focus upon some narrow area to the exclusion of everything else. Sure it means that we don't have the expertise to delve into the finer points but, you know, anyone can get that by doing a rigorous internet search.

And, I still send out my, almost, weekly little Update email letter. It hardly ever covers energy since TOD does such a great job and represents what I find interesting that week. For example the one I'm sending out tomorrow looks at: US Gov - You Might Be a Terrorist, Financial, Security, Health and Prepping. I also include a section about what's going on around my place each time; I don't know if anyone cares but it's fun for me. I've had a lot about the wild turkeys around our place recently. It goes to about 20 people now. If anyone else is interested send me an email with your real name (no "handles" here) and where you live and I'll stick you on the list. My email is detz2 at willitsonline dot com.


Australia's fuel import vulnerability increases as Sydney's Clyde refinery is closing

Libyans fight over oil field at depletion mid point while African crude oil exports decline

Australia's debating club on transport fantasies after global crude oil exports peaked 2005

Exactly how high do oil prices have to rise before Saudi Arabia will start using it supposed three million barrels of spare capacity?
Does Saudi Aramco intend to stay on the sidelines watching Brent crude prices - already $120 per barrel - climb as high as $200 (U.S.) per barrel, while blaming speculators for distorting market fundamentals?

Jeff Rubin should ask himself the question. If oil prices are so high why is the Ford F150 the best selling car at the moment?

My local university has 3 carparks they are full of cars driven by 18 to 22 year olds, most of whom have worked part-time if at all.
When the Ford fiesta 1.1 is the best selling car in the US and full time students catch the bus then we will know oil is at the right price.

We need to start realizing how much energy oil produces and how much it is misused.


I made the mistake of going past the local high school at 2:35 pm yesterday and got caught up in the traffic jam coming out of the parking lot.
- why are high school students driving to school?
- why are they getting out of school at 2:30 pm?

Yes, that's something I wondered even as a high school student who graduated in 1997. I was the only senior student who rode my bus to and from school every day. It was considered uncool to ride the bus. I remember friends of mine who refused to take the bus home even when they couldn't find a ride with someone because they didn't want to be seen taking the bus. So silly! I already didn't fit in anyway, so I didn't care about being thought of as "uncool."

I event wrote an op-ed for the school newspaper before I graduated, entitled "School Buses: The Cool Way to Go to School." I don't think it influenced student opinions much (I remember someone even making fun of me for it), though it felt good at the time to go against the tide and write the truth as I saw it.

People who are desperate to fit into the mold tend to be horribly boring people in my experience with very little, if anything, interesting to say. Their humour is often limited to aping other people's jokes or at times being mean to other people(usually picking on people who are often way more original than they are) because that's the only thing they have: not being able to be picked upon(or noticed or remembered, for that matter) by anyone.

I just feel it's a pity, with hindsight, you didn't write an article mocking people who refused to ride the bus, instead of(judging by the title) trying to influence the herd.

"I just feel it's a pity, with hindsight, you didn't write an article mocking people who refused to ride the bus, instead of(judging by the title) trying to influence the herd."

Maybe. In retrospect, I think I should have written a more comical, satirical op-ed about the situation than in the more serious tone that I did.

Although I wasn't really aware of the peak oil issue per se back when I was 17 in 1997, I was concerned about environmental/conservation issues in general and knew that fossil fuels were finite. Now with all the more info I know about peak oil, the scene of the student parking lot seems all the more absurd.

While it's true that presently some districts may have had funds cut for bus service, back in 1997 in my district that was not the case. There were around 25 buses coming to and from school every day. And the majority of students in those buses were freshmen and sophomores, with almost no upperclassmen.

I think what really bugged me was not that students were just driving their cars, but that they were actively driving to school when there were free bus rides to and from school every day. You don't even need to pay a bus fare! Sure, you might need to get up a few minutes earlier to catch the bus, and walk a block or two to the bus stop, but there isn't much more sacrifice than that. I remember for my article counting the number of cars in the student parking lot on a random day. There were about 250 (the student population was maybe 1300).

While some students maybe had an excuse because they needed to work or get to extracurricular activities after school, I don't think this was true for many.

"People who are desperate to fit into the mold tend to be horribly boring people in my experience with very little, if anything, interesting to say. Their humour is often limited to aping other people's jokes or at times being mean to other people(usually picking on people who are often way more original than they are) because that's the only thing they have: not being able to be picked upon(or noticed or remembered, for that matter) by anyone."

Agree. I look back with sadness at those years and the ways more popular students really picked on and excluded less popular, less consumer-oriented peers. I remember being teased for clothes I was wearing ("Where did you get that? A thrift store? Ha, ha."). Even though I did not fit in, luckily my adolescent sense of self was not too tied to being popular and being a consumer, so I managed to survive those years somehow. But high school is the period of my life that I would least want to return to.

I'm curious how the post-peak oil years will shape the experience of American adolescence. How will the experience of being a 17-year old in 2030 be different than when I was 17 and made fun of for riding the bus?

Hardship has a way of turning people together, at least when it comes to groups with common ancestry, religion, cultural background etc.

One thing that always fascinated me was when reading about day-to-day life in the Reich(especially before WWII), essentially all bullying stopped. People just kept it together and nobody was out.

The same was true when that teacher did 'The Wave' experiment in California in the end of the 60s, when he tried to replicate the same policies of the Reich, he noticed that nobody was an outsider anymore in the 'preferable group'.

What's likely to happen, at least in the transition, is that the energy people use to bully individuals will be used to protect one's flock/pack/people and the rest will probably be used to fight off another group/people/nation/what-have-you.

But yeah, being 17 is tough. I was there like just 3 years ago. But actually it was much harder being 14 for me. By the time I was 17, I had learned that all the B.S. about 'turning the other cheek around' was just that. Bullies only understand the language of power and aggression(why else would they be bullies?) so I got through high school intact.

My regret is that I didn't do enough to protect those who weren't as aggressive as I was, and who suffered a great deal, most of that probably alone, because nobody took their sides. Many of these people were often emotional, spiritual and often very intelligent people.

It often amazes me how crude, simple and barbaric animals human beings are for the most of times, and how beautiful and noble we, or at least most of us, can become when the conditions are right.

The longterm trajectory of this species is upwards, even with PO. But there will be a lot of suffering, despair and pain to get there. But we'll get there.

A bit of an odd assessment of life under the Reich - I assume you mean Germany in the 1930's. Not to be harsh, but to say that "nobody was out" is a bit misleading.

I remember a history prof talking about how oral histories are generally misleading. People tend to remember hard times very much in the sense that "we all hung together and supported each other, not like now." Then he talked about the actual evidence from the times - for instance, letters in the archives from one farmer to the government ratting out other farmers who had received some assistance, saying that they were hiding their best crops and lying about their production. I believe that when disruptive times are over, people remember them as being exciting and forget the fear and hatred that was as strong as ever.

I've always taken this into account when I consider what a peak oil future might be like. I personally find the prospect quite scary, though I believe it is coming. I don't see folks holding together too well.

I remember a history prof talking about how oral histories are generally misleading. People tend to remember hard times very much in the sense that "we all hung together and supported each other, not like now."

Yup. Same with respect to romanticizing WWII rationing. The rampant corruption, favoritism, and not-always-truthful snitching are conveniently forgotten. And it was only for a fairly short time, imagine how bad it would get if it went on indefinitely.

No, it was not fun or clean or ideal.

But let's remember that no system has ever been more massively, constantly and ubiquitously "romanticized" than our high-consumption industrial capitalist culture.

All other attempts at romanticizing pale to nothingness by comparison.

One thing that always fascinated me was when reading about day-to-day life in the Reich(especially before WWII), essentially all bullying stopped. People just kept it together and nobody was out.

Is that some kind of revisionist history? I don't think it was that non-confrontational a place, particularly after Hitler came to power. I seem to recall that about 7 million people of Jewish origin were "out" by the end of WWII.

Actually there were about 100 million people who were "out" by the end of WWII due to a variety of different causes (war, famine, disease, and death, all the usual reasons).

I seem to recall that about 7 million people of Jewish origin were "out" by the end of WWII.

Well if you were prewar, you had a few out groups, Jews, Roma(gypsies), the handicapped, and liberals, maybe 20-30% of the population. So if you were in the other 70%, and weren't a sensitive type, so you didn't think that what happened to those despised minorities might happen to you and yours later on, they could well have been happy times.

The numbers I rememebr were 6M for the Jews, "how did he lose six million Jews!", and roughly 60M worldwide. Your numbers are a bit higher, but I've never tried to do a study on them.

Oh brother.
I wasn't there from what I've read the Reich wasn't much fun unless you were a Nazi.
The first thing Hitler did was to get rid of all elected officials (Woo hoo!). They were replaced by Nazi party officials called Gauleiters. This was the first manifestation of Nazi efficiency.
Otherwise it was pretty much 'orders from Berlin'.

In theory, a Gauleiter was merely a representative of the Nazi Party who served to coordinate regional Nazi party events and also served to "advise" the local government. In practice, Gauleiters were the unquestioned rulers of their particular areas of responsibility. The legal governmental establishment merely existed as a rubber stamp for the Gauleiter. Party control over the civil administration was institutionalized, as in many cases Gauleiters also held the supreme civil administrative posts in their area (Reichsstatthalter or Oberpräsident). However, since Party Gau boundaries and provincial/state boundaries were rarely the same, this arrangement led to mutually overlapping jurisdictions and added to the administrative chaos typical of Nazi Germany.

The Gauleiter was the highest ranking political leader at the Gau level of political administration within the Reich, with the Reich (national) level the highest, Gau (shire, prefecture, province) second-highest, Kreis (circle, i.e. district or county) third-highest, and Ort (municipal) level the lowest. There were two additional, lower local levels (Block and Zelle, describing a party cell). Political leaders from the Ort level and higher wore official uniforms, with the piping and background color of the uniform collar tabs indicating the administrative level.

The mass unemployment was cured by five things.
Women and Jews were thrown out of employment.
Mass conscription into the Wehrmacht.
The unemployed were forcibly put into make-work projects(it was illegal to be unemployed).
All unions were combined into the DAF-German Labor Front.

And if you weren't a Nazi there was always Dachau.

But for Nazis it was Springtime for Germany!

If we're going to analyze what the Nazi party did, let's talk about how they got in - they were VOTED into power.

In the time before WWII, in most if not all Lutheran places of worship, part of the oratory was to include study of Martin Luther's "The Jews and their Lies" - a book written by Luther after his Catechism in his waning, crazy years.

Imagine how it was; questions like "How do you baptize a Jew?" - the answer is to take the Jew to a bridge over the River Elbe, tie on a large rock, and drop him overboard. Anti-semitic study groups, sermons, etc., etc. were common in Germany pre-WWII.

It turns out that as the Brownshirts were gaining popularity, the up-and-coming Nazi Party was put to vote. In the predominantly Catholic portions of Germany, the Nazi Party lost. However, in the Lutheran portions (more than Catholic), the Nazi Party won handily. History tells the rest of the story.

Today, ask any Lutheran about Martin Luther's "other book," and they'll not believe any such thing was created - after all, Luther's almost a deity to these folk.

Actually that is WRONG.
Hitler LOST the 1932 election to Hindenburg by 53% to 37%.

Hitler thought elections were nonsense.

Hitler was APPOINTED by Hindenburg as Chancellor in Jan 1933.
The politicians (Von Papen) and right wing businessmen like Thyssen, Hugenberg and Krupp behind Hindenburg PROPOSED Hitler to head up a coalition parlimentary government. A month later the Communists were accused of burning down the Reichstag and all the Communists were rounded up and packed off to various impromptu concentration camps run by the SA.

In March 6, there were representative election when Hitler got 44% of the votes followed by 18% Social Democrats, 12% Communists, 12% Center and 14% other small parties.


Hitler decided to force a radical Enabling Law, giving the cabinet which he ran as chancellor dictatorial powers for 4 years which was legal based on a 2/3 majority. Having arrested all the Communist deputies, there were the Socialist deputies, the right wing parties and the Nazis left. The vote was held on March 23 with stormtroopers in the assembly. Only the Socialists
had the balls to vote no, so Hitler got his dictatorial powers 3 months after being appointed by Hindenburg.

On May 10th 1933, the Social Democrat party was banned.
On August 10, 1934 after Hindenburg died, there was a plebiscite merging the offices of president and chancellor into Fuhrer, which was approved by 85% and Hitler made the Army swear allegiance to Hitler by name. The German constitution was amended to make thus possible.

Perhaps you think the 1934 Nazi plebiscite was a true expression of the people's will.
Actually, no because voters don't have the right to end a democracy in favor of a dictatorship. Also, I can't say I believe that the plebiscite was honest,
especially given the total contempt expressed by the Nazis toward any elections.

People who are desperate to fit into the mold tend to be horribly boring people in my experience with very little, if anything, interesting to say. Their humour is often limited to aping other people's jokes or at times being mean to other people(usually picking on people who are often way more original than they are) because that's the only thing they have: not being able to be picked upon(or noticed or remembered, for that matter) by anyone.

Has anyone seen the MTV branded film, "JackAss" (or one of several sequels)? When watching the first (and my last), I realized before long I was laughing my head off at others' misfortune, bad things happening to people. What the film does manage to do, however, is to accurately depict the callousness of American youth - in this film are some of the cruelest people one can imagine doing cruel things to themselves, each other, and other participants willing or not - the more cruel, the greater the mirth (and profit).

Kick someone while they're down, it's got to be worth a laugh.

Kick someone while they're down, it's got to be worth a laugh.

For me it was Junior high. I was the naive (and undersized) kid the others choose as a victim. I think for most it was just trying to avoid becoming a target by piling onto whomever it was that was lower on the totempole. That really affected my ability to get along with people, I think it is why I didn't get married until age 40.

It is Easter holiday in UK at the moment, the roads this morning were quite compaired to the usual.
In term time many mothers drive their kids to school and the reason they give is, it is too dangerous to walk because of all the cars.

How university students can afford to buy a car, the MOT, tax, insurance and petrol is beyond me.

They have to because public transport in the UK is not as good as it should be.

Some other European countries have better public transport for their students.
The University of Alicante in Spain is located somewhat out of town, in San Vicente. There are buses every few minutes between Alicante and San Vicente and also there are special buses for the students several times a day; in any case they ride with their student card, almost for free.
Pop. of Alicante 300.000 people the buses are always very full coming and going, also any number of cars.

Spanish high school students certainly do not own cars, as you have to be over 18 to get a driving licence, (at 18 y.o. you are not supposed to be in High School) after passing a very difficult and expensive examination. Young drivers are also hit with a very hefty insurance premium on top of all the expense.

Isn't the Spanish youth employment like 40 % or something anyway?
Who can afford a car with those numbers.

Stayed in Benitachell some years ago, very lovely area, did not visit Alicante pity looks like a nice town.

Any country that will invest in public transport will stand good chance of coping with peak oil.
UK already has massive network of rail and bus routes it just needs to build them up and make them more reliable.

I worked in the UK for a while, and found it was rather disconcerting that the mothers were expected to drive their children to school. It's a huge waste of their time.

In other countries, it is assumed that children should take a bus, and the bus should be provided by the school system.

Every morning, here in the Canadian Rockies, three yellow school buses drive past my house. That's because there are three different schools kids could go to, and they don't like sharing school buses. I don't think anybody has ever considered driving their own kids to school.

I graduated from a high school in suburban DFW, late 90's.

Every single day - every single one! - the jocks and the "cool" kids would drive out to lunch to the various fast food outlets in their pickups and muscle cars. The nerds and misfits were left behind to eat in the cafeteria.

I wonder how they now feel - all that money and gas wasted. Good riddance.

They probably look back on it as the best days of their lives.

Maybe for some, but many of them are probably successful and doing just fine. From my limited following, the on-top preppies and jocks mostly have done pretty well, and their strong drive and sense of entitlement along with social contacts works for them. They went from football team to frat house to corner office pretty quickly, or they flunked out and went to car dealerships and family businesses. Nerds went from downtrodden to dorms to cubicles, or a few went to start-ups and mansions. Some succeed, and some fail, and as always there is a lot of chance involved.

Probably the nerdy subset is over-represented here, but it does little good to pretend that domineering traits don't have some self-perpetuating value. I try to teach my kids to not be intimidated by anybody, and to stick up for each other. Once while in high-school my daughter bloodied the lip of a bully who picked on a younger sibling. As he drew back to respond in kind, she calmly said, "Do it. If we fight and you lose, you'll have been beaten by a girl. If you win, you'll be the guy who got arrested for beating a girl black and blue who was defending a kid, because I won't stop." He settled for calling her a name, and neither she nor my other kids have ever had trouble with bullies.

Maybe for some, but many of them are probably successful and doing just fine.

I didn't say otherwise.

Just that people generally do not regret spending their money on hot cars and the gas to fuel them. Especially not at that age, when they were probably not even paying for it themselves.

And no matter how successful you are in later life, there's a tendency to look back on your adolescence as a time of great potential - when doors were open that are now closed. Especially for those who were the BMOCs.

Agreed. I think I read into your statement more than you said.

Life is generally a process of gradually diminishing options paired with a gradually growing set of accomplishments. For each of us the slopes for each varies, and there tend to be step-functions along the way to keep things interesting.

Perhaps the important point is that our experiences during the final formative years significantly impact the options we choose within ourselves to occlude or investigate, the experiences we elect to gild or bury in retrospect, and the attitude with which we engage life in general.

What is more valuable -- experiences or possessions? Spare time or income? Vacations or overtime? Acclaim or promotions? It would be interesting to know which people are actually happiest with their own lives, those who were BMOCs or the nerdy bookworm? Is there a correlation at all?

I would guess that people really don't fit so easily into those categories. Some people were miserable in high school, but most of us probably have fond memories of it. Whether justified or not. It's a natural human tendency to remember the good more than the bad. I was definitely a nerd, but I also had a pretty good social life...at least as I recall it now. ;-)

I don't know if there have been any studies on who's likeliest to be happy. They study who's likely to be most successful, or live the longest, but that doesn't necessarily correlate with happiness.

and there tend to be step-functions along the way to keep things interesting.

As the recipient of quite a step-function in the way of diminishing options, that is the understatement of the year. :-)

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine a few years ago. We talked about people doing things to "be happier". Things such as changing jobs, relationships, moving, and so forth. My friend thought for a moment and then she said, "people I know tend to stay in the same range of happiness." I think that, for the most part, she was right.

True that. I am happier than my wife, though our lives are quite similar. But then, I have her, and she's stuck with me.

LOL! +10. You have just won the life time, wisdom in how to maintain a happy marriage, award! You may go collect your prize.

why are high school students driving to school?

State/local budget woes have driven many districts to drop, or greatly restrict, their bus programs. Mom and Dad both work. Public bus service at that time of day sucks. Depending on the neighborhoods between school and home, Dads are reluctant to let their daughters walk two miles to/from school, particularly if it's dark for one of those walks. Boys that age will spend all of their part-time earnings keeping a $1K clunker running and fueled up because it's a statement about independence from their parents. Relocating to within walking distance of a good school for the few years they have kids in high school is prohibitively expensive for most families.

All those reasons and more.
In my case it was because the public schools sucked, and were outright dangerous places.
So, I drove to a private school eleven miles away.
Of course, I didn't have to drive a convertible Pontiac GTO with a 400cid motor, a four on the floor and a Holly quad....................but I did;-)

When I was in highschool, my brother had a GTO exactly as you describe - blue, white convertible top, 400ci, Holly quad trips, etc. The first time I drove it, I almost got whiplash. You don't just rev it up and drop the clutch first time out :-)

Here they run buses for the normal schedule, plus they run extra buses for students participating in after school activities. Unavailability of buses is not the problem. Students drive because of vanity and peer pressure.

and lazy parents who buy them cars instead of making them walk and work for something. ok well yes I drove to school too, but it was 5+ miles away and I had bought myself a '59 VW for $350 (in 1980). I worked after school to buy records and go to concerts (and pot and beer).

Agree about so many student's driving to school. At high schools around here you can easily tell the student parking areas from the teachers' parking areas - the students have newer and more expensive cars.

Our high schoolers get out at 2:30. They start at 7:30. From 2:30 until 3:00 is set aside for getting extra help. After school activities like sports, band/choir rehearsals, club meetings, etc, are required to start after the extra help period.

While (IMO) too many of our high schoolers drive to school, the majority of them take the bus. Our elementary schools start an hour after our high schools and get out an hour later.

We operate at least a large fleet of buses. Buses make runs for high school students then do runs for elementary students. If we switched school schedules then elementary students would be standing at bus stops at 6:45 AM. Parents don't like that. High schools students getting extra help would be get home after 4:45 PM. A significant percentage of hour high schoolers work after school and would have problems keeping their jobs with such a schedule.

Obviously, school schedules can vary widely from community to community. The rural and small town schools I attended were (and still are) on quite different schedules.

My local university has 3 carparks they are full of cars driven by 18 to 22 year olds, most of whom have worked part-time if at all.

I never had a car when I went to University - it failed a cost/benefit analysis. I always found a cheap basement apartment on a bus route close to University. I only owned a car when I needed one, and I didn't need one to get to classes.

When I graduated the first time, I paid back my student loan in nine months, and paid back the money my Dad loaned me a year later. The rest of the money came from jobs and scholarships.

The second time I graduated, I paid for everything from the job I had between degrees, and graduated with no debts and money in the bank.

A couple of years later, a university buddy called me up and asked if I would co-sign a car loan. I told him, "If I'm going to assume the risk, I'd like to get the interest too. I'll lend you the money myself, and you pay me back when you can."

He was somewhat astounded that I could lend him money to buy a better car than I was driving myself. But, unlike university degrees, and good university buddies, cars are a bad investment. They are unreliable and cost far more than they are worth.

never had a car when I went to University

I finally got one my senior year (parents didn't like it and gave it to me). There was a remote lot you had to use, a couple of miles walk away. You could only bring it onto campus on weekends. Don't remember using it for much.

In the mid 1980s, in Southern California, I made the earth-shattering discovery that I could take the bus to college. Sure, it took longer than driving, but I could get the bulk of my reading done en route AND not have to deal with parking. The best part: I arrived (at either end of the commute) in a much better frame of mind.

I didn't borrow... went to school and worked all the way through. "Course I had to have a car, so I bought a beater (an old Nash, that had fallen on hard times) for 50 bucks. When I graduated from College, I got $150 as trade on a used VW!

the VW got better mileage, but overall the cost was about the same.

For me a car is just a way to get from here to there if there are no buses or trains going there.


From the Jefferson Muzzle Awards story:

8) The Administration of Hamilton College
Is Hamilton College Safe for Men?

For taking political correctness to the extreme by requiring all first-year male students to participate in an ideologically based program that assumes the complicity of men in maintaining a culture of rape, a 2011 Jefferson Muzzle Award goes to… The Administration of Hamilton College (New York).

What a joke. Muzzle award #8 is a joke, and the entire list is a joke, for 2010 and 2011. Neither list mentions Wikileaks, Assange, or Manning. But they do list the Obama administration for muzzling coverage of the BP spill, basically a live event, thanks to the Obama administration.

Speculation or Shortage?
The Redding Record-Searchlight carried a column by Bob Williams titled "Who will stop the oil speculators?" http://www.redding.com/news/opinion/columnists/bob-williams/
He claims that some analysts say up to 60% of the price of gasoline is due to speculation. Unfortunately, this figure is way off. It costs close to $80 per barrel to produce oil in the new fields being developed now. Sure, there are a lot of older fields that can produce oil for $20 to $40 per barrel. But production from these fields is declining by 8% per year, according to the International Energy Association. If the price of oil went down to $40 per barrel for an extended time, no new fields would be developed and we would soon have a real oil shortage, driving the price right back up.
As I write, the price of oil on the WTI index is $105.70, and $122.86 on the Brent index. The price has gone down about $7 per barrel since the weekend. The difference between that and a reasonable $80 price can be attributed about 30% to actual supply reductions due to the Libyan war, and 70% to fears (or speculation) that the situation in the middle east will get worse, not better. A speculator is someone making a bet on the future price of oil. He can bet that the price will go up, or bet that it will go down. When he bets that the price will go up, there is usually a good reason. However, speculators do not control the price of delivered oil. Williams mentions the peak futures price of $146 in 2008. However, the actual delivered price never got much over $110 per barrel. The speculators who bet on $146 per barrel lost a lot of money.

That said, the SEC or CFTA could reduce the volatility of the oil market by substantially increasing the margin, or down payment, that speculators have to put up to buy futures, according to energy analyst Robert Rapier.

My big concern is that the media, by featuring columns like that of Williams, is ignoring the reality of peak oil. Oil discoveries have lagged behind consumption for the past 20 years. Production from mature oil fields such as Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, Mexico's Cantarrel, and Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, is declining by 8 percent per year. The ANWR field, if developed, contains only enough oil to supply the world for 4 months. Production from Canadian tar sands may eventually increase from the current level of 1.5 million barrels per day to 3-4 million barrels per day over the next 10 years. But this would only offset one year's decline in production from current oil fields. The Bakken shale field in North Dakota is a very limited resource consisting of small pockets, although it currently produces about 2.5% of US consumption. The green river shale, which technically is not oil but kerogen, will never be produced commercially because the energy requirements to produce it exceed the energy gained once it is transformed into useful liquids. There was an experimental program called "Market Basket" to conduct small underground nuclear explosions to produce shale oil. Unfortunately, the resulting products were far too radioactive.

"It costs close to $80 per barrel to produce oil in the new fields.."

I see this a lot. Is there a source for it? Thunderhorse would be good :>)



rat - It would be good to keep clear the terminology we use in such a discusion. Typically the production cost ("lifting cost") of an oil well is rather small...from a dollar or two to $10. But even "lifting costs" is not consistant term. I might spend $3/bbl to produce the oil from a well but maybe spend an additional $10/bbl to dispose of salt water produced with the well. Does someone's "production cost" include transporting the oil to the buyer? The oil doesn't get hauled to the sales point for free.

Perhaps that "$80 per barrel to produce" actually means to develop the field. IOW to drill the wells and put the production facilities in place. But that number varies widely. It might cost $15/bbl to do so in an onshore field but could be much higher in an offshore field...especially deep water. And even then does a company add in the cost to just to drill and develop that one field or do they add in the costs of drilling many tens of $million spent drilling dry holes in other efforts? And are they figuring in the many tens of millions spent on overhead such as salaries, 3d seismic, etc?. A company might spend $100 million+ on a Deep Water prospect before they drill one foot of hole in the first well.

And even if you had all such details there will never be an "average cost" IMHO. Way too much variation. One could try to generate a weighted average. OTOH I'm not sure what value such a number would really present. If the average were $XX/bbl what would we do with that number? There would be oil much cheaper/more expensive to produce than that number represents. So what would it truly imply?

If you knew the cost distribution (including the breakdown of sunk versus continuing cost), you could do an economic analysis of how much oil is likely to be produced for a given price curve. I'm sure that would be useful for planning purposes.

I didn't see money paid to third parties; royalties, severance taxes etc. included in your list. From the standpoint of the producer, but not of the overall economy, those costs are real.

EOS - True - occupational habit: I automatically think in "net oil" terms...doesn't include royalties, etc. I'm not sure what you mean by planning purposes...are you referring to decisions to drill/not drill? I suspect so. The discussion breaks down some when a distinction isn't made between exploration, development and operating costs. A company might drill a well with an expectation of producing its oil at $20/bbl. In reality it could be less or a good deal more...even more than the price of oil. I've seen wells completed that we knew would produce oil at a cost above the current price of oil. When the decision to complete/produce a well is made the sunk costs don't factor in. It may have cost $5 million to drill a well that may only net the company $4 million. But if it costs only $1 million to complete the well we do it...$1 million to make $4 million isn't a bad deal. But the oil produced from the well would cost the company more per bbl than the oil will sell for.

Same is true on the production side. I've seen operators produce oil/NG at a cost greater than the sales price of the product. A variety of reasons with the desire to maintain the lease typically being the most important: stop producing a well for more than 30 days and most leases expire. This requires the company to spend a good sized chunk to plug the well and also loses an asset that someone may want to drill for other reasons. Bottom line: I've seen huge debates insides companies trying to come up with that "cost to produce" their oil/NG. And this from folks who have all the details we'll never have.

But the other bottom line: how much it cost a company to explore for, drill, complete and produce oil has no bearing on what oil sells for on any given day. The market determines that price. OTOH how aggressive companies explore and how much capex they'll expend is determined by the price of oil/NG. Or, more correctly, what future price expectations may be. We are currently producing a lot of NG from the various shale gas plays that cost much more to develop than NG is selling for today. Many wells were drilled based on price expectation 2 to 3 times what NG is selling for today. So many SG wells are money loses but are still contributing to the economy.

So back to my basic question: what is the goal of making such estimates of the cost to produce oil/NG? The costs to develop all the oil/NG produced today has no bearing on the price of oil/NG today. The current price of oil/NG has a minimal impact on keeping existing production flowing. Me and every other comapny would love to get a price based on what we've spent. But it don't work that way. LOL. OTOH the expectation of future oil/NG prices controls how much capex is risked looking for new reserves. But the correctness of that decision won't be made until after the well is drilled. The game has never change: you place your bets and you takes your chances.

Q: What is the production cost of bacon?
A: There is no production cost of bacon. There is a cost of raising a pig though. And that cost must be covered from selling all the different parts of the pig. But what is the cost of the bacon part? It just can't be calculated.

You are right, of course. I think that what is important is, what price does oil need to be in order to attract the capital needed to develop the field through production to delivery of product? If it takes $80 a bbl, then then that is the price it takes to do it, since anything less means no wells, no exploration, no nothing.

And what that price is is determined by a range of factors from the absolute cost of doing it, as you discussed, to the volatility of price, what is happening with the economy, what other things you could invest in for similar returns (or better or worse), and so forth.

Not an easy thing, I'd say.


"Is there a source for it?"
Here is some info for Kashagan.
Total estimated investment for development is $136 billion. Recoverable oil estimated at 8 billion bbl. If we assume that total annual interest, depreciation/depletion, insurance and risk costs are 15% of the investment, and average annual recovery is 5% of the field, or 400 million barrels, the development costs would be $51/barrel. Add to that the official royalties, unofficial kickbacks, lifting costs and transportation costs, and they would probably need around $80/bbl to make a profit.

For Thunderhorse, development costs were $5 billion, and recoverable oil originally estimated at 1 billion bbl, but more likely 500 million. Using the same assumptions, development costs would be $31 per barrel. Royalties there are I think 12.5% of the sale price. Their costs are going to be very sensitive to total recovery.

I know this cost calculation would be a little off since oil field production is somewhat front loaded. I am used to doing straight line calculations for the logging industry.

The whole futures thing again.
Every futures contract bought is a futures contract sold. Both parties have to put up margin.
If somebody bought at 146 that does not mean that they lost a lot of money. Perhaps they sold at 145.
And whomever sold them the contract at 146 and bought it back at (for example 145) made that money.
And even if somebody bought at 146 and held it down to 50 they may have lost their shirt but the other party made a fortune.
In aggregate there are no gains or losses in the futures markets. The sum of all longs and all short is zero.


Not really, WP. The sum of all longs and all shorts is less than zero... the house makes a profit on every turn.

In fact, investment in stocks purchased from anyone other than the company is simple gambling, with the house guaranteed to win on the game.

And, all those stocks changing hands, and all that money and wealth being 'created' is all waste. No real jobs are created (I guess brokers have jobs, but not truly productive ones). It is why giving wealthy people a tax break does not create jobs. Most of the dollars they save go into the stock market, or the bond market, or the commodities market, where they gamble on whether it goes up or down, and there is a not quite zero sum game, with the house the only constant winner. Even in an IPO where at least the corporation gets the proceeds (less brokerage fees, of course).

And that is why Wall Street Brokers get Billion Dollar Bonuses.


Oh, please please excuse me, for I know nothing about this... I call it money masturbation. High-speed trading makes the situation clear: Positions are held for about eleven seconds. It is Maxwell's Stock-Broker: If the stock trends in the direction of the bet, it is held. If it reverses, it is dropped. There is no "market estimation of the value of the product or service". It is a game, like "Close Range", played by humans using fast computers.


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 8, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.0 million barrels per day during the week ending April 8, 354 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 81.4 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging about 4.1 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 8.6 million barrels per day last week, down by 379 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, 316 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 889 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 101 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.6 million barrels from the previous week. At 359.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 7.0 million barrels last week and are near the lower limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 5.0 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged nearly 19.1 million barrels per day, up by 0.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged nearly 9.0 million barrels per day, down by 1.6 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 1.4 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.6 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Crude Oil Rises on Bigger-Than-Forecast Decline in U.S. Gasoline Supplies

Crude oil and gasoline rose after a U.S. government report showed inventories of the motor fuel plunged the most in 12 years as demand climbed and refineries idled units.

The decline in gasoline inventories was the largest on a per-barrel basis since Oct. 9, 1998.

Does that curve include Minimum Operation Level oil? I think that number is ike 85 million barrels. After that you begin draining oil in the pipes. If so, then the distans between here and actual zero is so much shorter. I am sure there are people here at TOD who know this.

Free Falling

US gasoline stocks continue their breath taking plunge while media pundits continue to say – not to worry, demand destruction is coming. In the downward race between ‘demand destruction’ and declining supplies, supplies are clearly winning, and diminishing faster than demand destruction. Again, east coast supplies of gasoline were hot particulary hard.

Seasonally in the first three months or so into 2011, US gasoline supplies have fell the fastest ever for this time of the year (during the last 20 years for which records are available).

The reasons for this are about the same as those detailed last week, such as a slower than expected 'turnaround' from some refiners converting to 'summer blends' from 'winter blends', the Colonial Pipeline is no longer operating as fully allocated (100% utilized), and reduced supply of high quality oil from northern and western Africa - especially in the eastern US. Crude inputs into eastern refiners have fallen by an astounding 40% over the last month.

Crude imports also slid this week, which appears to have much to do with less oil arriving in the US from various African destinations – including Libya – plus some reduction in imports from Canada. It is not clear if the drop in Canadian imports was intentional, and reduced as a result of record high supplies in Cushing, OK. There is not much prospect of crude imports improving in April and May (excluding Mexico and Canada) based upon shipments already in transit.

The US still has to increase its oil imports or reduce its oil product exports by about 700,000 bpd to avoid shortages of gasoline and/or diesel later in the year. Yes shortages – it’s not just about the price, although higher prices will mostly but not completely help balance demand with available supplies. Although the US has complex and fairly efficient oil and product distribution system, roughly split into two large areas east and west of the Rocky Mountains, cities located further away from ports, refineries, and pipelines may experience shortages first when supplies run low. Local stations without firm contracts with oil product distribution/refining companies may also loose access to supplies.

Despite the widely publicized prediction that Japan’s oil demand will drop about 250,000 bpd, Japan’s demand for oil products has hardly changed – and may have even increased. It is getting the extra oil products it needs from East Asian nations, while some of its refining capacity remains offline.

Question regarding the statement of possible gasoline/diesel shortages this summer, especially in regard to diesel: How can there be a shortage when the weekly report has for the last couple of years reported distillate inventories that are above the upper limit of the average range for the current time of the year?

You have to look at the rate as well as the current level. Say you have had a good year, and have money in the bank, but are bringing home significantly less than you spend. It is easy to predict when you will go broke given current habits. Just because you have bounced no checks this year and have more money in the bank than you did a decade ago is not a sound indicator of how you will do next year.

d(gasoline_stock)/dt is a big negative number. Strong downward velocity cannot be met by increasing production.

Hence big problem!

Meet gasoline shortage and crude oil big up in the near future.

Hi Charles, a quick question:

Looking forward into summer, if the bulk of product shortages and idle refinery capacity is on the east coast, does this reduce the likelihood that a SPR release (located in LA and TX(?)) can mitigate those shortages in a timely fashion?

About three years ago, I did some extensive research concerning government energy reports not on the internet. I did find information concerning minimum operating levels (MOLs). Below the MOLs, shortages may start to develop as the entire oil product distribution system starts to function less efficiently. This level may be about 180 to 190 million barrels for gasoline. It may be easier to see on this chart:


At the present rapid rate of inventory decline then, we are not many weeks away from reaching the MOLs, and some type of supply problem.

I did not find any coherent plan as to how the US intends to implement an emergency distribution of oil across the country from the SPR. It appears the most efficient use of the SPR oil is to refine in the Louisiana-Texas area and ship it by pipeline to the South and Northeast. But both spare refining and pipeline capacity is limited, so crude oil must be shipped east. In general, eastern coast refiners are not optimized for the most common type of SPR available, although they could adjust to refining it themselves (but that may take a few weeks). The bigger problem would be transporting oil for them to the east. Sending oil from the SPR to the Gulf Coast then loading it back into tankers for a trip to the East is possible, but would take longer than sending by pipeline. In the last five years when there were hurricane or pipeline related problems in Louisiana-Texas, smaller tankers were employed mainly for the purpose of sending gasoline to the southeast part of the US.

So in the general, the east must prepare for shortages before they occur, or else there may be a time gap while supplies are on there way, or a refinery turnaround is made. Alternatively, the IEA could declare an emergency as they did in 2005, and have the US request gasoline supplies from around the world. That may not work well, as Japan now needs extra gasoline supplies from the rest of the world.

The bigger problem would be transporting oil for them to the east. Sending oil from the SPR to the Gulf Coast then loading it back into tankers for a trip to the East is possible, but would take longer than sending by pipeline. In the last five years when there were hurricane or pipeline related problems in Louisiana-Texas, smaller tankers were employed mainly for the purpose of sending gasoline to the southeast part of the US.

Nothing specific about the quote above, except the focus on the SPR. The concept I wanted to bring up was Al Gore's presidential Oil for the Northeast bid in September, 2000 - about the same time Gore was flushing water down drought-ridden Maryland rivers for photo-ops. Anyway, if anyone remembers, Gore was crying for the poor North-Easterners who were about to face a long hard winter without enough heating oil. He managed to convince the government (he was VP, remember) to release some Oil from the SPR to be provided to the needy of New England.

What Gore failed to do, was manage the project to the finish. SPR Oil was released to tankers who then, you probably guessed it, steamed right on over to the highest bidders, including England. The Northeast never even saw the Oil, nor was there any spare refinery capacity to process it!

[I am having little luck finding cites regarding this, but it was a newsworthy item back in that time.]

For a blast from the past, see:

Vice President Gore said the current administration would not "sit around and do nothing" while consumers were being charged "outrageously high" oil prices.

"I will not go along with the apologists for big oil and support an agenda that is of big oil, for big oil and by big oil," Gore said.
Gore said initial indications were that the release of SPR had been effective, adding that crude oil prices had come down to $32 a barrel from $37.


And here's some interesting stuff on the SPR.


Your updates are absolutely golden, Charles.

Yes shortages – it’s not just about the price, although higher prices will mostly but not completely help balance demand with available supplies.

IMO, no shortages. Like you, I have not done hard analysis but it seems pretty clear to me that past a certain price point, demand falls in equal amounts as price rises. This is because the average driver has limited income to spend on gasoline (see image). $4/gallon in the US may be that approximate tipping point. If gasoline goes to $5/gallon (which I believe it will if the global economy holds together), then you will see a 1/5th drop in gasoline demand. Supply would equal demand. If $5/gallon isn't high enough, it will go to $6 or $20 or $100 unless the government starts rationing.

Fighting Oil Addiction: August 2009

Date         $/barrel      euro/barrel
2010-08-30      70.00            54.83
2011-04-13     107.00            74.07

increase           53 %             35 %

First, if you compare the price increases in $/barrel and euros/barrel, you can see that the price increase in the US is much larger, due to the decline of the dollar.

Second, the price of diesel or gasoline in Europe is greatly influenced by the tax rate, which does not adjust upwards with the price, but is an amount per litre. Therefore, the percentage increase of finished products in the eurozone or other countries like Switzerland with a strong currency is lower, perhaps more like 20%

Therefore, I don't see any reason for OPEC to worry unduly about the price of oil causing demand destruction or recession on a global basis. While China, which has a currency pegged to the dollar, is also experiencing the high rate of price increases, they may actually want to cool off their economy.

Seems that the Midwest, Gulf Coast, and New England are all digging into their supplies, but the West coast is still pretty flat. They must be using what they get from Alaska.

I wonder if all those big Bank bonuses in New England will eat up the gasoline faster. LOL. You reap what you sow I guess.

It is not clear if the drop in Canadian imports was intentional, and reduced as a result of record high supplies in Cushing, OK.

There is a great deal of oil backing up in Canada which would go to US refineries if there was pipeline capacity to get it there. It could go to Cushing, but the tanks there are full. Deliveries on the other pipelines are currently apportioned to less than is available because of capacity limitations. Regardless, the Obama administration is holding up approvals for pipeline expansions. I don't think they realize that there is a problem developing in oil supplies to coastal regions (particularly California).

Saudi Arabia claims to have the world's largest oil reserves, and also claims to be able to increase production well above current levels. That oil could be delivered to US coastal refineries, but we're not seeing the oil on the market.


I may be missing a little in geography for this part of the world, but what is stopping the shipment of oil down the great lakes to the east coast of the States and Canada for that matter. I realise you can not fit VLCCs up the lakes, but surely even coastal tankers should be able to move fair quanties of oil to the coast.

The Canadian pipelines do go near the lakes, don't they?

The Canadian pipelines can already deliver crude oil to Buffalo, NY and Eastern Pennsylvania.

The problem is limited capacity on the lines - it is usually rationed to less than the demand due to capacity shortages. There is also the issue of getting the oil to tidewater. The Enbridge Trailbreaker pipeline which would have taken the oil to Portland Maine was put on hold a couple of years ago.

The big need is for a pipeline that would take the oil from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast. About half of the refining capacity in the US is on the Gulf Coast, and the refineries there are better able to handle heavy oil than East Coast Refineries. They are designed to handle Venezuelan Extra-Heavy oil, which is of similar quality to Canadian Bitumen, and which is becoming scarce as Venezuelan exports decline.


So I gather from your answer, no oil goes via ship down the St Lawerance Seaway. 28000ton being the SeawayMax, would be a little limiting. Though the 70,000max around the Lakes sounds econonicial, if could connect a pipeline to a refinery.

No refineries on the Lakes I suppose?


The record tonnage for one vessel on the Seaway is 28,502 tons of iron ore while the record through the larger locks of the Great Lakes Waterway is 72,351 tons

This is somewhat outside my area of expertise, but a little checking discloses that they actually are moving millions of tons and billions of dollars worth of crude oil on the Great Lakes. Canadian crude oil moves by tanker largely to refineries in Maine, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

In general, though, moving the oil by pipeline is cheaper and more efficient. If the seaway tankers are limited to 28,000 tons, that is considerably smaller than the big ocean-going tankers and would be less economical for moving oil.

Some thoughts on price-induced demand destruction...

Let's say I have $100 weekly budget for gasoline. I always spend the entire budget no matter what. No deficit, no surplus.

At $3.50/gal, I can purchase roughly 28.6 gallons of gasoline.
At $4/gal, I can purchase only 25 gallons of gasoline.

So my demand has dropped by 3.6 gallons. If we apply these assumptions to the entire US, does this justify a decrease in price because demand has dropped?

I'm concerned that we may see a drop in price due to reports that demand is dropping when in fact people are just getting as much as they can for their dollar. I suppose the price would eventually find a range that it would fluctuate in until new supply became available or we get some serious demand destruction.

What's likely to happen is that the price of those 3.6 gallons will most likely, or at least partially, be felt in other areas of your life. Most likely in areas of your budget where you feel you can cut back more easily: i.e. 'luxury' stuff.

It also depends how far you go to work. Some people are simply lazy, and you can shop without a car if you have a cart and the mall/store is not far from your home.

But either way, yes, your budget for things other than fuel shrinks. And if you drive less, then doing other things takes more time and time=money as we all know.

And then you have the inflation issue, as oil prices rises, so usually does the price of everything else, so it's a double whammy.

People are still spending more than they used to for gas. They've cut back on their consumption, but not enough to make up for the increase in price.

That is what you'd expect. It is even the rational response. Cut back the more marginal activities. Pay a bit of attention to combining trips. Don't drive like a speed-freak-maniac....

...with the usual exception for residents of the Lone Star State.

Well, there is the rational response, and then there is the macho-redneck response.

I'm one exception to that spending pattern. Since the beginning of the year I've shifted my commute (100 mi round trip) to a combination of alternate transit modes - bike, bus, train & light rail, and have kept a record of costs. So far I have saved $537 on fuel costs (diesel) over what it would have cost to drive 100% of the time. On a total direct cost basis (fuel & ticket costs only - no vehicle expenses considered) I have saved $276 and avoided approximately 2000 lbs of CO2 emissions.

Let's say I have $100 weekly budget for gasoline. I always spend the entire budget no matter what. No deficit, no surplus.

How many people actually budget for fuel, and if so do they keep to that budget? I've never budgeted for fuel. Instead there is a sense of how much is being spent at the pump and if it goes higher I get more efficient with the driving that is done to map out where I'm going and get all the things needed, and drive less often. Effectively the same result spending about the same, but less gallons burned. I guess that's why they call it conservation.

But conservation will only work up to a certain point. Once the price of fuel goes higher than conservation can sustain the same transportation neeed results of going where needed to get what's needed, to go to work or whatever, then something financial must give. Either a switch to mass transit or cutbacks in discretionary spending, which is what happened in 08. The result was a recession, hastended and accentuated by the mortgage meltdown.

It won't be long now at these prices for restaurants and retail outlets to fold. Probably in the 3/4th quarters of this year.

The restaurants are being hit with a double whammy. Higher food/fuel costs and fewer customers.

It won't be long now at these prices for restaurants and retail outlets to fold. Probably in the 3/4th quarters of this year.

Decent restaurants and malls are booming here. Roads are crowded again. Even the mostly-vacant new strip malls are slowly filling. New banks are popping up on corners (a bizarre but continuing phenomenon in this world of on-line banking). Roadwork continues, with seasonal repair plus widening. Only new housing seems to still be a slump.

Employees universally say their companies are doing better, but it's still tight, and all are working harder than they used to. Business managers say they have openings, but can't find good applicants at parity prices....but have a never-ending glut of "sign the form" unemployed people coming through. The inexperienced and older or niche workers are having a hard time. The wealthy and highly skilled in demand industries are doing fine.

There is a sense among many that some on unemployment see that as better ROI than working for the available jobs, and there is a shortage of jobs for skilled workers at the same time there is a shortage of skilled workers for other jobs. Few good workers are seeking to change industries or even jobs, as they hunker down where they are establishes, so the worker flux is heavily weighted to the oddball skillsets and deadwood.

My information is non-scientific but broad, based on sitting next to people on flights, chatting up business owners I know, and talking with people at my kids events. And of course my own company and industry.

In sum, things are clearly better, but not quite right. The economy is fractured, with a "good part" and a "bad part" from several dimensions. As long as you're on the "good" side of things, it's not so bad. On average things are OK. If you get into quartiles or deciles, though, things are bumpy.

If I may ask; where's "here"?

Oklahoma. Helps to have a low set point for relative measurements..

I would agree to some extent.

It's all sort of being managed. Not very well in my opinion, but it is what it is.

The smart people are already planning, in whatever way they can, for an uncertain future. Even in a collapse there will be winners and losers. So right now, there are in fact winners. Do all of these people deserve their millions? Probably not. But if you do the right things, you can still preserve a semblance of middle class existence, at least for awhile.

Few good workers are seeking to change industries or even jobs, as they hunker down where they are establishes, so the worker flux is heavily weighted to the oddball skillsets and deadwood.

Theres a bit of self-fufilling prophecy effect going on. Get laid off, and you are now labeled as worthless deadwood, not worthy of consideration for hiring. So it is indeed structural unemployment, as losing your job is a bit of a oneway ratchet.

That is not as theoretical as you might think. We budget a dollar amount per month for gasoline for 2 vehicles. When we start running out, we stop driving. Right now trips are being rationed, and most trips do the job of two last year.

If we keep going up, I will be doing a whole lot of biking. I have an electric bike that has about a 25 mile range... sufficient for getting to market and back, with a basket on the front loaded and a back pack full of groceries.


If you can, try to get panniers. Much better balance than a backpack for carrying stuff.

Collateral Damage

Japan Nuclear Evacuation May Force Hitachi, Boehringer to Abandon Plants

Boehringer, the world’s largest family-owned drugmaker, halted production at a factory that makes energy drinks in Namie, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the leaking power station following the March 11 temblor and tsunami. Hitachi Chemical shuttered a plant making carbon brushes for train motors in the same town, causing a parts shortage that disrupted rail services.

...“Manufacturers are going to have to start production at other places,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million in assets in Tokyo at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. “Companies will have some stock on hand but suppliers are going to start losing business if they don’t restart production.”

Wind-power producers fight possible shutdown of turbines

Pacific Northwest wind-power producers are battling a proposal that could force them to periodically shut down their plants in the months ahead, potentially costing them millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) officials say that limiting wind production could be required to free up space in the regional transmission system to handle hydropower generated from the melt-off of a huge mountain snowpack this year.

This story in the Seattle times today is hugely important. Up here in the Northwest we have an embarrassment of riches with lots of hydro and a rapidly growing wind sector. Here's a recent electricity generation profile using data from the EIA:

We are usually an electricity exporting state because of our bountiful hydropower. And our populace and legislature lean toward green so that we have mandates that utilities must include increasing amounts of renewables (not including hydro) in the mix. Now that we have a large and growing wind sector we are beginning to bump up against the issues of transmission gridlock when both wind and hydro are producing the most -- typically in the Spring. (We can only dial back hydro generation so much before seeing adverse consequences to fish in the rivers.)

One option is to add more transmission lines but this is a very expensive proposition if it is only needed intermittently. Heck, it's expensive even if you use it all the time.

I'll be interested to hear from any knowledgable sources why we can't dial back production from Nat. Gas. power plants to make room for more wind generation. At least some Nat. Gas. plants are 'peaking' plants that can rapidly increase or decrease their output.

Alternatively, there may be something else useful to do with excess electricity. The aluminum smelters on the Columbia river have mostly all shut down by now, outsourced to lower wage countries. How cheap does electricity need to be before it makes sense to use it to generate anhydrous ammonia as proposed by Freedom Fertilizer. The current price of free seems like it should be cheap enough.

I would love to hear from anyone knowledgable about these issues.


We're in the same boat here in Oregon - In the Spring excess electricity is shipped to California below market rates, because there isn't sufficient grid capacity to send it East. Maybe that grid limitation will turn out to be a good thing when the rolling blackouts begin.

I still have a problem with ammonia for energy storage, because the oft-quoted energy-balance calculations neglect the kinetics of the Haber-Bosch process. It's horrendously inefficient and strongly dependent on economies of scale to make it work. From Wiki:

As the temperature increases, the equilibrium is shifted and hence, the amount of product drops dramatically according to the Van't Hoff equation. Thus one might suppose that a low temperature is to be used and some other means to increase rate. However, the catalyst itself requires a temperature of at least 400 °C to be efficient.
Pressure is the obvious choice to favour the forward reaction because there are 4 moles of reactant for every 2 moles of product (see entropy), and the pressure used (around 200 atm) alters the equilibrium concentrations to give a profitable yield.
Economically, though, pressure is an expensive commodity. Pipes and reaction vessels need to be strengthened, valves more rigorous, and there are safety considerations of working at 200 atm. In addition, running pumps and compressors takes considerable energy. Thus the compromise used gives a single pass yield of around 15%.

So, ammonia/methane at 400°C and 200 bar, scaled up as much as feasible - in whose back yard?

I'm assuming both the wind and hydro production is out in the boonies, and has to compete for limited boonies to city transmission capability. If the peakers are located near the city, they don't compete for transmission capability. If the peakers are located near the wind, but only needed during late summer when temps are high and hydro is low, they may also not compete. It is really an economic tradeoff, how much opportunity cost from spilling wind/hydro versus the cost of adding transmission capacity. Does this only happen for a few months during very wet years, or is it a more common experience?

The other approach is to find local uses for intermittently available very cheap power. Glen Doties, WindFuels is one such possibility. But anything whose main cost if power, and which can sit idle most of the time when excess wind isn't available should do.

If the peakers are located near the city, they don't compete for transmission capability.


The peakers ARE located close to the cities/load centres, as they should be.
The solution for wind is the same as it is for hydro(or the oilsands even) - if you are going to produce a lot in isolated areas, you have to build new transmission lines to get your product to market - it literally is that simple.

But anything whose main cost is power, and which can sit idle most of the time when excess wind isn't available
You can try and bring a market to the generation, like the ammonia proposals, but that is not at all easy. Those thermochemical processes need to run steady state - they don;t work at all well being ramped up and down with the wind.

It's kinda funny, because with all our talk about saving energy, excess wind power requires us to come up with ways to use more energy (on a predictably unpredictable basis, to use WHT's description), and so far, society has really not come up with anything useful/profitable. The capital cost of having something sit idle for 2/3 of the time is a tough hurdle to overcome.

It looks to me as if the main problem is that so much of the power pie is from one source. That is something to look toward moving away from ideally by expanding other re-newables.

But yeah, it would be good to develop some kind of industry or storage system--even if it is relatively inefficient, that could be used in these types of situations. There is obviously a lot of water in the area, so some type of water electrolysis system may be a good plan. It's a technology that doesn't make much sense except in these types of situations where you have a lot of potential energy that would otherwise be completely wasted or shut down.

Even better would be a PV plant. But obviously either of those are longer term investment that people don't willingly make for the purpose of exploiting a very occasional and unreliable circumstance.

Even better would be some kind of carbon sequestration system that could be quickly put together wherever such circumstances arise.

This reminds me of the situation reported for eastern Germany where reportedly there are occasional excesses of wind generated electricity.

Jonathan, I assume the 11% attributed to coal comes from the one Trans
Alta coal plant in Centralia?

It does seem fundamentally immoral to force renewables to shut down if part of our surplus power comes from coal.
I understand there is a bill in the state senate to force the TransAlta plant to shut early?
Wouldn't that change the arithmetic?

It won;t help as much as you think. The real problem is the transmission constraint from the wind and hydro using the same lines from the eastern part of the state - the Centralia plant is on the "load side" of that bottleneck. So the main beneficiary of shutting that plant down will be the NG peakers, and BC Hydro (who will be very happy to take Wa's money)

The total mix is only part of the story, the geographical constraints for wind are one of the two main hurdles to greater adoption (the other being the variability)


Do you have any insights or links into the politics/licensing/financing of transmission lines?

At this time of year the closest real market for excess power from the NorthWest (SouthWest to you?) is California which is a long ways away. I haven't paid much attention to this issue before but it seems that some sort of expansion of N-S transmission lines should be in the works. But who would fund it and how? And what sort of regulatory hurdles are in place.

Also, I read in one of the comments in the Seattle Times story that the wind operators could have purchased non-interruptable transmission access to the BPA-managed grid but instead chose the cheaper option to be more 'competitive'. If true, this turn of events may be BPA's way of forcing them to pay up next time.

All these issues would make a fascinating post if anyone already has the answers. Otherwise I'll put researching this on my own back burner.


There is also the option of upgrading transmission lines when they need replacing anyway with newer cables and higher voltages

it is not always that simple. There are set rules about the design and clearances for cables ands things at different voltages. A 69kV line can be done on single wooden poles - a 139 cannot. A 250kV is different again, as is a 500 and if you want to see really heavy duty look the towers on a 750kV line.

There may be some cases where the towers were built with this in mind, but in most cases they are not.

Hi Jon,

I can't offer much re the politics/financing of transmission lines except to say it always boils down to this: everyone wants them built, and no one (neither generators or power customers) wants to pay for them!

The spring freshet does see excess power for both the greater (BC) and lesser (WA and OR) parts of the PNW, and it can be, and is, sent to Ca, but their real peak is in July/Aug, when the freshet is over, and you start drawing dam levels down.

You can get a lot of good information from the BPA's website, including this map of proposed wind projects;

Here is what those projects add up to for next five years;

Up to 10GW of wind is a LOT - that is 1 1/2 times Grand Coulee Dam, except that you can't control it. here is their wind power over the last week;

From 3000MW to zero in hours and then back up again - when it is down the hydro plants have to step in, though turning rivers on and off like that can have its own problems.

In any case, at 10GW of wind there has to be a LOT of transmission built, and, it should be paid for by the wind operators - they are the ones using it, and even when they aren't, it has to be set aside for them.

Eventually, BPA and others will simply say to the wind operators to build their own lines, or pay for someone else to - if you want to ride the train, you have to pay the fare

everyone wants them built, and no one (neither generators or power customers) wants to pay for them!

But, no-one wants them near their home, or near their personal playground. So any new lines get fought touth and nail. And the wrangling can go on for years.

Thanks Paul and Jonathon.

I might add part of the problem is also the loss of load in the east side of the state. It was heavy into aluminum and smelting, in the last 10 years, we've lost more of it, tho limited remains are in Mead, WA. There were also large molybdenum mines and refining in Stevens Co, since closed, along with many sawmills throughout Idaho, Washington and Montana, perhaps the largest recent closure near Republic.

Couple that with the huge, extensive snowpack this year in the intermountain NW, noted in the lead story. All reservoir levels are flushed to the lowest I've seen in anticipation of spring melt. So I fear your calls for increased transmission capacity may get drowned in the melt, as an anomalous year.

That said, I've heard of rumors for a pumped storage system at Crab Creek, WA. Any confirmation?

Nothing uses quite as much juice as an aluminum smelter but the Google and Microsoft server farms in Qunicy are a significant load. Of course they need 100% up time. The real problem is finding something to do with intermittent generation or a way to store excess generation for a period of six months.

The Crab Creek system you mention is described at HydroWorld:

United Power Corp. of Monmouth, Ore., is studying the feasibility of developing the 2,000-MW Sentinel Mountain pumped-storage project on Crab Creek and Moses Lake in Washington.

United Power is conducting the study under terms of a three-year preliminary permit issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The permit expires March 31, 2010.

Sentinel Mountain would include two new dams, an upper and lower reservoir, and two powerhouses containing four units. The project would be expected to generate about 2,628 gigawatt-hours annually, for sale to a local utility.

But there doesn't seem to be anything more recent that I can easily find.

Having driven up Crab Creek I can say, even as an enviro-kook, that this might be a good site for pumped storage. Whatever original desert ecosystem that existed there was radically altered by the changes in the water table associated with the Columbia Reclamation Project and Crab Creek currently serves mostly as a drainage ditches for irrigation projects uphill. It's a cool area to visit to be sure and may provide important habitat but I'm assuming there's enough room outside the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge to build a pretty big pumped storage site.

Interesting the permit expired last spring, given talk that suggests it's moving forward. Cattlemen who used to spring graze in the area complain of lease and land prices there that have skyrocketed. It's early season drew grazers from states away.

RE: Wind-power producers fight possible shutdown of turbines

From the article:

For many wind-power producers, a big part of the payback is collecting tax credits for power production. Those credits couldn't be collected during shutdowns.

Well, hello! Isn't that interesting? Expensive techno-boondoggles craftily packaged as shiny new "green" energy, but in reality little more than fat-cat schemes to harvest millions in free flowing taxpayer dollars.

I wonder, just how viable will these installations be when our crushing economic contraction eliminates government subsidies altogether? How many years before all those giant steel pylons are little more than rusting hulks?

When I see those pictures of wind farms for some reason I'm reminded of the giant "HOLLYWOOD" sign in the hills over L.A. Now, writ large in neat rows of turbines on the barren hills over industrial civilization is the word "CLUELESS".


I wonder, just how viable will these installations be when our crushing economic contraction eliminates government subsidies altogether?

I wonder just how viable fossil fuels will be when their government subsidies are eliminated. Go ahead and level the playing field... I dare you!

I wonder, just how viable will these installations be when our crushing economic contraction eliminates government subsidies altogether? How many years before all those giant steel pylons are little more than rusting hulks?

I imagine they will be a heck of a lot more viable then a nuclear power plant without uranium, a coal plant without access to coal or a ICE car without access to gasoline.

Sure, wind turbines were and are subsidized, but guess what, that "too cheap to meter" nuclear plant gets the incredible benefit of free limited liability in case of an accident. It has been stated that;

The potential liability from a nuclear accident/terrorist attack/natural disaster is so great that is perceived that no nuclear power plant could be built if the owner had to pay for the full cost of liability insurance. Currently in the U.S. the liability is limited on liability for nuclear power plants under the Price-Anderson Act (PAA).


Coal gets the benefit of not paying the full cost of the pollution it generates, not to mention the greenhouse gases. Since we are talking about Washington here, the lone, single coal-fired generation plant in Centralia, Washington produces 350 lbs of mercury pollution per year (the largest emitter in the entire state) as well as being the largest single source of greenhouse gases in the entire state.

Do we even need to discuss the direct and indirect subsidies for oil? This has been covered enough times already, imo.

So, I'll keep our clean hydropower and those "expensive techno-boondoggles" also known as windmills, and you can keep your high-polluting, supply limited, generation facilities. Even if the subsidies magically disappeared overnight, the developers/operators of the sites might lose some money, but electricity would still be generated at those sites. The difference is that wind turbine subsidies go to making the cost of building new facilities cheaper, whereas the subsidies for oil/coal/gas/nuclear go towards maintaining the status quo and keeping the real costs under the carpet.

What would your prefered electricity generation mechanism be other than these "techno-boondoggles" and would you be ok if that type of a generation facility opened up in your town, next to your kid's school or down the road from your house?

" nuclear plant gets the incredible benefit of free limited liability in case of an accident. It has been stated that;

And now in Japan TEPCO looks like the liability will be covered, in part, by the State. Free moving to paid. Privatize the profits, make the loss the public's problem.

jonathan.s.callahan, I suspect the most challenging time is during low load periods when the wind is blowing and they need to keep the hydro on to keep from hurting the fish. Electricity needs to be used the same instant it is generated. The existing transmission system was not designed to interconnect all the wind that is now connected. It sounds as though many of the wind developers connected via non-firm connections. Connecting non-firm reduces the upgrades required for the connection, but when the transmission grid is stressed these non-firm connections are the first to be called to shutdown.

The electrical system requires spinning reserve to accommodate changes in customer load as well as generation output. Operating a transmission grid is a dynamic system. Studies are made to identify that the system will be stable following the loss of key transmission facilities. It is a very complex machine and maintaining its stability is important due to the criticality of reliable electricity.

Although not desirable, the spilling of excess wind during certain times of the year may be unavoidable with the present system. Long-term, additional transmission facilities will help accommodate the existing wind as more will that will likely want to interconnect.

Renesas factory rehab key to car production

Renesas Electronics Corp., headquartered in Kawasaki, holds 42 percent of global market share in microcomputer units (MCUs), which are indispensable for controlling automotive engines and other systems.

The company's main production facility, the Naka factory in Ibaraki Prefecture, was damaged in the quake. Since then, automakers dependent on Renesas components in Japan and around the world have crossed industry boundaries and are trying to give the semiconductor firm a hand to help it resume production as soon as possible.

Renesas possesses just seven weeks of inventory--enough to last until the end of May--but it said MCU production could partially resume only in early July or later. As automakers order MCUs for many of their models, auto factories will be forced to halt production if Renesas runs out of stock. "There's not a car that doesn't have a Renesas MCU installed that holds a top share in the global market," an industry source said.

Parts Paralysis: A Shuttered Chip Plant Could Cost Up To 11 Million Cars Worldwide

Renesas supplies 18-20 percent of the world’s automotive MCU market. About 70 percent of the production is sold to Japanese automakers, the remaining 30 percent goes to US and European car companies. “The supply of these MCUs is not easily replaceable,” says ICSIS, “as boosting production at other sites could take as long as six to nine months.”

Deutsche Bank estimates that 12 percent of the U.S. Big Three production is affected by the MCU disruption. In a worst-case scenario, global auto production of around 76m units last year could be reduced by 7.5 million to 11 million units, or 10-14 percent, say the bankers.

Norway has just published their Production figures March 2011

Their production of Crude + Condensate was 1,808,000 bp/d. That was down 78,000 bp/d from February and down 175,000 bp/d from March of 2010. Their production is dropping at a rate of about 9 percent per year.

Ron P.

Thanks for tracking this stuff.

As the months pass by and the years fade into history, the actual production figures will be what is written on the tombstones.

In 2001 Norwegian oil production peaked at 3.4 million barrels per day and it has been declining every year since. I think they are now getting to the steep part of the decline curve.

Fortunately, Norway has over $500 million in its national oil fund, and it is forecast to reach $1 trillion by 2020, so I think they're fully prepared for a decline in their oil production. I'm not sure the rest of Europe is ready for it, though.

Norway to tilt $570 bln SWF away from Europe

Norway's Finance Ministry said on Friday that over time its giant sovereign wealth fund (SWF) will reduce its exposure to European markets due to smaller than envisaged currency risk and may up stakes in emerging markets.

The review document did not mention the European debt crisis as a reason for limiting exposure but it stated that "global production capacity and financial markets" were increasingly located outside of Europe, often in emerging markets.

So Norway's production is dropping at 9% while (see below) China's demand is rising by about 7%.

I know that these are just two countries, but this is the math we are now starting to see world wide (esp. with ELM factored in).

Is Rembrandt ever going to return to giving us monthly updates with all those nifty graphs?

Interesting that they project matching last year's production in the second half of the year.

Record number of Americans get government help

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- One in six Americans is receiving help from the government, just as fiscal austerity threatens to reduce some of that aid.

Soaring unemployment during The Great Recession has driven tens of millions of people to the dole. Enrollment in Medicaid and food stamp programs are at record highs, while unemployment insurance rolls remain at elevated levels. Many people depend on more than one program.

The Federal Reserve keeps patting itself on the back about the benefits of its loose fiscal policy. That same policy is likely contributing to the increases in food and other commodity prices that poor Americans are struggling to pay.

Currently, one in seven Americans receive food stamps, the highest share of the population ever to do so, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

The Federal Reserve sets monetary policy. Congress and the President set fiscal policy.

X, thanks for the correction.

The Federal Reserve sets monetary policy.

The Constitution of the United States places monetary policy in the federal government. If the federal government refuses to do its job and sub-lets it to a group of private owners of the private bank called The Federal Reserve Bank they are failing to do their job.

Oil demand in China is increasing 6.7% for April 2011

Oil demand in China is moving higher toward into April with the opening of the busy spring agriculture and fishing season. Total oil demand in China is expected to approach 10.4 million barrels per day in April, increasing by 6.7 percent compared with the same period of last year.

Does anyone know the average retail price for gasoline in China? Isn't it being subsidized by the Chinese government?

If someone finds out, it'll be interesting to see it in context of wages or percentage of income. We know average income in dollar is far below that of the U.S. so a direct translation to $dollars/barrel isn't the best way, I suppose.

China lifts gasoline, diesel prices - April 7, 2011

This shows a wholesale gasoline price of 8580 yuan/ton. At .739 specific gravity a ton should be 1353 litres or 357.47 gallons. 8580 yuan equate to $1313.27. So that would be about $3.67/gallon wholesale gas price. The spot price for unleaded gas New York Harbor is about $3.21/gallon by comparison.

from Bloomberg April 7, 2011

After today’s adjustment, gasoline in China will retail at $1.05 a liter on average, according to Bloomberg calculations

When I was in Shanghai last year, it was pretty close to $1.00 per liter. (I wasn't driving; just checking the prices as I walked by.) Few people own cars there but there were still plenty of BMW's around. The few pumps they have were often lined up. Other than the buses and taxis, most vehicles are small trucks, sedans and motorcycles (including motorcycle/trucks).

When they increase the value of the yuan then their prices will increase in dollar terms without being noticed by Chinese consumers.

Researchers find replacement for rare material indium tin oxide

Dutch researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have developed a replacement for indium tin oxide (ITO), an important material used in displays for all kinds of everyday products such as TVs, telephones and laptops, as well as in solar cells. Unfortunately indium is a rare metal, and the available supplies are expected to be virtually exhausted within as little as ten years. The replacement material is a transparent, conducting film produced in water, and based on electrically conducting carbon nanotubes and plastic nanoparticles. It is made of commonly available materials, and on top of that is also environment-friendly. The results, which also provide new insights into conduction in complex composite materials, were published online yesterday 10 April by the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Tin oxide is also used as the transparent conductive oxide electrode in solar cells, but it is not as good as indium tin oxide. So cheap transparent conductors are of interest for photovoltaics.

Indium is (slightly) radioactive.

Indium in nature consists of two primordial nuclides. One unusual property of indium (shared only with rhenium) is that although it possesses a stable isotope, its most common (abundant) isotope (95.7%) is slightly and measurably radioactive. This isotope, indium-115 very slowly decays by beta emission to tin.

With so many screens and people poking and flipping at touch screens it will be a good thing if they find a replacement.

This isotope, indium-115 very slowly decays by beta emission to tin. This decay has a half-life of 4.41×1014 years, four orders of magnitude larger than the age of the universe and nearly 50,000 times longer than that of natural thorium.[4]

From Wikipedia...

You and I have about a zillion other things to worry about first before we worry about radioactivity from Indium!

Oh, please. The half life of 4.4×1014 (440 trillion) years is so ridiculously long that a thin film, or even an ingot, would fall miles and miles off the bottom of any sane person's worry list. Potassium (isotope 40 only 0.012% but 'only' 1.25 billion year half life) exhibits nearly 40 times more activity and that is at nearly four times more energy besides - and unlike indium, there's plenty of it in the body, where it's not shielded by skin or air (as per some of the discussions about internal vs external radioactivity.) Worry about that instead if you must worry about something. Better yet, forget the whole thing. I suppose people who hate touch screens for other reasons might latch onto this, but, really, in the scheme of things it's laughably beneath notice. Plus, normally no one is even touching the indium-tin oxide itself.

Note, BTW, that some physicists think just about everything past iron and nickel is very very slightly radioactive (since all those nuclides have excess energy that in principle could be released), and are called stable simply when the decay hasn't been detected yet. In addition, even protons are thought to decay, with a half-life somewhere north of 1030 years; maybe we should ban water too. Oh, wait a minute, we should already have banned it since numerous people drown it every year (many out of their own sheer stupidity, but we have a limitless duty to "protect" them from themselves at any cost, right?)

re "when fear wins, we all lose" article on USA Today

This and other articles trivialize the opposition to nuclear power generation as if it is a recent thing, only a reaction to Fukushima. It then lays out the common and incorrect argument that the only alternative to nuclear is coal, something we should fear more, along with sunlight.

Obviously more shilling for the nuclear power industry.

Opposition to nuclear power has been around a long time. Some of the basic reasons for opposing it such as a lack of a way to safely store the wastes for several centuries are still there, as facts. The horrors of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and now Fukushima are facts. Even if the death toll is low from Fukushima, the enormous economic and societal impact of evacuating the uninhabitable zones in vicinity of the reactors is a fact.

In California we have aging reactors not far from the San Andreas Fault and other faults, and close to Los Angeles. Its not too much of a stretch of the imagination to predict catastrophe if a big earthquake occurs, followed by evacuation orders should the situation go badly at San Onofre. Unfortunately, the task of evacuating the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas after a major earthquake seems impossible. This is a worse case scenario. Fukushima shows that such worse case scenarios can happen, despite what the industry shills tell us.

But of course the dialog rapidly devolves into the binary "no nukes" or "nuclear status quo" rather than the more obvious but less polarized space which encompasses "some nukes", "better nukes", "reprocessing wastes", "small nukes", and a host of other variants besides.

To me, human safety is pretty low on the considerations list -- just not that many people die, and we don't hold safety in a very high regard anyway. On the lists of nasty things we're leaving to the 7th generation, a few radioactive zones is pretty low on the risk list.

There is no middle, only Zuul.

Reprocessing presents another entire set of problems. Just shipping the waste fuel from the power plants to the reprocessing plant and then returning the plutonium laced fuel back to the nuke plants has a large accident potential. Then, there's the terrorist factor to consider, as moving all that fuel gives the bad guys a clear target. IMHO, fuel reprocessing on the scale contemplated for a large build of new nukes would lead to the need for extreme security measures, bordering on a totalitarian state. Lastly, reprocessing creates some nasty chemical wastes, such as we now have stored at both the Hanford and Savannah River plants. Those wastes were the result of the nuclear weapons program and the chemicals were stored in tanks which then tended to leak.

Of course, there is no 100% safe technology and even though the statistical rate of incidence might be very small, the accident potential with nukes is very large. The latest accident in Japan just shows the psychological impact of any such accident, with the likely outcome being a very negative public opinion against the building of more nukes. The tide has now turned against nukes and the public isn't likely to forget for another decade or two...

E. Swanson

Saudi cuts oil output on weaker demand

The kingdom produced 9-9.2 million bpd during at least part of March, a third industry source said.

'Saudi is now producing around 8.5 to 8.6 million bpd, and the reason for the drop is just slower market demand,' said a Saudi-based industry source.

There are a few more articles out today on the Saudi cut in production. Of course there are lots of articles telling us how they could, if they just wanted to, produce three million barrels a day more than they are producing right now. But because of weak demand they are cutting production by half a million barrels per day.

Actually I think it likely that Aramco was just emptying their storage tanks and never increased production at all.

I think more and more people are beginning to doubt the Saudi story about what they are capable of producing. But most oil consultants still swallow the whole thing hook, line and sinker.

Ron P.

So there we have it -- maximum Saudi production is around 9 million bpd, and they have no spare capacity except for maybe some heavy sour oil. This sounds about right for a country with about a third of Saudi's claimed reserves.

If URR = 185 Gb then KSA needs a depetion rate above 5% in order to produce above 8.5 mb/d.

Click to enlarge

Here are similar charts for:

Kuwait (2.3 mb/d in March 2011 according to EIA)

UAE (2.4 mb/d in March according to EIA)

According to OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report Saudi produced in March 8.961 mb/d, Kuwait 2.409 mb/d and the UAE 2.433 mb/d. This is crude only and does not include condensate. Of course these figures, the report states, are from "secondary sources".

According to this report OPEC production of crude only fell 627 thousand barrels per day in March. If reports are correct about Saudi cutting production then it will fall a bit more in April. When the May data comes in we should get a very good idea of what OPEC can actually produce.

Ron P.

Grrr. VW doesn't have the XL1 on their Us site, and you know what that means: no US release date set.

And on our Southern Front

U.S. Warns of Mexico Peril

MEXICO CITY—For the first time in Mexico's drug war, the U.S. government said its employees and citizens could be the targets of drug gangs in three Mexican states, a disclosure that could signal danger for Americans south of the border.

...Among the cities covered in the warning is Monterrey, the country's northern business hub where U.S. companies like Whirlpool Corp. and General Electric Co. have their regional bases.

...An exodus of Americans already began last year in the business hub of Monterrey, as some executives and their families moved north to Texas or south to Mexico City. Caterpillar Inc. said last year it had relocated some 40 employees and their family members from places in Mexico, including Monterrey.

Finally, jobs are coming home.

Re: Current bio fuels policies are unethical, says UK report, up top.

As a former Fundy I am probably oversensitive to hypocrisy and lies to justify it.

The report is full of both. To illustrate I will take a paragraph or two and substitute oil for bio fuels to show how rediculous the report is.

In his report 'Oil: ethical issues', the commenter "x" recommends that there should be a set of overarching ethical conditions for all oil produced in and imported into Europe, including:

1. Oil development should not be at the expense of human rights

2. Oil should be environmentally sustainable

3. Oil should contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

4. Oil should adhere to fair trade principles

5. Costs and benefits of oil should be distributed in an equitable way

"These ethical conditions should be enforced through a certification scheme – a bit like the Fair Trade scheme for cocoa and coffee," said Professor Tait. "This would create a market for environmentally sustainable and 'human rights friendly' bio fuels."

Here we see the hypocritical stance of the report in full bloom. Biofuels are required to meet standards that oil has failed to meet from its beginning.

1. Human rights and oil are almost opposites. We know that Japan attacked Hawaii because the U.S. embargoed Japanese oil. Hitler invaded the Caucuses to get oil for the Reich. Saddam invaded Kuwait to steal its oil. We invaded Iraq to steal its oil. And now Libya is under attack for oil. Human rights are not a consideration for oil. Why should they be for bio fuels?

2. Oil is not environmentally sustainable. If oil were infinite the environment would be doomed. Oil is finite so it obviously is not sustainable. Why should a sustainability test be applied to bio fuels? It is a double standard. We have no choice at the moment.

3. Oil increases green house gases, yet we hear of no reports to put restrictions on oil production. Why should bio fuels be required to reduce green house gases mostly created by burning fossil fuels like oil?

4. Oil should adhere to fair trade principles. Don't make me laugh. A major portion of oil production comes from a cartel which attempts to set prices through control of production, the antithesis of fair trade. Why then should bio fuels be held to a standard oil does not meet nor is required to meet?

5. One of the great failures of oil production is the inequitable distribution of its benefits. Saudi Arabia comes to mind as the prime example, but nearly every oil producing country sees oil money concentrated in the hands of a few oligarchs or a government cabal.

Biofuels are no more unethical than oil. This article is just pure hypocrisy. The report doesn't attack oil because it is entrenched and taken for granted.

Requiring bio fuels to meet trumped up ethical standards created by a self righteous group of hypocritical preachers is a no sale. The report should be filed in the dustbin where it belongs.

Good juxtaposition of oil for biofuels - illustrates the hypocriticiality nicely. but there is one difference from biofuels and oil that you fail to mention. And that is the biofuels have a government mandate requiring their use, and generous tax exemptions that oil does not get.

If the government is going to mandate and subsidise (anything, not just biofuels) then they get to set the conditions.
Otherwise, I am happy for biofuels to produced just as unethically as oil - and they should also be just as un-mandated and un-subsidised as oil too.

Algae could replace 17 percent of US oil imports: study

The researchers found that 21 billion gallons of algal oil, equal to the 2022 advanced biofuels goal set out by the Energy Independence and Security Act, can be produced with American-grown algae. That's 17 percent of the petroleum that the U.S. imported in 2008 for transportation fuels, and it could be grown on land roughly the size of South Carolina.

But the authors also found that 350 gallons of water per gallon of oil - or a quarter of what the country currently uses for irrigated agriculture – would be needed to produce that much algal biofuel.

The study also showed that up to 48 percent of the current transportation oil imports could be replaced with algae, though that higher production level would require significantly more water and land.

21 billion gallons algal oil = 500 million barrels/yr = 1.36 million barrels/day

21 billion gallons algal oil x 350 gallons of water = 7.35 trillion gallons of water = 6.7 cubic miles (27.8 km^3) of water (Just sayin')

Then there's that small matter about the fact that there's no company on the planet that's economically producing algal biofuel. Minor quibble.

The water is a killer among other things. NASA tried to make bags that let in water by not salts so that they could use sea water. So the water problem is certainly on their minds.

S - Good catch...thanks. This is the crap that irritates me with the "drill, baby, drill" fools. They simply adore the term "COULD". This COULD do that that...we COULD do this, etc. Yes, we COULD produce 100's of trillion cu ft of NG from the shales. We COULD produce billions of bbls from the oil shales (which contain no oil). We COULD replace billions of bbls of oil with algae poo.

And I COULD live in a $20 million McMansion. Assuming, of course, someone else paid the mortgage for me. Hey...it COULD happen.

I could hold my farts in too. lol

Freshman Republican Breaks Rank On Oil Subsidies:



How to negotiate like a pro:


"Rep. Reid Ribble said on C-SPAN's Washington Journal last week that the subsidies should be "looked at" -- which, in the context of the modern Republican Party's lockstep adherence to Big Oil's political agenda, was actually news."

On March 1st, he voted against ending subsidies.

Don't hold ur breath waiting for oil subsidies to end. Follow the money.

Reid Ribble...or Weid Wibble...or
Put me in the mind of this...

Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor
He rests. He has travelled.


Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.


Going to a dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc’s auk’s egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.

James Joyce, Ulysses (1914-1921).

Makes more sense than Republicans....

What do our National Labs write about wrt energy?

Take a look and see...

Sandia National Labs

x, do you work at Sandia?

Lawrence Livermore
(Look under the 'Energy' tab on the right

Pacific Northwest National Labs


Oak Ridge

Idaho National Labs

I got tired of posting...here is the DOE list of National Labs and technology centers:


A list of U.S. FFRDCs (considerable overlap with the above list):


MIT's Technology Review:


Disclaimer: I am not espousing cornucopian visions...but energy generation/storage/transmission technologies are a part of the spectrum of discussion here, and those of us TODers in the U.S. might be interested in reading what our tax dollars are paying for...

x, do you work at Sandia?

No. I am an Iowa corn farmer.

Renesas Rations Chips:


Which part of Iowa? I'm a Quad-Citian myself.

I'm from Illinois, but wife's people come from Mediapolis and Kingston (near Burlington).


Not sure I understand the physics of this:


How much water would be needed altogether to power the planet, if an inexpensive version of the technology is manufactured so everyone on Earth can have it? About the same amount as what’s in MIT's Olympic-sized swimming pool, says Nocera. And this volume could be a one-time demand because, in theory, the water would be remade again in the fuel cell.

Is that even possible? Surely the only energy input would be from whatever area of the ground could be covered (to capture the sun's rays)? Or, assuming there is some latent potential energy in the water (chemistry was never a strong point) then surely the water would be 'used up' permanently in the process of extracting the energy - how would it be a one-time demand?

Can someone help me out?

Don't feel too bad, the reviewer is a "trained chemist" and still writes about it like an idiot. There is nothing of value in the write-up -- no discussion of conversion efficiency, cost of materials, resiliency and life of the converter, or power density of the resulting energy production. The points about water are unimportant, unless it needs to be ultra-pure or something to avoid fouling the converter.

Other articles are a little better, and one states a relative efficiency of 10x a normal leaf, with hopes to "do much better in the future". But a quick Google says plants are up to 5% efficient, so 10x would be 50%, which would be a world-changing efficiency compared to PV at less than 20%. So of course, that can't be true, else GE would have bought him out already.

Apparently the experiments ran "for 45 hours", so long-term viability is questionable at this point.

Like so many technologies, I put this on the "promising but unproven" side of things, and it will be 20 years before they can make a significant dent in the overall picture best-case. Still, these need to be pursued. I just with it could be done without the breathlessly vapid commentary. It's just not that hard to clearly state the current situation and set reasonable expectations, so I tend to discount all such pitches.

Good points. There are lots of things possible to do in the lab that are impossible or impractical to do en mass.

The basic chemistry (to answer the original question) is straight forward--with the use of some catalyst(s), light from the sun is used to break water into its component parts--hydrogen and oxygen. When these elements form water again, energy is released. (If this happens all at once in a big way, you have a hydrogen explosion like the one we saw at the Fukushima plant.)

This is basically what plants do in a chain of reactions called Calvin cycle.


This guy claims to do the same thing outside of leaves with inexpensive materials. We'll see.

(Now people who REALLY know their chemistry can come in and correct me--it's been decades.)

Thanks both for the help - to Paleocon: The article is a bit lacking in details, my fault for not finding a more substantial version. But there is a video at the bottom. If you can bear Nocera's horrible smugness/obnoxiousness there are a few more details to be had from the horse's mouth (albeit from 2009).

I think he was talking about it only being 5-7% efficient overall, but the advantage being that it will probably work out a lot cheaper than current PV / possibly even FFs?

Dohboi, thanks for the wiki link. I'm still confused though. If the only energy input is the insolation (about 6kWh per m2) and the other components are just catalysts then why does he even mention the olympic swimming pool of water? Surely it's irrelevant? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Calvin cycle can't produce more useful energy than the insolation that falls on the plant, can it? The only way would be to 'use up' potential in other elements (chemical bonds?) - you wouldn't be able to conserve the water and have it contribute to the overall insolation energy or it would violate 2nd LOTD, surely?

The other alternative is that it only captures a fraction of the insolation, in which case why does he talk about an olympic swimming pool volume of water being able to provide enough energy for the world?

Maybe he just means that, given that the leaf needs some water to operate, if you spread the water from the pool extremely thinly then the pool would contain enough to operate the total number of leaves needed to power the earth?

In fact, what good is the hydrogen/oxygen mix anyway (aside from being able to store them as liquids) - isn't it just an extra complication to the 'insolation in / useful energy out' a la PV panels?

I have no special insights here, just a very general, basic (and rusty) science background. And I think it is probable that the whole thing is a crock.

But it is my understanding that it is not the water that is the source of the energy but the insolation--you are not going to get more energy out of the system than what goes into it--obviously.

In theory, you should be able to use the water indefinitely. And if each unit uses only a small amount of water, the swimming pool reference may be accurate. I think you have it right with the "extremely thin" point. And yes, it seems to me that this adds a level to converting sun light to energy and since each step must loose some energy, it is hard to see how this could be more efficient than the most efficient conventional PVs.

The most likely thing going on here is someone looking for lots of investor money. But maybe that's just my cynical gut talking.

The energy input is solar. Sunlight splits water to make hydrogen as a means of storing and transporting the energy. Its a photovoltaic converter combined with a water electrolyser. Its fine in principle, whether it is actually practicable depends on just how much hydrogen you can get from how much sun. Once you start to scale this up I think it looks ugly. Lots of small hydrogen sources in close proximity to lots of small oxygen sources. I would expect transmitting lots of small amounts of electricity to a larger electrolyser to work better scaled up.

Right, got you. That makes more sense although it doesn't really explain his claim that the earth would only need 1 olympic size pool of water to do this.

I guess having liquid fuel does offer some advantages - i.e. when the sun goes down. But in other ways it just complicates things from PV panels - especially if it it's not actually any more efficient in converting the insolation.

However if it does turn out to be much cheaper than PV (and FF??) then that would be its big selling point I imagine?

The amount of water needed depends how much hydrogen is being stored. The more hydrogen is in the storage and distribution system, the more water has had to be split to supply it. 1 pool wouldn't be anywhere near enough for a hydrogen economy world with all its hydrogen generated this way. Maybe 1 pool for a small town. Its pretty irrelevant though. Water consumption would be the least of the problems in scaling this up to anything significant.

Not to mention that you still have all the issues of the hydrogen economy -- compression, storage, and transport -- once you get the hydrogen. Low-pressure storage takes a lot of volume, and would at best be suitable for local usage, not transport.

Saudi Arabia's Power Challenges

Indeed, industry figures suggest that Saudi Arabia will use 540,000 barrels of oil per day in 2011 to meet its power needs. Last year, the figure stood at 403,000 barrels per day.

Debbie, that link doesn't lead to that story. You just copied the wrong link. I do that sometimes. Try this one: Saudi Arabia's Power Challenges

Diverting Oil Production
This excessive demand will clearly strain the country's power supplies and could take valuable oil from the global market as Saudi Arabia diverts its oil production to satisfy domestic needs...

"Domestic consumption growth has been spurred by the economic boom due to historically high oil prices and large fuel subsidies," according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Very interesting. This is ELM in action. And it is happening in all OPEC countries. They try to keep their citizens happy and not rioting so they give them a bigger and bigger share of oil production. Sometimes this is in the form of cheap electricity and cheap desalinated water.

Ron P.


But you gotta remember that this is an average figure on the whole year.
I think you know that they peak in their internal consumption in the summertime, about 400,000 bpd extra compared to the winter months.
So while we're looking at this, is that perhaps the reason for their recent 500,000 bpd cutback in production?

9.0-9.5 is their maximum, but now they cut it back to 8.5 to power their own domestic plants to get more clean water and cover the massive amounts energy needed to power the army of air conditioners going 24/7 in the scorching summer.

9.0-9.5 is their maximum, but now they cut it back to 8.5 to power their own domestic plants to get more clean water and cover the massive amounts energy needed to power the army of air conditioners going 24/7 in the scorching summer.

Hmm, isn't it the opposite, i.e. they have to produce more oil when internal consumption is high (during the summer)?

I think you misunderstood, I was not talking about production per se, but internal consumption. If 9.0 mb/d of crude production is max, let's say, then lowering output to 8.5 now makes sense, because they need that extra 0.5 mb/d for the summer so they'll go up to 9.0 later in the year to meet internal demand. If they had all that extra capacity, then why would they lower production since they know that there is need for additional oil in the summer?

By announcing another increase in the summer some may be fooled to think they are actually meeting demand, which they are, of course, but it's domestic demand.

And even if they go to 9.5 mb/d, close to their limit according to the Wikileaks papers, then it's essentially the same amount they pumped in March if it's acheived during the high months of summer, due to the extra 0.5 mb/d in fuel consumption for domestic use.

I hope I've cleared things up for you.

Thanks! But they can't stay at 8.5 mb/d too long then because consumption will be about 400,000 b/d higher already next month (January-March vs. May).


Crude Oil Advances on Reports Saudi Arabia Reduced Production This Month:


“The news that the Saudis are cutting output should be scaring the daylights out of people,” said Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis. “It looks like they couldn’t find buyers for their light blends. Now, we’ve got two sources who are saying they aren’t producing as much as they said they were.”

But not to worry, they are not cutting the good stuff!

Saudis Aren’t Cutting Output of New Oil Blend, Sfakianakis Says

Saudi Arabia, holder of the world’s largest oil reserves, didn’t cut production of its lighter crude blends introduced in response to the slump in Libyan output, according to the chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi. (BSFR)

“The cuts are across the board and not in the new blends or any other type alone,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is not cutting output of its new blends because it’s expecting to see demand for them starting from the summer months.”

The "new blends" are the blends that were supposed to replace the Libyan very light crude. They created this "new blend" by blending heavier blends to create a new light blend. Or at least that is how the story goes. ;-)

But Mr. O’Grady is right, people should be scared. They should be scared because they are starting to doubt the whole Saudi/OPEC story of almost unlimited reserves and massive spare capacity. And Saudi officials are saying Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

Ron P.

industry figures suggest that Saudi Arabia will use 540,000 barrels of oil per day in 2011 to meet its power needs. Last year, the figure stood at 403,000 barrels per day.

In total KSA uses now about 2,5 mbo/d

From a TOD article on april 8: "What is “our” oil doing in their economy? — Saudi oil consumption trends":

Saudi Arabia is the largest oil consuming nation in the Middle East. In 2009, Saudi Arabia consumed approximately 2.4 million bbl/d of oil, up 50 percent since 2000, due to strong economic and industrial growth and subsidized prices. Contributing to this growth is rising direct burn of crude oil for power generation, which reaches 1 million bbl/d during summer months, and the use of natural gas liquids (NGLs) for petrochemical production. Khalid al-Falih, CEO of Saudi Aramco, warned that domestic liquids demand was on a pace to reach over 8 million bbl/d (oil equivalent) by 2030 if there were no improvements in energy efficiency and current trends continued.

For all:

The international ASPO conference is kicking off later this month, will there be live coverage, bloggers or at least videos afterwards?
The conference is placed in such a time frame that I cannot go, university takes all my time but I'd definitely would like to get to at least view/read some kind of reports or recaps of what was being said.

I understand that people pay a fee for attendance so naturally you'll not get perfect coverage while it is going on, but what about afterwards(especially video/audio)? And will there be anyone attending who will blog or write smallish recaps of what is going on, what was said and so forth?


Several of our staffers will be there. I'm sure they will have reports, if not from the conference then afterward.

Rumor has it that some developers are looking at using part of their land inventory for solar farms instead of housing starts. It is unclear whether this is for long term, or is just a strategy to cover the carrying cost of the land until the housing market gets better.

Forget the much predicted PO-based social collapse; This current battle that has balancing abstract fiscal numbers vs. providing care for the sick & elderly already tells me that social systems are already dead.

More Americans leaving workforce

The share of the population that is working fell to its lowest level last year since women started entering the workforce in large numbers three decades ago, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record.

Related: Unemployment can be deadly

45.4 % sounds very little, but I suppose it's the entire population, even infants?
Does anybody know what the figure is for the 18-65 population, who are currently not enrolled full-time in college?
(Of course, without the creative accountancy that the Federal government tries to use by making people 'disappear' after the 99th week, among other things)

From Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics

Options for a new energy scenario

The regular recurrence of ‘all-time high’ oil prices is clear proof of the finite nature of fossil energy sources.

Even if the finite nature of the resource stocks is not the only factor that influences oil prices, speculation also plays a role in this process: peak oil, that is the point in time when oil production cannot be increased despite maximum efforts, will be reached in the near to medium-term future – indeed, some analysts believe that it has already been reached. ...

Also at http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-options-energy-scenario.html

A chance discovery may revolutionize hydrogen production

Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost is too high. A team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a [using] molybdenum based catalyst (amorphous molybdenum sulphides)[hydrogen] is produced at room temperature, inexpensively and efficiently. The results of the research are published online in Chemical Science Thursday the 14th of April. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filled.

The new catalysts exhibit many advantageous technical characteristics. They are stable and compatible with acidic, neutral or basic conditions in water. Also, the rate of the hydrogen production is faster than other catalysts of the same price. The discovery opens up some interesting possibilities for industrial applications such as in the area of solar energy storage.

A chance discovery may revolutionize hydrogen production

They better hurry up and find a quick way to get that new tech into a practical application like a hydrogen car, while the world industrial base is still up and running.

Solar power without solar cells: A hidden magnetic effect of light could make it possible

A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells.

“You could stare at the equations of motion all day and you will not see this possibility. We’ve all been taught that this doesn’t happen,” said Rand, an author of a paper on the work published in the Journal of Applied Physics. “It’s a very odd interaction. That’s why it’s been overlooked for more than 100 years.”

Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. What Rand and his colleagues found is that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong electric effect.

The light must be shone through a material that does not conduct electricity, such as glass. And it must be focused to an intensity of 10 million watts per square centimeter. Sunlight isn’t this intense on its own, but new materials are being sought that would work at lower intensities, Fisher said.

That isn't a terribly easy thing to do. At extremely high optical fluxes air will ionize - we used to do it from time to time to amuse ourselves when working with high-powered pulsed lasers. I suppose you might need to put the element itself in a vacuum chamber.

10 million watts per square cm! Thats kinda like the light intensity you'd see on the surface of an O star (30 to 40 thousound degrees centigrade). No material is going to survive that intensity of light. No concievable optics could concentrate sunlight to that intensity either it would violate thermodynamics (moving energy from a cool object (the surface of the sun) to something with much much higher intensity of light).

Ten megawatts per square centimeter required, with single-digit percentage conversion efficiency (10% as pie-in-the-sky someday.) The cooling required to keep it from becoming a plasma (not a plasma generator mind you, just a plasma) would be quite impressive indeed.

No wonder things like this come and go faster than mayflies. But, hey, give 'em some credit - at least "In the process, they overturned a century-old tenet of physics" is one of those less-than-half-true man-bites-dog catchphrases that appeals so much to know-nothing PR flacks.

Nuclear workers face radiation limit, but fight on

..."My boss phoned me three days ago. He told me: 'The situation over there is much worse than what the media are reporting. It is beyond our imagination. But, will you still come?'," he told AFP. "It was just that. We didn't need to say anything more because we both knew that the situation is really dreadful," the soft-spoken Kohno said, leaving lengthy pauses between his sentences.

...His friend, an employee of operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), says his dosimetre is showing "close to" 250 millisieverts -- 250 times what an ordinary person is exposed to in a year. The level is five times that allowed for plant workers in the US and 12 times that for France

Why Does FDA Tolerate More Radiation Than EPA?

The two levels could hardly be more different:

•EPA does not allow drinking water to contain more than 3 picoCuries per liter of radioactive istotopes like iodine-131 and cesium-137.
•FDA allows up to 4,700 picoCuries of iodine-131 in a liter of milk and up to 33,000 picoCuries of cesium-137.

Officials from both agencies—as well as many state governments—explain the difference in terms of time: EPA assumes long-term exposure over 70 years. FDA assumes you’re encountering the radiation all at once.

But time isn’t the only difference between these two standards: ...

•The EPA’s level is calculated so that in a population of one million people, the radiation will result in no more than one additional cancer fatality.
•The FDA standard, on the other hand, accepts two extra cancer fatalities in a population of 10,000.

Relative power structures in the political spectrum, perhaps?

The FDA approach seems far more realistic, given how hard it is to prove such low probabilities. How the p-tests are worded is important too, as to whether a given level has to be proven benign or proven to cause cancer, and at what confidence level. The EPA has a reputation for "guilty until proven innocent", whereas the FDA is the other way around.

The EPA has a reputation for "guilty until proven innocent", whereas the FDA is the other way around.

It's the same difference in this country between liberal and conservative.


Milk is not a large volume in our consumption but drinking water is. Drinking water is in everything.
That is what the standard is stricter imho.

Three stories from the TVA on al.com just today. HMMMM.

TVA board weighs impact of Japan's nuclear problems

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority board is discussing its nuclear ambitions in the aftermath of the emergency in Japan.

The TVA board's Thursday agenda in Chattanooga includes a report on its nuclear safety review.

TVA has decided to delay recommending a go-ahead on a reactor at its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in northeast Alabama while the utility studies how to prevent anything like the radiation leak from Japan's tsunami-flooded nuclear plant.

TVA managers will present the utility's 20-year energy plan to the board. That plan recommends reducing the agency's reliance on coal-powered plants and pursuing new natural gas and nuclear capacity.

TVA also is considering programs to increase power generated from wind, solar and biomass while promoting conservation....

TVA to pay $10 million penalty in clean air deal

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority board is phasing out 300 to 400 jobs at its oldest coal-fired plants and will pay a $10 million penalty in a clean air agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, several states and environmental groups.

TVA chief executive Tom Kilgore said the agreement stems from long-running private negotiations.

Coal-unit shutdowns announced at a Thursday board meeting in Chattanooga start in 2012 and include two units at John Sevier Fossil Plant in East Tennessee, six units at Widows Creek Fossil Plant in north Alabama and all 10 units at Johnsonville Fossil Plant in Middle Tennessee.

TVA to pay $10 million penalty in clean air deal

TVA reaches settlement with feds on alleged clean air violations
Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 11:51 AM
By Crystal Bonvillian, The Huntsville Times The Huntsville Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of its coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.

As part of the settlement, TVA is required to invest between $3 to $5 billion on new and upgraded pollution controls, according to a press release from the EPA. The controls are anticipated to prevent 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attacks each year.

They would also prevent about $27 billion in annual health benefits, the EPA said.

TVA will also invest $350 million on clean energy projects to reduce pollution, save energy and protect both public health and the environment, the EPA said.

Strangely, highlights from the weekly report of tanker tracker 'Oil Movements', usually released to the public midday NYC time, is not available on public internet sites at this time.

Sequentially, OPEC was reported to have exported 100,000 bpd less than the report from last week. Here is a quote from the report:

"This is the lowest level for the first half of the year," said Roy Mason from Oil Movements. "In both directions (east and west), there is a downward pressure on oil demand", he added.

To give everyone some perspective, OM usually says all drops in shipments are due to drops in demand. Possibly they take this position because OPEC includes the OM report in their monthly survey.

Anyway, this is worse than I previously thought one week ago before news of the KSA oil output cutback was announced. OPEC exports now have declined almost 1.2 mbpd from the peak reached just before the revolt started in Libya.

Other shipping reports (which I can not link) indicate that OM is correct and planned OPEC shipments are expected to fall in the second half of April.

The only good news to report, from a US perspective, is that the 'West' has recently obtained most available oil exports from western and northern Africa, but can only garner about 15% of Persian Gulf exports since about March 1.

Mackay, we use to get great oil reports on TOD, but they stopped a while back. Do you know if world crude oil production is still on an undulating plateau, ascending or possibly even beginning its descent?

Based upon a general review of worldwide shipping reports, oil exports are descending. Note that I am talking about exports and not output - oil exporting countries may more or less be at the same output level as last year.

No doubt this the export decline is mostly related this year to problems in Libya, otherwise it appeared that some small amount of headway in output was going to be made this year.

If you were to ask then if we have begun the descent of world oil exports, I would say yes it has begun and it will continue.

Very interesting - thanks for the information.

Saudi Arabia's sudden post 2006 jump in oil consumption always strikes me as suspicious.

Saudi Arabia Petroleum Consumption

Yes, I know they can talk of switching from NG (even though their claimed NG consumption has increased as well) etc but I just think at least part of it is covering a decline with inflated internal consumption.

I find it very strange that large increases in internal consumption over the last five years come exclusively from countries that are not members of the IEA/OECD and by definition do not have their oil use properly audited to an agreed international standard. Hey but they are published as if they are just as accurate as OECD data. According to IEA import tracking, Saudi Arabia has never exceeded its 2003 crude exports to the OECD as a whole. Q3 2010 OECD consumption is about 3 million barrels per day lower than Q3 2005 (and was down even more before a partial recovery) according to the EIA. It really would not surprise me if C+C production is well down from peak and that most of the recent growth in non-OECD countries consumption is fiction. Perhaps all the key players agree the "undulating plateau" meme must be maintained at all costs for as long as possible. Fiddling while Rome burns.

I just think at least part of it is covering a decline with inflated internal consumption.

Last year memmel wrote something similar.

Matt Simmons used to suggest it frequently as well.

The issue with estimating internal use in countries that are prolific producers is that they become wasteful consumers when faced with cheap and convenient fuel. They treat it like the USA did oil in the 1950's and 1960's, essentially wasting it on whatever they feel like, air conditioning, desalination, etc.

Tough to separate potentially canceling effects.

Azerbaijan’s Crude-Oil Production Declined 1.9% in First Quarter

Azerbaijan’s oil production fell 1.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the State Statistics Committee said.

Crude output dropped to 12 million metric tons (977,000 barrels a day), the committee said today on its website, without giving a reason for the decline.

Accordning to EIA, Azerbaijan’s oil production will increase this year:

Yes the EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook says Azerbaijan produced 1 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2010 and 1.08 mb/d in the first quarter of 2011. That is an increase of 8 percent. Of course that is all liquids and the report is talking about crude only. But I seriously doubt that liquids, other than crude increased by that much. I think the EIA is just getting overly optimistic here. I see that all across the board in this month's Short Term Energy Outlook.

Ron P.

All the talk about energy independence and ethanol jacks up food prices etc. What about methanol, guys? I'm not talking about waste oil biodiesel or car mods to run on methanol (although that would be ideal down the road, be it ICE or fuel cell). I'm talking about mixing methanol with gasoline and use it in the car that's sitting in your garage or parking lot right now.

Methanol currently costs USD$1.28/Gal according to Methanex. You don't need subsidies at that price and it won't fight food with humans. Mix 30% of methanol with gasoline plus some additive and use it just like pump gas. Won't that solve a big chunk of President Obama's 1/3 reduction of imported oil goal?

Is there a big political reason that's limiting the wide use of methanol?

If you so much as get it on your skin, you can go blind.

Never heard this before. It's wood alcohol and if that was the case, lots of handymen would be blind.
I think you meant drink it. Why say something if you don't actually know?

Never heard this before. It's wood alcohol and if that was the case, lots of handymen would be blind.
I think you meant drink it. Why say something if you don't actually know?

Potential Health Effects
Eye: Produces irritation, characterized by a burning sensation, redness, tearing, inflammation, and possible corneal injury. May cause painful sensitization to light.
Skin: Causes moderate skin irritation. May be absorbed through the skin in harmful amounts. Prolonged and/or repeated contact may cause defatting of the skin and dermatitis.

I don't know what your agenda is by contradicting a MSDS or reputable online sources but you are wrong. You should refrain from making assumptions based upon incomplete studies. Leave this to the pros that do the footwork.


Delete please, covered by others below.

"methanol (whether it enters the body by ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin) can be fatal"
"Once the initial symptoms have passed, a second set of symptoms arises, 10 to as many as 30 hours after the initial exposure to methanol, including blurring or complete loss of vision"

"died in Brussels when methanol-soaked pads
were placed on the child's chest to treat a common
"a painter who accidentally
poured methanol on his clothes and shoes and
did not change them; blindness developed within
several days."
"cases occur with skin contact and inhalation"

I wasted a minute of my life.

I wasted a minute of my life.

No, if just one person reads that and avoids an accident then that minute is justified. AAMOF that is something I didn't know and have noted for future caution.


OK since many reading this thread seem to have been born yesterday, I will relay some interesting facts about methanol AKA wood alcohol. It is used as a common laboratory solvent and can be used as a paint thinner or as a grease or stain remover. It is often used as antifreeze or windshield-wiper fluid due to its lower freezing point. Everyone has got their bottles of solvents like acetone, turpentine, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, and wood alcohol around and you typically go through the cycle when you are trying to clean up some mess, since you don't always know what will work the best.

The main point people should realize is that stupid people do stupid things all the time. For every person that thinks soaking a small child in wood alcohol will do more good than harm, you will find one hundred desperate alcoholics at their wits end who will drink methanol thinking that it is ethyl alcohol. Long ago, lawmakers suggested regulations changing the name wood alcohol to wood naptha so people wouldn't make that mistake.

When you buy it in a hardware store, wood alcohol is classified as a paint thinner or solvent and when intended for that use, it is clearly labelled as a poison. No idiot should apply a solvent to a child's body.

People do stupid things all the time. What happens if that mother applied something like lye or bleach to some child based on what some crazy neighbor suggested?

Sad that I have to go through all this just to maintain my credibility. Remember what the commenter wrote: "If you so much as get it on your skin, you can go blind." I would call that a hysterical overreaction. Can you imagine if that is what it said on the warning label on a bottle of wood alcohol solvent that you bought from the hardware store? Of course it cautions to not apply it as a topically to the skin, that is what isopropyl alcohol is for, but in a pinch I would do this and then wash it off with soap and water afterwards. Just like I would do that with gasoline if I got something on my skin. But I wouldn't go and take a bath in it like those poor fools described in the medical annals. You can find any crazy behavior if you spend any time searching through medical case histories. That said, I will avoid the household hints in the future and let people fend for themselves.

I think you have to drink it. And there is a cure: even greater consumption of ordinary alcohol. The only ailment I know of where getting real drunk is the cure.

ISTR glycol (antifreeze) antidote is ethanol as well but I won't swear to that.


Is there a big political reason that's limiting the wide use of methanol?

That would be the corn ethanol lobby, and the oil industry - neither wants to see methanol come into the fuel marketplace.

Methanol is a great fuel, it;
- powered the Indy cars for three decades
- burns very cleanly (engines do not catalytic converters etc)
- has very high octane
- can be mixed with gasoline or used alone, in high compression and diesel engines
- is highly biodegradable (is actually used as an additive in sewage treatment, and makes a good soil fertiliser too)
- in a fire, it is the ONLY liquid fuel that can be put out with water
- can be made from biomass and coal, though the standard, and cheapest feedstock is natural gas (the US has large amounts of all three of these feedstocks)

China is moving forward with methanol, which they are making from coal, with M10 blends and M85 flex fuel cars in some areas (the coal and methanol producing places)

Methanol can cause blindness if you drink it, and drink enough and it will kill you, but drinking too much ethanol or gasoline can kill you too - that is why it is not a good idea to drink motor fuels.

The methanol industry has been doing quite well selling methanol as an industrial chemical and hasn't really pushed it as a fuel, at least, not lately, but I think that will change if oil stays high and NG stays low. In the past, when NG prices were similar to oil on a btu basis, there was really no financial advantage to methanol, but there certainly is today. Methanol at $1.28/gal is the equivalent of gasoline at $2.55, but if methanol is burned in a high compression or diesel engine, where it gets diesel like efficiency, it would be the equivalent of gasoline at $1.91/gal

A good paper (from Nov last year) that sums up the situation for methanol is here;

From Drumbeat - "Flacking for Gaddafi"

Say this then for Michael Porter. When he’s bought, he stays bought.

He hopes to feed off the Gaddafi clan in the future, or he's presently on their payroll, or he's displaying his loyalty so as not to spook the other psychopaths he's flacking. Who knows? He's a 'Thought Leader,' not a registered foreign agent.

Same with Benjamin R. Barber - one of the 'Thought Leaders' brought to Libya by the Harvard spawned Monitor Group - it's all about the money. How else to explain Barbers undying admiration for Saif Gaddafi? Barber shares a common bond with Saif (they each have a piece of paper from the London School of Economics) but that can't be worth much, not to the buyers (to the sellers, a PhD is worth about 3mil). A"certificate" such as Barber earned is worth less, I'm sure. And Barber is no longer a member of the board either:

Benjamin Barber, once a board member of the Saif Gaddafi Foundation, has defended his former patron in today’s [April 13] Guardian. He declares:

"I still believe that among the conflicting voices that vie for Saif's tortured soul there is the voice of a genuine democrat and a Libyan patriot."

Barber condemns Saif’s ‘abominable actions in the current crisis’, but remains convinced that his dalliance with democracy was genuine. Oblivious of the attendant irony, Barber cites Saif’s book, Manifesto, where the man who would later vow to fight to the death through rivers of Libyan blood wrote:

"I believe it is the duty of the people to rebel against tyranny."

Blood, it seems, runs thicker than anything...

Saif is his father's son, you can tell. Watch his "rivers of blood" video and then watch this (you won't regret it):


That's the real Muammar. Here is a small part of the fiction the Monitor Group sought to create:

1: Book on Muammar Qadhafi, the Man and His Ideas

This aim of the project is to produce a book manuscript that will be the definitive text for the international community on the political philosophy of Muammar Qadhafi. The book will enable the international intellectual and policy-making elite to understand Qadhafi as an individual thinker rather than leader of a state.

The book will allow the reader to hear Qadhafi elaborate in his own words, and in conversation with renowned international experts, his core ideas on individual freedom, direct democracy vs. representative democracy, the role of state and religion, the challenge of implementing direct democracy in the modern world and other topics.

They only got as far as the draft, but's it's probably full of great quotes from Lord Giddens, Frank Fukuyama, Richard Perle, Joseph Nye, and our other thought leaders.

Edit: Added the following (uploader's description of the 'real Muammar' video):

Kadhafi walking with his thugs and hunting homeless people, accusing them that they are not Libyan when they beg on the street corners for some money to feed their families, or like that women at 1:30, with both a husband and sick child, staying at home. Kadhafi sees those poeple as humiliation for Libya and he gave instructions to arrest them. Just notice how people are afraid of him.

Gas prices are jumping again in Canada--Waterloo, Ontario, $1.31/liter. 1.31/0.264= $4.96CDN/US gallon= $5.15USD. Ouch.