Drumbeat: April 27, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: Dimming of the Globe

Late last month a newly enhanced web site, www.energyshortage.org, dedicated to collecting articles concerning energy shortages around the world reappeared on the web after an absence of some months. The stories deal with coal, electricity and natural gas shortages as well as oil. In the course of the past month the web site has located and linked to nearly 200 stories that deal with some aspect of the developing global energy shortage. Most of these stories come from local paper and taken together paint a distressing picture of looming societal breakdown in many parts of the world that is not as yet generally appreciated by the public.

Most of the problems reported on deal with electricity shortages - which in several countries have deteriorated to the point where economies are threatened with collapse. In South Asia - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and later in India - a combination of too many people, hydro-power reducing droughts, depleting fossil fuel reserves and inadequate investment in infrastructure raises the possibility that many urban areas may soon be uninhabitable.

Oil up slightly after Bernanke comments on economy

Oil settled slightly higher Wednesday after Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the nation's economy will continue to recover, and gas prices will level off or drop.

Benchmark crude for June delivery rose 55 cents to settle at $112.76 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose 99 cents to settle at $125.13 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Chicago: City of the big gas prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Chicago is not your kind of town when you pull into a local gas station.

Drivers in Chicago pay more for gas than they do in any other major metropolis in the continental United States. Analysts say that's due largely to a perfect storm of federal, state and local taxes.

US traders use river transport to profit from oil glut

Barges laden with crude are set to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico in the latest sign of how price anomalies have reconfigured energy markets.

Petro Source Terminals, a storage tank operator, plans to start filling vessels with crude oil at the river port of Catoosa, Oklahoma, to sell to refiners in Louisiana, hundreds of miles downstream.

Stuart Staniford: Gross World Product Will Not Grow at 4%+ for Five Years

This requires the world come up with another 17mbd of supply in the next five years, though it only managed to come up with about 3-4mbd over the last five years, and that took a quadrupling of prices to achieve. I don't see where this much oil can possibly come from. Saudi Arabia is saying they aren't going to increase production much if at all in the next five years. Russia is pretty much plateaued. The US is long past peak, and will be lucky to avoid further declines. Iraq is the one hope for truly large increases in oil supply, but that increase has just barely started, and is not going to amount to more than a few mbd over the next five years.

Employers unlikely to help with rising gas prices this time around

As gas prices surpass $4 per gallon in many cities across the country, employers who, in the past, helped workers cope with higher commuting costs through shorter work weeks, increased telecommuting and transportation subsidies, may not be as willing or able to offer much assistance this time around, according to one workplace expert.

"Circumstances have changed significantly from early 2008, which was the last time we experienced such a dramatic spike in fuel prices," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "Companies are focused primarily on rebuilding efforts as they struggle out of the worst recession in decades and, right now in this job market, they have the upper hand and do not have to offer extra incentives to attract or retain workers."

Saudi Aramco plans $125 billion spending spree

SEOUL // Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, will spend about $125 billion (Dh459bn) on projects over the next five years as it seeks to increase refining capacity by 50 per cent, Chief Executive Officer Khalid al-Falih said.

The company wants to boost oil-processing capacity to 6 million barrels a day from the current 4m barrels, Mr al-Falih said in a speech in Seoul today. Aramco is building two plants in the kingdom and is considering a further four "grassroots" facilities, he said. That includes one refinery at Jaizan in Saudi Arabia and possible joint-venture projects in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, he said.

Saudi Arabia detains bloggers over protest - activists

(Reuters) - Authorities in Saudi Arabia have detained two Shi'ite bloggers this week for taking part in demonstrations in the country's oil-producing Eastern Province, a Shi'ite website and activists said on Wednesday.

The Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and major U.S. ally, does not tolerate any form of dissent. It has not seen the kind of mass uprisings other countries in the region have over the past few months.

Total finds "mega" gas field in Bolivia-sources

LA PAZ (Reuters) - French energy company Total has made a major natural gas find in Bolivia that could initially produce 6.5 million cubic meters per day, government and market sources said on Wednesday.

It could be the biggest natural gas discovery in 10 years in Bolivia, where the leftist government of President Evo Morales nationalized the energy industry in 2006. Since then, Bolivia's reserves of the fuel have shrunk.

A surprise: China’s energy consumption will stabilize

Berkeley, CA-- As China's economy continues to soar, its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions will keep on soaring as well—or so goes the conventional wisdom. A new analysis by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now is challenging that notion, one widely held in both the United States and China.

Well before mid-century, according to a new study by Berkeley Lab's China Energy Group, that nation's energy use will level off, even as its population edges past 1.4 billion. "I think this is very good news,'' says Mark Levine, co-author of the report, "China's Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050" and director of the group. "There's been a perception that China's rising prosperity means runaway growth in energy consumption. Our study shows this won't be the case."

EPA to Shed Light on Fracturing Rules

Federal regulators will soon clarify the rules for natural gas companies that inject diesel fuel into the ground as part of their hydraulic fracturing operations, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

The guidance, which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says is coming "very shortly," is meant to clear up rules for natural gas producers.

BP Expects to Resume GOM Drilling by Summer

BP says it expects to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by the summer, less than 18 months after a rig it had leased there exploded, killing 11 workers and triggering a catastrophic oil spill.

Q+A-What's going on at Japan's damaged nuclear power plant?

(Reuters) - Japanese engineers are struggling to gain control of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, which was seriously damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Interest in hybrid vehicles grows with gas prices

Hybrids are hot.

Web searches for information about hybrid vehicles at Edmunds.com have shot up more than 100% year- to-date compared with a year earlier.

The increase is linked to soaring gasoline prices but still is “remarkable” especially considering that the number of hybrids featured on the auto information website has not risen, Edmunds.com said.

High gas prices can be difference for electric cars

An analysis by the Environmental Law and Policy Center -- which says fuel efficiency is the solution to the problem of high gas prices -- finds the potential for $4 a gallon gas prices to alter consumer behavior. And it says that, if gas goes to $5 a gallon, consumers who drive 12,000 miles a year could save on average $2,257 at Commonwealth Edison's off-peak electric rates by switching to a pure electric vehicle.

Green cars are ready, car buyers aren't

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Despite all the hype around electric and hybrid cars -- and a rapid increase in the number of available models -- most car shoppers still aren't ready to buy, according to a new survey.

When it comes to hybrid cars, the problem is simple... price. Car shoppers want to do their part to help the environment, as long as their part doesn't involve paying more. Or, in the case of plug-in cars, changing their driving habits.

BP Raises Wind Energy Capacity 8.9%, Starts Work at Facility in Texas

BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, said it increased its capacity to generate power from the wind by 8.9 percent in the first quarter and began building a wind farm in Texas.

Is Canada a "rudderless" pumper of oil?

As Canada heads to the polls, are we talking enough about the future? Tony Chapman, CEO of advertising firm Capital C and a provocative speaker, says Canada is at sea when it comes to innovation. "We have no centralized focus to make innovation a priority," he says.

Richard Heinberg: Won’t innovation, substitution, and efficiency keep us growing? - Conclusions

How can resources be infinite on a small planet such as ours? Easy, said Simon. Just as there are infinitely many points on a one-inch line segment, so too there are infinitely many lines of division separating copper from non-copper, or oil from non-oil, or coal from non-coal in the Earth. Therefore, we cannot reliably quantify how much copper, oil, coal, or neodymium or gold there really is in the world. If we can’t measure how much we have of these materials, that means the amounts are not finite—thus they are infinite.

It’s a logical fallacy so blindingly obvious that you’d think not a single vaguely intelligent reader would have let him get away with it. Clearly, an infinite number of dividing lines between copper and non-copper is not the same as an infinite quantity of copper. While a few critics pointed this out (notably Herman Daly), Simon’s book was widely praised nevertheless. Why? Because Simon was saying something that many people wanted to believe.

Q&A: Hunter Lovins

MCP: And they have more or less oil than they’re reporting?

HL: Considerably less! Now this should not come as a surprise. I suppose it does, because we’d like to believe that oil is infinite. And indeed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and folks at the International Energy Agency have been saying this for years. But of late the IEA has stopped saying it. You may have noticed—maybe not, I don’t think it was reported in this country, I read it in the Financial Times—that a couple of IEA employees whistle-blew, accusing the organization of cooking its books. There is actually a lot less oil than anybody thought. The British government said: “We base our national projections on IEA numbers, where did those numbers come from?” The IEA’s chief economist replied, “Well, they’re assumptions.” So the British government commissioned an industry task force, chaired by the managing director of Royal Dutch Shell, which called for an immediate transition to green transport. Another report came out last year saying that within three to four years we can expect real constraints on the supply of conventional oil, i.e. Peak Oil. So, again, I submit that what the Chamber of Commerce is saying is precisely the opposite of what is in businesses interest.

Masdar plan for $200m pioneering wind farm

Masdar, Abu Dhabi's clean energy company, is considering building a US$200 million (Dh734.6m) wind farm near the Saudi Arabian border that would be the first of its kind in the region.

Abu Dhabi is committed to sourcing 7 per cent of its power from renewable sources within nine years, and wind has unexpectedly become a contributor. The Gulf is not a windy region, but turbine makers are developing specialised blades to generate more energy from the light breezes the region receives.

Electronics expertise may drive Japan from nuclear energy

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Japan may soon use its formidable expertise in microelectronics and semiconductors to push renewable energy to the forefront of the country's energy agenda as it moves away from nuclear power.

Outlook Dim for Climate Agreement by Year's End

BRUSSELS — Major greenhouse gas-emitting nations on Wednesday ruled out reaching a global agreement to limit such gases at a meeting this year in Durban, South Africa, but they pledged to continue working toward that goal in future.

Russia faces fuel crisis as gasoline exports surge

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, the world's largest oil producer, faces a regional fuel supply crisis that could quickly spread after an order by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to curb domestic pump prices led oil firms to increase export volumes.

Shortages that have been building since Putin told oil firms in February to restrain retail prices came to a head last weekend, when almost all independently owned gasoline stations in the Altai region ran out of fuel. If they spread, the shortages could eventually hurt the popularity of Putin, who as the head of the government bears direct responsibility for economic policy, months before a presidential election which is due next March.

Crude Rises as Europe Economic Data Boost Demand Optimism, Pressure Dollar

Crude climbed after European economic data indicated demand may be recovering in the region, easing concern that oil prices near their highest in more than two years may be hurting growth.

Gasoline Futures Highest Since 2008

Gasoline futures on Tuesday traded at the highest level since July 2008 after three Texas refineries were idled following a power outage.

U.S. Gasoline Imports From Europe Decline as Climbing Prices Erode Demand

Gasoline shipments to the U.S. from Europe are poised to drop in April to the lowest in four months, reinforcing speculation that a surge in pump prices is hurting consumption in the world’s biggest oil user.

At least 15 tankers were scheduled to ship 570,000 metric tons of the fuel to the U.S. Atlantic Coast from Europe as of April 20, the least for a comparable period since December, according to Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s biggest shipbroker.

U.S. reliance on imported liquid fuels expected to fall: EIA

The United States' reliance on imported liquid fuels is expected to fall in the long term, according to the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 report released Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Total consumption of liquid fuels in the United States, including both fossil fuels and biofuels, is forecasted to increase to 21.9 million barrels per day in 2035 from about 18.8 million barrels per day in 2009, said the report.

Commodity Paradigm Shift

The world is using up its natural resources at an alarming rate, and this has caused a permanent shift in their value and we all need to adjust our behaviour to this new environment. It would help if we did it quickly, says Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of GMO, a global investment firm managing $107-billion in client assets.

Jeff Rubin: Is peak coal coming?

The price of oil isn’t the only hydrocarbon going through the roof. Check out thermal coal prices to see how dependent economic growth has become on burning increasing amounts of fossil fuels. Prices of Newcastle coal, the Asian coal price benchmark, are poised to rise by as much as 30 per cent this year, approaching the peak levels seen in 2008.

An alternative to $1.50-a-litre gas

Few people last weekend needed convincing that the future of transportation is not oil. Compact cars needed $50 worth of gas for a fill. Truck and SUV owners will yet again soon be objects of sympathy or derision.

Explosion rocks Egypt gas terminal near Israel

EL-ARISH, Egypt – Masked gunmen blew up a natural gas terminal near Egypt's border with Israel on Wednesday, sending flames shooting into the air in the early hours of the morning and forcing the shutdown of the country's gas export pipeline to Israel and Jordan.

It was the second attack in just the past month on the el-Sabil terminal near the Sinai Peninsula town of El-Arish just 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Israel. On March 27, gunmen planted explosives at the terminal, but they failed to detonate.

Reliance could be penalised for gas shortfall-oilmin source

(Reuters) - India is considering a penalty for Reliance Industries for falling short of targeted gas production at its D6 block, an oil ministry source said on Wednesday.

Israel prepares for Egyptian gas halt

TEL AVIV – State-owned Israel Electric Corp said today it was preparing to keep its power plants running after saboteurs blew up an Egyptian pipeline that supplies natural gas to Israel and Jordan.

India exploring Iran oil payment via Turkey -oil min source

(Reuters) - India is exploring payments via Turkey for oil imports from Iran, an Indian oil ministry source said on Wednesday, as the two countries search for a way to settle their trade after a long standing clearing system was scrapped by New Delhi.

Philippines increase security for oil exploration

The Philippines will increase security for its oil exploration activities in the country and in the adjacent Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Philippine naval forces assigned to secure these operations are set to undergo training from the United States government.

South Africa: Fuel price hikes ‘just the beginning’

Jeremy Wakeford, chairman for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, said the price of crude oil and therefore refined fuels (petrol and diesel) would continue to rise, resulting in major price spikes.

“Prices are being driven fundamentally by rising global demand for oil in the face of supply that has been stagnant for six years and which will begin to decline annually within about two to three years. On top of this, other short-term factors such as a weakening dollar, geopolitical events, especially in the Middle East, and speculative activity tend to amplify the oil price movements.”

Pemex Yields Sink Below Petrobras as Borrowing Plans Curbed

Plans by Petroleos Mexicanos to sell the least debt in three years are helping push the oil producer’s 10-year borrowing costs below Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4)’s for the first time since January.

Mexico eyes shale gas boost for petrochemical sector

(Reuters) - Mexico is considering ramping up shale gas production to support its petrochemicals sector which has traditionally used feedstocks based on crude oil, the country's energy minister said on Tuesday.

Although the prolific shales of Texas are believed to extend across the border into northern Mexico, little has been done to develop the deposits due to the state-controlled industry's focus on producing crude oil.

Feds Looking for Input on Oil Shale Development

The oil shale conversation is heating up once again. Starting Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management will embark on a two week tour of three state, including Colorado, to get input on whether public lands should be leased for oil shale development.

Venezuela to Charge 95% Tax on Oil When Prices Are Above $100 a Barrel

Venezuela, South America’s largest OPEC oil producer, will charge an increased windfall tax in lieu of royalties as long as crude trades above $70 a barrel.

The South American nation is swapping out its old system of royalties and will instead charge a higher levy of 80 percent or 95 percent on revenue above $70 and $100 a barrel, respectively, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. If prices fall to between $40 and $70, producers will face both the standard 33 percent royalty and a 20 percent windfall tax, according to a presidential decree published in today’s Official Gazette.

Life Without Oil: Towards a nuclear-hydrogen economy (Part 2)

Are we ready to embrace alternative energy such as hydrogen? Should we invest in nuclear power? These are some of the questions answered in the second excerpt from the book Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.

Obama says he’s pressing major oil producers to boost supplies to help stabilize fuel prices

WASHINGTON — As the high cost of gasoline takes a toll on politics and pocket books, President Barack Obama said Tuesday he is calling on major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia to increase their oil supplies to help stabilize prices, warning starkly that lack of relief would harm the global economy.

“We are in a lot of conversations with the major oil producers like Saudi Arabia to let them know that it’s not going to be good for them if our economy is hobbled because of high oil prices,” Obama told a Detroit TV station.

'Disturbing' revelations in probe of possible gas price manipulation

An investigation into possible manipulation of gasoline prices has uncovered "disturbing'' revelations, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

"There are a couple things that … are disturbing,'' Holder said, declining to elaborate.

Kentucky puts anti price gouging law in effect

Through an executive order, Governor Steve Beshear has activated the state's anti-price gouging consumer protection law.

Give Me Life, Liberty and a Tank of Cheap Gas

When President Barack Obama took his deficit-reduction show on the road last week, he found audiences had more on their minds than spending cuts and tax increases.

“What are you doing about gas prices?” someone at a town- hall-style meeting at North Virginia Community College in Annandale wanted to know.

Russia ready to increase fuel supplies to Europe, Asia - Putin

Russia is ready to increase its oil and gas supplies to Asian and European markets to make up for growing demand, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

"We treat the situation on the global energy market with full responsibility and are ready to increase supplies to both Asia-Pacific and Europe," the Russian premier told a news conference in Denmark.

More Syrian troops pour into southern city

BEIRUT (AP) — A human rights activist says gunfire and sporadic explosions are being heard in the southern city of Daraa after the Syrian army sent in more tanks and reinforcements.

Syria’s Violent Crackdown Prompts UN’s Ban to Call for an Outside Inquiry

Syria’s increasingly violent suppression of anti-government protests prompted United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to call for an external inquiry as the U.S. and European Union consider sanctions.

Yemen president to step down in month under deal

SANAA, Yemen — Yemen's political opposition accepted a deal Tuesday that would see President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down in 30 days, bringing to an end the country's three-month-long crisis.

Putin says Libyan oil main goal of NATO campaign

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Libya's oil resources were the main object of the NATO-led military campaign in the country.

U.S. approves oil purchases from Libya

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A division of the U.S. Treasury Department said it approved transactions related to oil exported from the rebel-backed Transitional National Council of Libya.

Chavez says Libya officials discuss peace options

(Reuters) - A delegation of Libyan officials is in Venezuela to discuss possible peaceful solutions to the war in the North African country, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.

A vocal opponent of military action by Western governments, Chavez is also a close ally of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and has proposed talks between rebels and the government.

Deadlock in Libya exposes international rifts

(Reuters) - Military deadlock in Libya has exposed growing international rifts, with critics of NATO bombing calling it another case of the West trying to overthrow a regime by stretching the terms of a U.N. resolution.

"Is there a lack of such crooked regimes in the world?" Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked on Tuesday. "Are we going to bomb everywhere and conduct missile strikes?"

Nigerian police vows to deal with political thugs in oil rich state

The police in oil rich Nigeria's Delta State has said the command would treat any political thugs caught as armed robbers.

BP Profit, Output Still Weighted Down By US Gulf Effects

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- BP PLC Wednesday posted a 5% fall in adjusted profit for the first quarter, as the damage wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year continued to weigh down its earnings and petroleum production outlook despite high oil prices.

One Year Later, Where Does BP Stand?

In the weeks after the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill became ever larger and clearer, most of the attention was focused on the growing environmental impact. But many people soon began asking another question: Would the disaster change the very future of BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world? Some even wondered openly whether it could eventually spell the demise of BP.

Carnival sues BP, others for oil spill damages

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cruise operator Carnival Corp has filed a lawsuit against BP Plc and other companies seeking damages that resulted from the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

The lawsuit, filed on April 20 in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, also named Cameron International Corp CAM.L, Transocean Ltd, and Halliburton Co, along with several others.

Radiation Readings in Fukushima Reactor Rise to Highest Since Crisis Began

Radiation readings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station rose to the highest since an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, impeding efforts to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Kansai may delay restart of 3 nuclear reactors

TOKYO (Reuters) - Kansai Electric Power Co said its nuclear run rate this year would be lower than initially planned, and it may delay the restart of three reactors due to stricter safety steps imposed after a massive earthquake triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Chernobyl impact felt 25 years later

How many illnesses resulted from radiation exposure at the Chernobyl cleanup are unclear.

Gregory Hartl, a World Health Organization spokesman, says 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been detected in the region affected by Chernobyl’s disaster. The number of those directly linked to the disaster — as opposed to, for example, the result of improved detection — is uncertain. The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency has determined 56 people died from the event.

OPG seeks approval for underground vaults to store nuclear waste

Ontario Power Generation is seeking federal approval to build underground vaults near Kincardine, Ont., to store low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.

It Isn't Gridcrash that Makes the Lights Go Out

Peak oil and climate change will hit most of us where it hurts - in our jobs, our pocketbooks, in the homes where we won't be able to make the rent or mortgage payment, in our health because we'll no longer be able to afford routine care, in our choices - instead of "vacation fund or 401K, we'll be wondering "shoes or groceries." Add in that we can expect the price of electricity to rise - carbon sequestration is expensive, nuclear power is expensive initially and dealing with its wastes is very expensive, investment in renewables is not cheap either - we can expect the price of our electricity to rise steadily.

So whether or not we ever have rolling blackouts again or grid failure, lots of us will be having our power turned off. And since electricity for the most part runs luxury items (although we are not accustomed to thinking of them as luxuries) like refrigeration and lights, if it comes down to hard choices like "food or electric," "lights or medicine" we should all recognize that electricity is not essential to (most) human life, and prepare to function well and comfortably without it.

End of "Fossil Fuel Age" will drive oil-prices up

Varnholt is a big believer in the Peak Oil thesis - the theory whereby we are extracting the maximum amount of oil, so as we decline from this peak, the price of oil will inevitably rise - and he backs up this confidence.

"Look at what the Saudis have invested in their operational infrastructure in the last decade, and they're not producing more oil, they're actually producing less than they did in 2000. This tells you one of two things; there's less oil available, or it's harder to get to it - or possibly a combination of both - but the latter is the most likely."

Whither Gasoline Prices?

Assuming the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa begins to abate, what can drivers expect to be paying at the pump later in the year? Both Evans and Michaels think that oil would drop back to $80 per barrel, which implies a gasoline price of about $3 per gallon. What about future oil production? Evans dismisses peak oil as a “religion.”

Could The Oil Market Be A War Predictor?

If the oil market is a predictor of anything besides prices in the future, things are about to get a lot hotter in Libya or in Saudi Arabia, or maybe both. I see the oil market trying to price in an escalation of further war.

Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf plug-ins ace crash tests

In a boost for electric cars, the insurance industry's auto safety lab today will give two new plug-ins — the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — its top rating for protecting occupants in a crash.

Suburban growth focused on inner and outer communities

A new pattern is emerging this century. Most of the growth is happening on opposite ends of the suburban expanse: in older communities closest to the city and in the newer ones that are the farthest out.

"A few decades ago, all the growth was on the edge," says Robert Lang, an urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who analyzed 2010 Census data. "Now, there are citylike suburbs doing well on one side of the metropolis while conventional suburbs still flourish on the fringe."

A free farm holiday if you're willing to work

AQUEBOGUE, N.Y. – It started with an ad on Craigslist: Free holiday on an organic farm on Long Island, work for your keep and enjoy wineries and great beaches nearby.

The farm would even supply transportation from New York City and bicycles to get around once you arrive. All a friend and I had to do was take the subway to a farmers market in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and a van would pick us up. The entire experience wouldn't cost a penny. I suspected it was all too good to be true. Perhaps some religious cult hungry for new members was trapping us with dreams of idyllic rural life.

Traditional incandescent bulbs on their way out starting Jan. 1

Edison's 131-year-old bulb still lights homes worldwide. In an age when iPhones get revamped every few months, its longevity stands out.

Yet its eclipse is coming. The United States is on the verge of a lighting revolution that will oust the traditional incandescent in favor of more energy efficient (and less polluting) alternatives. Are you ready?

Life Without Oil: Towards a nuclear-hydrogen economy (Part 2)

Are we ready to embrace alternative energy such as hydrogen? Should we invest in nuclear power? These are some of the questions answered in the second excerpt from the book Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future.

Partial Understanding On Planet Easter Island

The planetary death wish on the part of energy gurus is one of many examples of partial understanding of the interconnected nature of our predicaments. Other examples abound, even though I’ll ignore the teeming masses of neoclassical economists who have no clue where are, how we arrived here, or where we’re headed. Jeff Rubin, called by Nicole Foss an economist who doesn’t understand economics, seems to believe the industrial economy can endure oil priced at $225 with a little attention to relocalization. And he describes how traders can makes tons ‘o money in the casino. Foss, a peak oiler who doesn’t understand peak oil, claimed the price of oil would never exceed $100/barrel after 2008 and predicted the 2-year bull run in the stock markets was done at the 6-month mark.

Meet the farmers of the future

Geo-engineer, energy supplier or web host? Claire Wyatt asks what skills farmers will need in the future

We're always looking for the next big thing, and for people with the skills to create the new world we crave. This has never been truer in the agricultural world. Climate change, a growing global population, land and water shortages, peak oil and food security are all putting pressure on farmers to adapt and improve.

Sask. going ahead with $1.2B carbon capture project

The Saskatchewan government is going ahead with a $1.24 billion overhaul of a coal-based power plant so the carbon dioxide it produces can be stored.

Climate change 'number one issue'

El Salvador is "already" facing wild weather, the country's environment minister tells Al Jazeera.

Tornado Season Intensifies, Without Clear Scientific Consensus on Why

Experts said drawing conclusions for an increase in tornado was hard, because tracking and measuring systems had improved over the years.

Rising seas scariest climate impact - Nauru's Moses

OSLO (Reuters) - Sea level rise is the "most terrifying" impact of climate change and rich countries are showing scant leadership in addressing the threats, the incoming chair of a U.N. alliance of small island states said on Tuesday.

David Attenborough: This heaving planet

Half a century ago, the WWF was formed to help save endangered animals. Today, it’s human beings who are increasingly at risk, through overpopulation and food scarcity. Can we bring our birth rate under control and avert potential catastrophe?

Re: Russia faces fuel crisis as gasoline exports surge

Interesting; an exception to the rule that any nation always prioritize internal consumption over export.

Or another way to put it; when you overrule the free market, prices, demand and consumption can change in unpredicted ways.

Russian oil consumption has been relatively flat, increasing at 0.5%/year, from 2002 to 2009 (BP); however, exporting countries' consumption (top 33 net oil exporters) increased at 2.6%/year from 2002 to 2009, from 14.7 to 17.6 mbpd (BP + Minor EIA data). The seven year increase in exporting country consumption was 13 times the net export increase that Canada, for example, showed over the same time frame. In other words, we needed the net export capacity increase of 13 Canadas just to meet the seven year increase in domestic consumption in the oil exporting countries.

Yes, the main reason Canada is such a large net exporter of oil is that it is one of the few large oil producers which does not subsidize domestic consumption - in fact its fuel prices are higher than those of the US due to higher fuel taxes. Another rare example is Norway, which taxes fuel at a very, very high rate and as a result uses very little of its own production.

One of the factors behind this is that both Canada and Norway have very large hydroelectric potential, and as a result have cheap alternatives to oil. They also have much higher public transit ridership than the US or any of the OPEC countries, so their people have cheap alternatives to driving.

Most of the other large producers subsidize domestic oil consumption, even burning oil to generate electricity, with predictable consequences. The domestic consumers use more and more oil, and they have less and less oil available to export.

BP shows Canadian oil consumption down in 2008 & 2009, versus 2007, but the 2002 to 2009 rate of increase was about 0.9%/year. Canada's observed rate of increase in net exports was 3.6%/year. If the 2002 to 2009 rate of change in consumption had been zero, the rate of increase in net exports would have been 5.3%/year, so Canada's increased consumption, even at a low rate of increase, cut the net export rate of increase from 2002 to 2009 by about one-third.

Norway's consumption in 2009 was almost exactly the same as 2002; however, since they did not cut consumption at the same rate that their production fell, their net export decline rate exceeded their production decline rate (6.4%/year net export decline rate versus 5.9%/year production decline rate).

Incidentally, combined net oil exports from Canada + Norway fell from 3.9 mbpd in 2002 to 3.1 mbpd in 2009.

I'm never quite sure where BP gets its data from, or how valid it is. I'm of the opinion that parts of it are rather misleading. It's free and you get what you pay for.

However, looking at the Canadian Associate of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) Statistical Handbook, I find that in 2002 Canadian consumption of oil and products was 256,565 m3/d (1,614,530 bpd) and in 2009 it was 256,444 m3/d (1,613,769 bpd) for a change in consumption of 0.0%

In 2002, liquid hydrocarbon production was 453,834 m3/d (2,855,918 bpd), and in 2009 it was 504,223 m3/d (3,173,010 m3/d) for an increase of 50,389 m3/d (317,091 bpd) - an 11% increase over 7 years. Essentially the whole increase in production, albeit small, was exported to the US.

Actually, the true peak in Canadian oil consumption occurred over 30 years ago, in 1979, when it was 296,596 m3/d (1,866,440 bpd). By 2009 consumption was 13.5% below that volume.

In 1979, Canadian oil production was 291,760 m3/d (1,836,008 pbd), i.e. less than the consumption that year, so Canada was a net oil importer. By 2009 production had increased by 212,463 m3/d (1,337,002 bpd), but consumption had declined significantly, so the entire increase in production, plus the decrease in consumption, was exported to the US. As a result, Canada is now by far the largest foreign supplier of oil and products to the US.

I could hope that American drivers appreciated the extra fuel, but statistics indicate the vast majority of Americans have no idea where their fuel comes from. Canada is their last, best hope to be able to continue driving in the future, and is currently driving US domestic oil prices (WTI) significantly below world prices (Brent) but I don't think many Americans realize that.

I suspect that the difference might be NGL's. BP shows Canadian consumption going from 2.07 mbpd in 2002 to 2.20 mbpd in 2009, and the EIA has similar numbers.

That could well be. I don't think Canadian authorities count NGLs as part of oil data. They are tracked separately since they have different markets.

Cheap hydroelectricity is an alternative to oil? For what usages of oil?

Diesel trains and diesel buses can be replaced with electric trains and electric trolley buses. Potentially, gasoline cars can be replaced with electric cars. Fuel oil can be replaced with electric heat. Factories can use electric motors instead of diesel engines.

Both Norway and to a lesser extent Canada are already well down this path, despite their large oil reserves in relation to their small populations. Even in Canada transit ridership is two or three times higher than in the US, and all major Canadian cities have extensive electric rail transit systems (the national capital of Ottawa unfortunately excepted). The US is behind the eight-ball in this global conversion to electric rail, and unfortunately most Americans don't realize it.

But in terms of right now, it seems the only thing Norway and Canada are doing to replace oil with hydroelectric electricity is using electrified mass transit.

The US is behind in electric trains, but I think most large cities have at least an electric trolley system, if not a BART or Washington Metro type system. They will need to be built out more, but riding to work in 110 year old technology at 35 miles per hour is an option that American cities provide to a lot of people. And they will mention it if people complain about.... traffic congestion from the overbuilding they are doing and planning.

Not being a city type, I was sceptical when you said 'most large cities'. So I looked it up. Here's a list. More than I thought. But some major metros seem absent - Detroit (duh), Columbus, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Jacksonville, El Paso, Las Vegas, OK City, Tucson... others? I'd say we are way behind in this regard.

US Metropolitan Areas over 1 million without electric rail transit:

  • Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 4,296,250
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 4,224,851
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 2,142,508
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 2,134,411
  • Cincinnati-Middletown, OH 2,130,151
  • Kansas City, MO 2,035,334
  • Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 1,951,269
  • Columbus, OH 1,836,536
  • Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 1,756,241
  • Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 1,671,683
  • Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA 1,600,852
  • Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 1,555,908
  • Jacksonville, FL 1,345,596
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 1,283,566
  • Richmond, VA 1,258,251
  • Oklahoma City, OK 1,252,98
  • Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 1,212,381
  • Raleigh-Cary, NC 1,130,49
  • Birmingham-Hoover, AL 1,128,04
  • Rochester, NY 1,054,323

Canadian Metropolitan Areas over 1 million without electric rail transit:

  • Ottawa–Gatineau, ON-QC 1,130,761

Ottawa does, however, have a bus rapid transit system that carries more people than most US rail systems.

But the list of cities without bus systems would be very small. Buses aren't as nice as electric, but they do eliminate a lot of gas if people are riding them. They don't now in many cases, but as oil rises they will have to.

One problem cities face, at least in California, is that they are broke. And mass transit never pays for itself. Not even the 110 year old New York Subway. So if they have to pay for new light rail/rail they are going to have to raise taxes permanently for the new transit.

It is a very insignificant city which does not have at least a bus system. However, any city with over 1 million people in its metropolitan area should be able to support at least a light rail system. Those that don't have one aren't really trying.

California is, of course, a total mess. The latest edition of The Economist has an edition devoted to it. It's worth reading.

Oops. A new edition just came out. It's entitled, "What's wrong with America's economy". It will probably be worth reading as well. Forget Fox News, I prefer to have a little depth in the analyses I pay attention to.

FoxNews is a cancer for the country. They even politicize their business news channel.

I suspect that HERE's a link to the ECONOMIST article you reference...

E. Swanson

Interesting stuff...

So, back in 1985, Ca spent 11% of its budget on universities and 4% on prisons, now it spends 11% on prisons and 4% on universities!
Not only that, but if you look at this graph of the teaching/admin staff ratio at Ca State universities, it becomes apparent that the spending on actual teaching staff has declined even faster.

There is more to innovation than just universities of course, but i would say it is a good indicator, and it suggests Ca's best days may be behind it, unless some radical change happens.

The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons.
Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.

Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.

Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

--Written by William DeBuvitz in 1988 and first appeared in The Physics Teacher

Streets don't pay for themselves, either.

So, if you're going to build and maintain streets...

It would be pretty hard to find a more heavily-subsidized mode of transportation than the automobile in the U.S.

What is the break down between what the tax on gas pays for with respect to roads and what comes out of other taxes?

Back in the 70's I read that the New York Subway system only paid for 1/4 of expenses via fares. Recently I read something that said it was 60% paid by fares. But that has to be the high water mark since it's an old system in the densest city in the country. I doubt if automobile transportation is subsidized to the tune mass transit is, as that would include the cost of the auto, repairs, and gas. Of course auto transportation is a lot more expensive. But as more people are forced into mass transit it will become cheaper per capita.

One other "subsidy" to consider is the amount of valuable urban land that is consumed by roads. The NY subway uses a miniscule amount of surface land, but look at all the tax eating roads that could be tax generating (and economically productive) properties. Equally as bad are the parking lots. Each city has roughly 3 spaces per car, again a lot of land set aside for these things. This is not always govt subsidised, of course, but the people are paying for it in the end, as each business has to price that land cost into its model, and consuming that extra land for parking and roads leads to further sprawl, increasing travel distance and costs.

I regard transport costs (all of them) as a "tax" on the city economy - about 90% of all the money spent leaves that city, be it for oil, car mfring, insurance, etc. Whether they are being paid by individuals or gov is secondary, it is the total money flow out of the city that matters.

Smart cities like Calgary worked out how to build and operate transit cheaply - by not trying to be all things to all people. The C-train saves a lot of out of city money flow each year, has improved business density in the downtown, saved billions on freeways (the six train lanes are worth sixteen freeway lanes) etc.

Some cities with high transport costs, like LA, Houston are able to survive and thrive because many people there, and the cities themselves, make enough money (drawn from the rest of the country) to afford such costs. But many other cities don't, and they are just slowly bleeding their money on transport - which is OK, until their money gets tight.

But by then, it is very difficult to change things.

Even if you got rid of all the cars, you couldn't fill up all the road space with buildings, and have anything like a liveable city.
There has to be enough space between the buildings to let the sunlight in.

I think you might find it interesting to look at alternative ideas about how we might shape the built environment of cities.

Carfree Cities

I'm not saying you fill up all the space, but you sure could reclaim a lot of it, and you would have a MUCH nicer city in the process.

Here is an example of a typical American street in Norwalk, CT

And here is an example of the sort of street you can have when you turf the cars;

Which one looks more appealing, and more liveable? Just add some people, and you are done.

if you look carefully, you might notice a similarity between the two photos - the second one is the same street, just with the car part digitally removed.
courtesy of http://www.newworldeconomics.com/archives/2011/040311.html

Go to almost any city, and the most interesting part, and the happiest people, are likely to be in the oldest areas with the narrowest streets, least cars and most walkable communities.

Before cars came along, all cities were like this, and you can still see many of them in Europe - they are far from unliveable, but sure make many modern car cities like LA seem if not unliveable, then certainly unenjoyable.

Yes, yes and yes. Got it exactly.

Take a look at Crawford's design resource library:


I like his concept of the Floor Area Ratio, though I can see in America itmay not be as useful since the norm seems to be at least 2x as much floor area per person.

Another good place, and the original source of those photos is ;

Also, take a look at this website, which has dozens of digitally narrowed streets of LA - the differences are amazing - they actually make it look like an interesting place to walk around - which it really isn't.


As soon as you get rid of the cars, the people feel safe to come out again...

Thanks! Good links.

I like his concept of the Floor Area Ratio, though I can see in America itmay not be as useful since the norm seems to be at least 2x as much floor area per person.

I know, but I think expectations are slowly changing... faster in the minds of those who value urban life.

We have a proposal for a brownfield site in Philadelphia, which is getting lots of positive response and serious interest from people who help make these things happen--when they do.

Gaslight Village

Having said that you can get too much of a good thing!

Personally I dislike how cramped it is over here in the UK - whenever I visit the US, Canada or Australia my overriding impression is always awe at the amount of space you guys have over there. I really love the huge open spaces and rue that we don't have more over here.

The grass is always greener...

I can see Americans being comfortable with the first and breaking out into a cold sweat at the thought of the second.

Just pushing cars out is not always a good answer, I had 2 bad experiences during my field services days. In the first town I ended up being taken straight past the centre by the road on the principle that the main roads were through routes and so did not need to interact with the town. It took several miles to double back and find a route in. It turned out that you had to change to a local road well outside the centre. The second was a car free, pedestrianised area. I knew the traffic was bad so I came in early and dozed in the car park on the periphery. There was a lot of gear to be picked up so I needed to bring the car next to the building. Yep there was a street but it took 9 miles to navigate the one way and segregated traffic system to get from the car park to the street I needed although they were only a few hundred yards apart and no, I could not stop near the street for loading and unloading. I only just got away with that when parked directly outside the site.

If you push the cars out you have to figure out how the area is to be serviced too. Just saying 'people only' is not an answer. Businesses have suffered and closed when areas are pedestrianised as people can no longer collect bulky or heavy goods.


I can see Americans being comfortable with the first and breaking out into a cold sweat at the thought of the second.

Unfortunately, you are probably right. But is that just because of a potential inconvenience factor as you have described, or because they don;t want to get out of their armoured personnel carriers and have to walk in a potentially unsafe city? (as American ones seem to be).

i won't argue that you can just ban the cars and forget about logistical issues - if a city is going to do the first, it must consider the 2nd at the same time. but it can certainly be done. The ski resort town of Whistler in BC can have up to 50,000 people and the village core is carefully designed for serviceability but you can actually spend a lot of time there without ever even noticing a car.

It has the right mix of accomodation above commercial too, something that as been banned (or zoned out of existence) in many modern cities around the world.

I saw once place in LA that had it half right. The The Village at Orange [in Orange County] is a 855,911 square foot regional mall/community shopping center on approximately 61 acres, with a showcase of traditional retailers, power center retailers and upscale dining destinations.

An open air mall! - walking around the (very clean) "streets" felt very good - much better than in a normal mall. All they needed to do was add residential above the shops and you have a great place to live for people who like to be where there is activity, work there, and don't want to own a car.

And that's my point - when the town/city is such that, for at least a good portion of the residents, owning a car is optional rather than mandatory, then you are headed in the right direction. Not only that, in that city/town, the walkable part will be the most interesting part to visit and stay. You can't say the same about rows of "office parks".

Places for heavy and bulky goods are different story - but not everyone going downtown is going to be buying a fridge or a tv. In that walkable community, if they are, then for the store to deliver it to the nearby living, non-car owning customer is no problem either.

Perhaps more importantly, the car-less lifestyle (or car minimal) actually leads you to buy less "stuff" and more "services" - and when almost all stuff is imported, spending more on local services is far better for the local economy.

I think the APC factor.

One town I knew in the UK had one end of the main street, old market town so very wide, blocked off except for buses. Cars could hairpin at the other end or enter and stop for a very short time. The footpaths were wide and on market days the main part of the street left space for busses only. It worked well and was comfortable.

Don't get hung up on fridges and TVs, there are plenty of other things that can do with dropping off and picking up in a vibrant high street and if it is an older street then why create difficulties for established businesses, driving them out to leave a zone of boutiques and coffee shops. If it is a newly created mall type structure then service roads will be provided behind but in the traditional town the service road is the road in front and that needs to be respected. However, there are many ways to control the traffic such as being only open at one end and keeping stopping time down to say 5 or 10 minutes at maximum.


I agree the APC factor is huge. Some mothers seem to forget that when they went to school, they weren;t ferried there in suv's.

Agreed there is more to it than fridges etc, and the UK high street system seems to work fairly well.

A good example closer to me is Granville Island in Vancouver, where you have this shopping/commercial/arts college area built on an old industrial waterfront (a fully operating concrete plant is still in the middle of it, and just adds to the character. You can drive along the "streets" but everyone realises its best to just park and walk, unless you happened to get there by bus, ferry boat or foot. The business do their servicing in the early morning hours and during business hours traffic is minimised, though not eliminated, and stopping/loading times are enforced. It achieves the desired result of being a people first place, and that's why lots of people go there, and to leave nearby is highly desirable.

Always, the most interesting parts are the older ones - I think the narrow streets have a lot to do with it.

When people describe a city as "busy" they usually mean lots of traffic, but when it is "bustling" it usually means lots of people - and that's they way it should be.

Donald Shoup's book, The High Cost of Free Parking claims that there are four times as many parking spaces as cars in the US, and the total value of the parking spaces exceeds the total value of the cars in the US.

This is the consequence of governments requiring real estate developers and businesses to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for cars - in fact, to provide far more spaces than the cars actually can use. This is apparently so that no one will ever have to look for a parking space under any circumstance.

My initial master's thesis proposal was to do an assessment of not just parking, but all the paved surface in the US - roads, parking, driveways... all of it. To get a broad brush handle on the true cost of just that aspect of auto culture - not just $, but impacts on farmland, wildlife, surface water... Got a cool reception from advisors, so never did it. Instead assayed "Media Treatment of Energy Issues". And found (guess what) incompetence, ignorance, willful misinformation. Within it, also found figures much in line with what kalliergo posts below in Automobile Subsidy - that externalized costs of auto/oil dependence - medical, pollution, defense - were on the order of $6-$8/gallon, in early '90's dollars. That, of course, never gets reported in the MSM.

"Media Treatment of Energy Issues"= incompetence, ignorance, ...

We forgot Bread and Circus for the MSM-fed masses

And 30 coins of silver for the sell-out pundits of Cornucopia-land

The ultimate living pattern will be farms and houses/apartments and commercial building all in clusters. The idea of packing people in to massive concrete jungles is not gonna fly.

But if you want to reclaim urban land - just advocate population decrease. At this point the green team doesn't even have the balls to advocate a stable population, as amazing as that is.

The ultimate living pattern will be farms and houses/apartments and commercial building all in clusters.

What do you think the size of your clusters might be? How far apart will they be?

To what extent will clusters specialize and to what extent attempt local self-sufficiency?

What is the world human population that you envision being accommodated in this manner?

Our tendency to scatter people widely over the planet is only supported, in a high-tech world, by cheap energy for transportation and communications. In an energy- and resource-constrained future, cities will provide inherent efficiencies.

In fact, as global GDP growth per-capita has slowed, migration to the cities has increased, often massively. A majority of the world's population already lives in cities.

Your clusters might work in a world with a billion humans at a significantly lower level of technology and consumption than at present. And we may be headed there.

a world with a billion humans at a significantly lower level of technology and consumption than at present. And we may be headed there.

Bingo - something very much like that, one way or another.

Why would clusters work worse than the current model of farms in one area, suburbs in another and business in another? You could still have a cluster with massive skyscraper that are magnificent monuments to the men and women with offices on the top floor and massive condominium and apartment towers that allow their inhabitants to look out on the farmland not so far away, allowing them to forget the fact that they don't have a backyard where their kids can play and where they could grow veggies.

What is the break down between what the tax on gas pays for with respect to roads and what comes out of other taxes?

The simple answer is that "highways" are mostly paid for by gas taxes and auto registration and user fees of various kinds. Local "streets" are typically paid for out of general funds.

Todd Litman, at VTPI, did a study that has long been celebrated in the pedestrian/cyclist communities:

Whose Roads?

If you look closely, I expect you'll discover that we subsidize private auto use in more ways than you've ever imagined, and a much higher cost than you think.

From Duany/Plater-Zyberk's Suburban Nation (2001):


To what extent is automobile use a "free" good? According to Hart and Spivak, government subsidies for highways and parking alone amount to between 8 and 10 percent of our gross national product, the equivalent of a fuel tax of approximately $3.50 per gallon. If this tax were to account for "soft" costs such as pollution cleanup and emergency medical treatment, it would he as high as $9.00 per galion. The cost of these subsidies-approximately $5,000 per car per year-is passed directly on to the American citizen in the form of increased prices for products or, more often, as income, property, and sales taxes. This means that the hidden costs of driving are paid by everyone: not just drivers, but also those too old or too poor to drive a car. And these people suffer doubly, as the very transit systems they count on for mobility have gone out of business, unable to compete with the heavily subsidized highways.



k - my master's research unearthed figures generally in agreement with what you post as 'soft' costs. As I recall (sorry no links from those 'ancient' days) pollution, medical and oil-related defense costs amounted $6-$8/gallon in early '90's dollars. And that explicitly excluded the 'one time' (guess it's two, now) cost of Gulf War I.

Cities had streets long before rail was invented. Streets are multi-use facilities. You'd need to maintain them no matter what - for bus (even where there is rail, even in New York, there are countless people it doesn't come close to serving), freight, and emergency access among other things. And these days you'd need to maintain them somewhat well; imagine the fuss and lawsuits if someone died because the first fire engine dropped a wheel into a pothole in a mud street. So streets aren't going away even if private cars do. OTOH light rail systems are single-use. That bodes ill when money and resources are scarce.

Chindia is increasing coal usage, oil usage, nuclear and gas usage, along with increased electric trains, cars, hydro, wind and everything else you can poke a stick at, including food, humans, environmental destruction, water and pollution. The population of the world increases by 80 million a year. Electric trains, cars and wind mills better get moving to overcome that as well as reduce what we do with FF's now.

You can't just flippantly throw out there, a couple of "we can's" then relax back in your chair and blow cigar smoke. Canada, Norway and the USA are not the world. "We can" do a lot of things and of course "we" actually are. We'll try every innovation imaginable, after all we are talking about expectations of continual economic growth and a no compromise lifestyle embedded in the modern psyche.

The thing is though, none of the innovations are helping the problem of population, environmental degradation, resource depletion, CO2 emissions or FF use. The innovations are in fact making things worse by prolonging the march of BAU. Canada exports it's pollution but so do many other FF exporting nations, there is nothing to be smug about.

Coal provides over 23% of global primary energy needs. It generates around 39% of the world's electricity. Almost 70% of total global steel production is dependent on coal. Is there even a long term solution to that? The only solution I can see is is an economic collapse.

There is more stored energy in Canadian coal than all the country's oil, natural gas, and oil sands combined. Canada exports about 28 million tonnes of coal annually to more than 20 countries. Coal is the single largest commodity carried by Canadian railways. Canada ranks tenth in the world in total coal reserves with 4 billion tonnes of bituminous coal, (only tenth! China alone burns 3.6 billion annually).

We will not of course get to use all that coal, because we will be well and truly screwed before then but I can imagine "Canada" having a damn good try. Coal use is set to soar as oil declines and nuclear power generation wanes.

Any country that controls the domestic price of oil below the international price is going to have to deal with the fact that people are going to try to export their oil and oil products to take advantage of the higher international price.

Russia would be particularly bad from this standpoint because its oil magnates are not particularly honest, and it has a large criminal element which would bribe its ways around any laws.

However, I don't think Russia has any particular laws controlling exports of refined products, so when companies can get a higher price in one of the adjacent countries, they will immediately start exporting more.

If Russia was not so corrupted, this move would inject some very usefull cash into the state coffins. One way or another mr Putin could use that to boost his popularity. But I guess that money will go mostly towards jewelry, fur coats and yachts for the already very rich. Not a politically sustainable situation.

"state coffins"! I was surprised to learn that the word you meant to use - state COFFERS, has the same etymology as coffin, deriving from basket.

I guess "coffers" is the right english word to use. However I am swedish, and we use the word "kista" for both cases, so it was totaly natural to use the word "coffins" for me. Never even noticed english has two words for that.

A "kista" is usefull both for storing your pirate tresure, and bury dead people.

The Export Land Model strikes back: Russia to stop gasoline exports in May to quench local thirst

As expected, the situation where the local producers increase exports to quell losses in the local market due to fixed prices could not continue much longer: today (28/04/2011) the Russian Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Kudryashov said that Russia will suspend exports of gasoline in May in order to meet domestic demand, after almost a week of dire shortages in some regions.

See the full story here

Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries

Russia is our # 13 in crude, 137 K BPD in Jan. Also #7 in total petroleum products, 463K BPD.


CNN reporting BP first quarter profits @ $5.48 billon (no link yet). Timing is everything. With gas prices high, will the Admin move quickly to change the tax structure for oil producers?

Re: Jeff Rubin: Is Peak Coal Coming? (Uptop)

Chinese net coal exports/imports through 2009 (EIA):

Re: US Coal Resources ("The Saudi Arabia of Coal")

The EIA shows that the US consumed, on a tonnage basis, 96% of our coal production in 2008 and 93% in 2009. For 2009, the specific numbers were production of 1,072 million short tons and consumption of 1,000 million short tons.

On a tonnage basis, in 2000 we actually consumed slightly more than we produced.

Regarding net coal exports, it looks like the EIA may have some kind of BTU adjustment, but in any case, they show 2009 net coal exports from the US at 37 million short tons, versus 288 for Australia and 261 for Indonesia.

It appears that the average BTU content for US coal is about 20 million BTU per short ton.

If my math is correct, US net coal exports in 2009 were the equivalent of about 337,000 BOE per day (0.34 mbpd), versus recent Saudi net oil exports in the 7 to 8 mbpd range, which is why the common description of the US as the "Saudi Arabia of coal" does not seem quite accurate.

Here's my math in terms of daily net US coal exports for 2009 (EIA):

(101,000 short tons per day X 20 million BTU/ton)/6 million BTU/BOE = 337,000 BOE per day.

US Net Coal Exports through 2009 (EIA):

No, describing the US as the "Saudi Arabia of coal" is hardly accurate. American coal exports are nowhere near being in the same league as Saudi oil exports on a heat content basis.

Australia, with several times the export tonnage, could be considered to be the "Saudi Arabia of coal", but even then, its coal exports are not in the same range as KSA's exports of oil. It would be more accurate to call Australia, the "Canada of coal" since its coal exports are in the same range as Canada's exports of oil.

In reality, there is no "Saudi Arabia of coal". Some politicians in the US aspire to that status, but they'll never get there.

Saudi Arabia produces ~20 quads/yr of oil energy, mostly for export.
The US mines 22 quads of coal energy(1100 Mt/yr), so in terms of production the US and KSA are pretty close.

If a Btu is a btu then the 'politicians' are correct.

Australia produces 440 Mt/yr of coal(9.6 quads) so Oz is more like the Iran(8.5 quads/yr) of oil production.

In terms of btus, oil reserves versus coal reserves however KSA at 270 Gb oil(1516 quads) is more like the Australia of coal(1670 quads).

Personally, I don't believe a 'btu=btu' meme, so popular here.
Oil is just more valuable than coal.

Majorian, sometimes I humour myself and think that you're working for OPEC. Perhaps a volunteer?

I think the Australia - KSA comparison is closer than Aus- Canada

Canada simply pipes it's oil to to the south, both KSA and Australia ship their product all over the world.

While Australia is not the world's largest coal producer, nor even holds the largest reserves, it is the dominant player in world export markets. And just as with oil, what is in the ground is secondary, what counts is how much is being produced, at what rate, and how much can be exported after domestic consumption.

In this regard, Australia is very similar to KSA - it exports far more than it consumes (77% of production), and is the dominant supplier in world markets - accounting for about 20% of thermal coal exports. In metallurgical (coking) coal, Australia accounts for a staggering 54% of exports - making it 2x the dominance of KSA in that market.

Interruptions in coal supply from Australia have immediate impact on world coal markets - interruptions in oil supply from Canada may temporarily raise prices for American drivers, but how important is that, really, in the scheme of things?

Where the coal-oil analogy breaks down is that only 16% of world coal production is exported, whereas about 50% of oil is exported.
Also, the $ value of coal exports is about 10% that of oil.

Another interesting fact is where the coal is used;
The five largest coal users - China, USA, India, Japan and South Africa - account for 82% of total global coal use.

So it is quite a different market to oil

Here are the top exporting countries according to worldcoal.org (IEA data)

Top Coal Exporters (2009e)
Total - Steam- Coking
Australia - 259Mt - 134Mt - 125Mt
Indonesia - 230Mt - 200Mt - 30Mt
Russia - 116Mt - 105Mt - 11Mt
Colombia - 69Mt - 69Mt - 0
South Africa - 67Mt - 66Mt - 1Mt
USA - 53Mt - 20Mt - 33Mt
Canada - 28Mt -7Mt - 21Mt

And the importers;

- Total - Steam - Coking
Japan - 165Mt- 113Mt- 52Mt
PR China - 137Mt - 102Mt - 35Mt
South Korea - 103Mt - 82Mt - 21Mt
India - 67Mt - 44Mt - 23Mt
Taiwan - 60Mt - 57Mt - 3Mt
Germany - 38Mt - 32Mt - 6Mt
UK - 38Mt - 33Mt - 5Mt

Amazing that the UK even uses coking coal anymore.

Interesting. Have you - or Sam Foucher - done a version of ELM for coal e.g. an estimate of remaining Cumulative Net Exports, and how rapidly they are being depleted? (Are you in the middle of doing that?)

That graph for China has a very familiar shape...

No plans to tackle the coal issue, but the math is very similar.

I imagine the cost of coal will rise due to the cost of oil transporting it. Also steel, rock etc.

The canals and waterways in Britain were dug by hand and coal powered steam shovel. It would be interesting to see them redeveloped.

I wouldn't pay much attention to the net export/import graph from the EIA.

First off, they have the units wrong. Current imports are 112 and not 112,000 million short tons.

Against Chinese production of 3,362 million short tons this number is pretty much in the noise for China even though it has an outsized impact on global coal markets.

China has swung between importer and exporter a couple of times according to the BP data. The only thing everyone agrees on is that the import/export volumes amount to < 5% of total production.

That familiar shape you are seeing is noise rather than signal.


. . . even though it has an outsized impact on global coal markets.

I agree that the vertical legend is wrong on the EIA chart, but the EIA data show that after a fairly steady increase in net coal exports, China swung, for the first time since 1980, into net importer status. So, what we had was probably a top five net coal exporter go, pretty suddenly, into net importer status, at least based on EIA data. As you pointed out, I suspect that it will have an outsized impact on global coal markets.

Yes, China is the 8,000 lb gorilla in the global coal market.

My ASPO mini-talk on Global Coal Trends was subtitled: The importance of China.

My only concern about China is that their command-and-control economy could some day surprise those of us who expect their coal consumption to increase unabated.

Or maybe they'll surprise me by not surprising "us".

"Inscrutable" comes to mind.

I suppose to be the Saudi Arabia of anything, that just means you make a lot of it ... for the US to consume.

From the New York Times: Saudi Oil Production Doesn’t Add Up

There are competing explanations for this inconsistency. Some analysts claim that the increase in oil production Saudi officials promised in late February to compensate for lost Libyan supplies was fictitious. Statements from the Saudis themselves imply that the kingdom cut its production several weeks later much more sharply than reported. But either scenario contradicts previous statements from Saudi officials...

(Further down into the article:)

If you take these statements at face value, major inconsistencies remain. By crunching the numbers above, Saudi Arabia’s March production should have averaged around 9.4 million barrels a day. But Mr. Al-Naimi said it produced 8.3 million barrels a day in March. The only way you can get to Mr. Al-Naimi’s figure is to assume that in the second half of March the Saudis slashed production to just 7.0 million barrels a day. This is a level not seen since the 1990s and it is scarcely credible that Saudi Arabia would cut so deep at a time when oil demand is still growing and prices have been hitting two-and-a-half year highs. Independent estimates from the International Energy Agency and OPEC put Saudi Arabia’s production at 8.9 million barrels a day in March.

Finally the real mainstream media is questioning the validity of Saudi's statements, not just a bunch of bloggers. I get the feeling that something is about to break, but it may take several months for that to happen.

Ron P.

Time for a 'Lehman Brothers' type distraction, before too many people get it.

Maybe the MENA unrest was the thingy they came up with this time to distract us? Who knows what they have planned for this summer? I like you am just waiting for it to happen. They are really talking up the markets. The idea is to maybe draw in more money into stocks and then pull the plug. Who knows?

My error, it was the Wall Street Journal. Anyway, this is the biggest news to come out of OPEC in years. This, I think, confirms what a few of us have been saying about Saudi since 2005. I am glad to see MSM taking notice.

Ron P.

Where have I heard this type of inconsistent and constantly changing statements before? Well in relationships of course. In every case, the other half of the partnership was eventually discovered to be withholding critical and damaging information. I'm sure this is also the case with Saudi oil production. Why would collapsing oil production be any different than a collapsing relationship?

Haha, nice analogy.

Yes, good point.

There seems to be a similar "relations" collapse going on at Warren Buffet's company:(news here)

Obama begs for more oil:

Obama says he wants oil producers to boost output

Obama acknowledged disruptions in oil production because of the war in Libya. But he said others can make up the difference and "we're pushing them to do so." Libya supplied less than 2 percent of world demand. Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries already are covering some of that shortage by boosting production.

The president's effort to compel more overseas production echoed calls by President George W. Bush in 2008 urging Saudi Arabia to increase supplies during that year's spike in gasoline prices. The Saudis rebuffed Bush's efforts.

Obama said he has stressed the self-interest of oil producing nations, arguing that "if we're not growing, they're not going to be making money either.

"And so they need to increase supplies," he told WTKR.

He may be setting the stage for a release of oil from the SPR.

The SPR is like a nuclear weapon -- it only works if you don't use it.

Indeed. In the absence of an obvious, short term shortage (say a terror strike on a major oil terminal) to use the SPR would be like walking down Wall St with a sandwich board reading 'The End is Nigh!'.

Agreed- strange that your Prez doesn't understand that(??!!)

Not my Prezz, I'm a Royal Subject - about to be subjected to several hours of wall to wall monarchist propaganda :)

Yeahaha, me too, but I'm crawling for a different monarch, namely King Harald "Hardreign" of Norway /snark

It would be ironic if Obama released oil from the SPR and prices actually rose.

Oil & Obama don’t mix

"All administrations have limited tools to address the problem," said Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "He's actually used already the one tool that's most helpful."

Obama is also hearing from Republicans and Democrats alike that he should tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, especially if oil hits $125 a barrel or the nationwide retail gas price tops $4.

"It's a big difference," Weiss said, explaining that it could help cut about a quarter from a gallon of gas.

But moving on the SPR also has its critics who say it should only be tapped in an emergency. And they also doubt Obama is serious when he calls on the Justice Department to look into market manipulation by oil traders and speculators.

It would be ironic if Obama released oil from the SPR and prices actually rose.

westexas, I hope Obama keeps the cap on the SPR.

The United States should be working on reducing its demand rather than draining its emergency supply.
In my opinion $4 gas is not an emergency. Our cars average significantly lower fuel economy than European cars.

"It would be ironic if Obama released oil from the SPR and prices actually rose."

The linked article doesn't even seem to mention that possibility. But wouldn't the Saudis simply announce that the market is really well supplied, and cut back proportionally?

I think that the Saudis are quite aware of the arguments that Obama will present in trying to persuade them to produce more oil. I'm sure he'll meet with the same lack of response that George W did.

The fundamental problem is, I suspect, that the Saudis can't produce any more oil, at least of the sort that any refinery would want to process.

Obama increasingly has sought to display action on oil, even as he acknowledges that there is no immediate way to stem costs.

westexas, "Obama says he wants oil producers to boost output". I suppose Obama's actions of wanting a supply boost are natural to expect, but why does he not mention anything about the United States reducing its demand?

I've mentioned some fuel savings suggestions previously.

These two ideas could be implemented relatively easily and would help send a message that we were serious.

  • Eliminate Saturday US Postal delivery. Save approximately 75 million gallons (284 million liters) per year. This would also help with the USPS's deficit.

  • Lower maximum speed on all highways in the United States to 65 miles per hour (104.6 km/h). Present max is 80 mph (128.7 km/h). I do not know the number of vehicle miles driven that this would apply to, so it is difficult for me to estimate the fuel savings.
    Anyone wish to calculate a estimate?
  • I agree with the fuel savings. It seems to me that Prez O's action shows wishful thinking. I mean, "Please have more oil" won't work, unless KSA finds a way to put some oil into depleted fields. And, if they could do that (without going out and buying it), we would not have a problem, would we?

    I think the PTB are nuts. Maybe they are really clued in, and just are trying to keep the sheeple from knowing. More likely they just are following their natural instinct to believe what makes them happy, no matter what the facts are. If they really got it, we would have a serious energy paradigm shift in progress today, including sustainable energy sources, and a complete new power grid. Plus, of course, electric mass transit and interstate rail! Since I see none of that (shovel ready projects to improve the roads? Come, on Obama! Get Real!), and not even a semblance of a discussion about how, when and where to BEGIN, I conclude that the administration, and most if not all in Congress are absolutely and in every meaningful way, CLUELESS. Either that, or insane. Same consequences.


    ...a complete new power grid.

    I conclude that the administration, and most if not all in Congress are absolutely and in every meaningful way, CLUELESS..

    zaphod42, thanks for your thoughts.

    However, we do not need a complete new grid. We only need to make enhancements to the existing grid. Adding high-voltage lines to the existing grid increases its capacity.

    Regarding our duly elected officials, there is much room for improvement. It is better to be planning ahead rather than reacting to the present.

    However, we do not need a complete new grid. We only need to make enhancements to the existing grid. Adding high-voltage lines to the existing grid increases its capacity.

    Actually, Kindhearted, we do need a new grid. What we have cannot accept multiple small producers, such as individual homes, farms and even businesses. The present grid is designed and works for long distance transmission from large central sources. It is inadequate as presently constituted.

    This has been well known for some time. For instance, in 2008:


    The idea of focusing stimulus funds on roads and bridges was ludicrous. And, while T.Boone Pickens has a good idea, it has always looked to me like it was a throw away in a bid to promote his NG holdings.



    The present grid is ... inadequate as presently constituted.

    Craig, thanks for the discussion.

    The new grid mentioned in the article is the existing grid with enhancements. Items mentioned are the addition of smart meters. The meters and additional energy storage will help allow the grid to accommodate the new variable energy sources.

    In addition to getting rid of the saturday delivery, the USPS should also go to every 2nd day delivery for residential and rural mail. Then they could seriously downsize their fleet, staff and oil use. Most rural mail in Australia is delivery every 2nd day, and really, what domestic mail is so important that it can;t wait another day? If it is that important it will likely be sent courier anyway, or you can got to the PO and pick it up.

    Lowering the highway limit would save some fuel, I think drive55.org has some info that, but good luck trying to get that passed into law!

    ...the USPS should also go to every 2nd day delivery for residential and rural mail.

    Paul Nash, thanks for the suggestions.

    I can envision long-term that the USPS could be on a three day a week (M-W-F) delivery schedule. Their mail volume is dropping at the same time their costs (fuel and labor) are increasing. Rather than just raising stamp prices, something needs to be done to cut costs .

    Agreed, they need to reduce deliveries, and cut out weekend delivery. Also, how about stopping subsidizing of spam mail? Bulk mail should pay the same as snail mail. The increased cost would reduce volume, saving on trees and since the PO delivers it at a loss, saving for the government on its subsidies to the post office. Moreover, it would help everyone to have fewer mailings to sort through. Until we see some of these true reforms, all that is happening in DC is that they are all blowing smoke.


    Bulk mail should pay the same as snail mail.

    ...saving for the government on its subsidies to the post office.

    Craig, thanks for your comments. It looks like 23% (52% x 44%) of the total mail delivered is never opened. I support raising the rate on bulk mail.

    From the NEWSWEEK magazine issue dated Oct 6, 2008:
    "...direct mailings... now constitute 52 percent of mail volume...
    But 89 percent of consumers say in polls that they'd prefer not to receive direct-marketing mail; 44 percent of it is never opened."

    To Postal Workers, No Mail Is 'Junk'

    The government does not subsidize the post office. I think the PO just borrows money when they are short (similar to the government's mode of operation).
    Based on the present law, the federal government however does require the 6 day a week delivery.

    Actually, the better way to go is to do some runs M-W-F and others T-Th . That way you spread the load and get maximum use of the people and vehicles.

    For fun, you also have a M-T run and then a W-T- F run!

    In any case, the postal services, in most countries worldwide, are have passed peak mail, they have to deal with the downslope. here in Canada, the mgt has acted like a normal entrepreneurial business would, to try and create new products and services to maintain/grow their business - which really means maintain unionised staff levels.

    In reality, they need to accept they are not a normal business, and just find the most efficient way to carry out their shrinking business.

    In reality, they need to accept they are not a normal business, and just find the most efficient way to carry out their shrinking business.

    Paul Nash, I agree with needing to focus on efficiency. In the United States' case, a federal law requires the postal system to deliver six days a week. I guess we aren't in a crisis yet, so change can wait.

    From the USPS website: "Independent surveys from both Rasmussen and Gallup show that nearly 70 percent of Americans support the decision to cut back on delivery if it means the Postal Service will continue to be a viable, valuable part of their community."

    Well, it sounds like a law change is in order then - isn't that what the congressmen are paid to do?

    The hard part about that quote, is that it is ignoring the fact that mail delivery is fast becoming a redundant part of the community, like milk delivery, and long ago, ice delivery did.

    Post is a service to the community, not the other way around. if the community does not need it anymore, or not much of it, then it should shrink accordingly. Otherwise the community is paying to maintain a largely redundant service, and the community itself becomes less viable.

    For the record, I have no problem with stamp prices doubling or even trebling - how much of a cost is mail these days anyway? if you are mailing that much that is is such a cost, then you are probably mailing far more than you need to.

    Mailing of documents is on the way out, it is only physical items that need to be sent - at least, until we invent a teleporter.

    Where I live, I've never seen a road with a speed limit higher than 65. However, just because that's the official limit doesn't mean that's what people drive. Most folks do at least 70 on the roads and 75 is common. To make a 65 limit stick where 75 is conventional, you're going to need a lot of extra cops. They're going to have to pull people doing 67 in a 65, a ticky-tack judgment call open to a lot of abuse ("driving while black", etc.). That will require a lot of overtime and a lot of extra court time and space. That, in turn, requires a lot of money, which most states simply don't have right now. It would also be deeply unpopular.

    I like the idea of "no funds to widen or lengthen roads, only to repair or replace". Some particularly broke counties and states are even letting redundant roads fall into disrepair, an even better idea.

    It would also be deeply unpopular.

    Jersey Patriot, thanks for your comments. Most of the roads over 65 mph are in the Western United States. Are you in New Jersey?

    I think almost anything other than business as usual will be unpopular. I think TOD is a good forum for discussing ideas, whether or not they are popular.

    Maybe now is as good a time as any for Obama to learn that the planet and its resources are finite, especially oil. His expressed concern for climate change is revealed, through this action, as being completely hollow. Westexas needs to be dispatched to the White House immediately to explain this teachable moment. And doesn't he know that the world is well supplied, according to the Saudis? So why would they want to increase supplies for a world that is well supplied?

    Commodity Paradigm Shift

    Really interesting analysis by Jeremy Grantham.
    I think he's right on the money.

    Agreed -- it should be required reading for policymakers everywhere. It is somewhat surprising, however, that he suggests that the U.S. might still be able to sustain GDP growth of 1.5-2.0% annually for the next twenty years in view of the somewhat bleak picture he painted throughout the rest of the report. Contrast that with the new book that Richard Heinberg is writing in which Heinberg argues that the onset of peak oil means that the era of economic growth is already over.

    At this point I'm a bit more inclined to agree with Grantham than with Heinberg about that based strictly on the commodities argument, although I think that the unresolved global financial mess could overrule that argument for at least a decade.

    Our Iowa Corn Farmer gave us the full PDF version yesterday. Thanks X


    "How we deal with this unsustainable surge in demand and not just “peak oil,” but “peak everything,” is
    going to be the greatest challenge facing our species. But whether we rise to the occasion or not, there will be some great fortunes made along the way in finite resources and resource efficiency, and it would be sensible to participate."

    Wow, one of the more cynical statements I've read.
    The Morlock life style trumps Eloi every time I guess.

    It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, aquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and selfinterest are the traits of sucess. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.

        ~John Steinbeck

    Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

    To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.


    Excellent quotes.

    Grantham is paying attention. Anyone that looks carefully at the data will reach the same conclusion.

    What we're seeing is an interplay of

    1) growing population which you can investigate with the Population Trends databrowser

    2) limited mineral resources as showcased in the US Minerals databrowser

    3) limited fossil fuel supplies evident in the Energy Export databrowser

    The extent to which investors understand this interplay is reflected in the futures market which becomes visible at the Futures Explorer.

    The data tell a pretty clear story.

    We're doing everything we can to make it easy for folks to interact with the data and reach their own understanding.

    Take a look at the data yourself and see what conclusion you come to.



    I just looked at most every country in the population data browser, and what I saw depicted was sobering indeed.

    I encourage each and every one of you to do the same.

    The only regions of the World which showed modest declines in population was Eastern Europe and Russia.

    A very few other significantly-sized countries such as Germany and Japan showed ~ zero population growth in the past several years...

    Western Europe (Germany being a big exception) has shown 'modest' growth in general...'modest' in comparison to the ROW being ~ 5-7% since 2000.

    The Rest of the Word...meaning virtually the entire Western Hemisphere, the vast majority of Africa and Asia (excepting Russia)...wow, the growth rate between 2000 and now, as well as the slope of the growth line at the 2010 end of the graphs...does not look encouraging at all.

    Jon, How about a global fish data browser?

    A global ice coverage data browser?

    A global pollution emission data browser?

    Global species extinction data browser?

    All by country and region as your other data browsers...

    My wife asked how much of each country's population increase was due to citizens' births and how much was due to immigration.

    I told her that I didn't know, but there was no way we have ~90% of the countries with significant growth and that being explicable by immigration!

    Maybe the population data browser could feature birth rate, death rate, immigration rate, and emigration rate?

    Hats off to you, Jon...your data browsers truly convey a lot of important information very easily! These graphs need to be published in newspapers, magazines, and on TV 'news' shows, in Congressional and Presidential press conferences and proceedings, along with decent supporting commentary...

    You do have take into account that it's not only birth rate and immigration that is increasing population growth - it's also decreased mortality rate.

    The decrease looks set to taper off towards the middle of the century - hopefully making a significant dent on overall growth.

    The expression "mortality rate" is something I never can come to terms with. Last time I checked it was 100%; everybody dies. Instead I prefer "vitality"; how long we live. Because that varies.

    But yes I understand the mathiematics; you need to know on 1000 people how many will die, get born, and migrate in and ut, in a year. But still, everyone dies.

    And everyone gets born. :-)

    But not everyone dies at the same time.

    The mortality rate is per cause or per period of time, because those things do matter.

    One of the reasons why Eastern Europe is showing a decline and western Europe an increase is immigration/population movements.


    The problems of compounding growth in the face of finite resources are not easily understood by optimistic, short-term-oriented, and relatively innumerate humans (especially the political variety).

    Nice quote.

    Learning curve steep for Cassville plant now burning wood biomass

    The plant has a ravenous and never-ending appetite for wood fuel. It requires 1,000 tons per day, 50 to 70 semitrailer loads. Sources include everything from the wood debris of demolished buildings in Milwaukee to brushy slash from logging operations. The plant has about 30 contracts with wood suppliers, Nelson said, and has had to build its own market and supply chain because wood-burning plants are so new.

    I wonder how much energy it takes to chip 1,000 tons of wood and deliver it to this plant. It would be interesting to compare the energy input(s) vs. output.

    The engineers know those numbers. You would think it might be relevant to the news-story...

    They're finding out the hard way that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL). People should anticipate that when they start promoting one of the innumerable simplistic solutions to complex problems, such as are often cited here, but for some reason they never do.

    The transition has had its rough spots. Nearby residents have complained about problems such as ash on their window sills and kitchen counters, and wood chip piles stored in quarries that spontaneously combust and fill scenic valleys with blue haze.

    “It’s frustrating sometimes,” Nelson said. “I think the expectation was that we’d push a button and then everybody’s feet would be up on their desks and we’d be making power.”

    “When it came time to operate the plant, there was a learning curve,” Nelson said. Most problematic, he said, was learning how to burn the wood fuel, figuring out how to blend the different kinds of wood, for example, or how much air to use to keep the wood burning at the right intensity.

    That particular learning process probably accounted for at least some of the emission problems, said Rob Sanch, the plant’s environmental engineer. “When you have operational issues, they lead to environmental issues,” Sanch said.

    The biggest problem is that these solutions don't scale well. Even in the US, there aren't enough demolished buildings and slash from logging to keep the country supplied with electric power.

    The biggest problem is that these solutions don't scale well. Even in the US, there aren't enough demolished buildings and slash from logging to keep the country supplied with electric power.

    Coal, oil and theirfriends are ancient sources. Wood etc is realtime energy. Burning fossilfuelat 100 times the creation speed (for example) is equivalent to burning renewables collected from a 100 times larger area than what you realy are. And I am convinced oil and coal is consumed at at last 1000 times faster than creation speed, maybe 100 000 or more.

    There just is not enough land to replace all that.

    It sounds like these guys did not do enough homework. Burning wood for electricity production is mature technology, there are dozens of 20-60MW wood burning powerplants in N. America today - maybe they should have visited a few of them, or at least read this excellent report first;


    It covers 20 biomass plants that between them are 750MW and had up to 18 years of operation at the time of the report (2000). Almost all of them reported doing modifications to fuel handling systems.

    They also said security of supply was a major concern - some of them used up all their locally available fuel fairly quickly and were then forced to bring in fuel from farther afield, with attendant cost increases.

    They didn't quote any numbers for the Cassville plant, but I'll guess their efficiencies aren't the best - part of the tradeoff for using old equipment instead of new, purpose built stuff.

    Wood can work, but not at the scale of coal, and often not at the location of a coal plant either.

    the drive to empire for Britain was diminishing supplies of wood. Not only for fuel, but for ships, and more importantly for their masts (need tall, straight trunks). In turn, as wood ran out, slavery became more common. The transition to coal, and the industrial revolution, came just in time, and enabled populations to rise ten fold in about 200 years.

    What makes you think that we, with 10 times the population as that particular turn of history, can make wood work as a fuel source today, when it was failing then?

    There has been only one recent discussion that has appealed to my optimistic nature, and that is hse of HE3 from the Moon in fusion, which is supposed to be availabe is sufficient quantity to power us for 1,000 years. Now we will feed ourselves during that time was not discussed, though lip service was given to exporting people to other solar systems.

    Good luck with the wood furnaces; and with men on the Moon.


    What makes you think that we, with 10 times the population as that particular turn of history, can make wood work as a fuel source today, when it was failing then?

    Well, we have the ability/technology to make wood work as a fuel source, in fact we always have had, be it for for heat, cooking, electricity via steam, or via gasification/ICE. Nowadays we can do all thee methods better than before.

    Just so we are clear - I m saying we can absolutely make wood work as a fuel but we can absolutely not replace any significant portion of world fossil fuel use with it.

    But that does not mean it can;t be used. One of the great things is it can be grown by anyone, anywhere, it is not necessarily controlled by governments/corporations. It can be successfully used at very small scales, down to the size of a Honda genset ( http://victorygasifier.com/the-hotwatt/ )or as large as large tractors/trucks/trains, and of course in stationary power plants. A farmer/village/region can grow their own and be energy independent if they keep their use low enough. Growing trees helps local ecosystems too.

    The He3 idea is interesting - I first read about it in Mining the Sky a fascinating read, but given that we have not succeeded in any fusion reaction yet, and now can't afford space travel, I can;t see it happening.

    Though maybe that is just as well, as it means, collectively, we have to face and deal with the limits before us - though this seems to be almost as difficullt as the fusion reaction.

    ...it means, collectively, we have to face and deal with the limits before us - though this seems to be almost as difficullt as the fusion reaction.

    Yes, but there's a difference. We haven't achieved fusion despite long and serious effort. We haven't begun to deal with limits mostly because we can't bring ourselves to believe they are real, and looming.

    I struggle all the time with the question of whether the species is hardwired this way. Some of the smartest people I know think it is. OTOH, obviously, some of us get ti.

    I struggle all the time with the question of whether the species is hardwired this way. Some of the smartest people I know think it is. OTOH, obviously, some of us get it.

    I think part if this depends on a person's life experience. Growing up on a farm in dry Australia, there are very definite limits of both land and water that you are faced with, and so you get innovative in how to make the most use, AND least waste, of both of them.

    In effect, you learn to game your system to get the most out of X.

    Other people, it seems, have never experienced living within any real limit, or have long forgotten it. They seem to think that if you try hard enough/spend enough money and/or time, that you can push the limits. The silicon valley types are in this camp, and in the case of software, it is actually true.

    In effect, their gaming of the system is not to get more from a limited amount of X, but to change X itself - quite a different world view. And, unfortunately, one that most politicians seem to adopt, and seems to resonate best with voters. No one ever got voted in by promising less of anything (except taxes).

    Good luck with... men on the Moon.

    zaphod42, reminds me of Star Trek. It makes me realize the quicker we get to work here on Earth to become more sustainable the better.

    Ja, Kindhearted, whether it is in 10 years, 100, or 1,000, if we do not get off this rock, we are ultimately doomed.

    As much as I want to be jubilantly optimistic, in my heart I know that the improbabilities would power the HOG to Milliway's and back!


    Re: Traditional incandescent bulbs on their way out starting Jan. 1

    Yesterday, I attended a Philips training seminar on LED technology and it was a real eye opener. Currently, Philips sells a 12.5-watt LED A19 replacement that provides the same amount of light as a conventional 60-watt incandescent (it retails for about $40.00 at Home Depot, so for most of us a $2.00 CFL is a far better choice overall). Next year, we should see a 75-watt replacement and the year after that, a 100-watt equivalent. Within the next ten years, they're projecting a 50 per cent improvement in delivered lumens per watt and that the cost per lumen will fall appreciably.

    Unfortunately, in Canada, the Harper government wants to delay the phase-out of incandescent lamps by two years:

    See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/04/15/cv-election-bulbs-deadl...

    On a related note, I hope to be converting a local outlet of a major fashion retailer to LED technology within the next few days. Here, we'll be replacing 75-watt halogen-IR PAR38s and 75-watt PL36 fluorescent wall washers with 17-watt LED PAR38s on a one-for-one basis, and the 60-watt halogen T60s in their change room pendants will be swapped out for the aforementioned 12.5-watt A19. This retailer operates some 970 stores across Canada under seven banners and if this pilot goes well, tens of thousands of sockets currently fitted with halogen lamps could be upgraded to LED technology. The savings potential is enormous *.


    * A "typical" retail outlet may have two to three hundred 75-watt halogen lamps in use, so when you multiple that by nearly 1,000 stores nation-wide, the numbers quickly add up, plus these stores are air conditioned near year round, so the related a/c savings are sizeable as well.

    The phasing out of tradititional incandescent bulbs is well underway in the UK. Standard 100 (2009),60 (2010) & 40 (2011) watt bulbs are gone from the main retail outlets (supermarkets and DIY) which pretty much covers the supply network for the bulk of the population. Variants are still available for the diehards, but the replacements are getting better all the time. If they can solve the dimmer switch problem then everyone will be happy.

    I think it is safe to say that nobody has died yet of medical complaints - although I understand that in Wales the reports of witches now exceeds the reporting of UFOs so maybe there is a causal effect there somewhere! Good luck in changing the Canadian outlook.

    Yes. Last time I was in a fashion store I was pretty shocked seeing the lighting. Clearly interior designers and energy conservation/efficiency are quite different things. I remember something s scientist making (technical) movies said to be a long time ago. The human brain is quite good at detecting megabucks per minute (production cost of movie), and judges quality based upon it. Given what passes as good fashion I think designers have unconciously zeroed in on the electrical power equivalemnt for lighting.

    "Clearly interior designers and energy conservation/efficiency are quite different things."

    You noticed that too? The local Lowes is full of light fixtures that won't work (for long) with CFLs. Either they are sealed so tight that the ballasts will overheat, or they simply are not big enough.

    Re: Traditional incandescent bulbs on their way out starting Jan. 1

    The law in the United States does not ban incandescent bulbs, nor does it require the use of compact fluorescent bulbs. The law only requires light bulbs to be 25% more energy-efficient. Halogen incandescent light bulbs meet this efficiency requirement and will still be available to those who want to use incandescent light bulbs. Halogen incandescent bulbs are slightly more expensive than regular incandescent bulbs; however their electricity savings more than offset their higher purchase cost.

    Many people may not realize that less than 5% of the power consumed by a regular incandescent light bulb actually produces visible light, and that over 95% is emitted as heat. Countries throughout the world are taking steps toward more energy-efficient lighting.

    That's correct. A Philips 40-watt Halogená ES T60 provides as much light as a 60-watt incandescent, but uses one-third less energy and last up to three times longer. However, at $6.00 a pop, they're not cheap either. For maximum value, again, I would stick with a good quality CFL. If, for whatever reason, CFLs just don't cut it for you, then a 40 or 70-watt Halogená ES T60 is an excellent alternative (I've used them for several years and like them a lot). The 12.5-watt AmbientLED A19 is an amazing product and it's the first non-halogen/incandescent lamp that works for me, but you really have to want this lamp to justify its cost.

    Keep in mind that other lighting technologies are continuing to evolve as well. For example, Philips is busy working on a new generation of linear fluorescent lamps that are thirty to forty per cent more energy efficient than today's best T8 technology and their MasterColour Elite line of ceramic metal halide lamps blows everything else out of the water. LEDs will capture a larger share of the lighting market over time, but it's not the only game in town.


    Yair...Paul, if you see this can you give any insight into motion sensor switches for shutting of lights and whatall in an unoccupied room. That is to say...are they viable or just an affectation?

    We spent a night a while back at a flash resort that was built for folks way above my pay grade and I was impressed the way the lighting followed us down the hallways...there was no permanent lighting and the discrete fixtures just turned on for a moment as we passed.


    Hi SP,

    Occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting controls are great ways to save energy. We've only used the former in our work so far because dimming ballasts are considerably more expensive than their non-dimming brethren (e.g., $100.00 each versus $6.00). Yesterday, I audited a Salvation Army Thrift Store and the lights in the upper mezzanine storeroom are on during regular store hours, but I'm told this area is occupied less than ten per cent of the time. On that basis, we can trim their operation 2,800 to 3,000 hours a year by simply adding occupancy sensors.

    Bi-level dimming in hallways and staircases is another good option -- minimum required light levels are maintained at all times, but the lights return to full brightness whenever activity is detected.

    See: http://www.archenergy.com/lrp/articles/DELTAsnapshotStaircaseLighting.pdf

    I don't know if this is still true, but the hallway lighting at Coca-Cola's head office in Atlanta worked pretty much the same way you described; as you walked down the corridors, the lights would ramp up ahead of you and then slowly fade back down as you passed.


    I'm gonna have to start selling compact radiant space heaters with an integrated on-off indicator light. For convenience, they will fit into a light bulb socket.

    Ha. Good one!

    I may need to go out and get one or two. We have a number of PAR-30 lights - there is one in particular over a stairway, and the common use case is to turn on the lights and go up/down the stairs. But the CFL we have in there now comes on pretty dim and warms up over 5 minutes, so it isn't particularly useful.

    The problem is that these things are all so new there are apparently several models out there - one has a crappy CRI - the other is much better. Who knows which one you would find at Home Depot - CRI usually isn't something they put on the box.

    In terms of lumens/watt, the current LED bulbs don't seem that impressive compared to a CFL. If they can get the number up a bit, it would help a lot..

    I was in my local Home Depot this week.

    They have displays of LED lighting up and running in the lighting department.

    No need to guess on lighting quality, just go and comparison shop using eyes, wallet, and budget ;)

    I looked at LEDs. A screw base LED would be interesting as a retrofit, except the lamps are so expensive I wouldn't be surprised if people stole them and replaced them with CFL. LEDs use about half the electricity of CFLs but energy is so cheap who cares? It's hard to justify an LED closet light.

    An interesting application would be LED corridor/stair lights with 90 minute unit batteries built in. Emergency egress lighting is about 1 fc versus a normal 10 fc corridor
    illumination but I think LEDs can be dimmable. Code says up to 3 lamps can go on a unit battery.
    This application might justify the cost where an emergency illumination system is required.
    Halo and Cree have special fixtures but the bases are weird.
    Does anyone make those?

    LED is going to help me in a couple of areas where the low wattage is going to seriously cut heat issues.


    Paul, Any LED alternatives you can recommend for parking lot light fixtures (the ones that arch over and shine down like street lights)? I would like to convert about a dozen of those 150W sodium vapor monsters. The bulbs are rated at 150W but including the ballasts they pull more than that. This seems like an ideal LED application since the light is supposed to be more or less directional. Thanks in advance.

    - Walt

    Hi Walt,

    You might checkout Lighting Science. We're trying to get our hands on their new C2D LowBay (see: http://www.ledsource.com/files/dmfile/c2d_garagelowbay_spec_15dec101.pdf). We have a parking garage with a thousand or so 150-watt HPS and 175-watt metal halide fixtures that the owner wants to convert to LED and this one is on our short list.

    For outdoor parking lots, see: http://www.lsgc.com/infrastructure/products/product-family/exterior/shoe...


    Re: Chernobyl impact felt 25 years later, up top:

    Children of Chernobyl:


    Award-winning Chernobyl Heart is also available on YouTube:

    Prepare to be depressed.

    Hi all,

    I've been reading The Oil Drum for more than 3 years now. In that time I've seen crude cross $100, top at $147, go down to $35 and back up to $110... good times!

    Meanwhile I'm doing some research on peak oil of my own, which so far has culminated in a blog, EveryBarrelCounts.blogspot.com. I'll be trying to cover some very focused topics related to fossil fuel production.

    My first post is dedicated to the EROEI of a typical Texas pumpjack. Using some very broad assumptions I came to 10:1.

    Anybody out there who would agree?


    Every Barrel Counts

    Self-watering Containers and Mosquitoes

    The other day there was a long discussion about the possibility of mosquitoes thriving in the water. I said that I had an insecticide that would work that was organic but I didn't have the name. Anyway, I was looking for some other insecticides in my storage area yesterday and found the bottle. It is Quick Kill Mosquito Bits produced by Summit, Baltimore, MD. It is BT based and can therefore be considered safe for this use. The "bits" are about the size of BB's.


    Can't you fit screens or mesh over the water fill tubes and overfill holes?

    "Can't you fit screens or mesh over the water fill tubes and overfill holes?" Sure.

    I haven't ever had a problem so I have neither used screens nor insecticide.


    Oh using bacterial toxins are much more fun though. You could even culture your own B. Thuringensis.

    I was the person asking the initial question, and I think that in the end I will be hot glue-gun sealing sturdy plastic anti-mosquito mesh over the inlet and outlet if I go with an earthtainer like design.. However, on the path to a better planter I have come up with some other obstacles.

    -finding good potting medium, one packet of stuff from the nursery was almost all sawdust, the other packet had too much heavy clay soil component. I am working on building compost now, and trying to camouflage the bin so the neighbors/landlady don't complain. (They poison the pigeons that try to make nests, wash their sidewalks with antibacterial soap and don't like people who line-dry clothes... I don't think that they will be very pro-compost).

    -finding cheap UV resistant plastic containers. The hope is to get my garden going to protect the family from the scary inflation in food prices, I won't be doing that if I spend all our disposable income on plastic totes. In total I earn 3300 BSF a month, a cup of coffee costs 6 BSF, a kilo of steak 63 BF and a big plastic tote costs 350 BSF. I haven't found any source of used large plastic buckets, as things aren't disposed of around here like they are in North America (The grocery store charges you 1BSF per used cardboard box for example) I also read somewhere that you should get food-grade plastic, does anyone know if that is a valid concern?.

    -dealing with the run-off water. In my beginner's garden I have some herbs, some of them planted in uncured compost that had a heavy concentration of coffee grounds. The landlady had a strong emotional reaction to the concentrated dark brown sludge than ran off my balcony and down the front of her white painted house....oops

    -dealing with equatorial sun, my house is at 10 degrees latitude and the part of the balcony that won't drip run-off water on the landlady gets scorching sun. I guess that is the down-side to the 12 moth growing season

    -finding good seeds. I thought I was being oh-so clever by saving seeds from grocery store vegetables until the pumpkin plant developed some sort of mosaic virus and the second set of bell pepper seeds all spontaneously died. I'm sure that there is a store that sells seeds somewhere around here, but it certainly is not easy to find.

    Its quite sobering realising how difficult it is to produce even a tiny fraction of one's food. I am really glad that food is still delivered in nice diesel powered trucks to the neighborhood grocery stores. If anyone wishes to see my mini-beginners garden here is a link: http://s237.photobucket.com/albums/ff34/synchroGENized/Garden%20and%20Ki... (warning! it is very puny)


    Here's a great article on making self-watering containers: http://www.seattleoil.com/Flyers/Earthbox.pdf It shows how to make them from a variety of containers including 5 gallon pails. You might also want to look at the Earthbox web site because they have a number of bulletins with information. The pdf above has to relationship to "Earthbox" the company.

    I also have the book Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers by Edward C. Smith, ISBN 978-1-58017-556-2 It has some good ideas but I'm not sure it was worth $20.

    This article shows using zip-ties to hold things together. I used a glue gun. It's easier and much faster.

    For planting "soil" the suggestion is to use "planting mix" not "planting soil". Smith in the above book uses compost and makes his own growing mix.


    Edit a couple of things.

    Thanks for the link todd, it seems chock full of info. Unfortunately, the situation in Venezuela today, and maybe in other parts of the world in the future, is that those 5 gallon buckets don't come cheap. And the big rubbermaid containers even less so. I think I could easily blow my whole grocery budget for a month and barely have enough planters to keep me in tomatoes. So I'm trying to extend my network and see what I can scrounge up.

    As for potting medium, it come in two varieties in my local nursery: "hay" (in stock) and "no hay" (there's none in stock) so when I want to plant something I go to the nursery and ask the guy if there is any ("hay?") and if the truck has delivered lately he shovels some into a bag for me. If the truck hasn't delivered ("no hay") my plant dies, or gets potted in whatever medium I can scrounge up, and the nursery's plants die, or get potted in whatever they have hoarded in the back.

    When my Venezuelan co-workers get to go to an event in the US they do whatever is necessary to go to wallmart, where they run around like kids on a sugar high. (Loooook everybody!!! there's a jumbo pack of 6 cotton panties for $5.99!!! They're real cotton! I can't beleive it! And oh my!!! look at how cheap the spatulas are I'm going to buy 4! 2 for me 1 for my mother and one for my mother in-law! And lets get some cans of Tuna!!!)

    @Synchro, I don't know a thing about Venezuela (although I was in Cartegena once, next country over).

    What I've personally done is scrounge up a bunch of scrap Trex decking that was leftovers from my neighbor's install that went in several years ago. I then used the decking pieces to build a bunch of planters and used silicone sealant for all the seams. They've worked flawlessly for every year since then, especially for my peppers and tomatoes. One problem where I live (decidedly FAR from the equator) is short and cold summers. The Trex material apparently has good thermal mass, so it keeps the plants warmer, which they like better here. Now that I've typed this, I'm guessing you want things cooler? Have you considered styrofoam boxes with something wrapped around them (or simply put inside wooden boxes)?

    As I have been replacing rotted redwood 2x6's on our deck, I have been building planters out of the old ones.
    Most of the wood is plenty good enough for that, and it's free.

    A note about redwood planter boxes:

    Although redwood lasts quite a while, it does eventually rot. To prolong them either nail the non-tab side of a composition shingle where the soil would contact the board or give it/them a couple of really good coats of a product such as Termin-8 which is copper napthenate so there is no health issue. The Termin-8 is usually used to coat the ends of treated lumber where it is sawed.

    FWIW, I have a number of redwood raised beds. I used 2x12s and after about 20+ years, they are not in good shape.


    5 gallon buckets, tried your local painters, laundries, bus workshops, bakers, restaurants?


    You would be amazed at the number of food items that come in 5-gallon buckets if you go into a restaurant wholesaler. Those things usually get pitched - if you ask the guys in the kitchen they might save them for you.

    Paint buckets get pretty yucked up with paint - they can be cleaned (the paint doesn't stick very well), but it is a bit tedious.

    The thrift store here in town carries various 5 gallon buckets for right around $1 a piece. They have been cleaned, so I guess its a decent deal.

    I'd love to try a hydroponic grow setup, but hate thinking about buying special nutrient mixes.

    If you have an issue such as Dengue or Malaria you may want to consider hitting from all ways including nets and smokes. The pellets are good in places that are not so easy to screen that still collect water eg pools that sit for a few days before draining away. Overflows and vents may also be treated by stuffing with stainless steel pan scourers.


    EDIT: If using insecticides always check with your local health department as to which ones are recommended against the mosquitoes in your area. We had a big scandal a few years ago where the Jefe of the anti Dengue purchased cheap insecticide from one of his relatives instead of the more expensive recommended one. The one purchased had no effect on mosquitoes. They are both doing a lot of time.

    A news report on Algae based oil production: http://www.pbs.org/nbr/site/onair/transcripts/algae_alternative_energy_s...

    The interesting thing that stood out was that this process does not need fresh water - they can work with salt water apparently.

    For two years, Sapphire has been nurturing algae year round at 20 acres of ponds in Las Cruces. Once the algae matures in ponds, it's separated from water by a centrifuge, creating a thick algae paste. And that paste gets fed into this test plant extractor that uses green solvents to crack open the algae cells and release oil. The result is green crude, but is it cost-effective? Right now, algae oil costs roughly $7 per gallon or $300 a barrel. But Sapphire will open a new 300-acre test plant in 2012 -- the largest in the nation. By producing one million gallons per year, they predict the price will drop.

    Brackish water grows algae too. The oil is $300 a bbl, but it looked like oil to me. How they get to $80 a bbl is the story, however.

    Looking at the video, one sees that the Sapphire system appears to be based on a "race track" pond as the means of solar energy collection. The earlier work by the DOE in the 1990's found that with this type of system, when exposed to the environment, the carefully cultured strains of algae quickly become overwhelmed by naturally occurring algae and thus production falters. One wonders whether using a greenhouse to cover the ponds would solve this problem, but the extra expense of the greenhouse makes the whole idea much more expensive. The other problem with algae is that they don't produce anything when the temperature falls below about 40F, thus they can't produce a product in Winter in most locations within the US. Furthermore, the "race track" design only works on relatively flat land, which further limits the possible locations. Of course, there's always the chance that these folks can overcome these problems...

    E. Swanson

    I would be more convinced if I hadn't actually seen a large-scale saltwater algae operation.

    I ran my sailboat aground on the rocks in front of their bay and they came out and rescued me. This was a routine thing for them - they had a light plane and a 40-foot power yacht sitting at their docks that the owners had given them after being rescued. The owners didn't want to see their plane or boat again.

    They had a HUGE operation, numerous 100,000 gallon tanks of algae sitting out in the bay. It was very high tech, they had their own lab and about 23 different strains of algae they grew to order. They were obviously making money because they had pictures of their ski vacations in Switzerland on the walls.

    However, they were catering to the high-end fish food and cosmetics markets. The continual rumbling of big diesel generators in the background (the island had no electricity), and the big diesel storage tanks sitting on shore suggested that this might not be a winner from an energy production standpoint unless they got huge subsidies for it - somewhat like fuel ethanol.

    Spain's desalination dreams run dry

    Finished last year, the plant is idle, however, and likely to be so for at least another 18 months. Neither the pipes to the sea nor the power transmission lines have been approved or built. Even if it does begin to process seawater, the product may be so expensive nobody wants to buy it.

    “It is absurd to make this kind of multimillion-euro investment,” says Javier Montoro, councillor for infrastructure in Torrevieja municipality. “We doubt that this water will be priced at a level at which it can be sold.”

    Sounds like the power plant that Enron built in India--no consideration to whether anyone could afford to purchase the power/water.

    Somehow the build-it-and-they-will-come meme only applies to energy companies like Enrons. When a solar/wind/renewable/EV firm makes a plan, people say the electricity/technology is too expensive and no one will buy it. Funny how projects get funding. Isn't capitalism weird in practice.

    Success depends on the business model being sound, funding depends on people with money thinking it's sound.

    Since having money doesn't make one any more smart or perceptive we get weird funding decisions.

    Exactly "Thinking" is not the same thing as "Actually".

    Perhaps this will make the situation clearer -and I lived fourteen years in Alicante and even worked in Torrevieja for some time so I kind of know what's all about.
    TINA ! As in there's no alternative. These places in the Spanish Mediterranean shores, basically from Valencia down to the South, and specially Alicante (where Torrevieja is) and Murcia lack water but they need lots of water for their economic model of Tourism, Golf and Gated Communities. So they want to transfer water from the North and Center of Spain to them, with enormous losses and great expense, ruining the other communities.
    (Until not long ago Torrevieja lived from the export of salt to Cuba and other places, in slow sail-ships. That was before the tourists arrived.)

    The socialists in government put a damper to those water transfers (because there's no water to move, basically) and decided on Water Desalination. But Spain has a "federal" system, that means that the Conservatives (with a big F -they are the children of Franco's winners, mostly) who govern on those Mediterranean lands and cities put all kind of difficulties on the way, stopping building permits, do not allow the pipes to and from the sea to be built, do not authorize the electrical pylons, and all kind of things -as the note says but does not elaborate.
    (If any British here have had dealings with the Conservative PP government in Valencia/Alicante I'm sure they can tell you some horror stories)

    Then they tear off their clothes and say that the desalination plant doesn't work and is not fit for purpose, because what they want is to rip off the water from other Spaniards -there are fortunes to be made in that for them, see.

    Torrevieja is an extremely corrupt city, same as most cities in that part of the land ruled by the Popular Party, and no, they are not communists as the name may lead you to believe, Fa***** has always being popular in Spain.
    Like Marbella, where the past three Majors are on trial accused of embezzlement; and no, they are not socialists.

    I'm not going to claim that all Spanish Socialists in the National government are absolutely honest, but it is like the difference between having your pocket picked on the bus, and being set upon by the Mafia.

    So they want to transfer water from the North and Center of Spain to them, with enormous losses and great expense, ruining the other communities.

    Gee, that sounds exactly like the southern California water supply model!

    Water politics in LA is not always high profile, but behind the scenes it might as well be the mob. There is just so much at stake when to comes to securing water supplies in a dry place that almost anything goes, even if the legality is debatable.

    The ultimate answer os for each region to be responsible for their own water - as long as they can get it from somewhere else, they avoid the problem of managing their own usage

    The ultimate answer is for each region to be responsible for their own water

    And to that end I have just taken delivery of a 650 gallon fatboy water tank: http://www.waterwalltanks.com/fatboy-650-gallon-rain-tank/

    Good to see Waterwall finally getting going on this side of the pond - I wish them well in getting people here to do what people in the rest of the world have been doing for a long time.

    Of course, in Australia, that sized tank is just a bucket - it's a case of "go big FOR your home"; with the wall style plastic tanks up to 1300 gallons, and cylindrical up to 12,000 gal. If you use corrugated metal you can have up to 60,000 gal.

    The cylindrical tanks are not as nice to to look at, but when you can store that much water, you can water lots of trellis plants to hide it - my parent's farmhouse tank has grape vines all around it, except for the top which half is clear and is the preferred sunbathing spot for the cat.

    2000 sf of metal roof (a 1700sf house) will collect 1230 gal of water from one inch of rain - a typical area with 30 inch annual rainfall can collect 37,000 gal per year - enough for a family of four if they are water efficient . More if you plumb in the carport too.

    "Water independence" is much easier to achieve than energy independence.


    Mine just feed the water for the loos, but the impact it makes on the water bill is dramatic. I'm sure it costs them more to issue the bill than they collect in fees.

    As a minimum, this should be a perquisite for all houses.

    How much sense does collecting rainwater make in California? I've been presuming that since we have a wet half (third would be more like it) year and an almost totally dry half year, that you only get to use your storage capacity once per year. In say the central and east part of the country, you can probably get fillups roughly weekly, and then use it if it hasn't rained for the few days. But, does domestic water storage make sense in your (our) climate?

    Depends upon your usage and storage capacity. Also upon where in California you mean (nobody has micro-climates like we do--wild variations in precipitation, temperature, etc. over incredibly small distances).

    If you want to collect water for moderate domestic use and have sufficient roof area and a place to put the storage tank(s), that would be practical in much of northern California (although you might spend significant money setting things up). If you want to irrigate a truck garden in San Diego County, it's probably not worth doing the calculations.

    You do realise that most of the water you are using today, in California, is "collected rainwater", right?

    The fact that you have reliable winter rains it what makes it perfect for domestic water. Where I grew up on the farm in Australia we had several year long periods of minimal rain. Mind you, we had a 25,000 gal tank and 6000 sf of roof area (house + carport+machinery shed) hooked up to it, so one inch of rain was worth 3500 gallons.

    it is indeed, as Kalliergo says, all a matter of storage, and usage, and also the price you are paying for your water.

    In an urban area, forget about drinking the water - it will be too contaminated from auto exhaust etc. But you can use it for almost everything else. A storage tank of 3000 gal might see a well kept garden (not lawn) through a whole summer of water restrictions, and if you are a gardener, then that might be worth doing.

    In Sydney, Australia, which has a similar climate to San Diego, (though slightly higher rainfall) the water authority there is pushing rainwater collection and paying up to $1500 rebates for household systems.
    From Sydney Water's website ;

    Rainwater tanks help save our drinking water and also help manage stormwater run-off.
    In urban areas NSW Health supports the use of rainwater tanks for non-drinking uses, such as flushing toilets, washing cars and clothes, watering gardens, filling swimming pools, spas and ornamental ponds, and fire fighting. Rainwater can also be used in hot water systems.

    I should add, if a town was planned from the start with rainwater storage for all houses, it can make a significant difference to the infrastructure cost for water supply and stormwater management.

    Same goes for greywater too. It has it's own challenges, but they can be managed, and it can make meaningful reductions to water supply and sewage treatment plants. Sydney is doing greywater systems too. Unlike California, it can;t pipe the water in from someone else - what they have is what they have.

    You do realise that most of the water you are using today, in California, is "collected rainwater", right?

    I'm getting at the cost difference between storing water in a reservoir, versus a small scale domestic tank. Sort of an area versus volume storage effect. I have our usage now with tier1 rates (like electricity your marginal rate goes up the more you use), so any savings would be minimal. I do use some greywater, and it should help somewhat. This near we had nearrecord rains/snows, so this year shouldn't have any restrictions.

    Most of North Orange County's water comes from a natural storage vessel--our aquifer. It is water that is collected from the Santa Ana River and diverted to large percolation ponds. During the dry season, water continues to flow down the river from inland communities that use the river to dispose of their tertiary treated effluent. That has worked well until they realized that they were throwing out a valuable commodity and should be doing what OC is doing, recycling effluent and percolating it into the aquifer. More recycling and more backyard storage would be prudent considering what's coming down the pike.

    Two articles on Egyptian gas to Israel this morning:

    Explosion rocks Egypt gas terminal near Israel

    Israel prepares for Egyptian gas halt

    Detailed background can be found at an earlier Oil Drum post:

    Egypt's Natural Gas Trends and Potential Impacts


    RE: Whither Oil Prices

    If Peak Oil is a religion, then doesn’t that suggest that opposing peak oil, otherwise known as BAU, is also a religion? Maybe that’s why the debate gets so heated at times; since that would be two competing religions?

    I should have said: Whither Gasoline Prices

    And it often seems that most of the heat comes from the BAU side.

    If peak oil is a religion, then anyone with sense is a believer. Any finite resource peaks, the only question is when. If that's a religious belief then so is gravity.

    The thing is, even if you're right on timing it will take a long time to see it, and until that evidence is so blindingly clear that there can be no denial, people will say you're a fraud. Add in the difficulty of a bumpy plateau caused by the various efforts to deal with scarcity, and it doesn't look like a pretty bell curve so those who deny reality get some extra time to boast.

    I would love to be the interviewer when people say these things - my question would be "so, do you believe in an infinite suppy of oil?"

    If that's a religious belief then so is gravity.

    This harkens back to the debate over "fair and balanced" news reporting where the latter assumes there are always two sides to each story and each side has equally valid arguments and facts.

    [ i.mage.+]

    From "It Isn't Gridcrash that Makes the Lights Go Out", up top:

    It is important to me that I keep in mind that electricity for private homes (I am not speaking here about electricity for hospitals and other public resources) is a luxury, not a necessity.

    I think most people consider electricity for their home a necessity rather than a luxury. I know I do.

    I agree. For my family home electricity is a necessity. Just not all of it. We consume a little over 1KWh per person per day.

    Cut out the luxuries like TV and reading TOD and I could bring that down a bit. Set up a couple of solar panels and I could cut out another 10%. After that, it starts getting inconvenient. Doing all our cooking and water heating by natural gas (most of our water heating is solar or gas already) would shave another 10%.

    Yep. Getting much below 700 Wh per person per day would be difficult.

    Ha! Reading TOD may not be a necessity but it is far more entertaining and informative than watching TV - great value/kWh IMO.

    Generally speaking, I think you hit the nail on the head that having some electricity available all the time is a necessity, but beyond that base amount, it is a luxury.

    Having worked in demand side management, though not the the extent of Paul in Halifax, I can say that it is very hard to get the majority of people to cut back on that luxury part - either they don't see it as a luxury, or (correctly) deem it to be an affordable one - you can buy a lot of tv watching for the price of a night out at the movies.

    Your electricity use is already impressively low - instead of your money going to solar panels for that last 10%, it would achieve much more savings getting a larger user to cut their first 10%. Of course, then you a paying for someone else to get the benefit, which is why it doesn't happen.

    For an extreme example of low electricity usage - check out how this person does it.
    She runs her whole life on 300W of solar panels and 50W micro hydro system!

    Admittedly, it may not be a life you or I would want, but just to show that it can be done, if you give up enough luxuries - and given she has a website, internet is not of the things to be sacrificed.

    Interesting Link.

    When I was much younger and couldn't rub 2 nickels together, I lived and commuted over 3 years in a small northern cabin. No insulation, water from a spring, etc. After tiring of hauling water, I set up a 55 gall fuel drum hand pump at the spring, pumped it up 30 ft vertical to a stock tank in the cabin. Pulled it from there with a bellows pitcher pump. Old homemade stove that never held a fire. And loved all the money I was saving.

    Fast forward to today, and Sharon's link. The thing I don't see mentioned often is age. Metabolism changes, and the loss of heat at this age, would be a killer. I did it as a young man, but now it's a necessity.

    Your House is too big, and most likely, very poorly insulated. Take a few steps out your front door, turn around and look. What do you really see?

    Cut down your living space and super insulate the remainder before you spend a dime on anything else. You could easily get to 250 wh per person per day. Power Down. Small is beautiful.

    The Martian.

    House too big? maybe. It is so full of other people's cast-offs saved for a rainy day that we four find it cramped.

    Poorly insulated? undoubtedly. I do what I can but the house was built in 1939 and short of very thick external insulation, and very expensive new windows there are limits to what I can do.

    A few steps outside my front door I see 50 nearly identical houses. Thick external cladding would make my house stand out as an oddball, and raise the ire of my respectable, Cambridge academic neighbours. The council might even object.

    I also see my family car, seats 5 and returns 60-70 mpg (imperial) real world when we drive it. I cycle to work and the kids cycle to school. I see solar hot water panels, I see a natural gas condensing furnace, with wood stove as a backup. I see every light a CFL. Every household appliance the most efficient I can find, and used sparingly. I see crops and chickens in the garden.

    I also see my wife and kids. My wife is more or less on board with efficiency, but still has not let go of BAU. The kids just want to have fun.

    There are always things you can do, you just need to be creative about it.

    Since UK oil and gas production peaked in 1999 and is now in steep decline, I think super-insulation would be a good investment for the future. In Canada here, super-insulation is a standard feature of houses, but I don't think Brits have accepted it yet. It is not as if the UK has a lot of alternative energy sources, so defensive energy conservation would be a good strategy.

    Personally, I have been known to rip the interior of an old house out and make the exterior walls much thicker from the inside to improve the insulation. This is probably not commonly done in the UK, but is always an option. Trust me, it works. If you are sneaky about it, the neighbors hardly notice.

    I have been known to rip the interior of an old house out and make the exterior walls much thicker from the inside to improve the insulation.

    It is too bad that many places have arcane rule governing the exterior appeareance of buildings, because if they didn't then you could insulate from the outside.

    This has the advantage of then bringing all that masonry inside the building envelope, where it becomes very useful thermal mass.
    Also, you are not giving up any interior area either.

    I had seen some study on those lego-style foam concrete forms which showed the thermal performance of the building would be better if all the foam was on the outside, so the concrete can store and re-release heat to the interior. The effect is very pronounced where you have windows/skylights for lots of passive solar gain in the daytime.

    Also works well for a passive solar-water space heating system like this one, where you can use warm (not hot) water for heating, and create a remarkably efficient system, that is ridiculously simple and cheap;


    Seeing as Ralph is from the UK it's quite likely that his house is already on the smaller size. Especially if you're comparing to US/Canada etc.


    Poorly insulated, probably. Too big, debatable.

    Plus, like he says, it can be quite tricky to get things past the council. People live so closely together over here (especially the majority, in England) that's it's very difficult not to step on your neighbour's toes etc.

    Yup, Sharon dismisses the importance of electricity a bit too casually I think.

    Refrigeration is the big one, as I see it; big, negative impact on diet once refrigeration goes away.
    Also, electric lights are known to be key to improving people's general standard of living. Why? Because the electric light makes reading (aka learning) in the evening a practical activity.

    Sharon has a farm, so perhaps doesn't need a fridge as much as most. And she's right: poor people often do live without things like fridges. (I did in college, at least part of the time.)

    I am not eager to give up electric lights, but I don't think their impact has been all positive. Yes, it means you can work at night...but is that a good thing? Time people used to spend socializing or sleeping is now spent working. Artificial light has been linked with maladies as diverse as myopia and breast cancer, though whether it's the light itself or just the screwed up biorhythms that result is unclear.

    For our home, HVAC is the largest consumer of energy, followed by the fridge, and then some other misc things.

    Central heat and AC might be relatively new concepts, but even the pioneers had wood stoves and fireplaces to keep warm in the winter..

    I know she has a farm, Leanan.
    And I know that poor people do without things like refrigeration. Poor people have notoriously poor diets, too.

    What one "learns" in the evening is a matter of choice. One can drive oneself crazy.......or not.
    I don't. And I try to never stop learning.

    How about a fridge that uses .1 kwh per day? 100 watts seems doable even with solar and batteries. I sent this link to a friend some years ago who lives off the grid with solar and batteries he scrounges from telcos. They throw away their batteries (er, I mean "recycle") while they still have a lot of life yet. He has friends that work at the central offices who are more than happy to load him up, put them in series and you have quite a few amps available. For most things he doesn't even bother with an inverter, you'd be amazed at the appliances that were designed for AC that still work fine with DC.

    I have a farm too but I would have a tough time living without refrigeration. Fresh milk spoils quickly if not refrigerated. I have a PV system and if need be I could use our root cellar as a refrigerator in the winter when PV output is lower. In the old days they often had a spring house on the farm. My grandparents had one. Way too many of us to live like that again.

    It is interesting, how food was preserved before the fossil fuel fiesta. It wasn't by canning; that takes way too much energy. Cold cellars are getting more popular among peak oilers and locavores.

    In many areas, animals were part of the answer. Milk can be made into cheese, butter, ghee, yogurt. Meat and fish can be smoked. Animals would be sacrificed during the fall/winter, so you wouldn't have to feed them during the lean part of the year and when the food they provided was needed. Alcohol and other fermented foods were also important.

    "Meat and fish can be smoked."

    And the incidence of stomach cancer dropped substantially once large scale home smoking went away. Correlation is not causation and all that, (BHA and BHT were introduced in the same time frame, and they are good antioxidants) but be careful what you wish for.

    I think it's likely that salting/pickling is linked to stomach cancer. But if the alternative is starvation or food poisoning, you take your chances.

    Please note, I am not "wishing for" the grid to go dark, and I don't think Sharon is, either. Her point is that we may not have a choice.

    We're talking about "the poor" like they're other people, nothing to do with us. Sharon is suggesting that peak oil means the poor will be us, not them.

    Recently, we TOD staffers had a discussion on the best way to preserve wealth in the age of peak oil. As an academic interest - we often discuss random things - not to hide the untold millions we make off this site. ;-) And several of us believe there is no way to preserve wealth in the economic/social/political crisis to come. Not cash, not gold, not land. Everyone is going to be poorer, even the wealthiest and smartest of us.

    Maybe that's incorrect, or won't happen in our lifetimes. But Sharon is suggesting it's worth preparing for that possibility...just in case.

    Please note, I am not "wishing for" the grid to go dark, and I don't think Sharon is, either. Her point is that we may not have a choice.

    Leanan, how we use the grid may change but I don't see the grid going away. Electricity is too important (for water, industry, etc) not to be maintained.

    In the future I expect the cost of electricity will increase at a faster rate than inflation due to pressure on fuel costs. Outage durations and outage frequency may increase some if less money is available for grid maintenance.

    I consider residential electricity availability as a necessity for refrigeration, lighting, etc. Some uses, such as televisions, are more luxuries.

    To reduce electricity usage in the 1980's declining block rates where often eliminated. Declining block rates reduce the cost per kWh after you use more kWhs. Many utilities now use a constant rate for all kWhs. This increases the cost savings for energy reductions from efficiency or other changes to reduce usage.

    Does anyone have declining block rates for their electricity? If so, what are the kWhs for each step and the kWh cost at each step?

    Leanan, how we use the grid may change but I don't see the grid going away. Electricity is too important (for water, industry, etc) not to be maintained.

    Famous last words. :-)

    However, like Sharon, I am not expecting "gridcrash." Grid shrinkage is more likely. As you say, electricity may become less reliable. That's BAU in many nations right now. People just expect outages - even have different words for planned and unplanned blackouts, or long versus short ones. People who can't afford to be on the grid may steal power by tapping into the lines, or pay a premium to charge their phones at an electricity seller.

    I could also see the grid shrinking in roughly the same way it grew, only in reverse. You sort of see how this might play out after a big hurricane or blizzard. Rich neighborhoods and high density areas get electricity back right away. Poorer and less populated areas may have to wait weeks. If no one's paying the power bill anyway, the utility company may have little incentive to make expensive repairs. People might have to choose between doing without or moving inward with the grid.

    Grid shrinkage is more likely.

    Leanan, thanks for your comments.

    Over time, more and more is expected of the electrical grid. Could it shrink? - I suppose that is a possiblity. If so one could expect it to first affect remote rural areas.
    Presently, the overall grid is not shrinking. In fact, lines are being added in the Midwest to accommodate windfarms and ethanol plants. "X" may want to chime in as to long-term viability of ethanol. I don't see the windfarms disappearing - Iowa gets 20% of its electricity from wind power.

    TVA has 90 grid lines down, including many 500KV lines. Upkeep is significant, but value is also huge. Entire cities are without power today. Distributed Solar PV is sounding better and better to me - at least your fridge of food and/or meds won't spoil while you await repairs.

    To fix this degree of damage, crews will need to pulled from several states away -- the entire south is probably busy with their own problems. Rarely do major outages last as long as originally feared, but some regions could be down for days, and that means everybody will be low on food, gas, and perishables of every sort even though trucks still run. Fortunately most of those states have anti-gouging laws to prevent any entrepreneurs from helping to alleviate shortages, so we'll get a better view of what powering down might look like.

    Yair...In rural areas of Australia the rainwater from house roofs of even fair sized towns was always seen as a potable supply...less so these days with city folks wanting reticulated water when they move out to our towns.

    Non the less lots of people like their "rainwater" for the kettle and have a seperate tap over the sink from the house tank so they don't have use "town water" for their tea or coffee.

    During the drytimes a few years back peoples tanks were empty and even the reticulated supply was under pressure. In fact several towns ran out and water was trucked or railed in to maintain a minimum level in the resivour .

    In response to this I believe at least one town has now installed a system where subsidised two and a half thousand gallon house tanks are kept at minimum levels from the mains.

    That is to say:- supply to the tank is through a three eighth pipe controlled by a valve that is set to maintain the tank at about twenty per cent capacity.

    The householder was issued with a pressure and pump and a subsidy to have it fitted. In effect, if it rains and keeps the tank full the house uses no reticulated water and they can use as much water as they want...on the other hand if it gets dry they can't waste water on the garden because the tank will soon run dry.

    Obviously there is a cost saving for the authority as the mains can be much smaller for any given street.

    I see no reason that in a planned community the same system could be used for power.

    If each dwelling had a couple of Kw. of PV and some battery storage it should be possible to keep the community batteries topped up with a much smaller distribution system than exists at present.

    In other words power is only taken from the grid when the battery voltage drops to a predetermined value. With sensible utilization of the PV the costs for power should be minimal. Battery life would be enhanced as a side benifit of the system....the cost of power from the grid should be such that folks monitor their usage.

    Yeah, yeah, I realise that everyones batteries will be down in cloudy weather but folks learn to adapt if they have to and that trickle charge is running 24/7 if needed...I don't have the pay grade to do the calculation.

    Does that make sense or am I missing something here?


    Do you know which town that was with the tank system?

    While such a system can save water, and on the size of reservoirs/wellfields and (maybe) the treatment plant, it will not (normally) save on the size of the pipes - these are set by requirements for fire hydrant flows.

    In effect, the tanks are now the (free) baseload, and the town supply is the peaking supplier.

    There are increased costs at the house, but these could be offset by reduced costs at the supply end, if planned in from the start.

    You could certainly do the same with electricity, but the cost equation may not be favourable.
    A couple of kW on each roof, plus batteries and inverters, is a lot of $.
    You won't get to downsize the transmission or distribution lines to any real extent as they have to be able to handle the loads when the sun ain't shining, unless everyone is willing to accept mandatory load limiting.

    This would only be worth doing if the grid power was really expensive and/or unreliable, though in places like far western NSW, it already is. I think you are in Queensland, and it may well be the same there, though Qld is weird in many ways...

    Yair...Paul. I appreciate your comments. The load limiting would need to be mandatory. We are talking about a completely different outlook and obviously it is just a thought exercise on my part...cooking for the most part would need to be bottled gas or wood. .

    People are accepting mandatory requirments. Some councils are requiring a plumbed swimming pool or a dedicated twenty thousand litre tank and diesel or gasoline powered pump for firefighting in some areas

    I believe the town with the water system is in NSW possibly Young and I have heard that Murgon or Gayndah in the South Burnett (Qld) are considering/have a similar scheme.

    To change the subject slightly. I know it has been mentioned before but can some one tell me why a light weight gen.set on a trailer could not be used as a range extender for a car such as the Leaf.

    What I realy want is a basic electric car, some thing like a Minimoke with a compliant suspension and high pressure skinny motorcycle style wheels...no one seems to be looking at no frills "go to town to get the groceries" old codgers transportation.

    I want the same mini-electric that you do, Scrub..

    but mostly, mfrs won't sell something that's such a big step 'down' from a Real Car, not for some time, I'd say. It's for the Homebrewers and Bike-builders as yet. (Like the Wright Bros?)

    Hi Scrub,

    No, it is not Young for the water thing- that is my family's town and I know there is not such a scheme there. it is a good idea though.
    it would not be too hard to integrate it just for toilet + laundry use.

    As for load limiting electricity, it really is not that hard,any off gridder lives with that. The problem is, would homeowners be accepting of the limitiations? When it comes to selling your home, this may be seen as a negative.

    And to realise the infrastructure savings, the load limits MUST be maintained, at least, during the peak load times of day. There are programmable load governing systems that can do this - you select the order of loads that get turned off first to last.

    I think that as long as everyone can see the tangible benefits, they would be OK with it. Problem is, if the town is doing well, and people can easily afford more power, they will start to want it - the load creep is hard to stop of course, if the only way they can meet that load creep is to upsize their PV panels/inverter etc at their own cost, then they will think twice about it!

    AS for the range extender and the electric car, that can and has been done - no reason why it can't be widespread. IF it was done properly, one type of trailer could hook up to ANY EV - would be an ideal thing for U-haul and other rental places to get into.

    From the website; (http://www.evnut.com/rav_longranger.htm)

    .The Long Ranger was an AC Propulsion project (commissioned by Toyota) to build a generator trailer that would allow liquid-fueled high-speed travel in the Rav4EV. There were many obstacles to this project seeing the light of day - most of them bureaucratic. For most practical purposes, the project was a great success that never really saw the light of day before the Rav4EV program was terminated. A 500cc motorcycle engine is used, housed in a small, aerodynamic package. ~20kW DC output is sufficient for extended high-speed travel. The micro trailer incorporates intelligent "BackTracker" steering which automatically maintains trailer-to-vehicle alignment during backing to avoid jack-knifing. There is little question that this 350 pound trailer functioned as planned - sustaining freeways speeds for as long as the 9.5 gallon tank had gasoline. Amazingly, even with all the conversion losses added up, the gas mileage of this combo is comparable or BETTER than the pure gasoline version of the same vehicle.

    Yair...thanks for comments fellers. The depth of knowledge at this site truly is amazing...ask and you will be told.

    Paul. I may be catching up next week with the fellow who told me about the water system...it sort of seemed doable when he told me. At least some one is thinking outside the square a bit.

    I will keep you posted.


    Huh? Reticulated:
    1. netted; covered with a network.
    2. netlike.
    3. Botany. having the veins or nerves disposed like the threads of a net.

    Hmmm... a new form of polywater? Nah, doesn't compute. Have another go:
    Reticulated water.
    1. Reticulated water is an Australian term referring to the piped-water network (as opposed to well water)

    LOL. Once again, separated by a common language...

    Yep, you guys (Americans) need to keep up with progress in language!

    Strictly speaking, reticulation is the piping network, even if the source is a well. Farms that have a piped network to/from wells and/or dams to stock water troughs are advertised as having "water reticulation".

    I have no idea why Australia uses the term and no one else - it really sounds something like a maneuver performed by amorous couples.

    Yair...I had not a clue that "reticulation" would be a problem...LOL...that was a good start for the day!

    I've suggested over the years that people get a copy of Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With(almost) No Money, by Dolly Freed. It's a wonderful read with lots of solid information. I got my copy as a free download years and years ago but it is now available as a regular book. Mother Earth News sells it but I don't know about Amazon.

    There were also some You Tubes of Dolly as she currently lives.


    Way too many of us to live like that again.

    And that, interestingly, could be why there will be so many fewer of us in the years to come. At least IMHO.


    Yes, probably too few of us for the highly-complex energy solutions so many are pursuing.

    If we (as a species) are lucky, maybe we'll be able to maintain sufficient organization to allow some specialization--carpenters, tinkers, maybe boilermakers. If any hedge fund managers or integrated circuit designers survive, they'll need to retrain.

    If we're not lucky, well... we've had plenty of opportunity to see what's coming and prepare to cushion the landing. We'll have only ourselves (and our stubborn, now maladaptive, DNA) to blame.

    If we do things right, we will have some electrical power, sufficient for mass transit and refrigeration of foods... not much more than that with the present population load, however. Food will be a bigger problem, though. In a few lucky countries, probably including Canada and perhaps some part of the US, populations may be sustainable near present levels, and least for a while. Our diets will be less varied, and more dependent on local produce.

    My advice to my grandchildren is, "learn a trade."


    Also, "learn to barter!"



    And, of course,


    I don't have any insight as to keeping cool in the future. Limited power means little or no a/c. Fans are a likely option. I once visited a water powered cider mill that had ceiling fans running right off the power intake. Neat! And, even an electric fan could be solar powered (or wind), so you might not be cool, but you could learn to live with it.


    If any hedge fund managers or integrated circuit designers survive, they'll need to retrain.

    Agree on the hedge fund managers, but semiconductors will still be worth doing.
    LEDs are way more efficient than candles, integrated circuits are way more efficient than vacuum tubes.
    Electronic communication is way more efficient than going there (even if you ride a bike) or even sending a letter.

    Really high-value uses like semiconductor fabrication will co-locate with hydroelectric plants if the grid becomes too unreliable.

    We need the best of the old AND the best of the new.

    ...but but but, no Internet?

    (banshee howl of grief and outrage!)



    I think there are essentials that electricity can provide, but we can also pull many of the heaviest draws away from Grid Power. Cooking, Refrigeration and Water Heating can all largely be done with Solar. A lot of lighting used in the daytime could be eliminated with Daylight grabbing Architectural Changes and some with simpler Gizmos (Light Tubes, Heliostats, etc)

    But in the meantime, electricity can also step into the void as a lifesaver, given the wide range of applications it can perform.

    Very flexible, portable and powerful.. and generally clean and safe..

    Not quite sure that cooking and refrigeration can largely be done with solar - can you buy a solar powered fridge ? (one that powered by solar PV and batteries does not count, as that is an electric fridge with solar electricity) . As for solar cooking in a northern winter when you are at your place of employment for all the daylight hours - only a slow cooker and a Sheffler reflector could pull that off - and many homeowners and all condo/apt dwellers don;t have that option - or any solar options, really.

    Agree absolutely about daylight in buildings- it has to be one of the most under used resources there is. The potential for places like Home Depot and similar one floor stores to reduce lighting with daylight is huge, but none of them do it (and H.D even sells skylights!). Of course, stores like HD aren;t that sustainable in the first place, but that's a different story altogether.

    I also would not rate electricity as being very portable either - good in every way but that.

    "The potential for places like Home Depot and similar one floor stores to reduce lighting with daylight is huge, but none of them do it (and H.D even sells skylights!)."

    Well, not quite none... Go into a WalMart built in the last few years on a partly cloudy day and watch for a while. When the sun comes out, all the lights will go off. As it gets cloudier, more and more lights will turn on and then brighten. You can see this happen in just a couple minutes.

    Daylight Harvesting

    Many Wal-Mart stores and distribution centers around the world include a daylight harvesting system, which integrates skylights that dim or turn off interior electric lighting in response to the amount of daylight available. By using dimmable T-8 fluorescent lamps, electronic continuous dimming ballasts and computercontrolled daylight sensors with approximately one skylight per every 1,000 square feet, we can take full advantage of natural light when available... Each daylight harvesting system is estimated to save an average of 800,000 kWh per year...


    i am glad to hear that they are on the case. I don;t go to Wal-Mart and there hasn't been a new Wal-Mart built near me for years - in fact the people within the City of Vancouver (not the greater V. area) have managed to prevent even a single Wal Mart being built. City of 600,000 people and not one W.M - probably the largest city in N. America to not have one - and happy of it.

    Anyway, WM is actually very out there on managing their utility costs so good for them - I'd like to see a few more places go the same way.

    I was involved in several public area lighting projects where we set up similar systems - not that difficult if being done in conjunction with a lighting retrofit, and always good paybacks.

    Hi Paul
    Well, perhaps I should have said 'Frequently' instead of 'largely'. (Like the SNL skit that wrapped up with 'Ahh, You just can't look for too long at a Nuclear Explosion!')

    Solar Cooking could be applied to a great number of meals, even here in the North, but I'm not imagining one could lean on it exclusively or even predominantly for many.

    Fridges? Adsolutely! I don't know that they're on the market, but adsorption fridges are known quantities, and not a complex technology, and they leave room for a storage component. I'm talking about what's feasible, not what's already on the shelves, however.

    As for portable electricity- similarly, I'm not saying for ALL it's uses at every scale, but for where we do use electricity portably, Portable Radios, Computers, Cordless Tools, Electric Fences, etc.. the service we get from them out in the field is often not reasonably replaced by any other kind of power, and this can be expanded greatly when cheap gas is truly gone and we start actually trying to get rid of the most wasteful practices.


    Hi Bob,

    Well, the absorption fridges have their own issues - they are relatively high maintenance (the RV ammonia ones) and they like a fairly constant and high temperature input. You would need to have hot water, not just warm, to make it work.

    These guys at MIT are trying some new things, but it will take years...

    I do agree about the small portability of electricity, the plethora of cordless everything is a good example, though that wasn't what I was thinking of.. I actually have a 1200W inverter+50Ah portable power pack, which is amazingly useful. runs the fridge in a power outage, runs corded power tools like a circular saw etc - very handy.

    For transport we still have some work to do. i think the work, is to convince people to drive smaller vehicles less far, rather than wait for better batteries, but I seem to be out on a limb on that one.

    Progress report here. Last year I went thru 5 generations of solar hot water widgets (a hobby-- l am surrounded by junk scraped up from wastrels in town so I can do almost anything I think up right away with stuff I drag out of the pile)

    each solar heater was better than the last, but more complex. I finally ended up with a swimming pool heater wrapped in bubble wrap. Worked just fine, and when winter came i just rolled it up and stored it for next spring, and got my hot water from the coil in the wood stove.

    Next spring is now. I could roll out the pool heater + bubble, but am hesitating since I since have found that a very small dedicated water heater does great. I just scoop up several handfuls of sweet gum/sycamore balls, of which I have countless numbers, stuff them into the firebox, strike a match and walk off. In an amazingly short time, I have two showers and a laundry worth of very hot water. Rain or shine.

    So then I go to thinking about Sharon's comment on electricity. Sure, I remember getting along on nearly none, but why bother?

    I could go the gum ball route. Make a gasifier, put the gumball gas into any old crummy IC engine+ water pump, pump water up the hill from the pond, and then have electricity on demand from a water turbine.

    Yes of course, I realize not everybody is so lucky as to in a vast forest of gumballs, nor do they have as lovely a junk pile as I do, not to mention the pond and the hill.

    But why not? Too many people, that's why.

    Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, everything is hotsy-totsy.

    Ethylene glycol works as the hot-side heat transfer fluid from the solar collector to an ammonia-cycle refrigerator: anti-freeze.

    Using Heat to Cool Buildings
    "Novel materials could make practical air conditioners and refrigerators that use little or no electricity."
    "...an engineered material made by creating nanoscopic structures that self-assemble into complex three-dimensional shapes."

    Betcha it'sa Metal Organic Framework (MOF):

    I had remembered it as, "You can't put too much water in a nuclear reactor." Had forgotten Ed Asner was in it. Great sketch. All too close to reality today.

    And we do a lot of solar cooking - love it!

    LEDs are surely more energy-efficient than any other way of producing light, especially in small amounts.

    Candles are probably among the least efficient, and most wax comes from petroleum.

    Almost all lights [incandescent,CFL,LED, etc.] list Lumen's per Watt.

    That is the light efficiency.

    The cost efficiency, to me, would be US dollars per Lumens/Watt ...per light source, with a pinch of salt on the expected lifetime of the light source.

    So, I have both CFLs and LED lights in my house. I use a permanent marker to write the date I installed them.

    One T8 dual tube fluorescent light with electronic ballast in my kitchen was installed 2003, still running the original tubes, for example.

    CFLs have done lousy in my bathroom, due to short on time and high frequency of on/off. They have all burned out prematurely in that bathroom. Therefore that bathroom is my candidate for LEDs, since LEDs have no filament to burn out.

    Right now I have two 80 lumen 2.5watt LED lights acting as front and rear porch lights. They are doing great, but just installed them this year.

    LEDs are surely more energy-efficient than any other way of producing light, especially in small amounts.

    Candles are probably among the least efficient, and most wax comes from petroleum.

    If we give up refrigeration, we may need to spend a lot more energy getting food from wherever (every day instead of maybe once a week), and there would be a lot more food lost to spoilage.

    OK. I have 300W of PV on my boat in Malaysia. Two refer/ freezer systems at 12v cost less than $1000 each, 3 hours sunlight total, watermaker 8 gallons/hr for 1/2 hour sunlite, 14 halogen bulbs average 1 hour total sunlite. 12v EEE computer via wireless broadband total 1/2 hour sunlight. Plenty of excess power for inverter/ microwave, ham radio,autopilot, radar,fans, etc

    Most people think I have it pretty luxurious. Another 200 watts of PV gets me a small A/C unit. You folks are way over consuming power. When I go to LEDs, I can get satellite TV system for 4 hours viewing.

    300 W is plenty. Just lose the huge 110v refer and A/C. Please don't tell me you have to have A/C. I live in 95% humidity and is 94 F in the shade here, 102 miles north of the equator. And yes it often gets to 100F and 100 % humidity.

    Sure old folks need A/C but we lived in Galveston long before A/C.

    I'm not exactly living in privation here. Malay fisherman just gave me a 8 pound tuna. Chilling for sushi party tonite.


    Transcripts from the April 2011 Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation team hearings have been posted.

    Still no video since last October.

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 22, 2011

    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending April 22, 27 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 82.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.8 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 9.3 million barrels per day last week, up by 1.2 million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, 724 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 just under 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 121 thousand barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 6.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 363.1 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 2.5 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels last week.

    Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 19.3 million barrels per day, up by 3.3 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day, down by 1.6 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 7.3 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 4.4 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

    Forecasters predict multiple US hurricane landfalls

    MIAMI — Several powerful storms will likely strike the US mainland this hurricane season, especially in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico region, a prominent weather forecaster said.

    WSI forecasters "expect a much more impactful season along the US coastline," he said in a statement. The US Gulf Coast is especially threatened this hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30. The Gulf and Caribbean sea surface temperatures "are particularly warm this year, and we expect more development in these regions and less in the eastern tropical Atlantic.

    The 2011 forecasts by WSI, a member of The Weather Channel Companies, are similar to those ahead of the 2008 season, when Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav, and Ike struck Louisiana and Texas in the US Gulf Coast

    But with so much spare capacity around, a little disruption in the Gulf of Mexico shouldn't be a problem.

    KSA has spare up ro 20 million bbl/day. I saw that number on a blog somewhere ;-) They'll pump when the price is fair.

    According to zFacts.com, today the National debt is over $14.557 trillion. At this rate of growth, the National debt will cross the $15 trillion threshold around August 7, 2011. By years end, $15.5 trillion will be passed. Inflation is increasing daily, and if oil and food inflation is not counted, 80% of the Country will be without the means to deal with it effectively. QE2 is just adding fire to the inflation candle which benefits Wall Street and the Government for awhile, but quickens the reckoning down the road. We are spending effectively $2 trillion to get $400 billion of GDP growth and a few jobs, fools gold for sure.

    QE2 is just adding fire to the inflation candle which benefits Wall Street and the Government for awhile, but quickens the reckoning down the road.

    newman1979, that is my thought as well. Based on the level of inflation occuring, I am surprised the Fed does not end QE2 now.

    "Based on the level of inflation occuring, I am surprised the Fed does not end QE2 now."

    What do they know?

    The Fed downplayed inflation risks. It acknowledged a spike in oil prices, but concluded the pickup in inflation will be temporary.
    "Inflation has picked up in recent months, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable and measures of underlying inflation are still subdued," the Fed statement said.


    I am surprised the Fed does not end QE2 now.

    What do they know?

    What they know is that hyperinflation is the only way out now. Hyperinflation to make Weimar Germany look like a cakewalk. When 20 trillion dollar bills is worth the same as 20 dollar bills are now, the debt problem is gone, poof.

    Brace yourself.

    I tend to agree with Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth on this issue. That is that hyperinflation is not simply inflation writ large, but a total loss of faith in the monetary system by the public; a different animal altogether. Not to say it can't happen here. It may even be likely.

    Governments historically have inflated their way out of debts, and ours is simply trying to do the same thing while it tries to conceal the process. The luxury of having the US dollar as the global reserve currency has helped immensely to do this.

    What I disagree with Stoneleigh about is the probability of the US dollar collapsing. I think she may underestimate the chance of a US debt default, which would almost certainly cause a dollar collapse. This would bring inflation home with a vengeance.

    she may underestimate the chance of a US debt default

    I worry greatly that "we" (USA) are already in a Soviet-style empire collapse.

    The sinking feeling comes from watching "financial" pundits yapping away on various talking head TV shows.

    I already forget where I saw the last one (probably on C-SPAM Wash Journal) explaining that "jobs' magically spawn through a process of spontaneous combustion out of the "private sector" and government can't/shouldn't do anything to help the process along.

    (one more link here)

    The Fed is lagging other central banks in tightening financial conditions.

    The out-of-step U.S. monetary policy has undercut the dollar, which slid to a three-year low against a broad basket of currencies on Wednesday.

    How many of the benefits Bernanke is trying to achieve with monetary policy are being offset by the weaker dollar?

    The weaker dollar is whole point of the entire monstrous exercise. The amount of money the government owes doesn't change, but the dollars become worthless. Paying back creditors with dollars that are worthless is a relatively pain-free for the government to get out of debt.

    What it does to the rest of us, they don't care a whit.

    But inflation is not purely caused by monetary policy. Crude oil prices seem to help imho.

    How many of the benefits Bernanke is trying to achieve with monetary policy are being offset by the weaker dollar?

    Precisely! On CNBC Kudlow Report this afternoon they were strongly questioning Bernanke's comments today and his lack of concern for the dollars continuing tumble. None of the guests could see how the current trends of the dollar losing value while Gold/silver reach historic highs can end well. If interest rates need to go up to fight inflation, the economy may settle into stagflation. That's where I think we are heading, sooner or later.

    @Newman1979: "Inflation is increasing daily"

    Inflation over the past couple of years has been at very, very low levels, most recently at around 1% (http://www.bls.gov/cpi/). As everyone on TOD should be aware, the higher prices of oil and other commodities we have been seeing are not due to QE2 or any other central bank activity, but to supply and demand--and most prices are just not going up.

    @Colburn, that link should say: www.BS.gov/cpi, because the cpi index is complete BS! Not only do they constantly fudge the numbers like climate scientists on crack, they bow to their political masters so the numbers can go up or down by several percent depending on who they have to please and why. When prices of one item go up, they "substitute" other prices so for instance if beef goes up and pork not so much they substitute pork, too bad if you're Jewish or Muslim I guess. Not sure what they're substituting for high priced gasoline right now, maybe imaginary bus tickets?

    "...inflation is a monetary phenomenon, not a price phenomenon. Prices go up because inflation is happening, not the other way around."

    In other words, don't blame the monetary policy for weakening the dollar and causing you to have to wheelbarrow more of them to the store to buy goods and services, blame those evil capitalists, they're the culprits! And don't forget to vote for the same politicians who led you into this mess next election cycle, they are ONLY taking care of you because clearly you are too stupid to take care of yourself. Sheeple will be sheeple after all. :)

    @wardsmith: "...inflation is a monetary phenomenon, not a price phenomenon. Prices go up because inflation is happening, not the other way around."

    Yes, inflation proper is a monetary phenomenon, but there are times when prices go up for other reasons, and this is one of those times. When there is inflation, prices go up because of inflation. But there are times when prices go up for other reasons, and those price rises are NOT properly called "inflation." The rise in oil prices over the past several years, as everyone on TOD should know, is NOT a monetary phenomenon, and is is not inflation per se. These high oil prices are because oil is getting more expensive, not because the dollar is getting cheaper. No matter what Ben Bernanke decides to do--unless he crashes the whole economy with the tight money policies some inflation hawks seem to be calling for--he is not going to bring oil prices down.

    One of the things to keep in mind is that inflation the way it is usually measured is the change in the price level of a basket of goods/services over a year (or, alternatively, annualized). If a basket of goods goes doubles in say a year the inflation during that year is 100%. If the basket then stays at that level for the next year the inflation is zero. Yet prices have doubled from your baseline. Stated inflation numbers have a one year baseline but the human experience can often be quite different.


    OK, keep that in mind, but also keep in mind that inflation has been very low for many years now. True, commodity prices have gone up, but that is because oil and other commodities are worth more, not because the dollar is worth less. There is very, very low inflation this year, and there has been relatively low inflation for many years now.

    "True, commodity prices have gone up, but that is because oil and other commodities are worth more, not because the dollar is worth less."

    Since people in fact need to buy food and fuel, even if those are not in the fictional "core" basket, that's a distinction without a difference. Call it the stuff being "worth more" (compared to what? dollars), or call it the dollar being "worth less" (compared to what? stuff), the outcome is precisely the same. Less stuff for the same dollar income. (Since commodities aren't the whole market basket, the relation is of course not 1:1. But it remains that a given dollar income is buying less and less.)

    And the "low" inflation includes lots and lots of shenanigans such as those I was chatting about at the bike shop the other day. Seems one of the owner's colleagues had just gotten his annual call on behalf of the BLS polling the price of a particular model. They had the usual conversation about that model having once been a decent one make in Britain, and now being junk made in China. The caller's bosses, of course, didn't care or want to know; just wanted the price. Plenty of other nonsense too, such as when we're told (in effect) that HDTV has reduced inflation because the price has come down out of the stratosphere, but the actual "content" is ever more restricted to the utter rubbish called "reality", and loaded with ever more commercials, none of which requires high definition, or, really, any definition at all. And never mind medical premiums going up 10% a year. Or the magically ever-shrinking packages at the grocery store.

    Is it any wonder that hardly anyone believes The Bernank when he claims inflation is well under control?

    My point was geared more towards the consequence of HOW inflation is calculated:
    It is the change in price over a year. The consequence of that is that something goes up a lot during the first period you’ll register a large price increase, but it is stays at that (high level) the reported price increase is zero. So stated inflation can be low, but the “un” wealth effect can last way more than a year.


    Yeah, the un-wealth effect is forever, because in the real world you don't get true deflation (overall price level actually going down) any more, except maybe on the most transitory basis.

    If interest rates were normalized, I could understand some wiggle room on inflation. But we are at 0% interest rates for a long time and that, friend, is abnormal to all historical evidence. The interest rate today is a gift to the rich, Federal debt, and Wall Street. In Mississippi, I saw a report that energy costs represent 13% of an average income. Energy costs, according to the IEA report above are to remain high. It is naive and disingenuous to put a opinion of a uninformed and partisan central banker ahead of serious and highly trained impartial experts at the IEA. John William's SGS.com clearly and analytically demonstrates the tricks the Federal Government use to understate inflation.

    The April 25 Drumbeat discussion of speculation and speculators was clear and sensible. As persuasive as it was, I'm troubled by my takeaway from The Big Short, which was how imaginative people can be when they're working hard to maximize their personal incomes. That debacle was done entirely with paper transactions having extremely tenuous connections (or nearly no connection, really) to underlying assets.

    Is the oil market really immune to such shenanigans?

    The Big Short has many things going for and against it (I recommend reading the Amazonian comments below the book for an idea). Yes traders are smart and imaginative. No it isn't the same because the whole premise of the CDO market was that entities were trying to purchase INVESTMENT GRADE (ie "Safe") vehicles, which were indeed dished up for them like so much SOS (everyone with military background knows what this means). The market would never have gotten so large without the AAA imprimatur. Unfortunately as we know now, that rating was completely bogus. What the rating DID accomplish was to allow massive mutual funds (and banks) holding trillions of dollars to follow their "safe" investment criteria and put vast sums into these pools.

    How is this different than the oil market? Well, if you read the prospectus of your mutual fund (and banks) you will discover that they can NOT put money in those kind of 'investments' (far too risky). Therefore the kind of monetary volume cannot exist to sway the oil market to that extent. Now if we were to put on our conspiracy hat (where's tinfoilhatguy anyway?_) we could imagine that some deep pocketed GOVERNMENT could pull something off, if they were willing to risk the country's treasury and probable hanging or beheading that would follow making any mistake.

    Hedge funds, endowment funds, pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, etc. can put a few percentage of their total trillions into commodities derivatives or derivatives squared.

    There is no shortage of money to play in the commodities market, particularly since you don't actually pony up the price of the commodity, only the price of the option.

    @Merrill, re your list. Only hedge funds can "play" in the commodities market, and as I alluded to above, a very brave sovereign wealth fund manager. The others wouldn't be able to put more than a fraction of a percent towards commodities, unless it was specifically a part of their investment criteria. The downside to option only bets is you have no asset for your money.

    If enough people are interested I (or preferably someone else) could do a post explaining the whole concept of puts, calls, shorts, naked puts etc.

    Negative Correlation between Stock and Futures Returns: An Unexploited Hedging Opportunity?

    During the early 2000s many pension and endowment funds posted high excess returns because they shifted funds out of traditional equities and bonds and into commodity derivatives. The justification for doing so rested on a belief that a passive long position in commodity futures could be used to hedge equity risk (or, equivalently, business cycle risk). Commodity futures index funds were a relatively insignificant part of the portfolios until 2002 or 2003. By then, both American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and Goldman Sachs were aggressively marketing commodity futures index funds. By June 2008, the notional value of these funds encompassed about a third of all commodity futures. Although the total commodity funds index traded on organized exchanges grew to around $260 billion, the notional amounts of commodity futures traded over the counter (OTC) reached about $13 trillion (the gross market value, a better measure of funds at risk, grew to around $2.13 trillion), exceeding the amount of equity futures traded. Although the notional amounts were driven by commodity prices tripling over the period 2003 to 2008, the rate of increase in trading grew by 25-fold. Of course, these funds resulted in huge losses for the long positions when commodity prices began to fall in July 2008, just 2-1/2 months before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the troubles at AIG and other large banks.1
    These long-only positions were sold to pension funds (including the Federal Employee Retirement System and the California Public Employee Retirement Systems), university endowment funds, and other institutional investors as an asset class that was meant to hedge business cycle (equity) risk and inflation (bond) risk. Greer (2000) makes a case for using unleveraged passive investments in commodity index funds as an asset class. He argues that this asset class is underused. Analyzing commodity futures return data from 1970 to 1999, he draws the following conclusions:
     Total return from an unleveraged commodity index is positive, on average, and comparable in magnitude
    and volatility to equity returns.
     Commodity index returns are negatively correlated with stocks and bonds.
     Commodity index returns are positively correlated with in‡ation.
     Commodity index returns are more positively correlated with changes in the rate of inflation.
     Commodity prices are not highly correlated with each other.

    Well we know how that negative correlation worked out don't we?
    The biggest loss recorded — the $477 billion decline in revenues earned by the pension funds and other social insurance trust funds — had little immediate impact on state budgets. [because the federal gov't "granted" them $477B - WS] But its effects are likely to be felt for years.

    I'm not a broker nor do I play one on TV, but with a handle like Merrill, I'll guess you're at least passingly familiar with the game. I focused on entities that have actual investment criteria. Hedge funds are upfront in their prospectuses about how they invest (gamble) and may not even divulge their criteria, I'm not so sure about pension funds, but it is possible they strayed a bit from their modus operandi. But after reading your link, their conclusion is the negative correlation didn't exist (as apparently it didn't given the massive losses the pension funds experienced, much higher than the mutual funds). Bottom line, someone is contending that these folks are "playing" in the oil futures market in a big way and I'm still contending that is contrary to published investment criteria so is unlikely to be happening at any great volume - egghead economist papers notwithstanding. As I stated above, the only way a fund could meet its investment criteria would be if the underlying securities were (as it turned out erroneously) rated AA or above. I do believe there were CDO based vehicles that had that rating and were sold by Goldman and others. There will be lawsuits about them and Goldman will lose.

    The negative correlation between stock and future returns documented by Gorton and Rouwenhorst (2006)
    is widely perceived as a potential hedging opportunity for investors. In this short paper, we establish that such a negative correlation can easily arise in equilibrium. We illustrate this point using a version of the Lucas (1982) two-country asset-pricing model. In a full risk-sharing equilibrium, the model shows that the correlation between equity and oil futures returns stems from the variance and covariance properties of
    apples and oil. The central point is that the sign of the correlation depends on the covariance properties
    of the forcing processes. Thus, a negative correlation should not necessarily be misconstrued as a hedging
    opportunity. Useful extensions of our paper include the addition of money to explore the use of commodity
    futures to hedge inflation and the introduction of oil as a factor of production in order to map the model
    more closely to the data.

    "Merrill" is not, and never has been, associated in any way with "Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith".


    The amount of money involved in the oil futures market is really not the issue as I see it. The issue is how these 'side bets' can affect the price at which actual crude is traded between producers and consumers. It's hard for me to understand how a futures market, without taking any physical crude off the market, or adding physical crude to the market, can affect the price of actual crude.

    I've heard people allude to the seeming fact that the so-called fundamentals don't seem to be operating as crude prices climb. But isn't this evidence of the fact that crude prices are 'set at the margin' as the phrase goes? If there are buyers wanting only a few more barrels than available by sellers, the price is not going to rise in a nice orderly, linear fashion. It will jump in completely non-linear fashion until demand gets 'killed.'

    Can anyone explain how the details work of the price of physical crude getting affected by the actions of speculators?

    how the details work of the price of physical crude getting affected by the actions of speculators

    I'm completely non-professional in this matter and therefore ignorant, so I can't claim to explain it with any authority. Nevertheless, I cautiously observe that I can't imagine a seller agreeing to write a contract now for a buyer who says "I need actual crude delivered in July but I'll only pay 80% of the July futures price because I think that price is jacked up by speculation." Can you imagine that?

    I am also ignorant and non-professional in this matter. However, I simply have questions that I've not seen answered to my satisfaction. It seems that when buyers and sellers get together on a price, it is both a matter of negotiation and finally boils down to 'what the market will bear.' A buyer is free to refuse to pay a price that is perceived as too high, but only if this being 'free' accords with the buyer's employer and their willingness to pay the prices. Likewise, a seller is free to set whatever price and does so according to desire to sell, etc. etc. I believe, in economics, this process is called 'price discovery.'

    Long story short, crude is sold at the price the market will bear.

    The way most financial players get commodity exposure is through commodity futures/options. The net of that exposure (all longs plus all shorts) through the system is zero, both in exposure as well as profit and loss because every future bought is sold by somebody else and the same goes for options – you can’t buy an option unless somebody else is willing to sell it.
    Whenever people talk about how “speculators” make so much money I always wonder about the other speculators who are at the other side of the trade and who are losing that exact amount of money.
    Very few crude contracts (WTI) are physically settled (and Brent can't be settled physically unless you jump through some very technical and burdensome hoops) – something in the one quarter of one percent range (thanks Darwinian for the math) so to think that financial players can influence physical prices seems somewhat of a stretch.
    Same thing, though on a somewhat longer timescale for physical speculators. If you rent a couple of VLCCs and fill them with crude you may drive up the price somewhat. But when you unload those tankers a couple of months later it stands to reason that you depress the price somewhat by the same amount. So it all nets out to something close to zero.


    The 2008 bubble burst with the failure of one Tulsa company, which was only about $2 billion long if my memory is correct. Not zero, but not much. Subsequent price decline was dramatic.

    Has something happened that prevents 2008-type speculation from happening today?

    If I recall correctly Semgroup was involved in physical as well as financial trading and J. Aron (Goldman’s Sack’s, commodity division) was on the other side of the trade. J. Aron supposedly owed Semgroup a bunch of money but refused to pay...

    Although any individual person/entity who has a futures contract is exposed to gains/losses the system as a whole cannot have any gain/losses.


    Your response makes me wonder what my point was.

    I think my point was that the precipitous steep price decline had nothing to do with any sudden dramatic change in supply or demand for actual crude, nor did $147/bbl reflect an underlying supply/demand crunch. Can't the same situation occur today?

    I don’t have a crystal ball or even perfect 20/20 hindsight but I think that when oil was running up to the 140’s there probably was a real supply/demand imbalance (at a price of course). To perfectly understand what happened one would have to know all the individual player’s situations and motives as well as their interactions.
    A couple of months ago I looked at the actual number of transactions at 25 cents within the peak. If I recall correctly something like 80 contracts or so changed hands – very few. What that tells me is that only very few people actually had something at stake at that level. In other words, it was an interesting spectacle to watch but the actual economic consequences (of that particular last 25 cent move at least) were quite limited.
    What I see this time is that the rate at which crude is moving up now is much more sedate and many more people have something actually at stake. The longer a price is at a certain level the more people have some kind of an economic interest at that level. The good thing about more gradual moves, especially when a price is sustained for a while, is that it lowers the volatility which therefore may make it more interesting for the people who hunt and develop for oil to execute.
    So yes, I think there is a good chance that things are a bit different this time. Now, if Jeremy Grantham’s scenario plays out there it is quite possible that prices go down dramatically, at least for a bit. Even so, my guess that with every year that passes global consumption of oil is less and less western centric (and therefore more widely distributed) which, unless the entire global economy craps out at the same time, likely increases the minimum quantity of oil required globally.
    But hey, what do I know….




    First post on this great forum, I was wondering if an update of the following post was planned any time soon:


    I'd like to thank all the contributors and editors for this great website, I'm amazed by the quality and depth of the various posts.


    Sam did a new forecast not long ago. He did get some heat for it, considering that he has been quite off before with his forecasts. Plus, he essentially accepts the EIA stats for the alleged and supposed 'OPEC spare capacity' which we all constantly hear about but never really see the effects of.

    But even in his BAU-mild scenario, he essentially saw stagnation, which isn't good enough considering the world needs ~1.5 mb/d in new oil capacity each year. Not to mention the decline rate and depletion of 3.5 mb/d a year.

    RE: A free farm holiday if you're willing to work

    I wonder if we'll see a return to sharecropping. Yes, I know, fuel would have to get pretty expensive to justify a return to human labor on any scale. Even so, It seems like large landowners could make bank on luring the newly jobless and homeless out of the city to work a piece of land for peanuts. Literally.

    Perhaps even a government program, something on the scale of the conservation corps, but founded on the principal of "food security" for the time when supermarkets start going empty.

    The downside, of course, is entire generations of city folk born and raised too soft/lazy/stupid for a lifetime of hard physical labor. Myself included.

    Maybe Malthus was right after all...


    It seems like large landowners could make bank on luring the newly jobless and homeless out of the city to work a piece of land for peanuts. Literally.

    They already are, and have been for some time. The landowners are in southern California and the "homeless" are illegal Mexicans that are picking the strawberries and whatever else.

    Here in Canada they bring them in under a "guest worker" program, which basically allows the farmers to skirt minimum wage laws.

    A friend of mine in Australia that runs a vineyard/winery gets a crew of Cambodians to prune his 150ac of vines.

    I'm sure city folk will be happy to do a week of farm work, but they will demand a nice level of accommodation that they don;t need to provide for the Mexicans. Also, if there is any machinery involved, the liability insurance adds up fast - just another thing you don;t worry about with illegals.

    I wonder if we'll see a return to sharecropping.

    No, not sharecropping. Slavery. There are even otherwise intelligent, caring people who wholeheartedly support it. Disguised as something else, of course. Like a conservation corps.

    As you so rightly pointed out, modern humans in the developed world will not sit still for such. Gunshots before chains. I think riots and mass violence are a lot more likely than people going quietly and willingly into serfdom forever.

    The kind of thing that's going on in the middle east now can happen anywhere. All that is necessary is to replicate the conditions, and you will get the same response.

    Look what happened to blacks in the U.S. or French peasants during most of the middle ages. Neither did get out of slavery before the upper classes more or less were giving it up, but both cases had little to do with morality.

    As for Middle East, good luck with that. Britain and Northern Europe is a far cry from a place like Syria. Not only different material standards but also a different people, history and culture. Brits are not revolutionaries, nor are Danes or Swedes. We're reformers.

    There's no concept of matyrdom and most of the people in Northern Europe especially are atheists, which is not a great thing to hold as one of your core values in life if you're going to sacrifice your life for The Cause.

    This post reminds me of the hobby revolutionaries in some of the far left papers predicting a gory revolution at any time now. Same subtle bloodlust, same stubborn claims with no facts or history to back them up, same comic value.

    And there goes your universial 'this can happen everywhere' statement. No, it can't.

    and most of the people in Northern Europe especially are atheists

    And I'm a christian, wich so happens to be the ONLY reason I do not advocate eco terrorism. And I consider myself to be mainstream in that regard. So not even those of us who are not atheists have religion as a source of revolution. I could elaborate more about this but I'll save that for another day.

    Regarding slavery I maintain the statement that it is a transitionary state. In state 1 you work yourself.
    In state 2, you force someone else to work for you.
    In state 3 you set them free, let them work for them self, and return once a year to collect taxes, thus saving yourself the effort of giving out orders, monitoring its execution and punishing disobediense.
    In state 7 or something you outsource labor to China, but that is another story. Scandinavian countries where early adopters of state 3.

    Brits are not revolutionaries

    Unless of course they moved to America ;)

    claims with no facts or history to back them up

    I just love it when people look no further back in their history than the last 100 years and then make dramatic categorical statements about what their people are or aren't capable of.

    Humans have been doing this "civilization" thing for what, 10,000 years roughly? At that time scale, 200 years, or even 600, is but an eyeblink.

    Leiten, you have some history reading to do. Go back to around the year 1400. Mind you, this is after Christianity, and after the Jyske Lov, the hof, and the supreme court. Read all the way up to around 1820.

    Denmark, Sweden, and Norway invaded each other, slaughtered each other, occupied each other, rebelled against each other, and played musical chairs with their thrones. Now and then Germany and Britain got in on the act just to liven things up a little. At one point, Britain firebombed Copenhagen and confiscated the entire Danish fleet, then blockaded the entire area and did their level best to starve out the Danes and Norwegians.

    The peasants revolted against the nobility, and the nobility fought the peasantry, the middle class, and the church.

    At various times, Germany owned Sweden, Denmark owned Norway for 300 years, Germany tried to seize Denmark, Denmark went to war with Sweden twice, and Sweden plundered Denmark.

    And never forget, this is where the Vikings originated.

    A couple centuries of progressive policies is very nice and all, but it doesn't change in the slightest what people are capable of when they perceive their lives to be at stake. A 'concept of martyrdom' has nothing whatsoever to do with it, and neither does the presence or absence of atheism. What it has to do with is a sense of threat... and, I suspect, the proportion of the local population that is male and in their teens, twenties, and early thirties.

    What's that guy's name? Oh, yes, Geert Wilders. And how many seats have the far-right rabidly anti-immigrant parties been picking up in elections all over Western Europe lately? Hmmmm. Uh-huh, new laws forbidding mosques? Yup, those are reforms, all right.

    Brits, Danes and Swedes are no different than anyone else. Let them have a taste of hunger, homelessness, and freezing to death and watch what happens. I stand by my statement. It CAN happen anywhere.

    And no, I am not an anarchist, communist, or any other ist.

    awesome retort and well said. Most folks are the same as to human nature IMHO. We get lost in cultural differences and biases.

    And no, I am not an anarchist, communist, or any other ist.

    Too bad Victorian, just when I was going to call you a realist

    Denmark, Sweden, and Norway invaded each other, slaughtered each other, occupied each other, rebelled against each other, and played musical chairs with their thrones.

    Tell me about it. I live in Skåne, the southern province of Sweden neighbour of Denmark. "Spare danes" the rest of the swedes callus some times. Sweden and Denmark have had more wars between them than any other couple of nations on the planet. Even the French and the Germans have had fewer wars. Most of those wars hapened right in Skåne. I believe my home province is, second only to the Holy Land (wich have been conquered by everyone, they even had a norwegian king in Jerusalem once) the most war torn piece of land on this blue green thing called Tellus.

    So when did this end? The last few wars Sweden had was a failure. We had the russian army on our territory in the war of 1809 and then we lost Finland. War was no longer fun after that losing streak. Similarily, Denmark had lost so much that one of their kings offered to GIVE AWAY Denamark to Germany, but they didn't want it; danish was to hard to speak.
    Pretty much like when in the israeli/palestinian conflict the Sharon/Arafat couple (two ferless warriors) were replaced by Olmert/Abbas (office clerks) and we don't hear so much from that conflict any more.

    Denmark had lost so much that one of their kings offered to GIVE AWAY Denamark to Germany, but they didn't want it; danish was to hard to speak.

    LOL. He should have offered Denmark to the USA. We seem to be fond of trying to absorb nations with languages that are difficult to speak ;-)

    Wow, thanks for the history lesson guys - I always thought you Scandinavian types stopped fighting each other after Beowulf and were kinda like one big happy family!

    Maybe it's just the impression I got from meeting Scandinavian women back in my university days ;)

    Offering Denmark for free is almost as good of a deal as when Russia sold Alaska to the US for $1million.
    As for the language part I have to confess all the Germanic languages sound hard to speak to me - but I wouldn't let that stop me taking the land - or visiting it.

    As for the language part I have to confess all the Germanic languages sound hard to speak to me

    No worries. English has a lot of germanic in it. Loads of it. Any germanic language should be within reach for an english skilled student.

    I know that the following is not necessarily politically correct but I figured post it anyway
    I’ve read a number of writers/thinkers/analysts who believe that the end of slavery had more to do with a BTU arbitrage than anything else. A human can produce perhaps 3000cal/day on a sustainable basis. The input into the human in the narrow sense is food although clearly there are other inputs such as housing, clothing etc. When fossil fuels came along it became more attractive to use FF calories than human calories. A gallon of gasoline has about 31,000 calories so one gallon of gas is equivalent to a person working for 10 days – and less of a management issue.
    Additionally not all slaves were engaged in direct productive work – a number of them where either too young (and therefore a caloric sink) or were taking care of the slaves so the 10:1 ratio was likely a whole lot worse. There is a pretty reasonable case to be made the end of slavery was not a humanitarian move but that it was caused by the emergence of fossil fuels.
    Conversely this gives a sense of when the labor/FF ratio goes the other way.
    Let’s assume somebody gets paid 10 bucks/hour, working 8hrs a day so that is $80/day. Assuming the gasoline engine has a 25% efficiency he would have to work 31,000*0.25/3,000 = 2.5 days . Therefore the breakeven cost of gasoline would be 2.5*80=$200/gallon.
    When you change the hourly pay to, say $1 the breakeven would be 2.5*8*1=$20.
    It is no surprise that there real wages have been flat (at best) while oil has been going up.


    Slaves require a large amount of capital investment because they must either be purchased or bred and raised. This capital investment must be depreciated and earn a rate of return. This is in addition to the maintenance of the slave, which isn't too costly in a plantation setting where the slaves can be given plots on which to raise most of their food more or less at wholesale costs. Then there is the risk that the slave may become sick and unable to work or die, causing the loss of capital.

    In uban settings there is much less investment, risk, ongoing maintenance, etc., if the employer hires workers by the hour and has no continuing investment or expenses beyond the hourly wages.

    In effect, the slave owner "outsources" his labor to the pool of urban unemployed.

    No, not sharecropping. Slavery.

    Slavery is much too inconvenient for the potential slave owner. Exploiters of labor have found that it is more convenient to have a large population of poor, desperate people from which to draw their 'wage slaves.' The old slave owners, after all, were responsible for feeding and clothing their slaves as well as keeping them healthy enough to work. Slaves were expensive to buy and keep. The system of using up the cheap labor and throwing it away afterwords works much better.

    /dripping irony/

    "Why risk a slave to repair the roof? I'll find an Irishman!"

    We have folks coming to our farm to work for free. It is an international movement: see wwoof.org.

    Wwoofing is fantastic - one of the best ways to see the world! Recommend it to anyone.

    Calling on all Charles McKay's - did you see gasoline went up today 8.6 cents!? I've never seen it go up that much in one day. Particularly interesting in light of oil only slightly edging up. Maybe this spike in fuel price goes along with your observation that refined product inventories are historically low for this time of year.


    If you go to that link, scroll to the right to see that gasoline went up today 2.5% which would be 8.6 cents. It went from 3.36 to 3.44 However, I suppose the 2.5% was on gasoline price to start the day, which was less. But still a honking big leap for one day.

    After the initial front month jump, RBOB futures are in steep backwardation:

    This means that the market is betting that the price of gasoline will come down. Of course, if market players are shorting gasoline for June and July and the price doesn't come down by then they will be in a mad scramble to buy before the price goes up even more, further driving up the price.

    This kind of "short squeeze" is probably what drove the last jump up in crude oil from $135 to $147 in 2008.

    Some sort of economic triage will eventually take place in the US with respect to gasoline. The question is only how high gasoline will get before that happens and whether the "short squeeze" dynamic will come into play.


    Interesting stuff Jon - we'll find out soon enough if the traders are right about a decrease - I personally wouldn't bet on it happening.

    I see the futures databrowser does not yet have ethanol or methanol, but a price comparison is interesting;
    (data from methanex and CBOT)

    Gasoline = $3.10
    Ethanol $2.65/gal = $3.99 per GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) [Ethanol has 66% of the btu/gal of gasoline]
    Methanol $1.28/gal = $2.59 per GGE [methanol has 49.5% of the btu/gal of gasoline]

    Ethanol gets an excise credit of the 45c, but makes up only half the price difference.

    Also, with the standard E10 blend, we have 0.9 gal gasoline, for $2.79 plus 0.1 gal EtOH for $0.265 total of $3.055. But this is only worth 0.966gallon of gasoline, so the real price is $3.16/GGE

    So when people complain about the price of fuel, at least 6c a gallon of the increase is because of the 10% of ethanol.
    And the ethanol lobby is pushing for 15%, which would make it a 10c premium over straight gasoline.

    And a sucker who buys E85 today is paying $3.81 per GGE!

    To use M15, on the other hand, would actually decrease the price of a GGE to$3.05, and M85 would be $2.69 per GGE. And with high compression methanol engines capable of diesel like efficiency, you would go 30% further per gallon, so the effective price would be $1.88/gal!

    So are we really using the right alternative liquid fuel to gasoline?

    With natural gas coming out the ying yang, and huge stranded reserves in Alaska, perhaps it is time for another look at this fuel. I'm sure Rockman et al would be happy to see a big new market to soak up all that NG.

    Methanol may not be "cheap", but it is certainly cheaper than gasoline, and right now, it is the ONLY mass produced liquid fuel that can make that claim.

    CONS: Methanol is also extremely corrosive, and requires special materials for storage and delivery. Addition, Methanol has only 51 percent of the BTU content of gasoline by volume, which means its miles per gallon ratio is worse than Ethanol. As with ethanol, any potential increase in efficiency from methanol's high octane is negated by the need for FFV's to remain driveable on 100 percent gasoline. The lower energy content and the higher cost ratio in building methanol refineries compared to ethanol distilleries have relegated Methanol and M85 to the back seat. Moreover, producing methanol from natural gas results in a net increase of CO2, hastening global warming. Unlike ethanol production, the creating methanol liberates buried carbon that otherwise wouldn't reach the atmosphere.


    There are 10 methanol plants in the U.S. mostly using natural gas. 2 use coal. Both are none renewable fossil fuels. Methanol contains only 78% BTUs of the feedstock natural gas.


    There are now about 200 ethanol plants in the U.S.. So methanol does not have enough capacity to replace ethanol currently.


    Oil firm tax breaks must end quickly: Senator Reid:


    That's the ticket. Cut those oil subsidies, then the renewable fuel subsidies. Cutting oil subsidies would mean a rise in gas prices and explains the big jump today. Cutting ethanol subsidies will also likely result in increased prices for both gasoline and ethanol.

    Ethanol producers/corn farmers don't care about subsidies if oil/gasoline is unsubsidized. Cut away.

    Methanol is also extremely corrosive, and requires special materials for storage and delivery
    Same as for ethanol, which is only slightly less corrosive and also requires special materials for handling and storage, and the engines that use it, so no real difference there. Difference is, methanol has never claimed to be otherwise, and has never tried to get 15% blends forced onto motorists whose fuel systems were not designed to handle it.

    Methanol has only 51 percent of the BTU content of gasoline by volume, which means its miles per gallon ratio is worse than Ethanol

    That is true, the MPG is worse, but the MP$ is much better, and I think that is what is important to most people these days.

    As with ethanol, any potential increase in efficiency from methanol's high octane is negated by the need for FFV's to remain driveable on 100 percent gasoline.

    That is unfortunately true in most gasoline engines today, and illustrates why we need to give up on gasoline altogether, and use high compression engines that can use any or all of M, E, CNG, Propane and diesel.
    Also, companies like Ricardo are working on variable compression engines to maximise the benefit of the octane improvements - these engines will get even better efficiency gain on M than E.

    The lower energy content and the higher cost ratio in building methanol refineries compared to ethanol distilleries have relegated Methanol and M85 to the back seat.

    No, it is the excellent lobbying job by the ethanol industry and the corn state senators that has put ethanol way out in front. The methanol industry was, and is, nicely profitable without being a fuel, so they haven;t bothered to push it. The oil companies haven;t because they are interested in - oil. So without anyone to really champion methanol fuel, it has not gone anywhere to date.

    There are no technical barriers at all, and the energy density is just a red herring. Other than for aviation use, the energy density just doesn;t make much difference. It is still better (and safer) than that of CNG and an order of magnitude better than batteries.

    Moreover, producing methanol from natural gas results in a net increase of CO2, hastening global warming.

    Reducing CO2 doesn't seem to be a real priority for the US gov, or any other country, and certainly not the corn ethanol industry, who have shown zero desire to use their own "carbon neutral" fuel in their operations.

    There are 10 methanol plants in the U.S. mostly using natural gas.

    And almost all of the ethanol plants are also using natural gas, as are the fertiliser plants. They use large amounts just to dry out the residue material (DDG's) which you simply don;t have to do with methanol.

    So methanol does not have enough capacity to replace ethanol currently.

    Well, of course not. but then, ethanol only had a fraction of its current capacity until the mandate came in in 2005. Mandate methanol and the capacity will appear soon enough.

    Ethanol producers/corn farmers don't care about subsidies if oil/gasoline is unsubsidized. Cut away.

    I'll believe that when I see Bob Dineen of the RFA actually put that in writing. All the current propaganda from the ethanol industry says things like cutting the subsidy will cost x thousands of jobs. I have seen nothing where they have said cutting the oil subsidies at the same time will avoid these hypothetical job losses.

    Meanwhile, the ethanol industry, that says it puts America first, is exporting taxpayer subsidised ethanol, which is actually increasing the country's dependence on imported oil, not reducing it.

    Methanol is really poisonous, ethanol is not too bad--after all people drink can drink it diluted. The EROI of methanol at .78 is less than corn ethanol at 1.4 for whatever that is worth(versus cellulosic ethanol has an EROI of 4.4) and the energy density of methanol is 3/4 that of ethanol, causing more fill ups.

    I support methanol as a substitute for oil if the supply of ethanol runs out and I think that most flex-fuel vehicles can run on E85 or M85. Increasing the number of flex-fuel vehicles is crucial.

    The ethanol industry would like to sell more ethanol domestically but the 10% limit for standard engines is limiting interest. E15 would help.

    Yes methanol is poisonous, so too is benzene, toluene etc found in gasoline - people should not be in the habit of drinking their motor fuel.
    Otherwise, methanol is a safer fuel to handle than gasoline, is highly biodegradable, and has the unique feature that a methanol fire can be put out with water.

    As for EROEI, EROEI of gasoline is only 0.9 at best, and the average for N. America is probably 0.85, so methanol at 0.78, and using a non oil feedstock, is not far off.

    The EROEI of corn ethanol is indeed better, as you have sunlight input, but how much more can it be scaled up? It currently provides the equivalent of 1/40th of the US oil consumption - how much more land must be used to get it to even 1/10th?

    As for cellulosic, the EROEI of that is really academic, as no one yet has a commercial operation going, though there have been many failed attempts and billions spent.

    As for methanol, there is no need to wait for ethanol to run out - you can use them both at the same time, in the same fuel mix, - it is not an either/or situation.

    The ethanol industry can sell more domestically if they develop their market, like most other businesses do. Work with the carmakers to make more flex fuels, make them better. Wouldn't hurt to get the farmers to start using some of their own ethanol as fuel also - big market there. Forcing people to use E15 in vehicles that were not designed for it is not the answer.

    "As for EROEI, EROEI of gasoline is only 0.9 at best, and the average for N. America is probably 0.85..."

    WTF? Please explain how the EROEI of gasoline is only 0.9 at best. That's a new one on me.

    Well, in the context that we are talking about here, it is the amount of fuel energy produced, divided by the amount of fuel energy in the feedstocks.

    So, you take a million btu;s of NG and produce 780,000 of methanol.

    With corn, you take a million btu;s of all inputs (incl NG for nitrogen fertiliser) and end up with about 1.4m of fuel

    With gasoline, you take a barrel of crude and refine it (with some additional inputs of NG and electricity), and you end up with 90% of your energy back in products.

    Actually, the real number for the US industry is 90.6% according to this 2010 study (page 3);

    But, add in the energy being used for upgrading oilsands heavy oil to synthetic crude, and a few other things like that, and I think 85% is reasonable.

    If you consider the feedstock for "free", as in finding the oil in the ground, and only consider the energy used in the processing, then it is a different story, and the EROEI is 6-10:1. And so to for methanol, since the NG is "found", the EROEI would be 5:1, and for corn ethanol, where the sunshine is "found" is still at 1.4.

    Of course, when you burn these fuels in your car engine, at about 20% efficiency, your EROEI is then going to be one fifth of whatever the fuel was!

    Electricity from coal has an EROEI of about 0.3, nuclear about 0.25. Solar - well, no one can agree on that...

    EROEI is highly dependent on where you draw the boundaries, but you have to be consistent with the alternatives you are comparing.

    I am extremely familiar with the concept of EROEI, having taught college classes on energy. Your calculation of the EROEI for gasoline is simply wrong - though it is one loved by advocates of bio-fuels.

    As you mentioned, the EROEI for gasoline is part and parcel of the EROEI for petroleum. In other words, the feedstock that you're using is already way ahead of the game, energetically.

    The 0.85-0.9 figure is a fundamentally dishonest cooking of the books to make ethanol look good. For liquid fuels, where to draw the boundaries is obvious. And you end up with a liquid containing a certain amount of energy per volume - the efficiency of your engine does not figure into the EROEI of the fuel.

    For liquid fuels, where to draw the boundaries is obvious.

    What portion of the energy budgets of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration would you allocate to the cost of gasoline (or, e.g., corn ethanol) sold in the U.S.?

    Would you, for gasoline, include (some percentage of) the energy it took to "produce" ROCKMAN and his fellow petroleum geologists?

    Not that I would DARE cast any aspersions on the fine heritage of our own Mr. ROCKMAN, but it stands to reason ethanol (perhaps in the form of Southern Comfort?_) had more to do with R's "production" than gasoline. Or perhaps I misread your statement? ;)

    Yeah, maybe I wasn't clear.

    I want an appropriate portion of all of the energy embodied in ROCKMAN allocated to the gasoline (etc.) he helps to produce.

    Little question that ethanol will figure prominently in the equation, but we're gonna convert it all to solar emjoules, anyway.

    K – And all kidding aside (BTW…it was vodka…not whiskey) this has been the problem with doing the calc on oil production: the embedded energy. It’s easy to use the diesel fuel used to drill a well. Using that alone you end up with a fantastic return of energy invested. But what about the energy used to build the rig? The energy used to make the steel used to build the rig? What about the energy used to mine the iron ore used to make the steel? What about the energy used to make the mining geologist used to find the iron ore?

    Where do you draw the line? It’s easy in the oil patch: we just use $’ in/$’s out. Granted this is a floating number with respect to all the energy used in the process. I may buy my steel casing at a cost much lower than I might have paid 2 years earlier. Which costs would you use to calc energy return? Neither may be perfectly representative of the energy input to make the csg.

    As I’ve said before I don’t fault folks for trying to make such estimates. But the question remains: what's the goal (or use) of such a value? Would the govt use it to set policies? Would folks use it to make daily decisions in their lives? You already know the oil patch will never use this metric to make drilling decisions. Beyond an academic interest I don’t see much value in the effort…like is it really worth the energy used to get to the answer?

    So back to ethanol: it costs so much to make it and it sells for a price and is used to substitute for a volume of gasoline sold at a certain price. IMHO there's your metric.

    You're probably right, Rock, not of much more than academic value. I mean for those of us trying to get a handle on our global predicament, there is little that can tell the big picture more clearly and starkly than net energy. Of course, a relative few grok it, and as you point out decision makers ain't gonna use it to make policy. Unless/until, that is, we get some enlightened politicos in office, and we both know that ain't never gonna happen. Still, I find EROEI very useful for seeing the big picture - as it approaches unity, we approach Olduvai...

    Well, if you think my EROEI calculations is wrong, then I'm happy to look at what you think is right

    The 0.85-0.9 figure is a fundamentally dishonest cooking of the books to make ethanol look good.
    Argonne labs came up with 90.6% - tell them they are dishonest

    Similarly, if we are disagreeing on where to draw the boundaries for EROEI on liquid fuels, then I would say, by definition, it is not obvious. Indeed the fact that we agree that there are indeed boundaries at all means there is some decision process as to where to put them. I will maintain that being consistent in where you put them is at least as important as what the boundaries actually are.

    As for this;
    the efficiency of your engine does not figure into the EROEI of the fuel.
    Well, again that comes back to boundaries. if you stop at the fuel tank, then no, if you look at what the fuel is actually being used for, then absolutely, and that is why we use different fuels for different purposes, and in different engines.

    I'll concede that this is could be more correctly labelled efficiency rather than EROEI, but EROEI is a proxy for efficiency, and not the best one at that - depending, of course, on where you draw the boundaries...

    A society that was stuck using coal fired steam trains and cars would have a worse EROEI than one using ICE's, even one using coal gasifier ICE's. The fact is, different fuels can be used at different ewfficiencies
    You might want to ask someone in the transportation industry about that - the EROEI to them is everything.

    The reason heavy trucks and trains use diesel - you get more work per unit fuel.
    I can take an ethanol flex-fuel car and drive 30mpg on a gallon of E85. I could burn that same E85 in a (suitably equipped) diesel engined car (like a VW Jetta) and get 40mpg - my EROEI is definitely improving.

    i could go the reverse direction and use an ethanol fired steam powered car, and probably get 15mpg - same fuel, worse EROEI.

    The fact is, some fuels can be used in more efficient ways (diesel v gasoline) so you get more work per unit energy out of them - that is a very functional definition of EROEI.

    Most newer cars can handle E15 without any problem.

    E15 contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. This is generally the highest ratio of ethanol to gasoline that is possible to use in vehicles recommended by auto manufacturers to run on E10 in the U.S.,[43][44] though it is possible that many vehicles can handle higher mixtures without trouble.

    As a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which mandates an increase in renewable fuels for the transport sector, the U.S. Department of Energy began assessments for the feasibility of using intermediate ethanol blends in the existing vehicle fleet as a way to allow higher consumption of ethanol fuel.[45] The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted tests to evaluate the potential impacts of intermediate ethanol blends on legacy vehicles and other engines.[45][46] In a preliminary report released in October 2008, the NREL presented the results of the first evaluations of the effects of E10, E15 and E20 gasoline blends on tailpipe and evaporative emissions, catalyst and engine durability, vehicle driveability, engine operability, and vehicle and engine materials.[45][46] This preliminary report found that none of the vehicles displayed a malfunction indicator light as a result of the ethanol blend used; no fuel filter plugging symptoms were observed; no cold start problems were observed at 24°C (75°F) and 10°C (50°F) laboratory conditions; and as expected, all test vehicles exhibited a loss in fuel economy proportional with the lower energy density of ethanol, for example, with E20, the average reduction in fuel economy was 7.7% when compared to the miles per gallon achieved by the gasoline only (E0) test vehicles.[45]

    In March 2009 a lobbying group from the ethanol industry, Growth Energy, formally requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) to allow the ethanol content in gasoline to be increased to 15 percent from 10 percent. Organizations doing such studies included the Energy Department, the State of Minnesota, the Renewable Fuels Association, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Minnesota Center for Automotive Research, and Stockholm University in Sweden.[47]

    In October 2010 the EPA granted a waiver to allow up to 15% of ethanol blended with gasoline to be sold only for cars and light pickup trucks with a model year of 2007 or later, representing about 15% of vehicles on the U.S. roads.[48][49][50] In January 2011 the waiver was expanded to authorize use of E15 to include model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles. The EPA also decided not to grant any waiver for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver. According to the Renewable Fuels Association the E15 waivers now cover 62% of vehicles on the road in the US, and the ethanol group estimates that if all 2001 and newer cars and pickups were to use E15, the theoretical blend wall for ethanol use would be approximately 17.5 billion gallons per year. EPA is still studying if older cars can withstand a 15 percent ethanol blend.[51][52]


    IMO, all new cars should be E85 compatible.

    The fact is that the oil industry will not build infrastructure to support ethanol and Congress won't make them.

    An example of the suicidal stupidity characteristic of US decision-making.

    The newer cars are fine, but the older ones are not necessarily. if there are problems, will the ethanol industry pay for repairs? The carmakers are digging in their heels as they do not want to be on the hook for their older vehicles using a fuel they were not designed for.

    The better way to go for the ethanol industry is to grow the market for ethanol as a fuel in its own right (E85or even E100) rather than having confgress try force it on everyone, and then ask said congress for a subsidy to boot.

    IMO, all new cars should be E85 compatible
    On this I agree, all gasoline cars should be able to handle E85, M85 or any combination up to that point. I'd like to see them capable of E/M100 actually.
    Since the carmakers say it only costs $200 or so to make a car flex fuel, I don;t understand why the ethanol industry does not offer to pay that cost - seems a great way to grow the market, and better value for money than the ethanol tax credit.

    The fact is that the oil industry will not build infrastructure to support ethanol and Congress won't make them.

    True, but why should the oil industry build it - they are, after all, in the oil business? the oil industry built their own markets and distribution, as has almost every other industry, why should ethanol not do the same?
    There is nothing to stop them opening up their own E85 stations all over the place. In fact, I'll bet the oil co's have quite a few old gas stn sites they'd be happy to give away for free, if the new owner will assume the environmental liability associated with them.
    And there's an advantage right there for not mixing ethanol with gasoline - the environmental liability is almost nil.

    An example of the suicidal stupidity characteristic of US decision-making.

    So gov makes bad decisions - who knew? Given that we all know that, and have for some time, why would you base a business strategy on government decisions? The ethanol, industry should get off its butt and develop their markets themselves, like any other business does. I have never seen any other industry demand being legislated into existence. if they found ways to make people want to use their product, like other businesses do, there wouldn't be a problem. If people don;t want to use it, find out why not and solve the the issue(s), that is how normal business create repeat customers.

    The ethanol industry is like a crying spoiled kid that can't look after itself in the playground - it's time for it to stand up for itself - or go home.

    "And a sucker who buys E85 today is paying $3.81 per GGE!"

    Well, Paul, this Minnesota "sucker" buys E85 at a price that is 25% less at the pump than E10 87 octane "gasoline". That's where the deal is done, at the pump. And since my F-150 gets 25% fewer miles per gallon using E85 versus E10, I'm happily buying miles at the same price, but from my neighbor instead of some Canadian oil company.

    Now, if I could, I would combust methanol that was produced by my neighbor, but since that ain't happening, I'll keep buying E85.


    If you are buying E85 for 25%less you are still losing out on price, just. It needs to be 73% of the price of E10, or 71% of E0, to break even. I have no problem if you want to have your fuel produced by a subsidised corn farmer like X instead of those truly evil Canadian oil companies -thankfully I am not paying the 45c/gallon tax credit you/he gets.

    As for methanol, I live right next to the city where Methanex is HQ'd (Vancouver) and can't buy the stuff, except in drums, at well above the wholesale price. Though, interestingly, you don't pay road taxes on it, so it would actually be cheaper than gasoline, as long as you don't get caught - Revenue Canada takes a dim view of that sort of thing.

    I would really like to see some country adopt methanol in a big way - it obviously won't be the US or Canada, but China is making the stuff from coal and now has M10 fuel available in some areas. Works very well with diesel engines.


    25% is close enough for me.

    I recently got roped into joining my local Economic Development Commission's Ag and Renewable Energy Committee to look at uses for methanol. So far the only use being made of methanol in the midwest US seems to be for making biodiesel. Apparently it's barged up the Mississippi from the gulf coast where it is produced from nat gas for use in petrochem manufacturing.

    We have some gasifiers active in this area that produce syngas from biomass. Our local/regional economy being ag-based - we don't have much in the way of fossil fuels in this area, unless you count folks like me ha ha - we would like to think methanol from biomass might ease the pain of the coming big short.

    Any thoughts?

    Jon F.

    Hi Jon,

    There are many ways to use methanol as a stand alone fuel rather than biodiesel. The simplest is to use it to co-fuel diesel engines by injecting/vaporising methanol in the air intake. (you can also use ethanol, or a mix of both). The high performance truck racers use water/methanol injection to boost power, but you can also use it to improve fuel efficiency at normal operating ranges.
    You can also convert diesel engines to spark ignition methanol engines, and you can actually bet better efficiency than the diesel did!
    Info here;
    The papers by Brusstar and Nichols, at the bottom of that page are an excellent place to start.

    The great thing about methanol is that you can use it as an add on fuel to almost any engine, you can use it in a mix with ethanol, and if they are kept separate from gasoline, they do not need to be anhydrous - a water content of up to 30% actually improves efficiency, while making both alcohols cheaper to produce. Co fuelling also reduces NOx emissions to the point where expensive pollution control gear is not required. You can see where applications are for fleet vehicles, farm equipment etc.

    As for production, you can make methanol from biomass, though it is much easier doing it from NG of course. The issue is getting the syngas right, and biomass feedstocks tend to vary in composition. That is probably one for your committee to leave to the chem eng's who are operating the gasifiers.
    Old but good overview of use and production aspects here;

    There is an interesting new process being developed by some guys in northern Michigan for an aqueous phase production of methanol from methane - low temp, low pressure, doable at small scale - ideal for landfill gas and flare gas.

    It should also be noted that producing methanol for fuel does not need to be as pure as chemical grade methanol - in fact, normal methanol production actually contains a some small amounts of ethanol, propanol, butanol, etc, which have to be removed, at some expense. For fuel, you just leave it all in there and it makes the fuel better and cheaper to produce!

    I would suggest focussing on uses for methanol to start with - you can buy it today, but hardly anyone is using it. Get some uses happening, and then see about producing it.
    There have been lots of trials and tests done over the decades with methanol for engines. The reasons for not adopting it are almost always that it was no cheaper than oil. That is not the case today, and the price difference is likely to get greater with time. IF you can then produce it from landfill and flare gas, so much the better. To make it from solid biomass is the ultimate, but that's the endgame, not the start, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the info and advice, Paul. Got to finish a technical report tonight, but I will review what you provided. Hope to get back to you soon.


    just came across this excellent, and most up to date summary of methanol from the MIT, sponsored by the Dept of Energy;


    I think this is probably the best document to start with, it pulls together all the previous work fairly well.
    You could summarise it in a few sentences;

    1. There are no technical barriers - all the proving work has already been done
    2. methanol as a fuel has not advanced because it has not had a strong advocacy group like ethanol
    3. There is plenty of scope to produce it from NG, coal and biomass
    4. Biomass to methanol plants are twice the cost of corn ethanol plants, but half the cost of cellulosic ethanol plants (assuming c. ethanol can be made to be economical)
    5.methanol, at low blends, can be used in the same way as ethanol
    6. methanol, at high blends/straight can deliver better than diesel efficiency - without the diesel pollution gear
    7. methanol is the cheapest available liquid motor fuel today.

    On other thing they touch on, which I neglected to mention, is doing on vehicle reforming of methanol into syngas. You can use the exhaust heat to do this as methanol can be reformed at 300C and atmospheric pressure. the theoretical energy gain is 17%, they talk about reforming half and getting 5%. Add this to the 2-3% savings from eliminating diesel pollution gear, and the 2-3% advantage to start with, and your methanol engine (converted diesel) can have a thermal efficiency of about 45% compared to 35% for the diesel (and 25% for gasoline) - an outstanding result. Your $ per mile would be *half* that of gasoline, at today's prices.

    And the engine could also run on ethanol (though you can't do the reforming - ethanol needs 700C for that)

    Definitely time is right for a change - just need to give up gasoline to realise the true potential of alcohol fuels.

    Don't have much time today as I attended the EIA energy conference today in Washington DC. The presentation by the EIA's Office of Petroleum Statistics concerning the weekly and monthly oil inventory report was illuminating. The EIA was fairly straight forward about some defects in the weekly report - such as weekly oil product exports, and more surprisingly, weekly crude oil imports. Even today's report appeared to have 'adjusted' oil imports to possibly correct errors that may have occurred sometime in February.

    Anyway getting back to gasoline, Eastern US gasoline supplies fell to their lowest level since October 2008. Seasonally gasoline supplies are usually lowest about September or October, so to reach low levels in April before the summer driving season even starts is unusual.

    Eastern refiners stepped up their utilization to 62%, while a significant improvement from two weeks ago, it was still a low level, as a turnaround from winter blends to summer blends extended much longer than previously expected. That may be because refiners are trying to adjust to different grades of oil, now that supplies of oil from Libya are lost. Note that no refiner specifically admitted to that, but I have no other explanation as to why there have been so many problems.

    The huge Texas City refinery in Texas also did not yet recover from a power outage and a lightning strike, and it may take as long as until May 5 to get restarted. Late today the refinery was reported to have already fallen behind its own recovery schedule and at least a partial outage may extend past May 5.

    That may be because refiners are trying to adjust to different grades of oil, now that supplies of oil from Libya are lost.

    If that comes to pass as being true, it would also seem likely that the added cost of refining lower grades of oil will be passed on to the customer in the form of even higher fuel prices.

    Dollar tanking harder than usual.

    'Fukushima - gross miscarriage of radiation science':



    Only without the funny, and with a lot more wrong.

    Have to admire the nerve of these guys. Very sad, poor bloody animals too.


    People in North Korea surviving on grass and leaves, 'months away from mass famine'

    This is what I just read in the Swedish media. Here's the article(Google Translate works fairly well)
    The source is essentially our equivalent of BBC radio, so I think it ought to be taken seriously.

    Jimmy Carter is in the country as I write this and according to human rights NGOs, it will take months to get the food distributed across the nation even if a deal is reached now. Things look far more grim in NK than they usually are.

    Researched for hours, typitty type, thread closed!


    "I would like to hear a reasoned response from a nuclear shill to the following video:


    Apparently from my understanding of what he is saying. The hydrogen explosion set off a nuclear detonation."


    So, at 1:11 he makes a distinction between explosive rates that is not entirely correct in that the flame front in deflagration can be quite slow and no shock wave is involved. He points out a difference in #1 and #2 explosions claiming a faster flame front for #3. In fact, one can see the shock wave leaving #1 at very high speed just at the first dust at 1:27/1:28. A possible shock wave does not make itself visible in #3 at 1:50.

    Unit #1 explosion shock wave at 0:03/0:04, closer at 0:22/0:23:
    Closer view at 0:18/0:19:

    High-explosive shock wave at 0:00/0:01 looks just like:

    Unit #3 explosion real-time without dramatized sound:


    Deflagration (Lat: de + flagrare, "to burn down") is a technical term describing subsonic combustion that usually propagates through thermal conductivity (hot burning material heats the next layer of cold material and ignites it). Most "fire" found in daily life, from flames to explosions, is technically deflagration. Deflagration is different from detonation (which is supersonic and propagates through shock compression).


    These are related to the "Brisance" of the explosive system.

    The audible difference between deflagration and detonation:

    The unit 3 explosion throws much more into the air. One turn of primacord, high brisance, will drop a tree. A five pound bag of flour will drop a warehouse. Speed and size are two different things.The "smoke" may well be the powdered and fragmented building's materials
    and contents.

    At 4:35 he asserts that the fuel pool may have been empty. (This is not accommodated in the critique above "that any remaining water around the fuel rods would be instantly converted to steam".) That hydrogen collected in it. That the explosive force, from whatever contributed, was directed upward by it.

    At 6:00 and 6:39 he essentially asserts that the propagation speed in hydrogen/air can only reach the realm of deflagration, or burning. However, Hydrogen transitions from deflagration to detonation, producing a shock wave, as the level of oxidizer is varied:

    At 6:07 he asserts that the event in #1 was not an explosion of the same brisance as #3. Whereas the shock wave that defines detonation can clearly be seen leaving the site of the #1 event. It is possible that there was no visibility of a possible shock wave leaving #3.

    At 6:24 he asserts that a deflagration does not make a visible flame, a "red flash". However, deflagration describes the process in a flame. It will produce a visible flame if the participating materials produce black-body radiations that the viewing means is responsive to.

    O.K. so the guy doesn't know how to blow stuff up. He's right off the BLU-108 project:
    --> The directed force makes a much bigger mess.

    The proposal finally presented is that a hydrogen explosion assembled the rods or their oxide components into a critical mass. However, for not highly enriched oxide fuels a moderator is required to allow neutron-capture. That is one function of the water in a Boiling Water Reactor. The rods have to be arranged with the proper spacing within the moderator. The reaction is started with antimony-beryllium neutron sources.

    Prompt criticality accidents have involved highly enriched uranium or plutonium, often in liquid carriers.


    Sometimes, people nearby see a blue flash of light due to Cerenkov radiation excited within the eye's aqueous humor as particles speed through at greater than the speed of light in water... making a shock wave.

    "Tickling the dragon"

    Nuclear is way past what humans should be allowed to play with. Appropriate technology would be one where you can have sex in, on, and around it, steal pieces from it, make it with defective materials, move idiot sons into management, service and supply it with organized crime connections, play political football with it, snort it, p**s by it, dry your clothes on it, stick your gum under it, and use it to impress the chicks. All the things real people can be counted on to really do.


    Thanks for all the extra effort. Gonna take some time to follow you through the material.

    I think the world needs a complete moratorium on nuclear construction while the community of appropriate experts (under our collective supervision, of course) addresses the disasters-in-waiting at all of the insanely badly-designed, -operated and -maintained light water reactors already scattered around the planet. And deals with the spent fuel.

    After that, if they want to try to convince us that pebble beds or molten salt or *whatever* new design is safe, efficient and effective, they can arrange financing and private insurance (unlimited liability) and run prototypes through a full life-cycle or two. Depending upon the results of those demonstrations, maybe we can talk.

    Arnie Gundersen told a reporter, today, that he thinks Fukushima is a "bookend" for the nuclear era. I don't know about that. Places like China may well be in "damn the torpedoes" mode. But, in places where a moderately-informed public has a real voice? If I offered to bet that there will be no new nuclear construction in California in the next 20 years, how many would bet against me?

    "What's going on at Japan's damaged nuclear power plant?"

    This Reuters Q&A says the Tepco operators have over 87,000 tons of contaminated water stored on site. They're talking about building a filtration plant to purify the water so it can be reused for cooling.

    This may be a dumb question, but if they're going to pump the water back into the reactors and crap it up all over again anyway, why not just recirculate the water as is? So it makes the pumps radioactive. That's got to be better than dumping it into the sea. Or is there some other reason?

    Perhaps the filtration is not about radioactivity but is about goodoldtrash, debris, dirt?

    Sorry, GoodOld, I wrote before reading the article, which does indeed say the filtration is to remove radioactives.

    GoodOld: I'm not sure either,but if the impeller in the pump wears out, someone is going to have to turn wrenches to replace the pump. I wouldn't want to do that if it was highly radioactive. Could be a water quality issue, too. Heck if I know.

    The water is collecting in the facility. The water that pours through #2 reactor becomes so laden with radio-actives that people can't work around it. Salt from the sea-water used for cooling has accumulated by the tons in the reactors themselves. So, the idea is to clean the water of salt and radioactive particles so it can be both disposed of (by dumping it into the sea?) and recirculated to cool the components and flush out the salt.

    "Decontamination of radioactive water at Fukushima plant may begin in June"

    Funny how you take apart his thesis even more thoroughly than I did, and yet still come to the opposite conclusion about what it all means.

    If I were an ideologue, I would defend the resonant authority's prattlings without question. I would grow shrill and ugly. I would attack the belief systems of any opponents, the authority of their sources, and they themselves. I would continually present my theology as absolute fact and demand proof otherwise.

    One does not need to be an ideologue to have a contrary worldview.

    I do worry when I am convinced that I am on the right side of an issue and people who appear to me to be rational when discussing other topics are vehemently on the other side of the same issue, especially when I cannot understand the arguments they make to defend their position (or even that they are doing anything more to defend their side than shouting about how wrong I am).

    So far I have looked, and I am thoroughly convinced that there is greater good to be had by pursuing nuclear power than there is risk of evil from doing so.

    I suspect that certain arguments that you take as absolutely convincing are indistinct buzzing noises to me, and vice-versa.

    This is why we must continue rational discourse -- so we all can learn, and more importantly, so we all learn to re-test our base assumptions and built-in biases.

    This site is so heavily biased toward similar thinkers that any dissenting view should be welcomed enthusiastically as it is picked over professionally, but instead most comments become insults in both directions.

    Engineering does not change the trial-and-error approach of technological innovation -- it just makes the tries better and the errors more subtle or more expensively unexpected. Buying into the status quo is the only losing proposition, as things WILL change, so we must rationally embrace it.

    It is a matter of risk assessment.

    An analogy, perhaps?

    If every-time Nickola Tesla proposes transmitting energy everywhere to everyone using radio waves... the room erupts into angry and frightened, reassuring and dismissive discourse, then perhaps a safer solution should be invested in. Radio waves are invisible, diffuse, and mysterious. The harm they may or may not cause is the stuff of hot debate. There would be vested interest in minimizing the claims, available data, and liability. Every deformed child and frightened cow would be paraded as evidence... every unexplained fire. Beautiful technology, though. In the brochure, planes fly without fuel, cars move with silent efficiency and weigh nothing, and you can plug your fan into the ground when out picnicking!

    Image, Wardenclyffe:

    It was based on the coupling inherent among highly resonant systems.

    Even without abandoned lands, horrific images, and a sure knowledge of half-life, the Teslians would be at odds with those favoring wire.

    Big coil:
    Sibniie Marx generator, Siberia (techno porn)

    Except that I see half-life as a mitigator in radiation risk. It means that the risk goes away eventually.

    If you salt the land with actual salt, that's it. No termination date on chemical risks. It might wash away eventually, but so would radioactive contamination.

    It might take generations for the land at the Chernobyl reactor to become usable by humans again, but it will happen.

    To me it feels like people are treating radiation as a magical risk. There is no escape from it, the results are scary and random, and it can reach out to touch you from very far away.

    I see radiation as a natural part of the world, one that we can't see, and one that can cause great harm if overly concentrated, but omnipresent and inescapable in any event.

    So I weight the risks from radiation much lower than many other people do, especially very low level exposure that I honestly do not believe there is any harm from. It would take a rather large body of well vetted studies to change my mind on that issue, and to the best I have been able to find that work does not yet exist.


    Age of cheap fuel is over: IEA

    Some pretty frank comments from the IEA
    Audio here: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/news/audio/am/201104/20110428-am-2-oil.mp3

    Apparently this is part of a Catalyst interview on ABC1 TV tonight (Thurs Aust)

    Bahrain sentences protesters to death

    A Bahraini military court has sentenced four Shia protesters to death and three to life jail terms for the killing of two policemen during demonstrations last month, state media has reported.

    Thursday's verdicts are the first related to the uprising against the Gulf kingdom's ruling family, which begain in February.

    The seven defendants were tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of government employees, which their lawyers have denied.

    Russia to ban gasoline exports amid shortages

    Russia announced on Thursday it would not export any gasoline next month and would direct all sales to the domestic market in a bid to curb a recent shortage that saw a jump in prices.

    "In May, the (Russian energy) companies are not going to export. All volumes will be delivered to the domestic market," news agencies quoted Deputy Energy Ministry Sergei Kudryashov as saying.

    this obviously does not bode well for importers. any idea who currently uses Russian gasoline, and how much? I'm having trouble finding that information myself, but I bet many here are more savvy with their google skills.

    The usual suspects I guess. Here's the map of oil products pipelines.

    According to this article: Reuters: Russia faces fuel crisis as gasoline exports surge from yesterday:

    In the first quarter of 2011, Russia exported 2.14 million tonnes of gasoline by rail, or 40 percent more than in the same period in 2010. Around 85 percent of Russian gasoline is both exported and dispatched domestically by rail.

    In today's Washington Post:

    Are China’s high-speed trains heading off the rails?

    “In China, we will have a debt crisis — a high-speed rail debt crisis,” he said. “I think it is more serious than your subprime mortgage crisis. You can always leave a house or use it. The rail system is there. It’s a burden. You must operate the rail system, and when you operate it, the cost is very high.”

    Part of the cost problem has been that each segment of the system has been far more expensive to build than initially estimated, which many trace directly to the alleged corruption being uncovered, including a flawed bidding process.

    Perhaps Better Place will make China a better place:


    Relax. I'm sure their new nuclear reactors will be built to the highest standards.

    Thoughts and prayers this morning to all impacted over the past few days (weeks) by the insane weather in the south and midwest.

    Over at Dr. Master's blog on Weather Underground there's talk that this most recent outbreak will likely have economic impacts that would rank it up there with the top 10 costliest hurricanes in US history.

    IMHO the "natural" disaster recovery costs associated with climate change (hundreds of millions here, a billion there month after month after month) will be the thing that truly drives us over the financial cliff - but that gets almost no attention from politicians or talking heads. The very thing we've been warned about for decades regarding climate change is coming to pass... the economic costs of doing nothing are ignored while we haggle over how "bad for the economy" it will be to try to address the problem. Of course it is far too late to stop it now - we are in full on adaptation mode - wonder just how many areas of the country are going to become unlivable except for seasonal migration ?

    Dr. Masters makes the point that the temperature of the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are only some 1C above the long term average. This slight temperature rise is happening at the time the Arctic sea-ice is just at the maximum extent, so the contrast between the pole and the tropics is rather large, leading to stronger tropic to pole circulation. Also to be considered is the recent period of record high temperatures in western Texas, etc, which have added to the fuel for these storms. Whether these conditions represent the driving force for the massive number of tornadoes or not, the fact is that a 1C increase is hardly noticeable the the average man on the street. Now, what would things be like if the temperature were 2C above normal? Place your bets, ladies and gentleman, the Earth is changing...

    E. Swanson

    We are having a cold wet spring here in north Iowa. The weather usually warms up and settles down around May first, so there is hope.

    But little field work has been done. Often early bird farmers around here have corn planted by April 15th. Not this year.

    About a week ago we had 4 inches of heavy wet snow.

    It seems to me the cold air is sagging south and warm southern breezes are not strong enough to get up here. The cold air collides with the warm air over southern states causing storms and tornadoes.

    The contrast between the cold wet north and the warm dry Texas drought region is amazing.

    And now we know why Senator Reid is so keen to cut oil subsidies:


    He wants the bucks sent to Nevada for Chinese renewable energy projects. Surprise, surprise.

    In a statement Tuesday, Reid had said that “China isn't investing so heavily in clean energy just because it's good for the environment — it’s doing so because it's good for the economy. China knows clean energy creates jobs and, in reducing its reliance on oil, makes it more secure.”

    The delegation of seven Democrats and three Republicans met with Vice President Xi Jinping, widely touted as China's next leader, as well as China's foreign minister, vice premier and central bank president. The group also toured renewable energy plants in Chengdu, a city of 14 million seen as a leader in that field, Reid's office said.

    Reid said he met with leaders of several Chinese companies, including A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd., which is working with several U.S. partners to build a wind turbine manufacturing plant in the Las Vegas area that could employ about 1,000 people, the AP said.

    Reid hinted on Wednesday that deals are close to being completed for further Chinese investments in Nevada renewable energy ventures.

    The contrast between the cold wet north and the warm dry Texas drought region is amazing.

    It was a La Nina winter, which resulted in cold wet conditions in the North and warm dry conditions in the South. However, it should end by June and things will start to return to normal. See the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center for details.

    Things will return to normal if we follow the lead of our elected officials:

    It's about time someone did something about this weather!


    April is scorching in the south, not so much to the north:

    Whatever...this 40F crap in late April can end now. This is getting old. I've hit 70F+ exactly ONCE since Jan 1st.

    lol, quityerbitchin'. I've hit 60 exactly ONCE this year, you're in the banana belt! I've lost track of the number of years now we're in record cold. Climate is changing, climate has ALWAYS changed and as Darwin (not to be confused with Darwinian) says, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

    Personally I'm thinking of evolving permanent long underwear, but that's just me. ;)

    Speaking from the bluer than usual Pacific NW, The local weatherperson said it was the latest spring ever recorded, and the second coldest April ever.

    Keep in mind that the records here only go back to 1880 or so.

    Try comparing it to what's happening in Western Europe. Here, in the Netherlands, we've hit a solid 20/25 degrees C, usual summer temperatures, much higher than the 15 degrees spring temperatures normal for April.

    The very thing we've been warned about for decades regarding climate change is coming to pass... the economic costs of doing nothing are ignored while we haggle over how "bad for the economy" it will be to try to address the problem. Of course it is far too late to stop it now - we are in full on adaptation mode -

    I often wonder how many survivors of these climate change incursions were denialists but were converted in the disaster to believers. However, so far the denial of climate change is so deeply ingrained in Tornado Alley that the topic doesn't even come up in MSM discussions. None of those people that got their arses tossed across the landscape even broached the topic. Those are the kind of people that can be relied on to fight needless wars, get their entitlements in a coupon booklet via the mail so the super wealthy can have more tax cuts and take climate change events on the chin without a whimper. Their motto should be, "We just keep silently taking it, like all good Americans should. God Bless America!!!"

    Are you trying to claim that tornadoes are new to Tornado Alley? Wow. From Jeff Masters, again:

    We currently do not know how tornadoes and severe thunderstorms may be changing due to changes in the climate, nor is there hope that we will be able to do so in the foreseeable future. At this time, it does not appear that there has been an increase in violent EF4 and EF5 U.S. tornadoes in recent decades. Preliminary research using climate models suggests that we may see an increase in the number of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes over the U.S. late this century. However, this research is just beginning, and much more study is needed to confirm these findings.

    Or maybe you could donate a few bucks to the Red Cross to help your fellow man?

    Don't mess with Texas!

    Bill Nye, the harmless children’s edu-tainer known as “The Science Guy,” managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.

    As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.

    But don’t tell that to the good people of Waco, who were “visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence,” according to the Waco Tribune.

    Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College’s Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.

    But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: “God made two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”

    The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.

    At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled “We believe in God!” and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they’d always suspected.


    Nothing is as rough as the sound of people working so hard to misunderstand each other.

    It seems it was a little clumsy of Nye, honestly, not that he was 'technically' wrong, but Heck, refuting a Bible Quote out in Hardscrabble Americanaland, in order to make your case ?!

    From Bob's Rules of life,

    #14, REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE. It's not just what you say, but what you know they're going to hear.

    (paraphrased, "Wile E Coyote shouldn't try to provide 'illumination' in a dark TNT shack by lighting that match.."

    It depends on what you consider as "light." If light only refers to the visible spectrum, then, generally, speaking Nye is right. There are times, though, when the moon is capable of being a visible-light emitter, such as when a large asteroid impacts the surface, heating it to the point of radiating some light, say from subsequent lava flows. However, if light is broadened to include long wavelengths, the moon is indeed an emitter. A deity may not make the same distinctions that we mortal humans do. ;^)


    I have found an effective salve:
    Ubi Caritas
    Connie Dover

    So much energy is spent splitting apart.
    The song speaks of drawing together.

    "Happiness of immeasurable excellence,
    Through unending ages of ages, world without end."

    EIA oil prices long-term forecast

    EIA predicts crude oil will average $94.53 in 2015 if conditions stay the same as they are today.

    The forecast is based upon the assumption of preservation of current conditions, particularly, OPEC share in global oil production and global economic growth, for a long-term period.

    As the EIA forecasts, WTI oil price will average $94.53 per barrel in 2015, $108.05 per barrel in 2020, and $117.6 per barrel in 2025.

    However the EIA predicts that if OPEC states have a high economic growth rate, consuming more of their own product, then prices will average $169.12 in 2015.

    But if OPEC nations have a low growth rate, consuming less of their own product, and OPEC's share of world oil production increases then oil prices will average $54.97 in 2015.

    The EIA's prediction goes all the way out to 2035 and in the low price scenario, they would have OPEC's share of world oil production increasing to 48% from 40% today. I find it extremely odd that the EIA considers only growth of OPEC nations. They assume, I suppose, that non-OPEC growth will continue with business as usual, at about 3% per year.

    Ron P.

    EIA's recent merits on oil-price predictions can be seen in this chart.... mid 2020's between 30 and 60 mundane dollars.

    source: http://dallasfed.org/research/eclett/2008/el0805.html

    ...crude oil will average $94.53 in 2015...

    prices will average $169.12 in 2015.

    ...oil prices will average $54.97 in 2015.

    Ron P., quite a wide range (three to one). I can see how people are confused when they see these forecasts. Also, why don't they round their "forecasts" to the closest dollar?

    I would suggest a straight-line forecast for 2015. Same price as today.

    I have a dart board, would you like to try that?

    I love the price estimates down to the cent for 4-5 years out. It's like determining that the Earth was created on October 23, 4004 B.C.

    In the future, if our descendants are smarter than us, they will lump economics with alchemy and phrenology.

    Oh they're much better than that :-) According to the EIA reference case in 2035 oil is $119.45 a barrel and US crude + condensate production is 5.95 million barrels per day. In the "high oil price case" then we can expect a barrel of oil to cost $189.06 but US production will be 7.13 million barrels per day - that's an average annual production increase of 1.1% from now to 2035.

    This will probably NOT help EIA price forcasting (such as it is)

    EIA budget cuts to curb some energy data gathering

    EIA said the budget cut means it will "cancel the planned increase in resources to be applied to petroleum data quality issues."

    Initial moves including stopping preparation and publishing of the 2011 edition of the annual data release on U.S. proved oil and natural gas reserves and curtailing efforts to understand links between physical energy markets and financial trading.

    EIA will also suspend reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages, halt collecting monthly state-level data on wholesale prices for petroleum products and suspend auditing of data submitted by major oil and natural gas companies reporting on their 2010 financial performance.

    ...EIA said it will "terminate updates" to its international energy statistics, including halting preparation for the 2012 edition of the International Energy Outlook.

    We can kiss energy transparency goodbye

    Looks like we've passed Peak EIA.

    That was some time ago.

    As indicated in trends of EIA funding, I suspect that there is a reasonable chance that Peak Oil will not be visible in the rear-view mirror. This in the sense that good oil extraction data will probably not be easily available for examination with spreadsheet charts. On the Hubbert downslope, such information may be increasingly difficult to obtain, and the numbers acquired will probably be increasingly more error-prone. There may be a tantalizing glimpse of a Peak Oil trend before all the data becomes too unreliable; however, the information may not be rigorous enough to make a Peak Oil claim with strong confidence.

    When the speeding automobile of civilization flies off of the cliff and impacts the valley below, the rear-view mirrors could break.


    The Annual Energy Outlook - 2011 is out.

    Exec. Summary: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/chapter_executive_summary.cfm

    Presentation: http://www.eia.gov/neic/speeches/newell_12162010.pdf

    Some typical gems:

    "Unconventional vehicles meet over 40% of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales in 2035" ...(Horse-drawn wagons??)

    "Oil imports fall due to increased domestic production—including biofuels—and greater fuel efficiency" ...(or maybe OPEC just stops exporting??)

    Macro Thoughts From A Rail Industry Insider

    Oscar Munoz: We continue to see positive economic trends in an expanding economy, supporting profitable growth across all major markets that we serve. Looking ahead, both discussions with our customers and review of key leading indicators suggest healthy economic growth will continue throughout 2011 and beyond.

    CSX’s overall volume growth in the first quarter increased 7 percent versus the same period last year. Although the industry experienced some limited volume volatility due to weather in the first quarter, global and domestic demand is strong.

    CSX’s volume continues to grow in nearly all of our markets, led by expansion of our intermodal business; increased shipments within most of our merchandise markets, including automotive, emerging markets, and forest products; and greater demand for export coal.

    Now for some humor:


    I like the dress

    Not too keen about the bloody hat

    You should mention that ROIL= R plus OIL

    Given all the news on storm damage yesterday, and the nuclear interest in the threads, I'm surprised nobody posted that one of the US's bigger nukes is offline:

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant near Athens, Alabama "lost offsite power early Wednesday evening due to severe storms that damaged power lines in the area."

    The plant automatically shut down after losing offsite power and operators from the Tennessee Valley Authority are working to restore that supply, said the NRC, stressing the plant's "safety systems have operated as needed."

    Power is out in much of the area. Apparently the grid was damaged by the many tornadoes.

    ...the storms knocked out three transmission circuits that connect Huntsville's power grid to TVA, as well as 36 distribution circuits attached to normal substations. There are also multiple reports of power poles and power lines down and trees down on power lines. He said there is "significant damage to the system.

    Perhaps this was covered in the Fukushima threads, but why is it that nuclear plants require a feed from the grid to remain operating? Can't they feed power from the turbines into transformers and loop it back to the plant? Is it really a problem of not having anywhere to dump the power if the plant is cut off from the grid?

    You truly run into a chicken-egg conundrum if you have a massive grid failure and you are relying heavily on nuclear, don't you? If there was a massive grid failure in France and all of their nukes shut down, they would be in a world of hurt, wouldn't they, since it takes weeks or months to spool them back up?

    Can't they feed power from the turbines into transformers and loop it back to the plant?

    moabite, the turbine/generator for a power plant is not designed to run at the very low load level that exists for the plant station service needs. It would likely be damaged. Also, the turbine/generator would be unable to transition from its full output to a value less than 1% output instantaneously when the grid trips out.

    Thanks for the answer. I was on the right track for once.

    I'll take the bait and toss in my own 'Told ya so', until someone can disprove it.

    I've said at this site MANY times, that it's my strong contention that Nuclear is touted as PROVIDING baseload grid power, but in fact is conversely one of the most critical systems that simply depends ON a stable grid. It's designed and built from a perspective and context that can't imagine such instability, be it economic, political or simple grid supply, and therefore is incapable of surviving in an environment of repeated surprises. The backup systems so far might be like the Lifeboats on the Titanic and can be redoubled.. but ultimately, 'ships will still sink', and the cumulative global dangers inherent in each additional Fission failure is pushing our chromosomal margins into territories of thinner and thinner ice.

    Not a good formula for adding more reactors to.. IMO.

    From the Yahoo article above:

    "In 2010, Exxon's total taxes and duties to the U.S. government topped $9.8 billion, making the company one of the largest taxpayers in America, he writes. In the past 5 years, Exxon has paid nearly $59 billion in U.S. taxes."

    $59 Billion sounds impressive, until you realize that is on revenues over the past five years of nearly $2 TRILLION. Yes, that is Trillion with a capital 'T'.

    Let's say you are a little LLC with one employee, yourself. Wouldn't it be sweet if on revenue of $200,000 you paid a grand total of less than 3% of revenue in federal taxes? Or in this case, about $5900?

    Roll that around in your head for a few moments. Now consider that what Exxon is complaining about is an end to subsidies spread across the entire industry of $4 Billion per year. It would be like the aforementioned $200,000 entrepreneur complaining about losing a $100 subsidy.


    $59 Billion sounds impressive, until you realize that is on revenues over the past five years of nearly $2 TRILLION.

    moabite, rather than relating it to the revenues, what is their tax versus the profit?

    Oil companies "profits" are vastly understated due to the very tax breaks and subsidies being discussed, making that discussion useless.

    Read http://www.oilandgasjointventures.com/tax-benefits.html for examples.

    Ryan calls for ending oil subsidies:


    I have pointed out in the past the hypocrisy of those who rage against ethanol subsidies while oil subsidies go unmentioned. It is encouraging to see both Reid and Ryan come out against oil subsidies.

    I see this as progress. Ethanol subsidies can go if oil subsidies go.

    Ethanol subsidies can go if oil subsidies go.

    Does that include corn externality's like biocide of the land it is growing on, destruction of fossil aquifers, destruction of top soil, nitrogen dead zones in the gulf, and obesity and diabetes from its manufactured products, and a Agribusiness model that would make the Nazi death camps blush?

    Speculators are driving up the price of oil?

    Humans are driving up the price of oil.

    Greyhound and Peter Pan Establish New York Hub for Express Service, Expanding to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

    April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines today announced the companies are establishing a New York hub for their premium Express service in the Northeast by adding new routes between New York and Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Philadelphia service begins on May 4 with seven daily round trips, and Washington, D.C. and Baltimore service starts May 10 each with eight daily round trips. Fares start as low as $1, and tickets are now on sale for all three city pairs at www.mygreyhoundexpress.com. These new routes are in addition to the Express service between New York and Boston, which launched today.

    Express is a premium service that provides non-stop, direct service with a guaranteed seat for every customer. Customers ride on new, environmentally friendly buses equipped with onboard amenities such as free Wi-Fi, leather seats, extra legroom and power outlets. Express operates from dedicated gates and a private waiting area, where a guest services specialist provides an extra level of service for customers. In New York, Express customers board from Gates 60-65 in the New York Port Authority.

    Has anyone comprehended that zeolites and vacuum energy is infinite? check out this german company: http://www.zeo-tech.de (see basic technology-english flag-)

    Every one uses heat and cold -fridge/freezer- in the house at the same time. It doesnt need electricity, has litle vacuum requirement, can be operated by a small handpump. Zeolite acts as heat/cold capacitor with an energy density of 225 watt-hr/kg (better than lithium ion battery)of zeolite. Synthetic Zeolite only costs 3$/kg. There is more energy storage raw materials for zeolites in Wyoming than all of the worlds remaining oil reserves. The zeolite capacitor can also be used to enhance the efficiency of compressed air vehicles http://youtube.com/watch?v=h6jAkf0G-5g by slaving the system with vacuum, acting as a heat capacitor/exchanger. Its not all doom and gloom TODders. Think of the ingenuity of men and look past the corruption of the oil age. Of course you wont hear the puppets of Washington talking about infinite vacuum energy. The school books need rewritten. I check what is being thought at American Universities through the Ramsj bookshop. Only one chemical engineering book mentioned zeolites! And the information was wrong.........This is an infowar, not a war about oil in the MSM.........

    Adsorption isn't exactly new. And you still need power. A good adsorption HVAC unit fed by solar would be nice, though.

    Dammit, Maxwell, your demon escaped from the fridge again, and now the stove doesn't work either!

    OPEC Crude Exports Drop as Slump Nears End, Oil Movements Says

    The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut exports by 1.2 percent in the four weeks to May 14 because of a seasonal decline in demand, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

    Zeolites will save the planet :) http://youtube.com/watch?v=wpEG0ATylzo

    Well, OK. However, if this catches on, it's gonna drive the price of laundry detergent sky-high.

    Also, I'd like to see the video of the pedal-powered bulldozers mining zeolites in the open pits.

    Harnessing the power of crazy is Mark Fiore's latest:



    Innocence and beauty hath no enemy but time.

    In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth
    William Butler Yeats

    Zeolite clays may have supplied the scaffolding upon which molecules of life itself evolved:


    (while you're there... might as well...)
    ( http://plagiarist.com/poetry/1188/ )

    Call: there will be enough labor for the open pits, all those jobless oilmen

    China’s Exports Perch on Uncertain Truck System


    But the challenges that trucking pose to China’s $1.5 trillion a year in exports are still in place — and could become even greater, now that huge factories have begun relocating to poorer, inland regions to save on labor costs.

    “Our concern is that as these factories move away from the coast, the service standards won’t keep pace,” said Ken Glenn, an executive at APL, a transportation services company. “Rail and barge are even less developed.”

    Within China, thousands of small trucking companies, many of them family-owned, compete by promising low-cost delivery. Then they overload their 18-wheelers in dangerous ways, pay bribes to ward off highway inspectors and hope to eke out tiny profits.

    Now, though, with global oil prices sending the cost of fuel soaring, many truckers say they are heading toward bankruptcy.

    Some anecdotal information pertaining to the economy. In the past month, four people in my circles at Vancouver, BC, have lost their jobs. All these were fairly high level, two in government and two in private industry. Three of these were at their careers for many years. This may be just an aberration, but from a personal standpoint it does not signal a healthy economy. Also, my graduate funding continues to diminish--since about 2009, obtaining funding has been getting increasingly challenging. Many students I know are in the same boat. No apparent improvement at all in this arena (though I suspect that student loans are still readily available, a route I do not intend to take).

    I drove back from Las Vegas to Seattle on I-15, I-84, I-82 and I-90. This during Easter Weekend. Like with the summer 2008, the observed number of large recreational vehicles such as motorhomes and fifth-wheels seemed distinctly down. Parked motorhomes with "For Sale" signs appeared regularly on the drive. Light vehicle traffic, however, seemed about normal, maybe down a tad in the more remote areas. Fuel prices, generally between $3.70 and $4.00/gal, reached a high of $4.079/gal at Seattle. I took the Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver, my preferred method. The four-hour trip went without mishap. Free wireless has recently been added to the Cascades Line. I read The Oil Drum on my northward journey, among other things.


    Thanks for the update, anecdotal stories provide a good context and background for the nittier and grittier stories that we often talk about.

    Can I ask you what kind of jobs these people lost? And what kind of education did they have?
    Were they administrators and/or had a semi/humanistic education like English, literature, Political science etc or did they have a natural sciences background?

    We are definitely in the midst of a recession forming now.
    U.S. GDP growth fell from 3.1 % in 2010's Q4 to a mere 1.8 % in 2011's Q1. A recession is technically seen as two quarters of falling growth in a row. The U.S. might get above 1.8 %(if not by anything else from creative accounting) in Q2 but it will be barely so and in Q3 there will be no printing money from the Fed unless something drastic happens and there will go the cushion to prop up the economy.

    Inflation in China is now nearing 4 %, as it is in the U.S.
    Real wages are continually falling in America, as everything else goes up, directly due to higher oil prices.

    What I'm basically saying is that this makes sense in a sense since we're in the smack middle of another recession forming(according to the established definition of two quarters of falling growth after each other) barring anything extraordinary happening.

    Still, I am surprised if the people who lost the jobs you spoke about were from Canada, or were they from the U.S.?

    (As a brief note, from where I stand, the unemployment in Sweden is falling, now it's around 7.5 %, and will drop further this year, the national debt is also falling, below 39 % now. Still, we're an extremely export-dependent economy and if the world doubledips, so will Sweden)

    Pretty sure definition of a recession is 2 Qtrs of negative growth, i.e. shrinkage, not just less growth than the Qtr before. So according to 'official def', we are not yet poised to enter recession next Qtr. But the numbers are all a fiddle anyway, QE is mucking with an already screwy accounting system, and in the end, it all comes down to net energy, which is shrinking. No accounting shenanigans shall be able to offset that in the long run.

    Add ME welfare to speculation and supply/demand as drivers of oil prices:

    Social Largess Speeds Rise in Oil Prices

    PFC Energy, a leading strategy advisory firm, has come up with another reason why political developments in several OPEC countries are driving prices higher, despite Saudi Arabia’s assurances that the kingdom will boost production to make up for any gaps. In a report this week, PFC calculated that populist spending policies are contributing to the need for higher revenues from oil sales.

    “Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. (i.e. Abu Dhabi) are now seeing a rising share of total expenditures accounted for by higher government salaries, subsidies and housing allowances, and payoffs to the religious establishment,” a private report offered to the firm’s clients says. “Today’s high oil prices facilitate the financing of the expansive spending packages that [Saudi] King Abdullah has recently announced to prevent outbreaks of popular unrest within the country.”

    Paying off Wahhabi fundamentalists with our gas money? There must be a right-wing populist angle to work here.

    So many ways for complex systems to fail...

    are now seeing a rising share of total expenditures accounted for by higher government salaries, subsidies and housing allowances, and payoffs to the [religious] establishment

    Reading that, you could equally be talking about the US!