Drumbeat: May 2, 2011

Gas could top $4 nationwide this week

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After jumping more than 3 cents over the weekend, gas prices across America could top $4 a gallon this week, according to one industry analyst.

"We're going to hit $4 this week, nationally," said Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. "There's enough momentum to take us up there."

Shell to Seek U.S. Approval to Drill as Many as 10 Oil Wells Off Alaska

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), which has been blocked from developing leases it holds off Alaska’s Arctic coast, this week will ask the U.S. to approve drilling as many as 10 oil exploration wells by 2013.

Labour calls for review of gas tax rise

(Reuters) - The Labour Party said it will push for a review of a gas tax increase this week after Centrica Plc said the higher rate may force it to keep closed a field.

Airline fees: The $500 surprise

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Thinking of spending a weekend in Paris this spring? Think again.

The cost of travel to Europe has increased exponentially, mostly due to surcharges and fees which can add $500 or more to the price of round-trip airfare.

N-plant crisis impacts bond market / TEPCO bond yields soar; April debenture issues down 50% from last year

The accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has caused unrest in the corporate bond market with the yields of TEPCO bonds and those issued by other electric utility companies soaring to high levels.

The electric companies will likely face difficulties in raising funds if the yields of corporate bonds remain inflated.

Don’t Laugh At BP’s ‘Green’ Side

There is also a growing ‘green’ side to BP’s business – the lesser known BP Alternative Energy business which includes low-carbon businesses and future growth options outside oil and gas. These include biofuels, wind and solar energy, as well as demonstration projects and technology development in carbon capture and storage.

Beer Yeast Dilemma

So, you’re the “moral” beer yeast who saw doom coming, who thought, “You know, when the sugar gets scarce and the alcohol level rises to 11%, we’re done! I’m going to stop this right here. No more sugar for me!”

But all you did was drop out of the “race” and leave your share of the sugar to your cousin, who happily subdivided down unto the generations — while you shriveled up.

Let's face it: none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project

All of us in the green movement are lost before the planet's real nightmare: not too little fossil fuel – but too much.

The coming energy crunch

As the price of oil climbs higher, many officials and policymakers have been quick to say the rise is transitory. But Chris Martenson, author of “The Crash Course” tells BNN that those assurances are misplaced and that we’ve entered a new era of higher energy prices.

“Now we are getting in the period of more difficult and more expensive oil and unfortunately not quite enough to support the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to,” Martenson says.

Martenson says investors should take note and begin moving their investments from things like stocks and bonds to real assets.

“Ultimately real wealth is solid investments that we have in tangible things on the production side,” he says. “I believe the pendulum has swung very far from things into paper and pendulum is about to swing back to things again.”

Fuel shortages caused by Emarat missed payment

"The company's financial hardship situation has accelerated on account of both the large rise in crude prices so far this year and the cancellation of a planned domestic gasoline price hike, leaving the company with a much larger spread between its income and costs than initially anticipated," Sam Ciszuk, senior energy analyst at IHS, told Reuters.

High POL prices to ruin industry

LAHORE - The business community and manufacturers while blasting the government step of hiking the petroleum product prices for the second time consecutively, have said the raise will destroy the local industry and value-added export sectors. They said rapid rise in the prices of petroleum products would also increase the power generation cost in the country, and put a very negative impact on the whole industry.

Jordan Hunkers Down as Egyptian Gas Supplies Are Disrupted

Jordanians are being asked to shut off air conditioners and turn off lights when they don’t need them as the country’s main source of fuel for electric power – natural gas piped in from Egypt – has been shut off for the second time in three months.

That ’70s Energy Crisis

MY ex-husband, at 6 feet 4 inches tall and 300 pounds, looks hilarious on his bike. His truck gets 10 miles to the gallon, and he was spending $8 a day to get to his job transporting cars for an auto auctioneer. His bike would be a lot cheaper, he realized. So he parked his truck across from my house, next to my neighbor’s Subaru. She’s been taking the bus to her job as a home health care aide — she can’t afford the gas, either.

Gas prices are high here, and they’re rising about a penny a day: over the last 20 days unleaded at my local Arco rose to $4.30, from $4.04. Everyone’s suffering, and no one in a position to know better offers an explanation beyond “volatile commodity markets.”

Romney blames high prices on insufficient supply

The prospective Republican presidential contender said the Obama administration's reliance on creating green technologies and renewable energy supplies is commendable, but it has also caused price increases because of the expectation that supply of existing fuels will not increase.

He called for more oil drilling and natural gas pipelines, as well as coal production.

The Oil War at Home

Whom should we blame for high gasoline prices? The president? Oil companies? Price gougers? Protestors in the Arab Spring? People who drive Hummers?

The answer to that question is one of the first serious issues of the 2011 presidential campaign. (Sorry, Trump. Sorry, Birthers.) It's an issue that could -- and perhaps should -- become an oil war at home, politically speaking.

Iraq expects reprisals for bin Laden killing

(Reuters) - Iraq's army and police went on high alert on Monday for possible revenge attacks in one of al Qaeda's major battlegrounds after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his Pakistan hideout.

Oil infrastructure, power stations and bridges could be targets of militant attacks, security sources said, to prove bin Laden's death has not disrupted operations in Iraq, still an important arena for the Islamist group eight years after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Declare victory, wind down the war, and turn to real interests

The slaying capped almost a decade of a drifting wartime task in which security has worsened in both Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan.The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in order to make war on al Qaeda, but ended up in a fight to keep the Taliban from overrunning Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The question now is whether there is more that the United States can accomplish in Afghanistan or Pakistan. If the answer is yes, what is that more? And if it is no, is it time to wind down?

How To Get to the End of History

At the heart of this remarkable book is the idea of "getting to Denmark." By this, Fukuyama means creating stable, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, and honest societies (like Denmark). As in his "End of History" essay, Fukuyama treats this as the logical endpoint of social development, and suggests that Denmarkness requires three things: functioning states, rule of law, and accountable government.

Venezuela Comes Sixth in Gallup “Wellbeing” Survey

Beaten only by Denmark (79%), Canada (69%), Sweden (69%) and Australia (66%) and scoring the same levels of “thriving” as Finland (64%), Venezuela occupied the highest position of those countries considered to be in the “developing world” and came first out of all the Latin American nations.

Food for thought: How energy is squandered in food industry

For a nation fixated on the responsible use of resources, we're surprisingly wasteful with energy when it comes to putting food on the table.

From the diesel fuel tractors that harvest our crops, to the refrigerated trucks that transport products cross-country, to the labor-saving technology found in the home such as toasters and self-cleaning ovens, the U.S. food system is about as energy inefficient as it gets. And it's only getting worse.

A fall 2010 report by the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, ERS, called "Fuel for Food: Energy Use in the U.S. Food System," found that while energy consumption per capita fell by 1 percent between 2002 and 2007, food-related energy use grew nearly 8 percent, as the food industry relied on more energy-intensive technologies to produce more food for more people.

Shoppers should get ready to pay more at register

CINCINNATI — Households reeling from gasoline near $4 also face bigger bills for everything from changing their babies' diapers to wiping their noses to treating themselves to ice cream.

Major makers of everyday consumer products and groceries say they have to raise prices to offset soaring costs for their fuel and the materials and ingredients that go into their products.

Oil drives up Canada producer prices in March

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A sharp rise in petroleum prices boosted Canadian producer prices and sent raw material costs soaring in March from February, Statistics Canada said on Monday.

Industrial product prices were up 0.9 percent on the heels of an identical rise in February and close to the 0.8 percent increase forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

S&P Upgrade Derailed by $1.25-a-Day Paycheck: Willie Pesek

If President Benigno Aquino wonders why the Philippines isn’t shaking its junk-bond status, a visit to the local supermarket might set him straight.

There, he will find that food prices are surging and pushing growing numbers of his people into extreme poverty -- the less-than-$1.25-a-day kind. The Manila-based Asian Development Bank says as many as 64 million more Asians may suffer this fate in 2011, negating almost every other economic metric of progress.

Oil Drops Most in Two Weeks After U.S. Says Bin Laden Killed in Pakistan

Oil dropped the most in almost seven weeks in London on speculation that the killing of Osama bin Laden may ease the risk of Middle East supply disruptions.

Brent crude futures fell as much as 3.4 percent, the most since March 15, following reports that bin Laden was dead. The al-Qaeda leader, who orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, died in a firefight in Abbottabad, Pakistan, U.S. President Barack Obama said. Oil had slipped earlier on signs that cooling economic growth in China may temper fuel demand in the world’s biggest energy user.

Hedge Fund Gas Bets Climb to Three-Month High in Futures

Hedge funds increased bullish bets on natural gas to the highest level in three months on smaller- than-expected stockpile gains and speculation that reduced nuclear output will spur demand for the power-plant fuel.

The funds and other large investors increased wagers on rising prices by 38 percent in the seven days ended April 26 to the most since Jan. 25, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitments of Traders report.

Commodities Beat Financial Assets for Fifth Month in Best Streak Since ’97

Commodities beat stocks, bonds and the dollar for a fifth straight month, the longest stretch in at least 14 years, as demand for raw materials increases with expanding economies and Federal Reserve promises to boost growth.

Over a Barrel: Behind The Great Oil Price Smokescreen

Between bouts of kicking themselves for buying the SUV instead of the Prius, a lot of folks are baffled to the point of anger at the finger-pointing and doublespeak that stands in for informed explanation of what’s going on. Straight answers and clear explanations on this subject are as rare as a gallon of $2 premium.

It’s not just the price of gasoline that’s going up, of course. The price of everything that gets hauled by a truck — think food, for example — is going up as well, because of rising shipping costs.

What steps should Congress take to lower gas prices?

Surging gasoline prices have triggered another energy brawl between the White House and congressional Republicans, this time over oil-company tax breaks, as both sides try to skirt voter blame for the increasing pain at the pump. Now averaging $3.88 a gallon nationwide, gas prices have jumped 37% so far this year and have more than doubled since President Barack Obama took office. The issue could weigh heavily over the 2012 election.

What would you recommend for action by the administration and Congress?

Nate Hagens: Complaining about mosquito bites while a crocodile bites our leg

I am not an oil industry apologist, but recognize that I live in an oil-centric world, own a car, enjoy air travel and partake in the daily smorgasbord of food, services, and novelty made possible in the cheap energy age. To me, given the problems our country and government face, blaming Exxon for high gasoline prices and excessive tax subsidies is akin to complaining about a mosquito bite on your arm when a crocodile has your leg in its mouth.

The Effect of Oil Prices on Oil Drilling in the U.S.

Oil markets have changed dramatically in the past couple of decades or so. Except for a few years following the second Oil Embargo - prices got as high as $60 (in 2005 $) a barrel in 1981 - real prices have tended to be below $25 a barrel through about 1999. Conversely, 2003 prices have been higher than that - in some years quite a bit higher. Now, there are all sorts of explanations for this big change we've observed over the past few years, ranging from Peak Oil to the war in Iraq to the rise of the BRICs to market manipulation, but that's the point of this post...

Russia oil output close to post-Soviet high in April

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia produced 10.24 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in April, up 0.5 percent from 10.19 million bpd in March and short of a post-Soviet record of 10.26 million hit in October, Energy Ministry data showed on Monday.

The Russian government is working on a new tax regime to stimulate investments in new Arctic and east Siberian oil and gas deposits as the country targets to keep its oil production steady at around 10.1 million bpd during the next decade.

Saudi lifts April oil output to 8.5m bpd

DUBAI/KHOBAR: Saudi Arabia's crude oil output edged back up in April to around 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from roughly 8.3 million bpd in March as demand picks up, Saudi-based industry sources said yesterday.

The kingdom slashed output by 800,000 bpd in March, due to oversupply, oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said last month, adding that he expected production in April to be a little higher than March's level. "Production was around 8.5 (million bpd) in April and the reason we raised output is because there was higher demand," said one Saudi-based industry source, declining to comment on where demand had strengthened.

Stuart Staniford: Small Saudi Arabia Caveat

Today, I checked the IEA, which have now released the detailed tables for March, and they also show flat production of 8.62mbd in March, exactly the same as the 8.62mbd in February.

So, for whatever reason, the international agencies do not seem to be accepting the idea that Saudi Arabian production dropped sharply in March. It will be very interesting when the JODI number comes out. That is based on Saudi Arabian self reports, and it will be intriguing to see if official Saudi reports of their production bear any relationship to what the oil minister says to the press.

Saudi Electricity Awards GE $500 Million Power Plant Deal

Saudi Electricity Co., the kingdom’s largest utility, selected General Electric Co. to help expand four power plants in contracts valued at more than $500 million.

GE will supply gas-turbine technology and services for the projects, which will meet half of Saudi Electricity’s targeted increase in annual output, the U.S. company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Largest UK gas field may close due to tax row

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is considering shutting down the country's largest gas field due to Chancellor George Osborne's shock budget tax grab from North Sea operators.

North Sea taxes: The fight turns nasty

Six weeks ago, George Osborne picked a fight with gas companies. Yesterday, it escalated several notches – and is likely to turn really nasty before the end of summer. The chancellor will not emerge unscathed from this battle.

Rising gas prices not enough to stop third shift plans at GM's Flint Truck Assembly

FLINT, Michigan -- When General Motors announced it would add a third shift of production at Flint Truck Assembly in January, gas prices were barely above $3 per gallon.

In the three months since, fuel prices have spiked past $4 a gallon, but GM is betting enough people and businesses need new trucks -- gas prices be damned -- to make the move stick.

Journey to cavernous future for oil

The images of Singapore's Jurong Rock Cavernsresemble scenes from Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Although at first glance they appear to be part of an underground fantasy world, the caverns are part of a major underground 21st-century oil project.

With engineers now carrying out explosions to break away rock, the caverns are moving well beyond science fiction and becoming a science fact that will ease the shortage of space facing the oil industry in the city state.

How the U.S. tracked down bin Laden

WASHINGTON — Two years ago, when senior U.S. intelligence officials figured out where the man they thought might be hiding Osama bin Laden was living, they were astounded.

It was a $1 million complex, in an affluent neighborhood of mostly military retirees 35 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan.

Analysis: Bin Laden death gives US reason to cheer

A nation surly over rising gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment and nasty partisan politics poured into the streets to wildly cheer President Barack Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, had been killed by U.S. forces after a decade-long manhunt.

The outcome could not have come at a better time for Obama, sagging in the polls as he embarks on his re-election campaign. For now, at least, he is assured of a big political boost, something that could strengthen his hand as he heads into a big battle over federal spending with Republicans who control the House.

Despite siege, Syrians vow to keep protesting

CAIRO (AP) — The Syrian military intensified its vigorous assault on the besieged city at the center of the country's uprising Sunday as defiant residents who have been pinned down in their homes for nearly a week struggled to find food, pass along information and bury their dead.

Gulf Council’s al-Zayyani Will Return to Yemen to Broker Saleh’s Departure

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary- General Abdel Latif al-Zayyani will return to Yemen to try to salvage an agreement to end the political crisis there after President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign an accord to step down within a month in exchange for immunity, the council said.

Delegates from Yemen’s ruling and opposition parties had been scheduled to attend a signing ceremony in the Saudi capital Riyadh today. The ceremony was canceled, and Gulf officials instead met in the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss the crisis.

NATO insists Gadhafi not target of airstrikes

WASHINGTON — NATO officials insisted Sunday that an airstrike that may have killed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son was aimed at destroying a military control center, not an assassination attempt.

The war for Libya's oil

Nearly half of Libya's GDP comes from crude sales. It's just a fraction of global production but crucial to the nation's economy.

Oil Shale: A Viable Energy Source?

DENVER - Public hearings begin Tuesday in Colorado on the viability of oil shale as an energy resource. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is encouraging the U.S. to take another look at production from oil shale, but opponents of the controversial technology involved say, "Not so fast."

Poland dreams of becoming shale gas El Dorado

WARSAW (AFP) – Poland is dreaming of becoming a European shale gas El Dorado thanks to estimates of huge deposits, which if confirmed could make it an natural gas powerhouse and free it from energy dependence on Russia.

Venezuela downplays oil tax hike

Venezuela has tried to reassure foreign investors after Hugo Chavez, the country’s left-wing president, imposed a 95 per cent tax on oil revenues at prices above $100 per barrel.

Previously, companies paid a 60 per cent tax when oil prices surpassed this threshold.

But Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan oil minister, played down the impact of the change, saying that any companies investing in new developments would only pay the higher tax rates after they had recouped their original expenditure.

Venezuela's Chavez says full employment if re-elected

CARACAS (Reuters) – Addressing tens of thousands of red-clad workers at a May Day march on Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez set a goal to create more than 3 million jobs in eight years and end unemployment in the OPEC nation.

Shell sued over oil spill in Niger Delta

Royal Dutch Shell has been hit with a class-action lawsuit in London by the Bodo community of Nigeria, which suffered a "devastating" oil spill when a key pipeline burst in the summer of 2008.

Shell Tries to Calm Fears on Drilling in Alaska

SAVOONGA, Alaska — Shell Oil will present an ambitious proposal to the federal government this week, seeking permission to drill up to 10 exploratory oil wells beneath Alaska’s frigid Arctic waters.

The forbidding ice-clogged region is believed to hold vast reserves of oil, potentially enough to fuel 25 million cars for 35 years. And with production in Alaska’s North Slope in steep decline, the oil industry is eager to tap new offshore wells.

Japan's parliament passes tsunami recovery budget

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's parliament passed a $48 billion tsunami recovery budget Monday, but it will cover only a fraction of the cost of what was the most expensive disaster ever.

Japan says no limits to Tepco liability from nuclear disaster

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power should face unlimited liability for damages stemming from its crippled nuclear power plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Monday, indicating Japan's government will take a hard line against the utility in its rescue plan.

Japan plans new tsunami wall at nuclear plant

The operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant will build a wall to defend it against future tsunamis, reports said on Monday, as public confidence slipped in the government's handling of the disaster.

Life in Limbo for Japanese Near Nuclear Plant

TENEI, Japan — For seven generations, Yoshitoshi Sewa and his ancestors have tilled this farm in a gently curving valley filled with green rice paddies. But now he will not let his young grandchildren play outside their tile-roofed home for fear of an invisible and potentially long-lasting threat, radiation.

“Even if the government says it’s O.K., no one here wants to take the risk of radiation,” said Mr. Sewa, 63, whose farm sits about 40 miles west of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — well beyond the zone where residents have been told to leave or remain indoors.

Many Japanese Factories Recover After Quake

Masatomo Onishi of Kansai University, who studied the recovery after the 1995 Kobe earthquake, said that when a disaster strikes, Japanese companies tend to cooperate with one another and workers rally to the cause.

That seems to be the case at the Ricoh factory here. Even many of the Ricoh workers who lost family members to the tsunami came to work. Some whose homes were destroyed or flooded slept on blankets on the floor of a factory conference room. With gasoline scarce, many rode bicycles. And with bathrooms not working because of blocked sewer lines, employees improvised with plastic bags.

Report Urges Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel, Not Reprocessing It

Experts on nuclear power predict that Japan’s Fukushima crisis will lead to a major rethinking of how spent nuclear fuel is handled in the United States but have cast doubt on a proposed solution: reprocessing the fuel to recover plutonium and other materials for reuse.

Turmoil Intensifies Focus On Commodities

We are now inundated with analyses of when the world will run out of some essential commodity. The early 19th century scholar and early contributor to the field of economics, Thomas Malthus, famously argued that increasing populations would inevitably overtake the earth's ability to produce food. That concern has continued into modern times. Even before the oil shocks of the early 1970s pushed gasoline to the then unthinkably high price of $1.00 per gallon, petroleum has been on the verge of global depletion. As I recall, the mid-1950s forecast scheduled for the last drop to be pumped around now.

Kurt Cobb: Can dictators solve our problems?

Recently in my state under the auspices of a new law, a small, financially troubled city was the first to be completely taken over by a so-called emergency financial manager appointed by the governor. The extraordinary powers given to this manager under the law allowed him to strip all governing powers from elected officials and the boards appointed by them. This manager is now the de facto dictator of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The Electric Car Strikes Back?

Back in 2006, the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? revealed how various industry players—including petroleum companies and car manufacturers themselves—conspired to sabotage the launch of the first electric vehicles. But shortly after the film was released, its director, Chris Paine, began to hear rumblings of an electric car comeback. "I started an email correspondence with GM," recalls Paine. "I said, 'we thought you had a great car and we were upset that you killed it. But if you're going to do it right, I'm going to tell the story, since it's not often that companies change their minds on big decisions like that.'" Sure enough, a few years later the next wave of electric cars have hit the market—and Paine's sequel, Revenge of the Electric Car, tells the story of what happened. I spoke to Paine shortly after his film's Earth Day premiere.

Electric Car Boom Could Deliver a Surge in Grid Power

(gigaom.com) -- Here’s the bad news about electric vehicles: They’re going to be hell on the grid. The Utilities Telecom Council trade group reports that electric vehicles will require a 16-fold increase in power usage in the next decade, putting pressure on utilities to find out how to handle car charging as quickly as possible.

Ras al Khaimah striving to put sunlight to work

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The wealth of Abu Dhabi and the glitz of Dubai do not easily rub off on their northern neighbour Ras al Khaimah. Its leader explains it thus: no oil, scarce water and precious little gas.

"Here there is nothing," says Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah. That is why his family has relied for generations on international trade and alliances to prosper. Thus it was that a group of electronics engineers from 22 nations assembled last week in a dusty work yard under a baking sun to view the emirate's progress towards harvesting one resource it has in abundance: sunlight.

Clean energy source shows dark side in U.S. tornadoes

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The deadly tornadoes that tore across the South last week highlighted the cruel and ruthless side of wind, an energy source championed as an earth-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.

Wind industry experts say their business was largely unaffected by the worst U.S. tornado disaster since 1925, because the twisters carved their destructive path through a part of the country with almost no wind farms.

Germany launches 1st Baltic Sea offshore wind park

(Reuters) - Germany on Monday launched its first commercial-size wind power park in the Baltic Sea, adding to some small existing capacity in the North Sea, operator EnBW said.

Dutch bicycle experts push peddle power in Miami

MIAMI — Beware. The Dutch are coming, and they’re armed with a radical idea about the future of transportation that could cure obesity and global warming, stall traffic congestion, and maybe shake the very steering wheel from your hands:


Scoff if you must, but their arrival signals that Miami is getting more serious about making room for cyclists.

Australia: National taxi conference opens

The Minister for Sustainable Transport, Nick McKim, today opened the 2011 Australian Taxi Conference being held in Hobart which is discussing issues including global warming.

Mr McKim praised the industry for being proactive on global warming, peak oil and energy source constraints and working to find a way to contribute to solutions.

Report: California cities have worst air pollution in U.S.

About 154 million Americans — or more than half the U.S. population — live in areas where the air is so polluted that it is often dangerous to breathe, a new report says.

Another Side of Tilapia, the Perfect Factory Fish

Farmed tilapia is promoted as good for your health and for the environment at a time when many marine stocks have been seriously depleted. “Did you know the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week?” asks the industry Web site, abouttilapia.com. But tilapia has both nutritional and environmental drawbacks.

Radical plots: The politics of gardening

For millions of us, gardening is our regular pleasure. But there is an alternative route, through history and across landscape, away from practice and into ideas, that explores the link between, say, propagation and propaganda, or pomegranate and hand grenade. Just think of the words of the radical gardener-artist Ian Hamilton Finlay, from his contumacious green space called Little Sparta in the Scottish lowlands: "Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks." But how can a garden be an attack, a flower a critique, a trowel an agent of social change?

California Gambles on Carbon Trade

WASHINGTON — California is putting its reputation as a pioneering environmental heavyweight on the line as it prepares to establish a carbon market in eight months.

State regulators are battling the clock, the courts and their own empty pockets as they prepare to oversee the start of the multibillion-dollar market Jan. 1.

The ghost of ASPO-9: climate change

ASPO, the association for the study of peak oil and gas, has been around for more than ten years by now; from when it was conceived first by Colin Campbell, at a conference in Germany in 2000. In these years, ASPO has grown from a small group of petroleum geologists to a remarkable association of people with diverse backgrounds and impressive scientific credentials. Now, the 9th ASPO conference in Brussels is over. Jointly organized by ASPO-Belgium and ASPO-Netherlands, the conference had high level speakers, interesting talks and an active and participating audience.

And, yet, a ghost was hovering above the conference: the ghost of climate change.

The recent ASPO International conference just ended with speakers like Aleklett, Rubin and many others talking. I've seen zero comments or coverage until recently with Ugo Bardi's short comment touching on generalities.

Does anyone have video or know if video will come? Transcripts from the speeches, any in-depth post-event blogging/writing? Any meticulous summaries?

The best would be to upload the talks at aspo.tv, of course, but it remains to be seen whether that can be done.

Same question regarding the recent SUNY conference on Biophysical Economics held in Syracuse with Charles Hall et. al. Anybody got links?

The web site for the BPE conference is in process. It is being put together by students who volunteer their services, so we can't be too impatient!

Charlie has stated he will notify folk when the site is ready. One of us involved will post that information on Drumbeat as soon as it is available.


Finally and 'a first' to my knowledge- a Norwegian politician took part in the Aspo conference.
It was Mr Steine from the relatively smaller party Venstre who showed up- and a well articulated interview was printed in a Norwegian web-magazine. Everything has to start somewhere----

Norwegian article: Trenger peak oil-plan / we need a Peak Oil plan

I will start to vote this party , if only Peak Oil as an issue shows up in their party-program.

Thanks Paal,
I also proposed the following structure for future ASPo arrangements:
Possible future conference structure:
(This time was: geologist day, economics day, and politics day - roughly)
It was disturbing to once again discuss "is the peak here now", and "what can replace oil" even on the last day.
It leaves you with a confused mind.

To me, this pattern could be more logical:

Day one (or session One):
Peak Oil status (What are the latest news, latest evidence, the latest developments).
Conclude: Peak Oil most likely here now/tomorrow, yesterday, the day after tomorrow....

Day/Session two:
Replacement technologies for oil&gas (What are the lates news, latest evidence, the latest developments).
Conclude: Replacements for Oil has a potential to cover x% of the losses in oil/gas production...

Day/Session three:
Transition activities: (The same issues: What are the lates news, latest evidence, the latest developments, but also: examples of successful implemenation of society planning siuted for post-peak societies, etc).
Conclude: What remains to be done in order to get this train on the track....

This pattern (or even better suggestions of same) could be repeated every time, and the conclusions could be compared over time to see the development over time.

The presentations are here:
Some are downloadable now, more will follow.

That's a good start. Do you know if there will be videos? Presentations are great for the at-first-glance view, but it'd be very appreciated for video or at least transcript because that nuance and not to mention depth to their arguments.

Presentations are very short and a good place to start from but perhaps not to delve deeper.
I hope that there was recording because it'd be awesomesauce to have more material up on aspo.tv.


Does anyone know what the dates are for the ASPO USA conference in October in DC?


S&P 500 Futures Jump on Bin Laden’s Death

Stocks and U.S. equity-index futures gained, the Dollar Index snapped a nine-day slump and oil dropped the most in two weeks after President Barack Obama said Osama bin Laden is dead. Silver sank after CME Group Inc. raised the amount of cash traders need for speculative positions.

Ding-Dong, The Witch is Dead!

...though commodities are regaining much of their losses. Fickle Munchkins....

Everyone knows that the oil markets are ruled by the iron laws of supply and demand.

The markets must have discovered a huge oil deposit under OBL's Abbottabad compound causing oil prices to fall or perhaps KSA decided to increase oil production in memory of OBL.

Looking at the chart, oil prices down on the news of bin Laden's death, then back up just as quickly on the realization that it didn't change any of the reasons they were up to begin with.

Oil Jumps to 31-Month High on Concern Bin Laden Death Will Cause Reprisals

Crude oil jumped to the highest level since September 2008 amid concern that the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will spur retaliatory attacks that could disrupt supplies.

Oil climbed as much as 0.6 percent after dropping the most in almost three weeks in New York after President Barack Obama said U.S. forces killed bin Laden in a firefight yesterday in Pakistan. Stocks rose, pushing up the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index for a fifth day.

“The market realizes that with bin Laden out of the picture, the risk of a reprisal is high, so you don’t want to celebrate too soon,” said Phil Flynn, vice president of research at PFGBest in Chicago. “The stock market seems to be rallying, which could boost demand.”

Well, whadaya know? One minute yer down, the next yer up! As of 10:49 EST, Yahoo Finance still has the old news on their front page.

Alan from the islands

Osama bin Laden dead: body buried at sea

It looked straight forward until I saw the above story. Rightly or wrongly, it suddenly doesn't seem so straight forward and more puzzling than anything. Something not quite right about it, as if there is more to it than is being stated.


Ding ding ding ding... My BS detector spiked when my wife told me that this morning. I already thought it was all smoke and mirrors last night, but this just solidified it.

Oil nearing $115... People are going to forget about OBL pretty quick with $5 gasoline around the corner.

The timing was suspicious yes. There is also the fact that the bin laden family was a decade ago influential enough to get family members here in the states out with us.. funded jets, makes me wonder why the body was not pre-arranged to be handed over to them upon death. While i can't question the legitimacy of the dna samples, in this 'well past' photoshop era I do question all photos. The furthest i will go out on a limb here on is he might of been killed earlier then this, and the photo's altered to show being taken recently in the meta-data and any on picture information like photo time stamps on the photo it's self.

Goldstein just wasn't that useful anymore, he was kinda worn out - yesterday's villain. These days we have the new "helping the freedom-loving rebels liberate themselves from tyrants" theme, which seems to be playing really well and avoids some of the inconsistencies of the old one. Watch the birdie!

It makes no difference. A global military empire will do what it has to do to survive, regardless of what the particular excuses and justifications presented are. The real driving forces are the millions of people wasting energy every day and a population unwilling to make changes to conserve.


You'll find this link interesting:


Moscow, Russia (PRWEB) April 28, 2011 -- ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. researched Nikon's Image Authentication System, a secure suite validating if an image has been altered since capture, and claims to have discovered a major flaw in the manner the secure image signing key is being handled. The original signing key was extracted from a Nikon camera; manipulated images with valid authentication signature were produced. The forged images successfully pass validation with Nikon Image Authentication Software.

I'm sure a lot of folks would have prefered they had dropped his body on Mecca from altitude, though, a proper Muslim burial (even at sea) seems a bit more diplomatic. No sense adding more fuel to the fire.

I'm waiting for the picture proof...... until then we have an "Elvis is still alive" situation out there ....

I need no further proof.

That's odd given the number of times the U.S. government has lied. Personally, I need loads more proof.

I largely have respect for many people in government but there are bad apples in every organization.

So proof needs to be pretty high for me nowadays.

Remember the bogus Pat Tillman story we were sold? You might have forgotten that it was all a coverup but I haven't.

The Army at first reported that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, and Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal approved the award of a Silver Star. The actual cause of Tillman's death was later revealed to be from friendly fire.


aangel, I hear what you are saying.

If someone wants to believe he is still alive, go ahead. With the amount of planning involved and the details of the operation, I have no doubt.

I don't have any more information than what the MSM is reporting so at this point I listen to the story and hold everything mentally as "provisionally accepted."

We may see more information about the situation leaked out as time passes, just as it occurred with the Pat Tillman coverup.

Though I certainly don't hold it as impossible that the story is correct, wise people would do well to bear the following in mind when war is afoot:

The first casualty of war is truth.

— US Senator Hiram Johnson in a 1918 speech

Or, for possibly the first written expression of this sentiment:

"...among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages." (emphasis added)

— "The Idler" magazine, 1758

There are a lot of credulous people out there and not only the ones who think there is no problem with our fossil fuel supply. Just show me a picture of the body and let us move on to other urgent matters.

Senators call for bin Laden death photos

Senators call for bin Laden death photos

I think for the sake of all of our memories, I prefer no photo ever be released. In my opinion, a photo proves nothing.

In my opinion, a photo proves nothing.

It's possible the photo could be doctored, that's true. There are a lot of people with very good Photoshop skills these days.

However, the courts readily accept photos and science in general uses the technology of photography very well. If you're squeamish just don't look at the photo. There are lots of people who can handle that sort of difficult thing even if you can't. I'd really prefer if you not make that decision for me.

I understand that you take the government's word on this. I don't. That's ok...to each his own.

There are a lot of people with very good Photoshop skills these days.

True enough ! But few of them are working with Obama- just referring to his recently released birth certificate.. What a mess, they even forgot to "flatten" the image before uploading it. Jezz!
I downloaded the original to check for myself. And there it was : Grossly tampered with, but for what reason?- I don't know.

Obama's Birth Certificate Released Proof it is Has Been Altered Possible Fake

Hah! That's truly bizarre! I've just tried it for myself too! Why on earth would they do that??

Has there been an official response to this yet?

Has he been framed??

Dunno- but I guess Mr Trump is very bizi these days ?!!?

I guess they must have tried to clarify the text to make it easier to read. But, honestly, you'd have thought they'd have just found a better scanner after this whole fiasco!!

Truly unbelievable..

Why on earth would they do that??

They didn't.

He said the layers cited by doubters are evidence of the use of common, off-the-shelf scanning software — not evidence of a forgery. “I have seen a lot of illustrator documents that come from photos and contain those kind of clippings—and it looks exactly like this,” he said.

Tremblay explained that the scanner optical character recognition (OCR) software attempts to translate characters or words in a photograph into text. He said the layers cited by the doubters shows that software at work – and nothing more.

“When you open it in Illustrator it looks like layers, but it doesn’t look like someone built it from scratch. If someone made a fake it wouldn’t look like this,” he said. “Some scanning software is trying to separate the background and the text and splitting element into layers and parts of layers.”

Even the blog that first broke the news has admitted that it's not fakery, it's scanner optimization.

Ah.. thanks - makes a lot more sense!

But, blimey, you'd have thought they'd have issued a caveat with the PDF - it was bound to set chins wagging!

Funny thing. John McCain was not born in America. He was born in Panama. But we are still focused on Obama being unAmerican in this Country. LOL

Tremblay explained that the scanner optical character recognition (OCR) software attempts to translate characters or words in a photograph into text.

Well, I have no concerns about Obama's place of birth, but...

If you are attempting to make an accurate digital copy of a paper document, you simply create an image file. Perhaps you also enhance the image to improve legibility but, if you are acting in response to questions about the validity of the document, even that would probably be unwise.

One thing you absolutely would not do in such a case (assuming that you had no intention to mislead anyone and that you were moderately technologically competent) is to use OCR software. You don't need it (if the document is that illegible, it is worthless as proof anyway) and employing it would be a giant red flag, just begging the conspiracy theorists and wingnuts to pounce.

So, if Tremblay's explanation is correct, Barack Obama needs better clerical and IT help.

I think it's just a government thing, not an Obama thing or a clerical issue. The government always uses PDFs for this stuff. The "layers" are the result of using "scan to PDF," which is what they always do.

Right. The PDF creation process results in layers. If you have PDF authoring applications or capable image editors, you can see and manipulate them. You'll likely see lots of strange artifacts, redundancies, squiggles and boxes and...

But, really, there should be no default selection of OCR (a resource- and time-consuming side trip) when simply scanning to PDF.

Perhaps Mr. Tremblay misunderstood. And, quite likely, the staff who did the work, didn't understand that they were providing "evidence" for the birthers. Probably nothing they did would satisfy the wackos (their real issue is that there's a black "liberal" with a funny name in the White House), but I think Obama's people should have seen this coming.

They should have used the "dumbest" photocopier in Washington.

Hah! That's truly bizarre! I've just tried it for myself too! Why on earth would they do that??

I have a hunch...

I'd apply Occam's razor and say the following: I once actually scanned a valid certificate of mine that had faded over the many years since it had been awarded to me and enhanced it purely for legibility reasons. I did not change any of the original information nor did I in any way misrepresent the original information. Furthermore the original information, at least in my case, could easily be cross referenced and verified from other sources. I then submitted the certificate and disclosed that it was a digitally cleaned up copy of the original so as to increase its legibility and gave a reference to the original certifying agency. For the record that particular certificate is a part of my professional diving CV.

Quite frankly that is what I think happened here. I'm really really tired of this nonsense!

I made it down this far after I came home from work and I will take a break here, and I will agree with Fred:

Holy crap! I was making a funny yesterday when I said that the Donald would ask for the long-form death certificate.

Now I am reading all this hoo-ha OBL death conspiracy schtuff, and on top of that I see a helping of conspiracy theory stuffola about Obama's long-form birth certificate.

I have to wonder about the mental gymnastics that some of you go through...

It certainly brings discredit upon TOD.

I didn't even hear this stuff from the right-wing hard core crowd at work...

May I suggest freereublic.com for those so inclined?


Well, like Aangel said, when the dander is up, ALL this chat is 'Provisional'.. It's sea-foam, just like any of the immediate Oil-price movements following such a Kaboom..

I'm not quite sure if I should laugh or cry about the gullibility of our fellow citizens. Perhaps the FAA should release an emergency directive forbidding all US helicopters from hovering over thick high walls!


(Update: A U.S. source tells TIME that the helicopter crashed not because of mechanical failure but because the compound's walls were too thick and high that, when the aircraft hovered above them, its rotors could not generate enough aerodynamic lift to keep the chopper aloft.)


What a load of steaming hot Taurine feces!

For the record, if I'm not mistaken, a helicopter generates lift by reducing air pressure above it, since a helicopter's rotors function as airfoils. Any experts in the physics of helicopter flight out there to corroborate that?

Can we fire all journalists who are ignorant of basic physics and are absolutely incapable of any critical thinking skills whatsoever? Are people so oblivious and globally unaware of their surroundings that they have never seen a news helicopter hovering high above an accident scene?! I guess those helicopters must be coated with pixie dust so they can hover way up there...

BTW, to keep helicopters from hovering above your property all you have to do is surround it with thick high walls.
What are we, a country of complete idiots?!

To be fair, I don't think any of us on here for a second really thought that the certificate was fake, we were just gobsmacked that they would make such a basic 'error' as to digitally enhance a document when the whole point was to try and prove it was genuine!

That's all the fuss was about, no more.


Fred: Helicopters, like all aircraft, are subject to ground effect when operating at very low altitudes.

In the case of helicopters, the simplest situation is that, when the chopper is hovering at or below about half the rotor diameter from the ground, a "bubble" of high pressure (air being pushed toward the ground by the rotor) creates extra lift, thus requiring less power to hover than would be the case at higher altitude.

Sometimes, it can be difficult for a pilot, especially under the kinds of conditions we're hearing about in this case, to maintain that perfect hover. A little too much power and the aircraft pops up higher. As it rises, it may rise out of the ground effect zone, lose the extra lift from the high pressure bubble and lose altitude rapidly. If you don't do everything exactly right, without delay, the first time, the chopper may fall down and go boom. They are very cranky contraptions.

The shape of the terrain you're flying over very definitely complicates the issue. A very high wall could easily result in the aircraft rapidly flying into and out of ground effect within a short distance, or while hovering. If that wall were also very wide, the chopper could end up flying over, or trying to hover in, a place where the ground effect altitude changes quickly and with some complexity.

I would guess that the Time reporter was told something like this and garbled up the reporting because s/he didn't understand it fully.

I'm not a real expert but I have some familiarity with these things. I spent some time working on various sorts of aircraft, at Uncle Sam's insistence, long ago and far away.

Thanks, now I'll slink away to munch on my humble crow pie.

Experienced many flight hours in helos (courtesy Uncle Sam). Helos hovering close to ground (within the length of the rotors) are hovering in ground effect. This requires the pilots to reduce power to maintain altitude.

High walls would definitely cause a problem. They result in air being forced upward near the rotors and then recirculating back down through the rotors. The longer the hover attempt lasts, the faster the recirculation. At some point the recirculation effect produces air moving through the rotors fast enough to cause collapse of the ground effect.

Loss of ground effect requires immediate application of additional power to avoid an unintended "air-ground interface event" (as my flight instructors used to call it). Depending on pilot skill, engine operating condition, transmission, helo weight, air density and other factors it could be very difficult to avoid a very hard landing if not an outright crash.

Loss of an engine while hovering, especially if the ground effect also collapses or if the helo is slipping in and out of ground effect, is generally "bad" to "very bad" on the Good - Bad scale.


I don't CARE where Obama was born, & voted for him. But I just downloaded that file from the whitehouse.gov blog, and it certainly looks like it has been altered to change info.

(edit) had coffee. Am amazed at just how ham-handed it was to release a copy that LOOKS faked. On behalf of actual conspirators everywhere, I blush for the administration. Only the blissfully honest would put out something that looks this fake.


You'll find this link interesting:


Moscow, Russia (PRWEB) April 28, 2011 -- ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. researched Nikon's Image Authentication System, a secure suite validating if an image has been altered since capture, and claims to have discovered a major flaw in the manner the secure image signing key is being handled. The original signing key was extracted from a Nikon camera; manipulated images with valid authentication signature were produced. The forged images successfully pass validation with Nikon Image Authentication Software.

Verified or at least purported information:
1) Declaration that Osama would be killed where by US forces wherever he might be
2) Signed order to undertake a mission in another country
3) Execution of that mission (complete with real-time blogging and chopper parts on the ground)
4) Deaths of combatants -- various Bin Laden relatives and cohorts
5) Kate and William put off their honeymoon last minute, now talking Canada instead of Jordan
6) Involvement of many relatively low-level people who will corroborate info, including people in the compound in Pakistan
7) Cautious statements by Pakistan and criticism from Hamas
8) Presumably a large number of people on the aircraft carrier saw the body, and forensic tests and results back that up.
9) Suitably secure yet unassuming sanctuary in the right sort of region, presumably with clothes and personal affects still mostly in place

In a few decades a FOIA will dig out the details. Most of the story will be out sooner. For some, no proof will ever be enough -- how can any situation be proven to your level of acceptability? If the body were at a morgue on an airbase somewhere, how would that be any better? Must the body go on tour to be "verified" by each doubter individually?

How about we make a practice of putting heads of enemies on pikes in a parade across America -- would most Americans be able to personally identify the head of a aged terrorist from a nicely made-up stunt double?

Sometimes I wonder if the plausible situations gather so much tinfoil, how solid is the rest of the conjecture here?

Everyone has make their own call about how much proof they need. You make yours. I make mine.

Right now, I need high levels of proof. I apply this same rigor, btw, to my treatment of alternative medicine in The UnCrash Course and get a lot of flack from participants for saying that any success with homeopathy is basically the placebo effect. Show me the double-blind, controlled experiments that it works above the levels predicted by the placebo effect and biostatistics and I'll happily start selling homeopathic kits from my site. (I've been asked to do that. A lot.)

However, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks evidence is required:

Senators call for bin Laden death photos

I also didn't believe for a second that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We were, in my view, lied to and marched to war:

During the lead-up to war in March 2003, Hans Blix had found no stockpiles of WMD and had made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament noting "proactive" but not always the "immediate" Iraqi cooperation as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. He concluded that it would take “but months” to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks.[4] The United States asserted this was a breach of Resolution 1441 but failed to convince the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution authorizing the use of force due to lack of evidence.[5][6][7] Despite being unable to get a new resolution authorizing force and citing section 3 of the Joint Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress,[8] President Bush asserted peaceful measures couldn't disarm Iraq of the weapons he alleged it to have and launched a second Gulf War,[9] despite multiple dissenting opinions[10] and questions of integrity[11][12][13] about the underlying intelligence.[14] Later U.S.-led inspections agreed that Iraq had earlier abandoned its WMD programs, but asserted Iraq had an intention to pursue those programs if UN sanctions were ever lifted.[15] (emphasis added)


Bush called the "intelligence failure" his worst regret of his presidency. However, anyone not driven with an agenda could see how poor the evidence was for the administration's assertion.

It honestly boggles my mind when I meet people such as yourself. I presume you've experienced the same last ten years that I have and yet you are much more credulous than I am. Interesting how that works.

I actually agree with the "trust but verify" sentiment, where it's my job to discern. I fully agree that Senators should ask for, and see, the photos and the Intel Committee should remain in the loop for the same evidence. I would expect the ship's captain and the officers involved to testify as well. I don't need to see it on CNN, and any pics I would get would have no value besides salaciousness anyway.

Skeptical is good. I just see no reason to believe that a "big lie" would be perpetrated, or that it would be successful. I've got teenagers, therefore I assume everybody lies, but I'm pretty nice about it. Beats being paranoid. As with my kids when I'm pretty sure I'm being had, if the US can pull off a sleight of this magnitude, well, then I'm still impressed -- not an easy thing to do!

WMD in Iraq and Tillman are two completely different topics. I was pretty sure the Saddam thing was trumped up to some degree at the time, but eventually decided that much was simply indicative if poor intel from a crippled agency. I am heartened to see that the CIA can apparently do a decent job again. Besides, Saddam "needed killin" too, only just not necessarily by us. Similar to Khadafi this year, for that matter. Just for the record, the Taliban and Al Queda (including Bin Laden) are the only targets I personally approved of to date, though not the pussy-footed methods we've undertaken.

As for Tillman, that's was small-potatoes -- a relatively routine friendly-fire issue (something which we need to improve, but that's a process problem) blown out of proportion by CYA and press-play back home. Compared to the Iraq story or the Osama situation, it's like comparing opportunistic embezzlement to a mafia racket.

Aangel, Bush, no doubt, actually believed that there would be weapons of mass destruction found. He actually thought Saddam was making a nuclear bomb and possibly poison gas to wreck havoc with the civilized world. He was wrong. There was no conspiracy involved, he was simply dead wrong. It was all wishful thinking on his part. He made a mistake that cost tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

That being said, I never took you to be a conspiracy theory wingnut. I am deeply disappointed. I am not talking about Bush and Iraq, I am talking about Obama and Bin Laden. There is no reason to believe it did not happen exactly as reported. There dozens of Navy Seals involved and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Navy personnel involved in the planning. Then there was the events inside Pakistan. They almost scrambled their aircraft because of the events. It would actually take thousands of people to pull off this conspiracy, if that was what it was.

That was not what it was. There is an extremely high probability that things happened exactly as they were reported. Ockham would agree.

Ron P.


I'll say again what I've already said: "I accept the story as provisionally true."

I do not accept your assertion that "Bush, no doubt, actually believed that there would be weapons of mass destruction found."

However, let's revisit this particular issue in a few months and see which details turn out to have been "mis-spoken" or "confused in the rush" and all the other after-the-fact rationalizations that people give when they get caught in a lie.

Millions of people in major cities around the world didn't believe the evidence Bush brought to push for invading Iraq. Same thing with the Security Council. So the U.S. administration decided to act on its own.

Don't tell me you were taken in by the flimsy evidence they gathered? I had a higher opinion of your ability to assess evidence.

People lie all the time. My ex-wife has caught police officers blatantly lying under oath and when she requests that something be stricken the judge refuses. She has no choice but to continue and then file an appeal.

I'm with aangel. We've got no choice but to go with the official line, but something just doesn't sit right with me about the whole thing.

But, no point speculating - will just have to wait to see what comes out in the wash. Or, rather, for wikileaks to catch up.

Totally with aangel. I don't believe a damn thing I hear anymore, and most certainly not from my government. If its enough for you, fine. Might be true, might not be, time will tell.... They(government, politicians, media) lie about absolutely everything.
I just shrug, keep my head down, and farm.

All I can do is shake my head in disbelief. The US flew 2 choppers into Pakistan, unannounced and without permission from their government. This in and of itself is a HUGE deal and speaks volumes. Even the use of drones is controversial, but the US actually sent in soldiers with zero advance warning to Pakistan. The US Military violated the sovernty of another country, an international incident in and of itself... do you think they were on an ice-cream run?

Next, the president goes on the record to the world that OBL was killed. Can you imagine how freaking incredibly embarrassing it would be to him personally if this turned out to be false? Some might not like Obama, but he isn't a fool. He wouldn't go on national and international TV unless he was damn sure that OBL was dead. After all, if the whole thing was bogus, OBL could just put out another tape saying, "Uhhh... still alive here" and whoops, so much for Obama's credibility and hope for re-election.

I don't understand what people want when it comes to proof. Its like folks want J.C. himself to come down and say, "I bless this birth certificate as valid" or the devil to come out of a flaming crack in the ground and say, "thanks for sending me OBL". The standard of proof that people want anymore is basically stupid and unmeetable. Please tell us all exactly what proof would be required to convince a climate-change skeptic about the dangers of runaway CO2 levels. How do you know that Saddam is really dead? How do you know that the real Obama wasn't replaced by a body double, or that President Bush didn't order 9/11 or any of a million possibilites that I can pull from my nether regions. Nudge me when you come up with the recording of OBL stating "missed me sucka!".

See solipsism, a philosophy that is apparently increasingly prevalent.

I honestly don't see why anyone cares. Clearly OBL, 911, WMDs - none of that had anything to do with why the US is involved in wars and conflicts all around the world. We get all wrapped up in debating the narrative that is presented to us and miss the big picture - we're a failing empire battling for control of the resources we need to maintain our existence.

It doesn't matter if it really was OBL or not, the only interesting part of it is why now? I suspect it's mostly just housecleaning and a change in narrative, but it may even just be chance. These supposed justifications can change the timing and the details and the symbolism, but the US would be doing what we're doing anyway.

I've been thinking about it, the Pakistani authorities must have known what was going on. The risks would have been far too great otherwise!

The raid was performed a few hundred meters away from their military academy - surely there would have been a very real risk of a clash between the SEALs and Pakistani forces if there was no communication between them. What if a foreign nation had flew in a couple of military helicopters unannounced within a few meters of West Point or Sandhurst? Would they have just sat back and watched them for 40+ mins??

It doesn't make much sense to me.

I think that is the kind of info that comes out only via Wikileaks or in 50 years.

If relations were good, then some joint work with plausible deniability might have been in order. If they were bad, then an operation-in-process call might have been made a few minutes before. Given all the drone attacks (and probably other special-ops missions), there is probably some interface for that in place, either way.

I'd like to believe we're getting something for our $3B per year, but you never know I guess.

Yes, I think you're right. I'll put it in my diary for 2061!

I'm leaning towards the plausible deniability option - because it seems a little incredulous that they'd (presumably) be able to fly in black hawks 100 miles from the Afghan border unannounced through Pakistani airspace and back again without running into some sort of trouble. The BBC says the Pakistani did scramble jets, but I wonder if that was for show? Surely their Mach 2 jets could have caught the black hawks with ease otherwise?


I would not be surprised at all.

Pakistan has, at best, on an outstanding day, a fifth-rate air defense system...trust me on this.

In addition, with the U.S. already conducting so many overflights of drones and yes, probably helicopters, on any given day, is it any wonder that such a small formation of Black Hawks would go unmolested?

And..we probably fed the Paks a line of crap if they notice and inquired.

We could have jammed their comms to their fighters, jammed their radars, and....done any number of other tricky things.

U.S. Special Forces aviators are trained to do exactly this...infiltrate and ex-filtrate unmolested and undetected.

Pak military and civilian leadership incompetence (including having a robust organic terrorist problem)is a major reason to worry about them having certain types of weapons.

The Indians...I trust them far more to treat their toys with the care and respect they deserve.

And then there was this:


Ah, maybe so then.

I'd like to believe we're getting something for our $3B per year, but you never know I guess.

Well, some of "us" are.

Huge chunks of that money are, per requirement and tradition, funneled back to U.S. military and other contractors, consultants, etc.

What you and I, as taxpayers, are "getting" for it is a rather different question.

I'm believing that, like Elvis, Osama is dead.

I believe that that key fact is probably correct. But some key details still need to be corroborated, in my view.

Let's just wait to see what turns up.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The NYT today claims the compound was on top of a hill surrounded by a wall topped with barbed wire. The actual building is said to be windowless (since changed), yet the video from the Telegraph site clearly shows windows in the supposed living quarters of the building. The NYT claimed the site had been monitored for more than 8 months before the raid, which gives one pause as well, given the supposed abilities of the US to monitor things from the air and from space. There's something a bit wrong there, maybe the "fog of war" confusion...

E. Swanson

It's the dumping the body at sea that gets me the most - I mean, that's just bizarre!

Even Saddam was allowed a grave!

Is that to be standard practice for all the West's enemies now?

The Muslim law is for a body to be buried with 24 hrs. of death - that explains the haste. Sea burial is acceptable. Obviously you don't want a gravesite on land that can serve as a shrine or whatever.

Thanks, I understand the Muslim law but they could have just as easily buried him in an unmarked grave on land. In any case, what would be so terrible about a physical shrine existing? No doubt an unmarked grave will be allocated to him by his followers regardless. Jesus didn't seem to do too bad without a final resting place..

Saddam was also a Muslim but his body was returned to his family burial grounds.

Doesn't it seem odd that they're so keen not to offend people by burying him within 24 hrs only to then not tell anyone that might care where they actually performed the burial? Paradoxical no?

Just seems bizarre.

I suppose they could have, but there is precedent here. After his trial and execution, Eichmann was cremated and the ashes scattered over the sea, with similar reasoning. They didn't want a grave that could become a shrine.

And after the Nuremberg war crimes trials, those that were executed were cremated and the ashes dumped in a river.

So it all makes perfect sense to me.

The last thing you would want is photos leaking out that show soldiers desecrating the body - by burying it at sea they can guarantee that such a thing would never happen.

Ah, maybe so. Good points.

Nobody liked Saddam :-)

Nobody liked Saddam :-)

Not true, I'm afraid. The Iraqi puppet government felt so threatened by the popularity of his grave site that they felt they had to ban kids' field trips.

Iraq Bans Visits to Saddam's Grave

Thousands of Saddam's Sunni Arab supporters regularly visit the site to commemorate the former leader with poems and songs of praise.

Many also visit to mark the anniversaries of his birth and death.

Plenty of people still like Charlie Manson.....

But at least he tries to be helpful......


Like there was a body. Its a mirage. Completely made up. I have no doubts he was killed years ago and used as a puppet to further advances in the middle east, body scanners, security bills, and spend spend spend on military. The boogeyman has served his purpose. I also suspect someone wanted to bump his numbers out so he can get elected again.

I just hope its useful for getting most (all?) our troops out of that hell hole (Afghanistan). Iraq too...but I doubt it with all that oil in the ground. Haliburton needs back up so they can profit from cheap (free?) oil.

I don't know what to think really. The whole thing stinks. What about this:

US officials said Bin Laden was shot [twice] in the head after resisting.


"This was a kill operation," one security official told Reuters, but added: "If he had waved a white flag of surrender, he would have been taken alive."

Is that normal SEAL policy? I mean, surely it would have been more advantageous to take him alive than dead - it was a surprise ambush, why couldn't they have fired disabling shots? Why aim at the head? It's not like he's likely to wear a suicide belt to bed for goodness sake!

They're a couple of hundred meters down the road from Pakistan's military academy, not surrounded on all sides deep in a labyrinthine James Bond villan-esque mountain hideout.

The SEALs are meant to be the US' best, right?


Based on the attacks Osama Bin Laden has admitted to planning, having him dead is best. If he had surrendered, fine, but the odds of that occurring were very remote.

But what I'm trying to say is why couldn't they have tried to disable him first and then take him in alive to be tried in the court of law instead of this extra-judicial execution? Presumably he was not very heavily armed if taken by surprise - why not aim at the arms, legs, or even chest? Why the head? Not much chance of him surviving a head shot!

I just don't get it. Something seems so odd. They keep saying 'it was a kill mission' and 'the objective was to kill Bin Laden'. But when has that ever been normal protocol in these situations??

They wanted, and took, Saddam alive so he could be tried in court, they're not openly targeting Gadaffi and state they want him to face justice - why shoot-to-kill for Bin Laden?


Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I defintely respect you for yours.

I feel for all those have been harmed by the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. I would not risk a soldier's life trying to capture Bin Laden alive if he was resisting in any way.
I believe God will judge Bin Laden for his actions.

Thanks Kindhearted, and I certainly respect yours too.

I mourn for all those killed/affected, but that doesn't prevent me from finding little to rejoice in anyone's death, no matter who they are.

I must admit I felt no joy, pleasure, or elation when I heard OBL was killed. On balance, though, I think it was the right thing to do given what he has done and could do in the future. This is an improvement over going into a country which had nothing to do with 9/11 and being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and the destruction of a country. Not mentioning the trillions we will have spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.

why shoot-to-kill for Bin Laden?

"Your Honor, he needed' killin' "

"You got that right! Case dismissed!"

Haha, back to the Old West?

What, have every terrorist out there looking for hijacks and hostages to try and get him freed?


My thoughts are that OBL was taken alive, spirited away to a boat, pissed and shat upon, tortured, mutilated, and then when enough was enough, the grisly remains thrown overboard.

On the other hand, it very well could be OBL is still alive, and about to enter a new phase of his life in a secret location where he will be experimented upon, tortured to reveal all he knows, and there will be no Abu Graib scandal, etc.

Hopefully other parts of the network are already being rolled-up, and others being identified by the data found on-site.

As for OBL being a prisoner under interrogation, I think that's a bit of a stretch. I hear there is video of him being shot, after all.

I hear there is video of him being shot, after all.

Which no doubt will soon be hitting a wikileaks near you...

Taking him alive and grilling him for information would have been very valuable. Guess that would be unpopular, too.

There is no other rational reason for trying to keep him alive that I can think of. Once he's dead, it's done. Alive, you have opportunities for things to go wrong, hostage taking to prod his release, etc. Not to mention the media circus of a trial.

Put on Obama's shoes. Dead, it's "job well done!". Alive, it's half wanting no Gitmo, another half wanting no trial, another half wanting no tribunal, all dragging through election season. It's infinitely more messy.

I agree, but in the name of justice he should have had a fair trial.

Or, at the very least, this: https://twitter.com/#!/jperrotto/statuses/64891235353104384

Taking him alive and grilling him for information would have been very valuable.

Paleocon, I feel otherwise. My guess is he would have revealed no information of value.

Good grief, I listened to a clip of a candidate Obama speech, and in this historical audio document he said to the World that his intention after he became President was to have Obama found and killed.

I beg to disagree about the white flag thing...there was no way in Hades what we were going to keep this guy in prison and then try him...what a freaking circus that would be! Same with committing him to a grave...why create a shrine to a martyr that extremists can flock to?

Paranoia, deep destroyer.

I was hoping they would bury him in Paris.


Easy to get those names mixed up, but I know what you meant to say.. B}

Well.. I have to say if that was Obama's official line during his candidate speech then I'm quite shocked - surely the whole point is for us to attempt to form a just world where everyone is given a fair trial, no matter what they've done?

Of course, unofficially it may be easier to say he was resisting capture, but to officially state you're out to assassinate in cold revenge? How does that make us any better than the terrorists??

An age old dilemma but you'd have thought we could have evolved past that by now, at least ideologically!

We have Osama Bin Laden on videotape admitting to multiple capital crimes.

What would his defense be? Decadal insanity?

That's entirely irrelevant though! You don't just send someone to the gallows because he's admitted to a crime - he has to be found guilty through the correct legal channels!

With all the discussions about the detention practices of the US military, I doubt that OBL would willingly be taken alive. Ever heard of "suicide by police"???

E. Swanson

This was a capture or kill operation. Yeh, maybe they could have captured him. As of now, however, reports are that he was armed and was resisting capture. Even if captured, however, he would have gotten a trial by military tribunal if at all. Anyway, does our consitution require that an foreign enemy get the full protection of our court system?

Anyway, does our consitution require that an foreign enemy get the full protection of our court system?

I don't know, but it bloody well should if we want to try and make this world a better place!

They should add acts of terrorism to the Rome Statute so they can be tried in the International Criminal Court.

reports are that he was armed

Really? Al Jazeera says otherwise

I think Al Jazeera ia reporting on this Press Briefing

Not that I care much. I don't really subscribe to the "big man in history" idea that give all the credit to individuals. It seems to me that that Osama guy needed a whole set of other people and favourable conditions to be able to do much. My bet is that if he had decided to go and be a bee keeper in some remote location some other person would have played a similar role.

Sidenote: On reading Al Jazeera's take on the whole thing I was surprised to see picture where OBL looked like a regular, sometimes smiling person. For some reason the pictures I had seen of him on CNN stuck with me and had convinced me that that was what he really looked like. I just realized that my unconscious assumption was that you can tell if someone is a terrorist because they are grainy grey in colour and seem to have visited a plastic surgeon to distort the height/width proportions of their head.

The trouble with initial reports is that Washington people seem to think a good-sounding lie is always better than the truth -- they live in a land of continual lying fluidly combined with truth. So, initial reports always sound good, and in a few days the real details will come out. Probably the primary gist won't change, but all the details probably will.

I fully expect any video in the room to eventually never have existed, due to "losing video feed inside the inner rooms", so they don't have to backpedal further on the "firefight", then "armed", then "reaching" part of the story. Really, what difference does it make?

This wasn't an arrest, it was a military operation. These weren't police officers whose job it is to maintain peace, but soldiers whose primary job is to be lethal. They didn't have a warrant, but orders. He wasn't a US citizen on US soil, but a known foreign terrorist on foreign soil.

On site they'd had a fire-fight, a crash, and numerous non-combatants in the mix, plus the prospect of scrambling Pakistani plans and unknown local authorities. Any number of things could still go wrong. Dead, the most important goal was incontrovertibly completed.

I hear that the warrant was "dead" not "dead or alive", and that he was not armed or resisting when shot. I'm fine with that. Makes me think more highly of Obama, actually. Already thought highly of the SEALs.

I hear that the warrant was "dead" not "dead or alive", and that he was not armed or resisting when shot. I'm fine with that. Makes me think more highly of Obama, actually. Already thought highly of the SEALs.

Well of course you're entitled to your opinion, but quite frankly it makes me sick to my stomach to hear talk like that.

It's a horrible precedent to set - a country waging war against an individual and assassinating him in cold blood and publicly receiving the full support of those in power. The legality of it is a veritable minefield!

I'm not trying to be incendiary here - I'm just trying to point out that you can't fight fire with fire and expect there not to be repercussions. Gandhi had it right all along.

How is it any different than a drone strike or a 500lb bomb to wake him up? Soldiers kill people all the time.

Reality can make one queasy, for sure. Most people would feel that same way if they had to kill their own cows, so we create a system where we pay a few people who don't much care to do the butchering and sausage-making for us. Same way with soldiers. And multinational corporations. Just don't watch the Feed the Children commercials too closely or the facade of separation is hard to maintain.

I wrote out a big, long answer but then just decided I'm going too far down the rabbit hole.

I'm not eloquent enough to explain the difference between this situation and soldiers operating under conditions of war, but suffice to say there is a difference and an important one at that.

...a country waging war against an individual

Bin Laden declared war on the US. He was not simply an individual, but the leader of an army.

Now he's dead.

Perhaps, but usually you'd capture a surrendering General, not shoot him in the face.

What evidence is there that OBL was "surrendering". I would imagine the situation was chaotic, so even though they determined he was not armed, he don't know that they knew that for sure before the actual shots. Perhaps we will get more details at a later date.

True, will have to wait for more details.

the saga of American exceptionalism and God bless America, USA, USA, is no longer macro productive or symbiotic.

I.. think I understand what you just said..

Are you on my side here? Lol ;-)

Is that normal SEAL policy?

I certainly hope so!

The SEALs are meant to be the US' best, right?

I believe they just proved, beyond any doubt, that they are!

Wake up and smell the coffee. Bin Laden declared war on the US. In a war, enemies tend to get killed.

Like there was a body. Its a mirage. Completely made up...

I also suspect someone wanted to bump his numbers out so he can get elected again.

When the Deepwater Horizon blew up, I heard a few people saying it was all a conspiracy by Obama, that he and the CIA planned the whole thing. I thought that was the stupidest conspiracy theory I had ever heard... until today.

Oh, and the whole moon landing thing was faked also. Completely made up. Hell everybody knows that.

Ron P.

I have felt that TOD was a refuge of rational thought in a universe of insanity. Today, I am not so sure. Anyway, they have a video of the execution. But I guess they could have faked that too. Maybe Obama is a hologram.

Maybe Obama is a hologram.

Well he might as well be if the Whitehouse's version of his birth certificate is anything to go by!

See: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7865#comment-799046

Well we are going off a youtube and "an expert in PDF files" lol. OK. Hey he is very credible too. LMAO.

That was a joke right? The scanner separated the color layers. Scanners can do optical character recognition.

First of all the scan was then printed onto the green paper used by the Registrar in 2011. They could very well be separate layers. Who really knows?

We are doing ink blot tests. See what you want to see at every move.

Hard to be convinced really of any person's theory.

Show credible data BO was not born in Hawaii in 1961.

In the end, none of this matters. The people in power will continue to rule the world and none of us can stop them.

I have felt that TOD was a refuge of rational thought in a universe of insanity. Today, I am not so sure.

Yes, I feel the same way. I actually feel like crying. Just when you thought you had found a refuge from the insanity you find yourself right in the middle of the asylum.

Ron P.

It still is an island of sanity.

It is entirely rational to seriously question what a government says is the "truth." The list of obfuscations, cover ups and outright lies committed by governments is so large (including a $2 trillion war and many, many deaths as a result) I'm surprised otherwise worldly people don't see the value in being skeptical.

This is especially true when the very largest decisions must be made. The allure of the lie is greatest then because the reward is greatest.

I remember the look people gave me when I told them that I thought there was insufficient evidence for WMD...it was clear they wanted blood and called me "unpatriotic" and "an idiot" or asked "why would the government lie?" and so forth.

How quickly you forget Ron that people are relating to you exactly the same way with your views on oil depletion.

No aangel, it is pure insanity. Don't try to divert the attention to Iraqi WMD. We are talking about the demise of Osama Bin Laden. You, and others, have insinuated that it was all a conspiracy by Obama and whomever. That is totally, absolutely, (I cannot think of a stronger explicative), stupid.

Thousands were involved in the taking out of Osama Bin Laden. To suggest that it never happened, or that it was all a fake, is just down in the dirt stupid! It is impossible to involve thousands of people in a conspiracy that never happened. Good God man, think about what you are saying! Thousands, that is thousands of people had to be involved in this conspiracy! Do you really believe that is possible?

How quickly you forget Ron that people are relating to you exactly the same way with your views on oil depletion.

NO! A thousand times NO! Oil depletion has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of conspiracy. No one need to lie or to hide what they know or believe. Everyone in the oil depletion debate is free to express their heart felt opinions. Those opinions may be cornucopian or they may be doomerish like mine. But there is no lying involved, no conspiracy, just honest opinions wrong or right.

To even suggest that the killing of Osama Bin Laden was faked and part of a giant conspiracy is truly absurd. Again, thousands would have to been in on the conspiracy. Impossible! If you do not understand that then you are incapable of rational thought. That is all I have to say on the subject.

Ron P.

This kind of crap doesn't help the debate....

An image circulating on the Internet and displayed on some television news programs abroad purports to show Osama bin Laden’s bloody corpse. No U.S. or Pakistani officials have confirmed its authenticity, and two U.S. officials have warned NBC News that the image is a hoax.

....image, before and after being 'shopped'. My wife showed me this picture being circulated on facebook. Had to check it out.

Ah, Ron, I can always count on you to get hot under the collar and start calling people you disagree with stupid. I am used to people calling me that because of my views on peak oil (they sometimes call me a fear monger, too) so I've grown quite a thick skin. ;-)

However, I will clarify because you seem to be reading things that I haven't said.

I accept that Osama was killed. However, I only provisionally accept that Osama was killed in the way the mainstream story says he was killed.

In other words, I "trust" the story but would like "verification" of the details, as the expression "trust but verify" goes someone mentioned earlier.

I expect there will be some massaging of the story as time goes on. I've witnessed this process several times and have no doubt it will happen again — perhaps in this instance.

Again, just as we saw with the Iraq war, Pat Tillman and many, many other events, further details will emerge as time goes on.

Watch the story unfold. I would be surprised if the official story stays the same over the next week — but it certainly could.

BTW, don't point a finger at me because we've been lied to so many times. When people lie to me, I quite rationally start to suspect what else they say. I'm sure that you generally operate the same way, except you are too easily forgetting or forgiving a lot of historical lying. (Enron, Bernie Madoff, Gulf of Tonkin incident, etc.)

Let me help remind you of how much your government has lied to you:

In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded[7] that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there may not have been any North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated:
[I]t is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2.[8] (emphasis added)


The time-honored technique to start a war is to convince your populace that they are threatened or, even better, that "the other side started it and we have the right to defend ourselves."

That's precisely the tool both administrations used for Vietnam and Iraq. Since the Iraq army could be mopped up in no time by American forces, the threat had to be big and scary enough to rally the people, ergo, WMDs.

Osama, if you are still among the living, step forward and destroy the credibility of the US government. The damage you could do would dwarf nine-eleven.


Here's Who Was Watching The Bin Laden Raid In The White House Situation Room

Obama, and the guy in the suit and tie is Richard Daley. When the guys from Chicago whack you, you stay whacked.

But who took the photo? Osama bin Laden, that's who. Oh, how they mock us.

It is entirely rational to seriously question what a government says is the "truth."

Yes, but you have to be reasonable about it. Do you really believe that president Obama would say that Osama Bin Laden was killed by US forces if he wasn't? What would be one of the first things that Osama Bin Laden would do if he was still alive and free? Well he would of course put out a video or audio file proving that he's still alive. Do you really think that the Obama admistration would take such a foolish risk of looking like total idiots?

What I said and will I suppose repeat is that Osama is very likely dead. The details of his death may or may not be as have been reported.

Let's see what happens next. Lots of stories get changed after a bit of time passes.

No worries.

I'm sure there are plenty of silent TODsters who can't be bothered to comment on the news noise associated with either Obama's birth or Osama's death.


TOD was a refuge of rational thought

All humans are irrational.

We are humans.

Try to use the rational part of your brain to reach a logical conclusion based on the above.

Come on. You've been here over five years. That means you've seen TOD discussing things like Bush's plan to declare martial law and make himself president for life, the idea that the US created Hurricane Gonu and was steering it toward Iran as a cover for an attack, whether or not the moon landing was a hoax, etc. "Refuge of rational thought" is not how I would describe this site.

People are not rational, and frankly, peak oilers are probably less rational than most. Stuart used to complain about people who are "impervious to evidence," but there's also the opposite problem: people who are too willing to believe anything. Peak oilers seem to lean toward the latter.

While we do discourage conspiracy theories here, I think it's reasonable to address new ones, as news. As an example, I usually remove "birther" posts, but left the thread about "layers" in the PDF because it's new info. Better to address it in the open...once.

I knew as soon as I heard that OBL had been immediately buried at sea that conspiracy theories would sprout like mushrooms in a cow pasture. And I decided that I wasn't going to ban the discussion completely, because it's news, it deserves to be discussed, and even MSM sources like CNN have covered "questions" about the quick burial, whether it really was OBL, etc.

But it's probably a one-Drumbeat deal, unless there's new information. Maybe OBL didn't die as the US claimed. Maybe it wasn't really him, but a ringer he set up to get the heat off. There's no way to know, and therefore little profit in discussing it too much. (That's the real problem with conspiracy theories, IMO. A genuine conspiracy theory is impossible to disprove. People who believe them never change their minds, no matter the evidence, so the discussion goes on and on and on, long after it's useful or interesting to anyone else.)

Stuart used to complain about people who are "impervious to evidence," but there's also the opposite problem: people who are too willing to believe anything. Peak oilers seem to lean toward the latter.

Very good point, I never thought of it like that. Every characteristic in life falls on a bell curve so why would we expect credulity to be an exception. On one extreme we have those who will believe almost nothing except what was instilled there when their minds were very young and malleable. That is their world view was set like in concrete, never to be changed regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Then there is the other extreme. People on that end of the bell curve will believe anything that may be supported by nothing but a suspicion.

I guess peak oil folks, on average, fall at least one standard deviation in the direction of the latter. And of course a few will fall near the extremes of total credulity, those so credulous that they will believe almost anything no matter how absurd. We have seen hard proof of that predilection in posts on this very thread.

Ron P.

Every characteristic in life falls on a bell curve so why would we expect credulity to be an exception.

Exactly. For instance, you still believe that you weren't deceived and lied to by your government about Iraq. Many other people have looked at the evidence and concluded the exact opposite of you.

...conspiracy theories would sprout like mushrooms in a cow pasture.

Hello Leanan, I like you comments. This is about the time of year that mushrooms in our area are sprouting in the woods.

I am also disapointed....

I tend to be a very skeptical person by nature but some of these comments are way over-the-top.

... And we are in Libya fighting for democracy.

Maybe we helped get 30,000 Chinese nationals out of Western oil interests. Who knows, but everyone is trying to make the little countries given them the oil. Resource control has been this way as long as man has been running around on the planet.


Obviously you don't want a gravesite on land that can serve as a shrine or whatever.

A shrine might have made a good honeypot.

He was dropped into the Arabian Sea, which seems appropriate somehow.

At least there is no burial plot to become a shrine. Al Queda themselves will admit he's dead shortly, I assume. Or as dead as Elvis can be, anyway.

I've been perusing some internet boards and the best interpretation of the event that I've read is the following: Bin Laden probably just died naturally, of some other cause: kidney failure, stroke, who knows. Pakistan, who of course had been harboring him and knew of his whereabouts, basically just informed the U.S. and told them to do what they will. So the U.S. stages it as if it were a daring operation.

I do believe the body is in the ocean now. The reason why it happened so quickly is that nobody would discover that actually a bullet was not the cause of death.

What's interesting is how unimportant this all is now. It will be forgotten in a few days. We'll still be in the M.E., protecting oil, fighting "terrorism", gas will still be expensive, people will still be unemployed and miserable and stuck in the burbs with SUVs, Wall Street will still be making a killing, the population will still be going higher and higher, etc.

Who cares anymore.

I care.

Let's look at this media event from other perspectives. From the perspective of the Muslim man in the street, there was no trial, so this is vengeance, not justice. The Americans talk about the rule of law, but their actions are nakedly selfish aggression.

If the US does not now immediately pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and NATO out of Libya, that will be proved to many wavering Muslims' satifaction. And of course the US can't do that, and NATO won't.

Trouble ahead.

Second perspective. Certain elements of the American political scene have habitually used a bogeyman to mobilise their support, and to distract people from their looting of the state and of ordinary people's work and savings. Who is going to be the next bogeyman?

My guess is China. Look at that from the Chinese point of view. They will put up with invective for a long time - history shows that. But not forever, particularly if the rhetoric spills over into action.

Alternatively, the next bogeyman could be Iran. That still leads to conflict with China, this time with the Umma and Russia in support. Arabs may have no love for Persians, but they can see a strategy of picking off Islamic states one by one. China won't tolerate any expansion of western adventurism in its back yard for long. Neither will Russia.

More trouble ahead.

And as you say, we already had enough troubles.

Really the problem is more civil war than anything that happens abroad. Although I agree, all of these are very important considerations in the years ahead.

Again, this reinforces the point: America has lost control of events. It's bankrupt and has no control over China or Russia or the entirety of the M.E.

No reason to fret about stuff that's outside your control.

Perhaps it's as you say: time to stop reading The Oil Drum's posts -- in fact, time to get rid of the RSS reader altogether.

You're one of the few commenters to whom I pay attention, Oilman. I might just take your advice.

It was nice reading your views. Ciao.

Ill. Town Evacuated Over Flood Threat

By Sunday morning around 9:00am local time, the Ohio River had reached a level of 59.76 feet (18.2 m), surpassing the 59.5-foot (18.1 m) record set in the 1937 flood at Cairo, according the Southeast Missourian. The river was anticipated to crest Tuesday at 60.5 feet (18.4 meters) and stay there for several days, the National Weather Service said.

In another story grain exports have been stopped along the Mississippi River.

Over the weekend, Supreme Court Justice Alito denied the request to prevent blowing the levees. So they have been filled w/ explosives in anticipation of an order to blow. I believe this would be a first, tho the levees were designed to be blown when designed in, I believe, 1927.

Very interesting story unfolding, I wonder how many of the affected land owners were warned by their real estate agent of this contingency? Although I understand their concerns of unleashing a myriad of modern pollutants, I think the river may get to function naturally.

I guess I can understand the reasoning. I wouldn't be happy if it were my farm, but if the choice is low-density farmland vs. higher-density cities/suburbs, the farmland is going to lose.

Are they going to blow up the levee for sure, or is there hope that it won't be necessary?

Not yet for sure, but are ready given directors nod.


Apparently, testimony to Alito included reports of levee seepage, this appears confirmed. As noted in this thread, the saved town is no longer very large, but economic tradeoffs between the two are still huge. I think the risk posed to the rest of the levee system with this amount of water is receiving considerable attention also.

I was surprised to learn that this section was designed to be blown so long ago, built-in failure. Perhaps the hubris level wasn't so great in the past.

Yes, I'd heard that, too - that even if there were nobody living in Cairo, they'd have to take this step to protect the integrity of the entire levee system.

Really been some extreme weather in the middle of the country this year, between the tornadoes and the flooding.

The Corps is supposed to give word on the levee decision at 5 PM CDT today.

Valero prepares Memphis refinery for high water

They're going to blow it up.

(Reuters) - The government said on Monday it will go ahead with a controversial plan to blow up a levee on the Mississippi River to relieve flood pressure on other levees along the critical commercial navigation route and save the town of Cairo, Illinois.

After projecting the crest in Memphis to stop at 45 feet, last night the NWS raised it 3 feet to 48 feet. The records was in 1937 at 48.7 feet. It doesn't appear that folks really know what to expect once the river goes over 45 feet. Memphis has a flood wall that is 50-something feet high but residents are concerned about its condition.

NWS Says River Will Crest Higher

Drinking water, according to Memphis Light, Gas and Water, is still safe at a 48 foot river crest. As far as the availability of gas at the pumps, officials say buying gas shouldn't be a concern.

"There's no indication that those kinds of services are going to be critically impacted," said Bob Nations, Director of Shelby County's Office of Preparedness.

Interesting to see the effect of the levee blast. The second blast was delayed last night and it was due to happen today sometime.

Ohio River at Cairo Graph

Weather delays second levee blast

Maj. General Walsh called this flooding unprecedented and historic.

He said boat operators, labors, scientists, engineers, and truck drivers all told him the same thing.

"I never thought I would see the day that the river would reach these levels."

He said public safety was his number one issue in initiating the plan to blow parts of the levee.

"Safety is our number one priority," Walsh said. "And that was the main reason we stood down operations last night during lightning storms."

River graph is really impressive. Like when an ice dam blows.

Liked the photos in your second link.

Weather Underground has more here.

"Major General Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers... stated: "The Project Flood is upon us. This is the flood that engineers envisioned following the 1927 flood. It is testing the system like never before."


This is a design projection over 75 years old, with dikes that were built with a variety of techniques over time, and variably maintained. It'll be pretty impressive if all the levees hold with a test nearing design maximum (even assuming some over-design, a 90% stress test will push the envelope for this many miles of levees).

Note that there is only about a 15% chance that a 500-year event will happen in 75 years, so it's questionable whether the design target was sufficiently conservative. Still, it's been amazingly good for a bunch of depression-era engineers with slide-rules and transits instead of computer simulations, satellites, and GPS.

Probably the more GPS and computers involved the more prone we are to cutting corners and doing it wrong. The bean counters can then dial back the designs in silico to "save money."

It's not the first time or the last to blow a levee.


Having spent a decade in St. Louis, I can tell you that floods and levee breaches are a regular occurrence. In 1993 they moved the entire farming town of Vallmayer, Illinois 400 ft up the bluff. A story during the flooding of 2008 is worth a read: ll. town finds life does go on after floods.

That article described the government program put in place to move floodplain towns out of harms way:

Since the floods of 1993, FEMA has distributed more than $1 billion in grants to fund the removal or relocation of about 12,000 structures in flood-prone areas across the Midwest, most of them along the Mississippi and its tributaries. Yet that's a small percentage of the number of homes and businesses in flood plains that have been swamped in recent days.

Many communities have passed up the grants because they are unable to match federal funding. Under the voluntary program, property owners agree to be bought out so they can use the money to build elsewhere. Then the community must allow the land to revert to its natural state as a park or open space. It cannot be redeveloped.

The government (FEMA) took an extremely sensible approach here, encouraging folks to move without forcing them to. The smart folks took early advantage of the offer and the rest will be forced out when nature decides it is time. In a place with a history of flooding, (i.e. once a decade) you know it will happen again. Insurance bailouts and having the Corps of Engineers subsidize levee reconstruction are the only things keeping some of these towns alive.


We once had a place on the upper Missouri. Even tho the farmhouse was well above the floodplain, I always was antsy in the spring, perhaps foolishly fearful of a dam failure. The normal high water fluctuation was enough to really question where some folks were allowed to build as waterfront skyrocketed.

I guess I wasn't fearful enough. Our present ranch's house sits only yards from the debris sweep of a dam failure 40+ yrs ago, even though we're up on the side of a mountain. The dam breach was on a small tributary stream running above and over from the house.

I thought I read the same section was blown up in the 37 floods. Sacrificing a sparsely popoulated area to remove pressure threatening more populated areas is a normal flood control measure. I do hope the status of the floodway was hidden from buyers.

I had to laugh at the link "Ill. Town Evacuated..." Ill town, indeed. Cairo, Illinois had a population of over 15,000 in 1920; it now stands at 2800, down from 3600 ten years ago.

It may be a preview of what is to come. In fact, many towns in Southern Illinois resemble Cairo, although perhaps not quite as abandoned. There are several towns that grew rapidly in the early 20th Century, then busted as the oil ran out and the coal was deemed to be too high in sulfur.

If you want to hide out and live cheaply, there are houses in many towns in So. Illinois for under $20,000. Real houses on large lots, not trailers.

Hagens and Kunstler - Slightly differing takes on the same problem:


They may not be noble, or admirable, or even likeable, but oil companies are providing a critical service to society and playing by the rules created by you and me and the people we voted for. Though gasoline is expensive relative to what we have become accustomed to, it is still incredibly cheap in what it can accomplish for us. In the face of resource depletion, it is time we not only wake up to the realities of our natural resource situation, but also grow up — by making hard choices instead of blaming whomever seems to be the bad guy du jour.

.... and Kunstler:

This morning, Bloomberg is putting out a story that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped - from $113 to 112 - because Bin Laden was tossed into the sea. How long will that state of affairs last, I wonder. Through eleven o'clock in the morning, Eastern time? Lying is the new normal. Ignorance is one thing, lying to ourselves all the time, about absolutely everything, is something else. The least you can say about it is that it does not help us prepare for the very different everyday reality that we are moving into: a world made by hand.

Humans need their boogeymen, guys. Not sure why......

a bit of context on my piece. I didn't feel compelled to write it, but a major NY newspaper emailed TOD asking for an Op-ed asking for our take on the Exxon earnings and they needed it within 24 hours. After spending 5 hours on it, they emailed me back saying 'sorry, this doesnt work. It's not too convincing'. I guess even Op-eds must have targeted messages which is why I haven't written for newspapers much..;-)

C'mon, Nate. It's a nice piece, and accurate. We, the people, do need to cast out our demons, and, as Jim says, stop lying to ourselves. It's our only hope.......
...[holds breath]...

Nate you just needed a snappy title like....

We have meet the real Boogie Man and he is US.

"We have meet the real Boogie Man and he is US." versus "Nate Hagens: Complaining about mosquito bites while a crocodile bites our leg"

As Nate states:

It turns out that cheap energy and cheap money may not be our God-given rights as Americans.

Though gasoline is expensive relative to what we have become accustomed to, it is still incredibly cheap in what it can accomplish for us.

In the face of resource depletion, it is time we not only wake up to the realities of our natural resource situation, but also grow up — by making hard choices instead of blaming whomever seems to be the bad guy du jour.

The challenges are immense. Lets not wait till the pumps run dry before we act. The sooner we start making hard choices, the better.

There are a huge number of things that could be done to improve the efficiency of our nation. I'll throw out two ideas for starters - one big, one small, but both steps in the right direction.

  • Raise federal fuel taxes (I suggest $1.00 per gallon (26.4 cents per liter) implemented in annual steps over 5 years.
  • Eliminate the penny (1 cent coin). Round all purchases to the nearest 5 cents. (More than two-thirds of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint are pennies. In 2010 the cost to mint a penny was 1.79 cents each, more than the value of the penny.)
  • Do you have any efficiency improvement suggestions for the United States?

    We could do more of some of the things that are happening now:
    - trading down to smaller SUVs and for hatchbacks, eurowagons, and small sedans,
    - driving less (gas consumption is down 1.6% year-over-year while the GDP is up a few percent),
    - stop converting farmland to residential developments (only a few age-restricted retirement devleopments are still active around here),
    - build more apartments and condos near train and bus routes (a major apartment complex replaced a small nursery/garden center a couple miles from a rail station),
    - shift freight from truck to rail (intermodal container rail shipments are growing briskly),
    - reduce flying (airline seat miles are pretty flat),
    - implement more urban/suburban casinos (the slots at Philadelphia Park and Yonkers Raceway are a big success and reducing travel to more remote casinos like Atlantic City),
    - implement more inter-city curb-to-curb bus routes (if the bus companies like MegaBus and Bolt can get coaches faster), and
    - take more rapid transit (ridership is up).

    Merrill, thanks for taking the time to share your suggestions.

    On the "shift freight from truck to rail" idea, do you see anything driving that shift other than higher fuel prices?

    There are other factors such as better freight routing, train makeup, and handoff between railroads; removing clearance obstacles to double-stack container well cars; and growing use of domestic 8'6" x 9'6" x 53' containers that carry the same freight as a maximum size semi-trailer (compared with 8' x 8' x 40' sea-going containers).

    Merrill, thanks for the feedback.
    I was familiar about the double-stack issue with clearance obstacles.

    Are all new containers being built to the 8'6" x 9'6" x 53' dimension? Can ships accommodate these larger containers?

    Recently, I saw an article (CNN I think) that the steel factories in China are going full-tilt making containers.

    Once I read that a significant number of containers fall overboard at sea. It seems almost unbelievable. Do you know it that is true?

    There is limited use of 53 foot containers on ships. New container manufacture for the US domestic intermodal market is trending to 53 instead of the 48 and 45 foot containers.

    Nah. The U.S. is operating at absolute highest efficiency possible.

    You jest tstreet...

    Don't you have even one suggestion for us?


    Eat dead people. Pretend like it is an honor.

    Eat dead people. Pretend like it is an honor.

    Better yet, make becoming food seem attractive. "Soylent Green is PEOPLE!"

    Walk, bicycle, transit... do less with less. Can't hurt.

    A simpler one is pick your own retirement pension date [within a range]. 45?? whatever..10 years of medical intervention afterwards, then pain relief only [perhaps dentistry]. Your 'choice'.

    That "choice" went into my living will. After age eighty, all I want is painkillers--the more the better, so that I will probably be able to die a simple, comfortable, dignified death. I have DNR instructions in my living will, too. Then my body is to be given to the University of Minnesota school of medicine, so that the students will be able to carve up my cadaver. What a waste just to burn or bury a cadavar . . . .


    Liquor works just as well as painkillers. I've got a bottle of Bacardi 151 in the stash, I can give you a few "shots" should you need them.

    I told my wife to throw me in the flower bed. I bet those flowers would smell better then I do :)

    Thanks for the thoughtful offer. I think I will be able to comfort my last days and hours with my favorite Scotch whisky, The Dalwhinnie, and if I cannot afford this luxury then pink gin (i.e. three dashes of Angostura bitters followed by a dollop of gin, the drink of the British Royal Navy officers).

    I do not think it morbid at all to think of ways to die with dignity. So many people end up hooked up to IVs on ventilators, etc., and to what point? Why retain vital signs when life is over? I plan to live to the fullest until it is time to die, but when Nature says it is time to check out, I'm not going to strive for a slightly later (and far more miserable) check-out time.

    Do you have any efficiency improvement suggestions for the United States?

    Firstly, I'd change your first suggestion:

    • Raise federal fuel taxes (I suggest $1.00 per gallon (26.4 cents per liter)) implemented in annual steps over each year for 5 years so that in five years the additional tax is $5/gallon.

    Then I'd change your second suggestion:

    • Eliminate the penny (1 cent coin) and the nickel (5 cent coin). Round all purchases to the nearest 5 10 cents.

    The nickel costs about nine cents to manufacture.

    Then some additional suggestions:

    • Really simplify the tax system so most tax accountants, taxation lawyers and a lot of software companies are redundant.
    • Adopt European vehicle pollution and safety standards, thus allowing the import of efficient European vehicle designs.
    • Tax road vehicles in proportion to the damage they do to the roads: for each axle and in proportion the the fourth power of the axle load. Such a road tax system would greatly increase the financial incentive to avoid road transport, either by using local products or shipping by water or rail. There would be large savings in road maintenance as a result.

    Ird, thank you for your suggstions.

    My fuel tax proposal generated a "weak tea" comment on a previous posting. I'm open to "stonger tea" if needed. I wonder if given a choice between rationing and a higher tax how high of a tax people would accept. Any thoughts?

    The nickel costs about nine cents to manufacture.

    On eliminating the nickel also, I understand the production loss, however I feel it would be much harder for people to accept it being eliminated. Only 1/8 as many nickels as pennys are needed (due to a dime equaling two nickels). The loss in 2010 is about $32 million for the pennys and $20 million on the nickels.

    In 2010 the following were minted:
    Penny (1 cent) 4.0 billion
    Nickel (5 cents) 0.5 billion
    Dime (10 cents) 1.1 billion
    Quarter (25 cents) 0.3 billion

    Another money related suggestion would be to eliminate the mint mark (e.g. D for Denver) on all coins to reduce coins lost from circulation due to collecting.

    The penny is an absolute waste of money - Australia did away with that almost two decades ago.
    For that matter, so is the $1 bill - Both Aust and Canada got rid of those and went to $1 and $2 coins decades ago, saves a lot of waste printing.

    And then, to ago a step further in no wasting money on money, you print plastic notes, as Australia has done for two decades - last much longer, waterproof and much harder to counterfeit.


    I guess you could also make an argument that it is harder to "just print" plastic money!

    Paper money was invented by the Chinese in the 7th century - it's about time to move and leave the paper to the collectors.

    Cotton farmers in the South will go nuts if they got rid of paper dollars. Look at the subsidies at risk to print that money. LMAO. You bet they are the first to block any legislation to phase out any paper money.

    US Bills are composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton; red and blue synthetic fibers are distributed throughout the paper. I do not think the synthetic fibers crowd would care though ;-)

    Ha - the cotton farmers - a real case of $in - $ out!

    Or, that money does grow on "trees"

    Paul Nash, thanks for you comments about the paper money.

    Supposedly small coins like pennies and nickels help keep down inflation. The idea, supposedly, is that if you have small coins prices can increase by the actual cost increase, if small change isn't available prices will rise more. for example if something costs $7.50 and materials get 1% more expensive shopkeepers should then charge $7.58 but if pennies are rare or non-existent the price might rise to $7.60 or even $8.00

    I say supposedly because I don't really buy it.

    I say supposedly because I don't really buy it.

    synchroGENized, I agree with you.

    Sometimes the prices will round up, but other times they will round down. It should be a wash.
    The price of an individual item can still be in cents, just the overall purchase would be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.

    I have been advocating getting rid of pennies and nickels for decades now. There would be a slight (very slight) one-time boost to the inflation numbers from this change, because most businesses will round up rather than round down. I'd rather pay $4.00 for gasoline rather than the $3.999 that I pay now. The increase in price in this case would not be noticeable, except that the psychological effect of "$4.00 for a gallon--egads!" has some effect.

    There is a lot of research in the field of business administration on the impact of these small changes in price, research that explains why $3.99 is felt differently by the consumer than $4.00. I think economists have also done research on this topic, but not so much as has been done by graduate schools of business.

    Hello Don, I appreciate your insights.

    I helped a friend move last year. The kids left the pennies on the floor.

    Nor should you buy it.

    When this was introduced in Australia, all the grandmas were saying the same thing, but it didn't happen.

    The price at the register was rounded, and you very quickly had store X announcing that "we round down". Grocery stores are just too competitive to have much game playing like this, so most items are still priced things like 97c or whatever. Nowadays when most purchases are on plastic you don't even need to round up or down.

    The other, significant difference in the Australian system is that any and all taxes are included in the advertised price for anything. So if says $9.95, that is what you pay, not like here (Canada) where the $9.95 ends up being $11.14. Even if pennies were retained, making this change would get rid of a lot of the need for the damn things.

    Adopt European vehicle pollution and safety standards, thus allowing the import of efficient European vehicle designs.

    That's one I would like to see also! I would like to buy a new car to replace a gas hog pickup, but I am waiting to get one of the European Ford Fiestas that get 55-65 MPG (US Gallon)or the new VW 1 liter car that gets almost 100 MPG. Buying a US 38-40 MPG car just doesn't cash flow for me.
    I expect to be waiting a loooooooong time.

    Cold fusion: Swedish magazine Ny teknik tested the energy catalyzer.

    Ny Teknik recently participated in two new tests of the Italian ‘energy catalyzer’, providing more accurate measurements to reduce possible error sources.


    The results of the two tests showed a developed net power of between 2.3 and 2.6 kilowatts – of the order of a large stove plate. Input electric power was in the order of 300 watts.

    Being a student in sustainable technology at The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, this development is very interesting to follow.

    Nice to see they're attempting to dispel the concerns about wireless energy transfer etc.

    This just won't go away will it? Wouldn't it be fascinating if it turned out to be the real deal?

    From the article, a nice gem :
    "The heat is generated from an unknown reaction, according to Rossi himself, and according to Professor Sven Kullander and Associate Professor Hanno Essén probably a nuclear reaction"

    Actually ,where did that water-propelled car end up?

    Well, to be fair many reactions that were observed in the past were 'unknown' as the science of the era couldn't explain it. Just because Rossi can't explain what's going on isn't a valid reason to rule anything out.

    The thing that makes it all the more intriguing is that Kullander and Essén are reputable scientists.

    Well - at this point in time - my take is that science has 'matured' in the sense that if you are sitting on what appears to be an 'eternity machine able to free the entire World from the Olduvai Gorge' you would get your act together to document your findings discretely and then file for a patent when due.

    Also they better do an EROEI analysis on their input-ingredients to ensure not "all" their magically generated output - actually were used upfront to generate the ingredients...

    The proof is in the pudding.Just my 5 cents

    Perhaps so. But, then again it's worth remembering that not everyone is entirely materialistically driven (yet).

    Having said that, they have attempted to file a patent but it was rejected for being too vague.

    We'll just have to see what happens. As they say, the proof is in the pudding..

    Actually ,where did that water-propelled car end up?

    paal myrtvedt, it is a good news / bad news story.

    The bad news: I don't have the actual water-propelled car.

    The good news: A friend of mine has the plans for the water-propelled car.

    I can send you a copy of the plans absolutely free, if you send me $5,000 to help my friend with his car project.

    Ooh, ooh! Can I get in on this?

    Twinkling in the sky is a diamond star of 10 billion trillion trillion carats, astronomers have discovered.

    paal myrtvedt, gives a new meaning to "Twinkle, twinkle, little star"

    Show me the gammas...

    The new tests with the energy catalyzer, which seems to generate heat by an unknown nuclear reaction,...

    Okay, they put 300 watts into this device and got 2.3 kilowatts out. This "free energy" came from somewhere unknown but probably from some kind of unknown cold nuclear fusion somewhere... somehow...

    P. T. Barnum was right, a sucker is born every minute. Now there is at least a billion or more who are ready and willing to believe such crap as this.

    Ron P.

    I don't think Rossi et al are suggesting the energy came out of the ether if that's what you mean.

    They claim a reaction between nickel and hydrogen is taking place, but they can't explain the mechanism behind the reaction.

    No, they are not claiming it comes from the ether, they are claiming it is a nuclear reaction not a chemical reaction. That means it's a scam! Either that or these guys are not as smart as you seen to believe they are.

    Ron P.

    Haha, well I don't know how smart I think they are. I'm not saying that I believe they've cracked it, I would just like to see it irrefutably debunked (by reputable scientists) before dismissing it.

    No, no, you have it backwards. You need to see the second law of thermodynamics debunked before you can give it serious consideration. And until that happens the claim that somehow they got many times the energy out as energy they put in needs to be dismissed. The idea that it was caused by some very mysterious form of cold fusion is just not credible.

    Most likely, if it really happened, it was caused by some form of chemical reaction, a type of battery that will eventually destroy the anode. This is what Hot Air suggest below.

    Ron P.

    But thermodynamics is precisely the concept that's causing the mystery here! There's no known chemical reaction of which 50 cm3 could produce the amount of steam that this thing is producing. When was the last time you saw a battery, 3 inches of a side, that can output 6kWh??

    Even 50cm3 of this newly developed 'ultra battery' would only be able to output a hundredth of the required energy. (XeF2 is ~4 times as dense as water so 50*4 = 200g @ 1kJ per gram = 0.06kWh)

    The only thing that will stop me pondering is if a reputable scientist (such as Kullander/Essén) thoroughly investigates the apparatus and declares once and for all that they've found evidence of a scam/tampering. So far these (apparently impartial) scientists are saying that this mysterious 50cm3 box is producing 6kWh worth of steam. That's the bottom line and why the situation is so interesting.

    Well the measurement may not be faked, perhaps some chemical (not nuclear) changes are taking place in the sample. Electric current through ionic liquids has a tendency to cause corrosion, and that might be liberating some heat. Really you would have to run the thing for a while, then put the stuff through a mass spectrometer and try to figure out what changed. Until that, you are vulnerable to being duped.

    I'm pretty much with Darwinian here, extraordinary claims require extraordinary confirmation, and anything that claims cold fusion is pretty extraordinary. There have been plenty of scams already. You can't simply put trust in these people, but got to get a really first class lab to investigate.

    But just read my comment above - assuming the measurements aren't faked there's NO known chemical reaction on earth that could produce that kind of energy! Corrosion or no corrosion - we're talking about 6kWh here!!

    That's why it's so intriguing!

    I posted Nytekniks last article here on theoildrum, here.
    From that article:

    “In some way a new kind of physics is taking place. It’s enigmatic, but probably no new laws of nature are involved. We believe it is possible to explain the process with known laws of nature,” said Hanno Essén, associate professor of theoretical physics and a lecturer at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and chairman member of the board (chairman until April 2) of the Swedish Skeptics Society.

    Essén and Professor Emeritus at Uppsala University Sven Kullander, also chairman of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Energy Committee, both participated on 29 March as observers at a new trial in Bologna of the so-called ‘energy catalyzer’, which could be based on cold fusion, or LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reaction.

    Having followed this for some time, i think the probability of a scam is quite low. For example, Rossi has invested his own money, about 10 million euros, into developing this, and (so far) he is not looking for investors. I guess we will know in the fall, but i remain hopeful.
    And remember, Rossi is not a physicist, he is and inventor and engineer trying to develop his gizmo.

    We call that Dilbert Free Energy in my class.


    Its a scam.

    The energy they report is easily obtained from chemical reactions. The last one I saw like this was patented, and there was enough detail in the patent to see that the actual energy source was corrosion of the electrodes, but there isn't enough detail in that article to tell what is going on here.

    Ni-Fe battery, perhaps?

    If there are no hidden wires / energy sources etc. you certainly couldn't get enough energy from a chemical reaction - it's only 50 cm3!

    You'd need over 10 times that amount of crude oil to provide ~6kWh

    For comparison an ideal 50 cm3 cube of thermite would only provide around 0.2kWh:

    So then, 159.70 g of Fe2O3 + 53.96 g of Al (213.66 g total) produces 849 kJ of energy, or 3.974 kJ/g = 3.974 x 10+3 kJ/kg (Note that this gives the proper % component mixtures by weight).

    For an infinitesimally compacted powder mixture, this would occupy a volume of 159.70g x (cm3/5.24 g) + 53.96 g x (cm3/2.699 g) = (30.48 + 20.0) cm3 = 50.48 cm3.



    Were any neutrons or gammas or any radiation produced?

    Apparently not. Or at least not enough to be detected.

    Kjell Aleklett, who has his office next to Sven Kullander, who has studied the energy catalizer, wrote on his blog:
    Rossi energy catalyst – a big hoax or new physics?

    The radioactive isotope that can be formed, especially Cu-59, decays by beta plus decay and this decay has always the gamma energy 511 keV, an energy that is easy to detect. So far has the gamma ray has not been detected.

    And also, the 18 hour test they did ruled out any chemical source.

    I think it's a scam, too. Their patent was rejected. They were rejected from peer-reviewed journals and so created their own to publish their work.

    The time frames especially seems awfully suspicious to me. They claim to already have one plant working, and that there will be mass production by the end of the year.

    That last bit is what reeks of "scam" to me. These energy scams always claim the plant/product will be built soon. Scientists discovering a real new source of energy might get carried away with what might be possible, but never promise it by the end of the year.

    Another data point or two, via ATS.

    Andrea Rossi's "diploma" is from a diploma mill that has since been shut down.

    The board of advisers for his supposed physics journal includes "Prof. George Kelly" of UNH. There is no George Kelly at UNH. There used to be one, but he died in 1967. And he was psychologist, not a physicist as claimed.

    This is looking as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

    Ha! That's pretty damning..

    And, not to forget, zero articles in the newspapers. Here
    in Germany ASPO as well as other like minded organisations
    do not seem to exist. Instead I saw an interview with a
    scientist about her new eco lifestyle, which, hoorray,
    includes one car in place of two for the family (mind you
    they live in a city) and other heroic steps to save the
    planet. So much for advanced societies in Europe.

    We do not want to hear about it. Please spare us the bad
    news and help us enjoy life a bit more! No articles on
    the oil crunch, please!

    -- Marcus K

    PS: I support the idea of videos. I wasn't there and
    would like to see what the debate was like. Udo Bardi's
    commentary seemed on target, though, judging from the
    discussion I saw elsewhere.

    This will be of limited use here, as this is just for Spanish speaking readers, but in Crisis Energética (ASPO Spain's website) I wrote three short chronicles about the three ASPO days in Belgium (one, two, three)

    From "Over a Barrel: Behind The Great Oil Price Smokescreen", up top:

    Between bouts of kicking themselves for buying the SUV instead of the Prius...

    Back in 2008 when gas prices were high, I noticed in my neighborhood numerous used pickups and SUVs for sale by owner.

    I have not noticed an large number for sale this year. I wonder if the "Cash for Clunkers" program from a couple of years ago reduced today's supply of used pickups and SUVs.

    ~ Has anyone else noticed an increased number of used pickups and SUVs for sale by owner?

    Here where I live it's a pretty affluent area and it borders a rural area.
    There are lots and lots of SUVs and pick-up trucks.....and also lots and lots of Prii. This is prime Prius habitat. Also prime SUV and pick-up habitat.
    I own one of each, myself;-)
    Anecdotes will vary widely with region.

    Riding around my area in wekends, I concluded (anecdotally of course) that a Prius is about a likely to share the driveway with a PU or SUV, and with an economy vehicle. And that makes sense, have one big capable vehicle for when you really need those capabilities, and something efficient for all those commutes and trips to the market. That was the theory I operated on a few years ago. I think I've graduated to being able to do away with the big one now.

    Most new SUVs in the town are CR-V, RAV-4, and Forrester sized vehicles. There are fewer and fewer pickup-chassis based SUVs around. Small wagons, such as the Jetta and Passat wagons are making a comeback, and 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks are appearing in some numbers.

    People are in a much better position to withstand $140 / barrel oil than in 2008. One commentator said this morning that the economy could withstand $200 / barrel.

    One commentator said this morning that the economy could withstand $200 / barrel.

    I'm not sure if by saing "could withstand" means not be in recession, or something else.

    I know Matt Simmons made a bet once. I'd propose a bet to this "commentator". It only applies for the next 3 years, not the next 20 years.

    I'll bet him/her a dollar that the US economy will enter a recession within 6 months of the time the price of oil goes over, and stays over, $200 per barrel.

    What do you think?

    It's not just about cost per barrel, but more a matter of cost per barrel over time. My thinking is, anything much over $45/brl will lead to a recession eventually, but it will take longer than it will at $80/brl which will take longer than $120/brl, etc.

    Obviously, I can't predict the future, but I'd be surprised if at $110/brl we avoid a recession by the middle to end of next winter. I think that with declining GDP this last quarter (but still in positive territory), we're heading into another recession right now (not that I think we ever exited the last one, really).

    $45/bbl is your recession threshold?
    Looks like recession is the new normal then - which it certainly is, at present.

    I do and don't agree with you here. The US economy, as presently structured, may well be vulnerable to prices over $45, but if that is the case, then the US better restructure, and fast, because oil will never be back down at $45 again, (for any length of time).
    So, for a properly adjusted economy $45 is now problem, and neither is $100, or $150.

    It's making those "adjustments" that is the hard part, of course, and everyone wants everyone else to "adjust" first.

    Last quarter's GDP was weak because of cuts in government spending and a shrinking of the trade deficit. Both of these are good things. What really matters is keeping the private sector consumption and especially private sector investment robust.

    How did a shrinking trade deficit lead to weak GDP growth numbers? When the U.S. exports more, the trade deficit tends to go down. Imports do not affect Gross DOMESTIC Product numbers, except to the extent that when we import more we may produce fewer of the type of goods that we used to produce domestically.

    I should have said the "widening trade deficit". Exports are added to GDP, while imports are subtracted from GDP.

    X (exports) represents gross exports. GDP captures the amount a country produces, including goods and services produced for other nations' consumption, therefore exports are added.
    M (imports) represents gross imports. Imports are subtracted since imported goods will be included in the terms G, I, or C, and must be deducted to avoid counting foreign supply as domestic.

    No, imports are NOT subtracted from GDP. Imports are subtracted from total spending or from aggregate demand to obtain GDP from total spending data.

    See Table 3 of GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT: FIRST QUARTER 2011 (ADVANCE ESTIMATE). GDP is calculated by BEA on the basis of "Net exports of goods and services", i.e. exports minus imports.

    See also Measuring the Economy - A Primer on GDP and the National Income and Product Accounts page 4 -- "GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government spending + eXports – iMports)"

    The point is that net imports are SUBTRACTED from total spending to get GDP; because the U.S. has a deficit in the balance of trade GDP is smaller than total spending, which of course = C + I + G + X. In other words, GDP is smaller than total spending; imports do not cause anything to be subtracted from the GDP number.

    This was the point of a post I did a while back: It's the Area Under the Curve!

    What counts is the "back-pressure" build up that acts as a drag on the economy. Hard asset constructions will be around for a while, but the energy used in their construction is gone (to heat) forever. Net energy available to do economic work is already in decline (post net peak) by several indications. The price of raw oil is just a leading indicator of the combined effects of diminishing extraction rates and declining well head EROI.

    The pressure builds up forcing our financial institutions abetted by government to do all sorts of risky things to make it look like the GDP is growing (every derivative trade records as an income producing transaction). The pressure creates various kinds of financial bubbles (like housing appreciation) that eventually have to pop with a clear signal of recession unavoidable. The pressure is now quite high (as is wall street). Look for another recession in a location near you soon.


    In 2007/2008 the economy in the "sand states" was heavily dependent on new residential construction in areas away from the major metro areas. This was the era of Carlton Sheets selling get rich quick tapes showing how you could buy houses with no money down, refi out your profits, buy more houses, etc.

    The rising gas prices made housing in far-flung developments unattractive, this sent prices down, mortgages got into trouble, developers got into trouble, homeowners walked away in the non-recourse mortgage states, mortgage backed securities craters, and the financial system went into liquidity shock due to "mark to market" accounting.

    But far-flung housing development has stopped, new mortgages require 20-30% down, and the non-bank mortgage business is gone. The same risk factors don't currently exist. Consequently, prices well above $140 would be required to put the economy back into recession. It would probably take prices above $200 / barrel.

    new mortgages require 20-30% down

    Just sold my house to my renters, they got 3.5% down with F.H.A. It is still around, and you and I and everyone else are back-stopping it.

    Just took me 6 weeks of scouring Craigslist to find the used car we really wanted: low mileage, high-MPG Scion xA. was also looking for high-MPG Elantra. They are tough to find here (NorCal) and dealers are buying them off of Craiglist just after posting then re-posting for 30% more.

    I really like the car, it is the first one I've owned since the end of '04. Didn't want to go back to car ownership, and hope it will be temporary as I look for work near home.

    We got 41MPG on the first tank, all highway driving but with A/C on for quite a while. AWESOME!

    Hey! It's election day in Canada! And it's setting up to be historic in every possible way with the perennial "3rd party" leftist New Democrats likely becoming the Official Opposition with the added possibility of disallowing the Conservatives from governing after the election and forming a coalition to government from the left.

    This would have major implications on the Energy industry in Canada! The NDP propose a Cap and Trade program to enforce hard (rather than "intensity") limits on CO2 emissions, increased corporate taxes (16.5% to 19.5%) and an end to corporate subsidies on fossil fuel.

    The first national results will start flowing when polls close on the West Coast at 7PM PST, 10PM EST.

    Jack Layton reminds me a lot about Nick Clegg, the fallen angel of British politics.

    The similarities are striking:

    - Both head parties that have never really tasted power, but are now surging/have surged mostly on pure hype.

    - Both are very similar in their way of being relaxed, and trying to distance themselves from the older parties. I even noticed they used the same body language(pointing both thumbs at the other two, while standing in the middle, and sighing: 'this is exactly what is turning people off of politics' or 'this is exaclty what is wrong with old politics' etc).

    - Both even have yellow as their main party colours! And not to mention both are liberals and quite bland, which makes them fit in, rather than stand out.

    I could go on, but judging by what happened to Nick Clegg(perhaps the most hated man in Britain, but certainly in politics), I doubt that Laytonmania(or the Laytonsurge) will manifest itself into something longterm if he indeed upsets and trumps the Tories.

    That said, I think Ignatieff is a horrible politican with zero principles(that is, even less than most politicians usually have, which is bad enough) and his attendance record is awful.
    Harper's a megalomaniac; a sterile, unemotional robot lusting for power.

    Layton's charming but I don't find him very substantive.
    My personal favourite, as a non-Canadian who can be as irresponsible as I please, is Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc. That man is brilliant. It's almost as if he can't even answer a normal question without lashing out like a primadonna. He's so catty, and hence, fabolous.

    If I were a Canuck, however, Layton would probably be better than anything else on the table although I don't vote(actually it's pointless to vote. There's never been an election in history that was decided by a single vote, so it's statistically pointless to vote. But, alas, there is a Kantian dimension to this too, of course).

    Well said. As a Canadian, and westerner, we get pretty sick of the Bloc. But Duceppe is an awesome leader. Having said that, as a rule the more education the voter has the less likely that voter will vote Conservative. Our family votes NDP, because we are working people and know he is on our side as much as any politician might be.

    As in anything political, hold your nose and hope for the best.


    Duceppe can be an "awesome leader" because he has no real responsibility. He can say whatever he wants, and espouse any policy, because he will never have to implement it and be judged on the results.
    And the ONE policy he is supposed to implement, Quebec separation, or at least, another referendum, he refuses to because he knows he will lose.
    So, in the meantime , all he needs to do make himself look good at the others expense - which is something he is both good at, and not hard to do.

    Jack Layton, until now, never had to worry much about his policies being implemented either, so he could cherry pick the things that sounded appealing without worrying about the costs/consequences of them. if he becomes the official opposition, then good for him, but with that comes responsibility - which the NDP hasn't really had at the federal level.

    Personally, I think Ignatieff is the most smug politician I have ever seen. Not arrogant, or blustery, just smug.

    Harper is where he is partly by default - as the other parties are worse, but he has not been able to exploit the split between Lib and NDP,which is why he is a minority PM - and a very characterless one at that. if he doesn't get a majority tonight I don;t think he'll be leading them into the next election, though I don't see anyone else inspiring to replace him.

    Cdn politics is very boring and middle of the road - that's better than extremism to be sure, but it a has the feeling of a slow train just trundling along, which is why 1/3 of the people don;t vote.

    Mandatory voting would fix that tomorrow, but for some reason people seem to think that is some kind of infringement on their rights. Without strong voting there is not strong government, but I think that;'s the way Canadians want it, and it is certainly what they get.

    Mandatory voting would fix that tomorrow, but for some reason people seem to think that is some kind of infringement on their rights.

    That's because it is. I have the right not to participate in the voting charade if I choose it. As for mandatory voting improving the government, ask if Australia is that much better goverened than Canada. Or the US, for that matter.

    Actually, i think Australia is better governed than Canada or the US. The level of disrespect for politicians there is not as low as it is here (Canada), or what I observe in the US.

    Also, what I observe here is the ability of well organised minority groups to wield undue influence on government, which is apparent in the current Canadian election campaign.

    I guess we disagree ion the question of infringement of rights. I think being require to vote is nor more an infringement than being required to do a tax return, or fill out a census form, or do jury duty etc. You have the right to spoil your ballot, but, in my opinion it is you obligation as a citizen, to have to show up to vote and actively make a decision to do so. A high % of spoiled ballots, the "Informal" vote indicates a high level of voter dissatisfaction with the both parties, and that has happened in Australia in the past.

    Whatever else may be said, for good or ill, about representative democracy, mandatory voting ensures that the result is truly the opinion of the entire country on that day, and the validity of the government's mandate is not in doubt.

    This does not mean everything is perfect - no system is. But at least the opinions of the electorate are not in doubt because people were too lazy to vote.

    Well, to answer my own statements - the election is all over in Canada tonight. What started out as a boring campaign expected to produce more of the same has been a night of the unexpected.

    The Conservative party, which had a minority, has been returned and has won a clear majority.
    The Opposition Liberals have ben reduced by more than half, and are now the third party.
    Jack Layton's New Democratic party (left of the Liberals) will be the official opposition
    And the Bloc Quebecois has been all but wiped out - from 45 of the 75 Quebec seats to just 2 or 3, and leader Gilles Duceppe has lost his seat.

    And, to top off an eventful night, Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green party, has won a seat (defeating a Conservative cabinet minister), the first time ever that a Green party candidate has won.

    So a very different political landscape, and arguably, a sharper left-right separation now.

    Having said Cdns don;t want a strong government, what they now have is a strong government, and a strong opposition, and the Quebec separatist consigned to the dustbin - all good things in my opinion.

    terrific results.

    Give me a boring country anyday and I'll just have to entertain myself with great fishing, clean water, good land, space space space, freedon to speak and do, and with the coming demise of the long gun registry...a chance to re-arm, (just kidding), a polite society, and if I get hurt ...a medical plan.

    Boring is just fine, than you very much. Can you imagine a country trying to overcome public embarrassment by having a 'Donald' say he is going to run as leader? At least with a Parliamentary Democracy a leader has to earn his/her spurs and actually have support....not just money and rich friends.

    A Green rep in NA says so much in light of Fukisima Daiichi and GW. WOW.

    When we voted yesterday both my wife and I commented on how good it felt to vote and how proud we were of our country...how lucky we were.

    Anyway, very good rssults IMHO.


    I can't really disagree on anything you said there... except for the very last part about voting.

    Actually, *many* elections have been decided by a handful of votes, one vote? Perhaps not. But in an election of millions of votes.. a riding that is decided by 100 votes or less really is the same as being decided by just one. And with the Canadian political landscape *up until tonight* being a perpetual minority zone due to the Bloc taking Quebec off the electoral map, then one riding of the 308 can really make the difference between a Harper Majority, or Minority, or an NDP/Lib coalition, or not... or more of the same...

    In short. There is no excuse not to vote. If you don't like the choices, spoil the ballot and register your disdain!

    Per the article, up top:
    "What steps should Congress take to lower gas prices?"

    Now averaging $3.88 a gallon nationwide, gas prices have jumped 37% so far this year and have more than doubled since President Barack Obama took office.

    Per AAA, today's average is even higher, now at $3.952 per gallon of regular gas.

    The article gives two choices. Repeal oil-company tax breaks and/or expand offshore drilling.

    I think it is important to focus not just on the price but our usage as well. I'd re-frame the question as follows:
    "What steps should Congress take to lower oil demand and minimize gas price increases?"

  • Raise federal gas tax 20 cents per gallon (5.3 cents per liter). Have the same increase each year for an additional four years on both gasoline and diesel.
  • Eliminate one day of US Postal delivery per week.

    The European Union has shown us that you can have higher fuel taxes than we do and that those taxes will reduce the fuel used. The fuel tax collected reduces the need for other non-fuel type taxes.

    The cutback on US Postal delivery has a minor fuel savings (maybe 75 million gallons per year), but I think it sends a message that efficiency is important.

    What suggestions do you have to reduce fuel use?

  • Relative to the energy consumption tax rates in most OECD countries, in effect the US heavily subsidizes energy consumption, especially the consumption of liquid transportation fuels. It's a little ironic that, having effectively subsidized consumption for so many decades (resulting in what Jim Kunstler called the "Biggest misallocation of resources in the history of the world," i.e., the 'burbs), the key question is how to punish the producers.

    Note that if (or more accurately when) US per capita oil consumption falls to 1949 levels, the US would still be the world's largest oil consumer* (because of population growth in the US).

    *With a per capita oil consumption level that would be higher than France's 2005 per capita consumption

    Even if I agree with the general premine/thrust of what you say, it's too late to make a significant impact. You need a horizon of about 10 years to get people used to it. People can take pretty horrible prices if they are slowly used to it. If you add 20 % fuel tax within a year or two, which is not very high compared to the 60+ % tax a country like Britain rakes in on gas prices, that's still way too much for most Americans to handle in the short term. Besides, I doubt that even if you would increase taxes by 2 % each year for 10 years straight, that it would help by now.

    We're already at the de facto peak. We need far more draconian measures now, rationing and radical conservation plans. A stiff tax just won't cut it, and it's too broad and blunt.

    ...it's too late to make a significant impact.

    Leiten, thanks for your comments.

    I agree it would have been better to raise taxes 10 years ago. However, that didn't happen and so now the task ahead is more difficult.
    If the revenue generated from the fuel tax is used to offset other taxes that are being levied, it should not be too much for Americans to handle. Yes there will be some pain from the transition.

    I agree with Leiten.
    It's too late to raise taxes.
    All that will do is weaken an already weak economy even further.

    And at this point, I disagree with raising taxes on philosophical grounds. We have glimpsed the game plan. The game plan since 2008 has been for the government to bail out the wealthy elites who have purchased the government; the biggest banks, the big corporations. TPTB aren't dopes. They know growth is over. Now, it's all about government facilitating the transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the already wealthy. All new tax dollars will simply be poured into this wealth transfer machine.

    I think that anyone who believes that making government more wealthy will somehow "save" us is naive and frankly, delusional.

    "It's too late to raise taxes..."

    What we have to look forward to is LOWER gas taxes. If gas prices stay high, or get higher, we here in the good old USA WILL start to roll back (decrease) the taxes we have. It happened in 2008 and the calls are already starting to do it now.

    The USA can't handle doing the right thing. We're going to enable people to do the wrong thing for as long as possible.

    I've been predicting this for years: Gas prices up? Gas taxes will be lowered!

    I've been predicting this for years: Gas prices up? Gas taxes will be lowered!

    got2surf, it is a sad commentary. Taking just the opposite action than what they should be doing.

    There are some very smart people in this country. Although not all of them are very intelligent. I don't remember which politians recommended the "gas tax holiday" back in 2008, do you?

    I do not recall, either. They'll probably do it again so stay tuned and we'll find out.

    Yeah I agree 100%.

    I'm a former liberal who gave up on liberalism mostly because I have given up on America. And I won't apologize to anybody for that.

    Progressive government can work in smaller, high trust, high functioning countries. And even then, it doesn't work perfectly, and causes alot of problems.

    In a larger country like the U.S., big government only results in transfer payments to favored groups - whether it be welfare queens in the ghetto, or welfare bankers on Wall Street. In such a place, middle class people who work hard and save are the suckers, and are gradually killed off, which course simultaneously destroys the country itself.

    Wow, that's grim. But before people denounce you as a conspiracy theorist, they ought to look at history first. Government is per definition run by élites, and the élite take care of themselves first and foremost('the revolving door' etc). Still, I think that they are worried about the masses, especially with the events in the Arab world so fresh in their memories.

    But they are probably worried about the massies out of fear, not because they want to protect or nurture people. I am very cynical by now.

    I have no idea how to do it in the real world but regaining some measure of control over what are considered normal speeds of travel would appear to me to be an obvious way to reduce fuel usage. There has to be a ton of fuel wasted under the premise that "oh my new, more fuel efficient Ford / Chevy Mastodon now gets 18 mpg rather than 12 mpg" and figure that this new (still pathetic) mileage applies whether doing 45, 65, or 80 mph.

    Couple that with the slick marketing whereby fuel issues with giant vehicles are no longer presented as mpg but instead as "miles between fill-ups"... well, that's about as dumb a metric as you can get - make a big enough fuel tank and sure you can get 500, 1500, 5000 miles between fill-ups but it obviously gives no idea as to the efficiency of the use of that fuel.

    I drive a fair amount each day and my observation is that when it comes to mid-size to compact cars on the open road there is a wide distribution of speeds. Larger vehicles though almost invariably are going at least 10 but typically 15+ mph above the posted limits. Those vehicles are so powerful now and have such engine overkill that speed limits of 65 or 75 mph are nothing from a driver's perception - from a fuel usage aspect though they are "burning it up".

    "...regaining...control over ... speeds of travel ... to reduce fuel usage."

    Catskill, I very much appreciate your comments.

    I think a lot of people do not realize how fuel economy suffers as speed increases. Almost everyone is in a hurry, so few are receptive to any lower speed limits.

    I'd suggest lowering the maximum speed on all highways in the United States to 65 miles per hour (104.6 km/h). Presently, the maximum speed is 80 mph (128.7 km/h).

    ..."miles between fill-ups"...

    "...make a big enough fuel tank and sure you can get 500, 1500, 5000 miles between fill-ups but it obviously gives no idea as to the efficiency of the use of that fuel."

    For this, I'd suggest a rule that you can not advertise the "miles between fill-ups". The fill-up interval could be in the car literature, but could not be used in advertising to promote the car.
    Another rule would be that you would always need to list the combined city/highway fuel economy rating for each new car advertised in an ad.

    Keep the comments coming!

    I think that your speed limit should be the speed at which your car gets 35 mpg or better.

    If a Prius gets 35 mpg at 70 mph, then that is the speed limit for a Prius.

    If a F-350 gets 35 mpg at 35 mph, then that is the speed limit for an F-350.

    This gives people an incentive to buy efficient, high-mileage vehicles. It also improves safety by limiting the speed of heavy, large cross section vehicles which do a lot of damage to other vehicles in a high-speed collision.

    Impossible to enforce in any reasonably just manner.

    As long as any reasonable valuation of personal time makes travel time much, much greater than the cost of fuel, it makes sense to drive faster and save the time while burning the fuel. I get 35-36 mpg at 65-70 and 33 at 80-85. I get there a WHOLE lot faster at 80+ than 65-. As long as gas is cheap, it only makes sense to hurry. That's the tragedy of the commons at work -- it makes no sense to argue that I'm not acting rationally, when it is the underlying system of incentives which is broken.

    Value gas much more highly and my time relatively much less, and I'll behave more fuel-efficiently rather than time-efficiently. And probably be safer, too -- that's a harder to estimate cost, but is easy to ignore anyway given my typically-human steep discount factor for low-probability fat-tail events.

    Best hopes for legislating to match human nature, rather than contrary to it.

    And that analysis doesn't even include the cost of incurring an extra hotel bill or two by prolonging a long trip. Depending on the vehicle and the available hotel, even one bill may cover a lot of travel at 80mph instead of 60...

    ...it makes sense to drive faster and save the time while burning the fuel.

    Value gas much more highly and my time relatively much less, and I'll behave more fuel-efficiently rather than time-efficiently.

    I wish I had a crystal ball to see how the speed/cost issue plays out in the future.

    However, you don't need a crystal ball, just the back of an envelope, to get a, um, crude handle on it. At http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drivehabits.shtml there is a crude graph of mileage for a generic vehicle. So turn a calibrated eyeball ;) towards the graph and consider a 600 mile leg in, say Texas:

    600 miles
    10.5 hours @ 57mph - 30mpg, 20 gal
    7.5 hours @ 80mph - 22.5mpg, 26.66 gal
    The difference is 6.66 gals to save 3 hours
    at $4 this comes to $26.66, for $8.88/hour
    at $5 it comes to $33.30, for $11.10/hour

    If you're driving under some kind of time rule (or just don't feel safe driving 10.5 hours straight through), such that the slower trip incurs a hotel bill, then it's a no-brainer to go faster. If you're on a business trip, it seems fairly likely that if somebody's willing to pay you for that many miles, your time is worth considerably more than the $11.10, i.e. you're probably not trying to make a living delivering pizzas. On another hand, if you're visiting relatives, who knows - it might be worth something extra to greet their kids before they're put to bed, or to put your own kids to bed before they get really cranky; or that might not be a factor. But you probably don't drive that far all that often, so it may not be a big deal - after all, using AAA/IRS numbers (50-some cents/mile), the one-way leg is costing you around $350 overall.

    If it's a shorter trip such as a commute, probably you can't go fast anyhow. But if you can go fast, a half-hour and an extra buck might make the difference as to whether you can get to an evening concert or civic meeting, or not. So again, who knows how "people in general" might react - but generally they just want to get home now. And of course if the car has better mileage or the mileage doesn't fall off as quickly as in the generic graph, it won't cost as much to go fast.

    The only quibble I might throw in is that the more stridently moralizing comments on travel speed will usually use an implicit value of time of essentially $0/hour. That, at least, is not likely for anyone who can afford to drive at all.

    The interesting aspect is the value of "spare time".

    Gas is cheap and time is valuable. But they are slowly converging.

    And if there are multiple people in the car, there will be a small increase in the fuel used, but the total time saved would be double for 2 people and quadruple for 4.

    At your $4 figure for 4 people it is then $2.22/hour per person + small increase for extra fuel used. Would you rather pay $2.22 or sit in the car for an extra hour?

    Well as they say, time is cheap - yet fuel, one of the most important substances on the planet, is still cheaper.

    time is cheap - yet fuel, one of the most important substances on the planet, is still cheaper.

    AdTheNad, good points.

    It makes me think about water, even more important and yet is cheaper than oil. Fortunately, water "renews" itself.

    I actually bought a mid size sedan for its stability and comfort.

    Compact cars are great for the city but they don't cut it at highway speeds, which alot of Americans travel at, whether it be commuting or long distance trips.

    There's the rub, isn't it! Just one more reason to stick a fork in her. We will only begrudgingly adopt smaller cars because they just don't hack it at the distance/speeds we are used to - plus we probably can't fit in them anymore.

    Kunstler is right. It's all about the built infrastructure, people. If we don't change that, we change nothing.

    The mid-size sedans (Civic, Corolla, Sentra) are very nice to drive at highway speeds. They should all get better than 35 mpg on the highway.

    I agree that the compacts (Fit, Yaris, Versa) are not so comfortable. And they don't get a lot better mileage.

    Ahh, but have either of you driven a Mini?

    Only got to do that once (a rental) - it s a very comfortable vehicle, and of course, fun to drive.

    When I was in Calgary I knew a guy who regularly drove to and from Vancouver (610 miles, three major mountain passes including the Rockies, about 11hrs) , summer and winter, and said the Mini was the best car for that trip of any he had ever driven. Said that it was the only car where he could drive all day to get there, and then not feel tired at the end.

    Not all small cars are that good, but they are not all bad, either. They are really at their best in stop start city driving where the lower weight does mean fuel savings.

    Agreed that most of the mid sizes are good for the hwy - especially when they are a diesel!

    (btw the Mini diesel in UK gets equivalent to 67 US mpg)

    Civic and Corolla are compacts. Accord and Camry are midsize. Fit and Yaris are subcompacts. Although admittedly, today's compacts are the midsize of yesteryear.

    My old '96 Corolla was decent on the highway, but not exactly comfortable nor quiet, and much worse than my current car.

    The dimensions on the new 2012 Civic are just a little smaller than a ten year old Accord.

    The original Honda Accord would probably be considered a sub-compact today. We talked my mother into buying one, which was great fun to drive...

    E. Swanson

    The size of the car has very little to do with how they perform on the highway; that is more a function of aerodynamics and design. I drove a '89 Honda Prelude Si for a while about 4 years ago, which was a bit noisy but very, very stable no matter how fast I drove it (I think the fastest I brought it up to was a bit over 100 mph). By today's standards that car is pretty compact, but of course it was a sports car and designed to go fast, stop, and turn, all of which it did very admirably. Incidentally, it returned over 30 mpg during a long highway jaunt during which I rode mostly over 70 mph.

    A Fit or Yaris is not designed for speed like a Prelude, but with proper aerodynamics could probably be made much more stable at speed. It might lose a mpg or two in the process, however, as spoilers create drag. In Europe there are still many very sporty subcompacts, which no doubt are very stable at speed. Of course, the problem is that they only do that for the cars that have the most powerful engines.

    The ideal car, in my mind, would be a car with economy car fuel economy but sports car handling, braking, and stability at speed.

    So a 1960's style sports car.

    Small, light, quick, and with no more engine than necessary.

    That would be the Mini.

    Small, light and no more engine (or car) than necessary were Alec Issigonis' design criteria. Turns out, if you achieve all that, you can get quick as a bonus for a very modest (300cc) increase in engine size.

    The new Mini is of course much larger, heavier more powerful and less efficient (and more safer) than the old one, but by todays standards it is small, light, quick and small engined.

    Gas prices are fine. I hope they go higher, albeit I would prefer that they go higher with much higher taxes which could be plowed back into the economy to support conservation, efficiency, and getting off the need to drive autos in the first place. Those of us who have lived in cities where we didn't need cars know that it is not that difficult.

    During the fuel "crisis" in the 70s, I barely noticed as I was riding my bike to work every day. Gas every other day? So what.

    On this day of "maybe amazing things can happen", wouldn't it be great if Obama administration approved Shell's Arctic exploration, but only coupled with a massive renewable buildout with taxes on oil company profits? (Just dreaming for a moment...)

    I would suggest a massive tax increase in energy consumption, offset by abolishing the highly regressive Payroll Tax (Social Security + Medicare) and use the energy consumption tax to fund Social Security & Medicare, with a percentage of proceeds also funding electrified rail projects. Of course, a large energy consumption tax is what we should have implemented in 1948, when the US became a net oil importer, when we actually had pretty good electrified rail systems in place, e.g., Dallas/Fort Worth had about 350 miles of electrified streetcar lines, connected by an electric interurban system.

    I have vivid recollections of the 1940s: During the War you got rations for 3 gallons of gasoline per week, and the (enforced) speed limit was 35 m.p.h. My sister and I used to ramble all over the Twin Cities area on streetcars, which were a nickel for as far as you wanted to go. 1949 was a great year, maybe Peak American values and culture. IMHO we've been going downhill since 1949, but then of course I'm and old foggy, so that is what I would be expected to think.

    Why not go back to three gallons per week via marketable ration coupons and reinstate the 35 m.p.h. speed limit, except for busses, which would be allowed to travel faster?

    Why not? Because then "they" have won - "they" have forced a change in the American way of life, and, on principle, that just can't be allowed to happen!

    To paraphrase Admiral Farragut in 1864, "pedal to the metal and damn the barrels!"

    At least, this seems to be the preferred plan of many politicians, though I can't see it working.

    It would be very interesting to see what the black market price for fuel became under this scenario.

    But it would be a white market not a black market in gasoline ration coupons! Because I use less than 3 gallons a week I could legally sell my excess coupons to somebody who was willing and able to buy them. I think the coupons would be rather valuable--perhaps as much as the purchase price of one gallon for a one-gallon coupon.

    True, - what I really meant is the "secondary" market.
    If the rationing system was watertight - i.e. no coupon, no fuel purchase, then the coupons would indeed be quite valuable. Given that we see Euros paying double what we are, I'd say the coupon price would probably exceed the fuel price by more than 100%.

    An interesting wealth redistribution system, to be sure.

    How would the gov allocate rations to companies?
    How would you stop companies letting employees drive on company fuel?

    These questions musty have been resolved in ww2, I but implementing anything along these lines would be politically impossible these days.

    Unless, of course, there is another war on.

    In WWII there was a lot of corruption and black marketeering since 'white' marketing was generally forbidden. The system was presumed to be temporary, so governments may have felt that by the time the tough questions festered out of control, rationing would no longer be needed anyhow. One might expect a permanent system to turn into a rather vicious war of all against all in time - especially if any external "war on" were "only" a brush-fire war of the sort that we've seen post WWII, so that the public perceived rationing as capricious and arbitrary. (Consider that there were a number of shootings and many assaults over queue-jumping during the very brief intervals of quasi-rationing in the 1970s. Then scale weeks up to years - not a pretty picture. After all, telling people that they're not allowed to go about their daily business is a highly invasive intervention that invites strong resentment.)

    Hi, Paul & Paul
    You have both raised important points.

    Paul S,
    You are correct, the reaction of the North American public to sudden fuel deprivation (because of price, physical shortage or both) could be extreme.

    Paul Nash,
    No, these questions have certainly not been resolved and they need to be urgently revisited.
    The Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan in the USA dates from June, 1980 and Canada's oil supply emergency plan is also about 30 years old. Neither has been updated.
    In fact, the position of both DoE in the States and Natural Resources Canada is to rely on what is called "full price pass-through" to do the rationing, which has the obvious advantage of being much simpler to administer... the government can just let price do the rationing.

    However, under this system an increasingly large segment of the population would be squeezed out as oil prices increase.
    In the case of family farmers (who are usually near the bottom of the income scale), high diesel prices could constrain the food-producing capability of domestic farmers at the same time that it places financial limitations on the viability of imported food.
    This is a recipe for a constricted food supply, higher supermarket prices, and the assurance that low-income citizens will be clobbered by both unaffordable fuel prices and unaffordable food prices.
    And that is a recipe for disorder on the home front, which both of your postings lead toward.

    This is a recipe for a constricted food supply, higher supermarket prices, and the assurance that low-income citizens will be clobbered by both unaffordable fuel prices and unaffordable food prices.

    RickM, almost like what is happening now.

    We had a long discussion back in January about the British plan for Tradable Energy Quotas. HERE and HERE are 2 of my (hopefully better) comments...

    E. Swanson

    I agree,
    The TEQ model is not perfect, but it seems more practical than some of the response mechanisms which have been suggested since WW2. It is certainly worthy of much more consideration than it seems to have received so far.

    As we move ever closer to the oil supply crunch, governments (at all levels) would do well to examine the practicality of their existing contingency plans for liquid fuel emergencies.

    And just how long do you think it would be before there would be howls of "price gouging" and political demands to put a stop to it?
    Look at all the problems with something simple like ticket sales for concerts, football games, etc...

    Absolutely, Jon

    That is why emergency planners have backed away from this issue: too massive, too complex... too volatile to even discuss, it seems.
    Yet we are dealing with a finite substance which we've all become very dependent upon, so we cannot dodge this dilemma forever.
    There may come a day when some politician utters the most unthinkable concept: certain oil products should be controlled substances, available only for approved purposes (food production, emergency services, military, mass transit, infrastructure repair, etc).
    But it would take a very far-sighted public to accept such a model (and we seem to be light-years from that) and as you point out, the logistics of administration on such a scale would be unprecedented.
    Meanwhile, having no plan other than "full price pass-through" is extremely reckless: surely we need an agreed-upon mechanism to ensure that certain uses of fuel are prioritized while frivolous uses are curtailed. Such a mechanism needs to be thought out, defined and presented to the public well in advance of the actual emergency: waiting until the emergency is actually upon us is an invitation to panic and disorder.

    Meanwhile, having no plan other than "full price pass-through" is extremely reckless: surely we need an agreed-upon mechanism to ensure that certain uses of fuel are prioritized

    You mean like banning all "recreational" use of gasoline and diesel fuel? That'l set off a howl you could hear from Alfa Centuri.

    World War II rationing of gasoline worked relatively well in the U.S. from 1942 through 1944. According to economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was in charge of the gasoline rationing program, by 1945 as much as half the gasoline being consumed was black market. Farmers were the worst offenders: They would get ten times the gasoline they actually needed, then sell the 90% they did not need on the black market. Some doctors and ministers also did this, but the farm abuses were a wide open scandal by 1945.

    The big mistake of World War II gasoline rationing was that coupons were not legally marketable, so of course a black market in gasoline (and meat) coupons developed. Ironically, in World War II the U.S. had plenty of gasoline; the binding constraint on car travel was actually rubber. New tires were unobtainable for at least four years, and even used tires were sold in the gray market. In fact, during World War II you couldn't even buy bicycle tires, because all rubber went to the military.

    I agree, Jon
    But that is what makes an oil supply shock such a whopper of a concern.
    I think a triage view of things would be a sensible place to start: certain priority sectors/activities must be maintained, while other activities are clearly recreational and non-essential.
    But even the most frivolous of these (let's pick on the Indy car races and powerboat Poker Runs, just for discussion purposes) have their supporters, their employees, and massive investments.
    Who decides which sectors get sacrificed (and whose investments get obliterated) in order to reduce national fuel consumption and knock down the price?
    I certainly do not have answers to this, and God knows that the decision-making would be very arbitrary indeed as administrators work their way into the middle category (the less essential and less frivolous).

    But we simply must have a mechanism to ensure that farmers are provided with affordable fuel. Among the obvious essential services, farmers are relatively unique insofar as they are not government employees (like the military, first responders, etc), not employees of a large company or utility, etc.
    Rather, North American family farmers are dispersed, often unorganized, often low-income, have no mechanism to ensure that they will be compensated for their additional operating costs, and may have no means to absorb a sudden surge in fuel prices. For farmers with a short growing season (eg. here in Ontario), confusion & inactivity at planting or harvest time could hurt production for the entire year... this is not something to be trifled with.

    That said, where we would draw the line on special supports? If farmers are assisted with fuel costs and/or fuel allocation, why not dentists, refinery workers and food processing plant workers?

    It seems that this problem is too complicated to solve, but much too dangerous to ignore. It requires a much better brain than mine....

    We've got the slow food movement. What we need is the slow move movement. 35 mph seems about right. Those in a hurry can take public transportation.

    At 35 mph traction requirements are not very high, so tires can be inflated to 45 psi, which decreases rolling resistance and further improves mileage. Actually, tires could be designed for 200 psi and even lower resistance.

    I like the phrase "slow movement movement;" but I suppose it is open to various interpretations.

    I had lunch with a gentleman a few years ago who recalled taking his date to the 1943 prom on a streetcar in Dallas.

    FYI, here is a short essay in which I discussed some of the infrastructure problems we are facing:


    All sorts of people used to ride the street cars--rich, middle-class, and poor. Rather small unaccompanied children also rode the street cars in safety. When I was five and my older sister was seven and one-half, the two of us would go for streetcar rides together. The friendly token taker/driver was always there to make sure we didn't miss our stop.

    Thank you, DS. I have not heard of too many other economists advocate rationing. I have long said that we face an existential crisis here greater than WWII--why not institute measures that fit the level of threat. We have no more time to play cute little games with 'markets.' That time has long passed.

    Though now spring chicken, I was certainly not yet alive in '49, but I do think that was likely a kind of apex in American culture. It was before the consumer culture really took hold and most Americans still valued the skills and perseverance necessary to do the right thing.

    Of course, we were already well on our way to the imperialism that now prevails, but that poison had not yet run through every vein and sinew of the culture.

    (Of course, there were little things like Jim Crow and rigid gender definitions that made life less than ideas for a fair portion of the population :-(

    One of the things I've learned as I've gotten older is that the world is zero sum.

    Yes civil rights and women's lib were great things, and made America a better place overall. Because of them, though, through the years many opportunities were simply not there for working and lower middle class white males, who formerly used to rule the roost. Many of them became the acolytes of Rush Limbaugh and the reactionary right, or end up in the military fighting "terrorists" and protecting oil.

    Not every male can become a CEO or investment banker! It's easy to make fun of a guy like Joe the Plumber -but what our country needs - a large number of competent, working males to build rail and a new energy infrastructure - it will never get, thanks to liberalism and of course Wall Street and corporatism and everything that goes with it.

    I disagree with that. I am by no means a fan of radical multiculturalism, cultural marxism, radical feminism or identity politics. I think it's been a disaster on the whole.

    But the situation for women and minorities was for the most part appalling during the beginning of the sixties. In places like Germany or Sweden you have very, very good conditions for working class males and a strong feminist movement. Sweden's a bit extreme when it comes to feminism but look at a place like Germany, certainly more leftwing than the U.S.

    The enemy of the working class white male has been outsourcing and mass immigration of the lower social classes. In Canada, a lot of white collar workers have it much tougher than blue collar workers because of the high quality and the sheer numbers of immigrants the country brings in. The U.S. has chosen the path of the uneducated masses from the third world, and this hits at the working class white male at a disproportionate rate, coupled with outsourcing.

    But this has little to do with feminism or the rights of minorities.
    On balance, I would much rather live in the post-68 world when it comes to women's rights than before and I don't see how white working class males lost out, if anything many are now more free to be themselves and not just the stereotypical Joe Sixpack.

    I should know, because I grew up in a working class rural area in Sweden and many of my best friends are from this background, and many are very smart, clever peolpe who are far away from the stereotype, and many are also much more cultured but also grounded in who they are. They all like beers, racing and men's magazines but they have a much more diverse range of opinions than their fathers have because of less social inhibitions.

    The problem is that Sweden has begun adopting the wrong lessons of immigration, we should copycat Canada or Australia, but we went after the American model. It'll bite us in the ass.
    But because you cannot have a generous welfare system and mass immigration of poorly educated peoples, this is putting pressure in our political system as you can imagine. And most of these peolpe are essentially on the dole, paid by most other Sweden. We have very high thresholds to get into the labormarket, but once you get in, it's very hard to get out.

    As a result, a lot of youths(we have around 30 % youth unemployment) and immigrants are out of jobs, much more than what is the norm.
    Clearly, something's gotta give. Either our prized welfare state or the mass immigration. But all political parties have been in denial until recently, but things are now moving slowly but surely under the surface.

    Your causations don't make sense.

    WHY aren't men building railroads in the USA? Why are Blue Collar Jobs a shadow of their former glory?

    We're just barely building railroads at all, and the MFR sector is overseas to a great degree.

    That's NeoLiberalism if it's anything, but is not 'Liberalism'.. It wasn't civil rights, it wasn't medicaid.

    American Working Class men and beyond, have had their roles challenged, and it's taken its toll on the John Birch Society and the Cowboy FairyTales a bit, but modern economics has been chewing on everyone in the middle class on down, male, female, Race, Age, etc.. We're all in the grinder.

    Try again..

    "I have long said that we face an existential crisis here greater than WWII..."

    But is anyone outside of the echo chamber persuaded of that? It's not as though a neo-Hitler's armies are visibly and conspicuously marching all across Europe, or anything like that.

    Hardly anybody outside the TOD community is convinced of the deadly seriousness of Peak Oil. The masses and the mainstream media are wrong. TOD is right.

    It is hard for me to persuade my adult children to read TOD. They are all very bright, and three of them majored in economics.

    The TOD community is a tiny fraction of one percent of the total population. For TOD to become a successful social movement, there would have to be a lot of changes made.

    For TOD to become a successful social movement, there would have to be a lot of changes made.

    Don Sailorman, do you have some suggested changes to make it successful?

    Successful social movements are often led by fanatics, because it takes extraordinary dedication and single-mindedness to successfuly lead a social movement. For a good example of a successful social movement, study the Women's Christian Temperance Movement of the early part of the twentieth century. Their goal was to get Prohibition into the U.S. Constitution, and they succeeded despite the immense power of special interests. Or study the beginnings of any major religion. Indeed, it might be necessary to cast some of the generally held TOD ideas in the form of religious beliefs to get them accepted.

    Peak Oil will become conventional wisdom--but much too late. Writing a really great Peak Oil Book (one to rank with the Jewish and Christian Bibles and the Koran) would help a lot. Our path to where we are now was decided largely by accident, when Ronald Regan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980. I think that if it hadn't been for the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter might very well have been re-elected to a second term, and had that happened we probably would have developed much better energy policies than the one we have now (which is hardly a policy at all--just blind faith in "the market" and technological advances).

    A long-shot approach would be for TOD to morph into a political party based on Independent voters, moderate Republicans who hate the Tea Partiers, and Democrats who are dissatisfied with the tired old policies and slogans that the Democrats keep harping on.

    I think the great value of TOD is that when the consequences of Peak Oil are finally understood by the mainstream media, there will be in our archives good data and excellent discussions of proposed "solutions" to Peak Oil. In other words, when the N.Y. TIMES and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL get around to interviewing the editors of TOD (and maybe some of the commentators too), there will be plenty of useful, practical, and constructive things to say.

    So long as TOD allows conspiracy theorists and apocalyptic fast-crash doomers to appear in its pages, it will be marginalized. To get in the mainstream, TOD would have to make some serious changes. But I think the day will come within the next ten years that Peak Oil production and Peak Oil net exports are accepted as conventional wisdom. Gasoline at $5 to $10 will help TOD a lot.

    To get in the mainstream, TOD would have to make some serious changes.

    Indeed. Almost certainly changes that would compromise fundamental principles and intellectual honesty.

    That's the way it has always been: Sell out your goals, your demands, your ideology, the truth as you know it, and you may get a seat at the table. Of course, you will already have sold out.

    Co-optation is one of the most effective tools TPTB have for neutralizing dissidents and outliers.

    It's very, very, very tempting...

    Most economists are O.K. with gasoline rationing--so long as the coupons are legally marketable. There is a fair amount in the economic literature on this topic over the past forty years.

    But we already do have fuel rationing, it's done by cost! More and more motorists are getting priced out of the market as time goes by.

    I agree that it would be necessary if when supplies become limited, but any such system should take into account the necessary mileage any particular individual does. For example if someone lives 30 miles from work, they get tokens for 10 gallons, 15 miles 5 tokens etc.

    NO! Every licensed driver gets the same amount of coupons--say for three gallons a week. During World War II doctors, farmers, and ministers got all the gasoline they needed, but just because Joe Six-Pack lives thirty miles from his job, that is no reason to give him more coupons. People can plan their lives to conserve gasoline. For example, in 1978 I had a house built in an ideal location in a small town: Easy walking distance to elementary and Middle School, less than a mile and a half from where my wife worked as an RN at the hospital and only one and three quarters miles from home to where I worked. Except for hauling kids too and from after school activities, we did not really need a car at all.

    Currently I live in Highland Village, St. Paul, MN and use my car about twice a week on the average. We have excellent bus service, but supermarket, banks, doctors, hair stylists, restaurants, and even a tailor are all within easy walking distance. Thus I easily get by on less than three gallons per week. When I was working in the late seventies I would typically spend about seven and a half dollars a month on gasoline--far less than most of my students spent on gas.

    People will have to learn to be frugal, the way we were during the Great Depression and also World War II.

    Agreed Don, to have variable amounts for people based on how far they live from work, or whatever, defeats the twin purposes of limiting use and forcing change.

    Perhaps instead of rationing, it should be called "cap and trade", as that captures both essential elements, and seems to be a well know phrase these days!

    Such a system would achieve what the taxes achieve in Europe - a high marginal cost, and a strong incentive to conserve.

    Average US gasoline consumption is about 14 gal/driver/week (9mbd, 200m drivers).

    I wonder what the acceptance from drivers would be if the cap (ration) was say 5 gallons FREE but that's it - for any more you buy it from someone else and pay the whatever price you agree on.

    You would get a 6mbd drop in oil consumption, but at the cost of giving away 3mbd for free - which must ultimately be paid for by some other means, of course.

    And you would have a lot of angry motorists, but they seem angry already - at least this would achieve something.

    The type of limit I am suggesting would encourage the motorist to buy a more economic vehicle (or car share etc) as the allowance would be set such that a low mpg SUV wouldn't go the whole week on the allowance but a more economic vehicle would. Doing it this way doesen't penalise people who have to travel to work now, it will encourage them to find a local job in the future.

    You can't change things overnight, chipping away at the problem will cause less damage than a sledgehammer approach.

    I know where you are coming from, but that is opening up a textbook opportunity for "some are more equal than others" - as usual, like with taxes, efforts will go into gaming that system to justify and receive the higher allowances.

    Instead, a single, fixed allowance for everyone keeps everyone equal. announce it a year ahead of time to give people time to prepare if need be. It still gives everyone incentive to be more efficient or go carless.

    But anything that is subjective and lets some people get more than others is just asking for trouble, IMO.

    Agree that you can't change things overnight, but that's the reason for a "white market." People who need more fuel would be forced to pay a premium for it...and those who don't would be rewarded for their conservation by being able to profit off their unused coupons.

    Giving more fuel to those who live farther away undermines the whole reason for rationing.

    "Of course, we were already well on our way to the imperialism that now prevails, but that poison had not yet run through every vein and sinew of the culture."

    Very nice dohboi. I like that

    As long as we are taxing obscene profits, how about Microsoft, Apple, GE, Boeing, Goldman Sachs, etc......
    How many of those companies have higher profit levels per sales than the oil companies do?

    From up top: "Over a Barrel: Behind The Great Oil Price Smokescreen"

    “Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States.”
    — Oilman-turned-Senator Dick Cheney on the Senate floor after introducing a 1986 bill to tax foreign oil

    I'm not a big Cheney fan, but I agree with this comment, even 25 years later.
    Taxing a finite resource to encourage more efficient use is good for all.

    Osama bin Laden killed....


    Yes. If Obama had donned a Navy Seal costume and flown out to the USS Carl Vinson in a Blackhawk helicopter to announce the end of major anti-terrorist operations beneath a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner, he would have made a real a$$ out of himself. But he didn't.

    It's a relief.

    But why didn't they get some reporters or other 3rd party US witnesses to see the body before the toss?

    Now the guy is going to show up in Vegas singing a duet with Elvis.

    ♫ We can't go on together
    With suspicious minds ♫

    Total takes $1.4 billion stake in renewable energy firm

    LOS ANGELES, May 2 -- Total SA has agreed to take a majority stake in San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower for about $1.38 billion, an investment described as one of the largest ever by an oil company in renewable energy. “We evaluated multiple solar investments for more than 2 years and concluded that SunPower is the right partner based on its people, world-leading technology and cost roadmap, vertical integration strategy, and downstream footprint," said Philippe Boisseau, president, gas and power division.
    Under the agreement, Total will launch a friendly tender offer through a wholly owned subsidiary for up to 60% of SunPower's outstanding Class A Common shares and 60% of SunPower's outstanding Class B Common shares at a price of $23.25/share for each class. In addition, Total will provide SunPower with up to $1 billion of credit support over the next 5 years. According to Werner, Total’s agreement to provide the $1 billion credit support was a “key element” of the deal.

    This just seems like an odd fit to me. French oil company buying a Ca solar panel company - is Total really looking to get into the electricity components business?
    BP and Shell got out of solar, I just can;t see why these guys are getting into a completely different business, and one that is quite subsidy dependent at that.

    Total Bids $1.4 Billion for Control of SunPower

    “We evaluated multiple solar investments for more than two years and concluded that SunPower is the right partner,” said Philippe Boisseau, president of Total’s gas and power unit. “Total is executing on its strategy to become a major integrated player in solar energy.”
    The French company has 93,000 employees and a presence in 130 countries. It has been involved in solar power since 1983, and already manufactures solar panels in France.

    Unlike BP and Shell, they appear to be expanding their solar energy portfolio.

    Well, if they have been doing it for 28 years, then fair enough - they know what they are getting into.

    Not quite sure what an "integrated player" in solar energy means - presumably to own and operate solar farms.

    The press release was odd in that it did mot make a single mention of what SunPower specifically does. it didn't say whether it was PV, CSP or something else entirely. Looks like they are a successful company, but that is in part driven by solar subsidies, and those are an endangered species these days.

    SunPower was most known for high efficiency PV (roughly 20%). But they have recently branched out into CPV.

    Argentine teachers strike hits Santa Cruz oil output

    Striking Argentine teachers demanding a pay hike blocked main access roads to several oil fields in Santa Cruz province, halting local operations at the country's top energy companies, a source at Repsol YPF said on Monday.

    Repsol's YPF Pico Truncado oil separation plant is inactive and all oil fields in the Las Heras area are halted because of the stoppage, the source said.

    Potential Impact of Gasoline Price Increases on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership, 2011 -2012 March 14, 2011, American Public Transportation Association

    The analysis reveals if regular gas prices reach $4 a gallon across the nation, as many experts have forecasted, an additional 670 million passenger trips could be expected, resulting in more than 10.8 billion trips per year. If pump prices jump to $5 a gallon, the report predicts an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips can be expected, resulting in more than 11.6 billion trips per year. And if prices were to soar to $6 a gallon, expectations go as high as an additional 2.7 billion passenger trips, resulting in more than 12.9 billion trips per year.

    Transit systems across America are working hard to address immediate capacity issues which would result. During the 2007 and 2008 gas price spike, 85 percent of transit agencies reported experiencing capacity constraints on parts of their systems. Over one-half of systems operated service crowded beyond their local service standards. This was despite 48 percent of agencies adding service. Thirty-nine percent reported that overcrowded conditions were such that they were turning away passengers.

    Unfortunately, the elasticity of public transportation ridership to gasoline price increases is pretty weak -- only about 0.2. Partly this may be due to the increased ridership being during peak periods when there is little excess capacity, and transit systems finding it hard to rapidly increase peak period capacity.

    Weak indeed. 1.5 billion added transit trips (at $5/gal) would be just 5 trips per-capita per year, or just 2½ round trips. That might well strain capacity, but in the Big Picture it utterly fails to rise even to the level of being a joke.

    Then again, it ought to be no surprise. Most folks don't live near useful public transit. Even those who do will often find that it only takes them in some direction that's not where they need to travel, at some time when they don't need to make the trip. If it's bus service, it probably takes them where they don't need to go at a time when they don't need to go at only a sickly 5-10 mph, even ignoring the lengthy random wait that often reduces the overall trip speed to that of a leisurely stroll.

    So one wouldn't expect to find a whole lot of pent-up demand among folks who aren't already using transit. Plus it's mostly so slow that those who do use it couldn't possibly have the time to use it much more, so little pent-up demand there either.


    I quibble with these statements, having lived in Chicago, Boston and SF now. Never had a bad trip. Many times I get to the airport faster by train than car because of traffic jams.

    The slow factor is maybe psychosomatic where one feels it is slow, but in reality traffic jams are slow.

    Underground trains just burn by traffic. I used to do it everyday in Boston. Bike to the T and take the T. Not bad.

    I quibble with these statements, having lived in Chicago, Boston and SF now.

    Precisely. And lots of kids want a pony too. But the family can't afford the time and money to keep one.

    Most Americans will never be able to afford the astronomical cost of living in a megacity neighborhood with metro-level (7 days a week, and every 10 minutes or better at busy times) train service. Not now, not any more, not with spiraling inflation and costly gov't mandates set against declining real incomes. Nor would most be crazy enough to consider dumping their kids into the often gang-infested schools. So the most they can ever hope for where they actually live is a bus (or just conceivably a tram) that's not only stuck in the traffic (if they've got congestion), but stops forever at every g-d d*mned corner. An absolutely insane, incredible, prodigious waste of time.

    Oh, and definitely add NYC to that list. But even in NYC, the subway mostly takes you to Manhattan. If you're going anywhere else, you're likely to be consigned for endless hours to bus hell. It would be much faster for those folks to drive, except that the Liebig bottleneck is parking (not the congestion.) And even including NYC, we're still talking only a very small fraction of Americans who have access to good service, and that often only in one direction-pair - you might be able to go east or west efficiently, but if you need to go north or south, you're SOL.

    So I stand by the proposition that with respect to the Big Picture it's all a joke, although, yes, a handful of people are indeed affluent enough to live in places where locally it's not such a joke, and happen to need to make just those trips for which it's not such a joke. The Big Picture trouble with all this, though, is that no conceivable amount of wishful thinking will ever make the lightly populated USA into a crowd-container like, say, metropolitan France or the Dutch Randstadt.

    Bike to the T and take the T.

    ROFLMAO. I grew up in NYC, and I can't imagine leaving any bike worth riding at any train station every day, be it on what used to be the BMT, IND, or IRT; or be it even on the relatively cream-puffish SIR. What would be the half-life? A week? Maybe a week and a half on the SIR?

    Well Paul. I still have my bike. I lived near the Alewife T stop in Arlington MA which is a fairly decent neighborhood. The worst thing my bike suffered was salt water damage from wintertime riding. I locked the front wheel and frame. You don't ride a $2000 bike to the T. LOL. You ride your beater or commuter. My method is to ride a less attractive bike than the other 50 bikes on the racks. Camouflage it ;-)

    I see your points about broad access. The cities I lived in have had decent service. They are not all cities of course. I rode buses too. They are not great but when you have one car per family well the occasional bus ride sure beats parking fees et al. I would not have traded my time in public transit in those cities for a 2nd car.

    Of course, we are not going to rectify the problem very fast, but I imagine public transit will gain a little more steam in the coming months in the bigger cities.

    That is why I quibble only. I am not strongly in disagreement with your points.

    I think the 'pop. density' issue that defeats mass transit will adjust when the 'gas expensity' issue does,(after pushing through a threshhold of habitual resistance to change) and then even many smaller cities will find it appealing to have buses and trolleys again. It was cheap gas that killed them.

    Once enough people can't afford to drive, the question of 'How will I get there?' will get loud enough to reveal the clear solutions to that appeal once again.

    I think the 'pop. density' issue that defeats mass transit will adjust when the 'gas expensity' issue does,

    Yes. I'd bet on it.

    Gonna be some grumpy Americans, of course...

    A corollary to the "population density" is the "job density" at the destination end of the line. A high pop density and a low destination density doesn't work well - you need both. that is why these sprawling "office parks/suburbs are almost as bad for transit as sprawling residential suburbs.

    In fact, you could argue the destination density is more important. The city of Calgary, Alberta, for example, has a relatively low population density of 1360/sq/km, compared to Denver at 1550 and NYC at 2050, yet has the third busiest light rail system in north America, and the lowest cost per passenger at just 27c/ride. The reason for the success is a dense downtown, with a very high % of the city;s jobs there, instead of spread out everywhere like LA.

    The city chose not to build major freeways into the city centre, forcing commuters to use the train as their numbers increased but downtown street capacity did not. Similarly, the city limited the number of parking spaces in the downtown core, making it prohibitively expensive for many people to drive to downtown jobs, particularly as surface lots gave way to development. Downtown unreserved monthly parking is amongst the most expensive in North America, behind only Midtown and Downtown Manhattan for business districts.[39] As a result, in 2006 over 42% of Calgary's 112,000 downtown workers used Calgary Transit to get to work.

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-Train

    Of course, dense residents and dense jobs are better, but it's probably easier to densify jobs than residents, IMO.

    Yep. Calgary did a lot of things right.

    We need both kinds of density (in the same places--Euclidean separation-of-uses zoning has been a devastating failure), but it's reasonable to argue that "jobs first" is a better driver.

    I agree that the zoning -separation has been a failure, but oddly enough, Calgary is (mostly)separated like that and it is not a failure - though it is still car dependent if you are not going to the downtown.

    Where you need the mixed use is the residential/shopping neighborhoods - small streets (not arterials) and residential above the shops - the old European style. I used to live in such a place in Calgary and it was great - walk to almost everything, including downtown at only 20 minutes. In fact, when you can walk to your local things, you are less inclined to get in the car and drive somewhere else, unless you absolutely have to - great for local businesses to create regular clientele.

    The problem now is with jobs dissappearing, it's hard to "bring them" anywhere, let alone densify them. Any systematic relocation involves at least some reconstruction/refitting and no one wants to do that these days - unless someone else is paying for it.

    Of course, dense residents and dense jobs are better, but it's probably easier to densify jobs than residents, IMO.

    In America, we mostly have dense leaders and dense voters.

    You don't ride a $2000 bike to the T. LOL. You ride your beater or commuter. My method is to ride a less attractive bike than the other 50 bikes on the racks. Camouflage it ;-)

    Ah, the serious bike thieves are looking for popular "brand" road and mountain bikes. I routinely build bikes that cost a lot more than $2K and park them wherever I want. Nobody is interested, because they don't look like something Lance would ride. They are utility bikes, with the best build for the job, frames painted dusty flat black, no logos visible on components. I watch "serious cyclists" leave or retrieve their bikes parked next to mine, with hardly a glance.

    The last time I had a bike stolen was in 1973, from my house in Philadelphia.

    Besides, it's all insured, which doesn't cost much at all. If TSHTF and insurance vanishes, maybe I'll be more cautious (more likely, I'll be dead).

    Someone needs to make spray on textured paint with the texture and colour of rust:)


    There are such products commercially available already or you can create your own fake rust finish..,


    Heck you can even do it to drywall if your willing to a little work.


    Excellent. Thanks.

    On my list for the next build.

    On my list for the next build.

    Please post a pict when you get it done. I really like the idea of a well built new bike that looks old and rusted! The irony (no pun intended) that this faux rust finish would actually protect it from rusting makes it all the more appealing to me. Rusted beach bikes in Miami... Do you want to start a franchise?

    My RF plasmas student plasma-coated an exhaust system with iron oxide to make it look like steel: Titanium wasn't playing by the rules!

    Paul, you talk like you know these things, and people probably believe you.. and in that, you're a liar. You've pushed this line for years now, and you're simply speaking untruths.

    The trains will take you to all the boroughs, all but Staten Island. They are abundant, and hundreds of thousands of people rely on them everyday to get across the East and Manhattan Rivers. There are countless cross connections to get from Trains to Buses to Commuter Rail, Trams Ferries. I lived in Flushing, Rye, Astoria, SouthSlope Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens, Greenwich Village and Queensbridge, and constantly used Trains to access the boroughs, Metro NJ and the fringes of Westchester and Long Island.. then seamlessly switching to the broader commuter systems..

    Buses do stop every couple blocks, for about 15 seconds! They're better for some trips than trains, worse for others, but your complaints don't match up with reality. If you grab an m57 at Rush Hour, that's your own damn fault.

    If you bike in NY, you probably don't bother with the Trains. It's a tight enough area that even interborough biking isn't bad, with paths on the major bridges, and up the East and Hudson Rivers, you have some speed routes to get you past the street-level issues for a longer trek. But it's simply breathtaking how quick you can get to anywhere in the city on a bike. With better access paths for weaker riders (and you don't have to be olympic grade in any case, just basically fit), NY could be just enormously accessible by bike or trike. Cabbies would be pissed, tho.

    I biked from Flushing, Queens into midtown over the 59th st br. for a spell, but really, sitting on the 7 was a lot easier. But for those who do it regularly, bikes are some of the quickest ways to get in and out and throughout the city. You dress it down a bunch, and you don't ride a 'money bike'.. and you don't need to. Basic wheels.

    Thanks for those comments jokuhl.

    The continuous bashing on public transit is so tiresome. The fact is that public transit has NEVER had even a tiny fraction of the money thrown at it that the completely subsidized car culture has. Start throwing gobs and I mean SERIOUS amounts of money at bike and public transit and watch how the options multiply (and travel times decrease). The truth is one of the biggest reasons public transit is so ineffecient time wise is because it has to compete with an insane amount of cars and infrastructure designed with one thing in mind - cars. I take the bus a few times per month around Albany, NY and the biggest time killers are by no means the stops but the traffic lights where the bus is stacked up behind 20 cars in every lane and completely congested intersections where CARS turning left against insane oncoming traffic cause buses to have to sit thru an extra cycle or two of the light.

    It's all negative with these guys about public transit and they conveniently always ignore what a mess cars have made of any other options. It is difficult to walk, bike, take mass transit - not because this is inherently so - but because cars are constantly in the way or a threat of some sort. They always have the laundry list of how horrible any form of transport but the car is but at the same time they portray the ability to motor around in their cars at any speed they want as a given - reminds me of all the idiotic car commercials that show a fancy car with the top down motoring thru the S curves at high speeds - with, of course, not another car anywhere in sight... happy motoring NIRVANA - which almost never exists in reality (they don't show the "lane closed ahead", school bus stopping, road reduced to rubble due to no budget for repairs, person who can't see over their steering wheel going 20 under the speed limit reality of driving most places) and really doesn't exist anywhere where there's actually population centers that could benefit from public transport. To them everyone is driving 6 hours on every trip on 3 wide open lanes of straight as an arrow pavement in Texas so going 90 mph is the priority at all costs - nevermind that this kind of travel is the norm for virtually no one in the country. It really is an analysis that appears to have a car cheerleading agenda.

    It is difficult to walk, bike, take mass transit - not because this is inherently so - but because cars are constantly in the way or a threat of some sort.

    Yep. And because a car-centered built environment inevitably pushes origins and destinations much farther apart

    Aside from all the other, nearly incalculable, damage it has done, the car culture has made life outdoors hell for everyone not in a car.

    you're a liar

    No need for rude nastiness.

    The trains will take you to all the boroughs, all but Staten Island. They are abundant, and hundreds of thousands of people rely on them everyday to get across the East and Manhattan Rivers.

    That was part of the point. The trains will take you from Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn to the other boroughs and vice versa. Other places, it's catch as catch can. No one needs to take my lying word for this - a system map is here. If you aren't headed towards or away from Manhattan, maybe there's a train for you, and then again, maybe not. The entire train system is Manhattan-centric with a major secondary center in downtown Brooklyn. Always has been. The G is the only significant line that doesn't go to Manhattan. Even the SIR (not on that map) is mainly for getting commuters to Manhattan via the ferry. What limited usefulness it has for getting around within Staten Island is mere happenstance.

    There are countless cross connections...

    That too was part of the point. Every connection wastes more time. And again, if you need to go in some direction that's not towards or away from Manhattan, good luck. Some will indeed be lucky, as you apparently were, but others won't. Again, no one needs to take my lying word for this - I linked the commuter hell article as an archetypal example.

    If you grab an m57 at Rush Hour, that's your own damn fault.

    That too is part of the problem. If you're lucky enough to have something better to grab, you'd be a fool not to go for it. But many are not within walking distance of a subway stop, or the line doesn't take them anything like where they're headed. Again, see the article and the map, don't take my lying word for it.

    If you bike in NY, you probably don't bother with the Trains.

    Bingo! Now we're getting somewhere. This vividly illustrates the problem. It simply underlines the slowness of train travel (depending on time of the day and the exact trip.) As for the creeping, crawling buses, fuhgeddaboudit except for a handful of expensive express buses.

    ...bikes are some of the quickest ways to get in and out and throughout the city.

    Yup, exactly, transit is so slow it has difficulty competing with bikes for crying out loud.

    NY could be just enormously accessible by bike or trike.

    That much, at least, is quite true. Very large parts are fairly flat, although some spots aren't. And there's unusable (by motor vehicles) spare capacity (owing to gross misdesign of a ramp at the Brooklyn end) on the Verrazano Bridge, so even Staten Island could get in on the act.

    So the bottom line for the broader discussion becomes: if the above is the best that a hyper-expensive crowd-container like NYC, teeming with masses of people, can manage, let's not hold our breaths waiting for useful mass transit to pop up widely in places lacking teeming masses. Naturally a few people in such places will luck out by happening to live and work in just the right spots - until, of course, the job runs out and the next one is off in some other direction. But widely scattered random luck says little about broad utility or scalability, and, again, your own remarks about cycling only emphasize the awful slowness of even the country's best transit system.

    The Trains aren't slow, Paul. They certainly aren't 'AWFULLY Slow'.. They're great. They aren't perfect, but it's a very workable way to get around.

    With a Bike, You're dusting most of the CARS and many CABS, (but you won't be Dusting the A express up to Inwood, or the 4 to 149th street, ever.) which is to say that there are LOTS of CARS, and as said by Catskill, the volume of Cars is what kills Bus travel.

    They prohibited cars in Zion Nat'l Park, and there are just buses, running up and down that quiet little valley highway every six/ten minutes. It's Low-density, and you sit pleasantly in a mellow bus stop with no honking lines of cars, virtually no pollution. There are ways to make bus service work in Many midsize cities, esp once people have been kicked out of their cars by gas prices. And they will be, but let's not get sidetracked by seeing what's written in the cards, eh?

    I don't see the problem with going through Manhattan, as if that's some kind of curse. Once you're on the trains, you make the connections and get where you're going, who cares what's overhead? But I used the G, I went out to Queens plaza or Roosevelt and switched to a bus if that was the route that went where I was going. I took shuttles across the Whitestone from Queens into the Bronx, and hopped from the MTA to the Path when I was heading West.

    "Connections just slow things down.." Bah! Keep grinding your axe.. it's made of mud, Paul.. and won't cut. I'm sorry for being Mean and calling you a liar. But You're truly misrepresenting the picture in NY, and I'll call you on it.

    It IS a tough city to have a life in, and travel isn't like some Shangri-la.. but it works, it IS multifaceted, and it works for an enormous number of people. The usefulness of cycling doesn't negate the functionality of the Subways or Buses, either. Just like with anywhere else in the country you have to pick where you live and make a good choice, one which by virtue of the very sparse pop density that you speak of might well become unlivable, unreachable in the very near future, well similar to that, you have to make good choices in NY for using the systems as well. You do need to know which lines will be crowded at Rush Hour, and you need to know your options and alternate routes, which the system does offer.

    Bikes are fast in cities, you should stick to talking about what you know, whatever that is, I'm sure it must be something or other, though I have to admit to having seen no signs of that in any of your postings I've ever read.

    We used to always debate taking a car and always decided against it because it would slow us down too much, don't forget parking and all that part of it, getting stuck in traffic, whatever. And that was in San Francisco, with the hills, but also with the parking, and the traffic. Or was it Barcelona, with its hills and traffic? No, wait, it was both, except the Catalans hadn't really figured bikes out yet re urban transit, but now they have, nice work, nice bike paths. Or was it in Portland, OR,, grrr, all those cities, all so great to bike in, how to pick just one? Wait, it's all coming back to me, Copenhagen, stunning biking, Amsterdam, stunning, just fantastic, but SF is my favorite I think. Unlike PaulS, I am speaking from direct personal experience here, but I am looking forward to his next serialized fictional work, soon to appear in this thread I'm sure, we're all waiting with bated breath, don't let us down!

    The Danish mini bike traffic lights are still just about the most adorable little things I've ever seen. And they ride all year, by the way, riding there is the norm, or it was when I lived there, that's where I first really understood the notion of a fast city bike, and good fenders and all that stuff. And yes it rains and snows and has winter there, but don't let that fool you, it's a rare rain that actually gets you wet when you ride, though car drivers don't know that since they hide in their cars from the weather.

    Barcelona has killer metros too, of course, so most people used those, though far too many insist for some perverse reason on driving even though there's really no room to park or anything else. Boston had awesome metro, never caused me any problem, I just found it annoying that I had to take them now and then during the blizzards and so forth, but give me another winter or two there and I would have had the snow tire setup no doubt, but it was all good, short walk to the metro, then I'd be where I wanted, or a ride to work, it was all good. Man, the more I edit this, the more I am impressed by PaulS's fiction skills, excellent work, Paul.

    Going uphill, being what could be considered approaching 'old', I tend to pass buses on a bike, because they have to stop all the time.

    The bigger the city, the more traffic, the faster the bike, since you basically never have to stop, and parking is always instant, and right in front of the destination. Of course, you'd know that if you'd ever actually done, or had a clue about, what you are talking about, but then you wouldn't be PaulS, you'd be someone else.

    Normally I ignore you, finding myself agreeing with jokuhl re your problematic connection with veracity, but I do skim your postings out of a somewhat genuine puzzlement at exactly what it is you are trying to communicate, I like puzzles, and this one is singularly difficult to crack, but keep trying, maybe one day you'll actually say what you mean and then readers will go, ah, so that's what it was!

    I am a fan of the way you just make stuff up in general though, totally out of thin air, I admire the technique, a nice skill to have in certain disciplines. I'm not so sold on the 'cut up the quotes and make up a separate response for each slice' method, just as one writer to another, I suggest focusing more on the single connected message, it actually tends to carry more weight, the fiction works better that way, it's more convincing, it gives the story time to develop, to breathe, as it were.

    The further from whatever technical niche you occupy, the more abstract and surreal and disconnected from reality the view you post, and the less troubled by actual information and study, but I'm a fan of surrealism, so I encourage you to continue in this, it's inspiring, you might just make a good character in a book or something, who knows. Chalk me up a as a PaulS fan, there's often too much serious discussion here, a light fictional interlude provides a welcome breather at times.

    I don't think we are experiencing the same American cities, Paul. I'd be the first to agree that our income and wealth distribution patterns suck, but even here, in one of the most expensive urban centers in the country (San Francisco), people of all economic classes live (not always without financial stress) and ride transit and bike and walk and carpool.

    I don't know anyone who wouldn't rather bike or walk or ride transit in Manhattan, except for a few friends with more money than common sense who ride around in taxis.

    There's no question that urban schools have serious problems but, IMHO, one of the prime causes is the subsidized white flight to the suburbs and the cultural abandonment (and demonization) of urban life after WWII. As both young families and retirees increasingly join young singles in choosing rich density and easy access over long commutes and mowing lawns, things are changing--a lot. And besides, it's a bad rap. countless urban kids live and thrive in city schools and they grow up in vastly richer cultural environments, and with more freedom of movement, than rural and suburban children who appear to now spend their lives being chauffeured to play-dates. What percentage of the school shootings we've seen over the past decade or so took place in city schools?

    Here's another newsflash: we're installing bike lockers at commuter train stations (way more space- and cost-effective than auto parking). We even take our bikes on the trains:


    And the vast majority of the buses operating in our area are equipped with easy-to-use bike racks.

    All in all, it can be a pretty attractive alternative to paying $6 bridge tolls and, perhaps, $10/hr. for parking.

    Try it. You might like it. The planet certainly will.

    ...people of all economic classes live (not always without financial stress) and ride transit and bike and walk and carpool.

    (Emphasis added.) And that underlines the issue with respect to the broader discussion. That is implicitly about future change, about people who don't live in those expensive places, rather than about those who already do (and can somehow afford it.) Those who don't already live there are unlikely to see doubling or tripling the rent payment as anything remotely resembling a practical solution - so it may be futile to harp on what people could do if only they lived in the expensive places.

    I don't know anyone who wouldn't rather bike or walk or ride transit in Manhattan, except for a few friends with more money than common sense who ride around in taxis.

    Oh, absolutely, which, among other things, is why companies sometimes provide van pools from "outlying" areas (on the strange Manhattan-centric NYC definition of outlying.) The point for the larger discussion, though, is that the rest of the country is not Manhattan. Naturally, part of Manhattan-centric thinking is to act as though the whole world is something like Manhattan, but one ought not to be shocked when others beg to differ.

    [Note BTW: taking bikes on trains has proved to be non-scalable in The Netherlands. They just take up too much space, so there are usually restrictions such as being disallowed at busy times, which is probably just when you'd need to take one along, as well as not being guaranteed a place. Same deal with buses, once you put two or three bikes on a rack, you're done. The other fifty passengers are out of luck. IOW you can't count on getting a timely place, so while it might be OK for a recreational trip, it's functionally useless as a commute option. Which is why, on this particular point, I'd actually agree with what Jokuhl seems to assume implicitly just above, namely that a bike might be more like an alternative to a train or bus.]

    Those who don't already live there are unlikely to see doubling or tripling the rent payment as anything remotely resembling a practical solution - so it may be futile to harp on what people could do if only they lived in the expensive places.

    Well, first, you probably exaggerate (not, I'm sure, intentionally ;^). We'd have to look carefully to determine what actual differences in rent/mortgage might be, and between which places.

    [As an aside, I can tell you that, back in the 80's, when I was commuting by car into San Francisco and spending much of my life flying around the country for business, I met lots of people in the "heartland" whose monthly mortgage payments were lower than my parking fees.]

    Further, certainly the answer is not for people to move to distant destinations. Rather, it makes more sense to begin reconfiguring the built environments in which they already live, starting with those most amenable to and suitable for density and urbanity, to accommodate access and proximity rather than automobiles--to be places for people rather than places for cars.

    As the costs of long-distance (beyond your hometown) travel increase immensely, rent increases and smaller domiciles may seem less odious.

    If we are to avoid the hardest imaginable landing, doing this is one of the absolute essentials for our energy-constrained future. The facts that the idea is beyond the pale to so many, and that, even on TOD, so many are obsessed with rugged rural Randian fantasies or distracted by endless deck-chair-rearranging discussions of automobile fuel efficiency, tend, day after day, to confirm my doomer convictions.

    Those whose time is worth less will live further out and spend more time commuting. Those whose time is worth more will work more, and spend more living closer in. That's why downtown penthouses go for millions in NYC, and why in Boulder you pay a million bucks for a house and then bike to work, or move 7 miles away and pay $300K and drive in rush hour traffic.

    It will always be better to be wealthy. It will increasing suck to be poor, and yet a growing fraction will be.

    ...why in Boulder you pay a million bucks for a house and then bike to work, or move 7 miles away and pay $300K and drive in rush hour traffic.

    Seven miles? On the flats at the foot of the Front Range?

    I'm into my seventh decade, now, with a defibrillator implanted in my chest. It's been a few years since I rode in Boulder and environs, but I'm having a hard time envisioning that 7-mile commute as a serious cycling challenge, except in really bad weather.

    You could save the $700K, improve your health and enjoy the endorphin rush.

    Edit: "Worth less" to whom?

    Further, certainly the answer is not for people to move to distant destinations. Rather, it makes more sense to begin reconfiguring the built environments in which they already live, starting with those most amenable to and suitable for density and urbanity, to accommodate access and proximity rather than automobiles--to be places for people rather than places for cars.

    I started writing a long post last night about riding the streetcar- something I love to do (I live in Toronto and the streetcar stop is about 100 feet away from my front door.) I had started it as a diatribe about how it saves you money by reducing the number of cars required by a family, etc. But when I went over it, I realized that the subtext was more inportant and in fact a better answer to Paul and those like him.

    The point is, I love to ride the streetcar. The question is, "Why?" (I should also point out that I am also fascinated by cars, and like to drive. I wanted to race in my younger years, and am a good "shadetree mechanic". Love of transit and cars are not mutually exclusive.)

    The answer is that I have lived and worked in the city proper for almost 25 years. The route in front of my house (TTC 506, the "Carlton Car", so named because the central part of the route is along Carlton Street) is the same one that I have lived on since 1994. (My previous residence was an apartment on Carlton St.)

    Though I frequently read or do crosswords while riding, I am just as likely to just watch. My trip into the city takes me by my child's school, through Little India and Little Chinatown, and across the Don Valley. It then goes through my old neighborhood- past the public greenhouses in Allen's Gardens, restaurants I still eat in and storefronts that no longer house the places I remember. I see my old apartment. The high density commercial buildup around Yonge Street, with the old Art Deco Eaton's store and Maple Leaf Gardens, where the Leafs used to play. Then the University of Toronto with it's mix of stately Georgian buildings and modern infill. The Provincial Parliament Buildings can be seen at University Avenue. And if you go out past Little Italy, you get to Phil's Barbecue(If you tell Phil or Gloria that George's dad sent you, they'll smile, and ask how you know me.)

    They say suburbia has a "Car Culture." I suggest that there is also a "Streetcar Culture". The riding experience is qualitatively different from driving or taking a bus- the ride is smoother and quieter, without the abrupt changes of direction a tired vehicle has. The experience is almost meditative. The mindset of riding the streetcar- that you have to plan for the variations induced by having to wait for the car (usually less than 10 minutes, and you can check car arrival times on line if you want to adjust the time you leave the house), and that you should have your book, paper, phone or Gameboy ready (not really fond of the last two, but I report it like I see it)- make it different from the car.

    It not only changes the vehicle you use.

    It changes the rider.

    Transit is not only about lower costs and providing for the disadvantaged. It is a tool for determining land use patterns. It is also a tool for building community. If done right, over time it becomes embedded in the fabric of city life.

    This value proposition- that you are building community, and that this community spirit will eventually help with the growth of the city, improve business opportunities and property values- is rarely advanced.

    But I believe it to be true.


    Great post Lloyd. When you mentioned Maple Leaf Gardens I thought for a moment you were going to go on to say something about seeing the Leafs win the Stanley Cup there - but maybe you;re not that old!

    I agree absolutely that the trams/streetcars are a completely different experience - even though you can read etc, I find that, whenever I am in city that has them, that I am looking at the city. And they are an enhancement to the city and community.

    But I think that is part of the problem in America - they don;t place a high value on city and community. The prevailing attitude of those with money is to use it to build means to get out of the city as fast as possible. The dreaded gated community is middle class America locking itself away from the rest, but now that model is starting to become unsustainable. The "city" is seen as just workplace, or worse, a low income area and the city planning has evolved accordingly. I think that's why the suggestions of doing transit projects often fall flat as people who live out of the city resent the idea of subsidising service for those who live in it, while they are stuck in traffic.

    Building community is not high on the agenda for US planners and politicians, but that is exactly what is required.

    When you mentioned Maple Leaf Gardens I thought for a moment you were going to go on to say something about seeing the Leafs win the Stanley Cup there - but maybe you;re not that old!

    I am old enough to remember, but neither my dad or I was a big sports fan.

    The Gardens loom large in my personal geography because of parking. (Well, parking and sex.)

    I was dating the woman who became my wife in 1993, and I was an unrepentant and mostly unexamined motorist; I drove a small car, dammit, and the fact that small planes were slower was immaterial. Anyhow... this was the second year the Blue Jays won the World Series, and the town was even more sports-mad than usual. I remember the victory celebration on Yonge Street went into the small hours of the morning, and the roar was easily heard in her apartment on Church Street, almost a quarter-mile away. I kept a Blue Jays game schedule in my car, because if they were playing, it meant the expressway into downtown was jammed, and I had to leave extra time to get there.

    When winter came, I had to switch over to a Leafs schedule. Her apartment was about 5 blocks away from the Gardens, and on game nights it was impossible to park at a reasonable cost. (I had found some "magic" spots that fell outside weekend restrictions, and was used to leaving my car there from 6:00PM Friday to Sunday evening for free.) I eventually had to rent a parking space in a nearby building($60.00 a month!)


    Its not all as gloomy as you say. I've been commuting for the last couple years 9 miles each way on my bike. It is not a new bike, but it is good, and no one has ever messed with it. I don't even have one of the those famed "New York Locks."

    Also, I ride my bike by choice. The closest train would get me to where I need to be a bit faster. And my commute would be another 20 min faster by train if I lived only a half a mile to the east and could take an express train.

    Now, whether or not New York rent prices are worth the nice public transportation is an entirely different matter.

    Sorry to go on with a pet conspiracy theory, but this is what I read in a comment in an economics blog (Naked Capitalism), from a silver trader: "Just last week (I think) silver futures made a new high. And it happened with a very odd order. I only had a silver futures book open. The buy order looked like one of those orders that was willing to pay any price for a fill, so it went way up the book, hard, cleaning out every resting order in sight. I actually sold onesies & twosies into it, to see if it’d go higher still, and it did."

    My pet conspiracy theory is that the madness in the silver market might have started because silver is a good neutron absorber, and somebody connected to Fukushima placed an order for a stupid amount of silver, and was willing to pay any price for it. OK, there may be other perfectly valid reasons why somebody might be willing to pay anything for a stupid amount of silver (other people think that someone is so mad at JP Morgan that they would do anything to get at them). But I would at least consider the possibility that somebody willing to pay anything for silver is because they need the silver.

    Immediate Reductions in EIA's Energy Data and Analysis Programs Necessitated by FY 2011 Funding Cut

    The final fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget provides $95.4 million for the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a reduction of $15.2 million, or 14 percent, from the FY 2010 level.


    Initial adjustments to EIA's data, analysis, and forecasting programs include the following:

    Oil and Natural Gas Information
    • Do not prepare or publish 2011 edition of the annual data release on U.S. proved oil and natural gas reserves.
    • Curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.
    • Suspend analysis and reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages.


    Energy Analysis Capacity

    • Halt preparation of the 2012 edition of EIA's International Energy Outlook.
    • Suspend further upgrades to the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS is the country's preeminent tool for developing projections of U.S. energy production, consumption, prices, and technologies and its results are widely used by policymakers, industry, and others in making energy-related decisions. A multiyear project to replace aging NEMS components will be halted.
    • Eliminate annual published inventory of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States.

    Unsurprisingly, I am quite concerned about losing this valuable reporting and analysis.

    (h/t to James A. Jacobs)

    The agency is so much more than just a data collecting institute, they should be doing intelligent forecasts.
    Needless to say, they've been a total disaster in almost every way.
    Their 'advice' has often been interchangeable with delusional lunacy.

    The only thing I will miss is their data collection. They should just keep that and abolish everything else, because that was the only thing that was worthwhile with the EIA.

    I agree with the comments above. Yes EIA forecasts have not been very helpful.

    Funny thing, I attended the EIA energy conference in Washington DC last week and they did not even mention that cutbacks of this size were coming. Possibly middle management at the EIA was not informed of the pending decision.

    In fact, various presenters were hopeful about making their respective energy area more accurate through more funding for better data collection.

    There was a recent TOD poster who said we had past "Peak EIA". I believe that poster has it right.

    Leiten - Good point. Another small matter I don't think anyone has mentioned: forget the cut back - why are they spending so much to generate their output? Maybe I've missed something but they are essentially taking production figures (many of which can't be verified so no work effort there) that are supplied to them and then making projection/charts. And how many hundreds of folks do they have doing this? And remember they aren't generating a new product every month - just updating the product. I can generate a much more detailed and totaly verified output of all the US for about $2,000/month. That would be the subscription fee for the commercial companies that gather this data from all the state. Granted this is just for the US and not the world. OTOH they get the rest of global production handed to them from the other countries. And I suspect that data base, with respect to data points, is rather small compared to just what I can pull up just for Texas. It's not like they have thousands of empoyees out in the field strapping oil tanks and reading NG charts. Pick any month over the last 40 years and I can tell you how much oil came out of each well in Texas. With a couple of clicks I can download the entire data set for that month. A couple of more clicks and I can chart all the data in less than 10 seconds. I can take any oil/NG field in Texas and chart its monthly production over its entire life with just a couple of clicks. Due to secrecy of most of the major oil exporting countries we don't have anywhere near this volumn of data to work with.

    Or put another way, if you ran a company and were paying the EIA for this service would you be satisfied with the cost to benefit ratio? I think we already know that answer.


    2301: erincmccarthy tweets: " wow. PHOTO: Obama and team watching video feed of Bin Laden raid http://tinyurl.com/3djrohj"

    Bet the pucker-factor went up when the chopper went down!

    You betcha!

    Why aren't FES (flywheel energy storage) systems built into conventional ICE vehicles?
    The Prius has one I believe but as far as I know, no conventional vehicles.

    Cost. Fuel is still relatively cheap; automakers shave every penny they can from the cost of building their cars and trucks.

    When gasoline is up around $8 a gallon or so, I think more car makers will use flywheels.

    I'm sure you're correct on that but at home, in Europe, we're already over that price point for fuel and it's still not available or talked of much as far as I know.
    Given the option I'd go for something of practical use over electric windows and refrigerated glove compartments, bum warmers et al...but then, silly me.

    ....and weight (mass, actually).

    So it would be a double whammy on the Prius, in conjunction with the battery weight?
    Or is the flywheel used to top off the battery as opposed to overcoming start up inertia? Therefore a less massive flywheel.

    How about a circular battery that is also a flywheel? Double usage of the weight! (Lateral thinking gone mad).

    Been there before you.

    If there is an accident you not only have the issues of high speed components (that have to be able to resist that angular momentum) you have those as flaming, exploding, lithium bit.

    Many things about this are not good.

    Right. FES is more attractive in systems that don't have to carry the flywheel around.

    The Prius doesn't have a flywheel system, other than the normal engine flywheel.

    They are being developed for racing cars, the Williams F1 team bought out a flywheel company and they used their system in a Porsche car for the Nurbugring 24hrs last year. they are working on a "low cost" system for normal cars, but that is still some way away.


    You have to recognise the flywheel system is only good for small amounts of energy, but at high storage and release rates - i.e. regenerative braking. It is a function that ultracapacitors may yet be able to do better.

    There is a train in the Uk that has a working flywheel system, uses a half ton, 3ft wide flywheel. It can be operated by external electricity, charge up the flywheel in 30s, which will then take the train 800m, so you could do an electric streetcar without needing overhead wires.

    You can see the flywheel unit here

    More impressive still, is that the flywheel system allows radical downsizing of the engine for a stand alone train. This 13 ton train, that can carry 60 people, is powered by a 2L Ford Fiesta engine!
    It has been running for two years on a shuttle service on a branch line in England, and it uses just 10% of the fuel of the diesel railcar it replaced.


    They are also being developed for heavy trucks, like garbage trucks, though hydraulic systems seem to be the preference there.

    As with any of these things, if the cars are small and efficient in the first place, you don't get much more benefit from these energy recovery systems. heavy vehicles, that get driven lots, in stop start traffic, are ideal - thus trains, garbage trucks, buses and taxis are good applications, but it is a lot of money for small benefit on a typical car.

    I see, thank you, that's very interesting.

    Is there logic to using contra-rotating flywheels?

    Only if the vehicle is really sensitive to a unbalanced angular momentum, and/or the flywheel mass is a major faction of the total - such as a lightwieght car, or a plane.

    For the train it doesn't matter.

    It would help counteract torques, flywheels act like a gyroscope, try to tip is sidewards and you get high torque at right angles to your aplied torque. Put two together and those torques cancel out externally, but the axis holding them together would still be subject to the same forces, which might fail catstrophically if you push it hard enough. So your flywheel must be gimballed, so the axis of rotation can stay fixed.

    No. The Prius has a battery not a flywheel. Flywheels are controversial, metal spinning at something like the speed of sound, lots of mechanical energy to worry about in an accident.

    Yeah that is an interesting draw back. Any encounters I've had with large pieces of spinning metal have never worked out to my advantage....
    Has anyone ever tried springs? Passive and can store a lot of energy...

    Springs can store a lot of torque, but not much energy, and they are heavy for what they store. Also, because of Hookes law (F=kx) the torque output decreases as they unwind, which is hard to integrate into the drive train. The flywheel generator can be set up for constant voltage (but variable amperage) output, which can be directly used by an electric motor.

    Porsche is incorporating the Williams flywheel system into its new 918 supercar. It has a563(!) hp engine driving the rear wheels, and then two 75kW motors for the front wheels, which collect braking energy and store it in the flywheel. The total is a tyre-tearing 763hp - roughly equal to seven Toyota Prius'!

    So you have a "part time" 4wd, with the regen on the front, where it is the most effective, and the engine drive at the rear, where it is the most effective.

    The flywheel spins at 36,000 rpm!


    Of course, a super car like this is really not a model for sustainability, but as a technology test bed it is fine - many improvements like turbocharging and fuel injection, start out in performance cars and make their way to mainstream, eventually.

    It could be a way to do a hybrid "lite", but I think the real use will be in heavier vehicles (trucks and trains) which from their website, Williams is clearly targeting.

    I give the editors of this journal New Scientist the credit for clear vision. This journal appears to be one of the few not in thrall to the old paradigm.


    But today Japan's Kyodo news agency quotes unnamed sources within various nuclear utilities saying that the power these, and existing, backups can provide is just not enough. At Hamaoka, a plant critically straddling a quake-vulnerable subduction zone, Chubu Electric Power's nine newly deployed diesel generators lack the power to cool the five reactors. That means there will be a delay in getting enough backup power until three extra gas turbine-powered generators can be acquired and safely positioned.

    The plant at Tsuruga needs 3500 kilowatts to safely cool its reactors, but the backups can only deliver 1020 kilowatts, says Kyodo - and that can't be fixed til next March. The agency's sources says the power available will "only run measuring gauges and small-scale water injection devices". And at the Tomari power station, a 3,200 kilowatt backup generator cannot "achieve stable shutdown" of the reactors - and that won't be fixed until some time in the next two years.

    If confirmed, Kyodo's story is appalling news for Japan. Nuclear power stations can never be switched off since residual heat from low level fission must continually be transported away from the core. The lack of backup power means further accidents are waiting to happen.

    Interesting that this has prompted no discussion.

    Are TODsters just as bored with exploding, melting reactors as everyone else?

    I'd say fried more than bored. (maybe 'Par-boiled' is a better term)

    We can't be fried; low-dosage radiation is perfectly safe. Maybe even good for us.

    Oh, maybe you meant by news coverage. ;^)

    Now, why the hell am I awake, typing here? It's seriously time for bed.

    TAE is still on the case. From Stoneleigh, yesterday:

    The best interpretation of data and events at Fukushima is being provided by Arnie Gundersen at Fairewind Associates, a nuclear engineer of long experience. His most recent contribution puts the events of the last six seeks in stark perspective. He compares the explosive events at units 1 and 3, providing a very convincing case for the unit 3 detonation having resulted from a prompt criticality in the spent fuel pool. Pieces of fuel rods have been discovered as much as two miles away, plutonium dust has been detected on site and uranium and americium powder has been detected as far away as the US, indicating the volatilization of nuclear fuel.

    [emphasis added]

    It's a sobering read, as is the ongoing situation, despite the MSM news cycle's loss of interest.

    Except that the building 3 explosion looks exactly like a diesel fuel explosion, complete with flameout.

    That could certainly scatter fuel rods around, it's still an explosion, but this whole "prompt criticality" supposition doesn't make any sense given the visual evidence. Primarily because an explosion from a prompt criticality would not involve anything actually burning, it is a vaporization event rather than a combustion event.

    Where the explosion initiated would seem to be of critical importance (pardon the pun). If in the bottom of the pool, then fuel will be blown everywhere. If in the superstructure, then fuel damage may still have occurred, but distribution would be much less.

    Seems like radiation signatures would be a clear indicator of ongoing criticality. We're far enough along that short-lived isotopes should be dropping significantly. If some cores are still cooking, it will make the cooling efforts harder and eventual access much more difficult.

    From my armchair, I can't see that the situation is getting much worse or much better -- it's just stewing and spewing perpetually.

    Well, the ignition point would be at a hotspot.

    Your guess is as good as mine as to where one might find such a hotspot in a (partially?) drained fuel storage rack, but I wouldn't say it was far removed from the fuel rods.

    I'm amazed at the American public's ability to suck up whatever new adrenaline rush that the MSM comes up with, no matter how ludicrous it is. The second or third or fourth going of OBL, for instance. There is no critical judgement or prioritization as to what is important. Peoples' paradigms become more and more dysfunctional as the world changes. Eventually they just sit blob -like on their sofas and wait for the latest newsfeed. I am traveling amongst the old folk in florida and I'm observing it. It's a not-so-interesting way to die.

    I've been posting about this occassionally for weeks - there is no way in hell that a concentrated explosion that resulted in a nearly instantaneous mushroom cloud (for lack of better description) several hundred feet high and a visible shock wave did not obliterate the containment of those pools.

    "Pieces of fuel rods have been discovered as much as two miles away..."

    Not surprising at all when one watches the explosion.

    Here is a before and after image of the reactor buildings. Move the cursor to see the "after" photo. #3 is somewhat more damaged than #4. #3 is not obliterated. It is not razed to the ground.


    Consider that the explosive force was directed upward by the shape of the pool. An explanation is needed of how criticality could be produced in a mass of uranium oxide pellets that are not highly enriched. The next mechanism that needs to be illuminated is how such a mass can be assembled and held together long enough for explosive forces to be developed. This requires a tamper. "Assembly" has a special meaning in such matters.

    Here is a paper that goes into the geometry and speed of the assembly:
    At the bottom of page 819:
    "The fissionable material must be of sufficient size and density that a neutron born within it is likely to cause a further fission within it." So, there must be enough assembled mass that fast neutrons are going to hit something. That is what the reflector is for: to give the neutrons leaving the assembly another pass through the mass. Two fuel rods laid together will not supply a long enough flight path in all directions to intercept enough of the proposed neutrons. The mean distance between fissions is perhaps on the order of centimeters.

    In a functioning Boiling Water Reactor, the neutrons are slowed-down by a component called the "moderator"... which is the water... the same water that boils and runs the turbine. The water in a BWR is not borated. If a steam void appears, the nuclear reactions stop in that area. If the reactor is boiling along happily, with the control rods adjusted to account for the loss of reactivity in the average area of the voids... and the steam-line to the turbine is shut off: the pressure rises, the voids collapse, and the reaction rates then rise sharply. So the moderating action of the water slows the neutrons down so that they may interact with the less dense fuel. The water is also needed to remove the heat from the fuel rods, even in a rector which was running and is then shut down. The induced radionuclides are still making the "heat of decay" which arises without any neutrons being exchanged.

    Can a great mass of used, fuel rods that are compacted together by an uncontained gas detonation and lacking the presence of either a moderator or a reflector produce an explosive force of its own? The spent fuel pool rods are used. They are highly radioactive with alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. This has no meaning in this context. However, there are neutrons, too: "Neutrons emitted from an irradiated fuel assembly can originate primarily from three sources: (1) spontaneous fission of actinide isotopes; (2) interaction of alpha particles from radioactive decay with light materials, 18Oxygen in particular; and (3) induced fission in the fissile material from the first two sources. Over short cooling times, photoneutron production from the 150 ppm of 2Hydrogen in natural water can be significant". So some initiating neutrons are possibly available:
    They are also contaminated with neutron poisons:
    The accumulation of these within the fuel rod is what sent it to the pool in the first place: There are neutron absorbers distributed within the fuel rod in excess to its initial load.

    Can a great mass of new fuel rods compacted together by a frame even reach criticality? Perhaps not, even when they are touching each other:
    The geometries are shown starting on page 5 of 64. The results are on page 10 of 64. Criticality is approached only when water is added. Notice how tuned the system is. As the rods are moved apart, a "sweet spot" is found that needs the least water fill height. The rods being the closest together needs the most water height because there is no room for the water around the rods.

    Here is a nice explanation of fuel-rod manufacture:
    "Criticality Prevention Devices in Nuclear Fuel Production"
    Paragraph [0007], after all the drawings, talks about arrangements of fissile materials and moderators. Paragraph [0023] located on page 2 also speaks of a moderator. It implies that a moderator is necessary to have an accident, even with lots of fuel about. (It points out that hydraulic fluid can act as a moderator. That is interesting.)

    The Gunderson proposal has the pool in an empty state.

    Making a nuclear explosion adds another level of complexity. The materials have to be "assembled" with explosive speed and then held in that configuration while the energies build.

    A steam explosion might be a more viable proposition.

    Broken diesel or hydraulic lines might leave oil floating on the surface of the pool. The oil could be volatilized in the heat of exposed rods and add to the explosive mix.

    My knowledge is quite limited. Much of the data is not available to the public. The exact conditions at Fukushima won't be known for a long time. The radionuclide signature of the event is not widely known. That is where the truth is to be found.

    Also, see John Ross's reply here:

    From up-top: "Rising gas prices not enough to stop third shift plans at GM's Flint Truck Assembly"

    ... fuel prices have spiked past $4 a gallon, but GM is betting enough people and businesses need new trucks -- gas prices be damned -- to make the move stick.

    I guess it is like "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

    "I don't think truck sales are in any big danger," Torak said.

    Famous last words.

    Four Corners (NM)Electric company to lease 'solar gardens' to customers:


    Seas could rise up to 1.6 metres by 2100: study

    The Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) study, drawing on work by hundreds of experts, said there were signs that warming was accelerating. It said the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice free in summers within 30 to 40 years, earlier than projected by the IPCC.

    "In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9 meters (2ft 11in) to 1.6 meters (5ft 3in) by 2100 and the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet will make a substantial contribution," it said. The rises were projected from 1990 levels

    I think being a civil engineer with specialization in dike building will be a good profession to be in. It is an ill wind that blows no good.

    It said the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice free in summers within 30 to 40 years

    I expect it within the next three years. In fact, I think we may be left with only the thick ice in the Canadian Archipelago this summer.

    The guy who said 2013 a few years ago is now saying by about 2016.


    I think he may have been correct the first time, at least for all but the archipelago.

    Good points, p. Have you been watching the cryosphere today maps. The last two days have shown 80% ice spread in a wide sweep across the north pole. Maybe it's just wind and will blow together as soon as it opened up, but on other blogs, people who have been watching this stuff for a long time say they have never seen anything like it this early in the year. It looks as though almost all the 'ice' up there may be just salty much that will evaporate rapidly once the melt season really gets underway.


    It looks as though almost all the 'ice' up there may be just salty much that will evaporate rapidly once the melt season really gets underway.

    Pretty much. I agree about it being mush. If it weren't we'd have much more solid ice up there now. I don't quite understand why scientists keep so badly underestimating this except that it's what scientists do in being cautious speaking to anything they can't state as fact.

    If we have anything ranging from normal weather to weather conducive to melt, expect a new minimum extent record, and expect the fifth or sixth year straight year of a new minimum mass record regardless of weather unless it's suddenly freakishly cool and calm up there. As you said, mush, combined with bottom melt.

    There is one interesting feedback coming into play in more fresh water from melt and runoff which freezes harder than water with higher salt content which might help with slowing melt and slow the trend?

    That is more telling, and frightening, evidence of the pickle we are really in.

    One of the top posts above, http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2011-05-01-cnbc-us-squan..., cites a study which shows nearly 2x times LARGER carbon footprint from a hypothetical family's embodied footprint related to food vs driving a 25 mpg car 12,000 miles.

    Instead of waiting for the next hybrid car, solar panel or train station to be built by others, each planting a garden will have a large effect on their footprint. It's more work than a purchase, but there's still time this spring.

    And it may not.

    Honestly, this story comes up every spring since 2007.

    Based on your comment I'm not sure if you read the link. It was from a presentation at the first Offshore Technology Arctic Conference Feb. 6-9, 2011, in Houston. It was an analysis of oil & gas potential in the various arctic basins. Didn't cover climate change much.

    The main proved basins and mostly untapped reserves are located in Russia, the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, and the Yamal Peninsula for gas and in Alaska, the North Slope basin for oil. Others important basins are Timan-Pechora in Russia as well as the MacKenzie Delta and Sverdrup basin in Northern Canada.

    Several basins mainly located in Eastern Russia are totally virgin, devoid of any exploratory wells, and are conceived only through neighboring outcroppings as well as sparse 2D seismic lines. They are mainly the offshore North Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberia platform, and North Chukchi that together represent more than five times the surface area of Texas.

    For explorationists, two key questions are:

    Why so much gas at a scale unknown in any other region of the world?

    Can we find oil in the Arctic and where? The latter question is important, because Arctic gas except in the Yamal Peninsula and Barents Sea could be stranded for long periods

    I hadn't read it yet. Looking at it now, it's pretty much the same material I saw last year (though packaged up better), and the year before that. There are oil and (mostly) gas deposits on the continental shelf areas of the Arctic Ocean. The Russians have the biggest ones. Exploiting them is a future possibility.

    Nicer article, same story. Sprouts every year along with the morels out in the woods.

    There are some interesting videos about energy at Brasscheck TV that members might like:


    Warmest April on record confirmed

    Last month was the warmest April in the UK on record, with virtually no rain in some areas, the Met Office said. The average temperature was 10.2C (50.4F), beating the previous April high of 9.2C (48.6F), recorded in 1943. Rainfall in the driest region, East Anglia, was only 5% of the expected amount, and even in the wettest parts of Scotland it was down 30%.

    BBC forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker said it had been an "absolutely incredible" month across the whole of the UK. The mean temperature of 10.2C was 3.3C higher than the long-term average of 6.9C (44.4F) recorded throughout the period of 1971 to 2000. Mr Schafernaker said figures so much above the average were "almost unheard of". The maximum on any one day was 26.5C (79.7F) in East Sussex, "a normal July temperature", he added.

    It also looks like the 300 year old CET (Central England Temperature) record has been broken.

    And we had a record breaking cold December just four months previously.

    Yes it really feels like summer here. All the plants have come out far too early - bit disorientating as you begin to think it's much later in the year then it actually is.


    "Warmest April on record

    3 May 2011 - Provisional Met Office climate figures for April 2011 indicate that the month is the warmest on record with many parts of the UK seeing temperatures 3 to 5 °C warmer than normal. The month is also the 11th driest April in the UK. These records go back more than 100 years, to 1910.

    The UK average temperature was 10.7 °C exceeding the previous warmest April on record of 10.2 °C in 2007.

    The warm weather was also accompanied by mainly dry conditions through the month. The UK average rainfall total was 36.7mm - 52% of the long-term average."

    Hold the horses. That report linked to above is from 2007 BBC report. However, the unoffical reports for 2011 in the weekend press is that April UK temperatures were indeed a new record high - at least in Central England. This site (Phillip Eden) whilst not very flashy, is reputed to be a soild source of reliable UK statistics. We shall see when the 'formal' month of April numbers are released by the Met office in due course. However in the meantime it would appear that the UK April headlines were as follows:

    Central England Temp (CET) Temperature: 12.0C (+3.9degC)(New CET record high)
    England & Wales Rain: 12.8 mm (21 per cent average)
    England & Wales Sun: 238.5 hours (152 per cent average)

    Note: CET records go back to 1659, but with precision of 0.1 degree since only 1722)


    Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
    Undertow's link is to an April 2007 story.

    Oops, I knew we had just broken the record so searched for the BBC link. Didn't notice it was an old one!

    Here is the correct link as the BBC website has just caught up.

    Heatwave sees warmest UK April for more than 100 years

    Last month was the UK's warmest April on record, the Met Office has said.

    The records, which go back more than 100 years, show much of the UK experienced temperatures 3 to 5C warmer than is normal for April.

    It was also the 11th driest month, with on average half the usual rainfall.

    But there was also great variation in the amount of rain. Parts of north-west Scotland saw about 110% of normal April rainfall, while parts of south-east England saw less than 10% of normal.

    The UK average temperature was 10.7C, exceeding the previous warmest April on record of 10.2C in 2007.

    ...A BBC Weather Centre spokesman said: "The UK-wide records began in 1910, but the central England temperature series goes back to 1659, making it the warmest April here for over 350 years."

    Correct, but my subsequent link, and that of Dohboi's above to the Met office (provisional figures) support the 2011 April figures as being a new record hot month (April) for the UK, superceeding those reported back in 2007.

    April 2007 - 10.2C (previous record)
    April 2011 - 10.7C (3.7C warmer than 30 year average).

    Quite interesting because over here in Cascadia, we have had an April among the coldest in wettest in many places. Generally not new all-time records for the month of April, but definitely out on the cold/wet extreme. In some places, such as Redmond, OR, March turned out warmer than April!

    For many plant species here in Vancouver, BC, our Spring bloom has been late by 3 to 6 weeks.

    I guess you Brits are getting all our warm temperatures!


    Radioactive cars from Japan arrive in Chilean port
    Mon May 2, 11:40 am ET

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Customs agents in Chile have detected low levels of radioactivity in cars shipped from the Japanese port of Yokohama.

    Chile says the radioactivity was found in 21 of nearly 2,500 cars that arrived in Iquique aboard the Hyundai 106 cargo ship.

    About a hundred port workers have protested, saying their health was at risk

    Can I get a Mr. Fusion with that?

    That news could kill sales of Japanese cars in the US, even those that are built domestically. Some of our population have a very special blend of paranoia and ignorance.

    Well, the upside is all those glow in the dark cars should cut down night time accidents ;-)

    That news could kill sales of Japanese cars in the US, even those that are built domestically.

    Why, that would be... awful! Whatever would we do without new car sales? Why, we'd have to turn our economy in a totally new direction.

    Utterly unimaginable.

    The smaller radioactive ones might make kinda interesting combination garden lighting and planters.

    Gives a whole new meaning to the term "hot car" :-).

    A report from the disaster zone in Madison county Alabama:

    Let's get the human element out the way first, then turn to energy and power issues.

    The weather radar's color turned purple, the TV weatherman projected multiple tracks headed directly toward my area. I quietly accepted that death could be imminent and sent an email to my brother with my last will and testament. In the end they missed me, but not by much. Also, it turns out I don't fit completely into my bath tub, my feet tend to hang out. No damage to my house or my neighbors. The areas around me got hit pretty hard. Just a couple miles north of me in the Anderson Hills subdivision they pretty much got wiped out. I have plenty of food and water, haven't had power since the night of the storms.

    I am sorry for any editing issues, I just don't have the battery power to spend time looking for spelling and grammar mistakes. It is raining today, so no solar power (I really need to by a MUCH bigger battery). So I have to post and run using one of those mobile broadband things you plug into laptops, and the laptop is running out of juice to.

    Now to energy and power issues.

    1)I have been slowly collecting solar power components over the last couple of years. My goal was to run my small chest freezer off solar power if some kind of disaster hit. I chose a standard 110V chest freezer rather than a DC one because I could run it off the grid when it was up and operating. When you really dig down on the numbers for the DC and AC chest freezers they have about the same efficiency.

    2)I did not assemble any of the components before hand. That was a mistake. Trying to put unfamiliar electronics together in the aftermath of a disaster is a lot harder than you think. The stress and shock of the situation makes focus and concentration quite challenging. I fried one inverter, one battery pack and destroyed innumerable connectors. It took a while to get my crimping skills down to the point where the wire would actually stay in the connector. Luckily I was always big on redundancy. Over the years, as I saw something, a box of connectors, a good buy on a portable power supply, I would just buy them and store them away. As a side note, you can never have enough “wire nuts”. Especially the big ones. They are great for connecting different gauge wires.

    3)Some things I have learned. The solar “kits” sold by Costco, Samsclub and Harbor Freight are complete garbage. They are better than nothing, but the difference between cheap solar components and good commercial ones is tremendous.

    4)Of the two “sharp” 80 watt panels I bought from Costco online, one was dead out of the box.

    5)The “Sunforce” kits I bought from the local Costco and and the generic solar kit from Harbor Freight worked, but are so heavy I can barely lift them. And you have to move them around a lot!!! Plus they are a really a pain putting together, and the connectors don't look very waterproof. They are better than nothing, but I would not put my faith in them long term. To much weight on cheap components means an early failure.

    6)The really champions are the two 15+ year old 60 watt Uni-solar panels I purchased just to play with back in my youth. Rugged and near impossible to destroy, I have abused them for years storing them in crappy conditions, covered in dust and grunge, but when I hauled them out and dusted them off they worked just fine. Plus they are light and easy to handle. To bad the don't seem to make them any more.

    7)I never permanently assembled the panels outside because this is tornado and hurricane prone area the very thing I need the panels for would have destroyed the panels. So I am reduced to placing them by hand every morning and bringing them in every night. Don't want to leave them out overnight because of moisture and looters.

    8)Inverters and the freezer were a problem at first. I had measured the running watts on the freezer and it was about 100. So I figured a three hundred watt inverter should do the trick, especially with its surge capacity. Nope! Nor did the 500 watt inverter. It took a 1000 watt EXELTECH pure sine wave inverter to get the freezer started. Thumbs up to EXELTECH!!!

    9)It takes a lot of power to start the freezer and that means your battery needs decent depth of charge and DIRECT sunlight falling on the panels. That first 60 second it is a real power hog.

    10)In the end, the array I have used consists of a Sunforce 60 watt kit, a 80 watt Sharp panel, and two 60 watt Uni-solar panels. It is incredibly important to have a buss block to tie all this together before it goes to the charge controller. What a mess of wires. When this is all over I am going to have to rethink how I want this wired up. Currently I would categorize it as an electrical hazard. It is not weatherproof and has to many exposed connections.

    11)Clouds are evil, rainy days are evil incarnate. I will have to break down and buy a generator when this is over. A small quite one.

    12)Cooking is done with sterno and propane. If they run out, I have plenty of wood from my tree pruning, seasoning at the end of the yard. If fact I have been eating quite well thanks to the freezer. Yesterday was ribs, the day before chicken. This morning I toasted a frozen bagel over some Sterno and made tea with a Sterno stove. The “canned heat” is nice because it lasts forever, as does propane. Also you can never have enough heavy duty aluminum foil.

    Things on my shopping list for when this is over:

    More wire nuts, outdoor weatherproof junction box, lots more medium gauge wire, some kind of mounting structure that can survive high winds, or maybe a trailer or nursery wagon to mount the panels on, and a small Honda generator.

    Got to run, since it is raining I am trying to weatherproof some of the panel connections and put them out.

    Those are great notes, Coot. Hang in there.

    The list of items that you found you needed 'once you're in it' is always a great one to share, thanks.

    I've often considered mounting PV with a shelter roof that folds over it for heavy storms, and another feature on that could be making the inside faces of them reflective so you can boost your panel output in mediocre weather. (You might have to be careful about the temptation to boost them up in nice weather, or you might then just add some water-jackets to the backside, and get some preheating to keep the panels from frying under 2-3 suns..


    Good stuff. After any emergencies, it's good to revisit your plans and supplies and WRITE DOWN what needs to change, so that next time you are better prepared.

    I maintain that everybody should maintain a two-week survival supply of money, food, water, etc. I'm not quite there, but close. Solar or a generator is my next step (I have a small generator now, but would like a larger, better one).

    I'd never considered a tornado-induced outage of such magnitude, but that's what an emergency supply is for: the unexpected.

    Definitely have started a list.

    Number one is a lower power solution to my laptop. Maybe a smart phone or a mobile hot spot to use with my iPod touch, or a low power netbook. My iPod touch was a godsend, it used much less energy than the laptop but I had no internet access. Being able to listen to music and watch some stored Itunes TV shows chased away the shadow at night.

    Some other items are an outdoor junction box for the panels, a 12 volt laptop charge (to by pass the need for an inverter). A book on battery maintenance (all my references were on the web.) Multiple tubes of sealant for exposed electrical connections. Propane soldering torch. And a much better solar shower arrangement.

    I like the HP Mini 210 netbook. $270 Office Depot.
    Get a small inverter to run small things, like the netbook: The bigger the inverter, the more power it wastes just running itself.
    The crimp connectors they sell at most automotive and hardware stores are not real. Expect to spend at least half a dollar each for real hardware.
    The Sylvania "Golden Dragon" LED under-counter light is a great thing. It is very bright, runs on three AA batteries, and turns on/low/off as you wave you had past it. Walmart.
    Group-24 sized car batteries store very little power. A Group-27 is still only about 20 Amp-Hours, really. Do not discharge lead-acid batteries below 12.25 Volts. Get one of those cigarette-lighter plug-in automotive digital read-out voltage monitors for about $16. They run on the same 12V that they meter. If you parallel batteries, supply a heavy fuse for each individual one connected to the common power bus.
    I bought a cheap HQRP brand solar charge controller off Amazon. Cute. But not useful unless there is a great surplus of power from the panels: its software is poor. $25, blown. Small enough panel systems that are not going to boil the battery can just be connected to the battery through a diode (also called a "rectifier" when they get big).
    The diode, and a fuse, also stops power flowing from the battery through the panel wiring when the panel wiring gets shorted. Saves a fire.
    Power from a solar panel drops-off quickly as it heats.
    Real installations are made at 24, 48, or even 600 Volts. 12V is convenient at low power levels.
    Try a solid-state refrigerator. They use Peltier cells.They only keep things cool, though.

    Getting first hand, real situation information like this is great. I have been working on many of the same things you are. Now have my solar hot water panels functional, albeit a water leak between them. Haven't been in too much of a hurry to fix as I still get way more hot water than I can use, in spite of losing half of it every night. Plan to run wiring in the attic to connect the pump & controller to an inverter.

    Well on the way to having most of my lighting provided by 12VDC Led's. Storage is an old forklift battery modified to 12V, 485 watts worth of solar panels charging it, no controller, I just keep an eye on the voltage for now.

    Came in handy last month when high winds took out the power for 20 hours.

    You confirmed my suspicion that an inverter for a refrig needs to be 10X the running watts. Also about the cheap kits being garbage. I have seen 162 watts out of my Kyocera 135 Watt panel.

    I have that 45 watt Harbor Freight Package, too. The Panels seem fine.. just forget the charge controller. Use it as a Project Box for a proper Power Station..

    Having a low Volt option for charging lots of other things is really useful.. little inverters are like getting 20's from ATM machines.. the user fee adds up fast.

    Well, the power is back on. About 6 days without power. It is amazing how much tension leaves your body. Tension I didn't even know was there. After all, I was prepared, I was just “camping” inside the house. I had solar power and water and really shouldn't have had anything to worry about, but evidently I was worried. Even the dropping temperatures I could handle, with my cold weather sleeping bag. However the tension was still there.

    Some interesting observations: I was in no way prepared if the water had been cut off. These last few days really struck home how much water I used and how much a hot shower means. Even a lukewarm solar shower was a luxury. Plus all the heat meant drinking gallons of water to stay hydrated. Everyday my clothes were so soaked with sweat they had salt stains. Doing launder without power would have been an overwhelming chore. I am going to have to give serious thought about water supplies and laundry.

    Several neighbors have begun to show flu like symptoms. This strikes me as odd since nobody has really gone anywhere to become infected. I am guessing that the stress has affected their immune systems.

    Another think to be driven home is the number of people requiring power for medical conditions. CPAP machines, oxygen generators and breathing treatments for asthma all require power. Lots of desperate people looking for solutions. (I helped my neighbor out by lending him a portable power supply with an inverter built in. Then diverted some of my precious power to recharge it each morning.)

    Those solutions usually took the form of generators, which were immediately hook up wrong and with insufficient ventilation. Which of course lead to Carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical accidents and broken bones as people kept tripping over the extension cords. Kept the medical people quite busy. Now all those low quality generators will end up on the scrap heap, because they will not not be drained and stored properly. What a waste.

    An even bigger waste was people who ran their generators 24/7 since the power went out. Why in the world do you need to use the precious little gas available to keep your lights on all night? Then there were the hoarders. Why drive all over town to find a station with a generator so he could fill the car up. Then drive home and sit there. What was the point? Every gas station had people just reflexively lining up to fill up their cars and a couple of gas cans. If you are not going to drive somewhere you don't need gas. And with the stoplights out and the street full of debris you should not be out driving anywhere.

    Thanks for sharing

    None of us truly understands unless we ourselves go through similar experiences

    Good luck. During hurricanes down here in Gulf Shores, I just go without until restored. A battery operated flashlight and radio was all I needed, I even had to use the woods for the bathroom for a week. We dug a latrine and buried it all. I think the MRE's have concrete in them anyhow. Seems the Alabama Gulf Coast missed this set storms. Recover soon.

    Another important note. I had two large UPS systems I bought expressly for this kind of thing. They are Xantrex Powersource 1800, each one had 51 amp-hour AGM battery pack. What trash!!! They failed within minutes. Yet never gave a hint that their was anything wrong prior to my using them. Two very big thumbs down for Xantrex UPS systems.

    APC and Tripp Lite make much better UPS systems. Their system worked flawlessly and keep my TV on as the tornadoes were headed toward me. Afterward it was easy to remove the APC's battery and charge it on solar power. The Tripp Lite unfortunately was a 24 volt system and I was running on 12 volt. Its battery was removable but the connectors were recessed and hard to reach. Still it worked when I needed it.

    With the Xantrex, the batteries are buried so deep inside the box I couldn't access them safely. They were to be my first line of defense and the crumbled instantly.

    Edit: Oops I misspoke. It was the larger APC that had the recessed 24 volt battery. The Tripp lite had the same battery setup as my two small APC unit.

    You can load NUT on a PC and it can monitor the UPSs


    These guys also know a lot about different UPSs. One problem that is common to most simple UPSs is that the batteries run too hot. Add a small 12V fan to blow air through or move the batteries outside the case will improve the battery life span greatly. If you have a 24V battery pack run the fan off a regulator from the 24V rather than just putting it across one battery. WARNING, if you move the battery outside the case make very sure you get any extension leads the right way around or you blow the UPS, same applies if you are taking batteries out to charge. APCs tend to eat their batteries in about 2 years, other makes similar. APC is my usual choice though Tripp lite is easier to get around here. Oh, old batteries may bulge and be devils to pull out of the case especially in APCs, also old batteries can leak and rot the metalwork.


    Another few points on UPSs. When they are connected to supply and load they are often using the batteries so this adds wear and tear to the batteries. When the load is off and, sometimes even the unit is switched off, they often are still top up charging the batteries. Again more wear and tear.

    Their real use is so your supply is not interrupted to something power critical. If you are using them for TV then it is a bit of overkill. If you do not need that 100% up time then it is better to have them available to switch the plug to rather than in line the whole time (save electricity as well). Perhaps connect them to the supply (use a switched outlet) for, say, a day a month to top up but keep them switched off and no feed the rest of the time. Should boost battery life.

    Note that some UPSs will not switch on if there is no power and no load. If the power is off then you may need to plug in something like a desk lamp or table lamp to get them to start up, after that they are fine.


    IEA Urges OPEC to Pump More Oil

    The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should produce more crude oil—even of the sour, heavy quality—because refineries would use it at a lower price, the executive director of the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

    Mr. Tanaka also said that because of the current high price of crude, the IEA suspects that refineries are using oil inventories.

    Energy Management Resources Reports on the Volatility of Natural Gas Prices

    ... Here are the some facts regarding the economics of shale gas:

    • There are 2,300 drilled but yet to be completed wells in the Haynesville, Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Barnett plays alone. As a result, producers have an inventory position whose cost structure will continue to put price caps on future price increases.
    • There are potential environmental hazards that can be associated with the process of drilling for shale gas. Consequently, larger investments may be needed to deal with any new regulatory oversight and unanticipated regulations.
    • Storage and pipeline capacity limits are being tested, as U.S. dry natural gas production is expected to grow by about 5.4 Bcf/d through 2015 from the 2010 average.

    ...Major shale producers see today's gas prices making the economics of shale gas, as well as conventional gas, increasingly unprofitable. Weak cash flows have spurred investor concerns that these companies may no longer be able to meet wellhead break-even costs at those prices.

    • Chesapeake Energy Corporation announced they had decided to sell all of its Fayetteville Shale assets and its equity investments in Frac Tech Holdings, LLC and Chaparral Energy, Inc.
    • Chesapeake also announced ramped up investments at the Niobrara oil/shale formation, primarily an oil play, situated in northeastern Colorado and parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas.
    • Voyager Oil & Gas has made similar investment decisions. It will reduce production in its Bakken shale formation and refocus on its Niobrara fields.
    • In response to deteriorating, if not negative profit margins, other shale gas producers are suddenly redeploying their rigs to drill for more lucrative oil. That includes the likes of Petrohawk Energy Corporation, EOG Resources, Forest Oil Corporation, and Quicksilver Resources.

    This is what Rockman, et.al have been saying for some time.

    Chesapeake Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon told analysts on a conference call that the company is seeing a "dramatic increase" in well completion costs.

    Chesapeake said it now expects to spend $5.5 billion to $6 billion on drilling and well completion, up from a prior forecast of $5 billion to $5.4 billion.


    S - And it's his own damn fault! LOL. Same old chicken and egg: get a hot play going with lots of new wells going down and you quickly over tax the service industry. For the few here that might not understand: oil companies don't drill oil/NG wells. Oil field service companies do. I've been on Deep Water drilling rigs that cost $700 million with 140 hands on board and not one of them was an employee of the company "drilling" the well. All service company hands and consultants. About a month ago I had to get a cement truck to pump cmt into a leaky casing shoe. Could not find one cmt truck in Texas within 300 miles (we're about 120 miles from the hot Eagle Ford play that Chesapeake has over 600,000 acs in). Had to have a truck come over 250 miles from La. to bring me the cmt. It cost more to haul the cmt then the costs of the cmt itself.

    That's the nature of boom times in the oil patch...always has been...always will. Some of the service companies are trying to get new equipment built but that can often take more than a year. Same problem: not enough equipment building companies.

    S - The one minor correction I would make is the supposed lack of profitability of conventional NG. Our primary target is conventional (yet deep and expensive) NG. And we can still generate a nice profit (as long as we don't drill too many dry holes) at current NG prices. But the big diiference is the number of such oportunities left to drill. The SG plays literally have many 10's of thousands of potential locations IF NG PRICES ARE HIGH ENOUGH. Not true for conventional NG IMHO. I have $150 million left in my budget this year and we're struggling to find the prospects to drill. This is why the public companies latched on to the SG plays: there aren't enough conventioanl oil/NG prospects left to support all the companies still in business. At least not the public companies who MUST satisfy Wall Street with y-o-y reserve increases even if those increases are not very profictable. I know it sounds strange but even with $100+ oil there still are very few convention oil wells left to drill. Why the "Dry, baby, drill" mantra sounds so silly to us in the oil patch. The Chevron's and Chesapeake's won't ever admit it but the US oil patch will continue to shrink regartdless of the price of oil. Higher NG might give it a couple of more decades. Just as well...I'm getting too old for this cr*p. LOL

    I have $150 million left in my budget this year

    Rockman, you rock! You're the big cheese, the head hauncho!

    Solar power, with a side of hot running water

    ...Like the silicon photovoltaic cells that produce electricity when struck by sunlight, Chen’s system is a solid-state device with no moving parts. A thermoelectric generator, placed inside a vacuum chamber made of glass, is covered with a black plate of copper that absorbs sunlight but does not re-radiate it as heat. The other side of the generator is in contact with ambient temperatures. Placed in the sun, the entire unit heats up quickly, even without facing the sun directly.

    The device requires much less material than conventional photovoltaic panels, and could therefore be much less expensive to produce. It can also be integrated into solar hot water systems, allowing the expenses of the structure and installation to serve two functions at once.


    BUDAPEST — 'The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should produce more crude oil—even of the sour, heavy quality'

    Lady Liberty's new motto:

    Give me your tired (sour), your poor (heavy), your huddled (tar) masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming (deep off) shore. Send these, the homeless (syncrude), tempest-tossed (shale) to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden (gasification) door.

    Just curious, what exactly does Budapest have to do with this?

    Brilliant PE, very funny. Maybe even peak wit? :)

    Thanks JN2, and to FMagyar, Budapest was were the article originated.

    Average gas price in the U.S. is now $3.967 it was $3.952 yesterday. There are soon 15 states with over $4 gas prices. THe national gas price should creep above $4 either at the end of this week or in early first few days of the next.

    The question is how long prices will stay above $4 once the inevitable happens, and if it will go up further north of there. How significant will demand destruction be? I wonder how the refinery situation looks like, since a lot of U.S. refineries have been drawning down supplies at an increasingly brisk clip.

    How significant will demand destruction be?

    leiten, good question.

    Per Don Sailorman, I think it is supposed to be referred to as demand reduction, rather than demand destruction.

    Due to the limited short-term price elasticity of oil (sometimes listed as -0.02), the demand reduction (comparing $4.00 versus $2.75 gas) should be in the order of 1%.
    If the long-term elasticity factor is -0.08, then there would be a 4% reduction over time versus what it would otherwise have been.

    Some of the car manufacturers are seeing a change: GM, Ford sales rise as gas prices drive small car sales

    While many automakers are reporting much stronger April sales Tuesday, they say that rising gasoline prices are having a dramatic impact on buying habits.

    "Consumers are placing an even higher priority on fuel efficiency in every size and kind of vehicle," Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service said in a statement.

    With gasoline prices increasing to more than $4 per gallon in many areas of the country, consumers are starting to trade in larger vehicles for smaller, more fuel efficient ones, GM said.

    leiten, this is a good article that has comments from several experts regarding demand reduction.

    Time to Throttle Back on Gas?

    And over $4 is when you see people start to carpool, conserve dramatically, SUVs will sit on the lot, and people start demanding a political pound of flesh on the issue.

    "Mark Cooper - A 10 percent rise in price will elicit a 2 percent reduction in demand...."

    Mark Cooper's calculation is off by a factor of 10 if a -0.02 short-term price elasticity factor is correct. For a 10% price increase, I would expect only a 0.2%, versus a 2% reduction.

    Anyone else want to comment on Mark Cooper's use of an apparent -0.2 (versus -0.02) price elasticity factor for oil?

    Which comments in the article do you like best?

    Only $80? I've seen several independent research papers suggesting that they need at least $90 to break-even to afford their massive bribes to the masses. Considering the long track record of lowballing the bad news, I wouldn't take KSA's word for anything anymore.

    $80 or $90 sounds about right for the MARGINAL cost of Saudi oil. But their average cost per barrel is way, way lower than that--perhaps in the $20 per barrel range, which number I came up with by studying analyses of Saudi oil on TOD over the past five years. The Saudis could get along very well with oil at $75 per barrel, at least for the next ten years or so.

    The Khurais project, costing $12 billion, produces 1.2 million bpd. Assuming it does that and oil at $80, it took 4 months to pay off, perhaps a bit more for interest. Say six months. Operating it isn't cheap, but it probably isn't anything close to $80 per day per barrel.

    All the talk of what price Saudi needs refers to what they need to run the country and keep the masses happy, as opposed to what it takes to get the oil out.

    Developing new oil should use marginal cost of production as a guideline as when and how much and how deep to drill. For profit maximization, most oligopolists (especially price leaders such as Saudi Arabia) should produce to the point where Marginal Revenue (MR) = Marginal Cost (MC). OPEC as a cartel would like to restrict production to that point, also. Probably Saudi Arabia has little in the way of excess oil capacity; they probably are producing nearly flat out at a rate designed not to damage wells in the long run. But if they did have a few mb/d of excess capacity, the logical thing would be for them not to increase production, because they are the price leader of a cartel.

    All this is just intermediate microeconomics at the undergraduate level.

    Note that one of the characteristics of an oligopolist is that it can make huge profits in equilibrium. Given pure or monopolistic competition, economic profit quickly vanishes.

    Why is Oman trading at $144?


    (at least it was when I last checked)

    i noticed that too. is it a glitch? a glitch in the matrix??

    i can't find any news on this

    80 a barrel is breakeven for Saudi's? So we are suppose to just forget that in the 90's they managed just fine selling their oil for 25-30 a barrel?

    Enhanced recovery techniques cost money. Even the old fields are costing more to produce these days, I'm sure.

    $20 per barrel is probably approximately the Saudi AVERAGE cost per barrel, on a long-run basis. But average cost does not rule production and pricing decisions. MARGINAL cost is way way above long-run average cost per barrel for KSA. They are doing deep-water drilling, and that is not cheap. They are doing tertiary recovery in old fields, and that is not cheap.

    Note also that the dollar was worth a lot more in 1990 than it is now. Real, inflation adjusted costs, for KSA (and everybody else) have risen substantially over the past twenty years. Also, twenty years ago global production was increasing at a pretty good rate; it has been on an undulating plateau since late in 2004.

    Earl – I think some of the conversation gets confused by how folks envision the concept of “production costs”. In the oil patch it’s called LOE (lease operating expense). This is the actual monies spent each month to keep a field producing. But it seems many folks are taking the costs to produce a well as the money spent to drill and compete a well. We also have simple terms for that: DHC (dry hole cost) to punch a hole and see if there’s any oil/NG there and CC (completion cost to make the well a producer) and CWC (completed well cost = DHC + CC). As Don points out so well decisions to drill for oil/NG will be based upon some marginal expectation of CWC vs. reserve potential. But once a well is brought on line those costs are no longer relevant with respect to producing that well.

    About 25 years ago I saw a report that indicated the KSA’s LOE was around $0.50/bbl. Obviously much higher today. I have no factual guess but I woudn’t be surprised if it were less than $20/bbl…maybe even half that. Bu that would be a weughted average. One field might have an LOE of $5/bbl and another $80/bbl. OTOH a new field brought on in the last 10 years might have developed costs of $60/bbl (future URR/cost to develop). But it might only cost $5/bbl LOE since it’s a new field that’s cheaply produced during its early life. But here's the tricky part about using a number like $60/bbl to develop a field: suppose they spent the equivalent of $40/bbl drilling dry holes to find that field. Isn’t the actual cost more like $100/bbl?

    And believe it or not many of the wells completed around the world had total costs exceeding what they'll ever recover. I’ve seen operators complete many wells and put them on line knowing they’ll never recover the total costs. A real example: Dry Hole Cost is $8 million. Finds what looks like $6 million worth of oil. But costs only $2 million to complete the well. So the operator has a net loss but makes 3:1 profit on the completion decision. And his LOE is only $20/bbl and he’s selling the oil at $90/bbl. Maybe every well he drilled had the same economic outcome: producing 2 million bopd at an LOE cost of $20/bbl and selling it for $90/bbl. If you don’t know how much he spent drilling the productive wells + his dry holes + his overhead you might think he has a rather profitable company while in reality he spent $3 billion to produce $2 billion of oil.

    So think about that the next time someone says Company/Country X spent $Y to produce their oil: what are they actually saying?

    Hey Rockman, I had the whole bit judged on black & white criteria and you come along and grey up all the parameters - just kidding, thanks for the insiders look.

    Earl - it's not just gray areas for otusiders. I've sat and watched many heated debates inside a company as to just how "successful" they've been. Lots of different agendas involved.

    Debates on how to measure return on capital invested rage even at the highest level of academia. So if the Ph.D.s and post-Docs can't agree, why should oil men be expected to agree on what a particular set of numbers means.

    One rule of thumb I use is to always look at LOTS of numbers, especially raw ones, and do not be beguiled by some single measure such as Internal Rate of Return. (which is essentially the same as Present Value, but from another point of view)

    New York picks new taxi: Nissan cab is the big winner

    The city announced Tuesday that it had selected Japanese automaker Nissan to produce the "Taxi of Tomorrow" after submitting a bid based on its NV200 minivan design, as first reported by the Daily News.
    The TLC also announced the Ford Transit Connect runner up will be added to the list of approved cab vehicles during the interim period. That means the losing Ford will be on the road as soon as next month, well ahead of the Nissan.

    What energy problem? U.S. oil exports are on the rise


    Clearly, these guys are talking about refined products only and ignoring the large crude imports. Some of the comments below call them on it.

    Still, this is a new low for the Yahoo financial commentators.

    From WorldWatch Institute:

    THE WORLD NUCLEAR INDUSTRY STATUS REPORT 2010–2011: Nuclear Power in a Post-Fukushima World

    Some of the report’s key findings include:

    >Annual renewable capacity additions have been outpacing nuclear start-ups for 15 years. In the United States, the share of renewables in new capacity additions skyrocketed from 2 percent in 2004 to 55 percent in 2009, with no new nuclear capacity added.
    >In 2010, for the first time, worldwide cumulative installed capacity from wind turbines, biomass, waste-to-energy, and solar power surpassed installed nuclear capacity. Meanwhile, total investment in renewable energy technologies was estimated at $243 billion in 2010.
    >As of April 1, 2011, there were 437 nuclear reactors operating in the world, seven fewer than in 2002. In 2008, for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear age, no new unit was started up. Seven new reactors were added in 2009 and 2010, while 11 were shut down during this period.
    >In 2009, nuclear power plants generated 2,558 Terawatt-hours of electricity, about 2 percent less than the previous year. The industry’s lobby organization headlined “another drop in nuclear generation”—the fourth year in a row.

    Despite predictions in the United States and elsewhere of a nuclear “renaissance,” the report concludes that the role of nuclear power was in steady decline even before the Fukushima crisis.

    Full Report: http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/WorldNuclearIndustryStatusReport2...

    Peace Dividend?


    We shall see.

    Perhaps they will start by increasing Tricare premiums:


    I am retired, and on Tricare, and I would support modest premium increases. At least I can't be denied coverage. Everyone has to sacrifice some.