Drumbeat: May 4, 2011

Paying for gas forces painful sacrifices

"Gas prices are like Chinese water torture for consumers," said Mark Cooper, Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America. "The problem is, once you buy your car and once you buy your house your gasoline consumption is pretty much set," he said.

"If the price goes up, people have real difficultly cutting back, and that means they will have to find other areas to cut back which are more discretionary." 0:00 /4:44GM CEO: $4.50 gas would cut deep

For Robyn Fehring, that means taking her four-year-old daughter out of school one day a week. "My daughter had to be cut back a full day in preschool, because we simply cannot afford to take her," Fehring said. "She'll ask me why she can't go to school today and I feel terrible about it because she doesn't understand."

Alaska's Peak Oil Realities

I know we typically look at the trouble our three largest oil-producing states are having with Peak Oil.

Today, let's focus on just one: Alaska.

Because quite frankly, they're having a lot more trouble than the rest.

Huhne defends oil tax hike

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne tonight defended the coalition's tax hike on North Sea oil amid warnings that it has hit investment.

Mr Huhne said the Government could not afford to ignore the sharp increase in oil prices as it struggled to balance the books.

The "trigger" mechanism promised by Chancellor George Osborne also meant the levy would reduce if costs fell again.

Russia Removes Tax Breaks And BP Suffers

The Russian government recently decided to cancel tax breaks for several oil fields in East Siberia as of May 1. The tax breaks were provided for oil exports from the region.

Occidental Oil Workers In Colombia Threaten To Strike

BOGOTA -(Dow Jones)- Unionized workers for Occidental Petroleum Corp. in Colombia are threatening a work stoppage that could halt production at the 90,000-barrel-a-day Cano Limon oil field, a union leader said Wednesday.

Sweeping Reform Attempt Could Shake Up Nigeria’s Oil Industry

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil-producing state, producing more than 2 million barrels per day of light crude. With proven oil reserves of 37.2 billion barrels (along with undeveloped natural gas reserves of 5,200 billion cubic meters), Nigeria can sustain this daily volume of production for many years to come. But the country’s oil and natural gas sector has been rife with corruption, burdened by decaying infrastructure and inadequate refining capacity and vulnerable to militant violence. While the latter appears under control for the time being, the former have yet to be fully addressed. Any attempt to reform the industry would affect output projections, and thus is an important development not only for Nigeria but also for international oil and natural gas markets.

Govt may OK hikes in power rates

The government and the Democratic Party of Japan have begun moving toward allowing Tokyo Electric Power Co. to raise electricity rates to finance the massive compensation payments the utility will need to make due to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to sources.

TEPCO will likely have to pay compensation of several trillion yen, and plans to raise funds through restructuring its business and using corporate profits. But the government was prompted to let the utility giant raise electricity rates because these efforts are expected to fall short of raising the necessary funds. The government and the DPJ would include the rate hikes in an envisaged compensation scheme that would ask other electric power firms to contribute financially, the sources said.

Video from inside Fukushima Daiichi reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Company released video showing a Fukushima Daiichi reactor. The video, captured by a U.S.-made robot, reveals no water leaks, but radiation levels are higher than were anticipated.

Saudi unlikely to lift oil output quickly: analysts

AFP - Saudi Arabia is unlikely to boost oil production quickly to ease the rise of crude prices, because it needs high prices for its own increased spending, analysts at an international banking think tank said Tuesday.

After producing 8.6 million barrels a day in 2010, the world's leading oil supplier will only kick up production to about 8.9 million barrels this year, said analysts at the Washington-based Institute of International Finance.

They said Riyadh needs the higher prices to offset its sharp increase in spending, an effort aimed in part at assuaging Saudis amid a surge in public unrest across the Middle East and North Africa.

Saudi Aramco highlights spending plans

Argus reported that Saudi state owned oil firm Saudi Aramco is expected to accelerate development of its Manifa heavy oil field as part of its USD 125 billion capital spending plan for the next 5 years.

A Saudi oil analyst said that a planned rise in the number of drilling rigs at the offshore Manifa development suggests that Aramco is bringing forward the completion date of a second 400,000 barrels per day phase to 2014 from 2024. It has informed contractors drilling wells at Manifa which will produce Arab Heavy crude that the rig count at the field will rise to around 20 from eight over the coming year. Eight rigs are already drilling extensively at Manifa as part of its first 500,000 barrels per day capacity phase at the field in 2013. The extra 12 rigs are unlikely to be needed simply to complete this phase.

Saudi Aramco ahead with plans

Saudi Aramco is pressing ahead with additional exploration targeting conventional natural gas reserves and is also studying the potential of Saudi Arabia's unconventional resources.

Saad Turaiki, vice president of production at the Saudi Arabian state-owned giant, speaking at OTC yesterday said Aramco is on track to meet its current target of being able to produce 15.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas by 2015.

Saudi Aramco raises OSPs for Asia

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, has raised official selling prices (OSPs) for most crude grades to customers in Asia for June shipments and increased the formula for light blends to US customers.

Lester Brown: Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East

After the Arab oil-export embargo of the 1970s, the Saudis realized that since they were heavily dependent on imported grain, they were vulnerable to a grain counter-embargo. Using oil-drilling technology, they tapped into an aquifer far below the desert to produce irrigated wheat. In a matter of years, Saudi Arabia was self-sufficient in wheat, its principal food staple.

But after more than 20 years of wheat self-sufficiency, the Saudis announced in January 2008 that this aquifer was largely depleted and they would be phasing out wheat production. Between 2007 and 2010, the wheat harvest of nearly 3 million tons dropped by more than two thirds. At this rate the Saudis likely will harvest their last wheat crop in 2012 and then be totally dependent on imported grain to feed their Canada-sized population of nearly 30 million people.

Lester Brown: The New Geopolitics of Food

In the United States, when world wheat prices rise by 75 percent, as they have over the last year, it means the difference between a $2 loaf of bread and a loaf costing maybe $2.10. If, however, you live in New Delhi, those skyrocketing costs really matter: A doubling in the world price of wheat actually means that the wheat you carry home from the market to hand-grind into flour for chapatis costs twice as much. And the same is true with rice. If the world price of rice doubles, so does the price of rice in your neighborhood market in Jakarta. And so does the cost of the bowl of boiled rice on an Indonesian family's dinner table.

Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we've seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet's poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute -- and it has -- to revolutions and upheaval.

IMF sounds alarm over rising food, fuel prices

The International Monetary Fund is warning that poverty levels will rise in Africa, unless the current spike in food and fuel prices is arrested.

Oil Scarcity and its impact on the Global Economy

In the latest edition of the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook publication, the IMF dedicates a chapter entitled "Oil Scarcity, Growth and Global Imbalances" to an examination of the world's oil markets and the impact of growing oil scarcity on the world's economy. In this document, the IMF seeks to answer the current status of oil scarcity, how oil scarcity will impact the global economy and how oil scarcity will impact economic policies around the world.

Now that the price of both Brent and West Texas Intermediate seem solidly positioned above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2008, this is a timely study. Demand for oil has risen and, for some major consumers such as China, consumption levels have reached new records. Since oil is central to the world's economy, the impact of oil price volatility is key to economic growth and security. While oil prices have risen and fallen over the past 4 decades, it is only now that the issue of looming oil scarcity is becoming increasingly discussed.

Chemistry and our diet by 2020

Any change in our diets between now and 2020 will come down to a mixture of demographic, societal, economic, and scientific developments. The global population continues to grow and the fraction of the global population with more disposable income to spend on foods is increasing, particularly in Asia and South America. Consequently, the world will have to grow more food and use the food produced more efficiently. This will put an increasing strain on limited global resources, such as land, water and energy. Science and technology will play a key role in increasing the quantity and quality of foods available, and in ensuring that they are preserved, transported, and used efficiently.

Russian April Inflation Quickens for First Time in 3 Months on Food, Fuel

Russian inflation accelerated in April for the first time in three months to match the fastest pace since October 2009 as higher food prices and gasoline shortages fanned cost pressures.

Rising river causes fears of gas shortage

(WMC-TV) - Many fears rise with the river level and some people are afraid floods may shut off the flow of gasoline.

Prices at the pump cause enough concern these days and now there are fears the rising Mississippi River may impact production and possibly lead to a shortage of fuel.

Fuel Shortage Adds to Many Problems in Unrest-Hit Yemen

Long queues of cars have lately been seen at the filling stations in most of Yemen's cities due to an acute petrol shortage which adds to the many problems and shortages caused by the months-long unrest.

Many filling stations were closed down in the capital Sana'a and the business capital Aden, and there were reports that the Yemen Petroleum Company circulated that the filling stations, still open, should fill in only 30 liters of petrol per car.

Vietnam: Fuel price speculators to be penalised

BINH PHUOC — The local authorities in southern Binh Phuoc Province launched inspections to prevent petrol station operators speculating in fuel, following shortages over the long weekend.

Violators would have their licences revoked, provincial Department of Industry and Trade director Tran Van Uy said.

The move was made following information that petrol stations had closed or refused to sell petrol in the belief that fuel shortages would lead to a price rise.

State blames marketers for artificial fuel shortage

The situation forced many Kenyans to walk to and from work after public service vehicle operators pulled out their vehicles due to the shortage.

The few that were operating took advantage by hiking fares by as much as 70 per cent.

By last evening hundreds of commuters were stranded within the city centre for lack of transport.

Kenyans queue for fuel

Long queues formed in Nairobi and its outskirts Wednesday as a crippling fuel shortage continued to bite.

Motorists were turned away from most oil stations for lack of petrol and diesel, while others patiently waited for their turn to fuel their cars.

Pakistan: Protest against prolonged load shedding

SIALKOT (PPI): The hundreds of the industrial workers, traders and industrialists, today, staged a big agitational demonstration near Small Industrial Estate Sialkot and they kept blocked the main Shahabpura Road for about two hours by burning the tyres on the road as a protest against the unending prolonged power outages in Sialkot.

Circular debt, gas shortage behind outages: Pepco

LAHORE: It is the Circular debt and gas shortage and not the dwindling generation that are the main reasons for the unprecedented loadshedding that had troubled the people in the month of April this year. This disclosure was made by Rasul Khan Mehsood, Managing Director Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), while talking to the media here at the Wapda House on Tuesday.

World LPG supply dwindles on increased sales to Japan

The Energy Ministry is preparing measures to cope with fuel shortages caused by Japan's nuclear power crisis.

Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami shut down nuclear plants, Japan has been buying other types of fuel, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG), from around the globe to substitute for nuclear energy, prompting concerns in other countries including Thailand about a possible shortage of fuels.

Petrobras pre-salt break-even drops

Estimates from Petrobras of the break-even point for producing crude from the Santos basin pre-salt have dipped to an international oil price of between $35 and $40 barrels.

Improvements in drilling in the pre-salt environment and rising well productivity have reduced costs by almost half compared with 2008 estimates, the state-controlled company said.

Strike halts Nexen Yemen flows

Canadian independent Nexen is reported to have halted production at its Hadramout oilfield in southern Yemen due to a worker strike, adding to the already disrupted output from the country.

Osama bump? Dead schmed, say oil traders. Long live Ben Bernanke

Osama bin Ladin is dead. So why haven't oil and gasoline prices moderated? We are paying $4.25 a gallon for regular gasoline here in Washington, D.C., much less than the $8 and more a gallon that Europeans face, but still a lot for us. At first, prices tried to go down after the slaying Sunday -- oil prices dropped overnight and into yesterday morning as traders (the folks whose casino behavior helps to determine prices) saw Osama's death as a reason for optimism. But then their opinion abruptly turned: Traders callously recalculated and decided that Bin Ladin and the group he fathered -- al Qaeda -- now rarely if ever threaten oil supplies, and sent prices back up.

Oil Supply: An Oil Independent USA...

The simple and accurate answer to the question is a simple NO – the US. can’t become oil energy independent – no matter how much and where we drill. Some of the reasons why I believe this to be true are presented below.

Saudi interests in bid for German refinery-report

HAMBURG (Reuters) - A group of investors including a Saudi Arabian trust is interested in purchasing the Wilhelmshaven oil refinery in Germany put up for sale by U.S. group ConocoPhillips, a German radio station reported on Wednesday.

Nord Stream reaches new milestone

The laying of the first Nord Stream gas pipeline, that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany, is set to be completed on Thursday, with a transfer to commercial operations still on schedule for October.

Pemex Quarterly Profit Almost Triples on Surge in Oil Prices

Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, said quarterly profit rose to the highest since June 2008 as crude prices increased.

The Inconvenient Truth of Vermont's Oil Speculation

In the current regulatory environment, the Green Mountain State is included in those who are defined a speculators. They provide the corpus -- the money -- as investments in hedge funds and commodity indices. In effect, Sen. Sanders is mad with the labor unions and civil service employee retirement plans -- the largest investors in the asset class known as Managed Futures -- what some like to call speculators.

Top 5 myths about subsidies to oil companies

Of course, America needs the oil. But to claim that the industry does much else for the domestic economy in exchange for all the taxpayer support they enjoy is just one of the myths the oil lobby has spun over the years.

To set the record straight, here's our take on all the things that the industry warns that we'll lose if we finally cut their handouts this time.

Don't be scared. Instead, be very, very un-scared.

Hanford group questions nuclear waste storage

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) -- A Hanford group is asking the Energy Department questions about the cost of storing high-level radioactive waste in the absence of a federal repository.

China as Number One? Don’t bet your bottom dollar

In the wake of World War II, with the collapse of the Japanese and German empires, only two powers worthy of the name were left, each so mighty that together they would be called “superpowers.” After 1991, only one remained, so seemingly powerful that it was sometimes termed a “hyperpower” and many believed it had inherited the Earth.

What if, in fact, the U.S. was indeed the last empire? What if a world of rivalries, on a planet heading into resource scarcity, turned out to be less than imperial in nature? Or what if -- and think of me as a devil’s advocate here -- this turned out not to be an imperial world of bitter rivalries at all, but in the face of unexpectedly tough times, a partnership planet?

Bill Gates: 'Cute' Green Tech Won't Solve Energy Crisis

Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Tuesday warned rich nations of the limitations of "cute" energy-efficient technologies, like individual solar panels, and advised spending more money on R&D to make energy cheaper for developing countries.

Guam must reduce reliance on oil

There is much debate in the field as to where we lay in the peak oil continuum. Has oil peaked yet? Is the peak near? Is the peak in the very distant future? This discussion is one factor that is fueling the renewable energy movement around the world.

With nearly 99 percent of our lives dependent on imported oil, Guam is very susceptible to changes in the oil market. Natural disasters, conflicts, wars, unrest in oil-producing countries, and the cost of extraction all put stress on the oil industry, either directly (reduced exports from oil-producing countries or deep water drilling disasters) or indirectly (decreased nuclear energy production in Japan equals a need for more oil-based energy).

Millennium Consumption Goals— plus An Update

1. Halve obesity and overweight rates by 2020 (we’re starting the MCGs later than the MDGs). This will reduce mortality, morbidity, and economic costs, as well as reduce ecological pressures driven by overconsumption of food.

2. Halve the work week from the current 40+ hour per week to 20 hours per week. This will better distribute jobs, wealth, promote healthier living, and reduce economic activity, which is essential in our ecologically taxed world. For a good paper on this topic, read New Economic Foundation’s excellent report 21 Hours.

Sharing, borrowing and bartering go high-tech

Knocking on your neighbor's door to borrow a cup of sugar and sticking around to chat is a ritual as comforting as an old sweater. Neighborly folks, take note — socializing and sharing with neighbors has taken on some high-tech twists.

Websites that connect people who are interested in borrowing, bartering or buying used instead of new are gaining in popularity. Trendspotters have even given the phenomenon a name: collaborative consumption. And they say it's hitting home with consumers because it saves money while connecting them with like-minded folks.

Not Production, Not Consumption, but Transformation

Well-established words can be misleading. In economics “production and consumption” are such common terms that it is easy to forget that they do not really mean what they literally say. Physically we do not produce anything; we just use energy to rearrange matter into a more useful form. Production really means transformation of what is already here. Likewise, consumption merely reflects the disarrangement of carefully structured materials by the wear and tear of use into a less useful form — another transformation, this time from useful product into worn out product and waste. Of course one might say that we are producing and consuming “value” or “utility”, not really physical things. However, value is always added to something physical, namely resources, by labor and capital, which are also physical things ultimately made from the same low-entropy energy and materials that go into products. Nor does the service sector escape physical dimensions — services are always rendered by something or somebody. To abstract from physical dimensions and focus only on utility is to throw out the baby and pour bathwater on the diaper.

Future of farming topic of rural economy forum

The farmland preservation forum called Renewing Rural Economies was hosted by the Ontario Farmland Trust at the Arboretum Center at the University of Guelph. It brought together planning professionals, economic developers and farmers to discuss new development opportunities in agriculture.

"I think we need to continue this dialogue at home and allow more input from rural people on how we are going to plan our future," said Sean McGivern, owner of Saugeen Specialty Grains and Grassroots Organics in Desboro. McGivern attended representing the National Farmers Union. He suggested issues like the approach of peak oil, the lack of skilled labour in the agricultural sector and keeping youth on the farm are important topics for communities to discuss. "What type of economy do we want to have? We haven't really visioned what we want in the future."

The Internet: One big power suck

In a way, for energy producers, the huge increase in usage by companies like Google and Facebook is a godsend. Electricity demand from many industrial clients has dropped by up to 20% over the last few years, largely due to the recession and greater efficiency.

Tech sector growth "has helped make that decrease not so bad," said Steve Rosenstock, an engineer at the Edison Electric Institute, the utility trade association.

The electricity needed to power and cool the millions of servers that make the Internet hum has grown by more than 10% a year for the last decade, Rosenstock said. It now accounts for about 2% of all the electricity consumed in the United States.

Oil hovers near $111 after US crude supply jump

SINGAPORE – Oil prices hovered near $111 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as a report showed U.S. crude supplies rose more than expected last week, suggesting growth in demand could be waning.

...The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 3.2 million barrels last week, more than the increase of 1.7 million barrels predicted by analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Inventories of gasoline rose by 657,000 barrels while distillates fell 1.5 million barrels, the API said. Before last week's gain, U.S. gasoline inventories had fallen the previous three weeks.

U.S. becomes net fuel exporter

NEW YORK (UPI) -- The United States for the first time in nearly 20 years has become a net exporter of fuel as domestic consumers face with high gasoline prices, data indicate.

Records from the U.S. Energy Department indicate that the United States, the world's biggest consumer of oil, exported more gas than it purchased from the global market for the first time in years.

IEA wants more crude from OPEC

VIENNA (UPI) -- The world's biggest oil cartel needs to start producing more crude oil to drive prices down on the energy market, the International Energy Agency said.

IEA advises, look to other oil sources

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has suggested that Thailand should reduce the risk of energy shortages by seeking oil from other sources instead of relying on the Middle East, Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul said on Wednesday.

6 apps to save you money on gas

As gas prices continue to rise, these apps and sites are here to help -- in ways that go above and beyond simply locating the cheapest gas.

Rental car gas prices hit more than $9 a gallon

The price of gasoline has reached more than $9 a gallon for drivers who don't pay ahead of time and who return their rental cars without a full tank.

Act now on peak oil or curtail mobility, says Commission

The European Commission's director-general for transport and mobility policy has warned at a conference on peak oil that it would be a "fatal mistake" for the EU to postpone measures to reduce oil dependency.

"If action is delayed, in the not-too-distant future we may be forced to drastically reduce all our mobility and import technological solutions from other part of the world," Marjeta Jager told a Green Party conference in the European Parliament.

Obama Won’t Hear Carter Echo as Gasoline Prices May Ease During Campaign

Soaring gasoline prices have eroded President Barack Obama’s job-approval ratings and exposed him to political attacks even as futures markets, the chairman of the Federal Reserve and some analysts say prices may soon peak.

Big Oil to Obama: Hands off our tax breaks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The oil industry launched another assault Tuesday in the battle to protect favorable tax rates for energy producers.

The industry's chief lobbyist in Washington, Jack Gerard, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said raising taxes on the oil and gas companies would stifle job growth and do nothing to lower gasoline prices.

Senate to act on energy legislation this month

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate may vote on bills this month to promote clean energy and small nuclear reactors, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday.

Congress and the White House are under pressure to fight soaring fuel costs, which are cutting into consumer spending and threatening an economic recovery.

Bolivia Plans Gas Concessions for First Time Since Seizures

Bolivia plans to award oil and natural-gas exploration contracts this year in a bid to lure back foreign investments five years after President Evo Morales seized fields and refineries, the state oil company said.

Qaddafi’s Forces Bombard Rebel Cities as Allies Prepare for Rome Meeting

Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi bombarded rebel-held cities in the west of the country as ministers from 22 nations prepared to meet in Rome to discuss ways of resolving the conflict.

Detroit automakers make big sales gains

Detroit's Big 3 automakers made big gains last month as auto sales rose overall despite soaring gas prices.

General Motors saw a 26.6% increase, Ford Motor gained 16.3%, and Chrysler Group sales were up 22.5% in April compared with April 2010, Autodata reported Tuesday.

In a sign that consumers may not be panicking over gas prices edging above $4 a gallon in a growing number of states, automakers say their smallest, gas-thriftiest vehicles were not necessarily the biggest sellers. Rather, they say, families were putting practicality before fuel economy.

Russia, China clash over oil price, supply

MOSCOW - When self-proclaimed strategic allies like Russia and China fail to see eye to eye, they do their best to mask their differences, issuing communiques promising amicable solutions at the next round of negotiations, or the one after that. If Moscow and Beijing fall out, the cordiality dries up, and the mutual silence can be deafening.

But not this time round. Just four months since the first Russian crude oil started pumping into Daqing, the northeastern Chinese oil town, Russian pipeline company Transneft has charged China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) with violating their supply contract and is threatening to open court proceedings in London.

'Iran will merge energy ministries'

Iran will merge its oil and energy ministries, one of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's deputies said today, signalling a shake-up of the department in charge of the world's fifth-biggest crude exports.

Chevron to buy new stakes in Marcellus shale

(Reuters) - Chevron Corp (CVX.N) will buy 228,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale, expanding its position in the one of the hottest natural gas shale fields under development in the United States.

BP Faces Huge Fine For 2006 Oil Spill

A $25 million fine slapped on BP for 2006 oil spills in the North Slope of Alaska is as a warning to pipeline operators in the United States, a regulator said.

BP Exploration Alaska Inc. is to pay $25 million in civil penalties and was ordered to implement a system-wide pipeline management program in response to a 2006 oil spill from pipelines on the North Slope.

Nuclear to stay in energy mix: Ferguson

Nuclear power will continue to play an important part in the energy mix for some countries, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says.

Recent problems with the Fukushima power plants in Japan, following the recent earthquake and tsunami, had prompted a re-assessment of the nuclear industry, Mr Ferguson said.

U.S. lawmakers target ethanol subsidies

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A bill introduced by a bipartisan panel of U.S. lawmakers aims to get rid of tax credits for companies blending ethanol into gasoline, backers of the bill said.

U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., aim to eliminate the 45 cent per gallon tax credit for refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline.

Feinstein in a statement said ethanol is the only part of the energy sector protected by what she said was a "triple crown" of government regulation -- its use is required by law, protected by tariffs and the U.S. government pays companies to use the fuel product.

Economic Studies of Biofuels Paint Opposing Pictures in Gas Price Wars

Both sides in the debate over government biofuels support are looking to bolster their arguments with numbers, as new, warring economic studies present differing figures on the role that ethanol production plays in gasoline pricing.

US wind power strategy won't be stymied by warming climate

With the greening of the US economy absolutely essential for any hope of heading off global warming at the pass, wind power is going to have to play a much bigger role in the country's power generation. But what happens when global warming and wind power mix - is it possible that climate change will take the breeze out of the sails of wind power, as it changes the patterns of weather in the US? Thankfully not, if a new paper published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is on the right track.

Climate Activists Target States With Lawsuits

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A group of attorneys using children and young adults as plaintiffs plans to file legal actions in every state and the District of Columbia on Wednesday in an effort to force government intervention on climate change.

The courtroom ploy is backed by high-profile activists looking for a legal soft spot to advance a cause that has stumbled in the face of stiff congressional opposition and a skeptical U.S. Supreme Court.

Arctic ice is melting faster than expected, report says

STOCKHOLM — Arctic ice is melting faster than expected and could raise the average global sea level by as much as five feet this century, an authoritative new report suggests.

The study by the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, or AMAP, is one of the most comprehensive updates on climate change in the Arctic, and builds on a similar assessment in 2005.

Survivor of Dust Bowl Now Battles a Fiercer Drought

BOISE CITY, Okla. — While tornadoes and floods have ravaged the South and the Midwest, the remote western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle is quietly enduring a weather calamity of its own: its longest drought on record, even worse than the Dust Bowl, when incessant winds scooped up the soil into billowing black clouds and rolled it through this town like bowling balls.

‘The Big Thirst’: The Future of Water

We just assume when we turn on the tap, the water will be there, and that the water system buried in the ground is doing fine.

Both assumptions are out of date. Population growth, economic development (which changes dramatically how much water people want and use), and climate change are all putting pressure on water supplies — not just in places like Las Vegas or California, but in Atlanta, in Florida, in Spain, across China.

We are going to have to move from an era of unconscious water abundance to an era of smart water — using water smartly (why do we water the azaleas, or flush our toilets, with purified drinking water?), and also modernizing and updating our creaky water systems. They were advanced technology 100 years ago. Now those systems struggle to keep up with our needs, and struggle for resources.

'Anti-Environmental' House Freshman Leads Charge Against Obama's Clean Water Agenda

"When the hog market went south and times were tough, we were all focused on staying in business, paying the bills and paying employees," the avuncular Gibbs said during an interview in his new, third-floor office in the Cannon building. "When we're making some money, we could focus on maybe improving waterways."

The bottom line: "When you're not making money, you've got to try to stay in business."

U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End

The population of the world, long expected to stabilize just above 9 billion in the middle of the century, will instead keep growing and may hit 10.1 billion by the year 2100, the United Nations projected in a report released Tuesday.

Growth in Africa remains so high that the population there could more than triple in this century, rising from today’s one billion to 3.6 billion, the report said — a sobering forecast for a continent already struggling to provide food and water for its people.

The new report comes just ahead of a demographic milestone, with the world population expected to pass 7 billion in late October, only a dozen years after it surpassed 6 billion. Demographers called the new projections a reminder that a problem that helped define global politics in the 20th century, the population explosion, is far from solved in the 21st.

Re: The Internet: One big power suck


The electricity needed to power and cool the millions of servers that make the Internet hum has grown by more than 10% a year for the last decade, Rosenstock said. It now accounts for about 2% of all the electricity consumed in the United States.

So we can't find anything, in that remaining 98% even greater power suck, that we could possibly do differently to conserve?

Bah! It's the whole system that sucks!

If I had to break down my personal energy use and apportion it how I see fit, I would happily spend 2% on the internet.

I think the point is more to highlight the fact that by merely existing the internet now consumes 2% of the electricity - that doesn't include your personal usage to gain access to the internet via laptops etc. It's just the energy needed to keep the servers ticking over in the background.

But, I agree - the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages in my eyes.

Yes, personal equipment can easily more than double that number. I will fully agree with you today. :)

The myopic view of the article reflects a lack of systems thinking, and considering the big picture. Server efficiency should get 10% of the attention, while using the data network to avoid other power hogs should get 90%:

- Telecommuting instead of F-150 communting
- Amazon shopping day instead of driving to multiple malls in stop-and-go traffic.
- Online business (bill paying, event registration, ticket buying, etc.) versus driving
- Tele/video conferencing versus traveling
- E-mailing documents instead of mailing/Fedexing
- Distance learning versus driving to a campus
- Smart-grid appliance control and dynamic power tariffs

The article does mention that using the Internet can save energy.

Greenpeace's Harrell pointed out that, while he was critical of some of these tech company's power choices, he certainly recognizes the benefits technology has had on reducing energy use -- be it saving time by using Google maps or employing video conferencing software instead of taking a flight.

What I found interesting about the article is 1) the growth rate of 10% yearly and 2) that this is seen as not a problem, but a solution, because energy producers, like other companies, need you to buy more of their product, not less.

Network traffic is growing in leaps and bounds due to roll-out of packet video (including streaming services like NetFlix) plus the increasing use of multi-media apps like Facebook.

"Traditional" traffic like voice and even e-mail is no longer a major fraction of the network traffic (even though something like 90% of e-mail at the server level is spam, which mostly gets filtered).

Stimulus spending for rural connectivity plus increasing video demand will keep the growth up for another year or two at least.

Your second point is the traditional BAU perspective from any business. A little bit interesting, a little bit frustrating, and mostly just indicative of the depth of issues we face.

Edit: Cisco's projections on video traffic growth

... something like 90% of e-mail at the server level is spam, which mostly gets filtered).

Paleocon, any ideas on how this spam could be reduced?

There are lots of approaches out there, but all with some downsides. A little googling will probably tell you more than I can.

- charge more for delivery, so only targeted mail makes sense to send (this would stop junk mail in your mailbox, too, if they had to pay postal rates). This is a slippery slope toward a fee-based Internet, though.
- enable network operators to back-charge each other for spam, so each would have incentive to eliminate spam sourced by their network and to find spam coming in from somebody else's.
- require authenticated sources, so it would be quick and easy to identify and suppress spammers
- add an authorization step whereby the recipient has to authorize a sender to mail to them

The general problem is that most spammer computers are unaware bots in a botnet, spamming away unknowingly. Others are mail viruses that high-jack your e-mail credentials and contacts. Ideally any solution would address computer security in general as well as spam.

Anonymous email is important. There are many reasons when a sender may be at risk if they are traced. Think regimes such as China and various mid east states. Spammers need to be targeted directly. Removal of Windows would be a good start.


How would removing Windows stop spam?

It wouldn't, the problem isn't Windows as such but rather unmaintained systems that are allowed to participate in botnets.

It just happens to be the case right now that well over 90% of those systems are running Windows which is also trivially easy to take control of remotely.

Windows has been historically insecure. Insecure machines lead to being in botnets. Botnets have been used for spam.

One of the talking heads over at Cote's People over process podcast says that Microsoft admits that Windows XP is not able to be made secure.

An unpatched Windows XP box hooked up to the internet without any firewall in place is taken over in under 1 hour according to research. Usually under 30 mins.

If Windows was to go "Poof!" tomorrow, the script kiddy botnetters would have to move to other systems. (Insert request of TOD staffer superG to jump in with how many blind scans his FreeBSD box gets for apps that are not installed each month)

I agree, but then the spammers would concentrate on unsecure linux/apple systems - there will always be loopholes to exploit, it's just that Windows has the majority market share up to now and so it's made more sense to target them.

Application level exploits are sufficient barring mass deployment of SPF and other structural e-mail measures. You don't need to own the whole computer, just an account that is logged in on a regular basis.

Linux and Mac are just as susceptible to those as Windows, unfortunately.

Linux and Mac are just as susceptible to those as Windows, unfortunately.

(Really? Macs are 'just as susceptible' as poorly coded Windows email SMTP servers? Microsoft wanted you to stick FreeBSD servers running Sendmail in front of Microsoft Exchange Servers at one point. Why? Because Exchange sucked that bad.)

And while Macs have a $30 (ish) cost for an upgrade, Linux has $0 out of pocket cost for most upgrades.

Microsoft wants $200 or so.

Thus there can be no 'out of pocket' expense for picking an Open Source base OS like FreeBSD or Linux.

Linux and Mac are just as susceptible to poorly coded applications allowing exploits.

Browser plugin exploits in particular stand to be a major problem as the user base expands to less clueful users, since once an account is compromised you can install your own server software to run as that user.

A minor charge on sending email batches is probably the idea i've seen so far in terms of implementation and restriction. Although frankly punishing a few businesses that advertise via spam would be nice.

Pick any organised spamming group, better if it's located in another country, send in a navy seal team and assassinate the perpetrators without mercy, without trial. That'd make other spammers sit up and take notice!


Haha, the conciliatory power of the internet - yet another marvel! ;-)

Enter SeaMicro

The SeaMicro SM10000s are the first servers purpose built for scale-out workloads. Designed to replace 40 1 RU dual socket quad core servers, the SM10000-64 integrates 512 64-bit X86 Intel Atom cores, top of rack Ethernet switching, server management, and application load balancing in a single 10 RU "plug and play" standards-based server. SM10000s use 1/4 the power and take 1/4 the space of today's best in class volume servers without requiring any modifications to existing software.

I have no financial interests in this company but, I'm a huge fan of technology that significantly reduces the amount of power required to carry out computing tasks. A couple years ago when my 2.6GHz pentium desktop was starting to get long in the tooth, I was looking at what I could replace it with and all I could see were multicore, multiGhz, power hogs of processors that, promised leaps and bounds in performance that I did not need. Frankly, the only task that was begging for more speed was playing around with virtual machines (running other operating systems for example within a "virtual machine" on the primary OS).

Along comes the Intel Atom and my problem was solved. I bought the first dual core desktop motherboard using an Atom CPU, to replace my aging desktop and was completely satisfied. At the same time power consumption went down from 117W to under 40W. I recently upgraded to the latest version of the technology for a 10% increase in processing power and a 25% reduction in power consumption.

Intel is now facing competition in this space from AMD and ARM, a major player in the smart phone/embedded device space. I say, the more the merrier as much more focus needs to be placed on power consumption. SeaMicro is just the first out of the gate with this technology and I'm sure others are sure to follow so, after all the new low power technology rolls out, the next replacement/aquisition cycle should see data centre power requirements falling pretty dramatically. This low power technology also reduces cooling requirements.

Alan from the islands

Its good stuff, but I suspect a Jevons law type situation to prevail. Demand will probably increase till power consumption stays fixed. Still better than doing it with power hogs though.

I think that the rate at which power consumption will drop will be such that, even with significantly more processing power, you will still see power consumption fall appreciably. To support that here's some news on a new process technology from Intel

Intel Makes 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate Tech for Ivy Bridge

Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate transistors enable chips to operate at lower voltage with lower leakage, providing improved performance and energy efficiency compared to previous state-of-the-art transistors. The capabilities give chip designers the flexibility to choose transistors targeted for low power or high performance, depending on the application.

According to Intel's numbers, the 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32nm planar 2-D transistors. Alternatively, the new transistors consume less than half the power when at the same performance as 2-D planar transistors on 32nm chips.

I view this power saving technology as a paradigm shift, where the focus is no longer "how fast can we go" but, on "how little power can we use to get the job done in an effective way". As I said up top, it dispense performance I don't need to give me the power savings I want, This technology is scheduled to start appearing in devices probably early next year, extending the gains made by products introduced this year.

Willoner Says New Intel Technology Cuts Chip Energy Use

In the linked Bloomberg TV interview above, the intel technology analyst says "energy efficiency has become a very, very big priority for the market."

Intel Touts Chip Breakthrough

In this video interview Intel executive Kevin Sellers explains why the company's forthcoming 22-nanometer chip technology will be a breakthrough.

Basically this announcement is making a big splash in the tech and business press.

Alan from the islands


The new topology will allow higher density in addressing exponentially growing processing needs. In the same server farm with the same power feed there can be more throughput. More still will always be needed: 3D tactile porn is coming.

The hairy smoking golf ball:

Yes, die shrinks have the ability to reduce power consumption. However, the power consumption can be offset by higher clockspeeds or a change in architecture. See Nvidia's Fermi architecture as an example, newer technology does not always equal lower consumption, especially the high end parts.

This is another example of Jevons Paradox: increased efficiency in use of a resource causes consumption to rise.

Everyone knows that computers have "gotten better" over the last few decades, but there's no such thing as a free lunch. Newer computers consume more power than older ones.

The Atari 2600 video game system of 1977 consumed 4.5W of power.

The Playstation 3 video game system of 2006 consumes 200W of power!

It has generally been possible for video games to hold features steady while reducing power consumption, but without fail the market has selected for increasing features *and* increasing power consumption.

I understand what you guys are saying but, the point I am trying to make is, in a scenario where users are under pressure to reduce power consumption, this sort of technology allows this to be done without sacrificing performance.

Example. At a hypothetical data center where it is time to change their hardware, the bean counters tell the tech guys that revenues are falling as clients businesses fail due to a tough business climate. At the same time, costs are skyrocketing due to rising energy prices. In this case, growth is not the priority, cost control is so, the tech guys can now deliver a solution using all this power saving technology. Depending on how old the existing equipment is, power consumption could be cut in half while still delivering some amount of increased performance/capacity. For the bean counters a big cost reduction is almost as good as a brand new revenue stream, maybe even better.

We are entering a post peak world guys! Think powerdown. I sense some amount of BAU thinking here and we're all guilty of it. We've all been living in this high growth, cheap energy civilization and it's just hard to imagine that the future is going to be any different but, it is,

Alan from the islands

You say:

We are entering a post peak world guys! Think powerdown. I sense some amount of BAU thinking here and we're all guilty of it. We've all been living in this high growth, cheap energy civilization and it's just hard to imagine that the future is going to be any different but, it is

But you also say:

this sort of technology allows this to be done without sacrificing performance

See the thing is, these two statements conflict with each other. The idea that we're going to try for a non-BAU, different future but that it won't involve sacrifice is fantasy. The pursuit of solutions that do not involve sacrifice simply becomes an excuse to do nothing.

...the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages in my eyes.

I agree.

I thought some of those companies had put a lot of money into powering their major servers with solar and wind. With greatest cooling needs fairly closely coinciding with highest insolation, solar would seem particularly appropriate.

They have.

From the article:

Data centers alone consumed more electricity than auto manufacturing, he said, and nearly half that of the chemical industry, which is the nation's largest industrial user of electricity.

So who or what is consuming all the remaining electricity?

And also from the article:

For example, Google is relying on renewable sources like wind for a big chunk of its energy needs -- something that Greenpeace gives the company credit for.

Google also cools its data centers with more efficient cooling towers instead of compressor units. The company has eliminated non-essential gadgets like keyboards and monitors from the data centers, and aims to buy 100% of its power from renewable sources "in the next few years," Weihl said.

Something in this story just isn't adding up.

In any case, In terms of bang for energy invested, I'm more than willing to spend it on the internet!

Yes, Google has just such an initiative:

Google energy initative:

Also fun to occasionally check up on their plug-in hybrid fleet:

And part of the Google empire is now a power company - thus allowing them to get better rates/more "control"

Companies have been developing load balancing software for years. Many server farms are mostly producing hot air while almost idling, consuming up to 60 % of their peak power.

Also imporant: development of more efficient CPUs has been driven by the mobile device market.

Thanks for the link.

Exactly, as the paper indicates, the goal is to shift loads onto optimally loaded servers, and then transition idle servers to a lower-power state.

This is harder to do in datacom networks, where links tend to have geographical significance and it is harder to shift traffic and power-down equipment.

The CPU enhancements will help every application. These problems are not insurmountable, as much can be done with relatively modest innovation -- no fundamental research barriers need to be broken, just product design engineering and a probably some standards work. Roll-out of rate adapting interfaces for the customer loop has been slow, though, even where standards exist.

In the past year or two, most major carriers have put in place new requirements for product efficiency for their vendors. Of those I am familiar with, British Telecom led the way. AT&T and Verizon, and NTT (Japan) are right up there too. Industry standards bodies are on the move as well, striving to eliminate pain points and improve efficiency.

A typical example is the new phone-charging standards (an obvious needless expense and frustration point for mobile phone users worldwide):

As it is becoming increasingly clear that industry standards are needed, particularly in the key area of power consumption, much recent work has been done on this, particularly within ATIS, which also, in mid-2008, launched its wider Green Initiative, one of whose aims is the development of industry-driven, market-oriented benchmarks. The ATIS Network Interface, Power, and Protection-Telecommunications Energy Efficiency (NIPP-TEE) committee is developing a standardized method of measuring and reporting energy efficiency as a function of power consumed versus performance delivered for new equipment and technologies introduced into the network.

As the ATIS example shows, routine telecom technologies are now subject to green requirements, and this trend can only strengthen. A factor that is adding urgency to this is that some operators are beginning to set out their own requirements that will be enforced on their equipment procurement. In the U.S., for example, Verizon is pushing power efficiency very hard, and has extended it to a wide range of equipment through Technical Purchasing Requirement VZ.TPR.9205 , originally released in June 2008. The requirements took effect at the start of 2009, and apply to a wide range of equipment types, including CPE, broadband, data center, and network.

It is worth noting that the AT&T "green" group outbound messaging was part of the PR department, not engineering, when I last heard them speak. It is good to see engineering groups get involved, since they actually make things happen and understand the details.

Note that server and equipment lifecycles are shorter than ever, so it is a great time to put new standards in place, as they will quickly hit the field. If we hit a stagnation point before the efficiency push comes to fruition, the changes will be much harder to field. Given 5 years a large fraction of mobile and data networking equipment will naturally rotate through on current lifecycle rates. This is a waste issue all by itself, but also an opportunity.

The story is essentially bogus because the server farms that are used by Google and Facebook, etc., are not part of the internet. They are servers in data centers attached to the internet. Neither is the laptop that I'm writing this on part of the internet.

The story says essentially nothing about the energy used by the internet. However, the energy efficiency of carrier-class routers and other network equipment such as cell sites, passive optical networking and hybrid fiber-coax distribution systems is constantly increasing. I'm inclined to think that the "last mile" will tend towards very efficient micro-cell sites communicating directly with energy efficient touch pad and netbook devices.

Long-haul optical networks are very efficient. In fact, siting of major data centers is being driven by energy supply and cooling arrangements. Data centers are being run at elevated temperatures and being cooled by ambient air in the northern states. They are being sited near hydro power formerly used by things like aluminum smelters. As the functions of the data center become more well standardized, the processing will be handled by specialized ICs instead of general purpose CPUs at considerable savings in power. Cryptographic functions are already being off-loaded this way. Solid state memories like flash are replacing disks, while disks go to smaller form factor drives that consume less power. Disks are being slowed or spun down when idle.

Software as a service and infrastructure as a service innovations are allowing small businesses and governmental data centers to be consolidated on much more efficiently run outsourced infrastructure and software. This was already happening with large corporations, where many small data centers, one in every large building, were replaced by a few corporate-wide data centers running virtualized servers and standardized applications. This results in lots of real estate savings, removal of local uninterruptible power systems, removal of local (often obsolete and power hungry) servers and storage, and elimination of lots of local system and application adminstrator jobs. The efficiecy gains are considerable.

Optical networks are efficient but perhaps not resilient.

I was talking to a guy who recently had his phone line broken by a maintenance crew. (Apparently, phone lines aren't buried very deep. They just push them down into the soil, rather than digging huge trenches.) They were scraping out a ditch and broke the phone line. Had it been an old-fashioned phone line, they could have just patched it and buried it again. But it was fiber optics, so they had to replace the whole run, from the last station to the next one.

Just thought it was an interesting example of Homer-Dixon's efficiency vs. resiliency thing.

I'm no expert on fiber splicing of direct-bury caple, but most fiber can be readily repaired, but only to a point. Each splice carries an optical loss, and there is an overall budget for the run, so if that run happened to be at the limit (due to poor budgeting or previous splicing) then a new run might be needed. Usually there would be options to change optical solutions or add a boost amp somewhere, though.

Wiring certainly suffers from "backhoe fade" as well, and has more issues with water than fiber. Some of the resiliency issue is due to deployment economics, and the provider electing to not provide redundancy, especially route redundancy which requires additional trenching on top of additional equipment cost.

I have developed numerous systems with support for redundancy, and seen the shipment numbers reflect how rarely they were deployed that way. I have also developed cheap non-redundant products for markets where I think resiliency would be important, and seen it sell like hotcakes because it cost a lot less.

My take on resiliency in the modern era is to take the responsibility yourself. If you're a business, have two providers (say, a primary fiber drop and a backup DOCSIS cable drop) from two providers, and understand your service level agreement. For an individual, have both wired and wireless access. And be picky about your UPS maintenance plan.

Sometimes nothing helps. I saw a TVA web-page talking about 50 years of 99.999 power availability. I imagine the Alabama outage this week blew that to pieces. A one day outage for a particular user would take 300 years to average out. Amazon blew their contracts out last week too. The more diverse your back-ups, the better off you'll be.

It's been years since I was involved in analysis of fiber cable failures, but some things never change. In the case of backhoes, it was surprising (at least to me) how often that having snagged a cable, the operator kept pulling and tugging and managed to damage tens of feet of cable before it finally broke. Depending on the length of the fiber run, the extent of the damage, age of the cable, etc, replacement might be preferred.

Old cables with steel strength members were remarkably sensitive to water, it just took quite a bit of time for the problem to show up. Oxidation of the steel wires exposed to water (rust) released small amounts of free hydrogen, which eventually reached the glass itself, was absorbed, and resulted in increased attenuation over long runs. Several of the telcos had to replace fiber much earlier than planned because water intrusion resulted in such degradation.

BT ran a major fibre link alongside a main road. A short time later the local council decided that part of the road needed a crash barrier. They used a hole bore to run a string of holes for the support posts to the Armco. I have never seen so many BT engineers and managers staring into holes in the ground and shaking their heads. The post holes had perfectly followed the line of the cable.


Fiber in distribution networks is vulnerable to accidental or deliberate damage, so that is one reason why I think that wireless will be the trend in the last mile.

In the long haul networks, some carriers place their fiber cables in concrete conduits for better protection. Cable is also armored in pocket gopher country. Besides better physical protection, the long haul networks also use SONET protection switching and protection switching of DWDM optical wavelengths to prevent breaks and equipment failures from resulting in service outages.

The latest "hero experiments" from the Optical Fiber Conference --

Two groups develop 100 terabit fiber cable

Both teams reported their results at the Optical Fiber Communications Conference, held last month in Los Angeles.

The first team, led by Dayou Qian, of NEC, described the process by which he and his team were able to meld the data sent by 370 lasers into just one stream of pulses, which was then sent across 165 kilometers of fiber cable. This was made possible by giving the data from each laser its own unique part of the infrared spectrum, with each employing differing polarities, amplitudes and phases to create the packets of code to be sent. With this method, they were able to move data at 101.7 Tbit/s.

Taking a far different, and perhaps simpler tact, Jun Sakaguchi and his team from Japan's NIICT described how they devised a means for creating a fiber cable comprised of 7 cores, each capable of carrying 15.6 Tbit/s; for a total throughput of 109 Tbit/s.

Nobody actually has that much information in the wrong place!

Core network redundancy solutions are hard to justify in the access networks. Traditional SONET is rarely deployed anymore for residential aggregation, and instead low-cost Ethernet protection is more prevalent. Even then, though, many deployments "close the loop" with a return fiber in the same fiber cable, so backhoes get them all anyway....but it does protect against equipment failure at least. Ethernet DWDM is coming, but so far is not in wide deployment.

I can see Terabit edge aggregation rates before too long for high-density areas, but multi-Terabit switching has to be solved as well. I'd be happy for a long time with just 1G to my neighborhood, though!

Last mile is always difficult. Aggregate BW can get really bad for wireless in high-density areas, while distances get long in rural areas, but support for mobility is a great added value.

If Moore's Law holds true, there may be opportunities to use wireless mesh networks with innovate network coding theory to get better throughput in congested areas. Processing power has to be much cheaper than bandwidth for that to become mass-market reality, though. You can't beat Shannon, but you can play tricks on him.

To go much further into future bandwidth needs takes a pretty good crystal ball. Once each person has an on-demand HD video stream or two full-time, how much more information can a human absorb? Best I can see is that network devices will have to stop talking TO me and instead start talking to each other ABOUT me, with bandwidth utilization as inefficiently handled as CPU cycles and RAM bytes in modern PCs . When my washing machine starts gossiping with my car about how smelly my clothes are and whether I need a shower or an endocrine assay, then maybe I'll be a Terabit man?

I think it more likely that we'll simply run out of growth incentives to pay for increasing technologies. Some year I'll say "my cable, internet, TV, computer, and handheld are all perfectly adequate, and anything new can be a downloadable applet", and be loath to spend my few remaining dollars on a newer and niftier upgrade.

To be fair, most people don't segregate CPE, access, edge, core, and server functions physically, separate the wealth of applications into client and server functions, or segregate other aspects of daily computing from the catch-all term "Internet". It's all about applications and connectivity (which is probably the way it should be).

While the efficiency per bit passes is improving, overall power in the last mile is not yet dropping. Port density and throughput continue to increase faster than efficiency increases (I think there is a variant of Moore's Law that tracks the power density aspect), with heavy demand for higher-density solutions. I'm not sure it matters much whether the last mile is fiber, copper, or wireless, though I'd love to have the discussion. I think it will remain a shifting mix as competition between providers ebbs and flows in different areas. Mobile is clearly in ascension for devices, but rate-based billing could readily push back toward local wireless (Wifi plus wired backhaul) for most uses, as it does in my house today. Powerline networking remains the laggard, yet has a lot of growth promise as well.

I expect to see increasing multi-protocol wireless and wired devices that do all the above, with least-cost selection of available networks. Add micro-charging to let others gain access through your private network and we will have the basis for another generation of evolution in access.

Your last point about eliminating jobs is perhaps one of the most significant cost savings, but improving user self-service is part of that too. Networks and applications require specialized support, and centralizing those functions saves a lot. Some innovation of the applications themselves is a necessary part of this transition, enabling the move from an on-site IT generalist readily available to train, help, and debug to more specialized off-site experts for each application but with self-training for simple chores. You want to pay experts to address expert issues, while enabling end-users to handle the trivial but time-consuming aspects themselves.

I just posted in parallel to this thread, so I won't repeat myself, but that is a pretty cheap 10% given saving in other areas.

As with any industry, high growth fosters inefficiency, so as energy costs and space costs rise there will eventually be a clean-up period when efficiency increases.

Once upon a time central offices and server farms were limited by physical space for equipment. Now they tend to be limited by available cooling and power as a power-density function. Reducing power consumption per bit of data traffic is already, and will increasing be, the goal. As long as Moore's Law holds out there is much room for improvement.

As of 2009, when last I researched this, if everybody in the world had a gigabit fiber feed, the resulting data network would consume all power used on earth several times over. 100Mbps is the first-world target (achieved in many areas already, but not rural ones!) today, but gigabit will eventually be expected. We'll need to have several orders of magnitude improvement just to keep power usage down where it it is today.

So we can't find anything, in that remaining 98% even greater power suck, that we could possibly do differently to conserve?

There are so many things, and some are huge.
All those street lights, making it so we can't see the MilkyWay.
All those open freezers, and coolers at the grocery store.
The "mood" lighting in clothing stores.
It goes on and on. Server farms have actually been a force pshing computer and chip manufacturers like Intel to design lower power chips.

There are so many things, and some are huge.

And any number of small things that also help edge us in the right direction. I retrofitted seven carriage and one post light earlier this evening with Philips' 3-watt BA11 EnduraLED lamps and, amazingly, I can now operate all eight of these fixtures on less energy than what had been consumed by just one of the 25-watt Halogená lamps they replace; in effect, 200-watts of load cut to 24.


In Maine, somewhere around 8 to 10% of all electricity used goes into electric resistance water heaters. This could be cut to near zero by switching to a combination of solar water heaters and gas fired tankless heaters as backup. Simple payback is in the 6 to 8 year range.

I've been telling people for about twenty years that we will know when the government gets serious about energy conservation, when they put a bounty on electric water heaters.

Electric water heaters can also be retrofitted with PV direct DC heating elements; expensive now, but as PV prices drop, who knows? No new plumbing required.

Load dump. Being off-grid, when the batteries are topped off, the excess PV power is used to make hot water.

You know Ghung, that is a really great idea - I can honestly say the thought of doing it with simple DC had never occurred to me, and I always thought doing it with AC (inverters etc) was too expensive.

But, my local plumbing company is into all the efficiency stuff, which is a good thing, and does a reasonable business doing solar HW and some geothermal systems. For the solar HW they doth both tube and flat panel, and his opinion is that fl;at panel is better value for money, but the told me that you are looking at about $5k for a retrofit system, installed, of either flavour.

After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked where the money was going. The systems need to have a separate glycol loop (we are a freezing environment in winter, and subject to regular power outages so you can't rely on heat trace), a circ pump, sometimes a 2nd tank, and then there is doing the plumbing up the roof, and the rooftop installation.

Given that you get about 2kW of HW, you are paying $2.5k per kW, which is not that much cheaper than PV, and you can't save money by doing a smaller system - that is why many of his customers oversize, because it does not cost much more to do so. But unless you can use the water for space heating, what's the point?

A simple PV array, and one wire entering the house, somewhere, even through a plumbing vent, to a DC element in the heater is ridiculously simple, can't freeze and can, if you so desire, be hooked up to an inverter, or expanded with more panels later, etc etc.

A quick calculation is that a water efficient house should use less than 50L of HW per person per day, so 200L for a family of four. To get a 50C temp rise needs 4.2MJ, or 11.17kWh of electricity. A 1000W array would give you half that with six hours sunshine, and in summer likely all of it. Get the HW use down further, and you are doing better still.

One of the problems with solar HW is that the hotter the water you want, the less efficient the panels are

The more efficient you are with minimising your hot water, the more attractive the PV solution becomes, compared to a normal solar HW one, especially in a freezing environment.

One of the things that keeps me here at TOD - you just never know what nuggets you'll come across.

I've been wanting to install PV, but after replacing old appliances, and filling the house with PV and LED lights, our electrical bill is now only about $50/month.

On thing we've been considering is to move more of our utilities over to electricity. I only recently became aware of heat-pump water heaters, but they look like a good option to replace our gas water heater, which is getting a bit long in the tooth. I have to imagine that the gain in the heat pump makes these much more energy efficient than a simple resistance heater.

The GE heat pump unit gets a Coefficient of Performance of 2.35 [http://www.geappliances.com/heat-pump-hot-water-heater/], so you get 2.35kWh of hot water for the price of one - and $1500 for the unit itself. At a $1000 premium, it might take some time to pay off if you are already really efficient with your hot water use. They have a calculator on the website.

The heat pump unit also works as a "free" dehumidifier. One caveat - in winter - it is effectively taking the 1.35 of the 2.35 units of heat from inside your house, so whatever your heat source is - likely gas is providing that.

It is the classic conundrum that if you reduce the resource use enough, the premium for the really high efficiency units is often not worth it. In the case of the heat pump units, they are new to the market, so I would wait for a 2nd generation. In the case of your electric bill, to take it from $50 to zero with PV may well cost as much as all the work you did to take it from $300 or do to $50!

An example here of a Habitat for Humanity house built to very high effciency standards. Includes a solar PV array, though they didn't need to do that, but if it is donated...


Use the HW tank thermostat to switch the PV array to the inverter? Maybe a grid tied inverter to store credit for the time when the sun is switched off. BTW I thought that evac tube with heatpipe was better than panel if you are at freezing latitudes. Anyone put me right?


(I am always reluctant to reply to you for fear of writing naomi - who was a girlfriend in the distant past)

I think once you go to grid tie inverter, you might as well just let it be. The idea was to avoid the $2k grid tie inverter, and any drama from the power company - unless they are paying egregious feed in tariffs.

The HW tank is literally a "fluid coupling" between the two electrical systems, that avoids an actual electrical interconnect - which is always the controversial part. The PV and wire avoids a secondary water system,. and the interconnection there. There would be a narrow range of housignsitautions where this is optimum, but there certainly would be some. An example might be a house with a shaded roof and remote, sunny , carport/garage. easier to run wire back than pipe to and from.

The Evac tubes, are, in some circumstances, the most efficient in cold weather. The some circumstances depends on the temperature you want for the water. if you want HOT water on a cold day, they are the best (and most expensive and fragile) if you want warm water, flat panel is better. It all comes down to difference between desired output temp,and ambient temp - the greater the difference, the less efficient the all get, but the flat panels (and the unglazed swimming pool type) get real inefficent real fast.

But in the right temp range the cheaper ones can kick butt.
Here is a good description of this, in relation to space heating;

it is interesting just how important thermal mass is for this - and it suggests that most houses are built inside out in this regard!

And a 30 yr old study that showed how a cheap, well designed solar space heating system in Vermont outperformed a fancy system in Colorado, where they get twice the sunshine. more efficiency form a cheaper system - that's the way to go.

Having grown up with solar-wood HW 30yrs ago, I am of the opinion that solar HW is only worth it if you can use it for space heating, or have a luxury HW load like a hot tub (in which case you are not being energy efficient anyway). Otherwise, go efficient on all your HW stuff, put in a quality elec HW (assuming you are on grid) or a heat pump elec HW, and call it a day. The gas ones, for the cost of the install etc are not worth it unless you have large HW loads - and you shouldn't have.

Heh, just don't use the name when you reply:) I follow the idea of using the wire loop instead of the glycol loop, make sense. Also has advantages for low sun days and easier to use tracking. I see your point about the inverter, the relay was just a suggestion, you could still use it to switch over to a charge controller whenever the water is warm enough. Dump into the solar electric system when the water is full rather than dump into the water when the solar electric is full, turn it around.

Ok on the panel, we have lots of sun here so a panel comes out ahead though they push a lot of tube types around here. Just brazed up a test joint for my panel, first time brazing so I didn't know how it would come out. Worked out well and simplifies joints greatly. Must go back to the scrap man and see if he has had any copper pipe in this week. Still need to figure out how to join bits end to end though.


You could always dump load into a airation system/turning system for your compost pile.

Perhaps a little clarification is in order. I should not have used the word "bounty", since that implies scrapping or at least removing the electric water heater. Since the typical electric water heater is really just a storage tank with a couple of heating elements installed, it often makes sense to turn off the electricity and use the existing tank as storage for the solar water heater system, especially if you have one of the stone lined tanks, instead of the glass lined tank.

Re: Climate Activists Target States With Lawsuits

This new legal challenge apparently offers an opportunity to address Global Climate Change by considering the atmosphere as a public "good". Maybe this will prove to be a way to deal with "The Tragedy of the Commons". Since nobody actually "owns" or controls the air, the regulatory framework built around property ownership doesn't apply. It will be interesting to follow this effort, as it represents a something of new track in the legal world...

E. Swanson

It doesn't sound too promising, unfortunately, with needing both a willing judge and making a new area in law.

"Speth, now at the Vermont Law School, said public trust litigation over climate change could work if its backers can find a judge willing to innovate a new area of law."

In the Berman vs. Industry analyses, I had thought that NG company financials would determine the more correct viewpoint. Now, I am just confused since so much of the companies income comes from derivatives I wonder if it is possible to tease out the economics of shale gas from the financials.

Chesapeake Reports Loss on Hedging Contracts

The lower prices, “combined with higher operating costs, really create the lower earnings impact,” Michael Bodino, head of energy research for Global Hunter Securities LLC, said in an e-mail. Bodino rates Chesapeake’s shares a “buy” and owns none.

The population study is very concerning. I had thought that, in spite of high birth rates, the scourge of AIDS had been dampening population growth rates in Africa a bit.

Good to hear that China will peak within a decade or two, but there was no mention of India in the article, even though more kids are born there per minute than in any other country in the world. I don't like to use the phrase 'pumping them out' about babies being born, but the birth rate does nearly match the rate of a pumping heart:


The population study is very concerning. I had thought that, in spite of high birth rates, the scourge of AIDS had been dampening population growth rates in Africa a bit.

Haha, there's something that seems a little.. self-contradictory about that paragraph...

Yep--one can't be happy about population explosions, but one can't really rejoice over increased death rates from horrible diseases like AIDS. But we still have to reconcile all these grim factors to try to come up with a clear picture of what is currently driving population dynamics. Dismal science, anyone?

Malthus was an economist. I think it is from his work that economics has well earned its sobriquet of "the dismal science." Most nineteenth century economists stressed the harshness of constrained resources; cornucopianism is a product that began to be sold in the late nineteen fifties or thereabouts. After World War II most of the "smart money" was betting that the economy would have such trouble converting from war to peace that the U.S. would fall back into the Great Depression.

All this emphasis on economic growth is relatively new. Keynes thought that economic growth should, starting in 1930 increase at 2% per year for one hundred years. At that point JMK thought that the economic problem would be solved, and that our big problem would be what to do with our abundant leisure. Keynes assumed no major increase in population, and of course he was way off there. But if you look at global economic growth from 1930 to the present day and make reasonable adjustments for inflation, it looks as if the number of 2% exponential growth rate for world GDP growth is about right.

But then I’ve got to realize that anything that just lowers the death rate makes the population problem worse.

There’s peace, law and order; scientific agriculture has lowered the death rate due to famine—that just makes the population problem worse. It’s widely reported that the 55 mph speed limit saved thousands of lives—that just makes the population problem worse. Clean air makes it worse.

Now, in this column are some of the things we should encourage if we want to lower the rate of growth of population and in so doing, help solve the population problem. Well, there’s abstention, contraception, abortion, small families, stop immigration, disease, war, murder, famine, accidents. Now, smoking clearly raises the death rate; well, that helps solve the problem.

Arithmetic, Population and Energy - a talk by Al Bartlett

Yes, it is a bit of a dilemma, isn't it?

If you want to see it that way. All sorts of problems could be 'solved' by less than ethical means. This only poses a dilemma for those tempted to use those means. If I don't like the way my neighbor is trimming his hedge, one possible solution is to do him in. But exactly what kind of person would describe this as a dilemma?

Just to be clear, I was not wishing AIDS on any one. Just trying to reconcile the dynamics of factors that were adding up to a population explosion in Africa. But that continent does seem to have most of the elements toward the end of your list.

One might add to the front end, besides abstinence, contraception, abortion and small families:

women's education, rights and general empowerment; policies to encourage couples to have their first child later in life and to discourage early pregnancy; good infant care to ensure kids that are born survive so that couples don't feel the need to have many kids for 'insurance' against death of the others...

On the death side, a return to the idea of a dignified death rather than heroics to keep people alive every last minute at incredible expense and often with great loss of comfort and dignity for the patient.

But going forward, I'm guessing that war, famine and disease will return as major factors in culling our numbers.

This only poses a dilemma for those tempted to use those means.

I think it's the other way around, it is only a dilemma for those that are not willing to go the unethical route.

They may find themselves stuck trying to find solutions to problems which may not be solvable, while a few ethically challenged individuals may not >:-(

Since ethics and even morals often depend on time, place, culture, and circumstances it is probably not helpful to argue from the standpoint of moral/ethical absolutism. The focus should be on the nature of the predicament. Once understood that may suggest the ethical and moral solution.

George, I tend towards more agreeing with you than not. However my personal morals and ethical perspective still make some of the possible solutions a bit hard to accept. I do believe however, that most of the solutions will be arrived at as a consequence of external factors mostly beyond my personal control.


Understand completely. I have struggled with the issues for years due to personal (though largely inherited from society) moral/ethical considerations. There really is no solution in the sense that we find that magic formula/policies that will lead to reduced load on our world while everyone goes merrily about their lives. I don't have any solutions, only leverage points that "might" work were it not for other human factors!

Tertullian, a 3rd century A.D. Christian apologist had this to say on the subject.

As our demands grow greater, our complaints against nature's inadequacy are heard by all. The scourges of pestilence, famine, wars, and earthquakes have come to be regarded as a blessing to overcrowded nations, since they serve to prune away the luxuriant growth of the human race.

That was reported by Garrett Hardin in "The Ostrich Factor". Harding goes on to ask the question: Suppose there were no such disasters as pestilence, famines, and wars: would suffering increase or decrease?

Ron P.

In answer to Hardin's question, suffering would undoubtedly increase if Malthus's "Positive" checks to population (those that increased the death rate) were not operating, then population would increase in an already overcrowded world making for a greater total of suffering and miserable people.

Most cultures that have survived a long time have used effective means of population control. Female infanticide is highly effective, for example, and very widely practiced. Not allowing poor males to start families is also an effective means of population control, and postponing marriage to a later age helps a lot. In modern countries, educating women has made a huge difference to lower birth rates, and employment of women outside the home helps too.

Increasing overshoot means increasing poverty, suffering, and general misery.
Today there are far far more humans who are undernourished or malnourished living in the most abject poverty with no hope of a better life than there were 100 years ago. IMO, suburbia was not nearly as bad a mistake as was the Green Revolution. When I was born, world population was about two billion. Now China plus India total more than two billion people, and world population increases at about 80 million a year, which is close to an alltime high.

Yes. If Bill Nye got booed then Dr. Bartlett would have been lynched.

Many of those things only cause old people to die earlier. That doesn't lower the birth rate at all, might even make more resources available for reproduction.

FMagyar quoted: Well, there’s abstention, contraception, abortion, small families, stop immigration, disease, war, murder, famine, accidents. Now, smoking clearly raises the death rate; well, that helps solve the problem.

Enemy replied: Many of those things only cause old people to die earlier. That doesn't lower the birth rate at all, might even make more resources available for reproduction.

Nonsense. Only smoking would take mostly older people. Everything else quoted would take mostly the young or prevent birth totally. Do you have an agenda Enemy?

Ron P.

Also, it has looked recently like the death rate has stalled out at about 8 per 1000 per year:


While the global birth rate continues to drop:


One of the problems that China will soon face as a consequence of stabilizing its population is the rapid "aging" of that population. Much of the country is already facing substantial shortages in the nursing home and other health care facilities required by the increasing number of elderly. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the problems.

I don't see how Africa reaches 3.6 billion. The continent is already a net importer of food calories, suggesting that the additional 2.6 billion will have to live entirely on imported calories. Where are those calories going to come from, and how is Africa going to pay for them?

Of course, the other side to curbing population is that what is left shows an increasingly high portion of the aged. This is, however, a problem that is amenable to various solutions. Ever increasing population is not.

The other issue of population imbalance in China and even more in India is the growing disproportion of male versus female population. While this imbalance can actually help keep future populations down (for reasons explained below*), it can leave a lot of men with less than satisfying lives since they may not have partners. This is another good reason to lower the stigma on homosexuality.

Historically such imbalances may have been a factor in various invasions. Those studying the demographics of ancient Scandinavia point out that widespread female infanticide apparently left a population extremely skewed toward males, and this may have been a factor in why the Vikings set about pillaging and more crucially raping throughout much of Europe and beyond.

A renewal of popularity of celibacy, religious or otherwise, could help if it was widespread, but this particular solution does not seem to be on the horizon, as far as I can tell.

(*Imagine a village of 100 women and one man. If he was particularly 'busy,' the village could see 100+ new babies every year while the women were of childbearing age. Now picture a village with 100 men and one woman. However 'busy' the guys were, the town is not going to increase its population by more than about one child a year. The same dynamic holds, though with less extreme differences in birth rates, for smaller male/female imbalances.)

So if there aren't enough women around men will turn into homosexuals?

No, but they may engage in "situational" homosexual behavior. Think US prisons.

Encouraging homosexual behavior is one way societies deal with population issues.

Uh, like make love not war?

Prostitution should be a growth business, too, though presumably in a supply-and-demand environment fewer women would imply more relative power for women?

I read that while custom and law favours men over women in questions of inheritance and land rights women in China are unlikely to get advantage from being a minority. They're just more likely to be forced into marriages, made a commodity etc.


The data center power consumption article makes a few good points, but slants the picture significantly.

First, much of the 2% mentioned is not consumed just in the data centers, but in the communications network overall, and the number is really closer to 3% of total US consumption. That number includes telephone exchanges and access networks spread throughout the country as well as the centralized data centers.

But that isn't the entire picture, as a matching power consumption occurs in the homes and businesses that connect to the network, and this number is growing (definitely exceeds the network consumption). Once upon a time you had a 1-watt telephone circuit driving a passive phone, and all the power was purchased by the network. Now you might have a 3W VDSL network circuit driving a modem, a router, an Xbox, and a computer, and possibly a settop box or two, in the home, for a total of hundreds of watts. Of course the old tube TV used to use more power than a new flat-screen, and your new iPad uses less than an old desktop box, so there are savings over time as well as increases. Most people don't even thing about their personal datacom power consumption.

But this still isn't the whole picture, as you have to look at how the power is being used. If the PC is used for home shopping or bill paying, then gas is saved. If an office network is used for WebEx or a video conference, then an airplane flight is saved. Overall, the growth of telecom and datacom will contribute to net savings of energy, if done intelligently. But of course, if telecom doubles in electricity consumption yet airline travel decreases by half, it takes an analysis that includes both to realize that net energy savings have occured, and really you should include time saved traveling as part of that analysis to determine where net cost savings have been made.

The best analysis I've seen indicates that telecom growth can provide about a 6:1 efficiency payback over travel, in a big-picture blended view. This does presume that the telecom/datacom networks evolve as well though (which should be the real focus of the original post):
- data centers should locate near power sources. Google is pushing to create a wind-based data center with energy cost less than coal.
- server farms should load share flexibly, such that loads are primarily borne by centers with available power, and idle CPUs are powered down (envision a fiber ring around the world, carrying data to and from data centers in windy or sunny areas)
- data servers should consume power in proportion to the data served, with little base consumption. This is slowly improving.
- data/telecom networks should consume power in proportion to the data carried, too. This is an area ripe for improvement, as it is not largely the case today.
- network equipment should become more efficient - Moore's Law helps with this over time, and recent pushes by major carriers is helping it along.
- power use charging tariffs should modernize. Today many carriers pay flat rates or industrial tiered rates. Increased cost would increase efficiency of use.
- power ratings (EnergyStar or similar) of home/business equipment should include standby and base power consumption, and track data processed.
- network installations should use distributed renewable power. Cell towers can (and some do) have turbines on the top, and/or solar panel "shades" for equipment cabinets.

Moore's Law, while it endures, should help reduce consumption along with all the above, but a determined design focus would help a lot more. Even 'good' servers can use 50% power while idle, and for a router the fraction can be more like 90+%. Given that most usage is highly variable, having power track utilization could greatly reduce power consumption.

It is also worth noting that power costs, for now, are still a small fraction of the overall expense budget for network operators, but as that number grows natural incentives will arise.

Edit: I should also mention the move to "cloud computing", which has the opportunity to move data storage and processing into the network, and gain efficiencies of scale and get the more-easily-optimized server gains mentioned upthread. The downside is that your control of information will become ever less reliable and localized -- we will have moved from books and movies on the shelf to e-books and videos on laptops/iPods, to content on a cluster in Montana. When they work, they will be handy and efficient. When they fail, they will fail spectacularly (like Amazon and Sony did last week). It's fine to store stuff in the cloud, but keep anything important locally - this is universal...always keep a backup.

Re: U.S. becomes net fuel exporter

Hooray, we're saved! (Sorry Charlie...It's Not Real)

Looking at the EIA datafor the week of 22 April, one notices that the US exports of "finished motor gasoline" were 253 thousand bbls per day, slightly above the imports in the same category at 262. Overall, gasoline imports still exceeded imports by 1,005 to 262...

E. Swanson

Thanks for tracking that down. Something seemed fishy about that headline.

From the No Carter echo for Obama ... article:

Yet on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gasoline for September delivery settled yesterday at 4.1 percent below the June contract, Bloomberg data show.

Here is the visual explanation from the Futures Explorer:

Those darned evil speculators have done it again! They're pushing the future price of gasoline down below the supply-and-demand determined spot price! ;-)

One of the things I've learned by watching the evolution of futures chains these past two years is the following:

The futures market is remarkably pathetic at predicting future prices.

OK, to give them credit, they often do so-so on the front month but beyond that their track record is dismal. Yet the financial press still pays attention. Maybe that's why I don't give too much credence to the daily news noise.

Happy Futures,


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 29, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending April 29, 18 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 82.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased slightly last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging nearly 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 8.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 389 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.7 million barrels per day, 839 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 197 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.4 million barrels from the previous week. At 366.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are just under the lower limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 7.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 19.1 million barrels per day, up by 1.4 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged nearly 9.1 million barrels per day, down by 1.9 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged nearly 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 6.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.8 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Who had the graph of recent inventory trends? How close to a critical point are we for gasoline "just under the lower limit of the average range"? How low can you go?

Last week's EIA charts as the updated ones aren't out for a few hours yet.

Stocks fell from 205.6 to 204.5 last week so you can extend the line yourself.

I've included PADD 1 (East Coast) as that seems to be the lowest relative to seasonal average. PADD 1 stocks fell further this week to 48.0 from 49.7.

Judging by prior reported lows in gasoline inventories, about 180 million barrels.

PADD 1 is already completely in uncharted territory for this time of year though and is close to a record low. PADD 1 is now at 48 million barrels. It has only ever been lower twice since 1990 at any time of year - once after Hurricane Ike bottoming at 43.9 in late September 2008 (when there were severe gasoline shortages in some areas) and, the only other occasion, when it dropped as low as 45.5 in November 2000 (anyone recall any particular reason for this?). US Gasoline consumption is about the same now as it was just before Ike (approx 9mb/day) but is about 0.6 mb/day higher than in November 2000 (when consumption was about 8.4mb/day).

I told friends in PADD1 to get some gas cans in the garage filled up. ;-)

Thanks for the update. Is there a significant difference in fuel storage and availability between PADD1a, b, and c on this map?

Here's the breakdown by PADD 1 a, b and c


Looks like 1C Lower Atlantic is slightly better off than 1A (New England) and 1B (Central Atlantic) to me. PADD 1B has been falling steadily at an average of 1.75 million barrels per week over the last 4 weeks and is now just about 0.5 million barrels above the lowest level reached after Hurricane Ike. Within the next week or so PADD 1B will reach an all time record low for any time of year if the trend continues.

And here's the updated PADD 1`total with this week's drop added (from charts at http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_pe... )

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.4 million barrels from the previous week.... Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are just under the lower limit of the average range...Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 7.5 million barrels last week.

Behind these numbers

The EIA estimates that US consumption last week fell by 1.256 million barrels per day from the previous week (from 19.588 to 18.332, and 0.78 mb/day below 4 week average). This fall contributed plus 8.8 million barrels to reported "total commercial petroleum" stock (against a reported gain of less than that - 7.5 million).

Also even though the EIA announced a flaw in their weekly reporting and that some double counting was taking place which has now been corrected , there still seem to be huge totals in the adjustments fields every week. This week 0.6 million barrels of crude and 1.2 million barrels of product appeared in stock by "adjustment". So a total of 1.8 million barrels of stock by adjustment this week

As Charles will hopefully have more info on later, despite the adjustments and huge product supplied drop, gasoline inventories continued to fall and are now "under the lower limit of the average range". Total reported gasoline dropped by 1 million barrels but according to the EIA "gasoline supplied" was down by 1.4 million barrels last week so inventories would have been much lower without this big drop over last week.

Oil has dropped on this report but I can't see anything in the details that justifies a fall as any inventory gains were based on one week fall in product supplied ("Other Oils Supplied" alone fell by 28% or 5.7 million barrels from the previous week) according to the EIA) which won't be repeated over averaged future weeks. And even in a low reported demand case, gasoline inventories are still plummeting.

Eastern US Gasoline Supplies Plunge to Record Seasonal Lows

Week after week in 2011, the relentless fall in US gasoline supplies continues unabated, and this reporting week was no exception. Refinery operational problems continued across the country, and were the key factor in the fall in supplies – as gasoline imports have been fairly consistent in recent weeks. Although refinery utilization recovered some in the Eastern US, gasoline supplies still hit their lowest level ever in this region for this time of the year. The Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline transporting oil products north and east from Louisiana to New Jersey, was again operating at maximum capacity for distillates and gasoline – as eastern distributors struggled to rebuild supplies before the start of the summer driving season.

Granted demand for gasoline has been falling as prices reach near record highs, but so far, demand has been relatively inelastic and has not decreased much.
Will the US avoid gasoline shortages before refiners have a chance to ‘turnaround’ and produce summer blends of fuel before the summer? Finally major refiners appear to get back to normal, and three major Texas City refiners affected by a lightning strike and power outage a week were reported today to have resumed near normal levels of operations in their respective gasoline producing units.

However in the coming months, the US still has to increase its oil imports or reduce its oil product exports by about 800,000 bpd to avoid shortages of gasoline and/or diesel later in the year. Out of the drop of OPEC oil exports totaling about 1.4 million bpd from its peak at the end of February, the US has taken a disproportionate share of that export loss. There are no indications of any surge in oil imports coming soon. Shippers report that demand for large tankers to be used as ‘floating storage’ has fallen in recent months, therefore this kind of extra oil supply may not be available as it was last year in June and July.

After attending the EIA energy conference on energy statistics one week ago, my impression is that the EIA does have some systemic errors in its weekly inventory report that result in many weekly ‘adjustments’. Some of these errors may take a long time to be corrected, and I am no longer sure if all these adjustments will ever be corrected. Therefore we will also need to take a close look at actual market conditions, and hopefully they will also give us some warning that we are getting near minimum operating levels. So far, we just might make it into summer without shortages if lightning doesn’t strike twice in Texas.

I believe I may have mentioned once or twice over the past few days how the details would change of the bin laden story and it turns out I didn't even need to wait a week:

White House Corrects Bin Laden Narrative

White House officials on Tuesday sought to correct the official account of the raid in Pakistan that ended in the killing of Osama bin Laden, saying that the Qaeda leader was not armed and that his wife was not killed. But they added that Bin Laden resisted when confronted during the raid.

So now we find out that he "resisted" but was apparently unarmed. I believe I mentioned that certain key details needed corroboration.

I actually don't have any skin in the game with this story, but I did want to point out that there are a lot of people who give the "official story" too much unwarranted validity, in my view. Pick apart any commonly held story and it rarely — if ever — holds up under scrutiny. There is what's "commonly known" — and then there is what actually happened.

The details can be "corrected" or amended later but the initial story is what will be imprinted in most people's minds. They are story tellers and they know precisely how to play this game.

Let's see what else turns up in the next few days.

Anyone have any thoughts about what the 'loud bangs' reported by the locals may have been?

She reports loud bangs at 12:35am and 1:15am. I guess the last one would be the SEALs disabling the downed helicopter. But what would have caused the first lot?

Stun grenades? Surely not in fitting with a stealth mission? Perhaps retaliatory fire?


Probably blowing a big hole in a wall?

Ah, is that how they got in? Some reason I thought they had flown over the wall.

Anyhow, all you can do is muse I suppose.

What is clear is that the Pakistanis are getting more and more nervous over this. Looks like it could be the start of an ugly chapter in their history:

"I feel numb - I really don't know what to say," Arsalan Mateen, a manager in a Karachi-based multinational company, told the BBC.

"Frankly speaking, I think this is just going to lead to more bloodshed in Pakistan.

"Our armed forces are always assuring us that they will protect us. I can't believe they let this happen," says Mr Mateen.

"This means the entire world can now point fingers at Pakistan and call it a state that supports people the West calls terrorists and militants."

I wonder if the difference between American and European attitudes over the killing could have anything to do with capital punishment? It looks like there's at least some sentiment amongst Europeans that the morality of it is questionable:

In Germany a senior member of parliament from Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, Siegfried Kauder, criticised her Monday statement which said she was "glad that killing bin Laden was successful."

"I wouldn't have used those words. That is a vengeful way of thinking that one shouldn't have. That's mediaeval,"


Many Europeans struggled to understand the open celebrations in the streets of New York and Washington earlier this week.

"While many nations suffered from al-Qaeda's terrorism and few in the world will mourn bin Laden's death, the United States is the only place where it sparked spontaneous outpourings of raucous jubilation," wrote columnist Gary Younge in Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper.


Some commentators said Obama could lose his lustre in Europe, where he has been widely admired for taking a more multilateral, collaborative approach to foreign policy than his predecessor George W. Bush.


I too was somewhat embarrassed, recalling my reaction to celebrations in the ME after 8/11.

Of the pics I've seen and my kids' Facebook experiences, the jubilation was in the youth set (college years). I think we of earlier generations may have underestimated the impact of a perpetual 'war on terror' on our developing youth. These youths have friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many have known some who have died. They have internalized the angst of their parents from 9/11, the irritations of TSA encroachments, and the arguments over Homeland Security invasiveness, plus a very personal perspective of diminishing opportunities and unemployment.

This is the "Flash Mob" generation, they are used to jumping on the latest thing and moving on. I suspect the reaction was an odd confluence of age, generational tendencies, technology, and very real personal stresses on top of their ingested perspectives.

Very good points actually - I do remember being equally disgusted by the reactions in ME then too!

And you're right - most of the people on the streets would hardly have been old enough to remember 9/11. It's a very dangerous game we're playing, instilling fear into the young generation. It makes me sad to witness.

"I too was somewhat embarrassed, recalling my reaction to celebrations in the ME after 9/11"

That was my thought exactly. I'm surprised it didn't come up in all the blather about reaction to our reaction...in the MSM--on the other hand, I'm not all that surprised.

As a Brit I do find the scene of crowds of Americans chanting USA! USA! in response to the news repellent. It is simple triumphalism. Also, I would have been much happier and I think the US would have got far better results if Bin Laden had been taken alive. US special forces (in fact US forces in general) are often seen as trigger happy on this side of the pond.

Incidentally there are detailed photos of the remains of the lost black hawk in the UK press, and detailed analysis of its (limited) stealth capabilities.

On a purely moral point, most of Europe finds state capital punishment repellant, but the UK government has consistently refused to re-introduce it in the face of widespread public support for it here in the UK.

Really? Are we really asking for the re-introduction of capital punishment?? I've never heard that until now!

Any stats on that? Would be interested..

Ah, ok, it was a Channel 4 survey - figures!

But that does surprise me. Another good reason to leave the country as soon as I can.

I guess the US could have followed NATO's lead, and dropped several bombs on the (suspected) Bin Laden compound.

Gaddafi compound hit in Nato attack

Nato headquarters in Brussels confirmed the attack on the Gaddafi compound, describing the buildings as a legitimate target under the terms of the UN mandate empowering it to hit regime facilities that threaten the safety of Libyan civilians. . .

At Gaddafi's compound, supporters who gather nightly to act as human shields against the air strikes climbed on the shattered building shortly after the blasts, as chunks of masonry fell. They waved loyalist green flags and chanted pro-Gaddafi and anti-Nato slogans.

Or we could have fought the wrong country for several years in retaliation for 9/11. Maybe it would have been better to shoot one man through the head.


I guess the US could have followed NATO's lead, and dropped several bombs on the (suspected) Bin Laden compound.

They needed an identifiable corpse to prove that they 'got' him.

... the Reaper doesn’t carry the weapons load needed to ensure bin Laden’s death. The drone carries up to four 500-pound bombs. That may sound like a lot of ordnance. But bin Laden would’ve had plenty of places to dodge the bombs in a compound where even the balconies had blast walls.

That’s why President Obama was presented in March with a plan to use a pair of B-2 bombers to drop “a few dozen 2,000-pound bombs” on the compound, according to ABC. The B-2s are stealthy enough — and high-flying enough — to avoid Pakistani air defense systems. And the bombers carry enough munitions to completely flatten the compound.

Eventually, the plan was called off, for fear of civilian casualties — and the destruction of bin Laden’s body, the only evidence it could present that the bombs hit their high-value target.


I guess the US could have followed NATO's lead...

Please don't kid yourself. The United States is NATO. Always has been, always will be. NATO does nothing that the US doesn't desire, approve and , usually, plan and direct.

The point of having other members seen as taking the lead in the Libyan operation was to minimize the appearance of ham-handed US intervention in yet another ME state.

Note, also, that the spate of attacks on "command and control" targets that climaxed with the killing of the Qaddafi son (and grandchildren) at his residence, followed the announced resumption of US drone sorties.

As the youngsters put it, just sayin'.

In other words, the European members of NATO are invoking "We were just following orders" defense?

If they are, I've missed the stories. The governments of France and the UK, especially, seem to want to be seen as the muscular leaders of the mission.

Effectively, I think, they really are "following orders"--orders with which they are in accord, at the moment. My real point is that the US is always the essential actor in any NATO mission, whether openly (usually) or in the background (the script that is being acted out--unconvincingly, IMHO--in this case).

My point is that it seems more than a bit hypocritical for some Brits to complain about a targeted US killing of Bin Laden, while they are dropping bombs on Gaddafi's compound.

And note that there was far less "collateral damage" in the bin Ladin raid than in the bombing of Gaddafi's compound.

Indeed, from what we know now it seems as if the U.S. mission was an exemplary "surgical strike."

Do we have any official (or other) information as to how the attack on the Qaddafi residence was carried out, and by which nation(s)?

It did occur about a week after the US announced that it was resuming drone strikes against Qaddafi's forces.

"It is simple triumphalism."

I would call it simple tribalism.

The death penalty comes and goes. William the Conqueror abolished it, but Henry I brought it back.

It is currently out of favor in Europe, since it was over used in the first half of the 20th century. However, as social stresses build, it will be back.

At any rate, the use of "shoot to kill" operations against terrorists has been fairly recently practiced, e.g. in Gibraltar against the IRA by the SAS, and in various places by Mossad.

US special forces (in fact US forces in general) are often seen as trigger happy on this side of the pond

Which is why England speaks English today instead of German?

Unlikely as Hitler had given up on invading Britain after the German failure to achieve air-superiority over the RAF in the Battle of Britain and their inability to neutralise the Royal Navy, prior to trying to sail an invasion fleet across the Channel. Later US involvement after Pearl Harbour probably explains why most of Western Europe, including Germany, doesn't speak Russian though.

The trigger-happy Winston Churchill probably deserves an honorable mention here as well.

I think we can all thank Russia for Germany's defeat to be honest.

Thanks also to the trigger-happy Russians.

Still no thanks to the gun-shy French and Mr. Chamberlain.

The French were not gun shy. They expected Germany to attack and to be defeated by the fortifications of the Maginot Line. Based on World War I experience, where defense had a trememdous advantage against offense, this assumption is understandable--and is only inexcusable with 20-20 hindsight. The French generals were too old, and except for a few such as deGualle had learned nothing since 1918.

In terms of who gets credit for winning the war, don't forget the Royal Navy and how, with the aid of Coastal Command and the RAF, they defeated the German U-boats and won the Battle of the Atlantic. Also the British Army should be given credit for stopping Rommel in his attack through Northern Egypt that threatened the Middle-Eastern oil fields and of course the Suez Canal.

It's funny how the human condition appears to demand a straightforward, single-causality narrative, and if none is readily apparent one must be created from scratch, with a tribally-centric bias toward self-glorification.

It's funny how the human condition appears to demand a straightforward, single-causality narrative... with a tribally-centric bias toward self-glorification.

Even funnier are single-causality narratives with a tribally-centric bias toward self-abasement. But those who feel their tribe is always to blame may actually belong to a sub-tribe that glorifies itself by sneering at the ignorant herd.

care to translate that back into English and then say what you really mean, and what groups you're actually talking about?

I believe this is a variation on tribalism that is often heard in expressions like "self-hating Jew," "the blame America first crowd," "traitor," etc.

When I was young, popular versions were "love it or leave it" and bumper-stickers labeling peace symbols as "the tracks of the American chicken."

MOB has applied some nuanced improvements to his version (note the attempt to reflect the tribalism accusation), but nothing that improves its value for understanding the world or dealing with the tribalism, sectarianism, classism, jingoism, etc. that threaten to exacerbate our resource conflicts beyond hope of resolution.

While that's certainly an interesting speculation, what I was more interested in was what the poster actually was trying to communicate in the posting he/she made. It's generally considered a mark of effective writing to communicate, not raise questions about the meaning of what was written, or why it was written. Ie, clearly he/she has some groups in mind, etc, but doesn't want to actually say what he/she means, for reasons unknown. The kind of obfuscated, coded, pseudo-intellectual language used piqued my interest, but of course succeeded in communicating little or nothing in any real sense on its own.

Given this failure to communicate, one wonders why they bothered posting it in the first place, since they are clearly unwilling to say what they actually mean. Is saying what one means really that difficult? Or is TOD just hitting a lull period, the peak being here, peak pricing being here, wars for oil etc being here, Osama being dead, Fukushima having exceeded our media induced ADD timeframe, leaving some posters here with little more to do than post random strings of pointless text? So many questions, so few answers.

In general, it's really a lot easier to just speak clearly and openly then see how that goes, unless of course one doesn't want to, each to their own I guess.

There was no need to explain my reply to Paleocon, kalliergo. If H2 doesn't understand it, he doesn't understand Paleocon's comment either, and should move on to a sub-thread he can participate in without a guide.

My reply wasn't meant as a criticism of Paleocon's comment, if that's what you think, and it doesn't even hint of agreement with the sentiment, "America, love it or leave it."

The US has a lot to answer for, imo, and the invasion of Iraq is high on the list. The killing of Bin Laden is not. His capture, trial, and eventual execution or life-imprisonment would only have increased the bloodshed. Hostage situations would have become commonplace.

And yes, I believe that the kneejerk anti-Americanism displayed by some on this board comes from the same place as the kneejerk pro-Americanism they are so contemptuous of.

Personally, I don't glory in Bin Laden death, but I'm not shedding any tears over it either, nor would I be outraged if certain neocons died by the sword.

And yes, solving the problem of tribalism is beyond me.

mob, now you got it, say what you mean, in clear, honest (well, ok, that's unknown, but it's nice to assume honesty to start with) terms, then people reading can understand it. This isn't at all what I thought you meant, nor was it what others guess. See how much better it works when you actually use words with referents and so on, and talk about specifics rather than vague undefined generalities? People get to know what you are talking about, which is generally the point of posting, right? If I had speculated, which I'm glad I didn't, what you wrote above would absolutely not have been my first or second guess as to your actual meaning, in fact, I would never have guessed that was your meaning. Stating some vague pseudo-intellectual concepts without any real reference to reality does essentially nothing to further any online, or any other type, discussion, for that matter. So now we know what you meant, whew! that took a bit of effort to get the sense, but better late than never, right?

Judging from your reply, it appears you are not aware that when you post something online, it's not an actual discussion with the person you are directly responding to, but rather it's an addition to a group generated thread, a sort of communal composition, so it pays to be as clear as possible in that context, though of course, now and then it's fun to toss in a few tidbits from outside that context if it seems appropriate, which it rarely is on technical forums like this.

...obfuscated, coded, pseudo-intellectual language... random strings of pointless text

business plans
mission statements
educator babble

it's everywhere

Of course it can be "an actual discussion with the person you are responding to", otherwise it would be no better than computer-generated-conversation. Or the mooing of a herd.

While it can be, in the ideal, that is very rare. Lots of mooing though, that's normal. And then mooing using obfuscating terminology to try to sound like it's not a moo but an educated opinion. Lots of mooing of the herd getting nervous but not knowing what to do, you've seen that if you've ever watched a herd of cows begin to react to something or other. That's common here, probably anywhere that is actively dealing with the changes that are now in full speed globally. The pained mooing of cows trying to negotiate their way out of the predicament is to me the most frustrating, since they see the problem but they just can't see the way out, which will by necessity require a change in the herd's behavior, something the herd doesn't like to do.

And then there are those who really do understand the technical questions, and who moo a lot less than most, those are the ones I read TOD for. Then there are the vermin who moo for cash, to promote private industrial agendas, or, even more pathetic, or tragic, depending on your point of view, those who have absorbed those messages uncritically and moo for free in support of private corporate agendas while thinking they are engaging in critical thinking. Lots of mooing, not so much talking, but it does happen, and when it does, that's nice.

... Or the mooing of a herd.

I would prefer to think of our species more in the vein of semi-intelligent birds tweeting to each other.

But yes, often I feel the same way.

People around me make random noises.

When I ask them, "What does it mean?", they have no answer.
They don't know.
They were just parroting noises they heard elsewhere:

... paradigm shift
... new world order
... quantitative easing part 3
... 12/12/2012
... 9/11
... Osama Obama Osama Obama
... jobless recovery

Yes, it is everywhere.
But true.

Welcome to the bird watcher's club. ...Now please Moo 'ev along

It's funny ...

The author of Black Swan would be done proud by you.

Yes! False narratives abound.

It's how the human brain tries desperately, but often wrongly, to make sense of a complex Universe.

This is straying completely off the usual TOD subject matter, but I will offer this info simply because it is both significant and quite unknown.
This story covers 10 days in May, 1940 and obviously has nothing to do with winning WW2. It does, however, have a great deal to do with preventing the Allies from losing it.

On May 10th, 1940 Hitler's tanks burst through the Ardennes Forest, bypassing the Maginot Line. Within two weeks, they had the entire British Expeditionary Force and much of the French Army cornered at Dunkirk.
On May 27th, the rescue operation of Allied troops began. Many of us are familiar with the heroic efforts of the "small ships" which ferried soldiers from the Dunkirk beach to larger vessels which were awaiting in deeper waters.
What I was not aware of until CBC did a one-hour special on the 50th anniversary (May, 1990) was that a Canadian (who was serving with the Royal Navy) was instrumental in getting off about 200,000 of the 338,000 troops which were evacuated over the 10 day period.

I had never heard of this fellow, Commander Campbell Clouston, who surely deserved the Victoria Cross for his extraordinary effort. Clouston (and a few others) realized that troops could be loaded onto large vessels much more quickly from a long, narrow wooden pier (the East Mole) than they could via small vessels pulling a dozen or so soaked sailors at a time from the shallow waters. One obvious problem was maintaining order on this long, narrow pier which was subjected to regular strafing by German dive-bombers.
Clouston served as Piermaster for five days straight, and accounts of his ability to maintain calm & order under extreme circumstances are legendary. Soldiers were loaded at the rate of 2,000 per hour, roughly ten times the hourly rate of pick-up from the beaches.

Clouston was killed on June 2nd. I have been in touch with his son, Dane, and have tried to get the Canadian War Museum to recognize his efforts, but their response so far has been that since Clouston served with the Royal Navy in a British operation, his achievements do not fall within the purview of the Cdn War Museum.
I disagree: I think this Canadian made a great contribution, which should be recognized here in Canada.

Had it not been for the fast thinking and tenacity of Clouston and a few others, the war could have had a much different outcome.
Sorry if this is considered off topic (which it is)... I hope that a few of you will find it worthy nonetheless, and I thank you for reading this.

Thank you for sharing this story. I think it is relevant to "discussions about our future" because it makes clear that in desperate circumstances a single individual can make a huge difference.

I think many of the surviving English soldiers who were evacuated from Dunkirk later on served in North Africa. Had Rommel been able to grab the Suez Canal and march in triumph on to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran etc. Germany would have had access to abundant oil, and the British would have been denied this oil. With abundant oil and a crippled Britain, Hitler might have won the European war in 1942.

Hi, Don
I'm glad that you appreciated the story of Cdr Clouston.
You are correct re the power of individual action. In fact, the final comment of the CBC documentary on his role was, "It is rare in human history that the actions of a single individual can achieve such major effects" (or something like that... I'd have to go and replay it). But the guy deserves much more recognition than he has received: he served as pier-master for 5 days straight, grabbing sleep when he could, was sent to Dover to get some much-needed rest and told that he did not have to go back.
But Clouston was determined to continue and was killed on his way back to Dunkirk.
Troops who passed by him spoke of his remarkable calming influence on the men, who were subject to dive-bombing, knew that the battle was lost, and were desperate to get home to safety and family, so their was great potential for disorder on the Mole.

You are also correct: most of the Dunkirk veterans returned to fight in North Africa and eventually in France & Holland.
It really was a most remarkable war, with many lucky breaks that went our way (the miracle at Dunkirk, cracking the Enigma code, Hitler's over-reach into Russia, etc).

If Hitler had not attacked Russia, he probably would have won the the European part of World War II. But he had to attack Russia; it was in MEIN KAMPH why he had to do so.

The Allies won World War II by the skin of our teeth. If the Japanese in attacking Peral Harbor had gone for the oil storage tanks, our Pacific Fleet would have been immobilized for many months. Shucks, the Japanese could have conquered and occupied the Hawaiian islands, and if they had done so, the U.S. Pacific campaign against the Japanese would have taken many more years than it did in fact take.

Individuals make a huge difference. I do not subscribe to the "great man" theory of history, but individuals are critical in times of war and crisis.

In the end, the mistake that mattered was Hitler driving out his Jewish physicists. With development of the A-bomb, either war would have wrapped up eventually. I imagine if Germany was still in the war Berlin would have vaporized before Hiroshima.

What-ifs become infinitely complex very quickly, so it's all simply conjecture, but being first to move into the atomic first was a supreme advantage for the US.

It really was a most remarkable war, with many lucky breaks that went our way (the miracle at Dunkirk, cracking the Enigma code, Hitler's over-reach into Russia, etc).

True and while we are remembering great individuals let's not forget Alan Turing's role in cracking the Enigma code and his unlucky break for having been born a homosexual.

Even today, Fred, it would have been difficult for Alan... back in 1952, he was considered a criminal. Little wonder he bit the apple. The depth of man's cruelty to his fellow man,and his level of intolerance is remarkable. Also sad.



relevant to "discussions about our future" because it makes clear that in desperate circumstances a single individual can make a huge difference.

This is why I encourage people who have no land or money to learn what they can of practical skills and energy alternatives regardless. You never know who might end up being that one individual, who by sheer random chance, ends up being that one person who's got that one bit of knowledge that ends up saving a whole community.

Based on World War I experience...The French generals were too old, and except for a few such as deGualle had learned nothing since 1918.

Yes, and it happened before- but the European generals thought there was no reason to even look at American military history, that there was nothing to learn from us.

"At the start of the Civil War, the age of the bayonet charge was over. But the generals...did not know it. And by the end of the war, some still had not learned it." Ken Burns, The Civil War

Except that Chamberlain's bayonet charge pretty much saved the Union army at Gettysburg.

Except that Picket's charge was a failure. The technology had changed from the Mexican War in that the new rifled muskets had much greater accuracy and effective range. Thus, a massed infantry charge against entrenched positions tended to be suicidal, especially when the defending force had artillery and could fire canister and grape shot into the advancing lines of troups...

E. Swanson

As a Brit I do find the scene of crowds of Americans chanting USA! USA! in response to the news repellent. It is simple triumphalism.

Yes. I don't find the death of an enemy to be a cause of celebration. Maybe as a former Buddhist the fact that it needed doing is itself a severe indictment of the current human condition. So, its not something to celebrate. Our species seems to get stuck in a mental rut whereby we think that if only we can eliminate a few uber bad guys everything will be great. The real issue is not the existence of a few bad guys, but that we are vulnerable to their powers of persuasion. Until thats solved, there will be no shortage of them.

...we are vulnerable to their powers of persuasion.

Yes, and we are often vulnerable to those powers because they are proposing causes and solutions for real and pressing problems that have long burdened the listeners.

For instance, relatively few Arabs and Muslims were attracted to al Qaeda's extreme Islamism or its policy of violent attacks on civilian targets. On the other hand, a great many, perhaps most, agree with bin Laden's condemnation of Israels' behavior toward the Palestinians and our decades-long unswerving support for and enabling of that behavior. Most are certainly resentful at having to live under puppet governments that have long run their countries for personal and western corporate advantage. And many feel that the demonization of their religion and culture has led to a war on Islam, itself. They identify with the issues terrorist leaders raise.

Consequently, while relatively few Muslims and Arabs are lining up at the terrorist recruiting offices, and support for bin Laden has fallen substantially in MENA over the past few years, even the lower numbers should be disturbing.

In the Palestinian territories - where the terrorist leader received his greatest level of support among Muslims - only 34 percent said they were confident that bin Laden would do the right thing in world affairs. Similar support was even lower among Muslims in Indonesia (26 percent), Egypt (22 percent) and Jordan (13 percent), He had virtually no support among Muslims in Turkey (3 percent) and Lebanon (1 percent).


The last time I checked, the numbers for Saudi Arabia and Iraq were also in the 20-25% support range. In some sections of Pakistan, of course, it is much higher.

If we actually want to stop terrorism, we should learn that we can't use the methods of war to defeat it. It is a choice of strategy and tactics, not an ideology. If we really want it to stop, we will work toward alleviating the very real grievances, arising from our policy and actions, that feed it.

Of course, I'm not sure, in the slightest, that we want to change the status quo very much. Iraq and Afghanistan look like unnecessary, vicious, botched failures from any sensible point of view, but vast profits have been, and are still being, made. So far, that appears to be adequate motivation.

If we actually want to stop terrorism, we should learn that we can't use the methods of war to defeat it. It is a choice of strategy and tactics, not an ideology. If we really want it to stop, we will work toward alleviating the very real grievances, arising from our policy and actions, that feed it.

Agree with this - you can't fight fire with fire!

I had the impression the choice of terrorism and radical religion was made out of desperation. The arab world had been down so long, and nothing else seemed to work. Now with the arab spring, there is a new model for escaping from these problems. The real way to defuse the Islamic pterorist, is to allow those people to win their basic rights. They seem to be pushing awfully hard right now.

The real way to defuse the Islamic pterorist, is to allow those people to win their basic rights. They seem to be pushing awfully hard right now.

Yes, they are. Unfortunately, the best evidence I've seen indicates that the forces of economic imperialism have no intention of permitting the exercise of those basic rights to interfere with BAU and the primacy of Israel in the region.

Thus, we have the Army still in charge in Egypt (and crushing the more "radical" forces of the rebellion); the uprising in Libya co-opted by the US, the former NA colonial powers and their stooges; the regimes in Syria and Bahrain permitted to slaughter their citizens with no response from the west beyond hand-wringing; virtually no pressure from the US or the rest of the west for Israel to reach an equitable resolution with the Palestinians, etc.

Unless we see very significant improvements on all of these fronts, a significant number of young men and women will continue to find extremism appealing, and large percentages of the populations of MENA will sympathize with them, at least.

I surmise you have never seen the film of the "triumphalism" displayed in London and across the UK in May 1945 following the surrender of Germany and suicide of Hitler. If you had perhaps you would hesitate to judge.

Dog and pony show.

They are making it up as they go along.

I figure the reason for faking this now is to get out of Afghanistan because they have no way of winning there. Maybe move attention away from energy prices/economy.

Note that there has been no denial of Bin Laden's death from Al Qaeda, insofar as I know. Why no video of Bin Laden holding a paper claiming that he is dead?

Because they hate America.

I thought they just hated our freedom!

You've just violated the golden rules of effective propaganda.

1) Number 1: Never identify the "them" who hate us and our life style. The more shadowy, nebulous and ambiguous "they" are made to appear, the more the boogeyman effect takes over.

2) Number 2: Never limit it to just one freedom. Use the plural form. There is a "them" out there that hate all our "freedoms" (and our fries).

3) Number 3: Make the proposition non-negotiable by repeating it with a straight face: [ i.mage.+]

Former PM Benazir Bhutto was interviewed by David Frost in 2007 and said she knew that OBL had been killed at that time. A month later Mrs. Bhutto was assassinated. I'm sure that was just a coincidence and she was mistaken.

Fascinating. I was not aware of that interview.

A google of "Bhutto frost osama" turned it up.

But there seems to be other evidence that she still thought that Osama was alive. Could be just a gaffe (but it's a mighty strange one, to be sure).

Without pictures of a body, it seems that I may have to put even his death itself into the "provisionally accepted" category. (I already knew the details were almost certainly wrong.)

No wonder the blogosphere is going nuts over this part of the story including claiming that the BBC has censored the Frost interview on their website — cutting out the part where she says he was murdered.

To be fair to Obama there is a relatively rational counter-argument to the photos:


"Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet," Rogers continued. "Osama bin Laden is not a trophy - he is dead and let's now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaida has been eliminated."

The other point is you can always release the photos at a later point but you can never take them back once you do. So in terms of making a rash decision, he's currently making the right one.

The problem is that once credibility is put into question, people become less generous (i.e. willing to believe future statements) when they hear things like that. It actually is a perfectly rational explanation...but is that the only reason or the primary reason why the photos were not released? At this point, knowing how many times the U.S. has lied, I'm now in the camp of demanding pretty high proof.

I just checked the BBC video (streamed directly from the BBC site) and if at any point they had censored the interview they have now restored it.


Actual words at 5:08.

The other point is you can always release the photos at a later point but you can never take them back once you do. So in terms of making a rash decision, he's currently making the right one.

iagreewithnick, good points.

For the sake of our nation's children, I hope and pray that the photos and video are never released.

Let doubters doubt, that will not harm our children.

Why is harm to "our" children of greater concern to you than the children we kill regularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan (and those we killed by the [hundreds of] thousands in Iraq)?

Are some children more equal than others?

Oh Please, that's not what he's saying in the slightest.

I don't think I believe that.

But I'm open to explanation.

kalliergo, I was wondering myself how long it would take Kindhearted to slip up, there was something a bit too syrupy going on there to not be too good to be true.

Fair enough.

He doesn't have to be ambivalent to the Cluster-bombing of other people's kids in order to say that it's pathetic that we'd be parading around a Triumphant Death-mask of Bin Laden in front of our own kids.

He's (She?) not even necessarily saying that our kids need to be 'sheltered from the truth about our violence and aggression abroad', just that the 'Heralding' of this photo could be another sad example of how we keep teaching our kids that this route is a 'solution', while probably underplaying the narratives on how this war 'on terrorism' could have been avoided had we not already been so addicted to Mercenary solutions to global problems that we hadn't already armed the forces we've ended up fighting against, that we've already primed the pump now for several more conflicts that could likely have been suffocated out with wiser economic and diplomatic philosophies.

As a father of a 7 year old, it is my honored task to help my girl understand the crass and addictive level of violent and sexual imagery that is scatter-shot at our kids by a continually juvenilized publishing/broadcast culture, with its schitzophrenic magnets drawn to both extreme puritanical demonizing of 'evil dudes' and of 'bad girls', while at the same time clearly being fascinated and drawn to essentially the same characters for their ability and willingness to abuse their powers..

Watta mess!

But I have no reason to think Kindhearted was saying 'Only OUR kids deserve to be safe and well-raised' and can't see why you did need to play it that way... If, in the scheme of things, the statement you responded to was 'Penny-wise'.. it doesn't implicate him in any way for being Pound-foolish. We've got to take things on where we come upon them, and taking care of our own kids doesn't mean we endorse the abuse of anyone else's.

jokuhl, I'm not so sure. I think our nations children are much worse off for not seeing the true acts of war than they are seeing them. Think, for example, back a bit, to the naked child running screaming away after having been napalmed. I think it was a very good thing for youth to see this image, it showed them the reality of our involvement over there. Then they could decide how they felt about that reality. Or the recent wikileaks video release that shows US soldiers lightheartedly gunning down an innocent civilian journalist, then shooting him more as he tried to crawl away, as civilians move in to rescue him, then destroying the civilian's van as well, all the while cracking jokes and treating it like a video game they are playing. I'd show that to any kid I thought was old enough, just to make sure they understood what is happening.

Hiding this type of imagery simply makes it easier to hide the horror of reality and war, and that is not I think a good thing, since it can only serve to make that warfare state of mind perpetuate. How long have we been in Iraq now? How long were we in Vietnam? How long in WW II?

I personally agree they shouldn't show the image of Bin Laden shot in the face, but not for the sake of our children's delicate sensibilities, but because it would almost certainly inflame and incite further violence against many people out there on the planet, and bring no benefit to anyone that I can think of, except for Al Quaida recruiters of course. But I think you're giving our kids a bit too much credit, tv and movies have long since jaded them beyond belief, I can't even watch some modern movies, the violence, considered normal, turns me off totally.

So this concern for our kids delicate sensibilities, I don't know, maybe if we actually had that, we'd go all out to stop these wars and occupations and other illegal activities, stop spewing out CO2 and pollutants etc, and start living in a more sane manner, turn off the tvs, the bloodsport video games, all that garbage. And no, I have no problems with killing a guy at war with you, as long as that goes both ways in terms of the rules. Not that it matters anyway, Osama hadn't done much recently anyway, too much attention to a person, too little to the ideas and more fundamental problems facing the world I think.

you're giving our kids a bit too much credit, tv and movies have long since jaded them beyond belief, I can't even watch some modern movies, the violence, considered normal, turns me off totally.

So this concern for our kids delicate sensibilities, I don't know


As the father of a 10 year old girl, if you don't want the kid to see it, then do your job. No cable, no computer access. That's not society's job, that's yours. The "violence filter" on the school computers takes care of it from that end, according to them anyway.

Our local school sends home a form every year, 'you can ban your kid from internet access at school if you want', but when I tried to activate this option, they said, "She can't possibly succeed in her education if you do this. Plus, we'd have to send her out of the room every time the class did something on the internet." They emphasized the filters, and insinuated about social stigma. You have to pick your battles. So I caved.

My personal opinion- and it's just that, one person's meager opinion- is that not publishing photo just enables an "Elvis is not dead" kind of reaction. And, something as hot as this, you know someone is going to leak it anyway. They might as well control the circumstances.

You can change your DNS settings to a service such as OpenDNS for free. If you then create a free account you can set filtering options.


'Do your job' - Sorry, is that a line from 'Atlas Shrugged'?

Clearly parents are the front line, but you need a lot of backup. I consider the other adults my this community/society to also have a responsibility for each other's kids.

It IS society's job. It's a society's main job, in fact.. assuring they have the follow-though of the next generation, and a repeatable system for teaching them.

In fact, 'my job' is not just to monitor and help interpret what my daughter sees, but to be active as a member of the society and be engaged in adjusting the 'cultural soup' that she is going to be immersed in.

I think I was pretty clear above that I don't advocate for hiding the war and the realities of our actions abroad.. but that doesn't mean we simply blast it all out there, the way some folks would like to defend a rampant string of F-bombs as Free Speech.

Conscious Editing is invaluable, and it needn't be the same thing as Censoring.

... if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders....

This comparison is ridiculous. The comparison should be with al Qaeda storming the White House, killing the unarmed President Obama, shooting Michelle in the leg, taking Michelle prisoner, killing their children, killing Vice-President Biden and placing Boehner (R-OH) in the presidency. We need photos that have not been Photoshopped.

Next step for Obama, cremate the alleged body.

We need photos that have not been Photoshopped.

I agree! All you need to do is produce the photo of Osama holding up a newspaper with the headline "OBL killed by US military" and I'll consider beliving in pointless conspiracy theories. Just show us the photo.

I'll consider beliving in pointless conspiracy theories.

You wouldn't have to worry about choosing belief/not to believe if there was not a history of Conspiracies.

Rather than spending your time worrying what to believe/not to believe, why not work for a Government that doesn't actually lie to its citizens, that way there would be no past of actual Conspiracies to cite?

Without pictures of a body, it seems that I may have to put even his death itself into the "provisionally accepted" category.

You already did that, two days ago, after comparing Osama's death to a big lie of the WMD variety but before accepting that Osama is dead.

Make up your mind, aangel. You're getting lost in your own "ever changing story."

I think we've gone about as far as we can go with this thing. I asked that the OBL conspiracy stuff be limited to the previous Drumbeat. I probably should have removed Aangel's post when he brought it forward to the new Drumbeat.

Yes, but you also said that if there was new news you would allow the conversation to continue.

This thread has been filled with new news plus some references to historical news items that provide context.

This is clearly a common conversation taking place in the world given the number of MSM articles that are covering exactly the ground we're covering here.

Still, despite all that, I'm happy to drop it. It's just not that important to me. I've got other fish to fry. But it was fun learning the ins and outs of the situation. Definitely some interesting tidbits!

Please...that would be great!

You have been appropriately strict in the past about deleting conspiracy theory posts, and I think that TOD's credibility and 'core mission' of 'Discussions about energy and our future' are being damaged.

It's one thing to post "I wonder if OBL's assassination will result in lower/higher oil prices in the long/short term"...but the stream of 'proof of death' of OBL posts, mingled with the sudden spate of 'Obama's long-form birth certificate is a fraud' posts trend is drowning out the energy talk.

I am guilty of jumping in to the fray last Drumbeat...but it would be sad to see DB turn into 'conspiracy central' from here on out.

I would agree that TOD's credibility is being damaged here, and I think this is one of the reasons why the TOD editors wanted to "de-emphasise" Drumbeat. it is great that we have this forum - unequalled as far as I know - for free and far ranging debate about energy related issues of the day. Even though I think some people are excessively doomerish, that is their opinion on the energy issues, and they are entitled to it, and TOD doesn't censor it, which I applaud.

However this discussion, which I have refused to participate in, is as irrelevant to energy issues as are 9/11 conspiracy theories - there are plenty of
other websites for those who feel the need to debate this.

I often refer people to TOD as a a great open source of information on energy issues, but I will not this week, even for the key posts, as if they take one look at this or the last Drumbeat thread, they will assume this is a site of crackpots and disregard the energy discussions completely - I know I would.

The human condition is one of the "above ground" factors that determine production rates.

Conspiracy and gossip are all part of the human condition.

Therefore it is all very much on topic.

(And loads of serious fun too.)

It may be part of the human condition, but that doesn't mean it has to be discussed here. Sex is part of the human condition, but if you do it on the table at Denny's, you'll be kicked out. There's a place for everything. If you're looking for conspiracy, gossip, and fun, you're in the wrong place.

why the TOD editors wanted to "de-emphasise" Drumbeat

Yes, well. That's great if all you want to reach is the 2.3 people who are into polymath geophysics. If you want to reach more people, you have to allow more subjects.

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but after the "Great Announcement" a few months back this place went pretty dead for awhile. Ever pay attention to the comment counts on threads? Campfire used to get the most, and the biggest cross-section of populace, too. Now Drumbeat gets by far the most. (With the exception of disaster threads) Nothing wrong with that.

Remember, too, that people like you, and WebHubbleTelescope, and Darwinian, tend to rub off on people, influence their way of thinking. But they have to have the chance to get exposed to you first, and that won't happen if you chase them off for being common.

Some of these people scrub off instead of rub. Kinda sand-paperish until you get to know them. Time and frequent posts does provide the ability to calibrate against individual personalities.

..and Obama wasn't born in Hawaiil, we never landed on the moon, and Elvis is still alive, amirite?

Two Pakistanis lived close to the compound who inadvertently tweeted about the raid:


I think it's pretty obvious why they aren't releasing any documentation right away. They need to let things cool down. Nobody affiliated with Al Qaeda, etc. is denying it and the Pakistani gov't also corroborated the report, which is against their best interests.

...and Peak Oil isn't real
...and there is no Sanctuary


And even if the 'true' truths get known, history is rewritten. Therefore it is my opinion we just need to do our best to enjoy the existence we have control over.


Wow, that took me a minute.

Logan's Run!

Okay, this is a reach here, but, but, hmmm, energy connection. The city in Logan's Run, If I recall, was built underground and had to be so because of nuclear contamination of the world above. And was also created in response to massive overpopulation.

Or am I confusing it with THX 1138?

There were a number of works, all from around the same time, that seemed to have a theme and inspiration of environmental/energy/population disaster. Soylent Green was another one. I think authors pick up on some things early, like a moth catching vibrations on its big feathery antennae.

I think authors pick up on some things early, like a moth catching vibrations on its big feathery antennae.

It wasn't early. In the '50s, there was serious concern about population. The Green Revolution was just getting underway, and it wasn't clear it would work as well as it did. My dad became an agronomist because his high school counselor in the '50s told him it would be a growth industry as the world struggled with Malthus' doom.

Logan's Run was written in 1967 - long after population became a huge issue. It was based on both that and on the youth movement at the time. In the original book, people lived only until age 21, then reported to be killed or were hunted down as "runners." The movie changed it to 30, because they couldn't find enough young actors.

At least in the movie version, I do not recall a reason for the World situation...IIRC I think the city computer have have referred to 'the catastrophe' once.

I have not yet read the book...

I thought 'Soylent Green' was a classic...a relevant warning call.

The Soylent Corporation ran all the farms for the government...maybe it was the government...

The Soylent Oceanographic survey of 2025...documented that the oceans were dying...

Global warming...

RollerBall...12 corporations ran the world, the sheeple were pacified by state-sanctioned 'sport'/violent spectacle.

Planet of the Apes...Omega Man...the late 60s through the late 70s was the golden age of enviro-doom movies.

Then morning in America came, and also came cable TV and videogames, etc.

I figure the reason for faking this now is...

Well, that's going too far, in my view. I accept that Osama is dead but all the other details are subject to revision.

Saletan at Slate seems to be thinking along the same lines as I am.

Ron, I especially recommend that you read his piece for a dissection of how they spun the story and why. You'll find that fewer and fewer of the initial details are still intact, exactly as I went on record predicting (to much derision here).

The Myth of Bin Laden
The false story of his life meets the false story of his death.

I think we have to look at the Death of Adolf Hitler here.

Lots of conspiracy theories, but he never showed up again.

I think it would be bad for Obama's credibility for Bin Laden to resurface in any form; in his position, I wouldn't say we'd killed him unless I was sure.

On the other hand, if I were Osama and the US falsely claimed to have killed me, I might just stay dead and go about my business, even though it would hurt my propoganda value: perhaps better to just inspire the true believers.

And certainly, stuffing him and mounting him in the Smithsonian violates both the Geneva Convention and good manners. Though that and Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate would make a great co-exhibit.


I think it would be bad for Obama's credibility for Bin Laden to resurface in any form; in his position, I wouldn't say we'd killed him unless I was sure.

You mean, I expect, that you wouldn't say you had killed him unless you were sure he was dead. Almost certainly, not even the Bush administration would have been that dumb.

However, nobody here has seriously suggested that bin Laden is alive; several have simply expressed skepticism about the accuracy of the (already-changing) official narrative.

However, nobody here has seriously suggested that bin Laden is alive; several have simply expressed skepticism about the accuracy of the (already-changing) official narrative

Yes, but now that I have watched the Frost interview I have to say that there is a firm seed of doubt in my mind that the death occurred a few days ago. About all I'm reasonably sure about is that Osama is dead but when — precisely — did it occur?

Did Benazir Bhutto formally ever back away from her words? That is, did she ever say, "I misspoke when I said that bin laden was dead?"

Personally, I am much more willing to trust her than the U.S. administration. If she backed away from her statement, that would go a long way for me to believe the death occurred this week. But right now, without pictures of the body, and knowing all the lies the U.S. administration has been caught in, and the ever changing story they are telling, there is solid reason to doubt their credibility.

Yeah, but with people suggesting that he was already dead, what motive to hold the news until now?

From a news/election cycle perspective this would seem to be close to the worst possible time if it was being done for political advantage.

The simplest explanation is that the essential facts of the matter are true. They acted when they did because that's when the intelligence was sufficiently compelling and the forces involved were ready and OBL was killed in the Navy Seal operation earlier this week.

Any supposition that either of those two claims by the Obama administration are false had better come along with a pretty darned good argument as to why.

Well, a significant head of state is on the record saying that he was killed years ago. See the above link to the BBC interview.

Pictures of the body are not being shown.

The details of the story keep changing.

The U.S. administration has a solid history of lying.

There is a lot to put the official story in doubt, at least. There appears to be much more for me to "provisionally accept" than I thought a few days ago.

Right now all we have is the word of the U.S. administration and that doesn't mean a lot to me. It might to you and that is entirely your prerogative.

Find Bhutto backing away from her words or show me the body and I'll happily accept the administration's story. Until then, it's entirely rational and reasonable to express concern about the validity of the story currently being told.

Bhutto spoke of Bin Laden several times after the Frost interview. Clearly, she believed he was still alive.

October 2007, NEW YORK...

Bhutto told BBC America, in an interview scheduled to air last night, that she would accept US assistance in the event they discovered the whereabouts of the Al Qaeda leader, but that she would prefer to have the Pakistani military execute the strike.

"If there is overwhelming evidence, I would hope that I would be able to take Osama bin Laden myself without depending on the Americans," Bhutto [said] last week during the taping. "But if I couldn't do it, of course we are fighting this war together and would seek their cooperation in eliminating him."


She mis-spoke when she said Bin Laden had been "murdered." See here:


Thank you. That's satisfactory to me. I promised to move on and will.

<sarcasm> Why won't he show the DEATH CERTIFICATE PHOTOS??? </sarcasm>

I think it would be bad for Obama's credibility for Bin Laden to resurface in any form

Here's the thing. "He" can resurface - with modern image manipulation and the ability to play with sound, "he" can be recreated all out of phantoms that are nothing more than 1's and 0's.

For all those who have been battering Andre for daring to express skepticism over the official story of the bin Laden assassination, please note that the already-changing story has hardly become less ridiculous as it has morphed from version to version:

Commandos told to kill Osama bin Laden because of fears he was wearing suicide vest

US commandos were told to assume Osama bin Laden was wearing a suicide vest, and must be killed, unless he was naked when they found him, it has emerged.

Telegraph Story

Was Jason Bourne leading the assault?

I'm free to be skeptical on the official version. I do believe Osama is dead. It just happened years ago. I also believe the planet it running out of cheap oil and only expensive hard to extract oil is left. I'll be called a nutcase on both accounts.

Obama just said he is not releasing any photos. I wonder if their trial period of Photoshop expired?

Given the fiercly partisan nature of American politics, and the flak he had taken within his own party for not catching OBL, why on Earth would Pres. Bush have left such a coup to be counted by his successor, especially once the election was over and it was known that his successor was a Democrat?

Given the intense pressure the Obama administration has been under on many fronts since before he took office, what makes now special that revealing the death of OBL is better now than last September?

I see no reason for anyone to have held the news until now over any other time in the past 10 years, so the simplest explanation, that it was announced now because it just happened, is the one I will go with.

I see no reason for anyone to have held the news until now over any other time in the past 10 years...

Personally, I don't trust the accuracy of the reports of his earlier demise any more than I trust the (already-shifting, slipping and sliding) details of the official story.

However, I do operate under a default assumption that my government is unlikely to be telling me "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" about matters like this--which assumption arises from decades of history and experience.

I really like evidence.

Why did Bhutto say that bin laden had been murdered if he had not? Was she lying then? Was she mistaken? She seems pretty self-possessed in the interview. I don't discount that she could have lied or was mistaken, though.

As I say elsewhere, I'll happily accept (some parts of) the official story if someone can show Bhutto backing away from her words. Until then, this story is far from being clear-cut, in my view.

Daughter saw bin Laden killed: Pakistani official

ISLAMABAD: A young daughter of Osama bin Laden, now in custody with a Yemeni wife of the Al-Qaeda leader, saw her father shot dead, a Pakistani intelligence official said Wednesday.

The official from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency said up to 12 women and children who survived the US raid on their villa were now in custody.

The child, reported to be 12 years old, “was the one who confirmed to us that Osama was dead and shot and taken away,” said the official.

Although Benazir Bhutto is unavailable for comment, her husband, the current President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, as well as other Pakistani media and officials seem to have no doubt about whether Osama Bin Laden was killed during the US raid.

Terror suspect went to meet bin Laden: Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia says its most wanted terrorist suspect was in Pakistan to meet Osama bin Laden when he was arrested there early this year.

Umar Patek was arrested in January in Abbottabad, the garrison town where bin Laden was killed by US forces this week.

Patek is suspected in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. He is deputy commander of al-Qaida’s Southeast Asian affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah.

The child, reported to be 12 years old, “was the one who confirmed to us that Osama was dead and shot and taken away,” said the official.

Well, that helps a bit, I suppose, though that sort of hearsay evidence may not be accepted in a court. The other story helps, too.

Look, I'm still leaning toward this happening a few days ago but I'd still like to know if Bhutto was lying or mistaken so that we can wrap that part up. I've witnessed too many lies from the U.S. administration to accept their stories uncritically now.

Oh, normally I trust Washington politicians about as far as I could throw the Washington monument (proper highland style, mind you), but I just can't see cause for the deception in this case.

Of course these revisions actually make the story worse for US propaganda purposes, no? I agree that we need a few more days before things may get a bit clearer. It was night, they had night-vision goggles, it was surely chaotic pandemonium. And the urge to kill OBL was understandably high.

Excellent aangel.

Remember, in the original press release these psychopaths put out, Bin Laden was killed one week prior. In Obama's speech, they changed it to that day.

The whole thing is a fraud.

It isn't easy to live in a totalitarian nightmare state, is it? Guess we know how all those Russians and Germans felt.

Mark my words, Wall Street and the Pentagon will be the last two institutions standing in America, feeding off the carcass of a once proud nation when all is said and done.

We are completely, totally, utterly screwed beyond all calculation and imagination.

So now we find out that he "resisted" but was apparently unarmed.

In matters concerning that part of the world I like to defer to Juan Cole Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's death

4. Bin Laden died with a gun in his hands. He did not, though he may have been going for one.

5. Bin Laden grabbed a wife as a human shield. He did not, though it may have looked like it to one of the SEALs, since she put herself between him and them.

6. The Pakistani press speculated that Bin Laden’s bodyguards shot him to keep him from falling into American hands. They did not. The guards were on the first floor, were armed, and resisted the SEALs, who shot them to death along with a woman who was caught in the crossfire.

7. Bin Laden was executed by US forces. He was not. His wife lunged at the SEALS and was shot in the leg. Then Bin Laden made threatening moves (looked as if he was going for a weapon?), and he was shot. [Having the authority to kill is not the same as being ordered to assassinate. There would certainly have been fears the house was booby-trapped or that Bin Laden had a gun somewhere on his person, so his refusal to freeze when so ordered was a serious potential threat.]

WARD'S U.S. Light Vehicle Sales - April 201

WARD'S 10 Best Selling U.S. Cars and Trucks
		4 Months 2011

	Cars				Trucks	
1	Camry		107,264		F-Series	172,062
2	Corolla/Matrix	100,890		Silverado	121,797
3	Accord		94,375		CR-V		79,116
4	Civic		91,745		Escape		77,193
5	Altima		86,783		Ram Pickup	70,419
6	Fusion		86,212		Equinox		60,297
7	Cruze		75,365		RAV4		55,426
8	Sonata		73,616		Sierra		44,468
9	Malibu		73,446		Rogue		43,456
10	Impala		70,612		Explorer	42,083

Toyota's rash of recalls over accelerator and brake problems in recent models doesn't seem to have slowed them down too much.

Pun intended? Nothing stops a Toyota!

I think a stationary cement truck can stop a Toyota ;-) Also high gasoline prices slow them down.

April 2011
F-Series	45,435
Camry		30,443
Accord		30,310
Silverado	29,342
Civic		26,777
Cruze		25,160
Malibu		24,701
Corolla		24,215
Elantra		22,100
Sonata		21,738

The Japanese manufacturers haven't been able to expand production fast enough in April to keep up. The Corolla has weakened the most. Hyundai models are doing well.

Well, at least the really big SUV's like the expedition and Suburban aren't in the top 10.

I am always amazed that the midsize PU's never seem to crack the top 10 - PU's are very handy things to have, but they don;t always have to be the big ones - unless the driver is compensating for something.

I haven't found a breakout of the sales, for example, of the F-150 versus the F-250, F-350, and F-450. They seem to lump the F-series and the three types of Silverados together.

Of course, even within the F-150 there are various engine, transmission, cab, bed, and 4-wheel drive options that must affect fuel mileage considerably.

"April 2011 Dashboard - Hybrid Cars"

US hybrid sales for April 2011
Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010

Toyota Prius 12,477 -32.9% -0.6% 55,256 35.5%
Honda Insight 2,644 -5.0% 40.6% 8,702 27.0%
Honda CR-Z 1,819 8.0% n/a 5,489 n/a
Ford Fusion 1,285 -12.3% -15.2% 5,099 -7.5%


Ouch! The Tsunami was wicked on the hybrids.

Someone on TOD several years ago asserted that ALL the gasoline saved by ALL the hybrid vehicles sold in the US amounted to about FOUR HOURS of then current US consumption. Does anyone remember that? Have corroborating evidence/calculations?

To begin to answer my own question: Wikipedia says that 1.89 million hybrids were registered in the US by December 2010, since they were widely introduced in 1997. Let’s assume each one increased gas mileage over a similarly-sized and –equipped vehicle, by say 25%. We learn from wikipedia that US vehicles consumed 386 million US gallons of gasoline each day in 2005. The USDOT tells us that there were 244 million gasoline vehicles in the US in 2006. So, roughly 0.77% of US vehicles were hybrids in 2005/6. 386,000,000 gallons/244,000,000 vehicles = 1.58 gallons/vehicle/day. Hybrids would use 1.19 gallons/hybrid vehicle/day, saving 0.38 gallons/vehicle/day, or 720,000 gallons/day. 720,000 X 365 days X 9 years (to be generous, and of course there weren’t nearly as many hybrid vehicles in the early years as now) = 2,365,200,000 gallons, or a bit over six days consumption. So it’s a bit better than FOUR HOURS, probably in the neighborhood of ONE DAY’s US gasoline consumption saved?

I'm not terribly innumerate, but is my math off?

Re: Survivor of Dust Bowl Now Battles a Fiercer Drought

The same story is being repeated from the Texas Panhandle to North Dakota. The naturally-occurring drought periods may be triggers that accelerate the process, but the rural areas of the Great Plains continue to depopulate at something approaching 2% per year. The process has reached a point where positive feedback has kicked in: too few people to support infrastructure or services, so services decline, so more people leave. In particular, young people leave.

They quote a county commissioner who hopes that wind energy will allow the county to survive. Wind farm operators are going to be able to choose between various sites, and if history is an indicator, those sites will be in a struggle to undercut each other on tax rates. Large-scale rapid construction will no doubt bring the same problems that other parts of the West have seen in energy booms: damage to infrastructure, drugs, prostitution, and an increase in violent crime. Once built, it seems unlikely to me that the operators will put many (if any) people on the ground locally. Automate and monitor remotely, then helicopter people in to deal with problems if they arise.

Well, there's a key difference between this and other energy booms: wind won't run out.

The situation remains tense along the Mississippi River.


This collection of levee photos is from yesterday. Note the extent of the flood in #3, the dwarfed barge in 22.


Could be an interesting season in the Mountain West this year, once the snow melt gets underway. Basically, everything north of about 38° latitude has well above average snow pack.

Just to head off the trolls, almost all of the climate change models call for increased winter precipitation in just this area.

Just to head off the trolls, almost all of the climate change models call for increased winter precipitation in just this area.

Yes. Worth repeating and emphasizing, cuz it is otherwise perfect troll food.

It's already an interesting season in the Pacific Northwest. Here's what the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) had to say in an April news release:

Depending on when and how quickly the snowpack melts, BPA could at times end up with more water for the hydro system than it needs.


Since spring runoff began April 1, BPA has:

  • Adjusted non-essential maintenance on transmission lines so that maximum capacity is available to carry large amounts of power to consumers.
  • Deferred non-essential hydro generation outages and maintenance activities.
  • Executed contracts with other power producers to sell low-cost federal hydroelectric power.
  • Implemented spill at federal hydro projects within prevailing water quality standards.
  • Operated Grand Coulee Dam inefficiently at night when power consumption is lowest.
  • Asked Energy Northwest to begin a refueling outage of Columbia Generating Station – the region’s only nuclear plant – several days earlier than planned, reducing the generation feeding BPA’s transmission system by about 1,000 megawatts.
  • Sold significant amounts of energy at zero cost.

BPA has worked with thermal generators to reduce fossil-fuel generation when necessary to avoid excess power. But given the amount of snowpack this year, the agency may have to reduce wind generation as well.

Anybody got any ideas what to do with large amounts of free electricity?

Of course the solution has to take place here in Washington. If we had the transmission capacity to get the stuff to the California market it wouldn't be free now, would it?


Interesting that in an "energy constrained world" we have these local energy gluts!

The problem is there aren't many uses for electricity that you can ramp up to such a scale, for a month or two, that don;t carry on for the rest of the time.

There used to be an aluminium smelter somewhere in the lower(American)PNW but it was a steady consumer - it would be VERY profitable under these conditions, but you can't idle it at other times. Same for almost any other industrial use - you can't afford to shutdown your business waiting for the next lot of cheap power.

Ultimateley the real answer is to build more transmission to California. It many not then be free to you, but the power is at least getting used productively and displacing fossil fuel (likely NG) somewhere. besides, good to get some money back out of Ca for all the bad movies they keep sending our way.

One other thing that could be done - very controversial - is to divert the water itself to somewhere else - probably California. I actually do not have a problem with interbasin transfers during flood events - the problem always becomes that the recipient then wants water all the time, and especially in drought events!

The best laid plans...

I don't know the numbers, but a good chunk of northern California power comes from PNW hydro. I'm sure its transmission constrained during a very good year like we are having. Its not a matter of whether, but rather how much.

Use the surplus electric to make methanol and dimethyl ether.

Massive floods extend across midwestern, southern U.S.

Heavy rains spawned flooding that meteorologists say is not expected to fully relent until early June.

...The breach, created when engineers detonated explosives late Monday night at Birds Point, Missouri, is sending 396,000 cubic feet of water per second onto 200 square miles of fertile Missouri farmland. The water is coursing across a floodway that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon described as "literally the most productive part of our continent

Farmer Bryan Feezor said the sight makes you "sick to your stomach" as he surveyed his submerged fields. "Farming is all I ever have done ... and it's underwater," he told CNN affiliate KPLR. "I really don't know (what I'm going to do)."

Probably similar feelings were felt last year when 20% of Pakistan went underwater.

Rising Miss. river raises concerns about channel

With the Mississippi River on the rise, shippers, ports and the chemical industry are keeping a close eye on the commercial artery, hoping the money-pinched federal government can dredge fast enough to keep a major pass to the Gulf of Mexico unclogged.

The Mississippi sends huge amounts of sediment downriver during high-water times. That sediment settles into Southwest Pass, a deep-draft vessel channel connecting the river with the Gulf, which is routinely dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More levees to be blown Thursday.


"Compared to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 this flood is going to be a lot nastier," said Marty Pope, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Jackson."

Since the largest refinery (Whiting) in the Midwest is reportedly down until the end of May, I wonder if already elevated regional gasoline prices won't stand firm since the river will be above flood stage for a few weeks. Indiana is currently $0.12/gallon over the previous record high price in 2008.

Gulf Coast Gasoline Gains as Mississippi Barge Traffic Slows

“Several thousand barges have probably been slowed,” Craig E. Philip, chief executive officer of Ingram Barge Co., said in a telephone interview. “The area that is the most impacted is the center of the network between Memphis and St. Louis on the Mississippi and the lower part of the Ohio River.”

The same fuel in the Midwest, or Group 3, rose 0.13 cent versus futures to a discount of 2.75 cents a gallon.

National Weather Service has launched a special page on the 2011 Mississippi flood. Both old records and new projections.


Re: U.S. lawmakers target ethanol subsidies

I think this would make a great Oil Drum Bi-Partisan Grassroots Advocacy Project.

From Senator Coburn's senate.gov page:

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today introduced the Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act, which will fully eliminate the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and fully repeal the import tariff on foreign ethanol. Cosponsors also include Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jim Webb (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and James Risch (R-ID).

Go to senate.gov, find your senators, call them (or email them with their webform) and urge them to support The Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act, amendment #309 to S. 493.

or thank them if they're already a co-sponsor.

Bipartisan poppycock.

Stab the US ethanol industry in the back in the name of cheap energy and who benefits?

Big Oil will buy cheaper ethanol from Brazil to meet the mandate.
It will really hurt US farmers and cost industry jobs and increase energy imports.

Obama will veto this crap.

It will really hurt US farmers

At a time of record corn prices, somehow, i don't think so. Given they have a bidding wart happening for their corn, the farmers will do just fine.

The ethanol industry has something no other industry has - a mandate requiring that their product be used, or big oil faces big fines. That is one hell of a leg up for any industry - if they need subsidised help on top of that, then they aren't worth having.

Of course, there is no law saying that "big oil" is the only party that can sell ethanol. There is nothing to stop the ethanol industry setting up their own stations and buying gasoline and doing the blending themselves.

They still have to confront the uncomfortable truth that motorists (and especially boaters) just don;t like using there fuel - they have some work to do to make people want to use ethanol - and when they do that the subsidy is unneccessary.

After 30yrs of subsidising ethanol, the industry still has no plan to stand on its own feet - time to let it sink or swim.

Big Oil is the 'blender' in the 'blender subsidy' because they blend gasoline and ethanol at their refineries. I don't think you can do it in your garage but realistically they buy all the ethanol and get the blend's credit not you.

Ethanol is how we oxygenate gasoline which reduces air pollution because they reduce emissions of carbon monoxide. Another way they clean is by reducing the amount of aromatics like cancer causing benzene in car emissions. The other oxygenate, MTBE was banned in 2007 as it caused groundwater pollution. So we are left with ethanol.
It is true that there are non-oxygenate RFGs but they are more expensive than ethanol and are not produced.


The EPA considers the 1990 CAA to be very successful.

You may not want to reduce air pollution which you imagine is costing you a lot of money but look at the alternative;

The blending does predominantly get done at refineries, but there is nothing to stop ethanol distilleries from buying gasoline and doing the blending themselves to E85, and making E85 the primary product they sell. Then they could also have a station at the distillery gate to sell to the public, whom, I would like to think, in corn country, would (or should) be willing buyers.

Ethanol did indeed replace MTBE as the oxygenate, but the engine management and emissions control systems on todays cars are such that the oxygenates are no longer needed at all. Ethanol still functions as an octane enhancer of course, and a good one at that. It has its problems for seasonally used stuff like boats and atv's, though I think we are going to see less seasonally used toys from here on.

Note that I am not saying we should discontinue ethanol - at all - just the subsidies. Given that there is a mandate in place, it will get blended and used regardless - it's just that the blenders won;t be getting paid to do what they are already required to do by law.

I actually have no problem with a tariff on imported ethanol (as long as it is within the NAFTA rules) - I think the US should do the same on off-continent imported oil too.

I have suggested before, as a better ethanol policy, to remove the 45c VEETC on E10 (and E15) and double it, for E85 only. This way, the totality of ethanol use is guaranteed by the mandate, and the increased subsidy for E85 will encourage its use as a stand alone replacement fuel, and the optimisation of vehicles to use it, which was the original intention of the whole ethanol fuel exercise.

As is stands today we have $4.5bn being wasted on this credit to pay blenders to do what they are required to do anyway, and the ethanol industry directing all its efforts into getting E15 blends mandated. Meanwhile, the ethanol industry is making only token efforts at marketing E85, or developing vehicles top get the most out of this superior fuel. And they are making zero efforts at developing new markets, like co-fuelling of diesel engines.

If they didn't have their existence guaranteed by mandate then maybe we would see some more effort in developing better ways to use ethanol, instead of just developing more ways to force people to use it.

Be reasonable.

There are 6 million flexfuel E85 vehicles on the road today out of 120 million vehicles which are E10/E15 compatible.

“We are pleased to see EPA’s research clearly demonstrate that E15 is an outstanding fuel for more than 120 million vehicles on the road today and that it followed that research in making the approval.


You propose as 'fair' the choice of going from E10 to E15 for 120 million vehicles
callin for ~18 G gallons of ethanol or fuelling maybe 12 million E85 cars in the future calling for maybe ~6G gallons of ethanol and the US already produces 14 Gg per year.


I am being reasonable - and realistic.

Firstly, there are more than 8 million flex fuel vehicles on the road (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/flexible_fuel.html)

The EPA's approval means that these 120 million vehicles can use E15 without breaching emissions requirements - it is NOT a guarantee that the engines and fuel systems won't run into material problems from the higher ethanol content. The carmakers do not want to have to warranty vehicles for a fuel mix they were not designed for, and the ethanol industry certainly isn't willing to take on that risk and guaranteeing drivers there will be no problems- so why should a vehicle owner take on that risk when the parties who benefit from this whole deal are not willing to?

What I propose is that the tax credit is ended for E10 mixes - the mandate for total volume can stay in place. Growth should come from increasing E85 use - but the ethanol industry is making hardly any effort in that direction. Those 8m flex fuels would use probably 10bn gal a year if they ran on E85, maybe more since the FFV's tend to be the larger vehicles. The carmakers went to quite some time and expense to make these vehicles and the ethanol industry is virtually ignoring them, and their drivers.

If the ethanol industry doesn't like the rate at which the oil co's are doing E85 pumps - they can do their own - there is no law against that. Then they should increase their token efforts on E85 engine development so those FFV buyers are actually getting better use out of their fuel - efficiency gains are there to be had, but the ethanol industry is not very interested in that, it would seem.

Why force people to use it at lower efficiency, in ordinary engines as E10/E15, when it could be used at higher efficiency in optimised E85 engines? Then you displace more oil per gallon of ethanol - which is the purpose of this whole exercise - is that not a reasonable goal?

Pursuing the increased use of this fuel in an vehicles not designed for it, that use it less efficiently, while ignoring the use of it in vehicles that can use it more efficiently, is what I call insane.

IF the ethanol industry wants to grow their business, they should grow their markets, not their mandates and tax credits.

If they can;t do that, there are plenty of others who will buy the corn.

RE: The New Geopolitics of Food

More great analysis by Lester Brown.

There was a good documentary on PBS last night about the Warsaw ghetto in WWII Poland. The contrast in the archival footage could not have been starker, as was confirmed in the recollections of survivors in interviews.

People who had not sold everything to survive could still eat, while everyone else was left to starve. Skeletal corpses lined the street each morning, while everyone still going about their day to day chores walked past pretending not to notice. What else could they do?

As the world comes to resemble a ghetto more with each passing day we can already see the same dynamic playing out on an international scale. The wealthy countries that have not squandered all of their natural capital will somehow manage to scrape by, at least for a time, while the less fortunate countries will be left to starve by the side of the road.

How many failed states does it take before you have a failed civilization?


How many failed states does it take before you have a failed civilization?

If you happen to be stuck in one of those failed states, only one!

People who had not sold everything to survive could still eat, while everyone else was left to starve.

All that probably means is the people that did not sell everything were in a better financial position in the first place, so they didn't have to sell everything, thus were better off when food became scarce.

With famines in the pipeline, it's interesting how factory agriculture is doing the same thing as the Oil and Gas industry. ... Mergers and Acquisitions

Australia clears Cargill to buy AWB grain business
Ralcorp rejects ConAgra’s $4.9bln bid
ConAgra Deals in the Show-Me State

Addendum to DNV Report EP030842 has been posted at the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Team website. Clarifications, corrections, and additions to the Final Report forensic analysis of the failed BOP. Support for the elastic buckling theory, update of the off-center drill pipe calculation, etc.

Climate scientists told to 'stop speaking in code'

...James White, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told fellow researchers to use simple words and focus on the big picture when describing their research to a wider audience. Focusing too much on details could blur the basic science, he said: "If you put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it will get warmer." ...At a news conference later Wednesday, he said those opposed to reining in fossil fuels "sow the seeds of doubt that give the people the impression that ... unless every single one of us lines up behind an idea, that decisions can't be taken."

..."Stop speaking in code. Rather than 'anthropogenic,' you could say 'human caused,'"...

The World Bank's special envoy for climate change, Andrew Steer, said the new findings "are a cause for great concern." Steer said bank studies showed the costs of major flooding events on infrastructure and the economy could run into billions of dollars. "It is clear that we are not on track in the battle against climate change," he said.



Report: Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic 2011: (large 30M pdf) http://amap.no/swipa/SWIPA2011ExecutiveSummaryV1.pdf



The climate guys seriously need some decent PR on their side.

Your last reference to Lund University points out (again) that melting of permafrost will release vast quantities of both CO2 and methane. Both would add to the impact of mankind's burning of CO2 and accelerate the impacts of AGW on climate. Perhaps this is the reason for the latest estimates for increased rise in sea level. The most recent IPCC report didn't consider the effects of the melting land ice on sea level...

E. Swanson

Actually, it's worse. The latest estimates for sea level rise from the AMAP Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic 2011 Report DO NOT include the potential effects of methane release from thawing permafrost.

From pg 7 SWIPA Executive Summary

The climate models used for SWIPA do not include possible feedback effects within the cryosphere system that may release additional stores of greenhouse gases from Arctic environments.

Their just looking at the positive feedback from loss of sea-ice and snow cover on ice melt.

"melting of permafrost will release vast quantities of both CO2 and methane"... both greenhouse gasses.

This is called "positive feedback".

"Recent change of Arctic tundra ecosystems from a net carbon dioxide sink to a source" 1993

See "positive feedback":

That's funny, demanding climate scientists to dumb it down some more. Maybe the sheeple need to grow a brain. If every high school dropout thinks they know more about climate science than the actual scientists then there is really no room for any rational discussion.

The problem is that climate science is being smeared by various political hacks on the right, funded by millions from the likes of Exxon and the coal mining companies and utilities. Climate change has been politicized. So every retarded opinion is "legitimate".

That was my gut reaction to, but then I thought "Well, they can be snobbishly intellectual or they can market to voters". I guarantee those you decry have the latter approach nailed, and those "high school dropouts" can vote the same as an environmentalist PhD.

Somebody once told me that the onus of successfully communications was upon the one with information to communicate. I think they were right, even when that means you have teach the listener basics.

Hans Bethe, Linus Pauling, and others cover a lot of ground in this Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Mar 1977 article:


Wonderful picture:
Woman Examining a Homogeneous Reactor

Defense Energy Reform Efforts Divorced From Political Reality

Senior officials such as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus — who oversaw post-BP oil spill recovery operations along the Gulf of Mexico — have spent much of the past two years trying to draw attention to the national security implications of the United States’ rising consumption of fossil fuels. But outside a relatively small cadre of green energy businesses, environmentalists and military contractors, the issue generally falls on deaf ears. The polarized political climate last year derailed major legislation, supported by Obama, that sought to address the effects of global climate change. The rise of climate change “denialism” truncated Obama’s energy agenda to just pro-natural gas and pro-clean coal policies.

“Energy is a vulnerability,” he says. “We would not let countries that we buy petroleum products from build our aircraft, ships or vehicles But we give them say on whether those ships sail, those aircraft fly or those vehicles run,” he says. “We buy too much fuel from volatile places.” He also notes that the price of a barrel of oil over the past 18 months has jumped by $50, which translates into a billion and a half dollars of additional expense for the Navy. “As you go around the world, country after country recognizes this. … Countries are vitally interested in moving off fossil fuels.”

In the United States, however, Mabus acknowledges that political ideology has tainted the national discussion on energy.

The Pentagon’s energy agenda is unique in that it is based on predictions that global climate change will foment armed conflicts in the future, as a result of food and water shortages and massive migrations across geographic areas.

Jane’s Energy, Environment, Defense and Security Conference 2011: http://home.janes.com/events/conferences/e2ds2011/programme.html

The output from this conference may be worth keeping an eye on. MIC seems intent on carving out a slice of the pie (see Day 2, Session 3 - How Municipal, National and Regional Infrastructure Requirements Can Be Met by the Aerospace, Defense and Security Sector)

Not sure what their smoking

United Nations: renewable energy can outstrip global energy demand by 2020

Wind and solar power, along with four other forms of renewable energy, have the potential to outstrip demand for energy by 2020 and replace fossil fuels as a power source, according to a new report by the United Nations.

...Moving from fossil fuels to renewables requires new policies to attract “significant increases” in investment, with up to $5.1 trillion required from 2011 through 2020, and as much as $7.1 trillion needed the following decade, the panel said. That compares with the $20 trillion the Paris-based International Energy Agency has estimated needs to be spent on all energy infrastructure by 2030.

Also: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-04/un-renewables-bible-says-in-rep...

House Republicans form energy coalition

A group of House Republicans formed a coalition Wednesday to advocate for a slew of GOP energy priorities including domestic oil-and-gas production.

...“With the price of gasoline increasing daily, and the prospect of $5 gasoline looming ahead, it is time for Congress to put an end to the Obama Administration’s anti-energy, job-destroying policies that are inflicting further economic pain,” he said. “House Republicans are taking action this week to reverse these Obama Administration policies and pass legislation to expand American energy production, create new American jobs and lower energy prices."

Energy analysts say expanded domestic oil drilling would have little effect on the price of gas.


When in the course of Republican events,
it becomes self-evident (irrespective of pesky "facts")
that an economic necessity arises for dissolving the thermodynamic bonds
that tie us to foreign oils and such,
and to assume among the power sources of the earth,
a separate but equal station to which laws of nature we can freely say: humbug
and of which bonds, God's words entitle us to eschew them,
then a decent respect to the opinions of Republican-kind require that we should declare the causes which impel us to the separation from such laws of nature.

We thus hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all Republicans are created more equal than other men,
that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable exceptionalisms,
that among these are life, liberty and the unfettered pursuit of profit,

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the free markets and the Invisible Hand,

That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends,
and gets in the way of free enterprise,
it is the right of the people to alter, refudiate or to abolish it,
and to institute a new, much weakened government,

laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,
as we Republicans shall deem most likely to effect our economic success.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that Republican-kind are less disposed to suffer government restraints and regulations,
and while such evils are sufferable,
we have a right onto ourselves to abolish the regulatory forms to which we are unaccustomed.
But when a long train of coal cars, abuses and usurpations emerge from the dark end of the tunnel, we shall ... (yes, we can) do as we please and declare ourselves independent of all forms of energy as enumerated hereforth: ...

(The "real" Declaration of Independence can be found here)

Duke Energy scales back nuke planning request

...Duke and Progress Energy have pushed for legislation here similar to a law in South Carolina that makes it easier for utilities to be sure they can recover the costs of building a nuclear plant that has been approved by state regulators.

...Since the crisis, it has become clear that members of the N.C. General Assembly were backing off of support for the new legislation that Duke seeks. And Robert Gruber, the executive director of the Public Staff, came out publicly saying that state utilities and regulators should let the dust clear on the Japan situation before making decisions about nuclear plants here.

I haven't been a regular reader here in the last few months, but I know this sort of news would usually interest the readership of The Oil Drum. Sorry about the handle, but judge this info for yourselves:

I just came across this today and thought I would pass it on. This is the last chance we have of stopping Roundup Ready alfalfa. The link shows a video interview with a plant disease scientist who has found a link between very high rates of infertility and stillbirth among cattle in the Midwest and Roundup Ready corn. He worries that there will be widespread collapse of the meat and dairy industries if farmers adopt genetically modified alfalfa.


The video is long, so here is a synopsis:
Genetically modified crops lead to a change in the soil microflora.
This in turn leads to crop nutrient deficiencies and overgrowth of certain microorganisms, or "germs".
There has been a worsening problem with cattle infertility, abortions and stillbirths, to the point where certain farmers cannot stay in business.
This is thought to be linked to the above nutrient deficiencies and to a newly discovered "germ".
Given that the problem is already severe with just genetically modified corn, there is serious concern that it will become a disaster with the introduction of genetically modified alfalfa, as that it the major food crop for cattle.
GM alfalfa is expected to take over all alfalfa production within 5 years. It will not be possible to grow anything but Monsanto's brand.

FDN must lack bandwidth. The video loads very slowly (for me right now), but the video (about 20 minutes long after loading) is well worth watching.

Interesting factoid from the FDN page: GWB halted reporting of glyphosate application rates in 2007. That was a stupid decision, but it seems like something the Obama administration should be able to correct, budget deficits be damned.

The problems pointed out by Huber extend to soybeans also, not just corn. I wonder if they also apply to canola, a major crop in Canada. As with soybeans, canola meal remaining from oil extraction is livestock feed.

Unrestricted planting of Roundup-Ready alfalfa became legal a couple of days after the deregulation decision. I bet a lot of it is in the ground already. Can any of our farmer readers provide illumination about this?

There's a big difference between beef and dairy practice. Dairy consume consume much more alfalfa than beef, depending on location. Most beef is pasture and range fed til shipment to feedlots.

Alfalfa is usually seeded in 4-6 yr intervals, sometimes longer. It really won't establish till yr 2. All else equal, it will be a slow transition. I seeded some alfalfa earlier this spring, and didn't notice GM seed here. Then again, I was looking for varieties I trust.

I don't have much good to say about any GM seeds. But I do forsee quite a market for GM alfalfa. It's hard to get the weeds out of new alfalfa, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Frequent cropping and water works, but often not for a couple yrs, and by then some stands may be losing vigor. In the meantime, you're getting nicked for quality.

Where did your highlight below come from---you do not list a source for the quote.

The quote is from the FDN page cited by Paranoid.

In the meantime, you're getting nicked for quality.

Way back in my farmer days, a farming man did an experiment. He set out to make the perfect alfalfa hay, costs be damned. Purely out of academic interest, just to see. He devoted a small field, I think it was 20 acres, to it.

He did everything. Herbicided the field before planting. Extra ground prep. Extra water (which he had to pay for). Tons of fertilizer. Etc, etc.

It turned out gorgeous, the best hay I've ever seen. Dark green, and oh-so-leafy, with fine stems, and just a few blossoms; perfectly dried, with a wonderful light scent like the finest perfume. Animals would trample each other and fight each other for it; their eyes would get all dilated while eating it, like it was finest ambrosia of the gods.

It cost him $315 a ton to produce. At the time he could sell it for $78 a ton.

I hate GM crops with a passion. But I can see why Monsanto makes such a killing with them.

Perhaps the crucial thing to know about Huber is that his job is and has been to sustain and enhance U.S. production agriculture.

He coordinates the “Emergent Diseases and Pathogens Committee” as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System under Homeland Security.

Huber is not knee-jerk anti-GMO or anti-Monsanto.

Squatters takeover of abandoned skyscrapers in Venezuela (reminds of the final scene in Sydney in one of the Mad Max films.)

SLUMS: to the stars

...The takeover of the Caracas skyscraper is not just an oddity. Rather, it is a first drop of rain in a coming storm caused when the global financial system falters, even a little, and a financier-developer must abandon a project for lack of funds. A crack has opened up and it is immediately filled by people desperate to find shelter and establish a community, people who have every right to them but have been excluded from those provided by established society. These people have no choice but look for cracks in the social edifice and, when they find them, move quickly and decisively. As mainstream society falters more under the increasing weight of the impoverished and excluded, more cracks will appear and be filled. It will be an incremental process, but inexorable.

...Another lesson to be learned from the Caracas story is that all those who have been hoping for a social revolution to emerge from the dispossessed squatters and slum-dwellers—the poor—had better think again. What these people want is not a new, egalitarian society founded on ideals of social justice, but only what most others already have—a consumer society with all the bells and whistles and toys.

Sounds like a prelude of what might happen in China - they have a lot of empty skyscrapers.

To be honest, it looks good rather than bad to me. Despite the hysteria underlying the article, the pictures show people that seem to be living with some margin of comfort. The building has serious issues (no railings on the staircase pictured, for example, and apparently the plumbing doesn't exist or work), but it seems fairly well managed. The claim that people living like this will lead to a "dark age" is painfully overrought, especially claims that art and education will disappear just because people are moving into abandoned skyscrapers rather than plotting some sort of idealistic revolution.

If the problem is that these people don't have water, or education, then that can be solved. It wouldn't be impossible to use an area in that skyscraper as a school from what I can see. Slums should be treated like housing that gradually should be brought up to a better standard rather than as somehow fundamentally different from other housing.

Most people want to live happy lives, not make revolutions or create "new societies". What right does anyone have to demand that they become the leaders of revolution? If the author wants to fight, well, there are plenty of AK-47s on this planet, as well as plenty of non-violent protests where he can get beat by cops and cause exactly no change.

There's a story in today's WaPo regarding a new plan to sell off various government excess properties. HERE's a LINK to the White House site which lists the available properties. Wandering thru some of the listings, I noticed that many of the sales appear to be small buildings and warehouses. However, the list includes large portions of the Oak Ridge TN Y-12 plant and X-10 (aka: "East Tennessee Technology Park"). They also plan to sell portions of the Paducah KY Gaseous diffusion plant, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in CA, the Savannah River Plant in GA and the Idaho National Lab in ID. There are also many properties located in National Parks and National Forests, such as the Appalachian Trail support at Harpers Ferry, VA.

It would appear that this effort is intended to sell off major portions of the DOE which have historically been involved with nuclear weapons and nuclear power research. One wonders whether this is an attempt to "privatize" the weapons labs under the guise of an property inventory reduction, given that the labs are already operated by various contractors. Is Obama really a member of "the Chicago School" of economics, surreptitiously planning to implement the neocon "Shock" on the US...

E. Swanson

Historically the Chicago School tactics have succeeded "best" when left-leaning governments have found themselves between a rock and a hard place on the balance sheet. Being forced by the banks to choose between selling the family jewels or being declared bankrupt, forced to default, or foreclosed. The shell shocked and economically naive governments then cave in and agree to being taken to the cleaners before the public is even aware of the extent of the mess.

My employer is currently in this position. 25% staff cuts AND a 10% wage cut, or be wound up. Fortunately I have been managing my personal finances somewhat better, in anticipation of this day.

Disaster Capitalism

This is really disturbing. Your conjecture on nuclear weapons and research seems correct, but there's no other mention of it elsewhere. You'd think someone would pick up this story, or it would be announced.

The "sale" was announced yesterday in the WaPo. There are some 12,000 sites to be liquidated, of which only 7,000 are shown on the map. The rest of them are DOD sites, which are presumably sensitive. HERE's one story, although it gives a different spin from the one I saw yesterday...

E. Swanson

Scrolling thru the list for INL, ID, that's alot of labs, not just warehouses, on the block. And many square foot office buildings, along with the hospital. Sure leads to alot of questions.

Also noted quite a few roads and bridges in the Northwest federal forests...

So you want to buy a bridge....?

Yea, my bridge to somewhere.

Black Dog, Catskill, Doug Fir, et al:

From the DOE/NNSA FY 2011 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Summary found at:


Right-Size and Modernize the Infrastructure

Key elements of the nuclear weapon infrastructure established during the Cold War are now 50-60 years old and are beginning to exceed their original design lifetimes.

The infrastructure must be recapitalized to be made more efficient, correctly-sized and able to execute life extension activities, dismantlement of surplus weapons, surplus fissile materials management, and other nuclear security programs.

The identified path forward, with right investments and priorities, will serve to sustain the physical infrastructure capabilities needed for the long-term.

The highest infrastructure priorities are the construction of major new nuclear facilities for plutonium and uranium.

Construction of a Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility and improvements to Plutonium Facility-4 at Los Alamos are part of a modernized infrastructure plan. Given the risks of intermittent shutdown associated with existing facilities, immediate investments are also needed in uranium capabilities and therefore, a new Uranium Processing Facility is planned.

In addition, construction of replacement high-explosive facilities will reduce age-degradation risks for the production of those essential components. Other infrastructure issues associated with research and development; design and manufacturing of non-nuclear components; assembly/disassembly processes; continuing tritium processes; environmental test facilities; storage; and, test readiness are discussed in Appendix D.

Let me summarize for you, to keep folks from trying to go down a non-existent conspiracy theory rabbit hole:

Major portions of the U.S. special weapons complex plant are very old and must be recapitalized to allow the complex to continue to do its job safely and effectively.

The replacement facilities will be chock-full of state-of-the art equipment and tooling, and will be 'right-sized' to match modern throughput requirements, as compared to throughput requirements which existed during the 'Cold War'.

This modernization will cost many billions of dollars over the next decade-plus. It is all openly published in the U.S. budget projections.

The surplus property and plant being sold is no longer needed...selling it and putting the property and facilities (de-militarized) back in private hands is the right thing to do.

As BD pointed out correctly, this the vast majority of the complex workers are, and have been for many decades, in some cases back towards the beginning, private contractors...so there is no nefarious push to privatize an operation which is already largely privatized, yet under strict government oversight.

Such Facilities are referred to as 'GoCo' ...Government-owned, Contractor Operated.

Whether one thinks this is a worthy expenditure of one's tax dollars is one's own personal call.

Write one's Congressperson(s) and express one's opinion.

But honestly, nothing nefarious going on here wrt selling off excess property and facilities...

Paying for gas forces painful sacrifices

If the Energy Information Administration's price projection of gas averaging $3.70 a gallon in 2011 proves to be true, the average American household will pay over $4,300 for the year, representing the largest annual expenditure ever, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

This would mean that the average american household burns through 1160 gallons of gasoline per year or about 100 gallons per month. This is an eye-popping number. Now I understand why demand destructions works so well in the US. It appears that Americans drive everywhere all the time.

That is an amazing statistic!

If we assumed 25mpg, then they drive 29,000 miles per year, per family - so yes, they drive everywhere!
Though that number does seem high. If the average vehicle does 15,000 miles then the average family has 1.93 vehicles, and that seems high too.

Thankfully, in and around Vancouver we have alternatives to driving.

Would be interesting to know what the Canadian average is - it would have to be well below that.

Found some numbers from 2005-2006. They probably haven't changed a whole lot since.

Based on quick calcs ..

In 2006, Canadians had 1.4 vehicles per household. Each vehicle drove an average of a little under 16,000 km per year (so about 10k miles). That gives 14k miles per household. That works out to almost the same number if you take the 285 billion km total driven estimates divided by the 12.4 million households, as well, so it's probably pretty accurate.

Which is why Jim Kunstler has been saying for years that the suburbs are doomed.

Yes, and it's why Jim is absolutely right (on that issue).

I found the numbers eye-popping as well; apparently, I drive about a tenth as much as the average American. But it looks like it's true: the average US household drives 23,100 miles a year, and uses 1,143 gallons to do it. That means our cars get an average of 20 mpg (which is correct, according to other surveys - cars are a tad higher, but trucks/SUVs/minivans lower).

The average is for the 98.9 million US households with vehicles. There were another 6.5 million households without vehicles.

Link up top: Lester Brown: Water Shortages Threaten Food Future in the Arab Middle East

This article makes for very interesting reading. Saudi Arabia developed a wheat industry, quite successfully, by using deep groundwater accessed with oil well drilling equipment. But, the deep aquifer is ancient water and gets zero recharge, so it will deplete. The Saudi's have now totally depleted these aquifers and are shutting down their wheat growing, as their is no other water source. Desalinating water, at the scale required is just not feasible.

I found the wheat production data from www.indexmundi.com, and plotted it along with population. Not as nice as Jonathan Callahan's graphs, but since he doesn't (yet) have a food databrowser it will have to do:

That is what I call a rapid decline - reminds me of Westexas' graph for the North Sea oil field.

KSA also imports 2m tons of corn and 7m tons of barley (the world largest barley importer) - most of these two grains are used for animal feed.

Clearly there is some serious "food for fuel" trading going on, and will be more in the future - Saudi Arabia has already bought and leased farmland in Ethiopia and Somalia - two countries that are hardly awash in food!

Lester Brown's article also says that Yemen, Jordan and Syria are all well post-peak in terms of wheat production, and still declining.

Fine if you have the oil money to buy food, but Yemen and Syria, both countries experiencing civil unrest, do not.

Chilling. Thanks for collating the data.


Well done! That's a nice chart that paints a truly scary picture.

Following the Index Mundi source link I see that the USDA has tons of data like this that would be interesting to work with. Sadly, we don't (yet) have a client willing to pay for food databrowser.

I have to hand it to the Index Mundi folks for doing a great job of amassing huge amount of data and making it easily accessible. Data visualization junkies will also want to have a look at gapminder.org where they also make their raw data avaialable.



OMG how sad.
When the sadness comes, I am glad to know I still feel for our predicament at all. Of course, that tends to lead to hope which might be a type of insanity to protect from that sadness. All I am left with is the bitter taste of what can I do today in my own life.

I was speaking with a bee-keeper today who manages a business that has over 3000 hives. He was telling me that for 9 months a year they are constantly on the road taking hives all over the State to pollinate crops. They will place hives at a location for only a few days and then move them again to the next location. Traveling considerable distances. He described their company as a "small family business" (compared to the scale of the industry).

I was aware of the importance of bees to our food supply, but had never thought about the amount of transport fuel that is needed to move them about in order to pollinate crops.

According to wikipedia

The largest managed pollination event in the world is in Californian almond orchards, where nearly half (about one million hives) of the US honey bees are trucked to the almond orchards each spring. New York's apple crop requires about 30,000 hives; Maine's blueberry crop uses about 50,000 hives each year.


It strikes me that a problem with fuel supplies (such as the coming oil crunch), could disrupt this service, and have fairly immediate and devastating consequences to food prices/supply.

Believe it or not, bees are actually capable of transporting themselves, and have actually been pollinating plants, without human transport involved, for 100 million years.

The real problem is the massive monocultures of those plantation areas (particularly Ca central valley), as there are few other plants for bees to live on for the rest of the year. Same applies to birds too, who do a great job of keeping insects under control, and do a fair amount of pollinating themselves.

While there obviously is quite some amount of trucking involved for those bees, it is a small faction of the fuel required for transporting the produce itself. If the service is that essential, it will get done one way or another - and be reflected in the price of food (and honey), though there may be a bit less of each to go around. But given that up to 20% of food is wasted today, there is some space to take up the slack.

The subject of bees and monocultures is covered in this new film Queen of the Sun, along with other factors relating to the honey bee collapse.

Bees have been around for 150 million years and we are losing them at an appalling rate. Humans' relationship with them is only 10,000 years old, and we have brought them to the brink of collapse in just 40 years.

What does that say about human "intelligence" ? Perhaps we will find out it is not a survival trait.

I was doing some work for a beekeeper today. He started keeping bees in 1949 and is his 90's and now only keeps a few hives. On the site I was working on today he has 32 hives, only 2 hives have survived. On the site I'm going to tomorrow he has 20 hives, only one survived. He blames modern farming methods for the bees decline.

Having said that, we have plenty of fruits set in our orchard, so something has been pollinating everything.

I still see swelled buds at best in our orchard, but every year I wonder if the bees aren't bringing apple diseases with them. There certainly was less disease problems when the orchard was smaller and no trucked hives, but probably it's just a matter of size.

There certainly are other pollinators, such as bumble bees, but they are mainly solitary. The reason honey bees can be trucked around is due to the fact that they form a colony, and it is natural behaviour for them to gather together and occupy a closed space.

While there has been good success pollinating vegetables in greenhouses using bumblebees, they cannot be moved en masse to do the kind of work honey bees are doing. One can't corral 30,000 bumblebees into a box with a butterfly net every time something is in flower 1,000 miles away.

One would have to break up the monocultures, by replacing pollinator-attracting plants and hedgerows, and have the pollinators go back to being permanent residents of the fields. Of course, the down side of that is the use of pesticide. Now, if someone brings in boxes of honey bees for pollination, they time pesticide application to occur some time before or after the bees are brought in.

The honey bee is not native to the western hemisphere, and is introduced.
The native bees seem to be doing better, as I have been monitoring and observing.
While backpacking, I have encountered several feral hives of the honey bee, so this may provide some genetic diversity eventually.
Wild honey bees have apparently disappeared from Europe.
Anyway, they were not part of the North American ecosystem.

"Anyway, they were not part of the North American ecosystem."

Neither were tomatoes, apples, almonds and a host of other plants we take for granted today.

In fact, the only commercial fruits indigenous to North America are concord grapes, cranberries and blueberries.


If this sort of thing interests you, you might enjoy checking this out:

The Dawn of the Homogenocene - Tracing globalization back to its roots

After 1492, the world’s ecosystems collided and mixed as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans. The Columbian Exchange, as Crosby called it, is why there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. To ecologists, the Columbian Exchange is arguably the most important event since the death of the dinosaurs.

A fascinating article...

Thanks for that link! My son is 12 and we often talk about what the woods might have been like here in PA before all the invasive imported plants were here.

It's an expansion of Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, yet I never saw an acknowledgment of Diamond's work.

I think its an expansion of his own work. The article was written by Charles Mann who wrote 1491, a book that argues the population of North America was much larger than most think on the eve of European contact. He has a new book coming out, 1493, and the article is an excerpt from it.

If Jim Rogers is right about oil -we're on pace for either total doom, or a cornucopian renaissance.


"say they decline by four percent. That means in 25 years there's no oil at any price"

At least he's better at investing than math: (1-0.04) ^ 25 = 0.36

Americans go from rage to resignation over $4 gasoline

"In 2008, $4 gasoline prices seemed so high they were almost inconceivable. They won't be viewed the same way this time," said Lars Perner, a consumer behavior expert at the University of Southern California, who has written about fuel.

"Back then, the price at which demand fell off sharply was around $4. Today, the price may be $5."

Other factors: the improving economy means prices are less worrisome to consumers, and the easy cuts have already been made; there's less discretionary driving to cut.

"the improving economy means prices [of gasoline] are less worrisome to consumers."

Surely you jest.

Given population increase, per capita disposable income is stable to falling, particularly in the two lowest income quintiles; the increase in the price of gasoline has hit low income people very hard. Note that low-income drivers are apt to drive old gas guzzlers, because they are cheap.

IMHO, gasoline at four dollars a gallon (and similar prices for diesel) is a sufficient cause to push the U.S. back into outright recession. Already, the slowdown in economic growth--to only 1.8% for the first quarter of U.S. GDP--is a harbinger of things to come. Of course the impact of higher gasoline prices is felt mostly with a time lag, but for the rest of 2011 I'm expecting very low growth in real per capita U.S. GDP and disposable income.

As noted in the following chart showing normalized oil consumption for the US and four developing countries (100 = 1998 consumption, EIA), the post-2005 trend for the US is that we are in the position of taking what's left over, after the developing countries take what they want, which is a pattern that I suspect we will continue to see:

I think the upper quintile income recipients in the U.S. will be able to outbid the Chinese, Indians, and other low-income developing-nations people for oil.

In twenty years it would not surprise me if the only ones driving ICE cars in the U.S. are the upper twenty percent of the income distribution. Because of their great political influence, I think the upper income people will politically be able to keep roads and bridges in good enough shape for a SUV over the next twenty years. (I know that in my previous sentence I'm disagreeing with Gail the Actuary and a lot of other deep thinkings on TOD.)

Most of the economic hurt that is coming to the U.S. will be inflicted on the lower eighty percent of income recipients. I think the well-to-do, the rich, and the very wealthy will be much more effective at implementing ELP than will lower income people. Total wealth of the very wealthy will decline, but I expect that post-Peak net exports (i.e. right now) the relatively wealthy will grow wealthier, and the relatively poor will grow poorer, both in absolute and relative terms.

When economic change hits--of whatever kind--the main group hurt are those with lower incomes. I cannot think of any exceptions to this generalization.

I think that the key question is the quality of the income, which I would define as percentage of income that is heavily dependent on discretionary spending (the higher the percentage, the lower the quality of income). Circa 2005, I read that about 70% of Americans were heavily dependent on discretionary spending.

Going forward, I frequently use the example of a US real estate agent who wants to buy fuel to show prospective buyers suburban McMansions, versus a farmer in Kenya who wants to buy fuel to mechanize his farming operation.

If the U.S. real estate agent is one of the top ones, she will easily outbid the Kenyan farmer for gasoline. People in Kenya (and all other African countries) will starve while the well-to-do and the rich in countries such as the U.S. will be able to maintain luxurious lifestyles--including SUVs which may become more of a status symbol than they already are.

When gasoline is five to ten dollars a gallon (or rationed with marketable coupons), think what a statement is being made by someone who drives a Cadillac Escalade or other huge gas-guzzling SUV. Such a person is perceived as rich, successful, perhaps a desirable spouse.

10 years hence, I'm not sure how many real estate agents are going to still be around, but in any case regarding aggregate oil consumption in the US versus the developing countries, it will be interesting to see what the above chart looks like in 2020. Right now the trend lines don't look favorable for US oil consumption.

No trend goes on forever. Clearly, the trend for Chindia to import more and more oil at the expense of other oil-importing countries cannot go on much longer because it is at such a high rate of exponential growth.
What happens next, I do not know. But I am reminded of the ancient Chinese curse: "May your children live in interesting times."

I think we'll still have real estate agents in twenty years, some of them highly successful, most of them not getting by--kind of like now, but moreso.

You are right China and India increases can not go on forever. They can go on for another 12 years another doubling another 10Mb/day. It may be the case that people in the US will have to car pool (two people per car rather than one, but not the eight in the minivan that India uses).

When gasoline is five to ten dollars a gallon (or rationed with marketable coupons), think what a statement is being made by someone who drives a Cadillac Escalade or other huge gas-guzzling SUV. Such a person is perceived as rich, successful, perhaps a desirable spouse.

Yeah, that will work out just fine, I'm sure! However I suggest you visit Sao Paulo where the rich now fly around in private helicopters because they got kidnapped for ransom so often...


Yup. And it's not really that hard to bring down a chopper, if you are highly motivated. Of course, you probably couldn't then use the occupants as hostages for ransom, but I'm pretty sure that creative folks would find a way to leverage the threat, after a few demonstrations.

Should I invest in helicoptor manufacturers? Already, the market for armored SUVs is increasing quite rapidly.

I've never liked helicopters. The damn machines don't want to fly--unlike fixed wing aircraft.

Having said all that, Latin America is the future, so far as the U.S. is concerned.

I agree with you that the upper 20% will get what they need from the government. But the factor you have not included is geographic segregation. Places like Greenwich, Connecticut will have good roads. The roads to and from the the corporate headquarters will be maintained. The rural poor will not have roads except the dirt roads left behind from the formerly paved roads. Continental highways will be left to rot trains will be used for cross country freight and the rich will still fly. Not 787s with 800 people but fuel efficient 20 person planes. The rich will come to the countryside to stay at the bed and breakfast and see the cute rural villages.

As to how many rural poor (you and I) can be feed by manual farming that is the big question.

Given population increase, per capita disposable income is stable to falling, particularly in the two lowest income quintiles; the increase in the price of gasoline has hit low income people very hard. Note that low-income drivers are apt to drive old gas guzzlers, because they are cheap.

Thank you, Don. It's always refreshing to have an economist around who pays attention to "the little people."

Even in my circle of mostly upper-middle-class professionals (and retirees), gas prices are getting plenty of attention and creating no little concern.

And you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone around here, except for those who live off the cash-flow of the Wall St./banking casino (we have quite a few), who has been experiencing a "recovery." While food and energy prices are increasing, along with contributions to healthcare, etc., incomes have been stagnant or worse. Spending money? Less, no question.

Anyone any suggestions as to why we've just seen a considerable fall in oil price (Brent 116.60, WTI 105.30) ? I can read the headlines myself so I'd prefer suggestions that don't regurgitate Bloomberg etc :-) The dollar rising contributes a bit and yesterday's inventory report is also cited but such a large move suggests something else at play to me. Still if the fundamentals haven't changed much then I'd expect the fall to be reversed soon.

RBOB is also dropping in lock step with WTI/Brent. I'm surprised considering how low gasoline stocks are in PADD1.

Crude oil futures plunge to 5-week low on U.S. recovery fears

Gasoline consumption dropped 2.2% to 8.94 million barrels a day last week, the report showed.

Yes the fundamentals have changed considerably. It's called demand destruction and demand destruction is definitely part of the fundamentals. That is what happens when oil prices get too high, people cut back causing prices to drop. Though inventories are up, they are up because demand is down because of high prices. Oil available to the importing world is down over 1 million barrels per day since January. Prices had to rise until demand dropped by 1 million barrels per day. That's just they it works.

I am of the opinion that prices are about as high as they are going to get for awhile, not until the economy recovers. And with oil prices over $100 a barrel the economy is not likely to recover very much.

The U.S. Department of Labor said that the number of people filing for new jobless claims in the week ending April 30 rose by 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 474K, from an upwardly revised 431K in the preceding week. Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to fall to 400K.

Ron P.


I thought that you might be interested in the following article. There was some discussion in the article to the effect that the Iraqis are adopting the Saudi model, i.e., they have the oil, but there is not enough demand for 12 mbpd, so they are choosing a new, lower production target.

In a similar fashion, I am sure that if I wanted to date Julia Roberts, she would be more than happy to accept my invitation, but I am choosing not to call her at the present time.

Iraq halves oil output (target) as reality replaces ambition

The Times has learnt that the country's Oil Ministry, with backing from the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will set a new target to produce between 6.5 million and seven million barrels per day by 2017, down from original plans to pump 12m barrels, according to industry insiders. Iraq, which is a member of the Opec cartel that pumps 40 per cent of the world's oil, produces about 2.68m barrels per day, barely higher than under Saddam Hussein.

It had been hoped that with a huge injection of foreign investment, it would be able to challenge Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil exporter this decade.

Confirmation that it has scrapped the old target will add to fears that global supply will be unable to keep pace with demand in coming years.

Thanks Jeff, I sure got a chuckle out of that one. It is hard to believe that there were really people who took that projection of 12 million barrels per day serious. I think 6.5 mb/d is still way too high. They may reach 5 mb/d by 2017 if they are lucky.

Ron P.


According to the EIA "Other Oils" plunged 28% from the previous week (down 0.8 million barrels per day), dwarfing the fall in gasoline (down 0.2 mb/day) so I'll need to see a few more weeks before I consider this week's report consumption falls as anything other than a blip. Yes I'm sure demand is being destroyed by high prices but this big fall over the last two days looks like a bit of bottom testing to me helped along by a huge blip in the weekly "product supplied" data, in which case we'll be on the way back up soon. I could be wrong though!

With US gasoline stocks in PADD 1 probably only barely above MOL, the fall in RBOB seems doubly strange as pointed out by BiofuelsChE

I'll need to see a few more weeks before I consider this week's report consumption falls as anything other than a blip.

Now way is it just a blip and it has not been just this week.

Demand for gasoline in US continues to decline

Reports from government and industry groups show motorists have been cutting back on the amount of gas they put into their tanks for more than a month. That could signal trouble for the economy since Americans typically cut spending on other activities before they do less driving...

MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks retail gas spending, and the Energy Information Administration, which measures gas supplied to wholesale markets, both say that average gasoline demand has dropped for six straight weeks.

Is six weeks enough? How many more weeks do you need before you acknowledge it is not just a blip? Hey, higher prices make people buy less. That is Economics 101. You expected perhaps that oil and gasoline was some kind of an exception?

Ron P.

Ron, I'm saying that specifically last week's huge "Total Products Supplied" fall (which contributed 8.8 million barrels to EIA reported "Total Commercial Petroleum" stock) was a blip. We dropped from 19.588 to 18.332 in one week. The 4 week running average (including this week) is 19.133 so any way you look at it we've seen a huge reported fall in one week. Last year's 4 week average was 18.848 so US product demand as a whole is still 1.4% higher than the same 4 week period last year according to the EIA. For gasoline supplied the latest 4 week average (9.084) is actually higher than the YTD average (8.914).

But yes, I'm sure the product supplied figures would have been even higher were prices lower.

By the way the statement you quoted that gasoline demand has dropped for 6 straight weeks in a row is nonsense according to the EIA. Here's the EIA's Product Supplied Finished Gasoline for the last 6 weeks.

8,866  8,853  9,181  9,062  9,148  8,943

The latest 4 week average is 9.084. One month previously (W/E 25/3) it was 8.991 according to the EIA

Please do not use the term "demand destruction" that was, I think, invented by Matt Simmons. The term is hopelessly ambiguous. In the context that you are using I am guessing that what you mean to say is something like this: "Because of price increases, the quantity of gasoline demanded by Americans has decreased."

But there is another totally different concept that "demand destruction" refers to. It could mean "Because of high and increasing oil prices the demand for gasoline has gone down due to the stagnant economic growth (or recession) induced by high prices for gasoline and diesel."

Words matter.

"Because of price increases, the quantity of gasoline demanded by Americans has decreased."

Yes, that is exactly what I meant to say. Don, not to be curt but I think you are being a little too sensitive with that term. I think "Demand Destruction" fits the bill perfectly. It describes in two words what you described in 13.

But you say it could mean:

"Because of high and increasing oil prices the demand for gasoline has gone down due to the stagnant economic growth (or recession) induced by high prices for gasoline and diesel."

Yes, yes that is exactly what "Demand Destruction" means and that was exactly what I meant to imply. Pardon me but I do not see a problem here... other than demand destruction of course.

Sorry but I will not be around to reply, I am going sailing for the next few hours. Not your kind of sailing but sailing on my Hobie Mirage Adventure Island. I once had a big boat, a 34 foot sloop. Sold it about three years ago. It cost me too much money to maintain it. And I realized that I was never going to take that trip around the world anyway, or even take that year long trip in the Caribbean. Take care.

Ron P.

Sailing more is the best way to to deal with Peak Oil!

We shall have to agree to disagree about the usefulness of the term "demand destruction." Neither one of us is convinced by the opposing position.

From an economist's point of view, I know that I'm right--but economists are few and far between on TOD. If sloppy thinking is all right, then "demand destruiction" is all right too.

Just call me sloppy. ;-) Not lying this time, I am really going sailing, back in about 6 hours.

Ron P.

When you have two minutes to spare, please Google "demand destruction." Very interesting.

I did. I found at least a dozen pages, all of them using the term as I would use it. Then I news.googled the term. Came up with an article posted just three hours ago.

Oil ETFs Fall As Frontier Exec Sees Signs Of ‘Demand Destruction’

The list of refiners seeing a drop in U.S. gasoline sales includes Frontier Oil (FTO). A company executive said Thursday that “nationwide, demand destruction is there.”

Yeah, I would definitely agree. And that is exactly how I would use the term.

I just checked the price of oil. WTI is down $9.44, now below $100 a barrel. Brent is down $10.05. Wow! And all because of demand destruction. Can you believe it? ;-)

Seriously now, this could signal a nosedive into a double dip recession. Remember what happened the last time oil prices plunged this way?

Ron P.

I made a prediction on TOD about three months ago as to my forecast of U.S. real GDP growth and also the the Dow Jones Industrial Average. I predicted that the Dow would be down thirty percent from recent highs by July 4. I also predicted that U.S. real GDP growth in 2011 would stagnate and that we would certainly not reach the consensus forecast of 3%+ in real GDP growth. I stand by those predictions.

By the way, did you find a Wikipedia entry for "demand destruction"? No? I wonder why not. LOL.

Yes I found it. And I also found dozens of other entries. Now which should I give more weight, one Wiki entry or several dozens of other entries. One entry tells us how the term should be used and dozens of other entries tell us how the term is used.

Just like preparing for the decline in fossil fuels, what we should be doing and what we are doing are two entirely different things.

Don, the world will not change because it should change. The world goes on in its merry way regardless of what it should be doing.

We cannot change the world.

We are but observers, nothing more.

Ron P.

No, we are not merely observers. We are participant observers.

Don, I agree with the sentiment. Wish it was more than that. If any individual or group were to exert sufficient force on events, perhaps we would bre participants. What I have observed is that is that we are mostly kept in the dark, like mushrooms. And if anyone's head pops up, it gets cut off, just like mushrooms.

Perhaps Zaphod Beeblebrox would have been able, as an individual person, to make some changes. In reality, though, the improbability is so great that it would power us all to the restaurant at the end of the Universe, without needing the HOG.

Just an observation from a friendly fungus.


By the way, did you find a Wikipedia entry for "demand destruction"? No? I wonder why not. LOL.

Demand Destruction

C'mon, Don. Stop it.

How about we use the acronym DD but just say it stands for disincentivized distribution? Remember, you heard it here first.. :)

Actually, I did, probably the one k was trying to link: Demand destruction.

However, it does say, "This article does not cite any references or sources", which usually means we can safely ignore it.

Quite so. We can ignore "demand destruction," and in some years it will be as obsolete as "twenty-three-skidoo!"

Even though I am not an economist (or a sailor) I agree with Don on this point. "Demand destruction" should be reserved for when demand is permanently destroyed.
For example, MTBE, the fuel oxygenate that was used before ethanol, has been phased out of use - the demand for that has been well and truly destroyed. The same holds true for CFC's, asbestos, tube tv's, analog phones, carburettor engines, etc - demand has been permanently lowered our eliminated for all these things.

Demand for fuel, however, has had temporary reductions as people drive less, and if prices go back down, we will see much (not all) of that decrease is reclaimed. The part that is not qualifies as permanent demand destruction, but the current decrease as a whole does not.

If the demand can return, then it has not been destroyed - it is merely being left unsatisfied at the current prices.

In terms of a supply/demand graph, demand destruction would imply a permanent downward shift of the demand graph, whereas what we are seeing, I think, is merely a move along the existing demand line in line with price moves.

I guess we could call it Demand Reduction?

Do you mean that the demand for gasoline has gone down because price has gone up?

Or, do you mean that aggregate demand has gone down because high oil prices have slowed (or reversed) economic growth?

The two concepts are distinct, and to an economist's way of thinking they should not be conflated.

All I'm asking is that people remember what they once learned in Econ 101.

What did I learn from Econ 101? That most of economics is BS. How many notable economist consider the environmental cost of growth? The Earth's finite resources are very much like a capital stock, which is continually being consumed, but nowhere is there an explicit accounting for the loss, especially the loss in the biological services which maintain the life support functions of the planet...

E. Swanson

You must have had a bad instructor for Econ 101. Many eminent economists are prominent in the environmental movement: Let me mention just two, the great Kenneth Boulding and the less-well-known Herman Daly.

Environmental protection--and how to achieve it--has been a major theme in the literature of economics since the nineteen sixties. See any of the major journals in economics. In the course I used to teach I used as one of my textbooks, "ECONOMIC GROWTH--THE SOLUTION BECOMES THE PROBLEM" by Barkley and Secker. It is still a good read, even though it was published back in the seventies.

I took introductory economics in college during the early nineteen sixties. I don't recall any mention of the environment at that time. Remember, you pointed to Econ 101, that is, the introductory college level course, not some graduate level literature. As a refresher, I bout a copy of Mankiw's "Principles of Macroeconomics" (2004) about a year ago. The word "environment" does not appear in the index and neither does "energy". I do see a listing for "oil prices" and "OPEC" but no mention of "thermodynamics", "pollution", "ozone", "climate" or "biology". How many students ever get much further than Econ 101 to appreciate the writings you point to?

BTW, I met Herman Daly briefly back about 1979 and joined his group, the ISEE when it was started. I had to drop my membership because of a lack of funds after about 3 years...

E. Swanson

Don, those two concepts may be distinct, though i still view them as two sides of the same coin. From the gasoline buyers point of view, higher prices may make them reduce demand, as we expect. but also, the recession may have reduced their income, and thus the affordability of gasoline, which will also reduce their demand.

I would call both of those things demand reduction, as they can both be reversed by a reduction in gasoline prices or an improvement in economy/personal income. If there is a different name for those two forms of demand reduction then either it wasn't taught to me in yr 11/12 economics or (more likely) I have forgotten it.

However, i return to my central point that demand "destruction" should be reserved for describing a permanent/irreversible reduction of demand - in fact - "permanent reduction" or "elimination" is a better term. That would be the individual who goes carfree, or retires their big vehicle for a smaller one ( I am not sure if just 'selling" the SUV counts, as somebody else is then using it), or buys an EV, or the railroad that electrifies, etc

Destruction is not an economic term to start with, and shouldn't be in the discussion at all - but it is very attention grabbing for the traditionally "boring" field of economics.

One reason economics is boring is because it is so precise. If you cannot put it into mathematical form, most economists are not interested in what you have to say.

Matt Simmons was an investment banker, if memory serves. I honor his memory. But "demand destruction" is a useless and counterproductive term because it conflates two radically different economic ideas.

Perhaps another problem is that precision exceeds accuracy in the field overall. Calibration of theory with reality seems to be looser than most hard sciences.

Isn't a third part of the econ 101 puzzle "replacement"? Some destruction isn't necessary just micro reduction of demand, or macro national economy impacts, but replacement of oil with alternative, increased efficiency of new consumption, etc.?

Theory in complex systems seems to always fall short of reality in hard science. I see theory fall on its head everyday. The reality of the natural world is far more interesting and nearly impossible to predict..

Can anyone explain the sudden drop in oil prices for example?

LOL. When will Exxon drop the price at the pump -- let me guess -- 6 months from this decline ;-)

I can explain the sudden drop in oil prices very easily. A few days the U.S. reported first quarter real GDP grew only 1.8%, which was way below consensus expectations. Suddenly expectations for future growth in real U.S. GDP have declined, which means that aggregate demand (including demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) is likely to shift downwards in the near future.

Expectations can change in a matter of minutes; that is a big reason why financial markets are so volatile.

Actually what I thought made sense when I read it was that oil was down due to strengthening dollar today due to ECB signaling they would NOT be raising interest rates after all. That weakened the euro, strengthened the dollar and therefore walloped commodities denominated in dollars, like oil.

A less than 2% rise in the Dollar Index was responsible for about a 15% fall in WTI?

US Dollar Index


WTI actually fell below $95 earlier today but has recovered to $100 as of time of posting.

There may be a combination of factors, but I've been following silver for some time and it has been steadily, albeit unsustainably rising for many months now. On Monday they increased the margin requirements dramatically. As a result the market panicked - people have been selling out as they feared a crash similar to the 80s. It's now Friday and silver has really plummeted - losing about 30% in 4 days.


It looks like the panic ripples have hit the other commodities and they are also being dragged down, including oil.

One reason economics is boring is because it is so precise.

Really? Is Alan Greenspan an Economist?

If so, what was the 'precision' involved with him saying Gold was a good idea back in the late 1960's then as Fed Chair having a different position?

Did the "math" change?

If you cannot put it into mathematical form, most economists are not interested in what you have to say.

And yet so seldom are these "precise" "mathematical forms" used here on TOD. Or in the newspaper.

But "demand destruction" is a useless and counterproductive term because it conflates two radically different economic ideas.

Doublethink, a word coined by George Orwell in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes the act of simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs.

So the following things would be examples of demand destruction?
- conversion of peaking electrical generation from oil to natural gas,
- conversion of home heating from oil to gas,
- substitution of electric light rail for light vehicle travel,
- subsitution of rail for truck transport,
- use of internet shopping instead of trips to the mall, etc.

Is the first a valid example only if the oil fired plant is dismantled, or does it count if the plant is mothballed?

Is the first a valid example only if the oil fired plant is dismantled, or does it count if the plant is mothballed?
That's a good question - as always, you can find grey areas.

Depends on the conditions for mothballing. If there is some (realistic) power price high enough that it would be returned to service, I would call that reduction, not destruction, as a price movement will reverse this action. If however, the unit would only ever be operated as an emergency standby, i would call that a permanent reduction, as there is no (realistic) price point at which it will be permanently returned to service. To be picky, you might say a reduction of 99.7%, assuming the thing will run for 2hrs/month or one day per year.

All the other things are good examples of permanent reductions, and with the exception of internet shopping, should be pursued, in my opinion.

Don - I should probably keep my mouth shut since the debate over the terms doesn't really inspire me but wouldn't the term "demand decrease/increase" suffice? As you state some use the term DD to describe why prices may have moved in one direction. Do we then have to use the term "demand creation" to describe movement in the other direction? I don't see tying a cause to a term for a particular price moment as very useful since most probably won't know that basic definition.

IOW if Americans buy less gasoling then there's no debate: demand decreased. What casued that decrease can be debated endlessly. Am I being too simplistic?

What I am trying to do is to keep a perfectly simple microeconomic concept, the difference between a shift in the dd curve and movement along the dd curve, other things statying the same from being confused with a totally different

MACROECONONOMIC concept--that high gasoline and diesel prices tend to shift the aggregate demand DD curve downward and to the left because high oil prices tend to decrease growth in real GDP.

We all learned about the difference between dd and DD long ago in Econ 101. I'm asking that we use terminology consistent with Econ 101. Economists just laugh or sneer when they see a term such as "demand destruction" which is not used by economists because it is hopelessly ambiguous.

Economics has many flaws. Lack of a precise terminology is not among those flaws.

Classical economics assumes that the economic system is time-invariant and in near equilibrium for small changes in demand or supply.

Large changes in price of oil reveal that the system is not time-invariant and exhibits hysterisis. If the price goes high enough, the volume goes down. When the price goes down again, the volume does not rise to its former level because the economy has adapted to using less oil.

Of course, as noted up the thread, Chinese oil consumption increased at about 6%/year from 1998 to 2009, as US annual spot crude oil prices rose at 14%/year, over the same time frame.

Words matter.

Yes, Don, they do. However, people are going to use short, pithy (and popular) expressions that seem, to them, to be adequate shorthand for longer descriptions.

So, your task is to give us a couple of sound-bite-worthy replacements for the two concepts you outline above. If you don't, everyone will just keep using "demand destruction" and you'll keep being frustrated.

All of what I have to offer is the vocabulary of Econ 101, a course I taught for thirty-one years.

I challenge you to Google "demand destruction." Tell us what you came up with.

Don, stop being grumpy and pedantic.

I took Econ 101 and understood it (although, I took it from a moron who thought, like most economists of his generation, that demand can *create* supply, in the real world, and that "replacement" is a law of physics--sadly he was, apparently, absent the day the Second Law was explained).

I don't disagree with your criticism of the sloppy use of the term "demand destruction," I am merely pointing out to you that you are engaged in a hopeless, quixotic exercise, unless you can come up with simple, snappy, marketable terms to replace the ambiguous one to which you object.

Words mean what most people using them think they mean. And meanings change. I won't bore you with a lecture on the etymological history of common English terms, but you already know, if you think about it.

Also, please note that most of us, here, could bitch about the sloppy usage of terms that have precise meanings in the languages of the various disciplines with which we are familiar, but mostly we don't--because we know that usage in general discussion will be less precise and somewhat fuzzier.

Please Google "demand destruction." Use quotation marks.

Looks like Matt's definition has been widely adopted (big surprise).

Your point?

Agreed. English is a living language and all that. Sometimes, you just have to let go.

Also...telling people to Google things really doesn't work. Google keeps track of people and offers different results depending on your history. The first result for one person might not be the first result for another.

The point I am trying to make is that no economist uses the term "demand destruction." One reason most economists ignore or sneer at TOD is that we use dreadful slang terms such as "demand destruction."

Find me a dictionary, ANYWHERE, that has "demand destruction" as one of its terms. Can't do it? I'm not surprised.

Do we want to just talk to ourselves in a self-invented argot? Or would we like our ideas to be examined by serious thinkers and policy makers?

One reason most economists ignore or sneer at TOD is that we use dreadful slang terms such as "demand destruction."

Don, I seriously doubt that economists have a lower opinion of TOD than TOD has of most economists. There are a few exceptions of course, Jeff Rubin in particular. The term "Demand Destruction" is currently in very wide use by MSM if not by economists. So all those economists will have to sneer at MSM at least as much as they sneer at TOD.

Do we want to just talk to ourselves in a self-invented argot? Or would we like our ideas to be examined by serious thinkers and policy makers?

Are you serious? Surely you are just joking here. Because we, or the most of us anyway, use the term "demand destruction" in the exact same way that most of the main stream media uses it that we will be ignored by the entire world? Naaaah Don, pour yourself a stiff one and consider what you are saying. No one is going to ostracize us simply because we use the term "demand destruction" in the exact same way that the rest of the world uses it. Well, everyone except a few economists that insist in the correct use of every term in their lexicon.

Please see my reply to your post above requesting that I google the term. It contains a link of an article posted just a few hours ago.

Ron P.

I accept your good advice and just poured myself a good stiff pink gin. I'm willing to drop my attack on "demand destruction."

However, I'd be really interested if you can come up with a definition--in twenty-five words or less--of "demand destruction."

In addition to teaching Econ, I taught logic and rhetoric for almost thirty years.


I'm a "words matter" kind of guy, too, and I totally understand your campaign here. But over the years, I've seen many terms of art in fields that I am highly trained in and care a lot about simply co-opted and re-defined by the popular culture/MSM. It really gets under my skin, and I have tried pushing back here and there, but nowadays I have to watch my blood pressure, so I let it go.

Once the cat is out of the bag, once the toothpaste is well and truly out of the tube, there's nothing we can do about it.

But I understand how you feel.

Thank you. I think it is worth fighting the barbarians at the gate--even if the barbarians are eventually going to win (as they usually do).

The "barbarians" have won. Maybe you helped teach them how to do it:

Just say no to $5 gasoline

E. Swanson

And I'm interested in seeing all the 'precise' economists and their 'mathematics' that correctly model the past, present and future.

Because, words matter like 'precise'. pre·cise/priˈsīs/Adjective
1. Marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail.

Where are these exact, accurate and detailed Economic models?

In cryptoanalysis, informal speech is of significant importance.

Informal speech: alphabetic & phonemic texts with statistical analyses

You betcha!

I feel your pain, Don.



Sadly, there's no fighting a word/phrase once it's in common enough use.


Silver has plummeted like a lead balloon over the last few days - perhaps a taster of things to come...

Just a week or so ago (with silver at its recent peak) I talked a friend out of buying silver with money he couldn't really afford for short term gain. He'd seen Max Kaiser on some tv show saying "buy silver, make a killing and destroy J.P. Morgan".

I simply told him I had no idea of the future price direction but now was definitely not the time to gamble with money unless he really had spare cash he didn't mind losing.

Definitely good advice - I very nearly fell for the bull trap. Only just pulled out at the last minute!

Looks like even gold is taking a hit - when you look at the inflation adjusted historic it does appear like gold is due for a big drop. The only thing preventing that would be a sudden downturn in the economy...

Yes, the time to get into silver was 2010. The time to get out was March of this year. We may be entering the next stage of the global economic unpleasantness. A number of metrics are showing disturbing similarities to those of 2008. Keep your powder dry and keep some cash on hand.

As for the oil drop, you mean it isn't speculators driving the price down? Now that's a radical concept. Supply and demand after all. ;>)

Hmm.. my sarcasm detector isn't too fine-tuned! Are you saying you think it was supply and demand or speculators?

It my opinion the recently introduced margin hikes that precipitated the silver crash on Monday have spooked the whole market and are dragging the other commodities down with it - including oil, copper etc. Gold may escape the worst of the hit as it has the unique 'safe haven' status.

So it looks like at least $15 on oil was unwarranted - around 10-15% perhaps?

Speculation and emotion can undershoot as readily as overshoot. If you recall 2008, volatility increased markedly before the big crashes, and persisted through much of it.

Very true, hard to put a figure on it. But, my point was more that it should be fairly obvious now that speculation had artificially boosted oil prices by at least some degree - it wasn't purely supply and demand.

We need to wait a few more days. Selling pressure has pushed down futures and some buyers are probably pulling back a bit temporarily on the spot markets waiting for some bargains. Let's see where the price settles out. In 2008 we sometimes saw huge falls like this followed by equally huge gains the next day or so. Note that WTI is already $5 above its lowest point in early trading today.

I don't think the price has falling out of its trading range -- another $5 down and I would adjust my position. The only way we will see a real decrease is with a significant demand drop.

WTI just bounced off about $101.30 - let's see what happens next. Does that hold or will we drop below $100?

Beginning to wonder if this move does not have some significance. I doubt it but the word "recession" is reverberating in my mind.

Recession is in our near future. What I do not know is
1. When will it start?
2. How bad will it be?
3. Will it ever end, or will it be a stairstep down in the sense that John Michael Greer and aangel use the term?

John Maynard Keynes thought that economists should be relatively humble people, like dentists, that you went to for checkups, advice, and occasional repair work. Note that Ph.D. economists, on average, earn more than dentists, and they also, I think, earn substantially more than petroleum engineers and petroleum geologists, on average.

Now I ask you: Why should this be the case? Are economists smarter than the others? Do they know more?

Thank you. Maybe I should have encouraged my children to major in dentistry. Instead, three of them majored in economics. In their thirties, with no advanced degree beyond the B.A., they each earn close to $100,000 per year. Investing in my children was my long-term plan for a comfortable retirement. My one daughter who did not major in economics instead went into teaching. She has a part-time temporary position and has never been in a tenure track position despite highest grades, highest possible references. She is a great teacher, but she and her husband (a successful contractor) have no adequate medical coverage.

Nah, dentistry probably wouldn't have been the answer, either. My friend, retired dentist, managed to buy his home in Marin (long, long ago), but otherwise mostly lives on Social Security--modest investments went south with successive bubbles.

His practicing dentist daughter lives at home, so that helps with the grocery bills. She's getting pretty squeezed by the insurance companies, of course...

Tenure track? Archaic term referring to a mostly-abandoned model, right?

Kinda like "job security."

The middle and upper middle class in this country have been living in a bubble.

The rich don't care about them, and instead view them with disdain. And you can't blame them; middle class people think they are rich because they go into debt and buy things they don't need.

You have to have several million (probably close to ten) in liquid assets, at least, to be elite, and even then you are mostly just a spectator.

The real money is in the hundreds of millions range and beyond.

Sorry, but I get by on less than $40,000 a year. I live in relative luxury and can afford French champagne whenever I feel like it. When I was a graduate student, I earned less than $3,000. I lived in relative luxury and never had problems finding attractive women who wanted to ride on the buddy seat.

I know several very rich people--multibillionairs. They do not, as a group, impress me as having much in the way of street smarts--what it is going to survive in the fairly near future.

The smartest people I know are physicists. I think they will do just fine in years to come.

The devil is in the details, Don. That you have benefited from some combination of wisdom, luck and frugality says nothing about the likely fate of the middle classes as a whole.

And I'd be willing to bet that $40K would be wiped out in a hurry if you had to pay out-of-pocket for, e.g., significant medical expenses.

Also, of course, you can drink French champagne when you want because you have only moderate desire for the product. ;^)

Actually, I like French champagne and drink it whenever I have something to celebrate. John Maynard Keynes said, not long before his death: "I have but one regret. That is that I did not drink more champagne."

I'm a Keynesian. (But also I'm sympathetic with monetarism, which says that we should abolish the Fed and use rules instead.)

I buy French champagne by the case, because it is cheaper that way. On the other hand, I use less than three gallons of gasoline per week.

Good choice.

Here is a chart of annual US spot crude oil prices:

And here are the annual spot crude oil prices and year over year exponential rates of change:

1998: $14 (-41%/year)
1999: $19 (+31%/year)
2000: $30 (+46%/year)
2001: $26 (-14%/year)
2002: $26 (0)
2003: $31 (+18%/year)
2004: $42 (+30%/year)
2005: $57 (+31%/year)
2006: $66 (+15%/year)
2007: $72 (+9%/year)
2008: $100 (+33%/year)
2009: $62 (-49%/year)
2010: $79 (+24%/year)

We have nine years showing positive year over year rates of change, and the median is +24%/year, within a range from +9%/year to +46%/year. Assuming that 2011 does show a year over year increase over 2010, based on these numbers, we would expect to see an average annual price for 2011 between $86 and $125, with a median expectation of about $100, which is the approximate average to date for 2011.

The three declines are shown in bold. As I have previously noted, each successive year over year decline fell to a price level which was about twice the level reached during the previous year over year decline. If this pattern holds, the next year over year decline would bring us down to the $120 range (average annual).

If I am reading you correctly, you think crude will average $120 in 2012. If that is what you are predicting, I agree with you.

Are we looking at the big dipper?


Good question. I thought he was implying it would become the little dipper.

In the short term, the price of oil can do most anything. In the long run, I agree with westexas and his numbers.

I would say that a good bit of the hard shift in commodities has been driven by a stronger dollar in the face of economic uncertainty in the US and the EU. This then caused a quick scamper to cover margin calls on long speculation, which further increased selling. That turned into a rout as profit-locking stop-losses on many who've made money jump out.

I'm not sure if commodities are in a bubble, but they are definitely really high, and it almost doesn't matter to an investor if they crash due to a bubble pop or to a crash in consumption in the economy -- you still lose! The latter means a lot more to the poor sucker who can't afford gas or wheat, though.

Just my guess -- I'm not in the market at all, and any holding I have I will happily keep if they drop by 50% in value.

I like the writer Mike Whitney (often at Counterpunch.org). This is not a criticism of him so much as an observation at his expense of the traction peak oil has gained in the last 2 years.

In the runup of oil prices in 2008 this is what he had to say about peak oil (from here http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney06242008.html)

Excerpt: "There is no oil shortage, not yet at least. The reason oil has skyrocketed to nearly $140 per barrel is because of rampant speculation. The peak oil doom-sayers are simply confusing the issue. This is not about shortages or scarcity; it's about gaming the system to fatten the bottom line."

Today, however (in this article (http://counterpunch.org/whitney05052011.html) this is what he has to say on the topic:

Excerpt: "Welcome to Peak Oil; the era of resource scarcity has begun. Today's troubles will to be a recurrent theme in the years ahead as the economy goes from boom to bust and previous levels of growth become more short-lived and unsustainable. Naturally, our leaders have settled on a strategy for addressing the impending energy shortages; endless war disguised as humanitarian intervention. This is the type of shortsightedness that passes as policy."

Unless I've failed to perceive some different context from which he was speaking (entirely possible), it appears that he has fundamentally adjusted his perception of one of the major factors of the last recession. Interesting that's all. He's excellent.


Just a note to other TODers in Toronto that Ryerson University is running an Oil Symposium this weekend in association with the Burtansky Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. It's free, and starts Friday evening.

And yes, I know that the Toronto Comic Art Festival and Free Comic Book Day are on Saturday, but sometimes you have to make the tough choices. :)

I'll probably split my day, in deference to my 12 year old. (That would be my actual 12 year old son, not my inner 12 year old...)


Icebreaker with radioactive leak sails towards Murmansk

Increased levels of radioactivity were detected in the air ventilation system, probably caused by a leak of coolant in the reactor.

...It is unclear if Norwegian authorities are informed about the radioactive leakage incident in Russia. Norway and Russia have an agreement on informing each other in case of incidents and accidents.

- I have not heard about it, says Anne Marit Østreng, head of information with the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities when called by BarentsObserver for a comment Thursday morning.

In the department of emergency preparedness no one answered the phone.

Is nuclear power fair for future generations?

A study by Behnam Taebi from the Delft University of Technology, published online in the Springer journal Philosophy & Technology, reflects on the various possible nuclear power production methods from an ethical perspective: If we intend to continue with nuclear power production, which technology is most morally desirable?

...The state of the art in nuclear technology provides us with many more complicated moral dilemmas than people sometimes think."

Full Text from Springer: http://www.springerlink.com/content/v175v038880r372w/

SequesTech: A novel process to capture and mineralize flue gas carbon dioxide

SequesTech process has shown that elements of flue gas, which include carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury, can be simultaneously captured and turned into solid minerals without having to separate them from the flue gas. The process captures and holds carbon dioxide and other components of flue gas as an alternative to geologic storage, in which carbon dioxide is injected into pore spaces in underground geologic formations.

This specific project shows that significant amounts of flue gas carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury can be directly captured and mineralized by the fly ash particles under field conditions. The pilot-scale study shows this process to be cost effective with a minimum carbon footprint and can be retrofitted to existing coal-fired power plants or installed in new power plants as a post-combustion unit requiring very little of the plants generated electricity to run the process.

I havn't done the math on this but ...

If we already have problems finding room for fly ash, wouldn't adding a gigaton (or 2) of CO2, SO2 and mercury just make that problem worse.

Also, how stable is this mineral? 1000 years - 10,000 years? If not, then this would be equivalent to a (not so) slowly leaking underground CO2 reservoir

mineral carbonate <=> mineral oxide + CO2

equilibrium favors the oxide plus CO2 at hot temperatures, and the carbonate at low temperatures

All this is doing is balancing the CO2 given off by the ash decomposition, it doesn't take any from the coal combustion.

It might do something for the carbon tax position of the operator, but it won't ever help reduce greenhouse warming.

OPEC to Make First Export Boost in 3 Months, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will increase exports for the first time since February as refiners prepare to meet peak summer demand for driving fuels, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

OPEC, responsible for 40 percent of global supplies, will ship 22.71 million barrels a day in the four weeks to May 21, up 0.4 percent from 22.61 million barrels a day in the period to April 23, the consultant said today in a report. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola.

Errr, that's really a decrease. Last weeks figure was 22.75 mb/d and the week ending April 23 was 22.98 mb/d before it was revised downward to 22.61 in this report.

Ron P.

Basically OPEC exports are down almost 1.4 million bpd from their peak, which is slightly larger than the amount of 1.3 mbpd of oil exports from Libya shortly before their problems started in Fberuary. So in sum, OPEC has made up zero of the exports that have been lost from Libya.

There may be a small increase in OPEC exports next week, as KSA reported that it was increasing output. However it is not clear if the increased output will be mostly sour crude, like it was the last time KSA increased output.

I caution those that want to understand longer term trends that quick price moves, such as downfall seen today, tell us almost nothing about where oil supplies are headed. In fact, if anything, reducing the price of oil and gasoline now will increase demand, and bring forward the date when we will see gasoline shortages in the US. Even today, gasoline wholesalers report that premium gasoline in the eastern US is in short supply, which is not surprising in view of yesterday's EIA report showing gasoline supplies in the Eastern US (PADD 1) at record lows for this season (since such records were kept). Also regular gasoline supplies are low in the central Midwest, where flooding has was affected the movements of gasoline barges.

The dynamics for an oil price 'super-spike' later this year are still in place, probably starting in earnest after the first shortages of gasoline or diesel occur.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. On the one hand we have a powerful concerted action by the System to dampen speculative activity in commodities, pushing prices down. On the other hand we have oil production constrained creating supply problems. So the normal pricing mechanism to ration sales is effectively being broken.

I'd guess if this situation continues we will see the unintuitive sight of both fuel shortages at lower fuel prices. Not unlike the type of thing that happens in communist countries and other places where fuel prices are artificially set by the governments.

IEA conducts first ‘Emergency Response Assessment’ on non-member country

For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has undertaken a review of a non-member country’s preparedness for a major disruption to its oil and gas supplies.

...“Our experience has taught us that it is critical to have stocks and to be ready to act quickly,” Jones said.

Although the oil delivery system has changed dramatically since the oil shocks of the 1970s, there is still a high risk of a supply disruption which could have great economic consequences for countries.

Some more thoughts about life in post-tornado Alabama:

If you really want to understand the motive and driving force behind energy consumption you need to live without it for a week or so. I am not talking about going camping. To go camping is to voluntarily leave the grid, with the option to return at any point. It is quite another thing to have the grid violently removed with no fixed point for its return.

Even thought it was really just some lazy days with mild weather, the sense of tension and anxiety was always in the background. But it was when the power came back on that things are put in perspective

It is just the most amazing thing to have electric light. Yes I had flashlights and lanterns, but the power and brilliance of modern lighting fixtures is just astounding. I now understand the wonder and excitement caused by Edison's electric lights. It is impossible to truly describe the sense of amazement felt when you flip a switch and the room is completely illuminate in light. It took a little while not to be startled and mesmerized by the ability bath a room in light, once the power returned. We have become so jaded to how wondrous an achievement that is. To work in a kitchen and see what you doing, to have a electric dishwasher or washing machine for laundry, people really can't comprehend how much electric power makes life more pleasant.

We take the internet so much for granted, but it really can be quite important. Especially for weather reports. I had a solar powered radio running for days after the tornadoes hit, and I never heard a single detailed 5 day weather report. If I didn't have a weather radio I wouldn't know what was going to happen. When you have no power and are dependent on solar panels weather become very important. Will it get really cold tonight? Will it rain and keep me from getting power from the solar panels? Is another line of thunder storms forming out west and when will they get here? These are very important questions. Weather report suddenly become incredibly important.

Then there is the mobility an automobile provides. When the police announce they will arrest anyone caught driving around right after the storm you start to feel quite trapped. Even if you do go out the roads are blocked with debris, and the intersections with traffic lights have become a confused nightmare. Then their was the nightly curfew. Even so, most gas stations were shut because they had no power for their pumps. When the gas stations did get power via generators, the lines were insane. What kind of fool sits in line for an hour , in a giant SUV, with the air conditioning running? Just to get the 5 gallon ration of gas? That is insane!

At the same time to have a car that has good gas millage and half a tank of gas sitting in the garage was nice. It was an escape from the area should I want to take it.

Over all, my 6+ days without power has become a very educational experience. I will be pondering the implications for future energy depletion for a will. One big take away from all this is that people are insanely attached to their high energy consumption lifestyles.

I am inclined to say that there was a great deal of ugliness waiting to come out if the power had stayed off another week. A desperation and selflessness lurking just beneath the surface. However that doesn't really seem to describe the vibe I was picking up. Maybe insane greed would be a better phrase. Like my neighbor who wasn't satisfied with just one generator and bought three. Their was a definite sense of panic and fear in peoples faces. Although if you were to ask them now, I think they would deny what they were really feeling.

PS: My original post on how my solar powered freezer worked out is here:

Thanks Bitteroldcoot - a very eye-opening read. And as you imply : What would another null-volt-week add on?

There are probably some people in Japan who could answer that question, and, as suggested, I'm sure the second week would be much worse than the first.

Gov't intervention necessary if Hamaoka nuke plant can't make decision to shut down

...While it may appear as though the government is not considering the possibility of closing down any nuclear power plant besides the one in Fukushima, that is not the case. Behind the scenes, there have been sporadic discussions along the following lines:

That report needs reading by all. I can see why they feel it is worth the risk while they are rebuilding Japan, but once the 'what if' thinking takes hold, the whole policy needs to be looked at.

Heat Waves Putting Pressure on Nuclear Power's Outmoded Cooling Technologies

Power generated from coal, natural gas and nuclear withdraws more freshwater per year than the entire agricultural sector; nuclear uses the most

OPEC unlikely to debate quota hike at June meeting

An increase in the output quota is unlikely to be debated when OPEC next meets in June, delegates from Africa and the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, said Thursday.

Future OPEC crude oil production according to EIA: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/cf_tables/steotables.cfm?tableNumbe...

Mar 28.72	 	
Apr 28.97 +0.25
May 29.24 +0.27	
Jun 29.35 +0.11	
Jul 29.60 +0.25	
Aug 29.68 +0.08	
Sep 29.69 +0.01	
Oct 29.74 +0.05	
Nov 29.74  0.00	
Dec 29.75 +0.01	

Jan 30.15 +0.40	
Feb 30.21 +0.06	
Mar 30.26 +0.05	
Apr 30.22 -0.04	
May 30.28 +0.06	
Jun 30.34 +0.06	
Jul 30.73 +0.39	
Aug 30.80 +0.07	
Sep 30.89 +0.09	
Oct 31.47 +0.58	
Nov 31.55 +0.08	
Dec 31.64 +0.09

An interesting item on Drudge, and probably a preview of coming attractions, a gang of about 35 thieves, in 15 cars, swarms a Las Vegas convenience store:


I was just thinking last night about flash-mob crimes and riots. Seems like a modern equivalent to torch-lit hills -- fairly anonymous, quick, and brutal.

I was reminded of this passage from "A Christmas Carol,"

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them
both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this
boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,
unless the writing be erased.

There was a science fiction story or stories that may have been written by Larry Niven, but I can't recall for sure, that involved the invention of teleportation devices. One of the unintended consequences was flash riots. Something would happen and nearly instantaneously, thousands of people would teleport to the scene. Another example of life imitating art.

It was Niven, in the later Known Space novels, Ringworld etc.

It's like they took a page out of an ants playbook. Ok boys, see the apple, ready, set go!

This goes to what I've written about at different times, and that is what will herald the end of the oil age will be groups of people, either spontaneously or as part of a plan, rushing into stores and taking what they want. Stopping one person can be difficult enough, but with numerous people there's no way to stop it, short of opening fire with an Uzi. But they don't allow excessive force to stop a petty crime.

And how will law enforcement stop these kinds of crimes? Their budgets have been slashed and they can't be everywhere all the time.

...and that is what will herald the end of the oil age will be groups of people, either spontaneously or as part of a plan, rushing into stores and taking what they want...

Uh-huh. And, eventually, rushing into wherever to take what they want/need.

Substantial redistribution seems like one of the likely outcomes. We'll see whether "the owners" and their political agents are sufficiently farsighted to arrange for it to happen in an orderly and voluntary fashion... or not. Probably not; there are few signs of any such tendency.

My guess: video cameras. The stores will install them, and use them to track license plates in the parking lot as well as people in the store.

The swarm technique will easily defeat the cameras.

Firstly, if these people start getting organised flash-mob style, they can and will, park offsite, out of range of the cameras they know are there.
Secondly, the people themselves can wear hats and sunglasses, hoodies, swap clothing items with others etc.
Finally, the weight of numbers will be too much. Watching that video I expected to see more people doing more stuff in less time - think of the rush of college students at an open bar and you get my drift. There will be just too much happening too fast for the cameras to identify a meaningful number of them.

The military is getting into swarming too, for the same reason - a large quantity of swarmers can simply overwhelm even sophisticated surveillance, targeting systems and defenses. This used to be foot/horse soldiers charging a position, or kamikaze pilots, but now that their are cheap, small and lethal drone aircraft (and soon boats), there are all sorts of new possibilities.

I don't think they're that organized. It's a lark, that's all. If it gets harder, they'll find something else to entertain themselves.

The "swarm" technique has been around a long time. Remember when illegal aliens swarmed the border, embarrassing the Clinton administration?

The corner store I used to go to had a pretty good way of dissuading shoplifters, and it didn't involve the cops. If they suspected someone of shoplifting, they would refuse to do business with them. No accusations or anything. They'd just refuse to sell you things. Being the only store in the rather rural area, this was quite a hardship. No late night booze, cigarettes, diapers, milk. Kids would cry when the storekeeper refused to sell them candy, because they (and their parents) knew what it meant.

No, these guys weren't that organised - though the lead in to the whole thing suggested they were.
But it would not be too hard for them to get that organised - if they had sufficient motivation to do so.

Agreed about the small town scenario - that sort of thing tends to keep people more honest, IMO. But in the big city it's just too easy for the perpetrators to dissappear.

It's not the "big city" that makes it easy for perpetrators to disappear. It's private automobile culture.

Try antics like this in a real city neighborhood, without getaway cars, and see what happens.

The concept, with or without video assistance, is "eyes on the street."

Strongly recommend the section, early in the book, that has become known, famously, as the "Hudson Street ballet":

Death and Life of Great American Cities

From the NY Times, on the occasion of Jane's death:

Hudson Street Ballet

Yeah, the scenario sure seems like it's the precursor to 'Mad Max' or some other modern Brigandry, until you notice that with all their power, an Automobile, even a tough off-road one wouldn't be all that hard to disable or challenge if such a tactic were to start becoming more common. The actions would spur opposite reactions..

Horses are probably a little more versatile and resilient.

Motorbikes.. hmm. Maybe it'd be the return of the Lance.

My guess: video cameras.

Sure, but that only works to the extent that we have resources to track down the offenders, arrest, prosecute, punish... in other words, not for long in an increasingly resource-constrained world.

I would guess that isolated convenience stores and similar establishments will raise prices (to the extent possible) to cover losses, cut back hours of operation, abandon problematic locations etc.

In general, sprawl-style, autocentric sites are most vulnerable to these sorts of crimes (if it were a group of poor fathers taking baby food, I might not call it crime)--just one of the reasons that our current model for the built environment doesn't have an attractive future.

In the bad parts of Los Angeles, there are fences topped with barbed-wire around some larger markets. An armed guard is near the door. Some liquor-stores have cashiers and the expensive items behind thick plastic barriers with air-locks to pass cash and goods. The employees and products migrate to defensible/impenetrable positions. This then leaves the customers themselves as the targets as has become more common in restaurant invasions.

They don't allow excessive force...........yet.

Excessive force is an option for players on both teams.


Expect this sort of thing to increase in America. Just when we thought we had solved crime through mass imprisonment.

Wouldn't be surprised to see the convenience store disappear altogether. Which isn't the biggest loss, to be honest, except maybe in small towns along the highways in which a significant portion of the business is from travelers. And then they are going to face the double whammy - nobody will be traveling anymore.

Probably feedback into crime from the ongoing arms race between national armies and insurgents. The overwhelming military might on one side has spurred the need for new and effective tactics from the less powerful insurgents. Once these tactics come into use and shown to be effective they become viral and seem to be quickly assimilated and fed back through crime networks.

The bringing together of disparate groups for the purpose of a single action/operation seems to be one of the organisational innovations of the Iraqi insurgency. The same tactics can now be seen throughout the MENA countries being used against governments. Tactics used in Egypt against Mubarak have been adapted and used for crime in Las Vegas. Such is the evolution of tactics to overcome defences.

According to zFacts.com, tomorrow the National debt will pass through the $14.6 trillion threshold. This debt is growing at over $4 billion a day and $100 billion every 22 1/2 days. At this rate $15 trillion will be reached in about 90 days and $15.7 trillion by years end. These numbers won't likely change and Geithner can horse around, Congress can posture, and Wall Street can obfuscate, but the world must consider the implications now. Freddie, Fannie, FHA and the FED's QE 2 plus previous bank give aways contain losses that must be brought from "off book" to full accountability if Government officials want to have any credibility. I estimate the losses from all at one to two trillion dollars.
As the price of Brent is now about $15 above the WTI price, it is no wonder that the Middle East prices its exports based in part on the Brent benchmark not the WTI benchmark. I would expect that market forces will close the spread in the weeks ahead.

Commodity prices fell sharply today. I came to TOD for some insight and I found ... Nothing!

Please reconsider; there is a real need for daily Drumbeats.

Actually, we have a consensus on that: The markets noticed the extent of demand destruction and are reacting accordingly.


Hard to say. The insight will be here tomorrow, which isn't that long to wait, IMO.

The modern media age tricks us into believing we need to keep up with everything right down to the second, and have immediate coverage and analysis on everything in the world the moment a new development occurs.

I'm with e on the daily drumbeats. We now have a list of stories twice as long to wade through, and every second day going through 300-400 comment threads. I;m not sure what the every other day drumbeat really achieves,. other than giving Leanan every other morning off. The second day of the drumbeat tends to slowly fizzle out.

I;m not sure what the every other day drumbeat really achieves,.

Your earlier post was correct.

Well, at least I am on the right track then with some of today's thoughts. But the every other day format seems a rather inelegant way of achieving a higher signal to noise ratio - and I'm not sure if it actually has. I guess the only other alternative is to have tighter moderating of the threads, but that is not a really elegant solution either - and I'm sure you tire of having to be the bad cop.

I presume that is why the "TOD community moderator" was created but that's not a really elegant solution either. I'm glad that she at did finally reveal her name to be Kate - it is good to know there is a real person there rather than the thought police.

While I have your attention, for the record, i miss the campfire threads - they were a unique forum for thought exercises on a good range of less hard core topics - but maybe that isn't in line with the desired more focussed and technical nature of TOD.

Perhaps, just like peak oil, there is no elegant solution to this, and, we all just have to work at conserving our words and making the best use of the ones we choose to write.

Nate said the Campfire threads might be moving to EB. They have a message board now.

I always liked the idea of the 'outside' forum of audio asylum. Basically, wafflers get temporary posting suspension on the main subject BBB, but the discrete unadvertised 'outside' board is still allowed for UFO spotters etc. It always seemed to be accepted as a bit of fun, and some lived generally outside, like characters in 'Escape from New York'.

PeakOil.com tried that for awhile, with their "Out of This World" forum, but ended up getting rid of it. I think they found that it attracted crazies. They ended up getting rid of a lot of OT-ish forums for a much stronger focus on peak oil.

Please reconsider; there is a real need for daily Drumbeats.

My conclusion is the opposite. More open threads mean there will be more silly crap and less "insight."

I agree. Let us have more "quality" and less "quantity" when it comes to comments.

Leanan if you're so burned out on the participants here (and no one could blame you), isn't there some way you can put someone else on the job?

As a daily reader here I am really disappointed by the change.

It's really not about me.

I think the real problem is that there's just not enough interest in peak oil these days. We've seen $150 oil, and Mad Max did not happen. Who knows if or how much Aramco can raise production, but it seems there's no nosedive into the desert looming. The BP spill is capped, the 2008 crisis did not result in empty store shelves, and we haven't had a serious hurricane recently.

That's the reason signal to noise has become such a problem. There's not as much to discuss on the peak oil front, so we end up with political rants, bizarre theories, silly one-liners, flamewars, etc.

This is a concern of the entire staff, not just me. What happened with Fukushima is an example. While I helped out with some of the early open threads on that, for the most part, other staff members posted and moderated them.

And we pretty quickly came to the conclusion that they weren't helpful and were not a good reflection on the site. We are still very much interested in what's going on at Fukushima, but we're dependent on media coverage. Once they lose interest, there's not much we can do. With little in the way of actual information to discuss, posting more threads only makes the signal to noise ratio worse.

It's really not about me.

I'm glad to hear you say that, because I don't think it is either - the real problem is, as you go on to say, that there is not much momentous stuff happening. Without any big issues to keep everyone's interest focused,, we have the blog equivalent of idle minds doing the devil's work. This is why I like the campfires, as you got to invent an issue for us to focus on - i'd like to think that some original thinking, and maybe one or two useful ideas came out of that online think tank.

I think this speaks to bigger peak oil related problem - the situation is not really getting better or worse, it is just stagnating and sliding sideways, as is interest from people, industry and politicians - recession has something to do with that too. For many companies, including unfortunately, my clients, their environmental/energy/efficiency stuff is all on hold - indefinitely. They are focused on just surviving - other issues can wait until their company/dept recovers. So too it is to some extent in the alt energy industry, where I have my other foot in the water, everything is slowing down - the enthusiasm (political and public), and capital to back it, has drained away. Too many over hyped failures and the good stuff remaining is tarred with the same brush.

I have only been on here for 18 months - for you and the other five+ year people, this must be getting pretty repetitive - there must be very few new ideas, theories, plans, etc that you haven't seen in some form or other before.

Interesting also your/mgt views about drumbeat as the the icing rather than the cake. It had occurred to me (and I'm sure this has been discussed at mgt level) that maybe it's time to split them altogether, and have a separate website for drumbeat, so TOD becomes a more focused technical site.

The OBL thing of the least few days would make it hard for any policy maker to take seriously any direction that TOD might offer.

Interactive media is great - but in some ways it is reminiscent of the open plan office of the '80s. It was to encourage communication, but there ended up being too much anecdotal communication and not enough work - the signal to noise problem.

I appreciate your efforts to provide and manage drumbeat - it must sometimes feel like you are herding cats!

Without any big issues to keep everyone's interest focused,, we have the blog equivalent of idle minds doing the devil's work.

Exactly. It's not my imagination. I have gone back and compared it day to day for key days (say, Christmas or Thanksgiving, and the days surrounding) and the discussion really has gotten a lot sillier and more trivial. TOD used to have a focus that it no longer has.

I think this speaks to bigger peak oil related problem - the situation is not really getting better or worse, it is just stagnating and sliding sideways, as is interest from people, industry and politicians - recession has something to do with that too.

Yes. Personally, I find this as interesting as other peak oil scenarios (it's the one I thought was most likely), but clearly others do not. Heck, LATOC has shut up shop.

maybe it's time to split them altogether, and have a separate website for drumbeat, so TOD becomes a more focused technical site.

They did consider that, back when we were working on the new format for the site. I would have been fine with it, but they decided against it for some reason. The staff is far from monolithic; while officially we have decided that lower traffic is fine, I think some still worry that we'll lose too much of our audience if we don't have frequent new content. They didn't want to give up the Drumbeat because it provides cheap and easy new content.

"The OBL thing of the least few days would make it hard for any policy maker to take seriously any direction that TOD might offer."

Any policy maker won't take anything seriously if it is outside the consensus view, that's why they always get it wrong.

Actually the OBL thing is what is so good about TOD, the story put out by the Administration was immediately jumped upon as being BS. Subsequently that has been proven correct with most of the original story, with the exception of OBL's death, being mainly lies.

The damning shame was the number of people who took up the strawman argument that OBL wasn't dead and started accusing people of being conspiracy nuts if they questioned the Administration's concocted storyline.

for you and the other five+ year people, this must be getting pretty repetitive

MSM is pretty repetitive

I personally think Fukishima was a shining success example, second only to the gulf spill. In both cases the information and insight here was equal to or better than anywhere on the web, and the combination of the two yielded the highest signal-to-noise ratio anywhere. Really, that's what I like most -- for every post of flame or fluff, there are a couple of others with info or insight, and even some of the fluff makes me say, "Hmmm, I hadn't realized there were people who thought THAT way!".

Some of the TOD banter is just fill -- the small-talk when nothing much is going on. It's easy to just join in to add a different opinion on something that overall is quite pointless.

Every once in a while a topic comes up that I am actually expert on, and it's good to be able to offer some additional depth and color even if only a few percent of the population care about it. Yesterday was an example -- we got to talk about data networking for a while, though it's obviously a tangential topic. That's the great thing about energy, as really it affects EVERYTHING, and vice versa.

I guess to me TOD feels more like a dinner party than a professional symposium, and I'm fine with that. The other threads provide the flip.

And, as always, thanks for your contributions Leanan. You are a rare mix of insight, organization, and moderation, but above all you are incredibly dependable. I hope you feel self-actualized, because I can't imagine many roles where your mix of talents would apply so readily.

I guess to me TOD feels more like a dinner party than a professional symposium, and I'm fine with that. The other threads provide the flip.

I was thinking about that yesterday after this little subthread. My first thought was that it was like a gathering at a bar after work, but that not's quite right either./

The analogy I have arrived at is that TOD is the online equivalent of a technical conference. We were all attracted here, one way or anther, for information about peak oil or related issues. (in my case, renewable energy - the first thing I ever saw here was Engineer Poet's grand plant that was his first key post - something about growing switchgrass everywhere and turning it into charcoal)
The key posts are the equivalent of the technical sessions - a very close equivalent, in my view, and allows for excellent commentary, even if you couldn't be there at the right 30 minutes to hear a presentation. I presume the threads on the key posts are moderated more carefully to keep things on topic as much as possible - real Q&A sessions always have a moderator for exactly that reason

And then we come to drumbeat - and that is the equivalent of the reception at the end of the day. You have all the people together with the common interest, but the discussions over drinks/dinner vary widely - some on topic, some off - you just never know what knowledge diamonds will be in that rough. The evening reception is place to get to know the other delegates better - exactly as drumbeat allows us to show a bit more personality/wit etc and learn more about others here. It is part of what makes the TOD community, a community instead of just a think tank.
A conference that does not have any such social forum during its time feels very "dry" - in every sense of the word.

Where the analogy breaks down is that at the conference, all the reception conversations are off the record - here they are just as on the record as the technical ones. I think that limits the UFO spotters somewhat, but not totally. The OBL discussion would almost certainly have happened at any reception at real conference this week - but it would not have been put down in the proceedings of such.

Now, what happens when the "reception" overshadows the technical sessions? Does that mean the conference is becoming irrelevant? I have ben to many where the networking sessions and the receptions have been more useful and informative than the technical sessions - but it is the technical topic that brought everyone together in the first place. And so it is here, and I can;t see any way around that. Drumbeat represents a great "community", and if there aren't a lot of good technical topics to discuss, we invent others, for good or ill.

I don't know how to answer the editor's conundrum - they are not sure what direction they really want for TOD, and in the meantime, the drumbeat community carries on. But it is a Peak Oil site, and as interest in Peak Oil wanes, so too it seems does TOD. A quick glance at the links to the left shows a plethora of other sites for Peak Oil information, and it seems the high level technical one would be ASPO. For the others, I don't bother with them much, and I have not found anything that matches drumbeat - that is the light that keeps this bug around.

Maybe we have reached, and passed, peak TOD/drumbeat, and we are all having trouble working out what to do next? I hope TOD/drumbeat stays around, rather than withering and becoming a short lived internet species, albeit one having produced some good fruit.

And rather than just withering away, if it (drumbeat) must end, it should do so in grand style. I for one would support a real world TOD get-together - to turn the virtual community into a real one - I expect it would be more interesting than any conference reception I have ever been to.

That's a pretty disturbing comment from the Big Boss of the open threads, Leanan.

Sounds like job burnout.

That's a pretty disturbing comment from the Big Boss of the open threads, Leanan.

I have to agree with kalliergo. You've posted similar type comments before, and there's nothing wrong with just admitting to yourself your burned out on TOD or on the topic of peak oil. Let it go, and seek out something that does ignite your passion.

Peak oil is an ongoing situation. It doesn't just end at some convenient point in time. It progresses as the situation dictates.

I don't think it's me so much as the rest of the staff that's burned out. Or rather, so busy with other things that they can't spend quite as much time on TOD.

When we had several key posts a day, a daily Drumbeat was appropriate. Now that we have only a few key posts a week, a daily Drumbeat would be too much. You might see the Drumbeat as the heart of TOD, but I would guess most of the staff sees it as a sort of extra - lagniappe, if you will. Or the dessert that goes along with the meal. You shouldn't have more dessert than entree.

Yes, adding to the staff might be a solution, and we are trying to do that. But adding more people means more organization issues. (Very Tainterian.) In the long run, we've come to the understanding that we have to be smaller to be sustainable.

I agree with the others above, I don't think it's so bad.
I admit I find myself often wondering what this or that particular subject has to do with energy, but that's the nature of the discussion.

There was a brilliant discussion on the matter of U.S. economy not a long whole back, and then a discussion into the causes and effects of the Great Depression.

Is that related to energy? Not directly, but if things turn out as some think, we'll get another depression and then a discussion on the Great Depression is merited.

And then, of course, you have all other things. But overall I think the comments have a high quality, even if they can be a bit too spread out. I wouldn't agree with the 'silly crap' comment, to be frank.
People in the comment's thread go off topic a bit too often, perhaps, but usually do so in an intelligent and measured way.

As others have noted, perhaps a job burnout have occured?

No, I do not believe that "job burnout" and "Leanan" belong in the same sentence. Leanan has always been a voice of fresh air and moderation. We can use those traits at TOD.

My conclusion is the opposite. More open threads mean there will be more silly crap and less "insight."

I personally think daily drumbeats was the heart and soul of TOD. What happens when a Drumbeat drags on for a 2nd day is the number of posts drops dramatically, particularly late in the day. In particular we lose the great ones on here posting as much, like Darwinian and westexas. It becomes a ghost thread. Even if there were half as many articles linked to drumbeats daily, it will always beat bi-daily INHO. Daily drumbeats had a constant rythum to it that always kept the excitement level peaked.

I don't even think drumbeat needs policing. If someone gets out of hand the rest of us will act as policemen by flagging their posts as inappropiate. Sometimes two posters will get into an argument, but that's life - the rest of us get entertainment out of that type of thing. Just slap a drumbeat on there and go have a nice day.

What happens when a Drumbeat drags on for a 2nd day is the number of posts drops dramatically, particularly late in the day.

I see that as a feature, not a bug. I want people to put more thought into what they post.

Daily drumbeats had a constant rythum to it that always kept the excitement level peaked.

That would be fine, if our mission was to keep excitement peaked. It's not.

If someone gets out of hand the rest of us will act as policemen by flagging their posts as inappropiate.

We've tried that. It didn't work.

Just slap a drumbeat on there and go have a nice day.

If that's all there is to it, why don't you do it? Seriously, sign up for a free blog at Blogger or Wordpress, devote it to peak oil discussion and have at it.

I want people to put more thought into what they post.

The thread dying out means to you they are putting more thought into the posts?

That would be fine, if our mission was to keep excitement peaked. It's not.

What's the mission then?

If that's all there is to it, why don't you do it? Seriously, sign up for a free blog at Blogger or Wordpress, devote it to peak oil discussion and have at it.

Ok, I admit the comment seemed flippant, but my point was not to get so wound up about trying to control the drumbeat, just let it do its thing. If its fresh every day, who cares if someone or some topic got talked about too much?

As Buddha teaches, the instrument that is too tight breaks and will play no music, and the instrument that is too loose won't play music either. But the instrument that is in between those two extremes will play great music. And great music was daily drumbeats. Every other day is too loose, and every hour is too tight, but daily is the perfect balance. I know because I was on here when it was daily and I and most others loved it.

The thread dying out means to you they are putting more thought into the posts?

In general, yes. I think it means they are posting only when they have something to say.

What's the mission then?

We'd like to build and maintain a reputation for good analysis of energy issues.

Ok, I admit the comment seemed flippant, but my point was not to get so wound up about trying to control the drumbeat, just let it do its thing.

Like I said...we've tried it. It didn't work. We did not like the results. As Nate said, Gresham's law applies.

I don't think you understand how important moderation is on an Internet forum. Anyone can set up a blog on the net for free. What makes one forum better than another is the moderation. TOD has been carefully moderated for as long as you've been a member here. I suspect you would soon lose interest and leave if we did as you said, and just slapped up a thread and left.


We'd like to build and maintain a reputation for good analysis of energy issues.

OK. I think most would agree that much such analysis appears here quite regularly.

Obviously, though, there is some behind-the-scenes consternation, as well as annoyance with the "quality" of comment.

Given that, may one ask, "To what end do you seek to build and maintain said reputation?"

Frankly, if the goal is to become a virtual think tank on energy issues, a place where government and industry turn for top-level consulting, it would probably make most sense to get rid of Drumbeat entirely, tightly restrict posting to the technical threads (which should be chosen for timely relevance to prospective "clients") and let those with philosophical/political agendas and contrarian (in relative terms) viewpoints find other places to play.

After all, it's a big Internet.

Frankly, if the goal is to become a virtual think tank on energy issues, a place where government and industry turn for top-level consulting, it would probably make most sense to get rid of Drumbeat entirely, tightly restrict posting to the technical threads (which should be chosen for timely relevance to prospective "clients") and let those with philosophical/political agendas and contrarian (in relative terms) viewpoints find other places to play.

We have considered that. In fact, several years ago the Drumbeat got so wild and woolly that we considered getting rid of it, or making it "no comments." (It did go up as a no comments allowed thread for one day - not by my choice, but I understood why they did it.)

Another possibility is to have a commenting system like RealClimate. No comment appears until it has been approved by a moderator. Could go back to daily Drumbeats with something like that.

(We are not planning to make any changes any time soon. It's just, as Paul says, this has been a problem for years, so we have a long list of possible solutions we have considered.)

In any case, I think we've moved away from think-thank thing. Or at least, we want to reach out to the media as much as to government and industry.

For what it's worth, I'm one of the moderators on a Google Group which was started by a group of people who migrated from sci.environment. Actually, I appear to be the "Last Man Standing" in that I may be the only moderator still approving posts. The group has withered of late, the most recent post was back in March to a thread I started. Most of the other moderators have started their own blogs, which would seem to dilute the basic effort to deliver the message to the general public. Like Real Climate, the Google Group posts aren't put up until approved and that might take me a day or more, since I don't check my e-mail on an hourly basis nor do I use instant messaging. As for Real Climate, their comments to articles are not threaded, which makes it very difficult to follow any discussion which might branch off the original topic into different directions. I seldom visit or post on Real Climate as a result.

The staff at TOD has done a great job putting together a one site source for information and comment on our energy problems and I hope you all will be able to keep at it, even if the price for oil continues to drop and people again become complacent and go back to BAU, as happened after 2008...

E. Swanson

I don't know if it is "signal to noise," or what, but I can tell you that I have trouble reading Drumbeats, even on the first day, any more. A year ago, before we become popular following the BP spill, I could hop on late in the day, and read all the comments, at least. When I get on at 3 or 4 PM, and there are already 200+ comments, I find myself skipping Drumbeat and going to the other items that have fewer comments.

I agree that many comments are off the mark, and that more thought should be given. I also agree that we should have a daily Drumbeat.

Maybe the occasional review of what it means to be "inappropriate" and use of the flag might be a good idea. It would not hurt my feelings if a post I made was culled out by the rest of TOD; it might if it was culled out by 'management.'

Just a thought. I still think you do a pretty good job!


I also agree that we should have a daily Drumbeat.

Thanks zaphod42, but also agree that

I still think you do a pretty good job!

Yes, you do Leanan, and you have some very interesting comments on Drumbeats as well. Not trying to cause a disturbance in the force, just tossing my opinion into the mix.

The problem is too much info in one go. The daily drumbeats were sometimes a pain to go through anyway along with the comments anyway. Especially when the markets burped.

I just speed read and/or skim most articles. They are fairly generic from the big boys anyway and the comments will usually pick out any fun points to be had as well.

You could maybe drop some opinion pieces, or give them their own weekly roundup. There isn't much to trim though if you want all sides and all dimensions of the problem.

The variety and traffic generated keeps the site lively.

Yes, but as Leanan stated above in response to Perk Earl, that is not their mission.

I think the really issue here, is whether the site is being targeted at, and run for, the benefit of the commenters (us) or the readers - probably 10x as many.

If they really want to keep it technical, then they could just get rid of commenting altogether - and I'm sure that option has been discussed.

Personally, I learn much more from the comments on the stories than the stories themselves - the sheer variety of viewpoints from all backgrounds and all parts of the world - is unmatched - and is clearly what keeps us commenters here. We just may not be the prime objective for the site, that's all.