Drumbeat: May 11, 2011

Oil Drops Below $100, Gasoline Tumbles, on U.S. Supply Surge

(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell below $100 a barrel in New York and gasoline tumbled the most in more than two years after an Energy Department report showed that U.S. supplies surged and fuel demand slipped.

Crude futures dropped as much as 5.2 percent after the department said stockpiles jumped 3.78 million barrels to 370.3 million last week. Gasoline inventories unexpectedly increased 1.28 million barrels to 205.8 million, the first gain in 12 weeks. Total fuel consumption declined 0.9 percent to 18.2 million barrels a day, the lowest level since June 2009.

Stock sell-off intensifies as oil sinks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A stock sell-off gained momentum Wednesday as investors dumped out of commodity-related stocks. Energy stocks were getting particularly hard hit, as both oil and gasoline futures declined sharply.

"Commodities are getting crushed here, and it's taking the whole market with it," said David Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams.

Conoco CEO: Gasoline prices unlikely to retreat

(Reuters) - Gasoline prices at the pump probably will not return to $3 per gallon in the near future as crude oil prices remain strong, ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva said on Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips expects crude oil prices to range from $90 to $105 per barrel in the short term, and $80 to $110 for the long term, supported by demand from emerging economies, Mulva said at the company's annual shareholders meeting.

Floods drives up gas prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Flooding along the Mississippi River is driving up gas prices over fears that refineries could become inundated in coming weeks, especially as the flood heads downriver for Louisiana.

"When we've had flood waters in this part of Louisiana before, it has closed up to 12 refineries," said Peter Beutel, analyst with energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover, referring to the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "The fear here is that we could see refineries close again."

Oil futures: How China could keep US gas prices low

"China and India are trying to slow down [their economies]," Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services in Sydney, told Dow Jones Tuesday. "Look at China's manufacturing and trade surplus – [the country] has got to do something," he said.

If India and China raise interest rates and tighten monetary policies, it could cause lower demand for oil in those nations, with a knock-on effect of deflating oil futures and easing pump prices for US car drivers. An oil future is an agreement between two parties to buy and sell oil at a set price.

Enbridge Revives Talks Over Pipeline To Relieve Cushing Glut

CALGARY -(Dow Jones)- Enbridge Inc. said Wednesday it is in renewed talks to build an oil pipeline that would link the key U.S. supply hub of Cushing, Okla., with refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The potential Monarch pipeline project would compete with two other pipelines proposed by TransCanada Corp.'s and Energy Transfer Partners LP.

Increased Canadian oil supplies have caused a glut of at the Cushing hub and made U.S. benchmark oil prices trade at a discount compared with international benchmarks. Producers and pipeline companies are vying to unblock that glut and send the extra oil down to refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast, where prices will reflect the higher international price of oil.

Gas Shales Face Conflicting Future

Caution: The term "resources" refers to hydrocarbons that cannot be produced commercially now, and maybe never, at any price. Also, the resource hydrocarbons may not exist, or are sequestered in such a way that they may never be located. Placing any reliance on this number to meaningfully add to our national energy sources during your lifetime could be hazardous to your financial health.

How the Michael Lewis school of revisionism informs the shale gas debate

The shale gas industry might brush up on its John Lennon ("Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."). Alerted numerous times of fast-coming federal regulation unless it goes transparent and begins to police itself, the industry's hard-liners have dug in under the assumption that -- as has befallen so many other seemingly inevitable business reforms -- this one too will die of its own accord.

Shale Gas Production Slowed by Environmental Issues

France's National Assembly voted Wednesday to rescind licenses granted for unconventional gas exploration in a move that is likely to put smiles on faces in Gazprom headquarters.

Enbridge expects pipeline decision in early 2013

CALGARY—Enbridge Inc. expects to hear from the federal regulator in early 2013 about whether its controversial proposal for a crude oil pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast will be allowed to move ahead.

YPF Makes Argentina’s Largest Oil Discovery in Two Decades

(Bloomberg) -- YPF SA, Argentina’s largest company by market value, said it’s discovered the equivalent of about 150 million barrels of shale oil at a field in southern Patagonia, the country’s largest discovery in two decades.

Saudi Aramco to Supply Full June Oil Volumes to Asian Refiners

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. will supply full contracted volumes of crude to Asian refiners in June, according to refinery officials.

Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, will provide 100 percent of cargoes sold under long-term contracts for a 19th month, according to refiners in Thailand, Malaysia, China and Japan who requested anonymity, citing confidentiality agreements with the Middle East’s biggest producer.

Calderon Vows to Renew Drive in Congress to Boost Pemex Output

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Felipe Calderon said he plans to sell bonds issued by Petroleos Mexicanos to his countrymen and renew a drive in Congress to give the state-run oil producer the tools it needs to boost output.

Yemen eyeing crude imports from Saudi Arabia-sources

DUBAI/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, May 11 (Reuters) - Yemen is in talks to import crude oil from Saudi Arabia, a senior official said on Wednesday as the poorest Arab nation struggles to tackle its fuel crisis with nearly half of its oil production shut.

A blast in March on Yemen's major oil pipeline, suspected to have been launched by angry tribesmen, has stopped the flow of light Marib crude, forcing its 130,000 barrels-per-day Aden refinery to shut and triggering a nation-wide fuel shortage.

Fuel Shipments Arrive in Yemen amid Acute Shortage

The Aden Oil Refinery resumed its operations after crude oil shipment arrived coming from India, an official at the Aden Refinery Company said on Tuesday.

Uganda: Opposition leader kept in Kenya

Amid claims of human rights violations against protesters, police sprayed opposition leaders with pink-coloured water in the capital, Kampala, on Tuesday.

The President, Yoweri Museveni, has vowed to crush the protests and blamed rising food and fuel costs on drought and increases in oil prices.

Kenya to increase imports of refined gasoline

(MENAFN) Kenyan Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary, Patrick Nyoike, said that as a result of an output decline from its only refinery, East Africa's biggest economy would increase its imports of refined gasoline, reported Bloomberg.

Kenya Govt: Speculation by oil firms alarming

The government has put on notice oil marketers notorious for leaving their stocks at the refinery for more than 30 days threatening to bar them from participating in the open tender system for the next three months.

Energy PS Partrick Nyoike says oil marketers will be allowed to have their cargo at the refinery for ten days after which they will start paying tax of 800 shillings per cubic metre for any extra days.

Justice Dept Claims EPA Did Not Violate Range's Due Process Rights

The Justice Departments contends in court papers filed Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency did not violate Range Resources' constitutional right of due process when it issued a Dec. 7 emergency order against the company related to methane contamination of two residential water wells in Parker County.

Australia - Budget preview: Swan v elephant

While the high Australian dollar is keeping fuel prices in check, the reality is that prices are at higher levels today than when John Howard was forced to reduce the fuel rebate to quell a public backlash. Ongoing instability in the oil-producing Middle East, failed attempts to tap deep sea reserves and growing sense that the Peak Oil movement may not actually be doomsday nutters combine to create a set of challenges outside Wayne Swan’s control.

Midday with Dan Rodricks Power Ahead: CoalAudio

Hour two, on day two, of Midday's special series Power Ahead continues looking at fossil fuels. The focus of this hour is coal. Our guests this hour are Richard Heinberg, author and senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute., Don Shields, executive director, Center for Energy, University of Pittsburgh, Roger Bezdek, clean coal and energy security advocate and Mike Moore, president, Maryland Coal Association.

Energy Dept.: Ethanol production in U.S. falls 1.5 percent

Ethanol production in the U.S. fell 1.5 percent to 862,000 barrels a day last week, according to the Energy Department.

DTE solar panels coming to Volt plant

The factory where General Motors Co. builds the electric Chevrolet Volt will soon become home to a sprawling solar panel installation, courtesy of DTE Energy.

The Detroit-based automakers announced today it's partnered with the region's largest power company to install 264,000 square feet of solar panels at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant off West Grand Boulevard.

How a village community is blazing a trail to a greener life

What makes Llangattock Green Valleys so impressive is the breadth of vision of the scheme, encompassing everything from renewable energy to woodland management, transport to allotments, even down to litter picking.

Llangattock Green Valleys is run as a social enterprise by a member-based community interest company with 150 members, incorporated last May. All the work that is being done in Llangattock Green Valleys is being done by volunteers, by members of the community giving a little of their time when they can.

The aim is to be a carbon neutral village by 2015.

Sharon Astyk: Public Resources, Private Resources

Whenever I talk about going to lower energy usage, a percentage of people shout out something like "But that would mean going back tothe stone age, to lepers walking the streets and people throwing their feces out the window on our heads!!!" I think it is fair to say that variations on the "without power, life would be intolerable" is a common assumption.

Part of the thing that bothers me about it is that I don't think it is true. I've spent a lot of time studying history, and I don't think the lives of all of those in human history who preceeded us were intolerable. I am extraordinarily fond of useful things like antibiotics and nutritional knowledge, but those are things that can be had in societies where *individuals* don't necessarily have access to high technologies.

Bill McKibben: Climate change and the flood this time

As climatologists have warned for years, warmer air holds more water vapor than cold. That means record snowfalls like the ones we saw this winter across the upper Midwest, and record rainfalls like the ones that have washed across much of the region this spring. And it also means more evaporation — and record drought — in places like parched Texas.

Peak oil? Now it's peak cars (audio and transcript)

Australian and world peak car ownership per capita was in 2004 and since has shown a slow decline. It marks an end to car dependence. Teenage car ownership has dropped markedly. Figures suggest a big cultural shift as well as structural change within cities. Some very large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have made it almost impossible to buy a new car. Car transport has reached a limit. Shanghai built a metro system in 10 years, which covers 80% of the city and carries 8 million passengers each day. Metros are being built in 82 Chinese cities and 14 Indian cities. Peter Newman compares the cost of constructing roads and railways and says both cost about $50million per kilometre. But rail carries 8-20 times the passengers carried by road. With the price of gasoline heading north, people are moving back into cities and not wanting to be as dependant on cars as they were.

Crude Oil Futures Halt Two-Day Advance on Chinese Inflation, European Debt

Oil fell for the first time in three days in New York on concern that China will boost interest rates to tame inflation and on signs that U.S. crude supplies are increasing.

Gasoline dropped as much as 4.7 percent on speculation that a 9 percent rally in the past two days was excessive. The fuel had advanced on concern that flooding on the Mississippi River will disrupt U.S. supplies. Yesterday the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories jumped last week. The Energy Department will release its data today. Consumer price rises in China exceeded the government’s target last month, data from the statistics bureau in Beijing showed.

OPEC holds oil demand forecast steady

CAIRO (AP) -- OPEC is holding its 2011 oil demand growth forecast unchanged, but cautions that while the market currently appears balanced, there is uncertainty about the U.S. economic recovery and Japanese demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said Wednesday in its monthly report that it saw oil demand growing at 1.4 million barrels per year, largely unchanged from the previous month.

3 strange things that happen when oil prices rise

When oil prices skyrocket, there are ripple effects that go far beyond cutting into your spending money and making Las Vegas seem like a less attractive weekend getaway (for people who like that kind of thing). High prices at the pump can also make your fryolator a prime source of income, cause you to spend more time online, and make your motorcycle a target for thieves.

Pain at the Pump May Come in Stages

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- If you were around in the 1970s, you'll undoubtedly cringe to recall leisure suits and disco dancing. Even more unsettling: the memories of trying to pump gas.

Why Oil Prices Could Soon Be at $64

Identifying bubbles is not (very) hard. What’s hard is predicting at what price and when they will pop. Two weeks ago I wrote an article titled “FAO Food Index Predicting a Reversal in Crude Oil Prices”. I’d say a 15% decline in Brent from $127 to $110 qualifies as a 'reversal'.

Three good reasons to be wary of commodities

So much for the great commodities crash.

After last week's big panic, commodities have stabilised and rebounded rapidly. Even silver is off its lows.

The positive news on US jobs on Friday helped, as the fear that the US economy can't support itself without a steady stream of printed money ebbed somewhat.

OPEC Greed Fuels Oil Profits

Hopefully you're not waiting for a global peak in oil production.

If that's the case, I have some bad news for you...

It already happened... five years ago.

Trade Deficit in U.S. Widened in March on Oil Imports

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than forecast in March as the highest oil prices in more than two years boosted imports, eclipsing record exports.

The trade gap rose 6 percent to $48.2 billion, the biggest since June, from $45.4 billion in February, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected it would widen to $47 billion. Sales abroad climbed by the most in 17 years.

Jeff Rubin: A recession is coming, but not just yet

There will be many dress rehearsals in commodity markets before the next global recession. An example is last week’s dramatic and broad-based sell off that took oil prices for over a $10/barrel tumble. And there is no doubt that despite the scarcity of the resource, the price of oil will crash the next time the global economy sewers.

ASPO-9: the ghost of hyperinflation to come

At the 9th conference of the Association for the study of peak oil (ASPO) in Brussels, one of the speakers said that it was time to stop economists bashing. That is probably correct: economists are not worse than other professionals: they just suffer of the great visibility of Sturgeon's law in their field. The law says that "90% of everything is crap" (or, in a stronger form, that 99% is). So, if 90% (or 99%) of economists just don't get it, there is at least a 1% of them who do.

At ASPO-9 in Brussels we had two representatives of this 1% of economists: Jeff Rubin and Douglas Reynolds. Rubin was the first to speak and he gave a rather soft talk; he still predicted dark and dire things resulting from oil depletion, including the break-up of the European Union, the bankruptcy of Greece, and other niceties. Reynolds was more direct. He didn't mince words in saying that we were going to go the way the Soviet Union did in the 1990s. We are going to experience total collapse; together with hyperinflation. And he suggested to get ready to stock whiskey and cigarettes to use as exchange medium.

Mississippi River May Inundate 3 Million Acres, Halt Refinery Operations

The rising water has interrupted coal shipments to power plants in Tennessee, flooded more than 100,000 acres of Missouri cropland, forced thousands from their homes and prompted the Corps to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to reduce the river’s force through New Orleans.

Flooding limited movement of products in and out of the plant by barge, said the people, who declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak for the refinery. Entergy Corp. (ETR) expects “several inches” of water in its gas-fueled Baxter Wilson plant north of Vicksburg, based on a forecast crest on May 19, Jill Smith, a company spokeswoman, said yesterday in an interview. Gear and equipment is being moved to the second floor, and crews are sandbagging a low levee that protects the plant, she said.

China’s Commodity Takeovers Dropping 30% This Year as Oil, Copper Advance

China, the world’s biggest user of natural resources, is pulling back from commodities and energy acquisitions as the rest of the world pursues deals at the fastest pace since the financial crisis.

China's surging food prices slow in April

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Chinese consumers may finally start to get some relief from skyrocketing prices.

China's surging food prices recently slowed, bringing the country's entire inflation gauge down just slightly in April.

India’s Coal Imports From South Africa Decline as China Purchases Increase

India’s imports of coal from South Africa fell 29 percent in April from a year earlier while Chinese purchases rose, according to mjunction Services Ltd.

South Africa supplied 1.21 million metric tons of the fuel last month to India from a year earlier, the Kolkata-based trader said in an e-mail. That was 18 percent lower than the 1.48 million in March. China’s purchases rose 12 percent to 504,000 tons in April from March, and none in a year earlier period, it said.

Indian energy: running out of gas

Energy use in non-OECD Asia, led by China and India, is growing faster than anywhere else in the world – it will more than double between 1990 and 2035, according to a report by the US Energy Information Administration published in April.

But how will India deal with escalating demand? A separate report by Bernstein Research, a US asset management company, suggests it will struggle to do so, as price-capping measures stifle private investment in natural gas.

Democrats' deficit-cutting plan: Big Oil subsidies the first target

Senate Democrats launched an assault on tax breaks for Big Oil on Tuesday in what has become a ritual in a closely divided Congress. But this time the target isn’t just Big Oil but also big deficits.

The targeted tax breaks for the top five oil companies – Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron Corp., and Conoco Phillips – account for about $21 billion in taxpayer subsidies over 10 years, or $2 billion a year. The billions that Democrats expect the US government to recoup by zeroing out various tax breaks would go to relieving the nation’s budgetary shortfall.

French Lean Toward Ban of a Controversial Gas Extraction Technique

PARIS — French lawmakers opened debate on Tuesday on proposals to ban a method for extracting oil and gas deposits from shale because of environmental concerns, throwing up the first serious stumbling block to firms that want to use the practice.

Bangladesh asks Chevron to raise gas production

DHAKA - Bangladesh has asked US-based oil company Chevron to raise gas production in the country by 500 million cubic feet (mmcft) a day to offset acute shortages, a government adviser said.

"We have asked Chevron to increase production by at least 500 mmcft a day by the end of 2012 to ease ever growing energy demand and boost our economy," energy adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said.

UBS: Gas discoveries to boost Israel's GDP 0.2-0.4% per year

UBS says that Israel's offshore natural gas discoveries will gradually boost the country's GDP by 0.1-0.2% per year in 2011-12, rising to by 0.2-0.4% in 2013-16 and as much as 0.6-0.7% in 2017-20, when the Leviathan field begins production. The bank says that annual GDP growth will then substantially slow down.

Gazprom exports 20 pct more gas to Europe in April

Russia's energy giant Gazprom increased gas supplies to Europe in April 2011 by 20.5 percent on the same month last year, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Tuesday.

Gazprom's daily gas supplies to non-CIS countries this May are exceeding last year's level by 27.8 percent, Miller said.

Russia redrawing Europe energy map

Things couldn't have been better for Russia's energy giant Gazprom even before news came in over the weekend that curtains could be coming down on one of the keenest battles of the Caspian great game, and Moscow is on a winning streak.

Bahrain oil company fires hundreds over protests

MANAMA: Bahrain’s energy minister says that the Gulf kingdom’s oil company has fired almost 300 employees in recent weeks for taking part in anti-government protests and general strikes.

Report: Syrian troops shelling residential areas

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists and witnesses say the army is shelling residential areas in the central city of Homs as the government moves to crush a popular nationwide revolt.

Tripoli sites bombed, rebels claim Misrata gains

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — In a one-two punch against Moammar Gadhafi's forces, NATO warplanes struck a command center in the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday after pounding regime targets around the besieged port of Misrata. Rebels hoped the stepped-up attacks could help extend some of their biggest advances to date, including a major outward push from Misrata.

Gazprom Neft Still Counts on Libya

Gazprom Neft, Russia's No.5 crude producer, said it still hoped to return to Libya where its deal to buy a stake in the Elephant oil project from Italian group Eni was halted by the ongoing civil war.

The conflict in Libya has almost shut down output in what used to be Africa's third-largest producer, helping send oil prices to 2 1/2 year highs and forcing Eni and Gazprom Neft to put their deal on hold.

N.J. city owes Chevron nearly $8 million for property taxes

PERTH AMBOY, N.J. — A New Jersey city has agreed to refund Chevron nearly $8 million for overpaid property taxes from 2007 to 2010.

However, Perth Amboy doesn't have the cash in its bank accounts. The City Council is set to seek state approval to borrow the money.

Shell to pay $2.2M over underpayment of royalties

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department says Shell Oil Co. and affiliates will pay the government $2.2 million to settle allegations that the companies underpaid royalties on natural gas from federal land. The action marks the latest agreement in a lawsuit against various oil and gas companies that has resulted in $233 million in payments by the defendants.

Japan to Monitor Tepco on Financial Aid to Ensure Compensation for Victims

Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be monitored by the government as a condition for state financial aid to ensure full compensation will be paid to those affected by the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Residents allowed first visits inside nuclear zone

TOKYO (AP) — About 100 evacuees were allowed into the exclusion zone around Japan's troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Tuesday for a brief visit to gather belonging from their homes.

The excursion marked the first time the government has felt confident enough in the safety of the area to sanction even short trips there. Residents have been pushing hard for weeks for permission to check up on their homes.

Radioactive Containers Likely Left Japan Before Contamination Checks Began

Five shipping containers detained in Rotterdam after testing positive for radiation probably left Japan before a screening program started, the Asian nation’s transport ministry said.

Japan to scrap plan to boost nuke energy to 50 pct

TOKYO – Japan will scrap a plan to increase nuclear power from 30 percent to half of the nation's energy source by 2030 and will promote renewable energy as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Naoto Kan told a news conference that Japan needs to "start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and has been leaking radiation ever since.

Most nuclear plans on track outside Japan, Germany

TOKYO – Japan and Germany are limiting or phasing out reliance on nuclear power after the Fukushima accident — moves that could raise petroleum prices — but most of the rest of the world is undaunted in its pursuit of nuclear energy.

Energy-hungry developing nations such as China, India, Mexico and Iran are moving forward on plans to build more nuclear plants, even as authorities around the world intensify safety inspections of existing plants after Japan's March 11 disaster.

Staying the Course, Post-Fukushima

The “renaissance” that the American nuclear industry has been talking about for almost 20 years looks a bit slow and small at the moment, with two of the four leading reactor candidates chosen for aid by the Department of Energy apparently having fizzled.

But post-Fukushima, the industry contends that it is still going strong — although low demand for electricity and low prices for natural gas may get in the way. That was the argument advanced by Marvin S. Fertel, the chief executive of theNuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main trade association, at a convention of hundreds of nuclear executives in Washington on Tuesday.

European Electricity Trading at Record as Prices Recover After Crisis

Electricity trading in western Europe’s seven biggest markets rose to a record for a sixth year in 2010 as prices recovered and banks and utilities including Barclays Capital and E.ON AG (EOAN) bought and sold the commodity.

Venezuela implements electricity rationing

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's government says it has begun rationing electricity across most of the country because of recurring power outages.

Energy Ministry official Igor Gavidia says rationing is affecting 19 of Venezuela's 23 states. He says power will be shut off for three hours every day to help stabilize the system.

Entergy system being strained across 4 states

Power provider Entergy Corp. said Tuesday that storm damage in Arkansas, combined with high-water threats from the Mississippi River and hot weather are putting a strain on its four-state electricity system.

UK utilities defend power pricing to parliament

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK's top six utilities defended their power pricing at a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday, saying they acted no faster to raise prices than lower them.

Britain's energy regulator Ofgem had in March said a review showed the companies raised prices faster in response to rising costs than they cut them when costs fell.

Fujairah plant set to power up Northern Emirates

QIDFA // A new power and water plant in Fujairah promises to turn the emirate into the UAE's northern hub for electricity and water production, at a time when its strategic importance is growing.

Toyota, Shell Open First U.S. Hydrogen Fueling Station from Pipeline

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) announced the first-ever hydrogen fueling station in the United States being fed directly from an active industrial hydrogen pipeline on Tuesday (May 10) in the Los Angeles area, providing fuel-cell drivers a new way to power up their vehicles.

Constellation to Build Largest U.S. Solar Rooftop Project in New Jersey

Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG), which agreed to be bought by Exelon Corp., is building the largest U.S. rooftop solar-energy project, at a Toys “R” Us Inc. distribution center in New Jersey.

Chileans protest government approval of five Patagonia dams

Chileans in at least nine cities protested Monday after authorities voted to approve the first environmental impact study for a $7 billion hydroelectric project in Patagonia that could flood 14,600 acres of land.

Thousands of people took the streets in Santiago, blocking traffic in several parts of the city until police used teargas and water cannons to drive them away. In Coyhaique, where 11 of 12 members of an environment commission voted in favor of the project, demonstrators threw coins and rocks at riot police who eventually cleared a path for the officials to leave, local press reported.

New breed of Americans going hungry

Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief charity with a network of more than 200 food bank partners, says there is a growing problem with suburban poverty, "where new clients are individuals who have never needed to rely on the charitable food system."

Growing calls in China to change the one-child policy

But talking to some families in Xingtang, it became clear that it wasn’t simply the existence of family planning that was keeping the birth rate low.

“One reason to have only one child is to follow the nationwide policy,” said Wang Weigang, a 36-year-old who works in agriculture. “But the other reason is economic. It’s a big burden to bring up children.”

End times theology: an insider’s guide

As I grew older and started reading the Bible more holistically, I realized that this kind of prognostication was a house of cards. Not only that, it had disastrous consequences. After all, why care about global climate change if you believe God is about to burn it up to a cinder anyway? Why worry about peak oil if the world will end before the oil economy collapses? Why address systemic injustice - economic, racial, sexual, political, environmental - if you assume it’s God’s will for things to get worse and worse so it all can be swept away in final judgment?

Now I, like many others, have migrated to a very different understanding of the future. More and more of us are calling it a “participatory eschatology” or a “participatory view of the future.”

Urban expert optimistic for recovery

An urban studies expert says an informal think-tank of academics is ready and willing to help with Government-led recovery efforts if earthquake body Cera wants to call.

Lincoln University urban studies lecturer Dr Suzanne Vallance convened a recent Resilient Future conference at the university which featured local and international speakers focused on the rebuilding of Christchurch after the earthquakes, with more events planned for the future.

High oil prices and new international political and economic philosophy

In Jan Lundberg's interview with Oriental Morning Post - Weekly Edition, he told this reporter that petrocollapse is a global challenge and the next oil shock is just a matter of time. People need to be aware of this and start to live a simple, energy-wise and localized life before it's too late.

How 29 Long-Ignored Elements Could Make or Break the Clean-Energy Revolution

In August 2010, for instance, the libertarian magazine Reason ran the headline “Forget peak oil. What about peak lithium, peak neodymium, and peak phosphorus?” In the case of lithium, the panic has begun to subside as we’ve learned more about the element’s abundance. But will the same be true of the other 28 energy-critical elements? And what can the state of lithium supplies tell us about the rest of them?

Florida Legislature Votes to Ease Rules on Development

MIAMI — Just before the Republican-led Florida Legislature finished up its session for the year, it gave developers a parting gift: It pushed through measures that would reverse 25 years of growth management law by loosening state oversight of builders and making it harder for people to challenge development.

Nine of Out Ten Climate Denying Scientists Have Ties to Exxon Mobil Money

If you spend any time at all browsing comments on articles about climate change (and bless you if you've managed to avoid it), you've likely read the same handful of long-debunked arguments against the reality of anthropogenic global warming (or "man-made" global warming). Recently, you've also almost definitely seen links to this website—"900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm"—created by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The problem is, of the top ten contributors of articles to that list, nine are financially linked to Exxon Mobil.

Coalition will miss carbon budgets, analysts warn

The UK will miss its "carbon budget" targets to cut emissions over the next decade if it relies on existing policies, analysts warned today.

The latest analysis by Cambridge Econometrics confirmed that the UK has missed its long-standing target to cut carbon by 20% by 2010, despite a large fall in emissions in 2008-09 as a result of the recession.

Physicist Group’s Study Raises Doubts on Capturing Carbon Dioxide From Air

The report concluded it would cost at least $600 a ton to capture carbon dioxide from the air, compared with an estimated cost of about $80 a ton to capture the gas from a typical coal power plant.

The most significant hurdle is the extremely low concentrations of carbon dioxide in air, compared with the stream from a coal-fired power plant or other large emitter, said Robert H. Socolow, a Princeton physicist and a co-chairman of the report.

Quebec to Spend Billions to Develop Resources in Northern Regions

OTTAWA — Quebec province, anticipating renewed interest in its natural resources, rolled out on Monday an ambitious 25-year plan to develop its vast but largely untouched northern and Arctic regions.

The region is well endowed with mineral resources, woodlands and potential hydroelectric developments, but it lacks the roads, railways, ports, communications links and other infrastructure necessary for their exploitation.

Arctic nations eye future of world's last frontier

(Reuters) - Leaders of Arctic nations gather in Greenland this week to chart future cooperation as global warming sets off a race for oil, mineral, fishing and shipping opportunities in the world's fragile final frontier.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join foreign ministers from seven other Arctic states in Greenland's tiny capital of Nuuk -- population 15,000 -- on Thursday for an Arctic Council meeting on the next steps for a region where warming temperatures are creating huge new challenges and unlocking untapped resources.

The OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report is out this morning with the April OPEC production numbers. They have April production numbers up by 69 thousand barrels per day. However that was after they revised their March numbers down by 394 thousand barrels per day.

The big revisions were in the Saudi and Nigeria data. Saudi March production was revised downward by 206 kb/d to 9,755 kb/d. Their April production was listed at 8,885 kb/d. Nigeria March production was revised down by 121 kb/d to 1,991 kb/d. Their April production was listed at 2,095 kb/d.

The new OPEC numbers in thousands of barrels per day.

Jan 30,008
Feb 29,950
Mar 28,916
Apr 28,985

Some may be wondering about the big downward production Saudi announced they had in March. Well Platts had this to say about that: OPEC April output lower but still above target: Platts

Saudi Arabia, the largest producer, had earlier announced a production cutback of some 700,000 b/d to around 8.29 million b/d in March in response to a perceived market oversupply.

Industry sources surveyed by Platts, however, said the figure might not have been intended as an average for the month, noting that the kingdom had submitted a figure of 8.655 million b/d to the International Energy Forum's Joint Oil Data Initiative for March.

So the revision in Saudi production was in the middle of the month and was not a monthly average. Of course the numbers reported to JODI still differs from what OPEC’s “secondary sources” reported.

Ron P.

Ron, you mean 8,755 kb/d. Or SA just had its better month ever :-)

Yes, sorry I just hit the wrong key and them missed my error when I checked it. Thanks. Ron

Q: Is there a distinctive difference in using a (,) and/or a (.) in conjunction with numbers the American way?

Example1 : 8.655 and 8,655. Is the order of magnitude here the same ?

Example2 : 700,000 b/d : this number in Norwegian (all Europe?) will actually only mean 700 due to a (,) as a separator telling whatever coming thereafter are decimals. (.) are never used (in Norway at least).

Yes, there's a big difference. 8.655 and 8,655 are not the same. Commas here in the US are used just for readability. 8655 and 8,655 are the same.

Great thx ! This is as I originally had thought . But I got confused with ron's 8.655 million b/d and mehdirah's 8,755 kb/d

Those are the same convention - its m for million & k for thousand that make them look different.

...its m for million & k for thousand that make them look different.

Downpuppy, thank you for your comment.

To reduce confusion, I prefer to write out "it is" instead of using "it's". In your comment, you actually wrote "its". Did you mean its or "it's" (as in "it is")? Does that make sense?

Just to make things more confusing, in the American oil industry it is traditional to use "M" for thousand and "MM" for million. This conflicts with the metric standard of "k" for thousand and "M" for million.

So, when you see "Mcf" it means "thousand cubic feet" and when you see "MMcf" it means "million cubic feet".

It is another good reason for converting to metric.

Can someone take the idiot who came up with M=thousand out around the back of the bike sheds and beat some sense into him?

It's enough to give the french a good name.

French for thousand is mille, so that's probably where M for thousand (and million, for a thousand thousands) came from.

Just in case you wanted to let the French off the hook for that one, I think it's one of the few things around that we really can blame them for :)

Surely it's based on the Latin mille (which of course the French have absorbed)?

In Europe, a comma (,) is sometimes used for the decimal point. In the UK it is used to separate every third digit, as in


English-speaking countries usually use the period (.) as the decimal point in numbers and the comma (,) as a numeric separator, whereas countries in continental Europe usually do the reverse.

The old COBOL programming language has a "DECIMAL-POINT IS COMMA" clause to reverse the function of the comma and the period in the data it processes. For customers in continental Europe, programmers would just insert a line saying "DECIMAL-POINT IS COMMA" in the source code, and recompile the program for their continental clients.

That's a lot more complicating than just copying and pasting:


Every time you are configuring a program for continental Europe.

COBOL was verbose, but it wasn't complicated.

So technology has progressed. Java is both verbose and complicated.

Yes the Americans use a comma (,) as a thousands separator while Europeans use a period (.) We use a period only to separate whole numbers from fractions as it 1.5 meaning one and one half.

But wait! If you guys use a period, or point, for a thousands separator what do you use to mark the difference between whole numbers and fractions?

Ron P.

I would guess commas are their decimal points.

π = 3,14159... ?

True, π Norway style ! Thanks all , my world is still the same :-)

Exactly. It's just the opposite way round.

And isn't the American versus britsh meanings of million and billion different? On the American side of the pond million=10^6 and billion 10^9. IIRC they are a thousand times larger in England.

Hi EoS

In the British Isles at least, "million" means 1*10^6 and "billion" used to mean 1*10^12 (million million) but now means 1*10^9 due to some perverse factor coming from a foreign country somewhere, emasculating it to the tune of 1*10^3. -:)))))


Changing billion to 10^6 is probably associated with conversion to SI system.


What seems odd to me is the use of "h" and "k" for hecto and kilo, instead of "H" and "K".

But the accountants should really stop using "m" for thousand and "mm" for million.

Billion [ie was 10^12] and trillion [10^18] here in the UK, although we have basically dropped our version as pointless and gone smaller. I take it we all agree that 'million' will soon be the smallest coins worth minting?

And there is

milion = 10^6
miliard = 10^9
bilion = 10^12
biliard = 10^15
trylion = 10^18
tryliard = 10^21

in Polish.

Yes the Americans use a comma (,) as a thousands separator while Europeans use a period (.) We use a period only to separate whole numbers from fractions as it 1.5 meaning one and one half.

Ron P. (Darwinian), thank you for the insights. Do you know is there an International effort to standardize the use of the comma and the period? Does use of the "American method" predominate over the use of the "European method"?

Also, I try to write out "it is" rather than "it's" to help avoid confusion with the word "its", which is possessive. Does that make sense?

Kindhearted, I think if there is ever a world standard it would have to be the comma for the thousands separator and the decimal point or period for fractions. After all a point is a point.

In computers we talk about "floating point software", or "floating point algorithms". Can you imagine talking about "floating comma algorithms"? ;-)

I don't have a problem with "it's" verses "its" although I have seen some people use the word "its" erroneously, leaving out the apostrophe when it should be included.

Okay, all that being said I am quite disappointed with this thread. I wrote a post about Saudi oil production in March and April and the only replies concerned the use of the decimal point verses the comma. It seems no one on this list is really concerned with oil production or peak oil anymore.

Ron P.

I think it's trauma and fatigue, Ron.

Talking about 'Numeric Marking Conventions' is possibly the intellectual equivalent to Basket-weaving for this crowd, and after the last two years that I've had, I frankly relish the chance to let my mind 'settle back into the Bean-bag chair at every convenience and just gaze at a Lava-lamp'.. If that comparison isn't too obscure..

There are a lot of tired brains here.. smart, but weary. I know the Ed's like to keep the signal level higher, but sometimes you want to just 'go to the lounge where your smart friends hang out, and, you know, banter.. BS a bit.'

Sorry, Eds.

Yeah, Bob, it seems like a lot of mini-Campfires are being lit lately. It's been a wild couple of years...

...and sorry, Ron. I read and appreciate your posts; just wasn't much room to jump in this time. Frustrating, huh? I didn't expect my self-indulgent post about my offspring and Jesus to take off the way it did,,, wanted to discuss the futility of the scramble to exploit artic resources, and why we allow ourselves to keep this insanity going. Nate's post would have been a better place to bring up this sort of thing.

Commas and decimals ......jeez.

but sometimes you want to just 'go to the lounge where your smart friends hang out, and, you know, banter.. BS a bit.'

Agreed absolutely - I have commented before that I view drumbeat as the equivalent of the evening reception at a technical conference - a time for some more relaxed discussions after focussing on the technical stuff. The fact that numerous people have said (myself included) that they come here as much or more for the commenters and discussion than the (drumbeat) stories is testament to that

And there is nothing wrong with that, except that the eds don't want too much of that. They could open a new forum for that purpose, and keep drumbeat on topic, but then someone has to spend the time to moderate the general forum, and who wants to take the time to moderate something that is mostly "noise". You don;t need a moderator at the pub/club/reception but online stuff is different, and unmoderated tends to get out of control.

It's part and parcel of having a "community" of contributors/commenters, IMO, and I think we have a great community here, but the mileage varies.
That's bloggin'!

It seems no one on this list is really concerned with oil production or peak oil anymore.

It seems that way to me, too. Peak oil's day may be past, in more ways than one.

In a slightly ironic way, it may be a consequence of Peak Oil gathering more attention in the mainstream media recently.

Google Trends suggests otherwise.

I think it's partly that peak oil really does seem to be in the rear view mirror. Or at least, trying to predict when it will happen has lost its urgency, since demand seems to be more important than supply these days.

And it's partly that we've seen oil at $150, and it wasn't the end of the world. (If you read the early posts at this site...a lot of us really thought $100 oil would mean mass dieoff, or at least that we'd be living in caves and scrounging for mushrooms.) Now, it's become clear to many of us that we're getting the catabolic collapse version of the apocalypse, and it's likely to be even slower than Greer expected. Or that it will be climate change or economic collapse, not peak oil, that's the more urgent crisis.

Yes, I'd agree that a Mad Max collapse doesn't appear to be on the horizon by any means. It might be an unpleasant slog for many for the next few years. Still, eventually people should become happier once things level out - however long that takes.

Although things could again change rapidly if fusion does burst onto the market..

Climate change does worry me greatly, I will admit.

Edit: One odd thing about that analytics - why are such a huge number of hits from NZ? Seems bizarrely out of proportion, no?

Except for the places in the world where it is disastrous. I have always said that the world is a bigger place than anyone can properly keep in their head all at once. So the optimists are right, but so are the doomsayers, and all at the same time depending on where in the world you are.

I think it's that folks are getting numb to the effects, or fatigued. After the year we've had: Macondo; Fukushima; ongoing unrest in MENA; etc., to suggest that Peak Oil stuff isn't as relevant as ever is more a sign of coping rather than a reflection of reality; at once, discounting the present and future. Resilience has it's limits.

I think you'd have a different view if you'd been here longer. This year has not been that unusual. Previous years have been just as momentous. Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Gustav, etc. Thunder Horse. Gasoline shortages in the southeast. Oil spiking to $50, $60, $70, $150, then dropping below $40. Riots over food, fuel, and fertilizer in Bangladesh, Panama, Mexico, etc. Strikes and protests over high fuel prices in Europe.

I suppose you think I'm a 'come lately' to these issues, though I began my (very real, non-virtual) response to them over 20 years ago, likely well before most of your 'seasoned' posters. Yeah, welcome to the club.

The last couple of years have seen an escalation of energy related crisis: The worst and most expensive oil spill to date; likely the worst nuclear incident to date (in the world's 3rd largest economy); unprecedented revolution/unrest in virtually all countries of the world's core oil-producing region.

Food shortages getting worse/historically high prices.

Unpayable global debt bubble, income disparities increasing, continuing/increasing volatility and imbalance in markets.

Increasing instability in nuclear Pakistan; the US doomed to leave the region (again), no real progress on the causes of terrorism. (Worse? Yet another generation who despises the West, more determined than ever to keep their remaining resources for themselves while punishing the infidel).

Population still rising.

Virtually all non-renewable resources reaching critical depletion now or within a couple of decades, few substitutes or replacements in sight.

OECD countries realizing energy shortages (i.e. UK).

Climate change, requiring ever more energy to mitigate/adapt.

Japan facing extreme crises.

Water shortages, increasing drought worldwide, ongoing environmental degradation overall.

Infrastructure failing, getting worse.

Political stalemates/polarization = no real progress on these issues, only increasing costs.

While Peak Oil may not be a direct cause of these things, it will certainly have a strong negative effect. But... humans are resourceful and these things have a way of sorting themselves out, so there's nothing here to be alarmed about. Please move along and get on with your lives.

Seems like good advice...

There comes a point when the sand pile gives, the hillside slides away, the levee breaks. I think that's going to come in the form of food before all else. Food as affected directly by every aspect of this convergence of long-term challenges.

Don't settle in for a long ride just yet.

I'd like to draw attention to Jeff Rubin's talk at the recent ASPO 9 conference here:
Jeff Rubin's talk at ASPO 9

He essentially says that beside all other things usually talked about, part of the reason that high oil prices are so lethal to the economy is inflation. He mentions China and India specifically.
India's got inflation at about 8 % and China's is over 5, reaching for 6 %, despite four interest rate hikes from the Chinese central bank since October.

He really delves into it interestingly, I think, so I'd recommend listening/watching his talk.
I think there are things he covers which hasn't been often discussed in the detail he does(I'm just skimming and skipping the things he said).

Now the BoE is out saying the same thing:
Bank of England hints at rate rise

The BoE also warns Britons that 'massive rises' in energy costs lures around the corner:

Britons face massive rises in their gas and electricity bills, the Bank of England warned as it laid out its latest forecasts for inflation.


A lot of things happening in Greece now.
A (second) bailout is probably mere months, if not weeks, away.

Greee explodes

Of course nothing much new, aside from the speed at which things are now developing.
According to Euro protocol, you first keep mum at all times about anything and everything, try to ridicule any notion of instability, and furiously deny any move to bail out anyone out.
And then, very shortly thereafter, you do it.

The US inflation rate is very low at 2.68% annualized for March 2011. Food and energy is not 'inflation' because it is not a reflection of monetary erosion but of factors outside of the control of the Fed. Food prices are dependent on exports, weather and the commodity markets. Oil prices are tied to world oil prices, global demand and the commodity markets.
If you want the government to control those the government either has to subsidies the prices directly or interfere in market operations.


Given the massive paper printing of QE2 you might expect really high rates of inflation, but that hasn't happened.

Instead you are getting a fairly steady meme from the financial class of 'inevitable' interest rate increases. The global rich clearly wish to see more attractive bonds to park their ill-gotten gains in at the expense of the struggling middle class.

In order to have inflation you need a higher growth in money supply than in the economy (more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services) and/but you also need those excess reserves to be put to work. Right now banks take their excess reserves and lend them to the fed at 0.25% so these reserves are not used to create credit which then would be used to buy goods and services.
Also, one can argue that stated inflation is actually too high because housing is such a huge deflator.


Or, you can argue as John Williams does over at shadowstats.com that the government data seriously UNDERSTATES the true rate of inflation.

In my opinion, Williams has a very strong line of reasoning plus good, solid numbers.

I think that inflation is something one can argue about until you’re blue in the face, and there are probably many, sometimes conflicting viewpoints and calculations.
It can be quite personal as we all have different asset/liability mixes and consumptions patterns and therefore are individually subjected to different levels of inflation.


A lot depneds upon what you want inflation to reflect. John wants it to reflect the total costs to consumers. The Fed wants it to measure pass-through pressures on wages and prices. We had serious inflation in the seventies, because everyone wanted to stay even with "inflation", which included the price of the oil external shock. But the only way for the economy to respond to a step function increase in external costs, is for the average person to get poorer. With everyone trying to get a raise that shieded them from the haircut, the adjustment couldn't happen. Also we still have stuff like social security which has inflation triggered inflators, so changing the metric for inflation has real impacts on budgets.

If the rise in real estate in 2001-2006 was not considered inflation, it is clear that a fall in that asset class is not deflation either. We can not move the goal posts or have collective amnesia to avoid responsible actions.

Food and energy is not 'inflation' because it is not a reflection of monetary erosion but of factors outside of the control of the Fed.

That's poppy-cock. Monetary erosion as a term for inflation is just that, and how it happens no one cares because it means their dollars don't go as far. Your letting the govt. define what is inflation based on the idea of whether they have control of prices or not? What products that are not fuel and food are controlled by the govt.?

If I've got a thousand bucks and because food and fuel go up in price my k doesn't go as far, I couldn't care less what someone defines something as, my money didn't go as far. That's inflation or monetary erosion.

The Fed is responsible for the money supply, not controlling oil and food prices.
It seems like you want the Fed to insure your gas and food prices are low.
That sounds rather socialistic to me.
Of course, we could subsidize food and fuel prices like they do in India and China.
Maybe the Fed could write you and me a check to ease our pain?

"...we could subsidize food and fuel prices like they do in India and China."

We do, in a number of ways in the US. And the Fed can write me a check ... I would like that ;-)


Frustrated Socialist. I didn't even get tax credits for my solar panels. Send the check, Ben!

I didn't even get tax credits for my solar panels.

Did the 30% credit expire? Originally it was supposed to run for 2009 and 2010, but I thought maybe it was extended? Or does it only apply if you pay more taxes then the size of the credit?

I'm what you might call an early adopter. There weren't any credits when I built my system (I started in 1996), and I wasn't sure there would be. Anyway, somebody has to believe in this stuff enough to prove it works, and the idea of glass panels that just sit in the sun for years and make electricity always excited me. It's been suggested that I could fudge some dates and refile for a year when credits applied, but I won't go there. Besides, it's always fun when neocons around here suggest that I used their tax dollars to fund my pipe dream. Some dig themselves a pretty deep hole before I explain that not one cent of their precious money went into my system.

BTW, most credits apply regardless of your tax liability as long as you're in good standing with the IRS and State. Just cash the check :-)

Gotta go plant pole beans on the south side of the house: edible shade.

It seems like you want the Fed to insure your gas and food prices are low.

How did you ever get that from my post?! It's really best not to ever try to interpret what someone is writing. Rather take what is written only.

Socialistic - [edit] I didn't say anything about the govt. controlling fuel and food prices or that expectation. Read the previous post, then mine, don't interpret and try to understand. It's really not that hard.

If you are trying to make a point, I for one do not know what it is.

A record number of Americans are now on food stamps - handed to them by the federal government. The federal government raises revenue by either taxation or selling debt. Our particular federal government has low rates of taxation, and instead is selling a ton of debt.

The Fed is now one of the largest buyers of debt - Treasuries - issued by our federal government.

So yes - ultimately, the Fed is writing us checks - lots and lots of checks, so we can all go to the supermarket and get our Pepsi and Cheetos.

Now, I don't want to get into a tit for tat on whether this is "socialism" or not, or whether the Fed is merely controlling money supply. That's meaningless to me, as meaningless as the chatter on the cable news. The Fed is buying U.S. Treasuries - that is actually what is happening.

The Fed calls this "quantitative easing" so as to keep people in the dark. They will deny, as long as they have to, that they are financing deficit.

Let's make it simple. Again: the Fed is buying the debt of the government. There, was that hard?

Try to keep up. This thread was about people complaining that the Fed wasn't controlling food and gas price 'inflation'.
My point is that the Fed is responsible for 'monetary erosion' which Bernanke is claiming is not occuring and the March inflation rate was 2.68% which bears this out.
I pointed out that food and energy prices are controlled by international markets and the weather, etc. beyond Fed control
so if you want the Fed to 'take action' you can only mean that Uncle Ben should send you a check to ease your pain.

Yes, I agree that sending a check to you or me is beyond the duties of the Fed.
Now do you agree with me that it is wrong to blame Uncle Ben for fuel and energy 'inflation' which he can't do anything about?
You don't want the Congress to give out Food Stamps, which it has the power to do so why are you mad at Ben?
The Fed can't legally control Congress and can't make them more responsible by not buying debt or to do whatever things you want them to.

Actually given low inflation this is an excellent time for the government to take on more debt, though I agree taking on debt to pay for tax cuts is stupid.
The cure there is to increase taxes so the Congress can afford to pay for what it wants.

Now do you agree with me that it is wrong to blame Uncle Ben for fuel and energy 'inflation' which he can't do anything about?

Well, maybe there's something they could be doing? GS is not the Fed, but come on, we can all see the flow of funds from one to the other, this is all connected.

Or the Congress could choose to want less, LOL.

In the real world, the Fed could do plenty about rising prices of oil and wheat and whatever commodity you choose to look at; the Federal Reserve System could quit QE2 and tighten up the money supply. If you get the supply of money really tight (the way it was back in the early eighties) you can stop inflation--or if you wanted to, you could induce deflation pretty easily. To accomplish this, all the Fed would have to do would be to sell mass quantities of government securities. Somebody writes a check to the Fed to buy a security (actually, one would go through a dealer), and the Fed just extinguishes the money. Money can be created by the Fed and the banking system and the borrowing public, but it can easily be destroyed with tight money and high interest rates.

The Fed wants inflation of about two percent per year. So far this year they seem to be right on target.

Ben's helicopters can scoop up money just as easy as they can drop it in the streets. When the time comes (next year?) the Fed will tighten money; it has done this before and will do it again to keep inflation from getting out of hand.

What about cost-push inflation from rising oil and commodity prices? The Fed can crush those cost increases, but at the cost of triggering a severe recession or possibly a depression. The Fed since about 1940 made almost all its mistakes on the side of creating too much money rather than too little money. That is why the dollar now is worth what four or five cents was worth in 1940.

You are living in a fantasy world. I cannot believe you are an economist and yet you know very little about what is happening and why it is happening.

First of all, the real inflation is a lot higher than 2%. Secondly the Fed will not tighten because it will cause the financial system to collapse. The government and the large banks are insolvent. The only choice for the Fed is Quantitative Easing (money printing) to infinity to postpone the day of reckoning. Everything now depends on the government running massive deficits and the Fed printing money to buy treasury bonds to keep the interest rates artificially low. The consumer and the government is now saturated with debt and cannot tolerate higher interest rates.

I expect the USD and our financial system to collapse in the 2015/2016 time frame. After that hopefully the USD will be linked to gold and some basket of currencies. Either buy hard assets or perish in the fire of hyperinflation caused by loss of confidence in the currency.

The Fed calls this "quantitative easing" so as to keep people in the dark. They will deny, as long as they have to, that they are financing deficit.

Where does this scheme break? Why not do this until the computers choke?

I'm serious, please enlighten me.

Printing more money will put more total currency into the system. So each individual dollar would be worth slightly less. This devaluation of the dollar upsets the foreign investors as you've just devalued their investment. Upset them too much and they take their money elsewhere as your currency value goes south very quickly. Try importing all that lovely oil you use when your currency value is spiralling down out of control.

It's all a question of trust. If country A doesn't trust country B to pay their bills, then country A won't lend B any money, or buy anything from them. Just look at Greece. The interest they are now expected to pay for their next bailout would make a loan shark blush.

I don't have a magic eight ball - nobody does!

Still, we can make educated guesses.

Historically, this type of thing tends to result in either major currency dislocations (hyperinflation) or major political dislocations and/or war.

My best guess is another civil war in the U.S. That's my best guess, but I could be very, very wrong.

The reason I think this outcome is possible is this: everybody knows that states and municipalities are in horrible shape. Part of the reason is that all of the productivity of the system is being drained by the Fed and the federal government and distributed to welfare bankers and various other welfare groups (GM, the oil and ethanol industries, ghetto queens, etc.)

Now, at what point does a state actually say, enough is enough, and we are withdrawing from the Union or issuing our own currency? Such an action couldn't be undertaken peacefully - secession is against federal law.

This is true in spite of the fact that America is now simply too large and too complex of an entity to stay together on the downslope of Hubbert's curve.

There is enough genuine productive wealth in the Middle East and Asia that keeps the hypercomplex U.S. welfare and military state Ponzi going for now, and I suspect this will be true for awhile.

So really, all we can do is just guess at this point what the ultimate outcome will be.

"So really, all we can do is just guess at this point what the ultimate outcome will be."

Or read Atlas Shrugged for an eerily similar blow-by=blow.

Just be aware of your part, as most of the folks I hear singing the praises of Rand look an awful lot like her bad guys to me.

Thats because the micro viewpoint and the macro viewpoint see things differently. Your budget is affected by food/fuel. But if you don't have the power to demand a raise, your pain can't cause further inflationary pressure for the rest of the economy. Since we are net importers of oil, higher oil prices mean that collectively we all are a bit (or more than a bit poorer), and something has to give to allow that to happen. Either the effective value of money goes down, or everyone (on average) gets less money.

The global rich clearly wish to see more attractive bonds to park their ill-gotten gains in at the expense of the struggling middle class.

Also they want to keep unemployment high so labour pricing pressure in nonexistent. The cheaper they can hire labour the greater the profits that flow up the income distribution.

Above: Arctic nations eye future of world's last frontier

My Daughter asked me this weekend why I remain such a Doomer. She seems much happier since her "turn to Jesus" is complete, and she (rightfully) pointed out that I have a choice to "let go and let God"....

I find it ironic that climate change is (seemingly) making access to these previously 'unaccessable' resources easier, and that the scramble is on to divvy up this "last frontier" so folks can burn, process, buy, sell, use up, and eventually discard what's left of our planetary endowment. It's almost as if God is dangling one last carrot, at the edge of the cliff.

I suggested to my Daughter that folks like her will always need folks like me more than folks like me need folks like her. She used to be concerned about these things. While I'm preparing to live on much less, she is preparing her soul. Honest doomerism is tough love.

Ashes to ashes....

The turn toward religion, metaphysics and conspiracy is a common trait of collapsing cultures and empires.
People need a story to make sense out of a freighting and groundless world.

"People need a story" ... with a happy ending ;-/

I am currently reading Margaret Atwood's 'The Year of the Flood'.

I think she has researched limits to growth carefully.

The really sorry part is that "turning to Jesus" lifts all responsibility to try to do anything oneself, leaving all responsibility on some ethereal unit of metaphysical hope to do anything about problems. The individual is happier, sure, but the group is fried.

Hence the western concept of a "personal God" I suppose.

I haven't exactly "turned to Jesus" but at the same time, I reject any and all notions that I'm responsible for society.

If somebody wants to turn religious, more power to them. It's as good a response to collapse as any.

"It's as good a response to collapse as any."

Yeah, OS. That's the 'tough love' part; watching those who are were very aware of our situation take a totally different path ,,, and letting them go.

Whether you believe in a religion or not, the belief that the behavior of 1 person out of 7,000,000,000 is likely to affect the global outcome in any significant way is a delusion.

Oh? I'm not so sure...

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may thinks it's a movement.
Arlo Guthrie

I said "likely". I might hit the lottery some day as well.

While every cultural change begins with an individual or a small group, the chance of any one individual or small group causing a cultural change is really very small.

OBL and his small group caused a something of a cultural change, and cost the US between 2.5 and 3.5 trillion dollars (still rising), according to some estimates; a significant return on investment from their point of view. I expect he was ready to die.

While I certainly abhor his methods, much depends on your goals, and how you approach the problem.

...and Arlo boosted quite the anti-war movement with his (not so) little song.

Unless that person has a huge impact... like the fruit stand got in Tunisia.

Butterfly's wings.

But the odds of any given individual being that person are very small. It takes the right sized hole in history and a person that is a close enough fit to show up at the right place and time.

Sometimes the right person is available, but they have a wedding to attend across town on the day...

I've felt for a long time now that doom brings out the best and worst in us. It reveals all our human frailties, and challenges us to either overcome them, or surrender to them. It is, basically, a tribulation, and I mean that without all the supernatural trappings. It forces people out of their comfort zone, and to take a side and grasp a coping mechanism. From the initial period of complacency and faith in the permanence of BAU, people will go off in all different directions, but no matter what they do, it will be a deliberate decision on their part, even if it's nothing but firmly sticking their head in the sand.

My main error in becoming a doomer was assuming that taking the red pill would bring people into some common unity on our values and our response. We'd all become ecologically-aware permaculturalists. So I thought awareness-raising was all we needed to do. That's just not true. All that the growing realization of a future of decline (which even sheeple believe--albeit only the dollar-crash quotient) accomplishes is open the door to the deep ideological divisions that BAU had been masking over. Once people feel that the best way forward requires that everyone else get in line and step in time, it's a recipe for a brutal war of ideas. The whole Al Bartlett right-hand list thing--the growing sense that we've dug such a deep hole that only everyone doing X, Y, or Z has any chance of bailing us out. That's why politics shift to the poles and moderates like Obama get eaten alive by both sides who want to tug the country towards one extreme or the other. So that's what we're seeing right now, which is the overtaking of politics and political theater into our lives, where you can't escape the cacophany of opinion that overflows everything down to Youtube comments underneath music videos.

It was the right-wing that coined the phrase "culture wars" and that's really what's going on right now. The old paradigm fails and there is a pitched battle to replace it with something else, whether it's reactionary doubling-down on Morning in America of the Palinistas or the (obviously, much more limited) Jensenite Anti-civs who talk about blowing up dams and cell-phone towers.

But we're definitely in a period where we are desperately looking for answers and grasping at straws, even if it takes the form of a sort of pass-time of trolling Youtube comments with Obama-bashing while we're otherwise drugged out on American Idol or Glenn Beck.

This has been a hectic morning and I still have to pack in some new gravel with my truck and then burn brush: I've been a doomer and prepper for a long time. WharfRat and I had our usual lunch yesterday and our considered opinion is that people are going to be blindsided when it all come down in the near future.

I gave up trying to alert people a long time ago. Neither facts nor appealing to their emotions is worth the effort. The actions I take are designed to buy time as society tries to cope with a new reality. I do have the advantage of living in the boondocks so I have many more options then others.

Yup, good luck. Off to work.


Hi Todd et al:

Report from the high desert north of Reno. Yesterday we put the 4 yr 6 mil UV protected plastic on the Hoop House (14' X 42'). This morning with both end vents open, high overcast, ~50F outside, the inside temp was approaching 90F. Now at 11:20AM it is over 95F which is devastating to most plants. I will have to open the sides and use 50% shade cloth just to grow much of anything there this summer. Of course, the hoop house is mostly for late fall and early spring vegetables. The only trouble I have found so far is being 78 and my energy level is not what it used to be. Oh well, No one ever said growing old was a piece of cake. Yeah, I'm a doomer too. I don't try to explain anything, just show what can be done. A couple are taking the hint.

Hi Lynford,

Well, two piles of brush burned and the charcoal raked out for my terra preta beds. Talk about "weather", we're ~200 miles north of San Francisco in the Coast Range mountains. Forecast? Possible snow above 3,500 feet this weekend. I'm at ~3,100 feet. Swell.

Back to work.


1:10PM Temp outside 70F and inside hoop house 115F, Whoopee, time for hotsy bath. I think these things could sell for sauna. :-)

We will be getting high wind soon and test the covering on the Hoop house.

Hi Lynford,

You know, you're 78 and I'm 72. I thought others might like to hear about an old fart's day. Here's mine:

Slept in until after 6AM - usually get up around 5:30.

Looked at the Internet and sent my wife some articles about "health" from Eurekalert.

Chased the deer out of the garden/orchard. Ba$tards. I'll fix the fence later. Lazy damn deer since there is lots of browse available. They didn't have to go through the fence. I'll whack them if they don't shape up.

After my wife left at 8 (She had a dental appointment in the afternoon and lots of errands before it.) I did the dishes and started my laundry. Yes, we each do our own laundry. This started a long time ago when she was doing agricultural surveys outside the area and had to stay over (although it may have begun when she was a fire lookout and worked 7 days on and 8 off - that's the trouble with being married so long). It didn't seem fair for her to be earning money and then come home to my dirty clothes.

Put out cracked corn for the wild turkeys.

Pumped the water storage tank for our rental down the hill.

Went down and lit-up a pile brush on our place and the neighbor's.

Shot at a couple of ground squirrels. Hit one, missed the other. Unlike people in more settled areas, I ride with a shotgun or rifle in my truck. There's always something that needs to be whacked.

Packed the gravel with my truck that came this morning. It's best to do it right away before the "crusher fines" dry.

Raked out charcoal from the fires. Only got 7 gallons. Put them on a bed and tilled them in. I'm big on terra preta.

Watered the strawberries under cover.

Loaded a "T" post in my truck to reinforce the fence where the deer got in along with some wire to hold it in place once I pound it in.

Well, that's it but it's only 3:15PM.

Tomorrow if it's not bad I need to get back to "skidding" out some large trees. They were about 60' and came down in a winter storm. I skidded out the small one which was only about a foot at the butt and bucked it up. The others are 1 1/2 - 2 feet at the butt and will be a pain to move. We only have wood heat but this year's firewood is done. This is for next year.

Off to fix the fence.

Ah, the joy of the country.


Ah, the retired life of liesure.

Thanks for the view of life where it really happens. Take care.

Arghhhh! Spent the cool evening mowing around the big garden and pond... until the main center lift pin on the bush hog broke. Another 20 bucks. Ah...the joys of the country! Got to get goats, save fuel.

I am not as ambitious as you. Started at 6:30 with a little computer time, walked a mile with friends and our dogs. I am building three hoop house kits, one for a friend and two to sell. I will have them done in the next day or two. I mounted the chop saw on my solar powered golf cart and that makes easy work of building the kits. The chop saw is the same height as the dump bed sides to give the 2X4s more support. Wrapped up with a little gardening (weeding) and another walk with the dog. Hot tea on the patio to finish off the day. Oh yes, whacked a squirrel digging up Jerusalem Artichokes in the garden. Squirrels here are not too good to eat; too skinney. All up easy day.

I am an old man too (77). My day started at 5:30. After coffee and a quick check of commodity prices, I moved the cows to a new block of pasture. I move them every three or four days. This morning I had a problem because a five day old calf did not want to leave the barn with its mother and the barn is cut off from the pasture that I moved them to.

I then roto tilled a 100’ x 150’ area in my garden and watered about $1500 worth of plants that I grow for the annual Grange Spring Festival/Plant Sale that is scheduled for Saturday. I donate all the income to the Grange. For the last four years, my plant sale has been the largest source of income for the Grange. The Grange is a fantastic organization for promoting sustainable lifestyle practices.

I then picked three bags of spinach to freeze after brunch. I got ten two person servings. I get that much every few weeks but it will soon bolt because it is sensitive to the length of the day. I will plant again in August and it will produce throughout the winter and spring. I plant it under a 14’ x 50’ 6 mil plastic tunnel.

This afternoon, I used waste hay bale twine to trellis 150’ of Alderman peas. I grow a large garden because I supply my daughter’s family of six that lives next door.

This evening I had a Grange Executive Committee meeting followed by a meeting of the Boistfort Valley Emergency Support Group. All are Peak Oil aware and very active in preparing for near term economic and social collapse. Today, twelve of our group obtained our Ham Radio Call Letters. We are setting up a communication center at the Grange. Ham Radio will be just one capability of the facility.

Jay Hanson had is right when he wrote this 13 years ago:

Well-intended activists from both the Left and Right -- armed with facts and ideologies -- will form political movements, select the best liars for leaders, and take to the streets demanding that government take us back to "the good old days". The worse our problems become, the more they will act instead of think. The less they think, the worse our problems will become. Social order will disintegrate, and Roadside Warriors will go mad, killing, raping, torturing, and burning...

Read the rest here: http://www.jayhanson.us/page181.htm

For the US, do you think anarchy would be more likely than a big, invasive and controlling government?

For many countries, anarchy is probably a more likely outcome.. In fact, it seems to me it's already happening.

But most countries with a well-developed government would probably find ways to maintain order, even if an iron hand is needed, don't you think?

Perrin, you're skipping the actual political reality, increasing corporatization of power, increasing wealth in the hands of a small group, which then directly translates to increasing political power of that small group. Since this what's actually happening in the US, I see no need for the two false poles you offer, anarchy or big government.

There is currently no left, or even left of center, party, in the US any longer, at least none that can win elections on a national level, and the one actually left Senator, Bernie Sanders, is basically alone out there.

Read: What's the matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank, for a very clear and well written analysis of this process. One which, by the way, he absolutely correctly predicted in 2004, when the book was published, would get worse. As it has. Much worse, already, here, today.

The gist? As wealth and power become concentrated, the two parties will bend to its needs in increasingly more extreme ways. Each bend removes a few individual freedoms, a few social programs, a little bit of the social contract that was forged during the Great Depression to avoid social breakdown, and to control the ability of concentrated wealth to aggressively pursue its own agenda, which is always inherently self-destructive, at any cost or price. One very noticeable outcome of this, by the way, is very well reflected in your posting, removing the economic sphere from political action (but not talk, of course, as we see with the failure to implement real Financial reforms post 2008, even though the people were overwhelmingly in favor of that. The Financial groups? not so much), unless it involves further transfer of public wealth to the corporate/business sphere, aka, 'free market' economics, or as I prefer to call it since it's historically more accurate: neo-feudalism.

So just look around you, you can see where America is headed by looking at the road we are on today, here, and now. No left, extremist right catering to an ignorant base that cares only that you mouth the right words while you stab them in the back economically. What's not to love? This week's entre, another attempt to dismantle a key social program, medicare. That's so private medical corporations can grab more of that slice. Welcome to the second world, we are now here.

First, I'll immediately agree they're false poles.. but for the sake of argumentation it's often convenient to simplify. I'll also agree with most of your description of the political situation. But why and how would this rather lead to anarchy (like Jay Hanson argues), instead of an increasingly influential government?

I'll add another question: What would you rather prefer if you had to make the choice? Hanson's war of all against all, or Big Brother?

I disagree with your summary. Increasing corporization of the political sphere makes the government be exactly what private interests want it to be. This can hardly be termed either big government or anarchy, it's something I would consider far more similar to feudalism. Consider each corporate entity as a kingdom, except operating using capital instead of land. This isn't anarchy, it's feudalism. The power they can grab, the public wealth they can siphon to themselves, is what they will get and hold, with no larger target or aim in that process.

When someone makes two false poles, neither of which is likely or even historically demonstrable, I grow suspect. This is a common habit, I've noticed, in US educated minds, no idea where it comes from, or why it exists.

So I won't pick from one of two false binary opposites, thanks. I will happily pick from reality, by viewing current reality. What does business and the ultra wealthy want? Less government, more siphoning of public funds to them, given since greed knows no bounds or limits. That's what we have now, here, in the present, so I expect these tendencies to continue until there is a popular kickback, as there was in the Great Depression. I do not know the form that kickback will take yet, it's not going to be around organized labor since that has been gutted in this country, and the jobs have been outsourced largely anyway.

It looks like you aren't paying much attention here to what the right talks about, small government, privatization, etc, funneling our money to the wealthy as much as possible, in any way possible. The 'big government' bogey man isn't a real pole, neither is anarchy, that's just stuff doomers tell each other to justify to themselves their dreams and actions of trying to plan for the unplannable in my opinion. But each to their own, the winners will be those who form working strong communities, as the old story of the bundle of twigs being unbreakable tried to teach, apparently without much success among some.

As I noted, your posting, now postings, demonstrate the successful removal of economics and business from the political discourse, that removal makes any serious discussion somewhat absurd, especially given the US slogan of 'the business of America is business'. So any position that ignores business, economics, wealth distribution and allocation, has no real meaning to me, it's just talk, aimed at allowing even more wealth concentration to take place. So find some choices that involve reality and I'll pick one, if it makes sense.

"Consider each corporate entity as a kingdom, except operating using capital instead of land. This isn't anarchy, it's feudalism."

Reminds me of something I was reading on TheAutomaticEarth about Japan, they have a word for corporate salarymen; "shachiku". Seemingly it means corporate livestock. I think it should enter the English vocabulary.

There was an article in Esquire about 30 years ago that said corporations would become like walled cities and people would be loyal to their corporation. About 15 years ago Lou Gerstner (then CEO of IBM) gave a speech saying much the same.

Today in China companies like SMIC provide housing, medical and private schools for employees and their family. The school offers classes in both Chinese and English (not language classes but all classes).

James Kunstler goes on about walkable communities maybe this is how they will come about as company towns (walled cities).

30 years ago I was 5 years old. My generation has no loyalty whatsoever for any corporation, because we know no employer has loyalty for us. A job is a gig in our world.

"The 'big government' bogey man isn't a real pole, neither is anarchy, that's just stuff doomers tell each other to justify to themselves their dreams and actions of trying to plan for the unplannable in my opinion. But each to their own, the winners will be those who form working strong communities, ..."

Yet you fail to acknownledge the outlier, those who realize the futility of the plan, pay little allegiance to the "boogey man", nor the "strong communities" which are ultimately beholden to the same.

Perhaps these are the true winners, those who hold the center, refusing polarization and bias. "..business, economics, wealth distribution and allocation", have no real meaning to them. History records their value and marks their passing (though this also wasn't their concern).

Ghung, the true winners who discover how to hold the center, those are not a big crowd at any moment in history. Besides, part of that game is finding out how to win it on your own, always has been, I see no reason for a new set of rules in that area today. In other words, saying or not saying that here should make zero difference in how the game turns out for that tiny group. They figure it out, they always have, that's what makes the game worth playing after all.

Perhaps these are the true winners, those who hold the center, refusing polarization and bias.

An example of "the meek shall inherit the earth" ?

Well one scary possibility, is that the pushback leads to something resembling Syria today. The elites control the government and the army, and get them to do whatever it takes to keep the peasants in their place. Some might call that big government.

Amazingly great and on the buttom post h2! I've been saying as much but not as well defined as your post.

Welcome to the second world, we are now here.

Yes, we are here and just wait until this impending juggernaut is launched against entitlements to better balance the budget. The far right has already said on a number of occasions they want to reduce or eliminate entitlements to provide tax relief for the wealthiest. What galls me is the lack of public reaction to those intended tax cuts. Sure, they got ruffled a bit from Ryan's plan, but then nothing on these proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

The repubs must shake down Obama's approval rating and push their agenda of supporting the top 1% in this upcoming deficit cutting dialogue. The results of that debacle will shift this country so far to the right it will be sickening.

Yes, we are in the second world. The problem is it will lead to revolution, as we descend the net energy ladder the disenfranchised will grow in numbers and the only way they will be heard is to act out like they did in Egypt and Libya.

The possibility of a successful revolution by the disenfranchised masses is pretty remote.

Revolutions of that sort were possible when a principle form of combat was musketry and riflemen engaging in infantry tactics. Gunpowder made revolutions more possible than they had been when peasants with pitchforks went up against armored knights.

However, in the last few decades the ability of poorly armed masses to defeat modern armored infantry has gotten much worse. The US, in particular, now has extensive practice in Iraq and Afghanistan in the tactics necessary to suppress large populations while taking minimal casualties to a small, well-armed force. This has also included the development of surveillance and monitoring techniques to identify and neutralize opponents.

Beyond the US, Russia has extensive experience in Afghanistan and later and more successfully in the Caucasus. China also has very advanced and sophisticated control methods.

Egypt and Tunisia were examples where a corrupt regime was overthrown with the assistance of the respective militaries. In Libya and Yemen only parts of their militaries have gone over to the rebel side, which results in civil wars, rather than revolutions. Bahrain rebels appear to have failed. We shall see about Syria.

The possibility of a successful revolution by the disenfranchised masses is pretty remote.

I think you underestimate the power of numbers and ingenuity of the suppressed. By your estimations there could have been no way for the Russian Revolution to have occurred, but it did, as did many others with limited resources compared to the police or military in power. Remember, it doesn't take a genius to set fire to something, not that I'm advocating such action, but you can see it could be easily done.

That is the reason for the unholy alliance between the Robber Barons and the Fundies.

The Robber Barons know that a hard theocracy is completely immune to popular uprisings.
The Army will be willing to mow down their countrymen forever as long as they are told that Gawd is on their side.

Of course the Robber Barons do not want to live under a theocracy themselves,
but they would never do that — they would live above it, like the sheiks of Saudi Arabia.

The Russian Revolution took place in two phases in 1917 following a defeat of Imperial Russia by Germany. The initial revolution in March was led by the Duma and the army did not support the Tsar. The second revolution in October replaced the Provisional Government with the Bolsheviks and the Soviet structure. This was then followed by years of civil war between the Red Army and White Army.

So the Russian Revolution involved the organs of the state in its initial phases and not some disenfranchised masses. The situation was then exploited by highly organized and disciplined professional revolutionaries. There was nothing spontaneous about it, and it resulted from external pressures on Russia as well as internal dissatisfaction with the Tsar.


Note that in the absence of external pressures, the Russian Revolution of 1905 was largely unsuccessful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1905_Russian_Revolution

Note also that Lennin was an agent of the German Imperial government. Read TO FINLAND STATION by Edmund Wilson. The Germans, of course, wanted peace on their Eastern front in 1917 so they could move troops to the Western front and defeat the French and English. American intervention was necessary to keep this German plan from working.

My Daughter asked me this weekend why I remain such a Doomer. She seems much happier since her "turn to Jesus" is complete, and she (rightfully) pointed out that I have a choice to "let go and let God"....


I wish I could do that. But that is like asking me to believe in Santa Claus . . . I'd love to believe in Santa but just wanting to believe isn't enough. :-/

On the other hand, reading all doomer porn just gets me depressed and doesn't help. I can dismiss much of it as overly-negative and not supported by the basic facts. But even a much more conservative view is scary.

Heck . . . even if I subscribe to the CERA view of an 'undulating plateau' starting in 2030, that is scary. That is only 19 years away and during that time the oil producers will internally consume more & more of their oil such that exports will go down. And our share of that diminishing export oil market will go down as China and other fast growing economies rapidly increase their oil usage.

I feel very much the same way. It sort of reminds me what Churchill used to say about religion, how he envied those who could just forget reality and bury their mental problems in an imaginery fairy tale. As a society, it'd be lethal(at least if you take it literally) but as an individual it can assuage a lot of mental pain, as it gives you inner rest. The Vikings had a belief that all life was predetermined and your lifespan was a string which some sort of witch was cutting at a precise, predetermined moment and no matter what you did, you could not change that an inch one way or the other.

Needless to say, such fatalism is very poweful in battle because if you really believe it, it relives you of your fear and anxieties.

Of course, some perhaps may counter that Buddhism and other faiths(actually philosophies) may provide the same thing, and it's true to a certain extent but most Buddhists I've known are more serene than most of us but not that serene, and I think that's because it's hard to be a 'true Buddhist' in the fullest sense because you more or less have to reject living in a modern materialistic society.

I think one of my drawbacks to being one of those who resists easy thinking is the burden of deep, unsentimental thought which can be very depressing as you realise, truly realise, how non-special and average you are and how short your life will be and how you will likely not be anything exceptional by any standard by any meaningful definition(I'm not counting having a stable family, a stable job and a safe life as meaningful, merely acceptable). Against that backdrop of existential angst, I can begin to see why religion is such a lucrative business.

The problem for me is that even if I changed my mind and wanted to be religious, I think I am simply wired not to believe in comforting fairy tales, lulling me into a serene place of excessive false securities and beliefs. It's the flipside of having thoughts.
Then again I think Leanan posted a link to the Longetivity study which showed that it's not the happiest people who live longest, but the most contentious.
I was just going to say something very cynical about that but I think I'll save you the poison for another day :)

Did Leanan say "most contentious"? My recollection is that she said "most concientious" which is comepletely different.

Leiten, I can assure you that while mouthing the words of some preacher (or scientist) who is doing your thinking for you is certainly the easy way out, and depending on dogmas on any level is certainly escaping via the easy way, systems like Buddhism are definitely not easy, or a way out. Quite the contrary would be the case, but that's why they aren't well suited to the current Western mind, it's grown too lazy and self-satisfied to actually engage in anything that rigorous and demanding as a rule. Something about flicking the switch to turn on the lights, getting in your car to move your body, grabbing the cell phone to talk to someone makes anything requiring real work or effort something we can always put off to some never to come future point in time. Make sure, however, to include those who manifest a profound faith in the dogmas of scientism in those unquestioning followers, it's only fair after all.

very depressing as you realize, truly realize, how non-special and average you are and how short your life will be and how you will likely not be anything exceptional by any standard by any meaningful definition


As a TODder, you are exceptional

The problem for me is that even if I changed my mind and wanted to be religious, I think I am simply wired not to believe in comforting fairy tales

In some ways though, it does help to remember that we are just a collection of various atoms.

There's no ghost in the machine. And so, although religion may appear illogical at a superficial level, if you consider that certain circumstances (such as life-changing events, near-death experiences, long term illnesses etc.) could lead to physical changes in one's body, especially in the brain (imbalances of certain chemicals, hormones etc.) then you can see how such unshakeable faiths/hopes could be considered necessary for an individual to continue to function. The 'wiring' can be rearranged. Even for those who may previously have rejected the notion outright.

iagreewithnick, that's a nice summary of that part of our present dogmas. Remember, dogmas are those things so true they cannot be questioned by all right thinking people, nor are they open to actual questioning on any fundamental levels. Until the next set comes along to replace them, of course. Our set is a very new set, something worthwhile to note, one that appears to be causing a world of problems since its appearance, maybe it needs some modifications, could there be something missing, a tweak or two required to fit it better to the matter at hand? Nah, heh, it's got to be perfect and all encompassing by definition, what am I thinking, if it wasn't it wouldn't be a proper dogma.

It's not looking good for the Amazon either, going forward.

2,300-year climate record suggests severe tropical droughts as northern temperatures rise

A 2,300-year climate record University of Pittsburgh researchers recovered from an Andes Mountains lake reveals that as temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rise, the planet's densely populated tropical regions will most likely experience severe water shortages as the crucial summer monsoons become drier. The Pitt team found that equatorial regions of South America already are receiving less rainfall than at any point in the past millennium.

..."This model suggests that tropical regions are dry to a point we would not have predicted," Abbott said. "If the monsoons that are so critical to the water supply in tropical areas continue to diminish at this pace, it will have devastating implications for the water resources of a huge swath of the planet."

Remember, rain forests are supposed to be carbon sinks.

If the rains fail and the trees die and burn those sinks turn into veritable carbon fountains.

Arctic nations eye future of world's last frontier

Don't worry, we drilled up most of the Canadian sector of the Arctic Ocean some years ago, and there wasn't much oil there. I doubt the rest of it will be much better. Most likely the other Arctic nations will have similar results.

There is lots of natural gas up there, but there is also lots of gas much closer to southern markets.

There is also lots of coal and lots of iron ore, not to mention lots of diamonds. Just not much oil.

The native people will change their lifestyles from hunting whales to driving 400-ton trucks in huge open-pit mines. It won't be that difficult a transition for them, compared to the changes that have already been wreaked on their lives by the white men. Driving a 400-ton truck is easier than hunting whales in a kayak, and the pay is better.

Rocky, my brief visits to the territories have suggested to me that the native lifestyle mostly consists of subsidized lethargy. In many communities, and even in the capitals, there just aren't enough jobs to go around, and when there are jobs, native peoples often do not have the skills to succeed in them.

I have often wondered just how high energy prices would need to go before living in the territories becomes virtually impossible for all but those in mining camps. The old subsistence lifestyle is dead and gone, and the new one, which resembles living in a cheaper colder version of the Toronto suburbs, is one that I don't see having a huge future.

The opportunities for native people exist, they just have to seek them out. This often comes as a complete surprise to them, but it's true. In fact, ambitious young native people don't really have to look very hard for the opportunities. The resource companies are short of people who will work in the North and are actively searching for young people with a good basic education and a work ethic, who are willing to work in the North. If they already live in the North and have roots there, that's a big plus.

The problems arise when people don't have a good education and don't have a good work ethic. These people are, of course, completely screwed, but that's true regardless of where they are - Detroit or Igaluit, it's all the same.

Spent a lot of time flying/living in Yukon. The idea of hauling hot fuel from Alberta in insulated tanks to town based insulated tanks to run town powering gensets is unbelieveable. The payback in mineral wealth captured by a few, after the infrastructure and increasing population's needs (subsidized by the rest of Canada), does produce some taxes...but I'm pretty sure it doesn't pay the bills. In fact, when Yukoners talk about Provincial status smart folks kick them hard under the table and tell em to shut up. A beautiful and heart captivating land that I miss...but too damn hard to survive unless there is a teat to grab on to from down south. Without cheap fossil fuel it will return to cold and barren survival for a few....everyone else will starve.

Whenever I hear that particular brand of God-talk (if you think your daughter's got a bad case of it, listen to the country song Jesus, take the wheel some time. It's awful), I think of two things:

1. The story of Mary and Martha of Bethany in the New Testament,

and 2. Rudyard Kipling's poem, Sons of Martha, telling Martha's side of the story.

It's a tough row there, Ghung. My ex wife went through a religious phase that lasted for maybe 10 years and all I can say is it cost a pile of money to placate it. It was extremely hard on the family and the entire extended family (both). The only worse thing was her conversion to vegetarianism and how fun it made family barbecues. However, with family by birth....love does conquer all. Family beats religion hands down.

Thanks, Paulo, though it's her call, and at least she's not a Moonie or moving to New Jonestown :-/ The indoctrination of my grandkids will be interesting to watch. I think they enjoy my independence and irreverent demeanor, though the inlaws may be difficult. They see it as a control issue, though I get along quite well with the men of the family. I can hunt, fish, find ramps, and I beat 'em at horseshoes ;-)

It's almost as if God is dangling one last carrot, at the edge of the cliff.

Well, at least He has a sense of humor.

[ i.mage.+]

EIA data is confusing?


From the text:

Over the past 4 weeks imports have averaged nearly 8.8 million bpd, 943 thousand bpd BELOW the same 4 week period last year. Total Motor Gasoline imports (including both finished and blending components) averaged 1.2 mpd. (and of course in typical EIA fashion we don't get last years reference comp.)

Now without that data point I am somewhat unable to apples to apples but on surface with inventories rising another 6.4 million barrels (approx another 1 mpd.) so that means demand is down approx 2 million barrels per day???? Or over 10% vs. last year?

What am I missing here? This is at least the second week in a row where the EIA report seems to have big math problems. I realize demand has been rationed due to high prices but by +10%. Can one of you experts clue me in?


The data page is at http://ir.eia.gov/wpsr/overview.pdf

At the bottom, it shows weekly consumption. The last 2 weeks are suddenly a million barrels a day lower tham the previous 2, 18 instead of 19 million barrels a day. The "Other oils" figure is basically a huge plug to make it balance, and has been jumping all over the place.

From a first glance the EIA appears to be saying that US oil usage was so low last week that we have to go back to March 1997 to find a 4-week average lower than this week's value. Two weeks ago the EIA reported that US oil use was 19.588 mb/day. Now they've just reported 18.164. That's a fall of 7.3% in two weeks according to the EIA.

I know the weekly reports jump about but something seems strange.

As has become "normal" about 270,000 bpd appeared via "adjustment"

BTW for gasoline import/exports last year the import figure was about 360kbd lower but mostly offsetting that there was 260kbd of gasoline exports this year not recorded last year.

EIA weekly figures are all over the place at the moment.

And we have items like the following natural gas net export chart for the US, from the EIA:

The chart is inverted. Net imports, at least based on their numbers, were 2,700 BCF in 2009.

Maybe it's a side-effect of the EIA Budget cuts.

They might have layed-off their senior number 'fixer/fudger'.

Some things you just can't train people to do.

Copper hits new lows today for 2011. The price decline in February was the first indicator that I could find of the China slowdown. Copper is used for collateral in property development in China. A steep fall in copper prices may have a significant negative feedback effect.

From this point of view, I expect weak demand in Asia and continued oil inventory builds in the USA. A complete 180 from where I was a week ago.

Inventory is only apparently building because the EIA is reporting oil use in the US to have dropped to almost as low as it reached in the depths of the recession in May 2009. If the weekly figure were to be sustained for a few weeks then the US is back at 1997 levels (4 week running average) of oil use right now. I think something is fishy.

Please check imports. If you average the last 3 weeks of total imports, you would have to go back to August of 2010 to find a higher value. August 2010 was when floating storage was coming in so this is pretty incredible to me.

Couple the fact that are imports are anomalously high (given the OPEC supply drop and China's skyrocketing demand last fall) with the fact that oil demand is down.

As you know, EIA reports are not meant to be balanced.

US retail gasoline demand down 0.5 pct-MasterCard

My math says 0.5% < 7.3%. So someone is fibbing, eh?

What I have noticed is that there is a strong periodicity of when large categories of people fill up their auto and truck gasoline tanks. People are smarter than they used to be about gas prices, and a great many are filling up in the hours before prices go up about fifteen cents a gallon. Then for days hardly anybody is filling up--unless there is some other news event to signal another rise in gasoline prices.

When gasoline prices went DOWN just a few days ago, hordes of people were filling their gas tanks right after the posted prices went down.

How much gasoline (on average) that people are keeping in their fuel tanks can account for substantial changes in demand for gasoline. Expectations of price changes are volatile, so this cause of change in gasoline demand is also volatile.

Hilarious part about this is that these are the people driving 8 mpg F-350s at 80mph + and they are worried about a few cent per gallon fluctuation in the price. They'll burn up any insignificant change like that in a couple "put the hammer-down" starts between red lights.

I have seen little modification of people's driving habits in the face of $4/gallon gas - I actually think speeds have increased - probably in response to stress levels.

Anecdotally - I do think the number of massive trucks and SUVs on the road around me have declined significantly over the past few weeks.

Zerohedge reports; "CME HALTS TRADING ON GAS, CRUDE OIL, HEATING OIL FUTURES". Although trading has now resumed. Obviously something is going on under the surface.

Market crash coming?

Gasoline is down near 30 cents today. It crashed last week, recovered & then some Monday & Tuesday, & crashed again today.

Total wild times. Up until the last week, 5 cents was a big move in gasoline.


Seemingly CME have now doubled their daily limits, allowing for a greater range in price swings (price fall in this case). Obviously expecting some volatile trading.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 6, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending May 6, 49 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 81.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging nearly 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased slightly last week, averaging nearly 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 9.0 million barrels per day last week, up by 87 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 8.8 million barrels per day, 943 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 1.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 166 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 370.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.8 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 6.4 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 18.8 million barrels per day, down by 0.5 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged nearly 9.0 million barrels per day, down by 2.4 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 4.5 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.7 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Interesting that the API reported gasoline stocks falling 1.8 million barrels and the EIA reported a gain of 1.3 million. Who to believe?

API report moves in the same direction as the EIA report only 75% of the time. The traders go by the EIA numbers.

A 3.1 million barrel difference is unusually large though is it not?

Not trying to don a tinfoil hat, but I think certainty in the oil/petroleum markets is basically out the window. I would imagine things are gonna get ugly if the agencies are unable to come up with numbers that mesh and make sense.

Meanwhile the price of oil is dropping.

What the heck is going on?

Traders go by either number if it is profitable. My WAG is the the Government is dong its best to keep gasoline below $4. API numbers, if proven more accurate, would move gasoline inventories closer to the MOL territory.

Traders go by either number if it is profitable. My WAG is the the Government is dong its best to keep gasoline below $4. API numbers, if proven more accurate, would move gasoline inventories closer to the MOL territory.

Some are seeing the drop in demand to mean that $4/gallon is a ceiling.

Interestingly though, by far the largest reported percentage drop in demand over the last two weeks is in the "other oils" category - not gasoline. I think we need a few more weeks for the big swings to settle down and see where the 4 week averages go. A greater than 7% drop in US oil use in just two weeks is not likely and just shows how noisy the weekly data is right now.

Worth noting what the "Other oil" number is:

21 Other Oil Product Supplied = Total Product Supplied less the product supplied of Finished Motor Gasoline, Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel, Distillate Fuel Oil, Residual Fuel Oil, and

i.e., don't look too close

Although the EIA does track products in that "other oils" category. They just don't break it down in the weekly reports but they do in the monthly reports

So, $4/gallon is the consumer's ceiling, and the marginal barrel produced is around $80. Anyone for a good game of chicken?

I, for one, am not pushing my car to the grocery store.
Ever try to push your car one gallons worth of gas?

I once pushed my car through my neighborhood. I'd recommend a nice child's wagon instead. You can load a lot in there. ;-)

Gasoline Inventory

Little noticed from todays EIA report is the Finished Gasoline inventory of 55.5kk bl out of total of 205.8.
This level is a low since records were kept(Jan 1994).
This represents barely 6 DAYS supply!!(Padds 1 and 3 are most at risk)
NB: The bulk of the inv are blending components.
With this wall of water coming there is little room for bottlenecks in the chain.

When a system reaches capacity, it becomes chaotic.
That means greater price volatility!

Bottom Line: Wild swings ahead!

It is my understanding that the gasoline is now blended at the terminals rendering the distinction b/w finished and blending components meaningless. The categories are just artifacts of a time past.

The commodity bubble continues to burst: After a small bounce yesterday it now seems likely that prices will fall a very long way. QE2 is coming to an end and unless QE3 is immediately set into motion (unlikely with the current discussions on the debt cap) the collapse will almost certainly continue in the month ahead. Oil will very probably fall to USD 50/BBL or even perhaps below and Silver is likely head back down to its USD 15/oz stabilisation point. It is now also looking likely that these levels can be reached within a matter of months. Overall oil production however, is likely to hold up fairly well and may cause prices to stabilise at a low level for a quite a while to come - this will particularly be the case if the Chinese economy really slows down.

Blimey, silver back in freeeefaaaaaaalll!

Silver is probably not going to go down that much.

There is strong, bottom up demand for physical silver from individuals getting increasingly restless about their currency holdings, and rightfully so.

It is much easier to hold physical precious metals than it is to store oil or food or grain. Which means demand for precious metals should survive any massive sell off in paper commodities.

This is exactly what happened in 2008 and I see no reason why the trend should change now.

Gold and silver are not merely commodities. They are money, and they've been money for thousands of years, and they'll continue to be money.

In fact, in deflationary times, the demand for real money will rise. This is because central banks, in futile attempts to reignite credit bubbles or to make up for credit contraction, will print fiat currency, rendering it increasingly worthless.

Gold and silver are not merely commodities, they are money, and they've been money for thousands of years\

Grain, beans and even beads have been "money".

Gold/Silver have purposes in a photon->human useable economy. So does Copper and more than a few other metals. Mining and conversion of photons into matter are primary production.

Silver is also very much an industrial metal which means it's difficult to tell which way it would go in the event of economic downturn.

Gold is likely to be far less volatile.

I suspect (but cannot prove) that most of the silver bullion and silver coins purchased during the past several months have been purchased with borrowed money and a high leverage rate. Thus silver is a classic speculative market in which the speculative bubble has now broken. How low silver can go is an interesting question, but IMHO there is a floor at $15-$18 per ounce; I'll be surprised if it goes below that level.

However, having said that, if one looks at the decline in silver prices in 1980 from a speculative bubble (the Hunt brothers attempted corner of the market), silver could fall to ten percent of its current level--but I do not think it would stay at such an exceptionally low price very long.

It will be very interesting to see what happens in copper, because the two metals often have similar price movements, in percentage terms.

Oil could easily go down to the $40-$50 range if we go into a serious recession, and even lower if we go into a Greater Depression. Long-term, however, I think the trend in oil prices will be up--but with increasing volatility.

I agree, and if silver does go below $15, I'll be looking to get in!

I think silver is definitely in a bubble (or just coming out of it).

Gold is also interesting. Inflation adjusted it's actually fast approaching it's peak in 1980. That doesn't seem sustainable - the only thing that will keep it high is if the economy continues to deteriorate. If, however, things stabilise for the next 12-24 months then I would expect to see gold take a big hit in the medium term.

That doesn't seem sustainable - the only thing that will keep it high is if the economy continues to deteriorate.

If continued economic deterioration is what will keep the gold price high, then I would say a high gold price is very "sustainable", and very likely.

It is interesting to look at the price of oil -when you pay for it with gold;

Doesn;t seem that expensive, if you own a gold mine. And if you do, then food is the cheapest it has been in a century, and possibly history;

Charts courtesy of Nathan Lewis, updated 8 May, 2011.

Nice charts! Of course if the global economy were to stabilise for the next 2 years or so then you would expect oil prices to slowly rise and gold prices to decline which would mean that top graph would spike back up again.

The wheat graph is very interesting considering the huge spike in gold prices in 1980 and subsequent crash in 1981. In fact, I'm not even sure I believe it's accurate!

Yep, graphs priced in gold are always interesting. Corn and soybean charts are about the same.

As for the wheat price, here are the inflation adjusted wheat prices to 2006 - judge for yourself;

Anyone who complains about "record high food prices" today did not do their homework. The problem likely is more to do with "record low incomes"

Inflation-adjusted prices? Is that a joke?

Actually, it is not a joke. Bread is cheaper today in terms of how many hours of labor is needed to buy it than it was during the Great Depression, when a one-and-a-half pound loaf of white bread sold for a dime. Wages of fifty cents an hour were much sought after during the Depression, and those who made seventy-five cents an hour were sitting pretty. In the book, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, there is a dramatic scene where a family refuses to take a fifteen cents an hour job--because the going wage rate was twenty cents an hour (or box of peaches, I forget which).

Today the dollar has lost about 97% of its value compared to 1913, when the Federal Reserve System was established. Inflation over the long term did not get started, however, until about 1940. Thus, in my lifetime, I have seen the dollar shrink to about one-twenty-fifth (1/25) of its value in 1940.

Because of my life experience, I think much more inflation is in our future.

So food has gotten cheaper in the post war years, but here's and example of something that definitely has not;

In 2007, this number had reached $7k. And how much healthier are the American public for a six fold increase in health care spending?

For the period from 1966 to present, looks to be about seven years. But if break it into two, from 1966 to 1986, cost went from $1k to $2.5, and you lived an extra 4.5 years. From 1986 to 2007, cost went from $2.5 to $7k, and this extra $4.5k bought you all of 2.5 years.

There can be little doubt that health care (in the US) is one of the most inflationary costs there is.

I couldn't find a chart of health care costs in gold - that would be very depressing!

Food is much more expensive because of finite resources. Wages are flat because of finite resources.

No, food appear more expensive because of too many dollars around, causing inflation. Maybe you didn't notice the corn line on the chart I posted above, which has the *inflation adjusted* price for corn on there.

But lets put both the real and nominal prices on the one chart and see if it really is "much more expensive"

Yep, it was more expensive than today for pretty much all of the '70s.

Food today is a bargain - just not when you pay someone else to do all the prep and/or cooking for you.

No, you can only make conclusions about the price of corn relative to the prices of other goods from the inflation-adjusted graph. You are jumping to a false conclusion about the relative expense to the consumer. For example, you have to consider individual budgets and what a quick 300% price rise means in those terms.

Hmm, so from that graph in 1974 wheat is around $24 inf adj, 1977 around $9, 1980 it's say $12 and 1983 around $6/7?

And for gold the inflation adjusted are: 1974 ~$800 ; 1977 ~$800 ; 1980 ~$2000 ; 1983 ~$800

So ratios of around: 30 / 11 / 6 / 8 ?

Well that surprises me, looks like the graph is correct after all!

The chart of wheat priced in gold looks familiar, it looks similar to a stock chart I once followed (I was interested in charting at the time). The chart for the company meant it was doomed to fail, which it did, was bought out and taken private (delisted). Assuming that the chart is created by an internal dynamic of market pricing, I wonder what it means for wheat?

For some time I've held the belief that as money loses its value, important commodities like food will start to vanish from the open market. The control of food will increasingly vanishing into a network of private or closed trading relationships. So it was interesting to see Sharon Astyk's post as a manifestation of this: On the khaki market: What do you do when the food system you need is illegal?

What do you get when you cross Green, as in Green Markets - those emergent farmer's and craftspeople's markets that have given life to local food - with Black or Grey Markets - ie, illegal sales? Khaki is the color you get, and you get what I call "Khaki Markets" - the growing trend towards producing food, toiletries and other regulated substances outside of regulation. It is a hugely growing trend, from unlicensed sale of everything from produce to herbs to illegal raw milk sales to gourmet restaurants operating out of old school buses and people's apartments. Indeed, there are whole "mobile local markets" that rotate and spread by internet and word of mouth in many cities designed to encourage unlicensed producers and to expand local food markets. Khaki Markets aren't just growing, they are trendy.

Another manifestation of this is the "land grab" where countries are buying land beyond their own borders. The produce from farming these additional acres is not meant for the open market, but to feed their own internal markets. Or as with Russia where their wheat was removed from the international market due to climate induced shortages. Many different reasons, but with the same effect, where production is not orientated towards or not making it to the open market.

If this is the beginning of a trend, as I suspect, it will have major implications for cost and availability of food to those relying entirely on the open market and the value of money. Food inflation may well take off and become uncontrollable in such circumstances.

Hope you didn;t lose your shirt on that company!

I agree about the "khaki" market - though I have not heard that term before. The internet is great enabler of that. My local town set up a website for people with fruit trees, who couldn't use all the fruit - put you address up there, and then people who did want the fruit could contact you, and come and pick it - for free. (Getting rid of unpicked fruit is a big deal here (coastal British Columbia) as it attracts bears like you wouldn't believe.)
So here is a genuine khaki market, I can see this thing catching on -which is good. One local store complained, of course, but backed down very quickly - too much negative PR there.

The land grab is mainly countries like China and Saudi Arabia, buying land in Africa, and the food does not hit the world market - it goes straight to mama.

As for wheat, world production has increased from 585mt in 1990 to 690mt in 2009 (USDA figures) - while population has increased far more! World wheat exports have gone from 110 to 120mt in that period, though they were only 45mt back in 1960.

Interestingly, the major wheat exporters are, with one exception, the major oil importers! US, Canada, Australia, EU, Argentina and Former soviet Union are 90+% of wheat exports - they should form the OWEC!

When you look at where the wheat is going, it gets even more interesting;

Most of the import growth has come from Africa and the Middle East which are the major oil exporting countries! I can see some serious food for fuel trading in the future.

The chart for corn is similar, with Africa, ME and "other developing countries" going from 5mt of imports in the '70s, to 65mt today, and 65% of the market.

So, if there ever is another OPEC oil embargo against "the West", I would not be at all surprised to see it met with a grains embargo - but who would blink first?

I hope it doesn't come to that, as I'm not sure either side would keep that trade war just to trade.

The population of MENA is circa 320 million, equivalent to the EU or the US. As the largest importer of wheat, etc. it makes you wonder what they'll do when their increasingly debased dollars buys them ever less food. That kind of insecurity can make people bury their differences and work together towards a common goal.

If one man steps forward to unite the current revolutionary spirit sweeping MENA to a common purpose, we're going to be in deep sh!t.

‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’.

but IMHO there is a floor at $15-$18 per ounce

If only there was a method of using math, say Fibonacci sequences and an X and Y grid to express the movement of prices one then constrains within an upper an lower band.

Because if there was such a system, one might note "floors" of $33, $31 and then $26. Or one might just call it voodoo.

what happens in copper

As I understand, Copper has less demand in China the past few months.

Copper and Silver are going to be needed if one is gonna follow Kan:

Says Prime Minister Naoto Kan: "We need to start from scratch… and do more to promote renewables."
Wind power alone could---and now probably will---replace 40 nukes in Japan.

Oop, there goes the $33 floor! ;-)

I think that somethink like 70% of all silver is mined as a co-product - primarily as a co-product of copper. Therefore it makes sense that there are similarities in how they move - at least looking at it from the supply side.


You are right. Fifty years ago I was into some pure silver plays (penny stocks on the Toronto exchange) and made a lot of money on Siscoe Mines, but that was an exception.

I do recommend, as the single best book about silver, THE SILVER BEARS, by Paul Erdmann. The big point is that the silver market is thin and relatively easy to manipulate.

I have that book as well as a bunch of other ones by Erdman. He had a knack for educating non-financial types with thriller/whodunnit books.


I'm not sure I agree with your argument. Even though silver does have practical uses about 25% of silver investments are purely speculative. Remove those from the market and that is more than enough to destroy the price! Anyway - Time will show which one of us is right.

The oil situation could end up being pretty extreme too. On ToD we have a tendency of focusing on rising demand as a price driver and decreasing exports from oil exporting countries (ELM).

However, the effects of falling demand in many parts of the world - particularly as China puts the breaks on could be just as dramatic.

Also: Perhaps we should start looking at the ILM (Import land model)? Countries that are importers of oil tend to cut their oil dependency over time and may greatly reduce their oil imports. This effect may be greater than the ELM effect of reducing exports over time - and I believe is a good argument for not bothering too much with either. The oil market is a global market and therefore looking at global supply and demand should be sufficient! Who is exporting and who is importing should not affect the price level.

All things considered we could see low oil prices for a long time to come...

Behind a paywall, but viewable via Google:

Shrinking Oil Supplies Put Alaskan Pipeline at Risk

FAIRBANKS, Alaska—When the famed Trans Alaska Pipeline carried two million barrels of oil a day, the naturally warm crude surged 800 miles to the Port of Valdez in three days and arrived at a temperature of about 100 degrees.

Now, dwindling oil production along Alaska's northern edge means the pipeline carries less than one-third the volume it once did—and the crude takes five times as long to get to its destination.

That leisurely flow means the oil is above ground longer and more exposed to Alaska's frigid weather; the crude sometimes arrives chilled to 40 degrees. As the flow and temperature continue to drop, experts say the risks of a clog or corrosion increase, as do the odds of ruptures and spills.

From the article:

The problems facing the pipeline were made very clear in January, when a leak on the North Slope forced two back-to-back winter shutdowns for a total of 148 hours. Temperatures inside the pipeline dropped by almost two degrees a day. Much longer, says E.G. "Betsy" Haines, Alyeska's oil movement director, and wax in the crude would have begun congealing, potentially turning TAPS into the world's largest tube of ChapStick.

There was a proposal put to the Alaska legislature a couple of weeks ago for a Gas to Methanol to Gasoline project

The idea is to make methanol at the north slope, pipe this with the crude, which reduces viscosity, and then extract the methanol at the south end, and use the Mobil MtG process to turn it into gasoline. It is a better round trip efficiency than FT synthesis.

Initial proposal is for a 63,000bpd plant, at a cost of $5.3bn. Could eventually got up to 450,000bpd for about $20bn, and would take 15 years to build!

I don't know if this would actually solve the pipeline issue - it is questionable if even the $5bn plant could be built in time

The proponent, Janus Methanol is a Swiss company, and a major methanol player - earlier this year they bought a methanol plant in Texas - that seems a better place to start, IMO.

The North Slope doesn't have that much natural gas, 53 Tcf which is less than 10 Gboe. I has less than 1 Gb of undiscovered crude and 3.5 Gb of proven reserves. I think the minimum flow thru the pipeline is 0.3 mbpd or .11 Gb per year. The maximum is 2.1 mbpd or 1.1 Gb per year.


A quicker solution to Alaska's depletion is coal. The North Slope
has at least 100 Gt of coal(~China proven coal reserves). If this were converted to methanol it would produce 130 Gb of methanol.
Of course, you'd have to bury the process CO2 emissions.

We gotta keep Caribou Barbie happy!

You betcha!

I don't know if I would call 53tcf "not much gas", at a price of $4/mcf, that is $212bn worth. it will actually turn into about 5.3Gb of gasoline, so that would be worth about $680bn. That seems pretty good for known reserves and pipeline that is already there.

And, if they go after the NG, there is a good chance of getting some oil too, a good chunk of the NG up there is associated/dissolved gas.

So using the gas first will help find a bit more oil, and makes use of much of the infrastructure up there already, and it's cheaper to build a gas to methanol plant than a coal one. The methanol prevents icing/waxing of crude in the pipe, so it *may* allow lower flow volumes than the 0.3mbd, plus there is the volume of methanol itself.

Once the gas is depleting, then you can add a coal gasification front end to the methanol plant and carry on.
Or do both at once, but it seems silly to leave all that gas just sitting there - it will be easier and cheaper to get at than the coal, and a lot of the equipment/infrastructure is already there.

53 tcf is about 2.3 years worth of US consumption. It isn't hardly worth the effort to develop. The North Slope also has 18 tcf of coalbed methane per USGS but I can't see how it can be extracted from permafrost.
Coal is much easier to exploit than stranded natural gas as they have equivalent volumetric energy density. They both have CO2 problems though coals is twice as bad per Btu.

Your best chance is if someone can tap 85 Tcf of methane hydrate gas for you methanol project, though simply shipping it out as LNG makes more sense IMO.


As one drills deeper the temperature increases due to geothermal energy flow. If the coal beds are deep enough, there wouldn't be a problem with permafrost...

E. Swanson

The total oil production from the north slope to date is about 16Gb , equal to, wait for it, 2.3 years worth of total US consumption! And yet that project has been deemed worthwhile.

I don;t know why you are fixated getting unconventional gas from hydrates when there is so much conventional gas that can be had first. That said, any gas project,, be it LNG or methanol, will, and should, try to get all of it. If the project can be paid for by the conventional gas first, while the hydrate stuff is fully explored developed, then maybe the hydrates will be economic.

As for LNG v methanol, well that is a business decision, and could easily go either way. This Korean company is planning to do LNG at the Canadian arctic gas fields of the Mackenzie delta, so it certainly could happen.

I think that doing the methanol route would be more more beneficial for the US, as it produces a liquid transport fuel, something the US does have a shortage of. LNG is something the US already has an excess of - will be export income, which is great, but home grown liquid fuel is better still.

I'm surprised that we are not hearing this being used as a reason to drill ANWR.

Really . . . if the Dems were smart, they would put together a deal to drill ANWR and use the proceeds to pay the debt or fund alternatives. Drilling ANWR:
1) Boosts domestic supply.
2) Looks good politically in a $4+/gallon environment.
3) Gets rid of a perpetual talking point on the right.
4) Could be used to help fund alternatives.
5) Raises some revenue.
6) Deals with the pipeline issue in this article.


I know the environmentalists will object . . . but you need to pick you battles. You'll lose far more environmentally if you lose elections.

Speculawyer -

I consider myself an "environmentalist" (whatever that means by todays standards) and I completely agree with your list.

Particularly #3 - many on TOD have been saying this for years now. It is time to have the right and the oil companies put their cards on the table and get down to the business of having ANWR ride to our rescue. "Show me the oil... come on - where is it...?"

By the same token adequate preparation of talking points should be made by the "enviros" such that a thorough thrashing can be administered once the inevitable failure comes to pass.

I expect that behind the scenes there will be more pushing to open ANWR, and everywhere else up there, for drilling.

And I agree too with drilling it, but don't just let them go crazy. Issue the challenge to the oil companies - you can drill, but it has to be done to highest environmental standards. No dumping of drilling muds or any of that sort of thing going on with the shale gas guys. You clean up after yourselves to make it look like it was before, don't drive your vehicles during the wrong times of year, etc etc.

And then see what they find - which will probably be more natural gas.

Spec - I fully agree with you. Anyone that thinks ANWR won’t be drilled (eventually) has zero grasp on the reality IMHO. It’s only a question of when the voting public will demand it. I think this would be an excellent time to go for it. First, as many have implied, if the oil reserves don’t exist in significant amounts we need to know ASAP. Then we can stop viewing ANWR as a great hold card. Sort of like expecting a disfunctional BOP to save your butt. Been there...done that. And it's not a very good feeling. Second, with current high oil prices the govt can capture the highest possible share of the revenue from the oil patch. Third, given the driving forces behind the push the environmental lobby should be able to demand the tightest controls and regs they could ever expect IMHO. Wait till PO really starts to hurt and the American public will demand that ANWR (and every other resource) be developed regardless of environmental consequences.

And anyone who wants to argue that politicians, at least the D’s, will protect the environment no matter what: read my post to S about the coal fired plant in Texas.

if the oil reserves don’t exist in significant amounts we need to know ASAP

Rockyman, I tend to agree that the best reason for drilling the ANWR is to prove to people that the oil they think is there is not there. After that point is settled, they can deem it to be a permanently protected area and leave the animals alone.

I suspect it will turn out like the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve - when they actually drill it, they will find there is about 1/10 the amount of oil there that the USGS estimates there is. Like you, I have spent too long in the oil industry to be confident about it.

Once they find the oil they are counting on is nonexistent the politicians can proceed with Plan B. At this point in time there is no Plan B.

Rocky - "they will find there is about 1/10 the amount of oil there that the USGS estimates there is" You and westexas are just alike: pie-in-the-sky optimists. That's OK...you wildcatters just dream on...we development hands will save your butts as usual.

Okay, I should have said, "Optimistically there is 1/10 the amount of oil there that the USGS estimates there is." Pessimistically, there ain't nothin' there at all. I could also have said, "I don't know what kind of drugs they are smoking over there at the USGS, but they really should stop because the hallucinations are affecting their work."

I usually try to be more polite than that - I really do try, but I don't always succeed.

I keep reading you guys knocking ANWR but why is it that you are so pessimistic about the reserves? To an outsider the USGS would seem to be capable of providing good estimates but there are a few of you who don't think that way. A bit puzzling.


There was a big USGS oil study done around 2000 . . . and the actual oil finds have not kept pace with the predicted oil finds.


Historically, the USGS has a very poor track record of estimating oil reserves and predicting oil discoveries, i.e. "They've always been wrong before, why would you expect them to be right this time?"

NOAM - Not knocking ANWR...knocking folks who estimate there X billions of bbls of commercially producible oil there. During my 36 I'll guess I've seen wells drilled collectively for the better part of a billions bbls of oil and several TCF of NG that turned out not to be there. And these were prospects developed on very detailed data sets in areas of oil/NG production that had been established for more than 60 years at this point in time. You need to understand the numbers the USGS toss on are not based upon presumed MAPPED OIL/NG RESERVES. They are based upon models which are based upon assumptions which are based upon what someone wants to believe. All those reserves I didn't see discovered were based upon specific mapped data that had been subjected to peer review and then drilled with someone's money who bought the story. And this effort still resulted in dry holes and "potential reserves" that turned out not to be there despite all their great "potential".

I'll tease explorationists like westexas all the time and get away with it. That's because they know that I know how difficult the exploration process is. My exploration staff is looking for reserves 1/20 the size they were 30 years ago and at twice the depth and 3 times the costs. I've got over $120 million left in my drilling budget this year and will be very lucky to spend 1/3 of it...just not enough viable projects left in our venue.

The oil patch isn't the NFL where you can pull up the stats and see how many games each team won/lost. The public gets to see the big press release about the new 1,200 bopd Eagle Ford well. But they don't get to see the press releases about the 6 EF wells that tested less than 100 bopd each and will never recover even half their costs. And you won't see for a good reason: companies, especially public corps, don't advertize failure. You won't see a press release from one of our incompetent partners who spent $16.5 million to drill a well that should have costs $6.5 million. And it turned out to be a dry hole on top of that. Consider the grand daddy of the shale gas plays: the Barnett Shale. Not sure how accurate the analysis is but a recent report estimated that 90% of the BS wells never recovered their original investment let alone made a profit. The folks who drilled those wells had the same expectations of being correct as the USGS has about ANWR...probably more so. And they were wrong. But it was their money to risk. The USGS isn't risking one penny on their reserves. As we say in the oil patch: "If you ain't got skin in the game just sit there and shut up".

Or put it this way: I have no expectation that the oil patch, utilizing the best data and personnel, will have a significant effect on mitigating PO. But am I going to hang such an expectation on a product put out by folks who have little practical exploration experience, little or no significant data and also have no financial position at risk based upon their analysis? Analysis that isn't released to the public until it has been approved by the politicians in charge of the process? Some folks might not agree with my view point. All I've got is 36 years experience listening to explorationists offer glory and riches and very often being more wrong than right. The only reason the oil patch has survived this long is that successes used to be so large they more than paid for the failures and made some profit. That's all the more difficult these days. I can't verify it but I wouldn't be surprised if the industry is making little or no profit FROM NEW DRILLING EFFORTS...NOT EXISTING PRODUCION. I was in the biz during the late70's boom and I can assure you the oil patch was a net loser at the same time oil prices peaked. There were 4,600 rigs drilling at the peak and I know for a fact the majority of those wells never made a profit.

Let me see if I am getting this right. The USGS ANWR estimate is based on guesses about what could be there rather than an analysis of data, such as shot seismic, as to what should be there. Based on historical track record the 'should be there' is a LOT lower than the 'could be there'.


NAOM - I won't even be generous and call them "guesses". I typically won't knock someone for a guess if they base it on solid data. I'm not an expert on the USGS methodology but I pretty sure it's based upon modeling and not analysis of site specific data (because there is almost no such data). And I don't knock models per se other than models are almost completely dependent upon assumptions. And when there is little or no drilling history in a region there's very little to base assumptions upon. A simple example: there is an oil trend in Texas called the Greta Sand: major fields developed for over 50 years....billions of bbls of oil recovered. Someone sends me a prospect brochure offering a Greta wildcat with a 300 million bbl potential recovery: I'll toss it without reading. They’re postulating a field twice as big as ever been discovered in the trend. Besides being outside a very well documented size distribution the existing well density in the trend it would make it physically impossible for it to exist.

Now jump to the Arctic. First, there is no established history of production and thus no established size distribution. One can make the assumption that multiple 300 million bbl oil fields exists because there is no statistics to say there aren't. There maybe be some seismic data indicating numerous trapping features but I can show you hundreds of such traps in trends along the prolific Gulf Coast that have never produced a bbl of oil. And even when one makes the assumption that reservoir quality rocks exists in these mapped structural traps you still need to have oil migrate into them at the proper timing. And beyond that you have make the assumption that oil was generated in the first place. Not only is oil not generated in all geologic provinces, the conditions leading to oil generation are not as common as many think they are. Decades ago the Muckluc (sp?) stratigraphic test was drilled in the Arctic region. Geochemical analysis indicated the conditions required for oil generation didn't ever develop in this area. An expensive learning curve: in today' $'s probably cost $500+ million for that critical bit of knowledge. A similar test well off the SE coast of the US delivered the same outcome: the gazillion bbls of “potential” oil postulated by the USGS disappeared with the drilling of one well.

But that’s part of the great freedom in postulating reserves volumes in such trends: the less hard data you have the fewer limitations you have in your model. It’s your assumptions that generate the reserve potential…not the model.

I think I follow. So until they get some test bores in they really have no idea of what, if anything, is down there and those hole may end up as just very expensive holes to pour money into. Even if formation is right the oil may never have arrived in the first place.


I'd been peddling something like that year ago. Only got greif from the left. ANWR is sort like a religious belief, not amenable to compromise. And given development times, its too late wrt the pipeline.

Right after the blowout in the Gulf, caused largely by oil company negligence, does not seem like the time to let them loose in the ANWR.
Let's see them clean up their act first.


Here is a refutation of Jeavons' Paradox

It didn't refute it for me, at least not my take on it. In the short to mid term there have always been ebbs and flows, but over time, especially in a large (global?) economy, there will always be those who will exploit any available resource to better their lot. History bears me out, IMO.

From the article:

The second, the economy-wide theory, hypothesizes that any energy savings from efficiency would be offset by money savings respent on activities that demand additional energy consumption. This is refuted by the fact that only a small portion (maximum of 6-8%) of those expenditures ever goes to energy. For instance, consumers who save money on their electric bill, may use those savings for any number of things – food, movie tickets, or a child’s college fund.

Huh? These things don't require energy?

More food = more people, either living longer or requiring more healthcare = more consumption.

Movie tickets? Arguably an entirely discretionary activity, supporting one of the most mindlessly energy intensive industries, populated by people living arguably the most consumptive lifestyles, inspiring more consumption.

College fund? More people pursuing lifelong careers most of which are designed to do nothing but create wealth, produce little of substance and consuming more in the process.

The article cites two types of rebound theory, "both of which have been refuted." Once again, history begs to differ. Human societies have always rebounded, despite increases in efficiency. Those which have failed to do so have been supplanted. Rebounding populations, rebounding consumption, rebounding enviromental destruction have been the norm. I hold these truths to be self-evident. Efficiency:


I think Jevon's paradox is a real effect, but for it to occur the prices of the fuel must remain constant.

With oil, prices are likely to continue going up so that improvements in efficiency won't lead to more usage, it will just lead to the ability to do the same without costing much more.

We had the Jevon's paradox effect in the 90's . . . there were engine efficiency improvements made but instead of making the vehicles more efficient we instead used those efficiencies to create bigger & more powerful vehicles.

Flooding will only worsen unless river management improves, hydrogeologist says

“This year we have record flood levels at many gauging stations just south of St. Louis. In 2008 we had record flood levels in many parts of the northern Mississippi River. There will come a point where people in the federal government will need to realize that flooding is actually getting worse and the things we have been doing are not solving this problem; they are aggravating it.”

It’s not your imagination, Criss says. The river is becoming more chaotic and unpredictable. Floods are more frequent and more severe.

Criss is particularly distressed by the Army Corps of Engineers’ estimates of flood frequency, which he says are far off the data.

It's common to refer to a "100-year flood" or a "500-year flood,” implying that we will not see such devastation again in our lifetimes.

“The problem is we’ve had many '100-year floods' and '500-year floods' at single sites in the last 20 years,” Criss says. The failure to get the frequency of flooding right, he feels, gets in the way of solving the problem.

I agree that flood frequency rates need to be revamped. The rate is losing all credibility.

While the Mississippi flood moves downstream, in the NW, the mainstem Columbia is in draw down to historically low levels. It's at 1218 ft on Lake Roosevelt presently, behind Grand Coulee Dam. It only has 10 feet to go before it's at the lowest operating level for power, which is not expected. The river is free flowing now above Kettle Falls, the "islands" just upstream are visible, tho the falls themselves are a ripple. Quite a sight, being used to full pool. The drawdown is in anticipation of record snow runoff this spring.

I understand that there are huge amounts of excess power, to be sold probably to CA at 1.2 cents, according to un-named engineers. And that there will be no wind purchases this spring over Columbia Basin, they'll be left to free spin. Gets to you, in an era of dear energy, we must let so much harnessed wind and water fly by. I'm not sure of the present status of the Crab Creek pumped storage; this should provide impetus.

Perhaps those nuclear people here on TOD might explain, that given several months lead time, couldn't we have curtailed some of the nuclear generation this spring? Or for that matter, some of the coal Avista and other companies are burning in Montana? Different users, contracts, I guess, but it doesn't seem to be an insurmountable problem

"...couldn't we have curtailed some of the nuclear generation this spring? Or for that matter, some of the coal Avista and other companies are burning in Montana? Different users, contracts, I guess, but it doesn't seem to be an insurmountable problem.."

Hey, these companies have bills to pay. It's not their problem, and it's not like we have some sort of National energy policy :-/

Fir, '

The BPA put out a press release on all this a few weeks ago, which included this;

Spill is one tool BPA uses to balance generation and consumption – and spill often helps young fish migrate downriver. But too much spill can lead to excessive levels of dissolved gas in the rivers, which can harm fish. So BPA is taking additional measures..

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.

So, they have asked for a nuclear curtailment, of sorts. It seems like they are doing everything they can. The "too much spill" thing is interesting, I am pleased to see the fish are getting at least some respect.

It was only a couple extra days of shutdown at Whoops 2. I'm sure they had their reasons, and I'm not being facetious. I see the highlighted zero cost. He definitely said 1.2 cents, maybe referring to future sales this spring. The impression I got from the conversation is wind will not be purchased after all. Will be tough on those folks losing their credits.

I must say, BPA has been pretty good with fish lately, all considered. I know, like the fact they nearly wiped out the run...That "too much spill" caught me the hard way years back when I switched my small trout operation from creek over to spring water. At 100 psi. I had forgotten to make allowances for all the excess N2, and about wiped them out. Couldn't figure it out at first, thinking of everything except all that cool clear water was killing them.


Looks like I may have found a reason for no additional time off at Hanford-they didn't want to mess with it.

"...But it has been plagued in the past by unplanned shutdowns.
Last year, a review by the industry-funded Institute of Nuclear Power Operations singled the plant out as one of two in the country most in need of improvements in operations and "human performance.""


"human performance" - I like that!

Spot elec prices in the PNW sometimes even go negative during the freshet, so zero is not unusual, and neither is 1.2c

You can check out the prices yourself at the FERC website

You can see that for the last month the wholesale price at the Mid Columbia trading point has been below 2.5c all month, and has dipped under 1c several times.

Electricity really is a cheap commodity .

"Electricity really is a cheap commodity ."

Somebody I know works in the windfarm business and they often sell power at zero or even negative prices. As a price taker they don't have much of a choice. The only reason why they are not bankrupt is because one of the terms of obtaining financing was that all (projected) power produced over the term of the loan had to be hedged out through swaps and forward sales.
Good thing that there were some Evil Speculators to take the other side of that trade. Without them those particular windfarms would not exist.


Electricity really is a cheap commodity.

We have many things to be grateful for and I agree relatively cheap electricity is one of them.

It is interesting that "Electrification" was named the Greatest Engineering Achievement of the 20th Century. Per: Top 20 Achievements.

Interesting list, if slightly inaccurate. Some things, like "water supply and distribution" and "highways" were invented thousands of years ago. Also things like "health technologies" are not engineering at all.

But I would agree that electrification should be at the top of the list - it has been the enabler of many, many improvements to life.

It would seem that by 'Highways', they mean the Asphalt based roads, PLUS the ICE vehicles that make up the rest of the Symbiotic Formula, including the ICE tools that build these highways.

Similarly, 'Water' would largely imply 'Electrically Pumped and Heated Water', which might then owe it's glory to that same Electrification..

The drawdown is in anticipation of record snow runoff this spring.

I don't think it's a record Snowpack, but it's certainly a good one - I plan to be skiing this Memorial-Day weekend at Silver Mountain (Kellogg, Idaho) - as I have been for the last several weekends. (They're closed this weekend (see silvermt.com) due to expected thunderstorms).

I can distinctly remember at least three other winters where there was more snow than there is this year, so it's not going to be as far as I'm concerned a "record" runoff - a lot of it left in December during the "Pineapple Express" warming.

Maybe there's more up higher above timberline, but it's just wasn't that great out there - a relatively warm winter after all - no "bottomless powder" days.

Why nuclear power will never supply the world's energy needs

The 440 commercial nuclear reactors in use worldwide are currently helping to minimize our consumption of fossil fuels, but how much bigger can nuclear power get? In an analysis to be published in a future issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE, Derek Abbott, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Adelaide in Australia, has concluded that nuclear power cannot be globally scaled to supply the world’s energy needs for numerous reasons. The results suggest that we’re likely better off investing in other energy solutions that are truly scalable.

In his analysis, Abbott explores the consequences of building, operating, and decommissioning 15,000 reactors on the Earth, looking at factors such as the amount of land required, radioactive waste, accident rate, risk of proliferation into weapons, uranium abundance and extraction, and the exotic metals used to build the reactors themselves.

From the summary of limits: [1 of 8]...

•Exotic metals: The nuclear containment vessel is made of a variety of exotic rare metals that control and contain the nuclear reaction: hafnium as a neutron absorber, beryllium as a neutron reflector, zirconium for cladding, and niobium to alloy steel and make it last 40-60 years against neutron embrittlement. Extracting these metals raises issues involving cost, sustainability, and environmental impact. In addition, these metals have many competing industrial uses; for example, hafnium is used in microchips and beryllium by the semiconductor industry. If a nuclear reactor is built every day, the global supply of these exotic metals needed to build nuclear containment vessels would quickly run down and create a mineral resource crisis. This is a new argument that Abbott puts on the table, which places resource limits on all future-generation nuclear reactors, whether they are fueled by thorium or uranium.

I have not seen any need for exotic materials in LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) and I see a 200 year known supply of thorium even taking into account usage growth and population growth. See www.energyfromthorium.com for details.

So obvious. This is a metaphor for the world. I always find myself thinking, as debates rage over cars, or buses, or dog collars, it really doesn't matter, nothing scales to 9 - 12 billion people. Nothing. The interactions are too complex, the Liebig's Minimums too numerous. Any attempt at a techno fix will miss something critical that will result in some form of criticality, whether it be physical, supply-oriented, economic, political; it doesn't matter. There is simply nothing to debate: It is power down and massive reduction in consumption, or it is the end.

Right, NOTHING scales if we just keep getting more of us- That's why I have this depressing feeling right at the moment- At last, the tech I have been trying to promote for a generation is about to take off- small solar thermal, I should be feeling Great!-- but then I have to think-- what's it gonna be used for? Making more people, making the disaster more bigger, that's what.

Call that making the world a better place? Nah.

So shouldn't we be talking more about this? Stock market up and down? Who cares.

I keep thinking of the quick retort of my rich sister in Palo Alto when I gave her the pitch about population. In answer to my question of what to do with the inevitable horde of migrants, she shot out the thought that everybody thinks of and nobody says _" kill 'em and feed ' em to the servants".

I am trying to think of something better. So far, no luck.

Evolution in action.

Yep, that's the right one,. We know enough about DNA and all that to go off in a corner of the lab and evolve the next step right quick. Inject those eggs into some unsuspecting mamas, The resulting next steps will do to us what we did to the neanderthals- wipe 'em out in no time flat.

Trouble is of course, the planet has suffered a deep deep wound from us, and that next step had better be really good or too late.

OTOH, that's the definition of the next step, right? So now I can relax and go back to playing with my solar toys.

BTW, all you science fiction fans could probably cite quite a few stories on the above theme- it is too obvious to have been ignored. Any recommendations for some entertaining reading not too shocking for this old geezer to absorb just before bed time?

James Tiptree, Jr. wrote several stories along those lines. "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" and "The Screwfly Solution" come to mind.

Both are superb stories.

Consider rereading BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley. Now there was a writer who was truly ahead of his time. Although the main point of the book is to satirize the English class system, it is great science fiction. I suspect that we now have the technology needed to put the Brave New World into effect. But first we need a drug like Huxley's soma . . . .

Thanks to you both. I shall look up Leanan's suggestions with anticipation. As to Huxley- know it more or less by heart, way too depressing., I was a sci fiction enthusiast until after the war when it got too doomy for me, I should go back and take a look. Always thought that a major part of the the really good thinking was there. And fun too. I did a little myself-- surprise! it turned out to be even doomier than the stuff I objected to. So back to hardware, which just tells the simple truth.

For those who need to perk up their blood pressure.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Addresses the Nuclear Energy Assembly

..."If Republicans represent the all-of-the above approach, the Obama administration represents the none-of the above approach -- unless of course, [if] you want to sell them some wind turbines, solar panels, or any other technology that we all support, but which is insufficient to meet the needs of our economy.

"Thankfully, other nations don't treat their resources the way the U.S. treats its. If they did, today's energy crisis would be even worse than it already is.

Possibly a Fruedian slip there.

Oh yah; he used the phrase 'common sense' 3 times.

The phrase "Common sense" was tested on control groups as a persuasive term. The pollsters have been testing the phraseology for years and all the Rs like to use the same key words to make their cases. Ds have them too. LOL.

"it don't make much sense
that common sense
don't make no sense
no more."

John Prine, 1975

"It's a song about the American dream only existing in the hearts and minds of immigrants until they live here long enough for democracy to make them cold, cynical and indifferent, like all us native Americans. It don't make no sense."

"it don't make much sense that common sense don't make no sense no more."

Perhaps the biggest problem we have in this world is that "common" sense is so uncommon.

Many years ago a niece of mine, a young nurse working the night shift at a small rural hospital in Australia, was called into the hospital on her day off to meet with the administrator who managed the hospital. Fearing the worst, she showed up at the appointed time.

"I'm accepting a job running a larger hospital," he said. "And I'm recommending you as my replacement."

"Why me?" She ran off the names of four or five people with more seniority and better qualifications.

"Because you have common sense. None of them do."

She applied for the job, got it, and is now a senior manager in outback health services.

I was rather expecting a comment on Prine. His songs are running through my mind more and more now, always right on "today's issue."

But to get back to the original thread, too often people, like McConnell, use the term to cover for something they know little about, spouting the first, obvious answer that comes along. Or they know enough about why not, just choose to ignore it.

I imagine your niece was one of those with organizational skills, and one who can quickly size up the pros and cons of a situation correctly, in a manner that doesn't alienate others. In retrospect, the solution is obvious, just takes most of us a while to get there. For lack of a better, encompassing term, we call it common sense.

S - I think it's unfair to say President Obama is completely in the "none of the above" group. If you recall there is a brand new coal fired electric plant about to begin construction on the Texas Gulf Coast. And they can begin now because they've just been issued their final permits from the current administration. So who says the president doesn't support the burning of the greatest source of green house gases among all the hydrocarbon sources. It's only fair to give credit where credit is due. So at least in this one instance the R's are being unfair to President Obama.

BTW: the huge amount of coal to be burned at the plant for the next few decades will be shipped in by rail from...wait for it...wait for it ...wait for it...ILLINOIS. Good to have friends from the Land of Lincoln, eh?

BTW: I also think the press is being unfair to the president. I've not seen one mention of this project. I'm sure if the public were made aware the polls would show a little positive response. At least from the conservative side of the fence.

I think it's unfair to say President Obama is completely in the "none of the above" group.

The R's learned years ago to never let facts get in the way of a valuable "talking point". Maybe if we still had a good old fashioned press who was willing to scream "liar-liar pants on fire". But, thats considered to be discourteous, so it just isn't done anymore.

To the point where they have discovered that it is less damaging to their reputation to admit to lying than to let people believe that they don't know the truth.

Obama is supplying 2 billion dollars of loan guarantees for TEPCOs two new nuclear plants on the Gulf of Mexico. He is funding the design of three (four?) new nuclear plant designs (gen-4).

ed - If part of those plans included the $48 billion expansion of the S Texas Nuclear Plant in Matagrda County, Texas. The project has been indefinately postphoned. Haven't heard a specific reason but it appears related to the problems in Japan. A huge loss for the county: 8,000+ jobs for 4 years.

"None of this is my own opinion, well it is my opinion, but it also happens to be backed up"
--Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Ah. Double-speak. Hollow be thy name.

"In short, we need to throw away the old playbook and face this crisis with the kind of creativity, independence, and common-sense that the American people [Tea Party People] are demanding of us. ...
The simple reality is that ... The sun isn't running the blender [in your kitchen, and] the wind isn't going to take kids to school.

We [Americans have] got the resources. We've got the technology. We need the jobs. And Americans have struggled enough. Let's come together on common-sense solutions that recognize our own [exceptionalist] potential."

here's the link again to that great common sense speech

The Factors That Will Cause $6-Per-Gallon Gas

As gas prices continue to rise, some analysts believe drivers could soon be paying $6 per gallon. Here's a look at the contributing factors. (Gas prices are influenced by more than supply and demand. Find out what determines the price you pay at the pump.

Saraph, thank you for the URL. I've included the summary from the article.

The Bottom Line
Though individuals have no control over gas prices, steps can be taken to reduce the amount of gas that each person must purchase. Driving less - by carpooling, avoiding unnecessary trips, combining errands, and using alternative means of transportation, like walking and biking - is the single most effective way to save money at the pump. Drivers can also improve gas mileage by making sure tires are properly inflated, turning off the car instead of idling whenever practical (idling gets zero miles per gallon), driving slower and avoiding rapid acceleration.

President Obama said recently that higher gas and oil prices "are weighing on the minds and pocketbooks of every American family." Political turmoil, a weak U.S. dollar, a strong hurricane season, and increased demand as the summer driving season heats up could all contribute to even higher gas prices over the next six months. (Don't believe the water-cooler talk. Big oil companies aren't to blame for high prices.

Airfare Expert: Gas prices and airfares are joined at the hip

You know this intuitively, but sometimes it's nice to see it in black and white: As the price at the pump goes, so goeth airfares. Check out the chart at the bottom of this article comparing the cost of jet fuel to the average cost of the cheapest roundtrip airline tickets to and from the top 50 cities by passenger traffic in the nation, and it pretty much tells the tale.

Geez. Italians were worried about Rome being destroyed by an earthquake. Instead, it was Spain that was hit.

Jeez, I wonder if Gail is still there? ...Gail?

This happened about 800 Kms from Barbastro (the place of the conference), 500 Kms from Madrid so it is not at all likely that anyone except the people in Murcia was affected.

Buildings should not be collapsing in a 5.3 earthquake. Either the current magnitude estimate is far too low, or those buildings were extremely poorly built. The linked article says that a new three story building collapsed, not some 200 year old relic. I'd bet the magnitude is revised upward and the contractor gets sued for shoddy construction.

It was only 1km deep. USGS Damage predictions are consistent with what is being reported.

According to the USGS "shakemap", 27,000 people experienced level 7 shaking ("Very Strong") and a further 34,000 level 6 shaking ("Strong"). Even earthquake resistant buildings are vulnerable to damage at these levels. See http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/pager/events/us/c0003c5s/index.html

It was only 1km deep.

Sounds a lot like Cristchurch. If you just looked at the magnitude, you'd just blow it off as too small to cause any kind of problem. But very shallow, means that localized damage can be significant.

Yes people should not be getting killed in a Magnitude 5.3 earthquake, especially not in a first-world country, and new buildings should not be collapsing. They shouldn't just sue the building contractor, they should send him to jail as a warning to other builders that incompetence will not be tolerated.

I was thinking back to when I was in Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital of Peru. The tour guide (a descendant of the Incas) pointedly mentioned that the Spanish cathedral had fallen down several times in earthquakes, while the old Inca walls were still standing. Then he pointed out the architectural details that the ancient Incas used to keep their walls standing during earthquakes. It was very interesting. None of the walls were straight, none of the doors or windows were square, and it was all about earthquake resistance.

Level 7 Shaking ("Very Strong") Potential Structure Damage (USGS)

Type        Damage
Vulnerable  Moderate/Heavy
Resistant   Moderate

At these levels I don't find it that surprising that some buildings have collapsed. I'd hate to think what would happen if a UK city was hit with Level 7 shaking.

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake should only cause minor damage to buildings, at most. Properly constructed buildings should not collapse.

Earthquake Magnitude Scale
Magnitude Earthquake Effects Number Each Year
2.5 or less Usually not felt. 900,000
2.5 to 5.4 Only causes minor damage. 30,000
5.5 to 6.0 Slight damage to buildings. 500
6.1 to 6.9 May cause a lot of damage. 100
7.0 to 7.9 Major earthquake. Serious damage. 20
8.0 or greater Great earthquake. Total destruction. Every 5 to 10 years

According to the US Geological Service, The Spanish earthquake was just one of over 60 Earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and greater recorded in the world in the last 7 days. They are not a rare occurance and buildings should be built to withstand them. Buildings should not collapse just because the ground shakes a little.

FAQs - Earthquake Effects & Experiences

Q: Why do earthquakes in other countries seem to cause more damage and casualties than earthquakes in the U.S.?

A: There is more damage and more deaths from earthquakes in other parts of the world primarily because of buildings which are poorly designed and constructed for earthquake regions, and population density.

Your scale above says nothing about the depth of the earthquake. As such it isn't very helpful. a 5.3 1km down is far worse than an 8.0 100km deep if you happen to be directly above it.

The USGS last 7 days list you link to confirms that the Spanish quake was easily the least deep quake recorded in that period.

having visited other countries, I am a strong proponent of improving building designs in other countries to withstand earthquakes. Canadian buildings are very earthquake resistant, not because we have a lot of earthquakes, but just because we have better building standards.

This is what happens when we have a similar size earthquake in Canada:

Magnitude 5.0 earthquake rattles Eastern Ontario

Emergency officials are now assessing the damage after a magnitude 5.0 earthquake rocked Eastern Ontario and surrounding areas around 1:41 p.m. on Wednesday, and urging residents to check their own homes for any problems. Most homes are built to sustain moderate earthquake damage, but those in houses that are approaching or older than 100 years old should pay special attention to the foundations, brickwork and other areas of the house, officials said.

Sirens filled the ByWard Market and other areas of Ottawa in the minutes after the powerful quake, although there were no reports of widespread, major damage. "We had alarm bells, some small fires because people evacuated leaving pots on stoves, some very minor structural damage in some cases," said John de Hooge, head of Ottawa's emergency services.

Biggest in 100 years

The quake, the most powerful to hit the region in a century, swayed buildings and pushed pictures off the wall across the area.

Evacuations take place

Gridlock ensued in downtown Ottawa as thousands of public servants were released from their jobs and jammed on to the Queensway and other major arteries to head to the suburbs. "Probably the biggest I've ever seen in Ottawa," said one bystander to CTV Ottawa. "Pretty frightening."

"We've experienced one of the largest earthquakes in the history of the City of Ottawa," said Mayor Larry O'Brien. "But it looks like we have gone through it mostly unscathed. Scary incident for all us."

This is what happens when we have a similar size earthquake in Canada:

That quake was 22km deep according to the latest USGS estimate (16km reported initially) Max surface shaking in populated areas was only Level 5 (32K population) and Level 4 (2.5 million includes Ottawa) and was rated "Green" by the USGS. The Spanish quake was 1km deep. The surface ground accelerations were much higher in the Spanish quake than in the Canadian quake.

This is what the USGS web site you cited actually said:

Earthquake Shaking Alert Level: YELLOW

Alert Information

Yellow alert level for economic losses. Some damage is possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Spain. Past events with this alert level have required a local or regional level response. Green alert level for shaking-related fatalities. There is a low likelihood of casualties. (Italics mine).

The fact that there were a significant number of people killed indicates that Spain needs to improve its building standards. The area that had the earthquake is very tectonically active.

Spain needs to improve its building standards.

Easier said than done when you have a struggling economy, 21% unemployment and still have a generation or two with memories of life under a recent dictatorship.

Spain is not as 'modernised' as the rest of Western Europe, despite what might be said about it's booming economy in recent years - it still bears much fresher scars than those of WWII.

The USGS prediction was for a 30% chance of deaths in the range 1-10 (4% chance of between 10 and 100) against a reported actual death toll of 8-10. You can say that the death toll is on the higher side of the prediction but it is not inconsistent with it.

I repeat again the quake was only 1km deep. It will be interesting to see the actual ground accelerations involved near the epicentre. Even the shallow Christchurch 6.3 was much deeper at 5km. The USGS initially listed Christchurch as Yellow but I notice that has been re-estimated and is now shown as "Red".

Some buildings do collapse in Level 7 Shaking everywhere in the world. Even in Japan a few earthquake proof buildings collapsed in Level 7 shaking in the recent 9.0 (Tokyo and Fukushima experienced Level 7). The much greater damage caused by the tsunami meant there was little reporting of the few earthquake collapsed buildings though but they did happen.

Richter Magnitude is a terrible scale for estimating damage on its own.

Ghung, I believe she is busy working on a project.

From BBC
Why are Americans so angry about petrol prices?

So what is it about the American relationship with gas that makes it such an important issue?

...It signifies mobility, freedom and personal liberty, says Dan Neil, motoring correspondent on the Wall Street Journal.

"Anger is probably more tied up with a wider sense of decline and also a loss of privilege.

"Cheap gas has been one of the prerogatives of the American Empire so people have become accustomed to it in a way which is somehow associated with our ability to wield our will around the world.

..."It's a very big country and the entire infrastructure is predicated on scandalously cheap energy.

I love listening to American's complain about high gas prices - they get so emotional about it. And it's even more entertaining reading the comments on articles such as the one above. You always hear the same excuses over and over again:

  • We live out in a rural area and therefore need to drive a lot to get to work, school, stores, church, etc. Then why do you live in a rural area? Because gas was cheap when you moved there and you thought it would stay cheap forever?
  • We live in a place where it snows in the winter and therefore need a big honking 4 x 4. I have lived in places where it snowed a lot and never ever owned or needed a 4 x 4. I simply switched to snow tires in there winter, and never a needed a 4 x 4 because the roads were plowed. On roads that weren't plowed, the swow was so deep that no 4 x 4 could get through.
  • We need to tow our travel trailer as well as snowmobile, power boat, and ATV trailers and therefore need a big honking 4 x 4. It's never mentioned why you NEED any of these recreational pollution devices.
  • We need a huge SUV, otherwise how would we drive our kid's soccer team around town? The answer is that you don't ever need to drive a soccer team around town. I used to bicycle to my soccer practice or games if they were within half an hour bike ride. If not, the other kid's parents would give me a ride. There was always enough parents with cars to spread the load around, so there was never a need for a Ford Excursion or bus.
  • American's are bigger than Europeans and wouldn't fit inside European compact cars. Actually, Northern Europeans are quite tall, and there's usually enough legroom in compacts. Although I'm not sure if large American derrieres would fit inside compacts, but I would ague that American derrieres are large because of all the driving.
  • Distances are much greater in America, and therefore we need to drive our big honking 4 x 4 more than Europeans drive their micro cars. The Eurasian continent is more than twice the size of North America, and besides, distances are same everywhere. Does the size of the continent where you live really affect how much you need to drive? I think what people mean is that because of poor urban planning, distances to work and services are greater in the US. The population density of Russia is lower than the US, yet they don't “need” to drive as much as Americans.
  • Cities are so spread out in the US and transit is useless, therefore we need to drive our big honking 4 x 4 a lot. I would argue that that American cities are spread out because gas has always been cheap. Expensive gas would have prevented a lot of sprawl from happening.
  • Building electrified rail lines in the US won't work because cities are so spread out. A chicken and egg scenario. Back in the Wild West days, passenger rail was a viable transportation method even though the population density was much lower than it is today. Compact villages appeared around train stations just like in Europe. I would suggest that US cities are spread out because freeways were built and rail lines shut down, not the other way around.
  • Riding transit degrades my liberty and pride. Only an American can explain why this is the case.

My old Z71, could drive through almost a meter of unplowed. The only problem was other idiots who couldn't handle snow would get stuck and block the road. But then back in those days, my snow driving skill was probably one in a million.
But, i agree with you, maybe one in a thousand people have the sort of lifestyle where they need that sort of capability. And I'm too old to do it again.

Frugal - valid points as usual. I'll take a shot at the degrading aspect of public transit. But this probably only applies to me and a minority. Growing up the idea of escaping public transit was something of a fantasy...sorta like having air conditioning in New Orleans. LOL. In fact a good day was when I had the bus fare and didn't have to walk. I didn't buy my first car until 25 yo after 6 years of college and working for Mobil Oil for a year. My future wife and I would take the bus/street car on our dates. Didn't exactly make her daddy think I was such a great catch. In those early days I would sometimes just take a drive on a Sunday afternoon just for the fun of being able to drive.

But driving in Houston traffic can change your attitude quickly. Always loved it when I had the opportunity to ride the commuter public transit as an alternative. But Houston ain't NYC...local transit service is cr*p. Excepting the commuter bus lines I would guess 90%+ of the folks who ride public transit here do so because they can't afford a car. At one point I would have ridden the local bus to work but it would have required a 2.5 hr bus trip (one way, mind you) vs. a 20 minute drive. I would have had to take a bus to d/t Houston from the west side and then transfer to another bus to take me back to the west side. Even now I could take a commuter bus in but since I leave the house at 5:30 there's no traffic so I would substitute a 30 minute drive with a 2 hr bus trip...I would have to take two locals after getting off the commuter bus. But that doesn't matter anyway: the commuter bus does start running until the same time I'm due at the office.

And this is in one of the largest US cities. Can't afford to improve public transit in Houston but we can afford 100's of millions every years to expand the highway system to the suburbs. And that's the easiest to explain: world class denial.

Rockman, so the Houston transit system is so bad that you could walk to your destination just a fast? I've always wondered if Americans deliberately make their transit system so bad that they're unusable? Then it's just a matter of saying that it would be a waste of money to build more transit because nobody uses it.

Here in Vancouver, I'll be on the bus going to work in a few minutes. The majority of fellow riders will middle class people going to work. It's not really that degrading and it gets me to work in 35 minutes.

It takes me 25 minutes to cycle home from work. Or 30 minutes in the car. Or an hour on the bus. Or 75 minutes to walk.

I cycle so much and walk so little that a 75 minute walk kills me for a day.

If I drove to work it would take 15 minutes to get to the parking deck and 15 minutes to walk to my office.
It takes 35 minutes to ride my bike. It saves $1000 in parking fees and about $2500 in car maintenance and gasoline.
Furthermore, I cancel my gym membership and save another $500 a year.

"Rockman, so the Houston transit system is so bad that you could walk to your destination just a fast?"

He didn't give the distance - but yeah - almost, anyway, to the extent that it's local buses stopping at every corner (which not only consumes time but assures that they're unsynchronized to the traffic lights.) I don't know of any place big enough to have buses where a local bus trip will run much faster than 4-6mph overall - including walking to and from the stops, waiting, and waiting again for a transfer (or two) - unless one gets to cherry-pick both time and destinations (start and end points) with great care and precision.

In New York City, trains and ferries were faster than buses, so I used to go about 12 miles in about 90 minutes overall (schedules have since been cut so it would take a bit longer now.) Of course, if you can cherry-pick a trip running some distance between two spots adjacent to stops on the same express subway line - i.e. no bus and no waiting to transfer - you could conceivably make 30 mph overall. However, other trips may cherry-pick very badly indeed, such as crosstown buses in Manhattan at maybe 1-1.5mph.

Most places aren't nearly crammed and jammed as New York City, so service frequency will be proportionally less, and very possibly never on Sunday. The simple reality becomes that you need to have a lot of time on your hands before it becomes worthwhile to wait an hour and then creep along at a snail's pace, if the bus is even running at the day and time you need to take the trip. And you may need to become something of a hermit, since evening meetings and cultural events will be scheduled early in the evening, based on (short) car travel times with no waiting on a schedule, and might be half-over before you would even arrive.

So, stuff is being built here and there, but it's a drop in the bucket, and I wouldn't look for that to change anytime soon. Oftentimes, there's just no practical way to make the time factor pencil out, so too few people would have enough use for the service to make it viable (even with full capital subsidy and 2/3 operating subsidy.)

Frugal - Allow me to be blunt: the folks who depend upon mass transit in Houston are poor and not white. And there falls the priorities...or lack there of. I don't know if Houston is worse than other big cities but the poor are given a lot of lip service with little follow up. I live outside of Houston. I've gone twice before my city council and proposed adding a SIDEWALK along a service road near my home. Rather feaking basic service IMHO. A couple of lower income apartment complexes along the road and the folks tend to walk on the highway service road instead of the mud/grass. And that includes the folks in wheel chairs. We're ony talking 2-3 blocks...not miles of new sidewalks. The council thanked me for my imput. And of course nothing has been done after 3 years. And now budgets are tighter then ever so we know what that means.

This is the basic problem - Green public transit is scarcely supported or
recognized in the USA even by alleged Environmentalists who can only tout electric cars. Since 2008 over 150 US cities CUT their already dismal public transit.
The usual excuses why the US cannot run public transit are just that - excuses.
In fact according to the Federal Highway Administration itself 79% of Americans live
in urbanized areas. That means that most of those COULD be using public transit
IF it was made available.
The classic case is New Jersey - we have a higher population density than China,
and 50% of our population lives within a few miles of a train station.
We already have 8 major RUNNING Rail lines in Northern New Jersey with 70% of our
population, as well as the Hoboken-Bergen Light Rail and Newark Light Rail/Subway.
These are Rail lines which actually run trains every weekday so it is not as if
they even have to be built. BUT there is frequently NO weekend, off peak hours
service, no shuttles to destinations, and no information available on connecting
buses when those are available. One of the major transportation arteries is
Route 287 which runs a great outer beltway connecting North to Central/Coastal
New Jersey which does not run a single bus.
In 2008 our Democratic former Goldman Sachs Gov Corzine cut 18% of train service
on my train line. In 2010 our newly elected Teabag Republican Gov Christie cut
another 7 trains, shuttles and bus service while upping off-peak fares 60%
and cancelling the NJ-NYC tunnel on the drawing boards for over 50 years finally
being built. Last year Gov Christie took the tunnel money for transit and
increased the highway building budget from $895 Million to $1,035 Million!
What was especially ironic and darkly amusing was when Gov Christie cut NJ Transit's operating budget by $300 Million while spending $440 Million on
"traffic decongestion" by building more highway lanes!
As if the best way to "decongest" roads is to build evermore highwy lanyes instead of getting people out of their cars
altogether and get them to take Green public transit.
I believe one way to get this to change is to insist that all NJ Transit
Board members and Dept of Transportation executives go for just 1 month without
They would quickly change their tune as did the Star-Ledger reporter who
tried going without a car for a month and found 2 1/2 hour trips that should take
30 minutes etc.

But the change will come...
We will not have a choice eventually if we wish to get anywhere....
The good news is that yesterday for the first time since 2008 people had to
stand up on my usual train and I have seen new people show up at my train station
I never saw before.

The bad news is that when oil prices plunge us into the vaunted "double-dip"
recession/depression then oil prices will fall again and unless gas is
$4 per gallon most Americans are in total denial about peak oil and the
realities we face so they will do nothing.

You are right, but I tend to be a little bit "bearish" on cities/areas that have substantial poor, ghetto populations, regardless of what the underlying transportation infrastructure is.

I am all in favor of auto alternatives - walking, cycling paths, buses, public transport, etc. In fact some combination of those will become a necessity. But let's just say I don't plan to build my post-peak future in Detroit or Newark.

The sheer sprawl of new build US cities is something that always shocks me - coming from a European perspective. I can contemplate running across an average city street in Europe - in Houston I could have 4 lanes each side to negotiate. Forget any jaywalking issue - it is too far to 'nip' across the street - unlike just about any old town over here!

Then you have huge car parks buffering every suburban shopping unit. You have malls in Houston with a bigger car park 'foot' print, than the entire area encompassing my London suburban manor - including dozens of streets, a railway station, a local sports centre, several bus stops, half a dozen pubs and maybe 100+ shops. I can walk the entire length of the high street, past the railway station, the pubs, 3 bus stops and into my house - in less distance than if I had parked the car on some outer slab of concrete, the wrong side of of the food hall at your average suburban mall! That sprawl is a substantial issue for any new public transport system.

You may or may not like it, but there's no actual need to be shocked. Population densities per km2:
Texas: 37.2
France: 116
Germany: 229
The Netherlands: 1040
There's never been a need for Texans to cram themselves into stuffy Parisian-style garrets, not with so much room in Texas. Eurasia is a big continent all right, but borders, language barriers, wars, etc., have long confined western Europeans to tiny overcrowded countries, and left them with a crabbed, provincial outlook with respect to these matters, despite outward appearances.

Also, from what little I recall hearing from the oldest old-timers when I was a child, horse-drawn buggies were on the whole slower even than modern local buses, making a major and infrequent expedition of just a five-mile family trip into town. But unlike in Europe, much of the immigration and development in the USA took place as the horse-and-buggy days were ending, or afterward. So except for the original settlements mainly along the Eastern coastal margin, there was little need to be straitjacketed to medieval parameters, not for travel time and not for land area either.

That's not to say that tourists spending $4000 on 10-day European tours won't enjoy their short stays, but many would most definitely not like living there on normal after-tax paychecks. I've heard it all from expats, even some who might do it again - crowding, confiscatory taxes reducing the paycheck to a child's allowance, exorbitantly costly cramped housing - with respect to both Europe and Japan. (And oh, the impenetrable mysteries of trams and trains - but let's not even go there.) On the flip side I've also watched Europeans gawk at the wide-open spaces here with their jaws dropped. It's one thing to look on a map, and it's another altogether to come here from a crowded country that can be crossed in a day or two by bicycle in at least one direction, and see all that land in person. YMMV, but there it is.

That's not to say that tourists spending $4000 on 10-day European tours won't enjoy their short stays, but many would most definitely not like living there on normal after-tax paychecks. I've heard it all from expats, even some who might do it again - crowding, confiscatory taxes reducing the paycheck to a child's allowance, exorbitantly costly cramped housing - with respect to both Europe and Japan.

I have reasons of my own against moving to Europe, but these would not be among them. The crowding is not a big problem when you live among people who know not how to act in a crowd. The taxes? All I have to do is look at the infrastructure in Europe and decide it's worth it. The housing is cramped, but the beauty of it is in most of Europe, the moment you cross a town boundary, you're among farms. The sheer bliss of being in meadows and raspberry fields the moment you step out of Amsterdam, of seeing white asparagus being grown 5 steps outside of Innsbruck, no acres upon acres of Kunstlerian Hell, what can I say? I was impressed. Outside of Vermont, Cape Cod, and Marin Country, CA, what parts of the US can boast that?

(And oh, the impenetrable mysteries of trams and trains - but let's not even go there.) On the flip side I've also watched Europeans gawk at the wide-open spaces here with their jaws dropped. It's one thing to look on a map, and it's another altogether to come here from a crowded country that can be crossed in a day or two by bicycle in at least one direction, and see all that land in person. YMMV, but there it is.

The first time I arrived in New Mexico, looking forward to the famed wide open spaces, I landed in Albuquerque, and rented a car to Los Alamos. And I noticed that every last foot of highway I drove along was marked with barbed wire. Especially through the Indian Pueblos. From ABQ to Los Alamos, through Santa Fe, and from Santa Fe to Taos. Every. Last. Foot. Frankly, that impressed me more than the spaces themselves, and not in a good way. I'll take Tyrol over that.

Population densities per km2:

United States 32
Sweden 21
Finland 16
New Zealand 16
Norway 13
Canada 3.4
Australia 3.0

All the other countries have much higher public transit ridership than the US. Even in Australia and Canada, cities have public transit ridership that is 2 or 3 times as high as comparably sized US cities. Certainly, low population density makes it more difficult to provide public transit, but that doesn't stop other countries from trying. The US just doesn't try.

The combination of low population density and good public services makes cities in other the low-density developed countries much more livable than those in the US. According to the Economist Intelligent Unit's list of the world's most livable cities, 9 of the 10 most livable cities in the world are in those countries listed above (4 in Australia, 3 in Canada, and 1 each in Finland and New Zealand). The most livable US cities were #29 and #30 on the list.

Also, the population of the US is concentrated along the coastlines, while the middle of the country is almost empty. The states along the Boston-Washington corridor and California are as densely populated as most of Europe. This is where freeways have stopped working, and electric rail transit would be a better choice.

Well, really, there's still no reason for oilfield-trash to be shocked. Given a climate where it's easy, such as in the USA, many people will spread out, and transit will be next to useless. Given the exceedingly harsh conditions in all the countries below the US in that list, it will be more difficult to spread out, and transit may remain more useful, because much of the population is confined to crowded places. Most of the terrain is too mountainous, too cold in winter, or too dry, so people tend to jam into the coastal plains or, in the case of Canada, into a very narrow strip along the US border. And yes, even in the US, the California and Northeast coasts are relatively crowded, which is why they have some fairly successful transit.

But most of the US population doesn't live in those two places, so on the whole, there's no need to be surprised about lack of transit. It's just too time-consuming where most people live, and you could never make it comprehensive enough to put nearly everybody within walking distance of a stop that gets decent service, short of running absolutely absurd numbers of empty buses at absolutely ruinous cost. Transit seems to have become an idee fixe, but much of the world is not Amsterdam and likely will not become so.

Most countries make a point of putting public transit in their cities, and at one time the cities of the US did have extensive public transit systems. For instance, in the first half of the 20th century the US had more streetcar lines than any other country in the world, and Southern California had the largest interurban electric rail system in the world.

However, after WWII, the US made a more-or-less unconscious decision to focus on freeways and abandon its rail transit infrastructure, primarily driven by the automobile and petroleum lobbies. Almost all of the US streetcar and interurban rail systems are gone now. In other countries, this process did not occur to the same extent, which is why they have more extensive public transit systems than the US.

In order to support public transit, cities need to be built out at a reasonably high population density, and recent developments in US cities do not have nearly enough population density to support transit. This is an unconscious decision by US cities to keep the density too low for public transit on the assumption that everyone would prefer to drive.

In the future world of declining oil production, many people will not be able to afford to drive, even in the US. If they don't have public transit, they will find themselves in a very difficult situation, trapped in the suburbs with no way to get anywhere.

Rockman, I always thought of Houston as the poster child for how NOT to design a city. It has no zoning, takes up a land area bigger than New Jersey, and has fewer buses than Calgary. OTOH, the freeway system cost more than it took the US to send a man to the moon. The population is about the same as metropolitan Toronto, but without the subways, streetcars, and commuter rail system (other than a "starter" light rail system).

And I always thought Toronto sprawled too much and was too car oriented, but there's bad and then there's really, really BAD!

It's partly a matter of taste, as well as Texas having plenty of usable land to spread out into, and Toronto not as much. However, much weaker zoning would be very helpful in a lot of US cities. Zoning laws are a major reason why it's necessary to drive miles to pick up a few groceries in the US; the ideal here is rigidly segregated single-use pods of enormous size. (Given the invention of 24/7 store hours, no one in his or her right mind, or who ever needs to sleep, would want to be next door to one any more, but nor do they really need to be miles and miles away.)

Toronto is surrounded by large areas of agricultural land. However, US zoning tends to encourage urban sprawl while zoning in other countries is more likely to discourage sprawl.

This is why Apuleius talks about being in meadows and raspberry fields just minutes outside of Amsterdam, and of white asparagus being grown 5 steps outside of Innsbruck. There are zoning controls preventing leapfrog development and converting agricultural land to urban land in those countries.

I love your post Frugal, you are spot on. Thank you.

Classic Car Commercials - Style


The propaganda has been unrelenting for decades...

My apologies in advance if this is inappropriate, but I think the newsworthiness of this rises to the level where it deserves a mention here outside of the normal Fukushima threads.

TEPCO just reported that they now believe a full core meltdown has occurred in the Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 1 reactor.


To me this is the most dramatic development since the explosion of the reactor buildings 2 months ago.

Can you give a comment on how serious this is, especially by looking at the whole situation and comparing it to Chernobyl, and what do you think will happen next?

I haven't followed the Fukushima threads at all, so I don't know the minor details, but I did listen to some ASPO speaks who said they think that over time, Fukushima will be deemed worse than Chernobyl(which I find an interesting take).

And I see that the US mainstream media is covering it with their usual gusto... which is to say, not at all.

Oh well - it's just a meltdown. I'm sure there's a case where someone was murdered or a kid is missing somewhere that needs 10 weeks of coverage devoted to it.

I saw this post last night before going to bed, and fully expected to wake up to a ton of replies. But only two?

It seems like the Oil Drum crowd has moved on also, along with the media. That or its this every-other-day drumbeat thing.

"Nothing to see here - please move on."


BBC has a follow up

Setbacks at Japan nuclear plant

a spokesman for the power giant said when a faulty gauge had been repaired, it showed water levels in the pressure vessel 5m (16ft) below the level needed to cover fuel rods.

"All the fuel is unprotected at this point and the water levels are below that," said Junichi Matsumoto.

He said there was likely to be a large leak in the pressure vessel, possibly caused by the fallen fuel.

"As for a meltdown, it is certain that it has crumbled and the fuel is located at the bottom (of the vessel)," he added

I doubt 'The Oil Drum Crowd has moved on..' ... just sometimes there's not much to say. I saw that news, and sadly nodded my head, as it confirmed my suspicions that all was not well over there.

It's been interesting to see the testing of the waters as Nuke Boosters have tried to make their case again as the furor calmed down..

Sounds like Fukushima is getting close to being an '8', whether they've designated the number yet or not. The amount of tech and auto industry that is now affected by this will possibly create noticable repercussions that weren't part of the Chernobyl situation.

But don't take the silence as disinterest. Sometimes 'Dead Air' is actually the sound of people thinking, thinking hard.

And they are killing all the animals. But this is already known, too. Sadder than I can think about...

There has been no real new news for quite awhile. A spatial listing of heavy element aerosol and contamination levels with time-axis' would be new... Meaningful engineering data... Assessments other than third party forensics and attention-seeking...

For those interested in nuclear power plant safety issues:


To B5b or Not To B5b


Fission Stories #39: Ripley Wouldn’t Believe It

as well as 'Fission Stories' 1-38...follow the 'fission stories' link right above the article

Is fusion finally here?

Fusion goes forward from the fringe

A Navy-funded effort to harness nuclear fusion power reports that its unconventional plasma device is operating as designed and generating "positive results" more than halfway through the project.

This is the design of the late Robert Bussard (of Star Trek fame).

I really hope so - looks encouraging!

But will it be too late?

It will with that attitude! ;-)

Haha, fair enough.

Suppose this Navy financed research bears rich and early fruit. If it works, then it can be a game changer--and it would tend to bear out one of the contentions of the cornucopians, namely, that necessesity is the mother of invention.

Of course, it is much too soon to come to any conclusions about this infant technology, but infants can grow into giants. I would be delighted with a technology that made both coal and fission irrelevant for generating electricity.

Two cheers for the military industrial complex.

The thing about nuclear fusion power is that, even more than other energy sources, Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) is the critical parameter. If it takes more energy to fuse the atoms than the energy you get back out, it's a losing proposition.

So far, other than hydrogen bombs, all the processes have been losing propositions. We'll see if this one is any different.

I am seriously considering building the (E-cat) fusion device that Rossi invented, to see if I can replicate some of the results.


They state that they now have more then 100 units operating throughout different parts of Europe, and around the world.
I will not know how successful this will be until I try it.
If anyone wishes to assist in investigating and also attempting to build one, contact me.
My info is in the profile section.

More power to you..

well, actually, I'm hoping it's 'more power from you', if it all works out.

Meantime, my fusion source has just come up over the horizon, and I have to put some Radiation shields in place before my wife's carpet gets faded..

Seriously, good luck and let us know how it's going.

Are you planning to buy one of his licenses?

Please be careful. I fear this has "scam" written all over it. Rossi got his degree from a diploma mill that has since been shut down. He's been trouble with the law before. At least one of the scientific "advisers" listed on his web site doesn't exist.


Nickel plated copper beads in a steel casing with an ionic solution, a thin felt lining for separation, one lead into the beads, one attached to the casing, and you will generate electric power. Not as much as is claimed, but that would be a problem with your setup, not with the design.

Oh, if you skip the lining, the reaction still happens, but the electricity loops around internally generating heat.

Yes, it does have "scam" written all over it. The nuclear physics they are using to explain it is complete nonsense.

Why "buy one of his licenses?" if I can make my own work ? (big IF there)
I do not have my hopes too high at this point, but the only way to find out more, is to try to build one.
The parts are not that expensive.

Thankyou for the replys.

Why was "DRUMBEAT MAY 11" removed from the main list of articles ?????

Government conspiracy ?????

Why "buy one of his licenses?"

Because that's (supposedly) the only way to get it to work. His results depend on "secret catalysts" which have not been publically disclosed, not even in the patent application.

Why was "DRUMBEAT MAY 11" removed from the main list of articles ?????

Government conspiracy ?????

No, just our standard operating procedure. The old Drumbeat is moved off the front page when the new one is posted. All the older Drumbeats can be found by clicking the "Drumbeat" link at the top of the page.

The old Drumbeat is always rolled off the main page when a new Drumbeat starts, now.

I am away from Oil drum for a few months, and they go and change things.
It's hard to keep up with technowlogy.
Thankyou for the updates.

Fewer Americans apply for jobless benefits

On the crucial labor front, applications for jobless benefits tumbled in the latest week. The fall reversed almost all of the sharp rise seen in the previous week, which suggests that the prior increase may have been due to temporary factors.

Meanwhile, retail sales rose in April for the 10th straight month, but much of that gain came from higher gas prices. It was also the smallest gain in nine months. Higher gas prices have helped drive overall inflation and raised worries that consumers will slow spending as long as they have to pay more to fill their tanks.

Crude oil falls below $96 as growth forecasts lowered

The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that U.S. gasoline demand dropped 2.4% last week, the largest drop in seven consecutive weeks of declines, while oil supplies grew last week by 3.8 million barrels, more than twice as much as what analysts expected.
"The world economy is clearly slowing," said Capital Economics in a report. "Rather than being in the early stages of a super-cycle, the prices of many industrial and agricultural commodities seem more likely to be forming bubbles which are set to burst."

The EIA has not reported 7 consecutive weeks of declines compared to the previous week, yet this lie keeps getting reported by the media as a fact. In fact just last week the 4-week running average of US gasoline supplied was at the highest value for the year so far. Also the drop last week compared to the week before was 1.3% not 2.4% as stated in the linked article, which is the drop compared to last year - not last week.

In any case I've seen the monthly reports revise the weekly gasoline supplied figures by anything up to 5% so talking about changes of the order of 1 or 2% based on the weekly reports is risky as the difference could well be revised away.

Nary a peep about oil subsidies and wars for oil security. It's all ethanol's fault. If only ethanol would go away, all would be fine:


The same author sees Chinese cars running on natural gas as the answer:


Bad Iowa vs. good Iowa. Or perhaps the author doesn't realize some Iowans are actually trying to do something about Peak Oil not just talk about it.

Tight pipeline capacity sends gas prices up

What in the name of supply and demand is going on?

While more oil is flowing into the U.S. pipeline terminals in Oklahoma from fields in Canada, there is a shortage of pipeline capacity to take that new oil to market, the U.S. Energy Information Agency said Wednesday.

Anyone care to comment on this story? A tight pipeline seem to be a bit out of place here.

It's fairly straightforward - there is lots of new pipeline capacity to take new Canadian oil sands production (and new North Dakota production) as far south as Cushing, Oklahoma, which is the primary market point for oil in the US, but there is very little pipeline capacity to take it on from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico, which is where most of the biggest US oil refineries are. The US pipeline system is designed to take imported oil north from the Gulf of Mexico to northern refineries, not imported Canadian oil south to the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result, new Canadian oil, new North Dakota oil, and even old Texas oil is piling up in the storage tanks at Cushing, with no way to get it to a refinery. This is depressing the prices at Cushing.

It's particularly bad since most of the big Gulf Coast refineries are capable of processing the heavy, sour crude that constitutes most of Canadian production these days. They are designed to process similarly low quality Venezuelan and Mexican oil, which is becoming less and less available due to declining oil production in those two countries. As a result they are having to compete with Europe, China, India, and other international consumers for higher cost oil.

Most other refineries which are designed to produces West Texas Intermediate, Arabian Light, Libyan or similar high quality oils can't handle the new Canadian crude. They could handle the new North Dakota crude, but the pipelines don't exist to get it to them.

And therefore the WTI spot price is about $97, while the Louisiana Sweet spot price is about $112 this morning.

And quite likely that $15 price differential will persist until they build a pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. It won't get much bigger than that because beyond that differential, people can make a profit moving oil by rail, barge, or truck to the coast.

Thanks for the explanation.

I was hoping that someone could direct me to articles on Oil Drum about hydraulic fracturing of tight natural gas deposits. I'm not looking for the rights and wrongs of it, just the basic technical details of how its done. More specifically - how is the fracturing pressure generated? Is it just a big high pressure/low flow pump, or is it some kind of ram or explosive?

Second, whats in the fracturing fluid? I know, I know - "it depends". But what sorts of things are generally in it? Biocide, propping agents (round sand), foams, gels? Lemonade, sunshine and happy thoughts? Or none of the above?

Thanks a bunch.

It's called hydraulic fracturing because they are injecting water under high pressure (using giant, high pressure pumps) to fracture the subsurface rock formation and open up cracks the gas and/or oil can flow to the well through. They add sand to act as a proppant to hold the fractures open when they turn the pumps off and the pressure drops. Water and sand are all they really require, but they usually add things like biocides to keep bacteria from growing, lubricants, detergents, surfactants, and all kinds of other weird stuff.

They might inject the other things even if they didn't frac the well, but it's convenient to put it in the frac fluid. If they don't do a workover on wells every so often, they will tend to plug off due to wax, algae, or other deposits building up, and things happening to the formation, so every so often they put down acid, biocides, hot oil, and other things to clean it up and get it flowing again. It's all in the interest of keeping the well producing for as long as possible at as high a rate as possible. Engineers lie awake at night thinking of new things to put down their wells to produce more oil and gas.

Hydraulic fracturing is not exactly a new technique. In 1953, the company I later started working for (Amoco) frac'ed the discovery well on the Pembina Cardium oil field. I think we frac'ed every other well in that field too, usually multiple times. Pembina is Canada's biggest oil field, but it wouldn't produce oil at all without frac'ing. Prior to the "discovery", several companies had drilled right through the oil field without finding it because the oil production was so low. The company I worked for looked at the well logs and said, "Wait a minute! There's oil there!" and hit it with some new technology. Then they got into frac'ing their gas wells, too.

I still have a "One Billion Barrels of Oil" pin celebrating the production from Pembina due to fracturing. The company is gone now, but the oil field is well on its way to producing its second billion barrels, and due to hydraulic fracturing and higher oil prices, the tight old Cardium Formation is the new "hot" oil play in Alberta. There are billions more barrels of oil left in it, the only hard part is getting them out.

It's a bit of a conceptual leap for people in the East, but in Alberta (and Texas), hydraulic fracturing is just business as usual to keep production up and those Eastern (and Northern) consumers from freezing in the dark. Sometimes it doesn't really seem worth the effort, though. Freezing in the dark could be considered the price of ignorance.

jim - here you...all you want to know and then some about frac'ing


Drought halts shipping on China's Yangtze

Drought on China's Yangtze river has led to historically low water levels that have forced authorities to halt shipping on the nation's longest waterway, the government and media said Thursday.

...The 6,300-kilometre Yangtze is China's longest waterway and is indispensable to the economies of many cities along its route.

The drought has left 400,000 people in Hubei province without drinking water and has threatened nearly 870,000 hectares (2.15 million acres) of farmland in the grain-growing region, the paper said.

Welcome Back! I had visions of the TOD servers floating slowly down the Mississippi ;-)

Europe Moves To End Passport-Free Travel In Migrant Row

European nations moved to reverse decades of unfettered travel across the continent when a majority of EU governments agreed the need to reinstate national passport controls amid fears of a flood of immigrants fleeing the upheaval in north Africa.

The Guardian revealed this week that the Gaddafi regime is allowing thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants on to overcrowded, unseaworthy ships in an apparently calculated attempt to use migration to pressure Nato and the EU countries against backing Libya's rebels.

While a consensus has emerged among EU governments on rowing back on Schengen, the European commission maintained that national passport and border controls could only be reintroduced "as a last resort", temporarily in extreme circumstances.

Read the whole thing

Fortress Europe is growing bigger and bigger!
(But is it all in vain anyway?)

Interesting play on the part of Gaddafi. Not that I have a particular stake in it.

I do vaguely recall though, on a much earlier Drumbeat, a Brit lecturing me on how the stronger countries need to act like the lions in the international arena, and that an attack on Gaddafi was warranted.

Well, you reap what you sow.

Will Europe once again tear itself apart, this time over the issue of African and/or Arab migration?

The Brits never really got over Empire. They've been busily recreating it at home by inviting the world to their crowded island.


If Mr. Tisdall gets his way, good luck. Hitler may very well have his revenge.

Ran across a couple more quasi-connected points on the connect-the-dot map. Seems like the military (industrial complex) wants to be our new best friend.

From AlJazeera - an interesting read

Global capitalism and 21st century fascism

...There are some key features of a 21st century fascism ...

1.The fusion of transnational capital with reactionary political power. This fusion had been developing during the Bush years and would likely have deepened under a McCain-Palin White House. In the meantime, such neo-fascist movements as the Tea Party as well as neo-fascist legislation such as Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB1070, have been broadly financed by corporate capital. Three sectors of transnational capital in particular stand out as prone to seek fascist political arrangements to facilitate accumulation: speculative financial capital, the military-industrial-security complex, and the extractive and energy (particularly petroleum) sector. ...

This next one has BAD IDEA written all over it.

Operation Jellyfish Takes Intelligence Operatives to Frontlines of Fortune 500 Companies

Former Blackwater and Able Danger operators create private sector firm providing intelligence services to the CEO's in multinational corporations.

..."In a world where global energy, finance and military operations are increasingly and simultaneously inter-connected issues, the ability to provide a bridge of intelligence from the battlefield to the boardroom is vitally important," said Jellyfish President Michael Bagley.

and a 'shotgun' marriage

In a Green Town, Activists See Red Over Lockheed Martin

Pride in these homegrown efforts runs deep, and so some Burlingtonians were livid when Mayor Bob Kiss announced a partnership late last year with Lockheed Martin, the military contractor, to work on clean-energy projects.

...Asked about the criticism of Lockheed as a weapons manufacturer, the spokesman, Dean Acosta, said the company could in fact use its evolving clean-energy expertise to help make the world safer. “As we strategically assess future trends,” he said, “we see scarce resources — particularly energy resources — as potential sources of conflict. Through our experience in energy and expertise in complex systems engineering and 120,000 innovating minds, Lockheed Martin is well positioned to address energy security.”


Jane’s Energy, Environment, Defense and Security Conference 2011. It seems that the MIC is intent on carving out a slice of the pie - How Municipal, National and Regional Infrastructure Requirements Can Be Met by the Aerospace, Defense and Security Sector.

Louisiana Warns Opening Floodway Threatens Oil, Gas Production

Louisiana officials are warning oil and natural-gas producers in the state's Atchafalaya Basin to brace for prolonged flooding if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opens a major spillway to lower water levels along the swollen Mississippi River.

The Morganza Floodway, which lies north of Baton Rouge, La., was designed to divert floodwaters from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya Basin, a vast swamp and major oil field that cuts through south Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation estimates that 2,264 wells lie in that area and would be inundated if the Corps of Engineers carries out its plans. Those wells produce the equivalent of 19,278 barrels of oil per day—about 10% of the state's onshore production, the state agency estimated.

S - Causing me a little grief also. Have a barge well drilling in the way of the flood. Probably won't have to shut down driling but had to move the shore base to a different dock. Had to bring in some extra supply barges. Probably cost us a few hundred thuusand extra by the time it's over. Just part of doing business in a swamp.

Exxon says oil barrel should be in $60-$70 range

The head of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) stopped short of blaming speculators for the run-up in oil prices, but he told Congress on Thursday that based only on the fundamentals of supply and demand, the price of oil should be in the range of $60 to $70 a barrel.

and http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-11/exxon-s-tillerson-says-higher-o...

Rising resource use threatens future growth, warns UN

The world is set to consume three times more natural resources than current rates by the middle of the century, according to a United Nations report.

It predicts that humanity will annually use about 140 billion tonnes of fossil fuels, minerals and ores by 2050.

...In the report's three scenarios, the most optimistic one would see annual per capita consumption return to 2000 levels, with 50bn tonnes being consumed each year.

But the authors acknowledge that the measures required to deliver that scenario would be so restrictive and unappealing to politicians that it is almost a non-starter.

They also admit that even this scenario is too little for some scientists, who feel it would not cut consumption and associated emissions to sustainable levels.

Rising resource use threatens future growth, warns UN

That headline says a lot. It says we are concerned about whether we (humankind) can expand, grow bigger, more ominous and consumptive than we are already are. The worry is not for other species or the health of the planet, but for our evolving grandisement via expansion.

Might have trouble growing? Ahh, that's a shame!

From BBC

Wikileaks cables show race to carve up Arctic

Secret US embassy cables released by Wikileaks show nations are racing to "carve up" Arctic resources - oil, gas and even rubies - as the ice retreats.

They suggest that Arctic states, including the US and Russia, are all pushing to stake a claim.

Wikileaks Cables: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/12_05_11_wikicables_artic.pdf

Weather Disasters- over 14 billion and rising.

A record number of billion-dollar weather disasters for so early in the year
The U.S. has already had five weather disasters costing more than a billion dollars this year, which has set a record for the most number of such disasters so early in the year. We've already beat the total for billion-dollar weather disaster for all of 2010 (three), and with hurricane season still to come, this year has a chance of beating 2008's record of nine such disasters. The billion dollar weather disasters of 2011 so far:

1) 2011 Groundhog Day's blizzard ($1 - $4 billion)
2) April 3 -5 Southeast U.S. severe weather outbreak ($2 billion)
3) April 8 - 11 severe weather outbreak ($2.25 billion)
4) April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak ($3.7 - $5.5 billion)
5) Mississippi River flood of 2011 ($2+ billion)

Losses from the on-going Texas drought and wildfires are already at $180 million, and this is likely to be a billion-dollar disaster by the time all the agricultural losses are tallied.


Per Charlie Wilson's War - a movie from 2007: I thought this was a good movie and the ending screen comments help shed some light on our present Afghanistan situation.
Anyone able to find/post the comments at the end of the movie?