Drumbeat: May 23, 2011

Commentary: ASPO-USA asks: “What are we missing?” - Part 1

There are so many challenges facing us as a result of Peak Oil and related issues that it is easy to miss something important. ASPO-USA asked more than 50 leaders on Peak Oil to share what they felt was the most critical issue we’ve all been missing, the thing every one of us should be talking about - but aren’t. The answers were eye-opening, and have started a discussion that continues. Over the next three weeks, in place of a traditional commentary, Peak Oil Review will run a range of perspectives on this issue - from geologists to food experts, from social critics to scientists - what are we missing? Where should we be putting more attention, more resources? All of us miss things - but between so many working minds, we have a better chance of covering the expansive ground that we have to address. We thank all of our contributors for expanding our vision!

Once upon a time a peak oil aware candidate ran for president of the United States

The unsavory collection of clowns, hucksters, frauds and charlatans currently running for president makes me long for a time when serious-minded people who care about the long-term stability and sustainability of their country actually had a viable candidate to support. The fact that it has been over three decades since there has been such a candidate speaks volumes for how low we have sunk as a nation in terms of the sheer volume of feel-good lies that we tell ourselves.

The story of the presidential campaign of former U.S. Representative John B. Anderson is so at odds with anything we see going on in politics today that it almost seems like it happened in a whole other country if not to say on a completely different planet.

The Shale Gas Boom: Energy Exploration in Carolina

For now, state geologists are finished with their research in central North Carolina.

After studying 59,000 acres in the Deep River basin for 15 years, they have concluded that Lee, Chatham and Moore counties could produce enough natural gas from shale to make North Carolina self-sufficient for 40 years at current levels of consumption.

"That's what we think," said Kenneth Taylor, chief of the N.C. Geological Survey. "We could become a net exporter."

PUC Gives Nod to Eminent Domain Power for Pipeline Company

The state Public Utility Commission intends to declare natural gas pipeline company Laser Northeast Gathering a public utility, giving it the power to condemn private property by eminent domain.

Mexico oil production flat in April vs March

(Reuters) - Crude oil production in Mexico amounted to 2.573 million barrels per day in April, flat compared to March this year, state oil monopoly Pemex reported via its Twitter account on Monday.

During the first four months of the year, Mexico exported 1.335 million barrels per day of oil on average, some 74,000 more than in the same period in 2010, Pemex said on Twitter.

The Mexican government is expected to release more detailed oil field production data later on Monday.

$1b jumbo deepwater rig delivered to CNOOC

SHANGHAI -- A 3,000-meter deepwater jumbo oil drilling platform was delivered here Monday to China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil producer, the latest step for China as it seeks more energy from the ocean.

It took 6 billion yuan ($923 million) of investment and more than three years for China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), the contractor, to build the CNOOC 981 rig for the offshore oil giant.

Ahmadinejad not to attend OPEC meeting

(Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday one of his ministers will take his place at the next OPEC meeting, the official IRNA news agency reported, a move seen as retreat in a power struggle with hardline rulers.

Kunstler: Get Real

The global energy predicament really is a crisis, even though nobody is currently lining up at the gasoline pumps. It's a crisis because peak oil is for real and oil is the primary resource of advanced economies, and there are no miracle rescue remedies ("drill, drill, drill," shale oil, shale gas). Peak oil means that we can't increase supply in relation to still-growing demand, which creates disturbances in the energy markets. Peak oil also leads directly to a crisis of capital (money), because a nation (an economy) that can't get increasing energy "inputs," can't create more wealth, can't generate more loans (debt), and most importantly can't expect what we've come to think of as normal economic growth. This creates further disturbances and distortions in financial markets.

Why oil prices will spike again soon

Energy prices have been coming down this spring as fears of a Middle East blowup fade. But persistent global demand, tepid supply growth and easy money mean it may not be long till the next damaging spike, Goldman Sachs economists say.

Oil prices could surge again by the end of 2012, economists Jan Hatzius and Andrew Tilton wrote in a note to clients this past weekend. They say the snail-like pace of global oil supply expansion – which Goldman projects at 1% or so annually – can't keep a petroleum-addicted world economy rolling without prices rising, perhaps sharply.

So don't get too used to paying a mere $3 and change for gasoline. Higher prices are on the way soon enough, thanks to stretched supplies and a Federal Reserve spigot that is likely to remain wide open for years to come.

Oil Declines Amid Concerns Over U.S. Economic Growth, Greek Debt Default

Oil fell in New York amid concern that Europe’s sovereign debt situation may weaken fuel demand. The dollar rose to a nine-week high against the euro.

Futures slid as much as 3 percent after Spain’s governing Socialist party suffered its worst electoral defeat in more than 30 years and Standard & Poor’s said on May 20 it may lower Italy’s credit rating. The Dollar Index climbed to its highest in more than nine weeks as declining Asian stocks spurred demand for safer assets.

Inland Empire can't afford high cost of oil

Escalating gas prices have become a real worry for both consumers and the analysts who track economic trends. But the Inland Empire should be particularly concerned with high oil prices, according to a new University of Redlands study.

Residents in the San Bernardino and Riverside counties are feeling the worst pain at the pump in Southern California, according to the research, which looked at the amount of money residents spend on gas as a share of their disposable income by U.S. ZIP code.

Power shortage boosts diesel

CHINA'S manufacturers turned on diesel-fueled generators as local governments rationed electricity to fight the worst power shortage in seven years.

Many factories in eastern Zhejiang Province, a manufacturing hub, are using diesel generators because of the rationing, state-run China Petrochemical Corp, the country's largest fuel supplier, said in a statement.

Reliance Fuel Exports Increase 25 Percent on Gasoline, Jet-Fuel Shipments

Fuel exports by Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), India’s largest publicly traded company, climbed 25 percent in the first half of May from a month earlier as it shipped more gasoline to the U.S. and demand for jet fuel grew.

Iraq signs natural gas import deal with Iran to ease power woes

BAGHDAD — Iraq has signed a tentative deal with Iran to import natural gas to ease its electricity woes, an official said Monday, in a step that deepens economic ties with Tehran as U.S. troops prepare to leave at the end of the year.

Iraq’s government has been struggling to rebuild its war-damaged electricity grid after power shortages last summer spurred demonstrations that turned deadly when security forces fired into crowds. But blackouts are still common despite billions spent on improving power stations and lines.

Iran-Bahrain gas project off again

An on/off plan for Bahrain to import Iranian gas is off again over another diplomatic tiff.

Manama said yesterday it had frozen plans to import fuel from Iran's biggest gasfield through a proposed undersea pipeline because of Iranian meddling in the country's internal affairs.

Bangladesh approves gas exploration plan by ConocoPhillips

Bangladesh at present faces acute gas shortages, with production at around 2,000 million cubic feet (mmcft) per day against demand of more than 2,500 mmcft a day.

The government forecasts that current gas reserves will run out in the next five years at the present consumption rate.

The shortages have prompted the government to shut down fertiliser plants, suspend operations of compressed natural gas filling stations for four hours a day and introduce staggered holidays in industry.

Ensco, U.S. Jointly Seek More Time to Reach Deep-Water Drilling Suit Deal

Ensco Offshore Co., along with the U.S. Justice Department, is seeking more time to negotiate an end to its lawsuit over deep-water oil drilling permits.

Attorneys for both Ensco and the government filed a joint request with U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, seeking a delay in the court’s May 10 order that requires regulators to act on six pending permit applications by June 20.

Shell Rapped For Norway Oil Field Error That Risked Leak

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Royal Dutch Shell PLC has been rapped by Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority for an error in a maintenance procedure on an oil well that had "major accident potential" and risked an oil leak, the authority said on its website Monday.

The incident occurred on Dec. 4, 2010 on Norway's Draugen field, which produces around 50,000 barrels of oil a day, the PSA said. An operation to replace a subsurface gas valve went wrong and the device became stuck inside and blocked the operation of another piece of machinery called a Christmas Tree, which sits atop the wellhead, it said.

Attacks kill four in Iraq's disputed Kirkuk

KIRKUK, Iraq — Two bombings in Iraq's disputed northern oil province of Kirkuk killed two policemen and two soldiers on Monday, the latest in a string of attacks in the region, security officials said.

The violence further raised tensions in Kirkuk, an ethnically-mixed province which Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in their northern autonomous region over the opposition of its Arab and Turkmen communities, in a dispute US officials have long said is one of the biggest threats to Iraq's stability.

Syrian Forces Kill Mourners at Funeral; Yemen’s Saleh Agrees to Exit Plan

Syrian forces killed 12 people in a funeral procession for anti-government activists, raising the two-day civilian death toll to at least 62, activists said.

Pakistan navy regains control of naval base from militants, ending humiliating siege

KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistani commandos regained control of a naval base Monday from a team of Taliban militants who had attacked then occupied the high-security facility for 18 hours, dealing a bloody and humiliating blow to the military.

The attackers destroyed at least two U.S.-supplied surveillance planes and killed 12 security officers.

Statoil says N.Sea helicopters unaffected by ash

OSLO (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Statoil, the biggest operator of offshore platforms off Norway, said ash from an Icelandic volcano was so far not affecting helicopter traffic to and from installations.

Special Report - Inside Tepco's bailout: Japan Inc saves its own

(Reuters) - In a choreographed act of contrition, Masataka Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power, bowed deeply and resigned to take responsibility for the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

From the outside, the news conference on Friday appeared to follow the familiar script for a Japanese corporate shaming. But behind the scenes, it also represented the successful culmination of a period of intensive deal-making by Tokyo Electric, its powerful allies in Japan's bureaucracy and its main bank.

Kan denies ordering TEPCO to stop seawater injection at reactor

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Monday denied having instructed Tokyo Electric Power Co to stop injecting seawater into the troubled No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, brushing aside criticism that an alleged suspension order from him may have worsened the situation.

Stockholm could teach Abu Dhabi a few green lessons

They are poles apart in climate, but Abu Dhabi and Stockholm have a surprising amount in common.

For a start, they are both built on clusters of islands, imposing special challenges for urban planners. That similarity was never more striking than at present, when many fear global warming will raise sea levels worldwide.

Sea levels set to rise by up to a metre: report

SYDNEY (AFP) - Sea levels are set to rise by up to a metre within a century due to global warming, a new Australian report said Monday as it warned this could make "once-a-century" coastal flooding much more common.

The government's first Climate Commission report said the evidence that the Earth's surface was warming rapidly was beyond doubt.

Climate change beyond denial and planting trees won't cut it - Climate Commission report

JULIA Gillard has responded to Barnaby Joyce's claim that Australia cannot effect climate change saying the country does not have time for false claims.

The Prime Minister told reporters that she accepts the government's peer-reviewed report on Climate Change which warns that people are to blame for rising temperatures, with the last decade the hottest on record.

Sea-level fright as climate report goes public

Global warming is real, man made, and could cause the world's sea level to rise a metre by the end of the century, much higher than previously thought, according to the federal government's Climate Commission.

Melbourne faces extreme and more frequent flooding, while higher sea levels are already "bad news" for fragile areas including Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef, says Commissioner Will Steffen.

A City Prepares for a Warm Long-Term Forecast

CHICAGO — The Windy City is preparing for a heat wave — a permanent one.

Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century.

So, Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.

Re: Sea levels set to rise by up to a metre: report

The latest projections for sea level rise suggest that there will be many areas of the US which will experience more coastal flooding in future. This rise in sea level will be especially difficult for people who own houses on barrier islands to accept, as they would find that they might not be able to buy flood insurance to pay for damages after storms...

E. Swanson

First the good news:

P.E.I. has met its first target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, two years in advance of when it needed to.

The target was set jointly among eastern Canadian provinces and the New England states 10 years ago, to return to 1990 levels by 2010.

now the bad:

While emissions on P.E.I. drop, climate change and its effects continue to be felt. Sea levels in Charlottetown have risen twelve centimetres since 1990.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2011/05/16/pei-...

Prince Edward Island's peak electrical demand is a modest 220 MW (average demand perhaps a little more than half that). At the moment, the province has 164 MW of wind capacity in place, with more to come.


Sometimes it can such a sobering subject: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13497560

The Australian Climate Commission has warned that the world's sea levels could rise by 1m by the end of the century, much more than thought.


The report claims that climate science was ''being attacked in the media by many with no credentials in the field" and also that attempts to "intimidate climate scientists have added to the confusion in the public".

Who will win the information war - those who back up their claims with evidence or those who shout loudest?

Who will win the information war - those who back up their claims with evidence or those who shout loudest?

Never underestimate the determination and resourcefulness of your opponents and be prepared to engage them on their own terms.

Based on recent data, sea levels in our city are now expected to rise 1.3 metres within the next ninety years. That, combined with potentially damaging storm surges (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/05/19/jurricane-forecast-noaa.html) spells big trouble.

One wonders what this might mean for Nova Scotia Power's new head office (http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/community/lowerwaterstreetrelocation/north...)


Maybe it will get renamed to Under Water Street?

Seems like all that needs to be done to deal with the problem is put the CEO's office on the ground floor, facing the water, with a water gauge in plain view!

Standard company issue: paper, pens, laptops and life preservers.

All kidding aside, Hurricane Juan's storm surge exceeded 1.5 metres and, consequently, the downtown waterfront experienced extensive flooding.

And this converted coal-fired power plant is front row centre for any encore performances.


That is also my solution for nuke plants. I imagine one reason that the Navy has had few nuke incidents is that those in authority cannot abandon the scene, and neither can the workers. Everybody has a strong vested interest in safety that way, and in decisive action.

Back in the 50s, I believe Admiral Rickover imagined that civilian Nuclear Power would be run the same way he ran his Nuclear Navy.

The one who offers people the painless solution. On one hand you have folks supported by good science who are telling you that things are going to get worse and you are going to have to make changes (changes that are read to mean "sacrifices"). On the other hand you have folks saying that Climate change is hoax and even if it is not a hoax it is "natural" i.e that there is nothing you can do about it so party on.

The avoidance of pain is true irrespective of what issue we are speaking about.

IMO the time to do anything about climate change has long passed - if in fact it was ever possible to anything about it. So too, has the opportunity of saving the entire human species. I think like Chicago we need to start planning on how we are going to cope with it. Unfortunately, part of the coping mechanism will be to avert our eyes when confronted with pictures of mass destruction and deciding who gets pushed off life boat Earth because clearly with climate change the carrying capacity of the planet (Eaarth - as Mckibben has described it) is going to be a lot less than the 7 billion people currently inhabiting it (to say nothing of the extra 2 billion projected).

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "doing anything about climate change."

We are, of course, doing an amazing amount 'about' climate change--we are making it much worse by un-sequestering carbon at enormous rates, something like 8 billion tons per year.

It is never 'too late' to desist from doing harm.

Two things jump out at me from the article above, regarding Chicago's climate adaptation :-

"many of the administrations she was dealing with were following a strategy of “discreetly integrating preparedness into traditional planning efforts.” "

" “We put each of the priorities through a lens of political, economic and technical,” said Suzanne Malec-McKenna, the commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment. “What is it, if you will, that will pass the laugh test?” "

In other words, people are trying to do what they can without being drummed out of office. Which often means they don't get credit for their efforts.

Since most politicians are all about claiming credit for the good things that happen, and distancing themselves from the bad, whether or not they had anything to do with either, the stealth approach finds a home where people genuinely care about the future, and don't care if they aren't on the front page of the local rag.

One can say a lot about the former mayor of Chicago, but one thing I am certain - he truly cares about the city. He is very much a roll-up-sleeves and get-it-done kind of guy.

"even if it is not a hoax it is "natural" i.e that there is nothing you can do about it so party on."

Climate change is natural, it's happened in the past more than once, and it's happened with surprising speed. When it has happened the usual response was to move. (Option B was die in place, not a very popular choice) But civilization is not as mobile as it used to be. Just as a thought experiment, could we relocate the residents of LA to Manitoba and build the new infrastructure to support them?

If the climate is changing for whatever cause, the choice comes down to move or figure out how to survive in place, if that is an option for rising sealevel. You may no choice but to move, or get creative with houseboats.

Anyway; From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8.2_kiloyear_event

"Based on sea-level data from below modern deltas 2–4 (6–12 ft) meters of near-instantaneous rise is estimated, recorded superimposed on background 'normal' post-glacial sea-level rise."

Imagine how much fun that would be today. Then it was just grab kids and a stone toolkit and run uphill. Now a substantial number of people would probably drown trying to save the SUV and the flatscreen.

On the surprising speed of temperature front, "At the same time, pollen, macrofossil, and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C ages from southern New England documented the occurrence of a YD average July cooling of 3–4°C and, at its close (the Holocene boundary), a shift back to warm conditions within ≈50–75 years "


That is probably one of the biggest changes from my HS science classes. Then we were assured that these changes were gradual, taking 10,000 years to amount to anything serious. Not anymore. Gradualism has been superseded by punctuated equilibrium.

The 3 main drivers of climate change is

The sun, or earths movements around it.

Continental drifts. For example it takes a great landmass around a pole (north or south don'tmatter off course) to cause regular ice ages.

Green house gasses.

The one chaning the most right now is GHG. And it is changing about 20000 times faster than last time (wich was when India hit Asia and the vulcano eruptions raised CO2 conc by 0.0001 PPM/year, compared to 2 PPM/year now).

Because the victor get to decide what the climate will do? The results of the information war are only important if you think that it might result in humans doing something significant proactively in regards to climate, and I do not think we are capable of that. I think we are in consequences territory.

Yep, we are deep into the realm of consequences. But we can always make things much worse, which is pretty much what we have been doing.

In any case, I have the peculiar notion that having accurate information is always of value, preferring, as I do, knowledge to ignorance. So I do think the information war is important, even though it may well be that if everyone had a perfectly clear picture of where we are and what we are doing will not prompt effective action (an unfortunate term, to some extent, here, since what we mostly need is a lot LESS action--less flying, driving, transporting food and goods thousands of miles, manufacturing countless tons of crap, wasting energy...all that kind of 'action' is the main thing we have to step back from).

Information tends to work at the cognitive level. There is more information at the subconscious level that we do not fathom or understand. I am not at all sure that any amount of information or facts about the world can penetrate the subconscious which seems to be driving most of us to consume at or beyond our financial resources. Facts are nothing in the face of this need to consume more, to get up every day and scan our environment in search of something new, different, exciting, and stimulative.

Our politicians are big about talking about future generations to further their own agenda, whether it be conservative or liberal. Oh, we so care about our children and grand children. Well, that is total b.s.

Less. Less. Less. That cannot possibly sell in the face of who we are. We are acquisition machines, speed machines, pleasure machines.

My experience is that people don't want information, especially accurate information about the state of anything, much less the state of the world. Information is an imposition. Information is a threat to who we are and what we want to do.

But. Some of us like the data, the stuff that helps us understand what is happening. Some of us actually kind of enjoying having less, doing less, consuming less. Or doing more with less. If we can figure out what makes those people tick, then maybe we can somehow deal with the vast majority that are not like that.

Yes, your notion that accurate information is of value is extremely peculiar. This is not the information war, it is the disinformation war.

My experience is that people don't want information, especially accurate information about the state of anything, much less the state of the world. Information is an imposition. Information is a threat to who we are and what we want to do.

Well said, tstreet. How does one "compete" in any information exchange with the willfully ignorant? Even if it were somehow possible for a few concerned scientists and environmentalists to penetrate the well financed fog of corporate right-wing propaganda ("Our way of life is non-negotiable", "climate change and Peak Oil are liberal myths", "Drill, baby, drill!"), their message would mostly fall on deaf ears. We are a nation of Homer Simpsons who willfully resist any attempts at "education". You are a tree-hugging Commie L-I-B-E-R-A-L who doesn't worship my God (a strange amalgam of Prosperity Gospel Jesus and Rush Limbaugh). You don't drive my kind of pickup truck, you don't shop at my kind of stores, you don't like my kind of hobbies, and you're not from 'around here'. Why should I listen to a smug, pointy-headed, wine-sipping nerd like you? I'm doing just fine, thank you. Got my NASCAR, got my 700 Club, got my American Idol, well stocked on Cheez-Doodles, beer and ammo. Me and the wife got plans to Get Rich Quick with the latest pyramid scheme being hawked on TV. Why don't YOU go away to liberal Commie-land and leave me the f*** alone?

Ha, that cracked me up!

Honestly, though, let's deconstruct this for a second.

Not everyone who has more conservative/libertarian views fits this convenient and funny stereotype. I for one am not some sort of NASCAR loving, pickup driving redneck, but I have also given up on liberalism.

Why? Precisely because liberals want to take my money away from me, and distribute it to the very people you secretly scorn - not to mention the ghetto, of course. I'm an equal opportunity cynic! I'm not going to make fun of the South while pretending that I'd rather live in Detroit or Newark.

I'd rather have more for myself for personal preparation. It's basically too late at this point for a robust liberalism in America. And besides, it doesn't exist. Liberals/democrats support endless war, endless bailouts of banks. None of them talk about genuinely trying to build a new energy and transport infrastructure.

So, you think you are good enough for grass roots liberalism? Go ahead, try to take on the U.S. military and Wall Street. See how far you get.

So it's pointless now. You can't reduce it to a stereotype anymore. The whole thing is coming down.

But I will agree with the post by tstreet.

the very people you secretly scorn

Wait a minute, fella! I don't "secretly" scorn them, I'm doing it openly! :D

It's basically too late at this point for a robust liberalism in America. And besides, it doesn't exist. Liberals/democrats support endless war, endless bailouts of banks. None of them talk about genuinely trying to build a new energy and transport infrastructure.

Yes & no. Conflating true Liberals with today's Democrats would be a mistake. I left the 'D' Oligarch years ago --as Ralph Nader used to say, "not a dime's worth of difference" on most big-money issues between them. On the other hand, it's true that self-described liberals on the whole tend to be better educated, more pro-science, and generally better informed about world affairs than self-described conservatives (at least in the U.S.). Apologies to the rare well informed, intellectually curious, old-school conservatives such as yourself, but as the saying goes, "not all conservatives are idiots, but most idiots are conservatives." In any case, your type has systematically been purged from or marginalized in today's Republican Party as thoroughly as real Progressives/Liberals have been purged from the Democrats.


On a general chat board connected with work I do I find that the vast majority of the posters - at least the persistent ones - actively resist any facts and simply write any citations or references out of a narrative if they choose not to believe them.

Most Americans are deeply ignorant not just because of what they don't know, but because of an inability and unwillingness to judge what is true and what isn't.

Many times I will cite exact numbers or facts which contradict the claim being made, only to hear that "oh those are the statistics that you like" (on something very straightforward and not usually contraversial or given to fudging) or "you're entitled to your opinion", as if citing a plain fact from a mainstream resource is "opinion."

"This is not the information war, it is the disinformation war."

Nicely put. Of course, the fact that some are eager to propagate disinformation means that they think that accurate info is dangerous. So I'm not giving up on the power of info.

But yes, most need motivation on a number of levels, with info just being an element. We need to be working on effective messaging, gripping images and metaphors, couching things in ways that various audiences can hear...

Of course, 'we' are vastly outspent by 'them.' But that is often the case with important truths.

Well, I'm not sure if we could effectively make things worse than than we already are, but I'll grant you that if we were to do anything it would probably be in that direction! And of course I'd always prefer more information. The point that I was trying to make is that people always want to go and focus on the politics - who's going to get the edge, who's going to "win" the contest.

I'll happily support positive efforts to reduce our impacts, but I believe that doing anything significant would require the destruction of our societies as they are structured, and so that will be driven by hard resource limits instead. Then again, that is happening anyway.

We can each go do something real to reduce our own impacts on the climate, and on the general use and waste of resources too. I'm trying - it's not easy while living within this system, but I hope to get more effective as time goes on. I regard that as better use of time than watching which team wins the game. I do not expect my efforts to really change the outcome, but it's more useful than listening to debates between factions, all of which ultimately support the system that is the heart of the problem.

"if we were to do anything"

I think you miss my point--every day that continue anything like BAU we are 'doing' an enormous amount to make GW worse.

I feel ya about the "not easy while living inside the system" part!

Unfortunately, almost everything that passes as information is actually distraction. That includes most politics.

"debates between factions, all of which ultimately support the system that is the heart of the problem."

Truer words were never said.

Dohboi is right. Do you want your flooding 1 metre high or 2? Cos that's our choice now... and trust me 2 metres is 4 times worse than 1 metre.

Who will win the information war - those who back up their claims with evidence or those who shout loudest?

I have said this before here on TOD: When oil get to expensive to buy,people will no longer believe CO2 emissions causes climate change. Just wait and see.

Regarding those 12 centimeters you have to take water movement into account. Climate change does not only melt ice, it also redirect water currents. This means that water will simply move around. Some places will experience additional water from this source, while it will be taken away from other places. There are regions that actually experience ocean level falls, rather than rises.

The average ocean elevation is still 3,2 m/year. But expect it to accelerate.

At least there will be one group in our society who will not be in denial about global warming: the insurance companies. They cannot afford to assume that global warming and sea level rise is a hoax. But people will still clamor to be literally bailed out by the federal government, if there is a federal government.

Actually, that's a very good point. But no doubt once they do start hiking their premiums people will then accuse them of running a cartel..

The insurance game is a sick twisted perversion of a market. (Gee, was that too wishy washy a statement?) It is an excellent example of how the "free market" is created by collusion between corporation and government.

The vast majority of people who purchase home owners insurance (at least here in the US, perhaps others can offer other examples) do so because it is a requirement written into their mortgage. In other words, the financial institution requires the homeowner to pay for insurance, the primary purpose being to protect the value of the mortgage. Given that few of the financial institutions that write mortgages actually hold them any longer, the insurance has become an agreed upon safeguard for the end investor. It "protects" the value of the collateral, essentially reducing the risk on the investment.

Here in Florida post 2004 (the year of four hurricanes) most home owners insurance companies withdrew from offering policies in the state. This provided additional evidence, as if it was needed, that the insurance companies are in business to make money, not save homes. The few remaining companies worked through the state government to assure that they could raise rates, but still only insure homes in certain areas. For people living in high risk areas where no company will write a policy, the state created a state-owned "insurer of last resort." The institution has also been used to write policies on newly purchased homes where the buyer was unable to afford the cost of "private" insurance. And if you know anything about the real estate market in Florida over the past three years, you know what the logic was behind that decision.

The problem that has arisen is that private insurance has become so pricey that "Citizens" (the name of this entity) has become the leading insurer in the state. And then we elected a tea bag party type of governor and their looking for ways to reduce "Citizens" role and bring more private "competition" back into the state. In practice, this meant they passed a law putting limits on what the insurance company would have to pay in certain circumstances - and it is expected they will do more of this next year. This is great for their insurance company pals, but one has to wonder how their mortgage underwriter pals will take to this change. Of course the mortgage industry, and ultimately the entire real estate industry is quite powerful in Florida and anything seen as limiting house sales and RE development is anathema.

In the middle is the average citizens who just wants a home to live in that they can afford.

The vast majority of people who purchase home owners insurance ... do so because it is a requirement written into their mortgage.

Any idea what fraction of the 40% of homeowners who don't have mortgages are not insured?

I did a quick search but didn't find anything certain. I found one statement that 98% of insurance was for mortgaged properties, but it was not referenced and seems exceptionally high. I'll look some more as I have the chance.

Insurance is a business of probabilities. It works best when there are a significant number of claims relative to policies written with definable maximum payouts. While it is possible to calculate the probabilities of 1:100 year events as a practical matter they are very hard to price and will always cost more than the probability suggests.

Toss a coin - 50:50 chance it will be heads or tails. Toss it 3 times and there is a significant chance that it will come up heads three times. Same problem with a 1:100 year event. Just because you have one this year doesn't mean that it couldn't happen again in the next 10 years or even next year. A private insurance company could never price the risk at 1:100 (adjusted for their costs and profits). If they had two such events in 10 years it would take them 200 years to recover- far outside the time horizon of any private insurance company. So it is inevitable that the risk will be priced anywhere between 5-10 what it is really worth. A catastrophic event priced on a 1:10 year basis makes for very expensive insurance.

Indeed, this is correct. For something like auto insurance, it is pretty easy for them to work out the probabilities and set the rates accordingly.

But for something like a hurricane it is much harder as the probabilities are more uncertain. But what is even worse is that a single major hurricane can wipe out a wide swath of territory, and literally bankrupt the insurance company, and the insurance companies don't like being in a business where one bad event can do that to them.

This is really my major argument against nuclear power as well - nobody will write insurance against nuclear accidents unless government imposes liability limits which in effect gives them a subsidy, and limits the risk to the insurance company.

Is there an insurance sector that isn't dependent on the government to assure their profits?

Is there an insurance sector that isn't dependent on the government to assure their profits?

There is a thing call Re-insurance, that is insurance for insurance companies. So for instance, All-State isn't completely on the hoook for say the hurricane damage, but paid premiums to an even larger company to assume some of the risks. Warren Buffet has been a pretty bug player in this area. I think most insurance most of the time isn't dependent upon government backing up their finances. They are of course dependent on the government as an enforcer of contracts, and use the court system to limit fraud (and sometimes cheat legitimate claims holders). Obviously when AIG went completely overboard with the CDO stuff, we needed to use the Fed as an insurer of last resort.

I think most insurance most of the time isn't dependent upon government backing up their finances.

Would you care to provide some examples, rather than the negative ones you through out?

Car Insurance - mandated by state laws
Home Owners - generally highly regulated to the extent that rates are essentially "approved" by a governing body.
Life Insurance - a complex mix of contract law and state regulation.
Health Insurance - LOL

Those are the ones that we most frequently come in contract with. Any others?

And the point of importance isn't that government "backs up" their finances - its that government makes their profit possible, mostly through "regulatory" functions, but also through legal functions.

The government doesn't mandate that you have comprehensive insurance- only third party liability. Would prefer that the government allow people to drive without carrying insurance?

If there was an insurance company that wanted to charge less for its homeowners policies I don't believe that the insurance regulators would object to that except if the rates were so low that it was clear that the insurance company couldn't pay off it obligations.

from your comments would it be fair to conclude that you wouldn't carry insurance on your car, home or house except because the government made you do it?

Its not as bad as you state, mainly because the insurance company has a pool of insurees, and the correlation of the risk that customer A will incur a catastrophic loss in the same year that customer B does is pretty low. The hurricane may seem pretty general to you, if your roof is blown off there is a good chance your neighbors is damaged as well. But a national (or international) insurance company spreads its policies around geographically. They still have to make a profit on average, but they don't have to worry about a run on the company due to bad luck. They do need to worry about things that change the overall level of the risk (such as climate change) however.

To comment on upthread a bit. There is home insurance, which protects against various sorts of physical damage. There is also mortgage insurance, which protects the owner of the loan rather than the homeowner. The later is required if the downpayment is less than some mandated fraction of the loan value. They may or may not be sold by the same companies, but they are separate entities. Mortgage insurance comanies love to sell policies to homeowners who don't need it, and try to trick these homeowners into buying it.

Bah! Won't genuinely bother them the least little bit. Sell insurance for too little, but rake in the premiums, make it up in volume, and speculate in CDOs. Then when a big burst of claims comes in - and those big bursts are the problem - blame it on anyone or anything else: how could we possibly have known; it's John Q. Driver's fault; there's "never" been a hurricane like that before, don't look at us; etc., etc. Then stage a giant Pity Party and have your execs speechify about "jobs" in the tourist "industry" or some such rubbish. Make darned sure your Congresscritters see plenty of crocodile tears raining down - at least on teevee if not in person. Sure as shootin' they'll fall all over themselves to hand you huge wads of taxpayer money - if not overtly, then under the table by way of hidden handouts, deductions, or forced-purchase mandates. Gotta save those garbage jobs in the tourist "industry" after all. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

After all, without some such pattern firmly in place, would any of the stuff already piled onto unstable sandspits 20 miles offshore (or even unstable beaches onshore) - never mind all the stuff likely to be added over another 90 years - be "insurable" at rates anyone would actually pay? Really?

Again we get a silly lowball figure. The original 50 cm estimate by the IPCC was based on the assumption of zero land ice sheet melt and thermal expansion of the oceans due to warming alone. Now here we have a claim that only up to 50 cm will be produced by land ice melt.

Existing literature describes climate model output and climate model treatment of the cryosphere is simply pathetic. Models that cannot reasonably predict Artic sea ice loss due to inability to resolve warm ocean current effects are not going to capture the dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet. A lot of the increasing Greenland melt has been due to warming ocean temperatures along the coasts. This heating acts to weaken the glaciers even during winter and it will only get worse. Recent research and observations also indicates that the Antarctic ice sheet is not very stable either.

Hansen's research on the subject is credible and suggests an accelerating land ice loss in the next 90 years. Enough to produce several meters of sea level rise. Policy planners need to consider 2 meters (at least) as a plausible sea level rise figure.

I was about to post the same. One meter of SLR is the lower bound, not the most likely. Hansen, I think correctly, also shows we can melt the ice caps completely at as low as 400 ppm, so, if anything tens of meters is likely long-term.

Incredible, the march to the cliff. Heck, calling ourselves lemmings gives them a bad name; they don't actually go jumping off of cliffs while we have at least one foot over the edge and the other might be, too.

Best hopes for a big gust of wind landward.

This whole "1 meter by 2100" thing is off course off the mark. Glaciologists have already predicted the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers alone will add about half a meter. That contribution is excluded from those predictions, as well as it is totaly omitted from IPCCs latest assesment. So you are looking at at least 1.5 meters. Plus whenever the experts are wrong, they are ALWAYS below target, so even more is very realistic.

I might be old-fashioned, but I think that even without sea-level rises, people who build on barrier islands or other exposed waterfronts - effectively at sea-level - might be being somewhat ambitious to believe they have the same right to storm-flood insurance as those who build on higher ground. Seems to me if you want to take that risk to get beach-front, then you take that risk.

For those who have HBO you should not miss "Too Big To Fail" airing tonight. 9PM EDT, 8PM CDT. Below is a link to a 19 minute video all about this 1.5 hour Docu-Drama. This short video is well worth your time to watch. In this video CNN’s Fareed Zakaria hits the nail on the head when he says: The nature of finance is that it’s a confidence game. It only works as long as people believe in it.

Even if you don't have HBO, and I realize most people don't, this short film linked below will tell you a lot you did not know about the 2008 financial crisis.

Too Big To Fail: The Opening the Vault to the Financial Crisis"

Ron P.

I bet it won't. Will let you know. Thanks for the link.

EDIT: OK, I watched it.

First hit: apologists for the poor, human bankers. It will be interesting to see if viewing the full thing will give the same impression.

Second hit: Nothing I didn't know. I'm a little unsettled that you characterize this as being so revealing. If you are saying that within the context of the general public watching it, that would make sense, but in the context of the general readership here finding revelatory info in that clip? That scares me because it means even among this group of people, who are a very, very tiny fraction of the population, but is that one fraction that I assumed was well-informed, there is a lack of knowledge about fundamental aspects of the vast problems we face. How can we hope to solve problems people do not even understand?

Third hit: This movie is coming too soon. There were comments made in the past tense that it "worked," but that is a very premature conclusion. There is only one thing, speaking broadly, that will "work" and that is to allow the trash on the books to be cleared out. The reason the general economy is not recovering much and there has been such a massive shift of wealth to the banks is precisely because the crisis continues; the ponzi scheme was reinflated with new chumps' money: ours.

In fact, a very strong argument can be made that this "success" has done nothing but seal our eventual fates and prevent the corrective action needed to reboot the entire global system which will lead us right over that proverbial cliff.

I'm hungry. What do we lemmings eat?

Second hit: Nothing I didn't know.

Glad you have nothing to learn about the situation... I do.

Third hit: This movie is coming too soon. There were comments made in the past tense that it "worked," but that is a very premature conclusion.

That statement just goes to show how far from reality you, and most of the rest of America really are from reality. If it did not work then every bank in the US would have failed. Credit would have dried up. GE would have had to shut down. McDonalds would have had to close up shop and all the burger flippers would have been laid off.

True, that may still yet happen. But so far... it worked.

Ron P.

Don't know what your reason for being so snippy is, but it isn't appreciated.

Glad you have nothing to learn about the situation

I did not say that. I said I did not expect to learn anything from that clip, not that I had nothing to learn on the topic.

... I do.

Apparently you did, if that was revelatory for you. There was nothing in there I did not already know, but I read and blogged extensively on the events as they were occurring. But this is not complex and the information is not hidden, so, yes, I am surprised anything in that clip would be revelatory to you.

That statement just goes to show how far from reality you, and most of the rest of America really are from reality. If it did not work then every bank in the US would have failed. Credit would have dried up. GE would have had to shut down. McDonalds would have had to close up shop and all the burger flippers would have been laid off.

True, that may still yet happen. But so far... it worked.

No, Ron, a thing works or it doesn't. If it fails because of the nature of the thing, it was always inadequate. There is a difference between something aging and losing its effectiveness and something being designed poorly in the first place. There is the possibility I am wrong, naturally, but this solution will not solve our problems and a bigger crash will come, imo, and if that is true, then this did not ever "work." This is especially true if it makes matters worse in the long run by preventing change that would have lead to better long-term outcomes.

Don't confuse duct tape for real repairs.

Sorry I did not mean to be snippy but then I guess you did not mean to sound arrogant either... But you did. But please accept my apologies for the snippyness.

No, the problem was not fixed. It is possible that such a situation could happen again. That was not the point. The point was that the economy was kept from collapsing. It worked, the financial system of the US was kept from collapsing. It worked. Bernanke was correct. If all those banks, as well as AIG had failed, it would have been far worse than the great depression.

It worked.

Ron P.

I have no idea why you found my other post arrogant. Thanks for the apology. If I can figure out what you found arrogant, I'll try to avoid that.

We're going in circles, so let me just say, I don't think they did what they did merely as a temporary fix, so my point still stands. My other point about it making things worse in the long run still stands, also.

We'll see, eventually.

Do understand I am always speaking from the perspective of someone who designs sustainable systems for a living and as my avocation; our perspectives may be significantly different.

I understand you are talking about something long term and sustainable... But that is the very reason you miss the point. The system was on the verge of absolute collapse... in days! If those banks and AIG had gone under, the economic of the US would have collapsed. And as they stated in the film, the failure of AIG would have taken down half the banks in Europe as well.

You do not seem to understand what the failure of the largest insurance and financial services company in the world would have meant. I think if you only understood that one little fact you would have a different outlook on what happened.

What they did was not intended to be a long term fix. What they did was to prevent the immediate collapse of the financial system! Therefore by any measure... it worked!

Ron P.

It worked, but it wasn't what we needed, and since it worked the people in power are ignoring what needs to be done.

Quite a nasty situation, no?

If those banks and AIG had gone under, the economic of the US would have collapsed.

If we accept this as true, then what has/is the government doing to ensure that the entire country's future cannot be held at ransom by the performance/failure of a for profit company that is in the business of being paid to take risks?

Surely the price of the bailout should have been a restructure such that the government can never be cornered like that by AIG/banks again?

No, this is your error. You are assuming I don't understand these things because I disagree with you. There are two points here; believe me when I tell you I understand these things, and, judging by you learning something new from the source we are discussing, I understand it better than you do.

Point two is that there were other choices and those people made the wrong choices. They had a chance to clear the books and keep the financial system (largely) intact, but I'm certain the best solutions never even entered their heads. This is not surprising since doing so would have required them to act against [edit] their own selfish interests - not to mention taking responsibility for creating the crisis.

Imagine, for example, if instead of making banks and insurers 100% whole, they had made mortgage holders whole. What a difference. 1. It would have flowed money directly into the economy (virtually none of the money from TARP flowed into the broader economy), the solvency of the mortgage holders would have guaranteed the solvency of any banks that were fundamentally sound, particularly after their own bankruptcies and reorganizations, and would have provided for a clearing of junk debt by going through an open process of examining the debts and clearing them or supporting them with "TARP" money. This is just one alternative that would have created very different outcomes, such as foreclosures not continuing to roll through the system (though we hear little about it these days, they are still massive), a clearing out and prosecution of those responsible for fraud (see Black's analyses as to the legality of the original actions and of TARP itself) and a healthier reboot of a very badly designed system due to real reform.

Still think I don't get it?

Let's set all that aside. The long term cost of not shutting down carbon emissions outweighs all else. Collapsing civilization is one thing, near-extinction another. Pick your poisons, I guess.

About two years ago I walked into my local bankers office - just a small bank, half dozen locations - to ask about a loan for a million dollar project. He was pleased. He told me I was the first person in months to bring anything positive to him. He said their bank had just had their best year ever (I'm pretty sure that was fee-based glee). He was quite eager and helped with the planning.

This was only about a year after the big letdown, so my point is, from my perspective out here in the hinterlands, there really does seem to be two economies in the good ol' U.S. of A. - the giant Wall Street "banks" and associated, and the rest of the country. I have to wonder if the Feds hadn't bailed out Wall Street, if we would have felt much impact out here in flyover land.

I have to wonder if the Feds hadn't bailed out Wall Street, if we would have felt much impact out here in flyover land.

Minnesota, it was not "Wall Street" per se that got bailed out, it was the nations nine largest investment banks along with the world's largest insurance company, AIG, that got bailed out. But yes the sub-prime mortgage mess affected every bank in the land. And if these nine investment banks along with AIG had went under, then your bank would have also went under.

There would have been panic and the FDIC would have stepped in and bailed out your bank. But they would have been left with no money to lend anyone, and no income from loans outstanding. They would have sank.

If you had watched the movei, "Too Big to Fail" you would have understood why. If AIG had gone under, every bank in the U.K. would have went under and most of the banks in the rest of Europe. And AIG had investors in China and everywhere else in the world. AIG was the one company that was truly "too big to fail." Both Paulson and Bernanke knew this. They knew what they had to do to keep half the banks in the world from failing, including your bank in Minnesota. And they did it.

Damn Republicans, I hate it when they get things right. ;-) But at least we have Paul Ryan to really screw things up for the Republicans. He is making true fools out of them. I love it!

Ron P.

Indeed much if that is true, but the main problem I see is that the investment banks don't see that they were doing anything wrong - they resist any form of regulation designed to prevent a repeat, and seem eager to inflate another speculative bubble elsewhere.

And for that matter, they don't seem to have a whole lot of gratitude for having been handed boatloads of taxpayer dollars as a bailout. They act like it was owed to them or something.

If you had watched the movei, "Too Big to Fail" you would have understood why. If AIG had gone under, every bank in the U.K. would have went under and most of the banks in the rest of Europe. And AIG had investors in China and everywhere else in the world. AIG was the one company that was truly "too big to fail." Both Paulson and Bernanke knew this. They knew what they had to do to keep half the banks in the world from failing, including your bank in Minnesota. And they did it.

Try this from a systems perspective. Let's even assume the limited assessment you are using is correct within the context you are using it. If the science is correct and we need to start reducing carbon emissions within four years and actually begin reversing them, in what way was the bailout a success? It was a massive shift of our money to them leaving us with precious little for mitigation and adaptation.

In what way is this a success?

I'd add that it works not only when people believe it, but when the con men purchase both political parties so that no one goes to prison for committing a series of felonies.

Quizmaster, I think you missed Zakaria's point. He is not saying it is a dishonest confidence game, just that the world of banking and finance totally depends on everyone having confidence in the banks. If that confidence ever disappears then everything collapses, including the economy. And if that happens everyone loses their jobs, including you.

The world runs on credit. Every major company in America, or Europe for that matter, depends on a line of credit to keep everything running. But the banks have far more money lent out than they actually have on deposit. If everyone decided to take their money out today then all banks would collapse. The FDIC could cover only a tiny fraction of the default. Everything would come crashing down.

Everything works because everyone has confidence that it will keep on working.

Ron P.

If there were a run on U.S. banks,
1. The Fed would lend the FDIC any number of trillions of dollars, and hence
2. The FDIC would bail out all the depositors, and
3. Probably hardly any banks would fail.

Since the Great Depression and the creation of the FDIC, there have been no significant runs on any U.S. commercial bank. Depositors know that their funds are safe, and hence they tend to leave most of their money in the bank.

There are things to worry about and things not to worry about. Bank runs are one of the things not to worry about. If it looks as if there is going to be a run on a bank, the District Federal Reserve bank just ships (in a matter of a few hours) huge sums of cash to the threatened bank, and then depositors are paid cash the instant they demand it. Cash management is something the Fed does well.

That works for retail depositors, but they amount to peanuts anyway.

The other part of the system can have liquidity crises. However, those obligations aren't going to be paid off in cash anyway. So the Fed can step in and provide liquidity (i.e. lots of electronic balances) and they can institute curbs on withdrawls to slow things down. However, the withdrawals are actually mostly ACH, FedWire, and SWIFT transfers between accounts and thus the money never leaves the financial system. Maybe in the end it all flows to one bank, which is the last one standing.

It might have been interesting had the 2008 September crisis been allowed to come to its natural conclusion. It's possible that after all the derivatives, etc., had been unwound that one organization (not necessarily a bank, not necessarily in the US) would have wound up with all the world's liquid assets.

It would have been the ultimate end game in financial monopoly.

However, the slowness of the bankruptcy courts made it infeasible.

Don, even if the FDIC did pay all depositors, and even if the banks did not fail, it would have made little difference. Well the definition of a bank failure is when the FDIC must bail them out. So the banks would have failed in that respect.

With no deposits they would not be able to lend any money to anyone. The economy runs on revolving credit. If credit dries up the economy dries up. If you saw the movie, there was a lot of discussion about GE. If AIG and the giant banks had went under, there would have been no credit. GE would have had no money to meet payroll, or pay creditors or...

The TARP worked regardless of the hatred misdirected toward it. As a card carrying bleeding heart liberal, I really don't like republicans. But they got this one right. I can give credit where credit is due. Had they not acted Bush II would have had the US economy, and everything that goes with it, collapse on his watch. But he did not.... It worked.

Ron P.


You're quite right: TARP worked as intended. Banks that were too large to fail were kept from failing. Also, with the "Mark to mystery" accounting for bad real estate loans, many large banks today are in fact insolvent--but they go their merry ways, still in business. During the Great Depression accounting standards for banks were also relaxed to allow insolvent banks to pretend to solvency and remain in business; some of these big banks (e.g. Bank of America) did not become truly solvent until well into World War II.

The Fed can create all the money it wants (with no limit whatsoever) with a few electronic keystrokes. I do not think debt deflation is much of a risk nowadays, whereas is was in 2008. Our banking system, backed by the Fed, is resilient.

I don't worry about finance; I worry about declining net exports of oil. Theoretically, bad economic times brought about by falling oil production could trigger another financial crisis--but we're pretty good about dealing with financial crises. Why worry about European countries defaulting on debt and the possible (probable?) demise of the Euro? None of this financial news is going to affect the amount of money available for searching for and developing oil: Since the early nineteen eighties, the oil industry has always had access to money for reasonable projects--and at a reasonable cost of capital.

Financial crises, stock market crashes, and sovereign debt defaults get a lot of news coverage. In the long run, they do not matter. Geology and technology matter, but when the stock market crashes down to half of current levels (pretty soon, IMO) or when interest rates double (bound to happen before too long), the roiling of financial markets and the wiping out of notional wealth make no long-term difference to the trend of the real (nonfinancial) economy.

Because of the rising cost of fossil fuels and our lack of cheap substitutes for them, the long-term trend of the economy is going to be down. The only thing that would falsify this prediction is some miraculous technological advance in energy production--which is possible but not likely.

Yep, in a declining energy environment it doesn't matter how much money there is, real wealth decreases.

Decreasing aggregate wealth is truly an ugly situation, and tends to bring out both the best and worst in people.

"...but when the stock market crashes down to half of current levels (pretty soon, IMO) or when interest rates double (bound to happen before too long), the roiling of financial markets and the wiping out of notional wealth make no long-term difference to the trend of the real (nonfinancial) economy."

Yup. Exactly (although it will certainly feel real enough, in the near term, to many/most).

Don, I bet the Economists' Club sent two guys named Smashy and Knuckles to your house to inform you that your membership had been revoked and to repossess your card.

Radioactive sewage sludge and slag in Tokyo

It was big news when the radioactive sewage sludge and slag were found in Fukushima Prefecture earlier this month. And it is almost no news when the highly radioactive (170,000 becquerels per kilogram) sewage slag was found in TOKYO, and the slag's been already sold as construction materials.

Thousands of nuclear plant workers suffer internal radiation exposure from visiting Fukushima

The government has discovered thousands of cases of workers at nuclear power plants outside Fukushima Prefecture suffering from internal exposure to radiation after they visited the prefecture, the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. ... The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it received the data from power companies across the country that measured the workers' internal exposure to radiation with "whole-body counters" and recorded levels of 1,500 counts per minute (cpm) or higher. In 1,193 cases, workers had internal exposure to radiation of more than 10,000 cpm.

Photo gallery: Gamma camera views inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor building

On 22 May 2011, TEPCO imaged the inside of Unit 1 with visible light and gamma-ray cameras. Here are a couple of photos from that expedition. Desdemona wonders if the pixel noise in the visible-light images is caused by gamma rays hitting the camera’s image sensor.

Graph of the Day: Distribution of Radioactive Contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, May 2011

The official TEPCO map of radioactive contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in millisieverts/hour, 20 May 2011.

And it is almost no news when the highly radioactive (170,000 becquerels per kilogram) sewage slag was found in TOKYO, and the slag's been already sold as construction materials.

Oh no! That's like, 6 times more radioactive than natural potassium.

And finally TEPCO confirms triple meltdown.

Meltdowns also at No.2 and No.3 reactors

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says fuel meltdowns are believed to have occurred at the No.2 and No.3 reactors within a few days after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said earlier this month that fuel rods at the plant's No.1 reactor had melted.

...Tokyo Electric says it had assumed from the start that the fuel roads were damaged, but had focused on cooling the reactors rather than assessing the extent of damage.

...Masanori Naito of the Institute of Applied Energy says analysis of data on the reactors' conditions is easy, and could have been completed in a day.

He says the analysis should have been done much earlier, as it would have provided important clues to long-term cooling and other measures.

Between their work on Whaling and now Nuclear Power, the willingness of Greenpeace to approach the Gov't of Japan is a positive action, I believe.


We’re taking regular samples of seawater, collecting seaweed, and getting fish from local fishermen we meet out at sea. The data we get from all these sources will help, however, the most urgent and important research needs to be done closer to shore.

Many governments try to silence their critics, but our mission is not to criticize the government. The Rainbow Warrior is here off the coast of Japan to carry out essential, independent radiation testing, and to share this information with the authorities and the people of Japan. We have been, and will continue providing transparent information that will help people to protect both their health and livelihoods.

The Japanese Government has nothing to lose by allowing independent research by NGOs like Greenpeace. If it wants to avoid harmful rumours then more - not less - research is absolutely crucial.

We hope that the government will stop playing politics, reverse its decision to block our research, and allow us to do what we came here to do: provide clear, independent information to the people for whom help is needed.

..and there are Greenpeace Activists up on the 'FISK' coal smokestack in Chicago today, in case anyone is eager to impugn their ambitious motives.

It's amazing that they're so maligned! Good work, Greenpeace!

Bob Fiske

I read the following review of Albert Brook's novel "2030" over the weekend. One of the themes of the book is the president's attempts to get foreign support to rebuild Los Angeles after a catastrophic earthquake.

Of course, Sam Foucher's modeling suggests that Saudi Arabia and the remainder of the (2005) top five net oil exporters will be collectively approaching zero net oil exports some time around 2030.

Incidentally, for those of us who are old enough, do you remember Iraq's invasion of Kuwait? It was 20 years ago, in 1990. Bush 41 was midway though his four year term of office. Note that 2010 is to 1990 as 2030 is to 2010, time wise.

2030: Albert Brooks’s Dark Vision of the Future

As a comedian and filmmaker, the very gifted Albert Brooks has specialized for more than 30 years in cooking up quandaries with no ready solution except humiliation. His often ingenious first novel is no exception to that rule. In the future America of “2030,” the national debt has long since surpassed the gross national product. Why anyone would want to be president is “more and more of a mystery.” On the rosy side — well, sort of — a cure for cancer has been found, turning the man who did it, Dr. Sam Mueller, into a billionaire and a guru.

The bad news? Along with a stock of lesser rejuvenating drugs and gadgets, Mueller’s breakthrough has left spry hordes of senior citizens cheerily hogging most of the country’s remaining resources. Seeing their own chance at the good life shrink to zero, young people are forming “resentment gangs” and committing acts of escalating violence against “the olds.” The White House’s first Jewish occupant, the brainy but melancholy Matthew Bernstein, would like to give them a fairer share of the pie, but even he doesn’t dare risk the wrath of AARP.

Brothers in oil:


The latest IEA report on oil markets shows that OPEC's total production in April was 1.3 million b/d below the level recorded before the Libyan crisis. Hello, Saudi Arabia!?

It can be assumed that as far as prices are concerned Iran and Saudi Arabia are brothers in oil. The difference at this OPEC meeting is that Ahmadinejad will stump and shout for higher prices, and while surreptitiously cheering him on, the Saudis will wring their hands, shake their heads convincing our press and too many of our government officials that they are helpless to rein in that loose cannon Ahmadinejad. That they really wanted a policy of 'lower prices' but they were so helpless in the face of Ahmadinejad's bombast.

Meanwhile Saudi women are being driven to rebellion:


There is this odd view of women in the kingdom as being always on the cusp of dissolute behaviour – reminiscent of an attitude towards slaves who would rebel and murder their owners if not kept perpetually oppressed. This is a ghastly spiral, where the worse the victim is treated, the worse they are likely to be pre-emptively repressed. When arguing against allowing women to uncover their heads or faces in public, some (men and women) respond that if that if this were to pass, women would surely walk around in semi-nudity.

Well, the good news is that there is probably very little skin cancer amongst women in Saudi Arabia.

Well, the bad news is that Saudi women probably suffer from vitamin D deficiency which makes them vulnerable to cancers and autoimmune disorders.

Since Italy got it's credit outlook downgraded yesterday by S&P, I thought it might be worth to remember which PIIGS country has the potential to cause the most destruction in the Eurozone.


Italy, as I mentioned yesterday, has the highest debt in the Eurozone area after Greece(at 120 % of GDP), as well as the slowest growth statistics in the world in the 2000-2010 period, ahead of only Haiti, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

And their government is run by Berlusconi, who controls a very narrow majority.

It's worth noting, also, that the major banks in Europe have more Italian debt than they do of any other nation, including the largest economy in Europe: Germany. Italy is the country which has most of it's debt in various banks throughout the European banking system.

Greece or Portugal were never the main areas of interest for stability.

Oh my, €100 billion..

Oil prices are going to head lower, a lot lower, and this guy, Omair Lodhi, tells us why. He says that lower prices will force OPEC to produce more oil. They have bills to pay for all their gigantic construction projects, therefore lower oil prices will force them to produce more in order to get more revenue.

Crash boom bang: Oil to head south

Pushing oil prices downwards will eventually force producers with large spending economies to produce more, pressuring the cartel to crack. A spiral downward will eventually lead to hedge funds losing easy earned capital gains. This will lead them to book as much profit as they can. They are not the end users of the oil itself and have no loyalty to the commodity. As long as trading gains are there to be had, they will continue to pour public money into the markets. A slight hiccup and they all scramble towards better avenues. Eventually when speculators exit markets price panic is unprecedented.

I think there are several things wrong with this theory. One is that "hedge funds" are largely responsible for the high price of oil. Another flaw is that OPEC will really want to produce more oil because oil prices plunge. If you remember in 2008, that was not exactly what they decided to do. But the biggest flaw is that OPEC has all that extra oil that they can produce.

Only three countries, before the Libyan crises, had any spare capacity. They were Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi. All three have now increased their production to the maximum of their ability, or at least that is my opinion.

Ron P.

...and I take any suggestion that Iraq will become a game changer soon as a pipe dream. The article linked to above (Iraq signs natural gas import deal with Iran to ease power woes) is another sign of things to come: the re-Shi'afication of Iraq. Whether or not any sort of democracy takes hold there, IMO, this is inevitable since Shi'a make up two thirds of the population. From the article:

Iraq and Iran have developed close bonds under the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki despite concerns by Washington and Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia, over Iran’s expanding influence in the region.

Iran has been accused of financing and training Iraqi Shiite militiamen who have launched attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces. Iran denies the claims.

Many of Iraq’s majority Shiites, persecuted by Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-led regime, sought sanctuary in Iran. They began returning after the Iraqi dictator’s fall in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and some now hold key government posts.

At some point, I see a natural Iran/Iraq alliance, a sort of "New Persia", and this must make the Sunni dominated Gulf states to the west very nervous.

6 months to go until the US begins its withdrawl from Iraq (at least that's the plan), and it's going to be interesting to watch. However things play out, I doubt it will be conducive, near term, to increasing production, in Iraq especially.

At some point, I see a natural Iran/Iraq alliance, a sort of "New Persia",

That would be the common sense thing to do... but I seriously doubt that it will ever happen. Religion they have in common but their differences are far greater. Persians have always hated Arabs and Arabs have always hated Persians. Ask either and they will tell you that an alliance between the two is unimaginable. And as much as both nations would love a Shia dominated nation, no self respecting Arab would live in a country where the Persians hold a majority.

Images of the Iran Iraq war will remain in the hearts and minds of the people of both nations for decades to come.

Ron P.

"Persians have always hated Arabs and Arabs have always hated Persians. Ask either and they will tell you that an alliance between the two is unimaginable.

Perhaps, then again, some interesting discussion, on the topic.

OT, but... I used to know a loving lesbian couple, back in the days when I lived in the Big Apple, one was Palestinian and the other Israeli. They gave some really memorable parties! They always managed to give me hope for humanity... Unfortunately one of them has since been taken away by breast cancer. Life is short, too bad people still find time to hate.


What a monster. And I didn't know about this. Looks like something from a Star Wars movie.

Mommy, can I have one?

Some of the pictures on that site was fakes though. Anyone having comments on this one?

Definitely an artistic work rather than a functioning piece of military hardware.

Probably Photoshop given the apparent size, but it could be a miniature trick as well.

That said, it looks really well done.

You can see the artist's signature in the bottom right.

Also this Russian website mentions it is an artist's illustration.

I think the price of oil is fundamentally based on the balance between supply and demand. There is a trading range of about $10 either way and any moves outside of that range represent a shift in supply and demand. Any moves within that range are pointless to discuss. The current trading range is $90-110 for WTI.

IMO, the last shift was down which means that demand fell (since we know that supply didn't go up) and we are in a global recession. Economic indications since the price plunge have been that Japan is contracting faster than thought, China is moving surprisingly towards contraction, US is barely growing, and Europe is in a pickle.

If there is a global strong contraction like 2008, then prices should fall significantly. If the current economic situation is just a blip or oil supply falls further that could support or trigger higher prices. I would bet that a recession with government debt or a black swan (like Chinese copper collateral) causes a significant contraction.

gog- I tend to go along with the demand/supply balance for the most part. But it seems we'll need to start thinking of supply capability vs. artificially constrained supply. Back in 1986 the KSA opened their valves wide flooding world with oil and knocking it to less than $10/bbl. They did so to regain market share from other OPEC members that wouldn't curtail production in response to declining demand.

But this isn't 1986 and very few exporters have any excess production to market. Oil prices will still be subjected to supply but what will the supply represent: what the exporters are capable of producing or what they are willing to produce? If the KSA cuts production by 5 million bopd what other countries can make it up? Few if any if we believe the current analysis. But with rising prices will come reduced sales. But lower sales volumes at higher prices won't automaticly mean less income for the exporters...especially the KSA. I have a suspicion that the KSA is experimenting with the price structure to find that sweet spot. While the KSA doesn't share the info IMHO they have a very good idea of their reserves and future production capabilities. Maybe not everyone can afford 90 million bopd at $100+/bbl. But how many can afford 70 milion bopd at $100+/bbl? Maybe enough to still buy all the exporters can produce...or are wiling to produce. At this point the oil they leave in the ground may be worth even more down the road.

Back in 1986 the KSA opened their valves wide flooding world with oil and knocking it to less than $10/bbl.

Well actually they did open their valves and increased production by by almost 1.5 mb/d while the rest of OPEC, combined, increased their production by about .6 mb/d million barrels per day, bringing the total increase that year to about 2.1 mb/d if the EIA numbers are to be believed. The below figures are in thousands of barrels per day C+C.

Year 	Saudi	OPEC
1979	9,532	29,351
1980	9,900	25,383
1981	9,815	21,217
1982	6,483	17,772
1983	5,086	16,568
1984	4,663	16,496
1985	3,388	15,368
1986	4,870	17,460
1987	4,265	17,708
1988	5,086	19,736
1989	5,064	21,396
1990	6,410	22,493
1991	8,115	22,482
1992	8,332	23,741
1993	8,198	24,460

But as you say they could increase production back then because they had dramatically cut production way, way more than they did in 2008 and 2009. But now, in my opinion, every OPEC nation is producing flat out with the possible exception of Saudi. And Saudi, according to OPEC's OMR, is producing only 35 thousand barrels per day less than they produced in February, their highest month since 2008. Saudi may be able to produce as much as half a million barrels per day more of very heavy sour crude, but even that, I think, is doubtful.

You have a good theory Rockman but I am skeptical. Saudi, just like everyone else in the world, really has no idea at what level the price of oil will knock the economy back into the doldrums. They are hoping that the price is not at that level right now. But even if it is there is not a damn thing they can do about it. That is I think Saudi does not want to see another recession that will knock prices back below $50. And if they could produce more oil, especially more of the stuff the world's refineries really want, they would. But they can't, they just can't. And neither can the other OPEC nations.

Ron P.

I agree with your Ron. Picking that oil price sweet spot is like picking stock market timing. If you hadn't read the tale before some clever state administrator decided to raise the price of custom license plates in Texas. The first year the state recieved about $400,000 less then the previous year. So they least discovered where the sweet price spot wasn't and that was the new price. I'm sure the plan looked good on paper.

Maybe the KSA plan looks good on paper too. But getting an update on the financial woes in many EU countries thanks to President Obama's current trip it's easy to imagine any economic forecast model being very wrong.

Then there is this type of speculation peoplerarely speak about; building inventories. If you have a tank farm, it make sense to buy up if you expect prices to rise and sell when you think they will fall. And this is not the futures market, it is real oil traded. I wonder how much impact this has on prices.

Ironically, I came across this article after posting. It was written a couple of days ago but I don't remember it in the Drumbeat.

Do falling gas prices spell recession?

It is impossible to say how far oil prices might drop in a substantial U.S. slowdown, of course. A plunge to the 2008 lows seems implausible, but then until a few months ago so did a return to $4 gasoline.

gog - "A plunge to the 2008 lows seems implausible". Sounds like the dribble coming from the mouths of real estate agents a few years ago. "Of course that house is worth $xxx,xxx. It will be worth much more a few years down the road. Any other expectation would be impausible." Righttttttttttt.

Might be difficult for folks to believe but most of my cohorts in the oil patch have little expectation of prices holding. At least they aren't investing that way. My company still won't use over $75/bbl or $4/mcf in our economic analysis.

Yeah, I agree with your company now. It seems before we had real world data that many of us predicted prices to rise as supply stopped growing. Nobody predicted the continued existence of demand-driven prices that I remember. If supply starts to decline a couple of percent a year and the global economy does not collapse, I suppose we would have to see more supply-driven prices.

Retail gas prices haven't come down much yet, averaging $3.91 a gallon at last check -- a sign, says oil watcher Richard Soultanian, that "maybe even the refiners don't trust the pullback in crude prices." But if current trends continue, the pullback could go further than people expect.

Curiously, as we edge closer and closer to gasoline shortages in the US, even the financial media is making the (false) assumption that lower (WTI) oil prices must - must - bring us all the gasoline we need, at lower prices.

Gasoline wholesalers in the upper Midwest apparently haven't gotten that message, and raised wholesale gasoline prices 16 cents/gallon today alone:

Exxon reports upset at Joliet refinery
Mon May 23, 2011 9:10pm GMT

* Chicago gasoline rallies on supply concerns

* Gasoline diffs climb as high as 16.00 cents over

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote)
reported an upset at its 238,600 barrel-per-day Joliet,
Illinois, on Monday, according to a filing with state

Gasoline differentials climbed as high as 16.00 cents over
futures by the end of the trading day, according to traders.


I am an 27 year old mechanical engineer living in Sockholm. I work as a mechanical engineer at an aging nuclear plant outside of town. I am working with my means to get to a stage of more planed maintenance. But I didn’t write to talk about nuclear plants but to give you my view on the green Stockholm and Sweden.

I rarely write on forums, but sense I often follow the ongoing discussion on the oildrum and the energy situation in the world, I thought I should make a comment when my town were mentioned in the drumbeat.

Maybe Stockholm and Sweden are doing some things right but I would say we are hopelessly dependent on fossil fuels to maintain our living standards. Politicians and management of big companies owning the infrastructure are very shortsighted. Maintenance and investment with the aim of turning the country in to a sustainable economy is minimal.

Every day the Stockholm highways are clogged up with traffic jams and the economy is largely based on unsustainable consumption of consumer goods from China. We are by the way trying to solve the traffic jams buy building more bridges, highways and tunnels. ;) The whole industrial know-how is being moved and dismantled and nowadays you can not even bend large pipes in Sweden, so you have to send them to Germany or Finland.

I cold go on and on, I believe we as humans only change/learn if we put our hands on the stove and burn them. I believe we will have to change to a more local and sustainable society.

In Sweden, Stockholm there is a great will to turn in to a sustainable economy. But PR-campaigns should not fool you in to thinking that a new housing area, where people are heavily in debt to live a fancy life, is sustainable.

I appreciate reading on the oildrum and it’s great to be living in this day and age seeing the future unfold.

Best regards

Welcome to The Oil Drum!

Keep up the posting of good comments.

Compared to the U.S., Sweden is a model of rational energy policy.

As a fellow Swede, I can tell you that this man is telling the truth as it is. The shortsightedness of our elected officials is amazing. But if you can put a PC lable on it, then it will be done ysterday. Political correctness is the new black...

In Sweden our oil dependence is actualy second only to the US. The amount of oil requiered to get the GDP/capita up is the worlds second. The reason behind this is that the country is large and long, while the population is small. Wich means we have high transportation costs. Our economy is more dependant on long range transportation than most other countries.

But it could be solved if we used water transports. 100% of the populated area (1/3 of Sweden is largely unpoupulated) is costal regions, or not to far away from it. With barges we could have long range transport costs reduced to 1/200 the ton, and save litteral ship loads of oil.

I have a stong affinity for Sverige, but I am concerned about the latitude/Gulfstream as well as the apparent dependence on oil-intensive industries for their future economic viability. I'm 1/4 swede, and my Grandfather and Cousin were both engineers in the Military Industries, one in USA, one in Sweden.

It's a complicated mix, and Sweden has some distinct advantages, but as a decidedly 'modern' nation, I also think She (SE) has become mired in some Technological Blindspots that might end up being dead-ends. (Cough, Cough, "Nuclear" being one)


Our energy mix is roughly 45/45/10 nuclear/hydro/others. If/when things start going downhill we will lose lots of industry. Wich will reduce electrical demand. And we have that hydro to fall back on. So my advice is tokeeprunning those reactors as long as they work and then reduce consumption to what hydro can supply.

The thing I find great with Sweden is not our potential to keep the techno dream going, but that we have a low tech option to fall back on.


Even with such a simple mixture, it's very tough to see how it'll play out. I'm always going back and forth between the degrees to which success will hinge on Location, Culture and Preparation (ie, range of technologic options, to some degree)

When my head hurts too much from all that I fall even farther back, onto simpler mantras..

"It's smarter to be lucky than it's lucky to be smart."

A high literacy rate and fairly homogenous ethnicity lend an advantage; fewer differences to overcome. Just a few crazy Finns and Syriacs to make things interesting ;-)

Yeah, and we got all them Iraqees too. The largest iraqi city in the world outside Iraq is in Sweden. The city is often refered to as Baghdad. I think the US should send us some of their oil for what we do about the reugees they make.

Many of your 'Iraqi' neighbors are likely Syriacs or Assyrians, a Christian minority group from the Fertile Crescent region, and actually, many are refugees of the Ottoman Empire breakup (WWI), etc. The US can't take all of the credit:

Diaspora and refugee communities are based in Europe (particularly Sweden, Great Britain, Denmark, Germany and France), North America, Australia, New Zealand, Lebanon, Armenia, Georgia,[34] southern Russia and Jordan. Emigration was triggered by such events as the Assyrian genocide in the wake of the First World War during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the Simele massacre in Iraq (1933), the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979), Arab Nationalist Baathist policies in Iraq and Syria, the Al-Anfal Campaignof Saddam Hussain.[35] and to some degree Kurdish nationalist policies in northern Iraq.

Most recently the Iraq War has displaced the regional Assyrian community, as its people have faced ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremists and Arab and Kurdish nationalists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to have fled, nearly forty percent (40%) are Assyrian, although Assyrians comprise only three percent of the Iraqi population.

Vilkommen til TOD Milo!

It's always great to hear an insiders' view from a place like Sweden that some of us hope will be a leader in moving forward to a more sustainable future.

There is indeed a big difference between PR and reality and your view of current development is sobering. Hopefully, the advocacy of people like yourself can help nudge a new generation of Swedes away from the indebted, consumer lifestyles you are complaining about. Adapting to a new energy-constrained future will be a huge generational shift for sure.

Best regards,


"The whole industrial know-how is being moved and dismantled"

"the economy is largely based on unsustainable consumption of consumer goods from China"

That is exactly what happened to America.

It saddens me greatly to hear of this in Sweden.

I went looking for ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) rope. All made in China or India... America can't even make rope anymore. What would happen if China stopped shipping goods?

I happen to be a student at one of our better universities and many of my professors are peak oil aware, in fact I'd say just about all of them are, and many also work in these areas adjacent to Peak Oil(transport, energy, infrastructure etc etc) and I can say personally that after talking to them, as well as reading reports and research papers I can't disagree more with Milo, not least because he didn't even qualify his outlandish statements.

And I also live in Sweden. But an opinion is an opinion, so I'm sure there are people in Sweden who would answer differently than both me and Milo on this issue.

Being peak oil aware does not imply that the right solutions are being followed. I don't see what makes Sweden so special that it would not be afflicted with the same BAU disease as the rest of the OECD.

Over the past several years, Magnus Redin, from Sweden, has posted a goodly number of comments on what Sweden is doing (and not doing) in response to Peak Oil. I think, based on Redin's comments, that Sweden is doing as much as any other country to get ready for declining oil imports--and perhaps is doing more and better than any other country.

When my children ask me where to go to escape the worst results of declining oil imports, I always say, "Sweden." Then they complain that Sweden has high taxes! Because my children and grandchildren live in the U.S., I will stay here. But if I were young and single, I would move to Sweden.

Don, I think the best place to be is right here in the USA. We have abundant supplies of NG and coal, plus water and great crop land. In addition, our good neighbor to the north is blessed with similarly abundant resources. If things get really bad, here is the place to be. Your children are right.

North America is blessed with resources--especially soil and rainfall for crops. But the U.S. has a dysfunctional government; I think all of the Scandinavian countries have more effective governments than does the U.S.

Canada, with its abundant tar sands may do considerably better in the future than the U.S. does, both in terms of energy and in terms of overall economic performance.

If I were not firmly planted in Minnesota, I might move to the northeastern part of Washington state, an area that I'm familiar with and that will have cheap and abundant hydropower when the fossil fuels become too expensive to burn for energy.

I'm with Don on this. I'm only a handful of years younger than him, so I'm probably stuck. I'd broaden the target a bit, Iceland/Norway/Finland also look pretty good.

Well, you could broaden it further and add Australia and New Zealand to that too. Both countries are net food exporters by a large margin, self sufficient in all energy except oil, and have functional governments, good education etc. Probably similar in many ways to the Scandinavian countries though I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting any of them yet.

The isolation of Aust/NZ being islands is a bit of a double edged sword...

I wouldn't beton Aussie. With climate change, they have more and more problems with food production. They are an importer nation to be. The worlds dryest continent after all. NZ may be better though. Although they score even higher on a isolation score.

I would have to disagree on New Zealand. About 15 years ago I was seriously considering New Zealand and began reading the daily newspapers. The impression I got is that they have an out of control welfare state. They have drive by shooting and waiting lists for hospital service. In other words they have a social policy appropriate to a society with lots of cheap oil. Working for a living will be a hard transition for them.

Might want to check your facts.
US murder rate 5.0 per 100,000
New Zealand murder rate 1.76 per 100,000

So US has 2.84 X more murders than NZ.

And of course way better health metrics too. The hospital waiting times stuff is just right-wing talking points. The US has 45 million uninsured people, and NZ has roughly zero uninsured.
How long do you think the 45 million uninsured wait for hospital services?

Some time ago I lived for three months in New Zealand and was impressed by the friendliness of the people. Since then I've read a number of travel books--e.g. MILES FROM NOWHERE, the best book on bike travel I know of--that mention the extraordinary friendliness of the New Zealanders. It is a country that has never known hunger, and with thirty or more sheep for every person, it is in the fortunate position of being able to export food.

Because of hydropower and other resources, I think New Zealand will do relatively well post-oil. The people are not only friendly, but also seem to be relatively well-educated and resourceful.

I also lived for more than three months in Australia and have to agree with Jared Diamond that that country is close to collapse. Australia and New Zealand are extraordinarily different countries.

Well, having grown up in Australia, and lived for two years in NZ, I will agree they are very different countries (geographically), but I'll disagree that Oz is on the verge of collapse.

Yes it's a dry continent, overall, that is why people mostly live in the temperate/moist parts - ie. the east and south coasts (and Tasmania, but then, leaving Tasmania off the map is a national pastime).

Sydney uses 2/3 the water per person of LA and draws it from a catchment area that is probably less than 1/20 th of LA. There is plenty of scope for getting more water, from further away, but that is currently used for agriculture.

The "water shortage" that everyone talks about is really only a shortage of water to produce vast amounts of food for export. If Australia had to scale back food production only for domestic requirements, there would be no water shortages. For example, Australia produces 24 million tons of wheat, and consumes about 8 - how many other countries can sustain a 2/3 decrease in their wheat crop and still be self sufficient?

Australia also exports more rice, barley and beef than it uses.

If you look at most foods, and then energy sources like coal and NG, Australia's consumption is way less than production - there is no problem providing for domestic needs.

And in an energy constrained world, having lots of food and energy to export is a good situation to be in, I'd say.

Well, if you factor in the important consideration of SURF:

Obviously the Scandanavian countries come up small and cold. Australia looks mighty good! The size of the USA, with less people than greater Los Angeles. Also more variety than New Zealand. Remember - Australia has tropical rain forest in the North. Wet and fertile in the SW corner, surf in the West, South and East. Endless sun!

I divide the world in two: Places to go while still surfing, and places to go afterwards. Sweden sounds great post-surfing (I'm 1/2 Swedish!)

Australia may be friendly to half Swedes, but some of us are treated liked the plague down there.

I met a lot of nice folks in my travels. What is it about you that brings out the black death hospitality mat? I got razzed for being a 'septic-tank Yank' but not too badly. The Euro's seemed to like the place and be well treated.

What is it about you that brings out the black death hospitality mat?

People think my sort has too many children.

Don, you're showing your age when you speak of emigrating from America to Europe as if it's easy nowadays.

Me, I'm staying in Massachusetts, and, damn the doomers, I've got a kid on the way at 36. But I;ll be damned if I've not muttered "this is what we could have" every day whenever I visited Europe.

Apelius, not to argue with your point, but to mention that every country has different 'rules' and categories.

The US has made it difficult to emmigrate legally, but off course, many people just walk right in without signing the guest book. Others fly in on tourist visas and get lost in the shuffle. Same in Switzerland and elsewhere. Then they find loopholes from other people.

In a different category is retired folks who are welcome as residents most everywhere. Also commonly practised if the category of people starting businesses which leads to landed immigrancy. Businesses staring up are welcome just about everywhere.

So, in general, the only problem is getting a work visa, which is often circumvented by local well wishers who will sign up to agree you will not be a burden to the state.

So many ways to live overseas that there are virtually no barriers anymore.

Still think the US and Canada are the best bets tho.

Dave in Malaysia

For what it is worth, the dead-tree edition of the WSJ has a report on "Tomorrow's Transportation".


Given their generally cornucopian views, you shouldn't expect great insights. Their stories on freight rail were kind of interesting:


One interesting thing that comes out of the two freight rail stories are the charts of freight volumes and "productivity".

Freight volume has doubled in the last 30yrs, and the productivity, measured in ton-miles per employee, has gone up by a factor of five. Combining these two statistics, it turns out that the railroads today employ 60% less people that 30 years ago.

The railroads are doing very well - making good profits on both increased volumes and lower staffing costs, which more than makes up for the increase in fuel costs.

An economist would probably say there has been a good "recovery" in the rail freight sector, and they are right, but it has certainly been a "jobless one".

Another example of how the investor class is doing well, while the working class is shrinking. We may yet get to Arthur C Clarke's situation where the machines do all the work for us, but unless you are the owner of the machines your life may not be much better.

An economist would probably say there has been a good "recovery" in the rail freight sector, and they are right, but it has certainly been a "jobless one".

Mmmm. They always seem to ignore that labor costs are inextricably linked to consumer "demand" (as they like to call it).

In the long run, what goes around...

That blue rubber train in the illustration, with the bendy cars, is kinda cool. Gotta wonder about the fatigue life, though.

I couldn't help but be struck this AM by what was airing on two TV stations. On CNN they were showing and talking about the damage wrecked by a tornado that hit in Missouri yesterday. A town mostly got wiped off the planet. On CNBC they were trying to explain why the DOW was down over 170 points. Yet, both stations were doing the same wipe the screen with a subliminal ad for themselves every so many seconds.

Think about that for a moment. Concerns about climate change in the US have been for the most part rejected, just as resource limits have also been either rejected or ignored. So as we hurtle towards the cliff of peak oil and climate change, at the same time we are considered by the TV stations to be so bored we need the screen wiped clean every x number of seconds with a subliminal in hopes of maintaining our attention.

Doesn't that combination of denial and boredom sound like a recipe for disaster?

You're making me think about all those 'Kill your TV' Bumper-stickers, and wondering conversely whether there are a subset of TVs that have 'Kill your Human', stickers as well..

John Carpenter's movie "They Live"
You would really like it, right about now.



Mass media is profound in it's reach and effect. Homer Simpson, a part of our cultural heritage, declares the video screen to be "Teacher, mother, secret lover".

Russia battles fires in Siberia, Far East

Russia is battling wildfires spreading across Siberia and the Far East, with officials scrambling to prevent a disastrous repeat of last year's deadly blazes, the emergencies ministry said on Monday.

Seraph, when I first saw that headline, I thought oh that's from last year. But alas, no, it's now a two year recurring theme. Hmm, does anyone recognize a pattern there? Not really for the generic inumerate guy flipping a steak on the barbe while saying, "Who cares?"

Survey reports 2010/2011 winter honey bee losses

Total losses from managed honey bee colonies nationwide were 30 percent from all causes for the 2010/2011 winter, according to the annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA).

This is roughly similar to total losses reported in similar surveys done in the four previous years: 34 percent for the 2009/2010 winter, 29 percent for 2008/2009; 36 percent for 2007/2008, and 32 percent for 2006/2007.

I've seen no bees around here (MN) yet this year. Don't know how my trees and early flowers are going to get pollinated.

Well, here in the boondocks of northern California, the bees in my "bee tree" are doing fine (an oak with a rotted core). They swarmed last year but a enough stayed to keep the colony going. It's about 100' from where our garden/orchard starts. We've had a tough winter and they made it...but we don't have any commercial AG within 60 miles of us. In fact, there are few home hives due the bears. I gave up 25+ years ago.


I'm beginning to see more feral hives while backpacking, far from any AG.
This may provide some genetic variation eventually, as the introduced European Honey Bee has been selected into a very narrow genetic space.

Honey Bees no longer exist in the wild in Europe I'm told, and this is not good.

I was at a film event a couple of weeks ago and someone mentioned the Chicago area experienced an 80% loss due to the extremely cold and snowy winter.

I always wonder, if the same percentage of losses were applied to cows, for example, or corn, whether people would be apoplectic. I'm sure every resource would be mobilised.

Edit : Bee colony update from Chicago

Bee movie:
Queen of the Sun:
Pretty trailer
Now playing
Comming to N.Y. and L.A. in June

I saw that two weeks ago in Chicago. Well worth seeing. Especially the fly-overs of monocultures.

Up from the patent mine, Rambus sees the light

NEW YORK – Rambus Inc., a company best known for its memory technology IPs and an army of in-house lawyers to protect them, this week came to Lightfair in Philadelphia to pitch the company’s patented lighting solutions, branded as Pentelic.

“Rambus in lighting” isn’t exactly a phrase well known in the electronics industry – at least, not yet. But given the rapid evolution of the lighting industry today, Rambus, already armed with a 10-year licensing deal with GE on advanced LED-based lighting products, is seeing a big opportunity.

Some interesting LED light fixture designs.

These patent trolls are not to be trusted. A few years down the road they will be suing every LED manufacturer claiming they hold the patents. At the end of the day it is the idiotic US patent office that allows for these shenanigans. Companies and individuals can file empty patents and have three years to fill them with details. Rambus sat in on JEDEC SDRAM meetings and then ran to fill in their empty patent claims. So Ramscum will be pulling similar stunts in the future.

These patent trolls are not to be trusted.

I'm with you on this. Id say anyone else before Rambus. They tried to hold the computer industry hostage (for rent taking) for years.

I agree. Many of these patents are tantamount to fraud. Companies keep on trying to patent ideas that have been well known for decades, or that are totally obvious extensions of existing technology, and the US gummitup keeps letting them do that.

Another common business plan is to patent a wild flight of imagination, e.g. a flying pig. Then, after someone actually does create a flying pig after years of hard work and genetic manipulation, with potential billions of dollars in airborne bacon potential, sue them for patent infringement.

Fortunately for the airborne bacon market there is prior art:

Here's mine, but he's out on assignment, saving the world..


Our biggest problem is the total lack of a plan and in action. We have plenty of talk, technical analysis and indecision, but no plan of action.

Wake up people! We need a Smart Revolution ( www.revolution2.osixs.org )- Otherwise we're toast.

The following article focuses on the steam flood project that Chevron is testing in Saudi Arabia, but I thought that the quote that the major oil fields in the Gulf region are more than 50% depleted was pretty remarkable, given that it is in the WSJ:

Facing Up to End of 'Easy Oil'

Saudi Arabia became the world's top oil producer by tapping its vast reserves of easy-to-drill, high-quality light oil. But as demand for energy grows and fields of "easy oil" around the world start to dry up, the Saudis are turning to a much tougher source: the billions of barrels of heavy oil trapped beneath the desert. . . .

"The easy oil is coming to an end," says Alex Munton, a Middle East analyst for the Scottish energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. The major oil fields in the Gulf region, he says, have pumped more than half their oil—the point at which production traditionally begins to decline.

Wow. If it can be discussed in WSJ articles, PO must have reached the mainstream.

And not just some fuzzy-headed general notion of PO, "The major oil fields in the Gulf..."

Remarkable is right.

Wonder what the Saudis think of the WSJ saying that?

Chances of some kind of official reply?

Would anyone believe it anyway?

Wow. If it can be discussed in WSJ articles, PO must have reached the mainstream.

It (peak oil) still cannot be mentioned in MSM, but using the code name "end of easy oil" is permitted.

Is this SAGD in Saudi?

I don't know if they are relying on gravity drainage, but it is a steamflood project. They have a host of problems, and a former Chevron engineer quoted in the article was skeptical of the long term economics. From the WSJ article:

Some experts are shaking their heads.

"They're in trouble," says Robert Toronyi, a retired Chevron engineer who now serves as chief operating officer for Quantum Reservoir Impact, a Houston-based consulting firm. He says the project is so challenging that it will be hard for Chevron to turn much of a profit.

Here is a Chevron link, describing the project:


Do you know if subsidence is among their host of problems?

ASPO-USA asks: “What are we missing?”

What we are missing is any significant talk of the downslope of Peak Oil. While we have spent lots of effort on when a peak might be, the systemic effects of the downslope have been passed by with limited nods to 'transition'. We simply haven't looked at 'then what?'

We aren't going to all go live in the countryside. Governments are not going to implement large scale changes and investments to save the prols. It's going to be triage - what can be saved, and what can be done without - where we are talking about people as what can be jettisoned.

Be it under a 'libertarian' banner, or a 'federated' structure - the only solution that's going to work for those in power is a fence, security and unequal distribution.

That's what we're missing.

In "What are we missing" Nate Hagens makes a mostly true statement that: "We don't have an energy shortage but a longage of expectations".

This statement is largely correct. For many years the US has had the expectation of increasing use of resources to create more wealth and higher "standard of living". Federal government policies have guided this idea with taxing (or lack thereof) and spending. This is especially true for land use, transportation and financial laws enacted in the last 60 years. Well, the tables are about to turn on the US and those that are entenched in this energy intensive system.

The changes to our economy (and the world's) will come slowly as the resources depleat. Just as 150 years of oil exploitation slowly changed this country, oil decline will run the process slowly backward without great catastrophies and atrocities. People, except for the very rich, will slowly lose their wealth as corporate wealth declines. Investment values will decline, as will most property values. Jobs will not pay more and young people entering the job market will make much less over their working lifetimes than those just retiring.

In short we will become a nation of mostly poor people. Many families will not have any savings and fewer will own houses. Most middle class people will not have the expendable income to travel to Europe, Asia or even beyond the US borders. Many families will have only one car, even if two persons work in the household. Houses and apartments might have only one TV and many will forego having cable TV, going to friends house to watch a show or sporting event. Moms will not be providing free taxi service to their and neighbors kids to go to after school activities or social events. Kids will once again have to create their own fun amoung their peers. People will spend more time providing for themselves, be it growing their own food, fixing things around their (or thier neighbors) house, or be directly involved in community improving activites.

The US and the world will slowly return to a social and economic structure similar to what existed 100 years ago. Expectations must be lowered and they will be, but because the decrease in resources supplied will be a slow decline, most will hardy see their lifestyle change from year to year. But over 20 or 40 years the change will be dramatic. The year 2050 will be a lot more like the year 1900 in social and economic norms than most people think, IMO.

Expectations must be lowered and they will be, but because the decrease in resources supplied will be a slow decline, most will hardy see their lifestyle change from year to year.

An interesting perspective, of incrementally reverting, almost as if the clock is simply running backwards. However, I think there are reasons afloat that will accelerate the descent to a much faster pace. For example, due to super straws (horizontal drilling) extraction rates are such that many think the traditional Hubbert curve in reality will look more like a sharks fin, in which descent from the current plateau will sharply drop down. Also, competition between world powers over remaining resources has historically been the cause of wars. Additionally all those loans that default due to a reduction in wealth could be enough to cause economic collapse. And then there is the problem of getting oil companies to drill for oil when it costs say 90 to get a barrel of oil, but the economy is so weak it can only pay for 60 dollar a barrel oil. Many factors can come into play that will make any kind of smooth descent a roller coaster ride. But either way, it should be one hell of a kickass charge down the hill.

The little 2008 hiccup was not smooth. I don't see why any future downturns will be either. We often talk about a series of down steps. I still think this is how it will be. Each down step will knock out another group of people's business as usual. Nobody will downsize willingly. This will be the big squeeze. People who are already used to a certain lifestyle, will have to adjust. And, young people will have to grow up with lower expectations (live at home longer, etc.). Each downturn in the economy will bite a new group. My strategy is to stay adaptive and flexible. I am teaching my son both high level math and carpentry. We often fix things around the house together. I try to get him to think if we can fix it with salvage scraps from the garage before making a trip to the store. Anyone who is unwilling to do something different will have to do without.

P.S. I see the oil price is coming back up this morning. Squeeze!

I agree.
There will be triage as the economy amputates chunks at a time. Which "chunks" will be hard to predict. The downslope will not look the same or happen at the same rate everywhere.
The more I study this whole problem the less and less comfortable I am making specific predictions. My strategy is to prepare as best I can for the worst, hope for the best; stay as liquid as possible with financial resources and flexible in ability to change direction.
Prioritize, conserve, eliminate anything that isn't that important. Make full use of everything that I have and do as much as possible for myself around the house. Never hire contractors unless there is no other option.
Carry no debt and keep always in mind that the default setting for humanity has always been pretty simple; He who has the gold and the guns makes the rules.

With the formed state having finished its course, high history also lays itself down weary to sleep. Man becomes a plant again, adhering to the soil, dumb and enduring. The timeless village and the "eternal" peasant reappear, begetting children and burying seed in Mother Earth -- a busy, easily contented swarm, over which the tempest of soldier-emperors passingly blows. In the midst of the land lie the old world-cities, empty receptacles of an extinguished soul, in which a historyless mankind slowly nests itself. Men live from hand to mouth, with petty thrifts and petty forturnes, and endure. Masses are trampled on in the conflicts of the conquerors who contend for the power and the spoil of this world, but the survivors fill up the gaps with a primitive fertility and suffer on. And while in high places there is eternal alternance of victory and defeat, those in the depths pray, pray with that mighty piety of the Second Religiousness that has overcome all doubts forever. There, in the souls, world-peace, the peace of God, the bliss of grey-haired monks and hermits, is become actual -- and there alone. It has awakened that depth in the endurance of suffering which the historical man in the thousand years of his development has never known. Only with the end of grand History does holy, still Being reappear. It is a dream nobel in its aimlessness, noble and aimless as the course of the stars, the rotation of the earth, and alternance of land and sea, of ice and virgin forest upon its face. We may marvel at it or we may lament it -- but so it is.

Oswald Spengler, "The Decline of the West"

Something that surprised me is that even if, or more accurately when, US per capita oil consumption falls back to our 1949 level, we would still be the world's largest oil consumer (because US population has more than doubled since 1949) and in any case our 1949 per capita oil consumption exceeded France's current per capita oil consumption.

Ya, but I can't buy a croissant at the corner of my street. I need to drive my SUV five miles to the mega mart.

It doesn't have to be that way and is not for millions of Americans. Start by discouraging the megamarts. Mega stores, whether Wal Mart or Home Depot are part of the problem. In the pursuit of the mega and the cheap, we ruined America. Think of all the small towns that are now just shadows of their former selves with the Wal Mart at the edge of the town. This happened because people made decisions which resulted in the destruction of small town and big town culture. This was penny wise and pound foolish and happened because of decisions based on short term greed and the town fathers sold their fellow citizens down the river. And now we pay the piper and wonder what happened to America.

" ...the town fathers sold their fellow citizens down the river."

While I agree somewhat, it isn't that simple. A town near me fought a Super Walmart for years. Walmart had already purchased the land in town, but eventually built a huge store out in the county a few miles from town, and the town lost a huge source of tax revenue to the county. Now folks from adjacent counties flock to the Walmart, never even going to town. The large original plot in town sits vacant, for sale several years now. In-town businesses still suffer either way. Progress...

What's done is done. There isn't enough future energy or capital to rebuild all the small towns to look like 1955 again. And anyway, people's ideas have changed and they won't change back as a whole. Some areas of the country will simply work better under the new paradigm. Here's hoping your area is better suited than Las Vegas.

Be it under a 'libertarian' banner, or a 'federated' structure - the only solution that's going to work for those in power is a fence, security and unequal distribution.

Yes. But it's not clear that those in power will, always and everywhere, remain in power. Indeed, it's quite likely they will not.

The highest-probability outcomes are, no doubt, less than desirable for the masses. But, nothing is certain (except, IMHO, that we will power down) and, even if you are the PTB, you can't always get what you want.

So, there's no excuse for optimism, but I expect that a lot of us will keep trying, anyway. We may be hardwired.

Kalliergo (greek: to grow, to cultivate), right?

Yes, right. Congrats. First, ever, in about 15 years, to get it.

Thanks. I got curious about that moniker and tried spanish, but no go, then tried a google search and there it was.

And that's what I need to do, i.e. start growing things we can eat. Did have grape vines for eating (not wine grapes unfortunatley), but local racoons filled the backyard last year - they go nuts for grapes. Got tired of all the fighting and fending for our cat, and cut out all the vines. I want to grow trees that bear fruit and nuts. Will need to do some research.

Grow food, cultivate community, power down. The key, as arraya (IIRC) said the other day, is to focus on values. The systems (if we are able to create and develop them) will arise from the values.

Raccoons are models of adaptability. Having lived with them in city, town and wilderness, I've accepted that they'll probably always get their share. The problem is keeping them from getting yours, too.

My "job," these days, is helping to figure out how to make urban environments work, so I don't get to cultivate trees much, anymore. But I know what I'd read again, first, if I wanted a strong dose of wisdom and inspiration:

Logsdon: Organic Orcharding

Figs are easy, excellent nutrition, simple to dry, and can survive most places that don't get really cold. Even then, they go completely dormant in winter and can be container grown. Just put them in a basement or garage when it gets too cold.

Many varieties to choose from. I picked up a few really cheap the other day. They thought they were dead because they hadn't been watered. I soaked them in a weak solution of root stimulator and they began growing new leaves within 36 hours (did I mention that they are drought tolerant?). They require very little fertilizer as well and are easy to propagate by rooting. Need full sun to produce well.

On the list you posted : "Hardy Chicago" - they can be planted in US hardiness zone 5/6. Some references indicate zone 4 also. They will die back to the ground over the winter, if planted outside, but come back in the spring.

I got 4 Hardy Chicago and 4 Brown Turkey, all for $10 :-) All recuperating nicely. I rescue a lot of plants this time of year. The trick is to know which ones can be saved. Look for perennials at seasonal sellers (Grocery stores, etc.). They are often root-bound and need to be watered several times a day (out on the asphalt parking lot) which often doesn't happen. Many can't be saved, but for a buck and change (after some tough negotiating) I took a chance. Seems to be paying off. Looks like I'm in the fig business again. Glad I saved all of that bird netting from the dump.

BTW, even the hardier varieties need to be heavily mulched in winter where the temps drop below 10F.

Ghung - Figssssss. Brings back fond memories of my childhood in Nawlins. Figs were essentially the only candy I got as a kid. And I could talk my aunt into making preserves from time to time. Fig and sugar....double mmmmmmmmmmm.

There are a lot of fig trees gone wild in Texas. I met a guy near Austin who would go out in the scrub and prune the fig trees there so that they would produce a good crop. He made fig wine; mighty fine! Fig ice cream, fig jelly, fig gumbo ...

Wild Damsons - round here no one picks the ample delicious fruit. Apple and pears also often drop and rot, again no one stops for them.

We have a 'rails to trails' bike trail near us that is a great way to get to the local town. There are all kinds of fruit trees/vines along the right of way: cherries, plums, apples, blackberries. A friend told me that when the trains used to run there, the railroad workers would throw their lunch trash off the train, trash which included lots of fruit pits which took hold and are now nourishing a generation of bicylers. We've had many a cherry pie from the trail trees.

Fond indeed. I grew up right across that tepid peepond called ponchatrain from N'Awlins. Figs have multiple uses. Green ones make mighty good slingshot ammo for bopping buddies or sibs from behind the garage. but had a problem with the catbirds selecting, just before I did, exactly the most perfect ones to rip up and drop on the cat. But no problem, there were tons of them. My mother made all sorts of goodies and never ran out of figs. When I went to the navy, I could not believe that my N.York buddies had never seen a fig-- or a super fat big flying cockroach husky enough to give the sleeping kid a real hit on the nose in the middle of the night. I brought back one of each-fig and roach- from boot leave to prove it. Big hit!

Figs are easy to propagate from cuttings too. I trimmed off one wayward branch, cut it into pieces, left them in water all winter in a sunny window, and now I have four ;)

I should have mentioned, also, that Chicago has jumped a full climate zone, from zone 5 to zone 6. New climate zone map available from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Edit : on rescuing trees, I rescued a pretty miserable cavendish banana from our local garden store. I now have three cavendish bananas - they overwinter indoors, of course, until climate change puts us into Baton Rouge's climate.

Thought I should mention, Adam Curtis has a new documentary out "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace". The subject should chime with many here.

You may remember his past series; "Century of the Self", "The Power of Nightmares", etc.

Part 1 of 3 has been shown - which you may be able to find in the usual places.

Edit: For the moment:

Just watched it - once again Adam Curtis lays on a full 3 course meal for thought.

It drives home how unstable things are economically and how we're likely right on the cusp of the next transition. Perhaps it will be the Eurozone next - if Italy goes it will make Greece, Ireland and Portugal look like a stroll in the park..

Anybody have an update on Mexico? I though they would have completely imploded by now. Are they still able to subsidize tortillas with oil money?

David Shields has been pretty accurate regarding Mexico. Several years ago, he accurately predicted the rapid decline in total production, because of the Cantarell crash, but at the 2009 ASPO conference, he predicted that the rate of decline in total production would slow, and it has. 2011 production will probably be flat to slightly lower than 2010 production, but it's probably just a temporary slowdown in the rate of decline. David thinks that Mexico is still on their way to net importer status, probably by around 2015 (my guesstimate was that Mexico would be approaching zero net oil exports by the end of 2012).

The BP data base shows that from 2004 to 2009, a 22% decline in Mexico's total petroleum liquids production, with a very slight increase in consumption (1.4%), resulted in a 44% decline in net oil exports. If we extrapolate the 2004 to 2009 rate of increase in Mexico's Consumption (C) to Production (P) ratio (50% to 65%), it shows then hitting 100% (zero net oil exports) in 2018.

Incidentally, global oil prices are currently about three times the 2004 annual price level (although I haven't tracked down prices for the heavy oil that Mexico gets from a lot of their fields), but it's a good bet that their 2011 cash flow from net oil export sales will exceed their 2004 cash flow from net exports sales, at least in nominal terms, even though 2011 net exports volumes will only be a little more than half of the 2004 volume. This is what I call a Phase One decline, where generally rising oil prices offset the decline in the volume of net oil exports. Phase two would be when generally rising oil prices can no longer offset the decline in net export volumes.

The decline in Mexican production was pretty easy to predict if you looked at the underlying reservoir and production data and ignored what PEMEX had to say about it. It was fairly obvious that their nitrogen injection program was just giving a huge short-term boost to production at Cantarell which was not backed up by reserves in the ground.

If a large number of small American producers got a shot at their other oil fields, they could probably crank up their oil production rather dramatically, and keep it high for a long time, but that is politically infeasible in Mexico. Most likely they will become a net oil importer in a few years.

The problem with Saudi Arabia is that you cannot get the underlying reservoir and production data you need to make an estimate of future production - it's a state secret and you could be thrown in jail for looking at it. You have to take what Saudi Aramco has to say on faith, and hope they have a better grasp of things than PEMEX. That may well be a false hope.

In February, U.S. Net Imports from Mexico of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products fell below 0.6 mb/d.

Natural gas prices have languished much longer than I expected. The EIA weekly reports have inventories well inside the average range so prices may finally start to come up. Interesting, that XOM doesn't value the physical gas fields.

Exxon Lags BP After Natural-Gas Gamble

“Prices would need to come up to the $5.50 or $6 range for a sustained period to allow for perpetual drilling,” said Rick Smead, a Houston-based energy analyst at Navigant Consulting Inc. (NCI) who has advised gas producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. on strategy.
“From a financial-returns basis, it’s difficult to say what kind of result they’re getting at this point from XTO,” Ober said. “But from an intellectual-returns perspective, it’s already paying off. This was never really about XTO’s gas fields as much as it was about getting hold of their technology and their people.”

Just my guess but I doubt XOM used a very aggressive NG price escalation in the analysis of the near term value of XTO. I've seen no company use a significant increase in NG price in their economic analysis for at least the first 4 years of a project. We've got a fairly steady supply more and, more importantly, no sign yet of a significant increase in NG consumption. At the time of the XTO acquisition some folks thought it was driven by the desire to own all those shale gas leases XTO had acquired. But in reality most of those leases would expire long before the economics would allow them to be drilled. The acquisition was not XOM 's vote on the viability of the SG plays IMHO. XTO stock got blasted when prices dropped. XOM bought XTO for the same reason most companies are acquired during a bust in the oil patch: it's a relative cheap acquisition of proven reserves. Proven reserves that are getting hard to find and more expensive to drill.

And not to take anything away from my skilled and hard working cohorts at XTO but they hadn't "who pioneered techniques for tapping gas encased in shale rock." The service companies researched and developed the techniques. You do have to give the operators credit for getting out there and applying the technology aggressively. But they didn't invent the wheel...they just made good use of it. XOM had access to all the shale gas development technology for free. And the service company would also throw in lunch. As in almost all fields ops in the oil patch today, 95% of the personnel are not company employees of the operating company but consultants and contract company hands.

Blast hits Iran refinery as Ahmadinejad visits

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An explosion blamed on a gas leak rocked Iran's largest refinery on Tuesday around the time of a visit to the plant by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iranian media reported that up to two people were killed.

The blast occurred just before Ahmadinejad was to inaugurate and expansion project at the 400,000 barrel per day refinery in the southwestern city of Abadan, and injured 20 people, the semi-official Fars news agency said. The explosion was blamed on a "gas leakage," but no other details were provided. Ahmadinejad himself was not injured.

...The plant alone accounts for about 25 percent of Iran's fuel production, which is about 1.67 million barrel per day

Hell of a coincidence. I think somebody is trying to send a message.

S - Maybe but refineries have a bad habit of blowing up even when everyone is trying to keep it from happening. And this from a guy who opted to buy a home across the highway from the largest refinery in the western hemisphere. But I did get a very good deal. Just goes to show you how cheap can overcome concern. LOL.

Rock - You're probably right, but I had this mental image of the last three minutes from the movie 'Syriana'.

While one group of Connex-Killen exec's are dedicating a LNG port, Wasim and his friend execute a suicide attack on a Connex-Killen LNG tanker.

Who knows?

S - True. On the morbid side of refinery explosions: there are seldom bodies to recover. No body...no suicide bomber. Being a life long addict of action movies I automaticly put every real world incident into some Hollywood plot. OTOH I've seen first hand so many stupid safety violations in my 36 years that it's also easy to go that way. Hey...maybe there's a new plot: take an accident and use PR to turn it into some sort of terrorist act. And then use it to push some hidden agenda. Oh...wait...seen that movie already. Or was it something I read in the NY Times? Sorry...get confused sometimes.

Two Greenland Glaciers Lose Enough Ice to Fill Lake Erie

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study aimed at refining the way scientists measure ice loss in Greenland is providing a “high-definition picture” of climate-caused changes on the island.

And the picture isn’t pretty.

In the last decade, two of the largest three glaciers draining that frozen landscape have lost enough ice that, if melted, could have filled Lake Erie.

From NewScientist:

The climate change threat to nuclear power

THE accident at the Fukushima power plant in Japan has led to much discussion about the future of nuclear power. I believe one important lesson of the accident has been overlooked. Nuclear power is often touted as a solution to climate change, but Fukushima serves as a warning that far from solving the climate problem, nuclear power may be highly vulnerable to it.

Beyond the barn: Keeping dairy cows outside is good for the outdoors

...Compared to high confinement systems, keeping dairy cows outdoors all year lowered levels of ammonia emission by about 30 percent. The model results also indicated that the total emissions for the greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide were eight percent lower in a year-round outdoor production system than in a high-production confinement system.

Another plus: When fields formerly used for feed crops were converted to perennial grasslands for grazing, carbon sequestration levels climbed from zero to as high as 3,400 pounds per acre every year. The results also suggested that a well-managed dairy herd kept outdoors year-round left a carbon footprint 6 percent smaller than that of a high-production dairy herd kept in barns.

My access privileges to Professor Peabody's wayback machine revoked, I spent a few hours over the Victoria Day weekend thumbing through Google Books and came across a Popular Science article from October, 1973 entitled Beating the Energy Crisis: More Heat from Less Fuel.

See: http://books.google.ca/books?id=lpiMSzja6W4C&pg=PA123&dq=%22popular+scie...

What's interesting to me is that this story was written presumably one or two months before the 1973 oil embargo, but refers to spot shortages of #2 fuel oil that had occurred the previous winter.

Heating your home takes a massive bite out of our nation's energy supply. In fact, keeping your family and the millions of other families in the U.S. warm accounts for 14 per cent of the country's fuel bill.

Furthermore, the shortage of gas and oil is driving prices in the direction of SkyLab. Worse, fuel won't be available in some areas at some times this winter at any price. The tanks will be dry. That's what happened last year in many areas of the Midwest. Schools, churches and factories had to close because of the lack of No. 2 fuel oil. Homes have top priority and will get whatever oil there is again this winter. But if the situation gets worse this season, some homes -- maybe yours -- may run short of oil, gas, or electric power for heat.

And here we are some forty years later contemplating pretty much the same thing. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


Paul - Interesting...thanks. And as your Cajun cousins would say: "Tis is whad it tis. Shuddup and jus get on wit it."

Back to the ole chicken/egg story: did the embargo cause shortages or did shortages give the exporters leverage to embargo?

It's an interesting question, Rock. I'm inclined to believe the latter.

Going back a generation, my parents would have been instructed to do this: http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=82411


Paul - Cute video. Your parents? Heck...those were pretty much the rules in my house growing up. Hadn't thought about it in decades but had to get my school work done before dark. Still have a very vivid memory laying in bed in the dark feeling the sweat run down my face on a hot August night...couldn't afford to run the fan at one point. First time I lived in an air conditioned home was my senior year in college.

Next time I'll tell you about avoiding the Comanche war parties while walking to school.

My parent's conservation ethic was exceedingly strong, even at a time when the real cost of oil and electricity was on the decline. Growing up during the depression and having experienced the shortages of the war and immediate post war years, the thought of wasting anything was morally repugnant. Dad was also a prisoner of war and this too coloured his life outlook tremendously. No surprise some of this would rub off.


On the topic of old books predicting today's reality, I came across this one a while ago, while ago, from a a story in the No Tech Magazine

Commercial peat: its uses and possibilities (1909)

You can read it online. The introduction has such amazing facts like "2/3 of Newfoundland is peat bogs". The first chapter talks about "the coming petrol shortage" and making cellulosic ethanol from peat.

The motor industry, which is fast becoming one of the world's greatest industries, is thus dependent upon the supply of a fuel which to all appearance must, according to the present trend of progress, fail in the near future to be equal to the demand. The Motor Union of Great Britain and Ireland became somewhat alarmed at the serious rise in the price of petrol, and in September 1906 it was suggested that a special Committee should be appointed to fully discuss this important subject.

Peak Oil, back in the day.

Now see if the next part sounds at all familiar;

Alcohol offers a complete and satisfactory substitute for petrol so far as its properties are concerned, and hence probably the most important recommendation of the Committee is that connected with the production on a large scale of alcohol for the purposes of a fuel. It may be noted that the argument added to all others, but which to many in this country would probably appear the most important of all, is the fact that it would form a home industry, especially if produced from some substance, such as peat, potatoes, or beet, which would place the country in an independent position with regard to foreign supplies, a consideration which, it should be noted, is leading the Governments of France and Germany, particularly the latter, to give every encouragement to the use of alcohol as a fuel.


The conclusion which was impressed upon the committee more and more at each meeting was that a famine in petrol appears inevitable in the near future, owing to the fact that demand is increasing at a rate much greater than the increase in supply. The very important matter of the coming shortage does not seem to be realised by those most concerned…

They reported some success in making ethanol from peat;

After experimenting for over two years, a company in Copenhagen has developed a process for the extraction alcohol from peat ... yielding 40 gallons per ton

Oddly enough, a company in Denmark today is making ethanol from straw, proclaiming this is the way of the future, and their yield is - 42 gallons per ton!

So, the more things change, the more they stay the same..

I actually like the old style peat ethanol approach better – if it had worked, there would be a certain coolness factor to saying your car runs off fuel from "peat bogs"

Especially if it looked like this;

[1909 Alco Six race car]

USAToday Compares Climate Change Deniers To Birthers

... Hopefully this awakening will continue and grow. The fact is there are a lot of issues that everyone should be paying attention to and having fights over what is and what is not a fact does nothing to fix them.

It seems the seriousness of it all is becoming clearer to a larger number of people, and calling the spade a spade is finally coming into fashion.

'Bout damned time.

China’s Utilities Cut Energy Production, Defying Beijing

... The official Xinhua news agency reported late Monday that the country’s main electricity distribution company, the State Grid, had warned that power shortages this year could be worse than in 2004, when China had its worst blackouts in decades.

In Yiyang, a town of 360,000 in south-central China, electricity shortages are so severe this spring that many homes and businesses receive power only one day in three. Even gasoline stations in this region are silent more days than not, because the pumps lack electricity.

And on the other side of the world;

REC Group announced they are laying off workers at two solar cell plants in Norway due to dropping demand. They also closed the Swedish module plant last fall. (The module plant racks up the cells into the panels. There is still a lot of hand work in that operation.)


Q-cells isn't doing very well either.

Q-Cells SE has recorded a significant drop in sales compared to the same period last year as a result of weak market demand in the first quarter of 2011. Sales of EUR 125.1 million were approximately 46 percent below the value for the first quarter of 2010 (EUR 232.3 million)


I watched some videos on YouTube a while back that showed some solar panel assembly machines that were doing just about everything automatically. I wonder if this is more of a case that a 15 year old, hand operated plant cannot keep up with modern, automated lines?


I wonder if this is more of a case that a 15 year old, hand operated plant cannot keep up with modern, automated lines?

The low cost producers, like SunTech, Yingli, and FirstSolar are doing fine. The industry is becoming more competitive, and the less efficient businesses are being driven out. In addition to low cost labor, the Chinese have lower financing costs. PV panels are more capital intensive than labour intensive so the later fact is more important. A few years back, demand versus supply was such that even inefficient producers could sell at a profit, now supply is much greater than then, and demand while much larger than before hasn't quite kept pace.

Ted Turner says Obama should have put energy first

Speaking at the American Wind Energy Association’s WindPower 2011 conference in Anaheim, Calif., Turner said the United States would have been better served if President Barack Obama had spent his political capital on passing encompassing energy legislation instead of a massive healthcare overhaul.

...when you call me, I will come to Washington and I will lobby for you and I won’t charge you a nickel, because I think it is the right thing to do. And let’s go out there and let’s win this time

ASPO should drop TED a line and ask him to lobby for 'Peak Oil' [pro bono]

Ted Turner says Obama should have put energy first

Turner is right too. If Obama had only achieved one thing - energy modernization, it could have transformed this country dramatically for the better. When first in he had a Dem senate and congress to pass a stimulus bill that could have had a trillion go towards a smart grid, algae r&d, wind, solar, geothermal and all the jobs that go along with that transformation. But now the repubs are the majority in the House it's impossible. One of the most glaring missed opportunities in the history of humankind, bar none. Bases loaded in the ninth with 2 outs and whiff, whiff, whiff, 3 strikes he's out and we all lose in the process.

If he had properly fixed US healthcare, so as to cut the cost from 15% to 10% of GDP, he could have freed up resource and capital to truly address the energy issue.

As it is, the reform of healthcare was stopped, all the money was spent propping up the banks, and there is no scope for the scale of energy change needed to stop even the worst of US waste. Obama, even with another term won't deliver it, and a republican will do even worse.

In practical terms, even if everything went much better than expected, the US won't/can't make progress till we are knocking on 2020 - far too late.

That's a pretty good summary, garyp.

I honestly think that the only (slim) hopes for approaching our fate with a semblance of sanity rest upon community, local and regional actions.

Nation-states, especially ones as large and heterogeneous as the U.S., don't seem likely to be able to handle PowerDown effectively.

Ignore 'em. They'll probably go away. ;^(

pass a stimulus bill that could have had a trillion go towards a smart grid, algae r&d, wind, solar, geothermal and all the jobs that go along with that transformation.

You do realise that governmnet has been spending billions (thouigh not trillions) on some of these things, right?

The Dept of Energy has been doing algae research since the '80's and the conclusions now is as it was then - not economic.
Geothermal research is going on, but the problem is the same as wind - diffuse energy that needs to be "gathered" at great expense.
Solar, well, we know how that's going.
There have been billions spent on cellulosic ethanol, for no real result
A "smart grid" is merely an excuse for GE and the like to sell a lot of equipment to gather data so that a lot of people can spend time analysing the data.

I'm not saying the government shouldn't be doing stuff, but..

The country is not about to run out of electricity any time soon. Yes, a lot of it comes from coal, and that has its own environmental issues, though the air quality one has been addressed. Alternatives can and should be developed, for sure, but spending massive massive amounts on alternative ways to create something that is not in scarcity, and is not imported from overseas, should not be the top priority.

What would be better is investing in ways to have America (and Americans) use less of the stuff.

But even more important is oil - even a 100% renewable electricity grid will not decrease oil imports any meaningful amount. And while money is spent chasing some alternatives, like ethanol, it is, for political reasons, not spent chasing others that hold more promise (methanol).
And, even less is spent on the real problem - which is reducing America profligate consumption of the stuff.

In that regard, he did miss an opportunity, though it is not entirely his fault.

But keep in mind, that finding alternate sources of energy, be it electricity or oil, will do little reduce America's consumption of it. Giving at least equal priority to reducing consumption will mean the alternate sources have at least a chance of being a decent portion of the supply.

China oil demand to increase by 4-5%, overtake the European oil consumption by 2020


(and where is all this oil going to come from?)


I have to chuckle at the folks who say when we are all local and we have little the government will not be able to tax us. Let us think back 1000 years. Where did ones farm production go? 1/3 for tax, 1/3 for work animal feed, 1/3 to eat to stay alive. Death and taxes are not going away with localization.

Death and taxes are not going away with localization.

Nor should they (well, death can go away if birth does, too).

Civilization requires governance and governance entails cost. If we're (proactive and) lucky, here and there, some of us may get to pay those taxes to local representative councils, rather than to the resident warlord--or corporate aristocracy.

Is somebody actually saying this, Ed?

I don't remember this being one of the claims supporting localization. Was it just a dig at the Localize Mvmt?

Chuckle all you like, but provide links please.

For me it is not a matter of the government not being able to tax us, it is a matter of us claiming the commons, claiming localized control of resources as some cities have done to fight coal mining, etc., and telling the government to go to hell when it demands taxes that cannot be paid - not because the government is bad, but because we are the government, and any government that does not understand that simply needs to be replaced or rebooted.

We'd need a lot less taxes if we localized to the degree sustainability demands.

California: Aggressive efficiency and electrification needed to cut emissions

In the next 40 years, California's population is expected to surge from 37 million to 55 million and the demand for energy is expected to double. Given those daunting numbers, can California really reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, as required by an executive order? Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who co-wrote a new report on California's energy future are optimistic that the target can be achieved, though not without bold policy and behavioral changes as well as some scientific innovation. [nuclear fusion - no problem]

... One of the report's major findings is that the state will need a very different electricity system that is better able to balance supply and demand while integrating more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which are intermittent. "The grid as it currently stands is entirely unsustainable," says Greenblatt. "We're going to see a very different grid in 2050 than we have now."

The scientists calculated that wind power, for example, would have to grow at 7.5 percent annually and solar at 12 percent annually. The report also considered the impact on land use from scaling up such operations; it estimated that 1.3 percent of the state's land area would have to be devoted exclusively to renewables. ... On the demand side, the report recommends aggressive efficiency measures, such as retrofitting 1.8 percent of all buildings every year starting now.

LBNL Summary Report: California's Energy Future -- The View to 2050

... The Berkelely Lab scientists find cause for optimism. Already, for example, Americans are eating less red meat than they did a generation ago, which is beneficial for the environment. "There's portion of the population very interested in green living. [They're called poor people]

italics added

California's Energy Future -- The View to 2050

You can really see the dark at the end of the tunnel in this document. My prediction - the majority of Californians will be riding bicycles and using beeswax candles for light by 2050. Those few of them that still have jobs might be able to afford EVs and photovoltaic lighting, but I wouldn't count on it.

California might be a good place not to be in 2050 - as if it's a good place to be right now - convicted felons potentially excepted.

My prediction - the majority of Californians will be riding bicycles and using beeswax candles for light by 2050.

No. There's almost no chance of producing that much beeswax.

Other than that, your prediction is hardly a fate worse than death. Much more problematic will be keeping the water and food distribution systems operating.

As for the convicted felons issue, it might be wise to remember that great disparity in wealth is a sure-fire generator of criminal activity (and resource wars), and that California (and the U.S. in general) are exemplars of that condition. We also have an all-pervasive prison-industrial complex, sold to the masses by pandering to the basest of instincts, for the purpose--as usual--of enriching and empowering special interests with political clout.

There will likely be more "felons" in 2050, but it is probably a mistake to expect that as many will be convicted.

Rocky - As I've said before we have plenty of room in Texas. You don't even have to bring your own guns...we have plenty to spare. Just saw a report that 90% of our population occupies just 3% of the land. And let's not forget that 75% of all the new jobs created in the US the last few years were in Texas. Yep....25% of the new jobs were split between the other 49 states. The south in general is looking good to lots of folks. A little town in Miss. is the fastest growing city in the US: in 10 years the pop. increased 10X. And it's still a nice little town with less than 40,000 residents. A huge new tax base so lots of brand new govt services going in. Plenty of money for new roads, schools, hospital, etc. Rather sureal to watch this news story and think about conditions in other parts of the country.

Do you have a reference for the 75% of new jobs are in Texas? Thanks. Unemployed two years here in New York state.

List of US States by unemployment rate

North Dakota 3.3
Nebraska 4.2
New Hampshire 4.9
South Dakota 4.9
Vermont 5.3

Apparently, North Dakota is the place to be. The Bakken oil play must really be hot there.

Nevada 12.5
California 11.9
Rhode Island 10.9
Florida 10.8
Mississippi 10.4
Michigan 10.2

Nevada and California are definitely the places not to be. The situation must be dismal there.

The average for the US is 9.0%. However, New York at 7.9% was nearly the same as Texas at 8.0%

Interestingly, the Canadian unemployment rate is currently 7.6%, which is lower than Texas and includes some areas that have had chronic unemployment problems for the last 100 years. It is now lower than it was for the entire period from 1985 to 2000. For Canada the "Great Recession" was more of a speed bump.

How is the fresh water supply in Texas holding up for the new arrivals?

Texas Drought 2011: State Endures Driest 7-Month Span On Record May 9, 2011.

Read the article. Paper's in the queue.

The article uses "efficiency" and "conservation" virtually interchangeably. I think that's an error. Not sure if that's Garrett or the university PR people.

At first glance, "Garrett's Constant" seems like a stretch... but I'll read his paper.

Sadly, his conclusion is probably correct, whether his model is valid or not.

My take: His model is too simple. I agree with its macro conclusions, but only if I ignore my training. That is, I am certain he is correct in any version of BAU lite or BAU super-lite or BAU-whathaveyou.

Where his analysis falls down is in not doing any broad lit review to constrain his pessimism. For example, he is correct in saying efficiency cannot save us, but he gives essentially zero chance we will actually find a solution. But, we have a solution: power down, simplify. Even Tainter came to this conclusion: A society on the brink of collapse can choose to power down. Any that choose to use technology to solve the issue of energy per capita,

It is all because of speculators:

CFTC charging several people with manipulation.


Report claims U.S. can curb carbon emissions while boosting domestic oil production

.A report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The University of Texas at Austin urges the U.S. to accelerate efforts to pursue carbon capture and storage (CCS) in combination with enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a practice that could increase domestic oil production while significantly curbing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

...As a tool for enhanced oil recovery, CO2 injected underground could boost domestic oil production by as much as three million barrels a day by 2030, according to one estimate, an increase of more than 50 percent over current levels.

A copy of the report, which was just released based on work begun in 2010, can be found at Reports and Presentations from the Symposium on the Role of Enhanced Oil Recovery in Accelerating the Deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage

S - Great catch...thanks. If one has the time it would be very illuminating to study the entire report. As exciting at that 3 million bopd gain may seem, the report does an excellent job of explaining all the potential barriers that might prevent getting anywhere close to that number. This report is not a cornucopian's wet dream. A hopeful course but a long list of sobering realities. Here's just a few:

"EOR with CO2 from coal power plants will not be commercially viable absent government subsidy "

" Federal (sequestation) programs have paid relatively little attention to the CO2 transportation infrastructure. ... up to 30,000 miles of new pipelines developed over decades will be needed."

"there was considerable disagreement among symposium participants about the extent to which government should assume long-term liability for CO2 storage". IOW without the govt assuming liability similar to how the nuclear industry is treated it's doubtful the oil industry would participate.

" There is significant uncertainty surrounding the capacity of these (EOR) zones and additional research and analysis are required to fully understand (EOR) potential. ...there is a high degree of uncertainty about total EOR capacity."

So for what sounded like a pie in the sky projection it does a great job, IMHO, of showing some rather formidable barriers to reaching even a small portion of that 3 million bopd gain. And even if it does materialize to some significant extent it will happen only long after US production has possibly declined as much (or even more) then the gain from such projects.

And even if it does materialize to some significant extent it will happen only long after US production has possibly declined as much (or even more) then the gain from such projects.

Right. I read through it, quickly. It's well-researched and -written and pretty well-balanced.

It does not, however (unless I missed it), deal with the point Rock makes. Production declines & depletion continue, while CCS-EOR is a gleam in a few folks' eyes.

Maybe we'll try it, with some success. The net result is highly unlikely to be sustained domestic production at 150% of current numbers.

k - You're exactly right. That's my expectation. They don't address current domestic oil production at all. That's why I try to make the point of tossing in "IMHO" to distinguish my thoughts from others. I actually had a theory that salvaging CO2 for EOR was a more viable approach (at least at current high prices) then the report seems to offer. Guess there may be a little bit more cornucopian in me than I thought. Who'd thunk? LOL.

You've had effectively-unlimited access to BBIC for too long. It's leading you to unreasonable expectations.

Maybe Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) might be the ticket after all.

How much coal is in the Permian Basin?

CO2 on site and ready to go!

Tornadoes on the ground in the vicinity of Oklahoma City.

S - My step daughter is home on vacation from her consulate post in Africa. Being a good govt worker she won't share details even with the family but she offers enough hints that there's a good bit of nervousness at some consulates that aren't even in the news yet. Fortunately for her mom's sanity the girl is in a very safe region...they don't even have an MGU (Marine Guard Unit). She lives in her own nice house with a roof top deck overlooking the beach.

My stepdaughter was doing tribal negotiations for the UN in Afghanistan, and her office was bombed twice.
I was put on the no fly list when she called me from Mazar Sharif several times on my cell (that is my assumption, although I have a rather colorful international history).
We finally persuaded her to come home.

trekker - You have to respect all the folks that volunteer to go in harm's way for our country. OTOH hand I would have probably had to have my wife under full time mental care if her kid had gone to Afgh.

I was Ok on the last trip but the prior one I also found myself classified as you. Not sure why but it might have been the result of an extended conversation I had with airport security on a previous trip. I have a bad habit of expressing how I feel in simple language...probably from dealing with oil field hands for 36 years. Turns out the security folks at the airport don't appreciate constructive criticism. Who would have thought. Getting treated badly never bothers me. Again, maybe because after 36 years as a geologist I'm use to it. But when a young mother with a baby gets treated badly the good ole boy Texan in me comes out way too easy. But at least I didn't miss my flight...but it did come close.

Saudi Arabia doesn't want you to see these videos:


My computer froze trying to load that video and needed to use ctrl/alt/del to end task. But maybe it's just our computer?

Hunts Point produce co-op reaches deadline

The produce vendors at Hunts Point are not even close to signing a new lease with the city—the current one expires on May 31—but they are likely to stay in the Bronx for at least the next several years.

City officials and members of the Terminal Produce Cooperative Market say they are hammering out a short-term extension while they haggle over a 30- or 40-year lease that would include a $320 million revamp of the antiquated facility, the country's largest wholesale produce market.

But a temporary arrangement with New York will not stop the cooperative's talks with New Jersey officials, who are aggressively trying to persuade the market to relocate. In fact, a significant minority of the 47 members of the cooperative are fed up with the dilapidated site and with the city's dithering on how to fund an upgrade. They want to move to the Garden State and are putting further pressure on the tense negotiations between the city and the produce executives.

Note that there is little rail freight access to Hunts Point. The nearest freight rail bridge across the Hudson is just south of Albany. Freight is not sent through the rail tunnels. Between Albany and Hunts Point the rails are limited in the weight and size of cars that can be accommodated.

If the produce wholesalers move to NJ, they may get a location served by rail freight. This has big implications for the trucking industry. It also has big implications for how energy efficiently food can be moved to New York City, Long Island and Westchester and Fairfield countys.

Having two suppliers is best than you can threaten one with the other. If you do not update we move x% to other site. They should operate out of both New York and New Jersey.

Urban officials who don't do a better job than this at maintaining critical lifelines deserve the consequences--but their citizens don't.

If I were a New York planner, I'd be explaining to the political bosses why we should be in serious talks with the vendors, and why it is long past time for a freight rail crossing near the City.

I expect too many of those officials labor under the delusion that the City's real wealth is centered in lower Manhattan. Soooo last century...

I wish people would build, design, speculate and talk about complete renewable energy systems. That is the generation part AND the storage part. We need to understand total cost for renewables.

How much per KWhr for
1) PV and stored hydro
2) PV and stored methanol
3) PV and stored ammonia
4) PV and stored thermal salt

same questions for solar thermal, wind on-shore, wind off-shore

What will be the total system cost for energy?

I wish people would build, design, speculate and talk about complete renewable energy systems.

Volunteering to start up a new site? ;)

...I am not aware of existing TOD-like sites for such discussions, but plenty of information out there, including Homepower ( www.homepower.com ). For announcements of commercial PV I tend to read PV Tech ( http://www.pv-tech.org/news/list ) , and solarbuzz.

Hope those URLs help you.

Well, PV is expensive enough to start with, and is also produced during the day, when electricity demand is at it's peak. Given that PV currently produces less than 0.1% of US electricity, why even bother with the expense of storing it, when you can just use it directly?

But the short answer to your question is, to paraphrase Jeff Rubin, that if you try to do any of those systems of PV to X, the cost will be so expensive that you won;t use that system - you will do without hydrogen/methanol/ammonia.

But if you want some good info from people who design and build solar stuff, then you should check out www.builditsolar.com

And finally, your US government is paying for someone to do solar to molten salt, so they can store expensive solar heat to use at night when there is already surplus of electricity!

Look for the pretty picture of the solar field for the link;

Thanks. Looks like SolarReserve's 110MW 24/7 plant costs $737M. t used molten salt. So about $6600/KWhr of capacity. No mention in the article of unit cost $/KWhr.

Why are you just after the cost?

These options you mention all seem to be ones that have been shown to be operable, (some sourced with CSP, not PV) while few have been developed to a scale that would give them correllating advantages in their price. But they are workable and generally not environmentally as desctructive as burned fuels, dirty externalities for which we DON'T have to add in any hard costs.. so what is the objection that you're looking to find?

What if it's pricey, but the other fuels have become so scarce that they've gotten MORE pricey? Should we have used our Crystal Balls a little and hedged our bets that a workable, yet expensive system might be a worthy addition to a system that is likely to start stumbling otherwise?

It might be helpful to price out a 'complete system', but I don't think it's as necessary or useful as you do.. Wind and Solar can be productive additions to the grid and we'd have a long way to go before we've gotten the whole system up to a level where volumes of storage are essential, so I don't see why they'd have to be lumped in together, unless it's to construct an argument for convincing those who haven't noticed that FF's are getting more precious, that we don't like to favor anything that isn't as cheap as this legacy oil that we've been so spoilt by..

Here's a general fuzzy response, based on what I have heard from people who say they know what they are talking about:

Solar has got to be the steady state energy source, so we had best get some solid data about it, hence makes sense to be doing a lot of field trials of all combo's, no matter how silly they might appear.

Solar thermal is cheaper/watt than PV because it can run 24 hrs/day, either with molten salt or with combustion.

Solar thermal can produce mechanical power directly, so can be used effectively to pump water. Best place is a sea coast with lots of sun, water and hills. There are plenty of such places- red sea is one.

Could site industrial parks adjacent to above seacoast solar power places- energy intense products made with cheap energy and cheaply shipped all over (wind kite freighters, etc)

Could also use same site for super sybarite sin palaces so that billions of people could come to live out their sex fantasies with unearthily attractive robots, sterile, of course, Solves population problem.

OK, enough design speculate and talk for just before bed time. Hope this helps.

PS. Cost. There are two kinds. The first does not count the environment and the future. That is a sin, and wrong too. The second kind of cost counts every consequence and charges for all of it. That is impossible, but that does not excuse us for not making a good guess, like any proper engineer would. I have spent my entire engineering lifetime guessing. After a while it doesn't even hurt much.

I would dispute that solar thermal is cheaper than PV (unless you simply want heat). PV is in a cheap cost reduction curve. Solar thermal uses a lot of low tech materials (frames, mirrors pipes, that won't drmatically drop in price). Solar Thermal kilowatt hours should (in a rational system) command a higher price because the power is less time variable, and to some extent may be dispatchable. I think solar thermals future is very quetionable, because PV is getting cheap.

Cost? Grid Weenie! I breath your 'cost' every day.

Report: Smart grid could cost $476B

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Costs and benefits of building a smart electric grid have more than doubled as the vision of a digital, networked power utility has expanded, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute. Sensor networks are on the rise as one of the big and under-served opportunities in the diverse terrain of the smart grid.

The EPRI report estimated the cost of upgrading the U.S. grid could range from $338 to $476 billion, up from $165 billion in a 2004 forecast. Benefit estimates have also skyrocketed to a range of $1.2 to $2 trillion, up from $660 billion estimated in 2004.

Wonder which report is correct. Maybe the high cost from report two and the low benefit from report one are correct? With no facts to work from this is 25% likely true.

Probably depends on how many people have items that use Smart Grid or electric cars that replace oil, but I am not holding my breath.

Smart Grid: more machines that consume power 24 hours per day. I'll continue using real power switches found on power strips.

Some forms of smart grid could go far in providing effective storage of renewable energy, and this would largely demand data-driven switches, not just power strips.

For me, the smartest use of smart grid would be to 'charge up' the EV, the fridge, freezer, hot water heater and building environment controls (etc.) when power is in excess and cheap, and to be able to engage and disengage that draw quickly but smoothly across a wide swath of customers.

This would create a wide tolerance for variable inputs like Solar, Wind, Tide, etc.. and if built with user-controlled setpoints, (ie, 'start to Buy at .12/kwh', or 'allow Hot Water Tank to descend to 100degF before boosting') would help engage the consumer in actively choosing how they are using their energy supply.



Not disagreeing with your ideas about "charging up", but none of that requires a "smart grid", all it would require is some programmable control at the home - to use the current terminology -"there'll be an app for that".

What you are describing is not smart grid at all, but smart consumer - doing the equivalent of what industrial users do, where they have a full time energy manager.

One change that would be needed, is to allow the homeowner to have market linked rates, and this could certainly be done, just needs a smart meter (existing technology) and then a defined spot price point that rate is based on. All of this an be done, today, without needing to touch "the grid".

In fact, if it was implemented, and we saw load levelling happening, we would have spare capacity in "the grid", so we would not, immediately,. need to build more of it.

I really wish that just once someone would actually define this "smart grid" thing before using the term in an article or report. We've got cost estimates for building "it", but if you ask 10 people what it is you'll get 10 answers. Or more. It's the thing that's gonna make everyone's technological fantasy come true. The master buzzword made up of an assembly of constituent buzzwords.

The technologists think we're going to role out all these new communication networks and new protocols and networked devices everywhere so we can all have flying grid tied PHEV's and wind turbines on our roofs or whatever. And soon too, get ready here it comes! There will be a host of new protocols and other standards to comply with, as soon as they are written and heavily revised a few times. And all sorts of new products will just pop onto the market.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Fatherland Security has heard that you may have an Ethernet port in your substation and is sending in the IT storm troops to make sure there are no terrorists inside it. They are pretty sure there is a security problem, as the guys who wrote Stuxnet are 5 cubes down the hall. There will be a host of new security standards to comply with, as soon as they are written and heavily revised a few times. And all those new products will all fully comply.

And the utilities, the ones who have to spend the money to install the new gear are doing ..... well, not much of anything really. See they want to make money, and with the crash of housing and new development they're not really big on spending it. Also, they don't have much in the way of staffing anymore, so they will do exactly what they have to do, and not a bit more. They read some basic measurement values every 15 seconds or so over serial ports at 9600 baud, and now and then they check system stability based on data from tables and a few actual measurements, and hey that's good enough. Your local line is likely protected by some old electromechanical relays set high to avoid nuisance trips and just let the local fuses blow. Because of the staffing and capabilities problem any new work will be done by contractors and consultants.

The part of the "smart grid" that is actually getting implemented in part is time of use billing meters - the part that deals with getting money from customers. The rest of it will be coming along a lot slower, and in some places not at all. So the world of tomorrow is going to have to run on the grid of yesterday for awhile. Good luck with that.


Or, slightly more simply: If you want to run out and buy an EV tomorrow, you'd better hope that not too many of your neighbors want the same thing.

I really wish that just once someone would actually define this "smart grid" thing before using the term in an article or report. We've got cost estimates for building "it", but if you ask 10 people what it is you'll get 10 answers. Or more.

Agreed. It is such a good catchphrase that everyone is using it, just for the sake of using it.

There are ridiculous proposals for all your appliances to be able to be controlled from your smartphone form as far away as the other side of the world - why would you want to turn your water heater on or off when you are in London?

It is an excuse for a lot of control equipment that is not needed, and in many cases will cost more than it saves in electricity.

That said, I do agree with the time of use meters, and ToU rates. They have been used in Australia, NZ, Britain and like most European countries for decades, and they are the single best way to smooth the load curves. And, they give some modicum of control to the home occupants - run your dishwasher/washing machine after 9pm, use night store heaters, use a twin element, off peak water heater, etc and you can make a substantial reduction in your bill, and reduce peak loads on the grid. Off peak rates are typically 1/2 to 1/3 of on peak, so there is a substantial incentive to load shift.

other than that, the benefits of the "smart grid" do not match the hype, assuming, as you said, you can work out what the smart grid actually is.

Time of use billing makes perfect sense, it's just not going to change the world that dramatically. It's a way of moving totally asynchronous loads towards a more controlled pattern using cost as the control mechanism.

Part of the problem with smart grid is all the government money made available to fund it. Armies of consultants and others have all been reaching for the candy, writing proposals to tell those with the purse strings what they want to hear. That just increases the hype.

But it's got the words Smart and Grid in it - it must be something we all need!

My issue with the urge to load balance is that if you achieve it to even a fair percentage, then there's no longer such a thing as peak and off-peak. Therefore the billing will switch back to single rate again as there is now no "under utilised" power. And I'm cynical enough to think that the single rate wont drop much for it.

Oh, and before the TOD pedants start leaping up and down, I fully understand that it is highly unlikely to get close to even loading, but I'm willing to bet that the current generous off-peak rates would soon evaporate.

There are very good reasons to want to smooth out the peaks and valleys - it certainly helps with stability and reliability. A lot of the people working on implementation believe that is what they are working on. But among those who are driving this are people who deal primarily with money, and to them the benefit of smoothing out the load is that you would then have excess capacity you could sell.

The idea is to defer a larger infrastructure cost associated with increased generation and capacity by implementing a complex control system on the existing system. That in turn allows you to push more though the existing pipe, an appealing idea to accountants and the like as it sounds like something for nothing. The idea that any time you run any system flat out you set yourself up for catastrophic failure usually gets lost. Unfortunately it will cost much more than they think, more than we will have, and it will take much longer than advocates assume. It's no different than all the other infrastructure issues we face, where we really can't afford to maintain what we built in the days of growth before energy & resource costs got too expensive, especially while we're trying to fund the military to maintain our empire.

You don't go into resource depletion with the grid you want, you go with the grid your grandparents built. And paid for.

T, there are certainly real benefits to be obtained by levelling loads. As we speak, wind turbines are being shut down at night in the PNW because of a lack of transmission capacity out of the area. If there was more local shifting of load to the offpeak hours, those turbines would still be spinning.
There is nothing wrong with the accountants wanting to maximise returns - I wish the government would take that approach sometimes!

None of this, however, is an excuse for relaxing limits on capacity reserve margins etc - the grid stability must be maintained first and foremost.

But I do think there is lots of potential for residential load shifting (and reduction)

Paul from Halifax is all over the ductless heat pumps which are huge energy savers. The night store type heaters used in NZ and England make a big difference, and then there is a surprisingly simple improvement to the electric water heater that makes a big difference in the load pattern;


0.2kW per house is not a huge deal, but it would be a pretty reliable saving, every day, and for Quebec's, 3m houses that is 600MW of load shifting.

Of course, the flatter the load, the more it suits baseload generators like coal, nuke and CCGT. But this is a good thing - CCGT is much more efficient than SCGT. And a flat(er) load curve is better able to integrate wind as you only have one variable to deal with instead of two.

So load shifting, yes absolutely, the "Smart Grid", definitely not. And agreed about all the consultants wasting our money on this stuff.

One of the problems of the computer age is that is is much easier to collect and analyses endless amounts of data, and then create and run endless modelling scenarios, and spend lots of money, without actually achieving any physical improvement. It has become to engineering what finance is to the "real" economy, a huge overhead that often produces little improvement.

Our grandparents built a fine grid without all that complexity - we should be keeping it as robust as possible today.
if that means we pay a little more for electricity to keep things reliable, then fine. I do not want to pay more for an army of consultants and SCADA equipment people to make a killing whole achieving little real improvement.

Unable to pass on increasing coal costs through rate increases, Chinese utilities devise schemes to reduce electricity output:


The government, for its part, has imposed an array of price controls, including on electricity rates, as it struggles to insulate the Chinese public from inflation. Consumer prices are rising 5.3 percent a year according to official figures, and Chinese and Western economists say the true rate may be nearly double that.

But coal prices, which the government deregulated in 2008, are rising even faster in China, which is a net importer of coal despite having its own extensive mining operations.

Huaneng, China’s biggest electric utility, said last month that electricity rates it charges customers should have been 13 percent higher last year to match the increase in coal prices. But regulators held utility rates essentially flat.

Spot coal prices in China have surged an additional 20 percent this year — to a record $125 a metric ton for top grades — partly because of floods in Australia’s and Indonesia’s coal fields and partly because Japan is buying more from the global market to offset its lower nuclear power output.

This account is a very bad portent for the wisdom and effectiveness of storing nuclear waste underground for long time periods...


The more you guard something, the more valuable it will be perceived as being by people who don't know what it is.

Why else would you be guarding it?

Weren't the scavengers able to break in, through 50 meters of reinforced concrete, because they weren't guarding it?

The concrete itself was a (passive) guard. Its existence made what was beyond it desirable.

The Egyptians knew enough to set traps in the pyramids. Unfortunately this appears to be the only effective way to deal with grave robbers at deep nuclear repositories:

Written by Ellen Barry in the New York Times:
About 10 people are known to have died from crawling into a tunnel and breathing contaminated air....

Good to see that with all the talk of cuts and austerity that the Pentagon is getting a 4% budget raise for FY 2012 ($553B base DoD budget)...and an additional $118B to fight our continuing wars...


From the World Bank: MENA: Opportunities To Reshape Economic Playing Field:

Washington, May 24, 2011 – There are historic opportunities for greater openness and citizen participation in economies across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that, if strongly managed over the transitions ahead, could see a significant boost to economic growth and living standards in the medium term.

This is the analysis presented today in the World Bank’s Regional Economic Outlook: MENA Facing Challenges and Opportunities. The report notes that current economic disruption in many MENA countries is translating into lower growth in the short term (now forecast at 3.6 percent for 2011 down from 5 percent) but that opportunities in the medium term offer new hope for an inclusive and sustainable development that has not before been seen in the region.

Economic growth in Egypt, Tunisia, jeez what about Libya? I must've missed something ( or maybe the authors did). The report goes on:

"The rich experience from countries that have undergone political changes suggest that short-term disruptions to economic growth and social tensions are inevitable,” said Shamshad Akhtar, World Bank Vice President for the MENA region. “However, transition offers an opportunity for countries to break with the past and set course in a newer direction. A first order of priority is to offer the right signals to restore public and private investor confidence which, in MENA, calls for ensuring respect and citizen dignity through inclusive social policies, a fundamental change in governance frameworks and swiftly restoring macroeconomic stability."

The Little World Bank That Could: "We think we can, we think we can....

Post-Mubarak Egypt ‘running out of food’

Egypt, struggling to consolidate a revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak in February, faces what could be even worse turmoil because the country is running out of food as well as the money to buy it.

Food prices went up 10.7 percent in April compared to the same month in 2010, government statistics indicate.

At the same time, Egypt’s annual urban inflation rate surged past 12 percent in April, underlining how key factors that triggered the popular uprising that forced Mubarak from office after 30 years remain in play.

I see economic opportunity here... people gotta eat.

A first order of priority is to offer the right signals to restore public and private investor confidence which, in MENA, calls for ensuring respect and citizen dignity...

Oh, yeah. The reason for ensuring respect and dignity for the citizens is to restore investor confidence. Gotta love these guys.

If investors wanted the masses to enjoy respect and dignity, we'd be living by a very different set of rules. What they actually want, of course, is stability.

I've not watched an episode of this show yet, but given the description, how have I missed it, and more so, never seen it mentioned here?


Torchwood begins with a day when nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next, people keep aging, they get hurt and sick, but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight. With all the extra people, resources are finite. It’s said that in four month’s time, the human race will cease to be viable.

It's a spinoff of Dr. Who. (Fans often remember it as the "gay Dr. Who.") As with most SF shows, it deals with a variety of topics. It's not specifically about overpopulation.

It's also not an easy show for Americans to watch. It's airing on BBC and Starz, which aren't widely available in the US.

Yes. Also, that description is of the new season, which isn't airing yet, I don't think. Ask a silly question dot dot dot


1. How will emergency vehicles respond to emergencies? No fossil fuels mean: no way to get to scenes of emergencies.

2. Agriculture: besides the fuel issues involving tractors, agri-chemicals, etc; How will extension agents, portable laboratories, biologists, etc. get to crisis sites (as they randomly pop up)?