Drumbeat: May 25, 2011

Jeff Rubin: Are China's factories running out of power?

Why has Global Sticks, a manufacturer of wooden ice cream sticks, moving from Dalian, China, to Thunder Bay, Ontario?

It’s the kind of low margin manufacturing that is never supposed to come back after it leaves North America for cheaper labour abroad.

But wage costs are no longer everything they were cracked up to be. In today’s world of soaring energy costs, power rationing and export taxes on key commodities such as wood, wage gaps are less important. When the power goes off, it suddenly doesn’t matter if your labor is expensive. Factories don’t run on sweat alone.

Electricity shortage a growing pain for China

Financially crippled coal plants are shutting down their generators, even though the country is facing one of its most severe power shortages ever, which could hamper the 12th Five- Year Plan starting this year.

Oil Trades Near Highest in a Week in New York Before U.S. Inventory Data

Oil traded near its highest in a week in New York, paring earlier losses, as a weakening of the dollar countered signs that gasoline inventories are accumulating in the U.S.

Stockpiles of motor fuel climbed 2.44 million barrels in the week ended May 20, the most since Feb. 4, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday. An Energy Department report today was forecast to show supplies rose 450,000 barrels in a Bloomberg survey. Oil pared some of its loss as the dollar weakened versus the euro, heightening the appeal of using commodities to protect against inflation.

Emerging economies strain tight commodity supplies: Glencore

HONG KONG - Buoyant commodities demand from emerging economies is straining tight supplies and putting more pressure on producers to ramp up output, Glencore's chief executive said.

A sell-off in commodities in the first half of May took some speculative froth out of the market but did not mean weakening fundamentals, chief executive of the world's largest diversified commodities trader Ivan Glasenberg said.

U.S. Suit Sees Manipulation of Oil Trades in 2008

After oil prices surged past $100 a barrel in 2008, suspicions that traders had manipulated the market led to Congressional hearings and regulatory investigations. But they produced no solid cases in the record run-up in gasoline prices.

But on Tuesday, federal commodities regulators filed a civil lawsuit against two obscure traders in Australia and California and three American and international firms.

The suit says that in early 2008 they tried to hoard nearly two-thirds of the available supply of a crucial American market for crude oil, then abruptly dumped it and improperly pocketed $50 million.

Nymex Trader Says Oil Prices Have Gone ‘Just Nuts,’ Blames Goldman: Books

Dan Dicker could be forgiven if he hooted in vindication as crude plunged 15 percent in the first week of May. He concluded long ago that petroleum prices have become “just nuts,” as he says in “Oil’s Endless Bid.”

Oil markets are defying the normal laws of supply and demand, he argues in this timely book, and a large share of the blame belongs to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and other banks. A longtime floor trader, he brings valuable insights to bear on a contentious subject that affects us all.

Saudi looks at restarting its first oilfield

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will study drilling again at its long mothballed, first oilfield, industry sources said on Tuesday.

Dammam, now known as the "Prosperity Well", is where the top crude exporter has made its first discovery in 1938.

Petrobras CEO says needs more rigs

LILLESTROEM, Norway (Reuters) - Brazil's Petrobras must triple the number of deepwater drilling rigs it uses in order to double its oil and gas production by 2020, its top executive said on Wednesday.

The oil and gas fields off the Latin American country are one of the fastest-growing areas for new hydrocarbon exploration and a crucial country to invest in for the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Fareed's Take: Egypt still is not free

President Obama placed the United States squarely behind the democratic wave in the region, though he didn't specifically mention one country - Saudi Arabia - where America's interests and values most obviously clash.

I don't blame him. Street protests in Saudi Arabia might warm our hearts, but they could easily lead to $250-a-barrel oil and a global recession. That's a tough one.

US hits more foreign firms with Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Tuesday hit seven foreign companies, including Venezuela' state-owned oil company and an Israeli shipping firm, with sanctions for doing business with Iran that helps fund its nuclear program. At the same time, the administration imposed separate sanctions on more than 15 people and companies in China, Iran, North Korea, Syria and elsewhere for illicit trading in missile technology and weapons of mass destruction.

US, EU Sanctions Further Blow To Iran's

(RTTNews) - U.S. sanctions on seven companies for supporting Iran's energy sector, and the European Union's restrictive measures on 100 Iranian companies and five persons over concerns about its controversial nuclear program have dealt further blow to a country that is already paying a heavy price for its continued defiance to international calls to halt its clandestine uranium enrichment activities.

EU travel restrictions and assets freeze on designated Iranian entities and members of the Ahmadinejad regime came into force on Tuesday, while the U.S. sanctions followed within hours.

Venezuela fumes at U.S. oil sanctions over Iran

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez reacted with predictable fury at "imperialist" sanctions by Washington over Venezuela's ties with ally Iran -- but does not look ready to jeopardize his huge oil trade with the United States.

Venezuelan officials from Chavez down lined up to condemn the measures against state oil company PDVSA, which were announced by the U.S. government as punishment for two shipments to Iran of an oil blending component worth $50 million.

Blast hits Iran refinery as Ahmadinejad visits

TEHRAN, Iran - An explosion blamed on a gas leak rocked Iran's largest oil refinery shortly before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived at the site for a scheduled visit Tuesday, an Iranian news agency reported.

Iran backs Opec supply support

Iran's Opec governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, acknowledged today that there was a shortage of supply in the global oil market, saying Opec was acting to balance the market and would continue to do so.

"Opec is trying to compensate part of the shortage of supply of crude and create a balance in the market and in the future Opec will continue to do its onerous duty which is to create balance in the market," Khatibi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency, reported Reuters.

UAE gas grid could save oil

An integrated UAE gas grid could help the nation burn less oil for power generation and help gas importers negotiate better deals.

Those could be compelling reasons for the federal Energy Ministry to take up the gas-grid cause, leading what could be the Emirates' next strategic energy project, said Khalid al Awadi, a gas transport expert based in Sharjah.

CIBC starts coverage of utilities and pipeline cost

Bangalore (Reuters) - Higher investments should drive earnings growth at Canadian pipeline companies and utilities, CIBC said and started coverage of five stocks in the sector.

There will be higher investments in pipeline companies on higher unconventional oil and gas production and in power generation companies on renewable energy, analyst Osvaldo Matias wrote in a note dated May 24.

China says no oil pipeline dispute with Russia

(Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that energy cooperation with Russia was proceeding smoothly and the countries had no dispute over the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) crude oil pipeline.

The ministry said in a statement faxed to Reuters that China hoped both countries' companies would be able to resolve the crude oil pricing issues through "friendly consultations".

Ex Ukraine PM charged in Russia gas deal

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainian prosecutors have charged former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with abuse of office for signing a gas import contract with Russia at prices that officials say were too high.

Investigators say the 10-year contract signed in January 2009 was ruinous for the Ukrainian economy and that Tymoshenko did not have Cabinet approval to sign.

Love for shale

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee published its report on shale gas last night, concluding that fears over the safety of shale gas exploration in the UK are largely unfounded.

‘There has been a lot of hot air recently about the dangers of shale gas drilling’ said Committee Chair Tim Yeo.

‘Our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern – that UK water supplies would be put at risk.’

Risk From Spent Nuclear Reactor Fuel Is Greater in U.S. Than in Japan, Study Says

WASHINGTON — The threat of a catastrophic release of radioactive materials from a spent fuel pool at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant is dwarfed by the risk posed by such pools in the United States, which are typically filled with far more radioactive material, according to a study released on Tuesday by a nonprofit institute.

The report, from the Institute for Policy Studies, recommends that the United States transfer most of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel from pools filled with cooling water to dry sealed steel casks to limit the risk of an accident resulting from an earthquake, terrorism or other event.

“The largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain in storage at U.S. reactor sites for the indefinite future,” the report’s author, Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the institute, wrote. “In protecting America from nuclear catastrophe, safely securing the spent fuel by eliminating highly radioactive, crowded pools should be a public safety priority of the highest degree.”

Fukushima Containment Vessels May Be Leaking, Tepco Says

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the containment chambers of damaged reactors at its Fukushima nuclear plant were likely breached, identifying additional source of radiation leaks that may exceed Chernobyl.

Computer simulations of the meltdowns of three reactors in March indicates holes formed in chambers, the company known as Tepco said in a report.

Agency stops giving projections of radioactive substance spread

TOKYO — The Japan Meteorological Agency has stopped giving projections of the spread of radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as the International Atomic Energy Agency is no longer asking for them, JMA officials said Wednesday. The IAEA had requested the projections to gauge the potential impact on other countries of the damage to the nuclear plant from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

IAEA team probing Japan nuclear accident says government giving full cooperation

TOKYO — The head of a United Nations nuclear fact-finding mission says he has no concerns about working with the Japanese government as his team investigates what happened at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

U.K. May Use Green Investment Bank to Fund Expanions of Nuclear Program

Britain may use the Green Investment Bank it plans to open in April 2012 to help fund nuclear power plants as it encourages consumption of more low-carbon fuels.

Judge rules environmental group can pursue lawsuit

MOBILE, Ala. -- A federal judge has ruled that an environmental group can continue to pursue a lawsuit claiming the government violated environmental policies in approving oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The environmental group maintains that leases were approved without any environmental review that considered the impact of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the oil spill.

Are drones also protecting the new oilfields on the Caspian?

During the Soviet period, Kazakhstan was a nuclear laboratory. As the United States did in Nevada, the Soviets carried out nuclear tests in the Kazakh city of Semipalatinsk and the neighboring town of Kurchatov. Over the last two decades, Kazakhstan has renounced its nuclear missiles, and in a celebrated 1994 mission called "Project Sapphire," shipped much of its enriched uranium to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. More recently, the United States has been flying drones over the test sites to surveil against terrorists or smugglers targeting still-remaining stores of plutonium or highly enriched uranium, according to a piece by the New York Times' Ellen Barry.

College major analysis: Engineers get highest salaries

Just one word of advice for the nation's 2011 high school graduates: petroleum.

An analysis of the projected lifetime earnings of 171 college majors provides a clearer picture of what one bachelor's degree means compared to another in the labor market. And the answer can be as much as $3.64 million.

Falling populations and the future of investing

But what if Malthus wasn't wrong, just early? 'Peak oil' - the notion that we're close to pumping as much oil as we'll ever be able to - is an increasingly mainstream argument.

Agricultural yields are falling, and the amount of land available to grow more food is shrinking all the time.

Meanwhile, the UN estimates that there'll be nine billion people on the planet by 2050, and more than 10 billion by 2100. How are we going to feed all those extra mouths? How are we going to fill all those extra cars? Heat and cool all those extra homes?

Pickens points to natural gas

It’s been two months since the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. The nuclear crisis in Japan caused by the damaged reactors since has created doubts on the future of nuclear power. Until the natural disaster occurred, the world seemed on track to see a surge in nuclear reactor projects.

The Blue Revolution Is the Optimal Solution for Japan

During the past two months, I have spent some time in Japan and, no particular surprise, they are in deep trouble regarding energy supply. The great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster set them back to square 1945, and they will need to reinvent the country again. I have a sense they will ultimately recover, but only with the right decisions.

Fukushima was a repeat of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: nuclear devastation symbolic of a nation already in decline. I again visited these two atomic-bombed sites, and found the vitality and metamorphosis remarkable. Can the nation rebound a second time? Clearly, nuclear fission will never again become an option for the country.

Americans say 'no' to electrics despite high gas prices

Nearly six of 10 Americans — 57% — say they won't buy an all-electric car no matter the price of gas, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

That's a stiff headwind just as automakers are developing electrics to help meet tighter federal rules that could require their fleets to average as high as 62 miles per gallon in 2025. And President Obama has set a goal of a million electric vehicles in use in the U.S. by 2015.

Obama administration buying 101 Chevrolet Volts

The Obama administration is buying 116 Chevrolet Volts and other plug-in electric vehicles -- despite their high cost -- and installing charging stations in five cities.

Con Ed Fights Solar Rules in New York That It Profits From in New Jersey

Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED), owner of New York City’s utility, is fighting legislation to boost demand for solar power in the state while profiting from rules that triggered a boom for the technology in New Jersey.

Spanish solar plant built by Masdar is well worth its salt

A Spanish solar plant built by an Abu Dhabi company is set to power homes even during the night.

Masdar, which is owned by Mubadala Development, and a Spanish joint venture partner have completed the final tests on a solar plant in Seville, in southern Spain. Mubadala is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

GE Joins Suzlon, Acciona in Betting on Slow-Wind Turbines to Boost Sales

General Electric Co. (GE), Spain’s Acciona SA (ANA), and India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL) this week began offering new wind turbines that generate power in gentle breezes, allowing them to target regions such as the U.S. Southeast that have been largely overlooked for development.

Contamination: The totalitarian strategy of the GMO crop industry

Certainly, many of us know people who say (wrongly) that nowadays everything causes cancer. This view becomes a justification for making no effort to avoid carcinogens, especially in food. It is a case of learned helplessness that becomes a major public relations weapon for creating and maintaining docile populations. Make people feel powerless. Then, even if they disagree with you, they won't oppose you.

Can We Contemplate Disaster And Still Remain Hopeful?

The predicted apocalypse may have come and gone last weekend without too many signs of rapture, but anyone who is aware of the multiple environmental crises we face most likely can't help themselves but contemplate some pretty dark scenarios for the future of humanity. When I wrote before about the Dark Mountain Project, arguing that disasterbation can turn you blind, Paul Kingsnorth responded suggesting that it was irresponsible to ignore the evidence mounting up around us and to keep peddling "false hope". Lately I've been wondering, is it possible to contemplate disaster and keep a sense of optimism for the future?

Global warming threatens anthrax cattle burial areas in Russian Arctic

Global warming can uncover and expose anthrax cattle burial sites in the Arctic and cause the spread of dangerous infections, Russia's Emergencies Ministry warned on Wednesday.

"Climatic anomaly impacts on permafrost zones, enhances the danger of exposing anthrax cattle burial grounds," a ministry spokesman said.

The Stockholm Memorandum: tipping the scales towards sustainability

The Stockholm Memorandum concludes that the planet has entered a new geological age, the Anthropocene. It recommends a suite of urgent and far-reaching actions for decision makers and societies to become active stewards of the planet for future generations.

The verdict from the trial of humanity, which opened the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium, has been incorporated into the Stockholm Memorandum: Tipping the Scales towards Sustainability. In particular, the jury of Nobel Laureates concluded that humans are now the most significant driver of global change, and that our collective actions could have abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems.

If I may, this snippet:

The Operator Of The World's Largest Oil Tanker Fleet Gives Up On The Global Recovery

Norway's Frontline, which operates the world's largest oil tanker fleet, announced an 81-percent decline in net income for the first quarter compared to last year....

... Returns on very large crude carriers reached $177,036 a day in July 2008, but have fallen to $8,900, according to Businessweek.

Expanded just before demand dropped off. So they are facing an over supply of tankers and lack of demand. Same old song different industry, over capacity. This is not your "typical" economic down turn.

Yes. If net exports continue to decline, this bloodbath will never end. There will be constant mergers and fleet reductions. They will be/are selling these things for scrap metal -- I read an article last month that leads me to believe they already started doing that.

Of course some NEEDED to be scrapped, but were in use during the peak. Not anymore, with less tonnage and less profit the more costly ships will be culled.

I wonder what the order backlog in Korea looks like? Are there enough new, efficient ships out there to meet the needs already, or will there still be fleet inventory rotations even during a down-turn?

Are there any single wall tankers still in service? If so, I hope these are being scrapped.

I remember watching an oil company infomercial as a child in the early 70s describing how double walled tankers were being phased in to make massive spills a thing of the past.

I suppose 40 years is quite fast really.


According to this, 2010 was supposed to be the last year for single wall tankers. It wouldn't surprise me if there are a few still delivering to non-western ports.

"The last company making buggy whips made the best damned buggy whips", from the movie "Other Peoples Money".

Well, at least buggies will be coming back!

Ghung - Amazing price volatility. Think how much cheaper a load of delivered crude would be at those prices and yet we're not seeing an obvious big uptick in consumption. It's almost as if they can't increase their production rate. Heck...what am I thinking. They've said they have lots of excess capacity.

Link up top: Saudi looks at restarting its first oilfield

Saudi Aramco's chief executive Khalid Al Falih has said the Number 7 well there produced 32 million barrels of oil before it was shut...

"The well remains capable of producing even today, and the Dammam Field as a whole still accounts for half-a billion barrels of our proven reserves," Falih said.

Now wait just a cotton picking minute here. Old #7 produced 32 million barrels of oil before it apparently petered out and was shut down. But it still has half a billion barrels left to be produced. And they considered restarting it in 2008 but cancelled those plans because it would have cost too much.

Anyway Saudi has 260 billion barrels of proven reserves, one half billion of that 260 billion is under old #7 and they have decided to go to great expense to get some of that oil out.

Does this story make any sense to anyone?

Ron P.

To quote a TV commercial, "It makes sense if you don't think about it too much."

Aramco cancelled plans in 2008 for restarting production from Dammam because of high costs.

The cost would have been around $1bn, one source estimated then.

At $100 oil they would have to recover 10 million barrels to recover their investment. 10 million barrels just ain't much if there are really 500 million barrels down there.

The way I read this is that they need to produce more oil. They decided that they had left some dredges in the #7 reservoir. In 2008 they decided to drill and pull them out. But it would have cost too much. Now how much can it cost to drill a few shallow wells on dry ground. And #7 is near Dammam, in close so no long pipelines would have been needed. But they pulled back because the return expected did not justify the expense. After all, the oil price did collapse in 2008.

But now with oil over $100 the oil recovered would justify the cost of drilling. They may recover their investment now but with 2008 prices, after the price collapse, there was just no way they could recover enough of the dredges to cover the expense.

Folks, every news article coming from Saudi, like this one, cries out that they are desperately trying to produce a few more barrels. Going back to old #7 for goodness sake, and trying to recover some oil that may have been left behind. Well they have horizontal drilling now that can pull the oil right off the top of the reservoir so I am sure their efforts will pay off. But the fact that that they going after dredges left behind from old #7 really tells us a lot about Aramco's capabilities.

Ron P.

Ron - Goes back perhaps to what PO is all about: rates and not reserves. Prospect A: 1 million bbls of for sure recoverable oil. Prospect B: 300,000 bbls of for sure recoverable oil. Both wells cost the same: $6 million. Which one do I drill? Easy choice: I drill B and toss the brochure for Prospect A in the trash.

And you understand why, don't you? Sorry...forgot mention: Prospect A produces at 30 bopd; Prospect B at 150 bopd. So Prospect a takes over 5 years to pay out...Prospect B less than 1.5 years. I don't drill anything that takes more than 3 years to pay out...insufficient rate of return.

So in the case of the KSA they may actually have the ability to recover as much as they say. But if the pay out on the investment stretches out too many years then it would be a foolish investment of their part. Doesn't matter at all what the URR for the project are. Nor if oil stayed at $100/bbl for the life of the field. A project either produces an acceptable rate of return or it doesn't.

Seriously: when I evaluate the merits of any drilling deal I could care less what the URR might be. It's the risk, cash flow and rate of return, bubba. Always has been and always will be in my world. I don't work for the govt so I can't invest in projects that don't generate a good return. I can get a lot more excited by a well with a 200,000 URR than one with a 1 million bbl URR that I can't get it out the ground fast enough.

Thats a pretty steep discount rate (like around 30%). If risk (of the field prematurely drying up -or whatever) wasn't a factor you should be able to get by with a ten percent or lower discount rate. If I was a financial type, and I had low risk bonds for sale with a ten percent rate of returns, I'd have to hire guards to fight off all the wannabe customers.

But drilling for oil is always risky; that is why Rockman won't drill anything unless it offers a probability of a three-year payback. The short payback period is a way (not elegant, but it works) to limit risk to acceptable levels.

Ph.D.s in finance and economics despise the use of the payback criterion to limit risk because they have fancier methods; the practical man in the oil patch knows what has worked in the past and is not interested in fancy financial models--just the basics, expected cash flow and payback period. One of the risks minimized by the short payback period is the risk of falling oil prices, as we had during the eighties, when everybody in the oil patch was losing money, because they drilled bad prospects when oil prices were very high, and then came up with a lot of dry holes--just as oil prices fell to a very low level. Currently the way to deal with the risk of falling oil prices is to assume a lower price in the future than the current price of oil, to give a margin of safety. But if, say due to a Greater Depression, the price of oil falls to $20 per barrel and stays there for a couple of years there will be a big bunch of oilmen who go out of business.

Well yes. But net present value, with a few probabilities (how much oil is found/price) thrown in for good measure isn't exactly rocket science. I don't think you need a guy with a finance degree, any decent math graduate ought to be able to do it for you. More accurate assesment means you get a better return on investment capital.

Petroleum engineers know all about present value--and as much about probability as the finance and economics professors. What Rockman and others in the oil patch have learned is that the payback criterion works. They are pragmatic about making decisions, and the ones that have stayed in the business all (or almost all) use the payback criterion (among other criteria) for deciding whether or not to drill a prospect. It is a kind of "natural selection" of decision-making rules: Those who don't use the payback criterion are more likely to fail in business than those who do.

I am aware of the theoretical critiques of the payback rule, but out where the producers work these critiques don't mean Jack Sugar. In other words, I think the petroleum engineers have a firmer grasp on rules needed to flourish in the oil patch than do the MBAs in finance. (And I do confess to having an MBA in finance myself.)

A government oil company worth what, a trillion dollars maybe, could be a little less risk averse and more willing to extend payout periods if the internal rate of return is OK. A failure that might cause bankruptcy for Rockman would be just a hiccup for them.

More likely, a government oil company would ignore economics and conduct an exploration program based on completely unrealistic estimates of what oil could be found, and its ability to produce it at any kind of affordable cost. Not that I would mention PEMEX by name or anything. The problem with a government-owned oil company is that any losses it suffers impact the government budget directly and can damage the whole country's credit rating.

Here in Canada the government had an unfortunate experience with its own state oil company, Petro Canada, in which it lost some unknown amount of money - variously estimated at between $8 billion and $16 billion depending on how you count it (it never actually audited the books to find out how much it was exactly.) At the end of it, they sold it back into the private sector for less than they paid to create it in the first place, and now it is owned by the big oil sands company, Suncor, although it still says Petro-Canada on the pumps.

The experience cost the taxpayers a lot of money and put the Canadian government in a negative frame of mind about the whole topic of government-owned companies. It since has put most of the rest of its government-owned companies into the private sector as well. Many of them have been doing much better there - CN Rail leaps to mind as an example.

Don - And to be fair to the rebuttal we keep the goals high because we don't factor in overhead and dry holes into an individual drilling economics as a rule. Project A, if successful, may payout in 2 years. But what about the $30 miilion I spent of 3d seismic this year? And the $5 million on staff/office overhead? And the $4 million dry hole I drilled last month? Or the offshore fed lease I paid $1.2 million for but won't be able to drill for another year or two thanks to BP (real story). Or the well that was grossing $150,000/day I had to shut in two weeks ago because the state ordered all wells in the flood path in S La. to be shut in? BTW: that really happened to one of my wells. A well it took 14 months to complete and get pipeline and facilties set up. The horror...the horror. LOL

At least you are not bored at work.

jw- Even less bored this afternoon. Just found out two hours ago I'll be operating a well with the rig moving in this Monday. Apparently the operator droped out at the last moment and my guys liked the deal. That's the great thing about having an owner with a fat check book and confidence to take our recommendations on the fly. No need for "the committee" to meet in a couple of weeks and talk about it.

Good for you. Myself I was in the woods today. Beatufull late spring weather, I was in my hamock testing a bug net setup for this years hiking season; I have grown tiered of sleeping on the ground. So I was lieing there under my bug net in my hammoc, eating potato chips and identifying some plants with my field literature when my cell phone rings. "What does she want know?" I wonder, thinking about my mom. I take the call and it is a guy from a welding manufacturer. "I am sitting here reading your CV. Can you come over and have a chat with me"? The company makes presurized systems. Nat-gas/amoniac converters, stuff for the gas, off shore and nuclear industrys and so on, worldwide cosutmers. They didn't even had a job ad out, I just send in my papers. If this pans out I may not be unemployed very much longer.

Hammock Camping is the way to go, you might have to get going with it quick!

Good luck with the job!

jedi - Excellent. And ages ago I had one of those surplus "jungle" hammocks. Worked kinda OK but could never get it strung tight enough so my back wasn't a bit sore in the morning. And tomorrow I get to go to Cameron Parish and check out my new location. Glad that front blew thru last night: temps hit 97 here yesterday...and it's not even summer yet.

I just came home from the interview. Man are those guys qualified. Walls at the office full withdiplomas for licences of presurized vessels by the Peoples Republic of China and so on. They pick workers from the absolute top of the shelf. And I don't have so many years work experience after all. Well see how it pans out.

I use a hamock that is "brazilian style" meaning you actually set it up with a generous slack, then you sleep on the diagonal. Once this rain front have passed in the middle of next week I'm gonna test sleep it down by the swamp to see how it works.

But if you want to sleep in a tight hammock it can be aranged. Use an artilery knot on one of the ropes, then go round the tree, through the loop an back again, and secure it with a preusic knot. That way you can tighten it just by pulling the rope.

RE payback period
You will find similar thinking in the real estate business. Realtors want you to think that they will work hard to get the best price for your property with the incentive of a bigger fee for them. It ain't necessarily so. My experience has been that they will go for the fast turnover rather than the high price, every time. This is 'maximizing the cash flow' model.

Folks, every news article coming from Saudi, like this one, cries out that they are desperately trying to produce a few more barrels. Going back to old #7 for goodness sake, and trying to recover some oil that may have been left behind.

I do the same thing every time I change the oil in my car.
I do a 1st drain of an oil container into the engine, then set it on its side.
Once I have put in the correct amount, I circle back to the containers on their side, to get out that last tablespoon or two that was clinging to the container.

Same idea, right? ;)

I guess this could qualify as Saudi Arabia's first "stripper" well, although I'm sure the production rate is higher than American stripper wells.

They're just following the same path that Texas took half a century ago. Once the supergiant oil fields start to run low, you can't just shut in wells because the production is too low to generate excess profits. You need to produce every drop of oil you can, at whatever rate you can get out of the wells.

It's the beginning of an era - or the end of an era, depending on how you look at it.

They can keep this up for at least another century, although by the end of it, KSA will look much like Texas without the grass and cattle. Since it will have far more people than Texas by that time, with far fewer resources, you kind of wonder what they will do for a living.

Of course, as I have occasionally opined, I think that the end of the era was 2005. Following are the BP numbers for Saudi net oil exports and the cumulative shortfall between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 annual rate of 9.1 mbpd and what they actually net exported (mbpd):

2005: 11.1 - 2.0 = 9.1
2006: 10.9 - 2.1 = 8.8 (110 mb cumulative shortfall)
2007: 10.4 - 2.2 = 8.2 (439)
2008: 10.8 - 2.4 = 8.4 (695)
2009: 9.7 - 2.6 = 7.1 (1425)
2010: 10.4 - 2.8 = 7.6* (1973)


What were their net exports 1979-1984?

I don't know. The key point of course about 2005 is that my premise is that Saudi Arabia in 2005 was roughly at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas, the prior swing producer, was at in 1972, when Texas peaked.

You don't know! Data's readily available. Point is that these darn recessions tend to make hash of such simplistic 1:1 comparisons. I know Saudi output dwindled to quite the trickle through the early 80s, so we shouldn't be surprised this time out if they're not spewing forth that gusher of crude we expect.

Pre-recession plateau's still peak oil exhibit A, of course. You know that OPEC volunteered to cut production in 2006, though? Wanted to defend whatever they thought was the price floor de jour. Between that and North Sea + Mexico I still wonder if that plateau wasn't just 2 parts geography and 1 part greed, despite all the Saudi protestations about not wanting to repeat the mistakes of thirty years ago...although what mistake was made, exactly? That the Shah didn't spend his final days cracking more skulls?

You don't know! Data's readily available.

It's also irrelevant. The early Eighties decline in Saudi production and net exports corresponded to falling oil prices, relative to the 1980 price level, until Saudi Arabia increased production in 1986. Saudi Arabia in 1979 would be where Texas was at in 1946, relative to the 1972 Texas peak.

US annual oil prices have exceeded the $57 level that we saw in 2005 for five straight years, with four of the five years showing year over year increases in oil prices. The post-2005 decline in Saudi net oil exports, in response to generally rising oil prices, is in marked contrast to the large increase in Saudi net oil exports that we saw from 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices.

However, the post-2005 Saudi response to rising oil prices is consistent with what we saw in Texas in the Seventies, i.e., declining production in response to rising oil prices, and as previously noted I think that Saudi Arabia in 2005 was at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas peaked in 1972.

In other words, Peaks Happen. Texas C+C production in 1972 (black) lined up with Saudi C+C production in 2005:


KLR the dip in Saudi production after 1980, the year they peaked, was not only caused by the recession. There was the Iran Iraq war. Then there were the so-called Tanker Wars in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

The mistake made 30 years ago was made by Iran and Iraq, not Saudi. It is important to note that the year Saudi Arabia peaked, 1980, the price of oil reached an all time high of over $100 in today's prices. Prices did not collapse until 1986. Historical Crude Oil Prices (Table)

Anyway the EIA only started tracking Saudi Exports in 1986. Below is a graph of Saudi crude oil exports 1986 thru 2009 in thousands of barrels per day.

Saudi Exports

Ron P.

They can keep this up for at least another century,although by the end of it, KSA will look much like Texas without the grass and cattle...

Depending on how climate change plays out, by then a considerable part of West Texas could be without the grass and cattle also.

No, I think Texas will continue to be considerably greener than Saudi Arabia under any circumstances.

Well, that depends on climate change. (BTW, http://climateprogress.org/ is kind of like TOD, except about climate.)

Feel lucky: In the US it is the west that is expected to be hung out for drying. Texas is east of that, right?

Well, it's a big state. there's East Texas and West Texas. East Texas will do okay. West Texas, who knows? I've only jetted in and out, Rockman can probably add more details.

Weather types talk a lot about the dryline, which shifts around but is ususally a few hundred miles east of the mountain front. It is easy to imagine the effects of climate change differing in the west part of the state from the east.

The "consensus" of various models seems to be that the southern portion of the West gets less precipitation, the northern portion of the West gets more precipitation (particularly in the winter), and the middle stays roughly the same. All are effectively drier in the summer due to temperature increases, with the largest increases in the Great Basin.

The West has always had water storage and management problems, they get bigger with the climate changes. If peak oil means that travel and tourism decline, you have to figure that Las Vegas and Phoenix decline as well. Where those people go could have a significant effect on water use.

As you work this through, keep in mind precipitation does not equal infiltration. A warmer world means faster evaporation overall and bigger rains because of the extra water in the air resulting in more large rains, which also means more runoff instead of more infiltration. ironically, more rain and higher humidity do not necessarily mean more water in the ground.

Rain doesn't equal climate, afterall.

Heavy rain == errosion == less water carrying geological structures == bad for agriculture. It is the slight drizzles you want more of.

If you search youtube.com for "pump jack oil" you will find videos many of these units working away - even some rod line units from the 1930's still in use! Can you restart a well pump when it has been idle for a while? What are the rules for when a well has to be plugged permanently?

From www.fossil.energy.gov:

Many of these wells are marginally economic and at risk of being plugged, leaving significant quantities of oil remaining behind. In fact, several thousand stripper wells are plugged each year. Once a well becomes uneconomic and is plugged, any remaining oil (sometimes as much as two-thirds of the original oil) is unlikely to ever be recovered. This is because of the high cost of re-drilling the well or replacement well and installing pumping, storage and transportation facilities. Therefore, keeping stripper wells in production helps maintain a strong domestic energy supply. The Department of Energy Stripper Well Revitalization effort is committed to developing technologies to improve the performance of marginally economic wells through the Stripper Well Consortium.

Is the US concept of stripper wells even applicable to SA with it's history of monster flow wells and huge projects of horizontal drilling and use of advanced EOR techniques such as thermal, chemical, gas, or water injection?

Most people not familiar with oil extraction seem to think that oil is all the same and completely fungible, and all wells are the same, and that you can pump a reservoir dry like a swimming pool. I knew oil exploration, drilling and production was complex, but I never realized how complex it really is until I started hanging out and reading here at TOD a few years ago.


as you quoted: "the Dammam Field as a whole", is not necessarily fully represented by one well, namely old #7.

I'm not a rock man, but aren't these reservoirs irregularly shaped? Cannon Lake, Texas comes to mind. During a long dry spell, the outlying coves are bone dry. Couldn't well #7 be located over a outlying cove of the oil field? It's just a question, I don't pretend to understand the dynamics of the sponge.

It only helps confirms what I have been thinking for some time. Sure, they might make a half a billion barrels from the Dammam Field "as a whole", but it might take another 1000 years. It is called oil floating on water or forced imbibition, and it is an extremely slow recovery process. Since peak oil is all about flow rate, this does not help too much.

I do not know the specifics of the Dammam field, but I have worked a lot of old fields in my career. I am guessing that the field probably produced under some form of pressure depletion and aquifer influx initially. It obviously made a lot of high rate production to start. (32 million barrels from old #7.) Now the field has obviously been greatly depleted. It has probably lost some pressure and much of the rock matrix (pore space) has become filled with water.

The engineering concepts that characterize the process are relative permeability and fractional flow. The rock matrix is initially almost entirely filled with oil. The only movable fluid in the rock in the beginning is oil, and therefore, the relative permeability to oil is 100%. As oil is produced (depleted) from the pore spaces it is replaced with water or gas that came out of solution as the pressure dropped. As the percentage of oil in the rock matrix is reduced the relative permeability to oil is greatly reduced. At some point along the depletion process the main force driving the oil in the reservoir switches from being pressure depletion or water drive, to simple gravity drainage. In a geologic time scale they might just make that half a billion barrels of oil if they can just keep old #7 going.

It's obvious Ron.

The Saudis are using a different definition of "Million" and "Billion" to the rest of us. Of course that definition is a state secret and we'll probably never know.

Ron - it may be easier than you think depending on how the KSA defines "proven reserves". I've have a number of abandoned fields along the Texas coast with over 2 billion bbls of oil left in them. Now if I don't use the caveat that a proven reserve has to be commercially exploitable under current economic conditions than I can say I have 2 billion bbls of "proven" reserves in those fields. But also notice I didn't say 2 billion bbls of RECOVERABLE proven reserves. I can readily prove there are 2 billion bbls of oil left in these fields. My goal now is to do a horizontal pilot project to prove if any of my "proven" reserves are economic to recover. And if I can show the economics work then I have 2 billion bbls of proven reserves...right? Not quite. Maybe only half that number is worth going after so I really have 1 billion bbls of "proven" reserves. But even if my technique is commercial I'm hoping to recover an additional 5% of the residual oil. So my hope is that I may have 50 million bbls of commercially viable and RECOVERABLE proven reserves.

And that, my friend, is how one can turn a possibility of recovering 50 million bbls into "proven" reserves of 2 billion bbl. And remember: I haven't proven yet that I can get the entire 50 million bbls. But maybe you and I disagree with how the KSA defines "proven". I might be wrong but I suspect the KSA doesn't care what you or I think. LOL

Rockman, I think you are making this "proven reserve" thing way too complicated, for Saudi that is. Of course I don't know how they decide on what their proven reserves are, but if it could be proven I would bet big money that I my guess is exactly how they do it. It goes like this:

Aramco's top Saudi officials hold a meeting in Daharan. (Only Saudi Aramco officials are allowed in this meeting.) Then they decide what their "proven reserves" should be. They pick a number that is pretty close to the same number they have been reporting for decades, around 260 billion barrels. Then they run this number by the King, or the Crown Prince. If he agrees then that is the number they announce to the press.

See how simple that is. And you thought it had something to do with how much oil in the ground. No, that is just not how things are done in Saudi Arabia. Silly you ;-)

Ron P.

Ron - Yeah...that's what I said. I've lost more than one contract because I wouldn't "go along" with the wishes of some US manager. While the KSA manager might make up numbers I'm pretty sure at the end of the day the KSA will follow the recommendations of their very well paid Swiss reservoir engineers. As you've heard many times before: pay attention to what they do...not what they say.

As I said in that other post I couldn't care less what anyone says about reserves and decline rates. Not the KSA, the USGS, not any of the "independent" reporting agencies. What I will take as credible is what you and the other smarties on TOD eventually develop.

A scary report in the Telegraph regarding censorship by judges.
Britain has been suffering from a plague of legal clampdowns of reporting with paid for injunctions [as I understand it]. Obviously the problem of overpaid people buying privacy is of little importance to me but check out the quote from someone in charge of the system:

“Instead the Human Rights Act may have to be amended, possibly by limiting the role of the courts to dealing with issues that impact only on public authorities and the State (as the drafters of the Convention envisaged).”


So state censorship is OK??

I don't think British libel injunctions and court decisions are enforceable in the US any more.

US judges have been refusing to enforce British court decisions on constitutional grounds (the First Amendment,) and last year the US Congress passed blocking legislation preventing British court orders from being enforced. In particular, US internet service providers have absolute immunity from British libel law under the legislation.

Obama approves US 'libel tourist' laws

11 August 2010

President Barack Obama has signed into law new legislation protecting US writers from foreign libel judgements.

The Speech Act, recently passed by Congress, makes foreign libel rulings virtually unenforceable in US courts.

The act targets "libel tourists" who launch cases in countries whose legal systems are considered far more claimant-friendly, such as the UK.

In the UK defendants must prove statements are true, whereas in the US claimants have to prove they are false.

This is, of course, just a continuation of that fundamental argument about freedom of speech that started back in 1776.

Well, the British libel system was getting absurd. When Iceland had the financial blowout, one Icelander even went to Britain to sue another Icelander for statements made, in Iceland, in Icelandic..

What the hell do you think the Human rights acts are. They have always been about censorship and control?

“Instead the Human Rights Act may have to be amended, possibly by limiting the role of the courts to dealing with issues that impact only on public authorities and the State (as the drafters of the Convention envisaged).”


So state censorship is OK??

Not sure what you mean by state censorship. The proposed amendment to the Human Rights Act would curtail the reach of the HRA such that only governmental infringements on human rights would be subject to judicial review.

This would make the HRA more like Bills of Rights in other countries, which define the relations between citizen and state, not citizen and citizen, nor corporate entity and citizen. The latter would remained within the purview of other legislation dealing for example with labor relations, discrimination in hiring, etc.

Americans say 'no' to electrics despite high gas prices, up top.

This poll is so fallacious, I can not let it pass without comment.

Taken by itself, it would appear to be bad news for electric cars.
However, the only one available at the moment in the Nissan Leaf. Dealers can not keep them in stock because they sell so fast.


Why the discrepancy? The poll is of all Americans, most of whom are not in the car market to begin with. A mere 13 million out of over 300 million actually buy a new car in a given year. They are the people that should be polled.

And most Americans have never seen, let alone driven or had any experience with electric cars. I certainly have not. So how can they have any sensible opinion about them?

If the poll had asked about diesel cars, no doubt the numbers would show an even higher rejection rate even in the face of high gas prices. The same is likely true for natural gas powered cars which for all practical purposes don't even exist.

The Gallop Poll on electric cars lacks a reference point of alternative fueled cars for comparison. And it includes people who are not in the market for any car and those who only buy used cars. There are no used electric cars available.

The poll is false on so many levels that it is hard to condemn it in strong enough terms. It is meaningless and total nonsense.

That the USA TODAY/Gallop Poll would publish it is a discredit to the organization.

The question may be about demand for cars altogether!

Note this article from Australia:


Peak cars: Is our addiction ending?

* Published 6:50 AM, 20 May 2011

Sophie Vorrath

In the 1980's it was dubbed "automobile dependency" – a term coined by Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy to describe the largely Western phenomenon of building cities around cars and thus cultivating a kind of addiction to them. But according to a new paper by Professors Newman and Kenworthy – part of the team at WA's Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute – the West's car addiction could be meeting its demise; a relatively recent and unexpected phenomenon the professors are dubbing "peak car use."

"It's a bit like peak oil," Professor Newman told Robyn Williams on ABC Radio's The Science Show recently. "We are not noticing the big impacts yet but we have gone over the top. And that peak in car use per capita began in 2004 across the world. ...And US cities are now showing absolute declines in many cases, but the per capita peak happened in 2004 in Australian cities as well." In Sydney, Newman says, car use has not increased for five years.

As Lester Brown pointed out Japan has already reduced its car fleet by
3/8ths as it has built out its high speed and urban rail system.
No doubt Japan's current quandary will force more cars off the road.

Yet policy makers at all levels and even many alleged Environmentalists,
assume that BAU will continue and hence we should add more highway lanes,
interchanges, and provide $7500 private subsidy primarily to those rich
enough to afford electric cars instead of getting our public transit going.
We should be investing in electric vehicles for the last mile shuttles to
public transit, for Zip car usage, for delivery trucks.

There could also be a role for very light small golf cart electric vehicles
already in use in Celebration, Florida outside Disney World, and River Ranch,
Lafayette, Louisiana.

But electric cars at the existing size are not going to be really sustainable. They just take too much energy to move 1-2 tons for 1 person.

It is also not a given that people cannot live without autos even in the USA.
They already do so in New York City, Jersey City, New Jersey with its frequent light rail service and other places with frequent enough transit
and convenient access to groceries and daily shopping.
Even back in the 1980's visiting my brother in Spain it was not necessary to
drive to the store for groceries. The Apartments/Condos on the outskirts of
Madrid had a local butcher, green grocer, etc within easy walking distance.
Instead of driving to a shopping mall and buying bags and bags of groceries
for the week, people walked with a small cart for fresh groceries daily.

So 43% of Americans WOULD buy an ALL ELECTRIC car. That's actually pretty impressive for a new(ish) technology. I wonder how many more would buy the hybrids?

And this is before the infrastructure, fast charging and other details are implemented and seen to work.

The paper's angle is IMHO merely to court controversy after all the gushing praise we've seen for them. If the poll had been 49% to 51%, the story would have been the same.

And how many years before enough electric cars have been built to supply this demand. The glass is half empty, but a half full glass in the desert is a big deal.

Oh thats easy... not in our lifetimes.

x - perhaps meaningless but for different reasons then you offer. Depends how the "what if" is described. Probably the vast number of folks couldn't buy an e-car today even if they wanted to. I can't for two good reasons: I have no place to recharge my car at work. My commute is too long to do a r/t on one charge. Second, I have to take long road trips on a regular basis. Again, an e-car wouldn't work. Another deal killer is price perhaps. Did they ask folks if they would buy a e-car if it costs $35,000? I would never buy one at that price. I buy cheap cars and consider them disposable items. Usually run 150,000+ miles on them. Last car I bought was a very nice Kia Sorrento for $17,000. probbaly the nicest car I ever bought. Get's 23 mpg and there are tens of thousands of places for me to re-fuel today. Why would I spend twice as much for a car that wouldn't suit my needs even half the time?

So it's very logical for me to say I wouldn't buy an e-car given such assumptions. How many millions of other folks come closer to fitting my profile than a typical e-car buyer? And if I lived in town and only occasionally drove a few miles to the grocery or doctor's office I still wouldn't spend $37,000 for an e-car. I would buy a tiny Kia for $9,000 that gets 34 mpg. And when I needed to take a rare long road trip I would rent a big hulkin sedan/SUV since the money wouldn't matter since it wouldn't happen very often. Bottom line: depending on how you set the assumptions up it might be very logical for the majority of Americans to not buy an e-car. Heck - do your own poll on TOD. We have a lot of smart folks who are very tuned in to the energy situation. But don't ask them if they would ever buy an e-car...ask them if they own one now. Doesn't really matter what reasons they give for not owning an e-car today. The simple fact is they don't. And if the majority of TODsters don't own an e-car why would we expect the great unwashed masses to be out buying them?

Per some of the points you make Rockman, I wonder how many people will buy E cars that just sit in a garage somewhere purely for status reasons. "Oh yes, I have an electric car now - it's great!"

"So why did you drive your Hummer to this party then?"

"Well, I don't drive it all the time."

"Do you ever drive it?"

"Oh sure."

"Like when for example."

"Like the other day, I drove it down to the local store for something I forgot at the big grocery store."

"But that's only 3 blocks away."

"Well, they don't go forever you know. You have to make sure you can get home."

I doubt it will be many.

There are always status-hogs, (like more than a few with Hummers, I'd say) but they are the squeaky wheels that draw hypotheticals like yours.

Those who I know with EV's got them to Drive them.

The point is that we are in the very early phase for e-cars. If one percent of car buyers seriously wanted them, the industry wouldn't be able to expand fast enough to meet demand for several years. So the product introduction can be quite successful, even if only a currently tiny fraction of the population wants one.

In 2006 (going back far enough to get pre-recession sales levels) US drivers bought less than 8 million new cars. One percent would be 80,000 units.

Nissan is tooling up to build 500,000 Leaf EVs next year, GM is going for either 60,000 or 120,000 Volts (differing reports), and Ford is setting up an assembly line for the Focus EV so one would expect them to produce significant numbers.

Given that many other manufacturers already have their first EVs about ready for market I would guess that it would take little time to change 10% or more output to electric.

My take is that the car makers gearing up for volume production of electrics actually believe in Peak Oil.

I don't think the car makers would be able to sell the volume of cars that they are talking about with $4 or $6 or even $8 gas readily available. But if this decade brings nasty oil supply problems, complete with shortages, lines and possibly official government rationing, the ev market will explode. Nissan and Ford are positioning themselves for it.

God only knows how long we will stay on the current oil production plateau, but it's almost certain that we will slide off well within the life expectancy of the electric cars being produced today.

It seems to be well recognized in the car business that the days of cheap oil are over.

Elsewhere in this discussion I presented some numbers I cranked which shows that it would be cheaper to buy and own a $30k Ford Focus EV than a $20k Ford Focus ICE over the expected 12 year lifetime of the vehicle.

That's based on $4/gallon gas and $0.1275/kWh electricity. (Most charging would be done at off-peak times at cheaper prices.)

One could pay 50% more for the EV version and spend $6,500 less over the years with $4 gas rising only 4% per year. It doesn't take $6 or $8 gas to make EVs better value purchases. In fact if one could charge for eight cents per kWh the total cost of a $30k EV would be about the same as a $20k ICEV burning $2.50/gallon gas.

Remember, the Nissan Leaf is priced only a bit more than $30k and the Focus will benefit from economy of scale manufacturing as it will share non-engine/motor parts with high manufacturing volume gas and diesel versions.

Bob - A valid analysis. But here's the eternal rub: if a large portion of auto transport goes e-car than there is less demand for gasoline and thus (perhaps) cheaper prices. And a surge in e-demand? Typically means higher e-costs. But that wouldn't neccessarially be a bad thing nor a reason to not push for more e-cars. If at the end of the day it costs the same to run an e-car as an ICE we would at least get some of the oil import monkey off our backs.


what is a valid analysis for an E-car? What criteria do you use? Do you analysis it from the individuals point of view cost/mile, or do you make a cost analysis for society as a whole. Now I experienced the 70s oil shock in Denmark, | was studying at Roskilde University at the time. Denmark was nearly 100% dependent on oil it almost bankrupted them as the Napoleonic wars bankrupted them in 1813, Perhaps that is why they look at the political and economic consequences of using oil for transport. Now let us assume that I am a Danish politician with a sense and understanding of history, I look back at the 70s and ask myself how we would have reacted if my predecessors had not made the decision to subsidise renewables and get us off oil. What would have happened in the Mohamed cartoon crisis of 2005 would we have had the testicular fortitude to basically tell them too bugger off. I very well expect that he would have come too the conclusion that I do now that they would have collectively dropped there pants and handed the Arabs the Vaseline. The Danes during the 70s realised that there country consisted of no more that the rather infertile tops of Norwegian mountains brought down during the last ice age and a fairly stiff breeze. the race to exploit the wind has of cause had untended consequences the Danish consumer has had a much higher electricity bill, collectively somewhere in the region of 60 kroners a month over the period since the 70s, the plus side has been that they have the have Vestas still the largest producer of wind turbines in the world employing 30,000 people and 10% of Danish exports are in the renewable sector that is still expanding.the problem of cause is how do we deal with the intermitency of wind. Here E-cars can play a role DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas) energy a utility has the highest exposure to wind in Denmark and have on occasions had to sell there wind energy at a discount too
Germany on many occasions.Better place seems to have come up with the perfect solution both for DONG and the Danish Government. The Battery swap system and home charging seems to fit the bill perfectly and the infrastructure costs seem to be reasonable.DONG estimates that a 2 megawatt wind turbine will be able to supple all the electricity for 3,000 cars, 2 megawatts by the way is the average size wind turbine that is installed now. I don;t know what they cost but let us put a conservative figure of $1,000 dollars/ car investment for supplying that car with electricity for the next 20 years. Now let us say for example that a car drives 10,000 miles a year and has an efficiency of 25 miles / gallon then it is going to use somewhere in the region of 200 barrels of oil at let us say $100 dollars a barrel for easy reckoning. Then that car is going to cost $20,000 dollars for imported oil over its lifetime most of which ends up in the coffers of the sheet people who want to kill you. Now if DONG is right and 2 mega watts wind turbines can supple the energy needs for 3,000 cars then that is an investment of approximately $3,500,000. Now the wife and I have just finished paying off our mortgage which after 20 odd years which worked out at about four times the the original amount, on $3,500,000 dollar is the equivalent of $14,000,000 for such a wind turbine instead of $60,000,000 just for the oil that it replaces and that is without inflation. These are just back of the envelope calculations and most likely have little to do with reality, but it seems to me that however you work it out the quicker we change over too E-cars even if they don't give the performance of ICE cars or cost more in the beginning the long term costs are going too be much cheaper both for us and our Grandchildren. That is apart from the fact that changing over will generate work income and wealth at the same time in developed countries which will stay there instead of being exported too the middle east.

Deep Regards

from a Tunnel rat too a rock hound.

yorkie - I may not be the best person to model. To me cars are expendable items: I buy cheap and drive till they're worth next to nothing. My latest is an '08 Kia Sorrento that gets 23 mpg that I paid $17,000 for. And it's one of the nicest cars I've every owned (Kia really is a quality product IMHO) And in 4 more year it will be my daughter's on her 16th birthday. I drive around 25,000 miles per year much of it long distance (200 - 400 miles one way)...well site work where an e-car just wouldn't have the range. But if I were to retire in the city and not drive much I might buy a $9,000 Kia that gets 32 mpg at a time when I might not drive 5,000/year.

Thus I don't know if I would ever be the target market for the e-cars.

Rockman, just pull a little trailer with a diesel to electric generator and your e-car will make it ;-) You never know though. One day even the Rockman will worship solar and wind-born electrons.

Oct - I've worshiped alts for over 40 years ever since I picked up my first copy of Mother Earth News. Remember: I didn't go to college and get a BS degree in Earth Science to become a petroleum geologist...just got lucky it worked out that way. If I retire soon enough and have the energy I might even fulfill a long standing day dream: build (actually have built) a super insulated monolithic concrete home. Years ago I was on an offshore platform with a drilling consultant who built one out side of San Antonio, Texas. About 4,000 sq ft if I recall correct. The guy was super anal: had seperate meters on everything so he knew exactly what his power consumption was. Even though he had zero alts his air conditioning bill, in this very hot area of S Texas, for the year was what most spent for a month. And no need for homeowners insurance: fire and even hurricane proof. And after 100 years the concrete would be even stronger that when he first built. He even built dozen small teepee shaped apartments (about 400 sg ft) on his property and had them rented out continuously.

Think how well alts would work with such a low energy demand home.

Rock - you'll lose your "Texas oilman" card for saying things like that!

Paul - Folks need to think about our attitudes in the oil patch. We know what it takes to get it out the ground: the money, the long hours, the occasional finger or life. Who would be more upset than us with the way the country waste our resources? And being a rather conservative lot that loves our military imagine how we feel about swapping blood for oil.

I don't make a point of laying out there to often but virtually everyone in the oil patch has an absolute disdain for the American publc and zero sympathy for them when energy prices soar. The oil patch is all for enegy coservation. We don't need folks to waste our resources for us to make a good living. It's those volatile price swings that tear us up. A nice low but steady increase in energy prices over the last 40 years would have served us and the public much better IMHO.

Yeah, just yanking your chain there.

It must be a bit frustrating when all you oil guys get tarred with the same brush as Big Oil, and KSA etc
Having been a product supplier myself (water and electricity) I agree that there is nothing worse than watching someone wantonly waste what you have worked so hard, and often risked so much, to provide.

I did have one advantage, in that the rates for water and elec are regulated, and you are allowed (and required!) to make a 10-12% margin, so the revenue side is fairly predictable. Actually, the supply side is a bit more predictable than oil drilling too, though you don't have to worry about health risks from E coli in the oil.

Given that a steady price would be that much better, why has the oil industry never advocated for that? (or do I just not know about it?) It works for the elec and water industries. In reality though, the country is not dependent on imports for water and elec, so their is no outside influence, unlike oil.

If the US could get the oil consumption down to the level of domestic production, in theory it could decouple from the world markets and have a regulated price - but imagine the process of trying to agree on what that price is!


I believe you personally....but why have we not heard such talk from any Texas/LA politicians, or why have such people not formed political/public advocacy groups (Oil Hands for Reduced Oil Use), or seen demonstration on the streets in Tx or on the Washington Mall to demand energy use reduction/efficiency/conservation? Where are the public interest group commercials from oil industry workers advocating reduced oil usage?

You previously stated that many if not most rig hands/roughnecks do not grok the 'reserve replacement problem'.

Apparently the management/corporate suits don't get it or don't want the public to know it and conserve either.

What about the folks at Halliburton and Schlumberger et al? Do they 'get' Peak Oil and sincerely want the public to greatly cut its demand for oil?

Where are the cheap (virtually free) YouTube video campaigns from oil patch workers advocating for greatly reduced oil use? Where are the comments to the newspapers and comments to blogs and stories on Internet news sites (yourself excepted)?

Where is the beef?

Edit: IIRC, you advocated that if the USG set a floor price on oil, then companies would be able to maximize their exploration and recovery operations to match the guaranteed price for the product. Consumers would also have a much better insight on fuel prices going forward and would thus be able to make the most rationale transportation decisions from their perspective.

I think you mentioned $70/bbl...how about $100/bbl as a floor?

Of course, the sheeple and their various talking heads (left/right/other) would scream about 'big oil' and 'socialism', and be too ignorant to realize that such a policy would be in their best long-term interest.

How about this: Set a floor payment price of $80/bbl for the producers and the government takes another $20/bbl in taxes to, in concert with both entitlement and Military/Spy/'Homeland Security'/Industrial Complex cuts, help balance the budget?

H - Sorry for the delay...been stuck on a rig with bad Internet. I think you already know the answers to many of your questions. I've worked for many public companies and you can imagine how very unlikely those PR folks would give me the mike. I've gotten into some rather nasty internal battles over such opinions. They don't tolerate the truth very well even internally. I've mentioned before losing more than one contract by not signing off of some obviously bogus reserve report.

To repond to Paul's point about how the oil patch would respond to having a regulated fixed return there are hundreds of companies that would have signed on in a heart beat: the ones that went belly up. That's the problem with such a plan. Bad enough when a public utility commission makes bad choices and the rate payers have to cover those costs. Imagine if some manufacturer, like GM, had the govt there to bail them out if they went bankrupt. The public wouldn't stand for it. Well...at least if it were ExxonMobil getting that $XX billon loan from the feds. LOL

Think how well alts would work with such a low energy demand home.

Yes. This is the essence of whole systems, sustainable design. It does not help to build a house that is very efficient if you are still efficiently using the amount of energy for one house that two or three typical homes would use, e.g. But your friend's home also is not enough if it is not designed to use alt energy, can't deliver a reliable supply of food, and so much more.

In this particular case, imagine 100,000,000 of these homes being built and the CO2 impact, particularly if even the little energy still used is FF? Still, there are many solutions, not just one, and these types of homes have a place given a full system design and if well-integrated into the wider community-environment to establish closed energy loops.

Rockman - a valid question, but I suspect EVs won't come to roads fast enough to offset the rising price of oil but, at most, slow it.

From reading what you folks in the oil business post on this site I'm left with the opinion that it is improbable that we will find any significant amounts of cheap oil, that what oil we extract will be harder to extract than the oil we've used up.

And from the other end of the supply/demand equation we've got rapidly rising lifestyles in parts of the world where cars were owned by only a few. It's not just China. Go to other parts of Asia and you'll see that people who used to be limited to bikes now have motorcycles and cars. And where they had only motorbikes a few years ago, cars dominate.

I don't see supply exceeding demand enough to drive down prices. I'm doubtful that supply can keep up with demand at current fuel prices. The difference might be that bringing a lot of EVs to the road might mean $5.50/gallon gas rather than $6/gallon gas later on for those still burning fuel.

People should be praying that the Chinese government can steer an adequate number of their near future car buyers to EVs or we're going to see even faster rising prices at the pump in the next few years.

Twenty, twenty-five years from now, when we've turned over the US fleet a couple of times all bets are off. I'm thinking that once we have affordable EVs which can drive 200 miles per charge and adequate rapid charge stations along our roads then ICEVs will rapidly drop out of use for most people.

Certainly affordable 300 mile range EVs will do the job. We've now got 15 minute recharging with 10 minute possible.

Three hundred mile range and ten minute recharges would make EVs as fully functional as fuel vehicles. With the possible exception of excursions for which one straps a dozen Jerry cans to the top of their Land Rover....

On the other side of the equation we've got rapidly dropping renewable electricity prices. PV solar cells have dropped 21% this year and the decrease is expected to continue. Wind turbine prices are dropping. The price of filling up with e-power is likely to tilt the scale even more toward EVs.

Right now, if you look at the lifetime cost of running an EV/ICEV the EV is as cheap or cheaper. Without federal/state subsidies. A full price Nissan Leaf EV driven 12,000 miles per year is cheaper than a $20k Ford Focus ICE fueled with $4/gallon gas.

It's a matter of a bit more range and an adequate number of places to 'top up'. IMHO.

I remember the issues Toyota had scaling up Prius production, Nickle metal hydrid battery production was limited. I really think any significant scaleup is going to be slow in coming. In any case having circa 60% of the market not interested is not a problem at this point in time.

We've got a number of new battery factories coming on line in the next few months.

Apparently a battery plant can be built and put in operation in short time.

This is from today's news...

A123 Systems, an electric car battery supplier to Fisker Automotive and BMW, among other companies, opened its new 291,000-square-foot lithium-ion battery plant in Livonia, Mich., on Monday, financed in part by a $249 million federal stimulus grant from the Energy Department.

A123’s federal grant last year was complemented by $125 million in state incentives. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has focused Michigan resources on ensuring that her state will be what she calls “the advanced battery capital of the world.” In an interview last week, she identified 16 such battery companies in the state (13 of which received federal financing), and predicted that they would create 62,000 jobs over the next decade.


I believe this is one of the battery plants partially funded by the 2009 economic recovery program. If so, about two years from start to production.

Here's news of another one...

When completed, the Midland Battery Park will have the capacity to produce enough batteries to power some 60,000 electric vehicles per year. Dow Kokam's 800,000 square-foot facility will produce large-format batteries targeted at "high-performance, high-end" electric vehicles.

For Michigan, more new jobs can't come soon enough. The Midland Battery Park will eventually employ 800 workers at an average weekly wage of $730, and an additional 1,000 workers will be needed to construct the facility. As Vice President Biden said, "This is a gigantic start." The first phase of construction, supported by a $161 million Department of Energy Recovery Act grant, kicks off immediately.

And here's something from last summer...

The White House announced Friday that the president will deliver remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Compact Power battery plant in Holland, Michigan. Compact Power is a Michigan-based subsidiary of the South Korean firm LG Chem, which received $151 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Energy to build the plant.

Compact is building the $300 million, 650,000 square-foot factory to manufacture battery systems for the Chevrolet Volt. The plant is scheduled to open in two years.

Sixteen battery plants in Michigan. Many more around the world.


Ford is introducing their Focus EV in the near future. It should be essentially the same car as their regular Focus except for all that gas bangy-bangy stuff.

It's going to be interesting to see how much they need to sell the car for in order to make a few bucks. I set up a spreadsheet to see how it might work out.

The median price for a gas Focus is $20,000. Let's suppose that one might be able to get a Focus EV for a 50% premium, for $30,000. (I'm assuming that recent decreases in battery costs will be reflected in the sticker price. And I left subsidies out of the equation.)

I used five year financing at 4% (more than my credit union is currently charging).

I used $4/gallon gas and $0.1275/kWh electricity (probably higher than people will pay with off-peak charging). I tried to put my thumb on the scale in a manner that would favor the fuel engine car, just to be safe.

I used the US average of 12,000 miles per year, $100 per year for oil/filter costs, and extrapolated insurance costs based on purchase price (50% higher for the EV) and cranked costs up at a 4% rate of inflation over the years.

The bottom line? The EV would cost one an extra $110 per month the first year dropping by about $10 per month hitting $70 per month in the year in which the loan payoff was reached.

Starting at year six the EV would cost $120 less per month, increasing about $10 per year, reaching $160 less per month after six more years.

Over 12 years (roughly the average lifespan of a US car) the EV would have been a bit more than $6,500 less expensive to drive.

Ford might be able to hit the $30k price point right out of the starting gate. By running parallel assembly lines for their EV, hybrid and ICE versions of the Focus they will enjoy significant cost savings for all the non-running gear parts. They won't be make a few tens of thousands EV seats or windshields, they'll be making hundreds of thousands of Focus seats and windshields.

Next few years are going to be interesting. Especially if gas goes up in price faster than 4%.

(edit: not Focus hybrid, but Focus diesel, should read "for their EV, diesel, and gas versions of the Focus". Sorry.)

Last car I bought was a very nice Kia Sorrento for $17,000. probbaly the nicest car I ever bought.

Rock, you're messing with my image of the southwest. Are you sure you live in Texas? I thought there might be something with four-wheel drive and a gun rack in your driveway. Perhaps there's a company truck when in the field?

But on to more substantive issues than whether you fit the stereotype (or even pretend to fit the stereotype.) I own a Yaris, and am unlikely to purchase an electric car. The reasons are the same ones you give above- no, not in this response, the one about payout times on oilwells up above.

A car is at heart an investment- a short term one. The payout is in how much economic benefit it delivers, in access to cheaper accomodation, more employment options, shorter transit times, or more attractive mates. The electric car doesn't, at this point in time, deliver economic benefits in any area over a conventional car. I believe it will, at some point, be more economic than a gas car. When? I dunno.

95% of my driving needs could be met by an electric car. At some point (assuming the continuation of industrial civilization) there may come a point where it costs less to own a big battery, with it's associated interest costs, than to pay the penanlty of high gas prices. (As I believe you have pointed out on more than one occassion, it's usually the capex that's the limitation.) The lifecycle of an electric car is also different than an ICE vehicle; we just can't be sure exactly how they will be different yet. If I was sure, say, that an electric would last 20 years in Ontario winters, it might have an effect on my buying decision.

More likely, that capex may cause other options to be more economical. I noticed the caretaker at the chruch across the street- a hotrodder/steamengine freak in his early 60's- driving to work on an electric scooter instead of his usual van. I don't think his motivation is environmental; I think it was cheap and practical. These are two things electric cars are not, and might never be.


Just track the hybrid (and now EVs too) dashboard at Hybrid Cars.

Here is the most recent one I am aware of:

April 2011 Plug-in Electric Car Sales Numbers

Plug-in cars sold in the US (April 2011): 1,066
Plug-in Take-Rate: 0.09%
US plug-in electric sales for April 2011
Model Units vs. last month vs. April 2010 CYTD vs. CYTD 2010
Nissan LEAF 573 92.3% n/a 1,025 n/a
Chevrolet Volt 493 -18.9% n/a 1,703 n/a
Smart ED 0 100.0% n/a 32 n/a
All plug-in cars 1,066 190.5% n/a 2,760 n/a
All vehicles 1,154,292 -7.1% 17.7% 4,203,249 19.4%


For myself last year I replaced an old gas 1998 Toyota Camry with a 2006 Prius.
I think it was a wise decision as I see no point in investing a huge amount for
cars which are not going to be sustainable anyway. The electric was way too expensive as was a brand-new Prius.
If New Jersey, more densely populated than China, which already runs a rail network
within a few miles (folding bike distance!) of over 50% of our population cannot
get out of auto addiction then we are all doomed anyway.
Actually I rode my folding bike yesterday 3 1/2 miles from my office to the train
station to return home yesterday.

Why do people keep pushing personal cars as any sort of either personal or societal
solution to this problem?
Far better to run the transit we have and as Jim Kunstler has said for years restore Rail for not just commuting to urban cores but local day to day transit.
Here was another interesting data point from the hybridcars link:

the overall auto market fell by 7.1 percent compared to March

While I was visiting Louisiana last month I noticed a large number of brand new
4x4 pickup trucks by wanna-be "cowboys" down there - driving on I-10 and Baton Rouge
within a few yards of working rail tracks with infrequent freight.
How many of those were 0% no money down auto loans - the baby successor to the
sub-prime loan fiasco?

Wanna get electric vehicles going?
Run fleets of them for shuttles to Rail-based transit!
The US Federal government would be far wiser to subsidize that than $7500 tax
giveaway to affluent electric car buyers...
If an EV shuttle went the 9 miles from the Gladstone Rail Line to the Raritan Valley
Rail line it could recharge at terminal points. All it needs is to get 9 miles...

Above: Risk From Spent Nuclear Reactor Fuel Is Greater in U.S. Than in Japan, Study Says

The Alvarez report can be read/downloaded here.

Over the past 30 years, there have been at least 66 incidents at U.S. reactors in which there was a significant loss of spent fuel water. Ten have occurred since the September 11 terrorist attacks, after which the government pledged that it would reinforce nuclear safety measures. Over several decades, significant corrosion has occurred of the barriers that prevent a nuclear chain reaction in a spent fuel pool — some to the point where they can no longer be credited with preventing a nuclear chain reaction. For example, in June 2010, the NRC fined Florida Power and Light $70,000 for failing to report that it had been exceeding its spent fuel pool criticality safety margin for five years at the Turkey Point reactor near Miami. Because of NRC’s dependency on the industry self-reporting problems, it failed to find out that there was extensive deterioration of neutron absorbers in the Turkey Point pools and lengthy delays in having them replaced.

There are other strains being placed on crowded spent fuel pools. Systems required to keep pools cool and clean are being overtaxed, as reactor operators generate hotter, more radioactive, and more reactive spent rods. Reactor operators have increased the level of uranium-235, a key fissionable material in nuclear fuel to allow for longer operating periods. This, in turn, can cause the cladding, the protective envelope around a spent fuel rod, to thin and become brittle. It also builds higher pressure from hydrogen and other radioactive gases within the cladding, all of which adds to the risk of failure. The cladding is less than one millimeter thick (thinner than a credit card) and is one of the most important barriers preventing the escape of radioactive materials.

I co-authored a report in 2003 that explained how a spent fuel pool fire in the United States could render an area uninhabitable that would be as much as 60 times larger than that created by the Chernobyl accident. ...

Methinks it's time for a full TOD post on this issue.

This is an issue that weighs heavily on my mind. All of us and the things we know, and the things we've done are temporary. We face resource depletion, the climate is changing, the biosphere is changing, there are invasive species of plants and animals all around and many that are missing. The oceans are full of plastic and being emptied of life. But in spite of all of that, the likelihood that the land around us may become poisoned with radioactive waste is still more depressing.

What weighs on my mind recently is similar.
I've been thinking that perhaps we are a paradox of a species; that our so-called intelligence to create technologies/civilizations to help us initially survive or be "comfortable" may ultimately do us in, or prove to provide far more discomfort.

Reading your post, the metaphoric thought occurred of being trapped, without a means of escape, on a slowly melting ice-floe. The ice floe is the pristine earth; the frigid water is the growing mess "we"'re making.

I put 'we' in quotes because I suspect that a very limited and flawed set of people are making decisions for the rest, aided by the illusions of representation.

Perhaps it was less about the proverbial last tree being cut on Easter Island, so much as the first tree that was prevented by 'authorities' from being planted.
And I think this is key: "Sociopolitical systemic emprisonment" for lack of a better term. And the key is to transcend it, not, for example, to protest against it in full view of its snipers and militaries, like mechanical ducks at a fair's shooting gallery. You don't look to a glorified prison system to set you free.

Gustav Landauer (1870-1919): 'The state is a condition, a certain relationship between beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.'

All of us and the things we know, and the things we've done are temporary

"[interview with] Bill Mollison: The first time I saw a review of one of my permaculture books was three years after I first started writing on it. The review started with, 'Permaculture Two is a seditious book.' And I said, 'At last someone understands what permaculture’s about.' We have to rethink how we’re going to live on this earth — stop talking about the fact that we’ve got to have agriculture, we’ve got to have exports, because all that is the death of us. Permaculture challenges what we’re doing and thinking — and to that extent it’s sedition.

People question me coming through the American frontier these days. They ask, 'What’s your occupation?' I say, 'I’m just a simple gardener.' And that is deeply seditious. If you’re a simple person today, and want to live simply, that is awfully seditious. And to advise people to live simply is more seditious still.

You see, the worst thing about permaculture is that it’s extremely successful, but it has no center, and no hierarchy.

Alan: So that’s worst from whose perspective?

Bill: Anybody that wants to extinguish it. It’s something with a million heads. It’s a way of thinking which is already loose, and you can’t put a way of thinking back in the box.

Alan: Is it an anarchist movement?

Bill: ...You won’t get cooperation out of a hierarchical system. You get enforced directions from the top, and nothing I know of can run like that. I think the world would function extremely well with millions of little cooperative groups, all in relation to each other."

"Perhaps it was less about the proverbial last tree being cut on Easter Island, so much as the first tree that was prevented by 'authorities' from being planted."

If so, you can bet that it was at the behest of the lobbyists of the timberland owning industry. Who probably simultaneously vowed that they were the best caretakers of the trees, and that individuals would just waste good land with their feeble tree-growing efforts, and should be forbidden to grow trees. Along with a hefty "campaign" contribution.

Which isn't to say we don't suffer from "Sociopolitical systemic emprisonment".

Well here in Vermont we have a so-called "net metering" law that says you (a small-time householder) can generate all the electricity you want as long as you consume it all yourself - if not at the time, then within the rest of the year. Any excess is then confiscated. The utility never pays cash. Seems to me along the same lines as prohobiting tree-planting.

I wouldn't put it past something like that. Well, somethings' going to get us human critters, because we're out of control, reproducing and running rampant like "vermin", spreading disease and pestilence, eating everything in sight, and laying waste. In the game of survival, that kind of strategy only goes so far until the population gets a knock on the door from the exterminator.

Any last words? Cigarette? Priest? Cube of cheese?

For decades I've thought that focusing on the relative safety of various reactor designs was beside the point: the spent fuel pools will be what "gets" us. It's a nearly perfect monkey trap; sitting there non-threateningly, so easy to defer any decision on. Pretty much no reason to think that all those spent fuel pools will ever go anywhere else, since the minimal systems needed to keep 'em cool can be run fairly easily. And how dangerous is nuclear fuel once it's "spent" anyhow, that's a safe-sounding word, like used ammunition. If it was gonna be moved, it would have been moved by now.

And then, when nobody has gas for their cars, the cops and firemen have quit to look out for their own families, the roads are bad, bridges falling down, electric wires pulled out of the grid for their copper, military tied up in fighting cartels, the economy has crashed and the few wealthy have fled to greener pastures... then the hundred-megacurie events will start, and there may wind up being a lot of 'em.

"spent" nuclear fuel is definitely inconsistent wording, there is quite nothing spent in there, maybe "industrially unusable" or "polluted" would be more appropriate...

But it's even worse than that - even if the waste makes it past the active cooling phase and is put into casks, if it is not moved the result will ultimately be the same. As I said before, from a long term point of view there is no difference between our best case (dry cask storage) and worst case (catastrophic failure now) scenarios.

The only way out is to move it and concentrate it "somewhere else", and then it will destroy that place if we're luck enough to not have it get more widely redistributed.

not sure if y'all have seen this... implies some things went bad due to the quake, and not the water. http://allthingsnuclear.org/tagged/Japan_nuclear

Why not make it a national priority to collect and reprocess the waste? Some 95% of it is harmless U-238 that could be placed in some mine. You can concentrate and store the medium-lived fission products quite easily, while the plutonium can be run through reactors again, burning most of it. With some effort, you could do that and then build a few actinide-burning reactors to take care of the last remnants.

Of course, if you think it's all over in 20 years, there is not enough time.

Why don't we insist that the Owners make it THEIR priority?

The promises of a national repository were a foolish assumed subsidy to place on the state, it must be the responsibility of the companies, not a burden on the nation.

That would involve trusting them to do it right.

Can't say that they can't be trusted with it one day and then say that they should be responsible for it the next without sounding a bit inconsistent.

Because the reprocessing cascade includes several stops where the fuel is made into weapons grade material. You want a military guarding the reprocessing plant.

Which brings me back to Jeppens initial comment about 'national priorities'..

I want a military guarding the nation, Not my discarded batteries.

Nuclear is imbalanced, and forces us to be imbalanced with it.

It does not. The plutonium is not weapons grade as there is too much Pu-240.

Why don't we insist that the Owners make it THEIR priority?

Would you let them? And would you really prefer climate tipping points and a global anoxic event to some government sponsoring of energy infrastructure? You guys seem to become libertarian fanatics only when nuclear comes up. Otherwise you like all sorts of wide-ranging statism.

I don't have a link at the moment, posting from work quickly before my shift.
But it looks like those poor souls who survived the recent bout of tornado's here in the states(one hit within a couple hours of where i live) will not receive any federal help because the current speaker of the house refuses to authorize it unless some of his 'spending cuts' are done first. Which would help them as well as they are to food and medical assistance to the poor, food stamps and the like.
collapse has done a sneak preview to those in joplin(spelling?) Missouri.

Cantor Says Congress Won’t Pay For Missouri Disaster Relief Unless Spending Is Cut Elsewhere


AND if it was a Hurricane in VA, then of course a Senator/Congressman from MO would say, "VA take a hike and enjoy your flood." We are there folks. We have begun to hate ourselves.

Perhaps Cantor could consider cutting the the annual $3 billion a year of "aid" to Israel so as to be able to provide for the Missouri disaster victims.

Charity begins at home, etc.

That aid is what keeps the Israelis on a leash. Think the Middle East is unstable now?

So is the MSM going to play up the "good news" that inventories are rising, and therefor prices will fall, even though inventory is rising because of demand destruction, not more cheap imports?

The message is; inventories are rising, now it is time to go buy a new Hummer.

The last Hummer was completed one year ago yesterday.

They'll have to settle for a Suburban.

As I was parking my bike, after a pleasant ride to Walmart, a woman parked her Hummer 3 in the next space. As she got out she crossed herself. Couldn't help thinking 'Is it THAT bad driving one of those things'.


She was just happy being back down on Earth..

Dangit, where's the +1 button when you need it?

I think you're deliberately misunderstanding for rhetorical purposes ;)

That was merely an exaggerated version of the bog-standard reaction, which is that any adult found riding a bike anywhere must be certifiably nuts. Here in the Berkeley of the Midwest, the reaction is usually more muted but rest assured it's alive and well. It's just that Scandinavian or German Lutherans don't often cross themselves; so as I said once before, it can come out instead as "how can you even think of riding that bike when you're responsible for your kids." (Which is why I continue to expect bike-riding to prove, irrespective of its merits or demerits, and irrespective of hysterically overwrought rhetoric about "destroying the planet", to remain quite non-scalable for the time being.)

Only the devil would ride their bike to Wal Mart. It just is not done. She probably thought he was the devil or an alien life form. Still, I wish he had asked her about the cross thing.

Not meant to be scientific however people search the term, "Bicycle commuting", when we had the 2008 and now 2011 gas spikes more often.


I think where the weather is nice and the bike lanes are built the 0.5-15 mile round trip rides are susceptible to further gains in bicycling.

Driving a car is far more dangerous. It is also unsafe to not exercise and many of us simply have not exercised because of cheap gas in the 80s and 90s; hence, our expanded health care costs and waistlines.

I just walked home the 2 miles or so along the bike path in South Portland after dropping my car at the shop (!!), and ran into my wife's boss, biking in to his office. He was in sports-cycling gear, but as I crossed the Casco Bay Drawbridge, a few more bike commuters in suits or more suity clothes were passing me as well. Larry had seen a Chubby Lawyer a few weeks back on a bike, and couldn't pace the guy.. finding out at a light that he has a HubMotor built onto his.. saying that in Court Clothes and carrying Legal Books and Briefs (are there Legal Boxers, too?), that he really needed the extra push of the electric, but that normally he is a 'real' biker as well.

Larry and I BS'd for a few minutes as I told him about the Pedal-Electric Faired Velo that I'm hoping to have together before long.. I was also wheeling home a discarded kid's Mtn Bike, which I will salvage for some key parts and donate the rest to the bike-resurrection shop nearby.

No need to outrun the lion.. just enough of the other sheep!

Honest to God, I don't know how people commute to work by bike. I recently switched to driving to the train station instead of walking because I was sweating through my shirt. And that's a 1-mile walk at a pretty pleasant pace. It's not even summer yet. How someone rides a bike 10 miles in a suit without smelling like ass is a mystery.

Yeah No Joke JP. I ride my bike and sweat like a pig. The key is to think that you are doing your morning exercise routine and then hit the company showers and put on your change of clothes.

I do my morning in reverse. I do not take a shower. i ride my bike into work and shower at work and put on my clothes for work. I leave dress shoes, a belt, and other items in my office. The bike suit is really for rain protection for me. You need it if you are crazy and bike in the rain. Ride early in the morning to avoid the sun.

Kind of weird but it works for my 12 mile round tripper.

"I ain't got time to sweat"

Jersey, meet Maine. We get about a 10 degree advantage over NYC, I recall.. I remember some steamy days down in Plainfield and Princeton Jct. Like all these things, it's clearly a solution for some and not for others.. whether you're a sweaty type or not, what kind of job, is your route hilly, is your region Hot/Steamy or Hot/Dry? ..etc..

But that's why the Lawyer was saying he had to have the hubmotoer. He could pedal as much or as little as he liked, knowing that the more he added in, the better his range would be. And then, there are days you can, and days you can't.. it's just another option.

I almost bought a hub motor for my bike. I know plenty that use the electric assist to climb hills with books and a laptop. Get one if it will help you haul things or go on longer trips. When I need to bring in tons of stuff (for a party or something like that) I get a lift from my wife. My car is like a zipcar for friends on my street. I loan it out to them when they need an extra car and they are kind enough to keep the tank full. I guess that means I bike for free gasoline.

The other instance of making money by biking is when my wife had her car hit (other guys fault), and it needed repairs. The insurance co. paid me to not rent a car $75 for my wife. :-) So it can pay to ride your bike even after you repair your bike and blow a few hundred bucks on it or more if you get hub generation lighting or a hub motor.

I am trying to maybe get a hub motor for my wife to see if she will bike a few days a week.

Bike repairs are mostly fun except for the corroded bolts. I have done just about every possible repair and I found videos on the www that show you in detail how to do the repairs you may be unsure of.

For thirty-one years I commuted by bike to work in good (above 20 degree F) weather and walked during northern Minnesota winters. I never had an accident and never dumped the bike during that time period, though I did have a close call when a woman driving a Mustang in a crazy way drove up onto the sidewalk.

I always hauled my bike upstairs to my office so that I would not have to worry about it getting wet in the rain or vandalized by irate students. I got over 25,000 miles on an inexpensive Schwinn (made in U.S.A.) threespeed Collegiate model, and the only problem I ever had with the bike was breaking spokes on the rear wheel.

My speed on bike is always low; I can maintain a 12 m.p.h. pace for two hours without stopping, and because of the low speed I usually did not wear a helmet. Now that I am older and more conservative I do often wear a helmet. My current bike is a threespeed Brompton folder that I bought in England back in 2001; it will last me until I'm ready for an adult tricycle some years hence.

You don't need a so called adult tricycle. Check out a recumbent trike. I have the Rover at Terrratrike.com. If you try one out, you may never want to get back on a two wheeler.

You can tell whether someone understands physics by whether driving an SUV makes them nervous. The high center of gravity is dangerous, folks.

Fukushima radioactive water discharges to ocean may resume in three days

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is fast running out of places to stash highly radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and may soon be unable to prevent leaks into the ocean.

About 744 tons of water a day was being pumped into the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors as of May 22.

Some of that is evaporating into the atmosphere, but most appears to be ending up in pools of radioactive water at the plant.

TEPCO has been trying to contain that water by transferring it to storage areas around the site, but the containers for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors are expected to reach full capacity in about four and three days, respectively. ...

I like that; "storage areas". I saw another article that described them as buildings that had been modified so they would hold water. I think it means any basement that they can fill. This whole fiasco makes me think of... well, I can't think of anything so cobbled together that an adult would do.

The Nursing Home term of 'Self-disimpacting' comes to mind.

Tick, tick, tick... the beat goes on.

Quake may have damaged key piping at No.3 reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Company has released data which suggests the March 11th earthquake damaged a critical piping system in the No. 3 reactor at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

...The analysis also shows that piping in an emergency cooling mechanism, known as a high-pressure coolant injection system, may have been damaged by the earthquake. The system is designed to maintain the water level inside the reactor vessel during an emergency.

The system is known to have automatically switched on shortly after noon on March 12th.

Pressure inside the reactor, which was 75 atmospheric pressure, plunged to about 10 atmospheric pressure over the next six hours.

Tokyo Electric says the drop in pressure is consistent with analysis which assumes the piping system had been damaged.

The piping system is one of the plant's most important structures in terms of safety, and must be damage-proof.

I am starting to wonder whether they would have had some meltdowns even if there were high enough defenses against the tsunami.

Yes. You'd think that what would have happened even without the tsunami would be a very important question. My guess is they would have had enough capability to contain the systems, although perhaps one or more reactors would have had to be abandoned (i.e. might never again be powered up). Still woulda been a serious PR blackeye for the industry.

Since I am generally one of the first to point out the gloomiest of the gloom and doom news, I am glad to change stripes today and point out the above article on what we can call "Peak People":


As a result of all this, Deutsche Bank reckons that "the human race will no longer be replacing itself by the early 2020s."

I had just been saying something like this on another forum, so I'm glad to see some confirmation.

From what I have seen lately, the rate of population growth has dropped from about 1.2 to under 1.1 in the last year. If that trend continues, we could have negative population growth in a bit over ten years (a trend that may be accelerated by continued urbanization, increased women's empowerment, continuing trends of couples having their first child later and later in life, GW and PO influenced food shortages...).

Though the vast majority of resources is consumed by a relatively small percentage of the world population, bringing down total population (ideally mostly in benign ways) can reduce pressure on future scarce resources and exhausted 'sinks.'

Difficult to say what's going on.

Anectdotally, here in the U.S. the vast majority of the mid 20's to early 30's people I know have at least one child and plan on having another. However, I must say that alot of people are now stopping at 2. So maybe that is a drop from before.

Also, we continue with high levels of immigration. Here in DFW things feel more crowded than ever, and it seems like there are people here from every corner of the globe, with the biggest source of new arrivals being Latin America of course. And remember - many of these people are coming from poorer parts of the world. But now they can all "enjoy" McMansions and SUVs and strip malls. So it's not just benign transfer of people from one place to another, it's increased resource consumption.

I also know first hand that physicians are working tirelessly to keep the elderly alive forever, with endless transfers between critical care, hospitals, skilled nursing units and nursing homes.

So even though the numbers in the article are impressive, I see no attempts at all, at least in the U.S., to address population. It's always more, more, more, let's have 400,500 million Americans.

Increasing life expectancy has almost no effect on the longer term pop growth rate, it simply delays deaths by a few years. All the effort put into keeping old people alive could have been effort put into using resources (like building/buying larger cars). So I don't think medical science for older people are a real contributor to population pressure on the planet. Also even on the younger end, knowing your children have a very high probability of reaching adulthood might give couples enough cconfidence to only have two.

I think your math is faulty.

Consider the exagerated situation that person a has a child at 25 and lives to be forty nine. His child has a child at 25. In their house, when the first child is born the population is two. When the second child is born the population is also two. But if the "grampa" is still alive the population is three, a 50% increase. Extended life of the elderly can be seen as part of population increase, the number of people alive at a given time.

The grandpa spike is a onetime thing (since he doesn't reproduce). If he consumes resources that might otherwise go to having more children, then he is a drag on the longterm pop growth rate. An increase in life expectancy for older people just pushes up the population curve by a fixed fraction.

It seems that Paul Ryan and the House Republicans have a "solution" for this.

That was amusing in a macabre sort of way.

But seriously - it's a question of choices, budgets, limits, isn't it? Sure we can pay for Medicare, but then we'd either need to raise taxes in a time of economic difficulty, and curtail military spending, which will dampen our influence on the energy rich M.E.

As far as I know, not even democrats have been upfront to the American people about this.

There's the rub. Everything is not possible! It isn't possible to go into deeper and deeper debt forever, it isn't possible to have both low taxation and a welfare/military state.

Even a supposed intellectual like Krugman is complicit. He only deals in numbers - the symbols - without thinking about the underlying reality. This blinds him to declining net energy and marginal return on debt. It also blinds him to the Ponzi happening before his eyes - the Fed buying debt, because there are no other buyers out there. He cries for more stimulus, so we can grow, so we can have everything we want, as if government spending is some sort of magical elixir. Utopia - just one more spending bill away.

As far as I'm concerned, any debate between wingnuts and jellyfish is just background noise at this point. We've lost the plot entirely.

The entire American system is corrupt and terminal. In the end, we may end up with neither Medicare nor a military.

For too long we have been fed the notion of government waste. This has created in peoples mind the idea that budget cuts can be found quite easily- just go to to the waste and fraud line. In truth most of government spending addresses needs that large constituencies consider important. For example my City has a budget deficit and amongst the places it will be making cuts is the public Library. Of course the "Friends of the Library" are asking all of us to call/write the City Council to urge them not to make those cuts. Needless to say they are not offering where additional cuts should be made if the Library is not going to be cut.

I guess it is not just kids who believe in the tooth fairy.

I can see the truth in 'Government Waste', but I don't think it's Foodstamps and HeadStart..

Re-arrange the letters in Library and you can find Libya. The real waste is through the MIC.. but as always, 'steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you Warlord..'

Right now, the Maine Conservatives are gunning for an Anti-ethanol Study to remove the blending requirement.. the Dems involved don't disagree about the 'cause' per-se, but don't think the proposed Study (which is 'only' $5k) does anything to advance the issue, as the blending rule is Fed'l, not State, but it gave O'connor a chance to pound on "Renewables" a little..

State Rep. Beth O'Connor, a Berwick Republican, says the study is long overdue. "I think it's important to point out the absolute foolishness of this failed renewable energy ploy," O'Connor said.

in the dissent, Bob Duschesne had this to say..

... "It's unanimous, we all hate ethanol," said state Rep. Robert Duchesne. The Hudson Democrat was among the committee members who argued that it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend $5,000 on a study panel--largely because it's recommendations would be unlikely to have any impact on the use of ethanol in Maine.

"What the bill says is you guys go study this over the summer, spend the money, spend your time to study this and it's not going to make any difference because whatever results you produce doesn't trump the federal law," Duschesne said. "So as a whole the committee completely agreed with the sponsor. We sympathize with the intent. We simply couldn't justify the use of the resources both in terms of time and money for some high-level cabinet officials to actually go through with this study."

.. but it passed anyhow.


Meantime, happy Memorial Day Weekend.. BRING THE BOYS AND GIRLS HOME!
Let's see if we can preserve a bit of 'Our Lives, Our Fortunes.. and our Sacred Honor' ..

If life expectancy increases by say 50%, then population increases by 50%. Then in turn resource consumption increase by 50%. In a world where we ALREADY eat more food than is produced (thus drawing down inventorys) adding just one extra percent to the population will be very costly.

Assume we would enforce a draconian globalone-child policy, with population targets for every area so they can have 2 or 3 kids in the area once they reached that target. Q: When will population start to decline? A: When the dying generation is bigger than the generation beeing born. And that in turn will happen roughly when the largest generation of today (wich is our youngest) is old enough to die. Wich is decades ahead. Example China; with a one-child policy enforced decades ago they still grow.

Now assume you add 20 year life expectancy to the population. Now we would have to wait 20 more years before popultion starts dropping.

I have had some engagement in anti-racism and immigrant integration issues in the past. My grandmother was that kind of people who was engaged in the Red Cross (realy much engaged) and other NGOs, she where hiding illegalimigrants in her attic while their papers where recycled once more at the imigratio office and so on. She is the one I picked up my "values" in these matters from.

But now when I have realized population controll is the key to our very survivial and of the four buttons to push (births/deaths/imigration/emigration) only imigration is at our disposal. Conclusion beeing we must reduce or even stop imigration. So, whith my background, how do you think I feel beeing forced into this conculsion? That is not fun at all.

"Anectdotally, here in the U.S. the vast majority of the mid 20's to early 30's people I know have at least one child and plan on having another. However, I must say that alot of people are now stopping at 2. So maybe that is a drop from before."

Factor in the gays and those of us who have trouble conceiving in our 30's, and you have good reason to expect a static population. In fact, I have to wonder if homosexuality evolved as a population stabilization behavior.

Re: story above,

Regulators launched one of the biggest ever crackdowns on oil price manipulation on Tuesday, suing two well-known traders and two trading firms owned by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen for allegedly making $50 million by squeezing markets in 2008...


Parnon, headquartered in Oklahoma, owns at least 3 million barrels of storage facilities at Cushing. London-based Arcadia is a major global oil trading firm, which typically markets about 800,000 barrels a day of crude and product around the world.

Both are controlled by Fredriksen's Farahead Holdings, based in Cyprus. Fredriksen's energy empire, which also includes top oil tanker operator Frontline, liquefied natural gas company Golar and offshore driller Seadrill, has hired away several traders who once worked at BP, including Parnon's current CEO, Paul Adams.

Arcadia itself, years before Fredriksen bought it from Japanese trading house Mitsui, was sued by U.S. refiner TOSCO in 2000 for allegedly executing a "squeeze" on European Brent crude with other conspirators, although it settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, without admitting wrongdoing.


This brought a smile to my lips.

“This will help to satisfy the desire to find a culprit and throw them under the wheels of justice,” said Michael Lynch, an oil market specialist at Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a consulting firm.

Well maybe some TODers and Michael Lynch share something in common---sympathy for speculators .

Just think of it as a private strategic petroleum reserve. What's wrong with that?

More fun.

Moving the price of oil to $147 per barrel
(2008) to make a profit of $50 million?


At your link it says

Of course, it's entirely possible the 2008 price spike — and the 2010-11 version — were due largely to fundamentals, as Henry suggests in the accompanying clip.

I notice a lack of people decrying interference by the authorities... and that the invisible hand of the market would have sorted it out.

Funny that.

It is worth noting that the "squeeze" was about $1.

"A final point: the CFTC case is likely to trigger another uproar, particularly in Washington, about how speculators are pushing up the price of oil. It is worth remembering that it was a physical trading house that allegedly artificially lifted and lowered the price of oil. Moreover, at the time of the allegations, prices moved by about $1 a barrel, or less than 1 per cent of the cost of oil, about $120 a barrel at that time. With or without any alleged trading plot, oil would have been expensive."


Whenever some poor scapegoat is being perp-walked, I wonder just which government official can breathe more easily knowing attention has been diverted from the problem he is unable to solve.

Senate blocks GOP bid to speed offshore drilling

A GOP bid to expand and hasten offshore oil drilling in the face of $4-a-gallon gasoline prices suffered an overwhelming defeat in the Senate on Wednesday, four days after President Barack Obama directed his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production.

E. Swanson

While it is currently fashionable to refer to our current era as the anthropocene, my guess is that a retrospective would maybe refer to it as the obcene.

Case in point - Spain. Massive unemployment, public demonstrations by the unemployed, and the opportunity to employ them building a solar powered economy almost on hold or financed by Dubai. And I can imagine how well tourism, which was once about half their exports, will be doing when you can't even get to the Puerto del Sol. And the Socialists in power will be pilloried for austerity measures and replaced by even more austere conservatives. When people get mad they get stupid, get even, get anything but calmly analytical.

Solar energy and a smaller population are the obvious answers but they want more cars and more kids. At least they don't have nukes to get rid of, as far as I know. And they won't freeze.

Solar energy and a smaller population are the obvious answers but they want more cars and more kids.

Spain's green energy initiatives destroyed more jobs than they created. Smaller population may or may not be a great idea, but it doesn't mean a thing to the 21% unemployed today.

Please, Petrosaurus, get your facts straight.
There's massive unemployment in Spain because by 2008 the main driver of the Spanish economy was building houses, and with the Crash that tanked.
It is very difficult to find jobs for 5 million bricklayers, many of them immigrants from Ecuador, Morocco, Eastern Europe, but while it lasted Spain received them with open arms.

Tourism doesn't represent even 18% of the GDP/pib, not half. Spain is an industrial country, it is no Malta and you got it very wrong there.

Spanish bureaucracy is fast as greased lightning in comparison with the British, never mind the French -try cashing a check in France, you'll see what's what, two weeks later you still won't have the money in your pocket.
In Spain you get your passport or national Insurance Number the same day; try that anywhere else in, so called, advanced European countries.
And Spain has real Post Offices, not a corner box in a shop somewhere as it is too often the case in other countries, let them remain unnamed -but you know who you are.
Rubbish is collected Every Day -not every two weeks.
People self-classify it into Glass, Cardboard, Organic and Other, using the appropriate containers.
Even small towns have Police Stations, and Emergency Health Services after hours or on Sundays. If anything we suffer from Health Tourism: miserable English people who go to Spain to benefit from our services, and I say them, because the other Europeans have decent Health Services.

Countries we think about as young and vibrant -say, Australia- only produce raw materials, are full of old cars. Spain is one of the most important car making countries in Europe.
Even for warships Australia had to copy their Camberra amphibious and Hobart class destroyers from Spanish technology -and managed to get it wrong.
Many countries in the world have gotten decent fashion when Zara Inditex opened stores there.

It happens that you in the Anglosphere are always beating your own drum and applying to yourselves The Law of the Funnel: for me the mouth wide, for others the narrow.

The national debt of Spain is lower than Britain's or Germany's, and another stereotype: that Germany pays for the profligacy of the Southern states of Europe.
Rubbish. And don't get me started on the fascist Finns.

Spain is still to receive any loan from Germany, but as you overseas must get your news from the English trash press, like the Torygraph, because of your language limitations, you believe all the rubbish the Brits print. Because you can't even think that the English newspapers poison the mind of their own people.
Fact: Spaniards work longer, more hours, less holidays and for less pay than the Germans or British.
Perhaps that's why we have so much unemployment, too hardworking and too efficient, you need three Brits to do the work of one Spaniard.

And as to the demonstrators in Sol Square, Madrid (and in other cities) there was no violence, no urban terrorism, no guns, no knifings, no attacks on the police -as we witnessed just a few days ago in London- only an expression of anger and disappointment at the behaviour of the two main parties, the PSOE and the Partido Popular, sharing the spoils of the political process but delivering but little.

And last but not least, do not believe that the PP, it is not called Popular Party for nothing, is like the Conservatives in Britain or anywhere else. They have always been big, profligate spenders, pork chops are their thing (washed down with lots of ultra expensive Vega Sicilia wine, followed by the best Scotch, paid for by the long suffering public) and if they do not keep up the social services they will be out of power in no time.

Fact: Spaniards work longer, more hours, less holidays and for less pay than the Germans or British.

Can't speak for the Germans, but I wouldn't say the Spanish are particularly more hard working than the British.

You may have 9 hours in your average work day but Spain still adheres to EU's 48 hour maximum per week which the UK does not follow.

As for the annual leave - Spain gets 22 days per year minimum plus 14 public days or 36 in total. The UK gets 28 minimum plus 8 public days, or 36 days total. Not much difference there! (See wiki)

And if you look at retirement figures the British work significantly longer into their old age when compared to the Spanish. See OECD's report here.

And, actually, when it comes to Germany - well, from the horse's mouth herself...


En cuanto a las vacaciones, el mínimo que establece la legislación germana es de 20 días laborables al año, por los 22 de la española. No hay en este punto, pues, muchas diferencias, mientras que si hablamos de días festivos la diferencia a favor de España es de tres o cuatro días más.


La realidad es que el proceso de alargamiento de la edad de jubilación está siendo exactamente el mismo en España y en Alemania: una extensión progresiva desde los 65 hasta los 67 años. Pero las jubilaciones anticipadas (una de las dianas de las críticas de Merkel) son más frecuentes en España, donde al margen de la edad legal de jubilación, la real ronda de media los 63 años.

AND, if we really want to get this debate heated and personal - perhaps you might want to inform your fellow countrymen that racism in sport (or anywhere else for that matter) really is unacceptable in this day and age. At least the British get that right ;-P

UK is 28 days min holiday. No extra public holidays.

Oops, you're right! Well there you go!

and my bin is collected once per week. The renewables bin, could do with being collected more often though.

Wait a minute. Why on earth would you need your bin collected every day. That would be a right nuisance. Oh, and actually britains are quite proud of their NHS. They whinge about it, but if you tried to take it away, you would have rioting. It's not perfect. But i've used it multiple times and i'm damn glad we've got it.

In hot climates you really don't want anything that might rot, in your bin for a week, really.


Anything that might rot should be composted, worm farmed, "Bokashi bucket" treated for window box gardening, methane digester, fed to chooks or pigs or rabbits, etc, depending on the place where you live. The small amounts of bones or animal fats and suchlike can be frozen for a few days until the next rubbish collection. I live on 1/4 acre property in a small town (pop 5000) and only put out a rubbish bag every 6 to 8 weeks. Even this amount would be less if we had a more comprehensive recycling facility than at present. So-called "waste" is mostly a resource looking for a new home.

True, but not everyone is in a position to do that or need to do that. Here, they are changing the rubbish system to collect waste separately but they really need to get their act together, once a week and irregular collection for organic is not good in this climate.


True, but not everyone is in a position to do that or need to do that.

Not true. At least one of those options would be available to virtually anybody.

Let us look from the point of view of people around here

>>Anything that might rot should be composted, worm farmed, "Bokashi bucket" treated for window box gardening

If no garden or window box then this does not help

>>, methane digester,

would need to be constructed and then what with the methane

>>fed to chooks or pigs or rabbits, etc, depending on the place where you live.

If there are no animals to consume them?

>>The small amounts of bones or animal fats and suchlike can be frozen for a few days until the next rubbish collection.

Not everyone here has a fridge or suitable freezer.

>>I live on 1/4 acre property in a small town (pop 5000) and only put out a rubbish bag every 6 to 8 weeks. Even this amount would be less if we had a more comprehensive recycling facility than at present. So-called "waste" is mostly a resource looking for a new home.

If waste is not disposable in other ways then that is a long time and there will be more especially if there are half a dozen free range children too. In our climate stuff becomes unspeakably foul in a very short time.

The options are not universally available. Many could be implemented, true, but the work needs to be done. They have made a start here with separating the rubbish but that is a work in progress. Personally I do look at these things, for example the fridge/freezer does get used to store stuff, but I ain't got no pigs to eat the scraps :) Not everyone is in the same situation.


Let us look from the point of view of people around here

>>Anything that might rot should be composted, worm farmed, "Bokashi bucket" treated for window box gardening

If no garden or window box then this does not help

I don't understand why you would make such a narrow statement. it's a no-brainer to make a long list of ways to use at least one of those in any situation. How many people have no access to any green space of any kind at any time, anywhere, for any reason?

>>, methane digester,

would need to be constructed

I fail to see your point. Everything and anything must be made at some point. Moot.

and then what with the methane

Convinced you are not taking it seriously.

>>fed to chooks or pigs or rabbits, etc, depending on the place where you live.

If there are no animals to consume them?

Then one of the other choices.

>>The small amounts of bones or animal fats and suchlike can be frozen for a few days until the next rubbish collection.

Not everyone here has a fridge or suitable freezer.

Then whatever they are already doing seems to be working, right? Feed 'em to your dog. Tie them up tightly in a bag or a container. Bury them, then did them up. just bury them and leave them there for long-term compost.

>>I live on 1/4 acre property in a small town (pop 5000) and only put out a rubbish bag every 6 to 8 weeks.>>

If waste is not disposable in other ways then that is a long time and there will be more especially if there are half a dozen free range children too. In our climate stuff becomes unspeakably foul in a very short time.

It wasn't a recommendation, it was a statement of their small waste stream because they successfully recycle.

The options are not universally available.

I repeat, at least one of the options is available to anyone, anywhere. And this list is not exhaustive.

You are just being unreasonable. The point of the post was not to explain every possible combination of waste disposal, but point out some examples of what is possible.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. FYI, a worm bin, at minimum, can be used by anyone, anywhere. Full stop. I could figure out a way to make one work in a desert, I'd wager.


Not true. At least one of those options would be available to virtually anybody.

Was your original point. I am trying to point out that the options are not necesserally available to everyone and that climate can have a big impact on how anything that can rot is treated. Yes, options can be created. As I said, the local council has made a start on collecting separated rubbish, which is a huge step forward here, but it will take time to become fully functional. Burying waste may be an option in the desert but not effective in a concrete wasteland. You might get a worm bin working in the desert but it is a little pointless in a 6th floor apartment. In the climate here we need to take care that organic waste is treated properly or there are real health risks. The disposal of waste is one of appropriate technology not just alternative technology. In some homes it is best to take the waste away as rapidly as possible. Another may be able to compost for the garden (I have no use for that here but am thinking how to integrate it into a future home and offer to dispose of waste fruit and veg for the local shops).

To improve this education and investment is needed along with enforcement. Here, the former is limited by funds (but see above about rubbish collection) the latter is very difficult politically. There is not a single broad brush solution but a range of lesser ones and these change from area to area.


Sweden may have the most advanced garbage sortitng system whatever you call it. We are used from childhood to put each garbage into its own type of 4 different ones. Organic in one, stuf that burns in another and so on. And then you go down to the comunity dump place just to se one five bags of plastic waste in the orgnic waste binge.

Short line is; you can never make people think when they use comunal resources. If it is free (as in free beer) they will not spend those 10% extra time/energy requiered to make the system work 1000 times more efficient. Those garbage sorting systems do not work due to the human component. It is as simple as that.

You may have 9 hours in your average work day but Spain still adheres to EU's 48 hour maximum per week which the UK does not follow.

It is illegal, and absolutely the done thing that all Spanish blue-collar workers put in four or more hours of overtime, every day -and they get paid on the black.
The unions can't do anything about it, the government looks the other way, and as to the owners... That's why most 500 euro banknotes are in Spain and they are called binLadens: nowhere to be seen.

Along with the family links it explains why the economy holds on with 21.3% unemployment.

Yes. Next time I go to a Celtic vs Rangers football match I'll preach to them about racism.

I understood it that the 500s were disappearing due to their popularity with the narcotraficantes.



Many of them British criminals who were used in the dirty war against the IRA and retired now live in Marbella, and own the heroin trade in Costa del Sol and also the far more important Time Share Holidays, and prey on unsuspecting normal decent British people.
It is not only the narcos, there's a lot more black money to be made in clothes, shoes, illegal alcohol, influence peddling, false VAT bills. Even the distillation of Agrodiesel to do away with its color, then sell it as the normal stuff. A lot safer, too, I know a fella who did a bit of time because of that, in fact my brother in law sold him some land with a building so he could enlarge the petrol station.

One peculiar, very Spanish way to launder those 500 euro bills is to win the Lottery.
There's a well known Spanish politician in the Mediterranean who wins the lottery all the time. Fabra (PP) recently built an airport without planes in Castellón -he says it is ideal to walk around in the pistes, something you can not do in a normal airport with planes.
He also had a bronze statue of himself put in front of the airport.
If you really need to win the Lottery you are sure to win the lottery, if you get what I mean. It will cost you just 10% more money than the prize.

In other words, the Spanish Mediterranean is like Sicily but without the crimes.

'If you really need to win the Lottery you are sure to win the lottery' :)


Ah well, everyone knows that the Scots aren't British, lol.

I visited Tyrol last year, and spent a good part of it walking up this or that branch of the Jakobsweg. Maybe I should have kept walking?

I have a few observations on the airlines. I am currently stranded in New Orleans (Rockman turf;). Now I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist but this is my take on the situation with air travel. As we know inventories are falling so I think they are taking advantage of natural disasters in a few ways to catch up on refining lags. In Europe we have that volcano which is able to keep a lot of planes grounded. In the US we have the severe weather in the middle of the country. Now my flight was canceled and they would not allow us to use a PC to rebook. We were forced to use a special line which was severely jammed and required a 90 minute hold to get to an agent. Many were looking to then take the bus or rent a car. Not an option for me though;-)
These are the facts on the ground.

Now let's read the newspapers. The daily beat is that airfraffic controllers are sleeping on the job. Bin laden is dead and maybe terrorists will strike airlines. I read an article a day about declining safety tired air pilots overworked etc etc Seems unusual these stories and their spin and timing which may airlines seem unsafe. Finally we have the security screening which included the body X-ray and other issues that generally spoke average Jane and Joe.

Now I speculate. Maybe these are mechanisms designed by the FAA to curb jet fuel usage.
The FAA makes the rules. They get to cancel flights. The FAA can effectively cull demand with policy.
So it seems Europe is doing the very same thing.

I of course know the volcano is blasting and the weather is poor but the flight issues are being overmanaged IMHO. The screening and media reports of sleeping Controllers etc is too well timed with the declining fuel stocks.
So let me theorize. The net effect is to create a demand-side lag. The closed 100s of flights. They only need to handle natural disasters in a heavy-handed way to curb jet fuel use a little bit but also people get mad and consider driving in the future.

Just a pet theory.
A lot of typos due to using phone here in new Orleans. ;)

I think you need another strip search, to get your attitude adjusted. ;^)

I hope you find a fueled up plane going your way soon.

Lol. I just read two more articles in my free USA today. One is that there is controversy about ash from icelands volcano. Irish say their research planes see no ash but Brits ground flights. See they accuse regulators of overreacting.

Second article flying to Europe could increase your chances of measles.

There was the sleeping air controllers too. All on the same page of the newspaper!

Would take my cavity search asap. So I can get home!

You should have taken the red pill, not the blue pill. Didnt know you were colour blind...
You need a BBQ and a few beers to forget thinking in these patters. No meta-analysis of anectdotal info should be possible.
Seriously: Good luck with your flight and keep on thinking!

Lol. I just read two more articles in my free USA today. One is that there is controversy about ash from icelands volcano. Irish say their research planes see no ash but Brits ground flights. See they accuse regulators of overreacting.

Err not quite. Irish independent (not state) budget airline Ryanair flew one of their planes empty with permission in an area above the ash cloud and claimed correctly that they had seen no ash but incorrectly claimed that they had flown through it.

The Irish authorities (not the British) threatened Ryanair with removal of its license to operate if it flew passenger flights through the restricted ash zone.

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair is, in my opinion, a loud-mouthed idiot and I agree with this comment from Professor Erik Klemetti - Volcanologist, Denison University:


"hate to say it, but I think the only thing that will convince O'Leary that ash is a real danger to aircraft is when one of his airliners has a serious incident - so it is money over safety at Ryanair. "

Also Air Force 1, with Obama on-board, left Ireland a day early for the UK to avoid the ash-cloud.

Sorry did not look into the details of the plane that looked at the ash. LOl. That volcanic dust cloud isnt that big. The regulators don't reroute the planes. They ground them and that is my point.

Net result is to time shift fuel use one natural diaster and/or safety-screen/demand destruction regulation at a time ;-)

Oct, I have had speculations along the same lines. I haven't flown for about 7 years, but everything I hear about it sounds like the whole experience has gotten pretty darn miserable and humiliating.

I also wonder whether getting the affluent public used to constant searching and probing in airports will normalize it so that when it becomes a regular part of normal life, there won't be much of a fuss.

Did someone says something about conspiracy?


You are not alone: this from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

D/FW Airport

An American Airlines official estimated that 200 departures and arrivals have been cancelled today at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

More than 500 American cancellations were reported across the country because of storms. Spokesman Ed Martelle said that the company has pulled 62 planes for hail-damage assessment.

"Each will probably take an hour or two for assessment," Martelle said.

American Eagle has pulled 27 planes and 16 have already been inspected, Martelle said.

Many of the airport's cancellations came because planes were not at the airport after having been diverted Tuesday night to avoid the storms, an airport spokesman said.

Other planes were being assessed for hail damage and were not in service, said David Magaña, an airport spokesman.

At least three planes from Virgin, Frontier and Continental received hail damage at Terminal E, Magaña said.

Numerous flights were delayed as the storm moved in Tuesday, and hail damaged up to 100 taxis beginning about 8 p.m.

Many departing planes returned to the terminals and passengers got off before the storm arrived. Employees moved them away from windows and into sheltered areas.

About 10,000 people spent the night in the airport terminals, Magaña said.

The airport and the airlines provided cots and blankets and other supplies, and airport concessions remained open overnight.

Large hail damaged as many as 100 cabs at the taxi queue on the south end of the airport, Magaña said, but no injuries were reported.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/05/24/3101304/biggest-storm-system-in-...

No comments on the oil data released today?

Markets expected a gasoline inventory rise of 450,000, instead there was a HUGE rise of 3.79 million. Yet oil is up on distillates inventories.

Report: Streets Pose Mortal Threat to Pedestrians

More than 47,000 people were killed walking the streets of the United States between 2000 and 2009, according to a report that blames automobile-centric transportation policies for failing to adequately protect pedestrians.

The report, Dangerous By Design (.pdf), says many of those deaths could have been prevented by installing sidewalks and crosswalks while reducing speed limits in pedestrian areas. Advocacy group Transportation for America, which compiled the report, argues state and federal transportation officials aren’t spending enough to improve safety for the 107 million people who regularly walk to work, school and other places.

...Public health officials encourage Americans of all ages to walk and bike more to stem the costly and deadly obe¬sity epidemic – yet many of our streets are simply not safe. Americans get to pick their poison: less exercise and poor health, or walking on roads where more than 47,000 people have died in the last ten years.

Although pedestrians account for nearly 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, only 1.5 percent of federal transportation funds are allocated to retrofitting roads with sidewalks and other pedestrian safety features.

In West Texas I have seen increased bicycle riding on highways that have 80mph speed limits. Now these bicyclist aren't really going anywhere they bike for recreation. I would call it extreme cycling to be riding on a highway with cars zipping by at 80 mph, just for the fun of riding. I am all for biking to get somewhere with a purpose but to expose yourself to this danger just for fun is asnine.

How exactly do you know what their purpose is for biking? Did you ask them?

I was biking on a rural road where cars were probably doing at least 70mph. But I had to go on that road for a while since it was the only way to get to my destination.

(By the way, is "asnine" right next to cloud nine? '-)

Yes, I work with the fools! Sorry should have spell checked "asinine".

The most dangerous place when cycling is at intersections, when car speeds are relatively low. It is also dangerous to cycle on the sidewalk, especially in reference to car/bike collisions. It's not particularly unsafe to cycle on highways, if the cyclist is visible, predictable and reasonably alert.

I've done cross country bicycle trips with half-asleep long-haul drivers roaring by and have never felt as threatened as I have on several occasions while driving, usually from nodding off myself. I crashed my motorcycle after nodding off at the handlebars.

For some reason, I never nod off while cycling. Alertness is necessary for road use survival and for the cyclist is comes naturally. As noted above, the cyclist needs as well to be visible and predictable.

But what's with the 80mph speed limits? Speed kills.

Something like 400,000 car/truck driver/passenger deaths on US roads since 9/11. Ho hum, who cares.

But what's with the 80mph speed limits? Speed kills.

With tongue somewhat in cheek...

It's not velocity that kills, it's delta-v. Going fast just makes it easier to experience harmful levels of acceleration. And as a comic said back in the day, "Driving across Texas at 55 isn't a trip, it's a career." Intelligent national energy policy has to reflect the differences between, for example, the very large open spaces of the West versus the much more crowded East, or the differences between snowy New England and the hot/humid Deep South.

I think you need to get over your biased assumption that highways are for cars.

I also think you will get over it, in time, unless you're very old or otherwise moribund.

And despite the lurid fearmongering article title, and even if some of the proposals would be useful to carry out, 24 million Americans died over that same period.* So in the grand scheme of things, it's next to nothing - and, indeed, it's trivial compared to, say, just iatrogenic deaths alone (which could be greatly and quickly reduced at no cost at all, merely by ratcheting down unnecessary medical "care" and the incessant lurid fearmongering driving it - never mind cracking down on sloppy procedure, which might cost something.) We must be looking at, as with the hysteria over frac'ing, yet another case of focusing on fairly inconsequential risks while the huge ones fly under the radar.

Maybe that's why, in the end, so little actually gets done about it. For example, as I said elsewhere, a nearly cost-free way to improve ped/bike safety would be to repeal right-turn-on-red, which was a bad idea from the get-go since it affords no reasonably safe time during which to use the crosswalk, and since it complicates the interpretation of a steady red light, a task that ought to be kept utterly bonehead simple since it's safety-critical. But no. And indeed, for example, isn't TX in the process of allowing some speed limits to be raised?

*Classic propaganda technique: when you're stoking hysteria, take deaths or other harm over 10, 20, 30, or even 100 (think of all the grandchildren!) years. That way, (1) your number looks big and scary, boo!, and (2) many people will unconsciously set your number against annual numbers that they may vaguely recall for other forms of harm, 'cos they sure aren't likely to sit down and do the apples-to-apples arithmetic. (Better still, stoke the hysteria in video, so it all flashes past, sets their glands to secreting, and is long gone, before they can ever think about it.)

Good points about right turn on red and iatrogenic deaths.

Yes, people die from other things, but 48,000 is still not an inconsequential number. I wonder what kind of coverage it would get if 48,000 people in cars were killed by bicyclists and pedestrians?

When one drives a car or truck, one is essentially going around with a deadly weapon--a loaded gun, if you will, loaded, cocked finger on the trigger, and usually aimed at other people's vital parts. If someone actually carried a gun around like that, and they slipped and shot someone, wounding or killing them, most of us would not be very sympathetic to his cries that, "It was just an accident."

But we regularly let drivers off the hook for needlessly killing and maiming tens of thousands of people every year.

But go ahead and belittle this tragedy. Just be sure to be careful where you walk and bike!

dohboi - A valid view as usual. OTOH every time I see a biker on the streets of Houston I see a potential suicide with a death wish. Not so much a knock on the bikers or the auto drivers: our streets are so bad it's not easy to keep a car in perfect control let alone a bike. And last I heard "...we regularly let (bikers) off the hook for needlessly killing and maiming tens of thousands of (car grills) every year".

I know: dark sick humor but you should be getting use to me by now.

These are the guys that make me nervous:


I'm in Cambridge, UK

Yesterday I watched two cyclists come within a fraction of a second of being squashed under two different double decker buses in the space of 30 seconds.

This morning a cyclist went through a red light past me, at about 30mph, just as a child was crossing and emerging from in front of the waiting traffic.

It amazes me that the death rate of cyclists in our city is about one a year, and in the ten years I have been here, I have not heard of a pedestrian being killed by one. Just shows how much more dangerous cars are, and that people adapt their behaviour to match their perceived level of risk.

If you make cycling/driving structurally safer, people will cycle/drive in more reckless ways.

I cycle every day.

If you make cycling/driving structurally safer, people will cycle/drive in more reckless ways.

I think your observations are skewed by the fact that the population at large may not be represesented evenly in the cycling population.

I suspect that the cyclist you mention going through a red light at 30MPH was a male under 30. This has been my experience, with bike couriers being the most likely to behave this way.

Older cyclists, like older people in general, are less likely to take unnecessary risks. If grandmothers made up the majority of cyclists, I am sure that cyclists would be considered paragons of road safety.


Yes the 30mph cyclist was male and in full lycra.

However I have watched a lady vicar in dog-collar nearly cause a pile-up by serenely sailing through red on the same road.

Cambridge is a crowded medieval city full of tourists and students and a few drunks. Cycling through it you need to be constantly aware of all potential hazards through 360 degrees. The accident that finally kills me may start with a
broken road surface, a diesel slick, black ice, a dozy pedestrian, a brain dead cyclist or an inattentive car driver or a bus driver in a hurry (I have have been floored by all of these) but it will end under the wheels of a moving vehicle.

The kamikaze antics of cyclers in Cambridge are terrifying to motorists. Always on the lookout in every direction when I used to have to travel through there.


Me, I thought the kamikaze antics of the road builders in that region were (or ought to have been) terrifying to everyone. Ten foot high hedges so close to the driving lane as to leave virtually no verge, driving lane so narrow two cars could just about pass in opposite directions, never mind lorries (trucks) - and all of that with somewhat sharp curves and a 110kph speed limit, i.e. speed minimum. Quite the insane adventure, I'd say. The excuse that "this is why we buy well-performing cars on this side of the pond, instead of those wallowing American slushboxes", even if there was a (small) grain of truth to it, did little to reduce the sense of insanity. And people are terrified to ride bikes on the wide roads of the central and western USA, go figure...

Many of those roads have been there for a thousand years or more, and have just been modestly upgraded and paved. Often they had been worn down over the centuries so that the road was many feet below the surrounding countryside, with hedges on top of the high banks. As for a "speed minimum", things must have changed since I was last over there. It used to be that there were only speed maximums. On narrow, winding roads, most people drive at a sane speed, especially after hitting their first stray horse around a blind bend.

If you look at the lifetime risk of early death or debilitating injury, traffic accidents are very high on the list. Orders of magnitude higher than say dangers from Nuclear power -or in recent decades, being killed in a war or terrorists. Its a fact that what we worry about has only a little correlation to the actual risks.

But cardiovascular disease largely from inactivity kills about 1 million US citizens a year, car accidents kill about 40,000, about 4,000 pedestrians die, and about 700 cyclists. Cardiovascular deaths tend to happen later than accidental deaths, but weakness and ill health from inactivity and poor diet are now hitting kids in grade school.
So a heart attack is somewhere around 10,000 times more likely than a cycling death, but fat-ass Americans work themselves into panic attacks about riding a bike, and huddle in fear in their SUVs. It would be funny if it was not so sad.

No joke. All the heart disease from people not exercising. The irony is so in your face it hurts. Bike trails and lanes are cheap easy ways to reduce health care costs and deaths from heart disease for a minor risk of death while walking or biking. Your odds are still higher for dying while driving a car than walking. LOL

Is this calculus so hard to understand? Heck and throw in lower fuel costs besides and no gym membership. (I know I am soap boxing.)

Kills me exercise was not in the so-called heath care plan. If you dont exercise you should pay out the nose for health care insurance. Cause I am sick of paying for other peoples tragicomedies ;-)

Oh well.

The truth is never going to be made known by politicians or the main stream media.

Anyone who has given up their car or at least changed from driving to get places to other means has seen the immediate effect on their health. So, it seems the number of deaths to the auto should be driven way up beyond 40,000. But nooooo. Must drive everywhere and then drive, of course, to the health club until one becomes too lazy to do that.

As far as pedestrian cross walks, though, you I am sure are familiar with the one's installed in Boulder. They are much appreciated but so far I see them often ignored by the autos even when the lights are flashing. They still have that culturally induced blind spot and I have seen several pedestrians almost run over at the cross walk. I would like to see those drivers put in jail for about 20 years.

My college dorm had a cross-walk across a four-lane street. It had flashing lights and a clear, wide crossing with unobstructed views in all directions, on a college campus with an expectation of pedestrian traffic, and clear signage pointing out that on-campus pedestrians had the right of way EVERYWHERE -- there was no such thing as no-jay-walking, even with marked cross-walks. Our dorm t-shirts often had tire-tracks on the back, as an entertaining reminder of the daily hazard of going to class.

Early on you'd learn that hurrying drivers would not even slow if they thought you were going to pause, so you had to purposefully stride toward and enter the street to cause a break in traffic, else you'd wait interminably on the side until somebody more stridently foreceful came along. But some drivers would still blithely ignore or simply not notice the lights, rumble strips, and pedestrians, and cruise on by, so you had to be ready to stop in an instant. Some of us made a habit of hitting such cars with our book-bags as a friendly reminder, or kicking the fender as it crossed inches in front of you.

Each year a kid or two would be hit. And that was before the days of smart-phones and iPODs with their add'l distractions.

This is ironically funny to me, because it is exactly the opposite of my college experience. Where I grew up near San Francisco, I learned early on to wait for all the cars to pass by and then cross behind the cars during a break in the traffic.

When I arrived in Eastern Washington for school, I distinctly remember the first time a car stopped on the opposite side of a 4 lane road through campus. At the same time, a car stopped on my side of the road as well. As a 19 year old who had never experienced a car waiting at an uncontrolled crosswalk before, the first thought that ran through my head was, "What, are they going to do, wait until I step out in front of them and then hit the gas?" I kid you not, I really didn't know what to do for a second, it was so foreign to my previous experience. In my world, the car was supposed to pass by so I could safely pass behind it, you just don't step out in front of a car for any reason.

Needless to say, I quickly got used to the idea and for some strange reason, I don't feel any desire to move back to California.

Funny thing is that city kids learn to cross with lights and dodge between cars otherise. Country kids are bad at that, and are at risk in cities. I've seen high-schoolers who couldn't safely cross a street.

Sometimes moms with strollers can't either:

Man, she was pushing out when the cars started rolling. That was a Near Darwin Award moment. But her kid survived so her gens are passed on.

The car driver didn't help either, just kept accelerating 'It's my turn to go and I am taking it'. Didn't even stop afterwards, I wonder if they even noticed what they had done. Darn lucky kid.


PS Before anyone argues I don't condone the pram pusher.

I sense your frustration but it's too late!

We live in a world in which everything is "safe" but the system itself. A terrifying proposition, to be sure. Like being on a crashing airplane, with the stewardess urging you to stay calm, buckle up and grab your oxygen mask, even as the parachutes are left unused.

It's not enough to make me a doomsteader quite yet. But I can understand the sentiment.

From the rustbelt: An iron-based flow battery

... The most common flow batteries are based on vanadium, a metal mined primarily in Russia, China and South Africa, and which has recently cost from $8 to $20 per pound in the pentaoxide form. Iron, which is plentiful in the U.S., has recently been selling for less than 25 cents per pound as anhydrous ferrous chloride, or on a metal basis less than 1% of the cost of vanadium.

Vanadium batteries use highly-corrosive sulfuric acid for the electrolyte. For safety reasons, the researchers plan to use a benign electrolyte with a pH of about 4.

... A large-scale energy storage facility that could accommodate a wind farm by storing up to 20 megawatt-hours of electricity would require two storage tanks for the iron solutions of about 250,000 gallons – or 8 railroad tank cars each, he explained.

A system that size could supply the power needs of 650 homes for a day.

The researchers estimate, because of the low cost of components, that the iron-based battery would cost $30 per kilowatt-hour produced.

Flow batteries have a lot of nice features, though that article seemed to be a little vague on the cost and energy/power density.

For a flow battery, the electrolyte is separate from the electrodes. The scale of the electrodes dictates the power rating, while scale of the electrolyte storage determines the energy. In terms of density, the chemistry dictates the energy density.

Typically, a flow battery is expected to have a large ratio of energy to power -- it's meant for bulk storage -- so power density isn't much of an issue, as almost all the space will be for electrolyte storage.

Cost is terribly unclear from the article (what is "power produced"?), but in general it is a function of the cost and cycle life of reactants and electrodes and the storage capacity.

I would love to see a house-scaled unit, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

It could be a very useful thing. Generally a flow battery is sized so that you get at least a couple of hours at full power. That would be useful for utility scale storage, which is expected to become a multi-billion dollar market. For grid balancing you will want a range of capabilities, some with cheap cost per KWhour (of energy storage capability), some with high rampup rates in seconds or minutes to smooth unexpecetd spikes, and other stuff in between.

Kiss the 'Lungs of the World' Goodbye

Brazil eases rules on conserving Amazon rainforest

... Under the new bill, small-scale landowners, who make up the majority of Brazil's farmers, will be exempt from having to replant deforested land.

Other changes include:

- allowing the use of previously excluded areas such as hilltops and slopes for some kinds of cultivation
- reducing the amount of land that must be left intact along the banks of rivers and streams from 30m (100ft) to 15m (50ft)
- allowing farmers to count forest alongside rivers and lakes on their land as part of their conserved area, so reducing the total amount of land they need to protect or reforest

One of the most controversial elements grants farmers with land of up to 400 hectares (990 acres) an amnesty if they illegally cut down forest before July 2008.

Brazilian Amazon activist and wife ambushed and killed

A prominent Brazilian conservationist and his wife have been killed in the Amazon region, police have said. They said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed in Para state, near the city of Maraba.

News of the killings came hours before Brazil's Chamber of Deputies passed a law that eases deforestation rules

I always wonder about that gushy, marijuana-hazed "lungs of the world" tropical-forest meme. You know, "Because they take carbon from the atmosphere and produce oxygen, forests are often referred to as “the lungs of the world.”" (link.) Really? There's transmutation going on? And no gamma rays?

The organic-containing part of the soil in those places is typically said to be roughly 3cm thick, that's all, vastly thinner than for, say, many grasslands. So the "lung" process must be sublimely magical - steadily producing all that oxygen while dropping the carbon out of this universe (so it would seem since the carbon is nowhere to be found, except where humans have intervened to make terra preta.) Or, in the real world, visible when the haze dissipates, maybe the process just pointlessly shuffles carbon around in circles, forever taking it in to grow foliage and expelling it again as the foliage rots, in a steady state, with zero net effect on either the air or the soil. Some "lungs".

In fact, the oceans are more correctly viewed as the "lungs of the world" (we're destroying the oceans rapidly, too). More apposite is the idea that the Amazon rainforest is one of the world's great carbon reservoirs, storing ~80 gigatons of carbon in biomass, which is the equivalent of about 10 years' worth of human carbon emissions.

Who's talking about marijuana.

Just saying that converting a carbon sink to a carbon source is not an especially bright idea. Deforesting is sure not going to make that soil any thicker.

I always wonder about that gushy, marijuana-hazed "lungs of the world" tropical-forest meme.

Not sure how you made that connection, or how such a connection somehow eliminates the assertion the Amazon is a major carbon sink. It's as if you are doing a character assasination on the biggest rainforest, in an attempt to denegrade it into a valueless carbon sink. However, character assasinations do not change people or places or in this case, carbon sinks. The Amazon should be protected from further slash & burn, which it won't, but at least those in the know are sounding the alarm. Even if this specie cannot help itself from destroying the very planet that supports our well being, at least some know we are. That's probably the best humans can do.

Mass is conserved. So where's all the "sunk" carbon going? Not into the soil. Right, it's not going anywhere, just cycling round and round, into and out of the foliage, no net effect, no "sink", no "lungs", nothing. Nothing, that is, save for a false narrative for eco-doomers to recite.

So where's all the "sunk" carbon going?

When the forest is razed and burned, the previously sequestered carbon goes into the atmosphere and oceans.

When an unforested area starts growing a forest it acts as a carbon sink as those trees grow. After some time, typicaly several hundreds of years, the forest has matured. For every tree that grows, another one falls and decompose, releaseing carbon to the atmosphere. Such a forest is carbon neutral. If however it grows the organic soil beneth its roots it can sink carbon for ever. That is what formed our coal deposits in the first place.

The Amazonas is millions of years old. It should be mature and neutral by now. However there are places with peat and they act as a sink till this day. Producuing coal seems for the future.

But recent research has shown that the forests actually act as a sink even without peat. This was a mystery to ecologists, but it has now been resolved; the increased CO2 concentrations in the atosphere has changed the growth pattern of the trees. They have now begun growing again. The Amazon forest may be mature in the CO2 concentrations of yesteryear, but in todays atmosphere it is yet unmature.

Bottom line is; as long as we keep increasing the CO2 concentration, the forest will remain a sink. Wich off course only will last untill the forest burns down due to climate change, but that is another matter.

This was a mystery to ecologists, but it has now been resolved; the increased CO2 concentrations in the atosphere has changed the growth pattern of the trees

Any chance you have that reference? It makes sense, and clearly individual species see enhanced growth rates with increased CO2, but I haven't seen a discussion of ecosystems being affected this way. Thanks for the tip.

Sorry I don't remember. I read it in a book written originaly in english but I had a swedish copy. The book was published in 2005. And I added it to some information I got from a TV documentary. I seldom bothers remember the source, I just need the data for my own personal needs. But if it is proper science (wich it is) it should be in the public domain. Google is your friend.

Regarding the issue it self it apears diffrent spieces of trees benefit differently from this increased CO2. This means that some trees get more extra growth than others, and over time will out compete those slower trees. Wich will change the ecology of the forests. And as you may guess, the benefitters of this is off course those trees whos extra growth makes the most damage to the system. I just wonder why it always have to be like that.

First, as pointed out below by another poster, being the "lungs" of the planet has nothing to do with carbon sequestration, it has to do with the release of O2 via an ongoing process. Breath in, breath out. This is enhanced, as pointed out below, by additional growth from CO2 (though this may be offset by heat reducing growth based on a recent study). But, the point is that processing needs to occur, or CO2 would build up in the atmosphere. Third, the carbon is in the plants. The more tropical the climate there, the more rain forest you will have. The less tropical, the less rainforest. Less rainforest will equal less tropical over time, becoming a negative feedback.

I don't post on technical oil issues because I do not know the topic. You should consider the same self-restraint on issues of climate.

The carbon in the atmosphere is in the form of CO2, you take the carbon out and you are left with oxygen, no transmutation needed.

I mean really, if you are going to bash on the hippies you could at least try to get your facts straighter than they manage to in their pot-induced haze.

"...you take the carbon out and you are left with oxygen, no transmutation needed."

Exactly. The rain-forest as a metaphorical set of "lungs" ought to be doing just that. But "take the carbon out", and short of transmutation, it has to end up somewhere. Only it doesn't - there's no accumulating carbon. Just a local, small-ish, steady-state carbon-rich inventory, and carbon and oxygen both going round and round in circles to zero net effect. Not one iota more going on - net - than in forest-free Arabian deserts or Greenland ice fields. No "lungs" at all, except to precisely the same degree as we should also call those deserts or ice fields "lungs".

You use it to build trees.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose C6H10O5

You need water and some other stuff, too. And that's how you make a forest.

Uh - dude - it's called photosynthesis.

It's the reason we can all breathe oxygen - thanks to the primordial microorganisms converting the CO2 for us.

Equation for photosynthesis :-

6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy -> C6H12O6 + 6O2

Energy : sunlight
C6H12O6 : glucose

How about storage in sea shells?

CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O → Ca(HCO3)2

Probably the big sink. Carbon mineralization.

Estimated major stores of carbon on the Earth.

Sink Amount in Billions of Metric Tons
Atmosphere 578 (as of 1700) - 766 (as of 1999)
Soil Organic Matter 1500 to 1600
Ocean 38,000 to 40,000
Marine Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks 66,000,000 to 100,000,000
Terrestrial Plants 540 to 610
Fossil Fuel Deposits 4000

Rising ocean temperature, sea levels and ozone holes are wiping out corals. Coral reefs support a lot of shell fish population. Not good for the prospects. I don't know how how the changing conditions will affect shell fish in other environments but I'm not sure things will be good.


‘Major Tornado Outbreak’ Seen for Midwest

A “major tornado outbreak” is expected to develop in the central U.S. states surrounding the area where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

A tornado watch, meaning the deadly storms may develop, was posted from Missouri to Ohio, including Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Memphis, according to the National Weather Service.

“The potential is increasing for a major tornado outbreak,” the center said. “Widespread wind damage and large hail are also a prominent concern through the evening hours.”

Storm damage from flipped trucks, downed power lines and damaged homes has been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri, according to the storm center. As of 3 p.m. New York time, 13 tornadoes were reported across the Midwest.

I had my first ever Tornado Warning in downtown Kansas City today where the employees of my company were told to seek shelter. Been here 11 years and lived around KC most of my life. Funnel clouds were reported throughout the metro area. No major damage. Sedalia, MO was hit.

I was in a public building downtown Chicago today, and they had an emergency drill at about 2pm. Just keeping people on their toes, I guess. We had pounding rain this morning, and are expecting more tonight.

I wonder if it might be possible for the Earth to develop something close to a permanent storm like the red spot on Jupiter, if GW extremes got extreme enough.

Perhaps not, but maybe our descendents will experience Daisy Chains of Hurricanes. Sounds like a song. Or a future windfarm.

I doubt it since the earths surface is not uniform.

Nor perhaps big enough.

Switzerland Decides on Nuclear Phase-Out

The Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard had suspended the approvals process for three new reactors, pending a safety review, after the accident that struck the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

On Wednesday — days after an anti-nuclear rally in Switzerland drew a large crowd of 20,000 people — the Cabinet said it had decided to make the ban permanent.

Disappointing. One would expect the Swiss, of all people, to be able to handle nuclear.
Where else are they going to get the juice to keep the lights on once they phase out the plants? Windmills?

Coal and gas it is then. Burn baby burn!

Another way of viewing their decision is that maybe nobody can "handle nuclear". Besides, if they were to have a big problem with one of their nukes, where would they be able to relocate in order to escape the radioactivity?

E. Swanson

Ironically, if we could somehow transcend the nation-state-- escape its boundaries-- we may be able to surmount many challenges and dangers that face and await us. But we're running out of time.

I think we need to think and speak outside the box, where the box is the concept of the glorified prison that is the nation-state, with the management of nuclear waste as one of its metaphoric iron bars.

I can't help but think of the concept of proprietary software lock-in, in relation to the idea of nuclear waste and our dubious capacities to be able to deal with it in the future, and the possibility of it proving to be a kind of lock-in to centralised nation-state control. Forever.

And we may already be too late. Hopefully, nations will all choose not to go down the nuclear path.


Maybe they've remembered that lights can also be shut off.

And CH has a great deal of pumped hydro in their system.. they aren't in the dark yet.

Our phase-out is very cautious, befitting the Swiss :-)
The plan is to not build any new nuclear power plants, but to keep the old ones running for as long as possible (another 10-20 years). Up to Fukushima, it seemed likely that the old nukes would be replaced.

This is by no means disappointing, because current nuclear power generation is doomed anyway - it takes 10 years to build a new nuclear power plant, which could be operating for 60 years, but currently known Uranium reserves will be used up in 40 years at current usage level. If the Chinese decide for a massive buildup of nuclear power plants, that could be less, too. => It makes little sense to build a power plant which will run out of fuel.

People often respond by saying "Thorium" or "Breeders" - but these are unproved concepts as of today...

The Chinese are building a TMSR (thorium molten salt reactor) to prove the concept. They started in January 2011. The Indians are also working on a thorium fuel cycle. A new company was just formed in the US Flibe Energy to develop TMSRs. So now it is a race between solar power satellites and thorium fueled reactors.

Solar power sattelite farms was my teen age dream. But now as we see more and more of the space programs beeing dissmanteled that future is beeing thretened. And space programs are fuel intensive, those rockets don't run on air. I fear we may lose this tooljust as the technology gets mature.

Both uranium and thorium breeders are quite well explored. However, there is some work to be done to create full-scale, up-to-date designs and get economies of scale going. Any one of the GDP top-10 countries could do this.

However, the reason that it this not done very fast, is that the current nuclear technology is NOT doomed, as uranium is abundant. Actually, the known uranium reserves last us 80 years, and there will be no problem extending this 10-fold simply by exploring a bit more and allowing a bit higher uranium price. Also, reprocessing, increased burn-up and SILEX laser separation of U-235 could lead to another doubling of the available fuel.

You mean, any country like France (arguably the world's most nuclear-friendly nation) could build a breeder reactor? Like the Superphenix which they had to shut down due to enormous difficulties? The track record of the breeders is awful, and just because the Indians and Chinese want to try doesn't mean they will succeed!

Yes, of course France can do it if they decide to keep at it. And yes, of course China will succeed. This is simply rocket science, not science fiction. The basic mechanisms are well established and the core R&D has been performed. It's a matter of tuning now. Russia has been quite successful with its BN-600, btw, considering it's a prototype.

I find it quite nice that half a cup of abundant metal can provide an American with energy for his entire life (and not just his household energy, but his part of society's energy use).

This Obama chappie, the one you Americans elected?

He's a keeper. Maybe as a Briton you may say I have no say in the matter, fair enough. Maybe partisan politics your side of the pond are irreconcilable. Whatever.

But having just witnessed his visit to London and listened to him, he is most definitely a world-class Statesman.

Well played America. You've got a fine President.

Top Notch!

See, now you've got me scared, since sometimes you're really quite sarcastic.

I think he spoke well in England today, but of course, there are just things he's unable or as a rep of his party, unWILLING to do.. It's frustrating, but I don't lay all the problems at his feet personally.. it's a longstanding legacy, and turning that ship will take a lot of hands helping on the wheel.

He's certainly not the last guy.. even if the parties have some frightening similarities..

Nope, no sarcasm. Straight up.

He has more charisma in his little toe than the last guy you sent over to visit us!

Maybe he is more comfortable on the world stage, away from home. When he speaks about international issues he does appear to be fired up than the few times I have seen him speak to a domestic audience about, say, health care etc.

Very impressive. And a Gallup poll of Britons 'approval rating' gave him 77%.

Roadkill had more charisma than Bush Jnr.

Obama is clearly intelligent, and a steady hand on the wheel. Is he a good enough leader to confront the multiple crises overwhelming industrial society?


The thing is, I agree that he is good.. but 'Good Enough' is not a challenge for him alone to meet. NOONE now could do this alone and against the tides that have to be fought to move in the right directions. And yes, he's in politics, it's not a profession that is premised on pushing everything against the prevailing tides, it's 'the art of the possible', it's Sausage-making. He'll work with what he's got, but you can't build a brick-house if all you have is a pile of Wet Hemlock.

There is a 'Superman' image in our ancient Royalist Brains that thinks the Guy in the Big Chair should be moving mountains.. when we've clearly gotten into a situation where these mountains (of our own making) are going to take a concerted and broad effort.. and if it's not ready to move, no matter how much WE HERE think it 'should or must' be moved by the LEADER.. the BIG GUY, then where do you think he would come up with it?

At some point, you have to see that this just becomes a game of scapegoating, which is somewhat satisfying perhaps.. but ultimately is just another way of making excuses.

WE need to be making bricks, it seems to me. And maybe we'll get away with it, and maybe not.. but laying it on 'the system' is allowing ourselves to act as victims of 'the system'.

Thanks, HAc. He got my vote, though it seems that, like many of my countryfolk, I suffer from a "longage of expectations" (sorry Nate). While his Wall Street , central-banking slanted administration has many here frustrated, it may be a case of "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer".

What kind of fool would want to be Prez anyway?


I think its fair to say that Obama is more popular outside his country than inside. The guy is a great speaker, but he seems to have trouble making hard decisions - he is always seeking consensus, even when there is none to be had.

I often think he would make a great Secretary of State, if the Dems had someone better to be president - which they don't seem to.

Gallup has the country running 53% approve, 43% disapprove so my guess is that while Obama might be more popular outside the US he isn't doing too badly inside.

He's still getting hurt by the recession which started off his watch and from which we're recovering at about the same rate we've climbed back from other recessions. This one was really deep, so the recovery has taken longer.

As for hard decisions like tackling health care, going after bin Laden, and supporting the Libyan revolt seems like he was able to pull the trigger just fine.

And consensus, aren't you tired of the extreme partisan politics that we've had for the last decade or two? I'm sure ready to get back to courteous discussion and I'm glad that PBO is working to cool things down.

IMHO neither party has anyone capable of doing a better job at this point in time. Some others might have done about as good but to do more would require some mythical super-president, not a human being.

As for hard decisions like tackling health care, going after bin Laden, and supporting the Libyan revolt seems like he was able to pull the trigger just fine.

He didn't "tackle health care," he pushed through a fraudulent set of reforms written by and for the insurance industry, cutting back-room deals with Big Pharma and taking real reform like single-payer off the table before discussions even began.

I can't imagine why you think "going after bin Laden" was a hard decision. It was guaranteed to produce exactly the boost in popularity and approval that it has; everyone who knows anything about American culture would have predicted the cheering, chanting mobs. I guess you could mean that it was a hard decision because Obama had to struggle with his conscience over the ethical and legal questions surrounding targeted assassinations/extrajudicial killings... but you probably don't.

Obama did seem positively eager to support the Libyan revolt (in which, now, the military chief of the rebels is a long-time CIA associate who returned from Virginia to lead the fight), in contrast to his reaction to the popular rebellion in Egypt, the protests in Bahrain and Syria and the violent government responses, etc. Gosh, I wonder why the choice, in Libya, was so clear.

Please, everyone, face the truth: Barack Obama, like all candidates of both mainstream parties in the US, is a tool and agent of the corporate ruling class. Nobody not aligned with those interests could get even close to a nomination.

The new boss is the same as the old boss and, unless we find a way to make major structural changes in our one-dollar, one-vote system, the next boss will be exactly the same, also.

We had three basic health care issues which people wanted fixed.

1) People with pre-existing conditions could not get health insurance.
2) People who got seriously ill were being kicked off their policies via annual and lifetime caps.
3) Thirty million Americans could not afford health care insurance.

Health care reform was passed and the results are:
1) Fixed.
2) Fixed.
3) Fixed as the final parts of the new law come into play over the next two years.

Now, you might have some other ideas about how the job should be done but please be honest enough to recognize that the major goals were met.

What was accomplished was what could be accomplished at this point in time. Either work with the insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry or get nothing done.

No legislation springs full-born from the signing ceremony. Part of the recent health care bill fixed existing problems with Medicare which is a fifty year old bill.

Over the next many years we can fine tune and tweak the system. Perhaps we will decide that a single payer system would save us significant money and we can take that up later. In the meantime, the lives of tens of millions have been greatly improved, something that took a hundred years to accomplish.


Had the operation to capture/kill OBL failed then President Obama's chances of reelection would have been greatly diminished. Remember what happened to Carter when the choppers broke down in a dust storm?

Obama made the call. He took the chance and put his reputation on the line.


We put our politicians in a terrible position. In order to make change they must first be elected. In order to be elected they must raise immense amounts of cash. In order to raise immense amounts of cash they must turn to the people who have cash to give.

Fault us. We allow this crappy system to continue.

The "practical-incrementalism" apologia stopped sounding sane and sensible to me many decades ago. For a long time, now, it has always sounded like the same old B.S. excuse for things never changing, for always accepting the lame-ass phony liberalism of the near-right wing of our single-party system.

FWIW, I do fault "us" -- but I place "us" considerable lower on the list of malefactors than the greedy gangsters who run the system and the self-serving weenie stooges, like Obama, who knowingly sell their own souls, and our best interests, in the service of the masters.

You must have lived in a different America than the one I've lived in.

When I was young, in high school, blacks were not only second class citizens, they were treated more like animals. Women had almost no rights, certainly no life they could call their own.

To say that things never change is to be totally oblivious to the ways our country is now different than it was not all that long ago. Your position runs counter to history.

As for your statements about President Obama, I find them highly offensive.

I suspect you have not taken time to understand the man.

It has never been more obvious that America is an ossified dying empire with a suicidal inertia that no leader can stop. If Sarah Palin, Dennis Kucinich, or Hanna Montana were president, the system that the president pretends to run would still be bailing out banks, escalating wars, hiding atrocities , trying to control the world and generally chugging along to its ruin.

Non-change rules with an iron fist. Yes, the country has changed greatly over the decades - it's hard to stop the flow of history, as much as it's tried. And over the next few years, change will vomit all over us, much to our dismay.

IMHO the US is past peak. From here on we will sink a bit until we occupy a role in the world roughly the same as larger European countries. And our people will enjoy a similar quality of life.

We'll bail out banks, and manufacturers, because the cost of not doing so are even greater than the cost of letting the economy totally fail. But hopefully we've now killed the Reagan myth that regulation is evil. Or at least killed it for a generation or two.

We'll do a few nasty things to nasty people at least until we discover other ways to deal with the Gadhafis who spring up here and there.

Overall, life will likely be better for those who follow us than it has been for us and those who proceeded us. The diseases which threatened our lives have lost much of their ability to drive us to early graves. We've increased our knowledge base and communication ability to point unimaginable only a decade ago.

The ones who follow us will have to deal with a world in which more countries possess nuclear weapons, but not the extreme risk that we faced during the Cold War. And they'll need to be much more serious about climate change, but we might take care of a large part of the transition away from fossil fuels before they come of age.

To believe that our country is totally different now than it was when you and I were young is to believe in our national fantasy self-image rather than in reality.

Blacks in America, for instance, continue to be a despised, oppressed, permanent underclass. To think otherwise is to ignore the blindingly-obvious truth of the matter. It's laughable that you bring it up as an example of progress.

As for the status of women, your description of their pre-liberation condition is simplistic and overstated. You make no claims about advancement for that class of citizens, but I rather suspect that you would tend to overstate those, as well. In any case, poor women in America are little better off, in any meaningful way, than they were in the 40's and 50's. And they are much worse off than they were in the 60's and 70's.

To accuse me of holding a position "counter to history" is merely to demonstrate what a shallow and sketchy understanding of our history and current condition you possess yourself, apparently including history you have lived through.

Finally, trust me on this: You cannot possibly be more offended on behalf of Barack Obama than I am offended by him. He is a con artist who deceived and abandoned his base; a smooth-talking puppet of the corporate elite who has repeatedly betrayed the interests of a majority to benefit his bosses, the banksters; the leader of an assault on privacy, free speech and whistle-blowing that makes the Bush Gang's efforts pale in comparison; an active enemy of the Bill of Rights; and a war criminal. For that final reason, if for no other, he should be in prison, not in the White House.

Now, please don't misunderstand. Virtually every previous president has been equally guilty. Virtually anyone else who might attain the office would almost certainly be equally guilty, as well. The system, as it is presently structured, permits nothing else.

However, along with Justice Robert Jackson, I believe in the principles established at the Nuremberg Trials (you should read his opening statement, if you have not). One of those principles is that of individual responsibility. The fact that Obama is, effectively, "just following orders" doesn't absolve him of responsibility for his behavior.

Over the next many years we can fine tune and tweak the system.

With medical inflation at 15%-20% per year, I don't think we'll be given "many years" before we have a total collapse of the system. Nothing in Obamacare addresses rapidly rising short-term costs.

Obama made the call. He took the chance and put his reputation on the line.

Just my opinion but I think that had the operation failed, his supporters would have rightly touted his courage in finally doing SOMETHING to get the guy while his detractors would have just continued detracting. In other words, kind of a net-net. Way more upside potential than downside risk in my opinion.

We allow this crappy system to continue.

Well it has kind of gotten out of "our" hands a bit, no? I mean, the SCOTUS is not an elected body, and they gave corporations the vote with the Citizens United decision. In your health care passage, you said "No legislation springs full-born from the signing ceremony." Well, with regard to campaign reform, they aren't even TRYING to change the system, knowing full well that the vast majority of "us" are disgusted by it. If there was some legislation and things were at least moving, that would be one thing, but they are just laughing at us on this issue.

I mean, the SCOTUS is not an elected body, and they gave corporations the vote with the Citizens United decision.

Yep, and not just "the vote" but, rather, the equivalent of the one-dollar, one-vote power that the American ruling elite has always believed it should have. Permission for effectively unlimited campaign expenditures constitutes nothing less.

If there was any semblance of real democracy left in the higher levels of the U.S. system (I said if), Citizens United pretty much blew it away.

One more reason to focus efforts to deal with power-down at the community and local levels.

the equivalent of the one-dollar, one-vote power that the American ruling elite has always believed it should have

Think of it as returning to the lofty ideals upon which this country was founded -- one land owning (land being the source of all wealth) white male, one vote.

Perhaps you'd like to read through the provisions in the Affordable Care Act and learn about the multiple ways near term health care costs are being addressed.



You aren't really clear on who the "they" are when it comes to campaign reform. Perhaps you mean Congress?

If so, remember that the House is controlled by Republicans and that Democrats do not have enough votes to override Republican filibusters in the Senate. Until "we" return control to those who want to change the system the system will work against us.

People in the Middle East are getting into the streets and taking back their government. All we need to do is to show up at the ballot box.

I take it you are referring to this section?

Holding Insurance Companies Accountable for Unreasonable Rate Hikes. The law allows states that have, or plan to implement, measures that require insurance companies to justify their premium increases will be eligible for $250 million in new grants. Insurance companies with excessive or unjustified premium exchanges may not be able to participate in the new health insurance Exchanges in 2014.

I really really wish this will work, but I have to keep my skeptic hat on because who are the individuals who will comprise the bodies that review the justifications? Seems like the trend in all similar gov't. functions is that revolving-door persons will wield excessive influence and most/all increases will "pass muster". Really, how difficult would it be for multi-billion dollar companies to massage statistics and evidence and influence the decision-makers in the review process? Not very I'm afraid. The only solution is to provide a completely alternate system of competition, namely the Public Option.

All we need to do is to show up at the ballot box.

Well under normal circumstances, I'd have to agree with you. But really, in our current system, by the time we are at the ballot box, our choices have been pre-selected by big money, media, etc. And they don't even hide it! The big debates clearly and willfully exclude candidates all the time, it even happened in California's Governor race where 3rd party candidates were not allowed into the debates. So yes, it would be GREAT if more people voted, I think if we had good participation rates upwards of 80% or 90% it would make a difference, but as it stands now, we are so limited by an out-of-reach pre-selection process in which we are shut out of all decision making and debate-shaping.

Watching people still buy into the illusion is a drag. Late-stage capitalist imperialism, and all that it entails, is going to get weird.

The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

Frank Zappa

well said, kalliergo! KALLIERGO for President!!

(esp. the part about Bahrain - SHAMEFUL!!!!!! the ultimate in two-face hypocrisy)

I often think he would make a great Secretary of State

I pushed hard during the primaries for Obama over Hillary. Now I think it would (probably)have been better if the roles were reversed (which was not an unlikely outcome if H.C. had won the nomination). I think H.C. wouldn't have shied from taking on the liars, and BHO is a born ambassador.

Hilary is an attorney! The best place for her would have been Attorney General. I have to believe she'd have some Wall Street prosecutions by now.

Too bad in the end they were never able to fill the AG position at all, guess it will just be an empty chair for the next Administration to fill. Some no-name is just 'holding' the spot for now.

I've never understood why people think HRC is so tough and willing to take on liars. She put up with her lying jerk of a husband forever and she made a very cowardly vote on the Iraq war resolution.

Surely you jest.

Obama's an empty suit affirmative action nobody. He's a tool of the banks and of Empire. He doesn't have an original or creative thought in his head; he can only read speeches prepared by the beltway WASPs and Jews who adore him so. He's disappointed millions of his countrymen who wanted him to be different than Bush.

Obama's presidency possibly signals the end of America even more than his predecessor's.

You really have no idea how abysmally bad the last President was, do you?

Pres. Obama is a leader who doesn't try to act like a ruler, I suppose that makes him look weak around some parts but it is the job description for president of the US. We don't have a king around here, and presidents need to stop trying to usurp power that they aren't entitled to.

Oldman Sachs is a good example of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
On this side of the pond the media is agog over the endless gaffes of Obama aka the White House Janitor and of course the Queen hates Michelle.
If the Brits 'like' Obama, it's only because they are 'anti-American'(they hate Our Freedom).

I think it was quite readily apparent that the last pres was abysmally bad. I also think it's quite readily apparent that this one is different only in style, which perhaps makes him somewhat more dangerous. He's changed almost nothing in any substantial way, nor did I expect him to.

A president is a spokesman, a salesman. Their power stems from their ability to convince people of things, and there is no requirement for those things to be truthful. Most of what passes for communication are things like tone of voice, body language, key trigger phrases, etc., and if you turn off the TV and radio and only read the words and watch the actions you get a very different view. Basically, the original commenter in this thread was impressed by Obama's ability to read and present a speech written for him by others, to convince people that his authority is valid. Listening to Obama made him feel good. I don't watch or listen to him, so my view is different.

The President in particular is very much a figurehead – he wields no real power what-
soever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to
display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the
President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating charac-
ter. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. On those criteria
Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents the Galaxy has ever had –
he has already spent two of his ten Presidential years in prison for fraud. Very very few
people realize that the President and the Government have virtually no power at all, and
of these very few people only six know whence ultimate political power is wielded.

I read 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' as a kid. I thought, at the time I was reading it, that is was a work of fiction.

Obama's an empty suit affirmative action nobody. He's a tool of the banks and of Empire. He doesn't have an original or creative thought in his head; he can only read speeches prepared by the beltway WASPs and Jews who adore him so.

You did hear that he argued for Israel returning to the 1967 borders right? Doesn't exactly fit with you characterization.

No, what Obama is really good at is being the typical politician. As a good friend once told me, he's great at sitting on the edge of the bed and telling you how good its going to be. His performance has yet to live up to his rhetoric, however.

The great disappointment is that he really isn't leading the fight for what he wants, and has not made any attempt to get our budget in any semblance of order or balance. There have been no attempts by him or his party to cut government spending by cutting the military budget instead of alternative domestic spending.

No, Obama did not argue for Israel returning to the 1967 borders. That is not at all what he said needed to happen. He said that the '67 borders should be the starting place and from there a system of trading land should lead to the final form of the two countries.

PBO presided over the work needed to keep us from the Great Depression II.

He has given us universal health care, something that many tried to do for 100 years.

He has led the way for equal rights for gays.

He has cut military spending in addition to pushing to get the military off fossil fuels.

He is cleaning up the Iraq and Afghanistan messes the Bush administration left.

Damn, I'm not going to spend time writing stuff that you can read for yourself - here, read this...


Hey whait! Is the palestinians FOR a two state sulotion now? They have turned down every invitation yet so far and the arabs even started wars about it. Only Israel has been for the sugestion over the year. Has they chainged their minds lately?

Only Israel has been for the sugestion over the year.

Not true at all. Please review the long history of the discussions and the parties' positions over the years.

Exempli gratia:

How Not to Make Peace in the Middle East

Throughout the years, polls consistently showed respectable Israeli and Palestinian majorities in favor of a negotiated two-state settlement. The world held its breath awaiting a breakthrough, promising wholehearted support for a resolution. Even traditionally passive and cautious Saudi Arabia put forward the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, persuaded Arab and Islamic nations to sign onto it, and formally presented it to Israel via the Arab League. Yet throughout, regardless of set-up, content, or style, the outcome has been depressingly the same. The plans were greeted with violence, bewilderment, and, more recently, a yawn. Why would more of the same, even if more intense, more vigorous, and more sustained, produce a different outcome?

And a long list of citations at the Wikipedia entry, which will help get you started:

Two-state Solution

The population of both people are very tiered of this everlasting war wich just chnge temeprature but never realy end. It is quite simple; most people are not willing to make a sacrifice for a goal, they want to do as littleas possible while maintaing a good life. People of the ME is no different so if it was left to the citizens there would be peace rather soon. After all, once you realize you make more cash in peace than war, you become pacifistic very soon.

Then we have politicians. And I am sorry to tell you I don't recall any event where politicians are willing to make final peace with Israel. They did not take the two state offer in 1947 but started a war. Arrafat turnd down the offer of the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalm because it was not a deal sweet enough. This is historical facts, nomatter the amount of wiki-links you give me.

Jordan has peace with Israel. They have an agreement on the border they share and no need to war over it. Egypt also has peace but the president signng the deal was murderedas you know. That is the list. Syria has a standing offer; the Golan Hights for peace. For 20 years they have refused the offer.

He has given us universal health care, something that many tried to do for 100 years.

Really? Where is mine?

He has led the way for equal rights for gays.

He has? I was aware of no federal laws changing substantially on this. Don't ask, don't tell is a military policy which he could have changed any time he liked as CiC, no? Besides, you don't get points for doing what you are supposed to do or what is really easy to do. In fact, for gay rights all he has to do is make it clear there would be federal prosecutions of anyone denying rights to any citizen for any reason other than eligibility and gay marriage would be legal everywhere. While states have the right to regulate how one gets married, the right to marry comes from the Constitution and no state has any right to abridge that.

Last I checked, the Prez didn't support gay marriage.

There have been no attempts by him or his party to cut government spending by cutting the military budget instead of alternative domestic spending.

Of course not. That never happens.

Both parties represent the interests of the same class of owners. The main difference is that the Democrats pay modest lip service to the needs of the "little people," while the Republicans don't bother, preferring to distract the masses by encouraging one group of have-nots to see the others as enemies and the cause of their suffering.

Policy differences are mostly cosmetic, at best trivial. Foreign policy differences are almost nonexistent.


I am also a Brit like you, and a connoisseur of political speeches many of my friends call me a cynic, I like to refer too myself as a realist, I tend to judge them on a sliding scale from 1-10 depending of the form and content, little content and plenty of form score highest. I have yet to find any politician that have yet to reach to sublime heights of of this gentleman.


Deep Regards

Yorkshire Miner

Hac, I know that Nov 5th is a while off yet, but lighting the blue touch paper this early in the year?

You know that the colonies get all uppity about this sort of thing.

The United States has spent over one hundred billion dollars to try to create a capability to intercept the strategic ballistic missiles of first Russia, then China, and now those that North Korea and Iran may deploy in the future.

PDF: http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/TAB_StrategicMissileDefense.pdf


What have we gotten for this money?

A literal handful of missile interceptors and radars that might not be able to intercept even one crude rogue ICBM.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is almost like a fifth branch of the armed services...but no one notices...most Americans are too busy playing Nintendo and watching American Idol I suppose.

It is a good thing we are running a budget surplus and don't have any other useful things to spend money on...

What have we gotten for this money?

High paying jobs for defense analyst weenies. High and increasing dividends for defense firms. Surely not higher taxes, since we don't actually try to pay for goverment here, that would be too much of a burden on the upper one percent.

I was out earlier this evening changing some lamps at a client site. This was a relatively small job -- seventy-four 32-watt 835 T8 lamps replaced by 25-watt high performance 850s and forty-four 50-watt PAR20 halogens replaced by 7-watt LED PAR20s*.




Here we scooped up 20,735 kWh/yr in energy savings at an average cost of 1.14-cents per kWh when amortized over ten years. This also eliminates 17.2 tonnes of CO2(e), 114.9 kg/yr of SO2 and 33.8 kg/yr of NOx. Not bad for an hours worth of work.

We're also retrofitting twenty-four 400-watt metal halide fixtures in the petrol forecourt with 210-watt Philips MasterColour Elites driven by high efficiency electronic ballasts -- the client will receive the same amount of light for half as many watts; one-third longer lamp life; much better colour rendering (90+ CRI versus 65) with no discernible colour shift over the life of the lamp (< 200°K); and, vastly superior lumen maintenance (80% end-of-life lumens versus 45%). This will net us an additional 48,145 kWh a year in energy savings.

Upshot? This convenience store is less than two years old and yet there were still good savings opportunities to be found.


* These LED PAR20s have a rated life of 45,000 hours, eighteen times that of the halogens they replace.

Well done Paul!

Having complained the other week about the use of the "house" as an energy unit, and learning that the average American house is at about 10,000kWh/yr, I now have to point out that the 69,000kWh saved by this project is enough to provide the entire electricity needs of seven American houses. And taking into account the exchange rate, that is about 7.7 Canadian houses!

Another way of looking at it , is that is the expected annual electricity use of eighteen Nissan leafs.

While this a good project, it continues to amaze me that so many brand new buildings, designed by professionals (of some sort), are so energy inefficient when it comes to lighting (and heating, and water usage). I think the tendency to design what worked for them last time is hard to break. And the designer is not paying the electricity bills.

Least initial cost is a strong driver as well. You can turn any new building into crap by having a vague bid request and least-cost selection.

...it continues to amaze me that so many brand new buildings, designed by professionals (of some sort), are so energy inefficient...

Or, maybe the realization is sinking in that we use a whole lot more energy than was presumed could be provided by solar panels.

I am often surprised at the amount of lighting required for large warehouse spaces (and 'warehouse stores') which could have an enormous savings if only they'd built the roof and high-walls with daylighting in mind. A long bank of windows high on the North Wall with a simple mirror Louvre outside, and without the reflectors on the South Wall could add a terrific amount of light into the building.

Inertia does keep design flows pretty conservative.. but it's coming.

Hi Bob,

I can think of a couple of reasons why skylights are not commonly used in warehouses, one being security and the other the risk of water leaks. They're becoming a little more widely used in big box outlets (thankfully), but it's sometimes difficult to control glare and the cost of incorporating lighting controls and dimming ballasts to capitalize on them is quite high (dimming ballasts can set you back $100.00 a pop).

I audited a warehouse yesterday that's pretty much standard fair -- a combination of 400-watt metal halides and 2-lamp F96T12 industrials. This facility operates 24/7 and so the lights are never shut off.



I expect we can cut their energy usage by 150,000 kWh a year by converting them to high efficiency T8s.


Right. That's why I was playing with thoughts of Wall-based DayLighting.. I have a couple skylights in our house, and they can be trouble.. mainly the ones that are built to open, though.

In these cold regions, there's also the issue of the considerable Heat-Loss, while coming up with a set of fat shutters for each isn't exactly rocket science either.

Thanks, Paul.

I should have removed one of the diffusers to confirm this, but there are twenty refrigerator and freezer case strips at this location and they're most likely 65-watt F72T8HO. These T8 lamps are a big step up in terms of their performance and energy efficiency compared to older T10/T12 technology, but they've been since eclipsed by LEDs. We could theoretically replace these lamps with 15-watt LED strips and knock-off another 1,000-watts of lighting load; taking into consideration the corresponding reduction in refrigeration loads, we could potentially trim their usage by a further 11,000 to 12,000 kWh/year. I have to work out the economics on this, but I think it's doable.

We're currently working with another chain of gas retailers/convenience store operators that wants to revamp all of their outlets. I'm looking at the NS Power statement for one now -- their average daily usage is 1,049 kWh or 383,000 kWh a year. I hope to cut that by at least 100,000 kWh/year and perhaps by 150,000 kWh if all goes well.


1049 kWh/day - an average of 47kW! - Can see why you'd expect to find plenty of reductions there.

When we re-did the general store at the ski resort, we got rid of all the stand alone fridges and freezers, and put in one centralised system. All the individual units exhausted their heat into the store space - was like an oven in summer. The store operator had all these because they were provided for "free" by the product vendors, so he had never had the capital cost of a refrig, but putting the heat into the store space meant they were hopelessly inefficient. Also wilted the fresh produce!

We saw a 50% drop in the consumption after that. Also set up the venting so that in winter, some or all of the heat exhaust could go back into the store for space heating.

Worked out those "free" fridges were costing about $10k/yr in electricity!

[edit to add]
I did a back of the envelope analysis of the energy savings from those Hydro-Quebec triple element water heaters -adds up to some large numbers - equal to half of PEI's annual consumption!
have posted a little write up here

Thanks, Paul, for sharing this. It's a relatively simple and inexpensive "fix" that could make a big difference as you point out. I'm guessing perhaps 8 to 10 per cent of residential water heaters are replaced in any given year and H-Q could offer a direct-to-manufacturer or distributor rebate to cover off the additional cost and work with retailers to aggressively promote these products. You wouldn't have to wait long before you start to see tangible results.

If I recall correctly, 90 per cent of water heaters in New Brunswick are electric and most of these are leased through NB Power. NB Power is winter peaking and their highest demands generally occur between 08h00 and 09h00 in large part because of this sizeable load.

NB Power expected New Brunswick’s requirements for power will continue to rise over the next few days. In fact, it has experienced similar energy demands in the past. The record for peak electricity demand occurred in January 2004 when the utility generated an estimated 3,326 MW between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., compared to 1,600 MW on a peak summer day.

See: http://www.sackvilletribunepost.com/News/2011-01-25/article-2168815/NB-P...

NB Power could easily do the same and simply phase it in as existing tanks come due for replacement.

We touched on engineers earlier in the conversation and we often find ourselves rolling our eyes and biting our tongues when we get the engineering specs for new buildings. For example, one of my partners is working with a recreation centre where the engineers have specified one hundred and four 1,000-watt metal halide fixtures for a total connected load of 114.4 kW including ballasts. We can provide the same amount of light with an equal number of 12-lamp T5 fixtures at 68.6 kW, for a net savings of just over 45 kW. We come across this same thing time and time again.


With the energy savings that you demonstrate time and time again it amazes me that cutting energy use is deemed so difficult and leads to cutbacks. Again and again, huge saving, better lighting.



When the energy manager for this chain was pulling together the list of properties to audit, he was going to exclude anything built in the past five years. I clearly remember him telling me "they're new, don't bother". However, I had already stepped inside a few of these newer outlets and it was pretty clear to me that a number of things could be improved and at a very reasonable cost (e.g., replacing halogen track lighting with LEDs).

I have a hundred or so municipal facilities I have yet to audit, many of which (e.g., fire halls, police stations and maintenance garages) operate 24/7. There's enormous potential in just this one sector alone. I'm having a hard time keeping up with the workload.


Any tips for getting a lead into these sort of prospects? There is a huge quantity of inefficient, poor quality lighting down here and this is starting to sound interesting. In some ways I can't blame the installers as the available choice has been very bad up to the last few years, most workplaces being lit by single or dual 4' or 8' single pin T12s using a ballast the size of a house brick.

I guess the hard part would be getting people to put hard cash down for a saving over time. I must get a couple of 4' high efficiency tubes with an electronic ballast and put them into one of my work lights. 2 way switch for a quick comparison.



We're fortunate that a large chunk of our work is related to Efficiency Nova Scotia's Small Business Lighting Solutions programme. Under this programme, up to eighty per cent of all costs are paid for by ENSC and the remaining share can be repaid over twenty-four months, interest free, on the client's power bill. There's no cost nor obligation for a lighting audit; no upfront or out-of-pocket expense; we pull all the necessary permits; order the new equipment; install it; take away and recycle everything removed from service and properly dispose of any PCB ballasts; and guarantee all work for two years, i.e., should a lamp or ballast fail within the first two years of service, we'll replace it at no charge -- materials, labour and man lift if so required. It's a pretty compelling package and with electricity rates on the rise, a lot of folks are scrambling to sign up. [Seven days a week, we're removing several tens of thousands of kWh from the provincial grid.]

Although our primary focus is lighting, I look for other energy saving opportunities as well. For example, I recently audited a pharmacy and discovered that the store's ventilation fan was on a timer. As shown below, our clamp meter indicates that it draws 4.23 amps at 120-volts, or 508-watts. The store's hours vary through the week, however, the timer turns on the fan at 08h00 each morning and shuts it off at 22h00, and so it runs fourteen hours per day -- 5,096 hours a year which translates to be 2,589 kWh per annum.


We'll replace this mechanical timer with a 7-day electronic timer and have the fan come on a half-hour after the store opens each day and shut-off a half-hour before it closes, trimming the hours of operation to 3,614 hours per annum; a reduction in runtime of 1,482 hours for a direct savings of 753 kWh/year. Reducing the runtime by nearly 1,500 hours a year will also lower the client's heating and cooling costs by stopping conditioned air from being needlessly expelled from the building.

With regards to their outdoor signage, the combined loads is 17.8 amps at 120-volts, for a total of 2,136-watts. This load is also on a mechanical timer and it's intended to come on at dusk and shut off at midnight. As it turns out, the clock was not properly set and so the signs were coming on at 06h00 in the morning and not at 18h00 as had been intended, so they were running an additional twelve hours per day. This resulted in 25.6 kWh per day of wasted energy.

We'll replace this mechanical timer with an astronomical timer to prevent this type of mistake from happening again and to have the signs come on at precisely dusk each day as the various seasons progress, rather than rely on the timer being manually reset two or three times a year as is the case now. Assuming we can trim the hours of operation an average of one and a half to two hours per day (and that's a conservative estimate given how infrequently the timer is reset), we can expect to save 1,200 or more kWh per year. As an added bonus, both timers will have a 30-day battery backup so they won't go out of sync in the event of a power cut.

We'll also reuse one of the mechanical timers to lock out their electric water heater during store hours which will save the client over $600.00 a year in demand and energy as the result of their improved load factor.

The total cost of this work is less than $300.00, for which the client will pay no more than $60.00 and so the payback is under one month.


Thanks for the very full response. Much food for thought there. I had not heard of 'astronomical timers' before so I'll have to look in the suppliers here and see if they have any, I think it may puzzle them. Again, it appears so straight forward to make big inroads into power use and saving money at the same time. Even without and grants the last example would only move to a less than 5 month payback then it is more profit in the till.


One of the important secondary benefits of our work is improved cash flow. For every dollar the client repays over the first twenty-four months, they will typically receive two, three or more dollars back in energy savings. Then, after two years, they get to keep it all. Depending upon the margins, a retailer may need to sell $3,000.00 or $4,000.00 worth of product, say, to pay $1,000.00 in expenses, so every dollar counts. As you know, a lot of small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, and so it feels good to offer a service that can help make their operations more viable.

For a quick overview on astronomical timers for the home, see: http://www.dannylipford.com/video/leviton-astronomical-timer-for-your-home/


Unfortunately here it is cash up front so it may take a bit more persuading :( The timers are interesting as we get 2 seasons here, the rainy one we are warming up for and the dusty that is about to end in a spectacular manner. The dust plays havoc with the light detectors that need cleaning so an automagic system that doesn't need intervention sounds like a good move.


The average life of water heaters seems to be about 15 years, so the change out wouldn't take too long. Of course, implementing sensible ToU rates would help too. if they went to the mfrs and asked for a good deal to provide a Province worth of tanks, I'm sure they'd get one!

Unlike the debate about phasing out CFL's, there is no issue with the "quality" of hot water from these tanks.

What we did at the ski resort to help out with the "specifiers" problem was ask them to submit a detailed estimation of the operating cost of the building, and to sign off on it, so they could be held accountable if it was materially wrong. They submitted such an estimation, but wouldn't sign off on it, saying (correctly) that they could not control the behaviour of the building occupants. But the real purpose was to get their estimation, and then we could substitute in the numbers for the more efficient fixtures. The first time we did this, the resort electrician and myself went over the parkade lighting plans, in front of the elec/lighting engineer, and the client (who was actually the director of development for the resort, and was also my boss), and re-did it replacing his 8' T12 magnetic ballast lamps with 4 'T8 electronic, and laid out in a different pattern that gave better light and reduced wiring runs.

My boss did enjoy asking the elec eng why he was paying $100/hr for him to produce designs that were inferior to what the electrician and the "water and sewer guy" could come up with. His answer was that his system was cheaper to build, which it was, but the first 6 months of operating would eclipse the saving.

The elec eng asked why we were so anal about the electricity load/consumption, when most of his other clients aren't. We did point out that in addition to the operating costs, there is only one 25kv, 15km long, line coming into the resort, and the day we have to upgrade the capacity (the line and the substation serving it) was a $5m day, and he was bringing that day unneccesarily closer. He said that he had no idea - we agreed!

Hi Paul,

I've seen different numbers tossed about for electric water heaters -- fifteen years and more, but also as few as eight to ten (much of our water in Atlantic Canada is on the "hard" side and this takes its toll, obviously). Whatever the case may be, it's fair to say that the majority of water heaters currently in service will be replaced within the next ten to fifteen years.

I well appreciate your level of frustration. We were involved in the lighting design of one of the Canada Games venues and told the chief consulting engineer in no uncertain terms that what he had proposed would not meet the client's specifications. He didn't believe us and, sure enough, when officials completed their post-install inspection it was found to be deficient. So literally days before the events were to begin, we had to rush order and install additional fixtures which also required pulling new feeds and adding more low-voltage controls. When we asked the engineer who was going to pay for this, without saying a word he turned to the client who chimed up "we will".

I wish these folks would get it "right", but then a large chunk of our work is fixing other people's mistakes.


I wish these folks would get it "right", but then a large chunk of our work is fixing other people's mistakes.

Quite so, but it shouldn't be. The idea, of course, is to improve the overall efficiency of the community, building by building. I get quite some satisfaction out of a retrofit on an old building to bring it up to current best practice - something real has been achieved. I then find it extremely frustrating to see a new building not built to current best practice. Either it remains as built, wasting water and/or energy, or else you retrofit it, which means not only time and expense, but near new fixtures (which should never have been bought) are also being thrown away). In either case, it is diverting resources from the task of improving older buildings - so it is delaying the whole process.

The one advantage I had at the ski resort(s)is that the resort developers pay for all the infrastructure, so once we made them understand the true cost of inefficient water/energy use, they were then all over the development projects.

It is actually a real world case of there being "limits to growth" - sort of. The limits could theoretically be pushed out, but the cost increases so dramatically to do so (e.g. water desalination), that the only feasible option is to stay within them. So, the development plan became to identify all the limits, (useable land, water/sewer, energy, access, even telecom capacity and bridge load limits) and then get the most "development" while staying within them. Any farmer will be acutely aware of such limits, a few small towns and cities I know of have done thorough studies on this, but most have not.

In any case, there are many reasons, and no excuses, for not making the building efficient the first time around.

What the hell is going on at Fukushima Reactor 1?

Fukushima Reactor 1 Drywell Reading Hits All Time High 204 Sieverts/Hour

See ENENEWS for more details

Maybe the status "instrument failure" is accurate?

+10. Yes I think the instrument did fail. lol Funny how this story is backseat to sleeping air controllers. I guess when it goes boom, we will get another story in the papers. And then the Nukes are safer than _____________ will be back telling me my concern is hogwash. LOL

If it does you'll have your point, and I for one will concede it gracefully because if it does it will do some serious damage.

As of now there is much hand-wringing over a situation that wouldn't be making world news this far down the line if it were a chemical threat of ten times the actual impact.

Not that I expect that argument to matter to anyone who isn't already inclined to agree with me at this point.

What the hell is going on at Fukushima Reactor 1?

Oh, nothing...

Contamination 50 times safety limit, far higher than initial measurements — Also much higher levels of iodine than expected, indicating continued leakage

Other samples showed lower than expected concentrations of caesium, but much higher levels of iodine than expected, which raises serious concerns that contaminated water is continually leaking from the nuclear plant.

New leak feared at stricken Japan nuclear plant

The effort to regain control of the plant relies on pumping massive quantities of water to cool the three reactors that suffered meltdowns and storing the contaminated water in an improvised storage facility. Tepco officials said, however, that the water level in the storage facility had dropped, suggesting a leak.

Highly Contaminated Water Probably Leaking from the Central Waste Processing Facility at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

TEPCO thinks "there is a possibility that the 2nd floor of the basement in the building may have places that are not totally leak-proof, and the water is leaking from there into the corridor that connects to the other building of the [Central Waste Processing] Facility." If the leaks are found, the contaminated water there needs to be transported to somewhere else. However, the building that's been receiving the contaminated water from the Reactor 2 is almost full, and it will be hard to secure the space for the transfer.

Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 RPV, Reactor 3 Cooling Pipe Broke In the Earthquake, TEPCO Now Says

Today, TEPCO admits the Reactor 1's Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) may have broken right after the earthquake and the pipe connected to the High Pressure Coolant Injection system (HPCI) for the Reactor 3 probably also broke during the earthquake. (The article linked below doesn't say the piping is for the HPCI, but the earlier Mainichi Japanese article on May 25 says so.)

So much for the "tsunami did it" narrative that's been adopted by the government, TEPCO, and the nuke industry.

And so much for the "reactor will not break" myth cultivated by the nuke industry worldwide.

Still no one cares.

Angry Parents in Japan Confront Government Over Radiation Levels

But when the local authorities made no effort to decontaminate the area, caregivers took matters into their own hands. On the advice of local environmental groups — they said local officials had none to give — a group of parents and teachers donned makeshift protective suits and masks, took up spades and disposed of the playground’s topsoil.

After the topsoil removal, radioactive materials, which tend to be deposited in the soil, fell from about 30 times the levels naturally found in the environment to twice those levels.

It seems like Fukushima is likely to mess up the gene pool in Japan, also.

Nuclear radiation affects baby gender

... exposure to nuclear radiation leads to an increase in male births relative to female births, according to a new study by Hagen Scherb and Kristina Voigt from the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

•There was a significant jump of sex odds in Europe in the year 1987 following Chernobyl, whereas no such similar effect was seen in the US, which was less exposed to the consequences of the catastrophe.

•Among populations living in the proximity of nuclear facilities (within 35km or 22 miles), the sex odds also increased significantly in both Germany and Switzerland during the running periods of those facilities.

Scherb and Voigt conclude: "Our results contribute to disproving the established and prevailing belief that radiation-induced hereditary effects have yet to be detected in human populations. We find strong evidence of an enhanced impairment of humankind's genetic pool by artificial ionizing radiation."

You worry overmuch. We understand these things very well. There are no surprises. If it doesn't kill us in the first few weeks, it's safe. Truly. I'm quite certain the bees are just being willful and lazy, not even bothering to eat so they drop dead. Silly bugs.

I may be moving soon. I'm looking for spot near a nuclear plant for an unending, too-cheap-to-meter, safe, clean source of power that is near a good oil, coal or gas field so I can have cheap and safe NG as a back-up power source while also being near a good farming community with GMO corn so I can be sure it will be a safe supply of food and will have a good source of fertilizer from the gas fields. I also hope they are fracking because it should help loosen up the water flow in my well.

It's OK if it's isolated because I love to drive around in my SUV and really hate commuting. Neighbors suck, too, so all the better.

I know some people complain about all the chemicals and synthetics, but we're all going to be cyborgs, anyway; don't get the fuss. Evolution will allow us to adapt over time, so I figure I'm getting my synthetics built up for future generations.

As for climate, I'm not a denier, it's just that when you look at all we've done, the incredible things we've created, the idea we can't solve something like turning down the temperature is fantastical! You'd think people would have learned something from the last few hundred years of progress: The Earth is our bee-a-che!

Regarding electric cars (whether saying yes or no to them)...

Getting back to the dirty little secret. Existing and commercially available batteries simply can’t store that much electrical energy. If you wanted to run a 2,400Wh fan heater for an hour, the lead acid battery would weigh about 70kg! This shows the simple rule relating to lead acid batteries. Generally, the larger and heavier the lead acid battery, the more electrical energy that that battery can deliver. It may surprise some people to find that the lead acid batteries that I use in my house weigh in excess of 1,000kg. This weighs as much as a small car and their total electrical storage capacity when 100% full is only around 30kWh which an average household may use in about 1 to 2 days.

A Tesla Roadster (an electric vehicle recently released in Australia at a drive away price of over $200,000) according to Wikipedia will use about 17.4kWh to travel 100km. Admittedly, the vehicle uses advanced Lithium Polymer batteries, however this is almost half the storage capacity of my own system. If you think about how far you drive your own vehicle in a day, try and take this information and work out how much electrical energy you would require (174Wh per km). Then, have a second look at A Solar Powered Life – Part III and try and calculate how many solar panels you would require to power just your daily requirements. You can quickly see why oil derived products became the choice of fuels in motorised vehicles.

And then there're the issues surrounding the energy and materials required for civil engineering infrastructure, post-peak.

So why are we talking about electric cars?

The Nissan Leaf has a 22kWh battery that delivers a 75 mile range. Assuming a 5 hour solar day, one would need a 4.5kw PV array to provide a full daily recharge. At $3. per watt installed cost, this array would cost $13,500. and deliver a yearly range of 27,375 miles and would do so for 25 years, or 684,375 miles, or $.02 per mile. Seems like cheap gas to me.

The cost of the car is the real sticking point, not the panels. Energy secretary Chu thinks $20,000 electric cars with 350 mile range are possible by 2017. If he proves to be prophetic rather than deluded, the economics of electrics is very favorable.

It's not quite that simple...

For your solar system to collect power during the day, when the car is away from home, you either need a battery storage or a grid connection - which implies "storage" (by either hydro or fossil fuels) somewhere else.
If it is a stand alone with battery storage, you then need to add in that storage loss of about 20%, so your array is now a 5.5kW one.

Most importantly, where can you get a quality array, installed, with a good 5kW inverter etc, for $3/W - I'd like to see a link to that.

The cost of the car is not the only sticking point - it is also the 75 mile range. A 3/4 reduction in driving range is a big change from what people are used. They might have to get used to it in the future, but as long as there is the choice of an ICE car, the short range is a big negative.

Paul, of course it's overly simplified, and admittedly, $3. is a low ball price, based on what an engineer friend within the industry can do for me personally. So I am forecasting a bit into the cost curve of generally available price. He says that his installed system price, currently, ranges between $4. to $6. per watt, depending on the size of the array and other factors. Larger is cheaper. He says inverters and controls are about $1. per watt, panels at $2. per watt, and the balance is system design and labor. Even at $6. per watt, we're still only at $.04 per mile. That's still very cheap compared to gasoline. I should have used this price point to begin with.

The car battery is the storage. What practical reason dictates that the panels can't be near the cars during the day? Not enough rooftop space over warehouses, office buildings, factories and big box stores? Too much cost to have PV integrated car park covers? If my own rooftop panels are grid tied, what transmission losses have to be accounted? My car may be ten or twenty miles away from my panels, but my nearest neighbor's refrigerator isn't.

I also don't see the range as being as problematical as some make it out to be. People don't keep their gas tanks full all of the time. What would you guess is the average available range at this moment in the U.S. fleet based on tank content? Is it reasonable to assume that it is half of available capacity?

If the average car drives 15,000 miles per year, that's a daily average of 41 miles. Well below the 75 miles available with the Leaf, and every morning, the EV's tank is full. I don't hear the range complaint coming from people that actually own electric cars.

For those occasional times when one needs to exceed the daily range, trade cars with a friend or family member for a day or two. I doubt there will be a shortage of people willing to test drive an electric when given the chance.

I still see the cost of the car as the largest immediate hurdle. In my case, I would only need a 1.2kw array to provide for all of my domestic and transportation power needs, but no question I'm an outlier.

R - "I don't hear the range complaint coming from people that actually own electric cars". I would hope not: what type of idiot would buy a car that stops half way to his typical destination? LOL. And like you I'm pretty much an outlier on the other side of the fence: can't see an e-car ever being worth the investment. The answer will be finding enough folks who would fit the mold and try to get the infrastructure in place for them to make it happen. And I don't know if they would represent 10% of the population or 50%.

It's just a matter of battery costs and weight. Other than that, electric drive is superior in every way: maintenance costs, fuel costs, reliability, quietness, acceleration and tailpipe emissions.

I think it's just a matter of economies of scale and some maturity, and all-electric cars will be economically and functionally superior in significant segments. This will take 5-10 years to play out, but as with the initially expensive plasma/lcd technology, we know that it is fundamentally superior to the incumbent tech. It is a matter of Asians getting a few generations out the door while ramping production enough to satisify demand.

The Nissan Leaf sells for around $33k and the Ford Focus (gas) for around $20k.

Over the 12 year life of these cars the Leaf will cost you $3k less to drive (using $4/gallon gas and $0.1275/kWh electricity).

And that assumes that you'd pay almost 13 cents/kWh for power, which most won't. And assumes that gas rises no more than 4% per year, which few of us would be willing to assume.

That, in my book, makes the Leaf a better investment than a Focus.

Now, the Leaf is not a 'one size fits all' car. It's for people who don't do much long distance driving. We'll get the longer range EVs and rapid charge stations over the next few years.

My diesel car returns better than 90mpg (imperial) at a steady 55mph. If we assume diesel contains 10KWh/lire,
that works out at about 0.5KWh/mile.

A diesel engine - tank to wheels, is somewhere between 15-30% thermally efficient, probably nearer 15%.
so assume 20% - that equates to a mechanical load of 0.1KWh/mile. The Leaf has 22KWh battery. Assume 80%
efficient battery to wheel, gives a range of about 180 miles, if the leaf motor and batteries were fitted in my car.

A hypermiler recently returned an average mpg of 126 (imperial) 104 (US) whiles driving my model of car over 1200 miles.

Range depends dramatically on the road conditions and driving style.

-- And this as things wind down from a 'certain kind' of infinite-growth-modelled, oil-based economy. (Perhaps as a stop-gap measure on the way down?)

The car, itself, seems like another manifestation of BAU/excuse for a nation-state (centralization).

I'm also thinking roadway infrastructure; car manufacturing and shipping (how, from where, with what?); gridlock; parking lots; paving over potentially-productive fertile farmland; roadkill of valuable life (see Bolivia's recent laws); non-car-centric and more human-centric and efficient urban-design/planning; car noise (alarms, horns, screeching tires); car accidents (lives lost, health care costs, grief, etc.); danger to pedestrians/bikers; mining for materials for the cars (peak anything in there? Lithium? Toxics?); car-waste, usage of car (going down a couple of blocks for some bread at the corner store when you can walk?), and so forth, including the law of unintended consequences, some of which we should already know, very well, by now about the car... Maybe some of it could be described more as law of consequences known but ignored.

...That's probably why there's The Oil Drum; because we ignore things like peak oil, sometimes deliberately.

There's a lot more to a car than a car. Than a glorified living-room-on-wheels. And we have to ask ourselves those kinds of questions, if it's worth it, how it will affect our lives, etc.-- above and beyond the blindered stats/charts, such as on speed, mileage, charging-time etc.. WTF.

Any reference on those Bolivian laws?


Good on you to ask, because I feel this subject is crucial, since, without the integrity of our home, and its conscious pursuit, the way some might pursue the dollar or consumer goods, I suspect that we can pretty much kiss our asses goodbye.

Bravo, Bolivia.

Earth first is also the first ethic of the permaculture philosophy, along with many other philosophies apparently, including Native and Buddhist.

Law of the Rights of Mother Earth

...is a a two-part Bolivian environmental law, the shorter version of which (the Ley Corta or Short Law) was passed by Bolivia's Plurinational Legislative Assembly in December 2010.[1] The longer bill is scheduled to be considered by the Assembly in 2011. The short law was presented by president Evo Morales at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference...

The law enumerates seven specific rights to be enjoyed by Mother Earth, constituent ecosystems, and human systems:

* The right to life including the integrity of ecosystems and natural processes, and the necessary conditions for regeneration
* The right to biodiversity which should be preserved without genetic modification
* The right to water in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain life, protected from pollution
* The right to clean air
* The right to equilibrium through "maintain[ing] or restor[ing]] the interrelation, interdependence, complementarity, and functionality" of all parts of the Earth
* The right to restoration of ecosystems damaged by human activity
* The right to live free of pollution including toxic and radioactive waste

Some more good quotes:

"We're living at a dangerous moment because... 'empire', is in its last gasp, and empire, when it's in its last gasp will do anything to sustain itself... The US does not want to see the indigenous view of water, or natural gas, or oil, or resources in the ground to prevail... I was in a meeting of U'wa people who are fighting oil development in Colombia... and [the way] they talk about oil... [is] completely alien to the western development and corporate development model-- it just can't be understood even. So as a result, corporations, and US and prevailing western powers, don't think anything negative at all about going in and overpowering that if they can get away with it...

...you'd very rarely hear a non-indiginous person use the phrase like 'Mother Earth'... or that buys that idea... or that calls animals and trees brothers and sisters, but that's completely routine [to the indiginous]... that's what we need, of course, are some of those values for the present time..."
~ Jerry Mander, author, 'Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible'

"Consequently, resources that have traditionally been managed communally by local organizations have been enclosed or privatized. Ostensibly, this serves to "protect" such resources, but it ignores the pre-existing management, often appropriating resources and alienating indigenous (and frequently poor) populations. In effect, private or state use may result in worse outcomes than the previous management of commons."
~ Wikipedia, Tragedy of the Commons entry

"The Eden that Europeans described when they reached North America was not a wilderness, but a well-managed resource, a complex combination of nature and culture, ecology and economy, a system so subtle and effective that it eluded the settlers who saw only natural wealth free for the taking. The result of this land grab in North America is that only 2% of the land is now wild, its major rivers are polluted, its lakes have caught fire, and its forests are dying from the top down. The tragedy of this commons was that it never really was a commons after colonization, but was surrendered to plunder, privatization, and exploitation in the name of Manifest Destiny and progress."
-- http://www.intelligentagent.com

"To accumulate wealth, power, or land beyond one's needs in a limited world is to be truly immoral, be it as an individual, an institution, or a nation-state."
~ Bill Mollison,
from Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, second ed.

"Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten."
~ The Cree People

"...if we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. And people must see these forests and wilderness as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the universities, then we would lose nothing, but if we lose the forest, we lose everything."
~ Bill Mollison

Thank you, interesting. It seems to be a work in progress and in its early days. A lot of work to be done and the teeth not yet in place. I hope it does become effective though I am afraid I am a little sceptical as to whether it will follow through on the promise. Time will tell and we shall see but something like this is needed everywhere.


This is what I say every time someone says electric cars are an answer. They are not, as far as I can tell. Not even the beginnings of an answer. A waste of time, if you ask me.

Our biggest deficit isn't oil, either, it's time: http://www.news.com.au/national/climate-commissions-first-report-says-wa...

Thanks for posting the Bolivia thing again. I've posted it several times. It should be posted often to raise awareness that not acting is a choice. A bad choice.

Forget cars of any kind. Not a solution except for some very specialized uses or locations; too many resources in them.

Good to have another permaculture practitioner around. The reception is pretty chilly around here most of the time. Feel free to contact me.


It is bit of an over simplification - I think you do need to use a commercial cost for a solar system - not everyone knows someone.

What practical reason dictates that the panels can't be near the cars during the day?

Well, the main reason is that if you are the one buying the panels, then you are most likely to put them at home. if someone else is (the parkade owner, etc) then you are not doing the buying, so it doesn't matter - they are then just a part of "the grid".

the two stumbling blocks are the up front cost, and the range. Granted, there will be people for whom those two things are not a problem, but I'm guessing that is a minority.

In fact, people who buy cars , as opposed to trucks/suv/minivans are already in a minority, and many buy those cars because they can;t afford a bigger vehicle.

And the median cost of a Fiesta at $20k is not a good comparison. If someone is looking for cheap motoring, they have a choice of many cars, like the Kia/Hyundai, at around $10k, and if the drive less than average (which is more than half US drivers), then their fuel costs are lower still. Yes, their trips are more likely within the range of ev's but, then their fuel costs for the small, efficient ICE are dropping too.

And, if you are concerned about your job etc, going into debt on a $30k car is a bit risky, compared to a $10k one.

So, I would say that we need fuel to get much more expensive still before we see any real amount of ev sales. After all, in Europe, fuel is $8-10/gal and EV's have hardly stormed the beaches there.

Ask some owners..


Silver 2003. Purchased new from Cabe Toyota in Long Beach on 12.28.02. Driven 87 miles round trip from Rancho to Downey weekdays. Fills 95%+ of driving needs. 100,000 miles on 1/13/07. Batteries are still going strong! Installed a 7 kw solar system from EE Solar to power my house and car in 08.03. Use a portable charger to charge at work.

.. and while cars have their place (or need to have a somewhat DIFFERENT place than today,) Electric Transport has a broad range of varieties, with lots of ways to get much smaller.

Frenchman Rides Solar Electric Bike from France to Japan

So to me, the question is why are we just talking about EV's, and doing so little?

I was half-expecting to see a sealed recumbent with PV's all over its surface, looking like a jet fuselage with wheels, the kind that goes as fast as a car, but good on the guy. ;)

WikiLeaks: Saudis Often Warned U.S. About Oil Speculators:


The cumulative shortfall between what the Saudis would have (net) exported at their 2005 annual rate of 9.1 mbpd and what they actually delivered to the export market in 2006 to 2010 inclusive is close to two billions barrels of oil.

But of course, the Saudis claim that this shortfall is due to an inability to find buyers for all of their oil--even as annual oil prices for 2006 to 2010 have all exceeded the $57 level that we saw in 2005, with four of the five years showing year over year increases in oil prices. It's a little odd that countries showing rising net oil exports over the past five years have been able to find buyers for their oil, but that is a point that is not made in polite company.

Maybe crude oil buyers are afraid that Saudi crude oil has cooties* and they just don't want the stuff.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooties

Worst drought in 50 years along Yangtze:


Railway authorities in the province are accelerating coal transportation to coastal regions that have been facing power shortages partially caused by severe drought.

"Without adequate water, we lost the spring planting season for rice," said Zhou Xingtao, a farmer in Yandian village.

As the summer planting season approaches, farmers remain uncertain whether the occasionally pumped water will be sufficient.

Everything depends on rain, Zhou said.

With water conservancy facilities unable to provide enough water, farmers must pay high prices for irrigation, and this burden has forced some households to give up on this planting season, Zhou said.

In Hubei's Huanggang city, 3,800 kms of the city's 7,468 kms of irrigation channels are blocked, which means more than half of its farmland can't receive effective irrigation, Mayor Liu Xuerong said.


'GDP report: Economic growth still weak'

It's an interesting article to click on for the bar chart showing GDP in quarters starting with the 4th of 2008, which was
minus 6.8%! The first qtr. of 2011 is only 1.8% similar to the 2nd qtr of 2010.

On CNBC early AM yesterday, a guest was talking about the sluggish world economy and the CNBC moderater said, "Is it oil?" and the response was "Uh huh." That's it, with no further discussion about oil price. I found that interesting. Presumably that knowledge is omnipresent in investment circles, but on TV to the public the most they can do is utter a few words.

However, the point is obvious to TODsters, that high priced oil is holding back what would by historical measure be the usual torrid economic recovery of 5-6%. IMHO the bottleneck started pinching in sometime after peak plateau began in 05 and really pinched in 2008. What we are getting now is tepid economic activity. Just treading water. Should be interesting to see where things go from here - continue to tread, float a little higher or start sinking - hold on to your deck chairs the ship is listing.

There seem to be many more stories connecting oil to economic growth the past few months. I don't watch TV but I would guess they mention it quite a bit these days. An interesting change...

I don't watch TV but I would guess they mention it quite a bit these days. An interesting change...

They mention oil price along with other commodity prices, but on CNBC which is the business channel for stocks, bonds, etc., they are currently very guarded about saying much about the price of oil holding down the economy. Like the example I mentioned only a few words were evidently permissable. Probably not what their advertisers want to hear CNBC talk about.

I caught part of a story on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday about a company pushing a treatment that is supposed to rejuvenate old coal-bed methane wells. They inject some "nutrients" and perhaps the bacteria, and the bacteria are supposed to then generate new methane. The bit I heard did not say what the energy source is (to be used by the bacteria). Perhaps underground coal - but where would the hydrogen come from? Presumably water, and the residual oxygen combining with some more coal to power the process? They didn't mention any numbers (quantities, costs) but did quote somebody who said it's "huge" for the state of Wyoming. And said that this company is buying up old coal-bed NG wells in several states. Is there anything to this hype?

vt - I heard the story also but not enough details to evaluate. And it was some WY politician predicting great things. It's not difficult to make methane with bacteria....the Chinese have been doing it for at least 1,000 years. I'll look for the company's web site later but I would be skeptical. The company rep threw out $5,000 as a "treatment cost". If he had said $500,000 I wouldn't be as skeptical as I am right now. It can cost $5,000 - $30,000 just to set an old well up for a re-entry.

I'll get back to when I know what the heck I'm talking about.

I've been finding this case interesting, the gold industry taking on the Feds:

Bernard von NotHaus, creator of the Liberty Dollar, was convicted in March in federal court in North Carolina of three federal felonies related to his issuance of a private currency in gold and silver. The prosecutor claimed that the U.S. Constitution gives the U.S. government exclusive power to mint any type of coin or paper to be used as money. And though the Liberty Dollar coins were not imitations of U.S. coins, von NotHaus also was charged with counterfeiting and conspiracy.....

...The post-conviction press release of the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins, delivered a warning to all advocates of sound money and free markets: "Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism," Tompkins said. "While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country. We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government." ...

...The government's trial strategy appeared designed to confuse the Liberty Dollar operation with counterfeiting, and it raised a serious constitutional question. That is, while the Constitution grants Congress the power to coin money, is that power exclusive? The Constitution does not say that it is exclusive, and, indeed, there have been many private currencies in the United States over the years. (See Seth Lipsky's commentary on the Liberty Dollar case in The Wall Street Journal here: http://www.gata.org/node/9765.)

It seems that the Federal Reserve Note's status is being challenged in a number of ways. How would the SCOTUS rule on this one?

From the US Constitution, Article One, Section Eight (Enumerated powers):

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes....

....To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

Nothing said about States, indeed, individuals, coining their own money. Mining companies minted "tokens", essentially private currency. Bears watching.

Ghung - seems like the fundamental question is the definition of "money". A gold coin might look like money but it's just a round piece of metal. And I assume no one is selling the gold coin backing it up with a guaranteed value. So how would one of that guy's round pieces of stamped gold be any different than my wife's gold wedding band? I can sell either to anyone at any mutually agreeable price. And no one has fixed the price of either. In fact, how is his round piece of metal different that a frozen chicken. I can exchange that hen with anyone for a mutually agreed price. And no one has backed the value and legitimacy of my dead clucker.

In fact, how is his round piece of metal different that a frozen chicken.

I think its harder to counterfeit a frozen chicken.

That, and you can't eat a gold coin.

Paul - Well...I've never seen anyone eat a frozen chicken either. And I once had a rubber chicken I could probably fool you with if I froze it. And I could call my new currency a "henway". What's a henway you ask? Oh...about 3 or 4 lbs.


Money is what you can buy lunch with. Now a credit card is not money (It is instant debt.), but paper bills and good checks are money. In other words, money is currency, coin, and demand deposits (checking accounts). Nothing else is money.

Gold can be a store of value, but it fails the transactions test and thus is not money. Of course it used to be money, back in my father's day, but it isn't money any longer. Silver used to be money too, but that day passed in 1965. Shucks, for that matter, copper pennies used to be money, until the copper value went way above one cent.

The anti-counterfeiting statutes are pretty broadly drafted. If you mint coins or print currency and hold it out as money to be used for exchange, then you are a counterfeiter.

If you strike a 1 oz gold medallion with Ben Franklin on the front and a turkey on the back, and don't call it money, you are OK.

The gold industry is doing fine selling gold to jewelers, investors, and industry. They hardly need people striking counterfeit coins and issuing gold-backed currency.

The anti-counterfeiting statutes are pretty broadly drafted. If you mint coins or print currency and hold it out as money to be used for exchange, then you are a counterfeiter.

Not true. Not even remotely close to true.

Google "local currency" -- "Ithaca Hours" -- "BerkShares" -- and follow links provided.

Having been involved with some of these projects, and knowing the godfather of modern local currency movements pretty well, I can assure you that nobody at the relevant federal agencies (esp. Treasury) thinks they amount to "counterfeiting."

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 25 > § 485
§ 485. Coins or bars
Whoever falsely makes, forges, or counterfeits any coin or bar in resemblance or similitude of any coin of a denomination higher than 5 cents or any gold or silver bar coined or stamped at any mint or assay office of the United States, or in resemblance or similitude of any foreign gold or silver coin current in the United States or in actual use and circulation as money within the United States; or

Whoever passes, utters, publishes, sells, possesses, or brings into the United States any false, forged, or counterfeit coin or bar, knowing the same to be false, forged, or counterfeit, with intent to defraud any body politic or corporate, or any person, or attempts the commission of any offense described in this paragraph—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than fifteen years, or both.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 25 > § 486
§ 486. Uttering coins of gold, silver or other metal
Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title [1] or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Neither BerkShares nor Ithaca Hours are backed by metal. Nor do they hold themselves out to be replacing money.


Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new money or tracks transactions. These tasks are managed collectively by the network.

Saltspring Dollars

Salt Spring Dollars are a community currency issued by the Salt Spring Island Monetary Foundation on our island of 10,000 residents. It has nearly universal acceptance so tourists and locals can all enjoy using this novel and beautiful money...
Our Salt Spring money is accepted at par with Canadian dollars at all 3 national bank branches, our local credit union, and over 160 businesses throughout the island.
Salt Spring Dollars help drive island commerce and identity by boosting economic activity and encouraging tourism.

Fourth Corner Exchange(alternative money system)

If everybody knew the full facts about how money is issued, how it's put into circulation, who is issuing it, how they have power and control over the economy, and over individuals' lives, I think there'd be a lot of very unhappy people around.
~ Francis Ayley, Founder & President, Fourth Corner Exchange (alternative money system)

The Money Fix (documentary)

Money is at the intersection of nearly every aspect of modern life. Most of us take the monetary system for granted, but it has a profound and largely misunderstood influence on our lives. THE MONEY FIX is a feature-length documentary exploring our society’s relationship with the almighty dollar.
THE MONEY FIX examines economic patterning in both the human and the natural worlds, and through this lens we learn how we can empower ourselves by redesigning the lifeblood of the economy at the community level. The film documents three types of alternative money systems, all of which help solve economic problems for the communities in which they operate.

To take a stab at some laws, Merrill, or constitution or whatever they're called, I'd guess that if they were for and by the people, then anything that disagreed with them should be flatly rejected and transcended, as an imperative. Otherwise, for one, there's the risk of all kinds of unintended consequences.

I have seen those Salt Spring Dollars - a very successful idea. Officially, they are "gift certificates", for SaltSpring Island businesses, in complete compliance with the gov rules for such. They are issued by the Salt Spring IMF (Island Monetary Fund), and are accepted by all banks and businesses on the island - they even have their own armoured car for doing money transfers! The symbol is $$, two "S" and two "I"'s, which stands for "Salt Spring Island Issued"

But the smartest part of the plan was to get their local artists, including one of Canada's best, Robert Bateman, to design the notes. They are so good that when people go there, they try collect a complete set of notes and take them home to put on the wall. So they leave their real money there, to buy the notes, and the island doesn;t even have top sell them anything! Really, an interesting system to sell art, but people are willing to pay.

While on the topic of "other" currencies, Canada already has a second, nationwide currency, that is used in every province and territory. It is Canadian Tire Money, which, like the Saltspring Dollars, are "cash bonus coupons" issued by Canadian Tire Stores -for every $1 you spend, you get about 2c back in Cdn tire money.
Cdn Tire money has been around since 1958, and it is printed on the same paper as real Canadian money, at the same place - the Royal Canadian Mint!

CT money is a favourite for fundraising for charities and sports groups, and CT will redeem the money for cash for those groups. One pub in Calgary used to have "Canadian Tire Tuesday", where they would accept CT money for buying drinks and food, the owner then used that for buying all his maintenance supplies.

It has been estimated that 95% of Cdn taxis have Canadian Tire money in the glovebox.

So, really, I don;t know what the US govt's problem is - maybe they want to keep the right to mismanage currency all to themselves?

The power is most certainly not exclusive - In the first part of the 19th century, there was no national currency and most US banks actually printed their own money, until the National Banking Act of 1863 cleaned things up. From this Wikipedia description, of how things were, I think Rockman has been writing for Wikipedia;

For most of the nineteenth century, the American banking system consisted of groups of institutions called "wildcat" banks. These were state-chartered institutions, predominantly located in the West and South, that were known for lax lending policies and issuance of paper currency that was not backed by gold or silver. Holders of this paper could only redeem it (in exchange for specie) at the bank’s office. As each and every bank had its own currency, it was extremely difficult for currency to serve as a means of exchange for inter-regional parties. [1] The Second National Bank of the United States was created to regulate the wildcat banks by restraining the amount of currency these institutions could issue to the amount of gold and silver coin they held. When the Second National Bank’s charter expired, wildcat banks resumed unsound and unregulated lending. As Americans began to head West, these institutions began to issue more and more currency as a means of facilitating land speculation. This at-will adjustment of the money supply caused all forms of currency to fluctuate wildly in value.


The original National Banking Act (ch. 58, 12 Stat. 665; February 25, 1863) was originally known as the National Currency Act and was passed in the Senate by a narrow 23-21 vote. The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank’s level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally-issued paper out of circulation. [2]

So there it is - if the gov doesn't want people issuing their own money - then they can just tax them on it!

Fascinating history here;

One of the first attempts of the nation to issue a national currency came in the early days of the Civil War when Congress approved the issue of $150 million in national notes known as greenbacks. The government spent a significant amount of money on the war effort which, in turn, drew down its supply of coin. In response, the Legal Tender Act of 1862 was passed. This act mandated that paper money be issued and accepted in lieu of gold and silver coins. The bills were backed only by the national government’s promise to redeem them and their value was dependent on public confidence in the government as well as the ability of the government to give out specie in exchange for the bills in the future. Many thought this promise backing the bills was about as good as the green ink printed on one side, hence the name “greenbacks".

Sounds like nothing much has changed in 150 years!

From the link to the Legal tender Act

In 1798, Vice President Thomas Jefferson wrote that the federal government has no power “of making paper money or anything else a legal tender,” and he advocated a constitutional amendment to enforce this principle by denying the federal government the power to borrow.

Obviously, his amendment did not happen.

Companies can coin their own money as long as they call then "casino tokens". Von Nothaus' crime was that he called the coins "dollars" and implied they were minted by the US government.

Von NotHaus designed the Liberty Dollar currency in 1998 and the Liberty coins were marked with the dollar sign ($); the words dollar, USA, Liberty, Trust in God (instead of In God We Trust); and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coinage.

I think US states probably still retain residual rights to mint gold and silver coins, although they couldn't imply that the US federal government supports them, and therefore they are responsible for the consequences themselves. In addition, they would have to buy the gold and silver from somewhere - using what for money?

There is that whole potential for angry mobs to storm the state legislature and lynch the state politicians if the whole process goes very wrong, as it's likely to do given the financial accumen of the proponents. It's much easier to let the Federal Treasury Department worry about it.

Rocky - OK...I get it now. He was just an idiot. LOL

Has anybody tried this system of money lately, don't see how the feds could do anything about it.


Deep Regards

Exclusiveness might arise from the power to "regulate the value" since it is difficult to do that if they cannot regulate supply. Then again, they could regulate the supply of their money, but who would want it after it became either too rare or not rare enough?

Higher food, oil prices weigh on US economy

AFP - New data released this week suggested the US economy remains deep in the doldrums, frustrating Washington's efforts to kick-start industry and create jobs two years after the last recession ended.

Higher oil prices and rising costs for food appear to have retarded what was expected to be growing momentum in the country's private sector that would pick up the slack while federal and local governments slash spending.

Notable in the latest data was that consumer spending had been lower than originally understood -- a sign, analysts said, that high oil and food commodity prices were hitting shoppers' budgets for other things. Ian Shepherdson, US economist for High Frequency Economics, said the sharp rise in the price of oil has helped stifle job creation.

It isn't rocket science. The U.S. is very large and oil dependent. Our economy depends upon autos, trucks, and airplanes carrying people and cargo across long distances. So naturally, higher oil prices will weigh on our economy.

If the realization starts to set in, hopefully people begin to conserve. Which will be bad for GDP, which will frustate Weimar Ben's attempts to inflate to prosperity. Too bad, so sad.

Oil & Gas industry keen to recruit, hire retired military

Ever-increasing demand for oil and gas globally puts the industry in a labor predicament. Companies must act now to fill vacancies, retain knowledge and skills from a graying workforce, as well as position the industry to continue pushing technological boundaries.

Despite grim economic and jobs news in the media, the petroleum industry is hiring – and military personnel are a hot commodity.

“These transitioning servicemen and women are highly trained individuals with transferable skill sets that bring value to a global organization.”

In the energy industry, both enlisted personnel and officers are highly sought for their previous training and experiences with the military.

As time goes on, being able to handle an automatic weapon or mortar as well as a wrench may come in handy

S - Yes...some of us are rather multi-functional. LOL. But actually anyone with a solid background in electronics or just strong motor maintenance skills would make good worms in the oil patch. Just about every job in the oil patch is based upon on-the-job-training. A degree in geology or even petroleum engineering doesn't make you very useful for at least 4 or 5 yers.

From Chatham House: Russia's Energy Diplomacy

From the briefing paper: http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/19352_0511bp_lough.pdf

... It is fair to say that if Russia had not boosted its oil production from 2003, the global economy would not have been able to cope with the increased demand from the Asian economies.

This reflected recognition by the Russian leadership that it held an important card which no other country could match. The EU’s difficulty in finding a ‘single voice’ to deal with Russia on energy issues is testimony to Moscow’s diplomatic achievements.

... There are some grounds to believe that Gazprom has been reluctant to commit gas volumes from East Siberia to China for fear that they might be needed to backfill the gas supply system elsewhere in Russia.

... Aside from the effects of the gas crises between Russia and Ukraine, the EU has noted that Russian rhetoric is not always matched by reality. The idea of a ‘Gas OPEC’ occasionally trumpeted by Russia’s leaders was largely regarded as bluff. Similarly, Russian threats to divert gas from Europe to China if Europe would not clarify its demand requirements sounded empty for the obvious reason that Russia seemed to have doubts about the desirability of exporting large gas volumes to China and showed no signs of building the infrastructure to do so.

From IEA: Gas Security: Where do IEA Member Countries Stand?

Natural gas is of increasing importance in the energy mix of IEA Member countries. And yet this growing reliance on natural gas has been coupled with an increased risk of gas disruptions in recent years. Gas security is now an important policy concern for many IEA Member countries, and the IEA has sought to develop its expertise and analysis in this field.

This Working Paper looks at the possible remedies that are available for dealing with gas security concerns, and takes stock of developments in gas emergency policy in IEA Member countries.

Fig 1 pg 7 'Natural gas import dependence' is telling

Why don't they just frak some shale gas. Supposedly the EU has enough to cover all its needs, much like the US.

Why don't they just frak some shale gas.

Irritating isn't it, all the bragging rights that get bantered around regarding how much shale gas there is via fracking? If there is as much as they brag about, then by all means get that stuff to market and convert a percentage of the US gas vehicles to where there is a better balance on price for both NG & gasoline. Come on, you got, then now's the time to flaunt it.

A very recent report to government estimated the UK reserves of on-shore shale gas as equal to 18 months
national gas demand. No clear estimate of off-shore given. Has anyone drilled shale gas off shore?

18 months is worth drilling. A cure for our energy woes? no.

Explosions rock China in rare anti-government attack

The death toll rose to three Friday following a series of explosions a day earlier at government facilities in the eastern Chinese city of Fuzhou, local officials told CNN.

Looks like many more people are getting it about the nation-state and how, without serious democracy, it doesn't work.

In fact, it looks like the internet is mediating the rise of the neo-tribe. The first global tribe.

Industrial-strength mining-equipment equivalent of communications to crunch people up real tight and close almost as if they were around the same campfire.

Paradoxically, the net was apparently, in essence, borne of war.


Efficasync describes tools used by a more-general type of programmer called a ‘citizen,’ to write, update, and debug democracies. As mentioned above, this document uses many analogies to the world of computers and programming because of their utility in the domain of self-governance. In this vein, a group’s system of governance can be thought of as a computer’s operating system (OS.) Both an OS and a government have the ability to coordinate activity and delegate resources among the constituent parts of a system. As with all pieces of software, operating systems may be one of two varieties: open-source or close-source. Open-source operating systems allow every user direct access to their copy of the underlying code, so the user can examine and learn how the system works, and possibly fix problems or make improvements, which can then be shared with the group that uses the OS. Other systems, called close-source, restrict this access to an elite group of experts whose profession is to maintain the code. Efficasync was created in the former paradigm, and encourages the investigation of its code by every person affected by its code. It is the business and responsibility of every citizen to known and affect their government.

In effect, the nation-state and/or its government could be viewed as proprietary "black box" software. At its core, it is fundamentally undemocratic...
(I recall someone on here who speaks about some things in similar terms.)

It's time.